James Hough.

The history of Christianity in India : from the commencement of the Christian era : second portion: comprising the history of protestant missions, 1706-1816 / by James Hough (Volume 5) online

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missionaries had been sent from Europe. Some of
them did not live to enter upon their labours, and
eighteen were now living, besides two professors, at
the Serampore College. It pleased God also to
raise up about thirty missionaries in India, either
European or born in the country, the greater part
of whom still survived, and were usefully employed.
It is not always stated in the Society's Reports to
what classes they belonged, but the}^ were generally
Indo-Britons, trained up in the mission schools, or
converted under the missionaries' teaching. The
useful part they acted in the several departments
of missionary labour presents a satisfactory view
of the importance of this class of the Indian popu-
lation, of the state of religion among them, and of
their capabilities for the best work. The number
of native teachers cannot be ascertained, but the

Malt. V. I .S.


CHAP, names of about fifty are mentioned, in the mis-
^^' sionaries' journals and correspondence, as distin-
guished for their piety, abilities, and exertions.
These numbers were very disproportionate to the
field they had to cultivate ; and while we admire
the energy which led them to occupy so wide a
sphere, it may serve to account for the paucity of
converts compared with the numerous inhabitants
of the country.^
Progress 64. The progrcss of education and other depart-

tfon^of ^" ments of the general work has been given above
the Scrip- in the account of the difierent stations. The ope-
^"'^'' rations of their press have been reserved for the
conclusion of this chapter ; but their great work,
the translation of the Scriptures, may be noticed
here. At the close of the last decade, it was stated
that the entire Bible in the extensive languages of
India, the New Testament in five languages, and
portions of the sacred volume in seventeen more,
had been published by the Serampore missionaries,
also that they had printed the New Testament in
seven other languages for the Bible Society. They
were likewise making preparations for translating
and publishing the Scriptures in several more of the
Indian dialects, some of which they had accom-
plished, others were in progress, and several which
they did not then contemplate, had been translated
by others and published at the Serampore press.
The following are the languages added, during the
present decade, to those formerly given : —

The Guzurattee, Oojein, Bundelkundee, Konouj
or Kanhukoobja, Jumboo, Koshul, Bhutaneer, Pali
or Magudha, Cingalese, Maldivian, Malay, Muni-

^ The Burman mission being now under the care of the
American Baptist Board of Missions, will be given in a separate


poora.^ The number of volumes containing the
whole or portions of the Scriptures in the oriental
languages, published at the Serampore press at the
close of the year 1826, amounted to one hundred
and eighty- one thousand and sixty-five.^

We cannot close this brief notice of the transla-
tions published at Serampore, better than with the
tribute paid to the abilities and industry of the
brethren by the learned author of " The Critical
Study of the Scriptures." He remarks, '^ In con-
cluding the preceding notice of the versions, exe-
cuted principally by the learned Baptist mission-
aries, and at their press, it is impossible not to
recognise the hand of God, who has raised up and
qualified them for the arduous task to which they
have devoted their time, money, and labour : for
though they have been nobly assisted by subscrip-
tions and grants from Europe f yet it ought not
to be forgotten, that they have largely contributed
to defray the expenses of translating and printing-
out of those profits, which their extraordinary ^''
acquirements have enabled them to realise. They
have translated and printed the whole sacred Scrip-
tures in five of the languages of India ; the whole
New Testament in fifteen others ; in six other lan-
guages it is more than half printed, and in ten
others considerable progress has been made in the

^ Specimens of these languages are given in the Eighth Me-
moir of the Translations.

^ At the close of 1832 the total had increased to two hun-
dred and twelve thousand five hundred and sixtj^-five volumes.
Vide Tenth Memoir of Translations, &c., pp. 58-Gl.

^ Liberal as these contributions were, they did not always
keep pace with the demand ; and it appears that at one time,
fourteen of the translations at first undertaken were discon-
tinued, principally through the inadequacy of funds to meet the
expenses. Seventh Memoir of Translations 1820. \>y>. 12. U».
Baptist Society's Report 1822, pp. 5, 6.




tion of
their cha-

work of translation. And these vast undertakings
have been accomplished within the short space of
thirty years, since the commencement of their
first version (the New Testament in Bengalee).
When we consider the experience which they have
gained — the number of learned natives whom they
have trained up and accustomed to the work of
translation — the assistance which is to be derived
from our countrymen in various parts of India, who
are acquainted with any of its dialects, and the
advantages now enjoyed for printing at a moderate
expense, we may reasonably indulge the hope that,
in the course of a few years more, the word of life
will be extant in all the different languages and
dialects of India." ^

65. But these works were not always judged
with equal candour. Some persons were unreason-
able enough to expect, or uncandid enough to pre-
tend to expect, the first translations to be perfect.
We have seen in the last decade, that the brethren
acknowledged their imperfection, and that they
used every means they could command to secure
accuracy in the first and every subsequent edition.^

^ Home's '' Introduction to the Critical Study of the Scrip-
tures/' vol. ii. p. 284.

^ In August 1818, they published an advertisement in the
" Friend of India," soliciting assistance for the accomplishment
of this object, from such oriental scholars as might be able to
afibrd it. In 1820, Mr Ward wrote a letter to a friend in Edin-
burgh, which was published in the Society's Keport for the
same year, Appendix I., in which he completely vindicated the
translations and other Avorks of himself and his brethren, against
the aspersions that had been heaped upon them. But it is un-
necessary, for the satisfaction of the ingenuous mind, to add
anything on this head to the evidence adduced in the last
chapter of this mission, sections 88 and 39. The subject has been
largely discussed, in all its bearings, in numerous pamphlets,
and in almost all the religious periodicals, from 1820 to 1826 :
and the substance of the whole is given in the text of the pre-
sent and tlie former chapter of this History.


Yet with all their defects^ proofs have been fre-
quently adduced above that they were intelligible,
and often made useful even to the heathen ; while
to the Christians and children in their schools^ they
were especially serviceable. In the Ninth Memoir
respecting the '^ Translations and Editions of the
Sacred Scriptures/' published in 1823, is given a
collection of testimonies to the accuracy of several
versions, from persons in India the most competent
to judge, ^both European and native. One of the
collection will suffice here. We take the first, and
it is a fair specimen of the whole. It is from the
chief Pundit in the Supreme Court of Fort William.
'' This translation of the Scriptures which has been
made into the Sanscrit language, mil be understood
with ease by all who really understand the San-
scrit language." A similar character is given in
the same Memoir of twenty other versions. In the
journals of missionaries of different societies, we
frequently meet with practical evidence to the same
effect, gathered incidentally from their intercourse
with natives of all castes : and it is hard to imagine
an unprejudiced mind rising from the investigation
of all this testimony, and yet continuing to speak
disparagingly of works so attested.

The translation and publication of religious tracts
continued to advance, as already seen above, through
the present decade ; also the publication of gram-
mars and other elementary works, in several lan-
guages, for the use of the schools. Some works of
oriental literature were published at the Serampore
press, translated or edited by the missionaries, or
the members of their fimilies. Some of these had
no immediate bearing on the progress of Christianity
in India ; yet while the works on European sciences
tended to enlarge and civihse the native mind,
those of Hindoo literature were serviceable to Euro-


CHAP, peans in the study of the languages, religion, and
customs of the country.

It may not be thought out of place to relate here the end of
Earn Mohun Roy, who created so lamentable an interruption to
the progress of the Grospel in Bengal. In 1831, he made a
voyage to England on business for the Rajah of Delhi. In
this country he moved among the middle and higher classes of
society, and every where awakened interest by his abilities
and urbanity. He professed to receive the Scriptures as of
authority to regulate his belief and conduct, yet rejected the
doctrines of Christ's divinity and atonement, and also the sanctifi-
cation of the Holy Spirit. He held personal merit to be the
sole ground of expecting future happiness. He died in Eng-
land in 1833, holding these opinions to the last. (Missionary
Register 1831, pp. 206, 207; 1833, p. 472).

In this melancholy case we have another proof of the insuffi-
ciency of the best informed mind to compass the simple doc-
trines of revelation, unaided by Divine grace, and it should
move us the more earnestly to seek, on behalf of the heathen,
that regenerating influence, which alone can prepare their
understandings for the humble and thankful reception of the
saving truths of the Gospel. (Section 7.)




Some ac-
count of

of the

1. The commencement of this mission, in 1807,
by the Serampore missionaries, and its subsequent the cha-
transfer to the American Baptist Society, have customT'^
already been recorded/ The eventful chapter on
which we are now entering may be appropriately
opened with a brief account of the singular people
and their customs who inhabit the kingdom of

The Burmans are Boodhists, or a nation of athe-
ists. They beUeve that existence involves in itself
the principles of misery and destruction ; conse-
quently, that there is no eternal God. The whole
universe, they say, is only destruction and repro-
duction. It therefore becomes a wise man to raise
his desires above all things that exist, and aspire
to Nigban, the state in which there is no exist-
ence. Rewards and punishments follow merito-
rious and sinful acts, agreeably to the nature of
things. Gaudaama, their last boodh, or deity, in

^ B. xi. c. ii. s. 22. Messrs Chater and Felix Carey began
the mission work in Burmah, and were joined in 1813 by Mr
Judson, who had visited Serampore on his way. He was fol-
lowed by other missionaries from America in 1816, and the
American Baptist Convention undertook this mission.


CHAP, consequence of meritorious acts^ arrived at that

L state of perfection which made him deserving of

annihilation^ which they esteem the supreme good.
His instructions are still in force^ and will continue
till the appearance of the next deity^ who is sup-
posed now to exist somewhere in embryo^ and who,
when he appears, as the most perfect of all beings,
will introduce a new dispensation.

In the empire of Burmah, it is the practice to pay
very extraordinary honours to a white elephant,
which is considered peculiarly sacred, lodged near
the palace, and attended with great devotion, even
by the monarch himself. The following account
of this singular custom ought to inspire deep com-
miseration for a whole empire sunk in such asto-
nishing stupidity, as thus to honour and reverence
a mere unconscious brute !

'^ The residence of the white elephant is con-
tiguous to the royal palace, with which it is con-
nected by a long open gallery, supported by
numerous rows of pillars. At the further end of
this gallery, a lofty curtain of black velvet, richly
embossed with gold, conceals the animal from the
eyes of the vulgar. Before this curtain the pre-
sents intended to be offered to him, consisting of
gold and silver muslins, broad cloths, otto of roses,
rose-water, Benares brocades, tea, &c. &c., were
displayed on carpets. After we had been made to
wait a short time, as is usual at the audiences of
the Burmese princes, the curtain was dra^\Ti up,
and discovered the august beast, of a small size,
the colour of sand, and very innocently playing
with his trunk, unconscious of the glory by which
he was surrounded ; the Burmans, at the same
time, bo^ving their heads to the ground. The
dwelling of the w^hite elephant is a lofty hall,
richly gilt from top to bottom, both inside and
outside, and supported by sixty-four pillars, thirty-

IN iXDiA : BOOK xur. 225

six of which are also richly gilt. His two fore-
feet were fastened by a thick silver chain to one
of these pillars^ his hind legs being secured by
ropes. His bedding consisted of a thick straw
mattrass, covered with the finest blue cloth^ over
which was spread another of softer materials,
covered with crimson silk. The animal has a re-
gular household, consisting of a woonghee, or chief
minister ; moondduk, or secretary of state ; sere-
ghee, or inferior secretary ; nakaun, or obtainer of
intelligence ; and other inferior ministers, who
were all present to receive us. Besides these, he
has other officers, who transact the business of
several estates that he possesses in various parts
of the country ; and an establishment of one thou-
sand men, including guards, servants, and other
attendants. His trappings are of extreme magni-
ficence, being all of gold, and the richest gold cloth,
thickly studded with large diamonds, pearls, sap-
phires, rubies, and other precious stones. His
betel box, spitting pot, and bangles, and the ves-
sels out of which he eats and drinks, are likewise
of gold, and inlaid with numerous precious stones.
On the curtain being drawn up, we were desired
to imitate the Burmese in their prostrations ; com-
pliance, however, was not insisted on. The white
elephant appeared to me to be a diseased animal,
whose colour had been changed by a species of

^^ These honours are said to be paid to the white
elephant, on account of an animal of this descrip-
tion being the last stage of many millions of trans-
migrations through which a soul passes previous to
entering Nigban, or Paradise ; or, according to the
Burmese doctrine, previous to her being absorbed
into the Divme essence, or rather altogether anni-
hilated. One of the king's titles is Lord of the
White, Red, and Mottled Elephants ; and, I am

VOL. V. p


CHAP, informed, the same distinction is shewn to those of
1_ the first mentioned colours by the Siamese.

^^ An elephant^ termed red^ was kept in a veran-
dah of the white elephant's residence ; but I could
perceive^ in his colour, little differing from that of
any other. The king was in the habit of paying
his respects to the white elephant every morning,
and of attending when he was taken to the river
to be washed, and he paid this beast the same ho-
nours as he received from his household." ^

The Burmans are a lively, industrious, and ener-
getic race, and farther advanced in civilisation than
most of the eastern nations. They are frank and
candid, and destitute of the pusillanimity which
characterises the Hindoos, and that revengeful
malignity which is a leading trait in the Malay
character. The passion of jealousy, which prompts
most eastern nations to immure their women and
surround them with guards, seems to have little
influence on the minds of the Burmans ; for their
wives and daughters have as free intercourse with
the other sex, as the rules of European society ad-
mit. The Burmans are extremely fond both of
poetry and music ; and their language has been
highly cultivated in composition, for they have
numerous works in religion, history, and science,
some of them written in the most flowing and
beautiful style ; and much ingenuity is manifested
in the construction of their stories. Some of their
men are powerful logicians, and take delight in
investigating new subjects.

All the boys in the empire are taught by the
priests, who are dependent for their support on the
contributions of the people ; but no attention is

^ From a travelling journal, quoted in the Missionary Re-
cord, vol. ii. pp. 139-141.


given to female education^ excepting in a few in-
stances in the higher classes of society.

2. Such were the people whose conversion to Encourag-
the faith of Christ was undertaken by Baptist mis- j^f^^^"^'
sionaries from America. At the close of the decade mentofthe
of the Baptist mission at Serampore ending in 1816, "^'^^^''"•
we left Messrs Judson and Hough living in retire-
ment in Burmah, and diligently employed in pre-
paring for future operations. Mr Judson had already
completed a summary of the Christian religion in
Burmese, which he published as a tract, besides a
grammar and dictionary of the same language. He
had also made great progress in the translation of
the Scriptures ; and in 1817, when the Gospel of
St Matthew was finished, Mr Hough commenced
printing an edition of eight hundred copies, as
introductory to a larger edition of the whole Testa-
ment. Mrs Judson also made herself very useful
in the mission, and was in the habit of meeting
between twenty and thirty females every Sunday,
to read and converse with them about the ^^ new
religion," as they called Christianity. Four or five
children, who were under instruction, had com-
mitted the catechism to memory, and often re-
peated it to each other. '^

3. When beginning from this promising com- Beginning
mencement to feel encouraged in their work, they sionanTs'^'
were suddenly checked by the serious illness of Mr troubles.
Judson, whose head and general health were much

^ Besides the Baptist Society's Reports and the Missionary
Herald, together with the Missionary Register, used in the last
chapter, we now refer to the Reports of the American Baptist
Board of Foreign Missions, and the American Baptist Magazine ;
to Mrs Judson's Account of the Burman Mission, and the New
York Missionary Herald ; to Dr Brown's History of Missions,
vol. ii. pp. 620, &c. ; and the Missionary Records, vol. ii.
c. vi.



CHAF. affected by close application to study. The subtle
and atheistical people around him also contributed
to increase his sufferings by their perverse disputa-
tions. The Burmese^ however barbarous in their
general manners, were proud of their intellectual
skill, and they harassed him unceasingly with
metaphysical discussions on the person and abstract
nature of God.^ At lengthy needing rest for his
body and mind, and finding none among this cavil-
ling people, he determined to leave home for a
sliort season, in hopes of returning to his work
with renovated strength. Accordingly he em-
barked for Chittagong, for the twofold purpose of
recruiting his health and endeavouring to prevail
upon one of the Arracanese converts to return with
him, and assist in communicating the Gospel to
the Burmans.

The time of his absence was '^ a dark period," as
Mrs Judson expressed it, '^ when the Burman mis-
sion seemed on the very verge of destruction ; " ^
but it pleased God mercifully to avert the peril,
not, however, without calling this admirable woman
to trials of heroic fortitude, which do honour to her
sex. For nearly three months she had received
no tidings of her husband, when a native boat
arrived, twelve days from Chittagong, bringing the

^ An anecdote may be related here to shew how acutely Mr
Judson felt this part of his trial. On one occasion, while resid-
ing with the Rev. Mr Thompson at Madras, and still suffering
much in his head, after conversing with his host about the
Burmese, he became fretted by the remembrance of their con-
duct, and exclaimed, with tears starting to his eyes, " Oh ! I
would give the world for one new argument for the Being of
God." (Mrs Judson's account, p. 130.) In referring to this
circumstance, Mr Thompson remarks to the author, " It was a
most affecting sight. Poor fellow ! he seemed almost over-

' Account, p. 112.


distressing intelligence that neither Mr Judson,
nor the vessel on which he sailed^ had been heard
of at that port.

Mrs Judson's anxiety on the receipt of these
tidings may well be imagined ; but she was not
left long in silence to distress herself with conjec-
turing wdiat had befallen her husband ; for two
or three days after, an order was issued for the
banishment of all Portuguese priests from the
country ; and Mr Hough received a command,
couched in the most menacing language, to appear
immediately at theCourt-House and give an account
of himself, under a pretended suspicion that he
was one of them. For two days he had been sub-
jected to a most harassing inquisition ; when, on the
third day, being Sunday, another message was
received from the Court-House for his attendance,
in the hope, as it afterwards appeared, of extorting
moneyfrom him. Mrs Judson nowadvised an appeal
to the Viceroy himself ; and Mr Hough, not being
sufficiently acquainted with the language to allow
of his going in person, she, in defiance of all cus-
tom and etiquette of the Court, resolved herself to
venture on the perilous undertaking. Taking with
her a petition, drawn up in the names of the
mission family, in which they complained espe-
cially of the intrusion upon them on their '' sacred
day," she boldly presented herself before the Vice-
roy, in company with Mr Hough. Extraordinary
as was the appearance of a female at his Court,
iio sooner did she catch his eye, than he called her
to come in and make known her request. On
hearing her petition read, he sharply expressed
his displeasure, to the very officer who had been
the chief agent in their annoyance, at the delay
which had been made in Mr Hough's examination.
He also gave a written order that he should not
be called on his '' sacred day ;" and when it was.


CHAP, known that he was not a Portuguese priest^ the
^' Viceroy gave command that he should be molested
no more.
Mission- 4. About tliis time the cholera morbus began to
per?ed!^' rage among the natives^ which was a fresh cause
of trouble to the mission family^ soon, however, to
be succeeded by one surpassing ail that had gone
before. A misunderstanding having arisen between
the British and Burman Governments, and a report
being spread abroad that the English were coming
to invade the country, the Burman authorities,
together with the whole population, became greatly
excited. All Rangoon was thrown into a savage
state of tumult ; no European life was safe. Im-
mediately the vessels on the coast got under weigh,
and when one only was left, Mr Hough, who had
for some time been desirous to quit, prevailed with
Mrs Judson to embark with him and his family
for Bengal. But she yielded to his entreaties with
great reluctance. Scarcely could she persuade her-
self, even now, that the cause was sufficient to
warrant her flight from a station to which she could
not doubt tliat God in his providence had called
her. Still she clung, too, to the hope that her
husband might return, and was agonized to think
what his distress of mind would be to find her gone
and the mission wholly forsaken. Nevertheless, if
it were right to go, this was the only oppor-
tunity of escape that remained. The danger of
continuing she saw was appalling ; at last she gave
way, yielded to her friends' solicitations, and went
on board with them. The vessel was some days
in going down the river ; and when on the point
of putting out to sea, the captain and officers ascer-
tained that it was in a dangerous state, in conse-
quence of having been improperly loaded, and must

Online LibraryJames HoughThe history of Christianity in India : from the commencement of the Christian era : second portion: comprising the history of protestant missions, 1706-1816 / by James Hough (Volume 5) → online text (page 21 of 54)