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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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^^^; Church should be fully exhibited to them^ so far
as it may be in our power. Not that we wish to
impose any of our ceremonies on them^ much less
to identify them with the English Church ; but a
model is necessary for them in their attempts at
reformation, and we know of none better than the
sober but dignified deportment of the Church to
which it is our privilege to belong."

Acknowledging the advantage of performing pub-
lic service in the language which the people under-
stood, the Metropolitan admitted^ that their Church
had no canon against translating into Malayalim
even their own Liturgy, except those prayers which
were peculiar to the priests, which must always be
read in Syriac. Many, if not all, the prayers, to the
translation of which they would object, are such
as it would even be desirable to preserve in Syriac;
for they are addressed chiefly to the Virgin Mary ;
and would tend to confirm the people in error,
rather than enlighten their minds and brighten the
flame of true devotion.

The missionaries, however, did not contemplate
interfering with the Syriac services ; and the Com-
mittee of the Society conveyed to them their decided
judgment, that the Syrians should be brought back
to their own ancient and primitive worship and disci-
pline, rather than be induced to adopt the Liturgy
and discipline of the English Church ; and that
should any considerations incline them to wish such
a measure, it would be highly expedient to dissuade
them from adopting it ; both for the preservation
of their individuality and entireness, and greater
consequent weight and usefulness as a Church ; and
also to prevent those jealousies and heart-burnings

In the conference with tlie author referred to above.

- IN INDIA : BOOlv XIII. 387

which would, m all probability, hereafter arise.^ At
jDresent, the cordiality subsisting between the
Syrians and the missionaries appeared to be com-
plete. No apprehension of interference was mani-
fested by the Bishop or any of his clergy ; and the
work of improvement seemed to be advancing with
the fairest prospect of ultimate success.

30. The second branch of the mission, the college College
and introductory schools, proceeded with equal pro- g^h^^is at
mise under Mr Fenn's superintendence. His first Cotym.
report of the college pupils will shew with what
encouragement he commenced his work. In 1820,
he wrote —

''The number of students is forty- two ; of whom
twenty- one have passed through the ^ve initiatory
ordinations. Their improvement has been toler-
ably good. Some can read Enghsh as well as the
generality of our own youths, and are making ad-
vances in the real knowledge of it. All have ac-
quired some knowledge of figures ; and some can
go through the first four rules of arithmetic, accord-
ing to our mode and in our language, with the
same readiness as youth at home. In Sanscrit and
Malayalim, the progress is fair. With regard to
the Syriac, we have hitherto refrained from any
interference in the mode of teaching ; but an altera-
tion is absolutely necessary : no grammar is taught ;
the progress is uncommonly slow ; and the know-
ledge acquired of no use beyond the simple transla-
tion of the parts of Scripture which have been
learnt ; as the best foundation of a change, we have
directed the attention of the most proficient student
to the study of the Latin language. Dr W^atts's
First and Second Catechisms for Children are among
the books which the students are learning ; and,

« C. M. S. Report, 20th, p. 179.


CHAP, though simple in themselves^ they contain what the
^^^' students have hitherto heen very ignorant of.

'' The Committee will be pleased to hear, that
the application of many of the students has been
very great. Many of them not more than twelve,
thirteen, or fourteen years old, were up till past
twelve o'clock of a night, learning the tasks assigned
them. We deemed it our duty to repress this

At the same time, the missionaries proposed the
establishment of three grammar schools, as intro-
ductory to the college, where the rudiments of the
English, Sanscrit, and Syriac languages should be
studied, together with the elementary principles of
science. Without such auxiliaries, it was obvious
that the college must always remain a mere school,
and the attention of its teachers be confined to the
incipient branches of learning. The Madras Cor-
responding Committee, concurring in this view of
the importance of such schools, agreed to commence
with the establishment of one at Cotym, by w^ay
of experiment. A competent English master was
obtained from Madras. It proved, as was expected,
a nursery to the college. For some time it was
under Mr Baker's charge, and two or three years
after it was opened, in 1824, it contained forty-five
scholars, whose progress in the acquirement of
English and Sanscrit had been steady. Two boys
had been sent out as schoolmasters, and thus the
school had begun to fulfil another important object
in its plan, besides training pupils for the college.
The boys were regularly instructed in religion, and
almost all of them had committed to memory our
Lord's Sermon on the Mount. They would have
learnt much more, Mr Baker remarked, but this
was all he had ready for them in their owai language.
The first class had also begun the book of Genesis ;
had read two of the gospels in English ; and the


greater part of the scholars were learning the Cate-
chisms of the Church, and Dr Watts's. In 1825, the
charge of this school devolved on Mr Fenn and his
assistants, Mr Baker being obliged to give it up in
consequence of the increase of the parochial schools.
In the mean time, the college had begun to at-
tain the object for which it was established. Mr
Fenn considered it of primary importance, in the
infancy of such an institution, to promote in his
pupils habits of study, reflection, and investiga-
tion, as well as to inspire them with a certain
degree of confidence in their own natural powers,
rather than to impart any particular quantity of
general information on any subject ; and he had
the satisfaction ere long of seeing his plan of educa-
tion beginning to succeed. In 1824, there were
fifty-one students, and their punctuality in attend-
ance and application to study bore testimony to
their desire for improvement. Thirty of them
were now learning Latin and EngHsh, besides
Syriac and Sanscrit, and he had it in contempla-
tion to introduce Greek. But his health was
beginning seriously to suffer through these exer-
tions, and it became necessary to obtain assistance.
In his appHcation for help, he remarked—'' What
comparison is there between the labour of instruct-
ing lads in our own country, of similar habits and
language and taste, and those who are dissimilar
in these and other respects from ourselves ? Be-
sides this, books are formed in England to our
hands — here, all is to be put into Malayalim."

31. Assistance was procured in India for the ^™^^^f
junior classes ; but Mr Fenn soon found it neces- p^ran!
sary to return to England, and applied for a mis-
sionary to reUeve him of his charge. In conse-
quence, the Society obtained the services of a
gentleman competent to the post, the Rev. John
William Doran, of Trhiity College, Dublin, who


CHAP, arrived at Cotym in April 1826. The college was
^^^' soon placed under his superintendence^, and Mr
Fenn embarked shortly after for Europe. In con-
sequence of a general disorder which had arisen
among the Syrians^, from circumstances soon to be
explained, several of the students had left the
college, and Mr Doran supplied their places with
boys from the grammar school. There were now
forty- eight students, from eight to twenty years of
age, divided into six classes. In April 1827, Mr
Doran sent home a full report of the studies of each
class, with the dispositions and progress of the
pupils. It would take us beyond the limits of the
present volume to enter into the particulars of this
communication ;^ but we may venture to give Mr
Doran' s concluding remarks : —

'^ In conclusion, I would say that the whole
establishment rises daily in my regard. If I know
myself (but who does ?), I feel more and more
wiUing hourly to spend and be spent in its service.
Give us only suitable help, and pray that the
Spirit may be poured out from on high upon us,
and I am convinced that this, even this, may
become as interesting a spot as the eye of the
Christian would wish to dwell upon in pagan India."
Schools 32. The estabhshment and superintendence of

s^ians schools for the whole Syrian community formed
the third department, which, as we have seen,
was placed under Mr Baker's charge. It was
wished and proposed, that wherever these schools
were established, the churches should wholly sup-
port them ; but, though the expense seldom ex-
ceeded five rupees a month, and the Metropolitan
issued orders to the clergy and elders of the dif-

^ It may be seen in the Misijionary Register for 1827, pp.
602, 603.



ferent parishes to pay the money out of the funds
of the Church, the people were not everywhere
wiUing to meet the expense. This reluctance
greatly disappointed the missionaries, and obliged
them to apply to the Madras Committee for as-
sistance to maintain a limited number of schools ;
and their application was granted for those parishes
whose resources there might be reason to believe
were inadequate to the support of their teachers.
In 1821, Mr Baker had succeeded in estabhshing
thirty-five schools, containing 806 pupils. No
more than thirteen of these were maintained by
the parishes themselves. There were yet many
places to which masters had not been appointed.
The difficulty of visiting the schools already esta-
blished as often as necessary was great, owing to
their distance from Cotym, some of them being
eighty miles to the north, others upwards of a hun-
dred to the south, and others being in the vicinity of
the mountains eastward, at places almost inacces-
sible, and much infested by wild beasts. In 1825,
there were forty-eight schools ; but several of
them being thinly attended, and in the failure^ of
contributions from some of the parishes to main-
tain them, it was found necessary, in 1826, to
reduce them to twenty-nine, which contained 770
scholars, of whom 445 were Syrians, and the re-
mainder heathens. The Scriptures, Catechisms,
and other religious books, were taught in these
schools. In several of them the attendance was good,
and Mr Baker reported favourably of the diligence
of the masters and the progress of the scholars.

33. A commencement was made also in female ^^^^^^J^
education. Mrs Bailey, from the first, had a few
girls under instruction in her own house, at her
own charge ; and, afterwards, Mrs Fenn and Mrs
Baker opened a school for the instruction of ten or
twelve girls. Mrs Baker subsequently received



CHAP, eighteen' 'into her house^ wishing to increase the
number to twentj-five^ and undertaking to boards
and lodge them under her o^vn eye, at a charge
not exceeding twenty-five rupees a month for the
whole. It were premature to state at this early
period the successful result of this little establish-
ment ; but we may give Mrs Baker's report of
her prospect in 1827. ^' All these children, ex-
cept two, are under twelve years of age, and had
scarcely learned an3rthing before they came. They
are now employed from morning till noon at their
needles, &c., and in the after part of the day at
their books. The first class read the responses of
the Liturgy, which we use at morning prayer,
and are regularly catechised and examined on the
Lord's day. Under the blessing of God, we have
some prospect before us of their turning out

•^ On this subject, Mr Doran thus expresses his sentiments : —
'* As it regards the practicability of educating the Syrian
females, I have only to point to a school which Mrs Baker
supports and instructs at her own charge. I never visit this
little establishment, and see the pretty little children engaged
in their equally useful and sacred employments, without
mingled feelings of thankfulness and pain — of thankfulness^
that even so much is doing; of pain, that so much is left
undone. Parents are now so satisfied that their female children
are deriving benefit from being under Mrs Baker's kind care,
that many of them are coming forward to solicit an entrance
for more. Mr Baker assures me that he might have a school
of eighty, had he but the means to support it. Here, tlien,
is a most promising and interesting channel through which
Christian benevolence and sympathy may move : the Christian
heart, which now beats responsive to the calls of Bengal
females, will not be insensible to the spiritual and intellectual
wants of Syro-Indian females. Christianity (alas ! falsely so
called) has done but little, if anything, for the Syrian women.
The marks of degradation are, I believe, equally apparent in
Syrian and heathen women. I need not say that female im-
provement ought to go hand in hand with that of man, if not


- . 34. We have mentioned Bishop Middleton s visits visu^s of
to the Syrians in 1816 and 1821, and the satisfac- Middieton
tion he expressed on the latter occasion at the ^y^jf^^j'.^j
missionaries' proceedings. They were visited by to the'
other friends also from time to time during the Syrians.
present decade, who, without exception, reported
favourably of the progress and prospects of the
mission.^ One of these was the Kev. Principal
Mill, of Bishop's College, Calcutta, who made a
tour of the coast in 1821, and we will give two^ or
three extracts from his report. After describing
the two divisions of the Syrian community — that
which continued faithful to the see of Antioch, and
that which still remained under ''forced subjection
to the see of Rome," he proceeds : —

''It is the former and happier division of this
singular people, to whom we look with the greatest
interest and hope, as those whose recovery and rise
to their early primitive character will, as we may
confidently expect, bring with it the emancipation
of the rest. From their venerable Metropolitan,
Mar Dionysius, who is exerting himself in various
ways for the improvement of his clergy and people,
I had the happiness of hearing very warm expres-
sions of respect and attachment to the Church of
England, and our late regretted Bishop, whose
interviews with himself and mutual presents he
evidently remembered with great satisfaction. I
received, both from him and several of his clergy,
copies of the New Testament and other works in
Syriac, which I hope, at no distant time, to deposit
in our College Library."

to precede it. In making these observations, I am but record-
ing the sentiments and feelings of our whole circle." — Church
Missionary Society's Keport, xxviii., pp. 98, 99.

= Missionary Register 1822, pp. 425-432; 1823, pp. 149-


CHAP. Mr Mill thus specaks of the Church missionaries
^^^' stationed among the Syrians : —

^^ The persons to whom I was chiefly indebted for
my intercourse both with the priests and laity of
this extraordinary people (of whose Indian language
I was wholly ignorant)^ were three clergymen of
the Church of England resident at Cotym, in Tra-
vancore, and actively employed in superintending
the college and the parochial schools ; the former
of which^ by the grant of the heathen government
of that country^ the latter, by the desire and con-
tribution of these Christians themselves, have been
recently established in their community. Singular
as such superintendence may appear, and almost
unprecedented, there is nothing in it, as exercised
by these clergymen, which opposes the order, either
of that Episcopal Church which they visit, or, as
far as I am capable of judging, of that to which
they themselves belong."

Of the considerate and candid spirit maintained
towards the Syrian Church by the missionaries,
Mr Mill thus speaks : —

^^ They do nothing but by the express sanction
of the Metropolitan consulting and employing them.
Their use of the Anglican service for themselves
and families at one of his chapels is agreeable to
the catholic practice of these Christians (who
allowed the same two hundred and fifty years ago
to the Portuguese priests, as to persons rightly and
canonically ordained, even while they were resist-
ing their usurpations), and is totally unconnected
with any purpose of obtruding even that liturgy
upon the Syrian Church ; while their conduct with
respect to those parts of the Syrian ritual and
practice, which all Protestants must condemn, is
that of silence ; which, without the appearance of
approval, leaves it to the gradual influence of the
knowledge now disseminating itself to undermine,


and at lengthy, by regular authority, to remove

35. But, in 1825, a cloud came over the fair Death of
prospect of the Syrian Church. On the 16th of Dionysius.
May it pleased God to remove the Metropolitan,
Mar Dionysius. The day before he was in his
usual health, and attended the funeral of a cattanar.
In the night he was attacked with the cholera
morbus, and died after a few hours' illness. His
predecessor. Mar Philoxenus, who lived in retire-
ment, was sent for, as there appeared to be cause
for alarm ; but he arrived too late, but was in time
for the funeral, and was greatly overcome by the
death of his friend. The event was most sincerely
felt and lamented by the missionaries also ; for
they had received much encouragement from the
deceased prelate, who entered cordially into their
plans and operations, and seemed to be anxious to
promote the interest of his Church.

On Sunday, the 26th of June, the Malpan Philip,
having been elected by lot after their manner, was
consecrated to the office of Metropolitan by Mar
Philoxenus. ^' Three persons were named, and
lots cast in the primitive manner of an appeal to
the will of God. For each person it appears that
two papers were written in the following form : —

If it be the will of God that A should be chosen, let this
paper come up —

If it be the will of God that A should not be chosen, let
this paper come up.

The first paper which was drawn was the nega-
tive paper of one of the other candidates ; the
second was the paper of Philip which established
him in the office."

' C. M. S. Report, 24th, p. 148. Missionary Register 1823,
p. 398.


CHAP. But the peace of the Church was soon disturbed,
^^^' and its unity broken, by a more serious occurrence.
For many years past, the Syrians had been accus-
tomed to receive^ from time to time, a visit from
some one appointed by the mother Church of An-
tioch, with which they were always desirous to
keep up their connection. These visitors had uni-
formly been received with due respect ; and, after
investigating the state of the churches, they returned
home to make their report to the patriarch. One
of these visitors arrived in 1825, Mar Athanasius,
who, when at Bombay, on his way to the south,
gave out that he was ^^ appointed by the patriarch
of Antioch to be Metropolitan of the Syrian church
on the Malabar coast." In this capacity he received
marked attention from the Bishop of Calcutta, who
was at Bombay at the same time, and from the
clergy and others. One of the chaplains, how-
ever, the Rev. Thomas Carr,^ in giving an account
of this visitor, remarked — '^ We cannot but feel
anxious, lest the measures now carrying on for the
benefit of the Syrian Church should be interrupted."^
What there was in the conduct of Athanasius to
give rise to these apprehensions, does not appear ;
but they were too soon realized. On his arrival
at Cochin, he waited on the British resident of
Travancore, Colonel Newall, to whom he gave a
similar account of his appointment over the Syrian
Church of Malabar. But the resident informed him
that the church had already two Metrans, acknow-
ledged by the government of Travancore, who cer-
tainly would not recognise the authority of any
other, especially of an unauthenticated stranger, to
the prejudice of those prelates ; and that he could

The present Bishop of Bombay, (1846).
C. M. S. Report, 26th, p 108.


only be allowed to pass into the interior on the
distinct understanding that he should not interfere
with them, nor do anything to disturb the harmony
of the Church, or the arrangements which the go-
vernment had always sanctioned. To these con-
ditions he gave a reluctant assent, finding that
there was no alternative f but he soon forgot them
after his arrival among the people. At first, he
met with a cordial welcome ; but on his assuming
uncontrolled authority over the Metrans, and the
whole Syrian Church, and commencing a series of
violent measures, with a view to support his pre-
tensions, all was thrown into commotion. Having
succeeded in gaining a party, headed by one of the
disappointed candidates at the late election of a
bishop, he endeavoured to persuade the cattanars
to renounce their allegiance to their Metrans ; de-
nied the validity of those prelates' title, and the
orders which they had conferred, and insisted, if
he were acknowledged, on their being stripped of
their robes, and resigning their cross and pastoral
staff. The missionaries were greatly distressed by
these proceedings ; yet they offered no other in-
terference than that of a friendly remonstrance,
warning him, at the same time, of the consequences
of his violence, should it become known to the Go-
vernment. But he would take no advice, and,
finding how much the people respected the mis-
sionaries, he told them he was sure they might
maintain him in his authority if they would. This,
however, they felt that they had no right to do ;
neither, on the other hand, did they use any influ-
ence with the Syrians to induce them to resist his
pretensions. At length, the tumult he excited was

^ His answer to the resident was — ''As T have no guns to
force my way, I must suhmit." This was mentioned to the
author when shortly after on the spot.




CHA P. BO great that the civil authorities were compelled
to interfere^ and to remove him from the country.
As nothing more was heard of him after he em-
barked^ it was generally believed that he perished
at sea ; but this report proved to be incorrect.^

This event^ as might be expected^ in some de-
gree affected the interests of the mission ; but; a
few months after^ Mr Bailey wrote — '^ The disturb-
ances caused in the Syrian Church by the arrival
of Athanasius have, in a great measure, subsided.
Some of the cattanars, who manifested a very re-
fractory spirit, have been fined by the Travancore
Government for disobedience to its orders, and
have been made to submit. The Metropolitan,
Mar Philoxenus, on whom the government of the
Syrian Church at present devolves, has summoned
these cattanars before him, and endeavoured to
bring them to a just sense of their improper con-
duct ; they have acknowledged their guilt, and
promised to obey the Metropolitan's instructions in
future ; I trust that, through the blessing of God,
the exertions of the Metropolitan to restore peace,
harmony, and brotherly love in his Church will be
crowned with success. He appears very desirous
to do all in his power for the good of his Church ;
but his present weak state of health prevents him
from exerting himself as he could wish. The late
disturbances have affected his nerves exceedingly ;
we were afraid, some time ago, that he would not
be able to resume the management of the affairs of
his Church ; but I am thankful to say that he is
now much better. The late trials appear to have
increased his confidence in us. I do not see how
we could have acted otherwise than we did, or

^ He was not heard of again till some years afterwards, when
he visited England.


have interfered less than we did ; though it may be
a general impression that we were^ in a great mea-
sure, instrumental in Athanasius being sent out
of the country^ I can positively state that we had
nothing Avhatever to do in it; the Travancore
government acted with entire independence of us,
and for the preservation of its own authority." ^

Mr Fenn had now returned to England, with

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 34 of 54)