William Arthur.

A mission to the Mysore with scenes and facts illustrative of India, its people, and its religion online

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" A Mission to the Mysore " was Mr. Arthur's maiden
volume. It created an extraordinary interest at the
time of its publication, alike in the author's own
Church and in other Churches ; and it circulated widely
for a long period. Few volumes have done more to
stimulate missionary interest. I, for one, can never
forget the glamour which the book threw over me
when I first read it, more than thirty years ago ; and
now, having lived the greater part of that time in the
very region of which Mr. Arthur writes, I find as I
turn to it once more that it is yet a living book. Its
enthusiasm is still catching, its eloquence still attrac-
tive; and, judging it from a standpoint which was then
impossible to me, I own myself surprised at the range
and accuracy of its information, at its clear insight into
many problems, and at the validity of many of its
judgments. It is fifty-five years since the book was
first published, and, inevitably, that lapse of time has
changed the point of view in regard to many things
Indian; but on the whole there has been little to


correct in this volume, and the work of editing has
been in the main supplementary.

Fifty-five years ! They have been among the most
fateful years of India's history. Think of the changes
which they have wrought in her outside relationships.
England is now only a fortnight from her shores, and
each evening the cable tells her what of importance
all the rest of the world has done that day. India is
not any longer islanded from every other nation. The
whole world obtrudes itself upon her, mingles its
interests with hers, and compels her attention. Her
old aloofness has become impossible; her old disdain
could henceforth be only a silly anachronism. Within,
the changes have been still more impressive and
potential. The Mutiny first tested, and then con-
firmed, British supremacy ; the East India Company
has been superseded by the Crown ; railways and
telegraphs have been making for political unity and
a national sentiment; and education — inviting both
sexes and all classes, displacing ancient and venerable
fables in favour of history and modern science, and
provoking such literary activity as India has not often
known before — has set on foot a revolution.

Side by side with these momentous developments
there has been a steady but gradual extension of the
Christian propaganda. In Mr. Arthur's time the
number of Protestant missionaries in India was still


insignificant. To-day, though far from being sufficient,
they are ten times more than they were then ; while
the Indian preachers, few relatively, have become in
the aggregate a great company. With larger numbers
there has come better organisation, the friendly de-
limitation of areas, increasing concentration, and a
much greater variety of method. Christianity is not
only touching a vastly larger number of the people of
India than ever before, but it is touching their life at
far more numerous points. It reaches them through
their women ; it talks to them in their newspaper ; it
appeals to them in their sickness ; it invites them
through their industries ; it suggests relief for their
social wrongs ; and is striving with patient zeal and
growing success to encompass the whole round of their
interests by its gracious ministry.

Of the various missionary developments which have
taken place in India since Mr. Arthur's time, three
may perhaps be briefly indicated : —

(1) The first has reference to missionaries themselves
and their attitude towards the non-Christian systems
that confront them. Mr. Arthur's book reflects the
assumption which was prevalent in his time, and for a
long while after, that that which is outside Christianity
is wholly and hopelessly false. It was not unnatural
that such an assumption should express itself chiefly
in uncompromising criticism, and earnest, if pitying.


denunciation. Gradually, however, the method of
St. Paul at Athens has been impressing itself upon
Christian missionaries. They have come to apprehend
that God can never have left Himself anywhere without
witness, and that in Hinduism and such like systems
there is of a surety some, vital truth, however hidden
and entangled, the recognition of which is just and
necessary, and likely to afford the best approach to
the heathen man's intelligence and heart.

(2) The second development has been among Hindus-
of the most thoughtful and best educated type. In
many striking ways the conviction has begun to
express itself that somewhere in their system they
must find a Christ, or their system will stand finally

(3) The third development is among the Pariahs.
A great nation, that does not know its greatness, has
begun to stretch out its hands to Christ's messengers,
and to demand of them recognition, instruction, and
direction. In tins movement there are potentialities
transcending all common dreams. The Pariah cannot
emerge into manhood and freedom and knowledge
without becoming a force tliat shall move and mould
the thought and sentiment of the caste populations of.

Tlie Chureli of ('lirist is in truth only just fairly
embarked u]»on the task which awaits it in India.


The most difficult conditions meet it tliere — moral,
intellectual, and social, — and it has been mainly
occupied hitherto in apprehending those conditions,
and preparing itself for its enterprise. It has already
won results which, if not sensational, are substantial
and strategic. If individual conversions are less
numerous than devotion desires and enthusiasm anti-
cipates, they are nevertheless multiplying steadily and
with increasing rapidity ; while all the time the con-
version of India as apart from the individual — of its
standards, sentiments, and ideals — is proceeding with
sure and unhalting success. Not easily and not
quickly will India become Christian. If anywhere
enthusiasm needs to express itself in steadfast patience
and courageous hope, it is there. But the task which
the Master has committed to His Church in India, if
so difficult, is also so splendid that she cannot for very
shame shrink from any toil or sacrifice that may be
necessary to fulfil it. Everything which can stimulate
in Christian minds the sense of obligation in regard
to the evangelising of India has special value, alike
religious and imperial ; and it would be hard to suggest
a volume better calculated to do this than Arthur's
Mission to the Mysore. The pen that wrote it was the
same as that which wrote The Tongue of Fire, and
there is in this volume the same passion of devotion,
the same urgency of desire, the same spirituality of


toue as are to be found in that. The book by no
means exhausted its message in the generation to
which it was addressed. It has a message for the
Churches of to-day, and we may well expect that that
message will prove as impressive and compelling to
the Christians of this generation as it did to those
in whose day it was written.

The text of this volume remains unaltered, but the
spelling of all proper names, except the most familiar,
has been brought into accord with the system followed
by the Government of India. For the rest, the attempt
has been made in notes, which have been enclosed in
square brackets, so far to supplement the information
of the text as to give the book a present-day use and
worth. In compiling them, I have not been content
merely to draw upon my own experience and obser-
vation, but have consulted many authorities, both
European and native. It is hoped tluit in regard to
everything important due acknowledgment has been
made. In regard to two or three points, the Eev.
G. M. Cobban has kindly placed at my disposal his
knowledge of Tamil and the Tamil country ; and the
Secretaries of the Church ]\Iissionary and London
Missionary Societies very courteously supplied me with
some of their latest statistics. I trust that this reissue
of Mr. Arthur's book will uKain do much to stimulate


and develop the missionary zeal of the Churches of this
land, and that it may prove in various ways of special
service to many young men and women, who shall
henceforth be designated for mission work in our great
Eastern Empire.



The following pages, prepared with the hope of con-
tributing, in some humhle way, towaixl circulating
information with regard to India, and promoting an
interest in its welfare, were communicated to the
Weslcyan Methodist Magazine. Hundreds of persons
who read them in that periodical have requested that
they should be separately published, and a respectable
New York journal has deemed them worthy of re-
production. To these encouragements, and not to any
previous resolution, is due their appearance in the
present form.

The reader should be apprised that, as the views
of Hindu mind and manners he will here find were
formed through familiar intercourse with the people
of a district remote from any European station, they
will probably differ in some points from those of
writers who have resided only in the Presidencies or
other centres of English influence. It should also be
remembered that India is so vast a region, that a trait


prominent in tlie character of one Hindu nation may
be faint, or even imdiscoverable, in another.

In extenuation of defects beyond those incident to a
first attempt at authorship, all the usual pleas might
be urged with more than usual truth. But apologies
would neither enrich the matter nor improve the style ;
and where neglect may reasonably be apprehended, it
would 1)6 gratuitous to raise a shield against criticism.
With whatever success, the writer has desired through-
out to avoid equally the extreme of those who, from a
culpable prejudice, exaggerate every blemish of Hindu
society, overlooking every grace, and the more tempting
extreme of those who, from a generous prejudice,
exaggerate every grace, overlooking every blemish. To
give fair representations, and to promote good ends,
has been honestly meant, and the attempt is humbly
commended to the blessing of God.



Introduction v

Preface xiii

The Voyage 1

Madras 25

The Journey "Up Country ' . .... 63

Bangalore 117

My Circuit Ifil

Our Work 202




India: What Is It ? 265

India : Its People 287


India : Its Religion 368

The Return 449






On the afternoon of Sunday, April 14, 1839, the "holy
and beautiful house " at City Road was thronged with a
devout multitude, met for the purpose of commending to
the Lord of the harvest four labourers for His field in the
East. It was the Centenary year ; and the Rev. Thomas
Jackson, then President of the Conference, wdio conducted
the service, diifused through it the intiuence of that special
unction wherewith the Head of the Church had endowed
him for the duties of that memorable time : this, with
Dr. Hamaah's touching and appropriate counsels, the mighty
supplications of Dr. Bunting, the fervent response of that
Christian assembly, and the emotions raised by the surrender
of every early endearment, and the entrance on untold
responsibilities, conspired to make it an hour never to be
forgotten by the departing missionaries. Often since, when
ministering in the same sanctuary, have I longed to recall
the very feelings of that day of dedication.

The following morning, in company with Messrs. Square-
bridge, Garrett, and Pope, I embarked at Gravesend on the
Essex, Captain Foord, bound for iSIadras. The secretaries
of the Missionary Society had accompanied us on board,
where, assembling in one of our cabins, Mr. Hoole and



Dr. Bunting earnestly implored on our voyage and mission
the blessing of that God in whose name we were going forth.
The latter then addressed us in a few sentences of counsel,
blending an indescribable fatherliness with his characteristic
wisdom. The thoughts of the moment made our hearts
tender ; and the impression of those last kind words was
deep and enduring. They then took their leave ; my eye
followed them till no longer discernible, and then turned to
the Friend who " forsaketh never."

Time was when a voyage to the East commanded some
such interest as will await the journal of Mr. Green's first
aijrial voyage across the Atlantic ; but, living in less favoured
days, we must be content to proceed on our way accom-
panied only by such as may be attracted by sympathy with
our object, or who will deign to fill up a vacant hour by
listening to our tale. We found the Ussex, a line new
ship of nearly eight hundred tons, well officered, manned,
and provisioned. There were about fifteen passengers,
for whom the accommodations were good and the fare
sumptuous. About one hundred and fifty recruits for the
service of the East India Company occupied one apartment
between decks, their hammocks being suspended by cords
of dilierent lengths, so as to form tiers one above another ;
thus they slept, and that they managed to exist in the warm
weather of the tropics was wonderful. In all other respects
they were well provided for. The sjxxcious poop, being
free from hencoops, which usually encumber that locality,
served the passengers fur an agreeable promenade. At the
]jow was a similar erection, called by the sailors " a top-
gallant forecastle," under which a multitude of geese, ducks,
fowls, and guinea-fowls were })acked into coops " as closely
as bottles in a rack " ; here also a cow and calf had a com-
fortable berth. In the space between the fore and main
masts stood the capacious long-boat, serving, I'or the time,
as a sheep-fold, while underneath it a number of pigs were
closely penned. Everything gave indication of plenty ;


and on a long voyage tliore is not a more welcome ship-

A foul wind prevailing for some days, we were detained
off Deal in company with a numerous fleet, which, weighing
anchor simultaneously, gave us the gratification to see our
own vessel outsail all the others, the last being one of tlie
American line of packets, which had a considerable advan-
tage in starting. This triumph completely established the
Essex, not only in the confidence but in the affections of her
crew. For it is just as impossible for a sailor not to invest
his ship with personal attributes as it is to traverse a noble
picture-gallery and not forget that those eloquent groups,
which stir in turn every feeling of your nature, are them-
selves devoid of emotion as the air around them. Basil
Hall tells us that the men of the Leander were in the habit
of saying the old ship " could do anything but speak " ; and
I well remember with what emphasis our boatswain ex-
claimed, after we had cast anchor in ^Madras Eoads, " She
has done beautiful ! " Thus, too often, our seamen, when
brought to " their desired haven," praise their ship and
forget their God.

Daring our first Sabbath at sea we were " beating down
Channel " in a thick fog, which so occupied all hands as to
prevent an assembly for public worship ; but we had service
twice in one of our own cabins. On the second, the Atlantic
was tossing us on its majestic waves in such a way as to
render a deck service impossible, and accordingly we assem-
bled in the cuddy. On the third we were sailing before a
mild breeze, with the sea smooth and the sky bright ; so
orders were issued that all should " prepare for church."
A few minutes before the time, the ship's bell commenced
to ring exactly like the " churchgoing bell " of a village
Sabbath. This was unexpected, and brought crowding
before the mind many a memory of the past, and with
them those emotions which only they can know who have
proved the susceptibilities awakened in the heart by long


distance from all who are dear, added to the uncertainty
of reunion. Above we found the larboard quarter-deck
occupied by the seamen sitting on temporary benches, and
presenting in their beautifully clean clothes a pleasing con-
trast to their ordinary appearance ; on the opposite side
stood the soldiers, rank and file, each man furnished with
a Bible and prayer-book ; the officers and passengers were
seated upon chairs. The capstan was the pulpit, the British
ensign its drapery. A congregation so picturesque I have
never seen, and seldom one more attentive. These services
were continued every Sunday throughout the voyage ; on
deck, when the weather permitted, and, when too boisterous,
in the cuddy, each of the missionaries officiating in turn.
Our opportunities of doing good among the soldiers were
restricted to visiting the sick and conversing with those
Avhose attention we could engage on such occasions. We
found amongst them two or three who had known some-
thing of the grace of God, whom we brought to our weekly
class-meetings, and, when practicable, to our morning and
evening prayer. Christian fellowship is always sweet ; but
it was doubly so when, far from sanctuaries, we weekly met
on the deep to recount the mercies of our God, and to look
forward with prayerful hope to the toils which lay before
us. Beside our regular class-meetings and " family prayer,"
as we called it, we two or three times joined, with a few who
were devout, in commemorating the Saviour's death.

After having struggled to the mouth of the Channel, we
were favoured with a fair breeze, which never failed till it
had carried us within tlie inlluence of the north-east trade-
wind. The ])ay of Jjiscay gave us a vigorous tossing, which
caused abundance of sea-sickness, and ludicrous accidents at
the dinner-table. In six days after clearing the Channel,
Madeira came in view, at the distance of about twenty miles ;
reminding me in its appearance of Clare Island, as it stretches
across the month of the incomparable Clew Bay, sheltering
its hundreds of islets from the ocean, as of yore it screened


the armaments of Graiiua Uile from her Saxon foes. From
this point the climate perceptibly changed, the breeze became
balmy, the sky cloudless, the sun fervid. Shoals of porpoises
occasionally gambolled round the ship, seeming to take delight
in racing Avith the gigantic intruder on their home. It is
hard to find a more vivacious exhibition than they display,
as they dart along the side, round the stern, before the bows,
now under their comrades, now over their backs ; as intent
on progress and sport at the same time as the children of a
village school just let loose for dinner. Occasionally, also,
"we saw the interesting little nautilus spreading its graceful
sail, as confident in the care of Him who " holdeth the winds
in His fist " as if that sail propelled a fleet on which the
hopes of a nation were attent. Our wake was often followed
by the symmetrical and many-hued dolphin, some of which
were made to increase the variety of our cuddy table. As
we advanced, shoals of flying-fish were seen to rise upon the
wing, and, after a brief airing, return to their native tide. It
seemed very plain that they took flight, not from any danger,
but from the impulse given by the Creator to all His works,
to develop every power with which they are endowed.

While sailing in this beautiful region, a soldier became
dangerously ill. To afford him more air he was carried on
deck, where it formed a strange contrast to the ordinary
gloom of a sick-chamber, to see the bright sunbeams dancing
not only on ever}"^ object round the poor invalid, but on the
very features which death Avas blanching. He had been a
man of good character, much respected among his comrades,
and manifested deep feeling when spoken to on his religious
state. His prayers for mercy were fervent and touching ;
and, ofl'ering those prayers, he died. This called us to wit-
ness that scene which is always described as so melancholy
— a funeral at sea. It is certainly affecting — affecting from
its own solemnity, and perhaps still more so from the contrast
it presents to all you have been wont to witness. You have
death without any of those attendant forms with which it


seems so naturally to harmonise. There is no sable bier ; no
dark train moving slowly on a sad errand ; no passing from
common ground within the hallowed enclosure consecrated to
the memory of the dead, to the hope of the resurrection ; no
grave before you yawning for its prey ; none of the objects
in which the eye usually recognises Death. All his retinue
is wanting ; but himself is there, and his presence is the
more startling because of the everyday and lifelike character
of surrounding appearances. The body, wrapped in the
hammock it had been wont to occupy, was carried to the side
of the ship, and laid on a plank so placed as to incline toward
the v/ater. Around this thronged a numerous group, every
countenance wearing the impress of thought and tenderness.
During the reading of the solemn service, the reckless look of
the young recruit gave way to one of deep emotion ; the
hardy visage of tlie seaman relaxed, and his eye swam ; every
spectator shared and manifested that " undefined and sudden
thrill" which the nearness of death does not fail to inspire.
The words " AVe therefore commit liis body " were not
followed by the usual thrice-repeated hollow sound which
rises from the grave as the decree of separation between the
living and the dead ; but at those words the inner end of the
plank, on which rested the corpse, being raised, it glided
slowly into the deep blue wave that was heaving below.

" One sullen plunge, and the scene is o'er ;
The sea rolls on, as it rolled before."

In the case of another man, and also of a soldier's child, this
sad ceremony was twice lepeated during the voyage, willi the
same circumstances, except that in the last-named instance
the melancholy silence usually following the " sullen plunge "
was broken by a mother's grief.

We were now fairly in tlie tropics. The weather had
become extremely hot, but an awning pleasantly shaded the
poop ; here the passengers were usually to be found, either
in study or promenade ; these occupations lieing sometimes


vaiied l)y a game of leap-frog or a lu.sty romp. One day,
while I lay stretched on the dock reading, the man at the
wheel cried out, " A school o' whales ! " Havhig never seen
a whale, I started np in great haste, but, placing my foot on
a round stick, left there by the sailmaker, came down again
with greater, receiving such an impression on the protuberant
joints of one side as served to remind me of my first sight
of a whale for a week after. The "school" (shoal) proved
to consist of several grampuses and one immense whale,
which the sailors averred was as long as the ship ; but that,
being about one hundred and forty feet, seemed rather
improbable. We saw him fill and blow several times ; which
operation very much resembles the first puffs of steam from a
locomotive engine just starting.

The marine scenery of the tropics exceeded in splendour
and variety all my anticipations. During the day the sky
formed a superb dome of stainless and polished azure ; while,
lighted from above by its one magnificent lamp, it constituted
an object passing beyond the beautiful to the highest order
of the sublime. At evening those two features of scenery
were displayed in a combination scarcely attainable in any
other field of nature. ^Vs the sun sank to the ocean, heavy
clouds gathered about him, like sorrows round a deathbed.
r>ut as the soul that is departing in faith makes pain, feeble-

Online LibraryWilliam ArthurA mission to the Mysore with scenes and facts illustrative of India, its people, and its religion → online text (page 1 of 42)