Page images

never did a train of events less deserve to be ranked as mere coincidences. If any further proof were necessary, we might point to the fact that the state of Gwalior, in proclaiming Suttee penal, expressly cited as its authority the edict from Jypore ; while nearly every abolitionist sovereign assigned as the grounds of his adhesion the very arguments that had obtained the Jypore high-priest's sanction. The recognition of Major Ludlow's services by his own immediate superior was hearty : • The last Political Agent,' wrote Colonel Sutherland to the Government, ' was, I believe, as little prepared for the abolition of Suttee at Jypore as I was on my return to that capital in May, 1846; and it is almost exclusively to Major Ludlow's influence that we are indebted for the first promulgation of the law prohibiting Suttee in a Hindoo principality' Major Ludlow's aids were, a superior utterly incapable of petty jealousies, and ready to abandon his own anti-abolitionist views directly abolition appeared possible ; a variety of British officers residing at other native courts, eager to forward the good work when once begun; a Governor-General capable of appreciating the lustre which such an achievement would cast on an administration already bright with military glories; and last, not least, a Court of Directors ever prompt in the recognition of great services.

Our narrative is concluded. It would be a strangely superficial view that saw in it nothing but a skilful series of measures by which a certain annual saving of female life has been effected, to the gain of Eastern morality, and to the credit of the chief actor. The great fact it teaches is, that the Hindoo mind is capable of advance even in the department where its immobility has been deemed most absolutetraditionary faith.

More than threescore years have passed since Burke thus described our Indian Empire :

• With us, are no retributory superstitions by which a foundation of charity compensates through ages to the poor for the rapine and injustice of a day. With us no pride erects stately monuments, which repair the mischiefs that pride had produced, and which adorn a country out of its own spoils. England has erected no churches, no hospitals, no palaces, no schools. England has built no bridges, made no high roads, cut no navigations, dug out no reservoirs. Every other conqueror of every other description has left some monument either of state or beneficence behind him. Were we to be driven out of India this day, nothing would remain to tell that it had been possessed, during the inglorious period of our dominion, by anything better than the ourang-outang or the tiger.'

Doubtless when this eloquent invective was uttered many of

Governor-General's Agent for Rajpootána, 1lth September, 1847.


the 'monuments’ desiderated by the orator were due at our hands; and great and valuable have been the efforts since made in recognition of the debt. But Burke himself did not dream of moral memorials, of records traced in the faith and customs of the people. It may be questioned, indeed, whether he did not hold them superfluous. This multitude of men,'he said of the natives of India on the same occasion does not consist of an abject and barbarous populace, but a people for ages civilized and cultivated-cultivated by all the arts of polished life whilst we were in the woods.' There, in truth, has lain the difficulty of their making any further advance. It was this very polish—a polish of luxury rather than of civilizationa polish of surface incompatible with growth-that, like the glittering cement encasing the Pyramids, preserved the primeval institutions of Hindustan through twenty centuries of rapine and subjection, proof alike to the whirling wastes of barbarism and the keen assaults of Western intellect. It was the inveterate complacency, sprung from this very idea that they possessed most of the arts of peace when the rest of mankind were in the woods, which had convinced them that nothing remained to add to their mental stores, and that to arrange and adorn their existing materials was for ever their only duty. Nay, so absolute was this state of optimism that no one custom or tenet was held less indisputably excellent than another, for all derived their importance from the common sanction of antiquity. A change in à Hindoo's food or his faith, in his poojah or his porridge, was equally odious to him-equally a reflection on the infallibility of his forefathers,-to question which were indeed confusion worse than death.'

That the semibarbarous conquerors from northern Asia, whose retributory superstitions' Burke has eulogised, should have been able to break into so compact a system, was not, perhaps, to be expected. India rather influenced them than they India, and, like a voluptuous mistress, enervated each in turn-till he resigned her to some hardier captor. But even the European invaders who were saved from such a fate, if by no other cause, by this, that their physical constitution precluded them from settling on the soil—even they, with all the energy which a constant recruiting of the governing class from the West has secured to their respective dynasties, had never, until the period of our narrative, broken one of the links in the ancient chain of Hindoo dustoor. The distressing failures of our own missionaries are notorious. • How,' wrote the zealous but truthful Henry Martin, after more than a year's fruitless labour on that impracticable soil

• How

“How shall it ever be possible to convince a Hindoo or Brahmin of anything? .... Truly if ever I see a Hindoo a real believer in Jesus, I shall see something more nearly approaching the resurrection of a dead body than anything I have yet seen. This last week a Brahmin came three or four days following, and stayed an hour or two each time. I told him all that God had done for mankind from the beginning; the evidence of Christianity, the nature of it, the folly and wickedness of their religion; in short, every topic that could affect a human being. At the end of all he was exactly as at the beginning: the same serene smile denotes the absence of all feeling.'—Journal, p. 536. And again, a year and a half later : "Were the Hindoo woman you mention à true convert, she would be a rich reward for a life's labour; but alas ! I doubt of every Hindostanee Christian in Hindostan(Ib., p. 628). This opinion seems to have been shared by Sir James Mackintosh. He thought that little was to be apprehended and little hoped for from the exertions of the missionaries' (Ib., p. 706). It is true that by dint of unflagging efforts the pioneers of the Gospel in the East have attained, in Southern India especially, a degree of success which would have astonished Martin. But the sum of conversions, when viewed with reference to the number of our subjects, is as a drop in the ocean, And how, in effect, can a people who conceive themselves to be living in a very atmosphere of miracles, celestial and diabolical, attach adequate importance to the evidence of those wonders by which the divine origin of Christianity is attested? On the other hand, if they are to judge us by our fruits,' what are the qualities likely to attract their regard? In our preachers they see none of that terrible asceticism with which the naked fakeer or self-torturing jogee successfully challenges their reverence. The exposure of our women's faces, the indiscriminate mixture of the sexes in our social meetings, our dancing, our unscrupulous diet, are, each of them, features which, however innocent in themselves, shock that material morality which the natives best appreciate. They admit, indeed, our veracity, justice, and energy, and that 'beaver-like’ faculty which one of our own satirists has seized as the principal national attribute. That it is our destiny, for some inscrutable purpose, to make our penknives bristle from pole to pole, to run a girdle round the earth with our printed yarns, and to fight, if need be, for these objects like Roostums, or scheme like Faridoons-all these things are admitted by the natives, and the contemplation of them fills them with wonder and awe. But alas! no less true is it that none of these things move their envy. If, therefore, success in teaching the Hindoo a higher and truer civilization is possible at all, our first efforts must be directed




towards convincing them of the defects of their own system, rather than of the merits of ours—when they can appreciate the last, the battle will have been won. Eight years ago, to a proposal even thus limited, nobody could have been blamed for objecting with Henry Martin, How shall it ever be possible to convince a Hindoo of anything ?' But who can say that it is hopeless now, when half the states of Hindostan have been brought to repudiate a rite which was held holy by their race for full three centuries before the Christian era ? True, the arguments which have effected the change have been of a kind that left the validity of their ancient books unassailed-nay, the doctrine of one series has been abandoned mainly, if not solely, on account of its incompatibility with still older and more venerated authorities. But it is surely needless to point out the consequences of admitting reason, in what guise soever, into the domain of tradition. Call it mere comparative criticism, if we will—the truth remains equally obvious, that criticism, once sanctioned in any form, will in the end detect something more than the discrepancies between rival records. Let us then appreciate our vantage-ground. The small end of the wedge is insertedhow are we to drive it home?

In the first place, we should suggest the importance of making the significance of the movement in its bearings on the fallibility both of tradition and of the priesthood, as apparent to the whole Hindoo family as it is to ourselves. Let the present generation be made to understand, however much the effort may cost them, that they have, in fact, declared and proved themselves wiser than all their predecessors since the date of the Shasters. Let them perceive that it is not only harmless but good to exercise reason—at any rate for the purpose of reviving the primeval wisdom of the Code. And we may fairly hope that Hindoo intellect, having once exercised its wings so far, will not fold them

for ever afterwards in serene contemplation of the age

of Menu.

In the next place, let us guard against relapse. Before now there have been native rulers, more enlightened or less devout than their subjects, who have endeavoured to put down the most cruel among the Hindoo rites. But whatever effect their enactments may have had during their own reigns, the flood of popular superstition invariably rolled back afterwards, and their laws soon sank into matters of history. To avoid this danger, our Government should be constantly on the watch to see that its abolitionist allies carry out their own proclamations. Marks of favour might reward every display of zeal in this direction; while reactionaries might be made to understand that we regarded their


adhesion to the cause of humanity as in some sort a compact with ourselves.

Finally, there is now before us in Rajpootána an excellent opening for educating the higher classes of natives in the independent states of Northern India. The schools at Agra and at Calcutta are too remote for their benefits to reach these influential provinces. We possess in Ajmere, situated as it is in the midst of Rajpootána, a small tract of territory admirably adapted for the purpose. Not only is it advisable, in choosing a site for such a foundation, to prefer the vicinity of a race who influence the mind of Hindostan more widely than any other, but it also happens that the Rajpoots are more likely than any other of our allies to accept the benefits of education at our hands. This is due in part to the confidence which our respect for their liberties, ever since we first rescued their country from the Mahratta yoke, has inspired; in part, to the increased facilities for making pilgrimages to distant shrines afforded by our roads—which, by familiarizing them with the superior fertility and order of the British territory, have already stimulated in them a degree of curiosity as to the secret of our success. Great numbers of Rajpoots have accepted vaccination from us at the risk of offending one of the direst divinities in their Pantheon-Matajee, the goddess of small-pox! Above all, they have now been the first to co-operate with us in putting down Suttee. Such are the tokens both of greater independence of spirit, and of amity towards ourselves, which have satisfied those most competent to judge that the higher Rajpoots would gladly lead the way in making use of a college at Ajmere. The only educational experiment hitherto made there was at a period when our relations, both at Jypore and Jodhpore, were on the most unfriendly footing Of course it failed. But under no circumstances would it have availed for the objects now indicated. What is wanted in the first instance is not so much a school for the lower orders, as a college to which the chiefs can send their sons, accompanied by something of that state and retinue which native nobles consider essential to their rank. The lecturers should be gentlemen - men of habitual courtesy. Honorary privileges connected with the foundation might be placed within reach of the leading Rajpoots, who would in all probability forward the scheme in proportion as it appeared to identify them with the Supreme Government. Finally, no religious instruction must be attempted. This proviso is essential. You may write Christianity or any other faith on the tabula rasa of a savage mind; with a people, not in the infancy of barbarism, but in the decrepitude of a precocious civilization, you have to unteach before you can teach ; and an interval must occur between

« PreviousContinue »