Imatges de pàgina

elapsed before any effectual steps were taken to carry the benevolent intentions of Parliament into effect;-at length, about ten years ago, a Board of Education was created, and the appropriated funds were placed at its disposal. But it was very speedily manifest from the peculiar character and genius of the leading member of the Board, that the funds, however conscientiously disposed of, would not be laid out in a manner most conducive to the welfare and improvement of the country; that in fact, the multiplication of Sungskrit works would be considered more important than the preparation and printing of valuable works in the native languages; and such has been the case. So fatally indeed bas this plan been acted on, that after twenty years we are no nearer the possession of an appropriate series of school books in the lauguage of the people through means of the appropriated annual lakh than we were before it was roted. In October last, we endeavoured to draw the attention of our readers, European and native, to this subject, and stated how little had been done for the natives, and how exclusively the funds had been appropriated under the misguided judgment of some of its leading members; that at one time the Board was all for Sungskrit; at another time, all for Arabic; that no sooner had that eminent scholar, Dr. Wilson, quited the shores of India, than the language of the Koran became lord of the ascendant ; but that never yet had Bengalee, the language of thirty millions of people, found adequate favour in the eyes of the Board.

“Mr. Trevelyan, in a minute laid before the School Book Society, and printed in the India Gazette of Wednesday last, bas confirmed this view, and shewn how exclusively the attention of the Board has been confined to Sungskrit and Arabic. From his statement, we learn the following singular facts, that out of the lakh devoted by Parliament to the improvement of the natives of India, while not one book has been printed in Bengalee, (the language spoken by one-half the natives of this presidency,) there bave been printed, in Sungskrit, 13,000 volumes ; in Arabic, 5,600 ; in Persian, 2,500 ; in Hindee 2,000, copies; total 23,100 volumes; from not one of which can the natives of Bengal derive the smallest benefit. We learn also tbat in the last nine years the Board has expended in the printing of these books no less than a lakh and fire thousand rupees, a sum which, if discreetly laid out, would bare served to illuminate a province with the rays of truth.

“We have not room to enter at large on the subject, and must therefore content ourselves with a passing observation or two. We desire our native readers to notice that if little has been done to unlock to them the stores of European knowledge and science, it has not been for lack of attention on the part of the British Parliament and the Government of the country : that ample funds have been appropriated both by the authorities in England and India ; but they hare been expended in the printing of works recommended rather by the favourite views of great scholars than by the prospect of public utility ; that if the natives of India have been disappointed of those means of improvement which Parliament designed for them, it has not been because the Parliamentary grant has been hoarded up. The money has been profusely distributed among the printers and stationers of Calcutta, but it has been laid out in printing works in the language of the Koran, as though India was under the gorernment of the Shah of Persia, or of the Great Turk, and not under the dominion of the foremost of civilized nations. Some part of the money, a large portion of it too, has been laid out in printing Sungskrit works; but as though it had resolved, that the funds should be expended in a way least likely to benefit the natives of Bengal, all these books have been published in the Deva Nagree cbaracter, which the natives of Bengal do not, and will not, read. This has been pointed out, and it has been noticed, that while none of the Sungskrit works published by the Board find a sale, the same works printed on private speculation at other presses in the Bengalee character, pay well ;- but the answer has been that to print a Sungskrit work in any character but the Deva Nagree, or the character used by the gods, would be an act of sacrilege, and that if the natives of Bengal cannot read Nagree, they ought to learn to read it. And thus the depositary of the Board bends beneath the weight of thousands and thousands of learned volumes, which few of the natives of Bengal can read, and which none will purchase.

Any farther remarks, which we should have felt disposed to have made, have been anticipated by the spirited notices of some of the Calcutta jour. nals. Most sincerely do we trust that the mistaken interests of the few will

no longer be allowed to monopolize the dearest interests of the many, and that the true friends of the race of man, in attempting to enrich others with the blessings of mental light and moral liberty, will be abundantly blessed and enriched themselves.

3.—Sir James McIntosh, Sir Humphry Davy, and Mr. Locke, on the Danger

and Irrationality of Scepticism. It is too much the custom with giddy thoughtless people to associate scepticism with mental ability and philosophic research. And various apparently fortuitous coincidences have tended to aid and abet the delusion. It is nevertheless true, that a confirmed habit of "doubting” and “ disbelieving" is a dangerous and a depraved one. Such a habit is fatal to steady conviction in all matters where assurance would not fail to form one main ingredient of human felicity :--and in the eye of enlightened reason it seems to involve a contradiction in terms—"a belief that there can be no belief.” That a habit so pernicious and irrational may be exposed and abandoned, let witlings and sciolists ponder the solemn deliverances of some of the master spirits of our race on this subject. And if the blush of shame is not suffused on the countenance, let the lips at least refrain from farther utterance.

" Those who are early accustomed to dispute first principles," says Sir James Mclatosh, “are never likely to acquire, in a sufficient degree, that earnestness and that sincerity, that strong love of truth, and that conscientious solicitude for the formation of just opinions, which are not the least virtues of men, but of which the cultivation is the more special duty of all who call themselves philosophers." Again, “A habit of doubt and uncertainty is fatal to decision and earnestness, abore all to oneness of purpose, &c. No cause can receive a final judgment; still some arguments must be heard on the other side, which require a re-hearing of the plaintiffs' evidence, and so on in an endless circle of refining, and over-discrinating scrupulosity."

" In any opinion profound minds are the most likely to think lightly of the resources of buman reason; and it is the pert superficial thinker who is generally stongest in every kind of unbelief. The deep philosopher sees changes of causes and effects so wonderfully and strangely linked together, that he is usually the last person to decide upon the impossibility of any two series of events being independant of each other; and in science so many natural miracles, as it were, have been brought to light-such as the falling of stones from meteors in the atmosphere ; the disarming of a thunder-cloud by a metallic point; the production of fire from ice by a metal white as silver ; and referring certain laws of motions of the sea to the moon—that the physical inquirer is seldom disposed to assert confidently on any abstruse subject belonging to the order of natural things, and still less so on those relating to the more mysterious relations of moral events and intellectual Datures."—Sir Humphrey Davy.

“We shall then use our understandings right, when we entertain all objects in that way and proportion that they are suited to our faculties, and upon those grounds they are capable of being proposed to us, and not peremptorily or intemperately require demonstration, and demand certainty, where probability only is to be bail, and which is sufficient to govern all our concernments. If we will disbelieve every thing, because we cannot certainly know all things, we shall do much about as wisely as he who would not use his legs, but sit still and perish, because be bad no wings to fly.”—Locke.

4.–The Author of the Natural History of Enthusiasm's Opinion of Socinianism.

There can be but few in the reading circles of society who have not heard of the “Natural History of Enthusiasm." Its originality of thought, its fine discrimination of principles, its ingenious analyses of character, and withal its elevated and brilliant style, speedily rendered it one of the most

popular works of the age. The author is unknown, but his writings proclaim his intellectual and moral worth. Amongst these we may specify his introduction to President Edward's Treatiseon" Necessity and Free Will”— an introduction, on which higher praise cannot be bestowed, than that it is in all respects worthy of the masterly and unanswerable production to which it is prefixed. But the most elaborate work of this anonymous author is “ Saturday Evening,”—unfortunate it must be allowed in its cabalistic title, but honoured in being a magazine of noble reflection and still nobler truths. The writer, conscious of his own power, and the solid grounds on which his observations rest, is sometimes apt perhaps to asseverate too dogmatically. Still, whatever falls from a pen like his, must challenge the most serious consideration. Here is the withering glance which he casts on the Socinian heresy.

“ It may seem,” says he, “to some persons that, if a question is entertained relative to the supposed abatement, at the present moment, of the evangelic function, a prominent place ought to be given to the influence-open or concealed, of the heresy which directly oppugns the doctrines of the Gospel. This would have been proper forty years ago : but not now. There was indeed a time (not yet forgoiten) of faintness in the evangelical bodies :--there was a time when not a few whose lips still uttered “right things,” were shaken in soul; or bad quite lost all inward sense and feeling of the truth. But this season bas past away:-the victims of the infection have either fallen from their places, or been resiored to life. And if it were asked, how far the Socinian error now checks the promulgation and progress of the Gospel, it would be impossible to make so small a matter palpable in our reply. To affirm that the great principles of religion are at present endangered by the feeble and expiring remains of Socinianism, were much the same as to say that the throne and constitution of Britain are in jeopardy by the lurking attachment of the people to the house of Stuart ! Socinianism no more makes us afraid for our religion, than Jacobitism does for our liberties.

The contrary is the fact. We are strengthened by the puny heresy that yet gasps, here and there, about us. The modern history-the fate, and the present actual condition of the doctrine absurdly called Unitarianism, is quite enough to convince any man of sense that the sceptical argument is a mere sophism, even if he knew nothing of the merits of the question. And this edifying history and spectacle does in fact produce a proper effect upon the minds of men, and does actually seal the theological argument as it onght. Is Unitarianism Christianity? Read the story of its rise in modern times, of its progress and decay, and look at the meagre phantom as now it haunts the dry places it has retired to !-is this pitiful shadow Christianity ?

It might be well if certain valiant persons among us could find more profitable employment than that of hunting a spectre!"

5.The Edinburgh Review's Defence of the New Zealand Missionaries. Who would believe, during the Herculean but anti-religious infancy of the Edinburgh Review, that it was so soon destined to become the friend of Missions, and the advocate of Missionaries? Yet so it is :

Tempora mutantur et nos mutamur in illis, That which, twenty years ago, was wild Utopianism, is now pronounced a rational and successful enterprize : and those who were 'arch-fanatics then, are welcomed as genuine philanthropists now. This change of sentiment seems ominous, and may be accounted one of the “signs of the times.” To it may, with propriety, be applied by way of accommodation a remark, which we have somewhere seen made in reference to Constantine's conversion. If we consider the great Northern Oracle as acting from conviction, the cause of Missions has reason to boast of so illustrious a convert. If we consider him as acting from policy, his finding it necessary to pay such a compliment to the inclinations of the friends of Missions is

the strongest testimony to their growing numbers. Be this as it may, we are laid under a debt of gratitude by the following calm and judicious vindication of our Missionary Brethren in New Zealand :

“There is another class of British subjects who have settled in New Zealand, and acquired an influence over its inhabitants. These are the Missionaries of the Church of England Society, who, in 1814, obtained a grant of 200 acres of land, and have since formed several other settlements. They find, however, by no means the same favour in the eyes of Mr. Earle, who never mentions them but in terms of complaint and sarcasm. Without waiting for any answer from them, we can easily perceive that this alienation arose solely from an entire opposition of temper and habits.

"They treated him, it appears, in a polite and friendly manner, but coldly, shanning any approach towards intimacy. All men have a right to choose their associates; and allowing fully our author's merits, he is plainly not that sedate and sober person who was likely to gain their confidence. He appeared also in intimate association with the whale-fishing crews; whom the Missionaries accused, and apparently with justice, as counteracting, by their example, the moral instructions bestowed upon the islanders. The different views of the parties may be illustrated by our author's narrative of a Christmas excursion. He and several of his companions repaired to the Mission-house, with the materials of a copious bowl of punch, and the determination to have a jorial celebration of the day. As they approached, however, they became most indignant to find the windows shut, and all access denied; and when, instead of the proposed merry meeting, the Missionaries soon after came out to preach. The most serious transaction wbich he bad with them was at a time when the alarm of a general war appeared to place British settlers in extreme danger. On this occasion, he arers, what we are not disinclined to believe, that the Missionaries showed a much deeper concern for their own safety than for his, and even an impression that the preservation of their lives was of more consequence to society. At ihe same time, we find them asserting, what he does not contradict, that they had made extraordinary exertions to transmit to him an intimation of his danger. They refused, indeed, a boy as a guide across the country; but these boys, being pupils, whom the natives had intrusted to their care, could not very justifiably have been placed in a situation of danger; especially with a guide in whom they had not entire confidence. Indignant at this refusal, he disdained to ask a pair of shoes, which he might probably have obtained. Mr. Earle seems to view as a crime the care which the Missionaries took in making themselves comfortable; but if they did not neglect their sacred functions, this fault was at least venial. Perhaps, indeed, nothing could have tended more to the improvement of the natives, than the example thus set of industry, neatness, and plenty. Even Mr. Earle could pot withhold his admiration at the view of their cottages, in a beautiful valleycomplete pictures of English comfort, content, and prosperity ; and the sight must hare been equally gratifying to the eye of a New Zealander. It appears, indeed, that both their employers and themselves bave made strenuous exertions to improve the temporal condition of the natives, by introducing the most useful productions and domestic animals. Mr. Earle hiinself admired the tine fruits which were brought down to the ship; the culture of which is admitted to have been introduced by that body. In visiting an inland chief, he was much surprised to see a very fine bull, cow, and calf, till informed that they were gifts from the Missionaries. It would appear, therefore, that though whale-crews, and muskets may have given the main stimulus to the improved industry of New Zealand, the Missionaries have furnished the models and materials, and the one will perhaps be as essential as the other to its farther progress. Both he and Mr. Cruise agree, that they have failed in producing converts; and it does not appear that they make any boast on that subject : yet, it is admitted, and even complained of, that they have acquired an extraordinary influence over the minds of the people, that the chiefs anxiously desire to have a Mission-settlement on their lands, and readily send their children to its schools, which would scarcely be done if they came out, as is asserted, objects of derision. One suggestion, however, seems ta 'merit consideration, whether it might not be advantageous to teach them to read in the English rather than in the native language; as very ample stores of information and new ideas, otherwise inaccessible, would thus be opened to them."

The Italics in this last passage are ours. The suggestion does merit consideration : it has for some time been acted on in the Indian field of Missionary labour: and it ought to be universally adopted. As it is our intention to embrace an early opportunity of returning to this subject, we shall only request our readers to mark and weigh the suggestion, as embodying one of the most important but neglected lessons in the practical science of education.

6.The Piety of Lord Exmouth's latter Days. Some scoffers continue to persuade themselves, that the wise and the learned, the great and the mighty, have little to do with religion. And it must be owned, that practically religion seldom finds a retreat amongst these. But this is not because they do not require it, or because it is unsuited to their condition. It is because their wisdom does not tally with the wisdom of God, and their pursuits do not accord with the requisitions of God's law, that we so often see the wise, and the mighty, and the nol le of the earth without an altar of devotion, and without a sacrifice for sin. On this account, we rejoice when we behold great and commanding talents consecrated to the service of the Almighty, or high rank hallowed by the serene garb of religious habits. Of both of these descriptions, we have many noble examples in our day. And of the latter we know not a more pleasing one than that which the United Service Journal has put on record, in rehearsing the Life and Actions of Lord Exmouth.

“In the year 1817,"continues this journal, "the chief command at Plymouth was conferred on his Lordship, for the usual period of three years ; at the conclusion of wbich he finally retired from the active duties of his profession ; and except when attending his more important functions in the House of Lords, be passed the remainder of his days at his beautiful retreat at Teignmouth. There, while enjoying repose in the bosom of his own family, he looked back on the chequered scene of his former services, with unmingled gratitude for all the dangers he had escaped, all the mercies he had experienced, and all the blessings he enjoyed. Retired from the strife and vanity of the world, his thoughts were raised with increasing fervour to Him who had guarded his head in the day of battle, and had led him safely through the hazards of the pathless sea. No long: er barassed by the cares and reponsibility of public service, Religion, which he bad always held in reverence, now struck deeper root in his heart, and nothing was more gratifying to the contemplation of his family and his most attached friends, than the Curistian serenity which shed its best blessings on his latter days.

As he gradually descended into the vale of years, Religion became the habitual guide and consolation of his life ; and as he approached his end, no man more clearly saw the miserable error of those who, in their last hour, strive to bush the warnings of a long-neglected conscience by what is called “the retrospect of a well-spent life.” More than one couspicuous example of this fatal mistake has been held up to the admiration of our naval officers, but none has been more injurions to their religious principles. The hope of a true Christian, whether in life or death, is founded not on his own meriis, but in his Redeemer's atonement. Happily Lord Exmouth well knew the defects of his own heart, and rejected all self-righteousness ; and his family and friends have now the satisfaction of his owo dying testimony that all his hopes were founded on a rock, "and that rock was Christ.”

7.-Zeal of Propagandism among the Infidels of France. Zeal, viewed apart from its object, can scarcely be reckoned good or evil. For what is Zeal? Is it not a state of mind characterized by an ardent devotedness to some object or other? And if so, the propriety or impropriety of the Zeal must depend on the nature of the object by which it is awakened, and the pursuit to which it is directed. No great achiev

« AnteriorContinua »