Imatges de pàgina

ART. IV.-1. Carne's Lives of Eminent Missionaries, vol. I, p. 299-318: John Kiernander.

2. Asiatic Journal: Biography: Kiernander the Missionary.

IN the first number of the Calcutta Review, we presented our readers with a sketch of the earliest Protestant Mission to India, carried on by the zealous labours of Ziegenbalg and his colleagues at Tranquebar. Believing, as we do, that the increase of morality constitutes the only solid improvement in a nation's condition, since without it all other improvements become vitiated and useless, we make no apology for continuing the same subject in a short Memoir of the first Protestant Missionary to Bengal, the Rev. J. Z. Kiernander. Though this is not the place to discuss the question, we state it as our full conviction, that the regeneration of India will essentially depend upon the progress of that Christianity, which was first preached to the natives of Bengal by the excellent missionary of whom we speak. If it be true that “the man who causes two blades of grass to grow where only one grew before is a benefactor to his species,” much more is he entitled to that name who first roots out noxious weeds, to plant in their stead a tree of life. Science, philosophy, and art have done much to promote the comfort of men ; but there is a higher good than relates to earthly life, which they have failed to accomplish. And if he is blessed who multiplies the resources of society, who provides for increased communication between the various tribes of men, for the increase of personal comfort, and social happiness ; who by trade and commerce opens to the poor, blessings never heretofore enjoyed ; who gives mental light instead of darkness, and knowledge instead of ignorance; much more is he a benefactor, whose labours tend, under God's blessing, to diminish human suffering and human guilt, to purify society from crime, to implant the love of truth and uprightness, to repress injustice, to encourage mutual confidence, to discourage vice, to promote true morality : whose efforts, in a word, reach to the spring of happiness, the affections of men, and lead them inwardly to hate what is evil, and cleave to that which is good. The increase of earthly comforts belongs to commerce; the enlargement of the sphere as well as the resources of mental activity is the aim of science: but the subjugation of moral evil, in all its forms, and to whatever extent, is the province of religion alone. Happy are they who contribute to the inferior good in society. Thrice happy, they whose work is directed towards the true and lasting prosperity of the immortal soul. The two Memoirs whose titles stand at the head of this article, and which, as far as we know, are the only independent memoirs of Mr. Kiernander that have been written, are to say the least, very unsatisfactory. Mr. Carne has presented to the world three volumes of “Lives of Eminent Missionaries,” and we hesitate not to say that if each life he has written, contains the same amount of error, that may be met with in the life now selected, we deeply regret that they were ever published. Mr. Carne chose a noble theme to dwell upon, a noble subject to evolve ; but while we can admire the idea which suggested his labour, we only mourn over this specimen of it, as an egregious and injurious failure. Mr. Carne, as a Christian man, could not intend directly to blast the character of any of his brethren; but in the memoir before us, he has unintentionally loaded the memory of a devoted missionary with undeserved reproach, and brought disgrace upon his name. Had the evil stopped with Mr. Carne it might have claimed less notice, but it has not so. Unhappily his memoir has been looked on as an authority, and in no less than five standard works treating upon missions in India, we may distinctly trace its evil influence, and see perpetuated the injustice which Mr. Carne had begun. To such an extent has this been carried, that by some Mr. Kiernander is looked upon as an outcast from the missionary work, and his long course of faithful labour is reckoned as having had no existence at all. This is a great evil, and that it is a groundless one we are fully repared to shew. On a close and careful examination of Mr. Carne's memoir we have formed a decided yet calm judgment, that it is quite unworthy of the credit which it has received, and that the conclusions to which it leads are quite unwarranted by real facts. The biography itself too, is very unlike what a Christian biography should be. It is a strange mixture of fact and fiction, full of mistakes, which might easily have been corrected by reference to books of history, and to missionary Reports. It is written in a highly imaginative spirit. Hence brilliancy and fire spurning the dull detail of plain fact (most interesting though it be) have produced strange and fanciful results to which realities do not answer. They have run together for instance, years widely separated in the course of time, mixed up dates and facts having no connection, given a high colouring to sober statements, and exaggerated not only the good but also the evil. It is from this tendency of the writer's mind that many things appear in the memoir which excite a smile, not to say that they utterly destroy its credit. Thus, “the conqueror of Plassey” is ever attended by a “brilliant court;” Calcutta is surrounded by “mountain villages” “the hamlet and the wild:” “Elegant houses, shrubberies and lawns” spring up like mushrooms, while Clive is there; while “ people of talent” “perpetually” arrive to inhabit and enjoy them. Chinsurah is embosomed in scenery “ of a rich and tranquil character,” the banks of the Húgly there, under Mr. Carne's magic touch, become “lofty and precipitous;” and Chandermagore lays open—before the reader only—its “wild and impressive scenery,” “its deep and lone ravines.” These expressions, we assure our readers, are found in Mr. Carne's book, and they furnish a specimen of his fidelity. Were there no books of travels open to his inspection, previous to the year 1832, by which these imaginary views might have been corrected? But the whole “life” is of the same kind : every thing is embellished, every thing overdrawn: even what is true is so disguised and dressed up, as scarcely to be recognised. It is sad to see such things, and to say them of one who comes forward as a director of public opinion. But the subject is one of moment: and truth demands a clear discussion. Mr. Carne should have paused and weighed again and again the evidence adducible for those facts, on which from the outset of his “life” he brands the character of a missionary with hypocrisy and apostacy. In this matter we argue under some disadvantage, for Mr. Carne's views are known and have been adopted. His account has been received: the counterfeit has already passed for current coin. But that it is counterfeit still, there is ample evidence. . Mr. Carne's narrative occupies 20 pages, 12mo, and in this short space there are no less than fortyjive errors of fact, which might easily have been corrected. To some of these we shall draw the attention of the candid and impartial reader. If Mr. Carne's memoir is full of errors, that in the Asiatic Journal, is not less so. It was evidently written by one who had formed but a low estimate of the usefulness of missionary labour, and thought that true religion and worldliness are not inconsistent with one another. It abounds in exaggerations and most extraordinary mistakes in dates. While evidently possessing one or two original sources of information, the author has made little inquiry by which he might illustrate the facts drawn from them. The memoir is valuable for three or four facts, not found elsewhere, and given upon the authority of those who knew, their truth: some of them not only the contemporaries of the missionary but also his correspondents. . No systematic attempt has been made hitherto to refute these mis-statements in detail. Materials have not been wanting, but they require to be searched out, and it is because on examination we have found them full of profit, and have learnt the amount and depth of the mistakes current concerning Mr. Kiernander, that we have given his history a place in these pages. It is a history full of interest. Connected with the early growth of religion in Bengal, not only in native, but European Society, it furnishes many lessons illustrative of the wise guidance of the providence of God; of the value of that faith which he preached and taught for more than 50 years, and t its power to redeem even the degraded heathen of this nd. It may be useful to enumerate the sources from whence this sketch is drawn. In 1802 there was published in Calcutta a small volume of “Ecclesiastical sketches in Bengal,” by Asiaticus, apparently drawn up with very great care and possessing very high authority. In this work a chapter is devoted to Mr. Kiernander's labours, and in all that relates to Bengal, the facts brought forward are fully corroborated by other sources of information. This little work is evidently the basis upon which Mr. Carne's life was laid, and had he adhered to his authority, his work would have been different to what it is. Again, many most interesting facts are found in Bishop Corrie's “Sketch of the progress of Christianity in Calcutta,” a work which has been appropriated by the Rev. M. Wilkinson, of Goruckpore, in his recent book of the same name, and that without acknowledgement. Need we add the Reports of the C. K. Society, as well as the recent volumes of Mr. Hough's “History of Christianity in India,” so full of research and so marked by the spirit of the men whose story is therein detailed. Besides these valuable authorities, we have been kindly furnished with a few documents by the family of Mr. Kiernander, which go far to elucidate some of the more difficult portions of his history. Several years ago many other of the books and papers of the deceased missionary were in existence, but, they were unfortunately destroyed by insects during the absence from Calcutta, of his grandson under whose charge they were placed. By the help of these and other authorities which we have examined with some care we have drawn out the history which we now present to our readers. We have had no theory to prove, and no interests but those of truth to serve, in recording it. John ZACHARIAH. KIERNANDER was born at Linkoping near Norkoping in East Gothland, Sweden, on the first of December, 1711. He was of very respectable family. Two of his uncles were Colonels in the army of Charles XII, and fell at the battle of Pultowa in 1709. In after-time he was wont to tell his grandchildren the story of the battle and the part which these uncles had sustained in it. While a boy, he studied several years in the grammar school at Linkoping and was afterwards sent to the University of Upsal to finish his education. Not content however, with the advantages of learning afforded there, and being desirous of adding further to his attainments, when 24 years of age, he determined to visit the University of Halle. Having procured letters of introduction he proceeded thither and arrived at Halle in November 1735. For one designed by the providence of God to engage in the work of a missionary, no place of study could have been more appropriate. At that period Halle was peculiarly the abode of evangelical piety. In no city in Europe was the Gospel so faithfully preached; and its holy truths so practically carried out. There, a deep concern was felt for the spiritual welfare of the ignorant, and exertions were made for promoting it. It was the place in which above all others, the missionary spirit was cultivated, missionary plans developed, and missionary operations carried on. All this had been chiefly owing, under God, to the labours of those two faithful ministers of Christ, Breithaupt and Augustus Herman Francke. Under them quite a revival of religion had taken place in Halle. The sweet spirit of love and gentleness, which broke forth in every word that Francke uttered, his earnestness, simplicity and deep devotion, had been the means of effecting an amount of good now scarcely to be credited. He had founded the Orphan House at Glaucha with its dispensary, its printing office, its vast accommodations for students as well as children, all intended to promote Christian education among the poor. He had established schools of the most efficient kind, as well for the higher as the humbler classes, over which he appointed men trained by himself, full of his own spirit, imbued with true practical piety and with the love of souls. The Canstein Bible Society, for spreading the word of God at a low price, the system of tract distribution, the Society for supporting evangelical missions, with other means of usefulness had been set in full operation. Who shall wonder then that Halle was the fountain whence flowed a thousand streams bearing with them spiritual health and life: that from its University many preachers went forth, not like the former clergy of Prussia, dead and formal in their work, but men, zealous to proclaim that Gospel which had first blessed themselves. Here too, Francke had trained for

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