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ment troops in honour of idolatrous or Mahomedan processions or ceremonies, and all similar observances, which infringe upon liberty of conscience, and directly,
promote the growth and popularity of the debasing superstitions of the country,' be discontinued. That such parts of Regulation VII. of 1817, as identify the Government with Mahomedanism and Heathenism be rescinded ;-and every class of persons left, as the Honourable Court of Directors has enjoined, entirely to themselves, to follow their religious duties according to the dictates of their consciences.
“ Aware however that the execution of the orders of the Honourable Court is entrusted to the Supreme Government, and that it will not be in the power of your Excellency to comply with all these requests—we earnestly and respectfully solicit that measure of present relief which your Excellency in Council may see fit to grant, and that a copy of this address, supported by your Excellency's powerful recommendation, may be forwarded to the Right Honourable the Governor General of India in Council, with a view to the attainment of the full measure of relief hereby sought.
“ In conclusion, we entreat the attention of your Excellency to the facts detailed in the following Appendix, every one of which, we take the liberty to state, has been, and will, if necessary, be again authenticated, by individuals subscribing this address. And with our fervent prayer that your Excellency in Council may be guided on this important subject by Him, to whom belong all the nations of the earth, and that your consultations may be directed to the advancement of His Glory, the good of His Church, and the safety, honour, and welfare of our Sovereign, and his dominions.
We have the honour to subscribe ourselves,
Your Excellency's most obedient Servants."
This important document is signed by thirteen chaplains, thirtyseven missionaries, and one hundred and fifty-two European civil and military residents, of all ranks and stations.
The venerable Dr. Corry, Bishop of Madras, forwarded it to the Governor, with a letter, approving of the appeal in decided terms. Still a most unfavourable answer has been returned- too plainly indicating the intention of the local Government not to relinquish the large revenues they derived from the oblations of idolatry. "The ap. pendix to the memorial contains abundant evidence of the truth of its allegations.
As these mournful illustrations extend to forty octavo pages, we can only attempt a very brief summary of their contents, but that, we trust, will be sufficient to awaken in the mind of every Christian reader an anxious inquiry how he can best exert himself to put down those abominations which are at present a reproach upon our national character.
1. The compulsory attendance of the servants of the state at Mahomedan and Heathen religious ceremonies.
The Mahomedan fast, Ramzan, is kept by all Mussulmen as one of the most sacred of their institutions when they celebrate the revelation of the Koran. This sacred month concludes with a festival and a procession of the great Moollah, who goes in public to the Eedgah or the sacred edifice to perform his devotions. At Trichinopoly a garrison order was issued, 19th of January, 1836, commanding a company complete, and a brigade of artillery, to fire three salutes during the day, and to attend the Mahomedan priest in his perambulations. These European gunners were thus obliged, beneath the scorching beams of an eastern sun, to follow his reverence's slip
pers from five o'clock in the morning till three in the afternoon, and to grace by their presence, and at the peril of their lives, this antichristian service. In 1834 this occurred on the Lord's day, and the whole of the European artillery were detained from church, and employed the greater part of that day of rest in firing salutes in honour of the Mahomedan Koran ! The facts relating to heathen ceremonies are still more offensive.
Take the following as a specimen :
“ In the year 1828, the Head Quarters of the 15th Regiment were stationed at Trivanderam, the present capital of Travancore, and the ordinary residence of the Rajah. Within the fortress, stands one of the principal temples of the province, dedicated to Padmanaba Deo, (or Vishnoo.) Once a year, the Idol is brought out, and carried in procession to the Beach, about three miles distant, where it is bathed in the sea. It rests, of course, with the Brahmans to select the most auspicious day for the ceremony, and it has been observed, that, whenever it has been practicable, a very intelligible preference has been evinced by them for the Christian's Sabbath. It was on a Sunday that we were required to attend. At two o'clock in the afternoon, the Regiment, arrayed in review order, was formed in line with two battalions of Nair Troops, on one side of the road leading from the Port to the sea. There we remained, during three weary hours of idle expectation,-the gazing stock of the assembled thousands, thus learning from our presence to attach still deeper feelings of importance to their wretched superstitions. At intervals, groups of Brahmans passed down our front, and from these we received no doubtful intimations of the light in which they regarded us. One party approached from the Pagoda, bearing several pots of water intended for the use of the Idol, and of the Ranee. The pots were of brass, and their mouths closely covered with plantain leaf, well secured, it might seem, against anght of external pollution. Stopping short, at some distance from us, the Brahmans waved to us imperiously to give them room. Between our front rank and the wall by which the opposite side of the road was bounded, there was a clear breadth of more than twenty paces--but this was insufficient. We were required to close back upon the wall in our rear, and then with a quick and stealthy step, drawing the cloths closely round them, and keeping as far from our line as the road would possibly admit, every look and gesture expressive of anxiety to escape the pollution of our vicinity, they proceeded with their precious burden. At five o'clock, the Idol was brought out, attended by the Ranee and crowds of Brahmans; as it approached, the order was given to present arms. The procession advanced, and the troops, filing to either side, formed a street, and accompanied it, amidst the din of horns and tomtoms, and all the uproar and confusion of a heathen ceremony. About midway between the Fort and the Beach, is a small open Choultry or Pandall--a number of stone pillars supporting a flat stone roof, open on all sides, and at other times accessible to all, to man or beast, of every caste or character. The Idol was carried under this, the Nair battalions followed-but, as if it were designed to heap the fullest measure of contumely upon us, we were made to pass outside. There were Europeans, Mahomedans, and various officers of impure tribes in our ranks-we were unclean
- our footsteps carried contamination. Arrived at the beach, we were told to go back—we were no longer wanted--the ablutions of the Idol might not be performed in our view. Tired and ashamed, we returned to our barracks.-There was then no one amongst our number, who had any actual consciousness of the unloly and sinful character of the proceeding in which we had been engaged ; but we felt that we had been degraded, that we had been treated throughout with undisguised contempt, and, that not only the natives of the province, bnt our own men likewise, had reason to despise us for submitting to such open humiliation.
" There are, no doubt, some who will maintain that in all this we were acting simply in the performance of a military duty, and in no way connected with any religious observance--that we were in attendance, not upon the Idol, but upon the Ranee, and that it was to the Ranee we presented arms; very probably it may have been on some such pretexts that the Ranee herself requested the attendance of the British Troops; but the people did not view the matter thus-our own men clid not-and, may we not add, God did not viery it thus! It is unhesitatingly
affirmed that the impression made by our presence upon the ininds of the thousands assembled from all parts of the province, was, not that we were there merely in compliment to the Ranee, but that we attended as part of the public escort of the Idol, and for its especial service and honour. The same impression was left upon the minds of our own men, and so justly did the Mahomedans in the Regiment appreciate the actual character of the proceeding, that but for the countenance of their European Officers, they would probably not have consented to take part in it. It has been said that on the occasion now referred to, there was no man amongst our number with true Christian feelings. Now, however, were we ordered upon the same duty there are several of us who must refuse to attend. It is admitted that we should do this at the peril of our commissions. Nay more, it is admitted, not only that our refusal would subject us to dismissal from the service, but that it might require our dismissal,-for, as military men we are sensible that the very existence of an army must be endangered, if once it be conceded to any of its members to deliberate upon the propriety of the orders they may receive. But is it not then unjust that such orders should be issued ? Is it not cruel to place us in such circumstances? And why should a Christian Government thus needlessly reduce its officers to the alternative, either of disobedience to their orders, or of violating the command of God ?” ** 2. Servants of the state offering to idols.
The feast of the idol Padazier had been discontinued at Madras, the city of which she is called the goddess for thirty years, but was re-established under the orders of the British authorities in 1818. The festive procession of this idol in 1820 moved towards the fort of St. George, and stood near the north gate, when a European officer of Government called the collector of Madras, sent out a present of gold, incense, and scarlet cloth for the idol and her priests. He also gave a gold necklace for the goddess called “ Talee." The talee is the emblem of union and the marriage tie. Thus a British officer presented to the goddess of Madras the well-known pledge of the closest union, and exhibited before the insulted majesty of heaven a representative of christian England performing an act of direct worship to an Hindoo idol! In the course of its perambulations the procession had to pass under the Pully Street gate of the Black Town, but the arch was not lofty enough to admit the goddess, borne on high upon the shoulders of men, to pass. The question has, therefore, been proposed by Government to the acting chief engineer, to know at what expense that gate can be raised, which proposed alteration is to convey to the natives " a full proof of the disposition of Government to facilitate the due observance of their religious ceremonies."
At Conjeveram, near Madras, European officers of the highest rank, not excepting Lord Clive himself, have presented to the idols jewelled ornaments for the neck and bosom, &c., and a collector, Mr. Place, assembled all the musicians, dancing girls, elephants, horses, and instruments, attached to the different temples in the district to give pomp and splendour to his own personal attendance on the idolatrous festivals of that place. But even this is surpassed by Government collectors issuing orders for the people to resort to their idol temples with offerings to pray for rain!"
3. Illustrations of the support given by the Government to idolatry.
The appendix contains literal translations of memorials to Government officers respecting the provision and appointment of the ser
vants of the idols. It would be amusing, were not the subject so grave, to exhibit the servants and the sons of England engaged in the appointment of pipers and cooks, sweepers and dancing girls, to the idol temples, directing the Brahmins, yea, in ordering new clothes for their ragged divinities, and repairing the dilapidated walls of their abominable pagodas.
It is true, that as the British Government have taken possession of the lands with which the pagodas were endowed, and carry into the coffers of the Company the contributions of the pilgrims and votaries, the people seem to have a claim upon them for the support of their worship, but this fearfully compromises the christian profession of a people, and no question of finance ought for a moment to interfere with the higher interests of morality and religion.
4. The compulsory dragging of the cars of idols.'
The cars for the idols are built and repaired under the direction of the Company's servants, and cables have been given out from the government stores for the use of the people in dragging the ponderous deities. Their zeal has so much declined, that it has become necessary to employ influence, and even force, to induce the poorer classes to fulfil this duty. “I cannot help feeling indignant at the conduct of my countrymen,” writes a Missionary, “who are connected with the worship of Juggernaut. Here we have a high-minded English gentleman, who would challenge and shoot a man for the least expression derogatory to an imaginary honour, stooping to be a cart-wright, or car-builder, for an ugly wooden idol.”-" It will scarcely be believed, that a gentleman, high in the service of the Company, is to be seen as busy as possible, conducting with apparent pleasure the abominable idolatries; and waving his cap, encouraging the car-drivers to proceed.”—Excitement of another sort, it appears, has become necessary to stimulate the zeal of these poor idolaters; and there is abundant evidence that the peons, a low grade of police officers, employ whips and sticks, with which they frequently beat the people in a most unfeeling manner to compel them to roll forward these ponderous engines of idolatry.
The extent to which this oppressive burden has been enforced may be conceived of by the fact, that in the province of Tanjore alone, there are not less than four hundred thousand people compelled, year by year, to leave their homes, and proceed often ten, twenty, or thirty miles, without any provision or remuneration, for the purpose of dragging the obscene and disgusting idol cars of the province, not a man of whom would go unless the government compelled them, nor when arrived would they drag the cars, were it not for the dread of the whip applied by the servants of government to excite their exertions.
A melancholy accident occurred in March, 1836, at the car festival at Conjeveram, when thirteen healthy men were crushed to death by the wheel of the car passing over them, ten of whom it is believed were the victims of this system of forced labour for idolatry. This catastrophe bas however been overruled, for the government have justly pronounced these compulsory services to be a “grievous hard
ship" upon the natives, and have forbidden their servants in future to interfere, but for the preservation of the peace.
Gratifying as this order is, yet this subject requires the vigilant attention of the Christian public of Britain, to see that a law be promulgated throughout our Indian possessions for the complete severance of the government from the pagan and Mahomedan rites, without which the superstitions of our heathen native officers, and worse motives, may induce the European official residents still to sanction “ these abominable idolators.”
It is most obvious that till this be done, and “ strict neutrality," which Lord W. Bentinck says is the fundamental principle of British rule in India, be really maintained, the churches of this empire may consecrate their most gifted sons and their choicest treasures for the conversion of India to Christ, with but faint hopes of witnessing in that land the universal triumph of his glorious gospel. " When the natives are addressed on the subject of Christianity, especially at public feasts, when official interference is most conspicuous, they continually reply to our missionaries Things cannot be as you represent, you say idolatry is contrary to the commandment of God, and that so far from being acceptable to Him, it is positive sin. It cannot be so, for the Government people superintend our pagodas, our feasts, and all that is connected with the regular carrying on of idolatry and certainly they would not do so, if idolatry were as bad as you represent it.” Another witness states, that often “ the natives glory in our dereliction of Christian principle and they loudly proclaim, · How the Company honours Juggernaut! See here,' exclaim the Pundas, · How we are filling the Company's Treasury !!!”
As the British anthorities in India are alike regardless of the consciences of their civil and military servants, and of the highest interests of the poor heathen whom they govern in the British name, the time has come when all Christian Britain must simultaneously renounce these abominations.
There have been made during the past month some eloquent and most appropriate appeals for union, amongst all the sections of the Christian church. Here we think a fine occasion is afforded for the most effective and useful manifestation of combined zeal and united exertions. Let the several Committees of the Bible and Foreign Missionary Societies nominate an associated Committee, to call before the rising of Parliament an aggregate meeting of Christian gentlemen at Exeter Hall, who by their indignant denunciation of this atrocious system, and by their wise and firm resolutions against it, shall awaken the Christianity of the empire at once to put it down.
Long, too long, have some noble minded and faithful men been left to agitate this subject almost alone, but now that our Christian brethren in India, yea, and the oppressed and degraded Hindoos themselves, cry for help against these cruel oppressions, a further delay of the most vigorous and Christian efforts will be a dereliction of duty that must excite universal censure throughout Christendom.