« PreviousContinue »
mornings being occupied in “ holding preparations” with various natives, Hindu and Catholic, for receiving them into the communion of his church. Of some of his converts, he speaks in terms of approbation and confidence in their sincerity. As to the others, he ingenuously confesses the superficial transient nature of their conversion. He mentions the following instance of success :
“A young Pandaram, who for nearly seven years had resorted to all the celebrated pagodas and reputed sacred waters, without finding rest to his soul, was accosted by us one afternoon near the river. He had, he said, often entertained doubts as to the whole of the heathen ceremonies. A Roman Catholic had given him a little brazen crucifix; this he had carried about him, and often, as he told us, had placed it before him, and worshipped. "To-day," he said, 'I was at the river, and beholding the numerous pagodas of Sirengam, I thought within myself, What is all this? What can it avail ? Just as I was thinking thus, your catechists approached and recommended Christianity to me. I will now see what effect your doctrines will have. If I discover in them anything better than I have found in heathenism, I will cheerfully embrace them. We recommended him to remain with us a fortnight, and attend to the Christian doctrines with becoming seriousness and prayer ; honestly to state the doubts he might at any time entertain; and when he had in some degree ascertained the nature of Christianity, to determine what he would do. He was pleased with the proposal, and attended daily to what was addressed to those who were under a course of catechetical preparation; and at length voluntarily laid aside his Pandaram's habit, and gave up his string of a particular kind of corn, which both Pagans and Romish Christians use as a rosary. He learned with diligence, and began to pray, being daily present when I prayed with my servant morning and evening. After holy baptism, he requested that an opportunity might be afforded him of again learning to read, which he had previously been taught, but had forgotten. He has now been with us four months, and nothing inconsistent has been perceived in him. The knowledge of Christ will render him truly zealous and sincere.”
By means of one of those political intrigues, with which the earlier history of our Anglo-Indian empire abounds, the Madras government had resolved to aid the Nabob of Arcot in his long-cherished project of dethroning the Rajah of Tanjore, on the pretence of non-payment of the tribute due to him from the latter; and for this purpose a British army, on the 3d of August 1773, sat down before Tanjore. Against this injustice, the poor rajah yainly remonstrated. On the 16th, the English troops advanced to the assault, and entered Tanjore without loss or resistance. The rajah and his family were taken prisoners in the fort, and the nabob took possession of his treasure and kingdom. This was a serious impediment to the ministry of Swartz in that quarter. The building in which divine service had been performed was destroyed by the nabob, who had imbibed strong prejudices against the missionary.
The benevolence of Swartz shone conspicuously in his love to children, and his solicitude for their moral and religious improvement. His native -schools have been already noticed, and his kindness towards the younger branches of his European friends was equally striking. Of this amiable feature in his character, a very pleasing memorial remains, in several letters to the children of Colonel Wood, then stationed at Madras. One of them, addressed to the eldest daughter, only nine years of age, as it is short, we do not apologize for inserting :
“ It is a long time since I had it in my mind to send you a line, because I have known you from your infancy, and that for several years. It is, therefore, natural in me to wish you well, and particularly to desire the welfare of your immortal soul. I know, and am fully persuaded, that your dear mamma will do all that lies in her power to train you up in the paths of true Christian piety; still a well-meant admonition from an old friend may be acceptable. As God has made us reasonable creatures, our great care should be to adorn our understanding with useful knowledge. Now the word of God is particularly given us for that divine purpose of making us wise unto salvation. It teaches us in the best manner what God is, and what we are; and leads us unto Jesus Christ the blessed Saviour, who is able and willing to deliver us from our sins, and to make us beloved children of God.
“ I hope that, by the example and admonition of your kind mamma, you are desirous of improvement daily in that divine knowledge of Jesus Christ. Besides, we have a will to choose, or to reject something—as this our will is directed either for God and his glory, so we are obedient to him; is this will inclined towards the world and sinful things, so we prove disobedient. There was never a man upon earth whose will was so well directed, as the will of our Saviour. In the midst of his sufferings he said, “ Not my will, but thine, O Father in heaven, be done, Now, as a will, well directed and guided, is a sort of heaven upon earth; so, on the other hand, a stubborn, disobedient will is a sore affliction. Therefore, I wish and entreat you, my dear N. to make God's will your own, saying from the heart, ‘Not my will, but thine be done, O God.' And as we in our younger years do not know what is good for us, God has enjoined us to obey our parents. I make no doubt but a hint from your dear mamma will be as much as a command. Remember me to your dear brother, and my young friend, and to your two dear sisters. May the grace of God abound in and upon you. Amen! “ So prays your affectionate friend,
« C. F. Swartz." At length, the voice of justice was heard, and in spite of all the efforts of the nabob and the venal government of Madras, an order was sent out from the Court of Directors to restore the rajah, and for the recall of the governor. This event occurred in April 1776, and led to the renewed and more beneficial intercourse of Swartz with the rajah and his territory. This was, moreover, facilitated by the missionary's acquisition of the Mahratta language, which he undertook at the rajah's express request, it being the vernacular diction of the Tanjore princes, who claimed a descent from the line of Mahratta conquerors. He was enabled, too, to reside more constantly at Tanjore, the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge having sent another missionary to relieve him from his duties at Trichinopoly.
In the critical relations of the Madras government, at that period, with the native princes, Swartz had frequently been solicited to act as a medium of communication ; and his friend General Munro had prevailed upon
the government to make him a present for various services of this nature ; but Swartz, when he declined the offer for himself, wrote to Madras, requesting a present of some bricks and lime, of which the Company had a great quantity in store, towards building a church at Tanjore. Some time afterwards, he received a letter from General Munro, urging him without delay to repair to Madras, as Sir Thomas Rumbold had something important to communicate to him. On his arrival there, he was assured that his request concerning the church should be granted; and in a private interview with the president, he was desired to undertake a confidential mission to Hyder Ali, in order to ascertain the actual disposition of that chieftain towards the English, and to assure bim of the pacific intentions of the Madras government. Swartz's narrative of this remarkable embassy, in his annual report to the Society, and the more detailed account to his friends in Germany, are highly interesting, and his description of Seringapatam, and of Hyder, who was then the terror and scourge of the British power in India, will even now be read with interest, though the names of that tyrant, and of his still more ferocious son, have almost passed away. It is evident that Swartz was selected for this agency for his well-known penetration, his familiar acquaintance with the native languages, his enlarged experience, his almost universal knowledge, but above all for the steady disinterestedness which no lure of ambition or avarice had ever shaken. But these high qualities were subservient to his ministry as a Christian teacher. In persuading Swartz to accept the office, amongst other topics urged by Sir Thomas Rumbold, the most powerful, the governor well knew, was this : “As the intention of the journey is good and Christian, viz. to spare the effusion of blood, and the preservation of peace, the commission highly becomes your sacred calling; therefore, we hope you will accept it."
Swartz, after taking time, as he says, “ to lay the case, in retirement, before God," and weighing deliberately its dangers (nor were they light ones, from the nature of the country he was to pass through and the character of the chief who ruled over it), considered it to be his duty not to decline it. He was influenced chiefly by the conviction, that there was nothing of political intrigue in such a mission, and that he might be instrumental in the maintenance of peace, which was always near to his heart, What still more strongly moved him was, that it would enable him to announce the Gospel to a people that had never heard its name; and there was also an additional incentive, he remarks, that of giving the East-India Company, who had shown him repeated kindness, some proofs of his gratitude, “ At the same time,” he says, “I determined to keep my hands undefiled by any presents, by which determination the Lord enabled me to abide; so that I have not received a single farthing save my travelling expenses.” This more than Stoic disinterestedness looked like a prodigy, in a country of itching palms and grasping hands. On his journey, which he commenced on the 1st July 1779, he was attended by his able catechist Satteniaden. At Caroor, he was detained a month, till he had received an answer from Hyder to the usual application for leave to advance. During this tedious interval, he instructed and baptized some of his servants, and Satteniaden proclaimed the duties of faith and repentance. Often, on these occasions, the street was filled : many listened attentively. A brahmin said, “this is deep wisdom.” A young man, in reply to his exhortation, exclaimed, “look at the water; will it assume another colour ? As little shall we change.” When the party arrived at the pass to the Mysore country, the heat was intense.
Early on the 18th, (these are his own words) we set forth, not without fear and prayer to God for protection. Many carried pieces of lighted wood to deter the tigers. The mountain is so steep that if one looks downward into the abyss, the head grows quite giddy. When we had mounted about half up the hill, the sun rose, and we beheld the numerous heights and depths with astonishment, and admiration of God. The eye cannot satiate itself with gazing ; so that the dread of tigers is forgot. We directed the people around Lis to the majesty, the might, the inconceivable greatness of God
The heights and declivities are his work, and proclaim his glory. But wretched man looks off from these wonders, and makes to himself worthless images, and says, “ Ye are my gods.”
When Swartz was admitted to the audience, Hyder ordered him to sit next to him on the floor, and, as a high testimony of honour, he was not requested to take off his shoes. Hyder listened to all he had to say, observing that, although the Europeans had not kept their faith with him, he was willing to live in peace with them. A letter was read to him, “ in which," said Hyder, “I have stated the substance of our conversation ; but you will be able to give farther instructions personally.” Swartz, whilst seated near Hyder, was struck with the expedition with which all public business was conducted. “When he ceased conversing with me, some letters were read to him, and he dictated an immediate answer. The secretaries hastened away, wrote the letter, read it to him, and he affixed his seal to it. He can neither read nor write, but relies on an excellent memory. Few dared to impose on him. He orders one to write the letter, which is read to him by another; and if the secretary has not strictly conveyed his meaning, his head paid for it.” On his departure, Swartz, on getting into his palanquin, found 300 rupees Hyder had sent him for the expenses of his journey. The conscientious missionary would have declined the present, but Hyder's officers assured him, it would endanger their lives if they took it back, and as to returning it personally (Swartz having intimated such a wish), he was told that it was contrary to etiquette to he re-admitted after an audience of leave.
In this negotiation, the frank and manly bearing of the simple and pious missionary did that wilich no individual of our high-bred diplomatists would have effected. He disarmed Hyder's hostility, and won his confidence; for Hyder, who had great expertness in appreciating character, failed not to discern, under the humble demeanour of Swartz, a degree of talent and fearless integrity of purpose, which commanded his admiration and conciliated his respect. Had the Madras governor penetrated the designs and character of that powerful enemy, or been as sincere in his professions of peace as his admirable agent, or had he paid due regard to the warnings of Swartz, the storm, which soon afterwards burst over the Carnatic, might have been averted. But the Madras government, whose treasury was sed by sums granted by the nabob, or extorted from his fears, whilst certain of its members were glutting their avarice by every sort of intrigue and indiscretion, idly and stupidly refused to believe either the extent or object of the vast military preparations which Hyder was carrying on; for, however gracious and condescending to the venerable missionary, he had long breathed revenge and hate against the English. In truth, at the very moment of his interview with that excellent man, he had received intelligence of a body of English troops attempting to pass through his country. And the treachery of the English, in preventing Mahomed Ali, in breach of an engagement dated in 1752, to give up Trichinopoly, their violation of the treaty of mutual support and defence, made in 1769, which nearly prostrated his power before the successful invasion of the Mahrattas, the capture of Mahè, and the abominable conduct of the Company's servants at Tellicherry, were the impressions that dictated the letter, of which Swartz was the bearer, and which he dissembled from the missionary as well as he could, to whom he spoke nothing but peace and conciliation. What his real feelings were, he sufficiently expressed in that letter. “ I have not yet taken my revenge, and it is no matter. When such conduct is pursued, I leave you to judge on whose part treaties and promises are broken." Not a syllable of this mission, of Hyder's letter, or Swartz's explanations, appears on the records of the Madras government; and Colonel Wilks, the able historian of the south of India, justly expresses his surprise at the omission. The truth is, Swartz gave full information to Rumbold of all that passed between Hyder and himself, whilst, with his usual frankness and candour, he communicated his own impression on the state of affairs.
How must that venal body of men have been astonished at the selfdenial of their envoy, a sentiment which they could have deemed characteristic only of a madman and ideot, if they judged of others by the standard of their own virtues, when, alleging that he had been supplied by the board with all necessaries, he delivered to them the bag containing the 300 rupees that Hyder had sent him, and on being desired to keep it, begged leave to appropriate it as the first fund for an English orphan-school at Tanjore, a design which was afterwards successful far beyond the most sanguine hopes of its venerable projector. Being told that Rumbold intended procuring him a present from the Board, he refused to accept any thing, but intimated that, if they were bent on rewarding him, it would make him happy if they would allow his colleague, Mr. Polhe, at Trichinopoly, the same annual sum they had given him, being convinced, he said, he would use it for the benefit of the school. This request was granted. The sum was £100 sterling only.
Three dreadful years of war, desolation, and famine, followed. Hyder, in a torrent of destruction, overran the Carnatic, whilst the authors of the calamities were actually exclaiming—“Hyder might as well attempt to fly as invade the Carnatic!" To such men had the inscrutable designs of Asiat. Jour.N.S.Vol.14. No.55.