Page images

character of our civil rule; or to shew how a handful of Euro. peans have hitherto held sway over so many millions of orientals, He did not come as a philosopher, to enquire into the ancient systems of knowledge; or as a linguist, to examine the languages and history of Hindostan; nor did he purpose as a Christian to trace out the fruits of idolatry and superstition, and contrive plans for the successful introduction of a revealed faith. He came simply as a scholar, who had read of the magnificence of India, to behold its glorious mountains, its boundless plains, its tropical vegetation, its fertile abundance of flowers, fruits and food for man. He came to see some of its strange races, to traverse scenes rendered famous by noble deeds, and to examine for himself some of those wondrous buildings which have come down to us as the relics of by-gone ages.

Having had such an end in view, and being distinguished by the lively fancy with which his sketches are adorned, and the freedom and fluency with which he throws them off, it will at once be surmised that our author has produced a work possessing no great depth. Throughout his pages, we are told what the eye saw, what the ear heard, what the heart felt. We are not bored by heavy scholarship, nor improved by profound reflections, nor enlightened by compilations from others' books, nor led astray by a pretence of deep acquaintance with ancient history or modern researches. The work therefore belongs to that popular class of travels which deal with the heart more than with the head, and which, when directed to the lands more interesting to Christian people than all others, caused all eyes to turn towards Eliot Warburton, and which, exhibited still more distinctly by Mr. Kinglake, have made the name of Eothen immortal.

The peculiar phase of Indian scenery and Indian life, which Mr. Taylor describes, is well worth looking at. In India all intelligent men work hard ; harder we believe than men in similar situations do in England. Overcome by heat and weariness, residents here are little given to sight-seeing. Men are anxious to make money, and be off to enjoy it in a more grateful clime, almost declining altogether the recreations and rational pleasures which they might find even in this land of exile. There are hundreds of residents in India, who do not in the least appreciate the country where their lot is cast. Hundreds of persons come and reside for years in our presidency towns, absorbed in business of varied kinds, and having secured the end for which they came, turn their faces homeward, without an effort to make a journey into the interior, to see some of the numerous wonders with which the land is filled. Unhappily we have very few, if any, books that can be regarded as complete guides to these wonders. Heber's travels, one of the best in former times, is now much out of date. The routes he describes are unfrequented, and his modes of travelling have become obsolete. A work therefore like that of our author, which describes in a lively and most readable manner, the objects which an experienced traveller thought most worthy of observation only three or four years ago, cannot be without interest to those who wish to take advantage of a brief holiday, and to see, with their own eyes, on a large scale, the India of the present day.

The more thoroughly this country is examined, and compared with other lands peopled by orientals, the more clearly will it be seen, what a splendid heritage has been bestowed by its conquest on the English Crown, and what a glorious work has to be performed in elevating it to its proper place among the nations. Not only has it excellencies peculiar to itself, but in all that it shares in common with other eastern lands, few can surpass the position which it takes up. We need not refer here to its many races, especially the warlike tribes of Upper India; nor to its many valuable products, especially its finest fabrics, in jewel. lery, shawls, and silk, that rival even western skill. Even in the features of its landscapes, the structure of its cities, and in its monuments of ancient grandeur, it falls not a whit behind the position occupied by other portions of the eastern world. Its boundless plains, laden with crops of rice, and wheat, and mustard, are far more extensive, and not less fertile, than those of Rumelia and Egypt. The icy capes and mountains of Siberia cannot be compared with the higher range of the Himalaya, whose proud monarchs rear their heads to the blue heaven in silent grandeur, crowned with eternal snow. The wide-spread valleys of Cashmere and the Dhoon are not less lovely than that of Samarkand, or even than the far-famed vale of Tempe itself. Delhi and Lucknow will well compare with Cairo or Constantinople. The strange arches of Orissa, and the towers of the temples at Purí and Konarák, find no parallel, but in the Cyclopean walls of the Peloponnesus, and in the Treasury of Mycenæ. The Alhambra is proud among palaces; but our author declares it to be far surpassed by the palaces of Akbar and Shah Jehan. The tombs of the Mamelukes are numbered among the celebrities of Cairo; but they are more than equalled by those of kings, priests and nobles, scattered widely round the cities of Agra and Delhi. The Church of St. Sophia and the mosque of Suleiman are the pride of Constantinople ; but amongst all Mahommedan buildings, whether mosques or mausoleums, nothing can come up to the exquisite beauty and wondrous grandeur of the Taj Mahál. These things appear plain to travellers, who, from personal experience, are able to compare the scenery and the





[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

monuments of one land with those of another far distant. In spite of present disorders, we hope that the day will soon come, when the best portions of India will be rendered easily accessible; and when all will be able to take advantage of even brief hours of leisure, in examining those features both of the country and of its monuments, which it is most desirable to know.

Our traveller commences his account of India, by an excellent description of Aden, its western portal. He thence passed to Bombay, where he landed, December 27, 1853. He thus describes his state of mind, as he drew near the desired haven :

I have rarely approached any country with a keener interest. Scarce Vasco de Gama himself, after weathering the Cape of Storms, could have watched for the shores of India with more excited anticipation. That vision of gorgeous Ind, the Empress far away in the empurpled East, throned on the best grandeurs of History, and canopied by sublime tradition, was about to be confirmed, or displaced for

Near at hand, close behind the blue sea-horizon, lay that which would either heighten the fascination of her name, or make it thenceforth but an empty sound to the ear of Fancy."

Having remained but a few days in Bombay, Mr. Taylor says very little about the city, the fort, and the society of the place. His chief visits were paid to some Parsi friends, at whose house he beheld a nautch ; and to the well-known caves in the island of Elephanta. He thus describes the colossal heads for which the caves are celebrated, and gives what we conceive to be an original explanation of the model from which the capitals of the pillars in the subterranean temples were first formed:

“The Portuguese, in their zeal for destroying heathen idols, planted cannon before the entrance of the cave, and destroyed many of the columns and sculptured panels, but the faces of the colossal Trinity have escaped mutilation.

“This, the Trimurti, is a grand and imposing piece of sculpture, not unworthy of the best period of Egyptian art. It reminded me of the colossal figures at Aboo-Simbel, though with less of serene grace and beauty. It is a triple bust, and with the richly-adorned mitres that crown the heads, rises to the height of twelve feet. The central head, which fronts the entrance, is that of Brahma, the Creator, whose large, calm features, are settled in the repose of conscious power, as if creation were to him merely an action of the will, and not an effort. On his right hand is Vishnu, the Preserver, represented in profile. His features are soft and feminine, full of mildness and benignity, and are almost Grecian in their outlines, except the under lip, which is remarkably thick and full. The hair falls in ordered ringlets from under a cap, something between a helmet and a mitre. The right arm, which is much mutilated, is lifted to the shoulder, and from the half-closed hand droops a lotus-blossom. The





third member of the Trinity, the terrible Shiva, the Destroyer, is on the left of Brahma, and, like Vishnu, his head is turned so

as to present the profile. His features are totally different from the other two. His forehead is stern ridged at the eyebrows; his nose strongly aquiline, and his lips slightly parted, so as to show his teeth set, with an expression of fierce cruelty and malignity. A cobra twists around his arm and hand, which grasps the snake by the neck and holds it on high, with hood expanded, ready to strike the deadly blow.

“ Nothing astonished me more, in this remarkable group, than the distinct individuality of each head. With the exception of the thick under lip, which is common to all three, the faces are those of different races. Brahma approaches the Egyptian, and Vishnu the Grecian type, while Shiva is not unlike the Mephistopheles of the modern German school.

“ The columns supporting the roof were unlike any others I had seen. The lower part is square, resting on a plinth, but at about half the height it becomes circular and fluted—or rather filleted, the compartments having a plane and not a concave surface. The capital is a flattened sphere, of nearly double the diameter of the shaft, having a narrow disc, with fluted edges, between it and the architrave. I knew these columns must have some type in Nature, and puzzled myself to find it. On visiting one of the smaller temples on the eastern side of the island, the resemblance flashed upon me at once—it was the poppy-head. The globular capital, and its low, fluted crown, are copied almost without change from the plant, and these two symbols—the poppy and the lotus—with the closed eyelids and placid faces of the colossal guardians, give the whole temple an air of mystic and enchanted repose. One involuntarily walks through its dim and hushed aisles with a softer step, and speaks, if he must speak, in an undertone."

Our author's general view of Pagan religions is expressed in the following extract :

“ There is something in every form of religion worthy of general respect ; and he who does not feel this, can neither understand nor appreciate the Art which sprang from the ancient Faiths. Our teachers of religion speak with sincere and very just horror and contempt of all forms of idolatry ; yet, under pain of their anathemas, I dare assert, that he who can revile Osiris and Amun-Re, is unworthy to behold the wonders of Thebes. The Christian need not necessarily be an iconoclast: nay more, his very faith, in its perfect charity, and its boundless love, obliges him to respect the shrines where the mighty peoples of the ancient world have bowed and worshipped. Besides, there is truth, however dim and eclipsed, behind all these outward symbols. Even the naked and savage Dinkas of Central Africa worship trees; and so do I. The Parsees worship the sun, as the greatest visible manifestation of the Deity; and I assure you, I have felt very much inclined to do the same, when He and I were alone in the Desert. But let not the reader, therefore, or because I respect the feeling of worship, when expressed in other forms than my own, think me a Pagan.”

Against the doctrines laid down in this extract, we object on many grounds. We had thought that the views expressed in Pope's Universal Prayer' had been long since exploded among men of sense, from being so perfectly inconsistent with each other. In studying the religions of the world, regard must be paid, not merely to the fact of men's worship, but also to its objects. Amongst men all objects of knowledge are known by the qualities and characters with which they are invested. The ancient Jove, the goddess Aphrodite, the Hindu Mahadeo, Krishna, and Kali, the Gods of the Khonds, the devils feared by the Shánars and Yezidees, have each and all distinctive attributes, by which they are separated from all other objects of knowledge or of faith, and by which they are specially known to their worshippers. How can they be representatives of the one true God, with whose real attributes theirs have scarcely any thing in common? Those that worship them cannot be said to worship Him. The difference is not merely one of name. It is an essential difference of persons, because it is a difference of fundamental attributes. Religious worship, to be acceptable, must be paid to the right person, who, so far as he is known, must at least be known correctly. How can he be worshipped rightly, where his true attributes are unknown ? Again, the worship even of the works of God is idolatry : idolatry is folly; -and idolatry is strictly forbidden. There is a great difference between paying homage to the work, and indulging in that admiration, which at once calls to mind the Creator with thankful joy, and revels in his works with filial delight. Mr. Taylor would do the former, as the Parsees do. The patriarch Job however condemned what he



says :
“ If I beheld the sun when it shined;
Or the moon walking in brightness,
And my heart hath been secretly enticed,
Or my mouth hath kissed my hand ;

Then I should have denied the God that is above." In addition to these views of worship in general, we object strongly to Mr. Taylor's account of the Hindu religious system. Its earliest form, as made known to us in the Vedas, especially in their Upanishads, is by no means a “consistent monotheism.' It is an avowed pantheism, taught in the clearest and most express terms, with transmigration and even idolatry accompanying it. The present number of Gods received by the Hindus, is not 33 millions, but 330 millions : and we have never seen

« PreviousContinue »