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Native Princes, who had always been proud of their alliance.
Two centuries had elapsed without any particular information concerning the Syrian Christiáns in Malay-Ala. It was doubted by many whether they existed at all ; but if they did exist, it was thought probable that they must possess some interesting documents of Christian antiquity. The Author conceived the design of visiting them, if practicable, in his tour through Hindostan. He presented a short memoir on the subject, in 1805, to Marquis Wellesley, then Governor.general of India ; who was pleased to give orders that every facility should be afforded to him in the prosecution of his inquiries. About a year after that Nobleman had left India, the Author proceeded on his Tour. It was necessary that he should visit first the Court of the Rajah of Travancore, in whose dominions the Syrian Christians resided, that he might obtain permission to pass to their country. The two chief objects which he proposed to himself in exploring the state of this ancient people, were these : First, to investigate their literature and history, and to collect Biblical manuscripts. Secondly, if he should find them to be an intelligent people, and well acquainted with the Syriac Scriptures, to endea
vour to make them instruments of illuminating the Southern part of India, by engaging them in translating their Scriptures into the Native Languages. He had reason to believe that this had not yet been done; and he was prepared not to wonder at the delay, when he reflected how long it was before his own countrymen began to think it their duty to make versions of the Scriptures, for the use of other nations.
· Palace of Travancore, 19th Oct. 1806. . I have now been a week at the palace of Trivandurum, where the Rajuh resides. A letter of introduction from Lieut.-Colonel Macaulay, the British resident at Travancore, procured me a proper reception. At my first audience His Highness was very inquisitive as to the objects of my journey. As I had servants with me of different casts and languages, it was very easy for the Brahmins to discover every particular they might wish to know, in regard to my profession, pursuits, and manner of life. When I told the Rajah that the Syrian Christians were supposed to be of the same religion with the English, he sa i he thought that could not be the case, else he must have heard it before; if, however, it was so, he considered my desire to visit them as being very reasonable. I assured His Highness that their Shaster and ours was the same; and shewed him a Syriac New Testament which I had at hand. The book being bound and gilt after the European manner, the Rajah shook his head, and said he was sure there was
not a native in his dominions who could read that book. I observed that this would be proved in a few days. The Dewan (or Prime Minister) thought the character something like what he had seen sometimes in the houses of the Sooriani. The Rajah said he would afford me every facility for my journey in his power. He put an emerald ring on my finger, as a mark of his friendship, and to secure me respect in passing through his country; and he directed his Dewan to send proper persons with me as guides.
• I requested that the Rajah would be pleased to present a Catalogue of all the Hindoo Manuscripts in the Temples of Travancore to the College of Fort William, in Bengal. The Brahmins were very averse to this ; but when I shewed the Rajah the Catalogues of the books in the Temples of Tanjore, given by the Rajah of Tanjore, and of those of the Temple of Ramisseram, given me by order of the Rannie (or Queen) of Ramnad, he desired it might be done : and orders have been sent to the Hindoo College of Trichoor for that purpose.'*
< Chinganoor ; a Church of the Syrian Christians,
Nov. 10th, 1806. "From the palace of Travancore I proceeded to Mavely-car, and thence to the hills at the bottom of the high Ghauts, which divide the Carnatic from Malay-Ala.
* These three Catalogues, together with that of the Rajah of Cochin, which the Author procured afterwards, are now deposited in the College of Fort-William, and probably contain the Hindoo literature of the South of India.
The face of the country in general, in the vicinity of the. mountains, exhibits a varied scene of bill and dale, and winding streams. These streams fall froin the mountains and preserve the valleys in perpetual verdure. The woods produce pepper, cardamoms, and cassia, or common cinnamon; also frankincense and other aromatic gums. What adds much to the grandeur of the scenery in this country is, that the adjacent mountains of Travancore are not barren, but are covered with forests of teak wood (the Indian oak,) producing, it is said, the largest timber in the world.
«The first view of the Christian Churches in this sequestered region of Hindostan, connected with the idea of their tranquil duration for so many ages, cannot fail to excite pleasing emotions in the mind of the beholder. The form of the oldest buildings is not unlike that of some of the old Parish Churches in England; the style of building in both being of Saracenic origin. They have sloping roofs, pointed arched windows, and buttresses supporting the walls. The beams of the roof being exposed to view are ornamented ; and the ceiling of the choir and altar is circular and fretted. In the Cathedral Churches, the shrines of the deceased bishops are placed on each side of the altar. Most of the Churches are built of a reddish stone, * squared and
* This stone possesses a singular property. At the quarry it is so soft that it may be pared with a knife, and modelled in any fashion with ease, but when exposed to the air, it indurates like adamant. Dr. Francis Buchanan, of Bengal, wished me to bring home a specimen of this stone, which he had not seen in any of the collections in Britain.
polished at the quarry; and are of durable construction, The bells of the churches are cast in the foundries of the country; some of them are of large dimensions, and have inscriptions in Syriac and Malay-alim. In approaching a town in the evening, I once heard the sound of the bells among the hills; a circumstance which made me forget for a moment that I was in Hindostan, and reminded me of another country.
- The first Syrian Church which I saw was at Mavelycar: but the Syrians here are in the vicinity of the Romish Christians; and are not so simple in their manners as those nearer the mountains. They had been often visited by Romish emissaries in former times : and they at first suspected that I belonged to that communion. They had heard of the English, but strangely supposed that they belonged to the Church of the Pope in the West. They had been so little accustomed to see a friend, that they could not believe that I was come with any friendly purpose. Added to this, I had some discussions with a most intelligent priest, in regard to the original language of the Four Gospels, which he maintained to be Syriac'; and they suspected from the complexion of my argument, that I wished to weaken the evidences for their antiquity.* Soon, however, the
*" You concede," said the Syrian, " that our Saviour spoke in our language ; how do you know it?" From Syriac expressions in the Greek Gospels. It appears that he spoke Syriac when he walked by the way (Ephphatha), and when he sat in the house Taliiha Cumi), and when he was upon the cross (Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani). The Syrians were pleased when