Page images
PDF
EPUB

There is one argument for the expediency of an Ecclesiastical Establishment, which the Author did not insist on strongly in the Memoir from motives of delicacy; but récent events have rendered the same reserve no longer necessary. He will proceed, therefore, to disclose a fact which will serve to place the motives for recommending such an establishment in their just light-It is not the giving the Christian Religion to the natives which will endanger our Empire, but the want of religion among our own countrymen. After the disturbance among the British Officers in Bengal, in 1794, which for a time had a most alarming aspect, being of the same character with that which took place lately at Madras, a memorial was presented to the Marquis Wellesley, on his accession to the government, by persons who had been long in the service of the Company, and who were well acquainted with the circumstances of the Empire at large, representing the necessity of a “ suitable Religious Establishment for British India ;” and illustrating that necessity by the events which had recently taken place in the

" India, will be an enduring MONUMENT of British Piety and " Liberality, for which the sacrifice of Prayer and Thanksgiving fi will ascend to the Most High, to the latest generations,

army. That Memorial referred to the almost total extinction of Christian worship, at the military stations, where the seventh day was only distinguished by the British Flag; and noticed the fatal consequences that might be expected from large bodies of men, far remote from the controlling power of the parent state, enjoying luxury and independence, and seeing nothing, from youth to age, of the religion of their country. It shewed further, that, of the whole number of English who go to India, not a tenth part return: and assigned this fact as a reason why their religion should follow them to the East; that it might be, in the first place, a solace to themselves, in the dreary prospect of dying in that foreign land (for of a thousand soldiers in sickly India, there will be generally a hundred in declining health ;) and, secondly, “ that it might be some security for their loyalty

to their king, and their attachment to the principles of their country."

It required not a Memorial to apprize Marquis Wellesley of the truth of these facts, or of the justness of the reasoning upon them. The necessity of a meliorated state of existence for the English armies, was made evident to him by his own observation, and it cannot be doubted that, had that Nobleman remained in India to complete the plans which he meditated for the advantage of that country, and his coadjutor, Mr. Pitt, lived, a suitable Religious Establishment would have been, by this time, proposed to the East India Company, for every part of their dominions in Hindostan. But Marquis Wellesley had another and a more imperious service first to perform, and that was, to SAVE THE BODY OF THE EMPIRE ITSELF. British Hindostan was, at that moment, surrounded by strong and formidable enemies, who were putting themselves“ in the attitude of the tiger," as a Vakeel of Tippoo expressed it, “ to leap upon the prey.” And this service that great Statesman achieved, under Divine Providence, first, by destroying the Mysorean Empire, under Tippoo Sultaun, and thereby extinguishing the Mahomedan power in Hin. dostan; secondly, by overwhelming the hitherto invincible Mahrattas; and, lastly, by forming on the frontier a league of strength, which, like a wall of iron, has saved the country from native invasion ever since; notwithstanding its critical and exposed state, in consequence of frequent changes in the Supreme Government, and of dissensions in our army. The services which that Nobleman performed for our Empire in the East, were very ill under

stood at the time; his views were so comprehensive, that few men could embrace them.

- They are more generally acknowledged now; but it is to be apprehended that some years must yet elapse, before all the beneficial consequences of his administration will be fully made known to his country.

It has been a subject of wonder to many in England, that our army should at any time betray symptoms of disaffection in India when no instance of it occurs elsewhere. But the surprise will cease, when the circumstances before mentioned shall have been duly weighed. Of the Individuals engaged in the late disturbances at Madras, there were perhaps some, who had not witnessed the Service of Christian worship for twenty years; whose minds were impressed by the daily view of the rites of the Hindoo religion, and had lost almost all memory

of their own. It is morally impossible to live long in such circumstances, without being in some degree affected by them. That loyalty is but little to be depended on, whether abroad or at home, which has lost the basis of religion.

The true spring of the irregular proceeding, contemptuous remonstrance, and ultimate disaffection of the military in India, is this : Large bodies of troops at a great distance from Bri

tain, which they never expect to see again, begin, after a long absence, to feel more sensibly their own independence, while their affection for their native country gradually diminishes. And if, under such circumstances, they have not the restraints of religion, (for what is obedience “ to the powers that be” but the restraint of religion?) and if they have not the frequent view of Christian worship to recal their minds, by association of ideas, to the sacred ordinances and principles of their country, it is impossible to foresee to what degrees of rebellion or infatuation they may proceed. It is unjust to ascribe these proceedings to the casual acts of the Governor for the time being. Indiscreet measures on his part may form the pretext; but the true cause lies much deeper. The Company's Officers in India are as honourable a body of military men'as are to be found in the world ; the Author knows them, but they are in peculiar circumstances; and if any other description of troops were in their stead, passing a whole life in such an unchristianizing service, the same causes would still produce the same effects.

The most alarming consideration, while things remain in their present state, is this, that, in proportion as our empire increases, and our force in India grows stronger, the danger arising from

« PreviousContinue »