« PreviousContinue »
THIRD PAPER. -IN CEYLON.
BY THE REV. EDWARD J. ROBINSON. GR REEN all through the year to the Gospel Propagation Society in 1840. High
water's edge and the mountain's brow, advice and patronage distributed the little the claim of this lovely island to be called band of Wesleyans, to minister in the old Paradise may be allowed without going up to churches in important towns to otherwise worship the footprint of our great progenitor shepherdless Burghers. While thus engaged, on Adam's Peak. Our illustration (p. 193) the separated Englishmen remembered that gives a glimpse of the roads made since 1800; they were travelling preachers, and attended of the primitive and present luggage-van of also to pastoral, educational, and literary the country; of the cocoa-nut trees which duties. When their services as free colonial fringe the island, shade every village, and chaplains were no longer wanted, they were cover many a broad plantation; and of the apt, on entering as itinerants into one lithe native's mode of climbing, not by throw- another's labours, to improve too much and ing his legs round the trunk, but by pressing often on one another's plans. The Ameriagainst it a band held between his feet. Next cans, frowned upon by the too suspicious to the cocoa-nut tree in importance is the great, eschewed the towns and English serequally tall palmyra, whose leaves are not vices, and settled in a group of villages, only useful for thatch and fence, but for the working in departments. Thus clinging fan and the book, and whose tough timber together, they kept home and country makes the framework of the house and the with them, while their pursuits were purely machinery of the well. Of the pearl-fishery and directly missionary, and their system on the west, and the famous Trincomalie secured continuity of operation. Experience harbour on the east ; of fruit-groves of and observation, failure and success, at last various kinds, and cinnamon and coffee gar- made every society many-handed like a dens; of the railway to Kandy; of Buddha's Hindu god; and the time arrived when the tooth; of apes and peacocks, serpents, chee- missionaries, of whichever denomination, tahs, elephants, and ivory; of satin-wood, whether they were grouped or scattered, teak, and ebony; of the wonderful remains of could keep all departments fairly and harmoancient cities ; of costumes, ceremonies, and niously going by the agency of converted countless attractive matters, we have no natives. space to write.
The importance was soon perceived of The extreme length of Ceylon is 270 attempting to educate the children of the miles, its greatest breadth 145; and it now country. Except as a relief to parents and contains a population of 2,400,000, of whom a lesson to the missionaries, the first ver1,670,000 are Singhalese, being Buddhists nacular schools were not of much use, from and devil-worshippers; 534,000 Tamils, a Christian standpoint. The abridgment votaries of Siva and kindred deities ; 164,000 and expurgation of Tamil authors was a vain Moormen or Mohammedans, who speak precaution, whetting the appetite of teachers Tamil and are the chief merchants and and taught for the fruit forbidden. The boy, bankers of the island ; a few Malays, followers by his father's command, and not hindered of the Arabian prophet, mostly connected by the mercenary schoolmaster, brought his with the Ceylon Rifles ; some thousands of own ola containing the rejected passages. I Burghers or Dutch descendants, whose dia- seldom visited a purely Tamil school without lects are English and Indo-Portuguese; and discovering some history or poem only fit, about 4,000 British.
in many parts of it, to paganize both intellect A fitter field for missionary operations and heart, which my approach had caused to could not have been selected. Not only be wrapped in a cloth, placed under a mat, was the country intrusted by Divine Pro- or thrown on a shelf or into a corner. These vidence to the British sceptre, it was a centre institutions have since improved, and perhaps of influence for our millions of fellow-subjects done some missionary service, the masters in Hindustan, and for the outside multitudes employed in them being at length not of of Burmah and China. The Baptists began necessity double-faced heathens, but persons their mission in Ceylon in 1812, the Wesleyans trained under a deepening and broadening in 1814, the American Board in 1817, the Christian influence. Church Missionary Society in 1818, and the Yet secular knowledge alone may be enough
to undermine and explode their heathenism. pices, the most important of them sprang up A single illustration will suffice to show this. at Colombo, Jaffna, and Batticotta, for boys, Vesuvenathar, an aged Brahmin of Batticotta, and at Oodooville, Jaffna, and Nellore, for in North Ceylon, was the most learned girls
. Attendance at pagan temples was native astronomer. In the calculations pub- impossible to the inmates of these institutions; lished in his almanac respecting an eclipse of they were required to dispense with sectarial the moon, to take place on the 20th of marks and religious badges, and kept from March, 1829, three errors were discovered heathen society; and they were obliged to by the accomplished American missionaries. join in morning and evening prayer at the The true reckoning showed that the eclipse family altar, to go to the Sunday school, to would commence a quarter of an hour attend the public services in church or chapel, sooner than he had said, that it would con- and to observe other rules and duties of tinue twenty-four minutes longer, and that it which the direct and undisguised aim was to would cover three digits more of the moon's win them to the Saviour. Of course no one disc. After having repeatedly, with the was forced into these institutions; admission assistance of brother-astronomers, reviewed was voluntary, but these were the well-known his calculations, and confirmed himself in conditions under which admission was obtheir accuracy, Vesuvenathar rejoiced in an tained. Many difficulties had to be overopportunity to discomfit and expose the come before these Church nurseries were of strangers. The country watched, and won- service. The people entertained the wildest dered which party would be triumphant. A fancies as to the designs of the missiontrusty pandaram applied himself to ascertain aries. Were the poor children wanted to be precisely the questions in dispute, and learned reared for slaves, trained for soldiers, sent to use a watch, and compare our mode of into the interior of the island, or transported reckoning time with that of the natives; and to some foreign country? It was incredible he openly testified that in all the three that, from mere motives of benevolence, men points the missionaries had won the day. and women of another race had travelled The failure of the great professor was re- thousands of miles to receive, support, and garded as a heavy blow to the religion of educate children of persons they had never North Ceylon. Not that religion could be seen. To the astonishment of the public, true or false because of the truth or error of six little boys were at length confided by the predictions of its upholders; but so it their parents to the persuasive foreigners; was regarded by the people, and their con- but some time elapsed before other heads of clusion was sound, whatever may be said of families followed the example. After the the reason for it.
people were satisfied that the children were If it had been enough to convey secular taken good care of, the missionaries still coninstruction, it might have been difficult to sidered it expedient to yield for a time to find better teachers than the missionaries; certain prejudices. When the brethren from but they had higher aims, and avowedly did America opened the Batticotta seminary, to their utmost to impart a Christian education. become one of the most efficient and popular Nothing but such an aim would have educational establishments in the East, no reconciled them to spend many hours every boys could be discovered who would consent, day among urchins, some of whom were or whose friends would permit them, to take only interesting as children of God, and their food within the mission premises. A destined to immortality. By means, in cooking and eating house was, therefore, part, of the word of God, the mission erected on an adjoining piece of land belongaries learned the native language and ing to a heathen; and more than a year taught their own, gave lessons in history and passed before the missionaries ventured on geography, and preached the way to heaven. transferring the kitchen establishment to Natives have followed their example. There their own enclosure. When the removal was are Tamil pastors who testify that the begin effected, several of the youths, rather than ning of their training for the ministry was in endanger character and caste,“ took up their the school use of the Holy Bible. Catechisms beds, and walked,” most of them to return are daily taught in the chief schools. thankfully after their friends had found time
The missionaries went on to establish for consultation. Another difficulty in the boarding schools, chiefly houses of residence same school was with the three or four wells, and discipline in connection with large abundantly sufficient for all demands, within central academies, to which day scholars were the mission boundary. The hopeful puviis admitted. Under different names and aus- agreed that, since these excellent wells had
all been used by persons connected with the missionaries and their wives are the most mission family, the water they contained virtuous and domestic, and the most respectcould not be pure enough for Tamils, and able. that every drop should be drawn out of one In the year 1851, of the 1,425 children of them, and the well undergo a thorough then in the 32 Wesleyan schools in the Tamil cleansing. It being the rainy season, they district, 3 were Singhalese, 4 English, 23 found it more easy to exhaust themselves Malays, 37 children of Moormen, 104 Porthan the well, which was nearly as full as tuguese and Dutch descendants, and 1,254 ever after they had toiled with the water- Tamil children. In religious profession, i of baskets a whole day. The time had come them was a Buddhist, 6o were Mohammedans, for them to bring their minds, if possible, to 90 Mary-worshippers, 192 Protestants, and their circumstances; and sure that at least as 1,082 worshippers of Siva and the kindred much water had been drawn as the well con- deities. Returns from South Ceylon would tained when they commenced their efforts, have been similar, the relative proportions of there could be no doubt, they reasoned, that the Singhalese and Tamils being changed. the spring now issued purely. Such are Three permanent scholarships have been samples of the minor, yet by no means in- founded in connection with the Wesleyan significant obstacles to his work which the central schools in the Tamil district, which missionary has to bear with and overcome. are affiliated to the Calcutta University. These institutions, however, are now eagerly | There are now maintained by the various sought, and candidates for admission are Protestant societies in Ceylon, not in all more numerous than can be accommodated cases without Government aid, about 390 in them.
schools, containing 18,000 children. In the beginning of the century the preju All the societies have, with great success, dice against female education was strong. A worked printing establishments; but that of few girls might be seen among the boys in the Americans at Manepy has been on the the native schools; but every one knew that largest scale, and has exerted the widest inthey were intended to be temple-women. fluence. Hundreds of natives have been taught
To propose that other girls should be taught the arts of printing and binding; and the style to read and write was to lay the axe to the and ola are everywhere giving place to pen root of all authority and virtue. They would and type and paper. The large and ceasebe refusing the husbands chosen for them, less production of copies of the Bible, and conducting correspondence on their own Prayer Books, hymn-books, treatises, tracts, account. Nevertheless the Wesleyans opened lexicons, translations, school - books, and small day-schools for girls in 1817. Under periodicals has diffused knowledge through their auspices, in 1846, Mary J. Swamanadar, thousands of families. With the help of the daughter of a pious moodliar, originated an British and Foreign Bible Society, the entire excellent school in Puliantivo, over which | Scriptures have been published in Tamil and she continues to preside. In 1821 the Ame- Singhalese, the Pentateuch, Psalms, and ricans established at Oodooville the first girls' New Testament in Indo-Portuguese, and the boarding-school in Ceylon. The Methodists books of the New Testament in Pali. started one at Jaffna in 1838, and the ex In conducting services in their churches ample was followed ere long by the Church and chapels the missionaries of all the of England at Nellore. The first scholars societies have, of course, been diligent. were baited with pieces of cloth, and the As to itinerant work, not meaning to dispromise of small marriage portions. Dreaded parage others, I can speak most confidently at the outset, these boarding-schools won so of my old acquaintances the Americans and good a reputation that admission into them Methodists. It is still their custom to start was soon sought with the greatest eagerness. off to the villages for miles around their They have led to the formation of many a homes, accompanied by native preachers and home deservedly so called. The wife, a ser- catechists. In the course of their journeys vant formerly, may in this day be a com- many conversations are held in the name of panion. To be seen in a public assembly Christ with villagers at their doors; and in was a disgrace; now women are present, every place where they halt they get as many amply veiled, in front of the congregation, of the people together as they can, and and communicate in the Sacrament of the preach the Saviour to them, in connection Lord's Supper. There are female Scripture- with singing, prayer, tract distribution, and readers and class-leaders. It is perceived by Bible-hawking. They are not too particular the natives that women educated by the as to where they plant their standard, but
A Road in Ceylon, lift up their voices wherever there are ears to farmer might like to stack his hay under. hear. Their charity beginning at home, the The third is in the shadow of a spreading first meeting is held in a place of Christian tree outside a bazaar, the next in the large worship. The second is in a school-bungalow compound of a friendly native, the next in open at the sides and ends, a shed thatched a field belonging to a European planter. with palmyra leaves, such as an English Suppose the meeting to be out of doors after
sunset, some of the people sit on mats spread alone have now 12 native ministers among on the ground, and others stand about, lights the Tamils of the island, and 34 among the and shadows flitting curiously over them from Singhalese, not counting catechists and a lamp screened by an upright mat from the others. And the success of the Rev. John evening wind.
Kilner, and his able lieutenant the Rev. A famous beater of bushes was the Rev. Edmund Rigg, in organizing these young Ralph Stott. He would go into a village, and churches and teaching them self-support, is get into conversation with some one on the a matter of surprise and joy. way. Another would join them, and another; Attempts were made, under the patronage and as the company increased he would and with the aid of the Government agent at gradually raise his voice till he found himself Batticaloe, to arrest the decay of the Bintenne preaching the gospel to a large congregation. Veddahs; but these unhappily proved unsucWhen he excited angry opposition, as, of cessful. Some of these wild men were supplied course, he did sometimes, he had his own with agricultural implements, and induced to way of meeting it. In a Batticaloe village, settle in a new village ; but the native placed when a furious native came up with the thick over them degenerated into an unfaithfulness hard stalk of a cocoa-frond in his hand, and that sent them back to their forest haunts threatened to stop his eloquence, he dis- and ways. Both agent and missionary were armed him by kneeling down then and there a little too hasty in baptizing a number of among the people, and praying aloud for his the more hopeful of them. assailant's salvation. He was distinguished | frankly confess the mistake. These wild for his practice, strange in the East, of visiting hunters were placed in a row, and christened from door to door. If a heathen repelled one after another; but the foolish practice him from his compound he would fall upon of giving new and European names his knees, clasp his hands, close his eyes, and followed, and at the close of the ceremony with unaffected simplicity, in the hearing of it was discovered that no one among them reall around, pray for the man and his family. membered what he was called. It was then
There was considerable iconoclasm in sagely determined to give each person his Batticaloe in Mr. Stott's days. Several own name, plainly written, that there might converts gave up their idols, and the sheds be no mistake. The pieces of paper were that had accommodated them, to destruction. afterwards handed with solemn concern by When he first listed the axe, the people their respective owners, none of whom could looked on with a degree of awe, thinking it read, to the wise head-nian, to be taken care possible for the gods to take care of them- of; and he mixed them all together, making it selves. He was more successful than a impossible for any one in the settlement to workman who tried to cut down a demon- recover the knowledge of who was who. haunted tree at Cattavelly in the north, and Whilst rejoicing in the triumphs of was hurled to the ground by the resisting earnest faith and labour, I must confess spirit, that is to say, fell from the ladder. that it has been a great pain to me that the Mr. Stott's operations brought no disaster to Burgher population have not had the respect himself or his agents. In 1844, he broke from the missionaries which they deserved. thirteen stone pilleyars, and pulled down five We began our work in their sanctuaries, and thatched tabernacles in which they had been found among them exemplary Christians, kept for worship. The huts were most of like Mrs. Schrader, who translated many them too small for Christian uses ; but I hymns into Ceylon-Portuguese, and was a remember giving tickets to a Methodist class faithful helper and ornament to the church in one of them, which its owner had presented which she joined. If the most had been to the mission, in a place called Carova- made of the honest descendants of the pancany.
Dutch, they would have proved an admirable The total number in Ceylon, for all the middle class, speaking the proper languages Protestant missions, were very recently 38 of the country more fluently than stiffEnglish ministers, 92 native pastors, 591 lay mouthed foreigners, and exerting themselves agents, 4,800 church members, and 19,000 usefully in educational and evangelistic regular hearers. About one-third of the service. Nevertheless, since this century baptisms last year were of adult persons, began, Ceylon has been the field of a brave and there were many inquirers in catechumen service, a service which has in a few years classes. The first Hindoo ordained in the overcome the habits of centurics, and is Church of England, the Rev. Christian changing this kingdom of idols into a kingDavid, was a Ceylonese. The Methodists I dom of our Lord and of His Christ.