Search just our sites by using our customised search engine
Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

The Life of John Wilson
Chapter IX. Tours—Gaiesoppa Falls—Rajpootana — Kathiawar — The Somnath Gates


1836-1842
TOURS—GAIRSOPPA FALLS—RAJPOOTANA—KATHIAWAR—THE SOMNATH GATES.

Sun-Worship tested by Arithmetic—Changes in Goa—Gairsoppa and its Falls Ajunta and the “ Possessed ” Bangle-Seller—First Tour to Rajpootana— Farewell to Dr. Duff—Civilisation of Baroda—Dr. Wilson and his Cashmere Shawls—Correcting Bishop Heber—Antiquities of Puttun—The Potter and the Sword-Maker—The Dewan of Pahlunpore—Native Christians without a Missionary Teacher—The Bheels and Sir James Outram—Aboo as it is—First Christian Mission in a Native State—Second Visit to Rajkote —The Prince’s Difficulty about the Existence of Evil—Dr. Wilson’s nearly Fatal Illness—Anna Bayne’s Death—Cholera Epidemic of 1842—Persuaded to take Furlough by prospect of a Tour in Syria—Sir W. Hill’s endowment of the Nagpore Mission—Sir W. H. Maenagliten—Sir George Arthur—Sir Bartle Frere’s First Friendship with Dr. Wilson—The Proclamation of the Somnath Gates—Macaulay and Lord Ellenborougli’s Recall.

Dr. Wilson’s combined missionary, scientific, and archaeological tonrs in the second period of six years which preceded his first visit to Europe, were not less thorough and fruitful in their results than those of the previous six years. February 1837 he devoted to an inspection of the old mission station of Hurnee and to a second visit to the Portuguese territory of Goa, his first survey of which had led him to give more attention to the many Portuguese and their descendants in Western India, known as Indo-Britons. It was his custom to examine Government as well as missionary schools at the request and generally in the presence of the authorities, wherever he went, as well as to hold services for the scattered and neglected English communities in distant stations. To the Government Marathee school of Hurnee, the pupils of which he found remarkably prompt in arithmetic, he proposed the question which they readily solved, “ If sound travel at the rate of 1140 feet a second, and the sun be 95,000,000 miles distant from the earth, what time will be required for a man’s prayers to reach that luminaryThe Brahmans seemed greatly amazed when they saw the result of a computation which really involved the whole teaching of their system. The examination closed with the suggestion to the Puntojee, or “dominie,” that he should extend his crossexaminations to the scope of the passages read as well as to the meaning of each word. The boys were rewarded with books, and their parents crowded to talk with the missionary.

At Goa Dr. Wilson found that a great change had taken place in three years. The Inquisition had been destroyed, but that fact was officially assigned as a reason why no books could be admitted into the settlement without the permission of the Archbishop or the Vicar-General. The number of the clergy had been reduced one-half since the tour of 1834, and all the monastic establishments had been shut up. Their libraries had been sold. The cruel intolerance of Menezes, the Synod of Diamper, and the Inquisition, was avenged. To this day the Archbishop of Goa finds it impossible to assert against the Belgian or French Archbishops of Madras and Bombay, Calcutta and Agra, who are directly subject to the Vatican, his powers under the old Bull, confirmed by two Popes, granting to Portugal in perpetuity whatever lands the great and good Prince Henry and his successors might discover from West Africa to the Indies inclusive. The Vicar-General refused the gift of a Portuguese Bible, alleging that the use of the translation is prohibited. When asked to point out any passages erroneously rendered, he exclaimed, Plurimi sunt, plurimi sunt, as he turned the leaves, but could not point out one. Dr. Wilson replied to him in the words of David, Testimonium Jehovae verax, sapientiam affevens impevito. The Vicar-General then changed his ground to the charge that this version omitted the Apocrypha. One of the clergy gladly took a Bible, while another presented him with two defences of Roman Catholicism recently published in Colombo, and full of flagrant mistranslations of Scripture. This passage follows in Dr. Wilson’s account of the tour:—“A respectable Portuguese officer spent the evening with us. His conversation turned principally on the errors of the Church of Rome, of many of which, like most of the Roman Catholic lay gentlemen whom I have met in India, he seemed to be well aware, and on the immoralities of some of the clergy in the State of Goa. One of them, he mentioned to us there could be little doubt, had been accessary lately to the exposure of his own illegitimate child, the body of which he himself found in the course of being devoured by ravens. The late archbishop he represented as one of the greatest debauchees in the colony. We heard his statements with pain, though we did not much wonder that the Papacy had been tolerant, nay, productive of many of the crimes which he mentioned.”

This may be compared with the picture drawn by Meadows Taylor in the last of his vivid romances of Indian life and history, A Noble Queen. The professors, 110 students, and resident clergy, at the college of Rachol in Salsette, showed much kindness to Dr. Wilson, and he records that he “particularly prepared” himself for a Latin discussion on the merits of the Vulgate and Portuguese translations of Scripture, which he conducted with two of them. One of his adversaries, taking him aside at the close, confessed his position to be most miserable, and was invited to Bombay. His reply was, Est mihi voluntas sed valde tlmeo. All through Goa the laity showed great eagerness for copies of a tractate containing correspondence between Captain Shortrede and Bishop Prender-gast on the heathenism of popery.

But the main interest now of this second tour to Goa lies in the opportunity which it gave Dr. Wilson to visit and describe what has been called the third of the greatest wonders of India, the Gairsoppa Falls, the Himalayas and the Taj Mahal being the other two. The four falls have since become famous in India, but the best English treatises of descriptive or physical geography are still ignorant of them. Some 340 miles south-east of Bombay, in its district of North Canara, the Sheravutty divides into several channels just above the old capital of Gairsoppa, famous three centuries ago for its queen, but plundered successively by the Portuguese, Hyder Ali, and Tippoo Saheb, and taken by assault by General Matthews a century ago. Dr. Wilson, who was accompanied by Dr. Smyttan, sent an account of the falls to his old professor, Dr. Jameson, and it appeared in his Philosophical Journal. The water falls eight times the depth of Niagara.

The brief college holiday in January 1838 was devoted to a second tour to Ajunta, with its caves, and to Jalna. The incidents are most pleasantly told by Dr. Wilson in letters to the sisters Bayne. The effect on a bangle or bracelet seller of one of the vernacular books distributed in the bazaar, On the Nature of God, he describes to have been “ such as I have never witnessed. ”

“2d February 1838.—When I was preaching in the evening a man came roaring into the enclosure in such a loud and frantic manner that he frightened the doctor, myself, and all present. He called out to me in the most awful manner which you can imagine, ‘ It is all true, It is all true, It is all true. You are my Gooroo, You are my Gooroo, You are my Gooroo,’ and then threw himself down on the ground with such violence that we feared he had fractured his skull. He quickly recovered himself, caught hold of my feet, and held them with such force that I was obliged to call on the people to extricate me, which with great difficulty they could effect. I tried to calm his mind, but his excitement gained ground notwithstanding all my efforts. His body was greatly convulsed ; and he tossed himself and tore himself in the most fearful manner. On every person but myself he loaded the vilest abuse, and particularly on two of his relatives. To me he gave ascriptions of praise proper to God only, and extolled me as the lord of Pandarpur, and several other idol-shrines. He cried out that he would never leave me till his death, which he declared would take place before the close of the evening. It was now but too evident that he was labouring under temporary derangement, if not under direct possession of the great adversary of souls, which the peculiarities of his case seemed most to indicate to us, notwithstanding all our cautious reserve of judgment. I succeeded, with the help of the natives, in getting beyond his grasp for a few moments, when Dr. Smyttan and I anxiously consulted together about what was proper to be done. We agreed to direct our whole efforts to the soothing of his mind; and to his friends, who ascribed his state to my enchantment, and who were afraid that we should carry him away with us, we gave the assurance that I receive none as disciples but those who are reasonably convinced, and that we should render them every assistance in our power in allaying his excitement. He would listen patiently to none of my counsel or instruction ; but when I found him willing to follow me I took him by the hand and led him to a house in the bazaar, where his friends said he could be accommodated for the night. They held him to the ground, while we, after promising to call upon him, in the morning, took our departure. After fighting with them for some time he got quite exhausted, and sank into a profound sleep. They carried him off early next morning before we could hold any communication with him. He belongs to the village of Shhvand, about six miles from Ajunta. He had proceeded about a mile on his return from the bazaar to that place, when he sat down to read the tract; and he flew to me -with the speed of lightning, bursting through all opposition, after his mind began to be affected. He is a man whose reason was never formerly known to be disordered. What his first emotions were on perusing the tract it is impossible to say. The probability from his own language is, that he gave to it his assent at the same time that Satan stirred up the evil feelings of his mind with a view to extinguish his convictions, and to misrepresent our cause in the eyes of the heathen. His case is a most singular one ; and what the result of the whole may be no man can tell. Our prayers ascended to heaven that Christ might say to the waves of his affliction, ‘ Be still,’ and that he might sit meekly at his feet, learn his Gospel, and receive it to the salvation of his soul. At what I have told you you will no doubt be astonished. I trust that the occurrence has been blessed to me, as impressing on my mind the fact that we are either the savour of life unto life or death unto death to those to whom we minister. How solemn are our circumstances!”

Again, at the beginning of 1839, he roamed among the jungles of the mainland, studying the aboriginal tribes, and preparing for a more permanent mission among them, till his stock of provisions was exhausted and his purse was empty. He was to meet a party at the Caves of Elephanta, to which he desired that ammunition for his gun might be sent. The ardent naturalist writes :—“I wounded an eagle the other day so much that I caught it, and I require to shoot some birds to keep it in life.”

To complete his Survey of the Hative States around the Province of Bombay, and to seek in the great stone cities and deserts of Upper India forms of Hindooism more ancient and more directly the fruit of its Yedic and Epic times than even the Brahmanism of Maharashtra could afford, Dr. Wilson had resolved to assign the early portion of 1840 to a tour in southwestern Rajpootana, with his new colleague Dr. Murray Mitchell. The visit of Dr. Duff delayed their departure, but they resolved to face the terrors of the hot season, which is, officially, considered to begin on the 15th March, when the cooling punkah is for the first time in each year allowed in the public offices. The tour may wrnll begin with this characteristic letter from its first stage at Tanna, honourable alike to the writer and to Dr. Duff:—

“Tanna, 28th February 1840.—My dearest Anna—I said little to you when I parted with you, because I felt much ; but I offered up to God the fervent prayer that his divine presence might remain with us while we are separated from one another. My supplication was not that of the moment. It still rises, and will rise from my heart, as I bend my footsteps on this great journey, which the desire of publishing peace to the unsoothed hearts of the inhabitants of Goojarat and Rajpootana has led me to undertake. You must conceive of me as always addressing the throne of heaven on your behalf ; and I shall have the same realisation of your blessed employment for my sake. It is only when our desires for our mutual welfare find their expressiou Godward that we can rest with confidence in the view of all that may await us.

“We went through the fatigues of yesterday wonderfully well; and I was quite refreshed by Dr. Duff’s admiration of the beauties of the Salsitian landscape, and the interest which he felt in the antiquities of its ancient forests. We rode together in the phaeton to Vehar, where we met with Mr. Nesbit,

Dr. Campbell, and Mr. Mitchell ; and after performing tlie usual operations of conservatism at the table of our old friend Merwanji, we sallied forth on our pilgrimage to the excavated mount. The liamals (bearers) groaned under the weight of their precious load—the apostle of the Ganges ; and two sturdy bullocks, Pandhya and Sona, dragged a crazy chariot containing the carcases encasing the souls of the other constituents of the choice fraternity. We were forced to dismount about a couple of miles from the abodes of the Buddhas, and with staif in hand, and over-canopied with chattris (umbrellas) from the west and the east, we plied our steps to the exalted regions. The sun himself entered into battle with us on the way, and he had nearly overpowered us before we could find refuge in the temple’s shade. He applied himself so sturdily to the monk of the Don that he had nearly succeeded in making his visage glow with a radiance as glorious as his own. We congratulated ourselves when we arrived at the terminus ad quern that we were not reduced to cinders, or melted into minerals, by his furnace heat. Our perambulations in the caves followed a second conservative repast, and the echo of our eloquent discourse caused the very hills to shake. The images themselves told us what they were and what they had been, and pointed to the tombs in which are enshrined the relics of their antitype. We performed qjradakshina round the Dhagobs, reclined on the living couches of the devotees of Xirwana, traversed the halls of instruction of the primitive intellectualists, peeped into the bowels of the earth, ascended the lofty stairs, and gazed on the beauty and grandeur of the famed isle.

I cannot tell what I felt when dear Mr. Nesbit, who had kept his intentions secret in the chambers of his own individuality during the day, announced that the moment had arrived when he and Dr. Duff must proceed to Panwel, and that without the formalities of worship, which the tide, he thought, would not await. We resolved, at all hazards, however, to part calling on the name of God; and after reading the 20th chapter of the Acts I endeavoured to conduct our devotions. My heart completely failed me when I was praying, but not before many supplications had proceeded from its inmost recesses. Dr. Duff, with whom I was so sorry to part because I felt that I should not again see him till the heavens are no more, addressed to us the words of comfort which his affectionate heart can so well indite, and we solemnly bade each other farewell. My memory will often visit the hallowed spot whence we moved asunder.”

This tour extended over a distance of 1525 miles. At Baroda Mr. Sutherland, the Resident, not unassisted by the influence of Dr. Wilson in his former visit to the Gaikwar, was able to announce the abolition of Suttee throughout the extensive territories of his Highness. Dr. Wilson was unable to wait there long enough to accept an invitation to renew his acquaintance with the Gaikwar ; but had much intercourse with his nobles.

“I had a long private interview with the Resident, during which we discussed at considerable length the abolition of Suttee in the native States, the cessation of the Government countenance of idolatry, the propriety of erecting an English school in Baroda, the measures to be adopted for the further suppression of infanticide, etc. He was very free and candid in his communications; and I am perfectly satisfied that he will do all in his power to forward the cause of philanthropy. I received from him the loan of several interesting works and documents connected with the country and the native Governments. At the Residency I met an important native personage named Govind Eao, whose son was adopted by the late Dewanjee of the Baroda State; and who, under the new arrangements with our Government, has been permitted to return to the city as a candidate for high political employment under the Gaikawar. Captain Fawcett, and Mr. Mitchell, Dr. Campbell aud I, went to pay a visit to'him at the Diwanji’s Wadi in the evening of the 21st ult. My friends were mounted on Mr. Sutherland’s elephant, which outstepped my bearers on the road to the city. We lost sight of one another in one of the lanes; and the wise men who were bearing me took me to the house of the king instead of to that of his minister! I had there the pleasure of seeing two of the Ranees (queens), whose curiosity introduced them to my view on one of the staircases. Having explained the error of the bipeds to the guards around me, I was quickly transported to what ought to have been my first destination. I found the trio sitting in a splendid apartment, and lost in wonder at the marvels around them. To me they had little novelty ; and the delay which had occurred in my movements consumed the time which should have been devoted to religious conversation. Alas! The first movement of the household in reference to our leaving the mansion revealed the kindness and liberality of its owners. Govind Eao rose to present each of us with a pair of Cashmere shawls and a turban ; and he succeeded in getting us to accept of them. The most valuable he set apart for myself; those next in a market-reckoning to Mr. Mitchell. Dr. Campbell, who was last served, fared worst. I determined for my own part to manage so as to give a snitable return ; and when the great man visited us with his followers on the 23d, I presented his son with an Atlas, phenakistoscope, and several helps to the acquisition of English which he has begun to study, and himself with several books. It was a relief to my feelings to be able to give him an exposition of Christian doctrine when he waited upon us. The Brahmans who attended him, as well as he himself, were very attentive to what I said. I must not forget to mention that he accompanied us to his gardens, which are in excellent order. The first fruits of the season were destined for our use ; and three men followed us home with baskets filled with them.”

From Baroda Dr. Wilson and his companion marched through the level country of Goojarat, by Khaira to which he sought to induce the Church to send a missionary. His journal corrects a few of “ the most amusing blunders ” of that very inaccurate but most pleasant book, Bishop Heber’s Narrative. Here he had much discussion with the Jains, one of whom proposed to write a reply to his letter to the priests of Palitana. Lieutenant Pilfold, “an excellent Sanskrit scholar,” copied for him Sanskrit inscriptions on his march to Deesa by Ahmedabad, Khaira, Puttun, and Pahlunpoor. At Puttun (“the city”), the ancient capital of Goojarat, they were met by Captain Lang, the scholarly political agent. After cross-examining a young Hindoo ascetic, so as to discover for the first time that the lengthened hair of these devotees is caused by twisting to the growth the thinning which is taken from it, the party proceeded to survey the ruins.

At Pahlunpoor, one of the vassal states of the Gaikwar, the Dewan held a durbar or court for the reception of the missionaries. He was Futh Khan, whom we had put 011 the throne as the rightful heir of the Afghan Chief first recognised by Akbar, to a principality which the Rajpoot Chief of Jodhpore had reduced to Pahlunpoor and Deesa. He lived till 1854, having been first acknowledged in 1794, and his son still rules after loyal services in the Mutiny. The most interesting visitor, however, was a Muhammadan, who had lived nine years in the Hedjaz of Arabia. He gave Hr. Wilson a description of the Ilajar-as-Swcid, exactly corresponding with the engraving in Burckhardt’s travels, but without expressing particular veneration for the sacred stone, the most venerable relic of antiquity in the eyes of Mussulmans. The British cantonment of Deesa, eighteen miles from the Dewan’s capital, was next visited, and the Sepoy regimental school was examined through Marathee. Its fifty-five pupils and regimental boys flocked to Dr. Wilson’s tent for books, and there. he instructed them in Christianity. “Many of the youth in the Army,” he writes on this occasion, “in consequence of its discipline and arrangements have had their faith in Hindooism greatly shaken. They are very observant of the walk and conversation of their officers, and they generally respect those of them who are imbued with the spirit of Christianity! ” Here Dr. Wilson was surprised by coming into contact with one of the many proofs, apparent to the experienced and unprejudiced observer of Hindoo society, that the leaven of Christianity is working by means and in directions such as no statistics can tabulate nor formal report record. The subsequent history of Christianity in India has revealed many similar cases of quasi-Christian sects, of “ almost Christians,” of “secret Christians,” and of Christian heresies and apostasies, caused by such an admixture of pantheistic speculation with Christ’s teaching as Gnosticism, Alexandria, and the early Oriental Churches illustrate.

"12th April.—We met three natives at Dr. Robson’s door, who said that they had been going about the camp in search of us, in consequence of the report of my having preached in the town of Deesa. To my inquiry, 'Who are you?’ they readily and emphatically answered, ‘We are Christians.'' We immediately repaired with them to the bungalow in which we were holding our meetings ; and I conversed with them, and addressed them respecting the interests of their immortal souls. The individual who took the lead in the conference with me stated that he is a Bhagcit, devoted to the service of Christ, that his name is Narottam Ladha, and that his class is that of the Lawana ; one of his companions, that he is a disciple of Narottam, named Daman Deva, and of the Ivhatree class ; and the other, that he is a Jain Mehta, named Natharam Dalichand, and an inquirer into the doctrine of Christianity, of the truth of which he is thoroughly convinced. Narottam remarked that he teaches Christianity to those who listen to him, and receives the support which they voluntarily afford. His knowledge, he said, he had received from hooks, and from conversation with a native convert from Bengal, named Kainilakant Rao. His profession of Christianity he had assumed, and his attempts to propagate Christianity he had commenced and carried on without any consultation with Europeans. He had seen the Bishop of Bombay, however, and Mr. Fletcher, on the occasion of their visit to Deesa last year, and is acquainted with Mr. Pemberton, the chaplain, whose services in the church he sometimes attends, with a partial knowledge of what is said though he himself is unable to converse in English. I found, on examination, that he is well acquainted with the principal facts recorded in the New Testament. His views of the offices of the persons of the Holy Trinity appeared, in the first instance, to be obscure, but after I had delivered an exposition to him on the subject, I perceived that they were more extensive and correct than I had supposed. He distinctly ascribed the origination of the plan of human redemption to the Father, its accomplishment to the work and merit of the Son, and its application to the agency of the Spirit, of Whose various operations he spoke in a manner strictly consistent with the divine testimony. Both Mr. Mitchell and myself felt the greatest interest in him and his friends, and we invited him to return to us at the conclusion of English worship in the camp.

“Narottam made his appearance at the time appointed, along with the persons already mentioned, and Jawer, a barber, who represented himself as an ‘ established believer ’ in Christ, and Mancharam, a respectable Mehta, who said that he wished himself to be considered as merely in the capacity of an inquirer. The Bhagat, at my request, gave me a particular account of his past history, his present engagements, and the circumstances of his followers. He was born in Bombay about thirty years ago, his father being a native of Bhownuggur, in Kathiawar. Six years ago he received from a soldier in the camp bazaar at Deesa, a copy of a Goojaratee tract, entitled ‘ The Great Inquiry,’ and a Marathee tract superscribed ‘ The First Book for Children.’ He read both of these little publications with the greatest attention, and the consequence of his acquaintance with them was the awakening of great anxiety about the salvation of his soul. Seeing on one of them a notice of different mission stations where information respecting their contents could be found, he determined to betake himself to that which was most accessible. He went on his way to Surat as far as Ahmedabad. He was there assailed by various idolaters, who represented the missionaries to him as too powerful in their influence over the minds of those who come into close contact with them. During his stay at Ahmedabad he met with Jayasingh, the hereditary Kamavisdar of Kadee, a most intelligent gentleman, with whom we had a very agreeable interview on our visit to his native place. Jayasingh’s followers said to him, ‘There are many Fakeers, Bairagees, Gosavees, etc., in the country, why don’t you unite yourself with one of their fraternities ? ’ but their master, when he had a private opportunity afforded him, said, ‘ I have as much need of God as you, stay with me ; when I hear of a teacher I will send for him.’ This invitation was complied with ; and he to whom it was addressed resided for five months at Kadee, when the failure of the money which he had carried from Deesa, the usual place of his residence, forced him again to proceed northward. About half a year after his return to the camp bazaar he met with Kamilakant, already mentioned, and began to associate with him, and to accompany him occasionally to church. By the perusal of some Goojaratee books, portions of the Bible, and tracts which he obtained, and by conversation with his friend from Bengal, he became convinced that Jesus Christ is the only surety and Saviour of men, and resolved, without consulting with flesh and blood, to devote himself to His sendee, iu which he has now been engaged for a considerable time. He reads and expounds the Scriptures, according to the light which he has obtained, to all who will listen to him. Seven of his acquaintances, he says, have received the truth in the love of it, and avow themselves to be disciples of the Redeemer. About a hundred persons appear to be sincere inquirers. About 20 or 25 of them reside in Deesa, 10 or 15 at Pahlunpoor, 40 at Puttun, 2 at Vijapoor and Kadee, 10 at Baroch, and 5 at Baroda. Many other individuals hold religious intercourse with him ; and there is in various places a growing attachment to the divine word. All his temporal wants are supplied by his followers, and Asharam, a merchant, shows him particular kindness.

“After he had given me this narrative, he asked me to explain to him many passages of the sacred Scriptures which he had found it difficult to understand. I was surprised at the degree of intelligence which his inquiries evinced, and at the readiness with which he received my expositions. He clearly showed that he reads the Bible with the greatest attention, and that he is no stranger to the analogy of the faith. He had no objection, he said, to be baptized ; but he added that, though not recognised as a teacher by Europeans, he would minister to his native flock as long as its members might choose to attend to him. Some of the rules of the Hindoo devotees he thought it expedient to apply to his services. He wishes to be considered a Bhagat, and not a Gooroo. ‘Gooroos, like yourself,’ he said, ‘I shall ever attend when I have the opportunity.’ Such of his friends as were present expressed the same determination. Though we saw a good deal of superstition in some of their notions, we were rejoiced to find that they were far from being ignorant of the most important truths. I read my letter to the Jain priests to the company, and conversed about some of the topics on which it touches. I then delivered a practical address suited to the circumstances of my audience, and closed our meeting with prayer. The immediate objects of our regard were evidently much affected during the latter exercise, and they grasped my hand in the most tender manner when I ceased to address the Throne of Grace on their behalf. On parting with us they readily acquiesced in a proposal to correspond with our Native Church in Bombay.

“I do not know how you and my other friends in Bombay will receive this intelligence. For my own part, I have no hesitation in saying that the privilege of communicating it is to us a sufficient recompense for the long journey which we have undertaken at this trying season. The simple spread of the knowledge of Christ in this moral wilderness, independently of the hope which this case affords that real conversion may have occxirred, demands the fervent gratitude of all His people, and forms a mighty encouragement to the dissemination of the holy Scriptures and religious tracts throughout the length and breadth of the land. The Apostle Paul and his companions met with ‘ disciples ’ in different cities before they had commenced in them their own personal ministrations, and before elders were ordained to watch over their spiritual interests as ‘ those who must give an account,’ and so have we found persons who appear to be deserving of the name in a situation where we least expected them. ”...

Dr. Wilson had now passed through that wild Bheel country on the Maheekanta and Rajpootana frontier, which Sir James Outram had in 1838 pacified and done much to civilise, but we have no trace of a meeting between men who must have appreciated each other. It is to be regretted too that we have here no detailed description of that mountain of the Jains—Aboo—which in 1840 was purely native. Five years after his visit the Rao, Sheo Singh, made over to the British Government lands for a sanitarium, which became the favourite resort of Sir Henry Lawrence, and of his successors to the present day. The reigning chief, son of Dr. Wilson’s friend who died a few weeks before the missionary himself, is now of age, and still insists on the one condition of the grant, that no kine shall be killed on the holy mount of the Jains.

Marching forward thus through the country between the Aboo and Aravullee hills and the wild Bheel land, and away by Sadra on the Saburmuttee, Dakore, famed in Hindoo pilgrimage, and the Baria and Champaner jungles, south-east to the great Nerbudda river, Dr. Wilson and his companions had to climb the low Satpoora range before reaching the Maratha-desolated plains of Khandesh. Thence, by Dhoolia and Malligaum, Bombay was reached in the middle of June, after a journey unmatched at that time by any save officials on military or most urgent duty, whether we look at the terrific heat or at the desert and dangerous lands. Soon he prepared a series of lectures on a tour which, even to the few experienced travellers, English and Native, who had gone over the same route, were full of the highest instruction. It is long since the railway reached Ahmedabad from Bombay, and the line has already penetrated from Calcutta to Jeypore for the salt of the Sambhur Lake. It cannot be long till Ahmedabad and Jeypore are connected by a line which will follow Dr. Wilson’s route away by Aboo to Palee and Ajmer, to which he afterwards conducted the first United Presbyterian missionaries.

At the close of February 1841 Dr. Wilson welcomed the earliest of those bands of missionaries who, of whatever evangelical Church, continued successively, during the next third of a century, to find in Ambrolie or “The Cliff” on Malabar Hill the most generous hospitality, the wisest counsel, the most efficient aid. The first of his tours to bear fruit in the establishment of a mission by another Church than his own, was, as we have seen, his exploration of Goojarat and Kathiawar in 1835. To evangelise that, the Synod of Ulster, daughter of the Scottish Kirk, sent out two missionaries. The Rev. J. Glasgow and J. Kerr had not been asked to volunteer for the work, but had been called upon by the Synod’s committee to do it. This course, followed only by the autocratic organisation of the Church of Rome, was declared by the very democratic Assembly of the Irish Presbyterian Church “ to be a precedent in all time to come.” It may be regretted that the precedent has been so seldom, if ever since, followed. Certainly few Protestant missions to people possessed of an ancient civilisation, literature, and faith, have been so promising, to the present day, as that conducted by a succession of men of the same stamp as the Lawrences and Montgomerys of Derry, who, in the civil and military service?, have written their names deepest on the page of Indian history. The landing of Messrs. Glasgow and Kerr raised in Government circles, as well as in native society, a new question: Would they, should they, be allowed to preach and teach in native States like Baroda and the many vassal principalities of Kathiawar?

The East India Company had been compelled, by the public opinion of Great Britain expressed through Parliament, to tolerate missionaries in their ordinary territory. But up to this time there had been no instance of a Christian mission in a native State. And we may be assured that, but for the pioneering work and influence of Dr. Wilson, the principalities of Western and Northern India would have remained closed for many a day. His interviews with chiefs and people had prepared them as well as the British Government for Christian schools and preachers, a result to which the earlier example of a chaplain and the increasing number of Christian officials had contributed. There was some doubt as to how Sir James R. Carnac, the Governor of Bombay, would act. He was an “old Indian,” who, after experience as a sepoy officer in the Madras Army, had himself been Resident at Baroda, and then Chairman of the Court of Directors. One of his first utterances as Governor had seemed hostile to toleration. But over him also Dr. Wilson’s perfect honesty, fearless character, and fine Christian tact, had had their due effect. His formal application to the Government produced this reply, signed by the friendly chief secretary, Sir J. P. Willoughby, “ The Honourable the Governor in Council will offer no objection to these gentlemen proceeding to and residing in Kathiawar, so long as they conduct themselves according to the principles set forth in your communication.” Thus peacefully was established a precedent of which Dr. Wilson wrote to the Ulster Synod: “ The freely accorded permission of the Government for the establishment of your mission in Kathiawar, though nothing more than what was expected in the circumstances of the case, is such as to demand our fervent gratitude. Though we should not have refused to enter the province even though the goodwill of our rulers had not been expressed, the official communication which we have had with the authorities enables us to do so with the best understanding, and without any apprehension as to further embarrassments.”

The season of the year for tours was past, but now, as before, Dr. Wilson set the prudent fears of his friends at defiance, and resolved to spend the hot months in helping his Irish brethren to establish their mission at Rajkote, Pore-bunder and Gogo. At all three places Dr. Wilson found that his former visit had borne fruit in the goodwill and intelligent interest of the native chiefs in the mission, and in the readiness of the leading inhabitants to send their boys to the English schools. The Rajkote Chief himself took part in a public discussion of the comparative merits of Christianity and Hindooism, propounding the question, “ Why does not God Almighty, who created the world, annihilate sin at once in the heart of man, and thus instantly save him from evil % ” This led to a statement of the principles of the moral government of God. Thus, as by some weeks’ study of the missionary work in Bombay, where the new missionaries trained. And not only they, for the Parsee convert, Dhunjeebhoy, was, for the first time, on this tour the companion of the teacher to whom he was thenceforth as a son. Hardly had the mission been established in a house in Rajkote when Mr. Kerr was carried off by jungle fever, which prostrated Dr. Wilson at the same time. Captain Le Grand Jacob, afterwards a famous name in Western India, and then acting as Political Agent, removed his friend from the fatal house, and in the Residency Dr. Wilson was tenderly nursed by Dhunjeebhoy, while deserted by some of his heathen servants who feared infection.

“Though, when death presented itself to my view, and I called to mind my own waywardness under the teaching of the Lord, and my awful responsibility as a missionary of the Cross to this darkened and unholy country, ‘my flesh,’ in the first instance, ‘trembled for fear of God’s judgments,’ there was soon imparted to me, through contemplation on the glory and stability of the covenant of grace, and the freeness with which its blessings are bestowed on the humblest and most unworthy believer, a peace and joy the remembrance of which is calculated to excite most fervent and devout gratitude. After I had become in some degree convalescent I was called to experience a most unfavourable relapse. A change of climate affording the only hope of my recovery, I was conveyed, by bearers, from Rajkote to Gogo. I remained about a week at the latter place before the daily paroxysms of fever began to be mitigated ; but as soon as I felt them subsiding I sailed for Bombay, which I reached in safety on the 21st of September.

“Here it pleased the Lord, in his unerring wisdom and unswerving faithfulness, to visit me with other great and sore afflictions. During my voyage I had fondly indulged the hope that my beloved sister and endeared companion Miss Anna Bayne would receive me with her usual affection, and attend to me in my weakness with her wonted care and tenderness. On my arrival at the mission-house, however, I learnt that she Avas Avith her sister, Mrs. Nesbit, in the most precarious, nay dangerous state of health. Her appointed days of suffering soon drew to a close; and on the morning of the 4th of October her ransomed, and justified, and purified soul was called to enter into the joy of its Lord. The triumph of her faith during the Avhole of her last illness was most remarkable, instructive, animating, and encouraging. She proved a conqueror, and more than a conqueror, through Him that loved her.

“Miss Bayne, though not officially connected with the General Assembly’s Mission, was actually much engaged in its service. To comfort and assist me in the work of the Lord, she and her sister Hay, now Mrs. Nesbit, left the land of their fathers. She was the life and charm of my household. To the Parsee converts, and Abyssinian and Native youth, whom I have received into my family, she was a tender and affectionate mother, as they themselves declare and feel, and will long remember. Her visits to the female schools proved very encouraging to the scholars ; and her instruction of the classes in her Own room was highly promising of spiritual good. She zealously sought the improvement and conversion of the students of English who visit the mission-house; and with s&me of them she regularly read and explained the Scriptures, while with others she regularly corresponded when they were removed from Bombay. In the Christian society in which she moved she was most exemplary and influential; and both noticed and respected for her gifts and graces. All who enjoyed her friendship admired her kindness, faithfulness, and judiciousness. It was her request, when she came to India, that no mention should be made of her endeavours and exertions in any public report or letter.”

The indomitable spirit of Dr. Wilson is apparent in every line of this letter. At Mahableshwar he devoted his returning health to the composition of The Parsi Relitjion and the renewed study of the aboriginal tribes of the Western Ghauts.

“I am at present sojourning on the most lovely spot which you can imagine. The scenery around is the grandest, the most beautiful, and the most sublime, which I have yet witnessed during my earthly wanderings, extensive though they have been. The Mahableshwar is part of the great Western Ghats, and 4700 feet above the level of the sea,—a loftiness considerably surpassing the highest of Caledonia’s mountains. The vegetation partakes of the magnificence of the tropics, but is enchanting to the dwellers in the climes of the sun, as in some respects resembling that of our beloved native land. The materiel of the heights is of the trap formation, which by its basaltic masses and columns, and precipitous scarps, affords the most wonderful and diversified specimens of nature’s architecture, and by its valleys and ravines, of her gigantic excavation. The province of the Konkan, with its hills and dales, and exhaustless forests and fruitful fields, stretches below. At a distance the ocean is seen as a vast mirror of brilliancy, reflecting the glory of the sky. The clouds baffle all description. Their various and changing hues, and multifarious forms and motions, as they descend to kiss the mountain brow, or remain above as our fleecy mantle, or interpose between us and the luminary of heaven to catch its rays, and to reveal their coloured splendour, fill the mind with the most intense delight. The whole display forces us to praise God, and to exclaim, ‘Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, Thou art very great, Thou art clothed with honour and majesty!

“If thus Thy glories gild the span
Of ruined earth and fallen man,
How glorious must the mansion be
Where Thy redeemed shall dwell with thee!’

“Mahableshwar, 27th November 1841.—You have, I suppose, often seen Satara. In my opinion it is the most lovely station in our Presidency. The valley of the Yena, with its abundant cultivation, and that of the Krishna, which partly appears, and the mountains to the west, and the hills to the north and south, presenting, with their basaltic masses and layers, and columns, and scarps, and towers, the most interesting specimens of nature’s architecture, have a very striking effect on the eye of a spectator. The fort is curiously formed on the summit of one of the highest elevations, and it is associated with all the interest and romance of Marathee history. The native town is spacious, busy, and regular, to a degree seldom seen in this country. The camp is very agreeably situated; and the Residency has a beautiful neighbourhood.

“We were introduced by Colonel Ovans to the Raja. His Highness was encamped, with an enormous suite, outside the town, having just arrived from a. pedestrian journey to the shrine of Khandoba at Jejuri. When I intimated to him the fruitlessness of his pilgrimage by saying Khandoba laMchyd bokdnd'm basto, ‘ Khandoba seizes folks by the throat,’ he laughed most heartily ; but I have reason to believe that he is really very superstitious. He has no appearance of the dissipation with which his enemies have charged him ; and he is noted by the Europeans at present at Satara for his benevolence and good nature. Of his own accord he has abolished Suttee and the sale of children. He has lightened the burdens of his cultivators, and established for the benefit of his subjects an extensive hospital, all the expense of which—including Rs. 500 monthly to Dr. Erskine for supervision—he himself discharges. He has increased the efficiency of the school founded by his brother the ex-Raja, and it is now, as it should be, as much English as it is Oriental. He has greatly extended the roads throughout the country, and he is building two excellent bridges, which I went to see, over the Yena and the Krishna. ‘I trust that he will be permitted to continue to occupy the throne, for of the guilt of his brother, for which he has been sent to Benares, there ought to be no doubt. You remember what Captain G. told us at Goa, about the horses on which the Capitao General and his suite were riding having been presented to them by the Satara State, when the Raja asked the co-operation of the Portuguese in turning the English out of the country. I have seen the letters’ of Don Manuel de Portugal e Castro, the former Governor of Goa, to the Raja, acknowledging his letters, and identified them by the signature, seal, and other marks. I have also seen the communications of the ex-Raja of Nagpore, and in a similar way identified them. Now, when it is kept in mind that Pratap Singh was bound over by the treaty—on a breach of which his possessions were to be forfeited—to abstain from all correspondence with the different chieftains and States of India not sanctioned by our Government, it must be seen that he has justly been deposed. It is much to be regretted that so many benevolent and excellent men in England have espoused his cause, and seem determined to make it the subject of senatorial and popular agitation, instead of more worthy themes connected with the welfare and amelioration of this great country. In the number of the Asiatic Journal of August last you will see a very full report of the debates which have already taken place on the subject before the Court of Proprietors of India stock. Sir R. Campbell quotes a note which I sent to Major Jervis about the Goa affair ; and Mr. George Thompson makes such an absurd and improper comment upon it, that, with my estimate of his Christian worth, I cannot conceive that he had heard the little document read, which he entirely perverts. If he wishes to establish for himself the character of a friendly advocate of the claims of India, he must speak from a perfect knowledge of facts, and not from vague impressions. He ' seems to insinuate blame against me for presuming to form any judgment in the case at all; but he ought to have observed that I was brought forward only as a witness, and to have remembered that if missionaries do not give notice of any treasonable movements which they may happen to observe, they are altogether unworthy of that protection which is extended to them by the British Government, which, with all its faults, is next to the offer of the Gospel itself—which it facilitates—the greatest blessing ever conferred cn India. I have been extremely sorry to observe several speakers impeaching the motives and feelings of the commissioners sent to Satara to aid the Bombay Government in its investigations. Colonel Ovans stood in the most disinterested position which can be imagined ; and Mr. Willoughby’s benevolence, so well evinced by his most able and persevering efforts to abolish infanticide in Kathiawar, not second to those of Walker himself, formed a good guarantee that the claims of mercy would be consulted by him as well as those of justice.”

On his return to Bombay at the end of January 1842, he writes:—“I had a most cordial reception, not only from my Christian friends but from great numbers of the natives. The rush of the latter to bid me welcome, and their sincere greetings on my recovery and restoration I am disposed to consider as an indication that they are ready to avail themselves of such ministrations as I may be able to render.” He at once announced a new course of lectures on the Parsee religion, to prepare the community for the appearance of his hook. Dr. Murray Mitchell hacl vigorously conducted the Bombay Mission during his absence, a fact which he gratefully reports to Dr. Brunton. On the session of 1842 Dr. Wilson entered with such vigour that he wrote:—“I have seldom been able to do more in the mission than during the last three months.” But the season proved to be one of those periodical years of cholera which was “ most extensive and fearful in its ravages.” One of the ladies at the head of the female schools was struck down by the pestilence; the other, the head of the boarding-school, soon followed her, and that when the loss of Anna Bayne was still fresh.

Dr. Hugh Miller and others so pressed on Dr. Wilson the duty of taking furlough after thirteen years of toil, that he agreed to make such arrangements “ as will permit me, if I am preserved, to pay my promised visit to the land of my fathers.” To Dr. Brunton he wrote thus on the 23d May, as if tempted to a prudent regard for his health and rest only by the prospect of a far more extended tour, through Syria and Eastern Europe, than he had yet made in India:—“ I begin already to long to have the privilege of conferring with you and the committee about our wants and wishes in this place, and pleading with the public on behalf of this great country. I wish, however, to look at the Muhammadan delusion and the Jewish unbelief of Asia near the centre of their influence as I proceed to the West: and I know that you will not consider my movements as aberrations in a missionary point of view, even though they should prove somewhat extended and circuitous.” He was not to leave until enabled by Captain, now Sir W. Hill, to announce the supply of funds for another Scottish Mission in Tagpore, now the capital of the Central Provinces, and to plan the organisation of that mission which was established by Mr. Stephen Hislop a few years after. And he was summoned, in the last busy weeks of his preparation for his departure, to the counsels of the Bombay Government in the matter of Lord Ellenborough and the proclamation regarding the gates of Somnath. He had not long before visited the spot. He knew its history better than any man in India; he understood, because he loved, the natives, Hindoo and Muhammadan ; he held familiar intercourse with the highest English officials. And, in the Satara case, he had just proved that his judgment on political questions was as cautious as it was guided by the principles of righteousness in every form.

When, early in the year 1841, Sir James E. Carnac ceased to be Governor of Bombay, the official nominated as his successor was Sir William Hay Macnaghten. Macnaghten was the Calcutta Secretary, whom Lord Auckland and Lord Broughton had found to be the most enthusiastic advocate of the evil policy of interference in Afghanistan. Blameless in life, accomplished as an oriental scholar, for some time a judge of high repute from his knowledge of the natives, and a hard-working secretary, Macnaghten was sent to Cabul as the envoy to carry into execution the mad scheme he had encouraged. During the seven ill-fated weeks when his prepossessions cheated him, though not those around him, into the belief that that policy had succeeded, he was rewarded by the Governorship of Bombay, and he was arranging to leave Cabul for Western India, when the catastrophe came. Sending for the three officers whom he always consulted, though he too often refused to be guided by them, he brusquely directed them to accompany him to a conference with the hostile Akbar Khan, the favourite son of the supplanted ruler Dost Muhammad. Colin Mackenzie, bravest of all the heroes of that time, but the only one of them who, though a Lieutenant-General and C.B., still remains unhonoured by the country he has served so long and so well, remonstrated that it was a plot. “Trust me for that,” said the envoy, who had hardly begun to talk when Akbar Khan himself shot him with one of the pistols for which the assassin had just thanked him; Trevor was also cut down; and Mackenzie and the third officer, now Sir George Lawrence, escaped alive with difficulty, past a line of excited fanatics.

A new Governor had to be selected, and he proved to be the amiable and useful Sir George Arthur, Bart., who was thus rewarded for services in the Colonies. As his private secretary the new ruler appointed a young civilian, who, eight years before, in 1834, had been admitted to Dr. Wilson’s friendship on his presenting a letter of introduction to the missionary at Ambrolie. Henry Bartle Edward Frere had begun to redeem, by his ability and industry in the Eevenue Department, the promise which he gave at Haileybury. Over him, as over so many young officers in both services, Dr. Wilson exercised a powerful influence, and hence few public men in high position have so fairly represented the nature and the importance of missionary work in India and Africa as he. In his case the intimacy became friendship honourable to both. When Sir Bartle Frere himself rose to be Governor, and with all the state of an Indian proconsul would sometimes call on the simple scholar to introduce some native prince and show the mission college, he used to recall the day when, as a shy youth, he first ascended the Ambrolie stair to present his letter to one who was even then beginning to be regarded with reverence.

The unhappy Lord Auckland had given place to Lord Ellenborough, as the Governor-General sent out to avenge and retrieve the disasters of 1838-40. Lord Ellenborough, in the delirium of a heated and an unequally unprincipled policy, had with the one hand directed Generals Pollock and Nott to “retire” without rescuing the noble men and women who were in captivity, and with the other to bring back the gates of the Hindoo temple of Somnath, which adorned Muhammad’s tomb at Ghuznee, that he might declare, “ the insult of eight hundred years is at last avenged.” On the 5th October the Commander-in-Chief, Sir Jasper Nicholls, saw the first draft of the precious document known as “ The Proclamation of the Gates,” and freely criticised it. Sir John Kaye, in his best book, The History of the War in Afghanistan, states that it was published in its English form on the 16th November. But it seems to have been first referred to the subordinate Governments for opinion, for it had not appeared in Bombay on the 2d December, as this note shows:—

“My dear Dr. Wilson.—When yon were in Kattywar did you visit the temple of Somnath Puttun, the gates of which are about to be restored by Lord Ellenborough, and in this case can you afford me any information on the subject of its present condition, and how it is managed? The notification that is about to be published regarding the gates of this pagau temple will astonish the whole Christian world.—Yours very sincerely, J. Willoughby.

“2d December 1842.”

On the next day Dr. Wilson was officially asked for information to enable the Bombay Government to criticise it. The temple from which the so-called gates had been taken, and to which they were to he restored, was in their jurisdiction. In spite of the two months that had passed, and of all the remonstrances and criticisms of those around him, it is evident that Lord Ellenborough knew nothing accurately about the temple, the gates, and their history. His ignorance was as profound as his conduct was pernicious. Sir Bartle Frere thus confidentially wrote to Dr. Wilson. Like Carey when called on to translate the order suppressing Suttee, Dr. "Wilson spent the greater part of a Sunday in meeting this urgent call in the service of religion and humanity.

“Parell, 3d December 1842.—Dear Sir—You are of course aware, that among the trophies which have been brought away from Afghanistan by the British army are the ‘Somnath Gates’ of Sultan Mahmoud’s tomb at Guzni; and you have probably heard that it is the intention of the Governor-General that, as a memorial of the triumph of our arms, they shall be restored to the spot whence they were taken by the Guznivide Sultau 800 years ago. As the Governor understands that, in the course of your late tour through Kattywar, you visited the site of Sonmath Puttun, and made particular inquiries regarding the history and antiquities of the place, he will feel much obliged if you will let him know, for the information of the Governor-General, in what state you found the ruins of the ancient city. How many temples, and of what kind, are still in existence—which of them is the temple whence the gates are said to have been taken, and on what kind of evidence the conclusion of its identity rests—who has charge of or control over it—what is its condition— who are the ‘Poojarees,’ or persons who perform the usual ceremonies of worship, etc.—and of which castes and sects the worshippers are generally composed? If your inquiries established any other facts connected with the history or present state of ‘ Somnath Puttun,’ which yon think likely to be of interest to the Governor, he desires me to say he will feel much obliged by your communicating them.—Believe me, dear Sir, ever faithfully yours,

“H. B. E. Frere.”

So early as October, two months before this, Lord Ellenborough had sent his proclamation privately to the Queen, in a letter filled with historical mistakes and baseless native gossip, which thus closed : “ The progress of the gates from Ferozepore to Somnath will be one great national triumph, and their restoration will endear the Government to the whole people.” Two months after, on the 19th February 1843, he announced to her Majesty, in similarly bombastic phrases, the arrival of the gates at Delhi under the escort of five hundred Sikh troopers. “All,” he wrote, “consider the restoration of the gates to be a national not a religious triumph.” His Excellency had been taught by remonstrances far less courteous than Dr. Wilson’s, to abandon the religious argument which he had from the first paraded; while at home the storm was rising, and all the efforts of his personal friend, the Duke of Wellington, could not quell it. To the Governor-General himself the Duke could not write more strongly than this: “I say nothing of the Gates of Somnath, which is, I think, made a cheval de bataille”

The gates never got farther than the Agra arsenal, where they stand to point the sneer against Lord Ellenborough. Mr. Vernon Smith, three months after, faintly expressed public opinion in Europe, when he moved in the House of Commons a resolution condemning the conduct of the Governor-General in this matter as “unwise, indecorous, and reprehensible.” The party of the accused, then in power, procured the rejection of the motion; but in spite of all the great Duke’s influence, that proclamation soon after led to its author’s recall. We cannot altogether regret an act which was the occasion of Macaulay’s most famous Philippic; his greatest, at once as a piece of eloquence and a vindication of the principles of religious liberty applied to India.


Return to Book Index Page


 


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus

Quantcast