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celebrating the marriages of the higher ranks of Cingalese ; which combines all that can be conceived, and by good taste detested, of pomp, tumult, and noise. There follows a description of a sort of dramatic entertainments, consisting chiefly of dancing and antics, in which some ingenuity and a great deal of dexterity were exhibited.
The Malabars, as their name indicates, are descended from emigrants of some former age from the Peninsula, and retain their Hindoo and Mahometan manners and religion. They differ much from their neighbours the Cingalese, being stouter, more active and enterprising, but less innocent and more fraudulent. The account of the Malays is too short. Specimens and some of the alphabetical characters are given of the Cingalese and Malabar languages. The Cingalese is composed of the Sanscrit and Pali, the latter of which professes to have been the language of Buddha. We are ashamed that so late as 1804, not more than one Englishman in Ceylon has become master of the Cingalese ; though it might perhaps be unreasonable to blame Mr. Cordiner for having been content to share the general ignorance, as he might never probably expect a long residence in Ceylon; and while he staid it was undoubtedly very much more pleasant to micgle in convivial parties, and “ discourse the most excellent music" of his dear native tongue with the elegant gentry of Columbo, than to be poring over the heathenish lingo of barbarians.
The greater proportion of the Cingalese and Candians profess the religion of Buddha, which is said to differ materially from that of Brahma, though our eastern scholars have failed as yet to determine the degree or all the points of difference; and probably, if it could be done, the labour would be but indifferently bestowed, excepting so far as any incidental light for exploring ancient history might arise from the investigation. Tlie merits of the two systems, if they may be so called, are probably much on a par, the superstition of Buddha not giving place to that of Brahma, or any other, in point of raving folly and puerile monstrosity of fiction. It talks of its twentysix heavens ; of a stone, a kind of perching place of a god, which is the amount of a hundred and forty thousand EngJish miles in circumference, and upwards of nine hundred and fifty thousand miles in height; of a bird named Gourolass which lives somewhere on the outside of heaven, and is two thousand one hundred miles in stature; of elephants found in some region of which we forget the name, which are a thousand million times stronger than those of Asia ; of iron, silver, ani golden cities, wbich had wings and were ambulatory; and of a period of years in the life and adventures of Buddha, which is expressed by an unit followed by sixty three cyo', phers. It is yet to be determined who and what this Buddha was; he is sometimes represented as an incarnation of Vishnu, but proves not to be identical with any of the nine Avatars of the Hindoos. Indeed there have been, it seems, more than twenty Buddhas in former periods of the universe, to whom are to be added five more for its present economy, four of which gentry have appeared already, and the fifth will be here a few thousand years hence; till his appearance there is a vacancy or interregoum of Buddhas, as Gautama Buddha, the last of the four, was off a good while ago, leaving a Sahampattu Maha Brachma, or supreme of all the gods, to keep the world under his management till the appearance of Maitri Buddha. Gautama Buddha is the one whose' religiou' now prevails in Ceylon, Siam, and other parts of Asia. Before his appearance as a man, he was a god, and the supreme of all the gods, at the solicitations of many of whom he descended on earth to appear in a human form, and was born about 2440 years since. He lived happily with his queen Yassodera and forty thousand concubines for thirty one years. The six next he passed in the midst of wildernesses, qualifying himself to be a Buddha. At the close of this period his calling became manifest to the world, and he exercised his funca tions as Buddha forty five years. After his death be ascended to the Hall of Glory which is a place above, and exceeding in magnificence the 26th heaven: there he will live forever in happiness and incorruptibility, never to be born again in this world.'
Some of the leading doctrines professed by his followers are said to be the following ; that there has never been a creation, all things that now exist having existed from eternity; that the universe has often fallen into a kind of chaos; but has in some inexplicable manner. recovered itself into order again; that there are an immense number of gods, all of them occupying their proper offices in the universe; and that human souls, after certain transmigrations, will at some very remote period cease to exist. Some curious, though very imperfect and confused information on the subject, will be found in two essays in the seventh volume of the Asiatic Researches, from which we have extracted the above particulars.
But whatever are the precise tenets of this superstition, as delineated in any of the sacred books, or held by the few of what may be called, by courtesy, the learned men, Mr. C. informs us that “the generality of the Ceylonese professing it, are in the highest degree ignorant, and possess no knowledge of the principles of any religion, beyond what is to be found in the most savage state.”
And unfortunately this appears to
be too true also, of the very large proportion of Cingalese who profess a preference of Christianity: This proportion our author reckons at one half, part of whom belong to the reformed church, and part to the church of Rome. Both are alike ill instructed, and adhere to the forms of their particular faith more through the strength of habit than from any serious conviction. These two modes of profession originated from the exertions of the Portuguese and Dutch masters of the island. Of the former our author says,
That nation, having subdued the maritime parts of Ceylon, early in the sixteenth century (1505), completely obliterated every monument of Indian worship along its coasts. Out of the ruins of Hindoo pagodas, and temples dedicated to Buddha, they reared Romish churches, set up the banners of the cross, and compelled the natives of the country to adopt the forms of that religion, without consulting their inclinations. The inhabitants, however, being both ignorant and superstitious, soon became reconciled to a splendid shew of worship, which gratified their senses no less than the display of their former idols.
• When Cingalese families were baptized, persons of the highest rank became the sponsors, and gave their names to the converts, Hence arose the numerous Portuguese names and titles, which are still prevalent amongst the natives.
• A great body of the inhabitants now continue, voluntarily, firm in their adherence to the church of Rome. Fifteen swarthy priests, who have been educated at Goa, are established in the island. They are indefatigable in their labours, and are daily making proselytes. Their chapels, built and endowed by the contributions of the natives, are neat and well furnished. On the occasion of festivals, they sport bands of mu. sic, and superb illuminations.
. In the beginning of the seventeenth century (1602) when the government of the United States wrested the coasts of Ceylon from the Portuguese, the doctrines of the reformed church of Holland became the established reli. , gion of the conquered territories. Although the Dutch did not, like the enthusiasts of Portugal, employ open force to propagate their religious faith, they adopted measures, which, in their general success, were no less effectual. A proclamation was issued that no native could be raised to the rank of a modelear, or admitted into any employment under the states, without subscribing to the Helvetic confession, and professing to be a member of the reformed church. Accordingly the higher orders, both of the Cingalese and Malabars, and all who aspired to any dignity or office, immediately assumed the name of protestant Christians, a name which many of them still retain, without pretending to any intimate acquaintance with the doctrines of the gospel.' Vol. I. pp. 154, 155.
Notwithstanding however this extensive prevalence of tranquil ignorance, so conformable, as it should seem, to the wishes of a protestant government, some very remarkable circumstances are stated by our author ; and the persons who have taken an interest in a recent discussion will perhaps deem the following passages to convey the most striking information in the whole book.
• The Cingalese scholars are sons of the modelears, and first class of people in the country. They are possessed of industry and docility, and discover a strong ambition to acquire learning. Every branch of instruction is received by them with delight; and they read the books put into their hands with a degree of transport, which ought to render the care of their education an object of public attention. Many of them converse Auently in English, and write, in a good style, very accurate translations from the Cingalese. The Bible being the chief model of their compositions, furnishes them with abundance of excellent expressions. These young men are well acquainted with the principles of Christianity, and sincerely attached to its divine author ; and there is every reason to hope that when dispersed abroad amongst their countrymen, their influence and example will produce the most happy consequences. Vol. I. p. 161.
At Columbo the highest ranks of natives profess Christianity; and such of them as have received the benefit of a good education are more conscientious and respectable than their heathen neighbours.
• Perjury is a crime of which many of the lower orders have been accused. It is even said that, for a trifling sum of money, false witnesses may be procured to appear on any trial, to swear to the truth of facts of which they are entirely ignorant. But delinquencies of this nature never occur amongst the higher orders, nor amongst any persons who have been well instructed in the principles of Christianity.' p. 163.
• The state of religion in Ceylon is very different from that of any country on the continent of India. Here the ancient form of worship is almost totally forgotten ; and the inhabitants live in uninstructed ignorance, perfectly free both from prejudice and bigotry. They have so long wandered in darkness, that they gladly follow the least glimmerings of light. The first openings of religious knowledge are received by them with transport ; and they look up, with adoration, to any person who bestows pains in endeavouring to teach them. The arguments, therefore, which have been advanced against attempting to introduce Christianity amongst the more polished nations of the East, are entirely void when applied to the uncultivated people of this island.
• There is no doubt that if ever the government of England pay attention to this subject, the religion of Christ will become as clearly understood and as well practised in Ceylon as in any part of the king's dominions.'-pp. 164, 165.
• Early in the year 1805, three missionaries arrived at Columbo, having been sent from England under the protection of the British government. They are now studying the languages of the country ; and, if they possess virtuous dispositions and persevering industry, they must be greatly delighted with the appearance of so rich a harvest, and cannot fail to be come an invaluable blessing to the natives of this island. pp. 164, 165.
It is irksoine to us to have to remind any writer, especially a man of our author's profession, how very cautious he should be of letting slip any observations that may tend to diminish our reverence for the wisdom and integrity of our superiors. He ought not to have forgotten, that the government of a country is the best judge how much Christian knowledge may be safely and usefully imparted to the people, and hav much ignorance and heathenism is indispersable to the public welfare. How-idle it is to plead the eagerness of these pagans to obtain Christian instruction, and the gladness with which they receive it!-as if it were not the very object and use of government to repress the unreasonable inclinations of the subject. It may indeed be a nice problem to determine what is the least quantity of paganism that is essential to the safety and happiness of an eastern country ; but it is not for such men as Mr. Cordiner and we to intermeddle with the solution, or to question the wisdom of the determination that exactly all the paganism now existing forms this minimum of public necessity.--Nor ought we to let pass without animadrersion the charge of ill-judged economy, or parsimony, which he seems to insinuate in the next paragraph.
• Early in the year 1803, instructions, in his majesty's' name, were received at Columbo, directing that the expence of all the schools in the island should be limited to the amount of fifteen hundred pounds sterling per annum. This sum was not more than sufficient to support the different asylums for European orphans, and the academies for instructing the natives in the English language: 'The salaries, therefore, of all the country schoolmasters and catechists were once more suppressed: and the sum thus saved to government hardly amounts to one thousand eight hundred pounds sterling per annum.' Vol. 1. p. 165.
How happened it not to occur to this writer, that the state is sometimes under the necessity of giving large pensions to rich nobleiren or the relations of noblemen for doing nothing, and to other persons for doing what is amply paid for in their salaries; and that the eighteen hundred pounds per annum, saved from so needless an object as the instruction of a few scores of thousands of Cingalese, might be enough almost for half of one such pension? Besides, it was not only so much expense avoided; but the necessary quantum of ignorance and paganism preserved.
Occasionally we have to complain of a traveller, that bis whole book is a tissue of anecdotes ; but in the volumes before us we have repeatedly wished a larger share of this kind of material, to vary the uniformity of extended description, and give greater prominence to the features of national character. Å multiplicity of characteristic incidents, dialogues, and remarkable sayings, must have come within the author's knowledge, some of which might have giren a more lively idea of particular points in the manners and sentiments of the people than any description can convey:
The territorial value of the island to the British govern, ment is much less than nothing, as the cost of the civil and