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1855. STUMBLING-BLOCK TO CHRISTIANITY IN CHINA. 137 it was immediately apparent that curiosity to see one of the ong-maonying-red-haired men—was the principal, if not the only motive in sending for us, as we found a table and two or three forms placed for us in the court-yard in front of the house, where we were received, evidently with the view of giving all in the house a good opportunity of seeing us, both from the door and windows, which we soon discovered were crowded with earnest gazers. I determined, however, not to mind the slight of not inviting me into the house, but to do the best I could, under the circumstances, in promoting the object I had in view. Accordingly. after sitting for a few moments, and exchanging a few ordinary remarks with the individual who received me, I mounted one of the forms, and first addressed myself to the larger crowd who had already congregated in the court-yard before me, commencing with some humoursome remarks about my own person, with the view of leading them to see that, after all, I was not some wonderful creature who had suddenly dropped from the skies, but a man in all respects like themselves. Then, turning to the ladies and gentlemen, young and old, who were gazing upon me from the interior of the house, I ventured to appeal to them whether such was not the case; which being assented to by a couple of old ladies more prominent than the others, I then went on to tell them of the object of my coming amongst them, and the great blessings I was commissioned to bring to them. Having spoken there for more than an hour, and taken a cup of tea, we returned to our boat, when the following strange scene took place.
As I was standing on the front of the boat, after our return from Mr. Tong's, talking with some twenty or thirty persons who were on the bank of the canal close by, I suddenly observed a man, respectably dressed as a teacher, hurrying towards us, apparently having something important to communicate. On reaching the bank close by our boat, he was flowing with perspiration, and quite out of breath. Before speaking a word, however, to us, he first, to our astonishment, doffed his hat and placed it on the bank, and then brought forward a large volume from the interior of his dress, which he also laid on the ground beside him; after which he dropped down on his knees by the water edge, and commenced drinking with an avidity which indicated his appreciation of the value of a good drink of water, not usual amongst his countrymen. Having fully satisfied his thirst, and also applicd copious supplies of water to his face for the purpose of cooling himself, he then quietly put on his hat again, and having adjusted his raiment, and taken up his book, he addressed us for the first time as follows
"You pretend to come here to instruct us in the principles of religion, Know you that the first element essential in the propagation of religion is, that you first exhibit an example of its power in the reformation of your own lives. If the words that you speak, and the actions which you perform, are inconsistent with each other, then rest assured that you are wasting your time and strength in vain. As long as you foreigners deluge our country with the opium drug, which is so destructive to the lives of the people, and so ruinous to the best interests of the nation, don't imagine that you can beguile us into the belief that you are sincere in your professions to benefit us either temporally or eternally, or that the religion you come to propagate amongst us can possibly be good, while
138 TRANSLATION OF THE FOUR GOSPELS INTO KURDISH. DEC. it produces such fruits as you manifest. Allow me to give you some wholesome advice from the sages of antiquity, which it would be well for you to apply to yourself, and also convey to your own people.” Here he commenced reading from his book, at the very highest pitch of his voice, what appeared to be selections from the Chinese classics, occasionally stopping to enlarge on those points which appeared to him condemnatory of our double-dealing, in offering them opium with one hand and the gospel with the other, frequently appealing to the crowd, who by this time had assembled in large numbers, for the approval of his statements. When he had gone on in this way for a considerable time, and not knowing when he was likely to terminate, the catechist and I thought it time to interpose, and to request permission to say something in self-defence; but to this he demurred, vociferating so loud that all might be sure to hear him, “ that traders in opium could not possibly have any thing to say in vindication of what was so abominable, and that he was determined we should not have the opportunity of attempting to say a single word in self-defence ;” upon which he went ahead with his reading in a still louder, and, if possible, more rapid strain than before. “Well," said I, after a little, “ won't you allow me at least a few minutes to reply to you?” “Not even a single sentence,” he exclaimed, again reading away with as much spirit as ever. “Well, even a sentence or two," said I. “Well then," said he, "just one sentence, but not a single word more.” Here the catechist wanted to come forward, but I thought it better that the matter should be left between us both, so I commenced,“ Suppose we were, as you say, traders in opium, which we are not, but, on the contrary, abominate the opium trade as much as, possibly even more, than yourself; but even supposing we were, remember in every trade there must be two parties, the buyer as well as the seller : now take away the buyer, and ”“ Yes,” said he, interrupt. ing me, “ I know all about it: you mean to say that we are just as bad as yourselves,” and off he started again with his Confucian maxims, which, read in the literary style, were to a great extent only intelligible to himself. Feeling it was hopeless to do much with him, we thought it better to let him go on, which he did for another half hour, greatly to the amusement if not the edification of his hearers. At length he suddenly came to an abrupt conclusion, put down his book on the bank, doffed his þat as before, and then dropped on his knees for another draught of the cooling beverage. When he had satisfied his thirst, and again properly adjusted himself, he slyly threw out the hint that as he had done so much, and walked so far, he felt rather hungry. “Come then," said the catechist, “to our boat; the rice is just ready, and we shall be very happy to have you to take share of it with us.” So he coolly accepted the invitation, and after a long conversation with the catechist, which I hope did him good, and a hearty dinner, the worthy gentleman took his departure, entertaining, as I trust, clearer views of our objects and kindlier feelings towards us.
TRANSLATION OF THE FOUR GOSPELS INTO KURDISH. An interesting communication has lately been received from Kurdistan. An Armenian Protestant, who was educated by the American Missionaries, and is labouring under their direction on the borders of that dis
1855.] INFANTICIDE IN INDIA.
139 trict, has been for some time past employing a portion of his time in translating the four gospels into the Kurdish language. This language, which is spoken by all the Kurds, and by many Armenians who reside among them, is said to be totally distinct from any other language of Western Asia. It has no literature of its own, and, in fact, has never been a written language. The proper Kurds are all Mahommedans by profession, though, from all accounts, many of them are quite favourably disposed towards Christianity. As they have no written character of their own, and as there are many Armenians in their vicinity who speak only the Kurdish, it was thought best to use the Armenian character in this translation of the gospels. The work is now completed, and the MS. has been sent to Constantinople to be printed, at the expense of the British and Foreign Bible Society. It is an interesting enterprise, and we hope that in this way the news of Christ's salvation may be carried to a people who have hitherto been entirely neglected, but among whom there have appeared of late many signs for good. One of the American Missionaries in that part of the country was lately visited by five or six Kurdish chiefs, some of whom spent several days with him, and they all most cordially invited him to visit them in their encampment (for they are nomades), promising to furnish him abundantly with milk, and butter, and yoghoort (soured milk), as long as he would stay among them, if he, on his part, would preach to them the gospel! He was making his arrangements to go and spend ten days in their tents. How wonderful! Surely the present is a time when the people of God in Britain and America should send up strong cries to the court of heaven in behalf of this land.
[Correspondent of “ The Rock.”
INFANTICIDE IN INDIA.
(From the Boston (U.S.) “ Journal of Missions.") The Rev. A. H. Seeley, a Missionary of the Presbyterian Board, returned from India, has published an article in the “ Foreign Missionary," upon female infanticide in India, which presents facts of painful interest. Not in India alone are the heathen found to be, too often, practically "without natural affection;" but the custom of destroying daughters has probably been carried to as great an extent in some districts of Hindostan as in any portion of the heathen world.
“The birth of a son,” says Mr. Seeley,“ is regarded by both Hindus and Mohammedans as an occasion for the greatest rejoicing. The event is celebrated by the firing of cannon, and expensive festivities, among the rich; while the report of a single matchlock of the poorest peasant proclaims the honour that has been conferred upon his family. At the birth of a daughter there is always much less rejoicing, and often none at all. No friends assemble to rejoice with the parents, or to offer their congratulations. By some the event is regarded with seeming indifference; by others, as a calamity and a disgrace. An English gentleman, writing upon this subject, says—'Among the tribe of Rajputs, and especially among the rajahs of that class, the birth of a daughter in their house was considered disgraceful.'” In multitudes of cases this feeling of aversion to daughters leads to murder. “In the districts of Kach and Kattiawar-in north-western India—it has been found, after the fullest and most elaborate inquiry, that the greater part of the inhabitants put their infant daughters to death without the least 140 INFANTICIDE IN INDIA.
(DEC. remorse. In these provinces, containing 120,000 people, from the investigations of Colonel Walker we learn that at least 4000 infant children are annually destroyed by their parents.” The same bloody custom is traced to the Jats and Mewats, and in the provinces of Gujarat, Jaipur, and Jamedpur.
A report by an excellent officer of the British government, the late Mr. Wilkinson, exhibits some definite statistics as to the extent to which this custom is carried. He states that an excellent Rajput chief, in conversing with him, gave it as his opinion that not fewer than twenty thousand infants were annually destroyed in Malwa and Rajputana. In several small districts where a census was carefully taken, startling facts were elicited. Mr. Wilkinson says—“The aggregate result given by these censuses is 632 sons to 225 daughters. This is at the average rate of 36 daughters to 100 sons; in other words, out of every 100 of the females born, on the supposition of the equality of the sexes, 64 hare been cruelly destroyed by their parents, or, in round numbers, about two-thirds destroyed, and only one-third preserved.”
Among the Sikhs also the practice prevails, it would seem, to an equally fearful extent. “Of eleven villages in the districts of Jaipur and U dapur, he found, after the closest inquiry, that the aggregate numbers of boys under twelve years of age were 369, and of girls only 87. This shows that 282 girls, or more than three-fourths of all born, were destroyed in these villages in the brief period of twelve years. In one of these villages there were only 4 girls to 44 boys; in another, 4 girls to 58 boys; and in a third, with a large proportion of boys, no girls at all, the inhabitants freely confessing that they had destroyed every girl born in their village."
Inquiring for the causes which have introduced, and carried to such an extent, a custom so unnatural, and so revolting to every feeling of humanity, Mr. Seeley says extensive inquiries have led to the general conviction that it“ does not arise from sheer cruelty, or from a destitution of parental affection.” “ The great mass of Hindu mothers possess as strong a love for their children as the mothers of any other people.” Instances are known, and doubtless thousands of instances have occurred, in which the earnest entreaties of the mother have induced the father to spare the female infant. In thousands of other cases these pleadings of the mother have been in vain; and when the mother assents, and perhaps herself acts the part of the executioner, we are not to suppose that it is always with no pang of maternal grief. The real causes of the custom are supposed to be—“ 1st, The difficulty of ob, taining suitable matches for their daughters were they allowed to grow up, coupled with the supposed disgrace of their remaining unmarried. 2dly, The difficulty of defraying the marriage expenses which have been sanctioned by immemorial custom.”
Pride, in one or another of its modifications, has thus much to do with all this child-inurder. “The tribes that practise it believe that they are the descendants of the sun and moon; that they can trace their ancestry to the commencement of that fabulous era of the golden age, upwards of three millions of years ago;" and therefore, “under the predominant influence of excessive pride, the lordly aristocratic Rajput, rather than brook the fancied disgrace of unequal alliances, and thereby break the line by contaminating the blood of so noble a descent, will quench the
141 very instincts of his nature, and doom to death his unoffending offspring."
It is now more than fifty years since the attention of the British government was called to this subject; and “ during this time, ardent, zealous, and Christian men, sustained by the Christian government of India, have laboured to root up and destroy this cruel and degrading custom. In the year 1795 a regulation was passed by the supreme government, to the effect, that, within the British territories, infanticide must be judicially dealt with as wilful murder.” But so great are the difficulties attending the detection and conviction of the guilty, that such efforts, and such laws, have accomplished far too little : the statute is believed to be, in great measure, a dead letter. “The civil officers of these districts have used all their authority and influence to induce the chiefs to enter into the most solemn engagements to discountenance and destroy this barbarous custom, and in many instances they have succeeded. But it has been found far easier to induce them to enter into such engagements than to make them fulfil them. They have seldom been found sincere in their professions. Some of them have put their infant daughters to death only a few months after the most solemn pledge to abandon the practice, and to exert all their efforts to put it down among their people.” “ This revolting and inhuman crime," says Mr. Seeley, “cannot be stopped by laws and enactments, by promises or pledges. Nothing but the elevation of the people by moral and religious training will cause them to look upon their present practices with disgust, and forsake them for ever. The remedy is found in the gospel, and in the gospel alone. Oh! when will it be applied ? Let the Christian church in America answer this question.”
Nay, still more, we would add, the Christian Church in EnglandEngland, to whose guardianship and care India has been specially assigned.
THE FEEJEE ISLANDS.
(Concluded from p. 131 of our last Number.) But perhaps there was no spectacle that more struck the mind of this enterprising visitor than when he looked up to the foretop-gallant-yard of his own ship, and recalled the history of the man who was looking eagerly down among the reefs, and seeking out for the ship a safe entrance as she drew near to some familiar but perilous shore. The name of this man was Elijah Varani. Not long before, he had been the chief of Vewa, unmatched alike for his terrible exploits and for his ferocious cannibalism, the human butcher of Seru, the superior chief of Bau. Such had been his strength and courage, that he had been known to encounter the shark in his native element, and on many an island his Dame had borne as great terror with it as that of Africaner had done in the deserts of Namaqualand. But the gospel, after many a season of conviction and resistance, had subdued his savage heart; the deadly warclub had been broken; and when some of the higher chiefs sought to tempt him back to war by the offer of very large gifts, his reply was, “This is not now possible: I am the servant of the King of Peace. Besides, I love every one, and cannot destroy any more lives.” As Varani sailed over the scenes of his former murders, many a Feejeean wondered at the mysterious power of the lotu, and predicted its final