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England to receive the order of priesthood, but that, in consequence of his detention and subsequent avocations at Madras, he had been induced to abandon that intention. The distance of the scene, and the difficulty of obtaining priestly ordination by the imposition of hands in conformity to the rites of the Established Church, had induced some of his predecessors to perform the duties of the priesthood under an authority which could not perhaps be sustained as strictly regular: and Mr. Kerr, influenced by similar motives, and by a conscientious desire to fulfil the purposes of his ministry, had followed an example which appeared to be of sufficient authority, as being recorded on the archives of the church in which he officiated. The consequence of this measure, however, produced, in the year 1802, a severe persecution, over the particulars of which I am desirous of drawing a veil; and the circumstance is only noticed here for the purpose of mentioning, that, in order to counteract the designs formed against him, he determined to proceed to England, to receive priest's orders by the imposition of hands; and in this manner to obviate the objections which, under the powers he then possessed, were alleged to attach to his performance of certain offices of the church. He accordingly embarked for England on the 8th September, 1802. The low state of his finances permitted not his family to accompany him. Antecedently to his departure, he received from the Government, from the Directors of the Asylum, and from some of the most respectable inhabitants of Madras, testimonials expressive of the high sense entertained of his public services, and of his exemplary private demeanour. Nor were these attestations unnecessary. On his arrival in England, he found that his character had been represented in a manner as remote from the truth as it was injurious to his reputation.
Fortunately, he was not destitute of the means of entirely effacing these unfavourable impressions, and of conciliating the good opinion of the Court of Directors, and of his ecclesiastical superiors. By letters demissary from the Bishop of London, he was ordained priest by his friend and patron the Bishop of Sodor and Man, on the 27th February, 1803; and being entitled, from his standing in his college, to the degree of D. D., that honour was conserred upon him, about the same time, by the University of Dublin. On the 1st December, 1803, Dr. Kerr arrived at Madras, where he was cordially welcomed by his friends; who, in his amended appearance, saw with satisfaction the beneficial influence which this visit to his native country had produced on his health. Previously to his embarkation to return to India, he was specially commissioned, by his Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, to celebrate the solemn service for the consecration of the chapel in the Black Town. This ceremony was performed, agreeably to the instructions he had received, on the 5th February, 1804, in the presence of a numerous and respectable congregation. The Rev. Mr. Leslie, who had returned to India and resumed his situation of senior chaplain, died on the 28th June, 1804, to the great regret of all to whom he was known. Dr. Kerr did justice to the memory of this amiable, meek, and exemplary divine, in an impressive discourse which he delivered on the occasion *. On the death of Mr. Leslie, Dr. Kerr again became the senior chaplain of Madras. His active imind, constantly directed to objects of public benefit, suggested about this period, as a modification of a plan • At the suggestion of Dr. Kerr, a small but beautiful marble monument has been erected in the church of Madras, at the expense of the vestry, to the memory of his departed colleague. X 2
for the relief of widows and children in distress, formerly adopted at his recommendation, that a poor and work-house should be established; with a view as well to free Madras from vagrants, with whom it abounded, as to afford more effectual help to such as really needed and merited assistance, without holding forth to those of an opposite description any incentives to idleness, profligacy, or crime. The plan met with general approbation; but the attention of the settlement, soon after the time it was proposed, being occupied in the consideration of other subjects, it was not then carried into execution. At a subsequent period, he had the gratification to see the plan revived; and the settlement now experiences the benefit of an establishment, the leading principles of which are analogous to those proposed by Dr. Kerr. On the occasion of the death of the Marquis Cornwallis, governorgeneral of Bengal, an event not less deeply deplored by the natives of India than by the British nation, Dr. Kerr was requested to preach a funeral sermon. This discourse, in which the distinguished character of that illustrious nobleman in public and in private life, as a statesman and as a general, is faithfully pourtrayed, was printed by order of the Government. In May, 1805, Dr. Kerr began to publish, in weekly numbers, a collection of Religious Tracts and Sermons. In undertaking this publication, the principal objects he bad in view were, to diffuse religious instruction among Europeans resident in India, and others professing Christianity ; to dispel erroneous opinions respecting the Christian dispensation and the doctrines of the Gospel; and to inculcate and enforce those principles on which alone the virtue and happiness of mankind can be uniformly and steadily maintained. In this manner too, he hoped more persectly to accomplish an object, the anticipation of which had sustained and
animated him in his anxious labours to introduce the art of printing at the Asylum, which was that of rendering the press instrumental in the diffusion of moral and religious truth. The profits arising from the publication were appropriable to charitable purposes: and the Government encouraged the undertaking by permitting the weekly numbers to be transmitted to the subordinate stations exempt from postasre. Selected with judgment, the religious tracts and sermons were well calculated to promote the benevolent purposes of Dr. Kerr. The collection contains some of the best treatises in the English language, on the evidences, doctrines, and duties of Christianity; and comprehends extracts from the writings of our ablest and most admired divines, together with sermons, many of which are selected from those of Bishop Porteus. Several of the sermons, also, are original compositions. It is true, some excellent popular tracts will not be found in this collection; but as most of them were already either well known through the exertions of the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge, or every where procurable, they were designedly omitted by Dr. Kerr. Undoubtedly, had his life been prolonged, he would have rendered the collection much more complete; but the hand of death was already upon him, when the last number of the fifth volume issued from the press. Possessing the esteem and confidence of successive governors of Madras, his sentiments on subjects connected with the clerical profession were always received with attention. About this time (1805), his zeal in the cause of religion was judiciously exerted, in suggesting, for the consideration of Government and the Court of Directors, the necessity of augmenting the number of chaplains on the establishment, and of strict regard to purity of mind and conduct in those who might be sent to India, in order to secure those beneficial consequences to the community, which must ever result from the exertions and example of a discreet, conscientious, and pious pastor. He recommended that churches should be erected, at the expense of the Government, at the principal military stations; he proposed regulations for the guidance and conduct of the chaplains; and suggested several other changes, all tending to uphold the respectability of the profession, and secure the regular and correct discharge of religious ordinances. These various suggestions have since generally been approved and adopted, under the orders of the Court of Directors. His health had been so much benefited by the congenial climate of Europe in 1802, as to afford a ground of hope that his constitution would be able to sustain the influence of a tropical sun, until the completion of the period of service requisite to entitle him to retire with a competent pension to his native country. But on his return to India, it was not long ere the unfavourable effects of the climate on his health were again apparent. Having repeatedly experienced the utmost benefit from change of air and abstraction from public business, he was led, soon after his return from England, to build a neat and convenient cottage, in an open situation, distant about six miles from Madras. To this delightful retirement he was wont to repair, when his avocations were not of such a nature as to require his presence at Egmore; and here, removed from the noise and bustle of the world, he passed in the bosom of his family, and occasionally with a few chosen friends, some of the pleasantest and happiest hours of his life. Eminently fitted as he was by nature for active and public employment, he was even better qualified to adorn a private station; and when we view him “in the domestic sphere of life—in that little but trying sphere, where we act wholly
from ourselves, and assume no character but that which is our own,” never did any one appear more exempt from the influence of those turbulent passions which agitate the minds of men; never any one more liberal and beneficent, more truly aniable and happy, than Dr. Kerr. For some time, his favourite retreat yielded him all the benefit he had expected. But during the hot months in th: year 1805, his indisposition became serious; and it was judged proper that he should try the effect of the cool climate of Mysore. Scarcely had he ascended the hills which divide this country from the Carnatic before a perceptible amendment took place; and so rapid was his recovery, that in the course of a few days he was restored to perfect health. During the hot season of the following year, his health suffered in a like manner as in the year preceding, which led him to resort to the same means of relief;. and though not so immediately as on the former occasion, yet ultimately with the same happy result. While in Mysore, he was the guest of his friend Major, now Colonel, Wilks, who then filled the situation of political Resident at the Court of Mysore—whose elegant and interesting work” will secure to him in this country the same consideration and respect which his talents and character have long since deservedly obtained for him among his countrymen in India. During his second excursion to
Mysore, he received instructions from the Government of Madras to proceed to the coast of Malabar, and, collect information relative to the early establishment to Christianity, and to the present state of the native Christians, in the provinces in that part of the peninsula. While in Travancore, he was the guest of his friend Colonel Macaulay, the Resident, with whom he had always lived in habits of intimacy. . The result of his inquiries on these interesting subjects, is contained in a letter to the Right Hon. Lord William Bentinck, governor of Madras, written after Dr. Kerr's return to the presidency. This letter was printed for private distribution, together with a Report on the same subject, by Dr. Buchanan, who was directed by the Government of Bengal to make an investigation similar to that on which , Dr. Kerr was employed. Both these papers have since become known to the public through the medium of the Christian Observer (Vol. for 1807, p. 751), the Philosophical Magazine, and other periodical publications”. The precarious state of his health, obviously to be ascribed to climate,
* Historical Sketches of the South ci India, by Lieut.-Colonel Mark Wilis.
* In the general observations offered by Dr. Kerr at the conclusion of his Report, he adverts to the means in his opinion best adapted to lead to an improvement of the moral character of the Hindoos, to augment their attachment to their British rulers, and to destroy the effect of any influence which may be exerted by those who are disaffected to the British nation to alienate the Hindoos from their allegiance; and, finally, to the means by which the blessings of the Gospel may be extended to our Indian subjects. For obtaining these most important benefits, Dr. Kerr recommends the establishment, throughout the British territories in lndia, of free schools, for the instruction of the natives in the English language. He is of opinion, that the prospects of advantage and emolument which a knowledge of the English tongue opens to the natives on the coast, will induce many fathers to send their children to these schools; and lie contemplates the moral and political improvement of the Hindoos, as a consequence which must flow from the perusal of English books, and an acquaintance with our religious and civil institutions. Major Scott Waring has called this a plan to “cheat" the natives of India; and he accuses Dr. Kerr of having suggested “a scheme as repugnant to every principle of justice and true morality as any ever proposed by a disciple of Loyola;" and he expresses his confidence, “ that the British nation possesses too just a sense of honour, and is too attached to the true Christian principle of not doing evil that good may come, to
would have determined Dr. Kerr to have quitted India at this time, had he possessed resources adequate to
sanction so foul a fraud as Dr. Kerr recommends".” Disclaiming the intention of engaging in a discussion with Major Scott Waring on the subject of Indian Missions, 1 shall calmly remark, that the charge he has brought against Dr. Kerr is of a very grave nature, but that it appears to be entirely destitute of soundation. Warmly engaged in the controversy which has afforded so much exercise for his pen, that gentleman has allowed his feelings and imagination to outstrip his judgment; and in this, as in several other instances which might be adduced. has assumed and argued from positions which he has not shewn to be just, and which indeed do not admit of proof. With the question, whether the means proposed by Dr. Kerr are competent to the production of the expected result, I have now no concern; but I contend, that, as his objects were confessedly good and of high importance, Major Scott Waring ought to have proved, that the means recommended to obtain them were at least reprehensible, before he stigmatised them as infamous. Does it in any degree detract from the merit of a scheme—does it not, on the contrary, enhance its value—that beneficial consequences are involved in it, which, though anticipated by the authors of the plan, are not foreseen, and which, under existing moral debasement, cannot even be comprehended, by those for whose advantage it is formed 2 If Major Scott Waring's animadversions on Dr. Kerr's suggestion be deemed just, it appears evident, that almost all political institutions are equally obnoxious to them;-nor can I see how the Christian religion itself can be exempt from their application. Dr. Kerr did not, as Major Scott Waring has said, reconomend that the Hindoos should be “cheated," but, on the contrary, that they should be undeseived. To accomplish his laudable purposes, he proposed no measures except such as the most rigid moralist might approve. He neither recommended that the Hindoos should be terrified by threats to send their children to school, not that they should be dragged thither by force, nor yet that they should be inveigled under delusive promises and pretences. He
* Major Scott Waring's Observations on the present State of the East-India Company. 4th edit, p. xxxviii.
the expense of living in England. But, always liberal and hospitable, his disposition and his habits had not been favourable to the accumulation of an independency. His voyage to England was attended with very serious expense; and he had laboured under some peculiar disadvantages with respect to emoluments, from which his predecessors and those chaplains who had entered the service at a period posterior to himself had alike been exempted. These circumstances, and the urgent necessity which existed for his return to England, induced him, during his second visit to Mysore, to address a Memorial to the Court of Directors, in which he besought then to grant him in arrear those allowances which he had not been so fortunate to enjoy, as the means, though of very inconsiderable amount, of enabling him to retire from the service. The support afforded to this Memorial by the Madras Government, and the eminent services Dr. Kerr had rendered to the Company",
* simply proposed a mode, affording, in his opinion, to the Hindoos, an opportunity of present and progressive improvenent. He did no more—the rest he left to time, and to the whisperings of “the still small voice” of reason. But Major Scott Waring, by the force of a heated innagination, has conjured up a phantom, which he attacks with as much fierceness, and at which he aims as many heavy strokes, as if it were a real nonster. * The result of Dr. Kerr's zealous labours for the advantage of the institution (the Male Asylum) has been, the establishment within itself of the means of paying a great proportion of its expenses, and of contributing in an eminent degree to the convenience and emolument of the Government, by the labours of a printing-office chiefly wrought by the boys of the institution; the amount of which saving, since the first establishment in 1799 until the end of August 1806, has been to the Government upwards of 75,000 pagodas, and profit to the Asylum of about 28,000 pagodas, exclusive of an uncollected balance of 10,000 pagodas, and of books saleable to the amount of 7000 pagodas, now on hand; the whole arising solely from the exertions of Dr. Kerr,
were circumstances which might reasonably be expected to concur in inducing the Court of Directors to come to a decision favourable to Dr. Kerr's wishes. He awaited with considerable solicitude the result of his application, under frequent apprehensions that it would not arrive until he should be far removed from this sublunary scene of anxiety and trouble. This melancholy foreboding was unfortunately verified ; for though the Court of Directors at length complied partly with the prayer of the Memorial, having granted him a donation of pagodas 50.0 (2000l.), the decision was not known in India until it was too late. On the 1st April, 1808, Dr. Kerr was attacked by a sever, which, on the 15th of the same month, being Good Friday, terminated his valuable and useful life, at the early age of thirty-nine years.
His remains were interred with every mark of respect, and in the presence of numerous spectators, in the chapel in the Black Town *; and on Sunday the 24th April, in reverence for his memory, the church of Madras was hung with sable drapery, lessons appropriate to the melancholy occasion were read, and a funeral discourse delivered by his colleague.
Dr. Kerr has left two daughters and one son, all of whom are young. Four children he had the misfortune of losing in their infancy.—His death was deplored with profound grief by his relatives and friends, who arranged the plan of this establishment and carried it into effect, by the appropriation of the means he discovered to exist in the institution itself—Minute of a General Meeting of the Directors of the Male Asylum held September 20th, 1806.
* Among the tokens of respect which
have been shewn to the memory of Dr. Kerr, ought to be noticed that of several of his more intimate friends, who, anxious to possess the likeness of one whom they so much loved and valued, subscribed for a highly finished engraving, which has been executed by Skelton, from a striking likeness of Dr. Kerr by Chinnery.