Life and Work in Benares and Kumaon, 1839-1877
by James Kennedy
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BY JAMES KENNEDY, M.A. Missionary of the London Missionary Society, Author of "Christianity and the Religions of India," &c.

WITH AN INTRODUCTORY NOTE BY SIR WILLIAM MUIR, K.C.S.I., LL.D., D.C.L. Late Lieutenant-Governor North Western Provinces of India




The history of this volume can be given in a few words. Months ago I said to a beloved relative that during the greater part of my life I had more to do than I could well accomplish, and that now, with health and strength in a measure restored, I sometimes thought I had not enough to do. He said: "Why not write the reminiscences of your Indian life?" The counsel struck me as good, and I have acted on it.

My theme has not the advantage of novelty: I cannot tell of a new country explored, and a new people brought within the knowledge of the world; but it has the advantage of greatness and variety. I am not aware that any book on Indian Missions has achieved signal success. I do not think, however, a single one has been written in vain. That must have been a singularly poor book on so great a subject which has not had something in it fitted to interest and inform readers. That must have been a very solitary, lonely missionary, who has had no friends ready to listen to what he has had to say. These books may have received little general attention; but here and there, as the result of their perusal, there has been a more intelligent apprehension of our work, deeper sympathy with us, and heartier support rendered to us. I have ventured to add a volume to those already published in the hope that it may do some good before it passes into the oblivion which necessarily awaits most of the productions of the press.

A glance at the contents of this volume will show it takes up a number of subjects, some of which are merely touched in most books on Missions, and others not at all. Reminiscences, especially when they spread over many years, and embrace great events, admit of very discursive treatment. They leave the writer unfettered to take up any subject within his wide scope which he may deem fitted to interest his readers. I have allowed myself the freedom thus afforded me. My aim has been to take my readers with me to our Indian home, to see us at our work, to hear us conversing with the people, to accompany us on our journeys, to surround them in thought with our surroundings, so that they may realize our position, trials, difficulties, and joys. I have throughout maintained the standpoint of one whose Indian life has been devoted to Mission work. My two spheres of labour—Benares during the greater part of my course, and Ranee Khet, in the Hill Province of Kumaon, in later years—have come in for extended remark.

My attention has not, however, been confined to Missions. I have endeavoured to write as one interested in everything which ought to interest a resident in the land. I have given some account of the climate, aspect of the country, condition and character of the people, changes which have taken place, modes of travelling, and the British Government. I have again and again travelled in the North-West, and some account of these journeys has been given. On one occasion I spent the greater part of two months in Ceylon, and to that beautiful island a chapter is devoted.

I have recorded at some length my experiences of the Indian Mutiny of 1857. No one who was in that terrible storm can ever forget it; and the European inhabitants of Benares at that time have special reason for thankfulness for their marvellous escape.

I have found it convenient to follow, as a rule, the chronological order, but I have not kept closely to it. When recording the more remote past, the nearer past has been continually coming into view, and the contrast has found expression.

Indian names are written as ordinary English readers would pronounce them, in preference to using the diacritical marks with which I have been long familiar in the writing of Hindustanee in the Roman character. The term "Hindu" is so established that I have used it in preference to "Hindoo."

At the end of this book the reader will find statistics fraught with interest to all who wish to understand the great Indian problem in its many aspects.

It is impossible to keep one's self out of view in a work like this; but I hope the candid reader will give me credit for saying as little of myself, family, and doings as is compatible with the conditions under which I have written.

I beg to dedicate this book to the friends of Christian Missions, in the hope it may increase the interest of some in that great Continent, with its teeming population, which has in God's providence come under the rule of our land, and has special claims on our prayers, sympathy, and efforts. I cannot doubt that my Indian friends, both those who have come back to England and those who are still in India, will give a kindly reception to the volume. They will, I believe, confirm the general accuracy of my statements, and to a large extent acquiesce in my views. With them so long as my heart beats it will go forth in heartiest wishes and fervent prayer for the land with which our past has so inseparably bound us.

J. K. ACTON, August, 1884.



From 1838 to 1839. Voyage to India and the City of Palaces.

Voyage. First Impressions of Calcutta. Changes since 1839. Messrs. Piffard and Lacroix. Schools. Visit to Serampore. 1


Voyage to Benares—March, 1839.

Various Modes of Travelling. The Sunderbuns. Fellow-passengers. Storm. Study of Hindustanee. Scenes on the River and its Banks. 9


Arrival at Benares.

The Rev. William Smith. Congregation of Beggars. The Rev. W. P. Lyon. Native Service. Settling down. 15


Missions in Benares from 1816 to 1839.

The Baptists first in the Field. Eurasian Agents. The Church Mission. London Mission. Orphanage of the Church Mission. 20


1839 and 1840. First Year in Benares.

Views Enlarged and Modified. Study of Hindustanee. Undue Complacency. Study of the Native Character. Evangelistic Work. 27


First Year in Benares (continued).

Class-feeling among Europeans. Eurasians. Climate in the North-West Provinces. Variety of Scenery and Climate in India. Experience of Climate during First Year. The Sufferings of Poor Natives in Winter. Homesickness. 34


The City of Benares.

Sherring's "Sacred City of the Hindus." Residents and Visitors. Commerce. Antiquity. Gautam's Ministry in the Sixth Century B.C. The Success of Buddhism. Its Overthrow. The Devotion of the City to Shiva. Muhammadans. A Trip on the River. The Principal Temple. Heathen Temples and Roman Worship. The Mosque of Aurungzeb. The Present City Modern. Beggars. Macaulay's Description of Benares. 49


Benares as a Mission Sphere.

Hostility to the Gospel. Apostolic Labour in Great Cities. Robert Haldane's Project. Benares brought under British Rule in 1781. The Door opened for the Gospel. Bishop Heber. Benares as a Centre of Mission Work. 77


Second Year in Benares.

Marriage. The Vicissitudes of Indian Life. Celibate Missionaries. Different Departments of Work. 88


The Religious Gatherings of the Hindus.

Their Saturnalia. The Play of Ram. The Eclipse of the Moon. Mela at Allahabad. The Peculiarities of a Hindu Gathering. Sanitary Precautions. Cholera. Ascetics. Influence of Melas in strengthening Hinduism. 94


The Object of Christian Missions.

Necessity for Different Modes of Action. Preaching. Questions, Objections, and Replies. Polytheism and Pantheism. Muhammadan Hearers. 108


Mission Schools.

Primary Schools. Secondary Schools. College Department. Indian Universities. The Danger of Christian Instruction being thrust aside. The Value of Higher Schools in a Missionary Aspect. Conversion. Public Opinion. 124



Pressing Need in 1837 and 1838. Sanguine Hopes. Difficulties. Advantages. Native Agents obtained. The General Result. 135


Mission Tours.

Voyaging in the Ganges. Trust in Ganges Water. Serpents. Journey to Agra at the end of 1842. Tents. The Appearance of the Country. Roads and Groves. Walled Villages. Traffic. Immunity from Thieves. Kindness from Missionaries. Agra. Evangelistic Work. Kunauj. An Interesting Inquirer. New Mission Church in Benares. Tour to Kumaon in 1847. Journeying Troubles. Return by Meerut and Delhi. 145


From 1847 to 1857.

Work at Benares. Voyage to England in 1850. Return to India in 1853. Calcutta to Benares. From 1854 to 1857. Increase of Native Christian Congregation. Mission Tours. Visit to the Fort of Rohtas in February, 1857. Biblical Examination. Missionary Conference. 168


The Mutiny, 1857 and 1858.

Causes. Peculiarity of our Position. The Native Army. Grievances alleged. Dissatisfaction outside the Army. Threatenings of the Storm. The Cartridges. Outbreak and Progress of the Mutiny. Berhampore and Barrackpore. Meerut. 174


The Mutiny (continued).

The Christian Community at Benares. The Fanaticism of the City. Precautions. The Fourth of June. Mutiny of the Native Regiments. Flight to the Ganges. Escorted to the Mint. Retribution. The Panic of July 6. At the Mint on Sunday Night, July 5. Marriage of a Native Couple. Alarm and Panic. Strange Bed-fellows. After the Panic. Family left for Calcutta and England. From July to December. Lucknow. Mud Fort. The Steadfastness of Native Christians. India in 1857 and Egypt in 1882. Visit to Allahabad. Desolation. The Kindness of English Officials. 185


Visit to Ceylon—1858 and 1859.

Galle, Colombo, and Kandy. The Cocoanut Palm. The Cinnamon Gardens. Coffee Plantations. Perpetual Summer. Visit to Newera Ellia. The Christian Zeal of the Dutch. Great Outward Success. Collapse. Missions. Buddhist Temples. 205


From 1859 to 1868.

Work at Benares. Increased Attention to the European Population. Visit to Cities in the North-West. Allahabad. Cawnpore. Lucknow. Incident on the Ganges. Visit to Delhi in 1861 on our Way to Kumaon. Visit to England, Return to India, and Appointment to Kumaon. 213


From 1868 to 1877. Kumaon.

Its Scenery and Products. A Sub-Himalayan Region. Scenery, Climate, and Products. New Products. Tea. Inhabitants, Hindus and Doms. Gods and Temples. Local Gods. Demons. The Character of the People. Want of Cleanliness. The Plague. History. Native Dynasties. The British Rule. Progress. Tea Planting. The Irrigation of the Bhabhur. Wild Beasts. Treaty with the Ghoorkhas. Modes of Travelling. Journey to the Pindaree Glacier. 232


Almora Mission.

Schools. Female Education. The Leper Asylum. English Preaching. 252


Ranee Khet.

Schools. Wooden House. Rain and Rats. Pioneer Work. The Erection of Buildings. Work among the English. Among Natives. Educated Young Men. Doms. Night School. Itineracy. A Hill Mela. Bageswar. 260


Habits and Condition of the Hill People.

Sanitary Regulations. Yearly Visit to Nynee Tal. The Missions of the American Episcopal Methodist Church. Retirement from the Indian Mission-field. Helpful Friends. Return to England. 279


The Missionary in India.

Extent and Variety of the Indian Field. The Greatness of the Missionary Office. The Contrast between Ministerial and Missionary Work. The Relations of Missionaries to each other, to their respective Societies, and to Missionaries of other Societies. Their Relation to Europeans. 289


The Missionary in India (continued).

The Mode of Living required by the Climate. Missionary Theology. The Radical Opposition of the Gospel to Heathenism. The Example of our Lord and His Apostles. Hindu and Buddhist Views of the Future. The Doctrine by which Mission Success has been achieved. The Necessity of Sin being considered in the adjustment of Doctrine. In Memoriam. 297


Native Christians.

Syrian Christians. The Descendants of Xavier's Converts. The Shanars in Travancore and Tinnevelly. The Hills of Central and Eastern India. The Kols and Santhals. Bengal. Krishnaghur and Backergunje. The Presidency Cities. The Social and Educational Standing of the Converts. Northern India. The Drummers in Native Regiments. The Waifs of Society. Pride in the Christian Name. Orphans and their Descendants. Converts of our Missions. Baptism sought from Wrong Motives. 307


Native Christians (continued).

Unworthy Members. The Sacrifices made by Converts. Difficulty in Forming a Right Estimate of a Community. The General Character of our Native Christians. The Ordeal of 1857. The Christian Constancy of our People. Their Loyalty. Their Bearing in Joy and Sorrow. "Everywhere spoken against." Most Europeans have no Sympathy with us. Unfair to judge by Individuals. The Support of Native Christians. Different Occupations. Native Christian Contributions. The Compound System. 315


The People among whom we labour—Muhammadans.

A Large Muhammadan Population. Variety in Position, Culture, and Character. The Quran and the Bible. Licentiousness of Muhammadans, Hindus, and So-called Christians. The Estimable Character of some Muhammadans. Muhammadan Opposition to the Gospel. Its Opposition to Idolatry. Proselytes to Islam. The Relation of Muhammadans and Hindus to each other. Hindu Home-life. Muhammadan Reformers. 329



Pantheism, Polytheism, and Idolatry, and their Demoralizing Tendency. Counteracting Influences. Contradictory Views of Hindu Character. Professor Max Muller. Sir Thomas Munro. Sir Charles Trevelyan.

The Caste System. Its Ramifications and Effects. Its Baneful Influence. Its Incidental Benefits. The Patriarchal System. In the Presidency Cities Caste greatly weakened. Weakening Tendencies all over India.

The Brahmists. Brahmism and the Gospel. Brahmist Divisions. Successive Hindu Reformers.

Girls' Schools and Female Missions. Access to Hindu Families. Lady Physicians. Great Importance of Zenana Missions. Behind the Curtain. The Freedom of Women in Humble Life. The Influence of Women in India.

Mission Prospects. Difficulty in gauging Success. Hurtful Influence of English Infidel Literature. The Strength of Family and Social Ties. Instance. The Vast Extent of the Field. Pagani, Villagers, synonymous with Heathen.

Help given in India for the Solution of Great Questions. 1. The Immobility of the Eastern Mind. 2. The Genesis and Evolution of Religion. 3. Comparative Religion. 4. The Migration of Nations. 338


Europeans in India.

No Sphere in India for European Colonization. The Climate. The Land occupied. India Presents a Wide Field for European Agency. The Difference between Europeans and Natives. India never called "Home" by Europeans. Highly Educated Natives. Native Gentlemen. Natives in Subordinate and Menial Positions. The Position of Europeans changed. Advantages and Disadvantages. Improved Condition of European Society. The Effect on Europeans of Home Literature. Increased Effort for the Spiritual Good of Europeans and Eurasians. 357


The Government of India.

Our Right to Govern India. We went as Traders, and were led by Circumstances to fight. The Conduct of the Native Powers. The Marquess of Hastings. Not allowed to remain at Peace. Our Comparative Faithfulness to Engagements. The Condition in which we found India. The Muhammadan Empire. Civil Wars. Invasions. The Dissolution of the Empire. Adventurers. No Elements of Stable Government. The Effect of British Rule.

The Greatness of the Work entrusted to us. Character of our Administrators. Responsibility elicits Capacity. District Officers. Strict Supervision exercised over them. The Evils springing from the Institution of Courts. Runjeet Singh's Plan. The Evils Incident to Civilization.

Regulation and Non-Regulation Provinces. The Taxation Heavy. Regular Payments. The Land-Tax is the Land-Rent. The Native Army. The European Army. Civil Officials in the Mutiny. Inadvisability of Bengalees holding the Highest Offices.

In India we have Different Nations. Bengalees Strangers in the North-West. The Preference given to English as Rulers. Trust in our Justice. The Large Pay of High Officials cannot be justly or wisely reduced. Opinion of Natives as Litigants.

The People Mainly Agricultural. Poverty. Increase of Population. Sturdy Beggars. Lending and Borrowing. Debt Hereditary. Marriage Expenses.

Incidence of Taxation. Municipal Institutions and Local Government. Improvement of Cities during Late Years.

Our Government no Unmixed Blessing. Unjust Charges and Incorrect Statements.

From whom is Improvement to be hoped? From no Class so much as from Indian Officials. The "Gazetteer" of India. Importance of Information being made Accessible to the English People.

The best Conceivable Government for India. The best Practicable Government.

The Future of India. Antagonistic Elements. The Order secured by the Army. The Greatness of our Responsibility. Good Government Favourable to Evangelization. 365




Neither the author nor his book stands in need of any introduction to the public. But having been asked for such, I cheerfully respond. During his long residence in the North-Western Provinces of India, where I myself happened to reside, ample opportunities were afforded me of knowing and observing the Rev. Jas. Kennedy and his work. And I am therefore able, and glad, to say that no man was ever better placed than he was for gaining a thorough acquaintance with Hindustan and the various races inhabiting it, during the four decades of which he treats. I have met with none whose calm and sagacious judgment might more surely enable him to form correct conclusions, nor whose high and scrupulous principle should impart to the reader greater confidence in the fair and truthful statement of them.

I regard this book as possessing a rare interest, not only for the missionary student, but equally so for the general reader. The amount of information it contains, descriptive, social, evangelistic, and even political, is astonishing; and the discursive and, in part, autobiographical form in which it is written, renders it so easy, that he who runs may read. The contrast is drawn graphically, and with a light and lively pen, between the state of things fifty years ago and that which now prevails: the exchange of slow and cumbrous means of conveyance for those which enable you in these days to perform the journey of weeks in, you might say, as many hours; and the not less marked advance in education and intelligence. The retrospect, material as well as moral, social, and religious, is useful in many ways.

But that which lends its chief value to this work is the faithful picture of missionary labour—its trials and difficulties, its results, rewards, and prospects. During the considerable period brought under review, standing by, as I did, and looking carefully on, I can unhesitatingly attest, as a whole, the correctness of my friend's statements, and the reasonableness of the lessons he would draw therefrom. This book should be read by every one who wishes to acquaint himself with the attitude of Christian agencies towards the people of India, and of these towards the Gospel. There is here a fertile field of facts and materials for thought. The author resorts to no roseate colouring, nor any kind of varnish. Nothing is unduly sanguine. All is tempered by sound judgment and wise discretion.

If I may add a word from my own experience, it is this—Let my fellow-countrymen and countrywomen in India give their countenance to the Missionaries labouring around them. They well deserve it, but too often are allowed to stand alone. The loss is theirs who keep aloof, and neglect the man and his work. While our people are running to and fro in the busy whirl of Indian life—some hasting to be rich, others engrossed in the labours of administration—higher things are too frequently forgotten. The spiritual life is prone to fade and droop. Many men—and women as well as men—who would at home be cultivating some corner of the Master's vineyard, begin to forget that similar obligations follow after them in their private walk and life abroad. Against these deteriorating tendencies, to mingle with the missionary band affords a wholesome antidote. For myself, I can never be thankful enough that in my early Indian life I found valued friends in the missionary circle, not only of the highest mental culture, but of a devoted Christian heart; and was privileged with their intimacy to the end. Among them I cannot refrain from naming such noble Missionaries as Perkins, Smith, and Leupolt, French, Stuart, Welland, and Shackell, Owen, Humphrey, Budden and Watt, Hoernle, and Pfander—that grand apologist to the Mahometans—all of whose friendship I enjoyed, as well as that of the Author himself. If some of these were men the like of whom we may not soon look upon again—a galaxy of rare appearance—yet, as we may learn from these pages, the field is in the present day stocked even more plentifully than ever it was before. Opportunities of cultivating in this field Christian friendship—and may I not add Christian work, and that for Ladies also—are happily multiplying all around; and I can promise an ample reward to such as make a faithful use of them.

In conclusion, I will only say that I am much mistaken if this work fails to take its place as a standard book of reference in every library of missionary labour and Christian work abroad.

W. MUIR. 16th September, 1884.



In 1837 I was accepted by the London Missionary Society as one of its agents. On September 15, 1838, I embarked at Portsmouth with thirty other passengers on the Duke of Buccleugh, a vessel of 650 tons burthen, and landed in Calcutta on January 19, 1839, en route to Benares, to which I had been appointed. The only land we sighted from Portsmouth to Saugar Island was a rock in the Indian Ocean. The time we thus spent at sea was four months and five days. Every now and then speedier voyages were made, but a few years previously this voyage would have been deemed rapid. The Duke of Buccleugh, on her next voyage to India, went to pieces on a sandbank at the mouth of the Hoogly, but happily the weather was moderate, and passengers and crew were saved.

The route by the Cape of Good Hope has been abandoned for passengers for many years, and now Bombay is reached by the Straits of Gibraltar and the Suez Canal in a month, sometimes in less, while another week is required for the voyage to Calcutta. Those who travel with the Indian mails across the Continent of Europe can reach their port in less than three weeks, and distant parts of India by rail in four weeks or less.

All on board—officials returning to their posts, and persons going out for the first time—were delighted to find the voyage coming to an end; but new-comers like myself were under the spell of novelty, which gave new interest to everything we saw. At Kedgeree, near the mouth of the Hoogly, the Post Office boat came to our ship with welcome letters from friends, who were looking out for our arrival. The level land on each side of the river, with its rich tropical vegetation; the numerous villages on the banks, with their beehive-like huts; the craft on the river, large and small, many of them so heavily laden as to bring them down almost to the water's edge; the little boats, with plantains and other fruits, which tried to attach themselves to our ship in the hope of getting purchasers; the strange appearance of the people, with their only covering of cloth round the middle—all gave us a thrill of excitement which can be known only in similar circumstances. Then, we were about to set foot on the great land, of which we had read much, to which we had looked with the deepest interest, and where we purposed to spend our days in the service of Christ. Though so many years have since elapsed, we can yet vividly remember the peculiar feeling of that time.

The day before we landed, the Native agent of the mercantile house to which our ship was consigned made his appearance with letters and fresh supplies. To the surprise of us new-comers, roast beef was on our dinner-table that day. We thought it strange that in the land where the cow was worshipped, beef should be one of the first things brought to us.

Our missionary friends in Calcutta had heard of the arrival of our ship, and arranged for our accommodation. Some of them came on board when we anchored in the Hoogly, off Fort William, and gave us a hearty welcome. We were right glad to find ourselves on land again.


Calcutta is a hundred miles from the sea, but the country is so level that the tide runs up in great strength many miles beyond, and the tidal wave, which comes in at certain times, is very dangerous to small craft, and requires care on the part of large ships. The great trade of the city is shown by the vast number of ships at anchor in the river, many of them stately vessels of large tonnage, of which in our day many are steamers.

On landing, a stranger gets the impression that Calcutta is rightly called the city of palaces. On the great plain adjoining the river, at some distance from each other, are two notable objects—Fort William and Government House. Beyond the plain lies Chowringhee, a range of lofty houses extending for more than a mile, with balconies and flat roofs, giving one an impression of grandeur, which is scarcely sustained when more nearly seen, as that which looked at a distance like marble is found to be stucco and plaster. Behind Chowringhee are a number of wide streets with similar, but generally smaller houses, each apart, with offices and servants' houses in the enclosure. When entering the city one sees that strange combination of meanness and dirt with grandeur with which travellers in Eastern lands are so familiar. In the neighbourhood of Government House there are a number of shops in the European fashion, but a very large proportion of the business of Calcutta, we suppose the most of it, is carried on in bazaars, in which there are no showy shops, but where there is abundance of goods of every description. When we went to India, and for many years afterwards, in front of these shops were open sewers, over which customers had to pass on slabs of stone. Amidst houses for Europeans, even in the most aristocratic part of the city, were native houses of every description, many of them miserable grass huts.

Since the time of which I speak, some forty-five years ago, Calcutta has been greatly improved. It has been drained, supplied with good water, instead of being dependent on great open tanks, to which all had access, which no arrangement could keep tolerably pure, and is lit with gas. Open sewers are no longer to be seen, and from the best parts of the city many native houses have disappeared. The changes effected must conduce immensely to the health and comfort of the inhabitants. There is no part of India, we suppose, free from the plague of the musquito, but in all my Indian life I have not been so much tormented in any place by it as I have been in Calcutta. It adds insult to injury. If it would only bite, sharp though its bite be, one could put up with it; but before it bites, and after, it goes on buzzing, as if mocking you, and evades every attempt to catch it. The last time we were there musquitoes were comparatively few, and they seemed to have lost much of their former mischievous vigour. We suppose the improved sanitary arrangements have not agreed with them.

When in Calcutta everything reminded us that we had left our own country behind, though not all our own people. We saw them on every side, but they were a mere handful in the midst of a strange people in a strange land, where man and nature presented entirely new aspects. The look of the people, the exceedingly scanty dress of the labouring class, and the long flowing robes of those in better circumstances, the marks on the foreheads and arms of the Hindus, showing the gods whose worshippers they were, their processions with noisy, unmusical music, the public buildings of the people, the mosques of the Muhammadans, and the temples of the Hindus, with a church here and there to show that Christianity had also its shrines—all brought to our view characteristics of the great land on which we had entered. Bombay, since the opening of the Suez Canal, has made progress which somewhat affects the pre-eminence of Calcutta among the cities of India, but it still remains the capital of British India—I ought rather to say of India—and its position will continue to make it, what it has been in the past, a vast emporium of commerce, the abode of a great population, and a place of most stirring activity. It continues to be the resort of persons of every civilized, and almost every semi civilized, nation on the face of the earth.

My stay in Calcutta of six weeks was longer than I had anticipated, but my time was very pleasantly and profitably spent. A few days after arrival a united prayer-meeting was held: missionaries of all societies were present, the attendance was large, the spirit was earnest and devout, and I then began to realize, what it was my happiness to realize more fully afterwards, the uniting power of the missionary enterprise. I had the happiness of attending services with Native Christians, and of joining them in spirit, though not with understanding. I was especially interested in the noble Missionary Institution of the Church of Scotland, and in the smaller, but promising, school of our own Society. I felt as if the sight of such a number of boys and young men, many of them with most pleasing and intelligent countenances, all learning our language, and, what is vastly better, all taught from the Word of God, was enough in itself to repay one for the long voyage to India. I heard them examined, and was surprised at the knowledge of English possessed by some of them, at the extent of their Biblical knowledge, and at the Christian tone with which they gave replies to questions. I asked a tall, slightly built young man, with a most intelligent face, dressed in the flowing white robe of his people, who had spoken with what struck me as the accent of conviction, "Are you a Christian?" to which he replied, "Yes, in heart; but I fear persecution." To this subject of schools I shall have often occasion to revert in the course of my reminiscences.

During my stay in Calcutta I had much pleasant intercourse with missionaries of different Societies. I was the guest of Mr. Boaz, afterwards Dr. Boaz, of Union Chapel, by whom I was treated with much kindness. Mr. Gogerly had been my fellow-passenger to India. Mr. Lacroix and Mr. Piffard were, at that time, the senior missionaries of our Society in Calcutta. Both were admirable men. Mr. Piffard was a gentleman of property, who devoted himself to missionary work, and laboured for many years most faithfully, without requiring to take, and without taking, any salary from the Society. A short time afterwards he was suddenly carried off by cholera. Mr. Lacroix lived for many years. I had the pleasure of meeting him in my visits to Calcutta, and in his visits to the North-west, and also of frequent correspondence with him. He was esteemed and loved as few have been. He was a man with a commanding presence, tall and well-built, and had a geniality of manner which won all hearts. He spoke and wrote English remarkably well, with a slight foreign accent and sprightliness, an elan, as our French friends call it, which told of his French birth and upbringing. He had a thorough knowledge of the Bengalee language, and used it with a commanding eloquence, to which his voice, look, and gesture greatly contributed. His last illness, the result of his long residence in the enervating climate of Bengal, was borne with Christian patience, and drew forth the sympathy and kindly inquiry of all classes. At his funeral such tokens of respect and love were rendered to him by every class of the community, Native and European, as have been seldom witnessed in Calcutta.

[Sidenote: SERAMPORE.]

Like all newly-arrived missionaries in Calcutta, I made a pilgrimage to Serampore. The illustrious trio—Carey, Marshman, and Ward—whose names are indissolubly connected with that place, as first their refuge and, for many years afterwards, the scene of their plans and labours for the evangelization of India, had passed away by that time (January, 1839), but the Rev. John Mack, who had been long associated with them, and Mr. John Marshman, Dr. Marshman's eldest son, remained. I was taken by Mr. Mack to the college, the printing-office, the type manufactory, the paper manufactory, the mission chapel, the station church, Dr. Carey's garden, and the native Christian village, indeed, to every object of interest about the place. I remember seeing an elderly man engaged in type-making, and observing a little image in a niche above him. I was told this man had been many years in this department of work, and had remained so strict a Hindu that he would work only under the protection of his god. The teaching of the missionaries had had no effect in weaning him from his ancestral idolatry. Yet many were won to Christ by the Scriptures and books, for the preparation of which the work of this man, and of others of his class, was indispensable.

When visiting Serampore, and hearing from Mr. Mack of the doings and achievements of the great men whose residence at Serampore has given it a sacredness it will ever retain in the annals of Indian Missions, I felt as a young Greek would feel on being taken to Marathon and Thermopylae. I felt I was entering on a war, where there had been heroes before me, which demanded courage and endurance of a far higher order than had ever been enlisted in the cause of patriotism.



March, 1839.

I left myself in the hands of friends in Calcutta as to the best mode of proceeding to my destination. There were at that time three modes of travelling to the North-Western Provinces. One was being carried in a palanquin on men's shoulders, arrangements being made to have fresh bearers every few miles. For a long journey of more than four hundred miles to Benares this was at once a very tedious and fatiguing mode of travelling. To one who knew not a word of the language of the people in whose hands one was to be for days it was additionally trying. Yet not a few persons newly arrived, some of them delicate ladies, did travel in that mode to far more distant places than Benares, and very seldom any mishap befell them. In this mode little more could be taken in the way of luggage than necessary clothing.

Another mode was by the river in a native boat, with a crew engaged to take the party to their destination. Not a few travelled in this way, even to Delhi. Weeks, often months, were spent on the voyage; great inconveniences were endured, and not infrequently great perils encountered from the sudden storms to which voyagers on the Ganges are exposed, from the strong and eddying currents in some parts of the river, and perhaps most of all from the treacherous character of the boatmen. In 1841 and 1842 a severe storm fell on a large fleet of boats taking a European regiment to the north-west. Many of the boats were wrecked, and, if I remember rightly, about three hundred men lost their lives.

There was a third mode of proceeding to the north-west. A few years previously a River Steam Company had been formed for the transmission of passengers and goods. Passengers were accommodated in flats drawn by steamers. As the Ganges enters Bengal it breaks into a number of streams, by which it makes its way to the ocean. The Hoogly, on which Calcutta stands, is one of these streams. Some of them are so shallow at certain seasons that native boats of considerable size cannot find sufficient water, and they are at that time impassable for steamers, though so constructed as to have the least possible draught. The result is that the steamers for the north-west (we believe none ply now) had to make a great detour, to go down the Hoogly to Saugor Island, and then to proceed by one of the channels there found to the main stream. This greatly increased the distance to the north-west. Except in the rainy season, steamers for Benares had to go about eight hundred miles.


Of these three routes this one of the river steamers was in many respects the most convenient and pleasant, especially for persons new in the country, and my Calcutta friends kindly arranged that I should be sent on in this way. I accordingly embarked for Benares on a flat, tugged by a steamer, in the first week of March. After going down the Hoogly to Saugor Island, we made our way into the district called the Sunderbuns by one of the channels of the Ganges. We got into a labyrinth of streams, every here and there opening up into a wide reach of water, giving one the impression we were entering a lake; and shortly afterwards we found ourselves in a channel so narrow that we almost touched the banks on both sides, and which barely allowed a passage where there was a sharp turn in the stream. We had native pilots who knew the region thoroughly, and were in no danger of going astray. The land down to the water's edge was covered with the densest tropical vegetation, so that the banks often bounded our view, except when the trees on it were lower than those beyond. In the waters and out, wild beasts abound. Alligators were seen dropping from the banks into the stream on hearing the approach of the steamer. We saw no tigers, but we heard much about them as we were threading our way through that region. The previous year, early one morning, the watch on the deck of the flat was startled by a tiger leaping on board, and, evidently bewildered by its new circumstances, leaping off on the other side. Messrs. Lacroix and Gogerly, when on a native boat in the Sunderbuns, were witnesses of a desperate fight between a tiger and an alligator. The story has been often told.

Less than two centuries ago there was a large population in what may be called that amphibious region, the soil when cleared being very rich; but owing to the incursions of Mug pirates from the coast of Burmah, and the oppression of Muhammadan rulers of Bengal, the most of the inhabitants perished, others fled, and so complete was the ruin that the exact site of once prosperous cities is unknown. In a region like the Sunderbuns, when man's restraining and improving hand is withdrawn every trace of his presence disappears under the rank vegetation, which speedily covers the sphere of his labours. The country, under British protection, was in 1839 beginning to be reoccupied. Patches of ground were reclaimed from the jungle, and since that time cultivation has been greatly extended. We occasionally met native boats, and were thus reminded we were not the only human begins in that district. Nearly a week elapsed before we emerged from the Sunderbuns.

Our passengers were a motley band. Between twenty and thirty were Europeans, two or three were Eurasians, and there was a company of Sepoys under a native officer in charge of treasure. Most of the Sepoys were Hindus, and as they cannot cook on the water, which is forbidden by caste-law, they were obliged to subsist as they best could on dry grain. The Muhammadans had no convenience for cooking on the flat, but they were allowed partial use of the steamer. All were delighted when they got into the open country, and could get on shore at night to prepare their meals.

The steamer and flat were brought to anchor at all the important towns on the river, for lading and unlading goods and for landing passengers, of whom very few left us, as most were bound for Benares and Allahabad. When evening came on we always anchored, wherever we might be. We saw a little of Bhagulpore, Monghyr, Dinapore, Patna, Ghazeepore, and some other places. At Monghyr I spent a very pleasant evening with Mr. Leslie of the Baptist Mission, even then of considerable standing, and years afterwards a highly esteemed veteran in the missionary host.


Our progress was slow. In some places the stream was too strong for our steamer tugging the flat, and in other places the water was too shallow. Sometimes we got for hours, in one case for a whole day, on sandbanks, from which we got off with great difficulty. The most memorable incident of the voyage was a storm, which came on us one evening as we were nearing Dinapore. There was so little warning of its approach that we, who knew not the climate, were quite unprepared for its coming. Before breaking on us we were brought to a standstill, the flat was separated from the steamer, and both flat and steamer were brought to anchor. The sky suddenly became dark, we heard puffs of wind, and then the storm burst on us in all its fury. The dust was so raised that we could see only a few feet from the flat, and the flat so rolled that every now and then a splash of water came in at the windows. A scene of great confusion ensued. Some Indo-Portuguese servants were on their knees, imploring Mary—"Mariam, Mariam!"—to save them. The Hindus were loud in their appeals to "Ram, Ram!" while the Muhammadans shouted "Allah, Allah!" A newly arrived English lady almost fainted from fright, and her husband tried to calm and assure her. Every face indicated anxiety. In less than an hour all was over, and we were thankful to find ourselves once more in safety.

Before leaving England I had possessed myself of a Hindustanee Grammar, and in Calcutta of a Hindustanee Dictionary. On the voyage to India I did not make much of the grammar, but on the way to Benares I gave myself resolutely to learning the language. I found a young native officer on the flat who knew a little English, and who professed to be a good Hindustanee scholar. I got the consent of the native officer in command to his coming to my cabin when off duty, and I spent hours daily with him, trying to get my tongue about the strange sounds, with which I knew I must be familiar if I was to do the work for which I had come to India. I received great help from this young Muhammadan, and felt as if I was beginning to get my foot into the language before reaching my destination.

On the three Sabbaths I was on the river I had the pleasure of preaching to the Europeans on board.

A voyage on the Ganges does not enable one to see much of the country. The banks are often very high; in many places there is a great extent of sand; the country, with the exception of the district where the main stream is entered, is very level, and the country is therefore very imperfectly seen. The native craft, so unlike the vessels of our own country, with their lofty prows and sterns, and great ragged square sails, many laden with wood and grass, which made them like moving stacks, were constant objects of interest.

At length, after more than three weeks on board, we were delighted one Sunday forenoon to see in the distance the domes and minarets of Benares.



On Sabbath, March 31, 1839, we came to anchor at the northern end of Benares, at a place called Raj Ghat, the ferry connecting the city on the left bank of the river with the Trunk road on the right, leading to Behar and Bengal. Near this place the most of the native craft employed in the city traffic is moored. Many of the vessels are of considerable size.

For hours Benares had been in sight, but owing to the strength of the stream our progress had been slow. It was early afternoon by the time of our arrival. In so public a place as Raj Ghat there are always a number of people, but the early afternoon is a time when few bathe, and there is a lull in the stir of the community. As the afternoon comes on, and the evening advances, there is fresh activity. We therefore, on landing, saw little of the scene with which we were afterwards to become familiar.

Word of the approach of our steamer and flat had reached Secrole, the European suburb of Benares, three miles inland, and no sooner had we come to anchor than the agent of the Steam Company and the friends of expected passengers came on board. Among these was the Rev. William Smith of the Baptist Mission, whose house was on the high bank immediately above Raj Ghat, and who had been requested by my brethren of the London Missionary Society to be on the look-out for me. This good man gave me a kindly welcome, and took me with him to his house, built very much in the native fashion, with flat roof, with small, low rooms entering from one into another, and a verandah extending along its front, from which a commanding view was obtained of the river and craft below, the country on the other side of the river, and a part of the front of the city. Immediately behind the house was the chapel, in which daily worship was conducted.


The first thing I saw on getting to Mr. Smith's house was the chapel crowded with very poor-looking people, of whom a number were blind and lame. I was told these were beggars, who came every Lord's-day to receive a dole, either pice or dry grain, from the missionary and his wife, and who listened very patiently to an address before the dole was given. This service was kept up for many years, and there was no falling off in the attendance. Those who have read the life of Henry Martyn, and others of the early missionary period in India, know that they ministered to this class. Here were persons whose destitution appealed directly to the Christian heart, and who were content to be present when the gospel message was delivered, while little access to others could be obtained. How far these poor people heard it would be difficult to say. I am afraid few heard with any desire to understand and consider what was said, but there is every reason to believe some did obtain lasting spiritual good. We have heard of instances of genuine conversion, though it must be admitted these were rare; and it must be also acknowledged there were instances of pretended conversion, when the life soon proved that the motive for seeking baptism was entirely sordid. Still the work in itself was worthy of the followers of Christ, and could not fail to make a favourable impression, not only on the persons helped, but on the community around. Almsgiving stands high among virtues in the estimation of both Hindus and Muhammadans; it is considered sufficient to atone for many sins, and it is practised so indiscriminately as to pauperize many who could provide for themselves. It is unfit that Christianity should seem less careful of those who are really poor and helpless than Hinduism and Muhammadanism are. Work such as I saw in Mr. Smith's chapel is carried on in some places down to the present time.

A short time after our arrival at Raj Ghat my dear friend the Rev. W. P. Lyon appeared, and took me in his conveyance by a road skirting the city to the Mission House in Secrole, which he then occupied. From Mr. and Mrs. Lyon, both of whom I had known intimately for years in our own land, I received a hearty welcome.

At the corner of the mission compound, facing the public road, was the humble chapel, built of sun-dried bricks, in which service was conducted in the native language. I arrived half an hour before the time for the afternoon service. Before its commencement I had the pleasure of meeting Messrs. Buyers and Shurman, with whom I was to be for years associated in mission work. With them I went to the service, which was conducted by Mr. Shurman. There were at that time only two or three native Christians connected with the mission, and these, with their families, the missionaries and their wives, and a few orphan children, constituted the congregation. I had just enough of the language to catch an expression here and there, and from my ignorance of what was said my mind was left at greater freedom for realizing my new and strange position.

I had just had a glance of the sacred city of the Hindus. I had seen at a short distance the domes of some of the principal temples, and the minarets of some of the principal mosques, especially those of the mosque built by Aurungzeb, soaring far above every other object in the city. I had dimly seen the bathing-places of the people stretching away for miles, and the houses on the high bank of the river. As I landed I had seen a few bathing, and a number moving about.

And now, in this poor chapel, with its low roof and earthen floor, I found a few assembled for the worship of the living God through the Lord Jesus Christ. I realized, as I had not done before, that I had left my native land behind, and had come among a people the vast majority of whom were wholly given to idolatry, and the rest followers of Muhammad, the bitter enemies of my Lord and Saviour. The greatness and difficulty of the missionary enterprise presented themselves to me with a painful vividness, and but for the conviction that the work was of God, and that my long-cherished desire to enter on it and the gratification of my desire in my appointment to Benares had come from Him, I should have been ready to retrace my steps. Yet here I was, worshipping with a few persons who had been idolaters, and one of whom at least had made great sacrifices when he had avowed his faith in Jesus. Why should we despise the day of small things? Forty-four years have elapsed since that, to me, memorable 31st of March, 1839, and I can now realize myself sitting with Messrs. Buyers and Lyon in front of that humble pulpit, while Mr. Shurman preached, and remember, as if it were yesterday, the strange feelings that thrilled me that afternoon.


I had to make no arrangement for my accommodation on reaching Benares. Previous to my arrival it had been arranged that I was to take up my abode with my dear friends, Mr. and Mrs. Lyon. I was at once at home with them, for Mr. Lyon had been my fellow-student at Glasgow, and Mrs. Lyon was the member of a family with whom I had been intimately acquainted while studying at Edinburgh. Within a few days of my arrival I was introduced to the missionaries of the Church Missionary Society, and to a few European residents who took an interest in missionary work.



FROM 1816 TO 1839.

It may be well to give, before proceeding further, a brief account of what had been done for the evangelization of Benares up to that time.

Our Baptist brethren were first in the field. All who have read the biography of the illustrious trio of Serampore are aware that they formed, and with ardent zeal and untiring energy prosecuted, great schemes for the evangelization of the millions to whose spiritual good they had consecrated their lives. The translation of the Scriptures into the languages of India was their special service, but it was far from standing alone. They were fully alive to the importance of preparing and sending out men of God to go among the people, and make known to them Jesus as the Saviour of the world. They gladly availed themselves of Europeans, Eurasians, and natives, who seemed qualified for the work by Christian character, zeal for the conversion of the people, and aptness to teach, though, with few exceptions, destitute of any considerable measure of mental culture. Some of these agents had force of character and native talent, and much good and useful work was accomplished by them. One of their number was Mr. Bowley, who afterwards joined the Church Mission, and was for many years located at Chunar. He translated the entire Scriptures into Hindee, and did beside much excellent literary work in the translation and composition of books and tracts. As he had no knowledge of Greek and Hebrew, his translation of the Bible has marked defects, though from his knowledge of Hindee and his good judgment it has also marked excellences. His translation of the New Testament is now largely superseded, but his translation of the Old Testament is the only one yet possessed. The style of his smaller works in Hindustanee, or Urdu, as it is commonly called, is remarkably idiomatic and pleasing.


Missionary work was commenced in Benares by Mr. William Smith, who was sent to it by the Serampore missionaries in 1816. I have already mentioned him as having welcomed me on my arrival. He secured a house for himself at Raj Ghat, the northern boundary of the city, with a crowded population around him, and there till his death he lived with his family, during all the period diligently prosecuting his missionary work. He had been a drummer in the native army, spoke the Hindustanee as his mother tongue, and belonged to the large class who, having European blood in their veins, are professing Christians, but as to their ordinary habits of life are more native than European. Mr. Smith was a man of limited education and of little talent, but of sterling excellence, and secured the respect and love of all classes of the native community by his kindly and consistent life. For years before his death there was in his house the strange spectacle of five generations, and his great-great-grandmother was heard by a friend of mine murmuring, "It looks as if God had forgotten to take me away." Mrs. Smith, who was, I believe, a pure native, was a woman of remarkable energy, and exercised a powerful influence for good on all connected with her. Owing to the unhappy controversy between the Serampore missionaries and the Baptist Missionary Society, and the separation in which it ended, Mr. Smith was left for a time without any salary; but by the establishment of a Eurasian boarding-school his wants were fully supplied. On to old age he moved about among the people, conversing with them, going to their great religious gatherings and distributing tracts and portions of the Scriptures in a very quiet, unostentatious manner, and succeeded, by God's blessing, in bringing a few into the fold of Christ.


Among the pioneers of modern missionary work in India the late Bishop Corrie, of Madras, has a high and honoured name. He was one of the small band of Government chaplains who gave themselves heart and soul to the work of diffusing the gospel among the native population. Henry Martyn is the best known of this band, and with him men like Brown, Thomason, and Corrie deserve to be held in everlasting remembrance. Mr. Corrie was, in 1817, the chaplain of the European community in Benares. Previous to that time a rich native, Rajah Jay Narayan, had established and endowed a school in the part of the city inhabited chiefly by Bengalees. This Rajah formed so high an opinion of Mr. Corrie, and of his ability to carry on the school efficiently, that he asked him to undertake its management. Mr. Corrie accepted the offer in the name of the Church Missionary Society, whose sanction to the measure he had obtained, and to it the school was made over by formal deed of gift in 1818. Under the name of Jay Narayan's School, and afterwards of Jay Narayan's College, it has continued down to our day; and it has done much for the education, on Christian principles, of successive generations of Benares youth. A Mr. Adlington was the first head-master, and a short time afterwards a missionary was sent. He was succeeded by others, but owing to their failure of health little was done on to the fourth decade of the century, except the securing of suitable ground and the erection of mission-houses at Segra, in the immediate suburbs of the city on its southwestern side. This place had formerly been noted for the thieves and thugs that infested it. In 1839 the two missionaries at Segra were the Rev. William Smith and the Rev. C. B. Leupolt. Mr. Smith reached India in 1830, and after spending fifteen months in Goruckpore, on the borders of Nepal, was transferred to Benares in 1832. He was joined by Messrs. Knorpp and Leupolt in 1833. The two Church missionaries in Benares in 1839, Messrs. Smith and Leupolt, laboured for many years afterwards with singular devotedness for the spiritual good of the people. As it is invidious to make comparisons, I will not say that they were foremost in the first rank; but all who knew them will bear me out in saying they attained a high place in the first rank of the missionary band.


The Rev. Matthew Thomson Adam was appointed by the London Missionary Society to Benares in October 1819, and reached his destination in August, 1820. He remained at his post till 1830, when he returned to England, and resigned his connection with the Society. He afterwards went to the United States, where he undertook a pastorate. Mr. Adam was a scholarly and diligent man. He prepared and published a Hindee Grammar, an English and Hindee Dictionary, and some tracts. He secured a site for a mission-house on the border of cantonment towards the city, and erected on it a commodious and substantial structure; and since his day a church, a school-house for girls, and houses for native Christians, have been erected in the mission compound. He also secured a very central site in cantonments for a place of worship for holding English services, and by the liberal help of the English military and civil residents erected on it a building which was called Union Chapel. His services among our countrymen seem to have been greatly valued, but owing to a change in the personnel of the station, a change which is going on incessantly in India, the congregation fell off, Union Chapel was sold, and the money realized by the sale was spent on the erection of a chapel in the city, on a site obtained with great difficulty. Mr. Adam left Benares before this building, erected with a view to native services, could be turned to account. In a brief record of his labours drawn up by himself, he says that he deemed it a high honour to live near such a city, and to testify to his Master by pressing His claims on individuals with whom he had an opportunity of conversing; but he did not think it advisable to attempt the preaching of the gospel in places of public resort. He was at times encouraged by the prospect of persons becoming the followers of Christ, but in every case his hopes were disappointed. No native was baptized by him.

The London Mission of Benares was reinforced in 1826 by the arrival of the Rev. James Robertson. He was a man of linguistic talent, and was full of plans for setting up the standard of the Cross and assailing the idolatry around him. He opened a number of schools in various parts of the city, and organized a system of Bible-reading in the streets. Seven men, chosen from among Hindus, whose sole qualification was ability to read, were appointed to read daily in different parts of the city our Scriptures without note or comment. We have no doubt they took care to tell their hearers that they did their work to please the sahib, and get his pay, but had no intention of accepting the new teaching, and had no wish that others should do so. No other missionary has followed this plan. Mr. Robertson left behind him in MS. translations into Urdu of a part of the Old Testament, which were carefully examined and partly used by Mr. Shurman; but the style was too difficult for any except those who were well acquainted with the Persian language.

The Rev. William Buyers joined the Mission at the beginning of 1832, and Mr. Robertson was carried off by cholera fifteen months afterwards, in his thirty-fourth year. Mr. Buyers was thus left alone, but early in 1834 he was joined by the Rev. J. A. Shurman and the Rev. Robert C. Mather. In 1838 the Rev. W. P. Lyon arrived at Benares, and that year Mr. Mather went to the great commercial Mirzapore, where he established, and for many years afterwards conducted with great efficiency, a very important mission. When I reached Benares I was thus the fourth on its staff, and the seventh from its commencement.

Much good work had been done by the brethren with whom I was to be associated. They had established schools for primary education, but owing to the want of funds all but one had been given up by 1839. They had taken part in preparing tracts and revising the translation of the New Testament in Urdu. A place of worship had been erected, and a few orphans had been gathered. Evangelistic work was being actively prosecuted in the city.

A short time previous to 1839 the Church Mission had undertaken a very benevolent and a very difficult work. In 1837 the North-Western Provinces were desolated by famine. Many thousands perished, everywhere miserable boys and girls were to be seen who had become orphans, or who had been abandoned by their parents. At this terrible crisis missions came forward with the offer of adopting these forsaken children. Fifty were made over to the Church Mission at Benares, and afterwards many more were added to this number. Suitable buildings were speedily erected for their accommodation, and arrangements were made for their education and support. These children were so emaciated that many died within a few days of their being brought to the mission. At the close of 1838 an excellent missionary and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Knorpp, were carried off by a low fever which attacked them while attending to their charge. By the hot weather of 1839 the health of the orphans had greatly improved, and everything was being done which could be done for their temporal and spiritual welfare.

By the time of my arrival, the missionaries of the Church and London Missionary Societies—Mr. Lyon excepted, who had arrived only the preceding year—had fully entered on their work. They had been from seven to five years at their posts, had acquired a good knowledge of the native languages, had all the vigour and hopefulness of early middle life, and were giving themselves zealously to the prosecution of the great work for which they had gone to India.



A stranger passing hurriedly through a country may carry away impressions about its climate, products, and people, which residence for a considerable time would not merely modify but reverse. There are some things of which he can speak with some confidence. The great natural features of a country, its mountains and plains and rivers, do not undergo any marked change, and these may be truly described by the casual visitor. The general aspect of a people, their houses, dress, and look, remain much the same, and of these an accurate observer may give a trustworthy account; but if from what he himself has seen and heard he attempts to give a general estimate of the character of the people and of the state of the country, he is almost sure to fall into great mistakes.

Within the last few years India has become a favourite field for travellers who can without inconvenience spend a few hundred pounds, and be absent from home three or four months. Swift steamers take them quickly to and from Bombay, and railways carry them in a short time from one end of India to the other. They travel at the season when travelling is delightful, and thus see the different countries of that great region in their most attractive form. If they infer what they do not see from what they see, they are sure to make statements utterly discordant with fact. Mr. Wilson, who was sent out to India to put its finances into order after the Mutiny, travelled through the North-Western Provinces in the cold weather, when the country was covered with abundant crops, and was delighted with all he saw. He declared it was the finest country he had ever seen. He returned to Calcutta as the hot weather was setting in, and died in the succeeding rainy season. It is said that some time before his death he pronounced the climate to be the most detestable on the face of the globe. Dr. Norman McLeod was our guest for a very short time in Benares, as he was prosecuting his Indian journey. When driving about on a fine balmy morning, he said, in his genial fashion, "You missionaries often complain of your climate; I only wish we in Scotland had a climate like this." To which I replied, "Ah, doctor, kindly stop with us through our coming seasons; prolong your stay till next November, and then you will be able to speak with authority." The worthy doctor did not take my counsel. His death some time afterwards was attributed to his Indian tour; but if it left in him the seed of disease, the blame rests not on the climate, but on the excessive fatigue caused by overmuch travelling and work.

The case of a person who has lived through a whole year in a country, and has during that period moved among the people, is very different from that of the passing stranger. He knows the climate as a traveller for a few weeks or even months cannot. The seasons during that year may have been more or less abnormal, and yet the resident cannot fail to have obtained that knowledge which enables him to form a notion of what he has in the main to expect every year. He gets a glimpse into the character and peculiarities of the different classes of the population, both native and foreign. He may know little of the language of the country; but if he has an observing mind, and moves freely about, he is constantly receiving information about the people in a degree which he himself does not always realize. If his residence be prolonged for many years, as he looks back to his first year, and remembers its experience, he finds that his views have been greatly enlarged, on many points greatly modified; he is sure that his knowledge is much more accurate and mature; but there is scarcely any subject on which he finds his views entirely reversed.


This, at least, has been my experience. I have a vivid remembrance of my first year in Benares—a much more vivid remembrance than I have of subsequent years, and it would be strange if I did not find that my views on many Indian subjects have been greatly modified, and on all much enlarged; but I do not discover that on any subject there has been a complete reversal.

I have already mentioned that on my voyage from Calcutta to Benares I spent much of my time in the study of the Hindustanee language, commonly called Urdu. Within a week of my arrival I gave myself to it with all the application of which I was capable. I had as my teacher a munshee, who had been long employed by the missionaries of our Society, but who could not speak a sentence in English, though he knew the Roman character well. I was told that his ignorance of English would prove an advantage, as I should on this account be obliged to speak to him, in however broken and limping a fashion, in the language which it was indispensable for me to acquire. We had before us an English and Hindustanee Dictionary, a Hindustanee and English Dictionary, a Hindustanee Grammar, and a book of easy sentences in both languages in the Roman character. At first my teacher and myself had to put things into many forms before reaching mutual intelligibility; but gradually our work became easier, and when two or three months had passed we fairly understood each other—I trying to express myself in Hindustanee, and he performing the much-needed work of correcting my words and idiom. I commenced with a portion of the New Testament, and soon got into some of the classics of the language. The use of the Roman character in the writing of Indian languages had been strongly advocated by Sir Charles Trevelyan, by Dr. Duff, and other men of mark, and was accepted by the majority of the missionaries. Portions of the Scriptures and other books were printed in it. Like all young missionaries, I learned the Persian and Nagree characters, in which the languages of Northern India had always previously been written; but the Roman character was very convenient, and I regretted afterwards I used it so much.

This study of the language was felt to be a foremost duty, and was prosecuted from day to day. This went on for months with little interruption, except what was caused by the serious and continued illness of Mrs. Lyon, which, to the great regret of all their friends, led before the end of the year to the departure of Mr. and Mrs. L. for Europe.

In the seventh or eighth month of my residence at Benares I wrote a short sermon in Hindustanee on John i. 29, and read it at the native service. Within a year I took my part regularly at that service, first using my manuscript, and then extemporizing as I best could.

I must confess I regarded my new linguistic acquisition with much more complacency at the end of my first year than at the end of my fifth or sixth. On my way to Benares, as I have already mentioned, I spent a few hours very pleasantly with Mr. Leslie, the Baptist missionary at Monghyr. I mentioned to him that my friend Mr. Lyon had learned the language, and was preaching in it. Looking me full in the face, he said, to my surprise and chagrin, "Depend on it, Mr. Lyon may use the words of the language, but no one can be said to acquire it in a year." I thought this a hard saying, but years afterwards I was forced to feel its truth. I had in a year got such a glimpse into the Hindustanee and Hindee languages as to have some conceptions of their nature, to know their tone, and to bring them into partial use; but I had a very limited notion of their nice distinctions, their peculiar idioms, and their vast vocabulary. I cannot say that the opinion on this subject I formed in my first year was entirely reversed by my after experience, but it was largely modified.


While studying the native language, I felt myself studying the native character as well. My teacher was very patient, correcting my mistakes—mistakes, I must confess, often repeated—without allowing even the slightest surprise to appear in his countenance. He did not smile at blunders at which, when I knew better, I myself heartily laughed. When I showed the slightest impatience at being checked he at once allowed me to go on as I liked, though, as I afterwards knew, I needed to be corrected. He was loud in praise of my progress, declaring that I would soon surpass all my predecessors. In my intercourse with him I had illustrations of the patience, the courtesy, and also the flattering, cozening character of the people, when dealing with those by whom they think they can be benefited. The impressions of native character thus obtained were amply affirmed by the experience of after years.

This munshee was well acquainted with our Scriptures. He belonged to the Writer caste, and had from his early years been in contact with Europeans. He was ready for conversation on religious subjects, and had much to say in favour of the philosophical notions which underlie Hinduism. Three or four years afterwards he seemed to awake all at once to the claims of Christ as the Saviour of the world, and under this impulse he openly appeared in a native newspaper as the assailant of Hinduism and the advocate of Christianity, which led to the hope that he was to avow himself, by baptism, a follower of the Lord. But he became alarmed at what he had done; he could not bear the reproaches of his friends, and he fell back into the ranks of his people. Though he had ceased to be my teacher I had opportunities of seeing him, and I tried to speak to his conscience, to his conviction of the Divine origin of the gospel. The last time I spoke to him he said, with marked emphasis, "There is no use in speaking to me. Let Hinduism be false or true, I am determined to live and die in it as my fathers have done!" His case was that of many with whom every Indian missionary is brought into contact.

During this year I was introduced into the methods in which evangelistic work was conducted. In addition to attending the services of the Lord's Day, I went now and then with my brethren to the city. We had at that time two little chapels in good positions, at the doors of which the people were first addressed, and were then invited to enter that they might hear the new teaching more fully expounded. There was, of course, nothing of the staidness or quietness of a Christian congregation. The speaker was often interrupted; questions, sometimes very irrelevant questions, were asked; and the people came and went, so that those who were present at the commencement were seldom present at the close. During the year I saw the principal places in Benares—its main streets and markets, its temples and mosques; and thus formed some idea of the great city, where for many years afterwards it was my privilege to labour in the gospel of Christ.


The work of the missionary in Northern India would be greatly simplified if he had to learn only one language. He has to learn the two I have named, the Hindustanee and the Hindee. The Hindustanee arose from intercourse between the Muhammadan invaders and the people they had subdued. It is written in the Persian or Arabic character, and draws its vocabulary mainly from the Persian and Arabic languages. It is the language of law, of commerce, and of ordinary life to many millions. The Hindee in its various dialects, some of which almost rise to the dignity of languages, is the vernacular of the vast Hindu population of North-Western India. It rests mainly on the Sanscrit, and is written in the Sanscrit or Deonagree character. In some of the most popular books the languages are so strangely combined that it is impossible to give any definite name to the language used. An acquaintance with these languages is indispensable to missionary efficiency in Northern India, but it is very difficult to attain marked excellence in both.



A very brief residence at Benares led me to see the great difference between the society to which I had come and that which I had left. The European community formed a mere handful of the population, and was almost exclusively formed of officials, with all the peculiarities of a class privileged by office. We had some two hundred European artillerymen with their officers, of a regiment paid and controlled by the East India Company; three native regiments officered by Europeans; three or four members of the Civil Service, charged with the administration of the city and district; one English merchant, and two or three English shopkeepers. I now learned for the first time the difference in rank between Queen's and Company's military officers. The Queen's officer regarded himself as of a higher grade. Members of the Civil Service and Company's officers met on terms of social equality; but the Civilians looked on themselves as of a higher order, as the aristocracy of the land, and the assumed superiority put a strain to some degree on social intercourse. The persons sent out from this country for the administration of India are called Covenanted Civilians, as they bear a commission from the Queen; while those engaged for administrative work by the Indian Government are called Uncovenanted. The former class continue to have a great official advantage over the latter; but forty years ago there was a great social inequality which has in a measure ceased, where these uncovenanted servants are English gentlemen, as they often are. English merchants were regarded as in society; but shopkeepers, however large their establishment, were deemed entirely outside the pale, except for strictly business purposes. This was partly accounted for by European shopkeepers having been previously stewards of ships, or soldiers who had received their discharge. Missionaries were looked on as sufficiently in society to be admissible everywhere, and were treated courteously by their European brethren when they met, though only a few desired their intercourse.


As to the people of the land, both Hindu and Muhammadan, I discerned at once, what I might have fully anticipated, that between them and us there was a national, social, and religious gulf. Some were in our houses as servants. We had to do with them in various ways; we could not go out without seeing them on every side. There was on the part of many a courteous bearing towards each other; there was in many cases a kindly feeling; but the barriers which separated us could not be for any length of time forgotten. I speedily saw that some Europeans looked with contempt on the natives, as essentially of a lower order in creation; but the better class of Europeans, the higher in position and education, as a rule, regarded them with respect, and treated them not only with justice but with kindness. Native servants received as kind treatment as servants do in well-conducted families in our own country, and in many cases repaid this kindness by devoted attachment and the efficient discharge of the work entrusted to them. When native gentlemen came in contact with Europeans of the higher class, all the honour was accorded to them to which by their position they were entitled. Even in this case there were national and religious differences, which effectually prevented the intimacy which is often maintained where such differences do not exist.

[Sidenote: EURASIANS.]

Within the first year I got an insight into a large and growing class, who were connected with both Europeans and natives, and yet did not belong to either. I refer to persons of mixed blood; some almost as dark, in many cases altogether as dark, as ordinary natives—many of these being descendants of Portuguese; others, again, so fair that their Indian blood is scarcely observed; some in the lowest grade of society, very poor and very ignorant; and others, with many intermediate links, most respectable members of the community in character, knowledge, position, and means. All these, whatever may be their rank, are Christians by profession, and they dress so far as they can after the European fashion; but the poorer class, in food and accommodation live very much as natives do, and mainly speak the native language. The people of mixed blood are called by different names—Eurasians, East Indians, and not infrequently by a name to which they most rightly object, Half-caste.

I was surprised and sorry to observe the feeling with which many Europeans regarded this class. They were looked down upon as of an inferior grade, who, whatever might be their character or position, were not entitled to rank with Europeans. In the dislike of natives shown by some Europeans there was something to remind one of the American feeling in regard to colour, though of a much milder type; but I was not prepared for the degree in which the feeling prevailed in reference to Eurasians, though I might have been had I remembered that the slightest tinge of African blood, a tinge to many eyes not perceptible, had been considered in America a fatal taint. I speedily observed the effect the feeling had on Eurasians in producing an unpleasant sensitiveness, and impairing the confidence and respect indispensable to social intercourse.

Since that time I have understood the causes of this feeling much better than I could have then done. The most candid and thoughtful of the class will allow that as a community they labour under great disadvantages. Though they have native blood in their veins they are entirely separate from natives in those things to which natives attach the highest value; and though by the profession of Christianity, by the adoption of European habits so far as circumstances allow, and by the use of the English language, they draw to Europeans, yet they are forced to feel they do not belong to them. They occupy an awkward middle position, and the knowledge that they do leads to unpleasant grating. Then they have not had the bracing which comes from residence in a Christian land. Though proud of their Christian name and profession, they have been injuriously affected by the moral atmosphere of their surroundings. The lower their social position, the closer has been their connection with the lower class of natives, and the more hurtful have been the influences under which they have come. Eurasians are noted for their excellent penmanship, and a great number from generation to generation have found employment in Government offices, the greater number as mere copyists, but a few as confidential clerks and accountants, whose services have been highly appreciated by their official superiors. A considerable number have risen to important offices in the administration of the country. An increasing number are able to take their place in every respect abreast of their European brethren. Individuals have gone to England, and have succeeded in getting by competition into the Covenanted Civil Service. The class has been steadily growing for years in intelligence and character; and as the members of their families are enjoying educational advantages to a greater extent than at any previous period, there is every reason to hope progress in the future will be still more rapid than in the past. The distinction between them and persons of pure European blood will thus become less and less a barrier to social intercourse; they will be delivered from the unpleasantness the barrier has often caused, their character will grow in strength, and they will become increasingly fitted for exerting a happy influence on the native community. In the case of individuals the distinction is now practically ignored. There are no more honoured and honourable persons in India than some who belong to this class. There have always been devoted Christians among them, and of late years an increasing number have come under the power of Divine grace.

It has been often remarked that one of the most pleasing traits of native society is reproduced among Eurasians—the tie of kinship prompting those who are in better circumstances to help their needy relatives, often to the giving of large pecuniary aid, not unfrequently to the taking of them into their houses. In the humbler portions of the community there is often seen a patriarchal household like that so often seen in native society.


The new-comer's experience of climate prepares him for what he has to expect during his future residence. We have three marked seasons in the North-Western Provinces, the one melting gradually into the other—the hot season beginning in March and ending in June, the rainy season beginning with July and ending in October, and the cold weather beginning with November and ending in February. The seasons may thus be described in a general way, but in fact every year differs somewhat from others, as they do in our own country. The hot weather is sensibly felt before March begins, and the heat of March is far less than that of the succeeding months. The first burst of the rains is often before the middle of June, but after that burst, called the "little rainy season," it is not uncommon to have a spell of very hot sunny weather. In some years, indeed, there is so much weather of this kind during what is called the rainy season, that the heat is most intense, and the crops are burnt up. Towards the end of September there is commonly the last great outpour of rain, and as October advances there is the cooling freshness of the approaching cold weather, with enough of heat in the day-time to tell us it has not quite let go its grasp. December and January are our coldest months. In England, after an unpropitious summer, the remark is often made, "We have had no summer!" and in the same manner in India, when the temperature has been high in the cold season, and we have not had the expected bracing, we say, "We have had no winter!" Yet as in our own country, so in India; we have our marked seasons, though we cannot be sure of the weather at any particular period.

As India is an immense region, a great continent, with every variety of scenery, with plains extending hundreds of miles, and vast stretches of forests, with table-lands and lofty mountains, with land of every description from barren sand to the richest alluvial soil, the climate and products of its different countries are so different, that the statements made about one region, however correct, when applied to the whole are utterly misleading. I have been describing the seasons of the North-Western Provinces; and yet, as Benares is in the lower part of these provinces, its climate is considerably different from that of the country farther north and west. The farther north we travel the longer and colder is the cold season, and as a rule the hotter and briefer is the hot season. On one occasion the heat was so great in Benares in March that we found the night punkah pleasant; but on reaching Delhi, nearly six hundred miles distant, a few days afterwards, instead of seeking a night punkah we were thankful to have blankets to keep ourselves warm.

[Sidenote: THE HOT SEASON.]

I have a vivid recollection of my experiences of the climate during my first year. During our voyage on the Ganges the heat during the day was like that of a cloudless July in England, and at night it was pleasantly cool, the wood of the flat speedily giving off the heat it had taken in during the day, and the flow of the river contributing to our comfort. Reaching Benares as April was setting in, I speedily felt I was getting into the experience of an Indian hot season. The doors were opened before dawn to let in whatever coolness might come with the morning, and before eight they were shut to keep out the heat of the day. The lower part of the door was of wood, and the upper part of glass. Outside the doors were heavy wooden blinds, made after the fashion of Venetian blinds, the upper part of which were opened to let in from the verandah the degree of light absolutely necessary with the least possible degree of heat. No prisoner in his cell is more excluded from an outside view than we were in our rooms during the day in the hot season. There was a remarkable contrast between the outside glare and the inside dimness, so that a person coming from without could not on entering see anything. The prevailing wind is from the west. There is enough in the morning to show the direction from which it is coming. It rises as the day advances; by two or three it blows with great strength, raising clouds of dust, and lulls towards evening. This wind is cool and bracing in the cold weather, but as the season advances it becomes warm, and by May its heat resembles the blast of a furnace. It every now and then gives place to the east wind, which is not nearly so hot, but is so enervating that the hot wind is greatly preferred. During the day we sit under the punkah, a great wooden fan suspended from the roof with great flapping fringes. This is pulled by a coolie, sometimes in the adjoining room, but when it can be arranged in the verandah outside, who has in his hand a rope attached to the punkah, which is brought to him by a small aperture in the wall, through which a piece of thin bamboo is inserted to make the friction as little as possible. When the west wind is blowing freshly, it is brought with most pleasant coolness into the house through platted screens of scented grass, on which water is continually thrown outside. For years machines resembling the fanners so much used by farmers in former days, with scented grass on each side and a hut of scented grass over them, on which water is continually thrown, with wheels turned round by hand labour, have been brought largely into use. These machines are appropriately called "Thermantidotes."

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