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THE MUSEUM AT THE INDIA
The stranger, in visiting either the museum at the India House, or any other of the rumerous exhibitions of London, will do well to remember that his gratification is almost as dependent on his own mood of mind as on the things presented to his observation. Go into the country on a wet and dabbling day; and, though the cottage near the coppice be newly whitewashed, and the vine clinging around its walls burdened with grapes ; though the river pursue its meandering course, and the trees be clad with verdure, yet will you not feel disposed to regard the scene with pleasure. But when the sun is in the sky, you look on the same scene with gladness: the cottage, the trees, and the meandering river, are all regarded with enthusiastic delight. In like manner, a moody disposition renders every thing uninteresting, while a sunny mind gilds all on which it gazes. Oh for a more lively and enduring sense of God's goodness, that the sunshine of our hearts may be always visible!
Whatever be the spectacle that is exhibited, serious associations will ever, more or less,
present themselves to a serious observer. It is almost impossible for one who regards this life, lighted up as it may be with all the fairy lamps of varied enjoyments, as the mere vestibule of another—it is almost impossible for him to gaze on interesting objects, without regarding them in connexion with their influence on the eternal interests of man. He will admire with others the binding, the type, and the illustrations of a beautiful book; or the stately spire of a village · church ; and he will listen to a choir of melodious voices with delight; but something beyond this will be pressing on his thoughts : the volume will remind him of the book of life; the spire will lead him to the skies, to which it points; and while his ears drink in the sounds of earthly melody, he will associate them with the sweeter strains of heavenly harmony:
“ To him, the sun and stars on high,
The flowers that paint the field,
Divine instruction yield.
“ The creatures on his senses press,
As witnesses to prove
His providence and love.
“ Thus may we study nature's book,
To make us wise indeed!
At what they cannot read."
I have stood in front of the India House to
admire its handsome Ionic portico, and to gaze on the emblematic group of figures above, wherein George II., Britannia, and Liberty, Mercury, Navigation, and the Tritons, Commerce, Order, and Religion, Justice, Integrity, and Industry, are assembled. The “noble Thames,” first of British rivers, is portrayed on one side, and the “sacred Ganges” on the other; while Britannia occupies the most elevated part of the building, with Europe and Asia somewhat below. These things are disregarded by the good people of London; the stranger alone is seen to gaze upon them: and he, after an unsuccessfu m pt to decipher the symbolic group, hasta
de reet, to mount the steps, and to en l aortico.
The East India Company is a swerful. The words must have been as le to many a rich, worldly-minded nabob : "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God,” Matt. xix. 24.
I have walked through the court and courtroom, the new sale-room, and other apartments, as well as the varied offices of this extended edifice, and am now in the museum. I long for the luxury of a printed catalogue ; but no such thing is to be obtained.
The practice of hurrying the spectator from one thing to another as fast as the names of them can be run over, is very unpleasant, and
get it is altogether unavoidable so far as the attendant is concerned. The only comfortable way of proceeding is, to dispense with the attendance of the conductor ; to wander where you like, and linger where you will. Most of the curiosities here are labelled, therefore this plan is attended with little inconvenience.
Who, in a flower-garden, would go round every bed in regular succession? Why, it would take away the better half of the gratification. Sweeter far is it to roam and to revel at liberty; gazing on the gaudy tulip, the stately hollyhock, and the blushing rose ; and inhaling the grateful perfume of the honey-suckle, the sweet-brier, and the violet, without restriction. It is the same in a museum as in a garden, liberty is sweet ; and, therefore, I will find my way on the present occasion, taking the path that seems for the moment the most attractive.
But, first, let me ask what has given birth to this museum ? The time is not distant when Britain had no possession in India ; and now, wonderful to tell, a company of British merchants bear rule, either directly or by the influence of their allies, over a million square miles of territory, and more than a hundred millions of people. They have stretched the strong arm of power over a country seven or eight thousand miles distant from their own, and subjected the inhabitants to their control. The muscum principally
contains curiosities from this far distant land; natural and artificial productions, mingled with the spoils of warfare.
Here is the squatting, cross-legged Budha Gaudama, the object of worship with the Budhic sects of India ; and here are a score or two of household gods, as hideous as heathen hands could make them; and these miserable stocks and stones have received that adoration which is due to God alone. What is man without a knowledge: of God? Yea, what is he, even with that knowledge, unless restrained by Divine grace? While the heathen holds an idol in his hand, we may have one in our hearts. We may not bow down to the Indian Apollo, Krishna, nor mingle in the sanguinary rites of the infernal Kali. The obscenities of Seva and Mahadeva may be unknown to us, and the bacchanalian orgies required by the goddess Doorga may be unacknowledged and unpractised; but the leprosy of sin has spread among us, from the crown of the head to the sole of the foot, and the purifying waters of the Fountain opened for sin and uncleanness can. alone make us whole.
The capture of Seringapatam, the capital of the Mysore country, was an event of great importance to the India Company, and every relic which has been obtained of Tippoo Saib, the cruel tyrant who reigned there, is preserved with great care. There are many of his silken banners, decorated