Графични страници
PDF файл

ligion is false; that though there are occasional truths in the detail, the system is false.

This sentence being passed on a superstition, the investigation of its properties is reduced to a matter of curiosity only; and as such, that of the Hindoos may be highly interesing to inquisitive and philosophic men; just as the murderer Patch, when no longer regarded as a man, was said to have been, however, an admirable subject for dissection. The leading properties of this superstition are exceedingly conspicuous. First, it is the most marvellous system of priestcraft that the world ever saw, or the Spirit of darkness ever inspired. The Brahmins are every thing, and every thing is for the Brahmins. It is astonishing to see with what ingenuity and vigilance their interest has complicated itself with every thing existing or acting throughout the whole economy of society. All the large and palpable advantages they are privileged to seize rampant; but the policy of the system has also insinuated their monopoly and precedence into all the minutest circumstances ; a spider could not get into a narrower angle, an earwig could not edge into a closer crevice, than the craft of Brahminism is seen to do throughout every page of the Institutes of this superstition. It bears on every part of it the glaring evidence of having been framed, not for the benefit of mankind as a genus, but of the privileged class as a species.

Adverting to what may be called the theology of the system, no one denies, that a number of very abstracted and elevated ideas relating to a Deity, are found in the ancient books, whether these ideas had descended traditionally from the priinary communication of divine truth to our race, or had diverged so far toward the east from the revelation iinparted through Moses to the Jews. But it is also obvious, that the Indian writers had a very imperfect hold of these ideas, and tried in vain to fix them in a stability of definition, or prolong them through their speculations as the stamina of their doctrines. Immediately after a noble thought, there shall come a train of fantastic and puerile conceits, adapted to prove that the superior conceptions were not original in minds so little capable of habitually thinking up to their level. They had some notion of a Supreme Spirit; but this idea had a wonderfully slight influence to prevent or to dignify the dreams of mythology ; for their literature swarms with an infinity of gods or debtas, many of them of a ridiculous, and many of an insufferably odious description. This Vindicator is angry at Dr. Buchanan for asserting, that the Hindoos have " no moral gods." But the Doctor may assert it again, with indiminished confidence, and support himself with such an accumulation of evidence as no reader's disgust would let him go to the end of. There is not one of the divinities, of any notorious consequence, that is not competently stocked with vices, according to the sacred books of their adorers; and we wonder this new worshipper should not have been kept, by-the consciousness of his profound ignorance, from the folly of exposing himself so far as to adduce the Indian Triad, in refutation of Dr. B.'s assertion!

He talks, with delight, of the pious and moral allegory which is perfectly obvious and intelligible to him throughout the whole region of Hindoo mythology; and cites, as an example, Doorga fighting Mykassoor in the form of a buffalo, which means

-how is it possible it can mean any thing else!-that virtue wars with vice; which notable piece of instruction, he says, is exhibited in pictures in ever so many places in Calcutta, where vice is no doubt very much restrained by this palpable and formidable lesson, this “ speaking picture of good sense,” as he calls the disgusting and hideous figure of Doorga. True enough, much of the mythology was originally founded in allegory ; but boundless extravagancies of imagination have, in most cases, totally obscured the original meaning, and not one Hindoo in a hundred, that hears the stories, knows or cares any thing about the moral; by which neglect, indeed, he probably suffers very trifling loss in the article of religion.

But mythology enters but little into the “ religion" of a great proportion of the Hindoos ; for the lower order are very little more than mere worshippers of idols, and not a few of the unlearned part of even the Brahmins fail to carry their ideas beyond the idol, to which this writer pretends that even the most ignorant approach with no other view, than to aid their minds to raise their contemplations to “ celestial beings."

It is well known that excesses of indecency, of a grossness almost inconceivable, and certainly unutterable, are practised as rites of worship before some of the idols. The Vindicator, however, says,

Of the nature of the “ disgusting vices practised before these idols," I am entirely ignorant ; for though I have visited many temples of celebrity, in Bengal, Benares, Mutha, Canouge, and Hurduar, and a hundred places besides, yet I have never witnessed any exhibition at their shrines, that bore the appearance of indecency.' p. 100.

He may be perfectly sincere in this declaration, and yet have actually witnessed such vices; for there is a moral sense necessary, as well as the sense of seeing, to perceive fully the disgutsing quality of vice and indecency. He has probably seen in these hundred temples, very many times, the direct worship of the Lingam!!!-but it was not worth while, certainly it was not, to indulge any squeamish feelings of European moral taste. We could here fill many pages with loathsome descriptions, now on our table, of what it must have been inevitable for him sometimes to have seen ; and it cannot be for fear of hurting the moral sensibility which has been re. fined into Indian delicacy, that we forbear to insert them.

As to the morality of the Hindoo system, it would necessarily be of the most depraved character, if there were no other cause than the Casts. A large part of any moral code must relate to the interchange of equity among human beings; but what is to be the basis of such a code, when these human beings are assumed, or rather made, to be several dis. tinct races of creatures, who can scarcely have any principles of social justice in common,--and when every rule and precaution for the preservation of this distinction, operates to the exclusion of benevolence ? What will be the spirit of that morality, of which it is an express injunction on the Brahmin to despise the Sudra? Between the pride and contempt of the one, and the wretched degradation of the other, all kind affections, and all generous exercise of justice, are annihi: lated, Apart, however, from the Casts, the Hindoo morality defies all comparison for absurdity. The compressed view of it, in the Institutes of Menu, is extolled by this un. fortunate writer as the model of wisdom, and is most exactly deserving his praise ; for it is probably the most ridiculous and abominable'assemblage of absurdity and priestcraft that ever insulted the slaves of superstition in any age or country. But we have not left ourselves one page more to pursue the subject'at present. We intended to have made, in imitation of the Vindicator, considerable extracts from this book; and may possibly do it on some other occasion.. is sort .: Art. XI1. The Origin of Naval Architecture : a Discourse, accommo

dated to the General Fast. By Philopharos, Syo. pp. 52. Price 1s. 6d,

Matthews and Leigh. 1808. UNDER a mysterious and apparently whimsical title, we have here a

forcible appeal to the consciences and the fears of our countrymen, on the vices that dishonour their character, and the perils that menace their prosperity. The title refers to the building of Noah's ark, on the testimony of Heb. xi. 7; and the author inquires, with a reference to present times, “whảt was the moral condition of the human kind, at the astonishing crisis of The Deluge;" he then explains the special designation of The Ark, which he considers as a type of that refuge which is proclaimed to the lost, in the person of the Divine Redeemer; he after wards furaishes some excellent and important Lessons of piety and Chris. tian patriotism. The sentiments are of such a scriptural, exalted, and momentous bature, that we should be happy to think they could become popular, from the abilities of the writer, with the dignified and literary world. The glowing vehemence of his style is worthy of the occasion ;

I he lays bare the moral condition of the people without reserve, and justly traces its degeneracy, in a principal degree, to the vices of the great. He should not be severely rebuked, perhaps, for expatiating on the predominant gloom of the picture, to the neglect of those gleams of piety and beneficence which partially enliven it. It is remarkable that while the benevolent deplore the vices of the age, the vicious make a boast of its philanthropy : in such a habit it is not expedient to confirm them. po villainy-in the exercise of which they are not as cool, and as much at their ease, as in the politeness of their manners, and the elegance of their address ? What indeed is the art and mystery of fashionable life! To smile hypocrisy, whenever it suits your convenience or company : and, to be haughty, insolent and oppressive, when it does not : exceptis excipiendis. pp. 43,-46. Art. XIII, Stories of Old Daniel: or Tales of Wonder and Delight.

Without further comment, we subjoin a specimen of the pamphlet, of which the general principles and design are intitled to our warmest commendation. "; Are not they (the higher ratks) the people, that furnish your gaminghouses, that replenish your brothels, and that pour contempt on the primary sources of religious instruction, by their habitual desertion of public worship, and by their shameless profanation of the sabbath ? and, should the authorized Ministers of christianity be honest enough to reprove these disciples of Ahab for their scandalous misconduct, it might be at the peril of their property, and their peace! though they held out The Bible in one hand, and The royal Proclamation in the other! But, what care they for either ?

. . This, we are aware, will be called Fanaticism and Enthusiasm ! By whom? What a despicable mind must he have, who can be moved by the opinion of such characters! They would say of a John the Baptist, He is mad, and hath a devil !” of a Paul, “ Away with such a fellow from the earth !", and, of a greater than both, “ Crucify him!” These are the

plagues and pestilence, that poison the vital blood of the body politic; ; that contaminate every member of the republic; and that cast a dismal

gloom over any apparent prospect of the deliverance, for which we pray It would, therefore, be inconsistent with my own decided views of patriotic zeal, were I not to think, that, till these men become objects of universal ignominy, from a persuasion that nothing is really greut but what is truly good, our national situation, it is to be feared, will gradually decline, and the very name be eventually obliterated from the apnals of modern Europe. Nor does it require the spirit of prophecy, to foretell this frightful issue, while a House, which ought to be purity itself, is continually represented in the journals of the times, “ as a public auction of faith and principle ; a collection of vultures feeding upon the vitals of the State;" while the multiplicity of Oaths forms a complete system of perjury; while common Justice is out of the reach of the poer, and administered only in proportion to the fee that can purchase it; while the Temples of God are deserted, and your Theatres supported at an expence we cannot read without indignation. “ Shall I not visit for these things, saith the Lord? Therefore also now, thus saith the Lord, emend your ways and your doings, and obey.my voice."

• In an early stage of my existence, when the intellectual powers are not likely to suspect, or capable of penetrating the mask so generally worn, the pomp and consequence attached to the sound of, Gentlemen, misled me to conclude, that it must certainly involve in it the sublime of excellence! that it was the highest style of Christian ! Ah, how mistaken and deceived ! For, have we not lived long enough to learn, that there is no meanness-10 servility--- 10 treachery-10 duplicity marno barbarity

Vok, IV.

[ocr errors]

Svo. pp. 200. Price 3s. 60 bds. London: Printed for the Pro. prietors of the Juvenile Library, No. 41, Skinner Street, Snow-Hill.

1808. THOUGH it is extremely unusual for a publication of this kind to ap-'

pear without the name of the publisher, yet the reader is much more. concerned to know on what principles, than by what persons, the Juvenile Library in Skinner Street is conducted; he can have no interest in the one, but as an index to the other. If the current report be authentic, that the Manager of this establishment is no less a person than the celebrated Mr. William Godwin, we would frankly recommend that the name should be avowed. A much stronger suspicion will attach to the concealment, than to the avowal, of such a name. . The specimen of these publications intitled “ Stories of Old Daniel," is somewhat superior in ability and interest to the usual standard of tales for children. There is, however, scarcely an allusion to any religious principle in it, excepting two or three aukward pretences to this kind of merit. The morality is apparently founded on pride, instead of piety, and is consequently dangerous in essence, however salutary it may appear in tendency; the same tenderness indeed for reputation, which scorns a falsehood, will prompt to the commission of murder, if murder should happen to be fashionable. The most obvious and offensive feature of the work is, the profanation of the Sabbath, which it constantly recommends i in the most effectual form, that of uncensured and alluring example. It is of no importance to ascertain whether this gross impropriety was intro. duced intentionally, or through oversight; in either case, it is of dishoaourable origin, and mischievous tendency. Art. XIV. Obstacles to Success in the Religious Education of Children.

A Sermon, preached at the Rev. W. Wall's Meeting-House, Pavement, i Moorfields, at a Monthly Association of Ministers and Churches, Jan.

7, 1808. 8vo. pp. 34. Price ls. 6d. Maxwell and Wilson, &c. 1808. TT is impossible to obserye, without surprise and regret, how small a

proportion of the vacancies occasioned by death in many a flourishing Christian society, are filled up by the youth of its own pale ; and how frequent are che instances of deplorable degeneracy in the children of pious and exemplary parents. The selection of such a subject for public discus. sion, and the sensible manner in which it is here investigated, demand our cordial praise. Mr. Winter has rendered a valuable service to the religious world; and though from many readers his fidelity may meet with censure, or his exhortations with neglect, he will find an ample com. pensation, we doubt not, in the extensive utility of his labours, and in the gratitude of the pious and intelligent.

The question is plainly limited, 20 the preacher obseryes, “ to the

« ПредишнаНапред »