Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

At length this custom was regarded as a religious duty, as well as a political privilege, and it became so interwoven into Hindu society, and was looked upon as so sacred, that even caste had not a more powerful hold upon the native mind. And this was natural, for the very existence of a family, perhaps even of the royal line, depended on its observance. Every ruler, whether rajpoot, mogul, or governorgeneral, had hitherto preserved it inviolate. But in 1848, the company determined to overturn this ancient custom. The treasury being in an embarrassed condition, it was proposed to increase the revenue,—which is chiefly derived from a land tax,-by increasing the territory. At this juncture, the rajah of Sattara died, and that event was considered an opportune occasion for the inauguration of the new policy. This prince, having no son, bad on his death bed signified a young man as his successor. But the English, on pretence of informality, deposed his heir, seized his estates, and annexed them to their possessions. Instautly alarm spread throughout India. The same law of inheritance applied alike to' the private citizen as to the prince, and if government might violently wrest from the latter a province, why might not some avaricious officer snatch from the former his smaller estate? Fear ruled on every side. No one felt that his property was secure, and the rich man who was without a son, trennbled lest at any moment, by his death, his family should be deprived of their possessions, and left beggars. But government seemed perfectly blind to the effect produced, and this policy, though opposed to the judgment of the best statesmen of India, was steadily persevered in. Province after province was annexed, until, in 1854, Bahar was seized, and, as may well be supposed, the landholders were in a state of feverish excitement. Whose turn would come next, no one knew; certainly no one dreamed that the blow would fall on Oude. Hitherto the Moslems had escaped proscription, and from their antipathy to the Hindus had looked upon this policy with something of indifference. But when, in 1856, the country was startled by the annexation of that kingdom, an act even more flagitious than any of its prede

mon

cessors, they were roused to the most bitter hostility against the government. Every principle of good faith had been outraged; the most sacred treaties violated, and their finest province torn from them. Why should they not make com

cause with the Hindus against this, their common enemy? The excuse for this act was, that the native rulers so oppressed the people, that their sufferings were almost unendurable. How fallacious was this excuse will be apparent when we remember that the late king-however his predecessors may have conducted—had introduced great reforms, and had made every practicable effort to improve the condition of his people; that intelligent natives have asserted that nothing was so much to be deprecated as annexation, and that his rajahs offered to raise one hundred thousand men, at their own expense, to support his claim and resist the English. But even if there were great abuses, it is doubtful if the company's government was fitted to reform them. The English seem to have taken for granted what does not by any means appear evident, that the moment a state was brought under their control, the most glaring evils under which the people were suffering, ceased. But not only have we ample written testimony to the contrary, but we have been informed by eye-witnesses, that those natives from the interior, who had not felt the heel of foreign power, were decidedly more manly, smart, and independent, than those who had been under its immediate influence. But it may be said that only the rich were affected by this policy, and that the lower castes, at the least, viewed the matter with indifference. But the fact is, there was not a ryot, who wrapped his tattered cloth about his loins, ate his spoonful of rice, and performed his menial task, but discussed and condemned the policy. Officers have overheard them sometimes reasoning thus: If the King of Oude had broken the treaty as did the Sikhs, then the English would have been justified in conquering him and taking away his kingdom. But when he had been fair and honorable with them in all his dealings, what right had they to dispossess him ? As we have already remarked, the effect of this course was plainly manifest, in the revolt.

In the army, the forty thousand soldiers from Oude, whose petitions for redress had been neglected, and whose friends were deprived of some privilege or right, added this fuel to the fire of their hate. And throughout the Bengal Presidency, especially, the natives sympathized with them.

A glance at the future, and we have done. The great problem of the Hindu government can only be worked out by the slow process of laborious years. What will be the result, and what are all the best means for securing a right result, we do not profess to be able to tell. But this is certain, that for years to come, India must be controlled by the stern hand of an absolute despotismn, supported by a faithful army. The Hindus have always been so governed, and they know of no other form. Conciliation is to them a sign of weakness. And weakness is a fit opportunity for violence. But this does not suppose that the people are to be oppressed. On the contrary, they should be taught those lessons which will prepare them to govern themselves. While they must now be made to feel that no effort can shake off the control of the English, every lawful endeavor should be made to spread a Christianized intelligence and civilization among them. For to England is committed most emphatically the task of lifting up this degraded people, of pouring the light of truth into those benighted heathen minds, and of preparing India, now crushed and downtrodden, to rise and take her stand among the 'free and enlightened nations of the earth, a proud monument of saved humanity.

Article IV. DR. BUSHNELL'S SERMONS FOR THE NEW LIFE.*

Fifth

Sermons for the New Life. By Horace BUSHNELL.

edition. New York: Charles Scribner. 1859.

ONE of the most significant and cheering signs of the times is the increasing popularity of pulpit literature. What was formerly regarded as the most stale and unprofitable of all literary wares—a book of sermons—is now among the most popular and successful, if we may judge from the number of such books continually issuing from the press, and the increasing demand for them, as indicated by the number of editions which many have already reached. The fact that a single book of “Thoughts,” gathered from the extemporaneous Sabbath discourses of a living American preacher, has reached the unprecedented sale of thirty thousand in less than six months, while another contemporary on the other side of the ocean is preaching through the press to as many thousand readers in the United States, is a phenomenon not sufficiently explained by saying that the authors are eminent pulpit celebrities. These extreme cases are not so much exceptions as exanıples and foremost indicators of a general tendency in the literary and reading world, which itself requires explanation. The reason of this is not that the mental taste of the present age is more religious than that of former times,—or pot simply this—though something doubtless is to be attributed to the recent wide-spread revival of religious interest in our country, and the newly awakened hunger for spiritual food in thousands of minds hitherto content with the husks and trash of literature. Doubtless, too, there is a conscious or unconscious attraction of the popular mind towards religion and religious questions, as the real questions of life and of the age—an undercurrent setting that way, which literature and science and art, and the secular newspaper press all feel and manifest to some degree. Still the leading cause, we apprehend, lies not with the people but the pulpit, and the improved character of its productions.

* This Article was prepared for the February number, but in consequence of want of room, was deferred. This will account for the fact that it appears, in the order of time, after our review of Dr. Bushnell's latest work, “Nature and the Supernatural.” For the same reason we have deemed it advisable to omit an important part of the criticisms on the subject matter of these discourses, as they have already been in a measure anticipated.

Two reasons may be assigned for the circumstance in question. One is, the fact, full of significance, that more of genius is embodied in this kind of product than perhaps ever before. That superior quality of mind which draws other minds after it wherever it is found, which stamps its impress of power on whatever it touches or produces,-that luminous penetration of thought—"the vision and the faculty divine”-that wonderful gift of eloquence, which in other times and otherwise employed have made the philosopher, the poet, the forensic orator or romancer, have in these latter days found their way into the pulpit; have been consecrated to the higher, may we not say truer, work of preaching the gospel, and unfolding the riches, not of nature or art or the ideal world of imagination, but the unsearchable riches of Christ and redemption.

We would not by any means imply that this species of literature has hitherto been wholly destitute of this quality. The great names of Jeremy Taylor and Bishop Butler, of Barrow and Leighton, and Hall and Chalmers in England; of Fenelon, Bossuet, and Massillon in France; of Edwards and that constellation of theological lights which hang forever bright in the firmament of New England, forbid any such implication. And, yet, the fame and acknowledged power of these preachers have not been able to redeem the pulpit or pulpit literature from the too often deserved reputation of dullness and mediocrity. It has not secured for their own works readers much beyond the limited circle of the clergy, or at most, the clerisy, to adopt a word of Coleridge for the learned

a or educated classes. The impression has been fixed almost indelibly in the popular mind, that sermons, especially printed sermons, are dull and lifeless things, interesting only to

« ПредишнаНапред »