« AnteriorContinuar »
THE present volume is presented to the world with much diffidence, as it can lay no claim whatever to depth of thought, and but little to originality of illustration. The writer set sail for the island of Ceylon, as a Wesleyan Missionary, in the early part of the year 1825; and having received permission to visit England, from the committee of the society to which he has the honor to belong, he returned by what is called the overland passage, —the extra expense above the sum usually granted to missionaries returning from the East being defrayed from his own resources. It was hoped that in this route more frequent opportunities of usefulness would present themselves, and that some information might be gained that would be interesting to those engaged in the great work of evangelizing the world. He endeavored to remember, in all places, that he was commissioned from on high to preach the gospel to every creature; and he was therefore desirous to embrace every possible opportunity of making known “the unsearchable riches of Christ,” either by the distribution of tracts, or by familiar conversations with the people. He kept a journal of his travels for the use
Brook House, near Bradford, Yorkshire, Dec. 19, 1834.
of his own personal friends, from which the present publication derives its origin. The descriptions and reflections are principally in the exact form in which they appear in the notices kept during his actual wanderings, written many times under most unfavorable circumstances; and a few historical remarks have since been inserted in different parts of the work, as it was supposed, from the humility of its pretensions, that its circulation would be chiefly confined to a class of persons who have few other means of acquiring information on the subjects embraced in these pages.
The publication has been delayed some time since the completion of the MS. from circumstances with which it is unnecessary to trouble the reader. e
It is the principal aim of the writer to illustrate the Bible; and if by this work one doubt of the unbeliever be removed, or one ray of light be shed upon any passage hitherto thought obscure; if one mind be brought to understand the blessed Book more perfectly, or one heart be brought to love it with greater sincerity, to the living God shall be all the praise.
In ancient times the pilgrini from the Holy Land was regarded with a reverence bordering upon superstition. He was welcome alike to the castles of the great, and the cottages of the poor. When the aged minstrel, with his harp and voice, had recited the story of some virtuous female or warrior brave, the excitement was continued by the palmer's tale, as the members of the family, from the highest to the lowest, assembled before the blazing fagot, at a greater or less distance from its cheering influence according to their rank; and bright eyes wept over the history of sufferings
endured upon spots that had been consecrated b the bodily presence of the Son of God. The J. lage green was at another time forsaken by its noisy occupants, when the pilgrim rested for a moment upon his staff, and was surrounded by a rude auditory, who gazed with mute astonishment upon his mysterious figure, whilst he repeated the tale of victories won by red-cross knights over pagan usurpers, and solicited the aid of charity, afforded with the greatest readiness to the wearied stranger. The times are now changed, and the simple tale of the traveller, no matter where he may have wandered, fails to excite attention, unless there be combined with it the discoveries of science, or the flashes of a vivid imagination, or the recital of dangers and deaths. I shall in these respects be pronounced one of the most unfortunate of travellers, having neither discovered a new pyramid, nor been wounded, nor robbed, nor made captive; and if the countries I have visited fail in themselves to create interest, I fear that my readers will soon pass me on from their gate, without Fo me even an equivalent to the pilgrim's re, though all he required was a pallet of straw on which to repose, and a loaf in his scrip to saI had always, from
tisfy the o of hunger. comparative infancy, a great desire to visit Jeru- |Th
salem, and do not now regret the toils I have endured to accomplish my wishes. I should otherwise have been for ever a stranger to thoughts and associations as interesting as they are pure, and if I can succeed in imparting to the minds of others, even a small portion of #. same saluta instruction, I shall consider that the greater tas of telling my toils to the world, will not have been undertaken entirely in vain. I embarked from Colombo, the capital of Ceylon, in a French ship, on the morning of Nov. 28, 1832, with feelings that are not to be described. The most important period of my life had been spent upon the shores I was then leavi I had studied the language of the people, examined their religion, and become intimately acquainted with
their manners and customs; I had lived where there were no other associates; labored among them as the servant of Christ; travelled extensively over their mountains and plains; and I had to thank God, that although the years spent among them were not without some trials, I had never spent one melancholy hour, though often in solitude, and had been most mercifully preserved from serious illness, though often exposed to the burning sun by day, and tainted air by night. We touched at several places upon the continent of . India, and upon the Malabar coast had evidence of the extent to which Roman Catholicism prevails among the people, as I counted at one time, with the help of a small telescope, no fewer than fourteen churches, all visible from the deck of the ship. In Bombay and its neighborhood I remained about a fortnight, and among other places visited the celebrated cave o of Kennery and Elephanta. On Thursday, Jan. 10, j'. for Kosseir in Egypt, in the Hugh Lindsay, a steamer belonging to the East India Company, commanded by Captain Wilson, accompanied by ten other passengers, on their return to England. The history of India might be considered as connected with that of the Scriptures, inasmuch as it was in this region the systems of idolatry, which it was one object of revelation to destroy, assumed a power more extensive, more awful, and more malignant than in any other part of the world: but as the name of India occurs only once in the Old Testament, and then incidentally, I shall resist the opportunity that so temptingly invites me to enlarge, and confine my observations within the proper limits. It was probably at first peopled by the descendants of Ham. The customs of the people alter not with the course of time, and many parts of the earlier books of the Bible are greatly elucidated by the common practices that are even now every day witnessed among the Hindoos. e l is said to have been introduced into India by the apostle Thomas, and the pretended place of his burial is still shown near Madras. The island of Ceylon is supposed by the Persians and Arabs to have been the site of Paradise, and is by them called Serendib. There is a mountain in the interior, rising more than 6000 feet above the level of the sea, on the summit of which is an indent not unlike the impression of a foot, said by the Buddhists to be that of Buddhu, and by the Mussulmans to be that of Adam. There are others who think that our venerable forefather was brought to this island after his expulsion from: Eden, . died upon the mountain that bears his name.—Bochart has endeavoured to prove that Ceylon is the Ophir of Scripture, celebrated for the finéness of its gold. To this place the ships of
Solomon traded. They sailed from Eziongeber upon the Red Sea, and returned after an absence of three years, laden with gold, precious stones, peacocks, apes, spices, ivory, and ebony. All these things are common products of the island, and at this day articles of export, except the first: it has diamonds and pearls, but the more precious metals are never found upon its shores.
THE name of this country occurs in the Scripture with less frequency than might have been expectcd from its contiguity to the Holy Land. This arises from its peculiar character, which is alone among the nations of the world. It was never united under one king, and in consequence never presented itself to the sacred historians, except in single and divided masses. Hence we find that in this the volume of inspiration is remarkably consistent with the truth; as we have individuals and tribes frequently introduced to our notice, without being led to form the least idea of consolidated empire. The distinctive form we give to Arabia arises, perhaps, principally from its geographical position, as the same language is spoken in t and Syria, and in both these countries are j'. tribes, deriving their origin from one common source. It extends 1500 miles from north to south, and 1200 miles from east to west. The population is taken at 12,000,000. Within the limits of Arabia we find Sinai, and the range of Seir, with the district of Horeb, the land of Midian, and the countries of Edom, Amalek, Seba, and Sheba. The most intense anxiety was manifested by the passengers in our steamer to gain the first sight of Arabia. We made the mountains near Kisseen point, on the south-eastern coast, Jan. 20; and as they form part of the region called “the Blessed,” we anticipated the sight of a land of surpassing beauty. In this we were disappointed, as all was sterility, and we could not discover the least sign of life, either vegetable or animal. The next day we anchored in the port of Macullah, to take in coals sent previously from England by way of Bombay. The town has a pleasing appearance from the sea, like one vast castle, with towers in every direction, from one of the highest of which the red flag of the false prophet was soon hoisted in our honor. The hills, of a red colour, barren, and broken into large flakes that seemed to threaten destruction to #. inhabitants beneath, rise immediately behind the houses, and are crowned with watch-towers. Those who wish to fall in love with an Arabian city, must be content to admire it from the distance, and leave the imagination to fill up all its interior charms. The houses, on a near approach, are found to be built of clay, or of bricks burnt in the sun, and carelessly plastered over with a preparation of lime. F. are some of them three or four stories high, with flat roofs and latticed windows. The streets are narrow and irregular, the common receptacles of every nuisance. The slave town is separated from the other, and is composed of miserable huts. The sheikh's house stands alone,
and near it is a small mosque. The bay is well sheltered during the winter monsoon, and affords ood anchorage close to the shore. There are a . native merchants from India resident here, and under a good government it might be made a place of considerable trade. We found two American whalers at anchor, that had put in, as we were told, for “vegetation.” The crews of both vessels belonged to temperance societies, and one of them had not had a single drop of spirits on board since they left their port, yet the men appeared to be in excellent health. Near the town we saw several encampments of Bedouins, with herds of camels, goats, and sheep. The camel is the principal beast of burden, and is here fed upon fish. We saw one horse, but not a single dog. We spent a day at some wells a few miles distant from the shore, on which the town is entirely dependent for water. It is conveyed in skins, sometimes upon the backs of the women, but more commonly upon asses and camels. The stream of water from which the wells are supplied runs down a ravine, in which a few date-trees are planted, upon patches of earth kept together by a parapet of stones. The date season is welcomed here with the same feelings that the harvest-home excites in other parts of the world. We could see some distance into the interior, but could discover ...; more than naked mountains, with a few trees an small villages in some of the valleys. The district is governed by an independent sheikh, extremely infirm, and both blind and deaf from old age, so that the affairs of the state are conducted by others, and the principal minister is a mean and avaricious parasite. The vessels that put in for trade are not unfrequently detained until a large present has been extorted for permission to depart. Wherever I went I was saluted with the cry of hakkim, doctor, with many imploring signs from the people, that I would enter their houses, and from that time until my last departure from a Mussulman shore, I might have been constantly occupied in listening to details of disease and prescribing remedies, had I known anything of the healing art. The men are armed with knives in their girdles, a sword, a spear, or matchlock, and a small round shield of rhinoceros' hide. The heir presumptive to the government came on board, quite a youth, and was as mean in his appearance as the rest. The women are close muffled up, with only two small apertures in their coarse veilThe slaves are principally Somaulies, from Africa. They leave only two tufts of hair on the crown of the head, of a brown shade, perhaps from some preparation used in their toilette. Their features are regular and agreeable, and their countenances manifest an elasticity of spirits that all the hardships of slavery are unable to depress. From Macullah the steamer coasted within sight of land, and entered the Red Sea through the straits of Bab-el-Mandeb, or Gate of Tears.-Many an Arab mariner has here called to his remembrance the fresh water and delicious dates of his native valley, and has wept when he thought that he might see them no more; and the same eyes have again wept, with still more copious streams, when he has returned from his voyage of years, and his bark has,again entered upon the sea that washes with its waves the very shore