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INDIA, by its political and commercial relations to Great Britain, has justly become the object of anxious inquiry and speculation, both as regards its own interests, and as connected with the interests of our own country. But the solicitude with which India is viewed by the British public, in reference to its commercial and political importance, must yield in the mind of the Christian Philanthropist, to the deep feeling with which he contemplates the religious condition of so large and fair a portion of the British Empire. That there is a connexion between the political circumstances of a people and their religious interests, is as clear as is the fact that the God of providence is the God of all grace. And that India has been allotted to England in the distri
bution of power by Him who is the sole arbiter of human events, with the design that it might become a field as open as it is extensive for the propagation of the Gospel—cannot, for a moment, be doubted, by the enlightened and pious observer of the operations of Providence. The design of the Narrative now offered to the public, is to afford some information on the religious state of the people of the South of India, and to illustrate the difficulties and facilities experienced by those who are labouring for their conversion to Christianity—with a view to animate the religious public to increased exertions in behalf of the Hindoos, and thus to serve the cause in which it has been the Narrator's honour to be engaged, and which, he trusts, will ever be nearest his heart. Many facts, however, are incidentally stated, which cannot fail to interest the public, by their bearing upon the commerce and policy of that highly peopled region. The Journal of the Author, kept as a matter of official duty for the purpose of transmitting to the Society at home periodical information of the progress of the Mission, and without any ulterior view, has been the source from which the Narrative has been chiefly compiled. Had he ever contemplated a work like the present, his journal
might have been written with more copiousness of detail and particularity of description. The author does not profess to give a general account of the Wesleyan Mission to Continental India; but his work will, at least, form a record of some of the earliest efforts of Wesleyan Missionaries in that country, where, it may be confidently hoped, they are destined to share largely in the spiritual conquests which Christianity must ultimately achieve over Hindoo superstition and Mahommedan delusion. The indisposition which obliged the writer to return to England earlier than he had anticipated, compelled him also to arrive at home, (after eight years’ residence in a tropical climate,) in the midst of the severities of an English winter. The partial confinement within doors rendered advisable by such circumstances, has favoured the immediate publication of the first part of the work. The engagements of the ensuing months will delay the appearance of the remainder, and will afford opportunity for the execution of the additional sketches, some of which are adverted to in page 156. The names of several highly respected individuals resident in India, are introduced in the
following pages; if necessarily without their ex
press permission, it is hoped in a manner to which they will not feel any objection. An observation of Govinda Moodely, the Tamul Teacher at Bangalore, affords the author the best form of an apology for the style of his composition. When pressed to learn the English language, as the best means of gratifying his thirst for general knowledge, he used to say—That he never knew a man who paid attention to many languages, excel in any of them, and he therefore preferred to perfect his acquaintance with his own, rather than attempt the acquisition of any other.—It is not intended to defend the general application of this remark; but it may, perhaps, be admitted as an apology for the deficiencies of one who has passed some of the best years of his life in studying the peculiarities and idioms of foreign languages, rather than the powers and elegancies of his own.
Pendleton, near Manchester, 10th April, 1829.
Embarkation—Voyage—Touch at Ceylon–Thunder-storm —Burning of the Vessel—Escape of the passengers and crew.
IN November, 1819, I took an affectionate leave of my dear relatives and friends in Manchester, many of whom I was never again to see, and proceeded to London, to wait a convenient opportunity of embarking for Continental India; to which country, I had already been appointed a Missionary, by my honoured Fathers and Brethren, the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Committee.
The kind attentions shewn to myself, and to the Rev. James Mowat, my colleague, and Mrs. Mowat, by the official and private members and friends of the Society in London, during our stay, demand a grateful acknowledgment; and, in our peculiar circumstances, made an impression on our hearts never to be effaced.
After an unavoidable delay of some months, we embarked at Gravesend, on Friday the 19th of May, 1820, in the ship