Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

the same thing. But we must no longer pursue this seductive subject. The temples of Elora and those of Egypt and Nubia have at all events much in common, in their mystic character, their mythology, and their workmanship; and in both countries, these elaborate and wonderful works must be ascribed to the ascendancy of a powerful hierocrasy or sacred class, the magi and freemasons of the country, who, uniting in themselves the privileges of an hereditary nobility and a religious order, succeeded in imposing upon the millions of India, a degrading yoke which has been the curse of the country to the present hour. The institution of castes, which has placed an insuperable barrier between a proud, self-sufficient, artful, and cruel priesthood, and the great bulk of the population, has condemned the people to perpetual ignorance and slavery, extinguishing all love of country, all social virtue, and leaving the country the defenceless prey of every invader.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

We are glad to find even Captain Seely bearing testimony to the utter worthlessness of the modern Brahmans. The primitive Brahmans,' he says, 'were philosophers and sages, ⚫ while their successors have, to confirm and enslave the minds of the people, rendered a beautiful system of mythology and 'science vicious and stupid. (p. 292.) • Whatever enthusiasts may say to the contrary, this symbol (the symbol found in all 'the Hindoo temples) is grossly indecent and abhorrent to every moral feeling, let the subject be glossed over as it may.' (p. 292.) It is deeply to be lamented, that a degenerate, besotted, and fanatical priesthood have, to answer their own ends, defiled and disgraced the original ethics of a pure and 'moral people.' (p. 296.) Human sacrifices were formerly offered to this Hecate (Maha Cali). Bengal was the great seat of her superstition. In the Calica Purana it is enjoined: "Let the victim offered to Devi, if a buffalo, be five years old, if human, twenty-five." (p. 308.) There is nothing too depraved or lascivious for the Hindoo mind to contemplate.' (p. 281.) Once more.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Where is now the whole mechanism of Elora's splendour-the mystic dance, the beautiful priestesses, the innumerable midnight lamps, the chorusses of hundreds of devoted victims, the responses of music, the shouts of fanatical fakeers, the solemn supplications of the graceful-looking Brahman of the "olden day," clothed in long white vestments? All are fled, and are succeeded in the revolutions of time by a degenerate, stupid, and oppressed race, whose very presence in the halls of their noble sires is a disgrace. Great has been and great is the revolution going on among the millions of Hindoos; but, if we consider the very vicious system of their native governs ments, five times invaded and thrice subjugated, the only surprise is, that the moral fabric has not been more deteriorated.' p. 275.

Yet, strange to say, like the Abbé Dubois, who attributes to the Hindoos every vice that can disgrace human nature, and whose description of the people of India, in his first work, certainly exhibits them in a darker light than any other writer has placed them in,-Captain Seely, after this revolting and honest picture of the character of the Hindoos, is very angry at having them spoken of with disrespect by any one but him

self.

'I love the Hindoos,' he tells us, and do not like to see them calumniated by men sometimes more ignorant than themselves, and not always more virtuous. Weak, ignorant, and prejudiced men, half fanatic and half mad, think proper to vilify and traduce an affectionate, intelligent, and loyal people, because they will not abandon the gods of their forefathers, and take up a creed at the mere fiat of a foreigner, and learn doctrines about which in fact some of our most learned and pious men have differed in opinion.' p. 319.

What persons are here alluded to as half fanatic and half mad, we can only conjecture: they must evidently be persons that Captain Seely thinks it no sin to vilify and traduce. And yet, if to vilify the Hindoos be a sin, he will find it hard to shift the charge from himself. Unless, therefore, it be the result of wisdom, and knowledge, and liberality in him, to make the same representations that proceed from weakness, ignorance, and prejudice in others, he must bear his share of the reproach. But does our Author imagine it to be no crime, to vilify men far wiser and holier than himself, because they love the Hindoos so well as to devote their lives to the attempt to enlighten and save them? It is true, those men differ from Captain Seely in deeming idolatry an infinite abomination, and in thinking that a vicious and stupid,' a lascivious and bloody system can neither be acceptable to God nor good for society. Our Author actually defends idolatry as sanctioned, or at least not censured by Scripture, and as a means of glorifying God! (p. 316.) and is indignant at the hue and cry raised at such homage,' by eant and hypocrisy, against the 'poor idolater, the poor benighted heathen!' But as we do not vituperate him for holding these opinions, deplorably mistaken and pernicious as they are, we submit whether it is quite consistent with his claims to superior light and liberality, to vituperate those who read their Bible somewhat differently, and who even imagine that the conversion of the Hindoos is not more hopeless an undertaking, than was the conversion of the Saxons or the Romans of former days. Of all cants, the cant of a pharisaical infidelity is the worst. Should Captain Seely's work reach a second edition, which we sincerely wish,

[ocr errors]

we entreat him for his own sake to weed his volume of these ignorant and calumnious remarks, and to adhere to his intention of not entering into theological discussion. He does not understand the subject, or he would see the impiety of raising objections against the performance of the most positive command of the Author of our Faith, the last he gave on earth, and that by means precisely similar to those whereby our forefathers in this land were rescued from the same darkness and degradation that now cover the millions of India. To profess and call ourselves followers of Christ and not to keep his commandments, Captain Seely must admit, is rank hypocrisy, if any thing deserves that name. As he would shrink, therefore, from such an imputation above all others, we earnestly recommend him to direct his attention, in the evening of his days, to the study of that volume from which he may learn more of the will of Christ and derive the only consolation which will serve him when heart and flesh fail. One word 'more,' as our Author says. Where is the distinction between the Brahman of Elora worshipping the representative ⚫ form of God in stone, and the Catholic worshipping the saint ' on canvas? None,' adds our Author, that I can perceive.' We are happy on this point pretty nearly to agree with him. There is little-often no essential difference, except that the Brahman's god is a fouler, baser, bloodier idol. But," God is a spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth."

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Art. VI. 1. Harry and Lucy concluded: being the last Part of Early Lessons. By Maria Edgeworth. In four volumes, 12mo. London. 1825.

2. Rosamond: a Sequel to Early Lessons. By Maria Edgeworth.. 2 vols. 18mo.

3. Frank; a Sequel to Frank in early Lessons. By Maria Edgeworth. 3 vols. 18mo.

4. A Legacy for Young Ladies, consisting of Miscellaneous Pieces, in Prose and Verse, by the late Mrs. Barbauld. 12mo. pp. 266. Price 7s. 6d. London. 1826.

5. English Stories, Third Series: illustrating the Progress of the Reformation, under the Tudor Princes. By Maria Hack. 12mo. Price 7s. 1825.

6. Grecian Stories. By Maria Hack. 18mo. Price 3s. 1824.

7. Chronology of the Kings of England, in easy Rhyme, for Young People. By the late Rev. Edmund Butcher, of Sidmouth. 24mo. Price 2s. London. 1825.

F we have not many juvenile readers, we may presume upon attracting the attention of parents, and all who are con

cerned in the education of youth, by the list of works prefixed to this article. It has often excited serious compunction within us, to find ourselves so much like Lord Eldon in point of our delay in giving judgements in that interesting class of causes-books for young people. We own that we are deeply in arrears, and the attractive pile of duodecimos of this description now before us, it would require the long vacation to peruse and decide on. At the risk of being charged with partiality, we have selected these few for a hearing.

We are rejoiced once more to meet with our valued friend, the Parent's Assistant. There was a lady named Maria Edgeworth, who published, a few years ago, a volume of (so called) Comic Dramas, and three dull volumes entitled Harrington and Ormond. The public imagined at first, that they proceeded from the Author of Castle Rackrent and the Modern Griselda; but the perusal so far undeceived them, that those books were soon by general consent forgotten, and it seemed that Miss Edgeworth was no more. Her re-appearance, therefore, in the present volumes, will be hailed as a species of literary resurrection. Here she is quite herself again, and the three sets of domestic histories which are now given to the public, complete a series of works which, as illustrations of some important principles of practical education, are invaluable.

[ocr errors]

Harry and Lucy' was begun by Mr. Edgeworth upwards of fifty years ago, for the use of his own family, and was pub⚫lished at a time,' remarks his Daughter, when no one of any literary character, excepting Dr. Watts and Mrs. Barbauld, ⚫ had ever condescended to write for children.'

That little book was, I believe, the very first attempt to give any correct elementary knowledge or taste for science in a narrative suited to the comprehension of children, and calculated to amuse and interest as well as to instruct.'

It is due to the memory of Mr. Edgeworth, and to the living claims of one who has been a still greater favourite with the public, to point out the lasting obligations which they have laid society under by contributing to set the fashion of writing for children. The difference in this respect between the present day and fifty years ago, is most striking. A long list might now be furnished of those who have done themselves the highest credit by similar publications, among whom the Taylor family, Mrs. Sherwood, Mrs. Marcet, and Mrs. Hack claim the most honourable mention. Were we reviewing a work of Miss Edgeworth's for the first time, it would be our duty to advert to that systematic exclusion of all religious

reference by which they are notoriously characterized,—a peculiarity which would fatally vitiate their usefulness, were they to be considered as the only books that were to be put into the hands of a child. Of the system of practical education which they are designed to illustrate, theological instruction forms no part. Still, as the omission is to be supplied by other works, the practical usefulness of these, as far as they go, is not seriously affected by the radical error in the Author's theory, any more than the value of an introduction to arithmetic, music, or geography is taken away by its not including religious information. A child religiously educated would take it for granted, that Harry and Lucy, Frank and Rosamond, observed the duty of prayer, read the Bible, kept holy the Lord's day, and talked sometimes about heaven,-although the book does not tell us so. It would never occur to them, that such good children could be so good, and yet be brought up in impiety. And such a conclusion on the part of a child would be both reasonable and just. Miss Edgeworth's works abound with admirable lessons; but, to use her own illustration, borrowed from Dr. Johnson,- Sir, any body can bring a horse to the water, but who can make him drink?' In the: knowledge, the practical wisdom, the useful remark, and amiable example which these works exhibit to the minds of young persons, we have prepared the means of most valuable instruction;-but to form Harrys and Franks, Rosamonds and Lucys, to obtain such results in fact, we must call in the aid of principles, sentiments, and motives, apart from which all theories of education are worse than Utopian, are empirical and delusive.

But we are not now discussing Miss Edgeworth's theory of education. Her books are admirable, and, though not religious, may be considered as an invaluable standing supplement to the catalogue of religious publications. Let them be considered as relating chiefly to physical education, rather than to sentimental education, and they will not appear to lie open to serious objection. For our own parts, we as parents cannot do without Miss Edgeworth; and as she appeals, in her preface, from parents to children, we must frankly state, that the judgement of all reviewers under fourteen is decidedly in her

favour.

We are not sure whether, of the works now before us, we do not prefer the smaller ones. The character of Frank is admirably developed. But, as these volumes have been published for some time, and are perhaps in the hands of many of our young friends, we shall take our extracts from the later work ;

« AnteriorContinuar »