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than this, does the objector to foreign missions mean, when he insists that all the religious wants of our own, and every intervening, scattered population should be supplied, before the missionary shall visit the teeming cities and plains and rivers of the East? Certainly the objector denies the unequal moral capabilities of different societies of men, when he demands that an inverse ratio to the square of the distance, shall be taken as the unvarying law for the obligation of religious charity, and the productiveness of missionary aid.
Again, we may place side by side those who are contending for the triumphs of Christianity, and those who are fighting for the prize, with which ambition leads on its votaries to final disappointment, or delusive success. Here, also, the objectors to missions would have the Christian leader neglect great points of influence, and make the reduction of every obstinate and unimportant fortress in his after the tactics of an old fashioned army, the preliminary of every advance.
The same parallel might be carried, with the same result, through all the operations of life. In all, we should find the light of intelligence striking on prominent, though distant objects, leaving the level in the shade, just as the rays of the sun glance on every eminence across a hemisphere, before they have penetrated the depths of the valleys, over which it rose. Besides, the objectors overlook entirely the common support of missions abroad and religion at home, as well as reaction of missionary exertion and success. They forget too, that if it be determined to limit benevolence to a term, and the question then be—who is our neighbour—the highest authority (Luke x. 37,) answers—you constitute even a needy alien such, when you show mercy on him.
We think the publication, the title of which is prefixed, contains enough to reward a reading by any one, and therefore we would gladly assist in removing the objections to foreign missions, by which its circulation will be impeded or repressed. We can testify, with all who have visited Eastern Asia, to the importance of that region of the world now, and to its promise of increasing interest and future greatness. Of course, the present work can contain no more than a few meagre notices, within its scanty limits. We must not expect a panorama of the East on a few feet of canvass. The outlines of the picture are so vast, that both the artist and the work will be the property of another generation, before they can be filled up to complete satisfaction and success.
Our author commences with his departure from New York for Canton, October 14th, 1829. We will now take up his narrative.
January 25th, (1830,) “ Sandal-Wood Island was descried,” the first land made in " the Eastern passage ;" a route usually taken by vessels sailing in the autumn from Europe and America for China. This passage, commencing with SandalWood Island and terminating with the outlet of Dampier Straits, affords the voyager a sight of a rich succession of islands.
" The large island of Timor,” says he, “was one of those included within our view. Its forest trees, crowning a majestic bank, waved us a graceful invitation to their cooling shades."
Next were the Banda Islands. Farther east the valuable Arroo Islands, “abound. ing in delicious fruits and birds of rarest plumage.” The large island of Booroo was next descried, “the genial soil of the Cajeput tree.”
After leaving the Banda Sea, the Island of Amboyna came into view, “distinguished among all the spice settlements under European control, for the extent and beauty of its capital, the strength of its fortifications, and the proportionally large number of its professing Christians. It contains a population of forty to fifty thousand.” VOL. XVII. —NO. 33.
“We had the large island of Ceram in sight a long time. Its lively verdure, its towering mountains, its variegated surface, and especially its associated history, tended to render it an object of most interesting contemplation. Travellers speak of some of its scenes as enchanting. The missionaries describe it as exceedingly fertile. The sago finds no soil so congenial to its perfection as the well saturated bogs of Ceram. This valuable tree grows wild, not merely in scattering clumps, but in deep forests, supplying its indolent tribes with abundant provision and considerable wealth. The waters teem with a variety of the finest fish. The inhabitants of the seacoast are principally Malays. In the inland districts, the · Alforees,' or aborigines, abound. The shocking Diak custom of destroying human life by treachery, without provocation, to add human heads to the trophies of their cruelty, is common here with Borneo and Celebes."
To the north-east, and "not far from the north coast of Yilold, is Ternate, a small but important island, whose sultan has extended his dominions over many of the adjacent islands, to parts of Celebes, and even to New Guinea.”
“ These islands form the principal stations under the Netherlands Missionary Society."
In reference to the early attempts of the Portuguese to Christianize this insular population, from 1510 downward, our author says, “ that, at this day, their success and its results cannot be determined." “Near the close of that century, the Dutch dispossessed the Portuguese, and introduced Protestantism among the natives.” The zeal and energy of the early chaplains of the reformed faith, notwithstanding their injudicious plans, were, for a time, successful. Declension, however, soon followed.
During the eighteenth century, but few attempts were made to revive the dying spirit of Christianity.”
This important and long neglected agency, now devolves on the Netherlands Missionary Society.
The last great islands of this Eastern passage are Waijoo, with its one hundred thousand inhabitants, on the one side, and New Guinea on the other. The following extract gives some idea of the magnitude and characteristics of this insular continent:- It extends about twelve hundred miles in length, and from fifteen to three hundred and sixty in breadth. Navigators speak with rapture of the beauty of its coasts, and the astonishing variety of its rich productions. Among the ornaments of its natural history, is the far-famed Bird of Paradise, of which ten or twelve species make it their favourite residence. It is inhabited by several millions of souls, composed of many distinct tribes, very different in appearance and habits, but all sunk in deep intellectual and spiritual ignorance. The great mass consists of negroes, of herculean frame, and jet black countenance. Some of them are cannibals; others are mild and obliging to strangers.”
These “Oceanic groups,” through which we have followed our author's course, certainly present a combination, no where else to be found, of advantageous positions, fertility, and loveliness. Of course they differ widely in importance, from the insular continent, with its mountain ranges of Alpine elevation, to the coral islet just rising, just risen, above the surface of the sea. They have, however, some common features, expressive of a family likeness. Their outer shores, exposed to the full force of the waves, are rocky and surf-beaten. But the inner shores, not so exposed, and the clustered islands, protected by each other, are touched only by a gentle ripple breaking on their sands. They rise beautifully from the calm bed of the surrounding ocean. Their waving outline of deep verdure is traced against a sky almost always clear. A tropical forest mantles every summit, and descends to the water's edge, as if to cover, in the spirit of Eastern seclusion, the form and feet of
nature from view. Morning and evening breezes blow alternately over each expanse of foliage, from sea and shore--now freshening its verdure, and now scattering its perfume. On many of them, the traces of human habitation are scarcely seen, as a favouring wind carries you rapidly by. On others, the simple cottages of the native inhabitant can be distinguished, half concealed by shrubbery and trees.
Perhaps the peculiar characteristic of these islands is their silent magnificence, their rich covering, no where broken, and their stillness, never disturbed. It is im. possible to pass them without contrasting what they are, with what they are to be. Now no one can live there with security of life and property. But were we tinctured with the doctrine of the Metempsychosis, we should be inclined to fix our last transmigration there.
“A multitude of islands, of inconsiderable note, rose and sunk in our horizon as we glided gently along, until, clearing the Straits of Dampier, we found ourselves once more riding upon the long swell of an open sea.” Passing the Pelew Islands, Formosa, &c., “the dawn of morning (February 19) disclosed the bluff and barren peaks of the Ladrone and neighbouring islands," forming the entrance to the Gulf of Canton.
A diary of his ten months' residence in China follows this notice of Mr. Abeel's arrival. To it we refer our readers for some account of the Foreign Residences at Macao and Canton, of the native establishments, private and religious, of the leading sects into which the nation is divided, of its moral and social condition, closed by an appeal to Christian sympathy in behalf of its people. It is not our purpose, by a regular synopsis of its contents, to detract from the interest or supersede the perusal of this publication.
December 30, 1830, Mr. Abeel closed his residence in China, and embarked for Java. We will again attempt to trace his progress.
"A few days after leaving China, we made the coast Cochin China."-" This kingdom now includes Tonquin and part of Cambodia, and has a hardy and energetic, though it is said, dishonest, cruel, and intolerant population.” '_“The Chinese language is well understood by the inhabitants of Annam, the native appellation of this country, though they employ another character in common intercourse.”
“The Catholics have long had a foothold here. They reckon about three hundred thousand converts, the great majority being in Tonquin. Formerly they were high in favour at court, but upon the death of the king, whom the Bishop of Adran brought over to France for education, their influence diminished, and they have since suffered a severe persecution.”
Mr. Abeel landed at Anjui, in the Straits of Sunda, an anchorage where ships in the favourable Monsoon touch for refreshments. " It is situated on a large plain, adorned with extensive groves of cocoa-nut trees,
an amphitheatre of most diversified and picturesque hills.” “The face of the country between Anjui and Batavia, a distance of eighty miles, is varied with hill and dale, wilderness and cultivation. The low and level tracts are laid out in extensive rice fields, while the neighbouring forests are enlivened with beautiful birds and infested with ferocious tigers.”
Batavia, the capital of Java and of the Dutch East India colonies, contains, within a circuit of twenty miles, a population of three hundred thousand souls. Sourabaya, the second city of Java, has an equal number. Samarang contains two hundred thousand. The whole Island of Java has about six millions of inhabitants, four of whom speak the Javanese language, one million and a half the Sunda, and half a million the Malayan. There are on the island, chiefly in the cities, about fifty thousand Chinese."
and bounded by
There seems to have been a time, in the early history of the Dutch East India possessions, when strenuous efforts were made to civilize and Christianize the native islanders. But these endeavours have long since ceased. The natural riches and capabilities of these splendid colonies have been monopolized or repressed by a policy proverbially Dutch. Restrictions on commerce without, have kept pace with petty wars in the interior, and massacres of the resident Chinese. For a short period these islands enjoyed a breathing time under British protection and the administration of Sir Stamford Raffles. Unhappily they reverted again to Holland, and there is at present but little hope that they will find a better master. A worse cannot be found.
After a residence of about six months in Java, Mr. Abeel again embarked for Singapore and Siam.
The regulations of the English East India Company affecting the China trade, and the need of a depot for British goods for the supply of the native craft from the Eastern islands, have given to Singapore its present importance. From a jungle it has become the seat of a population of twenty thousand souls. “Its extensive harbour, surrounded by numerous islands, and affording safe anchorage to any num. ber of shipping, is frequented by prows from all the Eastern ports and kingdoms."
Leaving Singapore in an Arab vessel, and coasting the Malayan peninsula, with its interesting upland scenery, Mr. Abeel arrived off the mouth of the Meinam, the river which drains the great valley of Siam. “ It is a noble river, half a mile in average width; its banks low, and covered with jungle; and affording many interesting views as you pass up and down its winding course."
Bankok, the modern capital of Siam, stands on the Meinam, thirty miles above its mouth. " The palaces of the two kings and some of the princes form the walled part of the city, while the suburbs extend two or three miles above and below the royal residences, and on either bank. In and near the city, a few streets have been laid out, but the houses are generally built upon piles, on the water or near its edge. The river may be considered the highway, the mart, and the pleasure grounds of the city. Here the mass of the population reside, carry on their business, and take their recreation. In many places, however, the dwellings retire to some distance from the margin of the river, forming a narrow extended street; or, branching off toward the interior, are scattered over the face of the country, amid gardens and jungle and rice-fields.”
“ The finest specimens of architecture are the temples, generally occupying the best sites, containing some of them a thousand idols, and covering a large area of ground, with the connected monastic buildings." These are Budhistic temples, “ built by the king and principal men of the kingdom.” Twenty thousand priests, "supported by royal and private bounty,” minister in them. But, except these temples, and the royal palaces, and the mansions of the princes, “ every thing is improvable and nothing improved.” “ Neither order nor convenience, ornament nor comfort, are consulted in the situation and structure of their houses."
The twelve months passed by Mr. Abeel, in two successive residences at Bankok, were filled up in acquiring a knowledge of the country, learning its languages, dispensing gratuitously simple medicines, and distributing the means of religious instruction very extensively among the natives and Chinese. His new and interesting notices of the country afford us some idea of the condition and character of its population, amounting to four or five millions. It appears, that a part of this population. consisting of kidnapped and captured natives of the contiguous countries, lies under an unqualified and cruel slavery. Even the native Siamese are held bound to govern. ment in an unlimited and most oppressive service-tax. The Chinese only escape the
requisition of personal service, by the payment of a triennial capitation sum. From this mass of qualified and unqualified slavery, result of course, meanness, poverty, wretchedness, and national degradation. These consequences are said to be aggravated by the corrupt administration of justice, by poligamy, gambling, indecency, and a dishonesty characteristic of the nation.”
Of the languages of this kingdom, we are told, that the most common are the Chinese (Taychen dialect) and the Siamese. This last is said to be simple and nervous as a spoken language, but turgid and epithetical in writing. The Pali is here, as in Cambodia and parts of India, the sacred tongue. The Laos is said to be a dialect of the Siamese; but the Cambodian, the court language, to differ much from it, and the Burmese to be quite another tongue.
In the January (1831) of his residence in this lonely situation, Mr. Abeel writes thus :-“There is something in the beauty of the heavens at this season of the year, which makes up for the destitution of every earthly charm, and exceeds any thing I ever noticed in other climates. For many weeks there has scarcely fallen a drop of rain. The atmosphere, during the day, is so clear, that the eye wanders through the boundless field with a most animating range. Nothing can exceed the glories of the morning and evening twilight. The burnished heavens—the broad rays of the hidden sun, shooting up the wide arch of the firmament—often succeeded by transverse streaks of the most delicate and varying colours, and these yielding to a thousand softer and still softer tinges-hold our eyes and hearts, at the close of each day, in glowing admiration, until the stars have one by one unveiled their glories, and all the celestial worlds beam forth through the azure with the brighest radiance."
This extract, highly descriptive in itself, is applicable also to the winter of the Philippine Islands, and probably of other tropical parts of the East. Nor, we may add, is an unclouded and radiant sky, by night and by day, the only enjoyment there at this season.
You there breathe an elastic air, and you feel its mild, cool freshness through a thin dress at every pore. Unhappily the sun returns, after three or four months of this delightful temperature, with its penetrating, subduing effect on the frame. Its excessive power prepares you to welcome the season of the annual rains. The exhalations of a whole summer, from a whole ocean, are then condensed above your head. The clouds, heavily charged, are driven pouring across the sky; or settling down over the spot where you are, let fall their torrents of water, compared with which the rains of northern climates are but an elevated dew.
In such climates there is no correctness in our common division of the year. Hence, in the native languages, instead of summer and winter, spring and autumn, we find names for but three seasons, called after their characteristics, the “ hot,” the “wet,” and the “cold.”
The narrative part of the work we have under review, closes with the author's residence in Siam and Singapore. Compelled by ill health to seek a colder climate, he embarked for England, (for no American vessels are permitted to visit Singapore,) in May, 1833, and arrived there in October of the same year.
Appended, however, to the personal narrative, are several chapters on Sumatra, Borneo, Celebes, the Philippine Islands, the Loochoo Islands, and Japan. These chapters, though we do not follow them, we recommend to western readers, as containing information drawn from conversation and manuscript sources, not accessible, probably, to them. We might condense within our remaining limits the contents of these chapters, were it our wish to supersede, and not to call attention to the work under review. Instead of this, we will add what our author's professional object did not include--some remarks on the present state of our intercourse with these