Page images
PDF
EPUB

By the way, do you know of any set of “Anglo-Saxon” Unitarians who have kept up their numbers and their schools and their courage and their public worship for fifty years, wholly on “lay” services, as these poor “willless” ones have done ? Bro. Winkley says, in closing his appeal, “Though nothing more be ever done for India missions, self-respect demands of American Unitarians to see to it that that chapel be repaired, and kept so; and that William Roberts be taken from his present damp hut, and finish his days in that redeemed parsonage. ... Shall it be done, and that speedily ?”... Generous hearts in your part of the world may have been touched by this appeal, and such will be glad to know that a practical answer is being made to this reasonable call. You may remember, that, before leaving Boston, friends had put into my hands, for Madras, — chiefly of Dr. Gannett's Society, and at the farewell meeting, — contributions that realized sixty-six pounds, or sovereigns, in gold. Well, I found, on arriving here, that it would be every way cheaper and better to have a new parsonage and schoolhouse, both in one, on ground over against the chapel, than to have a fight at law for the old and half-ruined building that had been left to the church for a pastor's home, but which had been seized and sold, and lately sold again. To carry out this idea, I have obtained full ownership of that lot for a school and parsonage; and, in accomplishing this, have parted with but twenty-seven of my sovereigns. Thirty-nine remain ; and, of these, I gave the whole (adding a few of my own) to put the chapel in thorough repair. Three different parties have sent in their estimates for these necessary repairs; and they vary from three hundred and fifty to five hundred and fifty rupees. My plan is to deposit in the bank four hundred rupees, and to hold William Roberts singly responsible for their wise

and economical application, as advised by a committee of three of his best men, — David Chourimootro, Samuel Cholay, and John Domingo. This, with what the congregation themselves mean to raise for the purpose, - perhaps thirty or forty rupees, — will “ see to it that that chapel is repaired.” Giving William Roberts a better home is a third point with Bro. Winkley and the rest of us who care for the permanency of the first, Christian Unitarian Church in India.

On reaching Madras, I found William Roberts and his family had removed from their Royapettah Cabin, which they have repaired, and hope to rent. They were and are residing in Triplicane (another ward of the city), close under the windows of one of the city “ palaces," — the Ice House. Mr. Bancroft, an American gentleman, who has resided here and known William Roberts for a dozen years, had, I found, given him a responsible position in the Ice House, to be held during his own absence of a year or two in Massachusetts : another testimony to William's fidelity. Since Mr. Bancroft left, William has been drawing a salary large for him, — i.e., seventy-five rupees a month ; and this, I hope, is to continue for at least a year or two. After repeated charges to that effect, William Roberts had reluctantly closed the schools of his mission some four or five months ago. Forty pounds arrived from London ; and, what with this and his own seven pound ten per month, the old strongholds of debt have begun to tumble down. His own debt for food is reduced to about four hundred rupees ; and he is working his best to bring all things to a creditable balance, - among other things, paying two rupees a month towards a clearance of old arrearages for rent of schoolrooms; a bill within fifty rupees for rooms (if they could be honored with that designation), the regular charge for which was one rupee four annas a month, or about sixty-two and a half cents.

On the 15th of the present month, I opened again, at my own risk and charges, the best of the Roberts schools ; and am glad to find already about thirty boys in attendance, - most of the pupils not only barefooted, but bare altogether. Most of them will pay a few cents a month : but, if there be such a thing as a charity-school, this is one; yet several of the boys wrote for me with their fingers, in the sand on the floor on which they sat, with a grace, and mastery of form, that surprised me. I have induced two English Unitarian gentlemen here to give the sixteen rupees which has placed a good clock on the walls of the chapel. Another English Unitarian resident of Madras has subscribed two rupees a month towards the seven rupees a month that I am to pay my schoolmaster David, who is a good man of fifty, and was trained up for a school-teacher by William Roberts, sen. I have left no room here to tell of my late interesting meetings for social worship, the christening of children, &c., held at Tripatoor (a new opening) and at Salem (two hundred miles from this), where Lorenzo, one of the church there, has given land, which he showed me, for a chapel, to serve also as a school-house and reading-room. I spent three days among the Unitarian Christians of Salem (all natives); and we had three prayer-meetings, with two sermons. William Roberts could not be spared from the Ice House to travel with us: so I took his son Samuel, a good, bright, well-disposed young man of seventeen; and it gave me joy to see how quietly and successfully he led off in the Tamul portions of our services, at Salem and Tripatoor, in the chants, Bible-readings, responses, &c.; and also fulfilled to me the duty of a clear-spoken and ready interpreter. God grant he be a good pastor some day, a colleague to his father, and a gospel teacher, abler than he, because better trained ! As deeds are better than words, - words even in the form of prayer, - I have resolved to take Samuel with me to Calcutta, and do what I can to make him a good minister of Jesus Christ. With tears, yet cheerfully, his mother consents to this “ for his grandfather's sake.” How many boys have you in your Sunday school who could lead a prayer-meeting of twentyfive people ? Samuel Roberts conducted one meeting after I had left the place.

Your

BROTHER DALL.

MR. SAWYER AND THE CHRISTIAN INTELLI

GENCER.

No doubt, the editors of periodicals, being infallible judges of every thing, even of the books they have not had time to read, have a perfect right to criticise and condemn the works, the published opinions, and the writings of men infinitely superior to themselves. Any modesty on their part is quite out of place. A man gives twenty laborious years to writing a book. The critic, who never spent an hour in studying the subject, and has only an hour in which to read and review the volumes, turns over the leaves, half a dozen at a time, and pronounces the book empty and false, or wise and good, according as it came from his side, or from the side opposed to him. In a political editor, we

expect nothing better: perhaps, in the editor of a religious magazine or newspaper, we ought.

But this is not the question we now have to touch. Editors may with impunity rend, ravage, and devour all the best books in the land. They are in their right in doing so. Authors are a people to be scattered and peeled, to be trampled under foot of men, to be snubbed and worried, ad libitum. They know it when they write, and are prepared for it.

Hitherto, however, it has not been considered the thing for an editor to go too far in abusing an author. Rend the book, but let alone the writer. You may say that the book is stupid and false ; but you cannot call the author a thief and a liar, without exposing yourself to a suit for libel. Such, at least, has been the law for secular editors; and, having it, they usually keep a civil pen directed to the author, while they lacerate the author's work ad libitum.

But religious editors have commonly held themselves exempt from such limitations. Being religious editors, they claim the benefit of clergy, and call their neighbors any hard names they will, with impunity. But Mr. Sawyer, it seems, does not quite approve of this practice, and has tested the opinions of the courts in regard to it; thereby putting the said courts quite in a flutter, and disturbing their legal equanimity not a little. Also he has caused an equal consternation among “religious” editors. “What!" they say, “must not we call a writer, from whom we differ, an infidel, a heretic, an ass, a lunatic, a renegade, a liar, a blackguard ?” They feel as the slaveholders in New Orleans felt when told by Gen. Butler that they must not “wallop their niggers” any more. But let us describe the case.

« PreviousContinue »