« PreviousContinue »
reading a story-book, or talking Hindustani with one of their own sort.'
There is another, and in most respects an excellent establishment in Calcutta, the European Female Orphan Asylum. It was established some thirty years ago by Sir Jasper Nicolls and the late Reverend Mr. Thomason. A friend, well qualified to judge, assured us lately that he could name at least thirty of the girls brought up there, who are now the heads of families, and whose lives are an honour to their sex and faith. Great, then, must be the good this institution has effected, but its benefits would be incalculably extended, were it transferred to ChirraPoonjee or Darjeling. Nature never intended that English girls should be brought up in Bengal : had those our friend spoke of been reared among the Hills, they and their children would have possessed far better constitutions physically, and we cannot help thinking that they would have been morally improved. Mental energy, we are aware, does not always accompany bodily strength; but the former is very rarely found when the latter is wanting.
Within the last twelve months our Indian newspapers contained a proposition for establishing schools on the same principles as the European Orphan Asylum of Calcutta, but on a more extended plan, embracing boys as well as girls ; not limited to Orphans, but admitting full blood European children, whether Catholic or Protestant, both of her Majesty's and the Company's service. The projector contemplated that the new schools should be located in the Hills, in a climate where our efforts to train the heart and intellect, should not be neutralized by the relaxation, the listlessness, and the irritability that are almost inseparable from the European frame, born and brought up in the plains of India. It is mortifying that the plan we allude to appears to have excited small interest in the army. Some money subscriptions and donations have been registered in the provincial newspapers, and, so far, the materials for the work are accumulating. But money alone will not suffice; before any such scheme is realized, a lively and persevering interest must be aroused, especially among our ladies, on whom it peculiarly devolves to support a plan designed in the first place to benefit the soldier's daughters.
The pressing need for such a refuge can only be estimated by those who have lived among our troops, whose duties have presented to their view European women in the barrack, on the march, in boats, and in camp; who have seen young girls and married women, in the midst of drunken, half-naked men, hearing little but blasphemy and ribaldry, exposed to the extremes of
heat and cold, surrounded by influences that render decency nearly impossible, and make devotion seem almost a mockery. Well might we despair of finding even ten righteous' in such a scene of degradation. But let us remember that, when a man gifted even with prophetic discernment, believed that his nation contained not one
worshipper of the true God, Omniscience saw therein seven thousand men who had not bowed the knee to Baal.' Neither is the moral desolation of our barracks uncheered by some bright spots. Throughout the present article, we have had reference peculiarly to our countrywomen; and therefore, while we duly appreciate well conducted soldiers, we now speak only of their wives. Among this class there are some, towards whom we feel a reverence that we want words to express. Sober and industrious in their habits, humane to the sufferers around them, holding on their unostentatious, upright demeanour, we have known them actually succeed in training their daughters to better habits than are sometimes found among 'finished young ladies.' Compared to worth like this, what are the sheltered, cultivated, applauded merits of women in a happier class ? Those we now have in view, live their life of hardship, and when they die they are buried,
“ No marble tells us where, and with their names,
No bard embalms and sanctified his song,” But their record is on high,' and the last great day shall declare it.
To prevent mistake, we may as well state in explicit terms that, in the foregoing remarks, we have had more particularly in view the extreme desireableness of establishing institutions of rarious grades-suited to the wants of different classes of society-and offering something like a reasonable guarantee for their permanence not less than their efficiency. We are fully aware of the vigorous and praiseworthy efforts, which, in this respect, have already been made in different quarters by private individuals-such as the Mackinnons of Mussourie, and the spirited founders of the magnificent establishment of Manor House in that highly favoured locality. All such initial efforts ought to meet with the commendation and encouragement which they so eminently deserve; while a sketch of the rise and progress of these and similar institutions, with notices of the causes of their failure or success, would be specially serviceable as paving the way for the ultimate realization of stabler and more extended designs.
ART. V.-History of Europe from the commencement of the
French Revolution, in 1789. By Archibald Alison, F.R. S. E. Advocate, Vol. 7, (Chapter LI-LII; the British Empire in India,) Third Edition : Edinburgh, 1843.
WHATEVER proceeds from Mr. Alison's pen is entitled to respectful attention. Whether we cordially sympathise with the historian in the sentiments he has expressed, or utterly dissent from his opinions, it is impossible, without an entire and most reprehensible abandonment of all the candour and impartiality, which ought to distinguish the proceedings of the literary judge, to withhold from the work, which we have named at the head of this article, a full, if not an over-running measure, of liberal, well-merited praise. Mr. Alison has written a standard work, which has narrowly escaped being a great one. We cannot add that we make this qualification more in sorrow than in anger. Mr. Alison's short-comings are the results not of any unavoidable intellectual deficiencies, but of a certain—apparently stubborn—not wilfulness, which has caused him, as though in very wantonness, to mar the excellence of a performance, which the presence of a little more care and a little more self-denial-care in the correction of small facts and the perfection of a style always animated and often eloquent; self-denial in the non-obtrusion of his own political prejudices and far-fetched philosophical deductions—would have Ieft the reader of the present and of future generations very little to desire.
If we have ever any reason to regret the limited sphere of our labors, in this journal, it is when we rise from the perusal of such a work, as Mr. Alison's History of Europe. We read, but as regards the work in its integrity, it is permitted to us to do no more. It is only in the incidental character of an historian of India that this writer comes in any way before the literary tribunal, which we have erected, and the prerogatives of which we have clearly defined. Mr. Alison has devoted a portion of the seventh volume of his history to a narrative of the Rise and Progress of British Power in the East. It is not only our privilege, but our duty, as Indian reviewers, to notice these chapters of Indian history. We perused them with no ordinary interest. Our expectations were raised to a height, perhaps more complimentary than just to the historian. We thought that Mr. Alison's genius was of a character the most likely of all others to do justice to so magnificent a themewe thought that we should find in the Indian chapters of his
voluminous work, an animated, graphic, picturesque, narrative of our military career in the East, and, though not without a tinge of prejudice, a philosophical review of the causes of our extraordinary success. But we have been greatly disappointed. With something more than the ordinary measure of prejudice and one-sidedness which characterises Mr. Alison's historical writings, is united, in these chapters, considerably less of the accuracy of the narrator, and the depth and sagacity of the philosophical historian, whilst, at the same time, the language is even more defective than in any other portion of the work. We repeat that these errors of mere wilfulness no critic can readily forgive. Mr. Alison's many and great merits can not be pleaded in extenuation of such offences as these ; for when a writer can do better if he will, we have a right to expect that he should do so; and the greater the pretensions of the work, the more inexcusable the small vices, which disfigure it.
It is not our intention to point out all the errors into which Mr. Alison has fallen. We shall content ourselves with noticing a few. At page 25, the Historian asserts that
In India, notwithstanding the long period that some districts have been in British possession, and the universal peace which reigns from Cape Comorin to the Himalaya Mountains, the natives are still ineligible to offices of trust both in the civil and military departments.
Had Mr. Alison perused the existing charter of the Indian Government, he would have perceived that natives of India are not “ ineligible" to offices of trust. Had he made any enquiries relative to the practice of the Indian Government, he would have ascertained that natives of India are, every week, appointed to offices of trust. Whether they are yet admitted to a fair share in the administration of the country is a question, which may properly be discussed ; but if full justice is not done to them, it is not because they are “ ineligible ;” nor is it to be inferred that they have no participation in the Government of the country because they have not as much as is justly their due.
Mr. Alison's views of the religious creeds of the inhabitants of India and the neighbouring countries appears to be somewhat obscure. At page 26, he says
The mild and pacific followers of Bramah have in different ages been obliged to bow the neck to the fierce idolaters of Kabul.
Why the Affghans should be called idolaters we are at a loss to determine. Mr. Alison's knowledge of these matters appears to be about on a par with that of a recent GovernorGeneral, sent out to India on account of his consummate knowledge of Indian affairs, who asked an officer, lately returned
from a residence of many years in Persia and Affghanistan, whether in those countries he had ever been brought into contact with Mahomedans. Mr. Alison does not seem to be aware that the people of Kabul are Mahomedans.
Again, after enumerating all the different varying creeds of the people of India, “ rigid followers of Shiva, savage pagans of Tartary, impetuous fire-worshippers of Persia,” &c. &c. Mr.
Heathens and Cannibals are found in great numbers in the hilly regions of the North Eastern frontier.
It would seem from this that Mr. Alison does not consider that the Hindus are generally heathens. As regards cannibals, we believe that there are a few in the hilly regions skirting Assam—but we are a little startled to find them classed with “ heathens” in such a manner as to lead the reader to suppose that the one species of humanity is as numerous, in the hilly regions, as the other. At page 28, with reference to the diversity of classes in the
Mr. Alison observes : When the regimental parade is dismissed, the soldiers break into separate knots: the gradation of caste is destroyed, the distinctions of faith return; the Sudra sergeant'makes his salaam to the Brahman or the Rajput private ; the Mussulman avoids the Christian, the Shiah the Súní; the Hindu all : and an almost impassable barrier of mutual distrust and jealousy obstructs all amalgamation of opinion or unity of action, even upon those national objects which separately interest the whole body.
Now we can assure Mr. Alison that very much of this is fabulous. There is little or none of the segregation off parade, which he attributes to the different classes composing a native regiment. They mingle familiarly in camp or in lines ; and recent events have not shewn that the mixture of creeds has presented any obstacle to mutinous combination. That men of different faiths, or different castes do not cook and eat together is true ; but beyond this, there is little or nothing to indicate the religious creed or religious rank of the sepoy.
In some regiments, indeed, there is such an entire absence of all class feeling, that the Mussulman sepoys subscribe their quota towards the celebration of Hindu festivals and the Hindu towards the due outward observance of the ceremonials of the Mahomedan.
Speaking of the sepoy army, Mr. Alison observes that, The first mention of them (the sepoys) in history is when a corps of 100 natives from Bombay, and 400 from Tellicherry assisted the army at Madras, in 1747.-- P. p. 31-32.
Mr. Alison should not have written “ the first mention in history,” but the first mention in such histories as he had taken