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metaphors and symbols ; from the days of Kálidas, who ránsacked all nature to furnish him with images, they have exhibited this. The Bible, as an oriental book, is constructed on the same principle, and our Lord taught by parables. But our religious tracts and books generally shew nothing adapted to this taste : they seem to have been writien rather amid the fogs of London or the ice of St. Petersburgh, than in a country with the associations of the gorgeous East. The oriental mind must be addressed through oriental imagery."*
The Madura Missionaries assign the following reasons, so far as tracts themselves are concerned, for the small demand : “1st, some are not well known; 2nd, some are dull ; others are obscure and difficult in style and language ; 3rd, the style is too generally didactic ; 4th, the form in which they are made up is not always the most desirable." +
The Rev. C. W. Forman remarked at the Punjab Conference :
“ I would have our books made so much like their own, that no one could distinguish them by the style in which they are got up. They would thus be much more attractive ; and besides, some who are now ashamed to be seen with a Christian book in their hands, (because every passer-by can see at a glance what is a Christian book,) would then read them without fear of being called Christians.”+ P. 285.
A gradual improvement is taking place in the quality of Christian literature. A few very effective tracts and larger works have already been produced.
2. The want of sufficient variety.-In England there are thousands of Christian publications adapted to all tastes. Most Indian languages present a very meagre catalogue. With the exception of the Scriptures and School books, the supply depends mainly upon the Indian Tract Societies. The Religious Tract Society makes liberal grants of paper, and occasionally aids by money votes ; but generally the expense of printing and binding must be met in India. After defraying Depository expenses, the total amount expended by the principal Indian Tract Societies in 1861, so far as the compiler could ascertain, was only £1,516. Even this small sum would probably produce double the results, if all Mission Presses adopted the principle on which the American Mission Press at Bombay was commenced :
* Calcutta Conference Report, p. 131. # Report for 1863, p. 25. # This applies chiefly to the lithographed books of North India,
“ As our printing establishment was designed for the diffusion of religious knowledge among the heathen, the charges for printing the Scriptures and all religious works which are intended for distribution among the Natives, are fixed at the actual cost; and we feel it to be a cause of gratitude when we can afford assistance of this kind or co-operate in this way with any society or individuals in their exertions to reclaim men from the power of sin and bring them to a knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus." Report, 1827-8. p. 13.
A few Mission Presses are conducted on the above system, but most seek to realisé a fair commercial profit, which is expended in supporting schools, building chapels, &c. The compiler has two bills before him, recently received from a Mission Press. The first, amounting to Rs. 348, was framed under the idea that the ordinary rate was to be followed ; the sum was altered to Rs. 116 in the second, when it was understood that the Committee of the Society sanctioned the work being done at cost price.
While double the number of publications could be printed under the proposed system, they could also be sold at half the rates, thus greatly increasing the sales. Europeans in India, in judging of the price of a book, do not make sufficient allowance for the relative value of money. A book may seem cheap to them, while it may be high to a Native, whose earnings often do not exceed ten or twelve shillings a month. The masses, to use the words of the Friend of India, “ think in cowries." If they are expected to purchase
books, especially the heathen, they must obtain them at the lowest possible rates.*
3. Few means of diffusion.--Among a population of two hundred millions, the Tract Societies have only about a dozen depôts. It is true that each Mission Station may be regarded as answering the purpose to some extent, and Mission book-shops are gradually being established. Still, on a whole, the facilities for circulation are very limited.
Room for Extension. The tables of Dr. Mullens show that, exclusive of two or three small presses, 1,634,940 Scriptures or portions of Scripture, and 8,604,633 Tracts and Books were circulated in ten years.t Total, 10,238,973; or somewhat more than a million a year. As there are about eight millions of readers in India, this would only be in the proportion of one to eight. " The schoolmaster is abroad." "Every year education is extending. Hindus and Muhammadans are alive to the fact. The relative proportions of Christian and Native book-shops and book-hawkers are probably about as one to thirty. The inequality is becoming greater every year. This ought not so to be. Much more might be done for the diffusion of Christian literature.
The Scriptures.--Vigorous efforts are now being 'made by the Bible Society to circulate the Scriptures in India. Missionaries are afforded great facilities, not only in obtaining copies, but in promoting their distribution. Information will be found in the Reports of the Local Bible Societies.
* Since the above was written, the compiler has had to lament the death of the Rev. J. J. Dennis, in charge of the London Mission Press, Nagercoil. He early determined not to make the printing of Christian books a source of gain to the Mission : the rates fixed were simply such as would meet the expenses. While neatness was not overlooked, one great object in view was to compete in price with the native presses. To gratify European taste, Christian books are generally got up in a much more expensive style than that which satisfies the people themselves. The usefulness of the Press was in. creased fourfold under the management of Mr. Dennis. # Ten Years' Missionary Libour in India, pp. 153, 163.
- Complete copies of the Scriptures are expensive in eastern languages. Many parts are also unintelligible to heathen readers, who have not received careful oral instruction. An Englishman, who has enjoyed perhaps the best Christian training, must not judge of the heathen by himself in this respect. In many cases when asked, like the Ethiopian enunch, “ Understandest thou what thou readest?' the answer must be, “ How can I, except some man should guide me ?” Judgment should, therefore, be used in circulating the Scriptures. As a rule, only single books should ever be given gratis ; even they should always be sold if possible. Of the New Testament, the Gospels, especially that by Luke, are the most suitable; the Psalms, Proverbs, and Genesis, are the Old Testament books chiefly circulated.
Select Scripture Texts have sometimes been printed in large letters to be posted on places of resort. Colonel Gabb, Secretary of the Irish Church Missions, in a letter to the compiler, thus advocates the practice :
“ I have long had it upon my mind that the system of placarding texts of Scripture in places of resort and thoroughfare, which has done so much to advance the cause of truth in Ireland, is well suited to India, and would be an excellent way, not only of conveying to multitudes, inaccessible through other channels, the leading truths of Divine revelation, but would stimulate, in at least some, a desire to be possessed of the Book from which the extracts are made, and would thus enhance the sale of complete copies of the Scriptures,
“ The plan which I have in my mind is to prepare placards containing a selection of half a dozen, or so, texts, arranged to give at a glance the Gospel plan of salvation, or any other subjects that
may be deeemed suitable, e. g., the wickedness and folly of idolatry, &c.
“ These placards should first be written ont in a large bold hand, and then fac-simile lithographs taken. This would meet the prejudice, which often exists, towards the printed cbaracters, by those who have not had acquaintance with our books, and would more readily attract those only accustomed to manuscript documents.
A little discrimination would be necessary in posting them about, not to placard sacred buildings, nor to cause unnecessary offence. With this reservation they should be posted far and wide, till India glistens with the brilliant gems of Divine truth, whether the people will hear or whether they will forbear,? «s Smaller editions of these placards, in the shape of handbills, might at the same time be scattered as precious seed.”
The Bible Society is precluded by its rules from printing separate texts ; but the Tract Societies might take up the plan. Already it has been adopted to a small extent in some parts.
In ancient times King Asoka, the zealous propagator of Buddhism in India, caused inscriptions, making known the leading doctrines of that system, to be cut in stone and erected in public places. Mosques are often ornamented with passages from the Koran. The late Mr. R. Tucker, killed at Futtehpore, set up two tablets, one containing the Ten Commandments, the other passages from the New Testament. The Itinerating Missionaries in Tinnevelly sometimes have, in large letters, a striking text, as, “ God so loved the world," &c. hung up outside their tents. One Missionary employed a man to go among the people at heathen festivals, with texts on boards before and behind, as notices are sometimes given in cities at home.
Tracts.--The great advantage of these little messengers
mercy is, that truth can be made known in a manner exactly suited to the comprehension of the people. It is not surprising that the number of really good tracts should be limited. Even in England there are few men capable of writing effective tracts. Mr. Long has mentioned one of the greatest defects in those published in this country-want of adaptation to the oriental mind. Many of them are too foreign both in manner and matter. The most successful have