The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 37
Hitherto I have confined my discussion of the missionary system to the proselytizing operations of Protestant Christendom, showing their great costliness and inadequacy in general as compared with the enormous work to be done. Before speaking of the local results achieved by the missionary system as a whole in various parts of the world, something should be said about Christian propagandism as carried on by the Roman Catholic Church. I regret that my statistics are very meagre, especially as to the actual number of conversions effected by Catholic missionaries; but nevertheless it is possible, even without this information, to arrive at some important conclusions concerning the character and extent of their work.
Passing over the missionary efforts which led the various nations of Christendom to embrace the religion they now nominally profess, I shall briefly consider the work of Catholic missions as carried on in more recent times. The great loss inflicted on the Catholic Church at the time of the so-called Reformation stimulated the Roman hierarchy to great exertions among the heathen, in order to recover their power by new accessions to their spiritual empire. In this endeavor the Jesuits took the lead, and established flourishing missions in many pails of the world. In 1662, Pope Gregory XV founded the Collegium de Fide Propaganda, but I have no statistical information concerning its operations. The eighteenth century, however, witnessed a great decline in the influence of Catholic missions. In 1822, the "Institution for the Propagation of the Faith" was founded at Lyons, and has been sustained by the combined resources of the whole Catholic communion. The number of missionary bishops sustained by this Society in the year 1844 was 139, while the number of priests in the same year was 4,759; and the number of both has since greatly increased, undoubtedly far exceeding the 5,033 Protestant missionaries reported by Dr. Mullen. The receipts of this "Institution for the Propagation of the Faith" were over $800,000 for the year 1856: and it is a very significant fact that nearly one-third of this entire sum page 16 was expended on missions in the United States. Neither for China nor for India was any appropriation made comparable to that devoted to' the conversion of the heathen Yankees! It is manifest, however, that the missionary operations of the Catholic Church can by no means be-adequately known from these insufficient data; and I make no pretence of giving complete information on the subject.
One feature, however, of the Catholic missionary system is too remarkable to be passed by unnoticed. A great and predominant object of Catholic missionaries is the baptism of sick and dying infants, by which immediate admission to heaven is supposed to be secured. Dr. Perocheau, vicar-apostolic of Sutchuen, in China, reported for 1844 more than 24.000 heathen infants as thus rescued from the flames of hell; while for 1848 he made a similar report of over 84,000. Absurd as this custom seems, it is the logical consequence of the Catholic theology; and it is impossible to doubt the sincerity of the men and women who give up their whole fives to the performance of this sacred duty. But the most singular part of the custom is the fact that most of these baptisms are effected by stealth. M. Fontaine, missionary-apostolic in Cochin-China, gives the following description of the manner in which these pagan babies have greatness thrust, upon them:—
"In a village of which the Mayor is a Christian, there exists a house of nuns, whom his lordship (the bishop) sends out in different directions to look for these hapless children. They go generally two by two,—an old one and a young one; and while the elder one enters into conversation, the other, who in good manners should leave her to speak, draws near the mother, who is holding the sick child, or sits down near the mat on which it is left. She fondles it, takes it in her arms, and whilst she caresses it, she succceds in dropping on its forehead a little water out of a bottle which she keeps concealed in her long wide sleeve."
Bishop Battaillon, vicar-apostolic of the South Sea Islands, makes confession of the same device with great self-complacency:—"I have always with me a flask of scented water and a flask of plain water. I begin with sprinkling a little of the scent on the head of the infant, under pretence of comforting the baby; page 17 and whilst the mother takes pleasure in spreading it over the baby's face, I dexterously change the flask and use the water which conveys regeneration without any suspicion being excited of the nature of the action."
So also Fatherde Bourges writes:—"When these children are in danger of death, our practice is to baptize them without asking the permission of their parents, which would certainly be refused. The Catechists and private Christians are well acquainted with the formula of baptism, and they confer it on these dying children under pretence of giving them medicines."
During a famine in the Carnatic about the year 1737, Father Trembloy wrote that twelve thous and children and upwards were baptized in this manner.
Occasionally, however, the zeal of the missionaries in baptizing sick infants without due caution has produced consequences disastrous to themselves and their cause. In the year 1668 a Jesuit mission waft established on one of the Ladrone Islands by Father Servitores with five companions, who were at first received with great kindness. But the inhabitants noticed that the infants died shortly after being baptized, and, not being sufficiently skilled in logic to know that it is unsafe to infer causation from mere precedence in time, they fell into the natural mistake of taking the act of baptism as a mysterious style of murder. Filled with this notion, the mothers used to run away, and hide with their babies in the forests on the approach of a missionary. But the men took the supposed outrage in sterner fashion, and killed several of the holy fathers for their over-eagerness to baptize the babies. Among these martyrs to their own superstition and that of the savages combined, was Father Servitores himself, the founder of the mission; and the conversion of the natives was in definitely postponed.
It is manifest enough that such propagandism as this is of the most worthless kind. It accomplishes nothing, and leaves no results. Yet a large part of the missionary enthusiasm of the Catholics is expended on the baptism of dying infants. Could a more profitless object of expenditure be imagined? It is hard to say which superstition is the more childish and frivolous,—that of the heathen or that of their page 18 teachers. If the large conquests of the Catholic faith among the pagan nations of which we hear so much vague but confident boasting are composed of such victories as these, it is plain that, however Paradise above may be filled with these myriads of regenerated heathen babies, the earth is but little likely by this process to be made into a Paradise below. The utterly insignificant impression made by Protestant Christianity on the great hosts of the pagan world I have shown already by statistics whose accuracy can hardly be impugned; and the vast outlay of strength by the Catholic Church in securing the stealthy baptism of perishing heathen infants is the tacit confession of a "plentiful lack" of success with their parents. In the absence of positive information concerning the actual number of conversions made by the Catholic missionaries, this open and even exultant avowal of a method of conversion which depends on the baptism of dying infants without the knowledge of their parents compels the inference that a comparatively small number of adults are converted after all.
One of the most striking results of our comparison of the total number of Protestant converts with the totals of population in the chief countries of heathendom is that the greatest success has been achieved among isolated communities of savages. Countries in which a large population has attained independently a respectable degree of civilization are precisely those in which Protestant missionary success has been most meagre. On the Pacific islands, for instance, where a few thousands of savages are brought under missionary influences, the highest per cent, of conversions is reported; out of the 25,000,000 of Oceanica, 48,249 were said to have became church-members. But in India, with its population of 130,000,000, only 19,370 were reckoned as church-members; while in China, with its 309,000,000, less than 1,000 were so reckoned. Yet it is the most populous countries which are necessarily the most important to be considered, when the conversion of the world to Christianity is proposed as the great object of effort. I have no doubt that the Catholics would report a far larger number of converts in these countries than the Protestants. Their religion is better calculated to make an impression on great populations already habituated to idolatrous worship; and page 19 the Roman Catholic organization, by its unity and unrivalled system of propagandism, enjoys advantages which are impossible to Protestant sects. Yet Catholics and Protestants combined, after centuries of unwearied exertion, have failed to convert more than an insignificant fraction of the great heathen populations. Christianity has already extended about as far as it will ever go. Its vigorous days are over. Henceforth it must stand on the defensive; and it will be fortunate if it continues to hold its own. Before Christendom can succeed in converting heathendom, it will itself have become dechristianized by the influence of modern science on its own superstitions. No one of the existing great religions of the world will ever succeed in swallowing up the rest; but I believe that a new, free, and cosmopolitan religion, based on fundamental human nature, and aiming solely at the truest and highest perfection of it, will eventually supplant them all.
The reasons for this non-success of Christianity in its great enterprise of converting the world are, of course, various and numerous. One of them is undoubtedly the want of harmony among Christians themselves. Not only is Christendom divided into three great churches. Catholic, Greek, and Protestant, but the latter is sub divided into a vast number of more or less hostile sects. In fact, a vast proportion of the missionary enthusiasm of the Catholics and Protestants is directed, not to the conversion of the outside heathen, but to that of each other. The efforts of the Roman hierarchy to convert Protestant countries are tireless, and the sums they spend on this object are undoubtedly vast. On the other hand, the Protestants are just as eager to convert the Catholics. Rev. Dr. Hurst, translator of Hagenbach's "History of the Church in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries," states in a supplementary note to that very valuable work [Vol. 11, p. 458] that "one of the immediate and natural effects" of the unification of Italy under the sceptre of Victor Emanuel "has been to open it to Protestant evangelization." He estimates the number of evangelical Christians in Italy at 50,000, and asserts that Protestant missionaries are now laboring with great zeal in Venice, Verona, Mantua, Milan, Como, Turin, Genoa, Leghorn, Florence, Naples, and other places with great sue- page 20 cess. Dr. Hurst also states [Vol. II, p. 478] that the Spanish Revolution of October, 1868, by which Queen Isabella and the Bourbon dynasty were expelled from Spain, produced a similar effect in that country. "No sooner,' he says, "was the Provisional Government established, than the Protestants on the Continent and in Great Britain gave indubitable evidence that they appreciated the magnitude of their new task." Among the evangelical organizations he mentions as pouring into Spain their missionary energies, are the American Bible Society, the American and Foreign Christian Union, the American Tract Society, and the Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Thus it appears that our American missionary associations reckon Roman Catholics as among the "heathen" that need conversion—a fact which will oblige us to add from 150,000,000 to 200,000,000 to the number, already so enormous, of those that need salvation according to the Protestant gospel. When we thus see less than a tenth of the world's population boldly undertaking to convert the remaining nine tenths, we may greatly admire their zeal and pluck, but can hardly commend their discretion. Their attempt reminds me of the pious old negro who, having declared that he would do at once whatever the Lord should command him, and being asked what he should do if the Lord commanded him to jump through a stone-wall, replied with great solemnity—"Brudder, if de Lord command dis chile to jump through a stone-wall, I will anyhow jump at it!"
The natural effect of this mutual hostility, however, among Christians themselves, has been to retard the growth of Christianity in the heathen countries. Especially the antagonism and mutual jealousy of the Catholics and Protestants have produced this result by bewildering the heathen mind as to what Christianity is. When Chao Phya Thipakon, the Siamese Minister of State, said to Dr. Gutzlatf—"They [the converts] continually pray to God, but, it seems, nothing happens according to their prayer,"—the missionary replied—"They are Roman Catholics, and hold an untrue religion; therefore God is not pleased with them." [Modern Buddhist, p. 33]. Thus both Catholics and Protestants, while professing to be Christians themselves, deny the Christian name to each other; for no staunch Catholic will concede page 21 a Protestant to be a Christian, and the Protestant missionary, at least, denies that a Catholic is one. The heathen are naturally bewildered, and conclude to let the whole religion alone.
But a more important reason for the non-success of Christianity in coping with such religions as Brahmanism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and so forth, is the fact that the heathen themselves discern no superiority in it. To a very great extent they are right. Chao Phya Thipakon justly contrasts the illiberality of Christian missionaries, in consigning all but their converts to hell, with the liberality of the Buddhists, who declare that all the good, of all beliefs, will be saved. "Even those," he says, 'who do not believe in the religion of Buddha, by good actions acquire merit, and will on their death attain heaven; and by evil actions acquire demerit, and on death will pass to hell. Buddhism does not teach the necessary damnation of those who do not believe in Buddha; and in this respect I think it is more excellent than all the other religions which teach that all but their own followers will surely go to hell." [Modern Buddhist, p. 85].
Nor is it only in this one particular that Christianity manifests an inferiority to Buddhism. "Purity and impurity belong to oneself; no one can purify another,"—taught Buddha in the Dhammapada [Buddhaghosha's Parables, p. cv.] The Buddhists themselves are quite shrewd enough to apply this principle of the strictly personal nature of human character to the Christian doctrine of vicarious atonement. 'How can it be," says this Siamese state-minister from whom I have already quoted, "according to the belief of those who believe in but one resurrection,—who believe in a man being received into heaven while his nature is still full of impurity, by virtue of sprinkling his head with water, or cutting off by circumcision a small piece of his skin? . . . . We do know and can prove that men can purify their own natures, and we know the laws by which this purification can be effected. Is it not better to believe in this which we can see and know, than in that which has no reality to our perceptions?" [Modem Buddhist, p. 89.]
The concluding page and a half of the Modern Buddhist is so admirable a presentation by Mr. Ala- page 22 baster of this part of my subject, that I cannot with stand the temptation to quote it entire:—
"Such are the ideas and arguments of an honest and earnest Buddhist of the present day, defending his religion against the assaults of the numerous body of missionaries who live in comfort and teach without molestation among his countrymen. He is indebted to them for much information, and willingly accepts it. He listens to and admires the morality of the Christian religion until they believe him almost a Christian, and then he tells them that Buddha, too, taught a morality as beautiful as theirs, and a charily that extends to everything that has breath. And when they speak of faith, he answers that, by the light of the knowledge that they have helped him to, he can weed out his old superstitions, but that he will accept no new ones. Their cause is, as the late king said, hopeless:—You must not think that any of my party will ever become Christians. We will not embrace what we think a foolish religion.' The religion of Buddha meddled not with the Beginning, which it could not fathom; avoided the action of a Deity it could not perceive; and left open to endless discussion that problem which it could not solve, the ultimate reward of the perfect. It dealt with life as it found it.; it declared all good which led to its sole object, the diminution of the misery of all sentient beings; it laid down rules of conduct which have never been surpassed, and held out reasonable hopes of a future of the most perfect happiness. Its proofs rest on the assumptions that the reason of man is his surest guide, and that the law of Nature is perfect justice. To the disproof of these assumptions, we recommend the attention of those missionaries who wish to convert Buddhists."
As shown by these very remarkable extracts, the greatest difficulty that Christianity meets with in attempting to propagate itself in the great heathen states, is its own intrinsic narrowness and unreasonableness. Until it can conquer these inherent defects, it can never conquer the world. But inasmuch as it cannot conquer them without ceasing to be Christianity, its hope of a universal conversion of mankind vanishes into thin air.
I have now shown the small numerical success of Christian propagandism in general, and touched upon page 23 one or two of the most important reasons for this ill-success. I will next consider the subject more in detail, and inquire into the results actually accomplished by missionaries in a few important countries. Protestants are especially given to exultation over the alleged civilizing tendencies of their missions, and very unthinkingly attribute to them whatever advance in civilization has followed the contact of barbarous races with the various nations of Europe and America. The new and destructive vices that are thus propagated among savage tribes they attribute to other causes; but all the real improvement that is gained in consequence of such contact they ascribe without exception to the influence of Christianity. The influences of agriculture, commerce, education, and all the arts and inventions of civilized life, which have nothing to do with Christianity as a religion, and which are the real causes of the larger part of whatever ameliorations are introduced into barbarous communities by Europeans and Americans, they quite forget and leave out of the account; or, if they remember them at all, they ludicrously ascribe them, and civilization itself, to the sole influence of Christianity. Even the social gain that is derived from the better code of morals that accompanies Christianity owes nothing to the proclamation of distinctively Christian doctrines, but has been accomplished in spite of, rather than in consequence of, these doctrines. But since the missionaries, especially those sent out by Protestants, have partially devoted their labors to the purely secular advancement of the various communities in which they live, it would be unjust to them not to recognize all the good they have really done in this direction. Accordingly I wish to refer, briefly of course, to some of the most striking cases in which missionaries have succeeded or failed in civilizing heathen populations, premising that whatever good has been thus actually accomplished I ascribe to the missionaries as civilized men, not as Christian propagandists.
No Christian mission ever acquired in any barbarous community a degree of control so absolute as that acquired by the Jesuits among the Guaranis, in Paraguay. In various other parts of America, the Jesuits succeeded wonderfully with their missions; but in Paraguay they built up what deserves to be called page 24 a Jesuit empire, mainly by the power of persuasion and kindness exercised over the minds of the Indians. In 1602, Acquaviva, the fifth General of the Society of Jesus, sent out a special commissioner to superintend the plan of concentrating the missionary efforts of the Jesuits on this enterprise; and despite all difficulties, their success was marvellous. The Guaranis were the most wide spread race of South American Indians, mild and passionless in their general character, and therefore exactly such material as the Jesuits wanted. Over these Guaranis in Paraguay the missionaries established a theocracy of their own. Settlements were commenced about the year 1610, and were sustained about one hundred and fifty years. The Indians were gathered into villages, called Reductions, and by degrees were persuaded to abandon their wild life in order to cultivate the ground. The social system adopted was a sort of Christian Communism, all the produce being stored in large buildings under the management of the Jesuits, who issued regular rations to all the inhabitants. I cannot describe in detail these singular settlements or Reductions, of which, according to Dobrizhoffer, there were in 1732 about thirty in all, embracing a population of 141,000 "souls." Similar establishments were founded in other parts of South America, embracing in all nearly as many more. Never was the missionary system so fairly or so successfully tried as in Paraguay; and the experiment illustrates the best that can be done by Catholic propagandism.
Now what was the real success of this system in Paraguay, when tested by its ability to create a vigorous and self-evolving civilization? I shall quote first from Nicolini's History of the Jesuits [pp. 306-3071:—
"It has been said that the inhabitants of the Reduction were low and abject slaves, led on by the scourge, deprived even of the faculty of thinking, and confined in a perpetual imprisonment, though within a large space. Quinet, with perhaps more eloquence than reason, exclaims—'Are we sure that it (Paraguay) contains the germ of a great empire? Where is the sign of life? Everywhere else, indeed, one hears the squalling of the child in the cradle; here, I greatly fear, I confess, that so much silence prevailing in the same place for three ages is but a bad sign, and that page 25 the regime which can so quietly enervate virgin Nature cannot be any other than that which develops Gautmozen and Montezuma.' All this is very well said, and may be in part true. Doubtless these people were kept in perpetual infancy. Doubtless, nothing great, nothing of a creating stamp, must be expected from them, Doubtless, they did not develop and exp and the new element of life imparted to them, as other nations have done who were more left to themselves; nor did they exercise the noblest part of their natures, the intelligence, in that pursuit for which we think man was created—the search after truth. But surely there are nations who have been placed in worse circumstances, and subjected to more disastrous influences, and more deserving our pity and commiseration. . . . . Although we know that humanity must progress in its career, and that this progress cannot be attained without great commotion and great evil, nevertheless, when we contemplate all the miseries which surround our state of civilization, we freely forgive the Jesuits for having, in one part of the globe, let civilization and progress sleep awhile, to render these poor Indians happy."
On the same subject, I will quote a few sentences from the Encyclopaedia Britannica:—"The Jesuits were able to introduce settled habits and a slight knowledge of religion and the arts among the Indians only by means of the personal ascendancy they acquired over them. It was a few superior minds gaining the respect and confidence of a horde of savages, then employing the influence they had acquired to lead them as children—giving them such portion of instruction as taught them to t rust implicitly in their guides, working alternately on their fears, their pride, their kind affections, but never fully unveiling to them the springs of the machinery by which they were governed. The incurable indolence of the savages rendered it necessary to prescribe the labor as task-work, and to carry it on under the constant inspection of the missionaries. The plan of cultivating the ground in common, and of storing the produce in magazines, out of which the wants of each family were supplied, was resorted to as a check upon their improvident habits. In short, the eye and the h and of the missionaries were everywhere; and the social system was held together entirely by their page 26 knowledge and address. When these were withdrawn, the fabric soon fell into ruins, and the Indiana relapsed into their idolatry and savage habits, just as boys drop their tasks the moment they are liberated from school."
Let me adduce one more witness on this subject, the Westminster Review for July, 1856:—"The Jesuits in Paraguay are universally considered to have exhibited the best results ever obtained in the missionary field, while the Jesuits in India and China were the grief and disgrace of their church in the opinion of its head. . . . . . The system endured till the Jesuit organization was broken up in 1767, when presently the whole fabric completely vanished. No trace whatever remains of this great missionary work. If the question of success is stirred, the reply of Catholics is that a hundred thous and souls were rescued from hell, and that the crowns of the apostles and martyrs of the work are brightened accordingly. Historical students and moralists say that, judged by any radical principle, the work has come to nothing. We sec that among a people saved by their teachers from the trouble of thinking and from the pressure of worldly anxieties, the lash in the school and bribes or terrors out of it must be needed for stimulus; but we think ill of such a state of society, and are not surprised to hear that its subjects were delicate in frame, scrupulous in conscience, indolent at their work, and dull at their play, though their teachers prescribed amusement as earnestly as our Polynesian missionaries interdict it. That such a demure, superficial, dependent, and artificial state of society should fall to pieces at once when its keepers were withdrawn, is just what might have been looked for; and, as all traces of it have vanished, it can be pronounced, in a historical and moral sense, nothing but a failure."
Such, then, is the kind of civilization built up by the Catholic system of propagandism, when left perfectly free to work itself out to its natural results. Of what value it is, you must judge for yourselves. To my mind, it appears scarcely better than the savagery it professed to cure. It was only the change of one barbarism for another.
Turning now to the Protestant missionary system, I will select the Sandwich Islands as the instance page 27 which Protestants themselves cite as the most signal and conspicuous illustration of the civilization created by their missions. In this case, it is more difficult to determine the exact degree of missionary influence in producing the present social condition of the Sandwich Islanders. General causes have been at work here; and the claim, insinuated by silence as to these causes rather than directly asserted, that the whole of the social improvement effected is due to the missions alone, will not bear examination. Nevertheless, I am willing for the present to give the missionaries credit for the entire work of civilization so far as accomplished; and I propose to inquire how much this civilization is actually worth.
"It may appear surprising that so many of the converts from heathenism should turn out to be only nominal Christians. It might naturally be thought that, in giving up with the religion of their fore-fathers and their country, and embracing a new religion of an entirely opposite character, we might calculate on its being the result of inquiry and consideration, and that, if not particularly intelligent, the generality of them would be true Christians. But to say nothing of the fact that in all countries and in all ages (unless, perhaps, in apostolic times) the great majority of professed Christians have been Christians only in name, there are circumstances which, especially in some countries, will account for the natives coming over to the religion of the missionaries, without there being any substantial or spiritual change in their own state and character. Nowhere in modern times have missions been considered as achieving such great and glorious triumphs as in the South Sea Islands; yet, while we have no doubt that much good was in various ways effected in these islands, it yet appears that the religious revolution which took place in many of them was materially the result of the example and influence of the chiefs,—more, in the first instance, than of the teaching of the missionaries. So long as the chiefs adhered to the religion of their fathers, the people had no thought of changing it; but as soon as they declared in favor of the new religion, their subjects were ready to follow them. They would now destroy the morais, burn or deliver up their idols, profess to be Christians, erect places of worship, observe the Sabbath day with great outward strictness, while yet they continued to indulge in the most degrading vices, living like beasts of the field. As regards the great body of the people, the revolution wanted not only "purity, but reality. Christianity now became in a manner the national religion, and the mass of the population outwardly conformed to it. It is also worthy of mention that, among the Sandwich Islanders, at least, it was a great object of ambition to be received as members of the church. 'A tabu meeting (i. e. A meeting consisting of selected persons) was to the mind of a Hawaiian one of the most desirable things on earth. Hence page 29 the constant pressure by them at the door of the church. It would have been the easiest thing imaginable to have added as many to it in one day as the Apostles did on the day of Pentecost.' We have already seen that the numbers of communicants of the Negro race are very great as compared with other classes of heathens; and though we do not recollect ever to have seen it stated as a fact, yet we greatly suspect that pride is often at the bottom of their desire to be baptized,—that their being so raises them in their own estimation above their unbaptized countrymen, and brings them a step nearer to white men, to whom, though often their oppressors, they cannot help looking up as their superiors. These circumstances, and in some cases self-interest in one form or another, will explain how professed converts from among the heathen are so often only nominal Christians."
"The Bechuana mission has been so far successful that, when coming from the interior, we always felt, on reaching Kuruman, we had returned to civilized life. But I would not give any one to underst and that they are model Christians,—we cannot claim to be model Christians ourselves,—or even in any degree superior to the members of our own country churches. They are more stingy and greedy than the poor at home; but in many respects the two are exactly alike. On asking an intelligent chief what he thought of them, he replied—'You white men have no idea of how wicked we arc; we know each other better than you. Some feign belief to ingratiate themselves with the missionaries; some profess Christianity because they like the system which gives so much more importance to the poor; and the rest—a pretty large number—profess because they are really true believers.'"
"In the Sandwich Islands, the decline of the population is such as history can hardly parallel and page 30 as every hearer at an Exeter Hall May Meeting should be informed of. We are told, not only by native tradition, but by the early navigators of the Pacific, that there were once human abodes wherever there was good soil and water, and that the population of this group was not less than 400,000. Now it is under §5,000. Twenty-five years ago —within the period of strenuous missionary efforts,—it was double this . . . . . It is of importance to ascertain what relation the presence of missionaries bears to the broad and clear fact of the unchecked depopulation of the islands in which they have settled. According to the missionaries themselves, an unbounded licentiousness prevailed before any European had set foot anywhere in the Pacific; and it continued after foreigners had begun to resort to the islands, and before the missionaries arrived. During the first period there were the wars and the barbarous heathen customs which tend to depopulation, and a truly heathen licentiousness. During the second period, there was the addition of physical and moral mischiefs—diseases and intemperance,—which, acting upon the established licentiousness, might account, for even such a depopulation as is recorded. Hut now, when the missionaries declare the people to be pure in comparison with their former condition, and cured of their tendency to war, infanticide, and recklessness of life, the depopulation is found to have proceeded faster than ever,—even to the extent of half the total number in five-and-twenty years. The natives themselves charge the missionaries with no small portion of it; and a good many visitors are of the same opinion.
"The people say that the missionaries promised them life, but have brought them only death; and that it is not a future life that they want, but to live long where they are, and as happily as they used to do before all their customs were changed and their pleasures taken away. There can be no question of the injurious effects upon health and life of the forcible change of habits imposed by the missionaries, nor of the fatal results of some of their over-legislation. Even the least important change of all—that of dress—has rendered the people liable in a much increased degree to consumption and related maladies. Ear worse is the effect of the suppression of the old sports page 31 and festivals. The people cannot receive hymn-singing and prayer-meetings as a substitute; and they relapse into an indolence and sensuality which leaves nothing to be wondered at in the shortening of their lives. Of the deepening of the poverty of the poor with the growth of the aristocratic spirit under the missionaries, and of the deterioration of the health of whole settlements by a chronic hunger which their forefathers never knew, recent accounts from the most various quarters leave no room for doubt.
"And when the dulness of their lives has aggravated their licentiousness, how do the missionaries deal with it? How do they treat the milder forms of license which they have not succeeded in extirpating? They put upon tropical lovers the screw of puritanical laws too strict for Old England and New England two centuries ago. It is very well understood that infanticide is most frequent in societies where public shame awaits the unmarried mother, and that sensual vices are most gross where they are most harshly dealt with; and, as might be exacted, the Pacific Islands are no exception to this rule. The girls of those islands are as proud of having white husbands (knowing them to be local husbands only) as the women of Cape Coast now, and the Indian women of the western hemisphere in the early days of its discovery; but the South Sea Islanders, having learned the consequence of the appearance of half-caste children, resort to practices which render the decline of population no wonderful matter at all. Like the grim old Puritan Elders, the missionaries inflict imprisonment and public shame where young mothers are not married in their Church. If in New England such culprits suffered in heart-broken silence, or were hardened or rendered hypocrites, the effect on a people whose ancestors practised infanticide as a duty is easily conceived.
"The children of the tropics suffer under the missionary method more bitterly than their childish hearts can bear. On the one hand, they are accessible to new temptations, and perpetrate frolics which their spiritual masters are the last to know of; and, on the other, they escape punishment by those very forms of crime which Exeter Hall orators hold up to public horror as the most monstrous features of heathenism. Under every imaginable incentive to abor- page 32 tion and infanticide, and to licentiousness aggravated by the necessity of secrecy, it is no wonder if depopulation increases, and if the natives consider the missionaries accountable for it. . . . .
"After bearing at some length his testimony to the failure of 'mickonaree' industry and notions of dress, Commander Wilkes adds—'Many of the missionaries now see these things in their true light, and informed me that they were endeavoring to pursue a more enlightened course.' Have they informed their supporters and subscribers to the same effect? Was anything said at the last or any preceding May Meeting,—and will anything be "said at the next, about these mistakes and failures? It was a pretty strong confidence which led men forth to impress on a vast majority of mankind the dogmas and tastes of a very small minority; not to communicate provable knowledge, it must be observed, but to impose dogmas at the cost of eradicating beliefs, warring against all natural influences, local and moral, and thereby breaking the spring of the native character, and preparing a whole race for premature extinction. One would think that, when the agents of such an operation found themselves more or less mistaken in their aims and methods, they would learn modesty in their office, and possibly sympathy with their perishing charge. But where are there evidences of this?. . . . .
"Alas! thus it is. Coal scuttle bonnets for the garland and palm-leaf! The Old Hundred for the national ballad! Levitical law for heroic tradition! A tabu-Sunday every week, and no harvest-home once a year! Idleness, breeding slander and dissoluteness, for the easy but willing occupation of former days! All distinctive character covered over with hypocrisy, and native prattle absorbed by cant! The palm-tree growing, the coral spreading, and man dwindling and perishing! If such are the best and choicest fruits of English Protestant missions, with what grace can Protestants scoff at Romish failure?"
"Readers of Reports are led to infer that the arts page 33 and customs of civilized life are rapidly refining the natives of the Sandwich Islands. But let no one be deceived by these accounts. The chiefs swagger about in gold-lace and broad-cloth, while the great mass of the common people are nearly as primitive in their appearance as in the days of Cook. In the progress of events at the islands, the two classes are receding from each other; the chiefs are daily becoming more luxurious and extravagant in their style of living, and the common people more and more destitute of the necessaries and decencies of life. But the end to which both will arrive at last will be the same. The one are fast destroying themselves by sensual indulgences, and the other are fast being destroyed by a complication of disorders and the want of wholesome food. The resources of the domineering chiefs are wrung from the starving serfs, and every additional bauble with which they bedeck themselves is purchased by the suffering of their bondmen; so that the measure of the gew-gaw refinement attained by the chiefs is only an index to the actual state of degradation in which the greater part of the population lie grovelling. . . . . .
"Not until I visited Honolulu was I aware of the fact that the small remnant of the natives had been civilized into draught horses, and evangelized into beasts of burden. But so it is. They have been literally broken into the traces, and are harnessed to the vehicles of their spiritual instructors like so many dumb brutes!
"Among a multitude of similar exhibitions that I saw, I shall never forget a robust, red faced and very lady-like personage, a missionary's spouse, who day after day for months together took her regular airings in a little go-cart drawn by two of the islanders, one an old gray-headed man. And the other a roguish stripling, both being, with the Deception of the fig-leaf, as naked as when they were born. Over a level piece of ground this pair of draught bipeds would go with a shambling, unsightly trot, the youngster hanging back all the time like a knowing horse, while the hack plodded on and did all the work.
"Battling along through the streets of the town in this stylish equipage, the lady looks about her as magnificently as any queen driven in state to her coronation. A sudden elevation and a sandy road, page 34 however, soon disturb her serenity. The small wheels soon become imbedded in the loose soil, and the old stager stands tugging and sweating, while the, young one frisks about and does nothing. Not an' inch does the chariot budge. Will the tender-hearted lady—who has left friends and home for the good of the souls of the poor heathen—will she think a little about their bodies, and get out, and ease the wretched old man until the ascent is mounted? Not she: she could not dream of it. To be sure, she used to think nothing of driving the cows to pasture on the old form in New England; but times have changed since then. No she retains her seat, and bawls out. Hookee,! hookee!' (pull, pull) The old gentleman, frightened at the sound, labors away harder than ever; and the younger one makes a great show of straining himself, but takes care to keep one eye upon his mistress, in order to know when to dodge out of harm's way. At last the good lady loses all patience. 'Hookee! hookee!' and rap goes the heavy handle of her huge fan over the naked skull of the old savage, while the young one shies to one side, and keeps beyond its range. 'Hookee! hookee!' again she cries. 'Hookee tata kannaka!' (pull strong, men.) But all in vain, and she is obliged in the end to dismounts and sad necessity! actually to walk to the top of the hill.
"At the town where this paragon of humility resides, is a spacious and elegant American chapel, where divine service is regularly performed. Twice every Sabbath, towards the close of the exercises, may be seen a score or two of little waggons ranged along, the railing in front of the edifice, with two squalid native footmen in the livery of nakedness standing by each, and waiting for the dismission of the congregation to draw their superiors home."
On the whole, therefore, I conclude that the nominal conversion of the Sandwich Islanders to Christianity is not what it is believed to be, a prima facie proof of an improved moral character; and that the accounts given by returned travellers of their low moral condition are not to be branded as self-evident lies. It is more than likely, in my opinion, that contact with Christians and Christian missionaries has fanned, rather than benefited, the inhabitants of the South Sea Islands. They are rapidly decreasing in page 35 numbers, and are probably destined to fade entirely a away before a more vigorous race. But just so far as the missionaries have forgotten their Christian doctrines and labored earnestly for the moral and social welfare of these poor people, I would applaud them as real benefactors of their race. This, however, they must do in spite of their system, which places all this as infinitely lower in importance than faith in the Christian gospel of salvation by Christ alone. The highest success that can be claimed for Christian missions in the Sandwich Islands is that they have replaced the old superstition by a new one, and helped to smoothe the Islanders' way to the sure extinction brought upon them by Christian nations. '
In dealing with purely barbarous communities, therefore, I think it just to say that both the Catholic and Protestant missions have accomplished considerable incidental good, by preaching a higher morality and by helping in a greater or less degree to civilize them. But this work of civilization has been hampered and hindered at every step by the supposed duty of first inculcating a new superstition in place of the old. Naturally enough the Protestant missionaries have done more of this civilizing work than the Catholics, for they have shaken off to some extent the shackles of the old intolerable bondage; but they would have done vastly more still, if they had gone out with the pure love of man in their hearts, unmixed with the baleful belief that man needs to be redeemed from future rather than present ills. The missionary spirit—that is, the willingness and the will to devote a whole life to the work of making others better and happier—is surely the sublimest and divinest manifestation of humanity's noblest part. Could it but be dissociated from narrow and narrowing Creeds, and set free to work itself out into action through healthy, natural channels,—could there but be a grand crusade of freedom against slavery, of knowledge against ignorance, of human love and virtue against human hate and vice,—could there but be an organized effort on the part of all nations to carry education, intelligence, and truer and happier modes of living to all the dark corners of the earth,—then surely there would be the dawn of a better day even here at home, and the new-born "enthusiasm of humanity," flaming out in works of mercy and love to page 36 the sufferers of far-distant lands, would also light up the hearts and households of our own land with a purer, holier glow. Not till the burdens of all men are our burdens too,—not till we "remember those in bonds as bound with them,"—can we ourselves be truly noble and great; and, despite all its errors and defects and follies, the missionary system of Christian propagandism is a veritable hint and fore-shadowing of a still greater missionary system that is to come.
While a very little child, I heard one day a good old missionary, Dr. Scudder, who had returned from Ceylon after years of faithful toil for a brief visit to his native land, preach about the perishing heathen in the far-off tropics; and a great desire was born in my childish heart to spend my days in the same high toil. Half a dozen years afterwards, when Dr. Scudder had returned for his last visit to his home, and was about to sail again to the familiar scene of his labors, I could not repress the wish I felt to see him once more. Hastening one sunny morning to the rooms of the American Board of Foreign Missions in Boston, I found him just on the point of starting for the wharf whence the ship was to sail for India. I timidly put my quarter-dollar in his hand, and told him I had come to say good-by. The kindly-faced old man bent down and kissed me—I thought with a tear in his eye; and I hurried home.
But I have often thought that, in a far different manner than he would approve or I imagined, my old wish has come true; and that I am nothing, after all, but a missionary of the better faith that will yet convert Christendom itself, even as he was laboring to convert heathendom to Christianity. Surely, the heathen of Ceylon can scarcely hear with greater coldness or abhorrence the message he proclaimed than the Christians of America hear mine to-day. But what of that? If the servants of the new gospel of freedom and knowledge, truth and virtue and natural humanity, show less zeal and less self-sacrifice than the servants of the outworn gospel of Christ, or if they shrink from difficulties that these have learned to conquer, is it not right that they should be judged men of smaller stature and narrower souls? The world to day needs the new gospel, not the old; and if it be indeed the gospel of truth and hope to all mankind, then most assuredly its missionar- page 37 ies will be born. And while I have told you truly what I believe to be the weakness and the mistake of Christian propagandism, I should be less than true to my duty if I spoke no word of faith in the propagandism of Free Religion. If the world to-day needs the principles of free science and free thought, free virtue and free humanity, free reverence for man and free self-consecration to the infinitely Perfect, then it needs missionaries as never before and I count it an honor to be one of them.
The noblest feature of the missionary system is the education it bestows on the disinterested side of human nature—the self-sacrificing generosity which prompts each to give according to his ability, the wealthy man his gold, the intellectual man his brain, and every man his deep, strong, active sympathy. However widely our views diverge from those which prompted a Paul, a Xavier, or a Judson to spend life and heart in the missionary work, we too need the divine chrism of the missionary spirit; for in each and every form it is the Love of Man. Be it ours, not to love less, but to love more,—with the light of a larger wisdom and the heat of a purer zeal!