First destination on this US cruise was Sumatra where an American vessel had been attacked by Malay natives. The cruise is most well known for the Potomac’s vindictive and intentionally revengeful attack on those Malays, the people of Quallah Battoo for their earlier attacks. Much of the beginning of the book deals with the skirmishes between the Western and Malay forces, but they need not concern us. Rather we have here some passages dealing with instruction in literacy and religion, the reading of Scripture, and accounts of libraries on the cruise route.
p. 28-29, in Rio de Janiero: There are several primary schools in the city, in which the system of mutual instruction is pursued. There are also schools of a higher order, where are taught mathematics, Latin and Greek, music and drawing. The principal instrument of music is the guitar, and when accompanied by the voice produces a pleasing effect. The higher classes of society send their children to Europe to be educated.
The public library is in an edifice connected with the Emperor’s palace, and contains about seventy thousand volumes, most of which are very ancient. We saw here a copy of the first printed edition of the Bible on parchment, impressed in 1461 by the wonderful mechanism of John Faust, the inventor of printing. We noticed also several different editions of the Polyglot Bible in various languages, bearing the marks of extreme antiquity. The works on law and history are considered rich and valuable.
The people are allowed to visit the library during the day, but it is not much frequented, owing to a want of taste for reading among the inhabitants. This remark does not apply to the English and Americans resident here. The spirit which they have manifested for their own improvement is worthy of all praise. They have an English library in connection with a reading-room, where they pass their leisure hours usefully and profitably. The traveller has only to be introduced by a member, and any book is at his command.
p. 29-30: The Emperor’s private library is not very extensive but it contains many rare works.
p. 50, visiting Cape Town in late 1831: The Library is in one part of the Commercial Exchange, and contains a collection of valuable books , amounting to eighteen thousand volumes. Some of them are Dutch. A couple of volumes, containing exquisite engravings of botanical specimens, in particular, engrossed my attention. American novels, especially those of Cooper, were much sought for by the British.
p. 147, visiting an Episcopal clergyman in Batavia: Mr. Medhurst has an extensive English library, besides a small one of Chinese and Japan works. Some of the latter contain most ludicrous representations of men with a dozen heads, arms, and legs, I noticed many drawings of birds and animals, which were very correct. The Japanese, like the Chinese, excel in drawing animals, fishes, birds, and insects ; but they entertain most ridiculous ideas of mankind, in supposing that there are races of human beings with countless numbers of heads, feet, &c.
p. 152-53, in Malaysia: A well- dressed native came to inform us, that the people were assembled at the church, in readiness for the preacher. The church is a neat little building, situated on a gentle elevation, a short distance from the village. It is constructed of stone or brick, whitewashed on the outside, and is sufficiently large to accommodate two or three hundred people. The clerk, a venerable looking Malay about fifty years of age, commenced the exercises by reading a chapter in the Bible. He was dressed in European costume, a long black coat, with pantaloons of the same color, and a white cravat. It was pleasing to witness this assembly of natives, all neatly clad, and simple and
unassuming in their appearance, and I heartily wished that some of the enemies of missions could have been present, to witness the good which the introduction of Christianity has effected among these uncultivated natives. They appeared very devotional, and a deep solemnity seemed to pervade their minds. It might be well for other Christian assemblies to learn a lesson from them in this respect. The congregation, generally, was more solemn, and gave better attention to the services, than many I have witnessed in our own country. The singing was simple and plaintive, and though “no pealing anthem swelled its note of praise,” yet, as the sounds would gradually rise and fall, increase and die away, it seemed
“That holy, heavenly melody,
The music of a thankful heart,”
and as such, I listened to it with much satisfaction.
Mr. Medhurst’s discourse was delivered in the Malay language. The subject was the love of the Saviour to a lost and ruined world. The people listened with deep interest, and when prayer was finished, and the benediction pronounced, the people quietly returned to their respective homes.
p. 154, during Warriner’s visit in Batavia to the missionary classes: The first class were from the ages of six to fourteen, and were thirty-two in number. Mr. Medhurst heard them read, and after asking them some questions from a small book made by their late pastor, expounded to them a portion of Scripture. He then examined their writing- books , gave them such instruction as he thought necessary, and closed the exercises with prayer. After these pupils were dismissed, another class assembled, from the ages of fourteen to thirty-five. Some of them were very intelligent, and answered the questions put to them readily. Mr. Medhurst accompanied the answers with suitable remarks. The elderly people listened with attention, and seemed much gratified.
p. 166-67, visiting Chinese families in Batavia: The next day we visited several Chinese families, and distributed useful books . In the course of our rambles, we came to a gambling house, in which a multitude of people were collected, playing at cards. Mr. Medhurst, addressing them in their own language, rebuked them for spending their time and money in such a manner. He told them, that by thus squandering their fortunes, they would have nothing wherewith to support their parents. They acknowledged the justness of the remarks, yet the conversation produced but a momentary impression. After a short interval, all resumed their game.
p. 203-05, in China: I had the pleasure of being introduced by Mr. Bridgman to Leang Afa. This man has borne a Christian character for nearly nineteen years, “and is about forty-eight years of age. His native place is seventy miles distant from Canton. He was put to school at eleven, but soon after was removed on account of the poverty of his father, when he was employed in cutting blocks of words for printing. In 1813, Dr. Milne engaged the services of this native as printer to the mission at Malacca; and ‘when he was about to embark for that place, he made a solemn review of his life, and determined to live as a ra tional, being in future, as he had too long associated with bad companions, and wasted his money in gambling. In 1813, he was convinced that he needed pardon for his sins, yet knew not how to obtain it, and used to make sacrifices twice a month, without finding that any radical change took place in his conduct. Though Dr. Milne then made great exertions to instruct him in the Scriptures, he was at first too inattentive to “obtain any distinct knowledge of the Almighty, or of the doctrines of the Bible. He would sometimes meditate upon what he heard till he felt a decided opposition to the new religion, and occasionally indulged in ridicule against it and him who taught it.
After some time, he made application to a Buddha priest, who gave him a book, informing him that he might obtain salvation by repeatin enough of its contents to amount to a thousand million of pages! He commenced his task, but on reflection was struck with its absurdity, and abandoning it, began to inquire with greater interest into the doctrines of Christianity, and to read the Scriptures with anxiety. Through the instructions of Dr. Milne, and his own exertions, he became acquainted with the Bible, and especially such parts as more directly applied to his own case; he renounced idolatry in which he had been educated, and the course of deception which he had practised, and took upon him the profession of Christianity in 1816, at twenty-eight years of age. Four years after, he visited his native country, where he composed a tract, consisting chiefly of passages from the Scriptures. This was not published, for the police seized the edition and the printing blocks, and punished him with fine, imprisonment, and with beating. Dr. Morrison procured his release. I was not aware at the time I saw him, that his labors among his own countrymen had been so abundant and beneficial, as has since been manifest from the interesting missionary details published in the United States.
p. 226, meeting with Sandwich Island chiefs who were apparent converts: They expressed their warmest gratitude to the Lord for his goodness in sending them the Bible, and other religious books , and for the pleasure they took in serving and worshipping the only living and true God. Though I had read much of the influence of religion upon the people, I was hardly prepared for all I heard relative to the subject. Their whole discourse was the language of fervent piety, and I endeavored to encourage them in the practice of the precepts and sanctions of the gospel.
p. 236: A complaint was made while we were at Honolulu, that the government had adopted the ten commandments as the basis of their civil code ; but I can see no reason why the laws dictated by divine wisdom, and uttered in thunder from the mount, may not be as applicable to the Sandwich islanders as they were to the Hebrew commonwealth. Much was said against the missionaries for not encour-aging agriculture; but the evil exists in the nature of the government, and while things continue as they are, little will be effected, “The islanders have few inducements to labor. The government is similar to the old feudal system introduced into England in the twelfth century by William the Conqueror; a system of oppression, exposed to all the inconveniences incident to that species of civil polity. The supreme legislative power is lodged in the king and the council of his chiefs. The people, however, are in a greater or less degree dependent upon the simple authority of the king. He levies taxes upon them at his pleasure; he neither gives nor sells them any land, that they can hold as their own. He allows them the use of it, but they are liable to be removed at his will, notwithstanding any improvements that may have been made. Such things have often occurred. When a man brings produce to market and sells it for a certain sum, one half must go to the king, and if afterwards his royal majesty wishes for the other half, he takes that also without the least scruple. Where then is the encouragement for the people to exert themselves? They are poor, and must be, so long as the present system exists. Efforts have sometimes been made by the foreign residents, to impress the mind of the visitor with the idea that the want of finely cultivated plantations is to be attributed to the influence of the missionaries.