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their heaven-appointed ritual, was sufficient to curb this universal propensity of the mind of man to embody the object of its worship in the forms of visible and tangible images. Christianity, as it appears to us, has made provision for this weakness of our nature, and to this provision, at least, as among the secondary agencies, we must ascribe the hold it has, from the beginning, maintained upon the minds of men. The degradation of the Saviour to the rank of a mere mortal, even though he were a perfect specimen of incorrupt humanity, would render us unable to account for the rapid spread of his religion in the early centuries of the church. The philosopher might have admired the lofty morality it enjoined, and placed the name of its founder on the list of worthies higher than that of Plato or of Socrates. But the unlettered man would have found in it no quickening power, no fitness to supply the deep wants of his spiritual nature. “It was," as has well been said, “before Deity embodied in a human form, walking among men, partaking of their infirmities, leaning on their bosoms, weeping over their graves, slumbering in the manger, bleeding on the cross, that the prejudices of the synagogue and the doubts of the academy, and the pride of the portico, and the fasces of the lictor, and the swords of thirty legions, were humbled in the dust.” Our author, we conceive, would have been far truer to the spirit of the early church, had he recognised this feature of Christianity as it was promulgated by the apostles, and almost universally received even amidst the heresies of the century to which these letters relate. We ought not, however, to be surprised, that he should substitute his own religious sentiments for those of the early Christians; and we draw our remarks to a close, with thanking him for these entertaining volumes, and expressing the hope, that we may meet him again in the same attractive field of literature.
Travels in South Eastern Asia, embracing Hindustan, Malaya, Siam, and China, with Notices of numerous Missionary Stations, and a full Account of the Burman Empire; with Dissertations, Tables, foc. By HOWARD Malcom. In 2 vols. Boston. Gould, Kendall & Lincoln. 1839.
Among the incidental benefits, which the missionary enterprise has conferred upon the world, one of the most interesting is, doubtless, the additions which it has made to our knowledge of the globe, its productions and inhabitants. Missionaries are generally educated men. They become domesticated in a foreign land. They learn its language, become familiar with its people, and are enabled thus deliberately to compare it with the civilized country which they have left. And in intrepidity, in perseverance, in indomitable energy, they will not lose by comparison with any other travellers whatever.
In confirmation of these remarks, we need only refer to the missionary journals published by the various societies for propagating the gospel, both in this country and in Europe. We recollect nothing of the kind more valuable than those diaries, if they be considered merely as contributions to our knowledge of distant and uncivilized nations. But this has been, thus far, merely the first fruits, merely the mint, anise and cummin, of the knowledge which we are destined to receive from these sources. Let us remember that, from this country alone, there are educated missionaries permanently residing among almost all the tribes of our aboriginal Indians, in Greece, Turkey, Asia Minor, Armenia, Persia, Bombay, Madras, Bengal, Ceylon, Burmah, Siam, China, the African slave-coast, South Africa, the islands of the Pacific, and we know not how many other foreign countries. The knowledge which has been thus collected must be immense, and, as
VOL. IV. —NO. XIII.
every one must perceive, incomparably greater than all that our countrymen have ever collected from all other sources whatever.
The volumes before us form a valuable contribution, made to American literature by the Baptist Missionary Society of this country. It will be proper briefly to state the circumstances which gave rise to the journey, of which these pages contain the record, and express our opinion of the manner in which the work is accomplished.
The Baptists in the United States commenced their missions in the East, in the year 1813. The first station was at Rangoon; and the first missionaries were Rev. Adoniram Judson and his wife. From this city, stations have been multiplied, until they are now found at Maulmain, at Amherst, at Tavoy, at Mergui, at Bankok, at Madras, at Canton, at Assam, until quite lately at Ava, and in some other places. The work, in 1835, had become so extensive, the annual expenditure so great, and the field of labor was so distant, that it was considered desirable to send an active member of the missionary board to visit the posts which had been established ; to converse with the laborers on the spot; to advise, counsel, and direct, as one who was intimately acquainted with the views of his brethren at home; and to bring back such information, acquired from actual residence on the spot, as might be of material utility, in the formation of future judgments.
The selection, in this case, fell upon the Rev. Howard Malcom, a gentleman who had, with great success, for several years, occupied one of the pulpits in the city of Boston; but who had recently been compelled to resign his charge, by reason of ill health. We have cause to believe, that the labors of Mr. Malcom were highly esteemed by those who commissioned him, as well as by those to whom he was sent. With this subject we have, however, at present, nothing to do. We take up the book merely as the record of the travels of an intelligent Christian gentleman, sojourning in south-eastern Asia, and as such merely, do we propose, on this occasion, to consider it.
Viewing the work in this point of light, we are decidedly of the opinion, that these volumes will hold a permanent, and a high rank, among the books of modern travel. Mr. Malcom has enjoyed peculiar advantages for making a valuable work. At every principal place of temporary residence, he found persons perfectly at home in the language and manners of the country. Besides those who were, from religious sentiment, desirous of rendering him every facility for carrying forward his researches, he met, at most of the stations, gentlemen of the East India Company's service, who were able to furnish him with those various important items of statistical and political information, which have added so greatly to the value of the work. The official character, which our author sustained, as the commissioner of a respectable board of missions, opened to him many avenues of knowledge, which would have been closed to other travellers.
Mr. Malcom also possesses peculiar personal advantages for the task which he has undertaken. Few men of his age, in our country, have travelled more extensively. As general agent of the American Sabbath School Union, he visited every part of the United States. Within a few years, he has made the ordinary tour of Europe, and rendered himself familiar with the modes of life peculiar to established and long-continued civilization. He possesses, in the character of his mind, many of the most valuable requisites for a tourist. To great perseverance, unusual presence of mind, acute observation, and uncommon colloquial ability, he unites business habits of the first order, strong common sense, and much natural shrewdness. All these he has put forth in the present work. Nor is this all. He has not been satisfied with making a merely entertaining and readable book. His aim has been higher. He has endeavored to render his labor permanently useful to the cause of missions and of literature. We are happy to say, that, in our opinion, he has succeeded. Unless we greatly err, these volumes will become stock books of travels, and will remain as books of reference and entertainment, after many of their contemporary journals have been forgotten. We do not know of any other similar works in the English language, from which a reader will derive so much accurate and definite information respecting the manners, customs, trade, productions, and manufactures of southern Asia. The labor in preparing them must have been great, but we believe that it will prove to have been successfully expended. Mr.
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Malcom has shed new light upon a large portion of the globe, with which we have been heretofore but slightly acquainted, and will, we doubt not, receive the thanks of the literary, as well as the religious public.
The style of the work is unpretending, direct, and calm; sometimes rising to eloquence, and frequently enlivened with graphic sketches, and original suggestions. It is also rendered uncommonly valuable, by a great number of engravings, taken from drawings made on the spot, and happily illustrative of the manners and customs of the East. A new, and to some extent, an original map accompanies the volume, more accurate, we are informed, than any which has before been published.
The work is comprehended in two volumes. The first contains travels in Burmah, with digested notes upon the country. The author sailed from Boston, in the ship Louvre, on the 22d of September, 1835, and on February 21st, 1836, arrived at Amherst, the harbor, at the mouth of the Salwen; and the next day proceeded to Maulmain, the principal seat of the Baptist missions in the East, and the residence of the governor, or commissioner for the provinces conquered by the British from Burmah. From thence he proceeded to Tavoy, and after spending a short time here, returned to Maulmain, to hold a general meeting of the missionaries, assembled to consult on various topics, connected with their different spheres of labor. When this conference terminated, Mr. M. sailed for Rangoon, ascended the Irrawaddy, stopping at the most interesting localities, and spent several weeks in Ava, the capital of the empire. Returning to Rangoon, he next visited Chittagong, and the coast of Arracan. This terminates the journeys recorded in the first volume.
The remainder, and rather the larger part of the volume, consists of digested, and very valuable notes on the Burman empire. Among the topics discussed in these notes, are such as the following: Burmah, its government, orders of nobility, magistrates and laws, population, manners and customs, diseases, medical practice, commerce and manufactures, features of the country, climate, minerals, rivers, productions, animal and vegetable, agriculture, animals, religion, priesthood, literature, degree of civilization, &c., &c.