14 FEBRUARY 1880, Page 19

ALEXANDER DUFF.* DR. SMITH has finished his task, and we

have before us the life of the man whose name is as a household word to the Anglo- Indians who between 1830 and 1870 made India what she is. There are men amongst us, specially of the younger generation, who, looking at the title-page before us, might inquire, with the latent contempt which ever accompanies ignorance, "And who may Alexander Duff be P" But his history is, nevertheless, inextricably bound up with the history of the welfare and pro- gress of two hundred and fifty millions of human beings whose destinies have been more or less committed to our hands. And though, while waiting for the completion of the narrative, we called attention to its earlier pages, we do not think, on the whole, we can arouse the interest we would desire for the work before us, more effectually, than by giving a very brief resuna of the earlier years of the life to which it has drawn our closer attention.

Alexander Duff, the first missionary of the Church of Scot- land, was the son of a Highland farmer. Born in the very heart

• The Life of Alexander Duff, D.D.. LL.D. By George smith, C.I.E., LLD. London: Hodder and Stoughton. 1871.

of Scotland, amid scenes of "unsurpassed beauty and gran- deur," he received precisely the training which has fitted so-

many able Scotchmen to " endure hardness,"—to be able, as the- German Arndt once so graphically put it, " to dispense with the portmanteaus of life." Like most men who have accomplished

any lasting work in the world, he had his " vision." Does that sentence read like the phrase of a fanatic or a dreamer P Let any man who has realised, or partially realised, in his life's work his youth's ideal, recall the first moment when his purpose stood out before him straight, a thing apart from himself. Nor will such men be without a feeling of common fellowship with the lad stumbling his way home amid the deep and bitter

cold darkness of a winter's night, lost utterly, it seemed, for the moment amid the mountains, exhausted with cold and hunger,.

when a light, which seemed to him Heaven-sent (it was only the flare of a poacher's torch), revealed his whereabouts, and a cot where shelter was possible. In the darkest hours of his

after-life, that flash was never forgotten. We cannot follow him iu his University career. Enough that in 1829, the- Church of Scotland remembered what Wellington called her " marching orders." It is noteworthy that the men who- banded themselves together to consider the necessities of the

world outside Christendom were the same as those who were

at the time engaged in transforming the worst wynds iu Glasgow. An article in the Edinburgh Encyclopmdia, written

by Mr. Stevenson, librarian of the Treasury, first drew Duff's

attention to India as the field of his future labours, and he finally offered himself for mission work. Even then, when yet scarcely twenty-three, he made two stipulations which might have been the result of a life-long experience. He required to

be assured, first, that he should be wholly unshackled in the modes of meeting and operating on the natives;.

and secondly, in particular that he should be entirely independent of the chaplains and Kirk Session of Calcutta.. " The first missionary of the Church of Scotland went out to Calcutta with only one injunction ]aid upon him, which it became his duty to violate the moment he saw the country and people for himself. That order was, not to settle in the- metropolis itself, but in a rural district of Bengal." The East India Company was then in the full swing of the power it used on the whole so well. Of the 250,000,000 for whose good govern- ment it was more or less responsible, 170,000,000 were Hindoos, Parsees, and Buddhists, Mohammedans 50,000,000, Demon- worshippers about 28,000,000; while Christians of every tribe, at the time of Duff's landing, were scarcely a perceptible element in the population. Schwartz and Kiernauder, Henry Martyn, and the three great missionaries at Serampore, with other devoted men, had been labouring for upwards of half a century among the adult population of the country ; wherein, then, did Duff's work differ from theirs P In this, first, that Duff saw, as by an instinct, that among peoples such as those to whom he was called, light must penetrate downwards from above, not upwards from below. It was in vain to argue that the-

soul of the Sudra was of equal value with the soul of the

It was Brahminism itself which had to be touched,. and he saw that to bring any large influence to bear on such a system as this, the higher teaching of the young must be through the medium of English. True, the great College of the Serampore Missionaries had been, so early as 1818, begun in Serampore ; and in 1817 the Government Hindoo College, for purely secular education, was opened in Calcutta ; but in the latter, though English was to be- taught, yet literature and science were to be given to the students through the medium of their own languages, languages in which it was difficult, if not absolutely impossible, for the European teacher to convey the results of the highest learning and deepest scientific research ; and yet such results Duff knew well were among the most deadly weapons he could use in his contest with Hindooism and the creeds of the East.

That the God of Nature and of Grace was one, that so-called secular knowledge was the great ally of all truth, was Duff's firm conviction, and before a year had passed he was established in the heart of Calcutta, destitute of assistants--save an un- trained Eurasian lad,—spending six hours a day in teaching some three hundred Bengalee youths the English alphabet, and many an hour at night in preparing a series of graduated school-books, named" Instructors," which held their place in every Christian school in Bengal for the third of a century. " Till success comes, common-place people do not perceive the gifts of others," says Dr. Smith, quoting Pascal ; but another year

had scarcely passed, before the European community in Cal- cutta became aware that a man was among them laying the foundation of something; what that something was to prove a few more years showed.

In the second year of his work, aided by a youth, the son of an

English squire, Duff prepared a manual of political economy, more ,elementary than the writings of Adam Smith ; and in his schools

political economy was first taught in the country, the enthusi- astic teacher joyfully reporting his success, only to meet with a rebuke for teaching a subject which the monopolist Government .of the East India Company might confound with politics ! The native Bengalees pressed eagerly into the school, till want of space alone compelled the teacher to limit his numbers. Meanwhile, he had not forgotten the central motive of his work. Fearless of consequences, the Lord's Prayer, the Parable of the Prodigal Son, St. Paul on charity, were daily read. In a hundred closely written folio pages Duff sent home his scheme for a Christian Institute in Bengal ; but things could not go on quietly like this. The native members of the Government College attended a course of lectures given at Duff's house on natural and revealed religion ; and the news flew like wild-fire over Calcutta. Like Ephesus of old, the city was in an uproar ; in all haste, the Government repudiated having any- thing to do with Christian teaching. Now was the moment for the youug missionary, hardly yet five-and-twenty, to show

the metal he was made of. A rash movement might ruin all ; -he quietly solicited an interview with the Governor-General, Lord William Bentinck. His lordship, while withholding public countenance, gave an assurance of private sympathy, and urged on Duff the strength of patience,—a patience soon to be rewarded by seeing Krishna Mohun Banerjea the Koolin-Brahman, openly profess his belief in Christianity. By this time Duff had been joined by a colleague so able and so earnest as Dr. Mackay. The school was developing into the

famous college it afterwards became. Duff would fain have made his institution a comprehensive one, and have received

into it students from every mission-centre. The miserable sec- tarian divisions of the Western Church, however, prevented this. But our space is limited; we must hasten on. Duff's scheme had proved a success, within a narrow range. The

moment arrived when it became necessary to make that range a wider one, and Dr. Smith gives us in this Life a chapter on what he terms the Renaissance in India, which is, on the whole, the most interesting in the work. In it we get the his- tory and the working of the charter of 1833, the part taken by 'the then "young Macaulay," and the carrying-out of schemes Duff's wisdom and foresight had in part devised. Macaulay, always an advocate for neutrality in religious matters, was yet as firmly convinced of the necessity for using English as the medium of all higher teaching in the schools, as Duff himself.

In a Minute, as fine as anything he ever wrote, he proceeded through many pages to prove,—

" That, being free to employ our funds as we choose, we ought to employ them in teaching what is best worth knowing ; that English is better worth knowing than Sanscrit or Arabic ; that the natives are desirous to be taught English, and are not desirous to be taught Sanscrit or Arabic ; that neither as the languages of law nor as the languages of religion have the Sanscrit and Arabic any peculiar claim to our encouragement ; that it is possible to make the natives of this country thoroughly good English scholars, and to this end our 'efforts ought to be directed."

By March 7th, 1835, before leaving India, Lord William Bentinck had issued this decree in Council :—

"3. It has come to the knowledge of the Governor-General in Council that a large sum has been expended by the Committee on the printing of Oriental works; his Lordship in Council directs that no portion of the funds shall hereafter be so employed. 4. His Lordship in Council directs that all the funds which these reforms will leave at the disposal of the Committee be henceforth employed in imparting to the native population a knowledge of English litera- ture and science, through the medium of the English language ; and his Lordship in Council requests the Committee to submit to Govern- ment with all expedition a plan for the accomplishment of this pur- pose."—(Signed), H. T. PRINSEP, Secretary to Government."

Duff, in 1830, had avowed the principle which Macaulay, later on, put into almost the same words, when he said,—" What Greek and Latin were to the contemporaries of More and Ascham, our tongue is to the people of India." Our space is filled, and Duff's work only just begun, but, in dwelling on the ques- tion to which we have so inadequately alluded, we have touched the mainspring of the missionary's great work. What he sub- sequently achieved for India and for Scotland remains to be told. And Dr. Smith has done well to make the record full, but, as

a biographer, we think he makes one rather grave mistake. His own mind is full to overflowing with a large range of information on Indian subjects, information extremely valuable in its place, but which a little over-lays his central figure. At one moment, for instance, Lieutenant Waghorn and the Over- land Route are far more vividly present to our minds than Duff or his work ; at another, indignation at some political blunder or crime leads him into a digression from his main purpose, which unquestionably is to show what one life, utterly reckless of itself and saturated throughout with a great idea, can in the short space of a few years accomplish, especially when to large and organising power, untiring industry, and the quick instincts whereby men rule is added, as in Duff's case, the " golden mouth," the power to persuade. For years a leader among the most experienced reformers in India—and we use the word " reformer " here in its political sense—" the nature of the schools of Hindoo law in Bengal ; the necessity for simple codes, criminal and civil ; the merits of the educated natives as Judges atoning for their defects in an executive capacity ; the claims of the Eurasians; the oppressions of the ryot tenantry by their zemindar landlords ; the atrocities of the police and the laxity of jail discipline ; the unavoidable neglect of the sixty millions of Lower Bengal by the over-worked Governor-General, and the necessity for the detailed supervision of a Lieutenant- Governor,"—these were subjects in his mind inextricably bound up with his work as a minister of the Gospel of righteousness and peace ; and concerning these things he gave evidence before the House of Lords, in words which made themselves felt. The great educational charter of India owes its existence to the labours of more than one honoured name ; but it is not too much to say that whoever might have been the Moses, Duff was the Aaron in that work. Men accustomed to associate the very name of " missionary " with all that is narrow, sectarian, perhaps barren of lasting result, will do well to do more than glance at the biography before us.