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climate seldom if ever occur, has given to their works a permanence they could never have derived from the combined power and art of man; though it must be allowed, that notwithstanding the apparent aridity of the atmosphere, owing to the almost perpetual absence of rain, the exhalations from the circumjacent inundation, are so great as to occasion, at one period of the year, a humidity little inferior to that which would proceed from actual immersion; and which in their consequences would equally affect that brilliancy of colouring which has stamped a characteristic pre-eminence on these chef d'œuvres.

Narrative of a New Discovery of Christian Churches, at Travancore, in India.

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[From the Bristol Journal.] THE Rev. Dr. Buchanan, who left Bengal some months ago, with view of proceeding to Travancore, to enquire into the state of the Syrian christians, arrived in that country about the beginning of Nov. last, having travelled from Calcutta to Cape Comorin by land. His highness the rajah of Travancore was pleased to afford to Dr. Buchanan the most liberal assistance in the prosecution of his enquiries. About the middle of Nov. Dr. Buchanan proceeded from the sea-coast into the interior of the country N. E. of Quilon, to visit the antient Syrian churches situated amongst the hills at the bottom of the high Ghauts, which divide the Carnatic from Mala

yala. The face of the country in general, in the vicinity of the mountains, exhibits a varied scene of hill and dale, and winding streams. These streams fall from the mountains, and preserve the valleys in perpetual verdure. The woods produce pepper, cardamoms, and cassia or wild cinnamon; also frankincense and other aromatic gums. What adds much to the grandeur of the scenery in this country is, that the adjacent mountains of Travancore are not barren, but are covered with teak forests, producing the largest timber in the world.

The first view of the christian churches in this sequestered region of Hindostan, connected with the idea of their tranquil duration for so many ages, cannot fail to excite pleasing emotions in the mind of the beholder. The form of the oldest buildings is not unlike that of the old parish churches in England; the style of building in both being of Saracenic origin. They have sloping roofs, pointed arch windows, and buttresses supporting the walls. The beams of the roof being exposed to view, are ornamented; and the ceiling of the choir and altar is circular and fretted. In the cathedral churches, the shrines of the deceased bishops are placed on each side of the altar. Most of the churches are built of a reddish stone squared and polished at the quarry; and are of a durable construction, the front wall of the largest edifices being six feet thick. The bells of the churches are cast in the founderies of Travancore. Some of them are of large dimensions, and have inscriptions in Syriac and Malayalim.

• It is an opinion in Egypt, that the fall of these dews, not only averts the plague, but cures those who are affected with it.

N. B. Sonnini, in Vol. III. of his Travels in Egypt, gives very correct delineations of some of the most remarkable sculptures of this temple.

Malayalim. In approaching a town in the evening, the sound of the bells may be heard at a distance, amongst the hills; a circumstance which causes the British traveller to forget for a moment that he is in Hindostan, and reminds him of another country. When Dr. Buchanan arrived at the remote churches, he was informed by the inhabitants that no European had, to their knowledge, visited the place before. The Romish priests do not travel thither, there being no church of their communion in that quarter.

The number of Syrian churches is greater than has been supposed. There are at this time fifty-five churches in Malayala, acknowledging the patriarch of Antioch. The last church was erected by the present bishop in 1793.

The Syrian christians are not Nestorians. Formerly, indeed, they had bishops of that communion, but the liturgy of the present church is derived from that of the early church of Antioch, called "Liturgia Jacobi Apostoli." They are usually denominated Jacobita; but they differ in ceremonial from the church of that name in Syria, and indeed from any existing church in the world. Their proper designation, and that which is sanctioned by their own use, is, "Syrian Christians;" or, "The Syrian church of Malayala."

The doctrines of the Syrian church are contained in a very few articles; and are not at variance, in essentials, with the doctrines of the church of England. Their bishop and metropolitan, after conferring with his clergy on the subject, delivered the following opinion:-"That an union

with the English church, or, at least, such a connection as should appear to both churches practicable and expedient, would be a happy event, and favourable to the advancement of religion." It is in contemplation to send to England some of the Syrian youth for education and ordination.

The present bishop, Mar. Dionysius, is a native of Malayala, but of Syrian extraction. He is a man of respectable character in his nation, and exercises himself in the pions discharge of the duties of his high office. He is now seventy-eight years of age, and possesses a venerable aspect, his white beard descending low to his girdle. On public occasions he wears the episcopal mitre, and is robed in a white vestment, which covers long garments of red silk; and in his hand he holds the pastoral staff. The first native bishop was ordained by the Romish church in 1663. But he was of the Romish communion. Since that period the old Syrians have continued, till lately, to receive their bishops from Antioch. But that antient patriarchate being now nearly extinct, and incompetent to the appointment of learned men; the christian church in Malayala looks henceforth to Britain, for the continuance of that light, which has shone so long in this dark region of the world.

From information given by the Syrian Christians, it would appear, that the churches of Mesopotamia and Syria (215 in number) with which they are connected, are struggling with great difficulties, and merely owe their existence to some deference for their antiquity; and that they might be expected soon to flourish

• Malayala comprehends the mountains and the whole region within them, from Cape Comorin to Cape Illi. Whereas the province of Malubar, commonly so called, contains only the northern districts; not including the country of Travancore.

lourish again, if favoured with a ittle support. It would be worthy he church of England to aid the hurch of Antioch in her low estate. The church of England is now, what he church of Antioch once was. The mode in which aid can be best afforded to Christians under a foreign Dower in the East, is not chiefly by contributions of money, but by reresenting to those governments with which we may have friendly interourse, that these Christians are of he same religion with ourselves, and hat we are desirous that they should e respected. The argument from be sameness of religion is well unlerstood by all Asiatic princes, and an never fail when seriously proosed; for they think it both natural nd obligatory that every governnent should be interested in those vho are of its own religion. There re two circumstances which invite is to turn our eyes to the country of the first generations of men." The olerant spirit of the Wahabian Maomedans is a fair prognostic, and romises to aid our endeavours to estore to an antient community of Christians the blessings of knowledge nd religious liberty. Another faourable circumstance is, that some of the churches in Mesopotamia, in ne of which the patriarch of Anoch now resides, are said still to emain in their pristine state, and to ave preserved their archives and ncient manuscript libraries. A donestic priest of the patriarch, now in Cochin, vouches for the truth of this act. We know from authentic hisory, that the churches between the Rivers escaped the general desolation of the Mahomedan conquest in the th century, by joining arns with he Mahomedans against the Greek christians, who had been their op

pressors. The revival of religion and letters in that once highly-favoured land, in the heart of the antient world, would be, in the present circumstances of mankind, an auspicious event.

The Syrian christians in Malayala still use the Syriac language in their churches; but the Malayalim, or proper Malabar (a dialect distinct from the Tamul) is the vernacular tongue. They have made some attempts to translate the Syriac scriptures into Malayalim; but have not hitherto had the suitable means of effecting it. When a proposal was made of sending a Malayalim translation to each of their fifty-five churches as a standard-book, on condition that they would transcribe it and circulate the copies among the people, the elders replied, that so great was the desire of the people in general to have the bible in the vulgar tongue, that it might be expected that every man who could write, would make a copy on ollas (palm-leaves) for his own family.

It ought to be mentioned to the praise of the present bishop of the Romish church on the coast of Malabar, that he has consented to the circulation of the Scriptures throughout his diocese. The Malayalim translation acquires from this circumstance an increased importance; since there will be now upwards of 200,000 christians in Malayala, who are ready to receive it. The translation of the New Testament (which it is proposed to print first) has already commenced under the superintendance of the Syrian bishop. The true cause of the low state of religion amongst the Romish churches on the sea-coast, and in Ceylon, is their want of the bible. It is doubtful whether some of the priests know that such a book

exists.

exists. It is injurious to christianity in India, to call men christians, who know not the scriptures of their religion; they might as well be called by any other name. Oral instruction they have none, even from their European priests. The best effects may therefore be expected from the simple means of putting the bible into their hands. All who are well acquainted with the natives, know that instruction by books is best suited to them. They are in general a contemplative people, and patient in their enquiries: curious also to know what it can be, that is of importance enough to be written; at the same time that they regard written precept with respect. If they possess a book in a language which they understand, it will not be left long unread. In Tanjore and other places where the bible is freely given, the protestant religion flourishes, and produces the happiest effects on the character of the people. In Tanjore, the christian virtues will be found in exercise, by the feeble-minded Hindoo, in a vigour and purity, which will surprize those who have never known the native character but under the greatest disadvantages. On the Sunday, the people, habited in their best apparel, repair to the parish church; where the solemnity of their devotion in accompanying the public prayers, is truly impressive. They sing the old psalm-tunes well; and the voice of the full congregation may be heard at a distance. Prayers ended, they listen to the serevidently with deep attention; have they any difficulty in unstanding it, for they almost all,

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both men and women, can read ther bible. Many of them take down the discourse on ollas, that they may read it afterwards to their families home*. As soon as the minister hus pronounced his text, the sound of the iron style on the palm-leaf, is beard throughout the congregation. Eva the boys of the schools have the ollas in their hands, and may be seen after divine service reading them to their mothers, as they pass over the fields homewards. This aptitude of the people to receive and to record the words of the preacher, renders it peculiarly necessary that "the priest's lips should keep knowledge." Upon the whole, the moral conduct, upright dealing, decorous manners, and decent dress of the native protestants of Tanjore, demonstrate the powerful influence and peculiar excellence of the christian religion. It ought however to be observed, that the bible, when the reading of it be comes general, has nearly the same effect on the poor of every place.

When the Syrian christians understood that the proposed Malayalım translation was to accord with the English bible, they desired to know on what authorities our translation had been made; alledging that they themselves possessed a version of undoubted antiquity, namely, that used by the first christians at Antioch; and that they could not depart from the reading of that version. This observation led to the investigation of the antient Syro-Chaldaic manuscripts in Malayala; and the enquiry has been successful beyond any expec tation that could have been formed. It had been commonly supposed

that

It is well known that the natives of Tanjore and Travancore can write down what is spoken deliberately, without losing one word. They seldom look at their ella while writing; and can write in the dark with fluency.

at all the Syriac manuscripts had en burned by the Romish church, the synod of Udamper near Coin, 1599. But it now appears that e most valuable manuscripts were ot destroyed. The inquisitors conmned many books to the flames; at they saved the bible. They were ontent with ordering that the Syriac riptures should be amended agree ly to the reading of the Vulgate of ome. And these emendations apear in black ink and of modern apearance, though made in 1599. ut many bibles and many other ooks were not produced at all. And the churches in the mountains emained but a short time subject to Romish dominion, if indeed they can e said to have been at any time subect to it; for the native governments ave ever formed a barrier between he inquisition at Goa and the chrisians in the mountains.

In the acts of the council of Nice, t is recorded that Joannes, bishop of ndia, signed his name at that counil, in A. D. 325. This date coresponds with the Syrian year 636; or the primitive Syrian church does not compute time from the christian era, but from Alexander the Great. The Syriac version of the scriptures was brought to India, according to he belief of the Syrians, before the ear 636; and they alledge that heir copies have ever been exact ranscripts of that version without known error, through every age, down to this day. There is no tralition among them of the churches in the southern mountains having ever been destroyed, or even molested. Some of their present copies are certainly of antient date. Though written on a strong thick paper (like that of some MSS. in the British museum, commonly called eastern

paper) the ink has, in several places, eat through the material in the exact form of the letter. In other copies, where the ink had less of a corroding quality, it has fallen off, and left a dark vestige of the letter, faint indeed, but not, in general, illegible. There is one volume found in a remote church of the mountains, which merits particular description. It contains the Old and New Testaments, engrossed on strong vellum, in large folio, having three columus in the page; and is written with beautiful accuracy. The character is Estrangelo Syriac; and the words of every book are numbered. This volume is illuminated, but not after the European manner; the initial letters having no ornament. Prefixed to each book there are figures of principal scripture characters (not rudely drawn), the colours of which are distinguishable; and in some places the enamel of the gilding is preserved. But the volume has suffered injury from time or neglect, some of the leaves being almost entirely decayed. In certain places the ink has been totally obliterated from the page, and has left the parchment in its natural whiteness; but the letters can, in general, be distinctly traced from the impress of the pen, or from the partial corrosion of the ink. The Syrian church assigns to this manuscript a high antiquity; and alledges that it has been for some centuries in the possession of their bishops, and that it was industriously concealed from the Romish inquisition in 1599. But its true age can only be ascertained by a comparison with old manuscripts in Europe of a similar kind. On the margin of the drawings are some old Roman and Greek letters, the form of which may lead to a conjecture respecting

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