Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 07.djvu/189

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
Buchanan
Buchanan
183

effects of the depressing climate. In 1799 he was transferred to a presidency chaplaincy, and shortly afterwards was appointed vice provost of the college established by Lord Wellesley at Fort Willian. One of the earliest duties which Buchanan was called upon to discharge as presidency chaplain was that of preaching a sermon before the governor-general and the principal officers of the government on the occasion of a general thanksgiving for the successes achieved in the late war in Mysore. For this sermon Buchanan received the thanks of the governor-general in council, and it was directed to be printed and circulated throughout India.

During the next few years Buchanan was much occupied with his duties as vice-provost of the college, and with the question of promoting the formation of a more adequate ecclesiastical establishment for India. Regarding the college he appears to have entertained views assigning to it a wider scope than was generally ascribed to it, although not more comprehensive than that indicated in the minute of Lord Wellesley on the establishment of the college. His opinion was that it had been founded to ‘enlighten the oriental world, to give science, religion, and pure morals to Asia, and to confirm in it the British power and dominion;’ and this was the aim he continually set before him, The college continued in existence for many years, but in 1807 the appointment of vice-provost was discontinued, and the staff of teachers, and also the work, were reduced within narrower limits than Lord Wellesley had contemplated. Although, as a chaplain of the company, Buchanan was in a great measure debarred from engaging directly in missionary operations, he laboured zeulously and in various ways for the promotion of christianity and education among the natives of India. Outof his own means, which his emolumeuts as vice-provost of the college for a time rendered comparatively easy, he offered liberal money prizes to the universities and to some of the public schools ofthe United Kingdom for essays and poetical compositions in Greek, Latin, and English, on ‘the restoration of leaming in the East,' on ‘the best means of civilising the subjects of the British empire in India, and of diffusing the light of the christian religion throughout the Eastern world,’ and on other similar topics. The college had originally comprised a department for translating the scriptures into the languages of India, and the tirst version of the gospels into the Persian and Hindustani languages, which was printed in India, had issued from the college press. When this department was abolished, Buchanan, from his private purse, paid the salary of an Armenian christian, a native of China, who was employed for three years at the missionary establishment at Serampore in translating the scriptures into Chinese. But perhaps the most important services in connection with the propagation of christianity in India in which Buchanan was engaged were his tours through the south and west of India, undertaken for the purpose of investigating the state of superstition at the most celebrated temples of the Hindus, examinin the churches and libraries of the ltomish, Syrian, and protestant christians, ascertainingthc present state and recent history of the astern Jews, and discovering what persons might be fit instruments for the promotion of learning in their respective countries, and for maintaining a future correspondence on the subject of disseminating the scriptures in India. (Christian Researches in Asia, by the Rev. Claudius Buchanan, D.D., ed. 1840, p. 4). The first of these tours received the sanction of the Marquis of Wellesley just before his departure from India, and an account of it and also of the second tour was embodied in the above-mentioned work, which Buchanan published shortly after his return to England in 1811. In the first tour he visited the celebrated temple of Jagannath, some of the temples in the northern districts of Madras, Madras itself, and the missions in Tanjore, Trichinopoly, Madara, Ceylon, Travanoore, and Cochin, from which latter place he returned to Calcutta in March 1807. At the end of that year he started on a second tour, in the course of which he revisited Ceylon and Cochin, and touched at Goa and several other places between Cochin and Bombay, whence he embarked for England in March 1808, after a residence in lndia of eleven years.

His account of these tours is extremely interesting, especially thossparts of it which relate to his intercourse with the Syrian christians in Travaucore and Cochin, and the narrative of his visit to the inrpiisition at Goa. The result of his visit to this part of India, in addition to the information which it enabled him to supply, was a translation of the New Testament into Malayalam, the language of the British district. of Malabar and of the native states of Travancorc and Cochin.

The remaining years of Buchanan's life, after his return to England in 1808, were spent in active efforts to promote the objects upon which he had been chieiiy engaged while in India. He took a prominent part in the struggle in 15413 which resulted in the establishment of the Indian episcopacy.