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meadows of an ecclesiastical Liberia. If the fare with which they were furnished in the new religious republic was ridiculed by their enemies as "ash cake," it was to them more than the wheat bread upon which they were starved in their previous connection. The food now dispensed to them was to their souls the very bread of life.
But there are many drawbacks to this imperium in imperio. It grew out of a temporary and local necessity, and, like all such products, must be partial and limited in its influence. Does it not become this most honorable and useful body—this first-born of African Churches—this pledge and proof of Africa's future evangelization—to inquire whether they may not increase their efficiency and even develop their central strength by taking a wider, deeper, and more practical interest in the land of their fathers, in their kith and kin in Africa? Their system is capable of indefinite development in the vast and unoccupied field which this continent presents. The message to them, as a Church of Christ, is, "Go ye into all the world;" —riot only over the United States,'from California to New York and from. New England to Texas, but to "regions beyond," especially to the lost sheep of their own race. Their talents, it occurs to us, are not as useful and as profitable as they might be made. This is a drawback and a mistake. If it be sinful to wrap our talent in a napkin and hide it in the earth, it is only one degree less sinful so to handle it as to make it yield twofold only where it might yield ten. We arc persuaded, however, that it is not the courage they lack for the work, but conviction. The same self-control and self-reliance, the same energy and independence, which led to the founding of the African Churches in the United States would readily, if there were earnest conviction on the subject, sacrifice the charms of home, the comforts of civilization, the aesthetic and sensuous attractions of an enlightened country, for the labors and toils and privations of the wilderness. They are quite equal to, and have shown themselves worthy of, the great achievement of taking possession of the whole valley of the Niger for Christ. Let them arise and come, and they will find in the home of their widowed parent that "the barrel of meal will not waste, nor will the cruse of oil fail." Freedom from restraint ought not to be our ultimate and final object, but Freedom To WoeShip God: and the desire for such freedom is, in certain aspects of the subject, among the happiest of the popular instincts of the negro race.
It is remarkable that the message which Moses was commanded to bear to the tyrant Pharaoh was not "Let my jieople go that they may be free" but "Let my people go that they may serve Me." As long as they remained in a strange country under a foreign race they could not render that service for which they were fitted, and which God requires of every man. They could not serve the Lord with their "whole heart," the undiminished fullness of their nature, in carrying out the purposes of their being. "How could they sing the Lord's song in a strange land?" Their race impulses and instincts were hampered, confused, and impaired. So with the negro in America. Although their gatherings, of whatever nature, are usually marked and enlivened by a stream of religious feeling which Continually flows with a rapid and sometimes boisterous current, still they cannot fully know God in that land, for they see him through the medium of others. Here and there there may be a " Caleb, who has another spirit within him, and follows the Lord fully;" but the masses are distracted by the disturbing media. The body, soul, and spirit do not work in harmony. The religious passions are predominant in their influence among them, and they show "a co-operaj;ive and successful energy in ecclesiastical organizations; but in their political struggles there is no attempt at any logical or reasoned solution of their difficulties. "The negro," says Rev. Joseph Cook, "has gone to the wall in Mississippi, in spite of having a majority there and the suffrage. And he is likely to go to the wall in South Carolina. He is going to the wall even where he has a majority; and his inferiority in politics results from his lack of education" —such an education as he can never receive in America. Biit let him be delivered from the restraints of his exile; let him be set free from the stocks that now confine him, and he will not only arise and walk, but he will point out the way to his eminent success, which, in his particular line, only he can find out, and which he must find out for himself. He will discover the central point from which the lines may be easily and infallibly drawn to all the points of the circle in which he is to move effectively in the true work of his race for his own elevation and the advantage of the rest of mankind He will prove that what in African history and character seems nebulous confusion is really a firmament of stars. There are stars, astronomers tell us, whose light has not yet reached the earth; so there arc stars in the moral universe yet to be disclosed by the unfettered African, which he must discover before he will be able to progress without wandering into perilous seas and suffering serious injury. Let him, then, return to the land of his fathers, and
ACQUAINT HIMSELF WITH GOD, AND BE AT PEACE.
Art. VI—THE GREAT EPIC OF INDIA.
The Ramayan of Valmiki Translated into English Verse. By Ralph T. H. GrifFith, M.A., Principal of the Benares College. Five vols. London: Trubner 5 Co. Benares: E. J. Lazarus & Co. 1870-1874.
The Ramayan of Tvhi Das. Translated by F. S. Growsk, M.A., B. C. S. Book I, Childhood. Allahabad: North-western Provinces Government Press. 1877.
In an article on " Dante" in a former number of this Review, the author wrote: "We count but four as having in the course of literature risen to the first class of epic poets—Homer, Virgil, Dante, and Milton* .... The 'Iliad,' the '^Eneid,' the 'Vision,' and 'Paradise Lost' exhaust our catalogue." f To. these must be added the illustrious name of Valmiki, and in this catalogue a place not the lowest must be given to the "Ramayan."
The hero of this poem is Rama or Ram Chandra, the seventh incarnation of Vishnu, (the*Preserver in the Hindu Triad ;) and, although he was born as other men are, and sinned as other men do, still he was a wonderful personage; as the Hindus recount, " virtuous, heroic, firm, true, grateful, good, kind, bounteous, and holy, just, and wise," comparable with " Sun, Moon, Indra, Vishnu, Fire, and Air." Of the ten incarnations of Vishnu Ram Chandra is by far the most popular, and the hold he has upon the hearts of this hero-loving nation can hardly be over-estimated. In every part of the country "RamRam!" is a common term of salutation; by river's bank and under the peepuPs shade devotees sit days at a time repeating, from dawn till dark, " Ram-Ram! Ram-Ram !." The Janam
* Methodist Quarterly Review, January, 18S2, p. 50. f Ibid., p. 51.
Aslhan, or place of his birth at Ajudhiya, is daily visited by hosts of pilgrims, (as are the other places scattered here and there over India made famous by some connection with the great hero;) and when, but the other day, the native troops were leaving the Bombay harbor for Malta, the enthusiastic cheers which arose from the dark-hued soldiers were not "Long live the Queen!" "Three cheers for the Empress!" (Kaizar i Hind,) but " Ram Rajah Ki Jai!" "Ram Chandra Ki Jai!" (Hurrah for King Ram Chandra—Victory to Ram!)
The truly surprising popularity of' the poem and its hero is also seen in the " Ram Lila," (Ram's Festival,) held annually at the close of September or early in October. This festival is observed throughout the country, and continues for a fortnight. During these happy days the chief parts of the " Ramayan" are acted, and the principal adventures of Ram are brought to the notice of the Hindu public. It is an open-air theater, attended day after day by enthusiastic millions. In the larger cities,, like Lucknow, Cawnpore, and Benares, great preparations are made, large sums of money expended, and a corresponding amount of enthusiasm enkindled. It is not unusual for a wealthy Hindu to spend thousands of dollars upon a single entertainment of this kind. A large garden or other walled inclqsure is selected; in this tents are pitched to represent the hostile camps of Ram and Ravan. Trees are set out; rivers are made; in short, the place.becomes a miniature Hindustan from Ajudhiya to Ceylon. The actors who are hired for the occasion are dressed to represent the various characters of the poem, including even the monkeys. The play begins with the childhood of Ram, and progresses day after day until the climax is reached in the slaying Ravan and burning his city by the hero. It is pantomimic, and a loud-voiced pundit marches up and down in front of the spectators, keeping them acquainted with the progress of the play. Thousands of people, men, women, and children, all dressed as well and brightly as possible, laughing and chatting in the happiest manner, climb the garden walls, look down from the tops of surrounding houses, crowd the verandas of adjacent buildings, or stand in deep ranks around, the extensive stage. The scene, with its indescribable eclat, is most interesting to look upon, and dwells long and pleasantly in one's memory. In smaller cities the representation is on a more limited scale; but every-where, in oily, town, and hamlet, Ram's Festival is celebrated—as it has been for at least more than a score of centuries.
The subject of the " Ramayan " is, as the name implies, the life and adventures of Ram.* In this respect it is a true epic, and 'well planned. Various conjectures have been made as to the date of the events (real or imaginary) related in the poem. Sir William Jones places Ram Chandra in the year 2029 B. C, Tod in 1100, Bentley in 950, Gorresio in the 13th century B. C. The last named scholar, in the introduction to his edition of the " Ramayan," adduces a number of arguments in favor of the great antiquity of the poem, but these are hardly of convincing power. Perhaps a more proper estimate is the following, found in the fiftieth volume of the " Westminster Review:"
We are ignorant of the date of the poem, or rather of the era to which its older parts belong. Probably Valmiki and Homer were contemporaries ; perhaps the Hindu was the earlier of the two, and sang his song while that Ilion was a reality which to Homer rose in the background of two or three generations. Our limits forbid us to enter into any detailed proof, nor, indeed, could any be quite satisfactory. The best arguments for its age are found in the poem itself, and the habits and manners which it describes. Thus, the burning of widows on the funeral piles of their husbands, which the Greeks describe as an old custom when Alexander invaded India, B. C. 327, is utterly unknown in the "Ramayana," and one fact like this speaks volumes. In such poems as the " Ramayana " and the " Iliad " we instinctively feel that they belong to the earlier world : we enter them as we enter a house in Pompeii—the colors may still seem fresh and no mark of decay remind us of their age, but we feel that they belong not to us or ours, and a gulf pf ages lies between us and our objects.
The poem appears to have undergone two distinct revisions, one in Benares and the other in Bengal; the former, as is generally allowed by European scholars, is the more genuine. The Bengal recension has been translated into Italian (by Gorresio) and into French, (by M. Fauche ;) but, until the appearance of the volumes before us, there had been no English version of either recension. In the years 1805-10 Carey and Marshman, the illustrious missionaries of Serampore, published the text and English translation of two books and a half, (the poem consists * From Rama and ayaiia.'