Chapter XIV. The Diocese of Bombay, 1837 Bishops.
1. Thomas Carr, consecrated 1837; resigned 1851.
2. John Harding, consecrated 1851; resigned 1868; died 1874.
3. Henry Alexander Douglas, consecrated 1868; died 1876.
4. Louis George Mylne, consecrated 1876; resigned 1898.
5. James Macarthur, consecrated 1898; resigned 1903.
6. Walter Ruthven Pym, consecrated Bishop of Mauritius 1893; transferred 1903; died 1908.
7. Edwin James Palmer, consecrated 1908.
Books of Reference.--Rev. E. E. Hill's History of the Chaplains' Department in Western India; Father Elwin's Thirty-four Years in Poona City; Father Elwin's Thirty-nine Years in Bombay; Father Elwin's India and the Indians; Digest of S.P.G.; Eugene Stock's History of the Church Missionary Society.
OUR knowledge of the early history of the Bombay Diocese is unfortunately very limited. In a little book called The Chaplains' Department in Western India, the Rev. E. E. Hill has told us just enough to make it clear that Bombay needs some one who has plenty of time and the necessary gifts to work up its old records. It is to be regretted, too, that no memoirs were ever written of any of the first six Bishops of Bombay. A glimpse of the diary of Bishop Douglas certainly makes one wish that some memoir had been written of him.
One welcomes, therefore, all the more the delightful description of the Diocese of Bombay as it now is, which the present Bishop has given us.
"Coming from England you arrive at Bombay, a city of very nearly a million inhabitants crowded on an island; its harbour rivalling in beauty the Bay of Naples, its atmosphere resembling the fern house in Kew Gardens, its factories pouring smoke over the whole, reminding one of Manchester. The problems of the industrial revolution repeat themselves in Bombay, and its lessons are very little heeded. Tides of unskilled labour flow into the city from the uplands and the lowlands and ebb back to their ancestral fields. The men and women of the Deccan uplands perish by hundreds from the unaccustomed climate and insanitary conditions of Bombay. Many of our Christians from the Deccan come here for work in ordinary times--very huge numbers in famine times--and the difficult duty devolves on our Clergy and other workers of finding these poor people and keeping them from harm and temptation. The factories and mills are many of them under English superintendence, mainly from Lancashire. Then the banks and mercantile houses bring many Scotsmen and Englishmen into Bombay. The ocean-going steamers bring sailors to the port. The British Army is represented in the garrison. British Administration is represented in the Headquarters of the Government and in the High Court. Go to the centre of the town, and you will find the resident Anglo-Indian population, filling honourably subordinate posts or struggling with poverty in slums more sordid than those of London. Then imagine the great Indian population of every creed and caste, and the foreign colonies of Japanese, Chinese, Africans, Arabs, and Mesopotamian Jews. Surely a unique city.
"Now take a train, travel a little over one hundred miles, ascending two thousand feet to the Deccan plateau. The scene, the climate, the people, the conditions, are all changed. The air is dry, the nights cool at any time of the year: the temperature never above 109°". But this is not the greatest difference. We have passed into the old India of the village Life, hardly changed through the centuries, except that the village walls are crumbling away, for they are unneeded in the British peace. It is a country of farmers, and it is from this class that the famous Mahratta troops were drawn which distinguished themselves as much as any troops in the Great War. Yet it is no fertile land which they farm. Through the north-east portion of it runs the strip of country which forms the extreme limit of the influence of the South-west and of the North-east monsoons, and it is not infrequently missed by both. This is the cause of the frequent famines in the Ahmednagar district. The two years, 1920 and 1921, both brought complete famine to that district, and the next year was but little better. In this district Christianity has made great progress, chiefly among the outcastes. Some 8000 of them belong to our Church. No one who has not seen it can imagine the effect which is produced upon a class of men by being considered and treated as lower than beasts for hundreds of years. From this abysmal darkness in which Hinduism plunged them and kept them, Christianity is gradually raising them.
"From Poona, the capital of the Bombay Deccan, we travel south for two or three hundred miles, and reach a softer, more fertile country, and find in it a quite different race, the Canarese, a Dravidian stock, akin to the Tamils and Telugus of South India. In the midst of this country is Hubli, where is the Criminal Tribes Settlement, which will be mentioned presently.
"The Cantonments of Poona, Kirkee, Ahmednagar, Deolali, and Belgaum are situated on this Deccan plateau.
"Bombay Presidency is a strategic point in several ways. Most people know the names of Gokhale, Tilak, and Gandhi. They were all born in this Presidency, and most of their life's work was done here. The two first-named belong to a small sub-caste of Brahmans, the Chitpavans, which can fairly claim to have produced, in proportion to its numbers, more able men than any other community in India. Mr. Paranjpye, a former Wrangler, now Minister of Education in the Bombay Government, belongs to the same community. Mr. Gandhi belongs by birth to the merchants of Gujerat. Progress and revolution have their cradles in this Presidency. Mr. Gokhale's Society, the Servants of India, a company of men who bound themselves together to educate their contrymen, and never to take more than the barest subsistence salary, is a standing witness to India of patriotic self-sacrifice applied to modern conditions. All this exemplifies the spiritual importance of Bombay.
"But the races which are domiciled here with their variety and far-reaching connections make another of its claims to consideration. The main languages are Marathi and Gujerati. The Mahrattas, said to be originally Scythians, distinguished themselves by the obdurate and at last successful resistance to the great Mahomedan Emperors, of which the heroic name was Sivaji, a contemporary of Oliver Cromwell. In the next century they overran a great part of India and sacked Delhi. Under the century of British rule which followed 1818, they turned their extraordinary tenacity and perseverance into a struggle with the poor soil of this often famine-stricken land. Then in the Great War they emerged as among the best of all the troops who sailed from India. Last November they gave the Prince of Wales a cordial and genuine welcome when he laid the foundation-stone of the Sivaji Memorial at Poona. These slow, sturdy, persevering farmers are the backbone of the Presidency. They have a literature of which they may well be proud. English readers have lately had offered them a taste of that literature in Dr. McNicol's Hymns of the Maratha Saints. On the other side is the Gujerati people, rich and prosperous: great traders, who have penetrated even into East Africa. Their title to fame is that they have kept alive the reform of Hinduism called Jainism, while its contemporary and more famous reform, Buddhism, has been driven out of the country. On the north of the diocese the Rajput races link us with the languages and the martial spirit of Northern India. On the south of the diocese the Canarese are Dravidians, and in language and race are kindred to the Tamils and Telugus. In Bombay and Southern Gujerat is the Indian home of the Parsees. All these races are domiciled in the diocese. As for immigrants, they are innumerable. Thus Bombay is racially a centre of great importance.
"Yet another point which gives Bombay a central importance is its trade. This is not in the hands of one community. There are millionaires among the Parsees, Mahomedans, Hindus, and Jews. There are great English and Scottish and Greek firms taking part in it. The large mill area of Bombay raises anew all the problems of the industrial revolution, intensified by the constant coming and going of labour from and to the country districts. Gigantic hydro-electric schemes propose to create large industrial areas a little south of Bombay in a far more trying climate.
"To whatever side of human life one turns, one finds the Bombay Presidency making striking contributions to India. In matters intellectual and spiritual, in the politics whether of reform or of revolution, industrial progress and industrial difficulties, it can claim to have the leadership."
When we turn from this description of the Bombay Presidency and Diocese to its past history, we notice at once how closely the life of the diocese and that of the Presidency have run side by side. The first Archdeacon of Bombay was appointed just about the time when the greater portion of the dominions of the Mahratta Peshwa passed into the hands of the British. The Bombay Presidency, as we now have it, reached its present size about the time of the appointment of the first Bishop of Bombay. Barnes, the first Archdeacon of Bombay, was a man of great energy and earnestness. He had been a College friend of Bishop Heber. During his period no less than five Churches were built at Surat, Thana, Kaira, Poona, and Baroda: all of which were consecrated by his friend Bishop Heber during his visit to Bombay in 1824. Archdeacon Barnes was succeeded in the Archdeaconry by Thomas Carr, who in the year 1837 was consecrated first Bishop of Bombay. When he resigned, fourteen years later, he had served in India as Chaplain, Archdeacon, and Bishop for thirty-four years, and had only once visited England during that period, and that visit was for his Consecration. He must have been a fine-looking man, judging by his recumbent statue in Bombay Cathedral, and he certainly had a magnificent constitution. To have endured the Bombay climate for thirty-four years without any of the amenities of life, punkahs, ice and hill stations, which we now enjoy, was a rare thing in those bygone days. When Chaplain of Surat in his early days, he felt it his duty to report to Archdeacon Barnes a strange ceremony which he had witnessed, which certainly would not be tolerated to-day. The Archdeacon reported the matter to Government in the following letter:--
"Mr. Carr represents that the British residents at Surat are annually called on to join in certain religious ceremonies of the natives, which, at all times repugnant to the pious feelings of a Christian, when falling on a Sunday (as it did this year) necessarily compel them to violate the direct ordinances of the Christian Sabbath. . . . The festival to which he referred was Cocoanut Day, when it was the duty of the Chief of the Factory to throw the first cocoanut into the water. He was attended by the Magistrates, the Collector and other officers, and three salutes were fired by the artillery."
During Bishop Carr's Episcopate Churches were built at Kirkee, Ahmedabad, and Mahableshwar. When he resigned, in 1851, he was succeeded by the Rev. John Harding, who presided over the Diocese of Bombay for seventeen years. During his time the Church of St. John the Evangelist at Colaba, better known as the Afghan Memorial Church, was built and consecrated. It is one of the finest Churches in India, built of stone, Early English in style, with a tapering spire 210 feet high, which stands out splendidly as a landmark on the Colaba promontory. Bishop Harding was greatly interested in the Anglo-Indian community, and during his time a school for Anglo-Indian boys was started at Poona, which is still known as Bishop's School.
Probably the most missionary-minded of the early Bishops of Bombay was Henry Alexander Douglas. During his period and at his invitation the Fathers of St. John the Evangelist at Cowley were led to take up missionary work in the Bombay Diocese. The plans which he laid down for missionary work in the diocese make it clear that he was a man of statesmanlike vision. After a short Episcopate of eight years, which terminated with a fatal illness, he was succeeded by Louis George Mylne, whose Episcopate lasted twenty-one years in Bombay.
Bishop Mylne was considered a very able preacher and lecturer, and during his period the work of the diocese went forward steadily. Shortly after his arrival the Community of St. Mary the Virgin at Wantage, Berkshire, sent out a body of Sisters to assist in Church work at Poona. Within a year of their arrival, the Community of All Saints at St. Albans also sent out a somewhat similar number of Sisters to work in the city of Bombay itself. Both these Sisterhoods have now been working in India for over forty years and have everywhere won for themselves golden opinions. The Wantage Sisters are engaged in various kinds of work, educational and industrial, for the most part in Poona, and have charge of the nursing arrangements of the Sassoon Hospital in Poona. The All Saints' Sisters are responsible for the Cathedral School for Girls in Bombay, as well as for the nursing arrangements at the Jamsetji Hospital. They have also a delightful school for girls at Khandala on the Bombay Ghats. The Wantage Sisters have charge of the St. Mary's Home, Bangalore, where five Sisters are caring for rescue and preventive cases from all parts of India.
When Bishop Mylne retired he was succeeded by the Right Rev. James Macarthur, who presided over the See for a period of five years. On his resignation owing to ill health, he was appointed Bishop of Southampton, an Assistant-Bishop in the Diocese of Winchester. He was succeeded by Bishop Pym, who had been consecrated Bishop of Mauritius a few years previously. His Episcopate, like Bishop Macarthur's, lasted but for five years. The last few months of his life were clouded by severe domestic grief, coupled with a most unfortunate controversy with a section of his Clergy, on questions of ritual which compelled the Metro-. politan of India to hold a Court of Inquiry, when the matters in dispute were fortunately settled. Both Bishop Macarthur and Bishop Pym had been excellent parish priests before they came to India, and had studied carefully the best methods of parochial work, so that although their Episcopates lasted but for a short time, they did a work for the Church, especially in Bombay City, which is of lasting value.
On the death of Bishop Pym, Edwin James Palmer, Fellow and Chaplain of Balliol College, Oxford, was appointed the seventh Bishop of Bombay. A man of fine scholarship and statesmanlike vision, he has, during the fifteen years of his Episcopate, brought forward the work of the Church in his diocese in a remarkable way. Largely through his initiative and ability, a system of Diocesan and Provincial Councils has been adopted by the Anglican Church in India.
Missionary work in the Bombay Diocese goes back to its earliest days as a diocese. The Church Missionary Society was the first of our Church Societies to enter this field, which they did in 1820. "In 1855 a remarkable memorial was sent to the Church Missionary Society, signed by the Bishop (John Harding), the Archdeacon, Admiral Sir Henry Leeke, Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Navy, Mr. (afterwards Sir) Bartle Frere, Commissioner of Sindh, six other high Government officials, ten less prominent officials, eleven merchants, and seven Chaplains."
This memorial said: "We plead on behalf of fifteen millions of the unevangelised natives of this land. . . . We grant that conversions are yet few; but the preparatory work is steadily advancing; inquiry spreads; missionaries are welcomed. Everything invites to fresh efforts. The Lord is assuredly calling us to preach the Gospel unto this people, and we venture therefore to add, in the language of urgent solicitation with the Society, 'Arise, for this matter belongeth unto thee, we also will be with thee; be of good courage, and do it.' "
Unfortunately, the Society were unable to respond to this touching appeal, and their Western India Mission, like their Missions in the Central Provinces, have never been on the same scale as those in Northern and Southern India. The chief centres of their work in the Bombay Diocese have been in Bombay City, at Nasik, Malegaon, Aurangabad, and Poona. To Canon Joshi we owe the following account of their past history: "Till the beginning of this century the main work of the Society in the city of Bombay was confined to education, the care of an English congregation, and pastoring the struggling Marathi congregation at Girgaum. A mission was carried on for several years among Mahomedans with varied success. By at least two devoted men efforts were made to reach Parsees and educated Hindus. The Robert Money School was founded in memory of a godly and well-respected civilian--Robert Money--and was placed under the Society's charge. A scholar of Trinity College, Cambridge, the Rev. G. M. Valentine, came out as its first Principal. Jerrom, Galbraith, Cars, Jackson, Bren, and others followed Valentine. The names of Cars and Jackson have been familiar with old students. The Rev. Jain Ali, who conducted a unique hostel for boys, was also associated with these two men in the conduct of the Money School. The late Rev. Sorabji was brought to Christ under the influence of Valentine. Very few converts have come from this school, but it is difficult to gauge the far-reaching results of faithful Christian teaching and influence. The girls' boarding and day schools, after an existence of nearly half a century, have developed into the present "Immanuel Girls' High School," where many devoted missionary ladies have been toiling with great success. At one time a large number of schools for girls were conducted in the city, under the fostering care of a Miss White, locally connected. The patient labours of the late Miss Trott and the now retired Miss Campbell (although connected with the Z.B.M. they worked hand in hand with the Marathi Mission) resulted in many conversions among the Beni-Israelites.
"With all these agencies, direct evangelistic work, twenty years ago, was represented by a single catechist, who worked among the servants of Europeans. Since the Indian Church took up the work a steady progress has been made. About 900 Indian Christians are connected with the Marathi and Gujerati congregations. The Indian District Church Council, with three Indian Clergy and aided by a good staff of evangelists, are carrying on vigorously both missionary and pastoral work. The Church Missionary Society now subsidises the Indian Church for carrying on these various operations.
"In 1838 Nasik was occupied. Farrar (the father of the famous Dean Farrar) and Dixon settled themselves in the city of Nasik. They were the pioneers of English education there. The missionary influence on this Benares of Western India has been such that nearly thirty-five Brahman converts have been baptised in the past. Nasik proved to be, for a long time, the cradle of our Western Indian Mission. In 1854, when the British Government handed over liberated African slaves to the mission, the Rev. W. Salter Price founded the Christian settlement of Sharanpur. For many years this city of refuge proved to be a city set on a hill. It was from here that the 'boys' who accompanied Dr. Livingstone were sent. It became a vigorous centre of higher education and industries. Subsequently this African Colony was removed to East Africa. This proved to be the first set-back to the work at Nasik. Then came Schwartz, with his practical German training. His idea was to make Sharanpur a self-contained Christian Colony. Farming and all other agencies that go to the completion of a village were set on foot. But while things were making rapid progress he suddenly died. This second set-back completely killed this idea. Henceforward, save for the orphanages and a few things connected with them, the Indian Christian had to go elsewhere, and except for the missionary and philanthropic work carried out in the city by Miss Harvey and her colleagues and also the efforts of an Indian Clergyman, Nasik has ceased to be an aggressive centre. However, the good it has done in the past has not been in vain. Almost all the past and present Indian Clergy connected with the C.M.S. can point to Nasik as their spiritual home.
"In 1870 the Rev. Rattanji Nowrohi was ordained and sent to Aurangabad (a British Camp in the Nizam's territory). The few Indian Christians there rallied round him. During the course of a quarter of a century between two and three thousand people were gathered into the Christian fold. After his retirement several European missionaries have entered on his labours. The work is full of promise. Many are knocking at the door. A good Christian agency is needed to take advantage of the open doors."
The work at Malegaon in Khandesh was very successful in early days. "The names of Menge and Rogers are associated with the early missionary efforts there." Later on Malegaon was given up, and Manmad has become the chief centre in this region. The Zenana Bible and Medical Mission has now a large girls' school at Manmad.
Of Poona we need say but little. It was occupied in 1882 by the Rev. R. A. Squires, one of two brothers who were well-known missionaries in the Bombay Diocese for twenty years. Mr. Squires started a Divinity School there. It has never been a really strong centre, and at the present time a European missionary, a Tamil pastor and a Marathi pastor compose its entire staff.
"The Mass Movement areas in the Nasik, Manmad, and Aurangabad districts are promising, and it will need all the energy the Mission can command to develop these areas. In the mean time the C.M.S. has wisely established Indian Church Councils for self-support and self-expansion on the same pattern as exists in the great missionary province of Tinnevelly. The object is to hand over responsibilities to the Indian Church wherever it comes to maturity, and to allow the missionaries to occupy the 'regions beyond.'"
The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel started their work in Bombay a generation later than the C.M.S. Ten years later, 1878, they opened work at Kolhapur, in the Bombay Deccan, and three years later at Ahmednagar, which is now their largest and most successful mission in the Bombay Diocese. Thanks to Canon King, we have been able to learn a good deal of their chief mission work at Ahmednagar. Bishop Douglas had urged the establishment of a chain of mission stations in the Marathi country, beginning at Poona. Originally the plan was that wherever there was a Chaplain ministering to the Europeans, there should also be a missionary to work amongst non-Christians. At Ahmednagar mission work was begun in 1869 by the Chaplain, the Rev. H. W. Bagnell, with the assistance of a young man named Sevakrao Gaikvad. Mr. Bagnell superintended the work from 1869 to 1873, opening a small school not far from the English Church. As the work appeared promising, Bishop Douglas transferred the Rev. Thomas Williams from Kolhapur to Ahmednagar. "When Mr. Williams arrived in Ahmednagar early in 1873, the American Con-gregationalists' Mission, which had been at work in the city for over fifty years, strongly protested against mission work being started by our Church." Bishop Douglas's answer to their objection was very decided: "We, as a Church, have our own duties to the heathen and our own responsibilities, responsibilities from which nothing can deliver us, duties for which God and our own consciences will call us to account."
For quite a long time there was a considerable controversy in the Nonconformist papers about the raid of this "Welshman." "One cause of friction unquestionably was to be found in the fact that some of the schoolmasters and catechists from the Congregationalist Mission joined the S.P.G. They were apparently attracted by our religious services, which seemed to them more devotional than those of the Congregationalists."
Mr. Williams entered on his work with great earnestness, and in the first week of his tour baptised no less than fifty-five persons. Before the end of the year his congregation had increased to one hundred and sixteen. The conditions of work were by no means easy. The district of Ahmednagar at that time was very badly supplied with roads, and as the people whom Mr. Williams had baptised belonged to sixteen different villages, it was almost impossible with only one priest to secure regular administration of the Sacraments and the carrying out of the Church's system of Divine worship.
"In October, 1873, Bishop Douglas came on his first visit to the Mission. I do not think," so Canon King writes, "that Bishop Douglas's Life has ever been written, although he was a very noteworthy person and, as far as this diocese is concerned, our first missionary Bishop. He travelled in the utmost simplicity without tents, as Mr. Williams says in his first report, 'the Bishop having no tent or any other shelter than the sparse foliage of a tree riddled by the sunlight. ..." The villagers at Toka still point out a tree under which the Bishop slept.
"The Bishop first visited the small Mission established at Bhingar, and then accompanied Mr. Williams on a tour through the villages where there were these newly formed communities of the baptised. He visited Toka, Undirgao, Malunja, Belapur, Kendal, Rahuri, and Vambori. Altogether he administered the Sacrament of Confirmation to sixty people and admitted most of them to the Holy Communion, and so completed the foundation of a branch of Holy Church in the Ahmednagar Collectorate."
Unfortunately for the Mission, Mr. Williams was compelled to take sick leave to England after he had been at work for only eighteen months. In his place Bishop Douglas appointed the Rev. W. S. Barker, a young clergyman who had been at work in Poona. Mr. Barker was a character that much appealed to the Hindus. To quote from Canon King: "He was utterly other-worldly and would give away whatever he possessed with both hands.
"Mr. Williams was a glutton for work, but Mr. Barker was even more energetic. One of the old catechists told me of Mr. Barker waking him up in the middle of the night and walking with him from Nagar to Mohoji, a distance of about twenty-eight miles, in order to be present for the early morning service."
After Mr. Barker was withdrawn from Ahmednagar, this promising Mission was left without a missionary for some time, though Mr. Blunt, a Government Chaplain, did his best to superintend the work. Then for a time the Mission received a serious set-back. In the absence of any English missionary, "a Roman Catholic Bishop" visited Ahmednagar, and induced two catechists and sixteen other agents to leave the Communion of the Church of England. "He is reported to have baptised one hundred and fifty of our catechumens and to have received into the Roman Catholic Church a large number of our Christians." On hearing of this, Bishop Mylne at once despatched the Rev. J. Taylor to Ahmednagar, who in a short time received back a large number of the deserters. Then began a great period of expansion. Of Canon Taylor, his brother missionary, Canon King, writes: "He was the greatest evangelist this diocese has ever had, and his instructions were the more impressed on the minds of his flock by his holy and devout life." During the first ten months he baptised 1927 persons, and in addition to this admitted over 1500 as candidates for baptism. Many persons apparently condemned Mr. Taylor for his hasty baptisms. His defence was that "these people had long had the Gospel preached to them by different missionaries, and their faith in Hinduism had been shaken." He made a strong appeal for more men to help him in this forward movement, and for a time Father Goreh and several other clergymen came to his assistance. "Mr. Taylor's ascetic method of touring was beyond anything that we are accustomed to in these days. In my first tour with him he had no tents, and we used to put up in the Mahar Chavadis. All day Jong there were crowds of people round him, he never seemed to stop talking all day except for meals and a tub--the latter was not always feasible! . . . He seemed to have a special affection for Mahar Gosavis, there was nearly always one in his company. Our nights were always broken with the barking of dogs which swarm in most Maharwadas, and we were wakened very early, long before daylight, by the women beginning their grinding, which is usually accompanied by singing. Padre Taylor used to preach, or rather give instructions, at enormous length. Before baptism he would give a detailed exposition of the Creed, the Lord's Prayer and Ten Commandments, and no one was allowed to leave the instruction. Even when the numbers to be baptised exceeded a hundred he would say the whole of the words following 'We receive this child '. . . separately to each individual. My knowledge of Marathi was small, but even I could see how every word that Padre Taylor said was understood by his auditors; they would wag their heads and interrupt with questions, showing that they were following attentively all that was said."
From this time onwards the Ahmednagar Mission has gone forward steadily, until it has now a number of out-stations in various parts of the district and considerably more than 6000 converts. At Miri Mr. Winslow, one of the Mission staff, has established an "Ashram," where he is training in the religious life a number of young Indian Christians, who in future years will be priests and evangelists to their people. There is a splendid body of women workers in the Mission, with their headquarters at St. Monica's, in Ahmednagar. If I have dealt somewhat fully on the past history of this interesting Mission, it is because far too little is known of it, and one would hope that before long such a full account of it may be given as has been done in the case of other of our Indian Missions. To spend a few days at Ahmednagar, as was the present writer's good fortune a few months ago, would make any Christian enthusiastic about Missions. Certainly one cannot soon forget the Sunday morning Celebration at St. Saviour's Church, its huge number of communicants, its splendid congregational singing, and its atmosphere of reverence and devotion.
Of the work of the S.P.G. at Hubli, which deserves special mention, we are indebted to an interesting description given by the Bishop. "Wandering about India are many curious tribes classed by Government as Criminal, and reported to be so by the more settled people. They live in various ways: by hunting, by collecting forest produce, by coining and passing false coins, by systematic petty thieving. A member of the Indian Civil Service, Mr. 0. H. B. Starte, conceived the idea of reclaiming these people and getting them to settle down and adopt honest occupations. The task was not quite so difficult as might be expected, because the poor creatures were distrusted by all the villagers and harried by the police. Mr. Starte has now six or eight large settlements of these Criminal tribes. Neither he nor the Government thought it wise that this great effort should depend upon the life of one man. It was determined to hand over some of the settlements to different Missions, and the S.P.G. were offered and accepted the care of the settlement at Hubli, with about two thousand settlers. The ladies of that Mission, Miss Edwards and Miss Tickell, and more recently Miss Ward, have been so successful in their work that Mr. Starte now sends all the worst boys and girls from all his camps to Hubli. Mr. Bradbury of the S.P.G. is now the Superintendent of the Settlement, and he and his wife are guiding the educational work amongst these young savages. I can only say that in all the experiences of over thirty years in India, I have seen nothing more remarkable than this settlement at Hubli. About four hundred children are receiving instruction in the school and about six hundred of the grown-up Criminals are working either in the local cotton-mills or in the railway shops. During my visit to Hubli I confirmed, amongst others, one of the deer-stealing tribe, a lad of sixteen, a kind of firstfruits of this work. It is unquestionably a work which calls for great self-sacrifice on the part of its workers and it is an inspiration to see them at work and to note how they are winning their way to the hearts of these strange people."
Another remarkable piece of missionary work in the Bombay Diocese, which is, I believe, unique in India, is Canon Joshi's Converts' Home in Bombay. "Canon Joshi takes into the Home would-be converts, just when life is made intolerable for them by their relations. Many have been enabled by this Home to pass this terribly trying period in safety." When recently visiting the Home, the present writer had an opportunity of meeting quite a number of high-caste people whose conversion to Christianity had been made possible by this Home. It is an intensely interesting bit of work and it is all the more interesting when one remembers that it has been in part conceived and entirely carried out by an Indian clergyman.
Away to the north of Bombay, where Rajputana touches the Bombay native states, there was started many years ago a C.M.S. Mission amongst the Bhils. It was started largely through the influence of Bishop Bickersteth, of Exeter. Family reasons directed his attention very strongly to Kherwara, the headquarters of the Mewar Bhil Corps; and the Church Missionary Society, in response to his appeal, and a generous donation of £1000 which accompanied it, sent the Rev. C. S. Thompson to start work in that station and its neighbourhood. In those days Rajputana was a part of the Calcutta Diocese and the Mission was under the care of the Metropolitan of India. For years Mr. Thompson worked amongst the Bhils with but little or no result. He was in the habit of moving about the surrounding country and spending considerable periods of his time at Billadia and Lusadia. Then the tide began to turn, the suspicions of the Bhils began to die down, and Mr. Thompson had the joy of baptising some few converts. The great famine of 1900 visited these regions when the strength of this little Mission was taxed to the utmost. Mr. Thompson himself was in England when the famine started, in a Nursing Home, quite unfit for work. Hearing of the needs of his poor Bhils, he determined, against strong medical advice, to return at once to Bhil-land. Shortly after his return, while journeying through the country on his mission of mercy, endeavouring to get food to its starving people, he was attacked with cholera and died under a big tree, not far from Kherwara. A large stone on a cross now marks the place where this devoted servant of God passed away to the rest of Paradise.
When the Diocese of Nagpur was formed this Mission automatically passed into the care of the present writer. Then after twelve years or so, it was felt that the distance of Bhil-land from Nagpur was so great that from every point of view it was desirable to transfer it to the Bombay Diocese. This was the more natural because, though the Mission had started at Kherwara, it has gradually been developing into the Bombay native states.
During the Great War this Mission passed again through deep waters, the Rev. A. I. Birkett, its senior missionary, being drowned when crossing one of the rivers in flood, and Miss Bull, who had been for years a household word in that part of India, being drowned while returning from furlough when the P. & O. steamship Persia was torpedoed off Crete. "God buries Hia workmen, but carries on His work," and it is a happy thing to know that in spite of all its trials and sorrows the Bhil Mission is going on steadily, growing in numbers and gradually establishing a living Church amongst these wild and attractive people.
No account of the missionary work of the Bombay Diocese would be complete without some reference to the work which has been carried on for the last fifty years by the Fathers of St. John the Evangelist, Cowley. Father Benson, its founder, had for long wished to start mission work in India, and had himself been anxious to come out to the work. Various important reasons, however, made this impossible. At length, in response to invitations from both Bishop Milman and Bishop Douglas, he sent Father Page and Father Biscoe, who arrived in Bombay in 1874. They were followed a few months later by Father O'Neill. Father O'Neill did not continue long in Bombay. He had for some time felt a vocation to a life of even sterner asceticism than the rest of his brothers, and so, after a visit to Bishop Milman, he established himself at Indore, in Central India. Here he gathered round him a small body of disciples. The present writer has visited the little house in the Bazaar of Indore where this saintly recluse, an old Oxford rowing blue, lived for some years, and where he died. The owner of the house still regards it as more or less sacred. At times Father O'Neill would come and preach to the English congregation of St. Ann, Indore, to their delight and edification. His great friend, by whose side he is buried in the Indore Cemetery, was Aberich Mackay, the gifted author of Twenty-one Days in India.
The early days of the Cowley Fathers in Bombay were spent in the slums of a part of Bombay City called Sonapur. A year later they moved to another part of the city called Mazagaon. Before leaving India, Bishop Douglas put Father Page in charge of St. Peter's, Mazagaon, which gave him and the community a definite position in the city.
Things have changed since those early days, and the old house and the small Church at Mazagaon have given place to finer buildings and a far finer Church. Not that the Cowley Fathers desired the change, but as the land on which these earlier buildings stood was needed for other purposes and was purchased over their heads, they were compelled reluctantly to make the change. In their earlier days they were assisted by the Rev. J. H. Lord, an associate who had come out to work amongst the Bombay Jews. He lived and worked with them for many years until he was called to work elsewhere in the diocese.
The important Mission at Panch Howds, hi the city of Poona, has been for so long connected with the Cowley Fathers, that few now seem to recall the fact that it was started by the Rev. Benjamin Dulley. Father Dulley, as he is generally called, had come out to India as Chaplain to Bishop Mylne. For some time Bishop Mylne had been anxious to start missionary work in Poona City. On his securing a house close to five tanks (hence the name Panch Howds), Father Dulley went to live in it. Various reasons compelled him to leave India after only a short stay. On his return to England he connected himself with St. Peter's, London Docks, where he worked for over thirty years. During Father Dulley's short stay, Cecil Rivington, now a Canon of Bombay Cathedral, joined the Panch Howds Mission, and on Father Dulley's departure took over its charge which he held till 1894. Since then Canon Rivington has been working elsewhere in the diocese, and to-day, after forty-six years of unbroken service, is training young Indians for Ordination at Betgiri-Gadag. To have given India nearly fifty years of unbroken service without once going home carries one back in thought to the lif e of the great Schwartz in South India.
In 1882 the Cowley Fathers associated themselves definitely with the Mission at Panch Howds, and when Father Relton had gained the requisite experience he was put in charge. Since then it has been exclusively tjjeir Mission. The Cowley Fathers, as most people know, stand for "being" more than for "doing," and then1 devout, prayerful, and self-denying1 lives have unquestionably been a grteat blessing, not only to the Bombay Diwcefce, but to the whole Indian Church. Their beautiful Basilica Church at Panch Howds, crowded as it is so often with devout worshippers, must make a deep impression on the large non-Christian community which lives in that neighbourhood.
I have written somewhat fully of the missionary work in the Bombay Diocese because it is far too little known, and information about it is not easily come by, being scattered about in short articles in old Diocesan Magazines and pamphlets.
"There is every sort of interest in this diocese," writes the Bishop, "and there is hardly any one who can fail to find something in it that will interest him or her. The only element of work in which we have as yet no part is University education, which is entirely hi the hands of the Roman Catholics and the Presbyterians."
There is the work of the Chaplains amongst the British soldiers in the Cantonments of the Bombay Presidency and Aden. There is the work done for the sailors in Bombay itself--a work started in Bishop Harding's time, which has recently been enormously developed by a magnificent Sailors' Institute, towards which Bombay gave six and a half lakhs (over forty thousand pounds), in gratitude for what the sailors did in the Great War. There is the work done by devoted Deaconesses in the slums of Bombay, who are calling out for more helpers. There is the work of the Girls' Friendly Society in the shops, telephone and telegraph and other offices in the city--a work which has recently been immensely helped by the acquisition of a building containing three flats, which has been purchased for £8000. There is the rescue work of the League of Mercy, started by Mrs. Jackson, with its house in Bombay--a Home for neglected children at Nasik and a branch at Poona. And there are lastly the schools which the Church is providing for the children of the Anglo-Indian community. The Bombay Diocese is well provided with schools for this community. In Bombay itself the Church has no less than three High Schools for their boys, and two High Schools for their girls. The Byculla Schools and Cathedral Boys' and Girls' High Schools can hold their own with any schools of this kind hi India. The St. Peter's High School for Boys at Mazagaon is under the management of the Cowley Fathers. There is a movement on foot at the present time to remove the Byculla Boarding Schools from Bombay to Deolali on the Ghats, which will secure for the children a far healthier and more invigorating climate. There are also excellent schools for this community at Poona. The Boys' High School, called the Bishop's School, founded by Bishop Harding, and the Girls' High School, managed by the Sisters of St. Mary's, Wantage, are doing splendid work. To this latter is attached a normal school for the training of teachers, to which girls of all parts of the Bombay Diocese and Central Provinces are sent. There is a delightful Girls' School at Khandala, managed by the All Saints' Sisters. Mount Abu has also got a High School for Boys which has recently been taken over by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. It has also got one of the Lawrence Military Schools for the boys and girls of soldiers. Certainly no one will wonder, after reading this record of the work of the Bombay Diocese, that its present Bishop is now asking the Church to give him an Assistant-Bishop to share with him his heavy burdens.