Page images
PDF
EPUB

position could we blame him. His sly reflection on the pusillanimity of the police is amusing; these, of course, were his own brethren. His description of a night disturbance is excellent, though some of the phrases are not translatable.

In palliation of the panic of the natives, we must not forget that at this time, in a neighbouring island (Borneo), the powerful tribes of Sarebas and Sakarran went forth in thousands on head-hunting expeditions, for quasireligious purposes; so the application of the same vice to the poor Church of England came natural enough to them, especially as that establishment was backed up by the grim devotees of Kali and Juggernaut, viz. the Bengal convicts who were set to watch the edifice. It is most strange what arrangements take place in India, and how incongruous are the elements brought not only in close juxtaposition, but even as allies to a holy cause. Thus I have seen an old Thug, who had taken a hundred lives, assisting the organist at divine service, he doing the essential part, the bellows-blowing.

Good Mrs. Abdulla, in the hubbub, was anxious for her husband's and her own safety; so she put an extra fastening to the door, though she was 120 miles away.

Abdulla says the white people do not believe in evil spirits, but I find in the late spiritist disturbances in Otago that the Calvinist clergy do. White men will not part with the devil, for more reasons than one. How Abdulla should have imbibed this opinion I do not know.

XXXVI.

HIS DAUGHTER'S DEATH.

"AFTER all this affair had blown over, I returned to Malacca, as I learnt that my daughter, named Liti Lila, was unwell. When I arrived at Malacca, I found her very bad, and in two or three days' time it was the will of God over His slave that she should die. I was plunged into the deepest grief, and so was her mother, as I was very fond of the child, who was only seven years old. She had been well instructed, and had a clear understanding, with a heart full of affection to her parents on this account I was strongly attached to her. After she had been buried at the Kling Mosque, I visited her grave daily in my grief, and one day while I was there, as had been my habit, her image appeared to my view. This was in the evening about half-past seven o'clock. I was alone, sitting at the grave weeping, when I saw my child playing on the sand. When I saw her I ran forward to embrace her, but I found nothing but sand. I then knew that the devil, in her image, intended to destroy me. On this I at once asked mercy of God, that he should relieve my grief and wailing for my child. I then returned to my house, to beseech my wife to wipe her tears and suspend her lamentations. I then informed her of the vision; when she begged at my feet some words of pure counsel to moderate her affliction.

Then, in furtherance of her wish, I thought over all the books that I could call to memory. If it had been for myself, I would not have undertaken the task, for I trusted to God alone to assuage my grief, but after the above request I betook myself to compose a little book, which I named in the Arabic, Doah Alkalub, which means in Malay, Obat ati (medicine for the heart). In it I dilated on the cases of children who have died young, and the honour, in the future state, to their parents, whose little children they were. How, therefore, improper is it of parents to nurse their grief and disconsolateness, and persevere in such a manner -with many other admonitions which I held forth for our edification.

After I had finished this book I read it to my wife, when then only she regained her usual equanimity, and forgot her grief for her child. The book is still in existence, and has been borrowed by many people who have lost children; further, twenties of people have copied it."

I made this translation with the more interest, as I remember, as it were like yesterday, Abdulla relating the circumstance to me. I no doubt pooh-poohed it, like most unthinking young Englishmen, so he found that he had in me no sympathy. Apparitions and their causes have been well studied by physiologists; I need not, therefore, enter into the subject here. But the story of Abdulla is affecting. He daily mourned over the grave of his lost child, when at dusk she appeared to him playing on the sand; he rushed forward to clasp her to his breast, when he found that she was not. She, with the sparkling eye and loving smile, he would have kissed

and fondled, but she had departed beyond his ken. Then comes actuality, with all its fierce truth, and with that, revulsion. In this he sees the worker of all evil, from which he flies to the God who gave him life. How would Christians have behaved? Each will answer in a different way. He puts on the man again, and does as his experiences had taught him.

To understand him to a certain extent, we must know the faith of the Mahomedans on the subject of the principle of evil, as they personify it. Lane informs us that the Mahomedans believe in three species of created intelligent beings, viz., angels of light, genii of fire, and men of earth. Some hold that the devils (sheytans) are distinct from angels and genii, but the most general opinion is that they are rebellious genii or jinn. Iblees, or the devil by some, was said to be sent as a governor upon the earth, and judged amongst the jinn for a thousand years; after which he ascended into heaven, and remained employed in worship until the creation of Adam. It is disputed whether he was of the angels. When the jinn rebelled against God on earth, Iblees, being elated with pride, refused to prostrate himself to Adam and Eve, so God transformed him into a sheytan. According to tradition, Iblees and the sheytans have longer existence than the jinn. Among the evil jinn there are five sons of Iblees: Taer, the causer of calamity; El-Aawar, of debauchery; Sot, of lies; Dasim, of hatred; Zeleemboor, of unfair dealings. The jinn have various shapes, such as those of serpents, scorpions, lions, wolves, jackals, etc., etc., prototypes of which, I may add, by way of parenthesis, may be seen in any illustrated work on John Bunyan; so the Mahomedans are not singular in their conceptions. Lane continues: "The jinn had not liberty to enter any of the seven heavens till the birth of Jesus, but Mahomed excluded

*

them from all. The devil's sphere now is to prowl amongst the markets, road crossings,—his holy book being poetry, his alphabet geomancy, his speech falsehood, his snares

-women!" But this gives a very limited idea of the mythology of the Arabs, who have other orders of jinn; such as ghools, sealahs, ghaddars, delhaus, shikks, nesnas, hatifs, etc., all of which have peculiar functions, and to which are ascribed various monstrous forms.

We have already seen that Abdulla had shaken off these superstitions; and, as far as I can see now, acknowledging only two powers-the principles of good and evil -to the former he clung, the latter he shunned. His admonitions appear to have had balm in them for his domestic hearth and amongst his neighbours. Here we have a glimpse of the inner man at the age of about forty.

* In the Kiddah Annals, his book is said there to be beautiful women.

« PreviousContinue »