CHURCH MISSIONARY SOCIETY ARCHIVE
Section III: Central Records
Part 12 continues the publication of periodicals from the Church Mission Society Library at Mission House in London. It contains The CMS Juvenile Instructor for 1842-1890 which was renamed Childrens World in 1891 and then The Round World in 1901. Publication ceased in 1958.
The periodicals contain fascinating extracts from missionary letters and journals detailing the local life and customs of the missions they worked in. All mission areas that the Society worked in for the period are covered. The periodicals also contain summaries of the work carried out in the missions for the year. The contents cover a wide variety of material: descriptions of the slave trade among the Africans; descriptions of religions and festivals; much on local rituals such as the sacrifice of young girls in Bonny, West Africa to appease the gods and Hindu customs in India; details on the treatment of children in India; the killing of female babies and foot binding of girls in China; the abandonment of very old members of the community in the bush in Africa. Idols and gods of the countries are described in detail together with illustrations, There is also much on education and news from the mission schools and pupils. Medical contents cover hospitals, leper colonies, nurses, doctors etc.
The periodicals also contain much detail on the work carried out at home by local CMS organisations and individual children to raise money for the missionary cause. One little boy in a Bristol Sunday School sent his five shillings and sixpence which he has raised by breeding silk-worms!
The periodicals are very well illustrated with marvellous depictions of the local people, the missionaries, local customs and festivals.
There is a Contents page divided by mission. Also shown are the pages devoted to Home Proceedings and to Poetry. Later editions contain a section entitled "At Home and Abroad" with news from England and the missions. This includes poems and hymns. Later editions contain puzzles.
The first issue of CMS Juvenile Instructor in 1842 declares that the new publication is specially intended for the use and benefit of the young Even now untold millions in India, China, Persia, Tibet and Central Asia, and the far west, have never been visited by the devoted missionary. We invite you therefore, dear young friends, to take part in this great work and to assist CHURCH MISSIIONARY SOCIETY in sending the Gospel to the poor neglected heathen It may encourage you tosubscribe your half-penny or penny a week, if we inform you that were the schools in this kingdom generally to assist this object of subscribing only one penny a week, upward of £200,000 a year would be raised and the income of our Society be more than doubled.
There follows a short history, in simple language suitable for children, of the different missions and then there is an account of the latest news from the missions.
The contents vary immensely covering topics such as: deaths of scholars in Egypt from the plague; a story about a young convert in Ceylon; an account of the attempt of a Catechist to get children in the Timmanee Mission in Sierra Leone to attend school - . He went round the village to persuade the people to send their children and about twenty four were sent; but according to the fashion of that country they all came naked. However, some ladies in Sierra Leone sent them white frocks to clothe their little black bodies.
The following extract written by Dr Beke in Ankobar gives a vivid description of the slave trade carried out by the people in the kingdom of Shoa:
The slaves introduced into the kingdom of Shoa proceed from two sources: prisoners captured in war, or persons kidnapped for the purpose of selling them. Both classes are principally children: the adults either fleeing before the enemy, or being killed by them, as too unprofitable to be made prisoners. The prices of slaves at Alin Amba are, for boys, about 40 to 60 shillings and for girls from about 50 to 85 shillings and for very beautiful ones as high as 25 to 30 dollars, equal to about £5 or £6. On the way hither, I met a caravan with about 150 slaves, chiefly girls. They walked in single file, unconfined, leading the camels or carrying small articles in their hands, or on their heads. The traders, in order to insure the obedience of their slaves on the journey to the coast and to prevent them escaping, persuade them that the inhabitants of Gidon, to the north-east of Shoa are cannibals and eat all slaves and fugitives. One of the traders says, that in Narea, a boy of ten or twelve years may be purchased for a piece of blue cotton cloth.
There follows an interesting account of the way of travel in India in the 1840s. A missionary describes how he journeyed between Agra and Calcutta, about 800 miles:
There are no railways in that country, no stage coaches, no post-chaises and no nice inns. The English traveller in India usually proceeds with his own tents, which are carried on camels or elephants; or when anxious, as I was, quickly to reach the end of his journey, by dak; that is, in a palanquin, which is like a large oblong box, with sliding doors at each side. There is a pole at each end, which is raised on the shoulders of four bearers; who jog along with an easy motion at the rate of three miles and a half an hour. The traveller lies at full length in his palanquin, with a cushion to support his head. His provisions are carried by another bearer, in baskets, slung by a bamboo across the shoulder. In this long box he is carried day and night. Fresh sets of bearers are ready at appointed places, about eight or ten miles distant; each set consisting of eight men; four of whom carry the palanquin and four trot alongside, thus relieving each other. In this way you may be conveyed at the rate of nearly 80 miles in 24 hours.
He goes to describe what he saw when he passed through Allahabad on his way to Benares:
It happened to be time of the annual religious fair. To this the poor foolish Hindus come from all parts of India; their priests telling them that as such times they will be purified from all their sins by bathing in a particular part of the stream where the rivers Jumna and Ganges join. There were assembled at this fair vast crowds of fakirs, or religious beggars; most of them naked, and hideous figures. Their dark skin smeared with ashes and their long matted uncombed hair, hanging about their shoulders, gave them a most unearthly appearance. Yet these poor wretches- usually the most wicked of their race and given up to all manner of vices are looked upon by the ignorant idolaters as God-like in holiness.
A missionarys account of snake-worship in India is given below:
Nagpanchme or the day kept sacred to the nag or cobra. In the sacred books directions are given to worship the cobra and the day is observed by all classes of Hindoos. Shesh, the king of the serpent race, is described as having one thousand heads, on one of which the earth is sustained. This serpent is both the canopy and the couch of Vishnoo. On this day, a clay image of the snake is made in each house, or his picture is drawn on wood, or paper, or upon the walls. The people then present to it offerings of milk, flowers, plantains, parched rice, sugar, cocoa nuts etc.
The extract below describes the treatment of girl babies and the foot binding of girls in China in the 1840s:
From the period of her birth, woman is subjected to the most cruel treatment. A mother kill her babe! We can hardly believe anything so shocking. Yet so it is; and men with carts go about the great cities early every morning to take up the bodies of infants thus murdered and cast out by their own mothers during the night. And when the Chinese are asked why they do this, they say it is to save the expense of bringing up such useless things; and they allow that some people have smothered five or six daughters.
Such females as are allowed to grow up, are treated very unkindly. If they belong to rich or respectable families, their feet are from infancy bound up quite tight to prevent their growth; for the Chinese fashion is that women must have small feet, not at all larger than those of an English baby. The ladies in China are all very proud of their little feet, though they can scarcely hobble about on them; and of course, while girls are young, the constant dreadful pain caused by their feet being so tightly bandaged and squeezed, keeps them in great misery.
The following is a missionarys description of life in Canton, China in the 1850s:
Whole families are huddled together in these narrow passages, where the inhabitants of western countries could hardly breathe the air. There are no wide roads, no open squares, no carriage-ways. The only mode of conveyance, for those who are unable or unwilling to walk, is sedan-chair, borne on the shoulders of two or four bearers. On either side are lofty sign-boards, written over with sentences, informing the wayfarer of the name of the shop and the various articles lying for sale within. These are read in columns.... In every little open space are to be seen fruit-stands and cake-shops, where young children are casting lots for the quantity they are to receive for their money. In another part, crowds of grown-up gamblers block up the path and their excited looks and angry gestures show their eager interest in the game. Close by, some cunning fortune-teller is practising his deceitful arts on some ignorant Chinese, who looks on with simple gaze and attentive ear, as his future lot in life is explained from some mysterious book lying on a table. Chinese doctors occupy another spot of ground and proclaim with loud voice to the listening crowd the wonders of their healing art and the power of the medicines which they offer for sale. In other parts, jugglers are displaying their clever feats, or play-actors are exercising their art from an erected stage. Soon, again, the signs of poverty and wretchedness meet the eye, as the poor afflicted leper drags his diseased form and is shunned by the passing throng, fearful of the polluting touch of leprosy. Blind beggars also pass slowly by, chanting a melancholy funeral strain and claiming pity for their distress by beating together two pieces of wood.
The issue of Childrens World for August 1897 contains an article written by Archdeacon Tims about the Red Indians in N W Canada:
The Indians are sun worshippers. It is no uncommon thing to see an Indian standing outside his teepee (tent) praying to the sun. Nor is it at all uncommon to find them at their feasts offering the first spoonful of their berry soup to the sun. When the Indian men meet together to talk and smoke, the pipe, when filled with tobacco, is first held towards the sun and a prayer is made to it to smoke the pipe and pity those who are assembled. The petitions at such times are only for temporal mercies, such as long life, freedom from sickness and plenty to eat and smoke.
The Indians have every year what is generally called a sun-dance. In the early part of the year preparations begin to be made for it by collecting a number of tongues of oxen which are dried and put by for the feast which always accompanies it. About the beginning of June all the Indians of a tribe gather together at an appointed place and pitch their tents in a large circle about two hundred yards or more in diameter. Then for about six weeks a series of dances take place by different societies of men or women. The novice is first painted and dressed in the particular style adopted by the society and then he is taken in hand by an old member and shown how to go through the dance. These societies go often under the names of animals or birds and copy their movements in their dances.
In 1902 in The Round World the Bishop of Mackenzie River, Bishop Reeve provides some interesting details on the life of the Eskimo of Herschel Island in the Diocese of Mackenzie River:
What funny-looking people they are! And what smiling faces most of them have! If you were to go to see them they would greet you with a smile a give you a warm shake of the hand. And if you were to go into one of their houses, or igloos at meal-time they would offer you the best of what they had to eat. It might be a piece of nice cooked fish which you would like or it might be a piece of uncooked grampus fin which you would not like. How curiously they talk too! You would not understand a word of what they said to you, because their language is not a bit like English. You would be wondering too what those white things were in the lower lip of the man! They are called totuk or labrets. In boyhood a hole is made through the lip on each side, which is kept open until the wound is healed and then they insert a piece of bone or ivory, shaped something like a large collar-stud. The outer disc is sometimes larger than half a crown and the dark centre is a piece of blue lead of which they are very fond. Now look at the woman with the baby in her arms. You will see something like roly-poly puddings hanging upon her shoulders. That is her hair. The way she makes so much of it is by taking care of the combings. Instead of burning or throwing them away she carefully puts them back, sometimes mixes a little mud with them to make the lumps larger and then wraps them round and round with long strings of white and coloured beads! These "tresses" become bigger and bigger the older a woman grows.
Their clothes when new and clean are very nice and are beautifully made. Both men and women dress in skins and their clothing is often ornamented with feathers, shells, tufts of fur, fringes of wolverine skin and other decorations. In the very cold weather they wear two suits; the inner one having the hair next their own skin, the outer one having the hair outside. Their own hair is coarse, thick and black and serves for a good head-covering. Instead of a hat or bonnet they wear a hood: the womans being much larger than the mans large enough, in fact, to take in the baby as well as her own head. The children are very pretty, having round, fat faces, black eyes and rosy lips and cheeks.
The issue of The Round World for 1941 contains a description, written by Mrs Dermot Kerr, of Kajo Kaji, a mission station in Southern Sudan:
We are in a very beautiful part of the Sudan far to the south and close to the Uganda border. All around our house we can see wooded hills stretching into the distance. You would appreciate the lovely sky effects, especially at sunrise and sunset.
Our house is a very nice one, built of stone with red bricks round doors and windows and a corrugated iron roof, quite different from the mud hut we expected to live in I have two houseboys, one to do the dining room, table etc and the other to do the bedrooms, a young cook of about seventeen, whom I am training and a pot boy to wash up for him and do odd jobs.. It sounds a lot but they are not able to all the work one English maid would do. There are no other white people for miles, but there is a government hospital three miles away with a Sudanese doctor and the chief over the district, Tete, is a very nice man. The girls are shy, but very charming. There are some real beauties among them. They carry themselves so gracefully, balancing waterpots or baskets of grain on their heads It is a thrilling experience to be here.