About 5,000 missionaries of various religions and cults are working among the people of India; two-thirds of them Protestants, and about 1,500 Americans, including preachers, teachers, doctors, nurses, editors and all concerned. Their names fill a large directory, and they represent all grades and shades of theology, philosophy, morality and other methods of making human beings better, and providing for the salvation of their souls. India is a fertile and favorite field for such work. The languid atmosphere of the country and the contemplative disposition of the native encourage it. The Aryan always was a good listener, and you must remember that India is a very big country - a continent, indeed, with a mixed multitude of 300,000,000 souls, some striving for the unattainable and others hopelessly submerged in bogs of vice, superstition and ignorance. There are several stages of civilization also. You can find entire tribes who still employ stone implements and weapons, and several provinces are governed by a feudal system like that of Europe in the middle ages. There are thousands who believe that marriage is forbidden by the laws of nature; there are millions of men with several wives, and many women with more than one husband. There are tribes in which women control all the power, hold all the offices, own all the property and keep the line of inheritance on their side. There are vast multitudes, on the other hand, in India who believe that women have no souls and no hereafter, and advocate the murder of girl babies as fast as they are born, saving just enough to do the cooking and mending and to keep the race alive. Communities that have reached an intellectual culture above that of any nation in Europe are surrounded by 250,000,000 human beings who cannot read or write. There are thinkers who have reasoned out the profoundest problems that have ever perplexed mankind, and framed systems of philosophy as wise as the world has ever known, and many of their wives and daughters have never been outside of the houses in which they were born; all of which indicates the size of the field of missionary labor and the variety of work to be done.

India contains some of the most sublime and beautiful of all the non-Christian religions, and perfect systems of morals devised by men who do not believe in a future life. More than 60,000,000 of the inhabitants accept Jesus Christ as an inspired teacher and worship the same God that we do under another name, and more than three times that number believe that the Ruler of All Things is a demon who delights in cruelty and slaughter and gives his favor only in exchange for suffering and torture. A tribe in northwest India believes that God lives on the top of a mountain in plain sight of them, and up in the northeast are the Nagas, who declare that after the Creator made men He put them into a cellar from which they escaped into the world because one day he forgot to put back the stone that covers a hole in the top. More fantastic theories about the origin and the destiny of man are to be found in India than in any other country, and those who have faith in them speak 167 different languages, as returned by the census. Some of these languages are spoken by millions of people; others by a few thousand only; some of them have a literature of poetry and philosophy that has survived the ages, while others are unwritten and only used for communication by wild and isolated tribes in the mountains or the jungles.

Christian missionaries have been at work in India for four hundred years. St. Francis Xavier was one of the pioneers. Protestants have been there for a little more than a century, and since 1804 have distributed 13,000,000 of Bibles. During the last ten years they have sold 5,000,000 copies of the Scriptures either complete or in part; for the Gospels in each of the great Indian languages, like two sparrows, can now be bought for a farthing. In 1898, 497,000 copies were issued; in 1902, more than 600,000; and thus the work increases. More than 140 colporteurs, or agents, mostly natives, are peddling the Bible for sale in different parts of India. They do nothing else. More than 400 native women are engaged in placing it in the secluded homes of the Hindus among women of the harems, and teaching them to read it. No commercial business is conducted with greater energy, enterprise and ability than the work of the Bible Society, in this empire, and while the missionaries have enormous and perplexing difficulties to overcome, they, too, are making remarkable headway.

You frequently hear thoughtless people, who know nothing of the facts, but consider it fashionable to sneer at the missionaries, declare that Hindus never are converted. The official census of the government of India, which is based upon inquiries made directly of the individuals themselves, by sworn agents, and is not compiled from the reports of the missionary societies, shows an increase in the number of professing Christians from 2,036,000 in 1891 to 2,664,000 in 1901, a gain of 625,000, or 30 per cent in ten years, and in some of the provinces it has been remarkable. In the Central Provinces and United Provinces the increase in the number of persons professing Christianity, according to the census, was more than 300 per cent. In Assam, which is in the northeastern extremity of India, and the Punjab, which occupies a similar position in the northwest, the increase was nearly 200 per cent. In Bengal, of which Calcutta is the chief city, the gain was nearly 50 per cent; in the province of Bombay it was nearly 40 per cent, and in Madras and Burmah it was 20 per cent.

The dean of the American missionary colony is Rev. R. A. Hume, of Ahmednagar, who belongs to the third, and his daughter to the fourth, generation of missionaries in the family. He was born in Bombay, where his father and his grandfather preached and taught for many years. Rev. Mr. Ballantine, the grandfather of Mrs. Hume, went over from southern Indiana in 1835 and settled at Ahmednagar, where the Protestants had begun work four years previous.

The first Christian mission ever undertaken by Americans in a foreign country was at Bombay in 1813, when Gordon Hall and Samuel Newall, fresh from Williams College, went to convert the heathen Hindus. The governor general and the officials of the East India Company ordered them away, for fear that they would stir up trouble among the natives and suffer martyrdom, but they would not go, and were finally allowed to remain under protest. A Baptist society in England had sent out three men - Messrs. Carey, Ward and Marshman - a few years before. They went to Calcutta, but the East India Company would not permit them to preach or teach, so they removed to Gerampore, where they undertook evangelical work under the protection of the Dutch. But nowadays the British government cannot do enough to help the missionaries, particularly the Americans, who are treated in the same generous manner as those of the Established Church of England, and are given grants of money, land and every assistance that they officially could receive.

Speaking of the services of the missionaries during the recent famine, Lord Curzon said: "I have seen cases where the entire organization of a vast area and the lives of thousands of beings rested upon the shoulders of a single individual, laboring on in silence and in solitude, while his bodily strength was fast ebbing away. I have known of natives who, inspired by his example, have thrown themselves with equal ardor into the struggle, and have unmurmuringly laid down their lives for their countrymen. Particularly must I mention the noble efforts of missionary agencies of various Christian denominations. If there ever was an occasion in which it was open to them to vindicate the highest standards of their beneficent calling it was here, and strenuously and faithfully have they performed the task."

In 1901 the government of India recognized the labors and devotion of the American missionaries during the previous famine by bestowing upon Dr. Hume the Kaiser-I-Hind gold medal, which is never bestowed except for distinguished public services, and is not conferred every year. It is considered the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a civilian.

Sir Muncherjee Bharnajgree, a Parsee member of parliament, recently asserted that the American missionaries were doing more for the industrial development of the Indian Empire than the government itself. The government recognizes the importance of their work and has given liberal grants to the industrial schools of the American Board of Foreign Missions, which are considered the most successful and perhaps the most useful in India. It is significant to find that the most important of these schools was founded by Sir D. M. Petit, a wealthy Parsee merchant and manufacturer, at the city of Ahmednagar, where 400 bright boys are being trained for mechanics and artisans under the direction of James Smith, formerly of Toronto and Chicago. D. C. Churchill, formerly of Oberlin, Ohio, and a graduate of the Boston School of Technology, a mechanical engineer of remarkable genius, has another school in which hand weaving of fine fabrics is taught to forty or fifty boys who show remarkable skill. Mr. Churchill, who came out in 1901, soon detected the weakness of the native method of weaving, and has recently invented a hand loom which can turn out thirty yards of cloth a day, and will double, and in many cases treble, the productive capacity of the average worker. And he expects soon to erect a large building in which he can set up the new looms and accommodate a much larger number of pupils. J. B. Knight, a scientific agriculturist who also came out in 1901, has a class of forty boys, mostly orphans whose fathers and mothers died during the late famine. They are being trained in agricultural chemistry and kindred subjects in order to instruct the native farmers throughout that part of the country. Rev. R. Windsor, of Oberlin, is running another school founded by Sir D. M. Petit at Sirur, 125 miles east of Bombay, where forty boys are being educated as machinists and mechanics. At Ahmednagar, Mrs. Wagentreiver has a school of 125 women and girls, mostly widows and orphans of the late famine, who are being taught the art of lacemaking, and most of her graduates are qualified to serve as instructors in other lace schools which are constantly being established in other parts of India. There is also a school for potters, and the Americans are sending to the School of Art at Bombay sixty boys to be designers, draughtsmen, illustrators and qualified in other of the industrial arts.

It is interesting to discover that the School of Industrial Arts founded by Sir D. M. Petit at Ahmednagar owes its origin to the Chicago Manual Training School, whose aims and methods were carefully studied and applied to Indian conditions with equally satisfactory results. The principal and founder of the school, James Smith, was sent out and is supported by the New England Congregational Church on the North Side, Chicago, and generous financial assistance has been received from Mr. Victor F. Lawson and other members of that church. It was started in 1891 with classes in woodwork and mechanical drawing, and has prospered until it has now outgrown in numbers and importance the high school with which it was originally connected.

This school is the most conspicuous example of combined English education and industry in western India, and has received the highest praise from government officers. Its grant from the government, too, is higher than that of any other school in the province. The government paid half of the cost of all the buildings and equipments, while a very large part of the other half was paid by people of this country, foremost among the donors being the late Sir D. M. Petit, Bart., who built and equipped the first building entirely at his own expense.

Mr. Churchill's workshops have also been very highly commended by the government inspectors, and his invention has attracted wide notice because it has placed within reach of the local weavers an apparatus which is an immense saving in labor and will secure its operators at least three times the results and compensations for the same expenditure of time and toil. It thus affords them means of earning a more comfortable living, and at the same time gives the people a supply of cheap cotton cloth which they require, and utilizes defective yarn which the steam power mills cannot use. The government inspectors publicly commend Mr. Churchill for declining to patent his invention and for leaving it free to be used by everybody without royalty of any kind.

It is exceedingly gratifying to hear from all sides these and other similar encomiums of the American missionaries, and it makes a Yankee proud to see the respect that is felt for and paid to them. Lord Curzon, the governors of the various provinces and other officials are hearty in their commendation of American men and women and American methods, and especially for the services our missionaries rendered during the recent famines and plagues. They testify that in all popular discontent and uprisings they have exerted a powerful influence for peace and order and for the support of the government. Lord Northcote, recently governor of Bombay, in a letter to President Roosevelt, said:

"In Ahmednagar I have seen for myself what practical results have been accomplished, and during the famine we owed much to the practical schemes of benevolence of the American missionaries."

On the first of January, 1904, the viceroy of India bestowed upon William I. Chamberlin of the American Mission College at Madras the Kaiser-I-Hind gold medal for his services to the public. A similar medal was conferred upon Dr. Louis Klopsch of the Christian Herald, New York, who collected and forwarded $600,000 for direct famine relief and provided for the support of 5,000 famine orphans for five years. Other large sums were sent from the United States. The money was not given away. The American committee worked in cooperation with the agents of the government and other relief organizations, so as to avoid duplication. They provided clothing for the naked and work at reasonable wages for the starving. They bought seed for farmers and assisted them to hire help to put it in the ground. The rule of the committee in the disbursement of this money was not to pauperize the people, but to help those who helped themselves, and to require a return in some form for every penny that was given. Dr. Hume says: "The gift was charity, but the system was business." The American relief money directly and indirectly reached several millions of people and has provided for the maintenance and education of more than five thousand orphans, boys and girls, who were left homeless and helpless when their fathers and mothers died of starvation. More than 320 widows, entirely homeless, friendless and dependent, were placed in comfortable quarters, taught how to work, and are now self-supporting. Two homes for widows are maintained by the missionaries of the American Board, one in Bombay in charge of Miss Abbott and her sister, Mrs. Dean, with nearly 200 inmates, and the other at Ahmednagar, in charge of Mrs. Hume.

The medical and dispensary work of the American missions is also very extensive, and its importance to the peasant class and the blessings it confers upon the poor cannot be realized by those people who have never visited India and other countries of the East and seen the condition of women. As I told you in a previous chapter, ninety per cent of the Hindu population of India will not admit men physicians to their homes to see women patients, and the only relief that the wives, mothers and daughters and sisters in the zenanas can obtain when they are ill is from the old-fashioned herb doctors and charm mixers of the bazaars. Now American women physicians are scattered all over India healing the wounded and curing the sick. There are few from other countries, although the English, Scotch and German Lutherans have many missions.