A rather patronising and naive book written about India from the perspective of missionaries for their children in England. Late 19th century India viewed from a deeply colonial Victorian perspective. Although meant for children, it is not suitable for today’s children unless you want your child to grow up with very questionable values. Nevertheless, a rare and valuable window into a tumultuous time and place.
What is it about?
I. Their surroundings: 1. Their country. 2. Their homes. 3. Their religion. 4. Holy places. 5. Caste. 6. Losing caste.
II. Themselves: 1. When they are babies. 2. Little Hindu girls. 3. Little Hindu boys. 4. A Hindu wedding. 5. Husbands and wives. 6. Sickness and death. 7. Widows.
III. Gods and festivals: 1. The Durjah Pujah. 2. Kali. 3.Juggennath. 4. Other feasts.
IV. Other religions: 1. The Mohammedans. 2. A Mohammedan wedding. 3. The Parsees. 4. The Santals. 5. Sikhs, Fakirs, and Brahmos.
V. Work and workers: 1. What is a missionary? 2. Missionaries in India. 3. The mission schools. 4. The story of one of their scholars. 5.Mothers at school. 6. The queen’s story. 7. What shall we do? 8. What girls can do?
From the preface:
WHAT IS IT ABOUT?
LITTLE while ago I was sitting in a room where two ladies were talking together about books. One of them asked the other if she could tell her of a nice book for children about missions.
A long time passed before the answer was given. The lady did not like to say no; but after thinking a good while, she was obliged to say that she had never heard of such a book. Then they began to talk about other books, and I put away the thoughts that had been coming into my head about the children, in a safe corner of my mind, to keep for a little while till I could find some more to put with them. There were only three of them at first. Shall I tell you what they were?
(1) There are very few books for children about missions. (2) There ought to be more. (3) Somebody must write a new one. But then people say, ‘Three are no company;’ so these three thoughts could not get on well together till I found number four, and number four came very soon after.
Why should not you be the somebody? The four managed to get on without any quarrels, as soon as I promised I would be the somebody. Then I had to find a great many more thoughts to go with these four.
The first was that the book should be all about missions and children – all sorts of missions and all sorts of children; but then, before very long, I found out that if I had to write a book about so many places, and so many people, there would have to be so many thoughts that I could never find room for them all in my head, which is not a very big one, and that even if I could, you would never find room for them in yours.
So I thought that perhaps you would like it better if I were to write about only one set of missions, and one set of children.
Then, as the book is for little people, it must be a little book, full of little chapters, made up of little words, so that you will never have to say, ‘Please, mamma, what does this word mean? ‘ The only things that I hope will not be little, are the things that you will do when you have read to the end.
Another of my thoughts (I wonder whether you will like it !) was that this book must not be a story book. When I was a little girl, and used to read many stories, I remember, if the story was a very nice one, it used to make me so sorry to think it was not true; and if it was a sad story, then I was glad it was not true, and forgot it as soon as I could. Now some of the things in this book are going to be very sad, and some very nice; but everything is going to be true, because I do not want you to forget any of it, nor to think it does not much matter. It is going to be about things that do matter very much, and the sad things will nearly all be things that you can help to make less sad, even if you are only tiny boys and girls.
You will find very few stories, and I will tell you why. I want you not only to read and remember it all, but to think about it all. I remember something else about myself when I was a little girl. If ever I had a book that was partly stories and partly not, I used to pick out the stories and skip all the rest. Now I do not want you to skip any of this book, and so I am going to put in so few stories, that if you skip all that is not story, you will have to skip very nearly all the book. But I hope that when you get to the end, you will say it has been as interesting as a story.