|Emma Roberts stresses the “unalterable” culture of the Hindostani, yet exception is made for her in the polite attention of the Rajah. She points out the ambiguity in Hindoos hunting but not killing their quarry for religious reasons. There is an underlying tone of condescension and criticism on the part of the narrator. More unorthodox, is the culture described in “Infanticide” by Rev. William Ellis from The Amulet for 1832:
The Christian missionaries from Britain arrived in Tahiti about 1797, and learned about their native practice of infanticide. A missionary, in conversation with three women who had been converted to Christianity, asked them whether they had destroyed any of their children when they were idolaters. They answered reluctantly that one had destroyed nine, another seven, and the third five infants. These unhappy mothers turned out to be representative of their prior society. The practice of infanticide was esteemed an honorable distinction, and infant-murder was one means of removing inferiority of rank. When the family, or station in society, of one parent was superior to that of the other, the former invariably secured the destruction of the child. The number of children that must be sacrificed was regulated by the degree of difference originally existing between the parent’s ranks. It was not until the required number of offspring had been killed, and the inferior parent rose to an equality to the superior parent, that their offspring be allowed to live. Indolence, the pride of rank, the vanity to seek the preservations of personal attractions, and the belief that the native gods founded it were given as rational for the practice. (Ellis 70).
It is this type of story that inspired missionaries to go to the British colonies to convert the natives to Christianity. There may have been other societal reasons for controlling the number of infants, other than tradition, but the Christian missionary attributes it to native immorality. On the other hand, Rev. William Ellis shows the disrupting impact of religion on Tahitian culture in “The Battle of Bunaauia, in Tahiti” from The Amulet for 1829:
Christian missionaries from Britain arrived in Tahiti in 1797, and by 1813 they had succeeded in converting a significant number of the Tahitians including their King. This led to a bloody civil war between the converted natives and the unconverted idolatrous natives in 1815 near the village of Bunaauia. Through the grace of God the Christians won, and the King gave orders to destroy the temple and statue of Oro, the prior great national idol. Once there, they brought out the idol, stripped him of his sacred coverings and highly valued ornaments, and threw his body contemptuously to the ground. It was a rude, uncarved log of wood about six feet long. The temples, altars, and idols in every district of Tahiti were shortly destroyed in the same way. This was the end of the principal idol of the Tahitians, on whom they supposed their destinies depended, whose favor they had so long sought, and who had been the occasion of the bloody civil war (168).
There is a sense of righteousness in Rev. Ellis’s account, yet there were more sympathetic reports from other colonial writers. In “The Bengal Missionary” by Captain McNaghten from The Amulet for 1836, we find this account:
If the mildness or severity of a religion is to be judged by the extent of personal sacrifice, there is scarcely any severity that can be voluntarily inflicted on one’s own person which the Hindoo is encouraged to perpetrate in the hope he will secure the happiness of his soul in the future world and be looked upon with extraordinary veneration. The Mahometan, on the contrary, has received injunctions of an entirely opposite nature whose creed compels him to make converts by the sword and who gilds his intolerance by the splendors of conquest. The Hindoo is as proverbially tolerant as the Mahometan is not. In the year 1816, an alarming rebellion was fostered in the district of Bareilly by the rumor of a British government plan to force conversion to Christianity. Both Mussulman and Hindoo united to frustrate this design, and many lives were sacrificed and much popularity lost, before governmental authority could be reestablished. The colonial government had to order back to Calcutta those wandering Christian missionaries of low degree and little education whose extreme indiscretion and over-zealousness was producing the unrest (McNaghten 251).
There were also stories that showed the ruthlessness of the British colonial administrators as shown in “The Wrongs of Amakosa” by Thomas Pringle from Friendship’s Offering for 1833:
European colonists have been largely responsible for their wars with the native tribes of South Africa. In 1818, an internal war broke out among the Caffer or Amakosa tribes on the eastern side of the Cape colony. The tribe that was losing applied to the colonial authorities for aid. The Cape government sent a strong military force outside their colonial boundary where they ravaged the confederate tribes and carried back twenty-three thousand head of cattle. This comprised nearly half the livestock of the confederate tribes and their chief means of subsistence. The exasperated tribes, incited by famine and revenge attacked the local British headquarters with an army of ten thousand Caffers. Alerted beforehand, the colonial troops, repulsed the Caffers with great slaughter because the latter were armed only with assagai, the African javelins.