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Old Daniel   By:

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Old Daniel; or, Memoir of a Converted Hindoo and Description of Village Life in India.

By Thomas Hodson, with Introduction by the Rev W. Arthur, M.A.

Published about 1877.

The title of this book is somewhat odd, for, though certainly greatly about the life and doings of Chickka the washerman, and his conversion to Christianity, the memoirs are certainly not his, and indeed it is a little difficult to see whose they are. Not apparently those of Thomas Hodson, who is mentioned frequently in the third person, and who appears to be as much of an ordained minister as the Reverend W. Arthur. Strange also is the fact that the title page promises an Introduction, but what we actually get, on the very next page, is a Preface.

However, these are minor grumbles, because what you do get is a head on description of village life in India, as promised, and some very nice illustrations.

As Editor, I must hasten to say that Thomas Hodson, the author of some of the short chapters, is no relation of mine. In fact my ancestor Thomas Hodson, who also worked in India, but as an administrator, was only a small child in England at the time the book was published. But my family have had a long connection with India, and that has led to my own great interest in the Indian sub continent. I was very interested to read and edit this book, and commend it to anyone who would like to know more about Indian Village Life 150 and even 200 years ago (the hero of the tale was born in 1799).

Although this book is constructed from pieces written by devoted Missionaries, and although they deride the local Gods and religious practices, I do not think the book is very convincing as an argument for Christianity, although I describe myself as a Christian. N.H.




I can now, in my mind's eye, see Chickka, the washerman, as if I had met him yesterday; and I can see the mud houses of Singonahully, the mud wall of the village, and the temple of Runga, as if they were all before me. Yet five and thirty years are passed and gone since the afternoon when, in quest of medical aid, I rode past the village, hoping yet to see it the abode of many follower's of Christ, not knowing that I was never to see it more. At that time Chickka was still a heathen. He was then between forty and fifty years of age, a grey headed, resolute, self controlled looking man.

At the mission house of Goobbe we knew Chickka well. He was often present at our family prayer, but gave no signs of any religious conviction; and I cannot remember that he ever expressed more disapproval of idolatry than many did, who to this day have continued in their heathenism. Certainly I had no idea of the processes through which the mind of the washer man had passed. It would have been hard to conceive that one so ignorant and so simple, had as a boy, all untaught, seen as clearly the vanity of idols as well instructed men could do, and had in his own simple way taken practical and striking steps to convince others of the justice of his views.

In the lifelike narrative of Mr Hodson, where every touch is that of one who has lived among the people, till their sayings and their doings, their surrounding scenes and modes of thought, are all familiar, the reader will find a very curious light upon the processes of thought which, in the deepest night of paganism, may be passing in the mind of a labourer's lad who knows not a letter. We may feel assured that similar lights are shining in the darkest places now, and that millions of young minds are being prepared, as was the mind of Chickka, to turn from dumb idols to serve the living and the true God. Even were the incidents detailed in the following pages those only of the life of a single boy, they would be of great interest... Continue reading book >>

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