When you enter the Park through the gate of the Pont d'Iéna, if you lean to the right past the pavilion of the electric lighthouses, you come to a group of buildings, vaguely reminiscent in some details of the Byzantine style, and all uniformly painted in light lilac with red and blue festoons.
First you come to a sort of octagonal kiosk with eight open windows forming counters. Behind these counters are eight serious gentlemen dressed in black. In front of them are stacks of small in-32 books of all colours, pink, blue, grey, green, yellow. This is the manna that is distributed free of charge in this intellectual buffet. "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you and your family will be saved! "This generous word, inscribed on the frontispiece of each of the little books, is repeated in all languages above the windows of the kiosk and even on the canopy of the marquee which serves as an umbrella for this permanent agency of good reading. Rain or shine, from nine in the morning to five in the evening, the zeal of these distributors of the bread of the soul never slows down for a moment. Every walker who approaches, without thinking of harm, is stared at. In his walk, in his costume or in the cut of his beard, the serious gentlemen who are physiognomists, decipher at once whether he is Danish, Breton or Finnish. As soon as he is within reach, a small book written in the language they assume to be his is stuffed into his pocket. If he passes by unconcerned and two arms' lengths away, he is waved at and called. The only thing missing from these pious hucksters are harpoons. Turn around the kiosk, eight arms will successively extend towards you to offer you a book of a different colour. It is the Gospels, in all the spoken languages, that these gentlemen are mainly delivering, and Saint Luke by preference. I received twelve copies of this apostle, of various shades, before I got Saint Mark and Saint Matthew. As for St. John, I have not heard of him, but that is only a matter of luck, for one would furnish a library with the Gospels which are thus dispensed in a single day.
After the biblical propaganda booth, we come across the missions museum, which we will visit in detail later. Opposite the entrance to the international circle, a small pavilion is devoted to the bookshop where very beautiful Bibles of all sizes and in all languages are sold at a very good price. Finally, a last building, adjoining the bookshop, completes the evangelical villa. This is the prayer room, which is not a church, although at first sight one might be tempted to think so. At the far end is a draped desk that would almost be an altar if it were not for the leather armchair in the centre and the two lamps at either end. In front of this platform, about four hundred straw chairs in twenty rows. Opposite and above the entrance door, a balcony with the inscription: "Debains' harmonium" where the accompanist of the psalms will sit. The interior walls are painted like those outside, and the daylight, filtered through blue and pink stained glass windows, gives the whole atmosphere of the hall that same lilac hue which seems to please the evangelists so much. Posters on the door announce prayers for each day at 1pm. I wanted to attend, but the faithful did not come in large enough numbers to the call of the poster, so it is in the sacristy, until now, that the programme has been carried out, with a small committee of missionaries.
The presence of this work of religious propaganda in a Universal Exhibition of industry is of a surprising nature; but the members will reply that they do not know a corner of this globe where their zeal has not penetrated, that in this Babel of the Champ de Mars, they have a responsibility for souls as elsewhere, and that there are no barriers or frontiers for them. They enter everywhere with their little books in hand. They have triumphed over all sorts of persecutions, they care little for prejudices and questions of expediency. The world is their domain, they have invincible stubbornness as their engine and millions as their helpers. With this they have for more than a century carried their agents from the North Pole to the South Pole, making every year an exact inventory of the souls won and the books sold.
In order to make clear the immense role played by the propaganda of Protestant missionaries on the surface of the globe, we have collected on the principal societies of England, France and America, some statistical details which are not sufficiently well known for us to believe them to be of interest to the reader.
The Paris Evangelical Mission Society dates from 1822. It first attempted to convert the Mohammedans of Palestine, and then, from 1833, devoted all its care to the peoples of the African coast. The Basutos and their chief Moshesh were the first to be converted. -Twelve stations were established by the Society in this territory, 200 leagues from the Cape. The language of the country was so well dissected by the missionaries that they published a Basuto grammar. The society still has three other stations in southern Africa, at Motito near Kuruman for the Bechuanas-Battlapis, at Carmel in the Free State, and at Wellington in the Wagonmakers' Valley near Cape Town for the freed slaves. The society also has missions in Senegambia, in Casamance where it has already converted a good number of Mandingos and Jolofs. In Tahiti, in Oceania, it currently has two pastors and a teacher.
The Basel Mission Society was founded in 1815. Today it has 91 men and 3 women resigning: 49 in India, 35 in West Africa and 7 in China, not counting the catechists, evangelists, teachers and native missionaries, male and female, whom it has trained for the great work of propaganda.
The Dutch Mission Society is one of the oldest, having been founded in 1797. After having explored and sanctified the lands of the Cape and Hindustan, the Dutch missionaries have, since 1827, devoted themselves entirely to the populations of the islands of Amboine, Ceram, Minahassa and Java. On the islands of Ambon and Ceram, they counted 10,784 converts. In Minahassa, out of a population of 114,000 souls, there are already 60,000 Christians. In Java the task is less advanced: out of 10 million souls, there are barely a thousand communicants.
The Danish Mission Society was founded in Copenhagen in 1822. Its main task was the conversion of Greenland and some Indian stations. Greenland was divided into eight missionary departments where the majority of the natives were already converted to Christianity. The New and Old Testaments were translated into Greenlandic. The Indian stations of the Danish missionaries are Tranquebar and Putam-boukam.
The Mission Society of the National Church of England was founded in 1799 by twenty-five clerical and lay members. Its income in 1860 exceeded 166,000 l. ster., about 4,150,000 fr. The total number of European propagators of all ranks, sent on mission by the society to convert the world, is over 680. In West Africa they have 20,000 converts and 17 native ministers. The missionaries of this society speak and write more than thirty barbarian languages, the rules of which they have fixed.
The Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society has stations at all points of the compass. It has sent missionaries successively: to France since 1816 (they are still there), to Württemberg since 1832, to Milan and Naples since 1861. In Europe, it still has a station in Gibraltar. Its missions in Asia (India 1817, Ceylon 1814, China 1851), count 82 missionaries and ministers. In Africa, it reigns in Cape Town, in Cafreria and Bechuana, in Natal, in Sierra Leone and in Guinea. It has 87 missionaries in South America where it has been present since 1786. All the coasts of Australia, Polynesia (Amie Islands and Fiji Islands) and certain Indian provinces of English North America: such is, in summary, the list of countries where this gigantic conversion machine radiates and takes root.
The London Missionary Society, created in 1795 "as an overflow of the ardent desire of Christians of all sects to make Christ known to the heathen world," has given itself the exclusive task of propagating the Gospel, "leaving to those over whom the Gospel, by the grace of God, exercises its influence, the liberty of adopting such government of the Church as may seem to them more in conformity with the divine word. "The income of the London missions in 1866 amounted to 83142 l. ster, or2078,550 fr. They have 244 affiliated congregations and 30,000 communicants, 196 missionaries, 700 teachers. The young subscribers of the society have bought and chartered a missionary ship, the "John Williams", for which they pay all expenses. The London missions have as their main stations in the South Seas: the Austral Islands, Hervey, Samoan, the New Hebrides, Loyalty, the Wilderness Island; in the West Indies (America): Demerara, Barbier, Jamaica; on the coasts of Africa, Mauritius and Madagascar; twelve congregations in China and thirty-three in Hindustan.
The Society of Baptist Missions, established in 1792, has also spread its missionaries throughout the world. In India it explores Bengal, Behar, the Bombay Presidency, etc. In Bengal and Behar it has 13 stations, 63 branches, 25 missionaries, 105 preachers, 58 congregations, 40 schools and 5600 converts. In the northwest it has 5 stations with 16 branches, 8 missionaries, 47 preachers, 8 congregations and 6 schools. In 1856, 966,850 volumes of religious books and Scriptures had already been printed in India. The scriptures have been translated by the Baptist missionaries into almost all the languages of North India. The main versions are Bengali, Hindu, Urdu, Sanskrit, Persian and Armenian. In addition, 14 grammars and 9 dictionaries were composed and published by the missionaries for these various languages. In Ceylon the Baptist missions maintain 4 missionaries, 15 churches and 19 schools. In China, the society entered only in 1860; two missionaries are in the field. The Baptist missions have agents in Jamaica, Trinidad, the Bahamas and Haiti. In these islands they have 24 missionaries, over 100 congregations and a considerable number of pastors. On the west coast of Africa, 5 missionaries, 2 of whom are coloured, are spreading the word of life. They have translated the Scriptures into Dualla and Isabu. The Baptists have founded several congregations in Norway. They maintain two missionaries in France (in Brittany). They have even translated the New Testament into Breton. The total income of the society for the year 1866 was 27,716 1. str. 22 s. 6 d. about 692900 fr.
The Society of Missions of the United Brethren or Moravians dates from 1732. At present it has fifteen missions, as follows: Greenland, Labrador, Indians of the United States, St. Thomas and St. John, Holy Cross, Jamaica, Antigua, St. Kitt, Barbados, Tabago, the Mosquita Coast, Surinam, South Africa, Australia and Tibet. Its missions are subdivided into 89 permanent stations, 192 schools, 6 seminaries, 70,000 congregants, 20,800 communicants, 170 brothers, 151 Moravian sisters and more than 800 native helpers. Moravian missionaries have translated the Holy Scriptures into Arrowack and Delaware Indian, Greenlandic, Eskimo, Creole, Negro-English, Tibetan and Danish. A missionary ship maintains contact between Europe and the Labrador mission.
The Missionary Society of the Free Church of Scotland extends its propaganda to over 80 million souls. In 1865 it realised for the maintenance of its missionaries, 826350 fr. It has 189 agents and missionaries and 151 native Christians exercising the same functions. Here are its main missions: the Bengal mission founded in 1830 in Calcutta, which is divided into 11 stations and has a renowned school in Calcutta itself where the rich natives are taught European philosophy, science and literature, as well as theology; the Madras mission founded in 1837 and which has 8 stations. The mission of Bombay which dates from 1835 and is subdivided into 10 stations. The mission of Puna in the Mahratta Empire. The Central India Mission in Nagpore, and the Southern Mission in English Kaffiristan, which has 4 main stations and 24 branches and has a seminary and a professional institute in Lowedale.
The United Presbyterian Church Missionary Society has founded eight foreign missions: in Jamaica in 1824 where it now has 26 congregations; in Trinidad in 1835; in Kafferia where the station founded in 1821 was destroyed in 1851 by the Gaikas and reconstituted in 1858. Then came the Old Calabar mission, undertaken in 1846 in the Bay of Biafra, with 5 stations (the missionaries gave rules to the local language, Efik, and published the Holy Scriptures in that language); the Aleppo mission in Syria, 1858; the Hajpootana mission, 1860, in India; and the medical mission of Ringpo, in China The United Presbyterian Church last year had 46 missionaries, 12 teachers, over 100 native evangelists, 40 congregations, and 97 schools. The total expenditure in 1865 was 21,629 l. ster, or 540,725 fr.
The Bible Society, British and Foreign, was founded on March 7, 1804, for the purpose of spreading the knowledge of the Holy Scriptures without notes or commentaries, in England and abroad. It maintains direct and continuous relations with 9616 religious societies in its operations. Since the foundation of the Society, the Bible has been translated into 50 different languages. At present the Society has spread the Holy Scriptures in 173 different languages. Since 1804, the Society has distributed 50,285,709 copies of Bibles through its direct agents and over 36 million copies through corresponding societies, making a total of over 86 million copies of the Holy Scriptures. The income of the Bible Society last year amounted to 4,259,473 Fr. The expenses since the foundation amount to 150 million Fr.
The Société des traités religieux "founded in 1799 for the publication of religious books of all kinds has in its catalogue 8400 various works. During the year 1866, the number of publications distributed by the London depot amounted to 38,731,663 copies. The affiliated societies distributed 5 million copies. The total number of books distributed by the Society since its foundation is eleven hundred and forty-six million copies in one hundred and ninety-nine different languages. The Society has founded 16,969 religious libraries since 1832.
This year it granted 364,375 francs in aid.
Its receipts for 1866 amounted to 107255 1. str. or 2 681 375 fr.
The American Association for Foreign Missions is supported by the Congregationalists and Presbyterians. Its annual expenses exceed 2500,000 fr.
The society has missionaries in China, Hindustan, Ceylon, Persia, Palestine, Asiatic Turkey, European Turkey, and Africa, and has almost entirely converted the people of the Sandwich Islands to Christianity.
Such are the evangelical missions which, in the interest of Protestant dogma, have taken over the task so energetically pursued in the past by the Jesuits. Like them, they move millions and command entire peoples; like them, they seem to despise nothing that can increase revenues so piously employed. For the most part, moreover, these societies originated in England, and it is well known that the spirit of propaganda does not stifle the Englishman's taste for commerce. Their stations are trading posts; their agents trade while converting; always devoted to the interests of the mother country, while subjecting souls to the laws of the Gospel, they do not forget to discipline the bodies under the British protectorate, and when they plant the holy cross, they plant beside it the English flag. A study of the tendencies, the efforts and the results of these various missions would no doubt be very curious, but it would take us too far outside our framework... and the Missions Museum awaits our visit.
Each missionary has contributed his or her quota to this collection of wild trinkets. Many of these objects seem common to us because they have already been seen. So many have been brought back to Europe that all these curiosities are sold at a discount at the Hotel Drouot. There are, however, enough remarkable and new things in the Evangelical Museum to merit the attention of amateurs. Collections of weapons of all kinds, idols of all kinds, models of costumes of great fidelity. I recommend the bust of Kaïli, the main god of war of Kamehameha I, king of the Sandwich Islands. This divine monster, with its blunt nose and gaping, hungry jaw, must have been truly terrible to its believers. For us, it is an ingenious wicker mannequin covered with the red down of parrots. A mother-of-pearl diamond forms the white of its eye, a black wooden ball its slit. The mouth - one is almost tempted to say the mouth - is armed with a double row of wolf teeth. His frowning eyebrows, his curved chin, his strangely humped forehead give him the most ferocious look in the world. Further on, Té-Tongo, another god, made of wood this one, carries in his belly his three sons, like the kanguroo his young.
This sort of long wicker cone covered with red feathers, topped with black feathers, and measuring more than a metre and a half in height, is a royal cap. It is a convenient ornament that the prince must keep balanced on his head, either in war or in dancing. As I pass, I see a pair of tapestry slippers that the Rue Saint-Denis would recognize as its own. How did it come to be stranded next to this skull once adored by cannibals?
Under a special display case, a strange object is spread out like a shrine. "It is the hat of a head-chopper (says the legend), who, having cut off the heads of a hundred individuals, had thus acquired the right to wear this decoration. "It is a kind of crown with a daylight, made of cut and painted leather, rounding around the head and then extending to the right and left like the two wings of a gendarme's tricorn. The cut-outs that form the body of this strange headdress represent snakes, intertwined lianas, and Indians with swords in their hands. Five sticks ending in feather dusters and arranged in a fan shape protrude from the hat. These sticks are carefully wrapped in pieces of French jaconas with printed flowers, the origin of which the first novelty clerk could tell us. The side plumes are made of bird of paradise feathers. The central plume is made of rooster feathers. Finally, as the head cutter did not deny himself any luxury, on each side of the forehead are glued small penny mirrors like one of our exhibitors of class 91, Mr. Paillard, sends thousands of them to the five parts of the world.
Here are bone spoons in the shape of a mustard spoon; the negroes of southern Africa use them for taking powdered tobacco. These iron spatulas dispense with handkerchiefs. Let us mention in passing the cannibal forks of the Fijians, the curly-haired wigs with which they dress and the concave wooden stools which serve as pillows.
The London missions exhibit a curious group as a specimen of Indian art. This is the beautiful and ferocious Kali, the goddess of cruelty trampling on her husband Siva. The four-armed goddess is completely naked. Her body is painted blue. Her lips, hands and breasts are red with blood. A long string of severed heads serves as her necklace. Around her loins, sections of arms bound together form a hideous belt. It is indeed in this attitude of bloodthirsty exaltation and furious rage that we picture Kali, the deity so dear to the stranglers of India.
©L'Exposition Universelle de 1867 Illustrée