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0350 Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1
Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1 / Page 350 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000042
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the city of Flandrina some of the inhabitants are Jews' and some are Christians ;2 and between those two cities there is

that Shinkali or Cranganor is intended (see the passage quoted in the preliminary essay to this volume).

1 The Jews of Malabar were and are distinguished into black and white. The former are much more assimilated to the Hindu natives,

and are regarded as inferiors by the latter. Thirty years ago, the white Jews were reduced to about two hundred, living in Mattancheri, a

suburb of Cochin, in which the black Jews also had a separate syna-

gogue. The great body of the black Jews inhabited towns in the interior, and had many other synagogues. The tradition of these latter was that

they were part of the tribe of Manasseh carried captive by Nebuchad-

nezzar, who emigrated at a later period to Cranganore. The white Jews believe themselves to have come soon after the destruction of Jerusalem.

A grant in favour of the Jews, by a native king in Malabar, is said to date from A.D. 231. Firishta testifies to their presence when the first Mahomedans settled on the coast.

Padre Paolino, towards the end of last century, estimated the Jews of Mattancheri, Mutlam, and Kayan Kulam at between 15,000 and 20,000. (J. R. A. Soc., i, 173, and vi, p. 6 ; P. Paolino di S. Bartolomeo, Viaggi, p. 109 ; Briggs's Firishta, iv, 532, quoted by Ritter.)

2 Some slight account of the present state of the Malabar Christians will be found in a work lately published by the Rev. G. B. Howard,

formerly a chaplain in those parts. It is some satisfaction to learn from

this book that the Christians have not greatly diminished in number
since the beginning of the sixteenth century, when the Nestorian Bishop

Jaballaha reported them as consisting of 30,000 families—say 150,000

souls. For Mr. Howard states the last estimate of the Syrian Christians
in Travancore and Cochin to be 116,483; whilst those of the Syro-Roman

Church, who ought, perhaps, to be taken into account, are reckoned at 117,000 more. It is also pleasant to learn that the Syrian Christians are still held in respect by their heathen neighbours, and still retain that character " as a sensible honest people, remarkable for modesty and truth," to which a long chain of witnesses has borne testimony. One of

these is the Carmelite P. Vincenzo Maria, who was sent from Rome in the middle of the seventeeth century to bring dissidents into the Roman

pen; and his evidence is distinct as to their sobriety, courage, and superiority to the ordinary " Gentiles " in disposition, intellect, and manners. At the same time, he vividly depicts their Asiatic traits, their flattery, fluent talk, ceremonies, politeness, and prolixity.

These things are pleasant to hear of, but almost everything else in their history for three hundred and fifty years is painful. The contact

of Eastern and Western, even when there are none of the more selfish interests in collision, oftener breeds evil than good. The relations of the English Church with the Syrian, initiated with the best feelings on one side, and welcomed on the other, have ended only in disappointment and