Page images
PDF
EPUB

the most prominent objects on which the youthful mind is invitted to dwell in estimating the rank of a country among civilized nations. In vain may the young Barbarian ransack the pages of such works to discover what creates the public resources and the national mind, a people's real grandeur, of which successful war apart from its moral justness, is but a poor indication which betrays regression to the practice of savages instead of being intrinsically and absolutely glorious. The Delhi students appear most deficient in the idiom of the English Language as might be expected. This however does not indicate ignorance of it to those who know how unessential the mere position and nice propriety of words are to the ideas which they communicate. The youthis while committing such solecisms in translation will shew that it proceeds from no confusion of thought by giving the purport of the sentence correctly and fluently in their own tongue when told to shut the book and do so. Practice in composition and double translation, in which they are to be employed hereafter, will certainly tend to supply this deficiency, yet I doubt whether the idiom of a living language is communicable otherwise than orally, in familiar conversation. On this account, I think the admittance of a few English boys, the sons of non-commissioned officers, for instance, who frequently speak well before they learn their letters would be an acquisition of some value to the Establishment. An exception ought here to be mentioned, however, in the case of one young man who though not perfect as a speaker writes and converses with tolerable accuracy. He was lately enabled to make English the medium of giving a French Gentleman lessons in Persian. The whole of the first class which he belongs to appear intelligent and active minded beyond their compeers in the Mudrusa, owing I doubt not to a system of tuition which exercises the intellect by requiring every one to comprehend what he reads, but this youth who is a Bramin, is considerably in advance of the rest. An anecdote of him may confirm the members of the Durma Shubba in believing such instruction somewhat dangerous to the irrational parts of their creed. When he bad studied only 12 or 15 months, one of the committee without the least design to touch on religious points, which are carefully avoided, asked him to define “ superstition” a word that occur. red in his lesson. The student gave several Hindoostanee and Persian equivalents : but the interrogater to be sure that the lad was not answering by rote from the Dictionary and substituting sounds for ideas desired him to describe what sort of acts were Superstitious.Pilgrims," said the young Hindoo " who crawl on hands and feet to Jaggernath practise superstition.

It is remarkable that the Hindus, so idly called “ unchangeable” are decidedly taking the lead in conducting their country. men to the Literature, arts and sciences of a nation advanced in civilization and refinement. Though Delhi is a Mussulman town, they constitute 65 per cent, including five Bramins of the members attending the English seminary. This great improvement, or rather beginning, of useful education dates from the foundation of the Hindoo College of Calcutta in 1823, though schools on a small scale had no doubt previously suggested the plan. It has already produced scholars who not only comprehend and relish the language of Milton and Shakespear, but have begun to use it in original compositions. What is to hinder them from mastering it as thoroughly as their compatriots of the mixed race who never leave India? If we except perhaps the sons of Persians, born in this country, I am not aware of any native who has written better in Persian than Ram Mohun Roy in English. Are there not thousands more, able and willing to do as much as be has done? In short, I conceive that paramount policy, if not duty, concurs with the inclination of the people themselves, to make English the language of educated men throughout British India. Who that has read the classics in early life, does not continue to venerate the institutions of Greece and Rome with filial regard even after knowing their imperíections? The predominance of French in modern Europe, serving not only to disseminate popular principles, but to ally the countrymen of Fenelon and Voltaire with the readers of

every

other country, ensured a welcome to the armies of France to which the patriotism that exists under despotic Governments opposed but a feeble barrier. That the same partiality has been felt for a century is attested by Rousseau, who depicts the enthusiasm with which he and others were wont to hear of the victories of a people whose literature had enlisted the hearts of foreigners in their cause. On the other hand the cultivation of oriental languages has an obvious tendency to keep the rulers of the country and their eastern subjects for ever disunited. The young

Mussulman imbibes with bis Arabic intolerance of their creeds, contempt for the acquirements of Christians and detestation of their dominion. The Hindoo in his passage through the chaos of Sanscrit fable and Philosophy is taught to look on all Mlechas (Barbarians) as unclean wild beasts, whom he submits to but loathes as lie would cherish his primeval purity. Besides thus engendering disaffection to European sway, these languages, en:bodying the two religions, contain the fountains of whatever is objectionable in Mahommedan bigotry and debasing in the idolatrous superstition of India. The sacrifice of interest by the Government to please parents, in conveying children to slake their first thirst of knowledge at the poisoned waters, is not greater than the injury inflicted on the young med themselves. With a few exceptions illustrative of the extravagant over-estinate which accomplished Scholars often make of the value of a foreign language which they have undergone the drudgery of acquiring, it is generally admitted that Sanscrit and Arabic can supply nothing from all their stores calculated to instruct or improve civilized men. I should add that they had done their utmost before our time, and we have seen the full effect of their influence after the work of many centuries. Shall we continue to waste the greater portion of limited resources, destined for a good purpose, in making bad subjects and keeping a people stationary in the vestibule of civilization? Sell interest and philanthropy would equally withhold encouragement to the oriental education of natives. I would not however proscribe any studies whatever. There is a wide and evident distinction be. tween neglect and prohibition in such things. The way to Mecca and to Gangontrie, is open : but we do not furnish ships camels and Jampauses to take pilgrims thither. Neither would I give stipends to the ingenious youth of these realms for learning to construe the Koran and the Vedas. Of Persian I have little to say that does not apply to it in common with those more recondite tongues. Less praised as an instrument of thought, indeed, I believe intrinsically barren, it owes it's present importance entirely to the despotic enactment of Mussulman conquerors, who introduced it with their Prophet's code as the language of courts of law and public business: where it continues under us, as useful to venal otficials as Latin was to Priests in the corrupt days of Christianity, by enabling them to practise dupery on a people to whom it is an unmeaning sound.

These, let it be remembered, are all foreign languages to the inhabitants of India and except the last, about as difficult to learn as English. None of them could be made the vehicle of modern science without the coinage of such a multitude of new and untranslatable words as in Dryden's phrase, would overpower the native speech. The Hindestanee or Oordoo, a medley like the Lingua França, is universally spoken over India, but has been little used in composition. I deprecate the wrath of its admirers in denying the honour of a written language, for any influential purpose, to that of which a judge fully competent and far from hostile, * pronounces Dr. Gilchrist to have been the “Creator.” From these premises I conclude that natives of this country have absolutely no vernacular literature. The privilege of filling such a void, in the moral constitution of 50 or 100 millions of people, is one of incalculable value, which promises safer anchorage to the Ark of British power and a boundless inlet to European civilization with all it's blessings. The only le. gitimate fetters that conquerors can forge may be imposed here by a community of language, enabling the sages and the Poets of Britain to hold the minds of a foreign race in willing vassalage for the wisdom and enjoyment which they confer. After blood relationship, no ties are more cherished and durable than those which result from association in intellectual pleasures and pursuits. Men who derive their mental being and nutriment from the same source have a bond of union not less strong than similarity of complexion or birth on the same soil. A Hindu of taste even if a christian, I conceive, could not endure our convivial habits which restrict ordinary intercourse to dining and that on fare which revolts his habitual sense of decorum. But he might associate with Europeans in cordial intimacy at literary and scientific meetings if qualified to take a part in the proceedings.

* H. H. Wilson's, Preface to Oriental Proverbs.

Their shortest road to the acquisitions necessary for all these desirable ends would appear very obvious did not prejudice and ill founded apprehension distort the views of natives and not a few Europeans too, from the path of truth and good policy. Besides indigenous stores, far superior to the collective learning, and science of the East the accumulated light of past times, converging from Greece and Rome and all existing nations, is now to be found concentrated in the English language. If the object of native education is to impart useful and ornamental knowledge, why not conduct the youth of India to this focal point, instead of equipping them to pursue the few straggling rays that break through the systems of their ancestors ?

If the interests of the rulers, and of the people, concur in requiring the introduction of English, in place of Persian, as the literary and official language of the country, it will not be ditlicult to shew its practicability. An indigenous defect is partly proved by the existence of a bad exotic system in India, which again affords preseumptive evidence, that a good one might take root and thrive under similar care.

Not to speak of the republic of Hayti, French is the medium of communication in all public affairs, and private intercourse among the educated classes of Russia. It is much the same at the Courts of Germany, except where Italian is spoken. Notwithstanding the many works of genius recently produced in German, such men as Humboldt, Gentz, and the King of Bavaria, still write for the present and future times, in a foreign tongue. English itself is similarly used by the Welch, Native Irish, and Scottish Highlanders, among whom it is not yet universal, partly through an erring patriotism, which would rebuild the Roman wall, no longer to protect the civilized province,

against the inroads of savages, but to defend the last recesses of barbarism, from the encroaching tide of civilization. European education of the Natives is retarded and opposed at present : Ist, by the indifference of the Government; 2dly, the consequent deficiency of funds ; 3dly, the apprehensions entertained of its consequences by European functionaries; 4thly, the hostility of Moulvies and Pundits, which is too natural to be blamed.

Though all these causes exist independently their operation and united influence are owing to the continuance of the first. The people of India, and perhaps of every country, similarly governed, are slow in believing the supremne authority desirous of any thing which it does not command, or what is equivalent, recommend. Much less negociation and interference than were, not long since, requisite to obtain loans of money, and a monopoly of Malwa Opium, would etfect the nobler purpose of inducing wealthy Natives to educate their children like Englishmen of the same rank, and endow seminaries for teaching all who are willing to learn. In the Upper Provinces, Hindus or Mussulmans of rank, consider it derogatory to send their sons to a public school. Hence such institutions as the Delhi College, serve only for young men of the humbler classes, who would have to earn their daily bread, instead of studying English, were they not supported by the Government. But the great defect of the present policy is, that it holds out no prospect of a respectable livelihood to them hereafter. The Delhi Students may, in time, enter the world well instructed in European literature and science, and yet be unable to get the wages of a day labourer, by these acquisitions.

They and their acquirements, consequently, sinking into equal contempt, would soon degrade the learning of Christians, as much beneath that of Mussulmans, as impolitic concession bas already lowered their caste in the estimation of Hindus. An educated Native to subsist must know Persian, because though also foreign to him, it is the inedium of public business. The question recurs, “ why it is so ?" and since no good reason is given, "how long is it to exclude our own language ?" Were Persian abolished and English substituted in only one Zillah Court every year, the old amlahs being provided for as vacancies occurred in other districts, and the best qualified of the new candidates admitted to office, neither class need suffer by collision, while men infinitely superior, as intellectual beings, and in the knowledge, at least, of morality, gradually superseded the instruments of a system confessedly corrupt. Having done so at home, the paramount Government has only to intimate to the Princes of the country, that correspondence between them is in future to be carried on in English, to insure employment

« EelmineJätka »