Page images
PDF
EPUB

of which it formed at least three-fourths. What has not been accomplished since then! What has not linguistic science, impelled and used by the zeal of the Christian missionary, since done to Christianise the Heathen, and raise them in the scale of civilisation! Great as were the acquirements of Carey in Sanskrit, we must ever consider him rather as the “ Father of Bengallee Literature." Before his time it had no existence, and the language of thirty millions was without a printed book. Since his day, and chiefly through his labours and his press, a literature, native and indigenous, as well as artificial and Anglicised, has been created. The name of Carey's Pundit, Mrityunjaya Vidyalankara, deserves to be mentioned along with his. For a full and hearty estimate of Dr. Carey as a philologist, we would refer our readers to a statement by Professor H. H. Wilson in the Doctor's life written by Eustace Carey. He passed away from the scene of his incessant labours on the 9th of June, 1834, aged seventy-three years. Of these upwards of forty had been spent in India.

To write the history of the philological labours of missionaries in India would be to fill a volume. In India as in other lands, from Schwartz and Carey to Livingstone, they have ever been the pioneers of civilisation, and have generally first broken ground on the languages of the countries which they visited. Actuated by a higher principle than even scientific research, they have contributed to Comparative Philology a large share of those rapidly increasing materials, which form the data from which its principles and laws are deduced. We may pass over Dr. Joshua Marshman who, in 1806, so mastered the Chinese* that he translated the Scriptures into that language, in 1809 the works of Confucius, and in 1814 issued his Chinese Grammar. Dr. William Yates was no unworthy co-adjutor and successor of Carey. Born in Leicestershire in 1792, he devoted himself to the Baptist ministry and mission in India, and landed at Calcutta in April, 1815. Settling at first at Serampore he became intimately associated with Carey in most of his literary labours. On the separation of the Serampore mission from the Parent Society, he removed to Calcutta, and in that city spent the rest of his useful life, varied only by a visit to America and Europe. In addition to his incessant labours, both evangelistic and educational, to his translations of the Scriptures, and the duties entailed upon him by his connexion with the School Book Society, he was able to assist,

* Two Treatises on the Sanskrit Language exist in Chinese, one written so early as A. D. 1020, the other by the Emperor Kien Lung in 1749. Will nobody translate them ?

[ocr errors]

not a little, the cause of Sanskrit Philology. In 1820, he issued a Sanskrit Grammar, compiled, as acknowledged, from those of Forster, Wilkins, Colebrooke, and Carey already mentioned. It is important chiefly as the first attempt to simplify native methods, and reduce the whole mass of native rules and circumlocution to intelligibility and order. It contained a valuable section on Sanskrit Prosody. He issued, for the School Book Society, a Sanskrit Vocabulary in 1820, and Sanskrit Reader in 1822. The most important work that he published, and one displaying immense industry, was in 1814, and entitled, “ The Nalodaya or History of King Nala, a Sanskrit

Poem by Kalidasa. Accompanied with a metrical translation, • an Essay on Alliteration, an account of other similar works,

and a Grammatical Analysis.” Dr. Yates however was more of a plain common sense translator, than a philosophical linguist. One object alone demanded his attention, as a missionary, and he made all others subservient to it. So highly were his abilities in a practical way valued, that Sir E. Ryan offered him £1,000 per annum to devote his whole time to the compilation of schoolbooks in Bengallee and Hindustanee. The last fruit of the philological labours of missionaries in India is seen in a work sately written by the Rev. Mr. Caldwell of South IndiaA Comparative Grammar of the Dravidian or South Indian Family of Languages.” The estimation in which it is held by scholars may be gathered from the fact that the University of Glasgow has conferred on the author the degree of D. D., and he has been, in flattering terms, elected an honorary member of the Royal Asiatic Society.

The publication of the Bhagavat Geeta’ by Wilkins had roused the attention of all the scholars of Europe, and directed their eyes towards the Sanskrit. The translation of Wilkins was speedily turned again into French, German, and Russian, and all were astonished at the mine of philosophic and poetic wealth that had hitherto lain concealed. The proceedings of the Asiatic Society in Calcutta were communicated to the learned of Europe and carefully studied, and among certain circles the names of Colebrooke, Wilkins and Jones became as familiar as in England. When curiosity was at its height, and the grandest results were expected, the deception of which Wilford had been the victim was disclosed. A disposition was manifested by some to treat the whole as a literary imposture, and to throw discredit on all the researches together. But at this time, a scholar arose who, with rare critical skill and enthusiasm, applied a higher philosophy to the results of the discoveries in Calcutta, and developed from them much that was valuable in Comparative Philology. That was

Frederick Schlegel, in his important "Essay on the Language and Philosophy of the Hindus” which was published in 1808. Schlegel's father was a Lutheran pastor in Hanover. He had three sons, of whom the eldest-Charles Augustus, entered a Hanoverian regiment, and with it was sent out to India. He was beginning to give promise of becoming an accomplished orientalist, when he died at Madras in 1789. Augustus William Schlegel, born in 1769, is well known as a scholar and a critic,-especially as the translator of Shakspear into German,

Frederick was born in 1772, and after passing through a course of classical and literary study at Göttingen and Leipzig, published in 1794 his first work—an Essay on the different schools of Greek Poetry. He had drunk deeply, at the fountain of Hellenism, of that philosophy and thought, which were then beginning to stir up the soul of Germany from the slumber into which the system of Wolf and the despotism of France had plunged it. Filled with its spirit he eagerly directed his attention to the new field of the East which was now opened up. He immediately set himself to the study of Sanskrit, and in 1802, visited Paris for that purpose. There he had command of the many oriental MSS. that were stored up in the Imperial Library, and was aided by the scholarship of M.M. de Langles and Chézy, especially in Persian. In Sanskrit his chief instructor was Mr. Alexander Hamilton, whom he describes as “a member of the British Society of Calcutta, and

at present Professor of the Persian and Indian dialects in Lon

don.” The fruit of his studies was seen in the publication of his Essay, already mentioned, in 1808. That at once supplied to the researches of the English in Calcutta what was wanted a philosophic method which could generalise all that was already done, and reduce it to a system. What Sir W. Jones had hinted at, Schlegel fully accomplished, and even as his great country, man Leibnitz had done a century before, laid the philosophical basis of Comparative Philology, as Sir W. Jones and the others had laid the linguistic. From that time till now the study has advanced, and every new writer has only placed it on a firmer position as a Science. The special value of Schlegel's work is this, that he directed attention to the affinity between languages, not merely in words, but (what is far more important) in grammatical construction and forms. He recalled the scholars of his day from the waste of words in which they too often lost themselves, and shewed that grammatical is more important than lexical affinity, while both must combine to afford a principle on which all languages can be safely pronounced to agree or disagree with each other. His opinions have not however been universally allowed, and hence the existence of two distinct

[ocr errors]

6

schools in this period—the lexical or glossarial, and the grammatical.

This introduces us to the third period of the History of Comparative Philology, at which we can give only a glance. It must be described at some future time, when one may be better able to estimate its value and record its progress.

The name of Haughton meets us. In 1825, Sir Graves C. Haughton, Kt.,

. K. H., M. A., F. R. S., published “Mánava Dherma-Sastra,' or the Institutes of Manu. The first volume contained the Sanskrit Text, and the second, an English translation of it. The whole was an improved edition of that issued by Sir W. Jones. In 1833, he published a “ Dictionary in Bengali and Sanskrit, ex

plained in English, and adapted for students of either language

as a reversed Dictionary.” The glory of the Asiatic Society had continued among many changes, and about this period it was increased by the zeal and learning of James Prinsep. His labours however belong rather to the department of Archælogy, Numismatics and History, than to Comparative Philology. In 1828 an important work appeared, “Researches into the Origin and Affin

ity of the principal languages of Asia and Europe, by Lieutenant

Colonel Vans Kennedy, of the Bombay Military Establishment.” The work excited not a little controversy, especially as throughout it there are many controversial statements. The comparative lists at the end of it are somewhat valuable. In 1823, a Greek, Nicolo Kiephala of Zante, returned from India, after spending some time in Benares. He brought along with him and presented to the library of the Vatican a MS., containing the Sanskrit original of the Moral Sentences of the Indian Philosopher, Sanakea. It was translated into Greek,* under the title of

. As the Indian Philosopher was translated into Greek, so our readers may feel some curiosity in learning that the Greek Philsopher- Aristotle, was translated into Sanskrit—at least his Dialectics. Adelung in his historical Sketch of Sanskrit Literature, as translated and amended by the Oxford Publisher, Talboys, (1832) refers to the Asiatic Journal, June, 1827, p. 814, where the following account of it is given :

“ After the introduction of juries into Ceylon, a wealthy Brahman, whose unpopular character had rendered him obnoxious to many, was accused of murdering his nephew, and put upon trial. He chose a jury of his own caste ; but so strong was the evidence against him, that twelve (out of thirteen) of the jury were thoroughly convinced of his guilt. The dissentient juror, a young Brahman of Rumiserum, stood up, declared his persuasion that the prisoner was the victim of conspiracy and desired that all the witnesses might be recalled. He examined them with astonishing dexterity and acuteness, and succeeded in extorting from them such proofs of their perjury that the jury, instead of consigning the accused to an ignominious death, pronounced him innocent. The affair made much noise in the island; and the chief justice (sir A. Johnstou himself) sent for the juror who had so distinguished himself, and complimented him upon the talents he had displayed. The Braliman attributes his skill to the study of a book, which he called • Strengthener of the mind." He had procured it he said, from some pi grims at Rumiserum who obtained it from Persia ; and he had translated it from the Sanskrit, into which it had been rendered from the Persian. Sir A Johuston expressing curiosity to see this work, the Brahman brought him a Tamul VS. on palm leaves, which Sir Alexander found, to his infinite surprise, to be the Dialectics of Aristotle.

[ocr errors]

«« Συνοψις γνωμων ηθικών του Ινδού φιλοσοφου Σανακέα έκ της Σανκριτης ήτοι Βραχμανικής των Ινδών διαλεκτού εις την Ελληνίδα και Ιταλιδα μετενεχθείσα φωνήν υπο του Ελληνος περιηγητού Κ. Νικολά Καιφαλα του έκ Ζακύνθου. 'Αφιερώνεται εις όλους Γενικώς τους πατέρας των φαμιλιών. Το κειμενον Ινδικόν 'αφηερώθη απο τον μεταφραστής εις την Αγίαν Παπικήν Βιβλιοθήκης του Βατικάνου εις γενικής θεωρίαν, Ρωμη αωκε.

An Italian translation of it was also published, entitled, Sommario di Sentenze Morali del Filosofo Indiano Sanekea, del dialetto Sanscrite ossia Bracmanico Indiano nella lingua Greca e Italiano tradotto dal Viaggiatore Greco Cap. Nicola Chiefala di Zante, dedicato a tutti li Padri di famiglia. Il testo indiano è stato depositato del translatore nella sacra Papale Bibliotheca di Vaticano a generale osservazione. In Roma, 1825.

It will be seen then, that whether we look at the languages contributed to the study, or at the men who have conducta ed it, India holds the most important place in the history of Comparative Philology. Nor has it ceased to hold it. It is now represented by Horace Hayman Wilson, a scholar who stands at the very head of all orientalism, and who by his skill, genius and industry, has done more than any other for Sanskrit literature. He has had the advantage of the labours of all the scholars who preceded him. When about to leave India, and to resign the important post that for twenty-three years he bad held, of Secretary to the Asiatic Society, its members felt called upon to acknowledge for themselves and posterity his great and unexampled services to the cause of India generally, but especially to its Philology. Accordingly a deputation with an address to him waited upon him, consisting of the President, Sir Edward Ryan, and the Vice-Presidents, Dr. Mill, Dr. Tytler and Captain Troyer. The address summed up in elegant and truthful language his great merits as a scholar,—if great then, how much greater now,—and requested that he would permit his bust to be taken by the most eminent sculptor in England, at the charge of the Society. That bust now adorns its Hall. While it is far from our intention to enter into the life of Wilson, seeing that, happily for the cause of science, he is still working on, and adding to his reputation fresh laurels, we must allude the cause of his leaving India, where he had so many opportunities for extending his studies. The late John Boden, Esq., a Colonel in the Company's service, being of opinion that a more critical knowledge of Sanskrit would enable missionaries to discharge their calling in India better, bequeathed the whole of his property to the University of Oxford for the purpose of promoting its study. A Chair was established by a Decree of Chancery in 1830. In 1832, Horace Hayman Wilson was elected its first Professor, and has ever since continued to adorn it,

« PreviousContinue »