« PreviousContinue »
The boasted Temple no sooner lost its builder than it was sacked and despoiled of all that was precious—the “three hundred shields of beaten gold” and “all the vessels of pure gold” were borne off in triumph to the new Temple at Karnak, on the wall of which the records of Sheshonk's victorious campaign are still patent; and amongst the most interesting and instructive evidences with which that mighty wilderness of mural records abounds.
Where, again, we ask, was Chaldæa, or Assyria, in this march of events? Still, it would seem, in the low condition—may we not say semi-barbarous?—in which the subjugation by Pharaohs long anterior to Sheshonk had kept or left the Rutennou, as they are termed in Thotmes' annals. Centuries after Thotmes the ten tribes of Israel recover their freedom, their independency, through Egypt's aid, in Rehoboam’s reign. The fugitive prince Jeroboam returns and becomes their first king, through the intervention of his royal connexion, and Israel has a history of its own.
Not until the reign of Hoshea, the eighteenth successor of Jeroboam I., do we find Assyria so advanced as to achieve, by Shalmaneser, the conquest of Samaria, and impose its slavery upon the Ten Tribes.
These, and such as these, are the considerations which must weigh with the philosophical ethnologist and historian in propounding any theory, worthy of acceptance, of the origin of Egyptian monarchy or of the chronological relation thereto of Chaldæan civilization.
It would be no exaggeration, in view of the conditions of Woodward's bequest to Cambridge, and those under which the gifted Buckland wrote his “Reliquiæ Diluvianæ," and beneath the social opprobrium that long hung over whomsoever ventured to interpret geological and palæontological phenomena adversely to dogmatic chronologies and stories of physical phenomena, to lament the loss of a century or more in attaining our present glorious liberty of looking, thinking, and prophesying on the antiquity of our planet and of the creatures that have enjoyed thereon the powers and privileges of life!
The ethnology of the so-called Semitic races of mankind seems not yet to have attained that liberty. She still, I fear, hugs her chains, or a remnant of them. I appeal, therefore, to my fellow Orientalists, to cast away prepossessions as to time, place, affinity, race, for which there may not be rightly-observed, well-determined data, and to bring to bear on the dark vistas of the past, in human history, the pure dry light of science.
After chemistry, no science has been so sorely tried as biology, through changes of abstract terms; yet, when expressive of new and true generalizations and purgative of false notions, the gain has abundantly repaid and rewarded the trouble. Geology has abandoned the term “ diluvial” as applied, in relation to the Noachian deluge, to any sedimentary formations. In England we have found it inconvenient and misleading to use it even as an arbitrary designation. May the time be soon at hand when truer terms—and no one fitter to propound them than Max Müller-will be applied, in ethnology, to groups of peoples and of tongues now called respectively Hammonic, Semitic, and Japetic!
*** Numerous photographs of native races, Pharaohs and other Egyptians of the oldest empire, were handed round to illustrate the paper, and a large map of Egypt, as well as a chronological table of the Manethonian dynasties, hung against the wall, to which the learned President of the Section frequently pointed.
ORIENTAL PROVERBS AND THEIR USES,
IN SOCIOLOGY, ETHNOLOGY, PHILOLOGY, AND EDUCATION.
BY THE Rev. J. LONG,
Late of Calcutta.
ORIENTAL Proverbs embrace a very wide range, but I shall limit myself in this paper to that branch of them relating to India, and in use among the 240,000,000 British subjects of that vast continent. Those of Burma, China, and Eastern Asia are a distinct and interesting class, but little is known of them, though it is to be hoped that measures will be adopted for their publication and translation.
It is singular how Oriental Proverbs seem to be ignored in modern European works on Proverbs; writers on Proverbiology appear to be scarcely conscious of the rich treasure of folklore which exists in Eastern lands. Bohn makes no allusion to Oriental Proverbs in his popular and excellent works on Proverbs. Archbishop Trench, in his valuable Lectures on Proverbs, does not notice Oriental Proverbs; and Kelly, in his interesting volume, "The Proverbs of all Nations Compared,” pays scant attention to the Oriental branch, though it would throw much light on the diversities of form assumed by the same idea among peoples long and widely separated, yet of the same great Aryan stock.
These, like other writers, forget the old maxim Ex oriente lat. One reason of this doubtless was the distance of Oriental subjects from the European horizon of thought, and particularly those relating to folklore, which require for their full comprehension personal contact with the common people.
On the other hand, while Burkhardt, Roebuck, Freytag, Erpenius, Pocock, etc., etc., laboured nobly in the science of Proverbiology, Orientalists themselves have not given of late that prominence to Proverbs which they deserve, being, as defined by Aristotle, “Remnants, which, on account of their shortness and correctness, have been saved out of the wreck and ruins of ancient philosophy.” Proverbs are truly fragments of wisdom and oral tradition floating down the stream of time, and we need a Colebrooke to notice them in this point of view, as they may perhaps afford a clue to certain affinities of Buddhism and Brahmanism, of the Pali and Prakrit languages.
Some Orientalists, however, like Lord Chesterfield, may think the study of proverbs mean and vulgar, unworthy the dignity of scholars,
for such the remarks of D'Israeli are not inappropriate : “Proverbs, those neglected fragments of wisdom which exist among all nations, still offer many interesting objects, for the studies of the philosopher and historian and for men of the world, they still open an extensive school of human life and manners."
Oriental studies will be more valued by the public at large when they are shown to deal with subjects that come home to the bosom of every human being—when philosophy is brought from the clouds to dwell among men. Many shrink from Oriental studies in these days of utilitarianism and hand to mouth knowledge; they think that, like metaphysics, they lead to no investigations of practical utility; that they do not pay in a commercial, money-making age: hence Orientalists are too often regarded as a species of modern mummies, investigators of dry roots, Old Mortalities making rubbings on tombstones.
I am old enough, however, to remember when the study of even Sanskrit was regarded of as little use as is now the study of the Schoolmen of the Middle Ages, but a wonderful revolution has taken place in this respect in public opinion: one cause of it I ascribe to the writings of the President of the Aryan Section of this Congress, Professor Max Müller, who, in his “History of Sanskrit Literature," and
“Chips from a German Workshop,” has pointed out, in such a popular and fascinating style, the value of Sanskrit in relation to linguistic and social subjects. I can bear testimony to the revival of a zeal for Sanskrit studies in India among the rising alumni of the country on similar grounds. I myself published a little work for village schools, “Sanskrit Roots and Bengali Derivatives," and in a few years it has gone through eight editions.
We may hope then for a revival of an interest in Oriental Proverbs, and especially in a day when folklore is so successfully and enthusiastically cultivated in England, Germany and Russia; when even ballad societies are popular, and it is a received maxim, “Nihil humani a me alienum puto.”
The study of the masses is important in every point of view; they are now becoming politically our masters, and we should therefore know them.
The way in the East for the study of Proverbiology is also smoothed: the days of Halhed are passed away for ever, when he complained “that the Pandits were to a man resolute in rejecting all his solicitations for instruction in their dialect, and that the persuasion and influence of the Governor-General were in vain exerted to the same purpose.” I myself have pursued inquiries regarding native literature in various parts of India, and everywhere, from the Pandits of Kashmir to those of Benares, Puna, and Travankur, have I found every facility offered me, while the editors of the native press threw open their columns to aid in my investigations.
In these days of utilitarianism and discursive study, no subject can gain a hold on the public mind except it be connected with objects historical, social, or religious. Oriental studies are in this respect winning their way, owing to the connexion they have with linguistic subjects, with the knowledge of man in his social development, with the history of religions, and with the interpretation of Scripture.
On these grounds Indian proverbs may claim attention in relation to I. Sociology, or the life and opinions of the masses in India.
II. Ethnology—the origin of the Hindu race—the aboriginal tribes -history and antiquities.
III. Philology — the archaic words and dialectic forms in local proverbs—their affinities with the Turanian and Aryan.