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ON THE ABORIGINES OF NORTH-EASTERN
PURSUANT to my plan of furnishing to the readers of the Journal a glance at the Ethnic affinities of the Aborigines of India, from the snows to Cape Comorin, I have now the honour to submit a comparative vocabulary, uniform with its precursors, of the Dhimál, Bódó, and Gáró tongues, preceded by the written and spoken Tibetan, for a reason that will presently appear.
I regret that I could not on a recent occasion, nor can now, give the Chépáng vocables on this model. But it is many years since I have had access to that secluded people, and I cannot now calculate on having it again.
As I have already, in a separate work, given the Dhimál and Bódó languages upon a scale much ampler than the present one, and as I have, moreover, in that work demurred to the sufficiency of summary vocabularies, it may be asked why I repeat myself on the present occasion, and in the very manner I have myself objected to? My answer to this question is ready, and I hope will prove satisfactory. Three years have now elapsed since I published the work alluded to, and in that time I have had ample opportunity to observe the general indisposition to enter the field of Indian Ethnology, bent upon serious labour like the author of that work. Now, general co-operation is the one thing needful in this case: and since I feel certain that there is no want of mental vigour in this land, I am led to ascribe the slackness I have experienced in obtaining co-operators according to the suggested model, to the novelty of the subject, whence it happens that few persons can perceive the extensive bearings and high interest of that subject.
By the present series of summary vocabularies I hope to make these points apparent, when I confidently anticipate that many able men who could not be won to give their time and attention to the elucidation of the barbarous jargon of this or that insulated and petty tribe of aborigines, will yet be stimulated to efficient exertion upon being made aware that the question, in fact, relates to the fate and fortunes, the migrations and improvement or deterioration, of the largest family of human kind. No question of ethnology is insulated. It is quite the contrary, and that by its very nature. So that wherever we begin, even with the humblest tribe, we must soon find that we are dealing with the history, and with a material portion of the history, of some great mass of the human race. Thus, the latest investigators of the general subject of human affinities include in the great Mongolian family not merely the high Asian Nomades, or the Túrks, the Mongols and the Tangús, but also (with daily increasing, though not yet conclusive, evidence) the Tibetans, the Chinese, the Indo-Chinese, and the Tamúlians. The Tamúlians include the whole of the aborigines of India, whether civilised or uncivilised, from Cape Comorin to the snows; except the inhabitants of the great mountainous belt confining the plains of India towards Tibet, China, and Ava. These last are, in the North-West, derived from the Tibetan stock; and in the South-East, from the Indo-Chinese stock: the 92° of east longitude, or the Dhansri river of Assam, apparently forming the dividing line of the two races, which are each vastly numerous and strikingly diversified, yet essentially one, just as are the no less numerous and varied races of the single Tamúlian stock. Thus, we cannot take up the investigation of a narrow and barren topic like that of the Kúki, the Chépång, or the Gónd tribe without presently finding ourselves engaged in unravelling some, it may be, dark and intricate, but truly important, chapter of the history of one of those large masses of human kind, the Indo-Chinese, the Tibetans, or the Tamúlians. Nor can one prosecute this investigation far without perceiving that our subject has yet ampler relations, connecting itself by indissoluble yet varied links with those tremendous warriors who planted their standards on the walls of Pekin and Delhi, of Vienna and Moscow. Much of their fate and fortunes belongs to history, but much more to pre-historic times, when vast bodies of these so-called Mongols poured themselves upon India, from the North and from the East, both before and subsequent to the great immigration of the Arian Hindús. Have you no curiosity to learn what may be learnt anent these important and, for us British denizens of India, domestic events ? Or do you doubt the validity of any available media of proof? If the latter, as is probable, be the ground of your objection to such inquiries, I would say in the first place, look steadfastly at any man of an aboriginal race (an ubiquitarian Dhánger for instance), and say if a Mongol origin is not palpably inscribed on his face ? Or, again, take a score of words of his language and compare them with their equivalents in Hindi, U'rdú, or any other Prakrit, and say if you are not sensible of being in a foreign realm of speech? And what can that realm be but the North and NorthEast, the North-West being no way available to your purpose ? In the second place, I would observe that every medium of proof which has been employed to demonstrate the unity of the Iranian family is available to demonstrate the unity of the Turanian ; whilst, with regard to prima facia improbabilities, much greater ones once encompassed the now admitted fact that Hindús, Persians, Germans, English, Irish, Russians, are members of one family, viz., the Iranian, than can attend any similarly perfect demonstration, that Tamúlians, Tibetans, Indo-Chinese, Chinese, Tangús, Mongols, and Túrks are so many branches of another single family, viz., the Turánian. Nor are these questions of interest only to the speculative philosopher. They are, on the contrary, of vital importance to the statesman who may be led into the most serious practical errors for want of such lights as ethnology affords. I will give a striking and recent instance. The Chief Secretary of the Government, who is likewise one of the most able and accomplished men in India, in speaking of the educational improvability of the Hindús, has formally alleged the impossibility of making them worthy and vigorous men and citizens by reason of their race," when it is really as certain as that 2 and 2 make 4, that the race of the Hindus is identical with Mr. Elliot's own! Glottology and anatomy combine to place this great truth (and in every educational view it is pre-eminently such for all those who are now seeking to make this splendid country capable of adequate British, and eventually in the fulness of time of self-government) upon an unshakable foundation. Would that the science of Law, national and international, stood upon an equally stable basis of numerous, largely and irrefragably inducted facts.
Having said so much, by way of encouragement, upon the extensive hearings and high importance of Indian ethnology, I will now add a few words by way of caution. Mr. Robinson, in a recent paper upon sundry of the border tribes of Assam, f has not scrupled confidently to assert the affinity of these tribes (the Bódó and Gáró amongst others) with the people of Tibet. This may or may not be so. But I apprehend that this alleged aflinity demands larger and more careful investigation than Mr. Robinson has yet had leisure to apply to it, and that in thus deciding upon a most interesting and difficult point, he has adduced maxims which are not very tenable. In the first place, he has wholly neglected the physical and psychical evidence which are, each of them, as important as the glottological towards the just decision of a question of ethnic affinity. In the next place, whilst adducing a copious vocabulary which makes against, and a curt survey of the mechanism of language which (we will allow) makes for, his assertion, he proceeds to lay down the doctrine that the former medium of proof is worthy of very little, and the latter medium of proof (thus imperfectly used and applied) is worthy of very much reliance. In the third place, whilst insisting upon the indispensableness of a written and fixed standard of speech, he has neglected the excellent standard that was available for the Tibetan tongue, and has proceeded to rest upon two spoken standards, termed by him Blotia and Chángló, but neither of
• Preface to the Moslem Historians of India I cordially assent devertheless to the justice of Mr. Elliot's strictures. But I find the cause of the actual evil elsewhere.
† Journal, No. 201, for Barch 1849.
which agrees with the written or spoken language of Lassa and Digarchi. In the fourth place, he speaks of Bhót, alias Tibet, and Bhútán, alias Lhó, as the same country; and also gives his unknown Chángló a position within the known limits of Bhútán,* without the slightest reference to the latter well-known country; besides, speaking of the cis-Himálayans and sub-Himálayans (p. 203) as separate races!
These remarks are by no means captiously made. But some sifting of the evidence adduced is surely indispensable when a question of delicacy and difficulty is (I must think) prejudged upon such grounds.
Mr. Robinson is possibly not aware how much of the mechanism of the whole of the Turanian group of languages is common to every one language of that group, nor that the Tamúlian and Tibetan languages are held to be integral parts of that group. Yet such are apparently the facts,t whence it must surely result that a cursory and exclusive view of the organisation of one of these languages, such as Mr. Robinson gives and rests on, cannot be adequate to settle the Tibetan affinities of the Bódós and Gárós (interalia), since the points of lingual agreement cited may be neutral quantities, that is, characteristics common (say) to the Tamúlian and Tibetan tongues, or to the Chinese and Tibetan: and certainly some of them are so far from being diagnostically, that is, exclusively, Tibetan, that they belong to Hindi, Urdú, and even to English! We have yet much to learn touching the essentials of the structure of the Indo-Chinese tongues, the Chinese and the Tibetan; and until a philosophical analysis shall have been made of these languages, it will be very hazardous to rest upon a cursory view of the supposed distinctive (structural) characters of Mr. Robinson's exclusive standard, or the Tibetan; in regard to the structure of which tongue, moreover, he has scarcely more fully availed himself of De Körös' grammar than he has in his vocabulary of De Körös' dictionary. Under these circumstances I am disposed to place at least as much reliance upon Mr. Robinson's copious list of vocables as I can
• Vin, gelecast longitude. -Pemberton's Report. + Prichard, Vol. IV. p. 199 fl., and Bansen'. Report. * This list seems to guinsay Ms. R.'s theory, for if the Bódós (for example) were