Page images

of the spiritual and temporal welfare of their fellow's, and therefore possibly destined only to perpetuate in a new phase the ancient curse of this land, or exclusive learning! Sanskrit, Arabic, Persian, have proved the curse of this land, not so much by reason of the false doctrines they liave inculcated as by reason of the administrative mystery they have created and upheld; and I hold it to surpass the wit of man to demonstrate that that terrible mystery will not be perpetuated by English; for, long ages must elapse before public institutions and public opinion become omnipotent in the interior of this land, and in the meanwhile, all those who possess the exclusive knowledge will find but too ample a field for the exercise of its power in prosecution of the selfish ends of ambition and avarice, and in despite of our best efforts at prevention, But, without saying more in repetition of the letters themselves upon the dangers incident to an English organ of knowledge, I may glance at the objection founded upon its difficulty of acquisition and consequent unsuitableness to the wants and necessities of the many. But this topic also having been amply treated in the letters, I notice it here only to call attention to the essential fact that in the practical proposition I have deduced from my general reasonings, there is nothing whatever sarouring of preference for one over another organ of instruction. The learned languages of the East and of the West, English and the vernaculars of India, all meet with equal favour in the proposed Normal College; and, whilst it is assumed that the vast project of Europeanising the Indian mind calls for express specific measures subsidiary to education properly so called, it is endeavoured so to shape those measures as to reconcile the adequate cultivation of difficult knowledge by the few with an incessant supply of improved means of easy knowledge for the many. It seems to me that English, not less than Sanskrit or Arabic, is far too difficult for the many; that such studies to produce the expected fruit must form the life-long labour of an appropriate body, the pioneers of a new literature; and that if this corps be adequately equipped and provided for, and dedicated to the specific functions of translating and of teaching, in the manner expressed in my fourth letter, the interests of deep learning will be duly attended to without any risk of its running into monastic dreaminess or subtilty, and at the same time that the two great wants of ordinary education, or good teachers and good books, will be systematically provided for. Thus the advocate for English and the advocate for the learned orient toogues, and the advocate for VOL II.


the vernaculars, may all find equal motive and inducement to uphold the proposition of a Normal College ; and those who consider the extent of the work to be done in the way of education with the inadequacy of all our means and appliances, will do well to reflect that every ripe scholar trained in this college will not be a mere well-taught individual, at liberty so soon as he is free of his educational course to forget or misapply those gifts which the public has bestowed upon him for better ends, but a teacher, and a permanent teacher or translator, and consequently one to whom thousands may, and hundreds must, be indebted for the elements of learning at least. Mark, then, the diffusable energy, the expansive force of the institution suggested, and support it with active exertion if you deem it worthy of support.

NÉPÁL, 1843.

Since the following letters were written vernacular and normal teaching have made much way in public estimation. But still, even in England, if we may credit frequent leaders in the “ Times,” and how much more in India! there has been a fearful waste of time and money with very inadequate results, owing to the want of

fitting books and teachers. Such consequences of the want of vsystem in providing these indispensable pre-requisites were long

ago foreseen in India by Dr. Ballantyne, and if we may trust the language of the recent native petition to the Governor-General of India, to say nothing of further evidence of the same fact, there is an abiding sense among the people of India of the necessity of adopting those means for supplying adequately, and systematically, and enduringły, good books and good teachers, which the following letters point out. This, perhaps, may excuse the reproduction of the letters here.

LONDOx, Feb. 1876.

“For as for that our tongue is called barbarouse, is but a fantasye; for so is, as every learned man knoweth, every strange language to other : and if they would call it barren of wordes, there is no doubt but it is plenteouse enough to express our myndes in any things whereof one man hath used to speke with another.”—Sir T. MORE,


TO THE EDITOR OF THE “FRIEND OF India." SIR,- In the question now under discussion, whether it is better to convey European knowledge to the natives, indirectly, through the medium of their own languages and literature, or directly, through that of ours-I observe with some surprise that you seem to prefer the latter alternative.* You have, too, with the majority of the Anglonaniasts, whilst disclaiming all express purpose of annihilating the indigenous literature, advocated the justice as well as expediency of the so-called negative course of withdrawing all public patronage from ita* But, sir, have you considered the paramount influence of Government acts in the East, and the consequent imperative effect of even those which profess to be merely negative? Have you considered the extent to which the spread of the British rule from province to province, and kingdom to kingdom, has had the effect of closing the native seminaries tlıroughout India, either by the political extinction of their patrons, or by the absorption of their resources ? Have you considered the people's title to be consulted on a question of this sort ? or do you doubt that if their sentiments were deferred to they would claim from our Government that protection of their own literature which is conceded to it by every native state? Thank God, I am no lawyer; but to my plain understanding, the British Legislature, when it decreed a small pittance for the "revival of native learning," had in view the making of some small atonement for that fiscal rapacity which had merged in the ocean of revenue so many streamlets of national education !

So far as the worthy editors in question are concerned, this is a mistake which I joyfully retrach

Vested rights are the cry of the West. Let the Anglomaniasts inquire how many of these, appropriated to native instruction, have been violated directly by our indiscriminating resumptions, or indirectly by our levelling system of rule, and they will be better prepared to judge of the justice of Lord William Bentinck's sudden refusal of the Parliamentary dole! The Government's discretion in India is, like the Parliamentary omnipotence in England, sufficient for all things but the changing of wrong into right; and whether I advert to the absorption of native seminaries by the progress of our sway, to the enormous portion of the annual produce of industry which we sweep into the Exchequer, or to our obligation to consult the sentiments of the people (let them square with our own or not) upon a question of this sort, I must equally deny the title of the Governor-General in Council, to withhold public patronage from the indigenous literature of our subjects. This is my view of the question, as one of right; but as I have no wish to push the plea of merum jus on behalf of the people, to the extent of injuring them by compliance with their wishes, I shall proceed to assign some reasons for the opinion I entertain, that their essential welfare, not less than their rights, may be urged against the scheme implied by Lord William Bentinck's decretum. It may be granted at once, as a general proposition, that that sound knowledge, to diffuse which throughout India is our purpose, is to be found in the European languages, and not in those of the East. What we want is the best instrument for

the free and equal diffusion of that knowledge. One party ☺ contends that English is the desideratum, the other party that

the vernacular languages are. It is assumed by the former that the English language is a perfect and singly sufficient organ, whilst the native languages are equally objectionable from their plurality and their intrinsic feebleness. These assumptions appear to me somewhat hasty and unfounded. A large portion of the sound knowledge of Europe is not to be found in the English language, but must be sought in those of France and Germany—to go no further. Does not every educated Englishman daily resort to the languages of France and Germany for those useful and important ideas which are strangers to his own tongue; and must not, therefore, the assumption that English is coequal with sound knowledge be received with great reserve ? Certainly it must; and without pushing the argument beyond due limits, it will be found to be worth something, when placed fairly in the scales against that plurality which is so extravagantly objected to the colloquial , media of India, for Bengalee is the speech of at least thirtyseven millions of people, and Hindee is everywhere current froin the northern frontiers of Bengal to the Indus and the Himalaya, not to mention the ubiquitarian Hindoostanee! This surely is a range of language enough to satisfy the most ardent of reasonable reformers *—is a range rather above than below the average of Europe. With like cautious circumspection let us now endeavour to ascertain the real extent of that intrinsic force, as an instrument for the communication of thought, which is ascribed to English by those who insist so much upon the feebleness of the native languages.

Truth and precision require, that, in making this estimate of English, we should exclude the consideration of the unmixed sciences, as well as of most of the applied ones which are strictly physical. Those sciences have a language of their own, which is admitted on all hands to be highly efficient, and which is disconnected with all ordinary colloquial media, as well as with the passions and prejudices—the ordinary habits and sentiments, of mankind. These circumstances, coupled with the fact that in reference to the sciences in question the native mind is almost a carte blanche, induce me to join those who propose, as the general rule, to convey our knowledge of them to the people of India directly: and that in all senses of directness, lingual as well as others. But the case is far otherwise with the moral sciences : for, blended as these branches of knowledge are, from their very nature, with the daily pursuits and thoughts, and quickly responsive as they are to the strongest prejudices and passions, of mankind; appealing, too, as they do, for their ultimate evidence, to universal consciousness, or to almost universal experience, powerful intrinsical

• See noto at the end of these paper + The exception of astronomy rests, and rests well, on the conversancy of the poople with this branch of physical science and on their attachment to their own achievements in it We should avail ourselves of that stlachment as jar as possible.

« PreviousContinue »