Page images

upon unassailable grounds. It can scarcely be necessary for me to say, that my objections to an English organ of instruction are, in substance, not less applicable to a Sanskrit or an Arabic one. And, as I freely admit that the latter languages, notwithstanding their difficulty, lead to nothing deserving of general study, but to much, the even partial study of which, as heretofore, is on every higher account to be deplored, it may be asked with what possible aims I can seek to uphold the dead languages and literature of India, and to uphold them by public patronage ?

I answer distinctly that those aims are, 1st. The improvement and literary application of the living languages, considered as the principal organs and instruments of general instruction in European lore. 2d. Means of facilitation and inducement, suited to the prejudices and ineptitude of the unlearned many, and of conciliation and check, adapted to the adverse interests and unbounded influence of the learned few, with reference to the introduction and establishment of our knowledge, considered as the sole subject matter of general instruction. The use of the learned languages of the country I contemplate merely as subsidiary to the first purposes; that of its literature sheerly as conducive to the last; and whilst I concede that these purposes are entirely preliminary, I expect, in the course of this letter, to be able to prove their indispensableness in that view.

If I have succeeded in demonstrating by my precedent letter the cardinal importance and necessity of vernacularising our knowledge, it would seem that systematic means to that end form an indispensable feature of our plans for the regeneration of India : And unless it be meant to be asserted, that the most rooted maxims and most cherished opinions of Indian society do not necessarily militate against the direct and unqualified acceptance of our staple truths, it would seem that systematic means of accommodation and compromise constitute another indispensable feature of those plans. I shall recur to these features of educational reform (heretofore so miserably obscured with dust and rubbish), in the sequel, in order to prove the obligation of Government to fix them in a collegiate establishment having for its object the cultivation, with exclusive reference to them, of the learned languages and literature of the country. Meanwhile, having I trust established the necessity of vernacularisation, and

its dependence upon the dead languages, I proceed to consider the necessity of accommodation and conciliation, with their dependence upon the literature.

In approaching this topic, I feel a singular perplexity arising, not out of the difficulty of the subject, but out of that hardihood of assertion which has, of late, attempted to confuse and invalidate the clearest, largest, best-grounded inductions from our experience of the character and condition of the people of India. Until recently, the extremity of their poverty had been as little liable to question as the extremity of their prejudices. But now, it seems, the general acquisition of the English language is as entirely compatible with their means, as the direct adoption of English ideas with their inclinations. Fie upon such stultifying extravagances ! for, who not wholly blinded by his impetuous pursuit of some favourite theory, can fail to perceive that were the people indeed so easy in their circumstances, and so liberal in their minds, as is here assumed, there could be little or no occasion for our educational interference ? Nay, were the assumption in question anything but the very reverse of truth, we towering Europeans should be ourselves demonstrably reduced to take shelter under the most grovelling scepticism, entirely without motive to amend others or ourselves, how much soever they or we might need it. Because if extreme moral and physical evil and hindrance did not practically flow from such notions as prevail in this land, the relative value of all conceivable human notions, must be reduced, universally, to such stuff as reveries are made of! How comes it that the advocates of these extremely liberal opinions do not perceive, that their tenets lead distinctly to the conclusion that all opinions whatever are matters of indifference? Take away from gross error its practical malignity and impotence, and you take away, at the same time, the practical importance of truth! God forbid that I should dwell upon the hostility, the alienation, the imbecility, of the natives with a view to make them objects of execration or contempt. But for the physician to deny the disease at the very moment of prescribing the remedy, is surely too monstrous a procedure to be attended with advantages. Familiar as I am, and long have been, with the deep seat, and the wide spreading taint, of the disease, I could as soon dismiss the consciousness of my own identity as the awfully solemn impression I entertain, that if this malady be at all remediable with the means at our disposal, it can be so only by a treatinent as nicely as possible adapted to the constitution and habits of the particular patient, whilst it is, at the same time, consistent with the general rules of the healing art. I oppose myself unwillingly to the opinions of those who have recently so much distinguished themselves by philanthropical efforts on behalf of the people of India. But, the more I consider the drift and scope of these opinions, the more am I convinced that the great cause of native regeneration would be retarded, not advanced, by their adoption into general practice; and that in proportion to the unparalleled obstacles which exist to the mental emancipation of Indians by Britons, is the inexpediency of direct measures to that end. If we would indigenate a European plant to the plains of India, it is universally admitted that the first stock must be sent to the Hills in the hope of procuring seed; that there, to the advantage of climate the utmost care must be superadded, if we would realise that hope; and that, in the retransfer of the gradually-acclimated produce to the plains, we must redouble our previous pains in order to be ultimately successful in the experiment. And will those who make this admission, assert that the moral and intellectual regeneration of the people of India by the people of Eng. land is an experiment which may be safely and successfully essayed without any sort of preparation? Yet what but this is the assertion—the proposition of those, who, having in view the dissemination of our knowledge throughout India, contemptuously repudiate all connection with its literature, or with its living languages ? Our institutions, civil and religious-political, social, and domestic, are not merely dissimilar from, but the very antipodes of, those of the Hindoos. And our knowledge—what is it but the fused extract of our institutions? And is not their knowledge the same of theirs? And is the prodigious gulf which now separates their minds from ours, to be, indeed, bridged over by measures involving an equal and utter neglect of the pride and power of the learned, of the necessities and imbecility of the unlearned, and of all the prepossessions, prejudices, and accustomed thoughts and feelings, of both? Surely not: nor, in a choice of difficulties, can the adoption of such measures be, VOL II.


for an instant, aclmitted to be a closing with the lesser ones. Once for all, I would distinctly state, that I conceive the question to relate to the plan and outline of a system of general* education for the people of India. It is high time that some such plan should be devised, and having been devised, should be steadily adhered to by the majority of private educational establishments, as well as by the Government, quoad the extent of its patronage of education. Nor can I fail to deplore that bias towards the fashionable Anglomania which led Lord William Bentinck, when his attention had been momentarily arrested by this question, to proceed per saltum from the obvious absurdities of Orientalism to the obvious excellences of Occidentalism, without perceiving that, as usual, the real practical case-involving of necessity the consideration of local fitness as well as of abstract perfection, and of means as well as of ends—could have little affinity with such a vulgar palpable extreme. How long are we to go on picking up straggling students, and instructing them according to the unaided dictates of individual caprice? The smaller the funds at the disposal of Government to this end, the more carefully should they be husbanded by uniform system steadily prosecuted. I adınit, at once and freely, the folly of squandering any portion of those funds upon oriental literature considered as, per se, the matter of instruction--or upon the learned languages considered as, in any way, its media. But if the most insuperable obstacles exist to the unqualified transmission of English ideas in the English language, are we not necessarily thrown upon those languages and that literature for the indirect means of removing such obstacles, through vernacularisation and through the countenance and sanction of established notions ? And to what source save the public exchequer can we look for the adequate and steady supply of these appliances and helps of the only sort of education in European lore which the people or can or will accept? If the obstacles to direct measures be real, of what use can be the hardy denial of them ? And is not their reality attested by the concurrent testimony of history, of the laws and in

This is the point, a general system or what is needful to lay the foundation of such : for particular cases, as of princes and men of rank, the question is dif. ferent, or rather there is here no question of admissible exceptions to the general polan, and it may be readily admitted that such persons should be taught in the English language or inther taught that language as well as other things.

stitutions of the land, and of our daily and hourly experience of the people's conduct, towards us and towards one another? And is it not most unworthy of us to oppose to such testimony as the above, which is co-equal with the magnitude of what is testified to, the favourable state of our schools at Calcutta and at one or two other little Goshens, bearing some such proportion to that magnitude as the contribution of a single river to the mass of the oceanic waters ?

Let me ask you, sir, as a Christian missionary, what you think of the general result of those efforts at sowing the seed without dressing the ground, which belong to the story of religious missions in the East generally, during the last two and a half centuries? The miserable failure of these efforts, after so much apparent promise, I have always heard ascribed principally to their unprepared and exotic character, incapable of striking root into the household wants and habits of the instructed. As it is with religious, so is it with temporal, Truth : the difficulty is to work it into the warp and woof of the popular mind: and until it is so interwoven, it can neither have durability nor efficacy, let zealots affirm what they please. How often was not Europe amused, for a century, with the tale that the East was rapidly and generally evangelising? Such as were those assurances, such are the present allegations about the ability and the eagerness of the people of India to drink our knowledge undiluted from the fountain head of English. They cannot, and they may not, so drink: they have neither the means, nor the will, nor the permission so to do. The English language is too costly for them; sheer English truths are too alien to their distorted judgments, narrow experiences and immediate wants, as well as too repugnant to that dominant influence presiding over their minds, to find unprepared admission. Let it be granted that the first object is to disenchant the popular mind of India! Do you propose to break the spell which now binds it by the facilitics and attractions of the English language? Or, do you imagine that those magicians to whom the spell is power and wealth and honour unbounded, and those vigilance has maintained its unabated influence for 3000

of the 100 Brahmans and Kshetriyas composing my escort, no ten will ent together ; no teu of the one or of the other tribe. Yet the natives bare vo prejudices !!!

« PreviousContinue »