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of those mysterious children of the mist, as they came in successive layers into the plains of India.

To use the language of Max Müller, “Every line, every word, is welcome, that bears the impress of the early days of mankind.” In accordance with this principle, efforts should now be made to collect, translate, and annotate the proverbs of the Aborigines through India. What Hodgson and others have done for their languages, should now be completed by collecting and translating their proverbs. When in the Nilgiri hills, I obtained a collection of Badaga Proverbs, translated into English ; but these contained only a selection chosen to illustrate the use of proverbs in preaching, and showing the Badaga people's notions of right and wrong.


After eliminating the Sanskrit or Semitic elements from the Indian languages in their Prakrit and modern form, we come to a primitive or Turanian element common to those languages which were spoken through India before the Brahminical invader crossed the Himalayas and drove the Aborigines to the hills and Dakshin Aranyes, or forests of the great south.'

As in the Romance languages of Europe there are many words not derivable from Latin, but imported from the Teutonic, Arabic, or other languages, and which are to be found in proverbs, so is it with the Bengali, Hindi, Telugu, Mahratha, etc., in their non-Sanskrit elements, in which are to be found what the Spaniards call the sayings of old wives by their firesides. These archaic words and forms in proverbs may give us some clue as to the steps by which Sanskrit passed into the Prakrit, and then into the modern vernacular

1 The aborigines were formerly very numerous in India. In an account of the Bhar tribe, by Mr. Sherring, we have the statement that 700 years ago the whole of the Benares Province and a large portion of Oude were chiefly in the hands of aboriginal non-Aryan tribes, until the fall of Delhi and Kanauj in the twelfth century set free the great Rajput families, who gradually ousted the aborigines from their landed possessions; the latter had occupied the valleys, and were gradually driven off to the hills, as the Brahmans cleared out the forests and polished off the swine-eating, spirit-drinking, black races, who led a wild gipsy life; these, however, were more civilized than is commonly thought, but degenerated in their impenetrable fastnesses, girded about with the deadly terai.

form, and how the languages were affected by the successive waves of conquest.

While much has been written on palæography and the adapted alphabets of the Aryan races, this subject of comparative proverbiology of the East in relation to the migration and affiliation of language has been little dwelt upon. Mr. E. Thomas, who has rendered such service to history and antiquities in relation to coins, has referred to the use to be made of Alphabets in connexion with the progress of Aryan immigration from the Oxus into the Provinces of Bactria and along the Hindu Kush, and of the line of march of the Aryans entering as a pastoral race into the Panjab; he supposes that the Devanagari was appropriated to the expression of the Sanskrit language from the pre-existing Pali or Lat alphabet, which may have been a very archaic type of Phænician, the Pali itself having been the current writing of India B.C. 250. Mr. Thomas thinks the Sanskrit character is derived from the Dravidian—a rather startling point for Orientalists. Some light may be thrown on this intricate subject from investigating any connexion between Dravidian and Sanskrit Proverbs.

Comparison is now used as an important instrument of research, as we see in comparative mythology, in the comparison of fables of different nations, in the comparison of the village systems of the East and West, in the comparison of the grammatical and lexicographical structure of languages, and in comparative anatomy; but in the comparison of the proverbs of the East and West, especially in their archaisms, we have a new and untrodden field. Excluding proverbs that “bear the stamp of their birthplace, and which wear the colouring and imagery of their native climes, there are those which arise from the feelings and expressions of a common nature, which bear strong affinities, as if derived from a common birthplace.


In relation to the important subject of Female Education in the East, Oriental Proverbs show that women are not such dull unobser

· The Poems of Chand, about the twelfth century, are some of the earliest speci- , mens of the modern Hindi vernacular. They ought to be consulted for archaisms in proverbs, as the language was probably formed a century previously,

vant beings or so submissive to their husbands as popular report affirms. Native females are fond of proverbs, and can wield them with such effect as to be able to carry on a scolding match for half an hour in sharp language, plentifully interlarded with proverbs, and far eclipsing Billingsgate in point.

In teaching females and rayats great use may be made of this love of proverbs to illustrate European and Biblical ideas. I have for many years practised that myself, and found it most useful, and I have met with various works in French and Italian which take popular proverbs as the texts for moral and religious instruction. Such works abound in Spanish, like those of Cervantes, who, in his Don Quixote, was one of the first to point morals with proverbs.

The tendency for many years in Indian popular literature has been to adopt, after the Pandit fashion, a stilted pedantic style, sesquipedalia verba—Johnsonian, not Addisonian. This has been found a great hindrance to female and mass education, strewing the path of knowledge with thorns. Happily there has been a reaction of late years in favour of a racy nervous style, chalita kathá, drawing largely on proverbs for illustration. Our Indian Dictionaries unfortunately omit these racy proverbial expressions.

Slowly but surely missionaries in India are advancing in their knowledge of the undercurrent of native opinion; but their progress would have been more accelerated had the principle been acted on that, to impress the Oriental mind effectually, you must acclimatize the foreign idea in the Oriental way by similes, metaphors, proverbs, which are solvents to a new idea. Long ago, Bishop Latimer, addressing his Saxon audience, found this the shortest and pleasantest way to their understandings. Buddha Ghosa's sermons are, in this respect, well deserving the study of the Christian missionary, as are also the productions of the Jesuit missionaries in South India, who adopted Oriental metaphors and the flowery language of the East. See the works of Beschi for example. The profoundest thoughts of ancient times were given in the form of sutras, or aphorisms; the proverbs, as expressing popular wisdom, are their modern substitute.

The Proverbs of Solomon and the Book of Ecclesiastes, which reads like a fragment of Hindu philosophy, require annotations from commentators who have studied the proverbial philosophy and aphoristic


wisdom of the East, of which proverbs are the popular expression. Are not these as necessary for a Scripture commentator as the study of trigonometry would be for a mathematician?

It is stated of the Divine Founder of the Christian religion, that without a parable spake he not to the people. He adopted the principle which pervades so much the Scriptures, of clothing naked abstract truth in the graceful garb of metaphor. Christ, in fact, acted and taught as an Oriental Guru, a character which none of the European writers of Christ's life has invested him with, not even Dr. Farrer, one of the latest and best of them. One reason, doubtless, for the common people hearing Christ gladly was owing to the free use of parables and proverbs in illustrating the lofty truths of his religion. The preachers of dreary platitudes in sermons have no precedent from Christ.

Mr. Metz, a German missionary in the Nilgiri hills, published an interesting book on the hill-tribes of that region, with a translation of some of their proverbs. In his preface he states : A knowledge of their proverbs and old sayings I have found of great service to the missionary cause. Often when the persons to whom I have been preaching have been listless and indifferent, a happilyselected proverb, quoted in exemplification of what I was saying, has had the effect of exciting an interest in the discourse and of fixing their attention."

Preaching to Orientals must have point instead of platitude. Even their works on grammar, jurisprudence, medicine, are cast in a poetic mould, and they have long acted in the spirit of Bacon's aphorism, “Proverbs are the tools of speech which cut and penetrate the knots of business and affairs."

Some have represented preaching to Hindus as useless, on the ground that people cannot understand the subject of Christian dogma. This objection is feasible if the style of preaching to Orientals be as dry and skeleton-like as is that of some country clergymen in England to farmers and day labourers.

In 1869 a work was published in Madras, the Bazar Book, or Vernacular Preacher's Companion, containing addresses on thirteen prominent points of the Hindu religion, with a few poetical quotations, selected with great care from Hindu works, intermixed with proverbs and proverbial sayings. The book was designed to utilize in

favour of Christianity the metaphors of native literature employed by some of the leading Madras poets.

In 1871 I published in Calcutta a work with the title of Christian Truth in an Oriental Dress, furnishing illustrations of the Scripture from Oriental proverbs, similes, emblems. I found the subject in this form understandable by even the lowest peasants. A second and improved edition is preparing for the press.


The present is a transition state in the East. The spread of education and the influx of European ideas are sweeping away many of the recollections of the past. Local dialects are gradually disappearing, and words and proverbs, which might throw invaluable light on the dark recesses of the history of the language and people they are connected with, are fitting away with them. Old traditions are dying out, and it is remarkable in Bengal how inferior the new class of Pandits is in their knowledge of traditional folklore and Pauranic interpretation to the men of the last generation. I have observed many painful illustrations of this.

Now is the time for collecting proverbs, songs, local traditions, folklore, aided as we may be by the educated natives, and the editors of the native newspapers ;

the Asiatic Societies of Bengal and Bombay, the Social Science Association of Bengal, and the Directors of Public Instruction in the different Presidencies, may also give their aid.

What are required are

From India.

1. The Proverbs in the fifteen leading languages of India, classified in the division of Aryan, Semitic, and Turanian, and compared as to their subjects, affinities, variations, and early use.

2. The collection, classification and comparison of the proverbs of the aboriginal and wandering tribes of India, such as the Sonthals, Khonds, especially the tribes in the Himalayas, Central India, and the Nilgiris.

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