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EDUCATION OF CADETS.

DR. GILCHRIST, IN REPLY TO A MADRAS RETIRED OFFICER

AT COLCHESTER.

[Concluded from page 492.] Sir: To resume the thread of my theme, at a convenient place, I shall take it up on the subject of large pecuniary premiums and valuable medallic rewards to young officers, whose acquaintance with all or any of the native dialects of India, by adequate examinations in those languages, entitled them to receive such mercenary prizes, after, perhaps, a few months' close and hard study in the theory, with little real practice in the colloquial use, of the two most essential languages of the Indian peninsula-namely, the Hindoostanee and Persian. To excite in adolescent minds the mere sacra fames auri by bringing them into precocious and close contact with the precious metals, is much better calculated to render them either spendthrifts or misers, than to fan the generous ardour of our youthful warriors in the pursuit of honest fame, official promotion, or military glory, amidst many seductive temptations, in a country like Hindoostan, to heedless extravagance on the one hand, or to an early passion for accelerated accumulation of filthy lucre on the other.

It has been repeatedly stated to me, by persons from the spot, that while some thousand rupees were periodically adjudged to successful candidates at Madras, for tried proficiency in eastern lore, several instances have occurred where officers of considerable talents for the rapid acquisition of any current speech, were in the habit of fagging a month or two at Hindoustanee, &c. which they afterwards neglected entirely, their temporary efforts being made for the sole and avowed purpose of touching the cash, in order to liquidate old debts, and learn, perhaps, while flushed with their victory, to contract new ones, for dogs, horses, hooqqus, or such other fashionable indulgences, as English sailors are supposed to enjoy when their purses overflow, till these jolly tars feel induced to carry more sail in the silly chase to empty them speedily, than permanent ballast for prudently retaining their ephemeral gains against the claims of more distant losses and crosses through life, to which the wayward sons of both flood and field are always exposed. Had the distinguished juvenile individuals, to whom my informants alluded, been seasonably gratified with staff appointments, too often bestowed upon worthless competitors, their official utility and progress in the daily execution of duties connected with local qualifications must have continued pari passu, without those evil consequences which are commonly the result suddenly created wealth by inexperienced adventurers, even when the sight of it generates a species of ignoble cupidity, to which some persons are naturally enough prone at the very dawn of manhood. To award three thousand rupees, with a golden token to boot, on particular occasions, where the public treasury pays the piper, is no great stretch of true patriotism in any ruler, and will of course be preferred by all those who sacrifice rational principles to interest or influence in the distribution of standing posts and places among their meritorious competitors alone; because this last effort, now-a-days, implies almost a dereliction and sacrifice of private patronage to public weal, which is by no means a very common virtue, wherever blind pelfism or selfism happens to guide the helm of any government, whether at home or abroad.

I am inclined to believe, that when the Court of Directors very seasonably abolished the improvident largesses under discussion here, they were actuated

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more by statesmen-like views of human policy, than by those sordid notions of paltry economy, with which they have been recently accused for their very prudent retrenchment of a baneful expenditure, which, at best, never could excite those durable exertions that must be the result of always crowning merit’s brows with the prolific laurels of lucrative posts or responsible and honourable offices, either in the military or civil departments of British India. There “ sint Mecenates non deerunt Marones ;" in other words, where discriminative patronage exists to raise worth upon solid grounds, there talents of every kind will abound in all the branches of the public service; and I shall candidly declare few places are better adapted for the ultimate success of persevering industry with conspicuous deserts than the Asiatic peninsula; and the one thing yet most required to secure this laudable monopoly on the Company's part, is simply for them to prove all their new functionaries, in certain qualifications, as carefully as they do the whole of their implements of war previous to despatch from England, for reasons so obvious that he who runs may read them on every bale or cargo of live stock which annually reaches India, without invoice or sterling stamp of local value for such a promising market, for the very best articles, though the worst, from the non-existence of previous tests, too often usurp their place, as smuggled goods. Gentlemen who have served in the army, militia, or volunteers, before their nomination as cadets, are allowed precedency of rank over their shipmates of the same season, on the fair plea of superior knowledge in military tactics of every sort: then why not grant a similar advantage to every youth who can pass the requisite ordeal in his professional acquirements as an officer, or in his classical attainments as a practical scholar in both occidental and oriental literature; more especially in the rudiments and pronunciation of the latter, acquirable while still a boy at school in his native land, where competent establishments would spring up like so many mushrooms, if the Company's executive could merely hail their growth with the prospect of periodical trials of skill in science and art, which already pervade most of the European states with beneficial effects, and have long been silently preparing the American nation to rival even ourselves, on the mighty deep? From one highly respectable teacher of occidental pursuits, in consequence of my advice and assistance to commence tuition in the eastern tongues two years ago, in the vicinity of London, I have just received a letter, whence I shall extract what follows as the inevitable issue of existing circumstances, relative to sending all candidates to India, who can barely muster legitimate influence sufficient to demand a cadetship, whatever their capacity or moral habits may be for that important station : “ After all the pains which I took with our six young orientalists, their relatives only signified that the Hindaostanee was best learned in the country, and the boys' time might be more profitably employed in acquiring some branches of knowledge that could not be learned in Asia. Even the Proprietors of India Stock, and Directors, seem averse to boys learning Hindoostanee in England; to what purpose then should I, a mere novice, exert myself in this private establishment, about British Indian qualifications, which even the masters in Israel find so impracticable ?” This may be called the first-fruits of some late debates at the India House, which will prove, in the long-run, bitter enough to those parents and their sons who happen to feed upon them; for the fatal error will not be discovered until it be some years too late to rectify it. Instead of the idle and dissipated mode of passing the outward voyage in many of the East-India vessels, as it now exists, amidst scenes of gambling and such pastimes, if not still worse conduct, the great majority of the young men destined for the

Asiatic Journ. Vol. XXI. No. 126. 5 C

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several presidencies in the East would, undoubtedly, devote much of their leisure to useful studies, provided that habits of serious application had been pre-induced by inevitable examinations to fit them for official employmente in British India. Though nobody can deny that Hindoostan is ultimately the best country for becoming perfect in speaking the native languages, it is perhaps the worst, in the outset, for the efficient acquisition of their elementary principles, or for imbibing the least relish for them as grammatical accomplishments, while this can easily be managed in Great Britain or Ireland at a very moderate expenditure of money or precious time from the age of twelve to sixteen. Any boy who is carefully taught rudimental French by an able Parisian on this side of the Channel, long before he reaches the other, will have many advantages, when in France, over a lad who never enjoyed those opportunities of then learning to prosecute his studies, and to talk French like a gentleman ab initio, though this qualification is by no means such a matter of life or death consequences to the individual or the public, as it must, in a variety of instances, be in Hindoostan ; especially in those perilous times, which are constantly recurring in all extensive domains kept in subjection by the power of the sword almost alone; for the British sway there must, in all human probability, be thus upheld to the end of the chapter of those unforeseen accidents that will regulate our dominion and permanence in India, on the capaeity of its conquerors for any given period from the present day. Had schools on board ahip been established when first proposed to, and in some measure promised by, the Directors, a good while ago, every cadet ere now might, at sea in them, have received oriental and occidental instruction combined for some months at least, which, added to what I have been giving them, would have made hundreds of those youths able to converse fluently in Hindoostanee imme. diately on their arrival ; if any thing in the shape of a proper test of abilities had also been simultaneously instituted for the infantry and cavalry, on grounds, in this respect, already pre-occupied by the civil engineers and artillery departments, it is to be hoped, with effects commensurate with the charges incurred, to a considerable amount solely for this article. Be this as it may, I confidently assert that qualifying examinations might be obtained in London, at neither risk nor expense to the Company, and without any danger of supposed contamination in the metropolis, where every candidate from all parts of the United Kingdom might, in a season or two hence, assemble both able and willing to take his chance of approval or rejection, just as the competitors for those branches of the service now mentioned are actually constrained to do, under existing circumstances.

What would be thought of a number of Scottish subalterns, deficient both in English grammar and pronunciation on entering the British army, were they to associate with non-commissioned officers or privates in their own regiments, to learn from them, as natives of England, the language in perfection? Would it even be tolerated on any plea or pretence whatever ? How then can a Company's officer of high rank boast of his English subordinates being in the daily practice of receiving lessons from common sipahees in their respective companies ? Can that gallant cavalier forget that “too much familiarity generally breeds contempt,” is a most natural inference in every region under the sun, whence Hindoostan is as little exempt as any of the rest? So far would I be from consigning raw lads just on their importation from Europe to the philological care of private Hindoostanee soldiers or serjeants, that one might well hesitate about trusting them with the ordinary class of Moonshees, whose total ignorance of Hindoostanee grammar keeps

tolerable tolerable pace with their depravity of manners in different ways, which need not be exposed in this place. That numbers can be procured, at this late hour of British influence in the East, with capacities and characters adapted to their responsible duties, I need not deny, while I affirm, that their juvenile pupils will be fortunate indeed, should they fall into such able hands at first; because 'tis six chances to one that the reverse will take place, unless the scholar shall have carried with him from home a quantum sufficit of practical orier

alism, on the soundest principles, to enable him at once to judge and act for himself, as the majority of my disciples have hitherto done, with evident success in the choice of Indian instructors.

A cadet, badly prepared for instant action in regions constantly involved in belligerent operations, resembles an incompetent tool or instrument expressly manufactured for a given purpose, to which, when applied in that dangerous state, he is liable to become infinitely more destructive than the worst warlike machine that ever crossed the ocean, proved or unproved, in the King's or Company's artillery. Why then should his relatives be liable to have him returned, agreeably to the regulations enacted last year only, at their cost, as a useless and rejected piece of furniture, from those. very shores to which, in strict justice to all parties, he never ought to have been despatched without being stamped as sterling coin, fit to pass muster in India, before the receipt of any nomination whatever? Vested rights, all will confess, are delicate things to handle too roughly, until their abuse shall appear, by longer sufferance, to menace the state with either speedy or distant evils of the most alarming nature; but the misfortune of the ruling powers has been constantly this, that experience never has taught them true wisdom till the season of self-preservation was past and gone beyond their grasp, though individuals have often repented in good time to save theirselves from impending fate.

The preceding digression I trust you, Sir, will pardon from its intimate connection with the pending question, on which it has been affirmed by yourself,

European serjeants who do not know the alphabet, and use one word for another, should not be ranked before a body of officers who have acquired the language grammatically, and in the Persian character, which is the way it is taught in India, and the way it ought to be taught every where." In days of yore, believe me, the serjeants and serjeant-majors in general, were much better Hindoostanee linguists than their officers, who, to my certain knowledge, were frequently constrained to employ those very subordinates as interpreters between themselves and the native soldiers; but I here allude to Bengal, thirty years ago, when only two practical Hindoostanee scholars could be found, by a government advertisement, to fill lucrative situations at the Calcutta college from any of the three presidencies, and one of those very colloquists, after a delay of some months, was in fact a pupil of my own, whom I had hastily instructed for the vacant office. Tempora mutantur et nos mutamur in illis, yet I fear not quite so much as you repeatedly state ; for while no body doubts the present existence of some capital orientalists at Madras, or that a portion of them are actually in this country, I mean shortly to prove, from very authentic documents, how little had been accomplished by the mass of the Company's officers anywhere, till within the last four years, which have furnished their army with many able interpreters directly or indirectly from my lecture rooms; where, be it known to you and my readers, they do not learn the Persian or Nagaree characters until they have acquired a competent stock of indispensable vocables in the Roman letters on solid orthoepigraphical premises.. Pray answer me candidly the following queries :--Were the Germans to substitute,

universally,

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universally, the Roman easy symbols for their own complicated forms (which they are at last partially doing), would not that expressive tongue become easier and more extended among the nations of Europe ? Do we not always acquire foreign alphabets, even Greek, Hebrew, &c. at first, through the medium of the English abece alone; why then startle at the extension of this first principle, for a time at least, to the Hindoostanee or the other eastern tongues, especially when the experience of half a century has demonstrated that accurate colloquial interpreters start with the surest means of becoming also the most faithful translators, in their progress towards perfection, through the necessary books, which may be perused on the spot as profit, pleasure, or duty may 'suceessively dictate to each individual during his residence in the East? It would be presumption in me to dispute your abilities, either as an interpreter or presiding military judge, unless I could enjoy a little tête à tête with you in grammatical Hindoostanee for my own improvement and conviction in more points than one; I nevertheless would not envy the honour of being the head of a court, which was composed of three native officers, to try one miserable prisoner, for whose punishment two additional drummers were sent from head-quarters. Four judges, with four executioners, opposed to any single wretch, were enow to frown or lash him out of existence; and, in my humble opinion, it would have been mercy had he been shot dead at once, without the benefit of doctor or divine. This is one of those anecdotes in which, had it ever been my misfortune to figure, as you have done, I would have kept my thumb carefully upon it till doomsday; but they say doctors differ, so do we, and de gustibus non disputandum ; for our parliamentary majorities continue on your side, and it behoves me to knock under to such omnipotence, so clearly and recently expressed against my illegitimate ideas of humanity. The merited praise which you lavish on the local governments is quite conspicuous in the appointment of a skilful leech to watch over the life of his criminal countryman; yet, let ine ask, was it, under the concomitants you very coolly describe, worth preserving ?

Till I perused your long epistle I was ignorant enough to believe that all our Sibundee corps were under the orders of some English functionary or other, whether civil or military, and that he must either be an adequate linguist himself or have an interpreter to communicate the proceedings of their courts-martial ; where I cannot help supposing that the English commandant presides in person, and shall be thankful for authentic information on this score, from those who can best decide upon it. If the last paragraph of your late communication be perfectly correct, how are we to account for several exchanges of incompetent interpreters with adjutants, who have so long been exempt from those trials, as orientalists, to which the interpreters have been, on the contrary, exposed for several years; and, when they absolutely failed in the discharge of that duty, could, notwithstanding this failure, accept of an adjutancy, which requires, in my view of the matter, as thorough a knowledge of colloquial Hindoostanee as the interpreter does.

I have trespassed already too far on your patience, and that of the readers of the Asiatic Journal to introduce extracts here from the King's officer's pamphlet; they are, however, so valuable to all parties concerned, that I mean, with your and the editor's permission, to reserve them, with a few remarks, for some subsequent occasion. In the interim, I remain, Sir, No. 11, Clarges Street,

Your's, &c.
April 15th, 1826.

John BORTHWICK GILCHRIST.

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