Page images

lightful is it, if you see a place, that you are enabled to sketch it upon paper, and to copy flowers and trees, and even people. Music, too, how soothing ? how cheering? how enlivening? how pleasant ? for a wife to be enabled to play to her husband, to her children, and to sing to solace them. And then to write to those when circumstances call them far away; to express to them at a distance the feelings which those at home bear to them, and to be able, though thousands of miles distant, to write to tell of the manners and customs of those among whom you are journeying. Oh ? our dear countrymen, let us urge you, let us implore you to add to the happiness of your daughters by giving all of them education.”

From these extracts, and others of an equally interesting nature which want of space precludes our noticing, our readers will be able to calculate the advantages which our journalists gained by a brief residence in England, and of the estimation in which they were held by all classes with whom they became acquainted. The uncertainty of a favorable reception, more perhaps than religious prejudices, it is alleged has deterred the more respectable of the natives of India from undertaking a visit to the dominant country, which, whatever their speculation regarding her may be, can alone give them an adequate conception of the dignity, wealth and importance of the great English nation. But if such apprehensions have had more than usual currency, they must, in a great measure, have been dispelled by the experience of Dwarkanath Tagore, who, during his sojourn in Great Britain, had honors conferred on him which nobility itself considers a distinction, and who, as a proof that his reception exceeded his most sanguine expectations, has once more left his native shore, as the bearer of an address of thanks from the inhabitants of this city to Her Majesty the Queen for her condescension in presenting them with the portraits of herself and Royal Consort, which now decorate the walls of our Town Hall. But the instance of Dwarkanath Tagore, it may be urged, is a rare one and must not be taken as a precedent for general adoption. There is truth in the allegation. The worthy Baboo unquestionably possessed advantages which do not belong to the generality, or even to a tithe of his fellow-countrymen. He courted, more perhaps than any other native, European society, and endeavoured to emulate the virtues that belong to the European character. The change to him was a change, not of kind, but degree. He proceeded, moreover, to Europe under the guardianship if we may so express ourselves of an influential official, the late Chief Justice of Bengal, and was in the possession of a fortune, which enabled him to obtain popularity by the exhibition of that oriental splendour, which is so captivating to the denizen of the west. A happy combination of these circumstances, no doubt helped to pave the way to that more than common honor with which he was greeted. But such glittering appendages belonged not to our journalists. Their aims were different, but the gratification they derived from their visit was no less complete. They proceeded to England under no powerful patronage ; neither, if they possessed the means, had they any intention to create a sensation by the lavish expenditure of wealth,—their object being the study of a profession which the creative force of western intelligence had made a mystery to the oriental naval architect. In the absence therefore of extrinsic advantages, they possessed acquirements which cannot fail to command respect. Their deportment throughout was modest; their disposition to receive instruction was great; and above all their devotion to their professional pursuits was so enthusiastic, that, by the exhibition of these qualities, they soon became objects of attraction. Persons moving in an exalted sphere extended towards them the “hand of good fellowship,”—proving thereby, incontestibly, that wealth is not the only surest passport to distinction. The friend. ships which such qualities engender are sincere since they spring not from interested motives. Some such friendships our journalists made which they tell us “ will only terminate with their lives.” Their parting admonition, which we gladly echo, to their brethren in the East, especially to those “ who have leisure and money is by all means pay a visit to England. Amply, most amply, will you be repaid for the expenditure of your time and a portion of your fortune.” If this admonition, coming as it does from those who can have no motive for deception, produce but the slightest effect, we shall not regret having devoted a few of our pages to the examination of the “ unpretending'' journal of Jehangeer Nowrojee and Hurjeebhoy Merwanjee.

On the Study of the Native Languages, Hindi and Hindus

tani. Selections-- Asiatic Lith. Comp., Press 2nd Ed. 1830, Gulistan.

For many years after the British obtained a footing in India, the Native languages were not made a subject of study by the Civil or Military Servants of Government in general. Both branches were deficient in tliis important qualification for the effective discharge of their official functions. Some few indeed in the early times obtained no inconsiderable acquaintance with the Oriental languages, but they were the exceptions. Among the earliest perhaps of those who turned their attention in that direction was Governor Hollwell, whose valuable collection of curious Hindu Manuscripts, including two copies of the Shastras in Hindi and his own translation of a great portion of them were lost in the capture of Calcutta in 1756. The establishment of the Asiatic Society in 1784, formed a centre of attraction which drew together and preserved what oriental knowledge was afloat in society and has handed down to

us many

eminent in eastern literature, among whom those of Wilkins, Balfour, Wilford, Hastings, Shore, Kirkpatrick, Gladwin and Gilchrist* are well


In the Oriental Annual Register of 1801, is a poem in which the memories of the most distinguished members of the institution are embalmed-of the value of this production much cannot be said--the following may suffice :

" Merit's gold medal is to Gladwin due,

Who gave Imperial Uebar to our view;
His prudent laws-his sentiments on things :
"This living portrait of the first of kings,
Persia thy lore was early Gladwin's care,
The graces saw and bade him persevere.
Gilchrist with odes conveying tender truth
Smooths the rough paths of science for our youth.


known. Hastings was well aware of the value of this knowledge, but he was too fully occupied with the Herculean labor of systematising the chaotic government he found, when the pressure of external and internal difficulties was removed, to find leisure for devising any project for the education of the government servants on this important head. We know not what acquaintance he had himself with the higher walks of oriental literature, but there is no doubt that he had acquired a competent knowledge of the Persian and Urdu.

Many of the military, as in later days, attained to a very considerable colloquial knowledge of the common dialects; the intercourse of the European officer with the Sepahi was more intimate than at present, when rules and regulations have fine-drawn duty almost to a mechanical operation : and the connections too so often formed with native women tended to create a familiarity with Hindustani as a spoken language among a good many—but very few studied the oriental dialects grammatically. The absence of Grammars and Dictionaries was insuperable obstacle.

It was not until Lord Mornington became Governor-General that any qualifications either in a knowledge of the laws or languages of the people whose differences they were to adjust, whose crimes they were to judge and whose contributions to the revenue they were to collect, were required from the civil servants. With him however a new era opened. At the end of ’98 he published an order in Council declaring that the due administration of the internal Government and affairs of the Company in Bengal required that no civil servant should be nominated to certain offices judicial and revenue until it had been ascertained that he was sufficiently acquainted with the laws and regulations enacted by Government and the several languages, a knowledge of which is requisite for the due discharge of their respective functions.

No civil servant after 1st January 1801 was to be appointed to any Judicial or Revenue office until he had passed an examination in the laws and languages which was to be fixed by the Governor-General in Council.

There was a distinction however in the examination for the judicial and revenue departments : for, while the former were required to have a competent knowledge of Hindustani and Persian, the latter were only expected to be acquainted with the Bengali or Urdu according to the province they were employed in.

But while demanding these acquirements from the public civil officers the Government was not backward in providing the means: that excellent institution the College of Fort William was established ; and Professors appointed for the different branches of study. Gilchrist was

[blocks in formation]

installed in the chair of Persian and Hindustani, and a selection of works in the native languages was compiled for the use of the students. In the next year we find the Governor-General expressing his sense of the merits of Mr. Gilchrist in having formed a valuable Hindustani Grammar and Dictionary, and thereby facilitated the acquisition of the language most generally used throughout this presidency, and for the zeal ability and diligence with which he had discharged the duty committed to him of instructing the junior civil servants who were directed to attend him for the purpose of acquiring the Hindustani and Persian.

Among the books prepared for the use of the College by Gilchrist, were two volumes of selections in the Persian and Devanagari character, the former in the Urdu and the latter in the Hindi languages. These works have formed the standard school classics of early students and with the Anwar-i-Joheili and Gulistan are generally known by the designation of the “ black classics.”'

The path having been thus rendered accessible, it is surprising that the Court of Directors did not immediately follow up the act of the Governor-General by rendering a competent knowledge of the languages imperative on all their servants, at least before entrusting them with situations of responsibility and emolument. The College of Fort William however was not looked upon with an eye of affection by the Court, and the scale on which it was established was absolutely disapproved : it may not therefore have been thought politic to shew the soundness of the Governor-General's judgment, by adverting to the advantages which would naturally have followed the institution on the scale proposed. Whatever the case may have been we do not find the acquisition of the native languages insisted on among military officers until 1823, and then interpreters of regiments were called on to shew their qualifications for the appointments they held by passing an examination in the languages current in the provinces of the Bengal presidency and the order even then emanated from the Commander-inChief.

Interpreters were placed on a better footing than they had previously been. They were to be considered staff officers and exempt from Battalion duty except in cases of emergency. House allowance, hitherto only allowed when marching or in the field, was granted them in all situations. They were required to pass an examination in Hindustani before a committee of competent officers assembled by order of His Excellency the Commander-in-Chief, who were to forward a detailed report of the examination, with a certificate specifying the nature of the officer's proficiency, and their opinion of his competency to conduct the duties of an Interpreter to a general court martial.

The favorable certificate and opinion of the committee was to be sufficient authority in the first instance to hold the situation, but before being confirmed in it, he was required to undergo a further examinaation by the public examiners of the College of Fort William and obtain from them a favorable certificate and opinion of his qualification. Officers at that time holding the situation were required to pass the prescribed examination within twelve months.

This order was followed in a few months by another laying down the scale of qualifications expected from officers, candidates for the appointment of interpreter. They were as follows:

1st. A well-grounded knowledge of the general principles of Grammar ; to be ascertained by well selected questions, not of the niceties, but of the general leading principles.

2d. The ability to read and write with facility the modified Persian character of the Urdu and the Devanagari of the Khuri bholi, to be ascertained by written translations into Hindustani in both characters of selected orders, rules or regulations, and by reading and translating the Bagh-o-bahar, the Prem Sagur and Gulistan or Anwar-i-Joheili.

3rd. A colloquial knowledge of the Urdu and Hindui, sufficient to enable him to explain with facility and at the moment any orders in those dialects or to transpose reports, letters, &c. from them into English. This was to be tested by vivâ voce conversation.

In the course of the few next following years the Interpreterships of Regiments were filled by passed men and a spur was given to the young lads to spend a portion of their long daily leisure in an occupation which not only lessened the tedium of the day's confinement within doors, but rendered them more fitted for their duties and also opened a road to honorable and lucrative employment as regimental staff officers.

From about this time (say 1826) we may consider that none but men who had passed the Mofussil or College examinations have been interpreters, and it has been often a subject of discussion whether the old or modern interpreters were the best. This, we believe, is generally allowed that as a medium of verbal communication between the officer and sipahi, the old ones were superior, many of them being very good colloquists (though ignorant of the character and grammar of the languages) from constant intercourse with the natives, but that on the other hand the Modern Interpreters are deficient in an intimate practical acquaintance with the language which nothing but intercourse with the natives can give.

This is what might be expected when we consider that young lads just from school, with their minds accustomed to the study of languages are the ones who pass the examinations and become Interpreters—indifferent perhaps at first but with every chance of their becoming daily more competent—and we must also bear in mind in considering the amount of good done by enforcing the study, that though the prize of the regimental appointment can fall but to one, yet it incites many to qualify themselves to hold it, and thus the actual amount of knowledge of the languages diffused through each regiment is great.

While on this point we may briefly notice the slight comparative encouragement which is held out to one branch of the service, and that, one which from its long list of Subalterns and consequent slow promotion (not to mention that commissions in it are held out as the prize of superior acquirements) ought certainly not to be placed in a worse position than the rest of the army. We need scarcely say that we refer

« PreviousContinue »