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was the source of all language.” * " It is astonishing," he remarks, "what an immense amount of real learning and ingenuity was wasted on this question during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It finds, perhaps, but one parallel — in the laborious calculations and constructions of early astronomers, who had to account for the movements of the heavenly bodies, always taking it for granted that the earth must be the fixed center of the planetary system.t
." These labors continued till near the close of the last century, when the discovery and opening up of the Sanskrit literature wrought an entire revolution in regard to the whole subject of the classification of languages. So great was the excitement caused by this discovery, so radical and important were the results which it was perceived must flow from it, that some of the first scholars and philosophers of Europe doubted its genuineness. For example, Dugald Stewart denied the reality of such a language as the Sanskrit altogether, and wrote his famous essay to prove that it had been put together after the model of the Greek and Latin by those arch forgers and liars the Brahmans, and that the whole of the Sanskrit literature was an imposition.” I
* Science of Lang., first series, p. 134. + Ibid. p. 133.
Ibid. p. 164.
Lord Monboddo treated the subject more philosophically, though scarcely more consistently. " He had,” says Müller, just finished his great work 'On the Origin and Progress of Languages, in which he derives all mankind from a couple of apes, and all the dialects of the world from a language originally framed by some Egyptian gods, when the discovery of the Sanskrit came on him like a thunderbolt. It must be said, however, to his credit, that he at once perceived the immense importance of the discovery. He could not be expected to sacrifice his primeval monkeys or his Egyptian idols, but with that reservation the conclusions which he - drew .. are highly creditable to his acuteness. He says (1792), 'I have got such certain information from India, that if I live to finish my history of man, which I have begun in my third volume of " Ancient Metaphysics," I shall be able clearly to prove that the Greek is derived from the Sanskrit, which was the ancient language of Egypt, and was carried by the Egyptians into India with their other arts, and into Greece with the colonies which settled there.'
"A few years later (1795) he had arrived at more definite views on the relation of Sanskrit to Greek; and he writes, 'Mr. Wilkins has proved to my conviction such a resemblance between the Greek and
the Sanskrit, that the one must be a dialect of the. other, or both of some original language. Now, the Greek is certainis put a daiect of the Sanskrit, any more than the Sanskrit is of the Greek. They must, therefore, be both dialects of the same language; and that language could be no other than the language of Egypt brought into India by Osiris, of which undoubtedly the Greek was a dialect.***
But I must give another quotation from this distinguished nobleman and paiiosopher, to show his idea of the origin of human speech.
I have supposed that language could not be invented without supernatural assistance, and accordingly I have maintained that it was the invention of the dæmon kings of Egypt, who, being more than men, first taught themselves to articulate, and then taught others. But even among them, I am persuaded there was a progress in the art, and that such a language as the Sanskrit was not at once invented.
This passage coastrains me to remark that, so far as I am aware, his lordship was the first to make any practical account of the demon dynasties - the Hanes — of Egypt. It is true that others had allowed them a place in chronology, with a period of many
• Science of Lang First Series, pero # Ibid. p. 160. Monboddo's Inc. Metaphysics, vol ir P-357
thousand years' duration, but it was reserved for our Scotch philosopher to tell us what those ghost mon. archs did in the practical affairs of men. They invented the Sanskrit language!
These notices of two great scholars of the last century have a substantial value in relation to our subject. They should teach us the uselessness, the danger, of premature generalizations, when as yet we have but a partial view of the facts involved. Lord Monboddo died in 1799, and Dugald Stewart in 1828; yet in the brief space of time since elapsed, what an entire revolution, both in knowledge and opinion, has taken place in regard to things on which they pronounced with so much authority ! And how often do we still see repetitions of the same haste in the conclusions which are drawn from imperfect data, especially as bearing on the divine origin and authority of the Bible !
The history of what may be called European Sanskrit philology dates from the foundation of the Asiatic Society at Calcutta, in 1784. It was through the efforts of Sir William Jones, the missionary Carey, and other English scholars, as Foster, Wilkins, Colebrooke, etc., members of that society, that the language and literature of the Brahmans first became accessible to Europeans. In 1808 Frederick Schlegel published his little work on "The Language and Wisdom of the Indians,” which, says Professor Müller, " was like the wand of a magician.” It pointed out the place where a new mine of knowledge should be opened, and it was not long before the most distinguished scholars of the day were sinking their shafts and raising the ore. The savants of the continent — as Bopp, Schlegel, Lassen, Rosen, and Burnouf — resorted to England for the purpose of copying manuscripts at the East India House, and receiving assistance from Wilkins, Colebrooke, Wilson, and other distinguished members of the old Indian civil service. The first elaborate comparison of the Sanskrit with the Greek and Latin was by Francis Bopp, in an essay published in 1816. Other works of his soon followed, and in 1833 appeared the first volume of his " Comparative Grammar of the Sanskrit, Zend, Greek, Latin, Lithuanian, Sclavonic, Gothic, and German languages.” This work was not completed till 1852, nearly twenty years later. Other scholars entered the same rich field, and gathered from it very important and valuable fruits.