Imatges de pàgina
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tal fancy, can now suggest, which may offer a tithe of the advantages conferred by Roman capitals?

Still farther, by the beautifully simple device of “ Italics," an emphatic word or phrase is made to strike the eye, and thereby reach the understanding or the heart, with an ease and rapidity that almost surpasses conception, and sets description at defiance. In this particular, we should like to know what imaginable contrivance equally simple and perfect could be devised for any one of the Indian alphabets ? and yet, in reading, how can the importance of such an admirable contrivance be too much exaggerated* ?

Again, what is the perfection of a written character ? Is it not facility of formation, combined with distinctness? In this respect the Roman character is cnimitated and inimitable. The form of the written letters is not so different from that of the printed, as to demand much additional time in mastering it,--and that little time is more than compensated for by the almost incredible speed with which it can be employed in practice.

There are, besides, other peculiar advantages. Men may contrive to disguise the fact as they may, nevertheless, it is not the less certain, that, though nominally or theoretically, the printed and written oriental character is the same; practically, there is a difference as wide, and often wider, than between the printed and written Roman character. The truth is, that that form which answers best in print is far too stiff, angular, or rounded, to suit the speed that is so very desirable in writing. Hence it happens that a Hindú or Mussulman, when he writes his own alphabetic character, with any degree of quickness, almost invariably finds himself constrained to depart from the precision and regularity of the printed form, yea, to depart so far from it, that his writing is often illegi

That no one may think this over-stated, let the following quotation from Murray's large grammar be duly weighed : “On the right management of the emphasis depends the life of pronunciation. If no emphasis be placed on any words, not only will discourse be rendered heavy and lifeless, but the meaning often left ambiguous. If the emphasis be placed wrong, we shall pervert and confound the meaning wholly. To give a common instance such a simple question as this, “Do you ride to town to-day?" is capable of no fewer than four different acceptations, according as the emphasis is differently placed on the words. If it be pronounced thus: “Do you ride to town to-day,” the answer may naturally be, “No, we send a servant in our stead." If thus: “ Do you ride to town to-day ?” Answer, “No, we intend to walk." "Do you ride to town to-day?” “No, we ride into the country.” “ Do you ride to town to-day ?" No, but we shall go to..morrow.” Now if so much of the meaning and force, and often so much of the beauty and propriety of an expression, depends on the emphatic word, is it not of the highest importance that it should be distinctly marked ? From the example now given may not the most obtuse understanding perceive, with what matchless ease, simplicity, and effect, this can be done, by means of italic letters ?--And may we not challenge all the orientalists in the world to concoct if they can, an expedient which, with the same ease, simplicity, and effect, can single out an emphatic term or expression in any of the Indian languages, if written or printed in the Indian characters?


ble to all but himself, and not unfrequently even to himself. More than this; as there is no acknowledged standard of written character, one man departs from the printed standard in one way, and another, in another. Hence, necessarily arises a grotesque medley of characters, a “ rudis indigestaque moles” of varying forms. Each man, in fact, may have his own system of written character, and there may be as many systems as there are writers. How inextricable then must be the resulting confusion ?

Compared with this unavoidable chaos, how orderly and complete is the Anglo-Roman system. Here all is regularity and harmony. There is one universally acknowledged standard of written, as well as of printed, character, even that which upites in the highest possible degree, quickness in forming, and distinctness when formed. And this standard being established by common consent, the deviations of particular individuals therefrom, being only variations more or less minute from what is fixed and uniform, they never do, they never can lose their similitude or identity with the original. One man can never fail to understand his own writing: and all men must be able to decypher the writing of all men. So far, therefore, from the distinct written form being an “inconvenience,” in practice; it must be hailed as one of the greatest and happiest “ conveniences,” which the wit of man ever suggested, or his ingenuity contrived.

6. It is asserted, that " all the useful books that have been and will be published in the native characters before such a change takes place must be reprinted in the Roman;" and then follows the wondering exclamation, "What an immense expense will be incurred in the reprinting of such works as Baboo Ramcomul Sen's English and Bengali Dictionary, Dr. Carey's quarto Dictionary of the Bengali and English, &c.”

Surely there is an utter fallacy or oversight in this objection. How stands the case ? Is the printing of one edition of a book like the opening of a perennial spring, which, when it once begins to flow, will continue to pour forth its exhaustless waters for ever ? If it is, we grant, that the printing of another edition in the same or in a different character may be said to incur an extra expense, large or small, according to the size of the work. But it is not so : one edition, consisting as it does of a limited number of copies, is obviously exhaustible, and when all the copies are sold, it is of course exhausted. What then must be done? What else can be done, but to print a new edition, in order to meet the growing wants of a rising community ?-and if a new edition of a good book must be called for, in the natural order of events, may it not be printed in one alphabetic character, as well as another, without incurring, se immense” additional expense, or any additional expense at all? Men not even the expense of such a reprint be vastly less than that

original edition ?


But it is added, that the Indian letters, in consequence of the inherent vowel and particular combinations, may be compressed into as small a space as the Roman. It is needless to argue this point abstractly. It resolves itself into a simple matter of fact; and the best answer that can be given is, to advise the reader to look back, and, inspecting the specimens supplied in this article, let the testimony of the visual organs decide the question in debate.

7. It is objected, that by the proposed substitution, we deprive the present generation of the means of mental and moral improvement.

This is founded on a total misconception of our design. It is not in our power, nor if it were, would we ever propose to suppress all the existing publications, and supply no more in the same form. We know that there are hundreds and thousands of adults acquainted with the native character, who can never be expected to learn any other. And suddenly to deprive them of works which they can peruse, and the perusal of which is calculated to elevate and purify their minds, were either a species of inquisitorial cruelty or a sort of wicked madness. Enthusiastic and visionary as we are reputed to be, we have not yet suspended the functions of sober reason. Our object is, by all lawful means, to disseminate the knowledge of a system which we verily believe to be fraught with blessings innumerable to this benighted land. With this view, books in every department of religion, literature, and science will be immediately prepared and published on the improved plan. The mode of reading these, with intelligence, will be taught to those over whom our influence extends ; and every reasonable encouragement will be held out to all who desire to propagate the knowledge of it. By these means the superiority of the reformed system will be gradually perceived, and its advantages duly appreciated ; till at length it may be divulged to the extent of absorbing all the prevailing systems. In other words, the native alphabets retiring before the Roman, and being naturally displaced by its incumbent and increasing weight, will eventually, without violence or alarm, disappear from off the land.

But during the intermediate process, books will be supplied to the adherents of the old systems, that are to sink fast into decrepitude and final annihilation. That is, for a season, there will be two contiguous and contemporaneous streams—the old and the new the former decreasing, and the latter increasing, in volume—the one contracting itself within narrower bounds, and the other enlarging its borders ; till at last both channels become one, on whose broad and expanded bosom shall flow the fresh waters that are to scatter fertility and abundance over a dry and parched land. Or, to drop the metaphor, we shall, for some time to come, have to furnish two sets of books—the one in the native, and the other in the Roman character. With the former we shall supply chiefly the aged; with the latter, chiefly the young, especially those who learn English

Let then the School Book Society, the Bible Society, the Tract Society, &c. provide themselves with books of the two kinds now mentioned, wherewith to supply these two classes of readers. And as the new order of things gains ground, the copies in Roman character will abound more and more, till they gradually supersede those printed in the native form. And, when great numbers of the reading population come to understand and prefer the new arrangement, then may the Sumachar Durpun, and other journals especially designed for natives, exchange their Indian for the Roman garb. And then may we witness the sublime spectacle of all books, pamphlets, magazines, and journals unitedly pouring forth floods of knowledge, through one consistent and harmonious medium, over every region of the largest and fairest empire under the sun* !

The foregoing are all the objections which we have seen advanced; and whether in themselves, and especially in contradistinction to the manifold advantages pointed out in a former paper, they can be allowed to possess®“ the weight of a feather,” we leave to the candid reader to judge. Some, as fully anticipated, have again sounded the toesin of the letters, the letters, what is the

* That cavillers may no longer taunt us with the sneering question :Having now settled your alphabetic scheme, what use are ye going to make of it?" it may be stated, that we have already began to apply it to its legitimate purpose. The following works are now in preparation, and some of them already passing through the press ; viz. 1. The New Testament, English and Bengalí

. The Bengali version, in Roman character: to be published in single Gospels.

2. The New Testament, English and Hindústání. Do. Do.
3. Woollaston's Grammar, Bengalí, and Hindústání.
4. Moral Precepts, English and Hindústání verse.
5. Scientific Dialogues, &c. &c.

6. The Elementary English works, or Primers, prepared for the General Assembly's Institution, Calcutta, viz.

No. 1. Instructor, interlinear Bengali version, in Bengalí character, to be afterwards followed by the Roman.

No. II. Do. literal version in Bengalí character, and free version in Roman.

No. III. Do, entirely in Roman character.

We trust it will now be seen that we are in right earnest, and that our scheme is not to evaporate in mere words. And as our earnest desire is to give offence to none, but do good to all, we sincerely hope that many, who are now lukewarm, or even decidedly opposed to us, may yet be conciliated and become our staunchest friends and supporters.

Since we wish, with the least possible delay, to translate Primers, Grammars, Histories, &c. into every language and dialect in the presidency of Bengal, we would respectfully solicit the assistance of such European and Native gentlemen as are competent to the task of translation. If any one who is qualified will kindly undertake to translate one or more works into the language or dialect with which he is acquainted, he will be immediately supplied with a copy, on application. When completed, the work will be printed free of expense to him, and he will be furnished gratis with a large number of copies for distribution. Already have some gentlemen promptly volunteered their valuable services; and others, who cannot lend their aid

learning of letters ? A trifle, a trifle, a mere trifle.” Reasons which have not yet been controverted were formerly given for dissenting in toto from the burden of this song. And if farther confirmation be required, it may now be furnished. Some years ago, when controversy ran high respecting the merits of Dr. Gilchrist's philological labours, these found an advocate in the Edinburgh Review. The Quarterly, on the other hand, with its tremulous dread of all change, treated the learned orientalist with lofty disdain. But in spite of the most deadly hostility, the current of change has set in, and who can now arrest its progress ? Even the Quarterly, which still doggedly clings to many antiquated errors, has in some things changed. On the present question even it has let in some gleams of light. In the last No. or the No. for October, there is an able Review of Grimm's New German Grammar. In his elaborate introduction, this author, in the genuine German style, has a lengthy dissertation on the origin and descent of the ancient European languages,—the Gothic, the German, the Saxon, the Celtic, the Sclavonic, &c. Now mark the Reviewer's words.

“ The first 600 pages of the book are taken up with a minute examination of the letters in each of the dialects which come under consideration, and here we must commend the example Grimm has shewn in abolishing the use of the Gothic characters. There is no more reason for our employing them, than for our using the Roman capitals in printing Latin ; the common type was equally unknown to both nations, and the use of the uncouth Gothic letters, both increases the difficulty to the reader, and adds to the expense of printing, without affording any countervailing advantage. Indeed, the example might be extended even to the oriental languages with very great benefit ; if, for instance, the Sanscrit were printed in European characters, we are convinced that a large class of persons would acquire at least its rudiments, who are now deterred from similar studies by the formidable difficulty of a new character looking them in the face at

outset." With such a respectable authority as this on our side, we can afford to allow objectors to regale themselves undisturbed with the music of their own favourite fancies.

now developed our plans, our expository task is ended. in translation, have decisively expressed their good will, by forwarding liberal donations to defray part of the expense that must, in the first instance, be necessarily incurred.

Besides providing translations of useful works, and printing these in Roman character, it is our intention, if supported by an enlightened public, to select every oriental book that is worth any thing, and turn it into the new orthography, i. e. Romanize it. In this way we may expect that the good, or at least the harmless, will help to swell the accumulating body of sound literature-while the bad and worthless will be abandoned to neglect, and left to perish as they deserve.

T'he entire series of Native works and translations, we may desig nate “The Romanized Series of Oriental Literature.





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