« AnteriorContinua »
two different sizes have therefore been employed; the larger attracts his eye to that which is of first importance: the smaller generally contains such matter as possesses no pressing claim to his immediate consideration. The Roman character has been applied to the expression of the Devanāgarī throughout the greater part of the Grammar, especially in treating of the rules which regulate the combination and permutation of vowels and consonants. There can be no doubt that the false opinion which prevails of the difficulty of Sanscrit may be traced to the labour imposed of thoroughly mastering these rules at the first entrance upon the study of the language. They form, as it were, a mountain of difficulty to be passed at the very commencement of the journey, and the learner cannot be convinced that, when once surmounted, the ground beyond may be more smooth than in other languages, the ingress to which is comparatively easy.
To simplify, as much as possible, this division of the subject has been the main object; and as an accurate acquaintance with the Devanāgarī letters is not here indispensable, they have not been introduced, except in cases where any doubt is likely to arise in the learner's mind. As he advances, he will find a more sparing use of the Roman character, and towards the end of the volume it has been entirely abandoned. For let it not be supposed that, by the mixed method of printing here adopted, any loose or inaccurate knowledge of the Sanscrit character is tacitly encouraged. Such inaccuracy is a too common obstacle to the sound acquisition of this language. The student satisfies himself at first with an imperfect knowledge of the Devanāgarī alphabet, and, having never conquered this difficulty at the outset, is ever after hampered by its perpetual recurrence.
The tabular views which have been given throughout this work, especially in the chapter on Verbs, will, it is hoped, conduce to the ready comprehension of the more complex parts of the subject. They contain some novelties, which
might require an apology, had they not been suggested by a strong belief in the falsity of the native method of proposing, as the general scheme, a system of terminations which applies rather to the exceptions, and then, by a needless process of derivation and substitution, forcing it into universal application.
In the chapter on Syntax, the laws which determine the coalition of vowels have not been observed, as being out of place in a portion of the subject which aims only at the clear exhibition of inflectional changes.
The Selections which have been appended to the grammatical part of this book offer the greatest facilities to the early student in his first effort at translation. Those in prose are of the simplest character, and every word is explained either by notes or by references to the preceding pages of the grammar. Those in verse contain some few difficulties, but the style is plain, and an English translation has been subjoined, which may aid the text, as well as tend to shew that the matter contained in Sanscrit literature may not be so unprofitable as some have ignorantly assumed. The separation of each word from the next, and the use of a mark to indicate the division when the blending of vowels makes such separation impossible, will offend the eye of the advanced Oriental scholar; but the beginner can scarcely be expected to know which is the final or which the initial letter of a word which he never saw before. Why, therefore, refuse to give the only clue which is to guide him in his search for the word in the Dictionary; and why, by uniting those parts of the sentence which admit of separation, superadd this unnecessary source of perplexity to the necessary difficulty, unknown in other languages, resulting from the blending of vowels and the composition of words? The natives of the East ought, in this particular, to conform to a custom which the art of printing has made universally prevalent amongst civilized nations, if, at least, they desire their languages to be generally cultivated by the people of Europe. Nor does there seem any reason in the theory which would make such a conformity incompatible with the laws of euphony.
It only remains to add, that in a work, small and unpretending though it be, in which so many minute points and marks have been employed to represent the Sanscrit character by the Roman, the correction of the press has been a task of no small labour. In this labour Professor Johnson, an Oriental scholar of whose varied attainments the East-India College has reason to be proud, has cheerfully co-operated, and in other matters also has freely given the benefit of his valuable advice and great experience. But whilst to him much of the merit is due that may belong to this book on the score of accuracy, it must be distinctly understood that he is entirely free from the responsibility of its novel structure and arrangement. It is also fair to state that some of the detail of the following pages has been suggested by a careful perusal of Professor Bopp's Sanscrit Grammar, printed at Berlin.
Formation of Nominal Verbs