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of Indian parents do the same * We will venture to say that, if Government would offer teachers a remunerating salary, instead
of the pittance that is now awarded to them, a sufficient number
of competent persons would almost instantaneously be found, and
if the English language system were pursued with zeal and assi
duity, in less than a quarter of a century there would be millions
of young natives able to speak and write it with ease and accu
racy. It cannot be doubted that it would take a much longer time
for the natives to improve any of their own languages than to
learn English. The science of the West could not be introduced
into the Bengali language without the cultivators of the latter
borrowing or inventing the entire nomenclature, and there are, delicate shades of thought, and exquisite turns of expression, that o could never be transferred into the dialects of the East. The improvement of an imperfect language is a dreadfully slow process
whereas the acquisition of a new one, especially by the young,
may be effected with the utmost ease and rapidity. If the Govern
ment once set earnestly to work upon their present plan, the result will be far more speedy and effective than is generally
imagined, even by the majority of the Anglicizers themselves.
It is not easy to reckon the good that has already been compass
ed by the English education bestowed on Indian youths. Many
of them, with a most generous and noble zeal, excited by the moral influence of an English education, are in the habit of de
voting their leisure hours to the task of communicating to their
poorer countrymen the blessings they have themselves received at
the hands of Englishmen. The public little know what a vast
number of native children are thus receiving gratuitous instruc
tion in English from the alumni and the ex-students of our colleges.
We are to add to the effect of this most benevolent practice, the influence of their example and conversation even upon their seniors who have not enjoyed the same advantages. Knowledge spreads like wild-fire.
The Orientalists are rejoiced to have Mr. Adam on their side. It must be admitted that if a clear head and strict integrity be entitled to respect, there are not many men in the world who have a better claim to it than Mr. Adam. At the same time, we may take the liberty to observe, that his authority on a question of this nature is not decisive. When he went to Rajshye to make his Education Report, his sentiments betokened “a foregone conclusion.” He was already prejudiced in favor of the native languages; and Mr. Adam is one of those men who combine the most honest intentions with an obstinacy of will that no opposition, however fair and reasonable, can easily subdue. He will grant nothing. He is “predetermined not to give a single sous.” Because he discovered that in Rajshye there were more schools for instruction in the vernacular than in the English tongue, he jumped to the conclusion, that the fact affords an index to the disposition of the people, and that we ought to attend to their desires. . This is as much as to say that the miserable system of education, if education it can be called, pursued in any semi-barbarous country, should by all means be encouraged, because it is still adopted by as many of the people as have enjoyed little or no intercourse with Europeans. What is to be expected from the ignorant inhabitants of obscure villages in India in which a white face is a wonder It is assuredly a wild absurdity to imagine that these simple people can form any conception of the comparative advantages of different systems of education. They are utterly ignorant of the nature of the blessings that an English education would confer. If it be true, that they desire an Indian education in preference to an English one, we hope the British Government will not act the part of Jupiter, and curse its petitioners by granting their foolish prayers, Let us not be guided by the blind. The natives in the neighbourhood of Calcutta, and other large cities, have had their mental vision couched. The
filmy curtain has been drawn aside, and they can distinguish good from evil. These men acknowledge the vast advantages of a study of the English language, and they eagerly send their children to our colleges. The youths themselves voraciously devour the mental treat that we place before them. Their appetite for European literature and science is so intense, that no ordinary exertions on the part of their teachers can keep pace with their desires. At the opening of the Hooghly College, there were no less than fifteen hundred native boys amongst the candidates for admission. The Hindoo College is always as full as it can hold of students who pay for their education. Is not this a stronger argument in favor of the English language, than can be drawn in favor of the vernacular dialects from the customs of ignorant villagers, who are guided solely by the example of their forefathers ? We are sorry to see some of the Orientalists quoting with approbation the vulgar absurdities of Cobbett upon the subject of the learned languages. Cobbett wrote with clearness and vigour upon local or temporary topics, but he knew nothing of general principles, and was a very miserable philosopher. The learned languages are not taught for the words alone, but for the thoughts o with which the words are indissolubly connected. The signs of thought cannot be studied without familiarizing the student with what they stand for. We are free to confess that somewhat too much time is devoted at our Colleges in England to the acquisition of Greek and Latin to the neglect of our mother tongue. If the English were a barbarous and barren language, there would be a fair excuse for such expenditure of time and labour; but as it is unquestionably enriched with high, and elegant, and varied learning, it is injudicious to pay less attention to our own living tongue than to the dead languages of foreign countries. Many a tolerable Greek and Latin scholar is utterly ignorant of the great authors of his own country, and is unable to write or speak his own language with grammatical propriety. But while we condemn this absurd preference of other languages to our own, we
are by no means disposed to second the opinions of those who think, that in reading the works of the great ancient authors, a boy is learning words alone. We cannot learn words alone. It is impossible to learn words without making ourselves in some degree acquainted with the objects of which they are the symbols. In fact, as it has often been observed, true words are things, and the only things too, that last for ever ! Temples, and towers, and cities and their inhabitants pass away, but written words remain. The works of Homer and Hesiod exist in words, as the mind exists in conjunction with the body. Separation is death. Dr. Joseph Warton was right enough in his strictures on a couplet of Pope, in which the sentiment of Cobbett is anticipated. “To read,” (says he, with the generous enthusiasm of a scholar) “to read, to interpret, to translate the best poets, orators and histori. ans, of the best ages; that is, those authors ‘that supply most axioms of prudence, most principles of moral truth, most examples of virtue and integrity, and most materials for conversation,' cannot be called confining youth to words alone, and keeping them out of the way of real knowledge.” It was the opinion also of a far higher authority, the clear and lofty minded Milton, that “if passages from the heroic poems, orations and tragedies of the ancients were solemnly pronounced, with right accent and grace, they would endue the scholars even with the spirit and vigour of Demosthenes or Cicero, Euripides or Sophocles“." Any time that could be spared from the study of our own authors might be devoted by our English youth with great advantage to the ancients; and if the field of English lore were less fertile than it is, we should hardly object even to the present disproportionate attention to the literature of Greece and Rome. The case is very different with the Bengali and the English, The most strenuous advocates for the Bengali do not venture to deny that there is an infinitely larger quantity of noble materialso
* The same may be said of the perusal of Shakespeare and Lord Bacon by the young natives of India.
for the food of the mind in the language of England. But they imagine that they can transfer with ease and rapidity the best portion of this intellectual wealth into the vernacular, through the medium of translation. There cannot be a more deplorable mistake. A glance at our English translations of the works of the ancients would suffice to convince any reasonable man of the excessive difficulty of transferring the literature of one language into that of another, even where there is some congeniality between the languages of the original and the translation. Good English scholars, acquainted with the ancients only through English versions, are at a loss how to recognize the justice of those fervid praises that have been lavished through so many ages and in so many different lands upon the authors of Greece and Rome. But the learned have no difficulty in furnishing a solution of the mystery. They tell us that the spirit of the great authors, who have become immortal heirs of fame, has evaporated entirely in the process of translation. One of the Orientalists observes, that Pope's translation of Homer is a master-piece, and must rank among English Epics next to Paradise Lost. If Pope had written nothing besides this translation or rather paraphrase of Homer, his rank as a genuine poet would have been far lower than it now is. The truth is, that all English critics at present concur in condemning it. The simple and sublime old bard is dressed like a modern coxcomb. “It is a pretty poem,” said Bentley to Pope, who had urgently pressed for his opinion of his translation, “but you must not call it Homer.” If the entire spirit and character of ancient authors is so changed by translators of skill and genius, who have a copious and flexible language at their command, we must expect a still greater loss of original spirit in the transfusion of ideas from English into Bengali. The late Dr. Tytler used to say that nothing could be more con