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dialects cannot be thoroughly understood by the natives of India, or used with propriety without a knowledge of their learned languages. If, then, amongst the natives of India, all education beyond the most ordinary kind, requires the knowledge of more than one language besides the vernacular, what impropriety or unreasonableness can be imputed to those who desire to supplant such an extra or foreign acquisition as that of Arabic or Sanscrit by the introduction of English? It will hardly be denied by the most bigotted Orientalist, that the latter contains nobler treasures of literature and science than any Eastern language.
One would imagine that all mankind uld be anxious to get rid as much as possible of the curse of Babel, and would aim at acquiring a uniformity of language ; but there are natives of considerable acuteness who yet do not understand how great a blessing would be conferred upon their country by the abolition of the immense variety of dialects which now divide so many millions of their countrymen into different tribes. Nothing would more speedily or more effectually civilize the people of this vast land, and give them political strength, than a uniformity of language. It is the great bond of social union. It would change a thousand tribes into one people. A community of language is a community of thought. And if the people have now to choose a language it is natural to suppose that they would give the preference to that of their more enlightened governors, many of whom, we hope, are quite as anxious to improve the mind of India, as to increase its revenue. When people talk of the extreme difficulty of introducing the English language, they forget that it is not offered to men but to children. It is not the present but the rising generation upon whom this blessing is to be confer. red ; and every one knows with what extreme facility a child imbibes a language. The children of European parents in India generally speak English and Hindustani with equal facility. They learn them both simultaneously. And why should not the children 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 assiduity, in less than a quarter of a century there would be millions of young natives able to speak and write it with ease and accuracy. 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 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 Government 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 compassed 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 devoting 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 instruction 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 inbabitants 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 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 acquisi. tion 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
* The same may be said of the perusal of Shakespcare and Lord Bacon by the young natives of India.