網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

victim decked out for sacrifice, called to me, What, Wilberforce, is that you ? Selwyn quite resented the interference ; and turning to him, said, in his most expressive tone, "O, sir, don't interrupt Mr. Wilberforce; he could not be better employed.” Nothing could be more luxurious than the style of these clubs. Fox, Sheridan, Fitzherbert, and all your leading men, frequented them, and associated upon the easiest terms : you chatted, played at cards, or gambled, as you pleased.” But what was the social influence of this club-life? Are we to set off the pleasant chat and unrestrained fun of club dinners and suppers against the mad excitement of drink and play that followed, with the train of resulting evils,-gout, paralysis

, embarrassment, ruin, suicide; homes first forsaken, then made wretched, then left desolate? It is not pleasant to dwell on that terrible chain of cause and effect. How changed is all in St. James's Street since those fast and furious days! The dandies still muster in the bow-windows at White's to ogle the passersby, and kill reputations; but the rattle of the dice-box is heard no more in the halls of Raggett; and the hazard-room has ceased to be. The play has subsided to a quiet whist-party of elderly gentlemen, at guinea points and five guineas on the rubber; hazard is not even mentioned in the rules and regulations of the club.

So, too, at Brookes's. IIow altered now from what it was when Mr. Thynne left the club in disgust, because he had only won 12,000 guineas in two months! The card-room is stiil lighted up by night during the season. Mr. Banderett, or his representative, still takes his stand by the shaded lamp behind the green curtain, at the desk, from which in old times the counters used to be dealt out,-ammunition for the terrible battle of the hazard-table. But the groom-porter's occupation is gone. Only, the grim black-browed face of Charles Fox on the wall of the reception-room down-stairs recalls the history of the past. What merry suppers, rampant orgies, wild bets, colossal winnings and losings, party conclaves, and state secrets, the ears of those quiet neutral-tinted walls have tingled with in days gone by! The Fox club still meets at Brookes's; but that club, its doctrines and its traditions, are of the past. There is a public now more potent than all parties. With the omnipotence of its will can coexist no such empire as a Pitt or a Fox wielded over their followers.

But there still hangs round the old clubs of St. James's Street an odour of other times. The Conservative, with its staring bran-new exterior, and its slap-dash encaustic decoration, is a parvenu, an anachronism, and an anomaly. Let it retreat to Pall Mall among its showy brethren of the hour, and leave Arthur's and Boodle's and Brookes's and White's to their sober old gentlemanlike exclusiveness, their traditions of the past, — their palæological rules and regulations,—their antediluvian systems of management. These institutions form the only club-link between our days and those of our grandfathers. For this reason, a notice of them seems to form the fitting close of an article on the London Clubs of the last century. The London Clubs of our own time we hope to make the subject of a future article. We shall have more to say on the social bearings of the club-life we have been describing, when we try to estimate the influence of these associations on our own times. It is impossible to pronounce fairly as to the character of club-influences on either period, unless both generations are brought to account.

ART. IV.-ANCIENT INDIA.*

Life in Ancient India. By Mrs. Speir. London: Smith, Elder, and

Co., 1856. Inulische Alterthumskunde. Von Christian Lassen. (Indian Archon

logy.) Bonn: König. Vol. I. 1817; Vol. II. 1819; Vol. III. Part I. 1857.

* We adopt Weber's mode of transcription of the Sanskrit letters into Roman, as that which does least violence to the ordinary received powers of the latter, and requires the smallest apparatus of diacritical dots. It is greatly to be desired that some uniform and accurate system should be adopted ; and Weber's seems to us greatly superior to Dr. Max Müller's Missionary Alphabet, which, while making no use of the letters c, j, 9, x, adopts the unsightly practice of writing k and g in italics to indicate the soft sound of c and j. The only letters employed by us with a power different to that which they have in English are the following :

Vowels and Diphthongs as in Italian ; long vowels circumflexed, și nearly as in English “merrily,” very short ; si as in tree. c as in Italian città, English church, before all letters alike. ç nearly like s, or French ch (so written to imply its origin from a k sound). x like ksh. t, d, n, a rather duller sound, more in the head, than the simple t, d, n. m after a vowel, nearly as the French nasal sounds. a very slight aspirate. after a consonant (kh, gh, ch, j, th, dh, th, dh, ph, bh) is heard separately, as

in Welsh (Rhyl), but sh'as in English: Want of care and consistency in the orthography of Sanskrit names is the only fault with which we have to charge Mrs. Speir. She writes them now according to the loose English method of spelling modern Indian names, and now according to the stricter system introduced on the Continent, apparently in conformity to the source whence she has taken them. And some are strangely misspelt ; as Susanaga for Sisunaga (properly Cizunâga).

[ocr errors]

Academische Vorlesungen über indische Literaturgeschichte. Von Dr.

Albrecht Weber. (University Lectures on the History of Indian

Literature.) Berlin : Dümmler, 1852. Modern Investigations on Ancient India. A Lecture by Professor

A. Weber. Translated by Fanny Metcalfe. London: Williams

and Norgate. 1857. Specimens of Old Indian Poetry. By R. T. Griffith. London:

1852.

When India was first opened to the commerce and the investigating spirit of Europe, its inhabitants presented the spectacle of a people of remarkable manual and mechanical ingenuity, and of rare mental subtlety ; possessing a highly complex social system, which abounded in artificial restrictions, recommended by no obvious fitness, yet scrupulously observed both by those who reaped their benefits and by those who suffered from their oppression; owning a unique species of hierarchy, and a religion which counted its gods by thousands, and pictured them of grotesque and hideous form, with arms and legs by the dozen; and having a chronology which floundered hopelessly amidst its mundane periods of thousands and millions of years. It was, moreover, à people, by a “peculiar institution” more tyrannous than that of the American States, broken up almost infinitesimally into distinct races, voluntarily debarring themselves from intermarriage and the kindly communion of mutual hospitality, and consigning the noblest opportunities yielded by nature to neglect rather than shake off the yoke of a self-imposed bondage.

Yet a little meditation upon the extraordinary phenomenon here presented, must have convinced a thoughtful observer that India was more than this. The numerous arms which made the figures of their idols hideous, were they not a degenerate way of foreshadowing the universal and simultaneous action of Deity? The three eyes, do they not indicate his omniscience? And if ages of the most grinding despotism of foreign conquerors have not availed to crush out of the Indian character that firmness which even now leads the widow to sacrifice herself on her husband's funeral pile, and prompts the observance of the most vexatious ordinances of caste, may not there have been, when India was free, and there was a cause worth striving for, a highsouled heroism, a battling against evil, which would have secured this nation a place among the greatest in the world ?

Nay more. If even the light of Christian truth has often, in its passage through dark ages, been dimmed and nearly extinguished in the foul vapours of superstition and bigotry, how much more likely would be the lesser glimmer of truth and purity, which we may suppose to have enlightened the early Indians,

Z

to go out amidst the grossness of sensualism and superstition, and the degrading influences of a series of merciless and desolating conquests? If that Hebrew nation, which, in the freshness of their religious life, whilst they still felt their morality and their law to be directly inspired by the Spirit of God, embodied both the one and the other in ten grand Commandments, of which nine are purely moral and spiritual, and one only of a formal and ritual nature, lived to incur the rebuke that they were wont to pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and omitted the weightier matters of the law,-lived to be slaves to the dry technicalities of the Talmud,--might not, conversely, even the meaningless formalities of the Indian system be the dry bones from which the life-vigour of an older scheme of social law worth living for had departed ? If the once living tongue of the Jewish Scriptures came in time to require the overgrowth of points and signs, and the learning of schools and doctors, to regulate the pronunciation of a syllable, or seek a mystical meaning in a simple word,-might not, conversely, the magic formulæ of Vedic texts, and the scholasticism of Vedic doctors, be the last phase of decrepitude of an Indian Scripture, which, like the Jewish, had once had a natural and vigorous life?

This has been more or less consciously felt with regard to India ever since a knowledge of that country has been gained by Europeans. Even old Abraham Roger,* while giving an account of the idols of the popular mythology, with very little indication that he saw any thing in them but the grotesqueness of their outward forms, and asserting that the Indians worshipped the devil, takes pleasure in giving a translation of the Proverbs of Bhartrihari, which frequently embody a wisdom not of infernal parentage. Sir W. Jones translates the celebrated prayer (Gâyatrî) from the Rigveda in a way implying that he regarded it as addressed to the supreme Godhead," who illuminates all, who recreates all, from whom all proceed, to whom all must return, whom we invoke to direct our understandings aright in our progress towards his holy seat.” And F. Schlegel said in 1808 : “We cannot deny to the Ancient Indians the recognition of the true God; as all their old writings are full of expressions as noble, clear, and lofty, as profound and carefully discriminating and significant, as it is possible for human language to speak of God at all.”+ And again, of their more developed system: “It is the first system which took the place of the truth : wild fictions and gross error ; but every where still traces of divine truth, and the expression of that terror and that melancholy which are the natural consequences of the first fall

* Opene Dewre tot het verborgen Heidendom. Leyden, 1651. † Sprache und Weisheit der Indier, p. 103.

[ocr errors]

ing away of man from God.”* This is conceived in a noble spirit, that of deducing the religious life of a people from a pure and not a devilish source; but it goes too far; for, as Bohlen says, “ least of all must we, as some do, find the religion of a people in the works of philosophers.” The popular religion of India is as far removed from the profound thoughts of its philosophers on heavenly themes, as the Homeric mythology is from the spiritual wisdom of the Platonic Socrates; yet as the Homeric mythology abounds in forms alternately graceful, grand, and fantastic, which betoken a fresh and genial love, or rather adoration, of nature, so in India, the further we trace the popular religion back, the more fresh and spontaneous appears the acknowledgment of the powers that rule the universe.

During the last quarter of a century, our knowledge of Ancient India has advanced with such rapid strides, and the memorials of the progress made are contained in so many volumes, especially of periodical literature, in India, England, and the Continent, that it would be difficult accurately to trace the advance. It becomes very apparent if we compare Bohlen's workt with Mrs. Speir's. Of the earliest, or Vedic, period of Indian society, which yields some of this lady's most attractive chapters, Bohlen was able to say almost nothing. Then not a line of the Vedas had been published in the original; and the only information accessible was contained in Colebrooke's celebrated Essay, Sir W. Jones's translation of the above-mentioned prayer, and some translations, by Rammohun Roy, of a few of the supplements to the Vedas, called “Upanishad.” Now the libraries of London, Oxford, Paris, and Berlin, possess Mss. of the Vedas; the publication of one is completed, and that of the other three far advanced, and the most important are accessible in translations. Of the two great epics, only a very few fragments from

. near the commencement, and those chiefly consisting of episodes unconnected with the main action, and now confessed to be of later date, had been made public at the former period. Now both these immense poems lie before us in the original Sanskrit, and one of them in a complete Italian translation; and there are, perhaps, a dozen scholars in Europe acquainted with their entire contents. Of the dramas, more was known through Wilson's translation of six, and Sir W. Jones's of one; but only two were published in the original language. The most important ancient work then at all adequately known, was the “Code of Manu;” but after that, the far less instructive literature of fables and stories of no great antiquity, and the comparatively modern lyrics, constituted the major part of what was

• Sprache und Weisheit der Indier, p. 106.
† Das alte Indien, 2 vols. Königsberg, 1830.

a

« 上一頁繼續 »