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encouragement of native literature, for the expense of substituting printed books for manuscripts; and of preparing and publishing useful translations; and it is of too inconsid rable an amount to be withheld from these objects, even if the Government be not fully impressed with their importance.
From a consideration, then, of the nature of the existing resources for the promotion of native education, under the Bengal presidency, it is undeniable that they are, for the most part, of a specific origin, and of determinate application, and that to employ them in the establishment of other seminaries, and for other purposes, is to annul the liberate acts of former governments, and to subject the existing administrati to the charge of breach of faith. That the Government has abstractedly che right of resuming grants made by its predecessors, cannot be disputed; but it is a right that cannot be too cautiously exercised, and that the resumption in the present instance is just, politic, or generous, may safely be denied.
Whilst, however, few will question the rightful claim of native literature and its professors to the whole of the grant destined for their encouragement by the Parliament of Great Britain,--whilst still fewer will dispute their right to property expressly assigned to them by successive local Governments, and recognized as their's through periods of varying duration, extending as in the case of the Madressa to fifty years, there can be none, I should imagine, who will deny their having a strong moral claim upon the patronage of the British Government. Why do they need it? Let us replace their nawabs and rajas in possession of the rank and revenues which they enjoyed before we seized upon their territory; let us restore to the natural patrons of the scholars of India the means of maintaining them, and pundits and maulavis will then have no reason to complain of the supercilious indifference and heartless neglect of their rulers. But we have exterminated the patrons, we have usurped their power and engrossed their wealth, and those who depended upon them must perish, unless we admit that the duty of providing for them devolved upon us along with the funds from which that provision was derived. There are some things which we cannot restore to the learned classes of India; we cannot sympathize with their tastes, we cannot appreciate their talents, we cannot delight them by our admiration nor exalt them by our applause; but we can give them bread, we can abstain from robbing them of the pittance which the enlightened humanity of some amongst ourselves has bestowed.
It is not the learned classes alone, however, who have a claim upon the revenue for the encouragement of native literature ; the people at large have a right to expect that a part of their own money, a portion of the revenue we raise from them, shall be applied to the maintenance of their own institutions and the cultivation of their own literature. It has been pretended, indeed, that the natives of India entertain no veneration for their own literature and are indifferent to its extinction ; but the assertion is too contrary to all experience to merit refutation. The Mohammedan petition is reply sufficient, if reply were needed. As long as the Hindu and Mohammedan religions subsist, the works in which their doctrines are enshrined must be considered by Hindus and Mohammedans as sacred, and a total revolution must take place in eastern society before many other branches of their learning cease to be held in estimation. Had native princes the disposal of the revenues of British India, there can be no doubt that native literature would be liberally encouraged, and it would be politic as well as magnanimous in us to avoid reminding our subjects that we still are strangers. It would be but prudent, as well as generous, to interest ourselves in behalf of the intellectual efforts which they delight in, venerate, or admire, until at least we can lead them, with their own concurrence, to chaster models of taste, correcter guides in science, and purer sources of religious belief.
But, it is asserted, this advancement in sound knowledge is not to be expected unless the study of English is substituted altogether for the study of native literature. The experience of the last ten years proves that the opinion is unfounded. During this period, native literature has been actively encouraged ; during the same period, English literature has been actively encouraged; no incompatibility between the two has been found to exist, and improvement, to an extent which the most sanguine expectations could scarcely have anticipated, has been the result. The very measure now under discussion, the very project of making English the exclusive object of study, is a proof of great and unexpected change. Ten years ago, its introduction at all into the Government institutions was regarded by competent authorities as a difficult and delicate question, and no one would have ventured to conjecture that its adoption altogether would ever be seriously proposed. That such an idea should now be entertained is evidence of an altered feeling amongst a considerable body of the people, and this altered feeling has been the work of the same Education Committee that respected ancient endowments, and fostered the literature of the country.
It unfortunately happens, in India, that few public measures are subjected to a fair trial; that they are suffered to pass through a sufficient period of probation for their tendency to be unequivocally manisested ; that they grow up through seasonable and healthy stages to ripeness. The individuals by whom they are commenced leave the country before they bring their arrangements to maturity, and, being succeeded by others wiser in their generation, the rash confidence of inexperience roots up the yet imperfect plant, to make room for another, destined in its turn to die and bear no fruit. Such seems to be the case at present. Individuals of undoubted talent, but of undeniable inexperience; of unquestionably good intents, but of manifestly strong prejudices, have set themselves impatiently to undo all that was effected by men, at least, their equals in ability, their betters in experience, and who can never be surpassed in an ardent desire to accelerate the intellectual, moral, and religious amelioration of the natives of India. To those acquainted with the civil service of Bengal, but a few years back, and to many interested in the temporal and spiritual welfare of the people of British India, it will be sufficient to mention the names of Harington, Martin, Larkins, Bayley, Mackenzie, and Sterling, to satisfy them that, in the Education Committee of Bengal, as it existed for several years subsequently to its first formation, there was no deficiency of cultivated talent, experienced observation, sound judgment, or enlightened
piety. That proceedings originating with, and sanctioned by, such individuals, should merit to be condemned and reversed by such successors as those I have alluded to, is little probable, and still less likely is it that they should have overlooked or lightly esteemed the important question of extending the study of English through the presidency of Bengal.
Accordingly, the minutes of the Education Committee will shew that, after collecting all the information that was procurable regarding the state and prospects of native education,* they entered fully into the question of communicating the knowledge of English to the people. The advantage of such instruction was at once recognized; but there were then insuperable obstacles in the way of its immediate and extensive introduction, the principal of wbich were the low esteem in which English, as a vehicle of knowledge, was held, and the repugnance of the natives to its acquirement. It may be doubted, even now, how much of the popularity which English enjoys is ascribable to any sense of its value as a medium of instruction, and how far the expectation of a limited degree of proficiency proving the means of earning a livelihood, alone influences the natives in their reported eagerness to engage in the study. That the learned and influential classes were inspired by no such zeal, that they looked with indifference, if not with disdain, upon the acquirement, even when they had been induced to make a respectable progress in the study, I know to have been the case when I left Bengal, and I cannot believe that their sentiments have undergone so sudden and so total a change. However this may be, the Education Committee of 1824 reported, that “the actual state of public feeling was an impediment to any general introduction of western literature and science;" and, instead of exacerbating aversion, by forcing the study, they undertook to allay the jealousy and secure the confidence of those with whom they had to deal, before they attempted to bias their judgment and influence their tastes.
The principles which actuated the Education Committee, during the period I was proud to be attached to it as secretary, were these. Feeling that the faith of the Government was pledged for the maintenance of the Dative colleges, and that learned natives had many claims upon the Government patronage,-convinced that the native mind might derive real benefit from the cultivation of various branches of their own literature, especially their philology, their laws, and, in the case of the Mohammedans, their history,—and satisfied that, by taking their studies under European superintendence, many improvements might be silently introduced and many innovations quietly engrafted on the original stem, the Committee determined, in the first instance, to render the native institutions effective. They went to work in good faith and sincerity of purpose, and displayed an active and judicious interest in the well-doing of the native colleges, both Mohammedan and Hindu. The immediate consequence was, the entire confidence
• So little does the present committee benefit by the labours of its predecessors, that a gentleman has been appointed, I understand, with a large salary, to inquire into the state of native education. All the information that can be of any necessity is to be found in their own records, as the first step of the Education Committee was to circulate queries calculated to elicit an exact view of the condition in which dative education was then prosecuted. Many valuable answers were received, which might have obriated the necessity of the appointment referred to.
and cheersul obedience of the leading members of those bodies, and advantage was taken of their good-will to give a more useful direction to the studies of the youth and new facilities to proficiency; a number of young and talented individuals have, in consequence, been reared in their own course of education, who have proved of valuable assistance in the administration of the laws, and have diffused a higher scale of acquirement and a loftier tone of intelligence throughout the country. At the same time every opportunity was also taken to introduce that branch of study which was at first so distasteful, and English classes were gradually established, and without a murmur, in all the institutions originally confined to education in the native languages and literature alone.
At the same time that an important advance had been effected by the introduction of English into the native institutions, it was expected that a combination of studies might be in time accomplished, which would not fail to be productive of the most momentous results. As long as the learned classes of India are not enlisted in the cause of diffusing sound knowledge, little real progress will be made. In the history of all philosophical and religious reformation, it will be found that the most effective agents have been those who had been educated in the errors they reformed: such men alone can come fully armed into the contest, as are masters not only of their own weapons but of those wielded by their adversaries. Bacon was deep in the fallacies of the schools : Luther had preached the doctrines of the church of Rome: and one able pundit or maulavi, who should add English to Sanscrit and Arabic, who should be led to expose the absurdities and errors of his own systems, and advocate the adoption of European knowledge and principles, would work a greater revolution in the minds of his unlettered countrymen than would result from their own proficiency in English alone. There are at this moment a number of able English scholars, amongst the natives of Bengal, who are well disposed to labour for the enlightening of their fellows, but whose efforts are of little avail, because they are not masters also of the learning of their people. Such a combination is not to be hoped for under the new system, and the undue depreciation of native literature, and the unjust encroachments on its long acknowledged rights, will have converted its professors into angry foes, where they might have been rendered attached and invaluable allies.
At the same time that the Education Committee steadily availed themselves of every opportunity to blend English with Oriental studies, they gave to the former, where it was prosecuted singly and to good purpose, the most effectual support : of this, the Hindu college is an unanswerable proof. When first associated with the native managers of this seminary, the committee found it in a state of helpless inefficiency: some fifty boys were occupied with the merest rudiments of the English language. In the course of a few years, the number of scholars was increased to four hundred, and the pupils proceeded from elementary study to a familiarity with our best authors, both in prose and verse, and at the same time were instructed in different branches of useful knowledge. At the examinations of 1830, written answers were given, with very creditable accuracy, to several
mathematics, chemistry, and experimental philosophy. One young man has since published a volume of English poems of singular merit; another edits an English newspaper; several are in the habit of speaking at public meetings of our countrymen in Calcutta, and in a style not common amongst Englishmen; several have established themselves as English teachers and school-masters, and two at least, young men of respectable families and of more than ordinary talents, have become Christians. Such have been the effects of the encouragement of English by the Education Committee that also encouraged native literature, and all this was accomplished, without exciting any discontent or alarm, with the cheerful acquiescence and perfect good-will of all classes and all religions.
From this brief notice of the objects accomplished by the first Education Committee, in the short space of eight years, it will, I think, be evident that the expectations raised by the sterling characters of those of whom it was composed were more than fulfilled, and it may be safely inferred that a few more years of the same judicious proceeding would have realized all that was really worth attempting, without violating any pledges, without invading any rights, without wounding any feelings, without doing legal or moral wrong.
In considering the question of an extended study of English, it is necessary to inquire what should be proposed. No person, I presume, will think it worth while seriously to attempt the extirpation of the vernacular forms of speech in favour of our language. It is only of importance to determine whether we should seek to disseminate extensively the practical use of the English language, or a conversancy with our literature. The former is unprofitable and unnecessary; the latter is impracticable.
To extend a smattering of English throughout India, is to do little good. Every day's experience shows that a command of the English language, sufficient for the ordinary purposes of life, is quite compatible with gross ignorance and inveterate superstition. The Bengali sircar or kerani, who copies letters and keeps accounts, who understands all that his employer says to him, and who can communicate intelligibly to his master all that it is necessary for him to impart, is as genuine and unenlightened a Hindu as if he had never known or spoken any other than his mother-tongue. Nay, there are well-known instances of individuals of rank and education, who have acquired the elegancies of our language, and who speak and write it with purity and precision, who are not the less bigotedly devoted to their national belief. If it is expected that a knowledge of the English language merely, will work a beneficial change in the principles of the people, the end will most assuredly be disappointment. To spread a thin sheet of water over a vast tract, will generate only slime and weeds; fertility is the consequence of deep and judiciously distributed irrigation.
Whilst the wide dissemination of superficial acquirements will be of little real good, it is an object on which it is quite unnecessary for the Government to bestow attention or cost. The demands of the public service and of private interests already offer a sufficient inducement to the natives to acquire the use of English, to an extent fully equal to all they could derive from the multiplication of petty schools at the Government charge. It is