Page images

in several respects. Amongst others, he could not, with decency, allow his pen that scope in his delineation of the chief characters of the court, who were all his personal enemies, as he had done in that of the enemies to the King and monarchy in the grand rebellion. The endeavour to keep up a show of candour, and especially to prevent the appearance of a rancorous resentment, has deadened his colouring very much, besides that it made him sparing in the use of it; else, his inimitable pencil had attempted, at least, to do justice to Bennet, to Berkley, to Coventry, to the nightly cabal of facetious memory, to the Lady, and, if his excessive loyalty had not intervened, to his infamous master himself. With all this, I am apt to think there may still be something in what I said of the nature of the subject. Exquisite virtue and enormous vice afford a fine field for the historian's genius. And hence Livy and Tacitus are, in their way, perhaps equally entertaining. But the little intrigues of a selfish court, about carrying, or defeating this or that measure, about displacing this and bringing in that minister, which interest nobody very much but the parties concerned, can hardly be made very striking by any ability of the relator. If Cardinal de Retz has succeeded, his scene was busier, and of another nature from that of Lord Clarendon. ' p. 217.

His account of Tillotson feems also to be fair and judicious.

As to the Archbishop, he was certainly a virtuous, pious, humane, and moderate man; which last quality was a kind of rarity in those times. His notions of civil society were but confused end imperfect, as appears in the affair of Lord Russel. As to religion, he was amongst the class of latitudinarian divines. '—' As a preacher, I suppose his established fame is chiefly owing to his being the first city divine who talked rationally, and wrote purely. I think the sermons published in his lifetime are fine moral discourses. They bear, indeed, the character of their author,-simple, elegant, candid, clear and rational. No orator, in the Greek and Roman sense of the word, like Taylor; nor a discourser, in their sense, like Barrow; -free from their irregularities, but not able to reach their heights; on which account, I prefer them infinitely to him. You cannot sleep with Taylor; you cannot forbear thinking with Barrow; but you may be much at your ease in the midst of a long lecture from Tillotson, clear, and rational, and equable as he is. Perhaps the last quality may account for it.' p. 93, 94.

"The following obfervations on the conduct of the comic drama were thrown out for Mr Hurd's ufe, while compofing his treatise. We think they deferve to be quoted, for their clearness and juftn (s.

'As those intricate Spanish plots have been in use, and have taken both with us and some French writers for the stage, and have much hindered the main end of Comedy, would it not be worth while to give them a word, as it would tend to the further illustration of your


subject? On which you might observe, that when these unnatural plots are used, the mind is not only entirely drawn off from the characters by those surprising turns and revolutions, but characters have no opportunity even of being called out and displaying themselves; for the actors of all characters succeed and are embarrassed alike, when the instruments for carrying on designs are only perplexed apartments, dark entries, disguised habits, and ladders of ropes. The comic plot is, and must indeed be, carried on by deceit. The Spanish scene does it by deceiving the man through his senses ;-Terence and Moliere, by deceiving him through his passions and affections. This is the right; for the character is not called out under the first species of deceit,-under the second, the character does all.'

P. 57.

There are a few of Bithop Hurd's own letters in this collection; and as we fuppofe they were selected with a view to do honour to his memory, we think it our duty to lay one of them at leaft before our readers. Warburton had flipped in his garden, and hurt his arm; whereupon thus inditeth the obfequious Dr Hurd.

I thank God that I can now, with some assurance, congratulate with myself on the prospect of your Lordship's safe and speedy recovery from your sad disaster.

Mrs Warburton's last letter was a cordial to me; and, as the ceasing of intense pain, so this abatement of the fears I have been tormented with for three or four days past, gives a certain alacrity to my spirits, of which your Lordship may look to feel the effects, in a long letter.

And now, supposing, as I trust I may do, that your Lordship will be in no great pain when you receive this letter, I am tempted to begin, as friends usually do when such accidents befal, with my reprehensions, rather than condolence. I have often wondered why your Lordship should not use a cane in your walks, which might haply have prevented this misfortune; especially considering that Heaven, I suppose the better to keep its sons in some sort of equality, has thought fit to make your outward sight by many degrees less perfect than your inward. Even I, a young and stout son of the church, rarely trust my firm steps into my garden, without some support of this kind. How improvident, then, was it in a father of the church to commit his unsteadfast footing to this hazard?' &c.



There are many pages written with the fame vigour of fentiment and expreffion, and in the fame tone of manly independ


We have little more to fay of this curious volume.' Like all Warburton's writings, it bears marks of a powerful understanding and an active fancy. As a memorial of his perfonal character, it must be allowed to be at leaft faithful and impartial; for it makes us acquainted with his faults at leaft, as diftinctly as with his exA a 3 cellences;

cellences; and gives, indeed, the most confpicuous place to the former. It has few of the charms, however, of a collection of letters; no anecdotes-no traits of fimplicity or artlefs affection;-nothing of the softness, grace, or negligence of Cowper's correfpondence and little of the lightness or the elegant prattlement of Pope's or Lady Mary Wortley's. The writers always appear bufy, and even laborious perfons,-and perfons who hate many people, and defpife many more. They neither appear very happy, nor very amiable; and, at the end of the book, have excited no other intereft in the reader, than as the authors of their respective publications.

ART. VI. A Grammar of the Sanskrita Language. By Charles Wilkins, LL. D. F. R. S. 8vo. pp. 650. London, 1808.


ROM the first establishment of European settlements in India, the attention of missionaries, and of all individuals in any degree tinged with literature, had been directed towards a language whose wonderful structure recommended it to investigation, as much as the interesting monuments of high antiquity, which it was said to contain. This curiosity has been transmitted to England, and imported in much larger quantities to the Continent of Europe. It has been usually shipped, however, as an article of private trade; and by no means formed a part of the East India Company's regular investment. Their patronage has only been recently extended to literary researches. The eminent persons who now direct that establishment, have not imitated the apathy of their predecessors.

The profuse encouragement given by the present ruler of France to all works calculated to diffuse a knowledge of the oriental languages in his dominions, induced a celebrated French orientalist to examine, in 1805, the manuscript grammars transmitted by the Indian missionaries to the Royal library. But the materials were not found sufficiently ample to recommend the publication to the patronage of Government. In a different line, however, the object has probably been already fulfilled with striking success, and France put in possession of a copious and accurate Chinese dictionary, by M. de Guignes, son of the distinguished orientalist, whose youth spent in China was devoted to the acquisition of its language.

By the appearance of no fewer than three Sanskrit grammars during the present year, England, at least, has been amply supplied

with information in that particular. Of the first, by Mr Colebrooke, we have not been able to procure a copy. We understand, indeed, that the first part only has reached this country, and that it is a translation of an excellent original grammar, intituled Saraswata. The second, by Mr Carey, has been for sale during some months. It is principally founded on the grammars most commonly used in Bengal, intituled Mugdabadha. The performance possesses considerable merit, and certainly bespeaks great labour. We think Mr Carey unfortunate, however, in selecting the work of Vopadeva as his principal guide, and that much of the intricacy, perplexity and confusion observable in his own, is imputable to this cause. Translations of original grammars, though invaluable to the metaphysician and philologer, are but ill calculated to accelerate the progress of students, previously acquainted with the principles of general grammar, in a different dress.

The publication before us is the production of Mr Wilkins, the first European who successfully studied the Sanscrit language, and the first who introduced its literature to the acquaintance of the Western world. His complete knowledge of its structure, by furnishing him with comprehensive views of all its proportions, has enabled him to discard the technical terms and arbitrary arrangements of the Indian grammarians, unless where these really facilitate the study to an intelligent European. The general rules are delivered in a clear and succinct manner: yet the exceptions, and the examples necessary to illustrate them, together with the rules to which the Indian grammarians have attempted (sometimes unsuccessfully) to subject these anomalies, have swelled this grammar to 656 pages. Still its size is considerably less alarming than that of Mr Carey; and both, indeed, in some measure, supply the want of a lexicon, by copious lists of Sanscrit roots. In short, Mr Wilkins's performance seems to us to unite the appropriate excellencies of a grammar-accuracy, conciseness and perspicuity. We must not, indeed, expect to find the path of the Sanscrit student strewed with roses, scattered by the oriental muses, as in the compositions of Sir William Jones and Mr Halhed few and simple rules of the modern dialects of Persia and Bengal, and the small number of exceptions which occur to those general rules, admitted of extrinsic decorations, without rendering their works inconveniently large. But the necessary magnitude of the task which Mr Wilkins had prescribed to himself, evidently obliged him to relinquish the ornaments he might derive from poetry. The road, therefore, to Sanscrit literature, is rugged as the ascent to the temple of virtue; and of the flowers which might have charmed the dreariness of the way, nothing is left us but the A a 4



[ocr errors]

To the servants of the East India Company, the Sanscrit comes recommended as the parent of every vernacular dialect spoken by the civilized nations of Hindustan, from the snowy mountains of Thibet and Bhutan, to the extremity of the Southern peninsula. To these we may add the dialects of Srinagar, Nepal and Asam. We have no hesitation in asserting, that in all of these which we have had an opportunity of investigating, three fourths of the words are pure Sanscrit; and that, of the rest, most are changed or corrupted by a regular system of permutation, by substituting particular consonants in the room of others. Thus, in the Bengal dialect, the Sanscrit v, uniformly passes into b; and d and m very frequently into l. Hence vodo, speak, becomes bobo; a change which would scarcely be credited, were it not proved by the multitude of examples.

In our remarks on the able and luminous paper of Mr Colebrooke, on the Sanscrit and Pracrit languages, in the Seventh volume of the Asiatic Researches, we have exhibited his list of the vernacular districts of India. From the recent extension of the English possessions in that country, there is not one of those dialects that is not spoken and exclusively understood by the great bulk of the natives, in some quarter of our dominions. It is true, the Mohamedan conquerors have introduced Persic as the language of diplomacy: the judicial records and revenue accounts were committed to the archives in that language; and, in that particular, the East India Company, who succeeded to their authority, have followed their example, without any assignable motive. It is probable, however, that the extinction of the great Mohamedan empires of India, will soon lead to the disuse of a practice attended with so many disadvantages. At present, the native chiefs are in the habit of receiving and transmitting to the English governors, letters, which neither those who send, nor those who receive them, can read; the Persic language being equally foreign to both. In judicial proceedings, again, the pleadings and examination of witnesses are actually conducted in the vernacular language, the parties in general knowing no other; but they are committed to the record in a Persic translation, although the ability and fidelity of the persons employed to translate them are frequently more than suspicious. In the accounts of revenue, the admirable simplicity of the Hindi annotation is changed for the complex and imperfect system of the Persians, although the motive which dictated this operation ceased to exist with the Mohamedan domination. We shall cease to wonder at this absurdity, if we recollect the period which elapsed from the Norman conquest, before the French language was banished from our own courts of justice, and the difficulties which attend great innova

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »