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There the benefit and delight of worshipping an innumerable crew of gods, might be seen, in a ritual inexpressibly silly except where filthy or cruel, and not to be matched for complex multiplicity by all the tracks of noxious and loathsome reptiles at this hour crawling and wriggling in the purlieus of all the pagodas in Hindpostan.. It could not but be a very dignified and pbilosophic thing, to prefer the thousand-fold ceremonial about eating rice, to the Christian morality; and to. wish the commutation of rational repentance, for propitiatory exercises in cow-dung. And our inquisitiveness concerning a future state, which could find so little for rational belief or sublime and awful speculation in the Christian views of another life, might satisfy its utmost demands for evidence and magnificence now at last, on obtaining, a revelation which promises to the eminently good, (that is, those that have been the most obstinate in useless austerities), a final beatific absorption amounting to an extinction of individual consciousness; and predicting to the rest a long succession of births, in the course of which the souls of the wicked have a chance of finding themselves lodged in the forms of all sorts of reptiles and vermin, and even of sprouting in weeds from the dunghill,
The admirable translator seemed to labour under a considerable and in some degree ludicrous perplexity, whereabouts, on the scale of wisdom and sanctity, to fix the place of the Indian demi-god, prophet, and lawgiver. He had gone to the East with an imagination on fire at the idea of those intellectual wonders, which even he, surpassingly illuininated as he was, had to a certain extent suffered himself to believe the Sanscrit had guarded within its mysterious recesses for so many centuries, to be revealed to a happier age. As soon as he dared to hope those recesses might not be impregnable to his own literary ardour, he felt much of the spirit of the knight-errant, going to rescue the fair princess, Truth, from the durance of an unknown language. In the very reasonable exultation at finding himself at last the master of this language, and thus admitted at once into a world combining perfect novelty with extreme antiquity; thus introduced into a region peopled with sages, to whom so many delusive associations of thought had conspired to give an appearance of alıngst super-human venerableness; and thus finding a perfectly new track for ascending far towards the primeval periods of the world,-it is not, perhaps, to be accounted strange, that he could not view with altogether undazzled eyes the work which suddenly unfolded to himself, and by which he was suddenly unfolding to the European world, the whole frame of a system which had been the obVOL. VI.
ject of ineffectual curiosity and vain conjecture and fable ever since the time of Alexander. And therefore, while it was impossible for his dignified understanding not to see that he had got into his hands the very quintessence of all manner of absurdity, and impossible for bis ingenuousness not to avow this perception in very pointed terms, he yet appeared somewhat reluctant to acknowledge, even to himself, that the system celebrated for thousands of years, as something almost too awful to be profaned by investigation, was absolutely nothing but a compost of whatever was most despicable, and whatever was most hateful, in paganism. It might well be supposed, therefore, that his honest acknowledgement of the futility of the metaphysical conceits, of the monstrous priestcraft, of the ceremonial silliness, of the partially bad. morality, and of several other reprobate qualities manifest in the work, was not made without some reluctance and more tification. And this presumption is verified by his evident anxiety to shew, as a set-off, certain other qualities alledged to be prominently distinguishable in the Institutes, and which nothing but an imagination, not yet effectually cured of the oriental fever, could have allowed to be described in such terms as the following :-nevertheless, a spirit of sublime devotion,' [devotion to what?'] of benevolence to mankind,' [when a very large proportion of the work, probably much more than half, is employed, directly or indirectly, in adjusting and fixing, in a complete system, ihe unparallelled iniquity of the distinction of Castes, and the most arrogant and oppressive claims of the Brahmins !] ' and of amiable tenderness to all sentient creatures, pervades the whole work: the style of it has a certain austere majesty, that sounds like the language of legislation, and extorts a respectful awe; the sentiments of independence on all beings but God, and the harsh admonitions, even to kings, are truly noble.' Preface, p. xv. Perhaps it had been as well for this incomparable scholar and estimable man, to have imitated, on this occasion, the prudence of the first invader of Sanscrit, Mr. Wilkins, who, in his preface to the Geeta, stated, witlo demure and exemplary gravity, that in the estimation of the Brahmins it is the saered repository of the sublimest doctrines and mysteries, and ventured a conjecture at the design of its truthor; but avoided committing himself in any estimate of Its merits, and slily threw on the collective Christian wise-men of Europe the responsibility of deciding for or against the divine Brahminical revelation.
The hopes which the appearance of the Geeta had but tou desperately blighted, were utterly death-smitten and shrivelled up by the Institutes ; since this latter greater work not
only had its own due proportion of all that is abảorrent to reason and disgusting to taste, but, as constituting or illustrating the grand basis of the religious economy, it necessarily certified us of what must be, substantially, the quality of the whole mass of sacred rubbish in the repository of Benares. -Such then was the end and the reward of the pious faith and hope, with which our benighted spirits had so long been looking toward the expected Brahminical revelations. We were now, for the most part, quite content to forego the privilege of reading any more of their law and their prophets. But our eastern scholars,—whether it is in order to convince us that our despondency has been premature; or to avenge the rejected gods by plaguing us, or whether a latent zeal for Christianity, (how little suspected !), was seeking to drive us into it by an aggravated impetus of recoil; or' whether, more probably, it was considered that, as our government has taken the hea- , then worship under direct and special patronage, it was but a point of consistency to promote the study of the books wbich give the pattern and celebrate the objects of that worship ;---whatever has been the design, those scholars have, in spite of all our chagrin, and our mutters and murmurs of • Che! jant satis est,' continued, through the Asiatic Researches, and other channels, an unremitted and merciless persecution of our galled and mortified feelings, by their successive abstracts and translations from the Holy Scriptures of the Brahmins; and we that, not very long since, had been so confidently anticipating from those sacred works all the delights of the richest poetry, and all the elevating sentiments of a most sublime religion, are feeling and looking just as any person would do, that, having eagerly fallen to devour some supposed choice dainty which proved on trial to be liberally mixed with sand, cinders, and even still less delectable substances, should be forced to prolong the repast, while some of these ingredients were constantly crashing between his teeth.--It is perfectly right, bowever, that this persecution should go on to a yet considerably greater length. Let our infidels, who could have the assurance and the stupidity to affect an air of lightly-despatching contempt for the authority of the Bible and the reason of its believers, while they were prompt with a manner and language of reverence and affiance at any mention of the Indian Sastras, let them be glutted and gorged to loathing and strangulation with this Amrita, this their extolled Hindoo elixir of life. Let them enjoy such a regale as Moses gave to the idolatrous Israelites, and be made to drink, in the vehicle of translations from the Sanscrit, the pounded substance of all the indian gods. The Baptist Missionaries, who hate now begun to lend a hand in the preparation of this luxury, have a peculiar right to administer it, and to witness the repugnant grimaces of the recipients. For they have been traduced, and hooted, and almost cursed, by all sorts of people, civil and military, lay and ecclesiastical, for their 'bigotry and fanaticisni, in protesting in a pagan land against the pagan superstitions. Some refuse substances, put in human shape, have raved and bullied about the flagrant injustice committed against the heathens, in suffering these men to offer to them the Bible as a book worthy to supplant their piles of mythological legends. And persons wishing to carry not only some appearance of decorum, but even somewhat of the dignity of philosophy, have professed to wish that the narrowminded Zealots for one religion had understanding enough to learn the proper respect for the religious institutions and scriptures of other nations, especially those of an immense people, who can point back to a splendid state of their hierarchy and sacred literature in the remotest ages. The most ingenious malice, had that been the actuating principle of the Missionaries, could not have fallen on a more effectual expedient of revenge, than that of opening in this manner to the English public those religions' and 'scriptures', to which these judicious persons have taken credit to themselves for extending their liberality. And that they may accomplish in the most decisive manner whatever good is to be effected by this expedient, we earnestly hope their plan will be to transJate a moderate portion of several of the most celebrated works, rather than the whole of any one of them. It would be a most deplorable waste of their labour and time to translate the whole, for instance, of the present work, which would probably extend to ten such volumes as that before us. We are persuaded they will be convinced it would be a. seriously immoral consumption of time also in the readers, surrounded with such a multitude of better things claiming - to be read or to be done, to traverse the whole breadth of such a continent of absurdity. But indeed it is probable no mortal would be found capable of so much perseverance, except, perhaps, Mr. Twining, and the noted Major, and two or three other personages, the remission of whose pamphleteering labours against the propagation of Christianity in India, may have now left them leisure for so congenial an occupation. And in the daily expectation of the fulfilment of their predictions, that the permitted continuance of the missionaries in India would infallibly cause the speedy and total expulsion of the English from that country, we think these gentlemen should be peculiarly thankful for whatever
translated portions of the holy scriptures can be obtained, before the catastrophe that will put an end to the translating.
In a much too brief advertisement, the translators state the occasion and nature of their undertaking. The religion and literature, the manners and customs of the Hindoos, have become the object of a more general curiosity than in any former time, and of these, they observe, a clear idea can be obtained only from a connected perusal of their writings.' Under this impression,, Sir J. Anstruther, the late president of the Asiatic Society, had • indicated a wish to the Society of Missionaries at Serampore, that they would undertake the work of translating such of the Sungskrit writings as a Committee, formed from the Asiatic Society and the college of Fort-William, should deem worthy of the public notice; and, in con. sideration of the great expense necessarily attending an undertaking of this nature, these learned bodies generously came forward with a monthly indemnification of three hundred rupees. In addition to this, the late President of the Asiatic Society, anxious for the advancement of Eastern literature, addressed a letter to the different learned institutions in Europe soliciting their patronage to this undertaking.'
It was proposed to print in the original, accompanied by a translation as nearly literal as the genius of the two languages would admit, the principal works found in the Sanscrit, particularly those that are held sacred by the Hindoos, or those which may be most illustrative of their manners, their history or their religion, including also the principal works of science. The committee • made choice of the Ramayuna of Valmeeki to be the first in the series of translations. The reverence in which it is held, the extent of country through which it is circulated, and the interesting view which it exhibits of the religion, the doctrines, the mythology, the current ideas, and the manners and customs of the fiindoos, combine to justify their selection.'
• The translators have only to observe, that a strict conformity to the original has been the object constantly kept in view. To this has been sacrificed, not only elegance of expression, but in some places perspicuity. A free translation would have been an easier task ; but esteeming it their duty to lay before the public, not merely the story and machinery, but the imagery, the sentiment, and the very idiom of the poem, they have attempted this as far as the difference of the two languages would permit. And they trust a candid public will excuse every defect of phraseology, when it is understood that the object has been to present the original poem in its native simplicity.'
It may seem a duty of our office to try at something like an abstract of this epic story, or rather farrago; but it is such a formless jumble, that we would gladly be excused from attempting more than a slight notice of some of the principal