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their own appointed occupations. For any person unable to procure a subsistence by the exercise of his own profession may earn a livelihood in the calling of a subordinate caste, within certain limits in the scale of relative precedence assigned to each; and no forfeiture is now incurred by his intruding into a superior profession. It was, indeed, the duty of the Hindu magistrate to restrain the encroachments of inferior tribes on the occupations of superior castes; but, under a foreign government, this restraint has no existence.

* In practice, little attention is paid to the limitations to which we have here alluded : daily observation shows even Brāhmanas exercising the menial profession of a Sūdra. We are aware that every caste forms itself into clubs, or lodges, consisting of the several individuals of that caste residing within a small distance; and that these clubs, or lodges, govern themselves by particular rules and customs, or by laws. But, though some restrictions and limitations, not founded on religious prejudices, are found among their by-laws, it may be received, as a general maxim, that the occupation appointed for each tribe is entitled merely to a preference. Every profession, with few exceptions, is open to every description of persons; and the discouragement arising from religious prejudices is not greater than what exists in Great Britain from the effects of municipal and corporation laws. In Bengal, the numbers of people actually willing to apply to any particular occupation are sufficient for the unlimited extension of any manufacture.

If these facts and observations be not considered as a conclusive refutation of the unfounded assertion made on this subject, we must appeal to the experience of every gentleman who may have resided in the provinces of Bengal, whether a change of occupation and profession does not frequently and indefinitely occur ? Whether Brāhmanas are not employed in the most servile offices ? And whether the Sūdra is not seen elevated to situations of respectability and importance ? In short, whether the assertion above quoted be not altogether destitute of foundation ?'

It is much to be regretted that studies so auspiciously begun were suddenly interrupted by a diplomatic mission, which called Colebrooke away from Mirzapur, and retained him from 1798-1801 at Nagpur, the capital of Berar. Colebrooke himself had by this time discovered that, however distinguished his public career might be, his lasting fame must depend on his Sanskrit studies. We find him even at Nagpur continuing his literary work, particularly the compilation and translation of a Supplementary Digest. He also prepared, as far as this was possible in the midst of diplomatic avocations, some of his most important contributions to the Asiatic • Researches, one on Sanskrit prosody, which did not appear till 1808, and was then styled an essay on Sanskrit and Prakrit poetry; one on the Vedas, another on Indian Theogonies (not published), and a critical treatise on Indian plants. At last, in May 1801, he left Nagpur to return to his post at Mirzapur. VOL. CXXXVI. NO. CCLXXVIII.


Shortly afterwards he was summoned to Calcutta, and appointed a member of the newly constituted Court of Appeal. He at the same time accepted the honorary post of Professor of Sanskrit at the college recently established at Fort William, without, however, taking an active part in the teaching of pupils. He seems to have been a director of studies rather than an actual professor, but he rendered valuable service as examiner in Sanskrit, Bengali, Hindustani, and Persian. In 1801 appeared his essay on the Sanskrit and Prakrit languages, which shows how well he had qualified himself to act as professor of Sanskrit, and how well, in addition to the legal and sacred literature of the Brahmans, he had mastered the belles lettres of India also, which at first, as we saw, had rather repelled him by their extravagance and want of taste.

And here we have to take note of a fact which has never been mentioned in the history of the science of languageviz., that Colebrooke at that early time devoted considerable attention to the study of Comparative Philology. To judge from his papers, which have never been published, but which are still in the possession of Sir E. Colebrooke, the range of his comparisons was very wide, and embraced not only Sanskrit, Greek, and Latin with their derivatives, but also the Germanic and Slavonic languages.

The principal work, however, of this period of his life was his Sanskrit Grammar. Though it was never finished, it will always keep its place, like a classical torso, more admired in its unfinished state than other works which stand by its side, finished, yet less perfect. Sir E. Colebrooke has endeavoured to convey to the general reader some idea of the difficulties which had to be overcome by those who, for the first time, approached the study of the native grammarians, particularly of Pūnini. But this grammatical literature, the 3,996 grammatical sūtras or rules, which determine every possible form of the Sanskrit language in a manner unthought of by the grammarians of any other country, the glosses and commentaries, one piled upon the other, which are indispensable for a successful unravelling of Pānini's artful web, which start every objection, reasonable or unreasonable, that can be imagined, either against Pānini himself or against his interpreters, which establish general principles, register every exception, and defend all forms apparently anomalous of the ancient Vedic language ;-all this together is so completely sui generis, that those only who have themselves followed Colebrooke's footsteps can appreciate the boldness of the first adventurer, and the perseverance of the first explorer of that literary labyrinth.

Colebrooke's own Grammar of the Sanskrit language, founded on the works of native grammarians, has sometimes been accused of obscurity, nor can it be denied that for those who wish to acquire the elements of the language, it is almost useless. But those who know the materials which Colebrooke worked up in his grammar, will readily give him credit for what he has done in bringing the indigesta moles which he found before him into something like order. He made the first step, and a very considerable step it was, in translating the strange phraseology of Sanskrit grammarians into something at least intelligible to European scholars. How it could have been imagined that their extraordinary grammatical phraseology was borrowed by the Hindus from the Greeks, or that its formation was influenced by the grammatical schools established among the Greeks in Bactria, is difficult to understand, if one possesses but the slightest acquaintance with the character of either system, or with their respective historical developments. It would be far more accurate to say that the Indian and Greek systems of grammar represent two opposite poles, exhibiting the two starting-points from which alone the grammar of a language can be attacked-viz., the theoretical and the empirical. Greek grammar begins with philosophy, and forces language into the categories established by logic. Indian grammar begins with a mere collection of facts, systematises i hem mechanically, and thus leads in the end to a system which, though marvellous for its completeness and perfection, is nevertheless, from a higher point of view, a mere triumph of scholastic pedantry.

Colebrooke's grammar, even in its unfinished state, will always be the best introduction to a study of the native grammarians—a study indispensable to every sound Sanskrit scholar. In accuracy of statement it still holds the first place among European grammars, and it is only to be regretted that the references to Pānini and other grammatical authorities, which existed in Colebrooke's manuscript, should have been left out when it came to be printed. The modern school of Sanskrit students has entirely reverted to Colebrooke's views on the importance of a study of the native grammarians. It is no longer considered sufficient to know the correct forms of Sanskrit declension or conjugation: if challenged, we must be prepared to substantiate their correctness by giving chapter and verse from Pānini, the fountain-head of Indian grammar. If Sir E. Colebrooke says that · Bopp also drew deeply from • the fountain-head of Indian grammar in his subsequent • labours,' he has been misinformed. Bopp may have changed his opinion that the student might arrive at a critical know. ledge of Sanskrit by an attentive study of Foster and • Wilkins, without referring to native authorities;' but he himself never went beyond, nor is there any evidence in his published works that he ever worked his way through the intricacies of Pānini.

In addition to his grammatical studies, Colebrooke was engaged in several other subjects. He worked at the Supplement to the · Digest of Laws' which assumed very large proportions ; he devoted some of his time to the deciphering of ancient inscriptions, in the hope of finding some fixed points in the history of India ; he undertook to supply the Oriental synonymes for Roxburgh's · Flora Indica’-a most laborious task, requiring a knowledge of botany as well as an intimate acquaintance with Oriental languages. In 1804 and 1805, while preparing his classical essay on the Vedas for the press, we find him approaching the study of the religion of Buddha. In all these varied researches, it is most interesting to observe the difference between him and all the other contributors to the • Asiatic Researches’ at that time. They were all carried away by theories or enthusiasm; they were all betrayed into assertions or conjectures which proved unfounded. Colebrooke alone, the most hardworking and most comprehensive student, never allows one word to escape his pen for which he has not chapter and verse; and when he speaks of the treatises of Sir W. Jones, Wilford, and others, he readily admits that they contain curious matter, but as he expresses himself, ' very little • conviction. When speaking of his own work, as, for instance, what he had written on the Vedas, he writes: I • imagine my treatise on the Vedas will be thought curious : · but, like the rest of my publications, little interesting to the - general reader.'

In 1805 Colebrooke became President of the Court of Appeal—a high, and, as it would seem, lucrative post, which made him unwilling to aspire to any other appointment. His leisure, though more limited than before, was devoted, as formerly, to his favourite studies; and in 1807 he accepted the presidency of the Asiatic Society—a post never before or after filled so worthily. He not only contributed himself several articles to the Asiatic Researches,' published by the Society, viz., On the Sect of Jina, On the Indian and - Arabic Divisions of the Zodiack,' and 'On the Frankincense • of the Ancients; 'but he encouraged also many useful literary undertakings, and threw out, among other things, an idea which has but lately been carried out, viz., a Catalogue raisonné

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of all that is extant in Asiatic literature. His own studies became more and more concentrated on the most ancient literature of India, the Vedas, and the question of their real antiquity led him again to a more exhaustive examination of the astronomical literature of the Brahmans. In all these researches, which were necessarily of a somewhat conjectural character, Colebrooke was guided by his usual caution. Instead of attempting, for instance, a free and more or less divinatory translation of the hymns of the Rig Veda, he began with the tedious but inevitable work of exploring the native commentaries. No one who has not seen his MSS., now preserved at the India Office, and the marginal notes with which the folios of Sāyana's commentary are covered, can form any idea of the conscientiousness with which he collected the materials for his essay. He was by no means a blind follower of Sāyana, or a believer in the infallibility of traditional interpretation. The question on which so much useless ingenuity has since been expended, whether in translating the Veda we should be guided by native authorities or by the rules of critical scholarship, must have seemed to him, as to every sensible person, answered as soon as it was asked. He answered it by setting to work patiently, in order to find out, first, all that could be learnt from native scholars, and afterwards to form his own opinion. His experience as a practical man, his judicial frame of mind, his freedom from literary vanity, kept him, here as elsewhere, from falling into the pits of learned pedantry. It will seem almost incredible to later generations that German and English scholars should have wasted so much of their time in trying to prove, either that we should take no notice whatever of the traditional interpretation of the Veda, or that, in following it, we should entirely surrender our right of private judgment. Yet that is the controversy which has occupied of late years some of our best Sanskrit scholars, which has filled our journals with articles as full of learning as of acrimony, and has actually divided the students of the history of ancient religion into two hostile camps. Colebrooke knew that he had more useful work before him than to discuss the infallibility of fallible interpreters-a question handled with greater ingenuity by the Maimānsaka philosophers than by any living casuists. He wished to leave substantial work behind him; and though he claimed no freedom from error for himself, yet he felt conscious of having done all his work carefully and honestly, and was willing to leave it, such as it was, to the judgment of his contemporaries and of posterity. Once only during the whole


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