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of his life did he allow himself to be drawn into a literary controversy ; and here, too, he must have felt what most men feel in the end—that it would have been better if he had not engaged in it. The subject of the controversy was the antiquity and originality of Hindu astronomy.

Much had been written for and against it by various writers, but by most of them without a full command of the necessary evidence. Colebrooke himself maintained a doubtful attitude. He began, as usual, with a careful study of the sources at that time available, with translations of Sanskrit treatises, with astronomical calculations and verifications ; but, being unable to satisfy himself, he abstained from giving a definite opinion. Bentley, who had published a paper in which the antiquity and originality of Hindu astronomy were totally denied, was probably aware that Colebrooke was not convinced by his arguments. When, therefore, an adverse criticism of his views appeared in the first number of our Review, Bentley jumped at the conclusion that it was written or inspired by Colebroke. Hence arose his animosity which lasted for many years, and vented itself from time to time in virulent abuse of Colebrooke, whom Bentley accused not only of unintentional error, but of wilful misrepresentation and unfair suppression of the truth. Colebrooke ought to have known that in the republic of letters scholars are sometimes brought into strange society. Being what he was, he need notnay, he ought not-to have noticed such literary rowdyism. But as the point at issue was of deep interest to him, and as he himself had a much higher opinion of Bentley's real merits than his reviewer, he at last vouchsafed an answer in the • Asiatic Journal of March, 1826. With regard to Bentley's personalities, he says :--I never spoke nor wrote of Mr. * Bentley with disrespect, and I gave no provocation for the • tone of his attack on me.' As to the question itself, he sums up his position with simplicity and dignity. I have been no • favourer,' he writes, nor advocate of Indian astronomy. I

have endeavoured to lay before the public, in an intelligible ' form, the fruit of my researches concerning it. I have re. peatedly noticed its imperfections, and have been ready to admit that it has been no scanty borrower as to theory.'

Colebrooke's stay in India was a long one. He arrived there in 1782, when only seventeen years of age, and he left it in 1815, at the age of fifty. During all this time we see him uninterruptedly engaged in his official work, and devoting all his leisure to literary labour. The results which we have noticed so far, were already astonishing, and quite sufficient to



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form a solid basis of his literary fame. But we have by no means exhausted the roll of his works. We saw that a supplement to the Digest of Laws' occupied him for several years. In it he proposed to recast the whole title of inheritance, so imperfectly treated in the . Digest' which he translated, and supplement it with a series of compilations on the several heads of Criminal Law, Pleading, and Evidence, as treated by Indian jurists. In a letter to Sir T. Strange he speaks of the Sanskrit text as complete, and of the translation as considerably advanced; but it was not till 1810 that he published, as a first instalment, his translation of two important treatises on inheritance, representing the views of different schools on this subject. Much of the material which he collected with a view of improving the administration of law in India, and bringing it in harmony with the legal traditions of the country, remained unpublished, partly because his labours were anticipated by timely reforms, partly because his official duties became too onerous to allow him to finish his work in a manner satisfactory to himself.

But although the bent of Colebrooke's mind was originally scientific, and the philological researches which have conferred the greatest lustre on his name grew insensibly beneath his pen, the services he rendered to Indian jurisprudence would deserve the highest praise and gratitude if he had no other title to fame. Among his earlier studies he had applied himself to the Roman law with a zeal uncommon among Englishmen of his standing, and he has left behind him a treatise on the Roman Law of Contracts. When he directed the same powers of investigation to the sources of Indian law he found everything in confusion. The texts and glosses were various and confused.

The local customs which abound in India had not been discriminated. Printing was of course unknown to these texts; and as no supreme judicial intelligence and authority existed to give unity to the whole system, nothing could be more perplexing than the state of the law. From this chaos Colebrooke brought forth order and light. The publication of the Dhaya-bhaga, as the cardinal exposition of the law of inheritance, which is the basis of Hindu society, laid the foundation of no less a work than the revival of Hindu jurisprudence, which had been overlaid by the Mahomedan conquest. On this foundation a superstructure has now been raised by the combined efforts of Indian and English lawyers : but the authority which is to this day most frequently invoked as one of conclusive weight and learning is that of Colebrooke. By the collection and revision of the ancient texts which would


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probably have been lost without his intervention, he became in some degree the legislator of India.

In 1807 he had been promoted to a seat in Council—the highest honour to which a civilian, at the end of his career, could aspire. The five years' tenure of his office coincided very nearly with Lord Minto’s Governor-Generalship India. During these five years the scholar became more and more merged in the statesman. His marriage also took place at the same time, which was destined to be happy, but short. Two months after his wife's death he sailed for England, determined to devote the rest of his life to the studies which had become dear to him, and which, as he now felt himself, were to secure to him the honourable place of the father and founder of true Sanskrit scholarship in Europe. Though his earliest tastes still attracted him strongly towards physical science, and though, after his return to England, he devoted more time than in India to astronomical, botanical, chemical, and geological researches, yet, as an author, he remained true to his vocation as a Sanskrit scholar, and he added some of the most important works to the long list of his Oriental publications. How high an estimate he enjoyed among the students of physical science is best shown by his election as President of the Astronomical Society, after the death of Sir John Herschel in 1822. Some of his published contributions to the scientific journals, chiefly on geological subjects, are said to be highly speculative, which is certainly not the character of his Oriental works. Nay, judging from the tenour of the works which he devoted to scholarship, we should think that everything he wrote on other subjects would deserve the most careful and unprejudiced attention, before it was allowed to be forgotten; and we should be glad to see a complete edition of all his writings, which have a character at once so varied and so profound.

We have still to mention some of his more important Oriental publications, which he either began or finished after his return to England. The first is his · Algebra, with Arithmetic and Mensuration, from the Sanskrit of Brahmagupta and Bhāskara, preceded by a Dissertation on the State of the Sciences as known to the Hindus,' London, 1817. It is still the standard work on the subject, and likely to remain so, as an intimate knowledge of mathematics is but seldom combined with so complete a mastery of Sanskrit as Colebrooke possessed. He had been preceded by the labours of Burrow and E. Strachey ; but it is entirely due to him that mathematicians are now enabled to form a clear idea of the progress


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which the Indians had made in this branch of knowledge, especially as regards indeterminate analysis. It became henceforth firmly established that the ' Arabian Algebra had real ' points of resemblance to that of the Indians, and not to that • of the Greeks; that the Diophantine analysis was only slightly * cultivated by the Arabs ; and that, finally, the Indian was ' more scientific and profound than either. Some of the links in his argument, which Colebrooke himself designated as weak, have since been subjected to renewed criticism; but it is interesting to observe how here, too, hardly anything really new has been added by subsequent scholars. The questions of the antiquity of Hindu mathematics—of its indigenous or foreign origin, as well as the dates to be assigned to the principal Sanskrit writers, such as Bhāskara, Brahmagupta, Aryabhatta, &c.—are very much in the same state as he left them. And although some living scholars have tried to follow in his footsteps, as far as learning is concerned, they have never approached him in those qualities which are more essential to the discovery of truth than mere reading, viz., caution, fairness, and modesty.

Two events remain still to be noticed before we close the narrative of the quiet and useful years which Colebrooke spent in England. In 1818 he presented his extremely valuable collection of Sanskrit MSS. to the East India Company, and thus founded a treasury from which every student of Sanskrit has since drawn his best supplies. It may be truly said, that without the free access to this collection-granted to every scholar, English or foreign-few of the really important publications of Sanskrit texts, which have appeared during the last fifty years, would have been possible; so that in this sense also, Colebrooke deserves the title of the founder of Sanskrit scholarship in Europe.

The last service which he rendered to Oriental literature was the foundation of the Royal Asiatic Society. He had spent a year at the Cape of Good Hope, in order to superintend some landed property which he had acquired there; and after his return to London, in 1822, he succeeded in creating a society which should do in England the work which the Asiatic Society of Bengal, founded in 1784 at Calcutta by Sir W. Jones, had done in India. Though he declined to become the first president, he became the director of the new society. His object was not only to stimulate Oriental scholars living in England to greater exertions, but likewise to excite in the English public a more general interest in Oriental studies. There was at that time far more interest shown in France and Germany for the literature of the East than in England, though England


alone possessed an Eastern Empire. Thus we find Colebrooke writing in one of his letters to Professor Wilson :

Schlegel, in what he said of some of us (English Orientalists) and of our labours, did not purpose to be uncandid, nor to undervalue what has been done. In your summary of what he said you set it to the right account. I am not personally acquainted with him, though

I in correspondence. I do think, with him, that as much has not been done by the English as might have been expected from us. Excepting you and me, and two or three more, who is there that has done anything! In England nobody cares about Oriental literature, or is likely to give the least attention to it.'

And again :

'I rejoice to learn that your great work on the Indian drama may be soon expected by us. I anticipate much gratification from the perusal. Careless and indifferent as our countrymen are, I think, nevertheless, you and I may derive some complacent feelings from the reflection that, following the footsteps of Sir W. Jones, we have, with so little aid of collaborators, and so little encouragement, opened nearly every avenue, and left it to foreigners, who are taking up the clue we have furnished, to complete the outline of what we have sketched. It is some gratification to national pride that the opportunity which the English have enjoyed has not been wholly unemployed.'

Colebrooke's last contributions to Oriental learning, which appeared in the Transactions' of the newly-founded Royal Asiatic Society, consist chiefly in his masterly treatises on Hindu Philosophy. In 1823 he read his paper on the Sankhya system; in 1824 his paper on the Nyāya and Vaiseshika systems; in 1826 his papers on the Mimānsā; and, in 1827, his two papers on Indian Sectaries and on the Vedānta. These papers, too, still retain their value, unimpaired by later researches. They are dry, and to those not acquainted with the subject they may fail to give a living picture of the philosophical struggles of the Indian mind. But the statements which they contain may, with very few exceptions, still be quoted as authoritative, while those who have worked their way through the same materials which he used for the compilation of his essays, feel most struck by the conciseness with which he was able to give the results of his extensive reading in this, the most abstruse domain of Sanskrit literature. The publication of these papers on the schools of Indian metaphysics, which anticipated with entire fidelity the materialism and idealism of Greece and of modern thought, enabled Victor Cousin to introduce a brilliant survey of the philosophy of India into his Lectures on the History of Philosophy, first delivered, we think, in 1828. Cousin knew and thought of Colebrooke exclusively as a metaphysician.

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