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The Life of John Wilson
Chapter XV. Literary Activity—The Rock-cut Temples


1848-1862
LITERARY ACTIVITY—THE ROCK-CUT TEMPLES

A Missionary-Scholar’s Wife—The Rock-cut Temples and Monasteries—Early attempts at an Archaeological Survey of India—Dr. Wilson’s two Memoirs on the subject—President of the Cave-Temple Commission—Lord Canning’s Minute—Necessity of a Corpus Inscriptionum—Colonel Meadows Taylor and Sir Walter Elliot — The first Railway Train — The Peninsular and Oriental Steamers — Declines to be Oriental Translator to Government — “Only a Missionary”—Writes History of Infanticide — New Edition of Marathee Dictionary — Researches into Caste — Most Popular Book on Ancient India—Lectures.

Dr. and Mrs. Wilson had, on their return to India, just completed the reorganisation of the Mission in its college and schools, and on its female side at the beginning of 1848, when both threw themselves into the allied work of oriental research. To a correspondent he wrote in May 1849 :—“Mrs. Wilson has enjoyed remarkably good health in India. She has now made great progress in the Marathee language. She has a wide field for usefulness here, as we have upwards of five hundred girls in our native female schools. She is busy translating a paper on the Puranas from the French of Burnouf, which appeared in the Oriental Christian Spectator.” This extract from one of Mrs. Wilson’s letters further illustrates the duties of a true missionary’s wife:—“My labours in the way of teaching are increasing, and I find I require to spend about four hours each day with the girls, that is from twelve to four o’clock, besides previously preparing their work; in addition to which we have the morning Marathee service for reading and examination of old and young, about ten, and at eleven my moonshee comes for an hour to teach me Hindostanee. I find it easier than Marathee, but I must not expect to get on rapidly, as I have scarcely a moment for private study. I have a class who are learning English, composed of some of our female teachers and some of our day-scholars. I have also the girls of a superior class of natives, who come to me for instruction in sewing and English, and we read the Scriptures in Marathee, and they learn the gospel catechism. They are knitting little boots for their baby brothers, and are much pleased with some pieces of canvas work they have accomplished, of simple patterns. Some of the girls in my school are now very good sewers, and can knit stockings nicely.” .

To the same correspondent Dr. Wilson announced—“I have just drawn up, what I suppose will ere long be printed, A Memoir on the Car e-Temples and Monasteries, and other Buddhist, Brahmanical, and Jaina Remains of Western India. This document I have prepared in connection with the Asiatic Society and the Government.” This introduces us to what proved to be intellectually the most fruitful period of his career, from 1848 to 1862. “During my professional jour-neyings throughout this great country,” he wrote in the last published words from his pen, “I have often been brought in contact with its more remarkable antiquarian wonders, which, in a considerable number of instances, I have been among the first to observe and describe, though sometimes with unsatisfied curiosity as well as with qualified information.” This is a modest statement, not less of what he was the first to do than of the service which he rendered to Government and the public by collecting all the available facts on the subject in 1848, and by showing the way to such a scientific and complete survey as that which, ever since the Mutiny operations ceased, has been going on.

Such marvels as the fifty large groups of rock-cut temples, monasteries, and cisterns, excavated in the Western Ghauts by Buddhists, Brahmans, and Jains, successively, during the fifteen centuries from Asoka to the inscription of Elora in A.D. 1234, had excited the wonder and the speculations of later Hindoos, the superstitious Portuguese, and the early English travellers. The people saw in them the work of their mythical heroes, the Pandavas; while the Brahmans pronounced the dhagob, or relic-receptacle of their Buddhist foes, to be the filthy linga, and the cenobite’s rocky chamber . to be the abode of the outcast Dlied. The Portuguese historian De Couto magnified the hundred cells and passages of the hill of Kanha in Salsette into thousands of caverns, reaching as far as the mainland at Cambay, through which a priest led an expedition for seven days without reaching the end! Faber, once thought learned, romanced over the trimurti of Elephanta as the cavern of Noah, his three sons and allegorical consort, reasoning that five heads are equal to three because two could be imagined. Mr. Henry Salt, the Lichfield artist who accompanied Lord Valentia in his travels, and was sent as an envoy to the ruler of Abyssinia, was the first to describe the Salsette excavations fairly in 1806. But it was not till Erskine, the “ philosophic ” son-in-law of Sir James Mackintosh, wrote his Account of the Ccwe-Temple of Elephanta in 1813, that justice was done to the subject, although Niebuhr had preceded him and had reproached the English for neglecting works far greater than the Pyramids. The Danish traveller pronounced the investigation of such antiquities an undertaking worthy of the patronage of a prince or a nation. The journals of his tours show how early, and how almost year by year, Dr. Wilson devoted his little leisure to the scholarly study not only of the caves but of the inscriptions which give them a historical as well as architectural value. Nor was he alone in this. Commercial enterprise had early sent to Bengal the Ayrshire youth, James Fergusson, who, after a training in the Edinburgh High School, and ten years’ experience of enterprise and travel among the people of India, published his Illustrations of the Rock-Cut Temples in 1845, and has ever since been the principal authority on this and allied subjects.

When in London, where his knowledge of the character of the cave and other alphabets enabled him to decipher certain papers in a concealed Indian hand, which were essential to adjusting a decision passed by the Admiralty Court at the Cape, and which had long lain uninterpreted, Dr. Wilson had pressed his old project of a Corpus Inscriptionum in connection with a systematic study of the excavations. Mr. Fergusson was not less zealous, and he was able to be more persistent. The result seems to have been that the Royal Asiatic Society in 1844 moved the Court of Directors to order preliminary arrangements to be made for conducting antiquarian researches in India, as the phraseology went. In 1847 the Court finally approved of the detailed suggestions—“for examining, delineating, and recording some of the chief antiquities”—sent home by Lord Hardinge, the Governor-General. In the rest of India very little was done in those days of Sikh wars, beyond the publication of some papers by Majors Kittoe and Cunningham, and the enriching of the old India House in Leadenhall Street with some antiquities and drawings. But in Western and Central India Dr. Wilson was ready. The Bombay Government called the local Asiatic Society to its aid. On the 15th April 1848 it recommended that “ authentic information as to the number and situation of all the monuments and cave-temples of antiquity in the territories should be obtained;” it sketched a plan of operations and urged immediate action. What became known as the Cave-Temple Commission for the next ten years was accordingly appointed by Government, consisting of Dr. Wilson, president; Dr. Stevenson; Mr. C. J. Erskine, of the Civil Service; Captain Lynch, of the Indian Navy; Mr. Harkness, of the Elphinstone College; Yenaik Gungaclhur Shastree; and Dr. Carter, secretary of the Society. Acting throughout with the authorities, and reporting also to the Society, they engaged Mr. Fallon as artist; Lieutenant Brett to copy inscriptions, and, at a later period, Captain Briggs to take photographs; and Vishnoo Shastree, the pundit of scholars like Mr. Law and Mr. Wathen, of the Supreme Court translator Mr. Murphy, and of Dr. Wilson himself, to aid in the translation of the inscriptions. This pioneering work was arrested by the Mutiny, and soon after a new race of critics, in ignorance of the past, anonymously attacked the Commission, or rather its native assistant, the Shastree. In the ten years of its active existence, its whole expenditure did not much exceed £2350, represented by the paintings, measurements, casts, clearing out of caves, transcripts, and translations. For thirteen years the Commission, and Dr. Wilson above all his colleagues, gave the work their gratuitous and zealous labours ; and not only they, but coadjutors like Sir Bartle Frere, Sir Walter Elliot of Madras, Colonel Meadows Taylor, Mr. Orlebar, and Dr. West, C.E. But to Dr. Wilson alone is it due that the enlightened orders of Lord Hardinge and the Directors bore fruit at all. In truth, from the first, in north-eastern and southern, as well as in western India, a scholar like the honorary president of the Asiatic Society, or an architectural authority like Mr. Fergusson, should have been set apart for the sole duty, with a staff of skilled assistants, instead of a beggarly expenditure at the rate of £200 a year.

Hence it became necessary, the moment the state of the country after 1857 allowed of action, to renew the enterprise, taught by the experience of the past. When, towards the end of 1861, engaged at Allahabad in completing his reorganisation of the North-Western government, Lord Canning resolved to appoint Colonel A. Cunningham Director of the Archaeological Survey of India. From the young Duke of Wellington’s time, at the beginning of the century, the East India Company had liberally carried out trigonometrical as well as topographical and revenue surveys of the peninsula. On the basis of this, now approaching completion, Lord Dalhousie had created a Geological Survey in 1856. And Lord Canning added to the good work by thus rescuing for all time the fast perishing memorials which form the only history of India before the time of our own battle of Hastings, outside of the vague hints of philology and of a literature that defies historical criticism. The Archaeological Survey has since been extended to Bombay, where it is following up the investigations of Dr. Wilson and Mr. Fergusson on a uniform scale, and with the best results.

Dr. Wilson’s Memoir on the Cave-Temples and Monasteries, forming some seventy pages of Volume III. of the Journal of the Bombay Asiatic Society, was circulated by the Government to all the district and political officers in and around the province, including great States like the Nizam’s country. These were directed to afford the Commission all the information and assistance in their power in the prosecution of researches. The result was the publication by Dr. Wilson of a second Memoir in 1852, recording the new discoveries, for which Government had offered pecuniary rewards also, and embodying the results of the Commission’s work on the larger caves like Elephanta. The Memoir had set many observers to work, with results of the most striking interest, such as those reported by Colonel Meadows Taylor from the Nizam’s principality of Shorapoor, and by Sir Walter Elliot from Southern India.

Henceforth, year after year, no new Governor-General, Governor, or Member of Council, landed at Bombay, and no traveller from Europe or America passed through it, 'without seeking the guidance of Dr. Wilson on a visit to one of the neighbouring groups of excavations. In velvet skull-cap and with long wand, the enthusiastic scholar, with the air of an old knight, would lead his friends through the caves, pouring forth his stores of knowledge with unflagging courtesy, and charming all by the rare combination of goodness and grace, historical and oriental lore, poetic quotation and scientific references, genial remark and childlike humour, till visitors, like the accomplished Lady Canning, declared they had never met such a man. Nor would he allow his guests—for he too often provided the luncheon—to go unprepared by study. He had written a lecture on the subject for the Bombay public, to whom, at the request of the Mechanics’ Institute, he delivered it in the Town Hall. By the year 1864, when the present writer for the first time visited Bombay, the manuscript was well worn, and he solicited permission to publish it in the Calcutta Eevieiv. All were expected, and, as a rule were glad, to master the contents of this popular treatise, of which it was Dr. Wilson’s last literary. work to prepare a somewhat enlarged edition for the use of the Prince of Wales.

Very different from the debased art of the Brahmanical caves of Elephanta are the excavations at Karla, on the crest of the Western Ghauts, a few miles from Khandalla, near the head of the Bhore Ghaut, where Dr. Wilson heard Sir John Malcolm boast that he had made the first road, and saw not very many years after the magnificent works by which the present railway has ascended the heights on its way to Madras. Standing there, looking down on rich Bombay and round on the plains which stretch away to the Dekhan till they dip into the Bay of Bengal, the traveller, as he recalls the glories of Asoka’s reign, feels that in these two thousand years Brahmanism and Muhammadanism have together denied to Southern Asia the splendour and the happiness which Buddhism then vainly promised, and Christianity now renders possible.

TO MR. BUCHAN OF KELLOE.

“Bombay, 12th September 1853.—During the past year the railway system has been introduced into India. It is certainly calculated to promote the interests of civilisation, but its desecration of the Sabbath is a sad drawback. We are anxious about the improvement of the steam navigation to Bombay, as various disasters have occurred in consequence of bad arrangements, and this monsoon a whole mail was lost on board a pilgrim ship, which went down with the loss of 186 souls. We have had a public meeting on the subject called by the Sheriff, and from the humane aspect of the snbject I felt constrained to yield to the request of our merchants that I should take a part in the proceedings. We petition the Lords of the Treasury and the Directors of the East India Company.”

Apart from the humane aspect of the question Dr. Wilson was in his right place as a leader in such a meeting, and no similar assembly for discussing questions involving the moral and material good of the people of India or the prosperity of Bombay was held without him. It was in 1773 that a Mr. Holford had navigated the first English ship successfully from its harbour up the Red Sea to Suez. Niebuhr then wrote, “ The passage has been found so short and convenient that the regency of Bombay now send their couriers by the way of Suez to England.” Not till 1830 did Lord William Bentinck succeed in despatching the small Government steamer, the “Hugh Lindsay,” from Bombay to Suez, after the failure of rewards to quicken the Cape voyage and open up the Euphrates route. But even that spent a month during March and April on a voyage which is now done regularly in twelve days, and will soon be accomplished in nine or ten.1 In 1843 the Peninsular and Oriental Company ran its first steamer from Suez to Calcutta. The development of railway communication in India was more rapid, thanks to Lord Dalhousie, who had been paramount at the Board of Trade during the mania of 1848. What Lord Ellenborough had pronounced “moonshine” in 1843, when Sir M. Stephenson in eastern, Mr. Chapman in western, and Mr. Andrew in north-western India projected the railways which now pay from five to nine per cent, and are revolutionising native society and commerce, became an accomplished fact on the 16th April 1853. Then the first section completed in Asia was opened under a royal salute and the strains of the National Anthem, and the first train ran from Bombay island on to the mainland to Tanna, a distance of twenty-one miles. The twenty-one have now become nearly eight thousand.

The “Kaisar-i-Hind” steamer made the passage in nine days twelve hours with the Bombay mail of 16th December 1878, which reached London in sixteen days twelve hours on the 2d January 1879.

Soon after his return from Great Britain the Bombay Government expressed its anxiety to secure the services of Dr. Wilson as President of the Committee for the examination of civilians and officers in the native languages, vernacular and classical. The request recognised the missionary as the first scholar in Western India, and as better fitted than any of the members of the services, civil or military, for the responsible duty of controlling examinations by which, long before those of the Civil Service Commissioners in this country, promotion and patronage in India had been wisely regulated. "Such an influential position might have been of use to him in various ways,” Mrs. Wilson wrote to a friend in 1849, “and the services required would not have been for more than ten or twelve days in a year. However, he has declined, as he wishes to be quite free to give all his time and strength to missionary operations.” In 1855 the proposal was received in a different, and to him unobjectionable, because temporary form.

Associated with Major G. Pope and Mr. Harkness, Principal of the Government College, he gave himself to the work of inquiry with characteristic thoroughness before reporting on the Civil and Military Examination Committee. The constitution of the similar Examining Boards in Madras and Calcutta—the latter created by Lord Wellesley, and consisting of Dr. Sprenger, the first Arabic scholar and biographer of Muhammad ; Dr. K. M. Bannerjea, Dr. Duff’s first convert; and Colonel K Lees—was carefully studied in the light of his experience of the Bombay languages, people, and officials. The result was a report, submitted on the 15th August 1856, which has since regulated the professional examinations of Western India in the Oriental languages and literatures. The document, which called forth an expression of the thanks of Government, contains not only much information regarding such examinations, but a scheme for checking an arbitrary judgment on the part of examiners, which we commend to the Civil Service Commissioners, as sorely needed in the India competitions at least.

Meanwhile, the Government of 1849 having failed to induce Dr. Wilson to act as official and permanent president of this Examination Committee, the Government of 1854 had thus tried, most honourably, to attract to the public service what would have been the leisure time of most other men. The great Carey had long held a similar office, first as Professor in Lord Wellesley’s College of Fort-William, and then as translator and examiner, while the same translatorship is to this hour worthily filled by a Baptist minister, the son of one of his colleagues. Connected with no society, early thrown upon their own resources for the spread of Christianity in Bengal, Carey, Marshman, Ward, and Mr. J. C. Marshman, C.S.I., contributed some £60,000 of their own earnings during half a century for missionary purposes, maintaining at one time so many as twenty-six agents besides themselves. In the case of the Scottish Churches the circumstances are very different, but the temptations held out to the] ablest missionaries by the various departments of Government are not less specious and attractive. The Private Secretary thus addressed Dr. Wilson, whose reply may be imagined from his letter to Dr. Tweedie :—

“Parell, March 11, 1854.

“My dear Sir—I am desired by tbe Governor to acquaint you of his intention, should it be acceptable to you, of appointing you Oriental Translator to Government. The appointment lias been created on the occasion of doing away with the Deputy Secretaryship in the Persian Department.”

TO DR. TWEEDIE.

“14th April 1854.—We have lately had favourable accounts from Abyssinia. Our native converts consider the agency there as primarily their mission, contributing to its support to their utmost ability, though it is principally, from their lack of adequate means, dependent on other resources. Their duty of contributing to the spread of the Gospel is amply recognised by them, though most of them are in some capacity or other themselves missionary agents. We are anxious to have an industrial establishment instituted for the converts and catechumens in Bombay, as a counteractive of the combinations and excommunications of caste. A regular source of legitimate missionary revenue in the case of all our Institutions, we see in the encouragement of the natives in general to contribute, partially at least, to the education of their children. In this way we have, from the commencement of our Institution here, got a small sum annually from this source, which we have applied discretionally for its benefit from time to time, especially in providing prizes and school equipments. But something, I am persuaded, of a more systematic nature may easily be accomplished, and that without injury to the distinctly evangelistic feature of our operations. Self-expansion is a desideratum in every Christian institution.

“In connection with what I have now stated to you, I ought perhaps to mention that our new Governor, Lord Elphinstone, within the last few weeks made the offer to me of the superintendence of the work of Government Oriental Translation, which would occupy only a definite portion of my time, without interfering substantially with my missionary engagements, and at the same time secure a remuneration by which I could support a couple of additional missionaries, or enable me to contribute directly to the missionary cause the equivalent of the average annual income of our Auxiliary Society, which receives from us much care, and makes a considerable demand on our time for correspondence with Christian friends in various parts of the country. Without consulting any friend, I at once declined the proposal, with grateful acknowledgment of the kindnesses in which I know it originated. I did this because I believe that it is not the duty of any minister of the Gospel to assume any secular engagement, however productive to the cause of Christ in a pecuniary point of view, while the Christian Church is willing to give him fair support in devoting himself wholly to the ministry of the Word and prayer, and to efforts subordinate and auxiliary to this ministry; and because I am of opinion that all our exertions in stirring up our brethren to contribute to the missionary cause, even when we could by a partial secularisation of ourselves, maintain or extend the operations already in existence, are themselves of a spiritual character—the calling upon Christian men to discharge a Christian duty. On my mentioning this to Mr. Moles worth—the author of our admirable Marathee Dictionary, one of the most devoted Christians in India, and whose views of Church order generally agree with those of the brethren at Plymouth—he at once said, ‘ You have done quite right; no amount of pecuniary compensation can be put in the scale with the entirety of your missionary service.’ I think we would be unanimous in our mission in a cause of this kind. For the extension of the missionary enterprise both at home and abroad we must trust to the promises, and providence, and Spirit of God. Though respected brethren in all the Churches may tell us that they ‘ see a limit ’ to their benevolent gifts or the spread of the blessed Gospel, we must, like Nelson, turn our blind eye to this signal of intermission, and act as if it were never made. The more our souls sympathise with the risen and exalted Saviour, who now travails in ceaseless intercession for the accomplishment of the number of His elect and the establishment of His kingdom, the more readily shall we write Holiness to the Lord on all our possessions and acquirements. You will see from our report that last year we raised Rs. 7542 for our Bombay Mission. When the contributions for Poona and Satara are added, we perceive that we have had here a missionary income of £1200, exclusive of £400 raised for the purposes of the Free Church congregation to which we minister during the vacancy. Even this liberality may be much increased. It is the principal source of the support of our educational establishments. The permission which you give us, in your last most acceptable letter, of proceeding with the ordination of Mr. Narayan, will be acted upon as soon as possible. What our hopes are in connection with his ministry you well know. ”

When alluding to the offer of this appointment in a letter to Miss Douglas, Dr. Wilson wrote, “I declined acceptance, as I wish to be, what I have been since the beginning, only a missionary.” Next to his ministrations to the spiritual needs of the people of India, his philanthropic interest in the efforts of the Government to save their bodies came hardly second. From the discovery of the practice of the murder of their female children by the proud and poor Rajkoomars of Benares by Jonathan Duncan in 1789, and the same Governor’s attempts to put down the crime in Kathiawar, to which the Greek and Latin writers on India had drawn his attention as prevalent then ai Barygaza or Broach, Dr. Wilson had joyously chronicled the facts down to the successful efforts of his early friend Colonel Walker. These had been more recently followed by the measures wisely devised by Sir J. P. Willoughby, Colonels Lang and Le Grand Jacob, and Mr. Malet and other officers, whose humane administration Dr. Wilson was in the habit of illustrating in lectures to the natives and in the press as “gratifying records of British benevolence.” . Thus he created a healthy native opinion on the crime, and stimulated Government to renewed vigilance, while he did justice to some of the most solid triumphs in the history of philanthropy in the East. On the 27th April 1857 he officially addressed Sir J. P. Willoughby. The result was, as he wrote to Dr. Tweedie, that Lord Elphinstone’s Government submitted to impartial Christian review “ the whole proceedings from first to last in connection with the great philanthropic, political, and judicial efforts for the suppression of the awful crime of infant murder.” The Court of Directors warmly encouraged the undertaking, at a time when the question of what proved to be the last renewal of their Charter—that of 1853—was about to come before Parliament, and works like Sir John Kaye’s history of its administration were being prepared in its defence. It was well that the Company enjoyed, on this side at least, the aid of one whose advocacy was all the more effectual that it was purely disinterested and non-political.

The History of the Suppression of Infanticide in Western India under the Government of Bombay, including notices of the Provinces and Tribes in which the Practice has prevailed, was published early in 1855, and obtained a wide circulation. When, in 1870, the outbreak of the crime in Northern India led Sir William Muir to prepare, and the Government of India to pass, Act VIII. of that year, and the census of 1871 supplied new facts, Dr. Wilson was invited by the Bombay Government to review the state of the districts to which the preventive legislation was to be applied. A few months before his death he accordingly wrote a preface to Mr. H. B. Cooke’s report. In Kathiawar, it was proved, the crime had ceased as a custom of the Jadejas, the proud descendants of the Yadavas of the Mahabharat epic. But the number of girls unbetrothed and unmarried was increasing, because no Rajpoot tribe in India will take a wife from its own proper or paternal clan, and the

Jadejas were unpopular because of occasional intermarriage with Muhammadans. To the advance of an education and a civilisation which recognise the place of unmarried females in well-being and well-doing in the general community, Dr. Wilson looked for a permanent remedy while suggesting local ameliorations. But the only immediate check on the crime must be based on a general registration of births and deaths, such as the coming decennial census of 1881 should make a preliminary attempt to render possible amid so vast and varied and suspicious a population. Sir H. L. Anderson, when secretary to the Bombay Government, expressed to Dr. Wilson the congratulation of the Governor in Council on “the very able and successful” manner in which he had turned to account his access to the records connected with infanticide.

In 1848 Dr. Wilson had been consulted by the Government as to the publication of a revised edition of the Marathee and English dictionary compiled by Mr. Molesworth and George and Thomas Candy twenty years before. In Marathee as in Bengalee, and to a less degree in the other vernaculars of India, the influence of a detailed knowledge of the people, English administration and education, and the progress of scholarship in the classical tongues from which the popular dialects are fed, had developed the vocabularies, and somewhat revealed or modified the grammatical expression of these vernaculars. Dr. Wilson replied that Mr. Molesworth’s “unequalled attainments in the Marathee language, his experience in lexicography, and his acquaintance already with some thousands of unrecorded words,” pointed him out as best qualified for the undertaking. In truth Dr. Wilson had, in his tours and his intercourse with the peasantry as well as the learned Brahmans of Maharashtra, himself made extensive collections of words new to printed literature, which he had freely communicated to Mr. Molesworth. The result was the appearance in 1857 of the massive quarto which forms the second edition of a work pronounced to stand in the very first rank of dictionaries. Dr. Wilson was the more anxious to see Marathee thus satisfactorily placed among the few languages of men of which a satisfactory lexicon has been made, that the wants of Government and the public in connection with Goojaratee might be supplied. This was done by the Parsee convert Shapoorjee Eduljee eleven years afterwards, in an octavo volume of some nine hundred pages. But it should not be forgotten that in Marathee, as in forty of the languages of our Indian subjects and Chinese neighbours, Carey had first provided a dictionary in 1810, as well as a grammar and translation of the Scriptures. Besides his indirect contribution to the Marathee Dictionary of nearly a thousand quarto pages, Dr. Wilson prefaced it with what even the Germans would pronounce a model monograph, under the title of “ Notes on the Constituent Elements, the Diffusion and the Application of the Marathee Language.” A wealth of learning and information is scattered over the text and notes, while the summary with illustrative extracts of the four periods of Marathee literature is delightfully readable. He passes in review the early poetry, associating the popular gods of Western India -with a modified pantheism, which preceded the rise of Sivajee ; the brilliant era of Tukaram to the rise of the Peshwas ; the strains of the priestly Moropant and the beginnings of prose chronicles under the Peshwas ; and finally the British period, which began in 1818. As the Serampore missionaries created a Bengalee language and literature, in the literary sense, so religion and philanthropy were the moving powers in generating and extending what may be denominated the reformed authorship of Maharashtra, from Mountstuart Elphinstone to his nephew Lord Elphinstone, and the present day. “Its most valuable monument ” Dr. Wilson declared to be “the translation of the whole of the Bible, by several hands, into the language of the people.” The Notes thus conclude —“The reformed Marathee literature, and the introduction of typography and lithography into the West of India, have brought about a reaction in the native mind. There has been a reproduction of the olden literature. This result will not ultimately prove injurious to the cause of truth. It has furnished the means of comparison and judgment; and it will only enhance the victory when, by a higher influence than that of man, it is eventually secured.”

For some time Dr. Wilson had contemplated a new work on Muhammadanism, to take the place of his early Refutation ; but he seems to have been soon drawn entirely to an attempt to grapple with the only enemy he had not yet directly attacked in the press. At every turn, as a missionary, a scholar, and a man, in closer social intercourse with the natives than any other foreigner, he was met by Caste. He had early set himself to the mastery of its origin and the secret of its power, and he had in his multifarious reading of the Hindoo literature noted the passages on the subject, from the Uig-Vetla to the latest Poorana. He contemplated the early publication of an elaborate work on the subject, and in 1857 he was able to put to press the first volume. But his missionary work was too exacting, and his own ideal of an exhaustive treatment of the question on which Hindooism hangs in the last resort, was too high to permit him to yield to the solicitations of his friends not to delay. The prospect of the taking of the first census of the people of India, finally accomplished only in 1871-2, was a further reason, to his mind, for toiling at a work, for the perfecting of which he maintained a large correspondence with learned Brahmans for many years, from the venerable Kada Kishn, ltunjeet Singh’s pundit at Lahore, to the Namboories of Travancore. The result was that in publication he was anticipated by other scholars, notably by Mr. John Muir, D.C.L., in the invaluable Sanskrit Texts, and death left his work a splendid fragment. The first volume, virtually prepared and printed at this period, is a careful review of the origin and development of Caste as seen in Sanskrit, Buddhist, and Greek literature. The second volume, which begins a description of the castes as they are, does not proceed further than the most important of them all, the Bralimanical. The criticism of the book by so competent a writer as Mr. Khys Davids may be accepted — “ The thoroughness of the work he has done gives rise to the regret that he should have been unable to complete the inquiry.” What contemporary as well as subsequent criticism, however, has recognised as the ablest of all the publications that Dr. Wilson threw off as mere bye-works almost every year, is his India Three Thousand Years Ago, or the social state of the Aryas on the banks of the Indus in the times of the Yedas, which appeared in 1858. Mr. Max Muller’s Chips was then unknown, and his History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature was only promised in the preface to his edition of the liig-Veda. To the English reading public, both in India and elsewhere, this popular treatise of some ninety pages was the first revelation of what has long since become commonplace. It was written with a grace as well as a power which so charmed all, that the most competent critic, in the Friend of India of that day, thus took the author to task—“We wish some of the thousand friends of Dr. Wilson would compel him to do the public and himself a little justice. With a pen of unequalled clearness and learning, of which few are competent to measure the extent, he persists in wasting his strength on erudite little essays. . . . The world is craving for a painting with the details all filled in and bright with life and colour. It is Dr. Wilson’s duty to supply the want, and he has no more right to leave the work to inferior artists than Titian to sell studies as finished productions.” But Dr. Wilson was so much the Christian philanthropist that even his learning is saturated with his love for man in the highest sense, as expressed sometimes after a curious fashion. This is a note to this very treatise—“ The MS. copy of the liig-Veda, in my possession for many years, and which I originally acquired for J. S. Law, Esq., of the Bombay Civil Service, is a Christian trophy surrendered by a Brahman convert to Christianity, baptized at Bankote by the Bev. James Mitchell.” Dr. Wilson would never have written his best book but for the public good. He prepared the nucleus of it as one of a course of lectures to the Bombay Mechanics’ Institute, projected under “ the considerate and vigorous government ” of Lord Elphinstone. Other public lectures which belong to this period, but have not yet seen the light in a complete form, are those on the “Progress of Oriental Research in connection with Religious Inquiry,” and on “The Six Schools of Indian Philosophy,” delivered at the request of the Bombay Dialectic Association.


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