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The Scottish Nation

GILCHRIST, a surname derived from two Gaelic words, Gille and Criosd, meaning the servant of Christ.

GILCHRIST, EBENEZER, a physician of considerable eminence, was born at Dumfries in 1707. He began the study of medicine at Edinburgh, and completed it at London and Paris. Having obtained the degree of M.D. from the university of Rheims, he returned, in 1732, to his native town, where he continued to practise till his death, which took place in 1774. – His works are:

      On the use of Sea Voyages, in Medicine. Lond. 1756, 8vo. New edition in 1771. The chief object of this small work is to recommend sea voyages in cases of consumption.

      A dissertation on Nervous Fevers. Edin. Medical Essays, iv. P. 347. It recommends a liberal use of opium in such cases. Continuation of the same subject. Ib. v. p. 505.

      Answer to an objection against Inoculation. Ess. Phys. Et Lit. ii. P. 396.

      Account of a very infectious distemper prevailing in many places. 1765. Ib. iii. P. 164. Sibbens.

      Observations on the Catarrhal Epidemic of 1692. Ib. 409.

      Ov the Urinary Bladder thickened. Ib. p. 471.

GILCHRIST, JOHN BORTHWICK, LL.D., an eminent orientalist, was born at Edinburgh in 1759. He was educated in George Heriot’s Hospital, to which excellent institution he bequeathed a handsome donation. Having studies for the medical profession, he went early to Calcutta as assistant-surgeon in the Hon. East India Company’s service. Perceiving the importance of the Hindostanee in conducting business with the natives, he devoted himself with unremitting ardour and industry to the acquirement of that language, and in an Indian garb travelled through those parts of Hindostan where it is spoken in the greatest purity. Nor did he confine his studies to the Hindoostanee tongue alone. He acquired the Sanscrit, the Persian, and others, and was one of the first Europeans who excited an interest in the languages of India far exceeding what had previously been considered necessary for mere official purposes, or for the government of our vast possessions in the East. In 1787 he published at Calcutta an English and Hindostanic Dictionary, in two parts, which soon became the standard work on the subject, not only in India but at home. This was followed by various other introtudtory works on the languages of Hindostan and Persia.

      When the college of Fort-William in Bengal was founded, in 1800, by the Marquis Wellesley, Dr. Gilchrist was created professor of the Hindoostanee and Persian languages, being the first that had been appointed in India. About the end of 1803, or beginning of 1804, he was compelled from ill health to resign his situation in the college at Fort-William, when he received from the governor-general in council a public letter to the court of directors at home, dated February 29, 1804, recommending him “to the favour and protection of that honourable court, as a proper object of the liberal spirit which the court had always manifested in promoting the study of the oriental languages.” In addition to this, the Marquis Wellesley furnished him with the following highly honourable and flattering letter of introduction to Mr. Addington, afterwards Lord Sidmouth: – “Mr. John Gilchrist, late professor of the Hindoostanee language in the college of Fort-William, will have the honour of delivering this letter to you. The records of this government furnish ample proof of the importance of Mr. Gilchrist’s services. I am anxious, however, that you shall be apprised of the personal interest which I feel in Mr. Gilchrist’s honourable reception in England; and I take the liberty of recommending him to your favourable notice, as a gentleman highly distinguished for his zeal in the promotion of an important branch of the public service, and for his eminent knowledge of the Oriental languages.” With these and other testimonials, Dr. Gilchrist returned in 1804 to Britain, and took up his residence in Edinburgh. While he resided in that city, his house, on the north side of Nicolson’s Square, was remarkable for the aviary which he had erected upon it, and for the number of rare and curious birds he had collected together. At one period, in conjunction with Mr. James Inglis, he instituted a bank in Edinburgh, under the name of “Inglis, Borthwick Gilchrist, and Co.” They issued notes which, we believe, the other banks refused to take, and after going on for some time, the establishment was at last obliged to be relinquished.

      In politics Dr. Gilchrist was a violent liberal, and took a strong interest in all local matters of public discussion. In June 1815, when the announcement of the battle of Waterloo was read aloud in a coffeeroom in Edinburgh where he was, he at once gave the lie to the gentleman who proclaimed the intelligence; and had not the friends of the parties interfered, a duel would have been the consequence.

      About the year 1816 he quitted Edinburgh, and settled in London, where he at first taught the oriental languages privately in his own house, but in December 1818, he commenced teaching and lecturing on the Hindostanee, Persian, Persi-Arabic, and other eastern languages, under the auspices and sanction of the Hon. East India Company, at the Oriental Institution, Leicester Square. In June 1825, he resigned his duties at this establishment, his appointment being only probationary for successive terms of three years. During his residence in London he published various oriental works, (the titles of which are given below), one of the most remarkable of which appeared in 1826, entitled ‘The Orienti-Occidental Tuitionary Pioneer,’ consisting, chiefly, of his official reports to the court of directors as to the progress of the pupils under his charge, some of which, it must be confessed, are conceived in a very extraordinary style. In the latter ones especially, he complained most bitterly of the parsimony and ill-treatment of the Hon. Company, on account of the small remuneration allowed him for his services. Besides his pension of £300, as a retired surgeon, instead of £500 for lecture-rooms and other incidental charges. From some of his works, however, he must have derived immense profits, and indeed he himself tells us in one of his reports, that he had acquired an ample fortune from his oriental publications, and “from a favourable change in his banking adventures.”

      During the latter years of his life Dr. Gilchrist lived in retirement. He died at Paris in January 1841, aged 82. He had married a Miss Mary Ann Coventry, by whom he had no family, and who, in August 1850, married, a second time, at Paris, General Guglielmo Pepe, of the kingdom of Naples. Although very eccentric in his way, Dr. Gilchrist was truly a good-hearted and benevolent person; and it may be said to his honour, that he never had an opportunity of doing a good action to a fellow-creature without availing himself of it. The interest he took in his pupils, and especially in those who showed any indications of genius and application in their studies, was very great, and continued during their subsequent career. Since the commencement of his labours vast progress has been made in the knowledge of the literary antiquities and philology of India, which is mainly owing to the impetus that his example and writings gave to the study f the Hindostanee language and literature in this country.

      His works are:

      Dictionary, English and Hindoostanie; 2 parts. Calcutta, 1787, 4to.

      Oriental Linguist; an Introduction to the Language of Hindoostan, comprising the Rudiments of that tongue, with a Vocabulary, &c. To which is added, the English and Hindoostanic part of the Articles of War, with partial Notes and Observations. Calcutta, 1798, 4to.

      Anti-Jargonist, or a Short Introduction to the Hindoostanic Language; comprising the Rudiments of that tongue, with an extensive Vocabulary, English and Hindoostanic, and Hindoostanic and English. Calcutta, 1800, 8vo.

      New Theory and Prospectus of the Persian Verbs; with their Synonyms in English and Hindoostanic. Lond. 1801, 4to. 1804.

      The Stranger’s Guide to the Hindoostanic, or grand popular Language of India, improperly called Moorish. Calcutta, 1802, 8vo. 2d edition, Lond. 1808. Lond. 1815, 8vo.

      Nursi Benuzeer; a Hindoostanic Romance. 1803, fol.

      British Indian Monitor, or the Anti-Jargonist; Stranger’s Guide; Oriental Linguist; and various other Works, compressed into two portable volumes, n the Hindoostanic Language; with information respecting Eastern tongues, manners, and customs, &c., that previous time and the voyage to the East Indies may both be rendered agreeably subservient to the speedy acquisition of much useful knowledge on Indian affairs, intimately connected with future health, fame, happiness, and fortune, in that remote but promising portion of the British Empire. Edin. 1806-8, 2 vols. 8vo.

      Grammar of the Hindoostanic Language, 4to.

      Speech, delivered at a meeting of the Merchants’ Company of Edinburgh, respecting the Police Act. 1807, 8vo.

      Parliamentary Reform on Constitutional Principles; or British Loyalty against Continental Royalty; with an Appendix. 1816.

      The Stranger’s Infallible East Indian Guide, or Hindoostanee Multum in Parvo, as a Grammatical Compendium of the Grand, Popular, and Military language of all India, long, but improperly, called the Moors, or Moorish jargon. Lond. 1820. On the title-page of this work, which was intended as a rudimental text-book of the Hindoostanee tongue, Dr. Gilchrist styles himself “The Founder of Hindoostanee Philology.”

      The General East India Guide and Vade Mecum for the Public functionary, Government officer, Private agent, Trader, or Foreign Sojourner in British India, being a Digest of the work of the late Captain Williamson, with many improvements and additions, embracing the most valuable parts of similar publications on the Statistics, Literature, Official Duties, and Social Economy of life and conduct in that interesting quarter of the Globe. Lond. 1825.

      The Orienti-Occidental Tuitionary Pioneer, principally his official reports to the Court of Directors of the East India Company, regarding the progress of the pupils under his charge. London, 1826.

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