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for a conduct no less favourable to the cause of literature, than to the advancement of the British influence in India, by removing that reserve and distrust in the professors of the Braminical Faith, which had taught them to view with suspicion all attempts to investigate their code, and to apprehend the infringement of its ordinances, in our political rule. The importance of his success will be readily acknowledged by those, whose observation qualifies them to form a due estimate of it; and to those who have not had the advantages of local experience, the communication of my own may not be unsatisfactory.
The spirit of the Mohammedan religion is adverse to every appearance of idolatry, and the conquest of Hindustan by the Mufsulmans, was prosecuted with the zeal of a religious crusade. The
The rage of profelytism was united with the ambition of dominion, and the subversion of the Hindu superstition was always considered a religious obligation, the discharge of which might indeed be sufpended by political considerations, but could
never be renounced: and, notwithstanding occasional marks of toleration in fome of the emperors of Hindustan, or their viceroys, their Hindu subjects were ever beheld by them, in the contemptuous light of infidels and idolaters. They were of course naturally disposed to apprehend the effects of a similar bigotry and intolerance in their European governors, so widely discriminated from themselves in manners, language, and religion, The Bramins, too, (who had the feelings common to the bulk of the people,) deemed themselves precluded by laws, in their opinion of facred and eternal obligation, from any development of their secret doctrines to a race of people, who could only be ranked in the lowest of the four classes of mankind, and to whom, with little exception, their secrecy and reserve had hitherto proved impenetrable. To surmount these obstacles, to fubdue the jealousy and prejudices of the Bramins, and to diminish the apprehensions of the people at large, required a conduct regulated by the most liberal and equitable
principles, and the influence of personal in tercourse and conciliation. The compilation of a code of laws by Pundits, convened by the invitation of Mr. Hastings, the Persian verfion of it, made under their immediate infpection, and the translation of the Bagvhať Geeta, a work containing all the grand mysteries of the Braminical Faith, are incontrovertible proofs of the success of his efforts, to inspire confidence in minds, where distrust was habitual, while a variety of useful publications, undertaken at his suggestion, demonstrate the beneficial effects of his patronage and encouragement of Oriental lite .
Amongst the original members of the societý, who subscribed the address to the Governor-General and Council, proposing the institution, will be found the names of several who have distinguished themselves by their proficiency in Oriental learning; of Mr. William Chambers, whose knowledge of the dialects on the coast of Coromandel, as well as of Persian and Arabic literature, was critical
and extensive, and his least praise; of Mr. Francis Gladwyn, the author of calculated to assist the students of the Persian language, the translator of various Oriental manuscripts, and particularly of the institutes of Akbar, the wisest, greatest, and most tolerant monarch, that ever swayed the sceptre of India * ; of Captain Charles Hamilton,
* The toleration of Akbar, and his curiosity to investigate the religious tenets of other nations, have exposed him to the charge of heresy amongst the Mohammedans in general. In a collection of his letters, published by his learned minister Ab-ul-fuzl, there is one addressed to the king of Portugal, in which he censures in the strongest terms, the slavish propensity of mankind, to adopt the religious principles of their fathers and those amongst whom they have been brought up, without evidence or investigation; he avows his own pleasure and profit, in conversing with the learned professors of different persuasions, and desires that some person of that character, conversant in the Oriental and European languages, may be sent to him. He also requests translations of the heavenly books, the Pentateuch, Psalms, and Gospels, or of any others of general utility.
In a code of instructions, specifically addressed to the officers of his empire, I find the two following passages:
“Do not molest mankind on account of their religious “ principles. If in the affairs of this world, which are “ transitory and perishable, a prudent man is guided by a “ regard to his interest ; still less, in spiritual concerns, " which are eternal, whilst he retains his senses, will he
who published a translation of the Hedaiya, a code of Mohammedan laws, which has been found of great use in the administration of justice in Bengal; and of Charles Wilkins, Esquire, the first Englishman who acquired a critical knowledge of the language of the Bramins, and who by the application of rare talents and industry, by his own personal exertions, invented and cast types of the Debnagree, Persic, and Bengalese characters, in such perfection, that no succeeding attempts have exhibited any improvement upon his labours. Of these names, two only survive.
The loss of Mr. Chambers must be particularly lamented, by all who feel an interest in communicating a knowledge of the doc
“ adopt what is pernicious. If truth be on his side, do “not oppose it and molest him; but if it be with you, and "he from want of understanding should have imbibed “ erroneous notions, ignorance is his malady, and he is “to be considered an object of your compassion and “ assistance, not of molestation and severity. Keep on
good terms with the upright and virtuous of all pero suasions.
“ The best adoration, which man in this world can
pay to his Maker, is duly to administer the affairs of his "creatures, discarding passion and affection, and without ” distinction of friend or foe, relation or stranger.".