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WHEN David left the seminary, it was with the expectation of sailing for India in the autumn of the year following; this expectation was not realized, various unforeseen delays occurring which kept him in the country till the early spring of 1861. He remained during this interval in Boston, at his father's house, occupied with work which by degrees came to look almost exclusively Indiaward. In the seminary and previously he had followed various lines of study bearing upon India, and the result was a growing familiarity with Hindû speech, literature, philosophy, history, and manners, but -- except in his study of Tamil — he had not investigated any subject with that strictness which he desired; his prescribed tasks and various occupations forbade him to give more than his spare hours to India. Now, master of his own time, he turned with avidity to the books which he had been collecting, and made the study of them his chief employment. The eighteen months, which elapsed between his leaving Andover and his departure for India, found him going deeper and deeper into the mysteries of Hindûism; his interest thus concentrated impelled him to more thorough research into a few subjects than would have been possible had many occupied his time. His own library and the library of the Oriental Society at New Haven, together with the public and private collections in Boston and Cambridge, furnished him with material, and in the confined department of Hindû literature, as introduced by English, French, and German scholars, he thought that he had used pretty much all to which he could gain access.
It is an example of the educating power inhering in a great purpose, once possessing the soul, that my brother should at last have been brought to a kind of work so foreign from his mental constitution. It is an example also of the broad foundation upon which the very purpose rested in his mind, that his habit of measuring study by its practical value in his career did not lead him to set aside the investigation of the abstruse philosophy of India as not germane to his work. The abstruseness did not attract him, although his active mind found pleasure in such alien speculations to a degree that never would have been predicated from quite recent observations; it was the bearing of the work upon his future labors which gave it a hold upon his interest. He found it not always easy to pursue this course, since he was not always sustained in it by the judgment of his missionary friends. Yet the predilection of Mr. Hoisington for these studies had influenced him quite strongly in his choice of them.
He gave increased attention also to the study of Tamil, and had the valuable assistance of Rev. Edward Webb, a missionary of the Madura District, who was at the time in America. During this period his letters to missionary friends give some insight into the character of his studies. One of these friends, Rev. George T. Washburn, of Battalagundu, Madura District, India, had been a college and for a while a seminary classmate; a common purpose and destination had brought them together, and their intercourse at Andover had been characterized by a very full interchange of sentiment upon matters relating to their expected labors in India; and Mr. Washburn preceding David, correspondence followed upon the same topics, until they were reunited in India; from David's share in this correspondence I am able to give a more familiar statement of his opinions upon his Oriental studies than could be gained otherwise.
He found it most easy, natural, and agreeable to his purpose to throw the results of his study into some written form, and accordingly there remain three or four essays and series of essays, containing proofs of his industry and indications of his attainments. The first of these was the series of papers to which he alludes at the close of the following extract:
[TO REV. GEORGE F. HERRICK.]
Boston, Oct. 28, 1859. By the time you receive this, you will I presume have found your way about the great city [Constantinople]. What a dream you must be in for what amazing feelings will such a city force upon a student of church history. I feel as if in thought I could share the excitement with which you draw near your
future home. But I don't much like to think of it, nor of any of our fellows who are favored like you. It makes me discontented. I burn to be off, and feel that only the grace of God can keep me from unworthy chafing. But I am sure that my post is here for the present, and I do really praise God when I see any one take his leave of home. Blessed privilege! God grant that I may soon share it.
You have long pronounced me incorrigible. Everybody must now coincide in your view. My morning is spent on Tamil grammar, my afternoon on Ancient Hindû history, my evening on British Indian history. The first I mean to work steadily at; I love it and it
The last I must finish this winter, and as to the other, I may as well tell one of the four that I am getting ready to write a set of papers on Ancient Indian Literature, as illustrative of Hindû character in general, hoping to show the noble capacity of the race.
These papers were published in the “Boston Recorder,” a weekly religious journal. They were twelve in number, and limited of course to a very brief and from the manner of the publication — disjointed exposition of the subject, but well adapted to the object for which they were written, to give an interesting summary of Hindû literature in its chronological order, for the purpose of indicating the capacity of the race. It may be observed, too, that the ability to present the subject so concisely, and yet in so lively a fashion, supposes a power of mastering the study, higher in character than that which merely undertakes to record at length the same results of investigation.
In the two following letters he alludes to his study of Tamil, indicating the sort of interest which he continued to take in linguistics apart from the practical value of which the Tamil speech was to be to him :
[TO REV. GEORGE F. HERRICK.]
Essex, Conn., June 11, 1860. .. It has afforded me not a little pleasant thought of late to see how closely you and I are to be connected in our missionary labors. Whilst you are attempting to stammer out the message from above in a speech which laughs at all order, after the English sort, and which calls upon a man to deglottize himself, so I, in my poor way, shall attempt the same after the same fashion. For if you will notice, Tamil alike with Turkish belongs to that class of Agglutinative languages so utterly at variance with Indo-European speech. I have been studying a South Indian Comparative grammar of late, and have been struck with the remarkable analogies therein drawn out between two languages, geographically so separate. But poor fellow ! to think of
you sweltering not merely under the load of one tongue, so diametrically opposed to inborn notions of what speech should be, but even forced to hoist on to your aching back another language, belonging to still another class. And what can I say for the poor unfortunates of the Persian hills, who, as Dr. Perkins tells me, if they would learn Persian well, must also dig out Arabic and Turkish? It seems like attempting to obliterate the traces of Babel thus to shoulder three languages, the types of the three great families of tongues. I with my simple Tamil, may well flatter myself.
[TO REV. GEORGE T. WASHBURN.]
Boston, July 27, 1860. · Perhaps you remember that when you left I was at work about the Hill Tribes of India, as the remnant of the aborigines. The essay is done. I trace the earliest notices of aboriginal races in the Hindû books, then give a sketch of all that now seem allied to them, gathered from Travels and Oriental Magazines, closing with a brief statement of the present