« AnteriorContinuar »
opinion respecting their affinities, judged from their speech. Its novelty at least will not be denied. So you have read “ Ancient Sanskrit Literature” (Müller). I need not ask you whether you enjoyed it, for so rich a treat you could not but enjoy. Since you left, the Boden Professorship at Oxford has been made vacant by the death of Wilson. Three rivals compete for the chair, Müller, Monier Williams, the author of a Sanskrit Grammar and English and Sanskrit Lexicon, and Dr. Ballantyne, of Benares. I trust Müller will get it, for then we may count upon his more undivided attention to the study. Jos. Mullens has published a book which shares a prize with a similar treatise by Ballantyne, called “Christian Aspects of Hindû Philosophy.” I do not however set a very high value upon it. I take it that while Mullens may be a good statistician, he can be but an indifferent metaphysician. Moreover he is not a student at first hand, I judge, whereas Ballantyne is.
I have laid out a course of study upon Hindû Philosophy; have got a host of little books, aphorisms of the different schools, and begin to-morrow on the Sankya Philosophy. Whether my courage will endure to the end I dare not predict, but I question much. Any study in that direction, after leaving the country, must of course be limited and what I do must be done now.
Tell it not in Madura, I have begun Sanskrit. I got Oppert's grammar in French, commendable for its brevity at least, and am now at work scratching unsightly marks supposed to represent sounds. I do not expect, at present at least, to more than peep into it, but I thought that a slight acquaintance with the principles of its grammar might aid me in studying Tamil, and especially in the
use of such works as “Caldwell's Comparative Gram
” where Sanskrit is ever referred to for illustration. Perhaps I may carry it on at intervals hereafter. It will be a pleasing diversion.
The essay referred to in the last letter appeared in the 6 Bibliotheca Sacra” for October, 1860, under the title - Aborigines of India.” When that was completed and published, the day of departure, which he had been anticipating might be earlier, was set for the following February or March, and the question arose in his mind, how the intervening time should be occupied. The necessary preparations for departure, a proposed jaunt to the West, and his various plans for interesting the churches in the missionary enterprise, seemed to him insufficient for fully occupying his time, and thus warding off that impatience and worry which he knew would get hold of him. He decided to give more close attention to a subject which he had long been engaged upon in a fragmentary way, -- a systematic view of Hindů Philosophy. He wished for his own sake to reach a more determinate knowledge, and no work of which he knew covered the ground which he proposed to occupy; the prospect of producing a work, really worthy as a matter of scholarship, and supplying a desideratum in Oriental studies, gave zest to his intention, and though harassed with numberless calls upon his time, he worked diligently and perseveringly, completing his task but a short time before sailing. The essay was published in the “ Bibliotheca Sacra,” under the title of " A Sketch of Hindû Philosophy," appearing in two parts in the numbers for July and October, 1861. The following letter is in reference partly to this essay, and in reply to certain doubts expressed by his correspondent, whether it were worth while to devote unusual attention to subjects that after all had little direct bearing upon the missionary work, which was to be bestowed almost exclusively upon the degraded classes. “I hope you will keep on studying," he writes; “I don't think we know too much about Hindûism in its higher forms. Only don't expect that such knowledge is going to be any great direct missionary agency to the people.'
[TO REV. GEORGE T. WASHBURN.]
Boston, Nov. 23, 1860. One would hardly think perhaps that I was following the suggestion of your letter, could one see me, day after day, poring over Yoga, Nyaya, and Vaiseshika schemes of thinking. But do not think I misunderstand you.
you. I liked your remarks; they fell in with and gave expression to thoughts which had been floating in my own mind in the shape of questions. I do not like to speak too strongly. I am not inclined to be over-confident as to my success as a missionary. Still, I have a tolerably correct conception of what a missionary life should be. If I come short of reaching my ideal, that is another matter.
I do feel this, - a longing desire to get my general, wishy-washy notions of Hindûism some substantial bottom. I don't believe there is another system of faith, or rather congeries of discordant systems, to be found under heaven that will compare with that of India. An inane jumble of fact and fiction, myth and history, religious, metaphysical and superstitious notions. Such Hindûism certainly appears to a novice. I feel uneasy until I grasp some few principles or facts which may serve to attract about them the varied phases of faith that India presents. I think the chaos is becoming less "voidic” to me. We need to bear in mind the great ethnological fact of the presence in India of at least two, and most likely three separate races or classes of race, and the relative position they hold to one another. We need further to bear in mind the radical difference between the two, that one is a savage, the other a cultivated people; that the latter exhibits not one phase, but several phases or stages of growth, and that while these have risen and fallen away in succession, many of their results are undoubtedly existing in the civilization of to-day; the religious history of the latter race we may be able to trace, but that of the former is a wellnigh hopeless mass of inconsistencies.
Now the Philosophical period was a most important one, and cannot be passed over in a study of Hindûism. Indeed, next to the Vedic, it is the most important, and with reference to this era has no rival.As a student of general history, aside from all questions of missionary life, I should be justified in studying it; as a student of India life, of course I must. I fully believe that I am denying myself much gratification in the pursuit of this theme by going to India. Were I to remain here, I should expect to do far more in this and cognate studies than I can possibly do at home [i. e. India home]. I agree with you that the brunt of the work for us is of a different sort. Still I flatter myself that I may be able to bring to light some data for others investigation while I am in India, and what acquaintance I have now with these topics may prove of advantage in preventing me from throwing away time in directions which would be valueless.
I have a notion that I shall be interested in gathering together customs and beliefs of the lower castes whom we meet, to see if I can trace any systematic belief which will serve to stand as an outline of faith held previous to Arian immigration. What do you think ? As to philosophy, you know enough of me to know that I am in no sort of danger of making or trying to make use of my knowledge of systems in meeting a Hindû. I hardly know enough to wield an English or an Aristotelian syllogism, — to say nothing of the Hindû Nyaya's five-membered conceit. The fact is patent, however, that five hours a day do I plod my weary way through Sankya, Yoga, and Nyaya; not weary way either, for I enjoy it. I am now running through the six systems and giving a syllabus of each. Next I am to study the historical connection of all, and weave them into an essay in chronological order, stating the occasion of their rise, progress, and present position. I hope to get ready a couple of long essays for the “ Bibliotheca Sacra” before I leave. I have all the material nearly that is to be had in English. You say you
have sent for Mullens's book. I have it. I have a dim idea that you have Ballantyne. Mullens as a philosopher is not worth a straw; but his book is worth having, as it gives the best general compend of the different systems. He is much more full than Ballantyne in stating the facts, and draws almost wholly from Ballantyne's little translations. Ballantyne makes the Nyaya philosophy his standpoint of logic in his duties as preceptor of Hindûs. And we Westerners certainly have more sympathy with Gotama than with any other Hindû sage. In his conception of God he is nearer the Christian than any of his fellows.