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ENGLISH COMPOSITION BY HINDUS.
SINCE the appearance of our last Journal we have seen a report of the exhibition of the students of the Hindu or Anglo-Indian College of Calcutta, on the 16th January last. The chief object of this seminary, the managers of which are Hindus, is to instil into the youth of Bengal a taste for the language and the literature of England; and the result of the examination alluded to, which we think it desirable to bring in a conspicuous. manner before our readers, will tend to confirm the observations expressed in an article in our last Number, “On the Intellectual Character of the Hindus.”
The ceremony took place, on this occasion, at the Government House, in consequence of the wish of Lord Amherst to witness the presentation of the prizes, which had been awarded by the visitor, H. H. Wilson, Esq., after a long and particular examination, occupying a part of every day during about three weeks; the pupils amounted to 400. A great concourse of spectators, native and European, were present at this interesting spectacle. The prizes, consisting of books and philosophical instruments, suited to the age and progress of the successful students, were presented by the Governor General to the two senior classes, the remainder by the Hon. W. B. Bayley, as president of the General Committee of Public Instruction.
The subjects given to the students for essays were the following: ,' 1st Class,
-The consequences resulting to Europe and Asia by the discovery of the passage round the Cape of Good Hope. 14.389 in
2d Class. The preference to be given to public distinction, or to private happiness. * 3d Class. The conduct of Coriolanus. 4th Class. — The preferable claim to admiration of different Grecian states. *5th Class. — The consequences to the Britons from the Roman conquest.
One of the students of the first class, Casi Prasad Ghose, presented critical comments on four chapters of Mill's “ History of British India.".
After the distribution of the rewards, a series of recitations ensued, agreeably to the following programme :, ;) Alexander, Gopál Lái Thakur, 8th elass. ' ? Thracian Robber, Durgáprasad Makberji, ditto. Ossian's Address to the Sun, Maheshchandra Sinh, 5th, classe Newcastle Apothecary (from Colman), Harihara Mukherji, 4th class.
First Scene of " Venice Preserved :"-Priuli, Sivachandra De, 4th elass; and Jaffier, Rádhanáth Sikhdhár, ditto.
Senate Scene from " Calo ;"-Cato, Amrit Lák Mitra, 2d class; Sempronius, Rasik Krishna Mullik, ditto; Lucius, Gangácharan Sen, ditto; Marcus, Krishna Mohun Banerji, ditto; Decius, Harachandra Ghose, ditto.
Trial Scene from " the Merchant of Venice :"-Duke, Krishna Hari Nandi, Ist class; Shylock, Kásináuth Ghose, ditto ; Antonio, Atula Chundra Gangoli, ditto; Bassanio, Harischundra Dás, ditto; Gratiano, Ramchandra Mitra, 3d class; Salarino, Kalikumár Bose, ditto; Portia,, Krishna Dhun Mitra, 1st class ; Nerissa, Harihara Mukherji, 4th class.
Harihara Mukherji, who is but twelve years old, displayed an extraordinary degree of comic talent in reciting the tale of the apothecary. On the whole, the scene is described as highly gratifying to those who are anxious to promote the diffusion of European science amongst the natives of India. The Governor General expressed great surprise as well as pleasure at the progress made by these youths.
To enable our readers to judge of this progress, wé subjoin the following extracts from six essays on the subject proposed for the first class, namely:
Has Europe or Asia benefited the most from the discovery of the passage round the Cape of Good Hope to India ?”
Atula Chundra Gungoli begins with John II. of Portugal, under whose reign Captain Diaz doubled the Cape of Storms; he speaks of Vasco de Gama, and how the Dutch, the French, and English, became opulent by the lucrative commerce of the East. “Of all the nations of Europe,” says Gungoli, “the English have derived the greatest advantage by this passage. They have aggrandized themselves to such a degree, that there is not a country in all Europe to stand on an equal footing with them in respect to riches. On the other hand, it must be acknowledged, that it has also, in some measure, contributed to the good of Asia, particularly in the countries under the British sway; for in the time of the Mahomedan tyrants nothing but luxury and 'oppression prevailed among the nobles; they had, properly speaking, no fixed laws for the administration of justice. It is very true they had cawzees, but with such itching palms that they were slaves to bribes. In fact, the natives suffered the most mortifying proofs of their cruelties ; until Providence, to avert this evil, brought them under the illustrious sway of the English, who not only freed this country from their hands, but have adopted all possible measures for its amelioration, introducing arts, sciences, schools, academies, and colleges, for the dissemination of knowledge.” Gungoli, however, thinks “it may be fairly concluded, that the scale of benefit preponderates on the side of Europe, for had it been otherwise, the nations of Europe would not, as it is natural to suppose, come to this country merely to waste their riches, and encounter dangers in their passage even at the risk of life.”
Kisto Dhun Mitra begins with observations on the importance of trade, and says, “the Egyptians and Phænicians made their first efforts in the Mediterranean Sea : but they did not confine themselves within the border of it, for they soon carried the sphere of their commerce to India, and opened a new communication, partly by sea and partly by land.”—“Be it sufficient to say, that the different nations of Carthage, Greece, Rome, Constantinople, and Venice, successively carried on their trade, and enriched themselves with the wealth of this country.” Kisto Dhun then adverts to the discovery of the passage round the Cape by the Portuguese, and the subsequent settlement of the English in India. “If my memory fail not,” he says, “Boulton (Broughton), an English surgeon, cured Shahjuhan's daughter of a sickness which no one was able to remove. On which the Nabob not only rewarded him with a large sum of money, but permitted his countrymen to trade freely in his dominions.” He concludes by observing, that India has derived more advantages than Britain from the discovery of the passage round the Cape, and considers the advantages accruing to the other nations of Europe mutual and equal.
The circumstances connected with the discovery of Vasco de Gama are described by Hurris Chundra Dás. “The wealth,” says he," which at first naturally flowed from India to Portugal, contributed chiefly to its glory and splendour, and successively roused several nations of Europe, such as the English, the Dutch, the French, and others, to a spirit of Indian commerce. The advantages now derived by the Indian trade are greater to Europe than to Asia, for Indian commodities cost Europeans more in ancient than in modern times. The productions were first purchased from different parts of Asia, were brought to Ceylon, or to the ports on the Malabar coast, and were thence put on board the ships from the Red Sea. At Berenice (a city built by PtoleAsiat. Journ. Vol. 25. No. 151. G
my Philadelphus, on the west coast of that sea), they were landed and carried by land 258 miles, to the banks of the Nile, where they were again embarked, and conveyed down the river to different markets. But after the passage to India was discovered, they were at first purchased in the countries of which they were the growth or manufacture, and when shipped in different parts of India, they were conveyed directly to Lisbon by a navigation, long indeed, but uninterrupted and safe, and thence circulated through Europe. It is therefore obvious to suppose, that had not this communication taken place, the Europeans had never been able to furnish themselves so copiously with the produce of this fruitful continent.” Hurris Chundra Dás does not mean to say that the natives of this country have not at all derived any advantage, but thinks that “the inhabitants of both the continents [Europe and Asia] have equally benefited by this important passage to India round the Cape of Good Hope." Kisto Hari Nandi dashes more promptly in medias res. Asia,” says
he; "being the richest and most fruitful of all the quarters of the known world, all other parts are indebted to it.” He observes, that the Venetians were the first of all the European powers “who traded to India, and lucrative commerce flourished to such a degree, that most of the European states could not but follow their example, and in due succession came the Spaniards, the Dutch, the French, the Portuguese, and the English. The concern which they had with the Asiatics was by land, but the discovery of this passage facilitated their commerce, cut short their winding way through Africa, and, in fact, contributed to the happiness and interest of these nations.” Kisto Hari then gives an account of the voyage of Bartholomew Diaz, in the reign of King John of Portugal, and thus winds up his argument: “with respect to the benefit, the Europeans have the greater part, for this commercial intercourse with the Asiatics not only supplied them with a flux of riches, but also contributed to the increase of their naval power, on which the whole weight of their state depends."-" These facts, therefore, lead me to conclude that the Europeans, and particularly the English, have benefited more by the discovery of this passage than any of the nations in Asia."
The essay by Abenasha Chundra Gungoli adverts to the commerce of the Venetians, carried on through Egypt, with India, and then describes the discovery of the Portuguese admiral, Diaz, in the year 1487. He speaks of the introduction of the English into Bengal, and looks upon it as a great blessing to have been freed from the tyranny of the ancient rulers of Hindoostan. “But since this country has been possessed by the English,” says the writer, "its inhabitants are so happy, that had I been endowed with the genius of Pope or Milton, and versed in rhetoric like Demosthenes or Tully, I might with some degree of propriety attempt to describe it." Chundra Gungoli is not quite so gifted as his fellow-students, and thus concludes his argument: "if it be asked, what profit has been derived by the other parts of Asia ? to that I answer, that though they are not protected by the wise laws of Britain, yet in all other respects they are equally benefited with India. Hence it must be acknowledged that, by this happy union, the balance of profit is exactly in equilibrium !”
Rajkishore Bose is the next essayist, and he is very enthusiastic in his gratitude to Vasco de Gama. “Had my pen,” he says, “ been that of Shakespeare's, it would prove but very little to express the encomia due to a man of that distinction, to whom the Europeans, as well as the Asiatics, are indebted for their happy union." He also begins with the Venetians, and, in
proper historical order, brings the Portuguese to the Malabar coast; then introduces the British to India, and thus enumerates the advantages to this country derived from their dominion, “). We are safe from the invasion of the Turks. 2. We are free from the tyranny of the Mussulman kings. 3. The city (Benares) enjoys perfect felicity. 4. The constant labour of our superiors sets us examples to be always employed, which contributes to our health as well aš sustenance." He then says, emphatically: “come, now, goddess Astræa, or whatever be thy nanse, come with thy balance and decide my cause! To do justice to the subject, I am bound to acknowledge that we have benefited the most."-" The European benefits consist solely in pecuniary assistance, whereas ours are not only the same, but the gain of learning, which is still more substantial, and to conclude with saying, that we are safe every way; improving in literature and the sciences day by day, and shall continue to do so as long as the patronizing sway shall rule over us."
It is to be remarked that these essays were given in at private examinations, and were not intended as public specimens; and that the masters were specially instructed to take care that no assistance was given the respective authors in preparing them.
We add to the aforegoing specimens' two poetical pieces, written without any aid whatever from others, by Hari Chundra Ghose, a student of the second class.
-As thou dost brighten night.
In darkest nights we find;
. For hope to light the mind.
It brings to me love's woe ;
Like thy bright fire-sparks glow.
Alas! I cannot catch thee
From far her light I see,
And fondly gaze on thee,
Benares, hail! thou pride of Hindoostan!
Thou wert the desert flower, and thou the gold divine.
As roses fade, but thorns are left behind,
Despair not,” thus she gently says, “ again
“ And pure the stream of poetry shall Aow.” Previous to the examination of the students at the Anglo-Indian College, the Hindu scholars at the Durrumtollah Academy underwent an examination, at which a native youth named Kissenchundra Dutt, son of Russomi Dutt, a respectable inhabitant of Calcutta, displayed talents' of a very extraordinary kind. He was only fourteen years of age, and his proficiency is thus specified: “In English, French, Latin, book-keeping, geography, astronomy, and mathematics, he stood at the head of every chass; and his correct pronunciation and action, in the character of Shylock, and in his recitation of Cato's soliloquy on the soul, drew forth the most enthusiastic admiration of the whole audience.”
We subjoin some remarks from a Calcutta newspaper, the India Gazette, drawn forth by this last exhibition :
While adverting to the consequences likely to be evolved by due encouragement of native enterprize and industry, in a particular and laborious path, we cannot overlook the general and striking advancement of the rising native generation of Calcutta in European literature and science. To education we mainly look for that final enfranchisement from the moral, social, and religious anomalies of a system, the burthen of which is not easy, and the yoke of which is not light. Aware, as we are, of the great favour that European education has of late years found in the eyes of some of the more intelligent and influential natives of Calcutta, and the numerous youth who are now undergoing instruction, we look forward with confidence to a period—it is to be hoped not far distant—when the individuals who have themselves reaped the benefits of an European education, will exhibit in their own persons ample proofs of its improving effects, and join heart and hand with their English friends in promoting the good and philanthropic cause.
One of the effects which we anticipate from the benign influence of the literature, science, and morality of the west, is a greater attention to social prosperity and general welfare, and a more dignified and philanthropic application of native talent and wealth.
When we behold intelligent boys and youths well-grounded in European elemental literature and history, it is impossible for us to suppose that they will, like too many of their fathers, rest contented with the mere sensualities of life, or consider the hoarding of wealth at the expense of genuine domestic comfort, and perhaps of respectability of character, as the chief end of existence, or the expending of lakhs on wretched and wearisome nautches as one of life's chief pleasures, and one of the best modes of dis