Sanskrit for civil servants 1806-1818.
In early nineteenth-century Britain neither the royal family nor the aristocracy acted as patrons of Oriental learning. The cultivation of Sanskrit and other Indian languages was the private avocation of a few retired servants of the East India Company. It was not thought of as a pursuit that might parallel the study of Western classics in institutions of higher learning. Nor was it considered a skill that Company servants might acquire prior to their assignments in the East, until the East India Company was jolted into action when the Governor General of Bengal, Lord Wellesley, unilaterally proclaimed in 1800 the foundation of the College of Fort William in Calcutta. After a long tussle with the home administration of the Company, which threatened to close a college the creation of which it had not authorized, a compromise was crafted, by which Wellesley's ambitious "Oxford of the East" was scaled down to a school for Indian languages. (2) All young men appointed to the civil service would first undergo three years of instruction at a college instituted at home. The course of study at East India College, which opened its doors in Hertford Castle in 1806 and moved in 1809 to permanent quarters in Haileybury, was to focus primarily on Western subjects, yet included the rudiments of Indian languages. (3)
The original plan for East India College called only for the teaching of Arabic and Persian. (4) Yet, when the first appointed Oriental Professor, Jonathan Scott, a scholar of Arabic and Persian, resigned even before the College opened its doors and was succeeded pro tempore by John B. Gilchrist, a scholar and ardent proponent of Hindustani (Urdu), an occasion offered itself to revisit the scheme of instruction in Indian languages. (5) There were four candidates. Major Herbert Lloyd, a member of the Asiatic Society in Calcutta, and Henry G. Keene, an alumnus of Fort William College, proffered credentials in Arabic, Persian, and Hindustani. (6) Captain Charles Stewart, then on his way home, was recommended as having taught Persian at Fort William. (7) Most prominent was a testimonial on behalf of Alexander Hamilton by Sanskritist Charles Wilkins, a founding member of the Asiatic Society who had been named Oriental Visitor for the College in addition to his duties as Librarian to the East India Company:
I have lately received a letter from Mr. C. W. Hamilton (8) (who is one of the unfortunate Gentlemen detained in France) expressing a wish to become a Candidate for the Oriental Professorship in the Honorable Company's College at Hertford, and I have been in daily expectation of receiving a letter from him, addressed to the Court, setting forth his pretensions; but having been disappointed, probably owing to the irregularity and uncertainty of the intercourse between the two Countries, I beg leave to trouble you in his behalf.
Mr. Hamilton served several years in the Honble Company's Military Service in Bengal, where he was distinguished for his great knowledge in the Persian, Arabic and even the Sanskrit Languages as is well known to several good judges who are now in London, particularly Mr. Richard Johnson and Col. Kirkpatrick, (9) to whose testimony I beg leave to add my own. Indeed his classical learning, and intimate acquaintance with the oriental languages has gained him in France the singular privilege of remaining in Paris, where he has been employed in examining and making catalogues of the vast collection of Manuscripts found in the public Libraries of that City. (10) If the Committee should feel disposed to favour his views, I can with confidence state it as my humble opinion, that there is not a man to he found who would answer the purposes of the Institution at Hertford better than the friend I have the pleasure to recommend. (11)
Hamilton was also acquainted with Charles Grant, the rising power in the Court of Directors and the architect of the plan for East India College. They had been fellow members of the Asiatic Society while in Calcutta. (12) Hamilton was the source of a report on the cultivation of Oriental learning in France, which Grant had marshaled as part of the evidence for the necessity to institute an East India College in England:
The French who, whatever their principles or Aims may be, certainly shew policy in the pursuit of them, set a high Value on Institutions of this kind. Their present Government affords distinguished encouragement to the study of Oriental Literature, it is pursued with Ardour, and Paris so much abounds in Proficients in Persian, Arabic, Turkish, and even Shanscrit, that a Gentleman detained there, an Eastern scholar of our own, and from that Character admitted into free society with their Scavans, has written that he conversed among them more frequently in Persian than in French, and that he daily witnessed among them conversations in Persian, Arabic, and Turkish. One consequence of this is, that the French have always a supply of Persons who add to the other qualifications for deplomatic [sic] Employments a knowledge of Eastern Languages which enables them to carry on the most important Negociations at Asiatic Courts without the intervention of an Interpreter whilst we are so destitute of knowledge of this kin d that our Metropolis though the greatest in Europe is said not to contain one Englishman capable of carrying on a Conversation much less a Correspondence in Arabic or Turkish. . . . Setting aside however considerations directly political . . . , it seems inexpedient that whilst France flourishes in Oriental learning, Britain should possess little productive stock of that kind within itself, and tho' rich in it abroad, where its riches are more exposed, continue still poor at home. (13)
At a meeting of August 6, 1806, the College Committee of the East India Company's Court of Directors recorded their opinion that "two Professors in the Oriental Department, are necessary at the East India College, one to teach the Sanscrit and other Hindoo Languages, and the other to instruct the students in the Persian, Hindostanny etc.," and recommended the appointment of Hamilton and Stewart, respectively, for these positions. (14) The Court of Directors approved this recommendation unanimously. (15) Hamilton was being released from France at that time. On August 12, East India College Principal Samuel Henley was pleased to report to the College Committee, "Mr. Hamilton, I am happy to find is arrived. The attestations to his merits as a Gentleman and Scholar, which I have received from M. de Sacy, who has been anxious that we should have his services, and, consequently, for his release, are in highest degree honourable." (16) Hamilton reported for classes on the following October 27, fully conscious of the groundbreaking nature of his assignment:
I do myself the honor to inform you that I have been hitherto prevented by ill health, a want of the requisite implements, & the necessity of much preparation, from commencing my professional duties as Professor of Hindu literature & lecturer on Asiatic history, at the college under your superintendence. That some preparation was requisite at the commencement of a course, involving a great variety of objects, which never before constituted a part of academic instruction, & will probably long continue peculiar to this institution, can surprise none. I now beg leave to report my arrival at this place, & that I shall be ready to open my class on the 1st November, from which period only it is my intention to claim a salary. (17)
The minutes of the Committee of College are silent about the reasons that prompted the addition of Sanskrit and other "Hindu languages," and of Hindustani, to the roster of languages to be taught, and to reduce Arabic to the catchall category of "etc." The Committee was clearly drawing a distinction between "Hindu" and "Muslim" languages along the nomenclature used at Fort William, where "Hindu languages" referred principally to Bengali. Yet the languages in which primary instruction was to be given at the home institution did not match those emphasized at Fort William, where Persian and Hindustani were paramount, Arabic was initially strong and Bengali weak, and Sanskrit was not a compulsory subject. (18) The prominence given to Sanskrit at East India College appears to have been due to a considerable extent to the influence of Wilkins as Oriental Visitor, and to the high regard in which Grant and others held Hamilton.
The Professor of Hindu Literature and the Oriental Visitor worked together to provide textbooks in support of Sanskrit instruction at the College. This collaboration resulted in the publication of Wilkins' pioneer Grammar of the Sanskrita Language (1808), and of an edition and a grammatical analysis of the Hitopadesa (1810, 1812) and a list of Terms of Sanskrit Grammar (1814) by Hamilton printed at the East India Library Press for the use of his students. (19) Hamilton did not hesitate to use his easy familiarity with Grant to prod his coadjutor to speedy action as well as to have urgent requests for books sent to Bengal. A letter of his to then EIC Deputy Chairman Grant of December 24, 1808 is worth reproducing in full since it touches on several points of significance: the range of languages he was prepared to teach, the articulation of the "Hindu" and "Mohammedan" language departments at the College, and the clear understanding he had that Grant had opposed the creation of Fort William College:
Will you allow me, my dear Sir, to solicit the favor of your attention to some circumstances connected with the department, which I fill here, & also to beg that you will act upon it, if you think it adviseable, without mentioning your having heard from me, on the subject. This appears to involve a charge of dilatoriness on my friend Wilkins, which considering his numerous occupations would be extremely unjust.
I am sure that what you saw last tuesday (20) must have convinced you that our students will have no occasion to attend the college of Fort William for instruction in Sanscrit and Bengalese, whenever we are furnished here with sufficient materials. Of the utility of the former I am more convinced than ever from a recent inspection of a Malabar & Mahratta grammar, with which we have lately been supplied; & which enable me decidedly to pronounce the languages of the peninsula to be as nearly affiliated with the Sanscrit, as that of Bengal. Sanscrit grammars are now in our possession. The Chairman has authorised the printing of the Hitopadesa, & dictionaries are expected by the first fleet. (21) I ask no more, therefore, in this department. In Bengalese, we make use of a packet of hooks sent from India. Of these two works only are in sufficient number to admit of being used as classbooks, & the whole are in so wretched a condition, that it is next to an impossibility they should last two years. Besides as the yo ung men cannot be supplied with copies on leaving college, they must forget all they had learned, during the voyage. Last year we had no books: the little progress of the students chiefly arose from their having nothing to read, but what they found leisure to copy from my private manuscripts, in the course of the week; & to this we shall again be infallibly reduced if new editions are not printed here. The remarkable progress of the Bengal students this year is, I think, entirely imputable to their being provided with books, as in the other departments. It appears to me that in publishing new editions of the books necessary for my classes, the Company will incur no ultimate expense, though they must make the advances. Each student would willingly purchase them at the rate necessary to defray the expence incurred. If I am not mistaken Mr. Parry (22) has already authorised the publications I require, but if I may judge of the future by the past, years may elapse before we are provided with them. I believe this may proceed from Wilkins thinking that the Chairs have rather acquiesced in, than approved of his suggestion; & that they take little interest in its accomplishment. But a speedy, impartial, & enlightened administration of justice appears to me absolutely essential to the permanence of our Indian dominion; & a knowledge of the vernacular dialects by the Company's servants no less essential to that object. If you view the matter in this light, which I am confident must be the ease, would it not be right to require estimates of the expence & time necessary to compleat an edition of the Hitopadesa in Sanscrit, & of the biographies of Crisna Chandra & Pratapaditya in Bengalese? The devanagari types used by Mr. Wilkins for his grammar, with some additions, may serve for the former: for the Bengal works types must be cast. I have already stated that the expence will willingly be defrayed by the students, & as these works are not voluminous should not be considerable. I wish to impress you with my own conviction, th at if this is right to be done at all, it is right it should be done soon; & that your appearing to attach importance to it will be the method of effecting that desirable object.
There are four dialects exclusively spoken within different portions of the territories annexed to the Madras presidency, & two within that of Bombay. I have already stated my readiness to instruct the Bombay & Madras students in these, whenever materials are procured, & would recommend its being ascertained by a reference to those presidencies which of these are most generally useful. The Persian language alone, foreign as it is to the natives of India & daily sinking in importance with the decline of the Mohammedan states costs the Company [pounds sterling]2000 a year at this college. A sum greatly exceeding all the expences I have suggested, & which are ultimately to be repaid by the students. I beg to renew the assurance of my perfect esteem. (23)
That Hamilton had Grant's ear is evident from the fact that orders for books were repeatedly and urgently sent to Bengal and that, in this instance, Wilkins promptly submitted an estimate for "printing 200 Copies of each of the three Oriental Books immediately wanting for Professor Hamilton's class" and offered his services to superintend the work if it could be conducted under his eye in the East India Library. (24)
Sanskrit was initially a part of the curriculum for all students in the College. A list of Hamilton's lectures in the year 1809 shows that he taught two sections of Sanskrit twice a week, and gives a glimpse of his pedagogical principles:
--from ten to eleven in the forenoon, to a Sanscrit class composed of students, who came to college in August 1807 & January 1808, & are destined for Bengal. Having already studied the dialect of that suba, & the words being for the most part the same in all the Indian languages, their attention is chiefly directed to the rules of Sanscrit grammar ... On the first & third tuesday of every month, they read Bengalese instead of Sanscrit.
--from eleven to twelve, to a Sanscrit class composed of students who came to college in August 1807 & January 1808, & being destined for Madras & Bombay have not previously studied any Indian language, & consequently have both the words & the grammar to acquire. (25)
The discontinuity between languages taught at home and at Fort William was a problem. The initial compromise that had been made for students to proceed from one college to the other continued to chafe and worry staff. Professors at Fort William, who kept fearing that their college might be closed, were out to prove that the instruction provided at Haileybury was inadequate, while professors at home were keen to point out the success of their students and to establish that, if they enjoyed the same level of assistance by native instructors and a like abundance of materials, they would soon make instruction at Fort William dispensable. A sharp reaction greeted the publication of a London reprint of Governor General Minto's speech at Fort William College in 1810. (26) Hamilton's comments came in the form of a letter to Oriental Visitor Wilkins:
Having procured a copy of the Governor General's speech at the annual Examination of the college in Fort William, on the 15th of September 1810, I think it my duty to state the following observations, which if they meet with your approbation, I beg you will submit to the Honble the Committee of College.
Lord Minto is pleased in that speech to make some strictures on the Persian Department at this college, & to pass over mine in total silence. His Lordship's judgment is undoubtedly directed by the Professors of the College at Fort William, since he is not himself acquainted with the oriental languages...
It appears by the record of that Examination, that in a College munificently founded by the East India Company, for the cultivation of eastern languages, the most ancient, the most difficult, & the most useful, (if the facility it affords for acquiring all the others, be justly appretiated), is neither cultivated by the students, nor encouraged by the government. Notwithstanding the expence incurred by the East India Company in printing Sanscrit works, no student appears to have been examined in that language. My Lord Minto states his resolution not to admit of the departure from College, of any student who shall not have acquired two languages: yet as far as I can discover, Sanscrit is not even one of the languages, which entitles to that privilege. Those which I find enumerated are the Persian, Hindustani, Bengalese, Arabic & Mahratta.
I beg to mention that of the students who quitted Haileybury last year, several carried out a very considerable knowledge of Sanscrit, the result of much labor & assiduity, which they have ere this probably discovered will not entitle them to any academic distinction at Fort William. Others are about to leave this place, who may be considered as completely masters of it, as it is possible to become in this country. But against so great a discouragement it is in vain to expect that I should be able to contend. If the difficulties attending the study of this language be considered, it appears necessary to excite the diligence of the student by superior distinction, instead of depressing it by neglect. It seems clear that if the study is to be relinquished on the arrival of the student in India, it can be of no use to prosecute it here. When the students shall know, which by the publication of Lord Minto's speech, they must immediately, that progress in Sanscrit will neither entitle to distinction at the college , nor accelerate the term of leaving it, they will naturally be disposed to apply their attention to pursuits, by which both of these objects may be attained, at less expense of time & labor.
I am persuaded, Sir, you will coincide in opinion with me that the study of Sanscrit should be prosecuted in both colleges, (which I should prefer) or in neither, if my conjecture be right, I hope you will join me in recommending to the Honble Committee
1st That directions be sent to Bengal, for the prosecution of the study of the Sanscrit language at the college of Fort William.
2nd That a regular examination take place in it there, & the same honors be awarded to proficients, as in the other eastern languages.
3rd That it be one of the languages, in which a proficiency shall entitle the student to leave college.
I am anxious that these regulations, if approved, should be transmitted by the first ships, since the students about to quit this college will otherwise be deprived of the reward due to their talents & assiduity.
If it should not appear adviseable to the Honble Committee to adopt these suggestions, I would then propose that I be authorised to confine my lectures to instruction in the Bengalese. Undoubtedly a considerable additional proficiency would then be attained in that useful language, whilst the little attention that will otherwise be devoted to Sanscrit must prove reluctant, languid, & unproductive. Should the Honble Committee be disposed to prefer the latter alternative, I should propose that the study of Sanscrit be optional with the students, & that all those who may be disposed to engage in it shall give in their names to me, at the commencement of each term. But even if none should, I conceive that the instruction of 50 youths in Bengalese, the vernacular dialect of the country in which they are to reside, will not be considered as inadequate employment for one person, when the proficiency to which many of them attain is candidly appretiated. (27)
The Oriental Visitor, the Committee of College, and the Court of Directors concurred with Hamilton's representations. The Court's next directives to Bengal drew from his letter and from apparent additions by Wilkins:
Having incurred a very considerable expence in printing Elementary and other Sanscrit works, we feel some disappointment on perceiving that none of the Students in our College at Fort William had presented themselves for examination in that language. Independently of our wish to encourage generally the study of the literature of the Hindus as calculated to afford important elucidations of the customs manners and opinions of that people, a knowledge of which appears essentially requisite for those who make or execute the Laws by which they are to be governed we think that a language which affords such remarkable facilities for the acquisition of all the vernacular dialects of India is extremely deserving of the attention of our Servants.
We have reason to think that several of the Students from our College here have carried out a very considerable knowledge of Sanscrit according to the grammatical arrangement of Mr. Wilkins. We have to request therefore that examinations in that language may be instituted with a reference to Mr. Wilkins's Grammar, in which they are conversant, that honorary distinctions be awarded for success in that study, and that Sanscrit be considered as one of the Languages, a knowledge of any two of which, entitles the student to leave our College at Fort William and to commence his official career. (28)
In his last address to Fort William College, Minto dilated on the subject of Sanskrit, its importance, but the difficulties attendant to its study, and its lesser applicability to the demands of routine civil service, and he offered a compromise of sorts:
it has been thought advisable to postpone beyond the period of academical study, the encouragement offered by this Government, in conformity with the enlightened views of the Honourable Court of Directors, to the acquisition of Arabic and Sanscrit. These rewards are intentionally withheld from Students not yet released from College, and are reserved for the voluntary labour of studious men already engaged in the active employments of office. (29)
There would be neither a requirement nor prizes for the study of Sanskrit at Fort William, nor would Sanskrit count as one of the languages a knowledge of which would entitle students to graduate, but "high pecuniary rewards" were offered to public servants who pursued classical knowledge in later years. So rewarded, as "the first result of [this] interesting experiment," were two of the College's brightest alumni: James C. C. Sutherland, who had been examined in Sanskrit and Hindu law, and Henry T. Prinsep in Arabic and Islamic law. (30) Both had come to Fort William from Haileybury.
New regulations for language study at Haileybury were issued in 1814, which made Sanskrit optional for all. Students bound for Bengal and Bombay were no longer required to begin the study of Sanskrit, but were encouraged to do so in addition to the languages the study of which was mandatory. Only students bound for Madras were required to begin the study of Sanskrit, but the regulations granted Hamilton the power to dismiss, and to redirect to Persian or Hindustani, those students whose talents in Sanskrit he considered to be madequate. (31) Hamilton and Stewart were differently situated with regard to the difficulty of teaching several languages--in addition to lecturing on the cultures and institutions of India. While Hamilton taught Sanskrit and Bengali all on his own, Stewart had long been assisted by two maulavis. After the death of Maulavi Abdul Ali in 1813, and at a time when instructors for South Indian languages were expected soon to join the College staff, Stewart had recommended that the position not be filled. Hamilton had concurred with his colleague's recommendation and with his decision, considering the little time allotted to language study at the College, "to direct the attention of the students to the Persic and Indian Sources of the Hindoostany, rather than to that language itself, convinced that without a knowledge of the former the Hindoostany can never be acquired to any degree of perfection, & that with a competent acquaintance with them, it may be attained with facility & expedition after their arrival in India." (32) Even though Hamilton did not apply a like principle to instruction in Bengali, he certainly agreed that classical languages were foundational, and he was willing to let Stewart, who was first and foremost a scholar of Persian, manage instruction in Hindustani on such a basis. Yet, after the issuance of new regulations in 1814, the two Oriental professors issued a joint request for assistance:
The number of students ... nominated to the College [since the death of Maulavi Abdul Ali] has very considerably exceeded the average, whilst the measures proposed for the instruction of the Madras Servants in the Peninsular dialects have been relinquished, and the study of the Sanscrit substituted in their room for those students whose talents or assiduity afford a prospect of success, whilst those found to be incapable of the attainment of that language are thrown upon the Persian and Hindoostany departments to the great annoyance of those Classes. The Sanscrit and Bengal Languages have hitherto been taught by one person, but the great additional labour thus thrown upon him, really disqualified him from discharging his duty to his own satisfaction, notwithstanding his most zealous endeavours and his devoting to it the whole of his time. (33)
Richard C. Glyn, an alumnus of both Haileybury and Fort William, whom they recommended as capable of being of help in both of their departments, was appointed in 1815 as an assistant for Bengali and Persian. (34)
Hamilton freely exercised the latitude the new regulations gave him both to recruit the best and the brightest for his Sanskrit classes and to dismiss those whose performance he judged unsatisfactory. His colleague Stewart noted that "[a]ltho' all the Madras Students commence Sanscrit, not more than half of them persevere in it." (35) One of the reasons Stewart adduced when responding to constant criticisms from Fort William about the low level of proficiency Haileybury students achieved in Hindustani was "[i]ts being forced to give way to Sanskreet & Bengalese, whenever they come in contact, and the students rejected from the former class, for Stupidity or Idleness being transferred to it." (36) Upon Stewart's representations, and with Wilkins' concurrence, that Maulavi Mirza Kalil was unequal to the task on his own and that an additional European assistant was needed to teach Hindustani, Lieutenant (later Sir) Graves C. Haughton was added to Stewart's department. (37) At the same time, Glyn's contributions were restricted to Hamilton's department. Stewart's objections to this new arrangement throw an interesting--however jaundiced--light on the composition and management of Sanskrit classes at Haileybury in 1817:
I have had the honor to receive the orders of the College Committee of the 11th Inst. appointing Lieut. Haughton to be an Assistant in my department & confining Mr. Glyn exclusively to Mr. Hamilton's.
It is by no means my intention to cavil at this or any other arrangement of the Honble Committee, as it is possible, that the Oriental Visitor to whom I understand is was referred, had reasons for recommending it, with which I am unacquainted.
I however think it due to myself to lay before the Committee a Statement of the number of Students in each department, viz.
Studying Sanskrit 16 -- Bengalese 34 Total 50 Studying Persian 71 -- Hindoostany 55 -- Arabic 10 Total 136
But as by the 2nd Article of the 9th Section of the Regulations, the Madras Students who after a trial of Two months, are not found to make an adequate progress in Sanscrit are to be transferred to the Hindoostany language, I have little doubt that in a very short period, some of the persons in the former class will be transferred to the latter, which will make the relative proportion of the two departments nearly as Three to One.
I have long felt the inconvenience of the above Regulation, which not only depreciates the value of the Hindoostany language in the eyes of all the students, but burthens it with all the dull or idle persons in the College, some of whom having been employed for Two months in Sanscrit, while their contemporaries were advancing in Hindoostany, must, when transferred to the latter, constitute a new class & thus occupy one of the hours each Oriental day of the Instructor.
The number of persons rejected from the Sanscrit Class, independent of several who never commenced it from conscious inability, since the regulation in 1814, have been Eighteen, not one of whom have made much progress in Hindoostany...
I therefore beg leave to submit to the Honbie Committee, whether it would not be advisable to devise some means of having one of the Madras languages taught here, with the Persian, and till a better mode can be adopted take the liberty to suggest, that Mr. Hamilton or Mr. Glyn be solicited to turn his attention to the Mahratta language, of which there are both Grammar & Dictionaries in the Library, and which by its affinity to the Sanscrit and Bengalese aided by the Superior abilities of these Gentlemen may easily be attained, & that they be requested to commence teaching it, as soon as possible to all the Madras students, who do not learn Sanscrit. This measure would relieve the Hindoostany department from a heavy burthen & be of real utility to the young men. (38)
Haughton, who was appointed at first to teach Hindustani, had superb credentials in a number of languages. Having gone to India in the military service, he was not a graduate of Haileybury, but he had been a stellar student at Fort William, where he had won medals in Sanskrit, Persian, and Arabic, as well as in Hindustani. (39) When Hamilton retired in May 1818, Haughton applied to succeed him. The homage he paid the man to whom he had not been an assistant, but whom he sought to replace, gives a sense of the impact Hamilton had on Haileybury:
It is at all times difficult to succeed a man of established reputation; but the whole range of my experience does not afford an example of an individual, whom it would he more difficult to equal, whether we look to the exactness of his knowledge, or the happy manner he possesses of conveying it to others, and this observation is best corroborated by the very uncommon success that has uniformly attended his classes; as much arising from these causes as from the intense application he has made to the advancement of his scholars, it having been his uniform practice to devote nearly every hour in the week to their progress. (40)
After his appointment to succeed Hamilton, Haughton, who had devoted himself primarily to Arabic, Persian, and Hindustani while in India, turned his attention to Sanskrit and Bengali. Following in the footsteps of his predecessor, and with his support, Haughton immediately set himself to produce a series of works for the use of his students. (41)
Hamilton's retirement coincided with the founding of the first chair of Sanskrit in Germany, of which the first incumbent, August Wilhelm Schiegel, was the brother of Hamilton's principal disciple during Hamilton's internment in France. (42) Schlegel's interest in Sanskrit literature, and that of Leonard de Chezy, the holder of the first chair of Sanskrit on the continent of Europe, owed much to Hamilton's inspiration. Yet their positions as professors of Sanskrit in prime institutions of higher learning differed significantly from Hamilton's at a college instituted to train the civil servants of the East India Company. In Paris and in Bonn, Sanskrit was a subject of literary curiosity offered to future members of the cultural and intellectual elite. At Haileybury, Sanskrit was part of a program for civil servants bound for India. A badge of honor for the gifted and studious few, the study of Sanskrit was not required of all students, as that of Persian was. Alumni who went on to the College of Fort William were not entitled to rewards for proficiency in Sanskrit, nor were they allowed to use it as a qualification for graduation as was the case with Persian and the vernaculars. Sanskrit was rewarded only as an individual scholarly pursuit for employed administrators, whether or not they had been first instructed at Haileybury. Survivors brought their stock of knowledge to Britain only on their retirement. In Britain, Sanskrit long remained viewed as an abstruse pursuit by a few former members of the civil or military service of the East India Company who had turned Indophiles. When the Boden chair was created at Oxford twenty-six years after Sanskrit began being taught at East India College, its first incumbent, Horace H. Wilson, had not been trained in the West, but owed most of his knowledge to private study with Indian pandits. (43) Neither had Graves C. Haughton, by then retired as the second professor of Sanskrit at Haileybury, who withdrew his candidacy for the Boden chair in favor of Wilson, been initiated to Sanskrit in England. Monier Monier-Williams, who was elected in 1860 as the second Boden Professor, was a Haileybury alumnus, but one who, by some twist of fate, had not proceeded to India as he was expected to do. He was also Haileybury's last professor of Sanskrit, until East India College was closed in 1858.
(1.) See Rosane Rocher, "Sanskrit: Discovery by Europeans," Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, ed. R. E. Asher et al. (Oxford: Pergamon, 1994), 7: 3651-54; rpt. as "The Discovery of Sanskrit by Europeans," Concise History of the Language Sciences: From the Sumerians to the Cognitivists, ed. E. F. K. Koerner and R. E. Asher (Oxford: Elsevier Science, 1995), 188-91.
(2.) For various takes on the struggle between Wellesley and the Court of Directors led by Charles Grant, see C. H. Philips, The East India Company 1784-1834 (Manchester: Manchester Univ. Press, 1940; rpt. 1961), 125-30; Ainslee T. Embree, Charles Grant and British Rule in India (London: Allen & Unwin, 1962), 186-201; and David Kopf, British Orientalism and the Bengal Renaissance: The Dynamics of Indian Modernization 1773-1835 (Berkeley and Los Angeles: Univ. of California Press, 1969), 129-36.
(3.) For general surveys of Haileybury College, see Frederick C. Danvers, Monier Monier-Williams, et al., Memorials of Old Haileybury College (Westminster: Constable and Co., 1894); A. Lawrence Lowell, Colonial Civil Service: The Selection and Training of Colonial Officials in England, Holland, and France, with an Account of the East India College at Haileybury (1806-1857) (New York: Macmillan, 1900), 267-346; and Bernard S. Cohn, "The Recruitment and Training of British Civil Servants in India, 1600-1860" (1966), repr. in Bernard S. Cohn, An Anthropologist among the Historians and Other Essays (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1987), 526-53.
(4.) "A Preliminary View of the Establishment of the Honourable East-India Company in Hertfordshire for the Education of Young Persons appointed to the Civil Service in India" (East-India College, 1806), 6, 8.
(5.) Minutes and Reports of Committee of College, August 6, 1806 (British Library: India Office Records [henceforth IOR] J/2/1, 150-51).
(6.) Letters of January 13, and of June 27 and July 2, 1806 (IOR J/1/21, 419-20, 423-31).
(7.) Letter of Major-General William N. Cameron of January 4, 1806 (IOR J/1/21, 421-22).
(8.) On the confusion about Hamilton's first name in this and other records, see Rosane Rocher, Alexander Hamilton (1762-1824): A Chapter in the Early History of Sanskrit Philology, American Oriental Series, vol. 51 (New Haven: American Oriental Society, 1968), 65-66. The present article adds significantly to the information then uncovered about Hamilton's activities at East India College. For other additions to Hamilton's biography, see Rosane Rocher, "New Data for the Biography of the Orientalist Alexander Hamilton," JAOS 90 (1970) 426-48, and Rosane Rocher and Michael E. Scorgie, "A Family Empire: The Alexander Hamilton Cousins, 1750-1830," The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 23 (1995): 189-210.
(9.) Richard Johnson was a founding member of the Asiatic Society. Colonel William Kirkpatrick was a prominent member of the Asiatic Society and former professor of Persian at Fort William.
(10.) On Hamilton's years in Paris, see Rocher, Hamilton, 34-63.
(11.) Letter of April 7, 1806 (IOR J/1/21, 401-2).
(12.) The Proceedings of the Asiatic Society: Volume I 1784-1800, ed. Sibadas Chaudhuri (Calcutta: The Asiatic Society, 1980) show that Grant and Hamilton jointly attended eight meetings from 1787 to 1789. Attendance at these meetings ranged from six to a rare high of twenty-three for an anniversary session.
(13.) "Report of the Committee appointed to enquire into the plan for forming an establishment at home for the education of young men intended for the Company's Civil Service in India, 26 October 1804" (IOR J/2/1, 2-16), printed in Anthony Farrington, The Records of the East India College Haileybury & Other Institutions (London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1976), 18. Grant was commonly known to be the architect and driving force for this project.
(14.) IOR J/2/1, 150-51.
(15.) Proceedings of August 27, 1806 (IOR J/3/1, pages unnumbered).
(16.) IOR J/1/21, 454. Arabist and statesman Antoine Isaac, baron Silvestre de Sacy was the most celebrated Oriental scholar in France at that time. Besides the support of fellow scholars, Hamilton also benefited from the intercession of his American first cousin and namesake with Talleyrand (see Rocher and Scorgie, 201-2).
(17.) IOR J/1/21, 481.
(18.) Oriental Visitor Wilkins put it plainly in a memo of October 24, 1816: "The Oriental Department consists of two Divisions, the Hindu and the Muhammedan. In the former are taught the Sanskrit & the Bengali Languages, and in the latter are professed to be taught the Arabick, the Persian, and the Hindustani" (IOR J/1/19, 464). On the disposition of languages at Fort William, see Kopf, 50-51, 162-66, and Sisir Kumar Das, Sahibs and Munshis: An Account of the College of Fort William (Calcutta: Orion, 1978), 36-59.
(19.) See Rocher, Hamilton, 72-80.
(20.) At the annual distribution of prizes and medals, which the Chairman, Deputy Chairman, and College Committee of the East India Company attended (see "A Preliminary View," 11).
(21.) The grammars were copies of Wilkins' just published work. The edition of the Hitopadesa was Hamilton's own. The dictionaries expected from India were copies of Henry T. Colebrooke's just published edition of the Amarakosa. A list of hooks Hamilton needed for use in his classes had been transmitted to India on March 2, 1808 (see Hamilton's letters of December 2, 1808 and of December 1809 to Thomas W. Rundall, secretary of the College Committee, IOR J/1/23, 438, J/1/24, 539). A further request, submitted in May 1810, just after Grant temporarily ceased to be at the helm of Company affairs, was curtailed on the grounds that "all the works mentioned by Mr. Hamilton do not appear to be necessary, but those only, which are elementary; [and] that the Sanscrit press [of the East India Library] will very shortly be able to supply many of those which are requisite" (IOR J/2/1, 531, quoted in Rocher, Hamilton, 72). The Court of Directors was then scrutinizing College accounts and expenditures of various kinds (IOR J/1/25, 336, 341-45, 362-67). Yet another, urgent request for a fuller Sanskrit dictionary was sent to Bengal in 1816, when Grant was again EIC Chairman. It prompted immediate government support for Horace H. Wilson's Dictionary, Sanskrit and English (1819, see Kopf, 168).
(22.) Then East India Company Chairman Edward Parry.
(23.) IOR J/1/24, 310-11.
(24.) Letter of February 1, 1809 to Edward Parry (IOR J/1/24, 333). See also the resolution of the Court of Directors on January 16, 1809, to solicit information from Wilkins and from the Madras government (IOR J/2/1, 318, quoted in Rocher, Hamilton, 72).
(25.) Attachment to a letter to Thomas W. Rundall read in the Committee of College on December 21, 1809 (IOR J/1/24, 539-41). Hamilton's emphasis on vocabulary made him equate "Indian" languages with "Hindu" languages, or languages native to India, in this context.
(26.) Public Disputations of the Students at the College of Fort William in Bengal, before the Rt. Hon. Lord Minto together with His Lordship's Discourse, 15th September, 1810 (Calcutta, rpt. London: Black, Parry and Kingsbury, 1811).
(27.) Letter of April 6, 1811 (IOR J/l/26, 353-54). His colleague Stewart's response to Minto's speech angled for Hamilton's reassignment to help with the teaching of Persian: "I take the liberty of remarking, that while a great portion of the time allotted to Oriental study in this College, is by the Clever students devoted to Sanscrit, there does not appear to be a single student of that abstruse language in the Whole College of Fort William, whereby, not only the valuable time of the young men, but also that of my learned Colleague, whose various talents enable him equally well to teach Persian, has been thrown away" (letter of March 28, 1811, to Grant [IOR J/l/26, 349]).
(28.) Public Letter to Bengal of May 22, 1811 (IOR H/489, 156-57).
(29.) Public Disputations of the Students at the College of Fort William, in Bengal, before the Rt. Hon. Lord Minto, together with His Lordship's Discourse, 20th September, 1813 (Calcutta; rpt. London: Black, Parry, and Co., 1814). 23-24.
(30.) Ibid., 24, 28; see also Kopf, 105. The first declamation in Sanskrit at Fort William dates back to the same year 1813 (see Das, 153).
(31.) Statutes and Regulations framed and enacted by the Authorities specified in the Act of Parliament 53 Geo. III. cap. 155 (East India College, 1814, 9-10), quoted in Rocher, Hamilton, 66-67. In 1813 the Court of Directors had sought to bring from India persons who might be able to teach South Indian languages, but the Board of Control denied their request (see, e.g., IOR J/1/28, 376-77, J/1/29, 478, J/1/30, 387).
(32.) Letter of November 1813 from Stewart, countersigned by Hamilton (IOR J/1/28, 376-77). At the same time, the two scholars recommended against the publication of a grammar of Hindustani by Mir Hasan Ali, the munshi of the East India Company's military seminary at Addiscombe, who was a candidate for the position at Haileybury (IOR J/1/28, 374-75). All joint letters from the two Oriental Professors to the Committee of College were written by Stewart and countersigned by Hamilton.
(33.) Letter of December 3, 1814 (IOR J/1/30, 387).
(34.) Memos of 1816 and 1820 on the State of the College's Oriental Department (IOR J/1/19, 464, J/1/35, 267-70).
(35.) Letter of March 28, 1816, to Oriental Visitor Wilkins (IOR J/1/31, 197). Stewart counted that five students had been discharged from the Sanskrit class in September 1814, and eight in April 1815.
(36.) Letter of April 7, 1816, to John Lloyd, secretary of the College Committee (JOR J/1/31, 212).
(37.) Letter from Stewart of April 7, 1816, Haughton's application of September 27, 1816, Wilkins' memo of October 24, 1816, and memo of 1820 on the state of the Oriental Department (IOR J/1/31, 212-15, J/1/32, 40-61, J/1/19, 464-66, J/1/35, 267-70).
(38.) Letter of March 13, 1817 (IOR J/1/32, 234).
(39.) See the documents and testimonials in support of his candidacy (IOR J/1/32, 40-61) and Kopf, 105.
(40.) Letter of May 15, 1818 (IOR J/1/33, 220). Hamilton's final resignation was dated May 2 (J/1/33, 217-18). At the request of the East India Company Chairman, he had stayed for a semester beyond the date at which he originally planned to retire (J/2/3, 91-92, quoted in Rocher, Hamilton, 69-70). Glyn had gone back to India at the end of 1817. The vacancy had not been filled, pending a decision on Hamilton's succession (memo of 1820 on the state of the Oriental Department, IOR J/1/35, 267-70).
(41.) See Haughton's letter of May 1, 1820, seeking East India Company support for a Bengali dictionary, with an enclosed recommendation by Hamilton, dated April 27 (IOR J/1/35, 286-90).
(42.) On Hamilton's private instruction of Friedrich Schiegel in Paris, see Rocher, Hamilton, 44-52.
(43.) Wilson was not the first to teach Sanskrit at a British university. The German scholar Friedrich Rosen had been the founding professor of Sanskrit at the University College of London, which opened its doors in 1828. He was first in a Long series of German Sanskritists who were to teach in Britain. The tension between German scholars trained in the West and British scholars who were introduced to Sanskrit in India was first publicly vented on the occasion of the founding of the Boden chair (see A. W. Schlegel's "Reflexions sur l'etude des langues asiatiques, addressees a Sir James Mackintosh, suivies d'une lettre a M. Horace Hayman Wilson" [1832, repr. in Oeuvres ecrites en francais, ed. Edouard Bocking, Leipzig: Wiedmann, 1846,3: 212-41226-731]) Further unpleasantness occurred in 1860, when the second election was held for the Boden chair, which Monier Monier-Williams and Friedrich Marx Muller hotly contested.
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Title Annotation:||Sanskrit instruction in Great Britain|
|Publication:||The Journal of the American Oriental Society|
|Date:||Apr 1, 2002|
|Next Article:||Kharosti and Brahmi.|