תמונות בעמוד

letters in either language, he will be fully satisfied of this superiority. He will find that while the acquisition of the Bengali or Nágarí alphabet, will occupy a pupil from two to three months, another pupil of equal capacity and application will acquire the Roman alphabet in less than as many weeks ; and that while in the Native alphabets referred to, the reader for months longer will be stumbling at the occurrence of some compound, with which he is but little acquainted, in the English, as now applied to the Indian languages, the pupil knows no difficulties of the kind.

The advantages above enumerated must be considered as important in the propagation of knowledge of all kinds. But there are one or two others which appear highly important to the Christian Church, in its grand attempt to introduce into this vast heathen country the blessed light of the glorious Gospel ; and to these I wish particularly to direct the attention of such of your readers as feel an interest in the immortal interests of their Hindu brethren.

1. It offers remarkable facilities for the religious instruction of classes of society otherwise inaccessible to the missionary. It is a fact, that in this character the children of the most bigotted Hindus may be readily taught what they could not be taught in their own. It has been remarked by the most observant teachers of native boys, that they who have learned to read English think and speak on religious subjects in that language what it seems they dare not, cannot think and speak in their own. Now this is exactly the case in regard to Bangálí books in the English character. It occurred only very lately, that two most respectable Hindu gentlemen (one of whom is a leading member of the bigotted DharmaSabhá), who would never have thought of putting into a school a word spoken by, or written about Christ in the Bangálí character, proposed of their own accord to put the Romanized version of the Sermon on the Mount (or “ Instruction by Christ," as it is called) into the school with which they are connected. They seemed to feel conscious, that if they introduced this book in the Bangálí character, some opposing bigot, frightened at the name of Jesus, and not perusing his inimitable discourses, would interfere and raise against them, however unjustly, the indignation of their countrymen! but that if in the English character, the introduction of the work would be regarded as quite indifferent : and since it is requisite in the acquisition of a foreign character (as of the English language) to read the books usually employed, no scruple would be raised on the subject, till that scruple was itself overcome by the excellence of the work to which it related. Now, as we know the paramount influ. ence of sentiments impressed on the minds of youth, and as for many years the circle of those who will learn their own language in the new character must be immeasurably greater than that of those who learn a foreign language like the English, it seems that by this plan Providence has supplied your Missionary readers with a powerful instrument for benefitting the bigotted part of the Hindu population, which it becomes their duty most diligently to employ.

2. There is also another consideration well deserving the attention of Bible and Missionary Societies. It furnishes the agents of both with new and most important facilities for the promotion of their labour.

A letter was lately received from an intelligent Missionary in the Bombay Presidency, well acquainted with the Native languages in that part of India ; in which he says, that when he was in Bangal, he brought round with him many books in different dialects of this Presidency, and if the characters had been alike, he should have easily mastered all, so as to make out the meaning of a passage as needed. He says, however, that the variety of character had rendered his progress so slow, that he had hitherto mastered only the Bangálí. “ Send me,” he says, "all you print in the Roman character in all your dialects, and I am persuaded that in this case I shall be able to understand a text in Bangáli, Hinduí, Oriyá, &c. as readily as now I can Maráthí.” To a translator of the sacred Scriptures, who is anxious, in order to perfect his version in one language, to see what words or phrases have been used by preceding translators in all the other Indian languages, what an amazing advantage will be afforded when he has the opportunity of doing it without learning a new character, or being vexed or delayed by the innumerable letters, simple and compound, which otherwise must be acquired, ere the sense of a passage in any dialect can be ascertained.

Again, as all the languages of India become expressed in one character, the letters in each having the same exact sound, what a noble thing it will be for a Missionary, acquainted only with one language, (be it Bangálí, Oriya, Hindui or Hindusthání) to read intelligibly and correctly the sacred Scriptures and tracts in all these languages, when called to itinerate in the country ; or when having at his own station, or different religious festivals, to converse with strangers, or others acquainted with these languages. He may thus excite attention, may prompt inquiry, and may create an interest in his efforts, leading to the salvation of many souls.

It should be remembered too, that there is a large class of nominal Christians in the country, for which our Bible, Tract, and School Book Societies have hitherto made no provision*. We refer particularly to the descendants of the Portuguese and other Europeans; many of whom, though familiar with the spoken languages of the country, are unable to read them, and whose limited acquaintance with English renders it impossible for them to understand the meaning of books in that language. Let religious and other works, in what may be called their mother-tongue, be presented to them in

* We are happy to report, that for the religious improvement of this class, the Church Missionary Society are engaged in printing, in the Roman characters, the Rev, Mr. Bowley's Hinduí Hymn Book ; besides the New Testament both in U'rdú and Hinduí, which is being printed at the Baptist Mission Press.

the English character, and they will be very soon able to read them with ease and profit. At present the Bible, whether in English or the Native language, is to them a sealed book, and so it is likely to remain, until those who love the Scriptures shall come forward to remove the seal, and open the sacred treasure, by presenting its contents clothed in a letter with which they are acquainted, or a knowledge of which they may very soon acquire.

The above advantages (besides others which must be omitted through fear of being tedious) are so important to the intellectual, moral, and religious improvement of the millions of India, that I feel persuaded your readers will now proceed with interest to the second inquiry,

2. Is the Roman alphabet a suitable medium for the representation of Indian words; and especially can all the letters of every dialect in India, great in number and diversified in shape as they are, be expressed in this character? We

e answer unhesitatingly in the affirmative. The Roman, as originally applied to this object by the learned Sir W. Jones, and modified, as proposed in your pages, is admirably adapted to this purpose, and in it all the letters of the numerous languages of Asia may be most readily and correctly expressed. With regard to the Hindusthání, Hindui, Bangáli, Oriya, and Burman languages this is no longer a plausible theory :—it is positive matter of fact, Printed pages in all these languages now lie before me, and afford most satisfactory evidence that the Roman letter is equal to every exigency :--and it has afforded the friends of the system great satisfaction, since they were led to advocate this scheme, to perceive that the American Missionaries had before adopted precisely the same system to express the language of the Sandwich Íslands. This remarkable coincidence, (which is more particularly dwelt on in a paper on the subject by Mr. Trevelyan, which was originally published in the HARK A'RA, and copied in the JOURNAL of the Asiatic Society for September,) affords most satisfactory evidence, that the system is in a peculiar degree adapted to the power of speech, as possessed in common by natives of the remotest climes, and is therefore well adapted to form a character destined by degrees to become universal. Your readers need not be informed that next to a universal language, a universal character, by removing nearly one-half the difficulties of his task, promises to a philanthropist the most glorious results. I therefore proceed to our 3rd inquiry,

Can an alteration so radical and extensive as the substitution of the Roman for all the oriental characters be anticipated in any reasonable time?

To this I would reply, nearly verbatim in the words of a writer in the LITERARY GAZETI E.

1st. This change has been effected throughout almost all the nations of Europe. Excepting some of them who use the Greek,

Russian, and German characters, all have successively surren. dered their original alphabets to that of Rome. They were governed or protected by the Romans, and the latter were their superiors in all kinds of knowledge. Now, as almost all the nations of Hindusthan stand in exactly the same relation to the British, and are deriving from them the same civil and intellectual advantages, which the nations of Europe did from the Romans, why should they not follow the example of the latter, and relinquish their respective alphabets for that of the English ?

2nd. Many Natives of Hindusthan have also but lately relinquished their original alphabets for that of their more powerful or better informed neighbours. Not to mention the numerous thousands in Hindusthan who have adopted the Persian character, and the vast multitudes in the Malay Islands who have adopted the Arabic one, the Assamese, in our immediate neighbourhood, have lately discarded their own alphabet for the Bangáli, and the hill tribes in the frontier of Naipál for the Nágarí ; and why should not the Bangális and Hindusthánis in their turn do the same, when the corresponding advantages are confessedly equal ?

3rd. The present attempt to introduce the Roman character has met with unexampled success. Only six months since, when the system now adopted was proposed to be used in gradual supercession of all the Native alphabets, not more than four individuals were friendly to the plan ; while it had to contend with that large class of society who dislike all innovation, and that still larger one who dislike all trouble. Yet amidst the opposition of many, and the apathy of more, it has steadily progressed. Every body who has acquired this system has become its advocate. At various stations between Calcutta and Dihlí, and even beyond the latter place, numerous gentlemen have declared themselves its friends. Christian clergy men and laymen, with Hindu and Mahammadan priests, teachers, and gentlemen, are engaged in preparing elementary books for publication. Various such works have already been printed in Bangáli, Hinduí, and Hindusthání; publications in Persian and Burman are passing through the press ; and applications have been received to execute works in Oriyá. The system has been gradually introduced into schools in this city and elsewhere, both under Native and European superintendence; and at Dihlí, 300 of the college pupils are become quite familiar with it, while hundreds of the most respectable people have acquired it : indeed it is now so popular that Native authors are preparing works, which it is confidently expected will secure by their sale a profit, both to the editor and printer. Let the system proceed in this manner but six months longer, and its gradual establishment and general prevalence throughout India, with but moderate exertion on the part of its friends, may be considered as settled.


VII.-The Bodies and Souls of Men, the Objects of Christian

To the Editors of the Christian Observer.

We have often heard and read of “ Walks of Usefulness," and I make no doubt that many of the readers of the Christian Observer have often known something of “ the luxury of doing good” to the bodies, if not to the souls, of their fellow men. It is not, however, improbable, that some, while they have felt the pleasure of relieving the pain, or otherwise admi. nistering to the temporal necessities, of their fellow creatures, have felt regret, that they could do little or nothing towards relieving their spiritual wants. Permit me, through your pages, to bring to the notice of such, a plan, by which both may be happily combined, and from which the best results may be confidently anticipated ;-men's temporal necessities will be relieved, and provision made to supply the still more pressing and appal. ling wants of their immortal souls.

Many persons are in the habit of distributing periodically small portions of rice, &c., to the poor, of whom there are but too many in circumstances to make the pittance thus given, a boon very gladly and thankfully receiv. ed. On such occasions, great numbers of the poor, the halt, the blind, are drawn together to partake of the bread that perisheth. The plan, to which I refer, superadds to this distribution of rice, cowries, &c., the proclamation of the Gospel message of Salvation, by which means an excellent opportunity is embraced of making known the Word of Life, to very many who are not otherwise likely to hear it.

This plan was acted on formerly by the excellent Henry Martyn, and subsequently by the late Mr.' Adam of Kiddirpúr, by whom the writer was recommended to try it, which he did some two or three years ago, and has continued ever since, but necessarily on a limited scale, though from 150 to 250 persons are brought together every week, many of whom listen with much attention to the Word of Life.

In Calcutta, it has been acted on for a considerable time by Mr. P. Lin. deman. For a long time he went on single-handed, administering in this way, to the bodily wants of the poor, so far as his own resources would allow; and at the same time, taking care that the unsearchable riches of Christ should be preached to them, and that they should be directed to Him for the bread which endureth to life everlasting. Latterly, a few friends, among whom I am happy to say are some benevolent Natives, having become acquainted with the nature of his exertions, have liberally come forward with their contributions, to enable him to meet the expenses of an extension of his plan. The consequence is, that his weekly congregation has increased from upwards of 200 to about 700 persons. These come, it is true, for the pittance of rice : but to relieve the bodies of the poor, is a Christian duty ; while to endeavour to make them“ wise to salvation," is a still more imperious obligation lying on the declared followers of Christ : every opportunity should therefore be embraced to discharge it, and to tell those of Christ who know him not. Should any, by the blessing of God on these benevolent exer. tions, learn the value of Christ, they will then come to hear of him, rather than to obtain a morsel of rice: or become regular attendants on those places of worship where the Gospel is preached, and the Bread of Life distri. buted to such as feel their spiritual necessities.

Probably, there are among the readers of the Christian Observer, some who, not able to give religious instruction themselves, will yet feel a pleasure in enabling, by pecuniary contributions, Mr. L. or others, to enlarge their prospects of usefulness, by giving a small portion of rice to a greater number of poor persons than can be now supplied.


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