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Mr. W. H. MACNAGHTEN could not help expressing his astonishment, at the observations which had been made by the gentleman who hadjust sat down. He had hoped that in this place at least, oriental literature would have found protection and favor : that, however ruthlessly and successfully the opposition to this cause might have manifested itself in other quarters ; here, at least, no enemy would be permitted to enter under the garb of a votary, and that this sanctuary of science might not be polluted by any unhallowed voicel Now he was tempted to exclaim, Procul, O procul esle profani ! When he heard a gentleman coming forward with such an objection as has been made, he could not help ascribing it to something more than a dislike to the epithet. What expression could possibly have been used more innocent or more appropriate P Here was the factbefore them, that the funds dedicated to oriental literature had been entirely carried off ; that works of all descriptions, scientific as well as others, had been strangled in the very act of coming into the world, and thrown aside as useless and pernicious; and after all this, when they said that the authors of this to them grievous calamity were actuated by another favorite object, they were taken to task for the expression. He really wanted words to express hisgurprise at such a frivolous objection being urged, and he trusted the Society would evince the same sense of it as he entertained, that it was wholly unworthy of being attended to.
Mr. CoLviN's proposition was not seconded.
Mr. PBINSEP, thought that the terms ‘ deeply regret‘ were not nearly strong enough to show the sentiments of the Society—he would suggest ‘ cannol see the necessity’ as more appropriate.
This expression after some discussion was substituted.
On the perusal of the 12th paragraph, which stood originally as follows :
“ The Society therefore earnestly beseech the Honorable the Governor General in Council, that he will be pleased to solicit pecuniary aid from the Court of Bi. rectors, to be annually appropriated to the revival of the oriental literature, and the encouragement of learned natives, and the Society will be happy to undertake the superintendence, &c.”
Mr. H. T. Pamsae moved as an amendment, that the sentence be altered, (as it now stands in the memorial,) to convey a stronger expression of the Society's feeling on the recent measure.
Mr. COLVIN said, that he must oppose the amendment. He took the liberty of again addressing the meeting, as he was desirous to record his opinion on the question which had now been brought under discussion. He would not enter into an argument on the point of law which had been mooted. He had himself always considered, and still considered, the orders of the Government to be fully consistent both with the terms and the spirit of the act of Parliament. He must think it difficult to believe, that the legislature, in the first, and only specific appropriation which it had made with a view to the mental advancement of the Indian people, had intended not to entrust to the Government, to which it has committed the immediate control of these territories, the discretion of applying the fund as it might judge most expedient and practicable, in order to the cultivation of the most improved literature, and the communication of the most enlightened systems of knowledge, which its subjects might be found willing to receive at its hands. It appeared to him a strange conclusion, that it had been meant by the British Parliament to render compulsory the maintenance of a system calculated to perpetuate the ignorance and prejudices of the people-tlrat it had been designed to fetter this Government and to restrain it from measures of improvement. But he had said, that he would not go into a discussion of the point of law. He would rather state what he considered to be the duty of the Society in regard to the address which was now to be presented. Was it proper, he would ask,—was it respectful, in going up to Government as applicants for its assistance, that they should assert, by implication, that it had, in its late measure, deviated from its proper course? Was that a subject which the Society ought to entertain at all ? Further, he would urge that it would certainly be most disadvantageous for their own purpose, were they, in appealing to the liberality of Government, to express in any manner disapprobation of its proceedings. Looking only to the motive of securing the success of the application which they were about to make, he would say, omit in the address all and every topic of controversy. The Government, in receiving an address such as was now proposed, would appear called upon to vote its own condemnation. He would, on these grounds, give his voice against the amendment.
Mr. MACNAGHTEN again rose, and spoke to the following eflect :
Mr. PRESIDENT, we have been assured by Mr. Coi.viN more than once, that he is no lawyer. He could not have asserted with equal truth, that he is no preacher, for he has favoured us with a very lengthy discourse on our duties, both to the Government and the people. But I must take the liberty of differing with him altogether, as to the doctrines he has propounded. We are an independent, and I trust, a respectable body, congregated for the purpose of promoting by every means in our power the cause of literature and science. As the guardians of that sacred cause, it is not only our privilege, but our duty to appeal, respectfully it is true, but earnestly, to that pow r which is competent to rescue it from impending danger. I would go furthe and say, that if the Government could be so infatuated as to declare open hostility against the languages and literature of the people of India, it would be an obligation, of which we could not divest ourselves without disgrace, to remonstrate against such a proceeding with all our energies. If we think we have the law as well as the justice of the case on our side, no liberal, no equitable Government would be offended by our pointing it out.—Mr. Convm has again returned to the ground which be first took up, and has indulged in the use of slighting and contemptuous language as applied to oriental studies. He has moreover asserted, that such sentiments are entertained by the natives themselves. Gentlemen, I have now been resident in this country upwards of twenty-six years, and, I believe, I may say, that I have not been deficient in my attention to the genius of the people, their languages, their literature, their habits, or their prejudices, and I will venture to affirm, that nothing can be more without foundation than the supposition which Mr. Convm appears to entertain. Oriental literature has much to recommend it, and the natives of the country are passionately devoted to that literature. It cannot be otherwise. I cannot sit down without again expressing my astonishment, that this place should have been selected for such an attack. If havoc and desolation rage around us, we may not be able to prevent it; but here in the citadel of our strength, that an effort at our overthrow should be made, is to me astonishing. I have no fear, however, that it will be successful, or that there will be difference of opinion as to the character of the proceeding.
The PRESIDENT, however unwilling to otfer an opinion from the chair, must object to the amendment, because it appeared to entertain a doubt of the legality of the course pursued. Government acted by advice, and there remained an ap. peal to the proper tribunals if any interest were aggrieved. He was anxious to impress on the Society the necessity of abstaining from legal and political discussions, as quite out of character ina literaryand scientific institution. Otherwise they must lose many members who could not vote, nay, could not sit, where such topics were to be canvassed. The case was strong enough of itself; the application for continuing the suspended oriental publications was a most proper object for the Society to urge ; it should have his warmest support, provided it were unmixed with other matters which had been the subject of discussion elsewhere, and upon which the Government had expressed their opinion. He had a very strong opinion on the necessity of excluding debatable topics of this nature from the Society, and if they were to continue such discussions be for one should be compelled to retire. Literary and Scientific subjects seemed to him the only matters proper for discussion withthein, except the little usual business which must of course be disposed of.
Mr. MACNAGHTEN, with the most unfeigued deference and respect to the learned President, must take leave to express his doubts, as to the doctrine which he had delivered, or at all events to seek for some explanation which might solve his difficulties. He understood from him, thatin this place, they were nevercompetent to touch upon a question of law, and that if they did, those who are connected with
the legal profession must cease to be members of the Society. This doctrine seemed to him to involve the necessity of submitting to every species of spoliation. Moreover that they were not competent to advert in any way to the measures of Government. Now it appeared to him, that they were not here as lawyers or as civil or military servants of the Company ; and that when they met in this hall, they divested themselves of those characters,and appeared only in the character of the servants of science and of literature, the guardians of oriental learning. and the representatives of its interests both in Asia and in Europe. In that sacred character they were bound to be vigilant and active. Indeed, he could conceive cases involving questions of law, in which they should feel themselves compelled to act. Supposing the Governrnent were to be advised that they heldamortgage in the Society’s premises, and that upon this hint, they were to proceed imrtanter to an ejectment. Ought they in such a case tamely to resign their right, because there happened to be lawyers among them P He could understand the motive which should restrain particular gentlemen from expressing an opinion, but he could not conceive any circumstance which would justify their surrendering without a struggle the rights of their constituents. Those consfluents are, he said, the literary men of all nations. They had an awful trust imposed upon them, and they must execute it faithfully and conscientiously as a great public body, without any personal motives, or any personal scruples.
Mr. Pnmsnv felt great diflidence in expressing his dissent from what had fallen from the President, the more so, as he was himself a most unworthy member, whereas the President’s merits towards the Society were of the highest character. But he could not think, under British Government, any society, or even any individual could have the least hesitation in expressing respectfully an opinion, that the Government had misconstrued a law, when that misconstruction was likely to do injury to the rights or the feelings of so large a portion of its subjects as the native community formed in this country. No wilful error or wrong was imputed to the Government: but surely it was not too much to say, as he was confident was the case, that Government had in this instance been ill-advised and misled. He did not speak as a lawyer, but as a member of this Society, whose position in respect to the literature of India had been well described by Mr. MACNAGHTEN. That there could be no possible offence to Government in so expressing themselves he felt assured, by seeing members and high officers of the Government ready to join in so doing. He was somewhat surprised at what had fallen from Mr. Convuv, as to the ancient literature of India, being calculated only to perpetuate idolatry and superstition. What would be thought, if England had possessed herself of Greece, a part of which was under her dominion, and had bestowed funds for reviving its language and literature,-—would any one be listened to who should urge, that withthe language of Greece one would be reviving her mythology? The most advantageous thing for the advancement of European literature in India was to revive that of the country, and place them in contrast side by side : it was easy to see which must then prevail‘. He did not think the Society should take so humble a tone as to ask, as a charity, that which Parliament had given as a right, and would rather not succeed in the object that all had equally at heart, than take it in the shape of an eleemosynary donation.
Mr. H. T. Pamsav quoted the words of the act, which he believed had been grounded on a minute of Mr. H. Co1.nnooxn’s, specially pointed to the literature and learned natives of the country. He thought there could be no doubt as to the meaning of the clause, and if such were entertained by any present, he should not hesitate to take the votes of members as to the construction to be put upon the words. Entertaining this opinion, he thought the Society ought to have no hesitation about expressing it; and as for the fact stated, that the Government had put a different interpretation upon the law, he knew not how the Society could know that these questions had ever been determined by the Government. But even if this point had been so ruled, that was no reason why the members of this Society, if their opinion was clear as to the legal rights of this literature,of which they were the patrons and protectors, should not cxpress that opinion even to the Government. He was quite sure it was the general feeling, that the grant was made by Parliament to the literature of India, which ought not to be robbed of
the provision so made to it. By the amendment, it was intended to express
this as delicately and respectfully as possible. Sir J. P. GRANT thought it right to state, that in voting for the amendment, he
did not mean to give an opinion upon the question of law. He did not think that the amendment went to express any opinion upon the question of law, and if it did, most certainly he neither would nor ought to vote upon it. It merely, in his opinion, asked of the Government to give its consideration to the question, and in case they should be of opinion that oriental literature had not a legal and parliamentaryclaim under the words of the act, then to make a. new and specific grant of funds for this important purpose.
Mr. W. GRANT was not disposed to blink the question which the Society wished to bring under the reconsideration of Government, and did not see that any
-disrespect was implied in urging, however strongly, such reconsideration. The
Society had for a long time believed, that a particular fund was appropriated by
Parliament to objects in amanner confided by the public to the Society’s peculiar
care, and they now learned that this fund was no longer to be so applied. The Society was bound to undertake the cause of oriental literature, and to urge Government to reconsider a resolution so inimical to it. And it‘ upon serious reconsideration, Government should continue to be of opinion, that no fund was by law appropriated at present to its conservation, then to urge an application to the proper quarters for a fund which should be so appropriated. .
Mr. COLVIN asked Sir J. P. GRANT, whether the words of the amendment which he read did not at least by implication convey an opinion upon the question of law.
Sir J. P. GRANT said, that in his opinion they did not, but that the words in the Act of Parliament being such as they had that night been stated to be, the amendment suggested to the Government, that it was a. grave question, of which it desired their reconsideration, and upon this view he was prepared to vote for the amendment ; but the suggestion being made that it might be otherwise inter. preted, he should not vote.
The amendment was then put and carried. The revised memorial was once more read through, and, on the motion of Mr. H. T. PRINSEP, seconded by Bébu RASUMAY Du-rr, it was adopted nem. con.
Read a letter from Captain ‘Vans, enclosing one from the Chevalier VENTURA, acknowledging his election as an honorary member.
Read extract of a letter from Lieut. A. Bnmvns, enclosing copies of desiderata in Botany from Professor GRAHAM, and in Geology from the London Society.
Read a letter from Tnomxs DIOKENSON, Esq. Secretary to the Bombay branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, acknowledging the receipt of M. CsomA's Tibetan Dictionary and Grammar, and expressing the best thanks of that Society for the same.
Read a letter from EDWARD T. Bnmmrr, Esq. Secretary to the Z0010, gical Society of London, forwarding its proceedings for the years 1330 31, 32, and 33, with the 2nd part of the 1st volume of their Transactions, for presentation to the Society. ’
Read a. letter received through M. L. A. RIGHY, from Monsieur Ganem Dn Tnssv, forwarding for presentation copy of a work entitled “ Les Giluvres De Wali, (Dewzin- Walz',) recently published by himself in.Hin.. dustani at the royal press of Paris.
The Indian Journal of Medical Science, No. 18, was presented by the Editors.
Meteorological Register for April, 1835, by the Surveyor General,
The following books were received from the book-sellers.
Lardner’s Cabinet Cyclopedia—Simson’s Roman Empire, vol. 2nd.
_ , Germanic Empire, vol. lst. Library of Useful Knowledge—Natural Philosophy, vol. 3rd.
A List of the Pali, Burmese, and Singalese works, in the Burmese cha.. racter, (some with Burmese interpretations) in the Asiatic S0ciety’s library, was submitted, and ordered to be printed in the out-coming catalogue.
Museum and Antiquities.
A model of the Téj Mahal at Agra, in ivory, was presented on the part of Messrs. WV. CARR’ and J. Pnmsrzp.
A note from the Baron Von Hvcen, on the variance of the Tope at Sér. néth, from the Dehgopas of Ceylon, was read.
[This will find a place in a future numher.]
A letter from Col. 5. P. Srncv announced, that he had despatched for the inspection of the Society, to the charge of their Secretary, his ‘very extensive collection of Bactrian, Indo-Scythic, ancient Hindu, and Muham. medan coins, of which he also forwarded a detailed catalogue.
This collection is more than usually valuable from its having been made principally in central India, and it is mainly rich in Hindu coins, of which it will serve to devolope many series with names hitherto unknown.
Specimens of Copper Ore from the Ajmir mines, with ‘a descriptive account by Captain DIXON, addressed to the Governor General, were presented through Captain SMYTH, Mil. Sec. G. G.
An account of the bearded vulture of N ipal, Gypaetos barbatus, by Mr. B. H. HODGSON, was submitted, with an accurate painting by his native artist.
Mr. Honeson is in possession of upwards of 2000 illustrations of the Fauna, and the Ornithology of the valley, which he is now seeking to publish in a worthy manner, in conjunction with eminent naturalists at home. The plates and descriptions of the Mammalia are already gone to England, and the others will soon follow. The whole will form a memorable monument of his zeal and indefatigable industry.
Extracts of a letter from Professor W1r.soN were read.
The Ashmolean Society, is anxious to obtain through the Asiatic Society, an entire skeleton of an alligator, for the purpose of perpetual comparison with the fossils of the Saurian tribe at home. An inquiry has arisen which can be solved only in this country, Do Elephants shed their tusks? The immense supply of them brought from Africa to England, if derived from the death or destruction of the animal, must it is thought soon lead to its extermination.
[Mr. WILSON, has, we are happy to remark, prepared the Vishnu Par-zina, the Sanklzya Chandrika, for the press, and only waits the casting of a new fount of type. The Hindu theatre has passed through a new edition. Mooncaor'r’s Journals are still in MuaaAY’s hands, and the bust not commenced upon, by CHANTR.EY.]
Notice on the foetus of the basking shark (aqualus nzawimus), and a preserved specimen, were submitted by Dr. J. T. PEARSON
A paper was submitted by Mr. F. G. Tnvnon, H. C. Astronomer at Madras, on a new method of ascertaining the error of collimation in astronomical instruments by reflection from a surface of the mercury.
[This very valuable and simple ‘method is described in the present number.]
A note on the mummy brought by Captain Ancnnonn from Egypt was submitted by Dr. Evans.
From the lateness of the hour the reading of the papers presented was postponed to the next meeting.