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of ten nations, speaking as many distinct languages, besides dialects; and for useful and comprehensive knowledge on this subject, so indispensable to the legislator and administrator, we are indebted to the able and indefatigable author of the works at the head of this Article. We take from Sir Erskine Perry's essay on the geographical distribution of the Indian languages the following ethnological sketch, premising that the main object of the author is the rational and indeed, inevitable one in our position, of selecting the language of the civilised conquerors as the common medium of intercourse.
The Pundits, or Braminical doctors of law and religion, have reckoned all the languages spoken from Cape Comorin to the Himalaya, and from the Indus to the Ganges, --some of them at fifty-seven and others as high as eighty-four. The lowest of these numbers, however, is a gross exaggeration, unless we include dialects and varieties of dialects with the tongues of many rude and remote tribes, whose condition is not much more advanced (cannibalism excepted) than that of the New Zealanders when Cook first saw them. Our author divides the languages of India into two great classes -- those of the north and those of the south-a distinction not wholly arbitrary, but founded on essential differences, although it may be somewhat difficult to draw a clear line of demarcation between them.
In all the native languages, whether of the north or south, there is found a considerable, and in some of them, a large intermixture of foreign tongues. The most important of these are Sanskrit, now commonly considered to be a language of Central Asia,-Arabic, and Persian. The foreign intermixture, of whatever description, is always largest to the north, and gradually diminishes as we proceed southward, until at last it is proportionally not greater than the element of Latin in the Celtic tongues or of Arabic in the Spanish. This fact is to be accounted for by the conquering strangers having in all ages entered India by the only easily accessible avenue to it, the northwest angle, and having first established their power in the nearest fertile part of the country, the upper portion of the valley of the Ganges. It was from this quarter that Alexander entered India; and had his impatient European army allowed him to conquer and settle, Indian history, and Indian society, might have worn a different aspect from their present. Then, the polytheism of the Greeks might have been intermixed with that of the Brahmins, Grecian art might have taken the place of Arabian empiricism, and the Greek language that of Arabic and Persian.
The Persian language, with its mixture of Arabic, was introduced by the Mahomedan conquerors about 800 years ago, at a time nearly coeval with the introduction of French by the Normans into our own Anglo-Saxon. This was about three centuries after the conversion of the conquerors themselves to the singular and wide-spread religion which sprang up in Arabia in the beginning of the seventh century of our era — virtually founded on the doctrines of the Old and New Testament. But it should be observed, that the northern invaders of India were not, for the most part, Persians, any more than the Normans were Celtic Gauls. The warlike mobs—for they were little better, that invaded and conquered India, and finally settled in it, much resembled in their composition the Christian Crusaders, for they consisted of many nations, with distinct languages, such as Eastern Turks, Arabs, Persians, Uzbecks, and Afghans. And as the Crusaders adopted French for convenience, so the Mahomedan invaders adopted Persian as their common tongue. In time this language became that of the court, and eventually of the law, of the fisc, and of diplomacy, which it continued to be down to our own appearance on the Indian field.
By far the most important of the vernacular languages is the Hindi, divided into eight dialects, often differing as much from each other as Irish from Gaelic, Armorican from Welsh, or Spanish from Portuguese. The Hindi was the speech of the Hindu nation, first encountered and subdued by the northern invaders, after entering the fertile valleys of the Jumna and Ganges; and it is, consequently, the Indian tongue which has received the largest infusion of Persian with its Arabic element. The dialect of it spoken at the old Mahomedan capitals of Delhi and Agra, still populous and flourishing cities, is the most cultivated and widely spoken of the living native tongues; and the introduction of Persian into the indigenous speech, itself already well charged with Sanskrit, is a case exactly similar to the introduction of Norman French into Anglo-Saxon. Indeed Sir James Mackintosh, in his epitome of the History of England, uses it as an apt illustration of the mode in which the English language was formed. The proportion of Persian in the Indian languages diminishes as we go southward, just as in the case of Sanskrit, for the Mahomedan conquests of the southern nations were comparatively recent, imperfect, and of short duration ;-in many cases, indeed, never completed, and in a few hardly attempted. The Hindi, with its eight dialects, is the most widely spoken language of India, being the vernacular tongue of all the people that dwell between the Vindhya Mountains and the southern slope of the Himalayas, and from the Indus to the Rajmahal bills, a population of some 50,000,000, or equal to that of France, Spain, and Portugal put together. Besides this, from the long supremacy of the Mahomedan powers, of whom it was the popular speech, it has come to be used all over India, as the common medium of lingual communication, in about the same manner and same degree as French is in Western Europe, Italian along the shores of the Mediterranean, and Malay throughout the islands of the Eastern Archipelago. It must, however, be recollected, that to the great masses speaking the other indigenous tongues, it is as unknown as French is to the majorities of the European nations to whose educated classes that language is familiar.
The next most important language to the Hindi is the Bengali, the vernacular tongue of the peculiar nation inhabiting Bengal, which consists chiefly of the tract annually flooded and fertilised by the inundation of the Ganges and Berhampootr with their tributaries and branches. The population speaking this language is computed at not less than 50,000,000, or about 3,000,000 more than that of the islands of Great Britain and Ireland. This is an unwarlike people, never found in the ranks of any Indian army, but ingenious, industrious, and astute; skilled in accounts, excellent merchants, and ready tax-payers to all masters, whether Hindu, Mahomedan, or Christian.' It was the merchants of this nation that lately petitioned Parliament, in modest-even in strictly constitutional language, for which audacity they have been denounced in Parliament as dangerous agitators, although it is notorious that they had submitted with miraculous docility for twelve long centuries to extorting, or persecuting, or exacting conquerors, whether of native or foreign lineage.
The most southern of the northern class of languages is that of the Mahrattas, a rude but warlike people, unnoticed in the annals of India until about the middle of the seventeenth century, when a leader of talent, spirit, and enterprise, Sevajee, a kind of Hindu Gengis Khan or Tamerlane, arose among them, and led them to conquest, although himself by caste but a cowherd, albeit claiming to be a Rajpoot. The Mahrattas first subdued the neighbouring Hindu princes; and pushing their arms to the north, encountered, within fifty miles of Delhi, all the Mahomedan chiefs of Northern India, under the leadership of the renowned Afghan invader, Ahmed Shah Abdalli, the ancestor of that king whose attempted restoration cost us the loss of an army, while it proved the stability of our power. They were totally defeated, and their power seemed annihilated by this blow; but the invader retiring to his own country, they speedily rallied, — renewed their conquests in Upper India; and, while Clive and Hastings were busy lopping off and appropriating the lands of the Great Moghul to the east and south, they possessed themselves of those to the north, up to the mountain barrier of India, occupying the very palace and capital of the Great Moghul himself, as his masters. In fact, this rude native people had possessed themselves of the widest dominion that had ever been known to be possessed by Hindus; and had we not been in the way, they would most probably have continued, not only to rule, but to extend their rule, down to the present time. Half a century ago, the Duke of Wellington encountered and defeated the Mahrattas in the first battle in which he had commanded an army; and it was then that this man of true military genius gained his first knowledge of that art in war which enabled him afterwards to overcome the most skilful and experienced of the Marshals of France, the companions and pupils of Napoleon; and finally, to overthrow the master of the pupils himself.
South of the Bengali we have the Orissa or Urya language, not one of wide extension, yet spoken probably by a population as numerous as that of Belgium. This nation never acquired a prominent distinction in Indian history; but is, notwithstanding, industrious and civilised, up to the usual level of Hindu civilisation. On the opposite side of India we have the language of Guzerat, the original tongue of the peninsula of that name; and this is the last of the northern class of languages. To this language belong two subordinate dialects, the Kutch and the Scinde. The Konkani, a language of the western coast, is said to be fundamentally Mahratta, with a considerable admixture of a southern language -- that of Kanara, being the result of conquest and subjugation, by the people speaking the latter language.
We come now to the southern class of tongues; and the first which occurs on the shore of the Bay of Bengal, proceeding southward from Orissa, is the Telugu. This is the language of the country which has been called Telingana and Kalinga; and the people are the same whom we have been in the habit of calling Gentoos, which some persons have supposed to be a corruption of the word Hindu, given by the Persians to the followers of the Braminical religion, who themselves, as is well known, have no common designation. It is, however,
. in reality, an Indian corruption of the Portuguese word gentiles (gentiles), although introduced into our statutes as if it were a synonyme for Hindu. The Telugu, or Telinga, is a rough tongue
in pronunciation. A traveller of the nation speaking it, having, it is said, visited the court of Bokhara, the king asking to know what his native tongue was like, he replied, that its sound exactly resembled the noise of a quantity of pebbles tossed in a bushel. Neither in sound, or structure does it bear any resemblance to the northern languages, nor in its words, except in so far as regards its Sanskrit ingredient. The people whose tongue it is are, however, the most enterprising of all the Hindus, and the only one that is known to have carried on foreign commerce, or to have emigrated. It was through them that the Hindu religion was propagated in the islands of the Indian Archipelago; and it was they, also, who brought the fine spices of the most remote of these islands to India, from whence they found their way to Rome, before Arabians or Europeans bad visited the country which produces them. Their commercial enterprises still go on with the same countries, although, of late years, in diminished extent, from European competition. Extending along the coast from the 18° to the 13° of north latitude, this nation numbers, probably, not less than 7,000,000. South of these, and extending to the extreme promontory of India, and embracing both the western and eastern coast, we find the Tamil language. This is one of the most polished and copious of the Indian tongues, and of simple structure. The people speaking it are considered the most advanced of the southern nations of India. The results of their industry are seen in the reservoirs for irrigation, and stupendous dams, which have given fertility to the sands of the Carnatic, and converted those of Tanjore into what Mr. Burke calls the
choicest spot on the globe. We do not find the Tamil nation, like the Telinga, engaging in foreign enterprises; but they had furnished sovereigns to Ceylon, increased the population of that island by emigration, and furnished it with divers for its pearls, which its own indolent inhabitants could not supply. Along the western coast of India, where the Tamil ceases, and the Konkani dialect of the Mahratta begins, we have the Malayalam language and nation, a tongue which is a good deal intermixed with the Tamil. The name of this language and people is the word which Europeans have corrupted into the well-known one, Malabar.
The next great language of Southern India is the Kanara, an essentially plateau tongue lying between the mountainous ranges popularly called the Ghauts, a term which we apply to the mountains themselves, whereas it, in reality, means only the passes through them. The Kanara, Tamil, and Malayalam languages are, between them, spoken by not fewer than