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ever modifications, would be as well fitted as the Roman “to be the written representative of all languages," or which, waiving comparison, could even be pronounced “well fitted" for such a purpose ; but as I have no wish to enter upon a discussion of this point, I content myself with defending my former statement, which appears to me perfectly intelligible and correct, and certainly conveyed no intimation that other alphabets were incapable of being so modified and enlarged as to express the sounds of any or every language. It is therefore a mere waste of labour to prove that “ isting alphabet, or any newly invented symbols whatever,” by “the process of omission and of diacritical distinction,” would be “ adequate to express every sound of the human voice,"-a proposition which could not possibly be disputed by any one.
“ Let not any," says CINBURENSIS, " be misled by the fallacious mystifi. cation of a plain question, in which the sanguine advocates of the Roman, izing system have indulged and do yet indulge. It is of course a subsequent question what alphabet may be made applicable to express the sounds of the Indian languages with the fewest, simplest, and most effective mo. difications; but the primary one, as to the capability of any set of characters to receive an arbitrary assignment to the office of representing any variety of sound whatever, is that which has been, in our judgment, so mischiev. ously mystified."
What is here called the “subsequent question” is most undoubtedly the question, so far as it regards Romanizing; and it may well excite our surprise that any of its advocates should have engaged in an argument on the other question, whether the Roman is the only alphabet cupable of being so modified as to express the sounds of any given language. Whoever may have broached this idea, it is certainly not to be gathered from the article upon which CINSURENSIS has animadverted.
The Post-scriptum to the preceding letter, having no bearing upon the question at issue, and reflecting on the procedure of a contemporary upon whose editorial unfairness or impartiality it is not our province to pass a judgment, we have suppressed. We have subjoined the reply of CINSURENSIS ; which, if we mistake not, will fully satisfy our excellent friend and correspondent B, that his former remarks were somewhat misapprehended.--Ep. C. C. O.
To the Editors of the Calcutta Christian Observer. GENTLEMEN,
Any remarks of so intelligent and able a writer as the author of the “Comparison of Indo-Chinese languages," must always command consi. deration. As an opponent he is at once too honorable, and too courteous, to be met otherwise than with respect. I am happy in believing that the remarks to which I now reply have been penned, in great measure, under a misapprehension.
“B.” has most courteously admitted me to have manifested in my former paper, “ a spirit of perfect candour and fairness.” I trust to secure, in those now offered, a continuance of his favourable opinion, the more grati. fying because felt to be not undeserved.
And, in the outset, let me entirely disclaim the remotest intention to assume a hostile position with regard to “B.” In my former paper I stated, distinctly enough methinks, what my design really was, "simply and in good faith to throw in my mite of aid, to the excellent individual whò furnished the comparison, in his useful investigations, as well as to draw the attention of others to the subject.”
Now I knew of course, that “B," from his position, must necessarily be cut off from the fullest sources of information with regard to the language of this province; and therefore conceived, as I stated, that “ he would be glad to obtain the Bengáli forms” with which my paper furnished him, as well as with the notices of grammatical peculiarities that followed. In re. lation to those forms, “ B." says that "it was foreign to the design of his vocabulary to insert columns of secondary and synonymous words, &c." Yet, had he not himself inserted some such, and that too in the very column in question, the Bengáli? And, in fact, if the "comparison" had any purpose of utility to serve, if it were indeed designed to shew the comparative affinities of the languages of which specimens were given, how could it be “ foreign," or otherwise than most germane and essential to the design of the vocabulary, to insert those forms, be they first or secondary, on which must necessarily hang the decision of the entire question of the dialectic affinities professed to be under exhibition ? Over and above the five Bengali synonyms given by “B." himself, I furnished him with seventeen other synonyms and with seventeen secondary forms besides, i. e. provincial or colloquial variations of primitives, inserted in his list. Now it so happens that, in nearly the whole of those 34 instances, the synonymous or secondary forms are precisely those most current in the spoken language of Bengal, and consequently those which most clearly illustrate its affinity with the Assamese. How then, could that affinity have been either shewn or disproved, without taking them into the estimate ? By means of them I established that instead of six-tenths, above eight-tenths of the 60 words included in the vocabulary, was the real proportion of terms common to the two dialects. Again, as to the grammatical items —"B." says
that among the inac. curacies which CINSURENSIS has mentioned,” he finds “only one that can be considered such, viz. that he (B.) had applied the epithet peculiar' to that part of the Assamese language (Grammar?) which requires a different pronoun in the second person, &c. This was said, however, without any reference to the Bengali.”
If "B." will kindly refer back to the “Comparison,” p. 24, § 1, he will find that after stating the verbal affinity of the Assamese to Bengali, to be such, as drawn from the table, that above six-tenths of the most common words were identical," he adds, "-"the grammatical peculiarities of the two languages are considerably unlike;" following which assertion, come the specifications of supposed Assamese peculiarities, which I remarked were in reality not such, belonging equally to the Bengáli. If then, with each spe. cification subsequent to this general heading, as it were, the same epithet of “ peculiar” was not introduced, was therefore the inference the less legitimate and unavoidable that all were equally "grammatical peculiari. ties considerably unlike ?” How could I, or any reader, even imagine such specifications so strung together under such a heading, to have been made without any reference to the Bengáli ?"
But “ B." quotes me as asserting that all the grammatical minutiæ particularized apply equally to Bengali; and says thereon, “He (CinsuRENSIS), has however himself afforded us one instance of material dissimilarity, viz. in the 3rd person of the verb, which is varied in Bengáli to denote the superiority or inferiority of the person spoken of.” It surprizes me, I confess, that a dissimilarity which I myself observed, and which was of course not one of the minutiæ particularized” as alike, should be brought forward to shew an inconsistency in my argument. I appeal to “ B.” himself whether the oversight does not rest with him, not with me. I asserted, not that there were no dissimilarities, for I myself adduced this as one-but
I showed, as well from several instances of what were in “ B.'s” paper er. roneously stated as peculiarities in Assamese, as from the secondary forms of words, that the analogy of the two languages was much closer than supposed in the “ Comparison."
I have thus, I trust, set myself right with my able opponent, and shewn that if any part of his argument has been misapprehended, whether by me or others, it has been unavoidably so misapprehended, in consequence both of his own expression and his arrangement of his matter; yet further, that his present letter has in no way shewn that there really has been any misapprehension; while, on the other hand, he has, notwithstanding my direct assurance, altogether mistaken the purpose of my former remarks as hostile, instead of auxiliary, to his design. “It has been thought advi. saivle to give specimens, &c.” he wrote in his first paper, “hoping that others may be induced to extend the comparison.” This hope so expressed it was my wish and aim to meet, in the extension of the vocabulary, not indeed " in another language," but in one of those already but incomplete. ly exemplified. And " B.will credit the assurance that I never for one moment contemplated the possible supposition on his part that my remarks were other than those of a friend and fellow-labourer, and such as therefore I might sincerely, as I did, request him “ to take in good part."
The second portion of “B.'s" letter regards romanization. On this let me assure him, that my former remarks on this head, to which an expression in his paper
furnished me merely with a text, referred I may say perhaps to any one rather than himself; certainly were directed mainly against some thorough-going advocates of indiscriminate romanising on this side the Bay of Bengal.
I admit cheerfully, what I never denied, that "B." has not, in so many words, contended for the exclusive fitness of the Roman alphabet “to be the written representative of all languages;” but all are not so moderate or so prudent as himself; many are ready to go any length in the patronage of a favourite theory, though thereby only weakening the very cause they profess to advocate. If, therefore, only to prevent the misapplication of his language to support extra-romanization propensities, I was bound to shew that there was, even in his own cautious phraseology as it would surely be interpreted by many, an essential fallacy. And so surely does it exist, that even “ B." himself, candid and honorable as he is, is compelled, unconsciously to himself, no doubt, to shift his ground and vary his actual position in order to make out his own argument, though therein, by a species of literary felo.de-se, he only the more effectually overturns it.
“ It has often been said the Roman character is inadequate to the expression of the oriental languages. It was sufficient to my purpose to affirm that it was adequate." Yet following this he writes --" I might indeed challenge CINSURENsis to produce any existing alphabet which, with whatever modifications, would be as well fitted as the Roman to be the written representative of all languages.” Thus, from a question of adequacy going over to one of fitness, greater or less ! "B." must be reminded that adequacy, as far at least as my argument went, is not by any means synonymous with fitness : this must be determined by many considerations of a wholly different nature from vocul extension, which is the grammatical sense of adequateness, as used by me. The two must not be confounded. “ B." himself expressly admits that he does “neither assert nor deny that there are other systems which might be rendered adequate to express the same variety of sounds,” as the Roman character. In fact a character may be, till modified, very inadequate, and yet, from entirely other considerations, well fitted to be applied to the expression of the sounds of a language ; as e. g. of the dialects of the South Seas and others, hitherto unwritten-80
may it, on the other hand, be quite adequnte to the utterance of the sounds of any given language and yet not so well fitted to the purpose ; e. g. to super. sede even a much less adequate character that may have once got into use, the dis usage of which might be attended with far more serious mischiefs than any benefit from the introduction of a more philosophical alphabet should counterbalance. Who cun point out a more inadequate character than the Roman to express the current sounds of our native English? yet who would venture gravely to propose the invention or mutuation of a substitute, how. ever excellently well-fitted, avowing any the smallest persuasion that would be listened to ?
I have proved the inadequacy of the Roman alphabet to be applied to the written languages of Asia : in doing so I have, by inference also and incidentally, shewn its unfitness in some respects; but I by no means rest the decision of that uafitness upon the few arguments so inci. dentally alleged, and must not be so understood. To this effect I clearly expressed myself in my former remarks: stating that “ I had, abstractedly considered, no objection to make to the adoption of the Roman alphabet for written communication among a people yet without one of their own. In such a case the only question with me would be one of expediency, to be determined by aptitude, facility, and many other considerations “ besides mere adequacy; or, in other words, by its fitness in other respects ;" which I did not there, and cannot here, enlarge upon.
I am glad, in conclusion, to have it from B. himself, that " it is a mere waste of labour to prove that any existing alphabet or any newly invented symbols whatever,' might, by the process of omission and of diacritical dis. tinction, become adequate to express any sound of the human voice ;' "and that in his opinion, that is “ a proposition which could not possibly be disputed.” Because, however clear to him the distinction l'have drawn be. tween that as a previous question and the subsequent one of selection, it is not equally so to all,-and by many the mere proof, that the Roman al. phabet, as modified by Sir W. Jones and now vigorously pressed into a service that great scholar never certainly comtemplated, might be rendered adequate, was taken to mean that none other could ! not that this was reasoned out, but assumed: i. e. there was a mystification upon the subject which it was my business to expose. Of that mystification many minds, it is to be feared, are not however even yet disabused; not all have even now learned to see, that were the Roman alphabet incomparably more adequate even than it is, (and I have shewn it, in my former paper, to be strikingly inadequate,) still its fitness to be employed to supersede the indigenous alphabets of India is altogether another question, to be decided on other and wider grounds than mere typographical compressibility, or any other near and palpable circumstance whatever, while leav. ing out of view larger and greatly more important considerations, such as those some few of which I only glanced at in my former remarks. I may return to this question hereafter ; thus much I have stated only to meet the remarks of B., of whom I now take leave with equal esteem and cordiality:
I am, &c.
V.-The Connexion of the British Government with the
Idolatry of India. The Government of British India appears determined to continue its disgraceful connexion with the idolatry of the country, while the religious and humane portion of the community at home and abroad appear to be equally resolved on its dissolution.
The parties have fully and fairly entered the arena, and those who feel an interest in the elevation and happiness of the human race must watch the progress and issue of the contest with the most intense anxiety. The inequality of the combatants might at once decide that the palm must be ceded to the ruling powers, but the battle is not al. ways to the apparently strong, nor the race to the swift. The posses. sion of power does not always ensure success—not even in ordinary concerns, much more when the object contended for is inseparably connected with the morality and salvation of mankind. There is a God that ruleth in the earth ; he is a jealous God, he will nei. ther give bis glory to another, nor will he allow his servants to trans. fer it to the gods of the heathen. We do, without laying any peculiar claim to foresight, safely predict what the termination of this conflict will be. The Government must be defeated if it will not yield. The data on which our assurance rests is the page of history, con. firmed by the experience of every day. It is true of nations, as of individuals that though a sinner do evil an hundred times and escape with impunity, yet shall punishment eventually overtake him. Our own convictions are, and we state them without hesitation or reserve, that if the Government of India or any other government will deliberately and perseveringly maintain such a connexion as that which now subsists, with the warning and entreaties of the servants of God sounding in their ears, sooner or later the same fate will overtake them which overtook the Egyptians for their oppression of the church, and which fell upon the Israelites for their abandonment of God and admixture of truth with the errors of the surrounding idolaters. Entertaining such views, and having in former papers brought forward painfully satisfactory evidence of the union which subsists between the British Government of India and the idolatry of the country, it now devolves upon us in defence of our conduct to show that the union involves the sacrifice of moral principle; is an act of. cruelty to the natives ; infringes the rights of conscience of some of the best servants of the Government, and is one of the foulest blots on our divine and blessed faith. It is the spot in our feasts of cha. rity. We have assumed, and we think rightly, in this series of papers, that the Government of India is bonâ fide a Christian Government, and that it should be influenced alone by Christian motives. Nothing advanced by our contemporaries has for a moment induced a different estimate either of its character or its duty-not but that we are quite open to conviction, for we would much rather it were clearly demonstrated that the Government was any thing but Christian, so long as it adopts a line of policy so questionable. But if it is not Christian, what is it? Musalmáu ? No.-Hin