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cure a crisis, which was to remove the principal cause of the disease, and put me in the way of getting well. The crisis came on as he had foretold, and the disorder continued to diminish day after day.”
M. Amiot interrogated the physician respecting the principles of his art, and the replies of the Chinese doctor seem to imply a practical skill in diagnostics which is, perhaps, worthy of more attentive investigation.
Amongst the irregular practitioners in China, some very strange and disgusting articles are added to the simples which compose the Chinese Materia Medica. It is believed that various parts of the human body are efficacious in medicine; and, in particular, that the gall of a man increases courage,—whence this article is in great request amongst those who are deficient in spirit. The manner in which it is taken is to steep 100 or 200 grains of rice in a human gall-bladder, and when dry, to eat ten or twenty grains a day. Executioners make considerable profit by administering to this depraved vulgar error.
THE PUNDIT KAMALAKANTA VIDHYALANKA.
MR. TORRENS, the secretary of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, announced to that body the death of this eminent native scholar, one of the Society's officers, in the following terms :
I have, with much regret, to report the death of the aged and highly respected Pundit Kamalakanta Vidhyalanka, the friend and fellow-labourer of James Prinsep. With him has expired the accurate knowledge of the ancient Pali and Sanscrit forms of writing; for, although we now possess a key to these ancient characters, no pundit has exercised himself in the act of decypbering to the extent to which has Kamalakanta. Like all learned persons of bis class, he carefully avoided the communication of his peculiar knowledge, and latterly, having, as he thought, little chance of being contradicted, the old man became exceedingly dogmatical and opinionative. As I was totally destitute of that critical ingenuity and wonderful acumen, which supplied in our lamented friend, James Prinsep, the want of philological accuracy, and as I had not command of the time which he could devote to the careful and patient investigation of the readings of ancient inscriptions, I soon abandoned the attempt to avail myself of Kamalakanta's services in this department. His appointment about the Society was that of Sanscrit Librarian.
THE AMERICAN ORIENTAL SOCIETY.*
Our transatlantic brethren,-for so we must consider them, sprung from the same stock and speaking the same language,-have commenced a new race of generous rivalry with us, by instituting a society for cultivating the literature and philology of the East. The Americans cannot dispute with us the merit of many
inventions which they may, nevertheless, carry to a higher pitch of excellence; in like manner, they have been anticipated by the mother country in the commencement of Oriental inquiries; and we run little risk of error in predicting, mortifying as is the avowal, that they will soon outstrip us in this branch of learning, although no nation could have enjoyed better opportunities than ours of cultivating it, and of reaping the exclusive fame which such distinction would have conferred. America is eminently, to use an expressive colloquial phrase, a “go-a-head” nation, yet its scholars do not think, with many at home, that real knowledge is advanced by neglecting every thing that is old and keeping the mind intent only upon what
The vast cycle of subjects, which are essential to the perfection of human knowledge, embraces some, such as history and philology, which require that our investigations should be directed backward along the tracks which lead to those early families of mankind, who have left no records of themselves but the few impressions of their intellect which have survived the perils of ages. Strange, however, to say, it seems to be considered derogatory to modern scholars thus to retrograde,-to go back in order to leap the further. The history of all nations, save those connected immediately with our own, is excluded from the pale of their studies, and philology is a science held to be unworthy of the attention of utilitarians. The mark of the leaf of an extinct plant upon a piece of silurian rock, or the mutilated skeleton of a pterodactylus or a sivatherium, will excite intense interest amongst large classes of students, whilst the relics of the history and of the minds of nations contemporary, perhaps, with those obsolete species, are regarded with utter indifference—nay, are with some supposed to be impediments to the diffusion of sound knowledge and right principles, and might be annihilated with benefit to mankind.
The neglect of philology is, indeed, peculiar to England, which labours under the reproach of being almost the only nation in Europe wherein this branch of learning, so important in many respects, and 80 essential in theological studies, is despised. The philological researches of the Germans, in the last and present centuries, have so enlarged the boundaries of this department of knowledge, that, according to a writer in the Quarterly Review,* “they remain the objects of distrustful wonder even to the students in our Universities.” It is easy for men of lively and volatile temperaments to represent the study of philology as the refuge of dulness and pedantry, and, unfortunately, there are examples of men whose laborious trifling has cast a discredit upon this path of learning ; though in many cases the study is derided, not because of its inutility, but its difficulty. Mr. Pickering, the President of the American Oriental Society, in his address, has given an answer to the aforegoing objection in the following words :
* Journal of the American Oriental Society. Vol. I., No.1. 1843. Boston, Little and Brown; London, Wiley and Putnam; Paris, Bosange.
But some persons, whose attention has not been particularly directed to this subject, may be ready to ask, in the current formula of the day, what utility is to be derived from these extended studies of the languages and literature of the globe? The important purposes to which these researches into language would be subservient, were, I believe, first distinctly pointed out by the great Leibnitz-one of those rare men to whom we may apply the title of a universal genius. In his earliest publication on the subject, a century ago, in the Philosophical Transactions of the Academy of Berlin, he justly observed—that, “as the remote origin of nations goes back beyond the records of history, we have nothing but their languages to supply the place of historical information.”
The perseverance of modern objectors, however, would obviate this answer by denying the utility of any history of remote nations. “Of what consequence is it to us,” they say,
66 what was done, or said, or thought by Hindus or Chinese twenty centuries ago ? How are we made better, or happier, or wiser, or richer, by the knowledge of such antiquated facts ?” This argument, if worth any thing, would apply to all history, even our own early annals, and would, indeed, apply a fortiori to all contemplative studies. Thus, however, to narrow the inquiries of the human mind would be to cramp and stunt its powers, which can never be exerted with effect in any channel of investigation unless they are permitted a free range. Had Newton, when he observed the different refrangibility of the rays of light, turned away from the discovery as affording no prospect of utility, we might yet have been in the very infancy of the science of optics, and ignorant of some of the most important astronomical facts.
The indifference of Englislımen towards Oriental subjects is the
• Vol. xlvi. p. 337.
more extraordinary considering the connection, political and commercial, which has subsisted between Britain and all the great nations of the East for many years, and which furnished various motives for inquiry. The Hindus are our fellow-subjects ; large drafts of our educated youths are annually sent to India, to be employed in the several departments of its government, who are compelled to acquire a knowledge of the vernacular dialects. With Persia, whose modern language is the vehicle of official and polite intercourse at most of the native courts of India, we have long maintained intimate political relations. China has been for more than a century opened to us alone, and a copious dictionary of its peculiar and highly interesting language has been published in English. In spite of all these inducements, or rather provocatives, to a general desire to become acquainted with the literature and science of India and China, nine-tenths of the productions of which are unexplored, its topics are absolutely nauseating to English readers. No bookseller dares to publish here a work of an Oriental character; few, if any, of such works have returned the cost of publication, unless they have been, as it is termed, light,—that is, very superficial, and imparting amusement rather than information. In Germany and France, which have no connections with the East, and whose scholars have no impulse to the cultivation of Oriental literature but the pure love of science, the case is different. In the former country, Oriental works meet with a remunerating sale; and although, in France, public support will not always suffice to guarantee the authors or publishers of such works from loss, yet there the government judiciously steps forward, and by a comparatively small annual expenditure, supplies the deficiency of public patronage. It is well known that the Journals of our different Asiatic Societies, which are the receptacles of papers of great value, have little circulation beyond the members, and, as regards our own publication, which is obliged to pursue a medium course,—leaning a great deal to the popular side,—we have been repeatedly constrained to refuse insertion to papers of the highest merit, by first-rate scholars, on the Continent as well as at home, and what is worse, to assign as a reason the humiliating fact, that the paper would provoke complaints from some of our readers, and perhaps damage the sale of the work !
In this state of things, we hail with pleasure the appearance of the “ Journal of the American Oriental Society,” as a coadjutor (judging from its contents) likely to give a fresh stimulus to such studies in England. Perhaps, when it is seen that the fields of research, which we have so unaccountably neglected, are enriching
America with harvests of valuable results, jealousy will accomplish what better motives have failed to effect.
This first number of the American Journal is almost entirely filled with the excellent address of the President of the Society, Mr. Pickering, which takes a very comprehensive view of the subjects inriting its attention. After alluding to the favourable circumstances under which the Society has been formed,—the peace of the world, the accessibility of the Eastern nations, and the great number of American missionaries who are masters of the languages and literature of the East,—he remarks that the object of the Association is one of almost boundless extent, “the history, languages, literature, and general characteristics of the various people, both civilized and barbarous, who are usually classed under the somewhat indefinite name of Oriental nations.” In taking a kind of Pisgah view of the mighty regions of inquiry, he distinguishes two principal countries “which have been the central points of civilization for that portion of the globe, and have shot out the rays of knowledge through the darkness of the surrounding regions,"—namely, Egypt and India.
Mr. Pickering devotes a considerable portion of his address to the first of those countries, whence we infer that it is probable its history and literature will become prominent subjects of the Society's researches, facilitated as they are by the discovery of a key to the hieroglyphic writing which has “opened new sources of historical information.” Of the resources for investigation, Mr. Pickering gives the following description, in a letter from Dr. Lepsius, an eminent German hierologist, now employed in Egypt by the Prussian government. Writing from Gizeh, “at the foot of the pyramid of Cheops," he says :
It is incredible how little this spot has been explored, though more visited than any other part of Egypt...... The best maps of this site hitherto produced, represent two tombs besides the pyramids, having particular inscriptions and figures. Now we have drawn a minute topographical plan of the whole monumental plain ; and on this plan there are marked, independently of the pyramids, forty-five tombs whose occupants I have ascertained by the inscriptions. There are altogether eighty-two tombs, which, on account of their inscriptions or other peculiarities, demand particular attention. With the exception of about twelve, which belong to a later period, all these tombs were erected contemporaneously with, or soon after, the building of the Great Pyramid, and consequently their dates throw an invaluable light on the study of human civilization in the most remote period of antiquity...... The sculptures in relief are surprisingly numerous, and represent whole figures, some the size of life, and others of various dimensions...... The