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With the object of drawiiio' the attention of scholars to 
the comparatively uncultivated field of Ben<Tali Literature, 
I have in the ])resent volume embodied the results of some 
of my researches into it. These investigations were first 
undertaken in 1912-1913, chieHy for the purpose of my 
essay for the Griffith Memorial Prize for Original Research 
for 1915 and were subset{uently worked up into a thesis for 
Premchand Roychand Research Studentship, for which it 
was approved in 1918. 

In selecting the nineteenth century for treatment out 
of all other })eriods, I am actuated by several considerations. 
In the first place, the nineteenth century possesses a peculiar 
interest for us. It is the ]ieriod of British influence on 
Indian thought, and one which witnessed a new awakening 
and the growth and building u]i of modern Bengal and 
modern Bengali Literature. The im))ortance of this period 
in all its asjiects, |)olitical, social, religious, as well as 
literary, can never be exaggerated. It is to be regretted, 
however, that we possess no adequate and connected infor- 
mation about the period and the literature in which, indeed, 
tlie civilisation of modern Bengal can be traced and 
without which that civilisation cannot be fully understood. 
I have not heard of any scholar who has yet made the 
nineteenth century literature his special study and written 
any special account of it. The earliest attemitts at writing 
a connected account of Bengali Literature — the Bengali 
discouree of Rajnarayan Basu and the little pam]ihlet of 
Ganga Charan Sarkar — were meant chiefly as popular 
lectures rather than any comprehensive and synthetic study 


of the subject. Pundit Ramgati Nyayaratna^s more con- 
siderable and painstaking work is far too sketchy and too 
orthodox to serve as a connected and critical account ; and 
his treatment of the nineteenth century, with which the 
Pundit seems to possess but little sympathy, is meagre and 
hasty. Mahamahopadhyay Haraprasad Shastri's fruitful 
researches in the field of early Bengali Literature is well- 
known ; but it is to be regretted that the learned scholar 
did not direct his investigation to comparatively modern 
periods except by way of contributing a suggestive survey 1 

of the nineteenth eenturv literature in the old series of the 
Bongadarsan. It is needless to mention other subsequent ^' 

works like those of Padmanabba Ghosal, Mahendra Nath i 

Bhattacharjee, Kailas Chandra Ghose, Romesh Chandra 
Dutt and others ; for researches in the field or at least 
accumulation of materials have necessarily made great 
strides in the thirty or forty years which have elapsed since 
their publication. The most recent treatment of the 
subject is to be found in Babu Dinesh Chandra Fen's newly 
published Jiistori/ of Benyali Liferainre, but it must be 
admitted that the learned author's account of the nineteenth 
century, which is dealt with only partially and which 
possibly did not come within the scope of his lucid lectures, 
is tacked on as a sort of appendix to his more valuable 
work on the earlier periods and, based as it is chiefly on the 
doubtful authority of Rev. J. Long's Catalogue, it is in 
itself a hardlv satisfactorv studv of the schools and leaders 
of this important era of Bengali Literature. It is remark- 
able indeed that recent investigations and researches in this 
field are directed more towards ancient Bengali Literature 
than towards its more modern i)hases. This apparent want 
of interest in a very noteworthy period must not, however, 
lead one to underrate its importance. It is true that the 
period of European writers in Bengali is not very acceptable 


to a mere literarv taster; but even in this seeminf^Wy dullest 
period of our literary history, there is much more than is 
ever dreamt of in the philoso])hy of the airy generaliser 
who hurries over it to pastures more agreeable. It is the 
silent but strenuous efforts of the hosts of forgotten or 
half-forgotten writers, both foreign and native, of this and 
later periods that have built up the whole fabric upon 
which the present-day literature is based : but it has always 
been the misfortune of the worthy pioneer authors to be 
kept in the background and looked upon as notable curio- 
sities. It is time, however, when their records are fast 
vanishing and in a few years will be irretrievably lost, 
that we must hasten to estimate their work and w'oi-th, 
reconstruct their history, and give them their respective 
share of credit in the growth and progress of the national 

Being thus without a competent guide in the field but 
convinced of the importance of the work, I have been 
obliged to chalk out my own path. The purpose and scope 
of the present volume will be rendered plainer by a glance 
through the book itself than I could hope to make it here 
except by way of anticipating what will be found in the 
following chapters. I may briefly add, however, that my 
object has been to give, from a literary point of view, but 
with a background of social and political history, and 
from a direct reading of the literature itself, an account 
of the important period in which, indeed, the obscure origins 
of modern Bengali Literature is to be sought, making it 
as full and as conveniently arranged as I could provide. 
The volume must not be regarded, however, as a mere store- 
house of facts, and although j)resented as an essav of 
literary and biographical criticism, it may also be taken as 
an historical review of the course of Bengali Literature 
from its decadence after Bharat Chandi-as's death to its 


rejuvenation under the British influence — if* nut a minute, 
at least a compact and logical survey of the authors and 
works that demand attention. It would be too late in the 
day surely to insist upon the historical metiiod of study of 
literature : but it has never been systematically and con- 
sistently applied to the investigation of iiiodern Bengali 

I am indeed aware that "the historical estimate" has 
its perils and snares and more than often results in strange 
freaks and that the discoverer of some forgotten minor 
writer is often under the temptation to magnify the value 
of his discovery ; yet in applying the historical method 
in literary criticism I am following what is widely accept- 
ed by all philosophical critics. It is indeed the best way 
to attain that "disinterested objectivity" in criticism 
which Matthew Arnold so highly applauds and to avoid 
that "provincial spirit" which he rightly condemns. It 
must not be supposed, however, that I have substituted 
bird's eye views and sweeping generalisations for positive 
knowledge. The chain of historical summary can never 
be forged without the links supplied by individual facts. 
Nor, on the other hand, should it be supposed that I have 
a peculiar theory of my own or any particular school to 
uphold. Not a single sketch has been discoloured nor 
the comprehension of the general drift distorted by my 
own ideas. On the other hand, each author has been 
judged on his own merits and in order to obtain a true 
historical perspective, I have treated literature not as an 
isolated phenomenon but have taken care always to keep 
in view the relation of the literature to the social and 
political history of the time, for literary thought and 
contemporary events, as I have pointed out elsewhere, are 
indeed the two inseparable aspects of history. The task 
of such a reconstruction is by no means easy and one oau 


never claim infaJJibility or finalit}- in a matter like this. 
To make a proper estimate of modern literature is, indeed, 
one of the most difficult tasks of literary criticism. An 
old country and its old literature is a study ; but a new 
country and its new literature is a problem. It is hard 
to realise the past ; but it is harder to read the present. 
All that this work can lay claim to is that a systematic, 
thoui^h tentative, attempt is made to study a progressive 
literature durin^j a most noteworthy period in all its 
remarkable phases reflecting the tliought and culture of 
the specified country and age. 

But the following pages form only the first volume of 
my projected history of the 19th century literature. It 
deals with a very small part of the subject and with a 
seemingly barren and uninteresting period between 1800 
and 1825. This is concerned, in the main, with the well- 
meaning but scarcely literary activity of the European 
writers, chietly missionaries, and their colleagues in the 
domain of Bengal prose as well as with the strong counter- 
current of native energy which found its vent in a body 
of indigenous poems and songs, standing, as they do, in 
direct contrast to the work of the Europeans. The Intro- 
ductory Retrospect is a brief preliminary recapitulation 
of the facts and circumstances which led to the beginnintis 
of the modern age and modern literature. It should be 
taken as an introduction not oiUn to the jnes* nt volume 
but also to the volumes which will follow. To many, 
minutely conversant with the history of this period, the 
account would seem to be inadequate ; while to others, 
interested directly in the literature itself, it would seem 
disproportionately long and dry. It is extremely difficult, 
indeed, to hit happily upon the golden mean between 
brevity and jtrolixity : yet the necessity of such a retros- 
pect must be admitted. It was not within my province 


to give more than a mere rapid sketch of the history of 
the period in all its varied aspects but only with reference 
to its bearings upon literature, although volumes may be 
and have been written on their difficult and vast subject. 
I have not hesitated to draw very considerably upon what 
has already been written on it and indeed I have drawn 
so considerably that it is not possible to acknowledge ^' 

my indebtedness in all eases except by way of a general 
reference in the bibliography. The recognised historians 
of this period of Indian History, I may be permitted to 
add, have divergent methods and view-points. Auber is 
complacent, Mill querulous, Thornton vindictive, Ghulam 
Hosain exuberant, Macaulay sweeping and Romesh Dutt 
vehement ; but the steadily accumulating mass of 
materials, in the shape of reports, pamphlets, bluebooks, 
state-papers and other documents would give to a patient 
scholar enough material for a thorough, sober, and I must 
add, imperatively necessary reconstruction of this period. 
The account of the European writers, which follow thig 
introductory sketch, is made as full and accurate as 
materials at my disposal would allow, for never has full 
justice been done to these worthy pioneers who have been j 

allowed to pass silently into oblivion. The average reader ] 

knows no other names than those of Carev and Marsh man 
but the interesting group of writers, great and small, | 

who surrounded or preceded these great names and added 
their little mite to the cause, are also worthy of grateful 
remembrance. They are, therefore, presented here as 
reputable and fairly interesting persons and not as un- 
presentable i)rogenitors always to be kept in the back- 
o-round. The early missionary movements in Bengal are 
studied for the first time from original sources with 
reference to their bearing on Bengali language and litera- 
ture and some pains are taken to trace the rather obscure 



and necfleeted history of the early Eoman Catholic mis- 
sions to Ben«=^al and tlieir connexion witli Beni^ali. The 
account of the Kabiwalas and other indigenous writers 
could not be made as full and well-arranp;ed as I had 
desired ; for the materials and means of study are ex<- 
tremely scanty and unsatisfactory. I am still engaged 
upon this invesligation and am collecting materials for 
fuller treatment ; in the mean time what is presented here 
must be taken as merely tentative. 

The large number of (piotations from various works 
scattered throughout the volume, no doubt, swells it to an 
enormous length but I could not always control the length 
of these illustrative extracts : for each quotation, in order 
to be illustrative, must be presented as complete in itself. 
Scraps and fragments and stray passages are not always 
helpful. In the next place the comparative scarcity 
of the books from which such j>assages are taken 
will, it is hoped, be an ample apology for their length 
and frequency. AVhen the history will come down 
to more recent times the quotations will naturally become 
fewer : for one may then depend on the reader's means 
of accjuaintance with the literature of his time. In these 
quotations I have carefully j)reserved the spelling and 
punctuation, of the original texts with which in all cases 
I have minutely compared and verified them. It will be 
also noticed that 1 have refrained from giving any ti^ansla- 
tion of these Bengali extracts for the simple reason that 
no translation could have adequately eonreyed the spirit 
of the original, and that the real importance of these 
writers lie not so much in their matter as in their form 
and method of expression, which mere translation can never 

As to chronology and classification, it is better to make 
a preliminary remark. Controlling dates and names, 


xir PREFACE j 

although necessary and useful if kept within bounds, are 
intended merely as artificerf of classification, for a better 
understanding of the general drift. There can be no 
hard-and-fast limits as encompassing an epoch, and history 
must unfold itself without any preconceived notion of 
artificial dates and eras. It is for this reason that in the 
present volume, the activity of the European writers has 
been traced for a certain unity of treatment down to the 
fifties, although after 18^5 their influence was on the 
wane, and other movements were becoming prominent. 
On the other hand, I have thought it simpler to defer an 
enquiry into the first glimmerings of the struggle between 
Anglicism and Orientalism and the history of English 
education in its bearing on Bengali literature as well as 
the account of the rise of the Reforming Young Bengal 
under the leadership of David Hare, Derozio and others 
to the beginning of a separate volume, instead of dealing 
with them piecemeal at the end of the present essay. 
Some of the works of Raja Ram Mohan Ray and his 
colleagues belong chronologically to this period, but from 
the standpoint of literary history, they embody a subsidiary 
movement which comes into relief a little later, and are, 
therefore, deliberately reserved for later treatment. With- 
out therefore disturbing in the least the true historical 
perspective, I have never attempted to force an account of 
any movement, literary or otherwise, into strict chronolo- 
gical shackles, but I have sometimes boldly looked forward 
while at others paused for a profitable retrospect, always 
bearing in mind that the natural course of events seldom 
takes as smooth and orderly development as we may desire. 
With regard to transliteration of Bengali words, I have 
generally followed, with the exceptions noted below, the 
international method agreed upon by Orientalists for 
Sanscrit. In some cases where the name of a olaoe or a. 




pei"son has (jot a standarised s|)ellin<:j (as in ('hinsiirah, 
Howrah, and Bnrdwan), I have tliought it fit to retain it; 
but in all other cases, the transliteration is done in the 
mode indicated with the only exception of iisinp: cha for 5. 
The words are, however, always rendered, not phonetically, 
but according to the recognised spelling, although widest 
possible divergence exists between the historical spelling 
and the actual pronunciation of Bengali words. I have, 
therefore, always rendered ^ by 3/(', whether occuring singly 
or in compound letter, «l by na distinguishing them rtspec- 
tively, although they are not so distinguished in pronun- 
ciation, from ^ ( /'7) and 5? (wrr). Similarly the three 
consonants 1, ^, and >f are distinguished by different signs 
{h, .? and .«) although they not often thus discriminated in 
pronunciation. The same remark applies to compound 
letters : I have rendered, as in Sanscrit, ^ bv ksa, ® by jfia, 
and so forth. Partly on account of this divergence between 
spelling and pronunciation, which makes it impossible to 
apply Sanscritic transliteration in toto to the case of the 
living vernacular, I have been forced to make one or two 
important execptiuns. T have not distinguished between 
A (t'fl) and ^ {he), for this distinction is hardly recognised 
in Bengali, either i>i spelling or pronunciation ; I have 
therefore used ha indiscrininiately for them. The final 
^ (a) presents some difhculty, for very often it is passed 
over in pronunciation. "We write ^l^'f*! (Nila-darpana) 
but we read it as ^?iw«fei^ (Nil-darpan). In these cases, 
I have generally dropped the "^ (o). This, on the whole, is 
not a verv' satisfactory method ; but in the absence of a 
better one, I have tentatively followed it here, leaving the 
whole question, which is indeed one of great practical 
importance, to the consideration of expert scholars. 

In the task of collecting materials for the present 
volume, I hava met with considerable difficulties known 


only to workers in the same field. Although not more 
than a century has elapsed, the publications passed in 
review have already become very scarce and have seldom 
been satisfactorily reprinted ; and in search of them, I bad 
to ransack many libraries, great and small, departmental, 
public, and private, in Calcutta and outside, to which I 
could get access. Much of these interesting publications 
of the early nineteenth century is unhappily lost; much, 
unless we hasten to the rescue, is fast vanishing ; while 
much, again, is scattered all over the countrv finding its 
way ultimately among many heterogenous collections, 
public and private. No complete history can ever be 
hoped for, till all these old publications and files, more or 
less complete, of old news-papers have been disentombed. 
There is not a single news-paper office in Calcutta — and 
Calcutta is a fair example of the country in this matter — 
that possesses a complete file of its own issue : not a single 
library, public or private, which contains even the more 
important Bengali publications of the first half of the 
century. However interesting and useful stray extracts 
or stray passages from these papers or publications may be, 
it is utterly impossible to write the history of this or any- 
other period of the countrv'^s progress, political, social, or 
literary, as fully as could be done if these and other 
things had been carefully preserved or collected together. 
But in view of the fact that even what is now extant may 
in the course of a few years be irretrievablv lost, it is time 
that we must seriously think of constructing a general view 
of the period out of the materials which still remain to us. 

The writer of this thesis, however, has been successful 
in having access to most of the important publications he 
has dealt with. For the privilege of reading and examining 
laro'e number of books passed in review — only a trifling 
percentage of those mentioned was inaccessible to him [ 


and it was necessary to examine many that proved to be 
unworthy of mention — I have to .thank the authorities of 
many libraries in or near Calcutta. 1 had expected to 
find a good collection of Bengali publications preserved in 
the Serampore College Library, but besides a few relics 
of the venerable old Carev, various missionar\- tracts, 
a nice collection of books pertaining to the history of the 
missiouarv movements in India, and a few old tiles of the 
Fr/e/i4 ()/' /ndiii a,nd other Christian papers, I could dis- 
cover nothinij else of an\' interest. Throuj>h the kind 
interest of a friend, who was residing in England at the 
time when this book was in hand and who at my 
request transcribed books and details for him, I had access, 
though not to the extent I had desired, to the benefit of 
the collection in the Librai\ of the British Museum and 
of the India OtUce, with regard to both of which I had 
also invaluable helj) from Blumhardt's descriptive Cata- 
logues. But my chief indebtedness is to the Library of 
the Board of Examiners, late Fort AVilliam College, from 
whioh all the Bengali publications of that College had 
been procured for me by the authorities of the Imperial 
Library of Calcutta. My thanks are also due in this 
connexion to the late Mr. W. E. Madge, formerly Super- 
intendent of the Reading Room in this Library and to 
Mr. Sureudrauath Kumar, his successor to the same office, 
for their interest in my work and for uniform courtesy and 
kindness shown to me during the time I studied there. 
I must also thank the authorities of the Bangiya Sahitya 
Parisat for permitting me to make ample use of its tine 
collection of Bengali books and manuscripts. My special 
thanks in this respect are due to Babu Basantaranjan Ray, 
keeper of these manuscripts, for kindly giving me all 
facilities for using them and also for placing at my dis- 
l)osal his expert knowledge in this matter. He never 

xviii PREFACE 

grudged to render me help whenever I required it and 

also very kindly undertook to compare and verify the 

quotations cited from these manuscripts in the Appendix 

to this volume. I should also take this opportunity of 

associating this insignificant work with the honoured name 

of the late lamented Principal Ramendrasundar Tribedi, 

who was, in more than a metaphorical sense, the life and soul 

of the Sahitya Parisat. His recent and untimely death is 

mourned all over Bengal and there is no need for prolix 

panegyrics in the case of one who is so widely known by 

his life and work ; but I cannot remain satisfied without 

giving voice to my sense of indebtedness and esteem for 

one to whom I am grateful in many ways and without 

expressing my personal regret that I could not show him 

these pages, in which he took so much interest, in print. 

To the ripe and varied scholarship of Mahamahopadhyay 

Haraprasad Shastri^ I am deeply indebted in divers ways, 

for I was always allowed to draw liberally upon it ; and 

his contagious enthusiasm for Bena^ali languagre and liter- 

ature has been a source of unfailing inspiration to me. 

Among other friends and scholars who kindly helped me 

in various ways, my thanks are specially due to my friend 

and colleague Professor Rameshchandra Mazumdar M.A., 

Ph.D. for steady encouragement, for valuable suggestions 

and for procuring me some rare books from the Library of 

the Bengal Asiatic Society. I may be allowed to note here 

that Dr. Mazumdar first drew my attention to the only 

extant copy in that Library of Manoel de Assump9ao's 

Crepar Xa>trer OrWihed, one of the earliest printed books 

written by a Portuguese missionary. To another friend 

and colleague, Professor Sunitikumar Chatterji M.A., 

I am indebted for help in various ways and- specially for 

getting me a copy of Father Guerin's edition of the work 

referred to above from Father Wauters of Dharmatalla 


Church, ami I must thank Professor Narayauchandra 
Bauerjee M,A. of the University for a copy of Gnpfn- 
ratnoddhar which I could not get here and which he pro- 
cured for me very promptly from Benares. My friend, 
Babu Mohitlal Mazumdar, very kindly and carefully i)re- 
pared an index to this volume, which, for shortness of 
time, could not be printed in this volume. I must also 
acknowled'jre oblifjations to the Staff of the Calcutta Uni- 
versity Press for prompt assistance and unfailing courtesy 
in getting these pages in print in a remarkably short time. 
To them and to all others who have helped me by lending 
books, by giving facilities for research and in other ways, 
it is a pleasure to return my heartiest thanks. 

I cannot conclude without availing myself here of the 
privilege of expressing my deep sense of obligation to 
Sir Asutosh Mukhopadhyaya who has been at the holm of 
this University for many years past and would be, let us 
hope, for many years to come. It is not necessary to 
dwell upon his undoubted titles to our gratitude, esteem 
and love, or upon the roll of his varied services, not yet 
closed, in the cause of University education in Bengal : 
for every one, connected with the University or standing 
outside, is well aware of his long and unstinted devotion 
to the interests of the country and of the high sense of 
duty which impels him to scorn delights and live labori- 
ous days, not for riches or honours, place or power nor even 
for such fame as grows on mortal soil. But I may be 
permitted to refer in this connexion to his brilliant and 
fruitful efforts which have at last obtained academic recog- 
nition for the neglected vernacular languages and liter- 
atures of India and to acknowledge the magniticent in- 
ducement, now made possible by him, for the scientific 
study of those languages and litemtures. It is his in- 
spiration which dispelled all my doubts about the necessity 


of a work like this and it is his generous eneoura»^ement 
which has made possible its publication. 

I am fully aware that this essay is not free from errors 
and defects. In a field where workers are few and en- 
couragement, until quite recently, very little, one has to 
work under considerable difficulties and disadvantages 
and nothing would be more welcome than sympathy and 
co-operation. With the progress of investigation in the 
held, new facts are bound to come to light every day ; 
and even of the facts that have already been known we 
can never pretend that he has taken them all into con- 
sideration. All suggestions for im})rovement and correction 
therefore would be thankfully received. There are a few 
obvious misprints and mistakes which, in spite of my best 
efforts, the necessity of quick publication could not avoid 
and for which I crave the indulgence of the generous 
reader. The exceedingly short time within which the 
book had to be rushed through the press did not allow me 
in all cases to verify the references given in the footnotes 
and in some eases the books, though easily procurable at 
the time of writing this essay, had now become difficult of 
access and for these I had to depend entirely upon the 
notes I had previously made. These shortcomings, how- 
ever, let me trust, are not material. In conclusion I can 
only hope that the volume contains enough to justify its 
publication in the present form. 

Senate House 


Calcutta, Jul I) 17, 1919. 


Division of Subjoof 

Introductory Hetrospeot, 17(50-1 = 00 ... 

Kiirliest European Writers 

("arev and orlrilnipur Mission 

(.'arey and Fort "William Collofj^e 

Pundits and Munsis of Fort AVilliani ('olloge 

Earliest. I?eni»;ali Journalism 

loiter ]*>uropean Writers ... 

(jeneral Cliaraeteristics ... 

Interre<:^nnm in Poetr}- from 1700 


Love-Lyries and Devotional Songs 

^liscellaneous Writers in the Old Stvie 

Appendix I. OKI r}en<'-ali Prose 

A})pendix II. 15t'ni,rali Bihle 

Appendix III. Gilclirist's Oriental Fal)ulist 

Appendix IX. I'arly Christian Periodicals 

Appendix A'. \v,\\\y (christian Tracts 











Division of Subject. 

The literature produced since the permanence of the 
British rule in Bengal, which is often conveniently described 

as "modern" literature, has a character 
The literature why of its own, at oncc brilliant, diverse, 

called "modern." ' ' 

and complex. To label it in a phrase 
is not onlv dillicult but often niisleadins: : for never was 
there a literature more memorable for its rapid development 
and its copious and versatile gifts. It can to-day boast 
of many characteristics, and the central note is lost in 
the extreme diversity of forms and tendencies exhibited. 
It is full of vitality, versatility, and diligence : critical and 
cultured, intensely personal and self-regulated ; ai)parently 
defiant of all laws, of standards, of conventions : yet a little 

reflection will show that in spite of 
The chai-acter of mo- this diversity of styles and motives, 

dern Bengali literature ,i • • • • , , • , 

essentially different in this epoch has a character which 
its form and motive differentiates it from anv other era of 

from its pre-British _ '^ 

fore-runner. Bengali literature. Can wv imagine 

Kr.<}nakat)ter Uil being ])ublished in the 
age of Bidyapati or Ntf-darpnn in that of Bharat-chandra ? 


How different are the problems of life and character which 
Kabikankan paints from those we see reflected in the pages 
of Rabindranath ! What a new world is that of Michael, 
Hem, or Nabin beside that revealed to us by Bijay, 
Ksemananda, or Ram-prasad ! What wholly different 
types, ideas, and aims! It may not be easy to indicate what 
these characteristic differences are, but there can be no 
doubt that our age, although presenting, as it does, instances 
of a dozen different styles, certainly possesses its own 

unmistakable zeit(/eist in phraseology 

Hence the necessity ^^^]^ substance which distinguishes it 
of a separate treatment ^ 

in spite of historic con- from all other ages. What these 

characteristic points of difference are 
we shall see clearly as we proceed in our study of the 
literature itself ; but at the outset it must be admitted that 
modern Bengali literature, as such, has surely a claim for 
treatment peculiarly suited to itself. 

But it would be a difficult problem in social dj'namics 
to fix any thing like an exact date for 
The starting point. this change in the tone of the litera- 

ture or to trace it back to its social 
causes. Broadly speaking, our literature began, no doubt, 
with the permanence of the British rule and the spread of 
western ideas ; but these events cover almost a century from 
1757 to 1857. The death of Bharat-chandra in 1700, only 
three years after Plasse}'^, in which we reach a political and 

social cause of the great change, is 

The dates usually and ^ft^j^ ^^\.q^ ^s the typical date ; but it 
generally accepted are 

1760 and 1858; but might also be contended that the 

both seem arbitrary. i ii p T- /-i i • ic-c i 

death or isvar (jupta ui ibob marks 

the end of the most effective note in the older current of 

literature and the beginning of the new era. Yet both 

these dates, it is obvious, arc purely arbitrary points. For 

the modern tone in literature can hardly be detected in any 


thini^ written after 1700 till almost hall' a century 
elapses ; on (he other hand, the t^rowth of this new trend 
in literature may be detected some half a century earlier 
than 1S58. and Isvar Ciupta himself is not wholly free 
from the new influence. If an approximate date is neces- 
sary, it is to be found somewhere in the first quarter of the 
IDth century: and the year 1800 is usually, and may be 

rous^hly, taken to be the starting 

No exact date can I,c p^j^t jj^^^ j^ jj^^g^. j^g ^^^^.^^^ jj^ j^^j^^l 
hxeil ; but 1800 A.D. '■ 

may bo taken as the that such approximation of a date is 
approximate one. -,11 1 t . 

mtendcd, more or less, merely to 

facilitate classification. Some mispfuided critic has been 
induced to baptise this era of literature as the Victorian 
age. Such a nomenclature is not only mistaken but also 
misleading; for, as put by a well-known critic of the 
present day, "neither reigns nor years, nor centuries, nor 
any arbitrary measure of time in the gradual evolution of 
thought can be exactly applied, or have any formative 
influence. A period of so many years, having some well- 
known name by which it can be labelled, is a mere artifice 
of classification."^ Subject to this caution, however, we 
may safely take 1800 to be the starting point in the new 
era of Bengali literature. 

But the historian of literature cannot, however, 
overlook the long dead-season for 

Yet we arc bound to flfj^. ..g^rs which preceded the 
take account of the . ./ 

most eventful period year 1800; for although in this 

between 1700 and 1800; " • 1 , ^ ^•^ 1. a_ 

and the period, 1800- period we have scanty literature, yet 
1858, though not rich ^^q^]^ f,f another kind was being 

in actual j)roduction, is '^ 

yet its formative stage accomplished in thcsc apparently 

and its importance can , -n ,1 1 .,1 <• 

not be ignored. barren years. Jbrom the battle of 

Plassey to the beginning of the 19th 

' Frederic Uarriaon, Studies in Early Victorian Literature, p. 2. 


century, mighty revolutions were oceuring not only in 
the political and the social but also in the literary history 
of Bengal. In an historical study of literature, the far- 
reaching significance of these years cannot surely be 
isuored. On the other hand, although the first half of 
the 19th century till 1858 is comparatively barren from 
a strictly literary point of view, yet this was the formative 
period of modern literature, and the early devoted labours 
of the various philanthropic Europeans and Indians, 
whose memory is still cherished by grateful Bengalis^ 
had sown the seeds which, when the time came, 
broke into the rich and lovelv after-cjrowths of modern 

We, therefore, propose, taking 1800 A.D. to be roughly 

the year of commencement, to discuss 

Division into periods ^nd decide, first of all, by way of 

(i) Introductory Re-' ... 

trospecfc, 1760-1800. introduction, the question of origins, 

with a preliminary recapitulation of 
the causes and circumstances, political, social, and literary 
which led to the beginning of modern literature. This 
will involve a cursory review of the period between 1757 
(or 1760) and 1800 in its various aspects, and its bearing 
upon literature. From 1800, the year of the foundation 

of the Fort William College and the 

(ii) Beginnings formation of the Srirampur Mission, 

1800-1825. ^ . . ' 

to 1825, the year of the publication 

of the last volume of Carey's Biciionary and the laying 

of the foundation-stone of the Hindu College, we have a 

period of very great importance in our literature from 

an historical rather than a literary point of view: for we are 

concerned here with the early beginnings of our literature, 

with the labours of the Missionaries and the Civilians, 

and with the early efforts, public and private, for the 

spread of British education in Bengal. From 1825 to 


1858, the year of the death of Isvar Gupta and the first 

appearance of Michael's dramas, 

(iii) Transiuon. followed within five years by the pub- 

182o-18o8. .' J I 

lication of Tiloffama, Nll-darpan and 
Durges-nandinl, we are in a transitional period of great 
ferment on every side, during which the country, awakened 
to new energies, was struggling to break fresh ground 
by assimilating the wealth of new ideas now brought before 
it. All the greatest strifes, social, religious, and literary 
were fought, though not completely won, during this 
|)eriod of awakened activity. The problem of English 
education now decisively settled, the triumph of the West 
was fully proclaimed ; and the literature as well as the 
society, in trying to adjust itself to this new order of things, 
began to take a distinctly new tone and colour. This 
was the era of the Reforming Young Bengal. The various, 
plentiful, but inferior literature produced during these 
years in which new experiments were tried, new veins 
of thought opened, a new public and a new order of 
writers created, prepared the way for the great flood-tide 
which began with 1858. From the latter date w^e 

have a third epoch of great fertility, 
(iv) Revolution. brilliant achievement, and high 

promise, during which all the older 
ideas of life and literature were being revolutionised 
and transmuted itito things better suited to the needs 
of the new era. Tiie Literary Young Bengal came to 
take the lead. 

Our entpiiry in the following pages will be chiefly 
confined to the tracing of the origins, to the well-meant 
bnt .scarcely fruitful activity of pioneer authors who range 
over a seemingly dull and barren j)eriod at the commence- 
ment of our literary history. Wo need not lament, how- 
ever, that at the beginning of our acquaintance, we do 


not see our literature at its best, that we are not introduced 
at onee to a Homer. AVe have, it is true, to plod wearily 

through a mass of indifferent writings 

Scope and method of ^hose charm, if any, seems to have 

the present enquiry. long palled, before we come to a single 

good writer of importance ^ but it 
is well that we should du so. It enables us to examine the 
foundations more critically and get the parts of history into 
true proportion and connection. We are apt to pass lightly 
over the early beginnings of literary history as a stage that 
we have outgrown and lay greater stress upon periods more 
engaging: but no theory is more inaccurate or insufficient 
than that which despises the historic estimate and bids us 
look only to the 'best' or the 'principal' things. In an era 
of evolutionary philosophy, it would be idle to investigate 
any manifestation of the spirit of nature or of man apart 
from its origin and growth. We can not despise the bar- 
barian for the civilised man, as Hume perhaps would have 
done; for to the student of modern sociology, the barbarian 
becomes important in his organic relation to the civilised 
man, and the whole ''social series," to quote a phrase of 
Mill's, must be studied step by step through the various 
stages of develoi^ment. No more can the historian of 
literature ignore the rude unshaped farrago of writings 
which always precedes the literature of a finer stuff; for the 
one can never be studied intelligently without the help of 
the other. The literature, therefore, which is represented, 
in poetry and in prose, by the great names of INIiehael and 
Bankim, must be studied in the light of the no-literature 
that is represented by the lesser names of Carey and 
Mrtyunjay. It is no waste of time to trace step by step the 
way in which we have laid the foundations of a national 
literature which, if not rich in present accomplishment, is 
radiant with the promise of the future. 


Introductory Retrospect. 

CiKCA. 1760-1800. 

Taking 1800 A.D. to be roughly the date of eommence- 

raent of the modern era of Bengali Literature, we find, 

however, that it is not until nearly half a century elapses 

that we come across any literature strictly deserving the 

name. In the meantime if we pause 

Tho nece88ity of a for a moment and look at the political 

cursory retrospect of ^^-^^ ^^ ^l Country and the 

facts relating to tlio " -^ 

general condition of general Condition of the people, from 

Bengal between 1700- , ^ i i • • 

1800. 17 GO to the beginning or the 19th 

century, we shall find that it was an 
age in which we can hardly expect any quiet development 
of literature under favourable political and social conditions. 
It will be profitable at the outset to study here, however 
briefly, the general history of the period in relation to its 
literature: for every history of literature must always have 
a back-ground of political and social history. 

The political history of Ik'ngal in the latter half of the 
18th century is essentially the history of the rise, growth, 
and irradual establishment of the British rule. The 

so-called battle of 1757 is usually 

Rise and growth of ^"'l popularly regarded as marking 

the English power. .^ turning point in the history of 

Bengal : but it is well-known that 
this petty rout,' usually glorified with the association 

' So designated by Lyall, lUse of the British Dominion in hulin, 
p 107. Soo Hill, Bcmjal in /7.76*.57, I. ccii and cciii ; also 111.212; 
Finuinger, Introduction to the Fifth }iC}jort, Vol.1, p. i-iii, and referttnccB 
cited therein. 


of undying military renown, was not direct!}' productive 

of any fresh privilege to the English power; nor did it, in 

itself, affect the political destiny of 

Position of the Eng- the Country. Clive himself did not 
lish iu Bengal in the i i i i. u i i 

middle of the I8th pei'haps know what he had won, 
century. although later on his tendency to 

exaggerate the value of his services led 
him to magnify his achievements ; nor did the servants of 
the Company, at that time, attach much importance to this 
incident ; still less were they aware of any definite act of 
conquest usuall}^ associated with this battle. " The general 
idea""^ writes Luke Serafton, who had intimate knowledge 
of the English affairs in 1757, "at this time entertained by 
the servants of the Company was that the battle of Plassey 
did only restore us to the same situation we were in before 
the capture of Calcutta; the Subah was conceived to be as 
independent as ever, and the English returned into their 
commercial character."* No fresh commercial privileges 
were asked of Mir Ja'far nor were any wanted by the 
Company who were content with the terms granted to 
them iu 1716.^ As yet there was hardly any important 
acquisition of territory by the Company who, more mind- 
ful of their commercial interests than anything else, 
chose to seek umbrage under the shadow of the Moham- 
medan power, itself declining. Even iu 1765, Clive 
flattered himself that he had " revived the power of the 
Great Mughal,'''' and for a long time after Plassey, 

' Luke Serafton, Observations on Mr. Vansittart's Narrative, p. 2, 

- Yansittart, A Narrative of the Transactions in Bengal, vo). i, p. 24. 

The treaty with Mir Jii'far is griven in Aichison, Conec/!0« o/ Tceattes 

etc. Vol. I, p. 186 ; also Yerelst, Vtev: of the Rise and Progress etc. of 

English Oovernment of Bengal, p. 143-44. 

* Letter of the Governor and Select Committee to the Court, Sep. 

30, 1765, quoted in Firminger, op. cit, p. viii. 


whatever territory the Com pan >• held, it held not on terms 
of military eoncjuest but as a j^rant from a superior 
Mohammedan power. There was, no doubt, a fiction 
involved in all these proceedinEjs — a masqueraile as Clive 
chose to describe it — yet the English at this time held 
ejround in Bengal chiefly as trader and secondarily as 
revenue-collector under the Mogul Emperor. The 
term " British Empire in India " obtained currency from 
its first bold use in 1772 by Warren Hastings, who for 
the first time disclosed a deeper sense of the respon- 
sibilities of empire ; but the possession of the sovereign 
rights by the Nawab was still recognised, and the long 
debate,' vehemently carried on, in the Court and on the 
Council Board, on the question of sovereignty in Bengal, 
would go to show how little the English trading company 
at this time was conscious of any conquest of the country 
by its military power, and how greatly it was conscious 
of the instability of its own footing. 

But though Plassey cannot be directly credited to 
have brought into being the British empire in Bengal, 
yet the great empire of the Mogul and its subahdiir-ship 
in Bengal were gradually breaking down. The period 
between 1757 and 1765 witnessed also the down-fall of 
the Frencii commercial settlements which left Bengal 

open to the English. In spite of 

Cornraeroialiam aa a these and other opjiortunities, it 
dominating factor in i i i • 

the Company's policy. tooK nearly halt a eentury, however, 

for the Briti.Kh rule to establisli 

itself firmly in Bengal. One of the chief reasons for 

this was tliat, during these years, commercialism was 

the dominating factor in the policy of the Directors of 

the Company ; and it was by slow degrees that they 

dejjarted from their original commercial position. About 

' Finninger, op. cit, p. xiv-xxi : p. cclvi-cclvii. 


the time of Clive's second mission, no doubt, a schism 
arose in the Court of Directors which heralded a 
fundamental change in the character of the Company. 
One party was for trade alone, the other supported Clive 
in his proposal to accept the DewanT and thus incur the 
responsibility of government. In 1761, the Court wrote 
to its agents in India, declaring that trade was to be 
combined with " warfare, fortification, military prudence, 
and political government."* But this military precaution 
was urged chiefly for the protection of trade and, although 
the break-up of the Mohammedan rule was beginning to offer 
vast opportunities to the trader to become a soldier and a 
politician, the Court always insisted upon au attitude 
of non-intervention and jseremptorily disapproved, on more 
than one occasion, the intention of its agents for territorial 
acquisition when such a step did not also extend their 
sales and profits.'' 

It was by slow degrees, therefore, that the company of 
calculating shop-keepers turned into earnest empire-builders. 

Gradually they began to acquire 

Slow iiu,i gradual zemindary rights, monopolise revenue, 

acquisition of power. assumc civil control, and step by 

step exclude the Mohammedan 
Government by destroying its financial and military 
supremacy. This long process of gradually exhausting 
and appropriating the functions of tlie existing govern- 
ment, whieli, however, meant, as it did, half a century of 
misery to the i)eople, first began with the grant of the 
districts of Burdwan, Midnapur, and Chittagong in 1700. 
The necessities of revenue administration compelled the 
C(mipany to build u|) a system of internal government 

' Quoted in F. P. Robinson, The Trade of the East India Company, 

p 67. 

* Esp. Letter to Bengal, Marcli 16, 1768, quoted in Auber, Rise and 
Progress etc. vol. ii, p. 185. 


and consolidate its military power; but it was not till the 
grant of the DewanT in 17(»') that it began to obtain a 
complete control over finance, over the administration of 

civil justice, and over the entire 

Accession to the military defence of the country. 

^®^*°'- The accession to the DewanT, which, 

however, was declined by the Directors 
on a former occasion, imposed upon the British traders 
the duties of administration. They began to exercise every 
prerogative of the sovereign save that of criminal 
justice.' But even then, though real masters of the country, 
they preferred to wear the mask of double government. 
By this device, to all the abuses of the ancient system 
of government were superadded all the evils of a new 

system of divided authority. The 
State of Bengal under people grew uncertain as to where 

tho Double Ltovciu- * ' _ 

raent. his obedience was due.- The Nawab, 

though theoretically left in his full 
glory as subahdar, was, in the language of Clive, 
" a shadow " and " a name," and was deprived of every 
independent military and financial support of his executive. 
The Hon'ble Company, on the other hand, though actual 
sovereigns, pretended to be nothing more than mere passive 
receivers of profits and revenues, and tho shadow of the 
Nawab was a convenient covering for all their acts of 
exaction and oppression. The country was placed under 
extensive misrule. Tho individual British adventurer, in 
the service of tho Company, brought up, since the days of 
Clive, in the tradition of aggression, dethronement, spolia- 
tion, and extortion, considered high-handed proceedings as 
his time-honoured privilege, grown out of the anomalous 
way in which the British power came into being. These 

' Field, Regulations of tho Bengal Code, Introd., p. i. 
* VereUt, op. cit. App. p. 122. 


servants of the Company, abroad with a nominal salary, 
were comin<jf home laden with such colossal fortune, often 
acquired with no clean hand, that the ' Indian Nabob ' 
became a scandalously proverbial term. Every vice which 
is the offspring of unlimited authority and insatiable avarice, 
flourished unchecked. The papers relating to the conduct 
of the Company's servants and their underlings on 
the whole question of internal trade, of receiving presents, 
The conduct of the ^nd other corrupt and pernicious 
Company's servants. practices, remain as an indelible blot 
in the early records of the Company's history.^ 

It is not easy to imagine today what suffering this 
meant to the country. The anarchical state in which the 
provinces were placed not only contributed powerfully to 

its impoverishment but it absolutely 
What it meant to ,. , , ^, r. .1' 

the country. dissolved the government or the 

country so far as the protection of 

the people was concerned. The truculent Mohammedan 

or the Mahratta was, in his day, a tyrant from fitful 

caprice, from lax police and unchecked violence. But the 

cold calculating Anglo-Indian was a tyrant from prescience, 

and his tyranny, with his superior shrewdness and power 

of organisation, was a system in itself, which extending, 

as it did, to every village market and every manufacturer's^ 

loom, touched the trades, the occupations, and the lives of 

the people very closely.^ His commercial cupidity, under 

' See, for instance, Director's Letter, dated Feb. 8, 1764 (quoted in 
the Second Report of the Select Committee, 1772) ; Olive's Letter to 
the Directors, dated Sep. 30, 1765 (Third Rep. 1773, App. pp. 391-98, 
Mir Kasim's Letter, dated Marcli 2G, 1762; also ibid, dated May, 1762; 
Hastinjrs' Letters to the Governor, dated May 13 and 26, 1762 ; ibid, dated 
April 25, 1762; Vansittart, op. cit. ii. pp. 80-81, iii. 74, iii. 381 ; Verelst, op. 
cit. p. 8 and p. 46 et seq ; Account of Gray, Resident at Maldah, quoted 
in Verelst, p. 49; Bo\t, Consideratio7ifi etc., p. 191-194; Mill, History, 
Bk iv. pp. 327-338, also p. 392 et seq ; Seir Mutaqherin iii. sec. xiv. 
esp. p. 201 et seq. 

» Vansittart's Letter to the Proprietors of India Stock, 1767, pp. 88, 
89, 93, quoted in Mill, op. cit. iii. p. 431 footnote. 


a system of monopoly and coercion, deprived the country 
of those sources of wealth, of " those rights of free produc- 
tion and free barter which they had enjoyed under n;ood 
and bad <>;overnnient alike."' The consequences were too 
evidently exemplified in the ruin of the entire inland trade 
and manufacture, in the decline of airriculture under 
oppressive systems of land-settlements, in the diminution 
of the specie, and in the s^eneral distress of the poor. The 
reputation of the KiiLjlish was so bad in Bengal that no 
sooner did a Euroi)ean come into one of the villages " than 
all the shops were immediately locked up and all the peoi)le 
for their own safety ran away.'"- " The sources of 
tyranny and oi)pression " said Clive in his memorable letter 
to the Directors, " which have been opened by the 
European agents acting under the authority of the Com- 
pany's servants and the numberless black agents and 
sub-agents, acting also under them, will, I fear, be a 
lasting reproach to the English name in this country."^ 
Ill 1772, the Select Committee express themselves 
bound " to lay oi)en to the view of the Directors a series 
of transactions too notoriously known to be suj>j>ressed, 
and too affecting to their interest, to the character and 
to the existence of the C«>mpany in Bengal, to escape 
unnoticed aud uncensured ; transactions which seem to 
demonstrate that every spring of their government was 
smeared with corruption : that j^'-inciples of rapacity and 
o[)j)ression universally prevailed, and that every spark of 
sentiment and jiublic spirit was lost and extinguished in 
the unbounded lust of unmerited wealth."' Even 

■ R. C. Dutt, Economic History, p 27 and pp. 30-31. 

• Memoirs of a Oentlemnn tcho reaitled for several years in the EnM 
Indies, quoted in RobinHon, op. cit., p 70. 

' Clivf's Letter to the Directors, dated Sip. :iUtli, 1765 (Third 
Report, App. p. 3i>l et. seq.) 

♦ Third Report, 1772, App. No. 86. 


Hastings' declared as early as 176:2 that " the country 

people are habituated to entertain the most unfavourable 

notion of our government" and Verelst - asked in 1772 

" How could we inake the sordid interests of the trader 

consistent with that unbiased integrity which must 

reconcile the natives to a new dominion ? " Nothing 

would be a more apt and incising description of the 

miserable state of the country than the celebrated simile 

of the author of the Seir Mutaqfierin^ in whiul) he compares 

it to the predicament of an untenanted house infested 

by robbers but having no master to protect it. 

The Anglo-Indian society, itself degraded, made light 

of such unrighteous proceedings : and tne private morals of 

the Company's servants Were no better 
The private morals u • IT ^ ^- u ^.■ 

of the Company's ser- tiiau their pubJic conduct. Hastmgs 

vants no better than ^^^ gjj. pj^jjj YY2.nQ\% lived in open 
their public conduct. ^ ' 

adultery ; and extravagant rumours 

were afloat with respect to the latter's card-winnings. The 
morals of the majority of the Company's servants are 
truthfully, if grossly, portrayed in the weekly Hicky's 
Gazette ^, published a hundred years ago ; and it is well- 
known that this notorious paper, itself conducted by one of 
"the most objectionable rowdy that ever landed in Calcutta," 
was ruined by incurring Hastings' displeasure for making 
public the strictly private arrangement by which the'wife 
of the German adverturer and portrait-painter had become 
the wife of the great Governor-Cjeneral. Sunday was 
not only given np to horse-racing, card-gambling, and 

' Hasting's Letter, dated Ap. 25, 1762 quoted in R. C. Dutt, 
oj>. cit., p. 22. 

' Verelst, op. cit., p. 62. 

• Seir Mutaqherin, iii. 185. 

* Bustcod, Echoes from Old Calcutla. 1S88, gives many specimens ; 
see p 171 et. seq. (ch. vii.) ; see also pp.109- 170 on the social life of the 


niasqueraJes : but " Sunday afternoons " we are told " as 
well as the early mornini^ before the sun was too h\^h in the 
heavens, were frequently taken advanta^je of to <ret rid of 
the accumulated evil passions roused between ij^entlemen, 
who mi^ht be seen, commonly enoucrh, furnished with 
swords and j^istols, wendintj their way in palaiujuins towards 
Tolly's Nullah, as it enters the Hooj^hly, to settle their 
little ilifFerences after the manner of Hastiufjs and Francis; 
and they not unfreqnently returned with a pistol-bullet 
or a sword-thrust as a memento of their outing and a 
remembrance of the region of Kidderi)ore."' 

It cannot be denied, however, that the ('ompany's 

Directors were tryiuji^ their best to 

The iidininiairative put down this state of thin^js and 

policy of the Com- 
pany's government. were consistently condemninijj in un- 
equivocal terms the conduct and 
cimracter of their servants ; yet the polic}' of the Company's 
government itself was a faithful retleetion of its narrow 
commercial views. In order to enhance the value of his 
services, Clive had propagated the pernicious belief that 
India overflowed with riches, and the servants of the 
Company kept U|) this tr.idition by furnishing j>erpetually 
tiattering accounts of their affairs in India.-' Notwith- 
standing a knowledge of the pecuniary embarrassments 
of the C^oinpany, the inailequacy of the revenues, and the 
exhaustion of the treasury, the Directors were com|)elled, 
bv the glorious promises so eoMtiiJentlv ni ide of unboimded 

' In 1793, was pnblished a hook entitled "Thonghts on Duollini;" 
by R "writer in tlic Mon'lilc Coiiip,-in\ 's Service " with a view to a.scrrlain 
its orij;in ami cfTi'ct on xoeit-ty. (ScUtn-Karr, Sclrrfinn from Ciilrnttn 
Gazettt: ii, .'>(54). See also (inntl .Old l>ays <>/ Kon'hlc John Company, 
ch. zxiii and x\\. On the profanation uf Sunday, sec the Letter of the 
UirectorH (17!»M) anti thi- proclamation of the (J -G. Nov. '.», I71W, <{uotcd 
op. cit. ii, p. 3G-37. 

* Mill, oj>. ri7, iii. 432. Mill records that "the inflated conception! 
of the nation at larc^e mnltipliod the ])urchaaer8 of India stock : and 
it rote a* high as 263 per cent." 


treasures from India, to take to the desperate course of 
declaring from time to time impossible dividends, which 
had to be kept up by corrupt means and severe exactions 
but which involved the affairs of the Company in further 
financial difficulties. This had the effect of subordinating 
the Court of Proprietors more and more to the influence 
of the stock-brokers. The extraordinary disclosure of mis- 
government, the difficiency of the Company's funds, its 
actual state of indebtedness, and the violent allegations 
of corrupt conduct which the Directors and their agents 
mutually threw upon one another raised some ferment in 
England and ultimately led to legislative interference. 
From 1774, the affairs of the Company frequently 
received the attentions of the Parliament, and the efforts 
of Sir Philip Francis succeeded in carrying the judg- 
ment of the Company's internal administration from 
the Court of the Directors to the bar of public opinion in 
England. But this intervention of the Parh'ament was due 
more to partisan animosity than to " any statesman-like 
desire to provide India with a better form of government." 
From Cornwallis's time, however, the administration of 
India was placed not, as hitherto had been done, in the 
hands of one of the Company's servants on the ground 
of local experience but in those of an English nobleman 
of elevated rank, unfettered by all local ties : yet it 
must be admitted that there was hardly existing any 
definite rule of administration except that which descended 
to it from its commercial institutions, nor any rule of policy 
but that which the accident of the day supplied. * The 
administration yet remained to be organised and the poli- 
tical })0wer to be consolidated. Verelst,'^ at the end of 
1769, had already called attention to the feebleness and 

' Marshman, History of India, vol, ii p. 4. 
- Verelst, op. cit. App. p. 124. 


want of system in the ^ovcrnnu-nt at Fort W illiani : and 
the case of Hastinfjfs rcr-si/.s Francis, revealed by the state- 
papers, is a memorable testimony to the weakness of the 
central s^overnment, so stron^^ly denounced by the author of 
the Seir Mvfaqlieriu.'^ The beginning of the nineteenth 
centmy saw a disappearance of some of these evils, no doubt, 
yet in other respects, it witnessed no material improvement. 
The inevitable conviction, referred to by Francis as a state 
of " delirium '^ which took hoUl of almost every English 
official in those days was that the Dewani lands were an 
inexhaustible estate for the i)rofits of the Company: and 
that every conceivable method should be brought to bear 
upon the object of making India pay ; this was declared 
in the official language as " keeping up the revenue ". Effi- 
ciency of government was judged by the standard of 
net gain, "by the coarse and ready method of calculating, 
in pies and gundas, the increase and decrease of the 
revenue." -' IT we study the schemes of reform, formu- 
lated from time to ti ne, we find that they were framed 
not so much in the interest of the people as in the interest 
of the commercial rulers of Bengal, to which everything 
else was sacrificed. 

Indeed the Hon'ble Company, at home and in India, 

had reached that depth of opposition 

Its opposition to tQ li^ijt and freedom which justifies 

light aiul freedom - 

even Burke's extremest passages. 
Ignorance was the talisman on which their power over 
the people and the safety of their possessions in India 
were supi)Osed to depend ; and to dispel this popular 
ignorance by diffusing knowledge and education, by 
introducing missionaries and schoolmasters, by permitting 
freedom <>f public criticism was fantastically considered 

' Scir\Mtitaqherin, vol. iii, p. 185 et seq. 
^ Finuingor, op. cit. p. ccxv. 


to be " the most absurd and suicida] measure that could be 
devised." It was not unlil Wellesley's time that it was 
thought " god-like bounty to bestow expansion of 
intellect".^ But even then no hoallhy public criticism 
was allowed or suffeied upon the act of the government, 
although it must be admitted that the Press, which dates 
its birth in India since 1780, had hardl}' yet risen from the 
low level of a vile, scurrilous, and abusive print. The 
ferlrampur Missionaries could not land or settle anywhere 
in Bengal except under the protection of the Danish flag, 
and when they had set up there a printing press or planned 
the first vernacular newspaper, they were afraid of govern- 
ment interference, and had to obtain special permission 
from Lord Wellesley. Even later, the cases of William 
Duane of the Indian World and of the notorious James 
Silk Buckingham of the Calcnita Journal, who were both 
arrested and deported to England in the most high-handed 
manner, would be enough to indicate the impatient and un- 
compromising attitude of the government towards fearless 
independence and plain-speaking. From time to time, 
however, attempts were made to liberalise the Company's 
rule ; but each measure taken was too slow and too late 
to save it from the nemesis of 1857 and the extinction 
in 1858. 

The effect of these political changes and of this 

administrative policy on the social and 

Effect of these poll- economic condition of Bengal was 

tical clmnpes on tl.e ^^ ^^^^^ far-renching. ^ Thirty 

Bocial and eoononuc • ' in j 

condition of Bpiif^ai. years had passed in vacillation 

between the Company as the Dewan 
and the Nawilb as the Na/.im during wh'.ch, as wo have 
seen, the country suffered from endless disorders and 

' Wellesley, Address to the Students of the Fort William College, 
(in Roebuck's AnnaU of Fort Willunn College, p. 493). 


abuses of political govern mpiil. (Jras])iiiij and mercenary 
spirit made the so-called {guardians of the people 
inaccessible to the plainest dictates of reason, justice, 
and policy and infused in them a total contempt for public 
welfare. The evils of an alien rule were af^gravated by a 
deep ignorance of the manners and customs of the people 

and by a singular want of identifica- 
Efifects of an alien ^^^^^ ^^,jj,^ ^j^pj^. interests,— two articles 

rule. ' 

which, as Ghulam Husain rightly com- 
ments,' are the principles of all union and attachment, 
of all regulation and settlement between the governors 
and the governed. 

During these years, the Mohammedan government 
itself was coming to an inglorious end. The situation 

of Mir Jii'far was deplorable from the 

Dissolution of tlie first. Old, indolent, voluptuous, en- 
Mohammedan covern- i ^ -.i • 11 • ^ 

mont ; its effect. dowed With many mcurable vices, he 

made a very jioor figure-head ; and 
with an exhausted treasury, on the one hand, and vast 
engagements to discharge, on the other, he was driven 
to severest exactions. While his cruelties made him 
detestable, negligence, disorder, and weakness of his 
government exposed him t<» contempt. Mir Ksisim 
was a more capable monarch, and Vansittart^ pays a 
well-deserved tribute to his administration. Careful as 
he was of giving offence to the English, he could not help 
coming into conflict with them; for, as Vansittart says, 
" scarce a day passed but occasion was taken from the most 
trifling pretences to trample on his Government, to seize 
his officers and to insult them with threats and invectives." 
The executive power and control over criminal justice 
were still left in the hands of the.Nawab, whose sovereign 

' ^> !»■ ilutitqher in, in. 161. 
* Vansittart, op. cit. iii. 381. 


authority was acknowledo^ed ; yet the Mohammedan 

irovernment, under the dual system, had too much reason to 

complain of their want of influence in the country which 

was " torn to pieces by a set of rascals, who in Calcutta 

walked in rags, but when they were sent out on gomastah- 

ships, lorded it over the country, imprisoning the ryots and 

merchants, and writing and talking in the most insolent 

and domineering manner to the fouzdars and officers."^ 

And this was not confined to a particular spot. " It would 

amaze you," writes Mr. Senior, Chief at Kasimbazar, ''the 

number of complaints that daily come before me of the 

extravagancies committed by our agents and gomastahs 

all over the country .^^^ Although the Company had 

now become actually possessed of more than one half 

of tjbe Nawab's revenue, yet the latter was continually 

harrassed by oppressive exactions and became " no 

more than a banker for the Company's servants who 

could draw u})on him [meaning presents] as often and 

to as great an amount as they pleased."^ Naturally 

the Nawab had to fall back upon the old method of raising 

from the zemindars what he had himself to render to his 

new masters; and the tradition of the royal oppression of 

zemindars, handed down from the days of Murshid 

Kul! Khan, of which vivid pictures will be found in the 

pages of the Riazoo-s-Salatin or the Seir Mutaqherm, was 

revived in the last days of the Mohammedan government in 

Bengal. The situation is vividly, if too sweepingly, narrated 

' Letter of Mr. Gray, President at Maldah, dated January, 1764, 
quoted in Verelst, op. cit. iii p. 49 ; see also the Nawab's Letter, quoted 
in Vansittart, op. cit. iii. 38L 

* Letter of Mr. Senior, Cliicf at Kasimbazar, quoted in Verelst, 
op. cit. p. 49. 

» Clive's speech, dated March 30,1772, in Almon's Debo/es, X. 14 ; 
see also Mill, op. cit. iii 354 et seq. In 1767, Lord Clive's own income 
was calculated to be at least i;96,OUU. 


tluis l)v Verelst: " The violence ot* Meer Cassim in accu- 
mulating^- treasure and the relaxation of Government in the 
hands of Meer Jaftier ecjually contributed to confound all 
order, and by removinjjj every idea of right, sanctified in 
some sort the depredations of the hun<jjry collectors. The 
feeble restraint of fear produced little effect : while the 
increasiui; necessities of a master afforded at least a pretence 
of an uncontrolled exercise of power throuii;hout every 
department. Inferior ollicers employed in the collections 
were permitted to establish a thousand modes of taxation. 
Fines were levied at pleasure without resjard to justice: and 
while each felt in his turn the iron rod of oppression, he 
redoubled these extortions on all beneath him. The war in 
which Meer JafBer was engaged against foreign enemies, 
the struggles of Meer Cassim, which ended with his dis- 
traction, and the usurpations of foreign traders completed 
the scene of universal confusion."'' 

Thus the zemindars, unable to make any headway 

against the exorbitant demand and 

Condition of the opp,,.ssion of the Nawab, on the one 

hand, and of the Company's oflicial 
Nawabs, on the other, were gradually sinking out of sight 
lost in obscurity. Those who survived came out of the 
struggle, impoverished and degraded. These hereditary 
landlords had held the soil from very ancient times with 
quasi-feudal powers and virtually ruled the people within 
their own estates. Inspite of the severe strictures of 
Ghulilm H;isain'- that the zemindars are, at all times and 
in all ages, a race incorrigible, it can be easily shown that 
the ancient zemindars as a class did much for the good 
of the country. They maintained order, settled disputes, 
administered justice, and punished crimes ; they encouraged 

' Verelst, op. cit. p,66. 

' Scir ilutaqhcria iii. p. 204 ct seq. 


religion and rewarded piety ; they fostered arts and 
learninpj and were patrons of literature. But the iron 
hand of the new system brought ruin upon this hereditary 
aristocracy. The total change, in the management of the 
revenue, had brought in an innovatiou by which property, 
along with its administration, not only changed hands but 
was placed on a new foundation, and thus deeply affected 

the condition, individually as well as 
Effects of the new collectively, of the people of Bengal. 

system of laud-settle- rr,, . • , i i • ^ i i i 

,„e„j;g Ihe system, introduced m the ceded 

districts, ignored the customary 
rights of the zemindars and sold their estates by 
public auction for increasing the revenue. The result 
w^as most lamentable. The lands were let out for a short 
term of three years to the highest bidder at the auction- 
sale. " Men without fortune or character " we are told 
" became bidders at the sale : and while some of the former 
farmers, unwilling to relinquish their habitations, exceeded 
perhaps the real value in their offers, those who had 
nothing to lose advanced yet further, wishing at all events 
to obtain an immediate possession. Thus numberless 
harjiies were let loose to plunder whom the spoil of a 
miserable people enabled to complete the first year's pay- 
ment. The renters under so precarious a tenure could 
not venture to encourage inferior farmers by advancing 
money, which is seldom repaid within three years ; and 
without the advance, even the implements of husbandry 
were wanting to cultivate the lands. '^* Even tlie appoint- 
ment of supravisors in 1769 in the appropriate districts, 
and the two councils, one at Murshidabad and the other 
at Patna, did not work any improvement. The Committee 
of the House of Commons could not help remarking — 
" Seven years had elapsed from the acquisition of the 

Verelst, op. cit, pp. 70-71. 


Dewaui, without the i^oviTiuiu'iit tlecmiug' itscU' ooiuiit'tent 
to remeily the iK't'eets."' Tho reports of the siipravisors 
themselves, eonsistiii;^ mostly <>f anti(|uarian or statistical 
essays, represent the iijovernmeiit as havinj^j attained the 
last staij^e of oppressiveness and barbarism. 

It is needless to comment on the condition ol" the ryot 
and the cidtivator under this system. 

Condition of the ryot i,j ^ country subject to disorder and 
and the cultivntor. * . . 

revolution, infinite varieties prevailed, 

as Hunter points out, in the administration of the separate 
districts. Some districts were (uider the immediate jurisdic- 
tion of the subahdar ; while in others the hereditary zemindar 
preserved the appearance of ])ower, althouj^h the jealousy of 
the subahdar and an increased taxation left to him little more 
than a nominal authority. Tiie country laboured under the 
disorders of unbounded despotism. To add to this, a 
great national disaster occurred in the terrible Famine of 
1709-70 which cut off ten to twelve millions of human 
beings. Even before 1700, high prices had given 
indication of an approaching famine but the tax 

was collected as rigorously as ever.'^ 

The Great Famine of The sufferino- of the people was 
1769-70. ^^ ' ' 

heightened so much by the acts of 

the Company's agents and sub-agents that the Court 

of Directors indignantly condemned their method 

of " proiitting by universal distress/'^ Hastings, writing 

» Fifth Report, p. 4. et t-eq. Also see Sixth Report of 1782, A pp. i ; 
Colebrooke's Supplement to the Digest of Bengal Regulations, pp. I7i-HK). 

• IJunter, Annnh of Rural Bengal, p. 20-21 ; alio pp. 39y-kH. 

• Firniinger, op. ctt. p. cxcix : See also Letter to Benjjal dated 
Angast, 28, 1771, quoted in Anher, op. cit. pp. 354-.'5. It is difficult to 
■ay how far the famine was due tn nn intt-ntionul " mrnering " of the 
grain or similar nnsernpnloas cominsrcial transactions ; but this was 
the widely prevalent complaint, and Stavorinun (vol I. p. 853) ascrilx^s 
the famine partly to the " monopoly which the Knglish had made 
of the rice." 


ill 177:i, sets down the loss of population "at least of 
one-third of the inhabitants of the province " ; and even 
twenty years later, Cornwallis oflieiall}'^ described one-third 
of Bengal left as a jungle, inhabited only by wild beasts. 
The Eno'lish knew very little about the country at that 
time and did less for its inha1)itants. Even state-charity 
was srudo-ed and land-tax was as rigorous as ever. 
Hastings points out in 177£ that " notwithstanding the 
loss of at least one-third of the inhabitants of the pro- 
vince, and the consequent decrease of the cultivation, the 
nett collections of the year 1771 exceeded even those of 
1768." In 1771, one-third of the eulturable land was 

returned in the public accounts as 
Its effects on the land- '« deserted " : in 1776, the entries in 

lord and the tenant . 

this column exceeded to one-hair of 
the whole district, four acres lying waste to every seven. But 
the Company increased its demands from less than £100,000 
sterling in lin to close on £llrZ,000 in 1776. » One-third 
of the generation of peasants had been swept away and a 
whole generation of once rich families had been reduced to 
indi^i'ence. The revenue-farmers who had been unable to 
realise the tax were stripped of their office, shorn of their 
lands, and thrown ultimately into prison. The zemindars 
who had hitherto lived like semi-independent chiefs, fared 
worse 2 : and Sir William Hunter rightly remarks that 
"from the year 1770, the ruin of the two-thirds of 
the old aristocracy of Lower Bengal dates." 

The great Famine also deeply affected the relation of 
the tenant to the landlord and of the landlords to one 
another. Nearly one-third of Bengal fell out of tillage : 

1 Hunter, op. cit. p. 63-64. 

* Hunter {op. cit. p. 56 ff.) cites the well-known cnses of the 
Maharnja of Burdwan, the Rnja of Nadia, and Rani Ranwari of 


and the scarcity of the cultivator*:, at a time when there 
was more land than men to till it, «:jave the ryot the advan- 
tage over the zemindar, who was now compelled to court 
the |>easant and make him temptini^ offers. This not 
only led to the ji^rowth of the two classes of resident and 
non-resident ryots and to a constant friction between them 
but it also added to the general misery by fostering violent 
feuds and quarrels among landed proprietors who had 
eagerly begun to bid against one another for the hus- 
bandman. These armed feuds between the landlords very 
greatly disturbed the repose of the districts* and it is 
no wonder that the zemindars are described in contem- 
porary records as " continual disturbers of the peace of the 

From the time of this Famine also, robbery and 
dacoity became disastrously prevalent. Large tracts 
of land around every village grew into thick jungles 

which fostered not only wild beasts 

yJlTl^AZ^fL '■''^' but gave umbrage to terrible gangs of 
bery and dacoity. » -^ » o 

robbers. Besides the numerous and 
prosperous classes like the thugH, who practised robbery as 
a hereditary calling, and the bands of cashiered soldiers 
who turned vagrants, there were thousands of people 
who were driven by destitution to the desperate course of 
plundering, and from 1771 the suppression of these lawless 
sects, who sometimes roved about the country in armies many 
thousands strong,-' was a matter of serious consideration to 
the Council. Organised outrages took place within an 
ear-shot from the seat of government. Long records how 

* HuQtor, O'p. c»t., pp. 60-61, p. 85. 

• See a graphic account of the effects of dacoity in the Ilcgulation 
of 1772 (35th Keg.), quoted in Colobrooke's &ui>^len\ent to the Digest 
p. 1-13. Also sec UuDter, op, cit. pp. 69 et. seq. 



in 17S0 a very terrible ease o£ robbery, aeeompanieJ by 

incendiarism and violence, occurred in 
Insecurity of life Calcutta in wliich about 15,000 houses 

ana property. 

were burnt down and nearly ~()0 

people were killed.' Dacoity an i robbery, with ail its 
incidental terrors, prevailed in Bengal for more than three 
(juarters of a century,- and left the life and property of 
the peoi)le absolutely insecure. 

The ancient police system, whether it consisted of the 
system of the village watchman, or of the nngdees,ov of the 
thanadars, as we find in the Bengal of 1760, was in a dis- 
organised state when the English came into power, and was 

quite insujfl&cient for the preservation 
The Police system. <• ,i , • 

or the peace or tor the apprehension 

of thieves and gang-robbers. There was collusion with 

the criminals not only on the part of the petty zemindars, 

as the earl}^ administrators of Bengal tell us, but also on 

the part of these regularly constituted keepers of the public 

peace. ^ To meet the disorders of the country, the Fauj- 

dari system was established in 1774 : but it is well-known 

' Long, Calcutta in Olden Time, p. 37. See also Busteed, op. cit. 
p. 157; Good Old Days, c\\. -x-vui; Seton-Karr, op. cit. ii, 213-14, 233; 
Forrest, Selections from State Papers ; Warren Uastir,gs, ii. 289. 

' Kaye {Administration of the East India Company, III. ii and 
iii) gives an account of Thuggee and Dacoity in later years. Even as 
late as 1810, we find Lord Minto (Minute, dat(Ml Nov. 24, 1810) -n-riting, 
"A monstrous and disorganised state of society existed under the eye of 
the supreme British authorities and almost at the very seat of the 

Government The people are perishing almost in our sight : every 

week's delay is a doom of slaughter and torture against the defenceless 
inhabitants of very populous countries." 

• The greater zemindars had always a lar_i;e number of troops at 
their disposal and sometimes the village watchman n- is enrolled on the 
establishment of the zemindars. They were employed not only in 
their original capacity but also in the collection of the revenue. Exten- 
sive duties similarly were expected from tke Faujdar. 


how vij^orously the system was criticised by the opposition 
metnbersof the Council and condemned as opi)ressive by the 
author of the Seir Mutaqherin.^ It was candidly admitted 
by the Resolution of April 6, 1780, that the establishment 
of faujdars and thanadfirs " has by experience been found 
not to produce the fjood effects intended by the institution". 
On the old division of authority between the Nazim and 
the Dewan, the executive power including criminal adminis- 
tration was allotted to the Niizim while the Dewan possess- 
ed the civil jurisdiction. The establis ment of two courts 
of justice, the Dewanl and the Faujdari 'Adrdat, which were 
controlled by the superior Sadar DewilnT and Nizumat 

'Adillats at the Presidency of Fort 

The system of crimi- UiHiani, was made by the Regulation-s 
nal and civil justice. . 

of the Committee of Circuit- chielly 

on the basis on this old distinction. One of the effects of 
the Regulations referred to was to transfer the Courts of 
Appeal from Murshidabad to Calcutta and to give the 
Collector the right to preside over local civil courts and 
keep vigilance over the local criminal courts ; yet the crimi- 
nal jurisdiction of the Nawab was not taken away nor were 
miscarriages of justice and long-felt abuses removed by these 
Regulations. The establishment, for the Mayor's Court, of 
the Suiireme Court in Calcutta, to which Francis was so 
stoutly opposed, brought, again, in its train a number of 
notorious evils, and one need hardlv recall Macaulav's 
account of the high-hauded proceedings of this Court. 
It was not until 171)0 that the superintendence of criminal 
justice throughout the province was accepted by the 
English,^ and judicial administratioa was not placed 

' Seir Mutaijherin, iii. p. I7fi-179. Sec Fifth Report, pp. 43 et. Hoq. 

* Colebrooko, op. cit. 1-1-4; also quoted and discnssed in Firminger. 
•p. cit. pp. ccxxi et Bcq 

• Cornwallis's Minute, December 3, 1790 ; also Ref^alation V and IX 
of 1793. Also Fifth Rfport, pp. 29-42 : Scton.Karr, CornualU$, pp. 88-9*. 


upon a sound footing until many years elapsed. Even 
in 1793, the preamble to the several Regulations of 
that year show that there must have been much confusion, 
abuse of justice, delay in procedure, and uncertainty of 
jurisdiction in civil and criminal courts. 

The reforms cf Corn wal lis were not only in the right 
direction in these respects but they also struck a note of 
sympathy with the poor suffering ryot. But the ruin of the 
zemindars, begun by Mir Kasim and hastened by the ijara 

settlement, was finally completed by 

Reforms of 1793. i i - j " i; t'oq 

the celebrated measure ot 1/90, 
which, thouo-h it did credit to the benevolent intentions of 
Cornwallis proved at least for the time being disastrous 
to many an ancient aristocratic family of Bengal. It would 
be out of place to discuss here this measure in all its 
bearings,' but it must be admitted that it was not only 
insufficient in affording protection to the ryot against 
the rack-renting power of the zemindar but it also 
became the means of unseftling many old zemindaries. 
It created a class of landlords destitute for the most part 
of public spirit and higher culture. The principle of the 
permanent-e of assessment, co-operating with splendid ferti- 
lity of the Ganges valley, afforded, no doubt, a haj^py 
prospect of peaceful multiplication of the people and spread 
of civilisation, yet the wealthy ancient aristocracy, which 
for a long time constituted the main support of society and 
the great patron of arts and literature,* was slowly breaking 
down under the stringent rules which put up their large 
estates to public auction at the mercy of the highest bidder. 
The class of up-start zemindars who stepped into their 

' See on this question, Field, o;j. ci( ; Harrington's .ina/ysis ; Seton- 
Karr, Cornwallis, ch. ii ; Fifth Report, p. 12 et. seq ; Mill, op. cit. bk. vi 
ch: 6-6 ; R. C. Dutt, op. cit^ ch. v, et(b 


place could not be expected to possess the same inherited 
tradition of culture and refinement as marked the ancient 
aristocracy of the land. Side by side with these, there 
was created another class of landlords by the very measure 
itself; for under the new law, the mere collector of the 
revenue was, in many cases, invested with every proprietory 
right in the land. 

Before passinij from this cursory account of the dissolu- 
tion of the Mohammedan government and the ruin of the 
zemindars, it would not be out of place to refer to 

the depraved moral inHuence of the 

Moral depravity of [Mohammedan court upon the courts of 
tlie period. * 

the noblemen and also upon the society 
in general. The vivid pages of t\\Q Seir Mutaqherni has 
already made familiar to us the depth of luxury, debauchery, 
and moral depravity of the period, and GhulSm llusain in one 
place offers a few bitter remarks on the ethicality of Murshi- 
dabad. ' " It must be observed " he says " that in those days 
^loorshoodabad wore very much the appearance of one of 
Loth's towns ; and it is still pretty much the same to-day. 

Nay, the wealthy and powerful, having set apart 

sums of money for these sorts of amours, used to show the 
way and to entrap and seduce the unwary, the poor, and 
the feeble; and as the proverb says — so m the ktuy, so 
becomes his people, — these amours got into fashion." It is 
no wonder, therefore, that this atmosphere of luxury and 
moral degeneration did not fail to vitiate the general moral 
tone of society, especially of the upper classes. Public 
opinion was so low that very many forms of shameless vice, 
often accompanied by cruelty and violence, attracted 
little condemnation and received less punishment. It 
reminds one of the days of Charles II and his courtiers. It 

' Seir Mutaqherin, iii. p. 85. 


is needless to recapitulate details : but it may be noted that 
hardly any of the worthies of this period, whether Hindu 
or Musalman, could ever show, both in their public and 
private life, a perfectly clean record. One can easily 
understand from this the degenerate tone in the writings 
of the period, which sprang up chiefly round the courts 
of these rajas or zemindars who were the dispensers of the 
daily bread of the poets. Even the work of the devout 
Ram-prasad or of the illiterate Kabiwalas was not entirely 
free from this almost universal taint. 

Next to the zemindars, came the class of learned 
Brahmans, the other important factor of the social fabric, 
who suffered no less from these political and social changes. 
Even in this period of anarchy and oppression, the priestly 
class, however fallen or cried down in modern times, was 
recognised as the head of society, as the spiritual guide 
and enlightener of the race. Whatever damaging influence 
their mueh-too-decried exclusiveness might have produced, 
it cannot be denied that as a class they hardly ever 
fell below this high expectation. The occupation of the 
Brahmans, although on the decline, had not yet lost 

its ancient lustre and dig^nitv and 

The humiliation of ^j ^^^^ ^^ ^^^^^ g^ill who 

the Brahmans. ^ 

were, as of yore, capable of fear- 
less acts of self-sacrifice for the good of the community. 
The Brahmans were not only the educators of the nation 
but also its lawgivers, its judges, and at times its acknow- 
ledged head and dictator in social matters. Althoujjh 
literature was not their profession, their sphere of usefulness 
consisted in their interest in mental and spiritual culture. 
But a change of the deepest kind was coming over the 
s[)irit of this ancient and honoured class. After the 
political storm of the century had blown over, the Brahmans 
found themselves utterly neglected, nay, humiliated and 


ruiut'tl. They hatl not only lost the patrona<^o at court 
and of the ^reat landed aristocracv, who always revered 
their learning and piety, hut they also found themselves 
losing, toi^ether with their ancient prestiij*, the free 
charitable i^ifts of landed property to which they mainly 
looked np for their support. A rejLfulation was i)assed 
in 1708 for eiupiiry into the validity of vario^is existin;]^ 
L'tk/ieraJ grants : and as a direct result of this, many 
of these presum d charitable grants were cancelled. 
This dealt a severe blow to the poor Bralinians, who 
thus shorn of their land and their ^lory, became more 
and more dependent than ever for their living; on the 
j;ifts of the lower classes to whose tastes and superstitions 
they were now compelled to pander. 'J'he most enli<yhten- 
ed amonjj them, no doubt, remained isolated or retired 
into obs2urity in iuod ly silence ; but the majority of them 
did everythinijf in their power to please the mob, who 
Were now almost their only customers. With the fall of 
the Brahmans, however, there was no doubt the rise of the 
powerfid middle class ; but the ruin of this hereditary 
intellectual class was a loss in itself. The axe was laid 
at the root of ancient learnin*^ and ancient culture : the 
inlluence winch produceil the sublime in Hindu civilisa- 
tion vanished, the inlluence which produced the supersti- 
tious and the ridiculous in it increased. Such was the 
state of knowledeje and culture at the be<i:inninu: of the 
last century that Jayanarayan Tarkapanehrmau in his 
preface to the Sarvaihirimna Sid'iif/ra/ia had to lament that the 
pundits of his time never eared to read more than four 
books in their lifetime ; and just before the foundation of 
(.'alcutta Sanscrit Ct)llei;e, such was the i«i^noi-anee of the 
Ren;i;ali j>un(lit.s that none of them could enlijjjhten 
Sir William .Jones on the sul)ject of ancient Sanscrit 


Thisi decline of the society and the intellect of Bengal 
is almost synchronous with and, no 

Inherent causes of doubt, was facilitated by thedecav 
social decline; tlie 

Caste system. of Mohammedan rule and the pre- 

valence of the Company's misrule ; 
but the process, slow enough to be almost imperceptible, 
was, however, not due to this circumstance alone. The 
political and social causes no doubt hastened the 
decadence already afoot : but it would be hastv and un- 
philosophical to attribute everything to such extraneous 
causes. There was something wrong in the social struc- 
ture itself to account for this decadence. A little re- 
Hection will show that the Hindu society carried within 
itself the germs of its own decay. However beneficial the 
institution of caste mi^^^ht have been to the ancient society, 
of which it formed the universal and natural basis, it 
cannot be doubted that its exclusiveness, in course of time, 
gave rise to a monopoly, which, like the monopoly of the 
mediaeval monks of Europe, proved injurious to intellec- 
tual progress beyond a certain stage. Within the small 
j)rivileged hereditary class to which the spread of know- 
ledge was confined, the arts and sciences, no doubt, were 
carried to a pitch of perfection, but competition, thus 
artificially limited, naturally gave no scope to favourable 
variations in intellectual development. The intellectual 
capacity of the individual or the class was increased at 
the cost of general ignorance and inferiority of the race. 
The system made life easy and smooth and comparatively 
free from that struggle and unrest which is the inexorable 
condition of all progress. This state of things, leading as 
it did to decadence, could not continue long, and under the 
infiuence of ^Mohammedanism and its doctrine of equality, 
a fresh impetus was given to progress by relaxing the 
restrictions of the caste system. From about the beginning 


of the l()th century, we have a succession of reh'j^ions and 
social reformers, Raniananda, Kabir, Nilnak, and Chaitanya, 

all of whom protested aj^-ainst caste 
Mohaimnedan and and preached universal brotherhood. 

It was tiiis impulse which i^ave an early 
impetus to the vernacular literatures of India ; for these 
reformers, unlike the learned Sanscritists, preached to the 
people in the laui^uafi^e of the people, and their teachini^s 
were embodied in voluminous works which enriched the 
vernacular literatures. But, althoufjh the rii^onr of the 
caste system was for a time overcome and a healthy 
feelinj]^ for ecjuality was abroad, the evils of the time- 
honoured institution, firmly rooted throu<;h centuries into 
the social fabric, could not be eradicated in a day. They 
continued to do their work and hastened the decadence 
whieh, in spite of the attempts of these relii^ious 
reformers, had become inevitable; and the anti-caste 
influence of the British contact and of European literature 
onlv intensified the chanjjje alreadv set on foot by the 

Baisiia ba and other movemente. 

British influence on »ui ^. i „* it • „ a- i i- ii i? i. 

jj Althouf^n at tins critical time, the East 

India Comj)auy in Enf]jlanuand in India, 
sunk to the lowest depth of philistinism, aj)prehendcd the 
spread of knowled<;e and western ideas fatal to the British 
rule, yet it was fortunate that there were self-sacrificinir 
missionaries and schoolmasters ready for the woik, and a 
few far-sij^hted statesmen who, notwilhstandino- the narrow 
policy of the j^overnment at home, th.oufrht it "god- 
like bounty to bestow expansion of intellect." The empire 
in India had been, moreover, foumlcd at a tiire when the 
tide was turniiiLC, when Europe was in the throesof a <>Teat 
Revolution, whieh, considered politically, j-ocially, and 
intellectually, is one of the {greatest in mcdern in'story. 
The wave of liberalism which was to jiass through Europe 


could not be expected to leave untouched the shores of 
the newly-acquired emj)ire in India. 

One of the chief causes why the e^ils of caste system 
could not be eradicated in a day was tlie protective spirit 
of the Hindu religion in social matters. Notwithstanding 

that historians of civilisation like 
Protective influence Buckle^ deny to religion any influence 

of religion in social n rr- i i- • ■ i ' i 

matters. ^^ all, Hindu rejigion lias alwavs 

governed Hindu society, and it is 
through the institution of caste that this influence has 
been remarkably felt. However much Hinduism has been 
marked by intellectual toleration and adaptability to its 
environment, its sway, in social matters at least, has always 
been despDtic. Not only the individual but also the social 
life of the people has been moulded by their religion for evil 
or for good. The entire existence of a Hindu may be 
said without exaggeration to bj a round of religious 
duties; and in social matters, hedged in by minute rules 
and restrictions, the various classes of the community 
have had little room for expansion and progress beyond 
a certain stage. But this domination of religion over 
sociaty became more and more stringent with the decay 

of Hindu civilisation during the later 

Its effect^ under the Pau,anik and the Mohammedan 
Mohammedan rule. 

periods. Hence arose some of the 
absurd restrictions and retrogressive customs which the 
efforts of a succession of religions reformers from Kabir 
and Chaitanya down to Ram ^lohan Ray have not been 
able completely to remove. That the Hinduism of the 
18th and the early 19th century had been a strange 
compound of the sublime and the ridiculous is thus easily 

' History of Civilisation in England, Vol. I, Ch. V 


iatelli^ible. With the fall of the Brahmans ami <4eneral 

decadence of social and intellectual life 

Religious life at the in the Country, there was also a partial 
befri lining of the 19th , , p ,i i- • ir i 

century decadence of the reli«i:ious .ite and 

ideals of the people, imperceptibly 

making its headway from the Mohammedan times. It 

does not concern us here as to how much of this was due 

to decadent Buildhism or decadent Bai-nabisni, or how far 

the aborijjjinal ethnical element in Lower Benojal reacted 

upon it. The mass of superstitions had always existed 

and still everywhere exists : but from this time onwards, 

there was a deliberate rejection of the spiritual side of the 

old faith and a corresponvlin>;- identitication with the semi- 

aborii»inal superstitions of the masses, Public oi)inion on 

relijufious matters was low, althou*»-h the reli^'iosity of tiie 

jjeople cannot be denied ; and the undoubted belief in the 

absolvint^ efficacy of superstitious rites calmed the imay^ina- 

tion and allayed the terrors of conscience. Empty rituals, 

depraved practices, an I even horrid ceremonies like hook- 

swiniTfino^, human sacrifice, and infanticide partially justify 

the unsparinu^ abuse of our relii^ion by the missionaries. 

But what the missionaries could not 
dellrr^*''^ ^"' °"^ l)ereeive in their proselytisiui,^ zeal 

was that the reli^^ious life of the 
Hindu had never been (juite extinct. There ha<l been 
decay since the Mohammedan rule, ai^jjravated by various 
complex causes, but not death ; there had been an increase 
of feebleness, but not absolute inanition. An a^jc which 
produced the Gaut/afjfiakti-tarungiut, IlnrilVdy or tlie 
devotional son^i^s of Ram-prasad could not indeed l»e said 

to be devoid of relij^ious life. The 

The four divergent jevotional fervour ..f 8ri Chaitanva, t he 

intellectual ideas of naiyayik Ra<;hu- 
natha, the ritualistic doctrines of sniarta Rau^hunandan, 


and the mystic spiritualism of the tan trie Krsnananda 
— the four divergent forces which have always 
exercised great influence oa Hindu society since 
the 16th century — had never lost their domination even 
in this era of decadence. The protective spirit of 
Hinduism and the political and social vicissitudes 
consequent upon Mohammedan rule had no doubt been in- 
jurious to religious progress, but in spite of this impediment 
religion had always influenced the social, moral, and in- 
tellectual progress of the nation. From the earliest time 
down to the present day, religious struggle and religious 
revival have always played an important part in the history 
of the nation^s intellectual progress. It is partly for this 
reason that notwithstandino- four centuries of earnest 
preaching by Roman Catholios and two centuries of earnest 
preaching by Protestants, Christianity has made little im- 
pression upon the Hindus, especially amongst the uppor 
classes. Religious life was never dead but dormant. It is 

true that religious ideal have always 

Change of relitjious , , ,, ^. ... -, 

ideals in the 18th and changed from time to time and 

the early 19th cen- „^oulded itself to soiiie extent to the 


necessities of the age, and this will 
also be evident from a study of the various phases of the 
historic development of our religion. At this stage of 
decadence, it could not be expected to remain in an un- 
alloyed state. It had gone through many convulsions and 
alterations in the previous age, and many empty dogmas 
and gross superstitions had naturally gathered around it. 
Rut, however much this state of religion ap])eared repulsive 
to the prejudiced eyes of the zealous missionaries or of the 
enthusiastic " Young Bengal," who proud of the now 
light, ])icked up an inveterate hatred of everything old, 
still in its essence and on the doctrinal side, it was 
almost invulnerable. The reactions which have followed 


in favoui- of what may be called 
^^Reli^ous^^^rcactions ,.ationalistic Hinduism " and other 
tury. reii2jious movements in the 19th 

century bear witness to its inward 
strene^th as well as to the inherited spirituality of the 

It is obvious that under tiiese political, social and 

intellectual conditions, no literature 

These facts partly ^,^^^1^ the name could easily flourish. 

explain the literary "^ 

barrenness of the peri- With the ruin of the zemindars and 

od between 1760 and ,, , , ^. e a\ -r» -i 

1800. the degradation or the Urahmans, 

who constituted respectively the aris- 
tocracy of wealth and tiie aristocracy of intellect, a process 
of disintegration had begun in the social fabric which 
ended in an absolute dissolution of all social solidarity. It 
took nearly half a century before there was a general 
subsidence of these effects and a new order of things 
could ta\:e tiie jolace of the old. With a reconstruction 
of art and ideal, there wa^ indeed the birth of a 
new world and a new literature but, generally speak- 
ing, from the 18th centurv to the middle of the 
19th, we have only rude unshaped writings, interesting 
to the student, but no masterpiece, acceptable to all. 
It was essentially a transitional stage, and there can le 
no doubt that these vicissitudes of the 18th century and 
the monotonous material and intellectual development of 
the fust half of the 19th robbed Bengali literature of many 
an imaginative writer. Calcutta had not yet settled down 
into a metropolis, and with the dispersal of the Moham- 
medan government and the Hindu zemindars, there was 
no Hxed intellectual centre which would have brought 
the advantages of social solidarity among those who still 
retained literary instincts and aspirations. Rhfirat- 
chandra died in 1760 and in a short time occurred 


also the deaths of Duro^aprasad and 

The death of Bhtxrat- Ram-prasad. With these last «freat 
<;hanclra in 1760 ' , r. , 

marks the decay of namps, we are at the end of wliat 

the older current in • i c • j. o i- ri. i 

literature remaineci or ancient Isengali hterature. 

Dnrinp^ the continuance of the dual 
system of fjovernment between T)5 and H'^, the older 
poets, one by one, passed away ; and none remained who 
could for a time step into their yacant place. Between 
the death of Bharat-chandra in 1760 and the first appear- 
ance of Isvar Gupta in Saihl/arl- 
The interregnum 
till the emergence of prabliakar ot Ib-iU, there came an 

'i teoTen dSt 'i? i"te"-«S>">™ Of ™°'0 tl"'" h'^lf a 

-not wholly, by the ccutury, during which there was no 

man who had been strong enoufjh to 
seize the unclaimed sceptre. The only pretenders were the 
Kabiwalas, but the}^ neyer rose to that level of artistic 
merit and sustained literav}- composition which would haye 
enabled them to strike a commanding figure on the empty 
stage. Who would think of placing Haru Thakur or Ram 

Basu side by side with Bharat-chandra 

some of whom were or Ram-prasad ? These Kabiwalas 
men of undoubted i pj. i i • i ii p i_\ • p 

powers. '^^'^ l>ehmd them tew things or 

permanent literary yalue; for although 
some of them Avere men of undoubted poetic power, they 
never cultivated literature for its own sake, but composed 

their songs chiefly to please their 

Their place in new pati'ons iu society — the upstart 

literature not verv „ • i ai ^l^ ^ . 

^jgt, ' zemindars, the wealthy speculators, 

or the illiterate mass Avhose chief 

amusement consisted of these songs, pmac/ialis, or 

jafras. The Kabi literature, therefore, is one of a very 

composite character, and side by side with the higher 

flights, we have interspersed not a little amount of flat 

colloquial verbiage which no stretch of literary charity 


would ever call poetic in thf tfue sense of the term. The 
literary ideal was not, as can he expected, very hi^h, and 
its tone not alwavs commendable : \et one thini' most 
remarkable about these son<;s, which puts them in sharp 
contrast with the literature which Bharat-chandra set in 
fashion, was its eoini)arative freedom from the stamp of 
ornateness or erudite classicality as well as from the 
vitiated moral tone which defaces the writiu'rs of nianv a 
<;reat poet of this period. Yet in spite of these and other 
merits, none of the Kabiwalas had reached that standard 
of literary excellence which would have enabled them to 
emulate the more substantial writings of the older poets 
although they contributed some truly beautiful pieces to 
the literature of national songs. Fallen on evil days, their 
genius seems never to have received its fullest scope, and 
besides keeping our literature back from absolute death 
during the ])eriod of interregnum, their work seems to 
possess historically no other permanent value. They act 

as a link keeping up the continuity 

Bat they did their of ^,^^^. Hterary historv and, though 
best, duriiii; this lonj? •' . » « 

period of barrenness, by themselves affording an interesting 

to keep it back from r ^ i i- i. ^ xi 11 1 1 

absolute deatli. "t^'ti 01 study, they belong through 

their literary filiation and inherited 
artistic tradition to the age precediiig our era. 

By the beginning of the 19th century, however, the 
old order was changing, yielding place to new. A new 
literature, a new spirit, and a new order of society were 
gradually taking the place of the time-honoured institutions 
which had hold their sway over the country for centuries. 

We often find in literary history that 

Effect of the revolu. ^^jtl, ^Q^^, j^^ revolution, politi- 

tionftry chan^jes whicli ' ' 

the British occnpation cal, social or rcligious, literature 

of Bengal brought . r 1 • ^ •..- ■, 

about. receives a tresh impetus. >> e need 

hardly recall tiie example of the 


French Revolution from which dates a period of literary 
activity which lias culminated in the rich literary after- 
fi^rowths of modern Europe. But the popular opinion, loa<^ 
and actually entertained, that the British occupation of 
Bengal by itself sufficiently accounted for and directly caused 
the disappearance of ancient literature as distinguished 
from modern, is a delusion which the revived study of the 
literature itself would, in a great measure, help to check and 

correct. However great and far- 

The British 'conquest', ,. . iv , ,i d -i.- i 

as generally supposed, reachiug its eftect was, the British 

never swept off the old ^eonquest' no more swept awav ancient 

literature and replac- ^ "^ ' 

ed it with the new : Bengal and its literature and replaced 

it merely helped a .. .^, , , . i it .1 x- 

process of decadence it With something else than the Nor- 

in literature already ^-^^n Couciuest of England directly 
afoot. ^ . ^ ■^ 

caused the disappearance of Anglo- 

saxon England and its literature. Modern evolutionary 
theory hardly leaves any room for such absolute political 
or literary cataclysms ; and a little consideration will 
show that the British occupation of Bengal, like the 
Norman one of England, only helped and turned to 
good a process of decadence in literature, which had 
independently begun, which was going on rapidly, and 
which, if the political revolution had not dealt a death-blow 
to the exhausted literature would have landed it independ- 
ently in absolute barrenness and stagnation. 

In order to appreciate what effect British occupation 
of Bengal |)roduced upon Bengali literature, we must 
realise in what state it actually had been when the new start 
was made. It was, as we have stated, a period of great 
confusion. The political and social disturbances, no doubt, 
as the apologist of Bengali literature often points out, 
were affecting men's minds, and the physical and mental 
fatigue consequent thereupon is responsible to a great 
extent for this lamented paucity of literary productions ; 


but if we look to the literature itself we shall see thai a 
process of inherent cUeay and dissolntion had already begun 
in it which indicated rapid decline, and which, if un- 
checked, mi<jjht have indcpendeutly led to its ultimate 
extinction. A change of the deepest and widest kind was 
coming over the spirit of Bengali literature during the 
years when the political destiny of India was being decided 
in other fields : but this change, such as it was, meant no 
good augury to its future course. 

In spite of occasional royal patronage, as in the cases 
of Bidyilpati or Kabi-karikaii, the vernacular literature 
before the 18th century very seldom found shelter in the 
courts of the wealthy, and it was never, in any sense, 

courtly literature. From this period, 
What this procfss however, it began to centre round the 

was and how it came ^ ,. , i 1,1 1 

about. courts or the wealthy and a new 

world, that of the courtier and the 

adventurer, wa!> being formed. The courts of Rajii 

Krsnachandra of Nadiya and of Rajil 

State of Benpali Rjlj-ballabh of Dacca were notable not 
literature on the eve 1 p ^i • 1 ^i • 11 

of the inth century. o"')' *^'* *"^"" '"^^ry, their splendour, 

and their intrigues, but for their 
patronage of arts and literature. But this court-influence, 
as it would he natural to ex)>ect in this age, was not an 
unmixed good. Poetry, which had hitherto consisted of 
simple tales of village-life or of devotional poems of rare 
beauty and fervour, had now to appeal exclusively to the 
upjier classes of society whose tast« and temper it natur- 
ally reflected. As on the one hand, it gained in refinement 
and splendour, so on the other, it lost all its pristine 
simplicity, and was marked with a stamp of ornatcness 
and eru'lite classicality which found favour with these 
courts. What had been fervid and spontaneous became 
fantastic and elaborate : and with these new poets, some of 


whom were good scholars, intellect, and fancy predominated 
over sentiment and passion, ingenuity took the place of 
feeling, and poetry lost its true accent. On the one hand, 
arose around the court of Krsiiachandra the artificial 
school of Bharat-chandra, whose poetry, more fanciful than 
delicate, more exquisite than passionate, first turned the 
tide in favour of ornate and artificial standards of verse- 
making : on the other hand, under 
The existing schools tlie patronage of the rival court of 

of Bengah literature ^ ^^ 

by their excesses gave Raja Raj-ballabh, flourished a more 

uuiiiistakable proof of . . 

decadeuce and fore- serious, though less poetical, group of 
shadowed the close of ^^-^^^.^ ^^^ g^j^-j^j^ ^^ tendency 

the literary age. •' 

to ornate diction and luxuriant stvle 

and the same weakness for frigid conceits but whose 

profundity, allegorical fancy, didactic taste, and consequent 

monotony present a striking contrast to the more voluptuous 

and attractive school at Nadiya. Both these schools, 

by their excesses, marked the close of the literary age. 

In spite of the exquisite quality of his phrase and his 

numbers, that exalt him to a place all his own, 

Bharat-chandra was a far greater artist than a true 

poet. He was a sure and impeccable master of his 

own craft, yet we must confess here, as everywhere, a 

fall of the true poetic spirit, the neap of inspiration, the 

preference of what catches the eye to what touches the 

heart. Bharat-chandra is not very 
The school at Nadiya n • • i 

of which Bharat-chan- otteu original : yet when he imitates, 

expoZt. '''' ''"''"'^ he ^oe« "ot choose the best models 

but only tries to improve upon the 
very second-rate works of later artificial Kavya poets 
like Magha aud, or even worse things from 
a class of degenerate Mohammedan tales of dubious 
taste and excellence. Poetry is increasingly regarded 
as a means of the display of elaborate conceits till 


at leng^th nothing remains but artfulness and verbal 
jui^glery. The consummate eleij^ance of these uritinf^s is 
undoubted but the poet seldom transports. Lifeless des- 
criptions, pompous similes, learned ili^ressions — a style 
which cannot be summed up otherwise than by the term 
' tlorid " — these mark the makeshifts by which the lack of 
genuine poetic emotion is sought to be made up. Pathos or 
tra<ifedy in the strict and rare sense these poets seldom or 
never touch : and the way in which they have repainted 
the ideal heroes of old recall to one's mind Dryden's trave- 
sty of Milton or of Shakespeare. Admittinp^ even the 
j)ictorial effect, the musical cadence and the wonderful 
spell of lan<^uag-e which are the chief redeeming features 
of this poetry, the taste and style are sometimes so vitiated 
and vulgar that it fully deserves the nemesis of neglect 
which is graduall}- falling upon it. The degenerate 
court-intluence went a long way not only in fostering 
a certain feminine langour and luxuriance of style, but it 
was also responsible for the taint of indecencv which 
often mars its best passages. This grossness was, no doubt, 
partly conventional and sj)rang obviously from the poetic 
convention established by tin- later artificial schools of 
Sanscrit Poetry ; but, even admitting this, it must 
be said that attempts to excuse this utter want of 
decency and of morals have all proved futile, and the 
least valid of all is that which would shield this poetry 
under the mantle of the classics. The kittnlt take the i)lace 
of dvlls of Baisiiaba songs; and the course of illicit 
love or lust, with all its intricacies of courtship, intrigue, 
and insolence was never suffered to flaunt itself with 
such shameless impudence. Even Ham-prasjid, in spite 
of his religious .^ougs, could not escape the contagion and 
the exijuisite lyrics of the Kabiwalas were not wjiojlv 
free from the taint. 


These enormities in the existing schools of poetry cer- 
tainly indicate the close of the literary age. Excess of folly 
in poetry, like excess of injustice in political matters, lead 
up to and foretell revohitions. Besides, the course of 
ancient Beno^ali itself as a whole suffered from many draw- 
backs which hampered its growth cruelly and which might by 

itself have led to its ultimate extinction. 

Inherent drawbacks „ „ , , i i i ^i i. i- 

in the old literature Ot these drawbacks, the monotony ot 

itself which retarded ^^^y,:.^^^ ^nd the limitation of form were 
its growth. •' 

the foremost and engage the critic at 

once. It is true that the social and political conditions 
under an alien rule were never wholly favourable to the 
quiet development of national culture ; that the contempt 
with which vernacular literature had been universally held 
always retarded its growth ; that the Baisnaba movement, 
even though it had wrested the monopoly of learning from 
the Brahmans as a class, was more a sectarian than a 
wide-spread national tendency and it only intensified 
the devotional ardour which had very few opportuni- 
ties for complete secularisation ; and that literature, at 
least in the vernacular, was seldom cultivated for its own 
sake in those days when a leisured class of literary or scienti- 
fic men had never arisen ; yet even these circumstances do 
not wholly explain the absolute limitation of subject to 

religion in the main, and out of reli- 
Limitation of subject, gio" to a little legend, a little contenv 

porary social song, and the thinnest 
surplus of other matters. Glorification of gods and goddess- 
es seems to be the ultimate object of all the poets, who 
could not venture to publish anything except under the 
borrowed garb of religion. The marvellous results acct)m- 
plished even within this limitation show that there was 
surely nothing wrong with the genius of these poets but 
something was wrong in the literature itself, that its 


therm> was too narrow and limited to afford tlio fullest 

scope for development and profrrcss. 
Conservative tjiste. Q^e of the remarkable tendencies of 

later Hindu culture j^enerally and of 
all ancient vernacular literature in particular was, that 
they carried the suppression of individuality too far : and 
that the consequence has been to exalt authority and dis- 
courao^e oriirinality. Of course, nothinij; can be more ob- 
jectionable than the obtrusive self-assertiveness of modern 
times, yet it must be admitted that it nevertheless furthers 
intellectual proi^ress by relaxing^ the severity of effete 
conventionalities and allowinc; ambition freer scope and 
wider soarin^-re*j:ion. But this limitation of subject 

and this conservative taste were 
Monotony of form. coupled with a further limitation of 

ancient j>oetry in its form, its staple 
of stereotyped verses, beyond which it could never stray 
but which was apt to become dull, monotonous, and sinoj- 
song, esi)eeially because of its sectional pauses. Rut the 
greatest ilrawback, which would of itself indicate the 
poverty of the literature in its certain aspects, was the 

eomj)Iete absence of prose as a vehicle 
Absence of prose. ,,f literary expression. It is tiue that 

in all literature, as the immortal jest 
of Moliere imi)Iies, prose always comes after poetry ; yet 
in ancient Bengali literature we have practically very 
little fjood j)rose at all, however late.' 

In critically examininjj tl.e literary history of Rtiifjal 
in the pre-British era, it is impossible to mistake the 
siornitioance of these facts : namely, thar its poetry, though 
vigorously starte<l umler the best auspices and though 

' Some aoconnt of the piowtli and dovelopmout of old Ben^mli 
prose is (^ivcu in A pp. I at the end of this volume. 


attaining to some naeasure of relative perfection, was 
itself failin<2j , and that at no period of its loni^ history, it 
produced prose that could be called such. There must 
have been something wrong in the very system, some 
coldness in the literary constitution to account for this 
decadence and this poverty. If a literature after produc- 
ing great things in the past does nothing more for 
centuries, it' it shows signs of decadence and practically 
limits itself to trities, then the conclusion is irresistible 
that it badly wan^s a change. Long before the stability 
of British rule was beyond all question a process of 
decadence or dissolution had already begun which indi- 
cated a change in its spirit. The British occupation and 
its accompanying evils only hastened this change, so 
that a new era of literary history began in Bengal 
with the firm establishment of British rule. It is amiable 
but entirely unhistorical imagination which suggests that 

it was the British rule which enti- 

These facts show that j-gU, g^gpt awav the old literature 
the decadent litera- *^ ^ ^ 

ture, if it were to pro- and replaced it with the new. There 
long its life, needed , 11,1 1 n j\ 

a change, and the ^^^ "o ^uch absolute breach or the 

change was brought continuitv of our literary history; 
by the British occiipa- • '' "^ 

lion of Bengal. a change was inevitable and the 

British rule brought it about in the 
most novel and unexpected way, although it would be 
difficult to say what form it would have taken had 
there been no British occupation of Bengal. 

The commencement of the 19th century saw a more settled 

order of things. Beginning with the 

The beginning of the patch-work of the Regulating Act 
19th century. ' . ^ o 

of 1774, vigorous attempts were made 

to reform the abuses of misrule which had been bringing 

disirrace to British ideas of iustice and honour, and the 

permanence of British rule was now more or less a settled 


fact. The Company in the meantime had been extendin"; 
its territories beyonil the limits of IJencfal. llastins^s 
had bo Id I V thrown aside the mask of dual ^jovernment 
which Clive had thoni»ht so expedient to wear. But even 
HastiiiL^s, boldly ambitious of foundin«j: an Einpire in 
India, could not carry out what he devised. The records 
of the period «jive us some i^limpses of good intentions 
but there was little of actual performanee. From Corn- 
wallis's time however, we enter upon a brighter period. 
Cornwallis had greater freedom from interference or 
control, and his noble rank enabled him to demand his 
own terms from the wise-heads at Leadenhall Street. 
In spite of Thornton's strictures, it cannot be denied that 
(-ornwaliis realised for the first time that the governed 
as well as the governors ought to be considered in all 
system of good government. It was he who gave a better 
moral tone to the civil service. It is not necessary here to 
trace step by step this gradual process of political recons- 
truction from Cornwallis's time onward or enter into the 
details of every scheme of reform or every administrative 
measure. The general effect of these changes was that 
the Company was gradually being transformed from a 
trading corporation into a sovereign power. The idea 
that Bengal was an estate which vielded a larere rental 
but involved none of the responsibilities of government 
had not, it is true, totally disap])eared ; but none of the 
administratoi"s since this time can be rejrarded as mere 
land-stewards of a private* property. Narrow views still 
prevailed but we find a liberal-minded Governor-General 
like WVllesley laying stress upon the fact that the Factory 
had grown into an Empire and that the civil servants 
should not consider themselves as mere agents of a 
commercial concern but as responsible ofl[icers and adminis- 
trators whose duty it was to understand the people. 


The revenue system began to be pUceii on a secure 
footing. There was greater peace and order throughout 
the country, and the civil, criminal, and police functions 
of the government were beginning to be organised. 
The rural administration was taken in hand and 

Calcutta was forming itself into a 

Calcutta settling , -, -y , n ^ 

clown into a metro- metropolis. In 1771, we hnd 
P°''^' Calcutta a stragglin<i: village of mud- 

houses, the whole of the ground south of Chandpal Ghat 
thickly covered with jungle and forest-trees. From 1780 
onwards, we read in the Calcutta papers of frequent 
complaints about the indescribably filthy condition of the 
streets and roads which is fully confirmed by the account 
of Grandpre in 1790, who tells us of the canals and cess- 
pools reeking with putrefying animal matter — the awful 
stench coming out of them — the myriads of Hies and 
Hocks of animals and birds acting as scavenger.* In the 
times of Hastings and Francis and for a long time after 
that, daeoity and highway robbery within a mile of the 
seat of government and of the Supreme Court were, we 
have seen, crimes exceedingly prevalent. But when 
Hastings' government abolished the provincial Revenue 
Councils and transferred from Murshidabad to Calcutta 
the seat of the Supreme Courts of Justice as well as the 
head-seat of revenue administration and the Khalsa, 
Calcutta was being deliberately designed to become ulti- 
mately the political capital of Bengal. ^ By 1800, a busy 

' This state of things continued for a long time and we here of cons- 
tant complaints of this not only in the English papers and also in the 
Samachar-darpan as late 1818, See the Samachar-darpan, Nov. U, 1818 ; 
May 27, 1820 etc. (the quotations, will be found given in my article on 
the above-mentioned paper in Sahitija Pari.^at Pdtrika vol. 24, no. 3, 

p. 163.) 

" Gleig, Memoirs of Wairen Hastings, vol. i. p. 263. 


and HourisliinfT town was beini]^ built up' ; and attracted 
by its commercial importance, of which, notwithstanding 
the monopoly of the Company ami its discourairement of 
private enterprise, Stavorinns, writing so far back as 1770, 
bears strong testimony, many Bengali families as well 
as men of other nationalities began to settle down. From 

the time of the inroads of the Mah- 
Ituollectual and rattap, people had fled from the interior 

social centres snrinf;- , ,,^^^ ^i i i i- 

in- iipalong the banks and settled down on the banks of 
of the Ganges, close to ^he Ganges, close to Calcutta, where 

Calcutta. . . 

in course of time, there arose 
several flourishing towns while the rest of Bengal lay 
under disorder and misrule. Bengal in the times past 
had many capitals and many centres of learning, and all 
these now converged to the few spots along the Ganges- 
bank and chiefly to the metropolis. It is natural to 
expect that here, with Calcutta as its centre, began the 
earliest efforts to diffuse knowledge, reform abuses, formu- 
late new ideas, and build up a new order of society and 
literature. From this arises the importance of the metro- 
polis in later Bengali literature — an importance whieh 
will be more fully realised when we consider that refined 
Importance of the city '"Inanity is one of the main character- 
and the metropolis in jytJcg which differentiates the modern 

later Bengali liter- 
ature, literature from its pre- British prede- 
cessor. If the ancient literature, as one of its historians 
says, was a gift of the lower to the higher classes 
and was fostered chiellv in the remote and secluded 

' On the history and topography of old Calcutta, literature is scat- 
tered and plentiful. One may however consult with advantage 
A. K. Roy, A Short Hibtory of Calcutta ; Rainey, Topographical and 
Historical Sketch of Calcutta, 1876 ; Busteod, Echoes from Old Calcutta ; 
Cotton, Calcutta Old and Neic ; articles in Bengal Pant and Preient 
and references given therein; Long, Calcutta in Olden time. 



villai^e-homcs, the modern literature 

Urbanity of modern j^ ^ostlv the work of the educated 
Bengali literature. 

man of the city, and a pjift from him 

spreading down to the lowest classes. In studying? modern 

literature, we must steadily keep our eyes fixed upon these 

centres of intluences, of which Calcutta and Srirampur, 

as we shall see, become all-important in the first stage of 

our history. 

In these crowded cities, which had drawn into it the fiower 

of the Bengali families from all parts of the country and 

which afforded endless opportunities of intercourse between 

the European and the Bengali commu- 
Growth of Calcutta . . ... 

and its awakening to nities, a new era was begmning in 

new influence.. ^j^g ^^^,{^1 ^,^j ]iterary history of the 

jieople. Happily for the country, the hour of awakening 
to new thoughts had dawned. On the 10th October, 
1800, we find the missionaries at Srirampur thus writing 
home: " There appears to be a favourable change in the 
general temper of the people. Commerce has roused new 
thoughts and awakened new energies, so that hundreds, 
if we could skilfully teach them, would crowd to learn the 
English language.''* Hitherto Education had l)een totally 
neglected. The history of English education in Bengal 
has a verj important bearing on the history of the intel- 
lectual progress and will be sketched in its proper place ; 
it would be enough to indicate here that during the early 

days of the Comj^auv's rule, the pro- 

ningofthe 19th cen- in England, was regarded as a duty 

of the government; on the contrary, 
the safety of the Indian Empire was tliought to depend 

' .<mith, Life of Williain Carey, (New reprint, 1912), p. 274; Eustace 
Carey, Memoirs of William Carey, pp. -106-7. 


upon keopinp; the people immersed in i£jnoranee. It was 
not until Welleslev's time that more liberal ideas be<raii 
to ijain sjjround. Thus the history of education in 
this early period, as we shall see, consisted chiefly 
of the educational efforts of private individuals who had set 
up sehools for instruction in tiie rudiments of learning. 
Such small isolated attempts are obviously by their very 
nature bound to be transitory ; and such private schools 
eouKl not surely be expected to answer the larger purj)ose 
of national education. Such humble efforts date so far 
back as 17 17' ; but the desire of prospering in commercial 
enterprise under the new condition of things served as a 
great incentive to English education, as Persian education, 
now declining, had been eagerly sought for under the 
Mohammedan administration. In 1796, only a few Bengali 
children were taught by European school-masters : but 
gradually a set of Bengali teachers possessing a smatter- 
ing of English came into existence and opened schools. 
In those days, however, penmanship, (juiekness in calcu- 
lations, and a knowledge of accounts were considered 
greater accomplishments than an accurate study of English 
itself ; and even men like Ram-duliil De, we are told, 
never careil to make a better ac(|uaintanee with P]nglish 
than picking up a few broken phmses of collocpiial speech ; 
for such knowletlgp was enough to make them serve as 
ship-sarkiirs, banians, and writers and ultimately win for 
them colossal fortunes. Thus although the study of 
English was sought for, no systematie course of instruction 
was given or requireil ; and for a time a low and broken 
FInglish, or half-English and half- Bengali gibberish was 
spoken, of which humorous sj)ecimens may be found in 

' Long, Haud-Book to Bcngul Mi»i>iona, p\>. 441-451. But sco Good 
Old DaifB, vol. i, p. 893 et acq. 


Raj-narayaii Basu^s delif^htful little sketch of that time. 
Sometimes, to eke out this half-diction, gesture-language 
was used, somewhat in the manner in which Gulliver spoke 
to the Lilliputians. 

The state of Bengali education, if not in a worse, was 
at least in no better plight. The 

state of Bengali edu- ^^ss of Bengali manuscripts recently 
cation. " _ ^ _ '' 

unearthed by patient investigations of 

modern scholars was mostly unknown, and the literature 
of the time, possessing hardly any printed books, consisted 
chiefly of a handful of works, Manasa, Dharmamarigal, 
Mahabharat of Kasidas, Ramilyan of Krttibas, Chandi 
of Kabi-karikan, Annadamarigal of Bharat-chandra, and 
probably the songs of Ram-prasad. The only works which 
were read in the Path-salas, we learn on the authority of 
the biographer of Ram-kamal Sen', were Gurudaksina 
and the rules of arithmetic by Subharikar. There were 
neither good schools nor were there proper elementary text- 
books for purposes of instruction ; and even a decade later, 
this was one of the initial difficulties which the School 
Society felt in carrying out its worthy object of Bengali 
education. Such was the state of Bengali learning at this 
time that we learn from a writer in the Friend of India- 
" If they can ivrife at all, each character, to say nothing 
of orthography, is made in so irregular and indistinct a man- 
ner, that comparatively few of them could read what is 
written by another : and some of them can scarcely wade 
through that has been written by themselves, after any 
lapse of time. If they have learnt to recul, they can 

' Pearychand Mitra, Life of Bamkonud Sen (1880), p. 7. 

* vol. ii, p.392, qnoted in Cal Rev. vol. xiii, 1850. p. 132. Sec also 
Quarterly Friend of India, vol. iv. p. 1.52. This remark ia confirmed by 
what ForBter says in tlie Introduction to liis Vocnbulary with rpgard 
to the uncertainty of Bengali spelling and Bengali script. 


seldom road (ive words (ogcther, without stoppinif to make 
out the syllables, and often scarcely two, even when the 
writinp: is lejj^ible. The ease is precisely the same with 
the knowledo^e of Jiffnrex." These observations, however, 
eomin«j[, as they do perhaps, from a missionary, whose 
personal knowleds:e of the country and its inhabitants 
miiijht not perhaits have extended beyond narrow limits, 
must be taken subject to this reservation that althouj^h 
this miixht be the picture of the jjfeneral state of kuowled<jc 
and culture at this time, yet there still lived in di^ifnitied 
isolation a few learned pundits in the remote villa<:]jes and 
that the days of Sanscrit learnini^ were not quite over. But 
even these Brahmans, with a few exceptions, were now, j»s 
we have stated, a fallen race ; and the exclusive genius of 
Brrihmaiiisni in its lowest phase not only barred the masses 
from the temple of knowledge but also made themselves 
neglect the vernacular as " Prakrit " dialect lit only for 
" demons and women." So far indeed had they carried 
their contempt for their mother-tongue that while they 
cultivated the learned language with assiduity, they, in 
many instances, prided themselves on writing the language 
of the people with inaccuracy and sometimes in an almost 
unintellii^ible semi-barbaric sanscritiscd style. We shall 
see some specimens of the latter kind even in the writings 
of the more accomplished Pundits of the Fort William 
College. It is natural to expect that these so-called 
pundits should strenuously discourage the use of the 
vernacular among the people and set their face against its 
improvement. The neglect of the vernaculars, especially 
Bengali, had reached such a stage that when Dr. Carey 
began to lecture at Fort William College, he could hardly 
muster a ehiss ; and the same learned doctor when he 
visited Nadiyii, not many years ago the illustrious centre 
of Bengali language and literature, ' he could not discover 


more than 10 separate works, all in mamiseripts, as the 
whole literature of 30,000,000 of people up to that 

The state of learninn^ in Bei^^al may not be uufitly 
compared to that in Eni^land after the ravai^es of the 
Danes, of which Kint^^ Alfred said "there was a time when 
i:>eople came to this island for instruction, now we must ^et 
it from abroad, if we want it". For, under this state of 
things, it is obvious that no impetus coming from within, 

if imjirovement is to be effected, it 

Improvement comes ^^ ^^.^^^ Outside. When we 

trom Without. 

picture to ourselves adventurers, ne'er- 
do-wells, plain townsfolk and country-folk, peaceful home- 
stayers in the remote villages and commercial banians in 
the crowded cities, and later on, well-to-do English gentle- 
men pushing their way up the river, laying out broad 
plantations and sultanising over the whole neighbourhood, 
we can hardly expect any manifestation of the literary 
genius in such an environment. With the mental and 
physical absorption incident upon social and political disorders 
in the country, with no metropolis to furnish the needed 
contact of mind with mind, with repressive material needs 
causing large drain upon one's j)hysical energy, and above 
all, with the decay of artistic impulses and literary tradi- 
tions, it is no wonder that the nation produced little 
literature and developed little culture of importance. The 
impulse at length came from outside. We cannot but 
acknowledge with feelings of mingled shame and grateful- 
ness that the first and earliest efforts 
European workers, . . . 

civilians and mis- Ht ameleoratmg our condition were 

sonaries, in the field. ^^ade by a handful of i.hilanthropic 
Europeans, both civilians and missionaries, who in their 

' Smith, op. cit., p. 202. 


lil)eval views niove«l far ahoa'l of their a^c. In spite of the 

Cornwallis Code and the public {)oliey 

Relation between the . . in 

European ami the ot exclusion, the rul-r and the ruled 

U.M.guli community , j . ^ y ■ ^^^^^ ^^^-^ 

in those days. '^ '^ 

and fello\v-feelin«i,'. With the assump- 
tion of the responsibilities of political government, the 
riding classes began to take greater interest in the lives 
of the |)eople committed to their care. In vain do we seek 
in modern Bengal philanthropists of the type of Colvin, 
Palmer, Carey, Marshman, and David Hare, whose memory 
is still gratefully cherished by the Bengali-speaking race.' 
No doubt, the Company's servants hitherto had never re- 
garded India as tiieir home but they iiail been alwa3's 
sojourners in a far country whose only ambition was to obtain 
riclies as soon as possible and return home as gentlemen of 
leisure. This was one of the underlying causes of the 
constant disputes between the Company and its self-seeking 
agents ; and it is no wonder that throughout the 18th century 
constant complaints of corruption, peculation, and general 
dishonesty of the agents are to be found in the Letter- 
Books of the Company. But with stability of British rule, 
when commercialism was declining as a dominating factor 
in the Company's policy, and with the realisation of greater 
administrative responsibility, this order of things was 
gradually changing. Two oljvious reasons naturally 
strengthened the ties which Iwund these foreigners to this 
country. The first is that in those days of weary and 
perilous voyage round the Cape, mtMi who came out to 
India and had a taste for the going (sometimes reck- 
less) life of pleasure and profit in the tropics, ha<l no mind 
to return home very soon ; while in the next place, the 

' The couplet goes thas (qnotodin Raj-niiniynii Basu's Ekal OSeknl); 


number of Europeans who lived here was very small and 
they consisted mostly of officials ; for not only was the 
climate unsuitable to Europeans <^enerally' but the policy 
of the government also regarded tlie introduction of free- 
trade and Eiiropeans to be danj^erou^ to the safety of the 
newly acquired empire. But whatever mi;^ht be the reason, 
there is no i^ainsayinj^ the fact that most of these 
Europeans, who had lived here for a Ion": time, had a genuine 
affection for the country, and some of them went so far as 
to adopt the manners and customs and even the dress of 
the Bengali population. Enjoying the hooka, whose "long 
ornamental snake coiled round and round the rails of the 
chair" was one of the customs, among others^ immortalised 
by Thackeray, which was long fashionable- with these 
official and non-official 'Nabobs' ; and it would surprise 
many a modern reader to learn that it even fascinattd the 
ladies, on whose part *'it was considered a high compliment 
to show a preference for a gentleman by tasting his hooka". 
Besides this affection of the early European settlers 
for their land of adoption, which 
Study of Bengali by prompted them to exiiress themselves 

European settlers. ^ | _ ' 

occasionally in its language, there 
were other purely political and utilitarian grounds which 

' Cf. Sir Philip Francis's impressions of his residence in this country. 
Macaulay, writinp: after 60 years with the experience of a much 
improved countiy, speaks almost in the same strain in his characteris- 
tically sweeping way. 

* A picture of this custom and manner of life is preserved for us in 
the pages of the immortal Alalcr Gharcr Dalai. We read in Carey's 
Dialogues (3rd Ed. 1818, p. 3) that one of the indispensably necessary 
servant of the Englishman's household was a hookabardar or n man to 
prepare his hookn. Stavorinus (vol. i, 345) also relates how on the 
occasion of his visit to Governor Cartier at Calcutta, he was treated 
with the hooka at an orientally sumptuous banquet given in his lionour. 
See also Busteed, op. cH. p. 157; Good Old Daya, vol. i. 63. 


iiitUiced them to the study and encouragement of the 
vernacular. Time was coming when Bengali sliould, both 
officially as well as po[)ularly, be the recognised vernacular; 
and both Halhed and Forstor, the two earliest important 
European writers in Bengali, rightly insist at some 
length ujion the absurdity and inconvenience of continuing 

Persian as the language of the Court 

Its political an.l .^,,,1 ^1,^. „,arkot-place and advocate 
utilitarian grouiul. ' 

more wide-spread and general use of 
Bengali in its phice. Exigencies of administration which 
had made it almost obligatory for the governors to learn the 
language of the governed hat^tened this movement towards 
the neglected vernacular. The missionaries, on the other 
hand, found out early that if they were to reach the 
I)eople directly they must first learn their language and gain 
a thorough knowledge of their modes of thinking and feel- 
ling. Systematic mission-work always presupposed a 
th<trough training in their language. All these and other 
reasons first impelled the early European settlers to take 
to a systematic study of the neglected vernacidar. When 
therefore with the disappearance of the old Bengali 
writers, Bengali literature had been sent adrift to shift 
for itself as best as it could, it was taken uj) and fostered 
by strangers hailing from distant lands whom fortunately 
political, personal, or utilitarian reasons, if not alwa3s the 
love of the language or the literature itself, first urged to 
its elaborate study under entirely new conditions. 

This brief and necessarily incomi)lete j)icture of the 
general state of this country from 1760 to 1800 will, to 

some extent, exhibit the new 

CoiKlu.linKrom.irkH conditions under which modern 
on tno sijjniticnnco of 

the general history of Bengali literature first came into 

the time to its literary , . mi • ^ i^-i .< i 

liiatory. • being. 1 he nistability and pertur- 

bation, consequent upon these political 


changes as well as the almost entire disintegration of 

social solidarity will no doubt explain the external 

circumstances which retarded the growth of literature, 

but the literature itself since the days of Bharat-chandra 

had been showing inherent signs of exhaustion and decay, 

which was only hastened, instead of being cheeked, by 

political and social revolutions. The necessarily slow and 

laborious process of reconstruction which followed upon 

these vicissitudes absorbed men's mind for more than half a 

century from 1800. This will explain not only why w& 

do not come across any great and important writer 

before we reach the age of Michael or Bai'ikim but it will 

also exhibit very clearly how literary movements in Bengal 

had perforce been closely bound up with political, social, 

relio'ious, and other movements in the first half of the 

19th century. Every great writer of this period of 

transition was of necessity a politician, a social reformer, 

and a religious enthusiast. We need hardly cite, for 

illustration, the long list of such important names 

as those of Ram-mohan Ray, Krsnamohan Bandyopadhyay, 

Aksay Datta, Debendranath Thakur, Isvar-ehandra Bidya- 

sagar, Tck-chand, or Rujendralal Mitra. Even in the 

next generation Bankim-cliandra could not keep himself 

entirely free from this universal tendency. Politics, social 

reform, and religious revival went hand in hand with literary 

creation. From 1825 to 1858, if not in the period 

actually under review in this volume, we sliall have to 

extend our vision and include in our 

Literary movements consideration various aspects of natio- 
in tho 19th century 

closely bound up with nal history other than the one which 

political, social, and . i i-i rr i i. t> r 

other movements. ^^ merely literary. To treat Bengali 

Literature in the 19th century as a 
series of isolated phenomenon is to give a wrong historical 
perspective, for here, as everywhere, literary thought and 


contemporary events are two inseparable aspects of national 

history. It is trne that durini; the period between ISOO 

and I8i >, with which more specially the present enqnirv 

is eoncernel, these teulencies did not come into such 

bold relief as in the period immediately followin<^ upon 

it, ytt for the understandin;^^ of the ^'eneral drift, the 

historian t>f literature must from the bei^innini^ keep in 

view tliL' relation of literature to the political and social 

history of the time ; and this, apart from all reference to 

the theory of the insensible mouldinsf of the literary mind 

and art by the consiilerations of race, time, or circumstance, 

will sutHcienth' make clear the necessity of devotin" 

tedious pi^res to a i»;eneral description of the state of this 

country at the outset of our literary history. 

The immediate effect of the political and social 

vicissitudes of the second half of the eiijhteenth century was 

depreciatiiiij in the extreme. The old Bcn^^ali literature, 

which had been subsidiiiij i;raduiilly into decrepitude 

and decay, i)ractically disappeared. The Kabiwalas, the 

few isolated writers in the old style, the authors of 

Paih'hali, and the host of inferior imitators of Bhfirat- 

chandra had no doubt kept up the continuity of literary 

history and maintained, even with 

Absence of literary declining; jiowers, the ancient trend 
ventures in the first r ii i * i r r \i ,. l 

period of our history: »* thought and feelin-. But It was 

how to bo cxpUiiiuil. ^„ aj,'e not conspicuous for the 

appreciation of hi;^h ideas nor for 
any great enthusiasm for literary ventures. The decadence, 
iuspite of these belated efforts of an inferior, if not an 
insigniticant, band of writers, was rapidly hastened and 
the necessity of an e.vternal stimulus, which alone could 
have given a new lease of life to the declining literature, 
was urgently felt. Such an external stinmlns was not 
forthcoming until sometime had elapsed and trancjuillity 


bad been attained, until the rich and plentiful literature 
of the West, which under the peculiar circumstances was 
alone capableof furnishing the needed impetus, had been made 
accessible to the literary men of Bengal. Tn the meantime, 
the alien rulers of Bengal, brought uj) in I he habits of 
unchecked power and in the ignorance and passion of an 
adventurous life, cared little for culture or literature. 
The general people of the country, among whom literary 
traditions and aspirations had been all but extinct or 
had not found scope for free play, were apathetic to 
literary culture and devoted their attentions, in this 
troublesome time, to the more urgent and engrossing 

material necessities of life. The first 
Necessity of a re- ^^^^,. therefore, that had to be taken, 

generation or the 

freneral inteiiec-tuul before literary venture could be 

life in the countiv ., , ^ ^ ^•n> • p 

before n renewal of possible, was towards ditfusion ot 

literature conld ho knowledge, spread of education, and 
made possible. _ ' ' 

promotion of literary tendencies. 

The first half of the 10th century, therefore, was entirely 

taken up in the realisation of these objects. It was 

necessary to prepare text-books, to translate standard works 

from foreign languages, to reprint older classics from 

inaccessible manuscripts, and in this way generally to 

furnish a leaven for elevating the decaying intellectual 

life of the country. This was the work chiefly of the 

foreign writers in Bengali and their colleagues, the 

Pundits of the Fort "Willi. m College, 

Importance of the ^^,|,^ }xeY(i pioneers in various dciiart- 

work ot the Knropean '■ '■ 

writers in this respect, ments of vernacular writing and who 

wrote, not with any personal literary 
ambition but with the more modest yet useful object of 
promoting general education. To their efforts, therefore, 
we chiefly owe, in a very practical sense, if not the 
regeneration of our literature, at least the regeneration of 


intellectual aotivitios in the country. It is not in the 
least de£;ree correct to say, as it has been often enthnsiasti- 
cally said, that it is the missionary, especially Dr. Carey, 
who ereated modern Benj^ali Literature. The crt-ation of 
modern literary Bengali covers a period of more than half 
a century from Carey's time and literary styK , in the 
strict sense of the term, was not attained until a 
generation later when a band of youthful Bengali writers 
had come into the field, ecpiipped in all the wealth of the 

new knowledge. It is true, indeed. 
Impetus pivcn to the ^|j^^ j-j^^ missionaries gave an impetus 

spread of ion " * 

ar.rl ponernl culture. to vernacular writing when it was 

generally neglected. But at the 

same time it must be borne in mind that we cannot fasten 

the parentage of modern Bengali upon the missionaries 

only, much less upon Dr. Carey alone, and that literature 

was never the sole object of the ICuropean writers but 

etlueation or evangelisation. If their work fostered 

literature, it was not due to any definite intention on their 

part to do so, but it was an incidental result of what they 

had done for the revival of education in Bengal. A national 

literature, whether ancient or modern, is the outcome of a 

long process of development and even Carey himself 

had realised very early that, in spite of the efforts of the 

foreigners, the best way of building up such a literature 

would be indueing the children of the soil themselves to 

take to earnest literary work. The missionary, even if he is 

a talented man like Carey, did hardly jiroduee anything 

strictly deserving the name of litera<ure. The importance 

of the missionary-work in Bengali does n<»t lie in this ; 

the literature of to-day is work not of Carey, Halhed, or 

Forster but of the people of the soil, of Mrlyun jay, of 

Ram-mohan, of Bankim-chandra, of Michael Madiiusudan. 

The missionaries, however, did a great work in the first 


quarter of the nineteenth century in supplying the needed 
impetus to education by founding schools, writing 
elementary school-books, and diffusing knowledge through 
the medium of Bengali — all which however had a more 
wide and far-reaching effect than what they were actually 
intended to produce. 

AVe mav resent this foreign intrusion at the outset of 
our history but under the circumstances and in the 
environment such as they were, it could not have been 
otherwise. No doubt, the hour had come for such a 

regeneration and reconstruction. Had 

Foreign intrusion there been no foreign workers in the 

sit' ;, 'I'LvoidX:; field, the work, "however delayed, 

its good effects. would not Certainly have remained in 

abeyance. But the missionaries were 
the first to take up the work in right earnest, and, in this 
respect, the importance of these early half-forgotten 
foreiirn writers can never be exaggerated. Of 
course, as in all early periods of literary history, the 
work done here chiefly consisted of translation and 
adaptation; yet it must be admitted that there is hardly 
any department of useful knowledge which these European 
writers did not touch. It is true that they could not 
adorn whatever they touched j but when we consider the 
large number of workers in the field — Carey, Marshman, 
AYard, Haughton, Yates, Morton, Pear&on, Mack, Pearce, 
Miller, Harley, May, Stewart, to mention at random a 
few of the more well-known — their earnest philanthropic 
zeal, their unflagging diligence, the extraordinary variety, 
extent and influence of their writings, we cannot surely 
speak lightly of these pioneer writers. 

It is easier to disclaim foreign influence and talk of 
independence than actually to attain it. The literary 
history of Bengal in the l9th century is really the history 


of the influence of European ideas on Bengali thuught. 

AVe can indeed dismiss, without much 
Contait with the sei'ious loss, the early European writers, 

West.a.Kl inlluencoof j , j ^^^.^^-^^ \l^^-^, 0,,,,, ^jlterjor 

western uleus im -^ 

modern literattue. objects in tlu'ir assiduous study 

of the vernacular antl whose writings, 

considered as literature, possess little or no intrinsic merit. 

Rut we cannot dismiss so easily those immaterial 

immigrants, known as influences, which came in with the 

flrst European settler in the land and brought on by degrees 

a conflict and a revolution in our ideas anil modes of 

life. When necessity had brought the East and the West 

side by side, it would be idle to quote Kipling's famous 

dictum of the unchanging East or assert ourselves 

independent of all contact or influence 

What the Enropcan of western ideas. The pioneer efforts 

writers did for the c j\ • • i *i „i „ i 

spread and acceptance ^^ the missionary and the school- 

of these ideas. master for diff'ising knowledge and 

culture through the medium of 
Bengali had surely a more wide-reaching effect than that 
of giving temporary impetus to dormant intellectual or 
literarv activities: for the literature which had been brouijht 
into being through the ir.fluence of western ideas was only 
one effect of a vaster revolution in thought, manners, and 
religion which had taken place in this countrv through our 
contact with the West. It is out of this conflict of the 
eastern with the western ideals that our modern literature 
has grown; and the rude early efforts of the missionary and 
the school-master, by propagating western ideas, had paved 
the way for this j)eculiar development of cidture and 
literature in Rengal. It is with the missionary and the 
school-master, therefore, that we must begin our studv of 
the history of this national progress as reflected through 
the vernacular literature. It is thev who have laid the 


foundations npon whicli the vast fabiic of present-day 
literature is based, and every liistorieal survey must eciually 
embrace and define the place of the pioneer who did the 
spade-work as well as that of the mature litterateur who 
wins the laurel-w-reath of later glories. 



It is not before the ti nil establislimenl <>F tlio British 
rule in Bengal, in the ber:;innini^ of the IVHh eentnry, that 
the early European settlers eanie i'l louch with Brniiali 
lani^uawe and literature. Before this, there is no trace ot 
systematic effort in this direction, althoui^h several works 
have been discovered which belont,^ to a jieriod earlier 
than 1800. Of these works, it is not easy, however, to 
determine with certainty what Anulo- Bengali Mritin*; can 
claim the distinction of beinir the first publication 1)V a 
Euroi)ean writer. Grierson in two papers in the Jonriiul aud 

Proceed i/if/s of the Asiatic Society of 

Early publications by Jj,, ,3] , " j.^lj, ^j,^^, (l,^ go-called 
r^nropean writers. '^ ' 

Bengali rendering of the Lord's Prayer 

in C'hamberlayne's 5y//(/y(', published in 1710, is perhaps 

the earliest extant attempt at Bengali composition l)y a 

European writer. This ^i/lloge is a collection of translations 

of the Lord's Pi-a\erinto various languagee, prepared by 

John Chaniberlaynf and David \N'ilkins. This work actually 

contains a plate jiurporting to represent 

Early isolated attom- ^ translation in Bengali which is head- 

pl8. " 

ed "Bengaliea." But it has been shown 

' Journal of the Aniatic Society of Bengal, vol. xlii, 1803, p. 42ff. and 
Proceedings of the same Society, ISO.'j. p. 89. Tlio plate is piven in the 
Proctedingg. See also tJrierson, Linyuigtic Survey, vol. v, pt. i. )». 23. 
The charac'ors are hardly Bengali. 



that this unintelli^j:il)l(.' jarj^on is not Bengali at all : and 

Wilkins himself confesses in the pre- 
So-CHlled Bengali vi-r- f »Aii ijii.ivii„ 

siou of Lord's Prayer ^^ce to that woik that he had been 

in Chamberlayne's unable to obtain a Beno-ali renderinor 

Sylloge. . "^ * 

(which language he thought to be 
all but extinct !) but that he had written a Malay version 
in the so-called Bengali character, (jrierson also mentions' 
that in the Orientalisch-nnd-occifhtifalischer Sprachmeisfer 
comi)iJed bv Johann Friedrich Fritz (Leipzig, 1748); 
(he Bengali alphabet given as a specimen is said to have 
been taken from the Aurcnck S:eb. apparently a life of 

a Aurangzeb, by Georg Jacob Kehr. 

Aurncck Szel. p r • 

But or this latter book no trace 


Leaving aside these isolated and tentative efforts, 

real attempt at sustained Bengali composition did not 

begin till the time when the Portuguese, before the 

Enirlish, had beijun to establish themselves in Bengal. 

The Portuguese, by 1530, had settled 
The Portuguese in j,^ ^^^^^^. .^^ ^^^ ^j^j^ country and 

Ueiigal. • ' ' 

carried on an extensive trade in the 
chiei sea-])orts. The nun-ber of people claiming themselves 
to be of Portuguese descent was in the 17th century very 
larixe and Portuguese language had established itself as the 
lingua franca of the country.- Among these Portuguese 
adventurers and pirates, howtner, we (;an never expect any 
serious attempt at literary composition : but the Portuguese 
missionaries seem to have done some work in this direction. 
Bernier,'^ about 1C60, si)eaks of "Portugal fathers and 
missionaries" in Bengal and savs that in Bengal there are 

' Gricrson, Linguistic Snncy. loc. cit. 

- Tlie Portuguese language lias bequeathed a large number of 
expressions to the vernacular tongue. 
» Travels, p. 27. 


to bo t'oiind not less than eiu;lit or nine thousand tiitnilies 

of "Franfjjiiis, l^ortiiij^als". huleeil there is fiioui^h evitU'nce 

to show that Roman Catholic Mission, some of Portiijjuese 

oiij^in, had at tliis time its centre in 

Uunian Catholic and many paits of" Ben^jjal and that it had 
rortuiruese Missionn- i ' i i v. ■• •. ,• 1,1 

lies. extended it> activity iiom Jialasore 

and .lln>;li to Chittagon;^ and 

Dacca.' Ironi the records left by these missionaries 

it seems that these Catholic missionaries, like their 

Protestant or Dissentinji^ successors in the next centurv, 

did not neglect to mix with the j>eojile of Ben<^al and 

learn their lanii^uage. In I ()8-"5, Father Marcos Antonio 

Satucci S.J., the superior of the ^lission a!nun<4' these 

Bengali converts between UwD and JtiS 1 writes thus: 

"The fathers have not failed in their 

Translation-work in 1. . .1 1 1 ... 1 ii > 

jjgjj jj duty : tliey nave learned the language 

well, have composed vocabularies, a 

grammar, a c nfessiouary and prayers: they have 

ti-anslated the Christian dnctrine etc., nothing of which 

existed till now."'-' Ilosten mentions another earh- 

allusion to translational woik undertaken in Rental in a 

letter of Ei-ancis Fernandez, dated Siripnr, a town of 

''Bengalla"^ January 17, 1599, where it is stated that 

' Father Hostcn S. J. of the St. Xavier's College, Calcutta, has been 
giving interesting accounts of tiiese niis.sioiis and missionaries in the 
Journal of the Asiatic Sortelii of Hcinjal (Feb. 11*11) ami lieiuinl Past 
und I'regent. 

* O Chroninta de Tissunry, Cum. vol. ii, 18<)7, p. 12, (juoted by llosteu 
in Bengnl Past and Pintcnt, vol. i.x, pt. i. Tiiis Ciiiirch still exists. It 
was twice burnt down and rel)niU. Its records, I am given to under- 
stand, have all perished in tlie lire. 

* Siripnr, we learn from an article {Portiiguc»e i>i India) in Cnl. 
Rev. vol. v., 1K4(>. is situated 18 miles south of Sonergang in Dacca 
and was in the With centnrv an extensive Portuguese settlement. 
It is modern firipur. See .TMlTndrnmohan R«i\ , IHi'tkar Itihufn vol. i. 
p. 839. 


Fernandez composed a small treatise explaining summarily 
tile j)oints of the Christian relij^ion and a small catechism 
in the form of a dialosjue. Father Dominic De Souza 
translated both these works into the "Benc^alla'' tonijue.' 
In Let Ires Edijiantes el Cur tenses,'- Father Barbier, as early 
as 1723, mentions that he prepared a little catechism in 
Bensi^ali. From these and otlier references, it is not 
iiazardous to conclude that these Portu<^uese missionaries, 
like Carey and Marshman of a later age, though on a 
modest scale, must have created and left behind them an 
interesting bodv of Portuguese-Bengali literature. Of this 
Portuguese-Bengali literature, little trace remains. Of 
the few extant writings of a distinctly Portuguese origin, 
three works, all jiurported to be written or edited by 
Manoel da Assump9a6, Rector of Missio de Santa Nicolao 
de Tolentino deserve mention. 

All these works are supposed to have been written at 
Nagori, Bhawal, near Dacca. It has alreadv been men- 
tioned that the I'ortuguese missionaries had a centre at 
Dacca, where the existence of a church has been mentioned 
by Pere Barbier in the Lett res Ed if antes. Tavernier, 

^ Bengal Past and Present, Jaly to December, 1910, p. 220, quoting 
Ewtrait de Lettres du P. Xicolan Pimento ...Anvers, Trognese, 1601. 
Nii'holas Pinienta was a .Jesuit missionary of Goa (Visitenr de la 
Coinp.Tgnie de Jesus en I'lnde I'iin 1.598). He sent these two mis- 
sionaries, Francois Fernandez and Dominic (or Dominique) Sosa, to 
Bengal, from whose letters to Pimenta we get some account of 
contemporary Bengal and the Portuguese Missions at Siripur and 
elsewhere. See Peirre Du Jarric. Uii'toire des hides O.ientah's 1610, 
chap xxix ; also .\xx to xxxiii. Also see Nicalao Pimenta, Relatio 
Historica de rebus in India Orientali. Anno. MDCl. See Beveridge, 
BakarL/anj, p. 29 and otlicr references. 

' Lettre de Pere Barbier, Missionaire do la Compagnie de 
Jesus, La Mission de Carnate, January lo, 1723, in Lettres Edifiantes 
et Curieuses. Nouvelle Ed. Memoires de Indes. tome xiii, 1781, 
p. 278. 

KAllLIEST i:ri{()l'KAX W Kl'lKKS OH 

about 10:^0, states that Dacca lias :i "olnnvli of the 

Au<;ustiniaiis, a vt-iy ^taloly |iilt';"' 

at DiK-ia ' Hostel), ill his papers on Koinan 

C'athohc ^lissions and Missionaries, 

gives interestins: aceounts, from oriijinal records, of this 

Mis.MO de S. Nicolao Tolentino, iienr IJhawal, Dacca. - 

Maiioel thi Asstinip(;ao, a native of Kvora and an 
Aiitjiistiiiian f'ri;ii- of the ('oii^rega(;a6 

av^"""'' "^^ *'^'"""''" '^=^ I'''''^^ Oriental, was the Keetor 

of this Mission. Of his life and 
labours, nothin<]j definite is known : hut he seems to have 

been a zealons missionary and com- 

His two works i" . „ i * i i i Vi i 

j3pj ,jjjj posed two books and edited one m 

lieny-ali with the object of affordinj^ 

facilities to the missionaries in their lien<jfali discussions 

with the "Bramenes and Gentoos."^ 

Of these tliree works, his earliest composition 
seems to have been what Father Tliirso Lopes, in 
his note to Ilostei's paper,' calls an Abridp^ment 
of the Mysteries of Faith (('ompendio dos misterios 
da fee, ordenado tin liiiLTua Beiii^alla pelo P. Fr. 

' Tnvernier's Travels, ed. Hall, L.)ndon, 18S9, vol. i.. p. 128. 

* ReferenccB given anfe 'J'ho other centres of tlieso An^ifiistininn 
mii*!tinnnric8 in Bentfal wns tlio Convent of N. Senium «lo UoFnrio of 
Uj^alim (Hnj(li) in Bensfalii. 

' Father llosten 8tat<>-< (lir'ni/il /'"•■>' "n'l Prcseu', vol. i p. 42) 
that he has been itifornied fliat MSS of these works are now in the 
Public Library of Evora. 

* Quoted in no:o (4) above. P'ather Lopes'.t authorities, in 
addition to Barbosa Machado and Ossinper, arc . Catalogo dos Manus- 
criptos da Bibliothecn I'lthlicn Ehnreime ordenado pelo Bibliothecario 
Joaqnim Ileliodoro da Cunha Rivara, t. i p. 34.'j ; Silva, 
Diccionnrio Bibliogin}>hicu Porltignez t. v. p. 367 ; Honifacio Moral, 
Revista La Ciuiad de Dio<>, t. 37. pp. 4.33-34. Unfortunntoly these books 
are not available here. 


Manot'l da Assump(;ao). A little worm-eaten and partly 
mutilated copy of this work' e.xi.sts in the Librar\- of 
the Asiatic Society of Beiig-al. The runninj^ title is: 

Ci-fjjdr X.i.rlft'r Orlfi,h/ied or Cathe- 
Crepar Xaxu-cr Orth, ^-^^^^^^ ^j^^ Dnalr'uia CJiristad. The 

hhed or Cdthfciaino 

da Doutriiia Christaa copv ill the Asiatic Society is want- 
ing in the title-page; but an interest- 
ing certificate of publication in Portuguese is inserted 
at the beuinnin": from which we learn that it was com- 
pleted on August "ZS, 1734. It is dated from a 
place named Ba( )1, - which appear? to be Bhawal 
from a reference at page 2 of the book itself, where 
Nagori also is mentioned. It might have been, as Father 
Lopes suggests on the authority of Barbosa Machado,^ 
printed at Lisbon by P^rancisco da Silva (Sylva) in 1743 : 
but unfortunately the loss of the title-page deprives us of 
the most certain means of corroborating this suggestion. 4 

' An account of this work on the basis of this copy was read 
hy nie at the Bangi3'a Silhitya Parisat on Sept. 21, 1916: the 
paper is published in the Pnfrikd (vol. 23, p. 179) of the same Society, 
wliicli see for detailed information. 

* The Preface, as we have it now, is in places worm-eaten. This 
is what can be deciphered : 

Certifico eu Fr. Manoel da Assumpc^au, Reitor da Mis(.«(i)o de 
S. Nicolao Tolentino e (ac)tor dcste coniper.dio ; (e)star o( ) 
compendio treshidado ao pe (da) letra assim o iJ.-ng.vlla como o (Po). 
rtuguez : e certifico niais ser es( ) Uoatrina (|Uo os uaturaes mais/ 
tendeni, o entre todas a mais, (pu)rificada de erros, em fe de que/ esta 
Certidad, e se necessario/ a juro f» Verho Sncerdoti^ Bn (vn)]. aos. 
28 de Agosto de 1734. Fr. Manoel da Assumpijad. 

^ Bibliofheca Lusitana Histoiica Critica e Chronologica, t. iii, p. 183, 

col. 11. 

♦ Biirnell (.1 Tentative List of Portuguese Book^ atid Manuscripts 
1880) also gives 1743 and Lisbon as the date and place of publication, 
fs. V. Manoel da Assump(;a(5) his authoiities being Barbosa-Machado 
and Ossinger {Bibliothcm August itiiaua, p. 84). Ossinger gives the title 
as : Cathecismus doctrinae Christianae per modnni dialogi. 


The book is composed in both l'ortiii;iiesi> ami neiiL,'ah, 
the former version a|)i)earin<;' on the rtetos and the latter 
on the versos of the pa^es. The whole is in Honuin 
character (Beni;ali characters haviii<j: been non-existent), 
the words beinii: transliterated according- to the rnles of 
Portuii^nese i)ronnnciation. This method of transliteration 
is not oidy curions but also noteworthy, beinjjj one of the 
earliest of its kind and havin<; much value in the study 
of the phonetics of the Benjjali lan^ua^e as it existed two 
centuries a^o. ' 

The book attempts at an exhaustive explanation <>f 
the whole Christian doctrine in the foini of a dialo«;ue 

between a durii and A'/.//" (Sisya) or 

Contents and divi- i, . i l^• • i i i n 

sion of the work. Preceptor and Diseiple, based on the 

sliiiht eonceit of an iniairinarv travel 

to Bhawal. There are interspersed lhroui»hout short stories 

ti> illustrate moral principles. The contents of the work 

will be apparen^r from the followin*; account of the division 

of the work and headnotc of each chapter. The whole 

is divided into two books, entitled Puthi I and TI. 

Pul/ii I. (pj). 2-313). Xo(col.. )oner ortho, cbonf; 
Prothoijhie prothoiiiiie bu/han. 

Tazel I. (pp. ~18) — Xidhi crucer orthobhed. C^'J^u 
of the Cross). 

II. (jip. 10-.S2sc|) Pitar Paron ebonij talian ortho. 
(Our Fatiier and explanation thereof). 

ITT. (pp. ? r<w/^ 49-7<i). This part is wantinjjf in 
several i)a<Tes : not known at what pa^je it 
beij^ins and what its title is. The subject 
seems to be Hail Mary and Rosary. 

' Professor Suniti Kumnr Chatterji read n pnpor on tin's point At 
a mectinp of the Silbitvn Pari?at, Sep. 24, 1!)16, wliicli is published 
in the Patrika of the same Society, (1322, vol. 23, p. 107). 


IV. (pp. 77-130). Mani xottio Niranzan, Axtliar 
choudo bhed ebong tahandiii^uer oitlio. 
(Tlie Creed and Articles of Faith and 
explanation thereof). 
V. (pp. 1.37-24'1). Dos Agi^uia, ebong tahan- 
diguer ortho. (Ten Commandments and 
explanation thereof). 
\ I. (pp. "i^S-^T^). Pans Agguia, ebong tahan- 
diguer ortho. (Five Commandments of 
the Church and exi)lanation thereof). 
\ n. (i)p. :273-:31'3). Xat Sacrament os, ebong 
tahandiguer ortho. (Seven Sacraments and 
explanation thereof). 
Pul/ii 11. (pp. -'i 11-380) Poron xaxtro xocol, ar ze 
iichit zanite xorgue zaibar. (Ex})lanation of the whole 
diictrine and what a Chiistian must know). 

Tazel L (i)p. 314-'3ot)). Axthar bhed bichar yotto 
coria xitjiiibar xitjliaibar upae taribar. 
(Mysteries of the Faith). 
IL (i)p. 35G-.'580). Poron Xaxtro nirala. (Prayers 
of the doctrine).^ 

There are two songs in Putlii II : one at p. 3 IS headed 
"Cantiga sobre os mysterios de fe: orthobhedcr dhormo 
"•uit" (Song on the mysteries of Faith), and the other at 
p. 353 headed "Cantiga Ao Menino Jesus rccem nacido : 
Baloq Jesuzer guit zormo xttane xoia" (Song on infant 
Jesus newly born). 

The book may be interesting as an early explanation 
of the Roman Catholic doctrine but its chief value, to 

' The copy, as we have it, is probably incomplete : for p. 3S0 is not 
apparently tbe end of the book and sonic jwges .seem to liavc been lost 
there-ufler. 'i'lio coj^y also wants tlu< title-i)age, pp. 33-18, l.")0-lo8, 
321-330. ]>!). 371-372 incl. and all after p. 3S0. 


an historian of Hoiiijali litnatun', lius in its bi-ini; the 
first iinportaut ami sustain-nl Ben<ifali coni[)Osition by a 
EuroiK'an author.' It gives us the earliest specimen of 
"Missionary Bengali", as it had existed about a century and 
a half before Carey, Marshman and their colleagues took 
the tie Id ; and its Bengali is certainly more homely and 
well-written than the stiff and groping language of 
Carey's D/iarniajjuala/c. One is tempted to (juote speci- 
mens at, greater length from this interesting work but 
space forbids quotation of more than one or two illustiative 
extracts. J 

' Father Gut'rin, who brought out an edition of this work from 
Chandan-nagar in 183G, states in the Latin preface to tliat edition that 
the Portuguese portion only was written by Manoel, while the Bengali 
portion was the worli of some Bengali Christian at Bhawal. Mut of 
this there is no evidence. Father Gut'rin's edition, a copy of which 
was lent to me bv Father L. Wauters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, 
Uhaimatala, Calcutta, is interesting, though its Bengali is certainly 
not so remarkable. It is published in Bengali characters and named 
^f fil "ttC3il ■SJ'f'I^f (not CSif). It ia entirely re-written and remodelled 
and there is a Latin i>reface, Nearly two-thirds of the original is ex^ 
punged as being apocryphal and objectionable while three new dialogues 
are added, also a list of solar and lunar eclipses calculated for Bengal 
from XHXCy to l(K)4. The scope and contents of the work will be sufficiently 
explained by its title : Catechisme suivi , de trois dialogues et do la 
lirite des Eclipses de soleil et de luue calcaleea pour la Bangale a 
partir do 183U juscju'en l'jU-1 iuclusivcment. Nouvelle edition, revue et 
corri,'ee. f ItiJ "tP: 3i1 ^'fc^t "J^J^ 'Itil 513^ 3t^«l T\^H Jlf?^ i8. 

nt-tft f^flinra i\^\ TSf fr*t mn%^ ^rffT ?t^ I T\^ i»r-3i It is 

interesting to note that Father Gurrin himself was an assiduoan student 
of Astronomy and published after his return to England a work on 
Indian Astronomy in 18-17. 

' For other specimens, see my paper in the Uniig'njn ^ahitya 
l'ari';at Patrthl. ( 1323, vol. 23, p. ITJt)- 



Hail Mart/. 

Piouain -Maria / Crepae pninit ; / Tomate raliuciir 

assen : / Dhormi tomi / Xocol xtrir 

Speciiiu'iis of iis loquei' nioidh / Dhormo plio / Tomar 

liinguage and styl(>. 

udore / Jesus. / Xidlia ^Nliuia / 
Poromexorcr Mata / Xadlio amora papir oaron / Eqlioue, 
ar / Amardiuner mirtur cale. / Amen Jesus. 

The second extract is a storv illustratiiiii: the efficacy 
of the Cross in wardin*^ off the powers of evil : 

Gi.rn: Boro Axehorzio eotha cohila: emot hre : ar ooho ; 
xidhi crux corile Bhuter cumoti ni dur zae ? 

X/'rio. Hoe : bhuter cumoti dur zae, ebong Bhule o 
polae. Ehi xonar proman xono. 

Eq rahoal merir assilo ; taiiare Bhute bazi dia cohilo : tui 
zodi aniar nojihor hoite chahix, ami tore cneq dhan dilam : 
Kacolae cohilo; bhaln, tomar dax lioibo tomi amave dhon 
diljTi. Bhute cohilo. tabe amar t^i^olam hoile : tor uohit 
nolle dhormo <]^i)are zaite; ebons^ xidhi Crux ar codaehitio 
coribi na, emot zc core xe luiar cjolam ; ehi j;miir 
a<;<iuia, taha palon coribi ; emot zodi na corix, tcmare 
boutthbotth tarona dibam. Kaqlmale cohilo : zalia a2:2:iiia 
coro, taha coribo ; zodi emot na cori, tomar ze iccha, 
xc'i hoibeof. 

Oneq din obhai^uia Kaqiioale bhuter xacri corilo; tahar 
por t'(\ din munixio bol coria reqhohupie dhoria dhormo 
tijhore loi:t iJiielo. Dhormo fjhore eij Padri assilen, xei 
boro xadhu : tiiii loq xocolere cohili n : Tomara ratjlioaler 
upore xidhi Ciux cord. Emot loq xocole corilo Toqhon 
bluite boro cord coiia raqhoalera onC(| tarona dite 
la;i^uilo. Eha dt qhia Padre raqhoahjue dliorilen, bhuiere 
tarona dilc mana corilen. Tobe Bhute aro bex cord 
coria Padrire eohild : Ehi munixid amar dax, amar 
ajjijnia bhMn<^uilo, tahare xaxtti dibar uchit : tahare 


I'lia tli'O : iia : toniare o xaxtti dibtini. Piulii r-oliilfii : taliarc 
»'ria (libo na : auKirc zalia corite parix, taliii coin. 'J\)l»e 
bliute eniot eiimontro oorilo, ze Pa<liii- iiiii«jli ])ooa hcilo. 
I'Jia (leijlii I 1(M| xocolc ^liorf ])(>l;na i»"iie!o. 

Toijhoii Padri xidhi finix coiilen : choiii;' imuili xidlia 
lioilo. Tahai- par ar Crux corileii ra(|li(>aler upore ; el)onij: 
(.rux eoria Blinte polaia ^-iielo. l{a(|hoalo o ealax lioilo, 
ealax hoia faliar xoool oporad contVssor oorilo ; Nirniol 
dhormo o bliocfl rupi^ loilo, ohoiiii' pnnorhar pailo, 7.0 crepa 
haraiassilo pap caria. 

The secoinl important work of Manoel da Assumprao 
which deserves mention as beini)^ perhaps the first fjrammar 

and diotionary in tlie Beni;ab' lan2;ua«re 

i octtbiilni'iii cm • i'ti i i' i / ' ti' 

,,. „ j; D , IS entitled f ocihntdno em Idiomu 

gttez : first Bengali HnninUn i' Portugiw: ' t/ ir>//i\/.i eui 
grammar and liiction- i i- i i 

)uv, iTw. ihi .V partes, pnbhshed at Tjislion in 

17-I'"). This book is not easily avail- 
able here but it is mentioned in the Cataloijne of the 
British Musfum, and (Jrierson, in his Liiijfuixtic Siirrej/ - 
has <ifiv»'n a sliort account of this notable work. In tjir 
first furtv pai;es ol" the I'iw.ilinfiirlo, is t>iven a compendium 
of Ueiii^ali «xramnnr : the -e-t of the hook bein<;; divided 
into two pa'ts, vi/.., vocabulary, Hen*;aIi-l'ortnmiese, pp. 
l7-'J()t) and l*ortii'j:ne«e-Beni;>ili, ])p. 307-577. Fiikc ih." 
last mentioned work, CnlheciHiiio, it is" written throiio-hout 
in Uomau character, the wonlb a<xain beinu: spelt a(Coi(liu'.4 
to the rules ol" l^>rtu^ntse pronunciation 

' The full title ia this : Vocal»nlari<» em Idioma Bcn^alin t> 
PortiiiTHoz, tlividirlo em iliiU" purtts, (li>ilii'ailo an Kxcellent e Kover 
t»oiihor I). V. Mitfuol de Tavora, Arcebiapo d' Kvora do Coiictdlio de 
sua Maifcatndo Foy dolii,'0»oin do Pndre Fr. Manoul dn AsHinnpavam 
Koligios'> KremitH do Si»nt«» AuoHtinliu dik C'oii^rrrKa^nu da India 
Oiiontal, l.ish a, \lVi. A facsimiio of tliis titlo pa^'e i« ffivon in 
Haniraia Silmnyik Siihitya by Kedari.ilth Mujumdar, vol. i. 1!»17 p. 17. 

' vol. V. pt i. p. 23 


Besides these two ori<2jinal works, a third is also said 
to be associated with the name of ^Nlanoel. The existence 
of this book was first made known by Father Thirso 
Lopes of Valladolid, S])ain, in his note contributed to 

Father Hosten's pa))er in the Bengal 

Don Antonio's Catc. p^^^f ^^^^^^f p^.^^^^^f (..p] j,. f. i, p. 41). 
chitm in Bengali, viA.i ^ i ' i / 

Tho note runs thus : " A Catechism 
of the Christian Doctrine in the form of a dialogue. It 
was printed in 8vo. at Lisbon in 1743 by Francisco da 
Silva. The contents are : A discussion about the Law 
between a Christian Catholic Roman, and a Bramene or 
Master of the Gentoos. It shows in the BeuG^alla tonpjue 
the falsity of the Gentoo sect and the infallible truth of 
our holy Roman Catholic faith, in which alone is the way 
of salvation and the knowledo^e of God's true Law. 
Composed by the son of the King of Busna, Don Antonio,' 
that great Christian Catechist, who converted so many 
Gentoos, it was translated into Portuguese by Father 
Frey Manoel da Assump(^a6, a native of the city of Evora, 
and a member of the Indian Congregation of the Hermits 
of St. Augustine, actually Rector of the Bengalla Mission, 
his object being to facilitate to the Missionaries their dis- 
cussions in the said tongue with tiic Bramenes and 
Gentoos. It is a dialogue between the Roman Catholic 
and the Gentoo Bramene. Written in two columns, 
Bengala and Portuguese." 

* Hosten, in the Bengal Paxf and Present, loc. cit., gives an account 
of this semi-legendary figure from O ChroniMn de Tiasunry, vol. ii. 
1867, lip. 57-58. In the year 1663. a son of the King of Bii.^n.i was 
taken prisoner by the Mogt5s and lod to Arracad, when one of the 
Fathers, Manoel do Rozario, ransomed him and converted hini to 
Catholic Christianity. .After his conversion, he was called Don Antonio 
de llozario, after St. Anthony who is said to have appeared to him 
in a dream. 


From the ahove aciponnt, if will be seen that altlion<»li 
there is evidence enouji-h to show that the Roman Catholie 
missionaries at ont' timf were verv aftive in this eonntrv, 
cpt-eially in Ea'^tern Ben<i^al, yet nut mm-h trar-p is loft of 
tlieir (lireet or indirect connexion with tlu' lan<i;naq;e or 
literature of this country. Indeed, before Carey, mission- 
aries infinin'4' themselves, as they did. exehisively to their 
proselytisini; work never seriously took either to edneating^ 
the people of this country or writincj in their lano^naije. 

There was as yet no Protestant 
Protestant Mission- -tr- • < -n i rni -, n 

arios before Carey. Mission to Benrral. The only well- 

known missionary, before Carev, who 
visited this country was Kiernander, of whom we shall 
have occasion to speak later on ; h'\\ Kiernander, himself 
ifjjnorant of the lan<j:uafTje, is in no way connected with oui' 

present enquiry. Of Kiernander'sasso- 
Rento d? Rilveatre, ciates, however, there was one Rento de 


and Book of Common Silvcstre {ttluta (le Souza), who seems 

Praver, in Bonprali. , • ,, ?• /^ .l i • 

to nave written a nenoah ( ateehisin 

and a Book of Common Pr.iyer in BeiiL^ili. Rento is said 
to have been born in Goa about 17"28' of European paren- 
taijje and his sojourn in Renoral extended from thirteen - 
to fifteen' yevrs spent mostly at Calcutta and Bandel. 
He was for manv years an An«;ustiiiian friar l)Ut he 
abjureil the I'ope before Kiernander on Fi'bruarv 7, 
17nii,' whereupon he was apo^inted Catechist of tin- 
Mission at t'iO a year an<l is reputed to hive lifcn ;i 

' Carey, Oriental Christian Biography, Gal. 1R.")0. vol. ii, p. 1S2. 

' Hyde, Parnchini AnnnU of Bfnjnl Cal. 1001. p. 155. 

• Carey, op. cit. p. 182. 

* Carey, op. cit. gives different dnt«'s : at p. 182, vol. ii, the date 
•i'lvpu is July. 170'*: while in the game volume nt p 2fY), tlie date is 
nOS. The story of his public abjnriration of Roman Catholic faith is 
jfiven in vol ii. at p. 182. 


zealous preacher in Portiio-nese and to have translated 
laru-e portions of the Hook of Common Prayer and the 
Catecliism into Bengali, entitled probihly Pra'fiiiolfara- 
iiicifa and PriiiiJiauumula. His books are said to have been 
published by the Society for the promotion of Christian 
Kno.vledi;'i' and i)riiited in London. B<'nto knew Frenel), 
PortiifTiiese, Beni>-aH, and Hindnstliaiii. He probnbly 
died in 178(i at the aG:e of fifty eiuht. Th-' date of publi- 
cation of his books is unknown. Xao-endra Nath Basu 
•lives ]7(io a* the d ite of jiublicition of Prn'Hnoflaramala ; - 
but this seems to be hardly .-•orreet, for Beuto must 
have composed this work, after he wos appointed Cate- 
chist, i.e. after 17()() (aceordincj to Hyde) or af<-er 1708-6P 
(aecordin^• to CareyV 

So far as we can trace, these are the earliest names on 
the list of foreii'^'n benefactors to the ^'ernacnlar Literature 
of Ben<2:al. But we do not find any serious and definitely 
important achievement in the field, until we come to the 
illustrious name of Nathaniel Brasscy Halhed.-' 

Since !77r2 the East India (Company had actually 
taken upun itself the entire responsibilities of administra- 
tion ; and this made it almost a necessity for its civil 
servants to study the- vernacular of the country which they 
had no>v lieu^un to orovern.^ About this time, Halhed, 

' For t'lirtlier details, see? my paper in tlic Prnfibhu (Dacca). Mil<>;li, 
1322 B..S. l{eferencos to Boiuo will be fiinn(i in Carnc. Lircs of 
Eminent Mi-inionnries (London, 1S33) in tlie article on Kicrnander ; also 
see Jnhn Zachniiah Kieniander (Hap. Miss. Prc\sa, Cal. 1S77)- 

- Riifacoia. Art.. Heneali Lantruac-e and Literature. 

^ The name is not Nathaniel Prassy Halhed, as piven in Dinesh 
Chandra Sen. Hi.-<tory of B<ingnli Langnnge and Liternture, Calciitfci. 
IIMI, ])p. 15, 84.'<, R4-0. 

' See the elaborate ari^iiments set forth in the Preface (p. i-xxv) 
to Halhod's Grammar, in favonr of the study of the Henerali lancrnajre 
by Europeans See also Introduction to Forster's Vncabulartj. 

EAULlKSr i:i lUJl'KAN WKllKRS 7'J 

ail able scholar, who linl aU'oady acliii'Veil sonic litciary 

rcimtatioii and had hefii a irieiid ol 

Nttiiuniel B.:i3dey Slicridan's, ' came o\U to Ik'n-ral as 
11 illi -.l (I7.->1-1830). ... 7 . 

a civilian and applied himsidf \vi(h 

L^i-cit assi luity lo t!»e sUi ly of tlu^ licnL»'ali langua^o. 

lie is said t) have attain;! so much proKcicncy in the 

lans^iM^i-', bjlh in its eollorjuial and literary asjiects, that 

he had ha -n ktio vii t;) disjjfuise hiin-^idf in native dress 

and pa-s as a Bunj^jili in an assenil)ly of iicni^aiis.- 

Nathaniel Brass 'V Hilhcl wis horn on May I't, 17.')!. 

at Westmi ister. His father, William llalhed, descciidt-d 

from an old Oxfordshire family, wis for eiii^hteen years a 

Director of the Hank of England. Vonn*:^ Halhed was 

' ■■ We also learn that Nntiianiel Brassey llalhed Ksq. eitlior 
liiinseif or in collaboration witli Itiiliaril lUinsloy Slu'ridaii liaiishittMl 
tho Kpistlos of Aristifnetti.s into Kntjlish inotrc in 1771 " {(irntlemiin'K 
.\[iguzine, Ix.xxii. pt. 2. 1S12 p. 132) 

- Rev. Janie.s Lonij, .-l l)e^criptivc Untiiloyiti: nf llrn.jiih li niKs, ISo.j, 
p. 2i); Cidciitta Review, 1.S50, p. I'.il: Hood Old Dnijn of Hmi'ble Coiniuinii 
vol. i, p. 235. But tliis story of Ilallied's jjroliciency in Bengali soonis 
to b>> (lonbtfnl : in the Friend of India (Aiij;. 1H3.S) wo read this, not 
of him, bnt of his nephew Nathaniel John Ilalhed (17H7-IH3S), a Judge 
of the Dewani ' Adalat. John Halhed, we are informed, had such 
command over the lini^ua're tliat he is said to li.ave joined a j'tti-a party 
at Burdwan and passed there for a Uen.rali. See also II G. Sanyal, 
ll'jminiscjiicen and Anerdoteii, vol. ii, p. J). John Halhed, in Sandal's 
work as well as in the Bengal Obititury (p. '2(H) i.i said to have been 
a son of the llidhed, wliieh is clearly a nii.stake : for, X. B, 
Il.'ilhi-d the ^'rammarian who married (before 17H4) Helemi Rebaut, 
a daughter of 'he Dutch (Jovernor of Chinsurii, divd witliuiit any issue. 
See Impey's Memoirs by his son. p. 3(j() footnot". Also Di'fionnry 
o/ Nationnl Bioijr.iphy, .Xrt. Il.ilhed. That Halhed possessed a high 
degree of proficiency in thr> lanirnuge and brought the Hcientific study 
of R'^ngali within easy reach is undoubted and justifies Golebrooke's 
hiiin o\i\ozy (Asintir Re<enrrhei>, vol vii, l7-*n, p, 221'): and to this is 
due the attribution r)f all sorts of apocryphal stories to his credit. For 
Nathaniel John Halhed, see Raniehunder Doss, Oenerai litginter of Hon. 
f. /. Co.'s Civil Servant" on the Benjal Entablighinent. Cal. 1844, p. 155. 


educated at Harrow under Suiniici-, and tlicMo Ix'^an his 
friendship with Richard Brinsley Sheridan, in conjunction 
with wlioni lie subsequently i)rt)duced a verse-translation of 
Aristaenetus.' In 17(58 he passed on to Christ Church, 
Oxford- wiiere he made ihe acquaintance of Wilhani 
(afterwards Sir William) Jones, also a Harrow boy, who led 
him to study some of the OritMital lansj-uaijes. Ilavinor 
been jilted by Miss Linley in favoui of Sheridan, he left 
Euii^Iand, havin*^ obtained a writership in the E. \. Com- 
pany's Service. In India he attracted the notice of 
Warren Hastings at whose suggestion he translated what is 
known as the Gentoo Code between K74-G (First Edition 
1776; Second Edition 1777). He returned to England in 
1785 and the subsequent historv of his life Iihs little 
attraction for us. He was returned to Parliament in 
1791 for Symington, Hampshire, whieh he represented till 
179.J. From tliis time he became associated wiili the 
teachings of the fanatic prophet Richard Brothers, attracted 
possibly by their resemblance to oriental mysticism with 
which he was familiar. In 1809 .he obtained an appoint- 
ment in the East India House. He died in London, 
February 18, 1830, and was buried at Petersham, Surrey. •• 

' See GenHeman'f> Magazine, 1812. pt. 2. p. i;52 ; al»o Literanj 
Anecdote" of the lSt}i Ce»titr\i, p. ]2-i-.'5. 

■■' Ahiinui (Jjdiitensrs ; .Matiic. July lo, 1768, aged 17. 

^ For further particulars, see Asiatic Jouriial, 1836, pp. H')')-7l ; TIte 
World, June 18, 1790; Teignmouth, Memoirs of Sir Williim Jones, 
ISOt, j)p. 7.3, 431 find other references; GcDtlewdii's Mayuziue, 1830 
(pt. i, i)p. 471-3), 1808 (pt. ii, p. 922), 1812 (p. 132); Annual Register; 
Moore, Memoirs of Sheridmi, 1825; Impey's Memoirs hy liis son, 
pp. 35."i et .seq ; AHiboni', Dictionary of Britisli and American Authors. 
1895, vol. i ; Biogiaphical Dictionary of Liriny Authors, 1810 ; Dictionary 
of Xationnl Hiinjiaphy (in two last mentioned works a list of iladied's 
works is given) ; Nicliols, Literary Anecdotes, vol. ii, p. 431. 


In 1778* Ilalhed compiled ami printed in Eiii^lisli a 

Grammar of the Bengitl Ijongnnge,^ 

f, e ,v -D one of the earliest and for some time 

Ommmnr of the Bin- 

gal Language, 1778. the best introduction to the sc.entific 

study of the liin»>uage.^ At 

time we had no printiniif press possessinp: a set of Benj^ali 

punches, and the art of priritin;jj unknown, we had hardly 

a:iy printed literaturt' before this 

History of its printirp j^te. The historv of the priutintr of 
by Sir Charles Wilkiiis. . ' . 

this work, which was done in a press 

ai " Hoogly in Bengal" marks an era in the 
historv of Bengali literature. It is chiefly to the 
exertions of the ever memorable Caxton of Bengal, 
Charles (afterwards Sir Charles) Wilkins, a Beniial 
Civilian and oriental scholar, that we are indebted for 
the beautiful types which he had himself prepared and in 
which art he had instructed the Bengali mechanics, thus in- 
troducing, as he did, the art of printing into this country. 
It is impossible to exaggerate the services thus rendered 
by this philanthropic Englishman, not only to the cause 
of vernactdar literature but also to the general culture of 

' The date is not 1784 as given in the Bengal Obituary, p. 337 
Smith, Life of Carey, repeats tho mistake (Sew Eil. 1912, p. 159). 

• A Gram-mr of the Bengal L'lnguige by Nntl.finiel BrMssoy 
Haihod. Printed nt Hoofrly in Benpnl. MDCCLXXVIII (177S). 
Tile book is very scarce but copies \nny be fonnd in the Cnlcntta 
Imperial Library, Baii).'iya 84hitya I'ari^nt Libinry ami SrirAmpiir 
Cullege Library. 

* The first Bengali grammar and dictionary, so far as it can be 
traced, was, as we have seen, in Portnpuese. A curions request 
app->ars in tho Cil''ntta (Imetle, .\pril 2.3, 17S9, beseeching "any 
ppiitlemaii" to undertake for public benefit tho composition of a 
Bengali Oramrn'ir (Seton-Karr, Sclectionn from C-l. Onzette, ii. 45)7) 
It seems that liy that time Halhed's Grammar had alreidy become 
■carce and the necessity for a. fresh grammar was keenly felt. 



the people, for it is undoubted tliat without this useful 
art of printiuo- the oeneral education of the people under 
modern conditions is almost impossible. 

Charles AVilkins was born at Frome, Somerset, in ITHO, 

son of ^Vaker Wiikins of that tuwn. 

s:.. rhnrles AVilkins. He Came to n.n^^l in 17 70 in the 

1750-1836. service of the East India Ccmpitny 

as a writer and became superintendent 
of the Company's Factories at Maldah. "About 17 78", he 
wr.tes lii^ "curiosity was excited by the example of his 
friend Halhed" to commence the study of Sanscrit and 
Persian ; the vernaculars he had previously studied. He 
left India f<n- health in 1 786 and re-entered the service 
of the Company in 1 800 as Librarian and Custodian 
of Oriental Manuscripts, taken at the Fall of 
Seringapatam and elsewhere. He was also attached to 
the Haileybury Colleg-e from its foundation in IS05. 
While in Imlia he co-operated with Sir William Jones in 
the foundation of the Asiatic Society of Bengal nnd was 
a valuable contributor to the earlier volumes of the 
Asiatic Researches. He was an F. R. S. (1788); a 
D. C. L. of Oxford (1805) ; an Associate of the Institute 
of France ; and the Royal Society of Literature awarded 
him its medal as "princeps litteraturae Sanscritae". He 
was knighted in 1833. He died in London, May L3, 
1836, and Avas interred at the Chapel in Portland town.* 

' For a lisl of liis oi-iontnl works and other particulars, see 
ABiatic Journal, 1830, pp. 165 71 ; Genllemaris Magazine, 1836 (pt. ii, 
pp. 67-8), 1808 (pt. ii, p. 922); Annual Register for 1836; Alvmni 
Oxoniense.^. 1888 ; Biographical Dictionanj of Living Authors, 1816 ; 
Dictionary of yatwnal Biography; Centenary Volumes ■ of the Asiatic 
Society of Bengal ; Letter.- in the Journal of American Oriental Society, 
1880, vol x; Preface to Sir William Jones's Cakuutala and to Wiikins' 
Sanscrit Grammar ; Notice of the Life of H. T. Colehrvolie, by his son. p. 7 : 
Wiikins' translation of the Bhagabadgita ^^SS) with an introductory 


To siieh a jj^reat scholar, Beiijiul owes Ihe establit^hinent 
of the first vernacular printiiiijf press.* 

The Prelnee to Ilalheil's Grammor si-ts forth some in- 
teresting; details as to the (litlieiiltie.s which Wilkin-; 

had to overcome and as to huw with 
Extract from tho . 

Prefnce to HailH-d'a patient preseveiiinee he ultimately siic- 
»hodimoultie8ofpri,:t: ^^eded. "Public euiK.sity it says 
""-'• ■' n)U-!t he stron<i;ly excitcil by the 

beautiful characters which arc displayed in the followins^ 
work ; and althouijh iny attempt may be deemed incom- 
plete or unworthy I'f notice, the book itself will always 
bear an intrinsic value from its containinu^ as extra- 
ordinaiy an instance of machanic abilities as has perhaps 
ever appeared. That the Bengal letter is very difiicult 
to be imitated in steel will be readily allowed by any 
person who shall examine the intricacies of the strokes, 
the unequal len^jth and size of the characters, and the 
variety of their positions and combinations. It was 
no easy task to procure a writer accurate enoui;!! to 
prepare an alpha liet of similar and proportionate body 
throuii:h;)ut, and with tint symmetrical exactness which 
is necessary to the regularity and neatness of a foimt. 
Mr. Bolts (who is su|iposed to be well-versed in this 
lanjijua-^e) attempted to fabricate a set of types for it 
with thi' assistance of the ablest artist in London. But 
as he has e<;re;:jiously failed in exeeutiiif; even the 
easiest pirt, or the prinnrv alphiibet, of which he has 
published a specimen, tl.erc is no reason to .suppose that 

letter by Wfti ren IlnstiiiKs. Seo Cal. Rev. vol. iii. 234;, 
Selectivnn from the Calcutta Gazette, i. 130. 

' About the lirst introtluction of printinir in tho Knst, see 
Ur. Giimett's pnper rend before the Second Inferniitionjil Libmry 
Conference (rrfln*rtrtion« nwd Proceedings of the Hfcotid International 
L ihrary Conference held in London. 1897, London, 1898.) 


his project, when completed, would have advanced 
b -vond the u«>nnal state of imperfection to which new 
inventions are constanily exposal. Tiie alvice and even 
the solicitation of the Governor-General prevailed upon 
upon Mr. "Wilkms, a j^entleman wlio lias been some 
years in the India Company's Civil Service in Ben^nl, 
to undertake a set of lienii;ali types. He did ami his 
success has exceeded every expectation. In a country 
so remote from European artists, he has been obli<^ed 
to charge himself with all the various occupations of 
the Metallurgist, the Engraver, the Founder, and the 
Printer. To the merit of invention he was compelled 
to add the application of personal labour. With a rapi- 
dity unknown in Europe, he surmounted all obstacles 
which necessarily clog the first rudiments of a difficult 
art as well as the disadvantages of solitary experiment ; 
and has thus singly on the first effort exhibited his 
work in a state of perfection wliich in every part of the 
world has appeared to require the united improvements 
of different projectors and the gradual jjolish of succes- 
sive ages."* 

It must be remembered that these labours of "Wilkins 
did not eud merely in the temporary and isolated bene- 
fit of printing a grammar but had 
Tlie Bienificanco and p , . i . • 

importance of Wilkins' tar deeper and more wide-reaclimg 

Talure." ^^"'^"'' '"'" ^^''^^^ fo^' ^^'''ll^ins had taken care that 

his work shoidd produce lasting 
results. He had taught the art with great care to his 
Bengali assistant, one Panchilnan, a blacksmith by casre, 

' Preface pp. ixiii-iv. See also the letter of Georfre Perrv 
to Mr. Nicola, the printer, dated Calcutta. October I 1783, qnotod in 
tlie Bionmphicnl TUctimwry of Living Authom, 1810. p. .SS.'i. This prepg 
cnnnot be traced but Marsbrnan (flistory of Srrnmpore Migsioti. vol. i) 
sajs that it was set ap by one Mr. Andrews, a bookseller. 


whom l.ttfi- on ))roviilL'nce bnaii^hf to SnrriniiHir in soar* h 
of work, just at tlie time wlion Carey and liis collea- 
gues were in dos|.air for a fount of Sanscrit and verna- 
cular t\ pes. Panchuna:) antl his associates, to whom 
he liad Colli nuinicateil liis art, succeciled in course of time 
in ^omesiicaiini;- it in Bengal.' 

llcilhed's (jiamiiidr jjossesses a peculiar interest for us 
as being one of tlie earlit-st efforts 

Halhcd'8 Gnimmnr; t^, g,„^^^. ^\^^. language in a seieiii iHc 
ita lutoiest and vuluo. ' 

way. llalhed himself is perfectly 

conscious of the dilficulties of such a study and says in 

the Preface (p. xix) " The path which I have attempted 

to clear was never before trodden. It was nece.^SHry 

that 1 should make my own choice of the course 

to be pursued and of the landmarks to be set U|) for 

the izuidance of future travellers".- Hut barring this 

anticpiariaii interest, it can hardly bo expeeted to possess 

any other value to us. It was obviously written for 

the benelit of the Europeans who WMuttd to study the 

foreitrn verruicidar ; ^ and as such it was bound to 

be written entirely from their standpoint. Of course it 

is well to study the spirit with which foieiiiiiers 

' See Mcnxnir Ilchitwe to the the Tranntation of the Snrred Scrip, 
(urea into the Lnmnages of the East at Serampore by J. Maishuiuu, 18i6; 
alsu Marshmuii, Ui:it. oj Serampore ilimiion, vol. i. 

* Tlie carious motto pn-fixcd to tlie book says : 

-sj'jfsi^^a f <.^J!i ^c^ T5»^: ^ : ^«i; n 

Cnrer ni knoTvle'ifTfi f<> Inivo dorivrd niiu-ii lnl|i in %vritinjr liiri 
Bcnjt/i «Jn»Fi»ii »r ( jSOl ) fio-n llnlhed's work ; him- I'rofire to (^ney't 
Qrammir (1st Kd. 18 M ) ; see hIso E. Carey, Life of Carey, p. 247. 

• Oil ttie titlc-pat'e w<' r< nd : 


approach our language, but as a pioneer work and as 
one intendi^l for mere beginners, uninitiated into the 
language, its value is greatly diminis-hed. Even a 
cursory glance at the contents will show that the 
arrangement and division of the subject-matter is made 
chiefly on the plan of En^-lish grammars, beginning 
with the Elements (Chap. I), proceeding with Substan- 
tives (Chap. II), Pronouns (Chap. Ill), Verbs (Chap. IV), 
Words denoting Attributes and Relations (Chap. V), 
Numerals (Chap. VI) and ending with a brief dit.cus- 
sion of Syntax (Chap. VII), Orthography and Ver- 
sification (Cliap. VIII).' The rules laid down are 
more or less general and elementary ; but some attempt 
is made to arrive at broad underlying principles, al- 
Ihou'^h in a somewhat tentative and impressionist 
fashion. The arrangement is as co r.preheusive as possi- 
ble but the author is scrupulously minute in his insertion 
of examples to every rule and is rather prolix in his 
observations upon the general grammar. One merit of 
tlie b )(>k consists, however, in the fact that Halhed 
was fullv alive to the intimate relation of Bengali to 
Smscrit, ''of which languige" he says "I hive tiiought 
necessary to include within my d^^sign such of the 
orammatied principles as mi^ht throw a direct or even 

a C)ll.iteral liglit on those of the B.-ngalese I 

wished to obviate the recurrence of such erroenous 
opi'iions as may have b:'en fonurd by t'»e few Eur.)- 
peans who have hitlierto stulied the B.,'ngalese ; none 

' l!ut it is curious to note that ^ is included in the list of 
consonants. The orthosfrnphy sefms to have been yot unsettled and 
ttio border line between colloquial and literary la pruatre seems to 
have been crossed very often, possibly owinp to the difficulty of a 
fore gner, however studious, in enteiing into the genius of an alien 


(>r them liavo (raocl its (•oiiii('ctii)ns will) Sanscrit, and 
therefore I coiu-Uule their systems imperfect" (Preface, 
|). xi\ et seq.). Of course adhi-rence to Sanscrit is in- 
(lisp^Misable in writini^ a lionLjah' «4ranimar hut llalhtd's 
work more or less i)resents Bonijali as derived exidusivrly 
fr.)ui its parent, S.mserit. He remarks at some leni^ih 
on th • fxceedinq-lv i-oirunt state of thi> dialect of the 
time' and says that " a grammar of the pure Ben- 
|j;il diale!t cannot be expected to convey a ihoioutj;h 
idei of the modern jargon of the kingdom. Tlie 
many political revolutions it has sustained have <;TPa'ly 
impaired tlie simplicity of the langiiaiic, and a long 
communieation with the men of different religions, 
Countries and manners, has rendered foreign words iu 
some degree familiar to a Bengal ear. The Mahome- 
tans have for the most pait introduced such terms as 
relate to the functions of their own religion or the 
exercise of their own laws an<l government ; the Por- 
tugese have supplied them with appellation of some 
Europem arts and inventions ; and in the environs of 
such foreign colony the idioms of the native Hengalese 
is tinctured with that of the strangers who have settled 
there, l^pon the same principle since the influence of the 
British nation has superseded that of its former conquerors, 
many terms of British derivation have been naturalised into 
the Bengal vocabulary." 

It cannot be doubted for a moment that the book 
holds a high place as one of the earliest of a series of 

' There will be found a t-urions appeiidix to tliia book con- 
taiding a petition replt'tc with foreign expre.^sionp, showinp how 
far modern Benffali had been forced to debase the purity of it.s 
dialect by the necessity of atldresainj? itself to the Mohammedan 
ruler*. In the Preface to his Vocnbulnrij. Forster similarly speaks 
of studiously avoiding "Persian or Aral>ick pedantigniB-" 


aUempfs, valuable even to the pn-pent day, to stu'ly the 
vernacular sc'i.niifically, but if we leave aside this aiitii^ua- 
riati an.l st-ientifie interest, it can hardly be ex) ected to 
come within liler.inre proper. To the historian of iiteia- 
t re, how ver, it is vtlnable, as most of these pion< er wo'ks 
rrj, fo" affordinpj one of the earliest links in (he revivtd 
study of the hui^u'iire itself. 

AVe piss over other specimens of early piintincr whi" h 

OtWr popcimens of the cxiiTt-ncies of nduiinistrntivu 
early jrintiiiK. chanor«s and t e esbddi^hment of the 

impev CodeinRen- Supreme Coiirt ( 1 7 74) brouirht into 

giili by J. Duncan. '■ ^ ^ 

,,. ^ , . existence. Amonir these a'e to be 

B neali by II. P. found the Impey Code in BtnijMli,' 

which was translated hy Jonnihan 

Duncan, afterwards Governor of liombay, and printed at 

the"Companv's Pre«s" in 1785, and the fumons Cornw all's 

Code of 171»3 - which was translat d by II. P. Forster, 

"a merchant on the Benijal Estiblishment ", of whom we 

shill have occasion to speak hereafter. It was likewise 

printed at the Government Press but from an improved 

fount. ^ We read of two other early publications in the 

Catalogue of Benfjali "Works in the British Museum * 

' Regulatiovfi for the Administrntion of Juftice. iv the Cour' rf tht 
DfM'nrtre Adnu^nt, pni!sed in Cnuucil, the 5th July, 17S5. iriih a Be7ii,ali 
Travs'ntion l)v Jonathan Duncan, Calcutta, 1785. pp. 215, 31. 

• Thp titlo-paee pays: ^^f? ^'t^ ^«f5 C^^ltilcT TTS^f-U?^ T'^ 
C^W^Ccni ios'a Pt^?! lt'<^ 'SiTa I ^t?1 ^="r^ ?fl43 C^^fT??! 
^t715i:^5 ^0 C^)^.7,U^ 'SitSSR* ^JtfTs IK^\ i***^ I Second 
Edirion in 1820. 

' " It is to tlii.s f(.nnt, Cr\roy alludes, and it contirurd to be 
the standard of typoL'rapby till it wns superseded bj the ppialler and 
iif*;te- foint at Rerampore " Marslnnan, Life and Times of Cany, Marsh- 
man nnd Wnrd. 1 R.")^, vol. i.. p. 71- 

♦ Blurahardt, Catalogue of Bengali Books in the British Museum, p. 8. 


viz., ((/) Bengal translation (by N. B. Edmonstone) of 
Regulations, etc., by Regulations for the administration 
N. B. Edmonstone. of Justice in the Fouzdarv Criminal 

Courts in Bengal, Bei)ar and Orissa, passed by the Governor- 
(jeneral in Council on the 3rd December, 1 790, Calcutta, 
1791; (/y) Bengal Translation (by X. B. Edmonstone) 
of the Regulations for the guidance of the Magistrates 
passed by the Governor-General in Council in the Revenue 
Department on the ISth May, 1792, with supplementary 
enactments, Calcutta, 179.2. 

The next important work in our survey is Forster'.s 
Forster's Vocahuianj, Joca/jiilart/, the tirst dictionary of the 

the first Bengali- i i 'a -ii i i. • c 

English dictionary, language, and it will detain us for a 

1799-1802. moment, as it was indeed a work 

of merit and for a long time considered to be the 
most authoritative and standard publication on the 

Henry Pitts Forster, born- in 1701, of whose early 
Henry Pitts Forster. ^'f© little seems to be known, 
1761-1815. entered Bengal Service of the Com- 

pany on August 7, 1783, and rose to be the Collector of 
Tipperah in 1793 and Registrar of the Dewani * Adalat 
of the 2t Parganas in 179-i. In 1803-Oi, he was 
employed at the Calcutta Mint of which he rose to be the 

' Carey based his famous Dictionary of th* Bengali Language (1815- 
1825), the source of all dictionaries of later times, on Forster's Vocabu' 
lary. The Grst Btn^ali dictionary is, of course, Manoel dn Assump- 
9a«5'3 Vocabulario in Portuguese, which has been already mentioned. 

* The Dictionary of National Biography gives the hypothetical 
date of 1766 with a query. But it appears from the obituary notices 
in the Calcutta (iovcrnmcnt Gazette of 1815 (Sep. 14) and in the Calcutta 
Monthly Journal for September, 1815 (p. 285) that Forster was aged 
54 at the time of his death. In tliat cose, his birth-date would be 
1761, which is here adopted. 


Master.^ He died in India on September 10, 18L5.2 
Besides Vocabulary, Forster also wrote an Essai/ on the 
Principles of Samcrit Grammar (1810). 

The first part of the Vocahulary was published in 

1799 : while the second part appear- 

rocaftulary ; its scope ed in 1802.^ The full title of 

the work, which will sufficiently 

explain its scope, is : " A Vocahulary 

in two parts, English ami Bengalee and vice versa by H. P. 

' It appears from Dodwell and Miles, Bengal Civil Servants, 1839, 
(pp. 182-8 : snpp. list, pp. 600-1) that from 1798 to 1803 as well as 1812 
to 181.5, Forster was out of employ. See also Bengal Almanac and 
A^mual Directory, 1815, p. 9. 

- He died probably in Calcutta, but his burial place cannot be 
traced. No mention either in the Bengal Obituary or in De Rozai-io's 
Monumental Register. For further particulars of his life, see references 
quoted above ; also Dictionary of National Biography ; AUibone, Dictio- 
nary of British and American Authors. Marshman, {Life and Times of 
Carey etc., 1859, vol. i , p. 71) spells the name as Foster, which form is 
not correct. 

^ The date of publication given in Ram-gati Nyayaratna, 
Bangabhasa Sahitya Bisuyah Prastab, 3rd Ed., p. 192, is 1801 which 
is clearly erroneous. The date given in Dinesh Chandi-a Sen, History 
of Bertgali Language and Literature, 1911, p. 868 (where the book is 
described as " Bengali Dictionary by Forater, a Civilian and Sanskrit 
Scholar") is 1719 which seems to be an obvious mistake or misprint 
for 1799. The account given in this latter work is mainly based 
on Rev. J. Long's Catalogue, but Long's book was compiled not till 
1855 and contains more than one inaccurate statement. See also the 
notification in the Calcutta Gazette, dated August 26, 1802, in which 
" Mr. Forster has the pleasure to acquaint the subscribers of his 
Bengalee Vocabulary, that the second part is entirely printed off, and 
will be ready for delivery all. in the present month of August and as he 
has more than doubled the size of the work beyond m hat he engaged, 
he hopes this will be admitted as a sufficient excuse for the delay in 
the publication." (Seton-Karr, Selections from Calcutta Gazette, 
vol. iii, p. 5G1). It is clear that the work was published in two 
instalments in 1799 and 1802, 


Forster, Senior Merchant on the Bencjal EstabHsh- 
nient."' It is evident from the leiii^thy preface to 
this work as well as to that of Halhed that these early 
works weri undertaken not on literary but also on political 
grounds. Bengali at this time, onuially as well as popu- 
larly, was an unrecognised vernacular, and Forster rightly 
insists upon the absurdity and inconvenience of continuing 
the use of Persian in courts of law (see Preface to f ocaLu- 
luri/). It was thus due to the efforts of Halhed and Forster, 
seconded among Europeans by Carey and the oririimpur 
missionaries and among Bengalis by Ram Mohan Ray and 
his friends, that Bengali not only became the olHcial 
language of the Presidency but it now ranks as one of the 
most prolific literary languages of India. One of the 
greatest dilliculty, however, under which all compilers in 
this period had to labour and to which Forster himself, as 
his preface shows, was fully alive, was the exceedingly 
corrupt state of the language in its current 'dialect' form. 
There was no standard literature, or if there had been one 
it was long forjjotten or was not so widelv known as to 
ensure fixity of forms and expressions.- This corruption. 

' Printed at Calcutta from tho Press of Ferris and Co., 1799. 
Dedicated to Thomas (iraham Esqr., dated December 15, 1799. A 
copy of this work will bo conveniently found in tho Calcutta Imperial 

' .\.s the various quotations by way of illustration in Ilalhod's 
Granunnr shows, he was not aware of the existence of more tlian half 
a dozen old Benf::ali works. He takes his passages mostly from 
}lah.a,hKaT(it (from wliicli he gives a lenpthy (piotation at pp. 37-42), 
BJamaijnn and tho various works of Bharat-chandra, still in vogue, 
especially his B'uhjaf.\indnT . Printing there was hardly any and books 
mostly in manus:ripts were not easily procurable. It is also notable 
that Halhed confines hinmelf exclusively to examples taken from 
Poetry and there is not a single prose quotation in his works. " I 
might observe " he writes, " that Bengali is at present in tho same 
state with Greece before the time of Thucydides when Poetry waj the 


however, was confined principally to revenue and 
judicial terms, and the more common and daily shiftinj^ 
collo(piial expressions. But the f]freatest difficulty was 
felt in orthofi^raphy which was in a hopelessly chaotic 
state, in these ante-printing days. " There uever having 
been " says Forster, " a native Bengalee grammarian nor 

indeed any author of note who might be considered 

as a standard, the orthography has consequently never 
been fixed j and being current over an extensive country 
and among an illiterate peo])le, almost every word has 
been and continues in one district or other to be variously 
spelt, and not infrequently so disguised as to render it 
difficult to recognise it, when met in its genuine form in 
Songskrit. In such eases, I have not scrupled to adoi)t 
Songskrit orthography, unless I found the majority of 
the people whom I consulted, concur in any particular 
vitiated mode of spelling it." In spite of these difficulties, 
however, Forster succeeded in compiling one of the most 
valuable and painstaking lexicon of the language ever 
published, and the eulogy of Marshman that Forster was 
the "most eminent Bengali scholar till the appearance of 
Dr. Carey'" is fully justified. 

The year in which Forster's Vocahnlari/ was published 
saw another memorable but at that time an apparently 
unimportant event — the landing of a band of missionaries 

on the banks of the Gausses and the 

The advent of tl.e g^arting of a mission at Srirampur. 
missionaries. » f 

A year later, the Fort William College 

only stjle to which authors applied themselves aud studied prose was 
utterly unknown ". The biographer of Dr. Carey relates how (Smith, 
ip. cit. p. 202) when Carey visited Nadlyii, not many years ago the 
illustrious centre of Bengali literature, " he could not discover more 
than 40 separate works, all in manuscripts, as the whole literature 
of 30,000,000 of people up to that time ". 

' Marshman, Life and Times of Carey etc., vol. i., p. 71. 


was esitablished at Calcutta tor iini)artin^ know led ;;l' of 
the vernaculars to yountr civilians. \N'ith this Mission as 
its centre and the Fort William College as its public 
forum, Bengali language entered upon a new i) of 
development, hitherto undreamt of. For?ter was, no 
doubt, followed bv a band of earnest civilian workers, of 
whom the names of J. F. Kllerton' and Sir Craves C. 
Haughton are the most well-known, yet with the 
missionaries in the Held, who, for years to come, had made 
education of the people and cultivation of the vernacular 
their own peculiar province, earlier work was eclipsed^ and 
a fresh impetus was given to the vernacular literature. 
The experimental stage was not yet over, but what was 
desultory, spasmodic, and slipshod became regular, un- 
broken, and svstematic: and for several vears till the 
foundation of the Hindu College and the emergence of 
a new band of writers, the history of Bengali literature 

is closely bound up with the labours 
Srirumpur Mission, of the missionaries and school-masters, 

and especially of the brotherhood at 
Srirampur, associated with the names of Carey, Marshman 
and Waril whose devotion, earnestness and philanthropic 
l)urpose cannot be too highly spoken of. 

' Ellciton wrote his works before 1800 niiil, therefore, strictly 
spciikintr belongs to this chapter. Hut Ellcrton's Bible-trnnshitions were 
not published nntii probably 181',): so nn account of him will bo found 
in the next chapter under the Bible-translations of the Sruanipnr 


William Cakey and Srirampur jSIissiox. 

Of the missionary movements which gave an early 
impetus to Bengali language and literature, the foremost 

place has been given to the frater- 

SrTrampur Mission. . pip ca- 

nity of the famous Srirampur 

Mission, which was started by Carey, ]Marshman and 

Ward but of which the moving spirit was William Carey. 

William Carey, the son of a weaver and himself a village 

shoe-maker till the age of twenty- 
(^61-1834) ^''^^"' eight, was born on August 17, 1761 

in the village of .Paulesbury, situated 

in the very midland of England, in the heart of the 

district which not only produced 
Birth and early life. i i • i i r. 

bhabespeare and cherished Cowper 

but wdiich also fostered Wyelif and Hooker, Fox and 
Bunyan. But village-life in those days was far from 
being elysian and the destiny of the cottager, with 
poverty and sore toil staring him in the face, was cheer- 
less enough. Buried in an obscure village, the eldest of 
a family of five children, young Carey seenied to be born to 
such a lot, the Ensjlish labourer's lot of five shillin<js a 
week and the poorhouse in sickness and old age. At the 
age of sixteen he was an apprentice to the shoe-maker's 
trade — a trade of which however he was never ashamed ' 

* It would be silly in nic to pretend to recollect all the shoes 
I made. I was accounted a very good workman... (Letter to Ryland) 
There is no inconsistency between this and his famous retort to the 
general officer who inquired of one of the aides-de-camp, when 
dining with the Marquis of Hastings, whether Dr. Carey had not once 


and wliicli linked him to tlio earliest missionaries of 
Alexandria, of Asia Minor, and of Gaul, some of 
whom were shoe-makers, and to a succession of scholars 
and divines, poets and critics, reformers and philanthro- 
pists who had used the shoe-maker's life to become 
illustrious. The picture of younj]^ Carey, keepiufjf school 
by day, preaching on Sundays, and eobling or making 
shoes by night, would remind one ver}' forcibly of 
Carlyle's i)icture of George Fox in his Sartor liesartus. 
But all tiiis time, in poverty that would have very soon 
crushed the sj)irit of an ordinary man, he went on with 
his studies, although books were rare in those days and 
not easy to be begged or borrowed by a country-boy. 
It is remarkable that his taste inclined him to books of 
travel, adventure, history, and natural science to the 
exculsion of novels, plays, and books on religious 
subjects. The religious earnestness which marked his 
later life had not yet dawned, and he had been hitherto 
a stranger to the gospel of Christ. A remarkable 
change took place in his] life about his eighteenth 
year. He joined the small church which was formed 
at Hackleton and afterwards the Baptist congregation 
at Moulton where he became a pastor. His mind 
was at this time occupied in ac({uiring the learned 
languages and almost every branch of useful knowletlge. 

It was about this time that his great 

Ilis missionary t^^j 1,^ ^bout thc practicabilitv and 

ardoar, '^ ' 

importance of a mission abroad took 
definite shape in his mind. His extensive study of 
geography and books of travel convinced him painfully 
of the fact that a very small jwrtion of the human mce 
had yet jwssessed any knowledge of Christ and his 

been a shoe-maker. "No, Sir, only a coblorl" (quoted in Dr. 
Culross'a William Carey), 


religion. lu order to impress bis brethern witb bis new 
idea, he wrote and pubbsbed ''Ah Enquiry iitto the Obligu- 
tio?is of the Christians for the Conversion of the Heathens 
iti ichich the Religions State of Bifereut Nations of the 
World, the Success of Former Undertakings, are consi- 
dered by William Carey:' (1792). Tbis was the 
birtb of England's foreign Mission in Bengal^ for Carey 
would not remain idle until bis project bad been put into 
practice. At last, at a meeting of tbe Xortbamptonsbire 
Association of Baptist Cburebes held at Kettering 
(Northampton) on tiie October 'I, 1792, a Baptist 
Missionary Society was started on a humble scale for 
propagating the gospel. Carey set out for India 
on June 13, 1793. At first he bad desired to go to 
Sets out for India, Tahiti or West America. At this 

time, however, be met John Thomas, 
a medical evangelist, who had made two voyages to 
India and bad some experience of Bengal.- It was 
Thomas who directed Carey to Bengal. 

It must not be supposed, however, that the missionary 
spirit was unknown in Carey's time 

Missions in India : ^j. ^jj^^^. jj^ Jjj^ ^.^g ^^^^^^ h^ioxQ visited 
Carey s predecessors. 

by tbe missionary activity. On the 

contrary, many great names and great though mistaken 

movements will occur to the memory of every reader of 

Church history^. Not to go far back to the missionary 

' Carey, ho-wever, was not the first English missionary to Bengal: 
this was one Mr. Clarke (see Hyde, Parochial Annals of Bengal, p.2i3.) 

* See C. B. Lewis, Life of John Thomas (1873). Also Smith, op. cit. 
p. 41. 

» For details about the history of Christian Missions of which litera- 
turd is vast, the following books may be conveniently consulted; Brown's 
History of Missions, Kaye's Uintory of Christianity in India, Marshall's 
Christian Missions, Uongh's Christianity in India, Bherring^s Protestant 
Mission in India, and Marshman's History of the Serampore Mission, 


zeal of Francis Xavler or of the Moravian brothorliood 

in the East, we find, for tlie o;reater part of the 18th 

century (1707 to 1798), the Coast-Mission (as it was 

called) carrying- on its missionary work in South India 

with Tranqnehar as its centre. At one time it was a very 

powerful movement carried on by the Lutherans whom, 

from Zein«j:enbalf|; to Schwartz, Dr. Francke had trained 

at Halle and Frederick IV of Denmark had send forth 

to its India Company's settlement in the South : but 

when Carey landed, the Coast Mission, partly on account 

of the wars between the English and the French, was 

almost in a state of inanition. To Bensral there was, we 

have seen, Roman Catholic Mission but as yet no 

Protestant Mission from England. The only well-known 

missionary who came to liengal before Carey, was Kier- 

nandar the Swede, ^ the " Mammon " 
John Zacliaiiah 

Kiernaiuler, 1758 (d. of Hiekj's Gazette, whom Clive in 
' '' 1758 had brought to Calcutta where 

James Long's Handbook to Bengal Missions will also be found useful, 
with reference to the general educational activity of the missionaries. 
Duff's India and Indian Missions and his articles in the earlier volumoa 
of the Calcutta Reviexc may also be consulted. On the Missions in the 
South, literature in vast. One may, however, consult witli advantage, 
Lettre.i Edijiantes et Curieuses ^crites de Ifi'.ssion.s Etranghrs, 2G vols. 
1780-83, vols, x-xv specially refer to India ; Lacroze, Histoire du 
Christ ianisme dea Indes, 2 voh. 1758; Bertrand, La Mission du Madur6 
4 vols. 1847; Coleridge, ti/f Odd Letters nf St. Francis Xavier. For a 
fnller bibliography on this subject, see A. C. Burnell, -4 Tentative List 
of Boo\i and Mss. relatiiu/ to the History of the Portuguese in India, 
Man galore, 1880. 

' See Cal. Rcc. 1847. vol. viii, pp. 124.184. Also Marshman, Hi^lvry 
of Serainpore Mission, vol. i, p. 20, et socj. Carey calls Kicrnandor a 
German (E. Carey, Memoirs of Carey, p. 449.). Soo Marshall's Chrit- 
tian Missions, vol. i, p. 278. For Kiernander, see Bengal Obituary, p. 34 
et seq : Came, Lives of Eminent Miisioriaries ; Asiatic Journal, vol. xv, 
1834; W. II. Carey, Oriental Christian Biography, pp. 193 ct seq ; Flyde, 



he tln'iieefoith lived, meeting youiiir Care\' subsequently 
at BaiKlel at the <:jreat ii^xc of els^hty-four. But Kiernander 
could not wield any influence on the masses* and had 
no literary pretensions whatever ; for although he started 
a native school and built a Church at his own cost, he was, 
in the first place, rather a niissiouary to the Portuguese and 
their descendants who were nominal Christians of the 
lowest Romanist type : and, in the next place, Kiernander 
could never converse in Bengali or Hindusthani and never 
cared to mix freely with the peojde of the country. Practi- 
cally his work ha<l made only the slightest impression and 
it was no wonder therefore that Carey could find no 
trace of his work among the )ieo})le even six years after 
his death. 

The condition of the clergy at this time, however, and 
their public and private morals did not in any way make 

them attractive to or influential with 

The character of tlic the people of this Country. It is well- 
clero:}' and the oppo- it. t t 

sition of tlie East known that the East India Company 

Stian-SSJ" "°t ""b- adopted a policy of perfect 

neutrality towards the religions of 
India and never attempted to preach their religion 
themselves but they also threw every possible obstacle 
in the way of the missionaries who wanted to settle 
in their territories. The ostensible ground for this 
aggressive spirit of discouragement was political but the 
r-eal reasons are thus given by a writer in the Calcntia 

Parochial Annals of Bengal : The Monumental Eegistcr hj' M. DeRozario 
(1815) p. 109-113; Bustoed, Bc/ioes /rom Old Calcutta, 1908; Cotton, 
Calcutta Past and Present ; John Zachariah Kiernander (a pamphlet), 
Cal. Bap. Miss. Press, 1877, etc. 

' Of Kiernander's clerical convert, Bento dc Silvestre aliat de Souza 
and his contribntion to Bengali, mention has already been mndo 
at p. 77-78. 


liei'ieic (1850) : "The Missionary was the interloper par 
fj'cellence^ aiul the hate ol' a camel for a hurse, of a snake 
for a moni>:oose, was feeble when compared with the hate of 
the An^'Io-Intlian for the Interloper. Partly from his 
training-, pirtly froai the first cirenmstanees of the con- 
ijuest, the Ani^lo-Indian otUeial regarded India as his 
property, his pecnlinm. An interloper was therefore in his 
eves little better than a thief, a man who undersold him, 
interrupted his protits, and impaired his exclusive autho- 
rity over the population. With the instinct which eomes 
of self-defence he saw that the Missionary was the most 
danirerous of interlonors." Neither the character of the 
early founders of the British Empire as a body nor that 
of the clerji:y before the Sririimpur mission was such as to 
inspire respect for their religion ; and of the clergy as a class, 
the Governor-General officially wrote to the Court of 
Directors as late as I7U5: "Our cler«ry in Henijal, with 
Some exceptions, are not respectable characters." 

Althousjh Carey and his fellow-missionary were allowed 
to enter Calcutta (November 1 I, 17'.)-J) without opposition, 
indeed without notice (so obscure tliey were), yet under 
the existini^ conditions of thinijs he had to preach his 

reli'^ion for several years almost like 

Attempts ut settle- ^ ^Y\\d in constant fear of beinjr 
ineiit. ^ 

deiwrted to Enj^land. Quite destitute 

in Calcutta, he had no definite plan for the future. 
Th'' congres^ration at home were too jioor to Sfive 
Ilia a'i\' a^ista'K'e, norc)ulil tlii'V inlluenee the autho- 
rities in KuLjlan'l to allow him to settle down 
peieefully as a missionary, for tlie latter would 
in.stantly refuse to listen to a handful of eoun»ry no-bodies 
the chief anionic whom was a shoe-maker. Alter several 
fruitless attempts to settle down, ('arey at last su'^eeeded in 
obtainiui' the situation of an assistant in ciiar<jfe of some 


incHiijo factories at MaJnabatT, 30 miles north of MalJah, 
the scene of John Ellerton'.s labours. All these years, 

however, the idea of translating the 
Six years in North gj,^|g ^^^^^ preaching in the language 

Bengal. i » r> o 

of the i)eoi)le was ever present 
in his mind. As soon as he could settle down, 
he applied himself to the study of Bengali, which, 
his biographer tells us, the indefatigable scholar had 
already begun during the voyage, and of which the 
first indication is given by an entry in his journal two 

months after he had landed. "This 
Carey^ cffortB to Jay" he writes "finished the correction 

study Bengali. •' 

of the first chapter of Genesis, which 
Munshi savs is rendered into verv good Bengali."* 
The Munsi or Bengali teacher referred to was one Ram 
Basu who not only taught the language to Carey but also 
had been of much help to the poor missionary during the 
years of uncertainty and struggle at the outset of his 
career. The greatest difficulty, however, which puzzled 
him, as a foreigner, in learning the language relates to 
the unsettled state of its forms and expressions, of its 
grammar and orthography ; and a vast difference seemed 
to him to exist between the literary language and its 
corrupt colloquial and dialectal forms. Thus he speaks 
with a naivete characteristic of himself in a letter, 
dated October '2, 1795 : "The language spoken by the 
natives of this part, though Bengali, is so different 
from the language itself (?) that I can preacii an horn- 
wit h tolerable freedom so as that all who speak the 
language or can read or write, understand me perfectly: 
yet the poor labouring people can understand me little. "'-' 

' Smith, op, rit. p. Gl ; Eustace Carey, Memoirs of William Carey, 
p. 119. 

- E. Carey, op. cit. p. 242 ; Smith, op. cit. p. 72. 


Indoeil, a foreiL^ner always tiiuls it liard work to obtain 
in a year the endless variety of its idiom and the niceties of 
pronunciation: but Carey certainly was very far from 
riixht when he savs further that althoui;h the lauijuafre 
is ricli, beautiful, and expressive, it has t^ot scarcely a 
\a.v-^e vocabidary in use about religion and kindred subjects.' 
The whole trend of ancient or pre-British Ben<]fali litera- 
ture which is reliu:ious in subject will j)rove the inappro- 
priateness of this hasty statement. The half-pity inf; and 
half-contemptuous tone in which Carey and his mission- 
ary eolleai^ues speak of our forefathers as so many 'hea- 
thens', or semi-barbarians- no doubt raises our sUiile 
today, but they in all sincerity, born of reli^jious enthu- 
siasm, really thoufjjht in this way. It is true indeed that 
there was a partial decadence of reli<i;ious life and ideals 
in the country during the last years of the Mohammedan 
rule, yet Carey and his colleagues in spite of their catholi- 
citv and tolerance, could never detect the siijns of reliirious 
life which could produce the noblest son;T:s of KSm-prasiid. 
From the earliest times to the days of Ram-mohan Ray and 
even to the present day, religion had, as we have already 
stated, a great influence on Bengali literature. The great 
jiersonality of Chaitanva and his disciples, the songs of the 
liaisiiab poets, breathing as they do the purest language of 
poetry and devotion — all indicate what charm religion had 
always possessed for the people and their literature. The fact 
was, making every possible allowance to missionary fanati- 
cism, that Carey, as he himself admits ', could lay his hand 
upon very few ancient Bengali books and manuscripts; 

' See his letter to the Society for the PropB^ration of the Gospel, 
quoted in E. Carey, op. cit. p. 2.'19. 

' Ho speaks of this country uh one "devoted to the service 
of Satan and immersed in tlif awful ignorance of heathenness.' 
E. Carey, op. cit. p. 294. 

' Smith, op. cit. p. 202. 


and with Hie cleca}' of learning and culture in Bengal, 
the vernacular literature had come to be neglected, and for 
some time it had practically become non-existent. It was 
only natural, therefore, for tliese Europein scholars from 
Haliic'd to Yates, who were not a-yare of the existence of 
more than IkiH' a dozen Bengali works, to indulge in sueh 
sweeping and hasty statements. 

In his study of Bengali, Carey foiiinl out very early 
that without the classical Sanscrit, which he always re- 
garded as "the parent of nearly all the colloquial dia- 
lects of India." ^, he could neither master its Bengali 
offshoot nor enrich that vernacular \v\t\\ effective 
literary forms and combinations. If one must borrow, 
one might go to the literatures of Europe for themes and 
methods but the expression must always be indigenous. 
It is significant indeed that all the early Bengali writers 
from Carey to Bidyasagar, whose writings have helped to 

create for us the Bengali prose, were 

His study oi' learned in the Sanscrit language, 
Sanscrit and its effect. i p i i i. 

and were therefore always ready to 

avail themselves of the rich treasures of forms and expres- 
sions which that classical language afforded. Carey applied 
himself to Sanscrit with so much industry that as early 
as April 1 7!)i) we llnd him writing home that he had 
made enough progress in the language to read the 
Mitluibharat; and that in 1798 he had compiled a Sanscrit 
grammar and the considerable portion of a Sanscrit-English 
dictionary.-' It must be remembered that Sanscrit 
learning and literature were much patronised in those days 
and the first step taken by the government towards the 
education of the native-born s'lbjects was inspired by the 
desire for the promotion of Sanscrit scholarship. 

' Preface to Sanscrit Grammar ^XHOfS). 

- Sec also his letier to Sutcliffe, June 16, 1798, quoted in E. Carey's 
oji. cit. p. 323. 


Aft»'r six vt'iirs in North HtMi''-:il ;is a inissionarv, 

scholar, ami iiulijjjo-plantor, Carcv fomul that a few iii- 

sii'iiillcanl viilaijes of Iwn or threi* dozen niiul-walleJ 

cotta^v-; hardly afforded sulHcicnt scope for his missionary 

work. Mo was fonniiii;; the project of a Mission Sottle- 

Mient on the ^Moravian model, hut in 

Work at MndnabntT 1 7<JH the indiij^o works at Madiiabat! 
given up. 

had to bo ojiven up. Carey hail boon 

thinkiui^ of takini*- another small indi<?o factory in the 
noii^hhourhood, when he learned that he was soon to be 
joiiu'd in his missionary work by four oolleaufues from 

Enj^land. Tho expected ro-in force- 
Rein forremcnt from nient consisted of Joshua Marshman 

and his wife, William Ward, D miol 
Rrunsdon,' and AVilliam Grant. The ori^final intention 
was to proeee^l to Maldah and settle with Carey at Ma Ina- 
bati. They arrived off Calcutta on October 12, 1799 
in an American ship; but instead of landing, thoy proceeded 
to ^rirrimpur where they could be safe under the protection 

of the Danish flai;. Thoir object in 

firTnimpnr, wliy choosini]^ J^rirumpur as a mission- 
chosen as a mission- . ... . ■ /-, ., „ , , 
centre. centre is thus given by Carey-; "At 

Sorampore we can settle as missiona- 
ries, which is not allowed here; and the great ends of the 
mission, particularly the printing of tho Scriptures, seem 
much more likely to be answered in that situation... In 
that part of the country inhabitants arc far more numerous 
than in this; and other missionaries may be tliore j)ermitted 
to join us, which here it seems they will not." In the 
beginning of the last century .SrTiTimi>ur was a kind of 
Almlia — *a city of refuge'; and the persecuted missionaries 

' For a sketch of Brnnadon's life, see W. IT. n.nrey, Oriental Chriatian 
Biography, vol. i, pp. 170-72. 
• Smith, op. cit. p. 88. 


could surely do no better than seek its protection for the 
purposes of their mission. In selecting this city instead of 
any other, they did what was best under the circumstances. 
" Had we stayed at Mudnabutty or its vicinity " Carey 
wrote "it is a great wonder we could have set u[) our press ; 
Government would have suspected us, though without 
reason to do so and would, in all probability, have pre- 
vented us from printing ; the difficulty of procuring 
proper materials would also have been almost insuperable."' 
Srirampur is situated in one of the richest and most 
densely peopled tracts in Bengal, very close to the metro- 
polis ; and it was here that the earliest European factories 
in Bengal were established, the Danes planting themselves 
at .Srirampur, the French at Chandan-nagar, the Dutch 
at Chinsurah, the English at Hugli, and the Portuguese 
at Band el. 

Two of the missionaries speedily fell victims to the 
climate. Marshman and Ward, 

Carey leaves North ^^,^ are indissolubly linked 

Ben<Tal and joins •' 

Marshman and Ward ^-ith that of Carey, who had taken 
at Srirampur (1800). . -,1,1 t 

up his residence with them on January 

16, 1800, resolved to start systematic mission-work, 

formino; a brotherhood somewhat on the idea of the 

Pentecostal Church. The mission in 

The Srirampur Mi- -^^ disinterestedness, its lofty aims, 

sion started. ' *' ' 

and its kindly commoiisense deserves 
sympathetic study. The spirit which animated them is 
to be clearly seen in the Form of Agreement, drawn up 
by them, which exhibits the high aims, the simple and 
disinterested life of work to which the JSrirampur brethern 
bound themselves from the beginning. This earnest 

» E. Carej-, op. cit. p. 379-80. 


philanthropy and self-sacriliee never failed to make an 
impression upon the hearts; of the people and this is one 

of the reasons uliy the Sririlmpnr 

Tho secret of its • • i i i i i < • i i 

=„„^«oc I • )i mission ha 1 hoen ah e to w eld an 

enormous inlluonec in the countiy. 
One of the principles which rfijjulated tho whole course 
of the ^lission was that a missionary must consider him- 
self as one of the comi)anions and eipials of the people 
to whom he had been sent and that be must endeavour to 
^ain a thorousjh knowledij^e of those anionic whom he 
laboured in their modes of thinkin<]j and feeliniTj : this 
was what broui^ht them nearer to the people and gained 
tiieir conlidenee. They had started a school at SrTrampur 
as early as May 1, 1800. In their letter to the Society 
at home, we find the missionaries writing in October 10, 
1 800 : "There appears to be a growing familiarity between 
us and the natives. They receive our printed ])apers 
with the greatest eagerness and we cannot doubt but 
that they are pretty extensively read."' Without this 
sympathy, self-denial, and high motives of philanthropy 
and love, they would not have i)een able to attract the 
people and motdd their life and thought in the way 
they had done. 

Of the two fellow- workers of Carey, Joshua Marshman, 

son of a weaver and for sometime 

n-rfi'liV^^'*''"''"'"" ^ bookseller's emplovce in London, 

was born at AVestbury in AN'iltshire, 
Ai)ril 20, irOS. 2 After much struggle and privation 
he succeeded in oijtaining the mastership of a school in 

» E. Cnroy, op. rit. p. ['Mi. 

* For more detnila, sec Mnrslunan, Ili.itonj of Seramporc ilisnion, 
2 vols (I8o9); Bengal Obituary, pp. 340-43; Diet, of National Biography ; 
W. H. Carey, Oriental Christian Biography, vol. iii, pp. 257-6.}. 
1 I 


Bristol, and wbile living there he was baptised and vohia- 
teered to go out to India as an assistant to Carey. He 
was a man not only of great mental capacity, endowed 
with what the Scotch call "a long head ", but also had 
fine administrative ability which kept the missionary 

communit}' in perfect order. AVilliam 

WilH.'iiii Ward, -txr i ji i • /> • • • ^ ii 

(■i7G'J-i.s-'3) \> ard, thougli mierior in uitellec- 

tual equipment, was a man of great 

])ractical ability and sound common-sense. He was born 

at Derby on October :iO, 1709.^ The son of a builder, 

he had received some education and had been apprenticed 

to a printer. He rose to the position of the editor of 

the Deihy Mercury and afterwards of a newspaper in Hull. 

It was at Hull five years before he came out to India, Carey 

had met Ward and said to him " If the Lord bless 

us, we shall want a person of 3'our business to enable us 

to print the Scriptures : I hope you will come after us.^' 

He joined the (/hurch in 1796 and came out to India in 

1799 at the invitation of Dr. Carey. His work like that 

of Marshman, from 1800, was connected, if not identified, 

with that of the Mission at ferirjlmpur. Ward, however, 

had very little connexion with Bengali literature- 

except indirectly, much less than Carey and ]Marshman, 

to whom, as to no other missionary or foreign writer, 

the country owes a deep debt of obligation for furlhering 

the cause of education and indi recti v of modern Benii:ali 


' For moro details, see Wist, of Scrampore Mission. Also Samuel 
Stcnnctt, Memoirs of the Life of William Ward (1825); Bengal Ohiluarij, 
pp. 343-45; Diet, of Natioml Biogr. -. Memoir of Ward, Philadelphia; 
Simpson's Life prefixed to Ward on Hindus ; W. H. Carey, Orient. Christ. 
Biogi-aph. vol. ii. ])]i. l-G ct. scq. 

^ Ward, says Caroy, could speak Bengali a little (B. Carey, op. 
c!t. p. 424). Ward, however, wrote some tracts in Bengali wliicli will 
be noticed hereafter. 


One of the earliest works that the ^lission aeeonii>lisheJ 

was the priiitiiio- of the New Testa- 
Print ins: of tlie .„ , • i> r 1- 1 - ion 1 
Bengali Bible, ISOl. '"'^"^ '" Hfll-all Oil leb./, 1,^01 

after a labour of nine months' and 
of the OKI Testanu-nt between ISO.i ami 1809. Carey, 
whilr at Miiiliiab.itT, had completed the translation of the 
u:reater portion of the Bible by the year 1708 with the 
exception of the historical books from Joshua to Job.- 
lie had gone to Calcutta to obtain the estimates of printin<j; 
but had found it beyond his slender means : for the cost of 
printing 10,000 copies was estimated at nearly 

Us. 43,7.")0.^ To have got it printed 
History of its printing. i„ England was well-nigh impractic- 

abh', for he had found that fach 

> Preface to the Serampore Letttrs (I8(X»-181G) ed. b)' L. nnd M. 
Williams, witli an introductory memoir by Tlio?. Wriglit ; also see 
Marslinmn, History of Serampore 3/ission. But see Bengal Obituary, pp. 338. 
• He had begun tlie translation as soon as lie could fairly learn the 
langunge. We find him writing to Sutcliffe only a year after his arrival 
(.\ui^. 9, 1794) : " The language (of Bengali) is copious and I think 

beautiful. I begin to converse in it a little I intend to 

send yon a copy of Genesis, Matthew, Mark and James in Bengali ; 
with a small vocabulary and grammar of the language, in manuscripts, 
of my own composition" (E. Carey, op. cit. p. 19r)). On July 17, 
1796, he writes to Fuller that "almost all the Pentateuch and the 
New Testament are now completed" {ibid j). 265). By 1799, almost 
the whole of the Bible was translated. It is customary to attribute 
the authorship of the entire Bengali Bible to Caroj, but from the report 
of the work given by him {ibid p. 34">, Letter to Fuller, dated July 
17, 1799) we find that in the first version, Fountain (d. Aug. 1800) 
nnd Thomas helped him much. Fountain translated 1 and 2 Kings, 
Joshua, Judges, Ruth. 1 and 2 Sajnnel and 2 Chronicles : while Thomas 
undertook Matthew, Murk (ii-x), Luke, and James. .\ll the rest was 
Caroy'a own as well as the whole correction. The correction, however, 
sometimes rendered the original version into quite a new work, 
especially in the case of Thomas's translation which was very incor- 
lect and imperfect {ihid j> 323; Pcriodioil Acconnls, vol. i, pp. 20-21.) 
* E. Carey. <<>> rii. y. 277 :»nd also p. 368 ; see also p. 239. 


punch would cost a guinea a piece. After several fruitless 
attempts, when the project had appeared almost incapable 
of accomplishment, Carey saw a wooden printing press 
advertised in Calcutta for €10. He at once purchased it 
at Rs. 400 and set it up at Madnabati. It was from this 
old press, subsequently removed to Srirfimpur that the 
first edition of the Bengali New Testament was printed.' 
The types were set with the knowledge of a first-rate 
printer bv AVard witii his own hand, assisted 
by Carey's son, Felix.- The second edition was 

1 Smith, op. cit. p. 181 ; E. Carey op. cit. p. 330. 

* If wo. leave aside Elleiton's New Testament and Tliomas's 
version of Genesis and other books of the Bible (1701), tliis is the 
first effort at an entire translation of the Bible into Ben^^ali. EUer- 
ton's version, however, was not published till 1820, and Thomas 
himself got much help from Carey in his translation. 

Of John F. Ellerton (1768-1820), nothing much is known except 
that he was an indigo-planter and was the first to estal)lish a Bengali 
school in Maldah. He wrote (1) ^^ ^IltPtl ltf%S ^f5« I Calcutta 1819. 

(2)^^cl 515IM<1 C^t^<lf5«i Calcutta 1811) in 
Bengali and English (3) Ef^t?"^ S\| fi}'^ 'TtC?? 

"^''^/'^-^•o^iuortr'' ^^^ '^^^ I 01" the New Testament, (rans"iated 

by J. F. Ellerton, Calcutta 1820, pp. 993. This 
last-mentioned work, though discontinued for 
a time on learning that Carey was engaged on a similar work was at 
last printed by the Calcutta Bible Societj'. Seethe Fifteenth Report of the 
Briti!<h(ind Foreign Bible Sac. London 1819, pp. 214 and 319; 1818, App. 
p. 24 (4.) ^^ t*Il^ '2|rat^^ ^Hill' '??I1R^ f^T<I1 or Account of the Crca- 
tion of the World and of tlie First Age, in the form of a dialogue between 
a master and his pupil, Calcutta 1820. In Cul. Rev. vol. viii, 1850, this 
work is probably referred to as ^-^rWh See Long, Introduction to 
Adam'x Report >< : Smith, op. cit. p. 145 : Cfl/. i?cr. 1850 : The Bengal 
Obituary (1851) p. 144: Blumhardt, Ca^aZoi/dc. For Thomas, see Life 
of John Thomas by C. B. Lewis (1873). The books of the Old 
Testament, as printed by the Serampore Press (1801-9) are in 4 
vols, viz., 1. Pentateuch, 1801 ; 2. Joshua-Esther, 1809 ; 3. Job- 
Song of Solomon, 1804 ; 4. Isiah-Malachi, 1805. According to the 
Serampore Memoirs, however, the correct dates of ptiblication are: 


publislu'd in I.S03 :' but it \va>; propareJ from a I'ount of 

more elci^aiit aiul smaller size, 

Tlie Pross at Constructed by Manohar. The 

Sriiaiiifiir. story of its printiiiij is thus told in 

the Memoir relative io Trtnislafions, 

''Happily for us and India at lar<>e Wilkins had led the 

way in this de[)artmeiit ; and persevering industry, under 

the «^reatest disadvantat^es with respect to materi ds and 

workmen, had broui^ht the Beni^ali (.v/f) to a hiy;h detjree 

of perfection. Soon after our settling at Seramjiore the 

providence of God brought to us the very artist who had 

wrought with Wilkins in that work, and in a great 

measure imbibi'd his ideas. Bv his assistance, we erected 

a letter-foundry ; although he is now dead he had so 

fully communicated his art to a number of other-:, that 

they carry forward the work of type-casting, and 

even of cutting the matrices, with a 

Panchtinaii ami degree of accuracv which would not 

Manoliar. ^ -^ 

disgrace European artists,"- The 

1. 1S02 ; 2. ISOO ; 3. 1S03 ; 1. IS07. The Psalter appears to have 
been issued separately in 1803. A revised edition appeared in 1832. 
The New Testament was piil)lishcd in 1801. [See Appendix H at the 
end of this volume for a note on Bil)lical translations]. In CnJ. Rev. 
X, p. 13G, the date of Ellerton'a New Testament is erroneously given 
as 1S16. For John Thomas's translation of the Scriptures, see Murdoch, 
Catalogue of Chrigtian Vernacular Literature of India, pp. 4 and 5, 
Smith, op. ci7. p. 179. Tliomaa'-s version (before 1791) was circulated 
in manuscript. Kaye, Chri'ttianity in Iinlia, p. 138, speaks of this version 
as having been done in "scarcely intelligible Bengalee." See Carey, 
Orient. Christ. Biography, vol. i, pp. 44-l-4oi. 

' 3rd Ed. 1811 ; 4th Ed. 1810 ; 8th Ed. 1832. The date in the 
text is the date of the 2nd Ed. as given by Marahman ; but Smith 
(p 18S) gives 180G as the date. Tlie fact is that tlie edition was 
commenced in 1803 and com])leted in 1800. See Appendix II at the 
end of this volume. 

» Memoir relative to the Translation of the Sacred Scriptures into 
Xhe Lanijuagea of the EaM, Serampore, 1816, by Marahman, The Bible 


artist referred to above as AVilkins' assistant was 
Panc'hruian/ of whom we have already spoken. Paneha- 
nan's a])prentice jNIanoliar continued to make elegant 
founts of type in all the Eastern languages for sale as well 
as for the INIission, where he was "emjiloyed for 4-0 years 
and to his exertion and instruction IJengal is indebted for 
the various beautiful types of Bengali, Nagri, Persian, 
Arabic, and other characters which have been gradually 
introduced into the different printing establishments. "-' 
Much misconcei^tion seems to exist as to the exact 
nature of the services done by Carey 

Translation of the ^^ Bengali literature bv translating 
Bible ; its importance ^ .- o 

in Bengali literature. the Bible into that language. No 

doubt, here was the realisation of one 

of the hio-hest ambitions of Carev as a missionary and in 

the history of Church Missions, it occupies a very high 

and well-deserved position. Car(?y has been called by 

enthusiastic admirers the Wyclif and the Tyndal, while Dr. 

Yates the Coverdale of the Bengali Bible. ^ Whatever 

may be the value of such comparisons, from the 

standpoint of Bengali literature it is, however, to say the 

least, ill-informed and misleading. The position which 

Wyclif's, Tyndal's and Coverdale's versions respectively 

occupy in the history as well as the literature of England 

■was translated tlirongli the efforts of tlie ^rirrunpnr Mission into 40 
clifEerent languages and dialects. See also rcriodical Accounts rela- 
tive to the Bai>tist Mss. Sac. vol i, pp. 292, 368, 417, 527 : vol ii pp. 62, 
132. Sec remarks on these oriental translations in William Brown, 
Historij of MisKions, vol, ii. p. 71. 

> Panclmnan lived for onl\- H or 4 years after this. Bengal Obituanj 

p 338. 

- Marshman, Hist, of Serampur Mission vol. i, p. 179. 

» Siiiith op. cit. p. 186. But see Brown //^s^ of Missions, vol. ii, p. 71 
where Carey's version is impartially estimated to be now "given up as 
of no great value." Sec Cal. Rev. x. p. 134; Col. Christ. Observ. 
vol. xvii. p. 557. 


is not the same as that which Carey's or Yates^ transhitions 
can ever aspire to attain'. Theie niinht be some 
point in coinpariniij Carey's version to Wyelif's, for the 
latter cannot, it is well-known, compete as literature with 
that produced two cent lU'ies later in Eni^lish and conse- 
(inently possesses nothinj^ save an historical attnetion. 
But Coverdale's claim rests on his supi^osed principal share 
in the merits of the early Tudor translations of the Bible. 
To compare these early Eng-lish versions of the Bible with 
the Bengali ones of Carey and Yates would be to make a 
wroni; estimate of both. As a piece of literature the 
Bengfali version cannot be said to be a masterpiece in the 
sense in which the Enirlish versions are. That the Enyjlish 
vei-sion, whether of ]b-]') or of 1011 , is a monument of 
early Eni]jlish prose ; that its peculiar style — " the swan- 
song" as happily put "of Middle English transferred from 
verse to prose" — has alwaj's been the admiration of best 
critics and writers from generation to generation ; and that 
there is no better English anywhere than the English of the 
Bible ; of these facts there can be no doubt. Hut to 
speak of Carey's and Yates^ versions in similar terms 
would not only be incorrect but ludicrous-. iKre is the 
version of one of the most sublime passages of the Bible — 
the account of the creation at the beginning ; but the 
reader will note that the translation is not only imperfect 
and crude, the grammar incorrect, the idiom faulty, the 
syntax crabbed and obscure, but also the whole thing 
looks like an absolutelv foreign growth vainh attempted 
to be acclimated in Bengali. 

' Or even Wengcr's (18G1) or Rouse's (1897) later revisions. 

112 bp:ngali literature 

^®t^t^ ftf^ ^^^ ~^^^ ^-^^ c^ ftf'? f^^'^^i oiT^z^^ I ^^^R 

^^^ ^.^^ f^<i f^^^ I 

C^l^ 51^ ^^?j I ^<5^^ ^?Ttft ^^^tf ¥f^^ ^i*t ^ ft^ ^f^^ 
c2tt^^t^ ^tl"^ ^^ ^^?I f^^^ I 

^^■^ ^t^ ^f^c^s^ ?tr^ ^^ ^i^^ "5rt^U*f^ 5i?:fT f^^t^tf^ 
^t^*t I ^»t^t^1 '« ftf^ ^^^ ^i:'5tw ^1^tc*f ^"^^f ^i%c^ 
^fk^^ ^ ^ ftf^ ^^3^ ftf^ f^^c^^ ^^"^^ ^f^:^ ^:5^w 


^^t^t^ ^C^ ^-^^r ^%^^ 5^ ^'%^ ^T'^ 'Sl^iif S?^ S ^-^ 

^r^c-^s^ ^^ ^-ft^ Q =5»i^trff ^f% ^"? ^1^1 w:^ 5if5 ^c5 

^^^ ^Qjttt^ ^^^ I ^^11 ^ ^t^^t^ ^IC^ ^^^ "^^^ fvf^^ I 

( M'^*!^?^ I ^'. i— ^ ) ' 
The Bengali style however in these versions, it 
will be seen, is not laboured but directed towards sini])li- 
city, ami some attempt is made, in however groping 
fashion, to reproduce the poetry and magnificence 
of the Biblical style, so far us it was possible to do 
80 iu that early stage of Bengali prose.- Yet, as the 

ast«l ~s ■^\w.'\V'f^v,^ \ ^t5ta ««i^ ^m ^I5tc« 5tf^ ^-sf, ctWa ^r?1, 
f^^.^ m^'\, %5rf^, «fws ^t^ I cft^t^ 'imi I ^^1 ^t^ csfe^t^t 

5^ J I fl5rt^*3j^ ft*11 ^^^ 1 ii^'i I Tlie Englisli titlo-paKe is as follows : 
Thu Holy Bible, containing tlic Old Testament and the New : translated 
out of the original tongues. Serampore. Printed at the Mission Press. 
1>S(.I2. Tha title-page of vol ii (New Testament) is as follows : 

^i^^^^7p "st^r? ^^stM I 3t?i 'stRt?^? si-^^Q 3it«t^i c^^'s Utrl^ 
^5R Ji^tsm I ^'ii 5^ it^ ^t^i 5ft3 1 >§i^ripi ^m 5^ I i^-o i 

' No pains were spared, it socins, to make the version as accurate 
and natural as possible. Carey revised it four times before publi- 
cation with Rum Basu, "the most accomplished Bengali scholar of 
the time," by his side. Tiie Pundits judged of the style and syntax 
and ho himself of the faithfulness of the translation. (E. Carey, 
op. cit. p. 308). In 1815 Carey took Yates as an associate with him- 
self in these translations. "His special care" says W.H. Carey {Orient. 
Christ. Biography, vol. i, p. 319) "was bestowed upon the Bengali version." 



followino' extract from Pharaoh's dream in the revised 
version of Yates will indicate, how immature and crude 
the style is and what presumption it is to compare 
this with the traditional excellence of the Biblical style !^ 

CT ^ftfT'^ ?"t^t^^ ^rtf^c^i ^ft ^Ic^ m'l^i mni =?^^ 
c^ftT' ^^^i '?Jr^^ ^T^r^ mf^^ I ^x^ "^u 'Tt's^l ft '« f ^f^s 
c^t^ vT^t ^rs ^fl?il ^vft^ #tc^ (^ c^tKff^ f^^^ ^t^^^ I ^f:?r 

% ^§^ I '^^ 'j^?! <it?i c^ ^?r^ ^^ >rf^ #t«i % ^f^ I 

^^? C^'t 'Tfvs #t«l % <^ ^t^ '^^t^t^ ^^ »Tt^ 5tt5! 

It has been further remarked with regard to these 
Bengali versions that while the ideas of the Bible 
elaborate the notions of the readers^ the language of 
it accustoms them to the disuse of the vulgar paloi-s. 
All the resources of the lansrua^e, srram natical and 

' Of course, this is a great improvemeut upon the origiual 
version of 1802 whicli runs as follows : — 

5^ ^A^l^ ^< ^IZ^ A%^9 ^C^ ¥t!:^t€t '^^ Ctff'm Cf^ C^l ^f^Qtlatc^ 

^ft<l r^^t^l^ C(f«t ^f^ ^tra ^^5! ?*«f^ fkt'1^ ^f»^ ^t^ ^ ^f^*^ 

^f^:5 3 f ^1 ^c^ Jjf^fn:^ ^t«tt^ ^t^ 71^^ -nt^r^ ^^t^ ^s^'oi^ ^jfs^s 
f^ ^ff^i '^ft^ri c^ti?i C'l JTt«5i ^'^^ ^li| ■'tr^r^r?^^ I ^''R 


lexieof]jrapliical, are called out to indicate (1) new and 
foreii^n and (2) noble ideas.' Hence, ii is ar^^ued, 
the importance of the translated Bible in Ik'n^ali li- 
terature. The, however, would have been per- 
fectly true and appropriate had the condition of thin^.s 
been in India what it had always been in Etiroj)e. 
Tiie Bible is the one book in the European countries 
which is a universal favourite, and its idejL. and lan- 
^ua<:;;e have t'lrouj^h many centuries become almost a 
part of the ideas and language of the people at large. 
To this is partly due the enormous inlluenee of the 
saere I book on the languages and literatures of Europe. 
The Bengali Bible, however, has failed to exercise any 
such inlluenee. In India, where the missionaries can 
boast of very few triumphs among the educated class 
and the Bil)le is not so familiarly known and univer- 
sally respected, the eise is not the same as it is in 
Europe. Again, it is true that in all translations the 
resources of the language are drawn out to the utmost 
and that translation is the best exercising ground for 
an infant literature, yet even as a piece of translation, 
the Bengali Bible cannot in any sense be regarded as 
a trium[)h of the translator's art, and the very strain 
in expressing strange and alien ideas with a limited 
command over the inherent powers of tlie language, 
makes the style crabbed, stilted, and unnatural. The 
missionary writings in Bengali have a sort of traditional 
repute for crabbed syntax and false juxta|X)sition of 
words ; here surely the tradition for once is not mis- 
leading. Indeed, in spite of all that can be saiil in favour 
of tiie versions, uo critic, however alive to their importance 

' Cal. Rev. vol. xili. I>*oO. Art. "Early Bengnii Literature and 
NewspRppr." p 139. 


as tlie earliest specimen of simple and homely prose, 
can ever claim any thing like literary competency for 
them marked that they are throughout by earliness and 
immaturity. Carey's claim to importance as a contribu- 
tor to Bengali literature does not rest so much ujwn 
his Bible-translations and numerous tracts on (Jiiristian- 
ity, but ou the works which he produced in another 
sphere of usefulness but on which he himself seems to 
have laid less emphasis although they show him in a 
better light as a writer of Bengali. 

Tiiis sphere of usefulness was first opened to Carey 

by his appointment as a teacher of 

J^^f■^^' r u ^''" Bengali in Lord Wellesley's newlv 

William CoIle<?e. " 

established Fort William College. 

It is to he noted, however, that it was the publica- 
tion of the Bible-translation and his reputation as the 
foremost European scholar of Bengali that had secured 
the aj)pointment which placed him in a jiosition, pliilo- 
logical and tinaneial, to further tht^ ciuse of Bengali 
writing. It was mor(^ to his connexion with the Fort 
William College and his growing influence as a writer 
and scholar in Bengali than to his position as a jjreacher 
of the Gospels that we owe every thing that he did 
for enriching Bonfrali literature. 


WlI.l.lAM ('aUKY and FoilT \\'ll.MA.M Coi.l.EnK. 

Amoiii? tho institutions which in various ways <]jave 

an impetus to Bengali h'terature, 

Importnnco ..f the ^^^^^^ -^ ^ prominent place to 

Fort Williutii Colloir*^ ^ I ' 

in tho history of Ben- the Foit WiUiam Colle<jje. Since 

"iili prose. • i i • p i-» i- 

the practical ilisappoaranee or tsen^jjali 

literature after Bharat-chandra's death, its fir.-t public 

emer<Tence is to be traced in the prose publications of 

this Collpije, which, althouj^h no literature by tlifmselves, 

certainly heralded the more mature i)ro(luctioiis of later 

days. The imj^ortanee of the Fort William Colleije in 

the history of modern Benfjali prose is not due to 

the supreme excellence of its publication (for its |)ubli- 

cations were not in any way lirst-rate) but to the fact 

ftiat by it>5 employment of the Press, by pecuniary and 

other encourai^ement, by affording a central i)lace for 

the needed contact of mind to mind, it ijave such an 

impetus to Bengali learniiiL!^, as was never ij^iven by 

any other institution since the estabHs!:ment of the 

British rule. It is true that the books published under 

its patronafi^e and «?enerally for the use of its students 

were not more numerous or more substantial than 

tliose of the famous School Book Society of later times ; 

but it must bi^ admitted that the list presents a lonp^ 

series of important compositions in the vernacular and 

classical lan<nia<;es of the l'>ast on a variety of subjects 

and ct)mi)reh<^nds many works which, thoujjh written 

expressly for younpf civilian students, were at one time 

widely celebrated in this countrv, and which have not 


yet lost all their value and interest. But this was 
not all. The College was the seminary of western 
learning in an eastern tlress ; it helped to diffuse 
western ideas through the medium of the vernacular. 
But at the same time, orientalism wos its principal 
feature, and it tuined the attention of students and 
scholars to the cultivation of oriental languages, both 
classical and vernacular. "The establishment of the 
College of Fort William" said Sir George Barlow at 
the first Disputation of the College held so early as 
180^ "has already excited a general attention to oriental 
language, literature and knowledge.'"'' We can realise what 
this means when we bear in mind the general neglect and 
oblivion to which Bengali literature and Bengali education 
had hitherto been consigned. The Honourable Visitor of 
1815 in remarking on the encouragement held out by the 
College for the studv of the leading oriental languages 
observed that previously to the foundation of the College 
" the language of Bengal was generally neglected and 
unknown '^- The best scholars and the greatest intellects 
of the country met here in friendly intercourse ; and we 
shall see how an attractive personality like Carey's drew 
around it a band of enthusiastic writers, bent upon remov- 
ing the poverty of their vernacular. At the invitation and 
inducement of such scholars, literary works were undertaken 
by the enlightened Bengali community as well as 
by the Munshis and Pundits of the College who would 

» Roebuck, Annals of the College of Fort William (1819), p. 17; 
The College of Fort W,lliam 1805 cd. by Claudius Uuchanan, Vice- 
Provost & Professor of the College (Soo Pearson's Memoi-s of Rev. 
Claudiut Buchanan, 1819, vol. i, p. 202 foot-noto) containing all the 
official papers ana literary proceedings of the Collogo, p 58 at p. 62 ; 
See also Seton-Karr, Selectioiis from Cal. Omette, toI. iii, p. 296-99 : etc. 

' Roebuck, op. ci p. 468, 


possibly have produced notliiiig but for the stimulus thus 
given to their liteiary zeal and the eneoura;^t_'nieiit yielded 
by the liberality of the government which would have 
never otherwise been so readilv called into beinf;. ' The 
movement for undertaking literary and scientific works in 
Bengiili prose and for translation into that language, which 
till 1850 iiad been so consp'cuous nn activity in the 
literary history of Bengal, had its beginning iu the publi- 
cations of the College of Fort 
The value of its pub- ,,-.,,■ o i • ^i i r -^ 

licationa. ^' illiam- ami m the zeal or its 

scholars, aided no doubt by the fact 
that exigencies of education and spread of liberal ideas 
naturally brought on a multiplication of text-books and 
books of general interest. It is true, speaking generally, 
that the productions of these devoted scholars, consisting, 
as they do, mostly of school-books and translations, are 
far from being invulnerable in point of literary merit ; yet 
to them belonijs the credit of breaking; fresh ixround and 
creating the all-important Btngali prose-of-all-work. Not 
that we have no Bengali prose before this, but it was 
hardly in current use and not so developed as to be the 
medium of evorvdav thoughts of the nation.'' No one 
can claim for this early prose tha finish and all-expressive- 
ness of latter-day prose, but it eaimot be denied that here 

' This was n pet schemo of Welloslcy's : so the liberality of the 
Government was mapnificont. 

' The popular opinion, aided, no doubt, by the extreme scaroiry of 
these publications in the present day as well as by ii^nontnt or CHreless 
criticism, often derivinjj its informations Hccond-hand, that tlicsc publi- 
cations were seldom or never read, is not borne out by contemporary 
allusions referring to these works and their extensive sale, running 
them through numerous editions within half a century. Moat of these 
publications afforded an endless quarry of fables and stories, always 
interesting to an orieutul reader. 

* See App I. 


we have, if not art, at least craftmansliip ; if precisely 

no work of genius, at least the hint and intimation of 

such close at hand. 

TliG Colle^'e of Fort "William which was actuallv in 

operation from May 4, 1800^ was 

Its foundation (1800) formally established on Aucnist 18 by 
and object. ' ^ ■^ 

a Minute in Council in which the 
Governor-General detailed at lenj^th the reasons for start- 
ini^ such an institution.- No sooner did Lord Wellesley 
find himself freed from the uneonQ:enial bonds of war in 
the South than he devoted himself to various measures 
of internal administration with an ardour seldom equalled 
except perhaps by Lord Bentiuck whom he so closely 
resembled. The Company's Civil Service, although it 
produced a fev7 men of first-rate ability, had sunk into the 
lowest depths of vice and ignorance. The Service had its 
origin in a mercantile staff, well-versed in the mysteries 
of the counting-house ; and its training, since the Factory 
had grown into an Empire, had not been sutRcicnt for the 
more important duties which now devolved upon it. The 
system which Burke had reprobated fifteen years ago was 
still unchanged, and lads of fifteen to eighteen were being 
sent out to India before their education could be finished, 
with no op[)(»rtunity or inducement on their arrival to 
complete it. At the close of three or four ^-ears' residence, 
the 3'oung Civilians, endowed with an atHuent income and 
unchecked authority, had not only lost the fruils of their 
European studies and gained no useful knowledge of 

' The First Term of the College commenced from Febrnary 6, 

' 'Minntcf, in Council af the Fvrt Willicnn by Ilis Excellency the 
Most Ilon'blc Marquis of Wellesley, containing his reasons for the 
establishment of a College in Bengal, dated August IS, ISOO (See 
Koebuck, op. cit. p. vi and Buchanan, op, cit. p. 8-9. 


Asiatic literature or business but were absolutely aban- 
tloneJ to pursue tlieir own iiiolinatiou without G^uidance or 
control. Of the lanijua^es and manners of the people 
whose affairs they were called upon to administer, thoy 
were not required to know even the rudiments.* The 

Minute denounced in the stronpjest 
Loni Wellcsloy's terms " the absolute insufiicieucv of 


this class of youuLi: men to execute the 
duties of any station whatsoever in the Civil Service of the 
Conii)any beyond the menial, laborious and unprofitable 
duty of a more copyin-^ clerk ". It became evident that 
there could be no substantive improvement without provi- 
dinji; a succession of men sufficiently ([ualified to conduct 
it. " Th' Civil Servants of the En^jjlish East Lulia Com- 
pany " says the Minute- " can no lonner be considered 
as the agents of a commercial concern ; they are in fact 
the ministers and officers of a powerful sovereign : they 
must now be viewed in that capacity with a reference, not 

to their nominal, but to their real occupation.' Their 

studies, the discipline of their education, their habits of 
life, their manners and morals should therefore be so 
ordered and rej^ulated as to establish a sufficient 

' It appears from the procecdiiif^s of the Govcrnor-CJcneral in 
Council dated as far back as Sep. 10, 1790 timt with it view to the 
acquiBitioii of the fudian lanj,'uape3 by the Company's writers, cucournge- 
ment was affonled by offering thorn allowance and other facilities 
(Soton-Karr, Selection from Cnl. Gmctte, ii. 213-14), but it was never 
enjoined upon theiu as a matter of duty or necessity. 

" Hoebuck, op. cit. p. iv ; Buchanan, op. cit. pp. .5-6. 

* See Setou-Karr, op. cit. vol. iii, pp. 22-23. Before the formal 
pstablisliment t>f the Collejjc, Dr. Gilchrist, an eminent Hindu.sthani 
sch'ihir, was appointed provisionally by Lord Wellesley to liud out if an 
experiment of lecturintj to yount^ Civilians could be made succcRsful. 
It succeeded splendidly, as appears from tlie Report of the Committee 
appointed to ascertain the progress made in Gilchrist's class (Roebuck, 
op. cit. pp.l-I4 ; Soton-Knrr Selections from Cut. Gatetfc,vn\. iii pp. 68-61). 
After this the scheme of Fort William College was set on foot. 



corresponJeuce between tlieir (jiialiflcations and their 
duties" The Minute then declares that " A Collese is 
hereby i'ouaded at Fort William in Eengal for tlie better 
instruction of the Junior Civil Servants of the CompaDy." 
The institution was projected on a scale of magnificence 
which marked all the plans of Lord Wollesley, but under 
the pressure of the authorities at home, who were deadly 
opposed to the institution and without whose sanction and 
acquiescence it had been set up, the College was continued 
on a reduced scale. ^ 

The range of studies marked out for the students 

in the College was very extensive 

The range of studies ; and one of its most striking features 

its orientalism. ^^^^ -^^ orientalism. The curriculum, 

subsequently modified, was intended 
to include in its grand scale ''Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit, 
Hindusthani, Bengali, Telegu, Mahratti, Tamil, Kanara", 
besides "Laws and Regulat ions. Political Economy, Modern 
Languages, Greek, Latin, English Classics, General. 
History ancient and modern, History of India, Natural 
History, Botany, Chemistry and Astronomy" 1^ The 
College was j^tronised by the Governor-General himself, 
his colleagues, and the Judges of the Supreme Court ; 
for it was considered to be one of the most important insti- 
tutions of the State and the senior members of the 
Government were required in virtue of their office 

to take a share in its management. 
Public disputations in Public disputations in oriental langu- 
oriental languages. ages were held annuallv in the jrrand 

edifice which Wellcsley had erected, 
in an august assembly, composed of men (.f high lank. 

* The College coutinued till 185t ; but since the foundation of School 
Book Society and Hindu College in 1S17, its importance was 
overshadowed and diminished. 
• Roebuck, op. cit. p. xvii. 


It woukl interest Beiidrali readers! to learu that debates 
were held in IJeng-ali and the 'subject at the First Public 
Disputation held in February 0, 1S02 was "Whether the 
Asiatics are capable of as hii;h tlejj^ree of civilisation as 
Europeans." The theses read by the students were 
published and they aflord us some oi' the earliest specimens 

of sustained prose writing at- 

Theses by tho students tempted by Europeans. We give 
of tbe College. below the theses pronounced at a 

disputation in I5engali in the Second 
Public Disputation held on March 29, 1803 by James 
Hunter, although we have, as we shall see, better specimens 
of prose-writing even before this date. This would, however, 
serve as the nverngf specimen of 'European jirose' of 
the time. There are some quaint turns of phrase?, a few 
inevitable mistakes of idiom and syntax and errors of ortho- 
graphy, and the style is a little too crude and sanseritised ; 
yet if we compare with it the contemporary prose of 
Pratapaililya C/iuri(ra (ISO I) and Lipimalu (lSO;ij, this 
specimen will hardly be at a disadvantage with them in 
many respects^. The scarcity of the publications which 

' Reports of the annual Disputations till 1819 will be found in 
detail in Roebuck, oj(. ci/. Also in Buchanan, oj<. c«7. till 1805; and 
also SCO Seton-KaiT, op. cif. p. 296 ; also in Pnmitiae Orientaleg, vols, 

* Some of the stodents of the Collopc )>ubli8hed notable works. In 
1808 Henry Sarjent, who was a distinguished student of Bengali in 
the College (See Roebnck, op. cit. pp. 178-180, 218-221) translated the 
first four books of the /Kneid or Iliad (tho first book, according to 
Long's Catalogue, came ont in 1805). Monckton, another student, 
translated Shakespeare's Tempest. {Cat. Rev. 1850, Art. Beng. Lit.). Long, 
however, followed by Dinesh-chandr* Sen, (op. cit. p. 876) inistakea the 
name of Henry Sarjent for "J. Serjeant," F'roni Roebuck op. cit. it 
appears that there was no student in tho College bearing the name 
of "J. Serjeant," and no such person, it would seem from Dodwell 
and Miles, op. cit. ever entered tho Civil Service. 


contain these theses will be a sufficient excuse for the 
leno^th of the quotation. The subject was "The Distri- 
bution of Hindus into Castes retard their progress in 

Thesis at the Second ^^^^ ^'^^ ^^^^^ ^^"^^^^^ ^^ ^^^^ W^ 

Disputation reprodnced, ^ ^-^ ^^^^ C^tC^^lW^ f%^ f%^ t?i^ 
as the average speci- 

TniLd^^^ngalf'pre ^^ ^t^^ C^ ^^t^ ^^^ ^^=^ ^^= ^^ 
of the time. ^^^_^ ^^ ^_^ ^^^^^ ^^^^^^^^^ -^^^^_ 

^^«i ^^t?:^ li^ ^'^ ^1^*1 0^^ ^f?f?i1 ^tR^tc^^ ^wc*t ^'f^ 
^■n:?r cn^t ;i^1 yi^si <^t^ ^^°s ^^ w%^ c^tc^^l f%^ f^ ^tf^^ 

I^Jfl ^^^iRt^ '^ttf^:^^ 5it^ f^jf f^Tl ^T^iTt^ ^J^«ff?I ^f^^tCf 

^^tf*rs ^^ f¥^ ^^ f^ ^^ ^f%?il ^^^ ^9|^ ^-\fi^ f^^ 
^f?(^ ^^t^ ^^1 i^t ¥fl?( ^^«s Wc^ ^^5i-« ^^ ^t^ CT 

^^t^ 5 ^"St^ "Sl^^t^ C=1TC^^1 ^C5J^ 51^^ c^t'i ^l%^1 '^t^^ 

^^^ 51^^^ ^t^^ ^f^^tc^ ^v. r^^t « ^f% ^^v ^tc^tf^^ 


:^C«tTl 'T^ '7lTt^^'5 ^<T ':J'nP ^^\^ 5tr?^=^< '?5?V{ 

c«t^ 3[t^«i 5^1 ^f^ ^5^f^ ^^ «c^ «t^ ^5^ ^r^ 

^ ^^? ^^C5it^ ^^^ ^f^ ^'ra^ ^^5i« t^ti:^ ^i^ra c^t^ "sri^ 

^*R mf^ <T^«rfc^ '^^'^f^^ 'iTc^ ^t^t^ "^f^^n ^^ ^ii; 
^^tc» ^Ri ^t^ ^f^ c^t^ c^^ "511^ ^tf%^ fk:^ ^'t ^^t^R 

f^|t 'it^^n ^^t% c^c^ c^t^ f^R^ te^l ?<! ^ c^s{ sji 

cftoi ^^',%5i ^t<i ^^°v (?i^ c^t^Q 'srf'p 'j^ ^^ ■srt'fj? 

f^<i^5f^ ^'(^ '^'r^ f9<il ^^^ ta ?q:^^ ^f%^^f^ 

'sfs. "ft? ^r«f ^^mrs s^^n ^c^ "sc^i ^'s?^ »rt:^ c^i?^ 

^t^Tt^T srrc^ ^^ ^ ^r^5t^^^ <?!^ CftPJCS ^5fiC*f^1 Tt^TTF 


f^^c^tc^^i ^f^s ^^ "*fR^^ f^»&^® «rtc^ sc^ ^s 
'it*:^ ^ ^fvf ^sj cffr-f^ f^^l s ^^T^ c^^ f^^i ^m ^s<^rtf^ 

^^:w'l(:'l srf^tTis? 9ftf%^ c^lsf^^ ^-f^ ^f^^?i ^f% jjt^i i f^"^ 
c^^sj^ lilt ifi^t^'^^ frf^c^ ^t^t^i:?^ ^f% ^f%«1 sff^^ 

2!t?t^ ; ^^ t^^%^^Ctf^ 5r^«fT ^^I ^2t?f^ "Slim (c\-\^ ^^Q 
'SfJfSf J C'^^^1 ^^t^1 '?'^t^ ^Tt^f ^1%^1 =^fl?^tr^ 5 ^^ ^t^t^W^ 

=^^Ttfi *J,^^t^ ^Z'5 it:^ f^l 9^t^W^ ^^^ ^t^ ^tc^ ^tr^ 

(?i ^^ « f^'st^l ^?j^ ^f%^^V ^ ^tc^ ^t^r« ^^^1 
^^f^'sl l^rtf^ 'sjt^ ^t^ ^^5j f^'srf^ ^srs ^^?rtc^ f^^t^ c^t^ 


^fJt^^W^ ^\^ ^^^ ^t1 ^^^ ~Q^° CT ^^ f^'SItCT C^IC^^JCW^T 

^^?f ^^?r ^*(^f% ^^ ^t^1 ^^ff ^?ic«t^ ^t^i crt r^^ 

^f^ Mf5^ C^ C^5t^^ t^t^ ''I^^i ^f^^1 C^^t^ ^\C^t^C^^1 

^T^t?^ ^tf^ ^t C^^5^1 ^t '^^t^ '^l'^'^ C^^ ^^s '^^^ 

Carey was appointed teacher of Bengali and Sanscrit 
lanuuasres'-' in April 1801. In Januarv 1, 1807 he was 

raised to the status of a Professor' 
Carey appointed and he Continued till 1831 to be the 

Teacher and Professor 

of Bengali. most notable figure in the College 

of Fort William. This ai)pointmeut 
threw Calcutta open to him as a Held of work and for the 
next tliirty years from 1801 he spent as much of his time in 
the metropolis as at .Srlram])ur. lie found the appointment 
bringing in its train responsible duties but it afforded him 
an early opportunity not only to cultivate "the beautiful 
language of Bengal" but also to enrich its literature by his 
own labours as well as by the labours of others whom he 
induced to work in the same field. He himself not only wrote 

' Primitive Oricn tales, vol. ii. 1803, pp. 67-74, containing theses 
in tho Oriental langaages pronounced at the Public Disputations by the 
Students of the College of Fort William, with translations 

' Aftcrwanifl of the Miiharatti language. 

* Roebuck, op. cit. Appendix iv, p. 52 at p. :a ; Ijucbanau, r-/'. cil. p 
23G at p. 237. 


a grammar, eom})ilei.l a dictionary, and composed text-books 
but he was at the same time the centre of the learned 
Bengahs, whom by his zeal he attracted around him as 
pundits and munsis, as inquirers and visitors. The impetus 
which he gave to Bengali learning is to be measured not 
merely by his productions or by his educational labours 
at this institution or at Sririirapur but also by the influence 
he had exerted and the example he had set before an 

admiring public who soon took up 

His influence and i^jg ^voi-]. {„ earnestness. He had 
the impetus he gave 
to literature. gathered around him a number of 

scholars who were at first his teachers 

but whom he had succeeded in employing in extensive 

literary work. Of the fifteen munsis* who taught Bensali 

in the College, the chief was his own ])undit, ^Nlrt^^uniay, 

who wrote some of the most learned and elaborate treatises 

of the time. He induced three other pundits of the 

College, Ram Basu, Rajlb-lochau and Chaudlcharan^ to 

undertake the composition of vernacular works and he always 

befriended those who took auv interest in the vernacular 

literature. It was at his sui^ijestion and encouragement 

that Mohan-prasad 'Hiakur, assistant Librarian to the 

College of Fort William, compiled his Lnglkh-Bengall 

Vocahnlary'^ (1810) which lie dedicated to Dr. Carey. It 

* Buchanan, o^ cit. p. 239. 

* A Vocabulari/ Bengali and English for the use of students, arranged 
in alphabetical order under different subjects, by Mohan Prasad 
Thakur (I8I0) ; 2nd Ed. 1815 ; 3rd Edition 1852. The Calcutta Review 
(1862) speaks of it as "exceedingly useful to all students of the Bengali 
language." On the doubtful authority of Rev. Long {Catalogue) the 
date of this book is fixed to be 1805 by Mr. Sen (Hixtory, pp. 8CG-G7). 
The copy (2nd Edition) in the library of the Board of Examiners bears 
1815 as tlie date of publication. Mohan Prasad Mas appointed 
Librarian to the College in October, 1807 (^Roebuck, op cit. App. IIL 
p. 51): so he could not have compiled this work at the suggestion of 
Carey before this date. See also Preface to liaughton's Diciwnary. 


is needles'^ to multiply exami)les of works which owed 
their orii;-iii to his sui^i^estion aud iiifhinu'e ; but these will 
o;o to show how attractive ids personality ami how extensive 
his influence had been amonjjj his collaborators in the 
field. "When the appointment was made" he writes 
on June 15, ISOl "I saw that 1 had a very impor- 
tant charije committed to me I therefore set about 

compilinf^ a grammar, which is now half printed. I got 
Ram Ram IJasu to compose a history of one of their 
kings; which we are also printing. Our Pundit' has also 
nearly translated the Sungskrit fables. . .which we are also 
going to publish. These, with Mr. Forster's Vocahnlnry^ 
will prej^are the way to reading their })Oetical books: so 
that I hope this difheulty will be gotten through."- Thus 
Carey's College-room became the centre of incessant 
literary woik as his SrTrSmpur study had been of Bible- 
translation. We can imagine the indefatigable scholar in 
ins chamber sitting with his ^lunsi for three oifonr hours 
daily mastering the language in all its complications and 
with a longing to educate the people, writing and transla- 
ting hour by hour into Bengali tongue the books whicli lie 
thought useful for tiiat purpose and NAhich contains the 
first systematic pieces of spirited Bengali prose. 

Thus, aitliough the College of Fort William was found- 
ed to fidlll a political mission, its 
The oiiontalism of „ , i „ • 

the College ; its cflcc-t. usefulness and its importance, never 

ended tiiere. Tiie im])Ptus which 
it gave, as a centre of learning and culture, to the 
cause of Vernacular language and literature, gives it a 
prominent place in the literary history of the time. No 
doubt its greatest aclnevement in tiie liistory of 

' Mrtyunjay. 

• E. Carey, OTp. cH. pp. 450-454 ; Smith, ojj. cU. p. 1G4. 



intellectual |)rogress in tliis coiintrv consists in its revival 
of the ancient cnlture of the land, its all-comprehensive 
orientalism daring far beyond the intrepid dreams of scholars 
like Sir William Jones, "Wilkins, and Colebrooke. But this 
orientalism embraced a ii:reat deal more than a mere revival 
of classical learnin<]j. Attention hitherto had never been 
turned to vernacular learning in this country which 
was in a sadlv nesrlected state at the beorinninsr of the 
century. The Colleo^e of J'ort William, by its encourage- 
ment of the vernacular, first brought it into public notice 
and fostered and nourished it. 

The list of its publications between 1800 and 18:25 
rp, ,. , » ., , eomin-ises, besides 31 works in Hindu- 

Iho list of its pub- ^ ' 

lications between 1800 sthani, 24 in Sanscrit, 20 in Arabic, 

and 1825. , • -n ■ ^i x- n • 

ana 21 in rersian, the lollowing 

principal works in Bengali' chronologically arranged. 

1801 P/ri/a/)U'h'///u CZ/ar/'/ni'' by Ram Ram Basu. 

A GronniKtr n/' fj/c Bengalee L(nuj)iage by W. Carey. 
KofJiojHiktit/niii- by AVilliam Care}'. 
Hitojjddeb translated by Golak-nath Sarma. 

' This list is based on the lists given in Roebuck, op. cit. App. 11, p. 
29 (A Catalogue of all the Oricnt.-xl works published under the patronage 
of the College of Fort William since it^s Institution in 1800 up to 
August I.'), 1818) ; in Buch.-man, op, cit. (List of books printed and 
published by the Fort William College before 1805) pp. 2I5)-23G ; in 
Primitiae Orieidules (vols.ii-iii p. xlvi), and on the enumeration in 
Long's Catalogue which, however, is not ahvnys leliable. In all 
these cases whore (with the one or two exceptions mentioned) I 
have been able to avail myself of the original editions, I have 
compared and verified the dates here given. Particulars or details 
about these works will be found in their proper places below, where 
each of them has been reviewed in its turn. 

"^ It seems to have been published a month later tlian Pratapaitit ya 


I80:J Lipimata^ by Ram Ham Basil. 

Batiib Simfiasiiii translated by Mrtyunjav Bidyii- 

1S0;3 .A'.-f(>/>'.v /'(/(^/^'.v tratislatt'd- into Benp:ali, nmlcr the 
direction and superintendence of Dr. J. Gil- 
clirist, by TarinTcharan Mitra. 

1S05 'Ci>(a Ill/ia'< translated from Persian bv Cliandi- 
cbaraii Miinsi. 
Baja Krf<nac/tiiiiilro A'az/t/r C/iarilrn by Rajib 
Loelian Mnkliopiidiivav. 

1808 Rajabdli by Mrtyunjay Hidyrilai'dvur. 
Jlltopades by Mrtyunjav Bid\rilankar. 
Ilitojmdeh^ by Ram-kisor Tarkalankar 

1812 Ili/ia-'i-tiiala^ by ^Villianl Carey. 

1813 P raljo(Ui-vfia lid ri ka^ hy Mrt\unja\ Bidyalaiikar. 
1815 Pitrus-parlkiia translated by llaraprasad Ray. 
1815-1825 A Dicdoiiari/ of Un' Bengali' Lduffnof/i'^ bv 

Wdliam Carey. Vol. L (The last volunie was published in 

' In Buchanan oyi. cd. and Primitiae Oi ientalen no name of the 
niuhor is given, but he is simply described as a "learned native in the 

* This work is also mentioned by Long bnt not in connexion with 
the publication of the Foit William Collesre. 

* M«ntioned and dated by Boebnck. 1 have not been able to obtain 
sight of this work. In the list of Pundits in the College in ISIS, Roebuck 
mentions Rani-kiijor THrkachfidanmni (appointed Xovenil)cr 1805) in 
the Bengali Department. 

* Doubtful whether a publication of the College, not officially record- 
ed to be such. 

' Published in 1R.?.3. longafter the death of the author, with a preface 
by J. >rar9hman. Hence not mentioned by Roebuck: but knonn ron- 
cluttively to be a publication for the uce of the Collcgi' from the testi- 
mony of Carey, Marshman and oth< rs. 


Barn'no^ a few independent works here and there 
these were all the best publications and the chief writers 
in Bengali between 180U and 1825.' 

Even if we leave aside publications which are in- 
directly due t<i his instigation or 

Carey's works in encouragement, it will be seen that 
Bengali. '^ 

Carey's share in the work was not 
inconsiderable. Besides the translation of the Bible and 
numerous Christian tracts, Carey's works in Bengali con- 
sist chiefly of the following books : — 

(1) A Gram mar of the Beugahe Laugvage. Printed at 
the Mission Press. Serampore. 1801. (2nd Edition' with 
alterations 1805; 3rd Ed. 1815 ; 4th Ed. 1818; 5th Ed. 


(2) KdthojiiikaiJntit, or Colloquica or Dialogues in- 
tended to facilitate the acquiring of the Bengalee Language. 
Printed at the ^Mission Press. Seramj^ore. August, 

' In Buchanan op. cit. there is a list of books printed during 1803 
or in course of publication during the year 1804, at p. 238. In it we 
find mentioned a work, of which, however, there is no record in Roe- 
buck or anywhere else, viz. Translation of the Bliagabadgltti from 
Sanscrit into Bensyali b}' Chandl Charan Munsi. It is not known 
whether it ever saw the light. In Piimit. Orient, vol. ii p. 1-li, we 
fiud the entry of another publication, long supposed to be a missionary 
publication only and not mentioned in the official records whether of 
Buchanan or of Roebuck, viz. The Old and the New Testament, 
translated into the Bengali Language, in 2 vols. It seems to be u 
reprint of the yrirampur edition, or even the identical publication, 
transferred to the list of the publications of the Fort William College. 

* The date of the 2nd Edition is given as ' before 1803' in Buchanan, 
op. cit. p. 222 ; E. Carey, op. cit. p. 474. But Grierson, Linguistic Survey, 
vol. V, pt i, p. 24 says that the 2nd edition was published in 1805; 
and Wilson {Life and Labouis (f Corey) corroborates it In the tenth 
Jfemotr of the orirampur mission, the date of the 2nd Ed. is given as 
1805. Diuesh Ch. Sen (Hist, of Be ng. Lit. p. 857) rather inaccnrately 
states that the book passed through four editions before 1855. 


1801 (3rcl m. 1818.) Ori^rinally apart of tlio Reiifjali 
Grammar. The title varies slij^litly in ililTerent editions. 

(o) Ih/ius-nialu or a colioftiuii of stories in the 
Beti^^alce lan<;iia«!;e eollccleil from various sources. Seram- 
pore. Printed at the Mission Press. 181:^. 

(4) ./ Dicfiouari/ nf llw Jifiif/afi'i' Laiif/uagey in which 
words are traced to their ori<;in and their meaninjis are 
«,'iven, in :2 vols. \ ol. 1, l81o (\ol. II, 1H:2.>). Vol I 
reprinted in 1818. The second volume is in 2 parts All 
Ben<>ali-Enu;lish.' Printed at the Mission Press. Serampore. 

Carey's enthusiiism for lienj^nli and his patient scholar- 
ship are nowhere displayed better than 

Stopo and iiiipin- i • • i / • -i i- i> i.i 

tancoof Carey's works. '" '"^ uidustnous compdatiou ot the 

Beiifjdh ( I ni III iinw and the Beiigali- 
Eiiglis/i Dictionary. This was indeed the aije of j;rammars 
and dictionaries, and the name of <.;rammarians- and 
lexicoixraphers who, after Carey, followed in the foot-steps 
of Halhed and Eorster, is leijion ; hut none of the works 

' Rev. Long in liis Retnin of the Stimes and Writings o/515 Persons 
connected with Bengali Litcrnture (p. 12.5) mentions anionp Carey's 
works a treatise or pnniplilet c-alled Letter to a Lo^kar. \i seems that 
the Addrem to a Lnnknr, wliich was written not hy Carey hut l>y 
Pearco of Birmingham, was translated by Carey (see E. Carey, "/). cit. 
]). 463; Murdoch, Cutalogue of Christian Vernacular Litera- 
ture of India, p. 5) Curoy also wrote other missionary tiniets wliich it 
is not necessary to mention here. 

' The tirst Mengaii Gnimmar l)y a nntivi- ;;rammarian is said to be 
that by Gafifja Ki.Jor Bliattilcharya, written in the form of a dialogue. 
It Was published in 1816 (Lnnf;, Catalogue). This date seems to be 
incorrect. We find the first annonremeut of tliis work in the Samachar 
Darpan (Oct. 3, INIH) fri)m which it woidd appear, in the first place, 
that the book was piibli-^^hed about I81H; and secondly, that it was not 
only a grammar but a compendium of niiscellnneous iuformaticn and 
that the portion dealing with grammar did not relate to Bengali 
language but that it was un English Grammar in Bengali. See my 
article in Buiig'tya Suhitya Pari^at Patrika, vol. xxiv, p. 164. 


of these writers excei)t perhaps Hau2:hton's Gh-min/ and 
Keith's Grammar (popularly called Ket-Byakaran) obtained 
the reputation and currency which Carey's scholarly works 

did. (Carey's Grammar was composed 
180^^' ^'■"'"'""'■' more than twenty years after Halbed's 

Grammar. Halhed'y was indeed a 
work of merit ; but in the interval that had elapsed 
between its appearance and the institution of public 
lectures in the Fort ^Villiani College, it had probably 
become scarce, and was no lonojer available for the needs 
of the students of tiie College. To Hallied indeed belongs 
the credit of first reducing to rule the construction of the 

Bengali language, and Carey must 

Indebtedness to Hal- have derived much help from him.» 
bed and Carey s origi- 
nality. But though ostensiblj modelled on 

Halhed's work, Carey's Grammar was 
altogether a new and original contribution to the scientific 
study of the language ; for Carey had an opportunity of 
"studvinu- the language with more attention and of exa- 
mininjj: its structure more closely " than had been done 
before. "Whilst acknowledging the aid he had derived 
from Halhed, Carey observes (1st Ed. 1801): 'I have 
made some distinctions and observations not noticed by 
him, particularly on the declension of nouns and verbs and 
the use of participles." In the preface to the second edition 
(1805) he says: — "Since the first edition of this work 
was published, the writer had had an opportunity of study- 
in*'- this language with more attention and of examining 
its structure more closely than he had done before. The 
result of his studies he has endeavoured to give in the 
following papers which, on account of the variations from 
the former editions, may be esteemed a new work ". The 

' E. Carey, op. cit. p. 247. 


variations alludod to above refer to the alterations aiul 
additions, particularly in the decdension and derivation of 
nouns and in the eonjui;ation of veibs, extemlinfj the 
<>;ranimar to nearly dt uble its ori<;inal size. The later 
editions, however, d<> not dill'er materially from the second 

Another merit of this 6'yv/;// ///<//• arises from the fact that 

Carey seems to have realised very early that the basis of 

the vernacular language must be sought in its classical 

T,, , . f ,i„ profjenitor : and this fact enables him 

Tlio liasis nt the 1 f^ 

lftngua{,'e and of the fo examine criticallv the ultimate 
grammar. r ^i i ' j i 

structure or tlie language and evolve 
rigid rules fixing the chaotic eolloqualism and dialectal 
variety of the vernacular into definite forms. A living 
language, however, ean never be regulated by artificial 
rules borrowed from a dead language, however closely con- 
nected they might be with ench other : and Carey, in giving 
full scope to collocjuial and temporal variations, shows 
himself fully alive to this fact. Rules of Sanscrit 
Grammar can never sufiice for the study of Bengali : 
yet one can never wholly dispense with Sanscrit (rrammar 
in framing a grammar for its vernacular off-shoot. A 
tridv scientific srrammar of Benijrali must avoid these 
extremes : and Carey, who had a wonderful knowledge of 
the vernacular as it was spoken and written as well as of 
the classical Sanscrit, suc^ei'ded to a great extent in steer- 
ing through the middle path. 

The fii'iiifali (Iriuiiniar of Carey exj)lains tl>e peculiarities 
of the Bengali alphabet and the combination of its letters : 

the declension of substantives, and 
Scope of the book. formation of derivative nouns : inflec- 
tions of adjectives and pronouns : and 
the conjugation of verbs. It gives cojiions lists and 


descrijitions of iiiileelinable verbs, adverbs, prepositions, etc., 
and closes with syntax and with an appendix of numerals 
and tables of weights and measures. The rules are com- 
prehensive, though expressed with brevity and simplicity; 
and the examples, though derived from only a few of the 
standard works, are sufficiently numerous and well-chosen. 
There are many defects and inevitable errors but they are 
sufficiently obvious and excusable to require any comment 
and do not materially affect the value of the book. The 
syntax, however, is the least satisfactorily illustrated part 
but this defect was fully remedied by a separate publica- 
tion, originally forming- a supplement, printed also in ISOl, 

of Kathnpnl-nfJinn or Dialogiies^ in 
Kathopnkathan or Bengali, with a t rauslatiou into Eng- 

Dinlngues, 1801. . . . 

lish, comprising a great variety of 
idioms and {)hrases in current Bengali. Carey's extraordi- 
nary command over colloquial Bengali is nowhere better 
exhibited. There are, no doubt, occasional lajises and 
errors of idiom* which none but a man born to the 
lan2:uao:e can easilv realise, vet the extent and variety of 

topics, the different situations, and 
Its rich vocabnlni'v ' 

of current forms and the different classes of men dealt with 

in these dialogues show not only a 
minute and sympathetic observation and familiarity with 

' Carey, however, was so very careful to ensure correctness in this 
respect that he writes in tlie Preface :" That the work nii<r!it be as 
complete as possible, I have employed some sensible natives to compose 
dialogues upon subjects of a domestic nature, and to give them pre- 
cisely in the natural style of the persons supposed to be speakers. I 
believe the imitation to be so exact that they will not only assi.^t the 
student, but furnish a considerable idea of the domestic economy of 
the country ". It will be seen therefore that the authorship of the 
entire book does not rest with him, but that the dialogues other than 
those of a domestic nature were his own. Rut even these surely reflect 
great credit on him as a scholar of Bengali. 



the daily oct-upations of the people, their manners, feelings 
and ideas but also a thoroun'h ac([uaintanee with the re- 
sources of the lan^uajijo in its ditlicult colloquial forms. 
The book is indeed a rich quarry of the idioms (and even 
of the sldjig, the class or professional shibboleth) of the 
spoken dialect of Beno-al ; and in an af^e of mere or main 
translation, of tentative accumulation of vocabulary and 
experimental adaptation of arrangement, its value is very 
ij^reat. But to this book belong^s also the credit of makinfr 

an early and oris^inal attempt to give, 

iNpichiro of social ;„ ^ ^,.,,^1^3 gemi-dramatic form, a 
hie 111 liongal. 

faithful reflection of the social life 

in Bengal as it existed a century ago. The class of 
men who are suj^j)osed to carry on these dialogues or 
colloquies ranges from that of a Shahib, a respectable 
Benirali gentleman, a merchant, azemii\dar and a Brfdiman 
priest to that of a peasant, a low class woman, a day- 
labourer, a lisherman and a bci'i'ar. The more regular 
and measured language of the upper classes is put side 
by side with the loose style and talk of uncultured women 
and the lower orders in different situations. Indepen- 
dently of its merit as a help to the aocpiisition of the 
language, this work presents in many respects a curious 
and lively picture of the manner of life led by the middle 
and lower classes. The faithfulness of this picture is 

guaranteed bv the fact that even in 
Its realism. ' , " • t . 1 x n ^i 

the present day it lias not lost all the 

force and precision of its realism. In his celebrated 
Sanscrit speech before Lord Wellesley at a public dis- 
putation of the College Carey, speaking of his knowledge 
of the country, said: "I, now an old man, have lived 
for a loner series of veai-s amon2:the Hindoos. I have been in 
the habit of preaching to multitudes daily, of discoursing 



with the lirilhmans on every subject, niul of superin- 
tendin<? schools for the instruction of the Hindoo youth. 

Their language is as familiar to me as 

of urpCople"'""'^' »ny «^^'»- 'A^hi^ ^^^'^ intercourse with 

the natives for so long a period, and 
in different parts of our empire, had afforded me oppor- 
tunities of information not inferior to those which have 
hitherto been presented to any other person. I may say 
indeed th^t their manners, customs, habits, and sentiments 
are as obvious to me as if I was myself a native."^ 

The colloquies begin with a sketch of the conversations 
of an English gentleman, his method 

Scope and arrange- c \ ■ ■ a ■ • l t 

mcnt of the work. ^f hiring servants, giving out orders, 

his desire of learning Bengali, his 

talks with his munsi etc. The preponderance of Persian 

words in these dialogues is thus explained by Carey 

himself : "A Khansama or a Sirkar, talkinsr to an 

European (and vice versa) generally intermixes his language 

with words derived from Arabic or Persian and some 

few corrupted English and Portuguese words". (Preface) 

The rest of the colloquies deal with the conversations and 

ideas, mostly of the middle and lower classes of the 

people of Bengal, living in the remote villages. The 

colloquies may be conveniently arranged thus under 

diff'erent heads of subjects : — 

(I) Conversation relating to everyday life of middle- 
class country gentlemen. (2) Talks 

The various topics of i ,1 ^ -l i^-j- p 

conversation. ^^^0"^ land, its cultivation, farming, 

produce, rent etc. (3) Talks about 

business matters e.^. between a debtor and his creditor etc. 

' Buchanan, op. ci7. Translation of the speech of Carey at p. 168 ; 
also qiiotea in Sniitli. oy. cit. pp. 167-169 ; also Roebuck, oj'. cit. 
p. 60. 


(!•) Conversation 'both in friendly and contentious style" 
between women of various types, their iijoin^ to market 
etc. (.")) General talks about eatiuijf, journeying, taking 
counsel etc. ((>) Conversation among lower classes of 
people './/. labourers, tishermen, beggars etc. 

Of the collo([uies under heads (1) and (5) which are 
the more interesting of the whole grou[), those entitled 
""^M^K^ «5C^1C^ ^tft^ ^tftC^" (A discourse of respect- 
able old people) "^§^tf^" (An agreement of marriage) 
"gj^^ Q ^^Tf^" (A priest and his customer) and the last 
c<tlIo(iuy entitled simply "^'It^^'H" (Conversation) on the 
subject of marriage between two (///nhth are the best. The 
conversation of the gfiaUtkx, although a more subdued pic- 
ture, would remind one of the (j/iitt<tks in Kilm-nanlyan's 
Kiidn-kiiJu-sar/jn.tvu. Some speeimens of uneonseious 
humour will be found in the measured formal 
speeehes of the priests (in what Carey calls "the grave 
style") as contrasted with the >imple talks of laymen. 
We give below an extract from the first-named of these 

colloquies, which throws much light 

An extract qnotc.l ^j, (),(, ^q^\^\ ]jfg j,, ^i,p village and 
III the grave stjlo " 

at the same time illustrates the more 

serious style of Carey in these dialogues : — 

^tM^ TFt^Jt^ 51FTfr ^t?Tr»f?r >Tr^^ ^r?r 'Porl '1^f?ti5W?T 

isft^ Jf^^t^ -S[\^\^ CWCf 5t^ft ^f^ ^^ ntCiT J^t^ I 

'R'Ft ^^fJiT '<H^ Cif^Jff^F ^^t^1 f^P felJ? iil9R ^ f^ 


^M^cff^ ^ f^^^«i '^t'l^l ^^^t ^tH I =it sift's [^ ^11^^ 
f^l^ ^t^<I ^^^5f c^tc^t^ ^^"^U ^^1 ^U5 f%i ^t^tf^f 

'Sffsf^i c^^ ^^<(1 9it?:^ f^ ^1 1 ^^t^ ^t^^itf 

("reputation" — Caroy) C^-^^ \ 


^t^ 5^f^^ 5^r5(?it^ ^fm fsJ^ 5tr^ ^^^ ^f%^^^ I 
f%<^*f ^^^c^ ^"5pt^ ^r^^tc^^ I 

^^t^^t^*i r^^f?r^ ^f%ft^^5^ jft^ffff ^f^^j ^c^ I 

f«R 1^ 'sraj c^rfc^ f5(?t^ *its5lt<n ^rt^^?^ -<i^ i 

^^ ^2Jt^ f^^T^ "si^s}^^ ^^5{^^ ^^ -sftf^^ f^^-R^si I 9jt^t^ 

f^Tt^^ ^15 ^T?i f^ SI'S ^f?i^%^^ ^w^ ^?:^^ ^f'f^ 

This is the specimen of the 'ijraver style', but more 

col Io(jiiial ami easy are the dialof^iK's under the heads (2) 

and (3), althouijh these collociuies, it 
Moro colloquial style " 

should he noticed, as well as those 

between English gentlemen and his servants, are iidl 

' Dialmjues intcmied lo f.iriUtntr fhc ncqiiirnnj of lite Bcngnlcc 
Lnngnngr, by W. Carer D D. Minsion Pnps 1SI8. Ist Ed pp. 66-85 ; 
3rd Ed. pp. 36-40. See also 3rd Ed. pp. 108-110 (Ist Ed. pp. 208-217) for 
the description of a marriage and tlio expenses incurred at the 


of Persian words which are comparatively absent in the 
domestic talk under other heads of subjects. Business 
matters have a languag-e of their own ; but Persian for 
a long time was the court-language and all business 

matters were transacted in that 
Preponderance of language. Not only words like sjtfil^, 

Persian words. ^ 

\5Sif^^, Sifsi^, ^5f^ which have become almost naturalised 
in Bengali but even unfamiliar words like ^5^f^^, \5^S? 
^^1, It^^, ^^]^, ^t^t^T, ^5=i.^t^, C^1?1; are frequent!}- used. 
Of the other colloquies, that on "A Landlord and his 
tenant" ("Stfsjvft^ ?[t^?Is") too long, however, for quotation 
here, is the most remarkable as giving a true picture 
of the relation between the landlords and their tenants. 
(3rdEd. pp. 88-108). 

The colloquies s})okeu by the lower orders are bound 
to be very interesting, but it is to be regretted that these 

dialogues are very short and not very 

The languago of tlie well-written and their number too 
lower orders. 

is small. The langnasre here must 

of course difPer considerably both in jironunciation and 

vocabulary from that already quoted. The following short 

extract will be found illustrative ; — 

^U? c«c5fi ^]^i^ ^\fk r^ ^ ^tf^c^ c^t^l c^H ^f^:i 1 


Tho coIIoqnip>! of women are very faitliful ami realistic, 

but some of the pictures are too gross 

iho lixii^jnapre ot j^^] |),p laiifjuajje snmetimes even 

women. " - 

borders on indecenc}'-. The ladies, 
however, who tiojure in these colloquies belon<;, it seems, 
mostly to the uncultureil lower classes : and here and 

there all Billinj^sc^ate seems to be let 

Crossness of tone \qq^q ^t once. It is true that 
and lauguaj^i.'. 

''women" as Carey says "speak a 

lan<;ua<j:e considembly differinp;' from that of the men, 

especially in their (piarrels", yet he wouM be far from 

ri<:jht if he supposes that this is the measure of women's 

talk in Beni^al. Quotations from these will not be 

' It is better to append Carey's trHnslation of this pass»ge liere. 

Finhcrman')' talk. 

Hnloo, Bheiro, will von cro a fishing ? 'Tis pottinir lifrht. I calii'il : 
Yon was asleep. 

Aye, aye, this is an e.xcnse. Ilaii ; it rains : is it time to go to the 
nets now ? Go yon to no purpose. I won't go now. Yesterday I went 
long before light : by so doing I did not. get fish t<> oat, and totlay it 

Yes, brother, my work won't po no by the fear of clouds. Shall I 
bo able to clothe and feed my wife and children thns ? I see 3' on 
have a body formed for ease. {Dialoguci', lnt Kd pp. 1 10 et seq ; 
3rd K.l. pp. 56-.'i7.) 

1 Possibly these ilialopues were writton by the"8ensil)lo natives" 
whom Carey employed (lidennlc, footnote p. 13fi) and who might have 
misled him. See especially the colloquy headed "TtTT) T*fS1" (Women's 
Quarrels) bofdnning with "^fsi C^t*(t5 pT5tf^5lt *tr5lC^t^*' (Dinlogue*. 
Ist Ed. pp 15(5.164 ; 3rd Ed. p. 82. et seq.) 


welcome but here is one dialos^ue in the "friendly style" 

suflieientlv harmless and representa- 
A finer picture. ' * 

tive wheri'in the ladies seem to 
belons: the middle class : — 

c^^R m^ ^U ^^ ^rt^ f^ ^tc^^ 51 « I 

en '-^^^ c^t^ ^t(:^ ^t ^<ft^ "^^^ ^"^ ^^'^ "^^ ^ 

^^c^ ^f^ ws 1 

^^ en c^^^ ^»H ^itt^ ^^ ^^^1 1^,^ "^ ^^^ ^1 1 
^^ «t^ c^^ cst^ ^t^Ti f^^Tt^t^ en^ ^mi ^c^ i 
t1 ^1 ^^^ 1 ^t^rt^ ^t^Tl f^^ ^t^ ^^tf^ ^t^ 'it^ en 
^M^^f!:^ ^€^t^ e^rtrt^ i 

^^ "^t^ 5it^^1 f^ ^t^ ^5 ^5 ^^ ^^ ^f^u«:f ^ ^t^T^ 


^^ «t^ ^'11 ^9 c^^ ^-^ "srt^ ^t^it^^^^ f^ 'sjtJftj 

^ ^^^ I ^t >i^-^^ ^^ cst^ ^t^rl fn^Tl 5^c^ I 
^tf^ c^ .»tt ^'^ cm\ ^^fe ^t^Hc'?! 11^^1 c^^ ^t^ 

^? c^ '^^U Tt'^ft^ fvff% ^"51 ^f^^ ^^ I 

^tf^ ^'j^ c^l c^t^ c^ ^l%rrf^5i ^^^ 5ic?jT ^3it^ 

»t^?^C»f^ ^tft 'Tt^ f^ "51^1 ^^^ -tm ^t^t^^:^^ 'ftC^ 

5rt^ 5^ %t^ f^rs ntf?ic^ -sTtf?! j^-s^ -rtl fw^ ^^ 

^Pf^ f^t efs^ ^^-si wrsi g^t*tt^ =5p55^ 1^1 ^f^ 5|5^^'H1 


sit^jt^ f-i^t^^^ c^pm ^t«^ ^^^t^^ cffc»t^ 5ic5(j ^] 

This is indeed a fine piece but the IFoweii^.s QtKirrrJ.s 
are not so attractive. Critics have found fault with Carey 
the missionary for givin«j these latter gross colloquies a 
place in his book which was intended to be a text-book 
for young civilian students: but fastidious considerations 
apart, these dialogues certainly exhibit the true picture of 
a certain tjpe or class in every society, interesting to the 
student of the drama, novel, or social history. A strong 
tendency to objective realism in Carey demanded a vcrbalim 

reproduction of the language of the 
Its intense realism people; had he listened to his 

both 111 its form and '^ '- 

spirit. missionary scruples, the picture, like 

Johnson's in 7i''A/.v, would have 

been unnatural or imperfect. In this respect Carey has 

been called, not unwisely or too enthusiastically, the 

spiritual father of Tek-chand, and 
The significance of ' i i . 

the book. Carey of Dinabaudhu. lliat Carey had hne 

the Du.ioyu.s is the (jj-^^^atic instincts, which if developed 

spiritual ratlier ot ' i 

Tek-chaml and Dina- would liavo bornc better fruits, and 
baudhu. ^i , i . 

that he was more tlian a mere 

compiler, has been put beyond all doubts by the Colloquies 

Dialogue!^, 1st Ed. pp. 148-156 ; 3rd Ed. pp. 76-82. 


which, to the stiulent of Bengali, is more than a mere 
treatise "intended to fiicilifati' the aciiuirinu;' of tho 

\\'e iiave dwelt rather too long on Carey's DlalmjneH 

but the importance of the book in the light of 

subsequent history can never be ignored. With regard to 

the style and language of all these dialogues it should bi' 

noticed that here we have, at the outset, the first trace of 

the opposition between the plain and 

The struggle between the oruate styles in prose which is to 
tliu jd.iiu ami tlio oi- . 

natc style lirst begun. dominate the rest of its history and 

reach to a crisis in the opposition of 
the 'Alali style' and the 'Sanscrit College style' of the fifties. 
We shall have occasion to come back to this point here- 
after ; but it is to be noted here that this perpetuall}' 
recurring antinomy in the history of jn'ose style was for 
the first time clearly posed and dellnitely worked out by 
Carey's simple collotjuial prose on the one side, and the 
elaborate diction of the Pundits, especially of Mrtyufijay, 
on the other. 

The best example of a chaste and simple style, more 

dignified than the C0II04 uial prose of the Dififof/nrx, more 

pure and correct than the prose of Ram Rfim Ba^u or 

Chandi charan, yet less affected than the ornate and 

,.1- -.- 10,0 laboin-ed stvle of Mrtyufijay, is to be 

ltiha»-mala, 1812. " ■ J J J' 

found in ths Ififiux-nnila. of Carey, 
wdiich chronologically, however, comes after almost all 
the important Bengali publications of the Fort William 
College, except Piahnilh-chauAiika and Piini!*-jjin''iki*u, and*iucntIy hiul the advantnge of having got more time for 
maturing in the meanwhile. It was printed and j)ubli.shed 
in Srlrampur in 1812, and, as its name implies, it is "a 
collection of stories in the Bengali language, collected 



from varioiLs sources". The book contains 150 stories/ 
derived not only from books of fables and folk-lore, 
eastern and western, but also from past literature, 
legends, and history. There are, for instance, besides 
tales from Ililopade's or Paiichn-faiiiro, the well-known 
story of Lahanli and Khullaua- as well as an anecdote of 
Akbar^. The stories are very amusing and instructive ; 
but the book consists mostly of translation and its interest 
chiefly lies in its simple homely prose style. It is difficult 
to select a specimen for space would not allow us to quote 

more than one. The following: 

Specimen of its pure extract will be found interesting not 
and simple style. ^ 

onlv for its stvle but also for the 
touch of humour whicii is rather rare in these early 
works* — 

RTt^ ^^C^ ^f^^t^ "*f^ C^ ^f^ ^^ ^t^ ¥'11 '-^^ I 

^ffTs '^m :5t^«i ^^ ^^^< ^^^ ^f^rs ^tRm i ^J13 ^^c^^ 

^%^<p ^tfsj 7\^ f^TtC^^ CTfsr^^l ¥f%^1 5fC^t1f#^ ¥f^^1 

' Distributed o%'er 320 pages. 

= Itihas.mala, p, 240. 

» ibid, p. 314. 

* ibid, story 16, pp. 37-4U. 


^ 5(1 1 ^Tt^ ^fe?i^ 'sitfsi ^'f f^ ^tr?r ^g 'afc^ 
^t^c«t^ fj^^c^ ^lf^^ ^r?fc^ :3t^«i ^'f ^t?i1 ^r^c^^ ^t 

^c^ "Sff^^t^ c^i »f"55 T\^ ^^\^^ ^r^^ 1 ^c^ 2iHi ^r^?i ^f^ 

^ttt r^?n ^^ 5rtf^ ^f! ^^ 5Tr?l ?t^^ ^^ 'l^ 1^ 9 •> ^^ 
^i^gl C^^ ^T|g c^t '^tc^ ^f^5l '^[i^ :3t^1 ^^ ^f^^ 

to<f I ^ni ^c^^ ^R« ^%T o\fT!Ki ?itf^f^ lf^?:«(T 

Cff^^ "SICS^^ ^^f^ "Sls^ ^f^J ^f^q ^fi( 'srt^rr^ f^^tC^lT 

gt^'ic^ "5(^51^ "si'f fff^ 2r«itJf ^r^?n (71^ ^^ c'l^i I 

A moiv hiborious ainl inijiMrtant |iubIiealiou was 

eCfectcd at a later date hy Carey in 

Carey's Benjrali Die- i^jg famous Dirfiouan/ of I /if Br,u,„f,r 

LfDif/iiiigt- in two (Hiarto volumes. With 
hardly a model before Iiini pxeoj>t Eor^ler's Vt„'<iliiJ,irii 


or Miller's iJicfioiian/,^ neither of which is hardly 
complete in itself, Carey achieved this useful and scholarl}' 
work after a laboar of thirty years and it deserves all the 
praise that has been bestowed upon it. Though, like his 
Gi'fnnnKir, it hardly beloni^s to the province of literature 
pure or proper, this book did much in stimulating the 
cause of literature and fixing the forms and expressions of 
the language, and for a long time it continued to be the 
standard work on the subject. The first volume was 
published in ]81o ; but the typographical form adopted 
being found likely to extend the Avork to an inconvenient 
size, it was subsequently re2)rinted in 1818 ; a second 
volunu' in two parts appeared by 18:2.5. These three 
volumes comprehend about 2,000 quarto pages and about 
80,000 words-, a number that e([ually denotes the 
copiousness of the languag<> and the industry of the 
compiler. Besides the meaning of words, their derivation 
is given where-ever ascertainable. This is almost alwajs 
the case as a great many of the words included are Sanscrit 
or Sauscritic. Halhed {GraiiniKir, Preface, p. xx) had long 
since maintained "the impossibility of learning the Bengali 
dialect without a general and comprehensive idea of the 
Sanscrit" on account of the close and intimate relation 
between the two. Eollowing him, Carey himself always 
regarded Sanscrit as "the parent of nearly all the colloquial 
dialects of India"^ and "the current medium of conversa- 
tion amongst the Hindoos, until gradually corrupted b}' a 
number of local causes, so as to form the languages at 

' Said to be published in ISOl. (Lone's Catalogue). 

- Forstcr's Yocahnlarxj contained onl}' 18,000 words. Carey, how- 
ever, acknowledges liis indebtedness to Forster in the Preface to his 

' Preface to Sanscrit Grammar. 1806. 


proseiit spoken in tlic various part of lliiuloosthan :iiiil 
perhaps those of some of the neighbouring countries"'. 
Carey, therefore, observes with re;j;ar(l to the materials ol' 
his Didionary that "consitlerably more than three-fourths 
of the words are pure Sungskrit, and those comj)osinu; the 
greatest part of the remainder are so little corrupted that 
their origin may be traced without dillieulty". lie also 
states that he has endeavoured to introduce into the 
Dicd'oiniri/ every simple word used in the language and all 
the compound terms which are commonly current or which 
are to be found in the standard Bengali works. It may be 
thought indeed that in the latter respect he has been more 
scrupulous than it was absolutely necessary and has inserted 
compounds which might li;i\i' briMi dis))ensed with, their 
analysis being obvious and their elements being explained 
in tlieir appro|)riate places. The Jjiclioiiari/ also includes 
many derivative terms and privative, attributive, and 
abstract nouns which^ though of legitimate construction, 
may rarely occur in composition and are of palpable signi- 
tication. The instances of such, although they swell thr 
dictionary into an inconvenient and costly bulk, evince at 
the same time the compiler's careful research, his conscien- 
tious exactitude, and his unwearied industry. The English 
eijuivalents of the Bengali words are wdi-chosen and arc 
of un(|UcstionabIe accuracy-'. Local terms arc rendered 
with that correctness which Carey's knowledge of the 
manners of the people and his long domestication amongst 
them enabled him to attain; and his scientific acijuire- 
ments and familiarity with the subjects of natural liis- 
tory (jualilicd him to emjdoy, and not tinfrecpicntly to 

' Preface to Bewjali Dictionary, 1818. 

* See II. H. Wilson, Remarks on the Character and Labours oj Dr. 
Carey as an Oriental Scholar and Tranflator, 


devise, characteristic deuonii nations for the products of 
the animal and vesjctablc world peculiar to the East. 
The objection taken to this Dictionnry on account of 
its bulk, was subsequently removed by the publication 

of an abridgement, pre][)ared under 
Marshmaii's abridge- Qarev's owu superintendence bv J. 

mcnt, 182 <• ■ ^ 

Marshman and printed in 18:27 ^ 

Most of the compound and derivative terms were omitted 

and the publication was reduced to a thick octavo volume. 

Although this abridgement has the advantage of being 

more readily consulted, it does not however by any means 

obviate the necessity of the original which must be 

reo-arded as a standard work on the subject until replaced 

by a better one. 

In order to make a final estimate of Carey's position 

in the history of modern i?cngali literature it would be 

necessary to take into account other 

Estimate of the writers who llourished in this period 

labours and character ^,^j ^^^j^l^ respcct to whom his posi- 
of Carey as a Avriter '■ ^ 

of Bengali. tion must be determined; j^et it is 

hoped that a few words here would 
not be out of place. It mav be observed that Carev never 
claimed anvthin<i' for himself save the credit of having 
worked zealously and assiduously. He said to his nephew 
Eustace, his future biographer : " If after my removal 
anv one should think it worth while to write mv life, I 
will give you a criterion by which you may judge of its 

correctness. If he give me credit 

His self-estimate; j ^- ^ plodder he will describe 
how iar true. ^ ^ 

me justly. Anything beyond this 

' This i.*! in 2 vols. The first volume is an abridgement of the preceding 
Dictionanj of Carey (Bengali-English) ; the second is a Dictionary, 
English and Bengali, compiled by J. C. Marshman. 1st Ed, vol. I, 1827 : 
vol. II, 1828; 4th Ed. 1847. 


will be too much. I can ploil. I can persevere in any 
definite pursjiiit. To this I owe everythinj^' ." There is 
indeed some truth in this .self-estimate but the modesty 
of the scholar precludes him lioin ascertaining; the true 
value of his life's work. A i)lodder he was but how very 
few can plotl in the way he did ; and this self-dero«j^atory 
e[)ithet is not the last word to chai-acterise his many-sided 

It cannot be denied at the outset that Carey had 

a clear, vi<jjorous intellect ; he was a man of no 

ordinary ])owers of mind : capable of strenuous and 

enduring application ; many-sided, his tastes were varied 

and his attainment vast. But, even admittintjf all 

this, it must be observed that he had no imatjination, no 

philosophic insight, no splendid native endowments of 

any sort. Hardly any of his writin«^s can be strictly 

called a work of genius. He 

Whether he was a niodestlv introduces himself in the 
mere compiler and '' 

translator. Preface to his Dialogues as a mere 

compiler, one who paves the way and 

leads the student to the higher classical works in the 

lanjruase. " The ureat want of books " says he " to 

assist in ac<[uiring this language, wiiich is current through 

an extent of country nearly e(pial to Great Britain, 

which, when properly cultivated, will be inferior to none 

in elegance and perspicuity, has induced me to compile 

this small work : and to undertake the publishing of two 

or three more, principally translations from the Sungskrit. 

These will form a regular series of books in the Bengalee, 

gradually becoming more and more difficult, till the 

student is introduced to the highest classical works in 

' E. Carey, op. cH p. ♦>2.3 ; also quoted in Dr. Culross's Wiilinm Cnrey, 
p. 5. 



the Janj^fuage ". This was his main object in writing 
BengaH books : he was never inspired by any literary 
enthusiasm or artistic impulse of creation. His language 
and his interests are perfectly definite and practical ; 

there is hardly an}- touch of elevation 

Want of oritiinalitv j.i. i. i. c -i.* „.u 

and creative power. ' ^^ attempt at fine writing anywhere. 

That he was capable of better things, 
is, as we have already pointed out, obvious from his 
Dialognefi: yet even this work was meant chiefly as a 
text-book, and as such it hardly afforded many oppor- 
tunities for the display of his inherent literary powers. 
Most of his other writings consists of translation or com- 
pilation. But, although even in translation a capable 
artist has scope for his originality, in Carey's case the 
translations may be suspected to be pretty closely copied 
from the texts : there is no native literary aspiration to 
be free and original. Vet, after all is said, it must be 
admitted that whatever talent could achieve without 
genius, Carey did accomplish. If he wrote no great 
imaginative work, he at least prepared the way for the 
writing of such. We need not lament over the want of ori- 
ginality so conspicuous in his writings : for in the special 
circumstances it makes far more for his honour than for 
his depreciation. His literary work was inspired not 

by any desire of fame nor by any 

The valno and signi- ,jgp(| ^f satisfying a peremptory 
ncance of his traiiH- j r^ i i j 

lation personal craving to write, but wholly 

and solely by the wish of what he 

thought to be benefitting the people, of doing something 

that might hel[) the country out of the slough of decadence 

into which it had been plunged by centuries of foreign 

rule, least favourable to the development of national 

life or literature. To this end, it would have been not 

merely presumptuous but, in the circumstances and the 


time, positively silly to have attempted ori<ijinal composi- 
tion which was likely to be little read ami little undeii?tood 

What then is his place ? He luul no orijrinality as 
a worker in literature and no creative 

literature^" '" ""^" ' po^^t^f- l^^>t he was a jijood reproducer 

of kuowledije ; and as an educator of 
the nation, his work and his influence were alike very great. 

Discouraged 1>\ the authorities and 

As aa educator. i i.i /-^ r ii i. i . 

under the Lompany liable to deporta- 
tion, he and his colleagues devoted themselves with 
courage to evangelisation and study of the vernacular. Of 
this, we shall have occasion to speak more in detail ; but 
it is chiefly for this educational [»urpose, as an indirect 
means of evangelisation, that his books were written. 
They are all rudimentary no doubt but to them belongs 
the merit of first reducing to a system the chaotic collo- 
quialism of the Bengali tongue. Knowing full well that 
the literature of a nation in the long run must be of 
indigenous growth, he at once pressed into service Bengali 

scholars and writers. By his own 

As a writer and :i exertions as well as bv those of oth-.-rs 
centre of influence. 

which he instigated or superintended, 

he left not only the students of the language well provided 

with elementary books, but sui)plied standard compositions 

in prose for the native writers of Bengali, and laid the 

foundation of a cultivated ])rose style and a flourishing 

literature throughout the country. It cannot indeed l)e 

said that Carey and his colleagues have " rai^etl Bengali 

to the rank of a literary dialect " as the Jesuits of Madras 

are said to have done to the lan;;uat'e of the South. ' None 

' Hunter, Indian Empire, p. 364. In the itanio strain Smith, the 
enthusiastic bioj;fraphor of Carey, says " for the Benpili-speaking race, 
William Carey created a literary language a century ajjo." (op. cit. 
p. 186). rtde ante p. 61. 


of the works of these missionaries is aeknowledo^ed to-day as 
classical by Benf^ali authors or Bengali readers ; and Bengal 
had a language and literature of its own long before the- 
missionaries even dreamt of coming out to this country ; 
yet this language had decayed and the literature had been 
forgotten. It was at this time that Carey came to Bengal. 
In order to understand what he did for literature we must 
recollect in what state he had found it when he made the 
first start. There was hardly any printed book ; manus- 
cripts were rare ; and all artistic impulse or literary tradi- 
tion was almost extinct. To Carey 
The character and belongs the credit of having raised 

object of his work. ^ '^ 

the language from its debased condi- 
tion of an unsettled dialect to the character of a regular 
and permanent form of speech, capable, as in the past, of 
becoming the refined and comprehensive vehicle of a great 
literature in the future. Poetry there was enough in 
ancient literature; there was a rudiment of prose too, not 
widely known or cultivated. But Carey's was indeed one 
of the earliest attempts to write simple and regular prose 
for the expression of everyday thoughts of the nation. 
Other writers contemporaneous with him, like Riim Basu, 
or Mrtyufijay took Persian or Sanscrit as their model and 
their prose in consequence became somewhat (piaint, affected 

and elaborate; but the striking feature 
Carey's prose. , . . . , 

or Carey s prose is its sim])iicity. it 

is pervaded b\- a strong desire for clearness and for use, 

and by a love of the language itself. It succeeds in being 

clear and useful and it pleases by force of these elements. 

It is true that, in spite of all this, Carey must be 

admitted to have been in literature still a learner, not a 

master, in any sense ; but we must not in our haste forget 

the pioneer who did the spade-work and paved the way for 

later glories. Such a pioneer Carey was, and eminently 


fitted for this task he was by his acquirements as well as 
by his i)Ositiou. 

We have seen that Carey not only wrote in Bcnf:jali 
himself, but with his intlnenee in tlu' Fort William Colleirt-' 

and reputation as a liengali scholar, 

A frieiul of Bengali ^nd friend of Hi-ni>-ali writers, he 

succeeded in inducinii' many learned 

Ben«;alis to the promotion and preparation of i^ood Ben<^ali 

works. "With the aid of the Press at I'^rirumpur and the 

collal>oration of his colleagues, and in subordination to its 

special purpose of multiplying copies 

The PresB at Srira.n. ^f ^^c Bengali Bible, he devoted him- 
pur and its encourage- 
ment of native talent, self to the printing, as we shall see, 

of the first efPorts of native literary 
talent. From 1801 to 1825 many useful works in Bengali 
as well as in other languages* issued from the ^lission 
Press at Srirllmpur. to most of which Carey contributed 
encouragement and aid. Many of the older Bengali classics 
were printed at the Mission and made accessible to the read- 
ing public. The editions of the liamli/an of Krttibas and the 
Annadainaiigal of Bhilrat-ehandra, j)ublishe<.l through the 
zeal of Carey, remained for a long time the standard texts 

' In the Appendix to the Tenth Memoir, relative to 8rlr5nipur 
translations (1832) is given a review of the work of the Mission since 
its commencenicnt. It is shown that two hundred and twelve thousand 
volumes in forty different languages at a cost cf over £80,000 have 
been issued between 1801 and 1832. The Mission was practically the 
Grst in the 6eld in its assiduous study of the different dialects and 
languages of India. In the Sixth yicmoir (dated March, 1810) we find 
34 specimens of 33 Indian languages given. The wliolo discussion, 
Grierson points out {Indian Anliqtiary, 1903, p. 246), is the first 
systematic survey of the languages of India. Before this, Gilchrist 
in his Oriental Fabulist (1805) had attempted to give a jwlyglot versioji 
of .^sop's fables : but he confined himself to giving specimens only 
in six languages including the classical Sanscrit and Arabic. 


of these ancient works. The promotion of Beno^ali litera- 
ture thus effected by the example and impulse of the Press 
of Srirampur had been very important, although after 
1825 it became less necessary because of numerous printing 
press springing up in Calcutta for the promotion of indige- 
nous talent. But this alteration of the state of things 
after 1825 is itself due mainly to the example and influence 
of Carey and the missionaries at Srirampur. 

Nothing would be more fitting to close this perfunc- 
tory estimate of Carey and his works than the high tribute 
paid to Carey by a competent authority, the celebrated 

lexicographer and scholar. Ram Kamal 

The tribute of Ram gen. "I must acknowledge here" 
Kamal Sen. . ^ . 

he says in the Preface to his Bengali- 
English Biciionart/ (1830), ''that whatever has been done 
towards the revival of the Bengali language, its improve- 
ment, and in fact, the establishment of it as a language, 
must be attributed to that excellent man, Dr. Carey, and his 
colleagues, by whose liberality and great exertions, many 
works have been carried through the press, and the general 
tone of the language of this province has been so greatly 


The Pl'.vdits and Minsis of the 
Fort William College. 

After William Carey the next writer of importance, 

who composed two of the earliest original works in 

Benj'ali prose, was Ram Kam Basu. 
Ram Ram Basn. , v, ■ 

who unlike Carey was a native of 
Bengal, born at Chinsui-ah towards the end of the 
18th century and educated at the village of Nimteh 
in the 'Zi Pergunnahs. lie was a Bangaja Kayastha, 
as is indicated in his Pratapadili/u C/iaritra. To (piote 

Dr. Carey's account, "Rim Bos€ 
His ropntntion and Vjefoie he attained his sixteenth 

Ins appwDintinent in the 

College. year became a perfect master of 

Persian and Arabic. His know- 
ledge of Sungskrit was not less worthy of note." * Such 
was his reputation for proficiency in these languages 
that Carey s|)eaks of" him :i<lmiringly "a more devout 
scholar than him I did never see -." It was this 
reputation ftir learning which secured to him not onlv 
the jx)st of a Pundit ' in the College of Fort William 

' Original Papert of Carey m the care ofSerampore Mis$ionary 
Library, quoted in N. Rjly's Protapadityn Charitra p. 185. 

' Buchanan, op. cit. speaks of him as "a learned native" ; Marsh- 
man, op. cit. describes him as "one of the most accomplished Bengali 
scholars of the day." 

' Carey says that Rum Basu resigned his ap|K)intnicnt through a 
difference of opinion with the autliorities of the College. The date 
of his resignation however cannot he determined. In Roebuck, op. 
ctt. (which was pnhlishcd in 1819) we do not find RUm Basu's name 
in the list of the Bengali Pundits ; on the other hand in Buchanan, 
op. cit. (published 1805) he is described as "a learned native in th« 
College." He must have resigned some where between 1805 and 1816. 


ill 1801 but also the friendship of Raja Ram-mohan 
Ray, himself a learned man, who is said by Carey to 

have exercised great influence on Ram 

MohJn My. ""^ ^*'" ^^s"'s life ^"^1 character and mould- 

ed his literary aspirations. It should 
be noted here that Ram-mohan, according to some, was 
the author of the first original prose treatise in Bengali ; 
because his Bengali work on Monotheism ( f^^^t^ 
C^Ti^of^^^^ i^tf^^t^f) was, according to himself, written 
when he was only sixteen, and supposing him to be 
born in i774, or even, according to others, as late as 
1780, the book must have been written before an}- of 
the publications of the Fort William College or of the 
orirampur Press issued. But this book meant for 
private circulation was never printed or published, and 
Riim-mohan's earliest publication in Bengali was in 1815. 

It seems therefore that Ram Basu's 
tion'Ts "r'LSiet position a, the first native original 

original writer of writer ill modern Bengali prose still, 
Bengali prose. m i i 

after all, remains unassailable. But 

the influence of Ram-mohan's unpublished work, which 

Ram Basu is said to have taken as his model, can never 

be disputed ; and it was from the learned Raja that 

Ram Basu got the first impulse to write in Bengali. 

Carey reports to have heard that Ram Ram took the 

manuscripts of his lirst work, Pralapai^H^a C/iarilra 

to Ram-mohan, and got it thoroughly revised by him ^ 

1 Ram Basu's Attack on Brahmins (called simply on Brahmins 
in Murdoch, Catalogue) as well as his other writings show that 
he shared many of his views with his friend and master, Ram- 
mohan. In BamjTila Samayik Sahitya (1917), vol. 1. p. 25, this 
work of Riim Basu on Brahmins is called SitWtW^ and the date 
given is 1801. Speaking of this work, Marshman op. cit. says that in 
it "he exposed the absurdities of Hinduism and the pretension of its 
priest-hood with great severity" and pays him the compliment of 


Altliough the intluence of the Kfijil was so great on 
him, Ram lius>u was at the same tiim- a «^ieat frieml 
of the Missionaries, consorted for many years with 
Thomas, ami was for some time Carey's Miinsi. 

From whatever source the impetus might have come, 

Kam Basu wrote two imiiortant 
His works. • ■ i • i» 

original works in Bengali under the 

patronage of the Fort William College — 

1. RujU. Fratapaditi/n C/iaritra,^ ISOl, July ; 
•I. Lipimala, 1802. 

Pratapaditi/ii C/hirilra - is said to be ''the tirst prose 

work and the first historical one 

ritra'imi. ' ^^ " ^^^^ ai>peaivd" (Long's Cafdhguf). 

Its claim to be considered as 

having "wieldeil tlie power of sarcasm inhiMent in iho lauffuage 
with sin^alar effect." He was almost on the verge of avowing 
Christianity (See Culross, np. cit. pp. fil-fi2) hut was po.<»8ihIy deterred 
by Rtlm-mohan. Rum Ram Basn is said to have written also a book 

called f| 5|%U in 1801 or the Immortal History of Christ in Verge 


12 mo. 25 pp. Mnrdoch, Catalogue, however, dates it at about 1810. 

' This work like Kr»iuichnndra Ruyer Charitra was written at 
the inducement of Dr. Carey. Ram Basu helped Carey in his 
translation of the Rible (see footnote to p. WA. See vAao Calcutta 
Revieic, vol. x p. 134.) RSm Rnsu wrote, besides the works mentioned 
above, a Chri.stian tract called the Gospel ile^geiiger, which is 
mentioned by Long. The description of this tract is thus given 
in Murdoch, Catalogue ; "Three months later (i.e. June 1800) a 
Tract was printed under the title of the 'Gosjiel Messenger,' which 
was written 'to usher in the Bible.' This little book containc<l a 
h'unlreil linos in Bengali verse. The writer, Rilm R/lni Basu. had been 
C'lnvinced of the truth of Christianity throngh the instruction of 
Mr Thomas. 'The Gospel Messenger' was the first thoroughly native 
tract printed in Bengali." (op cit. p 4-5) See also Smith, op. cit. 
p, 203 ; Marshman, Hint, of 9eramp. Ming. pp. 131-132. 

» The title-page says : TtBfl ^f^tttr^ b\\>[U I f^f^ ^J\ "f^PStR 

vw:j^ ^t^^ I n'fVR ^w^VT^ ^rsr:^ ! ^ ^t^ ^th ^fFs I 5?t'i*ini 


the first piece of original prose work we have briefly 
discussed. As an historical work, too, its place is very 
hi^h. In the description of" it <^iven in Buchanan's 
College of Fori WiUiarn (1805), it is said to have been 
"composed from authentic documents^' and Ham Basu 
himself at the bei2:inning of his book says : 3^°^!% ^^t^^g 

f^^^«i f^f^ts"^ ^t^^T ^t^ 5if^ 'Sftrf 

As the first histori- . .. _ . . .^ vC ^c- 

calwork in Bengali ^^'mM'>\ m^fftt^ ^^ ^tf^ 

^5rrs{^ ^f^^ ^t^ ^^x ^rr^ ^t^ ^c^^ i^T^t^t^ 

^'Tf-^ITt^ ^^1^^ ^tf^ll^ 'srff^^JI -^\W.^^ ^ W^T (TJ^^ 

<5ft^t^ ^F"® "srtt^ ^tf^^fl c^'^l ^tr«c^ 1 ^ It 

seems therefore that this work — one of the very few 
treatises on a little-known period of history — is based 
upon both authentic history and tradition ; but the 
learned pundit seems to have taken every precaution to 

^tl ^51 I ib-oi I The History of Roja Pritapadityu By Ram Ham 
Boshoo one of Pundits in the College of Fort William. Soraniiiore. 
Printed at the Mission Press. 1802. pp l-lo6. Entered with identicnl 
date, place of pnblication and name of the author in the Catalogue 
of the Lihrary <f the lion. East India Company 1845, p. 195. An 
excellent edition of this work, which had been out of ]iriiit since 
the first edition in 1801, has been brought out by Nikhiluath 
Ray under the auspices of the Siihitya Parisat. It is needless to 
say that I am inuoli indebted for some biographical and other 
informations to this edition ; but witli regard to the extracts 
quoted, I ha^'e carefully compared the text given here with that 
in the first edition, as I find it in the copy of the work lent to 
mc by the Library of the Board of Examiners. Tlie references 
are given to both the original as well as to N. Ray's edition as the 
latter is more easily procurable. The page-reference given here in the 
text is, in the first place, to the 1st edition (Library of Board of 
Examiners) and then to N. Ray's edition. 

' ?t5l 4f^*1tfV5T^fM, pp. 3-4 ; p. 1. 


make it a truly liistorical work, as far as possible. 
Competent critics have pronounced tliis work to be 
genuinely historical, in spite of its occasional aberrations 
line to hasty shiftiui; of i^ossij) and fact. The scanty 
facts and abundant fancies as to \ho life of l*ratapaditya 
are a common-place of history. But leaving aside 
guess-work and speaking of certainties, modern research 
has been able to make little additions to wiiat Ram Basu 
has written a century ago.' \Vliatever might be the 
value of his historical conclusions, however, we are bound 
to admit at least that the book evinces a careful historical 
treatment and a truly historical spirit although the work 
is not history in the i)roper sense of the term. This treatment 
and this spirit were hitherto unknown. There are indeed 
a few so-called biographical and historical works in 
ancient Bengali literature, such as Cliai(inii/a Bhagabat 
or ChaHanya Chitrilamrta, but these works, written in 
verse, are, in tone and subject, more religious than 
historical, and ostensibly modelled on the ancient 
Pinanax. It is true tiiat as contemporaneous record of 
society reflected in them, these works may supply mate- 
terials to a historian but the works themselves can hanlly 
be called historical. Indeed to KSm Ram we must give 
the credit of being the first Bengali prose-writer who 
attempted to write history in the sense in which it 
is taken to-day.- The story is given in a connected 

' See Xikliil N5th Ray's Edition p. 109, where tho claim of 
this work as a piece of history is discussed. 

' There nie occasional tonches of cxiiggeration or fancifulness, 
pcculisir to oriental, especially Persian, writers ; but tlippc are p»m- 
donal)le cnouifh {e.g. his description of ^n>i1ci>^ *lfl etc). The 
book, however, was so hit^hiy rci^rdod that it was translated from 
oripinnl Bengali into the Marhattn language in 1816 (Roebuck op. cit. 
App. II.,) and re-wtittcn by Ilarifi Chandra Tarkalaiikar in 1853 


and interestni^ manner, enlivened by visual pictures 

descriptions, and anecdotes ; and 

„- „ Ram Basu's i)Ower of representing^ 

Ram Hasu as an ' i r> 

historian. historical incidents, without being dry 

or discursive, is undoubted. As a 
pioneer in the field this is a high compliment indeed. His 
is the plain narrative style, suited to his work, with 
little embellishments (except by way of goro^eous descrip- 
tions) or suo^gestiveness, but marked with a certain 
interesting idiosyncracy of character in spirit and form. 

It is not possible to give too many 

An illustrativo extracts but the following, it is 

extract (The Hi<^ht of , , -n -n j ^ i • i 

Ram-chaudra). hoped, Will illustrate his general 

manner and powers of description. 

^ fk^ ^m ^g^ c^^t^ 'w\<i 5f ?f% ^^^f?^c^ f^^tf^ 

^fV?rl ^M^cff^ ^tsjT ^p^ I ^^ ^^w c^t^ ^w^ f^^ 

^f^?(l ^s?T ^t^'hr ^t^^l ^t^^^ ^^^ I ^t^t^?^ 5ic«ti 

C^^ Tt^l ^15155 ?t^^t«^t^i t^fl «t5^t^ ^t^ ^^^ ^f%^ 

^1 ^f^^ M«^tt c^t^ c^^h:^ cw*f ^^Sf ^c^ ^t^l ^^ <si^ 

^t^^^ w^ k^V:'^ >Tt^t^ ^^c«m ^t^^ ^^^^ ^ ^t^ "srt^ 
c^wt^ ^T^ ^^ J^Sf^^t f^^t^ ^f^^1 ^5t^^ ^f^^^ ^t^ 

(vide poitc \^. l7l). W. Pertsch, (he editor of Ei^itli Bamsabalt Charitarh 
(Berlin 1852) alluded to this work but its scarcity even in his daj 
made it difficult for him to obtain a copy and lie contents himself by 
the account of it given in the Calcutta Revieiv, xiii. 1850, p. 135. 


<Trc^ sn I 3Itii 'si^Ttfs C^1C^ ^f?lC^^ Stltst^ ^"«}^t^ 'Ptf^Sl 

?i^ ^^1 ^ <?iTgi ?if?f ^tt^ "^i^ 'Ts^t^ ^f^^i ^^i^ 'T'rtFr^ 
Ji^rs f»f5i cft^tei^ ^f^t^ 'I'^t^ ^t^t ^^^ ^^w ^»ntf^ 

tflt ^U«11 ^f^5l ^^S( ^^c\ ^^ C^t^ 35i^5I NQ^^ >f«^^ 

<i3t ^^1 n^K*i ^tc^ ^351lf?I C^t^ ^t:^ '?tW fj^tfe 

'©f^i^l ^<i^tl^ fvRtsC*! =^1% c^rts^ ^M^ ^U^ ^] I 

<lit^*f f^t^^ f^^t^r© ^^^^ ^5?^!^^ =^frc^ *il ^^q f ^t^ 
^^ITs fJlC^^ ^f^C^I?? I ?ft^ 5*t1t^1 tfl ^^e1 ^f^^ f^'5?t*ra 

^?1 ^trs ^"r?f C^t?^ ^*:t5 55 I ^t^^S'l =^1^ ■sit^t?'^^ 
Sfsl f^^ ^R^ 'ff^gl ■5lt*fJ' ^t^t^ '?tC5^ ^C*5 ^5i5?? ^fiiz:?w 

^1^ ^U^iws c^^^i f^ifw-s ^Ut:^ ^t^fsft^ f^fc 5^ 
^f^c^H t^i^ 'Sir? ^^t^ f^^ cwf^i^ff 5^1 1 c^^^ ^^^1 


^1Sf^ ^f^5? C^tSJt^ ^t^if^ #U^ 51?^ ?^^ ?)1 f^-^ "^fsi 5ff^ 

^fsi^^ 5]»ft«1 ?jf^?l1 C2J=^15T ^-f^t^^ c£|? tl^ 5!Us t£l ^^ 
<^ ^t^ C^t^l ^tl&^ ^1^1 ^'^^ ^f^?i1 'if^^ll J'fvfl^ C^W-1 f^:«1 

fw5tU5i^ fifst^l ^f^^,5? f^ *\^ z^i ^H I v5^ ^^1 ?f^ 

^t^5S *2f^t^ ^f^ 1 ^ 

In addition to its being the first piece of history in 
Bengali, the work has an intrinsic interest of its own to 
the student of literature. The curious style, in which it 
is written, with its (juaintness, its crude orthography and 
syntax and its tendency towards Persian, has beea the 
subject of much adverse criticism ; but considered in the 
light of literary histor}^ it reveals to us certain aspects of 
the development of prose style in the beginning of the 
last century. The writer- in the Calcutta Beriev' of 1850 
Its style ci.arac- characterises this style as a "kind of 

terised as "a kind mosaic, half Persian, half Bengali" 
of mosaic". .... . . . , " 

indicating "the j^ernicious inrluence 

which the Mahamadans had exercised over the Sanskrit- 
derived languages of India" : and this view has been 
endorsed by J. Long who in his Descriptive Catalogue 

' ?t5f1 <£r«t1tf^ ^fe, pp. 130-3.5 : jip. 54-56. 

* The writer was James Long himself. ^eeCal.Bev. 1850, p. 134, 
Art. "Early Bengali Literature and Newspapers". 


(1855) speaks of the book as "a work the style of which, 
a kiiul of mosaic, shewed how iniu*h unjust ascendancy of 
tho Persian lau^^ua^e had in that *hiy corrupted tlie 
Beuj^ali". Mahriinahoi)adtiyay Ilaraprasad SfistrT, in 
one of his U'Ctures, ' eon<lenined the book as "unreadable'^ 
on account of its style. It can not be denii-d indeed that 
the style if "n kind of mosaic" — a curious admixture of 
Bengali and Persian — tjuaint, affected, and involved ; 
and considered from the standpoint of j)urity, lucidity, 
or simplicity, its style is the worst that this period has 
to show in BeM:;-ali prose. It is true that Persian words 
occur more or less in every writin<^ of this period, and we 
have seen fron Carey's DinfotfupK published onlv a month 

after the book under review, Persian 

Per^aT"'''^'""'^'' "^ ^^'^''^^ preponderated especially in the 

colloquial lanp^uajre of a certain clnss 
of people ;but no otherpublication of this period is so much 
disfigured by Persian and Urdu words as Riliu Basu's 
Pralapj.di(j/a Charitrii. The following- extracts taken at 
random will bear out the abow statement ; (J\^\(^ f^f^^ 

ft^?^ f^^iT ^^^1 ^^ ^tr^5l ^<lf%<; %1 t^TTS ^Tf^TTJiT 

' Lecture on Bengali Literature in the Present Century (in Bengali), 
at the Subitri Library (Puhli.shod in BangmlarHan, vol. vii nnd 
viii, 1287-88 B. S). He uses the word.s "«inri7 ^nrfl" in connexion 
with this work, whicli appollations, however, are rather too strong. 
It is a significant fact that Dr. Yates in his Selection fnmi Bengali 
Lileratnrc of this period {Introduction to the Bengali Language, 1847, 
vol. ii) does not quote a single extract from Prntajiadityn Charitra, 
for its stylo seems to have been regarded as not worth stndy or 


^f*t«1 ^^tWl f^l ^t^f^ ^ (p. r.-7 ; p. :2) I c^ ^t^s? c^^it^ 
•Tf^^fl ^C^T^^ ^^^ ^t§tlc^5? S ??ft ^T^T^ ^^^ '^TC5? =^tis{ 

»j[«i^f% ^?fi :^-j^i 7[-^ ^^z^^ ^s'^t^^ c^rr^t^a ^^^ 

^sff^ ^^^ 5t^ S ^t^f Tr%1 (p. 1 8 ; 11. 7) I nt5 5T^ ^T? M^ 
(Iff^ f*f?1Cb^ttW ^f^U^ (p. :^2 ; p. 9) I C»t^^5fff| ^t 7^^ (Tff^ 

■fet'lt^^^^f %'4 ^tft ^^^ 'ii^^ ^T^«i C^«^1 *J5^c^ "511^^- 
f?C« ^f 51 ^f^U^^ fp. :i;2 ; p. i») I vrf^ ^n^tW tf^t^T? (TI^N'I 

^^ nf»55i ^t^^ ^tt^ ^t<:^ '^iw ^wt^f% ^f?»^ ^^^ 

^t^«ftr5I ^flffCW (p. :-21 ; !>■ S) I 'S\^m ^imt^ ^^^ C^t^f% 
^ft ^^?[1 ^tSfSl^q^ C^mii's ?tr^^ ^1?:^^ (pp. ~8--29 ; }). 11) I 

^^^ ®^f»r^ ^<r ^^f»t^ -s^tfV^ ^^^ (p-"^9; p.l-)i 

f^^i ^t^t« ^r^^ ^^t^ f^^ ^^t^ ^f%^ ^t ^trtr^ c^v^ 

f^ ^rrf^wff^c^ c^ f^^^ ^t^^ f^wt^ ^f%^ ^st^r^fw^it^ 

(pp. 82-3£ ; p. 1 .S) I ^^nc^ v2f^t1tfw«T ^t^l ^^^fsj-f^ fFrfkr^ 

^^^1 ^f^ fm\ ^t^t^^^ ^^ W?[l^^ ^?C^^ (p. 00 ; p.25) 

It must be borne in mind, liowever, that at the time 
when the tirst Bens^ali prose works were written, 
Persian and Urdu, as the languaijjes of the Court' and 
the market-place, were extensively studied and works 

' It was abolished as a Court. language in 1836 


in those l;in«^U!\^es were taken as models of composition 

in Benj]jali. Sanscrit was ehiellv 

How far justitiftble. 

confined to the exchisive class of 
learni'il Brahmans and cnrious scholars. Not only Persian 
and Irdu were learnt by the boys at school toj^ether with 
their mother-toni^ue, but even in ordinary conversation 
Persian words were extensively nsed. Six centuries of 
Mohammetlan rule ilid not affect in anv remarkable deirree 
the manners and customs of the people but they succeeded 
in throwiui; the vernacular into the shade and streni;theninir 
tiie supreme authority of Persian and Arabic, from whose 
rich vocabulary the Beuijali langua2;e had been borrowing 
ever since. Even up to the time of Ram ^lohan, 
when the tendency to Sanscritised style was gradually 
growiuij into favour, the Persian ideal was not wholly 
discarded. Riim Mohan himself wrote his earliest 
work in Persian but he was also a profound scholar of 
Sanscrit and his later Bengali style was therefore more 

sanscritised. Ram Basil, however, 
R;i.nB.isu'8 nuis- }„ j^p ^f Carev's tribute to his 

tery over rersiau aud ' " 

adherpnce to Persian knowledge of Sanscrit, seems never 

originals. , i i . i 

to have }X)ssessed that command over 

the language which his friend Ram Mohan certainly 

did. liut Ram Basu's mastery over Persian and Arabic. 

which seem to have been his favourite subjects, was 

undoubted. Moreover, Rain Basu as we have pointe<l 

out, distinctly says at the beginning of his book that 

he has based his work iH)on certain historical treatises 

in iV'rsian. It may be observed that in the descrij)tion 

of wars and court affairs, the language of the day could 

not avoid a certain inevitable admixture of Persian. 

Ram >rohan's subject-matter was religion, and Ids text 

the J?anscrit >astras ; while Ram Basu's interest, on the 

other hand, was in history and the Persian manuscripts 



constituted his authorities. As a result, therefore, 
it was quite natural that in his composition, Persian 
should have so much influence. Towards the end of 
Prafapadif j/a-charitra, however, and in the description rf 
domestic or emotional matters. Ram Basu has avoided 
foreign aid and turned naturally to Sanscritioised language 
in order to attain more vernacular ease. In the following 
passage on the celebrated episode of Basanta Ray's murder 
as well as the descrii)ti()n of the flight of Ram-chandra 
quoted above, it will be seen that the number of Persian 
words are comparatively few : — 

51^ ^pr^ ^ft ^^"f ^f^^ c^^ Tt^i ^J!^ ^tK ^^ <^^n^uc^?j 

^^f%s ^r?jyi tri (y^m\ ^%q^ ^^iti ^^t 'itrs i tf^^JT 
^?3 ^f^is:^ ^s^ ^^ t^tc^ "srfi^m ^j^^^ s ^t?t^^ "f'^ 

^^ I (pp. 137-:38 ; pp. 57-58). 

Moreover, P i\dapafUt ya-charit ra was the first attempt at 
sustained Bengali prose- writing, and with no model before 
him. Ram Basu iiad uo other alternative than that of 
writing in the current language, which was in itself a 

strange admixture of Bengali and 
Corruption of the Persian, in order that his work might 

popular langiiaf^e. ^ 

easily appeal to all. \Vhat seems 

quaint and affected to us was quite natural to readers a 


century ago who were accustomed to such corrupted forms. 
We must make allowance for all the>e considerations; 
but after all is said it cannot be denied at least that the 
style of Pralapaditya is one of the worst specimens 
of Bengali prose-writing even for this period.' 

In Lijjimala, however, his next work- published in 
Lipimala. 1802 '^^'^' Consisting of a collection of 

letters on various topics, the influence 
of Persian is almost absent. The Preface to this work 
in Bengali, indicating its object and plan, will be found 
interesting — 

i^t^l (2t«JT^ « ^9t'5?1 ^.[^^\ '[7[ll\^7{ 55J?rl 
Its object and plan 
H* explained in the ^T^C^^ | — 

■i) ^5 -sjrsin^ CW%9 9 ^M\h^ « *f^'^ f3jf^«f C^T^ ^s( 

^^^^ ^i^ -^^t^ c^rfr^^ ^Jif^ii JF^^rtn ^^s "^^^ w»k^'^ 
^^illfs « ^X^m ^^^ 'A'w\'^ "srf^f^fs t\^^^ 5nrf*r^^1 

'S\^\ ^C^^ 5^5^'«T^1 -sj^^tT ^fjiy, ^t^flRt'SR ^« ^TTC^*! 

' This work was re-written in n. more popular style by llariS- 
cbandra Tarkulankiir at the instance of Hev. James Long in 1S53 
and included in the "Bengali Family Library S»rics" ('fl^?! ^t'tTl 
iJ^^HbTI). 2nd Edition 1856. It would be interesting^ to contrast the 
•tyles of these two works written at the interval of 50 years. Maris 
Chandra's version is reprinted in N. Ray's edition. 

» The book gives a clue to its date. There is a couplet in the 
Preface which shows that it was compost-d in "^XH i^**'. It runs 
thus :-"|:5tfT5I ^? Vi * /S :«t 'JIJI I V^'l ^HC*«f 1,^ ^i|51 'SJ^tl I 

• This undoubtedly shows according to some critics the influence 
of ftim-mohan Ruy who taught the worship of "3''*" This intluence 
is also indicated in the present work by its more sanscriticistd 


«rr^ 'STcTt^ ^f^^ ^^^^ ^t^^sf-jt^^ wa^ I 'i)«TfX5f ^ 

-^w\fv^^z'^ ^f»5^ cri^ ?t?i1 ^11'^ ssifi 'si^^t^'j^^ wflsjtc^ 
fjT^^ft^w sj^ ^1 ^J:^^ ^ <FT^ei c^t^ c^t^ or\^ t%^ ^trs 
^t^^ I' 

The letters, however, are not all on business matters 

„ , , or domestic subieels but some of 

Do&cnption 01 the book. _ 

them are in reality discourses on some 
reli^i^ious, historical or lescendarv topics of interest. For 
instance, in tlie letter of one Kincr to another we have, 
among other things, a discourse on the death of Parik-it 
with a moral on the impotence of human will; in the 
letter of a King to his subject, an account of Daksa-yajfia : 

Lippinutla or the Bracelet of Writing beiug a Series of Lettem on 
Different Svbjects by Hum Ram Boshoo, ove of the Pundits in the 
College of Fort William. Seramporp. 1802. pp. 1-255. Also entered in the 
Catalogue of the Library of the Hon. East India Comjyany, p. 295, wiih 
identical date and place of publication and name of tlio author. In 
Huchauan op. cit. it is described as "an orij^inal conijioBition in Bengali 
prose in the epistolary form" and in Primitae Orientalet as "Letters on 
business in the Bengali Langnnge intended to facilitate trnnsactions 
with the natives". 


a son writing to liis father p;ives a cleseiiption of 

Nal)acl\viji aiul Cliaitauya ; a fatliei' iiistruL-t.s his son 

... ill tlie Pauranik account of Niiriul 

An original composi- 
tion in Bengali proso ami Parbat or ol" tlie descent of 
in the epi8t<)lary form. 

HliciL;Trathi ; a teacher writuifj to his 

pupil answers some of the latter's ijuestions about Kfibaii 

and the leij^endary account of liaidvanSth. This work is 

really, as iiuchanan describes it ("//. '•//. p. 'l-ZH) "an 

original conij)Osition in Ben<;ali prose in the epistolary 

form". All these descriptivf letters are indeed interestinjjj 

both in form and matter, but it is not possible to ij[ive 

here more than one cpiotation, on account of the lenujth of 

the letters :— 

Illustrative extracts : ^ ^ ^^^"^ ^^^ ^^^^^ (?l^^^ 

(I) A description of ^^ 

Dak^a ami his Sacri- i£i^^ ^m^Ul^^ (71 f^^?I '5tf^ ^tt <i3 ^?t 

f?^^ ^'yi 's^f^ ^ ^ «Uic^ 

5|?i:?^ f^^ ^Fr?J^ WC^"^ Sf^^l 5i?t*ff^ ^^^«fl (TC^^ 
^ iT^1<I 51t^ 51-ft I w^ siJT^Tf »; ^(St'lf^ ^'irt^ It^'ltjo 
■R (ff^) ^t5tiT Ttfl*! ^CS f^l tf^ "Sl^lfff ^Fs (?Fli5 3'?n 

^t^ 'srrssi^? ^?tr5 «f^ c^tsj ^if^ ^trnr ^j^m^ts^tif^ 

l^mfS' ^^f5J®t Tt?!^ ^5;t^*( ■5ITft4l ?^C^5^ c^t ^^ 

c^*r5 (ff*f^) ^^? ^9R ^^JTi ^t^ sfPTwc^ f^nflc^ ^C^s? I 

' f'lf'rTfTl. 41«rn inrt ; pp. 107-116. Some vernes ftre here omitted 
•t the beginning. 


Jfst"? ^t^tC^ si^tt^fC^^ 'sit^fsfC^ ^^i:«lt ^'^t^ ^f^?I1 WoJ^U\ 

^^^ 5f^ ^i^tr^t^^ f^^t^^i ^t?ii ^t^f^ ^^1^^ ^f^i^^ f^i^^^i 
si^tw^ ^5t^t^ ^t^l^ ^t^^ ^2/1 5ift*if»j ^ f*ic^ ^^^ ^<«rr5 

tf«5(C«(T ^^ t*i^^^^ ^^^T^ ??r^^1 ^^^^ fs^ ^^?|1 "51^1^ 

^t^t^ f^^ '^^t^ ^Tt^^ ^?itu^ T'^^^z^ ^ttc^ t5ii cm 
^z^ ^^^ \^Yi^^ ^t^ ^f^ '^^^ 5it«tfn^U^ (TfR srft -srffsf 

^TfrTiT ^G51 f^^'^C? ^C^ ff^ ^T^ ^^ (some verses 
omitted here) l ^^^1 ^f^?(1 sj^tC^^^ 5^C«1 «ff^^1 ^t^ ^f^^ 

^f?f?i ^ f^5?1 f^'isw ^fsi o\i^ ^\^U ^t^l ^ ^^? ^5it^ 
f^^^tc^ c^tit^ ^^ ^^ ^'»5t^ sT^'T? ^t^i ?^:^^ 5^1 I 

^^5^=? "^r^Slf^-S ^C5? ^t^?(1 ^(5:5 ^C!^ I 7f^ ^f^r«Cf5? 

vf»iTfcn5? "^tf^ ^f^ '^Ttsrm ^'I'irt^ ^f^c^^i ^] ^ ^Qj^^'K 


%w^1 f^r^r? f*RtSl 511 5lf^ Jift f^'S^t^l C?J1»R ^f?ir5 

1^ *f*6t"5^f^ ^^f^^' ^s^ 5pT CJf^ C»rft (?T ^t^tr^ty^l 
Jr*FTt^^ ^^f^fs ^t^T^i ^?ft )^'i\ ^StC^ ^21t^35^ Ci5JJIt5!r.'R 
nj^r^s ^ 'JfW^ff f5C^ ?lt5l ^S1^ \^l^^ ^U^\ C3F-t^^ 

'Sf'Tt^ ^51 '^?r ^^ ^^ ^f% ^ -Sf^ItTT^elC^ 51-^t^ ?pf?I?1 

^rss "^t^^ f^^ts tii^:§ JittTii ^«it^ ^f^c«i Jf-Jp 'Al^ir^ Off'<<^\- 

C«R ^'^l f^^ ^^Ttf^T ^I5t^ 1W^^ "I^«1t1^ C^ ?^ 5;^^fl?J 
^ 7[7^ ^\(7f] Rif *;^^t^ ("Rf^J^I ^f^V^ (SI'J^ 5^^ 1^ 


t^^l ffr?I I sif^ ?t^^f«1 T^5 5i5"?1 C^tW^ ^f?^ ^f?ft^ 

^rt ?^^ 5i?tceg5t«ftc^''t ^t^fs^t^^ ^f 5^^1 si's:^ ^l^vg 
^-§5^< wl c^^^ Sff^w^^^ ^-^^^^^ f^c^vfji ^f??:^,^ cf^- 

^m ^«15ltC3T^ ff^t^^ ^f^^l ^rMl^ WC^-"^ C^W^ ^f^^ 

^t^ ^€t^ ^^t5f 5I^?l^ ^t^^1 ^^J ^f^^^ (21^^ t£|| 51?:^ 51^W? 

^T^ 7^^ fl^i ;5^t^ c^r(5^ Ui'^^'^ "^Um ^^\ ^-ffi^^,^ f^^- 
cii^ sirs ;g^l f^^ c^t ^^"^U^ ^t^^l f^f^^ ^^U^ si^tcvfc^?! 

=s^ ^f^?I1 f^^ R^t^ ^€t "^^ Cf^^ ^f^i^ ^f^l^ >lH^lf?i^ 

c^vf^ ft?rl ^Q ^^ ^^^1 'l^^ f^^ I ^^r,5iT t£i^l^ ^^ 5??1 
(5^Tjt ?t^ *i^«^ ^ c^ ^^t^ ^1^ ft^ ^'^^ 'J'^J^ ^^ ^^ 
^^t^ ^t^^ si^t^tfe^^ ^'^ ^^ ^1 ^^s ^^ ^^ ^»^^ 

^f«}M^ 5'?fif«i ^sr? ^tf t^ f^ii?«i f-jrat^^ ^Nsc£i^ ^51^ If t^t^ 

^©tft^ (71^15^11 *2I?-^ 5]^ ^fs^l ^ft^ l^itf^^ ^*i^ ^fvsJg'Sl 


Hul the language of the strictly businot; letters 

are not so eommentiable and the 
(2) Business letters . ■ i i ti' 

Contrast is noticeable. We select 

here two cliaracteristic specimens even at the risk of 

beint^ leiit^thy. 

^«rW f^st'^^ stocks ^tf»f^ ^3it^^ mi I s^^^t^ 
^■H\5n ^5iw^ ff^^ ^1 Ttt^i ^^'^ ^f^^ ff ^151 ^^^ ^^^- 

c^t^f^ c^tc^^ ^rs^l^ (^^) ^tt^1 'T'f^ >I^t5t?f ^t^ ^^^1 f^f^e"S 
(s^t?JH*1) ^K^ 'K^^ ^i^ ^tC^ ^t^^ f^sf^fl (I^TW) ^^- 

of a doinestiu nature. 

^t^T^ ^i's^m f^ ^n^t^ ^t'^i^ ^^t^^ 

I'vTl^ r^ ^^Ts $f^1 •n«l f?Cs ^t^^ ^fl^ ^^^t^C^T^ ^t^ 
f^ 5tf^ »rs §t^ ^C^ ^tCs ntf^C^^ ^\ ^T5t^ ^^51 Tfsffs 

^sraj c^R "^Tw ^trs >f5ffT ^f?fc^ ^T^ ^sr^ "^ ^Tf^ c^Rc^ 

f^ii ^f^^ ^ I ^^3 <Tt^ 5(^tf^ "sit^ f%^ f^n ^^ ¥«Tr^i 
Tf:^ it^ ^trtr 5?1 ^^^ ^tc^ ^^t^ T^^i m•^^T fV ^sf^pt^ 

» f»?f^nrt^l. frfm ft?1. pp. 163.166. 


f%f^ ^5fS ^f^ f^^ I il^ ^t^^=»f? ^^^r^ 'Sft'ft^tf^ 

cj\ ^tc^ ^tMt^:^ '^^ ^t? ^t% "^^ ^^f^ ff^ ^tf^ 
^t^^c^ ^f^ ^,1 ^1t*1T ^i^^ ^ttF ^srf^ ^ ^K^ t^t^ 

^^ t^trs^ '-2r^ ^f^?ii fk^ *ftf^ ^^^1 ^tftift^ ^pra 'sitf^ 

^i^^ f^l ^^ c^^ c^^ni:^ ^t^ ^z^ "si^ ^5t^ ^f%^ I 

'tt^ttef^ % ^t^ ^tttC^ ^^^1 fe^ ^tf5( ^«M^^ ^^»t^ 

^1^1 ^^rs ^5^ c^^%^ ^tf^^^ c^^^t^ ^^ ^^ Ttf^ 
7T5?f% ^%1 fwi:^^ c^Sf^ c^is{ \»t^^t^ f^^^ ^c^ I ^ ^^^ 

^fft^ ^f^^^^ ^<r^^t^ -sit^^^t^ f^sif ^t^^^f^^^ 

bpIIIt5C^ ^^^r^ i^^^t"^ ^t^tfe^^ I ^^5( ^^tf^^t^ SU (^ff^ 

1 fsip|>l1c^t Si^ «(t?Jl, pp 32-87. Some verses are omitted at the 
beginning. The extracts contain numerous disjecta membra poctae. 
To tluB letter there is an equally strong reply which want of epac* 
forbids us to quote. 


^fwrf^^ I -3*^9 ^5^15? ^7^51 ^5t^ ^t^ci 5^ .^jcjj^ (;jj ijjfg; 
of A political iiattiiv. 

^•s5f? ^f?T^1 f»mm '^^%'\U ^t^l f^'.^^'R 

Rt9t^ ^«i ^5t^^ f^f^^ ^f«}^T3 ^t^T^c^ c^^t^ i5rst^«rf^i:*t 

"Sf^TR^T 5r§ ?tt^ s^1 I ^^X ^51^ f?;^t^ ff 'I^^ ^"^R ^f^ 

fi«T^ >#5 ^st^^ c^'R "Sfs'Hfv^ 5^tt ^9ri5 -Brt^^^^ t?^ f^^sf 

(7^^ cTt^ wfi (?Ft^^ T^T^^ ^?5i^ ^f^c^ I 'If 5^^ m^'fR 

f^ ?i3(7^ >7^^ )^?:?i ^^ -^z^ CSV \ jrm^ iJt^T tJpf^rnf^ 


i£1^5T (71 f^^t^t^T ^ ^fsf^t^^^ ?^tU5 C^5l5It^ i£lf^ ^f^ f»r^1 

5^ C^t^ (TRt^ ^^ ^^1 ^tr^ l^tC^ CT^^TfJ^^t^ ^^t^^^ 
(71 1%| (7#5 2^|ll1 ^it\Z^ ^^ f^^«1 ^ta f^1 ^t^^f^f^l^ 

^^ ^^1 ^t«^1 ^»t^ I ^t^ ?^ I 'Sim; cusTi ^f%^ 3^^t^^- 

^"jf € >T'^7^:?J <il^':5 ^^ l^JW^l (?T^^ 51t^1 ^f^C^ ^ ^^'1 
K^ ^^^ ^ 1 ^ ^t^«1 #t«l ft^ ft^ ^¥^'^ (Tttl^^^ ^Tt^t^C^ 

v^ ^f^\ ^^ I f^i ^fvf ^l^rf^ c^T^it^ i2i^f%^ ^'^d ^|?1 'JTH:^ 

As we have already remarked, the prevalence of Persian 
words, which is so conspicuous a feature of Pratajmilitj/a- 
c/iaritra, has almost disappeared in this publication. There 
is a marked tendency towards the use of Sanscrit words, 
but at the same time, in spite of elaborate superscription' 

' p. 185. But simpler enperscriplion too, e.g., ■Sft't'Sf^^ ^i^js" ^^^ 
^^ ■^ITt'T^r^^ (p. 191). But these are mere matters of form. 


like 'si^^Mf^^ C^t^lTT ^^51<9'«t*?t ^l^^^ f^^'. I^Tflt^ 

^t^t^^ ?lt^5r^ \^^^ ^aU'^l^l ^3[ fJl^T^^flt", the styli' i8 

not laboured or liedanlie like tliat of' 
Its stylo more sans- 

critised' yet not some other puiidits of the Colle<?e. In 

pedautic or elaborate. , . ,,_ ,, ... ,,. 

' this Hiini nasu was provinp: niniselr 

a true disciple of Carey and Krun-inohan ; from the former 

he learned to make the best use of the popular Innouaoe and 

avoid academie affectation of lalK»ured style, and from the 

latter he <»ot an insiuht into the streuijth and power of the 

lano;ua<^e on account of its close relation to the classical 

Sanscrit. The syntax and orthoi»ra]ihy, however, are still 

imperfect, althouo:h there is a ^reat 

Improvomont upon improvement indeed upon those of 

Pratujiaditya-iharitin. . /-.•!• 

P luttapan il ^a-c/iant ra . Considennfj 
this ufFowth and pro^jress, it is to be rt "retted that Kam 
Basu^s severance of all connexions with the Colh rje jiut an 
end to all ojiportunities of further and better }»rose-writino;. 

A better sj)eeimen of easy prose-writ ino- is to be found 
in Golak-nuth Sarma's translation of llifopnih'h,'^ noticeable 

if not for its niiitter certainly for 

Golak-nfith Sanna. jj^ f^,.,j, j^ ^^,^j, ,,i,b],\;l,e,] before 

lixto^adcA, 1801. ' 

Lipiniala but about the same time as 

I' rafajHul it yu'cha ril I'd , yet it disj)lays f^jreat sui)eriority of 

T^^\ M^oi ; lleetopndeahn or lieneficial Instrttctious Translated from 
tht' original Sungskrit by Ooluknalh Pundit. Serampore. Printed at the 
Mission Press, 1802. pp. 1-147. Yatrs, in liis Sclootion. (Intro, to Uenguli 
LntigH'Kje, vol. ii)Hoc8 not quote from tliis work l)ut from tlio version of 
Mftyunjay. Yates himself published a translation of Hitoitadei in 1848. 
Besides Mftynftjay Bidyulai'ikSr's version, there is another version 
published in 1830 in Sanscrit, Ben(;o)i and English (editions in IS-(4, 
1848, 1860 and 1880) by Laksminartiynn Nyayalafikar, Librarian 
to the College of Fort William (afterwards Suddor Anieon) and 
C Wilkins. (Lonfr, Retnrn of yatncn etc., p. 133). A copy of this 
work will be fonnd in the Library of the Bourii of Exaniinert. 


lansjuage and manner. It is a pretty close but easy 

translation of the four books of the well-known moral 

essay — unabridored and unexpurs^ated — and the prose is 

plain and unassuming, except for a little quaintness 

smacking of the tol pundit and a 

little irregularity of syntax here and 
Its language. ' " . 

there. Although itself based upon a 

Sanscrit original and the author him- 
self a learned pundit, well-versed, it may be, in the 
classical Ian2rua2:e there is vet no trace of anv affectation of 
pedantry or magnificence. The style is free also from the 
Persian influence so conspicuous in Ram Basu's works. 
There is some attempt at periodic prose, but the 
syntax and arrangement, imitating commentorial queerness, 
is not all that could be desired, though it is certainly 
more correct and easy than that of Pratajjadili/a 
or LijJiwala. With no conscious purpose of developing 
a prose style but with many unconscious experiments 
at arrangement and adjustment, iiere is, as in Carey's 
Bialoguea or It/7/ds-Mala, much simplicity and desire 
to make the language clear and useful. There is 
hardly any necessity of quotinor too many extracts, for 
the style, besides being plain and simple, has hardly any 
marked impressiveness of its own. The following extract 

Also ill Blnmhardt, op. cit. p. 115-116). A copy of Golak-nath 
Sarniii's version is in the library of the British Museum bearing 
the same date and place of publication as \vc have given above 
(Blumhardi, op. cit. p. 115). Seton-Karr in his article on Bengali 
Literature in Cnl ■ Rev , 1849 (p. 499) is rather severe in his 
criticism on this work ; but his views were formed, it seems, on the 
"condensed and corrected" specimens from this work given in Yates's 
InfrofZitchod, vol. ii (1847) ed. by Wenger. The work under review is 
entered as Golak-nath's and dated 1801 in the Cntalpguc\of the Library 
of the Hon. East India Company, 1845, p. 195. The date 1802, given in 
the Tenth Menioir, is inaccurate ; but it follows the date given on the 
English tttlo-pago of the book 


will be fmuul illusti-ative. It is taken from tlie bei^inning 
or introduction ' where the Princes are introduced to 
VisnuSarnia who bei^ins teachint; by narratinj^ the 
stories : — 

An bxtract fruiu the 
Introduction. f^^ ^^^ ^^^ ^^ , ^^^ ^^1^^ 

=511^ «rrf5^«i c^^^ c^"? ?i^rs c^Tf'r^'f ^f^^ «rfc^ "sT^i i 
tfjt "N^ir^^ 'si^^ -si^ ^»vf»m ^fff^t^ ^-\fk ■« cFtrs^ ^f«r^t^ 

^XIW.^, i%^ f^ ^^ I >T^?ff^ f^f^-Ts -S^^CSW f^'-5l5" 5rf% I 

(?rR srft^ %«^c 5 *iT^^ ^is ^'\^m^ ^^ ^^ "sitrf (ti 

ii^ ^'^ifs 5f^l "sff^c^^ t^t?r ffir (ii^ 'JftCT ^^^ 'SR'jf T^? 

^^t^T^^ f^ 5^ I ^i*^ 'J^ Tt^ 5^1 <«rr^ ^T I (71 1:5 
srr? I 'rf^ 'X^ ?t^ ''f^^ f'f^ "^ ^^ (?i r'F^ i*j^Tt^ 5:^ 

' The story is to ivpll-known to require an analysis of its contents 


^ ^tr.?\ c^ti^ c^ti5 ^^^c^ -si^^t^ srr»f ^f^^ i^t:^ j?i vstfn 

5r:^ ftf h (7151^ ^:^^ src^fi ^If ^1%^ ^?i i ^^ sj^j^ ci^l 
^t5 cTt^f ^?il ^rt^ ^t^ ^'^ f^Q f^'sl f^^^ 1 f^"? ^f^ c^^ 
^^ (71 ^ ^^tw ^1 ^c^ (71 ^f% ^^?:»f^ ^9fi ^t^t^ i2f5it«{ (7i5{^ 

^C^WI ^:^ ^fw C^t^ ^t^T^ ■5fClf ^t^l ^t^ ^tr^ (TFTilf CT 

j^'sJT'Jfi:^ ^t^ <7i f^ ^^^ ^2f^c^^ ftf^ «ft^«i ^m^ ^^n 
yrf^^rtr^c^ ^'f :^ f^ ^ft«t^ ^t^ i ^t^ ^^ ^t ^fw fti^^^ 

^[^ s 'ItC^ "sl^ ft^ sff^ 3^^ ^sJtW^ JI'vTK'if >TSI^ ^<i 1%t%!:^<J 

^f^ ^^^ f^f»fl^ ^t?( I '^r^SnC^ f^^-fSl ?(t:5I^ gt^e] 


si^c^^ f»fc^ ^tc^rt^^ ^c^ I ^1^ ^f^^ifo^ ri^f^ ^fr^ ^1*1^ 

ftr^ ^?i c^5[J{ JTCsii r^'^r!^ ^5i^C<^ ftf^ ^?l I 'Sl^^^ f^^- 

It would be convenient to notice lieie briell} (jilchrist's 

translation of ,Esoj/s and oilier fables from the Eiifj^litili 

lan<;ua<>e. Although done under the 

Ur. John B. Gil- direction and suiiervision of Dr. 

Christ 8 Oriental. ' 

FabuliM 1803. Ciilchrist - it must be borne in mind 

that the version occurs in a book of 
polyglot translation (six versions) of ^Esop's and other 
fables into tho\arious dialects of India -^ done by various 
hands. Eor the l^engali version i> resjoui-ible one 
TarinTcharaii Mitra who was employed especially for 
"Bun<;la, Persian and Hindoosthanee." He is called "a 

' f^TJtlC?^, pp. 3-8. 

- Dr. John IJortliwiik (JilcliriHt, LL. D., F. II. S. E. was Professor 
of Hindnsthani in the Fort Williuin Colligr. lie was well-versed in 
numerous dialects of India and wrote a number of works on Uiudus- 

■* This trnnBlation will be found in a publication of the Fort William 
College, entitled the Oriental Fnbnlint (1803) by John Gikhrist. It 
contain»i "Polyijlot Translation of .Esop'n and other ancient fablcn 
from the Enijlifh Language into Hindoofthanec, Pcrnian, Arabic, Brijhhakha 
Bttngla and Snnkrit in the Roman Character by various hands under the 
direction and superintendence of John Gilchrist for the use of the College 
of Fort William. Calcutta. Printed at the Hurkaru office. 1803." (See 
Roebuck, op. cit. App II. p. 27: Buchanan, op, cit. p. 221). 



learned native" in tlie rieface by Dr. Gilchrisft wl.o also 
pays him a high tribute ^vln.n he says "it behoves me now 

more particularly to specify that to 

sliare lu the veisiou. \ / i 

labour and considerable i)rolieieney 
in the English tongue, am I greatly indebted for the 
accuracy and dispatch with wliich the collection has been 
at last completed. The j'ublic may feel and duly 
appreciate the benefit of his assiduity and talents, 
evident in the Biingla version" '. Tariiilcharan ]\litra 
was "Head Moonshee" in the liindustliani Department 
appointed in May, 1801.- Tarinicharan thus seems 
also to have been })roticieut in Persian and Hindusthani. 
We select here a short i)ieee as a specimen: — 

An illustrative fable ' ■'s ^ • 

r^mb^i ^f^^xS ^Itf^^ a ^5I5( ^=^t5 '511^ C^-^^ ^f^^l ^1^ 

^sft^t^ 5?:^^ csfjtf^, ^f^ ^:5^t^c5i ^fsj ^^5f^ ^f^?il ^t^iti:^ 

* p. xxiv-xxv. Dr. Gilcluist in the Preface (p. xxv) to this 
work, expresses his intention of publishing the Bengali version, which 
seems to be the best, in a separate form, not in Roman but in 
Bengali character. I do not know whether it was ever published. Long 
mentions Dr. Gilchrist's translation of the .^i^sop's fable jmblished in 
1803. I have not been able to trace tiiis separate publication if 
it ever existed. 

■■' Roebuck, op. cit. App. 111. p. 48 


■srt^ ^1<i Q^«f^ ^Rf^ 3ic^ I ^t^c^tw« ^^ ^^ ^?^ ^'^U's 

■5«(^ c*ft^^ ftc5 f r^5i, ^^ ^^rf^ c'T^f^f^rt^ ^^^1 ^^-^ 

It is no little credit to the writer of this passatje, as the 
reader will observe, that the prose for a translated piece shows 
threat improvement indeed upon what had been published 
hitherto, and it is with great diftieulty that we resist the 
temptation of <:^ivin(]f more extracts of this simple homely 
style. This work resembles much Carey's Ili/ias-mafa in its 
persineuity and elejjjance, althouirh the latter book was 
published almost a decade after this. It is by always aiming 

to be plain, accurate and natural that 

Tho simplicity an.i the language of this work succeeds 
elegance of its prose. ^ ^ 

in attaining sueii excellence of diction 
among contemporary records in spite of its very close 
adherence to its Ennlish original and occasional imitation, 
as in the passage quoted, of English and Persian construc- 
tions. It is to be regretted, however, that the writer of 
these pieces never tried his hand at original prose- wri tin^- 
wiiich if he had touched, he might have adorned in a 
way bi-ttt-r than man\' of his eontompnrarics. 

'. The Oriental FahnUtt (1803) ed. by Gilchrist, p. 3.5. In the 
trnnsliterfttion ( have corrected tlio spelling, otliorwise no nitemtion 
ia mode ; for the trunslitcrntion seems to hare been mnde according to 
sound rather than according to spoiling. The tmnsliteruted version 
in Roman letters i.<< given in Ap|>ondix III. at the end of this 
volume, whero a cote also will be found on this system of 
tranaliteriitiii" • fni- « liii-li I am indflitf'il t" Profe-S.sor Snniti Kumnr 


Cliandlcliaran MnnsVii's ' Tola Iti/i'ts and Rajib 
Loehan .Mnklioi>ndhyay's Fiiju Kr-^na- 
M'linshi ' r//tnn/rij /ui//rr C/inritra, both pub- 

lished in the same year, exhibit 
however noticeable contrast c£ style and languaj^e. Tota 

I/iZ/iift - is bv far the better work 

^''Isos'^' ^^^^^ "^ ^*^'""^ ^"^^ subject, although 

it is a mere translation from some 

Persian orig-inal and its language shows admixture of 

Persian. It consists of thirty-four "tales of a parrot," as 

its name implies, and is said to have been translated from 

a Persian original " Toofofiawa//." ^ 
Similar collections of tales there are 

' Called Chunder Churun Moonshee by Buchanan (op. cit. p. 229) 
which is evidentlv a mistake. 

* There are copies of the first edition in the Library of the 
Board of Examiners and Presidency College Library. The title-page 
says : C^t^'Sl ^f^t^ ( TtSTl^l «t^K'5 I tl^«^Rl ^^%^ ?f^« I ^l^t^*!?:^ 
f t*ri ^^ I ib-ou I Roebuck {op. cit. App. 11. p. 29) and Buchanan 
(op. cit. p. 228) also give this date of publication. The copy in the 
Sahitya Pari.sat Library (and also one in the British Museum 
Library), which seem to be reprints of 1825, bear a somewhat 
different title-page. ^ | C^Hi tf^t^l 1 1 ^t^1^1 "^WUs || ti^^slF^I 
H'\/^f.^ ?fF5 1 1 cr^S^? ?tW«ft^Rlr^ Ft*l1 ^^ llib-^a 11 The fount of this 
latter reprint is very neat. Misled probably by the date of this 
edition, Diiicsh Chandra Sen (History, p. 890) puts the date 
api)arently of the first edition at 1826. The copy of an edition 
in the British Museum Library bears 1806 as the date of publicatioii 
(Blumhardt, Catalogue, p. 31). There is also mention of a 12mo 
Ed. printed in London ISM in the Catalogue of the Library of East 
India College, and an 8vo. Ed. London 1811 is entered in the 
Cfitnlogue of the Libranj of the Hon. Enst India Company, p. 196. 
There is a cnrious diglot edition (English-Bengali) of tin's work in 
the Siiliitya Pari^at Library : the Bengali version appears on the right 
and English on the left side on the same page. The date cannot be 
ascertained for the title-page is lost ; but judging from the 
typography, it seems to have been printed in London. 

^ Buohnnan, op. rit. p. 228. Chandicharan is also said to have 


also in Sanscrit, the most well-known amony wliioli is tlic 
'Siika-xnptafi' or 'Seventy Storios of a Parrot '. 

^^ e «^ivf lier»' ii description of the work under review 

and il is interestinjjf to compare it 

Description of th.. ,vith the Sanscrit version. A wife, 

whose husband is travellin*; abroad, 
and who is inclined to run after other men, turn 5 to her 
husband's clevtr talkiny; parrot for advice. The bird 
while seemiui; to aji[irove of her wicked jdans, warns her 
of the risks she runs, and makes her promise not to go 
and meet any j)ai"amour unless she can extricate herself 
from diHiculties as sc-and-so did. Re([nested to tell 
the story, he does no; but in the meantime the stor}- 
is s]>un out to such a length that when it is concluded, 
morning dawns and lur plans arc postponed till next 
nii;ht. Thus the bird succeeds in keejting his mistress 
in the path of rectitude not by j)ointed injunctions, but 
by a device similar to that which Shehrazade in the Arabian 
Niijhts employs to hinder the Sultan from sacrificing a 
fresh victim on every succeeding day. Several days pass 
in thi-« way, till the husband returns to find the 
honour of liis home inviolate. This is the frame- work 
which contains the thirty-four stories, some of which 
are verv amusini; indectl, although many of them are 
somewhat coarse. It is written in simple narrative prose, 
eminently suited to the juirpose of the book, and, although 
eried down for its slight inevitable admixture of Persian 
especially at the beginning, the language is in no way 
inferior to that of I/ifojun/rs or (Jrinital ]'\ihiilist an,! 
certainly marks great advance in simplicity and natural- 
ness upon Praiajtatlilya-t'luirUrn or Lipiiiialii. Its literary 

translated the Bhagabmlglta from Sanscrit into Reni^ali : this work, if 
pnhlishcd nt all, I have not been able to trace. 
' Macdonell, Hisf. of Snn». Lit. p. :{7.*). 

190 HEXOALT LiTi:KATnn<: 

pretensions are few indeed, but the writer is a very sjood 
story-teller and has succeeded in niakin«^ his book inter- 
estins:, both in form and matter."' 

The followint; (juotation of a shorter story will serve 

both as specimen of its tales and of 
A storv quoted as a . 
•pecimen. its languao;e. - 

Tt^t^ ^^5f (ilt I— 

c^t^^ ^f^^l '^t^^ 5^i;^i w^ >it^tt<ii '^^l'>\^^ "^11,-^ ^^ 

' This book seems to liave become very popular ; Dr. Yates, in 
his Selection, gives 18 stories from it alone. Dr. Yates, however, 
stretches his point too far when he says that the language of this 
work is deserving of attention because it is "a very fair specimen of 
the colloquial language and its almost unbounded negligence." (Rev. 
W. Yates, Introduction to the Bengali Language in two volumes 1847. 
ed. by J. Wenger; vol. ii containing Selections from Bengali 
Literature, p. 1). Haughton's Selections (1822) contain 10 stories from it. 
The book was also translated into Ilindusthani. See Roebuck 
op. cit. App. II. p. 24 ; " Tota Kuhanee a Trau.'^lation into the 
Hindoosthanee Tongue, of the popular Persian Tales, entitled Tootee 
Namn, by Sneyid Huednr Buksh Hueduree, under the superintendence 
of John Gilchrist, for the use of the students in the College 
of Fort William, Calcutta ..printed at the TTindoosthanee Press in 
one vol. 4to. 1804." 

■ This storj' also occurs in another form in the Uitopadei. It is 
also quoted in Haughton's Selection-', ]>. 12-18 -. trans, p. 92-96. 

^ This is the wife whose husband Maymun has gone abroad ; this 
introductory jiassage as well as the conclusions forms tlie link which 
connects a particular story with what precedes and what follows it, 
and is thus a part of the framework into which stories of miscellaneous 
character aro thrown in. 

' Tliis is the jiaraniour with whom an appointment was made 
to meet at midnight. 


f^vrfg Btfj^'i 1 ^^ ^f^l?,^ C^ ^fsi ^l^ f^f ^f^?n ^f S 5^1 
^srr^tf^* ^t^ "^trsi cstit?! ^•I't cefSs '^ff C^111C^ i^t^- 

^%^ "51^ ^li?^ ^^'s 5?t^t^^t^ 5I'235]t°N^ ^»^T^^ ^«t^JfT ^tf^?i1 

■srtf^ T5ft^ ft<T ciisis srfffe *ftf?^ CI "51 W^ ft^ ^f^s^ (srsc^c* 

^fi fip| ftfJ^Jl tfJ-m fs^^^^ 5f^<T fF^ifsf fijs-^ 9{C5^5Tt<I ^I5rf5 
PFI Q1 f^^B^ 'Ff?l5l ^f^r?;^ ^1 -si-s-ij^ -Bflf?! "Jl^t?! 5t^f?f 
:57t^ ^rs?1 5I5^?I1^ C-5^?l^C5I<T ^1?! ^fsi^l ^1?tiT f^^^ Bt^f^ 


■5fihWti?5^ ^c^ m^^i ^^^ ^?:<i?r ^Mi c'.?lt^1 ^^^ fttc^i ^t 

^ttrsf^ c^ ^jf^ 51^^ ^tc^ c^ ^Wj:^ R-^tt?:^ i t^l ^f^l 

'Itf^:^ ^t^«l ^R^ ^f%?i1 ^t^ ^Ic^ ^tf^ ^1 C^ '^ '*f^ ^t^^ 

^f? ^^H ^t^-1 c^f^ 'tz^ '^f^ »1tg ^R^ ^f%^l *n:^^ fsi*5^ 

^tf^^l C^t5It^ ^t^^^W^ ^l^t^^ f^^tf^'5 f^C^Vf^ ^f^c^ ^tf?f I 
^t^l ^f^^^ *?f5 ^tt?ll Ti^tff 'SitJ]^ I CMf^fft^ ^t^1^ ^1^1 

c^ \s Itc^t^ ^f^i '-^^'s ^^^1 c^^ ^f^c^f I c^ fti:^1^ ^^^ 
^f^c^^ c^ Tsrff^r ^t^ cs^^^tc^^ ^^5itl<T ^f"^^ ^^1^ "Sins 

^t^1^ ^^5it^?r ^^z^r^ "STt^t^ ^"^j:*! ^f^vft^ c»f'« "^i^ ^tf^ 
^^»IT f?-f?l^1 ^^tt^^ ^ts^t« ^^^^ ^t^ ^tf^i '^if^C^^ ^*ft5 


^■sfl np? ^c^ ^^»fT f^^ f¥? ^f^ ^{^^ f^^ ^^ ^^rffii ^^ 
^t^ ^t*f^ ^^5T^^ ^ff^nd csfft^ m^Ftrs ^?t^ ^f?r i 
^1 ^%l CFtf^Tf^ ^t^^ t^^^ ^rtt?n ^^ ^^ ¥'11 ^^ 'j^c^ 
^^^rs ^f?ruq^ I ^^R^^ c^ ^ ^^f^5^ ®t^ t^ ^f^^ 

SJ'f^^^ ^f^ 'TtsitC^ ^f^vff^ ^C^T f^fJI ^'Jf'l ^t^I til ^ 
^^ ^^ (?FH 'i^ ^f^ ^t^ ^^ ^^st^ ^g'sU^ f\^ ^ 
^^g ;> <5t57U«Tfr^^fviX5t^ =^^ ^^x CfiZ*\^ "STm? ^W S ^t^ 

^r?r<i^ c^^fVtft^ ^rf^srm ^rWcs *i^5^ "^itf^nri ^*ttwtf? ^^^ 
5ijf?^^ ^ c^1 'srt^iJ? ^sp^ 5Tt^ c^^Q ^^ c^>R ^r^rr^ 

^?r^l C5W?T (TTt^tm -srt^j ^^st^s ^^ ^1 ^ ^*?5t^ ^f^^1 
'sffTK^ f^%l ^1t^ ^^I'T 'rtfV^ "srrsi f^^^ I cFff^m 

c^fipift^ 'sitjfQ^nis iTt^K ^T^^-^ -sTTfj!^ ^^frs ^ ^2t*rpj 



^ '*\Zm f^t^ f% ^tf^ I C^'ffWt^ ^fe^l^ STFt^t^ 5j^el 

^fk^ "511^1 ^^^ I t«:i^ ft ^^t^^^ 'sit^ Ttfsi^ ^ff^ 

*l^ ^f?n:^fi:«i (?i ^tf^ ^c«t% '^'H^ c^t^ ^rf^ ^srt^ ^sffrtr^ 
f^^c^ 1 ^tf^ (7f^ ff^ ^ff^t^ n^^l c^^^ ^t^j ^t^t^ 
^%l ^t^w^ ft^,^?:^ fro ^f^^ f^5i ^£i:?(^ ^ It ft?-^ 

^fcl?? QZ^ C^tfwt^ (71 ^^ ^fsi ^5it^ ^ttl?[ ^tf?^ ^^ 
(7T^ yjsni 'silfiis c^t^ltW ^*5t^ "^f^J^ ^f^^1 w^ ^^c^ C^t^lt^ ^^ 

^tf^'« ^^^^^^ ^<JIt^ ^t^ C^WW bf?lT ^^ ^f^^ ^S «R^t^ 

TlWC^ CFtf^fft^^ ^«rM sift 'Q Jf^^-Qtf^^ ^C^ fj|^ ^^1 

^9 ^T ^W^ ^^^ ^ ^t^^ C^ f^^>I C'^tC^^t^ ^tS^ ^^ ^ I 
C^tC^^I ^1^ ^^^ 1^1 If^^t^ «1^C«1 ^t'^l^ %515? ^vstfl^ 

1*1^^^ f^^?rfr« *l^ ^f?ic^ I—' 

As in the case of most of the Bengali writers of 
this period, nothing practically is known about the life 

of the author of J^uja Krfinachan(ha 
HajTh.joohnn Mnkho- /,.j^,. Chavitra"- exccpt that in the 

description of the book given by 

' CSti>\ tf^Jl, pp. 21-29. 

= The title-page says ; History of Raja Krishnu Chundni Roy -. 


lUiclianan,' Kiijib-luchan is said to have been "descended 

from the family of the Raja." The 
Rujd KrHnachanilru booj. j^ supiwsed to be an authentic 

RayerChantru, 1805. '' 

account of the Kiija, dead not many 

years before this book was published, and his corres- 
pondence with the Eni^lish in the early period of their 
intercourse with Beni>al : but it seems that the memoir 

is more of a tissue of fables and 
Its historical value. 

traditionary tales ; and much of the 

narrative, esj)ecially at the beginning, is mere liction such 
as tradition or the fancy of the writer might have sug- 
gested. We do not go so far as to suggest that these 
tales were invented, as Dr. Yates^ remarks, " in order to 

5^eT I ii^.d I pp 1-120. Long says that it was ropriiitcil in Lumloii 1830 
but tho second reprint at Srirampur bears tho date of 1857 (Sahitya- 
Pari-^at Library). There is a copy in tlie Library of tlie Board of Exa- 
miners which is reprinted at orTnlmpur bearing the date of 1K34 ; and 
two copies in tho British Museum Library (Blumhardt, Catalogue, 
p. 89) printed in London in 1811. Also mentioned in the Catalogue 
of the Library of the East India Collcjc (18+3) and Catalogue of the 
Library of tJu: Hon'blc East India Comjmny (ISio) p. IdG. There arc 
copies of the first edition of this work in the Library of tho Board of 
E.xaniiner3 and also in tho Bengal Asiatic Society Library. In tiio 
paper on Bengali Literature (Cal. Rev. xiii. 185<5) Long gives this work 
tlio absurd date of 1801 : and following him, llum-gati Nyayaratnn 
repeats tho error. Sec, however, Roebuck, <>;>. ci< App. II. p. 21): so 
Buchanan, opcit. p. 228. Besides this work of lliljib-lochan's contains a 
reference at p. 9 to Rtlm Riim Basu's Pratapuditya'Charitm and must 
therefore have been published after 1801. 

• Op. eit, p. 228. Tho full description is this : " an original work in 
tho Bengali language containing tho correspondence between the Raja 
and the (English in tho early period of their intercourse with Bengal 
by Rajeeblochan Moonshee descended from the family of the Raja." 

' Intro, to Beng. Lang vol. ii p 124. Sotcn-Karr's severity on his 
work {Cal. Rev. 1849, p. 601), following Yates, seems to bo unwarranted. 


gain the favour of the English " ; but we must admit that 
it shows more leaning towards gossip than Pratajjuditi/a- 

charitra does. In point of language, 
Its language +,14. i 1 

however, the last-named work com- 
pares very unfavourably with the work under review. 
Mahamahopadhyay Haraprasad groups this work with 
Traiapadiiya in the class of " unreadables " for its lan- 
guage, but the plain story-telling style, occasionally Sans- 
critised and wholly free from Persian, eminently befits 
the gossipy tendency of the work. The story is enlivened 

by frequent introduction of descrip- 
and manner, . 

tions, dialogues, letters and anec- 
dotes ; and the narrative towards the end, describing the 
Raja's acquaintance with the Nawab, his joining the 
conspiracy, his negoeiations with the Enghsh, and the 
ultimate triumph of his party with the defeat of the 
Nawab is told in a connected and interestinsr manner, 
with a large infusion, however, of fiction which may not be 
strictly acceptable to the historian. But it is this ming- 
ling of fact and gossip that makes the work so interesting 
to the general reader. The work begins with a preli- 
minary account, legendary and historical, of jiedigrees and 
ancestries, then narrates the story of Raja Krsna- 
ehandra's birth, his marriage, his religious work, a 
description of his residence called Sifja-nifjasa, his 
amusements, his acquaintances with Nawab Siraj, his 
joining a conspiracy started b}' ^IirJa'far and others 
against the Nawab, his delegation to the English at 

Calcutta by the conspirators, his 

A descriptioQ of the negociations there with the Bada- 

-saheb of the Factory, flight of Raj- 

ballabh and bis son, correspondence between the Nawab 

and the English, the Nawab's descent upon Calcutta, 

agreement with MlrJa'far, the meeting of the English and 


the Mohammedan forces at Plassey^ flight of Siruj and 
his assasination bv Mlian ; ami then the story ends 
with a short account of the posterity of the Rujii. We 
give here an extract from the passage describing the 
Raja's joining the conspiracy, which will serve as a speci- 
men of botli its language and manner.' 

^t^ [f^^] ^-im^ ^trn<ii 5i^^t^ ic^ « ^t^ ?^t^5rt^«i 

^ (?fc»nT "STsi^ ^^^?i ^ (Tf*ttr«^^tft ^f%^^^ ^^-nr tT^t 

^1 %^5sn ^1 ^r^:^ ^^t^ f^^rs 5^tt ^t ^'^^ ^^ iTt^i 
f?35^ ^t?i ^f^^ "srf^^t^l ^tsMr?^ ^ ^1^1 ■srt^^?^ 
fc(<T iTt^^ (?i5i5^ ^ ^f^i:^ (?rt^^' ^qn% ^^ t^t^ ^f5(?l 

f^^ ^?rl ^t^ ^t^t^ ^f^TC^ I fr^ ^^ ftf^ ^^(^:^?f 

^^» ^T51 ^l^'S ^fs >T^si ^>15I ^t^ W^m ^t?0^ ^t^^ 

C'Ft^ "Sf^fr J^^t^ >itC?r^ ^ Ti:? "sif^ lil^; 'si^Ttfs "STs^i;^ ^tf'f 
^f^ f^t'I (71 ^ ^^1 (21^ viit^«l f^C^EfSil ^f^citl (iJ 1^ 

' Kr^nachandra Rayer Charitra, pp. 65-73, 


^^c« ^^ ^Ic^ 1%^ (?f*f ^^1 ^t^ ^ ^^°N ^^5 c^tc^^ ^tfs 
^«i ^t^l ^t^ ^1^ ! ^c^^ '^r^^ ^'-t ^RC's 5[^t^i sjc^s 

%^^ ^t5i1 ^^5^ ^t^ ^1% ^? 5fft ^t^tC^ '^iKitfl f^"St>l1 

^^t ^^^ f^f^ c^^^ ^ ^?rr5i»f fwc^5{ (Ti^^i-s ?FtnT ^T%^ ^'^^ 

Wt^l f ^5^ ^t^ ^t ^t'^tC« ^C^^ t^t^^ f^^t>l1 ^^«f (71 (71 
^ ^twl f ^53 ^tl^ 5!^^^ fSf^^l ^1%C^ ^f^i >i^f^ m-\^ 

^T^iTs^^^ ^^t^*l fff^s ifl ^^5 ^|»5^J CT (71 ^^^ '^tf'l fsi?:^ff5? 
^f% -^1^1 2J^«l ^^J? ^W^fff(:^f^ Cff*ftf^^t€T f^f^ If^ ^r^ 

^sjf^^jt^ %^t^tf^ 'II ^rti^ t^Q ^"H:^ ^^51 ^^in^ 'srtsit^ 

si^^t^^t ^t^ "1^ ^^^ ^^^^^ ^f^ ^'^'^ ^^ ^^^^ ^"f^ 
^f5?<l1 ^t^ ^^ ^5t C^^ fj?^t^«l ^C^ ^1 ^sir^R (2f¥l^ c£l c^f^f 

^^^t^ ^^^5 -sjxs^n^ (?f^r^ ^^1 ^^^ ^f%c^ ^t^t^ ^t'^ 5itf^^ 


■sTp:^^ ^f^ ^Ft^ 'ii ^n:^T<T ^t^1 ^ »c^ ^^?i 5i5?5i ^^^ I 

*f^f^'v^ "^^^ ^! (Tlt^ -sff^ ^ (2t^ ^2tf^ ^9f^ tnrt <il^t '^ToTS 

*^?T^t^ji f»fC2^ ^it^^ ^1^ ffi^ <Tt^t^ ^r^^ ^«i ^t^^f?c^ 

sr^Jii ^^iw >nr?! 5(^ ^^^r^is- 1 ^rj^ ^^rt^ 9|^ ^^^?7t^ ^%^ 
'it?t^ ^9^ ^f^ ^«t^ "Ttf^i ^5 ^f% fV^ ^|Ft<^fin:^r^ ^t^i 

'pf^^lslfl c^fl ^f?nr1 55tf«f5T ^fiics^:^^ c^ ^fwf^t?^ 

■srtfif ^«(T ^ 'Ft^ ^^t^ ^<I«1 f^ral 'ftf'F C^T^ ^51 ^<l^t bU 
C^tfiil f^f^ ^? mr?^ tV^Jf Tf?^ m^^ 'F^l «ftf^ ^tC^ 
^^ 5f?ra "srtf^ 'TTSt -^\-5 -STTf^ I ^^ ^*mT ^ ?rt^ iTfl- 


^^m ^%^ ^^f^ w:m ^ ^^M^ c^tll^ ^^ ^^^^ 

^r^ f^f%^ 51^ >it^^c^ 5t^^ -si^^ ^t^t^ I'ft^ c?5{ I ^1 

^trt^f^c^m ^t®fj ^t^^^ =^ft ^r^ c^t^ ^^^^ t%i ^^^t^l 
^sftr^ fir«t^ f^^ ^f^^ ^t^ ^^ I "^ ^^msk '^fwi'^ 

f ^5^ ^t^^^ f^^ ^f^^l ^ms] '^ ^ 'JtiR ^^t'^ ^f^c^^ I 

The name of ]\rrtyufijay Bidyalankar, for many }ears 
the chief Pundit of the College of Fori AVilliam and for 
some time Carey's own' Munsi, whom Homo has 

immortalised iu Carey's portrait', is 
Mrtjnfijny Bidya- ^^^ important one in the literary 

history of this period. Nothing 
practically is known about his life, but he is said to have 

' A likeness of this will be found in William's Scrampore 
Letters (1800-1810). It may be remarked here that Mifynfijay's 

IHNDITS AM) Ml \Sl.s :>0l 

been boni in l?(i:2 ;it Miiliiapore (then iiieludeil in Orissa) 
iuul L'lliieateil at Nature. In pliysiiiui- aiitl knoulc*il<;i', 
he ha^^ been comparcnl to Dr. Jolinson, and ho was held in 
liii;h anil deserved estimation.. In the iMiLrhsh preface to 
l^ruhod/i-c/taiuhika wliieh was edited in Ifei-io altt-r 

Mrtyunjay's death, Marslinian 
Marshniuu's tribute. eulogises the learned pundit as " one 

of tlve most profound scholars of the 
a«?e." '• At the iiead of the establishment of Pundits," 
Marshman writes elsewhere', "stood Mrityunjoy, who 
althou^^h a native of Orissa,- usually ret^anled as the 
Bcetia of the country, was a colossus of literature. "' He 
bore a stron<; resemblance to our i^ieal lexieo;^rai)her not 
only by his stupendous aeijuiremeuts and the soundness 
of his critieal juil<:;ments but also in his rout^^h features 
ami his unwieldly ligure. His knowledt^e of the Sanscrit 

title was Butyalaiikar aud not Turkalahkur us lut'iitioiiod by Diiiosli 
Chandra Sen in Uistunj (p. 886). See Roebuck, cp. cit. App. II. p. :i'.» : 
also Smith, op. cit. p. 170. 

' Hiitory of Serampote Mifstun. 

• Mrtynnjay seenjs to have been as piolaiont in the (Jijiya dialect 
as in Beiiyali. It was his help that enabled Carey to translate the 
Scriptures into the Udiyii diakct. (Smith, vp. cit. ]>. 190). 

^ In this connexion, M. M. llai-apras<id Sastri, in tiie lecture 
referred to before, speaks of Mrtyuftjay as an Udiya bnt it niigbt 
be noted here that although born in a province of Urissu, it is very 
doubtful whether Mftjiinjay was really an Udiya. From the edition 
of his work Rajabun, published in 188U by a person calling himself the 
writer's grandson, it seems that ho belonged to the Cliattopadhyfiy 
class of Bengali Bnihmans : for the title-page of the nforesaiil 
edition says :— "aiT'Fp:?!^ Q^S ^'HStHj ^\^ ^\^W^ ^t ^f ^I9l ^^'tH'S 
t|6 «^ m -5^ 5^ 2r^(f»I3 I 1*1 m%^'\ l" UAm-n>ohau U«y, again, 
{Worka: Fauiai OlSco Reprint, p. 64«) calls Mftyuftjay a BhatUichiiryya 
and hi.s omtrovoniy with the I'undit is styled by himself at 
®5t&Kini ^3 (^6ta I MftyuAjay was a Rridiya Bnihman (itCJJ? 5t^ 

^^':« Ji^H I ) 


classics was uurivalledj and \n> Bengali composition has 
never been superseded for ease, simjjlicitv and vigour. 

Mr. Carey sat under his instruction 
Relation to Carev. two or three hours daily while in 

Calcutta, and the effect of this 
intercourse was speedily visible in the superior accuracy 
and purity of his translations" ' . He was specially 
attached to Carey and it was at Carey's suggestion that 
he undertook the literary works which constitute his 
chief contribution to Rengali literature and language. - 

The literary labours of Mrtyunjay, embracing almost 
the whole of this decade (1802-1813), 

His works consist, besides a Defence of Idolatory 

and a treatise on the Hindu Law of 

Inheritance'*, of the following four publications, of which 

' Carey never, however, was influenced b\- Mrtyun jay's pompous, 
affected, sanscritiscd lauguape. His native instinct for realism saved 
him from this extreme. 

- Mrtyuiijay was also one of the jurists of the Supreme Court ; 
and when the atritation about Sail was at its height and the whole 
body of law-pundits wrote of it as "permitted," Mrtyuiijay gave 
his opinion that, according to Hinduism, a life of mortification rather 
self-immolation was the law for a widow. 

^ Rev. J. Long,. Return of the Names and Writingi- of 515 Persons 
connected with Bengali Literature. (1855), p. 135. This work, Defence 
of Idolatory, as mentioned by Long, seems to have been the same as the 
Bedunta Chandrika against which Ram-mohan Ray wrote his -s^lbU^X 
Jlf^ f^5til (1817) and his English tract "A Second Defence of 
the Mouotheisticol System of the Yeds in Reply to an Apology for the 
present State of Hindu Worship" (1817). Says Miss Collect: 
" Another defendant of Hinduism appeared some months later in the 
Head Pundit of the Government College at Calcutta, Mrityunjoy 
Vidyalankar, who published a tract called Vedanta Chandrika." (Life and 
Letters of Raja Rammohan Boi/.p. 23. See also Nagendranath Chatterji, 
Life of Rammohan Ray in Bengali, p. 103). The Bedanta Chahdrika 
was printed both in Bengali and in English, and defended the current 
form of idolatorous Hinduism against Ram-mohun's party. It shows 


two are original works and two translations from 
Sanscrit. : — 

1 Bdfri's Sim/ia'<(i//, 1802. 

2 Hifopaih's, 1 808 . -2 nd Kd .1811. :i rd Ed . 1 82 1 . 

3 UrijaUn, 1808. 

+ PrahotJh Chfunhika, 181. 'J. 

BafriH Sim/ia'i<i/i is a close Iranslation in 

l)lain simple Henyali of a very I'opiilar and wt-ll-known 

Sanscrit work wInCli is some- 
Tran8lntioi)<». . • i n • . 

times supposed to l)e ol Biiddlustic 

oripfin, sometimes attributed to no less a writer than 

Kalidasa.' The title literalK' means 

Btittii Sinihasan. 

moans the //t/r///-//r(i Ifirouen but it 
should be rather the tJiirfi/-lirtt inmi/i'x of BilramUdlti/n^x 

all the scholarship and sincerity of nn orthodox piindif, but at the 
same time it is marked by a deplorable tone of violence and personal 

' The first edition (which is in the Tnijterinl Lilirnry, Calcnthi) bears 
the following tith'-pncrc : ^fiPl fJl's?|Jiil | >1?5tl? ^t^tC^S I ?^a5»t'Stl 
f^V.1 1 §|^t1T-'3 f t*tl 5t^ I ikr.^ I pp.210. The copy in tiio Hritish 
Mnsenm Library bears the followinp title-jmge; ^faW f'lt^Pl't I 
^'911 ■'^•tl fe^trS I ii^'tr I Hocbiick. (>}>. cit. havinff apparently seen 
thia edition pives 1808 as the date of its first publication; and 
this has been the usual date piven by those who follow him 
(e.g. Lonp, Ram-pati Xytlynratna etc.) Hut Rnchanan, «}>. rit. in 
J805 mentions this publication at p. 222, thonph lie pives no exact 
date. The title-pape of tlie London reprint says : ?if^3!T)lf*fC*)U 

^ftpn ^[vi^\ fr*x?t^ w.m i it^icii 's\^m I iii?^T»« "rt'it ?f5T i ^^fi^ 

l^t^tf^^CS 5ltl ^t^ 1 'i^'i>> I T'le edition in the Library of the Board 
of Examiners (London reprint) bIso bears 18111 as the date of 
publication. The BafteabAsi reprint is from the latter edition but some 
alterations in spellinp etc., make the book less valuable to the 
student. Similar reinurki apply to its edition of Prabodh-chaudrika and 
Rajaball. There was a SrirSmpur reprint in 1818. as is evident 
from the entry in the Cntnlogue r>f the CnlcuUn Puhtic Library 
(1898) and another reprint iis late as 18X4 as the c<.py in the 
SShitva Tari^at Librarv ni d entry in the Cnln'cque of Bengali 


Ihroiir.'^ Each of these iiiiao^es is introduced as tellino: a 
story descriptive ol" the princely character of that Kini^, 
and sliowinn' that a prince wortliv itf succeeding liim 
cannot he found. The earher style of Mrtyunjay, as 
disi)layed \\\ this work, if not superior to that of some of 
his contemporaries, was certainly less affected and pedantic 
than his latei- style, althougii somewhat sanscritised. It 
presents a great contrast indeed in language and manner 
at once to Carey's Dialnf/nos as well as to ProiapadHi/n- 
rliarifra published only a year before itself and hipimaKi 
published in the same year. As on the one hand, it is 
marked by a total absence of Persian influence and a 
decided tendency to sanscriticised style, so on the other, 
by its ]n"eference of the classical language, it rises Ruperior 
to the eolloqualism and flatness of the Dialoffne.s. The 
story with its framework is well-known. When 
Bikramaditya dies, his throne, the precious gift of Indra 
who was pleased with the King's excellent qualities, is 
buried, and for a long time remains hidden. Many years 
afterwards, a peasant cultivating his land discovers that, 
when sitting on a platform in the midst of his field, he 
becomes endowed with the ijualitios of great discern- 
ment and decision. By the direction of Bhoja, the reigning 
monarch of the country, the ground is dug u]i, 
and the lost throne is duly discovered underneath the 
platform. When the king, in the midst of a large circle 
of courtiers is about to take his seat there, the first 
image informs him, that without Bikramaditya's qualities. 

Printed Bools in the Britislt Miii>eum show (]>. G7). The London pd. 
t)i' 1834 i.c; also mentioned in the Catalogue of the Library of the East 
India College. 

' It is nlRo somctimps known nn Bikranwchnritra, hpcausp King 
nikrama is the hero, tales of whose prowess and virtue are told hy 
the thirty-two images of his cliarnied throne iliscovorcd by Blioju. 


he is unwortliy to occupy Biki;nnil(litya's throne. Kxphma- 
tion ensues : and a story is toKl fiy each one of the thirty- 
two imasjes in succession, ilhistrative nj" the forin«M- king;'s 
j^reat and «i;ood ((uah'tics and iin|»lyin<i- that a worthv 
successor to him has not yet l>een })i'iii ainoniist the soiTs 
of men. It is one of the most interestini; collections of 
fables of this period ' and the followiny^ extract from 
the Ix'sj^iimiui;, relatimjf to tlw tindinfj and disposin<ij of 
the ma;Ljjie throne, will >^tivt' as a specimen of its descrip- 
tive and narrative manner — 

The opening passage 
on the Discovery of ^^^^ '^^ff^^t^el ^^^ C^ f^Tt^t^^ ^f^^^t^ 
the Ihronc, f|iiotefl. 

f^^t^ ^t 1— 

5ff^«i (Tfc*f «rr^i ^\ui -fl^ nil ff^ cn^ ^^f?:^^ T^^z^ 

S^tf^^''^^ ^t-SlC^-m 5ftf ^ Tf?rft ^St ^t^ C^lfft ^'f^ JffMt 4'5|^ 

?t^^ ^^»i^<i *f>T5F sT^^ J^fiT*! "srtf^ '«":^'P ^fs «■? 'sitf'i^i 7\l\^ Ji? 

' Yatos gives no less fhnn 1 1 st'ir?o« from tin's hook in his seloc. 
tion r\n(l Haughton gives l 


sicJ^T ii^ 5f'<p ^f%?fl ^^f^ ^9ttr« 'ttf^^ ^?:^^ ^^^^ ^^^«i 
^f'T^il 'ft?:^ ^^'^'i ^t^tf«(^tc^^ c^i^ *^r»ti 's »rtJR ^s si^cfi 

(:^\^^if^l ^t^i 5if? ^t^i"? l^^ c^^t^f^^ ^h^ ic^^ f^^c^ f^i?ii 
<ii^ ^i'^ ^im ^^i<f "^^i^m^ I c^t 5ilt ^t^"« 51?:^^ ^'ir,^ 

c^t^^ ^^ (^^) ■sit!:^^ "st^tf^ *tf%5j:-5 :^^r.^ ^t^n^fif^t^^t?! ?^ i 
t^ ^*5^ ^f<^^\ :5C^N ^ft^ vi^«i CTt '^t^ ^^^ ^f^c^ 
i^t TT^I ^t^ %^^ I ^^"t^ mini f^T^<^1 «m^ ^f^^ 

55f^t^ %^T5 ^'ii^t^i 5if^^fr«n:^ ^f^ ^f^*t 'j^^f^^tc^ c'ntf^T 

^tsfl s ^i^t^ ^f^^^ c^tc^^l f^??t^^ ^f^ ^^;:?it^5i ^^v^ 

^t^1 ^tt^^1 ?^T^C^^1 (^mi) f^'s^t^J^ 51^3^ ^t^«i w.^^ ^^ 

^■^t^® f^^^t^^ ^^tntc'f ^ta^i I 

'*l^t^ ''pl&^in ^^r^ C*ftf^^ ^t5i^'»t ^"R^^ 1C«1T '?tf*i^ 


C^rtC^^r^'IC^ "SiH^l^ll ga^ei fi^^^ci ?pf?f^ 1-5T^C^?rftf^tC^ 

W\^ -5f3*f3 ^fs^q^il ^t^«t^ ^C^C« ff*^«1tfw -sifjf^t^ Jit15it 

^?ftt*ti 'jr^dt?^ ^c^z's f^fe ^^" ^itg ^'ii 'Ut >!^5| ttc^t«= 

<Tt^ff%C^^ Tf^llt "SJt^^t^i^ ^r^5l ^t^t^ f^^C5 fs^^vfsf <Ff<jq I 
f^I'v^tTCi^^T fiT^C^ ^nf^ ^tC^st t^^>ItC^ (IsT^^^) P!*s^t^CS^5J 

m^ "x^f^^i ?rt^t^^ ^f^:^ 5itfsn:?i5{ i C5 ^t^i s^ (?i ^T^1 

gef-Tf^l -sfsr^ ^^^\^ -s{Vl*\^ tftsl "sIsT'S (fgf^ "Slfs^^ '^^ Ttf^^ 

^ffi^i^ c? n^gl^^i ^tfsi Jir^ipi srrr? ^^^ ^t^ ^f^v^i j^tIj ^i'p 
•5ir?t^ «*t "sffif^ ^Tfmi ^r?n:q t^t?:©^ ^f^qt^ ^fii ^fr f 1 1 ' 

Mrtyunjay's next work of translation was that of 

HHopadt'ii. The Sanscrit /litojjuileis, 
Hitoyadei. , • i i • i i 

tlian which there iniu:nt l)e greater 

books in the world but none jjcrhaps wliieh has a more 

interesting; lit-'r;uy history, seems to have, with strange 

prescience, j^ugeil the literary or amiisivc re(|iure- 

m 'nts not only of its own hut also of times to follow : 

anil consequently it seems to have always possessed a 

peculiar fascination for a host of translators of all periods 

» pp. 2-8. 


ol' literary histxny. There are some halt" a dozen or more 

traiislatioQs of thi.< work between 1300 and ISoO, and it 

i.s not necessary to briu^ under review all of them. But 

this Version beini^ the work <jf Mrtyunjay i)ossesses a 

peculiar iiilerest of its own. ijon<^ gives 1801 as the 

date of its i)ublication : but from internal evidence of 

language and manner it seems that 
Irs date. i i • ti- i 

the date is a too early one. \> e have 

not been able to obtain sight of the lirst edition in order 

to verify the date * : but the work seems to have been 

composed later than as Golak-nath liilopades and 

exemplifies Mrtyunjay's earlier 

Us language aud * ' 

style compared to style. It would be interesting to 
those of Gulak.uath. c^^^ipare Golak-nath's language as 
shown in the specimen quoted at j). 183 rl seq. with that 

' The copy I use is a third reprint at yriranipur (1814) and 
bears the followinj; title-page : 'l^'if ■2r?f3 ^tf^^ff? 5^« ^%^ I 
f^^^trs ^ft^Sf f^sr? JTftf I ils65"5|TIt^?^ Rf»tl 1%rst*tUf»t I f^'l'il 

^1? ^■^ ?^ I i^^iS I pp. I-IW. I have not been able to get the 
first edition of this work. The copy in the British Museum 
Library (Blumhardt, Catalogue, p. 67 and p. 115) of the second 
edition bears 1814 as the date of publication. 3rd Ed. 1821. It 
would appear from Dinosh Chandra Sen, Bahya Sahitya Parichay 
or Selection from Bengali Literature, jit. ii (1914) \) 1727, that the 
first edition was published ii\1801. Hut this is incorrect ; this is the 
date of the lirst edition of Uulak-naths Hitopailei. There is mention 
of a "Hitopadeshu in Bengali 8vo. Serampore 1808" in the Catalogue 
of the Library of the Ea><t India College. But in the Catalogue of the 
Library of the Hon. East India Company, we tind an entry of 
"Hitopadeshu or Salutary Instrmtions. 8vo. Serampore. 1808" without 
anv meution of the name of the author and of an edition nj>parently of 
Golak-nath'a earlier Hitopttdet (1801). From the Tenth Memoir, 
relative to Serampore translation (Appendix), it is clear that the 
first edition of .Mrtyuiijay's Hitopadei was published in ISU8, 
and therefore the anonymous entry in the Catalogue of the Eagt India 
College above noted must refer to this work. 


of .Mrtyiifijiiy in tlic following- extractj bearini^ upon 
the same part of llie story.' 

^T^^t^ c^-'K^nu ^U 5?f^^1 ^W^ ^w.^ -srf^fj? CT 
^fC^R ^^fu^T 9 ^fsf^^ C^^ I ?ft^ C^t^ -51^^ S "Sfsic^^ 

^Jfii ^t<ii ml '^^x "sf'f f5^i ^nrc^^i "sff^ ^^^fV c^c'f 

^R ^|5.51K^^ ^^ ^C^ en? Ijjm^ 5'?ff^J ^T^fC^ *ft9^t^ I 

^U si ^fci ^^ 'iT^ «(5{ ^tfs jfj ^t^ ^c^ ^^rs ^«f it^ i i? f^^ 
pt^'Jtrs Ftc>ii^ rsifsira ^5 f^st^l »tt^r^^ ^T^^tc^ -sitw^'pl 

?R "51^^ CIZ^J^ ^^ ^tC3J 51'qg c^ fs^ en -515)911 3^?} 5^1 cn^ 

c^f^ ^(ca<T fc^cs ^f^c^?T n^c^ ^ 5ic^ 5^f3 'p^l ^jtrsc^ 

^Ci 9 "sff^ ^ m 5?c» "Bit^^ei ^r^^i f^i^i ^ttrsi^ I— 
^ftt^^t "stciT ^ttsf^in;^ ^\c^ ^^\^ ^K5 cn«(fc^ n^^i 

?r|^3^«t ^ ^'f'H ^r^si ?Tf^1 fefl^ Cn^ ^'{fs li)^ >R5 

'Ft^fo ^|V 'i^jsfr^ ct^f-^^g »i=i-i ^Htc^j? st^t?T 'I'f ^^ 
w,^"^ w.^'A^ srti^ ii^t "s^ftsT-ip r^<[c^^ ^1^5^ CI "ft II en 
jf^^iii 5f t^ ^t^f^ ^t en "51* I ^ti cTf-iii 9 Jt^n'^r^ ? 

» f^-Stnum, pp. 3-8. 



¥f«(5'fC5 r^^ ^C<It5f^ ^ft ^^Ts ^1«f5^ C^^^ ^?Tf% ^t^l I 

m c^c^¥ ^I'si^?! ^^^f^ ^:^sft?(^ ^?j ^f%5i n^i ^tf 

^%1 si^tS «t^ ^§J1 ?9?ltS «t^ »f^ ^^Tl ^9?ltS ^t^ 5f^ 

^^^^«i H*ttf^ ^t^fc^ c^ 5if^?ii m ^i^ I ^9(:^ ^gf^>i^^ 
^^^1 9 crW 9 r^ftH 9 sf5(r#c^« ^T^t^ ^^ n^^ ^1 ^ 

^mi n^,5 f^l ^f^C^ ^U^ ^1 I ^^ f5^ 

c«i ^r9?:«^1 "^l^U ^^i\ ^^*i ^^^ I ^t?:^ c^^ liii^ ^r«N5 
^i^rr^rc^ #t5 CT^^ 5i^^c«^ ^jf^ 5(t^«i ^:^ c^^ ^Q« 
c^tc^^w^ nf^^ ^t^n^^ ifs ni^tc^ ^t^ ^^? ^ C^t^^^C^f^ 


57t5 ^^ ^11(^3 ^?i J(i 1 ^f^ -3 owzn f^rg^i >i^t^ ^:^vii 

From a literary point of view, however, Mrtyufi- 

jay's two original works, fiajaljall and 
Oriicinal works. ^^ , u j 7 • > - • i. i. 

Prafjoilh'C/iaiidnkii are more interest- 
ing ; and of the^e, Rdjuhall, both in form :ind matter, 

is no doubt the better work. /.Jjal/afJ 

•' as its name implies, is the 'histor\ 01 

the kings' who ruled in this country from the earliest 

time, audits full title will sullieiently explain its scope' :— - 

' The description of this work in Diuesh Chandra Sen's Hixtory 
(p. 888) as "the history of India from the earliest time down to 
Timur" is clearly a mistake : for the history is brought down to 
recent times viz. the time of the British occupation of Bengal. 
The title-iwge given in the te.xt above is that of later editions but in 
the first edition the title-page simply says :— ^t^f?^ I ^ISS;^ ^!ltr5 | 
^^195 "rt'tl fe^rnS I 3lHt^1.^ f t*tt ^«1 I ^^»^\ pp. 1-295. Second Ed. 
Serampore, IHU. Also mentioned ns such in the catalogues of tho 
Library of Bard of Examiners, Fort William College ; of the Library of 
the Hon. East India Company ; of tlie Library of the East India College. 
4th Ed. Serampore, 183ti. 


^ts-t^^ i '^'ft^ ^Fi^ (2jt^-g ^^is I's^t^^^ ^mt^ ^;*ir3 

^t^T^^^ ^t^l ^ ^irtk^f^ ^ir^-^ tf^^t^ I The work 
is, however, based more on tradition than on autlientic 
history. The introductory portion gives the story of the 
ancient Hindu Kings since the days of Kuruksetra, 
based mostly on the PaurUnik accounts and traditionary 
letjrends : and of these the account of Kin<; Bikramadil^'a 
is the longest and most enter<ainin<]c. The storv comes 

down to tlie liistoric times of the 
Tlie scope of the Molmmmedan contiuest and there is 

work. _ 

some account of Adi^ur, Ballrd Sen, 
Laksman Sen of Bengal and Prtl.u and Jayachandra of 
Delhi and Kanauj. Then follows a sketch of the Fathan 
and Mogul kings of Deliii, and of these the stories of Akbar, 
Jahanyir, Shah Jaliiin and Auranu:zeb will be found 
inleresting. Thete accounts, however, are not strictly 
historical but there is a considerable infusion of gossip 
and fiction. The woik (nds with an account of the 
British occupation of Bengal after the defeat of Sirajud- 
daulah, worth comjiarison with that given by Rajib 
Lochan in /ui/'a hrsyin C/un/dni liayt'i' CliarHra. The 
concluding passage is interesting : — i£i?^d ^^^?*f5?t« 

■i{A\A ^t^si^it 'I1 ^^T"? C^t^ C^t^ ^"51^ ^tS^t^CTr^ S ^^K^^CW^ 

l^^s?! "^n ^^V c^ftft^ -^-^M-i ^fsT ^jsT-j^sf 5rfc5j 51? 

^^It^ ^^«1 I There are numerous anecdotes but the story 
is presented in a connected form and the style is marked 


I'v nanalive cas^o and sinij»lieily, although a( plafis where 

the author iiiows seiious, it Uconies 

Its l:iiif,'ua«t. aiitl hihouretl and |)odantie. The >tyle 
iiiaiiiHT horik'iiiitr on i- a r i - • i i i- i- 

tin- pi'daiitic. ^' Mrtyunjay liowevtr lias a cJi>tnK'- 

liou di" its (iwii \\hcn contrafitod with 
Ihosr of his contemporaries. It shows a decided leaning 
to Sanscrit words and Sanscritie forms, just as the styles 

of Carey, Rilni Hasu, or Chandicharan 

contraste.1 witli ii.e '^''"\^' '^ »"^'t"l" ^^ the Colloquial 

pluii. coll.. .,11 ial styles language. In .Mrt \ ufiiav's writings, 
of Carey uikI others. . . J . » > 

tlierc is an attempt to raise the 

laniruage from the negligence of collo(|uialism to the dig- 

nitv and seriousness of a literar\ language ; while in 

Carey and others, the desire is alwa\s to be clear, popular, 

ami useful, lint it must be admitted that in the more 

serious jjortions of Mrtyufijay's writings, the prejjonder- 

ance of Sanscrit words and Sanscrit foims niakes the 

syntax inartistic and the style stiff and unnatural. In 

the narrative portions, however, this fault disa]»pears, and 

the general manner in this work although bordering on 

the pedantic, is indeed interesting, of which the follov^ing 

short passage taken from the account of Pithu and 

Jayachamlra will serve as a specimen' : — 

^^'in^t^ ^^ ^^^rs <?i i2t^tc^ ^i]n ■sifjf^t^J ^f^^i it^l 

fifV I— 

^s;^^ cwci^ ^1^1 ^^im ?itcM?r 5i5^t^^ ^^■\3r^ ffc^ 

vfl'T? T5 «(^ %515? ^ftC'F ^C?1CT ^ftC^ flf«^« cfl^^^t 

All extract from "^ 

the arrotint of th. ^^~ ^^^^^ ^^^^ ^^^^ -SJS^^^Iglft 

hostintv of I'lthii V 

"'"' J".vachaM.lra. ^^^ ^^ ^^^ ^^ ^^^ ^^^^^ ^^^^ 

f^'\m^ f^f^ir.^ CJl (Ji ^S ^^f"^^ ^5 ^t^r^CW?! 5it*tT CF^ ^1^t^ 

» pp. 100.106. 


sfC^t^ s ^^ 5?1 I ^l^ ^tWl ^^ f^^^ ^r^"^ ^t?l1 ^2ftC^ 
fw^t>!l ^f^C^l^ C^ ^tfl C^t1f< f^^t^ M^l'Q C^ ^^ ^^fe 

^r^rs\^ c^ 5i^t^t^ ^t^'f^ ^tit^ ^^1 ^t^5^^^ c^ 5151'? -jt^t^ 

'sitst^t;:^ ^f? 3if^1^ Tf^fs =5if^ ^ ^t^i ^1 ^^ ^z^^ 
^st^t^ ^f^r» ^t^^ 'sitfsi ^t^^r^t^ ^^1 ^?t^ 1^ f^^t^ 

^t¥T ^f^<l1 ^t^'^?I ^:^^ ^t^"? ^f%^ ^^^ ^ts^t^^T^ f^'J^*! 
f^l W^ 'J^^tSft^ ^t^l5[^ ^t^ ^st^tW ^ft^ ^^ 51^^ 

^t^ ^t ¥9rt^« (71 f^5i?c«i 'Sitters ^1 1 ^t^j^^^ ^t^i 

•5l^c£l^ f^fl^ ^tsit^ ^f^f^f^ ^^ '^< isir^s'll f^^tl ^^^ ^C^ 
^^^ ^C'S^ ^t^'g ^f^^tfe^^ ^t^T^ 'l^ f^l f't^ C^t^^ ^tiT- 


'F^ft^Tff'I^IJT "srt^tt^S C^f^'t ^J'^ ^^ ^W^ ^fV^l ^sit^^ 

^f?jc^^ c^^^\ 5TT5'^ ^rs T^^hi c^ CT ^t^t^i "sitfji^i 'itc^^ 

c^t^^ 5f5Ft^^ ^^ >fft^i^ ^r?i?ii ^«T^ ^^tf5?« ^^ ^f5c?i^ I 

^t%^ 511 1 5^5^ ^t^ "STt^^ ^f^Jt^ '-iit f^"^ ^fsi?!! ^srt^ 

■S ^fe^J? CTf^ ?f?1 ^^1 Tt^tt ^<T f^ral I i^t^ ^^n "SRI 
C?pt^? ^^^5? C^t^^<T ^fGTC^ "silfJ!?! ^fj^?:*!^ | .i) Tf^fcl f^ 

C^ ci) ^^^^ CT\ ^n^ ^^ f^"? f^ n\ ^?tr5 trrt?I 5ff3 l^ 
^^t^ C^ "SlsPg "BI^rST ^r^^t^ CSfJTf^ '^Tt^r 5R'9 ■SRT'fl 

^«(^ 9 5tc^ ^1 tf 1 f^-^g wffj?ii 1 ^t^^ niT f^^\ 55-5t^c^ 
*rT^Tt^ ■5rt^f^9 >i^WT ^tJ'T^'9 (TfC»f itTR ^f^J^?!?? 55oife 
^^55 ?ft5t^ ^TC^ %1 (?I mr f^fr^T^I I f^^ mm ^t^1 CT *t^t< 
'5l^'5(i5 ^ r^l ^ g<T f^5^ 5rt I 'Jtft^ 55»tC^?T ^^^ 


^ts?1 t^1 '^f^l'^ ^^^ W:^r,^] -siif^li ^ji-^\w\^ ^51C5lT^ Jlff^ 

PnifjoiJh-ckandnka^ or Moon-light of InfellijU'euce, his 
next g-reat original work, is indeed 

Prnhodh-chnndvika, ^ ^^^^^ interesting publication of this 
1S13 . 

period from tlie standpoint of fcirni 

andlangnage, if not for its matter. It is an elaborate treatise 

' This work, thouiih composed in 1813, was not published till 
1833, when it appeared from the Seramiiorc Press with a Preface 
by J. C. Marshmau (dated lodi May, 1833). The title-pa^e says : — 

f^f^^ ^[Fs I ^lilR^l? \St^ft?IO ^ff%« ^%^ I ib'^* I pp. 1--195. 
The Pruhodh Chundrikn compiled by the late Mrityunjoy 
Vidyulunkar, many years Chief Pundit in the College of Fort William, 
From the Seranipore Press. 1833". pp. i-xi and I — lir,. The fount is 
very neat and clear. There was a second edition at Serampore 
in 1845 as the Cntnlcgue of Bengali Printed Books in the Libniry 
oj the Biitish J/ioeuHi p, 07 shows. Another edition in the Sahitya 
Pari.sat Library dated 1862, Serampore. Also another edition 1862, 
with the followinf? title-page in English and Bengali : "The 
Prabodh Chandrika compiled by the Late Mrityunjoy Bidyalankar 
for many year.s Chief Pundit in tlie Colleije of Foit William. 
Calcutta. Printed for the Calcutta University at the Baptist Mission 
Press, 1862. ^tC^li^sr^^t I ^^3 ?^TS^ f^ItrTt^^l^ ^"^ f^^^^l I 

»tf t^1 i-ltrS i" "All these editions may be seen to the Stlhitya Pari.'jat 
Library. Kntored as "Prubodh Chnndrika by Mrityunjoy Vidyulunkar, 
8vo. Serampore, 1833" in the C'dalojuc of the Library of the Hon. 
East Indi<i Company, 18-lo, p. 105. 


of some luiii^th dividctl iiilu four parts calleil -3^^, each 
of which a;,'aiM is subdivided into t-hapters called 
^^sj. The book bei^ins with the praise of laiii,nia<;e, 
which, however, as (pioted below, will not be found very 

entertainin«; for its still and pedantic 

Objpct and scope of i i ii 

the work as put lurtli ^^yle, but Will somewhat exemplify 
nas™ '"''^'•"'••'"••y and explain the Pundit's preference 

for Sanscrit : — 

^tttStf^ ^^tfrt «f^1 S JTt^tW^?! sra^T Sftfl?! sf^- 

•srt^^ 1 ^3isi ^f^ 'i^'sT^I 5^^^^^^ ^^ I 

f^c^?rw^ »N1 1 35f^^< ^f»«n'35 ^<sftul nsif|5rf3i^ «t^t 

f9-<\ ji'm »t^l (7R^ iC^t S5^t^^r*t^ f^r^^^ f»f9 ^oMI I 
3T^n$t^ ^«ff»!'H 5$»Tl »H1 C^'R C«lTf^^ "Ttft^ »1^ I ^f^f^'f 

^?n^^Tt^1 5^ I 

218 bi:ng.\li literature 

^fs'sti^tl'S C^^IC'5 ^^"s^ ^fSitf^ils C?*t ^'Q^ ^'sT^'^'tZ^ 
^^^ C^\f%^ ^W^ ^1^1 ^«^ C^fif^l<l ^^t^ 'sif*^^ ^ 

Then Kinor Baijpal, son of Bikraniiiditya, summons 
his yonnij^ and frolicsome child .Siidhariidhara before 
him and, in order to infuse in the son a love of 
learning, begins a discussion on the subject. Afterwards 

he entrusis the instruction of his 

The framework of , a i - d ui -i i i 

the treatise. ^«" ^"^ Acliarva Prabhakar, who to 

educate his young pupil begins by lec- 
turing to him in a stiff and laboured language upon 
every conceivable subject beginning with the ))hilosophy 

» 5t^<Jt«(^^t i)p. 1-2. 


of the alphabet, iiiles ul" L;raiiini;ir, rhetoric, law, lo<!;ie, 
astronomy, and |)oIitics,aml various otlier branehcs of useful 
knowledsje and finishiniii: the whoie by salutary itisl ructions 
illustrated by pojiular tales. 'IMie liook is indeed a niuuunieut 
of learninijf and written also in a learned lani^uaf^e. 

But the book, inspite of its learning;', has no system 
and the writer is almost wholly devoid of all artistic 

instincts of j»roportion or arran<^e- 

Want of system and ^^^^^ The serious is min-ledup 
arrangement. '^ r 

with the comic, abstruse metaphysical 

sjieculation is put side by side with the low talk of )ieasants, 

mechanics and ijuarrelsome women, and often there is a 

sudden and ludicrous descent from the most pedantic and 

laboured lani;;ua<je to the extreme vuli^arity of the popular 

dialect. It is indeed a hoteh-potch — a curious collection 

of tales and serious essays, bound to;^ether by a very 

slender thread. 

Nor is the lan^ua^e of the book :dl that could be 

desiretl. In the preface t<» the work 
Its lanpuape. 

Marshuiau remarks very sii^nifi'-antly 

that "any jierson who can comprehend the present work and 
enter into the spirit uf its beauties, may justly consider 
himself master of the laujufuacje." Hut to comjirehend the 
present work would mean some familiarity with Sanscrit, 
without which the bo(d< would not be easily iiilelliixible, 
and there can be no doubt that this i^roundinaj 
in Sanscrit would certaiidy help much in actpiiriuLj a com- 
mand over the more literary aspects of the lauLT'iaijc. I'ut 
the tendency to sanserif isin<.^ has been carried to the extri-me. 

Indeed I'rabodfi-c/unidrikj. exemjdilies 

Its importance and r i j i 

position in the historio <>iif^ important aspect ot the develop- 

developmcnt of prose , ^^j- ,.^^^^ ^,^.],. j„ ,|,i^ ^^^iod 

style. ' • ' 

and brin<::;s into clear relief the lon<j- 

continued struofirle between the plain and the ornate style 

Purity of diction. 


out of which is evolved modern prose — the plain style 
favoured h}' the European writers and their imitators, 
while the ornate style advocated by learned pundits of the 

orthodox school like Mrtyufijay. 

The language is correct and absolute- 
ly free from the taint of Persian, and Marshraau's eulogy 
that the book is "written in the purest Bengalee '' is 
perfectly justifiable; but when that learned missionary and 
scholar speaks of its Bengali as "one of the most beautiful 
specimens" of prose style, it is obvious that he stretches 
his point too far. The harsh unrhythmical obscure 
Sanscrit-ridden style is far from the best that this period 
has to show in Bengali prose. The genius of Sanscrit is 
not the same as that of Bengali : and it would be a 
mistake to suppose that Sanscrit syntax should rule s^-ntax 

in Bengali. Preponderance of Sanscrit 

The style laliour- i • i i • 

ed and peduntic lor words indeed gives strength and 

its close imitation of •„* 4- i.< ii 't. 

Sanscrit variety to t :e prose as well as purity 

and correctness to the diction, but 
the ses(iuii)edalian affectation of laboured style becomes 
wearisome in a short time. The use of long-drawn-out 

compound words, occurrence of unusual 

T4-Q rlpippts 

phrases, and extensive borrowing from 
Sanscrit make it diflicult sometimes for the uninitiated 
to comprehend the sentences at the first glance. In the 
technical or philosophical portions again the style some- 
times assumes a peculiar stiffness and learned tone.' In 
some places, the sentences are so very lengthy and irregular 
ill structure anil arrangement that it becomes almost 
impossible to find out their meaning easily ; while in other 
places, the writer, anxious to exhibit a variety of style, has 

\, See for instance Si'pi ^^^, ':^T^ >Q p^'if ^^"H | f^'l^ ^^'^, 


induliifed in the ust- of Ihu^-ikil^l' cMirieiiL only amoii^- tlu' 
lower orders "the vuli^arity i)i' wliieli, however," says Marsh- 
man, " he has abundantly redeemed hy Ins vein of orit^inal 
luimour." In this work the student may rauLje at will over 

all kinds of Benujali prose of this period 

Use of the current r t\ \ ■ \ i i ii i . i 

language a.unnuMoM,-. *''0'" ^^''' hlo'hest tO the I.)West, al- 

thouijjh the Sanscritised style preponde- 
rates : from sentences so studded with Sanscrit combinations 
as to be almost nnintelliyfible to those who have iidI learnt 
the classical lan<i;uafje down to vulgar abuse and colloipnal 
freedom. We had already seen a specimen of its more 
diffiiult style; the following extract will be a good illustra- 
tion of the author's use of the colloquial language' : — 

^T?t^ f^^^ P'ffl [ f^ ^^^ ] ^f^^ ^^ ^tf^^ « k^^ 

^? Wt^fl^ I «t^t^ ft -Jif^f^F^i ^^ sent ^fsj ^itm 
^tf^c^ ^\ "sft^t^ ^X^ ciVs\ ^c^ I ^^^f% f^^^ ^^C5 

"5itf^?i ftc^ ^f?^^ '^u ^% c^ ^1% ^^ 5}^ ^m^ ^^ >it^ '9^ 

5Tt^ cw^RftR ^'^ if»f fsp^. ^tf^^ sc^ "St?! r*t^i ^^ ^t ^^ 
fjf^i 'itt'j I ^?fc« 5t?t^ ft ^r?^ ^ r*f^i ^<^i ^f^ ^ c^\^ 

» 4tC^f««5f??n, pp 65-66 


Srt^ 5^1 f^ ^^ (M^ "srr^ ^t%5l »ftg ^t^^ ^1 Cl^f^ f^h^ 

C^tC^^W^ 5I1^C^t^ 51^5^ =lt^5| ^t?'?j1 <?rff^^ ^S^ SftHCt 1 

w^^ "^"^1 ^f^fl ^tte ^f^^l ^f^ *?t^^ «t^ ^^^ c^t^^^ 

^\ 9,^] ^ t^C^ f% f5^«l ^t^S^I ^ 5}^^ C^^ ^^ ^ti^XS I ^ 

*rt?^l ^1 ^ c^^ ^tf^:^ ^tc^ I ^ifif^^it^ till ^-41 ^U^\ 

'BTffjlcltsi ^5l ^fii?ii ^^f^^i ^f^ ti c^il^ ^1^ ^1 c^l ^i^ ^1 
^i^ c¥^ ^t^it^ "^^ ^^ "^jf ^t^^l ^t^?:^ "^tf^c^ I ^t^i'^ 
^c^^ ^s^^ttf ^f^^l «t^t?:^ ^f^^ ^c^i 5itf^ 511 ^ '^g f*f^ 

It will be seen, however, that liis narrative and 
descriptive manner as well as his j>ower of weavinij dialo2;ues 
inio his story is really ]iiaiseworlhy for his time. But 
it must not be supjosed that between these extremes of 

colloqnialisni on the one hand and 
Hia peiKM-al nnrra- academic ])edantrv on the other, 

live nianiuT : ease i .. ' 

and dignity. M rtyufi jay never succeeded in steering 

a middle conrse. On the contrary, 
from the following extract it will be seen that his narrative 


style thoui^h saiisoritised ofti'ii a^smnes an ease and 

ili<;iiitv rpniiiidiiiLj oik' «>!' Ilif lafir 
Illustration. .• i, • i 

style ul liidvasiitrar * : — 
tf Q^I^CIT ^tfl=l^C^ ?f^^t«1t^f«f ^^ »*t'^ ^^^1 "<PC^^ 

^f t*f^^ ^»c*ft^wc» ^^ ^"^ ^U^'^T^ 'srff^^l ^^ff^"? F^c^J^ I 
<i? 3*tft ^T^s^ *i5°.i^ nt^aJt^t'i^ «Tt5^ 9 Tt'n* ^s ^f^^ 

f^ -Bitf^ ^'nari 5ff^i:sf5 sisf^f^ ??i ^1 ^«?Ptc«i "sJt^it^ «^:- 

'srrsi ^t^w '5f^ >^ «ctt«t^c^ ^f?c^ ^i^-\n^ ^fsi^Wii 

5i^t"-?*.^^«i 5^1 ^<T5r^f5i?i fsr^ 'rf^nil 'sit^.w^^ ^"st^jt:^ ^?Tt^"^^ 
^? '^ Tttcn^ -snis^ 'STtfj^si it^c^f tr-i^ fff^l ^fV^^ I c^ 

^<ff5^ ^pnf-^h f<i ^t ^^^ '^r.'P ^t^^ *f%^ ^t^>Tf% ytrs 

•stc^ft^fy^. rp- •'i6o7 


Tlie last though not the Icasf important work of 

this i)eriotl is P/tnts-ijnnisa or tho 
Haraprasad Ray. 

Trial of Man composed by Hara- 
prasad Ray and published by the Sriramjiur Press in 

1815.* It is a pretty large volume 
Puni^.Parikaa, ^^^^j contains 52 stories'^ translated 

from a Sanskrit original said to have 
been composed bv the poet Bidyapati at the command 
of Raja Sibasiiiiha. Its object is not only to impart 

ethical instruction"' bv extollin<r and 


Its scope indicated iHnstratiuiJC the virtues of men, but 
by the author himseli. 

also to entertain by clever and amus- 
ing stories; and this is set forth at the beginning of the 

' The title-page says :—• ^^^ f^Itft^ 'ifs^ ^ ^ ^I'^'ti ^tT^I 
^'^ftl5l n^-^ 1^1^1 I ^21^t5f ^t^ ^^^ ^t^t^t ^t^trs lfWl\ ! ^l^t'I'Jpl 
5tt1 ?t^ ( it^>« 1 pp. 1-27.S. It is very remarkable that this book has 
been published by the Bangabasi Press (B. S. 1301) as a work by 
Mrtyunjay Bidyalankar. I am not aware of the existence of any 
such work by Mrtjuiijay nor does Roebuck, Buchanan, or Long 
mention it The Bangabasi reprint, however, is not very ac(uirate. 
Of Haraprasad Ray's life, little seems to be known. Long {Return of 
the Names and Writivgs, etc., 1855) speaks of him as " Haraprasad Ray 
of Kanchrapara. " The copy in the British Museum Library 
(Blumhardt, Catalogue, p. 113) of the lirst edition bears the same 
title-page, date and place of publication as we have quoted above : 
bat there is also another edition in the same Library reprinted at 
London in 1826. And a third revised edition, Calcutta, possibly 
of 1866. Also in the Catalogue of the Library of the Hon. East 
India Company, 1845, p. 195, and in the Catalogue of the Library 
of the East India College ; the name of the author is not stated in 
these Catalogues. An edition dated Calcutta ISIS is entered in the 
Catalogue of the Library ofithe East India College, 1843. There are two 
editions (apparently of 1834 and 18.J3 respectively though the title- 
page is wanting) in the Librarj- of the Sahitya Pari^at. 

- Altiiongh there are stories in this work which would have 
better been expurgated. 

* As a book of fable, this work t^eems to have been verj' jiopular. 


work :— -sif^ ^2rstf^f»f^ <l1«1C4>^to^ ^f^f-f*}^ ^f^C"S ^Vs 

The framework of the story is this : Once upon a time 
a certain kinir anxious to marr>' his beautiful (laui;liter 

consulted a certain sai^e on the subject. 
The fminowork of rp,j^, advised him to marrv liis 

the tollfctuin. " 

dauc^hter to a iiinn. Asked what 

the characteristics of a real man are the saije besjins 

enumeratinj^ and illustratino- the various virtues of a real 

man and the object of manhooil. The book is comjjarablc 

in many rrspects to Mrtyunjay's Buhis Sim/iuKun or 

PiinlotUi-c/iandiika and alth()Uu;h not et|ually learned or 

a fleeted, the style shows the same 
Its Innf^iinge and style. ... 

tendency to sanscntisation and borders 

almost on the pedantic. 13y taste and inclinatinn, Ilara- 

prasad seems to belontj to the same orthodox school as 

Mrtyunjay. It is hardly neee.'^sary t<> illustrate his style 

at a ijreat Imi^th, and the followini; short (juotalion picked 

out from the more portions will be found suflicient 

to enable the reaih r to form his own jud<ijment: — 

Ur. Yates ffi^es 16 stories from it the second volume of his Introduction 
and HnuKhtoii gives 4. 

' 'J^n^Tl. pp. 3-4. 


^^^ ^t^^ ^C'sJtC^f^r (71 C^^ C^ ^^^ ^^st^C'P #tc^ 

fsffk^ j^^tftc^ ftr^t^ 5TtC^ ci^^ Tf^wlt 'fR^^ fsf^ fft^- 

c^^^?r%^^ 'sii^ (i]^» ^ vft?^ ^?|57:^ I (Tj c^^ ^5[5TTi c?rf^ ^?ij- 
^^^ c^Tt^ ^^^ ^^ic^ =ij:«(j mp{ 'if^s ^^^ "si^^hi "^im^ 't^^- 

Illustrativo extract ^ 

from tlio Btory of the Tf^t^^f^ '^?:^^ ^f^ =1^ C^t^ m^t^t^l 
indolent men. 

(^^ feRl ^f% I ^^ "51:^^ c^t^ C^^ ^«1C^^ff^ "5f »tl 
fit'® «f^^1 (71*11^5^ f^^l ^s^c^T^f^C^t^ >Tf^ '^f^^ C^ C^^ 

^^srrftc^^ ^^Tt^ >i^c^^ ^^''T^^ ^^ tile's ^sit^nj^ ^«i ctff^H 

ff^ ^q^ ^2t^»f ^f^^ CT^tC^ C®t^!^^ ^^ ^f^C^ 
:5^ C^f^ t%^ "siqTf f%i( ^^ ^g; c^t^« ^^l'^ ^f^^1 :5^T5f^«l 

^^^£1^ >I^«1 "Sf^C^^Uf^ ^ft^ ^f^ 'il^ ^^t^'^ ^t%^ ^«1C>ltl1 
CI ''J^ *f5^ ¥tinitf^^ C^ ^^ ^f^ fw^1 f^^ Tff%^ ^^ST 

' *t^lfW, pp. 55-58. 


^^ n?ini5? ^f?r?ii 'BWfPi ni^^pc^^ts *(^t^ ^f?Tfi I ^?r5 

sitRt^ ci]=^» «t^^W^ sfc«(T lil^^s^ "^USCb '^\^ ^5 13lfVll1 
^f%5 ?Ff^?[ -5iffs( Tf^s^ ^?f (71 ii^ <5jc^ qsifif «Tfr^^1 ^f^ I 

^^ ?ft5 ^«1JT ^trcsc^ 'ii^:^ ii5;« «fff^^ c^^ c^ ^t^ 

^r^ ^fs vH5?», 5rf5!C5ir?Tf?C^^ ^^ ^f^ C^^^ "51^^ C^Ttt^^- 
f^^?T f ^^ "^^^ ^f% ^^f5C?r^^ ^2J ^tfs 5^tl I ^^ (71^ 

tatf^t n^^Gi^i "si^TC^^Tf^^fc^ '3[^ ?^fe ^f«f^ m^^ TR ^f^ 


Earliest Bengali Journalism 

It will be seen tliat almost all the jiublioations of 
the Collec^e of Fort William were printed and issued at 

the Srirampur Press.' But a greater 

Periodicals and ,„ i .\ ,i • v i j 

Newspapers published ^^^''^ ^'l^" ^'^'^ "^^'^s accomplished 

by fiiirampur Press, by it and its missionary founders 

when in 1818 Dr. Marshman, in 
conjunction with Dr. Carey, proposed and carried out a 
scheme of [jublishing a monthly journal and a newspaper 
in Bengali. Such a project had long been present in the 
minds of^the Srirampur brethren, for the Press as a means 
of diffusing knowledge IS always an important and useful 
auxiliary to an earnest missionary : but stringent restric- 
tions on the Press, especially the vernacular press, had 
made it difficult for them to carry out their noble purpose. 

When therefore in February 1818, 
Digdarsan (April p,. Marsliman proposed the publica- 

1SI8) or Ihc Indian * ^ '■ 

Youth's Magazine. tion of Lifjdarsati, Carey in his 

anxiety fur the safety of the mission, 
consented only on condition thai it should be a monthly, 
and should avoid political discussion - The first Bengali 
periodical therefore confined itself purely to instructive 

' When on March 21, 1800, an advertisement appeared in the 
oflScial Calcutta GaseWe, announcing that the missionaries had established 
a press at Srirampur, it at once roused Lord Wellesley who, although 
a liberal statesman, had fettered the press in British India. But on 
the assurance of Mr. Brown, the Governor-General wrote to the mis- 
sionaries saying that he was personally favouiable to the movement 
and that such an Oriental press would be invaluable to the College 
of Fort William. 

' Hero is an extract from the minutes of the meeting of the 
Mission regarding the publication of Diijdnrian : — 

" Feb. 13tli, ISLS. Mr. Marshman Ijaving proposed the publication 
of a periodical work in Bengali to be sold amongst the natives for the 


literary, scientilip, or historical essays of p^t-neral iiiteresf. 
Each article was written both in lieii^ali ami l*>ii;j;lisli, 
put opposite to eacli other, the English version on one 
pai;e on the left and the Bengali on the next pa<;e on the 
rit^ht.' 'V\\{i J)if/(hirs<iii ov Miif/u:ine J'or Intlian I'oiilh, as 
its title-pacje says in the altt-rnative ( fWMW*!^ ^'ff^ ^5- 
(?Tn:^^ ^t^«1 5!'s^;^ ^t^l ^"^W^ ) was published in 
April IS 18' and was 'luis the tirst paper ol" its kiml in 
Benijali. An enumeration ol" the contents of the first 
number would indicate the nature as well as the variety 
of the topies dealt with. It was essentialiv meant for 
the diffusion of useful knowledi^e on various subjects and 
none of the articles had any ijreat pretensions for orii^inal 
writinjjj, artist ie presentation or literary finish. 'J'he first 
number contained the followini; articles: — '^rfc^rf^^t^ W^ 
f^^a (Of the Discovery of America), f^^^C^^^ ^t^ H^^«l 

purpose of exciting a spirit of eii<]iiirv anion^f tlicm, it was resolved 
that there was no objection to the publication of snch a journal, pro 
vided all political iiitolligoncc, more especially rci,'artlimc the Ea.^t, 
be excluded from it and it do not appear in a form likely to alarm 
povernment. It must therefore be confined to articles of general infor- 
mation and notice of new discoveries, but a small ])lacc may be allotted 
to local events, with the view of rtMiderinL' it attractive." {Histori/ 
of Sernmporc Mission, vol. ii. p. Ui2.) 

• From the Tenth ilcttioir relative to Seramporo Translations 
(July, 1832 : App<Mulix) it appears that two editions were issued, ii»., 
(1) bilingual, English and Bengali ; (2) in Bengali only. In the volumes 
we have lieen able to trace, Nos. i-xvi (from Ajiril ISIS to March 1SI!» 
and from January to April 1H2()) .irr biliuKunl ; while xos. xv to 
xxvi (from March 1820 to February 1S21), it i.s published only in 
Ben>r»li. We have another edition .Vos i-xii (April ISIS to Marih 
1819) published only in Ben^li. So it seems that the two editions were 
issued simultaneously from the %'ery beginning of its publication. 

* The date given by Uinesh Chandni Sen {Hiftory, p. 877) as 
February 1S18 is incorrect. See (piotation from Marshman's letter 
at p. 2.'i3 ]x)ste (footnote). The first number with the rlate April 
181S, may bo .^e(•n in the Sahitya I'arisat Library. 


(Of the Limits ot" Ilindoosthan), f^^tC^?^ ^tR^T (Of the 
Tnule oi" Hiiuloosthaii), "^^ ^t^1 ^tff«1^ ^tC^^^ 'sit^t"! ^f^^ 
(Ah-. Sadler's Journey in a Balloon from Dublin to Holyhead) 
f^^f^^^ t^s f^^ra (Of Mount Vesuvius). It will be seen 
that il was eminently lit to be a "Youth's ]Ma[ijazine," 
and the nature of the themes as well as the manner of 
exi)ression was varied and novel enough to make it attrac- 
tive. There were interestini^ seientilic papers on the 
compass, the metals, the steamboat, botany of India, etc., 
historical accounts of ancient and modern nations, sketches, 
narratives of travel, notices of Enpfland and other countries, 
and a few essays on the commerce and productions of 
India, all treated in a popular and easy way. The follow- 
ing selection will serve for a specimen : — 

Ci2tf^^ ^^1 ^t^, bf^^ ^^^ ^^^ ^^^ ^1 ^f^?:^ ^f«^ ^^• 

ft^^tnt?! ^^It»ftC5 ^<;<ft^l^ t°x?fQtC^^W^ ^«tT^ ^'tf^ Tf^ 
^^ ^^(^ ^c^ ^^^ 51^^ c^t^ ^t5?nc^ s ^■\l^ ^tc^ '^t^^ ^f^^l 

Sff^^. lilt's ^^^ Q »f^fi^^t^1 ^ ^^^ ^^»tfl^ f^^f^ 

c^t^ f^^ f^^, ^t^t^ ^f^ « at^^t^l ^ ^^^ ^ "fft^ 


^f^?1, if)^; ^fil^'at^ ^^f^ ^^I "SfC^^ ^^^*irs ^n^ 5^«1 ; 
f?^ ♦f^rg c^t^^?^ -sfc^T ^^^ ^f%^. T^ f^^^ c^^N"® 

^f^. -^^ 5t1%^'? ^r^ ^f^ ^^°N 1%r«f5^^21 ^C^ ^"5 s^tf^l^, 
'mf^Jjji -5it%5rTTCT -srf^t*! *I5J (?f^ C^^. -il^ C5|^tf*W 5^9C5I^ 

"Hf ^f^5T%!, »i^"nn 'ii'i^^t^ ^1^ ■5iw»jj ftci (71 ^^ f%jf -srr?! 

C^H^TC^ "51^1^1 (Tf^1 C^m ^\ 9 9511 C't^ 5?|. 

^ii^«> "sfcsi^ ^C5TR^<i1 ■'rt^Jft^rcf^ (Ti^-i^^t^^ f^^U i^ni 

» Digdarian, April 1820, pp 1G7-I73; the Enj^lish translation is omitted. 


This useful paper, however, lasted only for three 
years (1818-1821)* ; but it became very popular and 
successful for a new venture, and its success emboldened 
the missionaries to launch upon the more perilous task of 
startinof a newspaper in Benp^ali. A quarter or more of 

a century's intolerance on the part of 

Samach'dr darpan or , 1111 

the Mirror of News, the o^ovemment had made the 
23rd May, Saturday, missionaries diffident ; but their 

eao-erness to open a new avenue to 
the thoughts of the nation made them overcome all 
scrupules, more specially because the Be/tgaf Gazeitt 
(181C-1818)- the only paper in Bensjali hitherto 
published, was now dead, and its place required to be 

iilled up. Nothing could keep back 
History of its publi- ^he indefatiorable missionaries but 


they took every precaution against 

imperilling the safety of their mission. Consequently, 
before the actual publication of the paper, they issued ]»ros- 
peetus and advertisements in the local i>apers about the 
proposed journal so that objections, if any, from official 
and other quarters would be taken beforehand. Then on the 
critical night before the publication, the first proof of 
the first number was laid before the assembled brother- 
hood at their weekly me'.-ting on Friday evening. Dr. 
Carey, whom long experience had taught to be more 
cautious mentioned his fears about the Mission, but he 

' 1 have been able to trace the following numbers (in ihr- Sahitya 
Pari§at Library) ; Ai)ril 1S18 to March 1919, kos. i-xii ; January 1820 
to April 1820, Nos. xiii-xvi ; May 1820 to February 18'21, Nos. x%ii to 
xxvi. It seems onlj- 20 numbers vere ^lublished. The Cntalogue of E. I. 
Compani/K Lihrnry (1845) (p. 267) enters Digdarian only for April 
1S18 to February 1821. 

" Long says {Iletvrn of Names and Writings, etc.) that the Bengal 
Oazette was published for a year. But unfortunately file of this 
paper is not available any where. 


consented to its publication whoii Marshman i)fomise(l to 
send a copy with an analysis of its contents in Enijjlish, 
to Government, and to stop the enterprise if it should 
be officially disapproved. ' Lord ILastinj^s was lij>;htin«^ 

' Long {Catalogue) calls the paper Scrampore Darpn n and in the xiiith 
vol. of the Calcutta Review (1850) in the article on Bongnli Literature 
he calls it tho Darpan of Serampore. Of course this might be an 
abbreviated way of speaking, but accurately put it must bear the 
name of Samachar Darpan. The narrative of the publication of 
Digdariaii as well as of this paper is thus given by J. C. Marshman : 

"It appeared (in 1818) that the time was 

Tlistorv of its ripe for a native newspaper, and I offered the 
publication as given missionaries to undertake the publication of 

in a letter of Marsh- . ,p, . , .• . xi_ /-, . •_ j 

^^pig It. The jealousy which the Government had 

always manifested of the periodical press 

appeared, however, to present serious obstacle. The English journals 

in Calcutta were under the strictest surveillance and many a column 

appeared resplendent with the stars which were substituted at the last 

moment for the editorial remarks and through which the censor had 

drawn his fatal pen. In this state of things it was difHcult to suppose 

that a native paper would be tolerated for a moment. It was resolved 

therefore to feel the official pulse by starting a monthly magazine in the 

first instance, and the Digdar.<han appeared in April 1818. It was composed 

of historical and other notices, likely from their novelty to excite the 

attention of the natives and to sharpen their curiosity. In the last 

page, in a smaller type, some few items of political intelligence were 

inserted. Two numbers were published, and copies were sent to the 

principal members of Government (including the Censor) and the fact 

of the publication was widely circulated by advertisomont in all 

the English papers of Calcutta. .\s no objection appeared to be 

taken to the publication of the magazine by, the censor, thoagh it 

contained news, it was resolved at once to launch tho weekly paper, 

and call it by the name given to the earliest English news-letter, the 

Mirror of .V»'iim or Smntuhitr Darpnn. But Dr. Carey, who had been 

labouring fifteen years in India during the period when the opjx)si- 

tion to missionary efforts and enlightenment of the natives was in 

full vigour, was anfavourablo to the publicHtion of the Journal because 

he feared it would give umbrage in official circles and weaken the 

good understanding which had been gradually growing up between 

the miisionarie.'i and the government, lie strenuously advised that 



the Piiulai'is, aii'l nothiiiij was saiM by his* nouncil. 
On his return, the Governor-General wrote to the Editor 

with his own haiul, expressing his 

Encouragement of gp^ire approval of the paijer and 
Government. ' ' * ' 

declaring that " the effect of such a 
paper mast be extensively and importantly useful." He 
even induced his Council to allow it to circulate by post 
at one-fourth the then heavy rate* thus giving a fresh 
impetus to the native newspaper press. It became popular 

the idea of it should be dropped, but he was over-ruled by his two 
colleagues, Dr. Marshman and Dr. Ward. When the prospectus was 
brought up for final examination at the weekly meeting of the mis- 
sionaries the evening before the day of publication, he renewed his 
objection to the undertaking on the grounds he had stated. Dr. Marsh- 
man then offered to proceed to Calcutta the next morning and 
submit the first number of the new Gazette, together with a rough 
translatinn of the articles, to Mr. Edmonstone, then Vice-President, 
and to the Chief Secretary (John Adam), and he promised that it 
should be discontinued if they raised any objection to it. To his 
great delight he found both of them favourable to the undertaking. 
At the same time he transmitted a copy of the paper to Lord Hastings, 
then in the North Western Provinces, and was happy to receive a 
reply in his own hand highly commending the project of endeavouring 
to excite and gratify a spirit of enquiry in tlio native mind by means of 
a newspaper. And thus the journal was established. A copy of it 
was sent w^ith a subscription -book to all the great baboos iu Calcutta, 
and the first name entered on the list was that of Dwarkanath 
Tagore. On the retnrn of Lord Hastings to the Presi- 
dency, he endeavoured to encourage the undertaking by allowing the 
journal to circulate througli the country at one-fourth the usual cliargo 
of postage which at that time was extravagantly high" {E.rtrnct 
of a Letter from J. C. Mnrshman to Dr. Oeorge Smith published in the 
latter'a Twelve Indian Statessinen, 1898, pp. 230-33. The same account 
is to be found in J. C. Marshman, Life and Time^ of Carey, etc., vol. ii, 
p. 101 seq.). Also see Cul. Rev. 1907, vol.cxxiv, p. 391-93. 

' For the postage-rates, see Seton-Karr, op. cit., vol. iv. (1868), 
p. ."il, etc. (lovernment also encouraged th« paper by subscribing to 
a hundred copies during 1820-1828, 


at once, and as it avoided all reliijious controversy in the 

earlier issues, it was welcomed even by the most orthodox 

amoni; the Hindus. The name of Dvrirakiinilth 'Pliakur 

headed the list of subseribers, and its lon<; life of 33 

vears, in spite of later o[)positions and vicissitudes, till 

1851 sufKciently indicates its power, efficiency and 

popularity as the leadinjjf and for some time the only paper 

of the day. " To the Darpan," it is 

Itfl power, efficieuo7 ^\^\ « the educatal natives looked as 
and popularity. 

the means of brin^in^ the oppression 

of their own countrymen to the knowledii^e of the puijlic 

and the authorities. Government too found it useful for 

eontradie*in<^ rumours and promoting contentment, if not 


The lirst number of the Siunar/iar Ddrpun was pub- 
lished on Saturday, May 23, 1818 ("jol ^^j^, i\7{ ^wa)'^ 

» Smith, op. cil., p. 204. 

* The earlier tiles of the paper liiid long become very ticarco ami 

this fact has given rise to various erroneous views about the date 

of itt) first publication. \ tile of this paj)er from its origin (May 

23, 1818 to July 14, 1821) will be found in the Library of the 

Sahitya Pari^at. Kven Mnrshman himself, in his two books {Hntturyof 

Serainpore }fisi>inn, vol ii, p. 1G3, and History of Bengal, IS.'jH, p. 1251) 

gave the dates erroneously as May 31, Sunday, 1818, and May 29, 

Friday, 1818 respectively. Dinesh Chandra Sen, in following Marshman, 

has fallen into the SAmc error in his History. Long {Dpscriptive Cata- 

loffue, 1855, p. H6) gives August 23, Friday, 1818. The most obvious 

mistake is that made by RajniSrayan Ba.tii who in his discourse on 

Bengali Language and Literature dates the pnper from iNKi, and tlio 

Calcutta. Chrigtian <)bi>errcr (Feb., 1840) is etpially mistaken in taking 

1819 as the date of the first publication of this paper. 1 have been 

able to get access to the following tiles of the paper {a) from May 23, 

1818 to July 14. 1S21 (Sahitya Pari^nt Libniry) {b) from 1831 to 1837 

(Imperial Library. Calcutta) (<) From IKA to 18ri2 (Bengal Asiatic 

Societys Library). 1 h&w given an account of these files in nn article 

iu (be Sahitya Patient Palnka, vol. 24, pp. 149-170. 


and from the seventh number it bore on its front the 
following motto 

Marshmau tells us that the paper was so baptired 

because the name (Mirror of News) was associated 

with the earliest English news- 
its claim to bo 1 . . , -n ^ -^ i • j. i 
regarded as the first letter. » But its claim to be 

Bengali newspaper; regarded as the earliest Bengali 

that credit belongs to " _ . 

the Bcngnj Gazette newspaper is not, iuspite of current 
(1816.1818) of Gangs- , , • • o • .-c ui 

dhar Bhattacharya aiid popular Opinion," justihable, 

for the first Bengali newspaper was 

not the Samachar Barpan but the Bengal Gazeiie. The 

latter journal, now scarce, was published for the first 

time in 1816 by one Gangadhar^ Bhattacharya of whom 

little, however, is known. This paper lasted for two 

years, having been extinguished in 1818.^ But though 

not the first newspaper in Bengali, Samacliar Darpan 

practicall}' laid the foundation of vernacular journalism 

in Bengali by directing the attention and energy of the 

Bengali people to a neglected literary Held which now 

' See extract from G. Smith, Twelve Eitgliah Statesmen, quoted 
at p. 233 foot-note 

' It has been so called by many an eminent writer, e.g., J. C. 
Alarshman, Hiftory of Serampore J/issi'o?i, vol ii,|p. 163, and History of 
Bengal, p. 251 ; Long, Col. Rev., 1850, vol. xiii, p. 14c (but not in the 
Catalogue where he has corrected the mistake) ; Friend of India, 
Sept. 19, 1850 ; Smith, Life of Carey, p. 204 ; Dincsh Ch. Sen, History of 
Bengali Language and Literature {1911), p. 877; etc. 

' He mast not however be confounded with Ganguksior Bhattacharya. 

* Long's Descriptive Catalogue, also his Return, etc. already cited ; 
But in the Return, etc., it is said to have continued for one year only. 
But see Sahitya Pariaat Patrika, vol. v, pp. 248-250; Cal. Rev. 1907, 
p. 293. We learn from Riijnurriyan Basu (Bangrda Bhasd Sahitya 
Bi^ayak Balrta, )>. 59) that Gaftgiidhar was well-known as the pub- 
lieher of illustrated editions of Annadawangal, etc. 


so miR'li ene;ages tlieir activity aud affords .st) many 
opportunities for benefitiniij tlie country. 

Althou»^li eouJuctt'il chiolly l»y the missionaries, it 
was never wholly a missionary paper. Correspondence 
from various parts of the country — for it had 
a very large circulation over 360 stations in the coinitry — 

useful articles on scientific, political. 
Nature of its articles. historical and geograpiiical topics/ 

adorned its eagerly read i)ages. 
It recorded all the interesting contenii)orary incidents, 
jKtlitical and administrative, and we have short articles on 
the tight with the Pindaris, on the conflict with Ilolkar, 
Sindhia and other Indian powers, on the last stage in the 
war between England and France (including many refer- 
ences to Napoleon Bonaparte), an account of the Mogul 
Emperor and of Raja Ranjit Sing and essays on other 
interesting tojjics. Besides these, there were descriptions, 
reviews and advertisements of new i>ul)lications, educational 
news (like the proceedings of the School Book Society and 
the School Society and the establishment of a college at 
Srnam])ur), various social topics (like the description 
of Sraddha ceremony of Goplmohan Thiikur), market 
reports, re|X)rts on stocks and shares and on exports and 
imports, civil appointments, pntgi-ammes (»f the 
Governor-General's tour, commercial and shipping 
intelligence, sensational news (burning fatalities, 
theft, dacoity, murder, eartl^piake, storm, rath- 
jatril ceremony at Mahcs) and references to the filthy 
condition of Calcutta rojuls and other local complaints. 
Although chiefly a newspaper, it published from time to 

' For a short list of these articles, See Sahitya Pari^hat Patriha, 
already rited, vol. v, p. 257. Al.'»o my papor in vol. xxiii of the name. 
For a note on Early Christian Periodicals, bee Appendix IV at the 
end of this volume. 


time various uselul articles, short moral tales a?id 

humorous sketches. Relii^ious controversy was introduced 

later on and throuc^h this it came into collision with Ram 

Mohan Ray and his party who started the Saihhad 

Kauiiiudl within a year (1819) as well 
Its scope and object. 

as with orthodox papers like Sambad 

Timira Namk. The scope and object of Samachar JJarpan 

was thus set forth at the outset : — 

?<*! I— 

[8 ^tf^lsiTtf^]^ ^^ f^*1 I 

« C^til^^^f^ ^^ ^ f^^t^ ^1^1 *2|^f^ f3??1 I 

This was Digdmrian, 


T^P?! 9^?f ^^ 5t^^ ^t^C^ -i)^' C^ ^ ^^ ^^^ ftW ^ 

^•s?t9 ^t?:^ "sit^^ c^t ^^^ n;^^^ c^ ^ ^^ f^^ 9 ^^ 

ittt^ ^M^ ^ ^^ ^K^ c«r5 ^^1 1 ^''i^ ^ ^m^^ 
j^^t^^ ^t^t^ f^^^ ^t^t^ ^^ I 

Space forbids us to malct' qiiotations from the longer 
articles but we select here a few short specimens relating' to 
a variety of topics. 

^'W cn^i c^i c^i^it^^t^ "sfj^K^^i c^^t^t^c^ ^^s ^5^c*t 

^^firf^'t?:^ -5(^'5T^ f^^fc » ^fT^^^l ^tr^ *i^^t^ (?i ^^51 
c^s^T^f^^rw^ f^i ^f^T^f^f! st^t^w^ ^ff^ ^r^5i ^5^?^ 

^i^ c'l^f^r^^w'T r^^tcs ^t^t^^ ^T%tc^ t^^ c^^ "^T^i^i 

Tt?t^1 "^^^T^ ^r^^tC?^ CI ^f^^T^^I "SIC^^ "SfWP '51»I4 
^-if* fs^-sf^ ?^ state's (yWZ^JfUf^ J^"?* C^f?! ^^ I "^1'^^ CT 


TT^q JT^^t^l ^^ ^f^?I1 fVf^< 5t^^ J?^(fW ^5^ 1t^^ i" 

^^«( f^^C^ %t^ ^^ ^^? ^TC^^ ^f% C^ f5TC^5( "511^ ^^t^« 

c^^ ;5^K% ^t^^^ ^^j ^^ f^^c^« '^C5{^ f^u^5^1 ^t^ 
cij^'s ^^f^«n:'^ f^^ ^m ^^ c^t ^c^ c^ff^ ^nfs^^jf 

>£f cTt^r^tr^ ^5r^?ntf% c^tc^^ \^^ ^ ^^r^T^ ^33?^ ^^^ ^?f^ 
">^?i ) I 


^^ f^^ C^f^ T\M^ t'^g (.ti>) ^I'g^ i^trs >i's5l? 
^f^?t f^^t^T^T^^ ^tC^ 'il^ ^^ ^'^ ^t5^tf^ "st^t^ ^r^5i 

( :)^t f^j ^v^^l ^>rn ^SfJ^, -^^^b ) I 

i£l?jr ^^ '!^^^^ -5rf*M ^^^ <F%1 ^Tf^tc^ I ^^^ Wt5fK^<T 

'»rf^t?T mV« ^'^T'l ^:^^ C5f*i 5rr?t?f Tf^t ^ ^tt ^i* 
^t^T^:^ -srt^t^ f^<p^g ^t^tt^C^s^i ^?1 »5f^^ ^^ ^s^ 

With rei^ard to the subsequent history of the jjaper, 
we do not get any conij)letc information. Lon^ states 

that its existence was limited to 
Uh Biibsponent history. • i , p i i- 

:21 years from the date ot pubnca- 

tion' : ill other words, it ceased to exist in 1839. 

Mahendranath Bidyanidhi, in an article in the Sa/n'fi/ti 

Pnnsiif Puhika"^ states that it conlinuetl till IS.')1. liut 

l>otli these views are ju«t correct. From the files of the 

paper in the Calcutta linj-erial Library (from l&bl to 

' Loup. Tteiurn nf Kawc* ntid WriUvgt, etc., 186.^, |i. 145. 
» Vol. V (1305\ p. 250. 



1837) and in the Beng-al Asiatic Society Library (from 
May '6, 1851 to April :i4, 1852), we <j:et clear evidence of its 
existence till April 24, 185i and of the fact that there was no 
breach in its publication from 1831 to 1837. AVe also 
gather from an article in the Calcutta Christian Observer 
(1840)' that it did not cease even till 1840. In Decem- 
ber 'lb, 1841 the Sainacliar iJarpan disaj)peared for some 
time but it was re-born ao;ain in 1851 : because on the 
file of May 3, 1851 we find the numbering of the new 
series at "vol I. no. 1." ( :5 ^5f5j | :> 7\\^ ). On the first 
page also of this new series we get tliis editorial note 

^t^ sf^HC^^W^ ^T%^ ^ft^ ff^!:^^ ^TCSI '« "STf^t^ 

(sr^tr^ ^^f^^ -^m\Ti^ ^Tl ^1% '^Tj\'^ nt^ 5i^f^ "srfsit^- 
^V8:> TTtc^^ ^4 f\5(:^^^ ^tf^C'^f pf^c^t^ ^pf^i^ ^t^i xs^ «3^s^w^ 

From 1831 to 1837, the paper was bilingual, being 
written both in Bengali and P^nglish in parallel 

columns. After its resurrection 
Its bilingual stage. 

in 1851 it continued bilingual.' 
But there is no evidence to indicate from what precise 

' February 1840, i>i.. 65-66. 

* This is conlinued by the entry in the Appeiuli.v to the Tenth 
Memoir published from Srirampur (dated July 4, 1832) where the 
paper is described as written in " Bengali and English, in parallel 
columns" and published every Wednesday and Saturday morning. We 
are told in the above article in the Patrika (vol. v., p. 255) that the 
bilingual state began in 1829. This is quite probable, though n» 
evidence is mentioned to support the view. Tt is also probable as 
stated there that for a time, Persian found a place in it. 


date it first becamo biliiifjual. From tlio above artiVle 
in the Christ ian Ohserver we learn that it was written 
in Entjiish and in Henijali even till IS 10. It would 
seem therefore that it i-ontinnt'd in this state till its 
cedhsation in I S U. 

As to whether the paper had an unbroken existence 
from 1818 to 1831, we ean determine this from indirect 
evidence. On every issue of 1831 and 1832, we have the 
numberin*^ as volumes xiii and xiv respectively. Its first 
}>ul)lieation was ill 1818, so that till 1831 we naturally 
expect 13 volumes to have been published, assuming its 
continued existence till that date : and this is confirmed 
by the numberin»]f (juoted. From this the conclusion is 
inevitable that from 1818 to 1831 (or rather to 1840) it 
had a continuous existence, althounh unfortunately we have 
got no file preserved from 18:'l to 1S31. 

In 1S31 it was published on every Saturday, as 
the head-note "Serampore. Published every Saturday 
morniiii;" indicates. From 1818 to 1831, therefore, it was 
a weekly paper j»ubiished every Saturday mornini^. From 
1832, it became bi-weekly, as the head-note on the files of 
that year show — " Published every Wednesda} and Satur- 
d;iv morniui;." But from November 15, 1832 it became 
Saturday weekly again and probably continued sf) till 
April 21, 1837. After 1?»j1, it was still a weekly 

In 1818, its editor was . I. ('. Marsliman and he probably 
continued in that ollice till 1 834 ; for in the issue of 
November 13, 1S3I we find this remark 

f^f^^tf^ st^rt^ "«rtT?ii f^n^ ^fJT ^fApi ^ft^ -^ ^^ 
^'^l^^^'>\\vi 5f^^ff"f? ws^ I f^-% ii5^ f^^c? ^?t^ W^^ 


From IS')? Toivnsend, editor of the Friend of India 
probably conducted this paper for in the file of that year 
(May 3, towards the end of no. 1), we find this entry — 

l^t^'^:^??^ ^'%\^m f A'^S ^^^ ^1^ ^^f»fs I Moreover, 
a correspondent of the paper writes in May 10, 1851 — 

This Sat^a Pradlpa was a weekly paper edited by 
Townsend. It was published in 1850' but it did not 
continue for more than a year, having ceased in 1851.' 
Probably after its cessation, Townsend took uji the editor- 
ship of Sumichar Barpari.^ 

' Long, Return relating to Bengali Puhlicaficn, 1859, p. xl. 

* Long, Return of Names and Writing.-^, 1855, p. 141. 

' In the Journal of Bengal Academy of Liternture (vol. i., no. 6, Jan. 
£, 1898) it is said that Bhabanicharan Banerji was editor of Samachar 
D%rpan for some time. This is very unlikely, considering the facts 
that from 1822 BhabanT was condncting Samachar Chandrika and 
that thore was enough antagonism of policy and views between 
Chandrika and Darpan. 

c"uaimm-:k Mil 


In tlu' |iiiblioation ot" the perioiicals described in the 

last cliapter, it will he seen tint tlK« most active part 

was taken hy th<> two Muishmans, 
Other European „ . , " ,,,, , , „ ^^ 

writers of Beiifrali. lather and son. I he labours or Dr. 

Joshua Marshman, to whom indeed 
was due the consolidation of the Mission, were too varied 
ami wide-spread to be confined chiefly to the study and 
encouras^ement of Ben<;ali.' His son, John Clark 
Marshman, who was born in Aui^ust, 1794, inherited in 

a lar<xe measure all his literary 
nmnM^wUS-''"'"" P'-t'cli lections, his -reat capacity for 

work as well as his untlai^tjinor 
pliilanthropic zeal. From 1812 he beiran to dinct his 
father's religious undertaking's and entered with zeal 
into all the labours of the mission. His reputation as 
a European scholar in Beui^ali secured for him the 
post of Translator in Benijali to Government, and his 
numerous Bengali works fully maintain this rej)utation. 
He returned to England in 18-52 and <lieil at Hedcliffe 
Sijuare, North Kensington, London, July 8, 1877.' 

' Chronolo^'ically Hjicakinff, the European writers of Bonpah' of 
whom enuinpintion follows below do not properly belong to this 
period ; for this period ends at abont 1825 and a distinctly new 
movement becomes dominant thereafter. The literary labours of the 
missionariea lose their importance and ocrnpy only a 8nb8i<liary place 
in that movement after 1825. They are mentioned here in order to 
keep up coniinnity of treatment. 

•. For more details, See Auinml Register, 1877, p. 154 ; Timet, 
Joly 10, 1877; Journ. R. A. Soc, 1878. vol i. Ann Rep. pp. xx.xii ; 


J. C. Marshman was indeed a versatile and voluminous 

writer, both in English and Bengali, and it is not 

possible to give here a complete list 
of his works. The following are the 

more important works in Bengali due to him or ascribed 

to him : 

or History of India from the tSettlement of the E. I. 
Company down to the Conquest of the Puiidaris by the 
Marquis of Hastings in 1819. :2 vols. Serampore. 1881. 
(Also translated from English by Gopal Lai Mitra, 
Calcutta. 1840). 

(~) ^t^ft^lt^ ^1%^t^ or History of Bengal from the 
Accession of vSuraj-ad-Daulah to tlie Administration of 
Lord William Bentinck translated from the English of 
J. C. Marshman. » Calcutta. 1848. 

(•^) ^^t^?:^^ ^iz'^^ f^^^^i I ^^^ ^jf^ift^ ^^ ^^fk 

^jtr^t^ ii:^^ ^^^ ^%^ I ^i^t^I'I^ I ^V^^ I or Hrief 
Survey of History in Bengalee from the Creation to the 
Christian era. Calcutta. 186:J. (Also called ^t%|^^t^). 
(4) Cff«^tf^ ^t^C?^^ ^°s^^ I ^5ft^ d ^"^^ ^^ ^ 

III u St rated London News, 1877 ; Lew Times, 1877; Dictionary of National 
Biography (n good list of his Englisli works will be foniul here). Also 
Dictionary of British and American Authors; Qentlenuin's Magazine, 
1838, pt. ii,]!. 216. 

' AKso translated by Wenger (2nd Edition, 1859) named ^5f(.tfC"1^ 


JI*s5^ I l^tsf^^ I "5b-^8 I or a Translation of J. C. 
Marshinan's Guide to the Civil Law in the Presidency 
of Fort William fontainin<j all the unrepealed reij:ulations, 
acts and circular orders of Government and summary 
reports of the Sudder Courts from 1798 to 184a iu 
2 vols. 1848. (2nd Ed. Serampore 184!)).» 

(o)? C^rTtf^ ^ C^t^t^ll or a Treatise on Astronomy 
and Geoijraphy translated into Ben<ralee.-' 2n(l Edition 
Serampore 1819. 

(6) ^^t^ft^ ^^cfftpl^ 5f^ or a Translation of J. C. 
Marshnian's Daroi^'ah's ^lanual comprisinoj the duties 
of the landholders in connexion with the police. 
Serampore. IST)]. 

(7) 7\wm 'Q ^rti^ tf%^ I ^T^^ c^Ttc^^ f^stc^T^t^rl^l 
'©M^ «^ ^^ cn^ I 'st^ ^^f^c^ ^5??rt^ ^5^%^ ^t5?T^ I 

^^t^'J^ I "Jb-^S) I or Anecdotes of Virtue and Valour 
translated into Reno^alee and printed with the Enj^lish 
and Benoralee Versions on oj^posite pai^es in two parts. 
Serampore Press. 1829. 

' A specimen of its legal language is given here. It will be 
Been that the language, although persianised is yet more easy and 
natural than the stiff and technical legal diction of the beginning of 
the century : 

^t?Ti>f«r^^ ^r^tip it5T^tft?J ^t^ ?fa?l c^t^ Tf^:"^^ 'M'^'^hu ^\fTt 

J?| f tr?il TT^ Cit Tr^?t?I '*J«nrt «t?t? Tt^I^tf^.JHJ ?tr^ CJ^ it^ft "S^^ 

^f^u5 ■sjn^t oi^ ?r^?tii 5rt«T?tf^ nerr^ '?ifr5 5^ =3t?tr^ 3^^ sn 

♦ttr^ I ^^Ttf?— (vol. ii, )). 4.) 
* Published anonymonily. 


(8) c^:^^^t^ f^^ei ^€t^ ^f5t^^5^t^ s ^f^^^t^ 
(TTf^tpf^^ fi^'^ts ^t^T^ m^*t ^i^ or Aj;ri-HorticuItural 
transactions by J. Marshman in two volumes. 18'32-"i6. 

(9) Abrid<;ement of Carey's Dictionary.* 

It will be noticed from the above enumeration, that 
some of these works hardly put forward an}' claim to literary 

merit whatsoever, as they are composed 

and their literarv 4. • ti ^•^. i • i. i -i 

^Qj.jjj ' on strictly non-literary subjects, while 

the historical treatises, more or less 

closely allied to literature pure or proper, are again mere 

translations or replicas of Enojlish oriijiuals.- Marshman's 

style, like that of most of the European writers of Benijali 

enumerated below, possesses hardly any characteristic 

distinction of its own. Indeed there is such a pervading 

uniformitv and general sameness of character in the 

writings of these European scholars that it would be 

scarcely necessary to take and comment upon the style 

and peculiarities of each. "We shall, on the other hand, 

content ourselves, wherever necessary, by giving specimens 

of their general style in individual cases. The following 

extract from «t^«^C^ tf^^^, the theme of which dealing 

as it does with historical narrative affords some scope 

indeed for literary expression, will serve as a specimen of 

Marshman's style ; but it will be noticed that it presents 

hardlv any distinctive feature at all and is greatly inferior 

to the manner of many of his European colleagues and 

fellow-writers in the same field: — 

' See page 152 and footnote thereon. Other works ascribed by 
Long are: (1) ^^5sop's Fables translated. (2) Murray's Grammar in 
Bengali (Return of Xiimei< and Wrifingi', etc.. p. 134). 

' These are the volumes which were intended to fom a series 
of elementary works on History and Science for the use of Indian 
yonths (see Preface to Mack's f^fJnrl fwt^ TT?. Seranijwre. 1834) 
noticed below. 


^•v5l5t:^W?r C^^ ^51 s C^It^l ^t^t^ ^^TS i£l^"r5 CTt'l^T^ 

f>i^tft ^^^1 fs^ ^^^ ^^»f » J^jf?; f^^ I ^^<^ ftf^^ ^Ttf^l 

^t*R ^C?J^f»f^f^ ^»6t^ fl^?:^ "^fSl f^C^tsi t^l Cfrf'I^ 
^^^t^^ ^t'l^ ^5J ^<?r^ ^f?lC^5» states W\^^ ^tC5C^^ 

c^ f^iT ?t^ ^^? f%f5i ^t ^^3 c«iT^ ?^ii "Sff^ c^^^rt^ 

ifil'^^ 5tq I (Vol. I. i». l-'il) ' 

' See alao, for au account of the Hnine battle, the author's ^'9f^^vn 
T[^ty5 (Kd. Wengtr). pp. 1^31(56. It is ititereMtin^ to coi))|tare these 
■cconnts with that ffiveii hv RAjih-lochan in his Kr^nna Chnndra Itayer 



Tlie next name' that we take up is Ward's but we can 
dismiss it with a few words, as it is not one of any- 
primary importance to Bengali litera- 

^^neTlsIr'^" ^"^"®- ^^'ard's services as a printer to 

the Srirampur Press cannot indeed 
be exaggerated but his direct connexion with Bengali 
literature was of the slightest kind. Possibly he could 
not even speak Bengali so fluently as his colleagues did^ 
and the only work which he wrote in Bengali — not 
remarkable either for its form or for its matter — was 
%^»t^^ Pl^C^^ 5f?r5 or Memoir of Pitamber Sing, a native 
Christian. 3 

"William Carey's sou, Felix Carey, however, contribut- 
ed some of the important works to the literature of the 

})eriod. Felix Carey was born in 
^!-f,^^fJ"o5" October -IZ, 1 786 and died at ^riram- 

pur in November 10, IS'Z'Z. Within 
this brief spaee of life, he applied himself successfully 
to the philanthropic and missionary work with which his 
father had been identified and collaborated with him 
in his literary undertakings. He was a medical missionary 
of great skill, a first-rate printer trained by Ward, and a 
scholar in Sanscrit and Pali, i?engali and Burmese, not 
unworthv his father. ' He was not onlv a coadjutor of 
Ram-kamal Sen-' but h'mself planned (1818) the scheme^ 

> See p. 106 ante. 

' E. Carey, Memoir of Carey, p. 424. 

» 4th Ed. Calcutta. 1843. 

* For more details about his life and writings, see Marshnian, Life 
and Times of Carey, etc. ; Benyal Obititnry, \)p. 249-2.50; Smith, Life of 
William Carey (many references) ; Dictionary of Sutionnl Biography. 

* Bengal Obituary, p. 250. 

" See f'lVflt^tilt^^ ^]k^HmH <af^ C^t ]fff^^y\ C^tl rn^UlU *(35 I 
appended to F. Carey's f^tfl1?fgt^^ ^'^«i«|5I5}? ^j^l^wf^ I 


of brin>»;iu«; out an e'lition of Bciii^ali eneycloptedia. His 
untimely tleath prevented him from earryiui^ out his design 
to a sucees-^ful issue but he had the satisfaction of seeiuij 
the first vohime of the series, a treatise on Anatomy, 
pubhslied before he died. His <;hief worlcs in Henj^ali are : 
(I) f^^ (Tf*!!^ f^^«l ^^^ or an Abridtj^ement of the His- 
tory of En*»;land, fmm the invasion 
His works <• i i- /-i 

of Juhus Ca'sar to the death of 

Geor<i:e the Second by Dr. Goldsmith and continued by 
an eminent writer to the Peace of Amiens in the year 180;J, 
tmnshitetl into BeuL^alee by Felix Carey. Serampore. 1820; 
Republi>ihed ity the School Book Society. (•>) ^f^CifiT 
^5l>i^ f^<l?r«l, or ihi' Pilojrim's Progress translated into 
Beni^alee l»y F. Carey. 2 Parts. Serampore. 1821-22. 
Edition by J. D. Pearson, 1831-: by Wenj^er, 1852. 
(•3) f^rft^H^lT ^'fts ^m^ «T^f5 ^s t^C^T% ^^5It?T ^st^^ 

''rr^^? fn^fwrf^ ^^if^H^ I s?>^5|s[5i? I ^^r^tff^ffTi I 

f'lf*ra^ ^1*1tTf^ti:« f t*lt^^ I ^^ "JV^o 1 or \'idyahara- 
bulee or Ben<;alee Eiicyclopccdia. V^ol. I. Anatomy, 
translated into Beni^alee from the "ith edition of Encytdo- 
(Kedia Britannica by F. Carey. Assisted by Sreekanta 
Vidvaiunkar and Shree Kobiidmndra Turkasiromoni, 
Pundits. The whole revised by Rev. W. Carey 
D. D. Serampore. Printed at the Mission Press. 1820. 
(Nov. 1).' 

• Other works nttributofl to F. Carey are :— (i) Trnnslation of 
Mill's History of India (Smith, Life of Willinin Carey, p. 204; Bengal 
Obituary, p. 2.50) published by School Book Sotiety. (ii) Tran- 
slation of fioldptnith's T'lrnr n/ Wnkpfirld ( Diet, rf Sntionnl Biography). 
(iii) A Work of Land in Bengali (Bcnya/ Obituary, p. 205). Biivacofa is 


From a literary point (.f view, however, none of these 
works is delectable to the i^eneral reader and we may- 
pass over them without any special comment. But the 
last-named j)ublication has an interest of its own as the 
first vernacular work on a scientific subject v/ritten on the 
western lines. It will be liardly within our scope to 

ojive a detailed analysis of the book 

Importance of hi« ,^^^^ ^^^ enumeration of the chief 
Rcieutihc writings. 

heads of subjects dealt with will 

sufficiently exi)lain its scope and object. It is divided 

into three parts (^t^), each part containinor several 

chapters ( ^^ ) and each chapter divided into sections 

( ^^Tt?l )j which are as^ain subdivided into paraj^raphs or 

articles (t<^). The first [)art deals witjj Osteolo^j-y 

( '^if^f^^ ), second part with Comparative Anatomy 

( ^'ITt^'IT ^l^ZW^fh^i ) while the third part traces the 

history and proi^ress of the Science ( ^^C^^tff^C^Tt^'tf^- 

<Pt^e| ) and i^ives a list of the principal Hindu works 

(then known) on "the subject of Anatrmy, Medicine 

and Chyniistry" with the names of their authors and a 

brief ac(.'ount of their contents. The whole is rounded 

off with a <2^1ossary of technical and difiicult terms 

( ^J^^f f^ffTt^N^t'l^t^^ cf)^ "5ff%^ ) which, in certain 

respects, is the most interesting part of the entire 

treatise. This enormous volume of about 700 pages, 

however, is hardly commendable * for its stiff and laboured 

style, bristling as it does with unintelligible technical 

terms and phrases, but it certainly bears testimony to 

undoulitedlj' incorrect in jjiviiiij: IMS as the date of publication of 
P. Carey's Anatomy. Dinesh Chandra Sen (History of Bengali Lif., p. 872) 
erroneously pivea the title of F. Carey's .\natomy ns " Hadavali VidyS " 
( Tt^^^ nWl) obviously miatakinEr the name n^TtTf^t^^ or cyolopoedia 
of knowledf^e. Tiiis book will also be found in the litt of School 
Book Society's publication before 1821, 


the compiler's learnini^, his careful research, and his 
unwearied imhistry. The folIowin<>j will serve a>! a 
s|)eeinieii of its harsh and difficult style : — 

^<j^i?±f^-5; > sits^ct'^ ^c-raF^t^^Ff:^ ^3t^^ "^Z^ (p. 1»)1) I 

^fS^i ^'.-m ^f^^c^ (p. 232) I 

The Glossary, however, thouijfh not always accurate 
and expressive yet a praiseworthy attempt, is interesting 
to the student of the lai)ii^uao;e. It covers about 40 pauses 
of close print and is exhaustive as far sis the efforts of 
the compiler could reach, who himself was fully eo^i^nisant 
of the ilitfioulties of his task.' 

' For the difficulties of his subject and his style as well as 
thp imperfection of liis plossarv, tlip compiler does not forget to 
niako nil ampK* iipology — 

It^JTx^ »ft«5l f^fCS 3t^t ^31 W^m IV"? (71 C^ IK^ ^■t^iis^r.m 
ntS9l ^t?l ^\i^ CJ1? C^? tlC^ 1 Tf^mCil JTvfU JI:K1 ^i\^ fifBt^ ^^x 
ifVi'.V 1)31^^5 ^t^.Jf? «llC5Itf5 5 ^frf | -Jj^f^j ^f^ Sf^ 3^:351- 

C^t«» ?fl (71? J1^51 95f"5 ^5ltt^ iJ^* T<f^^5? "SRI ^^571 C?«W *tt?nf 

c^ fpfis\i ^r^fcRi 3tY f rm T? ^ c^R ^^: >??5» eiJjt? fV sfT^ ?5^ 
f Q91 ?t9 sn ij^t ^'t^tJi T5T1J1 "SFc? tt?mT3 ?r^«a JTrr^ nf^n^ t^ m 


Amoiiif other Jiuropean Missionary writers at Sriram- 
pur, the name of Rev. Jolm Mack, unassnminir as 

it is, is interestiuji^ to the student 

Jolin Mack. c i\ rj. i-i cxi i- 

1797-1845 literary history or the time. 

He was born in March 1:2, 1797, a 

native of Edinburgh, his father having been a writer 

to the signet. He was educated at the Edinburgh Uhiver- 

sit}' and distinguished himself at the Baptist (yollege at 

Bristol. On his visit to England during I819-'21 in search 

of funds and men for the proposed Serarapore College, Ward 

selected Mack to be a Professor at the College, where the 

latter arrived in November 18:iL Mack worked as a 

Professor for 16 years, succeeded Marshman in the charge 

of the College and raised it to be for some time a 

first-rate private educational institution in Bengal. Mack 

was highly proficient in Classics, Mathematics and Natural 

Science, and gave the lirst cliemical lectures (in Bengali as 

well as in English) in Calcutta. He also shared the editorial 

management of the Friend of ludia at rlrampur from its 

commencement. He died of cholera in Ajnil 80, 1845. 

Mack's only, ami in certain respects noteworthy, 
contribution to Bengali consists of a treatise on Chemistry, 
the first of its kind in Bengali, named 1%f5l?l1 fw^ 

^t^ I ^^^ ^\^ ^t^ JTKs^?:^^ ^^^ ^f^^ ^t?ii c^#t?( 

^t^t^ ^si^^tf^^ ^=1 or the Principles ol' Chemistry by 
Jolm Mack translated into Bengalee (Serampore Press. 
1881). It i^ divided into I parts' the first part cover- 
ing about 887 pages, prefaced by 

His scientific writiiiLC. . . . . . " 

an interesting introduction written 

^5C^ ^ci)^ fi5fTt^« >\^l<a\ ^<^ >2f^t!:? ^^'^ ^'ff ^tc« ntf^^^ I 

' The secotifl part was never possibly published. 


in Kti'^lisli. It opens with the trcatnK'nt ot" f^Ff'lfll ^2r«t^ 

or chemical forces such as ^t^^*1, ^f^^, '^rtC'Tt^, f^Sjit^ ^\^^, 

etc., and then i^ocs on to deal with fVfsi^ll ^^ or chemical 

substances.' Man \ of the theories and conclusions stated 
here have loni; l)een abandoned but they give us, throuj^h 
the medium of Be .ii:ali, a i,^ood picture of the state of the 
dimlv understood chemicul science as it obtained t-iuhty 
vcars aufo. Even after the lapse of more than half a century 
and with a better understandin<;- and demand of this 
useful science, it is to be reji^retted tiiat Beni^ali lano;uage 
caimot as yet boast of a sinjj;le ii^ood treatise on Cliemistry, 
n jt to speak of scientific literature in general; ,>et this 
missionary, with a scanty vocabulary and imperfect 
command over the language- ventured with singular courage 

' Viz, Oxygen, Chlorine, Bromine, Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Sulplinr, 
Phosphorus, Carbon, Boron, Selenium. There is also a section on 
Steam Engine. 

* It is said in the Bengal Obituary (p. 250)thnt Mack's work written 
in English whs ti-anslated by F. Carey, but this is doubtful. (See also E.G. 
Wenger. Story of Lallbuznr Baptist Church, I90fi). In this connexiim, it 
wonld be interesting to call attention to the question i-aised by Mack, which 
is also referred to by F. Carey but of which there seem to have been 
no satisfactory solution as yet, viz., the que8tit)n relating to the proper 
method of compiling a glossary of technical scientific terms in Bengali. 
We will not enter into the vexed question whether we should take 
European terms l)t)tlily into our laiiLriiagc or mlnpt them to our use by 

Satiscrif .substitution or otlierwise. but we may 

Glossnrv of technical !»«' allowed to quote here the opinion of Mack 

tern>a- as set forth in the Preface to his work and 

leave it to speak for itself:- " The names of 
Chemical substances nro. in the great msijority of instances, perfectly 
new to the Bengali languiige. as they were but few years ago to nil 
lanijuages. The chief ditliculty was to determine whether the European 
nomenclature should be merely put into Bengalee letters, or the 
European terms be entirely translated by Sungskrit, as bcanng mnch 
the same relation to Bengalee B8 the Greek and Latin do to English. 


and noble aim to open up a useful though neglected field 
of knowledge and culture. We cannot l)ut speak with 
admiration of the work of these early missionary writers in all 
departments of useful knowledge, and we maybe forgiven if 
we dwell rather long on this early Bengali treatise on a 
scientific subject. The object of this publication is thus given 
in the Preface : " Mr. ALarshman having prop.osed some 
years ago to publish an original serie ; of elementary works 
on history and science, for the use of youths in India, I 
count it a privileu'^e to be associated with him in the 
undertaking and cheerfully promised ^o furnish such parts 
of the series as was more intimatelv connected with mv 
own studies. Other engagements have retarded the 
execution of our project, much against our will. He has 
therefore been able to do no more than bring out the first 
part of his Brief Survey of History, and now, at 
length, I am permitted to add to it this first volume 
of the Principles of Chemistry." AVith the object of 
teaching rudiments of the science to the Indian youth in 
view, Mack thought it best to write his work in Bengali, 
scarcely fit though it was for the expression of scientific 
ideas. "Be it understood," he says, "the native youths 
of India are those for whom we chiefly labour; and their 
own tongue is the great instrument by which we hope to 
enlighten them." The book, chiefly meant to be a text- 
book, for which however its style is difficult enough, was 
compiled chiefly from the notes of lectures which the 
writer delivered to his pupils in Calcutta and SrTranipur. 
It is hardly necessary to speak any thing of its language 

I have preferred, therefore, expressing the European terms 

in Bengalee character, merely ehan<,'in<r the words into the 
pretixcs and terminology, so as decently to incorporate the new 
language." For a sketch of John Mack's life, see Carey, Oriental 
Christian Biogruphy, vol. i., pp. 282-286. Also Bengal Obituary. 


and mail nor. AVc can lianlly oxiioct anytliinj^ better 
than what we have already seen — for the tlienie here is 
science, the writer an Enirlislnnan and tlie Honiiali is the 
Bengrali of almost a centiirv aire : vet it must be noted 
that the Ian<;uai^e of this work is more simple and 
easy certainly than that of Ft-lix Carey or even of some 
of the more abstruse writers of scientific text-books in 
the prest-nt day. One or two specimens are selectetl 
here : — 

T^^ ^5 1 

•^in^ ^rtl? C«C^C^« f^"? f^C*t^ f^S«Tl (violet) ^<f?F^C«t^ 

^^1 f^ftf » ^^ ^^'I'fWUs f^f'<P^ Ji:^^ '5lt^ (p. 107, Sec. 
lGO-161) I 

1?l5(tf%Jf ?tt11 C^f^^i "5151 ^"5^ "Slf^^ls^ ^t^1^1 ^^ 

^<lf^-5 ^fm ^ 5t^t^ -sif^^ls^ ®^^^ ^5:5^t^r5 ^^ 55t^ 
^t^s ^*1*T f^^^tf'flW ^VS (p. 177, Sec. 258) | 

^^t^ ^^ I fV? (7Pt5^ ? 'JifV ■»I»?^t^ 'f C?J5? (7I(7t ^"^ 5«C5 

c^^?i ^fi^ si^n^i^ ^^v2j^^ f^c»t^ 'l•^^^^^ ft^n ^^^^a (p. 103, 

Sec. 150). 


Of the other mitisionaries, who belon'^ecl to the Baptist 
Mission and wrote some tracts and text-books, it is not 
necessary to dwell lon«>- upon the names of Lawson, 

Robinson, Wen<]^er or Pearce. John 

John Lawson. /,-r.-, io-> n 

Lawson (w87-I8;i.j) wrote a treatise 
on Natutal History called t^^ which was published by 

the School Book Society before 1821.i 

John Robinson. r ^ t ^ ' • 

John Robuison, some time editor or 
the KiKingelisi, translated Robinson Crusoe,^ Bunyan's 

Holy War, and Carey's Grammar 

John Wenger. 

into Beni^ali. John AYenger/^ (1811- 
1880) who was an associate of Dr. Yates and revised 
his Bengali Bible (1861), edite<l the Upridesaka, compiled 
a Bengali Grammar, translated Marshman's History,'* 
and wrote or edited a few tracts and school-books. 

^ It was in si.\ numbers, viz. : 1, The Lion and the Jackal 
(subsequently published as f'!°C??l f^T5l1 ) 2. The Bear. 3. The 
Elepliant. 4. The Rhinoceros and tlie Hippopotamus. 5. The Tiger. 
6. The Cat. For a sketch of Lawson's life, see Carey, Orient. Christ. 
Biography, (vol. ii. pp. 415-425.). 

" (i) ^r<|5PIJ|; ^»tt3 #t^ ^« or the Adventures of Robinson 
Crusoe translated by J. R. and illustrated with woodcuts. 2nd ed. 1885. 
pp. 1-201 (^) ^ii^-%-^ ^f^. ^<K ^Sft^f^'^ f^'X'® '^^^t^ ^?f^'^'f 

ib-as I ( S.'coiid P'.dition, 1S51) ) illustrated also by woodcuts, pp. 1-310. 
Also wrote ^^tfl tfC^ ^XW"^ f^^ill or an Account of the 
Ganges Canal, pp. 1-19, 1854 ? This Robinson must not be confounded 
with another Robinson who was Government Inspector of Schools 
in .Assam ami wrote a work on mensuration called ^f^ if^^tl 
(or Elements of Land Surveying) in 1850 which was reviewed in 
the Friend of [ndid of Sept. 12, 1850. 

* See Buckland'a Dirtionnn/ nf Indian Biographi/. 

* Se« ]>. 2M» footnote ante. 


AVilliam Hopkins Poarce (1791-lS-lO) who came out to 
India (1817) as an assistant of Ward and subsequently 

joined the Calcutta Baptist Printing 
W. n. Pearce. 1794- Establishment, was for several years 

184U. , , ■ ■ r , 1 

editor of the Ciirisluin OOfserver and 
wrote a few school-books ' and Christian tracts. He is 
chietly remenibered now for iiis interest in education and 
his connexion with School Book Society in whicli he 
succeeded Dr. Yates as secretary. 

But the name of William Yates cannot be passed over 
so liijhth'. Dr. Yates, son of a shoe-maker and himself 

a villaj^e school-master for some time, 
Wiiiiftm Yntcs. was born at Loutrhborouslj, Dec. 15, 

1792. He entered the Baptist College 
at Bristol where he studied the Orientnl lan<rua<'-es and 
came out to India on April Ifi, 1815 under the patronage 
of the Baptist Missionary J^ociet}-. He joined Carey at 
Srlranipur, studied Sanscrit and Bengali under him and 
helped him extensively in his literary work. In 1S17 
he left Carey and joined the Baptist Society at Calcutta, 

' His works, nnionp other things, are; — (i) «^^Tt^ ^ 51^ I ^^^ 

TWV[\\ >Q 'Itftai ■« '2Jt^ ^1] tfi\\f\ ^irf^ f^^l or Geography 
interspersinl with information historical and misccllanooiis for 
tho use of schools in U parts. Calcutta. 1818. Ed. in 1822 ; also 
1843. (ii) ITT "Sltai^ I 5^ ^ir^r:^? $^5 ^C9tmT»R or the Trn«» 
Refnge ; a Christian tract. Calcutta ? 1822 ?. W. FT. IV.ine must 
not ho confounded with G. Tearco who wrote or edited (I) TfS'irf'l^ 
^?t^ I 18:?8 (2) «rt«f3r^a nt^fpf rar or Companion to tho 
Bihle translatpfl hv R im Krijna Kahiriij and revised hy G. Pearce 
1HM5. (3) ^irt fjJ^f?!^ TS I or Foolish (Jalatiana or Inconstancy 
in Faith exposed and Antidote supplied (pp. 1-50). Calcutta 1845 ? 
For more details about \V. H. Penrco's life and writing see Life of 
^^'. H. Pearce by William Yates ; Bengal Obittianj, pp. 221-222: 
ilis-tionnry Ilrrahl, 1828 ; Carey, Orient. Chrint. Biography, vol. 
iii, pp. l-li (a list of his works given at p. 10). 


becoming pastor of the Englisli Church at Circular Road 
iu 1829-30. In 182-1' he became Secretary of the School 
Book Society and got large opportunities for carrying out 
his educational projects. His educational works received 
considerable encouragement from Government which not 
only subsidised him but offered him a stipend of £1,000 
on condition of his devoting himself to such work — an 
offer w^hicii he declined.' He died at sea on Julv 3, 1S4-5. 
His works in Bengali are numerous but they were all 
published between 1817 and 1827 and consist chiefly of — 

1. The New Testament translated, 1833. Ed. iu 1839. 

2. The Holy Bible in Bengali. 18-15. pp. 1-1144 (subse- 
quently revised by J. Wenger and C. B. Lewis iu 1861 and 
1807). See Appendix II at the end of this volume. 

3. %^t^Cff»t (expurgated edition). 1841. 

4. "^ff f^^l or Natural Philosophy and History. 

^dtt<l>'R or Elements of Natural Philosoi)hy and Natural 
Historv in a series of familiar dialoii:ues desio-ned for the 
instruction of Indian youth. Calcutta 1825. 2nd Ed. 1834. 
Publislit'd by the School Hook Society.^ 

^ For more details abont his life and work see James Hoby, Memoir 
of Willinm Yntes (1847); Dictionary of National Biography; Bengal 
Olitiiarij. pp. 222-225; Dirtioitary of British and Foreign Authors, 
vol, iii ; (7(//. Chr. Ohxcrv. 184."); Eclectic Review, vol. iv ; Cal. 
Rev., vol. X, p. 1(52 et seq ; Catalogue of British and Foreign Bihle 
Society, 1857, p. 332, etc. ; W.H.Carey, Oriental Chrintian Biography, 
vol. I. pp. 29, 48 ; India Review, vol. vii, 1843, pp. 740-743, in which 
will be found an excellent likeness of Dr. Yates by Grant. 

'^ This work, although on a scientific subject, avoids scientific 
technicalities as much as jiossible and constitutes an eminently 
readable popular exposition of the broad topics of Natural 
Philosophy and lli.story and is indeed the first of it.s kind. 


G. Inlioihiction lo the Bengalee Language in two vol- 
umes. 1810. :2tul Ed. bv J. Wenii;er, IS 17. Containin«j; 
a grammar, a reader and explanatory notes with an index 
(in vol. I) and selections frnni ISenijali literature (in vol. 
ir. The author's Preface says that "it consists of two 
volumes, the first of which is chietly of European and the 
second entirely of native composition." The first volume con- 
tains a grammar, select readinj^j lessons consistin<^ of simple 
sentences, fables, anecdotes, etc. : while the second contains 
in "a condent-ed and corrected form " the best {)arts of all 
the native (mostly prose) compositions in Beu'^ali. The 
selections are from Totu Itihas (18 tales), Liiiimiilfi 

The style and manner are more narrative than philosophical or 
scientific. The form is tliat of a dialogue between a teacher and 
his pnpil who is carious to acquire an insight into the mysteries 
of the nntiiral phenomoua. This work is chiefly compiled from 
Martinet's Catechism of Natnre and Baley's Useful Knowledge. 
The subjects embraced are too many but they are dealt with in a 
popular and rather summary way. After giving in the first few 
chapters some account of the mysteries of the Heavens ( ^tf1^5 
5r^tf^ i^'!5 ) and the atmosphere ( ft^ ^t^ ■« ^It^t^lT V\ "« ^f^^ 
ilffVa f^^"W ^'H ), the teacher discourses on the eartli ( ^f«f<flij 
■e Jl^Bil W^ ) and the human being ( q^lj f^* -^si) ) and 
then goes on from the si.xth dialogue to the description of the 
animal and the vegotablo kingdoms, concluding with a fow 
words on the minerals and on the products of various countries. 
Here is a specimen both of its science audits style: — 

«^ ( CI JT^HI'S^ ^H fV? Ttl JT^t'f^'II Cn Crr^ T^ ^f^l ^l^tTf 
^ 3W^ V.^ TPfsur -Slf^^^99t^3 31^ 21^3 95: 3f?tr5 C^ l^j^ 

(,T\ J^^ Vf^S ^I ^5 1,\^\ ^W\ f *f51 ^ I 

•^^ I ^^R 55 ^t^lc^s •^Hnj c^tt "^trf s,■^^ c^t^i ^t^ f^T^«m ^^c^ 
fsFifi ^5 ^-^ 9 in 5tc3 fjjM? CTR TVJf^ ^^ ^fin> "Jf j^riTa (?if^ ?9?rr5 

a^fsT"? 5U I (2nd edition, p. 14). 


(9 letters), Batris SimbSsan (l-i stories), RiljabaU 
(8 extract-;), Raja Kr.snaeliandra Rayer Cliaritra (Sextracts) 
Purus-parlksS (16 stones), Juyiln Chaudrika (9 pieces), 
Jniiniirnab (9 extracts), Prabodh-cliandrika (•!< stories) 
besides extracts ftoni Tathyaprakas, Mahabhurat (story 
of Nala), Hymns of Ram-mohon and specimens of the 
})eriodical literature of the day. 

(7) C5?Jf[^R'ffTt ^^C^t^¥^ f»i^U< or An Easy Intro- 
duction to Astronomy for young persons composed by 
James Ferj^uson F. R. S. and revised by David Brewster 
LL.D. and translated into Benj^alee by William Yates. 
Calcutta School Book Society. 1838.* 

(8) ^t^^^5|^? or Vernacular Class Book Reader 
for the Government Collesres and Schools translated into 
Bengali. Calcutta Baptist Mission Press. 184-i. 

(9) Translation of Doddridge's Rise and Progress 
of Religion. Anglo-Bengali, pp. 1-300. 1840 (Murdoch, 

' The Introduction ( ^f^"^ ) says :— ''Ptg'JTS? TtC^C^^ ^1T5 .ilt 

*i^ ^'^J^ Ills' ^ffs ^K"^^ ^v ^5f«r^t^s ^f^ ^^ ^ ^t^ ^rlc?! 

^C¥^ CSfitNf^ (fJl ®its ^^rs *1[f%^^ 1 This work is composed almost 
on the same lines as tlie author's 'I'tft'fN'nt'Tt^ I From the table 
of contents quoted below, the subjects embraced will bo found to 
be prett}- extensive : (,) 'jf»H>a i\fi Q ^t^f^ ^^ltC^3 fTTa«1 (pp. 1-16). 
(ii) 1^^ Tg^ Cst^ fJlf'^- ^ "^JiltfWSt^ NT^I (pp. 17-35). (ni) ^^ 

-Q ?tfg?f^5 (pp. 36-54). (iv) t'x^fft i^ii W.^ 

Yates's _ jj-^^J^ ^^ ^'W^X^l ^Sff^^^Tf i]^^ .^ -Sff^jp^ ^\K\ 

^ ■* «21«(Ol Cl^Ct 'm 5fC3 51^1^1^ ^ fi(«5^ 

??I it^tiJ f^^^l (pp. 5i-G8). (r) '^p'tft? f[<i1 ^ 2}»l^s1 M^lt^T 

fjHIsi^'i^ (pp. 68-83). (r/) fw^ratf^? ?tJ^ ^?t%^ ^t?t ^ 'f^'SIC'R *l1%T§ 

^ 51:^^ (Tit's*! ^?tt^ r^T51 (pp. 83-100). (vn) ^jf^R^t •£l?j%1^fr«I R^ 

•nfti ^53 7^ sf^cl^ft^^t (pp. 103-118). (rni-) Ji^jrra c^^f^' ^ttrg 

t^^K (pp. 118-132) (u) in»raf5 f^5 ^ 7^ ■« ^rat^f? JTsni f^n«1^ fsT^^I 
(pp. 132-139). (.r) 5f^tfwf^n«l (pp. 1.39-159). 

" Besides these, Lonj; ( Return of Names, etc. ) mentions 
also a translation of Dnddridiro's Rise and Progress; and the 


Of the other Missionary Societies, the Luiulon Mission 
whicli came into l)i'in<jj a little later, took some part in 

the eneourai^emt'nt oF the vernacular 

London Miasionary .^^^j promotion of education through 
Society. ' ... 

tliat niodinni. Many of its mission- 
aries, in these early days of text-book writing', com- 
posed numerous educational works of value and 
usefulne-s : but it would be sulfieieut for our purpose 
if we take into consideration the names Robert 
Mav, J. Ilarley, J. D. Pearson, and James Keith. The 
first three of these missionaries, however, whose names 
are linked together like those of the three great SrTriimpur 
brethren, are remembered not so much for their literary 
efforts as in connexion with their numerous llourishing 

vernacular schools established be- 

nss^isis'' ^^^'^^'^ ^^^"^ ^"'^ CMiinsurah. In 

July ISU, Robert May,* with a 

very narrow income, opened a free vernacular school in 

his dwelling house at Chinsurah but within a year he 

succeeded in establishing fifteen more schools with '.>."»] 

Bengal Ohitunnj (p. 225) adds IMoiisin^ Talcs, Epitome of Ancient 
History (also Hobby, op.cil., p. 211), CiUbiated Cliaractfra of 
Ancient History, a translation of Bunyau's Pilgrim's Progress Pt. I, 
and of Baxter'."* Call to the Unconverted (.\leo Murdoch, Cutalogue). 
Besides these, Yates, like many other missionaries njentioned 
here, wrote numerous Christian Tracts. Ho also wrote a Bengalee 
Qrammar, ed. Wenger. Calcutta, 1849. See W. H. Carey, Oriental 
Christian Biography, vol. i, p. -W ; also India Revtew, vol. vii, 1813 

' See Aitiatic Jmirrinl, vol. iii, 1817, p. 500; Bengal Obifiiarij, 
p. 20S;C«/. Rev vol. 1850, art: "Bengali Literature and Language" ; 
Lushington, Hiitnry, Design and Prencnt State of Benevolent Inati- 
futiona in or near Calcutta, 1824, pp 145-155; Long, Introduction 
to Adam'i> Report*, pj). 1-6; Long' a Handbook to the Bengal iligfionn; 
W. H. Carey, Orient. Christ. Biography, vol iii, pp. 294-298 For 
John Harley, «.-»e W. H. Carey, op. nV., p. 134 oKie./. 


scholars and obtained the patronai^e of Lord Hastings. 
Mr May however was soon cut off by death but his 
colleagues Messrs. Harley and Pearson, \v)io also beloncjed 
to tlie same society, succeeded in keepint^ up his work by 
the offer of their services. Robert ^lay ' compiled in 
1817 an arithmetical table on the native model which 
was popularly known for a lont^ time as M(ii/-Ganita. 

Harley sup[)lemented May's work 

John Harley or ^J ^"s Ganitaiika or ^r«t^t^ 

Tfarie. (d. 1822): (Chinsurah, 181<.>) compiled on 

a mixed model.- Pearson's works 
however, were of orreater value and effect than any of 

these. He was a very industrious 

Joliti. I). Pearson. j i • -l i -^ • t/t' 

PTO-lSsi ^'■^'^ voluminous writer and it is diih- 

cult to draw up a complete list of 
his writings, of which the following seem to be the more 
important ones : — 

(1) ^;5C<iJt^vft or Letters on Familiar Subjects con- 
taining 260 letters on domestic, commercial, and famih'ai- 
subjects, zemindary accounts, and other forms in common 
use. 1819. 6th ed. in 1852. (Published by the School 
Book Society). 

{•I) ^t^'fT^I^ f^^^<^ or Schoolmaster's jNIanual 
(Published by the School Book Society) 1819. Explains 
the Bell :in<l Lancaster system. 

' On tlip epitaph over Robert May's remains are -oritten 
tlie foUowiiif; words ; " In his life he was especially engaged in 
promoting the best interests of the rising generation, by whom 
liis name will long be held in endearing recollection." {Bengal 
Ohitiiitrij. p. 20S). ^tf'f« (Gonito) or a Collection of Arithmetical 
Tables by II. May in Bengali, Svo. Calcutta 1S2I. See Catalogue 
E. I. Co's Librarii. (1845), p. 2G8. 

' See also the works citeil above in ]i 203 footnote '. Also see 
Carey, Oriental Christian Biography, vol. i, i>p. 368-71. May's and 
Harley's Arithmetic were repnblished by tho School Book Society, 


(3) ^t^Tt^^ or Iiliomatical Exercises. Eni^lisli and 
Bengalee, witli ilialoi^ues, leltur?, etc., on various sub- 
jects. Calcutta 1S:!0. A phrase-book anil vocabulary. 
Published by the School Book Society. (Ed. Cal. 18:19.) 

(I) ^If^^Tl or Moral Tales composed jointly with 
Rfiju Radhakunta Deb for tin' School Book Society. 
Before 1S21. 

(5) Trp,nslation of Murray's. En^;lish Grammar, 1&;!0. 
[Mentioned also in ialaloijue E. I. C<niipaii)/^s Lihrarij 
( p. 2t)7 ) as ''Grammar of the Eui^lish Language, English 
and Bengalee, Calcutta 1820"]. 

(r>) ^tft^ tf^tC'T^ >1^b6^ or an Epitome of Ancient 
History, p]nglish and Bengalee, containing a concise 
account of the Egyptians, Assyrians, Persians, Grecians 
and Romans. The English compiled by Pearson : the 
Ben«rali version bv Pearson and others. Calcutta l&'iU. 
j)p. l-t»2;3. (A previous edition containing only 3(il pages 
with the accounts of the Egyptians, Assyrians, Baby- 
lonians, Medes, Persians and the (irecians). 

(7) ^^51 ^ c^Ttf^^ t^Itf^ f^^W ^l^^^5|^, English 
and Bengali. 1st eJ. 18:Ji. ind ed. Calcutta 18:17. 

(8) ^^ 51^ "STTSl or the Two Great Commandments 
being an exposition of St. Matthew xxii. 37. Calcutta 

(D) We find the following entry in Murdoch, Citta- 
lojjur : "Pilgrim's Progress. Bengali and English by 
Rev. J. D. Pearson, chiefly from the Seram})ore Edition, 
1831-. 2nd Ed. Bengali alone. An Edition published by 
J. Wenger in 18:j3."» 

(10) \\\ the Ciitiiltgne of E. I. Compaufs Lihranj 
(1845), p. 2r.7, mention is made of " A School Dictionary, 
English and Bengali. 12nio. Calcutta 1829. 

' See also W. H. Carey, Oriental Chiutian Uioyiiiphy, vol. i, p. 370, 
for a list of Pearson 'a works. 



Of Rev. Tames Keit!), who came out to India in 1810 
and beloni^ed to the London Mission at Calcutta, it is 

said that " during his short career, in 
"^nsr-isz^*'' conjunction with Rev. H. Townly» 

he laid the foundation of a mission in 
the metropolis of India."- His chief works, educa- 
tional or biblical are (/) ^^ ^^ ^?lt^t^ S ^\^ (ill ^(31^ 
^P^'^Itl^'R or a Dialogue between a porter and a^ gardener. 
A Christian tract. 2nd ed., pp. 1-10. Serampore 1820 ? 
3rd ed. considerably modified., pp. 1-20. Calcutta 1135? 
(ii) ^t^C^^fe^m f*f^ti:'/ "^"2 ^tfts^f ^t^t^ 5 ^5f^^ ^Tf^^*1 
or a Grammar of the Bengalee language adapted to the 
young in easy questions and answers. Calcutta 1825, 
pp. 1-68. 3rd ed. Calcutta 1839. Published by the School 
Book Society.^ 


' Heary Towuly was also a tract-writer in Bengali, Among his 
works may be mentioued (1) CTt*I *!t3 ^t*!^ or What Scriptures 
should be regarded, a Christian tract in the form of a dialogue between 
a Christian and a Hindu. Serampore, 1820 ? (Ed. C. C. T. and B. S. 
1886). pp. 1-12. (2) Jl^^Jl 'iRsi:*? Jlf^3 ilT^ >i?I^t:<^ '^^t'T^'R I 
2ud ed., pp. 1-16. (C. C. T. and B. S.) 

* See Bengal Obituary, pp. 67-68. Asiatic Journal, 1817, vol. iii, 
p. 500. 

^ Dinesh Ch. Sen {History, p. 870) erroneously styles the author as 
Keatand his Grammar as Ket-Vyakaran. The date given by him is 
1820. It seems the book was not available to him when he wrote this 
account : for otherwise this mistake is absurd. In Catalogue of E. I. Co.'s 
Library, mention is also made of Nitikotha or Fables in Bengali by 
J. Keith. Calcutta 1828. A specimen of the method and style of 
the Gi'aunnar is given below : — 

Interjections or ^tC^CttfV f^?I I 


It is not worth whilo (o lin<;or long; over the names of 
other minor misiionary or non-missionary writers who 

wrote reh'i>M'ous tracts and educational 

Other minor Eiiropoan x^..* i „ ,i. e 4^ ^' 1 i- 

^j.j^p^ ' text-i)Ooks ; lor to <>ive an exhaustive 

aceount of their names anil writings 
would he to enumerate a Homeric catalo«^ue.' We may, 
however, mention in passing; the names of llerklotts,- 
Sutherlaud'' and Sandys'* who wrote ehietly on Geo- 
graphy; of Kempbell ^ ami Kneane '' whose contributions 
were mostly historical ; of Mundy,^ Ronse,*^ Iloeberlin •' 
and Townly"^ who were religious controversialists; of 

f^ C^l, ^f? C», ^5l C5, ffS Cql I (p 41). It is cnrions to note such 
expressions occurring as ^tf^ '^t f^^tf^ (p- 35), ^f^l W^ C^tT (p- 62). 

' The activity of the Calcutta School Book and of School Society 
as well as the writings of authors like the Rev. K. 51. Banerji is not 
treatcil here, because, properly speaking, they belong to a subsidiary 
movement in literature wliich came into relief a decade later than the 
movement inaugurated by the missionaries of Srirampur or the 
Pundits of Fort William College. 

* A Map of the World in Bengali by Rev. Gregory Ilerklotts 
of Chinsurnh. 1S21. 

* Geography of India by J. Sutherland. 

* General Geography in Bengali by Sandys, 1812. 

' Tucker's History of the Jews translated into Bengali, 1843. 
pp. 1-257. 

' Pilrasika Itihus. 

' ^it^^ •si^ff*. 3 «CT5j jrfJT ft^i^iic^mf? ";trg(? »<c^ ^^i^l P^^^r^ 

^'3'f or Christianity and Hindui.sui (2 pts pp. 1-230. Cal. 1828) by 
George Mnndy. G. Mundy was attached to C. M. S. at Chinsnrah, 
latterly a pastor of the Coolie Bazar Chapel, d. 1853. 

» House revised the Bengali Bible (1897). Ho wrote many tracts 
of which may be mentioned aJtSt^ f^^tfl'nilP ^^^"Ra^l or Plain 
Eeimon.'i on Christian Doctrine, pp. 1-148. ISSI. 

** 1'S fSC^il ^"St^ or Bible Stories translated from the German 
of Dr. Christian Gottlieb Barth by Mr. Hoeborlin. With 27 illustrations, 
pp. 1-252. 1846. 
•" See p. 26«3 footnote. 


^Miller, ' Mendies- and Rozario^ who wero lexicoojra- 
pliers ; of Yule/* "NVeitbrecht," llodt'^' and Bom- 
wetsch " who composed easy reading lessons for children 
in schools. "We may similarly pass over the names of 
William Morton,^ a miscellaneous tract and text-book 
writer; of David Carmichael Smyth, ^ author of a treatise 

' Bengali Dictionary 1801 (Long and Biivncos). A copy without 
title-page in Suhitya Parisat Library. 

- An abridgement of Johnson's Dictionary in and Bengali, 
calculated for the use of Native as well as European students to which 
is subjoined a short list of French and Latin words and phrases in 
common use among English authors (Sorampore Mission Press. 1822) 
by John Mendies. To Vol. II. is appended an Introduction to Bengali 
Language Seramporo 1828. 

* Bengali Dictionary, 1837. 

* f*t^ C'lU^ffif^ or Spelling Book with short sentences and verses. 
' l^"? f*rf t or Object Lessons, 1852. 

« («) mii{ r^w\mi ^'ff^ ^\^^^f'^ c<it«(r^s(tw r^fitf^^?!^ %fF5 

^^r? I pp. 1-92. Calcutta 1843. (b) SiW^CftW^: ^<t<^ ^t^^ f'\^\Z^ 
^rt^t^Wf^l I pp. 1-16. Calcutta 1841. (c) ^f^f^tsJTl I a Christian 
tract (see Bengal Obifunnj, p. 08). Rer. Randolph de Rodt (1814-1843) 
was attached to the London Missionary Societj-. Came out to India 
April 11, 1826. (Soo Carey, Oriental Chrisfian Biography, p. ISO.) 

' i'5( ■'tt^ I or Thirty Reading Lessons for the use of Children 
in Bengali Christian Schools (pp. 1-01. Calcutta ? 1855 ?) by Rev. 
Chistian Bomwetsch. 

* (n) Proverbs of Solomon translated. 1843. (h) Biblical and 
Theological Vocabulary, English and Beng.ali compiled, by William 
Morton ;vnd others, pp. 1-31. Calcutta 1845. (c) ^?t5 ^f^ Jl'^^t^ or a 
Collection of Proverbs, Bengali and Sanscrit, with tiieir translation and 
application in English, pp. 1-100. Calcutta 1832. (rf) Dictionary of the 
Bengali Language, with Bengali Synonyms and English inter]>reta- 
tion. Calcntfa 1828. (c) \s'!lI'21"?FM ^^J '^^'jft or a Treatise en Idol 
worship and other Hindu observances by Vrajamohon Deb followed by 
translation from Viijrasuchi of Ashwagosha, pp. 00, 14. Calcutta, 
1842. by William Morton. (Ed. in 1843). 

" Sffipfli^? f^lf^ or Original Bcngalese Zumeendareo Account 
accompanied by a translation into English, pp. 1-401. Calcutta 1823. 
Smyth died in 1S4I. See Bengal Obituary. 


on zemimlarv accounts; of Geoii^o Galloway' who 
translated Gladwin's Pleasant Stories; of Captain Stewart - 
the founder of tlie Burdwan Church Mission ; and of Dr. 
Hans Ileinrieh Eduard Rieer ^ who rendered into 
Benijali some of Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare. The 
namo of Sir Graves Champney Haujjjhton, the «j:reat 
scholar and orientalist, will detain u-; for a moment and with 
this last, thoui^h not the least important na?ne, we close 
our chapter on the European writers in Benijali. 

Sir Graves Champney Hau!2;hton,son of John Hauifhton, 
a Dublin physician, was born in 178S. He was educated in 
Eui^land and havin<j^ obtained a military cadetship on the 
Bengal Establishment of East Lidia Company, he proceed- 
ed to India in 180S. Li 181:1 he joined the Fort William 

Colleii;e where he received seven 

Sir (iravcs Champ- 
ney Ilanghton. U7S8- medals, three deEjrces of honour, and 

' various pecuniary rewards for his 

proficiency in Arabic, Persian, Hindusthani, Sanscrit and 

' •:pTn^«1 ^ftrtflt^l or rlensant Stories of Gladwin's Persian 
Moonshec translated from the original Pci-sian and Kni^lish into tlio 
Bengalee lanffuacre. Calcutta, printed liy D'Rozario & Co., 1840. 

» («) t^W^ ^9(1 ( tfr?!:^ ^^651 ) fTS ^s^l^^CSWNTIUS??! l^^ I 

or Moral Tales of History with an historical sketch of England and 

her connexion witli India, etc. (containing selections from L. M. 

Stretch's Beauties of History), pp. 1-G8. Calcutta 1820. Dated wrongly 

in Biivncoi; as appearing in 1819 and entitled 5fs?l(>1'^ ^f^Me^ Dinosh 

Chandra Sen, History (pp. 8G9 and 870) enters the bonk twice as I'pa- 

deaha Katha and Moral Talcs of History without identifying them. 

{h) frf^ ^fT^ or tho Destroyer of Darkness : n Christian Tract, 

pp. 1-20. Published by the Calcutta Christian Tract and Book Society; 

1835. For Stewart ami Weitbrecht, seo Di.flriet Gnzclteer, vol. on 

Burdwan in the Chap, on Education. Also see Long's Introduction 

to Adam's Rcportit; Lushingtnn, Ilintory, etc., of Rt'liijious ami Benevolent 

Iustitutt'in.1 in and nenr Calcutta, pp. Itfi-lo.'i. 

' ITt^ CJW'lhiJ «inl"5 M\^-^l f^t^t C^"?^ C^^sni -^^ 
^fTtf^l or Lamb's Tales from .Shakespeare, translated by E Roer, 
pp. 1-21. Calcutta. 1853. (Bengal Family Library Series.) 


Beno-ali. In 1815 his ill-lioaltli compellctl him to leave for 
Eii<rlan(l. In 1817 he was appointed Professor of Oriental 
Lan<>uagos at Hailoybury where he continued till 1827.' 
Hanjjjhton took <^reat interest in the foundation of tlie Royal 
Society in London of which he was an oriental member 
and honorar}' secretary from 18-'31 to lS3o. He died 
of cholera at St. ('loud, near Paris, on August 28, 184'9.'^ 

Ilaughton was more of a scholar than a litterateur 
and his works in Bengali have a philological rather than 
a purely literary interest. His works, chiefly useful 
compilations, consisted of (1) liniliuients of Bengalee 
6'rflww/«r (in English). London 1821, pp. l-]68. It was 
composed by order of the Court of Directors and was 
based mainly on the works of Halhed and Carey. (2) 
Bengalee Selections (from Chanrlicharan's translation of 
Tota Itihas, from jNIrtyun jay's Bengali version of 
Hindi Simhtlsana JBattisi, and from llaraprasad Ray's 
translation of Bidyapati's Sanscrit Purus-parlksa with 
translation into English and a vocabulary, pp. 1-198. 
London. 1822. Edition by D. Forbes, London, 1869. (3) 
Glossal'}/, Bengali and English, to explain the Tota 
Itihfisa, the Batris Simhiisan, the History of Raja 
Krsna Chandra, the Puru: Pariksa, and the Hitopa- 
des. -pp. 1-12-i. London. 1825. (4) A Bengalee- 
Eiiglish Diciionary compiled by order of the Court of 
Directors. London. 1833. These useful works, once held 
in <rreat esteem, are still valuable, but it is rather the 
Bengali language than Bengali literature which owes its 
del)t of gratitude to Haughton. 

1 ^oyal KaXenilar, 1818, p. 293 ; ihiA, 1820, p. 282. 

" For further informations, see Oenilemans^ Magazine, 1833, 
pt ii, 1). 70 ; l.iographical notice in xhUi, 1849, pt. ii, p. 420 ; Annual Ropt. 
of tbo Royal Asiatic Soc. for May 1850 in vol. xiii of Jotirnal, pp. ii-V ; 
Wilson's DnhVm Directory, 1790, p. 121 ; Alumni O.roniences, 1715-1S86. 
ii.GliG; A\]\hone'a Diet, of British and American Authors. 1872, vol. i. 


Genehai. Cm Aii.vcriiKisTics 

^^'e have now closed the survey ot" a period of l'.H.h 
century literatuiv in HeuLcal, which is covered i)riiicii)illy 
by European writers and their colleai^iies and which, if 
not the greatest, is at least one of the most important in 
its literary histo'y : for althout^h not rich in j)ositive 

accomphshment, tliis and the i)eriod 

General remarks on ^f transition which followed it, had 
the cliaracteristics ot 

the P^uropeaa writcra been tlic <^reat scliool-time of modern 

ami their achieve- ,., . . , , • , .• 

,„ent. hterature, periods in wliiclt the 

unconscious experiments of Carey 
and his colleai^ues were made, expanded, and multiplied, 
sometimes with the conscious purpose of developing' a 
prose sti/h' and always with the practical effect of doinuj 
so bv writers in the widelv diverginii' branches of 
literature. No other period demonstrates so conclusively the 

folly or fallacy of the theory already 

Importanee of this alludcd to, which would bid us ii^rnore 
perioil II) literary 
history. iiistoric estimates and look only to 

"the best thin<jfs"in literature. Of such 
"best thin«j;s" tin.- period has got very little to show; its 
productions, with the greatest stretch of literary charity, 
can hardly be said to touch even the fringe of literature 
proper. To appreciate, much less to enjoy, the rudi- 
mentary jiublications of this jieriod would recpiire a 
certain amotmt of patience and Catholicism, if not a kind 
of pre-established harmony of taste, in the reader; yet the 
im|)ortance of this period is not to be underrated on that 
account. There is no other portion of our modern literature 


the study of wliieh can be ignored with greater dant^er, none 
the study of whieli is re})aid by a fuller understanding-, 
in regard tu the rest. Although it was a stage necessari- 
ly unjiroductivo, it \vas yet the great period of 
germination, and an acquaintance with it is helpful 
for the understanding and enjoyment of the rich 
harvest whit-h our literature had subsequently borne within 
the last half of the ce-ntury. 

With the old caution about the constant overla[)ping 

of tendencies, it would not be wrong to state that this 

was chiefly a period of European activity in Bengali 

literature. It is true indeed that there wus a strong 

and unmastered counter-current of 

A period of Euro- native energy whieh exiiresscd itself 
pean activity. "- '' J^ 

in the sono;s of Ihe Kabiwalas and 

other products of purely native genius, not the least 

affected by the new spirit, and that in an histoiical 

survey of tlie literary achievements of this i)eriod we 

cannot very well ignore the signifieanee of these fornis 

of indigenous literature; yet when we consider the 

Europeanised tendency of modern Bengali literature, 

its new literary method and new 

Counter-currents of mode of expression, we cannot but 

native energy, how '■ 

related to it. give a greater prominence to luiro- 

])ean activity and spread of European 
ideas. The older traditions still continued to li\e on, 
and an antagonism between the old and the new^ spirit 
is traceable throughout the literary history of the 10th 
century ; for the mental progress of a nation cannot 
j)rove itself altogether independent of the fatality of 
hereditary transmission. But we give greater im})or- 
tance to the Europeans because it is the spirit of their 
work, aided no doubt by the inexorable hand of eircum- 
stances, which was (o dominate in the end and determine 


ilie final bent of iiKxlein literature. In spite; of the 
natural persistence of old methods and old forms, access 
was obtained to new methods and new forms, and the 
tide of literary fashion began to (low in other and more 
novel directions with the advent of Euro])ean writers and 
European ideas in the tielil. 

The description which su^ifgests itself for the quarter 
of a century from 1800 to 1825 is that of the early or first 

Transition Period ; for it marks the 

Its tianpitional ,• , .1 n ^1 11 , 

character and the "^'^^ s^i'eat advance trom the old to 

changes it brought ^i,g J^^,^y althoui^h another period of 
about. > s I 

progress was necessary to bring 

about in its fulness the dawn of modern literary Bengali. 
The changes of the period are many and far-reaching 
and everywhere transitional in character. In politics and 
social affairs, the conllict between the old and the new 
was gradually taking shape and there was nnrest and 
uncertainty everywhere consequent upon such conflict. In 
linguistic matters, we find not only profit and loss in 
details of vocabulary but also an innovation in the direc- 
tion of a simpler syntax. But in literature, although the 
ancient trend of thought and feeling was to some extent 
being continued in the popular Kabi-songs and other 
indigenous forms of literature, the British contact did not 
fail to bring about changes of the gravest kind, in rela- 
tion to its material, its form, and its literary temper. 
The field of literary adventures was enlarged and since 
the tentative efforts resulting from these innovations 
took, for the most part, the form of their models, radical 
changes in literary form became pali>;il)le. The changes 
in the literary temper were so subtle and varied that no 
summary description would be adecjuate but that it was 
marked by a greater desire for individual liberty. The 
age became more and more artictilate and forthwith res- 



ponded to contemporary influences. The old schools were 
being upset and the representative character of the old 
literature which was becoming more and more urbane and 
and artificially limited to a select few, who could appre- 
ciate its new ideas and novel forms, was lost in the 
attempt, mostly by untrained hands, to imitate foreign 
literary methods and models. 

Leaving aside the indigenous forms of literature for 
separate treatment, the first portion of this period 
(1S00-18I5), which was indeed a stage of timid experiment, 
was for the most part a period of European authorship, 
varied by occasional imitations by scarcely original native 
authors, the chief centre of literary publication being the 

Fort William College. We have 
The College of Fort traced at soms lenffti) the connexion 

William ^ , . „ . , , , • 

of this collesre with the history and 
o-rowth of Beno-ali literature in the early years of 
British settlement ; and its importance cannot be gain- 
said. It was here indeed that modern Bengali literature, 
especially Bengali prose, received its first exercising ground 
and without its co-operation it is doubtful whether even 
the Srirampur Mission, an institution equally important 
to Beno-ali literature, could iiave achieved the remarkable 
success which it actually did. The two institutions, the 
Fort William College and the Srirampur Mission, 
founded at the same time yet so dissimilar to each other 

in their aim and object, found them- 
andthe Srirampur selves connected with each other by 

Mission. *' 

at least one bond of close kiushij), 

namely, the encouragement which both afforded to the study 

of Bengali. We shall realise how close this relationship 

was when we bear in mind that almost all the publications 

of the College were printed at tiie Srirampur Press and 

that, on the other hand, it was the Mission which sup- 


plied the Collei^e with scholars ami professors of Benj]^ali. 
In this respect, eich supplemented the work of the other. 
Indeed before the missionaries came in contact with the 
CoIley;e of Fort William tlirough the appointment of Carey 
as Professor of Benj^ali, their work in the Held of Bensjjali 
prose had been very sli^^lit. In tiie meantime they had only 
succeeded in translating^ and printing off the Bengali 
Bible but in this again tlu'V had rendered only a doubtful 
service to Bengali [)rose. The Mission was too 
poor and too insignificant to undertake extensive 
literary work of a permanent kind ; and on 'political and 
other grounds the missionaries had all along been held 
in disfavour. The lirst political recognition of the 
Mission and its worthy object with reference to the study 

of Bengali came with the appoint- 
coar^g^re:;:" ^"" n^ent of Dr. Carey as Professor in 

Lord Wellesley's newly established 
College. Tiider the patronage, pecuniary and otherwise, 
of the College, a fresh impetus was given to the study of 
Bengali. But even then the stringent regulations which 
had fettered the press in India and other political 
restrictions stood in the way of intellectual progress and 
it was not until another decade or so had passed that a 
more liberal and far-sighted policy \yas adopted. It may 
also be noted here that the benefit rendered to Bengali by 
all these early institutions was never direct but came 
indirectly and therefore with occasional iluofuations 
through their encouragement of the study of the language 
itself on political and other utilitarian grounds. 

This European patronage, however, was attended with 

both loss and gain to Bengali Litera- 

E.iropoan patronngc : (^^c. It is (lan^crous to dogmatise 
Its offecta. . 

about influences but it cannot be 

denied that, speaking generally, it was the intellectual 


stimulus given by tlie British contact which raised 

Benu^ali Literature out of the sloui^h of o^eneral decadence 

into which it had been phmged after the death of Bharat- 

chandia. The vernacular was raised 

Stimulating influoncp jf „ot abovc, at least on Ihe same 
of British contact. 

level wiih, the classical languages, 

which had hitherto held the undisputed sway. But the 

literature of Bengal, which had hitherto belonged 

to the people in general, shifted its centre of activity 

from the peaceful village-homes to tiie crowded citii-s 

and the metropolis, and under the patronage of an 

alien lettered class, imbued with new ideas and novel 

methods, it lost its representative character, its primitive 

colouring, and its pristine simplicity. 

But the literature It is true that the literary spirit of 

losing its primitive 

colouring. the people, even though arrested 

temporarily, never died out and that 

the last echoes of the great Baisnab and Sakta writers 

still lingered faintly in their less worthy successors, the 

Kabiivalas, the Yafrakars, the Kalhakas or the PamcJialikars, 

through whom they have coloured even our modern ways 

of thought ; yet when the literature revived, with the 

creation of a new lettered class and a new public, it revived 

" with a difference." 

It will be seen, however, that this era of Beno-ali 

literature is essentially an era of prose and one of its 

greatest achievements is indeed the creation of modern 

prose-of-all-work. The prose of the tirst decade of the 

century, however, that we are passin<; in review, has 

little or nothing delectable to a mere 

An era of prose ; its i;4.^.„ 4. i i i. i .1 •, • 1 

formal inipoi-tance. literary taster, but to the critical 

student it possesses great interest and 
imjjortance. For this was indeed the beginning of 
Bengali prose properly so called ; for before iSOO, it may 


be cloiil)tcHl wli'.''r, in spite ot" tlio lari^'e numUer ul' old 
philosophical ami ieli«j^ious prose-works now discovereil, 
there is a siiij^le lioni^ali prose work of any iinporlance, 
which unites the bulk and literary ipiality of a book 
proper. It is true indeed that the prose ol' the early 
I9tli century (chiefly tentative in character) is com- 
paratively chunsy, inartistic, but its formal importance 
in literarv history can never be denied, and even within 
this shapeless mass, there is a full pulse of life that 
mav be detected bv anv careful reader who does not 
associate old book with mummies. Hut in order to 
appreeiate this importance, we must at the outset obtain 
some idea of the conditions under which it came about and 
developed so rapidly within a few years. 

Modern Bengali prose, like modern Bengal itself, 

came into being under anomnlons 

The conditions niulcr conditions. After the death of 

which modern lienf^iili _ 

prose came into being Bliiirat-ehandra and with the dis- 
appearance of the great Baisnab 
and Sakta writers the literature of Bengal was left to 
shift for itself, uncontrolled by the power of any individual 
native genius, which alone, by " dwelh'ng apart " in an 
age of conflicting influences, conld have lu-lped to guide 

it. The European writers, who took 
and its suhjoctinn to the lead in the matter at the 

condictinK iiiHuences v^^;. . • c li imi ^ i i 

with the .Lppearanco ^'^S'""'"^.' "f the iDth Century had 

of the old school. little experience of Bi-ngal and much 

less of BiMigali literature : in matters 
of composition, they took as their guide, not the ancient 
writers id" Bengal, who were by this time Inpelessl}- 

entombed in a mass of old inaccess- 

(1) The nhattuchnr. \i\^ niauuscripts. but the .rrcat 
yas; their langnaj;o "^ 

(nr<}fl^t^). Bhattacharyas or To/ pundits who, on 

account of their classical accomplish- 
ments, were thought lit to write in the vernacular ton<Tue, 


But these learned pundits, who traded u\)Ou the general 
iii^norance of the people and treated the vernacular with 
contempt, knew nothing of our past literature, but 
with a confidence born of untraining and in their 

eagerness to display their classical 
Their classical learn- learning, they affected a pedantic sans- 

inp and pedantry; ami critised style which was more than 

total Ignorance oi the -^ 

vernacular literature. what the language could bear. Their 

very erudition proved their greatest 
distpialifieation ; and their unwieldy style and its uncouth 
form, betraying all the absurd defects of an untrained 
hand, were wholly out of accord with the genius of the 
language. To handle these matters properly there is needed 
a poise so perfect that the least overweight in any direction 
tends to destrov the balance. The Duke of Wellington 
said of a certain peer that " it was a great pity his edu- 
cation had been so far too much for his abilities." - In like 
manner, one often sees the erudition of these pundits prove 
too much for their abilities. In justice to these learned 
pundits, however, it must be said that some of them 
honestly believed in the efficacy of the sanscritised style, 
which was supposed to add dignitj to the flat and colourless 
vernacular and that if they did not write easily, they wrote 

correctly : only this partiality for 

Partiality for Sans- Sanscrit or use of Tf^^t^l (high style) 
crit and absurdly . , TTr 

sanscritised style. was often earned to the extreme. \\ e 

have seen how the learned author of 

PrabodJi-cJi(i7u1rika at the beginning of his work extols Sans- 

crit as the best of all languages'; but he prefers to write 

in Bengali inasmuch as it is the best of the vernaculars 

on account of the preponderance of Sanscrit in it ("SRJt^j 

' See extract quoted at p. 218, 


Cf^ )• '^''''••^ '>^''y 'j*^' tiil^t'ii fairly as tlie opiiuoii of the 
Bliattrvchuiyas «jjfnerally wlio now made it tla-ir province 
to patronise H(.'ni;-ali. In 15k. II, (•lia[). I of the same 
work a«;ain, Mrtynnjay, while discoursin*;- on the 
beautioB and defects of prose style, quotes and analyses 
the followin«i; sentencts as exhibitin«>; various rhetorical 
(jualities— " ^C^ ^^1^^^^^ fs^ 5tT' ff^ f^^t^ "^l^ I 

Specimen of the _^ 

kind of style they ( >2|>rt»f 53«t ) I ^C^t^"^ [?fiT:5t^^t^ 
favoured. _ =^ ^ 

( Tf^TQ^l ) I ( ^C^^Bfs^, f^ft^ ^^^, ^^5| f^ ) I 

These examples wouhl clearly indicate the kintl of 
style which was hit^hly favoured and the length to 
which this sanscritisation was carrit-d.' 

Hut lonix before tlu' Bhattaclulrvas affected this 
stiff, laboure<I and pedantic diction, another style of 
expression, chielly favoured by the court-going or commer- 
cial Ku^d.ff/iux, was already extensively prevalent and 

sometimes found its way into the 
(2) The Kaijosthaa ; more scrious compositions of the 

tlifir language CBJfft- .- t. i • i r i u- i> r 

cli^^W). time. It was a kind of halr-lieiigali 

and half- Persian diction which was 

' Of tbcso pundits, Mrtyufijay, tliougli lie uffected an artiiicially 
correct and learned diction, was fully alive to the sense of style and 
kne%v the value of appro})riate phraniug. In one place, he writes in 


the latij^uajTje of the court and tlie market-place and of 
which we have seen a subdued specimen in the style of 
Pralaj)a(Utj/n Charitra. Ever since the time of Mohamme- 
dan conquest, Persian words and 
Persian element ; expressions Of their modified Urdu 

its long history in p , j n /^ t ^i • 

Bengali literature. lorms ' were gradually nnding their 

way into the Bengali vocabulary, 
and the necessity of their being used, more or less, in 
everyday conversation, no doubt facilitated the process. 
By the time the Chandl of Kabikafikan was composed 
Persian was already extensively used even in the verse- 
compositions of the period. The 

Chandl of Kabi- following quotation, in which in nine 
kankan. ^ ^ 

versos more than eighteen l^ersian 

words will be found, will show in how short a time 

Bengali put on a novel aspect through its admixture with 


his quaint way : ^\US ^t^C^ C^ tC^ C^ ^f^^K5^ 3t^t^ Tt^l -ij^ ®1^1 

^f^ mi'^w.'^ tiim Wi(] ^t!i ^c^. "^Ss ^ti5^l^'^ ^ ^ff ^Iw."^ sizm ^^ 
o\Hi'^ 'ifsca^c^^ fkwz^ f^^)r» ■^r^ "5(t3 ^^l 'F?H;5 ^t^J? Ji^=i- 

"^[^ I ^1,A^ ^tC-^C» ^iI3 C^tKQ C^t^ ^^\':H Sc'I'Sf^?! J1C7 C^ sfl 

' A pretty good but by no means exhaustive list of Arabic and 
Persian words used in Bengali will be found in Snhitya Pari§at 
Patrika, vol. viii, uUo vol. xii. 


•Sff^ iTt5?t^ ^t?:^ '^^rt^ ^tC*f?f ¥C^ 

*rt^ 5r«T ^^ f^^ ^f^ II 
«}t^ c^ftT' c^? ^tf^ c^':^ I 
c^ f%| 5^tf^ *tr^:5t^«i II 

5^3 %l C^^1 f^ ^t^^ II 

»tt<i( 5^ f^ ^^f^ " * 

. KaUi^ahkan Chnn'n. cd. by "I^ Kunmr S.rknr in Pr5cM« 
JTab.samyraha. pt. ii. p. 5. RH.htly different roadin.. n.o cr-von .n 
BaiifTftbasT edition, pp. 6-7. 

28-^ BEN'^J\LI L1TI"]IIATU11E 

This lenii^thy extract is quotcl not, oaly to sliow the pre- 
ponderance of Persian words and forms but it will also 
be noticed from the descriptions contained here that 
Benij^al, then divided into Tilhiks, was governed by 
officers like J'i ir, Kotul, Sarkar, Di/n'dar, Jdniadar, etc. ; 
that Hindu cities or villages have already taken Moham- 
medan names ; that people are 
Moliammedan Bengal. 

jxettinoj kheiaffi as a si<2fn of roval 

favour ; tliat men like Srimanta or Gambhira had been 
adorned with Mohammedan titles of distinction ; and 
that, on the whole, Mohammedan ideas and customs 
had penetrated into the very fabric of native society. 
It is not suri)rising tiierefore that in the age of Rajil 

Krsnachandra, Biiarat-chandra Kay, 

Bharat-chandra. , •' ' ' le c ^ ^^. " 

himselt a man ot sound culture 
possessing considerable knowledge of Sanscrit, could not 
escape the fascination of a mixed language and the influence 
of Persian ideas. ' We find him saying, therefore, while 
describing a conversation between Emperor Jahilngir and 
Hnja Manasiuiha — 

WS<S\^ ^k ^t^ ^^tt f^tt^ II 

It is not unusual therefore that writing in 1778, 

Ilalhed in the Preface to his G tviunf/ a r sa,y>i : "At present 

those persons are thouLrht to speak this compound idiom 

(Bengali) wilh the greatest elegance 
Halhcd's remarks. t i- i 

who mix Willi I'urc Indian verbs 

' It is well-known, for instance, that nuicli of the famous discrip- 
tion of liis horoine's beauty is derived from Peraian sources. 


the greatest number of Persian and Arabic nouns." 
It is in the eourt-lantjuaj^e, liowever, which still favours 
a preponderance of effete I'ertsian forms, that tlie lar*ijest 
percentage of Persian words are to be fountl ; and the 
followinL;; extract of a petition, jj^iven in an appendix to 

Ilalhed's Graitm/ur, will bhow how 

Specimen of tlie ^],g persianisa ion was carried even 
coart-laugiingo. ' 

to a far jjieater lenuth than was ever 

done by the authors of I'raiajiadiii/a C/inrifra or Tot a 

Iti/ias — 

It will be noticed, however, that about this time a 
reaction was settincr in in favour of the use of Bencjali, 
and the len<jthy prefaces to Forster's Vocnhulan/ as well 
as to Ilalhed's (irawninr, which detail at some lenf^th 
the arguments in favour of the study of Bengali, bear 
witness to this reversion of popular feeling. Bengali, 
at this time, officially as well as popularly, was an unrecog- 
nised vernacular, and both llalhed and Forster rightly 
insist uj)on the absurdity and inconvenience of continuing 

the use of Persian in courts of law. 

Diacoiitinnance of Colebrookc' pays a liigh eulogy 

Persian in l.iw-iourts. .1 n i 1' i' . r i ■ 

to llalhed and rorster for having 

' A»iatic Refeiirchcf, vol. vii, \'W, \>. U2-4. 


brought the scientific study of Bengali within easy reach, 
but to them also as well as to other later writers, 
both native and foreign, belongs the credit of making 
Bengali not only the oliieial language of the Presidency 
but also the basis of one of the most prolific literary 
languages of India. 

"While the tol pundits and the court-scribes were 
attempting to bring Bengali under the lead of Sanscrit 

and Persian respectively, the language 
(3) The common jjj jj^g country-i)laces, among "low 

people ; thoir language. •' ' 

(sf^TS ^1 'siis ^t^). men" and the people generally, was 

the unforbidden, if untaught, Bengali, 

which we find in the old writers and of which we 

find a distant echo in the outbursts of purely native 

inspiration like those of the Kahiivalas, 

Kabiwalas and ifufra&ars, Katliakaft, and Pamcha/i- 

others. ' . • i 

kars. A little sanscntised on the 
one hand and a little persianised on the other, the 
language preserved the equipoise perfectly and drew its 
nerve and vigour from the soil itsulf. It was so direct 
in its simplicity, so dignified in its colloquial ease, and 
so artful in its want of art that it never failed to appeal. 
Not a single latter-day writer, as the foremost among 
them himself acknowledges, has been able to speak in 
the same tongue. ^V^hile speaking of this language 
of the people in its contrast to modern mixed literary 
diction, Bankim Ciiandra lamented' " '^fsr^^ fff?7^ 

iBvar Gupta. f^^ ^ ^f% <^^^ ^t^itCW^ ^^ I '^'tlS 

* ^^ ^ttt? ■'Pf^^ '^•■5fC5^ ^1^^ I (IS95) Preface to the Kahita 
Samgrnho of Isvnr Chandra Gujita. Ed, by liankim Chandra Chatterjeo 
and Gopfil Chandra Mukerjce in 2 pts. 


Isvar (rupta* wlioso tone and temper allied him 
with the Kabiwalas, was indeed the last of that blessed 
race over whom the contusion of liabil had not yet 

It must not be supposed here that we are advocatin;]^ 

l)urism in the matter of language or lamenting over the 

prevalence of Sanscrit, Persian or other influence. "Purism" 

to quote the words of a learned writer in the Calcutta Rfiien'- 

"is radically unsound and has its origin in a spirit of 

narrowness. In the free commingling of nations, there 

must be borrowing and giving. Can anything be more 

absurd than to think of keeping language pure when 

blood itself cannot be kept pure? No human language 

has ever been perfectly pure, any more than any human 

race has been pure. Infusion of foreign elements do, in 

the long run, enrich languages, just as infusion of 

foreign blood improves races." But in the beginning 

of the last centurv, the conflict of foreign elements under 

which Bengali pro!?e eame for a time proved a source of 

confusion to many a writer of the period. Lexicographers 

and grammarians like Ilalhed, Eorster and Carey are 

eternally complaining, in their bewilderment, of the 

confusing variety and the exceedingly corrupt state of 

the vernacular due to its subjection to various foreign 

influence,* for the many jiolitical revolutions the 

country had sustained and its long 

(4) The Earopeaii communication with men of difFe- 

rent religions, countries and manners 

' But hore of cotirso wc are speaking of Tsvar Gupta's poetry 
and not his prose which perhaps exhibits the modern tendencies 
better than any other prose of the period. 

» SySina Charan Gaft^uli, Calcutta Revicic, 1878. 
• Bee Halhed's and Forstcr's remarks qncted at pp. 86-7 and 
92 ante respectively. 


hail impaired the simj^licity of the vernacular and ren- 
dered it somewhat difficult for a foreigner. Not only 

did the pundits incorporate stiff 

Thoir confusion at ^^j i.nfuniiliar Sanscrit words and 
the diversity ot the 
forms of the language. ■ constructions and the Mohammedans 

various terms relatinij ehieflv to 
business, law and <^overnment, the European nations too 
who settled here, never failed to influence the lan<ruaf]fe 
and naturalise into it words of Euroi)ean orii:^in. Of 
these, the Portuguese, before the British, have left behind 

them the largest traces in the country 

The Portuguese ele- j,g ^^gji .^g [^^ the language. The 
raent in Bengali. ° 7 

Portuguese extended their trade 

to Bengal a little before 1530 and after temporarily 
settling at Betarl ( C^'s^ ) near feibpur, and then at 
Saptagram (Satgaon) they finally colonised at "Golin" 
(near Bandel) at about 15'37 or 1538.* In a short time, 
they became a formidable political power, and their 
wealth, daring roguery, and naval and military activity 
made them dreaded all over the country. About the end 
of the 16th century' they settled at Barauagar near 
Calcutta and soon entered the Sunderbuns, gradually 
spreading over Eastern Bengal, where as ])iratus, adven- 
turer's, and extensive dealers in slave-trade, they soon 
obtained a dreaded reputation.* Their head-(iuarter in 
East Bengal was Chitt-agong, which, being more access- 
ible by the sea, was called the Porto Grardo ; while 

1 Stewart, History of Bengal, quoting (^]cl. 1847, p. 1531) Faria 
Y Souza. Golin has been supposed to be the same as Ugclyn, a 
Portuguese form of Hugli. 

' There ia an allusion to their piracy and their use of ^irtTf 
(Armada or War-ship) in the Chrnnll of Kabikafikan — 

r^?t1%^ cTf»iit^ ^r^ ^<«ftn 
^tfurj ^tf^^1 ^H ^t?t^f ^m I 


Iliii^li, tlu'ir ct-'Olral colony in West BL-iiyal, was luiined 
Porto Pcqiieno. P()ituy;nese lanfjua^jfe came naturally with 
the P()rtu»^nese power and for about two centuries ami a half 
even survived its extinction. " It was/' to cjuote Marsh- 
nian,' "the Linj^ua Franca of all foreign settlements 
around the Bay of Bengal and was the ordinary medium 
of conversation between the European and their domes- 
ti'i's " even down to so late a period as 18"2S. It is easy 
to see that such ne'er-do-well adventurers as Portuguese 
pirates could hardly ever be expeeted to exert any properly 
literary intluence, and their only point of contact with 
Bengali was through the medium of language.^ They 
supplied its vocabulary with appellation of European arts 
and invention, names of many fruits, herbs, and trees 
(^t»Tt?r^, etc.) which they had brought over from South 
America or elsewhere, certain terms of gambling ^Primero 
C^2fW^1, etc.) and even common everyday expressions like 
C^^WT^I, W\^P\], fel, f^'^l, C^t^t% "sjt^siTf^, ^t^fl^, 
^«\f5, ^f'Tl, C^^, ^f^, ^^^f1, etc. The common form 
of the oath " ^It^f^ " is even supposed to be a corrupt 
form of tlie nam.' of the ^'irgin. It will be sten, 
however, that this Portuguese influence on Bengali was, 
on the whole, comparatively slight, and it never succeeded 
in changing the current mode of expression nor went 
beyond introducir.g certain fresh terms info its 

' History of Semmptre Mi*i<ion, y6\. i, ])p. 21-22. 

* For an accnunt of I'ortii^iK'ao influence nml I'ortnguese element 
ill HiMifjali, see Sahitya Pntiaat Pntnka, vol. xvii'i, p. 45 et acq. 
where a pood list of Porfnpnose words naturalised in Benpali will also 
be fonnd. See also Hi'buon-Jobiion ed. Yule and Rnrnell. J. A. 
Campos in his recent History of thr Portuguese in Bengal (11)19) has 
also piven a list of Portiipnese words in Bengali. 

' The firft Benpali Hrnrnmar and dictionary wn<> in Portnpuese. 
See p. 75, nr.te. 


Bat the British inlluenco on Bengali, owing to its 

permanent and all-embracing charae- 

The lan(ruage of the . , i p i • 

ter, was more deep and rar-reaehins:. 
Liiroppan writers '■ ' 

,j^j^^ ^, «f|f^ III matterrf of language, however, the 
■^iwmi). British writers at the outset, we have 

seen, found themselves in an embar- 
rassed position. They did not know in the midst of per- 
plexing diversity what models to choose or what form of 
the language to adopt. They however took primarily as 
their guide the compositions of their own munsis or 
pundits, which leaned towards pedantry and sanscritisa- 
tion ; but fortnnately their strong commonsense, their 
literary instinct, and an innate tendencv to realism,^ 
which is a distinctive feature of all English writers, saved 
them from the contagion of affectation and made them 
adopt a more simple and natural style. Their language is 

a cnrious admixture of the sanscritised 
Its sources. ^^^^^^ ^^ ^j^^ pundits (^^^^i) and the 

colloquial language of the people (^f^^t^l) with some pecu- 
larities of its own and a more or less decided leaning towards 
the latter. The missionaries and the schoolmasters, to whose 
rank and file belong most of the early European writers in 
Bengali, lived in the closest touch with the people, and their 
chief end in writing was not to show off- their erudition but 
to make themselves intelligible, to be popular, clear and 

useful. There are, it is true, errors and 
Its errors in vocabul- excesscs in tlioir writing as vexatious 

arv, syntax and idiom; „ , _ ,. ^ aI. 

but general excellence as the stiffness of the Puudits, and the 

ia its healthy direc- missionary Beno^ali has always been 

tioii towards simpli- . .' . 

city and naturalness. the sport of criticism. Ylut, inspite of 

these and other aberrations, the gene- 
ral excellence of their style in one direction at least can 

' See the remarks on Carey's Dialogues at p. 146. 


never be disputed, namely, that its simplicity, precision, and 
directness presents a strikin<jj contrast to the sescpiipedalian 
affectation of the Sanscrit pundits or the mixed jargon of 
the Persianised munsis. Carey and his co-adjutors brought 
to their task, that of translation and tract-writing, a com- 
bination of education and object. They were men all 
trained in the severe science of theological study : and they 
always strove to be exact and intelligible to the jieople. 
„, , . . , , Their training compelled them to be 

1 he training and ob- . 

jcct of those European precise and their object compelled them 

to be forcible. No better exercisinsr 
ground for an infant prose, in at least some ways, could have 
been provided than the combined one of translation and 
polemic. The utilitarian end of these European writers, 
their realistic tendency, their position, influence and 
attainment directed the whole movement towards simplicity 
and naturalness, and it is well worthy of note that even 
some of the learned pundits of the P'ort AVilliam College, 
through their example, did not despise to adopt occasion- 
ally the popular ^ifl/y?'* of the country.' 

Thus it will be seen that, at the beginning of the 19th 
century there were, roughly speak- 

Tho subseqnent his- ■ £Q^^^. different ways or modes of 
toi-y of these foar" *=" •' 

divergent styles expression, struggling to gain ground 

and competing for mastery, namely 
*tf3"it ^^, "srt^^ '»t^, ^f^ ^t^ and >rfc^ft ^W^n. Of 
these, the «lM^ '«W (court-language) in course of time, 
with the general disuse and discontinuance of Persian 
in law-courts, became almost extinct, and by 1836 we find 
but little trace of it, except in a few legal technical 

> See, for example, the story of f'^'t'^^'iP in Mrtyufljay'a 
Prabodh-chaiKJrika, f^^ g^, «»Pl ^^. part of which is quoted 
ante at pp. 221.222. 



publications. The spoken idiom (^T "ct^O favoured chiefly 
by the old school of writers like the Kabiwalas and used in 
country-places, never came into any direct prominence. 

The onlv two forms of style which 

between the plain and other in the prose publications of the 
the ornate styles. . , • i i 

time and eontmued to play an im- 
portant part in the literary history down to the fifties, 
were the learned style (^ffQ'ft «t^), on the one hand, and 
the missionary style (^Tll^ff ^t^rt^Tl), on the 
other. The exclusive class of learned pundits 
still kept on in the traditional stiffness of their elaborate 
diction, while a host of new writers, who came into the 
field with the spread of English education^ generally 
adopted the language of the missionaries in 
a purer and more modified form. The perpetually 
recurring struggle between the ornate and the plain 
styles - which pla3's an important part in the history 
of prose style in- almost every literature, was for the firit 
time definitely posed and worked out in Bengali prose in 
this period — the ornate style being favoured by the pundits 
and the plain style chiefly adopted by the missionary writers. 

The style of the pundits found a 

This opposition be- i ^ • xi c / 

comes more wcll-de- tlirect clescenciant in the oanscnf. 

818 of the Alali ana .. 

the Sanscrit College the Aluli -ifvle, which betokened 

styles of the fifties. 

a contemporary reactionaiy move- 
ment, found its progenitor, through various intermedi- 
aries, primarily in the healthy movement towards simpli- 
city and naturalness, first inaugurated by the Europeans, 

' Of whom the most prominent name is that of Rev. Kr.jnamohan 

« See pp. 147, 219-20. 


althoui^h socoudarily it incori)orated various elements from 
the laufjuage of the common people (^fir© '«t^) and oven 
from the persianised court-lang'uage ('^rt^tsT^t ^^). Thus 
we see that this opposition between the plain and the 
ornate styles persistently dominated the history of Ben- 
gali prose for almost half a century and reached to a 
crisis in the two antithetical movements of the fif- 
ties — indicated by the Alall sfi/le and the Sanserif College 
Synthesis in Baiikim- -f////^ — of which the f^enins of 
*'''""'^"'- a writer like Baukimchandra alone 

could find a proper synthesis. 

It will be seen therefore that from the standpoint of 

literary history, the importance of this period in prose 

is hardly less than that of any other. 
Formal importance -n l -l ^ l- i i ^i i xi 

of this period; but -t>nt its productions, marked that they 

its fiu- less intrinsic are bv earliness and immaturity, 
merit. " 

have far less intrinsic merit. 

No historian of literature can claim anvthins: like literarv 

competency for much of this early prose, if he judji^os it 

by any strict literary standard. Originality is not a 

distinctive merit of this literature at all. Grammars, 

school-books, religious tracts, and 
Want of originality. 

other similar documents, most or them 

again mere translated pieces, cannot, in their very nature, 
justly claim to be called literature. In their translations 
again these writers are faithful enough : there is hardly 
any native aspiration to be free and original. Here and 
there, no doubt, they improved upon the capital that 
came into their hands but thoy seldom created 
or broke loose from their original. The style, again, is of 
the rudest character, abrupt, disconnected, obscure, and full 
of anacolutha, not only in the works of the missionaries 
whose command over the inherent resources of the lan- 
guage must have necessarily been limited and whose repute 


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Chemistry and Medicine — everywhere we trace the inde- 
fatigable activity of the European writers. It is true that 
most of these works were meant merely to be text-books 
but they are equally significant of the zeal of their authors 
as writers and teachers and of the encouragement which was 
afforded to the cause of learning. The multiplication of 

Grammar and Dictionary, no doubt, 

Grammar and Die- points to a zealous movement towards 

the scientific study of the language, 
but it must be admitted that in the lexicons compiled by 
European writers, undue prepcndeiance is given to Sanscrit 
words and the proportion of purely native Bengali words 
is comparatively small : while the Grammars, on the other- 
hand, are written mostly on the pattern of English 
Grammars and coniequently fail to set in relief the peculiar 
features of the oriental vernacular. Little need be said of 

the works on History and Biography, 
History, Biography Ethics and Moral Tales, for almost 

Ethics and Moral 

Tales. all these writings consist of mere 

translation : but a peculiar interest 
attaches, as we have seen, to the Bengali scientific writings 
of this period for their useful glossaries of technical and 

difficult terms as well as for their 
Scientific writings, manner and method of rendering 

scientific ideas into Bengali. But, 
besides these contributions to the department of useful 
knowledge, there came about, under theEuro])ean influence, 
a vogue for realism and social satire. The popular opinion 

has always leant to the supposition that 

Realism and social • ,i • i Ji-j ^ rr i ^i 

gatire^ in this sphere AUii and Untam are the 

pioneer works, but even long before 

these works were published, from the time of Carey's 

Dialogues downwards, numerous works (such as Bhabilni- 

eharan's KaUkata Kamalala)/a or Pramathanuth Sarma's 


Naha Babu Biliisa) were published which served as models 

for Afal and Hntain and which had indeed reached a 

hi^h degree of success and popularity. Another important 

Hold into which these Europeans directed the energy of 

Bengali writers is that of journalism. 

Thanks to the coui-age and zeal of its 
promoters, the dillicult social and pi)litical conditions under 
which it was started never retarded its growth, and its long 
and interesting history bears witness to the enormous 
popularity and usefulness of this organ of popular opinion. 


Interregnum in Poetry from 1760. 

The elosinsi: years of the 18th century and the begin- 
ning of the 19th form a period of transition from old 
Bengali to modern Bengali literature; and in this period, 
as in every period of transition, while access was obtained 
to new ideas and new methods, the old traditions in lite- 
rature still lived on. In the light of the Europeanised 
literature of to-day, prominence must be and has been 
given to European activity in Bengali Literature 
of this period, yet from the death of Uharat-chandra in 
1760 to the death of Isvar Gupta in 1858, llourished a 
class of Bengali writers, chieHy poets, who were un-inlluen- 

ced by English ideas and who main- 

A body of indige- tained, even with declining powers, 
nous literature o i * 

the literary traditions of the past. 
Literary history, as a rule, is studded with such ' survivals ' 
or * relics,' if we may use these terms ; but it is hardly 
correct to regard these outbursts of purely native inspira- 
tion as mere empty echoes of the past or flickering reac- 
tionary movements which the historian of literature may 
safely ignore. The tendencies of European or Euro- 
peanised writers may, in a sense, be described as exotic ; 
but these inheritors of the Hterary traditions and instincts 

of the ancient race, on the other hand, 
representing, ia con. were essentially national in sentiment 

trast to the writings , ' 

of the Europeans, a and expression, and as such, repre- 

distinct phase of lite- , l e ii i.- c 

rary development. sent, apart from all question of 

intrinsic excellence, a phase of lite- 
rary development which we cannot very well pass over. 


The literature of the first half ol' tiie IJth contury is 
dominated in the main by two distinct tendencies ; the 
one is fostered by European writers or by men tutored 
in European ideas and marked i^onerally by the spirit of 
an intellectual aristocracy, while the other derives its 
strength from the essence of native genius, untouched by 
foreign ideas, and expresses itself chiefly in various forms 
of popular literature. The one, dressed in the new apparel 
of prose, goes forth to capture the gifts of the new know- 
ledge, but the other, conveyed in the traditionary vehicle 
of verse, remains content with the spiritual inheritance 
of the past, diminished though it is with the lapse of 
time. The antagonism between these two tendencies, 
though it may not be very marked in later periods,' 

lasts throughout the literary history 
Antafironism between ^f ^jjg jyt-j^ eenturv : and in the 

two opposing tcnden- •' 

cies in the lOtli literature of to-day, although the 
century Uteratnre. . • i /« i i 

truimpli or the new tendency is 

said to be fully proclaimed yet it remains to be considered 

how far this trium})h has been or may be aciiieved without 

makiuiT legitimate concessions to the demands of the 

opposing tendency. Till the death of Lsvar Gupta, in 

whom we find indeed the last, if not the least, valiant 

champion of the old race, the antagonism is definitely 

posed and consistently worked out. ^^'i^h the death of 

lsvar Gupta, we are at the end of the most effective note 

in the ancient trend of thought and feeling ; and followers 

of the old tendency thereafter, in struggling to maintain 

their own against the stronger drift of new ideas, were 

obviously fighting for a lost cause. 

Decay of the old 1?^^^ siuce that time the cause may 

style; but its unmis- 
takable influence in indeetl be regarded as lost, and any 

later literature. . . . , i ^ • ^i i j 

attempt to-day to revive the old 

style would be possibly as futile and ridiculous as the 


attempt of Don Quixote to revive the expiring days of 
chivalry. But, even thouj^h the cause was lost^ its lessons 
were not lost ; the principles for which it had fought survived 
and found gradual acceptance. However imperceptible 
the process had been, it succeeded in tempering the un- 
licensed Europeanisation of later literature : it afforded a 
healthy antidote against the unchecked alienation of 
literature from national sensibilities ; it represented a 
strong counter-current of purely native energy, which, 
if it never forced itself directly to the surface, never at 
the same time failed to make its subtle and wholesome 
influence felt. It is a mistake to suppose that the old 
tendency absolutely died out with the death of Isvar 
Gupta. It never died out but it left its enduring vitality 
in the current of national thought and feeling, unmistak- 
able influence of which may be traced even in the literature 
of to-day. The spirit of an age or race, yielding to that 
of its successor, continues to abide in it as anessential 
ingredient, assumed, transformed and carried forward. 

In an historical survey of the 19th century literature, 
therefore, we cannot mistake the significance of this ten- 
dency of literature, which derived its inspiration primarily 
from conditions of national culture which were not access- 
ible to European or Europeanised writers of the first half 
of that century. AVe must indeed give the more prom- 
nent place to European writers and those who trod 
in their footsteps, because it is chiefly through their efforts, 
aided no doubt by the hand of the foreign government, 
that the dominance of western ideas iiltimately 
strengthened itself and gave the final bent to the form 
and spirit of modern literature; yet the account of the 
period would surely be incomplete if we do not take into 
consideration this stream of purely indigenous acti\nty 
flowing in the opposite direction and the extent of 


its inlluence in moulding the literary characteristics 
of the age. 

The historical importauce, therefore, of this inferior 
but not insignificant band of writers 

The historical im- belonging to tlic old school lies, 
portaace of those in- . ' 

dijjenous writers. mainly as we have seen, in the fact 

that whatever may be the intrinsic 

value of their writings they examplify and hand down in 

their own way the failing inspiration of earlier days and 

thus maintain the continuitv of liteVarv history durin«r 

the period of interregnum between the death of Hhiirat 

Chandra and the emergence of the new sehool. Althouirh 

some of them lived far into the first half of the lUth 

century they do not reflect the growing literary tendencies 

of the new era but they keep up the old manner of 

thought, the oKl fashion of imagination, and the old form 

of expression and thus secure the inheritance of ancient 

literature for the . advantage of the new generation. 

Standing as they do, on the the gateway of modern 

literature they give little or no jiresentiment of things 

to come, they do not announce the future ; but they 

represent the past and stoutly, if unconsciously, make 

their stand for a fast disappearing form of art and 

expression which drew its inspiration from the past life 

of the nation itself and which was not without its 

signiticance to the new life the nation was entering 


There was a time, however, when the value of these 
writings was totally forgotten or ignored. They appeared 

contemptible in the eyes of the so- 

Valae of this Htera- ^^\i^^ Young Bengal of the last 
tare not to be iguorcd " " 

or forgotten. century who harl been tutored rigidly 

in western ideas and western literature 
to the exclusion of everything national. Even to-day 


it is doubtful if we have entirely outsrrown this stage of 
defective mental susceptibility, although critics are not 
wanting who would go to the other extreme of fanatical 
admiration. Isvar Gupta, in the early fifties, spoke in 
exuberantly enthusiastic language of the untutored songs 
of the old Kabis ; yet if we are to take Baiikim-ohandra 
as the representative of the next generation, we find his 
age regarding these compositions with frank disapproval, 
if not always with superior contempt. In recent years, 
when we are not altogether obtuse and irresponsive, we 
have taught ourselves to speak in sober tone and measured 
lano'uajre. In literary history, there are no doubt extreme 
vicissitudes of taste whereby the idols of the past genera- 
tion crumble suddenly to dust, while new favourites are 
raised to the old pedestal of glory ; yet in spite of such 
successive waves of aesthetical preference, we must guard 
against falling into the error of orthodox dogmatism, on 
the one hand, and tlie ignorant following of fashion, on 
the other. Leaving aside personal predilections and the 
narrowness of sects and coteries we liud critics even to- 
day who would see nothing in these forms of literature 
which is well worth a moment's thought. INIuch of this 
literature, as in the case of some of the songs of the 
Kabiwalas, is no doubt transient and e]>hemeral and there 
is certainly much in it which is really contemptible; yet 
the frivolity of an imitative culture or the wild pursuit of 
ever-shifting litemry fashion ought not to blind us to the 
historical and literary value, whatever it might be, of the 
art and literature of a generation which has passed away. 
It is idle to regard any particular form of art or mode 
of utterance as final or absolutely authoritative. Critical 
taste should be more open-minded and unprejudiced and 
the study cf literature should be placed upon sounder 
historical and scientific methods. 


We propose In the following pages to take these 
writers in the old style iu the groups mentioned below. 

It would not be necessary for us to 
Grouping of iliis fipj,] ^^.jti, tijjg j.]ass of writings in 

minute di'tail ; it would be enough 
for our purpose if we indicate broadly the phase of literary 
development which they represent and give a more or 
less general survey of their work and achievement. It 
may be noted here at the outset that in the ease of many 
of these groups, mateiials for study are extremely scanty 
and scattered, and most of the writings which belong to 
this section have not been yet critically studied or edited. 
In the case of PamcJiali and Yatra and devotional songs, 
for instance, no attempt has yet been made to collect 
either data and materials for tracing their systematic 
history or even to make a satisfactory collection of these 
t^oating and fast vanishing forms of literature. Under 
this condition of imperfect knowledge of the subject no 
apology is necessary for imperfect treatment and what is 
offered here must be taken as nothing more than a merely 
tentative and preliminary attenipt. 

(1) Kabiwalas. 

(2) Nidhu Babu an^l writers of TappZi. 

(3) Followers of Ram-prasud and writers of devo- 
tional songs. 

(4) Followers of liharat-ehandra. 

(5) Isolated followers of ancient authors : Jay- 
nilrliyan (Jiiosal, Raghunandan Gosvami and others. 

(6) Authors of Pami-fiaN and Yatra. 

(7) Miscellaneous songsters. 



The existence of Kabi-songs may be traced to the 
begiuuing of the 18th century or even beyond it to the 
17th, but the most flourishing- period of the Kabiwalas 
was between 1760 and I8o0. Rasu and Nrsiiiiha were 
born somewhere between 1734 and 1788 ; Haru Thakur 

in 1738; Nitai Bairagt in 174-7; so 
Chronology and that between 1760 and 1780, they 

classification or Kabi- _ 

literature. bad all reached the height of their 

reputation as songsters and made 
this form of literary amusement popular throughout the 
country. During the conlinuance of the dual government 
therefore between 1765 and 1775, and in the period of 
literary interregnum which followed upon the death of 
Bharat-chandra, they were the most considerable pretenders 
in the literary field ; and if the mantle of the old authors 
did not exact!}' suit their narrow shoulders, they attempt- 
ed in the main to echo the sentiment and ideas of old- 
world poetry. Most of these greater Kabiwalas lived 
into the period of British rule. Bilsu and Nrsimha died 
between 1805 and 1807 ; but Haru Thakur lived up to 
1812 and Nitai even bej'ond that to 1821. Rilm Basu, 
though in a sense considerably junior to these earlier poets, 
having been born in 1786, died early in 1828. After 
these greater Kabiwalas, came their followers, disciples 
and imitators who maintained the tradition of Kabi-poetry 
up to the fifties or beyond it. The Kabi-poetry therefore 
covers roughly the long stretch of a century from 1760 to 
1860, although after 1830 all the greater Kabiwalas one 
by one had passed away and Kabi-poetry had rapidly 


declined in the hands of their le.-ss ij^ifted followers. We 
shall have therefore to distin;j^iiish three different periods 
of Kabi-lit'rature— (I) Before 17G0. (i) Between 1700 
and 1880. (3) After 1830. 

The Kabi-j)oetry, however, has been subjected to an 
amount of harsh and even contemptuous criticism which 
it hardlv ever deserved. The Reforniin<2: Youns: Bengral 
of the fortit's considered all forms of popular amusements 
— Kadi, Yatra, or PavK'/iuli — to be contemptible. We shall 

see that there had gradually come into 
Unfavourable recep. Kabi-son<^s elements which were 

tion of these songs in ^ 

later times. really contemptible ; but what strikes 

one in the study of these popular 
forms of literature is that throughout the 19th century, 
with the exception of Isvar Gupta and a few isolated 
appreciators of things ancient, the so-called educated men 
of tiiat century hardly ever cared to make a sympathetic 
study, much less to realise their literary or historical 
importance. Even to-day they do not seem to have 
received their due amount of attention or appreciation, 
although none but the most opinionative or the most 
obtuse would seriously consider them to be wholly worthless 
or wholly contemptible. Inspite of the apparent uncertainty 
of critical determinations, the historical importance of 
these songs, apart from all question of artistic valuation, 
cannot surely be denied. The old Kabi-literature does not 
require an apologist to-day but it stands upon its own 
inherent claims to be treated in an historical survey 
of Bengali literature of this century. 

But the materials and means for a critical study 

of this literature are extremely 

Materials and means scant V ; and at the same time it is 

of study scanty. * i <« • 

doubtful whether even much of it 
can bear verv well a thorough critical examination. We 


at present find only scattered abroad a few fragments 
which may convey a knowledge of this literature but 
which are insufficient to familiarise us witii it so as to 
enable us either to appreciate its beauty, construct its 
history or determine its value. Informations about the 
lives of these Kabiwalas or with regard to the general 
history of Kabi-poetry are extremely scanty ; what re- 
mains consists of a few traditional stories, often useless 
and ill-authenticated. 

When we consider the peculiar conditions under which 
most of these songs were composed and the mode in which 

they were transmitted we can, to 

Why the literature go^e extent, understand why a very 
was not preserved. ' ; 

small and fragmentary part of this 

literature has come down to us. These Kabis were not 

properly speaking, leisured and accomplished men of 

letters, cultivating literature for its own sake, and their 

productions were not deliberate 

Peculiar method af Jiferarv Compositions meant for a 
composition and mode _ _ *' 

of transmission. critical audience. Their very name 

Damda Kabi (^^t^f^)' indicates 
perhaps the peculiar way in which they extemjjorised their 
sono's. standinsx like a rhapsodist before a motley assembly, 
althouffh it is difficult to say from what time exactly this 
appellation was first applied to them. The evil dajs of 
the latter half of the \8th century, we have seen, necessitat- 
ed the growth of a class of " poets '' whose calling had 

' It seems that this epithet is very old : but according to one 
version the epithet Damda Kubi was applied to distinguish Kali froTu 
Hap-akhdai, which was a hybrid species, formed out of Kabi and 
alchdai, and which was therefore a kind of bana-l-abi. (Preface to 
Manomohan Qltaball, written by Manomolian Baeu himself.) But see 
Janma-bhumi, vii, p. 58. 


now become an irropjular profession and a reijular means 
of livelihood, and of a lody of literature whieli was marked 
hy carelessness rather tlian l)v scrupulousness and whieli 
belonijcd to that clafs of writings conveniently termed 
ephemeral journalism. The »uthors had no hiu;her 
ambition than that of immediately pleasinu^ their patrons 
and ^aininf]f their cheap praise and pay. They never 
cared to reach that mark of excellence which would make 
jwsterity pause before it would willinfjjly let their produc- 
tions perish. These sounds, apjain, had fronerally circulatetl 
in the mouths of the people ; in course of time, while some 
were fori^ottcn, others »jjot curiously mixed u\) or passed 
throufjjh stranoje transformations until, as in their present 
extant form, they can hardly be called the genuine oriu^inal 
works of their creator, or with confidence be referred to 
this or that individual author. No critical appreciation or 
discrimination was expected and none was made. The 
literature was for<]jotten no sooner than a f^eneration had 
passe<l away. Even in 1854, Tsvar Gupta lamented that 
most of these songs had already vanished in his time or 
had l)een fast vanishing and his self-imposed task of 
colleetinu these old songs had been rendered difhcult 
by the fact that he had to depend entirely upon 
the uncertain and fleeting memory of old men who 
had beon, day by day, dropping away. Except 
Nidhu Hiil)U among the earlier group — and Nidhu Bfibu, 
though a patron of ak/idai, can hardly be classed as a 
Kabiwala — none of these jwu'ts or their followers 
ever cared to reduce their songs to writing. Printing 
was hardly known in those days and, if known, was 
too expensive and dilheult of access to these necnly 
poncsters ; yet men like Ilaru Thakur had rich 
patrons like Haja Naba Krsna to whom it had 
never occurred that these floating songs were worth 



pi'cservincj. Tlie chanjje of taste and fashion in the 

next genoration and the contempt with which all earlier 

writino^ had come to be re<:^arded conld hardly favour 

the idea of preserving or collecting this literature in 

any form. It is not surprising therefore that no attempt 

at a collection and preservation of 
Our chief source of ^.j^^^^. ^ ^^^^^ ^^^^^ ^^^j^ ^Uj -^^ 

iniormation. _ ^ 

1854, Isvar Guj^ta, whose poetic 
sympathies allied him with Kabiwalas and who him- 
self was no mean composer of Kabi-song, first collected 
and published some to these half forgotten songs in 
the pages of his Sambad -prohJiaka r . It is chiefly through 
his untiring zeal and devoted labours, ably seconded 
by the efforts of a few other later collectors, that we 
possess what remains of this Kabi-literature ; for although 
several inferior anthologies have been made since then, 
most of these, with or without acknowledgment, draw 
liberally from the rich fund which he had supplied 
half a century ago and little substantial addition has 
been made to our knowledge ever since. 

It is very difficult, in the absence of materials, to 

trace the origin of this peculiar form 

Origin aud growth j literature, hardly at all literarv, 
of Kabi-poetry. > j . ' 

which expressed itself in songs but 
which was chiefly meant for popular amusement. Most 
of the songs which have come down to us belong 
to a date posterior to the middle of the 18th century ; 
in tracing, therefore, the form and spirit of this verse, as it 
existed earlier than this date, we must be guided 
chiefly by conjecture derived from the study of the 
later fragments which have been preserved as well as 
by an examination of the general drift of the literature 
itself. It must be noted, however, that song-literal ure 
is not a novel thing in Bengali : for it had formed 


a part of the social ami religious lite of the people, 
and relii^ious I'estivitiis, enlivened by sin«>in<:j, were 
celebrated with a gaiety which had its mundane sici^. 
Even with the decline of Baisnabism, which had brought 
in its wake a glorious time of sweet singing, and with the 
revival of Silkta and other forms of literature in the 
18th century, the tradition of song-making had never 
been extinct. The Baisnabs, by their i)eri])atetic singing, 
had spread songs broadcast leavening, as they did, the 
popular mind ; and although times and circumstances had 
changed, the perennial love of song, which marks Bengali 
literature throughout its history, always survived. The 
l>olitical troubles of the 18th century and the social 
changes consequent thereupon naturally precluded any 
serene exercise of serious literature except perhaps in 
remote villages or in the comparatively secure and 
luxurious courts of noble patrons ; but the popular 
craving was satisfied, on the one hand, by f/atra-f, 
paifu'/ia/i, and other cognate forms of popular literature 
in which also there was always an exclusive preponderance 
of the song-element, and by the devotional songs like 
those of Rilm-praslld and his followers, on the other. 
It was about this time that the Kabiwalas had come 
into prominence. The time was not for thought : it 
wanteil song and amusement ; the Kabiwalas, who could 
give them, had soon become popular. 

But the days of royal or other forms of patronage 
had been fast vanishing. The poets 

The nudioncc for fv^Uep q,^ gyil days, had to dcjiend 
whom it was com- 
posed more and more upon the favour of 

the cajtricious and half-educated 

public who now became their chief patrons. The ruin 

of old /cmindars and j)rincely houses, begun in the 

latter days of the Mohammedan rule and completed 


in the earlier days of British supremacy, had broiij^ht into 
existence, as we have seen, a class of up-start landlords 
and speculators who stepped into their places but who 
could not be expected to i)03sess the same inherited tradi- 
tion of culture and relinement as marked the ancient aris- 
tocracy of the land. The commercial banians, seths, and 
merchants, on the other hand, in the new flourishing 
eitieSj now growing into importance, constituted them- 
selves a class of patrons who demanded literature, not of 
a fine stuff but that which could afford them momentary 
excitement of pleasure in the intervals of engrossing 
business. The new public had neither the leisure, the 
capacity nor the willingness to study or appieciate any re- 
production of the finer shades and graces of earlier poetry. 
This was the audience ^ for whom, in the main, the Kabi- 
walas sang their songs, and it is no wonder that the tone 

and temper of the literature they pro- 
reacted upon it and duced was debased through this un- 

contributcd to its dc- " 

basement. holy contact. "Ihis debasement was 

complete in the next generation when 
with the spread of western education and consequent re- 
volution in taste, these songs had been banished totally from 
' respectable ' society and descended to the lower classes 
who demanded a literature suited to their uneducated 

' The suggestion (Dincsli Cliandra Sen, Histonj, p. G97) tliat the low 
caste of tlie songsters show that tlie institution was essentially for 
the amusement of the illiterate rustics who fonnod its chief audience, 
is hardly borne out by facts. This form of entertainment obtained 
specially in urban centres like Chaudannagar, Chinsurah and Calcutta 
and most of the Kabiwalas were not rural rustics but men bred up 
in the cities. Ram Basu, Haru Thakur, Nitfii BainlgT and indeed the 
whole host of them lived in Calcutta or in the neighbouring cities. 
Kabi-poetry itself, if not completely urban, is however devoid of all 
stamps of rusticity. 


taste. Tlii-s was the beginning- of k/icud ( C^^^ ) and 
llap-ak/aUi ( J^t'l-^^^tt ) i" Kabi-llterature. In the 
earlier days Kabi-son«^s had been composed and sun^' in 
•^reat ceremonies and festivals and the subjects of these 
souti-s irenerallv referred to relii'ious themes; in the latter 
days, even in the days of Nitili Bairili^l, Isvar (jn[)ta tells 
us, " f^ftl ^C^^1 ^sntC^ ^^'n ^«?^ Wm\ C^^^ 'A\l^ ^^ 
i^^"; and an illustrative anecdote is related, with 
reference to Nitai, which runs thus : ' 'S\'ssc^ ^^^ Q\, 

■Jitf^^n ^JT^ ^5f^T^ ^5jf^ ^i^^K^, ^t^^ «^ '^^ ^^ ^f^c«- 

^t^t'f 5i^c«i ^^51 ^?il cwt^fc^t^^^t ^srr^c^ frt^t^jji f^<^^t^ 
^?(j ^f^ci '^t^: c^'^^ c^«tt, ^Tt?r^ ^f? ^t^T^f^f^^ ^ft^ 

(Trt^fa^CJi^ c^'^ «(f^^1 ^t^t^f^^f^ ^f^^ f^c^ "^r^^ 

Not only in taste, but also in theme, style and diction, 
Kabi-songfs dey;enerated. The later ij^rouj) of poems from 

this [)oint of view aftords an interost- 
Deseneration of later ing contrast to the works of the 

Kabi-noLtry i" theme, ,. . , ,., i n i 

style and diction. earlier period. \\ e shall liave occa- 

sion to speak of this matter in de- 
tail but it may be noted here at the outset that a wide 
divergence in method, manner and inspiration exists 
between the earlier and the later Sfroups of Kabi-poetry. 
The earlier Kabi-son2:s were not, as crenerally supposed, 
whollv unpremeilitated and wantinu; in all sense of artistic 
arrani^ement or unity of structure ; on the contrary, they 
were all composed as we shall see with due deference, as 

' Sainhad FraWMkar, Agrabfijan 1, 12G1, p. 6. 


in the ease of the sonnet, to delinite rules of lino-anange- 
ment, (jenenil stiueture and fhvnie-endino-. Li later 
times, witii the introduction of livel\' //aj)-a^'//(la' and 
khend, the more studied structure of earlier songs were 
replaced by a mode of utterance, off-hand but effective in 
its unexpectedness and vigorous vulgarity, defiant of 
all laws and lost to every sense of artistic composition. 
We hear of the existence of disputants or two opposing 
' parties ' who took up different aspects of a particular 
theme and replied to each other in songs, even from the 
very earliest time when this form of amusement had 
sprung into existence ; and it was probably these 
passados in the bout of poetical dialectics which iiad lent 
in the popular mind a piquancy and zest to these songs 
and had thus made them preferable perhaps to ijairas 
and ^va7«,c'/^a/t.s which did not include such 'wit-combats' 
in their scope. But in the earlier period, a consultation 
used to be held between the parties and the themes and 
'replies' were made ready before they were sung. It was 
Ram Basu, a later Kabiwala, who first introduced the 
innovation of extempore and free verbal fight between the 
parties.' From his time, these 'fiytings' of the Kabi- 
walas had become, in the proper sense, unpremeditated ; 
and as such, they had come to possess all the qualities and 
defects of unpremeditated compositions. The u»oxpcctcd 
turns of phrases, the clash of witticism, the pungent raci- 
ness of colloquial vulgarity were no doubt pleasing to the 
mob : but what is good rhetoric for the groundlings is 
bad for literature. AVe can never expect any literary 
finish or artistic grace in compositions which the necessity 
of quick and witty roply had brought into existence and 

' Pruchlii Kuli-t^diuijydha, cd. Gopiil Chandra Mnkhopadhyay, 
IJ.S. 1284, lutioductiou, p. ii. 


wliioli were meant to lie more racy aiul ell'ectivf than :iii\- 
thiiiijf else. Cnarseness, scurrility and, nn- 
re<leeme«.l by any sense of artistic oxpro.«si<)n, In'^an to 
increase in volume and ultimately Kabi-sonjj^s suLsideil 
into vulLjar and abusive verbiai^e. 

It is not surprisinir, therefore, to tind that to many a 
modern reader. Kabi-literature connotes little more tlinii 

^•I'vd and bad'taste ; but it must not 

Uetter quality of 1^. fori,rotton that in its inception, it 
earlier Knbi-poetry. ^ v^j n n, n 

drew its inspiration from a purer 
source. The sincere religiousness of the earlier Kabi- 
son«^s is unmistakable and inspite of lak'r importation and 

popularity of subjects like Biralui or 
Its religioas thomes. . 

Si/,nl-mmOa<l,^ religion still conti- 
nued to supj)Iy the essential injxredient. Althoufjh there 
are many thint^s which at once mark them off from the 
Baisiiab poets, the earlier Kabiwalas were in more than 
one sense, nearly allied to their u^reat j)redecessors. When 
Haisnabism and its romantic literature had subsided lower 
and lower into a kind of decrepitude in thr IStli century 
and a militant Sfikta literature of a more or less classical 
type had <j;rown up, the Kabiwalas, in however ijropini; 
fashion, tried to keep up the older tradition an«l san*]; 
i^enerally of Uadlili and Kr.siia. The classical form of art 
which had taken shape in the IStli century and culminated 
in thewritinp^s of Bharat Chandra was the result as well as 
the cause of the rapid decline of Bai.snabism and its 

' SakKisaAihiid was not secular in thcnio but in spirit. It inclndod 
snch things as Prahhut'i or Bhor-gun (Awakening of Rildhil or Kr?na in 
the morning or RadhiVs morning npjioamnro ns a khnvdita), Ooftha, 
(in which figure Yoaodil, the Ixiy Kp^jiin rtn<I his Ijoy -com pan ions), 
m'lthur (whore Knbjl and Brnd.i gonornlly come in), hesidos r,l,lhiiba- 
saikbud, Prabhat etc. 


literal mc in that period ; and the 18th century literature is 
marked throni^hout by an entire absence of the literary 
infhience of the lyric and romantic songs of Baisnab 
poets. The literary practice of the 18th century is a 
natural reaction and SJfoing back to conventional 
standards of verse-makin<,^, with a more or less decided 
leauiniOf towards the ornate and the erudite. Rhetoric 
rather than truth, fancy rather than imaoination, 
intellect rather than feeling- — this becomes the move 
mundane means of poetry, in which we miss the 
passionate idealism or the lyric mysticism of the Bai.snabs. 
The Kabiwalas, no doubt, were carried away more or less 
by this general literary drift of the period ; but it was the 
Kabiwalas alone who had kept up the tradition of Baisnab 
poetry in this age of a militant literary tendency. That 
Kabi-literature, in some wny or other, is connected 

with Baisnab literature and that the 

Alliance ^^■ith the Kabiwalas, were, if not the lineal 
Baisnab poets, 

descendant, at least distantly related 
to the great Baisnab poets, is shown to some extent by 
the fact that the best part of earlier Kabi-songs relates to 
the eternal Baisnab theme — the love of Rudha and Krgna 
with all its attendant intricacies of man, walJinr, hiralio, 
(joi^tha, and other things. The Kabiwalas, it is true, have 
not o-ot much of the accumulated virtue of Baisnab 
verse and phrase as well as its deep note of passion and ful- 
ness of romantic colour ; yet it is remarkable that they still 
make use of the imagery and the hackneyed generalities 
of Baisnab writings, and generally echo the sentiments 
and ideas which had become established in literary usage 
since the time of the Baisnab poets. It is not always safe 
to dogmatise, in the absence of evidence, on influences or 
on the question of literary filiation ; but these facts, 
amono" others, would tend to indicate the existence of an 


unmistakable' relatioiishi'i) between the Baisnab writers and 
the Kabiwalas. It is true that the Kabiwalas never 
possessed the genius and devotional fervour of the old 
Baisnab poets, that none of the Kabi-songs reaches that 
standard of literary excellence which has made Baisnab 
poetry so resplendent, and that the Kabiwalas, in course 
of time, admitted more mundane subjects and themes and 
allowed themselves infinite looseness of speech and style : 
yet when we come across lines like the following sung by 
Nitfii Baii-Iul 

*fTt^1?f t\^ TtC^ ^f% f^f^'C^ I 

^^ tr^ ^t^^ ^pt f^pt^ II 

Tu:^ c^^ ^5f ^sr^'ti ^^^, 
^ii\ ^ta1 5r^«i II 

we are at once reminded of many a line from the Baisnab 
poets, although it is quite probable that it is not a question 
of direct imitation or assimilation and that none of the 
Kabiwalas had any straight access to any of these older 
poets. The Kabiwalas were not a lettered class of studious 
poets : they probably never had any opportunity of direct- 
ly utilising the ancient wealth of the land ; yet whatever 
might have been the source through which the tendency 
had filtered down, they echo primarily in their songs the 
sentiment and taste of a bye-gone age, and through this 
inherited tendency and probably through indirect, if not 
direct, literary filiation, they trace their ultimate ancestry 
to the ancient Baisnab poets.' 

' The theory, pat forward by Dineshchandra Sen (History, p. 697) 
that Kabi-songs originally constituted p-irta of old yatras, the simple 
operatic episodes of which were separately worked np into this siiecial 
species, is hardly convincing ; for in the first place, there are no 
data to support this suggestion; secondly, the two kinds had essentially 
different characteristics ; and thirdly, the one ifl not due to the break-up of 



It is not our purpose here te enter into details but any 
student of ancient Bengali literature is well aware that 
Baisnab poetry cannot be very strictly described as simple 
and unsophisticated ; for although it can to-day be enjoyed 
as pure poetry or as the expression of fervent religious 
longiugf^ in the language of human passion, it can never 

be regarded as the spontaneous i)ro- 

The spirit of Baisnab i , p -i- i i • 

poetry and its psycho- uuct of an uncritical and ingenuous 

logical and metaphysi- fajth. This religious-amatorv poetry 

cal formalism. ^ . i. ^ 

presupposed a psychology and a 

metaphysic which had been reduced to an elaborate system 

and which possessed a peculiar phraseology and a set of 

conceits of its own. The romantic commonplaces of 

Baisnab poetiy, familiar to any reader not only through 

its poetry but also through elaborate rhetorical treatises like 

Vjjvala-Nllamani or elaborate semi-metaphysical works 

like Sat-sandarbha or Ilari-bhakti-rasaiiirta-siiidhu, are in a 

sense factitious, professional and sectarian, if not doctrinaire 

or didactic. Many of the famous Baisnab poets, no doubt, 

got out of their conventional material the kind of effect 

which appeals to us most strongly and there is the sheer 

force of poetic inspiration in many of them which lifts their 

poetry into the highest level of artistic utterance, yet all 

the floods of their Ivric and romantic idealism cannot 

altogether cover their psychological formalism, their 

rhetoric of ornament and conceits, their pedantry of 

metaphysical sentimentalism. The endless diversity of 

amorous condition grouped conveniently \m(\.ev mau,mat/ni.r, 

the other as both existed simultaneously throughout the course of their 
literary history. The other theory {^Janma-hhumi, vii., p. 58) that Kabi 
was originally a part of Pamchali is more or less open to similar objec- 
tions. The exact significance of the term Pamchali itself is uncertain ; 
what character it possessed in earlier times is not definitely 


hiraht, purburag, milan and the like, is froatt'd no doubt 
with emotional directness but they subside into ai^iveable 
formulas and dofjmatic shibboleths. Leavinj^ aside indi- 
vidual independence of trait so marked in ])oets like 
Bidyapati, Chandidfis or Jnunadas, when we come to the 
les^ion of lesser lij^hts we find that, although these minor 
poets share more or less in the general poetic spirit 
pervading the age, there is yet a monotonous sameness of 
characteristics, inevitably suggesting a sense of artificiality. 
In spite of its romantic charm and lyrie afiluenee, the 
tiiemes and subjects of this poetry lacked variety and 
exuberance of inventive thought. We meet over and over 
again with the same tricks of expression, the same strings 
of nouns and adjectives, the same set of situations, the same 
group of conceits and the same system of emotional 
analysis. In the greater poets, the sentiment is refined and 
the exj)ression sufficiently varied ; in the lesser poets, they 
degenerate into rigid artistic conventionalities. When the 
Kabiwalas came to inherit the spiritual estate of their 

poetical ancestors, Bai^nab poetry had 

imperfectly coinmn- |j^.p„ reduced almost to a mechanic 
nicated to Kabi-poetrv. 

art ; its conceptions had become 

stereotyped and its language conventional. But its faith, 

its religious enthusiasm, had by that time filtered down 

through all the crudities of its surroundings into a simple 

uucjue-Jtioned and habitual form of religiosity. Its spiritual 

essence alone survived ; its commonplaces and conceits, its 

pedantry and formalism had lost much of their force and 

had become effete conventionalities. .Vlthough Kal>i-poetry, 

in its theme and diction, is generally conventional and 

mechanically reproductive, yet it concerns itself chiefly 

with the essential significance of Baisnal) poetry, its 

devotional fervour, its emotional appeal and not directly 

with its metaphysical or psychological banalities. It is 


the habitual aiul unreflecting faith of the people, unaffected 

by any scholastic or sectarian pre- 

Kabi-poetry is not possessions, that supplied the chief 
cultured, factitious or * . . , . 

sectarian. ingredient of Kabi-poetry. In this 

sense, Kabi-literature is neither scho- 
bistie nor cultured, nor is it factitious and professional. 
None of the Kabiwalas was literate enough to enter into 
the intricacies of emotional or metaphysical subtlety nor 
had they any sectarian tradition behind to implant in them 
anything other than its simple spiritual significance which 
had percolated and spread down even to the masses. They 
had taken Baisnabism en masse and not in its details, in 
its essence and not in its accidents, though they tacitly 
accepted and mechanicall}^ repeated its conceits and its 
imagery, its time-honoured dogmas and doctrines. 

It would be unjust to institute a comparison between 
the Baisnab lyrics and the songs of the Kabiwalas ; but 
it must be noted that the latter in many cases debased 
and vulgarised, while they borrowed, the ideas and concep- 
tions of Baisnab poetry. One particular section of 
Baisnab poetr\', remarkable for its passion and its poetic 
quality, which is generally grouped under the heading of 
Prema-bnichifta (C^'^^f^s) is practically non-existent in 
Kabi-literature. Unable to enter into its subtlety, its 
romantic fervour and its mystic spiritualism, the Kabiwalas 
could not speak in the same rapturous accents nor with the 
same nobility of sentiment. It is true that both these 
species of literature were never intended original!}' to be 
literature at all ; they never consisted of deliberate literary 

creation bv self-conscious artists. 

„ SKe' u'e™,T "^'ig'""' entlmsiasm, on tl.e one 

creation of self-con- hand, and popular amusement, on the 
scions artists. 

other, supplied the motive of its 

making in each ease ; and in so far as each species adhered 


to this orisjinal motive, each assumed its distinctive charac- 
ter. The peculiar conditions under which it was produced 
moditied the form and tendency of the production of each 
kind. But while under the stress of a new-born religious 
fervour and its lyric and mystic idealism, the creations of 
Baisnab poets were lifted into tlie reii;ion of pure poetry, 
the more mundane object and secular interest of the 
Kabiwalas ilraijii^ed them down to a dead level of uninspired 
commoni)laee. It is indeed very doubtful whether a ^reat 
deal of Kabi-poetry can, with the utmost allowance, be 
reo:arded as strictly literary, so deeply hiu\ the peculiar 
condition of its makinj? affected the character of its produc- 
tion. Kabi-poetry must be primarily 

It was pninanly n rerrarded as a form of iionular am use- 
form of i»<)|iiiiar ^ ' 1 
nmnsemcnt. ment, affordiiio; no doubt an interest- 

iniif field of study to the student of 

social history but hardly to be considered by the historian 

of literature except in so far as it rises to the level of 


Althoupfh essentially a ]»oj>ular form of amusement, 

compose<l chiefly by jjopular jX)ets and transmitted through 

oral tradition, yet it must be noted that Kabi-sonu^s hardly 

bear any resemblance to what may be 

But it is not strictly strictlv Called folk-literature or poinilar 

folk-litorntiiro or popu- ' * * 

Inr pootry. poetry. It would l)e a mistake to 

compare them, for instance, to the 
medieval European imllads either in form or spirit. TheKabi- 
Hterature no doubt possesses the same dramatic or mimetic 
(pialities and choral i)eculiarities : but they lack the condi- 
tion of communal composition which is essential to balladry 
and the poetical content is not, as in balladry, narra- 
tive nor is it submitted to an epic process of transmission. 
It is not simple, anonymous and objective in the sense in 
which the ballads are but it bears all the marks of iadivi- 


dual authorship and all the conventionalities of a literary 
tradition ; it has never shown^ in its growth and develop- 
ment, any tendency towards the romance, the story or the 
chronicle so as to take it out of its original dramatic and 
choral structure. The songs of the illiterate Kabiwalas 
no doubt enter into a vital rapport with the people who 
compose the nation, the people who are far more puissant 
and important in national history than the so-called culti- 
vated minority. At the same time, if they constitute 
popular poetry at all, they represent only a very narrow 
type of that species : for the true function of popular 
poetry is the interpretation of the people to themselves and 
and the creation of a popular ideal, which function these 
songs disciiarge only partially ; while the forms and expres- 
sions of this literature are much less the property of the race 
than of the individual. These poets were no doubt born 
among the people*, lived with the people and understood per- 
fectly their ways of thinking and feeling ; hence their direct 
hold upon the masses of whom many a modern writer is 
contentedly ignorant. But these poems, meant for popu- 
lar entertainment and bearing a close contact with the 
people^ hardly ever speak of the people themselves and pos- 
sess little or no democratic sympathy or exaltation. They 

are thoroughly preoccup.ed with the 

It is the product of a conventional themes of earlier poets, 
conventional literary , i • 

tradition though thc'ir treatment may be a 

little popular, and they even express 

themselves in conventional diction and imagery. They 

' Kabi-poetry counted its votary amongst the lowest classes. Except 
Harn Thakiir, Hasn and Nrsiriiha, Rtim Basu and a few ot^'ers, the 
Kabiwalas belonged to the lowest social grades of a muchi (shoemaker), 
a woj/om (sweetmeat-vendor), achhittar {c!irpeutcr),B. feringi (half-bred 
Eurasian), svarnnkar (coldsmiih), a taiiiti (weaver), etc. In this catholi- 
city it resembles Bai§nabism itself. 


have got a literary tradition behind them tlie banalities of 
which they cannot always transcend and overstep into true 
democratic poetry. 

But this literary tradition they had modified in their 
own way, particularly through circumstances and conditions 

under which they composed and over 
representiug a phase ^y\^[ch they had no control and i)artly 

of decarlence of the *^ i >' 

earlier art. through an inherent lack of a thorough 

grasp upon the realities of old poetry. 
The themes which they handled had possessed, in the hands 
of older poets, ([ualities capable of evoking a great art ; 
but the less exalted treatment of the Kabiwalas could 
hardly work them up into new shapes of beauty with 
sutlicient power and subtlety. It was their misfortune to 
represent an essentially decadent art. Every literature, 
to speak in metaphorical language which must not be 
strained, passes through the necessary stages of birth, 
growth, decline and death. In these metrical exercises of 
the Kabiwalas we see not the adult manhood of old litera- 
ture but its senile decrepitude. The poetry is reminiscent 
rather than spontaneous : it is reproductive and imitative 
rather than, in the true sense, creative. It is true that 
most of the songs which the Kabiwalas extemporised were 
unsought and unpremeditated : yet in their homage to old- 
world conventions in style, theme, and literary treatment, 
they belonged to a decaying dynasty the prestige of which, 
in spite of their belated efforts, had been fast vanishing. 

Rut even in their imitativeness, they could not always 
reproduce the fine shades and graces of old poetry, its 

weight, its elevation and its profun- 
Its inability to repro- i • rm 

dnce the finer ghacJes dity. There are many things, no 
and^^Kraees of earlier j^,;,|^^^ -^ Baisimb;/./^/a/>a/7.v which arc 

not in any sense commendable but in 
their places and as a part of the whole they may pass 


oif without much incongruity. But ia the songs of 
the Kabiwalas these things, severed from their true 
relations and from their natural surroundings of beauty, 
assumed an incongruous independence and a distorted 
shape, incompatible with artistic or spiritual excel- 
lence, especially as it is often dressed in weak phraseology 

and loose versification. The Baisnab 
The spirit of ancient poetrv unfolds before our vision such 

poetry inadequately . 

represented. au extensive realm of beauty that its 

occasional deformities and blemishes 
are easily passed over, nor do they appear in their natural 
state artistically inconsistent. Apart from all questions 
of spiritual interpretation, the ideal of love depicted in 
Bai>nab poetry may have, from a layman's stand-point, 
departed in places from the strictness of propriety or deco- 
rum, but if after a study of the poetry in its entirety, a 
man does not rise wit^i au impression of its beauty and 
nobility, then the conclusion is obvious that either he has 
not read it properly or that he is impervious to all sense of 
its excellence. In the infinite varieties of amorous situa- 
tion, the description of Radha as a kJiandita heroine or of 
Krsna as an aroh-deceivev may have, leaving aside other 
explanations, an artistic justification of enhancing the 
beauty of this poetry by adding to it an element of playful 

toying {c/i//alana) or wayward vagary 
An instance drawn (Ijafichana) OX cven a sterner element 

from Kabiwalas' con- „ ,. . . i i ^ 

coption and treatment ot distressing poignancy ; yet wliat- 
of lladha and Krsna. ^^^^^ ^^^^^ ^^ ^j^^ interpretation, it 

certainly does not dwarf our concep- 
tion of the finer spirit of Baisnab poetry. Ignoring the 
considerations of sensual presentation or spiritual explana- 
tion, the central and essential idea of Baisnab poetry, 
embodied in the conception of Badha's knlanka, has an 
emotional suggestion of its own, which adds an element 


of intensity ami earnestness to tlic love of Riidliii as tlic 
type of a heroine who foreii^oes all for love. In the poetry 
of the Kabiwalas these elements severed from their natviral 
context and rejjjarded by themselves assume the somewhat 
repelL'nt intensity of impertinent interest. Havinj:j real- 
ised full well that the depth and beauty of Baisiiab poetry 
were beyond themselves or their audience, they had selected 
and isolated for representation only those portions of it 
which would appeal more directly by their effective 
but transient vuli]jarity. The Kabiwalas therefore give, 
consciously or unconsciously, more prominence to hilaiika 
and chludanZi over anything else of Baisnab love-poetry ; 
and these elements in their incongruous context are 
often presented with such unadorned boldness and repulsive 
relief and with such ill-suited lightness of touch that 
thoy become in the end thoroughly inartistic. Krsna's 
wantonness is carried t<> a frivolously forbidding extent 
and Hadhri's sense of the affront, thus dealt out by the 
luifaithful lover, is marked by a singular lack of self- 
respect and sense of diu;nity. The process is the process 
of dethroning a god for the purpose of humanising a 

Ratlhri and her companions are eternally complaining, 
with all the silliness of plaintive sentimentality, of the 
endless amoiu's of the ever deceitful lover ; but after all, 
she takes them very lightly and no great persuasion is 
necessary to reconcile her in the end to her lover. She 
laments, she weeps; but her laments are hollow and hor 
tears are idle. The apol«»;^ist may contend that all these 
are more forms of divine sportiveness ( C^«Tl, ^\ or ^q1 ) 
and that we must not Judge them by secular standards. 
But we must guard against bringing in spiritual considera- 
tions in extenuation of artistic ina<le<piacy, although we 
cannot, it is true, altogether steer ourselves clear of the 



question of spiritual interpretation. There is no doubt 
the dictum of the author of Ujjvala-Nllamaiii * that 
what is true of Srikrsna is not true of the ordinary 
lover : but even llupa Gosvanil himself admits that 
Krsna is conceived as the ideal lover, natachuddmani ' 
or rasika-keJiJiara.^ It is not our purpose here to 
enter into any discussion of the inner significance of 
Baisnab poetry or its metaphysical conceptions ; what is 
intended here to be stated is that from the layman's 
standpoint of artistic criticism, the ahhimdd of Radhti, 
as we often find it in the songs of the Kabiwalas, has 
got hardly any reality in it nor has the love of Krsna 
any deep-rooted strength of feeling which alone would have 
lifted it into the highest sphere of poetry. So long as 
the heroine realises that she possesses a strong hold ujwu 
her lover's love, the interruption of its smooth course 
through occasional sportiveness or incidental vagary adds 
a peculiar charm to the elements of abliiinan ; but when 
the offence is great and involves faithlessness and 
disgrace which strikes at the very root of the pas.^^ion 
itself, the heroine dishonours herself when she takes it 
lightly or sits down to villifying^ complaining or indulging 
in a sentimental process of elaborate afj/iinian. Such things 
hardly possess any appeal artistic or otherwise, and 
as such should hardly find a place in nobler types of 

One or two illustrations will make out the point 
we are trying to indicate. Here is a song of Kiim 

' Vjjvaln-N'ilamani, i. 18.21 (Nirnaya Sanrur Ed., pp. 11-24). 
- Ihid, loc. cit. 

* Kr.'jnadas Kabiraj's commentary of ^rlkrsijn Knymmrin on 
Si. 1, -3, 11 etc. This opithot is common enough in Bai^uab works. 

KAinWALAS 323 

Basil ill which Kfulhri is -peaking as a k/iandila 

<1KW ^tC^I *tTt1 ^t^^ 'Ttff?^ 7^^ ?ni II 

•riT^ '^m ^T^ ^:^ c^t^f .. c^5{ ^^5, ^f^, c5?w "5if5 1 
fc^ ^ SR ^?:^ C'5p:f »rrt^^l^ ii 
ifvf ^sc^ ^'n 5^511, TH 5^^ -^m^, 

■sRfJ^ C^ff Ofl «fC^ ^fS ^t^^l *ft^ II 
^^ fV (?FT^C^ ^ ^it^ I 
Jftf^tt FOf^ -^ "s^VJ^ II 

(71 *ir«f ^^ ^tc^ "Sff^si-H, 

(Tit fr*p ?it^fr* fn 5T^5i I 
?rt90 »fTtr^<T itJT; c^(?i c't^ srt^, 

■BTprt? f^?:^^ 'itJ^ ■5j''^:^R ii 

' Safnhud Prabhakar, Asvii:, 1261, p. l ; Prachhi Knbi-sajngraho, 
pp. 31-32 ; Ouptt^.-atnoildhar, pp. 104-106 : S(ingH.nnra.${it'n<jraha, 
vol. ii. pp. 1001-1002. 


And then consider liow the companions ol* RildhH, in a 
tone banterinpf but shamelessly humiliating^ to themselves, 
are ontroatin<>- the shame-faced false lover now seated com- 
fortably in Mathura. 

^^ ^911 ^fR c^^, ^s nff?i ^^ f%^1 5t^ I 
C^sft^ ^"s^T^t^Sfj^ ^l^ ^l^ ^ffjT ?ft^ I 

C^^ 5{tJf^ ^t^ f^t^^ ^f^ t'PfT^J; 

And here is a piece of undisguised raillerv !»>' Ku])jri 
the new mistress. 

^t^t^ ^^^ ^t^1 ^tCI ^t^^f ^tf^CR II 
^Z^^ C^^^\'^ ^f^ C^t^^ ^5f^^ ^l;;^ I 

^f^ ^^ ^tw w\^% cn?:^^ ^t^^, 

C^ ^^ ^t^^ ^U\Z^ C^5ft^ II 

*tm f^ 5ft^ f%l ^t^ I 

C^t^^ ^C^fe^ CTt^ ^t^tW II 

^U« C^^1 ^f ; ^ l^f^, 

^t^^ f^^sf *\jpi, sr^sr^ :5Sif^?:»ftft i 
C^t^1 ^^ 05^1 ^ ^^ ^C^ ^^ II (^tiT^)- 

' PracKin Kabi-.^niiigraha, p. 35. 
" Ibid. pp. 35-36. 

KABnVALAS :ii>5 

And lastly listen to tlic in!j;enious l)iit lianlly autlicntic 
jnstilioation of the false lover by himself".' 

CT^ ^i%si ^f^tc^ jfu^f^ 5^ ^cs, 

'Sftf^Cs ^tC^ si'i^t^ I 

"si ^t:^ f^^ >Tf^, 5?T?t^1 ^^5^ sit, 

^Tf^ ^t^1 ^t ^f ^ ^t'5 ^^^ II 
It is needless to comment on the tone and spirit of those 
passages ; but the history of love revealed in their course 
will suflieiently indicate the extent to which the Kal)i- 
walas debased the tenderness, passion and spirituality 
of earlier Baisiiab poetry. 

This spiritual inadequacy of the songs of the 
Kabiwalas necessarily involved a lowering of the literary 
ideal. There is no doubt here and there, in Htlni 

liasu or in Ilaru Thakur, a desire 

Lowcrinp of the jr^,. ^^^^^^^. utterance; yet generally 
literary ideal •' '^ •' 

speaking, the entire mentality of 

the Kabi-poets was never of a superior order. They 
are artists who still handle worn-otit themes in old formal 
ways without the earlier grasp upon them, without 
fervour of conviction an.l without anything of percep- 
tive delicacy. Some of the Kabiwalas, no doubt. 

' /6i(l. pp. 38-39. 


were men of high uatiiral endowments but they moved 
less freely within a narrow and degenerated sphere of 
thoughts and ideas. The mental attitude of their 
audience and submission to its influence no doubt proved 
unwliolesome to the growth of their poetry ; but they 
themselves were incapable of interpreting life in any 
large and original way and therefore limited themselves, 
wisely or unwisely, to ministering ehietiy unto the 
curiously uncritical habits of the time which demanded 
nothing more than the transient excitement of cheap 
rhetoric and cheap ideas. In the period in which they 
flourished, men had been deprived of a free political 
and social life, a central capital, the peace and security 
of an ordered existence and other conditions adequate 
to the intellectual requirements of an expansive literature. 
The old style having fallen into decay, the literary 
ideal could never be very high nor were the opportunities 
abundant enough for unfolding whatever potentialities 
this poetry possessed. 

The Kabi-literature, therefore, among its crowd of 
ao-reeable poems, had produced very few master-pieces, 
very few works of superb genius destined to immortality. 
There is a carelessness, a want of balance, a defect of 

judgment in the choice of materials 
Artistic inadcqu.acy. and their management, a sloven- 
liness of execution throughout the 
work of this period. Care and grace of style can be 
expected in the literary craftsman who writes down his 
thoughts at leisure, for he can rewrite his sentences, 
recast his phrases, remould stanzas, thus achieving the 
pro])er art of style ; but the Kabiwalas, who were 
hardly a lettered class of leisured writers, could never 
find abundance of time or patience to court the lugubrious 
muse. They made use of whatever poetic talents they 

kAlJlWALAS 327 

possessed in eontributiuij to tlie transient amusement ol' 
a hardly less illiterate publie : and their forensic style, 
which can only be elevatin<j when the inspiration itself 
is noble, naturally resulted in a dead level of the common- 
place or the conventional. 

To arrest the fuij^itive attention of the audience, 
the Kabiwalas make abundant use of the borrowed tricks 
of conventional rhetoric. It is certainly true that out 
of ten verses even whole stanzas may be found which 
do not lack power ; but, f^enerally speaking, beauty 
anil refinement yield place to a constant striving after 
effect, to an attempt at clever and spirited improvisation, 
wanting entirely in strength, art, or polish, though 

capable, through its effective forensic 
Its affociation and qualities, of awakening the easilv 

excitable popular enthusiasm. They 
composed too fast to compose well ; and their critical 
sense was not sufliciently strong to save ihem from all 
the faults of fatal lluency and fertility. Hence we lind 
the fault of repetition, fre(pieney of stock-phrases, 
monotony of identical form and idea, singular baldness 
of details, childish jingle of weakly, though effective, 
words, which are unavoidable in oral composition but 
which appear dull and llat in reading. The sentiment is too 
often trite and the ideas conventional, and the author, 
in his futile attempt to disguise his want of originality 
by frecjuent affectation and constant use of stilted 
devices, becomes thoroughly artificial and unconvincing. 
One of the tricks which is i)eculiarly favoured by the 
Kabiwalas for the puriK)se of impressing ujion the 

fickle sensibilities of an uncritieal 
Its habit of pann- ' . 

iiiK nn.l use of al- audience is the excessive use of 

"^'^'■"^''''"' alliteration and pun. AVhen use<l 

with moderation and judgment, alliteration is no doubt 


one of the most useful ornaments of poetical expression 
and it has not yet lost all its charm in poetry ; but 
the Kabiwalas succumbed to the delusion of imagining 
that alliteration and punninjj^ are the chief ends of 
poetry. It is needless to cite instances, when instances 
are so abundant but the followino^ passage' as well as 
the ])assage quoted at p. 323 will sufficiently indicate the 
excess to which this pernicious habit was carried. 

c^m C^ f ^ ^, ?ff ^% ^C^ ^ ^^ I 

Even sometimes in these strivings after alliterative 
appeal, the poet completely sets at defiance even ordinary 
rules of grammar and composition. 

^^ ^^ z^ (M^ '<m ^n%^ I 

^«t^J C^^ C^tC^ ^srtt ^«t^J «fn ^rrf^ ^t^ I) - 
Leaving aside a few deservedly pojiular pieces which 
indicate a desire for untrammelled and spontaneous 

utterance, we find throughout the work 

Its abuse of the r- i t^ i • i 

iiiia.niuation and of ot the Kabiwalas an abuse of the 
""' ""^■"«^'- imagination and of the intellect. It 

cannot be denied indeed that some of the Kabiwalas 

' Somhud Prahhahir, A3yml2Gl,it.ll; Gupia-ratnoddhar cd. Kedar- 
nath BaudyopGdliyay, p. 151 ; Prltig'ili, p. 474. 
• Quoted in Sadhanu, 1302 B.S., pt. ii. ]->. 65. 


possessetl undoubtetl poetic powere ; but they often nei4:lect- 
ecl natui-al sentiment and made an exhibition of 
artfnlness. The founts of earlier inspiration had been 
failini^ and poetry itself cominjjf to he resjarded as 
the means of displaying^ elaborate conceits, extra- 
vaj^ant fancies, bold metaphors and excessive hyperboles. 
Many of these poets are martyrs to verbal nicety. Fancy 
is preferred to sense and exuberance of imai^ery to 
chastened style. That the education of the Kabiwalas 
lacked in scholastic strictness produced one good effect, 
no doubt, namely, that whenever they turned to familiar 
themes or depended upon their natural genius, their 
poetry was marked by a sincere homeliness and a swinging 
and dashing lyrism i-are in the precise and meditative 
utt<ii*ances of latter-day poets ; yet this very lack of 
training fostered in them a false and uncritical taste 
in the choice of poetical ornaments and a singular 
indifference to the value of artistic restraint. Their 

poetical style is often very diffuse and 

rtalld st.fle''' ''°'' '"■ i»»latod, if not trite or given to futile 

adorning of trivialities ; and it is very 
seldom that we meet with sustained flights of condensed, 
ix)ignant and forcible utterance. There are very few 
songs which arc impeccable in every line or studied in 
every phrase, not to speak of the obvious faults of 
rhyme, rhythm and metre. The extreme lluency and 
prolixity of the Kabiwalas stooil effectually in the way 
of their attaining well-balance<l artistic effect. The poet 
is very seldom able to sustain his inspiration from 
the beginning to the end of his composition. In the 
beautiful song of Nitai Bairiigi already referred to' 

' SnJhbad Pmbhdkar, Affrnlu1j-an 1, I2f)l, p. 7; KodilrnJith Bandyo- 
padhySy. Guptn-ratnoddharn, p. I7(i ; KftbioyalcUliyct Git, p. 61 ; 
Sangit-fdr-sarhgraha, ii. 1017 ; Priti-giti, p. 828. 



i^ i-\^ ^t^^ ^f% f^fc^ I 

5^^ C^J( ^5f ^^^1 ^^ 

^«rt ^fw%^t 2!^«t II 

^^ C^^ fe? ^^W II 

cilt% t£l1% JTf^ ;£l1% C^l mR 

^tC^ (?R ft^ C51^'^ II 

^, f^C^C^I ^tf^tC^ %^C^ f^C?t 

the be^imiinjj and some of theeoncliuliii}^ lines are line bnt 

we are left with a sense of inadeqnacy with regard 

to the whole and individual parts of the sonty. There 

are queer ups and downs in artistic execution^ and the 

poetical inspiration is not kept up uniformly throuij^hout. 

Those who pin their poetical faith upon " i)atches," the 

;T,reat mass of Kabi-sonij:s presents 
Its ineqaality. + k ♦ 

examples or certainly <^reat beauty 

but taken as a whole, the poetry is unequal in merit and 


side by side with l\isj|;lier llii*hts, there are depths ul Ijathos 
hardly to l)t' parallelod. Tho common alhirements of 
narrative interest, of varied subject or of striking? idea are 
so rare in this |)oetry tliat it is necessary for the poet 
to screw his inspiration always tc the stickinoj place so 
that he may not fail. But to reach the full white heat, 
the steady blaze of poetic emotion is not uniforndy 
possible with these }>oets, and therefore it is not surprisinijj 
to lind a lari^e amount of tolerable and even Hat and 
insipid verse obtainiui^ side by side with sonji^s of intensely 
moviui^ (juality. Comin<; to the less inspired later 
Kabiwalas we find in them a l)old use of colhxjuialism 
which is sometimes appealing', no doubt, through its 
veracity and raciness but which very frequently degene- 
rates into unlicensed slang or unredeemed verbiage. No 
one would seriouslv contend, for instance, that the following 
lines of liholii Mayaril, though racy and ingenious, 
contains a single spark of poetry. 

5rf$^ te ^V5 ^Z^ ^t55 ^^ «tt I 

■ > ■ \ 

^'(ft^s^ ^C^ C«f'i ^^ C^K^^ ^t^ II 

f«^ w:^ ^^\ ^t^, w\f]z^ ^^ mf^ II 
^"t^ (Ti^<i c^^ (Ttc^i "5j5ii^>iT-ni §tff 1 
■srt'^f^ s^t^ w\Q ^fjs\ <t«fc^ ^ ^'T«f II 

But in spite of this artistic inadetpiacy of Kabi-j)oetry, 
it shoidd never be relegated to the lumber-room of 

literal*)- curiosity ; nor is this poetry 
hi lack of superior to be dismissed as a mere 

f|uahties but its true . 

poetic spirit. of the eommoni)laee8 of Baisnab 

poetry. It is true that the works 
of the Kabiwalas hardly exhibit any profundity, 
poignancy, or weight. It is not marked by supreme 


splenJom- of ima<^inatiou or oxuberance of inventive 
thought. These poets have none of the disturbing tyranny 
of violent passion or tlie ecstatic elevation of superior inspira- 
tion. But, after all is said, it cannot but be admitted that 
some of the despised Kabiwalas are poets and not jioetical 
curiosities, and that if Kabi-poetry does not always attain 
a high level of poetical excellence, the level it occasionally 
reaches is striking enough as a symptom of the presence 
of the true poetical spirit which it is often impossible to 
detect for years together in other periods of literary history. 
Even in the emphatically minor Kabiwalas — often persons 
quite unknown or unimportant in literature as persons — we 
come across charming things, lines and phrases and stanzas 
of exquisite beauty, indicating a general diffusion of the 
poetic spirit which had made even such inferior songsters 
beautifully articulate. 

One important and characteristic feature of Kabi- 
poetry consists in the fact that 
quality of Kabi-poetry. although it was in no sense popular 

jwetry dealing, as it did, with con- 
ventional themes in conventional form yet it expressed, 
through its poets who were of the people, what the 

people had of the noblest and 

Its expression of 

popular feelings and sincerest as well as of the grossest ; 
®^^' and in virtue of this it could be 

appreciated by the people at large. It may be true that 
popular appreciation is not the sure touchstone of 
poetic (luality ; yet we would lapse into the error of 
academical dogmatism if we do not take into account the 
hold which this poetry possessed upon the popular mind as 
one of the important factors in our consideration. It is 
salutary as well as significant that no abrupt line divided the 
poets from the huge uncultivated populations, often con- 
temptuously set down as " the masses/^ Even while 


dealiui? witli tlic conventional IJaisnalj themes, Kahi- 
pootry is marked by tlie sincere and iinaffeeted relijjjioiis- 

ness of the popular mind, ii' not 

Its sincere leli- , j ^|,p ^,.„,. --^ ^^- Baisual. 

^'lonsness. .' . i 

literature. In art, in ideas, in poetical 

insj)iration, the Kabiwalas may not be regarded as the 
true inlieritors of ancestral ijenius yet in honest relif]jious 
feeling, in sound and simple faith, they do not comjjare 
unfavourably with their great predecessors, lint it is 
not iiere that we find the genius of Kal)i-poetry tinding 
its fullest scope. The conditions under which it might 
have become a legitimate development of Baisiiah-poetry 
ha<l been non-existent and, fortunately or unfortunately, 
Kabi-poetry had come under conditions and inlluenccs totally 
different. The excellence of Kabi-poetry rests, therefore, 
not so much ujjou its rehandling of older themes but 
upon its presentation of less pretentious but more homely 
and natui-al themes which, if these |)oets were not the 
first to treat, they were at least the first to work up with 
considerable effectiveness. Ram Basu's treatment of the 
themes of hiraha and agfunaul is widely known and 
deserves its reputation ; but in these, among other themes, 
not Ram Basu alone but most of the Kabiwalas excel le<l 
and found a congenial scope for the disjday of their 
natural ix)etieal genius. It is not, however, in the themes 
themselves so much as in the treatment that the charac- 
teristic feature of Kabi-poetry is seen at its best. We 
shall have to come back to this point later on ; but it may 

be noted here that these songs, in 

Naturalness and their sincere force of natural i)assi()n 
sincerity of its birnha i rr • i • i • • i 

aonRs. and affection and hi their simple 

observation of common things, form 

a class by themselves, the value of which can never 

be over-estimated, although most of them have been so 


liaekiicyccl to us in various ways or have been so (jueerly 

dressed in a diction, loniL!^ out of fashion, thai even res))eet- 

able critics have been led to treat them with unfci<i;ned 

contenii)t proverbially associated with familiar thin»i^s. 

In tjjcse hirnha sonjjjs, however, the note of simplicity and 

sincerity is unmistakable. There is no thinkinf]f about 

thinkintij oi- feeling about feeling, but honest human 

passion is expressed with a clear vision and with exquisite 

directness of speech. These poets sang no longer of the 

loves of Radha and Krsna or find in them a suitable 

frame-work for voicing their individual or universal human 

sentiment. They sing of natural human beings, often of 

themselves, and of the naturalistic human passion ; and 

their expression of the triumph and despair of love, if 

somewhat crude and even gross, is not sicklied over with 

reflectiveness as in most modern poets. In the afjumnol 

sono-s, again, the domestic atmosphere of a Bengali home 

with its simple ioys and sorrows, 
Tenderness and ' ' _ 

human interest in which find expression in the ])icture 

agamnnT songs. ^^ Menaka the mother and Uma the 

daughter,' creates a peculiar charm of sweet and tender 
homeliness which is rare in modern poetry. These few 

' This trait also expresses itself in the gsA/ha of Snkhlsambad 
where Yasodu is generally speaking to the boy Krsna. It cannot be 
determined how far in their bhaban't-hiaayak songs, the Kabiwalai 
influenced or were influenced by the writers of devotional ditties 
who ttonrished by their side. There is, however, considerable similarity 
of trait between the malsi of Ram-prasiid and his followers and 
the agamanl of the Kabiwalas, who were undoubtedly influenced 
by the special agaman'i or bijaya songs of Ram-prasfid or Kamlakanta. 
Similarly there is some general resemblance between the biniha 
songs of the Kabiwalas and the love-lyrics of the ^nppa-writers. 
There must have been some amount of mutual influence and it is 
quite possible that both these represent phases of a certain humanising 
tendency of the literature of the age in which they flourished. 


wood-notes may lack relineuient ami polish but tliey are 
exceedinii:ly tender, simple and human. And it is by force 
of its tenderness, its simplieity, and human interest, 
wherever these cjuaiities may be found, that Kabi-poetry 
is so appealing?. In their form, ajijain, these sono^s possess 
not raucii of stylistic grace and their bold use of collo- 
quialism is often bare and unadorned ; 3 et the veracity 
of the vernacular and the raciness of the spoken idiom 
impart to these songs a charm of their own, easy, direct 
and simple yet plastic and artful in their very want of 

It will be amjily clear from this that Kabi-poetry 
cannot be regarde<l merely as a belated jtroduct of the 
Baisiiab school, although in a distant way it attempted 

to carry on the older tradition. 

litirLy'TaTr"* ^^ 1>«^«^^^^ chai-acteristic trait of 

its own which marks it off as a 
distinct, though not independent, typo of national utterance. 
If it is not music yearning like a god in pain, it is charac- 
terisetl by full-throated ease and robust healthy mentality 
at least in certain spheres. Higher tlights of poetry were 
unsuitetl to its hard and narrow environment ; the rambling 
life of its votaries stored their minds with little learning 
or culture ; they indtilged in metrical exercises jiartly Jis 
the means of earning livelihood under the not-too-liberal 
patronage of the isolate<l aristocracy of the |)riests and 
the princes, of the |)lain democracy of poor peasants 
in the remote villages, of the respectable middle cla-ss of 
thrifty merchants and banians in the crowde«l citie,s. 
Though the roar of the CJinnon at Plassey or LMaynala was 
but heard faintly by them and they were <pn"te oblivious 
of the world arotnid them, living and moving in an 
isolated social world or a conventional poetic woiM of their 
own : yet the latter half of 18th centurv with if^ 


confused energy, diffused culture and political, social and 
mental chaos did not demand nor could inspire a litei-a- 
ture of i^reat value. There was hardly any leisure for 
serious writing ; what was wanted was trifles capable of 
affording excitement, pleasure and song. This poetry, there- 
fore, was never meant for a critical audience, and critical 
sense or practised art the Kabiwalas hardly possessed any. 
They lacked ideas and ideal utterance and were constantly 
hampered by the incubus of a conventional literary tradition ; 
there is a good deal of sad stuff in their verse-impromptu ; 
all this and more is admitted. But inspite of these di-aw- 
backs and difficulties, Kabi-poetry, in its best aspect, is 
an entirely homespun production, kindly, genial and in- 
dulgent, capable of awakening and keeping po})ular en- 
thusiasm and possessing simplicity and liquidity of utterance 
which draws its bone and thew and sinew from the lan- 
guage and ideas of the people themselves who begat 
them and with whose central life-force they have an 
unconscious and sjwntaneous rapi)ort. If it is not popular 
poetry in the true sense of the term, being mainly 
derivative and reproductive, its contact with the people, 
while debasing its nature in certain respects, gave it 
at the same time a robust and healthy character and 
a sincere homeliness unaffected by literary prepossessions. 
Kabi-poetry, therefore, is of a complex character and 
delies all systematic analysis or rigid labelling as a recog- 
nised species to be put into a definite pigeon-hole marked 
out by the literary critic. Its merit is simplicity and its 
importance lies in the fact that although the Kabiwalas 
were incapable of producing the highest type of poetry or 
jtainting life broadly or powerfully, they served litera- 
ture in their sinijile and homely way by furnishing a 
stimulus to the emotional life of the country. They suc- 
ceeded very often in piercing through the gauds and 


trimminu's of an I'llVtc Iitenir\ tradition and comin<>- 

direct to tlio |>assion and emotion wliicli throb and ])u]sate 

in tlie individual. The s^-round on which they tread is as 

plain and sini|)Ie as that which the 
ItD coniiiiun imivL-r- i i i ^ i -^i i • 

Sill api)cal. l)easant daily treads ujion with his 

uncouth feet : yet it is from this 
common and universal soil tliat they draw their bracing' 
and Ljenial character. The Kabiwalas may not be the 
atiluent inheritors of the spiritual estate of their ancestors 
but tlie apparently trilliui;' things of ail which had come 
down to tlu'in as their heir-looms served ani])ly for their 
unmistakable insi<>nia of rank and status. AVith thousand 
and one faults to its credit, the interest arising,' from the 
study of Kabi-poetry is not, excejjt to the charlatan or the 
obtuse, the untlesirablo interest which sprini^s from the 
contemplation of superlative crudity ; and although univer- 
sal popular appreciation, as we have already stated, is not 
the true test of poetic merit, such jjopular valuation is not 
tu be wholly rejected as a false index by the [ledantry of 
cultured crilicisni. 

Airain, it nuist be borne in mind that most of these 
compositions were noiigx an»l not lyric ]>oems and nnist 
be judijed as such. It is not possible nor desirable to 
estimate the value of soni;;s by the standard b\ which we 
cousider jHjetical compositions. \N e must appreciate 
a sono; throuLih the ear and not feel it with the eye 

alone. It is not possible to convey 

Its qnality HH songs an idea of its melody through an 
and not nierelv lyric . . ' , , n 

poems. ' appreciative essay ; it must r)o actually 

heard before its charm can be fully 
realised. This remark applies equally to the case of Baisnab 
Pailahal'iK. Th(jse who have listened to Baisnab songs 
as well as to the songs of the Kabiwalas, sung by an exi)^! 
and tasteful singer, may appreciate their charmingness in 



a greater degree. When seen in print these delightfully 
melodious things lose much ot" their appeal. It may be 
urged that this element should be rigidly ruled out of 
court in a strictly literary estimate ; but it must not be 
forgotten that the fame of most of these Kabiwalas rests 
more upon their musical than upon their literary capacity, 
for some of them were ti-ained musicians, not ill at verbal 
numbers but possessing considerable knack of composing 
what are rather disrespectfully called " words, " and that the 
song-element preponderates in the various forms of ancient 
literature from Baisnab poetry down to {(tppa, yaira, 
pa'mckali and therefore cannot be totally ignored 
in any estimate of old Bengali literature or its offshoot. 

This brings us naturally to the question of the prosodie 

range of Kabi-})oetry and the arrange- 

Its system of versi- ^^^^^^ ^s^ j^^ numbers, its metrical 

ncatiou. ■' 

system being closely connected with 

the conditions of its musical expression. At first sight 
the verse-system of the Kabiwalas seem to follow no defi- 
nite lule of arrangement; and this has been more than once 
severely denounced by puzzled critics.* The lines vary 
in length, are very ap})arently irregular in rhythm, iin])er- 
feet in structure and uncertain in accentual or literal or 
syllabic arrangements ; but a careful study will show that 
there is some sort of harmony in the midst of this apparent 
discord. It is, no doubt, true that in some of the Kabiwalas 
there is a hopeless indifference to ])rosodic regulations ; 
that with regard to the number of words, syllables or 
accents required in each line, there is no hard and fast 
rule ; and that as such it is impossible to analyse the 

* Sec for iustance the remarks of Rabinclrnnath Tliaknr in Sadhana 
(1302 B. S. ), pt. ii, p. 65, reprinted in his Lok-Sahitya under the 
beading * Kabi-Safiglt ' at p. 44. 


versifieition wliolly by ivcoj>;nisecl systems of. prosoily ; yet 
the vei-se of'tlie Kabiwalas in spite of their freqniMit prosodie 
vai»;aries is self-reguhitod, fol lowing-, as it does, a law of its 
own which varies naturally aecordinsjf to the irresistible 
ideal or emotional or melodious suijtj;estion. The eom])Osi- 
tions must be i)rimarily reg'arded as son»>s : and in songs, 
variation of long and short lines is immaterial and the rigid 
rules of metrical arrangement incapable of uniform api)li- 
eation. They can be better sung than read. The words 
and lines are arranged as they naturally sing and fall into 
apparently inevitable song-rh3thm. But the whole effect 
is not inharmonious ; the music is clear and the movement 
of the rhvmed verses of varying length is easv and 
natural. The s})irit of this verse-system is that of unbound- 
ed lawlessness bound only by a law of its own ; that of 

resistance to the established ideal of 

Its opposition to the stereo-tviicd verses like pai/ar or 
establishecl sj'stom ot ■ ' ^ ■' 

stoniotjqied versiticii- (ripiull which possess a more or less 

tion ami its infinite <• i , <. i t 

rariety nnil versatiiitv Jixcfl system ot letters or pauses. In 

this, again, Kabi-poets are following 

in the footsteps of their Baisnab predecessors, though with 

a greit deal more of unhampered freedom. Whatever may 

be the defects, the system gives us, however, variety of 

arrangement, versatility of combination, and infinite 

sugixestion of new verse-forms. 

But in general structure of the songs, the Kabiwalas 

followed a more or less definite system of rhyme-an-ange- 

ment. The exact signification of much of their musical 

technicalities is lost to us but ftr our 
The pencral stnic- . . • i i 

tnre anil rhytm;- jHU'iJOse it IS not uideed necessary to 
nrranKemcnt of Kal.i- ^^^^^, j^^^^ ^^^-^^^ j^ ^^.^^^j,, y^^ ^^ y^^ 

songs. " 

to state that the whole musical gamut 

of each song is ariange 1 in ascending and descending ordei 

into several divisions, bound to each other by a peculiar 


system of rhyme- endinsr. These divisions, in their suc- 
cession, in each complete soii^^, are : r/illUii, par -chit an, 
phuka, iiiellj., mahacla {saoi/lri, not present, however, in all 
soncrs), hhatl , and then second phuka and second meltZi, and 
lastly aniani. If the word-composition is continued, 
then, cJiitan, etc., come again in their successive order. Now 
as to the system of rhyme-ending, the chUan and par-chito.n 
rhyme together. '^Xxq phuka, has a different rhj'me-ending ; 
so also luelta \vhich however rhymes in its turn with uinhadd 
and kha(L The second 7;/^ ?//« has an independent rhyme 
but the second nx'Ha rhj'mes again with mahada, while 
antara closes with a different rhyme-ending altogether. 
The number of lines which each of these musical divisions 
contains is immaterial but it is essential that the lines should 
follow the rhyme-arrangement indicated above j and this 
gives, as in stanzaic poems or sonnets, a compactness of 
arrangement. Taking each division to contain one line 
we may indicate the rhyme-arrangement in a normal scheme 
in this way (five rhymes in all ahcJe) — 

a Chit an 

a Parch it an 

h Phuka 

c Melta 

c Mahada 

c Saoijari 

c Khad 

(I Second Phuka 

c Second Mahada 

c Antara 

' The earlier Kabi-songs arc, however, simple in structure, having 
generally tnahndu, chitau and antnm only. There is some difference of 
opinion on this point and different accounts arc given. According to a 
writer in Bandhah, Pou-f, 1282, p. 265, the four divisions of Kabi-songs 
axe chitau, mulch {or mihntja), khad, antitra -. or, in some cases, chitav, 
dhuyri, antara^jhumair. 


Here is an illustration from one of the famous songs 
of Rum Basil arranc^ed in the order indicated' — 

^ CI^IT'i 1 ^f^ ^^t^ ^tf?f, ^11 c^t^^ ^, 

m^ I 9c^ f^ifir, ^(1 c^t^ c^, ^11 ^c^^ r^m I 
5 f ^1 1 "5it5^ «(c^ ^t^j ^t:^ ff n 1% 511, sjtc^fi, 

^Sll 511 ^V.'^H f^ ^5lf^ if(^1 I 

fr^^^ 5rt c^r^m sjc? ^911 *itt ^'^^^ci >iffl c^c^ ^ I 

Of Kabi-poetry before 17G0, not mneli is known. Only 
a few names stand ont of the j^eneral obscurity • but 
with regard to these names hardly any detail is known. 
The earliest, if not the most illustrious, Kabiwala of 
whom we have any record is one Gomjla Gumi. In the 
issue of tlu' Sambad Vrabhakar ^ already referred to, Isvar 

(Jon-.jla Gun-.i th. ^"1'*'^ ^^"^ "^ *'>•»* ^"'^'j'-"* Aonrisheil 
enrliest known Kabi- "about liO or 1 50 \ ears" before his 

own time and tins would ])lace the 

> Pradx'xu Knhi.Mihgrnhn, pp. 4-5 ; Snmhrul Prnhhukar, Kfirtik 12<)I, p.4. 

» Samhad Prahh'ikar, A^&h&yan 1. 12(51. I do not know on whnt 
evidence Xanda and Raghu have been jilaoed by Dine.'»h Chandra Son 
{Baiign Bha^Ji O Sahitya, 2nd Ed^ p. ml) in the llth centiirv. 


poet as early as the bes^inninn' of the 18th century. Of 
tliis Kabiwala however, we know nothing excei)t that he 
formed a party of professional songsters {kalir (hi) who 
used to sing in "the house of the rich " and tliat he had 
three diseii)les who in later times became famous Kabi- 
walas ; but we have no evidence to ascertain whether 
he was the originator of this form of singing or (which 
is more i)robable) whether he had his })redecessors in 
the line from whom he inherited his art. Of his coni- 
])osition, only one or two fragments ha^-e been rescued from 
oblivion by the indefatigable editor of the Frah1iZik(n\^ 
from which we cpiote this curious literary specimen 

^fsf ^t^t^ ^t^ ^^^ 5ff«l II 

^tf5I Cff? ^t^ ^fsi C^1 ft^l, 

5R:^ W^ Csl^ C?^ ^^til II 

It will be noticed that both in theme and style tiiese 
songs, if they are genuine, are more of the nature of the 
iappd. ; and we are told that in those days, such songs 
used to be sung, after the fashion of (o/jyjiT.v, beginning with 

' Also quoted in PiZiclxin Kahi-samgrnha, p. 127-8; Giipta-ratnoddhur, 
p. 205. Tlio last four lines are omitted in Bahga Sahiti/n Parichay, 
vol. ii, p. lo.'il. 

Also a little fraj;nu'nt 

-2ij«i c^jfc^ c^m^ S^Tl ^A a^ cita I 

f<Js^.-3i^r?i| ^^1 %fi^|, W^^\ 5Jtl«l| KW\1[ J 


the tnaJiddU and then proceecHny- to tlie chiliOi and anfaro. ; 
while in later times singing- used to begin, as already indi- 
cated, with the cfiitan. From these little fragments, how- 
ever, nothing detinite can Ix- inferred with regard to the 
nature and history of Kabi-pof'try of this period. 

The three ilisciples of CjioiTijla alliidetl to above were 
Llilu Nandalal, Uaghunath Das and RiinijT Das. Their 
dates are unknown but they must have been living con- 
siderably later than the middle of the 
Tln-ee discipU-s of jstli centurv ; for Ilaru IMuikur (born 

about 1738) was a disciple of Raghu 
while NitySnanda-das Bairagi (born about 1717) acknow- 
ledged Lillu Nandalal, if not Hamjl also, as his master.' 
Raghu had two other great discii)les, w ho in later times 
earned much j)oetic fame, in Kasu and Nrsiiiiha. Ramji.on 
the other hand, found a worthy disciple in Bhabani Banik'' 
who in his turn was the early patron and instructor of Ram 
Basu" considerablv junior to most of these Kabiwalas. 
These are the names of the earlier group of Kalnwalas. 

. , . It will be noticed however that there 

ana tlie poetical inter- 
relation between the is a sort of intor-rt'lation Ijetween the 

earlier Kabiwalas. ,. t- i • i i n i> ^i 

earlier Kabiwalas and ail ot tliem 

' Samhad Prabhakar, Agr.ihiiyan 1261, p. 5 ; but one of the soiiga 
attributed to Nittli by Isvar Gni)ta as well as by later collectors 
{Kiihioaladiger Git, p. 116; GuptU'ratuoddhar, p. 184) bears the 
hhniiita of Ramji Das, which fact would probably indicate, if the 
attribution to Xitui is correct, that Uuinji and not Liihi Xandalal was 
NitAi's Gfirtt. Uvar Gupta speaks of \ii\n Xandaltil as having flour- 
ished roughly eighty years before his own time. This rough reckoning 
would put Nandalal in the latter part of the I8th century, llfhcentury, 
however (p. .341, foot note 2), is too absurd a date for N'anda or Raghu. 
O|)inion on this point vary, but Isvar Gupta'.s seems to bo more reliable 
than later unauthenticated conjectures. .Vnd what ia givoa above is 
all that can bo gathered from such reliable sources. 

• Saikbdd prabhakar loc. cit. 

» Ibid. ASvin, 1261, p. 2. 


derived their poetical origin from Gomjla Gumi. The 
poetical relationship may be thus indicated : 

lOinjla (tiinii 


Rac-huuath Das Lain Nandalal K5niji 

I I ! , 

I I Nitai BairagT BhabanT Banik 

Rasu and Ham ' i 

Nrsiiiiha Thakur Ramauanda Ram Basu 
I NandT 

Nlla and Bhola 

Ram-prasad Mayara 


Durino- the time of Gouiila Guitii and his three disci))!- 
es, we have no record of the existence of 'rival parties' 
or of anv 'poetical combats' which obtained so much in 
later times and Avhich was indeed an essential characteristic 
of this form of entertainment. Tt was in the next genera- 
tion that we hear for the lirst time of rivalries and opposi- 
tions between Nitai Das and Bhabani, between Haru 
Thakur and Krsna Chandra Charmakar (Kesta Muchi), 
between voung Ram Basu and Hani Thakur who must 
have been an old man at this time, as Ram Basu's 'rej^ly' 
at one of these tights seem to imply. ^ 

Of Lain Nandalal's composition 

s])ecimen which deserves to be quote<l.' 

' It runs thus : itf? tf5C^ ^ Itit f^^ R^ I 
' SaHihad Prahhakar, loc. at. 


c^ ^t c^t^i ^r«tf^ nt^tc^Tl 3?^% ?itRcqi -5tr>rr5 ii 

Of Hauliu-nritli no tnistwoiiliy account remains. Some 

say that he was a sat-sfuh-a while 
Kiigliunath Das. .\ ii • i ,i , i 111 • 1 

others tliink that lie was a blacksmith 

by caste.* Acconlini; to a thinl view he was a weaver.* 

Salkia and Guptiparlil, in turns, luive been noted as the place 

where he hved. 01' his composition it is (h'liiciilt to sav 

anytln'ni.!: tlelinite ; for althouLjh two or three frau;ments 

have come down to us, containing his own bhanita or 

sij^nature, it is not i)erfectly clear that these songs 

were really of his own comjjosition. The tradition is 

current that Haru, during his early 
His relutiou tu Iluru .. ■■ i ■ 1 i^ 1 

Thakur. years of juipilship under Kaghu, 

used to get his i)roductions corrected 

by his master and that, out of gratitude, he used to attach 

to them his master's hhaniiZt^ There is nothing to 

discredit tiiis tradition whicii relates to a j)henomenon not 

rare or improbable in our literary history. The number of 

these songs, however, is limited' and all of them, rightly 

or wrongly, have Wn attributed to Ilaru Thakur. It 

may be (juite i)ossible, however, that some of these songs 

were the genuine works of llaghu. But the disciple's 

' Buiigahhattar Lckhak, p. 380. 

» Nabijabharat, B.8. I13I, p. GOO. 

» Ibid, pp. 600-601 ; Kabioyaladigcr G\t (1862), p. 66; Samhad Prabha. 
fcnr, 1<K. cif. 

• Besides the one quoted here, two such songs nro given in 
Kiibioyaladigcr Q%t, at pp. 73-75 and at pp. 91-93 in the collection of Ilaru 
Thakur's songs. These arc also similarly given as Uaru's in Sajhbdd 
Prabhakar, Pons, 1261. 



jj^ratitiule .seems to have t;ot its own reward and to-day 
Haru Tliakur is sup])osed to be tlie author of all songs 
bearing Raghu's signature. The tradition alluded to, 
however, tloes not disallow the su|))")osition that the revision 
of" the master might have given an entirely new shape to 
the novice's composition, and as such, therefore, it is only in 
the fitness of things that the songs should go in the name 
of the master. It would Vje difficult to dogmatise in the 
absence of evidence ; but these songs betray an elaborate 
structure and exuberance of fancy which some may connect 
with the early work of an ambitious youngster but which, 
on the other hand, may be supj)Osed to bear indications of 
the master-hand. There are three songs extant of this 
description, of which one is, rightly or wrongly, attributed 
to Raghu in Bangahha^Zw Lekhak and in I'rltigUi with- 
out any mention of Haru. The song is this — 

fjj^ fir^ ^t^ ^-^ (TJt^sT I 
s[^i{ c^w^ ^t^ ^^^ (M ^^, (P\ ^^ ^ "sftf^ ^tw (?it'5ftt ^^ II 
(Ti^TRsTUs JTt ^f^^ srfjft ^srf^ 5[t^, c^ (?^5M ■^■^\i{ ^^ ^i^ ^t«i 

(j^m c^ ^T3 c^f^ ^«i^ «ts5^ I 
^f^ ^^m'^ f\?z> T^ ^i^^ ^5R, c^^' ^^ ^\c^ 

^<^ 5^1 *itc^ ^^ 5;:^ f^'sw*! II 

^5 ^i^ ^t^^1 «rt^ ^^i:<i ^ip^ I 
5rfc<^ ^fjj ^f^ ^, ^T^ ^ c^«f ^tt, ^£i5R c^c^?r ^^ 

c^ij ^?iefj c^\^i^ ^^ -srfT:! f%, (ii s^r® ^^ ^i)^ (?i ^tf^ 

«(C^ C^C«( ^^1 f^^1 0*2(51 ^'TT^ II 


^^ ^l^ C^T'fl f^C^I 5®CS^ ^^5^ I 

Of the last disciple of (joinjlfi, Kaniji Das, iiothini;- 

RumjiUfis. ubsolritely is known except that 

Hhahilni Baiiik (as well as Nitai Das) 

was his disciple ; and no work of his has snrvi\ed. Onlv 

onesoii*^, however, which is often attribnted to Nitui,' bears 

the Lhnnita. of Riim jT Diis. It is in no way very remarkable 

except for its ingenuity and faneifnlness. 

We hear also Ke.>ta Mnclii who remained outside this 
group but who belongeil to this generation, as a very 

popular songster much sougiit after 
Kest.1 Miichi (Krsna and respected, althouii^h obviously he 

Chandra Cliaimakur). '' 

was a shoemaker by caste. Even 
later on Haru Thakur, himself a Brahman, diil not disdain 
to cross swords with him ; but we are told that Haru 
'riiakur, at that time a young man probably, had the worse 
luck of the duel. It is a pity we do not know much of 
this mysterious figure. Inspite of all his efforts Isvar 
Gupta coidd not get hold of more than one incomplete 
fragment of this old oxtail, itself not a very goo<l specimen -' 

^x^ f nfs, ^\^\ ^^% mt^^ titf^ 

Isift "^W^ <lfflfl ^U\ I 
I Vide "lite p. 343, foot note 1. It bc^^^iiis with 

The son^, too lonp for (|notali(Hi will he foinul in tluptn-ratnoddhar, 
p. 18-1; Knbioy'iirtdiyer O'lt, p. 1 IG. 

' Somhad Ptnlhriknr, AsmUHynn, loc, eit. 


srf^^ ^f«(:^, ^^c^ ^f?ic^, c^tn CMT%^, 

These earlier metrical essays of the Kabiwalas, to iudge 
from the few extant fragments,* are thns not so crude as to 
be comtemptuously set aside ; but they are at the same time 
not so creditable in view of the fact that simultaneously, in 
another sphere, Bhiirat Chandra was charming his royal 
patron with his art and his music, Durgaprasad was paint- 
ing his picturesque description of the descent of the sacred 
river, Ramesvara was narrating his exceedingly human and 
homely account of oiba Gaurl, and Ram-prasad was pouring 
out his soul in devotional ecstasy. 

In the effusions of the next generation we find better 
quality and a greater elaboration of Kabi-poetry. Simulta- 
neously with a certain advance in the 

Kabi-song of the artistic direction, both in form and 
next generation (about 
or after 1760 to 1830). substance, we hear of systematic 

organisation of "parties" {kahir dal) 
and "poetical combats" {kahi-i/nddha or kabir-ladai) which 
no doubt thrilled many a heart in days of yore but with 
which the literary historian has no practical concern except 
in so far as this circumstance affected the making of these 
songs and their poetical ([uality. Into the details of these 
poetical * H\-tings,' comparatively uninspiring to a modern 
reader, it is not necessary for our purjiose to enter. AA e 
need not narrate at length how Bhabani Banik, until re- 
inforced by Ram Basu, must have found a tough opponent 

in Nitai Bairagi' ; how unlucky Haru 

Organisation of Thakur, an old veteran and winner of 
"parties" and poetical * 11,1 

combats. hundred "lights as he was, had the 

humiliation of being worsted not only 

Sai'nhad Prnhhnknr, AgrahSj'an, 1261, p. 6. 


Kesta Miiehi but also In a youngliuii' like Kriin l^a^-ii ' ; m 

how Antony was altaeked by 'riiakiir Siiijlia but j»ai(l bini 

back in his own coin.-' Mut this necessit\- of poetical 

rivah-y, in wliich ([uick and witty retort played a ii'reat part, 

and this contamination of popu'ar a|>pIanso which readilv 

followed such cheap display of in<i;enuity went a lon«»; way 

in debasing; the ipiality of Kal^i-poetry until these poetical 

extemporisations degenerated into somethin*;- even woi-se 

than the wayside verses that are hawked about and sold for 

a penny. The later Kabiwalas fell into the vital error of 

imaijininii; that the sole end of poetical existence consisted 

in abusing- anil throwin«i- mud at each other. Over the dull 

obscenities into which they entered it is better for the critic 

to keep silence ; but we may here recall, for ill ust rat ion, one 

or two instances of these retorts, although they do not 

always display either sobriety or «»ood taste. At a certain 

sittiny: at the Sobhabazar Palace the parties ol' Kam Hasu, 

then an old veteran, and of NtIu 

An instance of a Thukur (a disciple of Kam Basu's old 
witty retort quoted. ". 

rival Haru Thakur) met. Xilu was 

dead but RSm-prasail Thilkur was then the leader of the 

party. Ilnm-prasiid bey:an the attack 

But immeiliately Ham Basn retorted 

' Siibijabbarnt, 1311, pp. 477-70. 

• RSm-jrati NvHjnrntnn, B<iugnhha»ri SUhitya bi^nynk Prnntah, 
3rd Ed. (1317), p 10(5, ftwtnotc, qnotod in Bnngahhrifn O Sahilyn at 
pp. !>98.n. For notice of a fittht l)ct\voen Antony and BbolA, see 
Bharari, 1303 p. 69 et seq. 


515^ ?FtCBf^ ^t^ ^ti:^^ ^t^— ( ^t c^ ) ! 

c^sis? cic^f^ ^tc^ c^c^m ^^^ ^r^ ^c^ ^t^, 

^fs^Tlt^ ^C^^C^ f C^, C^t^t^ C^C?, ^5C5l 'jf^^ ^^^5^ ^1^ II 

It is useless to multiply instances * and most of them do 
not bear ([notation ; but the instance quoted, itself moderate 
enou"-h in tone, will furnish a hint as to the excess to 
which the Kabi-Hghtings were carried. Once asked 
ironically by Thakur Simha 

^U\ ^ Orl*\ ^ C^V\ C^t^t^ ^W^ C^ ^f§ ^tt II 
Antony retorted in abusive language 

^^ ^^^ f^tc^^ ^un^ ^111^ ^fs jr^ c^c^ff II 

"While tearing his adversary to pieces, the Kabiwala 
incidentally tore to pieces all form, style or decency. 
The muses, who love solitude and devotional woi'shij), could 
not be ex])ected to stay at leisure and comfoi-t amid the 
noise and tumult of this uproarious poetry. 

' For Riini Basil's attack on NTlu and Rfim-prasud on another 
occasion, see Pruchlnhihi-Sdj'iujraba, p. 149, and his attack on Bhola 


Rut Rasii Nrsiihlia, Ilani Tliiikur, Nitili BaiiTini and 

Rilin Basil (we hear little o\i Bhahani liaiiik ' the fame of 

his disciple, Kain Basil, having; over- 

The K:ibi- shadowed his own re )iitation), who 
wnliiF of tins j^'ioup. 

Wfie the iireat champions of this 

jLjeneiution of Kabi-poetrv, were not mere versifiers and 

their productions were not wholly destitute of j)oetie 

merit. Of these Rilsu and Nrsiihha come earliest in 


The mysterious double personality of Rilsu and Nrsiiidia 

the two brothers who lived and worked to<;ether, is a 

fascinating- ti^^ure of this uronp of 

Rasu ( 1734.1 S07) Kabiwalas. They were so united in 

and Nrsimha (1738- 

1809 r) their woik, which bear their bJiauifa 

in joint names that it is ditlicult and 

ine<iuitable to separate tiiem. It has been plausibly 

premised - that one of them was the poet, the other 

Mayai-a wIjo was a disciple of Haru Thakn>, ibid p. 148. See also 
Anath Kr?fna Deb, B<ij\gcr Kabitu, pp. 317-325 ; Bharotl, loc. cit. etc. 

' Of BhabSni Banik who lived somewhere in Baghaznr, Calcutta. 
and had some reputation as a Kabiwala in his time, we practically 
know nothinc^ except what Isvar Gupta tolls us in the S'uhbad 
Pnitilinknr, Pons, 1201. This is what ho says €^1C«^ C^i 
S if\^Vf^ CSt^Tl 5RI^| 5>jfT sr^h ^^.'^ ??P^ffr^ <fC5l fws\ 

fw3 ' ira c?t5t5> 'i^t'^ -sftur^^ *t^if fi^ 5^ i ^t^.^ r^ fw^ 
T5 ^^t ^"^^ f^g f^g w.'>^ '^ '9 ^\r:^ ^ 'g\'>^ ^ar?m i 3<;Tt^ci 

'?Tt^ ':T«1 ilf^il -sig.TS l^\ 3r^t# f^r^ -si^T 51^ ^lil^ 5ffa?|^ 
JT^^^n^ 7l\'^^^H ^\fWS ^\ JT^5 ^sfrtfs J1'3f5 "^ifm I III the 
anthology of Bengali love-songs entitled Pr'ifig'iH (t'd. .Vhinils Chandra 
Gha?). three or four songs are attributed to BhabanT Uanik at pp fii ', 
666, 809, 878-79. These songs however, although sung by Bhalxini 
Banik in his i>arty, are not of his own composition but have been 
attributed to Ram Basu or Ilaru Thilkur in all other collections or 
anthologies. (See Prnrhtu-Kohi.Kntiigriiha. pp. 18-20, 30, 60, 8(J). Of 
Bhabani's own com|)osition, nothing has survived. 
' Nnbyabharnt, 1311, p. 647. 


composed music : but on this point, it is not possible to 
make any definite statement. Even Isvar Gupta * says, 

^ ^«^ ^u^Fttfc^^ 5i?:5fT c^-M ^jf©5 ft^ s ^^ n5^-\^ ^n,'\ 

^^i\ ©f^^C^ ^M^ f^|t ^tf^:^ ^tf^ =Ttt I 

Rasu and Nrsimha, thouiih not of obscure oriuiu like 
the greater number of their fellow-poets, yet afford no 
exception to the <ijeneral rule in the obscurity that surrounds 
their lives. Rasu was born in 1734 (1111 B.S.) and 
Nrsirhha in 1738 (1144 B.S.) at Gondalpada near French 
Chandannau'ar of a o'ood Kavastha familv.' Their father, 
Anandinath Ray was a clerk in the military depai-tment of 
the French Government and earned a good deal besides his 
nominal salary. The two boys were sent to the local 
village-school and then to their maternal uncle's house 
at Chinsurah where the missionaries had established a 
Bengali School (before May's school founded in 1814). 
They did not do much at school and so ultimately were sent 
back to their father after a year. Anandinath died soon 
after this, and thus left to themselves, the boys had freedom 
enough to live as they liked. They attached themselves to 
the party of Raghunath the Kabiwala who was the master 
of Haru Thakur ; but, having gained some knowledge of 
the ai't they formed a party of their own which soon became 
popular. They were gi-eatly patronised by Indi-anarayan 
ChaudhurT, Dewan of the French Government ; and 
Chandannagar soon became a centre of Kabi-song through 
their influence. Rasu died at the good old age of seventy- 
two or seventy-three in 1807 ; Nrsimha survived him for 
a few years more. 

' Sambad Prahhakar, Magh 1261, quoted in Janmn-bhuitn, 1302, p. 227. 

' These biographical details are taken from Savibad Prnbhaknr, loc. 
cit.; N fib ijnbhatdt, [311, p. 64.5 et seq.; Kabioyaludiger Git, pp. 97-98 ; 
Janma-bhuml loc. cit. etc. 


OF Uiisu and Nrsiihliu's oompositioii, only six son<i;s have 
come clown to us and the number is obviously too small ' 

and the son_tj;s themselves too inade- 

Their8onK8on6«i/.T. ^ i,ate to allow US to form a just 
fnmbud and bird ha. ^ " 

estimate of their powers. These 

sonu;s all relate to nakfil-i^inhhrid and hiralm but we are not 

sure whether they composed son^s on other themes. 

Tradition says that these were the two themes in which 

Rasu and Nrsiihha excelled and the extant son<j:s inspite 

of their small bulk certainly corroborate this tradition. 

Here is one of the much-praised pieces on mkh'i-samhaiJ,, 

which inspite of its fanciful note, is not wholly destitute 

of merit. 

^f% ^:^l ^t^ ^^^ c^^^f^ 

■sit^-n:?^! -i{vm\ (T^T^ '^'wr^n 

^■^■n, f^^?r ^1C*1C^ II 

^^(^5 ^C^^ C^tl II 

' Only six poems in all is to bo found in all the existing books of 
collection and all these songs arc noteworthy. 



^5[tf^ "51^?^ ^K^r^ II 

It will be noticed that in this poem as well as in other 
poems on the same theme, the characteristic feature lies in 

its power of ^eutle banter and soft 
Their characteristic sarcasm which, thoucrh not rare in 

quality. . ' » , 

other Kabiwalas, was wielded with 
great effect by Rasu and Nrsijhha. In all these poems 
we have, on the one hand, the extreme simplicity of natural 
emotion befitting a wuffdha heroine, on the other, there is a 
sense of pride and self-esteem, which imparts a touch of 
malicious egoism to these passionate songs. Alluding to 
Kubja, the Sakhi says — 

sjCSif ^M^ ^t^C«1 I 

^5ift ^Mr^ F^M II 

^ft ^^f^ ^%^1 1 
^^5f-5rtf^tc^1 c^t^ f^^ c^M 

T^W ^ ^M ^%^1 II 

mt^, (2ffli:*n:^l ^srtr^l <sm*\ ^i^M 

Or take another 

•trt^, ^t^ ^tn '^, ^^ c^t^ ff w 


^«tc^ c^'i^ "^rt^ 'Si ^\^ 
f^t^ ^?C^ 0(^U^ II 

^m^ ^«(t^ ^Tfi^ I 

'ifaro (71 5ltl5 f^^ f^ ^'lf5 

^<^t5(t^ ^|5 ^k^sil 11 

In their liraha sonsfs, a<]:ain, there is no effeminate 
indulq^ence of self-pity or strainino; after racy perversity 
but they are simple, direct and dignified and have consider- 
able restraint of thouolit and languag-c. The poets ask 

^^ ^f'f f^^ QSm^ ^9(1 I 
L^^ CSS^^U^ ^nc^ C^t<?l1 II 

Speaking of the ordinary idea of love they say 

j^r^ 4 7\^-s\ Qs^ Qss:^ ^-^ I 

^^trs 5(r^n srtf^ ^c^fT-n ^ II 

^5f-»?9^ c^t^-Ma^ ^fc^^-^t^c^ ^^ ^11 

'Slt^^ C5l^ 'i\^l^ (TTtC^ ^*^ f^ ^^ I 

T^ c^«n ^^rc^, T!Tt*ti ^rs -sif^c^i n 


and the ways of such a lover are ironically reproached 

c«;5[t^ ^f^^, 'iR^ c^^^ 

If one can judge from the exceedingly small mass of poems 
of Rasu and Nrsimha, which has been preserved but which 
is too inadequate to represent their talents in full, one 
would still hesitate to set aside these little things as mere 
melodious trifles or deny that their authors possessed a 
considerable share of the irresistible song-gift. Their love- 
songs may lack, as the love-songs of most of the Kabiwalas 
do, novelty, polish or depth ; but they have a simple 
directness and an untutored nobilit}'^ which is not common 
enough among contemporary songsters. 

Haru Thilkur, however, the next great Kabiwala, dis- 
plays a variety and abundance of poetical accomplishment, 

and his work has fortunately come 
Haru Thaknr. 1738- down to US in a Comparatively large 

bulk. Hare Krsna Dirghadi or 
DirghangT, popularly styled Haru Tlmkur, the adjunct 
Thaknr having been added as a mark of respect, was a 
Brahman among Kabiwalas of generally inferior caste. 
He was born at Simla, Calcutta, in 1738 (1145 B.S.).» 

' Writing in 1854, Tsvar Gupta sajs tliat Haru died at the age of 
75, "more than forty years" before his own time. This would indicate 
that the dates of Haru's birth and death would be roughly 1739 and 
1814 respectively, 

KAinWALAS 357 

His father, Kalyanchandia ' Dlrn^hil'ji sent his son to the 
puth'sala of one Bliairab-chandia Sarkar but liis means were 
not sufficient to g-ive his son a pjood education nor did the 
son seem eager enough to profit by his studies ; for from 
his early years Haru betrayed a greater attachment to 
musical and poetical composition than to monotonous book- 
learning. ^Vhen he was a mere bo}', eleven years old, his 
father died and Haru at once gave up his books and began 
an irregular life of indolent pleasure for some years. But 
he had a natural gift of song and his irregular life had 
brought him into contact with a group of bohemians 
whom he gathered together and formed an amateur Kabi- 
party {aakher dal) under the acknowledged guidance of the 
weaver-poet Raghunatli in whose company Haru had 
obtained his preliminary (raining. It is through 
Raghuniith that Haru fir.^t began to be widely known and 
appreciated, and for Raghu, Haru Tliilkur always cherished 
a deep feeling of respect and gratitude, a fact which is 
amply indicated by his generously putting his master's 
bfianila to some of his own compositions. The story is 
told how Haru got fame and recognition for the first time 
by singing at the palace of Rajil Nabakr^^na, a great patron 
of lettei-s of that time, and how the delighted Rajiv having 
awarded him with a pair of shawls, the proud young man felt 
insulted at being treated like a needy jirofessional Kabiwala 
and walked away throwing the royal gift on the head 
of his own d/nili (drummer). The Rajii however was a 
man of ta.*<te and discernment and had enough sense of 
humour to appreciate the luicommon behaviour of the 
young i)oet ; and it was through the Rajil's advice and 
jiatronage, obtained so ipieerly, that Haru subsetpientlv 
formed a professional party (peisutKiri dnl) although he 

' Called Kalicliaran in Bai\g(>h)\anar Lekhak, vol. i, 367; in 
Otipta-nit noddhdr, p. 10; in Kabioijaladigcr Qlt, p. 6-4. 


always seemed averse to earning money by such a pros- 
titution of his talents. Henceforth Kabi-song became 
his profession and his fame spread far and wide. He 
died at the age of 74 in 1812.* 

It is to be regretted that neither the songs of Haru 
Thakur nor that of his great rival Ram Basu ha^•e been 
collected or critically edited. Isvar Gupta gave us (1854) 
for the first time the largest collection of 45 songs of 
Haru Tliakur (though some of them are mere fragments) 

on the themes of sak/n-sam/'cid and 

No complete col- ,. , rpi r' ; • -7-7- /-r-j 

lection or critical Oira'ia. 1 he KabioynUuhgpr Git 

edition of songs Samgraha (1862) merelv reproduces 

yet pnbhshcd. '^ ' _ ; ^ 

27 of these with the single addition 
of new piece.'* The Gnpta-ratnodiUiar (1894) again, the 
other anthology of Kabi-songs, gives us only 30 pieces 
all taken from Isvar Guj^ta's collections. In PrUchln 
Kahi-saihgraha (1877), the number of Haru Thakur's 
songs is very limited, only 13 being given under his 
name; but of these 13 songs, five or six at least 
have been unanimously attributed in other collec- 
tions to Riim Basu and one, so attributed to Rasu and 
Nrsimha,'' is rightly or wrongly placed under Haru 
Thakur's name. In Prltig'iti, the most extensive modern 
anthology of Bengali love-poems, there are 30 songs 
attributed to Haru Thakur but all of them (excejit two* 
which are apparently new but Avhich are however mere 
fi-agments and do not add much, to Hani's reputation) 

' Nnhyahharnt, 1311, p. 605. But, accordinjj to Kahioyaladiger O'it, 
p. 66 find Sahitya Panaat Patrika, 1302, p. 38-i, following Isvar Gupta 
{Prabhal-ar, Pons, 1261) :.t the age of 75. 

• At p. 134-. But it is sometimes attributed to Ram Basu, 
' At p. 87-79. 

* At p. 119 and p. 397. 

kABlWALAS 369 

are to be lound in otlier collections and one of these ' 
is univei'sally attributed in other collections to Ram Basu 
and one, which is Haru's, is wrongly attributed to Bhabani 
Banik." Ai^ain, much uncertainty still remains, in spite 
of these efforts, as to the question of authorshiji of many 
of these songs, for there is absolutely no means for 
determining with absolute certainty the authorshi}) of 
many a song, variously attributed to various poets. 
What is true of Haru 'J'hiikur is true of every other 
Kabiwala ; and this one instance would sufficiently illus- 
trate the nature and extent of the data one has got to 
handle in dealing with Kabi-pocti-y. 

But a poor collection of -15 songs — all of them not 
of the best and some of them mere fragments — is but a 
sadly diminished and dwindled legacy of the extraordi- 
nary reputation which Haru Thakur has always enjoyed as 

one of the greatest of the Kabiwalas. 
His versatility. '^'^^ soniis which have come down to 

u> mo>tly relate to either of the 
two themes of bira/ia and sikhl-sumhiid; but if we are to 
relv upon the testimonv of Isvar Gui)ta who wrote onlv 
forty years after Haru 'jM'^kur's death, we must admit 
that the great Kabiwala could write with e(iual facility 
and power upon all the other recognised themes such as 

ot/diua/if, hhaljixnl Limi/dk, lahaf and 

His /.i/un- and A/.cud k/uitcl. On the first two of these 
aongrs : testimony of . . .' 

Tsvar Gupta. divisions not a single com)>osition 

of Haru has survived. Tsvar Gupta again tells us 

that Haru could comiiose Wst on the themes of 

" At p. 808. 

• At p. G13. The Sa>'ig~tt.$ar-fafnijrahti and Baiufallr Qan etc. give a 
Belecti n of Kabi-Bonpa ; but they arc later and inferior collectionn 
apparently reprodncing what is given in other special collections and 
therefore are not mentioned here. 


lahar^ and Jcheud, but these songs, although much praised 
in their time for their ingenuitv and verbal music, were 
hopelessly vitiated by bad taste and unredeemed coarseness 
and can be dismissed with the just though severe comments 
of isvar Gupta himself which deserves quotation here ; 

f%^ '^J.'^ f^^ (^^ (^ "5^1% W^'^ ^1% ^f«l^ ^f% ^2it^J 'SRtW 

if^^i:?^ ^f^:^^ ^^^1 ^fffJifffk^ 2i^«i ^f^c«^ 1 " It is no 

wonder, therefore, that these songs have all perished ; 
and time, the exorable judge and destroyer, has preserved 
to us only those songs on biraha and sakJu-saihlad for 

' If Khcud is uuquotabk", luhar is nearly so. As the modern 
reader has no idea of what it is like wo give here a specimen of a 
moderate type — 

"S^ ^°cJi? ^'4 f ^ ^f^ ^tf^ ^rW^ Jiw i^ii II 
f ^ ^tci ^^U3 ^t^ "sitHtr? ift^ ^^t^a ^r^n I 

It hardly requires any comment. This and Khend represents a 
phase of the Kabi-movement over which the critic had better keep 


■' Saihhad P rabhdk a r, Tons, 1, 1261, pp. 5-6. 


whicli Hiini Tliuknr liad been clesorvodly fainoiis and 

wliicli iiulieate, oven in the Fraii'niontaiy and inado(iuate 

s))eciniens wliicli have oonie down, considerable poetic 

power, which cannot he, as it often is, snniinarily damned. 

Leavin(]f aside the uncritical encomiums ol" reactionary 

entluisiasts, on the one hand, and undtie uudervahiino- by an 

eijually enthusiastic seliool of ' modern ' critics, on the other, 

we must admit that even the obviously inadequate and 

insutHcient specimens of Haru 'Fhakur's workmanship which 

have suivived indicate that he had, even 

His poetic f|iirility judged by strict standard, sufficient 

intellifjjence anil poetic ])Ower, in lar<>;er 

or smaller, in clearer or more clouded sha])e, of writing; 

son<i;s and not mere couijeries of verses. Considerin<4' the 

time and the circumstances, this must not be reo^arded 

as a very po<jr or mean praise. That there are obvious 

aiul not inconsiderable defects is true. The subject is 

often trite, the thought a haekneyeil or insij^nilicant one; 

the poet lacks perfect expression and sustained uttemnce, 

is defective in rhyme or metre or other technical (piali- 

ties and has one of the sui>erior charm ami i;race of the 

sreatest Baisnab poets. Hut the indefinable vet unmis- 

takable poetic touch is always there and nothing- but 

su|)erficial or wilfully cai^-icious criticism will pooh-pooli 

its true poetic spirit or damn it with faint praise. 

It is not |K)ssible within the limits of our plan 

to enter into details or, with the space at our dis- 

)>osal, to give extensive (|Uotati(tns which alone would 

bring out the Ijeauty of Haru Thfikur's soni^s. 

But these songs are more or less justly inchuh-il in the 

numerous anthologies of Bengali 
His 9on(f8 on ««fr/u- , „ ^, , 

unmbail. poetry and many of them are known 

bv heart to every one who knows 

Bengali poetry at all. The In'st songs of Ilaru Thukur, 



the merit of wliieli it is im|)o^Jsible to mulerrate, more 
than justify themselves to any one who looks at poetry 
with just and catholic appreciation. 'J'o such a reader, 

^(^, ^t f^5?r^5tff 1%^t^ ^tlt^ ^'l^l ' is not a trifle nor 

^tf^sC^ C^C^ ^X^ ^t^t^ nor Jjf^r^^CT^ si^Z^ 'ifS ^U\W 

"fC^i^m nor ^sftr^ jyf^ i^\ ^W ^T^^t^ ^if^ C^ '^rf^ 

^■W?:^1 nor ^t^5t ^f? t2tt«mf^ ^tf^vst^ nor 1% ^t^i ^t^ 3^^^?^ 

nor many others. We have not space enough for leno-thy 
(juotations but we shall select here two si)eeimens (other 
than those mentioned) from liis sak/ri-samhad.r 

C^f^ f5^«1 ^t^ ^^«1 I »fTt^ f^C^^ tfvBt^ I 
^ 'SffV^ 5|C5{^ 5ft^^ «2,^t9 II 

53rt^c^ ?tf^ ^tf^ ^tW ^tsft's II 

^ ^^^r^l ^«t ^s5 f^P^ ^5^t^ II 
»fJt5I, ^^ ^^ ^T^ C^5{ ^t^^ ^^ 1 

C^t^ ^•^_^ %'^ ^f^ f ^^ft^ 5f^ 

(M'^ '?^T\ n^^ ^f^ ^t«(t^ ^^ ^f^^ 

* Contains ITarn Tliiiknr's master's (Raghn's) bhnvita -. hence 
quoted as Raghn's in Banga Suhitijd Parichny, vol. ii, pp. 1548-49. 

= Samhad Prabhukar, Pons, 1261; Knlioyaladiger G'lt, p. 88; 
Qupta-mtnoddhar,Y>- GO; Snng'it-sar-stimgrdha, p. 1038; also quoted in 
Kabyahhdrat, 1131, p. 602. 


The other is u line piece hut it is sninetiines ;ittrihute<l 
tn Ram Hasu. ' 

^:5-< Jif^cs c^i^ ^f^ 5jC'^, ^r^ 5lT<t^ sf^c^ II 
t^ fV C^5|tl% 3|CT f^^ ^f^, g^^^^itft ^Tm<^ I 

srff^ ^sra; s»t^^ 55? cf 5itJJC^1 Cs-Wt% C^:^<T -smt^ II 

■fTt^, f^Tr»t'5f f^f»f ^^ ^i^ ^tf*i ^'11 "STrf^ c^it^ >T^^ I 

f^>T ^^51 (Tftft ^ C^5t^ fSf^t^ cut Oi]Z^ f^C? ^if^C^ II 

ifw 5f^c^ ^^f^ c^Ks? g^n^ gsf^rftt (?Ft9|1 c^c^ ?^s i 
"trt^, ^s W'i^^ T^c^^ ^ ^f^ ^rt^ ^f^ ^'^n ^*t ^ts i 

^'^^^ >T^t^^T»ft5? ^f%5W^?:5l 3^'tt% ftCJ? f^C^ 51^3 II 

Hani 'nifikiu- is certainly at his best in these sonj^s on 
.'^(ik/ri-.siiiiifjuil anil one, who does not incur the mishaj) of 
lallini; between the two schools alrea«ly aihuleil to, will 
appreciate their charming iniality. His birnha son<]^s which 
at one time enjoye<l and even to-day enjovs an enormous 
reputation and popularity are certainly inferior in (piality 
ai> well as in bidk not only to his xaklil-samhad eonijiosi- 
tions but also to the bivalia sougs of his rival and 

' So attribntcd in Snbyabhurnt, 1311, p. 470 and Janumbhuim 1303-04, 
p. IJ03 : but in all other collections from Isvar Gupta downwards, it 
is assigned to Haru Thdkiir. 1 here are slight differoncca of reading in 
various collections. In some anthologies, the lines beginning with ^ 
e|«T.<n splint are taken as'conatituting a separate song. 


eontemporaiy Rain Basu. These t^onj^s <lo not call for 
detailed comment tliou!j:li some of them are not alto<jfether 

destitnte of merit. There is no 
His hnv//i<( soiip:s. peculiar charm or characteristic feature 

which distinijuislics these songs from 
similar compositions of other Kabiwalas except perhaps the 
fact that there is a sense of disappointment,' of embittered 
feelinp:,^ of sarcastic filoominess^ in tone and temi)er. 
We will therefore close this account with one short j^ece 
which, if not characteristically representative, will illustrate 
sufficiently Haru Thakur's style and manner. 

^fVf% ^-\fk C^^Z^ ^tr^ I 

^51^1 ^^f^ ^f^ C^t^tC^ II 

^^K^ ^w:^\ ^tc^ II 

^-^z^ ^1 (M^ ^^ cm'< I 

^n^ ItWl Sf^Hiv© OfZ^ II 
Nitvananda-das Bairao-T, popularly called Nitai or Nite 
Bairaijl, vouni^jer than Haru Thakur but much older than 

Ram Basu, was one of the famous 

^ITsi-mi^'" ^"^^ popular Kabiwalas of his time ; 

but his fame rested more ujwn liis 
sweet and melodious singing- than upon his poetical 

' See for instance the song '^US\ 5C^ ^^WC^Tl JTtCtfC^I ^!f?lC5 S^t\ ' 
or ' f«FP R^ ^1^ ^^^ C^^' (iiliTJuly (luotod under Kapliunath) or 
• CatTfS ^Kti:"5 i) erftsr^ C^ta -iK^i ^TCfl if^fl ij^ir 

■-' See for instance '^t? •Jt^C? '^T^W •STsJ^' (sometimes attributed 
to Ram Basu), '^ta'^t^ ^1 «»rtC^ ■SttWl ^ f^ ^BtTS C^f TtCil ' or 
^C^|% Wi^US ?^% C«f1 1 

■'See for instance «C5 ^t^ ^^ ^fa C^ ^\^^ ^t^ | or >i)t J^fl «5 


composition. Ih- \vii> :iu expeit sinn'or latlior than 
a i^ood ooinposor o\' words. Hiinsell* an unlettoiotl 
man, lie could liaidiv weave words into music ; hut 
one (lotn- Kabirilj, a native of Simla, Calcutta, ami a 
brjilianian named Xabai 'Fhaku" used to frame sonijs loi- 
him bv wliieli he won so much deputation. Gour Kabiiuj' 
excelled in It'n'ahn and /c/icnd while Nabai Thfikui- had 
more veitjatile i^it'ts, althou<;h he is credited with <;reat 
excellence in his sakfil-tum/ntif. It is dillieult, however, to 
ascertain at this day what [)articular son*? was composetl 
by this or that individual poet ; and even hall" a century 
a«ifo, Isvar (rupta, no mean jud^e, who collecte<l the^e 
son^s only -V-) years after Nitai's death and hatl ampler 
materials than we now [wssess, confessed his inability to 
do so.- All songjs, therefore, which were sunj^ by his party 
now )ro by his name alone. 

Nitai was born at Chandan-na^iar about 17.51 (ll."i8 
B.S.)' in the house of one Kunjadas Baisnab and was 
brou<;ht up in Bai.snabisra. Nothinj^- however is known about 
the details of his life but his fame as a Kabiwala at one 
time sprea4.1 far and wide over tiie prosperous cities and 
villages on the two sides of the Hoo<ily and we read i>ra|)hic 
iuxiounts of the ea»;erness with which people useii to come 
from a i;reat distance to witness the sensational Kabi-Hijfhts 
between Nitai an<l BhabanT Banik, once his i^roat rival.' 

' This Knbirdj iilso used to conijiosi" songs for other purtien. 
Lsik:;;mTnarayan .logi (Lokc Jugi) and Nilu Thukiir were among those 
whom he thiH fiivoured. It hia boon ulrendy noted that one sung 
wliii;^ is often iittributcd to Nitrti bonrs tlie bhunita of RJlmjT. This 
may indiatte, if the song itself id nut Uumji's, that tlic latter wa.s one 
■of the poetical preceptors of Nitai. 

• In Vfiirh'xn Knhi'gaihgrahii , however, two songs are given with 
direct attribution to Xabdi Thakur. 

' See Safnbad Prahhakar, AgrahAyan, 1, ll'fil 
' Ihid, loc. cil. 


But his profession not only broiii^lit him I'aine, it also 
broiinht him monev ; and we are told that he made ^ood 
use of his I'ortune bv spending it in erecting an AUida at 
Chinsurah and a temple at Chandan-natj^ai' where all the 
liivat reiinious festivals were held with pomp and splendoiii-. 
In 18:il,' while retuinin;L;" from the house of the Raja 
of Kasimbazar wheie he had i>one to sinpj durino- the Puja 
festival, he was attacked by illness which pioved fatal and 
he died in the same year at the ureat agje of seventy. He 
had three sons Jaii^atehandra, Riimchandra and Premehandi-a 
each of whom inherited his father's profession, if not his 
talents, and formed Kabi-parties in later times ; but no 
direct descendant of Nitai is alive to-day. 

Like Haru Thakur wliom Nitai resembles so much in 
jjoetical chai-acter, Nitai jiossessed not a small share of the 
iLjift of exquisite sonsy-writin<T. He wrote chiefly on aakhl 
snihOud and Uniha but in both these he shows considerable 
power. We have already quoted one of his beautiful song^s 
in which there is, if not the delicacy of artificial bloom and 
perfection, a strain of the real, the ineffable tone of j)oetry 
proper. Nitili had none of Ram Hasu's rhetorical tendency, 
Knieal nicety or straininii' after studieil effects, but his 
souths possess not a little amount of unconscious freshness 
and beauty of tender sentiment ami expression. Nitiii 
however, like most of his compeers, is a very unequal poet ; 
spasmodic bursts of line lines and couplets iio hand in 
hand with insipid and hardly tolerable verses. Himself a 
Baisiiab Hairagi he, amon^ the Kabiwalas, could more 
suecessfullv imitate the inimitable Baisnab Ivrics but the 
imitation often involves a peculiar lack of jud<;ment which 
makes him reproduce the heresies rathei' than the virtues of 
earlier poets. It is not necessary to n'ive too many 

' 1813 according to Knlivyaladiger 6lt, p. 110. 


t|Uotatioiis but till' l'i>ll«)\vin;n SL-leoted extracts as wt-ll as 
that uivpii on |>. -VM) would illiistr.ite liis merits and defefts.' 

^f^, 31^ "Tfr^^j^i ^i5f^ II 

^f^ f^ "srtf^c^ ^^ ^T?r ^i^ ^^^ ^f^ I 

Nitai's /j/ra/'fi soii«2:s, aiiain, wliicli however are rather 
scantily handed down, are not altogether nt'oljuihlc, 
altiioujjfli they have none ol' the superior nifiit of Ham 
Hasu's hiraha. We select hero two speoimens. 

c.mfi\ CTtit5 r>'?f3(5fT^ 

^ (.^ m'i{\ 'Jt«c^ f^wf ^^icsi 

*f1ijcntc5f st^ n^K«t if^ II 
snisrf ^'tiji c?r^«f CTW'i'il "^t?:?? 

' Sajhfca<J Pni6/iaAv?r, Agmhrtynn, 1261, p. 10. 

* Ihid p. 9. Ouptn.rntnotidhar, p. 198-9 ; A'rt6ioy<l/«</i</T OT/, p. 122. 

^ ibi.f loc. cit.; i6i</, p. 197; <hlj, p. 121. 


Latest born of this o^ronp but intimately connected with 
Hani Thakiir in ])oetical rivalry, in superior rei)utation and 
also in the sin<>'ularly nnsymjtathetic oi-itieism which has 
been lavished from time to time u])on him, is Ram Basn. 
He was considerably youno-er than Haru and Nitai— almost 
l)v fortv-eio'ht and thirty-five years i-ospectively — havino- 
been born about 1786 ; but he survived Nitai by seven 
vears and died only a year before Haru Thakur. His full 
name was Ram-mohan Basn but he was widely and poi)ular- 
Iv known throusfh the abbreviated form of his name, 

Ram Basn. His birth-place was 
Rjim Basn. 1786- Salkia on the n'uht bank of the 


Hoogly and his father's name was 
Ram Loehan Basu. Like every villao-e-boy he was at first 
educated at the village ^vi/^^s'rt/rt and then at the age of 
twelve he was sent to Calcutta to his uncle's (father's 
sister's husband) house at Jorasanko for further education. 
But like Haru Thakur, Ram Basu showed even in his 
earh- vears a marked tendency towards i)oetieal composition 
which made his ambitious father sorry but which brought 
the voung ])oet to the notice of the kabiwala Bhabani 
Banik. BhabanT's training and encouragement made Ram 
Basu realise very early the true bent of his genius. His 
father dying soon after this, Ram Basu had to give uj) his 
studies and became a clerk in some mercantile office. But 
his i)oetical aptitudes ]-)roving too strong, he ultimately took 
u]) the profession of a Kabiwala — a lucrative profession, how- 
ever, in those days — as a regular means of livelihood. At 
first he continued to compose songs and sing for Bhabani, 
later on for Nllu Thakur, Thakur-das Simha and others ; 
but in the end, a few years before his death, he formed 
a party of his own, at first amateur eventually professional. 
Of his character nothing definite is known but Ram 
Basu seems to have been one of those poets who have 



relished thi> life lioartily while lie;ii'til\ believinp; in another. 

He was not a man of ascetic or 

Hi8 tempor ami inelastic temper nor had he taken ni)on 
charactor at oiu'o ivli- ' ' 

gioiis and sensual. himself the mere materialism or the 

satiateil attitude of latter-day i)oets ; 

but he had enou^-h simplicity and inteurity of feelino; 

whici) made him y:ratefiil foi- the joys of life but repentant 

when he had exceeded in enjoyini»; them. Tradition speaks 

of his partiality for one Jajnesvarl,' a songstress of Nilu 

Thilkur's party, wiio was herself a *>ifted Kabiwala of some 

reputation in her time. IJut thouuh he was himself not 

above reproach, he would still satirise with considerable 

frankness and sincerity the reckless younij; men of his time.- 

Indeed Ram Basu's ])oems express, in the most vivid 

and distinct manner, the alternate or rather varying,' moods 

of a man of soft sensibilities, reli<j^ious as well as sensual. 

Ram Basil's ])oems, which however have not come 

down in a more complete or more abundant form than 

Haru Thakur's, divide them.selves in 

Three f^roups of his ^i,j.pp .ryo^uy^^ mkl-virii/Hid, bivaha and 

Ulliimfinl. In all these three depart- 
ments of Kabi-|)oetry he is said to have excelled ; but the 
poems which have survives! in each dej>artment do not dis- 
play an e<iual des^rce of merit. His sonj^s on Kakhl-samloil , 
althouLjh placed by popular opinion in the same rank with 
Haru Thakur's exquisite thinu:s mi tin- same line, are 
certainly much inferior not only to those of hi> rival Haru 
but also, it seems, to those of Nitili Hairaiii. Althou«;h 

' f)f JajAeirari, no details are known ; one or two of liei- songs have 
survived which are noticeable. They will be found in Bai'iyn Sahityn 
Pnrichnya, vol. ii ; also in other anthologies. 

Jiff? 5R ^ ^tJTI f^ "^^^ f^ 1^1 
JT^r* ^r? f^f-11 -^^fH 1WI n^f« 1 



there are some fine ):)ieees which one should not capriciously 

io;nore, ' his sono^s on mkhl-samhai} 

General chamcteris. ^''^ marked by an artificiality of tone, 
tics of Ilia songs es- bv a considemble display of cheap 

pecially of his son{?a . ' . . ' 

on mkh'i.samhad. Higenuity and sometimes by a vul«;a- 

rity of tone and sentiment which very 

often mars his beautiful passages. We have tpioted already 

one song of this type while illustrating the feebleness and 

inadecjuacy of Kabi-songs in reproducing the spirit and 

grace of earlier poetry. Ham Btisu is often regarded as the 

greatest poet of this group : but he is at the same time the 

most unequal poet. Indeed the songs of Ram Basu, in spite 

of their charm and ajijieal, illustrate very aj^tly the utmost 

capacity as well as the utmost limitation of Kabi-poetiy 

in all its aspects. The merits and defects of these 

songs are alike very great. As on the one hand, we 

have, in some of them, considerable simplicity of style, 

directness of expression, vigorous use of the vernacular 

idiom, tenderness and human interest, so on the other, we 

have the almost cloying display of verbal or alliterative 

dexterity, the conscious elaboration of trivial themes or trite 

sentiment, the comi)aratively uninspired use of ornaments 

and conceits — the bane of a long-standing literary tradition 

— and a false and affected taste for the jingle of weakly and 

inharmonious phrases. Coming, as it does, at the end of 

this flourishing period of Kabi-]ioetry, Ram Basu's song at 

once represents the maturity as well as the decline of that 


Taking in the first instance, his songs on sal-Iil-sambud 

in which we find all these merits and defects amj^ly set 

forth. We cannot but admit their inferiority in tone, 

sentiment and exjM-ession as seen in lines like the following. 

' See for instance his sonp lt^ ^? ft^? ^«(r3 *ttf?[^ or 
^^TC^?! ^«(t« Jrf«l etc. 


^c^ ^-i^U Tf^ "^z^ ^^ 'i^ c^^ ^P^ "^^ I 

is a «;oo(l specimen of verbal dexterity but it lacks in i)oetic 
illumination. Then a«?ain note the racy, yet inferior note 
of the following : — 

tilCS? ^?:^ ^^ ^^, C^ ^tC?^ ^«(^ i^fV, 

^f?T «^ f^ 1^ ^ 5[1% C^t^^ ?f<T J^f^ II 

or take even the followin<j: artificial ami hardly iuspirin<r 
lines at one time highly extolled as one of the best pieces 
of Ram Basil . ' 

srt^c^ ^3f^ ^^ ^f^ fsr^c^ ^sn ^c^cs ii 

f^f^ f^ 51^ lilt 'i^t^ ^^ TfV 

^^ f^«(T f^ "srr^ ^f^ of-^ c^U II 

^^ f^ <sim^{\ (Tt^^ ^^^n:??! ^«i c^ff^f sc'^n ^i^cvs n 

>Tt (Tf<j c'^r^ cnr^i 1wi?f ^srrsi cffs m'^ ^\mr5 i 

•5!^ 5(9C?i 1% nt^t^ ^un:^ II 

In his saiAi-saih/jut/, if Kam Basu is not fant;vstic to 
frii^idity, he is often insipid to dullness. If he does not 
disgust, he too often tires. It is very seldom that Ham 

'This song is generally given as IWin Basu's ; but sec Bnuga Sahityn 
Pitrichaf, vol. ii, p. 1152, where it is placed under Harn Thikur's name. 


Basil bursts t'oith into comparatively line liiit-s liLe the 
followin<^ : — 

^ "^ (7\f. W\f^U\ I 
*^^ I 

f^«i %:^ ^f^ taf^ ^fsi 
^«i ^^ 5{^r:^ c^f^^ II 

The above remarks equally api)ly to his biraha songs. 

,. , Listen to this fantastic and loug:- 

Ilis sougs on biralia. _ 

drawn-out complaint of a languishing 

^^ f ^ ^1 vrt^ ^^f ^ C»f^ f ^1 ^ ^tt ^^^tC«tr3 II 
^fw il^t^^ ^f^ ^5{ ^ifk f^t^ ^t«1 ^'tC?! C^«( ^^^t*l I 

^^ c>Tt w^ cff^ ^^»n:^c^ II 

^^•f^^ 5r^^?R5r f^^f^ ^tC^T ^t^si 

^^ ^?B^ ^^»m f^'j; ^:5i{ ^51^ c^f^«=itf^ *f^sj^ II 

K A HI W ALAS :ir8 

*f«l»«Tf f?W ft^ ff^ ^t^ «tiT f^?rC«t« 5fC^ ^«1 II 

^srtfir 9rtfV c^ jff^ ^jp e^^tc© ii 

Jit ^^nfQC^^ ^9^^-R5I 55t5lt^ %1 (7R^ I 
Ga^ lil C^ 5|t^5 JTfV ^>TrS^ 5^ l^^s? II 
'ispl f^^«l f^^*?*! ^C^ ^f^s 5tf^ ^»^cf I 

v©tc^ ^srfs^ ^^^n ■srtf'T ^^^tf^ ^^^5( II 

It is iiii|)ossibIe to mistake the sii^iiifieaiiee of these 
lines and their teiuleiicy to artiticiality. Super-subtleties 
of iui^enuitv are more and more preferred to <^enuine poetic 
imai^ination ; and the true and spontaneous accents of 
poetry are lost. 

Indeed this tendemy towjirds an artilicial rhetorical 
style, this weakness for frigid conceits and for studied 
effects are very marketl throui^houL the sonpj of Rtim Basu 

and debase not a little the true (piality 

LeuninK' towunis rlu- «f '"'J '''''^' ^hcre is a -ood deal of 
toric (Hid iirtitiiiiijity. <jrenuine passion and emotion in his 

sonijs but the artificial expression so 

often i^iven to them makes them lose their projH'r ap|>eal. 

The tricks of the artist are more ap|>arent than the passion 

of the pot't. They administer an exciting plejusnre to the 

eye and the ear but they stddom touch or transport. The 


hirnha of Ram Basu is not the biraha of the Bai'sriab poets 
with its exquisite i)assion and poi^^nancv nor is it the 
biraha of modern poets with its delicacy and refinement. 
It is too much of a verbal contest, of a frivolous and auda- 
cious linguistic strife of X\\e pragalblia heroine. The power 
of sarcasm is undoubted but fierce banter, mawkish senti- 
mentalism or piercin^^j irony forms its essence; and there 
is too much of ''bite," of ah and alas of ostentatious 
distress to be at all touching, as in the following » : — 

C^f^ ^T^t^ Tt'^n ^C^^ ^^t^ ^^ C^5f ^t^tC^ II 

^^ st^ -siK^ c^W^ ^t^ ^tf%^ II 

\X^ C^5i^ ^rt^ ^^1 fw?3l l^t^^ ^t^ (7\ ^^ C^C^ ^\^ 11... 
^^ ^t^^tf^ (M C^^^ C^^t^ ^tPT ^t^ ^*1 II 
-sjt^t^ ^t ^^t^ ^^1 ^*t ^^ ^tr^ "^m^ I 

^%S\ iWl^ C^tm^ ^t«l t^^ >5|^*1 ^^ I 

1 Ml these specimens are taken from Saiiihad Pmbhakor. Some of 
them are reproduced in Sanglt-sat; vol. ii. 



^Tt^t^ *ff^C^ C^t^1 Cff^*f^ f ^ff"* ^^^ I 

'Itf^ CT ^C^ ^C^^ "sC^, (ijsi^ "sit^ c^ ^^ 

"5rt5it<j c^^ ^^^ c^rnsi 

iw5» c>rt c^t^t^ ^soc^ ^j^-^^ m^^] f\^ 
■~i\u\ ^U^^ ?FTrf c^t^l ^t's II 

■srrf^ Mc^ r^ f^^t^ ^nff I 

Jjf^l ^?7F C5tC*i C^C^ k^ff I 

•^rpiT^J fJt'f^K'f^ '51 «T^ "»t^ ^^, fi^ 5i(f5 C^ f^'J'J^ I 

There i?; also ponietimes a teinlenoy to elalwnite Hidao- 
tic or symbolical form of expression.' 

' Pritiglfi, pp. 74-75 ; Soiuj'it-mr.itnt'n()rnhn, vol. ii, p. 10 1(). 
This didactic tendency the Knhiwnlns i)rf»bably j?nt from thp writrm 
of the devotional sonps, who from Rrimpm««<l downwnrdH often 


^^ 5f^^ Tt^'^t 1%^ ^iti 

c^^l ctf^^ W7§ c^z^\, w-^z^ ^\ ^ ^^t?:^ II 

C(2|5i^^i:^ ^t^^ ^^^ ^'if^ c^t^l c^U^ I 
^ 9lti:^ ?-^5^^ :^-\7\7{\ c^f*t ^^ f^?:?i 5itfii^ ^ 

It is not necessarv to multiply quotations which have 
already become too len^jthy but these aspects of Riim 
Basu's sonojs (in particular his hiraha song-s) have been so 

often Ignored tiiat critics have gone 

But his charm nnd ^^ the leui-th of (leclarino- that the 
poetic spirit. ^ '^ 

songs in question^ smart and ino-enious 
thono-h they are, ai'e the most beautiful specimens of Kabi- 
son*^. Beautiful specimens Ram Basu's hiraha sono-s are 
but they are such only when Ram Basu rises above these 
fatal faults and depends upon the strength of his natural 

indulged in this vein. Ram Baau very dexterously makes use of 
colloquinl idiom, even of slaii^, but he sometimes carries the 
tendency to the extreme, e.;;., ' ^(1% ^fSf| «fSl ?^1 C'^CT?! ftH ' I 
' f^ft^ C^W 1t1 C^C? I \m ^^ t?RT 5U^ ^51 fsraj (TTS, ^ 5^ 
C^^ ^^ f^ W5 ?f«tJ1 (.W.^^ I 9C*r^ C5C? "^f^ ^|cl ^tsi Cf ^^ CK>5Cf ll" 
• ^tfJI S\-^ ^\^^ (.''W^ C«f^^ ^f^ ' etc. 


poetic ^•eniiis. It is allowable and tlesirable to pick thesp 
u^ly weeds out of the fjanlen ; but unfortunately these 
unwelcome lirowths too often choke anil destroy the 
charm even of his beautiful pieces. It is very seldom that 
wo fird exquisite and spontaneous utterance in Rjim Basti 
but when we liml them there is nothing- better in the 
whole ratine ul" Kabi-poetry. Son;;s such as the following- 

^sr^t^ ^^ ^r^ c^ c^ ^tc^ ^f^ ^f^ ^^1 ^^ sn i 



in^Ts 5?r5ts ^rsfs 2jt'Rt'i, ^^^ ck^ c^q ?n i 
fkff^ ^:]7f ^t^ j^^ m^ ^t^ ;n I 

and many other fine thinf^s are often quoted and 
praised and they deserve quotation and all the praise 
that have been bestowed upon them. They are too 
well-known to require comment or quotation a}>ain here 
and thev may be found in almost all selections of Benpali 
donijs. But one or two of the less well-known may perhaps 
be welcome apjain. 

C^5l¥t^ C'Sm ^rs, ^t«1, f^^*^ '^t^ 'b\^r.M>'l^ I 

sfc^<j ^s f^T^B^ ^t^t^ "sr^c^J *^"f^ 

Tjrs]-^ f^^ ^ JT^^^ fn^Z^ II 

^^ fT^ fip ijcj (Tff^ TTt'fC^s CM1 «tt«l I 


3ICS? sf^ sjj^t Q?:«t ^tfsi ^^^^ ^^ ^srt^ m_^ 1% i 

'SI?:^^ fvfC?^^ 'srfslt^ C^tC^ ^fr^^ \5tf^ I 

c^■s[^ ^t^ ^R, ;2tt*i, ^f^ ^^i^ 1 

^'^fi^ f^^^ ^t^^ JTt^j:^ ^t^^i:^ ^^r< f^ II 

Rilm Basil's hiraha soiii^.s have been more than once 
eritieiseil on the <^roand of itr^ alle^eil immoral tendency. ' 
There is no iloubt, as we have i)ointe(,l, too much of 

frivohtv, s^rossness, viHHcation, anda- 

Thc alleged immoral ^j^^ smartness of repartee and pnr- 
tendency ot ins songs ' ' ^ i 

suit of selfish pleasure in most of 
these soiifi^s and that there is an indecorous laxity of ex- 
pression, an improper looseness of style which debases the 
quality of these songs ; but the point is too often ignored 
that what is cxjiressed in these songs is not the love of 
the analytic and self-questioning artist or the refined rap- 
ture of the idealist but the love of the natural man with 
all the force and crudity of its natural passion. Love in 

' Chandrasekhar MukhopjXdliyay, Sarnsvnf-Ktifija (essay on Ram 
Basu's bimha) . also see Preface to Ratyohhandai- by the same author. 


tl)is poetry does not die in dreams nor is it tronbled with 

;i deep philosopliv or bored with its 
bnt their oxprossioM • i i- 

of gemiino luunaii uwii uU'uMty, soaring" into va^'ue 

passion. passion or indefinite pantlieism. It 

is strong, naturalistic and direct, if also a little boisterous, 
un-reHned and (.'ven L^ross. It is surely too much to 
brin^' in moral considerations for judiiment upon this 
honest cry of the erotic passion 

f^ %?I C^tl ^'\^U ^tf^^ ^^ II 

tt^^ (?n^ c^m ^^ 

fe^ ^tf^ '^(tu\ ^i^n 

ttfk^l ^^ ^^ ^^ tt^ '^'\^ II 

or of 

^u^ ^sifrr? ^ (TTi^j^^t^i ^tc^ ^t^ ^^"g ^^ I 
I'j^ ^Ot ^1^ c^ "srifji ^z^ 

(7\ rtfjf (Trt*( "©tf^T ^U{^ WC^ 

nor is it i)ossil)h' tu underrate the i)alpitannfj humanity of 
tilt' followiui*; oft-tpiott'd lines which may be (juotc*! a«;ain 

^tf^^i f^^it^ ^ic^n f^^t^ 

it f^^ ^ ^-'f i^ro^i? I 

^t^ CfCg f 1^ II 



^fl^ C^^ ^^ R'f WC-^ T^C^ C^'^si 5^ I 
«rf^t^ 5Tf ^ 5^1 5t^ ^?1 ^C^ '^Itf 

c^R c^^ f^a ^^^t^ f%r?T c^R ^ I 

To condemn these expressions of the franker and simpler 
moods of the passion itself is unjust and canting prudery ; 
and the whole controversy over the question of moral 
tendencv would seem to one to be a sisjual instance of the 
wrono; thing- in the wrong place. It is more than useless 
or irrelevant either to read austere morals into these poets 
or damn them for their want of morals. To anyone who 
can appreciate the honhomie of Kabi-poetry, the songs 
remain and remain yet unsurpassed, inspiteof its very direct 
plain-speaking (or coarseness if you will) according to 
modern standards, as the most frank expression of physical 
affection, of the exceedingly human, honest and natural 
passion of the man for the woman. The amatory fashion 
of the world passeth but instead of undervaluing it or 
sneering at it when it is gone, let us appreciate the reality, 
force and naturalness of human passion wherever and in 
whatever shape it may be found. 

The ugamanl songs of Ram Basu, even more than his 
birnha songs, have all along enjoyed a reputation never yet 
sur])assed ; and this reputation they certainly deserve. 

The sakhl-aamhad and liraha songs of 
His atiiunam other Kabiwalas may approach or 

challenge comparison with those of 
Ram Basu; but in agamanl Ram Basu is undoubtedly 


supreme.' The secret ol" his excflleneo in this respect lies 

in the fact that in most of these soiin's Rfiin Basil the 

poet atitl the iiiaii rises superior to Hum Hasn the mere 

literary craftsman, and that sincerity, 

Its sincerity, siiiipli- naturalness and simplicity constitute 
city and biuiinn in- p i • i x • 

terest. the essence or his charm. It is not 

the superhuman ]>icture of ideal good- 
ness hut the simple picture of a Ben;^ali mother and 
a daughter that we find in the Meuaka and Umii of Ram 
Basu. We seem to hear the tender voice of our own 
mother, her anxious solicitude for her daughter, her 
weakness as well as strength of affection in lines like 

^r?Jl-?t^l c^U5 ^^m^ ^t^i ^t^i c^ti^ ^^ I 

^srt^T^ C^ «1^l-rt^1 f^sJ^rc^^ ^U\ fkfk ^c^ f^^t^ i 
^ w^^^m ^tfc^ 5n sn 511 c^'R'fi I 

Menakii has repeatetlly implored her husband to bring 
back her daughter whom she has not seen for over a year ; 
but her husband being api>arently ai)athetic, the neglected 
daughter has come of herself and the tender heart of the 
mothei- bursts foil h in gentle reproach upon the poiidi'rously 
indifferent father. 

' A short comparative account of the ngnmau'i of IWin Has^n, Kamalt- 
kSnta and Dilsnmthi Ray will ho found in Rhdrtitbari;o, Kartik, 1325, p. 
712. Thp earliest recorded Adamant sons? is that of R(Tm Prasad, and 
in this respect the Kabiwalas mwst have lK>en considerably inflacncetl by 
R&m PrasAd, Kanmlakuntn and other writers of devotional songs. 


m^U of^c^ TT^t^ ^^fs^ ^^ ^1^n^ C5n?:w I 
^f^ T%^f^^ ^^ ^ ^C^ <il^ c^ 

And nothiug can be more forcible than this sinii)le yet 
touching- reproof 

^t^ ^fif sitft vstt ^,f^ ^5^ I 

In most of the agamaui songs of the Kabiwalas, the 
anxious mother dreams of her absent dauo-hter. In Hiim 
Basu the dreams are not bad or sfloomv dreams but dreams 
of joyful anticipation or tender foreboding. 

^m\ (7f^ 'srrsiT^ ^^K^ I 

c^t^ ?fs ^r^%w I 

"mT^ 5^t^ ^"ftr^ ^1 cf tc^ ^1% 

^5rRc^u« ^f^ ^tf^ 5i?i II 

It is impossible to underrate the simplicity, tenderness 
and beauty of these lines. There is no touch of orna- 
mental rhetoric, no artificiality, nor is there any retined 
rapture or jihilosophic dejjth in these lines. They embody 
the simjile utterance of a simple heart. What is daily 
observed and what is natui-al supply the essential ingredient 
of these songs ; and if the test of poetic power be its 


capacity of makiiifif tlie common aj? thoiin;h it were 
uncommon, then suiely Kani liasiu was a poet in the tiiie 
sense of the term. 

After fuinnoratiiii^ those <;reati'r nanu'.s, which citation 
however docs not exhaust the poetical ridies of this remark- 
able perioil, we come to tho lesser poets who accomi>anie<.l 
or came behind them. It is, however, not necessary for 
us to embark ii> detail upon the history of Kabi-poetry 

after this period ; for after IS.U), Kabi- 

isax"^'''**^""^' "^''' I'^^'^'T lan-uished in the hands of the 

less inspireil successors of Ilaru, 
Nitai and Ram Basu. It continued 
even up to 1S80' to be a very popular form of 
entertainment ; but it rapidly declined, if not in (piantity, 
at least in (piality. Of this belated i^roup, Nilu and Kam- 
pi-asad 'rhakur,-' Anthony or Antonio the domiciled 
Portuguese songster,"' Thakurdas Siiiiha,' Thakurdas 

' To wimt do£ri-ii<lcd stuto Kabi poetry had (losccnrlcd by tbat timo 
may he realisod by reading the velicmently dLMiounciiig ailitlo on Kalii- 
poetry wliicli appeared in Bandhcib, Pons, 1282 (1875), p. 207. 

- Nilniani and Rdniprasad Clniknibarli lived at Simla, Calcutta. 
NTlu was the yonnger of the two brothers. Several songs sung in their 
|)arty are given in Piachln Kdhitniihgnihn at pp. 3G, +3, W, 72, 89 etc. 

* Anthony or Anthony Firingi is said by Riijnarayan Uasu in his 
Ekul () St'kal to be of French e.xtraction. He lived at (Jareti near 
Chandannagar and at one time his Kabir dal was very famous. He is 
said to have fallen in love with a Brahman woman whom ho married and 
through whom he was converted into Sec for details 
Dinesh Chandra Sen, B<iiu/'ibhrt»a O Sahitya, 3rd Ed., pp. 627-028, Bni'ujn 
Sahitija Parichaij (some of his songs (pioted),p. 1576; Xabynhhaint, 1312, 
pp. l(H-98 ; BtiKjer Kubita, i>p. 318-22 ; Buiujnbha^ar Lekhak, pp. 

♦ Not much is known al>out him but he was a contemporary and 
rival of Anthony. See Sahyahhrtrnt, 1312, pp. 645-616. IMm Ba«u 
used to com|K)se for his jwrty ; see Pinchln Kubi Siintyralm, pp. 38. Wt. 
51), 68. 


Chakravarti/ Thakurclas Datta,- and later on Gadadhar 
Mukhopildliyay' and even Isvar Gupta ^ obtained consider- 
able re])utation as Kabiwalas or composers of kabi-son«j;s but 
we also hear of a host of others — Nilniani Patani,"' Bhola 
Mayara/ ('hinta Mayara, Jag;anuath Banik, Ltldhaba 
das, Laksniikiinta or Laksmlnaravan J<>i^i (Loke Jugi), 
Goraksa Nilth,' Guro Dumbo/*^ BliTnidas Millakar, 

' Born in 12U9 B. S. (1S02 A, D.) in the district of Nadiya. Uo 
never formed his own party but composed chiefly for Antoin-, Bholfi, 
Balariini Bai-siiiib, Nllniani Pataui and Kamsuiidar Svarnakar. For 
details see Nubyabhnmt 1312, pp. 641-48. Some of his sougs are given 
in Prach'ui Kahisdmgralui, at pp. 23, 32, 37, o2, 73, 91 and in Gupta- 
ratnoddhar, pp. 261-261. 

- Born in 1207 (1800 A. D.) at Byatra, Howrah. Sec yabi/uhharat, 
pp. 643-44 ; Bauyahhai^ar LcklutJ:, pp. 325-327. 

^ Composed for the party cf Kauilochau Basak ol Joraiisanko, who 
was the rival of Mohan Chand Basu. Also composed for Bhola, Nilu 
Thakur and Xilu Pataui. See his songs quoted in Prachln Kahisarhgraha 
at pp. 21, 27, 36, 50, 64, 72, 89, 94, 115, 118, 121, 128, 130 etc. ; also 
in Gupta-rat nod dliar, pp. 213-247- 

* His Kabi-songs are quoted in Gupta-ratnoddhar, j)p. 247-261 ; alsoa 
few in Frachln Kuhisamyraho. 

■' Uam Basu, Gadadhar Mukhopadhya}' and various other poets 
composed for him. See Pmrhln Kabisamgraha, pp. 27, 28, 64, etc. 
Sonic of his own songs are given in G upta-ratnoddhar, pp. 208-9. 

" Was a sweetmeafc-vendor at Bagbazar. He was a disciple of Uaru 
Thakur's. See for details Bharat'i, 1304, pp. 59-66. Nnbyabhdrnt, 1314, pp. 
67-73. Banger Kabita, loc. cit. Some of the songs sung in his party are 
given in Pirtc/i7» Kniiiaomgraha at pp. 21, 37, 50, 67 etc. Jaganuath 
Banik was his great rival. 

' Gorak.sanath was a "composer" of Antony's party but subse- 
(luout)}' quarrelled with him and formed his own party (see Xabyabharat, 
1312, pp. 194-198 ; ibid 1313, pp. 577-78). Ramunanda Nandi was one of 
his rivals. Gorak-sanath's sons are given in Gupta-ratiioddJiar, pp. 294- 
296 ; and in FracJun Kubisay'ngahn, pp. 48, 70, 110 etc. 

• Pruch'tn Kabisamgraha, p. 66. 


Balarilm Das Kri|»rill/ llamsumlar Svarnakfir,- Mat! 
PasSrI, Hosain Kliiin,^ Parantlas and Udayilils, Kilna 
Mahes,* MohaiicluXiul Basu,'' llainananJa Nandi,° 
Krsnamohan Bliattaeliilrya/ Jayniiiayaii Baiidyopridhyily, 
Knjkisor Bandyopadhyiiy/ Srilii Ray'-* and Man-moliaii 
Basil. "^ It is not possible nor desirable to enuniei-ate all 
the names ; but the extraordinary fertility and popularity of 
this poetry will be sufiieiently indicated by the list of names 
already cital. It is, however, like the swarming of Hies in the 
afternoon lethargy and fatigue of a glorious day. There 
is, no doubt, occasional sprinkling of good verses as well as 
a general diffusion of the poetic spirit thinned and diluted 

' Livcdiin Chandnunagar. His daaghter's son Kr^nadus was a 
Kabiwala. Prachln Kabisamgraha gives somo songR sung in his party 
but they are not of his own composition. 

* Was a clerk in some office but subsequently became a Kabiwala. 
He lived at niclkata Gully, Calcutta. Several songs sung in his party 
will be found in Pmch'ni Kabisumgtaha. 

' Was the founder of Ttirju. Moti Pasiirl was his rival. 

* His name was MaheS Chandra Ghoj, a Ktlyastha. He irtm 
born blind ; hence the nickname. For details see Nabyabharat, 
1313, p. 203-207. 

' Was tlic founder of Ha}vikliflrii Kabi. His special creation was the 
Clfi^^f^ ?^- See preface to Mnnmohan O'ltuhal'i and Ramnidhi Gupta's 
Gltaratna. He was a disciple of Nidhn Bnbu's who however was not a 
Kabiwala. Also see preface to Prachln Kabigat'ngraha. 

' Was a disciple of Nitai BniriigT. For details see Nabyabhurat, 
1313, pp. . -375-579. 

' His songs are given in Putchln Ktibiaaingraha, and in a collected 
form in Ctuptamtncxhihar, pp. 281-203. 

' The songs of Jayamirilyan and KAjkisor are given in Prachln 
KiibisaAtgrnha ; also in Guptaratnoddhar at pp. 2G4-269. 

* For details about his life etc., see yabynbharal, 1314, pp. 65-67. 
Banga BhaJtnr Lekhak, pp. 379-80. His songs are given in Guptaratnod- 
dhar at pp. 275. 279. 

'" Was quite a "modem." Not a Kabiwala strictly speaking bat 
comjwsed for Kabi, Hup.akhdai and PUmchdli. See Monmohan Qitaban 
for his songs. 



it may be in course of time ; but taken as a whole the later 
poetry is merely imitative and reproductive of the earlier 
and does not reward patient and detailed study. Not 
much of it can bear very well the beauty-truth test 
implied in the famous line of Keats. Nor are there 
materials enouii;h to trace their systematic history in 
this period. Li tone and temper as well as in poetic 
expression it declined considerably ; and with the advent of 

HUj)-UliIidai first set in fashion by 
Hap-akhdai and Turja. Mohanchiiud Basu * and of Tarja 

popularised by Hosain Klmn, the form 
itself as well as its spirit went through striking changes. 
These songsters no doubt kept up and still keeps up the 
native trend in poetry but in themselves they never reach 
that high level of literary excellence which would make 
them worthy of the attention of posterity. It is therefore 
not necessary to drag these inferior poets and their poems 
from their deserved obscurity or devote tedious pages to 
their comparativelj^ uninspiring annals. 

' For a history of this see SamhUd Prahhrdar, Agrahiiyan 8, 1261. 
and preface to Manviohan G'ttabari. 

chaptp:r XI 

Love-lyrics and Devotional Songs 

Lcaviiif; aside tlie new i)rosc-\vritiiifr> the period of 
Beiifjali Literature between 1700 and 1830 may be not 
unlitly described as a lyrical interval in which a multitude 
of productions, varied j^rave and i^ay ditties, /^-aht, iappu!>, 
t/atru, partichali, (Viap, klr(au, haul, devotional son<;s and 
exquisite bits of love-lyrics were pouring upon the literary 

world a ilood of delicious harmony. 
* 1 • • t„...nii>„ There is, no doubt, a sprinkling of 

A lync interval be- ' j i o 

twccn 17G0.1S30. narrative and deseri})tive verse of the 

more serious type, but barring this, 
every poet was a natural vocalist and never there was a 
time when little songs were more abundant. Although 
carelessly fashioned, these charming little things possess 
all the attributes of a succesiful song and seem to be alive 
with the energy of music. Even the most insignificant 
person in this synod of latter-day poets has a constant 
tendency to break unawares into singing and catch the spirit 
of melodv which seemed to be in the air. The spirit 
itself is not so common and the gift of song-making not 
so usual ; let us therefore value them while they are here 
and jrivethem their due homaLje. 

One specific and important phase of this song-literature 

is representeil by [ap)ia-^Y\\^xyi who 
Trtj>pa-writcrs. posscss this vocal (piality in no mean 

decree ; but to manv a modern reader 
the exact signification of the term iappa seems to have 

been lost. A /<VV>tT is genei-ally taken 
Meaning of the wonl ^^ ^jg ^ mclodious trille, a savourv 

little lyric of the erotic typo in whinn 


eroticism connotes wanton or ribald sensuality. Taj)j)a, 
however, is a technical term which denotes, like dhnipnd 
and khei/al, a specific mode or style of musical, com position, 
lighter, "briefer yet more variogattd. Etymologically 
derived from a Hindi word which means * tripping ' or 
'frisking about' with the light fantastic toe, a tajjjm means 
a little song of a light nature.' It is more condensed than 
dhrvpad and kheyZd, having only ust/iUi/i and antara, and 
certainly more lively. Being essentially a specific style of 
musical composition, songs of all sorts, erotic, devotional 

or otherwise, may be composed in 

Its characteristic this style : but it was suited by its 
quality and inipor- •' 

tance. very nature for lighter love-songs and 

in Bengali at least it had established 
itself peculiarly and principally for that purpose. As its 
name imphes and its history shows, the ia})})^ is not indi- 
genous but it was imported from abroad. It deals with 
the " minor facts " of art unable by its form and nature 
to compass the " major '^ : but it has a distinct value as an 
entirely novel mode of art and as a protest against the 
conventional literary tradition. 

When Nidhu began to sing — and Nidhu Babu is the 
earliest important top])a-Vs'x\itY of whom we have any 
record — we have, on the one hand, the dictatorship of 

Bhiirat Chandra and of Eam-prasiid, 

A new trend in song- on the other, the flourishing period 
literature. tip r» 

of Kabi-poctry and other lorms ot 

' See JogeS Chandra Ray, Baitgula Sabda-kosn under tappa. In 
Snngit tansen (1299 B. S., pp. G6-69) two styles of musical composition 
arc mentioned— D/ir((pfl(? and Raiig'm yan; under dhrupad there arc 2-1 
varieties while Rangtn gati is of 50 kinds. Kheijal and (appu are said to 
be varieties of the latter class. In Sangti-7-ag-l-al jmdrum hy Krsnfinauda 
Byas (Suhitya Parisat ed. 1916, vol. Ill, p. 294), Nidhu Babu's tappas 
are comprised under Bungala Raiig'm Oan. rf7ppa, unlike Kahi, Pamcholi 
or Yatra, was essentially Bnifhak'i gan (or songs for the drawing room) 
which was appreciated chiefly, if not wholly, by the upper classes. 


popular literature. If the date of Bliarat Chandra's 
death be 17(')0 and that of l{ a few years later, 
RiXninidhi Guiita must have been at that lime a \ouii<r 
man of ninetetii or tuiiity : and the inlluenee of Bhfira- 
Chaiidra and Kiim-prasiid existed widely thronj^hout this 
period even down to the middle of the 19th century. On 
the other hand, all the earliest Kabiwalas and PiiiMchali- 
kars were Nidhu Biibu's contemj)oraries, for the latter 
lived up to 1838. Nidhu Bfibu therefore and most of the 
^7jy;a-writers who followed him were horn and bred up in 
the midst of the conventional literary tradition which these 
two characteristic jihases of contemporary literature 
represented. But Nidhu Babu followed neither of these 
beaten paths ; he struck out into an entirelj' novel and 
original line. "With the examples of Bhiirat Chandra's 
Bidyasninlar and of Riim-prasad's devotional songs on the 
one hand, not to speak of the isolated imitations of still 
earlier styles, and with Kabi-giin and other forms of 
jx)pular litei-ature, on the other, Ramnidhi chose to inaugu- 
rate a new type of love-poetry in Bengali, in imitation of 
Hindi ^appa and k/iei/al, no doubt, but with a consider- 
able indication of an original vein. Considering the 
uncpiestioned dominance of the current schools and traditions, 
it is no little or mean indication of courage, originality 
and genius to establish a new mode of art ; and in this 
respect the importance and originality of Nidhu and the 
ffl/>/Ju -writers can never be exaggerated. 

The characteristic charm and value of these /<V//a7.*, there- 
fore, lies in the fact that they are 

Its freedom and spontaneous and free. They are not 
Bpontancity. i i .• i i 

nampere<l [)y time-honoured conven- 
tions nor do they pay any homage to establishe<l schools 
and forms of art. They speak of love, no doubt, an eter- 
nally engaging theme with jtoets of all times, but they do 


not speak of I3id\ a. and Sundar or oi' Radha, and Krsna. The 

poet look;> into his own heart and writes; he sings of 

his own feelings, his own "joys and sorrows, his own 

triumph and defeat; he does not seek the conventional 

epic or narrative framework for the expression of what 

he thinks and feels nor does he take refuge under the 

cloak of paraklt/a bhab which earlier poets thought 

essential. The exquisite lyric cry becomes rampant and 

universal. Ancient literature is mostly 

and assertion of the obiective, if not always narrative and 
personal element. " 

epic ; the inward feeling seldom or 

never out-tops the outward, vision ; and whatever the poet 
speaks of himself he expresses through his suitable mouth- 
pieces. "With the (nf/j^jJ-writers came an outburst of the i)er- 
sonal element, an overflow of sensibility, an enfranchisement 
of the passion and the imagination : for the universal heart 
of man must be touched through what is most personal and 
intimate. The sense of the difficulty and complexity of 
modern problems is, no doubt, absent in them nor do they 
possess the finish and refinement of modern lyrics, yet 
the («j9;j(7-writers foreshadow^ in their own way that ins- 
trospective element which has since developed itself in such 
ijreat measure — some think out of all measure — in modern 

The tapiju-wviiexi^, therefore, jiossess originality at an 
epoch in which nothing of great value was being produced 
in poetry ; they attempt at simple and natural, though not 
colloquial, diction and write with an easy and careless 
vigour; they are truthful to nature and avoid frigid 
conventionality and classicality. But they had as much 

of the new spirit as their readers 

Novel aiul migin.U were then fit lor; and thouuh their 
but not entirely nio- ' 

dern. work Contained the seeds of the im- 

pending change of taste, it is an 


absurditv to roinesent thorn as thorou<»liIy revolutionary 
or entirely "modern." Uoiiarded from the standjioint 
of form, their son^-s incline more to the old than to the 
new. They write with ease and naturalness, no doubt, but 
the varyini>; mea.sures and melodies of the coming- a<;'e 
were not for them. Li ideas and ijeneral tone also thev 
did not venture to <>o beyond certain limits. They pre- 
serve in a dei»:ree the old i)Osture ami the oUl manner. 
But in spirit and temper, if not in anythiuiij else, they 
herald the new a^-e. The contrast between them and 
writers like Jayniirilyan Gho.siil, who was almost contem- 

poi-aneous, will exhibit the whole 
Intermediate place difference between the old and the 

between the olcl ami 

the new spirit. new poetical instincts. They were, 

therefore, like intermediaries between 
tiie old and the new poets and, although castin*^ a lint>erini;' 
look behind, they stand at the threshold of the now a<40 of 

Kfimnidhi Gupta (or simply and endeariuiily Nidhu 
Bubu) was the earliest and by far the most important 

writer of this t^rou}). There was a time 

Riimnidlii CJiiiita or , . ^ • ^ , • 

Ni.lh.i Bal.u, the ear- ^^'l^" I'^'OP'^' ^^'^'"^ "1*0 OCstasiOS OVOr 

liest and most impor- Xjilhu Habu's sou'^s and sin^in"-. 
tant tapp<i.v,Titer. 

It is not clear wiiether Nidhu Babu 

was the first dealer in this new species or whether it was ho 
who introduce<l it into Bengali ; but the extraordinary 
power which he disjjlayed and tho enormous popularity he 
enjoyed justify the hi^h euloijy l>estowed ujion him by his 
•glorious nickname " the Sori Mina of Bonijal." As a 
result of the capricious instability of chan^in<^ taste, Nidhu 
Babu's song;s are sometimes severely deprecated to-day 
and seldom read; yot from the artistic as well as histori- 
cal stand|)oint, these net!;lectetl son«:?s, it must be admitted, 
lK)ssess considerable value and importance. 


Rfimnidhi Gupta was born in 1741 A. D. (ll-iS B. S.) 
in the house of his maternal uncle at the village of Chaujpta 
near Tribenl.* His father lived at Kumartuli in Calcutta 
where Xidhu's descendants still reside. Nidhu came with 

his father to Calcutta in 1747 where 
he learnt Sanscrit and Persian and 
also a bit of English from a missionary.- Through the 
efforts of his co-villager Kamtanu Palit, dewan of Chhapra 
Collectorate, he obtained ^ in 1776 the situation of a 
clerk in the same office where he continued for 18 years. 
He gave up the post through a difference of opinion 
with his official superior Jaganmohan Mukhopadhyay 
who had succeeded Ramtanu in the office of the dewan, 
and returned to Calcutta. "While residing in Chhaprii, 
Nidhu used to learn the theory and practice of music from 
an expert Mohammedan musician but on finding after 
some time that the master was unwilling to impart his 
knowledge to such a quick-witted disciple he gave up 
Mohammedan music and himself began to compose 
Bengali songs on the pattern of Hindi iappas. He 
married thrice in 1761, in 17t)l, and in i794 or 1795. 
By his first wife he had a son who died early ; but by 
his third wife he had four sons and two daughters, of 
whom the eldest son and daughter and the voun2:est 
died in his life time. He lived almost for a century 
and died at the verv advanced age of 97 in 1839.'* 

' These biographical details are gathered from various sonrces 
but chiefly from the account written by Isvar Gupta in his Samhnd 
Proi^/idArtf (Srilban 1261 B. S.) from which is compiled also the life 
prefixed to the 3rd edition of Nidhu Babus OJtaratna, published in 
1257 B. S. 

» KUrayan, Jaistha, 1323, p. 739. 

" Journal of the Bengal Academy of Literature, vol. i, no. 6, p. 4. 

' For more details, see my article in Sahitya Pnrisat Patrika, 
1324, pp. 108-110. 


Duriiiii' tlie tinu' lie liwd in Calcutta he obtained 
ponsiderable popularitx b\ his music aiul his sonii'. ' A 
big shed was erected at liattahl Shobhabazar when Nidhn 
use<.l to sing every nij^ht before an appreciative assembly 

of the ridi and the elite ol" Calcutta; 

His i>opularitv , • -p . 

subsequently the sitting was shitted 
to the house of Rasikchand GosviimT of Bagbazar. N^idhu 
Babu was never a i)rofessional singer; but he was eagerly 
sought for and respected by the highei' social circles of 
the then Calcutta. Though himself only an amateui- 
and not a Kabiwala, it was chieHy through his efforts 
that in ni-2-13 B. S. a "reformed" aklidai party was 
established in Calcutta. Mohan Chiind Basu of Ba^bazar, 
who first introduced //~tj/-ai-//dai and set the tide against 
the fashion of hidi and al:/idai, first learnt the new 
style from Xidhu Biibu whom he always respected as his 
master.' We also learn that Nidhu was a man of y-rave 
and sedate character but of contented and cheerful dis- 
}K)sition. There are rumours about his partiality for 

one Srimati, a mistress of Mahariija 
Mahananda of Murshidabad ; but 
his biographers ' take pains to show that this was nothing 
more than the intimate feeling of cordial friendship.' 
Nevertheless many of his love songs were inspired by 
her and composed in her honour'. 

' That Nidhu Bilbu was an expert inuBic-iau and thnl the niusicul 
quality of his songs was of a very high order is indicated by the fact 
that Kr?riananda included nearly 150 songs of Nidhu Hi'ihu in his great 
•yclopicdia of Indian songs. In any estimate of N'idhu Bflbu's 
tappa.i, this feature can never be ignored. 

- Prefatorj- life in Ollaratna : also Sutiilad Piabhiikar, loc. cil. see preface to ilanmohan Gltaban. 

* Prefatorj- life in G'Unmtna ; Sathbad I'rabhaknr, Sraban I, 12f)l. 

• The stories relating to firiniati and Nidhu Babu given in 
SarTiyan, lo-. cit, are mere gossipy fables taken from a cheap iliaulhen- 
ticated Battala publication, which was first brought to my notice bj 
Babu Basautarafijau Riiy of Sahitya Pari^at. 



• An accurate and exhau!?tive. collection of Nidliu Babu's 
toppaii has not yet been published. A year before his 
death was [)ublished his Gltaratiia Grant ha, ^ which 

purported to be a com])lete collection 

Uh QUaratna Gran, ^f his sono's. It Contains a preface 

tha how far authentic '- '^ 

and rtliabie. in which the author states his inten- 

tion of publishing a correct edition 
of his songs which had circulated in various forms. A 
revised edition of this work with a short sketch of 
Nidhu Babu's life (compiled chiefly from SaiMad 
Prabfiakar) was published in 1S6S by his son Jaygopal 
Gupta. This edition does not differ materially from the 
first; the only additions take the form of 7 iikhdai 
songs, one brahma-SdiigK, one sj/anialimifak git and 
one banibandanZi. There are numerous inferior editions - 

' It contains 141 pages, of which pp. 1-8, in the copy possessed 
by the Sahitya Parisat Library, are wanting. The title-page says ; 

fw^t^ csf?) \1t5 ^ II i)^ ^-^ c«ti«tTt^t^ ^'iT^ c^c^? iri^§ 
^x ^' Tttc^ w:^^ ^^feci nrtc^Jj I 

- In 1252 B.S. (1845) Kr§nananda Byus Ragasagar in his encyclo- 
paedic anthologj', Sahglt-mga-ldlpadrum gives a collection of Bengali 
songs in which he includes more than 150 tappas of Nidhu Babu 
mostly taken from Gltaratna (31 Ed.) and arranged almost in the 
same order. In 1257 B.S. (1850) an edition (marked as 3rd edition) 
of Gltarcitna was published from Battala but it contains numerous 
doubtful songs taken from other sources, the genuineness of which 
however is extremely questionable. In 1293 (1886) was published 
Baiufiya Saiiglt-rathamala or Knhihnr Nidhu Bubur Gltaban a very 
uncritical collection compiled by Asuto? Gho?al (from 55 College 
Street, Hindu Library, Calcutta). It contains about 160 songs ; but 
in order to make the collection attractive, songs from different sources 
are passed off as Nidhu Babu's. The same remarks apply also to the 
more recent edition (2nd Ed. 1303) of Nidhu Babu's songs published by 
Baisnab Clmran BasSk from BattalS entitled Gltahan or yidhii Babur 
(^Ramnidhi Guptcr) Yabutlya Gltasamgralia. Besides these, selections 


and various antholofijies were published iu later times but the 
two editions mentioned are the most authentic sources of 
Nidhu Biibu's song's. But even in G7/<traf/ia,iiou^^s areu'iven 
u\' which the authorshij) is uncertiiin ; and it cannot be, 
at least, in any way taken as a comj)Iete and exhaustive 
collection of the sono-s of Nidhu Babu.' Some songs, for 
iustanee, which are <>iven here are also to be found in 
Taraehaniii Diis's Mnumatlin KZibi/a (!247 B.S.) Banwari 
Lai's Yojana-ganiVui or munsi Eriidot's KurangnhhZinu (1252 
B.S,), althoujj^h it cannot be deHnitely determined wiiether it 
i5 a ease of unacknowledged approjjriation by subsequent 
authors. On the other hand, the famous song ^«T^fjTC^ 

?c^ ^^i^tf^c^ I "^rf^t^ ^^^sT^ ^^ (75t^ ^^ ^t^ ^f5^c^2 is 

attributed successively to Sridhar Kathak. Riim Basu 
and Nidhu l?abu and is not included in (jltarafna. Such 
celebrated songs as the following SHl^^^ C^ft^ C^^ I ^\f^ 

f^ 3(^tr« ntc?f 5^1 ^Ts\ i^-fR^^ II •' or c^t^tf^ ^5^1 ^ ^t\ 

^ 5(ft^9C^ I or ^:^ CSJJi f^ ^^ ^ I -Bftfsi ?f^^ ^91^tf^ 
CT ^ «t«1'rff^'5 II "• always attributed by tradition and by 
different editore to Nidhu Babu are omitted in Gltarafna.^ 

from Nidhn Biibu's songs are given in the numerous anthologies of 
Bengali songs and poems such as Sahglt-Bar-Mnngraha (Bai'igahasT edition 
1306) vol. ii ; Riiiahhandny edited by Chandra oekhar Mukhopadhyfiy 
(BasnmatT office, 13C(3) ; BaiiijuHr Gaii (Bni'iiOibilaT) ; Pntiijlti, o(lit(>d by 
AbiniVs Chandra CJho^ ; Bahgn Sahitya Pui'ichay, edited by Diuosh 
Chandra Son, etc. But the songs in these anthologies are often 
indiscriminately selected from various sources (besides Qltaratiia) 
and are very unreliable from the standpoint of critical scholarship. 

' This question has been discussed in some dotnil in my paper 
in Sahitya Pnri^nt PatrikTi (1324, ))p. 103-107). 

» S'liig'itxar Snmyrnhn, p. 875 ; Prltiglti, pp. 153-151. 

» Ibid, p. 851, i6i</, p. 127 ; Rambhandar, p. 107. 

* Pntig'iH, p. 37ti ; Nidhu Babur CritabaU, p. 172. According to 
others, it was composed by Sridhar Kathak. 

' In f^iifuj'tt-raij'kiil i>adruni and among the additional songi in 
the third edition of G'ttnratnn (p. 148), the curious song beginning 


This will indicate not only the uncertainty of author- 
ship which bears uiH)n many of these songs but also it 
will probably demonstrate that the Gltar<ifna does not 
exhaust all the souifs of this prolitic song-writer. Never- 
theless, publishe^l during his life time and directly under 
his authority and su|)ervision, the Gitaratna must be 
taken as the original and the most authentic and reliable 
collection of Nidhu Babu's songs. 

To many a modern i*eader Nidhu Babu is known only 
his name and reputation ; his tappiis are very seldom read 
or suny; and are often condemned without being read or 
sunc. Writiny; onlv sixteen veais after Nidhu Babu's 
death, Isvar Gupta says: 4;WC^^ '1^^ 'f^^' ^l^, fV^ 

?iK^<i 5^1^, fV ^\^j^^ srpi, fV pp ? ^^ ?9t^ ^i^ I 

The established reputation oi many a bygone songster 
has, no doubt, been swept away by ca])ricious change of 
taste from their venerable basements ; but the chief ground 
for assitrnins Nidhu Babu's works to obseuritv and oblivion 
is said by unjust and ignorant criticism to be its 
alleged immoral tendency. Kailas Chandra Ghos in his 
IMimphlet on Bengali Lifeiatitif (IS85) mechanically echoe<l 
this o]»inion when he wrote * ^fiT "Slf^f^t*"! %«t ^ist«f«1 5^' 
and Chandrasekhar Mukhoi>adhyay is not less severe or 

with ^^[T5 ■BT^PT? ^ Wrft «T^^ ^ ^ ^^tJ is given as Xiilhu BSbu's; bnt 
it was composed by AnanUa Xinlyan Ghof, author of Gitahari, as 
tlie hhanita Slt^^**) ^^Wi3 IR ff?i *5^ 1R wouUl dearly indicate and 
similarly in Biihj'iy<i ^atu/'it ratuamrdU, the song headed rfi^l^ f^ ^"m 
and attributed to Nidhn B5bu is to be found in Michael Madbnsndan's 
Padmabat'i. In the Battala edition Sidhtt Babnr G'ttabaH as well 
as in Anath Krjna Deb's Banger Kuhitii the song CSpftH f^Rf? ^KH ttf^ 
^ C^f t ^T^ is assigned to Nidhu Babu but its author is Jagannath 
Prasad Basu Mallik and it is omitted in OT^nrafna (See Prilii/lti, p. 


anjart when he itrjecud theftc •on<^ ai» \-u]^r exprnnoa «f 
•nMoal pMMOo trhich ti», to quoU* hk vofdc, ' *ltlf^ ^ > 

'V*'^ ' ' It cannot be denied indeed that there k a teodenejr, 
in thcMr oid-tirae MXi^^steiv, of le— ooinj; their songs frith 
indelicacies and aodacities of ex\tn mA oa which mere 
MMnetimca very enjoyable to tlieir audience; bat what me 
liave already nid on the moral tendency of the Kabivaka 
in (general and of Ram Baca's hiraka in lArticular a{«plics 
to a certain extent to the j/ret^nt question . Without 
enterinj; into the {ynjbleni of art for art'e sake or art for the 
■ake of morality, the whole eontroven>y over tlie alleged 
morality or immorality of these song^ m^ K>mewliat irrele- 
vant or futile. We muKt take them for what they are 
worth and guard at once a^in«t reading rigid moraL^ 
into tliem or condemning them for want ci morale. In 

the fint place, ire need recall what 

Crude irorkmuMbip Bafikim Cliandra i«id with regard to 
bat ttatantaeas aad ^ 

•iDccritT. iiimilar alle<^tion on I^var Gupta's 

jioetr}- (' -3^ C^K^ 'Vj OfT»l ^T^ "cm- 

=!T^ ; i^ 1^=1 ^*^ C^T:^^ '^^\^ ') and thi.* dirtinction 

between gros6 and tii>e workmant^hip xs et^ential and lies 

at the very root of certain definite a>j*ctt» of ancient and 

modem Bengali literature. In^]>ite of all its fjuilti^ this 

gnwe workmanship hat^ one great advantage, r/:., that 

if it ii> ravage, uncouth and <rrote*«|ue it is at the i»ame 

time trencltaiit, vivid, and full of ner%ous and muscular 

eneruy. Polii^hed or refined embroidery has its charm, no 

doubt, Ijut it is also factitious and artificial. It lacks the 

tone of ea^^y, genuine and natural jjaBt>ion; it is tmnething 

> Id th« same ttnio M. M. Ilaia|«ailil tifatri sfHaln of Nidhn 
B4ba't lapfit M ^Kfl^l IPtWVTl ^VTSt*! aad erea • critic like 
Bafikim Ckaadrm eoald not r«-«ii>t t>.<- t«-re pCrt io« of hariaif a fliof 
at ihem in hi» Bt^afirl^fn. 


soi-disant, insipid and incomplete. Tlie distinction 
drawn by modern critics between ornate and s>rotes(jue 
manner, between sjothic and classic art, thou<?h over- 
worked and often misunderstood, is one of the funda- 
mental distinctions a]>plicable to a certain extent to this 
ease also. It may be a matter of taste whether a man 
prefers ja^-o'ed ano'ularity to harmonious roundness; 
but what is ano-ular, what is oross, what is "rotescjue 
is nearer life in its primal sensations and in its terrible 
sincerity. It is like the ore fresh from the mines with 
all its dust and dross yet pure and unalloyed. In the 
sono-s of the Kabiwalas and in the fappas of Nidhu Babu, 
we enjoy these rug'i^ed sensations of the natural man, 
if you will, who res^ards his passions as their own excuse 
for beino", who does not pretend to domesticate them or 
present them under an ideal glamour. Their outward 
ruo-o>edness is a mark of inward clarity. It is partly for 
this reason that these gross and chaotic songs possess so 
much appeal for the robust and keen perceptions of the 
masses but are entirely inaccessible to the decent, com- 
fortable and self-righteous attitude of the bourgeoisie 
or the refined gentlemanliness of the aristocrat. 

These }>oets were, therefore, in a sense realists or in- 
terpreters of real and natural emotions ; and their songs 
are in the legitimate tradition of nature, although not 
always acceptable to the refined palate of the literary 
tast-er. It would, however, be absurd at the same time 
to suppose that these songs do not possess an}' touch of 
that idealism without which no poetry is poetry; they 
have enough of idealism but they do not deal with ab- 
stractions or live u])on the air. Take 

Intense realism of fo,. instance the intense realism of 

their idea of love. "With them, Love 

is not a cold white ideal rising moon-like over the rapt 


vision of the love-siek blK'iihenl-}»rince. It is not cxlia- 
imuulaiie, volatile and vague, losinjjf itscH' in the worship 
of a j)hantoni-\\onian or lisinij^ into ni3stie spirituality 
and iudefmito lantJKMVni; nor is it sicklied o\er with 
th^ subtleties of decadent psycholoijfists or with the 
subjective malady of modern love-poets. It is exaspera- 
tiny;ly impressionist and admirabh' plain-speakiny. It 
does not talk about raptures and ideals ami jjjatcs of 
heaven but walks on the earth and speaks of the insati- 
able hunger of the body and the extpiisite intoxication 
of tiie senses as well. For these poets realised, as every 
true passionate poet has lealised, that ]iassion in its 
essence is not idealism which looks beyond the real but 
idolatry which finds the ideal in the real ; for passion 
is primarily and essentially realistic. It cannot live upon 
abstractions and generalisations ; it must have actualities 
to feed upon. It is not our purpose to consider here 
whether this idolatrous intoxication of passion is good or 
bad; but it cannot be denied that it bore ample fruit in 
the astonishing realism of their love-songs and brought 
their poetry nearer to world and life and to the actual and 
abiding spirit of love. 

Love is conceived, therefore, in its concrete richneis 
antl variety, and not merely under its broad and ideal 
asjKKits. This essential realism of passion leads the poet 

to take body and soul together and 

Nidlui Babn's fop. ^^^^ accept the one for the other. lie 
;«.< not offensive or * 

immoral. is therefore always stronir, viviil anil 

honest, very seldom <lreamy, ethereal 

or mystic. A sort of traditionary ill-repute, however, has 

very unduly got itself associated with the ljiftjh(9^ especially 

with the exipiisite bits of Is'idhu IJubu's songs. There is 

a good deal of frankness antl a passionate sense of the 

gooil things of earth, it is true ; but even judged by very 


strict standard, his songs are neither indecent noi- offensive 
nor immoral.' The tone is always proper and althongh there 
is the unmistakable (h'rectness of passion and the plain 
humanity of their iiidif><, there is absolutely nothing which 
should drive critics into such strong opinions of condemna- 
tion. Even during his life-time and ever since his death, 
Nidhu's iappTiii obtained such extraordinary popularity and 
currency that even low and vulgar doggerels have passed 
off as his own. His Glfaratna has never since been re- 
printed and his fajjpas to-day are seldom favoured ; the 
modern reader, therefore, understands by Nidhu's tapjjaa 
the cheap vile and worthless street-songs which are sold 
in the name of Nidhu. It is no wonder, therefore, that 
his songs are taken as synonymous with kJtend and bad 
taste. In reality, however, no lappa is more tender and 
exquisite than the tcqjp'f of Nidhu. 

There is not much of artistic workmanship in Nidhu 
Bubu's songs ; but there is lucidity as well as flavour in 
his poetical style, and tenderness and emotional force in 

his expression. There is no elabora- 

His artistic merit .. ,. ^ ^ ^ , -a 

aud iiuperfectious. "^n or hneness, no verbal dexterity, no 

prosodic variety or profusion of 
conceits and ornaments. The poet is absolutely indifferent 
with regard to his rhymes which are often faulty nor is he 
studiously fastidious with regard to word-selection which 
is not often impeccable. There are very few songs which 
taken as a whole are invulnerable in form or artistic re- 
quirements; and like most of the Kabiwalas he is singu- 
larly une(jual, often great in single lines, in couplets, in 
'patches,' but devoid of the gift of sustained utterance. 
Lines or verses like these taken at random 

' An attempt has been made to analyse Nidlni Baba's love-songs 
and show that they ai-o not sensual and vulgar in my arlielc in the 
Sahitya Fari^at Pntrika, 132-1-121. 


'^^l ^\ ^tf^ ^f^ "sftf^ f^ ^C^ ^f^C^ I 

^^^ ^tf?:^ ^t^^ C^^T^I ^^5^ II 2 
5^^CJ{ S^^C^ <5tf^ ^f^f'l^ ^^ ^tf^ 

f% ^tfs^ '^'5^ ^'s -51^ ^ (Tff^ ir'' 

Itfe ^f?J^ It^ ^^ 5IC^ ^f^ 

wf^^ '^U ^5 ^^f^ ^t^f^ II * 

*nn*i 21^1 ?^t -^tf^^ >ito II ■ 

^l'i{^ "Slfl^ -sit^ "Site? f^ ?J^55? II ' 

' CTitaratna, 3rd ed., p. 130. • Ibid, p. 119. 

* ibid, p. 79. • Ibid, p. 100. • /6.d, p. 132. 

• Ibid, p. 20. ' Ibid, p. 137. • Ibid, p 44. 



c^^u{ ^^^ w(j{ ^f^^ ^t^f^ II ^ 
4tR ^f^i^ ^'i c^f?i^ c^f^rs II ^ 

are examples of undoubtedly tine but spasmodic bursts of 
the miraculous gift ; but, excepting a few poems which are 
flawless gems in form and substance, his verse often 
stumbles and halts where there is need for a brisk and 
sustained pace. 

But he was undoubtedly a poet of high natural endow- 
ments, and the untutored feelings and passions of his 

heart he could exi)ress with unparal- 

But true poetic qua- \e\ed terseness and j)recision of 
lity. . 

touch. The rarest poetic feeling is 

oftener found in simpler verse than in an elaborate 
and studied masterinece. The best and most characteristic 
of Nidhu Babu's songs are love-songs ; but the limited 
subject of his verse never matters much, for in them he 
sometimes reaches a varietv and a sim))le vet mao-nifi- 
cent quality which is beyond the accurate black-and- 
white artist. His of t-cjuoted songs — 

' Ibid, p. 41. » ibid. p. 12. => Ibid, p. 9. 


c^ ?tr^ 5jc^ ^c^ (7T^ "st^f sn^rti^*^ II ' 

*2tt«t J^Tn^tf^ ^^ ^*t5? C^:=? II 

^^ f^ (?T ?jf*t ^ c^ ^^ ^iJ ^f»i 
^wc^ c^i-»ifk f^c<( ^f^ ^Is^ I 

or even some ot" his less known pieces — 

^\7f '5\^^ -sifs ^tf^co J^tf'ic^ I 

^f^ C^tfl 'Slfj^f'I^ C^tas C?;f?ir5 II ' 

5^1 WUl T55» S^ 5»^^ ^^?I ^CM 

Omitlod in O'ltaratna, but pvou aa Niilhu Bftbu'ii in PrTfi^Th", p. 154 ; 
Sitiujlt'sar-f'ti'ngrtiha, vol. ij, p. 87o ; Raiiabhiindhr, p. 107. 

• Omitted in Olfaru/na but given in (Titaball or Sidhtt Bnhur 
0'>la$atiigraha. p. 131 ; i2n«<i(>/i'in(f(lr, p. 100. In Pntig'tti the aong in 
attributed tD tIariinuLau Ray. 

• Gltaratua, p. 87. 

• Ihid, p. 87. 

i Sawj\f'i<ir-$aMgrrthn, toI. ii, p. 850 ; omitted in GMnratna, 


are fine instances of what he was capable ot" achieving 
at his best ; and his best is not something to be lightly 
spoken of. 

Nidhu Babu in the preface to his fUtarafna states 
that his book is not the first of its kind in Bengali ; to 
what other Avorks of the same nature he refers cannot be 
determined but we knoAv for certain the existence of a 
collection of songs bv Radhamohan Sen, a Kavastha musician 
who lived at Kansaripada, Calcutta, and who published his 
Sauglt taraiiga'^ in 1818 (1275 B. S.) This work, however, 
is an elaborate treatise on music with the description of 

various Ra</iis and Naffhil.i and is 
Radha Mohan Sen and j,^ ,^o ^yav dircctlv concerned with 

his Sang'it tarnhga. ■ t \ 

our enquirv. It however contanis 
about 123 songs subsecpicntly follocted together and 
published with some additional pieces in the author's 
later work Nu.fa-sara-sanfflt (1839). These songs, though 
very popular at one time, are not all tapjms nor do they 

' Oltaratna^ p. 21. 

' There is a copy of the first edition in tlie Sahitya Pari^at 
Library bearing this title-page J^SpTS 35W 1 ^W5J^ 1 ^l?t»ftr5ft5J? C^H ?fT I 

f3 I -^fir^t^t? ?t5rti^ I (.Sim i ^w^'l ^si%? i itfl ^ "^ i^^«i i-is. 

»r^ 1 pp. contents and 1-267. Another edition in 1256 B.S. by his 
grandson Adinath Sen Das, An excellent edition of this work has 
been published by the Bangabus! Office and edited by Hariniohan 
Mukhopadhyay in 1310 B. S. (1903 A.D.), whicli also includes 
additional songs from Rasa'Sara'SahgV . 


exhibit am niarkoil literarv cliaraeteristics. ' Hit? short 
' piece." 

jfC^ 5if5f "^Rl^^ CS^ CT «(f?[ II 

?I5f^ jff^^ ^t^ ^^ 1% ^f?T II ^ 

is so inueh better than tlie rest that it would be hanlly 
fair to quote anvthing else unless we couM ([uote a gooil 
(leal more. 

The minor ^n-oup of lyrists and sonj^sters in this sec- 
tion are not always strictly speak- 
The minor songs- jp^ writers of ^z»;)(7.v ; but thev wrote 

on amatory, devotional and other 
themes. It is unprolitable to take them in detail ; for 
none of them, not even Sridhar Katiiak or Kill! Mirja, 
could approach Nidhu Babn in variety, extent or power, 
thouj^h all of them show more or less a touch of tlie 
natural vocal quality. Their son^s (excepting perhaps 
some deservedly po]>ular pieces of .Sridhar) do not possess 
the rare merit of utiitin*; the <^race ami ima<>;ery of the 
lyric to the music and fashion of sonnf. They are 
hardlv litei-arv and are often rarelesslv maile : thev are 

' His ^rfij ^t?l. TfTi J?f^. ■^Jf^ 'TR I f^Rl =5rt?rt:«( ^f ^ift? ^^ I etc. 
is often praised bat is chictly iinitativo of .Invmlch'H sftf^^^Tt^tnl 
^\V ^yi^T^ir^:, of Bidvnpntl's ^5 -HW^ 1^ !f?^ ??It|% I f\T{ ^' 
■m> W ^<Ht^ nnd of Uain Basil's ^ ^f C?, ^tfsi ^T?t, C^f^ ^jtTICT -A^ 
Hf^ffs I The idea is conrentional. 

* Besides the BaA^baai edition, PntigVi gives a good selection of 
Riidbfimohan's noticeable pieces. 

' Sang'it-taranga (BangabAsi edition), p. 20. 


not meant to be I'ead \\ith tone and feeling but really 
demand to be sung. And what has been said with regard 
to the musical quality of the songs of the Kabiwalas apply 
with greater force to /<'^-);;u-writers who were primarily 

Of these later (<z/>;j(t- writers, Sridhar Kathak stands 
next to Nidhu Babu in popularity, 
Sridhar Kathak. poetic merit and probably in chrono- 

logy. Informations about his life 
and character are uncertain, indefinite and mostly un- 
realiable. He was born in the village of Bansbedia, 
Hughli, probably in 1816 (L22.3 B. S.). His father was 
Pundit Ratankrsna Siromani and his grandfather was 
the famous kathak Lalchand Bidyabhusan. Sridhar 
himself tvas a kathak of considerable power having learnt 
the art from KalTcharan lihattacharyya of Berhampore 
but from his youth he was attached by natural proclivi- 
ties to kahi aud prcinicJiafi parties. The songs which are 
now attributed to Sridhar are, however, all of the tuppa 

type and for these he is justly cele- 

His tappas curiously brated. Tnfortunatelv the rival repu- 
niixed up with tliose of . . ' 

Nidhu Bubu. tation Kauinidhi has created much 

confusion and led to the general 

attribution of many of Sridhar's songs to Ramnidhi and 

it is almost impossible to-day to disentangle satisfactorily 

this question of disputed authorship. The famous song 

^t^ ^^cwRc^ ^tf^ (?f^ %^ ^tf^5^ II 

is popularly assigned to Nidhu Babu — for none but Nidhu 
Babu was supposed capable of producing such a beautiful 


piece ; but the soug really belonj^s to Srulliar anJ is not 
included in Nidlui Hiibu's Gltaiuttna. The same it-niark 
applies to two other hne songs which deserve to be 
quoteil here — 

^ ?t^, ^?, ^ f^U ^5f?l S|^5I 
C^f^T S^ "sifcJIt^ ^ C^«1 C11^ 1H 

C^2W^^?jf?^ ^^ ^^ ^ ^*!I^91 

The number of Sridhar's songs whicl» have come down to 
U8 is verv limited and not more than one hundred son^s 
may be found attributed to him in different anthologies.' 

.^rklhar is undoubtedly one of the tinest ^//)/yJ-writers 

of this i)eriod, although he moves within a very limited 

and inferior range. Most of his songs 
His quality as a lonp- , r ,i i ** c \- .1 

writer. sjjeak ot tlie bitterness ot disapj)omteil 

love and breathe a note of tender 
passion marke<l more or less by absence of rhetorical 

' In Baiigah}iiifiar Lekhak (vol. i, j). 3tiO) menlion ia mado of 1(39 
■ongi hv orldhar ; Love-songs 121, and songs on Kr^na and RAdliH 
35, Syuniubi.'^yak 4, (laurlbiijayuk 9, besides some niiscellnneoun 
pada*. But these have not yet been {lublished. Altogether nearly 
a hundred songs will be found assigned to Sridbar in different 
anthologies and selections. 


subtlety and presence of lyrical directness. JSrldhar, like 
most of his contemijoraries, is often slipshod and careless ; 
but he is always forceful and direct. His faults are faults 
common to the grou]) — of too rapid composition, diffuse- 
ness and a certain share uf the tricks and mannerisms 
of current verse : yet when he beats his music out, it has 
a touching and tender quality. In his best songs the 
words are few but the linked sweetness of his long-drawn- 
out melody has a charm of its own. We have quoted 
some of his well-known songs ; here are two from his less 
known pieces. 

^ ^t^ ^1 ^t^^ «t^ «t^ 'fU^ (P\^ '^t^ 
^^Z^ 5I5f«l \5t^ ^^^ ^t1 f^^t^ II 

^C^ C^^ ^t1% 'SC^ f^^^ "Itt <^ ^S«11 I 

'jf^rft^ ^^ c^^ c^^ ^tc^ ^t^^t?:^ ^1 II ' 

It is impossible to overrate the quality displayed in 
the above j)assages, and one can, therefore, understand 
easily how Sridhar's songs got so curiously mixed up 
with Nidhu Babu's masterpieces. But, inspite of this 
extraordinary charm, ^ridhar is a singularly unetjual poet 
and shines best in a volume of selection. Many passages 
are mere fustian ; others have a beauty not often 

' In Premahar (a collection of love-songs) cd. Ksirod Chandra Rtly 
(1886), lip. 9-4-9r) the text of this song has a slightly different wrtrding. 


surpassed. Snilliar remains, fliereforo, a poet ^reat by 

We pass briefly over tlie name of Kalidas Chatto- 
padhyay (better known as Kali Mirja) a («/7.»J-\vriter of 
tolerable jwwer and musician of great repute, who 
nourished in the early years of the 19th century. His 
son<;s, both for their substance and their music, had 

obtained such instant and merited 
dhysy (Ksii Mh-js). currency that when Krsr.uu.anda 

Byiis Ka<i:asa;j:ar compiled his enor- 
mous cyclopa-dia of soni^s in 1810 {\i')i B.S.),' he 
thouirht it fit to include niore than 250 soujjfs of Kail 
Mirja's composition, lie was the soji of one Bijayrani 
Chattopadhyay, a native of Guptipada which was at 
one time the seat of Hindu learning. Kalidas is said 
to have learnt music in Benares, Lukhnow and Delhi ; 
and his appellation >> irja is said to betoken his high 
skill and proficiency in that art. After residing for 
some time with Pratapchandra of Burdwan, he came 
to Calcutta where he lived thereafter under the 
magnifieent patronage of Gopimohati Thakur. He 
passed his last days in the sacred city of Benares and 
died there, before 1825. 

Kail Mirja composed songs on a variety of topics, 
secular as well as religious, of which his tappos and 
'si/aniahi><ai/ak songs obtained considerable reputation. 

\\\ his devotional songs, he follows 

ChRrRiter of Iiib t|„. tradition of Ram-prapa<l and in 

one or two pieces he has been able to 

' Tlie entire work, Savgit -raga-kal i^ndrum was pnbliHhed betwi-on 
1842-49 ; the volume containing Bonirali Hontrs was printod in Iflio. 
The date given in the introductory portion of KAli Mirjil's Wxtfi'uharx, 
puhliBhed by Amrtalal BandyopadliySy in IQfU, is incorrect. See 
preface to Songxi.raga-kaJpadrum (Sahitya Pari9at edition, vol. iii, p. 2). 



catch the spirit, if not the devotional ecstasy, of the 
earlier devotee 

Uv^sf ^ ntf^ -^ ^f^ ^-''Tt^f 1 

vsjSi ^7^ ^5J ^iw, ^t^ ^t^ ^C^?r ^t^ II 

The same level and average quality also characterises 
his songs on Radha and Krsna and his fappas. His songs 
are uniformly pedestrian, if not always flat and dull, 
and monotonously destitute of the peculiar touch of 
phrasing, the eternising influence of style which charac- 
terises the songs of Nidhu Babu or Sridhar Kathak. 
The only feature — a feature however which is hai-dly 
engaging — is his tendency towards the traditional rhe- 
torical style and his fondness for tasteless conceits and 
crude devices of punning and alliteration . There is more 
of conventional poetical imagery than of natural emotion 
in his songs. One illustration would suffice^ 

^^C?I ^^^ "^^^ ^f^^ C^W.^ ^ I 

51^ ^\h ^n:^ '<f c^ "^U 1^^ ■•^^ I 

• GHakiharl, pp. 56 and 64. 
» Ihid, p. 102. 


This brings us practiciilly to the eiul of the p^roup of 
^/y>/;a-writers ' who chronologically lx'lon»; to our period, 

althougii in matters of date and 
Later group of chronology we are not on absolutely 

/aj>pa-wntors. ' • '' 

Hrm and safe ground. The tradi- 
tion, however, was carried on beyond the middle of the 
I'Jth century. In Snugli-raffn-kalpadrum, published in 
ISio, we lind the songs of Kfilidas Gangopadhyay, Sib- 
chandi-a Sarkar, Sib Chmulra Kiiy and Ananda Narayan 
Ghos and Asutos Deb (Chhatu Babu), all of whom 
must have flourished in their poetical glory between 1820 
and 1840. Later on we get Jagaunath Prasad Basu 
Mallik of Andul, Kfi-si Prasad Ghos of Simla, Calcutta, 
author of G7fii6<i/7 and of a large number of English 
lyrics, Jaduniith (xhos of lielur, who wrote Sniiglt Jtlono- 
niiijan, Rauuipati Handyopadhyay, author of Saiig'tf- 
inTiladiir'sa, Hari .Mohan Kay, Kam Chiind Bantlyopildhyay, 
Dayal Chaud Mitra and a host of others. This minor 
l)oetry is of a strangely composite order vacillating between 
the finest poetic quality of Nidlui Bfibu and tiic ilull flatness 
of KalT Mirjfi. Instead of dealing with these latter-day 
songsters in a i)ieoemeal fashion here, we reserve them for 
detailed treatment in the next volume ; for the import- 
ance of this movement did not end with the period with 
which wi' are at preseat concerned but continued to be 
sutliciently prominent even in the next quarter of this 

It would be convenient to notice here briefly the devo- 
tional songs of this i)eriod, which, though dealing as they 

' GopAl U«1e does not properlj belong to this group of Baithaki- 
(aypri-wrhvis. He was n yatruiviln and nitlioiigli hi* Sf)ng8 go by the 
name of fapp<i, in qnalitr and kind thcj belong to a different species. 


do with an entirely different tlieme and formiu* a group 
by themselves, represent a phase of song-writing of this 
period closely connected with the writing of the pas- 
sionate love-lyrics. Erom individualistic and secular love- 
souce to the ecstatic and personal expression of religious 

longing is but a step, the intermediate 
Devotional songs stage being supplied by the songs 

bearing upon the personal-impersonal 
theme of the loves of Krsiia and Radha. But it is re- 
markable that while («;j/?a-writers like Nidhu Babu, 
Sridhar Kathak or Kali Mirja often pass on from love- 
lyrics to devotional songs, the writers of devotional songs 
like Riim Prasad or Kamalakanta, on the other hand, 
seldom condescend to the more mundane theme of per- 
sonal love-lyrics. 

The most interesting bulk of these devotional songs 
relates to the worship of divinity under the special image 

of SakN, although there are several 

relating to Sakti- songs which relate to other religious 


cults. Its origin must be traced to 
the recrudescence and ultimate domination of the /Sr7/-/?-eult 
and k'^akta form of literature in the 18th century, which 
in its turn traced its origin in general to the earlier (unfric 
form of worship. Rani-prasad, the greatest exponent of 
this kind of song-writing of this period, began his career 
however as the author of the conventional Kidi/rixir/idai' ; 

but even through the erotic atmosphere 

Rani-prnsild : his tran- pji-iip i j.* ii 

sition from Bidyasnu. of this half-sccular narrative pocm, the 

(Me to devotional devotional fervour of the J^akta-wor- 

shipper expresses itself. The same 
may be said, although in a lessor degree, of Bharat Chandra 
who was also the author of a few devotional <S'(7 //(/ lyrics. 
But when Ram-prasad later on realised the superiority 
of his ecstatic religious cITusions as something more 


congenial to the trend of his life and «i;enins an<l burst 
forth even in the [)aLj«'s of his more studied and literary 
narrative j)oem — 

the literary world hej^an to be flooded with the tuneful 
melodies of religious ecstasy as a reaction from the com- 
paratively arid thraldom of conventional verse. 

The conflict betwt-en the Sakta and the Baisiiab sects 
obtains in Heni^ali literature from time immemorial. As 
on the one hand the Bai-nab poets, steeped in the specu- 
lative, mystic and emotional realisations of the Srimad- 
bhagnbiit were givinij; a i)oetic shape of their religious long- 
ings in terms of human passion and 

The SaktH and the amotion and flguring forth the divinity 
Baifnah poets; their » » j 

different literary me- as an ideal of love, were attempting 

to bind the infinite through the finite 
bonds of life's sweetest and best affections, the Saktas on 
the other hand were singing tlie praise and describing the 
glory of Aili/a Sakti through their Cfiand'i maiigal poems. 
Re^'arded as literary ventures, these longer and more 
studied efforts of the Sakta writers, no doubt, hold a conspi- 
cuous i)lace in ancient Bengali literature but the Saktas 
Could not attain the lyric predominance and passionate 
enthusiasm of Baisnab song-writers : for there is a 
Ix'tter scojM? for losing oneself in |>oetic raj^ture in dealing 
with hatxiilyiiy sn/chi/n, flri'<y(i, niiul/iiirt/ii and the other fami- 
li:»r and daily felt emotional states than in describing in a 
sober narrative form the feats and glories of the jKirticular 

deity. The /rtM/r(/.« no doubt inculcate 

AcK.nuion of «o.\. ^j./^.^rship of the deity under the 
hejKl ns the Mother, • 

fimt renliseti l».v RAin- image of tlio Mother ; but no votary of 

the cult before Ram-prasjkl realised the 

exceedingly poetic |x>ssibilities of this form of atloration.We 


cannot indeed definitely state wlietlier Ram-prasad was the 
fii-st poet and devotee to realise this : for we find conteiu- 
poraneonsly with him a host ot" such song-writers as, either 
independently or inHuenced by him, wrote in the same 
strain. Raja Krsiiachandra himself was a composer of 
such songs and we find the literary tradition maintained 
in the royal family by his two sons Sibchandra and 
oambhuchandra, as well as inferior members of the same 
family like Narachandra, SrTschandra, Nareschandra and 
others. A few songs of this style still remains which 
contain the d^amfa of Maharaja Nanda Kumar. It cannot 
be said that all these song-wiiters were inspired by the 
example and influence of Ram-prasad ; on the contmry, 
they might be following a course of religious and literary 
development which had begun indei)endently but which 
was made so resplendent by the superior faith and genius 
of Ram-prasad. Whatever might be the fact, it cannot 
be denied that it was in Ram-prasad that this new form 
of adoration of the Supreme Being under the image of the 
Mother — a form naturally congenial to the Bengali tempe- 
rament — finds its characteristic expression and discovers a 
new, easy and natural mode of religions realisation through 
fine songs, reflecting intense religious fervour in the exceed- 
ingly human language of filial affection. The image of 
divine motherhood, to Ram-prasad and his followers, is not 
a mere abstract symbol of divine grace or divine chastise- 
ment but it becomes the means as well as the end of a 
definite sjjiritual realisation. Rising to the radiant white- 
heat of childlikeness, these poets realise in the emotions of the 
child the emotions of a devotee. Like the child, the poet 
is now grave, now gay, now jietulant, now despairing, not 
with the capricious purposelessness of a child but with the 
deep intensity of purposeful devotion. Thus, not only Ram- 
prasad in his numerous songs but even his follower, Kumar 



Naraeliandi-a couKl iiululi^e in such intimate, familiar yet 
signiticant expressions towards his special divinity: — 

(^^t^) c^^^ ^i^f^ ^c^?r *cf^l ^^ ^c^ ^l-'&i fw?:?i II 

These spiritual effusions of devout heart, therefore, are 

iu a sense beyond criticism ; and in order to appreciate 

these songs one must realise the entire mentality of these 

devotee-poet*;, their systems of belief, the earnestness, 

warratii and vigour of their simple faith, the transport 

and exaltation of their spiritual mysti- 
Character of these cjg,^^ ^yjj.^^ ^j^^gg ^^ j^,g j^g j^ 

songs. ' " 

not the meditative speculation of 

systematic |>hilosophers, nor the intellectual subtlety ot 

trained logicians nor the theological commonplaces of 

religious preachers, hut the life-long realisation of an 

int**nsely spiritual nature. The songs, therefore, represent 

not a professional effort but a born gift, or a gift ac(piired 

through religious worship and aspiration. It is, however, a 

gift or an enthusiasm, which is in fact an inspiration, a 

mood of divine madness which draws from visible and 

familiar things nn intuition of unknown realities. Its 

treatment of the facts of religious experience is not the 

less appealing but all the more artistic because it is so 

sincere and genuine, because it awakens a sense of conviction 

in ourselves. The temper is essentially that of a secular 

lyric. It is not transcendental nor beyond the sphere of 

artistic expression because the inspired artist makes us feel 

the reality and universality of his individual passion, and the 



mystery of his mystery stands clear and visible in its own 
familiar lig'ht before our eyes. 

This transfiguration of the primeval instinct of filial 
affection of 

A child crying in the night 
A child crying for the light 

into a relijii^ious phantasy or poetic rapture is a remarkable 
achievement of Kam-prasad's soncfs. The incommunicable 

communion between the human soul 
TransfiKuratiou of a and thedivineis communicated throuirh 

primitive human in- _ _ ^ 

stinct, and appeal for a the exceedingly familiar and authen- 
more emotional form ,. . , .. <• ii i -i u i- i- 

of religion. ^^^ intensity or the child s teelintr 

for the mother. This new stand- 
point vivifies religion with a human element and lifts 
one of the primitive elements of human nature into the 
means of glorious exaltation. It brings back colour and 
beauty into religious life and appeals to the imagination 
and the feelings. Its essential truth lies in its appeal for 
a more emotional religion and in its protest against the 
hard intellectualitv of doctrines and dogmas. It is not the 
isolated expression of moral or religious ideas but its fusion 
into a whole in one memorable personality, expressing itself 
in a distinctly novel yet familiar mode of utterance, which 
makes these songs so remarkable. The fui/fric form 
of worship has its terrible as well as its beautiful aspect; 
in these latter-day feakta writers we find an assertion of the 
rights of the emotional and the ;esthetic iu human nature. 
In this view the achievements of Ram-prasrid, ably seconded 
by other devotional songsters who followed in the line, is 
of a kind which most of the great religious or moral leaders 
of the race in some way or other performed and which 
opened up a new source of elevating joy. 

But in this idea of the Divine .Mother {mairb/i'ifj) which 
primarily follows the authority of the (anlras and the 


natural lueiital bi'iit of tlu' a^e aiul tlic race ami the iiiili- 

viihial, Rilm-jtrasjul was not little in- 
inHuenceof Bai^uab Huenccd, (liiectlv or indiioctlv, by the 

ideas * J ' J 

Haisiial) itlea of bTdiahia. Thronjrh- 

out the hisitory ol" the Siikta anil Baisnah eontlict we fuul, 

no doubt, the two sects directly antasjonistie to each other 

and in Hhiirat Chandra, even in lliim-prasad himself, we 

find the virulence of a militant sectarian zeal. But, as on 

the one liand, we find a Maisnab poet like Chandida^ mak- 

in*; use of f'mtric imajijery and tUnlric idea of i^ufc/iakra- 

Kuti/tiin,^ on the other we see Ram-prasad, a confirmed 

^fikta i)oet, considerably influenced 

and imitation of by Baisnab ideas in his Krill-klrtan 

Bindabanlila, ' • 

and Kr ana kill mi. Not only does he 
imitate in j-laoes tho characteristic diction and imagery of 
Baisnab pailahnlli^ but he deliberately describes the go)4ha^ 
r(7>r, milan of Bhagabati iu imitation of the hriiiKihan-llla 
of Srikrsna. It does not concern us here whether the 
•^irl Parbati fitjures in a better artistic li<i:iit with a Unv 
and parhnn/judi in her hand or whether the picture deserves 
the sarcastic comments of Aju Gosvami'^ ; what we need 
note is that here as well as in his agnuianl songs, Ram- 
prasad is unmistakably utilising Baisnab ideas. This 
imitation of tiie brudriban-llla or of the bufso/f/a bhaba of 
Yasoda for Bala Gopal was, however, not wholly isolated, 

T>M ♦fa ifn*!^ lai f^,M jA I 

quoted fmni ChandidAs in Bir.bhumi (now BcricH) vol. ii, p. l,'>, which 
■eo for a niHSterly exposition of PrntncTi $aiig\t. 

* ^ Wf^ fS^ 3^ *f§t^fl -VfVUK^ CVn Hi en's f^ Wffl I ^^tf^ 



sporadic or objectless. If iudicafed a general desire with 

these poets of the 18th century to 
Its object . afford a common ground of reconcilia- 

tion and good feeling between the 

two antagonistic sects. There is no distinction in reality, 

says Kiim-prasad in many a song, between Bisnu and Sakti, 

between Kali and Krsnn. 

■QU^ 'Sil^ "^5 %5| 'il^ 515? ^?T 5?1 C^t^ II 

This attcnii>t at removing i/rci^ru/resi (ill-blood) and at 
establishing the ultimate identity of the different images 
of the godhead is at the root of the later song of 

w\^ ^\ c?r 3f^ ^'^sj ^t^i "srlsil ^1 c^m ^^ i 

(7f (71 CSR:^^ ^?l«l ^f?f?1 ^t^«1 ^^^ ^^ '^ ^5 II 

^cii ^c^tc^^ ^?f ^?:^ ^fj! wt^^scn ^c^ ^^ I 

^si^^tl^^ ^-JTTJTt^:^ ^^^1t^ ^1^ ^?( II 

These devotional songsters in general and their precur- 
sor Ram-prasfid in particular, therefore, established, through 

the current from of Sid- fi -worship, 

Originality of KSm- tempered bv natural human ideas 
prasJid and his follow- i ^ 

crs. derived from the no loss human 

Bai.snab poets, a peculiar form of 

religious-poetic communion and, realising this in their own 

life removed from the turbid atmosphere of controversy. 


they expressed the varieties of their reli«jious experience in 
touchiiii,^ ^ongs accessible to all. There is no other 
conspicuous instance of this type of *S'<;/7/-worshi)j throui^h 
the Mair-bhaha in ancient literature. The classical example 
king Sural ha's propitiation of the AdyZi Hakll described in 
the Miirkai\(lii/a ('haufll is altoirether of a different kind ; 
nor could the earlier Bengali ChaiuJT-authors, who indulged 
themselves in hymns or elaborate narratives of praise, 
anticipate the sentiment of tender devotion and half- 
childish solicitation of Hiim-prasild. ' In this respect the 
originality of Ram-prasad is undoubted and it exalts him 
to a place all his own. 

The Baisuab poets, again, describe in their exquisite 
lyrics a type of love which is lifted beyond the restrictions 

of social convention and their love- 

These son^g aoceK- lyncs, passionate and often sensuous, 
Bible to all without • ' ' 

discrimination. may, in the uninitiated, cxcite worldiv 

desires of inspiring a sense of 
freedom from worldly attachments. The songs of Hain- 
prasad and his followers, on the other hand, are free from 
this dangerous tendency. AltlK)Uiih these simple and 
tender loui^ings for the Mother may n«it, in thought and 
diction, compare favourably with the tiner outbui'sts of 
the Bai^nab poets, yet tiiey are accessible indiscriminately 
to the uninitiated as well as the initiated, to the sinner as 
wtH as t) the saint, to the ignorant as well as to the 
learned. They constitute the common property of all, and 
as in the case of the tender love of the mother, every 
human child has an eipul claim to share it. 

' Tlu* excoedinffly huninniscd piotiire of Gnnri or Dfirj?* in Rume< 
fivar's ^'i6<i!/<i/i or even in BhSrat Chandra's Aunad'imangnl repreflents 
an altojrether different phnso of perhaps the same humanising tenclencj 
in contemporary litctatnre. 


But this exceedingly difficult task of writing religious 

songs which should be at the same 

DulnesB ami nrtifici- time artistic and passionate has its 

iilitv of the less inspir- i j •,« n -n^L i.L 

ed successors of RSm- ^wn dangers and pitfalls. ^ hen the 

prnsad. inspiration does not reach its high- 

water mark, the resulting song is apt 
to be either dull and Hat or laboured and artificial. There 
is nothing like the dulness of a religious writer at his 
dullest. This trait, now and then noticeable in Ram-prasad 
himself, is often very marked in the less inspired song- 
writers who accompanied or followed him. There is not 
much in these inferior poets (always with exceptions, of 
course) which is worth detailed study or attention and we 

shall pass over them as briefly as pos- 

RSja Sibchnnrlra and ^^]^]^ Qf the twO SOUS of Raia Kfsna- 
Kninar Sainbhiichan- .A. ' ' ' 

dra. chandra, Raja Sibchandra and Kumar 

^ambhuchandra, the latter is a better 
poet, no doubt, but his productions are stilted and conven- 
tional and are of too trifling a quantity to deserve any 
further comment. The production of Kumar Narachandra, 
a member of the same family, are however more abundant 
and are of a better (piality, though not absolutely free from 
the same trait. He could rei)roduce the spirit and even 
the language of Ram-prasad pretty well. "SVe select three 
of his songs (beside one which we have already quoted) 
which are not so well-known as they ought to be. 

^m «t^ f^wT5 ctf 3il "^z^n 'srni^t^ K^ ^ II 


c^5? f^i^ 11 11 ^?i it?:?^ c«^«ii n\m ^\f 

9It^C«1 -sitf^ f»f?:^1 CW'<I1 Jl'^s^tifl r^5 5)1^ II 
'j'c^ ^ffltl «^1^I^ C'T-S^ "SJI?! ^S«l1 "^1^ II 

^c»n5U^ f^'^ f*f^ ^t2iic»nc5 ^T^ ^it II 

f^^ siiT5^ ^«1 11C^^ ^5J ^^5(1 C^15^ 

11 i^Ti c^c^ f*f^ ^ ''Jt^w ^f?r^f?i "«1^1 sitt II 

C^ ^ *ft^t^«t?T CIC^ ^t^ ^^ f¥ ?^ ^t^^ I 
tf^tft^l ^1 5C1 f^ s^tf'^ 1K^ s^UI^ ^C^ II 
»f5lltt 5iT1 5*50 fr^t^ C^^f 5^1^ C^Tlir5 
^^51 1^ ^-Qlt^l 1C<T?^ Cf C^liT iT'fl J^^ II 

Tl 11 ^^ f« v5t^ rsc^ 's 11 ^c^ ^t^ 
^?j1 'ijif^ 5rtf<«i-c^c^1 ^^^-sfl ^c^i v5t^ II 

StK'li simple yet direct utterance become rarer as we 
|>ass on to later writers of this y;roii|). The following 

sonojs which bear the fjhunitii of 
Dowun Nandakisnr Xandakumar is supposed bv some to 

Riiy. ... ^ " 

be the oomjjosition of Xanda KiSor 
Ra\ , Dewan of Burdwan Raj, but may possibly \ye a soli- 
tary sonu; of Mahai-fij Xandakuniar aeeidenlally preserved. 

^'it'ftc^ ic?t-*fC9i ^'H'JI's-f^^^lfw^ II 
if*i*icsr5 im^ ^ci sii^ft'Ptf^ II 


®t^ JJ-R ^^ ^^ f3PT??^^C^fw#t II 

^ ^^ ^^t^Tc*f f^^ ^^ c^ttrff^^ II 

^^ ^13«13J?I ^tf% IC^ ^T5|tf^^ II' 

This soug is quoted here not so much for its historic interest 

nor for any special merit but as a specimen of the artificial 

and tedious style of later poets. The same tendency of 

indulging in symbolism, didactics and banalities under a 

spiritual glamour is also remarkably noticeable in the songs 

of Dewjtn Raghnnath Ray of Burdwan, 

„ ^T^^^ .ool^""''^''' a brother of Nandakisor; but Ra-hu- 
Ray. 1750- I8db. , 

nath was not a Sakta of the narrow 
type and addressed several songs to Krsna as well, in some 
of which he maintains the eventual identity of this Baisnab 
deity with the special divinity of his adoi-ation. It is 
hardly necessary to quote specimens but the following song"^ 
is the nearest approach to the style of Ram-prasad which 
had been all along the deservedly recognised standard. 

mi^ ta ^t^ ^^Htw^ c^^i m II 2 

' The bhntjita has NandaknmSr and not Nandakisor. 
' The bhanitd of Raghuuath in these songs is ^ff%<C^. 


Thus Burdwan, like Nadiva, hiul been for a lon;^' tinu' the 
Centre of these activities, and we find even Mahanija ]\Iaha- 
labchand, who wasasonij-writer of no mean merit, carrying 
on this literary tradition till his death in 1807. Of this 
Burdwan o^roup the most famous and indeed the most 
remarkable poet is Kamalakilnta Bhatiacharyya, a native of 

Ambikanaijar in Kalnil who subse- 
Blinttacharvvn. quentlv removed to Kotalliat m burd- 

wan and lived under the royal patrona<j^e 
of Maharaja Tejaschandra. Of the later <»rou)) of devo- 
tional poets, Kamalakilnta approaches Ram-prasad very 
closelv in t(»ne and feeliui>; and stvle. Mahatabchand 
printed in 1857 from the poet's own manuscript nearly 250 
sonijs which have been thus beautifully preserved. This 
collection was reprinted in 1885 by vSrikanta Mallik in 
Calcutta under the title Komnfahavfa PivJUhall^ and it 
certainly deserves reprint ay:ain. 

It is impossible within the limited scope of our plan 
to analyse these three hundred songs in detail or to quote 
extensive specimens which alone would illustrate the depth, 
varietv and beauty of Kamalaklinta's songs. Like the 
songs of his great predecessor Ram-i>rasad, his songs reveal 
to us the inward history of his spiritual life, the various 
stages of his religious exi>erience from worship and adora- 
tion to the attainment of the state of hit^hest felicity. It 
is not his meditative s|)eculation nor his theological tenets 
nor the vague coating of s} nilxiliMu in his songs which 
constitute their charm ; over and al)o\e all these tower his 
spiritual sense, his imagination and his emotions, his extra- 
ordinary personality ; and the palpitating humanity which 
vivifies every line imparts a soul-felt meaning to his 
devotional son^s. lit- expresses common needs, common 

' A copy of this wn« lent to me hy the SShitya Parifat Librnrr. 


illOUf;ht^^, and every-day emotions of the religious man ; 
and if he is a mvstic, his mvstieism is not of the esoteric 
order. It is difHeult to quote speeimens when one must 
confine oneself to a limited number but the fojlowinp: songs, 
well-known as they are, are quoted to make them better 

"sJt^ f^^ ^1^ srfsil si1 (.^U C^^^ ^f5 5^«l ^f?! I 
'©^ ^^« f^i:^Z'^f^ M'j^tf^ c^i^ ^^Pi 'Tf^^ ^5^1 II 

f^'iw^t^ c^^ c^t'il ^t^ ^^^tft s'^^^rfCT^ ^gf 1 1I 

<5rw?r ®^^^ 5(t^1 ^f^ ^^1 ^c^^ ^c<T ^^^1 ^'1 II * 

^tf^i ^^ 1^ c^^ I 

^srf^'^ f^i'^^ ^cf c^^ ?5t^f^ f^ ^1 ^t^f^ (71^ 11 

^?j 'fte c^tf^ c^rf^ ^tc5 ^ 'stt? it^t5 5f^ II 
"Hit^ c'fc^ ^'i ^^ ^B^ ^fi 'if*! (TPt^ 
'srf'rf^ c^rn^ ^^ (751^^ ^c^t^t^ f^ dt^ II 

5^^ iTt'^ ^c^ ^t^ ^^^^1 fv ^t^ ta crf^ 

^f^ ?t^t f^a ^^f5 ^^^ ^f 5C^ ^rrf^ ^t^«^^ c^t^l II 
^5^ ^-\ui c^ta c^i^ ^im^r ^t^ ^ ®ti^jr^ c^^ ii - 

One characteristic note of these songs is its sincerity, 
a sincerity which redeems even tiic slightest song from 
insigniticance and confers on the finer pieces an importance 

' Kamalakanta Podabal't, p. 29. • Ibid, p. 39. 


of a ilitlVrent order from that whioli attaches to even the 
most brilliant productions of his contemporaries. The 
popular opinion which places Kamalakunta next to Kam- 
prasad is fully justilied, and we conclude by cpiotinji; the of Nilrunbar Mukhopadhvay, a later poet, who 
eulogises Kamalilkanta and Ham- prasild in the same 

^]l^^ ^^] ^si^ ^tf^T I 

Tfnr^f JR ©T^ 5^t^ ^fjj cif»f (I 

^•5J>Tt'^ ^^ ^$1 r.*o if?ft1 "^z^t:^ ^t^ 



Miscellaneous Writers in the Old Style. 

The period of interregnum in poetry wliich followed 
upon Bharat Chandra's death had been, we have seen, essen- 
tially a lyric interval in which we find the Kabiwalas, 
Writers of the poeti. taj)j}a-w'niers and authors of devo- 
cal interregnum. tional songs Creating a body of litera- 

ture which, if not great in positive achievement, is at least 
remarkable in the negative quality of marking a natural 
reaction against the ornate and classical type of literary 
practice of the 18th century. At the same time the groups 
of writers mentioned never separate themselves wholly 
from the traditions of the past nor do they work their way 
from the older to the newer style of the 19th century. 
In this sense, they are neither ancient nor modern ; neither 
do they represent the past adequately nor indicate and 
foretell the future. They were at the same time incap- 
able of great literature ; nor were the times suitable for it. 
They are nol, it is true, idle singers of an emi)ty day ; but 
they deal essentially with trifles, though with trifles 

poeticallv adorned. Occupying, as 

The intermediate " " . . 

position of the lyric they ilo, an intermediate position 

BongBters, Kabiwalas i^p^ween th.' ancient and the modern 

and others. 

writers, they yet afford no natui-al 

medium of transition from the school of the past to the 

school of the present. They create a literature of their 

own, limited and circumscribed by their own j^eculiarities 

and the peculiarities of their circumstances, too old to be 

entirely new, too new to be entirely old ; for although 

possessing lyric quality, they have little affinity to modern 


Ivrists nor can tlitv Ijc cK-iiiiiteh afllliattHl toanv recoj'nised 
school of ancient writers. 

But the poetij and sun^^sters whom we propose to take 
up ill this chapter, unlike the writers aheady dealt with, 
delinitely and unmistakably tread in the footsteps of the 
old-world poets. Their poetic »»;ift move within the narrow 
compass of conventional art, and though exhibitintjf widest 

individual differences, these imitative 

Writers dealt with p^^^jy ^re bound by the common 
in this chapter aro 

however ' relics ' or characteristic of belongin<T to the 
' survivalH ' of earlier i i ai • r i * u • 

days, and belong in P^^^ '^^th m form and spirit. Ueing 

spirit and form to till- ^liiis artificially limited, they are 
past. . . ■ 

hardly orii>'inal, except in so tar as 

they may vary a t-in^Ie tune by playinjjj it upon the several 

recognised stops. This (U'i)artment of verse, therefore, 

is singularly depressing. Except in inspiretl snatches, 

there is haixlly anything of first-i-ate ipiality, and the great 

bulk of this narrowly imitative literature is Mat and 

te<.lious. The recognised litemry species had been already 

suffering from exhaustion of material and the declining 

fwwers of these belateil imitators could hardly impart to 

them a spark of vivifying force. 

Want of subject-matter and of capacity for original 
achievement is precisely the defect of this poetry. Li the 
first place, we have a group of writers who follow the time- 
honoured tradition of translating the 

ProiH>8ed groups ut Sans<-rit /xTiniUv'rn, Ma/ia/jfiUrut and 
writirs. . / 

Snwnil-hh'tf/afHif into the vernacular. 

Next we have a band of minor poets — some of them not 

merely minor but insignificant — who wrote verse-tales of 

the erotic tyfu' in imitation of Bharat Chandra but who 

could not reproduce his jioetrv as they could magnify the 

dull obscenities which unfortunately taint his writings. 

After them, come a host of miscellaneous songsters — most 


of them literary nondescripts — among whom we need 
notice in some detail the authors of pairichali and yaira. 

The translators of this period inherited the tradition 

but lost the art which had made their 

Translators. , ,^ .i-i- x--— i- 

] iretlecessors Krttibas or Kasidas 

immortal. A little before 1760, we have a number of 

notable translations among which may be mentioned the 

delightful version of GHagohinda by Giridhar, but after 

1760, this department of literature is hardly gi-aced by 

any remarkable achievement. The translators of this 

period hardly exhibit any striking literary feature and it 

would serve no purpose to reca]»itulate their half-forgotten 

names. Of these, however, Raghunandan GosvamT, though 

not exactly a translator, is remarkable for his re-writing 

of the themes of BZim'iyan 2iwA Bhagalnt. Raghunandan* 

was, as he himself tells us, born in the village of Maf'o near 

Mankar, Burdwan. His dates are 

Raghunandan GosvamT. , ^ , . i . i i i < 

not exactly known* but he undoubt- 
edly belongs to our period, for Raj-narayan Basu in his 
Ekrd Sekal i elates how Raghunandan used to come very 
frequently to Calcutta to meet the lexicographer, 
Ramkamal Sen. His two considerable works are Srl- 
Bam-rasa^an and Sri Rri'//ui-3Irt(i//(ibo<Ia^a,hesk\es Gltamala, 
a work on Krsna-llla. Although both these works belong 
chronologically to a later period — the latter, as its colophon 
says,^ having been composed in 184-9 and the former 

' He gives some account of himself and his family at the conclusion 
of hie Ram'Tosayan. 

" The BangabasT edition of his Ram-rasayan gives 1786 (1193 B. S.) 
as the date of his hirth. 

-nrt^T?! ntft^t^srtC^^^t 'l^^rfJl'nt"^ l Published by tho author's son 
Madan Gopul GosvamI in 1890 (1297 B. S.) 


probably in 1S31' — it could be convenient to notice them 
brietly here. His Raiii-raxriyan, a voluminous ami laborious 
production, is a tolerably well written version of the 

liawaz/aii ehieflv based upon ^'almTki 

Sri Ram Raeaijau ' ^ 

but sui)plemented from other sources. 
The lanj^ua^e is clear, viij;orou.s and picturesque, although 
indicatini; a decided leaninj;- towards Sanscrit words : and 
the work is composed throughout in the jniyar metre, 
occasionallv diversified bv varieties of irniaill and other 

• * ' 

common metres. Strictly speakinij;, the author is not 
close or literal or even faithful in his version which is 
more than a mere translation. There are con.«-iderable 
additions and omissions- and the whole theme is treated 
with a freedom which characterises most of the early 
translators. The author possesses a marvellous narrative 
\^\{i which makes his work interestin<;. It is not accurate 
to state that the author is merely a learned )»undit entirely 
devoid of j)oetic f^iff or power of delineating character 
but his poetic «;ift is not equal to his cai)acity of rhythmical 
expression and his command over a more or finishai 
style. In spite of all its faults, it is however a very 
remarkable production and to re<jard it as perhajis the 
best Beui^ali version of the UZiuiayny after Krttibas is 
not altoj^t'tht-r unwarranted. In his next work, Srl-HUdha 
AJii'f/ui o<lai/a, however, the Haisnab Hai^hunandan fouml 

' This Hate is i^veii in tho prffHce to tlio Brinsrubftsi edition, hIbo 
ill Bangnhhafur Lekhnk, p. 249. It could not hiiTo been, as Diuesli 
Chandra Sen atatea {History, p. \Q3), com poaed iu the middle of the 
18th centur}'. 

* Eapecially in i'ttarkantlit. 

' See eepecially the pot-tic rleacription in ffl'tT^fa, lj •ffilC^? 
fiff«wn*t«, ^ ifiJCS^f, iind the Inat thapter on Si^t^IRy^ •nmf^^j^ 
f^\li ( ^Tfl ▼!« ) I 


a more congenial sjubject and greater scope for poetical 

treatment. Its essential theme is 
and .sVl Radha ^\^^ time-wom yet eternally delighttul 

Mudhnhodayii. • , •' _ 

Brndabana-llla of Sri Kr«na bejjinniu<; 
of Sri Radhii's rUgodai/a (dawning of love) to the Hnal 
ras-lUu. The work, written in a kabya form, is divided 
into thirty four Ullasas or chaj)ters i?i which the whole 
course of Radha's love is elaborately depicted with the 
rapture of a devotee and the enthusiasm of a poet. The 
first few chapters which described the germination 
{hliahank II rodg ama) and growth {h/iabapruka'sa) of love in 
Radha's heart and the first meeting of the lovers through 
the contrivance of Paurnamasi and Madhumarigal — two 
unique creations of Ragunandan's — are written with 
considerable skill and poetic spirit.' It may be described, 
in a sense, as a systematic Baisnab Kabya. 

But in both these works, Raghunandan exhibits the 
same decadent tendency towards tinical nicety and metrical 

dexterity, towards frigid conceits, 
CharacteristicK of conventional images and elaborate 

liis writings. 

metaphors, which marks all poetical 
writing, secular and religious, since the time of Bharat 
Chandra. In the narrative portions, Raghunandan is easy 
and natural enough and shows a considerable gift of quiet 
humour ; but in his poetical description he affects, in 
common with his contemjiorarv poets, an elaborate and 
artificial style. His weakness for the display of metrical 
skill, again, is very marked. Besides />«//«/• and iripaiJl, 
he makes use of a large variety of metres — inafjhajiy 

* For an appreciation of these chapttTS, see M. M. Harapmsad 
Sastri's article in Narayaii, 1322-23. vol. i, pp. 31-43 and pp. 638-648. 
Madhuninngal, however, is not nn original creation of Kaphnuandan's 
but he was a more or less conventional figure of the bidu^aku type, in 
the popular yatras. 


ekaball, lalita, iota ka, pajjahati/ca. jama ka, tunaka, //nifru 
brttichatiifjpndl, sodat^rikfjarJ koficH jamaka, to mention 
only a few — in his Hudlni Madhubodaya. The following 
description ol' the heroine's beauty, althoup;h ehowinjj^ 
copsiderable skill, is yet conventional ami illustrates the 
author's leaning towards sanscritisation. 

5rf?i^t^5^-65-'Jt«j^ si^ 5jf^ ^t^ I 
-v^ ''^^ *f^ ^^^ f^^ ^^^-ft II 

The Kame nniaik a]i]>lits to the following defciiption 
of Kam in his LTon-iosa^yan 

5i^ei-:^c1.:^f5Jf gvl f^1.^J^l7\<^ || 
5f5frlt-^^-^flf?T^ ^?5 ^ii]^ -Sff^ 1^«1 I 
?J?I^.;(J»-^5f-^t5T 5I«ltT$ ^^ ^ 11 

^f'fSm-fsfijiJ f^^f? ^^ »M«(<T ^f'^ II 

. ■* 

* Radhdmadhabodaya, p. 31. * Ram RnMayan, p. 931. 


These short lyrics are, hou-ever, inadequate for giving 
an idea of Raghunandan's stvle : but thev will sufBeientlv 
indicate both his merits and defects. Raglmnandan is by 
no means a slovenly writer but in his striving after technical 
perfection, he is often elaborate and artificial. His writings 
display faultless execution and a great command over the 
language; but ingenuity and verbal or rhythmic dexterity 
can never supply perennial nutriment for art. It is only 
when Kaghunandan rises above these prepossessions — and 
he does this not very seldom — that he exhibits poetical 
quality of no mean order. 

Next to ftaghunandan, the royal poet Javnarayan 
Ghosal of Bhukailas (1 751-1821) deserves mention. After 

spending the greater portion of his 

Jay.narSyan Gho9al, j^fg j^ the service of the Nawab and 

in the confidence of the company Jay- 

narayan obtained the title of Maharaja Bahadur from the 
Emperor of Delhi. During his last days, he passed a 
retired life of religious devotion at Benares where he has 
left too many traces of iiis large-hearted benevolence.' It 
was here that he conceived the idea of translating the KTisI- 
Khaiidn into Bengali. The whole history of the under- 
taking is said forth bv Javnaravan himself in the last 
chapter of his work.^ The translation, begun in 1792, 
was completed in a hundred chai)ters (about 11,200 lines) 
under the joint authorship of Jay-narayan, Nrsirhha Deb 
Rav of Patuli, Jagannath Mukhopadhyay, BakreSvar 
Panchanan and several other scholars and poets. After 
the completion of the hundred chapters, sevei-al supplemen- 
tarv chaptei"s, which stand by themselves, were added by 

' For more details about his life, see Sahitya Pansat Patrika, vo]. 
vii, p^l-25; Sahifi/n, .302 pp. 1 i91-6 : Preface to the Sahitya Parisat 
edition of Jaynarayan's Kanl-parikrama, 

» See Koil-parilrama (Sahitya Parisat edition), Ch. xiii, pp. 222-24. 


Jayniiravan himself, i;ivin<r a more or less luitlil'ul j)icture of 
contemporary Beuares drawn from tlie poet's own observa- 
tion. The work itself is a tedious and laborious compilation 
but this suppUmentary account, which is the best part and 

„. „ . which lias been published separately 

Ilia &tisi-j)nnA»rt))in . . ^ _ f 

under the title of Kus'i-purikraiiiu, is 
indeed very interesting as a j^ood sj)ecimen of descriptive 
poetry of this period. The topo<»;raphy ami other details of 
the holy city are given with elaborate care, and in places the 
descriptions are original, amusing and considerably realistic. 
'T\\Q parikramas are not rare things in old Bengali literature 
and we Ijave Nabadclpu Parikrama and B/aJajjarikramu of 
Namhari Chakrabarti and a \n'Ose Brndabana Parikrama 
belonging to the ISth century. With these works of the 
same nature Krisl-parikra/ua does not compare unfavour- 
ably, and as a more or less trustworthy contemporary 
account of the holy city, the work is certainly valuable. But 
from the strictly literary point of view, it seems to possess 
little interest or importance. Jayniiravan is a facile and 
methodical versifier but he is hardly a poet. The pictorial 
nature of his theme no doubt afforded many opportunities 
for higher poetical (lights but the author is so entirely 
devoid of the soaring gift that he is uniformly and hope- 
lessly peilestrian, although occasionally he gives us 
undoubtedly vigorous descriptive verses. He has no fancy, 
no enthusiasm and his over-praised comjiosition' is often 
merely prosaic and always rigidly conventional. The only 
praise which he deserves relates to the fact that although 
he adheres both in sjurit and form to the traditions and 
exjiectations of the time, he yet devotes a stern attention 
to the realities of scenery and character descril)ed. His 
pictures, however, sadly lack a touch of that light which 

'Dincsh Chandra Sen, in Uistoiy.loi:. cit. in Snhitya, loc. cit. ; Nagcndra- 
nath Basu, preface to the Sahitya Pariijat edition of Kai'i- Parikrama, 



was never on sea and land and which alone could have 
made them poetic. He is a g'ood photographer but not a 
painter ; and whose considers him as such may appreciate 

him better. Jaynarayan's other pub- 
ma Karuva.nidann. ]{s]^e(i ^ork, KormiR-nidUn-lHus,^ k\- 


though less known, is much better 

production. Purporting to be a work devoted to the 

glorification of the special deity whose image the author 

had set up at Ka§l and from whom the book derives its 

name, it really treats of Kr.fnal!la in a refreshingly 

original and poetical way. 

Other minor writers, who favoured the old style and 

belonged to this group, need not and can not in a book like 

this dealt with at much length. We must, however, 

mention, if not enlarge upon, a school of poets (or rather 

versifiers) who were the direct imita- 

School of Bharat . r. r. i _ . i ^ i , • i 

Chandra. ^ors 01 Bharat-chandra and continued 

the style of Bidi/asnndar even beyond 
the fifties. Bharat-chandra, like Ram-prasad in another 
sphere, had been through his Bid yasundar the ruling power 
for nearly a century. Writing under the shadow of his 
genius, this belated group of writers are all servile copyists, 
reproducing the style and scheme of his Bidyasundar down 
to minute details but unable to repeat its poetry, they 

exaggerate its freedom into licence. 
. T'"''} ""'I I^l^-y The details of Sundar's amours, his 

imitation ot Bulya- 

sundar. intrigues, his capture and ultimate 

union with Bid}a are all repeated 
anew in a more or less diversified form ; but the 

' A printed copy of thii will be found in the Calcutta Imperial 
Library. The book is included in the list of books published by the 
School Book Society before 1821. Long, in his article in Calcutta 
Raview, xiii. 1850, describes this work as "an account of a new god 
recently created by a rich native," For an account of the work, lee 
Sahitya Parimt Patrika, he. cit. 


stories are brutally and iinooiitrolIeiUy indecent, altliou^h 
•ifenei-ally presented like their prototype under the 
all-atoning garb of religion ; and their heroes aie typical 
Don Juans in the worst sense. The plots are more 
elabo!-ate and the series of adventures desperately fantastic, 
though i)resenfed with the monotonous sameness of scheme. 
There are places where Bhiirat-ehandra is free and coarse 
enough, but in these his gifted followers attempt to outdo 
their master in his own ground and hobble along in 
wretched drawing out of the vulgar j^arts of the theme, 
tlounderinir in the mud which they delight in but which is 
as foul and dull as ever human imagination could conceive. 
The versitication is poor, the descriptions dull and conven- 
tional, and there is hardly any elevating poetic touch or 
other redeeming feature in these verse-tales, which are never 
gj-aceful but always graceless in one particular. It would 
be a mistake to attribute all this to the influence of Persian 
tales, for it is not clear whether these foreign tales were 

abundantlv accessible and well-known 
Their depraved taste to the writers of this generation and 

not flue to Pcrsifiu ... 

induence. even when accessiVjle, it is not clear 

whether such tales are really as bad as 
they are ott€n represented to be. The Persian tales, to 
judge from tiie specimens which have survived, very 
seldom sink to that depth of indecent realism where these 
productions of a degenerate and depraved taste do often 
wallow ; on the other hand, thesi- elaborate Bengali tales 
unmistakably bear the stamp of if/V///«7.?/'//r?^/ /-style run 
riot. It would be better to regard them as representing a 
phase of the develoj)ment of literary taste in this period of 
unstability and degeneracy which is also jiartially reflected 
in the klirnd of the Kabiwalas, in the grossness of certain 
aspects of hap ol/id'ii, fnrja, p<ii1irfuif i and other productions 
of the same type. Most of these verse-tales are now scarce, 


suppressed by the law and never allowed to be reprinted, 
and it is not necessary to drag them out of their deserved 
obscurity ; but there is evidence to show that from the end 
of the I8th to the middle of the 19th century this prolific 
literature, outrageous as it is to all taste, obtained consider- 
able favour and currency. The earliest surviving specimen 
of these tales, however belong to a period j)osterior to ISlo 
and do not therefore properly come within the scope of this 

volume, although it is quite probable 

The most flourishing ^hat it was preceded by a host of 

time of tins litera- similar in-oductions, belonging to an 

turo falls outside our _ 

period. earlier date, which are now lost to us. 

Kali Krsna Das's Kaminl Kumar, 
however, is placed by some at the end of the 18th century, 
but the earliest printed copy ' that we have seen bears the 
date of 1836 ; while Chaiidrakania, the next well-known 
piece cannot i)ossibly belong to a much earlier date. 
Madan Mohan's BasabdnttU, written in the same style but 
with finer power and greater delicacy, was first published 
in 18.37. These were followed by a host of other works of 
the same type such as Tarachiliud Datta's Manmatha 
Kahija (1811), Munsi Eradot's Kuniiiga-hhauu (1845), 
Umficharan Tribedi's Madan Madliun (I85()), Banamall 
Ghopal's Padmdgandha-npiikliyZin (1804), Bisvambhar Das's 
licijanlkauta (1870), Gobinda 8ll's /Irn/hifa-Rafikanfa 
(1870 ?) all belonging to a period between 1810 and 1870. 
This would, therefore, amply indicate that between these 
dates there wa-s an exuberant growth, if not recrudescence 

'The copy in the Siihitj'a Pari^at Librarj' is wanting in tlie title- 
page. The date given in the text is the date given in a copy lent to me 
by a friend but which is now lost and is probably the date of the first 
edition ; for there is a copy of Kali Kr^na's other work, Manhhaiijan, in 
the Siihitya I'arisat Library bearing ISSG (fSaka 1778) as the date 
apparently of the first edition. It is not unlikely therefore to hold that 
Kall-Ei"jna's works belong to the period between 1836 and 1856. 


of this reactionary literature, helped probably by the re- 
l)rintin^ of Bidi/anumJar in 1831) and 1817. 

The miscellaneous poetry of this period is so uninanai^e- 
ably scattered and so diversified that it j)resents a diflicult 

problem of selection and of satisfactory 

Miscellaneous poet8 treatment. Hesides the varieties of 
ami songsters. 

])oems and sonij;s already mentioned, 

we have mtdtifarious types of rural productions, mostly 

musical, like Jaii gan, (j'iiji'' f/ln, ilahu git, ^ale fjlf, 

Klrtan giiu, Dhap sniiglfy G/ieta gun, San gun, IKml taiigJf, 

tarj'i gall, specimens of which have survived in the mouths 

of the peo])le, althou»^h not always accessible in print. 

Much of this rural literature, composed by ini^lorious and 

unknown poets, display, as all rural literature does, a 

touching quality and a natural poetic sensibility which is 

interesting: to note' ; but, f^enerally 

Acthorsofi'a»ic/ia/i speakinjj, much of it is not literature 

and Yutra. * '^' 

at all and must be riiridlv excluded. 

Amon<:j these purvejors of ephemeral stuff, the authors of 
Prcmrhrifi and Yafra must be mentioned, not because they 
are always worth mention but because their literary preten- 
sions have, riorhtly or wronji^ly, always received reco<:;nition, 
as a peculiar form of iiuli^enous literature which at one 
time had obtained threat popularity. 

The origin of Puinc/ta/i-fionfrs of tite modern type 
cannot be di'linitely tract'tl. Dinesh 

Origin of Pamchali Chandra Si-u, in his Iwo works on 

lient^ali Literature* i>uts forward the 

brilliant but hardly convincing conjecture that the 

'Accounts of rami poets hn<\ their songs have from time to time 
appoarotl in various Bengali journals. For an interesting appreciation 
of rural literature in general, see Rabindra Nflth Thukur, (iramyn 
iyuhityn pnblished in his volume on Lok- Sahilya. 

' Bnngnhha^a Sahityn, 2n(l Ed , p. 221 ; Uigtnry «/ Bengali 
Langnagt and Literature, p. 385. 


Pa'ffichali (sj)elling the word as Paiicha/i) is ultimately 
connected with Paiiehiil or Kanauj, which he takes to be 
the birth-place of tiiis kind of song. It may, however, 
be pointed out that there is no trace of //amcZ/a/j-song* 
of the modern type (such as those popularised by Dasarathi 
Ray) in ancient literature ; but that the word PamchU/i 
it is well known, was used indiscriminately for all sorts 
of poetical composition which could be recited and which 

l)ossessed a religious theme. Thus 
Ancient aud nioclern ^|^g Paraqall Mahd.h/nxrat or the 

types of pamchah '' 

mast be distinguished. Makahkarat of Nityananda Ghos is 

called hliarat-pariu'lirdi or simply 
pamchali in their respective hfianiias. Similarly Kabi- 
kankan Chandl is desipjnated throunjhout by its author as 
pamchafi or pamchali-prabnndka, and even in a work like 
Jagannath Mangal, Gadadhar Mandal states that he is 
composing his work in the style of pamc/iali. ' Thue we 
have, besides those mentioned above, Sanir pamchali, 
SastJ/Jr j'aine/tali, Mansar pZimc/ndi aud in fact p~xmcJialts 
written in praise of all the popular deities. These older 
compositions used to be recited and were therefore suitably 
arranged for pala-% or sittings for recitation. But they 
were not pariicluilif^ in the modern sense of the t^rm and 
a distinction must be made between ancient and modern 
types. Another equally fanciful etymology of the term 
pamchali is given by deriving the word from pa-chali or 
jaada-chrdan which is taken to indicate that the leader of 
such a party recited explains and sings his theme by 
moving about before the assembled audience ; but this 
interpretation fails to explain the presence of nasal m in 
the word itself. It would seem, however, that the best 

' We also get the word immchali-chhanda and nnless the word 
chhanda moans style of composition, it must be refeiied to a peculiar 
kind of metre. 


explanation is that wliit-h connects jhin^irhali with nachadi 
(which was acconii>anied by dancing; and sinorincr) and 
which regards the term pamc/ial i , ai)i)Iied to tlie modern 
tyjie of poi)ular entertainment, a.s connotinj^ five (pamc// ) 
essential thinp^s which must be present in all perfect kinds. 
What these five elements were cannot be exactly deter- 
minetl but singing (/A^'O* >nusic {xaj-bajauu), recitation 
{ch hadri-krdrvia) , poetical rivalry {(juner ladai) and possibly 
dancinj^ {uach) more or less accompanied all jjuiiu/ialts in 
later times. 

As this form of entertainment has practically dis- 
appeared from modern Bengal, it would be worth 
while to quote the followin(]r interesting description of a 
/'(777tc^<T/i performance which, lengthy as it is, is still valuable 
as coming from one who himself was more or less connected 
with it and who mut;t have also seen the performance of 
Da5u Kiiy himself.* 

^«nii ^n^ ^z^^, 'ft^tf^ic^ T^^f^^^ ^i-Asvs ws\ 9 ^nz^ 

' ManoiDohnn Bnen, ifaNo>mohan 0Tta6«rr, pp. 18I-IR3. 


^^•C^ f^f^^l ^n^^t^ ^1^ ^1^1^51^ ^^ f^^C?!^ W^l ^t^lkiVf I 
^9ft^ ^ ^t^^T^ ^^^^ C^1^1 ^¥ ^]f^ ^^^ ^5? ^^ Jif^ss, 

7\-^ ypgt^^ I 1^1 ^t^tl^ ^Ic^ ^^^^ flf^^ ^1^1?I ^I15R I . . . 

'swf^^ -ni^^i ^t^^i?^ ^tf^ ^f^^ ^fjm ^]tui^, (2tf^^.^ Pt^ 

Cm?1 'l^^^t^ 1^^ ^tf^^l ^1^ ^t^ll^1 ^^^^1lf?^ sji^^l ^11^15 

^ ^i^T^i? ^ftw^ 'l^ ^t^tw^ 'Si'^U ^ ''s;^^ ^«=.^ ^2t^^»f if(5j? 

^^m ^^t^ ^v<^, f^#?i ^t^ 5(t^, ^ft^ 1^^ ^H -mti^^, ^1^1 
^t^t^ c^ 5^1^—^^ i^tt^ c^ <si^^ i2i^5? f^^i; ?-f^i^5? I 

Such is the pUmehrdi of the modern type. It is not 
known in what form it existed in earlier periods but the 
kind described began to be po])ular from the beginning of 


tlie r.lth century. Diiyaratlii Hfiy was uiuloiihtedly the 

greateiit, il' not tlie earliest, writer 

Chronology of the ^f ^^^ o;roup, but it is not beyond 
Pa/wc/jfi/i-writerB. . 

doubt whether it was he who first 

modified its earher form and set in the new fashion. 

Before Dasarathi we i;et the name of Ciangiiram 

Naskar who is sometimes rei^ardeil as tlie founder of 

this new type; ami (iuro Dumbo, who is taken by 

some to be a p~rnic//rih' -writer and not a Kabiwala, 

certainly flourished prior to Da-sarathi. IJut of the.«;e 

earlier mysterious fii^ures, nothint*- jiractically is known 

and no specimen of their production has come down to us. 

Mter Dasu Kay, came Sannyasi Chakrabarti, Nabin 

ChakrabartT, Rasik Kay, Thiikur Dfis Datta, Gobardhan 

Das, Kesab Chamd, Nanilal, Jadu Ghos and a host of 

others who were more or less followers and imitators of 

Dasarathi Kay, their acknowledij^ed head in the line. The 

latter, therefore, may not be untitliu'^ly described as the 

great exi)onent and populariser, if not the originator, of 

pavichali in its modern form. 

Thus, although widely prevalent in the beginning of 

the I'.Hli century, we get no surviving specimen of 

pUmc/iUli belonging to the i)eriod bet- 
Tlie most tloiirialiiiiK ii -»,, i i \- • i i • i 

perkxi of pTiHichrtii ^veeii I bOU ami \b-l.), with winch this 

falls outside our volume is directly Concerned; for, 
Bent scope. . '' ' ' 

Dfwsu Kay himself was born in 1804 
or 1805 and his imitators and followers belong to a period 
considerably later. Imleed, the most flourishing time of the 
moileru yA7mf//c7// was between lh2.> ami 1 800, and there- 
fore, strictly speaking, it falls outside our period. It \\;i> a 
form of entertainment which began t<> be pujiular after 
the reputation of the Kabiwalas had been already on the 
decline ; y><7?nc//(7// -literature should, therefore, be more 



fittinoly taken up in its proper place in the treatment of 
the next period. 

The same remarks with re2;ard to chronology apply also 

to yZdra, a species of popular amuse- 
The yuira. ment which was closely allied to 

kahi and pumcJnifi and prevalent 
from a very early period but of which sj^ecimens have come 
down from comparatively recent times. The traditional 
existence of i/a frits is known to us from time immemorial 
and in Bharat's Nidj/asastra, we hear of popular semi- 
dramatic performances which have been generally regaixled 
as the probable precursor of the jwpular yatraa, on the 

one hand, and of the later Sanscrit 
Its antiquity. dramatic literature on the other. In 

Bhababhuti's MUlofl-madhava,^ the 
word i/atra is used probably in the technical sense as well 
as in the general sense of a festivity. It cannot be 
determined now whether the ijafras lineally descended 
without deviation from these earlier popular festive enter- 
tainments of the operatic type, obtaining from the earliest 
times, or whether the later Sanscrit dramatic literature, 
especially represented in such irregular types as the 
Mn/ianrdaka or in the particular operatic types noted in all 
works on Sanscrit dramaturgy, reacted u])on it and greatly 
modified its form and s})irit. l?ut it may be noted that the 
jn'incipal elements in the old i/alrU seem to be of indigenous 
growth, })eculiar to itself. In the first place, the yrdra 

generally i)ossessed a religious or 

The principal ele- nivthological theme, pointing to a 
ments in tlio yatru, '' ^ ' ' 

peculiar to itself. probable connexion with religious 

festivities and ceremonies. In the 

next place, although there always existed a dramatic 

' Malat'i-madhava (Bomb. Sans. Series Ed.), p. 8. 


eloment, the sonij-cloniont absolutely piepondcrated and the 
choral peculiarities threw into shade its mimetic fjualities. 
And lastly, there were anomalous and p;rotes(|iie elements 
in it which at once indicated a partial absence of the 
dramatic sense and materially retarded its fjrowth. All 
thet-e natui-ally stood in the way of takini^ the ^J//a out of 
its operatic structure and evolving the proper dramatic 
form and sj)irit ; but these at the same time helped to 
create by themselves a special nondescript species which 
cannot be confidently traceil back to any known or reeoj^- 
niped type of earlier times. 

But the yafru, in however crude and undeveloped form, 
contained within itself the ijjerms of a reoular drama. 
Although the prinei})al theme was drawn from religion or 

mythology, the realities of scenery 
rnricyclopcd and j^^j character were not absolutely 

tiiulc dramatic cle- *' 

mcnts. ignored. It is true that there was 

hardly any action, and therefore there 
was little analysis or development of character. Even 
there was no scenic apparatus and all the details were left 
to the imagination of the audience, l^ui all this was 
made up for by the gift of communicating life to the 
persons, the story, and the dialogues as well as by the rich 
o[HM-atic (pialities of the performance. AVith the modern 
stage-actor or <lramatist, the Yatrawala never enters into 
comparison ; he is working on a different scene, addressing 
a different audience and using different tools, colours and 
methods. Nevertheless within his limits, he could make 
his theme interesting ami his characters lively by a natuml 
gift i>f vivid representation. The niakeshifts which he 
used were crude and, taken in detail, his methods were 
faulty, but he succeeded with all his rude resources in 
making the whole picture impressive and entertaining to 
his audience. It is, therefore, quite natural to lind the 


Yatrawala making a ^kill'iil use of the common yet useful 
device of minj^liuf^ the hulieious and the patlietie in order 
to add a lively zest to the story. The serious and the 
comic set off each other and relieve the melodramatic strain 
of the whole performance. Again, every representation 
was concerned primarily with the j^i-adual nnfoldinf? of a 
sing'le plot ; it never consisted of a disjointed "padding" 
of unconnected scenes and characters. Through the 
necessarily slow and elaborate transition of the whole 
performance, the story is made to stand out clear and alive. 
In the midst of all its surroundings and accessories, this 
was always kept in view in every regular ^(7/;"<7. Si)eaking 
of the once famous yZdra of Parama Adhikarl, a writer in 
the old series of Bawjadarhau lays stress upon tiiefaet that 
Parama's yZdrZi could never be realised in isolated scenes or 
songs, inimitably done though they were, but the whole 
performance had to be witnessed from the beginning to the 
end. In later periods, mundane subjects and secular 
themes found their way into the religious yZdni and its 
monotony and seriousness were relieved by the introduc- 
tion of lively, though conventional, interludes of a farcical 
nature conducted bv characters like Narada or Madhu 
Mangal. All these indicated the enormous possibilities 
of the i/atru for gradually approximating towards the 
regular drama. 

In course of time, the diania j)roper might have, in 
this way, slowly evolved it.self from the indigenous ^(///v7, just 
in the same way as the English drama of the Renais- 
sance evolved itself from the medi- 
Wbv tin' anioiplious . i • i i 

iiTitn, \\\d not develop tn'al mysteries and miraele-plays. 

into the regular ,^^ ^^^ ^^.^ j^^^.^ ^^^^ inherent 

drama. ' ' 

opportunities for such a course of 

development. The mimetic qualities of a yaira, its real- 
istic tendencies, its weaving out of a consistent i)Iot, its 


taste for a personal and lively dramatic story, its min<'lin|L; 
of the comic and the serious — all these traits more or less 
iudieatc'd that the amori)hous i/afra mi<;ht have passed into 
an indiiu'enous form of the re<;ular drama. Ikit as a matter 
of fact it never had done so in ils whole course. Indeeil in 
ancient lkiii:;:ali literature, inspite of these and other advan- 
ta«;es and of the presence of a pattern literature in Sans- 
crit, we have piactically nothinjjj by way of dramatic 
composition ; and the be^iniiini>s of the stai;e and the 
drama in tlie I'Jth century Bengal, on the other hand, had 
little connexion with the popular t/ufni. We shall trace 
this point in detail in its proper place; but we may note 
lu-re that notwithstanding- these opportunities, other 
conditions were not favourable and . there were serious 
obstacles, both external and internal, which stood effectively 
in the way of such a develoj)ment. 

Althoui^h dissimilar in many respects, the early i/atra 
shows in character and substance some resemblance to the 

medieval mystery and miracle-play 
Contrast with tlie i i ^i i i ,i • • • ,i 

European medieval ^"^l '^''th had their ori-iu lU the popu- 

mystery and miracle- ].j,. representation of rclii^ious themes. 

play. ' 

But the conditions of j^rowth and ex- 
pansion iliffered considerably in the two cases. 

The intellectual readjustment which followed upon the 
R^Miaissance in Europe, tended to the i^vadual secularisation 
(»f literature and the creation of a vii^orous mundane vitality 
which Could supply the basis of the new theatre. Free 
belief replaced imi)0sed orthodoxy, nioral fervour replaced 
determined relijjious practices, energetic action iind emotion 

replaced external and mechanical 

Influence of the ibseipline. With the (lisapi>earancc 
Ronaissancc in develop- • i i • i 

ing European drama ; of the bondage of medievali>m, which 

had forbidden a life of nature and 

worKlly hopes, and with the api)earance of the morally 


and intellectually emancipated man of the Renaissance^ 

life grew into a real thing. A'ast and vital changes became 

manifest in the internal as well as the external world, in 

society, in politics, in religion, in the thoughts and asjiira- 

tions of mankind. The drama was the natural outcome 

of this rich and manifold life, of this practical and positive 

movement which had })laced literature on a purely human 


Bengal, on the other hand, never witnessed such a great 

movement, bringing in its train intellectual, moral and civic 

emancipation. There was no such universal awakening 

or enthusiasm. The external world had never ])ossessed 

any inherent interest to the naturally 

but no such influence ^toical and idealistic Hindu and no- 
in ancient Bengal. 

thing happened which would take 

away this inbred apathy. His deep-rooted pessimism with 
regard to this world and unlimited optimism with regard 
to the next had produced a stoical resignation, an epicu- 
rean indifference and a mystic hope and faith which para- 
lysed personal action, suppressed the growth of external 
life, and rejilaced originality by submission. In literature, 
therefore, which was overwhelmed by the crushing idea 
of a brooding fate {adrii^tabarl) or of a divinity shajiing our 
ends {debit Ilia), religion was the only theme which flourish- 
ed itself and song or recitative poem was the only 
vehicle which conveyed this religious preoccupation. 

The prevalence of the rigoristic (w;/- 

Innnences M. ^^ -. jj^^^j ^^^^^i ^j^^ natural prominence 
nioulded national lite •' ' » 

and natural cliaractcr givcs to )<aHvik Over the rujiXsik quali- 

in BtMigal, not favour- ... , • !•«• 

able to the develop- ties tostered an indifterence to mun- 

nient of the -/«^m into Jane activities and an ab.sorptiou in 
the drama. ' 

supermundane affairs which materi- 
ally hampered free expansion of art, science and literature 
of the nation. A majestic common sense, a rich feeling 


for the concrete facts and forces of luunan nature and 
liumau lift', a sense of enjoyment of tlie <:^ood thinj^s of 
earth, a passion of enerj^y and action are traits which foster 
material civilisation and arts but which are antagonistic to 
Hindu ideas of placid contentment, t) the insensibility, 
amazement and ecstasy of religious devotion, to the wist- 
fulness and i)athos of spiritual desire. Even in Sanscrit, 
complete secularisation of literature ami development of 
poetry and drama could be possible in the more practical, 
l)0sitive and materially civilised a^e of a Vikramiiditya or 
a Harsavaitlhan. A national drama is not only the pro- 
duct of national tjlorv but it is also a sure index to the 
sensitive and eneriijetic strength of the external life of the 
nation itself. 

But there were drawbacks inherent in the y'dra itself 
which stood in the way of its develojiing into a drama 
proper and the foremost of these drawbacks was the fact 

that in the y~ifi'a, the operatic and 

The preponderance of ^j.^. melodramatic elements alwavs 
the operatic and melo- 
dramatic elements in ])reponderated over the dramatic, 
the j/a/ra, and its reli- „m vh.\ t i a.\\ i 
gions theme lucre was little dialogue, still less 

action, but there was alwavs an ex- 
elusive predominance of songs in which even the dialogues 
were cart led on and the whole action worked out. This 
over-llow of the song-element, no doubt, redeemed much of 
the incongruities and anomalies of the yUtra. but it also 
told seriously on the development of its dramatic elements 
by tending to destroy, in a Hood of music and musical epi- 
sodes, all considerations of dramatic probability and pro- 
priety. The peculiar mode of singing cfiaiipadlx or the 
mah'tjan pailiiis by */><///<//<' or devising the peculiar variation 
of a tidku in the music of the klitan was utilised by every 
Yatrakar for entrancing his audience. An expert and 
skilful Vatrfiwala, however, did not always choose to walk 


in this beaten way and we learn that in tlie i/~tfra of 
Parama, ah-eady alhuled to, there was less music and 
more dialogue — a device whicii was meant to infuse a 
dramatic interest in the story; yet it is well-known 
that the chief attraction of the yatrU consisted in its 
songs and that there was nothing more delightful 
than Parama's famous hd-ko whose musical qualify no 
other yatriiwala is .said to have ever surpassed. A very 
considerable })ortion of ancient Bengali literature consisted 
of songs and of poems which could be recited or chanted 
and the i/afru in its peculiar lyric quality, strictly con- 
formed to this widely prevalent lyric propensity. The 
influences which moulded national life and national cha- 
racteristics helped rather than checked this universal 
tendency and there was absolutely nothing which could 
lift the i/atra out of its religious envelopment or its musi- 
cal structure. 

The yZdrZi, again, began to be extremely popular from 

a literary period which powerfully contributed to its 

lyric and religious tendencies. The earliest reference to 

the yaira ])robably dates from the 

emphasised and en- Baisiiab era. But Baisiiabism, if it 
couraf^cd by the ' " ' • 

Baisnab literature, humanised literature to a certain extent, 

lyric and mystic in i • i •. t, i • , 

in qnality. uartlly ever seculariseil it. It only inten- 

sified the religious ardour of the people 
and brought with it a mass of l^ric and mystic literature 
whicli was not only alien in its essence to the di-ama but 
which also encouraged the musical, melodramatic and 
religious predilections of the i/alrU. The Baisnab poets, no 
doubt, brought new ideas and novel modes of art but it is 
hardly correct to designate the Baisnab era as the 
Renaissance period of Bengal.^ It would be out of })lace 

' Saradacharan Mitra, in Suhitya, 1H15 B. S, 


to discuss this point luTe in detail ; but it may be pointed 
out that at least in the literary sphere, Bai->nabi3m was not 
a universal movement and its intluence on contemix)rary 
and subseijuent literature was never wide. In estimating 
this, intiuence on the literature of the 17th and 18th 
centuries we must <ijuard aiiainst the error of regarding it 
in the magnifyiny: perspective in which we view it in the 
19th or the iOth century, in which this inHuenee has been 
very marked. Raisnabism never disturbed seriously 
the uninterrupted course of Bengali literature from the 
earliest time down to the 18th century. Side by side 
with Baisnab sony^s and Ivrics flourished the traditional 
'f/nin(lt-/jO'' )//■■*, iiiauimar i/aii, tl/inr)ii(i-)ii(ihfi<i/ , sifju/fany which 
in form and s|)irit bear little kinship with Baisnab produc- 
tions and which alliliates itself with the earlier and later 
l)oetical litei-atiue of Bengal. Even a century later, we 
tind the same tradition carried on in the Fmhuabofl of Alaol, 
Durgapaiichtirafri of Jagat Kam, (SV//<7y// of Ramesvar, 
Aimiinda inaiif)<ti of Bharat-chandra, CuinfiahliiiHi-iarangnu 
of Durjni Prasad — all of which show little direct inlluence of 
Baisnab ideas or Baisnab forms of art. The socio-ethical 
ideas of Baisnabism, no doubt, inaugni-ated a new line of 
eultui*e; but its cosmojwlitanism, its ideal of universal 
love and its theory of emotional realisation was antagonis- 
tic to tlie development of nationality or of national ideas. 
A spark of new life animateil the social organism but this 
new-horn reliijious enthusiasm hardly jwrmitted its votaries 
to stand and cast a l<jok around them ; it carried them 
off their feet in a Hooil of devotional ecstasy, in a Hood of 
lyric idealism. Instead of a full-bloode<l dramatic litera- 
ture, it gave us a mass of resplendent religious-amatory 

The inlluence of Baisnabism, therefore, was haitUy favour- 
able to the development of the iidierent dramatic elements 



in the ijatra ; on the other hand, it cherished its musical pecu- 
liarities, developed its nielodramatio 

The \iah-a in the tendency, and emphasised its religrious 
Baignab era ; intluence . 

of Bai^nab ideas. predilections. Indeed, we find the 

Baisiiabs utilising the i)optdar 
yalrZi as a means of representin<»' kr,9nii-/ila and diffusing 
its novel ideas. The earliest t/atru of which we have 
any mention relate to such themes and was known 
technically and universally as the Kfi^na-yaira. In early 
Bengali literature prior to Chaitanya, no doubt, there pre- 
vailed songs relating to Saiba and Sakta cults and it is pro- 
bable that with these prevailed also SiLa-i/atra and CJiandl- 
yaira, traces of which we find even in 18th century, and pro- 
bably also Rani-yatra which had, however, no kinship ^^^th 
the spectacular Ram-llla prevalent in the upper provinces. 
It is extremely difficult, in the absence of data, to speak 
confidently on the suV>ject : but it seems that in course of time 
with the advent of Baistiab ideas, Kr/^na-f/afra overshadowed 
all other kinds and became absolutely supreme. The 
generic name of this ya/ra was Kallya-daiaan i/atrZi which, 
however, in spite of its name, related not only to this parti- 
cular feat of Krsna but included also diln, man, mathur and 
other well-known I'lJas. These //«^a!f were preceded, as the 
Klrtan of the Baisnab? were {fad uc hit a gaurachamlrn), by 
the recitation or singing of a govra-chandrl — a term which 
uimiistakably conneets it with Gaurachandra or Ghaitanya. 
In Chaitanyn-mangal and Ch nit tui i/d-bhagahaf ' mention is 
made of a yj/zv-festivity organised by Chaitanya himself 
in the house of Cliandrasekhar Acharvva. The historv of 

' Chaitavyn-hhagahaf , cil. Atiilkrjna GosvflmT, pp. 283-291. The ex- 
preBsion used is 'Sftf^ ■^f^^tS ^T WiW^ f^'ltC*', iioiii which as well ai 
from the account given, it is not clear whether it was ii yiltra which was 
performed on this ocension or whether it was a regular Sanscrit drama 
(sucli as tho Bnifnab plays like Jagnnrmfha-hitllnhlw, D'tunWU -Icaumudi 
or Vidagdha-fnadhavn in Hengali version) which wan enacted on this 

MISCKLLA X i:ors AV H rrKK8 4.11 

Heiiy-iili i/alrU, therefore, is clost'ly coniiectcil uilli that 
of Bai-ii:ili literature in i^enerjil and it would noi be in- 
oorrect to say that Baisnabism supplied the j/afni with 
themes for geveml centuries and contirnied, if it did not 
directly give it, its oj)eratie and nieh.dramatic qualities. 

These qualities jiersisted practically throuijfhout its 
whole iiistory. But in course of time we Hud the yil/ra, 
inspite of tlie drawback already noted, gradually developing 
its crude dramatic elements. After the Baisnab era, the 

earliest well-known Yiitrawala was 
New elements in the Pa,-amananda Adhikarl, a native of 

yatra flndinp its wht ' 

into it in iut«r periods. Blrbhuni, who flourished probably in 

the 1 ^th century and carried on the 
tradition of Ka/h/ti-thimini i/alra. There was a trreater 
amount of acting and dialogues in this i/UIra, although 
song, melodrama and Baisnab themes were not altogetiier 
discarded. The tradition was continued by Sudama Adhi- 
kari and Lochan Adhikiirl, the latter specially excelling 
in the delineation of Alrvra S(tmC~t(l and NimUi Sanm/as — 
themes which possessed greater human interest than the 
conventional //(7//, ///<T//, nuiilmr of Srikrsna. Gobinda 
Adhikiiil of Kr.^nanagar, Fitiinibar Adhikarl of Kjitwa and 
Kalik'hand Piil of Bikramjjur, Dacca, were comparative]} 
recent exjx>nents of the same Krma-i/ii.tra. But the other 
speeii's — BTini YrUrri, C^taoid' YotiTtf Mti)t.fUr lihrumn Yatra — 
were not totally extinct. Gurupra-sfid Ballabh^ of Faras- 
dungu and Lausen Biidal of Burdwan gained considerable 
rt'putation in Chand'i iritni and MausUr Bhaxiin iafru, res- 
pectively ; while /I'tT/// ITttra, obtained celebrity in the 
hands of Prenniifind Adhikarl, Ananda Adhikfirl and Ja^a- 
ehandra Adhikarl, of Pataihata. No specimen, except a 
few scattered songs, has been pre>prved of these earlier 


Sweh is the history of the i/atrU np to the bes^innin^ 

of the 19th century. After these professional yatw, 

come varieties of modern y<7//J.«, chiefly 

The i/a^<l in the be- amateur parties {nakher dal), in 
ginning of the 19th ' _ ^ . '/ 

century. which, inspitc of their ))rofnsion of 

instrumental and vocal mn:*ic, drama- 
tic ideas and methods were slowly evolving themselves. 
Beltala I^iinjedar Yatra or the Vatra of Gopal Ude may be 
cited as instances. In imitation of prologues in Sanscrit 
drama, we have, in these, farcical introduction as well as 
interlude in which laughable, though often vulgar, charac- 
ters like Kalua Rhulua, methar and methranl began to 
figure. Again, we have hero for the general theme not 
Krsna-/7/(l as in K~ifl_)/<(-il<(iiiaii i/Fifrri or even C-kandJ- 
llld, RCirii-lilri or Mansar Kntfii'i but essentially secular 
themes of mytbolog}' or fiction such as Nala-damayanti 
or Bidya-sundar began to be prominent ; and later on 
with the degeneration of the i/afm in tone, temper 
and style, Bidya-sundar alone became the prevalent 

The existing specimens of the //(T/nT* all belong to this 
late period in its history. Although the t/alra h:id been 
extensively popular from the earliest times or even from 
the Baisnab era down to the middle of the 19th century, 
the earlier specimens have not been preserved. We know 
nothing of these earlier Vatrawaias and their j)roductions, 

excepting some general accounts which 

No earlier specimens we incidentally get here and there, 

Even all the best known Yatrawalas of 

the 19th century, whose productions have, in a more or less 

complete form, come down to us, belong to a comparatively 

recent time, to the period between 1825 and 1850. The 

Yatrawalas, nourishing between ISOO and 1825, some of 

whom have been already mentioned, are however known 


only by iianie ami reputation jiiul ewu all the names are 

oot known. This form of liteiatuie, like the prodnetion 

of the Kabiwalas, was extemporised and was meant to 

contribute to the transient pleasure of its audience ; and 

much of it. was of the ephemeral 

The printed «pcci. ^vpe. The remarks already made on 
mens wtiieh Imve come • ' -' 

down belonpr to n this aspect of the Kabi-son» apply 

period Wiwpea 1825 . , , , 

and 1850. ^•^h ecpial torce to the case of the 

i/ufr^ and, like the Kabi-sono^s, it 
dej^enerated considerably in style and temper. No 
attempt was ever made to preserve them in print and much 
of this literature is now lost. Of the few well-known 
Yatrawalas, however, whose work has been more or less 
embodie<.l in print, Krsna Kamal Bhattacharya was born 
about 1810, Gopal Ude about 1819 and Gobinda Adhikiirl, 
whose dates are not exactly known, was jir(ibal)ly a con- 
temporary of })oth these. All these writers, therefore, fall 
outside the scope of this volume. Tt was about this time 
or a little later that the yufro had already beo-un to de<?e- 
nerate. This dei^eneration was almost synchronous with 
and was therefore hastened by the chanu^e of taste and 
literarv fashion of the liHh centuiv which came to re«^rd 

all these old forms of literature as out 
DeKPneration of the of date and Contemptible. With the 

yTUra, synclironoiis i r i 

with and hastened i)v spread ot these new ideas and new 

I'utX'tm'hT,?: Ii""-»'v "••■•l.-ls a .-egula,- sta«e was 
♦nr.^ i^radually established and dramas, 

written in imitation of European 
models, tolled the death-knell of the old t/atrd which still 
lint^red but never found the same place in jwpular favour. 
It is not surprisint? therefore that in the preface to hip 
Ratnahnli, one of the earliest Benrrali dramas written 
for this new stac^e, Ramniiniyan Tarkaratna, himself an 
orthodox pundit, speaks in contemptuous terms of the 


popular j^5//(T and votes in favour of the new drama based 
on Sanscrit and Enj^lish models. The history of these 
latter-day Yatrawalas, of this phase in the development 
of the yatra and of its connexion with the new drama 
will, therefore, be traced in its proper place in the next 


[See J). 46foo(-,io(e ; ji. Il9,foot-uole 6'] 

0[,u Bkn'oam Prosk 

Thouph prose is more obviously natural to man in 

conversation, it is only after considerable exjierienee 

that he realises its utility as a metlium of formal writing. 

Beno~ali Litei-ature is no exception to 
Late growth of piose. 

this rather commonplace " verse-fii-st- 
prose-afteruiinls " adajje of literary history. Our fore- 
fathers from the very earliest times, no doubt, spoke in prose 
but it is possible to use prose without knowings or thinkin<j 
about it, and the late development of prose-writing in 
Benrjali follows f^enerally the order of development in 
almost all lanpjuajTjes. Indeed the achievement of early 
Benjjali prose is not only very late but, speaking- jjenerally, 
it amounts to almost nothincj : such achievement as there 
is, for several centuries, is in verse. Poetry attained a 
considerable degree of maturity while we have nothing 

but a mere lisping of prose. This 
Prrdomiunnce of rorae c i- p • • 

preponderance of one form of writing 

partially explain^ and is explained by the extreme poverty 

of the other : but it is more than a ca,se of preponderance, it 

is one of monopoly. It may almost be said that there is 

not a !<ingle piece of spiritwl prose of the profane kind in 

Bengali from the earliest times to the early beginnings of 

the lllth centurv : whatever exists of other kinrls is again 

late, scanty, and for the most j)art, frankly un.satisfactory. 

Not only the bulk of early prose literature is late and 
scant r but it i>- not ret (luite reasonal)l7 clear that what 


has como down ('xein])lifips vorv Fairly the wliole upon 
which we may fully form an estimate. Much of early 
Bengali prose, like its verse, is lost : much a<;ain yet 

remains to be unearthed. The only 
pifficultiesinthe way specimen of very early i)rose which 

])robably <ioes beyond tlie 16th century 
is to be found in the few doubtful passages interspersed 
in the verses »S*?7 ////</ Pi(ran i\ud perhaps in the apocryphal 
work attributed to Chandidiis : other prose specimens, 
mostly cryptic and mystical writings of the Sahajiya sect» 
together with a little good i>rose-writing of other kinds, 
may all be taken to be productions of late 1 8th century, 
none of them certainly going beyond the 17th. Any 
attempt to estimate the develoi)ment attained by old Bengali 
prose, as shown by these scanty remains, must of necessity, 
be somewhat superficial and incomjilete, not only in view 
of the fmgmentary Jiature of much of these writings but 
also because of the dilticulties of chronology. Most of 
these manuscnj)ts are unilated and show considerable 
differences of readings. Nature of the script and general 
style of composition are at best unsafe guitles, not only in 
themselves, but also because the one is not yet a matter of 
systematic study while the characteristic specimens of the 
otiier in different periods are not yet available. Even when 
the manuscripts are dated, the exact Mation of the 
maniiscript to the date of composition almost iippossible 
to determine. These ditHculties arc multiplied again by 
the presence of divergent readings in difTerent manuscripts 
of the same work. It is neetlless to say that unless we 
can stand upon lirm and sure ground in matters of 
chronology, not to speak of insuHiciency of materials to go 
upon, we can hardly expect to form a correct and critical 
-estimate of our sul)ject of stud\ and all our attempts in 
this direction ai'c at best nothing more than tentative. 


The earliest specimen of lieiifjali prose is supjiosed to 
be the sliort j)assa<^es in ttruiiai (or Ramui) Panijit's Sufij/a 
Pnrun,i\\e manuscript of which is j)lacecl bv its eth'tor (Saliitya 
Parisat edition) in the I7ih centiirv, althouoh the so-called 

prose passajyes, if not the verse, reveal a 
Earliest extant prose niuch earlier and more antique form 

specimen 6tt>jyn Purav, ' 

of diction. If the lam^uapje of the 
recently i)ublished <SV7 Kri^nn Kir tana belon<»;s to the 
earlv part of the 14th centurv,* we can safelv assume that 
the prose of Suni/a Pin-an m'lst have had its origin in a 
somewhat earlier age ; and the supposition is not unlikely 
that the passages, as we have ihem, may contain traces of 
the original writings of Raniai Pandit, going back to at 
least I'3th century A.D./'' varied and modified, it may be, 
by later scribal and other interferences. It would be interest- 
ing to examine the>e ancient specimens critically but such 
examination is beset with diHieulties not only on account of 
the frankly unintelligible vocabulary and crabbetl syntax, 
considerable corruption of the text rightly commented 

upon bv manv a critic, but also because 

Passage or. BSrnmiiMi. n . * i '• i • , 

of the exclusive and esoteric doctrines 
they embody, which seem to create a language of their 
own whose meaning is all but lost to us. Here is a 
Ix)rtion of the celebrate<l passage on ^[?isitf^- 

CF-M ^m c^H ^if>i I ii55 Mc^ ^^^n^U i c^ ^tf^i^- 
^^ ^t^ «;? ^t^ ^r^ I ^•'i Mfs ^f (7.^"^^ «j^ ^^'^T^ I 

C1^^ J-JJ ^r^ ■Si\H^ ^\i^ Tf^ti I '^^ ^",^5-5 (Tf^^lJl jTt^nfs I 
Tl'v^ C®r5i1 'srisffsi irrt^ ^rs ®T^f5 M,^^ ^,^^ S^fiJ ^^U 

nt^ «iQr?ft »l9T^nt«i ^t^wi c^fsi c^i^m iciT^^^f^ 

' Preface to ATrf Htuttr/anya, U. P. Shostri in Calcutta Rtiieu; 
pp. 392-93. 

• H. P. Shastri, op. cit.. p. 394. 


C^t^ TRi C^^t^ ^tf^ I ^^tt^ Tm CH^ Ttf>T I C^ ^^if^ 
^ ^Tt ^^ ^srtfF^ ^T'l ^tf^ C^? C^^? 'J^f^ftf^^ 1 (TT^'P 

m*s^ o®t^ 'srt^rfii j^jt^ ( 9 T^r^ ) 5rf% ^f^ ett^iisj 
^vs\ ft^^f^^ f^^ srf^ 5rm I c^T^ Tt^ c^t^ ^itf'i I ^^^ 

C5tC^ ^^ TfC^ ^ ^tf^ I 

and so forth through all the months of the year in the 

same strain. 

On first reading this fantastic piece of apparently 
unrhythmical writing would hardly seem to be prose at 
all : and it has been doubted if it is prose or verse or none, 
or a curious admixture of the two. But a careful study 
will make it clear that is not verse in any sense but 
probably prose, although it may be prose of a kind unfami- 
liar to us, and that it has a distinct 

Close relation of rhythm of its own. When carefullv 
prose and verse in old '^ 

Bengali literature examined, this and other passages, if 

the text is correct, will reveal that here 

for the first time there is a perception, however faint, of 

the existence of distinct styles of prose and verse, although 

the instruments of the two harmonies may not have been 

very clearly differentiated.' In order to understand the 

' All these speculations are based on the assumption that what the 
passages embody is really prose. They have been always taken aa 
such, bat my own suspicion is that they are really verse-lines, perhaps 
imperfectly recorded fragments, not properly examined or shifted with 
care when the text wa« edited and printed from the original Msi. 
Unfortunately I had no access to the original niannscript, in the posses- 
sion of the editor, upon which the text is chiefly based, and had to 
depend entirely upon the Sfihitya Pari?at edition which is anything but 
what scientific scholarship would desire. There is no attempt to render 



nature of this passage, we must bear in mind that the 
connexion between okl Ben<;ali verse and old Bentjali 
prose was extraordinarily close. There was a time, indeed, 
when writers of this litei*ature hardly ever recoj^nised the 
separate existence of prose as a vehicle of expression, classi- 
fyin^j; it, in theory, as a species of poetry itself and calling 
it ^'SB^^ or prose-metre and, in jtractice, making their 
prose, with alliteiation, balanced accent, and other devices, 
look as much like their own verse as possible. It is a 
well-known fact that much of this prose, like the passage 
just quoted, interspersed in the midst of verse, was con- 
sciously adapted not only to read like verses but to be sung 
or chanted after tlu' manner of Kut/iakas or rhapsodists. 
It is curious to note in this connexion that in many of 
these prose pieces we tind the hhauHa or signature of their 
respective authors in the same way as we tind them in 
their poetical compositions. 

Anyone, studying the passage already (juoted and those 
that follow even with moderate attention, will have no 
ditheulty in agreeing to what has been said as to the close 
relation between earlv i)rose and verse. Not only the 
condensed mode and ordonnance of verse is followed here, 
but the symmetry of the lines, turns of phrases peculiar 

the passages intelligible in spite of the addition of a very imperfect 
glossarj. The text is suspiciously corrupt and the editor himself 
acknowledges that he had no time to collate the three manuscripts with 
the published text but that he had got it done by his pundits. There 
is nowhere any indication of variations of readings given by the differ- 
ent manuscripts utilistd, nor any iittempt oven to determine the correct 
reading. This is a most strange fact and renders the edition entirely 
valueless to a scientihc student. The Sunyu Purati as it stands now 
is an extremely difficult book to edit with all its indispensable critical 
sppnratus and the SAhitya Pari^at mast be praised for it* boldness in 
undertaking to reprint it : but one would wish that the scholuraliip 
displayed in hiingiiig out this edition had been cf|ual to the boldness 
of this difficult undertaking. 


to verse, the refrain-like repetition of sentences, the very 

frequent intrusion of half-staves or full 

exemplified also by ^rgrse-lines (like Jft^t^ Pfi^'^f:^^ f<i^ 
the passage under dis- ^ 

cussion. W\^ ^'.'^ or <^^ Cf^t^ *lf^^ ^^ 

^^^^ ) capable of accurate scan- 
sion, occasional occurrence of end-rhymes, and lastly, 
the muffled under-bum of verse-rhvthm throusrhout — all 
indicate that the passa2;e, in its close approach to the 
rhythm and tune of poeti-y, was meant, if it is prose at all, 
to be chanted with the verses to which it was only an 
appendage. Here is another passage, more intelligible 
and more varied, in which the characterist-.cs already indi- 
cated are more prominent : 

c^ m^'^ c^ f^sfSTJTs^r ^f% 7\i^ ^^^ f^^t^ I ^^t^ w:^ 

^t^ >!5(:^^ ^^JT ^5^ ^5^ '?f^ ^^fs^C^lv^ C^Tf^tMs «^^^^>i^ I 

^c^^ 'Ills® r^^ ^*c^5( ^f^ i^t:^^ c^fM ^c^^ ^^i^M?? i 
^^ "^'^^^ I ftit^'f^^ I ^t?iiii^ ^^'ii^?! ^^^l\^^ I =?^^ 

^t^ ^^71 ( f ^'ii ) c^K>iif^^ Bf^H f^^ ^t$ (?) I ^^^ rit^^ 

It will be noticed that in this passage there are lines at 
the beginning and at the end, which form distinct couplets 
having regular end-rhymes. The opposite tendency of 
having rhythmic prose lines in the midst of verse will be 


exeniplitit'd in the lines on 'sifj^^tT to be found at p. 61 of 
the Sahitva Parisat etlition. The followini^ a^aiii is a 
curious illustration of mixed prosaic-poetic style : 

c^F 5ft% ^]r^ (7f^ *i;9(5T ^n:f ^;ft 5i1^^^ ^^ ^f5^ 
l%fs?i siff^i^i ^r^'sri ^^ w\C5 ^t^ r.*i;-5i i ^ ?iti^« *i;«f^ 51 T^ 

c^t^ n!^<T -^li^ ^^1^ ^r? e;^:^-?! ^n;^ ^i^if% fi 1^^ ^f^ 
^^?:^ c^^t«i n,^^ ^itt ^»l ^t^ C'W'^ ^c^ fr^ 'm i =1^ 

^srt^ ^^^ ^r^f ^i] (7? 5^ ^r« I ^5i,^ ^spT c^'s^ i^t^ 
fw^. c^ ^fffi^i ft 5jj^ ^^fi ^tfsi5!i f^5f:-g<T ^>-;t^ "^^"t:*! I 

These passaujes, it must be admitted, are not tine 
literary specimens by themselves but, to a student of 

literary history, their formal import- 

What these passages ance is vcrv fjreat. Thc'v illustiate, 
illuRtrate. . ^ . ' 

if not anythini;^ else, at least the fact 
that prose has not yet fully emerged itself and come into 
prominence, at that particular 5tao:e, as a distinct mode of 
writint; althoupjh . there is at the same time a faint indica- 
tion of such understandinsjj in the literary mind. This is 
not what we understand by prose-poetry or jwetica' prose 

but the instruments of the two 

Differentiation of liarmonies are so nearly identical that 
the styles of prose 
and verse. the products slide and j^iade off into 

one another very ea-sily and undistin- 

guishably. This may be called the beginning of prose — 

a curious literary phenomenon of which not many instances 


may be found in the early prose of other lanj^uages and 
which leaves little doubt as to the value and relative anti- 
quity of the specimens of question. 

of pcSrv''"'''"*'' ""' ^^'e '^^ ''^'"^ t'^e very early sta-es 

ill the i)roce.sses by which prose 
is slowly evolvinu^ it:self out of poetry and asserting its 
right to recognition as a medium of expression altogether 
distinct from verse. It is a matter of regret, however, 
that we cannot trace otiier stages in this process as we do 
not possess any documents of prose-writing of this or sub- 
sequent periods until we came to the Ihth century. 

One of the curious effects of their intermixture of prosaic 
and poetic styles is the idea, however imperfect, or rhyth- 
mical arrangement in these i)rose passages. Of course, 

verse and prose rhythms have entirely 
Rhythmic effect. different values and the harmony of 

the one is not always desirable in the 
other: yet, if it is not rasii to dogmatise in the absence of 
any but slight and scrappy knowledge of the phonetics of 
early Bengali, we cannot mistake the fine effect of sym- 
phonic arrangement (partly due to the presence of versicles) 
which the lines, periiaps unconsciously, attain. Of actual 
syntax there may not be much : nor is there any attempt 
at balance of phrase or periodic sentence-framing, 
although there is certainly a knowledge of the value of 
short and long sentences : but the very fact that the 
passages were meant as appendages to verse and com- 
posed with the not unlikely object of being sung gives 
them a peculiar rhythmic effect, rudimentary yet not 
childish, which it is impossible to ignore. 

The apocryphal |)rose piece, Chaiiya Rupa Prapli passing 

under the great name of Chan(;idas 

Chnitya Rupa Prapti, ", • i- ' • 

attributed to Chaniji- does not, trom our point ot View, 
^^^ require any special examination. The 

following passage : — 


will sutlieiently iiulieate the same admixture of prose ami 
vei'se-forms — and iiideel \V(i have a rt'ferenee in the 
Padakafpatani to ^^'S'l^ ^gs^t of Chaiidldas but the sen- 
tences are shorter and the vocables more modern. The 
manuscript is dated 1674 and it is probable that the 
lanj2;uage does not go much earlier than that date. The 
frigid drip of doctrinaire talk — for it professes to explain 
tuntrik theories in riddle-like language and brief aphor- 
istic sentences, almost always dropping the verb and seldom 
running beyond three or four words at a time — does not 
seem to allow much scope for the ]>rose either to run 
fluently or to evince any remarkable literary aptitudes. 

This bare dry fatiguing aphoristic manner is illustrated 

by a body of so-called philosophic writings relating to the 

Sahajiya cult, which belong in all 

/,- .^^'^fVo'"! "^'"'"K" probability to the 1 7th and the 18th 
( IVtli and 18th century ). ' * 

centuries. The first work that calls 
for menlii M in this group is the curious manuscript calle<l 
D^hakadncfni, attributed to Xarottama Thiikur, thr text of 
which was published in the Sahit^n Pariitttt Patrika (1304, 
no. 1, pp. 39-16). The date of the oldest manuscript 
is lt;U;i Saka (1(181 A.D.) and this ilate as well as the 
similarity of style and manner woulil jdace the work in 
the age in which the last mentioned Chan Idas apocrypha 
was written. The text of this manuscript, however, seems 
to be almost identical (making due allowance to trilling 
scribal and otiier variations) with that of Al/»a-;if/fianu, 
ascribed to Krsna.las, (Sahitya Pari.sat manuscript 


no. 1474-).' The vexed question of authorship or the 
sources cf the works in question, their origin in an earlier 
SvarTtpa-kalpatarn , does net concern us here in the least ; 
nor have we anything to do witli their literary associations 
with t'e doctrine?, real or imaginary, ol' the Sahajiya cult 
and its mystical su'olimalioi) ; what concerns us most is 
that Narottama, if Narotiama he was, or Krsnadas, if 
Krsnadas there was, wrote in a severely scholastic manner, 
bare, dry and aphoristic abounding in technicalities, which 
may be suited for doctrinal exposition but which hardly 
shows ai^ attempt, conscious or unconscious, at ]>roducing 
either style or rhythm. Here is a characteristic specimen 
from the beginning cf Dehak idcka, with the corresponding 
additions arjd variations in brackets from the text of Af ma- 
jig FiasU : ^ 

^fsi c^ t [ '5{\T^ c^ 1 ] ^trs? #t^ [ fsf^ ] I ^f^ c^i^ #t^ 
[ c^t^fsf^ ] I ^.iSf ^^ 1^^ II ^itc^^T [ '>i\'^ ] c^t^n [ ^'^i ] 
^:« I ^« ^f:^ [ T^w."^ ] ^^51 1 ^« [ ^^ ] ^^ [ ^^r^ ] 
^3 [ ^^^ ] I ^^ ^1 f^ f^ [ f^ f% ^#^^ ] I ^i^ [ *i'^f ] 

'SltHl I ^TK:*t!? [ ^^-1^^ pfe ] I ^ f^*^ ^5|1 [ ®t^ ] ^£1^ 

T^^ C?l^ [ ^^ ] CTi!:^ [ C^tM \^^ ] ^t^ ^ I ^^iHt (7F 
[ ^^|^i¥i ^tJ^ ^^ ] I f^iRfr ^^.'^ (TsSrS ^'^ "srt^H 

{"^[^ c^^ M^ ^"^ ^t^tn ^^ ^"^ ] II (ii^ff%5 c^ c^ 
[ ^^r\^1^ t%(?i) ^V^^) f^ ] i ^ ^ '^t^ [ ^'^ ^^ t% ] i 

' See Sahitya Parisat Patrikd, 130G, no. 1, p. 49 and no. 4, p. 327; 
ibid 1305, p 197 ; ibid, 1304, no. 4, p. 302. 

- The text of Atmajignaaa here follows that of the Sahitya Pari.?at 
manuscript (no. 1474). Other manuscripts noticed in the Patrika 
(I'eferred to in footnote 1) give slightly different readings. 


In the same strain is the following- from the Ao//k<l 
supposed to be written by Rupa GosvamT, which is noticed 
in the Brunl/tud, 1:289 B.S. (p. 309) :• 

•f^9«l ^f^9«l ^^9«1 ^^S«l "^•*i««l ^^ '^'fS-Qei I ^il^ *I'^Q«1 

There are several other works, Asraya-Ninuijfa,- Afma- 

NirTipana,^ Svarupa-barnaua,'* Rcif/a- 
Other norks. . , * _ . i i i " i .■ 

mnj/i-kana,'' much later prociiictiong 

but all attributed, after the ancient manner of lumping all 

' The text as given here, apparently modernised in spcUin;^, 
follows that giron in Baudhuh and quoted also by Dinesh 
Cnanilra StMi in liis Biiiga BhuMa Q Siihiti/ti, 2ml Ed., p. G28. 
The text as quoted above occars also in a mnnusoript called 
^tf-51f511 by Narottrtina 058, as follows: ^sj '^^'>\^ fPSl (^4^ I 

^Wf^ QTfj^^ni I »t^ -sw «fi*t ^J! ^ ^4 ^Tx l*l^«i ii^; ?tr<(^f5t: 

W.^ «T4s«1 « 1 etc. 

See PiUrika, 13(K), no. 3, p. 251 : also p. 67. 

* There are two ninniiscripts of this work in the Sahitya Pari^at 
(nos. 331 and 147n. The following quotation is taken from earlier 
manuscript no. 1471 (dated 1247 B.S.). See also notice of this work ip 
Putrilia, 13Q4, no. 4, p. 303, in which mention is also mnde of another 
manuscript dated loO.S R S. Sec also Putrika 1308, p. r.3, where this 
work is attributed to Xarnttama. 

' SAhitya Pari.'jnt mnnnscript no. 332 (dated 1247 B.8.). See also 
Patrikn, 1304, no. 4, p. 802 (where thp date of the manuscript notice^ 
is 1218 B.S.) and ihiil, 1306, no. 1, p. 49. 

♦ Potrika, 1305. no 1, p. 80 j ibid, 1304. pp. 343-4 (manns- 
cript d.itcd 1081 BS.); »t<'V 1306. no. 1, p. 70 rmannscripts dated 

116^ and 1246 B.S.>. 

» Pntrika, 1304, no. 4, pp. 333-34; thid, 1300, p. 66. Sec PnirUa 
1808, pp. 40-41 where pnnfiages are quoted from other pjcoae work9 
ri':., Sarflni/itcl and Sfidhnnniraya. 



anouyma upon a s\nQ;]c apocryphal figure of traditional 
repute, to Krsnadas, wliieh exhibit the same characteristic 
disjointed style, peculiar to this kind of I7th and 18th 
century writings. It is needless to multiply quotations 
but one or two short specimens would not be quite 
out of place. 

Specimens. ^ 

C^^1 I ^^^T^ ^t^ C^ I '^^^ "^^ ^t^^ I It^T ^\W\^ 

^^ctR ^^f% II =it^c^T ^^ w:^^ I ^^ 1% 5R«t'^^ I i^?r ^ti^^ 
it^ fl<riR^ ^^'s 5^t5f^ ^^^ II '^^ f% f^t^rr^ I »ft^ Ftf^ 

c2t^rf^ I ^f'Wt^ *) C^ft^^ ^ l*^^ '3 ^f ¥l 8 I ^f^t^^^ 

?it^^ ^m^ II 'st^ ^1 ^^t^ I ^^ 5itt»t^ 1 ^^w ^T^ 

c^rf%R II 5itt«tr?^ ^^ il5ff% ?rr?t^i 1 ^t^ *i^r^ii I c^t^ 
'^^f^^rt I ^^^ ^^#1iil I c^t^ ^"^^ I ^C7it#^ I c^^ ^7! 

f¥^ I c^t^ ^^ I ^^^ ^'i^ I c^^ ^^^ I ^t^rr^^ i 
( 'Sft?}^ fj^<^ ^ ^^ f^'f^ ) 

5?t^^ ^^'^ f%f^ II ^i'^i^ ^ ^Ic^ c^i^^ ^fe^ I ^^t^ 

^^sj ^^^ ^^'if^ I ^t^ ^^ f^"^ f^f^«1 ^t^TjC^ I ^^tW^ 
(Tf^ ^^ C^ I C5^^ f^fVs ^f^Tf^ II f^^^ ^^51 ^51^^ f%^ 
Ctf^TI f%^ f^f5 I ^C^ C^s^ ^^2J ^:^ f^f%^ f^T^Tt^Pf II 


^firrs '51^ '^ZKU^ II ft7{ oiu\ ft ^^fs I ^tcJi^ f^f^ ^w^ I 
■^rtnl 3^5^r^^ II ( '5rt^P<)'i«i ) 

It would be hardly necessary to pass in review or cite 

passajsjes from other Sahaji^fi works like Tri/jv.natmikdy^ 

Brajapatala Karihl,- Kru/aifinfiuin- 
Charactcnstics of . " J v 

tho stylo of these (ulvanirVpona,^ J/^nasajjafrJ,'^ all 
' '"^^' of which belonw to the same ase of 

prose-writing and exhibit similiar characteristics; nor is 
much advance noticeable in Radhaballabh Das's Sahoja- 
falva, or h'asaUiakti-chnndrik'i (also called Ayrni/anirnai/a) 
of Chaitnya Diis quoted by Dinesh Chandra Sen in his 
Bahgii Siihifi/a Pnricliny,^ It is possible that this may 
have been the peculiar esoteric sectarian manner of the 
Sahajiyas but all these writings may also indicate a stage 
in Bengali prose composition (very unlike that indicated 
by the Sunj/a Puraii pieces) in which an aphoristic form 
of theological exposition was widel}' prevalent, partly due 
to the exotic intluence of Sanscrit Sutra literature or Sutra 
form of writing and partly perhaps an indigenous growth 
formed upon the manner of exposition followed in native 
tols. One cannot but be struck by the evenness of method 
and manner — the sameness of production — of these 
Sahajiya works : the one work may as well have been 
written by the author of the other — there being hardly any 

' Patnka, 1304, p. 415. 

* Sahitya Parijiat, MS. no. 355. 
^ Sahitya Parigat, MS. no. 33S, 

♦ Sahitya Pari.?at, MS. no. 1)37. 

' Vol. II, pp. 1655-58 and pp. 1660-61. Sakaji-tatva is also noticed 
in Fatrika, 1306, pp. 76.77. Raaabhakti-chandrika (also called Bhajana^ 
nirnaya) in Patrika, 1306, p. 66. 


distinguishing mark of style or even personal idiosyncrasy 
of the writer. When these passages are compared with 
those taken from the SU/i^a Pirran, the great differences of 
the two manners will emerge at once. Except the passage 
on Baramiisi already quoted, which sounds like a piece of 
mystic incantation, there is an attempt, however rude and 
(mintelligible to us, on the part of the l^nnT/a Fwari writer 
tV) say 'whatever he has got to say in a connected manner : 
while in the passages under discussion the short disjointed 
statements, often in the form of questions and 
answers, with their rigid and stri])ped precision of 
language make the jirose halting, elumsil}' hingetl, and 
totally unsatisfactory from purely rhythmical-stylistic point 
of view. But then the object in the latter case was 
doctrinal exposition and not artistic or even plainly 
narrative presentment : there is no attempt at fine 
writincT, no rhetorical tinge anywhere, nor anv intrusion 
of sustained narrative or descriptive matter hapi>i]y striking 
into style. This prose, with its conciseness or pointedness 
overdone, presents a striking contrast to the rudimentary 
yet elaborately rh\thmed prose of fSui///(i Pitran. No 
sane criticism will be enthusiastic over either the capacities 
or the performance of this plain passionless aphoristic 
prose, not pedantic but severely scholastic, devoid of all 
ornamentation or suggestiveness, and, in spite of its close- 
ness to verse, hardly attaining any proper prose-rhythm 
at all. 

Some improvement, however, in the direction of 

periodic and sustained prose will be found in some late 

works belonging probably to the 

Other proso wri- \'^i\\ ceuturv and certainlv not 
tinge (18th century). . /•.mi ' i 

going beyond it. Ihe language liere 

16 simple enough in syntax and vocabulary : there is uo 


arjjuinentative or expositon purpose in view, no preva- 
lence of stoc'k-subjeel or slock- 

Iiuprovuincui in the technicalities. Of these works, 
direction of fK>noaic 
aud Bustaiueil nrosi- Brinlubauti-lllri is rtallv a remarkable 

^ ■ Brndahana.rila. conipositiou from our point of view. 

It describes with all the enthusiasm 

of the faithful devotee the sacred g-roves and tem[)les of 

Brndabaii. ^^ e bej^in with the general topographv of 

the holy place.' 

^t^c^f^***^?! ^^ ^T^t^ ^?i ^l?:^rrf*i5Tt'^^ sif^^ ^5t^t'< 

Specimens. ^ 

^*f^ ^Tn^ ^«c^ ^tf^T^^ ^^ f^srn:^ "l^'T^t^ ^t^?r ^:^ 

*ifii5 ^tcsi ^f^itM ^tt?(tfe^^ "st^l^r ^f*6W n^t^^ ^trt^ 

c'ttt^j't'i si'^sic^t?-?^ 'ftfj^c'srt^itq ^^ii^flT ^^5i?:^5tf^ f5?j/:^tr<j 
^^Ji^rtl^ m'lc^tf?^ ^tii:^^?^ ^8ic^5lf?[ c^^r?jf^ ?rt«ft^5« 
^tft^K^f^fl iit«n^t«(^ ?it»rw? ^t«rr?5^ ^Ttwt^ ?Jt«ff?i5R ^^^- 
f^fjj'm f^c^ft^f'pr^-^fV 5^<^R^f?j grtsrlgrt?} -srt^r^^ ^f^^ 
gjcm'nspw^ ^•v>if^^»^ (TF^'frrt^ cr^f^^^^i ^f^isfwt^iT c^rt^^i- 

' The text hero follows Silhitya Pari^at MS. no. 028. MS. is 
incomplete and undated but it docs not seem to Ijc verj* old and its dalo 
is probably latter part of tlie 18th century. Dinesh Chandra Sen in hi.'* 
Bitfiga Bhafa Sahituf (2nd Ed., p. 630) speaks of a MS. of this «rork 
which it, in ht« vagac langaago, aboat 150 jearfi old. 


c^^t^$ if^jj^:^ ^t'nt^^ fV^^fe fs^^t^ Q ^^^ ^s^tf^- 
^^ ^ii^'v "srt^ ^ ^rc^^ ^ '^tr^ ^ ^srt^I^ f^^t^f^^f^ f^^ ^ s^tw 

^f5{.£p1 f^^ (TfST ^st^l ^f^ cj^Sl ^^1 fip^fF^5f^ f%^-<5^ei 

c^t^ ^'^ 1^^^ ^"si:^ ^^tfs:^ ^f»65i«rti^ "51^^^ ^'sC-r^ 

^?r Sf^^ ^H ^^ ^^•^ ^ c^'sz^"?! ^-K^ w:^'^ %«^ ^<^ 
^^^?i^t^r?p (?ffci5i f^iRi ^t?i 5i"w^ "fTm ^T5rt^ ^ ^?i1 c^c^ 

.stt^ ^tcf^ iWc^ ^^ c^^ 'srn:^ ^tf T^ ^^z^ ^^^ 't?? ic«jt 
5i?i tt^ ^^ff (?i5? m;^ f?:^[ '^^^t^ (?]^z^ ^5j ^t^i ^^^ 
^'^■^l ^f^tfe^^ 'srt^ "^^ ^^ ^^ '^rtri^ 5[^t^ 3[^T^ti5? 

•-^f^ "^^Ft^ ^t^t?f^ 9 c^^rtr^ Jf^^^ sf^^t^ ^f?r?tff^^ 


C^^rt^ ^^ ^St^'ttf JTt^ ^^"W^ ^«C<T ^^C3}Jt^ f ^^ ^^ 

c«J^ C3Ft^ ^^^^ Tt5^?T "^"ft^ ?f^ 5tf^ C?Ft^ ?lt«ft^9 "itr|<J 

'ic^ 'srt^ 9 ^ ^c 9 ^^u^ fji^ !%■? sn:f(T ^3'?^^?^ yft??Fl Jt^^^i 
■Bft^J^ 1C«fT 5IC«a ^f% 'T^si '^rfl^ ^^T^ '5f5i5it'5R5? T^ttl e'^C^i>Cfe)>i 

C^Pt^ CJTt^^ *t^5 V^tf f^ ^«^ ^f^1 ^T ^t«<t^9 Sltl^ 9 

^^ :^ i^j\^ r/rnt^ n^^r©^ ^f?^^f -^^rtr^ f ^<t 5^«i f^ 

^H^ Tf^l "srt?:^^ ^^ "srglf^ s^l^s ^^fk^i ^'sc^^ ^^ stf^f^M 
^>r5 <£i^'s "5if^cs<? ^fM ^t^ 'si??!?^ ^f*6^fwi:5f 3[?:^[?i] ^t^ ^^t^^ 

^ (Tl^^' v£l?«^ ^5 (TIC'TJT (7ITtf5 5|ffT«(tC51 '^pf ?rf?I^^ 5(r^<I 

3^^9?J ff^ SI^fi^Q C^t*ft^ ^t^iT sj^^ f^^ C^W^%^ 'N^ 

It is ini|X)ssible not to be struok with the leahtive ex- 
cellence of these {mssajjes. In the first place, we notice, 

here a really remarkable attemitt at 

Application of pro«e substained nrosc-writini;, a «rreat 
to new subjects. , r i- <• i 

advance ni the facility of handnnir 

and a |K)sitive tendency to vivacity. In the next place, 

^ . . th»> widening and varvincj of the 

Descriptire prnso ^ • ^ 

ranije and methods of prose by its 
application to new subject.? is a fact of great significance; 


and it is this application of ])rose to pnre narration, descrip- 
tion, or conveyance of information in a straiglitforward 
intcllitjible way — childish things of prose, no doubt, but its 
best exercising ground in infancy — that gives it an ease and 
fluency attained here for the first time in its history. The 
description, though a little monotonous, are yet not dry : 
but the very pictorial-poetical nature of the subject-matter 
often enables the writer to strike into something like style 
in its proper sense. Here is another passage : — 

^t^^ ^^ 'i^^^i m^U^ ^t^r? ^'^~^z^ ^^x^ f ^Rg?«? 
5^«i f5^ cw ^'^^ '^^'^ ^^^^ ^^s ^fki*^ ^'^- CfFI^ -Ml ^^ 

^i^i{ CT f^^^ ^f%^ ^tt^^ ^^^ ^5ii^ ^^^tf^:^ (i^^'v *ri^ 

^V^U »ff^^ "^i^i^ ^ ^t^t^ ^f^^ s^^j? ^t^^ 'I?:^ ^^^§ 
M^r^^l ^t^ c^^ittfffe^^ "«t^1^ »rfe^ 'F^t^ ^rt^ 
^^5T I ''j^ 5i'i^t^ "sn:^^ si^ts'^ ^5rfif?{ ^$ W7\ 

n^^ ^Q^ti% 3T^^ ^srtc^ >i^m^ f^2rr's^tc^ ^51^^ 
^^f% ^55^; "f^is *ffa c^t^ ^1 ^^^ ^ ^^ ^tf% s^ 

^^ (ji^U "n^ c^9f *t c^rtfM9|#T c^^T^ ?f^^ *^5i fsr^ 


^9iT 1%»< ^itU^ ^t^fcl ^^ ^^tf^^l "Slf^ C^lt1H5 '^■\^ 

^^^■\^i^ ^fi^-'H ^ifrU <\i^ fs^^^^S^^ 5^^^ y\^^ f\^^ ^t^<I «^t5jf^ 
^(^^t%^9^^?f5^ -51 R:^ 1^-57 ^5,5*1 5?3R fsT^ fjT^?^ %^ 

^^©t^T^ ^^T f^55 ^t^:M f ^ ^"5 ■5r?:^<F -sifirs ^r:^^ ^5tft^ 
^^T^ ^^^t l^m^^ c^ c^^t^5( ^?^ ^r^ ^C^^ JT^si 

There are of course ^^till mauy drawbacks auil dis- 
atlvantages of vocabulary and syntax : we liave occa- 
sional intrusion of Jeliiiite and not merely accidental 
alliteration, inherited from the ti-aditions of verse-forms 
and some of the lines are no doubt cajtable of exact 

stave-division : but one does not 
Charac'teriatica of ,, ^ i- i i i 

this prose. really want tan it less precocity at the 

outset ; and after all is said, it must 
be admitted that Uew there is no ionirer anv fallin<r 
back upon the tricks of verse aixl other unconi^enial 
things and that the rhythm attainetl is not really |)oetie 
rhythm Init it is something approachini,', in however 
gropiui^ fashion, to the creation of definite prose-rhythm 
with its l)alance of phrase, its variation of lonif and 
short sentences, and its natural adjustment of clauses 
with due regard to general harmonic effect. 


There are specimens of another work, supposed to 

date from the Ibth century, called Brnt/uOa/ia Parik- 

'ama of which passau:es are (pioted by Dineschandra 

Sen ill Biiiiga Srihili/a Parichaya 
Brmlabana Pari- , , ^,,~^\ e titoci j a i 

)irama. \yo\. 11, p. l()M) trom a MSS. dated 

B.S. 1:118. This composition, like 
the Brndabana-llla, also purports to be a description of 
the holy place — a fact which seems to indicate that 
works of this nature were more numerous than usually 
supposed. The same characteristic descriptive style is 
also illustrated here and it is needless to quote here a 
lon^i^er passa^^e than the following : 

^t^ ^5rf?n:^t?:«i ^t^^ ferrft^^ (Til '^t^ ^^^^ 

Specimens of its 

tt^^t^ f5^ ^tc5 ^t^^ ^6^ >ft^ ^^ c^^t^ f^^ ^srfr^ 

From the dry pseudo-metaphysical exposition of the 
Sahajiya works to this 18tli century descriptive prose 
is indeed a long step : but this extraordinary develop- 
ment, apparently puzzling, will be intelligible when we 
take into account the fact that early Bengali poetical 
literature by this time had attained a very high degree 
of relative perfection and was by this process pre])ar- 
ing the way for the creation of a literary language in 
general. The resources of the and its literary 


cajjacities Wfre now l)roiii;lit within easy icac-li of any 

„ , , , prose-writer — altlioni^li such writers 

Dovi'ItipiinMit (jf the 

litornry luiijjuage in were not |)lentiful — who would liave 

had chosen to utihso them. The 
wonderfully rapid and accomplished literary develop- 
ment of prose in the lUth eentury eau<^ht up, summed, 
and uttered in more perfect form this literary heritay;e 
of past asjes })ut even in a jieiiud of scanty prose- 
production such as the ISth century, in which vtrse-treat- 
ment of every subject was still predominant, we cannot 
mistake the inlluenct' of the enormous literary perfec- 
tion of the Ian;i^ua<;e in j^eneral on whatever little 
prose it produced. 

It may he necessary in this connexion to indicate 

the intluence of Sanscrit leainini;- on early Ben<;ali prose- 

writinij. It is j)retty certain that 
IiiHuence of Sans- ., pi 

prit. I he specimens or such prose as we 

jMjssess, whether of the metaphysical 
or the descriptive sort, represent periods when Sanscrit 
culture of some kind, was already open to and in some 
degree ha^l been enjoyed l)y the writers. Not only 
occasional Sanscrit forms and technicalities are perceived 
and some Sanscrit works on Law and Lop;ie were directly 
translated, but the t^eneral tendency, inspite of occa- 
sional easy note of works like liriiilrtfjaiiii-/l/rt, was 
towanls sanscritised, if not ornate, diction, althou<rh 
no effective Sanscrit influence, with its predilection for 
long-drawn-out compound words, complex sentence-fram- 
in<j, and other things, may be definitely tracetl anywhere. 
This prose-manner, however, cannot be called sanscritic 
in the sense in which it is uswl to designate the 
petlantic affectation of some of the Fort William College 
pundits or the Sanscrit College style of the fifties ; and 
it is remarkable that with hardlv anv model before 


them, these writors never chose to- imitate the later 
sesquipetlahan Sanscrit jnose style of KUfJainharl or 
llarf*<tchnril(i. Much has been written, however, on the 
Sanscrit inHuencc which is sui)posed to have come through 
the Kdl/ia/t'o-s or professional story-tellers, whose manner 
and method of* exposition is said to have considerably 
moulded the narrative or descriptive literature of the 
type in question : but it must be admitted that though 
sometimes their "set passages" evince a highly artistic 
or poetic style, their bombastically ornate diction and 
artificial arrangement, their predilection for sanscritie 
forms and long-balanced sentences, their highly cadenced 
rhetorical eloquence label their prose-passages at once 
as essentially one of the ornate kind showing little 
colour of resemblance to the type of prose we are 

In the absence of any material to go upon, it is 
impossible to indicate how far the experiment in descrip- 
tive prose of the litemay kind, such as we tind in the 
Brnaban-llla or BrnduLoi-jjarikronia, was followed u))on 
in any other prose-writing of the period but the existence 
and popularity of such contemj)orary descriptive poems as 
Kasl-parikrania of Jayanara^ai; would seem to indicate, 

inspite of occasional and timid tres- 

Miscellaneous prose pag^, the still exclusive monopoly of 
writings. . . . ' 

verse in the domain of such litera- 
ture. The excursion of prose, however, beyond the narrow 
limits of metaphysical matter was an attemjit the lesson 
of which was perhaps not wholly lost. From the 
few jirose pieces of that century which have come 
down to us, we tind application of prose in 
treatises on law, logic, and medicine, subjects hitherto 
attempted, as all subjects were, in verse. Although only 
a few such works have yet been diseovereil, it is (piite 



plausil)le that sueli attempts wore not sponulic it isohiteil 

Itiit were more mimeroiits ami deli- 

Not sporadic or iso- },erate than the scanty remains would 
lated nt tempts. ... . . ' 

jnstity MS to infer. Ono hmitation 

still remains, namely, that of translation (for most of these 
works are translations or adaptations from Sanscrit urifji- 
nals) : but translation m the school-time ut Heiii^ali 
prose is not a drawback or ilisadvantaijc but a distinct 
means of attaining;- diversity, adeijuacy and accomi)lish- 
ment. Here is a very simple passa<i:e from a manuseri|)t 

(about :2()0 years old) on meilicine 
A treatise on f.r^l\^,^\ <pf^<ff#f -i^^ {Kdhlrajl PaldU) 

which ijivt's a recipe for dyspepsia : ' 

^ "Sf^^ 5tf5^5 I ^-^ •»[« I «^lf<J ^lf^1 ^C^IC^ 

cst^rr^ I «firi iippl 53^^^ (•?) r^ik^ c^^*nq sm^^ srR^t- 
■'f? «Tt%*f^5 ^"955=?^ n^^i^T^ ^t^^^i 5f^ft ^^ I 

(?rt5^ q:55P ^£511^5 cs^ns ^t^fs^i ^^^ 3ift5 s^K-sm ^^? 

The followinij passa;i^e is from :i work on the "Philo- 
sophy of Grammar" callrd Hh~i>*~i-})(iriclichlie(hi (^JJl 
^ifilCfc^H) (Ms. date<l M.S. MM) ajipan-ntly a Imnslation of 
nnd on the philosophy the Sanscrit original of the same 
of prrammar. name. The beijinninf; runs thus: 

' The text piven here, n little modernised perhnps in np«^nini^, 
follows the qnotntion in S, /'. Palnkn, \WMi, no. 1, p. .')!. 


>i^ ^^Ft^ I :5^i •~9«i ^^ ^Tf?J f^f^ ^^t^ ^^^ I ^-nrt^ 


^|5[ <^^:^1 1 ^ ^^ ^t^i sTc^ ^t^<=i c^ ^^ c^ ^sr^ ^t^^R 
^^Rf^^ -^ ^I'fr^ '<rtr^ i ^^^i ^^«i ^t«<T ^t»ra 'ic^ ^nf??^ 

From a work on law and ritual called B>/(ibasiliu- 
iatva ^ 

' This passage is taken from a notice of the niannscript in question 
in <S. P. Pflfrifca, 1304, p. 325 : the text is obviouslj- punctuated and 
modernised in spelling. More specimens of this prose would have been 
welcome, but unfortunately only these two passages are given. I have 
not been able to get access to the manuscript itself. 

''■ This curious manuscript is noticed in S. P. P<if»iAo, 1 308, p. 
43 from which the above quotation is taken. It is written in Sanscrit 
but part of it is in Bengali prose. The date of the manuscript is 
1235 B.S. 


The stiffness: of the subjoet and style ol" the ()ri<^inal 
is, no doubt, partial I \ responsible for the want of ease or 
llneney in the translation : but the very tact that the 
translator had to keep himself close to his orit^inal <^ave 
him a more correct syntax and a i)reeision anil condensa- 
tion of lan<ifuai^e, eminently suited lor such exposition but 
differinj^ ijjreatly from the sententious manner of the 
previous ajje. 

Even the theological literature assumed a more orderly 
style. This will be illustrated from the following,- short 
pasea;^e from (inaiMiliHailhana, quoted in Bawj'i Sahilt/a 

n^ 'srwf^ f^T ^jj{ ^^51 cit 'it^^ il 53T' st5? ^f?r?il fwt^i 

^f^rc^H I 'O c^ it^ f1 ^51 (?T^ 
■srsrt^ BfSTc^ ^s?> 5i?f?i?l «t?-nf i^CiT?! w.^^ ^tUT^ 

'Vol. 11, pp. 1030-37. This MS. (iHted 1158 B. S. iHaluo noticed 
in S. P. Patrika, 1304, p. 341, where it is called Sadhann Kntha. The 
text lis t^iviMi ill thoao pliicos are obviously punctuated and cor- 
rected iu spoiling. 


C5rs[«i^«tt<[ JTsrff^} «ra5i:s ji's'^t^j^ ^f^c^^ 1 nc^ c^t ^^t^ ^^ 

^c^T f^^t^f ^f^c^ ^^^t^ c^t ^^'^TCT ^i:^^ ^f^:^ ^tsfl^ 
^s^pft^l ^^w ^t^f^ ^5rf?(t^ ^1^ s?^tt?iKW^ f^ ^1 ^t^1 

lf^?<Tfi c^^ ^f^^t^ 1 ^c^ c^t ^t^fft^l ^^^ fi^c^ 

^f^t^W C^5I^^-«t1 ^^Slft v»%^^ f^^tSf ^^ II tf% II 

All this i« iudeed a great advance towards periodic or 
balanced prose. The syntax is not irreg'ular : the verb 
is not dropped or shifted at will : the clauses are not 

clumsily thrown together or inverted 
Advance towards ^^.j(], complete disregard of general 

maturity not aechue. ' o o 

harmony : in short, the whole trend 

is a movement towards maturity and not decline, and, if it 

is not too sweeping to generalise, towards modernity itself. 

It would not be strictly proper to take into account, as 

specimens of literary style, the prose of a few deeds and 

documents which have come down from the 17th and 18th 

centuries but this "documentary" prose though seldom 

„ , ■ , rising into art, indicate, that by 
Prose of deeds and ' ' ' ^ 

documents : what application of prose to an infinite 

the}' illustrate. . . ,. , . ^ , . , ,. 

variety or subjects, the right direc- 
tion was being taken towards systematic prose-writing, 


tiiwards the eivatioii of a piose-of-all-work. In tliosi- days 
of Persian a.setMulanpy, the application of Bi'n;nrali to these 
(lociunt'nts is afact siy;nitieant in itself ; and these spei-imens 
show vfinaenlar k'tlei-\viitin<;, one of the most powerfnl 
instianients in tlie formation of a oeneial prose style, in 
full operation. Before the Third Literary Coiderence in 
North Beni^l (l-ilC) B. S.), the President in his address 
cpiotetl specimens of two Benti;ali letters written by Assamese 

Kini;s, one of which dates back to 

ollEerr' "^ '''" '^'' '^"^^ ^'>^ °*'^^'' to 1553}5aka.' 

We (piote here the fust named letter 

dated I 177, written by Kiija Naranara\aii to the Ahome 

Kin<^ Chukamfa Svar*jfadeva 

^5^1 'j^ ^^st^ ^tt 'j^Hs ^^^ 5^^^ I 's(\^^\ cit ^iTsfsrs 
^ff I csprr^i iit^ft^ T^ ^fvt 55 I ^ ^?T 3t^ ^fc^ 

S ^ JT^'t^ ^?9 5f§'^^ St^I^t^ ^5|?It^ ntTttCTff «t^?Ttil 
^^ JPFSI jpitST^ ^f^^l fS^^ f^tft? fif^l I 

' Report.- Ill iin C.'iii' I. lice (Cttmii Bnhga Sahityn Satntmlaua, 
TriCiyn Adhtbetnua, K(iryiibtbaram),p\}. 3,'i.37.jTlie8c were tirut published 
in iliKirMbfinfi, June 37, 1901, and AugiiBt 1, 1901. Tlic Hret of these 
lettcrH has becu (without any indication of it« source) reprinted in 
Bahf/a Sahityn Parichaya, vol. ii, p. 1672. 



Here is an extract from the second letter dat«d 1553 
5aka written by the Assamese Kinj^^ to Mohammedan 
Faujdar Nawab Aleyar Khan of (iauliati 

5Tr^ f?i^? ^^t^^ I 'Sit?:?! c£|9ri f^t^i I c^tsrr? f *f^ 't^©^ 

5tf^ I ^? ^t^^^^ ^f^ I ^^ C^Kf^ ^1%^ ^^5^ "STtf^ 

'srw^ '^ t^^fl^ 1 ^f5(« ■^f^iff«[?i'5^^ i8t« ^^1 1 'srr? 
^ ^?:^ ^£ic^ uspii's ^t^tt (?rf5i^ I 'srsii^ "sitf^s ^^sf ^sit^rtw^t 

From the letter of Nandakuniar to 
Extract from Nauda- 

kumar's lettei- to his son Gurudas pubHshed in the 
^"''''•^*'- Sa/uh/a Pariml PafrikU (B.S. 1310, 

pp. 62-65)'. 

C^W^ ^5?51 ?f<Rff1 ^t^STl ^^^ '^'^ f *f«1 ^^S 5 « ^f^C^ 

^^ ^ "^ C^T^ ^^ ^itt^ ^t5t^ srff?(aTf?f 1^^ C^^^ss ^f^^ 

f%f^ 51911 ^ ^t^^ •^^^-l ^t??iT^ ^^ t^ \%5R ^^ ^^ ^t^^^^ 

' For the history and text of those documents, see S. P. Patrika, 
1306, pp. 297-301 and ibid, 1308. The text, however, is taken from 
a very modern copy of the original. Tlicy are reprinted in Banga 
Sahitya Paridtaya, vol. ii, l»p. 1638-43. 


(Ti?«i^j^ mc^'i:^*^ f5?*$ ^3i¥r"5 ^T^m -n^^-s ^$t?tr^ f«ifV?it^ 

This is not absolutely despicable writino^, even thouo^h 

in the last extract there is an in- 

.lonnmT"' ^'""''' '''"' ^'^itable tincture of Persian, due 

partly perhaps to the fact that it 
was addressed to a Mohammedan Nawab. The same 
tendency is ilh^tnited by the documents, dated B. S. 1125 
and II -J?, relatin«? to the Baisnab triumph of Radhfi 
Mohan Das Tliilkin' which were published and edited 
by R. Tribcdi in tlic l^ntriku : from which it is needless 
to nuote more than the followin>>' short illustrative 
extract. It speaks of the "^^^^l doctrine. '■* 

c^'rn:^ %%^' "sfJi^® ntfr '^wt:^^ ■sax f\s\^\ w^ '^%^^ 

if 9s 9 ^-^ •s^l^'^W\^ JTHI «C^ f^5T^ ^f^^ "5?^ ^"^ T's-JT^^ 
^f^^ "STttCI stfKs 'l^^'JI"» irs Ifi 5l5t^t^l I^Pl't ^1? 

' Some letters of Nnndakiiiiiilr dikii-tl 1750 ui-i! piihliHliod by Hove- 
ridge in the Xat»»nul Mngnzine (SopteiiiluT, 1872). Tiio iettiT of 
which quotation is given is dated 1772. 

^ In. this connectiou it is necessary to mention the documents rela- 
ting to the nCFairs of Lata Udayananlyan Riiy, |)ubli8iiod in the 
Piitrika, I'.iOH, pji. 24^)-54. Inspito <»f a slight admixture of Persian, 
here we have goo<l .tpecinions of descriptive prose. The passages, 
however, are too lengthy for full qnouition here. • 


ft^t^f 9 ^*il ?t^ -sTftritsi -»t^e ^^5t^ V''?^^ ?Fi%?i1 fwz^^ 
(71 (71 '^K^ ^t^^ ^^^ ^51^^ f^5t^ ^ ^^:^ %tC?I t?1^mt 

■51^^^ ^?:9[tl^9R ^t^ -sT^t^l ^kz^^ Tsrrsi^i ^i^ic^ sr^'^^ 

5f^t^^ ^T^ sTstf^^tfr %%^ f^ c^riTtfr "st^t^i (71 31-5 

^^^ «T^H« *rflf ^f^^iKl^ ^^1 ^ifsc^^ ^f^gi ^tTai ^^t^ 
f?R^ ^^'^f* ^f^^ 5is'^^ §^1^ C^Tfft^ ^fw^ >5rHtl^ 

^St^lIW^ =^1^ "5rt^5f tf^^ <Jf?t^ xsC^ "51-R^T^ tf^^ ^f?Rl 

f^ (ii ^^Tf^ ^ti^1 B'l't^ ^tfw^rf^ ^itt<ri vr^^i ^f?rr5 ^%^^ 

^^t^ s?t^<T «t1 >rr^^ fsr^^ ?^^?rt^ ^ f^^1 ^f^z^^ ii^ii^ 

^^ I 

These 17tli and 18th century documents and other 
prose pieces show that even in the hands or mouths of 
people, who cannot be strictly called literary, the vernacular 

in that sta*»e of prose-writinp^ had 

Summary of the quite ijot out of mere nisticitv or 
achipvenionts of okl 
Bengali prose. chudish babblement. The sta,i>'e of 

apprenticeship was indeed not over 

but it is^good straight-forward Bengali attaining sufficient 

APPEXl^TX I 485 

rlivtliniical iiiiil \tMl)al di^nitv miuI sli()uiii<_> tin- wav tt» 
lietter tliin«i'^ ii" it had suited the writtTs to uiitc moie 
oi"i<>;iiiallv in prosi-. Treatises on law, medicine, and >iniilar 
documents or esoteric tlieolo«;ical writing can srldoui, in 
tlie very nature of the case, lay claim tu literai'x eoni- 
l)etency or to thf motive power of >t\ le ; hut the description 
of Brndaban and such other thiuiis ^ives hctter o|i|iortum- 
ties and, rude though the resources ol" loini and nujdel 
were, yet such as they were, they were used with sufHcient 
skill. This, though (|ualiiied, is hinh praisf indeed, l-'ull 
and mature prose stvle is \v\ to come ; indeed stvie in the 
strict and rare sense had scarcely been attained or 
consciously attempted. The necessary stock ol" material 
was yet to be accumulated, the necessary plant and method 
of workinij- to be slowly and |)ainfull\ elaborated. There 
was still clumsiness and uncouth handlin<»' inse|)arable 
from earliness and immaturity. These Sahaji} a and other 
works a*>;ain written, as they were, for an exclusive and 
esoteric sect and in a ditticult lany:ua»»:e were not very 
widely known or easily accessible to all: in fact, their 
u;eneral intluence was not mucii anil this may be one 
reason wh\ their very laudable attempt at vernacular 
prose-writing was not .-^o widely taken uji or readily 
enudated as it should have been. But the return to 
vernacular writiny; from Sanscrit or Persian ; the ijeneral 
clian<»;e of »i;round from verse to |) ; the wideninu; of 
subjects and methods ; the practising: of a perfectly homely 
and vernacular style, free from obscurity or ornate Sanscrit 

constructions ; and lastly the example 

Its formal im|H)rt. gf pj^^y p|.ij„ business-Iike narration, 

anco and genernl • , , • , r , ,, 

ninveinent towards the not aito«>:ether devoul ot character, all 

evuliition of an indi- i • t i i m 

Konons pro«e style. »•"« >"«»"* a very -reat .leal. The 

result achieved may not have Iwen 
literature in the |iro|ter sense but the small amount of 


positive achievement should not bhnd us to its ininiense 

formal importance or to the Tact that all this indicated a 

movement towards l)etter and better prose-writ in i>- and 

the <j;ra(lual evolution of an indiijenous prose style. But 

in the years which followed, durino- days of political and 

social instability and general decay of culture consequent 

upon revolutionary changes of s^overnment, the develo]>- 

ment of Benuali prose met with a 
^Jts^ arrested develop. ^.,.^^^ ^.j^^^j.^ ^„^| -^ ^^.^^ ,,^^ ,^^^^., 

nearly a century had ela])sed, with the 
establishment of i)eace and prosperity, business and leisure, 
congenial to its cultivation, that we have again the serene 
exercise of elaborate prose. But for this arrestetl develoj)- 
ment and its rebirth under entirely different conditions, 
Bengal ])rose would have developed along the lines 
indicated, entirely self-made and home-grown'. 

'Since writing the above essay on Old Bengali Prose, I have seen the 
text of Gohik Siimhifu of Brndaban Uiis as published in the Pntrila 
1309, pp. 5.5-59. Tt purports to be a brief treatise on cosmology. The 
MS. is undated but it has been supposed to be not older the latter 
part of the 18th century. The beginning is in prose while the latter 
part is in verse. Here is an illustrative extract: 

*lt^t^ "1 >ilt igntat^l I «5^ 'jf'ff^ I ^"f^ C^ft^ 19 1t^ U f^ ^ I 

^1 i t^ ^ 7^1 ^ if'fjt 8 ?r«( 4 5^ * 55it^^ 1 1 i9f^^ c^%T i« 


[ Page 109 foolnote ] 


With i'es(>eet to tlie name <j;iven to the Serainporc Hil>k', 
we have the follo\viii«i; entry in Fountain's Dian on the Ith 
January, 1798 (quoted in ContribvCiom tominU a llinfory of 
Biljliral Trnmfation-s in ///^/A/, ('aleutta, 1851) :— "This 
morning the Pundit attended upon us. It was observed 
that the word Mamjalakht/an would not properly denomi- 
nate the wholo Bible, as it only si'jfinfied * fjood news,' a 
term more a|)|)licable to the Gospel. It was then proposed 
to call the Hible U/nirnia S/imtlni : but the Pundit said 
S/tiis/rn only meant that writing; whii-h contained commands 
or orders. We must therefore call it hlianim pnHlaka, viz., 
the Holy Book." On the 18th March, 1800,' the first sheet 
of MattJH'w was printed. On the 7th February, 1801, the 
Hi*st edition of the Ben<;ali Xew Testament was published. 
It consistetl of 2,000 copies ; the expense was k^i. In 
1800, the translation of the Old Testament was liinshed. 
The lx)oks of the OM Testament, as printed b\ 
the Soram|)ore Press (1801-09) are in I volumes, vi:., 
(I) Pentateuch, ISOl : (2) Joshua- F>ther, ls09; (;i) J,.l,- 
Sonir of Solomon, 1801- ; (4) Isaiah-.Malachi, 1S()5. 
According; to the Seram|Mjrc Mi'/miirM, however, the dates 
of publication are: (1) 180! ; (2) 1809; (3) 1808 ; (1) 1807. 
The Mt-mnii-K, however, are not always reliable in this res|K*et. 
The Psalter appears to have Ix'en issuetl se|>ai-ately in J 803. 

' The flntc is incorroctiv ^'wvu U8 1S<^»3 by Dinesh Ch. Sen {Hiat. of 
Btng. Lang, and Lit. 1911, p. 852). See Tenth Memoir. Appendix. 


In 1808, the second edition of the Benijali New Testament 
was commenced and in ISOli, it was ready, loOO eojiies. 
The proof-sheets were examined by every one of the 
missionaries, and, in addition to this, Carey and Marshman 
went through it, verse by verse, one reading the Greek, 
the other the Bengali text. In 180!i, the Old Testament 
was published and in llie same year, the whole Bible 
ap])eai'f'(l in li\e large volumes. It was the work of 
Carey's own hand (manuscripts may be seen still in the 
jossession of the Seramjiore Baptist Missionaries) ; for, 
Ward, writing some years subsecjuently, mentions that 
Carey " wrote with his own [)L'n the whole of the five 
volumes." In 1809, a third eiition of the New Testa- 
ment went to the Press, consisting of 100 copies and 
came out in 18 il. It was a folio edition. The fourth 
edition of the New Testament was commenced in I SI 3 
and published in 1817 (-"3,000 copies) [the dale is wrongly- 
given as 1816 in the tenth Mi'inoii-] ; the sixth edition of the 
New Testament and third edition of the Old in 1820; 8th 
edition of the whole Bible in 1832 : the text of this revised 
edition in double columns is divided into two part*; : — 
I. Genesis — Ksther, p. 201: t. Job — Malaehi and the 
New Testament )>p. ()23. The New Testament has a 
separate title-page, witli date 183-2 in Bengali, and 1833 
in English figures. Other important subsequent transla- 
tions of the Bible are: — 

(1) The Old Testament translated from the original 
Hebrew by Dr. \V. Vates and the Calcutta Baptist 
Missionaries with native assistants, pp. 843, Calcutta 
184-4. The New Testament translated by Dr. Yates, 
Calcutta 1833, and also an edition printed for the British 
and Foreign Bible Society in 2 vols, in Roman character, 
London, 183!t. The wiiole Bible translated out of the ori- 
gmal tongues by W. Yates and other Calcutta Baptist 


Missionarios with native assistants, jip. 1144, Calcutta 

(2) Tho above revised bv J. Wenujer, ]>i). Il.'i9, Cal- 
cutta, 1861. A reprint in smaller size appeared in 1867, 
editeil with slijrht allerations bv C. B. Lewis. 

(•i) The Holy Bible, in Benijali, with references, trans- 
lated by the Baptist Missionaries with Beno^ali assistants. 
Revised edition by G. II. Rouse, pp. 81.5, M?. Calcutta 

(4) The New Testament translate<l by .T. F. Ellerton 
pp. 99;J, Calcutta 181l>. 

The different books of the Bible j)ublished separately 
are not mentioned here, the earliest beiu<? Matthew 
(1800), to which were 'annexed some of the most 
remarkable prophecies in the Old Testament respectini; 
Christ.' The next in chronoloj^ical order of publication 
was Pentateuch (1801). 



{Pa(/e 187 f oof note) 


Ek K| henkshi| yalee dek hilek ek danrkak h halo ek 

tookra poneerer apan mook, he lo, i, ya ek gaeh, her daler 

oopor bosh| ya roh, yaeh he, tutk liyonat k henksh, yalee 

bibeehona korite lai2jilo je enion shoo shwadoo ^^rash kemon 

kori; ya hat korite paribo. Kohilek, lie pri, ye kak aji 

shokale tomake dek, hi, ya ami bore shontooshto ho, iya- 

eh| hi ; tomar shoondnr monrti ar oojjol palok amar 

chok| yer jyoti, jodi nomrota krome toonii onoos^roho 

kori| ya amake ektee gan shonna ite, tobe nishshondeho 

janitam je tomar shwor tomar ar ar gooner shoman bote. 

Aiiondonmotto kak e, i onoonoyo kot, hate b hooli ya 

tahake apan shoorer poripatee dek, ha, ibar jonye mook h 

k| hoolilek tok, hon poneer neeehe pori, lo, taha tok honi 

k| henkshi, yalee oot ha, i, ya lo i ya jo yo jookta 

prosht| hau korilek, ar danrkakke obshoro krome apon 

mitt, hya gorimar k, hed korite rak hi ya gelo. 

Ihar Pi hoi e| i, jek 'hane aropit ko, t, ha probesh kore 
shek| hane guyan gochar lop pa, e. 

The system of transliteration adopted by Gilchrist for 
Bengali was substantially the same as that devised by him 
for Hindoosthani, Persian, Arabie and Sanscrit. It was 
on a phonetic basis and it attempted to render by means of 
English spelling the Kovnds of Bengali, without any refer- 
ence to the established orthography of the language, even 
in the ease of Sanscrit words. The Roman vowels had 


their Enijlish value!^. The rival system of Sir A\'illiam 
Jones very projjerly adoptetl the Italian or Latin vahies 
of the Hcjniau vowels, and this system niodified by Wilson 
and Hnnter tinalh won thedav. (lilehrist uses '< for ^, 
the Sanscrit and llindusthani sound of ^ beinjj reijularly 
represented by « ; t is denoted by i, and ^ by ee. ^ is 
represented by oo and fe by w, and .v// is u.^ed for»f, ?l, J^ ; 
■V beiny; usetl wherever these letters are so pronounced. The 
cerebrals are in italics, / <l r ; the // of the aspirate is 
separated from the stop letter by a bar, as in Sir William 
Jones's system (Xv h, c/i //). Gilchrist uses k for ^, nut c, 
as is done by Jones, so that with the former ^ is />\ ft, not 
f, //. For ^ a»jain he never employs v or a. His system, 
whatever may be its faults, has at least tin- merit of 


{Page 237 foot note) 

Eauly Christian Pkriodicals (Bengali) 

The Samachor Uarpan and the DigdarUan were not 
properly speakino-, missionary papers: for reH<?ions con- 
troversy was sedulously avoided. The first Christian period- 
ical was the Gospel Mugozive (8vo. pp. 1-10), English 
and Bengali, commenced in 1819 by the Missionaries of 
the London Missionary Society and continued till 1828. 
Then came the Eraiigelisf, edited by Bev. J. Bobinson and 
started in 1843 by the Baptist Association : it was in 
existence for three years. The Vpademka was commenced 
in 1847 and edited by J. Wenger, continued till 1857, 
when the editor went home; it was recommenced in 1863 
after his return and ultimately ceased in 1865. The 
Satt/ariiaOa edited by the missionaries of the Church of 
England, was begun in 1849 : tive volumes appear to have 
been published. The Aruondaija, a fortnight!}- journal, 
was started in 1856 by the Calcutta Tract Society. The 
first editor was Bev. Lalbehari De. These are, in their 
chronological order, all the purely Christian periodicals, 
published during the first half of the century. 


Eakly Chkistiax Tracts 

It is impossible, if it is at all worth wliilf , to draw up 
a complete list of the early Ciiristian tracts in Beiii^ali. 
A pretty fair list will be found in Murdoch, Catalogue of 
Chrishati Vernacular Literature of India, Madras, 1870. 
pp. 4-31. But this is by no means exhaustive. See 
also Long, Catalogue (1855), Return of Is am es and Writings 
etc. (1855), Return Relating to Bengali Puljlication/i (1859). 
Some of these ti-aets may be found in the Serampore 
Colleije Library and other missionary centres. See also 
Blumhaixlt, Catalogue of Bengali Printed Booh in tin- 
liritish Mu.teuui ^ni\ Catalogue of Bengali Books in the India 
Ojffice ; Wenger, Catalogue of Bengali PuljlicatiouK (18H5) 
supplements. Long's Return Relating to Bengali Publications 
(1859) and enumemtes only those missionary publications 
which wore printed after 18()5. 


Only important articles in periodicals or reviews are 
separately referred to under respective author's names. 

Aitchison, C. l'. Treaties, Enga<j^ements and Sununds 
relating- to India, with Index, 8 vols Calcutta. 
AUibone, Dictionary of British and American Authors. 5 
vols. Philadel})hia. I8.3l)-75. 
Supplement to do. hv J. F. Ivirk. -2 vols. Phila- 
delphia. 1896. 
Alumni Oxonienses. Oxford. 1888. 
American Oriental Society, Journal of. 1880. 
Anath Krsna Deb, Banger Kabita. Calcutta. B.S. 1318. 
Annual Register, The (from 17.58-1842). S-i vols. London. 

1783, etc. 
Asiatic Annual Register, The. London. 1801-12. 12 vols. 
Asiatic Journal and ^lontidy Register, The. 3 ser. 1816-45. 
Asiatic Quarterly Review, The. See Imperial and Asiatic 

Quarterly Review. 
Asiatic Researches. 1799. 

Asiatic Society of Bengal, Journal and Proceedings of. 
Calcutta. 1893 etc. 
The Centenary Review of, from 1784 to 1883. 

Calcutta. 1885. 
Catalogues of Printed Books in the European Lau- 
uuaires. Calcutta. 1908. Also Catalogues, 1843, 
1856, 1884. 
Catalogue of Books in the Oriental Library, 
Calcutta. 1899. 
Auber, Rise and Progress of British Power in India. 2 
vols. London. 1837. 


lia(ll\-, KfV. H. II. Indian !\Tissionary Diivctory. 'UA Ivl. 

Calcutta. 188(1. 
Bandyopsulhvslv, Kaliprasanna, Maui^alar Itiliasa. Xalialn 

Amal. Caloutta. M.S. 1:U)8. 
Bandhah, The. vnl. ii. Dac-oa. H.S. l:iS2. 
Baiitjadarsan, The. OKI iSeries. 
Bauiijlya Sahilya Parisat Patrika, The. 24 vols. 

Catalojfiie ot" Hen»;ah Books in. \'ol. ii, Kabvsi () 

Kahita fil. Susllkunnlr D.-. Calontta. B.S. 1.S24. 

Hani»;Iva san<;Tt rat nanialfi, cd. Asnto< (ihosal. Calcutta. 

B.S. 12H;i. 
Baptist Missionary Society, Periodical Accounts relative 
to. (') vols. Clip.stone. 1800-17. 
Centenary Volume of. 1792-1892. London. 179:?. 
.Tiihileo, History of, from 179:>- 18+2, hyRev. A. F. 
Cox. 2 vols. London. 18i2. 
Rarhosa-Machado. Bibliotheca Lusitana Historica Critica 

e Chroloijica. \'ol!<. \-\\. Lisbon. i741-.")9. 
Ra.«'U, RiijnfiraA all, Ban<;abl)asa C) Siihityabi ayak Baktrta. 
KkiTl O Sekal. New edition. Calcutta. 1909. 
Belcher, Or. .los. Life of Willam Carey. Philadelphia. I8r)('.. 
Beri<^al Academy of Literature, Journal of. \ ols. l-II. 
Ben<;al Almanac and Annual Directory, 181.'). 
Ben^jal Obituary, The. Calcutta. IS,")]. 
Renijal Pa.«t and Present (Journal of the Calcutta His- 
torical Society). 
Rensijal Selections (fiom the unpublished records of the 

(rovernment of Benrral). 
Bernier, Travels, ed. by J. Brook. 2 vols. Calcutta. 18:^0. 
Beverley, H. The l'\'rin<;hees of Chitt»«;on«;. (Calcutta 

Bharat-barsa, The. 1525 B.S. etc. 
Bharatl. Th.-. 1801 B.S. 


Bioo^raphical DietionaiT of Livinfj Authors, ed. by John 

Watkins and Frederick Shoberl. London. 1810, 
Blrbhnnii, The. New Series, vols, i and ii. Calcutta. 1319 

and l;320 B.S. 
BiSvacosa. ed. by Na<?endranath Basu. Art. on Bant;a 

Bhasa O Sahitya. 
Blochmann. Calcutta durinsj the last Century. Calcutta. 

Blumhardt, J. F. Catalogue of Bengali Printed Books in 
the British Museum. London. 1880. 

Supplementary Catalogue to do. London. 1910. 

Catalogue of Bengali and Oriya Books in the India 
Otiice. London. 190.5. 
Bolts, William. Considerations on Indian Affairs. London. 

Bose, Pramathanath. A History of Hindu civilisation 

during British Rule. 4 vols. 1894-9.5. 
Brown, W. History of the Propagation of Christianity. 

•3 vols. Vol. II dealing with Indian Missions. 

Edinburgh. 1854. 
Brief Narrative of the Baptist Mission in India. 4th Ed. 

London. 1813. 
British and Foreign Bible Society, Reports of. London. 

1805 etc. 
British and Foreign Evangelical Review, The. 
British Museum, Catalogue of Bengali Printed Books. 

See Blumhardt. 
Bruce, John. Annals of the Hon'ble East India Company. 

3 vols. London. 1810. 
Buchanan, C. The College of Fort William. Calcutta. 1805. 
Buckland. Dictionary of Indian Biograi)hy. Calcutta. 1900. 
Burnell, A. C. A Tentative List of Books and Manuscripts 

relating to the Portuguese in India. Man galore. 


Riistenl, 11. E. Kohoes From Old Calcutta. 1888. New 
VA. hiOS. ( KoFiMvnces are to tin- edition of 1888.) 

Calcutta Aiinuiil Directory ami .VImanae (18U4-10). 

Calcutta Animal Keirister, The. 1814-iO. 

Calcutta Au.\iliarv Bible Society, Reports. Serampore — 

Calcutta. 1812-80. 
Calcutta Christian Observer, The. 1832-1)0. 
Calcutta Gazette, The. (Old Hies.) 
(Calcutta Historical Society, Journals oF. (Beui^al Past and 

Calcutta Monthly Journal, The. 1818-23. 
Calcutta. Public Library, Catalojvue. 1816, 188u and I8D8. 
Calcutta Rci^ister For 1 7'.t!). Press of Ferris and Greenwnv. 

Calcutta. 1798. 
Calcutta Review, The. (Old and New series.) 1846 etc. 

(in proj^ress). Index to vols. l-oO. 
Calcutta School Book Society, Reports, First-Twentieth. 

Calcutta (1818-58). 
Cam|»i)!.. J. A. History of the Portuijuese in Beui^al. 

Calcutta. 1919. 
Carey, E. Memoirs of AVilliani Carey. London. 1836. 
Carey, W. II Good oM days of Hon'ble John Company. 

3 vols. Simla. 1882. Reprinted by Cambray & Co., 

Calcutta. 2 vols. Calcutta. 1908. 

Oriental Christian Bioi^i-aphy. 3 vols. ('alcutta. 

Carne. J. Lives of Eminent Missionaries. 3 vols. London. 


Carpenter, Mary. I.riist Days of Riija Raminohau Rav. 
Tx)ndon. 1866. 

Catalo'xue of the Calcutta Public Libi-ary. 184(5 • also 1885, 



Catalogue of Printed Books in the Asiatic Society, Benijal. 

Catalogue of Books and Mss. in tlie Oriental Library of 

Asiatic Society, B('n<2;al (containing Catalogue of 

Bengali books). Ed. Pundit Kunjabiliari Nyayabhusan. 

Calcutta. 1899. 
Catalogue of Printed Books in the Imperial Library. 

Calcutta. 1904. 
Catalogue of the Library of Board of Examiners (of books 

in the oriental language), late Fort "William College. 

Ed. Ranking. 1903. 
Catalogue of the Library of the East India College. 

London. 1843. 
Catalogue of the Library of Hon. East India Company. 

London, 184-5. 
Catalogue of the Presidency College Library. Calcutta. 1907. 
Catalogue of the Uttarj)ara Public Library, 1881, etc 
Catholic Herald of India, The. 
Chandrasekhar Mukho])adhyav. Sarsvat-Kunja. Calcutta. 

B. S. 1292. 
Chatterji, Barikimchandra : IsAar Gupter Kabitii Sam- 

graha. Calcutta. B. S. 129:2-93. 
Chatterji, Nagendranatli. Life of Raja Rammohan Ray 

(Bengali). 4th Ed. Calcutta. 
Chatterji, Sunitikumar. Krpar Sastrer Arthabhed O Barigala 

Uehcharaiitatva (Sahitya Parisat Patrika, vol. xxiii). 
Colebrooke. Supplement to the Digest of Bengal Regula- 
Collet. Life and Letters of Raja Rammohan Ray. 

Calcutta, 1900. Also ed. by Hemchandra Sarkar — 

2nd Ed. Calcutta. 1913. 
Contribution towards a History of Biblical Translations in 

India. Pamphlet (Rej)rinted from Cal. Christ. 

Observer). Calcutta. Baptist Mission Press, 1854. 

RIRTJ()(JHAl»HY 499 

Cotton, II. C:iloutta 01(1 ami New. Calcutta. 1^07. 
Cox, Dr. A. F. See unciei- Baptist Missionarv Sooictv. 
Culross, J. William Carey. liOiuloii. 18^1. 

Danvers, K. C. Portuguese in India. '2 vols. London, 1894. 
Rejwrt on Portuguese Keoords relating to 
lutlies. Tiondon. 1S92. 
Day, Lalhiliari. Recollections of Dr. HiifT. London. 

De Rozario, ,M. Tlic C.nnpletc Monumental Re«i:ister 

Calcutta. KSIT). 
De, Susliilknniilr. (Jatalof^ue of Bengali Books in the 
Sahitya Farisat Library : vol. ii, Kshya Kabita. 
Calcutta. B. S. l.'3-21. 
EnropTya-likliita Prachinatama Mudrita Baiij^ala 

pustak (Sahitya Parisat Patrika, vol. xiii). 
Raninidlu Ciupta O Gitaratna p;rantha {ibiil, vol.) 
Saniachar-darjian [iOid, vol. xiv). 
Natya-sahitye Dlnabandhu (Uirbhuml, New series, 

vols, ii and iii). 
Ekjaji Puriitan Portusjij Lekhak. (Pratil)ha, Dacca, 
V.Vll B.S.) 
I^ictionarv of National Bioi^raphy. London. 1908. 
Dodwell, v.. and Miles, J. S. Bengal Ci\il Servants. 

London. 1839. 
t)oss, Ramchunder. Ben«;al Re«;ister of Hon. K. I. Co.'s 
Civil Servants on the Ben<i;al Establishment. 
Calcutta. I'^ll. 
Duff, A. India and Indian Missions. Kdinburirh, 1840. 

(also in Calcutta Heview). 
Dutt, R. C. The Literature of Beniral. Calcutta, 1877. 
Ed. Calcutta, and Ijondon 189.'). 
India inuler Early British Rule CEconomic History). 
Ix)ndon. 1908. 


Eclectic Review, The. 1859. 

East India College, Cataloofne of the liihrary of. 

London. 181-'3. 
East India Company, Catalojjue of the Libmry of. 

London. 184."). 
East India Register and Directory, 1'lie. 1812-42. 
East India Sketches : l)ein» an account of the condition of 

society at Calcutta and Bombay. ISlO? 
Evanselist, The. Bombav. 18-Uetc. 

Faria T. Souza, Manoel de. Asia Portuo^ue?.. (In Encjlish. 

by Capt. Stevens. London. l()94-5). 
Field. Regulations of the Bengal Code. Calcutta. 1875« 
Fifth Report of the Select Committee on the Affairs of the 

East India Company. Loudon. 1812. Ed. Firniin- 

ger with Introduction. Calcutta. 1917. 
Forest, G. W. State Pa] ers etc. relating to "Warren 
Hastings (1772-1785). 3 vols. Calcutta. 1890. 

The Administration of Warren Hastings. Calcutta. 
1892. ' 
Fort William College, Library of the Board of Examiners. 

Catalogue of books in the Oriental languages, 190*3. 
Friend of India, The. (from 1834). Serampore, 1835 etc. 

Also see Quarterly Friend of India. 
Fuller, A. An Apology for the late Christian Missions in 

India. London. 1808. 

Gentleman's Magazine, The. 

Ghose, Kailashehandra. Baiigala Sahitya. Calcutta. 1885. 
Gilchrist, J. The Oriental Fabulist. Calcutta. 1803. 
Gltaratnamala Kd. Aghornath Mukhopadhya}', vols. i-ii. 

Calcutta. B. S. 1303. 
Gleig. Memoirs of Warien Hastings. 2 vols. llHO. 

bimli()(;kaimiv ooi 

(iraiidpre, L. <le. N'oyaijji' to Hennal in 17H!» ami I71HI. 

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(tn'erson, (J. Iiin<;nistio Survey, vol v. (Meni^ali). 
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The Early Publications of tlu' ."^ era in pore Mission- 
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(Jnpta-ratnoddhar, or FraeliTn Kabi San(;Tt Saihiiraha. Kd. 
Kedivrnath Handyopadhyay. Caloutfa. 1801. 

Harrington. Analysis of Bengal He<>;nlalions. ('aloutta. ISdCi. 
Hastings AVarren. Menioii' Helative to the State of 

India. New I'M. Ijondon. 178(5. 
Hill, S. C Ben;ial in 17.T(i-.')7 (Indian Kcoonl series). 

•i vols. Ijondoii. 190'). 
Hol.son-Jobson or A Glossary of Anjiio-Indian \\'()rds and 

Phrases complied by Vide and Hnrnell. London. 

1886. New Kd. by Crooke. London. llM):}. 
Hoby, J. Memoirs of William Yates. 1847. 
Hosten. The Three First Type-printcfl Hcni^'ali liooks 
(Hen<;al Past and Present, vol. w). 

On Jesuit Missions to lieniial (Jonrnal. .\sialic Soc. 
Ben- mil). 
Hoiio;h, .1. History of Christianity in India, :2 vols. 

London. I8;V.'. 
Hani^hton, (i. ('. Bengalee Selections. London. lS:2-2. 
Hunter, \V. Indian Empire, London. 188;J. 

Imperial (iazetteer. .Art. Serampore. Calcutta. 1901. 

.Annals of Rural Benirnl. London. I SOS. <Also 
Calcutta, MM)!). 
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Inipey, E. R. Memoirs of Sir E. Imijey. London. 1857. 
Imperial and Asiatic Quarterly Review, The. Ijondon. 188(»- 

1 900. 
Imperial Library, Catalogue. See Cataloo^ue. 
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and New). 
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