*APPENDIX II: Extracts from Dr. Gilchrist's Dialogues, English and Hindoostanee [[536-637]]* -- part 1
[] In the compilation of a dialogical it becomes a matter of sound policy to confine the conversation generally to one party, because he can thus be taught to speak not only with grammatical precision, but to manage his own language in,the manner most conducive for the execution of orders and the gratification of his own wishes, upon every occasion; while it must be wholly impossible to put such words in the mouths of the persons addressed as they will actually adopt. To every question or remark there may be at least twenty different modes of reply, and an author must be fortunate indeed, should his work contain the very answers that will be made to all his reader's queries of any kind, in a foreign tongue, unless his book be thus extended to a size far beyond the ordinary limits of these productions.
Nothing is so common as the solitary response irshad from the Hindoostanees when accosted by a querist, meaning, according to circumstances, "your commands, sir;" " what do you say-- ?" "I did not hear you, pardon me," &c.; which would at once throw a mere dialogist all aback, from his not being prepared to hear only one word where he expected twelve or half a dozen at least. These considerations have given features to this undertaking, rather out of the beaten track, except where I was in some measure [] compelled to give colloquial communication the appropriate form of dialogues, as useful examples in the usual style of similar exercises, which every student should cut and carve for himself, from the moment he becomes a colloquist, and this ought to be done with all convenient expedition, so far as his intercourse with the natives of India shall put this plan of self-instruction within his reach.
That my students may accomplish this necessary task on safe and competent
grounds, immediately as they reach the shores of Hindoostan, I have therefore
conceived it to be my bounden duty to furnish them with those portions
of local knowledge which may prove of no small consequence to their future
welfare as gentlemen, and their rapid progress through a vernacular medium
as oriental scholars, during which period they can daily increase their
stock of general information; for this should ever accompany, pari passu,
all our efforts to become expert linguists, that the acquisition of mere
verbal funds may not rather diminish than increase those intellectual powers,
and that common sense, which are frequently sunk under a heavy load of
sheer pedantry and classical lore, very different indeed from real science
and practical wisdom.
The Hindoos are all uncircumcised idolators, of ancient footing in India. The Moosulmans are deists and followers of Moohummud; and their standing there is not above nine centuries. They are in fact our predecessors in conquest; and are subdivided into four grand classes, termed sueyud, shekh, mooghul, puát,han. In pages 186-7 of the Guide [=Gilchrist's British India Monitor, Guide, and Story Teller], a list will be found exhibiting their ordinary appellatives, with those of the Hindoos also, and some other particulars, which it would be superfluous to repeat here.
The Moosulmans are fonder of wearing beards, their whiskers are commonly larger, and their whole appearance more fierce, masculine, and robust than the Hindoos, the Rajpoot tribe excepted; these last tie or fix the strings of their garments on the left side, while the Moosulmans prefer the right: but they both reverse this mode in binding the collars of their vests.
The Hindoos in general mark their foreheads, and other parts of the face and body, with various pigments: they adorn themselves occaionally with beads, bracelets, rings, and other trinkets; they wear round the neck a string of small beads, termed mala, and often across the shoulder and breast a collection of threads untwisted, generally called june,oo, a token, from junnana, janna, to show, ken, know; whence its meaning as a distinguishing badge of their tribes. On the contrary, finger-rings and particular insignia of state are almost the only ornaments worn by the Moosulmans. In other apparent or obvious circumstances of counting rosaries, the form of the hair, turbans, &c., it is no easy matter always to discriminate them from the Hindoos: their names however being all significant, as I have explained in the Guide [=Gilchrist's British India Monitor, Guide, and Story Teller], can hardly ever be confounded by a Hindoostanee scholar.
[] From their long residence among the Hindoos, the Moosulmans of Hindoostan have adopted so many of the religious prejudices and ceremonies of the former, that on these points also it is dificult to mark out any discrimininative line, by which to distinguish them. Like the Hindoos, they marry young, and will not marry even virgin widows. They pretend to cast. Their processions with images, &c. are of Hindoo origin, and altogether unauthorized by their Qoaran. Some of the Hindoo holidays are observed by them. They still however retain the practice of their forefathers, in the disposal of their dead by burial: the Hindoos, on the contrary, with few exceptions, burn their dead, or commit their bodies to the holy water of the Ganga, or other sacred streams.
To attain the language in perfection, and to form a competent notion
of the manners and customs of any country, much intercourse with the natives
is necessary; here indeed it is indispensable, being an expedient we must
constantly resort to, while discharging the social, domestic, and official
duties in which all Europeans are more or less concerned in British India.
I need hardly dwell on the aversion which Moosulmans bear to dogs and hogs; it is with much reluctance they remain near the former faithful creatures, or touch anything defiled by them. Pork and the blood of animals are forbidden to the Moosulmans, as unclean in every respect: yet when in the capacity of our menials, they can [] have no reasonable objection to lift them in, any vessel, since the touch merely subjects them to the trouble of purification with water. The Hindoos, from various causes which cannot be enumerated here, have particular antipathies also, and consequently will not handle beef, veal, fowls, eggs, cheese, baked flour, or other vegetables prepared in a culinary way for our use; nay, many of them object to onions, turnips, carrots, candles, wine, &c.
The native mode of beckoning to each other is so much the reverse of ours, that when this is put in practice by a stranger [to the] manner, he will be astonished to find the persons thus invited to approach, scamper off as if they had seen the devil in a white man; who should then extend his right hand raised a little horizontally, and the palm being preserved in its natural position, let him bring his fingers in repeatedly towards himself, so that they may be easily seen by the runaways, and the whole will instantly return, though they were at first driven away by the European mode of making a sign, which among them signifies off, off, instead of our intended come, come, this way, this way, in dumb show.
Peculiarities founded on religious grounds are entitled to every reasonable indulgence; no tyranny can be so odious as encroaching on the long-established opinions and sacred doctrines of a conquered people, or more inconsistent with the moral principles and benign spirit of Christianity, which inculcates good will and charity with all men.
Every reflecting person who takes a liberal view of mankind will scrupulously
shun all cause of offence to the Hindoostanees in matters of the kind here
alluded to: and will never insist on the execution of an order by one of
his dependents, till it be known whether or not the [] same can be
executed consistently with the religious prejudices of the servant. A considerable
degree of local information is requisite to decide impartially upon cases
Few offices of the table can well be performed by the Hindoos who have any pretensions to cast; though the whole may by our Moosulman servants. Some casts of Hindoo bearers, less scrupulous on more important matters, will not pour the hot water brought by them for tea upon eggs: while others, more troublesomely tenacious in other apects, do it without hesitation. Innumerable similar instances could be produced, where new-corners and uninformed old residents in India are exposed to commit the grossest injustice and, if they give way to the violence of passion by proceeding to blows, sometimes with the most unhappy effects.
Yet aware as I am that even the mildest temper or most determined apathy is liable to be constantly ruffled and undertimined by the stupidity, peverseness, and chicanery of the natives, I would propose that impetuous young men, when irritated, should, in preference to personal correction, and as the least of two great evils, let the storm blow over among the lower order of natives in a volley of words, like buetoolmal, murdood, muloon, kafir, &c., whose meanings he will learn perhaps, too soon, without any specification in this place.
The Tatar invader Tuemoor-lung (miscalled Tamerlane) observes, in one of his mandates respecting the Hindoostanees, that "regardless of honour, and indecent in their dress, they sacrifice their lives for trifles, and are indefatigable in unworthy pursuits, whilst improvident and imprudent; their ideas are confined, and views circumscribed. When reduced to poverty, they patiently have recourse to the most menial employments, forgetting [] their previous circumstances, and seldom quitting the world without injuring their benefactors: but whilst the acquisition of riches termpers every atrocity, indolence pervades even their most momentous transactions. Like those demons who, with a view to deceive, can assume the most specious appearances, so the native of Hindoostan has no pretensions to humanity but the figure; whilst imposture, fraud, and deception are by him considered meritorious accomplishments. By these arts they amass wealth, whilst the conceited dupe, who invests them with the management of his concerns, suddenly finds his property reduced to nothing."
The tendency of this mandate is to preclude a "confidence in their actions, or an adoption of their advice; but when necessity compels you to have recourse to their assistance, emply them as the mechanical, and support them as the living, instruments of labour." I give this extract rather as a caveat against too much confidence, than as any authority for maltreating the people, whom the conqueror probably paints with a caricaturist's pencil.
That many excuses made by the natives who frequent Calcutta are mere pretexts and scandalous impositions, none can be more conscious than myself; but until every master be sufficiently versed in the statistical history of India, to decide between points of evasion and those of religious disqualification; or until an active intelligent police adjust these matters, I would seriously recommend that no hands should be raised to enforce obedience, except the legal arm of magistracy, among our dependents of every description.
When a thoughtless youth talks of kicking and correcting with a cane, any native of rank or education, if no other more generous reflection will have weight with [] him, he should recollect that neither personal nor verbal abuse is always tamely submitted to by the better class of inhabitants in any country: nay, that some tribes even in India are famous for the summary and ample revenge they take upon those who grossly insult them: and besides that, in certain points of honor they are probably more tenacious than ourselves.
The practice of corporal panishment of domestics, one would hope, is almost exploded in both hemispheres, but should it still unfortunately exist in British India, let me advise every prudent man to exempt his bawur-chee, or confidential servant, yclept cook, from this ordeal, for reasons as numerous as the plums in a wholesome plum-pudding, and equally evident.
The false ideas entertained by the natives, relative to the female part of their families, render nearly every question and enquiry (however innocently expressed by us and consonant with our customs) offensive to a Hindoostanee in the extreme, if he be not among the very dregs of the people, or accustomed by long familiarity and habit to this species of urbanity of manners. We should therefore cautiously abstain from the subject entirely, unless they commence it, which will seldom if ever happen, as i imagine they deem this a theme unfit for the conversation of the nearest relations, or the most intimute friends.
So absurd is their fastidiousness in these affairs, that sala, a wife's brother, is a term of reproach, almost equivalent to our of pimp, or pander to another's passions, whence the blush is often perceived on a brothers-in-law's cheek when denoted by that otherwise endearing epithet; and no wonder, as the word is often introduced for one of downright abuse: door ho sale!, get out you ------- !
To compliment them on their own or children's casual appearance of health and plumpness, to [] praise their horses, cattle, or any thing belonging to a native, had better be avoided by those who envy not the one, nor covet the other; and are averse to expose their insufficient acquaintance with Hindoostanee customs, at the expense of their politeness also.
Some strange notions of a similar sort still exist in the remote parts of our own country, where the common people, when thus complimented, are apt enough to observe, in rather a petulant tone, "the poor thing fares only like its neighbours, though you say it looks better." In good truth, our rustics occasionally still tremble at the very idea of unlucky feet and malignant eyes: nay, there is a well-known anecdote of a haughty Scottish earl in the neighbourhood of Edinburgh, that indicates a little of this vulgarity in such a mighty breast, a clergyman from the city was walking with his lordship through an avenue of fine thriving trees, and remarked how very well they throve; on which the great little man replied, "so they ought, for they have nothing else to do."
This from a libertine peer might have been construed as a cutting repartee to a fat parson, were it not recognised for an ostentatious display of lordly pride, which on another occasion displayed itself thus: the obsequious divine having lamented, that he understood the earl had been lately complaining of indisposition, was with grave pomposity informed, "true I was not well, but I never complain."
So very opposite are our notions of good breeding and accomplishments, that in most cases to conceive an Indian gentleman capable of acting, dancing, or singing, would be to degrade him to the lowest occupations in society, calculated for the mercenary vulgar alone; yet these very men do not imagine that an accidental eructation is any deviation from politeness, or that good [] manners are intruded on, by talking openly on subjects which we either carefully disguise, or altogether refrain from alluding to, in genteel company, though the nations on the continent, including the french, are not so scrupulous.
I must not omit to notice certain modes of expression in India, vary importantly connected with the subjects here discussed, and shall therefore briefly advert to the interrogative answer, muen ne nuheen kiya? did i not do it? kyoon, guya nuheen? what, is he not gone? often meaning simply, I have done it; he is gone; and to the word j,hoot,h a lie, joke, &c., so frequently used without any offensive intention by the natives of that country. The former mode, though perhaps not altogether the most respectful, is nevertheless so intimately connected with the idiom or the language, that great allowances should be made for the use of it by the natives: and where it may otherwise have the appearance of disrespect, it is better in such cases to consider it rather as proceeding from ignorance, than an intention to offend, as j,hoot,h means joke as well as lie, and is very frequently used in the former sense, a certain degree of familiarity will fully justify the use of it; without the least intention in the speaker, of impeaching the veracity of the person to whom it may be applied. We must therefore overlook the circumstance of sometimes being accused of telling a white lie, and pocket the slight affront with all possible forbearance, and since it is not meant in that light, let us take the fair side of the observation only.
There are many Europeans who do not return the salute of a Hindoostanee, from the absurd conception of degrading themselves by performing this obvious duty of urbanity. The real gentleman may surely be civil to all, without being more familiar than he deems proper with any.
[] Other Europeans unwittingly acknowledge the salutation with the left hand, which is accounted, for reasons inadmissible here, very insulting, and much more unpolite, to say the least of it, than presenting among us the left for the right; or this even covered with a glove; and the still more frigid offer of a solitary finger, when a friend expects a cordial shake of the hand. Are any of us callous to the haughtiness, indifference, or neglect of our superiors in the observance of such ceremonies? No! We should not therefore wonder if the Hindoostanees employ their dexterity in making reprizals; and that they have already done so, with too much success, will I doubt not be evident from the sequel.
When invited to the entertainments of the Hindoostanee gentlemen, who spare no expense to render them agreeable to us, we too often lay aside that decorum and decency of behaviour, which is the smallest return they can expect, for the hospitality that requested our attendance. Instead of making suitable allowance for the education, manners, and customs of the natives, we rudely condemn the music, dancing, singing, and other parts of the exhibition that please them most, without reflecting on our relative situation as guests only. Should the drama or pantomime offend our modesty, nothing is so easy as to retire in silence and, for a few minutes at least, to smother disgust and disapprobation in our own breasts.
Surely a prudent retreat of this sort would more fully establish our
superiority in breeding and morality, than vociferous exclamations of "beastly
stuff," or insulting demonstrations of dislike in every feature and motion.
Rude clamour is by no means the unerring test of a pure and immaculate
spirit, which rather meditates in silence on the weakness of humanity,
than upbraids another with the consequences of tuition and habit; of []
which we, as well as the Indians, are all more or less the abject slaves.
The access which the people here alluded to have obtained to our kitchens, their being employed instead of a furrash to sweep our rooms, and above all, their introduction as our cooks, and deputy waiters, or scullions, most powerfully conspire to rivet the belief, which both Moosulmans and Hindoos cherish, that we are a defiled and impure race. I was once told very gravely by a khansamanjee, to whom I was proposing, as an expedient to prevent the grooms from stealing the horses's grain, to get the sweeper to steep it: "Why, sir, take that trouble? You have only to touch it yourself, and not a man afterwards can meddle with it for any purpose whatsoever."
Our utensils of every sort are very improperly exposed to be licked by each cur that haunts our houses; but in a country like India, we ought no longer to overlook apparent trifles, when nearly connected with the estimation and rank we must preserve in the eyes of its inhabitants. [] This circumstance, and that of our outcast cooks, deter every Moosulman almost from partaking of any repast prepared in our houses, which, as an insulated fact, though of no great moment, yet when combined with others, becomes serious enough to make me wish for a radical reformation in the kitchen department.
It might speedily be effected by encouraging the Mugs, Moosulmans, Chinese, Portuguese, and Hindoos to act as cooks, rather than to persevere in employing the lowest and filthiest of the human race (people who eat carrion, act as executioners, and exclusively perform the meanest offices of life), in services so intimately connected with the pleasures of the table, and the preservation of health. Should gentlemen begin to affect an observance of forms in this respect, it is not only probable we would rise much higher in the general estimation of the natives, but doubtless we should also be less subject to a disgusting and often dangerous indifference in our servants, as to cleanliness in the preparation of our food, &c.
We now, indeed, often give them too much reason to conceive, judging of us by their own prejudices, that the use of the filthiest utensils and the dirtiest rubbers in our kitchens and pantries are inconsequential to us; provided a little apparent decency (they probably know not why) is kept up before our faces in the parlour or hall. Toothpicks from brooms, and strainers from the worst parts of their wearing apparel, are expedients in times of hurry that we often suspect our servants to adopt; should any doubt remain on the subject, I can only say that I have myself detected instances of both. Whatever favourable estimation they may form of our courage, sagacity, and religious forbearance, it will be long before they assign us a respectable comparative rank in the [] scale of mankind, when viewing us through the delusive medium and bigotry of cast.
This engine of cast was doubtless invented by the Hindoos, both for its internal policy among themselves, and the depression of all other nations by the exaltation of their own: since it goes so far as to confer on them an imaginary superiority, that admits of no convert to their religious creeds. The Moosulmans, however, have imbibed a considerable degree of the spirit of it; whether politically or accidentally need not be discussed here, but on all occasions they fail not to avail theirselves of the advantage it bestows, in consequence of our inattention to matters of primary consideration with them.
In point of purity we are become, in the estimation of both these classes of Hindoostanees, exactly on a footing with the hulalkhors; or those who, especially about Calcutta, now-a-days generally prepare victuals for us, but whom they permit not to enter their dwellings, or to touch any thing that appertains to them. It is very usual for the surkars and khansamanjees of a newcomer, in answer to his enquiries respecting the different casts of his servants, to inform him that the mihtur, or his brother, the cook, "is of master's cast." It therefore behooves us, while granting every indulgence to the religious prejudices of others, to guard against such insidious encroachments of those very people as may tend to affect either our national honour, interest, or our private comfort and character.
It is with much pleasure I have observed, that a becoming sense of this subject has of late years saved us from a most humiliating degradation in the eyes of our servants, both Moosulmans and Hindoos. I allude to the practice which formerly very generally prevailed in Calcutta, [] of introducing a mihtur or other person of the lowest cast, to bring in and carry away pork when used at our tables. This originated in the insolent refusal (to give it no worse epithet) of our Moosulman servants, to perform an office that merely subjected them to the trifling pains of ablution by water: when indeed there were any among them, who thought even this pains necessary.
This custom is now generally exploded: no Moosulman, since our eyes
have been opened in this respect, will think of refusing to lift plates
or dishes, although, according to his religious tenets, defiled by pork;
yet in a collateral contrast in the article of common civility and politeness,
as expressed by us and the Hindoostanees, we are no less shamefully imposed
on, than we formerly were in regard to the practice of bringing the mihtur
to our very table.
When a native steps aside to say his prayers, whether there be a carpet on the spot or not, he must pull off his slippers; not as a positive act of worship, but as a decent observance or preparation only. We act in a similar manner previous to devotion, by uncovering our heads, and this we do even to a friend on visiting his dwelling; but he never conceives by this act that we mean to make an idol of him, or that we consider his house farther than mere civility goes, as possessed of any degree of sacredness, assigned by us to a temple of worship. What the Hindoostanees do with their shoes in their mosques, &c., they also carefully observe in a similar manner in the mansions and apartments [] of each other; and if this be true, as doubtless it is, the parallel is, I hope, in every respect no less so.
In every part of Hindoostan that I have travelled over, the people invariably uncover their feet before they enter an apartment where they believe anything decent or human dwells, but mirabile dictu! they intrude on the British inhabitants of Calcutta and its environs, without the slightest attention to this act of politeness, most scrupulously observed among themselves, as if they were determined to trample us under the pride of cast by evincing that to a Hindoo or Moosulman alone it was necessary to pay this common mark of civility or respect.
Among men who are biassed by religion and inveterate prejudices, and who wish all Europeans to be considered as unclean and contaminated creatures, contrasted with their noble selves, surely the honest pride and indignation of every European British subject will be excited to co-operate in combating and exploding so monstrous an innovation on the respect: certainly due to us as men, and particularly so by the natives of India. It is so far fortunate, that the unreasonable advantage taken by the purseproud Hindoostanee upstarts of our apathy and ignorance, is in a great degree confined to the metropolis of Bengal and the sister presidencies; but as the evil is daily spreading, and the audacity extending even to the lower order of our servants, it may be high time to attempt to crush this cockatrice-egg forever, with no other act of violence beyond the resolution of doing ourselves justice in the mildest way.
The advocates for the continuance of our indifference on this point are of course all the baboos, deewans, surkars, moonshees, and other jees in Calcutta; who have had [] the art and address to persuade some otherwise intelligent men that the freedom here complained of, is quite innocent in its nature; nay, that to preserve themselves from contamination in our dwellings, they cannot act otherwise. Our dogs are accused of defiling our floors, and we of spitting on them, by the spotless Hindoostanees; who also say that our carpets and mats are therefore equally polluted with the streets, on which no decent person of course walks barefooted.
I have already, I trust, demonstrated that religion is here out of the question; but the fact of its not being yet on this occasion urged by our inferior servants, whose souls certainly are as worthy of preservation as those of their more exalted brethren, fully proves that theological reasons cannot be urged in extenuation of the offence committed against us and every law of hospitality. Granting, however, that such arguments might be urged, whether is it more reasonable that we should be scandalously and openly insulted; or that the purity or delicacy of those who complain of the uncleanness of our apartments, should be saved, by their being put to the expense of a few anas for socks (which are occasionally used by them), to be worn on their visits to our houses?
As we do not insist on the better sorts of natives sitting on our floors, but allow them chairs, I can perceive no pretext whatever for any further indulgence; nor can I imagine that the favourite moonshee or dependant who shall persist in approaching his employer with shoes on his feet, after the matter is explained to him, can be really a man entitled to any consideration; I shall suspect that he possesses an arrogant head, if not a very treacherous heart. Men in debt, or under pecuniary obligations to their native attendants, will perhaps be obliged by them to succumb, as it is not the nature of an [] Indian to let his master reassume that dignity which a crafty and opulent servant has for a length of time trod upon with triumphant insolence.
I introduced the practice of leaving shoes at my door while in India with every success, nor have I met with one man who could for a moment defend any attempt to keep them on; so far from it, that persons from the upper provinces have often testified their surprise to me, at our suffering the impertinence of the Calcutta people in this essential point of respect so long.
Among ourselves, some wiseacres urge that the native who comes bowing and cringing into our company, cannot really mean to disrespect us by wearing his shoes. But to this my reply is, the introductory homage is momentary, and not much observed; the slipper freedom on the contrary is permanent, and attracts the regard and admiration of every domestic who has not yet insinuated so far into the good graces of his superior, as to venture on the introduction of his brogues also. Other gentlemen, sensible of the impropriety of the act, but conceiving the proper remedy now impracticable without a more hearty concurrence in the cause than our apathy will apparently admit of, have ludicrously proposed to order their servants of all descriptions, under the penalty of high displeasure, not to offend their master's delicacy of sight, by the future unseemly exposure of their naked feet; this perhaps, or receiving every non-conforming Hindoostanee in a bare room, would be preferable to the derogatory mode submitted to now; unless for the sake of private and public conciliation, along with domestic peace, it might be advisable at once to permit every body in boots or a species of buskin socks, called pa,etabu, to wear them in our presence, which would obviate all chance of contamination on one hand, or pedal nudity on [] the other; and thus regulated, might soon appear to proceed from no want of proper deference to the person visited in that manner, which cannot otherwise be the case.
The excuse sometimes urged, for taking the shoe liberty with gentlemen who may oppose it, that "of the offender being allowed to use it in the houses of much greater men," is scarcely worth notice: since as an argument it merely amounts to this, "a. b. c. allow me to tread on them; x. y. z. should not complain when trampled on also." The natives wearing their shoes in some instances at their own naches frequented by us, is rather in favour of, than against, my arguments; we often improperly wear our hats at their houses, and they in return show their determination to be on a footing with us, even at the sacrifice of a sense of propriety in favour of themselves; but were a contrary construction to be put on this fact, and were it, and the excuse above quoted, to be allowed any degree of weight in favour of the assumption of shoes on the part of the natives, both might be successfully opposed by a fact also very notorious -- that of the curious European stranger being made, contrary to all rule, to unslipper himself, when desirous of viewing the inside of the palaces of any of their great men. If he be in boots, as these are considered an indispensable part of military dress, the ceremony is waived, which shows that the idea of his defiling the apartments has little weight in the extraordinary mark of respect otherwise required of him. It is indeed rather one among many of those instances seized by the crafty Hindoostanee, to lower the European character in an obvious comparison: what they well know to be meant by us as a mark of respect, equal to that paid by us to the highest among ourselves in India, is not sufficient for them, while [] a degradation is in view, which our easy compliance gives them an opportunity of imposing on us.