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consists of some Muhammadan legend. These volumes issue from certain presses in Calcutta, and are sold somewhat dearer (because somewhat better got up) than those printed for the Hindu population: but it is very rarely that a larger sum than half a rupee is paid for a volume; and, when it is so expensive, it is regarded as a very precious treasure, and kept with the greatest care.

Among the Bengali books for the lower classes, those most prized are the clumsy poetical epitomes, which pass for translations of the two great epic poems. But as, even in this curtailed form, the Rámáyana and the Mahábhárata are somewhat voluminous, and therefore expensive, they cannot be purchased so readily as smaller books, which may be had for a few coppers, and which therefore are far more widely disseminated-though it is always difficult for Europeans to obtain copies of them.

The first and foremost among these is an Encyclopædia, called the Shishubodhak, or Child's Instructor. Of this we have managed to purchase a splendid copy, ready bound, with a vignette on the title, a picture alphabet, and an ornamental border round every page-all for six pice (2d.). It contains an alphabet; a treatise on arithmetic and mensuration, with all the rules in poetical language; directions for letter-writing; an invocation of the Ganges; some mythological tales; and what are called the Chanakya Slokes, or golden verses, 108 in number, both in Sanscrit and Bengali; the whole comprised in fifty-four pages. This little book is more extensively used in the indigenous village schools of Bengal than any other. The treatise on arithmetic, which it contains, is really not bad and in all probability it is to it that the marvellous readiness in reckoning, possessed by so many Bengalis, may be ascribed. The Sanscrit slokes are the same which are in almost every body's mouth, and for the extensive diffusion of which it has often been thought so difficult to account. A few samples of them have appeared in No. XXII. of this Review. The compiler of this little work is unknown to us: but he has. evidently succeeded in making just the kind of book, that was adapted to the popular taste, and to the most urgent wants of learners. This shows him to have been a man of some judgment. With the exception of the alphabet and the arithmetical tables, the whole of it is in verse. The typography of our copy, though far above the average, can only be characterized as execrable.

It is the principal object of the present paper to communicate such information, as may enable the reader to form a correct estimate of the staple of the popular literature. For this

purpose, it appears very appropriate to give a translation of the Invocation to the Ganges, which has been mentioned among the contents of the Child's Instructor. On the one hand, it is universally admitted to be one of the finest productions, in point of language, of Bengali genius; whilst on the other, it is presented to the youthful mind, at the very threshold of the temple of Learning, being the first lesson, which a child is taught to read or to repeat:


Salutation to thee, O river of the gods. I hear of thy majesty in the Puranas, thou ancient purifier of the fallen. Thou art sprung from the feet of Vishnu; thy name is the Limpid one, the mother of Suras, Asuras, and men. The drinking vessel of Brahma was thy abode; at his side thou didst dwell, and sanctify the city of the gods. Seeing the sad state of mortals, to deliver them from the fear of the future, thou, goddess of the gods, camest upon earth. Bhagiratha, the descendant of the Sun, was the first to show thee the way, and to bring thee down into our world. The most wicked sinner, upon touching thy water, goes to heaven in his body; thy water is spotless; to drink it is very meritorious; Brahma and Vishnu cannot describe its virtues. Placing thee on his head, Shiva regards himself as blessed; who can describe such greatness? Rice, or vegetables, or any other food, cooked with thy water, are things which the gods themselves long after. Such food is like Ambrosia. In the Vedas, Vyasa says that he who eats it, need not fear Yama (Death.) The name of thy junction with the sea is the source of supreme bliss itself; Brahma and Vishnu cannot describe it. The low Sudra, or Sanyasi, on dying, goes to heaven, if he has bathed there, when the sun enters Capricorn. By pronouncing thy name, he obtains admittance to the house of Vishnu; he is spared the sight of Yama's city. When life has fled from the corpse, the father, the mother, the child, and the wife, drag it to the place of cremation. The wife and the child abhor it; they bathe and go away; but thou at that time foldest it to thy bosom. Whilst their means last, affectionate friends and relatives weep for the dead a day or two. In that day of trouble, no friend remains, but thou alone. The lifeless corpse, fed upon by crows and jackals, floats till it reaches thy banks; when hundreds of heavenly courtezans, with fans in their hands, come to attend upon it. Near thee I will abide, even if I should become a lizard, or a crab, or the leanest puppy. Dwelling in a land, where there is no Gunga, the master of a million of elephants is miserable. Worms, and insects, and men, and a thousand other creatures, are all treated alike by thee. The most wicked of sinners, if he but touch thy water, enjoys thy favour in the last extremi ty. How can I adequately describe the majesty of Gunga? It is fully pourtrayed in the Puranas. Singing thy praises, I, Chakrabarti Kabikankan, pray thee to give me faith in Gobinda (Vishnu,) &c.

These are the sentiments systematically instilled into the minds of thousands of children, as soon as they have managed to learn their alphabet. They are at once initiated into the daily rites of their religion, taught to despise the countries lying at a distance from the Ganges, directed to the waters of that river as the means of washing away the foulest crimes,

and familiarized with that perversion of judgment, which looks with admiration on the disgusting spectacle, so offensive to all the feelings of humanity, which meets the eye of the traveller on the river, almost at every step he advances.

Among all the popular Bengali books, the Annadá Mangal, is the one most entitled to a prominent notice, for various reasons. It probably is the greatest favourite with the middle and upper classes, especially with the fair sex; and may be regarded, upon the whole, as a more creditable specimen of elegant literature, than any other work of genuine Bengali origin. As the complete collection of its various parts is somewhat large, the high price is an impediment to its circulation. It is, in some respects, an interesting production. The author, Bhárata Chandra Ráy, appears to have been the poet laureate of the celebrated Raja Krishna Chandra Ráy of Nadiya, the Augustus of his age, who lived about a century ago. Not many years after the great inundation of 1739, and the devastation of Bengal by the Mahratta hordes under Bháskar Pandit, the Raja, on some particular occasion, made a great feast, somewhat similar, in its pretensions, to that of Ahasuerus, which is described at the commencement of the book of Esther. For the entertainment of the illustrious guests assembled in his palace, poetical performances were got up, accompanied with music, which evi-: dently were an equivalent to our modern theatricals. Bhárat Chandra appears to have been a votary of Durgá, to whom, in the work under consideration, he gave the epithet of Annadá, "the giver of food," alluding to the distress and famine, from which the country had lately been delivered, in his opinion, through the favour of that goddess. The term Mangal, "wel fare," is another of her titles. She encouraged him in a vision to undertake the task imposed upon him, and by her inspiration enabled him to acquit himself in a creditable manner. His verses were recited or sung, in successive portions, every morning and evening for a whole week, probably in accordance with a preconcerted plan. It is possible that he found it somewhat difficult to fill up the whole of this measure: at all events the work consists of several distinct portions, the only connecting link between which is the constant endeavour to magnify his favourite deity.

Bharat Chandra appears to have been possessed of a true poetical genius. His work contains poetry of almost all kinds, and in all metres; and some of the pieces are really beautiful: Nothing can be more pleasing than the cadence of certain of his verses; and he displays a wonderful mastery of all the resources of the language. In the narrative parts, however, he


introduces a very large number of Hindustani words; and many of his Bengali terms have ceased to be intelligible.

The copy before us consists of two volumes,* the first of which contains various mythological tales, taken from the history of Shiva and Durgá, including also a quarrel, which the celebrated Vyasa had with the former, upon being refused a dwelling-place at Káshi. The stories are those most widely circulated in Bengal, with which every native is acquainted from the nursery. To give an idea of the genius of our author, we subjoin two specimens from this part of his work. The first is an Invocation of the Sun, to which it is impossible to do justice in English prose. It will be seen that one passage in it bears some resemblance to a part of the 19th Psalm :—


Hail, source of light, remove my darkness! Giver of the day, have mercy. The four Vedas proclaim that thou art the resplendent divinity; the god most excellent. Giver of the day, look upon the distressed. Thy glory, according to the Vedas, knows no limits. Forgive the sins of the sufferer. The cause of the universe, the eye of the universe, the life of the universe, art thou ;-all divine, the refuge of all divinities, of heaven, hell, and earth. On thy one-wheeled chariot thou drivest on the road of heaven, from the eastern mountain to the western, accomplishing the race in a single day. Who can describe thy strength? Thy burning rays consume the hills, and dry up the waters of the ocean. How sweetly the lotus smiles, when gladdened by thee! Who can comprehend thy essence? Lord of the twelve signs, and of all the planets; blessed are thy spouses Sangya and Chháyá (Shadow). Shani, Yama, and Manu are thy sons, and Yamuna thy daughter. Preserver of the universe; purifier of the universe; whence thy name Savita (purifier), thou art the essence of the universe. Convey me safely into eternity; I ask it with a million of salutations. Enthroned for ever on the red lotus, thou ocean of boundless virtue, the giver of security, endowed with three eyes, thy head adorned with a costly ruby,-the remembrance of thee banishes sin; be gracious to this company. Regard in thy own way king Krishna Chandra, in answer to the praises of Bharat Chandra.

The other piece is a hymn, which is equally beautiful in the original with the foregoing:


The Supreme has turned against me. When the Supreme is a man's opponent, what avails his ability?

My misery is most distressing. In all my devotions, my intention is good, but my performance evil. I have fallen into a state of infatuation.

This edition is very neatly and correctly printed, on good paper. It was got up at the "Sanscrit Press," and professes to have been critically edited, which we doubt. At all events, some of its readings are widely different from those of older editions. As this book is by far the best specimen extant of Bengali poetry, it would not be amiss to have a really good critical edition of it.

The common bazar editions, which contain only Bidya and Sundar, are wretched specimens of typography; some of them, however, are adorned with wood-cuts-one of which represents Sundar in the costume of Young Bengal!

I know that religion leads to happiness; yet my heart dislikes it. I have a great dread of wickedness; yet it pleases me.

My wife and child-these vain things-please me; vain delights delight He, who rests in self-seeking, is plunged in distress.


The will of God alone is truth; all else is vanity. This Bhárata has found, through the favour of his teacher.

Let not the Christian reader be deceived by the phraseology here used. It is not a true index of the author's real feelings, but mere talk, put into the mouth of some other person. What we call the domestic virtues, such as attachment to one's wife and children, are here branded as the most glaring sin; and religion is made to consist in an unfeeling state of metaphysical contemplation.

The most interesting portion of the Annadá Mangal is a tale, called Bidya and Sundar, a young couple, of whose adventures Mánsingha is stated to have heard at Burdwan, when on his way to Jessore, where he had to put down the rebellious Raja Pratápáditya-an exploit which forms the subject of one of the subsequent short pieces.

Bidya and Sundar is the title of a poem, which might appropriately have been put into the form of a play, and which actually does bear some resemblance to the text of a modern Italian opera. We cannot tell how far the similarity extends, as regards the musical accompaniment. It is this composition, which is the great favourite of Hindu ladies. The outline of the plot is as follows:

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There lived at Burdwan a king, named Birasingha, whose beautiful daughter Bidya (Learning) was allowed to choose her own husband. Having received a very superior education, she declared she would belong only to him, who should surpass her in learning. This condition being proclaimed, and invitations sent out, many princes came to woo the proud maiden, but were all unsuccessful. One of her father's messengers, however, having gone to the court of Kanchi (Conjeveram) in the Deccan, the prince royal, whose name was Sundar (Handsome), determined to try his fortune. In an incredibly short time he proceeded to Burdwan with a large train of horses, &c. of which, however, he was eased on his arrival by the guard, who, in the true native style, threatened to imprison him, if all was not surrendered. Having given himself the name of a "Follower of Learning," he was allowed to keep only his satchel, his books, and a favourite parrot, with some money. After strolling about the city and viewing its wonders, he found his way to a tank, where, sitting under the shade of a tree, he fell asleep. The women, who came to bathe and draw water there, were thrown into a delirium of ecstacy at the sight of this

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