HANDBOOK OF UNIVERSAL LITERATURE FROM THE BEST AND LATEST AUTHORITIES
BY ANNE C. LYNCH BOTTA
PREFATORY NOTE TO THE REVISED EDITION.
Since the first publication of this work in 1860, many new names have appeared in modern literature. Japan, hitherto almost unknown to Europeans, has taken her place among the nations with a literature of her own, and the researches and discoveries of scholars in various parts of the world have thrown much light on the literatures of antiquity. To keep pace with this advance, a new edition of the work has been called for. Prefixed is a very brief summary of an important and exhaustive History of the Alphabet recently published.
This work was begun many years ago, as a literary exercise, to meet the personal requirements of the writer, which were such as most persons experience on leaving school and "completing their education," as the phrase is. The world of literature lies before them, but where to begin, what course of study to pursue, in order best to comprehend it, are the problems which present themselves to the bewildered questioner, who finds himself in a position not unlike that of a traveler suddenly set down in an unknown country, without guide-book or map. The most natural course under such circumstances would be to begin at the beginning, and take a rapid survey of the entire field of literature, arriving at its details through this general view. But as this could be accomplished only by subjecting each individual to a severe and protracted course of systematic study, the idea was conceived of obviating this necessity to some extent by embodying the results of such a course in the form of the following work, which, after being long laid aside, is now at length completed.
In conformity with this design, standard books have been condensed, with no alterations except such as were required to give unity to the whole work; and in some instances a few additions have been made. Where standard works have not been found, the sketches have been made from the best sources of information, and submitted to the criticism of able scholars.
The literatures of different nations are so related, and have so influenced each other, that it is only by a survey of all that any single literature, or even any great literary work, can be fully comprehended, as the various groups and figures of a historical picture must be viewed as a whole, before they can assume their true place and proportions.
LIST OF AUTHORITIES
THE ALPHABET. 1. The Origin of Letters.—2. The Phoenician Alphabet and Inscriptions.— 3. The Greek Alphabet. Its Three Epochs.—4. The Mediaeval Scripts. The Irish. The Anglo-Saxon. The Roman. The Gothic. The Runic. CLASSIFICATION OF LANGUAGES
1. Chinese Literature.—2. The Language.—3. The Writing.—4. The Five Classics and Four Books.—5. Chinese Religion and Philosophy. Lao-tse. Confucius. Meng-tse or Mencius.—6. Buddhism.—7. Social Constitution of China.—8. Invention of Printing.—9. Science, History, and Geography. Encyclopaedias.—10. Poetry.—11. Dramatic Literature and Fiction.—12. Education in China.
1. The Language.—2. The Religion.—3. The Literature. Influence of Women.—4. History.—5. The Drama and Poetry.—6. Geography. Newspapers. Novels. Medical Science.—7. Position of Woman.
1. The Language.—2. The Social Constitution of India. Brahmanism.—3. Characteristics of the Literature and its Divisions.—4. The Vedas and other Sacred Books.—5. Sanskrit Poetry; Epic; the Ramayana and Mahabharata. Lyric Poetry. Didactic Poetry; the Hitopadesa. Dramatic Poetry.—6. History and Science.—7. Philosophy.—8. Buddhism.—9. Moral Philosophy. The Code of Manu.—10. Modern Literatures of India.—11. Education. The Brahmo Somaj.
BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN LITERATURE.
1. The Accadians and Babylonians.—2. The Cuneiform Letters.—3. Babylonian and Assyrian Remains.
The Language.—The Remains.
The Language.—Influence of the Literature in the Eighth and Ninth Century.
1. The Persian Language and its Divisions.—2. Zendic Literature; the Zendavesta.—3. Pehlvi and Parsee Literatures.—4. The Ancient Religion of Persia; Zoroaster.—5. Modern Literature.—6. The Sufis.—7. Persian Poetry.—8. Persian Poets; Ferdusi; Eesedi of Tus; Togray, etc.—9. History and Philosophy.—10. Education in Persia.
1. Hebrew Literature; its Divisions.—2. The Language; its Alphabet; its Structure; Peculiarities, Formation, and Phases.—3. The Old Testament.— 4. Hebrew Education.—5. Fundamental Idea of Hebrew Literature.—6. Hebrew Poetry.—7. Lyric Poetry; Songs; the Psalms; the Prophets.—8. Pastoral Poetry and Didactic Poetry; the Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.—9. Epic and Dramatic Poetry; the Book of Job.—10. Hebrew History; the Pentateuch and other Historical Books.—11. Hebrew Philosophy.—12. Restoration of the Sacred Books.—13. Manuscripts and Translations.—14. Rabbinical Literature.—15. The New Revision of the Bible, and the New Biblical Manuscript.
1. The Language.—2. The Writing.—3. The Literature.—4. The Monuments.— 5. The Discovery of Champollion.—6. Literary Remains; Historical; Religious; Epistolary; Fictitious; Scientific; Epic; Satirical and Judicial.—7. The Alexandrian Period.—8. The Literary Condition of Modern Egypt.
INTRODUCTION.—1. Greek Literature and its Divisions.—2. The Language.— 3. The Religion.
PERIOD FIRST.—1. Ante-Homeric Songs and Bards.—2. Poems of Homer; the Iliad; the Odyssey.—3. The Cyclic Poets and the Homeric Hymns.—4. Poems of Hesiod; the Works and Days; the Theogony.—5. Elegy and Epigram; Tyrtaeus; Achilochus; Simanides.—6. Iambic Poetry, the Fable, and Parody; Aesop.—7. Greek Music and Lyric Poetry; Terpander.—8. Aeolic Lyric Poets; Alcaeus; Sappho; Anacreon.—9. Doric, or Choral Lyric Poets; Alcman; Stesichorus; Pindar.—10. The Orphic Doctrines and Poems.—11. Pre-Socratic Philosophy; Ionian, Eleatic, Pythagorean Schools.—12. History; Herodotus.
PERIOD SECOND.—1. Literary Predominance of Athens.—2. Greek Drama.—3. Tragedy.—4. The Tragic Poets; Aeschylus; Sophocles; Euripides.—5. Comedy; Aristophanes; Menander.—6. Oratory, Rhetoric, and History; Pericles; the Sophists; Lysias; Isocrates; Demosthenes; Thucydides; Xenophon.—7. Socrates and the Socratic Schools; Plato; Aristotle.
PERIOD THIRD.—1. Origin of the Alexandrian Literature.—2. The Alexandrian Poets; Philetas; Callimachus; Theocritus; Bion; Moschus.—3. The Prose Writers of Alexandria; Zenodotus; Aristophanes; Aristarchus; Eratosthenes; Euclid; Archimedes.—4, Philosophy of Alexandria; Neo- Platonism.—5. Anti-Neo-Platonic Tendencies; Epictetus; Lucian; Longinus. —6. Greek Literature in Rome; Dionysius of Halicarnassus; Flavius Josephus; Polybius; Diodorus; Strabo; Plutarch.—7. Continued Decline of Greek Literature.—8. Last Echoes of the Old Literature; Hypatia; Nonnus; Musaeus; Byzantine Literature.—9. The New Testament and the Greek Fathers. Modern Literature; the Brothers Santsos and Alexander Rangabe.
INTRODUCTION.—1. Roman Literature and its Divisions.—2. The Language; Ethnographical Elements of the Latin Language; the Umbrian; Oscan; Etruscan; the Old Roman Tongue; Saturnian Verse; Peculiarities of the Latin Language.—3. The Roman Religion.
PERIOD FIRST.—1. Early Literature of the Romans; the Fescennine Songs; the Fabulae Atellanae.—2. Early Latin Poets; Livius Andronicus, Naevius, and Ennius.—3. Roman Comedy.—4. Comic Poets; Plautus, Terence, and Statius.—5. Roman Tragedy.—6. Tragic Poets; Pacuvius and Attius.—7. Satire; Lucilius.—8. History and Oratory; Fabius Pictor; Cencius Alimentus; Cato; Varro; M. Antonius; Crassus; Hortensius.—9. Roman Jurisprudence.—10. Grammarians.
PERIOD SECOND.—1. Development of the Roman Literature.—2. Mimes, Mimographers, Pantomime; Laberius and P. Lyrus.—3. Epic Poetry; Virgil; the Aeneid.—4. Didactic Poetry; the Bucolics; the Georgics; Lucretius. —5. Lyric Poetry; Catullus; Horace.—6. Elegy; Tibullus; Propertius; Ovid.—7. Oratory and Philosophy; Cicero.—8. History; J. Caesar; Sallust; Livy.—9. Other Prose Writers.
PERIOD THIRD.—1. Decline of Roman Literature.—2. Fable; Phaedrus.—3. Satire and Epigram; Persius, Juvenal, Martial.—4. Dramatic Literature; the Tragedies of Seneca.—5. Epic Poetry; Lucan; Silius Italicus; Valerius Flaccus; P. Statius.—6. History; Paterculus; Tacitus; Suetonius; Q. Curtius; Valerius Maximus.—7. Rhetoric and Eloquence; Quintilian; Pliny the Younger.—8. Philosophy and Science; Seneca; Pliny the Elder; Celsus; P. Mela; Columella; Frontinus.—9. Roman Literature from Hadrian to Theodoric; Claudian; Eutropius; A. Marcellinus; S. Sulpicius; Gellius; Macrobius; L. Apuleius; Boethius: the Latin Fathers.—10. Roman Jurisprudence.
1. European Literature in the Dark Ages.—2. The Arabian Language.—3. Arabian Mythology and the Koran.—4. Historical Development of Arabian Literature.—5. Grammar and Rhetoric.—6. Poetry.—7. The Arabian Tales. —8. History and Science.—9. Education.
INTRODUCTION.—1. Italian Literature and its Divisions.—2. The Dialects. —3. The Italian Language.
PERIOD FIRST.—1. Latin Influence.—2. Early Italian Poetry and Prose. —3. Dante—4. Petrarch.—5. Boccaccio and other Prose Writers.—6. First Decline of Italian Literature.
PERIOD SECOND.—1. The Close of the Fifteenth Century; Lorenzo de' Medici.—2. The Origin of the Drama and Romantic Epic; Poliziano, Pulci, Boiardo.—3. Romantic Epic Poetry; Ariosto.—4. Heroic Epic Poetry; Tasso.—5. Lyric Poetry; Bembo, Molza, Tarsia, V. Colonna.—6. Dramatic Poetry; Trissino, Rucellai; the Writers of Comedy.—7. Pastoral Drama and Didactic Poetry; Beccari, Sannazzaro, Tasso, Guarini, Rucellai, Alamanni. —8. Satirical Poetry, Novels, and Tales; Berni, Grazzini, Firenzuola, Bandello, and others.—9. History; Machiavelli, Guicciardini, Nardi, and others.—10. Grammar and Rhetoric; the Academy della Crusca, Della Casa, Speroni, and others.—11. Science, Philosophy, and Politics; the Academy del Cimento, Galileo, Torricelli, Borelli, Patrizi, Telesio, Campanella, Bruno, Castiglione, Machiavelli, and others.—12. Decline of the Literature in the Seventeenth Century.—13. Epic and Lyric Poetry; Marini, Filicaja.—14. Mock Heroic Poetry, the Drama, and Satire; Tassoni, Bracciolini, Anderini, and others.—15. History and Epistolary Writings; Davila, Bentivoglio, Sarpi, Redi.
PERIOD THIRD.—1. Historical Development of the Third Period.—2. The Melodrama; Rinuccini, Zeno, Metastasio.—3. Comedy; Goldoni, C. Gozzi, and others.—4. Tragedy; Maffei, Alfieri, Monti, Manzoni, Nicolini, and others.—5. Lyric, Epic, and Didactic Poetry; Parini, Monti, Ugo Foscolo, Leopardi, Grossi, Lorenzi, and others.—6. Heroic-Comic Poetry, Satire, and Fable; Fortiguerri, Passeroni, G. Gozzi, Parini, Ginsti, and others. —7. Romances; Verri, Manzoni, D'Azeglio, Cantu, Guerrazzi, and others. —8. History; Muratori, Vico, Giannone, Botta, Colletta, Tiraboschi, and others.—9. Aesthetics, Criticism, Philology, and Philosophy; Baretti, Parini, Giordani, Gioja, Romagnosi, Gallupi, Roemini, Gioberti.—From 1860 to 1885.
INTRODUCTION.—1. French Literature and its Divisions.—2. The Language
PERIOD FIRST.—1. The Troubadours.—2. The Trouveres.—3. French Literature in the Fifteenth Century.—4. The Mysteries and Moralities: Charles of Orleans, Villon, Ville-Hardouin, Joinville, Froissart, Philippe de Commines.
PERIOD SECOND.—1. The Renaissance and the Reformation: Marguerite de Valois, Marot, Rabelais, Calvin, Montaigne, Charron, and others.—2. Light Literature: Ronsard, Jodelle, Hardy, Malherbe, Scarron, Madame de Rambouillet, and others.—3. The French Academy.—4. The Drama: Corneille.—5. Philosophy: Descartes, Pascal; Port Royal.—6. The Rise of the Golden Age of French Literature: Louis XIV.—7. Tragedy: Racine.—8. Comedy: Moliere.—9. Fables, Satires, Mock-Heroic, and other Poetry: La Fontaine, Boileau.—10. Eloquence of the Pulpit and of the Bar: Bourdaloue, Bossuet, Massillon, Flechier, Le Maitre, D'Aguesseau, and others.—11. Moral Philosophy: Rochefoucault, La Bruyere, Nicole.—12. History and Memoirs: Mezeray, Fleury, Rollia, Brantome, the Duke of Sully, Cardinal de Retz.—13. Romance and Letter Writing: Fenelon, Madame de Sevigne.—257
PERIOD THIRD.—1. The Dawn of Skepticism: Bayle, J. B. Rousseau, Fontenelle, Lamotte.—2. Progress of Skepticism: Montesquieu, Voltaire. —3. French Literature during the Revolution: D'Holbach, D'Alembert, Diderot, J. J. Rousseau, Buffon, Beaumarchais, St. Pierre, and others. —4. French Literature under the Empire: Madame de Stael, Chateaubriand, Royer-Collard, Ronald, De Maistre.—5. French Literature from the Age of the Restoration to the Present Time. History: Thierry, Sismondi, Thiers, Mignet, Martin, Michelet, and others. Poetry and the Drama; Rise of the Romantic School: Beranger, Lamartine, Victor Hugo, and others; Les Parnassiens. Fiction: Hugo, Gautier, Dumas, Merimee, Balzac, Sand, Sandeau, and others. Criticism: Sainte-Beuve, Taine, and others. Miscellaneous.
INTRODUCTION.—1. Spanish Literature and its Divisions.—2. The Language.
PERIOD FIRST.—1. Early National Literature; the Poem of the Cid; Berceo, Alfonso the Wise, Segura; Don Juan Manuel, the Archpriest of Hita, Santob, Ayala.—2. Old Ballads.—3. The Chronicles.-4. Romances of Chivalry.—5. The Drama.—6. Provencal Literature in Spain.—7. The Influence of Italian Literature in Spain.—8. The Cancioneros and Prose Writing.—9. The Inquisition.
PERIOD SECOND.—1. The Effect of Intolerance on Letters.—2. Influence of Italy on Spanish Literature; Boscan, Garcilasso de la Vega, Diego de Mendoza.—3. History; Cortez, Gomara, Oviedo, Las Casas.—4. The Drama, Rueda, Lope de Vega, Calderon de la Barca.—5. Romances and Tales; Cervantes, and other Writers of Fiction.—6. Historical Narrative Poems; Ercilla.—7. Lyric Poetry; the Argensolas; Luis de Leon, Quevedo, Herrera, Gongora, and others.—8. Satirical and other Poetry.—9. History and other Prose Writing; Zurita, Mariana, Sandoval, and others.
PERIOD THIRD.—1. French Influence on the Literature of Spain.—2. The Dawn of Spanish Literature in the Eighteenth Century; Feyjoo, Isla, Moratin the elder, Yriarte, Melendez, Gonzalez, Quintana, Moratin the younger.—3. Spanish Literature in the Nineteenth Century.
1. The Portuguese Language.—2. Early Literature of Portugal.—3. Poets of the Fifteenth Century; Macias, Ribeyro.—4. Introduction of the Italian Style; Saa de Miranda, Montemayor, Ferreira.—5. Epic Poetry; Camoens; the Lusiad.—6. Dramatic Poetry; Gil Vicente.—7. Prose Writing; Rodriguez Lobo, Barros, Brito, Veira.—8. Portuguese Literature in the Seventeenth, Eighteenth, and Nineteenth Centuries; Antonio Jose, Manuel do Nascimento, Manuel de Bocage.
1. The Finnish Language and Literature: Poetry; the Kalevala; Loennrot; Korhonen.—2. The Hungarian Language and Literature: the Age of Stephen I.; Influence of the House of Anjou; of the Reformation; of the House of Austria; Kossuth; Josika; Eoetvoes; Kuthy; Szigligeti; Petoefi.
The Slavic Race and Languages; the Eastern and Western Stems; the Alphabets; the Old or Church Slavic Language; St. Cyril's Bible; the Pravda Russkaya; the Annals of Nestor.
1. The Language.—2. Literature in the Reign of Peter the Great; of Alexander; of Nicholas; Danilof, Lomonosof, Kheraskof, Derzhavin, Karamzin.—3. History, Poetry, the Drama: Kostrof, Dmitrief, Zhukoffski, Krylof, Pushkin, Lermontoff, Gogol.—4. Literature in Russia since the Crimean War: School of Nature; Turguenieff; Ultra-realistic School: Science; Mendeleeff.
THE SERVIAN LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE
THE BOHEMIAN LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE.
John Huss, Jerome of Prague, Tycho Brahe, Kepler, Comenius, and others.
THE POLISH LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE.
Rey, Bielski, Copernicus, Czartoryski, Niemcewicz, Mickiewicz, and others.
1. The Language.—2. Dutch Literature to the Sixteenth Century: Maerlant; Melis Stoke; De Weert; the Chambers of Rhetoric; the Flemish Chroniclers; the Rise of the Dutch Republic.—3. The Latin Writers: Erasmus; Grotius; Arminius; Lipsius; the Scaligers, and others; Salmasius; Spinoza; Boerhaave; Johannes Secundus.—4. Dutch Writers of the Sixteenth Century: Anna Byns; Coornhert; Marnix de St. Aldegonde; Bor, Visscher, and Spieghel.—5. Writers of the Seventeenth Century: Hooft; Vondel; Cats; Antonides; Brandt, and others; Decline in Dutch Literature.—6. The Eighteenth Century: Poot; Langendijk; Hoogvliet; De Marre; Feitama; Huydecoper; the Van Harens; Smits; Ten Kate; Van Winter; Van Merken; De Lannoy; Van Alphen; Bellamy; Nieuwland, Styl, and others.—7. The Nineteenth Century: Feith; Helmers; Bilderdyk; Van der Palm; Loosjes; Loots, Tollens, Van Kampen, De s'Gravenweert, Hoevill, and others.
1. Introduction. The Ancient Scandinavians; their Influence on the English Race.—2. The Mythology.—3. The Scandinavian Languages.—4. Icelandic, or Old Norse Literature: the Poetic Edda, the Prose Edda, the Scalds, the Sagas, the "Heimskringla." The Folks-Sagas and Ballads of the Middle Ages.—5. Danish Literature: Saxo Grammaticus and Theodoric; Arreboe, Kingo, Tycho Brahe, Holberg, Evald, Baggesen, Oehlenschlaeger, Grundtvig, Blicher, Ingemann, Heiberg, Gyllenbourg, Winther, Hertz, Mueller, Hans Andersen, Plong, Goldschmidt, Hastrup, and others; Malte Brun, Rask, Rafn, Magnusen, the brothers Oersted.—6. Swedish Literature: Messenius, Stjernhjelm, Lucidor, and others. The Gallic period: Dalin, Nordenflycht, Crutz and Gyllenborg, Gustavus III., Kellgren, Leopold, Oxenstjerna. The New Era: Bellman, Hallman, Kexel, Wallenberg, Lidner, Thorild, Lengren, Franzen, Wallin. The Phosphorists: Atterbom, Hammarskoeld, and Palmblad. The Gothic School: Geijer, Tegner, Stagnelius, Almquist, Vitalis, Runeberg, and others. The Romance Writers: Cederborg, Bremer, Carlen, Knorring. Science: Swedenborg, Linnaeus, and others.
INTRODUCTION.—1. German Literature and its Divisions.—2. The Mythology. —3. The Language.
PERIOD FIRST—1. Early Literature; Translation of the Bible by Ulphilas; the Hildebrand Lied.—2. The Age of Charlemagne; his Successors; the Ludwig's Lied; Roswitha; the Lombard Cycle.—3. The Suabian Age; the Crusades; the Minnesingers; the Romances of Chivalry; the Heldenbuch; the Nibelungen Lied.—4. The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries; the Mastersingers; Satires and Fables; Mysteries and Dramatic Representations; the Mystics; the Universities; the Invention of Printing.
PERIOD SECOND.—From 1517 to 1700.—1. The Lutheran Period: Luther, Melanchthon.—2. Manuel, Zwingle, Fischart, Franck, Arnd, Boehm.—3. Poetry, Satire, and Demonology; Paracelsus and Agrippa; the Thirty Years' War.—4. The Seventeenth Century: Opitz, Leibnitz, Puffendorf, Kepler, Wolf, Thomasius, Gerhard; Silesian Schools; Hoffmannswaldau, Lohenstein.
PERIOD THIRD.—1. The Swiss and Saxon Schools; Gottsched, Bodmer, Rabener, Gellert, Kaestner, and others.—2. Klopstock, Lessing, Wieland, and Herder. —3. Goethe and Schiller.—4. The Goettingen School: Voss, Stolberg, Claudius, Buerger, and others.—5. The Romantic School: the Schlegels, Novalis; Tieck, Koerner, Arndt, Uhland, Heine, and others.—6. The Drama: Goethe and Schiller; the Power Men; Muellner, Werner, Howald, and Grillparzer.—7. Philosophy: Kant, Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, Schopenhauer, and Hartmann. Science: Liebig, Du Bois-Raymond, Virchow, Helmholst, Haeckel.—8. Miscellaneous Writings.
INTRODUCTION.—1. English Literature. Its Divisions.—2. The Language.
PERIOD FIRST.—1. Celtic Literature, Irish, Scotch, and Cymric Celts; the Chronicles of Ireland; Ossian's Poems; Traditions of Arthur; the Triads; Tales.—2. Latin Literature, Bede; Alcuin; Erigena.—3. Anglo- Saxon Literature. Poetry; Prose; Versions of Scripture; the Saxon Chronicle; Alfred.
PERIOD SECOND.—The Norman Age and the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries.—1. Literature in the Latin Tongue.—2. Literature in Norman-French. Poetry; Romances of Chivalry.—3. Saxon-English. Metrical Remains.—4. Literature in the fourteenth Century.—Prose Writers: Occam, Duns Scotus, Wickliffe, Mandeville, Chaucer. Poetry; Langland, Gower, Chaucer.—5. Literature in the Fifteenth Century. Ballads.—6. Poets of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries in Scotland. Wyntoun, Harbour, and others.
PERIOD THIRD.—1. Age of the Reformation (1509-1558). Classical, Theological, and Miscellaneous Literature: Sir Thomas More and others. Poetry: Skelton, Surrey, and Sackville; the Drama.—2. The Age of Spenser, Shakespeare, Bacon, and Milton (1558-1660). Scholastic and Ecclesiastical Literature. Translations of the Bible: Hooker, Andrews, Donne. Hall, Taylor, Baxter; other Prose Writers: Fuller, Cudworth, Bacon, Hobbes, Raleigh, Milton, Sidney, Selden, Burton, Browne, and Cowley. Dramatic Poetry: Marlowe and Greene, Shakspeare, Beaumont and Fletcher, Ben Jonson, and others; Massinger, Ford, and Shirley; Decline of the Drama. Non-dramatic Poetry: Spenser and the Minor Poets. Lyrical Poets: Donne, Cowley, Denham, Waller, Milton.—3. The Age of the Restoration and Revolution (1660-1702). Prose: Leighton, Tillotson, Barrow, Bunyan, Locke, and others. The Drama: Dryden, Otway. Comedy: Didactic Poetry: Roscommon, Marvell, Butler, Pryor, Dryden.—4. The Eighteenth Century. The First Generation (1702-1727): Pope, Swift, and others; the Periodical Essayists: Addison, Steele. The Second Generation (1727- 1760); Theology: Warburton, Butler, Watts, Doddridge. Philosophy: Hume. Miscellaneous Prose: Johnson; the Novelists: Richardson, Fielding, Smollett, and Sterne. The Drama; Non-dramatic Poetry: Young, Blair, Akenside, Thomson, Gray, and Collins. The Third Generation (1760-1800); the Historians: Hume, Robertson, and Gibbon. Miscellaneous Prose: Johnson, Goldsmith, "Junius," Pitt, Fox, Sheridan, and Burke, Criticism: Burke, Reynolds, Campbell, Kames. Political Economy: Adam Smith. Ethics: Paley, Smith, Tucker. Metaphysics: Reid. Theological and Religious Writers: Campbell, Paley, Watson, Newton, Hannah More, and Wilberforce. Poetry: Comedies of Goldsmith and Sheridan; Minor Poets; Later Poems; Beattie's Minstrel; Cowper and Burns. 5. The Nineteenth Century. The Poets: Campbell, Southey, Scott, Byron; Coleridge and Wordsworth; Wilson, Shelley, Keats; Crabbe, Moore, and others; Tennyson, Browning, Procter, and others. Fiction: the Waverley and other Novels; Dickens, Thackeray, and others. History: Arnold, Thirlwall, Grote, Macaulay, Alison, Carlyle, Freeman, Buckle. Criticism: Hallam, De Quincey, Macaulay, Carlyle, Wilson, Lamb, and others. Theology: Poster, Hall, Chalmers. Philosophy: Stewart, Brown, Mackintosh, Bentham, Alison, and others. Political Economy: Mill, Whewell, Whately, De Morgan, Hamilton. Periodical Writings: the Edinburgh, Quarterly, and Westminster Reviews, and Blackwood's Magazine. Physical Science: Brewster, Herschel, Playfair, Miller, Buckland, Whewell.—Since 1860. I. Poets: Matthew Arnold, Algernon Swinburne, Dante Rossetti, Robert Buchanan, Edwin Arnold, "Owen Meredith," William Morris, Jean Ingelow, Adelaide Procter, Christina Rossetti, Augusta Webster, Mary Robinson, and others. 2. Fiction: "George Eliot," McDonald, Collins, Black, Blackmore, Mrs. Oliphant, Yates, McCarthy, Trollope, and others. 3. Scientific Writers: Herbert Spencer, Charles Darwin, Tyndall, Huxley, and others. 4. Miscellaneous.
THE COLONIAL PERIOD.—1. The Seventeenth Century. George Sandys; The Bay Psalm Book; Anne Bradstreet, John Eliot, and Cotton Mather.—2. From 1700 to 1770. Jonathan Edwards, Benjamin Franklin, Cadwallader Colden.
FIRST AMERICAN PERIOD, FROM 1771 TO 1820.—1. Statesmen and Political Writers: Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton; The Federalist; Jay, Madison, Marshall, Fisher Ames, and others.—2. The Poets: Freneau, Trumbull, Hopkinson, Barlow, Clifton, and Dwight.—3. Writers in other Departments: Bellamy, Hopkins, Dwight, and Bishop White. Rush, McClurg, Lindley Murray, Charles Brockden Brown. Ramsay, Graydon. Count Rumford, Wirt, Ledyard, Pinkney, and Pike.
SECOND AMERICAN PERIOD, FROM 1820 TO 1860.—1. History, Biography, and Travels: Bancroft, Prescott, Motley, Godwin, Ticknor, Schoolcraft, Hildreth, Sparks, Irving, Headley, Stephens, Kane, Squier, Perry, Lynch, Taylor, and others.—2. Oratory: Webster, Clay, Calhoun, Benton, Everett, and others.—3. Fiction: Cooper, Irving, Willis, Hawthorne, Poe, Simms, Mrs. Stowe, and others.—4. Poetry: Bryant, Dana, Halleck, Longfellow, Willis, Lowell, Allston, Hillhouse, Drake, Whittier, Hoffman, and others. —5. The Transcendental Movement in New England.—6. Miscellaneous Writings: Whipple, Tuckerman, Curtis, Brigge, Prentice, and others.—7. Encyclopaedias, Dictionaries, and Educational Books. The Encyclopaedia Americana. The New American Cyclopaedia. Allibone, Griswold, Duyckinck, Webster, Worcester, Anthon, Felton, Barnard, and others.—8. Theology, Philosophy, Economy, and Jurisprudence: Stuart, Robinson, Wayland, Barnes, Channing, Parker. Tappan, Henry, Hickok, Haven. Carey, Kent, Wheaton, Story, Livingston, Lawrence, Bouvier.—9. Natural Sciences: Franklin, Morse, Fulton, Silliman, Dana, Hitchcock, Rogers, Bowditch, Peirce, Bache, Holbrook, Audubon, Morton, Gliddon, Maury, and others.—10. Foreign Writers: Paine, Witherspoon, Rowson, Priestley, Wilson, Agassiz, Guyot, Mrs. Robinson, Gurowski, and others.—11. Newspapers and Periodicals. —12. Since 1860.
LIST OF AUTHORITIES.
The following works are the sources from which this book is wholly or chiefly derived:—
Taylor's History of the Alphabet; Dwight's Philology; Herder's Spirit of Hebrew Poetry; Lowth's Hebrew Poetry; Asiatic Researches; the works of Gesenius, De Wette, Ewald, Colebrooke, Sir William Jones, Wilson, Ward; Schlegel's Hindu Language and Literature; Max Mueller's History of Sanskrit Literature; and What India has taught us; Malcolm's History of Persia; Richardson on the Language of Eastern Nations; Adelung's Mithridates; Chodzko's Specimens of the Popular Poetry of Persia; Costello's Rose Garden of Persia; Remusat's Memoire sur l'Ecriture Chinoise; Davis on the Poetry of the Chinese; Williams's Middle Kingdom; The Mikado's Empire; Rein's Travels in Japan; Duhalde's Description de la Chine; Champollion's Letters; Wilkinson's Extracts from Hieroglyphical Subjects; the works of Bunsen, Mueller, and Lane; Mueller's History of the Literature of Ancient Greece, continued by Donaldson; Browne's History of Roman Classical Literature; Fiske's Manual of Classical Literature; Sismondi's Literature of the South of Europe; Goodrich's Universal History; Sanford's Rise and Progress of Literature; Schlegel's Lectures on the History of Literature; Schlegel's History of Dramatic Art; Tiraboschi's History of Italian Literature; Maffei, Corniani, and Ugoni on the same subject; Chambers's Handbooks of Italian and German Literature; Vilmar's History of German Literature; Foster's Handbook of French Literature; Nisard's Histoire de la Litterature Francaise; Demogeot's Histoire de la Litterature francaise; Ticknor's History of Spanish Literature; Talvi's (Mrs. Robinson) Literature of the Slavic Nations; Mallet's Northern Antiquities; Keyson's Religion of the Northmen; Pigott's Northern Mythology; William and Mary Howitt's Literature and Romance of Northern Europe; De s'Gravenweert's Sur la Litterature Neerlandaise; Siegenbeck's Histoire Litteraire des Pays- Bas; Da Pontes' Poets and Poetry of Germany; Menzel's German Literature; Spaulding's History of English Literature; Chambers's Cyclopaedia of English Literature; Shaw's English Literature; Stedman's Victorian Poets; Truebner's guide to American Literature; Duyckinck's Cyclopaedia of American Literature; Griswold's Poets and Prose Writers of America; Tuckerman's Sketch of American Literature; Frothingham's Transcendental Movement in New England. French, English, and American Encyclopaedias, Biographies, Dictionaries, and numerous other works of reference have also been extensively consulted.
1. The Origin of Letters.—2. The Phoenician Alphabet and Inscriptions.— 3, The Greek Alphabet. Its Three Epochs.—4. The Medieval Scripts. The Irish. The Anglo-Saxon. The Roman. The Gothic. The Runic.
1. THE ORIGIN OF LETTERS.—Alphabetic writing is an art easy to acquire, but its invention has tasked the genius of the three most gifted nations of the ancient world. All primitive people have begun to record events and transmit messages by means of rude pictures of objects, intended to represent things or thoughts, which afterwards became the symbols of sounds. For instance, the letter M is traced down from the conventionalized picture of an owl in the ancient language of Egypt, Mulak. This was used first to denote the bird itself; then it stood for the name of the bird; then gradually became a syllabic sign to express the sound "mu," the first syllable of the name, and ultimately to denote "M," the initial sound of that syllable.
In like manner A can be shown to be originally the picture of an eagle, D of a hand, F of the horned asp, R, of the mouth, and so on.
Five systems of picture writing have been independently invented,—the Egyptian, the Cuneiform, the Chinese, the Mexican, and the Hittite. The tradition of the ancient world, which assigned to the Phoenicians the glory of the invention of letters, declared that it was from Egypt that they originally derived the art of writing, which they afterwards carried into Greece, and the latest investigations have confirmed this tradition.
2. THE PHOENICIAN ALPHABET.—Of the Phoenician alphabet the Samaritan is the only living representative, the Sacred Script of the few families who still worship on Mount Gerizim. With this exception, it is only known to us by inscriptions, of which several hundred have been discovered. They form two well-marked varieties, the Moabite and the Sidonian. The most important monument of the first is the celebrated Moabite stone, discovered in 1868 on the site of the ancient capital of the land of Moab, portions of which are preserved in the Louvre. It gives an account of the revolt of the King of Moab against Jehoram, King of Israel, 890 B.C. The most important inscription of the Sidonian type is that on the magnificent sarcophagus of a king of Sidon, now one of the glories of the Louvre.
A monument of the early Hebrew alphabet, another offshoot of the Phoenician, was discovered in 1880 in an inscription in the ancient tunnel which conveys water to the pool of Siloam.
3. THE GREEK ALPHABET.—The names, number, order, and forms of the primitive Greek alphabet attest its Semitic origin. Of the many inscriptions which remain, the earliest has been discovered, not in Greece, but upon the colossal portrait statues carved by Rameses the Great, in front of the stupendous cave temple at Abou-Simbel, at the time when the Hebrews were still in Egyptian bondage. In the seventh century B. C., certain Greek mercenaries in the service of an Egyptian king inscribed a record of their visit in five precious lines of writing, which the dry Nubian atmosphere has preserved almost in their pristine sharpness.
The legend, according to which Cadmus the Tyrian sailed for Greece in search of Europa, the damsel who personified the West, designates the island of Thera as the earliest site of Phoenician colonization in the Aegean, and from inscriptions found there this may be regarded as the first spot of European soil on which words were written, and they exhibit better than any others the progressive form of the Cadmean alphabet. The oldest inscriptions found on Hellenic soil bearing a definite date are those cut on the pedestals of the statues which lined the sacred way leading to the temple of Apollo, near Miletus. Several of those, now in the British Museum, range in date over the sixth century B.C. They belong, not to the primitive alphabet, but to the Ionian, one of the local varieties which mark the second stage, which may be called the epoch of transition, which began in the seventh and lasted to the close of the fifth century B.C. It is not till the middle of the fifth century that we have any dated monuments belonging to the Western types. Among these are the names of the allied states of Hellas, inscribed on the coils of the three-headed bronze serpent which supported the gold tripod dedicated to the Delphian Apollo, 476 B.C. This famous monument was transported to Byzantium by Constantine the Great, and still stands in the Hippodrome at Constantinople. Of equal interest is the bronze Etruscan helmet in the British Museum, dedicated to the Olympian Zeus, in commemoration of the great victory off Cumae, which destroyed the naval supremacy of the Etruscans, 474 B.C., and is celebrated in an ode by Pindar.
The third epoch witnessed the emergence of the classical alphabets of European culture, the Ionian and the Italic.
The Ionian has been the source of the Eastern scripts, Romaic, Coptic, Slavic, and others. The Italic became the parent of the modern alphabets of Western Europe.
4. THE MEDIAEVAL SCRIPTS.—A variety of national scripts arose in the establishment of the Teutonic kingdoms upon the ruins of the Roman Empire. But the most magnificent of all mediaeval scripts was the Irish, which exercised a profound influence on the later alphabets of Europe. From a combination of the Roman and Irish arose the Anglo-Saxon script, the precursor of that which was developed in the ninth century by Alcuin of York, the friend and preceptor of Charlemagne. This was the parent of the Roman alphabet, in which our books are now printed. Among other deteriorations, there crept in, in the fourteenth century, the Gothic or black letter character, and these barbarous forms are still essentially retained by the Teutonic nations though discarded by the English and Latin races; but from its superior excellences the Roman alphabet is constantly extending its range and bids fair to become the sole alphabet of the future. In all the lands that were settled and overrun by the Scandinavians, there are found multitudes of inscriptions in the ancient alphabet of the Norsemen, which is called the Runic. The latest modern researches seem to prove that this was derived from the Greek, and probably dates back as far as the sixth century B.C.The Goths were early in occupation of the regions south of the Baltic and east of the Vistula, and in direct commercial intercourse with the Greek traders, from whom they doubtless obtained a knowledge of the Greek alphabet, as the Greeks themselves had gained it from the Phoenicians.
CLASSIFICATION OF LANGUAGES.
Modern philologists have made different classifications of the various languages of the world, one of which divides them into three great classes: the Monosyllabic, the Agglutinated, and the Inflected.
—The first, or Monosyllabic class, contains those languages which consist only of separate, unvaried monosyllables. The words have no organization that adapts them for mutual affiliation, and there is in them, accordingly, an utter absence of all scientific forms and principles of grammar. The Chinese and a few languages in its vicinity, doubtless originally identical with it, are all that belong to this class. The languages of the North American Indians, though differing in many respects, have the same general grade of character.
The second class consists of those languages which are formed by agglutination. The words combine only in a mechanical way; they have no elective affinity, and exhibit toward each other none of the active or sensitive capabilities of living organisms. Prepositions are joined to substantives, and pronouns to verbs, but never so as to make a new form of the original word, as in the inflected languages, and words thus placed in juxtaposition retain their personal identity unimpaired.
The agglutinative languages are known also as the Turanian, from Turan, a name of Central Asia, and the principal varieties of this family are the Tartar, Finnish, Lappish, Hungarian, and Caucasian. They are classed together almost exclusively on the ground of correspondence in their grammatical structure, but they are bound together by ties of far less strength than those which connect the inflected languages. The race by whom they are spoken has, from the first, occupied more of the surface of the earth than either of the others, stretching westward from the shores of the Japan Sea to the neighborhood of Vienna, and southward from the Arctic Ocean to Afghanistan and the southern coast of Asia Minor.
The inflected languages form the third great division. They have all a complete interior organization, complicated with many mutual relations and adaptations, and are thoroughly systematic in all their parts. Between this class and the monosyllabic there is all the difference that there is between organic and inorganic forms of matter; and between them and the agglutinative languages there is the same difference that exists in nature between mineral accretions and vegetable growths. The boundaries of this class of languages are the boundaries of cultivated humanity, and in their history lies embosomed that of the civilized portions of the world.
Two great races speaking inflected languages, the Semitic and the Indo- European, have shared between them the peopling of the historic portions of the earth; and on this account these two languages have sometimes been called political or state languages, in contrast with the appellation of the Turanian as nomadic. The term Semitic is applied to that family of languages which are native in Southwestern Asia, and which are supposed to have been spoken by the descendants of Shem, the son of Noah. They are the Hebrew, Aramaeic, Arabic, the ancient Egyptian or Coptic, the Chaldaic, and Phoenician. Of these the only living language of note is the Arabic, which has supplanted all the others, and wonderfully diffused its elements among the constituents of many of the Asiatic tongues. In Europe the Arabic has left a deep impress on the Spanish language, and is still represented in the Maltese, which is one of its dialects.
The Semitic languages differ widely from the Indo-European in reference to their grammar, vocabulary, and idioms. On account of the great preponderance of the pictorial element in them, they may be called the metaphorical languages, while the Indo-European, from the prevailing style of their higher literature, may be called the philosophical languages. The Semitic nations also differ from the Indo-European in their national characteristics; while they have lived with remarkable uniformity on the vast open plains, or wandered over the wide and dreary deserts of their native region, the Indo-Europeans have spread themselves over both hemispheres, and carried civilization to its highest development. But the Semitic mind has not been without influence on human progress. It early recorded its thoughts, its wants, and achievements in the hieroglyphs of ancient Egypt; the Phoenicians, foremost in their day in commerce and the arts, introduced from Egypt alphabetic letters, of which all the world has since made use. The Jewish portion of the race, long in communication with Egypt, Phoenicia, Babylonia, and Persia, could not fail to impart to these nations some knowledge of their religion and literature, and it cannot be doubted that many new ideas and quickening influences were thus set in motion, and communicated to the more remote countries both of the East and West.
The most ancient languages of the Indo-European stock may be grouped in two distinct family pairs: the Aryan, which comprises two leading families, the Indian and Iranian, and the Graeco-Italic or Pelasgic, which comprises the Greek family and its various dialects, and the Italic family, the chief-subdivisions of which are the Etruscan, the Latin, and the modern languages derived from the Latin. The other Indo-European families are the Lettic, Slavic, Gothic, and Celtic, with their various subdivisions.
The word Aryan (Sanskrit, Arya), the oldest known name of the entire Indo- European family, signifies well-born, and was applied by the ancient Hindus to themselves in contradistinction to the rest of the world, whom they considered base-born and contemptible.
In the country called Aryavarta, lying between the Himalaya and the Vindhya Mountains, the high table-land of Central Asia, more than two thousand years before Christ, our Hindu ancestors had their early home. From this source there have been, historically, two great streams of Aryan migration. One, towards the south, stagnated in the fertile valleys, where they were walled in from all danger of invasion by the Himalaya Mountains on the north, the Indian Ocean on the south, and the deserts of Bactria on the west, and where the people sunk into a life of inglorious ease, or wasted their powers in the regions of dreamy mysticism. The other migration, at first northern, and then western, includes the great families of nations in Northwestern Asia and in Europe. Forced by circumstances into a more objective life, and under the stimulus of more favorable influences, these nations have been brought into a marvelous state of individual and social progress, and to this branch of the human family belongs all the civilization of the present, and most of that which distinguishes the past.
The Indo-European family of languages far surpasses the Semitic in variety, flexibility, beauty, and strength. It is remarkable for its vitality, and has the power of continually regenerating itself and bringing forth new linguistic creations. It renders most faithfully the various workings of the human mind, its wants, its aspirations, its passion, imagination, and reasoning power, and is most in harmony with the ever progressive spirit of man. In its varied scientific and artistic development it forms the most perfect family of languages on the globe, and modern civilization, by a chain reaching through thousands of years, ascends to this primitive source.
1. Chinese literature.—2. The Language.—3. The Writing.—4. The five Classics and four Books.—5. Chinese Religion and Philosophy, Lao-tse, Confucius, Meng-tse or Mencius.—6. Buddhism.—7. Social Constitution of China.—8. Invention of Printing.—9. Science, History, and Geography. Encyclopaedias.—10. Poetry.—11. Dramatic Literature and Fiction.—12. Education in China.
1. CHINESE LITERATURE.—The Chinese literature is one of the most voluminous of all literatures, and among the most important of those of Asia. Originating in a vast empire, it is diffused among a population numbering nearly half the inhabitants of the globe. It is expressed by an original language differing from all others, it refers to a nation whose history may be traced back nearly five thousand years in an almost unbroken series of annals, and it illustrates the peculiar character of a people long unknown to the Western world.
2. THE LANGUAGE.—The date of the origin of this language is lost in antiquity, but there is no doubt that it is the most ancient now spoken, and probably the oldest written language used by man. It has undergone few alterations during successive ages, and this fact has served to deepen the lines of demarkation between the Chinese and other branches of the race and has resulted in a marked national life. It belongs to the monosyllabic family; its radical words number 450, but as many of these, by being pronounced with a different accent convey a different meaning, in reality they amount to 1,203. Its pronunciation varies in different provinces, but that of Nanking, the ancient capital of the Empire, is the most pure. Many dialects are spoken in the different provinces, but the Chinese proper is the literary tongue of the nation, the language of the court and of polite society, and it is vernacular in that portion of China called the Middle Kingdom.
3. THE WRITING.—There is an essential difference between the Chinese language as spoken and written, and the poverty of the former presents a striking contrast with the exuberance of the latter. Chinese writing, generally speaking, does not express the sounds of the words, but it represents the ideas or the objects indicated by them. Its alphabetical characters are therefore ideographic, and not phonetic. They were originally rude representations of the thing signified; but they have undergone various changes from picture-writing to the present more symbolical and more complete system.
As the alphabetic signs represent objects or ideas, it would follow that there must be in writing as many characters as words in the spoken language. Yet many words, which have the same sound, represent different ideas; and these must be represented also in the written language. Thus the number of the written words far surpasses that of the spoken language. As far as they are used in the common writing, they amount to 2,425. The number of characters in the Chinese dictionary is 40,000, of which, however, only 10,000 are required for the general purposes of literature. They are disposed under 214 signs, which serve as keys, and which correspond to our alphabetic order.
The Chinese language is written, from right to left, in vertical columns or in horizontal lines.
4. THE CLASSICS.—The first five canonical books are "The Book of Transformations," "The Book of History," "The Book of Rites," "The Spring and Autumn Annals," and "The Book of Odes"
"The Book of Transformations" consists of sixty-four short essays on important themes, symbolically and enigmatically expressed, based on linear figures and diagrams. These cabala are held in high esteem by the learned, and the hundreds of fortune-tellers in the streets of Chinese towns practice their art on the basis of these mysteries.
"The Book of History" was compiled by Confucius, 551-470 B. C., from the earliest records of the Empire, and in the estimation of the Chinese it contains the seeds of all that is valuable in their political system, their history, and their religious rites, and is the basis of their tactics, music, and astronomy. It consists mainly of conversations between kings and their ministers, in which are traced the same patriarchal principles of government that guide the rulers of the present day.
"The Book of Rites" is still the rule by which the Chinese regulate all the relations of life. No every-day ceremony is too insignificant to escape notice, and no social or domestic duty is beyond its scope. No work of the classics has left such an impression on the manners and customs of the people. Its rules are still minutely observed, and the office of the Board of Rites, one of the six governing boards of Peking, is to see that its precepts are carried out throughout the Empire. According to this system, all the relations of man to the family, society, the state, to morals, and to religion, are reduced to ceremonial, but this includes not only the external conduct, but it involves those right principles from which all true politeness and etiquette spring.
The "Book of Odes" consists of national airs, chants, and sacrificial odes of great antiquity, some of them remarkable for their sublimity. It is difficult to estimate the power they have exerted over all subsequent generations of Chinese scholars. They are valuable for their religious character and for their illustration of early Chinese customs and feelings; but they are crude in measure, and wanting in that harmony which comes from study and cultivation.
The "Spring and Autumn Annals" consist of bald statements of historical facts. Of the Four Books, the first three—the "Great Learning," the "Just Medium," and the "Confucian Analects"—are by the pupils and followers of Confucius. The last of the four books consists entirely of the writings of Mencius (371-288 B. C.). In originality and breadth of view he is superior to Confucius, and must be regarded as one of the greatest men Asiatic nations have produced.
The Five Classics and Four Books would scarcely be considered more than curiosities in literature were it not for the incomparable influence, free from any debasing character, which they have exerted over so many millions of minds.
5. CHINESE RELIGION AND PHILOSOPHY.—Three periods may be distinguished in the history of the religious and philosophical progress of China. The first relates to ancient tradition, to the idea of one supreme God, to the patriarchal institutions, which were the foundation of the social organization of the Empire, and to the primitive customs and moral doctrines. It appears that this religion at length degenerated into that mingled idolatry and indifference which still characterizes the people of China.
In the sixth century B.C., the corruption of the ancient religion having reached its height, a reaction took place which gave birth to the second, or philosophical period, which produced three systems. Lao-tse, born 604 B.C., was the founder of the religion of the Tao, or of the external and supreme reason. The Tao is the primitive existence and intelligence, the great principle of the spiritual and material world, which must be worshiped through the purification of the soul, by retirement, abnegation, contemplation, and metempsychosis. This school gave rise to a sect of mystics similar to those of India.
Later writers have debased the system of Lao-tse, and cast aside his profound speculations for superstitious rituals and the multiplication of gods and goddesses.
Confucius was the founder of the second school, which has exerted a far more extensive and beneficial influence on the political and social institutions of China. Confucius is a Latin name, corresponding to the original Kung-fu-tse, Kung being the proper name, and Fu-tse signifying reverend teacher or doctor. He was born 551 B.C., and educated by his mother, who impressed upon him a strong sense of morality. After a careful study of the ancient writings he decided to undertake the moral reform of his country, and giving up his high position of prime minister, he traveled extensively in China, preaching justice and virtue wherever he went. His doctrines, founded on the unity of God and the necessities of human nature, bore essentially a moral character, and being of a practical tendency, they exerted a great influence not only on the morals of the people, but also on their legislation, and the authority of Confucius became supreme. He died 479 B.C., at the age of seventy-two, eleven years before the birth of Socrates. He left a grandson, through whom the succession has been transmitted to the present day, and his descendants constitute a distinct class in Chinese society.
At the close of the fourth century B.C., another philosopher appeared by the name of Meng-tse, or Mencius (eminent and venerable teacher), whose method of instruction bore a strong similarity to that of Socrates. His books rank among the classics, and breathe a spirit of freedom and independence; they are full of irony on petty sovereigns and on their vices; they establish moral goodness above social position, and the will of the people above the arbitrary power of their rulers. He was much revered, and considered bolder and more eloquent than Confucius.
6. The third period of the intellectual development of the Chinese dates from the introduction of Buddhism into the country, under the name of the religion of Fo, 70 A.D. The emperor himself professes this religion, and its followers have the largest number of temples. The great bulk of Buddhist literature is of Indian origin. Buddhism, however, has lost in China much of its originality, and for the mass it has sunk into a low and debasing idolatry. Recently a new religion has sprung up in China, a mixture of ancient Chinese and Christian doctrines, which apparently finds great favor in some portions of the country.
7. SOCIAL CONSTITUTION OF CHINA.—The social constitution of China rests on the ancient traditions preserved in the canonical and classic books. The Chinese empire is founded on the patriarchal system, in which all authority over the family belongs to the pater familias. The emperor represents the great father of the nation, and is the supreme master of the state and the head of religion. All his subjects being considered as his children, they are all equal before him, and according to their capacity are admitted to the public offices. Hence no distinction of castes, no privileged classes, no nobility of birth; but a general equality under an absolute chief. The public administration is entirely in the hands of the emperor, who is assisted by his mandarins, both military and civil. They are admitted to this rank only after severe examinations, and from them the members of the different councils of the empire are selected. Among these the Board of Control, or the all-examining Court, and the Court of History and Literature deserve particular mention, as being more closely related to the subject of this work. The duty of this board consists in examining all the official acts of the government, and in preventing the enacting of those measures which they may deem detrimental to the best interests of the country. They can even reprove the personal acts of the emperor, an office which has afforded many occasions for the display of eloquence. The courage of some of the members of this board has been indeed sublime, giving to their words wonderful power.
The Court of History and Literature superintends public education, examines those who aspire to the degree of mandarins, and decides on the pecuniary subsidies, which the government usually grants for defraying the expenses of the publication of great works on history and science.
8. INVENTION OF PRINTING.—At the close of the sixth century B.C. it was ordained that various texts in circulation should be engraved on wood to be printed and published. At first comparatively little use seems to have been made of the invention, which only reached its full development in the eleventh century, when movable types were first invented by a Chinese blacksmith, who printed books with them nearly five hundred years before Gutenberg appeared.
In the third century B.C., one of the emperors conceived the mad scheme of destroying all existing records, and writing a new set of annals in his own name, in order that posterity might consider him the founder of the empire. Sixty years after this barbarous decree had been carried into execution, one of his successors, who desired as far as possible to repair the injury, caused these books to be re-written from a copy which had escaped destruction.
9. SCIENCE, HISTORY, AND GEOGRAPHY.—Comparing the scientific development of the Chinese with that of the Western world, it may be said that they have made little progress in any branch of science. There are, however, to be found in almost every department some works of no indifferent merit. In mathematics they begin only now to make some progress, since the mathematical works of Europe have been introduced into their country. Astrology still takes the place of astronomy, and the almanacs prepared at the observatory of Peking are made chiefly by foreigners. Books on natural philosophy abound, some of which are written by the emperors themselves. Medicine is imperfectly understood. They possess several valuable works on Chinese jurisprudence, on agriculture, economy, mechanics, trades, many cyclopaedias and compendia, and several dictionaries, composed with extraordinary skill and patience.
To this department may be referred all educational books, the most of them written in rhyme, and according to a system of intellectual gradation.
The historical and geographical works of China are the most valuable and interesting department of its literature. Each dynasty has its official chronicle, and the celebrated collection of twenty-one histories forms an almost unbroken record of the annals from, the third century B.C. to the middle of the seventeenth century, and contains a vast amount of information to European readers. The edition of this huge work, in sixty- six folio volumes, is to be found in the British Museum. This and many similar works of a general and of a local character unite in rendering this department rich and important for those who are interested in the history of Asiatic civilization. "The General Geography of the Chinese Empire" is a collection of the statistics of the country, with maps and tables, in two hundred and sixty volumes. The "Statutes of the Reigning Dynasty," from the year 1818, form more than one thousand volumes. Chinese topographical works are characterized by a minuteness of detail rarely equaled.
Historical and literary encyclopaedias form a very notable feature in all Chinese libraries. These works show great research, clearness, and precision, and are largely drawn upon by European scholars. Early in the last century one of the emperors appointed a commission to reprint in one great collection all the works they might think worthy of preservation. The result was a compilation of 6,109 volumes, arranged under thirty-two heads, embracing works on every subject contained in the national literature. This work is unique of its kind, and the largest in the world.
10. POETRY.—The first development of literary talent in China, as elsewhere, is found in poetry, and in the earliest days songs and ballads were brought as offerings from the various principalities to the heads of government. At the time of Confucius there existed a collection of three thousand songs, from which he selected those contained in the "Book of Odes." There is not much sublimity or depth of thought in these odes, but they abound in touches of nature, and are exceedingly interesting and curious, as showing how little change time has effected in the manners and customs of this singular people. Similar in character are the poems of the Tshian-teng-shi, another collection of lyrics published at the expense of the emperor, in several thousand volumes. Among modern poets may be mentioned the Emperor Khian-lung, who died at the close of the last century.
After the time of Confucius the change in Chinese poetry became very marked, and, instead of the peaceful tone of his day, it reflected the unsettled condition of social and political affairs. The simple, monotheistic faith was exchanged for a superstitious belief in a host of gods and goddesses, a contempt for life, and an uncertainty of all beyond it. The period between 620 and 907 A.D., was one of great prosperity, and is looked upon as the golden age.
11. DRAMATIC LITERATURE AND FICTION.—Chinese literature affords no instance of real dramatic poetry or sustained effort of the imagination. The "Hundred Plays of the Yuen Dynasty" is the most celebrated collection, and many have been translated into European languages. One of them, "The Orphan of China," served as the groundwork of Voltaire's tragedy of that name. The drama, however, constitutes a large department in Chinese literature, though there are, properly speaking, no theatres in China. A platform in the open air is the ordinary stage, the decorations are hangings of cotton supported by a few poles of bamboo, and the action is frequently of the coarsest kind. When an actor comes on the stage, he says, "I am the mandarin so-and-so." If the drama requires the actor to enter a house, he takes some steps and says, "I have entered;" and if he is supposed to travel, he does so by rapid running on the stage, cracking his whip, and saying afterwards, "I have arrived." The dialogue is written partly in verse and partly in prose, and the poetry is sometimes sung and sometimes recited. Many of their dramas are full of bustle and abound in incident. They often contain the life and adventures of an individual, some great sovereign or general, a history, in fact, thrown into action. Two thousand volumes of dramatic compositions are known, and the best of these amount to five hundred pieces. Among them may be mentioned the "Orphan of the House of Tacho," and the "Heir in Old Age," which have much force and character, and vividly describe the habits of the people.
The Chinese are fond of historical and moral romances, which, however, are founded on reason and not on imagination, as are the Hindu and Persian tales. Their subjects are not submarine abysses, enchanted palaces, giants and genii, but man as he is in his actual life, as he lives with his fellow-men, with all his virtues and vices, sufferings and joys. But the Chinese novelists show more skill in the details than in the conception of their works; the characters are finished and developed in every respect. The pictures with which they adorn their works are minute and the descriptions poetical, though they often sacrifice to these qualities the unity of the subject. The characters of their novels are principally drawn from the middle class, as governors, literary men, etc. The episodes are, generally speaking, ordinary actions of common life—all the quiet incidents of the phlegmatic life of the Chinese, coupled with the regular and mechanical movements which distinguish that people. Among the numberless Chinese romances there are several which are considered classic. Such are the "Four Great Marvels' Books," and the "Stories of the Pirates on the Coast of Kiangnan."
12. EDUCATION IN CHINA. Most of the Chinese people have a knowledge of the rudiments of education. There is scarcely a man who does not know how to read the hooks of his profession. Public schools are everywhere established; in the cities there are colleges, in which pupils are taught the Chinese literature; and in Peking there is an imperial college for the education of the mandarins. The offices of the empire are only attained by scholarship. There are four literary degrees, which give title to different positions in the country. The government fosters the higher branches of education and patronizes the publication of literary works, which are distributed among the libraries, colleges, and functionaries. The press is restricted only from publishing licentious and revolutionary books.
The future literature of China in many branches will be greatly modified by the introduction of foreign knowledge and influences.
1. The Language.—2. The Religion.—3. The Literature. Influence of Women.—4. History.—5. The Drama and Poetry.—6. Geography. Newspapers. Novels. Medical Science.—7. Position of Woman.
1. THE LANGUAGE.—The Japanese is considered as belonging to the isolated languages, as philologists have thus far failed to classify it. It is agglutinative in its syntax, each word consisting of an unchangeable root and one or several suffixes. Before the art of writing was known, poems, odes to the gods, and other fragments which still exist had been composed in this tongue, and it is probable that a much larger literature existed. During the first centuries of writing in Japan, the spoken and written language was identical, but with the study of the Chinese literature and the composition of native works almost exclusively in that language, there grew up differences between the colloquial and literary idiom, and the infusion of Chinese words steadily increased. In writing, the Chinese characters occupy the most important place. But all those words which express the wants, feelings, and concerns of everyday life, all that is deepest in the human heart, are for the most part native. If we would trace the fountains of the musical and beautiful language of Japan, we must seek them in the hearts and hear them flow from the lips of the mothers of the Island Empire. Among the anomalies with which Japan has surprised and delighted the world may be claimed that of woman's achievements in the domain of letters. It was woman's services, not man's, that made the Japanese a literary language, and under her influence the mobile forms of speech crystallized into perennial beauty.
The written language has heretofore consisted mainly of characters borrowed from the Chinese, each character representing an idea of its own, so that in order to read and write the student must make himself acquainted with several thousand characters, and years are required to gain proficiency in these elementary arts. There also exists in Japan a syllabary alphabet of forty-seven characters, used at present as an auxiliary to the Chinese. Within a very recent period, since the acquisition of knowledge has become a necessity in Japan, a society has been formed by the most prominent men of the empire, for the purpose of assimilating the spoken and written language, taking the forty-seven native characters as the basis.
2. RELIGION.—The two great religions of Japan are Shintoism and Buddhism. The chief characteristic of the Shinto religion is the worship of ancestors, the deification of emperors, heroes, and scholars, and the adoration of the personified forces of nature. It lays down no precepts, teaches no morals or doctrines, and prescribes no ritual.
The number of Shinto deities is enormous. In its higher form the chief object of the Shinto faith is to enjoy this life; in its lower forms it consists in a blind obedience to governmental and priestly dictates.
On the recent accession of the Mikado to his former supreme power, an attempt was made to restore this ancient faith, but it failed, and Japan continues as it has been for ten centuries in the Buddhist faith.
The religion of Buddha was introduced into Japan 581 A.D., and has exerted a most potent influence in forming the Japanese character.
The Protestants of Japanese Buddhism are the followers of Shinran, 1262 A.D., who have wielded a vast influence in the religious development of the people both for good and evil. In this creed prayer, purity, and earnestness of life are insisted upon. The Scriptures of other sects are written in Sanskrit and Chinese which only the learned are able to read, those of the Shin sect are in the vernacular Japanese idiom. After the death of Shinran, Rennio, who died in 1500 A.D., produced sacred writings now daily read by the disciples of this denomination.
Though greatly persecuted, the Shin sect have continually increased in numbers, wealth, and power, and now lead all in intelligence and influence. Of late they have organized their theological schools on the model of foreign countries that their young men may be trained to resist the Shinto and Christian faiths.
3. THE LITERATURE. INFLUENCE OF WOMEN.—Previous to the fourteenth century learning in Japan was confined to the court circle. The fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries are the dark ages when military domination put a stop to all learning except with, a few priests. With the seventeenth century begins the modern period of general culture. The people are all fond of reading, and it is very common to see circulating libraries carried from house to house on the backs of men.
As early as the tenth century, while the learned affected a pedantic style so interlarded with Chinese as to be unintelligible, the cultivation of the native tongue was left to the ladies of the court, a task which they nobly discharged. It is a remarkable fact, without parallel in the history of letters, that a very large proportion of the best writings of the best ages was the work of women, and their achievement in the domain of letters is one of the anomalies with which Japan has surprised and delighted the world. It was their genius that made the Japanese a literary language. The names and works of these authoresses are quoted at the present day.
4. HISTORY.—The earliest extant Japanese record is a work entitled "Kojiki," or book of ancient traditions. It treats of the creation, the gods and goddesses of the mythological period, and gives the history of the Mikados from the accession of Jimmu, year 1 (660 B.C.), to 1288 of the Japanese year. It was supposed to date from the first half of the eighth century, and another work "Nihonghi," a little later, also treats of the mythological period. It abounds in traces of Chinese influence, and in a measure supersedes the "Kojiki." These are the oldest books in the language. They are the chief exponents of the Shinto faith, and form the bases of many commentaries and subsequent works.
The "History of Great Japan," composed in the latter part of the seventeenth century, by the Lord of Mito (died 1700), is the standard history of the present day. The external history of Japan, in twenty-two volumes, by Rai Sanyo (died 1832), composed in classical Chinese, is most widely read by men of education.
The Japanese are intensely proud of their history and take great care in making and preserving records. Memorial stones are among the most striking sights on the highways and in the towns, villages, and temple yards, in honor of some noted scholar, ruler, or benefactor. Few people are more thoroughly informed as to their own history. Every city, town, and village has its annals. Family records are faithfully copied from generation to generation. Almost every province has its encyclopaedic history, and every high-road its itineraries and guide-books, in which famous places and events are noted. In the large cities professional story-tellers and readers gain a lucrative livelihood by narrating both legendary and classical history, and the theatre is often the most faithful mirror of actual history. There are hundreds of child's histories in Japan. Many of the standard works are profusely illustrated, are models of style and eloquence, and parents delight to instruct their children in the national laws and traditions.
5. THE DRAMA.—The theatre is a favorite amusement, especially among the lower classes; the pieces represented are of a popular character and written in colloquial language, and generally founded on national history and tradition, or on the lives and adventures of the heroes and gods; and the scene is always laid in Japan. The play begins in the morning and lasts all day, spectators bringing their food with them. No classical dramatic author is known.
Poetry has always been a favorite study with the Japanese. The most ancient poetical fragment, called a "Collection of Myriad Leaves," dates from the eighth century. The collection of "One Hundred Persons" is much later, and contains many poems written by the emperors themselves. The Japanese possess no great epic or didactic poems, although some of their lyrics are happy examples of quaint modes of thought and expression. It is difficult to translate them into a foreign tongue.
6. GEOGRAPHY. NEWSPAPERS AND NOVELS.—The largest section of Japanese literature is that treating of the local geography of the country itself. These works are minute in detail and of great length, describing events and monuments of historic interest.
Before the recent revolution bat one newspaper existed in Japan, but at present the list numbers several hundred. Freedom of the press is unknown, and fines and imprisonment for violation of the stringent laws are very frequent.
Novels constitute a large section of Japanese literature. Fairy tales and story books abound. Many of them are translated into English; "The Royal Ronans" and other works have recently been published in New York.
Medical science was borrowed from China, but upon this, as upon other matters, the Japanese improved. Acupuncture, or the introduction of needles into the living tissues for remedial purposes, was invented by the Japanese, as was the moxa, or the burning of the flesh for the same purpose.
7. POSITION OF WOMAN.—Women in Japan are treated with far more respect and consideration than elsewhere in the East. According to Japanese history the women of the early centuries were possessed of more intellectual and physical vigor, filling the offices of state and religion, and reaching a high plane of social dignity and honor. Of the one hundred and twenty-three Japanese sovereigns, nine have been women. The great heroine of Japanese history and tradition was the Empress Jingu, renowned for her beauty, piety, intelligence, and martial valor, who, about 200 A.D., invaded and conquered Corea.
The female children of the lower classes receive tuition in private schools so generally established during the last two centuries throughout the country, and those of the higher classes at the hands of private tutors or governesses; and in every household may be found a great number of books exclusively on the duties of women.
1. The Language.—2. The Social Constitution of India. Brahmanism.—3. Characteristics of the Literature and its Divisions.—4. The Vedas and other Sacred Books.—5. Sanskrit Poetry; Epic; The Ramayana and Mahabharata. Lyric Poetry. Didactic Poetry; the Hitopadesa. Dramatic Poetry.—6.. History and Science.—7. Philosophy. 8. Buddhism.—9. Moral Philosophy. The Code of Manu.—10. Modern Literatures of India.—11. Education. The Brahmo Somaj.
1. THE LANGUAGE.—Sanskrit is the literary language of the Hindus, and for two thousand years has served as the means of learned intercourse and composition. The name denotes cultivated or perfected, in distinction to the Prakrit or uncultivated, which sprang from it and was contemporary with it.
The study of Sanskrit by European scholars dates less than a century back, and it is important as the vehicle of an immense literature which lays open the outward and inner life of a remarkable people from a remote epoch nearly to the present day, and as being the most ancient and original of the Indo-European languages, throwing light upon them all. The Aryan or Indo-European race had its ancient home in Central Asia. Colonies migrated to the west and founded the Persian, Greek, and Roman civilization, and settled in Spain and England. Other branches found their way through the passes of the Himalayas and spread themselves over India. Wherever they went they asserted their superiority over the earlier people whom they found in possession of the soil, and the history of civilization is everywhere the history of the Aryan race. The forefathers of the Greek and Roman, of the Englishman and the Hindu, dwelt together in India, spoke the same language, and worshiped the same gods. The languages of Europe and India are merely different forms of the original Aryan speech. This is especially true of the words of common family life. Father, mother, brother, sister, and widow, are substantially the same in most of the Aryan languages, whether spoken on the banks of the Ganges, the Tiber, or the Thames. The word daughter, which occurs in nearly all of them, is derived from the Sanskrit word signifying to draw milk, and preserves the memory of the time when the daughter was the little milkmaid in the primitive Aryan household.
It is probable that as late as the third or fourth century B.C. it was still spoken. New dialects were engrafted upon it which at length superseded it, though it has continued to be revered as the sacred and literary language of the country. Among the modern tongues of India, the Hindui and the Hindustani may be mentioned; the former, the language of the pure Hindu population, is written in Sanskrit characters; the latter is the language of the Mohammedan Hindus, in which Arabic letters are used. Many of the other dialects spoken and written in Northern India are derived from the Sanskrit. Of the more important among them there are English grammars and dictionaries.
2. SOCIAL CONSTITUTION OF INDIA.—Hindu literature takes its character both from the social and the religious institutions of the country. The social constitution is based on the distinction of classes into which the people, from the earliest times, have been divided, and which were the natural effect of the long struggle between the aboriginal tribes and the new race which had invaded India. These castes are four: 1st. The Brahmins or priests; 2d. The warriors and princes; 3d. The husbandmen; 4th. The laborers. There are, besides, several impure classes, the result of an intermingling of the different castes. Of these lower classes some are considered utterly abominable—as that of the Pariahs. The different castes are kept distinct from each other by the most rigorous laws; though in modern times the system has been somewhat modified.
In the period of the Vedas the religion of the Hindus was founded on the simple worship of Nature. But the Pantheism of this age was gradually superseded by the worship of the one Brahm, from which, according to this belief, the soul emanated, and to which it seeks to return. Brahm is an impersonality, the sum of all nature, the germ of all that is. Existence has no purpose, the world is wholly evil, and all good persons should desire to be taken out of it and to return to Brahm. This end is to be attained only by transmigration of the soul through all previous stages of life, migrating into the body of a higher or lower being according to the sins or merits of its former existence, either to finish or begin anew its purification. This religion of the Hindus led to the growth of a philosophy the precursor of that of Greece, whose aims were loftier and whose methods more ingenious.
From Brahm, the impersonal soul of the universe, emanated the personal and active Brahma, who with Siva and Vishnu constitute the Trimurti or god under three forms.
Siva is the second of the Hindu deities, and represents the primitive animating and destroying forces of nature. His symbols relate to these powers, and are worshiped more especially by the Sivaites—a numerous sect of this religion. The worshipers of Vishnu, called the Preserver, the first-born of Brahma, constitute the most extensive sect of India, and their ideas relating to this form of the Divinity are represented by tradition and poetry, and are particularly developed in the great monuments of Sanskrit literature. The myths connected with Vishnu refer especially to his incarnations or corporeal apparitions both in men and animals, which he submits to in order to conquer the spirit of evil.
These incarnations are called Avatars, or descendings, and form an important part of Hindu epic poetry. Of the ten Avatars which are attributed to Vishnu, nine have already taken place; the last is yet to come, when the god shall descend again from heaven, to destroy the present world, and to restore peace and parity. The three forms of the Deity, emanating mutually from each other, are expressed by the three symbols, A U M, three letters in Sanskrit having but one sound, forming the mystical name Om, which never escapes the lips of the Hindus, but is meditated on in silence. The predominant worship of one or the other of these forms constitutes the peculiarities of the numerous sects of this religion.
There are other inferior divinities, symbols of the forces of nature, guardians of the world, demi-gods, demons, and heroes, whose worship, however, is considered as a mode of reaching that divine rest, immersion and absorption in Brahm. To this end are directed the sacrifices, the prayers, the ablutions, the pilgrimages, and the penances, which occupy so large a place in the Hindu worship.
3. CHARACTERISTICS OF THE LITERATURE AND ITS DIVISIONS.—A greater part of the Sanskrit literature, which counts its works by thousands, still remains in manuscript. It was nearly all composed in metre, even works of law, morality, and science. Every department of knowledge and every branch of inquiry is represented, with the single exception of history, and this forms the most striking general characteristic of the literature, and one which robs it of a great share of worth and interest. Its place is in the intellectual rather than in the political history of the world.
The literary monuments of the Sanskrit language correspond to the great eras in the history of India. The first period reaches back to that remote age, when those tribes of the Aryan race speaking Sanskrit emigrated to the northwestern portion of the Indian Peninsula, and established themselves there, an agricultural and pastoral people. That was the age in which were composed the prayers, hymns, and precepts afterwards collected in the form of the Vedas, the sacred books of the country. In the second period, the people, incited by the desire of conquest, penetrated into the fertile valleys lying between the Indus and the Ganges; and the struggle with the aboriginal inhabitants, which followed their invasion, gave birth to epic poetry, in which the wars of the different races were celebrated and the extension of Hindu civilization related. The third period embraces the successive ages of the formation and development of a learned and artistic literature. It contains collections of the ancient traditions, expositions of the Vedas, works on grammar, lexicography, and science; and its conclusion forms the golden age of Sanskrit literature, when, the country being ruled by liberal princes, poetry, and especially the drama, reached its highest degree of perfection.
The chronology of these periods varies according to the systems of different orientalists. It is, however, admitted that the Vedas are the first literary productions of India, and that their origin cannot be later than the fifteenth century B.C. The period of the Vedas embraces the other sacred books, or commentaries founded upon them, though written several centuries afterwards. The second period, to which belong the two great epic poems, the "Ramayana" and the "Mahabharata," according to the best authorities ends with the sixth or seventh century B.C. The third period embraces all the poetical and scientific works written from that time to the third or fourth century B.C., when the language, having been progressively refined, became fixed in the writings of Kalidasa, Jayadeva, and other poets. A fourth period, including the tenth century A.D., may be added, distinguished by its erudition, grammatical, rhetorical, and scientific disquisitions, which, however, is not considered as belonging to the classical age. From the Hindu languages, originating in the Sanskrit, new literatures have sprung; but they are essentially founded on the ancient literature, which far surpasses them in extent and importance, and is the great model of them all. Indeed, its influence has not been limited to India; all the poetical and scientific works of Asia, China, and Japan included, have borrowed largely from it, and in Southern Russia the scanty literature of the Kalmucks is derived entirely from Hindu sources. The Sanskrit literature, known to Europe only recently, through the researches of the English and German orientalists, has now become the auxiliary and foundation of all philological studies.
4. THE VEDAS AND OTHER SACRED BOOKS.—The Vedas (knowledge or science) are the Bible of the Hindus, the most ancient book of the Aryan family, and contain the revelation of Brahm which was preserved by tradition and collected by Vyasa, a name which means compiler. The word Veda, however, should be taken, as a collective name for the sacred literature of the Vedic age which forms the background of the whole Indian world. Many works belonging to that age are lost, though a large number still exists.
The most important of the Vedas are three in number. First, The "Rig- Veda," which is the great literary memorial of the settlement of the Aryans in the Punjaub, and of their religious hymns and songs. Second, The "Yajur-Veda." Third, The "Sama-Veda."
Each Veda divided into two parts: the first contains prayers and invocations, most of which are of a rhythmical character; the second records the precepts relative to those prayers and to the ceremonies of the sacrifices, and describes the religious myths and symbols.
There are many commentaries on the Vedas of an ancient date, which are considered as sacred books, and relate to medicine, music, astronomy, astrology, grammar, philosophy, jurisprudence, and, indeed, to the whole circle of Hindu science.
They represent a period of unknown antiquity, when the Aryans were divided into tribes of which the chieftain was the father and priest, and when women held a high position. Some of the most beautiful hymns of this age were composed by ladies and queens. The morals of Avyan, a woman of an early age, are still taught in the Hindu schools as the golden rule of life.
India to-day acknowledges no higher authority in matters of religion, ceremonial, customs, and law than the Vedas, and the spirit of Vedantism, which is breathed by every Hindu from his earliest youth, pervades the prayers of the idolater, the speculations of the philosopher, and the proverbs of the beggar.
The "Puranas" (ancient writings) hold an eminent rank in the religion and literature of the Hindus. Though of a more recent date than the Vedas, they possess the credit of an ancient and divine origin, and exercise an extensive and practical influence upon the people. They comprise vast collections of ancient traditions relating to theology, cosmology, and to the genealogy of gods and heroes. There are eighteen acknowledged Puranas, which altogether contain 400,000 stanzas. The "Upapuranas," also eighteen in number, are commentaries on the Puranas. Finally, to the sacred books, and next to the Vedas both in antiquity and authority, belong the "Manavadharmasastra," or the ordinances of Manu, spoken of hereafter.
5. SANSKRIT POETRY.—This poetry, springing from the lively and powerful imagination of the Hindus, is inspired by their religious doctrines, and embodied in the most harmonious language. Exalted by their peculiar belief in pantheism and metempsychosis, they consider the universe and themselves as directly emanating from Brahm, and they strive to lose their own individuality, in its infinite essence. Yet, as impure beings, they feel their incapacity to obtain the highest moral perfection, except through a continual atonement, to which all nature is condemned. Hence Hindu poetry expresses a profound melancholy, which pervades the character as well as the literature of that people. This poetry breathes a spirit of perpetual sacrifice of the individual self, as the ideal of human life. The bards of India, inspired by this predominant feeling, have given to poetry nearly every form it has assumed in the Western world, and in each and all they have excelled.
Sanskrit poetry is both metrical and rhythmical, equally free from the confused strains of unmoulded genius and from the servile pedantry of conventional rules. The verse of eight syllables is the source of all other metres, and the sloka or double distich is the stanza most frequently used. Though this poetry presents too often extravagance of ideas, incumbrance of episodes, and monstrosity of images, as a general rule it is endowed with simplicity of style, pure coloring, sublime ideas, rare figures, and chaste epithets. Its exuberance must be attributed to the strange mythology of the Hindus, to the immensity of the fables which constitute the groundwork of their poems, and to the gigantic strength of their poetical imaginations. A striking peculiarity of Sanskrit poetry is its extensive use in treating of those subjects apparently the most difficult to reduce to a metrical form—not only the Vedas and Manu's code are composed in verse, but the sciences are expressed in this form. Even in the few works which may be called prose, the style is so modulated and bears so great a resemblance to the language of poetry as scarcely to be distinguished from it. The history of Sanskrit poetry is, in reality, the history of Sanskrit literature.
The subjects of the epic poems of the Hindus are derived chiefly from their religious tenets, and relate to the incarnations of the gods, who, in their human forms, become the heroes of this poetry. The idea of an Almighty power warring against the spirit of evil destroys the possibility of struggle, and impairs the character of epic poetry; but the Hindu poets, by submitting their gods both to fate and to the condition of men, diminish their power and give them the character of epic heroes.
The Hindu mythology, however, is the great obstacle which must ever prevent this poetry from becoming popular in the Western world. The great personifications of the Deity have not been softened down, as in the mythology of the Greeks, to the perfection of human symmetry, but are here exhibited in their original gigantic forms. Majesty is often expressed by enormous stature; power, by multitudinous hands; providence, by countless eyes; and omnipresence, by innumerable bodies.
In addition to this, Hindu epic poetry departs so far from what may be called the vernacular idiom of thought and feeling, and refers to a people whose political and religious institutions, as well as moral habits, are so much at variance with our own, that no labor or skill could render its associations familiar.
The Ramayana and the Mahabharata are the most important and sublime creations of Hindu literature, and the most colossal epic poems to be found in the literature of the world. They surpass in magnitude the Iliad and Odyssey, the Jerusalem Delivered and the Lusiad, as the pyramids of Egypt tower above the temples of Greece.
The Ramayana (Rama and yana, expedition) describes the exploits of Rama, an incarnation of Vishnu, and the son of Dasaratha, king of Oude. Ravana, the prince of demons, bad stolen from the gods the privilege of being invulnerable, and had thus acquired an equality with them. He could not be overcome except by a man, and the gods implored Vishnu to become incarnate in order that Ravana might be conquered. The origin and the development of this Avatar, the departing of Rama for the battlefield, the divine signs of his mission, his love and marriage with Sita, the daughter of the king Janaka, the persecution of his step-mother, by which the hero is sent into exile, his penance in the desert, the abduction of his bride by Ravana, the gigantic battles that ensue, the rescue of Sita, and the triumph of Rama constitute the principal plot of this wonderful poem, full of incidents and episodes of the most singular and beautiful character. Among these may be mentioned the descent of the goddess Ganga, which relates to the mythological origin of the river Ganges, and the story of Yajnadatta, a young penitent, who through mistake was killed by Dasaratha; the former splendid for its rich imagery, the latter incomparable for its elegiac character, and for its expression of the passionate sorrow of parental affection.
The Ramayana was written by Valmiki, a poet belonging to an unknown period. It consists of seven cantos, and contains twenty-five thousand verses. The original, with its translation into Italian, was published in Paris by the government of Sardinia about the middle of this century.
The Mahabharata (the great Bharata) has nearly the same antiquity as the Ramayana. It describes the greatest Avatar of Vishnu, the incarnation of the god in Krishna, and it presents a vast picture of the Hindu religion. It relates to the legendary history of the Bharata dynasty, especially to the wars between the Pandus and Kurus, two branches of a princely family of ancient India. Five sons of Pandu, having been unjustly exiled by their uncle, return, after many wonderful adventures, with a powerful army to oppose the Kurus, and being aided by Krishna, the incarnated Vishnu, defeat their enemies and become lords of all the country. The poem describes the birth of Krishna, his escape from the dangers which surrounded his cradle, his miracles, his pastoral life, his rescue of sixteen thousand young girls who had become prisoners of a giant, his heroic deeds in the war of the Pandus, and finally his ascent to heaven, where he still leads the round dances of the spheres. This work is not more remarkable for the grandeur of its conceptions than for the information it affords respecting the social and religious systems of the ancient Hindus, which are here revealed with majestic and sublime eloquence. Five of its most esteemed episodes are called the Five Precious Stones. First among these may be mentioned the "Bhagavad-Gita," or the Divine Song, containing the revelation of Krishna, in the form of a dialogue between the god and his pupil Arjuna. Schlegel calls this episode the most beautiful, and perhaps the most truly philosophical, poem that the whole range of literature has produced.
The Mahabharata is divided into eighteen cantos, and it contains two hundred thousand verses. It is attributed to Vyasa, the compiler of the Vedas, but it appears that it was the result of a period of literature rather than the work of a single poet. Its different incidents and episodes were probably separate poems, which from the earliest age were sung by the people, and later, by degrees, collected in one complete work. Of the Mahabharata we possess only a few episodes translated into English, such as the Bhagavad-Gita, by Wilkins.
At a later period other epic poems were written, either as abridgments of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, or founded on episodes contained in them. These, however, belong to a lower order of composition, and cannot be compared with the great works of Valmiki and Vyasa.
In the development of lyric poetry the Hindu bards, particularly those of the third period, have been eminently successful; their power is great in the sublime and the pathetic, and manifests itself more particularly in awakening the tender sympathies of our nature. Here we find many poems full of grace and delicacy, and splendid for their charming descriptions of nature. Such are the "Meghaduta" and the "Ritusanhara" of Kalidasa, the "Madhava and Radha" of Jayadeva, and especially the "Gita-Govinda" of the same poet, or the adventures of Krishna as a shepherd, a poem in which the soft languors of love are depicted in enchanting colors, and which is adorned with all the magnificence of language and sentiment.
Hindu poetry has a particular tendency to the didactic style and to embody religious and historical knowledge; every subject is treated in the form of verse, such as inscriptions, deeds, and dictionaries. Splendid examples of didactic poetry may be found in the episodes of the epic poems, and more particularly in the collections of fables and apologues in which the Sanskrit literature abounds. Among these the Hitopadesa is the most celebrated, in which Vishnu-saima instructs the sons of a king committed to his care. Perhaps there is no book, except the Bible, which has been translated into so many languages as these fables. They have spread in two branches over nearly the whole civilized world. The one, under the original name of the Hitopadesa, remains almost confined to India, while the other, under the title of "Calila and Dimna," has become famous over all western Asia and in all the countries of Europe, and has served as the model of the fables of all languages. To this department belong also the "Adventures of the Ten Princes," by Dandin, which, in an artistic point of view, is far superior to any other didactic writings of Hindu literature.
The drama is the most interesting branch of Hindu literature. No other ancient people, except the Greeks, has brought forth anything so admirable in this department. It had its most flourishing period probably in the third or fourth century B.C. Its origin is attributed to Brahm, and its subjects are selected from the mythology. Whether the drama represents the legends of the gods, or the simple circumstances of ordinary life; whether it describes allegorical or historical subjects, it bears always the same character of its origin and of its tendency. Simplicity of plot, unity of episodes, and purity of language, unite in the formation of the Hindu dramas. Prose and verse, the serious and the comic, pantomime and music are intermingled in their representations. Only the principal characters, the gods, the Brahmins, and the kings, speak Sanskrit; women and the less important characters speak Prakrit, more or less refined according to their rank. Whatever may offend propriety, whatever may produce an unwholesome excitement, is excluded; for the hilarity of the audience, there is an occasional introduction on the stage of a parasite or a buffoon. The representation is usually opened by an apologue and always concluded with a prayer.