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Folk-Lore/Volume 33/Obituary/Mansel Longworth Dames

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The announcement of the death of Mr. Mansel Longworth Dames, which occurred on 8th January last, in his seventy-second year, will cause widespread regret among members of the Society. Mr. Dames passed the Indian Civil Service examination in 1868, and on his arrival in India in 1870 was posted to the Panjab, where he served continuously till his retirement in 1897, with an interlude in 1870, when he was on special duty with the troops during the second Afghan war.

Much of his service was passed in the trans-Indus districts, where he had opportunities for studying the Baluch race and became an authority on the various dialects of the Baluchi and Pushtu languages.

In 1891 he published a Baluchi grammar and text-book, used for many years as manuals of instruction. He contributed in 1904 to the monograph series of the Royal Asiatic Society an account of the Baluch race, and in the following year the Royal Asiatic and the Folk-Lore Societies jointly published in two volumes his Popular Poetry of the Baluchis. In 1903 he contributed to this Journal an article on “Folk-Lore of the Azores.” He was an ardent student of Buddhist art on the north-west frontier of India, and brought with him from there a fine collection of sculpture of the Gandhara period. He also did valuable service in rearranging the Buddhist rooms of the British Museum. For more than twenty years he served the Royal Asiatic Society with unflagging zeal, for part of the time as a Vice-President and Joint-Treasurer, and last year he acted as Honorary Secretary during the absence of Dr. F. W. Thomas. Since his retirement he prepared several important articles for the Encyclopaedia of Islam on subjects relating to that part of northern India which he had studied so closely. Besides Oriental languages he was an excellent Portuguese scholar, and his wide knowledge of Portugese literature, and of the philology and geography of India, was illustrated in his admirable translation and annotations of The Book of Duarte Barbosa, edited for the Hakluyt Society in 1918-21. He compiled a memoir on the Portuguese and German colonies in Africa for the use of the Peace Congress at Versailles. He was also a member of the Numismatic Society and possessed a fine collection of Oriental coins.

Mr. Longworth Dames became a member of the Folk-Lore Society in 1892, served for many years on the Council, and was a regular attendant at its meetings, where he gained universal respect as an accomplished scholar, while his geniality of manner won the affection of many friends. Like the true scholar, he was modest and unassuming, and was always ready to take infinite trouble in assisting from his stores of knowledge correspondents who desired information. His death leaves a gap in the small band of Oriental and Portuguese scholars which can never be filled.