Page:Poets of John Company.djvu/19

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INTRODUCTION.

Quench'd is his lamp of varied lore,
That loved the light of song to pour:
A distant and a deadly shore
Has Leyden's cold remains.

A third writer, Henry Derozio, whose birth and education in Calcutta sealed his connection with the East, was an enthusiastic follower of Byron. The work of these authors falls within the period preceding Macaulay's arrival in India. The year 1835, the date of the latter' famous minute on education which prompted Lord William Bentinck's decision to introduce English in Indian schools and colleges, may be said to close the first period of English verse production in India. From this date until the middle of the century, poetry began to serve a less serious purpose than that exemplified in the work of Jones, Heber and Leyden. As social life began to develop in the larger cities, English verse became the medium of wit and satire. Of this kind Henry Meredith Parker is indubitably the first and best exponent. His contemporaries were John William Kaye, the founder in 1844 of the Calcutta Review, Henry Whitelock Torrens and David Lester Richardson.

Soon after the middle of the century the Mutiny revived the interest of England in India; and at this time two authors received their inspiration from the East, and surpassed all their predecessors in the quality and variety of their work. These were Sir Edwin Arnold and Sir Alfred Lyall. The first acted as Principal of the Dekhan College in Poona from 1856 to 1861; and, in this brief period, he developed a passion for India and its people that coloured all his later writing. His shorter poems reveal a sympathetic insight into Oriental character, and an unusual power of interpretation and description. In his more ambitious work he was influenced by the same ideas and aspirations as Sir William Jones, and paid as generous a tribute to the dignity and beauty of Eastern classical poetry. His occasional verse, lyrical, descriptive and narrative, is in its combined bulk and value, finer than anything produced in India before or