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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/364

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

and physical changes caused by these wanderings and mixtures, and by climate, soil, food, manner of life, and all other influences. And finally, from ascertaining what has been, it will seek to determine what is to come, and to show us something of the future which the human species, in its various divisions, may expect to attain.

And this brings us to the important question of the practical value of the science. However highly we may think of the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, the common judgment of mankind will require that every science which claims its attention and regard shall justify the claim by results, or, in the Baconian phrase, by its "fruit." What, then, have been the fruits of this science of what may be termed "linguistic ethnology," even in its present condition of imperfect development? We may take two notable examples; the one of the benefit it has yielded, the other of the penalty which has followed its neglect.

When the people of Hindostan, in the last century, came under the British power, they were regarded as a debased and alien race. Their complexion reminded their conquerors of Africa. Their divinities were hideous monsters. Their social system was anti-human and detestable. Suttee, thuggee. Juggernaut, all sorts of cruel and shocking abominations, seemed to characterize and degrade them. The proudest Indian prince was, in the sight and ordinary speech of the rawest white subaltern, only a "nigger." This universal contempt was retorted with a hatred as universal, and threatening in the future most disastrous consequences to the British rule. Then came an unexpected and wonderful discovery. European philologists, studying the language of the conquered race, discovered that the classic mother-tongue of Northern Hindostan was the elder sister of the Greek, the Latin, the German, and the Celtic languages. At the same time a splendid literature was unearthed, which filled the scholars of Europe with astonishment and delight. The despised Asiatics became not only the blood-relations, but the teachers and exemplars, of their conquerors. The revulsion of feeling on both sides was immense. Mutual esteem and confidence, to a large extent, took the place of repulsion and distrust. Even in the mutiny which occurred while the change was yet in progress, a very large proportion of the native princes and people refused to take part in the outbreak. Since that time the good-will has steadily grown with the fellowship of common studies and aims. It may fairly be affirmed, at this day, that the discovery of the Sanskrit language and literature has been of more value to England, in the retention and increase of her Indian Empire, than an army of a hundred thousand men.

In an opposite quarter the teachings of ethnology have been unhappily misunderstood and disregarded. The Celtic language is known to be, in the main, an Aryan speech, one of the sisters, as has just been said, of the Sanskrit, the Greek, and the German. But politicians have failed to heed the warning which philologists have given them, that the Celts themselves are a mixed race. Their language