Frances Waddington Bunsen.

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has displayed itself the most splendidly, the most clearly and
completely, it must also be connected and continuous in its
manifestations. This enquiry, originating from the centre
of historical contemplation, — ^whether inwardly according to
the laws of universal history, or outwardly according to the
possibility of establishing facts by monuments, especially the
philological (in so far as philology is admitted to be the
educating principle), — ^would seem to give the same result,
rrom whatever point of view considered, three principal
divisions present themselves, which together form that cen-
tral group : — the Grermanic nations, the ancient Greeks and
Romans, and (for the earliest period) the Median-Persian-
Indian race. For this portion, no nation can be taken in
preference to the Hebrew, were it only on account of their
records ; and yet their significance in universal history
consists in their being the means of preparation for Chris-
tianity, rather than in their rank in humanity, or their dis-
cernible condition of developement.

In whatever light this group may be viewed, its several
members, nearly allied as they are to each other, form one
great family of nations, and of languages, which may be
traced through the various ages of history, and whose con-
nection is the more to be noted and dwelt upon, because of
aU records those of language are the most important and in-
dispensable towards establishing certain philological results.

Should it be possible to raise upon this basis a plan of
life-study, the philological foundation can in the first place
alone come in question ; and believing as I do, that to this
end a journey to the East and residence in Calcutta would be
necessary, the following arrangements would seem the best.

The study of the Germanic languages in their fullest
extent I should desire before aU others, to carry up to the
point essential to my object : which being in general only
to ascertain the distinction between the ancient and the

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modem (in short merely linguistic), I could not contemplate CHAP,
returning to at a later period; this study being intended
to produce the result, firsiy of fixing the place of the various
races and nationalities, particularly of the German and Scan
dinavian, according to language, and thereby ascertaining
the connection of the various branches of Grermanic philology;
and, secondly y of contributing towards a general grammatical
foundation for all. With reference to the latter, I have
peculiarly studied the Icelandic.

I consider a twofold preparation to be called for, pre-
vious to treading the soil of the East. First, as to lan-
guage, I will begin with the Persian, which, whether from
the scientific or practical point of view, calls for earliest
attention, as being the medium of communication; and I
should devote all my efforts to master Ferdusi, in particular
to the philological and critical interpretation of the first and
mythical portion of the poem, as most important ; for which
study the MS. in my possession famishes opportunity, and
the places for study would be, first — Paris, and afterwards
Oxford. Next would follow the study of Sanscrit, for which
only England could afford opportunity. Only after the acquisi-
tion of these two languages could a judgement be formed as to
the importance of the Zend- writings, and the possibility of a
critical commentary upon them, as well as a grammatical
exposition of the idiom, which, again, would depend upon the
question, whether or not, before the journey to India, the
manuscripts of Anquetil du Perron and his own (possibly
unavailable) commentary could be utilised.

Together with this laiiguage-labour (which, without reck-
oning the Germanic portion, might be completed in three
years) the remaining half of the philological reconstruction
must go hand-in-hand, — ^that is, the collecting and critically
analysing the facts relating to Oriental nationalities, which
lie scattered amid the remnants of Greek and Latin litera-
ture, with a view to discerning their origin and connection,
and also with reference to dvil and religious polity, for all
which enquiries I may reckon upon the means of furtherance
in England, France, and Jtaly.

A systematic and connected study of classical antiquity,
which ever remains the central point of all philological
contemplation, must be carried on unceasingly, however

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CHAP, restricted the compass, during the period primarily devoted
^^ to Oriental pursuits, and with that object I would commence
with the critical examination of Herodotus, and have pre-
pared especially for the Persica and ^gyptiaca.

A residence of three years in Calcutta (after the foremen-
tioned preparation) would give the opportunity of m a. ]ring
use of the collections there — of finding help towards becom-
ing acquainted with the languages and nations, and of ac-
quiring the more essential records.

A letter dated Berlin, Jan. 27, 1816, expresses warm
acknowledgements to his sister for her successful arrange-
ments for the celebration of the ' silver wedding,' and for
the full account she had written of the family festival,
into the pleasure of which the parents would seem to
have fully entered. The scene was soon, alas ! to
change. A violent attack of rheumatic gout, to which
his father was subject, brought on a condition of
debility of body and mind which continued, only vary-
ing in degree, until he was released by death four years
later. His son felt the shock severely — it must have
been the first sorrow of his life.

And have I indeed looked upon him for the last time,
as the ideal image of a fine old age, in health of body and
mind ? All, aU that is past ! Since I quitted the home of
childhood, the most earnest wish of ray soul has been, that
he might have joy in me and in the conditions of my life ;
and now that my hopes and prospects brighten, he is become
incapable of rejoicing over anything with fiill clearness or
perception ! This state of suflFering pains me doubly, fi*om
its cause and nature — first because it has most probably been
brought on, as you justly observe, by his unremitting and
unsparing exertions by day and night ; and next, because he
is tormented by a number of anxieties, which he did not
allow to prey upon his mind, as long as it was in its native
unconquerable vigour. On this account, your being with him
is an inexpressible comfort to me, as I know that you alone
possess influence enough over his feelings, to quiet down his
distress into a mere sadness, and bring him back to rest in

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God and in the divine Mediator, and perhaps even to tranquil CHAP,
consciousness ; so that you can, better than any spiritual ^'
guide, smooth his way to death.

Mr. Aster, anticipating his promised return to
Europe and to his friend by fully three months, arrived
at Paris towards the end of November 1815. It was
some time before Bunsen received his invitation to join
him there, and this seems to have disconcerted the plans
he had meanwhile formed for the winter. At first hopes
were entertained that Mr. Astor would be induced to pay
a lengthened visit to Berlin, then such an intellectual
centre as it has probably not been before or since. A pro-
tracted correspondence took place between them. When
at length it became clcvar to Bunsen that Mr. Astor
had resolved to await his arrival at Paris, he started
from Berlin for that city. After spending a few days
with his Mends Becker, Hey, Agricola, &c., at Gotha,
with Lucke and others at Gottingen, and with his sorely
stricken family at Corbach, Bunsen made all haste to
cross the French frontier. The following letters were
written in the course of this journey : —

Bunsen to Brandts.


Gottingen : 10th March, 1816.

Beloved Pbiend ! — This day is the anniversary of an hour
of crisis, as strongly fixed in my memory as in yours ; the
origin not only of closer confidence and more intimate
friendship, but of the peculiar love and estimation which
binds my whole inward being indissolubly to yours. For
even as tiie intensity of your suffering gave me occasion, to
see more clearly than before into the depths of faithfulness
and self-devotedness in your mind, so did also the moral
energy, so eminently and powerfully developed in your manful
struggle with grief, seize upon my mind with sympathetic
attraction. When God shall send me sorrow, should I learn
to endure and combat, should I ever attain to the power and
the strength which I ask of Gk)d, I shall chiefly acknow-
ledge the benefit derived fix)m the contemplation of your
doing and suffering in the past year.

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To the Same.

Frankfort: January, 1816.

That I am here, and wherefore I came, you will have learnt
from the diary in which I have written of the concerns of our
friends. These lines therefore are devoted to my dearest
friend, to yourself, my beloved Brandis, and to your sorrows.
I know that your wound is fresh, and I need not apprehend,
by my mention of it, to tear it open anew ; for a man has
nothing more sacred, of all that is essentially his own, than
his grief. Let us th^oi again clearly utter the fact, that Grod
saw not good to grant your heart's desire ; therein lies an
abyss of suffering for your faithful and deeply sensitive nature,
and also the beginning of a possibility of tranquillisation and
of consolation. With the removal of hope, uncertainty (the
most terrible of evils) has also been removed ; wherefore,
renouncing all delusion, let the mind's eye take in the whole
affliction ; and thereby, and therewith only, discern and re-
ceive the pervading ray of divine light and strength within
us. Consider your calling, by means of hard-earned power
and virtue to further the work of Grod in suffering humanity;
consider our divine Forerunner and Example. If you place
Him before your eyes, and feel the influence of blessing
which flows from this immediate representation of Gk)d
through the contemplative soul, and consider how you are
called, more than many and most, to the exercise of lie work
of love, and that you have not far to look for opportunity, you
cannot fail to experience the consoling power of the Spirit of
Grod. I can only refer you to yourself: — ^but though mis-
trustful of my ovm slumbering energy, I yet go forward with
integrity of will and aroused spirit to meet my own time of
trial. My own words must fall back upon me, if I should in
my own case forget them ; you must then place, not only
these my convictions but yourself before me. First, however,
begin with the unhappy Schulze, who knows and will know
nothing of that inward power, or of the demands of moral
obligation. He is indeed wretched.

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Bunsen to 1m Sister Ch/ristiana. CHAP.

[Translation.] ^^•

Metz : 2nd April, 1816.

[After thanking for advice given, he continues : — ] I have
thus received another proof, though for my conviction I
needed it not, what a treasure of experience, judgement, and
fortitude lies in your mind. Consider well, that whosoever
has such gifte, should rejoice in the life of usefdlness pointed
out by Gk>d, and not be cast down, but joyfully rest in Him. I
promise you work enough to do with me, and I will try to
prove to you that I can learn to profit by your counsels.

Amid the confused sounds of lamentation, abuse and com-
plaint of the French that one hears, one would fain stop
one's ears. But I have contrived to conciliate my travelling
companions and to listen to the detail of their grievances.
Some will in a degree hear reason, others not at aU ; but as
to admitting that they can have been beaten in a regular
battle, that is out of the question with every one alike.
There are many families still at Metz of German origin, the
town having become French only since 1550 ; but the people
will not believe that, as they know nothing of history. Only at
two hours' distance from Metz German is still the language
of the people — but, it is true, everybody speaks French
as weU.

At Paris he was received by Mr. Astor with all the
cordiality of their long-tried intimacy. But there was
a difficulty, and Mr. Astor solved it in the most con-
siderate manner. Despairing of the arrival of his
friend, he had engaged himself to accompany a few of
his countrymen on a three months' tour to Rome, vid
Florence, thus giving Bunsen time to conclude his
Persian studies at Paris, under the auspices of Silvestre
de Sacy, at that time, probably, the greatest Oriental
scholar in Europe. It was agreed that Bunsen and
Astor should meet in Italy three months later.

Btmsen to Brandis.

Paris: 27th April, 1816.

... Of myself I must teU you, that I am deeper in work

than ever. In order to get well into the course of study, and at

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CHAP, the same time to abridge the time of waiting, I have ventured
upon great, and what you may reckon audacious, under-
takings. At first I only planned following de Sacy's lectures
on Perdusi, which the Persian scholars in general do not
attend, but which he carries on with two Prench pupils, one
of whom has been eight, the other twelve years studying
under him. To the great surprise of the latter I appeared
among them, as a listener, a week ago ; and to their vexation
(because I was a cause of delay) in the next following lecture
(which was yesterday), I already translated my portion ; and
as each time from 170 to 190 verses are gone through, there
was enough to satisfy my appetite. But thereupon de Sacy
would insist upon conducting me also into Meschoud and
Sadi, partly from love to the subject, as he is cfo 8acy, and
partly from the sort of noble pride the Prench have in showing,
how much they are willing to do for one ; besides he thinks
much of Germany and of his reputation there. I therefore
entered upon those lectures also, and having prepared myself
as well as I could, and thus understood something of Sadi, I
shaU next week take my place in the ranks, and translate with
the others. But this step drew another after it. Por the un-
derstanding of the two latter poets a knowledge of Arabic is
indispensable, if the thing is not to be done superficially, on
account of the use of Arabic roots and idioms. Wherefore
de Sacy proposed to me to attend an Arabic lecture, which
he would as much as possible arrange for me. As I had
now got well into the work, and felt that I should be able
later to read on in Perdusi by myself, when I should have
had the necessary practice, I accepted the offer, and shall
begin next week to translate Pilpaiy and possibly afterwards
the Koran. When I now add that I continue twice a week
to read Persian with Langl^s, you will be aware that fiom
morning till night I have enough to do in preparation and
repetition : and this I do, with fury and delight, because
I must get on, and I do get on. I have arranged my plan
to my mind, with consideration of what I can learn here
better than anywhere else. I work in the morning from five
till ten ; then, in the garden of the Luxembourg (only three
minutes' walk), I drink my coffee. Then I work again, till
five o'clock, when I dine. My hours are ftx^m nine to ten
for Persian in the College de IVance (close by) and from three

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to five with Langl^s, at the distance of a quarter of an honr's CHAP.

wait The Arabic is on Thursday from twelve to two ; and

between times I read MSS. at the Biblioth^que, or go to
Schlabemdorf. Prom seven to half-past nine, or at the
utmost ten, I am about some vmting exercise ; later I mean
to give that time to the French theatre, for the sake of
improvement in the language.

Bunsen to his Sister ChrisUana.


Paris: nth May, 1816.

I thought I should have studied here aU these three
months only one language, the ancient Persian, that in
which my manuscript is vmtten. But the modem Persian is
in another respect important, as being in the East what the
French language is, or was, in Europe, — that which every
person of ciQtivation speaks. This modem Persian consists
more than half of a mixture of Arabic, a language related to
the Hebrew like the Danish to the Grerman, which therefore
must be learnt together with the Persian. It had been my
project to learn Arabic in England ; but Professor de Sacy
here has met my vrtshes in so very kind and obliging a
manner, and his method of teaching is so admirable, that I
have been induced to attempt that also in this place, and I
have to thank Grod for such a blessing upon my endeavour,
that my progress has been more considerable than I had
hoped. I may look forward to being able, when I leave Paris
after three months, to read both the ancient and modem
Persian and to speak the latter. Thus very possibly I may
gain a whole year in my preparation for India, for I should
not require to learn any other language in Europe, having
made out that of the Indian tongues very little could be
acquired at Paris, and to appear at Calcutta as a learner with
respect to those would be no disgrace, as I might even
surprise them there by being prepared in Persian. There
and in England I should appear with no other pretension
than that of being a Greek and Latin scholar, saying nothing
about what I may have studied and learnt besides. Tou
know that the English demand of every man to make one
thing his profession, and one who pretends to many at a
time is considered empty and not to be trusted. My prize

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CHAP, essay (whicli I intend to improve and complete and reprint)
treats of the connection between ancient Indian and Grecian
laws and religious mysteries, and will thus prove doubly
useful to me. I look upon going from Italy to England with
Astor as fixed ; after that he means to be for some months in
Germany, — * you can remain in England and in Germany as
long as you wish (Astor said) ; but then, go to India by way
of America ; my father wishes to see you there,' and would
send you on to India in one of his vessels.* As to this point,
I have come to no decision. I am perfectly well, and arrange
my day as I like ; work from six in the morning till four in
the afternoon, only in the course of that time having a walk
in the garden of the Luxembourg, where I also often study ;
from four to six I dine and walk, from six to seven sleep ; —
from seven to eleven work again. In that manner I can make
it possible to work in the evening, which otherwise I never
could. I have overtaken in study some of the French stu-
dents who had begun a year ago. God be thanked for His
help ! Before I go to bed I read a chapter in the New
Testament (last night Corinthians xii.), in the morning on
rising one in the Old Testament; yesterday I began the
Psalms from the first.

To the Same.

Paris: 15th May, 18ia

Brandis is on the way to Italy with Niebuhr, as Secretary
of Legation, and must now be in the south of Germany. It
is one of my most pleasing prospects in going to Italy
that I shall find him in Kome ; for of all my friends, he is
the one with whom I have most shared joy and sorrow at
Gottingen, at Copenhagen, and Berlin ; and each variety of
relation has but increased day by day my love and esteem
for him. We are probably the only two of the whole body
of friends capable of sharing a room between us, which is
his merit, and not mine.

On June 15, when preparing to leave Paris, and
proceed to Florence, to meet Mr. Astor, according to
the promise given, he writes : —

I can now help myself on alone in all that I had in-
tended to learn here, as I have learnt in these two montha

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the method of study, and have become acquainted with the
means of help ; and an equally considerable gain has been
the acquaintance of French Oriental scholars, and of a young
German (Freytag), who is become a real friend, so that I
can now reckon an Orientalist among my friends; and,
lastly, of the celebrated and illustrious Alexander de Hum-
boldt, . . . who intends in a few years to visit Asia, where I
may hope to meet him. He has been beyond measure kind
and obliging to me, and from him I shall receive the best
recommendations for Italy and England, as well as from
his brother, now Prussian Minister in London. Lastly, the
winter in Bome may become to me, by the presence of Nie-
buhr, more instructive and fruitful than in any other place.
Thus has God ordained all things for me for the best, accord-
ing to TTifl will, not mine, and hx better than I deserve.

A letter dated August 6, at Florence, announces his
arrival there on July 23, after a journey, tedious
enough according to modem notions, but which he
designates as prosperous and agreeable, even though
he had experienced, as far as the frontier of Italy, an
uninterrupted course of cold and rainy weather, 'so
that cloaked and clothed as in winter, he had yet
shivered in the midst of figs and olives.' It was on
this journey that he was placed in momentary embar-
rassment, by his resemblance to Napoleon I. and his
family, at one of the stopping-places of the Diligence
between Lyons and Marseilles. He was called out by
the police fix)m the table (fhSte^ where he sat with his
companions of the Diligence, and subjected to close
examination, as a supposed NapoUonide^ having, in spite
of prohibition, crossed the frontier from Germany : the
testimony, however, of all his fellow-travfeUers to his
having occupied a place in the Diligence in their com-
pany all the way from Paris, and of one of them, that
he had seen him at Paris, was finally admitted to be

In Florence he found at the banker's a letter from
Mr. Astor, and immediately after he met his fiiend in


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person, who had left Rome precipitately, on his way
to New York, in consequence of his father's having
urged his speedy return. The disappointment on both
sides was great. Mr. Astor renewed in the most pres-
sing manner his request that Bunsen would accompany
him to New York. When Mr. Astor found Bunsen
obdurate about not leaving Europe, until better pre-
pared for his Oriental journey, he took leave of him.
The friends parted to meet again in Heidelberg, after a
lapse of forty-one years.

After having seen Mr. Astor depart, Bunsen was
left to reflections sufficiently discouraging to have
crushed the energies of almost any other less buoyant
nature — ^his own cherished prospects broken up, and his
sister's letters giving the most heartrending details of
the bodily sufferings as well as the mental decay of his
father. His letters, however, make it evident that he
found relief of mind in resuming the studies broken off
at Paris, and refreshment of body in the Galleries of
Florence, under the extreme and sudden heat of the
weather, admitting that his not having been able to
sleep, during the first week of his stay, had been more
the consequence of a multitude of anxious thoughts,
than of the temperature. He labours to quiet the
apprehensions of his sister, assuring her that having
received this check is a sort of consolation, as it had
seemed to him ' unfair to be the only fortunate indi-
vidual in a family visited by sickness and trial of every
sort, which he had not been able effectually to relieve.*

By the late event my soul has been brought into a whole-
some shade, far more beneficial than the former sunshine of
fortune ; a feeling of repose, tranquillity, and peace of mind
steals over me, and I am led to seek the inward, in pro-
portion as I am deprived of the outward, support. And thus
I become aware more than ever, of the power that Grod has
placed in me, and also how much I have been wanting in the

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full exertion and worthy use (in and through God) of that CHAP,
strength which He has given. The only difference I find ^^'
as regards my studies is, that I can now work much more
than in the former condition of things. The forenoon is
devoted entirely to the Persian language ; then I rest from
exertion,* and strengthen myself in contemplation of the

Online LibraryFrances Waddington BunsenA memoir of Baron Bunsen → online text (page 9 of 58)