Panjim and Margao (a large town in the province of Salsette, about fifteen miles south-east of Goa), are the head-quarters of the Indo-Portuguese muses. The former place boasts of mathematical and medical schools, and others in which the elements of history, and a knowledge of the Portuguese, Latin, English, French, and Maharatta languages are taught gratis. The students are, generally speaking, proficients in the first (49), tolerable in the second, and execrable in the third and fought dialects above specified. As regards the Maharattas, the study of its literature has been rendered obligatory by government, which however, in its wisdom, appears to have forgotten, or perhaps never knew, that certain little aids called grammars and dictionaries are necessary to those who would attain any degree of proficiency in any tongue. For the benefit of the fair sex there is a school at Panjim. Dancing and drawing masters abound. Music also is generally studied, but the Portuguese here want the "furore," as the Italians call it, the fine taste, delicate ear, and rich voice of Southern Europe.
At Panjim there is also a printing office, called the Imprensa Naçional, whence issues a weekly gazette, pompously named the Boletim do Gorerao do Estado da India. It is neatly printed, and what with advertisements, latest intelligence borrowed from the Bombay papers, and government orders, it seldom wants matter. At the Imprensa also, may be found a few Portuguese books for sale, but they are, generally speaking, merely elementary, besides being extravagantly dear.
Physic as well as jurisprudence may be studied at Margao. The same town also has schools of theology, philosophy, Latin, Portuguese, and the rude beginnings of a Societade Estudiosa, or Literary Society. The latter is intended fro learned discussion: it meets twice a week, does not publish but keeps MS copies of its transactions, and takes from each member an annual subscription of about 1£.
Upon the whole, education does not thrive in the Indo-Portuguese settlement. It seldom commences before the late age of nine or ten, and is very soon ended. After entering some profession, and coquetting a little with modern languages and general literature, study is considered a useless occupation. Moreover, if our observation deceive us not, the description of talent generally met with at Goa is rather of the specious and shallow order. A power of quick perception, an instinctive readiness of induction, and even a good memory, are of little value when opposed to constitutional inertness, and a mind which never proposes to itself any high or great object. Finally, the dispiriting influence of poverty weighs heavy upon the student's ambition, and where no rewards are offered to excellence, no excellence can be expected. The romantic, chivalrous, and fanatic rage for propagating Christianity which animated the first conquerors of Goa, and led their immediate descendants to master the languages and literature of the broad lands won by their sharp swards, has long since departed, in all human probability for ever.
The religion of Goa is Roman Catholic. The primate is appointed from home, and is expected to pass the rest of his life in exile. In the ceremonies of the church we observed a few, but not very important deviations from the Italian ritual. The holy week and other great festivals are still kept up, but the number of ferie (religious holidays) has of late been greatly diminished, and the poverty of the people precludes any attempt at display on these occasions. All ecclesiastical matters are settled with the utmost facility. By the constitution lately granted, the clergy have lost the power of excommunication. The Papal see, who kept so jealous and watchful an eye upon Goa in the days of her wealth and grandeur, seems now almost to have forgotten the existence of her froward daughter. (50) As regards the effect of religion upon the community in general, we should say that the mild discipline of the priesthood has produced so far a happy result, that the free-thinking spirit roused by ecclesiastical intolerance in Europe, is all but unknown here.
The priests always wear out of doors the clerical cap and cassock. They are now very poorly provided for, and consequently lead regular lives. The archbishop's prison is almost always empty, and the amount of profligacy which in Rome would be smiled at in a polite young abbate, would certainly incur the severest penalty at Goa. It is said that the clergy is careful to maintain the reputation of the profession, and that any little peccadilloes, such as will and must occur in a warm climate, and an order of celibataires, are studiously concealed from public observation. As might be expected, the ecclesiastical party prefers Don Miguel to Donna Maria, the favourite of the laity, the more so as that "excellent son of Don John of Portugal," were he even to set his august foot on the floors of the Adjuda, would probably humour them in such trifles as readmitting the Jesuits, and reestablishing the Inquisition. The only objection to the holy profession at Goa is, that the comparatively idle life led by its members offers strong inducements to a poor, careless, and indolent people, who prefer its inutility to pursuits more advantageous to themselves, as well as more profitable to the commonweal.
The ecclesiastical education lasts about seven years, three of which are devoted to studying Latin, one is wasted upon moral philosophy, dialectics and metaphysics, and the remainder is deemed sufficient for theology. On certain occasions, students at the different seminaries are taught the ceremonies of the church, and lectured in the Holy Scriptures. There are two kinds of pupils, the resident, who wear the clerical garb, and are limited in number, and the non-resident, who dress like the laity, unless they intend to take orders. In this course of education much stress is laid upon, and pride taken in, a knowledge of Latin, whose similarity to Portuguese enables the student to read and speak it with peculiar facility. Many authors are perused, but the niceties of scholarship are unknown, good editions of the poets and orators being unprocurable here. Few Goanese write the classical language well; and though all can master the words, they seldom read deeply enough to acquire the idiom. And lastly, the strange pronunciation of the consonants in Portuguese is transferred to Latin, imparting to it an almost unrecognisable sound. The clergy belonging to the country, of course understand and speak the Coneanee Maharattas. Sermons are sometimes preached, and services performed in this dialect: it boasts of a printed volume of oraçoens (prayers) dated 1660, for the benefit of the lowest and most ignorant classes.
The military profession is by no means a favorite one, on account of poor pay and slow promotion. The aspirante, or cadet, enters the service as a private, wears the uniform of that rank, and receives about 10s. per mensem for attending lectures. After learning Portuguese, the course of study is as follows:--1st Term. Geometry, Trigonometry (plane and spherical), Geodesy and Surveying.
Infantry cadets study geometry and field-fortification during two or three years. Those intended for the Artillery and Engineers, go through all the course above mentioned, except navigation. Drawing, in all its branches, is taught by professors who are, generally speaking, retired officers superintended by a committee. After passing their examinations, the names of the cadets are put down in the Roster, and they are promoted, in due order, to the rank of alferez, or ensign.
The total number of the Goanese army may be estimated at about two thousand (51) men on actual duty, besides the Mouros, or Moors, who act as police and guards at Panjim. The regiments are--two of infantry, stationed at Bicholim and Ponda; two battalions of caçadores (chasseurs not mounted), at Margao and Mapuea; a provincial battalion, and a corps of artillery at Panjim. In each regiment there are six companies, composed of between sixty and seventy men: a full band reckons thirty musicians. The officers are about as numerous as in a British corps on foreign service.
The army is poorly paid; (52) the privates receive no salary when in sick quarters, and the consequence is that they are frequently obliged to beg their bread. We cannot therefore wonder that the European soldiery is considered the least respectable part of the whole community. Most of the officers belong to some family resident in India; consequently, they do not live upon their pay. Moreover, they have no expensive establishments to keep up, and have little marching or change of stations.
The corps are seldom paraded; once every two days is considered ample work during the cold season. Except on particular occasions, there are no mounted officers on the ground, a peculiarity which gives a remarkably "National Guard" like appearance to the field. They are well dressed, but very independent in such movements as in carrying the sword, or changing flanks: after a few manúuvers, which partake more of the character of company than battalion exercise, the men order arms, and the captains, lieutenants, and ensigns all fall out for a few minutes, to smoke a leaf-full of tobacco, and chat with the commanding officer. Then they return to their places, and the parade proceeds. The appearance of the privates on the drill-ground is contemptible in the extreme. The smallest regiment of our little Maharattas would appear tolerable sized men by the side of them; and as for a corps of Bengalees, it ought to be able to walk over an equal number of such opponents without scarcely a thrust of the bayonet. Europeans and natives, in dirty clothes, and by no means of a uniform colour--some fiercely "bearded like the pard," some with moustachios as thick as broomsticks, others with meek black faces, religiously shaven and shorn--compose admirably heterogeneous companies which, moreover, never being sized from flanks to centre, look as jagged as a row of shark's teeth. Drill is the last thing thought of. The sergeant, when putting his recruits through their manual and platoon, finds it necessary to refer to a book. When the pupils are not sufficiently attentive, a spiteful wring of the ear, or poke between the shoulders, reminds them of their duty. To do justice to their spirit, we seldom saw such admonition received in silence; generally, it was followed by the description of dialogue affected by two irritated fishwives. So much for the outward signs of discipline. As regards the effects of drill, the loose, careless, and draggling way in which the med stand and move, would be the death of a real English martinet. We could not help smiling at the thought of how certain friends of ours who, after a march of fifteen miles, will keep an unhappy regiment ordering and shouldering arms for half an hour in front of their tents, would behave themselves, if called to command such corps.
Till lately, no books of tactics have been published for the instruction of the Goanese army. At present there are several, chiefly elementary, and translated from the English and French. The manual and platoon, the sword exercise, and other small works were prepared by Major G----n, an officer and linguist of some talent. We saw few publications upon the subject of military law. Courts-martial are rare compared with the absurd number yearly noted in the annals of the Indian army, where a boy of eighteen scarcely ever commits a fault for which he would be breeched at school, without being solemnly tried upon the charge of "conduct highly unbecoming an officer and a gentleman."
To conclude the subject of the Goanese army, it is evident that there are two grand flaws in its composition. The officers are compelled to be scientific, not practical men, and the soldiers are half-drilled. This propensity for mathematics is, of course, a European importation. Beginning with France, it has spread over the Western Continent till at las, like sundry other new-fangled fashions, it has been seized upon and applied to the British army. Why a captain commanding a company or a colonel in charge of a battalion, should be required to have Geometry, History, and Geography at his fingers' ends, we cannot exactly divine. With respect to drill, it may be remarked that, when imperfectly taught, it is worse than useless to the soldier. We moderns seem determined to discourage the personal prowess, gymnastics, and the perpetual practise of weapons in which our fore-fathers took such pride. We are right to a certain extent: the individual should be forced to feel that his safety lies in acting in concert with others. At the tame time, in our humble opinion, they carry the principle too far who would leave him destitute of the means of defending himself when obliged to act singly. How many good men and true have we lost during the late wars, simply in consequence of our neglecting to instruct them in the bayonet exercise! And may not this fact in some wise account for the difficulty experienced of late by disciplined troops in contending with semi-civilised tribes, whose military studies consist of athletic exercises which prepare the body for hardship and fatigue, and the skillful use of weapons that ensures success in single combat? The English, French, and Russians have, within the last fifteen years, all suffered more or less severely from the undrilled valour, and the irregular attacks of the Affghans, Arabs, and Circassians.
Young aspirants to the honours which Justinian gives, have no public schools to frequent, nor can they study gratis. In a community which so decidedly prefers coppers to knowledge, this is perhaps one of the most judicious measures imaginable for limiting the number of this troublesome order. The law students frequent private establishments at Margäo, and a course of two years is generally considered sufficient to qualify them for practice. After a very superficial examination in the presence of a committee composed of two judges and a president, they receive, if found competent, a diploma, and proceed to seek employment in one of the courts.
Justice at Goa, as in British India, seems to have adapted herself to the peculiarities of the country much better than one might have expected from a character so uncompromising as hers is generally represented to be. The great difference between us and the Portuguese is, that whereas we shoot and hang upon the authority of our civil and military courts, no Goanese can be brought to the gallows till the death-warrant, bearing her majesty's signature, arrives from Europe,--a pleasant state of suspense for the patient! Murder and sacrilege are the only crimes which lead to capital punishment: for lesser offences, criminals are transported to the Mozambique, or imprisoned in the jail--a dirty building, originally intended for a Mint--or simply banished from Goa.
Those covetous of the riches which Galen is said to grant, are prepared for manslaughter--to use a Persian phrase--by a course of five years' study. They are expected to attend lectures every day, except on Thursdays and Sundays, the principal religious festivals, and a long vacation that lasts from the fifteenth of March to the middle of June. On the first of April every year, the students are examined, and two prizes are given. The professors are four in number, three surgeons and one physician, together with two assistants. The course commences with Anatomy and Physiology; during the second year Materia Medica and Pharmacy are studied; the surgical and chemical branches of the profession occupy the third; and the last is devoted to Pathology and Medical Jurisprudence. The hospital must be visited every day during the latter half of the course. It is a large edifice, situated at the west end of the town, close to the sea, but by no means, we should imagine, in a favourable position for health, as a channel of fetid mud passes close under the walls. The building can accommodate about three hundred patients and is tolerably but not scrupulously clean. It contains two wards, one for surgical, the other for medical cases, a chapel, an apartment for sick prisoners and a variety of different lecture-rooms. After his four years of study, the pupil is examined, and either rejected or presented with a diploma and permission to practise.
The elementary works upon the subjects of Anatomy and Materia Medica are, generally speaking, Portuguese; the proficient, however, is compelled to have recourse to French books, which have not been translated into his vernacular tongue. The English system of medicine is universally execrated, and very justly. Dieting, broths, and ptisanes, cure many a native whose feeble constitution would soon sink beneath our blisters, calomel, bleeding, and drastic purges. As might be expected, all the modern scientific refinements, or quackeries, are known here only by name. We were surprised, however, by the general ignorance of the properties of herbs and simples--a primitive science in which the native of India is, usually speaking, deeply read.
The principal Oriental tongues studied by the early Portuguese in their mania for converting the heathens were the Malabar, Maharatta, Ethiopic, and Japanese, the dialects of Congo, and the Canary Isles, the Hebrew, and the Arabic. The Portuguese Jews, in the fifteenth century, were celebrated for their proficiency in Biblical, Talmudic, and Rabbinical lore; and the work of João de Souza, entitled, "Documentos Arabios de Historia Portugueza copiades dos originaes da Torre do' Tombo," is a fair specimen of Orientalism, considering the early times in which it was composed. Of late years, Portuguese zeal for propagating the faith depressed by poverty, and worn out by the slow and sure spiritual ris inertiæ, which the natives of the East have opposed to the pious efforts of Modern Europe, appears to have sunk into the last stage of decline, and with it their ancient ardour for the study of so many, and, in some cases, such unattractive languages.
Our case is very different from theirs. In addition to religious incentives, hundreds of our nation have more solid and powerful inducements to labour held out to them. We fondly hope and believe that the days are passed when Oriental study and ruin were almost synonymous. Within the last few years we have more or less facilitated the acquisition, and rifled the literature of between thirty and forty eastern dialects--a labour of which any nation might be proud. Our industry, too, is apparently still unabated. Societies for the translation and publication of new works, Oriental libraries; and, perhaps, the most useful step of all, the lithographic process, which has lately supplanted the old and unseemly moveable types, are fast preparing a royal road for the Oriental learner. It may be observed that the true means of promoting the study is to diminish its labojriousness, and still more its expense. So far we have been uncommonly successful. For instance, and excellent and correct lithograph of Mirkhond's celebrated history, the "Rauzat el Safa," may now be bought for 3l or 4l; a few years ago the student would have paid probably 70l or 80l for a portion of the same work in the correct MS.
At the same time we quite concur in the opinion of the eminent Orientalist, (53) who declared, ex cathedrâ, that our literary achievements in this branch bear no flattering proportion to the vastness of our means as a nation. It is true, to quote one of many hard cases, that we must send to Germany or Russia for grammars and publications in the Affghan language, although the country lies at our very doors. But the sause of this is the want of patronage and assistance, not any deficiency in power or ability. There are many unknown D'Herbelots in India, unfortunately England has not one Ferdinand. (54)