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7'2 WARREN HASTINGS.

was deeply skilled. With the Sanscrit he was not himself ac-
quainted; but those who first brought that language to the know-
ledge of European students owed much to his encouragement. It
was under his protection that the Asiatic Society commenced its
honourable career. That distinguished body selected him to be
its first president; but, with excellent taste and feeling, he de-
clined the honour in favour of Sir William Jones. But the chief
advantage which the students of Oriental letters derived from his
patronage remains to be mentioned. The Pundits of Bengal had
always looked with great jealousy on the attempts of foreigners to
pry into those mysteries which were locked up in the sacred dia-
lect. The Brahminical religion had been persecuted by the Mahom-
medans. What the Hindoos knew of the spirit of the Portuguese
government might warrant them in apprehending persecution from
Christians. That apprehension, the wisdom and moderation of
Hastings removed. He was the first foreign ruler who succeeded
in gaining the confidence of the hereditary priests of India, and
who induced them to lay open‘to English scholars the secrets of
the old Brahminical theology and jurisprudence.

It is indeed impossible to deny that, in the great art of inspiring
large masses of human beings with confidence and attachment, no
ruler ever surpassed Hastings. If he had made himself popular
with the English by giving up the Bengalees to extortion and op-
pression, or if, on the other hand, he had conciliated the Bengalees
and alienated the English, there would have been no cause for
wonder. \Vhat is peculiar to him is that, being the chief of a small
band of strangers who exercised boundless power over a great in-
digenous population, he made himself beloved both by the subject
many and by the dominant few. The affection felt for him by the
civil service was singularly ardent and constant. Through all his
disasters and perils, his brethren stood by him with stedfast loy-
alty. The army, at the same time, loved him as armies have
seldom loved any but the greatest chiefs who have led them to
victory. Even in his disputes with distinguished military men, he
could always count on the support of the military profession.
While such was his empire over the hearts of his countrymen, he
enjoyed among the natives a popularity, such as other governors
have perhaps better merited, but such as no other governor has
been able to attain. He spoke their vernacular dialects with fa-
rrility and precision. He was intimately acquainted with their

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