The objects and scope of this work are explained in the Introductory Remarks which follow the Preface. Here it is desired to
say a few words as to its history .
The book originated in a correspondence between the present
writer, who was living at Palermo, and the late lamented ARTHUR
BURNELL, of the Madras Civil Service, one of the most eminent of
modern indian scholars- who during the course of our communications was filling judicial offices in Southern and Western India,
chiefly at Tanjore. We had then met only once-at the India
Library; but he took a kindly interest in work that engaged me,
and this led to an exchange of letters, which went on after his
return' to India. About 1872-1 cannot find his earliest reference
to the subject-he mentioned that he was contemplating a vocabulary of Anglo-Indian words, and had made some collections with
that view. In reply it was stated that I likewise had long been
taking note of such words, and that a notion similar to his own
had also been at various times floating in my mind. And I proposed that we should combine our labors.
I had not, in fact, the linguistic acquirements needful for
carrying through such an undertaking alone; but I had gone
through an amount of reading that would largely help in instances
and illustrations, and had also a strong natural taste for the kind
This was the beginning of the portly double-columned edifice
which now presents itself, the completion of which my friend has
not lived to see. It was built up from our joint contributions till
his untimely death in 1882, and since then almost daily additions
have continued to be made to the material and to the structure.
The subject, indeed, had taken so comprehensive a shape, that it
was becoming difficult to say where its limits lay, or why it should
ever end, except for the old reason which had received such
poignant illustration: Ars longa, vita brevis. And so it has
been wound up at last.
The work has been so long the companion of my horae subsicivae, Ii thread running through the joys and sorrows of so many
years, in the search for material first, and then in their handling and
adjustment to the edifice-s-for their careful building up has been
part of my duty from the beginning, and the whole of the matter
has, I suppose, been written and re-written with my own hand at
least four times-and the work has been one of so much interest.
to dear friends, of whom not a few are no longer here to welcome
its appearance in print," that I can hardly speak of the work
except as mine.
Indeed, in bulk, nearly seven-eighths of it is so: But BURNELL
contributed so much of value, so much of the essential I buying, in
the search for illustration, numerous rare .and costly books which
were not otherwise accessible to him ill India; setting me, by his
example, on lines of research with which I should have else possibly remained unacquainted; writing letters with such fullness,
frequency, and interest on the details of the work up to the
summer of his death; that the measure of bulk in contribution is
no gauge of his share in the result.
In the Life of Frank Buckland occur some words in relation to
the church-bells of Ross, in Herefordshire, which may with some
aptness illustrate our mutual relation to the book:
It is said that the Man of Ross" (John Kyrle) "was present at
the casting of the tenor, or great bell, and that he took with him an old
silver tankard, which, after drinking claret and sherry, he threw in, and
had cast with the bell."
John Kyrle's was the most precious part of the metal run into the
mould, but the shaping of the mould and the larger part of the
material came from the labour of another hand.
At an early period of our joint work BURNELL sent me a fragment
of an essay on the words which formed our subject, intended as the
basis of an introduction. As it stands, this is too incomplete to
print, but I have made use of it to some extent, and given some
extracts from it in the Introduction now put forward.
The alternative title (Hobson-Jobson) which has been given to
this book (not without the expressed assent of my collaborator),
doubtless requires explanation.
A valued friend of the present" writer many years ago published a book, of great acumen and considerable originality, which
he called Three Essays, with no Author's name j and the resulting amount of circulation was such as might have been expected.
It was remarked at the time by another friend that if the volume
had been entitled A Book, by a Chap, it would have found a much
larger" body of readers. It seemed to me that A Glossary or A
Vocabulary would be equally unattractive, and that it ought to
have an alternative title at least a little more characteristic. If
the reader will turn to Hobson-Jobson in the Glossary itself, he
will find that phrase, though now rare and moribund, to be a
typical and delightful example of that class of Anglo-Indian
argot which consists of Oriental words highly assimilated, perhaps
by vulgar lips, to the English vernacular j whilst it is the more
fitted to our book, conveying, as it may, a veiled intimation of
dual authorship. At any rate, there it is; and at this period my
feeling has come to be that such is the book's name, nor could it
well have been anything else.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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