In transcribing the following paragraphs from the Internet Archive online version of The Imperial Gazetteer’s entry on Hindustan, I have expanded the abbreviations for easier reading and added paragraphing and links. This mid-Victorian reference work has substantial sections on both India and Hindustan, and it is not always clear how Victorians distinguished between the two. The title-page bears the date 1856, but internal evidence in various entrees makes clear that the text dates from 1851 or 1852. This discussion of British India has particular importance because it immediately precedes the 1857 Mutiny.— George P. Landow]

All the excellence hitherto evinced by the Hindoos, in the prosecution of arts and sciences, appears, however, to have been wholly manipulative. The people, with a few rare exceptions amongst which Rainmohun-ltoy has been a striking example have evinced no grasp of intellect, enabling them to become versed, beyond a very limited extent, in the higher branches of learning. In arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and astronomy, they have made some rudimentary progress; and their genius is somewhat adapted to metaphysical speculations, and the intricacies of grammar and jurisprudence; but their geography, medicine, and other practical sciences, are a chaos, and their agriculture is of the rudest kind.

In literature the Hindoos are, and always have been, far behind several neighbouring nations. Except some of their theological writings, the only works of any celebrity amongst them are the Muhabdrat and the Jlamayaiia; the one record ing the wars of the sons of Baharat, and the other the adventures of Kama. They are both poems, there being hardly any prose compositions in Hindoo literature, and both extremely bad; being destitute of every quality they ought to possess, and having nearly all they ought not. The state of education is equally backward, there being scarcely one man in a hundred who can read a common letter; neither can they derive any benefit from such scientific, or other useful works, as they have, in consequence of them being all written in Sanscrit, with which the mass are entirely unacquainted. The females are, in general, utterly ignorant of reading and writing; a Brahminical prejudice existing against female education.


Blackie, Walker Graham. The Imperial Gazetteer: A General Dictionary of Geography, Physical, Political, Statistical and Descriptive. 4 vols. London: Blackie & Son, 1856. Internet Archive online version of a copy in the University of California Library. Web. 7 November 2018.

Last modified 11 December 2018