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GRIFFITH, Ralph Thomas Hotchkin.

Idylls from the Sanskrit.

Published: London: Smith, Elder, and Co. 1866

Stock code: 102979

Price: £200

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First edition and only edition, uncommon 5 locations only on Copac. Selections from Kalidasa’s Raghu-vamsa, Kumara-sambhava, and Ritu-samhara, from Valmiki’s Ramyana, and from the Mahabharata, translated into verse. This copy with a gift inscription from Clements Markham to his wife Minna “in memory of bright days in India”, dated in the year of publication. Minna had accompanied Markham on his trip to South America on behalf of the India Office to obtain “seeds of the cinchona tree, the source of quinine and then found only in Peru; to establish the tree in India and Ceylon; and to make quinine readily available there … He managed to gather plants and seeds, and found time for work on his first Quechua dictionary. Although Markham’s own plants did not survive, the party as a whole succeeded in getting seeds and plants out of South America and establishing plantations in India and Ceylon, and making pure quinine available throughout the subcontinent. He was awarded a grant of £3000 for his services” (ODNB). The author was the Boden Sanskit Scholar at Boden, became assistant master of Marlborough College, of which he was also librarian, before joining the Indian Educational Service and being made headmaster of Benares Government College, “During his first eight years in India (1853-61) Griffith devoted himself not only to the study of Sanskrit but to that of Hindi, the most widely spoken vernacular of northern India, under Pandit Ram Jason, the head Sanskrit teacher of the college, to whom he was much attached. Throughout the Mutiny Griffith worked quietly in his bungalow amid the surrounding disorder and tumult” (DNB). Griffith was drawn by the literary rather than by the linguistic side of Sanskrit, “but he rendered a great service to the direct study of the language by founding in 1866 the ‘Pandit,’ a monthly journal of the Benares College, devoted to Sanskrit literature. This he edited for eight years”. Publication continued down to 1920.

Square octavo. Original brown cloth, bevelled boards, title gilt to the spine within elaborate “orientalist” panelling, and to the front board within a lotus roundel in gilt and black at the centre of concentric panels in gilt and black, similar panels to the back board in blind, all edges gilt, lilac surface-paper endpapers. A little rubbed and soiled, corners through, colour a little faded from the endpapers at the margins and gutter, light toning to the text, else very good.

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