Archive:The Descendants of John Whitney, page 487

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The Descendants of John Whitney, Who Came from London, England, to Watertown, Massachusetts, in 1635, by Frederick Clifton Pierce (Chicago: 1895)

Transcribed by the Whitney Research Group, 1999.

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Lake Superior, as "asssistant sub-agent" (at $2 a day) in the United States geological survey of that region, carried on under the care of his brother and the late J. W. FOSTER; he had under his charge the botany, the ornithology, and the accounts. On returning home, he went for a year to New Haven, to continue his Sanskrit studies under Professor E. E. SALISBURY and in company with Professor James HADLEY, and to prepare for a visit to Germany, already planned. He sailed for Bremen direct in the autumn of 1850, and returned home in July, 1853. Three winters were passed by him in Berlin, and two summers in Tubingen (in southern Germany), chiefly under the instruction of Professors Albrecht WEBER and Rudolph ROTH, respectively, but also of Professor LEPSIUS and others. Having copied in Berlin all the manuscripts of one of the oldest and most important Hindu scriptures, the Atharva-Veda, then unpublished, he planned an edition of it in conjunction with Professor ROTH; and on the way home, in 1853, he stopped in Paris, Oxford, and London, to collate the remain- ing European manuscripts. The first volume of the work containing the text alone, was published at Berlin in 1855 and 1856; a complete Index Verborum to it was added at New Haven in 1881; a volume of notes, translations, etc., is still due. Be- fore leaving Germany, he had accepted an invitation to return to Yale college as professor of Sanskrit; but he did not go there to remain until August, 1854, spending the interval in part in scientific work. Since 1854 he has lived continuously in New Haven. The salary of the Sanskrit professorship having been for the first sixteen years a very small one, he was obliged to help support himself by teaching German and French; at the outset, partly in private classes; later, in college classes only; on the establisment of the Sheffield scientific school he had for some time the charge in it of the department of modern languages; nor has he entirely withdrawn from that work even down to the present time. This has led to his preparing a series of text-books, especially for the study of German, which is not yet quite complete; it consists of two German grammars, a larger (1869) and a smaller (1885), a German reader with an elaborate vocabulary (1870), a brief German dictionary (1877), and a number of annotated German texts (from 1876 on); a French grammar (published in 1886). He was elected a member of the American Oriental Society in 1850; in 1855 he undertook the charge of its library, remaining librarian until 1873; in 1857 he was made its corresponding secretary, and performed the duties of that office till 1884, when he was chosen its president (resigned in '90); no small part of his work has been done in the service of the society; from 1857 to the present time, just a half of the contents of its journal (vols. vi-xii.) is from his pen. In this are included four works of considerable extent; the annotated translation of a Hindu treatise of astron- omy (the Surya-Siddhanta, 1860); the texts, translations, etc., of two Sanskrit gram- matical treatises (Atharva-Veda Praticakva, 1862, and Taittiriya-Praticakhya, 1871; to the latter work was awarded by the Berlin Academy the BOPP prize, as the most important Sanskrit publication of the triennium); and the Atharva-Veda Index Verborum, mentioned above. Some of his minor contributions to the same journal, along with others to various periodicals, were collected and published in two vol- umes of "Oriental and Linguistic Studies" (1873 and 1874), also supervising editor-in- chief of the great "Century Dictionary" (6 vols.4to), completed in 1891. He has also produced a couple of volumes on the general science of language, entitled, respect- ively, "Language and the Study of Language" (1867; it was first prepared as Smith- sonian and as Lowell lectures; it has been translated into German and Netherland- ish), and "The Life and Growth of Language" (International scientific series, 1875 translated into French, Italian, German, Swedish, and Russian); and the articles on "Language" in Johnson's Cyclopaedia (vol. ii.,1876), and on "Philology" in the Encylopaedia Britannica (vol. xviii.,1885), are by him. On the formation of the American Philological Association (1869), he was its first president, and has contrib- uted extensively to its proceedings and transactions. He has also written an English grammar ("Essentials of English Grammar," 1877), and a Sanskrit grammar (see below : two editions, English and German)-to which last he has this year added a supplement half as big as the work itself ("Roots, Verbforms, and Primary Deriva- tives of the Sanskrit Language," Leipzig, 1885; two editions, English and German)- second English edition, 1889. He received the honors degree of doctor of philos- ophy from Breslau University in 1861; doctor of literature from Columbia College, N.Y., in 1884; that of doctor of laws from his alma mater in 1868, from William and Mary College in Virginia in 1869, and from Harvard in 1876, also from St. Andrew's University in Scotland in 1874, and Edinburgh University in 1884. He is further connected with many learned societies in various parts of the world; is an honorary member of the Oriental or Asiatic societies of Great Britain and Ireland, of Germany, of Bengal, of Japan, and of Peking; of the Philological Society of London;

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