Gover, Charles E. (DNB00)

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GOVER, CHARLES E. (d. 1872), folklorist, was son of Thomas Gover of Poplar, Middlesex. In 1864 he was appointed principal and secretary of the Madras Military Male Orphan Asylum at Egmore (Madras People's Almanac, 1869, p. 390). In 1868 he became a member of the Royal Asiatic Society, but withdrew in 1871–2. He died at Madras 20 Sept. 1872. He was a member of the Society of Arts and a fellow of the Anthropological Society. He wrote a pamphlet on ‘Indian Weights and Measures, their condition and remedy,’ 8vo, Madras, 1865. During 1866 he communicated to the Asiatic Society a paper on ‘The Pongol Festival in Southern India’ (Journal, new ser. v. 91–118), where he asserted, without giving any proof, that this festival was a remnant of primitive Aryan life. Another contribution was an account of the moral condition and religious views of the lower classes in southern India, chiefly based on a large collection of popular songs in the ancient Canarese, of which he gave specimens in a poetical English version. He also wrote essays on Indian folk lore for the ‘Cornhill Magazine.’ Under the title of ‘The Folk-Songs of Southern India’ he collected his essays in 1872, 8vo, London. Gover's prose is spirited, but his verse translations are infelicitous. Philologists have discredited his hypothesis that, driven at a very early period into the extreme south, and cut off from intercourse with other peoples, the Dravidian nations have preserved their original vocabulary, and that true Dravidian roots, common to the three great branches, Tamil, Telugu, and Canarese, are pure Aryan.

[Athenæum, 27 July 1872, pp. 111–12, 26 Oct. 1872, p. 531; Annual Reports of Royal Asiatic Society, May 1868 and May 1870, pp. x–xi.]

G. G.