« AnteriorContinuar »
Twenty-second Annual Report of the American Bible Society,
We notice this Report now not for the purpose of detailing the society's operations, nor even of giving an abstract of its successful prosecution of its high aims, but for the single object of referring to an interesting fact in relation to biblical literature. We mean the “ Collation of the English Bible.” We quote the statement of the managers on this subject :
* Many friends of the society are aware, probably, that suspicions were awakened,
a few years since in England, in regard to the integrity of the present English bible. Charges of numerous and wide departures from the first edition of the translators had been freely circulated. Many letters and some pamphlets were published to substantiate those charges.
In these circumstances the authorized printers of the bible at the Oxford University, published a fac-simile of the first edition of King James, issued in 1611, in order that it might be compared with modern editions. This fac-simile copy is prepared with great minuteness, not only as respects the text, but the orthography, punctuation, and even embellishments. Having procured one of these copies, your board felt it their duty to institute a rigid comparison between it and the standard copy of this society. To secure perfect fairness as well as thoroughness in such an undertaking, a supervising committee was appointed by the board, consisting of one member from each religious denomination connected with the society. A skillful proof-reader was first directed to compare the early and the modern copy, word for word, and to note down all the discrepancies. Prof. Bush, the Editor of the Sa ciety's publications, having in the library a great variety of Bibles issued during the last three centuries, was then requested to go through the same, and learn where and when the changes found commenced. The Committee then, each with a copy of some age in hand, carefully followed the Editor and examined his investigations. The whole subject was then laid before the entire board for their adjudication. The task has been arduous, though one of great interest. While it has been found that numerous variations exist between the early and the present copies of the English Bible, it is also found that they pertain only to unimportant particulars; such as capital letters, commas, italic words, &c. not affecting the sense. It has been a matter of unseigned satisfaction to the Board to find, on such careful investigation, that the books which they have sent forth from the Depository have been so conformed in meaning to the first editions issued under the eye of the translators. Little motive has been presented to make any changes. Those which have been made were of trivial importance, and usually for the purpose of return and conformation to the early copies.' pp. 29, 30.
VOLUME X.-NUMBER IV.
ART. I.-A VISIT TO THE WALDENSES IN 1837.
It was in the month of May, 1837, that we set out from Turin to visit the country in which dwell the remains of that martyr-people, who for so many ages resisted, alone, the corrupt doctrines and tremendous power of the church of Rome. We were accompanied in this interesting excursion by the Rev. Mr. Bert, the eloquent and amiable chaplain of the Prussian embassy at Turin. Mr. B. is himself one of the Waldenses, (or Vaudois, as they are called in the French language,) and is well acquainted with their former history, and their present condition. His father was, for many years before his death, their president or superintendent. He was a man of distinction, and wrote a valuable little work, for children, respecting the history and religious faith of this people, which might be justly entitled a Waldensian historical catechism.
We considered ourselves exceedingly favored in having for our companion and guide, one who was so well qualified, as was this young servant of Jesus Christ, for the task of giving us the information which we desired respecting his fellow christians and the land of his fathers. This young man, who holds so important a post in the service of his Prussian majesty, and preaches to a considerable congregation of Waldenses and other protestants in Turin, was educated in Switzerland, at the uniVOL. X.
versity of Geneva. His talents, which are in the highest degree respectable, are well cultivated. He possesses a large amount of information on almost all subjects of general knowledge. Withal, he is a man of the most amiable disposition, and of abımdant wit. And what is still better, he is a man who, we believe, is sincerely desirous of advancing the interests of the kingdom of his blessed Lord.
The day was far from being agreeable. A season of rainy weather had set in, which, with brief intervals, lasted three or four days. But the warm, vernal showers which we had to encounter, did not conceal from our view the beauties of the country through which we had to pass. Our course was nearly due south west, and the distance from Turin to St. Jean, one of the chief villages of the country of the modern Waldenses, and to which we first went, was about thirty miles. The first part of our journey was over an excellent macadamized road as far as Pignerol, which is an old town, or city, of nearly 12,000 inhabitants, and is the chief place of importance in the immediate vicinity of the country of the Waldenses. A few miles beyond Pignerol, we entered the country of the wonderful people, to see whose condition was the object of our visit. And here we may remark, that the country which the Waldenses at present occupy is, from east to west, about thirty miles in length, whilst its width may be estimated at about twenty-five. It commences, as we have just said, a few miles from Pignerol, and extends westward up to the mountain-ridge which divides Piedmont from France. Only a small part of it reaches down into the comparatively level country which lies at the eastern base of the Alps. On the contrary, their territory lies almost wholly in those mountains, and consists, in fact, of two immense mountain-ridges, extending from east to west, and three valleys which run parallel with these mountain-ridges. Such is the present country of the Waldenses. In former ages it was far more extensive than it is at present. Within this restricted territory only, are they allowed to own lands or houses. They may live in Turin, or in any other city of the kingdom of Sardinia, or at least in the portion of it which is called Piedmont, for the purpose of trade, or for other occupation ; but in that case they cannot own any permanent property in the place of their sojourn. Such is the law of the kingdom. Several hundred of them actually live at this time in Turin, some as merchants, some as artizans, but the most of them as domestics in families of those who choose to employ them. But to return from this digression.
It was afternoon when we left 'Turin, and as we spent an hour with one or two Waldensian friends at Pignerol, it was not until eleven o'clock at night, that we reached the village of St. Jean, and entered the hospitable mansion of the Rev. Mr. Bonjour, who is the present superintendent of the churches of the Waldenses, and a brother-in-law of the Rev. Mr. B., who accompanied us. It is not possible to describe the various and strong emotions with which our minds were agitated, as we entered the hallowed country where dwell those whose ancestors, during many ages, maintained the truth amidst the midnight darkness which papacy had created throughout all the rest of the christian world. It was affecting to reflect, that here lived a people who bear the very names, and in whose veins circulates the very blood of those honored men and women who suffered so much for Christ. As we passed along through their country, and contemplated the houses and villages which, from the high road, we could discern by means of the rays of the moon now and then emerging from behind the light clouds which crossed its disk, we could not but recall to mind that these very houses and villages (for they have stood most of them for ages,) were the scenes of cruelty and blood, again and again, when those who occupied them were called to suffer, and for no other reason than that of adhering to the doctrines and practices which Christ himself had enjoined ! But feeble were strongest conceptions of those scenes of anguish and wo. No imagination can reach their reality.
It was in the indulgence of such mournful reflections as these, that we approached the village of St. Jean. As it was late at night, all the country was hushed in stillness, save the sweetlysinging nightingale which from every copse, and almost from every tree, was all the night long warbling the praises of the great Creator. And whilst our hearts ascended to God in thankfulness for the measure of peace and tranquility which at present prevails in these valleys, our thoughts could not but recur ever and anon to those mournful tragedies of papal and bigoted violence which were so often enacted throughout them. We really felt more like being on consecrated ground than ever before in our lives. We had seen Genoa the beautiful ; we had surveyed the remains of the grandeur of Rome; we had descended into Herculaneum, and walked the streets of Pompeii, and sat in the seat of the Venetian doges ; but never had we before the feelings of tenderness, of sympathy with those who have suffered for Christ, of admiration for their constancy, and of gratitude for our own preservation from such awful trials, as we had on that occasion.
But we must hasten to lay before our readers the most important items of information which we received respecting the political, moral, and intellectual state of this people. In doing this, we shall present the facts very much as they happened to present themselves to our minds, whilst we were making our inquiries on the spot. This may, perhaps, be more acceptable to our readers than a formal and methodical procedure.
We have already stated that the territory of the modern Waldenses, is something like thirty miles long by twenty-five broad, and that it consists of two extended and losty mountain ranges and three valleys. We will add, that the valleys are fertile, and well cultivated. They are divided into farms of unequal and, generally, small extent. Such is the denseness of the population, (arising from the narrow limits of their territory,) that there is scarcely a square yard of land, fit for cultivation, which is not tilled. The sides of the mountains, up as high as the vegetables which are planted or sown attain to any degree of profitable growth, are covered with fields. In many cases, from eagerness to enlarge the extent of cultivated ground, the very soil is carried up to a great height on the sides of the mountains, and is placed on terraces formed by stone walls, to prevent its being washed down into the valleys. It often occurs also, that from the extreme height, vegetation is prematurely destroyed by the autumnal frosts, and the labor of the husbandman is lost.
The productions of the country are wheat, rye, barley, potatoes, wine, and mulberry trees for the growing of silk-worms. The ground is well tilled. The crops, especially in the lower portions of the valleys, are generally good. The wine of this country cannot be said to be extraordinary, being generally of a poor quality. Still, enough is made for the domestic consumption, and a little for exportation.
The people are sober, industrious, and frugal. There are but few persons of wealth among them ; probably no individual possesses property to an amount exceeding twenty thousand dollars. The bulk of the people, on the contrary, are poor, many of them very poor. And yet, such are their frugal habits, and such is the liberality of those whose worldly circumstances are better, that there is but little, if any, distress or suffering from poverty. It is not from want of industry, but from want of power to turn their industry to a profitable account, that any of this people are poor, excepting, perhaps, in a few cases of providential incapacity.