Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

edited by M. Silvestre de Sacy of Paris; with the Syriac, Arabic, and Malay, edited by Professor Lee; with the Arabic, edited by Dr. Macbride; with the Coptic, edited by Professor Lee and the Rev. H. Tattam; with the Ancient and Modern Greek, edited by the Rev. Josiah Pratt, and the Rev. G. C. Renouard; with the French, edited by the Rev. D. Chabrand, of Toulouse, and the Rev. J. Monod, jun. of Paris.-Of my own competency or incompetency as an Editor, it is not for me to speak. The Reprints which I have edited have been, the Ethiopic Gospels, Syriac Testament, and Ancient and Modern Greek Testament.

If there were any suspicion, on the part of the Bishops and Clergy of the Church of England, of such an unhappiness in the selection of Editors, it is singular, that in almost the only Reprint of a Foreign Version which is circulated by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, the Text of the Bible Society's edition should be that which they have chosen to adopt; for thus runs the Title-page of the French Bible sold, at this time, at the Office of the ancient Society just mentioned :

"La Sainte Bible contenant le Vieux et le Nouveau Testament, revue et corrigée avec soin d'après les Textes Hebreu et Grec, et fidèlement réimprimée sur la Bible Protestante Françoise publiée par l'Association Angloise et Etrangère de la Bible, avec de nombreuses corrections, conformes à l'édition la plus approuvée maintenant en usage dans le Sud de la France. à Londres, 1819."

The edition is "revised and corrected" indeed; but here is the Bible Society's Text manifestly set forth as the ground-work of it.

But we have been led away from the subject of NEW VERSIONS. It remains to state a few facts respecting those Versions against which distinct charges have been brought;--these are, the Mohawk, Calmuc, Chinese, Turkish, and Bengalee.

And first of the MOHAWK :

This Translation was obtained, indeed, in the manner related by Mr. Owen in the passage quoted from him by the Reviewer, and judgment was passed on it after the sort of examination which he describes. The Reviewer holds up this examination to ridicule : but in what better way such a work could have been examined he does not inform us; nor does he go on to tell us, with Mr. Owen, the names of some of the Examiners. These, it will be seen, were not "blind partisans" of the Bible Society, but men of acknowledged respectability and learning. The persons mentioned by Mr. Owen, as having assisted on the occasion, are, the Rev. Professor Bridge, of the East-India College; the Rev. Dr. Hamilton, Rector of St. Olave's, Jewry; and the Rev. R. Ormerod, A. M., Vicar of Kensington.

Let us now see what has been the further history of this Version. The edition printed in London having been exhausted, the Managers of the American Bible Society at New-York found the demand still extensive enough to require a further supply: they therefore printed a second edition. This they did not send forth rashly, and without inquiring into the nature of that which they were distributing: for, on hearing that some complaints were abroad against the Version, they suspended its circulation forthwith, until the nature and foundation of these complaints should have been ascertained. In their Ninth Report (for 1825) is the following passage:

"In the last Report it was mentioned, that, from doubts entertained about the correctness of the Version of St. John's Gospel in the Mohawk Language, it was deemed expedient to suspend its circulation. From various sources the Board have obtained satisfactory evidence, that, although there are some trifling inaccuracies in it, principally in orthography, yet there is no error that can hinder its usefulness. Accordingly, the suspension was removed, and grants of that Gospel made to the Indians who speak and read the Mohawk Language, at Greenbay, in the Michigan Territory: at Grand River, in Upper Canada; at Caughnawaga, and St. Regis, in Lower Canada."

In the Tenth Report (1826), the Managers state again:

"Through the medium of the Montreal Bible Society in Lower Canada, many copies of the Gospel according to St. John in the Mohawk Language have been faithfully distributed among the Indians residing at the Lake of the Two Mountains, and at St. Regis; and also among those at the Caughnawaga Village, who were able to peruse them, and received the word of God with expressions of joy and gratitude. As a pleasing instance of the prompt and independent spirit of these children of the forest, it is stated, that the Indians at Caughnawaga, being members of the Church of Rome, convened a Council of their Chiefs, to deliberate on the propriety of receiving the Scriptures, and unanimously resolved, that all their people should be left at liberty to accept of the Gospel.

"Several other parts of the New Testament have been translated into the Mohawk Language, which it is the intention of the Managers to publish, as soon as they have undergone a revision that may test their accuracy; and the expectation is entertained, that ultimately the whole New Testament will be furnished to that portion of the Aborigines of our country, commonly called the Six Nations. The want of competent translators has hitherto imposed difficulties in the way of its accomplishment. The partial Versions heretofore published, have been less perfect than could be desired; and yet the Board have received satisfactory assurances from intelligent persons resident among those Tribes, that very great advantages have been derived from their distribution and use. A strong inducement is thus supplied for renewed efforts to procure further and more correct translations."

And so, for myself, I confess I cannot for a moment doubt that this little book, the Gospel of St John in the Mohawk Language, with all its imperfections, has been, in its own proper place and nation, a blessing in the earth.

We proceed to the CALMUC Scriptures:

"In this case," says the Reviewer,

"In order that they might not proceed in the dark in a matter of such importance, the Committee directed a set of Queries to be sent to the Moravian Missionaries settled among the Calmucs. We shall extract two or three of these questions, with the answers ;

"Query 2. Who is the translator or translators (of portions of the New Testament stated to have been translated into the Calmuc Language)?— Answer. Several persons have employed themselves in this work, and those chiefly such as have not had the benefit of a literary education, but who had a good understanding of the sense of the Scriptures, who felt an impulse of the heart to the task, and who had already acquired a pretty complete knowledge of the Calmuc Language. The most eminent among these is Conrad Neitz, who, more than forty years ago, being commissioned by this congregation to qualify himself for performing this service in the Gospel, for the Calinucs, lived among them at different times, travelled also with them, and, considering his education, acquired a very accurate knowledge of the idiom of their language, facility in speaking it, and acquaintance with the mode of thinking and manners of this people. He has also even studied their writings. Most of these translations were executed by him.

"Query 3. Can the accuracy and correctness of these translations be relied on?-Answer. Confidently. The translations have been made with much diligence and fidelity, and have been repeatedly corrected and revised by brethren acquainted with the subject and the language. Nevertheless, this work is still imperfect, particularly as the Calmuc has as yet received no literary cultivation, and the common aids for acquiring a language, such as dictionaries and grammars, are entirely wanting.

"

"On the receipt of this information, the Committee instantly voted a sum for the purchase of a set of Calmuc types; and, without any further inquiry whatever, recommended the Moravian Missionaries to proceed in translating such entire books of the New Testament as their circumstances might enable them to execute, with the promise of further assistance from the Society, from time to time, in proportion to their progress in the undertaking."" -Review, p. 12.

Now, in the first instance, what could be a more natural, and what a better course to take, than that of applying for information respecting such a Version as this, to the Missionaries who had been so long employed in teaching among these people the truths which these very Scriptures contain?-But were the Translations of the Missionaries adopted therefore, and published forthwith, without further thought or examination? So far from it, that scarcely any part of their Version can be said to have ever been published at all.

It was at Petersburg that the Calmuc Gospels were printed, and there that an Editor and Translator was found for them, Mr. J. J. Schmidt-for the Missionaries sent indeed into Russia the portions which they had prepared, which served for consultation and reference; but the Version was, in truth, Mr. Schmidt's own; and in the Latin Title-page prefixed to the first edition of the Gospel of St. Matthew, it bears his name. And of Mr. Schmidt's intimate acquaintance with the Mongolian and Calmuc Dialects,

to the examination of a Sub-Committee, assisted, on the occasion, by a well-known Biblical Critic, the Rev. T. Hartwell Horne. This Sub-Committee found the greater part of the faults pointed out to be so utterly insignificant, that it would be quite useless to disfigure the work by noticing them; and a Table was drawn up, to be appended to the Testament, containing all that could be considered of the least importance; in number, 49. But even of these there was not one that appeared directly to affect any point of faith or practice. Those that appeared to do so, were remedied in another and more effectual way, by cancelling the leaves on which they occurred. The leaves so cancelled were in number, eight. Having already observed that scarcely any copies had yet been issued, I need scarcely add, that the whole story about sending bundles of leaves to Turkey, to be inserted in copies already in circulation, is a mere fiction: its falsehood is as gross, as the charge which it conveys is insulting.

Nor is it just to speak thus contemptuously of the Translator of this Version-Ali Bey, or Bobovius, as his name is written in the Latin form. In Turkish learning he was indisputably most eminent. At Constantinople, he was the instructor of the celebrated Meninski, by whom one of his works is frequently quoted, in his Turkish Lexicon. And the following is the account given of him by a contemporary, the learned Dr. Hyde. It is prefixed to a treatise of Ali Bey's on the Religious Ceremonies of the Turks, which Dr. Hyde edited (in 1690); and it may be thus translated from the Latin :

"The following observations on the ceremonies of the Turks I received from my learned friend Dr. Thomas Smith, who, on his return from a journey to Constantinople a few years since, put them into my hands, with a request that I would eventually publish them, which I have now at length done. They had been drawn up, at his request, by Albertus Bobovius, or, as the name is written in his native language, Bobowsky, a Pole by birth, who died some years since. His death is to be lamented, not only because he was particularly friendly to our countrymen, and most ready to serve them in any thing, but also inasmuch as he was a most zealous and assiduous student of languages, and extremely well versed and skilled in many of those of Europe and Asia also, so that he was promoted, under the Sultan or First Interpreter. It is however more especially to be lamented that he should have been carried off before he had returned to the profession of Christianity, which it was his most earnest wish to do. It was his desire to be able honestly to gain his livelihood, in whatever way might offer, in the society of Christians in England, and to retire from his connexion with a Mohammedan people."

ترجمان باشی Mahomet IV, to the office of

The controversy which arose on the style of this Version, between Dr. Henderson and Professor Lee, I by no means overlook as unimportant; but to go into such a matter fully, in this place, would obviously be impossible: suffice it to say, that Dr. Henderson him

self, in his last pamphlet, appears to express his satisfaction with the new edition of this work, now going through the press at Paris.

We come now to the BENGALEE VERSION, with which is connected the whole array of charges against the Serampore Transla tors. And here, surely, every man, who is alive to the importance of Translations of the Scriptures at all, will, at the first outset, feel most forcibly the truth of Sir George Staunton's remarks, as applied to Indian Versions, as well as to the Chinese :

"The writer of the article in question demands qualifications in a Translator of the Scriptures, and a degree of perfection in the Translation itself, which, however desirable in the abstract, would, in the case of Indian Versions, have necessarily the effect of postponing the accomplishment of the work to an indefinite period; and consequently wholly frustrate the object in view, as far as respects the communication of religious knowledge to the Natives of India of the present day, through such a medium."-See p. 378.

After what has been said already (p. 372) on New Versions in general, I shall think it quite enough in this place to reply to the Reviewer by bringing a few quotations from the Reports of the Missionaries, to show how their Versions have really been made, and with what effect they have been put into circulation.

Extract of a Letter from the Rev. Dr. Carey.

"Serampore, April 20, 1808.

"You mention some objections that have been made to our Translations, as if they were the work of graceless Brahmans. We certainly do employ all the helps we can obtain-Brahmans, Musselmans, and others, who both translate, and sometimes write out rough copies; and should think it criminal not to do so. But we never print any Translation till every word has been revised, and re-revised. Whatever helps we employ, I have never yet suffered a single word, or a single mode of construction, to pass, without examining it, and seeing through it. I read every proof-sheet twice or thrice myself, and correct every letter with my own hand. Brother Marshman and I compare with the Greek or Hebrew, and brother Ward reads every sheet. Three of the Translations, viz. the Bengalee, Hindostanee, and Sungscrit, I translate with my own hand: the two last immediately from the Greek; and the Hebrew Bible is before me while I translate the Bengalee. Whatever helps I use, I commit my judgment to none of them. Brother Marshman does the same with the Chinese, and all that he engages in; and so does Brother Ward."

Extract of a Letter from the Rev. William Ward. "May 10, 1820. "The appointment of my beloved colleague (Dr. Carey) to the Professorship in the College of Fort William put him in possession, so far as it was necessary to his plans, of all the learning in India. Learned men from every part crowded to Calcutta, seeking employment in this New College; and the senior Sungskrit Pundit in the College, who attended Dr. Carey constantly in the discharge of his College duties, informed him from time to time of the arrival of some learned Native, now from Benares, then from Cashmere, then from the Punjab; and thus, in succession, from the different provinces of India; who were, of course, introduced to Dr. Carey. The Doctor here saw all India coming to pour all its treasures at his feet; nor

« AnteriorContinuar »