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could be employed. To him it appeared, (what- PART IT. ever it might to others,) that such an Institution, extending itself through so many parts of Asia, would become possessed of many stations and 1810-11. agents over which the East India Company, and their Oriental Government, could exercise no vexatious control; and that, should the Baptist Missionaries be removed, (an event at one time apprehended,) the translation of the Scriptures might still be carried on by persons in connection with that Institution.
Intelligence of the formation of the Christian Institution was officially announced by its President, the Rev. Dr. Buchanan, to the Committee of the British and Foreign Bible Society, in a letter, dated September 22, 1807; and the concurrence of the Society, in the support of its translation department, was respectfully and warmly solicited. But the Committee, adhering to the principles on which the resolution of July 23, 1804, was founded, determined to suspend their judgment on every other plan, till it should have been finally ascertained, whether the object of that resolution could be accomplished, by bringing the parties included in it into mutual co-operation, and establishing a Corresponding Committee in India, combining erudition and influence on the one part, with vernacular knowledge and patient industry on the other; and reflecting at the same time in its constitution as
PART II. near, an image as circumstances would allow, of
the Parent Committee in Great Britain. Actuated by these considerations, the Committee of the British and Foreign Bible Society declined the proposed connection with “ the Christian Institution :” and it would not perhaps be asserting too much, to say, that to the steadiness with which they adhered to their resolution, in this and every other instance of similar trial, máy be, under God, ascribed, if not, the origin of the Bible Societies now existing in India, yet at least the liberal* basis on which those Societies have been established, and the harmony with which all their operations are conducted.
In the mean time, while things were taking the course described, subsequently to the reduction of the College at Fort William, the Rev. David Brown, to whom the sentiments of the Committee of the British and Foreign Bible Society were thoroughly known, continued to correspond with them on matters which regarded the advancement of the Society's object, as the organ of communication from the presumed Corresponding Committee. In his letter of April 28, 1808, Mr. Brown detailed the measures, at that time PART II. either in operation or in prospect, by which it was confidently hoped that the object would be effectually and extensively promoted. From the account contained in this dispatch it appeared, that arrangements were made, by which “correct editions of the Scriptures, in Hindoostanee, Persian, and Arabic, might be expected from the Rev. H. Martyn, at Dinagepore, assisted by his coadjutors Sabat, from Arabia, and Mirza, from Lucknow.” “ The Mayalim, Cingalese, Malay, and Telinga, (it was stated,) would be ably conducted in Malabar, Ceylon, and the Coast;" while “ the Missionaries at Serampore” were spoken of as “ qualified to proceed with Bengalee, Mahratta, Shanscrit, Burman, Chinese,* and per
* The Seventh Regulation of the Calcutta Society is as follows:
“ That Christian Ministers of all persuasions, who shall aid this Institution, be entitled to attend and vote at all Meetings of the Committee; but that no person deriving any emolument from the Society shall bave that privilege."
* With what justice this was affirmed of the Baptist Missionaries, as it respects the Chinese, may be learnt from the following honorable testimony borne to their merits in that department, by the Governor General, Lord Minto, in his College Speech, delivered at Fort William, Feb. 27, 1808, only two months preceding the date of Mr. Brown's letter.
“If I have not passed beyond the legitimate bounds of this discourse, in ranging to the extremity of those countries, and to the furthest island of that vast archipelago in which the Malay language prevails, I shall scarcely seem to transgress them, by the short and easy transition thence to the language of China. I am in truth strongly inclined, whether regularly or not, to deal one encouraging word to the meritorious, and I hope not unsuccessful effort, making, I may say, at the door of our College, though not admitted to its portico, to force that hitherto impregnable fortress, the Chinese language. The means, we all know, that, in the present circumstances, can be em
PART II. haps some other dialects of India.”
added, as a probable expectation, that “ in a
year or two there would be found competent 1810-11.
translators into every Oriental tongue.” The improvement which had taken place in the
ployed in that difficult undertaking, are very inconsiderable. The honor is so much the greater to those whose enterprize seems already to have opened at least a prospect of success. Three young men, I ought, indeed, to say, boys, have not only acquired a ready use of the Chinese language, for the purpose of oral communication, which, I understand, is neither difficult nor rare among Europeans connected with China ; but they have achieved, in a degree worthy of admiration, that which has been deemed scarcely within the reach of European faculties or industry; I mean, a very extensive and correct acquaintance with the written language of China. I will not detail the particulars of the Examination which took place on the 10th of this month at Serampore, in the Chinese language, the report of which, however, I have read with great interest, and recommend to the liberal notice of those whom I have the honor to address. It is enough for my present purpose, to say, that these young pupils read Chinese books, and translate them; and they write compositions of their own in the Chinese language and character. A Chinese press, too, is established, and in actual use. In a word, if the founders and supporters of this little College have not yet dispelled, they have at least rent and admitted a dawn of day through that thick impenetrable cloud; they have passed that oceanum dissociabilem, which for so many ages has insulated that vast empire from the rest of mankind. Let us entertain at least the hope, that a perseverance in this, or similar attempts, may let in at length upon those multitudes the contraband and long forbidden blessings of human intercourse and social improvement.
I must not omit to commend the zealous and persevering labors of Mr. Lassar, and of those learned and pious persons * The reader will of course regard this language as general, and expressing not so much an absolute, as a relative state of translation labors in India. In this qualified sense it is perfectly sustained by the circumstances with which it stands connected.
means, and facilities of accomplishing transla- PART II. tions, and which is principally to be traced to the causes already assigned, is thus described :
1810–11. “ When the proposal for translations into fifteen languages was first circulated, the laborers were few in number, and confined to one small Society. They are now spread over all India ;* and translations are proceeding with good effect, under the management of able scholars, who are duly qualified for the work."
“ This happy beginning,” adds Mr. Brown, “ could not have advanced beyond the threshhold, without the fostering care of the British and Foreign Bible Society, † whose most seasonable
associated with him, who have accomplished, for the future benefit, we may hope, of that immense and populous region, Chinese versions, in the Chinese character, of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, throwing open that precious mine, with all its religious and moral treasures, to the largest associated population in the world.”
Extract from Lord Minto's College Speech, Feb. 21, 1808.
+ The statement contained in this passage has been somewhat harshly treated by Professor Marsh, as though it affirined what had not been the fact. The Professor regards the expression as applying exclusively to the works already produced, and