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be advantageously or safely presented to them in a mutilated condition.

"It is on all hands admitted, that before a translation from one language into another be undertaken, it is absolutely necessary to possess an entire and thoroughly grammatical acquaintance with both. Now, where are the Europeans who possess so perfect a knowledge of the idioms of India? and again, where are the natives who possess the same advantage with respect to the European dialects? if persons of this description are to be found any where in this country, they are in very small numbers indeed.

"Some partial translations of the Scriptures are, it is true, to be found in the country; but in my humble opinion they have entirely missed their object. I have by me a copy of the New Testament, translated into Tamul, executed by the Lutheran missionaries; but the translators, by endeavouring to make it literal, have generally used such low, trivial, and, in many instances, ludicrous expressions, and the style is, besides, so different from that of the Hindoos, that persons unaccustomed to it, cannot (as I have witnessed in repeated instances) read over four verses without laughing at the manner in which the work is executed.

"In my last journey to the coast, I saw a letter on the subject, from a missionary in Travancore, to a person of the same description at Pondicherry, in which were the following expressions :

"Many hundred sets of the New Testament, translated into the Malayan dialect, have been sent to us (without our asking for them), to be circulated among our Christians. I have perused this performance; the translation is truly piteous, and only worthy of contempt: one cannot peruse four verses without shrugging up the shoulders. This large collection of New Testaments now in our hands places us in a very aukward situation: if we leave them to rot in our apartments, we fear to expose ourselves to the displeasure of those who supplied us with them, who appear anxious to have them circulated, and if we follow their instructions on the subject, we cover ourselves with ridicule."


"I remember an instance of the kind, which will not appear foreign to my subject. About twenty-five years ago, the French missionaries, in the province of Sutchuen in China, were earnestly requested by the congregation De Propaganda Fide at Rome to translate the Gospel into Chinese, and sent a copy to them. The missionaries answered, that as the Chinese language did not admit of a literal translation, they had, a long time before, compiled a work in Chinese containing the history and moral of the Gospel, for the use of their congregations, and that nothing more could be satisfactorily executed on the subject; yet, as the request was urgent, they prepared, with the assistance of their best informed proselytes, a translation of the Gospel of St. Matthew, a copy of which they_sent to Rome, informing, at the same time, the congregation De Propaganda, that the translation of this Gospel alone, obtained with the assistance of many well-educated natives,

had cost them considerable labour and trouble; adding, that this literal translation differed so widely from the Chinese style, that even their converts would hardly refrain from laughing in perusing it.


Now, it is not a little curious to observe, that what European missionaries, who had passed the greatest part of their lives in China, judged next to impossible to execute, even with the assistance of many well-educated natives, an unassisted Armenian, of the name of Lassar, at Serampore, should imagine himself able to perform; and it is not only the translation of a single Gospel he has undertaken, the whole Bible literally translated by this individual has been emphatically promised by the missionaries to the curiosity of the public.

"Many unprejudiced and unbiassed Europeans, acquainted with the idioms of the country, with whom I have had opportunities of conversing on the subject, and who happened to have perused some parts of the translations of the Scriptures now extant, I am happy to say, perfectly coincided in opinion with me, that such low and vulgar versions of our holy books ought carefully to be concealed from the sight of the Pagans, in order that their aversion to Christianity may not be increased, and the European character injured." P. 38.


"Nobody is better persuaded than myself of the quite disinterested intentions of the Bible Society. I feel that it would be extremely impertinent in me to make insinuations in the least offensive to that learned body; but I cannot help saying, that their endeavours to enlighten the Hindoos, or to make the least impression on them through the translation of the Holy Scriptures circulated among them, are, in my opinion, quite lost trouble, and will be of no avail. I cannot moreover help declaring, that the money spent for the purpose would be better and more meritoriously employed in feeding the hungry and clothing the naked.

"It is of no utility to distribute Bibles if you have not wellfounded hopes that they will be read, and their meaning be understood. Now, I have every reason to apprehend, that as long as they shall be translated into the almost unintelligible style in which we see the versions already executed, there is not the remotest hope of their being of the least utility even to the best disposed persons, and that (as I observed in a foregoing letter) those loose and spurious versions will only tend to increase the contempt of the prejudiced natives against Christianity, and prove on the whole detri mental to its interests.

"In fact, if one of the many proofs of our holy books being of divine origin be derived from their intrinsic worth, from their noble, inimitable, and majestic simplicity, there is, alas! on the other hand, but too much room to fear that the Hindoos will form a directly opposite judgment on the subject, when they behold the quite ludicrous and vulgar style of the versions at present circulated among

them; and that even the most reasonable and best disposed, on perusing the Scriptures under such a contemptible shape, so far from looking upon them as the work of God, will, on the contrary, be strongly impelled to consider them as mere forgeries of some obscure, ignorant, and illiterate individual, and of course as a downright imposture.

"Among many instances which are come within my personal notice of the effects produced on the minds of the natives by the versions of the Holy Scriptures into the idioms of India, I will content myself with relating the following only :

"Being in a neighbouring village, three or four months ago, I received there the visit of some Christians living in the Bellary district, in a place called Talairu, where between 30 and 40 Tilinga Christian families reside. After the ordinary marks of respect, and the usual compliments, one of my visitors took a book out of a small bag, and without uttering a single word, laid it at my feet. On opening it, I found it was a translation into Tilinga of the gospel of St. Matthew; and before saying any thing about it, I wished to be acquainted with the opinion of my visitors on the work. Having interrogated them for the purpose, the person who had delivered it to me began the following curious account, saying, That some months back two Christians of their village went to Bellary on some business, and hearing that a European gooroo, or priest, (whom from their account I understood to have been a Protestant missionary,) was living in that place, they went to pay him a visit; that they had been very kindly received by him, and that after a good deal of conversation, chiefly on religious subjects, the gooroo, on dismissing them, had made them a present of the book, strongly recommending them to have a chapter of its contents read every Sunday in their chapel to the assembled congregation; that there being only five or six individuals among the congregation who could write and read, on their return they called on them, and delivered the book to them; that these persons had assembled together for the purpose of reading it, and becoming acquainted with its contents; but that they were unable to understand the meaning of a single chapter; that in their perplexity they had applied to some Pagans living in the same village, to assist them in expounding the book; but no one among them had been able to understand any thing about it; that they were then disposed to believe that the foreign gooroo, who was not their own, had given them such a work to make a jest of them, and that in this persuasion, some were of opinion, that it should be thrown into the fire; but the majority wishing to become acquainted at least with the outlines of the work, called for the purpose on a brahmin poorohita, or astrologer, living in their neighbourhood (which circumstance of Christians having recourse to a Pagan astrologer, to expound the Gospel to them, is not the least curious); that the poorohita having perused one or two pages in their presence, told them that it appeared to him to be a curious book, but that it was written in so loose and incoherent a style, and in so obscure a manner, that it would require some days to become

acquainted with the whole. He therefore dismissed them, telling them to come back after a few days.

"When the Christians returned, the poorohita gave them the following curious answer, assuring them, in a low tone of voice, that he had thoroughly perused the work with attention, and that it was nothing more or less than a treatise upon magic; adding, that it was worked up in obscure and incoherent scntences, quite unintelligible to sudras; as is always the case,' said he, with works treating upon occult and pernicious sciences;' and strongly recommending them to destroy, or otherwise get rid of it, as it was a great sin to keep so pernicious a book in their possession."

"Such is the account those poor simple fellows gave me of the gospel of St. Matthew. The fact is, that the poorohita himself had been unable to understand any thing about it; but as he was unwilling to confess his ignorance before sudras, he thought he had better give them this awkward explanation. This anecdote will give you some idea of the versions of the Holy Scriptures now extant in the country, and of their utility." P. 125.

To these forcible objections no answer has been given either by Mr. Hough, or by Mr. Townley; or rather, there is an answer, and that a very unsatisfactory one. They remind us that all first versions must be incorrect. They assure us that great pains are taken in revising the different translations, and they adduce instances in which the attention of the natives has been arrested by a perusal of these works, even in their present imperfect state. There is no disputing such facts, but they bear very slightly upon the question at

issue :

"He reprobates, however, in the strongest terms, the character of the Translations hitherto made into the Oriental Languages; and maintains that they are so very imperfect, that they cannot be understood. If that be the fact, he may dissipate his apprehensions of the evil they will do; for it will certainly go far to neutralize his objection, that they will do more harm to Christianity than good. He knows, as well as I do, that the natives are not so industrious, as to toil through a volume which they find it difficult to comprehend. In the event, then, of a stray copy finding its way to a man as unprepared for it as he may suppose him to be, and not familiar with the style in which it is rendered, it cannot do the harm which he pretends to fear." (P. 125.)

This is not much to the purpose. The Abbé's objection is, that the Bible Society's translations of Scripture will prejudice the natives of Hindostan against the reception of Christianity, because those translations are in many instances absurd. To reply that the Hindoos are too lazy to discover these manifest imperfections, seems no trifling mistake upon the part of Mr. Hough. The laziness of the natives affords a strong

presumption against their taking the trouble to separate the sterling ore of the Gospel from the dross and impurities by which it is concealed; but who ever heard of a person being too lazy to take offence at what shocks his ruling prejudices, or that superficial faults will not be detected for want of industry.

If their palliating answer is injudicious, the more direct reply is at least equally unsatisfactory :

"So far, then, as my observation has extended, I affirm that the Abbé Dubois has totally failed in his attempt to fix a stigma upon the operations of the Bible Society in the East.

"I admit that accurate Translations of the Holy Scriptures, into the various languages of India, are difficult to be obtained: but first versions require, and will receive, indulgence from all who candidly consider the great obstacles with which the translators have to contend. It is not necessary for me to reply to M. Dubois insinuations against the Serampore missionaries. Their qualifications for the important task they have undertaken; the vigilance and labour with which they have endeavoured to prevent inaccuracies in every version that has passed through their hands, have been fully, and, to every unbiassed mind, satisfactorily explained.* I feel that it would be degrading those estimable men-men whose talents, and worth, Marquis Wellesley, Lord Minto, and Marquis Hastings, together with a long list of public servants in Bengal, eminent no less for piety than ability, knew how to appreciate-to intimate the necessity of advancing one word in their defence against the Abbé's unwarranted attack †. P. 35, &c. &c.

This is no defence of the Bible Society's translation. Their gross inaccuracy is asserted, not only by the Abbé Dubois, but by every person who has written or spoken upon the subject, save and except the Society itself; and Mr. Hough's defence is, that Carey and Ward were men of talent and character, aided by Lord Wellesley, Lord Minto, and Lord Hastings; and therefore they have translated the Bible with accuracy!!


Mr. Townley is equally careful not to pledge himself for the correctness of these much debated works:

"I anticipate that now my own opinion of the Indian versions of the Sacred Scriptures may be demanded; and I shall be free, as far as my competency extends, to give it. My testimony must, however, be confined to the versions in the Bengalee language; for,

*See Ward's Farewell Letters-the whole Series of Memoirs published by themselves upon their Translations-the Eclectic Review for Nov. 1823, &c.

+ For a vindication o the Serampore missionaries, see their Vindicia Seramporianæ.

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