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Arabia, it being composed in the classic, and not in the vernacular dialect of that county. For a similar reason the old Persian translation is of no use in Persia.
3. But even supposing a Chinese version of the Scriptures to have been executed in England, how is it to be printed? or in what form presented to the - Chinese? Has it been seriously proposed to print it in a moveable type, and on English paper! It ought to be printed: not in the moveable type, nor in the stereo-type, but in the mode commonly used in China. The characters are by the Chinese engraved on a tablet of wood the size of the page, and the impression is thrown off, as by copperplates in England. At Canton, the dispatches from Pekin which arrive in the morning, are put into the hands of the engrarer, and the newspaper is thrown off in the afternoon of the same day. We have Chinese artists now in Calcutta, who engrave on wood with neatness and accuracy; and who are competent to engrave the whole of the scriptures in the Chinese manner; and to print them on China paper, and in such a form, that the book shall appear to have been published in China.
If in this projected translation at home, the real object be utility to the Chinese people, by affording to them a faithful record of the revealed word of God in their vernacular tongue, we have no hesitation in affirming that that object will be attained with more certain advantage, by remitting one-fourth of the sum, which it has been proposed to embark in the undertaking in England, to the college of Fort-William in Bengal: which institution, it may be observed, (independantly of this particular object, and considered merely as the fountain of Christian knowledge to the oriental world,) is well entitled to the ample support of every Christian church and religious society in Europe.
4. Since the college report of literature, published in September last, (1804,) a commencement has been made in translating the scriptures in the Chinese language. The book of Genesis and the gospel of St. Matthew are in course of translation; and some chapters of each have already been printed off.
The translator is Johannas Lassar, a native of China, and professor of the Chinese langauge assisted by a Chinese moonshee.. He was lately employed by the Portuguese government at Macao, in conducting a correspondence with the court at Pekin. Beingan Armenian Christian, he translates from the Armenian Bible.
It must be known to some of the learned in Europe, that the Armenian version of the scriptures is one of the most accurate extant. It is also remarkable for its antiquity; being among the first translations after the Septuagint; and is styled by the learned orientalists, Gollius and La Croze, the "queen of versions." Though the Armenian language have no affinity to the Hebrew, or to any other language in the world, it abounds in the oriental idiom; and this Bible is therefore considered by us as eminently useful in collating new versions in the Oriental tongues. The translators of the Armenian Bible (called the Interpreters) were famed for their piety and learning; their lives are recorded in Armenian history in the fifth century of our æra, and their translation is reverenced by their nation as an inspired work. From this Armenian original, our translator (who is ignorant of the Greek and Hebrew languages) is enabled to render a faithful version into the language of China.
We expect soon to be in possession of those portions of the scriptures which have been translated into the Chinese language by the Romish missionaries; and which are interspersed in their missals, and catechestical books. These specimens will be of use in the general collation of the text, and particularly
in translating proper names; since it would be im. proper to deviate unnecessarily from the expression already familiar in China.
The mode which has been adopted for editing the Chinese Bible, is the following:
Each verse is printed in English, in columns of one or two lines, from the top to the bottom of the page, and the Chinese version is printed in the usual manner, in a corresponding column. The English is introduced with a view to render the work a good class book for students in the Chinese language. The whole is translated in the Mandarine dialect; but wherever there appears a danger of the sense being misunderstood, there are marginal readings in the familiar dialects.
5. On the expediency of publishing the Scriptures in China, we shall offer a few observations.
It is the solemn duty of our imperial nation to diffuse Christian knowledge throughout the world at all times; but more particularly at those periods, when the providence of God shall point out to her the means of doing it, and at the same time, offer to her advantage, by the execution. To the east and west of peaceful Hindostan, there is a “shaking of the nations." This seems to be favorable not only to our own stability, but to the extension of our civila izing influence in Asia. The Wahabins to the west are extinguishing Mahometanism. And the enemies of the Tartar dynasty in China threaten the overthrow of that ancient government. After a slumber of many ages, that mighty einpire seems to be on the eve of a terrible convulsion. The spirit of insurrection which broke forth about five years ago in the western provinces, is now diffusing itself towards the eastern parts of the empire; and a prophecy is spread abroad that the end of the Tartar dominion is at hand.
The Chinese are permitted by existing law, to choose what religion they please; the present emperor
and his court profess one faith, and the people another. They are a curious and inquisitive race,and would most certainly read any new book which should be put into their hands. "The press in China," says Mr. Barrow, is as free as in England, and the profession of printing apen to every one. It was the press in Europe that opened a free access to the doctrines of that religion, which'of all others, is best calculated for the promotion of individual happiness and public virtue."* The copies of the Bible would soon de multiplied in China. If an individual (a prime mover of the revolutionary opinions in Europe) found means to send his “Rights of Man" to China, t shall not our national zeal in the defence of truth and of social happiness urge us to diffuse among that people a code of nobler principles? There are no arguments against this measure of a benign philosophy and true philanthropy, but those which are contained in the books of Voltaire and Rousseau.
6. The British nation, though so intimately connected with China by commercial negociation, bas no institution for instruction in the Chinese language at home or abroad. The consequences of such disadvantage, on our influence, our character, and our commerce at Canton, are well illustrated by an authentic historian, who had the best opportunities of obtaining information on the subject
If it be possible any where to furnish to Europeans the means of regular instruction in the Chinese language, it may be expected at the college of Fort William in Bengal; our propinquiry to China affording opportunities of obtaining a constant supply of teachers and books; and of maintaining a regular correspondence with its learned men. Our territories on the cortinent are contiguous to the Chinese frontier; and our islands are resorted to by the Chinese people.
See Barrow's Travels, page 392.
Tbid. 396. $John Barrow, csq secretary to lord Macartney's Embas y. See his Travels in China, page 616. Mr. Barrow is the only writer from Kircher donnwards, who has illustrated China,
The French are at this time cultivating the Chinese language with great assiduity: and no doubt with a prospect of certain advantage. We have in India satisfactory evidence that they meditate an embassy to China, or a descent on Cochin China, as soon as peace in Europe shall give them opportunity.* “The French,” says Mr. Barrow, "aware of the solid ad. vantages that result from the knowledge of languages are at this time holding out every encouragement to the study of Chinese literature; obviously not without design. They know that the Chinese character is understood from the gulf of Siam to the Tartarian Sea, and over a very considerable part of the great Eastern Archipelago; and that the Cochin Chinese, with whom they have already firmly rooted themselves, use no other writing than the pure Chinese character, which is also the case with the Japanese. It is to be hoped therefore that the British nation will not neglect the means of being able to meet the French, if necessary, even on this ground.
During the short interval of the last peace, this expedition was talked of publickly at the Mauritius; and mentioned to the English there as a project of France, to which the British government could not possibly have an objection
† Barrow's Travels in China, page 616.