Page images








Oriental Languages.

s“And I saw another Angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the EVERLAST. ING GOSPEL to preach unto them that dwell on the Earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tougue, and people,”

Rev. xiv, 6.






&c. &c.

In his late Discourses before the University of Cambridge, the Author noticed incidentally some general circumstances of the darkness of Paganism, and of the means which are now employed to diffuse the light of · Christianity in the East. This awakened a desire in some Members of that learned Body to know the particulars; for if there were a just expectation of success, and if the design were conducted in consonance with the principles and order of the Church of England, it might be a proper subject for their countenance and co-operation. A more detailed account, therefore, will probably be read with interest. Many, doubtless, will rejoice to see the stream of Divine knowledge, and civilization flowing to the utmost ends of the earth. And even those who have hitherto heard of the progress of Christianity with little concern, may be induced to regard it with a humane solicitude.

In the College of Fort-William in Bengal, there was a department for translating the Scriptures into the Oriental languages; and, so early as 1805 (the fifth year of its institution) a commencement had been made in five languages. The first version of any of the Gospels in the Persian and Hindostanee languages which were printed in India, issued from the Press of the College of Fort-William. The Persian was superintended by Lieut. Colonel Colebrooke, and the Hindostanee by William Hunter, Esq. The Gospels were translated into the Western Malay by Thomas Jarrett, Esq. of the Civil Service; into the Orissa language by Pooroosh Ram, the Orissa Pundit; and, into the Mahratta language by Vydyunath, the Mahratta Pundit, under the superintendance of Dr. William Carey.*

The College was founded on the 4th of May 1800. After it had flourished for almost seven years, during which period it produced nearly one hundred volumes in Oriental literature, the Court of Directors resolved on reducing its establishment within narrower limits on the 1st of January 1807. In consequence of this measure, the translations of the Scriptures and some other literary works were suspended.

As this event had been long expected, the Superintendants of the College, who were sensible of the importance of restoring Sacred learning to the East, had begun, some time before, to consider of the means, by which that benefit might yet be secured. Much expense had already been incurred. Many learned natives had come from remote regions to Calcutta, whose services could not be easily replaced; and who never could have been assembled, but by the influence of the supreme government, as exerted by the Marquis Wellesley. The Court of Directors were probably not fully aware of the importance of the works then carrying on, (although, indeed, their objection was not so much to the utility, as to the expense of the Institution) and it was believed that a time would come, when they would be happy to think that these works had

•See “First Four Years of the College of Fort. William:" p. 330, Cadell and Davies.

fIbid, 219.

not been permitted to fall to the ground. It was not,
however, their causing the expense to cease which was
the chief source of regret; but that the unity of the
undertaking was now destroyed. The College of
Fort-William had been identified with the Church
of England; and, under that character, had extended
a liberal patronage to all learned men who could pro-
mote the translation of the Scriptures. But now these
translations being no longer subject to its revision, its
responsibility would also cease. *

Under these circumstances the Superintendants of the College resolved to encourage individuals to proceed with their versions by such means as they could command; and to trust to the contributions of the

[ocr errors]

*It will be gratifying to the public to learn that the College of FortWilliam is now in a flourishing state, and has received the final sanction and patronage of the East - India Company. It owes much to the cultivated mind and liberal spirit of Lord MINTO, the present Governor. General of India. His Lordship had not been many months in that country, before he perceived its importance to the interests of the British Empire in the East; and his annual Speeches at the public Disputations, shew that he thinks the College of Fort-William deserves as much of his attention and support as any department under his Government. It will be yet more gratifying to many to hear that the College of FortWilliam is likely to become once more a fountain of Translation for the Sacred Scriptures. Dr. LEYDEN, Professor of the Hindostanee Language, has come forward (March 1810) with a proposal to superintend the Translation of the Scriptures into seven Languages, hitherto little cultivated in India. This subject will be noticed hereafter.

It was expected that the East India College at Hertford would eventu. ally supersede the College in Bengal; but it is obvious, that in order to give any efficiency to the purposes of a College at home, there must be also a College abroad, Little more than the elements of the Oriental Languages can be conveniently learnt in England. But this elementary labor at home is doubtless so much time saved in India. And thus far the Institution at Hertford, independently of its other objects, is highly useful, in subserviency to the College of Fort William. The two Insti. tutions combine the primary idea of Marquis Wellesley; and the expense is not less than that Statesman had originally intended. There is this differ. ence in the execution, that there are now iwo Institutions instead of one. His Lordship proposed that the two Institutions should be in India, com. bined in one; and his reasons were, that the organs of speech in youth are more flexible at an early age for learning a new language: and that the constitution of young persons assimilates more easily to a strange cli.

mate. There are various advantages however in having the elementary - Institution at home which may counterbalance these reasons; and if it

continue to be conducted with ihe same spirit and effect which have lith\erio distinguished it, I think that the present plan is preferable.

« PreviousContinue »