« PreviousContinue »
CEYLON.—THE KING OF DENMARK.
With commendable zeal the Dutch settlers in Batavia, on the opposite side of the Indiản Ocean, encouraged the translation of the Scriptures into the Malay, and an edition was printed in that tongue in 1759. In the Dutch colony of Ceylon, also, the Scriptures were translated into Cingalese, under the patronage of the governor, Van Imhoff, who had established à printing press at Colombo for this purpose. In Tranquebar, the Portuguese settlers printed a version of the Bible in Portuguese, giving to their countrymen abroad, and to all who could read the language, (at that time a numerous body) that inspired volume, which was all but denied to the inhabitants of the mother country.
During the same century, a small part of Scripture was translated into the languages of the Fanbee and Accrà countries in Africa, by order of the king of Denmark ; and an abridgment of the Bible was printed in the Susu dialect by the rev. H. Brunton, who had been sent out to that continent by the Scotch Missionary Society.
In America, the work which Eliot had begun under the encouragement of Boyle, was carried on with much zeal. Experience Mayhew translated part of Scripture into the Indian dialect of Massachusetts. Mr. Freeman, the Dutch minister at Shenectady, gave a part of the Bible to the Mohawks, as did the Moravians to the Delawares, the Esquimaux, and the Greenlanders. The history of the Greenland
THE HALLE PRESS, AND PIETISTS. 105 version, prepared by the Moravian missionaries, Hans Egede and his son Paul, exhibits a noble example of self-devotedness ; and their hope, though long deferred, as well as their faith and perseverance, received in the end a glorious reward. If any one wish for an instance of true Christian heroism, he may find it in the Account of the labours of these men, given in Crantz's History of Greenland.
Nor ought we to omit all mention of an establishment at Halle, founded in 1712, by Charles Hildebrand, baron of Canstein, for the sole purpose of printing Bibles. This institution was carried on for many years with unwearying activity. In the printing-offices, frames of the Scriptures in German were kept constantly ready for printing the whole Bible of various sizes, from the folio to the duodecimo, and there had issued from it, by the end of the eighteenth century, as many as three million copies, chiefly in the above-named tongue. It was here, also, that the main impulse was given for some years to the Danish missions in the east. Here missionaries were trained. Hence they were sent forth; the prime movers heing the Pietist leaders who resided in the town, and filled chairs in the university.
And now our principle of arrangement may be conveniently changed. Hitherto we have traced the progress of translation in chronological order, and when our field of inquiry was the whole preceding centuries, it was not diffi
cult to keep the various topics we had to discuss sufficiently distinct ; but to continue that order when treating of a period of sixty years, would land us in interminable confusion. We should need to pass from Greenland to India, from Africa to the South Seas, till all remembrance of the progress of our work was lost in a mere list of dates and versions. We shall cease, therefore, to follow the order of time, and adopt the order of philology.
The number of languages spoken in the world is not certainly known. Estimates vary from one thousand to two thousand. In Africa alone upwards of two hundred languages and dialects are reckoned, and the Lord's Prayer has been printed by the press of the emperor of Austria in eight hundred and fourteen; of which six hundred and eight are dialects, and two hundred and six distinct tongues. The history of Biblical translation, however, is concerned with about two hundred and fifty only ; several of which are mere dialects, and others claim no present notice, as, though versions have been attempted or commenced, no part of Scripture has been printed in them.
By careful inquiry and comparison, the whole of these languages have been classed under six or eight divisions, and it is highly probable that
progress of philology may still further reduce them. These divisions we take as they naturally present themselves in connexion with our present subject. 1. The Shemitic. 2. The IndoEuropean 3. The Monosyllabic. 4. The
Ugro-Tartarian. 5. The Polynesian. 6. The African. 7. The American. In the following tables we give in the first column the name of the language, and its place under the particular division to which it belongs. In the second the date when the first edition was printed (or, in a few cases, when the translation was made.) In the third, the number of copies circulated by the various Societies formed in different parts of the world. In the case of most versions into languages spoken by the heathen or unenlightened nations, those numbers represent all that has been done in this department. In the case of the English, French, and other versions, it represents of course but part, as many thousand copies have been printed and circulated by other publishers. In the fourth will be found the names of the chief translators; and in the fifth, the names of the people for whom the versions are designed, together with their number. By examining the second column it will be at once seen to what period each version belongs ; and by comparing the third and fifth, we may at once gather how little, or in some few cases how much, has been done to give the Bible to the world.
The languages of the first class, the Shemitic, it will be seen, extend from the Gold Coast to the Persian Gulf; from Zangebar to Aleppo. The Syriac and a dialect of the Ethiopic, (called the Tigré,) the Amharic, and the Arabic, are spoken tongues ; the others being used chiefly for literary or ecclesiastical purposes.