Imágenes de páginas

in French, German, and English, like a native. He was very fond of the English language ; and at the request of Mr. Boyle, translated the Church-of-England Catechism into the Turkish. He also composed different works himself, several of which have been published. But the chief of Hali. Bey's works is his translation of the whole Bible into the Turkish language. This was undertaken at the instigation, and under the direction of the famous Levin Warner, who was the Dutch Ambassador at the court of the Grand Sultan at that time; and the translation appears to have been completed about the year 1666, the very year in which Seaman's translation of the New Testament into Turkish was printed at Oxford. Hali-Bey's translation, corrected and ready for the press, was sent to Leyden by Warner, in order to be printed; but this has never yet been done, and it still remains in the Library of that University, among their valuable collection of Oriental Manuscripts. Hali-Bey also wrote a grammar and dictionary of the Turkish language ; but I have been unable, as yet, to learn what is become of them and the Church Catechism. This wonderful man intended returning into the bosom of the Christian Church, but died before he accomplished his design."

The learned Dr. Hyde corroborates several of these particulars, particularly attesting Ali Bey's wish to retire from his Mohammedan connexion. His being employed by Robert Boyle to translate the catechism into Turkish is no mean attestation to his competency and character.

The spirit in which Baron Von Diez commenced his arduous undertaking, appears in the following passage of one of his letters :

"I wish with all my heart that the work might be accomplished for the glory of God and the benefit of my fellow-men. Only one anxious thought sometimes enters my mind. I am sixty-three years of age; and enjoy a tolerably good state of health, it' I except occasional attacks of the gout: now should it please God to call me in the midst of this undertaking, I certainly know not who could carry it on after my death. But I sball pray God to prolong my life till the work be completed.”

This venerable senator and Christian, after two years of diligent application to his delightful but laborious task, sank under his infirmities, and expired in April 1817. One of the secretaries of the Prussian Bible-Society who saw him a few days before his death gives an affecting account of his last interview with him :.“ He was resting his head on his writing-desk, hardly able to speak; but the few words he uttered gave me much pleasure. I still indulge a hope,' said he, 'that God will restore me, that I may be able to finish the Turkish Bible ; but if he should otherwise have ordered it, His will be done. I can say with Paul, . If I live, I live unto the Lord; or if I die, I die unto the Lord.' 'I partook,' continued he, . of the Lord's supper last week, in order to be strengthened thereby in communion with my Saviour.'”

The conductors of the Bible Society were much afflicted at this intelligence, and feared that the work, to which they had looked with so much affectionate interest would be impeded or stopped; when by one of those apparent contingencies, as to men they seem, but in all the particulars of which, remarks Mr. Owen, “ the devout reader will not fail to recognise and adore the workings of Divine Providence,” another editor was found in a learned Protestant gentleman, M. Kieffer, the professor of the Turkish language at Paris, and interpreting secretary to the king of France. The appointment of Professor Kieffer to the work, or rather the grateful acceptance of his valuable services, has been much blamed by Mr. Haldane and his friends, though I know not for what sufficient reason; but it will be seen, that the original recommendation of the manuscript to the Earl-street committee was not by him, and that he was not the individual to whose editorship it was first consigned; nor had he any concern in it till after the death of its first editor; so that it is as untrue as it is ungracious and absurd, to represent the Bible Society, in its love for Neology and Socinianism, as seizing an old worthless manuscript of a Polish renegado, as if for no better purpose than to dazzle the world and make a pecuniary job for Professor Kieffer.

As little truth is there in the charge, that the committee allowed the manuscript to be hurried to press without diligent care in the editing. In proof to the contrary, I will quote a passage from one of Mr. Owen's published letters, dated Sept. 10, 1818; at a time when he could not anticipate that any controversy would arise, to call forth that letter in defence of Professor Kieffer. I opened on it casually, in the Appendix to the Bible Society's Fifteenth Report, and am not aware that it has ever before been alluded to in the controversy; but it is quite decisive. .“ Among the objects to which my attention was directed at Paris, and on which it will be expected that I shall report my observations, was that of ascertaining the state and progress of our Turkish New Testament.

“ In order that I might obtain the most complete satisfaction, on the particulars of an undertaking to which so much importance is deservedly attached, I made a point of visiting the study of Professor Kieffer, in which the copy is prepared for the press, and the Imprimerie Royale, in which it is printed.

“ In the first of these, I had an opportunity of observing the state of the original manuscript, and of inferring the laborious nature of the Professor's task, in editing this interesting volume. He transcribes every portion of the text with his own hand; and collates it as he proceeds, with the original Greek, the English, German, and French versions ; tbe Tartar versions of Seaman, and of the Scotch Missionaries at Karass; the Arabic, by the Propaganda, Erpenius, Sabat, and the London quarto; the Persian, in the London Polyglott, and that by Martyn : availing himself also throughout, of the assistance afforded by Parkhurst, Rosenmüller, and Griesbach. All these books of reference are disposed on the Professor's table, in such a manner as to enable him to consult them with the greatest order and convenience ; and from the comprehensiveness of this plan, as well as the exactness with which it is pursued, there is good reason to believe that the work, when it comes out of the Professor's hands, will be as faithful and correct as it would be possible to render the first edition of a version of the Scriptures, which has never before been published.

“ But the literary accomplishments of Professor Kieffer are neither the only, nor, I had almost said, the strongest recommendations which he has to the esteem and the confidence of our Society. To integrity of mind, he unites urbanity of manners. In all his proceedings he is calm and zealous, prudent and persevering, firm and conci. liatory. I am not drawing an imaginary character, nor exaggerating the qualities of a real one. I have witnessed all that I have described ; and I need scarcely observe, after this representation, how much reason we have for thankfulness, that such a successor bas been found to the lamented Von Diez, and that the loss which we sustained in Berlin is likely to be repaired with so much advantage at Paris."

In the Autumn of 1819, I find Dr. Pinkerton at Constantinople ; “his primary object" in his visit being, he says, the revision of the manuscript of the Turkish Bible, before it should be put to press at Paris. First, he finds out Mr. Ruffin, “the most learned and skilful Turkish scholar in Constantinople,” and with him “consults maturely on the subject." This gentleman gives the highest character of the version, particularly mentioning that “the style is pure and fluent, and not in the pompous style of the Divan." Next, Dr. Pinkerton goes to his excellency Mr. Fontin, “a gentleman, who, by his maturity in years, and oriental learning, is exactly such as the importance of the work required;" and his opinion of the work agrees with that of M. Kieffer. Dr. Pinkerton adds :

" It must afford to your committee much pleasure, to see the united testimony of the best judges in Constantinople corroborate the opinion formed of this valuable MS. by your agent, when he first met with it in the University Library of Leyden, and also the opinion which the worthy Baron Von Diez adopted concerning it, after a more mature examination."

I might quote much more, to shew the interest with which the committee watched year after year the progress of the work, and their anxiety that it should come forth in a manner becoming so solemn an undertaking as that of transfusing the words of Infinite Wisdom into a new tongue, for the spiritual instruction of ages yet unborn. M. Kieffer himself remarks, in one of his letters, April 2, 1820, after giving an account of his biblical operations:

“ I can assure you, my friend, that during the last ten months, I have devoted all my

time and strength to those labours; so much indeed, that during all that time I have not been able to take the least relaxation in my favourite study, the oriental languages. I enter with you into this detail, not to make you believe that I am fatigued with these occupations, for I can assure you, that the more I proceed, the more I feel constrained to do so; since they have for me a charm, which attracts me, if I may so express it, against myself, and I can truly say that I reckon the years I have employed in biblical labours among the happiest of my life.”

At length the New-Testament portion of the long-wished for work issued from the press; and never shall I forget the overflcwings of gratitude and delight with which the first copies were hailed when presented to the president by Professor Kieffer himself, at the annual meeting of the Bible Society in Freemasons'-hall in 1819. But all this care and anxiety had not produced an immaculate version; and in consequence of some considerable faults having been pointed out by Dr. Henderson, we find the Society announcing in their Report, two years after, that the circulation was suspended till it had undergone revision; a list being prepared of the minor errata, and the leaves cancelled where defects of importance had been discovered. The next year the revision and suspension continued; but the third, the committee announce that having obtained the opinions of several eminent Turkish scholars, they had thought it right to take off the embargo. The whole of this document, which is very long and elaborate, and contains the attestations of many of the first orientalists in Europe, may be found annexed to the Report for 1824. The general opinion of these gentlemen was decidedly favourable to the work. In the mean while, the revision of the whole Bible went on with renewed assiduity till the vear 1828; when the whole work, with the embodied corrections, issued from the press; upon which Professor Keiffer remarks:

“ I am thankful to the Almighty for having given me the necessary strength and perseverance to complete the printing of the Turkish Bible. I have taken the greatest pains to render this work worthy of the Society, which has been pleased to charge me with it ; and if some faults have crept in, they ought not to be attributed to any negligence on my part, but rather to the imperfection of the works of inan, whose means are so weak and circumscribed."

There requires nothing to complete the history of the case but the following testimonies of Mr. Platt and Dr. Henderson. The former, in his pamphlet published in 1826, says, in relation to the errors, errata, and cancels, above-mentioned:

“ Not more than one hundred Testaments at most, if so many, had been issued, so far as I can ascertain, when notice of these errors was received. The circulation was immediately suspended, and Professor Kieffer set to revise the text. He furnished a list of errata, drawn up with scrupulous minuteness; which list was referred to the examination of a sub-committee, assisted, on the occasion, by a well-known biblical critic, the Rev T. Hartwell Horne. This sub-committee found the greater part of the faults pointed out to be so utterly insignificant, that it would be quite useless to disfigure the work by noticing them; and a table was drawn up, to be appended to the Testament, containing all that could be considered of the least importance ; in number, forty-nine. But even of these there was not one that appeared directly to affect any point of faith or practice. Those that appeared to do so, were remedied in another and more effectual way, by cancelling the leaves on which they occurred. The leaves so cancelled were in number eight. Having already observed that scarcely any copies had yet been issued, I need scarcely add, that the whole story about sending bundles of leaves to Turkey, to be inserted in copies already in circulation, is a mere fiction : its falsehood is as gross, as the charge which it conveys is insulting.”

Thus wrote Mr. Platt when an honorary officer of the Society. In the edition of his pamphlet just published, since his secession, he adds :

“ In reference to the controversy on the subject of the Turkish Testament, I believe the objections made by Dr. Henderson against that Testament to have been, in the main, well founded, though the ground for such objections has been removed in the second edition of that Testament, and the first edition of the entire Bible which has now been some time completed.”

To complete all, we have the strongest attestation of Dr. Henderson

himself, in a letter addressed as long ago as April 1828, to the secre. taries of the Society ; in which, after stating that the three species of faults which he had observed in the first impression (one of which was that Divan style which the Society had been assured was avoided) had all been corrected, he adds:

" As far as I have been able to give attention to the work, as a whole, I am happy in being able to state, that I consider its distribution entitled to the cordial and unqualified support of all who are desirous that the word of the Lord may have free course and be glorified.' Having drawn the attention of the public to the state of this version, as exhibited in the New Testament, published at Paris in 1819, I cannot but feel anxious that they should be put in possession of explicit information relative to the corrections that have been introduced into it, and thus have the means of satisfying themselves that every ground of objection from this quarter against the operations of the Society is now entirely removed. This, I conceive, would be most effectually done by the insertion of this communication in the Appendix to your next Report. I earnestly beseech Almighty God to crown with His effectual blessing the labours of an institution, in the service of which I spent many happy years of my life, and which I shall rejoice still to aid to the utmost of my power.”

After this long, but not uninstructive history, your lordship will wonder at the ingenuity by which party-spirit itself could manufacture grave accusations against the Society out of the above materials, most of which appear to me highly to the Society's honour; or rather, would I say, to the glory of Him who put it into their hearts to begin and complete so great a work for the making known his salvation to the deluded votaries of the false prophet. I see no want of anxiety from the first that the version should be what it ought to be ; and when error was pointed out, the circulation was suspended till it was corrected; and so long as four years ago Dr. Henderson himself expressed his full satisfaction, and stated that every thing had been done that was requisite. And yet at this distance of time, speeches, and circulars, and pamphlets, are industriously circulated, dragging from oblivion the long-corrected Turkish errata of 1819, to prove that in 1832, the Bible Society ought to be re-modelled according to the notion of certain gentlemen who may possibly know how to work a frigate, or manœuvre a regiment, but probably have less skill in matters of biblical literature, and are no judges of the immense difficulties of forming even a tolerable version; and as for forming one that shall not be open to criticism, your lordship knows that it is utterly impracticable. How the Q. E. D. of the necessity of making a law to eject Socinians and Papists from the Bible Society follows from this story of the Turkish Testament, I must leave to wiser heads than mine to discover ; but one thing is very clear, that if better materials for accusation had been accessible, the accusers had not looked out for a peg so weak and old and decayed as this, to support their allegations. It is quite right, and most necessary, that the Society should be shewn their errors in a spirit of truth and affection ; nay, if requisite, remonstrated with or rebuked; though this cannot often be requisite in a voluntary society composed of persons cordially anxious to devote themselves to promote the glory of God, and the best interests of mankind, by the sole and simple measure of circulating his holy word. But to rake up old transactions, the chief agents in which may not be the present conductors of the Society, and some of them may no longer be on this side heaven to account for their conduct,-as particularly in the case of Mr. Owen and the Lausanne version,-is not wise, is not charitable, and, let me say, is not Christian.

LETTER XI. My last letter related to the charges of alleged perversions of the text; my present will be a reply to those of the annexations of notes and comments, and some of these of a nefarious character. Now, my lord, I say at once and unequivocally, that if the committee of the Britishand-Foreign Bible-Society has in any one instance violated, or connived at the violation of, this fundamental rule, it is no longer worthy of public confidence. The merits of a version is a matter of which few can judge, and mistakes may occur notwithstanding the best intentions and the greatest vigilance, but an infringement of a plain rule is an obvious fact, and every person is competent to award the verdict.

The cases which I find alleged are the three following: Certain exceptionable headings to some Hebrew Bibles purchased at the Canstein Institution at Halle in 1818; a preface to a pure Lutheran version published at Strasburg in 1818; and another to some German Bibles purchased at Hanover. The Danish version is also stated to have had à few marginal notes; but I have before mentioned that the London Society had nothing to do with that version, or any copies of it. I should, however, in justice to the Danish revisors add, that they stated their concurrence in the principle of the Bible Society, (I quote from a letter written by Dr. Möller, dated Copenhagen, March 14, 1823), that “in a version for the use of the church," there ought to be no comment, or any thing but what “ belongs to the translation." The Royal Commissioners, says Dr. Möller, appointed to revise the New Testament, “ laid it down as a principle to leave no notes of the kind" (explanatory). ' He adds, and I beseech Mr. Haldane and his friends to mark his words: .“ I recollect only one (in John xiv. 28), where our Lord says, My Father is greater than I. Here is a note, which has a similarity to a comment: This is to be understood of the human nature of Christ.' To this the Socinians would doubtless object, but as we have no Socinian congregations in Denmark, and as the note is undeniably true, it was retained by the Commissioners."

Dr. Möller recollects only one note in this Socinian Testament, and that anti-Socinian !

HEBREW BIBLE. * The facts of the Hebrew Bible were as follows :--The Bible Society had been for many years in communication with that immense continental magazine of biblical circulation, the Canstein Institution at Halle*, the chief conductor of which, Dr. Knapp, was a man most anxious for the extension of the word of God, and strongly and noto. riously opposed to Socinianism and Neology. ..The history of this celebrated Institution is well known to your lordship; but, as it may not be to all who may glance on these pages, the following brief account of it may be acceptable :-It was founded at Halle, in 1710, by Charles Hildebrand, Baron de Canstein; at his decease, the care of it devolved upon the celebrated Professor Franke, founder and director of the Orphan House in that city; and passed in succession to the several directors of that charitable establishment, it thus came under the administration of the Rev. Dr. Knapp. It had subsisted for a period of nearly ninety-five years, when its presses first began to be used for the use of Bible Societies. During that time, above three million copies, either of the whole Bible or New Testament, had been printed in different languages, and dispersed, not only throughout most of the European countries, but even through different parts of America and the Russian Colonies in Asia : many thousand copies had, through this medium of dispersion, been distributed gratuitously to the poor; and there was evidence of the most unquestionable nature, that a signal blessing had attended the whole undertaking. Yet, gigantic as these efforts then appeared, they were little to the issues of modern days. Dr. Knapp stated, some years since, that they were printing nearly thirty thousand copies annually.

« AnteriorContinuar »