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In this work I reach the threshold of what I would fain have as the crowning work of my Benares series,-an extensively commented version, namely, of the Scriptures in Sanskrit, for facile reproduction in all the languages of India.
In the preface to an Essay on“ Christianity contrasted with Hindú Philosophy” (Madden, London, 1859), I stated that it was the writer's desire “to be enabled to devote himself to the transla
tion and commentation of the Bible in Sanskrit ; taking hook by book, not perhaps in the order of the canon,—for the com
pletion of such a work as is here intended is not to be looked for “ in a lifetime, but in the order in which it might seem most ad“visable to solicit the attention of enquirers, from whom it would
scarcely be advisable to withhold the New Testament till they “ should have threaded all the historical details of the Old." I went on to say, that, “ In speaking of a translation of the Bible “ in Sanskrit as a desideratum, the writer is very far indeed from “ignoring the Sanskrit version of the Baptist Missionaries ; but his “own investigations have shown him that this version-valuable as,
in many respects it is,—was made at a time when Sanskrit litera“ture had not been sufficiently examined to make a correct version
possible. The mere mastery of the Grammar and the Dictionary “ does not give one the command of a language.
As well might “ it be expected that the study of a mineralogical cabinęt should “ make a geologist. Words as well as rocks, to be rightly compre“ hended, must be studied in situ. A single example of our mean"ing will suffice, and we need go no further for it than the first verse of the first chapter of the Book of Genesis in the Sanskrit
“ version of the Baptist Missionaries. The Hindú is there told " that, in the beginning, God created ákása and prithivi? Now “ in the dictionary, ákáśa will, no doubt, be found opposite the “ word · heaven,' and prithivi opposite the word ' earth ;' but if the “ books of the Nyáya philosophy be looked into, it will be found
that ákása is to be regarded as one of the five elements (the five
hypothetical substrata of the five diverse qualities cognised by the “ five senses severally) and that prithivi is another of the five.
Consequently, when the next verse proceeds to speak of the “ waters—a third one among the five—the learned Hindú reader is
staggered by the doubt whether it is to be understood that the “waters were uncreated, or whether the sacred penman had made "an oversight. A Pandit once propounded this dilemma, in great triumph, to myself; and he was much surprised at find
ing that the perplexity could be cleared up. But it is obvious “what powers of mischief we may place in the hands of unscru“pulous opponents, by leaving our versions of Scripture thus need“ lessly open to cavil.”
In the same preface I remarked, that, “An occasional watch"word of Protestants, and a good one in its proper place, is the Bible “ without note or comment! This is right, when the design is “to exclude such notes and comments as those of the Douay ver"sion, and to make appeal to the unbiassed judgment of Euro
peans, as to the Romish and the reformed interpretations of Scripture language. But when, as in the case of the Hindu
enquirer, the question is not, which (of two or more) is the “ meaning, but simply what is the meaning,-notes and comments “ become the helps or the substitutes of a living teacher. English “clergymen have commentaries to refer to, and if we may ever look “ forward to an efficient native Christian clergy, these native clergymen also ought to be similarly supplied.”
As no one else seems to contemplate undertaking the task here indicated, I enter upon it myself, --- with all those deficiencies on my part which are best known to myself ;—so that at least a, commencement shall have been made. I should gladly see it superseded by a better.
As this sample of commentary invites criticism, I may as well mention what kind of criticism is of no use to me.
When one writes
“The smallest donation thankfully received,” it is tacitly implied that the donation shall not be what the desiderant does not care to have. The criticism, then, which takes as its watchword « Without note or comment” is of no use to me, and may spare itself the trouble of claiming my attention. “No Irish need apply." The man who thinks the whole matter so plain that he who runs may read, is a lucky man, He is an enviable man,but he should carry his gifts and his graces meekly. Thankful that he has been born of Christian parents in a Christian land,—that he has not had to become a Christian, but has, one might almost say, been born a Christian, he should beware of indulging a proud humility, such as betrays itself when he frowns upon other people's intellectual difficulties. The spirit decently befitting the gifts and graces of one so highly—so undeservedly—blest, is not censorious contempt for doubts and difficulties ; and the attainment of the fitting spirit might perhaps be facilitated, to the man no more troubled with thought than is the leg of his dinner-table, if he were habitually to dwell upon
the wholesome reflection “ that the same causes which “ make him a Churchman in London, would have made him a “ Buddhist or a Confucian in Pekin.”* This is a fact of which young Missionaries are apt to be sadly-ludicrously-unaware.
I do not bespeak, for this undertaking, the favour of those to whom its design and—in some measure at least—its execution are not likely to commend themselves ; but I need not deny myself the indulgence of a desire to place beyond all fair charge of ambiguity the claims to approval advanced for themselves by my educational labours-so far as they go-in the cause of all truth. What
Mill, “ On Liberty,” p. 35.
claims approval is--the design. How very far short the execution falls, I myself know as well as any one. I am an advocate, then, for the “ division of labour.” One division of labour, (-using the word division in its concrete sense,–) in the sphere of human enquiry, or “ Globus Intellectualis," is the philosophically dividing of all else, and the ensuring, by this means,—or the endeavouring to ensure,—the fullest return for labour in each department, by removing or obviating disputed-boundary questions, and fostering a lucrative commerce between the friendly provinces of the whole united empire of knowledge. Branches of science are too often cultivated not merely without an eye to their mutually respective bearings, but even with an evil eye to these. The Romish priest looks askance on the astronomer and on Astronomy; the Anglican divine is often far from having got over his jealousy not merely of the geologist but of Geology ; and the model Scotch Presbyterian is jealous of everything that might by possibility bring in question the inspired character of King James's translators,—his blind and dogged faith wherein (not usually knowing the originals, and still more rarely caring for them,-) is the solitary thread by which he thinks that he can safely hold on to the Rock of Ages, and escape drifting out upon a Pyrrhonic sea of endless uncertainty. Now this is a poor and shabby state of things. In point of narrow-mindedness there is little to choose between the bigotry of the self-styled Catholic with his Papal infallibility, and the model Scotch Presbyterian with his bibliolatry—his worship of the Authorized English Version—and his jealousy at once of science, of philosophy, and of criticism. All the three-criticism, philosophy, and science,—are the willing and ready handmaids of Revelation, though so often distrustfully repelled as if they were insidious foes. Mischievous and debasing as is the theological jealousy against science in Europe, it is even more mischievous in India. It is made a common reproach to our Colleges that they have proved themselves nurseries of infidelity. As to how far this is true, I offer no