[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

Spain. The brilliant success of his policy in 1840 in Syria, which in wisdom and promptitude was worthy of Chatham, first attracted general attention to him. But even afterwards and when his reputation on the Continent exceeded that of any other Englishman, he hardly held a second rank in his own country.

It is a satisfaction, then, to all who admire ability, that this distinguished minister has lived to gain his present extraordinary ascendency-an ascendency unparalleled since the days of Mr. Pitt. As a diplomatist he has never had an equal in England, and his foreign policy has generally been justified by the results. He was the first English statesman who looked upon the Orleanists as unalterably hostile to England, and who probably rejoiced at their fall.* Fortunate, too, was it that the seals of the foreign office had been restored to his vigorous grasp before the great revolutionary outbreak of 1848; and considering the dangers abroad and the difficulties at home, a weak ministry, a hostile court, hesitating and unfriendly colleagues, and bitter critics in parliament, his success was very great. It is not probable that until his dismissal in 1851 he had ever looked forward to any other office than that of foreign secretary. That step paved the way for his advancement to the premiership, where in maintaining himself he has displayed such extraordinary resources. Lord Palmerston is naturally a very able man.

Much as his tact and experience have assisted him, they would have been of comparatively little use without intellectual powers of a high order. His long service in diplomatic matters drew away until recent years his attention from domestic questions, of which his knowledge is still limited, but such as it is it goes a good way. Of legislation he knows as little as did Sir Robert Peel of foreign affairs. One-great gift he possesses to a rare degree, and that is the power of inspiring general confidence. This is owing to his broad national feelings. He confines his sympathies to no party or class, but is a thorough Englishman, with his countrymen's virtues and foibles; devotedly attached to his native country, and governed in his policy by his opinions of her interest. Thus he has not inspired any great degree of confidence abroad, much as he is respected and even admired. Clear-sighted rather

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

* Sir James Graham, in his speech on Lord Palmerston's foreign policy in 1850, charged him with having by his intrigues brought about the revo lution of 1848. He evidently thought this a most solemn charge. We do not know how true it may be.


than far-sighted, he deals with present difficulties without looking very far into the future, and it is very seldom that he does not see his way out of them. His generous efforts to shield his colleagues and subordinates from censure, and the readiness with which he assumes responsibility for their actions, add not a little to his popularity. In his kindly nature, too, there is very little or no vindictiveness, and he seems to treasure up no bitterness towards men who have made most violent attacks upon him Without any particular theories or principles of government, he cannot be classed in the highest rank of statesmen. But his many admirable and well-balanced qualities, his great knowledge and experience, and his untiring energy place him in a most honorable position in the second rank.

We should have liked to devote a small space to Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Disraeli, the lieutenants of the rival parties, and whom our generation will probably see enrolled among the English premiers. But we must leave them for another time.

ART. VI.-The New Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus

Christ: the common English Version corrected. By the Final Committee of the American Bible Union. New York, American Bible Union, 1865.

An eminent writer has remarked that translators are seldom men of genius'; they are as jackals in the world of letters. An exception should be made in favor of those who undertake to translate the Bible. We do not mean that all who have undertaken the work possessed genius or even learning, but that men of the highest order of intellect have devoted themselves for years to the task; and, moreover, that a good vernacular version of the Bible is a work that requires the highest talent for its execution. Very few, save those who have tried, are aware of the difficulty of making a good translation of any work. It is not sufficient to know the two languages. An American may feel perfectly at home in a good classic and idiomatic French author, for instance, and yet be unable


nor less.

to translate a single chapter of it well. Set him down to it, and he seizes upon the first English words and expressions that come into his head, provided they express in English, no matter how awkwardly, the idea so beautifully put in French. In general, the translator does his part best who acts the good interpreter. Not words, but ideas, he has to translate, and he should endeavor so to render these as to transfuse the tone and spirit of the original into his composition. If this were only attended to, we should not see so many books done out of other languages without being put into English.


case of the Bible, however, is altogether a peculiar

Here the translator is not allowed to play the interpreter. The liberty of diction permitted in other works is denied in this instance. The book being the word of God, his word we want, not the translator's. Every jot and tittle of the book is deemed of importance, and every jot and tittle of the original we must have in our vernacular, neither more

Before we proceed to what is more particularly our object in the present article-namely, to make some remarks on certain recent translations, especially on that of the body which styles itself “ The Final Committee,”—we will refer briefly to some of the old Bibles which are regarded as standards. There are various editions of the Hebrew Bible, both manuscript and printed, which in many instances differ considerably from each other. It is generally admitted that the best of the former are those copied by the Jews of Spain. The most ancient printed editions of the Hebrew Bible are those published by the Jews of Italy; and it may be justly added that those printed under Jewish supervision are the most accurate. The one esteemed the most correct is that published at Soncinum in 1486, but this only contained the books of the prophets.

Of the Greek versions, the most ancient and probably the most correct is the Septuagint. The second Greek Bible is that of Venice, published in 1518, and known as the Aldine edition. The third in the order of time is that of the Vatican, published at Rome in 1587. An immense amount of labor was bestowed upon this by Cardinal Caraffa and other learned men, who were employed on it for nine years by order, and under the supervision, of Pope Sixtus V. Different editions of this have since been published, each distinguished by peculiar features ; but the most celebrated is that pub


lished at Paris in 1628, and which contains a Latin version annexed to the Greek, together with the Greek Scholia, and the notes and various readings by Nobilius. _It is worthy of remark, in passing, that it is from this all our English editions, including that known as “ King James's,” have been taken.

Of all the Latin versions the Vulgate is undoubtedly the best ; but there have been two known by this title, the Ancient and the Modern ; the former being sometimes called “the old Italic,” to distinguish it from versions made in other countries. The old Vulgate was translated from the Greek Septuagint, for the use of the Latins soon after their conversion to Christianity. St. Jerome, one of the most learned men of his time, was not pleased with it, however, and accordingly he undertook a version of his own, which he completed between 370 and 350. This also is known as the Ancient Vulgate, but it has met the fate of all other editions bearing the same title.

It is true that what is called the Modern Vulgate is abundantly old. The two principal editions of it are those of Sixtus V. and Clement VIII. The former pope collected the most ancient manuscripts and best printed copies to be found, and invited the most learned men from all parts of the Christian world to aid in the work ; to these he joined a congregation of cardinals for their instruction and counsel, and being himself one of the most accomplished scholars of the age, he presided over all.

It is not strange that the whole Christian world regarded this edition, published in 1090, as perfect. But it was greatly improved under the auspices of Clement VIII., whose edition, published in 1592, contained not fewer than two thousand emendations on the text of his predecessor. This version received the sanction of the Council of Trent ; and it has since been the standard of the Catholic Church. The most learned Protestant critics have admitted its general accuracy, including Grotius, Walton, Beza, and Casaubon. Even while religious controversy raged to such an extent as to seem likely to warp the judgment of the most liberal and most enlightened, the University of Oxford declared, in the preface to its edition of the Greek Testament published in 1675, that there was no version of the Bible in any language worthy of comparison with the Vulgate. We need speak of no more old editions for the present; the few we have alluded to, considered as examples, will give some idea of the difficulties which beset even the most learned men when they undertake so herculean a task as an improved translation of the Bible.



It is clear,then, that the man or men who come forward with a "corrected” version of the Testament should give some assurance to the public of two indispensable qualifications good faith and ability. A version by Tom, Dick, or Harry is a thing to be thrown into the fire by those who have no means of judging whether it be God's word or not Such a version can have no sacredness with the masses, since they have no grounds for believing it to be the Bible-- the very Bible. We object to the “ Common English Version Corrected,” because coming to us without a single word of preface. What authority has it? Not a tenth part of our American citizens know anything about the Bible Union or the “ Final Committee.” What assurance have we of their good faith ; and that being supposed, what proofs of their competency have been laid before us? Who are the “ Final Committee" at all? Are they known, and worthy of trust, as biblical scholars ?

And speaking of scholarship, another objection presents itself. The “ Testament” is put into our hands as corrected by the "Final Committee.We could wish they had set forth, in general terms, in what our common and lorg-used English version needed correction. They seem to have forgotten that King James's version was received only upon the very highest human authority. All the learning of Europe, at least of the Protestant churches, was brought into requisition at the getting up of that version. After much consultation and consideration, some general rules for the guidance of the translators were arrived at, and sanctioned. These had to be observed, and were. Those who wrought out our common version were eminent and well-known scholars. They had, it may be said, moreover, all Europe in consultation; and the translation, when accomplished and corrected, received the approbation of the most learned divines of the Anglican and other Protestant ehurches. The writer of this paper is very anxious for the advance of biblical studies. We own to many faults in our English version. We should certainly desire to see them corrected. We should wish, too, that a book which ought to be so constantly in the hands of all could be brought into closer harmony of expression with modern English than King James's version is. But a text prepared with such care and learning, handed down with such reverence by our fathers, sæculorum usu comprobatus, we cannot see coolly set aside by an unknown committee without & protest. We protest against it as devoid of that external

« VorigeDoorgaan »