Puslapio vaizdai

times find himself stuck fast in the elastic composition of his own invention. Several hundred millions of individuals, all working with the raw material of expression, for a period of some thousands of years, must prove more than a match for the a priori knowledge even of gods and fairies. The case may be illustrated by the Arabic numerals. They are few in number, simple in form, easy to apprehend and remember. Yet they are susceptible of varieties of combination which the wildest flight of imagination would not dream of enumerating. Owing to the nature of the ideas which these symbols represent, however intricate or extended the arrangement, the meaning of the symbols themselves is intelligible at a glance. The symbols of the Chinese language, on the contrary, are not few in number, are not simple in form, and are not easy of comprehension. When compressed into a dictionary, they resemble the Afrite in the Arabian Nights tale, whom the power of Solomon had cooked up in a sealed bottle. When expanded into language, these same symbols resemble the Afrite as he loomed up before the terrified fisherman who had unwittingly let him out, overshadowing sea and land, and capable, to all appearance, of executing any conceivable commission, from that of washing his master's feet, to the construction in a night of the palace of Aladdin.

Or, the Chinese language may be likened to a serpent. Suppose one of these reptiles for the first time brought to light, and imagine the bewilderment of its discoverers as to its means of locomotion. Feet, wings, and fins it has visibly none. All theory and antecedent probability would seem to be against its power of any successful motion, except perhaps rotation on its axis like a log. Yet while his critics are deciding that nature in this case has produced a complete failure, the serpent, disregarding theory, and by the mere power of vermicular impulses and peristaltic contractions, has glided into a crevice with a swiftness which to the beholder is confounding. A tongue which ignores all discriminations of human language hitherto considered indispensable, with no distinction of gender, number, and case in its nouns, no voice, mode, tense, number and person in its verbs-no certainty, in fact, as to what are nouns and what are verbs, the same words serving indiscriminately for both-no recognition of the different offices of words ("parts of speech") a tongue in which the phrases 'solid' and 'hollow'(,), 'dead' and 'alive' (E,) form the single key to all the grammar which is recognized by those who speak it-what are we to expect of such a language as that? Yet, not to institute elaborate comparisons (after the manner of Dr. Gutzlaff) between the Chinese and the Greek, while the former is undeniably deficient in precision, it exhibits a copiousness and flexibility which challenges comparison with any other

language. To discuss these features in themselves, is however far from our present purpose, which is simply to direct attention to their significance as exhibiting the resources of the Chinese as a vehicle for compressing, obscuring, or even totally concealing human thought.

In one of his lectures in Colorado, Charles Kingsley is said to have stopped a large bettle which flew over him, and without for an instant suspending the thread of his discourse, held up the insect, and attentively examined him to ascertain to which particular variety of coleopteran he must be assigned. This is precisely what is required of the student of Chinese. If he does not catch his linguistic beetles upon the wing, he does not catch them at all, and they disappear. Many of these winged words, moreover, instead of passing with the heaving lumbering flight of the beetle, might rather be compared to the swift darting of a humming-bird, which leaves an impression that something-it is difficult to say what-has come, and is now hopelessly gone. A Chinese will often fire a perfectly unintelligible sentence at you, like a bullet, and immediately discharge after it a volley of small shot by way of explanation.

"It is of the essence of proverbial speech," remarks a thoughtful writer, "that it detaches itself from particular occasions, that it has a capacity for various applications, and a fitness for permanent use, and embraces large meanings within narrow limits." In this swivel faculty, or freedom of motion, and readiness to be turned in any direction, Chinese proverbs have no equals. It is due to this characteristic, that it is difficult to be certain that a Chinese expression is completely understood. A Chinese who has never heard it before, may not improbably discover new applications and significancy in an expression, which upon the surface appears perfectly unambiguous. These qualities of Chinese speech, and the facility with which expressions may be misapprehended, may be best illustrated by examples. Let us take the perfectly simple sentence: 'Ride a horse to catch a horse'(). The natural meaning of this expression would seem to be, adaptation of means to end, a thief to catch a thief, to fight the devil with fire, capturing elephants with an elephant (R). Probably not one foreigner in ten would think of its use as an example of absence of mind (like our case of the individual who put his umbrella to bed, and himself stood up behind the door), to search for the very animal you are riding. (So Mr. Scarborough rightly gives it No. 626). Another quite different use of the saying, is however very common, viz., to accept an undesirable situation temporarily, with a view to something better— riding the inferior beast only until a more suitable one is available.

(To be continued.)




all the books which the world contains, religious works obtain the widest circulation; and of religious books, the circulation of the New Testament is by far the widest. Let us look at the facts, and their bearing on the religious history of the world. There are not many religious systems which have attained to stability and permanence in the world's history. Max Müller reckons eight. "The Semitic races have produced three-the Jewish, the Christian, the Mohammedan; the Aryan or Indo-European races, an equal number— the Brahman, the Buddhist, the Parsee. Add to these the two religious systems of China, that of Confucius and Lao-tse, and . . . . you have before you in broad outlines the religious map of the whole world." Of the two latter I shall not need to speak, seeing that I am now writing for those whose knowledge of Chinese religion is more extensive than my own. Of the Parsee religion but a word is necessary. Those who are interested in this most admirable study may consult with pleasure and profit such works as Haug's Sacred Essays of the Parsis, or the Essays in Monier Williams' Modern India, or Clodd's Childhood of Religion. As the Parsîs do not aim at the conversion of the world, and keep their sacred books somewhat to themselves, their literature has not been extensively circulated. The same remark applies to some extent to the ancient Jews, and to the Brahmans. We are thus left with what Professor Max Müller calls the three Missionary religions-Mohammedanism, Buddhism and Christianity. Take these as they stand. The Koran is the Bible of the first. Its language is the Arabic, and the character of the language is sacred. If you meet a Mohammedan in China, Egypt, Turkey or England, Arabic is his religious language, the language of his prayers. consequence is that where Arabic is not the mother tongue of the worshipper, he prays in an unknown tongue; for he generally learns only the sounds, without having the faintest idea of the meaning of the words he utters. The influence exerted by the religion of Mohammed has not therefore been that of his writings, except in so far as the Koran forces men by threats and denunciations. Consequently the Bible has not in the Koran a rival to be feared. This leaves us face to face with Buddhism, and here we begin to feel that there must be something vital, for we feel the pulse beating, and see the proofs of life on every hand. What volumes have during the last century been written on Buddha and Buddhism! A cry comes from Japan, its echo is repeated in China, its rebound is heard in Siam, Burmah, Pegu,


Mongolia and Ceylon. One is bewildered in looking at the long array of books by such scholars as Saint-Hilaire, Hodgson, Schmidt, Turnour, Hardy, Burnouf, Julien, Köppen, Eitel, Alabaster, Edkins, Sangermano, &c., &c.; and then, though the original works are written in Sanskrit, they have not been confined to that language. Whilst you may enter any Buddhist temple to-day, and hear the priests mumbling their prayers in the dead language of India, you will find side by side with this fact another, viz., this, that the Buddhist scriptures have been translated into Chinese, Japanese, Mongolian, Thibetan, Manchu, Burmese, Siamese, &c. And it is this latter fact which gives Buddhism its hold on the people-its literature can be read by the people of various lands in their own tongue.

We turn at last to the New Testament, and what do we find ? In the first century not only were the books collected, but preachers disseminated its doctrines. Soon translations were made into Latin, Syriac, Æthiopic, Egyptian, Gothic, Armenian. Sermons were preached and published, schools for its study established, and commentaries for its elucidation written. Take the work of the Apostolic Fathers, or look at Clarke's Edition of the works of the Anti-Nicene Fathers, and you can begin to form some idea of the hold the New Testament already had upon the world. Consider the years spent by monks and scribes previous to the days of the printing press in multiplying copies of the New Testament. Then add the commentaries produced in Germany, Italy and elsewhere during the middle and later ages. So you come down to the last century, when the press was asserting its power. You find the Bible already in the hands of every Scandinavian, Teutonic and Italic race; it is translated by missionaries and others into all the principal languages of the globe; commentaries, sermons, grammars, lexicons, works on textual criticism, exegesis and homiletics are multiplied; and in fact when you begin to enumerate you know not where to stop. But take another fact. What can have been a greater incentive to study than that which is given by Bible translation and revision ? The student of the textual criticism of the New Testament will know somewhat of the work of Beza, of Stephens, of Erasmus. He will be aware that there are many thousands of difficult passages to collate, and various readings to compare, but he may not have noticed a circumstance to which I wish here to draw attention, as illustrating how wisely God orders all things, that men may have incentives to diligent study of His Word, and be led to a fuller appreciation of its worth. The fact is this. When the critical study of the New Testament was being carried on by Erasums there was in existence a most valuable manuscript known as the Vatican, and marked B. Now, although

Erasmus knew of its existence-for he referred to it for one particular passage he did not get either a transcript or collation of it for his great work. The consequence was, on the one hand, great imperfection in his work, but on the other hand what? It is hard to resist the conviction that "the unflagging industry and devotion that has been conspicuously shewn, generation after generation, in the critical study of the text of the New Testament would never have been called forth but by these very circumstances; and that the knowledge that a purer text of the sacred volume was attainable than that which, one hundred years afterwards was dignified by the title of the universally received text, is really that which has quickened scholars and critics in their honourable and lifelong labours even to our present day."-Ellicott On the Revision of the English New Testament, p. 34.

Into the details of the present movement for the revision of the English Bible, I do not intend here to enter, seeing that everyone is already familiar with the main facts at least. In 1859, Archbishop French published the second edition of his valuable work On the Authorized Version of the New Testament, in the Appendix to which he gave a list of books published between 1659-1859 in England and America bearing on the subject of Bible revision. Lightfoot, Ellicott and many other writers have since followed, and the bibliography of the subject would now form a considerable volume. It is no exaggeration to say that there never was so much written about any book as has been written about the Revised New Testament. During the sessions of the Committee many articles, pamphlets and volumes were published, and since the appearance of the work hardly a week has elapsed without the appearance of some new article or book. All the daily and weekly papers, religious and secular; all the magazines, reviews and endless periodicals, good, bad, and indifferent which England and America produce, have had something to say in the matter. It is needless to observe that much of what has been written has been utterly irrelevant, or written in such a spirit that it is only fit for the fire, but after all the chaff has been blown away and the refuse burnt we find that the publication of the Revised New Testament has opened the eyes of the world to the fact, not only that the Bible is after all the book of the people, but that there are not a few who know more than was generally supposed about the grammar, language, exegesis and other points connected with the Greek-English Testament. And after a careful perusal of much that has been written, and a not less careful study of the revision itself in connexion with the Greek original, we come, however unwillingly, to the conclusion that the work before us is still far from perfect. To say that it will be valuable,

« AnkstesnisTęsti »