תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

ment, requiring sacrifice or perseverance, has ever been effected without Ć Zeal. Do not poets, and historians, and geometricians, and naturalists,

and chemists, and astronomers, often show a zeal that is unquenchable? And where, without Zeal, would have been many of the most brilliant discoveries which have delighted and enriched these latter ages ? Bit Zeal may be manifested as powerfully in the cause of error as in that of truth : and when it is so, its effects must be as disastrous in the one case, as they are beneficial in the other. In proof of this, we extract the following paragraph from one of the English journals :

" The propagators of infidelity in France, previons to the revolution, were so assiduous in spreading it far and wide, that they annually expended nine hundred thousand pounds sterling, in purchasing, printing, and distributing deistical and other books, in order to corrupt the minds of the people, and prepare them for desperate measures.”

After such a statement as this, it surely ill becomes the abettors of infi. delity to deride, as they often do, the zeal of Christians, in multiplying and distributing copies of the word of God. Has the zeal of British Christians erer surpassed this enthusiasm of infidelity ? Would that it did : for, oh, how different the objects, and how different the results ! Infidel enthusiasm would banish the knowledge of God and immortality-render men the shortlived victims of chance,-and deluge the world with anarchy and cri ne. Christian zeal would disseminate the loftiest views of Him who is Creator, Preserver, and Governor-proclaim the glad tidings of a great salvation

point out the way to an immortality of bliss--and overspread the world with | serenity, and peace, and holy joy.

ALPHA.

VI.-Queries submitted for Reply.
To the Editors of the Christian Observer.

Dear SIRS,

Will you oblige me by inserting in the Observer the following queries, in the hope that some of your contributors, may in the shape of answers, scripturally and satisfactorily point out the duty of Ministers and Missionaries in their instructions tó sinners.

I am, dear Sirs,
Yours respectfully,

M. Query 1st. Are the parables of Christ historical or fictitious, or are some of them historical and others fictitious ?

2nd. If any of Christ's parables be fictitious, which are they ? 3rd. Are teachers of Christianity warranted in employing fiction to explain, illustrate, or enforce Divine truth?

4th. Does Matt. ch. xxvi. v. 29, encourage the supposition of animal gratifications in heaven, involving the existence of gardens, orchards, &c. and requiring manual labour to prepare the fruit of

the vine ?

REVIEW

Eft8910 fogto l or Collection of Proverbs, Bengalee and San

scrit, with their Translation and Application in English. By Rev. W. Morton, Senior Missionary of the Incorporated Society for Propagating the Gospel in Foreign Parts, MESSRS. THACKER AND Co. Price 5 Rupees, cloth bound.

One of our most observant writers, (the Poet Laureate, if we mistake not,) has remarked, that if he wished to influence the mind and manners of a country, he would rather be the author of its ballads and popular poetry, than of its more dignified literature. That the influence of the former class of productions is very extensive, we are fully prepared to admit. Having ourselves in youth been resident for

years on the borders of Sherwood Forest, the scene of the exploits of Robin Hood and his companions, a district where the ballad regarding them is universally known, we can well recollect the martial influence which the hearing it continually repeated and referred to, produced on ourselves and those around us; and probably most of our readers from Europe yet recollect the feelings, cheerful or sorrowful, which at the same time of life were excited in their minds by the amusing story of John Gilpin, or the mournful ditty of the Children in the Wood.

Still, however, we are of opinion, that there is another class of productions, which exerts a still more permanent and extensive influence on society in general. We refer to Proverbs, and sententious sayings partaking of a proverbial character. Productions like ballads chiefly influence youth; proverbs influence youth, manhood, and old age alike. The former chiefly supply matter for amusing conversation ; the latter form the basis of decisive action. Popular poetical tales, being readily repeated from memory, chiefly, though by no means exclusively, produce their influence among the poor and ignorant, who, being unable to read for themselves, have few other means of access to literary enjoyment; while proverbs exert an influence alike on the rich and the poor, the ignorant and the educated. With the advance of education, the influence of the former class of productions has been gradually reduced at home, and probably soon will be in this country; while it is likely that the influence of proverbs will never cease, or be, indeed, materially diminished. Let any one conversant with his own feelings, or observant of society in general, recollect what he has experienced in his own mind, or noticed in others, and he will be satisfied of the deep impression produced by aphoristic sayings. How often has the selfishness of his own heart been nurtured, or the conscience of the churl his neighbour been satisfied in withholding necessary relief from a destitute fellow crea

ture, by some such proverb as, “ Charity begins at home," or

66 Take care of number one;" and on the contrary how frequently has benevolence in himself or others been stimulated to generous deeds, when aided in its appeal to the heart by the recollection or repetition by another of our Saviour's aphorism, “ It is more blessed to give than to receive.” How numerous are the examples of that class of persons, who, through the deeply impressed influence of such a proverb as, “ Mind the main chance," (the “ main chance” being sadly misinterpreted to mean only the accumulation of sordid wealth,) have been unhappily satisfied through life in neglecting religious and even moral duties, in order to amass property; while many a man has been stimulated to conduct more becoming an immortal and accountable being by our Saviour's solemn inquiry, "What can aman give in exchange for his soul ?”. And if any one wishes to see the influence of proverbial sayings in the formation of a national character, we would with confidence refer him to that of our North American brethren, which he will find is a complete transcript, both in its good and defective features, (except as modified by religious principles,) of the sentiments taught them by their great philosopher Dr. Franklin, in his spirited and intelligent production, “ Poor Abraham.”

While therefore we regard proverbs in general as the concentration of much thought, and on this account worthy of attention from every one who wishes to ascertain the grade of intellect of the people among whom they are current, it is chiefly as indicating and influencing their moral condition that we are desirous of knowing them, that by this means we may discover the origin of their sentiments and the springs of their action, and thus be prepared to alter the one, and to purify the other. To all those in a heathen country, therefore, who wish to understand and improve the moral condition of its inhabitants, a knowledge of the proverbial sayings current among them is a great desideratum. A large majority of our readers, we trust, are of this class: they feel deeply interested in the moral improvement of the many millions among whom the Bengáli language is vernacular; and to them, therefore, the handsome volume, the title of which appears at the head of this article, will be very acceptable.

To all Missionary labourers in Bengal we hold it to be invaluable. We have ourselves felt from experience the importance of the knowledge it is designed to communicate. It has been more than once our lot, in our early efforts at usefulness, to be addressing a numerous congregation of native auditors, evidently listening with intelligent interest to the discourse—and in a moment to lose one-half, yea, sometimes almost all our congregation, through the repetition by a mischievous hearer of some proverb, well known and relished by all the auditory; but which, through the peculiar conventional meaning attached to the leading words in the

T

sentence, we could not at the moment understand, and to which therefore we could offer no appropriate reply. Imagine the perplexity, mortification, and grief of a Missionary, thus to see his hearers in a body desert him, led captive by the magic influence of a charm which he could no wise resist; and contrast his situation with that of another, well furnished with the aphoristic knowledge which this volume will supply, who, to an attack by a shrewd and cutting proverb, can instantly supply an answer in an aphorism equally known and pungent; and thus, while he gets rid of his discomfited opponent, attracts to himself a gratified congregation, better disposed than before to listen to his instructions. So great is the importance of this kind of knowledge to the Missionary, that a work like the present, so well adapted to communicate it, we regard as among his most important auxiliaries.

The valuable labours of Roebuck and Wilson had already supplied us with an abundant collection of proverbs in Arabic, Persian, and Hindoostanee, but no corresponding effort had hitherto been made to furnish us with an extensive supply of the same kind in Bengáli; so that in this language, the present is the only satisfactory work which the student can consult. Independent of about seventy Sanscrit proverbs, it contains no less than eight hundred Bengáli ones—and those not only with the meaning literally translated, but also their application under different circumstances briefly explained. The following extracts from the preface will exhibit more fully the views of the translator :

“ The translation aims more at correctness than elegance, which latter quality is scarcely indeed compatible either with the homeliness of most of these aphorisms, or with the literality indispensable to the object in view in presenting them to the European public. Delicacy and propriety too have sometimes demanded a deviation from the coarseness of the original proverb, which nevertheless it was judged well not to withhold, as serving to the immediate design of the publication. I must not, however, be considered responsible for any sentiments expressed, in many cases so directly at variance with the truth of nature, policy, or science: my office is not to patronize opinions, but to exhibit them, in order to aid an insight into the structure of the native mind ; and in doing so, I trust I shall not have been unsuccessfully employed, or have expended, without an adequate result of advantage, the labour, by no means inconsiderable, necessarily undergone.

«« The estimates formed of this collection may be various. Some may deem a large portion of its contents mean; and current among an illiterate people, the style is of course often low and incorrect; yet as the actual expression, in customary language, of the national character, and notions, it is only the more valuable. Avarice and cunning, selfishness and apathy, every where show themselves; the sordidness of worldly aims, and indifference to higher, are seen to flow naturally from a base idolatry that confers neither elevation of mind nor purity of heart.

“ Hence, however, a greater sympathy with the demoralized condition and superstitious ignorance of a whole people, will probably be excitedaud consequently a more diligent and pitying activity exerted, in endeavouring to introduce amongst them the light of truth, the power of a rational piety, a holy and spiritual religion."

These important objects, with the advantage derivable from such a collection, “ towards understanding many otherwise obscure passages in books, or concise allusions in conversation,” must commend themselves to the approval of the reader ; while the following extracts, which we have selected almost at random, will give him an opportunity of judging for himself how far they may be facilitated by the publication in question.

6. ভাত খাও ভাতারের গুণ গাও নাদের। What! eat a husband's rice, and extol the merits of a paramour ! Said to one who though long supported by the individual who employs him, yet from ill-will to him, sounds the praises of another-like an adulterous wife, who, fed and clothed at her husband's cost, extols the merit of her paramour. II. atacaa statygody

1 'Tis the bell on the ape's neck. Addressed to an incompetent person, charged with an office of importance; resembling the monkey on whose neck a large bell had been fastened, which by its weight disabled him from moving about.

16. এক গায় টেকি পড়ে আর গায়ে মাথা ব্যথা। A pestle has fallen in one village, and head-aches are felt in another ! When one is angered or pleased by the praise or abuse bestowed on others.

21. ssttyy rate otsity of OTET I

Cutting at the root, and watering the top ! Spoken to one who pretends to do service where he has before really injured. 31. জাহাজের মাস্তুলের ভর কি জেলে ডিঙ্গিতে সয়। I

Can the fishing boat bear the ship's mast ? Said when a low person is injured by the attainment of a great charge.

50. সেরার ইকঠাক কামারের এক যা। The goldsmith's hammer taps often, the smith's gives a single blow. Meaning that an object is by one man effected with much difficulty, which by a higher personage may be accomplished with ease.

83. ভাগের মা গঙ্গা পায় না।

The mother of many never gains the Ganges. (The sons seeking to throw the burden one on the other, which consequent

ly is sustained by none of them). Intimating that what has many doers is not soon done, and that many masters ensure mismanagement.

102. তুমি যেন তেড়েতের ফল। I

You are like the fruit of the tál-tree, (That, in falling off, falls far from the tree it grew on.) Addressed to servants, &c. who are not to be found when their services ere required. Also applied to one who instead of helping his neighbours and kindred, spends his patronage, &c. on those from afar, or on strangers.

« הקודםהמשך »