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intelligible, and much prized among them. We have an account of the first convert in Burmah from the pen of Mrs. Judson. She says,—“A few days ago I was reading with him (the first Burman convert) Christ's sermon on the Mount. He was deeply impressed. These words,' said he, take hold on my very heart, they make me tremble. Here God commands us to do every thing that is good in secret, not to be seen of men. How unlike our religion is this! When Burmans make offerings at the Pagodas they make a great noise with drums and musical instruments, that others may see how good they are ; but this religion makes the mind fear God; it makes it of its own accord fear sin.'". Although Burmah at one time presented to Dr. Judson and the first Missionaries a continued scene of discouragement, yet it afterwards became an example of the ease with which God can arrest the attention of a whole people to the Scriptures. Writing in 1831, Dr. Judson said, that one of the most remarkable features of the Mission was the surprising spirit of inquiry then spreading everywhere, through the whole length and breadth of the land : he stated that during a great national festival held that year, no less than six thousand applicants came to the Mission-house. " Sir," said they, “ we hear that there is an eternal hell. We are afraid of it. Give us a writing that will tell us how to escape it.” Others came from the frontier of Cassay, a hundred miles north of Ava.—“Sir! we have seen a writing which tells about an eternal God. "Are you the man who gives away such writings? If so, pray give us one, for we want to know the truth before we die.” Others came from the interior of the country, where the name of Jesus is a little known.—" Are you Jesus Christ's man? Give us a writing that tells about Jesus Christ.”2 Dr. Judson's subsequent account of the character of the Burmans is equally hopeful. They are, he says, a careful, deliberative people, who turn a thing many times over before they take it. They are not disposed to give much credit to the words of a Missionary, but when a tract is put into their hands, they wrap it up carefully, deposit it in a fold of the waistcloth or turban, carry it home to their village, and, when a leisure evening occurs, the family lamp is produced, the man, his wife and relations gather round, and the contents of the new writing receive a full discussion. Instances have not been wanting of the blessing of God having followed this careful study of His word. Mr. Kincaid relates that during a journey through Burmah, a youth who had previously applied for books came to him, and besought him, before he quitted the city to visit an old man who was anxious to see the teacher. Mr. Kincaid followed the Lad home, and was surprised to find in the object of his visit an old man full of faith and hope in Christ, though he had had no other teacher than John's Gospel and a tract, called The View, accompanied by the Holy Spirit. He said that he had loved Christ for about two years, and his language, Mr. Kincaid relates, was that of a man acquainted with his own heart.3 Narrating a voyage up the Irawaddy, from Rangoon to Ava, this Missionary describes the people as most eager to hear and to get books. One man said that he had got a book in Rangoon that told him about the Eternal God who made all things, and about Christ who died to open a way for the forgiveness of sins. He said the more he thought of this, the more sure he felt that it was true. Many such instances convincingly show that a wide field is opened in Burmah for the diffusion of truth, and in a printed form. To account for such large issues of the Scriptures as have taken place in Burmah, it should be stated that the Burmans are generally able to read, and a smattering of education is more common among them, perhaps, than any other people of the East.
a, thigam acquainted with hist for about two called The V,
PEGUESE, MON OR TALAIN.
The Peguese language is still spoken in Pegu, a country which occupies all the sea-coast and the mouths of the rivers of the Burman empire: it comprises an area of 22,640 square miles, with a population of 48,000.5 Great numbers of the agriculturists in Siam are Peguans. Pegu was formerly a great and powerful state, and governed by its own monarchs, but in a contest with Burmah and Siam it fell, and the Peguans are now the slaves of both empires. The Peguese language is supposed to be more ancient than the Burmese, it abounds in gutturals, and is simple in construction. The alphabet is the same as the Burmese, except two additional consonants. Since their conquest of the country, the Burmans have done their utmost to extirpate the language, and to render their own predominant, but they have not as yet succeeded. A translation of the Gospel of St. Matthew, and of St. John's Epistles has been made into Peguese from the Burmese by Ko-man-poke, a learned native, but no copy of this version appears to have reached Europe. A translation of the whole New Testament, by Mr. Haswell, is now in the press at Maulmein, but it is hoped that a specimen will be obtained in time for insertion in this work. The edition is of 3,000 copies.7
1 Account of the American Baptist Mission to Burmah, by
A. H. Jndson, p. 146.
4 Baptist Missionary Register, 1834.
SPECIMEN OF THE SIAMESE VERSION.—ST. JOHN'S GOSPEL, CHAP. I. v. 1 to 13.
• ถชั้น ๑ ในกาลครั้งนั้น เบผู้ที่สํานักใคราวะ เมื่อวันเสาแล้ว ลาลีกคนหนึ่งนั้นจึงว่า โอนายทารสั่งสอนเรา กวนเหมอินโยหาร สั่งสอนลูกสีทอง ๒ เยซูจึงว่าเมื่อทารกาว่า ทารจึงกลาว20 พ่อของเราที่ทารอยู่บนสวรรค์ รถจะซื้อ ของทรก็จึงเปนปริสุทิ ซึ่งเมอิงทารกจึงมาถึงแล้ว พระราหาไทยของทร์ ก็จึงสําเรณะแผ่นดิน สหมอนหนึ่งที่บัน สวรรค์ ๓ ทรปราทนให้เรานี้ทุกวัน
ซึ่งสเบยิ่งเราได้ข้อสั้น ๔ ทร์จึงโปรูปลอยโทศเรา เหมอนหนึ่งเราได้โปรs, ให้เก่ผู้ที่ผิดด้วตัวเรา อย่าให้เราเข้าในคลอง แต่ว่าจึงร็อคจากเราแค่บาพรายนั้น 8 เยซูจึงว่ากับทั้งหลาย ถ้าทาร่มี เพอัน ซึ่งจมาพลาดึก จึงว่าเพอินเลย เขอยืมซะนมปังสาสามอัน 5 อันว่าสหายมิศสนศ มาแต่หนทางมาหาเรา เรานี้ ไม่มีสิ่งอันใดจะจัดแจงให้
ON THE SIAMESE LANGUAGE AND VERSIONS.
GEOGRAPHICAL EXTENT AND STATISTICS.—Siam is the largest of the three empires comprised in the Eastern peninsula of India. The Bay of Bengal, the Burman Empire, and the British province of Tenasserim form its Western boundary. Its area, according to Crawfurd, is 190,000 square miles, but according to Berghaus it includes nearly 290,000 square miles. Its amount of population has been estimated at from 2,790,500 to 3,000,000 souls ; but the number of Siamese in Siam is thought not to exceed 1,260,000, the remainder of the inhabitants being chiefly natives of Laos, Pegu, Cambodia, Malacca, China, and Hindoostan. The Siamese language is strictly speaking, confined to Siam proper, which forms but one province of the Siamese Empire. The other provinces are, a large portion of Laos or the Shan country, a considerable section of Cambodia, a portion of Pegu or the Mon country, and the peninsula of Malacca, from the head of the gulf down to latitude 7° North.?
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE LANGUAGE.— The language of the Siamese is sometimes called Thay or Tai, and in their own tongue they assume this name as their proper national appellation. The
1 Hamilton's East India Gazetteer in voce.
Siamese language possesses considerable affinity with some of the provincial dialects of China, more especially the Mandarin or Court dialect, from which many of its radical words and numerals are obviously borrowed. Several fundamental terms, appertaining to Malay, are also found in Siamese, which has hence been regarded as the connecting link between the Chinese and Malay languages. The delicate intonations of the Chinese exist in Siamese, and it is more strongly accented than any other language of Indo-China. The political institutions of Siam, in point of despotism and tyranny, are akin to those of Burmah, and have had great effect in moulding the language and the literature. The rank of the speaker may in Siamese, as in Burmese, be inferred from the pronouns he uses; and phrases expressive of adulation and flattery are very numerous and varied. The words which subserve the office of pronouns are hence particularly numerous, and attention to the rules regulating their distinctive use is so rigidly exacted from all classes, that the misapplication of a single pronominal is considered indecorous and disrespectful. The alphabet, though formed on the model of the Pali and Devanagari characters, possesses several original elements, whence it has been conjectured that an ancient style of writing was known in Siam prior to the introduction of Buddhism and the Pali language in the fourth century. There are thirty-five consonants and the vocalic ā; this latter is often placed in a word as a sort of pivot on which the vowel points are arranged, forming, as it were, the body of each of the simple vowels. There are sixteen simple vowels or finals, besides twenty-nine distinct and complex final vowel combinations. The nasals are quite as diversified as the Chinese; the letters b, d, r, which are rejected by the Chinese, are adopted in this language, but on the other hand the letters ts, sh, tch, fh, hh, which belong to Chinese, do not exist in Siamese. Words are not generally divided in writing, and a small blank supplies the place of our colon and semicolon. Siamese differs from most of the Eastern languages, in admitting but little inversion of the natural order in the construction of sentences; the words follow each other much in the same way as in English; for instance, the nominative almost invariably precedes the verb, and verbs and prepositions precede the cases which they govern. No orthographical changes whatever mark the variations of number, case, or person, but prefixes and affixes are in constant use. The language has been represented as copious; yet it rather, says Crawfurd, possesses that species of redundancy which belongs to the dialects of many semi-barbarous nations, and which shows a long but not a useful cultivation."
SIAMESE VERSIONS OF SCRIPTURE.-In 1810, the design of providing Siam with a version of the four Gospels was entertained by the Calcutta Auxiliary Bible Society, and Dr. Leyden undertook to superintend the translation ; but he died before this important project had been carried into execution. Perhaps the first attempt at translating the Scriptures into Siamese was made by Mrs. Judson, of the American Baptist Mission, who with the aid of her Burman pundit produced a version of the Gospel of St. Matthew.6 Owing, however, to the death of that lamented lady, a stop was put to further translation till 1828, when Messrs. Gutzlaff and Tomlin visited Siam in the capacity of missionaries and physicians, and applied sedulously to the study of the language with a view to the translation of the Scriptures ; after a residence of nine months, Mr. Tomlin was compelled by ill health to relinquish the undertaking, and Mr. Gutzlaff prosecuted his important labours alone. Part of the MS. translation of the New Testament was forwarded to Malacca as early as 1829; but the missionaries connected with the Malacca press proceeded with the utmost caution, and made a practice of printing no portion of the version until they had ascertained, by actual experiment, that it could be read and clearly understood by natives of every capacity, from those of the first literary rank to the commonest readers.7 Mr. Gutzlaff, being remarkably favoured with the best native assistance, subjected the translation to several revisions; and after labouring night and day for a long period, he, in 1833, sent a revised copy of the New Testament to Singapore. The work of revision was continued by Mr. Jones, one of the Baptist missionaries in Burmah, who, from his having previously studied the cognate language of the Shans, was well qualified for the task; he was sent to Bankok (the capital of Siam) at the instance of Messrs. Gutzlaff and Tomlin in 1834. Mr. Robinson, another missionary at Bankok, also engaged in the work, and in 1841 produced a translation of Genesis and Daniel, and a new or amended version of several books of the New Testament. The publication was aided by a
New Testa mand after "kably favou from those actual ex
1 Leyden in Asiatic Researches, Vol. X.
5 Crawfurd's Embassy to the Courts of Siam and Cochinchina, p. 335.
Thirtieth Report of British and Foreign Bible Society, p. lxxviii. 8 Missionary Register for 1833, p. 32.
grant in 1843 from the American Baptist Bible Society. In 1846, Mr. Jones completed the translation and publication of the entire New Testament in Siamese."
RESULTS OF THE DISSEMINATION OF THIS VERSION.—Siam affords comparatively few instances of conversion following the perusal of the Word, yet in no country perhaps has the intervention of Providence been more manifested in opening a wide door for the general distribution of the Scriptures. The American Board of Missions and the American Baptists have missionaries in Siam, by whom the Scriptures are circulated among the people without let or hindrance from king, nobility, or priesthood.? The priests have even frequently sent to the missionaries requesting to be supplied with copies of the holy volume, and have on some occasions expressed a degree of dissatisfaction with their own religion, and an apparently sincere desire to examine the tenets of Christianity. In fact, one of the missionaries stated, in 1842, that no class of people are more importunate in begging for books than the priests, and this too in public, and on all occasions. This dissemination of Scripture has had the effect in Siam of considerably narrowing the original ground of controversy. The Siamese now declare, that were they but fully satisfied as to the existence of a future state, they would gladly embrace Christianity as the only system which provides for the forgiveness of sins; for they have been brought to acknowledge the sinfulness of their own nature and practices, and they clearly perceive that Buddhism, which is in fact practical Atheism, offers no means or hope of pardon. The first appearance of the missionaries in Siam spread a general panic among the people, for it was well known by the predictions of the Pali books, that a certain religion of the West would vanquish Buddhism; but upon the breaking out of the late war, the English remaining neutral, the people were reassured, and many instances occurred in which deep interest was expressed in the perusal of the Scriptures. There are, however, peculiar impediments to missionary labours in Siam, arising partly from the character of the people, which is so fickle that an opinion they may embrace to-day they will be ready to reject to-morrow, and partly from the regularly organised system by which idolatry is supported : the pagodas are the schools of learning in which the youth of the empire are trained ; every educated Siamese, from the emperor down to the lowest of his subjects, is compelled at some period or other of his life to enter the priesthood, and "he who refuses to become a priest, must remain ignorant.”4 It has been ascertained that the great majority of Siamese, male and female, are able to read ; and even in Siam instances have unexpectedly been brought to light of the Divine blessing having accompanied the private study of Scripture. On one occasion, for instance, a missionary was called to the bedside of a sick man, whom he had never before seen. After applying the remedies for the disease suggested by his medical skill, the missionary began to discourse on the glad tidings of the Gospel. The sick man immediately interrupted him, and said, with much earnestness and seriousness, that he himself knew Ayso (Jesus), and worshipped him every day. Surprised and delighted, the missionary asked for an explanation, and was informed that a brother of the sick man had read in his hearing portions of Scripture and Tracts distributed by the missionaries, and that the precious seed thus sown by the way-side had been blessed by God.
that a certain general panic amo means or hopes and they clearly 'y have been broen
COGNATE DIALECTS. It is worthy of observation, that Siamese is properly only one dialect of an ancient and widely extended language called Tai; the other dialects are the Laos, Khamti (almost identical with the ancient Ahom), and Shyan. Little has been done in these three dialects towards the translation of Scripture. The Laos people are described by Dr. Bradley as being in a peculiar sense ripe for the Gospel harvest. Several applied to him for books written with their own characters; they said they could read Siamese books stammeringly, but their own with ease. A Laos man pleaded with Dr. Bradley not to forget him and his people, but to furnish them speedily with a version of the holy books in their own dialect. Although the Laos has been described by most travellers as a totally distinct dialect from the Siamese, yet such is the similarity between the two dialects that Captain Low states from his own experience, that it is easy for a person who understands the Siamese tongue, to travel safely (in so far as language is concerned) throughout North Laos. The Laos dialect has, however, an alphabet exclusively appropriated to it, which is more allied to the Peguese or Mon than to the Siamese alphabet.
CAMBOJAN The "Cambojan language is spoken in Cambodia, once an independent and powerful state, but now divided between Siam and the empire of Anam. The language differs materially from the Siamese, being more harsh, but at the same time more copious.' Gutzlaff commenced a version of the New Testament in Cambojan, but it would appear that he afterwards discontinued it. Throughout the other provinces of the empire of Anam, a monosyllabic language denominated the Anamite or Anamitic is spoken, in which, however, no translation of the Scriptures exists.
I Missionary Register for 1846, p. 123,
Chinese Repository, Vol. I. p. 468.
5 Tomlin's Missionary Journal in Siam.
KAREN, KARAYN OR KARIENG.
(A SPECIMEN of this Version will be given in a future Part of the Work.)
EXTENT AND STATISTICS.—The Kareens, Karenes, or Careians, are a wild and simple people, scattered over all parts of the Burman territories, and of the British provinces of Tenasserim: they are also found in the Western portions of Siam, and northward among the Shyans. Their residences are in the jungles and among the mountains, and are most numerous on the mountains which separate Burmah from Siam. The number of these people, owing to their nomadic habits and wide dispersion, is difficult to be ascertained, but it has been estimated at about 33,000.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE LANGUAGE. — The Karen language possesses several original elements, and in many respects varies in genius and structure from the Burmese, Siamese, and Peguese languages, though it freely borrows words from each. It has five tones, some of which appear different from those of any other monosyllabic tongue. The Karen language is remarkably harmonious, and well adapted for poetry: a final consonant never occurs, but every word terminates with a vowel sound. Till a comparatively recent period, however, Karen was totally unknown to Europeans. About 1835, two Missionaries of the American Baptist Missionary Society, Messrs. Wade and Mason, acquired the language, and for the first time reduced it to writing. For this purpose they employed the Burmese alphabet, with a few additional characters to express the peculiar sounds of the language. The system of teaching reading, adopted by Mr. Wade, is so admirably conceived, that a person ignorant of a single letter can be taught to read a Karen book with ease in a few weeks. Mr. Mason affirms that the alphabetical powers of the Karen alphabet are of Arabic or Hebrew origin.3 This fact, together with the personal appearance and physical peculiarities of this singular people, and a series of very remarkable traditions current from time immemorial among them, has led him to form the idea of their being descendants of the lost tribes of Israel.
VERSIONS OF THE SCRIPTURES IN THIS LANGUAGE.— The Missionaries were induced to undertake a version of the New Testament in Karen by the earnest and repeated entreaties of the people themselves for books. As early as 1828, Mr. Boardman, of the American Baptist Society, was visited frequently at Savoy, one of the missionary stations, by great numbers of the Karens, and had ample opportunities of proclaiming the Gospel to them. Among the most interesting of his visitors was a native chief, who appeared particularly anxious for instruction in the way of righteousness.“ Give us books,” he said, “ give us books in our own native language! then all the Karens will learn to read. We want to know the true God. We have been lying in total darkness the Karen's mind is like his native jungle.”4 The translation of the entire New Testament into Karen was accordingly accomplished by Messrs. Wade and Mason; yet during several years, for want of adequate pecuniary means, no attempt was made at printing, but each book as soon as completed was copied and circulated in MS. In 1842, the American and Foreign Bible Society granted £625 towards the printing of the New Testament, and an edition soon after issued from the press at Savoy, under the superintendence of Mr. Bennett. Mr. Mason has since translated the Psalms into Karen, including both the Sgau and Sho dialects of that language.
RESULTS OF THE DISSEMINATION OF THIS VERSION. This version of Scripture appears to have been attended in a remarkable degree with the Divine blessing from the very first period of its execution. The Karens were in a manner prepared to welcome Christianity, not only by their religious tenets, which formed a noble contrast to Buddhism, but by a singular prediction of their ancient seers, which caused them to look for relief from Burman oppression to "the white foreigners." 5 In 1839, when the Karens had no books, few living teachers, and only a MS. copy of Matthew, they were gathered together in considerable numbers from all parts by the
1 Malcom's Travels in S. E. Asia, Vol. II. p. 228. 2 Calcutta Christian Observer for 1833, p. 520.
Calcutta Christian Observer for 1836, p. 111.
Calcutta Christian Observer for 1833, p. 522. 5 Asiatic Journal for 1844, p. 282.