Imágenes de páginas

Bigotry and ignorance are such inseparable allies, that I need not state how addicted to the former feeling are the Greek vulgar. They are taught to look on none as Chris, tians, but the Russiaus and themselves. So systematick are the impressions of this kind inculcated into them, that when a Greek confesses to a priest his having robbed a Frank, (European) restitution is not (as usual, when the case concerns their own sect) enjoined as a condition of absolution. I knew an instance of this in the servant of a French gentleman, the interpreter of the French consul in Cyprus, who had robbed his master. I have frequently been told I was no Christian for eating meat on Wednesdays and Fridays.

A priesthood of this character were not likely to promote, even if they would consent to permit, the dissemination of the Bible among a people, whose ignorance ensured to them wealth and power.

Accordingly, on arriving at Zante, in September, 1813, I found lying there numbers of Greek testaments which had been sent by the Bible Society for dispersion through the Morea. None of the Greeks would buy them, (not that great exertions had been used to distribute them) urged no doubt by their priests, who pretended that, being printed by heretics, they must contain heretical doctrines. I took one of these Bibles with ine in my cursory excursion through parts of the Morea, and of Greece. I found that the objection to them did not originate with the people, for on my


spreading the report that I had one with me, numbers of Greek merchants, and other respectable individuals of that pation daily called on me to read it, admired the purity of the translation, and lavishly praised the zeal and the liberality of the Bible Society. Seeing that the consent of the priests could alone ensure the distribution of the Bible, on my return to Constantinople in the Autumn of 1814, I called on the Greek æcumenical patriarch with Mr. L. (chaplain to the British embassy at the Porte, and a subscriber to the Bible Society) presented his Blessedness* with an extract of a prospectus of the Bible Society which I had translated into Romaick, and with a copy of the Greek testament handsomely bound (which had been sent out to him two or three years before, but from negligence had not been delivered) and requested that, after having read it, and ascertained it to contain nothing but the uncorrupted and unillustrated text of the Bible, he would write down his consent that all the Greeks might receive and read it. We did not extort from him this consent till a second visit. He first pretended that the translation was unnecessary, as there were scattered through Greece many Hellenick copies of the Testament, and that all the Greeks who could read Romaick, could also read Hellenick. This assertion my own experience enabled me positively to contradict, for in my travels I had met with many Greeks who could read only

* Tnx Maragian 1ě, the title given to the Patriarch by those who address him

Romaick; and indeed the greater facility of the latter language, and the system of education of children by the papas now established in many parts of Greece rendered it natural that it should be so.

At length we obtained the Patriarch's consent, cleanly written in Romaick, signed and sealed, and Mr. L. transmitted it to the Bible Society, who very judiciously affixed an accurate fac simile of it to all the Testaments they afterwards sent out, by which the most important obstacle to their dissemination is effectually removed. But, unfortunately, the Society published their next edition without the Hellenick, and the Patriarch, though he admitted it to be the same translation as the former one in which the Hellenick was placed by the side of the Romaick, refused to affix bis sanction to the edition, nor could all Mr. Li's arguments, though he admitted the force of them, soften the obstinacy of his refusal.

After even the slight and imperfect sketch I have here given of the Greeks, it must be instantly seen what incalculable advantages that dissemination must tend to produce. The study of that volume, which speaks so feelingly to the heart, that even to the careless it seldom speaks in vain, must have the deepest and most salutary effects on a nation whose oppressors leave them few other comforts than those of religion, whose habits are from necessity so retired, and whose life in general so domestick ; and it would become the more general, as the children are now very commonly taught to read by the Papas.

When I was in Palestine, I made earnest inquiries after the printing-press for Arabick literature, established on Mount Lebanon; it was become nearly a nullity; the oppression of the Government had reduced the people and the convents to such poverty that almost every expense which was not entailed for the support of life was banished from domestick economy: I was informed that no book had been printed there for some time: I found but few Bibles in the country, and those few confined to the churches where they were read in that chanting hurried tone which is so totally unintelligible even to those who know the contents of the volume: I spoke of the Bible Society, and asked if any Bibles of that association had been distributed in the Holy Land, but no one had heard of it. On my return to Constantinople, I spoke of this to the Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem, with whom I was on terms of friendship; he assured me that he had no doubt the distribution of a few Bibles through that country would be received with delight, and a week or two afterwards, four Greek priests who had just arrived at Constantinople from the Holy Land, called at the British palace, earnestly asking for a Bible. On this Mr. L. wrote home for a supply of Arabick Bibles which the Society has since sent out, and which had arrived at Constantinople before

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I left that city for England in October 1816. They have since, I believe, been sent to Aleppo, to the care of Mr. Barker, our Consul there : I have only to add that they cannot be in better hands.

Mr. L. received at Constantinople a few copies of Armenian Testaments sent out by the Society. These, at my request, he sent to Egypt, where there reside many merchants of that nation ; and I accompanied them with letters to Mr. Lee, our Consul at Alexandria, and to Signor Pogos, an Armenian, chief Secretary to the Pasha of Egypt, whom I had known during my short residence in Cairo, entreating their assistance in distributing them; I do not know the regulations of the Bible Society with respect to the mode of distribution, but I recommended that they should be sold to the opulent and given to the poor : I have not heard the result of any of these recommendations. The best channel of communication which the Society can adopt, is to address their letters to the chaplain of the British embassy at Constantinople, to whom the ambassador would cheerfully give his official assistance in corresponding with the Consuls at the respective stations from which the Bibles can most conveniently be issued.

Such is a brief view of the little I observed in my travels that could promote the views, or excite the interest, of the Bible Society : I shall be happy if the communication of it prove useful, and only regret that it was in my power

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