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CHAPTER IV.

THE EDITORS OF THE BIBLE SOCIETY.

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTICE OF T. P. PLATT, ESQ., A.M.,

F.A.S., M.R.A.S.

THOMAS PELL PLATT, Esq., a devoted friend to the Bible Society, a gentleman of extraordinary learning, was appointed in 1824, “Honorary Librarian.” It is not possible to represent, in this place, the valuable editorial services of this gentleman rendered to the Society. The Committee desired to secure him officially in the office of Editor, and “had all but concluded such an engagement with their valued friend; but the death of his father prevented its completion."

Mr. Platt formed one of the Sub-Committee for engaging Mr. Greenfield as Editor; and kindly cooperated with him in his duties. But being obliged to resign his office of “Librarian," in 1832, it was

Resolved, That this Committee receive with regret the resig. nation of T. P. Platt, Esq., while, at the same time, they grato fully record the deep sense they entertain of the high value of those numerous services which have been rendered, both cheerfully and gratuitously, to the cause of the Society by him, during the eight years that he has held the office of Librarian.

Mr. Platt's services were very greatly important to the Society in superintending the Amharic version of the Scriptures. No other individual appeared to the Committee capable of fulfilling this duty. And, at the request of the Committee, he compiled, from various documents in the possession of the Society, a narrative of the proceedings connected with the versions, in the publication of which the Society has afforded assistance from time to time. To the information gathered from these sources, much is added from the stores of information to which Mr. Platt had access, and which he knew how to apply with advantage to the subject before him. The whole work is comprised in twelve folio volumes, and it will remain a lasting memorial of the compiler's diligence, and the obligation under which he has laid the Society

MEMOIR OF MR. WILLIAM GREENFIELD.

MR. WILLIAM GREENFIELD was an extraordinary scholar, on which account he was engaged “Superintendent of the Editorial Department of the British and Foreign Bible Society.” He was one of the most learned men of his time, and yet he died before he had completed the thirty-second year of his age.

William Greenfield was born in London, April 1, 1799. His father was a native of Scotland, a pious man, and member of the Presbyterian Church, under the pastorate of Dr. Waugh: but was a mariner and died at sea. His mother, therefore, took him, at three years of age, to her relations in Roxburghshire. At the age of ten, Divine Providence brought them back to London; and residing with two maternal uncles, who, desiring to read the Word of God in the original languages, began to learn Hebrew, William was excited to follow their good example. With them he made encouraging progress in that language.

In 1812, Dr. Waugh obtained for this youth a situation as apprentice to a bookbinder, esteemed for his Christian character: and it was so, that in the house of his master's workshops there lived a Jew, who was a reader of the law, in a synagogue at Westminster. He was in the habit of urging among the workpeople his objections against the advent of Jesus Christ, as the Messiah, and the prophecies regarding him-and so against Christianity. With this Jew, young Greenfield held disputations, as he did also with other Jews; and being pressed with objections against the English Version of the Old Testament, he offered to give up his opinions, if, on being thoroughly taught the Hebrew, he should find their assertions true. The learned Jew took him at his word, and the diligent pupil soon surpassed his teacher, solidly refuting his arguments; yet the rabbi cherished a high respect for his talents and admirable temper, while he displayed an intimate acquaintance with the Bible.

Young Greenfield was encouraged by his spiritual father, Dr. Waugh, to consult him in all his difficulties; and he paid a weekly visit to that venerable man of God, especially for instruction in the gospel years of Christ; so that, at the age of sixteen, he became teacher in the Fitzroy Sabbath school, and was admitted to the fellowship of the church. In that school he found suitable companions, and a sanctifying influence on his heart. In his study of the Hebrew, he compiled a complete Lexicon, and then applied himself to the cognate dialects. His hours of study were, however, only before and after his working-time, which was from six in the morning to eight at night, in the summer, and from seven to nine in winter. His next object was to attain the Greek and Latin, which he effected with a wonderful facility; and added French and some other European languages to his stores, overcoming difficulties in a manner truly astonishing.

His apprenticeship being ended, Mr. Greenfield pursued his studies more extensively, until 1824, when Mr. Bagster, the eminent Biblical publisher, ascertaining his extraordinary talent and learning, prevailed on him to relinquish his trade. Amongst his numerous works for that gentleman was the

Comprehensive Bible,” a work of prodigious labour and research, exhibiting at once his varied and profound erudition; it was completed in December, 1826 ; and excited the greatest public commendation. Mr. Greenfield completed also for Mr. Bagster a new translation, esteemed far superior to every other, of the New Testament into the Hebrew.

“But after six years of literary connexion with Mr. Bagster, as an editor of various biblical works, and more particularly different editions of the Scriptures, the attention of the Committee of the Bible Society was directed towards him, as they were seeking an officer as superintendent of the Translating and Editing Department of the Society. The enquiries of the Committee elicited the facts, that he was the author of the Preface and Notes to * Bagster's Comprehensive Bible;' and that, besides being the editor of that work, he had revised for the press, or edited, the Syriac New Testament, the Polyglott New Testament, in Greek, Latin, English, and Portuguese; and that he read for a second edition, the Hebrew Bible, the Septuagint, and the Vulgate. Added to these proofs of his attainments as a linguist, it was found that he possessed the knowledge of several other European and Asiatic languages; that his character, moral and religious, was exemplary; and that in the transaction of business, he was skilful, diligent, and polite. The Committee, therefore, March 22, 1830, secured his services as editor, with a salary of £300 per annum. Mr. Greenfield's labours within the first year, as reported by the Committee of the Bible Society, were most astonishing, including editorial examination or revision of more than twenty languages or versions of the Scriptures. Besides which, he had a large correspondence arising out of his office: and he issued from the press his Hebrew New Testament. He also had in preparation a “Polyglott Grammar," of thirty languages, when seized by that fatal malady, the brain fever, which terminated his valuable life. This disease, if not occasioned, was aggravated by the malicious slanders of envious men, jealous of his fame-propagated against some of the " notes"

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