Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Jean-Antoine Dubois

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 5
Jean-Antoine Dubois

by Edward Peter Spillane


French missionary in India, b. in 1765 at St. Remèze (Ardèche); d. in Paris, 17 Feb., 1848. The Abbé Dubois was a director of the Seminary of the Foreign Missions, a member of the Royal Societies of Great Britain and Paris, and of the Literary Society of Madras. At the outbreak of the French Revolution he went to India to preach Christianity to the natives, whose favour he soon won by his affability and patience. For their instruction he composed elementary treatises on Christian doctrine which won general commendation. Though he remained thirty-two years in that arduous field, his labours were all fruitless and he returned convinced that the conversion of the Hindus with the deep-rooted prejudices of centuries was impossible under the existing conditions. This opinion which he broached in "Letters on the State of Christianity in India" etc. (London, 1823), was vigorously attacked in England. Two Anglican ministers, James Hough and H. Townley, published, respectively, "A Reply to the Letters of the Abbé Dubois" etc. (London, 1824) and "An Answer to the Abbé Dubois" (London, 1824). "The Friend of India", a journal of Calcutta (1825), contained a refutation of his letters, to which the abbe rejoined in a letter of much gravity and moderation. It found its way into the "Bulletin des Sciences", May, 1825, and the first volume of the "Asiatic Journal" (1841). Besides these letters he wrote: "Description of the Character, Manners and Customs of the People of India, and of their Institutions, religious and civil" (London, 1816). This work was bought by the East India Company for twenty thousand francs and printed at their expense. The author published an enlarged edition in French under the title "Moeurs, institutions, et cérémonies des peuples de l'Inde" (Paris, 1825, 2 vols.), which is considered the best and most complete work on the subject. "Exposé de quelques-uns des principaux articles de la théologie des Brahmes" (Paris, 1825); "Le Pantcha-tantra ou les cinq ruses, fables du Brahme Vichnou-Sarma" (Paris, 1826). Abbé Dubois was one of the collaborators of the "Bulletin Universel des Sciences" of the Baron de Férussac.

EDWARD P. SPILLANE.