Malan, César Jean Salomon (DNB01)

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

MALAN, CÉSAR JEAN SALOMON, calling himself later Solomon Cæsar Malan (1812–1894), oriental linguist and biblical scholar, was descended from an old Waldensian family originally settled at Mérindol in Provence, but dispersed by religious persecution in 1714. One branch fled to Geneva; here Malan was born on 22 April 1812, his parents being Dr. César Henri Abraham Malan, a noted protestant divine, and Salome Georgette Jeanne Schönberger, a Swiss. His early education was given by his father, under whom he gained a conversational knowledge, not only of German, Spanish, and Italian, but also, at an early age, of Latin. He had also begun English, Hebrew, Arabic, and Sanskrit. In 1830 he went to Scotland as tutor to the family of the Marquis of Tweeddale. In 1833 he matriculated at St. Edmund Hall, Oxford, where he resided till 1837, having meantime (1834) married Mary, daughter of John Mortlock, whose acquaintance he had made in Geneva. In 1834 he gained the Boden (Sanskrit) scholarship, and in 1837 he won the Pusey and Ellerton (Hebrew) scholarship, and graduated (Class II) in literæ humaniores.

In the same year (1837) Malan accepted the post of classical lecturer at Bishop's College, Calcutta, which he reached in 1838. He took Anglican deacon's orders in the same year; and in the following year, becoming secretary to the Asiatic Society of Bengal, gained the intimate friendship of the remarkable scholar Csoma Körösi, from whom he learned Tibetan. Besides gaining a knowledge of several Indian vernaculars, he also advanced in Chinese. Leaving India on account of failing health in January 1840, he arrived in England in the following September. In 1842, after further travels in Egypt and in Palestine, he accepted a curacy at Alverstoke, Hampshire, taking M.A. (and joining Balliol College) and also priest's orders in 1843. His first wife having died in 1840, Malan married in 1843 Caroline Selina, daughter of the Rev. C. M. Mount. After a year (1844-5) as perpetual curate of Crowcombe, Malan accepted the living of Broadwindsor, Dorset, which he held till 1885. In 1849-50 he made a long tour in southern Europe, Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, and Armenia, illustrating this, like all his travels, by excellent sketches, some of which have been published. In 1855-6 Malan's Chinese learning came into notice by his publication of two works on controversies of the time: (1) 'On the translation of the word "God" in Chinese' ('Who is God in China?' London, 1855); (2) 'The Threefold San-tze King or Triliteral Classic . . . translated . . . with notes,' London, 1856, with reference to the alleged Christianity of the rebel chief Tae-ping Wang. During the next twenty years Malan was much occupied with theological controversy, but published meanwhile some of his most valuable work illustrative of the Christian East, especially translations from the Syriac, Coptic, Ethiopic, Armenian, and Georgian literatures. In 1872 he made a sudden and highly characteristic visit to the Crimea, Georgia (where he was the guest of Bishop Gabriel and preached in Georgian at the cathedral of Kutais), and Armenia.

In 1881 Malan joined in the onslaught made by John William Burgon [q. v. Suppl.] on the revised version of the New Testament, contributing to his articles, and himself publishing a new version of Matthew i-vi, with an appendix giving the Lord's Prayer in seventy-one languages. This he followed up in 1882 by a work directed against the Greek text of Drs. Westcott and Hort, which, however, produced no lasting impression. Shortly before leaving Broad Windsor (1885) he presented his great library, some four thousand volumes, to various institutions, Csoma's books and manuscripts being appropriately given to the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, the patristic collections to Keble Library, and the rest to the Indian Institute, Oxford. After his retirement Malan lived at Bournemouth till his death, which happened there on 25 Nov. 1894; he was buried in Bournemouth cemetery. During his last years his chief literary employment was the compilation of his 'Notes on Proverbs' (3 vols. published 1889, 1892-3), a huge work in which, taking the Salomonic text as a basis, he illustrated it by parallels from the vast range of his reading in non-Christian oriental literature.

In practical knowledge of oriental languages Malan had certainly no equal in England, and probably none in the world; yet he was scarcely perhaps an orientalist in the scientific sense of the term. His publications were all (save one on drawing and two on ornithology) of an ecclesiastical nature, while even on biblical ground his ultra-conservatism is seen in his opposition to modern progressive Hebrew criticism, quite analogous to his position above described, regarding New Testament research. The biography published by his son illustrates both his ability in drawing and his great skill in oriental calligraphy. Against the latter we must set his hopeless and wholly unpractical aversion to oriental transliteration. In botany and ornithology he had advanced beyond the amateur stage, and in manual arts such as fly-fishing, bookbinding, and a performer's knowledge of the construction of musical instruments he was also proficient. Of his numerous publications (over fifty) the following, besides those already mentioned, are the chief: 1. 'The Gospel according to St. John, translated from the eleven oldest versions, except the Latin . . . with notes,' London, 1862. 2. 'Meditations on our Lord's Passion . . . from the Armenian,' London, 1863. 3. 'History of the Georgian Church,' translated from the Russian of Josselian, London, 1866. 4. 'Life ... of S. Gregory the Illuminator . . . from the Armenian,' 1868. 5. 'Liturgy of the Orthodox Armenian Church,' translated, London, 1870. 6. 'Conflicts of the Holy Apostles . . . Epistle of S. Dionysius from Ethiopic MSS.; and the Assumption of S. John from the Armenian,' London, 1871. 7. 'Misawo, the Japanese Girl, translated from the Japanese,' 1871. 8. 'The Divine Liturgy of S. Mark . . . from a Coptic MS.,' London, 1872. 9. 'The Coptic Calendar from an Arabic MS.,' London, 1873. 10. 'History of the Copts . . . from the Arabic of ... El Maqrízí,' London, 1873. 11. ' The Divine Eὺχολόγιον... of S. Gregory . . . from a Coptic MS.,' London, 1875. 12. 'The Book of Adam and Eve . . . from the Ethiopic,' London, 1882.

[Solomon Cæsar Malan ... by his eldest surviving son, Rev. A. N. Malan, London, 1897; review in Athenæum, 12 Feb. 1898; obituary notice by Prof. Macdonell in Journal R. Asiatic Soc. 1895.]

C. B.