The Times/1928/Obituary/Thomas Bailey Saunders
Mr. Bailey Saunders
Translator of Harnack
The death of Mr. Bailey Saunders, which occurred on Wednesday at his residence of Eastbourne, at the age of 67, removes a scholar and writer who produced little original work, and will be remembered chiefly for his excellent translations into English of the works of Schopenhauer and Harnack. Indeed, so far as Harnack is concerned, he may be said to have introduced to the British public that notable modern critic of orthodox ideas of Christian origins.
Thomas Bailey Saunders was the second son of Deputy-Inspector-General George Saunders, C.B., and was born at Alice, Cape Colony, on December 2, 1860. He was educated at King's College, London, and University College, Oxford, where he took second classes in both Moderation and Lit. Hum. After leaving Oxford he spent some time in Germany, and in 1886 was called to the Bar by the Inner Temple, but did not practise.
Between 1889 and 1896 he produced in several volumes quite the best English translation of Schopenhauer's "Essays," the style of which is so admirable that it reads like an original work,. In 1893 he published, in conjunction with Huxley and Lord Leighton, a volume of Goethe's "Maxims and Reflections," and the following year, a Life of that odd and rather disreputable person James Macpherson, the alleged translator of the Ossian Poems, now chiefly remembered for the attack made upon him by Dr. Johnson, who roundly accused him of deliberate forgery, a charge which Saunders set out to refute. From 1896 to 1901 he produced at intervals his translations of Harnack's chief works, which had a large sale, especially the volume "What is Christianity?" that brought into the field on the orthodox side scholars like the late Professor Sanday and Dr. Strong, now Bishop of Oxford. To these Saunders replied in 1902 on behalf of his author in a small volume entitled "Professor Harnack and his Oxford Critics," the foundation of which was an address delivered before the Socratic Society of Birmingham University.
For many years, under Norman MacColl, he was a member of the staff of the old Athenæum, and his trenchant criticisms of current philosophy and ethics were for long a valuable feature of that journal. Some of these articles formed the basis of a volume he afterwards published entitled "The Quest of Faith," in which, however, the author's point of view seems successfully to elude discovery. But exposing the weaknesses of other people's beliefs was for Saunders always a more attractive occupation that the hard task of formulating a creed for himself, and it is as an admirable translator, and not as a constructive thinker, that his name will survive. He was also the author of a small work on technical instruction in the German universities, and he contributed to "The Dictionary of National Biography."
In 1898 Saunders was appointed secretary of the Statutory Commission for the reorganization of the University of London, under the chairmanship of the late Lord Davey. In 1901, when the University was reorganized in accordance with the commission's report, he was anxious to be appointed permanent secretary of the Senate, but the post was filled otherwise; and this failure was followed shortly afterwards by the death from Maltese fever of his only son, a promising midshipman in the Royal Navy, somewhat embittered his life. He was later, however, elected a Fellow and member of council of King's College, and of the Senate of the University of London, and he was also for many years chairman of the trustees of the Sladen Memorial Fund for assisting scientific research. He married in 1887 the Contessa Elena Alberti di Poja, only child of the late Conte Gustavo Alberti di Poja, or Roverto, South Tirol; she pre-deceased him.
The funeral will be at Tunbridge Wells Cemetery, Frant, to-morrow, at noon.