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Psalter, as usual, by the sale of some elementary Greek book. From the Psalter, our indefatigable student proceeded, by the aid of Buxtorfos Grammar and Lexicon, to the remainder of the Old Testament; mastering easily those portions of it which are written in Hebrew. Some parts, however, of the ancient Scriptures being, as it is needless to say, written, not in Hebrew, but in Chaldee, “THE SHREWSBURY LINGUIST"—for surely he may now be allowed to have earned that appellation--was induced to study this cognate dialect. In the study of Chaldee he was much assisted, and at the same time stimulated to further efforts, by the acquisition of the Targum of Onkelos, which, happily, at this time fell into his hands. The Syriac dialect, which is nearly related to the Chaldaic, proved, with the help of Otho's Synopsis, and Schindler's Lexicon, to be a comparatively easy acquirement; and yet more easy was the acquisition of the Samaritan, a dialect which, excepting the difference of its alphabetic character, approximates closely to the Hebrew.
It is especially to be observed, that throughout the whole of his literary career, this remarkable man was unassisted by any instructor ; uncheered by any associate in his studies ; and totally uninfluenced by the hope either of profit or of praise. Nay, such was the simplicity of his character, and so little was he versed in the ways of the world and the ordinary opinions of society, that he would appear to have been really ignorant of the value of his own acquirements. He studied for pleasure ; depending for his support upon the trade to which he had been apprenticed. The difficulties which, under such circumstances, must have beset a student, may well be conceived, and would have effectually depressed any spirit less buoyant and energetic than that of Samuel LEE. These difficulties were increased by the well-intended advice of his friends, who exhorted him to relinquish pursuits which appeared to them to be inconsistent with his success as a tradesman, and his devotion to which had already subjected him to a disease which affected his eyes, and from which, at times, he suffered severely. His habits of study, however, had long been fixed; and to those literary pursuits which had for years constituted the solace of his life, he continued regularly to betake himself, so soon as the business of each day was finished ; constantly declaring, that in such application he found his most refreshing rest from mental disquietude and physical toil.
It must not, however, be imagined, that his ardent desire after literary acquirements induced “the learned mechanic"-as he was sometimes
called-to neglect the calling upon which his livelihood was supposed to depend. On the contrary, receiving, when he was between twenty and thirty years of age, certain intimations and promises which seemed to open to him a favourable prospect in the line of his occupation, he resolutely turned his chief attention to the business to which he had been apprenticed ; and in the year 1811, with fair expectations of success as a carpenter, SAMUEL LEE married.
And now with the cares of married life crowding upon his view, “the Shrewsbury Linguist” began to think, that his literary pursuits, however delightful they might be to himself, were utterly useless as it respected his success in the station of life to which it had pleased God to call him; and accordingly, with a firmness of purpose which has probably seldom been surpassed, he relinquished the study of languages; sold his books ; and applied himself, in earnest, to the business by which he expected to live.
A fire which consumes a man's whole stock in trade may not be, always, an evil. In the case of SAMUEL LEE, it was the turning point for good in his history, and opened for him the road to honourable distinction.
His property being, in the year 1812, utterly destroyed by fire, no plan of life appeared to our destitute scholar so eligible as that of becoming a schoolmaster. But here, again, there were difficulties. Classical scholar, and Oriental linguist as he was, Mr. Lee was deficient in several accomplishments indispensable to a country pedagogue. He was, however, as we bave seen, a man of no common energy; and he set himself seriously and assiduously to acquire those branches of learning to which he had hitherto neglected to turn his attention.
At this critical juncture, Archdeacon Corbett, having heard some vague reports concerning the studious habits and vast acquirements of “the learned carpenter,” summoned him to an interview, and was speedily convinced, that rumour had done him no more than justice. Happy in such an opportunity of fostering great talents, and relieving solicitude and embarrassment, the benevolent Archdeacon caused Mr. Lee to be appointed to the mastership of a charity-school, at Shrewsbury, in which place he had an opportunity of increasing his scanty income by private tuition. Through the instrumentality of Archdeacon Corbett, Mr. Lee was also introduced to Dr. Jonathan Scott, who had been Persian secretary in India to the celebrated Warren Ilastings, and whose character as an Oriental scholar, stood deservedly
high. In this gentleman, Mr. Lee, for the first time in his life, found a friend who delighted to converse with him respecting the arduous studies in which he had been so long engaged, and which, in poverty and solitude, he had prosecuted with such signal success. By Dr. Scott, too, who delighted to put the proper books into his hands, he was introduced to the study of the Arabic, Persic, and Hindustanee languages ; in which tongues he soon acquired, with his usual facility, the power both of reading and writing ; nor was it long before he sent to his friend and benefactor, Dr. Scott, Persian and Arabic translations of several papers selected from Dr. Johnson's Rambler; and also of Addison's Vision of Mirza, in the Spectator. These translations his friend declared to be “wonderfully well done."
Through the knowledge which Mr. Lee thus obtained of the Eastern languages, he was introduced into a few private families, as a teacher of Persic and Hindustanee, to youths who had received, or who expected to receive, civil or military appointments from the East India Company. This employment, together with the superintendence of his own school, and occasional attendance at two other schools as a teacher of arithmetic, occupied Mr. Lee's time during his residence at Shrewsbury; and from the proficiency said to have been attained by his pupils, it may be fairly inferred, that his talent for communicating knowledge was equal to his facility in acquiring it.
“ When I first had the pleasure of conversing with Mr. Lee upon books," writes Archdeacon Corbett, “I found that he had read the Latin poets usually introduced into schools, as Ovid, Virgil, Horace, &c.; that he had read part of the Odyssey, as well as the Iliad, of Homer ; some of the Greek minor poets, and some of the plays of Sophocles. Before we parted, I lent him the memoir of that interesting and extraordinary young man, Mr. Kirke White, then lately printed. Mr. Lee returned it to me very shortly, with a Latin poem, in praise of Kirke White ; a dialogue in Greek on the Christian religion ; and a pious effusion in Hebrew; all compiled by himself, when, as I believe, he had not access to any books ; for he was during the time, upon permanent duty at Ludlow, as a member of the South Local Militia for this county. I believe the first prose composition of any length which Mr. Lee turned his attention to, was the History of the Syrian Churches in India ;'-a memoir which would do credit to the
Such a testimony to Mr. Lee's acquirements will be felt to be the
more strking, if we bear in mind, that up to this period of his life he had received, with the exception of some instruction in pronunciation, no assistance from any quarter, throughout the whole of his literary career, excepting only the loan already mentioned of some books from Dr. Scott.
The time, however, was at hand, when, by the overruling providence of God, Mr. Lee was to be placed in a position congenial to his taste, and in the highest degree adapted to the cultivation of his talents, and the promotion of his future usefulness. Dr. Scott, whose acquaintance with the distinguished subject of this sketch was soon matured into a warm friendship, was naturally anxious that abilities and attainments such as his, should not be lost in the obscurity of a provincial town; and chiefly through his assistance and influence, Mr. Lee was soon afterwards enabled to enter Queen's College, Cambridge. By the advice of the late Dean Milner, who was at that time President of Queen's, and who speedily discovered his great abilities, “the Shrewsbury Linguist” gave his attention while at College, chiefly to the study of mathematics; pursuing that, to him, comparatively novel study, with a degree of success which bore witness to the strength and solidity of his powers
On the death of Dr. Buchanan in 1814, Mr. Lee, who had long been an ardent Biblical student, was employed by the Bible Society to complete the revision of an edition of the Syriac New Testament; a work which had been commenced by Dr. Buchanan for the use of the Syrian Churches in Travancore. It was, however, finally determined, that Mr. Lee, who had collected several Syriac manuscripts, for the purpose, should re-commence the work ; and his revised edition appeared in the year 1816. As a mark of their approbation of this performance, the University of Halle, in Saxony, presented the learned editor with the degree of D.D.; conferring upon him that distinction through Dr. Gesenius, their Hebrew Professor.
Having taken his Bachelor's degree at Cambridge, Mr. Lee, in the same year, published, in the Annual Report of the Church Missionary Society, a brief history of the Syrian Churches of Travancore ; and in the same Society's Report of the following year, he published a similar history of the Churches of Abyssiniå. And now his pre-eminent acquirements as a linguist began to be universally acknowledged. The University of Cambridge testified their high sense of them by electing him, in 1819, to the vacant Professorship of Arabic. The Crown also con
curred to promote his advancement, not only by creating him Master of Arts by royal mandate, so as to enable him to hold the Professorship, which as B.A. he could not hold ; but also, as time pressed, by so expediting the matter as to secure to him this promotion.
His election to this honourable post served to increase the ardour with which Professor Lee prosecuted his studies; and as his knowledge of languages increased, so also did his exertions in order to apply that knowledge to useful purposes. In 1820 he prepared a Grammar and Vocabulary of the language of New Zealand, in which important undertaking he had the advantage of assistance from two New Zealand chiefs who were at that time in England. Other works followed ; and in particular, an enlarged edition of the Persian Grammar of Sir William Jones, with a skeleton of a Grammar of the Arabic language.
For the Prayer Book and Homily Society, Professor Lee, about this time, superintended the printing and correcting of the Hindustanee Prayer Book ; and of the Morning and Evening Prayers translated into Persic. He also translated and printed for the Church Missionary Society, and for the Society for the instruction of the Lascars, certain tracts treating of the fundamental doctrines of Christianity; and during the same time, instructed in Hebrew, Arabic, Persic, Hindustanee Bengalee, Sanscrit, Ethiopic, Coptic, &c., various missionaries sent out by the Church Missionary Society.
In the year 1827, Professor Lee took his degree of B.D.; and during this year he gave signal proof of his mental energy and persevering industry, by the publication of two works, on which his fame will probably, in a great measure, rest. These works are-a Hebrew Grammar, subsequently much enlarged and improved ; and an Original Exposition of the Book of Revelation. During the following year, appeared his Translation of the Travels of Ibu Batuta. This work was published by the Translation Committee of the Royal Asiatic Society, and obtained a golden medal.
In the year 1831, Professor Lee, who had been for some time a widower, and a Fellow of Trinity College, whither he had removed from Queen's, was elected Regius Professor of Hebrew ; and soon afterwards he was presented by Lord Brougham with a stall in the Cathedral of Bristol; and received from the Dean and Chapter, the Vicarage of Banwel in Somersetshire.
Professor Lee was subsequently created Doctor of Divinity ; on which