Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Long, James (1814-1887)

LONG, JAMES (1814–1887), missionary, born in 1814, spent some part of his early life in Russia. He was ordained deacon in the church of England in 1839, and priest in the following year. About 1846 he went to India as a missionary in the service of the Church Missionary Society, and was stationed at Thakurpukur, a little village in the district of the Twenty-four Parganas, a few miles south of Calcutta. He devoted himself to improving the social condition of the natives quite as much as to ministering to their spiritual wants, and came to be familiarly known as Padre Long. In 1861, when the dispute between the European and native indigo planters had culminated in an indigo war throughout Nadiga and other districts in Lower Bengal, a Bengali poet, Dinabandhu Mitra, wrote a drama, 'Niladarpana Nataka,' exposing the tyranny of the indigo planters, a drama which has been designated as a sort of oriental 'Uncle Tom's Cabin.' To an English version of this work Long wrote a preface adversely criticising the English press at Calcutta. He was indicted for libel, and sentenced to a fine of one thousand rupees and a month's imprisonment (The History of the Nil Darpan, with the State Trial of J. Long for its Publication, with Mr. Long's Statement, Statement of W. S. S. Karr, &c, Calcutta, 1861; Statement of the Rev. J. Long of his Connection with the Nil Durpan, Calcutta, 1861; Trial of J. Long for the Publication of the Nil Darpan, with Documents connected with its Official Circulation, London, 1861; Strike, but hear! Evidence explanatory of the Indigo System in Lower Bengal, Calcutta, 1861). With Russia he always kept up his connection, and was well known at the Russian court. In his writings he dwelt on the similarity between the social system and folklore of that country and India. He was a member of the Bengal Asiatic Society and a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. A short time before his death he assigned to the Church Missionary Society 2,000l., to provide popular lectures on the religions of the east. He returned to England in 1872, and died at 3 Adam Street, Adelphi, London, on 23 March 1887, in his seventy-fourth year.

Long was author of: 1. 'Handbook of Bengal Missions in connection with the Church of England,' 1848. 2. 'Bengali Proverbs,' 1851. 3. 'Notes of a Tour from Calcutta to Delhi,' 1853. 4. 'What may be done: a Tract for Persons engaged in Education,' 1854. 5. 'A descriptive Catalogue of Bengali Works, containing a classified List of fourteen hundred Bengali Books,' 1855. 6. 'Notes and Queries suggested by a Visit to Orissa,' 1859. 7. 'Nil Darpan, or the Indigo Planting Mirror. A Drama translated by a Native [i.e. J. Long],' 1861. 8. 'Central Asia and British India. By a British Subject [i.e. J. Long],' 1865. 9. 'Krilof's Fables, translated from the Russian,' 1869. 10. 'Prabád Málá, or the Wit of Bengali Ryots, as shown in their Proverbs,' 1869. 11. 'Scripture Truth in Oriental Dress, or Emblems explanatory of Biblical Doctrines and Morals, with reference to Proverbs in the Arabic, Bengali, Canarese, and Urdu Languages,' 1871. 12. 'The Eastern Question in its Anglo-Indian aspect,' 1877. 13. 'Eastern Proverbs and Emblems illustrating old Truths,' 1881.

Among his contributions to periodical literature were: 1. 'Analysis of the Bengali Poem Ráj Málá, or Chronicles of Tripura' ('Journal of Asiatic Society of Bengal,' 1850, xix. 533-57). 2. 'Analysis of the Raghu Vansa, a Sanskrit Poem of Kálidasa' (ib. 1852, xxi. 445-72). 3. 'A Return of the Names and Writings of 515 Persons connected with Bengal Literature, either as Authors or Translators of printed Books, and a Catalogue of Bengali Newspapers from 1818 to 1855' ('Selections from the Records of the Bengal Government,' 1855, No. xxii.) 4. 'Returns relating to the Bengali Language in 1857, with a List of the native Presses, the Books printed, their Price and Character, with a notice of the Condition of the Vernacular Press of Bengal, and Statistics of the Bombay and Madras Presses' (ib. 1859, No. xxxii.) 5. 'The Indigenous Plants of Bengal, with Notes on Peculiarities in their Structure, Functions, uses in Medicine, Domestic Life, Arts, and Agriculture' ('Journal of India Agricultural Society,' 1857 ix. 398-424, 1859 x. 1-43, 338-64, xi. 48-75). 6. 'Five hundred Questions on the Social Condition of Natives of Bengal' ('Journal of Royal Asiatic Society,' 1866, ii. 44-84). 7. 'Popular Bengali Proverbs illustrating the Social Condition and Opinions of the Ryots, Working Classes, and Women of Bengal' ('Trans, of Bengal Social Science Association,' 1868, pt. i. pp. 135-42). 8. 'Peeps into Social Life in Calcutta a Century ago' (ib. 1868,. pt. ii. pp. 187-211). 9. 'Calcutta and Bombay in their Social Aspects' (ib. 1870, pp. 9-83). All the above were reprinted separately.

[Cat. of Bengali Printed Books in the Brit. Mus.; Trübner's Lit. Record, 1887, p.24; Times, 7 April 1887, p. 5; Academy, 9 April 1887,p. 255; Athenæum, 9 April 1887, p. 480.]

G. C. B.