Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Sandberg, Samuel Louis Graham

SANDBERG, SAMUEL LOUIS GRAHAM (1851–1905), Tibetan scholar, born on 9 Dec. 1851 at Oughtibridge in Yorkshire, was fifth child in a family of five sons and two daughters of Paul Louis Sandberg (d. 1878), then vicar of Oughtibridge, by his wife Maria (1815–1903), daughter of James Graham of the diplomatic service and grand-daughter of Dr. James Graham (1745–1794) [q. v.], a London doctor. Both parents were distinguished by linguistic talents. The father, whose ancestors came to England from Sweden, had won the Tyrwhitt Hebrew scholarship and other successes at Cambridge, and was conversationally acquainted with as many as thirteen languages, including Arabic, Syriac, and Hindustani. He was in India as a missionary from 1843 to 1849, becoming principal of Jai Narayan's College at Benares. From 1874 till his death in 1878 he was rector of Northrepps in Norfolk. His widow, a writer of devotional works and a philanthropist, who died in April 1903, aged eighty-eight, received the exceptional title of honorary life member of the Church Missionary Society. She was acquainted with seven languages, including Hindustani (The Times, 27 April 1903).

Young Sandberg, after attending Liverpool College (1861-3) and Enfield School, Birkenhead (1863-7), graduated B.A. of Dublin University at nineteen in 1870. His tastes were linguistic and mathematical, with a leaning towards Asiatic languages, such as Chinese and Japanese. He developed an aversion for the medical profession, for which he was originally destined, and on leaving Dublin University was admitted a student at the Inner Temple on 9 June 1871, and was called to the bar on 30 April 1874, and joined the northern circuit. His practice was insignificant, and he mainly divided his time between journalism, the preparation of an elaborate treatise entitled 'The Shipmaster's Legal Handbook,' which he failed to publish, and private tuition, A year's prostration by Maltese fever (1877-8), contracted while travelling with a pupil, was followed in 1879 by his ordination as a clergyman. He was curate of St. Clement's, Sandwich, from 1879 to 1882, and chaplain of the Seckford Hospital, Woolbridge, from 1882 to 1884. In 1885 he went to India as chaplain on the Bengal establishment, and held charges at Kidderpur (1886), Dinapur (1886-7), Calcutta (1887 and 1892-4), Dacca (1887-8), Jhansi (1888-9), Muradabad (1890), Roorkee (1890), Howrah (1890-1), Cuttack (1891-2), Sabathu (1894-6), Nowgong (1897-8), Barrackpore (1898-9), St. John's, Calcutta (1899-1901), Darjeeling (1901-2), Calcutta (1903), and Cuttack (1903-4). When on a holiday at Darjeeling he made his first acquaintance with the Tibetan language, and in 1888 he published at Calcutta a 'Manual of the Sikkim-Bhutia Dialect' (2nd edit. enlarged, Westminster, 1895). He learned much of the secret explorations of Tibet in progress during the next seventeen years, and wrote in the press and the magazines about the topography of Tibet and routes through the country. In 1901 he issued at Calcutta 'An Itinerary of the Route from Sikkim to Lhasa, together with a Plan of the Capital of Tibet.' On the eve of the British expedition in 1904 he published a systematic treatise, 'The Exploration of Tibet: its History and Particulars from 1623 to 1904' (Calcutta and London). Sandberg drafted the letter from Lord Curzon, the viceroy, to the Grand Lama, the rejection of which precipitated the expedition of 1904.

To Tibetan philology Sandberg's contributions were equally notable. In 1894 there appeared at Calcutta his 'Manual of Colloquial Tibetan,' a practical work embodying much useful information. His most important philological work was his share in 'A Tibetan-English Dictionary' (Calcutta, 1902), which he was commissioned in 1899 by the Bengal government to prepare in conjunction with the Rev. A. W. Heyde from the materials collected by Sarat Chandra Das. The work was not final or faultless, but it was far more complete than any other.

His writings relating to Tibet also included the following magazine articles: 'The City of Lhasa' (Nineteenth Century, 1889); 'A Journey to the Capital of Tibet' (Contemporary Review, 1890); 'Philosophical Buddhism in Tibet' (ibid.); 'Monks and Monasteries in Tibet' (Calcutta Review, 1890); 'The Great Lama of Tibet ' (Murray's Magazine, October 1891); 'The Exploration of Tibet' (Calcutta Review, 1894); 'The Great River of Tibet: its Course from Source to Outfall' (ibid. 1896); 'Note to Gait's Paper on Ahom Coins' (Proc. Asiat. Soc. of Bengal, 1896, pp. 88 sq.); 'Monasteries in Tibet' (Calcutta Review, 1896); and 'A Tibetan Poet and Mystic,' i.e. Milaraspa' (Nineteenth Century, 1899).

Sandberg at the same time proved the width of his interests in 'A Neglected Classical Language (Armenian)' (in Calcutta Review, 1891), and in 'Bhotan, the Unknown Indian State' (ibid. 1898). He was especially concerned in the condition of the Eurasians, whose cause he espoused in 'Our Outcast Cousins in India' (Contemp. Rev. 1892), His modesty and reticence concealed the extent of his attainments, which included a thorough knowledge of the Italian language and literature.

In the August of 1904 Sandberg was attacked by tubercular laryngitis, and was invalided home. He died at Bournemouth on 2 March, of the following year. He married in 1884 Mary Grey, who died without issue in 1910,

[Ecclesiastical and Official records of services; The Times, 6 March 1905; The Homeward Mail, 11 March 1905; see also notices of father in the Liverpool Albion, 1878, and mother in The Times for 27 April 1903; private information.]

F. W. T.