Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 50.djvu/192

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


lished was the despicable French version by André Du Ryer, issued in 1649. A very poor English rendering of Du Ryer's from French was issued by Alexander Ross (1590–1654) [q. v.] in London in the same year. Despite a few errors, Sale's translation is remarkably accurate. Throughout he has made full use of native commentators, as regards both the interpretation of the text and its illustration in the notes. It may perhaps be regretted that he did not preserve the division into verses, as Savary has since done, instead of connecting them into a continuous narrative. Some of the poetical spirit is unavoidably lost by Sale's method. But his version remains the best in any language. His translation was reprinted in octavo in 1764, 1795, 1801, and frequently afterwards. ‘A Comprehensive Commentary on the Qurán, comprising Sale's Translation and preliminary Discourse. … By E. M. Wherry,’ 4 vols. London, appeared between 1882 and 1886, 8vo. ‘Selections from the Kurán … chiefly from Sale's edition,’ was issued by E. W. Lane in 1843, 8vo, and a new edition of this was revised and enlarged with introduction by Mr. Stanley Lane-Poole in 1879. A German translation of Sale's book, by Tho. Arnold, appeared at Lemgo in 1746, 4to.

Voltaire wrote in the ‘Dictionnaire Philosophique’ that ‘the learned Sale had at last enlightened us by a faithful translation of the Alcoran, and a most instructive preface to it.’ Sale's preliminary discourse and notes display a remarkable acquaintance not only with the works of European writers upon mohammedanism and its history, but also with native Arab literature. The preface and notes are still reckoned among the best sources of information with regard to the faith of Islam and the mohammedan peoples. ‘The Preliminary Discourse’ was twice translated into French. The first version, an anonymous one, was published at Geneva in 1751, and has been reprinted several times; the second, by Ch. Solvet, appeared in Paris in 1846. An abridged Polish version of the preface was published at Warsaw in 1858.

Meanwhile, to the ‘General Dictionary,’ a translation of Bayle (10 vols. fol. 1734), Sale contributed the whole of the oriental biographies which were published up to the time of his death; and when the ‘Universal History’ was first planned, Sale was one of those who were selected to carry it out. His coadjutors were the Rev. John Swinton, Dr. J. Campbell, Captain Shelvocke, Archibald Bower, and the impostor, George Psalmanazar [q. v.] Sale's part in the work was the portion dealing with the history of the world from the creation to the flood, which was published in 1739, after his death.

After the publication of the Koran in 1734, Sale attended with less regularity the meetings of the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge, and he received payment for work which he had formerly done gratuitously. It is possible that the society did not view his translation of the Koran in a favourable light, and suspected his orthodoxy. His last recorded visit to the society is on 6 Aug. 1734, but directions were issued to him about some legal matters down to 6 July 1736. At this time he was occupied with the foundation of a publishing society called the Society for the Encouragement of Learning, to which belonged many noblemen and some of the most eminent literary men of the day. Sale served on the original committee. The meetings were held weekly, and the committee decided what works should be printed at the expense of the society, or with its assistance, and what should be the price of them. When the cost of printing had been repaid, the property of the work was to revert to the author [see Carte, Thomas, and Roe, Sir Thomas].

Sale died of fever at his house in Surrey Street, Strand, on 13 Nov. 1736, and was buried at St. Clement Danes on 16 Nov. No stone marks the grave. Sale is described by his biographer as having ‘a healthy constitution and a communicative mind in a comely person.’ On 30 Nov. the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge resolved, in recognition of Sale's services, to give twenty guineas to his wife and children, who were left in necessitous circumstances.

Sale married Marianne d'Argent, of French extraction (possibly related to a Huguenot family of this name). By her he had seven children. The eldest son, George James Sale (1728–1773), fellow of New College, Oxford (1748–65), was elected fellow of Winchester in 1765, and was rector of Bradford Peverel from 1768 to 1773, when he died without issue. Like his next brother, William Mitchell, he was distinguished for literary talents. William Mitchell Sale married Martha Pennington of Canterbury, and had an only daughter, who married Thomas Pennington, A.M., rector of Thorley. The third son, Samuel Sale, perished in the great earthquake at Lisbon. A daughter, Marianne Sale, married Edward Arkell, by whom she had an only child, Edward. Sale's three remaining children died young (manuscript notes by Pennington in 1734 edition of Sale's Koran, belonging to the Rev. H. S. Pennington, rector of St. Clement Danes).