Smith, Eli, Dd
Smith, Eli, D.D., an eminent scholar and missionary, was born in Northfield, Conn., Sept. 13, 1801. He graduated at Yale College in 1821, and at Andover Theological Seminary in 1826. In May of the same year he embarked on his mission to the East, to take charge of the printing establishment of the American Board at Malta. In 1827 he went to Beirut to study Arabic, and in 1828 returned to his work at Malta. In 1829 he made a tour with Dr. Anderson through Greece, and in 1830-31, with Dr. Dwight, of Constantinople, through Armenia and Georgia to Persia, opening the way for the Nestorian mission at Urumiah. He returned to the United States in 1832, and embarked on his return to Syria in September, 1833. Mrs. Smith died at Smyrna, Sept. 30, 1836. Until 1841, with the exception of a second visit to the United States, he was actively engaged in missionary duty, and in the critical study of the Arabic language. Among other important services performed by him in this period was the production of a new and improved font of Arabic type, conformed to the calligraphy of a first-rate manuscript of the Koran, the types being made by Mr. Homan Hallock, the ingenious printer for the mission, from models prepared by Dr. Smith. The first font was cast by Tauchnitz, at Leipsic, under Dr. Smith's superintendence, and others of different sizes have since been cut and cast by Mr. Hallock in the United States. He resumed his missionary work in Syria in the summer of 1841. In the autumn of 1846 he commenced the translation of the Scriptures into the Arabic language. The importance of this work is seen in the fact that that language is spoken by more than sixty millions of the human family. After more than eight years of exhausting and incessant toil, he completed the New Test., the Pentateuch, the minor prophets from Hosea to Nahum, and the greater part of Isaiah. At this stage of the enterprise, he was called from the scene of his earthly labors to his heavenly reward. He died at Beirut on Sabbath, Jan. 11, 1857. Dr. Smith was a thorough scholar and a most laborious missionary. By his wise counsels and practical and comprehensive views, he, independently of his labors as translator, tendered important service to the American Board, with the operations of which in the Levant he was identified for a quarter of a century. The value and completeness of Dr. E. Robinson's Researches in Palestine are largely due to Dr. Smith's cooperation. See Allibone, Dict. of Brit. and Amer. Authors, s.v.