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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/315

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Leyden. In his inaugural oration on The Dignity and Utility of the Hebrew Tongue, he puts himself emphatically on record in favor of the divine origin and miraculous purity of that language. "Who," he says, "can call in question the fact that the Hebrew idiom is coeval with the world itself, save such as seek to win vainglory for their own sophistry by obscuring the truth?"

Two years after Willett, in England, comes the famous Dr. Lightfoot, one of the renowned scholars of his time in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin; but all his scholarship was bent to suit theological requirements. In his "Erubhin," or Miscellanies, published in 1629, he goes to the full length of the sacred theory, though we begin to see a curious endeavor to get over some linguistic difficulties. One passage will serve to show both the robustness of his faith and the acuteness of his reasoning, in view of the difficulties which scholars now began to find in the sacred theory: "Other commendations this tongue (Hebrew) needeth none than what it hath of itself; namely, for sanctity it was the tongue of God; and for antiquity it was the tongue of Adam. God the first founder, and Adam the first speaker of it... It began with the world and the Church, and continued and increased in glory till the captivity in Babylon... As the man in Seneca, that through sickness lost his memory and forgot his own name, so the Jews, for their sins, lost their language and forgot their own tongue... Before the confusion of tongues all the world spoke their tongue and no other; but, since the confusion of the Jews, they speak the language of all the world and not their own."

But just at the middle of the century (1657) came in England a champion of the sacred theory more important than any of these—Brian Walton, Bishop of Chester. His Polyglot Bible, with its prolegomena, dominated English scriptural criticism throughout the remainder of the century. He begins his great work by proving at length the divine origin of Hebrew, and the derivation from it of all other forms of speech. He declares it "probable that the first parent of mankind was the inventor of letters." His chapters on this subject are full of interesting details. He says that the Welshman, Davis, had already tried to prove the Welsh the primitive speech; Wormius, the Danish; Mitilerius, the German; but the bishop stands firmly by the sacred theory, declaring that "even in the New World are found traces of the Hebrew tongue, namely, in New England and in New Belgium, where the word Aguarda signifies earth, and the name Joseph is found among the Hurons." As we have seen, Bishop Walton had been forced to give up the inspiration of the rabbinical punctuation, but he seems to have fallen back with all the more tenacity on what remained of the great sacred theory of