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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/451

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NEW CHAPTERS IN THE WARFARE OF SCIENCE.

a missionary in America, he enlarged his catalogue of languages to six volumes, which were published in Spanish in 1800. His work contained specimens of more than three hundred languages, and the grammars of more than forty. It should be said to his credit that Hervas dared point out with especial care the limits of the Semitic family of languages, and declared, as a result of his enormous studies, that the various languages of mankind could not have been derived from the Hebrew.

While such work was done in Catholic Spain, Protestant Germany was honored by the work of Adelung. It contained the Lord's Prayer in nearly five hundred languages and dialects, and the comparison of these early in the nineteenth century helped to end the sway of Scriptural philology.

But the period which intervened between Leibnitz and this modern development was a period of philological chaos. It began mainly with the doubts which Leibnitz had forced upon Europe, and the end of it only began with the study of Sanskrit in the latter half of the eighteenth century, followed by the comparisons made by means of the collections of Catharine, Hervas, and Adelung at the beginning of the nineteenth. The old theory that Hebrew was the original language had fallen into disrepute, but nothing had taken its place as a finality. Great authorities, like Buddeus, were still cited in behalf of the narrower belief, but everywhere researches, unorganized though they were, tended to destroy it. The story of Babel continued indeed throughout the whole eighteenth century to hinder or warp scientific investigation, and a very curious illustration of this fact is seen in the book of Lord Nelme on The Origin and Elements of Language. He declares that the incident of the confusion was the cleaving of America from Europe, and regards the most terrible chapters in the Book of Job as intended for a description of the flood, which in all probability he had from Noah himself. Again, Rowland Jones tried to prove that Celtic was the primitive tongue, and that it passed through Babel unharmed. Still another effort was made by a Breton to prove that all languages took their rise in the language of Brittany. All was chaos. The old theory had gone to pieces, but no new theory had yet been formed. There was much wrangling, but little earnest controversy. Here and there theologians were calling out frantically, beseeching the Church to save the old as "essential to the truth of Scripture"; here and there other divines began to foreshadow the inevitable compromise which has always been thus vainly attempted in the history of every science. But it was soon seen by thinking men that no concessions as yet spoken of by theologians were sufficient. In the latter half of the century came the bloom period of the French philosophers and encyclopedists, of the Eng-