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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/453

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Noah's Deluge and Geology. Just as in the latter case they had been obliged to stave off a presentation of scientific truth, by the words "For Deluge, see Flood," and "For Flood, see Noah" so in the former they were obliged to take various provisional measures—some of them comical. In 1842 came the seventh edition. In this the first part of the old article on philology which appeared in the third, fourth, and fifth editions was printed, but the supernatural part was mainly cut out. Yet we find a curious evidence of the continued reign of chaos in a foot-note inserted by the publishers, disavowing any departure from orthodox views. In 1859 appeared the eighth edition. This abandoned the old article entirely, and in its place was given a history of philology free from admixture of scriptural doctrines; and, finally, in the year 1885 appeared the ninth edition, in which Professors Whitney of Yale and Sievers of Tübingen give admirably and in short compass what is known of philology, throwing the sacred theory overboard entirely.

Such was that chaos of thought into which the discovery of Sanskrit suddenly threw its great light. Well does one of the foremost modern philologists say that this "was the electric spark which caused the floating elements to crystallize into regular forms." Among the first to bring the knowledge of Sanskrit to Europe were the Jesuit missionaries, whose services to the material basis of the science of comparative philology had already been so great, and the importance of the new discovery was soon seen among all scholars, whether orthodox or scientific. In 1784 the Asiatic Society at Calcutta was founded, and with it began Sanskrit philology. Scholars strong and earnest, like Sir William Jones, Carey, Wilkins, Foster, Colebrooke, did noble work in the new field. Light had come into the chaos, and a great new orb of science was steadily evolved.

The little group of scholars who gave themselves up to these researches, though almost without exception reverent Christians, were recognized at once by theologians as mortal foes of the whole old sacred theory of language. Not only was the dogma of the origin of languages at the Tower of Babel swept out of sight by the new discovery, but the still more vital dogma of the divine origin of languages, never before endangered, was felt to be in peril, since the evidence became overwhelming that so large a number of them had been produced by a process of natural growth.

Heroic efforts were therefore made, in the supposed interest of Scripture, to discredit the new learning. Even such a man as Dugald Stewart declared that the discovery of Sanskrit was altogether fraudulent, and endeavored to prove that the Brahmans had made it up from the vocabulary and grammar of Greek and