Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/460

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

champion undoubtedly rendered: by this acknowledgment so widely spread in his published lectures, he made it impossible for Catholics or Protestants longer to resist the main conclusions of science. Henceforward we only have efforts to save theological appearances, and these only by men whose zeal outran their discretion.

On both sides of the Atlantic, down to a recent period, we see these efforts, but we see no less clearly that they are mutually destructive. Yet out of this chaos among English-speaking peoples the new science began to develop steadily and rapidly. Attempts did indeed continue here and there to save the old theory. Even as late as 1859 we hear the eminent Presbyterian divine, Dr. John Cumming, from his pulpit in London, speaking of Hebrew as "that magnificent tongue—that mother-tongue, from which all others are but distant and debilitated progenies."

But the honor of producing in the nineteenth century the most absurd known attempt to prove Hebrew the primitive tongue belongs to the youngest of the continents, Australia. In the year 1857 was printed at Melbourne The Triumph of Truth, or a Popular Lecture on the Origin of Languages, by B. Atkinson, M. R. C. P. L.—whatever that may mean. In this work, starting with the assertion that "the Hebrew was the primary stock whence all languages were derived," the author states that Sanskrit is "a dialect of the Hebrew," and declares that "the manuscripts found with mummies agree precisely with the Chinese version of the Psalms of David." It all sounds like Alice in Wonderland. Curiously enough, in the latter part of his book, evidently thinking that his views would not give him authority among fastidious philologists, he says, "A great deal of our consent to the foregoing statements arises in our belief in the divine inspiration of the Mosaic account of the creation of the world and of our first parents in the garden of Eden." A yet more interesting light is thrown upon the author's view of truth and its promulgation by his dedication; he says that, "being persuaded that literary men ought to be fostered by the hand of power," he dedicates his treatise "to his Excellency Sir H. Barkly," who was at the time Governor of Victoria.

Still another curious survival is seen in a work which appeared as late as 1885, at Edinburgh, by William Galloway, M. A., Ph. D., M. D. The author thinks that he has produced abundant evidence to prove that "Jehovah, the Second Person of the Godhead, wrote the first chapter of Genesis on a stone pillar; and that this is the manner by which he first revealed it to Adam; and thus Adam was taught not only to speak but to read and write by Jehovah, the Divine Son; and that the first lesson he got was from the first chapter of Genesis." He goes on to say: