"Jehovah wrote these first two documents; the first containing the history of the Creation, and the second the revelation of man's redemption, . . . for Adam's and Eve's instruction; and it is evident that he wrote them in the Hebrew tongue, because that was the language of Adam and Eve." But this was only a flower out of season.
And finally in these latter days Mr. Gladstone has touched the subject. With that well-known facility in believing anything he wishes to believe, which he once showed in his connection of Neptune's trident with the doctrine of the Trinity, he floats airily over all the impossibilities of the original Babel legend and all the conquests of science, makes an assertion regarding the results of philology which no philologist of any standing would admit, and then escapes in a cloud of rhetoric after his well-known fashion. This, too, must be set down simply as a survival; in the British Isles as elsewhere the truth has been established. Such men as Max Müller and Sayce in England; Steinthal, Schleicher, Weber, Karl Abel, and a host of others in Germany; Ascoli and De Gubernatis in Italy; and Whitney, with the scholars inspired by him, in America, have carried the new science to a complete triumph. The sons of Yale University may well be proud of the fact that this old Puritan foundation was made the headquarters of the American Oriental Society, which has done so much for the truth in this field.
It may be instructive, in conclusion, to sum up briefly the history of the whole struggle.
First, as to the origin of speech, we have in the beginning the whole Church rallying around the idea that the original language was Hebrew; that this language, even including the mediæval rabbinical punctuation, was directly inspired by the Almighty; that Adam was taught it by God himself in walks and talks; and that all other languages were derived from it at the "confusion of Babel."
Next, we see parts of this theory fading out: the inspiration of the rabbinical points begins to disappear; Adam, instead of being taught directly by God, is "inspired" by him.
Then comes the third stage: advanced theologians endeavor to compromise on the idea that Adam was "given verbal roots and a mental power."
Finally, in our time, we have them accepting the theory that language is the result of an evolutionary process in obedience to
- For Mr. Gladstone's view, see his Impregnable Rock of Holy Scripture, London, 1890, p. 241 et seq. The passage connecting the trident of Neptune with the Trinity is in his Juventus Mundi. To any American boy who sees how inevitably, both among Indian and white fishermen, the fish-spear takes this three-pronged form, this utterance of Mr. Gladstone is amazing.