Page:Studies of a Biographer 2.djvu/55

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43
THE IMPORTATION OF GERMAN

he had learned something of Anglo-Saxon and Gothic, he knew little of modern German. The most remarkable case, perhaps, of an early study of German is that of Herbert Marsh, the Bishop of Peterborough. He had gone in 1785 to study at Leipzig after finishing his Cambridge course; and brought back a knowledge of the language which must have been almost unrivalled. In 1801 he published a tract written, it is said, 'in pure vernacular German,' It brought him the patronage of Pitt, whose policy it defended, and gave him, it seems, his first step towards a bishopric.[1] Other results of his German studies might rather have checked his preferment. He gave lectures at Cambridge before the end of the century, influenced by the teaching of Michaelis. They dealt with 'the origin and composition of the first three Gospels,' and, according to Mark Pattison, show the only trace at that period of 'honest critical inquiry.' The seeds, however, remained barren when transplanted to British soil, and Pattison complains in 1861 that English divines were still unable to appreciate the method. Marsh was suspected of heterodoxy, but amply vindicated

  1. Marsh, as Mr. Herzfeld tells me, contributed two political articles in German to Wieland's Teutscher Merkur in 1798.