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Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Emanuel Oscar Menahem Deutsch

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DEUTSCH, EMANUEL OSCAR MENAHEM (1829-1873), an eminent Oriental scholar, was born on the 28th of October 1829, at Neisse, a town in Prussian Silesia. He was of Jewish extraction ; and the family had been settled in his native place for several generations. When six years old, Emanuel began to attend the gymnasium of Neisse, and continued a pupil for two years ; after which, in compliance with the earnest wish of his uncle, David Deutsch of Mislowitz, the charge of the boy s education was transferred to him. Rabbi Deutsch was a first-rate scholar, deeply learned in the Talmud, with stern ideas of duty, as we may infer from the fact that he made his nephew rise the whole ysar round at 5 o clock, study for the first two hours, and then spend an hour in prayer, before allowing him to taste food or light a fire. The rest of the day, with the exception of half an hour for exercise and recreation, was devoted to hard study. This dull routine, which proved at once the foundation of his accurate scholarship and of his ill-health, continued till Emanuel was thirteen years old, when he returned to Neisse, to solemnize his religious majority (Bar-mitzva). He proceeded once more to the gymnasium, where he enrolled in the highest class. On reaching his sixteenth year he began his studies in Berlin University, paying special attention to theology and the Talmud. Indeed the Talmud was seldom absent from his thoughts ; and, after his death, a great accumulation of papers was found, con taining parts of it, copied or translated, beginning in a child s hand-writing, and reaching down to a comparatively late period. Deutsch supported himself by teaching, and, about two years after going to Berlin, wrote some stories and poems on Jewish subjects for magazines. He also mastered the English language and studied English literature. In 1855 Deutsch was offered an appointmentas assistant in the library of the British Museum, which he gladly accepted. " For nigh twenty years," he says, " it was my privilege to dwell in the very midst of that pantheon called the British Museum, the treasures whereof, be they Egyptian, Home ric, palimpsest, or Babylonian cuneiforms, the mutilated glories of the Parthenon, or the Etruscan mysterious grotesqueness, were all at my beck and call, all days, all hours." He worked intensely, always aiming at a book on the Talmud as his master-piece, and contributed no less than 190 papers to Chambers s Encyclopaedia, in addition to essays in Kitto s and Smith s Biblical Dictionaries, and articles in periodicals. In October 1867 his article on "The Talmud," published in the Quarterly Review, at once made him famous. It was translated, within twelve months, into French, German, Russian, Swedish, Dutch, and Danish. He was passionately desirous of travelling in the East ; and, having obtained leave of absence for ten weeks, he left England on the 7th of March 1869. The rapidity and fatigue of the journey permanently injured his health ; but he thoroughly enjoyed his visit to Palestine, where his intense patriotism and finely-strung poetical nature found much food for reflection. Never, to the end of his life, did he mention his visit to the Wailing Place of the Jews in Jerusalem without profound emotion. He reached England on the 10th of May, submitted a valuable report of his travels to the trustees of the British Museum, and delivered a number of lectures, chiefly on Phoenicia. His article on " Islam" appeared in the Quarterly Revieiv for October 1869; and, at the same time, overwork, the con sciousness of approaching ill-health, and the death of attached friends brought on terrible depression. Broken health continued to drag him down ; and, in the autumn of 1872, his old longing for the East returned so powerfully upon him that, after obtaining six months leave, he left for Italy and Egypt. There a cold moist winter told severely on his health. On the 30th of March 1873, he reached Cairo, and was ultimately removed to Alexandria, where, becoming rapidly worse, he died on the 12th of May. He was buried next day in the Jewish cemetery in Alexandria, where a granite stone marks his resting- place. Deutsch was one of the hardest workers of the century, and added to his own special studies of Sanskrit, Chaldaic, Aramaic, and Phoenician, a remarkable acquaint ance with English literature. His Literary Remains, edited by Lady Strangford, were published in 1874, consisting of nineteen papers on such subjects as " The Talmud," "Islam," "Semitic Culture," "Egypt, Ancient and Modern," "Semitic Languages," "The Targums," "The Samaritan Pentateuch," and " Arabic Poetry."