Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/318

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

but he was also Master of Trinity, Archdeacon of Bristol, held two livings besides, and enjoyed the honor of refusing the bishopric of Bristol, as not rich enough to tempt him. Noblesse oblige: that Bentley should hold a brief for the theological side was inevitable, and we need not be surprised when we hear him declaring, "We are sure, from the names of persons and places mentioned in Scripture before the Deluge, not to insist upon other arguments, that the Hebrew was the primitive language of mankind, and that it continued pure above three thousand years until the captivity into Babylon." The power of the theologic bias, when properly stimulated with ecclesiastical preferment, could hardly be more perfectly exemplified than in this captivity of such a man as Bentley.

At the beginning of the eighteenth century this sacred doctrine, based, as was supposed, upon explicit statements of Scripture, seemed forever settled. As we have seen, strong fortresses had been built for it in every Christian land; nothing seemed more unlikely than that the little groups of scholars scattered through these various countries could ever prevail against them. These strongholds were built so firmly, and had behind them so vast an army of religionists of every creed, that to conquer them seemed impossible. And yet at that very moment their doom was decreed. Within a few years from this period of their greatest triumph, the garrisons of all these sacred fortresses were in hopeless confusion, and the armies behind them in full retreat; a little later, both the orthodox fortresses and forces were in the hands of the scientific philologists.

How this came about will be shown in the second part of this chapter.[1]

  1. The quotation from Guichard is from L'Harmonie étymologique des langues... dans laquelle par plusieurs Antiquités et Étymologies de toute sorte, je demonstre evidemment que toutes les langues sont descendues de l'Hébraique; par M. Estienne Guichard, Paris, 1631. The first edition appeared in 1606. For Willett, see his Hexapla, London, 1608, pp. 125-128. For the Address of L'Empereur, see his publication, Leyden, 1627. The quotation from Lightfoot, beginning, "Other commendations," etc., is taken from his Erubhin, or Miscellanies, edition of 1629. See also his works, vol. iv, pp. 46, 47, London, 1822. For Bishop Brian Walton, see the Cambridge edition of his works, 1828, Prolegomena, §§ 1 and 3. As to Walton's giving up the rabbinical points, he mentions in one of the latest editions of his work the fact that Isaac Casaubon, Joseph Scaliger, Isaac Vossius, Grotius, Beza, Luther, Zwingli, Brentz, Œcolampadius, Calvin, and even some of the popes, were with him in this. For Sennert, see his Dissertatio de Ebraicæ S. S. Linguae Origine, etc., Wittenberg, 1657; also his Grammatica Orientalis, Wittenberg, 1666. For Buxtorf, see the preface to his Thesaurus Grammaticus Linguæ Sanctæ Hebraeæ, sixth edition, 1663. For Gale, see his Court of the Gentiles, Oxford, 1672. For Morinus, see his Exercitationes de Lingua Primæva, Utrecht, 1694. For Thomassin, see his Glossarium Universale Hebraicum, Paris, 1697. For John Eliot's utterance, see Mather's Magnalia, Book III, p. 184. For Meric Casaubon, see his De Lingua Anglia Yet., p. 160, cited by Massey, p. 16 of Origin and Progress of Letters. For Bentley, see his works, London, 1S36, vol. ii, p. 11, and citations by Welsford, Mithridates Minor, p. 2. As to Bentley's position as a scholar, see the famous estimate in Macaulay's Essays. For a short but very interesting account of him, see Mark Pattison's article in vol. iii of the last edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica. The position of Pattison as an agnostic dignitary in the English Church eminently fitted him to understand Bentley's career, both as regards the orthodox and the scholastic world. For perhaps the most full and striking account of the manner in which Bentley lorded it in the scholastic world of his time, see Marks's Life of Bentley, vol. ii, chap, xvii, and especially his contemptuous reply to the judges, as given in vol. ii, pp. 211, 212.