Before long Mr. Parris had much upon his hands. Many of his hardy, independent parishioner

---
Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

Before long Mr. Parris had much upon his hands. Many of his hardy, independent parishioners disliked his ways. Quarrels arose. Some of the leading men of the congregation were pitted against him. The previous minister, George Burroughs, had left the germs of troubles and quarrels, and to these were now added new complications arising from the assumptions of Parris. There were innumerable wranglings and lawsuits; in fact, all the essential causes for Satanic interference which we saw at work in and about the monastery at Loudun, and especially the turmoil of a petty village where there is no intellectual activity, and where men and women find their chief substitute for it in squabbles, religious, legal, political, social, and personal. In the darkened atmosphere thus charged with the germs of disease it was suddenly discovered that two young girls in the family of Mr. Parris were possessed of devils: they complained of being pinched, pricked, and cut, fell into strange spasms and made strange speeches--showing the signs of diabolic possession handed down in fireside legends or dwelt upon in popular witch literature--and especially such as had lately been described by Cotton Mather in his book on _Memorable Providences_. The two girls, having been brought by Mr. Parris and others to tell who had bewitched them, first charged an old Indian woman, and the poor old Indian husband was led to join in the charge. This at once afforded new scope for the activity of Mr. Parris. Magnifying his office, he immediately began making a great stir in Salem and in the country round about. Two magistrates were summoned. With them came a crowd, and a court was held at the meeting-house. The scenes which then took place would have been the richest of farces had they not led to events so tragical. The possessed went into spasms at the approach of those charged with witchcraft, and when the poor old men and women attempted to attest their innocence they were overwhelmed with outcries by the possessed, quotations of Scripture by the ministers, and denunciations by the mob. One especially--Ann Putnam, a child of twelve years--showed great precocity and played a striking part in the performances. The mania spread to other children; and two or three married women also, seeing the great attention paid to the afflicted, and influenced by that epidemic of morbid imitation which science now recognises in all such cases, soon became similarly afflicted, and in their turn made charges against various persons. The Indian woman was flogged by her master, Mr. Parris, until she confessed relations with Satan; and others were forced or deluded into confession. These hysterical confessions, the results of unbearable torture, or the reminiscences of dreams, which had been prompted by the witch legends and sermons of the period, embraced such facts as flying through the air to witch gatherings, partaking of witch sacraments, signing a book presented by the devil, and submitting to Satanic baptism. The possessed had begun with charging their possession upon poor and vagrant old women, but ere long, emboldened by their success, they attacked higher game, struck at some of the foremost people of the region, and did not cease until several of these were condemned to death, and every man, woman, and child brought under a reign of terror. Many fled outright, and one of the foremost citizens of Salem went constantly armed, and kept one of his horses saddled in the stable to flee if brought under accusation. The hysterical ingenuity of the possessed women grew with their success. They insisted that they saw devils prompting the accused to defend themselves in court. Did one of the accused clasp her hands in despair, the possessed clasped theirs; did the accused, in appealing to Heaven, make any gesture, the possessed simultaneously imitated it; did the accused in weariness drop her head, the possessed dropped theirs, and declared that the witch was trying to break their necks. The court-room resounded with groans, shrieks, prayers, and curses; judges, jury, and people were aghast, and even the accused were sometimes thus led to believe in their own guilt. Very striking in all these cases was the alloy of frenzy with trickery. In most of the madness there was method. Sundry witches charged by the possessed had been engaged in controversy with the Salem church people. Others of the accused had quarrelled with Mr. Parris. Still others had been engaged in old lawsuits against persons more or less connected with the girls. One of the most fearful charges, which cost the life of a noble and lovely woman, arose undoubtedly from her better style of dress and living. Old slumbering neighbourhood or personal quarrels bore in this way a strange fruitage of revenge; for the cardinal doctrine of a fanatic's creed is that his enemies are the enemies of God. Any person daring to hint the slightest distrust of the proceedings was in danger of being immediately brought under accusation of a league with Satan. Husbands and children were thus brought to the gallows for daring to disbelieve these charges against their wives and mothers. Some of the clergy were accused for endeavouring to save members of their churches.[[150]] One poor woman was charged with "giving a look toward the great meeting-house of Salem, and immediately a demon entered the house and tore down a part of it." This cause for the falling of a bit of poorly nailed wainscoting seemed perfectly satisfactory to Dr. Cotton Mather, as well as to the judge and jury, and she was hanged, protesting her innocence. Still another lady, belonging to one of the most respected families of the region, was charged with the crime of witchcraft. The children were fearfully afflicted whenever she appeared near them. It seemed never to occur to any one that a bitter old feud between the Rev. Mr. Parris and the family of the accused might have prejudiced the children and directed their attention toward the woman. No account was made of the fact that her life had been entirely blameless; and yet, in view of the wretched insufficiency of proof, the jury brought in a verdict of not guilty. As they brought in this verdict, all the children began to shriek and scream, until the court committed the monstrous wrong of causing her to be indicted anew. In order to warrant this, the judge referred to one perfectly natural and harmless expression made by the woman when under examination. The jury at last brought her in guilty. She was condemned; and, having been brought into the church heavily ironed, was solemnly excommunicated and delivered over to Satan by the minister. Some good sense still prevailed, and the Governor reprieved her; but ecclesiastical pressure and popular clamour were too powerful. The Governor was induced to recall his reprieve, and she was executed, protesting her innocence and praying for her enemies.[[150b]] Another typical case was presented. The Rev. Mr. Burroughs, against whom considerable ill will had been expressed, and whose petty parish quarrel with the powerful Putnam family had led to his dismissal from his ministry, was named by the possessed as one of those who plagued them, one of the most influential among the afflicted being Ann Putnam. Mr. Burroughs had led a blameless life, the main thing charged against him by the Putnams being that he insisted strenuously that his wife should not go about the parish talking of her own family matters. He was charged with afflicting the children, convicted, and executed. At the last moment he repeated the Lord's Prayer solemnly and fully, which it was supposed that no sorcerer could do, and this, together with his straightforward Christian utterances at the execution, shook the faith of many in the reality of diabolic possession. Ere long it was known that one of the girls had acknowledged that she had belied some persons who had been executed, and especially Mr. Burroughs, and that she had begged forgiveness; but this for a time availed nothing. Persons who would not confess were tied up and put to a sort of torture which was effective in securing new revelations. In the case of Giles Corey the horrors of the persecution culminated. Seeing that his doom was certain, and wishing to preserve his family from attainder and their property from confiscation, he refused to plead. Though eighty years of age, he was therefore pressed to death, and when, in his last agonies, his tongue was pressed out of his mouth, the sheriff with his walking-stick thrust it back again. Everything was made to contribute to the orthodox view of possession. On one occasion, when a cart conveying eight condemned persons to the place of execution stuck fast in the mire, some of the possessed declared that they saw the devil trying to prevent the punishment of his associates. Confessions of witchcraft abounded; but the way in which these confessions were obtained is touchingly exhibited in a statement afterward made by several women. In explaining the reasons why, when charged with afflicting sick persons, they made a false confession, they said: "... By reason of that suddain surprizal, we knowing ourselves altogether Innocent of that Crime, we were all exceedingly astonished and amazed, and consternated and affrighted even out of our Reason; and our nearest and dearest Relations, seeing us in that dreadful condition, and knowing our great danger, apprehending that there was no other way to save our lives,... out of tender... pitty perswaded us to confess what we did confess. And indeed that Confession, that it is said we made, was no other than what was suggested to us by some Gentlemen; they telling us, that we were Witches, and they knew it, and we knew it, and they knew that we knew it, which made us think that it was so; and our understanding, our reason, and our faculties almost gone, we were not capable of judging our condition; as also the hard measures they used with us, rendred us uncapable of making our Defence, but said anything and everything which they desired, and most of what we said, was in effect a consenting to what they said...."[[152]] Case after case, in which hysteria, fanaticism, cruelty, injustice, and trickery played their part, was followed up to the scaffold. In a short time twenty persons had been put to a cruel death, and the number of the accused grew larger and larger. The highest position and the noblest character formed no barrier. Daily the possessed became more bold, more tricky, and more wild. No plea availed anything. In behalf of several women, whose lives had been of the purest and gentlest, petitions were presented, but to no effect. A scriptural text was always ready to aid in the repression of mercy: it was remembered that "Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light," and above all resounded the Old Testament injunction, which had sent such multitudes in Europe to the torture-chamber and the stake, "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live." Such clergymen as Noyes, Parris, and Mather, aided by such judges as Stoughton and Hathorn, left nothing undone to stimulate these proceedings. The great Cotton Mather based upon this outbreak of disease thus treated his famous book, _Wonders of the Invisible World_, thanking God for the triumphs over Satan thus gained at Salem; and his book received the approbation of the Governor of the Province, the President of Harvard College, and various eminent theologians in Europe as well as in America. But, despite such efforts as these, observation, and thought upon observation, which form the beginning of all true science, brought in a new order of things. The people began to fall away. Justice Bradstreet, having committed thirty or forty persons, became aroused to the absurdity of the whole matter; the minister of Andover had the good sense to resist the theological view; even so high a personage as Lady Phips, the wife of the Governor, began to show lenity. Each of these was, in consequence of this disbelief, charged with collusion with Satan; but such charges seemed now to lose their force. In the midst of all this delusion and terrorism stood Cotton Mather firm as ever. His efforts to uphold the declining superstition were heroic. But he at last went one step too far. Being himself possessed of a mania for myth-making and wonder-mongering, and having described a case of witchcraft with possibly greater exaggeration than usual, he was confronted by Robert Calef. Calef was a Boston merchant, who appears to have united the good sense of a man of business to considerable shrewdness in observation, power in thought, and love for truth; and he began writing to Mather and others, to show the weak points in the system. Mather, indignant that a person so much his inferior dared dissent from his opinion, at first affected to despise Calef; but, as Calef pressed him more and more closely, Mather denounced him, calling him among other things "A Coal from Hell." All to no purpose: Calef fastened still more firmly upon the flanks of the great theologian. Thought and reason now began to resume their sway. The possessed having accused certain men held in very high respect, doubts began to dawn upon the community at large. Here was the repetition of that which had set men thinking in the German bishoprics when those under trial for witchcraft there had at last, in their desperation or madness, charged the very bishops and the judges upon the bench with sorcery. The party of reason grew stronger. The Rev. Mr. Parris was soon put upon the defensive: for some of the possessed began to confess that they had accused people wrongfully. Herculean efforts were made by certain of the clergy and devout laity to support the declining belief, but the more thoughtful turned more and more against it; jurymen prominent in convictions solemnly retracted their verdicts and publicly craved pardon of God and man. Most striking of all was the case of Justice Sewall. A man of the highest character, he had in view of authority deduced from Scripture and the principles laid down by the great English judges, unhesitatingly condemned the accused; but reason now dawned upon him. He looked back and saw the baselessness of the wliole proceedings, and made a public statement of his errors. His diary contains many passages showing deep contrition, and ever afterward, to the end of his life, he was wont, on one day in the year, to enter into solitude, and there remain all the day long in fasting, prayer, and penitence. Chief-Justice Stoughton never yielded. To the last he lamented the "evil spirit of unbelief" which was thwarting the glorious work of freeing New England from demons. The church of Salem solemnly revoked the excommunications of the condemned and drove Mr. Parris from the pastorate. Cotton Mather passed his last years in groaning over the decline of the faith and the ingratitude of a people for whom he had done so much. Very significant is one of his complaints, since it shows the evolution of a more scientific mode of thought abroad as well as at home: he laments in his diary that English publishers gladly printed Calef's book, but would no longer publish his own, and he declares this "an attack upon the glory of the Lord." About forty years after the New England epidemic of "possession" occurred another typical series of pheniomena in France. In 1727 there died at the French capital a simple and kindly ecclesiastic, the Archdeacon Paris. He had lived a pious, Christian life, and was endeared to multitudes by his charity; unfortunately, he had espoused the doctrine of Jansen on grace and free will, and, though he remained in the Gallican Church, he and those who thought like him were opposed by the Jesuits, and finally condemned by a papal bull. His remains having been buried in the cemetery of St. Medard, the Jansenists flocked to say their prayers at his grave, and soon miracles began to be wrought there. Ere long they were multiplied. The sick being brought and laid upon the tombstone, many were cured. Wonderful stories were attested by eye-witnesses. The myth-making tendency--the passion for developing, enlarging, and spreading tales of wonder--came into full play and was given free course. Many thoughtful men satisfied themselves of the truth of these representations. One of the foremost English scholars came over, examined into them, and declared that there could be no doubt as to the reality of the cures. This state of things continued for about four years, when, in 1731, more violent effects showed themselves. Sundry persons approaching the tomb were thrown into convulsions, hysterics, and catalepsy; these diseases spread, became epidemic, and soon multitudes were similarly afflicted. Both religious parties made the most of these cases. In vain did such great authorities in medical science as Hecquet and Lorry attribute the whole to natural causes: the theologians on both sides declared them Supernatural--the Jansenists attributing them to God, the Jesuits to Satan. Of late years such cases have been treated in France with much shrewdness. When, about the middle of the present century, the Arab priests in Algiers tried to arouse fanaticism against the French Christians by performing miracles, the French Government, instead of persecuting the priests, sent Robert-Houdin, the most renowned juggler of his time, to the scene of action, and for every Arab miracle Houdin performed two: did an Arab marabout turn a rod into a serpent, Houdin turned his rod into two serpents; and afterward showed the people how he did it. So, too, at the last International Exposition, the French Government, observing the evil effects produced by the mania for table turning and tipping, took occasion, when a great number of French schoolmasters and teachers were visiting the exposition, to have public lectures given in which all the business of dark closets, hand-tying, materialization of spirits, presenting the faces of the departed, and ghostly portraiture was fully performed by professional mountebanks, and afterward as fully explained. So in this case. The Government simply ordered the gate of the cemetery to be locked, and when the crowd could no longer approach the tomb the miracles ceased. A little Parisian ridicule helped to end the matter. A wag wrote up over the gate of the cemetery. "De par le Roi, defense a Dieu De faire des miracles dans ce lieu"-- which, being translated from doggerel French into doggerel English, is-- "By order of the king, the Lord must forbear To work any more of his miracles here." But the theological spirit remained powerful. The French Revolution had not then intervened to bring it under healthy limits. The agitation was maintained, and, though the miracles and cases of possession were stopped in the cemetery, it spread. Again full course was given to myth-making and the retailing of wonders. It was said that men had allowed themselves to be roasted before slow fires, and had been afterward found uninjured; that some had enormous weights piled upon them, but had supernatural powers of resistance given them; and that, in one case, a voluntary crucifixion had taken place. This agitation was long, troublesome, and no doubt robbed many temporarily or permanently of such little brains as they possessed. It was only when the violence had become an old story and the charm of novelty had entirely worn off, and the afflicted found themselves no longer regarded with especial interest, that the epidemic died away.[[156]] But in Germany at that time the outcome of this belief was far more cruel. In 1749 Maria Renata Singer, sub-prioress of a convent at Wurzburg, was charged with bewitching her fellow-nuns. There was the usual story--the same essential facts as at Loudun--women shut up against their will, dreams of Satan disguised as a young man, petty jealousies, spites, quarrels, mysterious uproar, trickery, utensils thrown about in a way not to be accounted for, hysterical shrieking and convulsions, and, finally, the torture, confession, and execution of the supposed culprit.[[157]] Various epidemics of this sort broke out from time to time in other parts of the world, though happily, as modern scepticism prevailed, with less cruel results. In 1760 some congregations of Calvinistic Methodists in Wales became so fervent that they began leaping for joy. The mania spread, and gave rise to a sect called the "Jumpers." A similar outbreak took place afterward in England, and has been repeated at various times and places since in our own country.[[157b]] In 1780 came another outbreak in France; but this time it was not the Jansenists who were affected, but the strictly orthodox. A large number of young girls between twelve and nineteen years of age, having been brought together at the church of St. Roch, in Paris, with preaching and ceremonies calculated to arouse hysterics, one of them fell into convulsions. Immediately other children were similarly taken, until some fifty or sixty were engaged in the same antics. This mania spread to other churches and gatherings, proved very troublesome, and in some cases led to results especially painful. About the same period came a similar outbreak among the Protestants of the Shetland Isles. A woman having been seized with convulsions at church, the disease spread to others, mainly women, who fell into the usual contortions and wild shriekings. A very effective cure proved to be a threat to plunge the diseased into a neighbouring pond. II. BEGINNINGS OF HELPFUL SCEPTICISM. But near the end of the eighteenth century a fact very important for science was established. It was found that these manifestations do not arise in all cases from supernatural sources. In 1787 came the noted case at Hodden Bridge, in Lancashire. A girl working in a cotton manufactory there put a mouse into the bosom of another girl who had a great dread of mice. The girl thus treated immediately went into convulsions, which lasted twenty-four hours. Shortly afterward three other girls were seized with like convulsions, a little later six more, and then others, until, in all, twenty-four were attacked. Then came a fact throwing a flood of light upon earlier occurrences. This epidemic, being noised abroad, soon spread to another factory five miles distant. The patients there suffered from strangulation, danced, tore their hair, and dashed their heads against the walls. There was a strong belief that it was a disease introduced in cotton, but a resident physician amused the patients with electric shocks, and the disease died out. In 1801 came a case of like import in the Charite Hospital in Berlin. A girl fell into strong convulsions. The disease proved contagious, several others becoming afflicted in a similar way; but nearly all were finally cured, principally by the administration of opium, which appears at that time to have been a fashionable remedy. Of the same sort was a case at Lyons in 1851. Sixty women were working together in a shop, when one of them, after a bitter quarrel with her husband, fell into a violent nervous paroxysm. The other women, sympathizing with her, gathered about to assist her, but one after another fell into a similar condition, until twenty were thus prostrated, and a more general spread of the epidemic was only prevented by clearing the premises.[[158]] But while these cases seemed, in the eye of Science, fatal to the old conception of diabolic influence, the great majority of such epidemics, when unexplained, continued to give strength to the older view. In Roman Catholic countries these manifestations, as we have seen, have generally appeared in convents, or in churches where young girls are brought together for their first communion, or at shrines where miracles are supposed to be wrought. In Protestant countries they appear in times of great religious excitement, and especially when large bodies of young women are submitted to the influence of noisy and frothy preachers. Well-known examples of this in America are seen in the "Jumpers," "Jerkers," and various revival extravagances, especially among the negroes and "poor whites" of the Southern States. The proper conditions being given for the development of the disease--generally a congregation composed mainly of young women--any fanatic or overzealous priest or preacher may stimulate hysterical seizures, which are very likely to become epidemic. As a recent typical example on a large scale, I take the case of diabolic possession at Morzine, a French village on the borders of Switzerland; and it is especially instructive, because it was thoroughly investigated by a competent man of science. About the year 1853 a sick girl at Morzine, acting strangely, was thought to be possessed of the devil, and was taken to Besancon, where she seems to have fallen into the hands of kindly and sensible ecclesiastics, and, under the operation of the relics preserved in the cathedral there--especially the handkerchief of Christ--the devil was cast out and she was cured. Naturally, much was said of the affair among the peasantry, and soon other cases began to show themselves. The priest at Morzine attempted to quiet the matter by avowing his disbelief in such cases of possession; but immediately a great outcry was raised against him, especially by the possessed themselves. The matter was now widely discussed, and the malady spread rapidly; myth-making and wonder-mongering began; amazing accounts were thus developed and sent out to the world. The afflicted were said to have climbed trees like squirrels; to have shown superhuman strength; to have exercised the gift of tongues, speaking in German, Latin, and even in Arabic; to have given accounts of historical events they had never heard of; and to have revealed the secret thoughts of persons about them. Mingled with such exhibitions of power were outbursts of blasphemy and obscenity. But suddenly came something more miraculous, apparently, than all these wonders. Without any assigned cause, this epidemic of possession diminished and the devil disappeared. Not long after this, Prof. Tissot, an eminent member of the medical faculty at Dijon, visited the spot and began a series of researches, of which he afterward published a full account. He tells us that he found some reasons for the sudden departure of Satan which had never been published. He discovered that the Government had quietly removed one or two very zealous ecclesiastics to another parish, had sent the police to Morzine to maintain order, and had given instructions that those who acted outrageously should be simply treated as lunatics and sent to asylums. This policy, so accordant with French methods of administration, cast out the devil: the possessed were mainly cured, and the matter appeared ended. But Dr. Tissot found a few of the diseased still remaining, and he soon satisfied himself by various investigations and experiments that they were simply suffering from hysteria. One of his investigations is especially curious. In order to observe the patients more carefully, he invited some of them to dine with him, gave them without their knowledge holy water in their wine or their food, and found that it produced no effect whatever, though its results upon the demons when the possessed knew of its presence had been very marked. Even after large draughts of holy water had been thus given, the possessed remained afflicted, urged that the devil should be cast out, and some of them even went into convulsions; the devil apparently speaking from their mouths. It was evident that Satan had not the remotest idea that he had been thoroughly dosed with the most effective medicine known to the older theology.[[160]] At last Tissot published the results of his experiments, and the stereotyped answer was soon made. It resembled the answer made by the clerical opponents of Galileo when he showed them the moons of Jupiter through his telescope, and they declared that the moons were created by the telescope. The clerical opponents of Tissot insisted that the non-effect of the holy water upon the demons proved nothing save the extraordinary cunning of Satan; that the archfiend wished it to be thought that he does not exist, and so overcame his repugnance to holy water, gulping it down in order to conceal his presence. Dr. Tissot also examined into the gift of tongues exercised by the possessed. As to German and Latin, no great difficulty was presented: it was by no means hard to suppose that some of the girls might have learned some words of the former language in the neighbouring Swiss cantons where German was spoken, or even in Germany itself; and as to Latin, considering that they had heard it from their childhood in the church, there seemed nothing very wonderful in their uttering some words in that language also. As to Arabic, had they really spoken it, that might have been accounted for by the relations of the possessed with Zouaves or Spahis from the French army; but, as Tissot could discover no such relations, he investigated this point as the most puzzling of all. On a close inquiry, he found that all the wonderful examples of speaking Arabic were reduced to one. He then asked whether there was any other person speaking or knowing Arabic in the town. He was answered that there was not. He asked whether any person had lived there, so far as any one could remember, who had spoken or understood Arabic, and he was answered in the negative. He then asked the witnesses how they knew that the language spoken by the girl was Arabic: no answer was vouchsafed him; but he was overwhelmed with such stories as that of a pig which, at sight of the cross on the village church, suddenly refused to go farther; and he was denounced thoroughly in the clerical newspapers for declining to accept such evidence. At Tissot's visit in 1863 the possession had generally ceased, and the cases left were few and quiet. But his visits stirred a new controversy, and its echoes were long and loud in the pulpits and clerical journals. Believers insisted that Satan had been removed by the intercession of the Blessed Virgin; unbelievers hinted that the main cause of the deliverance was the reluctance of the possessed to be shut up in asylums. Under these circumstances the Bishop of Annecy announced that he would visit Morzine to administer Confirmation, and word appears to have spread that he would give a more orthodox completion to the work already done, by exorcising the devils who remained. Immediately several new cases of possession appeared; young girls who had been cured were again affected; the embers thus kindled were fanned into a flame by a "mission" which sundry priests held in the parish to arouse the people to their religious duties--a mission in Roman Catholic countries being akin to a "revival" among some Protestant sects. Multitudes of young women, excited by the preaching and appeals of the clergy, were again thrown into the old disease, and at the coming of the good bishop it culminated. The account is given in the words of an eye-witness: "At the solemn entrance of the bishop into the church, the possessed persons threw themselves on the ground before him, or endeavoured to throw themselves upon him, screaming frightfully, cursing, blaspheming, so that the people at large were struck with horror. The possessed followed the bishop, hooted him, and threatened him, up to the middle of the church. Order was only established by the intervention of the soldiers. During the confirmation the diseased redoubled their howls and infernal vociferations, and tried to spit in the face of the bishop and to tear off his pastoral raiment. At the moment when the prelate gave his benediction a still more outrageous scene took place. The violence of the diseased was carried to fury, and from all parts of the church arose yells and fearful howling; so frightful was the din that tears fell from the eyes of many of the spectators, and many strangers were thrown into consternation." Among the very large number of these diseased persons there were only two men; of the remainder only two were of advanced age; the great majority were young women between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five years. The public authorities shortly afterward intervened, and sought to cure the disease and to draw the people out of their mania by singing, dancing, and sports of various sorts, until at last it was brought under control.[[163]] Scenes similar to these, in their essential character, have arisen more recently in Protestant countries, but with the difference that what has been generally attributed by Roman Catholic ecclesiastics to Satan is attributed by Protestant ecclesiastics to the Almighty. Typical among the greater exhibitions of this were those which began in the Methodist chapel at Redruth in Cornwall--convulsions, leaping, jumping, until some four thousand persons were seized by it. The same thing is seen in the ruder parts of America at "revivals" and camp meetings. Nor in the ruder parts of America alone. In June, 1893, at a funeral in the city of Brooklyn, one of the mourners having fallen into hysterical fits, several other cases at once appeared in various parts of the church edifice, and some of the patients were so seriously affected that they were taken to a hospital. In still another field these exhibitions are seen, but more after a medieval pattern: in the Tigretier of Abyssinia we have epidemics of dancing which seek and obtain miraculous cures. Reports of similar manifestations are also sent from missionaries from the west coast of Africa, one of whom sees in some of them the characteristics of cases of possession mentioned in our Gospels, and is therefore inclined to attribute them to Satan.[[163b]] III. THEOLOGICAL "RESTATEMENTS."--FINAL TRIUMPH OF THE SCIENTIFIC VIEW AND METHODS. But, happily, long before these latter occurrences, science had come into the field and was gradually diminishing this class of diseases. Among the earlier workers to this better purpose was the great Dutch physician Boerhaave. Finding in one of the wards in the hospital at Haarlem a number of women going into convulsions and imitating each other in various acts of frenzy, he immediately ordered a furnace of blazing coals into the midst of the ward, heated cauterizing irons, and declared that he would burn the arms of the first woman who fell into convulsions. No more cases occurred.[[164]] These and similar successful dealings of medical science with mental disease brought about the next stage in the theological development. The Church sought to retreat, after the usual manner, behind a compromise. Early in the eighteenth century appeared a new edition of the great work by the Jesuit Delrio which for a hundred years had been a text-book for the use of ecclesiastics in fighting witchcraft; but in this edition the part played by Satan in diseases was changed: it was suggested that, while diseases have natural causes, it is necessary that Satan enter the human body in order to make these causes effective. This work claims that Satan "attacks lunatics at the full moon, when their brains are full of humours"; that in other cases of illness he "stirs the black bile"; and that in cases of blindness and deafness he "clogs the eyes and ears." By the close of the century this "restatement" was evidently found untenable, and one of a very different sort was attempted in England. In the third edition of the _Encyclopaedia Britannica_, published in 1797, under the article _Daemoniacs_, the orthodox view was presented in the following words: "The reality of demoniacal possession stands upon the same evidence with the gospel system in general." This statement, though necessary to satisfy the older theological sentiment, was clearly found too dangerous to be sent out into the modern sceptical world without some qualification. Another view was therefore suggested, namely, that the personages of the New Testament "adopted the vulgar language in speaking of those unfortunate persons who were generally imagined to be possessed with demons." Two or three editions contained this curious compromise; but near the middle of the present century the whole discussion was quietly dropped. Science, declining to trouble itself with any of these views, pressed on, and toward the end of the century we see Dr. Rhodes at Lyons curing a very serious case of possession by the use of a powerful emetic; yet myth-making came in here also, and it was stated that when the emetic produced its effect people had seen multitudes of green and yellow devils cast forth from the mouth of the possessed. The last great demonstration of the old belief in England was made in 1788. Near the city of Bristol at that time lived a drunken epileptic, George Lukins. In asking alms, he insisted that he was "possessed," and proved it by jumping, screaming, barking, and treating the company to a parody of the _Te Deum_. He was solemnly brought into the Temple Church, and seven clergymen united in the effort to exorcise the evil spirit. Upon their adjuring Satan, he swore "by his infernal den" that he would not come out of the man--"an oath," says the chronicler, "nowhere to be found but in Bunyan's _Pilgrim's Progress_, from which Lukins probably got it." But the seven clergymen were at last successful, and seven devils were cast out, after which Lukins retired, and appears to have been supported during the remainder of his life as a monument of mercy. With this great effort the old theory in England seemed practically exhausted. Science had evidently carried the stronghold. In 1876, at a little town near Amiens, in France, a young woman suffering with all the usual evidences of diabolic possession was brought to the priest. The priest was besought to cast out the devil, but he simply took her to the hospital, where, under scientific treatment, she rapidly became better.[[165]] The final triumph of science in this part of the great field has been mainly achieved during the latter half of the present century. Following in the noble succession of Paracelsus and John Hunter and Pinel and Tuke and Esquirol, have come a band of thinkers and workers who by scientific observation and research have developed new growths of truth, ever more and more precious. Among the many facts thus brought to bear upon this last stronghold of the Prince of Darkness, may be named especially those indicating "expectant attention"--an expectation of phenomena dwelt upon until the longing for them becomes morbid and invincible, and the creation of them perhaps unconscious. Still other classes of phenomena leading to epidemics are found to arise from a morbid tendency to imitation. Still other groups have been brought under hypnotism. Multitudes more have been found under the innumerable forms and results of hysteria. A study of the effects of the imagination upon bodily functions has also yielded remarkable results. And, finally, to supplement this work, have come in an array of scholars in history and literature who have investigated myth-making and wonder-mongering. Thus has been cleared away that cloud of supernaturalism which so long hung over mental diseases, and thus have they been brought within the firm grasp of science.[[166]] Conscientious men still linger on who find comfort in holding fast to some shred of the old belief in diabolic possession. The sturdy declaration in the last century by John Wesley, that "giving up witchcraft is giving up the Bible," is echoed feebly in the latter half of this century by the eminent Catholic ecclesiastic in France who declares that "to deny possession by devils is to charge Jesus and his apostles with imposture," and asks, "How can the testimony of apostles, fathers of the Church, and saints who saw the possessed and so declared, be denied?" And a still fainter echo lingers in Protestant England.[[167]] But, despite this conscientious opposition, science has in these latter days steadily wrought hand in hand with Christian charity in this field, to evolve a better future for humanity. The thoughtful physician and the devoted clergyman are now constantly seen working together; and it is not too much to expect that Satan, having been cast out of the insane asylums, will ere long disappear from monasteries and camp meetings, even in the most unenlightened regions of Christendom. CHAPTER XVII. FROM BABEL TO COMPARATIVE PHILOLOGY. I. THE SACRED THEORY IN ITS FIRST FORM. AMONG the sciences which have served as entering wedges into the heavy mass of ecclesiastical orthodoxy--to cleave it, disintegrate it, and let the light of Christianity into it--none perhaps has done a more striking work than Comparative Philology. In one very important respect the history of this science differs from that of any other; for it is the only one whose conclusions theologians have at last fully adopted as the result of their own studies. This adoption teaches a great lesson, since, while it has destroyed theological views cherished during many centuries, and obliged the Church to accept theories directly contrary to the plain letter of our sacred books, the result is clearly seen to have helped Christianity rather than to have hurt it. It has certainly done much to clear our religious foundations of the dogmatic rust which was eating into their structure. How this result was reached, and why the Church has so fully accepted it, I shall endeavour to show in the present chapter. At a very early period in the evolution of civilization men began to ask questions regarding language; and the answers to these questions were naturally embodied in the myths, legends, and chronicles of their sacred books. Among the foremost of these questions were three: "Whence came language?" "Which was the first language?" "How came the diversity of language?" The answer to the first of these was very simple: each people naturally held that language was given it directly or indirectly by some special or national deity of its own; thus, to the Chaldeans by Oannes, to the Egyptians by Thoth, to the Hebrews by Jahveh. The Hebrew answer is embodied in the great poem which opens our sacred books. Jahveh talks with Adam and is perfectly understood; the serpent talks with Eve and is perfectly understood; Jahveh brings the animals before Adam, who bestows on each its name. Language, then, was God-given and complete. Of the fact that every language is the result of a growth process there was evidently, among the compilers of our sacred books, no suspicion, The answer to the second of these questions was no less simple. As, very generally, each nation believed its own chief divinity to be "a god above all gods,"--as each believed itself "a chosen people,"--as each believed its own sacred city the actual centre of the earth, so each believed its own language to be the first--the original of all. This answer was from the first taken for granted by each "chosen people," and especially by the Hebrews: throughout their whole history, whether the Almighty talks with Adam in the Garden or writes the commandments on Mount Sinai, he uses the same language--the Hebrew. The answer to the third of these questions, that regarding the diversity of languages, was much more difficult. Naturally, explanations of this diversity frequently gave rise to legends somewhat complicated. The "law of wills and causes," formulated by Comte, was exemplified here as in so many other cases. That law is, that, when men do not know the natural causes of things, they simply attribute them to wills like their own; thus they obtain a theory which provisionally takes the place of science, and this theory forms a basis for theology. Examples of this recur to any thinking reader of history. Before the simpler laws of astronomy were known, the sun was supposed to be trundled out into the heavens every day and the stars hung up in the firmament every night by the right hand of the Almighty. Before the laws of comets were known, they were thought to be missiles hurled by an angry God at a wicked world. Before the real cause of lightning was known, it was supposed to be the work of a good God in his wrath, or of evil spirits in their malice. Before the laws of meteorology were known, it was thought that rains were caused by the Almighty or his angels opening "the windows of heaven" to let down upon the earth "the waters that be above the firmament." Before the laws governing physical health were known, diseases were supposed to result from the direct interposition of the Almighty or of Satan. Before the laws governing mental health were known, insanity was generally thought to be diabolic possession. All these early conceptions were naturally embodied in the sacred books of the world, and especially in our own.[[170]] So, in this case, to account for the diversity of tongues, the direct intervention of the Divine Will was brought in. As this diversity was felt to be an inconvenience, it was attributed to the will of a Divine Being in anger. To explain this anger, it was held that it must have been provoked by human sin. Out of this conception explanatory myths and legends grew as thickly and naturally as elms along water-courses; of these the earliest form known to us is found in the Chaldean accounts, and nowhere more clearly than in the legend of the Tower of Babel. The inscriptions recently found among the ruins of Assyria have thrown a bright light into this and other scriptural myths and legends: the deciphering of the characters in these inscriptions by Grotefend, and the reading of the texts by George Smith, Oppert, Sayce, and others, have given us these traditions more nearly in their original form than they appear in our own Scriptures. The Hebrew story of Babel, like so many other legends in the sacred books of the world, combined various elements. By a play upon words, such as the history of myths and legends frequently shows, it wrought into one fabric the earlier explanations of the diversities of human speech and of the great ruined tower at Babylon. The name Babel (_bab-el_) means "Gate of God" or "Gate of the Gods." All modern scholars of note agree that this was the real significance of the name; but the Hebrew verb which signifies _to confound_ resembles somewhat the word Babel, so that out of this resemblance, by one of the most common processes in myth formation, came to the Hebrew mind an indisputable proof that the tower was connected with the confusion of tongues, and this became part of our theological heritage. In our sacred books the account runs as follows: "And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. "And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. "And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar. "And they said, Go to, let us build us a city, and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. "And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. "And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. "Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. "So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. "Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth." (Genesis xi, 1-9.) Thus far the legend had been but slightly changed from the earlier Chaldean form in which it has been found in the Assyrian inscriptions. Its character is very simple: to use the words of Prof. Sayce, "It takes us back to the age when the gods were believed to dwell in the visible sky, and when man, therefore, did his best to rear his altars as near them as possible." And this eminent divine might have added that it takes us back also to a time when it was thought that Jehovah, in order to see the tower fully, was obliged to come down from his seat above the firmament. As to the real reasons for the building of the towers which formed so striking a feature in Chaldean architecture--any one of which may easily have given rise to the explanatory myth which found its way into our sacred books--there seems a substantial agreement among leading scholars that they were erected primarily as parts of temples, but largely for the purpose of astronomical observations, to which the Chaldeans were so devoted, and to which their country, with its level surface and clear atmosphere, was so well adapted. As to the real cause of the ruin of such structures, one of the inscribed cylinders discovered in recent times, speaking of a tower which most of the archaeologists identify with the Tower of Babel, reads as follows: "The building named the Stages of the Seven Spheres, which was the Tower of Borsippa, had been built by a former king. He had completed forty-two cubits, but he did not finish its head. During the lapse of time, it had become ruined; they had not taken care of the exit of the waters, so that rain and wet had penetrated into the brickwork; the casing of burned brick had swollen out, and the terraces of crude brick are scattered in heaps." We can well understand how easily "the gods, assisted by the winds," as stated in the Chaldean legend, could overthrow a tower thus built. It may be instructive to compare with the explanatory myth developed first by the Chaldeans, and in a slightly different form by the Hebrews, various other legends to explain the same diversity of tongues. The Hindu legend of the confusion of tongues is as follows: "There grew in the centre of the earth the wonderful `world tree,' or `knowledge tree.' It was so tall that it reached almost to heaven. It said in its heart, `I shall hold my head in heaven and spread my branches over all the earth, and gather all men together under my shadow, and protect them, and prevent them from separating.' But Brahma, to punish the pride of the tree, cut off its branches and cast them down on the earth, when they sprang up as wata trees, and made differences of belief and speech and customs to prevail on the earth, to disperse men upon its surface." Still more striking is a Mexican legend: according to this, the giant Xelhua built the great Pyramid of Cholula, in order to reach heaven, until the gods, angry at his audacity, threw fire upon the building and broke it down, whereupon every separate family received a language of its own. Such explanatory myths grew or spread widely over the earth. A well-known form of the legend, more like the Chaldean than the Hebrew later form, appeared among the Greeks. According to this, the Aloidae piled Mount Ossa upon Olympus and Pelion upon Ossa, in their efforts to reach heaven and dethrone Jupiter. Still another form of it entered the thoughts of Plato. He held that in the golden age men and beasts all spoke the same language, but that Zeus confounded their speech because men were proud and demanded eternal youth and immortality.[[173]] But naturally the version of the legend which most affected Christendom was that modification of the Chaldean form developed among the Jews and embodied in their sacred books. To a thinking man in these days it is very instructive. The coming down of the Almighty from heaven to see the tower and put an end to it by dispersing its builders, points to the time when his dwelling was supposed to be just above the firmament or solid vault above the earth: the time when he exercised his beneficent activity in such acts as opening "the windows of heaven" to give down rain upon the earth; in bringing out the sun every day and hanging up the stars every night to give light to the earth; in hurling comets, to give warning; in placing his bow in the cloud, to give hope; in coming down in the cool of the evening to walk and talk with the man he had made; in making coats of skins for Adam and Eve; in enjoying the odour of flesh which Noah burned for him; in eating with Abraham under the oaks of Mamre; in wrestling with Jacob; and in writing with his own finger on the stone tables for Moses. So came the answer to the third question regarding language; and all three answers, embodied in our sacred books and implanted in the Jewish mind, supplied to the Christian Church the germs of a theological development of philology. These germs developed rapidly in the warm atmosphere of devotion and ignorance of natural law which pervaded the early Church, and there grew a great orthodox theory of language, which was held throughout Christendom, "always, everywhere, and by all," for nearly two thousand years, and to which, until the present century, all science has been obliged, under pains and penalties, to conform. There did, indeed, come into human thought at an early period some suggestions of the modern scientific view of philology. Lucretius had proposed a theory, inadequate indeed, but still pointing toward the truth, as follows: "Nature impelled man to try the various sounds of the tongue, and so struck out the names of things, much in the same way as the inability to speak is seen in its turn to drive children to the use of gestures." But, among the early fathers of the Church, the only one who seems to have caught an echo of this utterance was St. Gregory of Nyssa: as a rule, all the other great founders of Christian theology, as far as they expressed themselves on the subject, took the view that the original language spoken by the Almighty and given by him to men was Hebrew, and that from this all other languages were derived at the destruction of the Tower of Babel. This doctrine was especially upheld by Origen, St. Jerome, and St. Augustine. Origen taught that "the language given at the first through Adam, the Hebrew, remained among that portion of mankind which was assigned not to any angel, but continued the portion of God himself." St. Augustine declared that, when the other races were divided by their own peculiar languages, Heber's family preserved that language which is not unreasonably believed to have been the common language of the race, and that on this account it was henceforth called Hebrew. St. Jerome wrote, "The whole of antiquity affirms that Hebrew, in which the Old Testament is written, was the beginning of all human speech." Amid such great authorities as these even Gregory of Nyssa struggled in vain. He seems to have taken the matter very earnestly, and to have used not only argument but ridicule. He insists that God does not speak Hebrew, and that the tongue used by Moses was not even a pure dialect of one of the languages resulting from "the confusion." He makes man the inventor of speech, and resorts to raillery: speaking against his opponent Eunomius, he says that, "passing in silence his base and abject garrulity," he will "note a few things which are thrown into the midst of his useless or wordy discourse, where he represents God teaching words and names to our first parents, sitting before them like some pedagogue or grammar master." But, naturally, the great authority of Origen, Jerome, and Augustine prevailed; the view suggested by Lucretius, and again by St. Gregory of Nyssa, died, out; and "always, everywhere, and by all," in the Church, the doctrine was received that the language spoken by the Almighty was Hebrew,--that it was taught by him to Adam,--and that all other languages on the face of the earth originated from it at the dispersion attending the destruction of the Tower of Babel.[[176]] This idea threw out roots and branches in every direction, and so developed ever into new and strong forms. As all scholars now know, the vowel points in the Hebrew language were not adopted until at some period between the second and tenth centuries; but in the mediaeval Church they soon came to be considered as part of the great miracle,--as the work of the right hand of the Almighty; and never until the eighteenth century was there any doubt allowed as to the divine origin of these rabbinical additions to the text. To hesitate in believing that these points were dotted virtually by the very hand of God himself came to be considered a fearful heresy. The series of battles between theology and science in the field of comparative philology opened just on this point, apparently so insignificant: the direct divine inspiration of the rabbinical punctuation. The first to impugn this divine origin of these vocal points and accents appears to have been a Spanish monk, Raymundus Martinus, in his _Pugio Fidei_, or Poniard of the Faith, which he put forth in the thirteenth century. But he and his doctrine disappeared beneath the waves of the orthodox ocean, and apparently left no trace. For nearly three hundred years longer the full sacred theory held its ground; but about the opening of the sixteenth century another glimpse of the truth was given by a Jew, Elias Levita, and this seems to have had some little effect, at least in keeping the germ of scientific truth alive. The Reformation, with its renewal of the literal study of the Scriptures, and its transfer of all infallibility from the Church and the papacy to the letter of the sacred books, intensified for a time the devotion of Christendom to this sacred theory of language. The belief was strongly held that the writers of the Bible were merely pens in the hand of God (_Dei calami_). hence the conclusion that not only the sense but the words, letters, and even the punctuation proceeded from the Holy Spirit. Only on this one question of the origin of the Hebrew points was there any controversy, and this waxed hot. It began to be especially noted that these vowel points in the Hebrew Bible did not exist in the synagogue rolls, were not mentioned in the Talmud, and seemed unknown to St. Jerome; and on these grounds some earnest men ventured to think them no part of the original revelation to Adam. Zwingli, so much before most of the Reformers in other respects, was equally so in this. While not doubting the divine origin and preservation of the Hebrew language as a whole, he denied the antiquity of the vocal points, demonstrated their unessential character, and pointed out the fact that St. Jerome makes no mention of them. His denial was long the refuge of those who shared this heresy. But the full orthodox theory remained established among the vast majority both of Catholics and Protestants. The attitude of the former is well illustrated in the imposing work of the canon Marini, which appeared at Venice in 1593, under the title of _Noah's Ark: A New Treasury of the Sacred Tongue_. The huge folios begin with the declaration that the Hebrew tongue was "divinely inspired at the very beginning of the world," and the doctrine is steadily maintained that this divine inspiration extended not only to the letters but to the punctuation. Not before the seventeenth century was well under way do we find a thorough scholar bold enough to gainsay this preposterous doctrine. This new assailant was Capellus, Professor of Hebrew at Saumur; but he dared not put forth his argument in France: he was obliged to publish it in Holland, and even there such obstacles were thrown in his way that it was ten years before he published another treatise of importance. The work of Capellus was received as settling the question by very many open-minded scholars, among whom was Hugo Grotius. But many theologians felt this view to be a blow at the sanctity and integrity of the sacred text; and in 1648 the great scholar, John Buxtorf the younger, rose to defend the orthodox citadel: in his _Anticritica_ he brought all his stores of knowledge to uphold the doctrine that the rabbinical points and accents had been jotted down by the right hand of God. The controversy waxed hot: scholars like Voss and Brian Walton supported Capellus; Wasmuth and many others of note were as fierce against him. The Swiss Protestants were especially violent on the orthodox side; their formula consensus of 1675 declared the vowel points to be inspired, and three years later the Calvinists of Geneva, by a special canon, forbade that any minister should be received into their jurisdiction until he publicly confessed that the Hebrew text, as it to-day exists in the Masoretic copies, is, both as to the consonants and vowel points, divine and authentic. While in Holland so great a man as Hugo Grotius supported the view of Capellus, and while in France the eminent Catholic scholar Richard Simon, and many others, Catholic and Protestant, took similar ground against this divine origin of the Hebrew punctuation, there was arrayed against them a body apparently overwhelming. In France, Bossuet, the greatest theologian that France has ever produced, did his best to crush Simon. In Germany, Wasmuth, professor first at Rostock and afterward at Kiel, hurled his _Vindiciae_ at the innovators. Yet at this very moment the battle was clearly won; the arguments of Capellus were irrefragable, and, despite the commands of bishops, the outcries of theologians, and the sneering of critics, his application of strictly scientific observation and reasoning carried the day. Yet a casual observer, long after the fate of the battle was really settled, might have supposed that it was still in doubt. As is not unusual in theologic controversies, attempts were made to galvanize the dead doctrine into an appearance of life. Famous among these attempts was that made as late as the beginning of the eighteenth century by two Bremen theologians, Hase and Iken, They put forth a compilation in two huge folios simultaneously at Leyden and Amsterdam, prominent in which work is the treatise on _The Integrity of Scripture_, by Johann Andreas Danzius, Professor of Oriental Languages and Senior Member of the Philosophical Faculty of Jena, and, to preface it, there was a formal and fulsome approval by three eminent professors of theology at Leyden. With great fervour the author pointed out that "religion itself depends absolutely on the infallible inspiration, both verbal and literal, of the Scripture text"; and with impassioned eloquence he assailed the blasphemers who dared question the divine origin of the Hebrew points. But this was really the last great effort. That the case was lost was seen by the fact that Danzius felt obliged to use other missiles than arguments, and especially to call his opponents hard names. From this period the old sacred theory as to the origin of the Hebrew points may be considered as dead and buried. II. THE SACRED THEORY OF LANGUAGE IN ITS SECOND FORM. But the war was soon to be waged on a wider and far more important field. The inspiration of the Hebrew punctuation having been given up, the great orthodox body fell back upon the remainder of the theory, and intrenched this more strongly than ever: the theory that the Hebrew language was the first of all languages--that which was spoken by the Almighty, given by him to Adam, transmitted through Noah to the world after the Deluge--and that the "confusion of tongues" was the origin of all other languages. In giving account of this new phase of the struggle, it is well to go back a little. From the Revival of Learning and the Reformation had come the renewed study of Hebrew in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and thus the sacred doctrine regarding the origin of the Hebrew language received additional authority. All the early Hebrew grammars, from that of Reuchlin down, assert the divine origin and miraculous claims of Hebrew. It is constantly mentioned as "the sacred tongue"--_sancta lingua_. In 1506, Reuchlin, though himself persecuted by a large faction in the Church for advanced views, refers to Hebrew as "spoken by the mouth of God." This idea was popularized by the edition of the _Margarita Philosophica_, published at Strasburg in 1508. That work, in its successive editions a mirror of human knowledge at the close of the Middle Ages and the opening of modern times, contains a curious introduction to the study of Hebrew, In this it is declared that Hebrew was the original speech "used between God and man and between men and angels." Its full-page frontispiece represents Moses receiving from God the tables of stone written in Hebrew; and, as a conclusive argument, it reminds us that Christ himself, by choosing a Hebrew maid for his mother, made that his mother tongue. It must be noted here, however, that Luther, in one of those outbursts of strong sense which so often appear in his career, enforced the explanation that the words "God said" had nothing to do with the articulation of human language. Still, he evidently yielded to the general view. In the Roman Church at the same period we have a typical example of the theologic method applied to philology, as we have seen it applied to other sciences, in the statement by Luther's great opponent, Cajetan, that the three languages of the inscription on the cross of Calvary "were the representatives of all languages, because the number three denotes perfection." In 1538 Postillus made a very important endeavour at a comparative study of languages, but with the orthodox assumption that all were derived from one source, namely, the Hebrew. Naturally, Comparative Philology blundered and stumbled along this path into endless absurdities. The most amazing efforts were made to trace back everything to the sacred language. English and Latin dictionaries appeared, in which every word was traced back to a Hebrew root. No supposition was too absurd in this attempt to square Science with Scripture. It was declared that, as Hebrew is written from right to left, it might be read either way, in order to produce a satisfactory etymology. The whole effort in all this sacred scholarship was, not to find what the truth is--not to see how the various languages are to be classified, or from what source they are really derived--but to demonstrate what was supposed necessary to maintain what was then held to be the truth of Scripture; namely, that all languages are derived from the Hebrew. This stumbling and blundering, under the sway of orthodox necessity, was seen among the foremost scholars throughout Europe. About the middle of the sixteenth century the great Swiss scholar, Conrad Gesner, beginning his _Mithridates_, says, "While of all languages Hebrew is the first and oldest, of all is alone pure and unmixed, all the rest are much mixed, for there is none which has not some words derived and corrupted from Hebrew." Typical, as we approach the end of the sixteenth century, are the utterances of two of the most noted English divines. First of these may be mentioned Dr. William Fulke, Master of Pembroke Hall, in the University of Cambridge. In his _Discovery of the Dangerous Rock of the Romish Church_, published in 1580, he speaks of "the Hebrew tongue,... the first tongue of the world, and for the excellency thereof called `the holy tongue.'" Yet more emphatic, eight years later, was another eminent divine, Dr. William Whitaker, Regius Professor of Divinity and Master of St. John's College at Cambridge. In his _Disputation on Holy Scripture_, first printed in 1588, he says: "The Hebrew is the most ancient of all languages, and was that which alone prevailed in the world before the Deluge and the erection of the Tower of Babel. For it was this which Adam used and all men before the Flood, as is manifest from the Scriptures, as the fathers testify." He then proceeds to quote passages on this subject from St. Jerome, St. Augustine, and others, and cites St. Chrysostom in support of the statement that "God himself showed the model and method of writing when he delivered the Law written by his own finger to Moses."[[181]] This sacred theory entered the seventeenth century in full force, and for a time swept everything before it. Eminent commentators, Catholic and Protestant, accepted and developed it. Great prelates, Catholic and Protestant, stood guard over it, favouring those who supported it, doing their best to destroy those who would modify it. In 1606 Stephen Guichard built new buttresses for it in Catholic France. He explains in his preface that his intention is "to make the reader see in the Hebrew word not only the Greek and Latin, but also the Italian, the Spanish, the French, the German, the Flemish, the English, and many others from all languages." As the merest tyro in philology can now see, the great difficulty that Guichard encounters is in getting from the Hebrew to the Aryan group of languages. How he meets this difficulty may be imagined from his statement, as follows: "As for the derivation of words by addition, subtraction, and inversion of the letters, it is certain that this can and ought thus to be done, if we would find etymologies--a thing which becomes very credible when we consider that the Hebrews wrote from right to left and the Greeks and others from left to right. All the learned recognise such derivations as necessary;... and... certainly otherwise one could scarcely trace any etymology back to Hebrew." Of course, by this method of philological juggling, anything could be proved which the author thought necessary to his pious purpose. Two years later, Andrew Willett published at London his _Hexapla, or Sixfold Commentary upon Genesis_. In this he insists that the one language of all mankind in the beginning "was the Hebrew tongue preserved still in Heber's family." He also takes pains to say that the Tower of Babel "was not so called of Belus, as some have imagined, but of confusion, for so the Hebrew word _ballal_ signifieth"; and he quotes from St. Chrysostom to strengthen his position. In 1627 Dr. Constantine l'Empereur was inducted into the chair of Philosophy of the Sacred Language in the University of Leyden. In his inaugural oration on _The Dignity and Utility of the Hebrew Tongue_, he puts himself on record in favour of the Divine origin and miraculous purity of that language. "Who," he says, "can call in question the fact that the Hebrew idiom is coeval with the world itself, save such as seek to win vainglory for their own sophistry?" Two years after Willett, in England, comes the famous Dr. Lightfoot, the most renowned scholar of his time in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin; but all his scholarship was bent to suit theological requirements. In his _Erubhin_, published in 1629, he goes to the full length of the sacred theory, though we begin to see a curious endeavour to get over some linguistic difficulties. One passage will serve to show both the robustness of his faith and the acuteness of his reasoning, in view of the difficulties which scholars now began to find in the sacred theory." Other commendations this tongue (Hebrew) needeth none than what it hath of itself; namely, for sanctity it was the tongue of God; and for antiquity it was the tongue of Adam. God the first founder, and Adam the first speaker of it.... It began with the world and the Church, and continued and increased in glory till the captivity in Babylon.... As the man in Seneca, that through sickness lost his memory and forgot his own name, so the Jews, for their sins, lost their language and forgot their own tongue.... Before the confusion of tongues all the world spoke their tongue and no other but since the confusion of the Jews they speak the language of all the world and not their own." But just at the middle of the century (1657) came in England a champion of the sacred theory more important than any of these--Brian Walton, Bishop of Chester. His Polyglot Bible dominated English scriptural criticism throughout the remainder of the century. He prefaces his great work by proving at length the divine origin of Hebrew, and the derivation from it of all other forms of speech. He declares it "probable that the first parent of mankind was the inventor of letters." His chapters on this subject are full of interesting details. He says that the Welshman, Davis, had already tried to prove the Welsh the primitive speech; Wormius, the Danish; Mitilerius, the German; but the bishop stands firmly by the sacred theory, informing us that "even in the New World are found traces of the Hebrew tongue, namely, in New England and in New Belgium, where the word _Aguarda_ signifies earth, and the name Joseph is found among the Hurons." As we have seen, Bishop Walton had been forced to give up the inspiration of the rabbinical punctuation, but he seems to have fallen back with all the more tenacity on what remained of the great sacred theory of language, and to have become its leading champion among English-speaking peoples. At that same period the same doctrine was put forth by a great authority in Germany. In 1657 Andreas Sennert published his inaugural address as Professor of Sacred Letters and Dean of the Theological Faculty at Wittenberg. All his efforts were given to making Luther's old university a fortress of the orthodox theory. His address, like many others in various parts of Europe, shows that in his time an inaugural with any save an orthodox statement of the theological platform would not be tolerated. Few things in the past are to the sentimental mind more pathetic, to the philosophical mind more natural, and to the progressive mind more ludicrous, than addresses at high festivals of theological schools. The audience has generally consisted mainly of estimable elderly gentlemen, who received their theology in their youth, and who in their old age have watched over it with jealous care to keep it well protected from every fresh breeze of thought. Naturally, a theological professor inaugurated under such auspices endeavours to propitiate his audience. Sennert goes to great lengths both in his address and in his grammar, published nine years later; for, declaring the Divine origin of Hebrew to be quite beyond controversy, he says: "Noah received it from our first parents, and guarded it in the midst of the waters; Heber and Peleg saved it from the confusion of tongues." The same doctrine was no less loudly insisted upon by the greatest authority in Switzerland, Buxtorf, professor at Basle, who proclaimed Hebrew to be "the tongue of God, the tongue of angels, the tongue of the prophets"; and the effect of this proclamation may be imagined when we note in 1663 that his book had reached its sixth edition. It was re-echoed through England, Germany, France, and America, and, if possible, yet more highly developed. In England Theophilus Gale set himself to prove that not only all the languages, but all the learning of the world, had been drawn from the Hebrew records. This orthodox doctrine was also fully vindicated in Holland. Six years before the close of the seventeenth century, Morinus, Doctor of Theology, Professor of Oriental Languages, and pastor at Amsterdam, published his great work on _Primaeval Language_. Its frontispiece depicts the confusion of tongues at Babel, and, as a pendant to this, the pentecostal gift of tongues to the apostles. In the successive chapters of the first book he proves that language could not have come into existence save as a direct gift from heaven; that there is a primitive language, the mother of all the rest; that this primitive language still exists in its pristine purity; that this language is the Hebrew. The second book is devoted to proving that the Hebrew letters were divinely received, have been preserved intact, and are the source of all other alphabets. But in the third book he feels obliged to allow, in the face of the contrary dogma held, as he says, by "not a few most eminent men piously solicitous for the authority of the sacred text," that the Hebrew punctuation was, after all, not of Divine inspiration, but a late invention of the rabbis. France, also, was held to all appearance in complete subjection to the orthodox idea up to the end of the century. In 1697 appeared at Paris perhaps the most learned of all the books written to prove Hebrew the original tongue and source of all others. The Gallican Church was then at the height of its power. Bossuet as bishop, as thinker, and as adviser of Louis XIV, had crushed all opposition to orthodoxy. The Edict of Nantes had been revoked, and the Huguenots, so far as they could escape, were scattered throughout the world, destined to repay France with interest a thousandfold during the next two centuries. The bones of the Jansenists at Port Royal were dug up and scattered. Louis XIV stood guard over the piety of his people. It was in the midst of this series of triumphs that Father Louis Thomassin, Priest of the Oratory, issued his _Universal Hebrew Glossary_. In this, to use his own language, "the divinity, antiquity, and perpetuity of the Hebrew tongue, with its letters, accents, and other characters," are established forever and beyond all cavil, by proofs drawn from all peoples, kindreds, and nations under the sun. This superb, thousand-columned folio was issued from the royal press, and is one of the most imposing monuments of human piety and folly--taking rank with the treatises of Fromundus against Galileo, of Quaresmius on Lot's Wife, and of Gladstone on Genesis and Geology. The great theologic-philologic chorus was steadily maintained, and, as in a responsive chant, its doctrines were echoed from land to land. From America there came the earnest words of John Eliot, praising Hebrew as the most fit to be made a universal language, and declaring it the tongue "which it pleased our Lord Jesus to make use of when he spake from heaven unto Paul." At the close of the seventeenth century came from England a strong antiphonal answer in this chorus; Meric Casaubon, the learned Prebendary of Canterbury, thus declared: "One language, the Hebrew, I hold to be simply and absolutely the source of all." And, to swell the chorus, there came into it, in complete unison, the voice of Bentley--the greatest scholar of the old sort whom England has ever produced. He was, indeed, one of the most learned and acute critics of any age; but he was also Master of Trinity, Archdeacon of Bristol, held two livings besides, and enjoyed the honour 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 in Babylon." The power of the theologic bias, when properly stimulated with ecclesiastical preferment, could hardly be more perfectly exemplified than in such a captivity of such a man as Bentley. Yet here two important exceptions should be noted. In England, Prideaux, whose biblical studies gave him much authority, opposed the dominant opinion; and in America, Cotton Mather, who in taking his Master's degree at Harvard had supported the doctrine that the Hebrew vowel points were of divine origin, bravely recanted and declared for the better view.[[187]] But even this dissent produced little immediate effect, and at the beginning of the eighteenth century this sacred doctrine, based 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, all the important orthodox fortresses and forces were in the hands of the scientific philologists. How this came about will be shown in the third part of this chapter. III. BREAKING DOWN OF THE THEOLOGICAL VIEW. We have now seen the steps by which the sacred theory of human language had been developed: how it had been strengthened in every land until it seemed to bid defiance forever to advancing thought; how it rested firmly upon the letter of Scripture, upon the explicit declarations of leading fathers of the Church, of the great doctors of the Middle Ages, of the most eminent theological scholars down to the beginning of the eighteenth century, and was guarded by the decrees of popes, kings, bishops, Catholic and Protestant, and the whole hierarchy of authorities in church and state. And yet, as we now look back, it is easy to see that even in that hour of its triumph it was doomed. The reason why the Church has so fully accepted the conclusions of science which have destroyed the sacred theory is instructive. The study of languages has been, since the Revival of Learning and the Reformation, a favourite study with the whole Western Church, Catholic and Protestant. The importance of understanding the ancient tongues in which our sacred books are preserved first stimulated the study, and Church missionary efforts have contributed nobly to supply the material for extending it, and for the application of that comparative method which, in philology as in other sciences, has been so fruitful. Hence it is that so many leading theologians have come to know at first hand the truths given by this science, and to recognise its fundamental principles. What the conclusions which they, as well as all other scholars in this field, have been absolutely forced to accept, I shall now endeavour to show. The beginnings of a scientific theory seemed weak indeed, but they were none the less effective. As far back as 1661, Hottinger, professor at Heidelberg, came into the chorus of theologians like a great bell in a chime; but like a bell whose opening tone is harmonious and whose closing tone is discordant. For while, at the beginning, Hottinger cites a formidable list of great scholars who had held the sacred theory of the origin of language, he goes on to note a closer resemblance to the Hebrew in some languages than in others, and explains this by declaring that the confusion of tongues was of two sorts, total and partial: the Arabic and Chaldaic he thinks underwent only a partial confusion; the Egyptian, Persian, and all the European languages a total one. Here comes in the discord; here gently sounds forth from the great chorus a new note--that idea of grouping and classifying languages which at a later day was to destroy utterly the whole sacred theory. But the great chorus resounded on, as we have seen, from shore to shore, until the closing years of the seventeenth century; then arose men who silenced it forever. The first leader who threw the weight of his knowledge, thought, and authority against it was Leibnitz. He declared, "There is as much reason for supposing Hebrew to have been the primitive language of mankind as there is for adopting the view of Goropius, who published a work at Antwerp in 1580 to prove that Dutch was the language spoken in paradise." In a letter to Tenzel, Leibnitz wrote, "To call Hebrew the primitive language is like calling the branches of a tree primitive branches, or like imagining that in some country hewn trunks could grow instead of trees." He also asked, "If the primeval language existed even up to the time of Moses, whence came the Egyptian language?" But the efficiency of Leibnitz did not end with mere suggestions. He applied the inductive method to linguistic study, made great efforts to have vocabularies collected and grammars drawn up wherever missionaries and travellers came in contact with new races, and thus succeeded in giving the initial impulse to at least three notable collections--that of Catharine the Great, of Russia; that of the Spanish Jesuit, Lorenzo Hervas; and, at a later period, the _Mithridates_ of Adelung. The interest of the Empress Catharine in her collection of linguistic materials was very strong, and her influence is seen in the fact that Washington, to please her, requested governors and generals to send in materials from various parts of the United States and the Territories. The work of Hervas extended over the period from 1735 to 1809: a missionary in America, he enlarged his catalogue of languages to six volumes, which were published in Spanish in 1800, and contained specimens of more than three hundred languages, with the grammars of more than forty. It should be said to his credit that Hervas dared point out with especial care the limits of the Semitic family of languages, and declared, as a result of his enormous studies, that the various languages of mankind could not have been derived from the Hebrew. While such work was done in Catholic Spain, Protestant Germany was honoured by the work of Adelung. It contained the Lord's Prayer in nearly five hundred languages and dialects, and the comparison of these, early in the nineteenth century, helped to end the sway of theological philology. But the period which intervened between Leibnitz and this modern development was a period of philological chaos. It began mainly with the doubts which Leibnitz had forced upon Europe, and ended only with the beginning of the study of Sanskrit in the latter half of the eighteenth century, and with the comparisons made by means of the collections of Catharine, Hervas, and Adelung at the beginning of the nineteenth. The old theory that Hebrew was the original language had gone to pieces; but nothing had taken its place as a finality. Great authorities, like Buddeus, were still cited in behalf of the narrower belief; but everywhere researches, unorganized though they were, tended to destroy it. The story of Babel continued indeed throughout the whole eighteenth century to hinder or warp scientific investigation, and a very curious illustration of this fact is seen in the book of Lord Nelme on _The Origin and Elements of Language_. He declares that connected with the confusion was the cleaving of America from Europe, and he regards the most terrible chapters in the book of Job as intended for a description of the Flood, which in all probability Job had from Noah himself. Again, Rowland Jones tried to prove that Celtic was the primitive tongue, and that it passed through Babel unharmed. Still another effect was made by a Breton to prove that all languages took their rise in the language of Brittany. All was chaos. There was much wrangling, but little earnest controversy. Here and there theologians were calling out frantically, beseeching the Church to save the old doctrine as "essential to the truth of Scripture"; here and there other divines began to foreshadow the inevitable compromise which has always been thus vainly attempted in the history of every science. But it was soon seen by thinking men that no concessions as yet spoken of by theologians were sufficient. In the latter half of the century came the bloom period of the French philosophers and encyclopedists, of the English deists, of such German thinkers as Herder, Kant, and Lessing; and while here and there some writer on the theological side, like Perrin, amused thinking men by his flounderings in this great chaos, all remained without form and void.[[192]] Nothing better reveals to us the darkness and duration of this chaos in England than a comparison of the articles on Philology given in the successive editions of the _Encyclopaedia Britannica_. The first edition of that great mirror of British thought was printed in 1771: chaos reigns through the whole of its article on this subject. The writer divides languages into two classes, seems to indicate a mixture of divine inspiration with human invention, and finally escapes under a cloud. In the second edition, published in 1780, some progress has been made. The author states the sacred theory, and declares: "There are some divines who pretend that Hebrew was the language in which God talked with Adam in paradise, and that the saints will make use of it in heaven in those praises which they will eternally offer to the Almighty. These doctors seem to be as certain in regard to what is past as to what is to come." This was evidently considered dangerous. It clearly outran the belief of the average British Philistine; and accordingly we find in the third edition, published seventeen years later, a new article, in which, while the author gives, as he says, "the best arguments on both sides," he takes pains to adhere to a fairly orthodox theory. This soothing dose was repeated in the fourth and fifth editions. In 1824 appeared a supplement to the fourth, fifth, and sixth editions, which dealt with the facts so far as they were known; but there was scarcely a reference to the biblical theory throughout the article. Three years later came another supplement. While this chaos was fast becoming cosmos in Germany, such a change had evidently not gone far in England, for from this edition of the _Encyclopaedia_ the subject of philology was omitted. In fact, Babel and Philology made nearly as much trouble to encyclopedists as Noah's Deluge and Geology. Just as in the latter case they had been obliged to stave off a presentation of scientific truth, by the words "For Deluge, see Flood" and "For Flood, see Noah," so in the former they were obliged to take various provisional measures, some of them comical. In 1842 came the seventh edition. In this the first part of the old article on Philology which had appeared in the third, fourth, and fifth editions was printed, but the supernatural part was mainly cut out. Yet we find a curious evidence of the continued reign of chaos in a foot-note inserted by the publishers, disavowing any departure from orthodox views. In 1859 appeared the eighth edition. This abandoned the old article completely, and in its place gave a history of philology free from admixture of scriptural doctrines. Finally, in the year 1885, appeared the ninth edition, in which Professors Whitney of Yale and Sievers of Tubingen give admirably and in fair compass what is known of philology, making short work of the sacred theory--in fact, throwing it overboard entirely. IV. TRIUMPH OF THE NEW SCIENCE. Such was that chaos of thought into which the discovery of Sanskrit suddenly threw its great light. Well does one of the foremost modern philologists say that this "was the electric spark which caused the floating elements to crystallize into regular forms." Among the first to bring the knowledge of Sanskrit to Europe were the Jesuit missionaries, whose services to the material basis of the science of comparative philology had already been so great; and the importance of the new discovery was soon seen among all scholars, whether orthodox or scientific. In 1784 the Asiatic Society at Calcutta was founded, and with it began Sanskrit philology. Scholars like Sir William Jones, Carey, Wilkins, Foster, Colebrooke, did noble work in the new field. A new spirit brooded over that chaos, and a great new orb of science was evolved. The little group of scholars who gave themselves up to these researches, though almost without exception reverent Christians, were recognised at once by theologians as mortal foes of the whole sacred theory of language. Not only was the dogma of the multiplication of languages at the Tower of Babel swept out of sight by the new discovery, but the still more vital dogma of the divine origin of language, never before endangered, was felt to be in peril, since the evidence became overwhelming that so many varieties had been produced by a process of natural growth. Heroic efforts were therefore made, in the supposed interest of Scripture, to discredit the new learning. Even such a man as Dugald Stewart declared that the discovery of Sanskrit was altogether fraudulent, and endeavoured to prove that the Brahmans had made it up from the vocabulary and grammar of Greek and Latin. Others exercised their ingenuity in picking the new discovery to pieces, and still others attributed it all to the machinations of Satan. On the other hand, the more thoughtful men in the Church endeavoured to save something from the wreck of the old system by a compromise. They attempted to prove that Hebrew is at least a cognate tongue with the original speech of mankind, if not the original speech itself; but here they were confronted by the authority they dreaded most--the great Christian scholar, Sir William Jones himself. His words were: "I can only declare my belief that the language of Noah is irretrievably lost. After diligent search I can not find a single word used in common by the Arabian, Indian, and Tartar families, before the intermixture of dialects occasioned by the Mohammedan conquests." So, too, in Germany came full acknowledgment of the new truth, and from a Roman Catholic, Frederick Schlegel. He accepted the discoveries in the old language and literature of India as final: he saw the significance of these discoveries as regards philology, and grouped the languages of India, Persia, Greece, Italy, and Germany under the name afterward so universally accepted--Indo-Germanic. It now began to be felt more and more, even among the most devoted churchmen, that the old theological dogmas regarding the origin of language, as held "always, everywhere, and by all," were wrong, and that Lucretius and sturdy old Gregory of Nyssa might be right. But this was not the only wreck. During ages the great men in the Church had been calling upon the world to admire the amazing exploit of Adam in naming the animals which Jehovah had brought before him, and to accept the history of language in the light of this exploit. The early fathers, the mediaeval doctors, the great divines of the Reformation period, Catholic and Protestant, had united in this universal chorus. Clement of Alexandria declared Adam's naming of the animals proof of a prophetic gift. St. John Chrysostom insisted that it was an evidence of consummate intelligence. Eusebius held that the phrase "That was the name thereof" implied that each name embodied the real character and description of the animal concerned. This view was echoed by a multitude of divines in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Typical among these was the great Dr. South, who, in his sermon on _The State of Man before the Fall_, declared that "Adam came into the world a philosopher, which sufficiently appears by his writing the nature of things upon their names." In the chorus of modern English divines there appeared one of eminence who declared against this theory: Dr. Shuckford, chaplain in ordinary to his Majesty George II, in the preface to his work on _The Creation and Fall of Man_, pronounced the whole theory "romantic and irrational." He goes on to say: "The original of our speaking was from God; not that God put into Adam's mouth the very sounds which he designed he should use as the names of things; but God made Adam with the powers of a man; he had the use of an understanding to form notions in his mind of the things about him, and he had the power to utter sounds which should be to himself the names of things according as he might think fit to call them." This echo of Gregory of Nyssa was for many years of little avail. Historians of philosophy still began with Adam, because only a philosopher could have named all created things. There was, indeed, one difficulty which had much troubled some theologians: this was, that fishes were not specially mentioned among the animals brought by Jehovah before Adam for naming. To meet this difficulty there was much argument, and some theologians laid stress on the difficulty of bringing fishes from the sea to the Garden of Eden to receive their names; but naturally other theologians replied that the almighty power which created the fishes could have easily brought them into the garden, one by one, even from the uttermost parts of the sea. This point, therefore, seems to have been left in abeyance.[[196]] It had continued, then, the universal belief in the Church that the names of all created things, except possibly fishes, were given by Adam and in Hebrew; but all this theory was whelmed in ruin when it was found that there were other and indeed earlier names for the same animals than those in the Hebrew language; and especially was this enforced on thinking men when the Egyptian discoveries began to reveal the pictures of animals with their names in hieroglyphics at a period earlier than that agreed on by all the sacred chronologists as the date of the Creation. Still another part of the sacred theory now received its death-blow. Closely allied with the question of the origin of language was that of the origin of letters. The earlier writers had held that letters were also a divine gift to Adam; but as we go on in the eighteenth century we find theological opinion inclining to the belief that this gift was reserved for Moses. This, as we have seen, was the view of St. John Chrysostom; and an eminent English divine early in the eighteenth century, John Johnson, Vicar of Kent, echoed it in the declaration concerning the alphabet, that "Moses first learned it from God by means of the lettering on the tables of the law." But here a difficulty arose--the biblical statement that God commanded Moses to "write in a book" his decree concerning Amalek before he went up into Sinai. With this the good vicar grapples manfully. He supposes that God had previously concealed the tables of stone in Mount Horeb, and that Moses, "when he kept Jethro's sheep thereabout, had free access to these tables, and perused them at discretion, though he was not permitted to carry them down with him." Our reconciler then asks for what other reason could God have kept Moses up in the mountain forty days at a time, except to teach him to write; and says, "It seems highly probable that the angel gave him the alphabet of the Hebrew, or in some other way unknown to us became his guide." But this theory of letters was soon to be doomed like the other parts of the sacred theory. Studies in Comparative Philology, based upon researches in India, began to be reenforced by facts regarding the inscriptions in Egypt, the cuneiform inscriptions of Assyria, the legends of Chaldea, and the folklore of China--where it was found in the sacred books that the animals were named by Fohi, and with such wisdom and insight that every name disclosed the nature of the corresponding animal. But, although the old theory was doomed, heroic efforts were still made to support it. In 1788 James Beattie, in all the glory of his Oxford doctorate and royal pension, made a vigorous onslaught, declaring the new system of philology to be "degrading to our nature," and that the theory of the natural development of language is simply due to the beauty of Lucretius' poetry. But his main weapon was ridicule, and in this he showed himself a master. He tells the world, "The following paraphrase has nothing of the elegance of Horace or Lucretius, but seems to have all the elegance that so ridiculous a doctrine deserves": "When men out of the earth of old A dumb and beastly vermin crawled; For acorns, first, and holes of shelter, They tooth and nail, and helter skelter, Fought fist to fist; then with a club Each learned his brother brute to drub; Till, more experienced grown, these cattle Forged fit accoutrements for battle. At last (Lucretius says and Creech) They set their wits to work on _speech_: And that their thoughts might all have marks To make them known, these learned clerks Left off the trade of cracking crowns, And manufactured verbs and nouns." But a far more powerful theologian entered the field in England to save the sacred theory of language--Dr. Adam Clarke. He was no less severe against Philology than against Geology. In 1804, as President of the Manchester Philological Society, he delivered an address in which he declared that, while men of all sects were eligible to membership, "he who rejects the establishment of what we believe to be a divine revelation, he who would disturb the peace of the quiet, and by doubtful disputations unhinge the minds of the simple and unreflecting, and endeavour to turn the unwary out of the way of peace and rational subordination, can have no seat among the members of this institution." The first sentence in this declaration gives food for reflection, for it is the same confusion of two ideas which has been at the root of so much interference of theology with science for the last two thousand years. Adam Clarke speaks of those "who reject the establishment of what, _we believe_, to be a divine revelation." Thus comes in that customary begging of the question--the substitution, as the real significance of Scripture, of "_what we believe_" for what _is_. The intended result, too, of this ecclesiastical sentence was simple enough. It was, that great men like Sir William Jones, Colebrooke, and their compeers, must not be heard in the Manchester Philological Society in discussion with Dr. Adam Clarke on questions regarding Sanskrit and other matters regarding which they knew all that was then known, and Dr. Clarke knew nothing. But even Clarke was forced to yield to the scientific current. Thirty years later, in his _Commentary on the Old Testament_, he pitched the claims of the sacred theory on a much lower key. He says: "Mankind was of one language, in all likelihood the Hebrew.... The proper names and other significations given in the Scripture seem incontestable evidence that the Hebrew language was the original language of the earth,--the language in which God spoke to man, and in which he gave the revelation of his will to Moses and the prophets." Here are signs that this great champion is growing weaker in the faith: in the citations made it will be observed he no longer says "_is_," but "_seems_"; and finally we have him saying, "What the first language was is almost useless to inquire, as it is impossible to arrive at any satisfactory information on this point." In France, during the first half of the nineteenth century, yet more heavy artillery was wheeled into place, in order to make a last desperate defence of the sacred theory. The leaders in this effort were the three great Ultramontanes, De Maistre, De Bonald, and Lamennais. Condillac's contention that "languages were gradually and insensibly acquired, and that every man had his share of the general result," they attacked with reasoning based upon premises drawn from the book of Genesis. De Maistre especially excelled in ridiculing the philosophic or scientific theory. Lamennais, who afterward became so vexatious a thorn in

---

E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank