Hebrew Loyalty under the First Four Georges

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By Dr. I. Abrahams.


In the title of this paper, Hebrew is used where possibly Jewish was expected. But one of the curiosities of the Hanoverian age was the prevalence of loyal poems written in Hebrew by Christians as well as Jews. Nor was the word English introduced in the title, for some remarkable Hebrew compositions in honour of the English throne emanated from foreigners.

We may, therefore, divide our survey into three parts: (1) Academic, (2) Continental, and (3) Liturgical.

I. Academic Tributes.

As regards the English Universities, the eighteenth century was not strong in Hebraists. Oxford, it is true, had Kennicott and Lowth, but Cambridge had lost without replacing the giants of the age of Light foot. In an oration delivered in Cambridge, somewhere about 1654, Isaac Barrow complimented his contemporaries on their Hebrew attain? ments, and declared that there were men, among the juniors, capable of carrying on a conversation in Eden with its primeval denizens.1 But, despite Bentley's claim, this can hardly be said of the century later than Barrow, and it is with that century that we have to do. At the end of the seventeenth century Henry Lloyd, while Regius Professor

1 Oratio ad Academicos in Comitiis {The Theological Works of Isaac Barrow, ed. A. Napier, 1859, vol. ix. p. 37): c% Quid Hebraeas literas commemorem, reli quarum parentes, quarum intelleetum adipisci, olim supra liumanam sortem, et non nisi daemonum ope attentandum videbatur ? Jam vero multos apud vos etiam tyrones invenire est, quasi idoneos qui in primsev? Paradiso versarentur; et qui, primum omnium parentem sua rebus universis indentem nomina fuissent intellect uri." of Hebrew in Cambridge, actually advertised for pupils in his house in Edinburgh. As C. Wordsworth writes, the Oriental Professors " lost the habit of lecturing, and satisfied their consciences, or the requirements of the age, by contributing their copy of verses to the collections of Luctus et Gratulationes and the like, on those public occasions which were found then indeed with tolerable regularity." 2

These Laments and Congratulations were issued from both Oxford and Cambridge whenever any episode occurred in the royal family calling for expressions of grief or joy. A full list of those who con? tributed Hebrew verses to such volumes under the Four Georges will be given below.3 It is not necessary to enter at any length into the character of these quaint products of Academic loyalty, for a good general account of them was given by the Rev. S. Singer in his paper on " Coronations." 4 Mr. Singer also printed specimens 5 enough to enable the student to gain an impression of the University man's quality as a Hebrew poet.

Though, in general, the Oxford and Cambridge verses are not of high merit, they are sometimes interesting enough. Gagnier's verses (1714) are distinctly good, so areLowth's (1751) and Kennicott's (1761). Again, Hunt (1761) gives us a" Carmen Hebraicum Pentametrum," just as (1734) the

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