Bochart, Samuel

, a learned French Protestant, born at Roan in Normandy, 1599. His father was a Protestant clergyman, and his mother a sister of the celebrated Peter du Moulin. He made a very early progress in learning, particularly in the Greek language, of which we have a proof in the verses he composed at the age of fourteen, in praise of Thomas Dempster, under whom he studied at Paris, and who has prefixed them to his Roman Antiquities. He went through a course of philosophy at Sedan, and studied divinity at Saumur, under Cameronius, whom he followed to London, the academy at Sauinur being dispersed during the civil war. He went also to Oxford, and in Lent term, 1622, was entered as a student at the library, where he laid in a considerable part of that stock of Oriental learning which he afterwards displayed in his works. He afterwards went over to Leyden, and studied Arabic under Erpenius. When returned to France, he was chosen minister of Caen, where, in 1630, he distinguished himself by public disputations with father Veron, a very famous polemic, and champion for the Roman catholic religion, published under the title of “Acte de la conference entre S. B. et Jean Baillebache, &c. d’un part: et Francois Veron, predicateur de controverses,Saumur, 2 vols. 8vo. The dispute was held in the castle of Caen, in presence of a great number of Catholics and Protestants. Bochart came off with honour and reputation, which was not a little increased upon the publication of his Phaieg and Canaan, which are the titles of the two parts of his “Geographica Sacra,1646. While at Caen, he was tutor to Wentworth Dillon, earl of Roscommon, author of the “Essay on Translated verse.” He acquired also great fame by his tl Hierozoicon, printed at London, 1675. The great learning displayed in these works rendered him esteemed, not only amongst those of his own persuasion, but amongst all lovers of knowledge of whatever denomination, especially such as studied the scriptures in their original languages, which was then very common. Dr. Haiceweli, who was contemporary with Bochart, speaking of the knowledge of the oriental languages, observes, | that “this last century (the fifteenth) afforded more skilful men that way than the other fourteen since Christ” In 1652, the queen of Sweden invited him to Stockholm, where she gave him many proofs of her regard and esteem. At his return into France, in 1653, he continued his ordinary exercises, and was one of the members of the academy of Caen, which consisted of all the learned men of that place. He died suddenly, when he was speaking in this academy, May 6, 1667, which gave M. Brieux occasion to make the following epitaph on him:

"Scilicet hæc cuique est data sors æcruissima, talis

Ut sit mors, qualis vita peracta fuit.

Mmarum in gremio teneris qui vixit ab annis,

Musarum in greinio debuit iste mori."

Besides what we have mentioned, he wrote a treatise on the terrestrial paradise, on the plants and precious stones mentioned in scripture, and some other pieces, but he left these unfinished. He left also a great number of sermons. As many of his dissertations as could be collected were published in the edition of his works printed in Holland, 1712, 3 vols. folio. The “Hierozoicon, seu Historia animalium S. Scriptime/' was reprinted at Leipsic, by Rosenmuller, with notes and additions, 1793—6, 3 vols. 4to. Bochart, in oriental literature was one of the first men of his time but, like many who have studied the Hebrew with great zeal, he fell into a sort of theory, which made him in many cases more attentive to words than things. His Sacred Geography is a stupendous undertaking, but it was impossible he could bring it to perfection at a time when we knew comparatively very little of modern Asia, and had few good books of travels. He is also accused, and not unjustly, of indulging too freely in etymologies of proper names, taken from the Hebrew, and of changing geographical questions, which are entirely of an historical nature, into etymological ones. These, and some other defects in Bochart’s writings, have occasioned some persons to look on him with contempt, and distrust the whole of his learned work; whereas, he has treated many questions with profound sagacity, and even his errors are instructive. The only thing wanting to render his work extensively useful, and to throw all the light upon the foreign geography of the Hebrews which the nature of the subject can admit of was a proper supplement, which, should fill up his omissions, and correct his mistakes and | tliis was undertaken by the celebrated Michaelis, from whom we have abridged the above sentiments on the merits of Bochart, and who, in 1769, published the first part of what he modestly termed a gleaning after Bochart,” Spicilegium Geographiae Hebraeorum exterae post Bochartum," completed in eleven parts, Gottingeu, 1780, 4to. 1


Gen. Dict.—Perrault Homines Illustres.—Wood’s Ath. vol. I.—Month. Rev. Vol. XLI.—Blount’s Censura.—Saxii Onomasticon.