Hepburn, James Bonaventura

, an eminent linguist, was born at Hamstocks, in Haddingtonshire, Scotland, July 14, 1573. His father, a disciple of John Knox, was rector of that place. The son was educated at St. Andrew’s, where, for some reason, he embraced the popisfi religion, and went to France and Italy. He afterwards | travelled through Turkey, Persia, Syria, and most other countries of the East, devoting his attention principally to the study of their languages: on his return he entered into a convent of Minims in. the neighhourhood of Avignon, which he exchanged after some time for the monastery of the Holy Trinity at Rome, belonging to the same order. His fame as a linguist having reached the ears of pope Paul V. he appointed him librarian of Oriental books and Mss. in the Vatican, in which office he remained six years. He is said to have been at Venice in 1620, whither he had gone with an intention of translating from Hebrew, Syriac, and Chaldaic writings, and is supposed to have died there in that or the following year. Wonders are told of his proficiency in languages; we may allow that it was great for his time, but must hesitate in believing that he knew seventy-two languages. Of his works, Dempster mentions “A Hebrew and Chaldaic Dictionary, and an Arabic Grammar,” forming one volume, quarto, printed at Rome in 1591. The rest of his works, enumerated by Mackenzie, are translations from the Hebrew manuscripts, most of them of legendary authority, and not printed. 1


Mackenzie’s Scots Writers, vol. III. Life by Dr. Lattice in Europ. Mag. 1795.