Hyde, Dr. Thomas

, a very learned writer, was son of Mr. Ralph Hyde, minister of Billingsley near Bridgenorth in Shropshire, and born there June 2i), 1636. Having a strong inclination for the Oriental languages from his youth, he studied them first under his father; and afterwards, in 1652, being admitted of King’s college, Cambridge, he became acquainted with Mr. Abraham Wheelock, an admirable linguist, who encouraged him to prosecute his study of them in that place. By him, Hyde, when he had been at Cambridge little more than a year, was sent to London, and recommended to Walton, afterwards bishop of Chester, as a person very capable of assisting him in the Polyglott Bible, in which work he was then engaged. Hyde rendered him great services; for, besides his attendance in the correction of it, he transcribed the Pentateuch out of the Hebrew characters, in which it was first printed at Constantinople, into the proper Persian characters; which by archbishop Usher was then judged impossible to have been done by a native Persian, because one Hebrew letter frequently answered to several Persian letters, which were difficult to be known. He translated it likewise into Latin. What he did farther in the Polyglott, is specified by the editor in these words: “Nee praetereundus est D. Thomas Hyde, summae spei juvenis, cjui in linguis Orientalibus supra aetatem magnos progressuB fecit, quorum specimina dedit turn in Arabibus, Syriacis, Persicis, &c. corrigendis, turn in Pentateucho Persico | characteribus Persicis describendo, quia antea soils Hebraicis extitit, ejusque versionem Latinam concinnando.

In 1658 he went to Oxford, and was admitted of Queen’s college, where he was soon after made Hebrew rea ler. The year after, Richard Cromwell, then chancellor of that university, directed his letters to the delegates, signifying, that “Mr. Hyde was of full standing, since his admission, into the university of Cambridge, for the degree of master of arts, and that he had given public testimony of his more than ordinary abilities and learning in the Oriental languages;” on which they made an order that he should accumulate that degree by reading only a lecture in one of the Oriental languages in the schools; and having ac-. cordingly read upon the Persian tongue, he was created M. A. in April 1659. Soon after he was made underkeeper of the Bodleian library, upon the ejection of Mr,. Henry Stubbe; and behaved himself so well in this employment, that, when the office of head -keeper became vacant, he was elected into it with the unanimous approbation of the university. In 1665 he published a Latin translation from the Persian of Uiugh Beig’s “Observations concerning the Longitude and Latitude of the fixed Stars,” with notes. This Ulugh Beig was a great Tartajr monarch, the son of Shahrokn, and the grandson of Timur Beig, or, as he is usually called, Tamerlane. In the pre/ace he informs us, “that the great occupations of government hindered him from performing in person, so much as he would have done towards the completing this useful work: but that he relied chiefly on his minister Salaheddin, and t.iat he dying before the work was finished, his colleague Gaiatheddin Giamshed and his son Ali al Cousin were afterwards employed, who put the last hand to it.” It was written originally in the Arabic tongue, but afterwards translated twice into the Persian.

About this time Hyde became known to Mr. Boyle, to whom he was very useful in communicating from Oriental writers several particulars relating to chemistry, physic, and natural history. In Oct. 1666, he was collated to a prebend in the church of Salisbury. In 1674, he published “A Catalogue of the books in the Bodleian library.” In 1678, he was made archdeacon of Gloucester; and, in 1682, took the degree of doctor in divinity. Dec. 1691, he was elected Arabic professor, on the death of Dr. Edward Pocock; and the same year published the “Itinera | Mundi” of Abraham Peritsol, the son of Mordecai Peritsol, a very learned Jew. This was done to supply in some measure the Arabic geography of Abulfeda, which, at the request of Dr. Fell, he had undertaken to publish with a Latin translation: but the death of his patron putting an end to that work, he sent this smaller performance abroad, and dedicated it to the earl of Nottingham, then secretary of state, in hopes that it might excite a stronger curiosity amongst the learned to search into this branch of literature. Dr. Altham, regius-professor of Hebrew, and canon of Christ-church, being, on some dispute about the oaths, removed from both preferments, Hyde became possessed of both, as they are always annexed, in July 1697.

Three years after he had ready for the press, as Wood tells us, an excellent work, on a subject very little known even to the learned themselves, “The Religion of the Ancient Persians,” a work of profound and various erudition, abounding with many new lights on the most curious and interesting subjects, filled with authentic testimonies, which none but himself could bring to public view, and with many ingenious conjectures concerning the theology, history, -and learning of the Eastern nations. This work, which was printed at Oxford in 1700, in 4to, containing 550 pages, and is now become exceedingly scarce, and sells at a very high price, was entitled “Historia Religionis Vetejum Persarum, eorumque Magorum.” It was dedicated to lord Somers. Foreign writers, as well as those of our own country, have spoken of it with high admiration and applause; and, if Hyde had left us no other monument of his studies, this alone had been sufficient to establish and preserve his reputation, as long as any taste for Oriental learning shall remain.

In April 1701 he resigned the office of principal keeper of the Bodleian library, on account of his age and infirmities; and died Feb. 18, 1703, at his lodgings in Christchurch, in his 67th year. He had occupied the post of interpreter and secretary in the Oriental languages, during the reigns of Charles II. James II. and William III. and, it is said, had, in the course of this employment, made himself accurately acquainted with whatever regarded the policy, ceremonies, and customs of the Oriental nations. He was succeeded in his archdeaconry of Gloucester by Mr. Robert Parsons; and, what was singular enough, in the chair of Hebrew professor and in his eanonry of Christchurch by his predecessor Dr. Altham. | Besides the works already mentioned, he published “Qiiatuor Evangelia & Acta Apostolorum Lingua Malaica, characteribus Europaeis,Oxford, 1677, 4to. His “Epistola de mensuris & ponderibus Serum sive Sinensium,” &c, was printed at the end of Dr. Edward Bernard’s book, entitled “De mensuris & ponderibus antiquis Libri tres,Oxford, 1688, 8vo. In 1690 he published at Oxford in. 4to, “Annotatiunculae in Tractatum Alberti Bobovii Turcarum Imp. Mohammedis IV. olim interpretis primarii, da Turcarum Liturgia, peregrinatione Meccana, Circnmcisione, aegrotorum visitatione, &c. Subjuugitur Castigatio in Angelum a Sancto Josepho, Carmelitarum discalceatorum in Perside praefectum olim generalem.” In 1694 he published at Oxford in 8vo, “De Ludis Orientalibus Libri duo,” &c. The first book is divided into two parts the first of which parts contains “Mandragorias, seu Historia Shahiludii,” c. in Latin; and the second part “Hist. Shahiludii,” &c. in Hebrew and Latin. This “Historia Shahiludii” had been published by itself at Oxford, 1689, in 8vo. The second book contains “Historia Nerdiludii, hoc est dicere, Trunculorum,” &c. He wrote likewise “In Historiam Plantarum Oxoniensium Annotationes Noininum singularum Plantarum Lingua Arabica & Persic^ & TurcicV published by Jacob Bobart in his” Historia Plantarum," at Oxford, 1699, in 4to.

The vast extent of his learning and industry will yet appear more extraordinary by a list of the works which, according to Wood, he had planned, and partly prepared for the press. These are, 1. “Grammatica pro Lingua Persica,” 4to. 2. “Lexicon Persico-Latinum,” in a thick 4to. 3. “Lexicon Turcico-Latinum,” in a thick 4to. 4. “Nomenclator Mogolo-Tartaricum, cum Grammatic& ejusdem Linguae.” 5. “Dissertatio de Tartaria. Item Historia Chartiludii & Dissertatio de Numerorum Notis, earundemque origine & combinandi ratione, doctrina nova,” 8vo. 6. “Curiosa Cbinensia & Selanensia,” 8vo. 7. “Historia Gemmarum Arabice & Latin^, cum Notis,” 8vo. 8. “Historia Tamerlanis Arabice & Latine cum Notis,” 4to. 9. “Liber Bustan Persice & Latine cum Notis Liber elegantissimus, autore Scheia Shadi,” 4to. 10. “Divini Poetae Haphix Opus Persice & Latine, cum Notis,” 4to. 11. “Abulfeda3 Geographia Arabice & Latine, cuoj Notis,” 4to. 12. “Liber Bttharistan eloquentissimo stylo corrscriptus, meri ingenii specimina continens, Libruna | Gulistan cequans, si non superans, Persice & Latine, cum Notis,” 4to. 13.“Maimonidis Liber More Nevochim transcriptus ex characteribus Hebraicis quibus a Maimonide scriptum est, in proprios Arabicos, cum nova Versione &. Notis, Arabice & Latine,” in a thick 4to. 14. “Historia Regum Persica? ex ipsorutn monumentis & autoribus extracta,” 4to. 15. “Annotntiones in difficiliora loca Biblica ex Literatura Oriental!,” in a thick 4to. 16. “Periplus Marium Mediterranei & Archipelagi,Turcice & Latine, cum circulo ventorum in variis Linguis, Arabica, Persica, Chinensi,” &c. 8vo. 17. “Zoroastris Perso-Medi Opera omnia Mathematico-medico-physico-Theologica, Persice & Latine,” folio. 18. “Liber Erdaviraph-name, Persice & Latine,” 4to. 19. “Lexicon Hebraicum emendatum ex Mss. Lexicis Rabbi Pinchon, R. Jonae, & R. Jesaiae, atque ex collatione cum Linguis Arabica & Persica & aliis Linguis Orientalibus,” 4to. 20. “Coelum Orientale ArabicoPersicum, atq; Occidentale Graeco-Latinum, una cum Saphh Figurationibus Stellarum duplici situ, prout in Coelo, & prout in Globo apparent, cum earum nominibus secundu-rn harum gentium doctrinam,” 4to. 21. “Commentarius in Pentateuchum Arabice, auctor Manstir Syro-Arabe ex Scriptura Gershumi in Arabicam transcriptus & Latinitate donatus,” 4to. 22. “Urbium Armeniae Nomenclaturae ex eorum Geographia excerpta,” &c. 23. “Varia Chinensia, scil. eorum Idololatria, Opiniones de Deo & de Paradiso atque de Gehenna, & de Gradibus & modis supplicii de eorum ^Literatura & Libris & Charta, & de imprimendi modo atque antiquitate, c. omnia excerpta ex ore & scriptis nativi Chinensis Shin Fo-burg,” 8vo. 24> “Varia Seianensia, ubi insula? Selan (vulgo Batavis Ceylon) Historica quasdam & vocabularium genuinis eorum characteribus exaratum cum eorum Alphabeto & aliis rebus,” 8vo, 25. “Batamense Alphabetum a Legato scriptum cum Literarum potestate & numerorum notis,” 8vo. 26. “Notas Arithmetics variarum Gentium, ubi talium Notarum origo & combinandi ratio docetur,” 8vo. 27. “Dialog! Arabico-Persico-Turcici, Latine versi,” 8vo. 28. “Liber de '1 urcarum opinionibus in rebus religiosis, Turcice & Latine,” 8vo. 29. “Utilia, mensalia, scil. quid in Conversatione Convivali decorum est, Arabice & Latine,” 8vo. 30. “Rivolae Lexicon Arrneniacum cum Linguis Orientalibus (scil. Arabica, Persica, & Turcica) collatum & in margine notatum,” 4to. 31. “Evangeliuoa Lucas & AcU | Apostolorum Lingua & Charactere Malaico,” 4to. He also translated into English the letters of several Eastern kings and princes sent to king Charles II, king James II, and king William III.

Dr. Gregory Sharpe, master of the Temple, collected and re published some of Dr. Hyde’s pieces that were formerly published, under the title of “Syntagma Dissertationum et Opuscula,1767, 2 vols. 4to. This is accompanied by a life and very just praises of the author, as one of the greatest Orientalists that any country has produced. 1


Biog. Brit. Gen. Dict. —Ath, Ox. vol. II.