Schultens, Henry Alp.Ert

, was born Feb. 15, 1749, at Herborn (where his father was at that time divinityprofessor), and was educated at the university at Leyden, where he applied himself with great diligence to the Arabic, under his father’s instructions, and those of Scheidius, who then lodged in his house. By his father’s advice, he commenced his study of the eastern languages by | learning the Arabic, to which he applied during two years, before he began the Hebrew. This, among other reasons, may account for the preference which he always gave to the Arabic literature, and which was so great that he was often heard to wish that the duties of his station would allow him to devote the whole of his time to it. He, however, studied the Greek and Latin classics with the utmost diligence under Hemsterhuis, Rhunkenius, and Valkenaar. He also cultivated an acquaintance with the best modem writers, among whom he in general gave the preference to the English; he was remarkably fond of Pope; and of Shakspeare he was an enthusiastic admirer.

In 1772, when only in his twenty-third year, he published a work entitled “Anthologia Sententiarum Arabicarum,” with a Latin translation and notes, of which sir William Jones testified his approbation. Soon after this Schultens went to England, in order to examine the Arabic Mss. in the Bodleian library, and resided for some time at Oxford, as a gentleman commoner of Wadham college. Here in less than three months during the short winter days, he transcribed Pocock’s “Meidanius” with his translation and notes, a work which took up no less than 646 folio pages. The late professor White, in a letter to the father of Schultens, says of him: “It is impossible for any one to be more generally respected in this place, or indeed to be more deserving of it. His abilities, his amiable disposition, and his polite behaviour, recommend him strongly to all those among us who know him only by reputation, and endear him to all who are personally acquainted with him.” The university testified its sense of his extraordinary merit, by conferring on him (in May 1773) the degree of M. A. by diploma. He also visited Cambridge, where he spent a fortnight; during which time he corrected several errors in the catalogue of Arabic manuscripts, and made several additions to it. In London he published a specimen of Pocock’s “Meidanius.” Dr. Morton offered to make him his assistant at the British Museum, and to secure to him the reversion of his own place but the ambition of Schultens was to be a professor of Eastern languages and as there was no probability of this appointment in England, he determined to return to Holland. Sir William Jones, whose friendship he assiduously cultivated, advised him to study the Persian, which he did with great diligence but he complained that this pursuit was often interrupted by | other avocations, and that he was not able to devote so much time to it as he wished.

Soon alter his arrival in the United Provinces, he was chosen professor of oriental languages in the academical school of Amsterdam, where he resided during five years, and enjoyed the esteem and friendship of a numerous acquaintance. Besides Latin Lectures to the students, he delivered some in Dutch, on the Jewish antiquities and oriental history, which were much frequented and greatly admired. On the death of his father, in 1773, he was called to Leyden as his successor. In Nov. 1792, he was attacked by a malignant catarrhal fever that terminated in a consumption, of which he died in August 1793. Some time before his death, his physician found him reading the latter part of St. John’s gospel, of which he expressed the warmest admiration, and added, “It is no small consolation to me, that, in the vigour of health, I never thought less highly of the character and religion of Christ, than I do now, in the debility of sickness. Of the truth and excellence of Christianity I have always been convinced, and have always, as far as human frailty would allow, endeavoured so to express this conviction that, in these my last hours, I might with confidence look forwards to a blessed immortality.” Schultens, in his private character, was in every respect an amiable and worthy man.

As a teacher, professor Schultens had the happy talent of rendering the driest subjects plain and interesting to his pupils. This was particularly the case with the principles of the Hebrew grammar, an intimate and accurate knowledge of which he recommended as indispensably necessary to all who wished to understand the Old Testament in the original language. In translating and explaining the Bible, he preserved a judicious medium between those who^ thought the Hebrew text too sacred to be the subject of criticism; and those who, like Houbigant, without a sufficient acquaintance with the genius of the language, ventured on needless alterations. Hence he was. much displeased with a work by professor Kocherus of Berne, entitled “Vindiciue sacri textus Hebraei Esaiae vatis, adversus 11. Lowthi criticam;” concerning which he said, in a letter to Dr. Findlay, of Glasgow, “It violates the bounds of moderation and decency by the assertion that the text of Isaiah could not gain any thing by Dr. Lowth’s conjectures. I am of a very different opinion. When at Oxford and | London, I was intimately acquainted with bishop Lowth, had an opportunity of knowing his excellent disposition, and am therefore much vexed that Kocherus, from his fiery zeal against innovation, should have been induced to treat him with seventy, as if the bishop had been a rash and petulant critic.” Schultens’s sentiments on this subject are more fully expressed in some articles which he wrote for the “Bihliotheca Critica,” published by Wyttenbach, particularly in the review of Kennicoi’s Bible. These judicious sentiments, together with his extensive abilities and knowledge of the subject, his eulogist observes, rendered him admirably qualified to have given a new version of the Old Testament. This at one time he designed, and nearly finished a translation of the book of Job, which was published after his death by Herman Muntinge, 1794, 8vo, but his sentiments of this portion of sacred writ are so much at variance with those of the most able and popular commentators, that we question if it will meet with general approbation.

Professor Schultens, though a very industrious student, published little besides the “Anthologia” already mentioned, and the following, “Pars versionis Arabics: libri Colaili Wa Dimriah, sive Fabularum Bilpai;” a supplement to D’Herbelot’s “Bibliotheque Orientale;” a Dutch translation of Eichorn on the literary merits of Michael is; and three Latin orations. He at one time resumed his intended edition of Meidanius, the care of which he left to professor Schroeder, who published a volume 4to, under the title “Meidani proverbiorum Arabicorurn pars. Latine vertit et notis illustravit H. A. Scultens. Opus posthumum,1795. It ought to consist of two more volumes, but we know not that they have appeared. 1

1 Kantelaar’s Eulogy, Amst. 1794, 8vo, in Month. Rev. vol. XV. N. S,