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of reward” from the American people is a matter of small moment. We have had some trials, in the course of a short and troublous life; but we have not, and never have had, any cause to complain of the treatment we have personally received at the hands of our countrymen. They have thus far treated us personally with great generosity, far better than we have deserved, and they have borne from us what they would have borne as well from few others. We have no fear but they will continue to treat us as well as, if not even better than, we deserve. We know our countrymen well. We have no respect for the religion professed by the majority of them; but there is good stuff in the American mind and heart, - only it has been a little spoiled in the making up. Our countrymen will use, even promote, the time-server, the trimmer, the man without principle, — for he is the man who will do their bidding ; but they despise him in their hearts. They will bluster a little at the man who contradicts them, tells them unpalatable truths, or treads on their corns ; but at the same time they honor him who speaks from honest conviction, from a sense of duty, plainly, boldly, independently, what he sincerely holds to be true and important. Very few of them, after all, are Stephen Harringtons. As much as we are obliged to scold our countrymen, we cannot help having a lurking respect for them; and we are sure that we never enjoyed their confidence and respect so much before we became a Catholic as we have since. Would to God they would pay half the respect to the Catholic faith which they do and will to its unworthy advocate.
ART. V. - LITERARY NOTICES AND CRITICISMS.
1. — History of the Life, Works, and Doctrines of John Calvin. From the
French of J. M. V. Audin. Baltimore : J. Murphy. Louisville: Webb & Brother. 1845. 8vo. pp. 502.
The high reputation M. Audin acquired by his learned, brilliant, and fascinating Life of Luther will not suffer, but be enhanced, by this volume on the life, works, and doctrines of Calvin Luther was an attractive subject; a real German, vacillating between the angel and the demon, the man and the beast, but with the human generally prodominating. At times we can hardly help admiring him, giving a tear to his tenderness, or a smile to his comical lies and coarse jokes ; and M. Audin, we think, in his sympathy with what was human in his character, has now and then carried his admiration a little too far, and has painted him in a light too favorable, and colors too attractive, for strict historical truth. We think he also treats Philip Melancthon quite too tenderly. We have less charity for Philip than for brother Martin. Luther, we doubt not, was really insane. It seems to us impossible to explain the contradictions in his character, his cunning, artfulness, falsehoods, bitter defiance of all that is sacred or moral, and his apparent frankness, bluntness, earnestness, and sincerity, on the hypothesis of his perfect sanity. His reason and imagination were evidently disordered, - whether enough so to relieve him of moral accountability, we undertake not to decide ; but at least enough so to soften in some degree the severity of our censures. We feel, as we read his life, more disposed to compassionate the man than to denounce the heretic and schismatic. But with Melancthon we feel differently. He may have been of a gentler make than Luther, less rough and violent in his passions ; but he labored all his lifetime to uproot a faith which he could never in his heart fully deny to be the true faith, and to overthrow a Church which he always secretly felt was the Church of God. We look upon him as a man weak enough to suffer himself to be overpowered by Luther, and base enough to act against his honest convictions. We have no excuse for him. If he at times regretted what he had done, and sighed for the Church against which he had dared raise his parricidal hand, we give him no credit for his sighs and regrets ; for they did not work repentance, did not lead him to forsake the evil of his ways.
But with this Life of Calvin we have no similar fault to find. Calvin was a less attractive subject ; though his influence in fixing the character of the Reformation, in giving it, as it were, a constitution, and preserving it, for a time, was greater and is historically more important than Luther’s. Calvin would never have attempted the Reformation ; but without him the schism effected by Luther would soon have dwindled away, and the disaffected would have made their peace with the Church. Of all the Reformers, Calvin was the only one who had a constructive and conservative genius ; and he is the real father of Protestantism in its organic form, as distinguished from mere revolt and license. He was not a theologian, was not a priest, was never in holy orders ; he was a lawyer, and a lawyer struggling to legalize revolt, and to give law to what was an insurrection against all law. In this struggle he showed very considerable ability, and a dogged resolution. But as a man, we cannot admire him, can feel no sympathy with him. When we meet Luther, with his cronies, at the “Black Eagle,” roaring out, as they strike their glasses,
“Wer nicht liebt Wein, Weiber und Gesang,
Der bleibt ein Narr sein Lebenlang,". we feel that he at least belongs to the human family; but when we meet John Calvin, we feel that it is no one of the race of mortals, but the fiend in human shape. Neither in authentic history nor in works of fiction have we met a more truly fiendish character, one in which there was so little with which a true, frank-hearted man could sympathize, or in any sense approve.
It is remarkable, too, how completely Calvin impressed his own personal character on his religion and his followers. When we read, in the pages of M. Audin, the history of his proceedings at Geneva, we seem, allowance made for the difference of circumstances, to be reading a chapter from the early history of our own New England ; - not, indeed, in the pages of Mr. Bancroft, but in the annals of the times, or in Miss Sedgwick's Hope Leslie, or in Cooper's Wept of the Wish-ton-Wish; for these two works of fiction are preferable, on some points, as authentic history, to the eloquent work of the historian, who sees all things in the warm sunlight of his own imagination, and writes his history on the principle, the people can do no wrong, and of praising all sects and denominations, – now the Calvinisis,
now the Quakers, and now the Catholics ; John Calvin, George Fox, and the Jesuits!
But we have no room to sketch the character of Calvin or of Calvinists. M. Audin has here given us an authentic work, a conscientious work, an eloquent work, a profound work, - in the preparation of which he has spared no expense of labor, research, or thought. Whoso would appreciate Calvin, Calvinists, or Calvinism, nay, the Reform itself, will find this book the one they want, and they may read it with full confidence that they are reading history, not fiction. They will find no charge against any one of the Reformers not sustained by public documents, by the Re. former's own writings, or those of his Protestant contemporaries. So far as we have been able to discover, nothing to the prejudice of one of the glories of the Reformation has been admitted on Catholic authority. The estimate given is really the estimate the Reformers had of themselves or of one another. M. Audin has done an invaluable service to the cause of truth in preparing it, and we owe a debt of gratitude to his translator for rendering it accessible to the American public.
In a critical mood, we should find some fault with the author on a few collateral points ; less, however, in this work than in his previous one on Luther. He awards higher praise to the Catholics of the sixteenth century for their enthusiasm in regard to ancient literature and art, than we are willing to yield them. We can excuse this enthusiasm, but we cannot regard it as a merit. Pure Latinity, elegant Latin verses, a lively and just appreciation of the elegances of composition, of the exquisite beauties of ancient art, and of the embellishments of life generally, are all very well ; but, after all, not matters of primary importance. And we confess that we have been accustomed to regard what M. Audin brings forward, as a great merit in the Catholic scholars of the sixteenth century,
as one of the causes of the extension and success of the Reformation. The • REVIVAL of heathen literature and art, and their cultivation by Catholics,
to the neglect, in some degree, of the Christian, we think, is one of the things a Catholic has to lament; and we confess we have never been able to join in the praise of the Medicean family for the patronage they extended to them. Give us the Fathers and the Schoolmen, instead of the heathen. As a Christian, we prefer the Latin of St. Austin or of St. Thomas to that of Cicero, and the Greek of St. John Chrysostom to that of Plato or Demosthenes. We are barbarian enough to make the avowal, and are willing to bear all the ridicule it may incur from scholars. The Church was not instituted to make scholars, elegant writers, accomplished rhetoricians, but Christians eminent for their sanctity and solid piety. M. Audin dwells more on the artistic phase of Catholicity than suits
We know Protestantism has no art, no music, no painting, no sculpture, no architecture, and we denounce as severely as any one the Vandal spirit of the Reformers, who defaced, wherever they could, almost every monument of Catholic art, as well as of Catholic piety, zeal, and charity; but this, after all, is a small matter. The Church does not need artistic embellishments, and can dispense with them. It was not instituted to foster either literature or art. It indirectly encourages them, but only for the sake of God,- only as they may contribute to the worship of God or the growth of piety. When we defend the Church on the ground of the protection it has yielded to these, we concede too much to Protestant modes of thought, and defend her, in part, as we would a human institution, and thus contribute towards making up a false issue. We have but one reason for embracing the Church, but one ground on
which to rest her defence ; that is, she is God's Church, instituted by Almighty God to be his organ for teaching and governing mankind, and it is only by coming within her pale and obeying her we can do our duty to God and our fellow-men, or save our own souls. The Church is this, or she is nothing. If she is this, here is reason enough for embracing her; and other reasons, however true they may be, do not strengthen this, but really weaken by obscuring it. Show us that Puritanism is of God, and we leave willingly the glorious old cathedral, as much as we love it, for the meetinghouse. A man cannot be a true Catholic, unless he is one simply in obedience to the positive command of Almighty God. We must believe, because Almighty God reveals and commands.
In a literary point of view, M. Audin's works have very high merit. The author is a man of learning, research, eminent ability, taste, and genius. But his works are written too much in the modern French style to satisfy our individual taste. We detest the modern French historical style. It is lively, brilliant, dramatic; but it wants solidity, dignity, truth. It affords a fine opportunity for the writer to display his parts, to employ his fancy, his imagination, his various reading ; but it affords, also, every facility for the suppression or perversion of truth, to give false views through its dramatic representations, and leave on the reader a wholly false impression. Read Michelet, Capefigue, Barante, and even Thierry, and you will not doubt the truth of what we say. We know that M. Audin makes this style only the vehicle of truth ; we know, also, that the writer, who would be extensively read and immediately useful, must in some degree conform to the reigning taste and fashion of his age and country; but this conformity should extend to as few points as possible. It is better to sacrifice immediate popularity and usefulness than to encourage a vicious mode. He who keeps to what is universal and permanent, which changes with no change of country, time, taste, or fashion, will be truest to the Church, and, in the long run, effect the most good, nay, will secure the most solid and durable fame, though this last is a small matter.
The work before us is exceedingly well translated. The translation is free, easy, tasteful, and appears to be faithful. A few Gallicisms may be detected, and now and then a word is adopted which is hardly English. But, upon the whole, the translation is highly creditable to Mr. McGill, and proves him an accomplished scholar. He would, however, have much enhanced the value of his volume, had he added, here and there, a few short notes explanatory of matters with which a large portion of his readers cannot be presumed to be familiar. We ourselves frequently felt, while reading it, the need of them.
One or two slight verbal criticisms we must offer. The translator uniformly uses Catholicism instead of Catholicity. Catholicism is not prop: erly an English word, and we confess we like it as little as we should Christianism. It sounds too much like Calvinism, Lutheranism, &c., and places our holy religion in the category of the isms, where it does not belong. Catholicity is the proper English word. It is a word of the same class with Christianity, and of a class from which none of the sects can
Catholicism seems to us a word which smacks a little of heresy, and we hope our writers, who seem to have unconsciously adopted it from the French, will studiously avoid it. The English language has so long been controlled and so modified by heretics and schismatics, that it is not without great labor and pains it can be made to discourse sound doctrine ; and we cannot afford to forego the little of Catholicity it has
select a name.
been suffered to retain. Before we became a Catholic, we ourselves used almost always the term Catholicism; but since, we find it grating on our ears. Mr. McGill is not peculiar in using this term. It is quite common, if not universal, in all the late English and American Catholic works we have seen ; but we do not recollect to have met with it in a single one of the older English writers of the Church.
Another verbal criticism we must also make. In a few instances in Mr. McGill's translation, in many more instances in the translation of the Life of Luther, we find the infinitive following the verbought used without ihe sign to, which is never allowable in English. This is so common in the translation of the invaluable work of Rodriguez on the Practice of Christian and Religious Perfection, made at Philadelphia a few years since, as to be really annoying. In regard to this last named work, we must also complain that the translator uses the plural pronouns and pronominal adjectives in the addresses to the Deity. This is necessary in French, but is not admissible in English, nor in any other language but the French we happen to be acquainted with ; and to us, who speak no language but our mother tongue, it is offensive, wants reverence and solemnity. These are, indeed, small matters, and we rarely indulge in mere verbal criticisms; for we make no pretensions to any extraordinary verbal accuracy ourselves; and, moreover, we do not regard verbal inaccuracies as mortal sins. As a general thing, our Catholic writers use the English language more correctly and philosophically than Protestant writers do, – as was admitted to us the other day by an eminent and learned Protestant scholar and minister. Nevertheless, now and then an inaccuracy escapes them, which only needs to be noticed to be avoided. As Catholics, we must study to restore the language as well as the faith of the English people.
2. — Miscellaneous Writings of George W. Burnap. Baltimore : J. Mure
phy. 1815. 12mo. pp. 343.
We have not read this book; we have merely glanced through it. We are tolerably well acquainted with the previous publications of the anthor, who is a very respectable Unitarian minister in Baltimore. He is a liberalminded gentleman, of some learning and considerable ability. But every thing he writes is spoiled by his Unitarian theology and philosophy, of which we have read and written enough in the course of our life, without occupying ourselves any further with it. Of the Unitarians, personally, we would always speak in respectful terms ; for we found them, during our connection with them, a mild, amiable, and liberal portion of the community, - good friends and neighbours in the ordinary relations of private and social life. As theologians, of course, we cannot respect them. Yet give us, by all means, the Unitarians before the Calvinists; for it is not so bad to make God a man as it is to make him a demon. The book before us is got up in a very respectable manner, and very well printed for Baltimore, and would be well printed for Boston, if the printer had used better ink and employed a better pressman. We saw this work rather favorably noticed in the last Catholic Magazine. Was this owing to neighbourly' feeling, and to the fact that it has a Catholic publisher? If a Catholic can reconcile it to his conscience, in the way of trade, to publish and sell a book which attacks and insults his faith, we cannot