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REVIEWS AND LITERARY NOTICES.
Ecce Homo : a Survey of the Life and Work The objection to the mythic view of of Jesus Christ. Boston: Roberts Broth. Christ's significance, which is that main
tained by Strauss, is, that it violates men's
faith in the integrity of history as a veraTue merits of this book are popular cious outcome of the providential love and and obvious, consisting in a strain of liberal, wisdom which are extant and operative in enlightened sentiment, an ingenious and human affairs. And the objection to what original cast of thought, and a painstaking has been called the Troubadour view of the lucidity of style which leaves the writer's
same subject, which is that represented by meaning even prosaically plain. There is
M. Renan, is, that it outrages men's faith in a good deal of absurd and even puerile human character, regarded, if not as habitexegesis in its pages, which makes you ually, still as occasionally capable of heroic wonder how so much sentimentality can co- or consistent veracity. We may safely exist with so much ability ; but the book is argue, then, that neither Strauss nor Renan vitiated for all purposes beyond mere liter- will possess any long vitality to human ary entertainment by one grand defect, which thought. They are both fascinating readis the guarded theologic obscurity the writering ; – the one for his profound sincerity, or keeps up, or the attempt he makes to es- his conviction of a worth in Christianity so timate Christianity apart from all question broadly human and impersonal as to exof the truth or falsity of Christ's personal empt it from the obligations of a literal hispretensions towards God. The author may toric doctrine ; the other for his profound have reached in his own mind the most insincerity, so to speak, or an egotism so definite theologic convictions, but he sedu- subtile, so capacious and frank, as permits lously withholds them from his reader; and him to take up the grandest character in the consequence is, that the book awakens history into the hollow of his hand, and and satisfies no intellectual interest in the turn him about there for critical inspection latter, but remains at best a curious literary and definite adjustment to the race, with speculation. For what men have always absolutely no more reverence nor reticence been moved by in Christianity is not so than a buyer of grain shows to a handful much the superiority of its moral inculca- of wheat, as he pours it dexterously from tions to those of other faiths, as its uncom- hand to hand, and blows the chaff in the promising pretension to be a final or abso. seller's face.* But both writers alike are lute religion. If Christ be only the emi- left behind us in the library, and are not nently good and wise and philanthropic subsequently brought to mind by anything man the author describes him to be, delib- we encounter in the fields or the streets. erating, legislating, for the improvement of The author of Ecce Homo does no disman's morals, he may be very admirable, but honor to the Christian history as history, nothing can be inferred from that circum- however foolishly he expatiates at times stance to the deeper inquiry. If he claim upon its incidents and implications ; much no essentially different significance to our less to the simple and perfect integrity of regard, on God's part, than that claimed Christ as a man, but no more than Strauss by Zoroaster, Confucius, Mahomet, Hilde- or Renan does he meet the supreme want brand, Luther, Wesley, he is to be sure still of the popular understanding, which is to entitled to all the respect inherent in such know wherein Christianity has the right it an office; but then there is no a priori claims to be regarded as a final or complete reason why his teaching and influence should revelation of the Divine name upon the not be superseded in process of time by that earth. We think, moreover, that the reaof any at present unmentionable Anne Lee, son of the omission is the same in every Joanna Southcote, or Joe Smith. And what case, being the sheer and contented in. the human mind craves, above all things else, difference which each of the writers feels is repose towards God, - is not to remain a helpless sport to every fanatic sot that comes * Of course we have no disposition to deny M. to the question of a revelation in the ab
Renan's right to reduce Christ and every other his. up from the abyss of human vanity, and
toric figure to the standard of the most modern claims to hold it captive by the assumption critical art. We merely mean to say that this is all of a new Divine mission.
M. Renan does, and that the all is not much.
some people, who deliver upon the books stract or general, regarded as a sine qua they read very unhesitating judgments, that non of any sympathetic or rational inter- they may be wanting, either by congenital course which may be considered as possible defect, or defect of experience, or defect of between God and man. We should not be reproductive memory, in the qualifications so presumptuous as to invite our readers' which are necessary for judging fairly of any attention to the discussion of so grave a particular book.” To poetry this remark philosophic topic as the one here referred applies with especial force. to, in the limited space at our command; By poetry we do not understand mere but surely it may be said, without any dan- verse, but any form of literary composition ger of misunderstanding from the most which reproduces in the mind certain emocursory reader, that if creation were the tions which, in the absence of an epithet absolute or unconditioned verity which less vague, we shall call poetical. These thoughtless people deem it, there could emotions may be a compound of the senbe no ratio between Creator and creature, suous and the purely intellectual, or they hence no intercourse or intimacy, inasmuch may partake much more of the one than of as the one is being itself, and the other does the other. (The rigorous metaphysician not even exist or seem to be but by him. will please not begin to carp at our definiIn order that creation should be a rational tion.) These emotions may be excited by product of Divine power, in order that the an odor, the state of the atmosphere, a creature should be a being of reason, en- strain of music, a form of words, or by a sindowed with the responsibility of his own ac- gle word ; and, as they result largely from tions, it is imperative that the Creator dis- association, it is obvious that what may be own his essential infinitude and diminish poetry to some minds may not be poetry to himself to the creature's dimensions; that others, - may not be poetry to the same he hide or obscure his own perfection in mind at different periods of life or in differthe creature's imperfection, to the extent ent moods. The most sympathetic, most even of rendering it fairly problematic catholic, most receptive mind will always be whether or not an infinite being really the best qualified to detect and appreciate exist, so putting man, as it were, upon the poetry under all its various forms, and spontaneous search and demand for such a would as soon think of denying the devobeing, and in that measure developing his tional faculty to a man of differing creed, rational possibilities. And if this be so, - as of denying the poetical to one whose if creation philosophically involve a de- theory or habit of expression may chance scending movement on the Creator's part to differ from its own. Goethe was so apt proportionate to the ascending one contem- to discover something good in poems which plated on the creature's part, — then it fol. others dismissed as wholly worthless, that it lows that creation is not a simple, but a was said of him, “his commendation is a complex process, involving equally a Divine brevet of mediocrity.” Perhaps it was his action and a human reaction, or the due “many-sidedness” that made him so accuadjustment of means and ends; and that no rate a " detective ” in criticism. writer, consequently, can long satisfy the According to Wordsworth,“ poetry is the intellect in the sphere of religious thought, spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings; it who either jauntily or ignorantly overlooks takes its origin from emotion recollected in this philosophic necessity. This, however, tranquillity.” A good definition so far as it is what Messrs. Strauss and Renan and goes. But Wordsworth could see only one the author of Ecce Homo agree to do; and side of the shield. He was notoriously so this is what makes their several books, deficient in the faculty of humor, that even whatever subjective differences characterize Sydney Smith was unintelligible to him. them to a literary regard, alike objectively Few specimens of what can be called wit unprofitable as instruments of intellectual can be found in his writings. He could not progress.
see that there is a poetry of wit as well as
of sentiment, — of the intellect as well as of The Masquerade and Other Poemis. By the emotions. No wonder he could not en
John GODFREY SAXE. Boston : Tick joy Pope, and had little relish for Horace. nor and Fields.
And yet how grand is Wordsworth in his
own peculiar sphere ! It was remarked lately by an ingenious Those narrow views of the province of writer, that "it never seems to occur to poetry, which roused the indignation of By.
ron, and which would exclude such writ. der a natural ban, - for he's a superfluous ers as Goldsmith, Pope, Campbell, Scott, There's no use fighting 'gainst naPraed, Moore, and Saxe from the rank of ture's inflexible plan. There's never a poets, are not unfrequently reproduced in woman for him, - for he 's a superfluous our own day. We do not perceive that they The whole conception and execution spring from a liberal or philosophical con- of the poem afford a fine example of the sideration of the subject. Poetry, hoinois, manner in which a genuine artist may inor “making," creation, or re-creation, does form a subtile and an extravagant whim with not address itself to any single group of life, humor, and consistency. those faculties of our complex nature, the “ The Mourner à la Mode” contains some gratification of which brings a sense of the good instances of the neatness and felicity agreeable, the exhilarating, or the elevating. with which the author floods a whole stanza As well might we deny to didactic verse with humor by a single epithet. the name of poetry, as to those vers de soci't? in which a profound truth may be
“What tears of vicarious woe,
That else might have sullied her face, found in a comic mask, or the foibles which
Were kindly permitted to flow scolding could not reach may be reflected
In ripples of ebony lace ! in the mirror held up in gayety of heart. As While even her fan, in its play, well might we deny that a waltz is music,
Had quite a lugubrious scope,
And seemed to be waving away and claim the name of music only for a
The ghost of the angel of Hope !" funeral march or a nocturne, as deny that Shakespeare's description of Queen Mab The sentiments of a young lover on findis as much poetry as the stately words in ing that the object of his adoration had an which Prospero compares the vanishing of excellent appetite, and was always punctual his insubstantial pageant to that of
at lunch and dinner, are expressed with a
Sheridan-like sparkle in the concluding “The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,
stanza of "The Beauty of Ballston.” The solemn temples, the great globe itself.”
“Ah me I of so much loveliness The new volume of poems by Mr. Saxe
It had been sweet to be the winner; is, in many respects, an improvement on all
I know she loved me only less that he has given us hitherto. There is
The merest fraction — than her dinner; more versatility in the style, a freer and T was hard to lose so fair a prize, firmer touch in the handling. Like our
But then (I thought) 't were vastly harder
To have before my jealous eyes best humorists, he shows that the founts of
A constant rival in
larder!" tears and of laughter lie close together ; for his power of pathos is almost as marked as
There is one practical consideration in that of fun. As good specimens of what he regard to the poetry of Saxe, which may has accomplished in the minor key, we may excite the distrust of those critics who, with instance“ The Expected Ship,” « The Story Horace, hate the profane multitude. Forof Life,” and “ Pan Immortal.” But it is in tunately or unfortunately for his reputation, his faculty of turning upon us the whimsical Saxe's poems are popular, and not to put and humorous side of a fact or a character too fine a point of it - sell. His books that Saxe especially excels. The lines en- have a regular market value, and this value titled “The Superfluous Man" are an illus. increases rather than diminishes with years. tration of what we mean. In some learned This is, we confess, rather a suspicious cir. treatise the author stumbles on the following cumstance. Did Milton sell ? Did Wordssomewhat startling reflection : " It is ascer- worth sell ? Must not the fame that is intained by inspection of the registers of stantaneous prove hollow and ephemeral ? many countries, that the uniform proportion Are we not acquainted with a certain volume of male to female births is as 21 to 20 : ac- of poems that shall be nameless, the whole cordingly, in respect to marriage, every edition of which lies untouched and un21st man is naturally superfluous.” Here claimed on the publisher's shelves ? And is hint enough to set Saxe's bright vein of are we not perfectly well aware that those humor flowing. The Superfluous Man be- poems - well, we can wait. If Mr. Saxe comes a concrete embodiment, and sings his would only put forth a volume that should discovery of the cause of his forlorn single prove, in a mercantile sense, a failure, we lot and his hopeless predicament. It flashes think he would be surprised to find how upon him that he is that 21st man alluded happily he would hit certain critics who can to by the profound statistician. He is un- now see little in his writings to justify their
Let him once join the fraternity believing the bulletin of Jair in which the of unappreciated geniuses, and he will find Israelite general declares he took in the compensation, – though not, perhaps, in province of Argob sixty great cities “fenced the form of what some vulgar fellow has with high walls, gates, and bars, besides called “solid pudding."
unwalled towns a great many.” Nor is the fulfilment of prophecy in regard to this
kingdom, populous and prosperous beyond The Giant Cities of Bashan; and Syria's any other known to history, less literal or
Holy Places. By the Rev. J. L. PORTER, less startling.
and drink their water with astonishment,
that her land may be desolate from all that TRAVELLERS who have merely visited the is therein, because of the violence of all that classic scenes of Greece and Italy, or at the dwell therein. And the cities that are inbest have browsed about ” the ruinous habited shall be laid waste, and the land sites of Tyre and Carthage, must have a shall be desolate." mortifying sense of the newness of such re- Everywhere Mr. Porter witnessed the cent settlements, in reading of Mr. Porter's end predicted by Ezekiel : a nation might journey through Bashan, and sojourn in dwell in these enchanted cities, but they Bozrah, Salcah, Edrei, and the other cities are all empty and silent as the desert. of the Rephaim. As Chicago is to Athens, Their architecture, however, is eloquent in so is Athens to these mighty and wonderful witness of the successive changes through cities of doom and eld, which are marvel- which they have passed in reaching the lous, not alone for their antiquity, (so re- state of final desolation foretold of the mote that one looks into it dizzily and prophet. The dwellings, so ponderous and doubtfully, as a depth into which it is not so simple, are the work of the original wholly safe to peer,) but also for the perfec- Rephaim, or giants, from whom the Israel. tion in which they stand and have stood ites conquered the land, and the masonry amid the desolation of unnumbered ages. is of these first conquerors. The Greeks A Cockney clergyman travelling through have left the proof of their presence in the Eastern Syria, with his Ezekiel in his hand, temples and inscriptions, and the Romans arrives at nightfall before the gates of a in the structure of the roads; while the town which was a flourishing metropolis in Saracens have added mosques, and the the days of Moses, and takes up his lodg- Turks solitude and danger, — for the whole ing in a house built by some newly-married land is infested with robbers. But while giant, say five or six thousand years ago. Jewish masonry has crumbled to dust, It is in perfect repair," the walls are sound, while Roman roads are weed-grown, and the roofs unbroken, the doors and even the temples of the gods and the mosques window-shutters ” — being of solid basalt of Mahomet mingle their ruins, the dwell. monoliths, incapable of decay or destruc- ings of the Rephaim stand intact and ever. tion — “are in their places.” In the town lasting, as if the earth had loved her mighty whose dumb streets no foot but the Be- first-born too well to suffer the memory of douin's has trodden for centuries and cen. their greatness to perish from her face. turies, there are hundreds of such houses must be acknowledged that Mr. Por. as this ; and in a province not larger than ter has not done the best that could be Rhode Island there are a hundred such done for the country through which he towns. According to Mr. Porter, the lan- travels. With a style extremely graphic guage of Scripture, which the strongest at times, he seems wanting in those arts of powers of deglutition have sometimes re- composition by which he could convey to jected as that of Eastern hyperbole, is lit- his readers an impression of things at once erally verified at every step in the land of vivid and comprehensive. He visits the Bashan. The facts, he says, would not cities of Bashan, one after another, and stand the arithmetic of Bishop Colenso for tells us repeatedly that they are desolate, an instant; yet from the summit of the and in perfect repair, and quotes the castle of Salcah (capital of his late gigan. proper text of Scripture in which their tic Majesty, King Og) he counted thirty desolation is foretold, and their number utterly deserted and perfectly habitable and strength not exaggerated. Yet he towns; so that he finds no difficulty in fails, with all this, to describe any one place to here and there a line of introduction or
completely, and is of opinion that he should Mr. Porter does not tell us whether all the weary his reader in recounting, at Bozrah, dwellings of the Rephaim are constructed for example, " the wonders of art and archi- after one plan, as, for instance, the houses tecture, and the curiosities of votive tablet, of Pompeii were, or whether there was and dedicatory inscription on altar, tomb, variety in the architecture, and on many church, and temple”; whereas we must other points of inquiry he is equally unsatconfess that nothing would have pleased us isfactory. His strength is in his one great better than to hear about all these things, fact, - that these cities are older than any with ever so much minuteness, and that we known to profane history, and that they yet should have been willing to take two pas- exist undecayed and undecaying. The charm sages of prophecy instead of twenty, if we of such a fact is so great, that we recur might have had the omitted description in again and again to his pages, with a forthe place of them. But Mr. Porter being ever unappeased famine for more knowlmade as he is, we are glad to get out of him edge, which we hope some garrulous and what we can, and have to thank him for a gossipful traveller will soon arise to satfull account of at least one of the houses of isfy. the Rephaim, in which he passed a night. Of him - the beneficent future tourist
“The walls were perfect, nearly five feet we shall willingly accept any number of thick, built of large blocks of hewn stones, fables, if only he will add something more without lime or cement of any kind. The filling than Mr. Porter has given us. It roof was formed of large slabs of the same is true that this tourist will not have a black basalt, lying as regularly, and jointed mere pleasure excursion, but will undergo as closely as if the workmen had only just much to merit the gratitude of his readers. completed them. They measured twelve The land of Bashan is nomadically inhabfeet in length, eighteen inches in breadth, ited by a race of men much fiercer than and six inches in thickness. The ends its ancient bulls; and Bedouins beset the rested on a plain stone cornice, projecting movements of the traveller, to pillage and about a foot from each side wall. The slay wherever they are strong enough to chamber was twenty feet long, twelve wide, overcome his escort of Druses. Mr. Porand ten high. The outer door was a slab ter tells much of the perils he incurred, and of stone, four and a half feet high, four even of actual attacks made upon him by wide, and eight inches thick. It hung up- fanatical Mussulmans while he sketched on pivots formed of projecting parts of the the wonders of the world's youth among slab, working in sockets in the lintel and which they dwelt. For the present his threshold; and though so massive, I was book has a value unique and very great : able to open and shut it with ease.
the scenes through which he passes have end of the room was a small window with been heretofore unvisited by travel, and the a stone shutter. An inner door, also of interest attaching them is intense and stone, but of finer workmanship, and not universal. The literal verification of many quite so heavy as the other, admitted to a passages of Scripture supposed more or chamber of the same size and appearance. less allegorical, must have its weight with From it a much larger door communicated all liberal thinkers; and, as a contribution with a third chamber, to which there was a to the means of religious inquiry, this work descent by a flight of stone steps. This will be earnestly received. was a spacious hall, equal in width to the two rooms, and about twenty-five feet long by twenty high. A semicircular arch was Life of Benjamin Silliman, M.D., LL.D., thrown across it, supporting the stone roof; late Professor of Chemistry, Mineralogy, and a gate, so large that camels could pass and Geology in Yale College. Chiefly from in and out, opened on the street. The his Manuscript Reminiscences, Diaries, gate was of stone, and in its place; but and Correspondence. By GEORGE P. some rubbish had accumulated on the FISHER, Professor in Yale College. In threshold, and it appeared to have been
Two Volumes. New York : Charles open for ages. Here our horses were com- Scribner & Co. fortably installed. Such were the internal arrangements of this strange old mansion. PROFESSOR Fisher, in allowing the subIt had only one story; and its simple, mas- ject of this biography to tell the story of sive style of architecture gave evidence of a his life, restricts himself very self-denyingly very remote antiquity.”