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us, because, as a matter of fact, the establishment of the existence of the Scriptures as the record of God's revealed will is not antecedent to their use to prove the witness, since the fact that they are the record of the revealed will of God in its purity and integrity is one of the facts to which the witness is to testify, - is nevertheless a valid distinction, and a complete refutation of the Observer's charge against us. For, while we take the Scriptures as historical documents, to prove the commission of the Apostolic ministry, we do not take the Apostolic ministry to prove that the Scriptures are authentic historical documents, but to prove what is or is not the word which Almighty God has spoken. The establishment of the fact of their existence as authentic historical documents is antecedent to their use to prove the commission of the Apostolic ministry, and independent of its testimony. The blunder of the Observer comes from confounding the fact of the existence of the Scriptures as authentic historical documents with the fact of their authority as a record of revelation.
The Observer, however, is not to be so easily balked of the “ pleasure” of refuting us.
» “We want no easier task than to establish false religions on the principle here laid down. There would be no difficulty to get the appointment of a body of pastors and teachers, and then to find witnesses to testify to the fact of the appointment. And then, if this body of teachers were allowed to say that such and such books contained the record of a revelation from God, we could not only. have as many false teachers as we wanted, but a correspondent number of spurious Bibles. If the lying witness swear to a false revelation, the untrue revelation would of course vouch for the appointment of the witness. It is easy enough, then, to bring historical testimony to the appointment of a witness; but the authority of the witness is it from heaven, or of men? If you say, of men, then why believe the testimony ? if from heaven, then it is a revealed fact, and on your principles cannot be known but by the testimony of the witness. Bishop Sherlock, in his day, fell in with just such reasoners as Mr. Brownson, and pushed them around the circle after this manner: • The Scriptures are very intelligent to honest and diligent readers, in all things necessary to salvation ; and if they be not, I desire to know how we shall find out the Church; for certainly the Church has no charter but what is in the Scriptures ; and then, if we must believe the Church besore we can believe or understand the Scriptures, we must believe the Church before we can possibly know whether there be a church or not! If we prove the Church by the Scriptures, we must believe and understand the Scriptures before we can know the Church.
be revived and believed anew ; when the classics began to supply not merely the form, but the substance, of the new literature. And, at the present moment, we may find proofs not a few of the fact, that, at best, only the form of Protestant life and thought is Christian. Read our Protestant poets, and, if you know any thing of the ancient classics, you will feel the Protestant but echoes the heathen. There is the same worship of external nature, the same gloom over life, the same vanity of human pursuits, the same weariness of existence, the same uncertainty as to man's destiny, the same darkness brooding over the tomb. The lips may laugh, the eyes may sparkle with rosy wine, and from beneath the ivy-crowned brow; but there is no joy of the heart, no gladness of the spirit, no buoyancy of the soul, no cheerful hope. Read Faust, Childe Harold, Cain, Heaven and Earth, and persuade yourself that you are not back in heathendom, if you can.
Now, this being the character of Protestantism, it is easy to understand why its literature must, notwithstanding the ability and genius which we are far from denying it, be generally objectionable to the devout Catholic. We do not object to the study of the classics, in their place ; for in them the heathenism, both as to matter and form, is expected, and the reader is on his guard. He is forewarned, and therefore forearmed. But when we come to a literature professing to be Christian, using to a considerable extent the Christian terminology, and which in some of its details really is Christian, the heathenism is offensive, because out of place, because it is unavowed, because there is an attempt to conceal it, and because the simple and but partially instructed, not expecting it, are poisoned by it before becoming aware of its presence. For these reasons, there is and must be the same hostility between Catholic and Protestant literatures as between the Catholic and Protestant religions. We cannot conceal this fact, if we would ; and we would not, if we could. We are familiar with the chefs-d'aurre of Protestant literature ; we are not insensible to Protestant genius and talent; we trust we can admire excellence, whereever we can discover it ; but we are certain never to find excellence in a Protestant not coupled with something which must offend us as a Catholic.
One Protestant sect may approve and read with pleasure the literary productions of another ; for all Protestant sects
; belong to the same family, and differ from one another only in a few
details, - in the shade of the hair, the hue of the eyes,
the shape of the nose or the mouth, the size of the bust, or of the hands and feet ; but between Catholics and Protestants, there is a generic difference, - no family relation or likeness;
, and, consequently, in Protestant literature the Catholic can at best admire only individual traits, only a few details, while he does and must condemn it as a whole. This is no loss to the Catholic, for he has no need of Protestant literature. It can give him nothing that is true or beautiful which he has not already, and what is neither true nor beautiful he does not want. He may, therefore, leave to Protestants their own literature, and content himself with the richer, broader, truer, and beautiful literature of his own. He may be accused of being narrow-minded, bigoted, exclusive ; but he has for his consolation the fact, that he knows, without resorting to his Protestant neighbours, all they have that is worth knowing, while he has in his own literature, belonging to ages which he is but too ready to forget, vast treasures of which the Protestant has no suspicion.
We have been led into this train of remark, in part, by the work before us,
the work of a man who enjoys a high reputation as one of the most distinguished chiefs of modern German literature, and which has been admirably translated by a most worthy young man, whom we are happy to reckon among our personal friends. We would like to entertain for Schiller that respect which his countrymen and a great many of our own entertain for him, and, above all, should we like to commend any literary labor of our young friend, the translator ; but we have no high admiration of Schiller ; we do not like the spirit of his works; we do not like their doctrines or their tendency. Mr. Weiss has labored conscientiously on the work before us, and performed his duty of translator more than well. We have seen no translations from the German better, if so well, executed. The Letters and Essays do not read as translations at all ; but have the clearness, distinctness, freshness, gracefulness, and ease of original compositions, — the highest praise to which a translator can aspire. Thus far we can commend the work, and wish the translator the success he has richly merited by his skill, his industry, and his pains ; but further than this we cannot go. We acknowledge the high literary merits of the volume, we acknowledge the good intention and the philosophical ability of the author ; but we regard the work as false in its leading doctrines, and unwholesome in its general tendency.
In his Introduction, the translator speaks of the comparison which people, and especially the Germans, are in the habit of instituting between Schiller and Goethe. We do not feel competent to decide which of the two must be called the greater man ; but, for our part, we should never think of raising the question. Goethe was unquestionably a heathen, and we know not that he ever pretended to be any thing else. His works are none of them free from the charge of immoral tendency, and some of them are abominable ; and yet he is the most readable of all the Germans of our acquaintance. He was an extraordinary man, of high and varied culture, and of correct taste in all that related to simple art. He was free from cant, cant religious, cant political, cant moral, and, above all, from the cant of the radical and reformer. The ephemeral philosophers of his countrymen could not deceive him ; the schemes and movements of the reformers, the pretended friends of the people, of universal freedom, clamoring and intriguing for an earthly paradise, and seeking to obtain it by means that would realize a hell on earth, could not enlist him ; and none of the various forms of defunct or galvanized Protestantism could ever win his respect. He wanted faith, and he knew it ; but he never sought to supply its place by any of the substitutes of the reformers, whether of the genus fanatic, or the genus infidel. We do not admire him, but we see and acknowledge what he was, and learn wisdom from his errors and blindness. But Schiller was an inbred radical. His soul spoke out in The Robbers, in the hero of which he impersonated his own inner man,
a work not less reprehensible, to say the least, than the Wahlverwandtschaften. Subsequently, he grew calmer ; "a change had come over the spirit of his dream”; but he remained ever the ingrained radical. He sought to chasten and legitimate his radicalism by his philosophy, we admit; but, in so doing, only labored to corrupt the principles as well as the passions of his countrymen.
As a poet, Schiller, to our taste and judgment, falls far below Goethe. He has, not unfrequently, earnestness, force, fine thoughts, and noble expressions ; but he wants always the ease, the grace, the delicacy, the good sense, the keen insight, the sedate majesty, and commanding port of his great rival. He aims at more, but accomplishes less. Many of his poems, especially his minor poems, are hard reading. They fetch no echo from the heart or understanding. What Goethe does is always exquisite in its way, always a masterpiece of its kind. Goethe does not disdain the classics, and reproduces them osten, but rarely except in what they have that is universal, as applicable to one age or one people as to another. Schiller is too often overpowered by classical antiquity, and actually worships in the old pagan fane. We turn away from some of his minor poems with sorrow and disgust, as we do from Crawford's Orpheus. What business have they here? Why galvanize the dead? There is life now as well as formerly ; and do seek your inspiration from the spirit that never dies, and do try to embody the living, not the defunct, beauty. What is Crawford's Orpheus to me? It is a wonderful creation of genius, you say. Doubted, or, rather, denied ; for your first impression, on seeing it, is, that it is about to tumble over. But admit all you claim for it, it but embodies a heathen thought, unconnected with Christian life, and having no relation with the humanity that now is, save on the side of a passion which were better left unsung and unsculptured, for it makes us full trouble enough when not artificially inflamed.
But we have no intention of entering upon a critical estimate of the merits of Schiller, and we could not do so if we would ; for, though we certainly have read his principal works, we have never studied them, and have never had any disposition to study them. He has never struck us favorably. This may be our fault, and perhaps it is ; but, if so, we cannot help it. We have not read the whole volume before us. We have, however, we think, mastered the Æsthetic Letters. They are intelligible enough to those who have some tolerable acquaintance with the Kantian philosophy ; not that they are constructed on pure Kantian principles, - for they are not, — but nevertheless assume Kantism as their point of departure. They are, as a whole, heavily and painfully written. We see the author laboring as the slave at the oar, putting forth all his strength, making his utmost efforts, to bring out and make intelligible his leading thoughts, which, after all, are rather commonplace so far as true, and when not commonplace are radically false. The Letters appear to have been written at the time of the French Revolution, when all Europe was in a ferment, with all manner of notions fermenting in its brain as in one great fermenting vat; and the aim of the author seems to have been to discover some way of bringing order out of the confusion in the midst of which he lived. His great merit — and it was a merit at that time — consists in his clearly perceiving that the world was not to be reformed by the principles of the French VOL. II. NO. III.