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sentially different. Exchange mutually their dates and spheres of action, yet Voltaire, had he been ten-fold a Voltaire, could not have made up an Erasmus; and Erasmus must have emptied himself of half his greatness and all his goodness, to have become a Voltaire.
Shall I succeed better or worse with the next pair, in this our new dance of death, or rather of the shadows which I have brought forth--two by two—from the historic ark? In our first couple I have at least secured an honorable retreat, and though I failed as to the agents, I have maintained a fair analogy in the actions and the objects. But the heroic Luther, a giant awaking in his strength, and the crazy Rousseau, the dreamer of love-sick tales, and the spinner of speculative cobwebs; shy of light as the mole, but as quick-eared too for every whisper of the public opinion ; the teacher of stoic pride in his principles, yet the victim of morbid vanity in his feelings and conduct! From what point of likeness can we commence the comparison between a Luther. and a Rousseau ? And truly had I been seeking for characters that, taken as they really existed, closely resemble each other, and this, too, to our first apprehensions, and according to the common rules of biographical comparison, I could scarcely have made a more unlucky choice : unless I had desired that my parallel of the German son of thunder and the visionary of Geneva, should sit on the same bench with honest Fluellen's of Alexander the Great and Harry of Monmouth. Still, however, the same analogy would hold as in my former instance : the effect produced on their several ages by Luther and Rousseau, were commensurate with each other, and were produced in both cases by what their contemporaries felt as serious and vehement eloquence, and an elevated tone of moral feeling : and Luther, not less than Rousseau, was actuated by an almost superstitious hatred of superstition, and a turbulent prejudice against prejudices. In the relation too which their writings severally bore to those of Erasmus and Voltaire, and the way in which the latter co-operated with them to the same general end, each finding its own class of admirers and proselytes, the parallel is complete.
I can not, however, rest here. Spite of the apparent incongruities, I am disposed to plead for a resemblance in the men themselves, for that similarity in their radical natures, which I abandoned all pretence and desire of showing in the instances of Vol
taire and Erasmus. But then my readers must think of Luther not as he really was, but as he might have been, if he had been born in the age and under the circumstances of the Swiss philosopher. For this purpose I must strip him of many advantages which he derived from his own times, and must contemplate him in his natural weaknesses as well as in his original strength. Each referred all things to his own ideal. The ideal was indeed widely different in the one and in the other : and this was not the least of Luther's many advantages, or, to use a favorite phrase of his own, not one of his least favors of preventing grace. Happily for him he had derived his standard from a common measure already received by the good and wise ; I mean the inspired writings, the study of which Erasmus had previously restored among the learned. To know that we are in sympathy with others, moderates our feelings as well as strengthens our convictions : and for the mind, which opposes itself to the faith of the multitude, it is more especially desirable, that there should exist an object out of itself, on which it may fix its attention, and thus balance its own energies.
Rousseau, on the contrary, in the inauspicious spirit of his age and birth-place, * had slipped the cable of his faith, and steered by the compass of unaided reason, ignorant of the hidden currents that were bearing him out of his course, and too proud to consult the faithful charts prized and held sacred by his forefathers. But the strange influences of his bodily temperament on his understanding ; his constitutional melancholy pampered into a morbid excess by solitude ; his wild dreams of suspicion; his hypochondriacal fancies of hosts of conspirators all leagued against him and his cause, and headed by some arch-enemy, to whose machinations he attributed every trifling mishap—all as much the creatures of his imagination, as if instead of men he had conceived them to be infernal spirits and beings preternatural—these, or at least the predisposition to them, existed in the ground-work of his nature : they were parts of Rousseau himself. And what corresponding in kind to these, not to speak of degree, can we detect in the character of his supposed parallel ? This difficulty will suggest itself at the first thought, to those who derive all their knowledge of Luther from the meagre biography met with in the Lives of eminent Reformers, or even from the ecclesiastical histories of Mosheim or Milner : for a life of Luther, in extent and style of execution proportioned to the grandeur and interest of the subject, a life of the man Luther, as well as of Luther the theologian, is still a desideratum in English literature, though perhaps there is no subject for which so many unused materials are extant, both printed and in manuscript.*
* Infidelity was so common in Geneva about that time, that Voltaire in one of his letters exults, that in this, Calvin's own city, some half-dozen only of the most ignorant believed in Christianity under any form. This was, no doubt, one of Voltaire's usual lies of exaggeration : it is not, however, to be denied, that here, and throughout Switzerland, he and the dark master in whose service he employed himself, had ample grounds of triumph,
Is it, I ask, most important to the best interests of mankind, temporal as well as spiritual, that certain works, the names and number of which are fixed and unalterable, should be distinguished from all other works, not in degree only but even in kind ?t And that these, collectively, should form THE Book, to which in all the concerns of faith and morality the last recourse is to be had, and from the admitted decisions of which no man dare
* The affectionate respect in which I hold the name of Dr. Jortin-one of the many illustrious nurslings of the college to which I deem it no small honor to have belonged-Jesus, Cambridge-renders it painful to me to assert, that the above remark holds almost equally true of a life of Erasmus, But every scholar well read in the writings of Erasmus and his illustrious contemporaries, must have discovered, that Jortin bad neither collected sufficient, nor the best, materials for his work : and-perhaps from that very cause—he grew weary of his task, before he had made a full use of the scanty materials which he had collected.
+ This is one of the hinges on which the gate of egress from the spiritual Rome turns. Historically, the affirmative to the question has been the constant and close companion of Protestantism :-but whether it be likewise its indispensable support, remains yet to be discussed, at the tribunal of sound philosophy. Hitherto both the ay and the no have been, as it appears to me, but very weakly and superficially argued. But I confess that Chillingworth makes me half a Roman Catholic on this point; lest in acceding to the grounds of -his arguments against the Romanists, I should become less than half a Christian, and lose the substantive in my earnestness to tear off its parasitical and suffocating epithet:—that is, cease to be a Catholic in aversion to the Papal hull of Roman Catholic. 1830.
appeal R-If the mere existence of a book so called and charactered be, as the Koran itself suffices to evince, a mighty bond of union, among nations whom all other causes tend to separate; if moreover the book revered by us and our forefathers has been the foster-nurse of learning in the darkest, and of civilization in the rudest, times, and lastly, if this so vast and wide a blessing is not to be founded in a delusion, and doomed therefore to the impermanence and scorn in which sooner or later all delusions must end; how, I pray you, is it conceivable that this should be brought about and secured, otherwise than by God's special vouchsafement to this one book, exclusively, of that divine MEAN, that uniform and perfect middle way, which in all points is at safe and equal distance from all errors whether of excess or defect? But again, if this be true and what Protestant Christian worthy of his baptismal dedication will deny its truth -if in the one book we are entitled, or even permitted, to expect the golden mean throughout;-surely we ought not to be hard and over-stern in our censures of the mistakes and infirmities of those, who pretending to no warrant of extraordinary inspiration have yet been raised up by God's providence to be of highest power and eminence in the reformation of his Church. Far rather does it behoove us to consider, in how many instances the peccant humor native to the man had been wrought upon by the faithful study of that only faultless model, and corrected into an unsinning, or at least a venial, predominance in the writer or preacher. Yea, that not seldom the infirmity of a zealous soldier in the warfare of Christ has been made the very mould and ground-work of that man's peculiar gifts and virtues. Grateful too we should be, that the very faults of famous men have been fitted to the age, on which they were to act: and that thus the folly of man has proved the wisdom of God, and been made the instrument of his mercy to mankind.
WHOEVER has sojourned in Eisenach, will assuredly have visited the Warteburg, interesting by so many historical associations, which stands on a high rock, about two miles to the south from the city gate. To this castle Luther was taken on his return from the imperial Diet, where Charles V. had pronounced the ban upon him, and limited his safe convoy to one and twenty days. On the last but one of these days, as he was on his way to Waltershausen, a town in the duchy of Saxe Gotha, a few leagues to the south-east of Eisenach, he was stopped in a hollow behind the castle Altenstein, and carried to the Warteburg, The Elector of Saxony, who could not have refused to deliver up Luther, as one put in the ban by the Emperor and the Diet, had ordered John of Berleptsch, the governor of the Warteburg, and Burckhardt von Hundt, the governor of Altenstein, to take Luther to one or the other of these castles, without acquainting him which ; in order that he might be able, with safe conscience, to declare, that he did not know where Luther was. Accordingly they took him to the Warteburg, under the name of the Chevalier (Ritter) George.
To this friendly imprisonment the Reformation owes many of Luther's most important labors. In this place he wrote his works against auricular confession, against Jacob Latronum, the tract on the abuses of masses, that against clerical and monastic vows, composed his exposition of the 22, 27, and 68 Psalms, finished his declaration of the Magnificat, began to write his Church homilies, and translated the New Testament. Here too, and during this time, he is said to have hurled his inkstand at the devil, the black spot from which yet remains on the stone wall of the room he studied in; which, surely, no one will have visited the Warteburg without having had pointed out to him by the good Catholic who is, or at least some few years ago was, the warden of the castle. He must have been either a very supercilious or a very incurious traveller if he did not, for the gratification of his guide at least, inform himself by means of his penknife, that the said marvellous blot bids defiance to all the toils of the scrubbing brush, and is to remain a sign forever; and with this advantage over most of its kindred, that being capable of a double interpretation, it is equally flattering to the Protestant and the Papist, and is regarded by the wonder-loving zealots of both parties, with equal faith.
Whether the great man ever did throw his inkstand at his Satanic Majesty, whether he ever boasted of the exploit, and hirnself declared the dark blotch on his study wall in the Warteburg, to be the result and relict of this author-like hand-grenado, (happily for mankind he used his inkstand at other times to better purpose, and with more effective hostility against the archfiend)—I leave to my reader's own judgment; on condition, however, that he has previously perused Luther's Table Talk, and other writings of the same stamp, of some of his most illustrious contemporaries, which contain facts still more strange and whimsical, related by themselves and of themselves, and accompanied with solemn protestations of the truth of their statements. Luther's Table Talk, which to a truly philosophic mind, will not be less interesting than Rousseau's Confessions, I have not myself the means of consulting at present, and can not therefore say, whether this ink-pot adventure is, or is not, told or referred to, in