Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

ster politician. "Free ! replied his friend; you are free to do as you please.' 'Aye,' exclaimed the other, but I ain not free to make you do as I please.'

“ There is no doubt,” said one of the witnesses before the parliamentary committee, “that the Roman Catholics have a general indefinite suspicion of the scriptures, or rather of our version." But still it was abundantly proved, in the progress of the government inquiries, that the schools using the scriptures without restriction were frequented by more Catholics than Protestants. The London Hibernian Society required the whole Protestant Bible to be taught in their schools, and also sought to disseminate a "knowledge of those scriptures through the country, by the agency of select readers; and yet the proportion of attendants on their schools was as two Roman Catholics to one Protestant! Hence it is the opinion of many intelligent Protestants of Ireland that it is to the compulsory feature of the regulation to which much of the Roman Catholic opposition lies, and that it would abate very sensibly, if it were a matter of discretion with the teacher whether to read the scriptures or not. We doubt it.

By a recent plan of the national board, the country is divided into twenty-five districts, with a model school and a model farm of forty acres near the centre of each district. A strict system of local inspection is contemplated. The superintendent of each district is expected to reside at the model school, whence he can go to the remotest part of his field and return the same day. His salary to be $500 a year, and a horse at the commencement of his labour, with which he is to keep himself supplied at his own expense. He is provided with lodgings at the model school ; and is entitled to $1 25 for each day that he shall be obliged to travel more than twenty miles from home. The master of the model school receives his board and $250 per annum, and the assistant master his board and $100. Each child attending the model school is required to pay 37?c. a quarter, to be divided between the master, assistant master, and head monitors, in certain proportions. The common schools are divided into primary and secondary ; the masters of the former to receive 12lc. a quarter from each scholar, and a "reasonable salary from the public;" and the masters of the latter to have apartments at the school, to receive 37 £c. per quarter from each pupil, and $150 a year from the public. By the

Letters of “T," before cited.

report of the year 1839, it would seem that only 205,000 children were connected with the schools under the national board.* The cost of annual instruction in them is $2 50 per head for such as learn to read ; $4 33 for reading and writing, and $7 50 for reading, writing, and arithmetic. The board express as full confidence in the success of their scheme, as the Kildare-street Society have in theirs; and the latest report mentions but one adverse circumstance, and that is the withdrawing of a body of thirteen Roman Catholic clergymen from the support of the board, “under the conviction that the system as now constituted, could never enjoy the confidence of the Irish people.” This is assumed to be a local and temporary alienation merely, and occasioned by the influence of a single prelate. We shall see.

Art. V.-History of the Great Reformation of the six

teenth century, in Germany, Switzerland, f.c. By J. H. Merle d'Aubigné, President of the Theological School of Geneva, and Member of the “Societé Evangelique.” Volumes First and Second. First American, from the Fifth London Edition. New-York: Robert Carter, 1841. pp. 390, 400.

It is one of the most pleasing indications of our time, that we receive from Geneva, the cradle of reformed theology, a work written in the very spirit of that great revolution, and by a learned man, loved and honoured for his labours and his self-denial in the cause. That delightful spot, once hallowed by the work of Farel, Calvin, Viret, Beza, the Turretines and the Pictets, has long lain waste, and been trodden down by the foot of infidelity. But we look for better days, and our hopes are quickened by every new piece of intelligence from the little seminary and the evangelical society. At our last advices, the number of students was eight, and twenty-five were pursuing their studies in the prepara

• In 1812, a board of commissioners for inquiring into the state of education in Ireland reported, that upwards of 200,000 of the children of the poorer classes were provided with the means of education in the schools then established. Considering the increase of population, and the advantages of long experience, the gain in numbers, from 1812 to 1839, of the educated portion of the children, does not seem to be very flattering.

[ocr errors]

tory school, making a total of thirty-three. They are under the tuition of four professors. It is believed by pious men abroad, that the establishment of this seminary has had a happy tendency towards the encouragement of scattered believers, and towards the recent acquisition of influence for the truth at Montauban. Geneva was once a source of divine instruction to a large part of Europe : we hope to see it such again. Its site fits it in a remarkable manner to be the inlet of the scriptures and scriptural teaching, to the French, the Germaris, and the Italians. From this point the books of Calvin penetrated into northern Italy, and we may expect the same thing to take place in our day, if Christians lend their aid to the efforts which are making.

If we may judge from the notices of public journals, from the sale of these volumes, and from the fact that three rival translations have appeared in England, the work of Dr. Merle is destined to play an important part in the blessed changes which we hope for. It is a production—we speak of the portion translated—of great labour, and at the same time of great vivacity. No history of the Reformation has appeared, in the English language, with so many marks of having been formed by having recourse to the original authorities. The author owns, on every page, his obligations to works in Latin, German, French, Italian, and English, and these for the most part contemporary with the events which he relates. For this he has been eminently fitted by long residence in Germany, Switzerland, and the Low Countries.

It is now more than eleven years since we called the attention of our readers to the voluminous collection of Luther's letters, then recently set forth by De Wette.* Ever since that day we have been diligent students of these volumes, and the consequence has been a continually increasing conviction that the key to the history of the early Reformation is to be sought in the private history of Martin Luther, and that this key is found in his own writings, and chiefly in his letters, prefaces, and autobiographical memoranda. Many of these were unpublished at the time when the earlier histories were written, and later works were in a great degree made out of the old materials. Our own age has witnessed an indefatigable research into the documentary monuments of the sixteenth century, and the result has been a body of

* Biblical Repertory for 1830, p. 504,

facts, which affords more complete material for a correct narrative than has ever before been extant. We observe with pleasure that the author has availed himself of these aids. His history, as contained in these two volumes, is in great measure the history of Luther; it could not well be any thing else. It is, moreover, the history of Luther's mind, heart, and inward development. For this he has gone back to the earliest notices of his boyhood and youth; and every where the reformer is made to speak for himself. Any reader will be surprised, who looks through these pages for the purpose of inquiring how many of them are filled with the ipsissima verba of Luther.

A striking advantage of this method is, that it gives an air of reality, a naturalness, and a fascinating liveliness to the history. Such is the rapidity of the action, and such the marked individuality of the characters, and the genuineness of the dialogue, that it becomes dramatic, and we pause and wonder whether these can possibly be the same events which we once read in the heartless annals of Mosheim. Whatever fault may be found with the present work, this is an excellency which it possesses in no common degree : it is interesting as a narrative. This was greatly needed, and the author has constantly and successfully made it a special object of pursuit. Whether the production has not, in consequence of this attempt, lost something as a history, properly so called, is another question ; but that it has the charm of reality, and that it whets and satisfies the curiosity of the reader, it needs but the perusal of a few pages to show.

In pursuance of this end, the great personages of the period are presented in a series of portraits, and we are possessed, by a few bold but masterly touches, of the individual traits of each. It is a gallery through which we walk, without weariness and with distinct and lasting impression. In like manner, the cardinal events, on which all the rest of the action turns, are brought out in a prominent manner; and here we have a series of historical paintings. No history is richer in such subjects than that of the Reformation. The dry and tedious details which connect these are omitted, or passed over in a very rapid manner. We are not sure that this is not sometimes carried a little too far, and whether the completeness of the annals is not sacrificed to the interest of the story : and as an instance of what we mean, let us refer the reader to the manner in which Erasmus is introduced, vol. i. p. 99. After all, such history as this will be read, and that, if VOL. XIV. NO. 1.

16

who neglect the former, will know but the form and exterior signs of the latter. They may gain knowledge of certain events and results, but they will never comprehend the intrinsic nature of that renovation; for the principle of life that was the soul of it will remain unknown to them. Let us then study the Reforformation of Luther himself, before we contemplate the facts that changed the state of Christendom.” Vol. i. pp. 118, 119.

We read these sentences with delight, and we insert them in the hope that they will arrest the attention of all who are interested in the conflict now waging between the gospel on the one part, and the papists and ritualists on the other. We shall greatly mistake the true character of the Reformation, if we look upon it as a mere ecclesiastical or even doctrinal revolution. It was the revival of true religion. The principle of the new life in the oul of Martin Luther and the other reformers was its moving power. Our author does well, therefore, when he proposes to go into the depths of Luther's personal experience. Nowhere have we met with so much about the reformer's childhood and youth. We are made acquainted with his parents, his playmates, and his teachers; we sympathize with his servile terrors, and seem to hear his Christmas carols, among the poor boys at Magdeburg; we smile when we find him solacing his weary hours with the lute and the flute, and we accompany him to the university, a pale and timorous student. The manner of relating all this is admirable, at once rapid and full, and the story is delightfully interrupted by the always interesting sayings of Luther himself. How touching the following passages !

“But never did Luther feel ashamed of the time when, pressed by hunger, he sorrowfully begged the bread necessary for the support of life and the continuance of his studies. So far from this, he thought with gratitude on the extreme poverty of his youth. He considered it as one of the means that God had made use of to make him what he afterwards became, and he thanked him for it. The condition of poor children who were obliged to lead the same kind of life, touched him to the heart. Do not despise,' said he, the boys who try to earn their bread by chaunting before your door, 'bread for the love of God,' Panem propter Deum. I have done the same. It is true that in later years my father maintained me at the university of Erfurth, with much love and kindness, supporting me by the sweat of his brow; but at one time I was only a poor mendicant. And now by means of my pen, I have succeeded so well, that I would not change fortunes with the Grand Seignor bimself. I may say more; if I were to be offered all the possessions of the earth heaped one upon another, I would not take them in exchange for what I possess. And yet I should never have known what I do, if I had not been to school, and been taught to write.' Thus did this great man acknowledge that these humble beginnings were the origin of his glory. He was not afraid of reminding his readers that that voice whose acceuts electrified the empire and the world, had not very long before begged a morsel of bread in the streets of a petty town." Vol. i. pp. 127, 128.

“ The young student spent in the library of the university the moments be could snatch from his academical labours. Books being then scarce, it was in

« ÎnapoiContinuați »