Slike strani
PDF
ePub

compositions whereof the world knows performed with ability and truth.

What a delicious night! Let us walk! Now that we are out of the roar of cads and the din of carriages, let me recommend you earnestly to see the Oberon, as played by the Germans. It never will be so popular as Weber's Freischütz-the subject is not so good or so genial; but, nevertheless, it is a work of surpassing genius. Performed with singers true to the music, and with choruses and an orchestra perfectly competent to do their duty, the opera wears a very different form, indeed, from what it did on the English stage. The sacrilegious impudence of the spoiled favourites of the London galleries was never more conspicuously displayed than upon the production of Oberon at Covent Garden. Poor Weber entreated the singers, with tearful eyes, to be good enough to sing the music as he wrote it, and not to deform his composition by their unmeaning shakes and abominable additions; but in vain. Mr. Braham, with lofty coolness, informed the German that no English audience would tolerate his music if it were not for the mode in which he sung it. Even then this was a foul libel. But since then the public taste in music has become infinitely more pure amongst all classes of the people. Whatever Bunn and Laporte may be as ministers of finance, decidedly in the department of foreign affairs they never were surpassed. We have for several years past had an opportunity, not only of hearing the finest singers in the world, but, in the French phrase, assisting at operas got up after a style of elegance with an ensemble-that was never equalled in any other country. But nothing, perhaps, tended so much to refine and elevate the taste of common audiences as the introduction of Malibran to the English stage. The Somnambula probably charmed John Bull more than any opera he ever heard, and no

singer or actress ever gave him more unmixed delight. A propos to delight, however, you should hear Mozart's Marriage of Figaro by the Germans. It is admirably cast; and never was there any thing wrought by mortal brain more delicious than the music. You have seen it at the Italian Opera. No doubt the artists who sing in it are of the very highest order of excellence. Yet your recollection of them will not in the least interfere with the fulness of your enjoyment from the performance of the Germans. The pleasure is of another, but not of a less exalted order. You ask about Fidelio. Most beautiful-most grand it is; but I confess in hearing it, my thoughts dwell on Schroeder Devrient, whom Malibran even did not equal in the impersonation of the heroine. No character on any stage was ever performed with greater tenderness, truth, and power, than Fidelio by Madame Devrient. Stoekel Heinfetter sings the part correctly and ably; but it wants the soul which Devrient threw into it; and as an actress, Madame Heinfetter is very inferior. I wonder what has become of Devrient. It is strange that after having won such high favour in this terrestrial paradise of singers and fiddlers, she has never been induced to pay us a second visit. She was not handsome-quite the reverse. The eyes-the whole countenance was ordinarily dull, but recollect what fire and passion she could throw into them on occasions when she rose to the height of her great argument. The face was only as a mask to a mind of genius and beauty. Truth to say, however, the only pretty German actress I ever saw was Sontag; and she, in my eyes, was pretty enough to redeem the character of a nation.

But here we are at the Club. Let us turn in and have a broiled bone and a glass of Lord Brougham's favourite liquor—frigidum sine.

THE LIFE AND WRITINGS OF DEAN GRAVES.

DEAN GRAVES is the author of one of the most satisfactory disquisitions on the Pentateuch in the theological literature of England. He is one of the few but able men who by the weight and extent of their acquisitions have redeemed "the Silent Sister" of Dublin from the too severe animadversions of Oxford and Cambridge. It is not to be wondered at, though it is often referred to, that Dublin University gives forth so few eminent divines. The fact is, the University of Dublin is properly to be compared with the Scotch Universities, and in no respect can it be brought into comparison with the more favoured and truly noble institutions of the Isis and the Cam. The aim and end of the Dublin University was to qualify and send forth a competent body of clergy for Ireland, and by its success or its failure in this work its value is to be tested. It has no such retreats as Oxford and Cambridge, into which learned and illustrious wits can retire and cultivate exclusively a favourite pursuit. It is more like the great schools of England - Eton, Rugby, and Harrow-than like the universities of England. Oxford and Cambridge were meant to be bulwarks of the Protestant faith-foci of a righteous literature-nursing mothers of profound minds, out of which were to come those ponderous folios that ennoble the land, and enrich the language of our fathers. Well have they answered these ends. Dublin, as we have said, was not meant for this purpose. It was

progress in the social circle. But at Oxford and Cambridge, with the exception of one or two halls and colleges in each, the aristocracy and gentry are educated. In Dublin University, there are few of the higher orders, and a considerable proportion of the sons of small proprietors, respectable tradesmen, and of the poorer clergy. Hence at this moment, if we had not the poor men that come from Dublin, large dio cesses, as Chester for instance, would be destitute of their most laborious ministers. Many sons of poor parents in this country are sent to Dublin, and, receiving there an excellent education, they are qualified to take orders in England. The fact is, Oxford and Cambridge do not supply more than a half of the Eng lish clergy. There are upwards of 4000 Irish clergy in England at this moment, and a few hundreds from Scotch universities; and in the northern diocesses, there are very many from St. Bees, and other similar institutions. It is, therefore, a very providential arrangement that there are such facilities for a cheap clerical education. And it is not improbable that in Dublin a better preparatory theological education can be had than in Oxford. The Irish clergy in this country are not a learned body; nor do they make many pretensions to high learning; but as preachers, and as laborious ministers, they are equal to any.

It has been found that the entire list of fellows in Dublin, from its foundation to the present day, is not

character of Judaism. Some of the minute parts of its ritual were little heeded, and the reasons of them unknown to many. About the time of the appear. ance of the work, infidels were generally seeking, as Paley expressed it, to wound Christianity through the sides of Judaism. As an important outwork of Christianity, it required prompt and able defence. This work has acquired, as it deserved, very general approbation, as a comprehensive, well-arranged, luminous, and interesting defence of divine revelation.

The writer does not suffer himself to be led away to skirmish on weak or doubtful points, but takes firm positions, elucidates and defends great principles, bringing forward positive arguments instead of dwelling on minute objections; giving pre-eminence to all the leading and substantive truths, the moral beauty, the political wisdom of the whole institution, instead of wasting his strength by too frequent notice of smaller difficulties. The method he has adopted for arranging the internal evidence with effect is most judicious, by detailing, first, the main series of facts, the common history; and then, after establishing their credibility by a very ingenious examination of minute circumstances, shewing how indisputably the miraculous facts are connected with, and as it were dovetailed into, the whole history."

In this work, known to every scholar, the Dean follows the plan of comparison between the written and spoken word, which Paley so successfully pursues in his Hora Pauline. He vindicates the Pentateuch from the charges of Warburton, and shews that a clear idea of a future state of rewards and punishments was unfolded to the minds of the patriarchs and their progeny. This work will be coeval with the English tongue; its temper, its caution, its ingenuity, and its thorough good sense, combine to place it high in the category of literary and theological excellencies.

His next production is also possessed of very considerable value. Its title is, The Apostles and Evangelists were not Enthusiasts. Much of this work is intended as a reply to the wide and extravagant assertion of M. Belanger, who seems to have hit out of his tortured and depraved ingenuity a few cavils which the wits

To

of Chubb, Woolston, Collins, and Bolingbroke, had overlooked. these he replies effectively, but coolly. nothing new against the gospels for The truth is, infidels have discovered nearly a century. They had exhausted their diseased hearts of all their virus, and their misguided talents of all their resources, long before Owen and the filthy disciples of his school were born. All that is now done by the vilest and subtlest sceptics is to revive exploded cavils, resuscitate dormant and convicted calumnies; and among those portions of the population where the Scriptures are least studied, the stalest objections appear most plausible, and

where the restraints of the divine law are the least regarded, its evidence is naturally assailed with the most ardent zeal.

"Even ignorance itself," observes the Dean," will increase the confidence of the objector. For in every extensive scheme supported by historical evidence, doubts and difficulties float upon the surface; their solutions cannot be found without a deeper search, and the exercise of sober inquiry and patient attention. To superficial inquirers every objection is new, and the answer to every objection is unknown. Hence old difficulties are revived when their solutions are forgotten, and the writers who discussed them sleep undisturbed in the deepest recesses of our libraries."

A very studious part of the policy of infidels in every country is to confound Christianity and Popery, and to visit the corruptions of the latter on the fair fame of the former. It is worth inquiry, and would form a only representation of Christianity most interesting volume, how far the in the minds of a majority of infidels has been Popery. To see the style and unmeasured invective of the infidels, we have merely to dip into Boulange.

Morality," says the impudent sceptic, "under which I comprehend the science of policy, is almost totally neglected in European education. The only morality which is taught to Christians is that enthusiastic, impracticable, contradictory, uncertain, morality which we see contained in the Gospel, which

* We believe the French infidels never saw Christianity in its purity; and while we do not either palliate their blasphemies or exculpate their infidelity, we do not hesitate, nevertheless, to allege, that it indicates a healthier mind to reject than to receive the Romish superstition," Corruptio optimi pessima."

is only fitted to degrade the spirit, to render virtue hateful, to form abject slaves, to break the spring of the soul; or, if it is emplanted in warm tempers, it produces nothing but fanatics, capable of overturning the foundations of society. Yet, in spite of the inutility and the perverseness of that morality in which Christianity rears men, its defenders presume, that without religion one cannot preserve good morals; but what is to preserve good morals in the language of Christians? It is to pray without ceasing, to frequent churches, to do penance, to live in abstraction and retirement. What good can result to society from such practices as these, which one can observe without having the shadow of virtue?"

In this extract one can see at once that the sceptic is commenting not on Christianity, but on Popery. Ile lays hold on that dreadful superstition, concocted by the depraved ingenuity of man, and decked out by the sacrilegious plunder of a holy faith, and whatever he substantiates against it, and a thousand charges yet a thousand times worse can be substantiated-he concludes to be proved against the religion of the Son of God. It is true, however, in the sceptic onslaught on Popery, they trample on some of the sweet blossoms of the rod of Jesse, as, for instance,

"To love our neighbour as ourselves; to love our enemies, to resist evil, are the fruits of fanaticism." "It may be asserted that fanaticism and enthusiasm are the foundation of the morality of Christ. The virtues which he recommends tend to isolate men from each other, to plunge them into a gloomy humour, to render them pernicious to their fellow-creatures."

Such is the style in which infidelity rejoices to make its appearance. There is nothing new in all they adduce. Celsus, Porphyry, Julian, and others, have reiterated, again and again, those very charges of enthusiasm, fanaticism, and other isms which have been replied to again and again. Their resuscitation is proof only of the wickedness of the sceptic's heart.

The whole of Dean Graves' discussion of the character, and faith, and conduct of the apostles, is replete with judicious and useful reflections. In the opening chapter of this work,

he demonstrates to satisfaction that the reception of the Gospel by the apostles was not the stimulus of a precipitate impulse, the rash resolve of a day, but the fruit of irresistible evidence, the deduction of incontrovertible facts. They saw miracles performed by their divine master that essentially required two elements in their production,-almighty power and superhuman benevolence. These two entered into the generation of every miracle. The power proved they could not be the work of man; the benevolence proved they could not originate from the powers of evil. Both conspired to testify that there was the finger of God. It was, therefore, credentials such as sane minds and honest hearts could not resist which bore in their bosom the claims of Christianity to the reception of mankind. The conversion of the apostles was the just fruit of just evidence-the very natural result of the proofs submitted. The apostles, therefore, were not fanatics in receiving Christianity. They would have been fools if they had rejected it. And it may be a question worth the notice of infidels, whether of the two is the fanatic, the apostle, whose character is constructed on such facts and proofs as the Bible teems with, or the sceptic, whose character is formed by an obstinate resistance to evidence more powerful than the quickening of the dead?

The Dean takes up and discusses with great simplicity and force, the amount of sobriety embodied in the apostles' reception of the fact of Christ's resurrection from the dead:

"If," says the Dean, "we contemplate their situation and conduct at this important crisis, it will appear that enthu siasm must have been wholly excluded from their minds. Suppose for a moment that, by some unaccountable means, they had been worked up into an enthusiastic belief of miracles they had never seen, and of divine perfections which existed only in their fond imagination, how utterly impossible that such a delusion should have survived their crucified Lord. They had, as they confess, followed him as a temporal Messiah, who would prove by miracles his claim to the throne of David, who would be received by the assembled thousands of Israel, rescue them from the Roman yoke, and subjugate to their power the remotest nations of the earth. But the event ex

hibited the total reverse of this-their master seized, bound, accused, declaring his kingdom was not of this world, and submitting without reply or resistance to insult and outrage. They saw him persecuted by the priests and rulers; they heard the populace clamour for his condemnation, till the Roman governor pronounced his ignominious doom; and they beheld him expire on the cross, dying the death of the accursed, and lodged in the depths of the grave. Every fond hope seemed to be thus for ever blasted; every ambitious thought was crushed; every prejudice of their religion, their education, outraged."

"It is now time for us to ask, Was the faith of the apostles in the resurrection of Christ from the dead the product of enthusiasm, or the slow and deliberate result of certainty and fact?

"Does it seem enthusiasm which led them not merely to doubt, but to reject the evidence of the women, who said they had seen a vision of angels, and that Jesus was alive? Was it like the conduct of enthusiastic zealots that two of the apostles, on finding his body removed from its sepulchre, should retire wondering, but not believing? When two came and declared they had seen him alive, and the rest would not believe them, can we say this was a predisposing enthusiasm? If they had cherished a wild and visionary hope of his resurrection from the dead, their heated senses would have magnified fancies into facts, entertained every shadow as reality, and jumped at predetermined conclusions without just premises. But all is the reverse of this. Doubt and disbelief, almost amounting to scepticism, had preoccupied and foreclosed their minds; and the slow, cool, and gradual process of the reception of the fact, is to our minds irresistible evidence of its truth. Surely it was not enthusiasm to believe that Christ had risen when they saw him eat and drink before them;' when they heard him say, and shew, 'Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have.' There was the very opposite of enthusiasm in Thomas when he said, 'Except I shall see in his hands the prints of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe; and when the obduracy

of his unbelief sunk before the presentation of the evidence he desired, and living faith and irrepressible joy broke forth, 'My Lord and my God!'

In

"We think no fairer opportunity could have occurred of testing the views and principles of the apostles than the election of an apostle in the room of Judas, and the course they pursued in the future management of the church. If the apostles had at all thirsted for a monopoly of power and privilege, they would have themselves selected the man, and informed the multitude that amid mystic lights and supernatural voices they had pitched on this man. stead of this they assemble the disciples, amounting to one hundred and twenty, and proposed to consent to any man to be an equal who possessed the competent knowledge, and had enjoyed those personal evidences which would enable him to attest the facts on which the whole structure of Christianity was based; and after solemn and calm prayer for heavenly guidance, one of the two selected by the disciples was chosen. Another opportunity of self-elevation and aggrandisement occurred, at which fanatics would have grasped. Converts sold their goods and laid the proceeds at the feet of the apostles. This placed the apostles in a very trying position. They shewed, however, that the Gospel was inwrought and quickening in their hearts. They neither pressed this act of self-denial as a duty upon others, nor reserved for themselves the administration of it. Every act of the sacred college, it might be shewn, was disinterested, pure, and magnanimous. No men ever displayed so untainted conduct -none were ever placed in circumstances of severer trial-and none ever so truly triumphed."

The Dean proceeds to investigate, by a similar process, and under the directions of the same sound canons of criticism, the conduct of St. Paul. On the epistles of that illustrious apostle he speaks with calm, but searching faithfulness. He shews that the warmth of thought and riches of expression that pervade the epistles of St. Paul are the just emanations of a heart replete with the holiest feelings, impressed with the deepest and most touching motives, and in no respect capable of being

« PrejšnjaNaprej »