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Dawn of a New Reformation.
sympathize with this movement, and in some parts of Germany, such as Westphalia, Rhenish Prussia, and Würtemberg, the proportion is vastly greater. The most eminent of the theological professors and directors of seminaries, with most sections of the serious-minded clergy, readily forward it, and even the high Lutherans, whose scruples about lay-agency keep them aloof, have been stirred up to engage in the same work on their own principles. Though the fortunes of this enterprise, which is evidently the work of God, do not depend on one man, much is to be hoped from the future labours of Dr. Wichern. His annual speeches at the Congress have lost nothing of the spirit and power of his first memorable appearance. At the second Conference in Wittenberg, and also in Stuttgardt, he furnished the most masterly review of the whole field of labour, going over it in the one case geographically, in the other according to its different departments, and branding alike his facts and his appeals on every heart. And this year at Elberfeld, after a graceful tribute to England, from which he had just returned, full of light and impulse derived from the study of our own great “Inner-Mission” in London, he soared into a new region, and astonished those who regarded him as a man of one idea, though a wide-embracing one, by developing with incomparable vigour and eloquence an original aspect of the “Inner-Mission," as not so much the fruit of a revolutionary necessity, as a revival and carrying out of the unfinished work of the Reformation. The pleading was to a German audience irresistible; and as he closed his fervent oration, in which he had found again and displayed to view all his own favourite plans as on foot in times of Luther, and asked, Where was the United German Church that should stand forth before the world to take up and consummate the long-neglected and frustrated schemes of the Reformer?-the whole assembly rose, and by a solemn vow pledged themselves, as they had done before, amid indescribable excitement, to live and die in the service of the Ir ner-Mission.
The rapid sketch which has been given suggests many anticipations as to the future development of German Christianity. We shall leave time, however, to take its own course, convinced that we have made good the expression of our confidence that a new stage in the progress of evangelical religion has been entered upon in Germany. Two of the greatest evils that oppressed the German Churches have disappeared—isolation from each other, and aversion to practice. Union and labour have come together; and the great work of Christianizing the German people, so long neglected while theologians were reducing to their lowest terms the fractional differences between Luther and Calvin, or evolving theories of the universe, with the Bible
an appendix, has been taken up in good earnest at the bidding of a “presence that was not to be put by.” The demon of revolution has not stirred the waters alone. Å brighter angel has also troubled them, and still sits with healing wings over the agitated and changeful deep. Amidst the vicissitudes which to a mind of any discernment await all existing institutions in Germany, the Confederation and Inner-Mission are pleasing auguries of peace and order beyond the limits of impending revolution. They have only to keep themselves disengaged from the perilous contact with reaction and tryanny, whose downfal even Christianity cannot avert or reprieve; they have only to preserve an aspect of religious compassion for the multitude as rebels against God, and not of priestly rebuke as revolters against monarchical rule, and their end shall be even better than their beginning. Revolution shall gradually collapse and sink down before a living and manly Christianity, which disdains as much to truckle to kings, as to cower before mobs, and is only intent on gathering subjects to Christ. A recovered nation shall be the prize of a faithful Church, which, in the act of regaining them, has shaken off its own fetters, and worked out all its chronic diseases. And in that true “ Church of the Future," at once united, and free, and catholic, the German Confederation shall find its goal attained, and the Inner-Mission its abnormal functions restored to their natural and permanent centre.
NORTH BRITISH REVIEW.
Art. 1.—The Works of John Milton. A New Edition.
London, Pickering, 1851. We do not know how far our readers may share the feeling, but we confess to an occasional sense of irritation at that necessity which we seem to be under, in these latter times, of perpetually naming and referring to some five or six dead men, the acknowledged glories of the literature of the past. Shakespeare, Milton, Dante, Burns, Goethe-shall we never be able to pass an agreeable intellectual evening without calling one or another of these names to our aid, never be able to indite a paper of thirty pages without requiring the printer to put one or another of these names more than once into type? Are subjects for thought and talk so scarce round about us that we must for ever weave our best conversations out of the matter of these suggestive memories; or are we such timid sailors on the great sea of innumerable things as not to know how to quit the neighbourhood of these familiar bays and shores? The evil, if it be such, daily increases. Not only do we never have done with naming and alluding to those well-remembered few; but we shall never have done, it would also appear, with writing and reading express commentations on their lives and works. Perpetually, on opening a new number of a Review, we find a new essay on Goethe or on Byron ; perpetually, on glancing at a new sheet of advertisements, we see announced some new volume of literary portraits, done by a cisatlantic or a transatlantic pen. Is this but a passing phase of our literary activity, a fashion recommended by the example of one or two eminent contemporary writers that one could 'name, and destined to run its course and cease? We do not know; we only note the fact, and confess again that the VOL. XVI. NO. XXXII.
observation of it sometimes tempts us to the wish that there could be a decree of society forbidding, for some time, all reference to Shakespeare and his companions, and compelling us, both in our conversation and in our authorship, back to that miscellaneous world of substances, passions, and events, whence Shakespeare himself, the greatest niggard known of allusions to preceding writers, drew the materials for a not deficient literature.
That we do not exaggerate this view of the case, ought to be evident from the fact that, in the present paper, we deliberately perpetrate an offence against it. Milton is one of the writers that have been most frequently, most variously, and, we may add, most splendidly written about; and yet here we venture upon a new essay on Milton. It is needless, therefore, to say that we have sympathies also with the other view of the case, and that we hold that there is something right, beautiful, and full of use in this practice of visiting again and again the same ancestral tombs, this tendency of writer after writer to scan for himself those characters which tradition has bound him to revere, and to attempt such new portraitures of them as may present, if not the whole men, at least some of their lineaments, more vividly to the world. How we can reconcile this belief with the sentiment before expressed, we shall not stop to inquire. The Duke of Wellington's mode of proceeding in such cases is as good as any that we know. When he wishes to reconcile two apparently contradictory propositions, he simply asserts them both as strongly as he can. Content to adopt this plan, we shall leave the matter in question to the consideration of our readers, and go on, without farther preface, to the task which we have appointed to ourselves, of saying something about Milton and his writings which, whether new or not, may be appropriate to the temper and circumstances of these grave times.
Never surely did a youth leave the academic halls of England more full of fair promise than Milton, when, at the age
of twenty: three, he quitted Cambridge to reside at his father's house amid the quiet beauties of a rural neighbourhood some twenty miles distant from London. Fair in person, with a clear fresh complexion, light brown hair which parted in the middle and fell in curls to his shoulders, clear grey eyes, and a well-knit frame of moderate proportions—there could not have been found a finer picture of pure and ingenuous English youth. And that health and beauty which distinguished his outward appearance, and the effect of which was increased by a voice surpassingly sweet and musical, indicated with perfect truth the qualities of the mind within. Seriousness, studiousness, fondness for flowers and music, fondness also for manly exercises in the open air, courage and resolution of character, combined with the most maiden
purity and innocence of life-these were the traits conspicuous in Milton in his early years. Of his accomplishments it is hardly necessary to take particular note. Whatever of learning, of science, or of discipline in logic or philosophy the University at that time could give, he had duly and in the largest measure acquired. No better Greek or Latin scholar probably had the University in that age sent forth; he was proficient in the Hebrew tongue, and in all the other customary aids to a biblical theology, and he could speak and write well in French, Italian, and Spanish. His acquaintance, obtained by independent reading, with the history and with the whole body of the literature of ancient and modern nations, was extensive and various. And, as nature had endowed him in no ordinary degree with that most exquisite of her gifts, the ear and the passion for harmony, he had studied music as an art, and had taught himself not only to sing in the society of others, but also to touch the keys for his solitary pleasure.
The instruments which Milton preferred as a musician, were, his biographers tell us, the organ and the bass-viol. This fact seems to us to be not without its significance. Were we to define in one word our impression of the prevailing tone, the characteristic mood and disposition of Milton's mind, even in his early youth, we should say that it consisted in a deep and habitual seriousness. We use the word in none of those special and restricted senses that are sometimes given to it. We do not mean that Milton, at the period of his early youth with which we are now concerned, was, or accounted himself as being, a confessed member of that noble party of English Puritans with wbich he afterwards became allied, and to which he rendered such vast services. True, he himself tells us, in his account of his education, that “caré had ever been had of him, with his earliest capacity, not to be negligently trained in the precepts of the Christian religion;" and in the fact that his first tutor, selected for him by his father, was one “ Thomas Young, á Puritan of Essex who cut his hair short,” there is enough to prove that the formation of his character in youth was aided expressly and purposely by Puritanical influences. But Milton, if ever, in a denominational sense, he could be called a Puritan, (he always wore his hair long, and in other respects did not conform to the usages of the Puritan party,) could hardly, with any propriety, be designated as a Puritan in this sense, at the time when he left college. There is evidence that at this time he had not given so much attention, on his own personal account, to matters of religious doctrine, as he afterwards bestowed. That seriousness of which we speak was, therefore, rather a constitutional seriousness ratified and nourished by rational reflection,