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sent forth a score of octavos into the world, and as good as some of M. de Chateaubriand's, he can bear up under a poor one now and then. This is not the first indifferent work laid at his door, and, as he promises to keep the field for some time longer, it will probably not be the last.
We pass over the first half of the first volume, to come to the Reformation ; the point of departure, as it were, for modern civilization. Our author's views in relation to it, as we might anticipate, are not precisely those we should entertain.
" In a religious point of view," he says, “the Reformation is leading insensibly to indifference, or the complete absence of faith ; the reason is, that the independence of the mind terminates in two gulfs, — doubt and incredulity.
"By a very natural reaction, the Reformation at its birth rekindled the dying flame of Catholic fanaticism. It may thus be regarded as the indirect cause of the massacre of St. Bartholomew, the disturbances of the League, the assassination of Henry the Fourth, the murders in Ireland, and of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, and the dragonnades"!- Vol. 1. p. 193.
As to the tendency of the Reformation towards doubt and incredulity, we know that free inquiry, continually presenting new views, as the sphere of observation is enlarged, may unsettle old principles without establishing any fixed ones in their place, or, in other words, lead to skepticism. But we doubt if this happens more frequently than under the opposite system, inculcated by the Romish church, which, by precluding examination, excludes the only ground of rational belief. At all events, skepticism, in the former case, is much more remediable than in the latter ; since the subject of it, by pursuing his inquiries, will, it is to be hoped, as truth is mighty, arrive, at last, at a right result ; while the Romanist, inhibited from such inquiry, has no remedy. The ingenious author of " Doblado's Letters from Spain" has painted in the most affecting colors the state of such a mind, which, declining to take its creed at the bidding of another, is lost in a labyrinth of doubt, without a clue to guide it. As to charging on the Reformation the various enormities with which the above extract concludes, the idea is certainly new. It is, in fact, making the Protestants guilty of their own persecution, and Henry the Fourth of his own assassination ; quite an original view of the subject, which, as far as we know, has hitherto escaped the attention of historians.
A few pages further, and we pick up the following information respecting the state of Catholicism in our own country.
“Maryland, a Catholic and very populous State, made common cause with the others, and now most of the Western States are Catholic. The progress of this communion in the United States of America exceeds belief. There it has been invigorated in its evangelical aliment, popular liberty, whilst other communions decline in profound indifference.” – Vol. 1. p. 201.
We were not aware of this state of things. We did, indeed, know, that the Roman church had increased much, of late years, especially in the valley of the Mississippi. But so have other communions, as the Methodist and the Baptist, for example, the latter of which comprehends five times as many disciples as the Roman Catholic. As to the population of the latter in the West, the whole number of Catholics in the Union does not amount, probably, to three fourths of the number of inhabitants in the single western State of Ohio. The truth is, that in a country, where there is no established or favored sect, and where the clergy depend on voluntary contribution for their support, there must be constant efforts at proselytism, and a mutation of religious opinion, according to the convictions, or fancied convictions, of the converts. What one denomination gains, another loses, till roused, in its turn, by its rival, new efforts are made to retrieve its position, and the equilibrium is restored. In the mean time, the population of the whole country goes forward with giant strides, and each sect boasts, and boasts with truth, of the hourly augmentation of its numbers. Those of the Roman Catholics are swelled, moreover, by a considerable addition from emigration, many of the poor foreigners, especially the Irish, being of that persuasion. But this is no ground of triumph, as it infers no increase to the sum of Catholicism ; since what is thus gained in the New World is lost in the Old.
Our author pronounces the Reformation hostile to the arts, poetry, eloquence, elegant literature, and even the spirit of military heroism. But hear his own words.
“ The Reformation, imbued with the spirit of its founder,
declared itself hostile to the arts. It sacked tombs, churches, and monuments, and made in France and England heaps of ruins.” ....
"The beautiful in literature will be found to exist in a greater or less degree, in proportion as writers have approximated to the genius of the Roman church.” .....
“If the Reformation restricted genius in poetry, eloquence, and the arts, it also checked heroism in war, for heroism is imagination in the military order.” – Vol. I. pp. 194 – 207.
This is a sweeping denunciation ; and, as far as the arts of design are intended, may probably be defended. The Romish worship, its stately ritual and gorgeous ceremonies, the throng of numbers assisting, in one form or another, at the service, all required spacious and magnificent edifices, with the rich accessories of sculpture and painting, and music also, to give full effect to the spectacle. Never was there a religion which addressed itself more directly to the senses. And, fortunately for it, the immense power and revenues of its ministers enabled them to meet its exorbitant demands. On such a splendid theatre, and under such patronage, the arts were called into life in modern Europe, and most of all in that spot, which represented the capital of Christendom. It was there, amid the pomp and luxury of religion, that those beautiful structures rose, with those exquisite creations of the chisel and the pencil, which embodied in themselves all the elements of ideal beauty.
But, independently of these external circumstances, the spirit of Catholicism was eminently favorable to the artist. Shut out from free inquiry, — from the Scriptures themselves, — and compelled to receive the dogmas of his teachers upon trust, the road to conviction lay less through the understanding, than the heart. The heart was to be moved, the affections and sympathies to be stirred, as well as the senses to be dazzled. This was the machinery, by which only could an effectual devotion to the faith be maintained in an ignorant people. It was not, therefore, Christ as a teacher, delivering lessons of practical wisdom and morality, that was brought before the eye, but Christ filling the offices of human sympathy, ministering to the poor and sorrowing, giving eyes to the blind, health to the sick, and life to the dead. It was Christ suffering under persecution, crowned with thorns, lacerated with stripes, dying on the cross. These sorrows and sufferings were understood by the dullest soul, and told more than a thousand homilies. So with the Virgin. It was not that sainted mother of the Saviour, whom Protestants venerate, but do not worship ; it was the Mother of God, and entitled, like him, to adoration. It was a woman, and as such the object of those romantic feelings, which would profane the service of the Deity, but which are not the less touching, as being in accordance with human sympathies. The respect for the Virgin, indeed, partook of that which a Catholic might feel for his tutelar saint and his mistress combined. Orders of chivalry were dedicated to her service ; and her shrine was piled with more offerings, and frequented by more pilgrimages, than the altars of the Deity himself. Thus, feelings of love, adoration, and romantic honor, strangely blended, threw a halo of poetic glory, if we may so say, around their object, making it the most exalted theme for the study of the artist. What wonder, that this subject should have called forth the noblest inspirations of his genius ? What wonder, that an artist, like Raphael, should have found, in the simple portraiture of a woman and a child, the materials for immortality ?
It was something like a kindred state of feeling, which called into being the arts of ancient Greece, when her mythology was comparatively fresh, and faith was easy ; when the legends of the past, familiar as Scripture story at a later day, gave a real existence to the beings of fancy, and the artist, embodying these in forms of visible beauty, but finished the work which the poet had begun.
The Reformation brought other trains of ideas, and with them other influences on the arts, than those of Catholicism. Indeed, its first movements were decidedly hostile, since the works of art, with which the temples were adorned, being associated with the religion itself, became odious as the symbols of idolatry. But the spirit of the Reformation gave thought a new direction, even in the cultivation of art. It was no longer sought to appeal to the senses by brilliant display, or to waken the sensibilities by those superficial emotions, which find relief in tears. A sterner, deeper feeling was roused. The mind was turned within, as it were, to ponder on the import of existence and its future destinies. For the chains were withdrawn from the soul, and it was permitted to wander at large in the regions of speculation. Reason took the place of sentiment, — the useful of the merely ornamental. Facts were substituted for forms, even the ideal forms of beauty. There were to be no more Michael-Angelos and Raphaels, no glorious Gothic temples, which consumed generations in their building. The sublime and the beautiful were not the first objects proposed by the artist. He sought truth, — fidelity to nature. He studied the characters of his species, as well as the forms of imaginary perfection. He portrayed life, as developed in its thousand peculiarities before his own eyes ; and the ideal gave way to the natural. In this way, new schools of painting, like that of Hogarth, for example, arose, which, however inferior in those great properties for which we must admire the master-pieces of Italian art, had a significance and philosophic depth, which furnished quite as much matter for study and meditation.
A similar tendency was observable in poetry, eloquence, and works of elegant literature. The influence of the Reformation here, indeed, was undoubtedly favorable, whatever it may have been on the arts. How could it be otherwise on literature, the written expression of thought, in which no grace of visible forms and proportions, no skill of mechanical execution, can cheat the eye with the vain semblance of genius ? But it was not until the warm breath of the Reformation had dissolved the icy fetters which had so long held the spirit of man in bondage, that the genial current of the soul was permitted to flow; that the gates of reason were unbarred, and the mind was permitted to taste of the tree of knowledge, forbidden tree no longer. Where was the scope for eloquence, when thought was stifled in the very sanctuary of the heart ? For out of the fulness of the heart the mouth speaketh.
There might, indeed, be an elaborate attention to the outward forms of expression; an exquisite finish of verbal arrangement, the dress and garniture of thought. And, in fact, the Catholic nations have surpassed the Protestant in attention to verbal elegance and the soft music of numbers, to nice rhetorical artifice and brilliancy of composition. The poetry of Italy, and the prose of France, bear ample evidence how much time and talent have been expended on this beauty of outward form, the rich vehicle of thought. But where shall we find the powerful reasoning, various knowledge, and