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terwek had the department of poetry and polite letters, Sprengel of anatomy and medicine, Kästner of the mathematical sciences, Buhle of speculative philosophy, and Heeren of classical philology; Eichhorn's History of Literature in six volumes; the works of Tiraboschi, Corniani and Ginguéné, on Italian literature; Warton's History of English Poetry; the philosophical works of Brucker and Tennemann; the French works of Montucla, Portal, Bayle, Niceron, and the Biographie Universelle; Chalmers's English Biographical Dictionary, etc.
The first chapter of the work is on the general state of literature in the Middle Ages to the end of the 14th century. The last of the ancients, and one who forms a link between the classical period of literature and that of the Middle Ages, in which he was a favorite author, was Boethius, a man of fine genius, whose Consolation of Philosophy was written in prison, shortly before his death. Thenceforward the downfall of learning and eloquence was inconceivably rapid. A state of general ignorance lasted about five centuries. Ă slender but living stream, however, kept flowing on in the worst times. Guizot and Hallam agree in the opinion that the seventh century is the nadir of the human mind in Europe. Its movement in advance began in the 8th century, with Charlemagne. England soon furnished names of considerable importance in Theodore, Bede, and Alcuin. Cathedral and conventual schools were created or restored by Charlemagne, which produced happy fruits under his successors. It is the most striking circumstance in the literary annals of the Middle Ages, that they are more deficient in native genius than in acquired ability. There was a tameness, a mediocrity, a servile habit of copying from others. Only two extraordinary men stand out from the crowd in literature and philosophy-Scotus Erigena and Gerbert. At the beginning of the 12th century, we enter on a new division in the literary history of Europe. The most important circumstances which tended to arouse Europe from her lethargy were the institutions of universities, and the methods pursued in them; the cultivation of the modern languages, followed by the multiplication of books, and the extension of the art of writing; the investigation of the Roman law; and the return to the study of the Latin language in its purity. Collegiate foundations in universities seem to have been derived from the Saracens. At the year 1400, we find a national literature subsisting in seven European languages, three spoken in the Spanish peninsula, the French, the Italian, the German, and the English. The 14th century was not in the slightest degree superior to the preceding age in respect to classical studies. The first real restorer of polite letters was Petrarch.
Mr. Hallam, in his second chapter, treats of the literature of Europe from 1400 to 1440. The latter of these periods is nearly coincident with the complete development of an ardent thirst for classi
cal, especially Grecian, literature in Italy, as the year 1400 was
the fictions of the middle ages. In the first part of the 15th century, we find three distinct currents of religious opinion, the high pretensions of the Roman church to a sort of moral, as well as theological infallibility, and to a paramount authority even in temporal affairs ; second, the councils of Constance and Basle and the contentions of the Gallican and German churches against the encroachments of the holy see, had raised up a strong adverse party ; third, the avowed heretics, such as the disciples of Wiclif and Huss. Thomas à Kempis’s De Imitatione Christi is said to have gone through 1800 editions, and to have been read, probably, more than any work after the Scriptures.
The third chapter embraces the literature of Europe from 1440 to 1500. About 1450, Laurentius Valla gives us the earliest specimens of explanations of the New Testament founded on the original languages of Scripture. The capture of Constantinople, in 1453, drove a few learned Greeks to hospitable Italy. About the end of the 14th century, impressions were taken from engraved blocks of wood, sometimes for playing cards, which came into use not long before that time ; sometimes for rude cuts of saints. Gradually entire pages were impressed in this manner, and thus be. gan what are called block-books, printed in fixed characters, but never exceeding a very few leaves. The earliest book printed from the movable types of Gutenberg is generally believed to be the Latin Bible, commonly called the Mazarin Bible. This appears to have been executed in 1455. An almanac for 1457 has been de. tected. From 1470 to 1480, 1297 books were printed in Italy, of which 234 are editions of ancient classics. The first Hebrew book, Jarchi’s Commentary on the Pentateuch, was printed in Italy in 1475. The whole Hebrew Bible was printed in Soncino in 1488. Several distinguished men now arose such
as Politian, Picus of Mirandola, Reuchlin and Lionardo da Vinci. Erasmus and Budaeus were now devoting incessant labor to the acquisition of the Greek language. Erasmus's Adages, printed at Basle in 1500, was doubtless the chief prose work of the century beyond the limits of Italy. It is certain Vol. XI. No, 29.
that much more than ten thousand editions of books or pamphlets were printed from 1470 to 1500. More than half of the number appeared in Italy. The price of books was diminished by four fifths after the invention of printing.
The fourth chapter treats of the literature of Europe from 1500 to 1520. Leo X. became pope in 1513. He began by placing men of letters in the most honorable stations of his court. There were two, Bembo and Sadolet, who had by common consent reached a consummate elegance of style. The personal taste of Leo was almost entirely directed towards poetry and the beauties of style. We owe to him the publication of the first five books of the Annals of Tacitus. In 1514, above 100 professors received salaries in the Roman university or gymnasium. Erasmus diffuses a lustre over his age, which no other name among the learned supplies. His Greek Testament was published in 1516. More's Utopia was the only work of genius furnished by England in this age.
In treating of the Reformation, Mr. Hallam, as it seems to us, does great injustice to Luther: "The doctrines of Luther," he remarks, "taken altogether, are not more rational, that is, more conformable to what men, à priori, would expect to find in religion, than those of the church of Rome; nor did he ever pretend that they were so. As to the privilege of free inquiry, it was of course exercised by those who deserted their ancient altars, but certainly not upon any latitudinarian theory of a right to judge amiss. Nor again, is there any foundation for imagining that Luther was concerned for the interests of literature. None had he himself, save theological; nor are there, as I apprehend, many allusions to profane studies, or any proof of his regard to them, in all his works. On the contrary, it is probable that both the principles of this great founder of the Reformation, and the natural tendency of so intense an application to theological controversy, checked for a time the progress of philological and philosophical literature on this side the Alps." Again: "In the history of the Reformation, Luther is incomparably the greatest name. We see him, in the skilful composition of Robertson, the chief figure of a groupe of gownsmen, standing in contrast on the canvass with the crowned rivals of France and Austria, and their attendant warriors, but blended in the unity of that historic picture. This amazing influence on the revolutions of his own age, and on the opinions of mankind, seems to have produced, as is not unnatural, an exaggerated notion of his intellectual greatness. It is admitted on all sides, that he wrote his own language with force and purity; and he is reckoned one of its best models. The hymns in use with the Lutheran church, many of which are his own, possess a simple dignity and devoutness, never, probably, excelled in that class of poetry. But from the Latin works of Luther few readers, I believe, will rise without disappoint
ment. Their intemperance, their coarseness, their inelegance, their scurrility, their wild paradoxes, that menace the foundations of religicus morality, are not compensated, so far at least as my slight acquaintance with them extends, by much strength or acuteness, and still less by any impressive cloquence." "The total want of selfrestraint [in Luther], with the intoxicating effects of presumptuousness, is sufficient to account for aberrations, which inen of regular minds construe into actual madness."
These extraordinary statements of Hallam are in keeping with remarks in his previous works. In his anxiety to avoid the partizanship, as he describes it, of such men as Isaac Milner, he falls, as it seems to us, into the opposite extreme. Luther comes out from his hands shorn of nearly all his honors, an ignorant, furious, exacerbated monk, who, if he could have had his way, would have involved the world in a Protestant midnight. But Hallam's statements seem to be a little inconsistent with themselves. Luther wrote and spoke German with great perfection. He composed numerous excellent hymns, which is certainly a rare gift. He made a most excellent translation, as all acknowledge, of the Bible from the original Hebrew and Greek into German-a translation which is to German literature what our authorized translation is to English-a standard of the tongue. Surely Luther must have had some philology, some common sense, some judgment, to have made a translation, with the slight helps which he had, which created a language, and whose merit is fully acknowledged by such writers as the Roman Catholic, Frederic Schlegel. That Luther was an opponent of the study of the Greek and Latin profane writers is news to us. Hallam appears to receive all the splenetic remarks of Erasmus as indubitable proof. Erasmus with all his learning and wit, had more sympathy, we fear, with Horace than with Paul, and, in his latter days, is one of the last sources to which we should apply for correct information in regard to Luther. In another passage, Hallam speaks of Luther as one whose "soul was penetrated with a fervent piety, and whose integrity as well as purity of life are unquestioned." Again, he writes of the total absence in him of self-restraint, which it would be difficult to reconcile with fervent piety. We have been accustomed to regard self-government as one of the most important parts of eminent piety. Hallam gives a wholesale opinion of Luther's Latin works, while he confesses that he has but a slight acquaintance with them. Hundreds of passages in those works have impressive eloquence, if they have nothing else. "The best authorities," says Hallam," for the early history of the Reformation are Seckendorf Hist. Lutheranismi, and Sleidan Hist. de la Réformation, in Courayer's French translation." Hallam makes no allusion to the great work of J. G. Planck, incomparably the best work on the Protestant side, and very candid and impartial also. "From Luther's German
translation, and from the Latin Vulgate, the English one of Tyndale and Coverdale, published in 1535 or 1536, is avowedly taken." On the contrary there is satisfactory proof that Tyndale translated from the original Greek and Hebrew. How far Coverdale was acquainted with Hebrew does not appear.
The fifth chapter of the work before us treats of the history of ancient literature in Europe from 1520 to 1550. The labors of Sadolet, Bembo, Erasmus, Budaeus, Camerarius, Gesner and others, are passed briefly in review. The sixth chapter is occupied with the theological literature which we have partly anticipated in our notice of Luther. Of the Colloquies of Erasmus, which had an important bearing on the Reformation, 24,000 copies were sold in a single year. Reference is here had to the Institutes of Calvin, to the Loci Communes of Melancthon, the sermons of Latimer, etc. "It may not" says the author, " be invidious to surmise, that Luther and Melancthon serve little other purpose, at least in England, than to give an occasional air of erudition to a theological paragraph, or to supply its margin with a reference that few readers will verify." We know not but that such is the case in England. We should infer it from the ignorance of our author himself on the subject, but the remark does not hold good on the continent nor in the United States. The whole works of Luther are frequently imported into this country. Large editions of his Commentary on the Galatians have been published. A new and complete edition of Melancthon is now coming out in Germany under the charge of Bretschneider. Three editions of Calvin's Commentaries on the New Testament have been sold in Germany and this country within six or eight years. Even in England, within two years past, an edition of Calvin on Romans, and of Luther on Galatians has been printed.
The seventh chapter contains the history of speculative, moral and political philosophy, and of jurisprudence, in Europe, from 1520 to 1550. In speculative philosophy, we have Paracelsus, Agrippa, and Jerome Cardan; in political and moral philosophy, Calvin, Melancthon, Erasmus, Thomas Elyot, Cortegiano and especially Nicolas Machiavel. Hallam's estimate of Machiavel is very able and discriminating. Machiavel's Discourses may now be read with great advantage, especially as the course of civil society tends further towards democracy. His works must, however, be read with large deductions. His History of Florence is enough to immortalize his name.
The eighth chapter contains the history of the literature of taste; and the ninth, of scientific and miscellaneous literature in Europe from 1520 to 1550. Though these chapters contain, like other parts of the volume, many interesting facts, and not a few profound observations, yet our limits preclude any further quotation or reference.
We will only remark, that the edition of the Middle Ages by the Harpers, is brought out in excellent taste, and makes one very con