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see that his whole life was a school, in which it was" his only fault that he profited too well? All these circumstances were not a-w-hit less influential for having acted on their subject three hundred years ago. Doubtlessthey moulded him as really,'as we see circumstances moulding men cone tinually now. It may indeed be true, that he would have held the height of virtue had he conquered‘h-is- fate; but certainly he did not explore the depth of baseness in confessing its power. "Comprehensiversurveying his career, our wonder that with such noble occasions he accomplished so little, might almost give way to wonder that, with such hostile temptations, he accomplished so much.
~ -A master idelineator of human life has condensed the character and=misfortune of a Roman Emperor into these pregnant words: Omnium' conse'rwu capaa: imperial m'siimperasset. ‘He certainly owes a large debtof pious gratitude to Providence, who, in taking his farewell of life, remembers no occasion when he stood in the awful presence of a responsibility, that abashed him with the token of its own superi— ority. Let one but have -: fortunately fulfilled what his various positions expected, and he may rest in perfect se
will sing a' thousand songs of yet nobler powers, that Waited in vain" for worthy opportunity of-‘exercise. - Far otherwise fares it with the man whose pathway- leads him into- the shadow of some great responsibility,vwhich fairly overtops his utmost stature. All is thenceforth the intensest reality. His dimensions are exactly computed, not in figures of rheé toric, but in figures of arithmetic. ‘ImaginatiOn no longer delights herself withithefictiori of- magnificent possibilities, and‘histo‘ryi recording his successes, defines them with" his failures. ' I v > ''AV sentiment kindred withthe Latin historian’s has all alorig,>We ‘confess, been inspired by the haunting genius of Erasmus. The misfortune of Galba was his also—he attempted affairs that proved too great fer him.- It is easy now to imagine how his horoscope might have been cast, with a thousand conjectures that would illustrate the biography of his age with a very different Erasmus. He cannot, to be sure, maintain that the times made him what he was—nor even that they repres;nt him untruly; but he may with justice complain that they represent him too faithfully. They were “times that tried men’s souls.” No one who was worth looking at could hope to escape being known. It was all one “gaudy, babbling, and remorseless day," that blazoned the characters of men with perfectly indiscriminate illumination. No beauty and no deformity was permitted to lurk in the shade. It will be apparent to every one, that had Erasmus fallen on more quiet days, he might have surrendered himself wholly to the behoof of letters, winning the grateful and delighted admiration of man: kind—and no one, except a private circle of acquaintances, (with whom the secret would die,) have been able to guess that his character was compounded of so many frailties. He might then even have been thought capable of being a reformer.
Thus much of Erasmus the man. We turn for a moment to the scholar Erasmus, with an unafl'ected sense of relief.
If sterner words are expected by justice from the histow rian of religion, the historian of literature would have been obviously wrong, had he foreborne to declare that no other name sheds such lustre on his country and age as the name of Erasmus. We join our grateful assent. We are heartily glad to record, that in his literary fame we detect the presence of scarce an alloy. We instinctively choose henceforth to believe that in the scholar, and not in the man, we have found our true Erasmus. It is in this character that, with a benediction not less for the sake of mankind than his own, we would commend him to immortality.
We have reserved to ourselves little room, save for mere generalities, in- speaking of his literary influence; but it may be expected that we should say something of his relation to the Greek Testament. This we do with a consciousness that, in the view of those whose acquaintance with the subject is superficial, we may seem to be qualifying rather than heightening our eulogy. The truth is, the Text of the New Testament owes the least possible to the critical labors of Erasmus. He may properly enough be called the pioneer in the work—though the idea of his edition appears to have originated with his publisher, Froben, who applied to him for his services, instead of with himself ; but he had not the good fortune to forestall the improvements of several hundred years, as in similar cases pioneers have sometimes almost done. Indeed, he failed apparently to conjecture what notable opportunity for the display of diligent scholarship the undertaking afi'orded. Obedient to the importunity of his calculating publisher, he despatched the business—— recension, paraphrase, commentary, supervision of the press —all in eight months, besides forwarding an edition of J erome already in hand. He says himself, Praecipitatum fuit verius quam editum. His materials were exceedingly defective, consisting of four incomplete MSS., with a “ manuscript of Theophylact, containing the Greek Text and his Commentary on the Gospels, Acts and Epistles.” These circumstances were quite sufficient to account, without dishonor to Erasmus, for the unsatisfactory character of his first edition. But had he conceived adequately of the importance of his enterprise, he would assuredly have exerted himself, as there is no evidence that he ever did, better to approve his learning and fidelity in subsequent editions. Notwithstanding every deduction, however, that candor requires to be made, the praise of Erasmus for his services to the New Testament cannot be otherwise than very great. His fifth edition, by the simple authority, as it would seem, of his illustrious name, furnishing the basis of what is com— monly known as the Received Text,—has continued, down to'a recent date, to exercise a commanding influence on every succeeding reissue of the Greek Testament. “ The past at least is secure.” Nothing can by any peradventure rob Erasmus of the renown which attaches to the man whose privilege it was to give the first sight of the original Greek of the New Testament to the learned eyes of the sixteenth century.
His flexile genius, his varied learning, his Attic taste, his refined wit, his shrewd good sense, his nice tact, his un
wearying industry, above all, his liberal spirit, remarkably anticipated in themselves, by several centuries, a state of elegant culture, which they also contributed largely to realize. A recluse scholar among men of the world, and a man of the world among recluse scholars, he may be considered the earliest of that succession of interpreters between high education and the masses of the people, who have already done so much toward making education popular, andthe people educated. To him belongs the honor of first worthily inaugurating the art of critical classic editorship.' From seed thus modestly deposited, has sprung the whole modern science of Philology, which is bearing such magnificent fruit before our eyes. Enough has been implied in preceding pages of this article, to indicate the cotemporary estimation in which he was held. No man was ever equally an autocrat in the world of letters; and because his autocracy was exercised as beneficially for the world of letters, as the Czar Peter’s was for Russia, no man can ever become so again. Fortunate in the moment of his advent as a scholar, he has impressed the modern literary age, as an early legislator impresses a rising State. His influence lives through all the influence of the Revival of Learning. It will enjoy a fresh reprieve from decay in every generous result which that great event has rendered possible.
Am. II.—RELIGIOUS PEBSECUTION IN VIRGINIA. [courmunn]
WITHOUT stopping to considerthe causes which had sunk the Episcopal Church, we will give the testimony of Mr. Davies, whom Dr. Hawks “ deemed an unexceptionable witness/J and who, as he says, “manifested n0'bigoted'pre-' judice against the Church,” about the actual 00ndition of the Establishment during the first half of the eighteenth century. “ Had the doctrines of the Gospel,” says he, “ been solemnly and faithfully preached in the Established Church, I am persuaded there would have been but few dissenters in these parts of Virginia ; for their first objections were not against the peculiar rites and- ceremonies of that Church, much less against her excellent articles, but against the general strain of the doctrines delivered from the pulpit, in which these articles were opposed, or (which was the more common case) not mentioned at all.”
Among those who staid away from this kind of preaching. was a. man named Morris, residing in the county of Hanover, who read Bunyan and Whitefield, and some of Luther’s tracts, and being asked to what denomination he belonged, by those who arraigned him for absence from the Established Church, ignorantly replied that he was a Lutheran. In 17 43 he learned to call himself a Presbyterian, from Mr. Robinson, a minister sent by the Presbyterians' of Pennsylvania. Other Presbyterian ministers, coming from the same region, preached with a zeal and earnestness which not only attracted the attention of the people, but of Governor Gooch, who sent an address to the Grand Jury, mainly directed at these daring intruders. He, who is said to have been mild and popular, save his bigotry, relying on the accounts given him, spoke of the new-comers as “ false teachers, without order or license, under the pretended in— fluence of new light and extraordinary impulse, and such