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tions of his own age, and on the opinions of some qualities which neither bard nor phimankind, seems,' says he, 'to have produc. losopher ever possessed, and the whole is ed, as is not unnatural, an exaggerated no subjected to the action of an energetic tion of his intellectual greatness.'* And will and powerful passions. Such are the he then proceeds to reduce it to assuredly minds which are destined to change the very moderate dimensions—founding his face of the world, to originate or control judgment principally on Luther's wri- great revolutions, to govern the actions of tings.
men by a sagacious calculation of motives, Now, if Mr. Hallam had been nothing or to govern their very thoughts by the magimore than a mere critic, we should not cal power of their eloquence. They are have wondered at such a decision. It the stuff out of which great statesmen, would have been as natural in that case to great conquerors, great orators, are made ; misinterpret the genius of Luther as for -by the last, however, not meaning the Mallet to write the life of Bacon and · for- mere ‘mob orator,' who attains and preget that he was a philosopher.' But when serves a powerful influence by just followwe reflect that Mr. Hallam is not a mere ing the multitude he appears to lead, and literary critic, and that whatsoever honors who, if popular, is popular in virtue of he
may have achieved in that capacity, are Swift's receipt for becoming a wise manyet inferior to those which he has attained that is, by agreeing with whatever any one as a philosophical historian, we confess our may tell you; we mean the man who, if astonishment at the low estimate he seems need be, can stem the torrent as well as to have formed of Luther's intellect. drift upon it; who, upon occasion, can
This seems to have arisen from contem- tell unpalatable truths and yet rivet attenplating Luther's character too exclusively tion. To be such an orator requires many in the point of view suggested by the literary of the qualities of the philosophical statesnature of the work on which the critic was man-the same deep knowledge of the meat the time engaged. It is true that the chanism of human nature in general, the Reformer's mind did not belong exclusive- same keen perception of the motives and ly, or even prevailingly, to either of the feelings of the so-conditioned humanity with two principal types with which we more which it has to deal, the same ready appreusually associate genius, and which almost ciation of the topics and arguments likely divide the page of literary history between to prevail, the same sagacity in calculating them. The one is the prevailingly philoso- moral causes and effects; and we need not phical temperament, with numberless spe- wonder, therefore, that the great statesman cific differences; the other the prevailingly and the persuasive orator have so osten poetical, with differences equally numer- been found united in the same individual. ous : the passion of the one class of minds Now, to achieve any of the great tasks is speculative and scientific truth—that of to which this class of minds seem born ; to the other, ideal beauty. Yet there is an- manage vast and difficult affairs with adother, and not less imposing form of human dress, and bring them to an unexpectedly genius, though it does not figure much on prosperous issue ; to know how to seize the the page of literary history, which has critical moment of action with proper demade men as illustrious as inan was ever cision, or to exercise patience and self-conmade, either by depth or subtlety of specu- trol in waiting for it; to penetrate the lation,-by opulence or brilliancy of fancy springs of human conduct, whether in the This class of minds unites some of the rar- genus or the individual; to sway the est endowments of the philosophical and minds of whole communities, as whole forpoetical temperaments; and though the ests bow at once before the voice of the temreason in such men is not such as would pest; to comprehend and calculate the inhave made an Aristotle, nor the imagina-teraction of numberless causes and effects; tion such as would have made a Homer, to originate and execute daring enterprises these elements are mingled in such propor- in the face of many obstacles, physical and tions and combinations as render the pro- moral, and not only in the midst of opposite duct-the tertium quid—not less wonder- wills and conflicting interests, but often by ful than the greatest expansion of either el. means of them—all this seems to us to imement alone. To these are superadded ply as wonderful a combination of intel
lectual qualities as that which enables the * Introduction to the Literature of Europe, vol. mathematical Analyst to disentangle the i. p.513.
intricacies of a transcendental equation, or
(SEPT the Metaphysician to speculate profoundly and Demosthenes would probably have on the freedom of the human will, or the been but an obscure expounder of the prinorigin of evil. Nor do those who have ciples of his own art. After making all albeen both authors and actors in the real lowances for the influence of education, drama of history, appear to us less worthy and conceding that it is difficult to calculate of our admiration than those who have but the condition of any mind under a different imagined what the former hive achieved. training, we are compelled to admit that There are, unquestionably, men who have there are cases, and those usually of minds been as famous for what they have done, pre-eminently great in a single department, as others have been or can be for what they where the native bias is so strong, that it is have written.
heyond the art of all the school-mastering It is precisely to such an order of genius in the world to alter it. - whatever his merits or defects as a wri- Earnestly contending that Luther's intelter—that the intellect of Luther is, in our lect is to be principally regarded in the judgment, to be referred; and, considered light we have indicated, we must yet profess in this point of view, we doubt whether it our belief, that even in a purely literary is very possible to exaggerate its greatness. point of view Mr. Hallam has done bim less In a sagacious and comprehensive survey of than justice. When we consider the poputhe peculiarities of his position in all the lar design of his writings, and that they rapid changes of his most eventful history; fulfilled it, many of their apparent defects in penetrating the characters and detecting will disappear; and when we consider the motives of those with whom he had to their voluminousness—the rapidity with deal; in fertility of expedients; in promp- which they were thrown off—and the overtitude of judgment and of action ; in nicely whelming engagements under the pressure calculating the effect of bold measures, es- of which they were produced, many defects pecially in great emergencies—as when he may well be pardoned. A word or two on burnt the Papal Bull, and appeared at the each of these topics. Diet of Worms; in selecting the arguments As to their character, they were chiefly likely to prevail with the mass of men, and designed ad populum-addressed to human in that contagious enthusiasm of character nature so-and-so conditioned; and whether which imbues and inspires them with a we look at what history has told us of the spirit like its own, and fills them with state of that public mind to which they apboundless confidence in its leadership ;- pealed, or to their notorious effects, we in all these respects, Luther does not ap- think it must be admitted that they were pear to us far behind any of those who have admirably calculated to accomplish their played illustrious parts in this world's af- purpose. We have already said that we fairs, or obtained an empire over the minds inust look in the mind of Luther for the of their species.
species of greatness which may fairly be And surely this is sufficient for one man. expected there; and not for one to which No one ever thinks the intellect of Peri- an intellect so constituted could make no cles or Alexander, Cromwell or Napoleon, pretensions. No man will challenge for inferior to the highest order, merely be him the praise of metaphysical subtlety, or cause neither of them has lest ingenious calmness of judgment in dealing with evitreatises of philosophy, or beautiful strains dence. To neither the one nor the other of poetry, or exhibited any of the traces surely can he lay claim, who flatters himeither of a calm or beautiful intellect. And self that he has found an escape from the in like manner it is enough for Luther to absurdities of transubstantiation in the be known as the author of the Reforma- equal absurdities of consubstantiation; or tion.
who thinks himself warranted in setting Such are the original limitations of the aside the evidence for the authenticity of human faculties, and so distinct the forms the Epistle of James, because he supposes of intellectual excellence, that it is at best he has found a sentence in it which contrabut one comparatively little sphere that dicts his interpretation of an Epistle of even the greatest of men is qualified to fill
. Paul—the authenticity of which has no Take him out of that, and the giant be- higher evidence. The class of intellects to
a dwarf—the genius a helpless which we have ventured to refer that of Luchangeling. Aristotle, though he wrote ther, are robust and sagacious rather than admirably on rhetoric, would have made, subtle or profound; litile fitted for the inwe fear, but an indifferent Demosthenes; vestigation of abstract truth, and impatient
of whatever is not practical; better adapted exquisitely adapted to its object and well for a skilful advocacy of principles than for worthy of the highest admiration. They calm investigation of them, and little soli- are the complements of each other, and citous, in their exhibition, of philosophic neither can be perfect alone. precisiou, or theoretic completeness. Seiz- in heari,' says Solomon, shall be called ing with instinctive sagacity those points prudent, but the sweetness of the lips inwhich are best calculated to influence the creaseth learning.' Truth at the bottom of common mind, they are not very ambitious her well is of about as much use as water (even if they could attain it) of the praise there, and is of very little use without some of a severely logical method. But they appliances to bring it to the lips of the well know how to do that for which in his thirsty. turn the mere philosopher would find him- We must bear such considerations in self strangely incapacitated. They estimate mind if we would do such a man as Luther precisely the measure of knowledge or of justice in the perusal of his controversial ignorance, the prejudices and the passions of writings. We must recollect that they were those with whom they have to deal, and most of them composed pro re nata, -for pitch the whole tone of argument in unison the purpose of impressing the popular mind with it. They judge of arguments, 'not so in given circumstances in an age of great much by their abstract value, or even by ignorance, barbarism and coarseness. We the degree of force they may have on their are at best not altogether qualified to judge own minds, as by the relation in which they how far they were wisely adapted to their are likely to be viewed by others : if neces- end; but we are convinced that the more sary, they prefer even a comparatively carefully the whole relations of Luther and feeble argument, if it can be made readily his age are studied, the more they will be intelligible, and be forcibly exhibited, to a found to justify his general sagacity, and stronger one, if that stronger one be so re- the less reason will they leave us to wonder fined as to escape the appreciation of the at their astonishing success. common mind.
Even his positive faults—as, for examAnd such topics they treat with a vivaci- ple, his violence of invective and his excesty and vehemence of which a philosopher sive diffuseness—which we do not deny would be as incapable as he would be dis- flowed in a great measure, the one from gusted with the method. He is but too the vehemence of his nature, and the other apt, when he assumes the uncongenial of from the haste with which he wrote-were fice of a popular instructor, to generalize often deliberately committed by him as particular statements into their most ab- most likely to answer his purpose. We stract expression; he resembles the mathe-should hesitate to state this, were it not for matician, who is not satisfied till he has Luther's repeated and explicit declarations clothed the determinate quantities of arith- on this very point, in his Letters. We metic in the universal symbols of algebra; should hesitate, because we are jealous of he must assign each argument its place, that biographical prejudice which will still not according to its relative weight, but ac- find out that the object of its blind eulogy cording to his own notions of its abstract had some deep design even in the veriest conclusiveness; he must adopt the only blunders; and that foibles and failings not method which philosophical precision de- only leaned to virtue's side, but were mands, and to violate it would be more themselves virtues. than his fastidious taste can prevail upon In both the above points, Luther unitself to concede to that vulgar thing—the questionably has sins enough to answer for, practical.
and is, we freely acknowledge, as often tediIt is not necessary to institute any com- ous and inelegant as offensively coarse. parison as to the comparative value or dig. Still, though it may be thought that we are nity of the functions of those whose calm defending his sagacity at the expense of intellect best qualifies them to investigate things quite as valuable-his taste and truth, and of those whose prerogative it is good feeling-nothing is clearer, from his to make it triumph, not only over the on- own admissions, than that he often commitderstandings of men, but over their imagi- ted these faults of set purpose, and with his nations and affections; to give it a vivid eyes wide open. Thus for the diffuseness presence in the heart. It suffices that nei- of certain compositions, he apologizes in his ther class can be fully equipped for their Letters (No. 32 and No. 134,) because they high tasks without a mental organization were designed for the 'rudest ears and un
derstandings.' To the common mind of It is not uninstructive to hear Luther in his day, truths which are to us truisms— some of his Letters defending on plan the which will hardly bear the briefest expres- vehemence of his invective. "I am detersion—which, in fact, are so familiar that mined,' he says in his reply to King Henry, they are forgotten-were startling novelties. 'to assume, day by day, a loftier and loftier The populace required, in his judgment, tone against these senseless little tyrants,
line upon line, and precept upon precept;' and to meet their madness with a madness not only 'here a little, and there a little, like their own.'. 'I suppress many things,' but here, and there, and every where a he writes to Spalatin as early as 1519, . for great deal. The same apology is required the sake of the Elector and the University, for the diffuseness of other theologians of which I would otherwise pour out against that day, of far severer intellect and much Rome—that destroyer alıke of Scripture more elegance-Calvin and Melancthon, and the Church. It cannot be that the for example. As to his arrogant tone and truth respecting either can be treated withrude invective, though both were natural out giving offence to that wild beast. Do expressions of the enthusiasm and vehe- not hope that I shall keep quiet and safe, mence of his character, they were also sys- unless you wish to see me abandon theolotematically adopted, and were both no gy altogether. Let your friends think me doubt upon the whole most subservient to mad if they will.'*
*What is it to me,' his purpose. Timidity and irresolution he says to Spalatin in his account of the would have been his ruin. On the other Leipsic disputation—what is it to me if I hand, his self-reliance and fearlessness-speak rashly and offensively, if I but speak the grandeur and dilation of his carriage-truth, and that Catholic truth? .. his very contempt of his adversaries—all Why, it was always so; truth has ever been tended to give courage and confidence to rash, bitter, seditious, offensive. those who possessed them not, and to in- What is it to me that the 'Thomists are of spire his party with his own spirit. His fended with truth? It is sufficient for me voice never failed to act like a trumpet-call that it is neither heretical nor erroneous.'t upon the hearts of his followers—io reas- I know,' he says to Spalatin in 1522, sure them when depressed, and to reanimate that whatever I might write against the them when defeated. No other tone, no King of England would offend many, but I other language could have had the same chose to do it-sed ita placuit mihi-and effect. Considering his position, there is a many causes rendered it necessary.'! And sort of sublimity in his audacity. I know to another friend (unknown) in August of and am certain,' says he to Spalatin, the same year, he says, My gracious (1521,) 'that Jesus Christ our Lord lives prince and many other friends have often and reigns, and, buoyant in this knowledge admonished me on this subject : but my and confidence, I will not fear a hundred answer is that I will not comply, nor thousand Popes.'' My doctrines will stand,'ought I. My cause is not a cause of middle says he the following year in his reply to measures, (ein mittel-handel,) in which one King Henry, and the Pope will fall in may concede or give way, even as I, like a spite of all the powers of air, earth, hell. fool, have hitherto done.'s. Few readers They have provoked me to war; they shall of Luther, however, will think there was have it. They scorned the peace I offered much reason for this self-accusation. them-peace they shall have no longer. It will not be supposed for a moment God shall look to it; which of the two shall that we are the apologists of his too habitufirst retire from the struggle—the Pope or al virulence and ferocity of invective. Not Luther? Five hundred such expressions even the spirit of the age can form an apolmight be cited. On the whole, we are dis- ogy for them; though in all fairness it posed to acquiesce in the judgment of Dr. ought to be remembered, that so completely Waddington as expressed on another occa- were these offensive qualities of controversion. 'I have no question,' says he, that sy characteristic of it, that then, and long the cause of Luther was, upon the whole, after, they were exhibited by men who had advanced and recommended even by the neither Luther's vehement passions, nor his temerity of his unsparing invective; and provocations to plead in exienuation ; often that, had he given less offence to his ene- so unconsciously, indeed, that the refined mies, he would have found less zeal, less
* De Wette, vol. i. p. 260. courage, and far less devotion in his
+ Ibid vol i p 500 301 friends. *
Ibid. vol ii p. 244. § Ibid. p. 244. History of the Reformation, vol. ii. p. 32.
and equable Thomas More imitates and effective in real eloquence; and in intensity transcends the Reformer's coarseness even and vehemence of passion, even Demosthewhile he reproves il.
nes was not his superior. His native lanBut whatever the defects and inequalities guage he wrote with the utmost force; and of Luther's writings, there is one quality when he pleased, none could express himnot unsparingly displayed, which ought to self with a more pregnant brevity. To the have protected him from so mean an esti- continuous excellence, the consummate mate as Mr. Hallam seems to have formed taste, the exquisite finish, the minute graces we mean his eloquence—for which he was of him who' fulmined over Greece,' Lufamed by all his contemporaries-which ther, it is true, had no pretensions--as inhe was not grudgingly admitted to possess deed might be expected, considering the even by his enemies—and which still lives circumstances and the age in which his inin numberless passages of his writings to tellect was developed ; but in every part of justify their eulogiums. Yet Mr. Hallam his controversial works, most frequently says, that in his judgment, Luther's Latin in his brieser writings, as in his ' Appeal to works, at least, are not marked by any a future Council,' his Babylonish Captivi. striking ability, and still less by any im- ty,' and his appeal to the German Nobility,' pressive eloquence!' Surely he must have and not least in his Letters, occur frequent been thinking only of the moderate Latini- bursts of the most vivid and impassioned elty when he used the last expression ; for oquence. He abounds in passages, which, unquestionably the soul of eloquence is of even at this distance of time, make our ten there, however rugged the form. Far hearts throb within us as we read them. more justly speaks Frederick Schlegel Such is the expression with which he defied ‘Luther,' says he, 'displays a most original the sentence of excommunication. As. eloquence, surpassed by few names that they have excommunicated me in desence of occur in the whole history of literature. their sacrilegious heresy, so do I excommuHe had, indeed, all those properties which nicate them on behalf of the holy truth of render a man fit to be a revolutionary ora- God; and let Christ, our judge, decide tor.' If this be so, the intellect of Luther whether of the two excommunications has must be regarded as one of the rarest phe- the greater weight with him. Such is that which appear
in the world of memorable sentence with which he dropped mind. Such, at least, has been hitherto the Papal Bull into the flames, and which, the uniform judgment of criticism. To even from his lips, would, a few years bepossess a genius for consummate eloquence fore, have thrilled the assembled multitudes is always considered to imply intellectual with horror. “As thou hast troubled and excellence of the highest order; and if we put to shame the Holy One of the Lord, so judge either by the rarity with which it is be thou troubled and consumed in the eterbestowed, or consider how various, how ex- nal fires of hell.' Such, above all, is that quisitely balanced and adjusted are the noble declaration with which he concluded powers which must equip the truly great— his defence at Worms. 'Since your majesty the first-rate-orator, we shall see no reason requires of me a simple and direct answer, to quarrel with this judgment. So peculiar I will give one, and it is this; I cannot are the required modifications and combi- submit my faith either to popes or councils, nations of intellect, imagination, and pas- since it is clear as noon-day that they have sion, that it may be pretty safely averred often erred, and even opposed one another. we shall as soon see the reproduction of an If, then, I am not confuted by Scripture or Aristotle as a Demosthenes.
by cogent reasons ... I neither can nor All the prime elements of this species of will retract any thing; for it cannot be mental power, Luther seems to have pos- right for a Christian to do any thing sessed in perfection. We have admitted against his conscience. Here I stand ; I that he had not a mind well fitted for the cannot do otherwise ; God help me.' This investigation of abstract truth; but he had eloquence, indeed, is transient; it flashes what was to him of more importance, great out, like the lightning, for an instant, and practical sagacity, and vast promptitude again withdraws into the cloud. But it is and vigor of argument. His imagination, the lightning that blasts and scathes wherthough as little solicitous about the abstract- ever it strikes. ly beautiful, as his reason about the abstract- The infuence which Luther's eloquence ly speculative, was fertile of those brief, exerted over his contemporaries is testified, homely, energetic images which are most not only by the deference with which he