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He has consecrated these and his other propositions throughout all ages, by the words in which he concludes them. “ But this and every other ordinance should be so exercised, that, should any abuse ensue from it, it may be immediately abolished; as king Hezekiah broke and destroyed the brazen serpents, as soon as the children of Israel made an ill use of them. For all institutions should tend to the advancement of faith and love, and not to their prejudice. When they no longer do so, they should be instantly abolished. Ordinances are but exterior of things ; however excellent they may be, they are still liable to abuse; therefore, no ordinance is of any importance in itself, but all virtue, excellence, dignity, &c. consist in the right use of it.”
Luther also endeavoured, as far as he was able, to embody his ideas, and to adorn divine worship with holy songs. He, therefore, collected all the sacred poetry written by himself and others, adapting them for four voices. Some of the best melodies were his own composition. He did this with the view of leading the younger part of the community, whose education included music and the arts, from immoral songs, and turning their attention to more edifying subjects. Thus, the gospel was not designed to destroy the arts, but to employ them in the service of Him who formed and gave them to mankind. So far, therefore, from being an impediment to the advancement of the fine arts, the protestant religion was peculiarly favorable to their progress.
From this time, Luther devoted all his attention to the direction of the protestants, and to the support and encouragement of the princes and theologians. He had thrown down and built up, and all his thoughts were now turned to uphold and defend the edifice he had raised. The transactions and leagues, protestations and explanations, amongst the evangelical princes, at the diets of Spire, Ausburg, and Smalkald, have been therefore attributed to him. His principal works during this long period were, An Essay on Soldiers, À Memorial on the Turkish War, and his two Catechisms, which latter are of the utmost practical importance, on account of their great perspicuity, mildness, and solidity. The bloody period was now approaching, so long foreseen and announced by Luther, when the torch of war was to be kindled in the German empire. He did not survive this epoch. Luther died the death of a Christian, the 18th of May, 1546, at Eisleben, whither he had been called by the family of Mannsfeld, to act the part of an arbitrator. His body was carried to Wittemberg with great pomp, and interred in the Cathedral. The following inscription was placed upon his tomb :
Martini LvthERI, S. Theologiæ D. Corpvs
H. L. S. E.
M. II. D. x. An undeviating trust in God, a vivid feeling for all that is just, an eye fixed irrevocably on the hope of reward, a power of mind not to be fettered, and an unequalled decision of character, were the virtues of this great man. The qualities of his mind were great, his eloquence overwhelming. When we consider the time in which he lived, and the enemies to whom he was opposed, we shall be just even to his failings. Luther occupies a large space in history ; he not only produced a revolution in spiritual matters, but gave, as it were, a new impulse to the general knowledge of mankind. His works have been often collected by friends and foes, and he has been no less the object of exaggerated praise thạn the victim of unqualified condemnation. The collection now published of his works, the title of which is prefixed to this article, is the best; it contains all his works in German, and also his Latin ones translated into German. Neither should his Table Talk (of which a notice will be found in our Xth. No.) be wanting in a complete edition; they consist of his sayings and opinions, collected by many of his friends during his life time; and are distinguished by wit, humour, originality, and for German pithiness. Many will not meet with general approbation, for nothing is so open to censure and misconception as desultory remarks, detached from the subjects to which they owe their birth; and it is hardly fair to present unreservedly, to the eyes of the world, that, which was uttered in bitterness or jest before a few confidential friends. It is to be wished that Jo. Aurifaber, who first published them, had acted with greater circumspection ; but, since they are public property, Walch has done well in not rejecting them from his edition, where he has given a notice of them in the appendix. This edition is become very rare, but the celebrated theologian, D. de Wette, has promised to issue a new and more perfect one through the medium of the Riemerian press, at Berlin. The spirit of Luther still lives in Germany, and inspires and animates the German youth. The best testimony of the merit of this man was, that the noblest and worthiest of the German nation assembled themselves at Wartburg, after the successful struggle against Napoleon, to celebrate together the anniversary of the Reformation and their restoration to freedom. That which inspired the breast of Luther, burns in every uncorrupted German heart_Unity of Religion, of Country, and of Freedom !
Art. IV.-Nathan the Wise, a Dramatic Poem; translated from
the German of Lessing. 8vo. Norwich, 1791. Although we are compelled to tread closely on the heels of the present century, in reviewing the work before us, it is probable that it is at least as little known to the majority of our readers, as most of the productions of the last two hundred years, of equal or inferior merit. There seems but one way of accounting for its want of notoriety. It was written and published in the country. The connexions of the author with the literary circles of London seem to have been insufficient, at the time, to secure that notice for this, and his other works, which we think so eminently due to them; and it is not till of late years, that something like celebrity has attached to his translations, beyond the limits of the writer's province. It seems that literary reputation, which flies with the mail-coach in every direction from the capital, and carries down the fame of the last trashy novelist or poetaster, at the rate of eight miles an hour, to the remotest village in the island, travels backward at a different rate. A reputation, begun at Norwich, takes twenty years in reaching the metropolis ; and that, when backed by merit which, in the hands of a London bookseller, would have secured the sale of a third or fourth edition. It is our firm opinion that the author of this translation, like his fellow-citizen, Dr. Sayers, has sacrificed a considerable reputation, merely by printing his book a hundred miles from London.
Our attention has been particularly drawn to the translation before us, at the present time, by the strong feeling which is gradually growing up in England in favour of German literature. Within the space of one year, we have been presented with elaborate versions from two of the most distinguished works of the greatest living, if not the greatest of all German authors. We allude to Lord Gower's Faust, and the recent translation of Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship. We have seen Percy Shelley occupied in similar labours, and have read Dedications of Lord Byron to the “ Illustrious Goëthe.” This, then, is no casual whim. These are no paltry bookseller's translations at a shilling a page ; `no doing of mawkish novels from the original German, through the French, into the language of English chamber-maids, for the use of sentimental misses. This is a downright earnest undertaking to transplant into cultivated English the chef d'auvres of a nascent literature; which, in spite of ridicule and abuse from French, English, and Italian, is beginning to overshadow Eu
rope with at least “ the gloom of its glory;" and, whatever be its merits or defects, to force its way into the circle of European intellect. We have laughed at German long enough; it is now time to learn it.
Amongst the earliest students of this rising literature, and amongst the first, if not the first, of its English translators, the author before us is entitled to peculiar distinction, for his services in this new department of letters. Both for the priority and excellence of his translations, he merits the first sprig of laurel which will hereafter be decreed to the pioneers of German literature. To a knowledge of the language, we believe unequalled amongst our German scholars, he unites an originality of English style, a philosophical spirit, and a refined, though occasionally a peculiar, taste, which well qualified him for the task of introducing the new poetry into England. Of this, however, the reader will be better able to judge when he has finished our critique.
Of the original author of these poems, nothing need be said. It will be sufficient occupation to point out the merits which the work has retained in the hands of the translator.
In the story, for it can hardly be called the plot, of the drama, there is nothing new. In the days of the Sultan Saladin, Nathan, the rich Jew,
" of whom, 'twas said, he had found out the tombs
of Solomon and David, knew the word
Nathan, returning to Jerusalem, from a mercantile expedition to the East, found that his house had been burned down in his absence, and that his adopted daughter, Recha, had narrowly escaped from the flames, through the intrepidity of a young Christian captive. The girl bad been adopted by the Jew under singular circumstances. Eighteen years before the opening of the play, in one of the brutal massacres which, for the greater glory of the true faith, were perpetrated, from time to time, on the defenceless remnant of Israel,
“ the christians murdered every jew in Gath,
woman and child; and among these, his wife,
After three nights spent in dust and ashes, and weeping before his God, and cursing himself and the world, and vowing
unrelenting hatred to Christianity, Nathan the Jew arose and was comforted. Just then, a knight's squire dismounted at his gate, and presented to him a female infant, a few weeks old, wrapt in a mantle. The knight was Nathan's friend-a German by name, and married to the sister of Conrade, of Stauffen, a German Templar. He was suddenly compelled to make off to Gaza, whither the helpless child could not accompany him; and the mother had died a short time before. In spite of his previous vow, and his cruel sufferings, the virtuous Jew relented at the sight of the innocent Christian babe :
" he took the child,
From that day he brought up the child as his own; and, as she grew up under his eye, he contracted for the little Recha the affection of a father.-Full of gratitude to the deliverer of his adopted daughter, Nathan, as generous as he was rich, eagerly inquired for the captive Christian. He, however, had no sooner rescued the Jewish girl from the flames, than he disappeared. All they knew of him was, that he daily wandered in a neighbouring palm-grove, and wore the white robe of a Templar. Here, in a favourite phrase of the translator, Nathan “ found him up," and, in spite of his pride and moroseness, succeeded in conciliating him, and extracted the promise of a visit. The consequence of the visit it is scarcely necessary to mention. The Templar falls in love with the rich Jew's pretty daughter. In accordance with his headstrong temper, the knight immediately demands her in marriage. The Jew, however, hesitates, not on account of the difficulties which strike us at first sight-for Recha had been baptised-has all the time been brought up, if not a Christian, at least, not a Jewess; and even had it been otherwise, Nathan has no prejudices, and would as soon that his daughter had a Christian to her husband as another. The Templar's name was Conrade-Conrade of Stauffen. Why this should have given rise to Nathan's hesitation will appear hereafter.
The Templar grows furious at the refusal; which, it seems, is no less afflicting to a certain Christian lady’s-maid of Recha, who has been all along in possession of the secret of her adoption by the Jew, and who looked to a marriage with the knight as the only means of saving her mistress's soul. Impelled by her zeal in this behalf, Daya resolves to betray her master and benefactor, by communicating to the Templar the real state of Recha's relationship to Nathan. After many twinges of con