« הקודםהמשך »
secret interview prearranged by Jesus, to which he took his three most intimate followers; while waiting, the disciples fall asleep ; on the arrival of the two visitors of Jesus, their talking awakes the disciples, who behold the party a little higher up the mountain enveloped in the rays of the rising sun, and mistake the visitors for Moses and Elias ; suddenly, before they recover from their surprise, a cloud descends and covers the men as they turn to depart, and one of them speaking out of the cloud is mistaken for a voice from heaven. Now, what strange romances, what a confusion of hypotheses, are these to. elevate into history. The narrative gives us a very simple account of a mira. culous occurrence, a light supernaturally irradiating Jesus, the visit to him of Moses and Elias, witnessed by his confidential disciples, and a distinct articulate voice from heaven; there is no storm, no thunder and lightning, no rosy cloud of the morning, no preconcerted interview with two unknown men ; all this is pleasant fiction, and may be admirable as ingenious invention ; but it has no other foundation than the imagination of the inventor.
In thus exhibiting what seems to us the exceeding weakness and the uncritical assumptions of the naturalistic method, we are far from saying that none of the Gospel marvellous stories have any foundation in fact. This would be to elevate our ignorance into fact in a manner quite as rash and uncritical as the method we have been describing. It is a remark of Strauss that when he says, with regard to any Gospel narrative, that he does not know what happened, he does not wish to understood to say that he knows nothing happened. It is of course admitted by all and is abundantly proved, that many most incredible narratives have a kernel of fact, and that any event which from any cause is exciting or impressive, is liable at any time, and especially in primitive epochs, to assume a more or less exaggerated and legendary garb. We only insist that it cannot be assumed that as much is true as can in any way be represented as possible ; and that, consequently, whatever fact there be in miraculous stories is not to be discovered and separated by the reduction of every incident to a natural place by means of suppositions and inventions, which have not for their support even the poor authority of the record, We will here give some remarks from Grote, the first volume of whose history of Greece is one of the best works that exist upon myths, though it is specially devoted to the Grecian myths. The historian says“ The utmost which we accomplish by means of the semi-historical theory, (naturalistic interpretation,] even in its most successful applications, is, that after leaving out from the mythical narrative all that is miraculous, or highcolored, or extravagant, we arrive at a series of credible incidents which may, perbaps, have really occurred, and against which no intrinsic presumption can be raised. This is exactly the character of a well written modern novel, (as for example, several among the compositions of De Foe), the whole story of which is such as may well have occurred in real life ; it is plausible fiction, and nothing beyond. To raise plausible fiction up to the superior dignity of truth, some positive testimony or positive ground of inference must be shown ;
even the highest measure of intrinsic probability is not alone sufficient. A man who tells that on the day of the battle of Platæa rain fell on the spot of ground where the city of New York now stands, will neither deserve nor obtain credit, because he can have had no means of positive knowledge, though the statement is not in the slightest degree improbable.” The historian furthermore remarks, that popular “belief is of little or no evidentiary vaiue, and that the growth and diffusion of it may be satisfactorily explained, without supposing any special basis of matters of fact. The popular faith, so far as it counts for anything, testifies in favor of the entire and literal myths, which are now universally rejected as incredible. We have thus the very minimum of positive proof and the maximum of negative presumption ; we may diminish the latter by conjectural omissions and interpolations, but we cannot by any artifice increase the former; the narrative ceases to be incredible, but it still remains uncertified—a mere commonplace possibility. Nor is fiction always or essentially extravagant or incredible. It is often not only plausible and coherent, but even more like truth, (if a paradoxical phrase may be allowed,) than truth itself. Nor can we in the absence of any extrinsic test, reckon upon any intrinsic mark to discriminate the one from the other.” (Hist. of Greece, Vol I, pp. 429-431, Amer. Ed.)
In the next article we shall take up the mythical system of interpretation.
OUR ROMAN CATHOLIC BRETHREN.
, mental principles of our government. All sects are and must be equal before the law. Our republic could not endure a day if this were not so. It was possible to keep a tenth part of our population in slavery while the other nine-tenths boasted of their freedom, but it will never be possible to impose ecclesiastical or religious restraints upon any part of our people, and still retain a republican form of government. All Christendom acknowledges the obligations to what is called the Lord's Day ; but the nature of these obligations differ very greatly in different countries. The day is observed here with Puritanical severity ; and it was because an attempt was made to compel the German element in our population to comply with this severity that the Republican party has lost its political ascendency in the States where the Germans are the most numerous.
The people are right to stoutly resist all at:empts at religious domination. The immediate moral consequences which result from any laws which are based upon religious beliefs are of very small importance compared with the danger to our liberties which must inevitably result from making the religious opinions of the law-maker the rule for his conduct. So far as human law goes one religion is just as good as another, just as true, just as divine, and just as essential to eternal salvation. In religion every man must be a law unto himself. We cannot deny to the Catholic, to the Mormon, to the Jew, or to the Methodist, the right which we claim for ourselves. We hold priests' vestments, and sacraments, and incense, at small valuation; we will have none of these things for ourselves, but we contend for the absolute and undisturbed right of others to enjoy them, who may religiously believe in them. All that we claim is that one religious sect shall have acceded to it no privileges or immunities which are not accorded to all. And it is necessary to our prosperity as a people, that we should jealously watch over our neighbors lest this golden rule be not strictly observed.
We believe that there are but two sources of danger from which there can be any cause for alarm. The Mormons, at present, are but a handful of people; but those who look carefully at their position, and have watched their wonderful growth, will not be likely to under-estimate the possible dan. ger that lurks in that remote settlement of resolute fanatics by the Great Salt Lake. Just now we have an equally dangerous, but a thousand times more powerful foe twined about us, and every day gaining upon us with such insidious advances, that we scarce perceive either its power or its magnitude. In the last two numbers of the Atlantic Monthly Magazine are two articles, under the head of “ Our Roman Catholic Brethren,” which are calculated to awaken very serious thoughts in the minds of many readers. The writer of these articles, who is understood to be James Parton, who has a singular aptitude for morbid subjects, which he has manifested by his biographies of Aaron Barr and of Horace Greeley, and who is understood to be at present engaged on a life of Voltaire, does not look upon the Roman Catholics with any apparent aisfavor. He merely treats from the picturesque and emotional point of view, and holds up for our admiration, the peculiar methods by which they contrive to first gain a firm footing in a community, and then to spread themselves.
The Roman Catholics, we must admit, are wise in their generation, and, if we acknowledge that the supremacy of their church is the greatest good to be achieved upon earth, as all Catholics profess to believe, why, then, they are entitled to our highest admiration. They sacrifice everything for that end, and as they know that nothing is so conducive to the security and power of the church and its priests, as the ignorance and degradation of the people, they are always and everywhere the implacable foes of education. In every age they find a Galileo to persecute; and wherever they send a priest they have a grand inquisitor. Wherever they are, they are the enemies of freedom, of progress, of culture, of civilization.
In this country they have always been the upholders of slavery ; they constitute the “right bower” of the Democratic party ; they were on the side of the rebels during the war, and they are the friends of all the apostate Johnsons. The rioters who burned Orphan Asylums during the war were only a mob of Irish Roman Catholics. Visit any of our prisons, in which you will see the name of the occupant of a cell, and his birth-place on the door, and you will find, in nine cases out of ten, it is the name of an Irish Roman Catholic. Read the closing scenes in the lives of the malefactors who pay the penalty of their crimes on the gallows, and you will find they were mostly attended by Roman Catholic Priests. “Spaniards ascend to Heaven!” was the salute addressed to some pirates in Britain by a Catholic priest, as the executioner led them to the scaffold.
Mr. Parton praises the sagacity which the Catholics have exhibited in New York in getting possession of valuable pieces of real estate, whereby their Church has been greatly enriched. Undoubtedly it was sagacious, but he did not tell what he ought to have known, that in many instances these desirable pieces of real estate were obtained by corrupt means from a corrupt Common Council, which was composed chiefly of Catholics. In New York, which Mr. Parton himself has shown in the North American Review, is one of the most thoroughly corrupt and rascally municipal governments in the world, the Roman Catholics have entire control. No man can be elected to any municipal office, or hold any governmental employment whatever, who is not either an Irish Roman Catholic or a suppie tool of the Catholics. They make inordinate demands on all other sects for help in their distresses, but they will never, under any circumstances, afford any aid to others. They are proselytizing, persecuting and intolerant ; and if they could have their way as a sect, no step would ever be taken by the human race out of the darkness and despair of ignorance and superstition. There seems but little probability of the Catholics ever becoming the ruling sect in the United States; but their increase is very rapid, and the liberty they enjoy here, and the political power which they already wield, renders it necessary that every check shall be placed upon them that is consistent with republican freedom. We cannot pass laws which shall discriminate against them, but what we can do is to refrain from giving any aid or encouragement to the propogation of their religious dogmas, and by careful teaching strive to neutralize the subtle influence which they exert over the minds of the great multitude who are always ready to yield to audacious self-assertion whether in religion or politics. Papacy means despotism and slavery; it means imperialism and the subjugation of the intellect; it means antagonism to any form of freedom. We have never yet had but one papist in a high national office, and that one, the always infamous Taney, when Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, declared that the black man had no rights which white men were bound to respect. Suppose a papist in the Presidential chair! What infinite damage to the cause of human freedom might and most certainly would be the consequence.
A Biograpbical Romance, from the German of Heribert Rau; by E. R. Sill.
New York: Leypolde & Holt. 1868. THERE WHERE is a prejudice against biographies in the minds of many people,
who have been wearied by the dull commonplaces that make up a large part of every life, and are interesting only to those immediately concerned in chem. When therefore the full meaning of a life, with many of its historic incidents, is presented in the form of a romance, it reaches the heart much sooner than any mere biography can. The author's aim in this romance is “ to bring closer to the heart of the German people one of its noblest sons.” We think he has succeeded in doing this, not only for the Germans, but for all who have the good fortuue to read the book. First, the child comes close to us, in the freshness of his wonderful young life, the musical development of which seems to be a continuation of his father's appreciation of music, one of the many instances of the hereditary transmission of such glorious birthright, a miracle that can never grow less wondrous by repetition, Mature as the boy of six or eight years was in his appreciation of music, he was childlike and natural in all else, and often astonished and almost shocked the great people into whose company his musical attainments introduced him, by the innocent freedom of his remarks to Emperors and Kings. On one occasion at the court of Maria Theresa, he said as he looked at the group of courtiers with his great wise eyes—“None of these people seem to me to know anything of music !”
“ Why so ?” asked Maria Theresa.
The Empress could not but laugh, and the company followed her example, but not at all heartily.
When the arch-duke asked the boy " whom he considered the greatest musician of past time,” he replied, “ The trumpeter who blew down the wails of Jericho.”
His is the old, old story of unappreciated genius, struggling always against poverty and disappointment, the positions and emoluments which would have added years to his life, being delayed until the hour of his death, and coming only in time for him to say, “it is too late."
Yet with all its scrrows and disppointments and sins, how beautiful a life was his! He whose soul is steeped in music has an existence unintelligible save only to the initiated. Though the outer life be troubled and dark, there is deep in sueh a heart a summer-land, whose warmth and fragrance are eternal. Mozırt began to live this double life while he was yet a child, and the marvellous performances of his early days—from the time when he wrote out from memory, in his fourteenth year, the Misere of Allegri after one hearing, were but the preiude to greater wonders iu his later years.