Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

and nonsense. No work coming out under the patronage of the American Peace Society could by any possibility be really worth reading. We dislike war, and disliked the Mexican war in particular; but not for the nonsensical reasons set forth by your namby pamby peace men, your Worcesters, Ladds, Burritts, and Cobdens. Mr. Livermore is a Unitarian minister, a man of respectable attainments and commendable industry ; but he is a philanthropist, that is, the lover of man in general, and the hater of all men in particular, - unless they chance to be rogues and criminals. Leave your philanthropy, man, and learn charity, the good, oldfashioned Christian virtue of charity, and then you may write things that it will not sicken a sober man to read.

14. Circassia, or a Tour to the Caucasus. By G. L. Ditson,

Esq. New York : Stringer & Townsend. 1850. 8vo. pp. 453.

This is a work of lofty pretensions, but of feeble performance. Who the author is we know not, and have no wish to know. His style is inflated, stilted, and altogether uncivilized, and his book tells us very little which we could not have learned without going out of the room in which we are now writing. The author, it appears, entered two or three huts in Circassia, saw a woman or two with breasts uncovered and with bare and dirty feet. This is about all the addition he makes 10 our previous knowledge of the Cau. casians. Yet, though the reader is every moment on the point of throwing the book in the fire, he continues to read on to the end. Why, he can hardly explain to himself. If the author had more simplicity, if he made fewer pretensions, and retained some re. spect for religion and morals, we are not sure but he might write a very pleasing book of travels. Even while he disgusts us, he throws a sort of interest over his work which we cannot shake off, but which we are at the same time ashamed of feeling.

15. - Poems. By ROBERT BROWNING. A new Edition. Boston:

Ticknor, Reed, & Fields. 1850. 2 vols. 16mo.

We have read only one or two of Browning's poems, and must reserve our judgment of these volumes till we have succeeded in reading the rest. Mr. Browning is too weighty to be despatched in a light literary notice. We will only add, that the Messrs. Ticknor & Co. have issued these volumes, as they do all their poetical publications, in a style becoming a poet of the first order.

[ocr errors]

BROWNSON'S

QUARTERLY REVIEW.

JULY, 1850.

Art. I. - St. Peter and Mahomet ; or the Popes protecting

Christendom from Mahometanism.

When the Apostles were sitting at the feet of Christ for the last time before his passion, they began to dispute among themselves ; and the question was, which of them would be the greatest. Our Lord settled this dispute, and then he turned to the Apostle who was soon to become prince of the sacred college, and said to him, “Simon, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sist you as wheat. But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith may not fail. And thou, being converted, confirm thy brethren.'

St. Peter knew not at that moment in how many ways Satan would sift the Church, — from how many quarters he would lead forth the united strength of earth and hell. He saw the Devil, not as a serpent, nor as an angel of light, but as a roaring lion. His conception of the whole matter appears in his answer : “Lord, I am ready to follow thee to prison, and to death." And the first sisting which the Church received at the hands of Satan was precisely that which St. Peter expected. The world for three hundred years groaned beneath the tyranny of Rome, and during that long period the worship of Christ was proscribed, and his children hunted to the death ; the prisons were choked with them, the wild beasts were glutted with their flesh, the ground was red with their blood ; they were pitilessly murdered, sometimes singly, sometimes by hundreds, sometimes by thousands. This was the first great sifting ; it was a trial of the Church by fire and the sword, a determination to crush her by treating her children as convicted enemies of the Empire NEW SERIES. - VOL. IV. NO. III.

35

and of the immortal gods. The yet uninspired fisherman was ready for all this, but he had no notion of the far more terrible storms which would issue from the womb of time, and burst upon the Church. He could not foresee the day when heresy would sit upon the throne and trample the altar, when the astonished world would find itself Arian, when the true faith would be denied by the East, and scarcely find a resting-place in the West except in the bosom of Leo the Great. He did not suspect that Scribes and Pharisees would sit again in the chair of Moses, that some of his successors would be ambitious, cruel, and licentious men, incapable of denying the faith simply because Jesus Christ had promised the world that his Vicar should never lead the people to believe a lie. He did not see the tide of barbarism issuing from Northern Asia with resistless force, and failing to destroy civilization only because it could not destroy the parent of all true civilization, the Church of God. In the days of St. Peter the Emperors were the high-priests of paganism, and after a thousand years had rolled away, the German Cæsars bethought themselves of this fact, and straightway they claimed some of the inalienable rights of the High-Priest of Christianity. A long struggle served to evolve an undeniable right of the Holy See; the refractory Emperors were stripped of the purple, until they would consent to render to God the things which are of God. The Western schism threatened to leave the Church a dismembered corpse upon the plains of Europe ; the captivity of Babylon, as ihe stay of the Popes in France was justly called, nearly ruined Italy, and produced the most deplorable effects in the Western Churches ; and the Protestant rebellion tore whole nations from their mother's arms. St. Peter was ready for imprisonment and death, but he was not prepared to meet storms like these. What if he could have heard modern doctors proving that he had never been in Rome! What if he could have heard the wise disciples of Strauss gravely say that he never lived, that his Master was an Idea !

If the Church ever could really fear an enemy, she would have been hopelessly affrighted at Mahometanism. All her other trials were accompanied with some solace for her wounded heart. The persecutions were bitter, but she often had a little time to breathe ; she felt that such a violent state of things could not endure long, and she knew that the surest way to enlarge her fold on earth was to send crowds of martyrs to heaven. No man ever sowed tares in her fields as Arius did, but in three

[ocr errors]

hundred years the heresy which had stolen the throne, the temples, the palaces, and the cities, had fallen to pieces; it was a lost Babylon, no one could tell where it was. The awful irruptions of the Northern barbarians seemed to have thrown upon the plains of Europe a great mass of soulless human flesh, which would corrupt the air, and make the country a wild desert ; but the Church took these things to her bosom, and her supernatural warmth made those bones live again ; she made them Christians, and they became men. It was not so when she fought the new enemy. The powerful genius of Mahomet made him dream that he could do what Cæsar and Alexander did, - that he could enslave the world; and he matured his plans with care. The political aspect of the world was very inviting to an ambitious impostor, for the Western Empire had fallen, and the strong arm won the spoils ; the Eastern was getting old and crazy, and all Asia was nearly independent of the Greek Emperors. Mahomet gave laws which were singularly adapted to please man's corrupt nature, and his laws were piously kept. He won his soldiers to his party by promising them rich booty, and by keeping his promises. The captains always shouted with Mokanna,

Thrones to the victors, heaven to him who falls.” He did not give them thrones, common soldiers would not know what to do with them; but they were always ready to exchange the promised throne for present license to unmitigated avarice and lust, and the soldier was satisfied. It is true that the slain did not ascend to heaven, but they never came back to tell their surviving comrades so.

Some say that Mabomet was a reformed drunkard; others ascribe his law against wine-drinking to the fact that he could not use it. They do him injustice; he was an ambitious captain, and he knew that he could do nothing with a drunken army. Yet he had no easy task, for the Arabs were a nation of sots. Death was as common at their dinners as drunkenness at ours. But they consoled themselves with a gluttony that made their former drunkenness ashamed. In our own times, death from excessive eating at a genuine Turkish dinner is an event too common to attract much notice. but Mustapha was a good eater. Who will die next ? "

Soldiers and slaves must not think too much, or they will become captains and members of Provisional Governments. Cæsar knew it when he looked so at the lean and hungry Cassius. The Prætorian guards had much time for making and

6. God is great,

hearing speeches, and the end of it was, that they became auctioneers, and sold the empire to the highest bidder. The Janizaries cared not who held the sword and purse, while they held the bowstring and dagger. A few years of idleness taught them that the word Sultan, when interpreted, means a strong army. From that moment the Grand Turk sat under the Janizaries as uneasily as Damocles did under the sword, until Mahmoud eased his mind by cutting their throats. Now Mahomet made war the rule, not the exception, of his public policy, and of course it followed that his people would have little time to cultivate their minds. He knew that the breathing intervals would be given to beastly indulgence, and in order to make their ignorance profound, he gave them the Koran, and told them to read nothing else. They treated it as Native Americans treat the Bible; - they swore by it, but scarcely opened it. The views of Mahomet touching mental improvement were practically illustrated by Omar, when he burned the Alexandrian library. What a monument he would have, if every curse of the learned were a stone upon bis grave!

Tell men that they can serve God and Mammon at the same time, charge them to indulge their passions freely, secure to them a heaven whose first law is sensual gratification, make ignorance the first commandment, and erect this scheme of lust and rapine into a religious system, and what remains to insure it long life? Punish apostasy with death. This stern law of the Prophet is as faithfully kept now as it was under Al Raschid. We have often seen converted Turks, whose return to their own country would be instantly followed by their assassination. It is true, that the Sublime Porte issues firmans of toleration, but secret assassins are numerous, and justice is seldom obtained in the capital, elsewhere never.

* A striking instance occurred in the year 950, when Otho, king of Germany, sent an embassy to Abderrahman, chief of the Spanish Moors. St. John of Veidieres was chosen for the dangerous undertaking. He was instructed to give the Moor a proper answer to some attacks which he had made upon Christianity in a letter to Otho.

When it was known that the despatches contained religious matter, John was detained until the Moor could be consulted. After some weeks he was permitted to go to the capital, but he was required to suppress the religious document, as a preliminary to an audience. John refused. It was represented to him that the laws condemned even the king to death, if he should hear a Christian concerning religion without punishing the offender with instant strangulation. John was inflexible. The king liked the stern honesty of John, and swore by his beard that he should not die. A messenger was sent by Abderrahman to Otho, begging him to

« AnteriorContinuar »