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1846.]

The True Church.

203

has been, that men have attempted to unite on speculative grounds. No permanent union is possible on that basis. When men begin to speculate, they fly asunder in every direction; but when they come to act, they are drawn nearer together. The reason is obvious. Speculation is a business which every one can perform for himself; but in order to act with much effect, we require the aid of our fellow-men. Thus we see that the practical reforms of the day unite Christians of the most opposite opinions in one aim, and draw them nearer to each other.

Here, we think, we have a key to the solution of this problem and a guide to the true Church. Christianity is a practice, not a speculation. Consequently, practical reform, the regeneration of society in the image of Christ, the putting away of sin and social evil from the world, — this must be the centre and nucleus of Christian union. What is the fundamental idea of Christianity, that which all will allow to be so ? Christ a manifestation of the Divine nature; a union of the human and the Divine; a Divine humanity. This is an idea around which all who call themselves Christian, whoever will call themselves Christian, can unite. And closely connected with this, and a necessary inference from it, is the call to us, to all the followers of Christ, to aspire to a divine humanity, to unite the divine with the human in their lives; in other words, to lead a divine life, to remove all the obstructions which lie in the way of such a life, all social evils and abuses -- war, slavery, oppression in all its forms, – to break every yoke, to undo every burden, to put away all sin. In a word, reform, the regeneration of society in the Christian image,

this is practical Christianity. In this all practical Christians can unite; must unite, if ever the ends for which Christ lived and died are to be accomplished on earth. Such a union would be a true Church, Catholic and Protestant in one. And such we conceive to have been the Church which Christ intended to rear. Apostolic faith, the faith which was in Peter and his fellow-laborers, this is the rock on which it must be built; and Christ, the Divine humanity, - this is the end for which it must strive. Such a Church would be nothing less than the reorganization of society on a Christian basis. A Church is the highest to which society can aspire. Higher than the State,

which unites men as mortals, on the ground of self-defence, for mutual protection in selfish pursuits; the Church is the union of men as immortals, on the basis of love, for common and everlasting ends.

There are not wanting, to our eyes, hopeful indications of such a Church in the signs of the times. Among these we may mention the movement which is now making among the Catholics of Germany; a movement which, while it casts off the yoke of the Romish hierarchy, still retains the Catholic name and the Catholic idea of union, and whose aim, in the language of its leader, is to

perfect the work which Protestantism began, and to carry out Christianity to its legitimate results." We see farther indi tions of such a consummation in the tendency of Christians of all denominations in our own land to unite in the great work of social reform, and, casting aside sectarian distinctions, to make zeal for the cause of mankind, not orthodoxy of opinion, the test of a Christian.

There is a spirit at work in the affairs of men, mightier than all ecclesiastical establishments and sectarian combinations. The old lines are everywhere disappearing, old sects are breaking up. The tide of humanity is sweeping away these petty barriers, and bearing us and our institutions on to a higher mark and a better day. A time is coming, when the only Christianity that shall pass current shall be the practical Christianity, which believes in a heavenly kingdom to be realized on earth, in the social perfection of man, and which labors, in the spirit of Christ, to promote it; and when the only heresy that shall not be tolerated, shall be the practical unbelief which opposes that consummation. A time is coming, when there shall be but one Church the Catholic Protestant Church of Christian union and Christian progress; but one order of priesthood - the hierarchy of the wise and good; but one standard and law – “the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus."

F. H. H.

1846.]

Munford's Iliad.

205

Art. IV. - MUNFORD'S ILIAD.*

It is impossible to present Homer in perfection to the English reader. Our language does not admit of it. The attempts that are made, with whatever ability, can attain but a partial success.

The method that is chosen, in securing its particular advantage, must forego some other that would perhaps be but little less desirable. Macpherson undertook to translate the Iliad into literal prose. It sounds so much like his Ossian, that we have sometimes wondered that it found no more favor among the admirers of that singular mixture of falsehood and fact. We have never seen, however, any reprint of it from the elegant quarto volumes, in which it was first given to the public. We are even inclined to think that many will be surprised to hear of the existence of such a work, so entirely has it been forgotten. The magnificent paraphrase of Pope is in everybody's hands, and continues to be read with delight. If it is not Homer, it is at least one of the finest poems in our language. No one will think of rendering the tale of Troy into heroic couplets after it. Cowper followed with his blank verse, which we think has received less attention and praise than it deserves. One cause of this comparative neglect undoubtedly is, that the splendid poetry of his predecessor threw his humbler style into the shade. Mr. Munford, in his new version, has adopted the same measured but unrhymed lines. He tells us in his preface, that when he began his work, and indeed till it was considerably advanced, he had not even heard of Cowper's translation. When it came into his hands, it does not seem to have discouraged him, but rather to have filled him with the expectation of greatly surpassing it. this, we think that he has failed altogether; and in several respects, we fear that he did not sufficiently weigh his ability against his enterprise. "Pope,” he tells us, “ has equipped ” his Homer “in the fashionable style of a modern fine gentleman”; while “Cowper displays him in rags unseemly,' or in the uncouth garb of a savage.” He proposes “ to introduce him in the simple, yet graceful and

* Homer's Iliad. Translated by William MUNFORD. Boston: Little & Brown. 1846. 2 vols. 8vo. pp. 452 and 524. 4TH. S. VOL. VI. NO II.

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In

VOL. XLI.

venerable costume of his own heroic times.” In both these criticisms there is more pretension than justice. The fame of Pope's version remains untarnished after the lapse of much more than a hundred years; and Cowper's, though it may lack nobleness now and then, shows the hand of a poet in every part. Now this is just the hand that Mr. Munford had not to bring to his task. “I have not imitated Milton,” he says, “or any other writer. With a boldness which some may consider presumptuous, I have made an attempt to adopt a style of my own.” We must frankly say that this "boldness” appears more clearly in his ambition than in his verses; and that this peculiar “style" is one of the most ordinary that we are apt to meet. It is not elevated, not strong, not simple, not discriminating. If free from gross faults, it does not bear any large stamp upon it, or show any considerable signs of a high and true culture. With occasional exceptions to the contrary, it is prevailingly clumsy and flat. For example, read such lines as we take at a venture from the close of the twenty-second book :

“So spake the weeping fair one; groans and sighs,

To her's responsive, from the females came.” There are many hundreds like them; and though we may not see much in them to find positive fault with, they are so mean and unskilful as to give little promise of excellence in more important passages. The Homeric line at this place is a single one, and of the very plainest kind. Cowper also expands it into two, thus :

“So, weeping, she: to whom the multitude

Of Trojan dames responsive sigh'd around.” Which is certainly not in his neatest manner, and sufficiently weak; but yet its marked superiority over the other must be obvious to everybody. And this is but a sample, the better for being so humble, of what might be illustrated to any extent in comparing the two versions together. “ Weeping fair one is not according to Homer; any more than "venerable dame” is a proper epithet for the goddess Thetis, in that beautiful description in the First Book, where, sitting in the depths of the sea, she rises from it like a mist, in answer to the prayer of Achilles. Before leaving the subject of Cowper's translation, we would say again,

1846.)

Translation.

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that it merits something better than the slighting manner in which we commonly hear it referred to. With our estimate of his poetical abilities, it does not seem to us to fall below them. It should rather add to his reputation than detract from it. It is an ingenious and scholarly performance. We are sorry that we cannot say so much for the work before us.

We ought not to forget, and we do not, that it was written more than twenty years ago, when materials were much less ample than now for doing it well; and that it has been published posthumously, thus denied the advantage of the author's last corrections. At the same time, we cannot shut our eyes to the fact, that he has not availed himself of the critical aids that were easily accessible to scholars even so long ago as when he wrote. - The Lexicon of Schrevelius” is often appealed to, as if it were quite an authority, and there is no sign of the slightest acquaintance with what the German scholars had done. We hardly know how to account for such a deficiency in the learning that was requisite for the acceptable fulfilment of his task, when we consider the classical zeal and high purpose with which it was undertaken. This deficiency, however, is not conspicuous till we come to the notes, which are appended to each book, and help considerably to swell the volumes. Serious, therefore, as such a deficiency is, it is less striking than the general want of a fine taste in the language of the poem itself. The words are often ill-chosen and ill-arranged, turgidly prosaic, without dignity or just force, giving a heavy, lumbering expression to the meaning that they seem struggling hard to convey. We would not be understood to imply that there are not here and there passages very well done; but we think we commit no injustice in saying, that the description just given is applicable to the greater part of the work. The style is usually more like the attempt of a young student than the finish of an accomplished writer. If any one still thinks our judgment too harsh, we commend to his attention the following passage, taken almost at random :

“But furious Hector, calling loudly, bade
His Trojans to the ships to rush forthwith,
And disregard the spoil : Whatever man
I notice from the ships of Greece remote,
I doom to instant death." xv. 453 — 457.

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