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admirer in Balzac, who professes himself enchanted with the “black lustre" of his style, and compares his obscurity to the rich and glossy darkness of ebony. The three Greek Fathers whom the writer before us has selected, are generally considered the most able and eloquent of any; and of their merits our readers shall presently have an opportunity of judging, as far as a few specimens from Mr. Boyd's translations can enable them :--but for our own parts, we confess, instead of wondering with this gentleman that massy
favourites should be “doomed to a temporary oblivion,”-we are only surprised that such affected declaimers should ever have enjoyed a better fate ; or that even the gas of holiness with which they are inflated could ever have enabled its coarse and gaudy vehicles to soar so high inlo the upper regions of reputation. It is South, we believe, who has said, thal “ in order to be pious, it is not necessary to be dull;" but, even dulness ilself is far more decorous than the puerile conceits, the flaunting melaphors, and all that false finery of rhetorical declamation, in which these writers have tricked out their most solemn and important subjects. At the time, indeed, when they studied and wrote, the glories of ancient literature had faded ; sophists and rhetoricians had taken the place of philosophers and orators ; nor is it wonderful that from such instructors as Libanius, they should learn to reason ill, and write affectedly : but the same florid effeminacy of style, which in a love-letter of Philostratus, or an ecphasis of Libanus, are harmless at least, if not amusing, become altogether disgusting when applied to sacred topics; and are little less offensive to piety and good taste, than those rude exhibitions of the old Moralities, in which Christ and his Apostles appeared dressed out in trinkets, tinsel, and embroidery
The chief advantage that a scholar can now derive from the perusal of these voluminous Doctors, is the light they throw upon the rites and tenels of the Pagans,-in the exposure and refutation of which they are, as is usually the case, much more successful than in the defence and illustration of their own. In this respect Clemens Alexandrinus is one of the most valuable ;-being chiefly a compiler of the dogmas of ancient learning, and abounding with curious notices of the religion and literature of the Gentiles. Indeed the manner in which some of the Fathers have been edited, sulficiently proves that they were considered by their commentators as merely a sort of inferior Classics, upon which to hang notes about heathen Gods and philosophers. Ludovicus Vives upon the “City of God” of St. Augustin, is an example of this class of theological annotators, whom a hint about the three Graces, or the God of Lampsacus, awakens into more activity than whole pages about the Trinity and the Resurrection.
The best specimen of eloquence we have met among the Fathers,-at least that which we remember to have read with most pleasure, -is the Charisteria, or Oration of Thanks, delivered by Gregory Thaumaturgus to his instructor Origen. Though rhetorical like the rest, it is of a more manly and simple character, and does credit alike to the master and the disciple." But, upon the whole, perhaps St. Augustin is the author whom—if ever we should be doomed, in penance for our sins, to select a Father for our private reading—we should choose, as, in our opinion, the least tiresome of ihe brotherhood. It is impossible not to feel interested in those struggles
* The abstract of this Oralion, which Halloix professes to give, in his Defence of Origen, is so very wide of the criginal, that we suspect he must have received it, at second hand, from some inaccurate reporter.
between passion and principle, out of which his maturer age rose so triumphant; and there is a conscious frailty mingling with his precepts, and at times throwing its shade over the light of his piety, which gives his writings an air peculiarly refreshing, after the pompous rigidity of Chrysostom, the stoic affectations of Clemens Alexandrinus, and the antithetical trilling of Gregory Nazianzen. If it were not too for the indelible stain which his con-duct to the Donatists has left upon his memory, the philosophic mildness of his Tract against the Manichæans, and the candour with which he praises his heretical antagonist Pelagius, as “sanclum, bonum et prædicandum virum,” would have led us to select him as an example of that tolerating spirit, which-we grieve to say—is so very rare a virtue among the Saipts.
— Though Augustin, after the season of his sollies was over, very sedulously avoided the society of females, yet he corresponded with most of the holy women of his time; and there is a strain of tenderness through many of his letters to them, in which his weakness for the sex rather interestingly betrays itself. It is in the consolatory Epistles, particularly, that we discover these embers of his youthful temperament ;-as in the 93d, to Italica, on the death of her husband, and the 263d, to Sapida, in return for a garment she had sent him, in the thoughts of which there is a considerable degree of fancy as well as tenderness.
We cannot allude to these fair correspondents of Augustin, without remarking, that the warmest and best allies of the Fathers, in adopting their fancies and spreading their miracles, appear to have been those enthusiastic female pupils, by groups of whom they were all constantly encircled ;*—whose imaginations required but little fuel of fact, and whose tongues would not suffer a wonder to cool in circulating. The same peculiarities of temperament, which recommended females in the Pagan world, as the fittest sex to receive the inspirations of the tripod, made them valuable agents also in the imposing machinery of miracles. At the same time, it must be confessed that they performed services of a much higher nature; and that to no cause whatever is Christianity more signally indebted for the impression it produced in those primilive ages, than to the pure piety, the fervid zeal, and heroic devotedness of the female converts. In the lives of these holy virgins and matrons,-in the humility of their belief and the courage of their sufferings, the Gospel. found a far better illustration than in all the voluminous writings of the Fathers : there are some of them, indeed, whose adventures are sufficiently romantic, to suggest materials to the poet and the novelist ; and Ariosto himself has condescended to borrow from the Legends + his curious story of Isabella and the Moor,-to the no small horror of the pious Cardinal Baronius, who remarks with much asperity on the sacrilege of which “that vulgar poet” has been guilty, in daring to introduce this sacred story among his fictions. To the little acquaintance these women could have formed with the various dogmas of ancient philosophy, and to the unincumbered state of their minds in consequence, may be attributed much of that warmth and clearness, with
None of the Fathers, with the exception perhaps of St. Jerome, appears to have had such influence over the female mind as Origen." His correspondence with Barbara it still extant. She was shut up by her Pagan father in a tower with two windows, to which, in honour of the Trinity. we are told, she added a third. St. Jerome had to endure much scandal, in consequence of his two favourite pupils, Paula and Melania, of which be complains very bitterly in the epistle “Si tibi putem,” &c.
#'From the story of the Roman virgin Euphrasia. See also the Life of Euphrosyna (in Bergomensis de Claris Mulieribus), which, with the difference of a father and lover, resembles the latter part of the Mémoires de Comminges.
which the light of Christianity shone through them; whereas, in the learned heads of the Fathers, this illumination found a more dense and coloured medium, which turned its celestial beam astray, and tinged it with all sorts of gaudy imaginations. Even where these women indulged in theological reveries, as they did not embody their fancies into folios, posterity, at least, has been nothing the worse for them; nor should we have known the strange notions of Saint Macrina about the Soul and the Resurrection, is her brother, Gregory of Nyssa, had not rather officiously informed us of them, in the Dialogue be professes to have held with her on these important subjects."
We come now to Mr. Boyd's Translations, which are preceded by a short, but pompous preface, in whose loftiness of style we at once discover that, like that insect which takes the colour of the leaf it feeds upon, the Translator has caught the gaudy hue of his originals most successfully. Ina deed, from the evident tendencies of this gentleman's taste, we should pronounce him a most dangerous person to be entrusted with a version of the Fathers; for, the fault of these writers being a superabundance of metaphors, and and Mr. Boyd being quite as metaphorically given as themselves, the consequence is, that, wherever there is a flourish of this in the original, he is sure to add another of his own to it in the translation ; which is really “ too much of a good thing :"-If double flowers are to be held monsters in Botany, with much greater reason must these double and treble flowers of rhetoric be accounted monstrosities in the system of taste. The first specimen we shall give is from the Peroration of St. Chrysostom's Third Oration on the Incomprehensible,” where the Saint is speaking of the season of the Eucharist.
“ In a moment so sublime, how exalted should be thy hope, how great thy longing for salvation ! -Heaven's canopy resounds not with the piercing cry of mortals only : angels fall prostrate before their Lord: archangels kneel before their God. The season itself becomes an argument on their lips; the oblation an advocate in their cause. And as men, in the office of intercession, cutting down branches of olive, wave them before their king, by the blooming plant reminding hin of mercy and compassion; so likewise the host of angels, in the place of olive-branches extending the body of their Lord, javoke the common Parent in the cause of human nature !--What strain seraphic bursts on my enraptured organs? I hear their celestial accents ! I hear them even now exclaiming-“ We entreat for those whom thou didst love with so God-like an affectiou, as to yielding up thy life for theirs! We pour our petitions in behalf of those for whom thou didst shed ing blood !” pp. 23, 24.
Whatever may be thought of the sublimity of the passage printed in Italics, St. Chrysostom has nothing to do with either the praise or the blame of it; as he merely says that these angels “invoke the Lord for the human race, almost, or all but exclaiming (uóvovexi argoutes) we pray for those," etc. --So that the “seraphic strains ” and “enraptured organs” are all to be set down to Mr. Boyd's account.
In the extract which follows, upon the efficacy of prayer, St. Chrysoslom says “I speak of that prayer, which is offered up with earnestness; with a sorrowing soul, and an enthusiastic spirit; for that is the prayer which ascends to Heaven.”—Thus it is in the original; but how has the poetic Mr. Boyd translated this simple passage ?
“ I speak of that prayer which is the child of a contrite spirit, the offspring of a soul converted, born in a blaze of unutterable enthusiasm, and winged, like lightning, for ihe skies!" p. 28.
This eulogy of Prayer concludes with the following simile.
* Opera, lom. ii. p. 177. Edit. Paris, 1638.
* For, as the tree, whose roots are buried in the earth, though assaulted by a thousand tempests, knows not to be rent asunder, and defies the storm; so likewise, the prayer implanted in the, soul, and from thence arising, spreads wide its luxuriant foliage, elevates iis aspiring head, and' laughs unhurt at the impotent assailer." p. 31.
Here again we must step in to the defence of the original, which says nothing whatever of the prayer's “ luxuriant foliage," nor of this indecorous “ laugh,” which Mr. Boyd has conferred upon it :--but there is no end to his adscilitious graces ;-he seems indeed to think that, as a Translator of Saints, it is but right for him to deal in such works of supererogation'; but we are sorry to tell him, that—unlike the supersluities of those pious persons—his overdoings are all of the dampatory description.
We are next presented with extracts from Gregory Nazianzen, and again, doomed to suffer under perpetual metaphors, from the joint stock of the Saint and his. Translator :- not that we would have Mr. Boyd set us down as foes to metaphors; we are only unreasonable enough to require that they should have a little meaning in them; that they should condescend to be useful as well as decorative, and, like the thyrsus of the ancients, carry a weapon under their foliage.
St. Gregory, in the Funeral oration upon Cæsarus, says, that the tears of his mother were “subdued by philosophy"-danguow EiTTWE VOUS Qinorodía—but this is too matter-of-fact for Mr. Boyd, who renders it, "her tears are dried by the sweet breezes of philosophy” (p. 121), and in the very next page, the twin melaphors of which he is, as usual,' delivered, agree, it must be owned, rather awkwardly together, and lead us to think he has formed his taste for eloquence upon the model of a certain noble and diplomatic orator, who is well known to deal-in this broken ware of rhetoric, such as “ the feature, Sir, upon which this question hinges," etc, etc.—The following is Mr. Boyd's imitation of that noble Lord, in what may be called the Metaphoroclastic style-
« Such, o Cæsarius, is my funeral tribute. These are the first fruits of mine unfledged eloquence, of which thou hast oft complained that it was buried in the shade." p. 122.
Seriously, if this learned gentleman had taken the trouble of consulting his Suicerus upon the word 'Tusxai, he would not, we think, have spoiled this truly scriptural figure by interpolations so tasteless and so - wholly unauthorized by the text.
About the middle of this Peroration, we find the following passage. “ Will he adorn no more his mind with the theories of Plato and of Aristotle, of Pyrrho and Democritus, of Heraclitus and Anaxagoras, and Cleanthes and Epicurus, and I know not how many disciples of venerated Academe and Stoa?" p. 134.
The original text of these last words is–και κκ οίδ' οις τισι των έκ της σεμνής σοάς και ακαδημίας-« and I know not how many from the venerable Porch and the Academy." What could induce Mr. Boyd to translate this. passage so strangely? We hope it was only affectation ; though we own we cannot help fearing-in spite of all his Greek-that, like the worthy French gentleman who looked for Aristocracy and Democracy in the map, he took these said “Academe and Stoa ” for two venerable persons that kept school in Athens.
We shall next give an extract from St. Gregory's Panegyric upon his deceased friend St. Basil, as a specimen not only of Mr. Boyd's best manner of writing, but of that unfatherly indifference with which, like a wellknown bird, he deposits his own offspring in the nest of another. The words of the original are simply these :--"What joy is there now in our public meetings? what pleasure in our feasts, our assemblies, or our churches?". which small sum of words this munificent translator has, out of his pure bounty, swelled to the following considerable amount.
Alas! what joy can we now experience in the feast, what intercourse of soul in the public meetings? Whom shall we now consult? Shall we seek the next eminent? There are none. He hath lest a chasın in the world, and there is no one to fill it up. Where then, shall we wander, and how shall we employ the vacant hours ? Shall we bend our steps into the Forum ? Ab, no; it was there that Basil smiled upon his people. Shall we return into the Church? Ah, no; it was there that he fed us with the bread of life.” p. 190.
In the 192d page, he is equally sui profusus ;-thus, " When 1 peruse his expositions of the sacred page, I stop not at the letter, I rest not at the superficies of the world; but, soaring on renovated wings, I ascend from discovery to discovery, from light to light, till I reach the sublimest point, and sit enthroned on the riches of Reve
-of which last extraordinary image Mr. Hugh Stuart Boyd is sole inventor and proprietor ;-indeed not a tenth part of this "Extract” is to be found in the original; and the Saint may be truly said to sink under the obligations he owes to his translator.
St. Gregory is almost the only Father who has thought it not beneath his dignity to write verses ;—there are some by Tertullian; but the poems under the name of Lactantius are, in general, we believe, rejected as spurious; and one of them is supposed to have been written by that most jovial of bishops, Venantius Fortunatus.* The sparkling conceits of Gregory's style are much more endurable in verse than in prose; and his similes are sometimes ingenious, if not beautiful. But we do not think Mr. Boyd has been very happy in his selections, either from this Father's poetry or the prose of St. Basil, 'whose palhetic remonstrance“ to a fallen Virgin "* would have furnished more favourable specimens of saintly eloquence than any composition throughout this volume.
Mr. Boyd's notes consist chiefly of raplurous eulogies on the grandeur, brilliancy, and profoundness of his originals ;-on the most super-eminent sublimity” of Plotinus (p. 291); and the “fascinating" and "enchanting” Loves of Daphnis and Chloe (passim). He has detected too, some marvellous plagiarisms; for instance, that Milton, in saying “Gloomy as night,” must have pilfered from St. Basil, who, it appears, has said “dark as night;"-unless, as Mr. Boyd candidly and sagaciously adds, "both Basil and Millon bave borrowed the idea from Homer's vuxtí gorras." p. 237.
The construction of this gentleman's English is not always very easy or elegant; as may appear from such sentences as “cherishing in the minds of men him honoured there.” (p. 123.)—"it thrills with a poetic ecstasy, of which the offspring is reflection sapient.” (p. 240.)-having made mention of the prayers which for demoniacs are offered.” (p. 16.) But it is time, we feel, to bring this article to a conclusion ;-hic locus est somni. If we could flatter ourselves that Mr. Boyd would listen to us, we would advise him to betake himself as speedily as possible from such writers as his Gregories, Cyrils, etc.—which can never serve any other purpose than that of a vain parade of cumbrous erudition—to studies of a purer and more
* Whose works, written chiefly “inter pocula”-as he confesses in his dedicatory epistle to Pope Gregory—may be found in the Bibliotheca Patrum, tom. viii. It is a sad proof of the rapid progress of corruption, to find the head of the Christian Church, in a few centuries after the death of Christ, thus openly patronizing such frivolous profligacy.
* There are several very touching passages throughout this letter, particularly that beginningπε μεν σοι το σεμνόν εκεινο σχημα και κ. τ. λ.-Fenelon Says of it, “On ne peut rien voir de plus éloquent que son Epitre à une vierge qui était tombée ; à mon sens c'est un chef-d'ouvre." Sur l'Eloquence.