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Brief Literary Notices.
Reformed, Episcopal, Methodist, Baptist, Quaker, Romish, and Mormon. Lastly, he devotes about two-fifths of his work to the subject of the German Churches in America; noticing the history, language, scientific and educational institutions, religion, and morals of the German population; and then the ecclesiastical position and prospects of the Lutheran, the Reformed, and the other German Churches. In speaking of the German Methodists, Dr. Schaff refers to the remarkable fact of some Missionaries having been sent by the Methodist communities to Germany, to labour amongst the neglected of their own native land. Altogether, we commend the work as a very sound and unbiassed examination of the religious condition of the rapidly increasing German population of the United States, characterized throughout by a very just appreciation of those points of mental constitution, and national character and temperament, by which the British, the German, and the American are respectively distinguished. Dr. Schaff is very earnest in his call to the Christians of his own land to make some united and large effort to supply the spiritual necessities of the four millions of their fellow-countrymen in America. And with no less earnestness he calls upon those who have influence in the theological and literary productions of Germany, to exert that influence, so far as America is concerned, in such a way as shall contribute to an object towards which he looks at once with anxiety and enthusiasm ; namely, the formation-through a healthy fusion of the German with the Anglo-American character, and through the influence, rightly directed, which German writing already possesses over the men of thought in America-of a race which, as it shall assuredly be foremost in the future history of the world, so shall be foremost also in carrying throughout the unmeasured region of its sway the blessings of a true, and solid, and living Christianity.
Die Verhandlungen des Siebenten Deutschen Evangelischen Kirchentages zu Frankfurt am Main im September, 1854. 8vo. Berlin, 1854.
We have before us the Report of the Seventh Annual Meeting of the Kirchentag, or Convention of the German Churches.
This Convention is one of the few beneficial fruits of the Revolution of 1848. A deep sense of the necessity of the times was the origin of this endeavour, by concerted action amongst the chief representatives of the Evangelical faith in Germany, to ward off the evils with which the Church was at that period so terribly menaced. It had the happy effect, by drawing together men of different Churches,-Lutheran, Reformed, and United, and by associating them in a common Christian purpose, of doing much to harmonize those whom a difference of name had hitherto kept apart, and thereby achieving a first step towards proving, by a practical exhibition, the true unity of Christian faith.
As the Convention is one of a purely voluntary nature, it can assume no authoritative power. It continues, however, to maintain a growing influence, not only on the people at large, by means of its circulated Reports and appeals, but also on the various Governments with whom it intercedes for the concession of those legislative enact
ments or alterations, which are demanded by the interests of Christianity, and the religious liberty of the subject. In this way the Kirchentag has already wrought many highly beneficial changes of a public character, whilst, in its annual peregrinations from city to city, it has scattered precious seeds of Christian truth, which mark its course as one of blessing to the land.
Dr. Hoffmann's paper, with which the discussions at the last autumnal meeting were commenced, "On the right Use of the Bible in the Church, the School, and the House," is a noble defence of the sacred volume against the prevailing tendency in Germany to its disregard, or its abuse. After showing the right position that should be accorded to the Scriptures in the pulpit, the school, and the family, the second and still more important topic is taken up, as to the introduction of a "Bible life;" and many valuable suggestions are offered on this vital question. A very important subject occupied the second morning of their meeting, that of the relation of the Church to the civil legislation, as regards the question of divorce. It was introduced by the well-known Dr. Julius Müller, of Halle, whose paper contains a very clear exhibition of the question of marriage and divorce, viewed in the light of the New Testament, contrasted with the actual state of the law in most of the German States, and especially in Prussia. Dr. Thesmar's Report, which followed, exhibits the legislative enactments from a historical point of view; and at the close a unanimous Resolution was adopted to petition the various Governments of Germany for the amendment of those laws relating to this important question, which have been productive of so large an amount of moral and social evil. Dr. Wichern, the Superintendent of the Rauhe Haus, near Hamburg, was present, as usual, to represent the "Inner Mission,"-Germany's great practical means of spreading godliness through the land. His speech, of which a beautiful outline is presented in the Report, gave a general survey of the labours of that Society during the past year, and produced a deep impression upon the audience by the thrilling eloquence which ever characterizes the effusions of that noble-hearted man. The Prelate Kapff, of Stuttgard, so known and loved in Germany for his Leightonlike fervour and heavenly unction, gave, on the last day, a masterly Report "On the Abolition of Gambling-Houses and Lotteries, which excited the deepest attention, and will doubtless exert a great influence toward the attainment of the object sought. Professor Schaff, of Mercersburg, occupied the afternoon with an eloquent paper upon "the German Church in America,"-the warm enthusiasm of which seemed a little too powerful for some of the more frigid Teutonic brethren to whom it was addressed. We omit in our notice many minor discussions which took place at the Meeting of the Kirchentag last September, however interesting their character, or great their intrinsic value. Having been personally present throughout the Conference, we are enabled to verify the correctness of the published Report.
We would fain see a truer appreciation of the question of religious liberty, in the minds of the members of this important convention, which represents the best portion of the Evangelic Church of Germany. We would gladly see the doors of the Kirchentag thrown
Brief Literary Notices.
open to Christians of whatever sect or party, instead of being restricted to the admission of adherents of the Confessional Churches. In this, a grievous wrong is done to the German Methodist and Baptist bodies, as well as to others, who, like them, are excluded from its councils. Nevertheless, with all its faults freely admitted, the Kirchentag is a noble movement on the side of true religion, and gives hopeful promise in relation to the future of Germany's Church. We commend it, as a peculiar development of ecclesiastical power and Christian activity, to the consideration of all interested in the struggles and toils of the evangelical faith in Germany.
The Dream of Pythagoras, and other Poems.
THE strains of this young poetess are very warm and sweet; remarkable for pure sentiment, fine feeling, and natural expression. Their originality is quite as evident as their merit, though it be not offensively obtruded in peculiarities of thought and phrase, in any affected strangeness of subject or of manner: these, with true feminine instinct, are avoided, as fatal to the modesty of a woman's muse. Neither does Miss Tatham derive her inspiration from the urns of her sister minstrels; we have no mournful echo from the distant tomb of Letitia Landon, no leaves from the sere, but sacred, chaplet of Felicia Hemans. Our poetess sings from her own full heart, and pours out an unpremeditated strain, inspired by religious faith, and breathing admiration, love, and hope in every line. The opening poem, “The Dream of Pythagoras," is of superior order to the rest, and full of beauty and significance. But the genius of Miss Tatham is eminently lyrical; and the following song, extracted from "The Mother's Vigil," will give the reader a fair idea-and a very high one-of its general quality and power :
THE merits of Mr. Arnold's poetry have been very generally acknowledged by the press; yet the circle of its admirers is not likely to extend beyond the literary and highly educated classes. As the popular heart seldom finds utterance through it, so the popular enthusiasm will not settle round it. But we have no doubt of the genuineness of Mr. Arnold's claims. Not more highly gifted as a poet than many of his young contemporaries, with whom so much fault has recently been found, he writes much better poems. The sentiment diffused throughout their formless rhapsodies, with him acknowledges the subtle laws of taste,-finds order and coherence,-is first crystallized into gems, and then appropriately set. Mr. Arnold's style is simple, almost to baldness, and contrasts strongly with the profuse ornaments of the school of "Balder." Yet this is the triumph of genuine poetry, when its suggestions of beauty, novelty, and grace, arise from the use of language apparently not one degree removed from artless prose. We believe this author also is young; yet the tone of his poetry evinces large experience, as well as high culture and extensive learning. An admirer of Goethe the sage, and Wordsworth the contemplatist, he aims at the calm and eclectic spirit of the one, but despairs of the fortitude and pathos of the other.
"Ah! since dark days still bring to light
And against fear our breast to steel:
But who, ah! who will make us feel?
But who, like him, will put it by?"
There is something of exaggeration, as it seems to us, in this estimate of the philosophic poet; but it is expressed with great felicity and clearness. In like manner we do not quite approve of the tone which Mr. Arnold has caught from his great German model. Perhaps
Brief Literary Notices.
the indifferentism of Goethe is too perceptible in his admirer's verses, and somewhat also of his serene and lofty fatalism. The tone we deprecate may be felt distinctly breathing in the lines addressed to Obermann ::
"And then we turn, thou sadder sage!
To thee: we feel thy spell,
"Immoveable thou sittest; still
"Yes, as the son of Thetis said,
One hears thee saying now-
"Ah! two desires toss about
The poet's feverish blood;
One drives him to the world without,
"Away the dreams that but deceive!
"We, in some unknown power's employ,
Move on a rigorous line;
Can neither, when we will, enjoy;
Nor, when we will, resign."
As giving voice to an occasional mood, we cannot object to these But throughout Mr. Arnold's volume we miss the tone of cheerful and religious confidence, and mark the absence of a distinct, pervading Christian philosophy, which, most of all, is needed to rebuke the pagan and repining spirit of the age.
The Haymakers' Histories. Twelve Cantos, in Terza Rima. By Ruther. London: George Bell. 1854.
True poetry, of a very delicate and charming sort; to be admired most of them who love the Muses best. The pitch and genius of the whole strain is indicated in a few preluding lines, the closing sentiment of which we heartily commend to minstrels of louder note and more ambitious theme :
We wish our space availed for some lengthier extracts from this volume, that we might find room to give some specimen of the stories of country life which it exhibits; but we must limit ourselves to a few lines from the opening canto, which introduces the bonny heroines :