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While looking and longing for the accomplishment of this grand ideal of humanity, even the intelligent Germans little realized the important part which an individual was to play in the next twenty years. It is amusing to read Dr. Springer's account “ of the idle, strange character who, from his accidental likeness to Napoleon, imagined himself to be called to the continuation of his task. When, after one or two unsuccessful attempts, which the government wisely tried to make people forget by clemency, Louis Napoleon was seized and imprisoned at Ham, the peers before whose tribunal he was placed declared him to be fit for the mad-house. They had little suspicion, that the nation would ever sink so low in its political morality, through endless division, as to choose this man, ten years later, for President of the French Republic.” Perhaps our author felt no less surprise when ten years more made this adventurer the most important statesman of Europe; and gave him such entire control of France, that he can make war or peace at his will, and introduce the most important commercial changes in spite of the prejudices and interests of a large portion of the community.
Among the re-actionary movements in Prussia, our author notes the return towards the Catholic Church, which of course always favors the doctrine of arbitrary rule. The craft of the priesthood hastened to take advantage of this backward inclination. One cunning measure was the prohibition of marriage between lovers of differing creed, unless with the express provision, that children should be educated in the Catholic Church. This measure was very odious to a people long accustomed to regard marriage as a civil contract, and great opposition was roused. All was in vain. Under the rule of the romantically devout William IV., Prussia lost its essentially Protestant character, and bowed down before the Pope.
" The last seven years”. that is, from 1840 to 1848. make the period of the last struggle of re-action, and of the beginning of those revolutionary movements still agitating Europe. Here we find the thread of all the present political questions. The Oriental question, the Russian system, the temporal
power of the Pope, the constitutional relations of Austria, all begin to have their place in the discussion of the general politics of Europe. In 1848, Dr. Springer writes in the full glow of hope, that the day of deliverance for humanity is right at hand. Eighteen years have done much to show that his hope was not baseless. Italy is regenerated! That is enough for one generation to rejoice in.
And with what a deep sense of gratitude do we think of the contrast in our own country to the scene it presented eighteen, nay, eight years ago! How can we doubt, how can we fear, when such a deliverance has been vouchsafed to us? With the dead weight of slavery lifted from our young energies, what giant strides may we not take in the march of humanity! Now we may turn, conscience free, to the great questions which the intellect presses upon us. We have done the duty which lay nearest to us: the next has already become clearer. Universal suffrage, education for all, the right to existence guaranteed by the state, the harmony of capital and labor, the advancement of science, the development of art, — all these grand problems may justly claim our attention; and we see that our era of revolutions still remains to be accomplished, not, we trust, by the sword, but by patient labor, and fidelity to truth.
ART. III. — NOYES'S HEBREW POETS.
A New Translation of Job, Ecclesiastes, and the Canticles, with Intro
duction and Notes, chiefly explanatory. By GEORGE R. Noyes, D.D., Hancock Professor of Hebrew, &c., and Dexter Lecturer in Harvard University. Third edition, carefully revised, with addi
tional Notes. Boston: American Unitarian Association. 1867. A New Translation of the Book of Psalms and of the Proverbs, with
Introductions and Notes, chiefly explanatory. By GEORGE R. NOYES, D.D., Hancock Professor, &c. Third edition. Boston : American Unitarian Association. 1867.
In a former article * we commented on those volumes of Dr. Noyes's collected Translations, which contain his version of
* See Christian Examiner for July, 1867.
the Prophets. We have now to speak of the remaining portion, of which one volume comprises Job, Ecclesiastes, and the Canticles; the other, the Psalms and the Proverbs. The character of these works suggests to us, after briefly noticing Dr. Noyes's labors upon them respectively, to add some remarks on the nature and structure of Hebrew Poetry.
The Book of Job was the first part of the Scriptures which engaged the attention of our translator; and upon none were his labors more needed, or more fully appreciated by the public. It was indeed a noble beginning for a scholar's course, and meet to be held in view by every student who feels the impulse of a worthy ambition, that was presented, when the young candidate for the ministry, instead of confining his stud. ies to the preparation of a few sermons, or extending them superficially over the whole range of literature, chose for the object of his efforts a single, laborious, honorable, and useful task; prepared himself for it by obtaining an intimate knowledge of that difficult language, which, to most of us, is known only in its rudiments; and carried forward his undertaking to successful completion, making for himself, at his very entrance on the active ministry, a name among the first Hebrew scholars of his country.
The Introduction to the Book of Job, as now presented to us, has been carefully revised from that in the second edition, which was itself improved from the first. The difference will be particularly noticed in the portion added on the 21st and following pages, in reply to Davidson's argument against the genuineness of the speech of Elihu; an addition presenting the result of much study in small compass. In an examination of the Notes, we have been struck with the fact that the altera. tions did not consist exclusively in additions. Dr. Noyes, for instance, has unsparingly struck out the greater part of his note on Job vi. 4, with its references to Cicero's quotation from Sophocles, and to other writers; and that on vii. 14, with its quotation from Ovid's Epistles: probably feeling, that, elegant and apposite as these illustrations were, the text was sufficiently plain without them.
In the Introduction, our translator discusses the character
and authorship of the remarkable work before him. Ascribing to the “Great Unknown," as he aptly styles the writer of the Book of Job, a rank among poets beyond comparison with any but the highest, he unfolds the argument of the book, and sees in it a purpose to "justify the ways of God to man's (p. ix). He vindicates at length the genuineness of those portions which some recent critics have considered as additions to the poem by a later hand. On the subject of the authorship of the book, while admitting the force of some considerations that suggest a more recent origin, he appears disposed to assign it to the period between the age of Solomon and the Captivity. Upon the question of nationality, he decides for the Hebrew origin of the book, in opposition to those who have supposed it to be a translation from the Arabic.
Next to our author's version of the Book of Job stands that of Ecclesiastes. This singular combination of religious wisdom and sceptical despondency the translator characterizes thus : “ Thoughts on the vanity of human life, interspersed with such maxims of prudence, virtue, and religion as will help a man to conduct himself in the best manner, and to obtain the greatest amount of happiness, in his journey through it” (p. 104). He explains the apparent self-contradictions and defective doctrine of the book, by remarking, that it does not aim at metaphysical accuracy, and that it does not stand alone in the seeming inconsistencies it presents. The statements made by the Preacher, he observes, are true, however they may be explained. The unequal distribution of good and evil in human life was a fact which the Preacher admitted; and he may have been the more embarrassed in his attempt to reconcile it with God's justice and goodness, as he did not believe in a future state of accountability. With a fine union of reverence and liberality of sentiment, Dr. Noyes defends the author of the book from the charges of fatalism, of scepticism, and of epicurism. He notices, in succession, some of the ingenious but indefensible theories advanced by eminent men regarding the purpose of the work; gives an analysis of its contents; and principally from the character
of the language, which is much more marked by the use of foreign and modern forms of speech than that of the Book of Proverbs, concludes that it was composed long after the time of Solomon, and probably not far from that of Alexander the Great. The author, then, employed the allowable fiction - not to deceive, but for the purpose of ornament and illustration - of writing in the character of Solomon, known alike as the richest and the wisest of the Jewish kings.
In his Introduction to the Canticles, Dr. Noyes meets conclusively, as appears to us, the arguments of those who advocate a mystical interpretation of this amatory poem; and appears as the vindicator of the reverence due to sacred things, in protesting against their unnatural union with sensual imagery. His opinion is, that the “Song of Songs" was the production, not of Solomon himself, but of some Jewish poet in his reign, or soon after it.
Dr. Noyes's Introduction to the Psalms includes a treatise on Hebrew Poetry, in which he has, with suitable acknowledgment, made extensive use of the labors of De Wette. While speaking with heartfelt appreciation of the beauty and sublimity of this unrivalled collection of sacred poetry, he dissents widely from those who, for the sake of consistency with their theory of inspiration, defend the strong expressions of the imprecatory psalms. "If," he says, "the psalms in question are consistent with absolute rectitude, then our Saviour's precept to 'bless them that curse us, and to pray For them that despitefully use us,' cannot be.” (Psalms and Proverbs, p. 20.)
With respect to the authorship of the Psalms, he recognizes David as the writer " of most of those which are ascribed to him, and of some which have no title" (p. 22); and describes the characteristics of the royal minstrel in appropriate use of the language of other critics, in modest preference to his own. Of others, to whom particular psalms are ascribed in their titles, he is disposed to admit the claims, when not necessarily set aside by the admission involving an anachronism. To Asaph, the author at least of the fiftieth psalm, he awards high praise. This psalm, he says," is enough