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Those were the buds of art, this plant of blisse,
From the second and third part, which are called Wolseius Triumphans and Wolseius Moriens, there is little to extract. In the second canto he thus facetiously describes the long vacation :
"Now at such times as lawyers walke the streets,
In the third part, Wolsey mourns his fall. There occurs a beautiful idea in the following stanza:
"All as my chrysom, so my winding-sheete,
None joy'de my birth, none mourn'd my death to see; The short parenthesis of life was sweete,
But short; what was before unknown to me,
And what must follow, is the Lord's decree:
The period of my glory is exprest;
Now of my death; and then my muse take rest.”
The second of these two stanzas contains an image almost as fine as any to be found in poetry :
"I did not meane, with predecessors' pride,
To walke on cloth, as custome did require;
"I am the tombe where that affection lies,
That was the closet where it living kept:
No, but it turnes; and when it long hath slept,
O could it die, that were a restfull state;
Such is the life and death of the great Cardinal; which, though we cannot recommend to any of our readers to read, we trust that our extracts will be found valuable-some of them beautiful: if, on no other account, yet certainly as a specimen of a poem which appeared before the play of Shakespear, in which the Cardinal occurs as a character, and who, perhaps, was indebted to our author for the idea of moulding this part of history into a drama. With the exception of a few lines, and some single expressions, which we cannot quote, we think we have exhausted the poem of all that a reader of taste would wish to peruse. Before we close, we beg leave to direct the reader's attention to the versification, which appears to us remarkably easy, smooth, and felicitous, for the time in which it was composed; and to do justice to a pomp and solemnity of thought which well befits the poet's subject,
ART. VIII.-Dris Martini Lutheri Colloquia Mensalia, or Dr. Martin Luther's Divine Discourses, at his table, &c., which in his life-time he held with divers learned men (such as were Philip Melancthon,Casparus Cruciger, Justus Jonas, Paulus Eberus, Vitus Dietericus, Joannes Bugenhagen, Joannes Forsterus, and others) containing Questions and Answers touching Religion, and other main points of Doctrine; as also many notable Histories, and all sorts of learning, comforts, advises, prophesies, admonitions, directions, and instructions. Collected first together by Dr. Antonius Lauterbach, and afterward disposed into certain common places by John Aurifaber, Dr. in Divinity. Translated out of the High Germane into the English tongue, by Captain Henrie Bell, London, 1652.
The history of this remarkable book is almost as extraordinary as its contents. It seems, from the preface of the translator, that nearly all the copies of the original work were destroyed by order of Pope Gregory the Thirteenth; and that a gentleman in 1652, on digging the foundation of a house, on a site occupied by his ancestors, turned up a book carefully wrapped in coarse linen cloth and covered with bees-wax, which proved to be the "Divine Discourses" of Luther, as buried by his grandfather, in order to evade the edict of the Pope. As at that time Ferdinand the Second filled the imperial throne, a bitter enemy of the Protestants; the gentleman, Caspar Von Sparr by name, only thought of getting the book safely out of his hands without destroying it. He happened to have an intimate friend in England, one Captain Henry Bell, well versed in the German language: to him, therefore, he despatches the sacred deposit, and accompanies it with strict charges to translate the work for
the benefit of the protestant church. These injunctions appear to have made a serious impression on the mind of the Captain; for, neglecting to obey them for a time, he was visited by a phantom, who repeated the commands of his friend Sparr, and added a threat which was but too shortly after carried into execution.
"Then about six weeks after I had received the said book, it fell out, that I being in bed with my wife, one night between twelve and one of the clock, she being asleep, but myself yet awake, there appeared unto me an ancient man, standing at my bedside, arrayed all in white, having a long and broad white beard, hanging down to his girdle-steed, who, taking me by my right ear, spake these words following unto me. Sirrah! Will you not take time to translate that book which is sent unto you out of Germanie? I will shortly provide for you, both time and place to do it.' And then he vanished away out of my sight."
About a fortnight after this, Captain Bell was imprisoned in the Gate-house, Westminster, where he spent ten years of captivity. Five of these he employed on the translation of the work before us. It happened to reach the ears of Archbishop Laud, that he was so occupied, who sent his chaplain to demand the loan of the translation. This he kept about two years, and then declared that he had perused it with the utmost satisfaction, and promised that he would interfere in behalf of one who had employed his time to such good purpose. Soon after, the prisoner was set at liberty with a present from Laud; and the House of Commons in 1646, having notice that so valuable a work was completed, ordered it to be printed, which was accordingly done, though it did not make its appearance until after the death of the worthy translator.*
The contents of this book were chiefly collected from the mouth of Luther by Antony Lauterbach and John Aurifaber, more particularly the latter, who was much with Luther towards the latter end of his life. They consist of notes of his discourses with his various friends and disciples, his opinions, his cursory observations and familiar conversations in society, in the intercourse of private friendship, in his walks, during the
The order of the House of Commons runs thus: "Whereas, Captain Henry Bell hath strangely discovered and found a book of Martin Luther's, called his Divine Discourses, which was for a long time marvellously preserved in Germanie: the which book, the said Henry Bell, at his great cost and pains, hath translated into English out of the German tongue," &c.
performance of his clerical duties and at table. To use the words of an eloquent letter to the translator prefixed to this volume," Herein is a full character of the free and zealous spirit of Martin Luther, who was a man of God raised in his generation with invincible courage to beat down the strongest holds of Satan, wherein for manie generations he had captivated the spirits of our forefathers under poperie. The depth and soliditie of his judgment may be discovered in the writings which he himself did publish in his life-time: but in this collection of his extemporary discourses published since his death, the fullness of his affection, and genuine readiness of his spirit, may be seen, which did incline him to advance the truth of the gospel, and manifest the testimonie of Jesus upon all occasions. And truly, I have met, (in that which I have looked upon) with many excellent and fundamental truths, necessarie to be minded in this age, as well as in that wherein he spake them; and the gracefulness which they have in their familiar and careless dress doth make them the more commendable to all men of ingenuitie, not only of popular capacities, but even of more raised thoughts. Whence I do probably conjecture that the plainness and great variety of matters contained in these discourses, did in the first reformation ingratiate the delivery and insinuate the consideration of most eminent truths with acceptance into all men's apprehensions, so far, as to cause the enemies of those truths to endeavour the suppressing of this book, which they found to be so much taking with every body, and so full of deadly blows given to their superstition and hierarchie, to their profaneness, hypocrisie, and impietie."
It is, however, to the "full character of the free and zealous spirit of Luther," herein contained, that we chiefly intend to direct our attention; for such is the nature of its contents, that we should in vain seek elsewhere for more striking and interesting specimens of the talents, the disposition, and manners of the great Reformer, than in this volume of his "Table-Talk." And certainly if the personal character of any individual deserves to be dwelt upon, it is that of Luther. In no other instance have such great events depended upon the courage, sagacity, and energy, of a single man, nor can there be found a more profitable study than the temper and peculiarities of one, who, by his sole and unassisted efforts, made his solitary cell the heart and centre of the most wonderful and important commotion the world ever witnessed; who, by the native force and vigour of his genius, attacked and successfully resisted and at length overthrew the most awful and sacred authority that ever imposed its commands on mankind.
In perusing the extracts we shall make from this book, it must always be recollected that they shew the Reformer in his
VOL. V. PART II.
undress, and are not to be taken as specimens of what he wrote or preached when girded up for great occasions ;-though it may be observed that, like most men of genius, there was less difference in the language and manner of Luther in private and public, than is the case with those who cannot afford to be free, homely, and familiar:-a great peculiarity of both his preaching and writing was, that, despising all form and authority, he went straight to the hearts of his hearers and readers, and never hesitated to use an image or impression, however coarse or homely, provided it conveyed his meaning with liveliness and force.
We will commence our quotations by his occasional observations on this subject of preaching, which will confirm our remark.
Luther's Preaching and Opinions of Preachers.
"When I (said Luther) am in the pulpit, then I resolve to preach onely to men and maid-servants. I would not make a step into the pulpit for the sakes of Philip Melancthon, Justus Jonas, or the whole Universitie; for they are alreadie well seen in Scripture. But when preachers will direct their sermons to the high learned and deep understanding, and will breathe out altogether Rabinos and master-pieces, then the poor unlearned people present do stand like a flock of kine."-p. 289.
"Luther's wife said unto him-Sir, I heard your cousen John Palner (who attended on Luther) preach this afternoon in the parish church, whom I better understood than Doctor Pommer, that is held to be a very excellent preacher. Whereupon Luther made her this answer, John Palner preacheth as ye women use to talk; for what cometh in your mindes, the same ye also speak. A preacher ought to remain by the propounded text, and should deliver that which he hath before him; to the end, people may well understand the same. But such a preacher as will speak every thing that cometh in his minde, I liken to a maid that goeth to market, when another maid meeteth her, then they make a stand, and hold together a goose-market, &c."-p. 284.
"The defects in a preacher are soon spied; let a preacher be endued with ten virtues, and have but one fault; yet the same one fault will eclipse and darken all his virtues and gifts, so evil is the world in these times. Doctor Justus Jonas hath all the good virtues and qualities that a man may have; yet by reason that he onely often hummeth and spitteth; therefore the people cannot bear with that good and honest man."-p. 284.
"Thereupon, answered Luther, and said, I use not to collect and fasten every point in particular, but onely the chief and head points on which the contents of the whole sermon depend, as, namely, in this sermon, I directed the admonition to God's chiefest service, as the hearing of his word. Afterwards in speaking, such things fall into my minde, of which before I never thought; for if I should com