16 NOVEMBER 1867, Page 19

vague and empty idealist. • THE two new volumes recently

published by M. Ardslee Thierry

But it is somewhat remarkable in a hook which has so much are among the most interesting of those which he has devoted to humour and talent as the Romance of a Garret, how very little that borderland of history between the ancient and modern worlds art is shown in the construction of the story, and how needlessly which comprises the fourth and fifth centuries of our era. The the author breaks in upon all dramatic propriety, not only when greater part of the work consists of a biography of the great he has something good though inappropriate to say, but even when he Dalmatian Father, of which M. Thierry tells us he is not only the only wishes to say something which might much better not have hero, but really the author, and which might have been termed been said at all. For instance, when the poor /wets/tear, whose his " memoirs." The latter third of the second volume, entitled history is supposed to be narrated, at last proposes to the upper " Adventures of a Daughter of Theodosius," relates the strange servant, as she then appears, whose beauty and modesty and close romantic career of Placidia, in turn Queen of the Goths and study of his wants has won his heart, we may surely assume that Empress of the West, sketching by the way those two singular unless he was a very pedantic ass indeed (which he certainly is not personages, Aetius, tha conqueror of Attila, and Boniface, the meant to be), he would not address one whom he believed to be betrayer of Africa to the Vandals.

almost without any education—and who, in fact, had but little— This shorter work, let it be said by the way, has literally all the in high-flown classical allusions. Yet he is made to say to her, interest of a novel, and vies, indeed, in incident with the moat " What has the world done for me, Dorry, that I should bow down sensational. The daughter of the last great Emperor of Rome, and worship it? Where can I turn to one loving heart amongst young and beautiful, falls in the sack of the Eternal City into the my own set who would marry me without all those iconoclastic hands of the great King of the Goths, Alaric, and from his into forms and ceremonies in settlements and lawyers' bills, enough those of his brother-in-law and successor, Ataulf (our ' Adolphus'), to make Eros sheulder to the very tip of his pinions." That is a barbarian of the barbarians, whose only dream is to abolish outrageously out of all nature. The truth is, that the author has the Empire, and change " Rome-land " into " Goth-land." mixed up his own classical and feeble soliloquy, with the speech But he falls in love with his captive, and love transforms he puts into his hero's mouth to this half educated damsel who him into a passionate admirer of Roman civilization, anxious

has waited upon Lim in his lodgings. to restore ' the Empire through the willing sword and ser- Again, the same sort of gaps and incorporated foreign sub- vice of his Goths. He marries her ; an ex-Emperor sings stances, by the intrusion of which the author spoils his the wedding song ; among the wedding gifts is a tray full real dramatic talent, he also sprinkles with unfortunate of jewels from the sack of Rome. The daughter of Theodosius assiduity through this awkwardly patched two-volume story. bears a son to her barbarian husband, and calls him by her father's Almost all the first half of the first volume is very poor name ; but the child dies, the father is murdered by a groom, all literary "shop,"—containing much anecdote of the mechanical the pent-up barbarism of the Gothic race bursts forth again ; the detail of newspaper and magazine contributors' duties and diffi- next king, Sigeric, makes Placidia walk twelve miles in front of his culties, such as seems to have a sort of mysterious sacredness in hoise in a crowd of captives ; his successor, again, Wallin, sells her some people's eyes, though it is really no better worth recording back to her brother Honorius for G00,000 measures of wheat. She

than the detail of a cobbler's duties and difficulties in learning to is next forced to marry a Roman general, Constantius, and ambi- wax his thread and use his awl, or a grocer's in wrapping up tea tion now seems to replace love in her heart. Without affection and sugar in neat little parcels. The first half of the first volume,— for her second husband, she obtains honour after honour for her did not stray gleams of ability shine out here and there,—would son Valentinian, for herself, and for her husband, who receives certainly be wearisome enough to deter most people from going on from her brother the title and the purple mantle of an emperor. with the book at all. And even when the life of the book really But he dies six months after, and Placidia takes possession of her friend, Aetius, instigates the latter to revolt ; he calls the Vandals

Sainte. Par M. Amidie Thlerey, Srardeur et Membre de I'Lnatitut. Parte : Didier

women. But M. Thierry's admiration for his hero, whilst it does not, indeed, altogether blind him to his faults, or to the mis- chievous tendencies of his teachings, yet leads the writer into com- plete partizanship as towards Jerome's opponents. In describing these and their motives, he seems quite satisfied to adopt Jerome's own words, and repeat all the insults of one who, if he had not been recognized as a Father of the Church, would have been known simply as the most foul-mouthed satirist of the age. It is rather too bad, three centuries after the Reformation, to have to receive one's character of Vigilantius from Jerome's libels against him,—a man who, though the Dalmatian might call him Dormitantius," was wide-awake enough to have anticipated the present conclusions of half Christendom as to the worship of the saints, religious virginity, fasting, and ceremonial. So, in the discussion with Augustin as to the dispute between St. Peter and St. Paul, M. Thierry sees nothing in Augustin's grand vindication of moral truth against the Oriental theory, adopted by Jerome, of a rehearsed scene between the two apostles, but "logical deduc- tions " from a "philosophical point of view." Still more painful is it to find M. Thierry making it a title of honour for his hero to have shared in procuring that posthumous anathematizing of Origen, which fills one of the saddest pages in' the history of the Church of the fifth century. There is something repulsive in all posthumous sentences, when the lips are closed for ever that should defend themselves ; but how much more so in matters of faith ! "Both our law judge any man before it hear him, and know what he doeth ?" Oh, that the Church of Christ should have ever forgotten that warning of wise Gamaliel I

If the reader will be on his guard against M. Thierry's too easy adoption of Jerome's dislikes and hatreds, of his satires and his libels, he will find the work as interesting as it is instructive ; and even less so as a full-size portrait of a very remarkable personage, than as a series of pictures from one of the most strange and stirring epochs of the world's history, which happens at the same time to be one of 'the least known. The interest, indeed, of Jerome's own life lies in great measure in the frame in which it is thus set ; for, with one great exception, the man himself is far more interesting to posterity by what he was to his con- temporaries than by what he left behind. Voluminous as are his works, they are not like Augustin's, such as generation after generation of mankind may feed on. They are curious, striking, powerful, amusing sometimes, occasionally eve-n touching, often marked by rough, strong, common sense, historically most instruc- tive, but that is all. M. Thierry has done well to reprint at full length Jerome's famous letter on " Virginity " to Eustochium,—a poor girl who seems almost to have been unsexed by name in order to render her a less unfit object for the outpouring of Jerome's holy filth. A more powerful deterrent from monachism, to any really pure or lofty mind, can hardly be imagined. Jerome shows almost at the outset how the austerities of the desert, instead of quelling fleshly desires, stimulated them almost to madness, and a more curious pathological study than his crude description of this terrible state of mind cannot be imagined. But the most repulsive feature about the'work is the under-current of gross religious selfish- ness which runs through it. The writer is of course compelled in some way to approve of marriage. But all the deep teaching of the Bible, in both its volumes, as to the sacredness of that relation, which is the appointed type of God's union with His people, of Christ's union with the Church, is utterly lost upon him. Not only has he the miserably bad taste to dwell on the necessary in- conveniences and trials of married life, on the burthen of maternal duties, as incentives to religious virginity, but, in the face of the Epistle to the Ephesians, he has the effrontery (it is difficult to use a milder word) to write, "I praise marriage, but because it begets virgins for me." A more audacious blasphemy against the divine order of the Family was never uttered by Turk or Mormon.

It is pleasant to turn from these perversions of Jerome's vigor- ous intellect to his really great work, the translating, or it might be said the editing, of the Scriptures. Already, before 384, while at Rome, as secretary to Pope Damasius, we find him revising upon the Greek texts the current Latin translations of the Gospels and of the Psalms, of the former of which he tells us there were nearly as many versions as there were manuscripts. Some years later, in ,his monastery near Bethlehem, he learns Hebrew and Chaldaic, and after revising the old Latin Vulgate of 'the Old Testament from the Greek text of the Hexapla, he undertakes a new transla- tion from the original languages. No unmanly, ungodly scruples seem to have hampered him for one moment in his search after the most correct texts, the aptest renderings—in two words, to use his own singular expression, after the "Hebrew truth" (vent as Hebraica). Of course he raised a hornet's nest against him

by so doing. There was then, as we may see there is now, a vested interest somewhere in every blunder and false read- ing. He was accused of falsifying wherever he corrected, of weakening faith whenever he sought to remove an error. It would have been better for him, he bitterly declared, to plait rush baskets or mat palm leaves together, than to have undertaken such a work ; none would then bite or reprove him. Have we nothing to learn from his example? How long will the text of King James's version remain yet officially unrevised, in the face of the accumulation of -critical knowledge of the last two centuries and a half? In France, as is well known, a late noble effort for a revised translation of the whole Bible, by a society presided over by M. Amed6e Thierry himself, and countenanced by some of the highest dignitaries of the French Roman Catholic Church, has been checked from Rome. What wonder, whilst England herself, half-hearted, dares not put her hand to the work?

It would be invidious to dwell on a few minor blemishes in M. Thierry's volumes. Whilst perfectly honest, he is apt, as of old, —especially when swayed by traditional religious feelings,—to see a little more in a text than it contains. Virgines prophetx—words used by Jerome, after St. Luke, in speaking of Philip the Deacon's four daughters (whom, by the way, M. Thierry reduces to three), does not mean "prophetesses pour prix de leer virginiti," but simply, "virgin prophets." He is again led away by Romish tradition (from which we English are only of late years, on this point, getting clear) into confusing the "deaconesses" with the " widows " of the Church, and the reader should be warned that when he intro- duces the former word (for instance, in reference to Jerome's letter to Eustochium), it may be quite without authority in the text. A more singular mistake, arising from a visible forgetfulness of Joshua ix., is where, speaking of the Gibeouites, he translates "insidias fiederis impetrati," "the craft of the league obtained," by "leer alliance viole'e."

But when the worst is said, M. Thierry's St. Jerome will remain as one of the most complete and instructive examples of religious biography which the nineteenth century has produced,--not a mere piece of book-making, but a real book.