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TRANSLATION OF THE BIBLE.
The authorised translation of the Bible, on the whole so admirable both for correctness and beauty of style, is apt, on the first thought, to be regarded as exhibiting the actual state of the language in the time of James I., when it was first published. It is to be remembered, however, that the new translation was formed, by the special direc. tions of the king, upon the basis of that of Parker's, or the Bishops' Bible, which had been made nearly forty years before, and which had itself been founded upon that of Cranmer, made in the reign of Henry VIII. The consequence is, as Mr. Hallam has remarked, that, whether the style of King James's translation be the perfection of the English language or no, it is not the language of his reign. “It may, in the eyes of many,” adds Mr. Hallam, “be a better English, but it is not the English of Daniel, or Raleigh, or Bacon, as any one may easily perceive. It abounds, in fact, especially in the Old Testament, with obsolete phraseology, and with single words long since abandoned, or retained only in provincial use.” This is, perhaps, rather strongly put; for although the preceding version served as a general guide to the translators, and was not needlessly deviated from, they have evidently modernized its style, not perhaps quite up to that of their own day, but so far, we apprehend, as to exclude nearly all words and phrases that had then passed out even of common and familiar use. In that theological age, indeed, few forms of expression found in the Bible could well have fallen altogether into
desuetude, although some may have come to be less apt and significant than they once were, or than others that might now be substituted for them. But we believe the new translators, in any changes they made, were very careful to avoid the employment of any mere words of yesterday, the glare of whose recent coinage would have contrasted offensively with the general antique colour of diction which they desired to retain. If ever their version were to be revised, whether to improve the rendering of some passages by the lights of modern criticism, or to mend some hardness and intricacy of construction in others, it ought to be retouched in the same spirit of affectionate veneration for the genius and essential characteristics of its beautiful style; and a good rule to be laid down might be, that no word should be admitted in the improved renderings which was not in use in the age when the translation was originally made. The language was then abundantly rich enough to furnish all the words that could be wanted for the purpose.
THEOLOGICAL WRITERS.—JAMES I.-BISHOP ANDREWS.DONNE.—HALL.-HOOKER.
Besides the translation of the Bible, the portion of the English literature of the present period that is theological is very great in point of quantity, and a part of it also possesses distinguished claims to notice in a literary point of view. Religion was the great subject of speculation and controversy in this country throughout the entire space of a century and a half between the Reformation and the Revolution; and nothing can more strikingly
illustrate the universality of the interest that was now taken in theological controversy, than the fact that both the kings whose reigns fill the first half of the seventeenth century have left us a considerable quantity of literary manufacture of their own, and that it is almost all theological. The writings of Charles I. will be noticed in the next Book. King James, whose works were collected and published in a folio volume in 1616, under the care of Dr. Mountague, Bishop of Winchester, had published what he called a “Fruitful Meditation' upon part of the Apocalypse, “in form of ane sermon,” so early as the year 1588, when he was only a youth of two and twenty. Indeed, according to Bishop Mountague's account, this performance was “written by his majesty before he was twenty years of age.” Soon after, on the destruction of the Spanish Armada, he produced another ‘Meditation' on certain verses of one of the chapters of the First Book of Chronicles. Among his subsequent publications are Meditations on the Lord's Prayer and on some verses of the 27th chapter of St. Matthew. And nearly all his other works, his ‘Daemonologie,” first published in 1597; his “True Law of Free Monarchies,” 1598; his ‘Basilicon Doron,’ or advice to his son Prince Henry, 1599; his ‘Apology for the Oath of Allegiance,’ 1605,-are, in the main, theological treatises. It is scarcely necessary to add that they are of little or no value, either theological or literary; though they are curious as illustrating the intellectual and moral character of James, who was certainly a person of no depth either of learning or of judgment, though of some reading in the single province of theology, and also of considerable shrewdness and readiness, and an inexhaustible flow of words, which he mistook for eloquence and genius. The mass of the theological literature of this period consists of sermons and controversial tracts, all of which, with a few exceptions, have now passed into complete oblivion. One of the most eminent preachers, perhaps the most eminent, of the age of Elizabeth and James, was Dr. Lancelot Andrews, who, after having held the sees of Chichester and Ely, died Bishop of Winchester in 1626. Bishop Andrews was one of the translators of the Bible, and is the author, among other works, of a folio volume of sermons published by direction of Charles I., soon after his death ; of another folio volume of tracts and speeches, which appeared in 1629; of a third volume of lectures on the Ten Commandments, published in 1642; and of a fourth, containing lectures delivered at St. Paul's and at St. Giles's, Cripplegate, published in 1657. He was, perhaps, the most learned of the English theologians of that learned time, and was besides a person of great vigour and acuteness of understanding; so that his death was regarded by scholars both at home and abroad as the extinction of the chief light of the English church. Milton, then a youth of seventeen, bewailed the event in a Latin elegy, full of feeling and fancy; and even in a tract written many years afterwards, when his opinions had undergone a complete change, he admits that “Bishop Andrews of late years, and in these times the Primate of Armagh (Usher), for their learning are reputed the best able to say what may be said" in defence of episcopacy.” Both the learning
and ability of Andrews, indeed, are conspicuous in every thing he has written; but his eloquence, nevertheless, is to a modern taste grotesque enough. In
his more ambitious passages he is the very prince of
verbal posture-masters, if not the first in date, the first in extravagance, of the artificial, quibbling, syllabletormenting school of our English pulpit rhetoricians; and he undoubtedly contributed more to spread the disease of that manner of writing than any other individual. Not only did his eminence in this line endear him to the royal tastes of Elizabeth and James; all men admired and strove to copy after him. Fuller declares that he was “an inimitable preacher in his way;” and then he tell us that “pious and pleasant Bishop Felton, his contemporary and colleague, endeavoured in vain in his sermons to assimilate his style, and therefore said merrily of himself, I had almost marred my own natural trot by endeavouring to imitate his artificial amble.” Many a “natural trot” Andrews no doubt was the cause of spoiling in his day, and long after it. This bishop is further very notable, in the history of the English church, as the first great assertor of those semi-popish notions touching doctrines, rites, and ecclesiastical government with which Laud afterwards blew up the establishment. Andrews, however, was a very different sort of person from Laud, - as superior to him in sense and policy as in learning and general strength and comprehensiveness of understanding. A well-known story that is told of him proves his moderation as much as his wit and readiness: when he and Dr. Neal, Bishop of Durham, were one day standing behind the king's chair as he sat at dinner (it was the day on which James dissolved his last