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ceived more improper for fiction, nothing more incapable of affording a moral lesson than the insanity which arises wholly from disease. Insanity is, in no point of view, a theme for ridicule ; and this is an inherent fault of the romance (for those who have imagined that Cervantes has not rendered Quixote ridiculous have a strange notion of the word); but the thoughtlessness of mankind, rather than their insensibility, for they do not connect madness with misery, furnishes some apology for the first two volumes. In proportion as we perceive below the veil of mental delusion a noble intellect, we feel a painful sympathy with its humiliation; the character becomes more complicated and interesting, but has less truth and naturalness; an objection which might also be made, comparatively speaking, to the incidents in the latter volumes, wherein I do not find the admirable probability that reigns through the former.
But this contrast of wisdom and virtue with insanity in the same subject, would have been repulsive in the primary delineation, as I think any one may judge by supposing Cervantes had, in the first chapter, drawn such a picture of Quixote as Bouterwek and Sismondi have drawn for him.
I must, therefore, venture to think as, I believe, the world has generally thought for two centuries, that Cervantes had no more profound aim than he proposes to the reader. If the fashion of reading bad romances of chivalry perverted the taste of his contemporaries, and rendered their language ridiculous, it was natural that a zealous lover of good literature should expose this folly to the world by exaggerating its effects on a fictitious personage. It as been said by some modern writer, though I cannot remember by whom, that there was a prose side in the mind of Cervantes. There was indeed a side of calm strong sense, which some take for unpoetical. He thought the tone of those romances extravagant. It might naturally occur how absurd any one must appear who should attempt to realize in actual life the adventures of Amadis. Already a novelist, he perceived the opportunities this idea suggested. It was a necessary consequence that the hero must be represented as literally insane, since his conduct would have been extravagant beyond the probability of fiction on any other hypothesis ; and from this happy conception germinated in a very prolific mind the whole history of Don Quixote. Its simplicity is perfect; no limit could be found save the author's discretion, or sense that he had drawn sufficiently on his imagination ; but the death of Quixote, which Cervantes has been said to have determined upon, lest some one else should a second time presume to continue the story, is in fact the only possible termination that could be given, after he had elevated the character to that pitch of mental dignity which we find in the last two volumes.
Few books of moral philosophy display as deep an insight into the mechanism of the mind as Don Quixote. And when we look also at the fertility of invention, the general probability of events, and the great simplicity of the story, wherein no artifices are practised to create suspense, or complicate the action, we shall think Cervantes fully deserving of the glory that attends this monument of his genius. It is not merely that he is superior to all his predecessors and contemporaries. This, though it might account for the European fame of his
romance, would be an inadequate testimony to its desert. Cervantes stands on an eminence below which we must place the best of his successors. We have only to compare him with Le Sage or Fielding, to judge of his vast superiority. To Scott indeed he must yield in the variety of his power; but, in the line of comic romance, we should hardly think Scott his equal.
65.—The Sermon of the Plough.
LATIMER. [Hugh LATIMER, one of the great Martyrs of the Reformation, was born about 1472. In one of his sermons, he says " My father was a yeoman, and had no lands of his own, only he had a farm of three or four pound by year at the uttermost. He kept me to school, or else I had not been able to have preached before the King's Majesty now.” At the time when he thus preached, he was Bishop of Worcester. Of the boldness of his preaching during the reign of Edward VI. his Sermons furnish ample evidence; and from one of the most remarkable we select the following striking passages. Upon the accession of Queen Mary, the resolute old man became one of the victims of persecution; and he was led to the stake at Oxford, with Ridley as his companion in death, on the 16th of October, 1555.]
“ All things which are written, are written for our erudition and knowledge. All things that are written in God's book, in the Bible book, in the book of the holy scripture, are written to be our doctrine." I told you in
my first sermon, honourable audience, that I proposed to declare unto you two things. The one, what seed should be sown in God's field, in God's plough-land. And the other, who should be the
That is to say, what doctrine is to be taught in Christ's church and congregation, and what men should be the teachers and preachers of it. The first part I have told you in the three sermons past, in which I have essayed to set forth my plough, to prove what I could do. And now I shall tell you who be the ploughers; for God's word is a seed to be sown in God's field, that is, the faithful congregation, and the preacher is the sower. And it is in the gospel ; “He that soweth, the husbandman, the ploughman, went forth to sow his seed.” So that a preacher is resembled to a ploughman, as it is in another place; “No man that putteth his hand to the plough, and looketh back, is apt for the kingdom of God.”—Luke ix. That is to say, let no preacher be negligent in doing his office.
For preaching of the gospel is one of God's plough-works, and the preacher is one of God's ploughmen. Ye may not be offended with my similitude in that I compare preaching to the labour and work of ploughing, and the preacher to a ploughman. Ye may not be offended with this
similitude, for I have been slandered of some persons for such things. But as preachers must be wary and circumspect, that they give not any just occasion to be slandered and ill spoken of by the hearers, so must not the auditors be offended without cause. For heaven is in the gospel likened to a mustard seed: it is compared also to a piece of leaven; and as Christ saith, that at the last day he will come like a thief; and what dishonour is this to God? Or what derogation is this to heaven? Ye may not then, I say, be offended with my similitude, for because I liken preaching to a ploughman's labour, and a prelate to a ploughman. But now you will ask me whom I call a prelate ? A prelate is that man, whatever he be, that hath a flock to be taught of him ; whosoever hath any spiritual charge in the faithful congregation, and whosoever he be that hath cure of souls. And well may the preacher and the ploughman be likened together: First, for their labour of all seasons of the year; for there is no time of the year in which the ploughman hath not some special work to do. As in my country, in Leicestershire, the ploughman hath a time to set forth, and to assay his plough, and other times for other necessary works to be done. And then they also may be likened together for
the diversity of works, and variety of offices that they have to do. For as the ploughman first setteth forth his plough, and then tilleth his land, and breaketh it in furrows, and sometime ridgeth it up again; and at another time narroweth it and clotteth it, and sometime dungeth it and hedgeth it, diggeth it and weedeth it, purgeth and maketh it clean; so the prelate, the preacher, hath many diverse offices to do. He hath first a busy work to bring his parishioners to a right faith, as Paul calleth it; and not a swerving faith, but to a faith that embraceth Christ, and trusteth to his merits; a lively faith, a justifying faith ; a faith that maketh a man righteous without respect of works; as ye have it very well declared and set forth in the homily. He hath then a busy work, I say, to bring his flock to a right faith, and then to confirm them in the same faith. Now casting them down with the law, and with threatenings of God for sin ; now ridging them up again with the gospel, and with the promises of God's favour. Now weeding them, by telling them their faults, and making them forsake sin ; now clotting them, by breaking their stony hearts, and by making them supple-hearted, and making them to have hearts of flesh, that is, soft hearts, and apt for doctrine to enter in. Now teaching to know God rightly, and to know their duty to God and their neighbours. Now exhorting them when they know their duty, that they do it, and be diligent in it; so that they have a continual work to do. Great is their business, and therefore great should be their hire. They have great labours, and therefore they ought to have good livings, that they may commodiously feed their flock; for the preaching of the word of God unto the people is called meat: scripture calleth it meat: not strawberries *, that come but once a year, and tarry not long, but are soon gone; but it is meat, it is no dainties.
The people must have meat that must be familiar and continual, and daily given unto them to feed upon. Many make a strawberry of it, ministering it but once a year; but such do not the office of good prelates. For Christ saith, “ Who think
is a wise and faithful servant ? He that giveth meat in due time.” So that he must at all times convenient preach diligently: ther re
“Who trow ye is a faithful servant ?” He speaketh it as though it were a rare thing to find such a one, and as though he should say, there be but few of them to find in the world. And how few of them there be throughout this world that give meat to their flock as they should do, the visitors can best tell. Too few, too few, the more is the pity, and never so few as now.
* This expression which Latimer made use of to designate the non-residents of his day, who only visited their cures once a year, became proverbial.
By this then it appeareth that a prelate, or any that hath cure of souls, must diligently and substantially work and labour. Therefore saith Paul to Timothy, “He that desireth to have the office of a bishop, or a prelate, that man desireth a good work.” Then if it be a good work, it is work; ye can make but a work of it. It is God's work, God's plough, and that plough God would have still going. Such then as loiter and live idly, are not good prelates, or ministers. And of such as do not preach and teach, and do their duties, God saith by his prophet Jeremy, “Cursed be the man that doth the work of God fraudulently, guilefully or deceitfully;” some books have it negligenter, negligently or slackly. How many such prelates, how many such bishops, Lord, for thy mercy, are there now in England ? And what shall we in this case do ? shall we company with them? O Lord, for thy mercy! shall we not company with them? O Lord, whither shall we fiee from them? But “ cursed be he that doth the work of God negligently or guilefully." A sore word for them that are negligent in discharging their office, or have done it fraudulently; for that is the thing that maketh the people ill.
But now for the fault of unpreaching prelates, methink I could guess what might be said fór excusing of them. They are so troubled with lordly living, they be so placed in palaces, couched in courts, ruffling in their rents, dancing in their dominions, burdened with ambassages, pampering of their paunches, like a monk that maketh his jubilee: munching in their mangers, and moiling in their gay manors and mansions, and so troubled with loitering in their lordships, that they cannot attend it. They are otherwise occupied, some in the king's matters, some are ambassadors, some of the privy council, some to furnish the court, some are lords of the parliament, some are presidents, and some comptrollers of mints.
Well, well, is this their duty ? Is this their office? Is this their calling? Should we have ministers of the church to be comptrollers of the mints ? Is this a meet office for a priest that hath cure of souls? Is this his charge? I would here ask one question; I would fain know who controlleth the devil at home in his parish, while he controlleth