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A Hero and Some Other Folks by William A. Quayle

The books of the Bible are less affected than the Iliad


to it; but what the date and

who the author, is very seldom agreed between any two. The criticism is largely of the _ipse dixit_ sort, and the grounds of attack are, though rationalistic, seldom rationally taken. In the vaunted name of reason, the most monstrous absurdities are perpetrated. The line of argument professed to be used is inductive; but in reality the inductive element in this criticism stands second, and the deductive element has the chief seat in the synagogue. The assumption in the case, the _a priori, sine qua non_ ("without which nothing")--these are the all-important elements in the discussion. It is the Homeric argument restated. Each man professes to find his hypothesis in the structure and language of the book. In fact, the author usually began with his hypothesis, and seeks to find proofs for the staying his assumptions up. The Scriptures are open to investigation. They challenge it. No one need offer an objection to the most scrutinizing inquiry. The book is here, and must stand upon its merits. Its high claims need not deter scholarship from its investigation. Only, to use the language of Bishop Butler in regard to another matter, "Let reason be kept to." If we are to be regaled with flights of imagination, let them be thus denominated; but let men not profess to be following the leadership of scholarship and scientific candor, when they are in reality dealing in imagination and scientific dogmatism, and appealing to philology to give them much needed support. After
these years of attack from a literary standpoint, the books of the Bible are less affected than the Iliad. The Atomist has signally failed to make a single case. Iconoclasm has performed its task as best it could, and finds its labor lost. The criticism of to-day is, even in Germany, professedly in favor of the integrity of the Scripture.

But I pass to another part of the literary field. From the Bible to Shakespeare. This, at first thought, may seem a long journey. There appears but little congruity between the two. The only needed connection is the similarity of attack. The same spirit has whetted its sword against each; but the lack of similarity is more apparent than real. The Bible is God's exhibit of human nature and its relation to the Divine personality and plans. Shakespeare is man's profoundest exhibit of man in his relation to present and future. The fields are the same. They differ in extent. The profoundness of Shakespeare seems a shoreward shallow when viewed alongside the Bible. The Bible and Shakespeare have a further similarity, not one of character, but of results.

Each has been a potential factor in the stability of the English language. They each present the noble possibilities of the speech of the Anglo-Saxon. Each has left its indelible impress on speech and literature. Kossuth's mastery of English is by him attributed to the Bible, Shakespeare, and Webster's Dictionary. These were his sole masters, and sufficed to give him a command of language which ranks him among the princes of our English speech. That the authorship of the Iliad and the books of the Bible should be attacked is cause for little surprise. They were works of antiquity. It is an observable tendency of the mind to doubt a thing far removed in time. We lose sight of evidence. We dispense with the leadership of reason, and let inclination and imagination guide. This is a bias which antiquity must meet and, if it may, master. If the Iliad and the Bible were vulnerable in this regard, Shakespeare was not. He was a modern. His thought is neither ancient nor mediaeval. He has the characteristics of modern life, begotten of the hot-blooded era in which he lived. The modern Shakespeare is


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