In presenting an English version of the celebrated work of M. Renan, the translator is aware of the difficulty of adequately rendering a work so admirable for its style and beauty of composition. It is not an easy task to reproduce the terseness and eloquence which characterize the original. Whatever its success in these respects may be, no pains have been spared to give the author's meaning. The translation has been revised by highly competent persons; but although great care has been taken in this respect, it is possible that a few errors may still have escaped notice.
The great problem of the present age is to preserve the religious spirit, whilst getting rid of the superstitions and absurdities that deform it, and which are alike opposed to science and common sense. The works of Mr. F.W. Newman and of Bishop Colenso, and the |Essays and Reviews,| are rendering great service in this direction. The work of M. Renan will contribute to this object; and, if its utility may be measured by the storm which it has created amongst the obscurantists in France, and the heartiness with which they have condemned it, its merits in this respect must be very great. It needs only to be added, that whilst warmly sympathizing with the earnest spirit which pervades the book, the translator by no means wishes to be identified with all the opinions therein expressed.
December 8, 1863.