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history and politics, though philosophically cognate, is yet felt to encumber the course of the narrative. That diving into archives, far removed from ordinary gaze, and the bringing up of a pearl after every plunge, which distinguished the History of the Popes, has been busy again here, and imparts, if sometimes an uncouth, yet always a living interest to the story.
Though we class Ranke among those favourers of change who look at the change itself, from a neutral, rather than a party stand-point, we yet cannot be blind to the thorough Protestantism of both his works. Throughout his account of the Popes there is a determined bias to interpret their policy as purely secular, and he seldom extends to any of them even the tacit allowance that their course was really guided by the religious motives they professed. So with the Reformation. The Roman Church is regarded throughout as a corrupt institution, and the Reformation as a salutary innovation : the Reformers meet with a very fraternal treatment, and Luther, though not the faultless demi-god we see in D’Aubigné, is yet a manifest favourite. But there is a power of vision in Ranke for the deficiencies of the Reformers which D’Aubigné is entirely without, and an allowance for the difficulties and the good purposes of the Roman party, which the Genevese historian is no way disposed to make.
But assuming Cesare Cantù to be a tolerably good Catholic, neither of the above historians can rival the impartiality of the Italian, who though writing from the bosom of his Church, can see its many blemishes, and though evidently without any liking for the Reformers, can yet speak so handsomely of their labours and their characters. We suppose, however, Cantù is in fact a theological liberal, with the tastes and prepossessions of a Catholic, a reverence for the august idea of a Universal Church, a tenderness for the Church of his native land, and a sensitive perception of the harshness and unsympathizing narrowness of many of the views and modes of conduct of the continental Reformers. His work, though full of vivacity and interest, is slight and sketchy, as compared with the pulpit declamatoriness of D’Aubigné or the scientific ponderousness of Ranke. We have before us only the first of two volumes, and the contents of these are extracted from Cantù's
Universal History, of which there have been seven different reprints in Italy, and three translations in France, Belgium and Germany. He concedes more to the good qualities of the Reformers, than either of the Protestant authors do to their opponents, perhaps indeed because the nature of the case demands thus much from every unblinded writer. He can condemn a Pope and eulogize a Reformer. Hear him on Leo X. and Calvin :
“Leo X. came to the Pontifical chair in the flower of his age. Cultivated, amiable and peaceful, he was an intellectual voluptuary. Sometimes he would listen to music, himself humming an accompaniment to the air ; at others, he witnessed the representation of the comedies of Macchiavelli and Bibiena, or assisted at the mock triumphs of the Court fools Querno and Baraballo. He disconcerted his chamberlain by appearing in public without his rocket, and sometimes even in boots. He hunted during entire days at Viterbo and Corneto, fished at Bolsena, caressed Aretino and Ariosto. He accepted the dedication of the very immoral poem of the latter; of the voyages of Rutilio Namaziano, one of the last pagans rabid against Christianity; and of the annotations of Erasmus on the New Testament, which were afterwards placed in the index of prohibited books. In short he was a perfect gentleman, but a very bad Pope. He spent, 100,000 ducats at his coronation, which was celebrated with princely ceremonies and diversions. Besides dissipating the treasures amassed by Julius II. to drive the Barbarians from Italy, he pledged the jewels of St. Peter, and sold numberless places, so as to increase the annual expenditure of the Church to forty millions of ducats, and to incur immense debts. To indulge his family ambition he intrigued with foreign Princes, and was guilty of unheard-of rigours, so that the people said of him, ‘he rose stealthily like a fox, reigned like a lion, and ended like a dog. With all these faults he maintained the purest integrity in conferring benefices, &c.”— Cantù, p. 9-10.
“ Calvin, being endowed with great talents and much general knowledge, was consulted by all parties. He preached almost daily, and though naturally of a weak constitution, attended the consistories, which were frequently summoned. He solicited shelter and assistance for refugees ; he was upright in his dealings, and of most unimpeachable morals. One hundred and twenty-five crowns was all the property he left behind him ; thus showing that although he had repudiated the gentleness and toleration of the apostles, he had not disdained their poverty.* Strict without
"** I do not believe the calumnies of the apostate Friar Bolsec, though they have been often repeated.
asceticism, religious without either charity or enthusiasm, and a determined defender of order, during his reign at Geneva, he promulged and upheld good laws.”—Cantù, p. 149, 150.
A question of considerable interest arises, on an examination of the different tendencies of these three authors, from the place and prominence which they respectively give to the reforming element, the presence of which all of them of course acknowledge. D’Aubigné represents the ordinary Protestant view—not the view which is claimed as especially Protestant by the anti-popish party in this country ; we entirely exonerate this writer from the charge of anything so vulgar and contracted—but the view which contemplates the Reformation as a work entirely ab extra, as a great force brought to bear from without on a corrupt Church, as a deluge of water poured down from the heavens to purify the land. While Cantù on the other hand seeks to show from every circumstance he can bring to bear upon the subject, that the reforming power was already working actively within the Church, and was impeded rather than assisted by the violent efforts of the reformers; who in fact encumbered the true Church of Christ with their assistance.
“ The Church herself," he says, “never sought to conceal, still less to justify, abuses, and pronounced judgment against them in all her Councils, whether general or local, in terms far stronger than those of the Reformers. Would it not have been possible for an exalted and sincere spirit, with a comprehensive and Christian resolution, to mediate between the lamentable discrepancy of ecclesiastical and political interests, and settle the division between Church and State? Would it not have been possible to effect the Reformation, peacefully amending without demolishing, by love and not by hatred, consolidating not destroying ?”_" This problem can no longer be resolved, but it would have been an enterprise worthy of great men.”—Cantù, p. 29.
Ranke seizes the remaining idea, when, while bringing honestly out into the light the genial and devout efforts after amelioration in the Church itself, he attributes the awakening power of those times to the fearless action upon the Church from without.
Certainly one of the most energetic provocatives to reforms both in the constitution and in the doctrine of Churches has, according to all history, been of this nature, and proceeds from the existence of gross external abuses. In these the Reformer has generally found his best friends. The brutish and the selfish can feel these as well as the spiritually-minded, and disinterested. They form a plea which the ignorant can understand, which the carnal can enforce, and on which the vicious can be indignant. The existence of such things places in the hands of the doctrinal and spiritual Reformer an incalculable accessory power, and gathers round him a mass of worldly force, which no mere speculative movement could ever have secured to him. There is, however, one great drawback on success in resting the lever of reform on these abuses, which, notwithstanding the aid they render up to a certain point, makes their absence for the higher reforms at length a desideratum. When a Church is full of great practical abuses, the finer sense of the whole community is blunted. Men's minds are lowered and perverted by the contemplation of gross things, and errors not less real, and wrongs not less grievous, are suffered to pass unremoved, nay do actually continue unperceived, from their connection with a class of feelings more inward and spiritual, and perhaps even yet not perfectly developed. So that for the first rude attack of the doctrinal Reformer, a good array of grenadier abuses is invaluable; but for the subtler and more spiritual work, which remains, when the fort is taken, they are better out of the way. This constitutes the absurdity of those impatient persons, who, without any perception of differences, cry out for second reformations. There can be no second reformation equal or similar to the first: we have not the material. No Church in the world gives the handle to the Reformer which it once gave. They are all too well taught by the past and by the present; but this very fact clears the way for the perception and examination of less palpable evils, and leaves the mind free for a more refined, though more slow and arduous, undertaking.
No combination of circumstances could be imagined more conducive to success in their movement, than that which fell to the lot of the sixteenth-century Reformers. If they had had their choice of the precise moment in the world's and the Church's history in which they should step forward, this would have been the one in which they
would have implored to be born into the world. No doubt, M. D’Aubigné's main position is generally sustained, that Providence did select this as the fulness of time for their work. On a comparison of the times of the present and previous Popes, says Felix Malleolus,“there never was seen the custom and continual exercise of a more execrable exorbitancy of direption, deception, circumvention, derogation, decerption, deprædation, spoliation, exaction, corrosion,* and, if we dare to say so, of the fresh invention and renewal of all kinds of simoniacal corruption,t than is seen now in the time of a modern Pope,” (Nicolas V.) “and is spreading day by day.”
“In the beginning of the sixteenth century there were the bitterest complaints of the ruinous nature of the annates. It was probably in itself the most oppressive tax in the empire: occasionally a prelate, in order to save his subjects from it, tried to mortgage some lordship of his see. Diether of Isenburg was deposed chiefly because he was unable to fulfil the engagements he had entered into concerning his Pallium. The more frequent the vacancies, the more intolerable was the exaction. In Passau, for example, these followed in 1482, 1486, 1490, 1500 : the last appointed bishop repaired to Rome in the hope of obtaining some alleviation of the burthens on his see; but he accomplished nothing, and his long residence at the papal court only increased his pecuniary difficulties. The cost of a pallium for Mainz amounted to 20,000 gulden; the sum was assessed on the several parts of the see: the Rheingau, for example, had to contribute 1,000 gulden each time. In the beginning of the sixteenth century, vacancies occurred three times in quick succession-1505, 1508, 1513; Jacob von Liebenstein said that his chief sorrow in dying was that his country would so soon again be forced to pay the dues : but all appeal to the papal court was fruitless : before the old tax was gathered in, the order for a new one was issued.”-Ranke, vol. i. p. 272, 3.
To these causes of dissatisfaction were added the heavy losses of territory sustained by Christendom to the Turks, which men believed would have been prevented, had half
* We find ourselves justified in the above latinized rendering by the hospitable scholarship of Dr. Johnson, who admits all the above words into the English language.
† Or it is rather“ of all simoniacal corruption in the matter of new introductions (into livings) and renewals (of such privileges).” The Latin words are, “et omnis si audemus dicere simoniacæ pravitatis adinventionis novæ et renovationis."