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RANKE'S HISTORY OF THE POPES. *
[EDINBURGH Review, OCTOBER, 1840.]
It is hardly necessary for us to say, that this still sendir.g forth to the furthcst ends of the is an excellent book excellently translated world missionaries as zealous as those who The original work of Professor Ranke is known landed in Kent with Augustin; and still conand esteemed wherever German literature is fronting hostile kings with the same spirit with studied; and has been found interesting even which she confronted Attila. The number of in a most inaccurate and dishonest French her children is greater than in any former age. version. It is, indeed, the work of a mind fit- Her acquisitions in the New World have more ted both for minute researches and for large than compensated her for what she has lost in speculations. It is written also in an admi- the Old. Her spiritual ascendency extend rable spirit, equally remote from levity and over the vast counıries which lie between the bigotry; serious and earnest, yet tolerant and plains of the Missouri and Cape Horn-counimpartial. It is, therefore, with the greatest iries which, a century hence, may not impropleasure that we now see it take its place bably contain a population as large as that among the English classics. Of the transla- which now inhabits Europe. The members tion we need only say, that it is such as might of her community are certainly not fewer than be expected from the skill, the taste, and the a hundred and fifty millions; and it will be scrupulous integrity of the accomplished lady, difficult to show that all the other Christian who, as an interpreter between the mind of sects united amount to a hundred and twenty Germany and the mind of Britain, has already millions. Nor do we see any sign which indi deserved so well of both countries.
cates that the term of her long dominion is The subject of this book has always appear- approaching. She saw the commencement of ed to us singularly interesting. How it was all the governments, and of all the ecclesiastithat Protestanism did so much, yet did no cal establishments, that now exist in the world; more-how it was that the Church of Rome, and we feel no assurance that she is not deshaving lost a large part of Europe, not only tined to see the end of them all. She was ceased to lose, but actually regained nearly great and respected before the Saxon had set half of what she had lost-is certainly a most foot on Britain-before the Frank had passed curious and important question; and on this the Rhine-when Grecian eloquence still louquestion Professor Ranke has thrown far more rished at Antioch-when idols were still worlight than any other person who has written shipped in the temple of Mecca. And she may on it.
still exist in undiminished vigour when some There is not, and there never was, on this traveller from New Zealand shall, in the midst earth, a work of human policy so well deserv- of a vast solitude, take his stand on a broken ing of examination as the Roman Catholic arch of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of Church. The history of that Church joins to St. Paul's. gether the two great ages of human civiliza- We often hear it said that the world is contion. No other institution is left standing stantly becoming more and more enlightened, which carries the mind back to the times when and that this enlightening must be favourable the smoke of sacrifice rose from the Pantheon, to Protestantism, and unfavourable to Cathoand when camelopards and tigers bounded in licism. We wish that we could think so. But the Flavian amphitheatre. The proudest royal we see great reason to doubt whether this be houses are bui of yesterday, when compared well-founded expectation. We see that during with the line of the Supreme Pontiffs. That the last two hundred and fifty years, the human line we trace back in an unbroken series, from mind has been in the highest degree activethe Pope who crowned Napoleon in the nine that it has made great advances in every teenth century, to the Pope who crowned Pepin branch of natural philosophy--that it has pro in the eighth; and far beyond the time of Pepin duced innumerable inventions tending to prothe august dynasty extends, till it is lost in the mote the convenience of life—that medicine, twilight of fable. The republic of Venice came surgery, chemistry, engineering, ha been next in antiquity. But the republic of Venice very greatly improved-that government, po. was modern when compared with the Papacy; lice, and law have been improved, though not and the republic of Venice is gone, and the quite to the same extent. Yet we see that, Papacy remains. The Papacy remains, not during these two hundred and fifty years, Pro in decay, not a mere antique ; but full of inte testantism has made no conquests worth speak and youthful vigour. The Catholic Church is ing of. Nay, we believe that, as far as there
has been a change, that change has been in The Ecclesiastical and Political History of the Popes favour of the Church of Rome. We cannot,
Home, during the Sitteenth and Serenleenth Centuries, therefore, feel confident that the progress of Ry 1.EOPOLD Ranks, Professor 'in the University of knowledge will necessarily be fatal to a sys Berlin: 'Translated from the Cierusan, by BARAR Aus
tem which has, to say the leash, stood fly VOL. III.-5!
fix. 3 vols. 8vo, London. 1840
ground in spite of the immense progress which who, at fourteen, have thought enough co knowledge has made since the days of Queen these questions to be fully entitled to the Elizabeth.
praise which Voltaire gives to Zadig, “Il en Indeed, the argament which we are consi- savait ce qu'on én a su dans tous les âges, dering seems to us to be founded on an entire c'est-à-dire, fort peu de chose.” The book of mistake. There are branches of knowledge, Job shows, that long before letters and arts with respeci to which the law of the human were known to Ionia, these vexing questions mind is progress. In mathematics, when once were debated with no common skill and eloa proposition has been demonstrated, it is quence, under the tents of the Idumean Emirs; never afterwards contested. Every fresh story nor has human reason, in the course of three is as solid a basis for a new superstructure as thousand years, discovered any satisfactory the original foundation was. Here, therefore, solution of the riddles which perplexed Eliphaz ihere is a constant addition to the stock of and Zophar. truth. In the inductive sciences again, the Natural theology, then, is not a progressive law is progress. Every day furnishes new science. That knowledge of our origin and facts, and thus brings theory nearer and nearer of our destiny which we derive from revelato perfection. There is no chance that either tion, is indeed of very different clearness, and in the purely demonstrative, or in the purely very different importance. But neither is reexperimental sciences, the world will ever go vealed religion of the nature of a progressive back or even remain stationary. Nobody science. All Divine truth is, according to the ever heard of a reaction against Taylor's theo- doctrine of the Protestant churches, recorded rem, or of a reaction ainst Harvey's doc- in certain books. It is equally open to all who trine of the circulation of the blood.
in any age can read those books; ror can all But with theology the case is very different. the discoveries of all the philosophers in the As respects natural religion-revelation being world add a single verse to any of these books for the present altogether left out of the ques. It is plain, therefore, that in divinity there can. tion-it is not easy to see that a philosopher not be a progress analogous to that which is of the present day is more favourably situated constantly taking place in pharmacy, geology, than Thales or Simonides. He has before him and navigation. A Christian of the fifth ceajust the same evidences of design in the struc-tury with a Bible is on a par with a Christian ture of the universe which the early Greeks of the nineteenth century with a Bible, candour had. We say just the same; for the discove. and natural acuteness being, of course, sup. ries of modern astronomers and anatomists posed equal. It matters not at all that the have really added nothing to the force of that compass, printing, gunpowder, steam, gas, vacargument which a reflecting mind finds in cination, and a thousand other discoveries and every beast, bird, insect, fish, leaf, flower, and inventions which were unknown in the fifth shell
. The reasoning by which Socrates, in century are familiar to the nineteenth. None Xenophon's hearing, confuted the little atheist of these discoveries and inventions have the Aristodemus, is exactly the reasoning of Pa smallest bearing on the question whether man ley's “Natural Theology.” Socrates makes is justified by faith alone, or whether the invoprecisely the same use of the statues of Poly-cation of saints is an orthodox practice. It cletus and the pictures of Zeuxis, which Paley seems to us, therefore, that we have no secumakes of the watch. ' As to the other great rity for the future against the prevalence of question—the question, what becomes of man any theological error that has ever prevailed after death-we do not see that a highly edu- in time past among Christian men. We are cated European, left to his unassisted reason, confident that the world will never go back to is more likely to be in the right than a Black- the solar system of Ptolemy; nor is our coufifoot Indian. Not a single one of the many dence in the least shaken by the circumstance sciences in which we surpass the Blackfoot that even so great a man as Bacon rejected Indians, throws the smallest light on the state the theory of Galileo with scorn; for Bacon of the soul after the animal life is extinct. In had not all the means of arriving at a sound truth, all the philosophers, ancient and modern, conclusion which are within our reach, and who have attempted, without the help of reve- which secure people, who would not have been lation to prove the immortality of man, from worthy to mend his pens, from falling into his Plato down to Franklin, appear to us to have mistakes. But we are very differently affected failed deplorably.
when we reflect that Sir Thomas More was 'Then, again, all the great enigmas which ready to die for the doctrine of transubstantia. perplex the natural theologian are the same in tion. He was a man of eminent talents. He
The ingenuity of a people just had all the information on the subject that we emerging from barbarism is quite sufficient to have, or that, while the world lasts, any human propound them. The wisdom of Locke or being will have. The text “This is my body," Clarke is quite unable to solve them. It is a was in his New Testament as it is in ours. mistake to imagine that subtle speculations The absurdity of the literal interpretation touching the Divine attributes, the origin of evil, was as great and as obvious in the sixteenth the necessity of human actions, the foundation century as it is pow. No progress that sciof moral obligation, imply any high degree of ence has made or will make can add to what intellectual culture. Such speculations, on seems to us the overwhelming force of the arthe contrary, are in a peculiar manner the de- gument against the real presence. We are light of intelligent children and of half-civil- therefore unable to understand why what Sir ized men. The number of boys is not smalt | Thomas More believed respecting transubstan
tiation may not be believed to the end of time than to the first, or to London than to the wildby men equal in abilities and honesty to Sir est parish in the Hetrides. It is true that, in Thomas More. But Sir Thomas More is one those things which concern this life and this of the choice specimens of human wisdom and world, man constantly becomes wiser. But it virtue, and the doctrine of transubstantiation is no less true that, as respects a higher power is a kind of proof charge. A faith which stands and a future state, man, in the language of that test will stand any test. The prophesies Goethe's scoffing fiend, of Brothers and the miracles of Prince Hohenlohe sink to trifles in the comparison. One re
“bleibt stets von gleichem schlag,
Und ist so wunderlich als wie am ersten tag." servation, indeed, must be made. The books and traditions of a sect may contain, mingled The history of Catholicism strikingly illuswith propositions strictly theological, other pro- trates these observations. During the last positions purporting to rest on the same autho- seven centuries the public mind of Europe has rity which relate to physics. If new discover-made constant progress in every department ies should throw discredit on the physical pro- of secular knowledge. But in religion we can positions, the theological propositions, unless trace no constant progress. The ecclesiastiihey can be separated from the physical pro- cal history of that long period is the history positions, will share in their discredit. In this of movement to and fro. Four times since the way, undoubtedly, the progress of science may authority of the Church of Rome was estaindirectly serve the cause of religious truth.blished in Western Christendom has the huThe Hindoo mythology, for example, is bound man intellect risen up against her yoke. Twice up with a most absurd geography. Every she remained completely victorious. Twice she young Brahmin, therefore, who learns geogra- came forth from the conflict bearing the marks phy in our colleges, learns to smile at the Hin- of cruel wounds, but with the principle of life doo mythology. If Catholicism has not suffer- still strong within her. When we reflect on ed to an equal degree from the Papal decision the tremendous assaults which she has surthat the sun goes round the earth, this is be- vived, we find it difficult to conceive in what cause all intelligent Catholics now hold, with way she is to perish. Pascal, that in deciding the point at all the The first of these insurrections broke out in Church exceeded her powers, and was, there the region where the beautiful language of Os fore, justly left destitute of that supernatural was spoken. That country, singularly favourassistance which, in the exercise of her legiti- ed by nature, was, in the twelfth century, the mate functions, the promise of her Founder most flourishing and civilized part of Western authorized her to expect.
Europe. It was in nowise a part of France. This reservation affects not at all the truth It had a distinct political existence, a distinct of our proposition, that divinity, properly so national character, distinct usages, and a discalled, is not a progressive science.A very tinct speech. The soil was fruitful and well common knowledge of history, a very little ob- cultivated; and amidst the cornfields and vineservation of life, will suffice to prove that no yards arose many rich cities, each of which learning, no sagacity, affords a security against was a little republic; and many stately castles, the greatest errors on subjects relating to the each of which contained a miniature of an iminvisible world. Bayle and Chillingworth, two perial court. It was there that the spirit of of the most skeptical of mankind, turned Ca- chivalry first laid aside its terrors, first took a tholics from sincere conviction. Johnson, in- humane and graceful form, first appeared as credulous on all other points, was a ready the inseparable associate of art and literature, believer in miracles and apparitions. He of courtesy and love. The other vernacular would not believe in Ossian, but he believed dialects which, since the fifth century, had in the second sight. He would no: believe in sprung up in the ancient provinces of the Rothe earthquake of Lisbon, but he believed in man empire, were still rude and imperfect. the Cock Lane Ghost.
The sweet Tuscan, the rich and energetic EngFor these reasons we have ceased to wonder at lish, were abandoned to artisans and shepanyvagaries of superstition. We have seen men, herds. No clerk had ever condescended to not of inean intellect or neglected education, use such barbarous jargon for the teaching of but qualified by their talents and acquirements science, for the recording of great events, or to attain eminence either in active or speculative for the painting of life and manners. But the pursuits, well-read scholars, expert logicians, language of Provence was already the lankeen observers of life and manners, prophe-guage of the learned and polite, and was emsying, interpreting, talking unknown tongues, ployed by numerous writers, studious of all ino working miraculous cures, coming down with arts of composition and versification. messages from God to the Houses of Commons. A literature rich in ballads, in war-songs, We have seen an old woman, with no talents in satire, and, above all, in amatory poetry, beyond the cunning of a fortune-teller, and amused the leisure of the knights and ladies with the education of a scullion, exalted into whose fortified mansions adorned the banks a propheless, and surrounded by tens of thou- of the Rhone and Garonne. With civilization sands of devoted followers, many of whom had come freedom of thought. Use had taken were, in station and knowledge, immeasurably away the horror with which misbelievers were her superiors; and all this in the nineteenth elsewhere regarded. No Norman or Bretou century, and all this in London. Yet why not? ever saw a Mussulman, except to give and reFor of the dealings of God with man no more ceive blows on some Syrian field of baule. But has been revealed to the nineteenth century the people of the rich countries which lay vni
der the Pyrenees lived in habits of courteous great European family. Rome, in the mean and profitable intercourse with the Moorish time, warned by that fearful danger from which kingdoms of Spain, and gave a hospitable wel- the exterminating swords of her crusaders had come to skilful teachers and mathematicians, narrowly saved her, proceeried to revise and who, in the schools of Cordova and Granada, to strengthen her whole system of polity. As had become versed in all the learning of the this period were instituted the order of Francis. Arabians. The Greek, still preserving, in the the order of Dominic, the tribunal of the Inqui midst of political degradation, the ready wit sition. The new spiritual police was every. and the inquiring spirit of his fathers, still able where. No alley in a great city, no hamlet on to read the most perfect of human composio a remote mountain, was unvisited by the beg. tions, still speaking the most powerful and ging friar. The simple Catholic, who was flexible of human languages, brought to the content to be no wiser than his fathers, found, marts of Narbonne and Toulouse, together with wherever he turned, a friendly voice to encou. the drugs and silks of remote climates, bold and rage him. The path of the heretic was beset subtle theories, long unknown to the ignorant by innumerable spies; and the Church, lately and credulous West. The Paulician theology in danger of utter subversion, now appeared -a theology in which, as it should seem, many to be impregnably fortified by the love, the of the doctrines of the modern Calvinists were reverence, and the terror of mankind. Iningled with some doctrines derived from the A century and a half passed away, and then ancient Manichees,--spread rapidly through came the second great rising up of the human Provence and Languedoc. The clergy of the intellect against the spiritual dornination of Catholic Church were regarded with loathing Rome. During the two generations which fol. and contempt.
“ Viler than a priest,”—“I lowed the Albigensian crusade, the power of the would as soon be a priest,”—became prover- Papacy had been at the height. Frederick II. bial expressions. The Papacy lost all autho--ihe ablest and most accomplished of the long rity with all classes, from the great feudal line of German Cæsars--had in vain exhaust princes down to the cultivators of the soil. ed all the resources of military and political
The danger to the hierarchy was indeed skill in the attempt to defend the rights of the formidable. Only one transalpine nation had civil power against the encroachments of the emerged from barbarism, and that nation had Church. The vengeance of the priesthood thrown off all respect for Rome. Only one of had pursued his house to the third generation. the vernacular languages of Europe had yet Manfred had perished on the field of battle; been extensively employed for liierary pur- Conradin on the scaffold. Then a turn took poses, and that language was a machine in place. The secular authority, long unduly the hands of heretics. The geographical po- depressed, regained the ascendant with startsition of the sectaries made the danger pecu- ling rapidity. The change is doubtless to bo liarly formidable. They occupied a central ascribed chiefly to the general disgust excited region communicating directly with France, by the way in which the Church had abused with Italy, and with Spain. The provinces its power and its success. which were still untainted were separated But something must be attributed to the from each other by this infected district. Une character and situation of individuals. The der these circumstances, it seemed probable man who bore the chief part in effecting this that a single generation would suffice to spread revolution was Philip IV. of France, surnamed the reformed doctrine to Lisbon, to London, the Beautiful--a despot by position, a despot and to Naples. But this was not to be. Rome by temperament, stern, implacable, and uncried for help to the warriors of northern scrupulous, equally prepared for violence and France. She appealed at once to their super- for chicanery, and surrounded by a devoted stition and to their cupidity. To the devout band of men of the sword, and of men of law. believers she promised pardons as ample as The fiercest and most high-minded of the Rothose with which she had rewarded the deliver man Pontiffs, while bestowing kingdoms, and ers of the holy Sepulchre. To the rapacious citing great princes to his judgment-seat, was and profligate she offered the plunder of fertile seized in his palace by armed men, and so plains and wealthy cities. Unhappily, the in- foully outraged that he died mad with rage genious and polished inhabitants of the Lan- and terror. “Thus," sang the great Florenguedocian provinces were far better qualified tinc poet, “was Christ in the person of his to enrich and embellish their country than 10 vicar, a second time seized by ruffians, a sedefend it. Eminent in the arts of peace, un cond time mocked, a second time drenched rivalled in the “gay science," elevaied above with the vinegar and the gal!.". The seat of many vulgar superstitions, they wanted that the Papal court was carried beyond the Alps, iron courage, and that skill in martial exer- and the Bishops of Rome became dependants cises, which distinguished the chivalry of the of France. Then came the great schism of region beyond the Loire, and were ill-fitted to the West. Two Popes, cach with a doubtful face enemies, who, in every country from Ire- title, made all Europe ring with their mutual land to Palestine, had been victorious against invectives and anathemas. Rome cried out tenfold odds. A war, distinguished even among against the corruptions of Avignon ; and Avig. wars of religion by its merciless atrocity, de- non, with equal justice, recriminated on Rome. stroyed the Albigensian heresy; and with that The plain Christian people, brought up in the heresy the prosperity, the civilization, the lite belief that it was a sacred duty to be in comrature, the national existence, of what was once De most poulent and enlightened part of the
• Purgatorio, XX. 87.
munion with the Head of the Church, were before. All ranks, all varieties of character, unable to discover, amidst conflicting testimo- joined the ranks of the innovators. Sovenies and conflicting arguments, to which of reigns impatient to appropriate to themselves the two worthless pries's who were cursing the prerogatives of the Pope-nobles desirous and reviling each other, the headship of the to share the plunder of abbeys-suitors exasChurch rightfully belonged. Il was nearly at perated by the extortions of the Roman Camera this juncture that the voice of John Wicklife -patriots impatient of a foreign rule-good began to make itself heard. The public inind men scandalized by the corruptions of the of England was soon stirred to its inmost Church-bad men desirous of the license indepths; and the influence of the new doctrines separable from great moral revolutions—wise was soon felt, even in the distant kiligdom of men eager in the pursuit of truth-weak men Bohemia. In Bohemia, indeed, there had long allured by the glitter of novelty—all were been a predisposition to heresy. Merchants found on one side. Alone, among the northfrom the Lower Danube were often seen in the ern nations, the Irish adhered to the ancient fairs of Prague; and the Lower Danube was ; faith ; and the cause of this seems to have peculiarly the seat of the Paulician theology. been, that the national feeling which, in hapThe Church, torn by schism, and fiercely as- pier countries, was directed against Rome, was sailed at once in England and the German in Ireland directed against England. In fifty empire, was in a situation scarcely less peril. years from the day in which Luther publicly ous than at the crisis which preceded the Albi- renounced communion with the Church of gensian crusade.
Rome, and burned the bull of Leo before the But this danger also passed by. The civil gates of Wittenberg, Protestantism attained power gave its strenuous support to the iis highest ascendency-an ascendency which Church; and the Churc' made some show it soon lost, and which it never regained. of reforming itself. The council of Constance Hundreds, who could well remember Brother put an end to the schism. The whole Catholic Martin a devout Catholic, lived to see the revoworld was again united under a single chier, lution of which he was the chief author, victo. and rules were laid down which seemed to rious in half the states of Europe. In England, make it improbable that the power of that Scotland, Denmark, Sweden, Livonia, Prussia, chief would be grossly abused. The most dis- Saxony, Hesse, Würtemberg, the Palatinate, in tinguished teachers of the new doctrine were several cantons of Switzerland, in the Northern put to death. The English government put Netherlands, the Reformation had completely down the Lollards with merciless rigour; and, triumphed; and in all the other countries on in the next generation, no trace of the second this side of the Alps and the Pyrenees, it great revolt against the Papacy could be found, scemed on the point of triumphing. except among the rude population of the But while this mighty work was proceeding mountains of Bohemia.
in the north of Europe, a revolution of a very Another century went by; and then began different kind had taken place in the south. the third and the most memorable struggle for The temper of Italy and Spain was widely difspiritual freedom. The times were changed. ferent from that of Germany and England. As The great remains of Athenian and Roman the national feeling of the Teutonic nations genius were studied by thousands. The Church impelled them to throw off the Italian suprehad no longer a monopoly of learning. The macy, so the national feeling of the Italians powers of the modern languages had at length impelled thein to resist any change which might been developed. The invention of printing deprive their country of the honour and adhad given new facilities to the intercourse of vantage of being the seat of the government of mind with mind. With such auspices com- the Universal Church. It was in Italy that the menced the great Reformation.
tributes were spent, of which foreign nations We will allempt to lay before our readers, so bitterly complained. It was to adorn Italy in a short compass, what appears to us to be that the traffic in indulgences had been carried the real history of the contest, which began to that scandalous excess which had roused with the preaching of Luther against the in- the indignation of Luther. There was among dulgences, and which may, in one sense, be the Italians both much piety and much im. said to have been terminated, a hundred and piety; but with very few exceptions, neither thirty years later, by the treaty of Westphalia. ihe piety nor the impiety took the turn of Pro
In the northern parts of Europe, the victory testantism. The religious Italians desired a of Protestantism was rapid and decisive. The reform of morals and discipline, but not a redominion of the Papacy was felt by the nations form of doctrine, and least of all a schism. of Teutonic blood as the dominion of Italians, The irreligious Italians simply disbelieveil of foreigners, of men alien in language, man- Christianity, without hating it. They looked ai ners, and intellectual constitution. The large it as artists, or as statesmen; and so looking jurisdiction exercised by the spiritual tribu- at it, they liked it better in the established form nals of Rome seemed to be a degrading badge than in any other. It was to them what the of servitude. The sums which, under a thou. Pagan worship was to Trajan and Pliny. sand prelexts, were exacted by a distant court, Neither the spirit of Savanarola, nor that of were regarded both as a humiliating and as a Machiavelli, had any thing in common with that ruinous tribute. The character of that court of the religious or political Protestants of the excited the scorn and disgust of a grave, north. earnest, sincere, and devout people. The new Spain again was, with respect to the Catholic the logy spread with a rapidity never known Church, in a situation very different from that