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while they are rivals in greatness, there is a wide distance between them in goodness. Madame de Staël penned exalted sentiments and uttered profound truths, but these did not permeate her being and react upon her life. Her noble and intense nature was undisciplined, and her feminine graces few. Her career was feverish and tumultuous, and with all its triumphs she was in the main weary-hearted and disappointed. As an author she wins our respect and admiration, but as a woman she cannot content us.
Mrs. Browning's moral strength equalled her intellectual. Virtue with her was no passive sentimentality, no vain aspiration. She who worked by precept worked also by example. A thorough understanding of the mission of the poet did not make her unmindful of the weighty import of the duty of the woman. She may therefore well command a world-wide homage. Pure and lovely in private, her public career as an author was noble and dignified. More fortunate than many writers and patriots, she not only lived to see the completion and success of "Aurora Leigh," the book to which she had consecrated her matured and ripened genius, but the independence of Italy, the land of her adoption and of her prayers. The work thus well done is not finished yet. It has a still more glorious errand to discharge. The spirit of it will endure and act far into the future; and generations to come will reverence and honor the great woman-poet of our time.
History of Latin Christianity, including that of the Popes, to the Pontificate of Nicolas V. By H. H. MILMAN, Dean of St. Paul's. New York: Sheldon & Co. 8 vols.
THE Completion of this handsome reprint of Dean Milman's great work has offered us, these some months, the opportunity we take now of expressing our very high and grateful sense of the value of that work. Of the American edition we need
only say that, while its convenient bulk and moderate price commend it to our Western world of readers, it is very little if at all inferior in beauty to the six stately octavos of the London imprint; and that it bears the marks of scholarly and faithful oversight, and of nicest typographical care. Of the work itself we shall have more to say further on, premising only that it is, beyond comparison, the most important, able, and valuable contribution in English to ecclesiastical history, - that is, in the wide sense Mr. Stanley gives it, the history of the Christian civilization of mankind. Meanwhile, a word of the period it treats.
It is not hard to find the attraction of the topic to the author of this work, whether as churchman, as poet, or as historian. No spectacle which history presents is so imposing to the imagination as that peculiar form of civilization seen in the Middle Age of Western Europe. The twilight glow in which we see it colors half the visions of poetry and romance existing in modern literature. And as it slowly lightens into clear historic certainty, by the exploring of antiquarians, artcritics, and other students of its hundred specialties, enough of the strangeness and the mystery remain, to leave it still unrivalled in its fascination for the fancy, as well as in the fertility and wealth of the field it offers to the searcher after facts. To note a few points only in the scene which lies open before the historian's eye.
We see a Church, which, after a thousand years of various fortune, has reached at length a height of power the like of which was never wielded by human hands. It is a power resting on the invisible foundations of conscience, conviction, and religious fear. To the popular belief, it carries literally the keys of heaven and hell. It spans like an arch the dreadful gulf between the world seen and unseen. Its hierarchy rules by express Divine appointment; and its chief is addressed in language of homage such as it seems impious to address to any other than Almighty God.
We see this Church, in the person of its priesthood, present absolutely everywhere. It carries in its hand the threads that govern every province of human life; it enters every house; it is a guest at every board, a companion at every hearth; it
adopts every new-born babe by its mystic rite of baptism; it watches over and teaches every growing child; it regulates the marriage contract, and the solemn rites of burial; it guides, through the confessional, every scruple of conscience, every impulse of devotion, every affection of the heart; it offers or withholds, on its own terms, the soul's peace on earth, and its salvation in eternity.
We see it, in the person of its pontiffs, maintaining conflict or alliance, on equal terms, with the powers of the world. At its will, it lifts up the lowly, or tramples on the proud. To haughty feudal chiefs it dictates its haughtier counsel or command. Upon a rebellious subject it puts the terrible brand of excommunication. Over a stubborn and proud realm it spreads the awful shadow of its interdict. It is a party to all treaties, an accomplice in all state intrigues, a power behind the throne mightier than the throne itself. It courts alliance with sovereign, nobility, or people, as its policy requires. Here it warily concedes, there it imperiously commands; sets its foot on a German emperor's neck, and gives its license of conquest to a Norman duke; protests against an English Magna Charta, and defies the French States General; refuses to own allegiance to any earthly sovereign, and asserts in the name of God its authority to make or unmake kings.
We see it, in the person of its religious orders, penetrating to every nook and hamlet, ruling the popular passion and imagination, no less than the counsel of courts, by its imperious word. It stirs men's minds by its enthusiastic appeal, sends forth its enormous hosts under the banner of the cross to battle in the Holy Land, defends the frontiers of its empire by the fanatic hate it breathes against heretic and infidel. By the same insidious, penetrating might, it arms the invincible valor of its military monks to war with infidel abroad, and the implacable fanaticism of its mendicant monks to hunt down heresy at home; with its right hand upholding the once glorious Order of the Temple, with its left the merciless police of the Inquisition.
We see its matchless skill and power employed in the accumulation of enormous wealth. The terrors of a death-bed, the popular fear of the approaching end of the world, the en
thusiasm that equipped the armies of the Crusaders, and the disorders of their impoverished estates, all are wrought on to fill the treasuries of the Church. It turns its doctrine of Purgatory to profitable account, and sets a fixed price on its masses for the dead. It makes a traffic of penance and indulgences. It seizes lands under forged charters, and claims the administration of intestate estates. It owns half the property of England, and a nearly like proportion of France and Germany. It profits even by the violence of robbers and plunderers." Those very men who, in the hour of sickness and impending death, showered the gifts of expiatory devotion upon its altars, had passed the sunshine of their lives in sacrilegious plunder." Thus its power is extended and increased in a thousand hidden ways, aiming apparently at an absolute monopoly of men's temporal as well as spiritual estate; — a power employed often in behalf of the enslaved and poor, to loose the heavy burden, and let the oppressed go free; often, to feed the vices and the pride of some bishop-sovereign, and strengthen upon the kingdoms the grasp of the heavy hand of Rome.
We see its pomp of priests, with chant and lighted taper and silver bell, striking the rude mind of ignorant barbarism with awe, as a holy spell or oracle; its hermits, in their dreary and austere seclusion; its trains of pilgrims, with bead and cockle-shell; its palmers, journeying from shrine to shrine, and bearing the fragrant memory of the Holy Land; its barefoot friars, sworn to beggary, and wrangling whether Jesus and his disciples, in their common treasury, held any goods at all. We see its secluded abbey, in some smiling valley by the water-side, a centre of culture, peace, and religious veneration, almost under the shadow of the frowning castle of some feudal lord; its stately cathedral, looming large amid the dark and lowly dwellings of the city, the daring and vast proportions, the intricate perfection of workmanship, challenging all modern rivalry; its statuary and painting, that from rude beginnings reach gradually the topmost height of sacred Art; its universities, thronged by great armies of
young men, first the fond care, then the arbiter, at last the invincible rival of the Church itself in the realm of intellect. To these we add the troubled yet stirring story of feudalism, as it slowly shaped itself toward modern monarchy; the gorgeous associations of chivalry, throwing its fitful grace over the barbarism of perpetual strife; the thrilling adventure of the Crusades; the stern devotion and fatal pride of the military orders, that from champions became at last the victims of ecclesiastical policy.
Such is part of the tradition of that wondrous Middle Age, whose memory haunts our imagination, whose monuments impress our eye, whose shadow still alarms our fear, as the most amazing, august, and terrible of human things. Such are some of the features of that unique type of ecclesiastical civilization, whose animating spirit was the Catholic hierarchy, and its executive head the Pope of Rome.
The period covered by Mr. Milman's History includes the rise, the culmination, and the decline of that spiritual empire, which, built on the ruins of Pagan Rome, inherited its destiny of ten centuries' dominion. The history of Latin Christianity, as here exhibited, terminates some sixty years before the time of the Reformation; and so omits that great period of preparation - the era of discoveries and inventions, of the revival of learning, of wars and policies on a grander scale, of the new relations of Christian states growing out of the expulsion of the Moors and the fall of Constantinople-which ushered in the great revolutions of the sixteenth century. These are left, more fitly perhaps, as belonging to the modern world. Visibly, the fabric of the Middle Age perished like a nightvision before the light that dawned in the North. A clearer historical sense sees how it was sapped and undermined, a hundred years earlier, by the Councils that recast the principles of the Papacy, and by the free conscience which the terrors of the Church could no longer silence or overawe. But for great landmarks plainly seen, we still prefer the age and name of Paul, and Gregory, and Hildebrand, and Luther.
Mr. Milman takes the date A. D. 600, the age of Gregory the Great, as marking the time of "the final Christianization of the world," or, more strictly, of the mind of Western Eu