answered " Myself and my subjects are come to a composition: I do as I please, and they write as they please.

In the distribution of ecclesiastical preferment, Ximenes acted with strict impartiality, regardless of interest or any recommendation beyond personal merit.* Very soon after he became minister he was applied to by the friends of Don Pedro de Mendoza to confirm him in the government of Cazorla (one of the best places in the gift of the Archbishop of Toledo), with which he had been entrusted by his brother, the late grand cardinal. They urged the obligations conferred on Ximenes by his predecessor, and the anxious desire of the Queen. He refused peremptorily to consent, declaring that, as minister, he acknowledged no private ties; that the Sovereign might send him back to the cloister again, whither he was ready to depart on the instant, but that no personal considerations should ever operate with him in distributing the honors of the Church. After a reasonable interval, when no longer importuned with solicitations, he restored Mendoza to the place, observing that he did so because his own judgment told him he was qualified to fill it with credit. "I will choose my officers," said he," but I will not have them chosen for me, neither shall they select themselves. Personal application indicates either want of merit or want of humility in the applicant." The conclusion is a little strained, but may pass as a ministerial apothegm.

The reforms of Ximenes, as might be expected, raised against him a host of enemies who had even influence enough with the Pope to obtain his interference. But he resisted in this instance the sovereign head of the Church, and, supported by Queen Isabella, who, though more mildly disposed, was equally firm, carried out his plans in defiance of opposition, and succeeded in obtaining the warm co-operation of the apostolic nuncio. In 1499, he resolved, at all hazards and at any price, to convert the Moors of Granada, and went to work with his characteristic energy. All means were employed which persuasion, money, or force could bring into play. The proselytes were numerous and willing, but many were obstinate, and seemed determined to brave persecution even to death in defence of their faith. Ximenes resolved

to root out the very characters in which the abominations of Mohammedanism were recorded, and caused a mighty holocaust to be be made of every Arabic manuscript he could lay his hands on; thus committing to the flames more copies of the Koran and other works connected with the theology of that compilation, than the Caliph Omar had sacrificed at Alexandria, of Christian and classical literature, eight centuries before. A few hundred volumes on medical science, in which the Moors of that day were pre-eminently skilled, he preserved, to enrich the newlyfounded University of Alcalà; but invaluable lore on many other subjects was destroyed for ever. The over-zealous prelate, no doubt, persuaded himself that in this conflagration he was wielding the brand of retributive justice. His violent proceedings called up an insurrection; the Moorish populace rose in defence of their expiring creed, and besieged him in his palace. When urged to fly while there was yet an opportunity of escape, Ximenes refused with the blended spirit of a hero and a martyr. He cared not for life, proclaimed his determination to die at bis post rather than desert his faithful followers, and held out manfully until relieved by reinforcements. The violence of the cardinal in this matter drew on him the displeasure of his sovereigns, which, however, he soon dispersed by powerful declamation, and in the end he carried his point, for many of the most influential Mohammedans were compelled to sell their estates and emigrate to Barbary, and when peace was restored it was found that about fifty thousand converts were added to the ranks of Christianity. From this date the proud Moors of the Peninsula began to decline in influence and numbers, until the race gradually degenerating, disappeared altogether. If the means were objectionable, the end was obtained, and, as measures are usually estimated by results, the reputation of Ximenes received a prodigious advance from this proud victory. "He has achieved a greater triumph," said the virtuous Archbishop Talavera, "than even Ferdinand and Isabella; they conquered only the soil, but he has gained the souls of Granada."

Flechier, Bishop of Nismes, furnishes an instance of a man held back by his merit. When Louis XIV. at last promoted him, he did it with this rather unsatisfactory compliment: "I should have rewarded you much sooner, but that I was unwilling to lose the pleasure of your discourses."

The death of the Queen, in November, 1504, deprived Ximenes of his constant friend and unvarying supporter. Ferdinand respected the abilities of the minister, but Isabella venerated the virtues of the man. The confidence placed in him by the latter was unlimited. The former mixed up a little duplicity with his apparent cordiality. When the

cardinal in person superintended the expedition against Oran, the King wrote a private letter to Navarro, a rude captain who commanded under him, in which he said, "Hinder our good man from coming back to Spain too soon. We must make all the use we can of his person and of his money." In 1507, Ximenes received the cardinal's hat from Pope Julius II., and soon after added to his other high appointments the office of Inquisi-dressed his soldiers in a suitable harangue, tor-General of Castile. No further honors and inflamed their courage with the promise could now, by any possible turn of Fortune's of the plunder of the infidel city. He was wheel, be heaped upon him, except the pa- attended by a monk on horseback, who bore pacy itself. His catholic zeal expanded with a massive silver cross, his archiepiscopal stanhis power, and became firmer as he declined dard of Toledo. As the men passed by with into old age; while his ambition, so long loud cheers and reverential enthusiam-"Go mortified and dormant, glowed with all the on, go on, my children," exclaimed the cardiardor of early manhood. Still he was un- nal; "I am at your head. A priest should selfish, and thought only how to advance re- think it an honor to expose his life for his ligion with the advancing influence of his religion. I have many examples before me country. Like Richelieu, he possessed the in my valiant predecessors." As soon as his spirit of a soldier, and in earlier ages would victorious troops had obtained possession of undoubtedly have headed a crusade. He even the town, he entered the gate, attended by thought of such an enterprise, but determin- his train of monkish brethren, and repeated ed to commence by an expedition nearer aloud the language of the Psalmist "Not home-the conquest of Oran, on the opposite unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy coast of Barbary. He not only volunteered name be the praise and the power given!" to lead the armament, but to advance from The spoil, amounting to half a million of gold his private funds the necessary supplies of ducats (more than a million of our present money. We shall search many pages of many sterling money), was placed at his disposal histories before we find a minister so tho- for distribution, and his heart was rejoiced by roughly disinterested. The nobles, who hat- the liberation of three hundred Christian caped Ximenes, derided his preparations, and tives. He burst into tears on seeing the prognosticated failure. "What," said they, number of dead that were lying on the "could be more ridiculous than the idea of a ground, and was heard to say to himselfmonk fighting the battles of Spain, while the great captain, Gonzalvo de Cordova, was left to stay at home, and count his beads like a hermit?" Ximenes would willingly have given the command to that renowned chieftain, had the King consented. Perhaps, Ferdinand, in his heart, desired to get rid of his minister, and thought the opportunity a tempting one. The energy displayed by Ximenes was almost miraculous; and it must be remembered that, in addition to a life of cloistered solitude, and habits all unfitted to the trade of war, he was oppressed with physical infirmities, and had passed the seventieth year of his age. Narses is the only other general we can recollect who took the field for the first time when most men are preparing for the grave. The campaign was short and decisive. The army landed on the 17th of May, 1609, and on the evening of the following day the city was carried by storm. The most respectable authorities have gravely declared, that the miracle of Joshua was repeated on this special occasion. The cardinal

They were indeed infidels, but they might have become Christians. By their death they have deprived me of the principal advantage of the victory we have gained over them.'

urged an immediate attack, in opposition to the doubts expressed by Navarro, his general. The advice and the triumphal issue were both naturally ascribed to inspiration by his superstitious and elevated followers. Before the Spanish army marched up to the walls, Ximenes mounted his mule, and rode along the ranks. He wore his pontifical robes and a sword was girded by his side. He ad

The easy capture of Oran stimulated Ximenes to enterprises of a more extended nature. Already he contemplated the conquest. of every Mohammedan city on the coast of Barbary; but Navarro, disgusted at being controlled in the direction of the army by an ecclesiastic, demurred against his authority, and claimed the right of independent command. The King, too, seemed inclined to desire the cardinal's absence for some political schemes of his own; and these combined reasons induced the latter to give up the further prosecution of the crusade he had so successfully begun ;* and leaving behind him

The Spanish army under Navarro, after the de parture of Ximenes, pursued a rapid course of victory, and took in succession Bugia, Algiers, Tunis, Tremecen, and Tripoli, until their conquests were checked by an unexpected defeat in the island of Gelves.

ample funds and stores for the prosecution of the war, together with much able advice, which was sure to be disregarded as soon as his back was turned, he went back to Spain with a scanty train of attendants, in an unarmed galley. He was received, on landing, with enthusiastic greetings; but he declined all public honors and congratulations, and his demeanor, instead of being inflated by the great triumph he had achieved, became more simple and unpretending than before. Seven or eight years of life and power still remained to him, during which he dedicated much of his time to the improvement of his celebrated University of Alcalà, founded in 1500; and also to the completion of the far famed Bible which bears his name, and is to this day one of the great lions of a few public libraries. Either of these two undertakings would have sufficed to render his name immortal; and to carry them out required not only the influence but the wealth of a monarch. In eight years the college was finished, furnished, and ambly endowed; but fifteen elapsed before the Bible saw the light in a perfect form. The book called the Complutensian Polyglot (from the place where it was printed, Complutum,* or Alcalà de Henares), is a glorious specimen of early typography, and one that rejoices the heart and dazzles the eyes of a true bibliomaniac whenever he chances to stumble on a copy, which will not often happen. Six hundred was the original number struck, of which by far the greater portion has disappeared, either buried in convents or destroyed by the ravages of war and time. The original price was six ducats and a half. According to Brunet, copies have been sold so high as £63. If one was to be announced to-morrow under the hammer of the auctioneer, it would produce a fancy price, almost as extravagant as the reputed value of the koh-i-noor. Three copies of the first edition were printed on vellum, for one of which Count MacCarthy, of Toulouse, paid £483, at the sale of the Pinelli library. The work is in six volumes folio: the old Testament occupies the four first, the fifth is devoted to the New, and the last contains a Hebrew and Chaldaic vocabulary, with other incidental treatises. Modern criticism has detected many errors in the text; but the cardinal's Bible will ever be valuable as the first successful attempt at a polyglot version of the Scriptures, and the

foundation of later and more perfect ones. As Prescott remarks-"We cannot look at it, in connection with the age and the auspices under which it was accomplished, without regarding it as a noble monument of piety, learning, and munificence, which entitles its author to the gratitude of the whole Christian world." Ximenes, though not an extensive general scholar, was well qualified for this particular task. He urged his assistants, who were all selected for their profound erudition, to complete the volumes, and encouraged them by his presence. "Lose no time, my friends," he said to them, "in the prosecution of our glorious work, lest, in the casualties of life, you should lose your patron, or I have to lament the loss of those whose services are of more price in my eyes than wealth and worldly honors."* The Spanish historiars have recorded the names of these learned associates. The expense incurred must have been enormous, but the revenues of Ximenes were equal to it. The art of printing was then in its infancy, and oriental types were unknown in Spain, and probably in Europe. He imported artists from Germany, had types cast under his own eye in the founderies at Alcalà, and spared nothing that money could obtain. The languages employed are four. The part devoted to the Old Testament contains the Hebrew original, with the Latin vulgate of Jerome, the Greek Septuagint version, and the Chaldaic paraphrase, with Latin translations by the Spanish scholars. The New Testament is printed in the original Greek, with the Latin vulgate of Jerome. The curious on this subject will find ample information and details in Dr. Dibdin's "Library Companion." and other bibliographical works of that voluminous writer. The antiquity of the manuscripts employed in this great compilation has been disputed vehemently (what has not been disputed ?); but the question must remain for ever sub judice, for good authority states that, towards the end of the last century, a wicked Erostratus of a librarian, in whose custody they were, sold them as waste paper to a rocket-maker of Alcalà, who soon worked them up in the regular way. The ghost of Ximenes is firmly believed to have appeared to the garrison of Oran in 1643, to encourage them in their defence against the Algerines. It is much to be lamented that the spectre did not again revisit the "glimpses of the moon," and perpetually haunt the slumbers of this modern

The word complutum is probably derived from the fruitfulness of the soil,

There is a very fine one in the British Museum.

* See Quintanilla and Gomez, quoted by Prescott ("Reign of Ferdinand and Isabella.”)

Omar, whose name deserves the unenviable | long exceeded the space of life alloted to immortality which it has escaped by oblivion. vigorous man by the psalmist, it was not The University of Alcalà may, perhaps, likely that his career could extend much furbe considered the most gigantic undertaking ther. Neither did he enjoy his high office ever conceived and executed by one man, not without trouble and opposition. Charles a sovereign, from his own private resources. wished to be declared king; but his mother, The revenue bequeathed by Ximenes to this though dead to the world, was still alive, and child of his old age at his death, amounted the Castilians looked upon this desire as both to fourteen thousand ducats, which, within a illegal and indecent. Ximenes remonstrated century and a half, increased to treble that with him strongly against the unpopular sum; while the celebrity of the new college measure; but Charles was obstinate, and as a seat of learning, and the admirable dis- the cardinal yielded, compelling the nobility cipline maintained there, cast even Salamanca to acquiesce, to their infinite mortification. into the shade, and resounded through every He next proceeded to reform the finances, state in civilized Europe. Within five years which had fallen into considerable disorder; after it was opened, King Ferdinand visited suppressed superfluous offices, retrenched Alcalà, and, though not much of a scholar, large salaries, curtailed pensions granted was acute enough to perceive the advanta- through interest, and abolished sinecures. ges which the institution conferred on his His foreign policy displayed equal courage. kingdom, and to honor the labors of the min- and vigor. Amongst other salutary meaister who had accomplished such a work. sures, he endeavored to ameliorate the conHis delight was expressed in terms of un- dition of the natives in the American colonies, qualified panegyric. When Francis I. of and to prevent the introduction of negro France was a prisoner in Spain, after the de- slaves. At the same time, with inherent feat of Pavia, in 1525, he expressed a desire bigotry (the only fault we can detect in his to examine this renowned establishment. public character,) he added to the already Seven thousand students came forth to re- tremendous power of the Inquisition, and ceive him. As he traversed the numerous pushed the authority of that dreadful tribuhalls, and saw the perfect manner in which nal to a tyrannical exercise. Three of the every department was appointed, admiration most influential nobles of Castile, the Dukes was superseded by astonishment; and at last of Alva and Infantado, and the Count of he exclaimed in a generous burst of enthusiasm Urena, openly rebelled against his authority. "Your Ximenes has executed more than I The cardinal soon put them down by the should have dared to conceive; he has done, strong arm, seized and burnt the town of with his single hand, what it has cost a line Villafrata, of which some of their partizans of kings to accomplish." The Spanish car- had taken possession, and having subdued dinal was more fortunate than Wolsey, whose them, then solicited their pardon from the college at Ipswich, his native town, fell with king. But, in spite of his most strenuous the disgrace of the founder.* efforts to the contrary, the young monarch, who required money in Flanders, insisted on selling offices in Church and State, and withdrew the funds thus acquired, for foreign purposes. The government of Ximenes became unpopular, from measures, in which he not only had no participation, but strongly opposed. At length, in the autumn of 1517, Charles repaired to Spain, and landed in the Asturias. The cardinal was seriously ill, but the opportune arrival of the king revived him, and they interchanged mutual letters of congratulation. Charles was surrounded by Flemings, who, having profited by the name and abilities of Ximenes, as long as they required them to win the Spanish nobility, were now desirous of preventing an interview between the sovereign and the regent, and sought to prejudice the former by unfavorable representations of the cardinal's morose temper and arbitrary conduct. Charles suf

On the 23d of January, 1566, King Ferdinand died, and was succeeded on the throne of Castile and Arragon by his grandson Charles, son of Joanna, daughter of Isabella, afterwards the celebrated Emperor Charles V. He was at that time absent in the Low Countries, and until he could arrive to take possession of his kingdom, Ximenes was appointed by the late king's will, regent of Castile. It is doubtful whether Ferdinand loved him, but his high character set aside all personal objections. The monarch was sixty-four when he died. The new regent had reached his eightieth year, yet his faculties were as strong and clear as they had ever been, and his energy was unimpaired. Yet in the course of nature, although he had

But Christ Church, Oxford, remains an imper

ishable monument of his fame.

fered himself to be persuaded to write a cold, I motives of both. The latter seems to have hypocritical letter to the great minister, been an ultra expedientist-a man who cared naming the time and place for a personal not how his ends were accomplished, and conference, thanking him for past services, who used the name of Christianity as a conand suggesting his immediate retirement to venient and controlling implement. The his diocese. The unexpected blow cut the Spaniard was sincere; the Frenchman a proud cardinal to the heart, and checked his hypocrite or an unbeliever; and yet both, in hitherto indomitable spirit. According to their last moments, appealed from the judg some historians he died of this unfeeling ment of men, to a more absolute and awful epistle, but it seems more likely that he died tribunal, in nearly the same words, and with of eighty-one; the latter cause will suffice a corresponding confidence. Here is one of without the accelerating stimulant. Ximenes the enigmas of human feeling which we was too tough and stubborn to be extin- strive in vain to unravel or understand. The guished by a letter, or by royal ingratitude, greatest criminals, the most licentious offendhowever pungently conveyed; time and dis- ers, often die as calmly as the uniformly ease had worn him out, and he bowed his virtuous, and appear to be as well satisfied head in obedience to the summons of the that mercy will be extended to their transgrim monarch of the grave, which was de-gressions. livered simultaneously with the missive of the great temporal autocrat. He commenced a letter to King Charles in reply, but a few lines exhausted him, and the effort was suspended. On the 8th of November, 1517, his attenuated frame became the dust from whence all humanity derives its origin. His last words were those of the Psalmist, uttered in the Latin tongue, "In thee, O Lord, have I trusted; let me never be confounded." He was buried with great pomp, contrary to his own express desire. On his deathbed, and just before he received the last sacraments, he uttered these words, recorded by the listeners-"I have no cause to afflict myself that I have ever done an injury or injustice during the whole course of my administration; and I indeed have all the reason in the world to believe, that I have never lost an occasion on which I could afford my assistance to any one that required it. With respect to the revenues, which as an ecclesiastic I have possessed, and of which I am now about to give an account to God, I most firmly and solemnly protest, that I have never diverted from its proper destination a single crown piece to the advantage of myself and of my relations." We may believe in the sincerity of Ximenes, whose life furnished the best comment upon his creed; but how are we to reconcile the similar dying avowal of Richelieu, who said, in the same extremity "I am in the presence of the Judge, who will speedily pronounce my sentence. I entreat of Him, with my whole heart, to condemn me, if, during my ministry, I have ever been guided by other thoughts than the interests of religion and my native country." Ximenes was inflexibly conscientious: Richelieu knew not the meaning of the word (we judge by the positive actions and apparent

Ximenes was altogether one of the most extraordinary men that ever lived. Impartial posterity can detect that his politics were sometimes wrong, but his motives and principles were invariably right. He was sometimes less scrupulous of means than true apostolic religion sanctions, but his violent and extreme measures had no taint of selfishness. His polar star was duty, and from that he never deviated. This inward conviction of integrity in purpose led him to adopt measures which would have been more satisfactory, and more completely justifiable, had they been carried out by a milder and more strictly orthodox course. But in all this he had no thought of himself, and neither rewarded nor punished from private predilection or personal pique. He despised libels, lampoons, and caricatures, by which great and strong minds have been disturbed; he equally repudiated indirect support or justification, and resolved to govern by the innate virtue of power combined with integrity. With unbounded resources, he provided for no poor relations, and left no private pensions to impoverish the exchequer of the minister who succeeded him. His accumulated savings were settled on the university of his own creation. Flechier describes his character as follows:-"As dexterous as Ferdinand himself in the art of governing mankind, be infinitely surpassed him in the qualities of the heart: noble, magnificent, generous, the protector of innocence, of virtue, and of merit, he conceived and executed no plans but those which were of use to mankind. Yet, as everything human must have some alloy, his excellent qualities were occasionally tarnished by severity, by obstinacy, and by ambition. Of his merits, perhaps, no greater testimony can be given, than that his sovereign, Ferdi

« VorigeDoorgaan »