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THE LIFE AND MARTYRDOM
LETTER OF SAVONAROLA TO ALEXANDER THE SIXTH.-ODIUM
UNJUSTLY INCURRED BY THE FRIAR, ON ACCOUNT OF THE EXECUTION OF FIVE CITIZENS FOR A POLITICAL OFFENCE. -ORIGIN OF ORDEAL. PRACTICE OF THE EXPERIMENT BY FIRE AT DIFFERENT PERIODS IN FLORENCE.-COMPACT ENTERED INTO BY THE DOMINICAN FRIARS WITH THE FRANCISCANS, AND PROCEEDINGS RELATIVE TO THE ORDEAL.-RESULT OF THOSE PROCEEDINGS.—1497, 1498.
"Non hoc ista sibi tempus spectacula possit."-VIRG. Æn. 6.
The times demand not exhibitions such as these.
The first censures of Alexander the Sixth on Savonarola, and prohibitions to preach, were followed immediately, as we have seen, by open warfare on the friar in Florence on the part of all his opponents, secular and spiritual.
The state of affairs is very plainly pointed out in a letter of Savonarola to Alexander, referred to in the preceding volume, couched in the following terms:
“Very holy Father,—Why does my lord put himself in anger against his servant ? What evil has he found in me? If the children of iniquity have been pleased to calumniate me, why, before giving credence to them, has not my lord taken
the trouble of interrogating and hearing me? One does not get rid of prejudice easily, once a person allows himself to think unfavourably of another. A great many dogs have encompassed me; a host of persons, filled with malice, have assailed me. They have said, courage, courage ! our eyes have seen at last what they desired. There is no safety for him. Your holiness holds the place of God on earth, and my enemies, by a sacrilegious temerity, gave a false interpretation to my words, in order to render me culpable of treason, in persuading you that I do not cease to attack
you and to revile you. It is not to-day for the first time they charge me with this crime. The former year they endeavoured to destroy me by a like calumny; but I have many thousands of witnesses of my innocency; my discourses have been written, as I believe, very exactly at the time I pronounced them. They have been in part printed and dispersed far and wide. Let them be produced, and read and examined carefully, and let that be shown to me which I have preached against your holiness. To convict me of being in contradiction with myself, they say that I wrote in one fashion and that I preach in another. But for what purpose? And what advantage do I propose to myself from such unreasonable conduct? I am surprised that your holiness does not perceive the malice of my enemies; but I ought to be still more surprised at the boldness of this famous preacher, who does not fear to accuse me of a crime of which he alone is culpable. The necessity obliges me to say it, and I am in a state to prove it, by a great number of illustrious witnesses, who have often seen him in the pulpit inveighing indecorously against your holiness. The proofs of this fact are now in writing by the hand of a notary; I will produce them when it is necessary.
“ This preacher ought not to have forgotten that I myself blamed his temerity, and reprehended him for it; for I am not ignorant that it is prohibited to attack in the pulpit even a simple private person, and much less to inveigh openly against the prince and the chief of pastors. Let not this crime then be imputed to me; I am not culpable of it. I submit myself, however, as I have always submitted myself, to the correction of my