Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

One of those spirits of the "anime triste," in his dismal dungeon, addresses his complaints to the Poet, who thus replies :

“Know you not yet in this place of Boniface? I have a remembrance of a certain writing of some years ago; know you not of him when his desires were satiated, the desires by which he, devoid of fear, took by deceit the spouse of the Church, tomé à inganno la bella donna, and then made a spoil of here di poi farne strazio.

Another of the spirits of the “anime triste,” in his response, refers to the Pastor without legality-un pastor senza legge, and the annotator points out the fact of this Pastor, and the Boniface previously mentioned by Dante, being Boniface the Eighth, the successor of Celestine.

Then the Poet addresses the greatest of the criminals of the “anime triste,” whom he has made a denizen of his Inferno, on the grounds of his having been guilty of simony:

“Oh, tell me how much treasure was desired by our Lord, before he committed the keys to Saint Peter. Certainly, He sought none; if it were not so, why did he say, Get thee behind me, (Satan). Nor did Peter, nor the other apostles, seek gold or silver of Matthew," &c. . .

“And if it were not that I still hold in reverence the keys which you held loosely in the other life, I would use stronger words than these—for your avarice has made the world sorrowful, casting down the good beneath your feet, and elevating the depraved :

Che il vostra avarizia il monda attrista
Calcando i buoni e Sollevando i pravi.

“For you, Pastor, the Evangelist has a lesson, when he speaks of one who sitteth on many waters, committing abominations with the kings of the earth, as she was scen by him, and makes an argument of the beast with the seven heads and ten horns, on which she sat, making an idol of herself to gain admiration: and so, in fact, you have made a God of gold and silver, to whom you and others turn in idolatry; while there

is but one God, and you have many to whom you offer your devotions.

“ Ah, Constantine, of how much evil were you the origin, not by your conversion, but by that dotation of which you were the original munificent author !

“ Ahi Constantin de quanto mal fu madre,
Non la tua conversion, ma quelle dote

Che de te prese il primo ricco padre !"* Lacordaire has observed that four things concurred in establishing the temporal sovereignty of the Popes, independently of all human foresight—the decay of the Oriental empire, which could no longer defend Rome against the barbarians; the ambition of the Lombard kings, who wished to subject Rome to their crown; the successive protection of two great men, Pepin and Charlemagne; lastly, the love of the Roman people for the sovereign Pontiffs, for the benefits they had received from them.

By the force of these four circumstances, the Popes delivered Rome from the remains of that domination which was then crumbling of itself to ruin. By a policy altogether different from that of the kings and emperors who surrounded them, they maintained their twofold authority, by a secure confidence in the destiny of their Church, a patient abiding in whatever position they were placed in, an indisposition to adopt violent measures, and to seek to make themselves masters of circumstances, and situations of affairs in particular emergencies; an inertness of action, when opportunities of gaining advantages over adversaries seemed to present themselves; an absence, in fine, of that eager avidity and impetuous activity which characterizes worldly energies, directed to the accomplishment of mere passing objects of interest or importance.

Their policy was founded on an imperturbable faith in the providence of God for the future of their Church, as well as for its present interests. This policy has ever been, and still is, observable in their conduct with princes : in their particular

* Dante, L'Inferno, tom. i. canto xix. cd. 16mo. Fir. 1825.

endurance of wrong and outrage : in their mode of uealing with obstacles and impediments, and menaces and blandishments. We find in the policy of that old time-honoured government, the same exalted courage, which placed them in the worst of times, or in the greatest difficulties, above the resentments of hostile powers, and the snares of insidious diplomacy; equally unmoved by the violent assaults of old infidelity, and the vulgar vituperation of modern fanaticism.

How do learned Protestant historians speak of the Pontiffs, in relation to Christianity, to humanity, and to arts and letters ? The works of Ranke, Voight, and many other German authors, sufficiently shew how they are appreciated. It is needless to ask how ill-informed Roman Catholics speak of them, persons whose opinions are derived from the flimsy literature that is in vogue in these countries, from the works of infidels professing Christianity, or of pseudo-philosophers, affecting liberality and enlightenment, and dispensing with all laborious research, and careful inquiry into questions of solemn interest which they have the temerity to deal with in a scoffing spirit, sneering at what they do n' understand, and perverting truths, the light of which they ca. possibly shut out from their own eyes.

Who has read the history of the Apostolic See, with all the evils that have beset it, of many of those Pontiffs, who have governed the undecaying Church with a superiority of genius that it is in vain to look for the like of, in the lives of the secular Princes of their respective times, and has not marvelled at the wisdom and the virtue of the great majority of those venerable old men who have filled the Papal chair ?

It was after a profound study of their history, that Fenelon cried out :-“O Eglise Romaine! O Cité Sainte! O chere e commune patrie de notre sein, il n'ya en Jesu Christ, ni Grec, ni Scythe, ni Barbare, ni Juif, tous sont concitoyens de Rome, et tout Catholique est Romain, mais d'ou vient que tant d'enfants denaturée, méconnaissent aujourdhui leur mère, s'elevent contre elle, et la regardent comme une maratre ? D'ou vient que son autorité leur donne tant de vains outrages !”

I have dealt with the abuses of the Court of Rome, the evils of the connection of the Church with temporal concerns and territorial cares, and the vices of the worst Pontiff of the worst age of Catholicity, as fully and as unreservedly as it appeared to me that the interests of truth and the requirements of my subject made it necessary for me to do; but I have not intentionally impugned any doctrine of that Church, of which I believe there never was a brighter ornament than GIROLAMO SAVONAROLA, nor a greater calamity than Alexander the Sixth.

APPENDIX.

No. I.

RELATIONS OF CHURCH AND STATE, AND THEIR INFLUENCES

IN THE PONTIFICATE OF ALEXANDER THE SIXTH.-THE DIARY OF BURCHARI), THE MASTER OF THE CEREMONIES OF ALEXANDER THE SIXTH.

“Jam Thebæ juxta, et tenebrosa vorago."-Stat. Theb. 1. 6. “ The scenes of Thebes are not far off ; the gulf of darkness is yawning before us.”

The work which throws most light on the private life and the conduct of Alexander the Sixth, in the transaction of affairs in public as well as in the privacy of his nocturnal councils, is the “ Diarium (ab anno 1492, quo Alexandrus VI. creatus est Papa usque ad annum 1505, sive Julii secundi irritia), Johannis Burchardis ;” a chaplain and master of the ceremonies to Alexander the Sixth : “ Capella Alessandre VI. clericus et ceremoniarum magister," and, after the death of that Pontiff, Prefect of the Ecclesia Hortana under Julius the Second, and subsequently a prelate.

The Abbé Rochrbacher calls in question the authenticity of Burchard's Diary. Muratori had some slight acquaintance with the laws and tests of criticism, and the application of them to

« VorigeDoorgaan »