« PreviousContinue »
assiduous regularity and gentle spirit of conciliation; the favour of the sovereign, promotion to the highest offices of the state, wealth, honours, distinctions—all worked together against distracted Protestantism.
And Protestantism had now, with some, become an hereditary faith; it had ceased to be an affair of personal or of pressing conviction. In many places, this revived Romanism had all the charm of novelty; the weariness and distaste, felt by many for things established, now embarrassed and chilled Protestantism in its turn. In France the vices and the virtues of men contributed simultaneously to the advancement of the Romish cause. The religious indifference, or, worse, the undisguised atheism of some of the courtiers, which could not but be encouraged by the light-hearted gaiety with which Henry, notwithstanding the solemn and laboured gravity with which the scene of his conversion was enacted, transferred his allegiance from one faith to the other; the careless profligacy of others, who were ready to come to terms with that religion which would lay on them the lightest yoke, and which they saw would stoop to almost any compromise for the sake of making converts; on the other hand, the exquisite Christian virtue of men like St. Francis de Sales; the learning of the Benedictines; the gentle and active beneficence of the several female monastic communities which began to act as Sisters of Charity, to attend the hospitals, to visit the sick, to relieve the distressed-such were the influences at work through the whole kingdom. At the same time, if we are to judge from the interesting memoirs of Duplessis Mornay, nothing could be more uncongenial to the national character, or less persuasive to the affections, than the austerity of the Calvinistic Protestantism, and its busy and officious interference with the minutest details of conduct. Madame de Mornay herself, a woman of a saintly disposition, was excluded from the communion because her hairdresser sinned against some sanctimonious style of top-nots patronized by her preacher.3
• Those to whom these Memoirs are inaccessible may refer to the History of the Reformation in France, in Rivington's Theological Library, one of the few historical
In Germany the desperate and miscalculating ambition of the Protestants inflicted the last fatal blow upon their interests, which not all the subsequent glories of the Thirty Years' War, nor the valour of Gustavus Adolphus and his Swedes, could efface or remedy. The rash acceptance of the Bohemian crown by the Elector Palatine, and the consequent subjugation of the palatinate by the Roman Catholic powers, gave an immense accession to the increasing preponderance of their party. During the thanksgiving procession for the victory at the White Mountain, Paul V. was struck with apoplexy,a second stroke followed shortly after; he died January 28, 1621.
Gregory XV., Ludovisi of Bologna, succeeded to the pontificate. He was a feeble old man, but his weakness and age were more than compensated by the energy of his nephew, the Cardinal Ludovisi, a young, magnificent, and zealous prelate. The short pontificate of Gregory is signalized by two events, which show the active solicitude of the head of the Roman Church for the resumption and extension of his spiritual dominion,—the foundation of the College de Propagandâ Fide, and the beatification of the two great ornaments of the Jesuit order, the real restorers and propagators of Roman Catholicism,Ignatius Loyola and Xavier. To Xavier this debt of gratitude was due, if we merely consider the service he rendered to the cause of the Papacy, no less than to the half-insane founder of Jesuitism. Xavier's labours, no doubt, operated far beyond the actual sphere of his extraordinary exertions. The successes of the Papal missionaries in the East could not but powerfully react on the public mind in the West. The real wonders of Xavier's mission were heightened, as they were gradually disseminated through Europe by his admiring brethren, into a scene of constant miracle, unexampled since the days of the compendiums of real value produced by the recent taste for cheap publications. The author, the Rev. Edward Smedley, an amiable and pious man, who, having become incapacitated by bodily affliction for the active duties of his profession, dovoted himself to literature with great diligence and ability, has, we regret to hear, recently died, leaving a large family in very narrow circumstances.
Apostles. It was with singular felicity, we had almost written address, that the miraculous powers of the Church of Rome, which it was not yet time openly to resume in the face of incredulous and inquiring Protestantism, were relegated, if we may so speak, to these remote regions. They possessed all the fame, all the influence, without provoking immediate jealousy; by commanding the admiration they almost conciliated the belief of their adversaries. While Christianity was making such wonderful progress in such remote regions, the Protestant of ardent piety, however little inclined to approve of the acts of the Roman Church, would be tempted to acknowledge the hand of God in such apostolic labours and apostolic success. Nor would he coldly, as at a later period, separate between the marvellous and the real in the transaction. There was a grandeur, an enterprise, a romance in those accounts of missionaries riding on elephants to the gorgeous sovereigns on thrones of gold and ivory, which would predispose the mind to the reception of preternatural wonders. The Church to which these heaven-led, and devoted, and wonder-working men belonged; by which they were commissioned ; in whose spirit and whose doctrines they taught, would gradually gain in respect and admiration -sentiments closely bordering on, if not naturally leading, unless in strong and severely Protestantized minds, to veneration and the desire of re-union. While the Roman Church was apparently uniting America, India, China, Japan, Abyssinia to Christendom, did it not become a more and more serious and questionable affair to infringe upon its unity, to rebel against its authority, to weaken its powers ?
Urban VIII., Barberini, on the death of Gregory in 1623, ascended the papal throne. He was of a Florentine mercantile family, which had considerable establishments at Ancona. Barberini was in the vigour of life, fifty-five years old. Under the new Pope a total change took place in the appearance of the court. In the chamber of Clement VIII. might be seen the works of St. Bernard; in that of Paul V. those of the blessed Justinian of Venice; on the writing-table of Urban might be
found the last new poem, or a treatise on fortification.' Again a temporal prince seemed to give law in the Vatican. But that which, some years before, might have been dangerous to the influence, as secularising or desecrating the character of the supreme pontiff, might be practised with impunity now that the successful re-action had been carried to such extent, now that France was once more Romish, and the house of Austria seemed extending its power into the native realms of Protestantism,—now that Popish prelates were again seated in places so devotedly Protestant as Magdeburg, Halberstadt, and Bremen. It seemed the first passion of Urban to raise an effective military force, and to render the papal dominions impregnable to an enemy. At Castel Franco, in the Bolognese, rose the fortress Urbano, so placed, indeed, as to seem less intended to resist a foreign enemy, than to bridle the refractory Bolognese. He fortified the Castle of St. Angelo, established a manufactory for arms at Tivoli, and formed an armoury of all kinds of
weapons under the Vatican library. Rome once more became the centre of European politics.
We now propose to confine ourselves to some transactions which relate to our own country. But we ascend again, in order to exhibit consecutively the more important parts of Mr. Ranke's work connected with English history: one, at least, of the facts, which he has brought forward, appears to have been unknown, and others have been but slightly touched by our native authors. Great hopes were entertained at Rome on the union of the British crowns in the person of James I., the son of the sainted martyr for the faith, Mary of Scotland. Public thanksgivings and processions celebrated his accession. Clement VIII. took care to inform him that, as the son of so virtuous a mother, he prayed for his temporal and eternal welfare. The English Romanists were instructed to recognise James as their rightful king, with all true loyalty; and James, through his ambassador at Paris, who was in friendly intercourse with the Nuncio, promised his protection to all peaceful Roman Catholics. It is said that when the Puritans complained that mass was publicly performed in the North of England, and that 50,000 English converts had been made to Popery, James, whose pedantry did not always overlay, and whose prudence never controlled his wit, answered, “that they might on the other hand convert as many Spaniards and Italians. But, whatever might be James's private sentiments, the general voice of the nation demanded, and James could not but sanction, the enforcement of the existing Acts against the Roman Catholics. Persecution ensued. The high-wrought and disappointed hopes of the Papists maddened the more fanatic among them. The Gunpowder Plot was intended to wreak their vengeance ; but ended in the complete, even if temporary, alienation of James's mind from their cause, and united in one sentiment of animosity the whole Protestant part of the nation. Fear seemed to justify hatred,—hatred magnified the general fear. Yet when the first terror was over, the tendency of his own opinions, and his dislike of the Puritans, gradually drew James back to at least a more amicable feeling towards the Romanists. His inactivity during the war of the Palatinate-though to be ascribed in part to his timidity, to his love of peace, and his fear of parliaments-his consent, first to the Spanish, then to the French match--show at least no implacable animosity to Rome. There is one circumstance with regard to James's own family, unnoticed by Mr. Ranke, as well as by our native historians (so far as our memory extends), which is of some importance, not so much on account of the weight and influence of the person, as indicating the successful system of proselytism pursued by the Vatican. Anne of Denmark, James's queen, was a secret Roman Catholic, in regular correspondence, receiving letters and indulgences from Rome. The authority for this fact may be found in Galluzzi's History of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany' (vol. iii. 318,323, 4to ed.), almost the best historical work, we may observe, in the Italian language. Galluzzi wrote from the archives of the Medici family, and at the period when the religion of James's queen had become a question of perfect indifference. Anne conducted her corre