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´╗┐Title: Beacon Lights of History, Volume 3 part 2: Renaissance and Reformation
Author: Lord, John
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Beacon Lights of History, Volume 3 part 2: Renaissance and Reformation" ***

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                which is titled Beacon Lights of History, Volume VI:
                Renaissance and Reformation.  See E-Book#10532,
                The numbering of volumes in the earlier set reflected
                the order in which the lectures were given.  In the
                later version, volumes were numbered to put the subjects
                in historical sequence.

Beacon Lights of History

by John Lord, LL.D.

Volume III.

Part II--Renaissance and Reformation.




The antiquity of Poetry
The greatness of Poets
Their influence on Civilization
The true poet one of the rarest of men
The pre-eminence of Homer, Dante, Shakspeare, and Goethe
Characteristics of Dante
His precocity
His moral wisdom and great attainments
His terrible scorn and his isolation
State of society when Dante was born
His banishment
Guelphs and Ghibellines
Dante stimulated to his great task by an absorbing sentiment
Dante's passion for Beatrice analyzed
The worship of ideal qualities the foundation of lofty love
The mystery of love
Its exalted realism
Dedication of Dante's life-labors to the departed Beatrice
The Divine Comedy; a study
The Inferno; its graphic pictures
Its connection with the ideas of the Middle Ages
The physical hell of Dante in its connection with the Mediaeval
  doctrine of Retribution
The Purgatorio; its moral wisdom
Origin of the doctrine of Purgatory
Its consolation amid the speculations of despair
The Paradiso
Its discussion of grand themes
The Divina Commedia makes an epoch in civilization
Dante's life an epic
His exalted character
His posthumous influence



The characteristics of the fourteenth century
Its great events and characters
State of society in England when Chaucer arose
His early life
His intimacy with John of Gaunt, the great Duke of Lancaster
His prosperity
His poetry
The Canterbury Tales
Their fidelity to Nature and to English life
Connection of his poetry with the formation of the English Language
The Pilgrims of the Canterbury Tales
Chaucer's views of women and of love
His description of popular sports and amusements
The preponderance of country life in the fourteenth century
Chaucer's description of popular superstitions
Of ecclesiastical abuses
His emancipation from the ideas of the Middle Ages
Peculiarities of his poetry
Chaucer's private life
The respect in which he was held
Influence of his poetry



Marco Polo
His travels
The geographical problems of the fourteenth century
Sought to be solved by Christopher Columbus
The difficulties he had to encounter
Regarded as a visionary man
His persistence
Influence of women in great enterprises
Columbus introduced to Queen Isabella
Excuses for his opponents
The Queen favors his projects
The first voyage of Columbus
Its dangers
Discovery of the Bahama Islands
Discovery of Cuba and Hispaniola
Columbus returns to Spain
The excitement and enthusiasm produced by his discoveries
His second voyage
Extravagant expectations of Columbus
Disasters of the colonists
Decline of the popularity of Columbus
His third voyage
His arrest and disgrace
His fourth voyage
His death
Greatness of his services
Results of his discoveries
The mines of Peru and Mexico
The effects on Europe of the rapid increase of the precious metals
True sources of national wealth
The destinies of America
Its true mission



The age of Savonarola
Revival of Classic Literature
Ecclesiastical corruptions
Religious apathy; awakened intelligence; infidel spirit
Youth of Savonarola
His piety
Begins to preach
His success at Florence
Peculiarities of his eloquence
Death of Lorenzo de Medici
Savonarola as a political leader
Denunciation of tyranny
His influence in giving a constitution to the Florentines
Difficulties of Constitution-making
His method of teaching political science
Peculiarities of the new Rule
Its great wisdom
Savonarola as reformer
As moralist
Terrible denunciation of sin in high places
A prophet of woe
Contrast between Savonarola and Luther
The sermons of Savonarola
His marvellous eloquence
Its peculiarities
The enemies of Savonarola
Savonarola persecuted
His appeal to Europe
The people desert him
Months of torment
His martyrdom
His character
His posthumous influence



Michael Angelo as representative of reviving Art
Ennobling effects of Art when inspired by lofty sentiments
Brilliancy of Art in the sixteenth century
Early life of Michael Angelo
His aptitude for Art
Patronized by Lorenzo de Medici
Sculpture later in its development than Architecture
The chief works of Michael Angelo as sculptor
The peculiarity of his sculptures
Michael Angelo as painter
History of painting in the Middle Ages
Da Vinci
The frescos of the Sistine Chapel
The Last Judgment
The cartoon of the battle of Pisa
The variety as well as moral grandeur of Michael Angelo's paintings
Ennobling influence of his works
His works as architect
St. Peter's Church
Revival of Roman and Grecian Architecture
Contrasted with Gothic Architecture
Michael Angelo rescues the beauties of Paganism
Not responsible for absurdities of the Renaissance
Greatness of Michael Angelo as a man
His industry, temperance, dignity of character, love of Art for
  Art's sake
His indifference to rewards and praises
His transcendent fame



Luther's predecessors
Corruptions of the Church
Luther the man for the work of reform
His peculiarities
His early piety
Enters a Monastery
His religious experience
Made Professor of Divinity at Wittenberg
The Pope in great need of money to complete St. Peter's
Indulgences; principles on which they were based
Luther, indignant, preaches Justification by Faith
His immense popularity
Grace the cardinal principle of the Reformation
The Reformation began as a religious movement
How the defence of Luther's doctrine led to the recognition of the
  supreme authority of the Scriptures
Public disputation at Leipsic between Luther and Eck
Connection between the advocacy of the Bible as a supreme authority
  and the right of private judgment
Religious liberty a sequence of private judgment
Connection between religious and civil liberty
Contrast between Leo I. and Luther
Luther as reformer
His boldness and popularity
He alarms Rome
His translation of the Bible, his hymns, and other works
Summoned by imperial authority to the Diet of Worms
His memorable defence
His immortal legacies
His death and character



Importance of the English Reformation
Cranmer its best exponent
What was effected during the reign of Henry VIII.
Thomas Cromwell
Suppression of Monasteries
Their opposition to the revival of Learning
Their exceeding corruption
Their great wealth and its confiscation
Ecclesiastical courts
Sir Thomas More; his execution
Main feature of Henry VIII.'s anti-clerical measures.
Fall of Cromwell
Rise of Cranmer
His characteristics
His wise moderation
His fortunate suggestions to Henry VIII.
Made Archbishop of Canterbury
Difficulties of his position
Reforms made by the government, not by the people.
Accession of Edward VI
Cranmer's Church reforms: open communion; abolition of the Mass;
new English liturgy
Marriage among the clergy; the Forty-two Articles
Accession of Mary
Persecution of the Reformers
Reactionary measures
Arrest, weakness, and recantation of Cranmer
His noble death; his character
Death of Mary
Accession of Elizabeth, and return of exiles to England
The Elizabethan Age
Conservative reforms and conciliatory measures
The Thirty-nine Articles
Their doctrines and discipline
The great Puritan controversy
The Puritans represent the popular side of the Reformation
Their theology
Their moral discipline
Their connection with civil liberty
Summary of the English Reformation



The counter-reformation effected by the Jesuits
Picture of the times; theological doctrines
The Monastic Orders no longer available
Ignatius Loyola
His early life
Founds a new order of Monks
Wonderful spread of the Society of Jesus
Their efficient organization
Causes of success in general
Virtues and abilities of the early Jesuits
Their devotion and bravery
Jesuit Missions
Veneration for Loyola; his "Spiritual Exercises"
Singular obedience exacted of the members of the Society
Absolute power of the General of the Order
Voluntary submission of Jesuits to complete despotism
The Jesuits adapt themselves to the circumstances of society
Causes of the decline of their influence
Corruption of most human institutions
The Jesuits become rich and then corrupt
Esprit de corps of the Jesuits
Their doctrine of expediency
Their political intrigues
Persecution of the Protestants
The enemies they made
Madame de Pompadour
Suppression of the Order
Their return to power
Reasons why Protestants fear and dislike them



John Calvin's position
His early life and precocity
Becomes a leader of Protestants
Removes to Geneva
His habits and character
Temporary exile
Convention at Frankfort
Melancthon, Luther, Calvin, and Catholic doctrines
Return to Geneva, and marriage
Calvin compared with Luther
Calvin as a legislator
His reform
His views of the Eucharist
Excommunication, etc
His dislike of ceremonies and festivals
The simplicity of the worship of God
His ideas of church government
Absence of toleration
Church and State
Exaltation of preaching
Calvin as a theologian; his Institutes
His doctrine of Predestination
His general doctrines in harmony with Mediaeval theology
His views of sin and forgiveness; Calvinism
He exacts the same authority to logical deduction from admitted
truths as to direct declarations of Scripture
Puritans led away by Calvin's intellectuality
His whole theology radiates from the doctrine of the majesty of God
and the littleness of man
To him a personal God is everything
Defects of his system
Calvin an aristocrat
His intellectual qualities
His prodigious labors
His severe characteristics
His vast influence
His immortal fame



Lord Bacon as portrayed by Macaulay
His great defects of character
Contrast made between the man and the philosopher
Bacon's youth and accomplishments
Enters Parliament
Seeks office
At the height of fortune and fame
His misfortunes
Consideration of charges against him
His counterbalancing merits
The exaltation by Macaulay of material life
Bacon made its exponent
But the aims of Bacon were higher
The true spirit of his philosophy
Deductive philosophies
His new method
Bacon's Works
Relations of his philosophy
Material science and knowledge
Comparison of knowledge with wisdom



A brilliant portent
The greatness of the sixteenth century
Artists, scholars, reformers, religious defenders
Maritime discoveries
Literary, ecclesiastical, political achievements
Youth of Galileo
His early discoveries
Genius for mathematics
Professor at Pisa
Ridicules the old philosophers; invents the thermometer
Compared with Kepler
Galileo teaches the doctrines of Copernicus.
Gives offence by his railleries and mockeries.
Theology and science
Astronomical knowledge of the Ancients
Utilization of science
Construction of the first telescope
Galileo's reward
His successive discoveries
His enemies
High scientific rank in Europe
Hostility of the Church
Galileo summoned before the Inquisition; his condemnation and
His new offences
Summoned before a council of Cardinals
His humiliation
His recantations
Consideration of his position
Greatness of mind rather than character
His confinement at Arceti
Opposition to science
His melancholy old age and blindness
Visited by John Milton; comparison of the two, when blind
Consequence of Galileo's discoveries
Later results
Vastness of the universe
Grandeur of astronomical science



A.D. 1265-1321.


The first great genius who aroused his country from the torpor of
the Middle Ages was a poet.  Poetry, then, was the first influence
which elevated the human mind amid the miseries of a gloomy period,
if we may except the schools of philosophy which flourished in the
rising universities.  But poetry probably preceded all other forms
of culture in Europe, even as it preceded philosophy and art in
Greece.  The gay Provencal singers were harbingers of Dante, even
as unknown poets prepared the way for Homer.  And as Homer was the
creator of Grecian literature, so Dante, by his immortal comedy,
gave the first great impulse to Italian thought.  Hence poets are
great benefactors, and we will not let them die in our memories or
hearts.  We crown them, when alive, with laurels and praises; and
when they die, we erect monuments to their honor.  They are dear to
us, since their writings give perpetual pleasure, and appeal to our
loftiest sentiments.  They appeal not merely to consecrated ideas
and feelings, but they strive to conform to the principles of
immortal art.  Every great poet is as much an artist as the
sculptor or the painter: and art survives learning itself.  Varro,
the most learned of the Romans, is forgotten, when Virgil is
familiar to every school-boy.  Cicero himself would not have been
immortal, if his essays and orations had not conformed to the
principles of art.  Even an historian who would live must be an
artist, like Voltaire or Macaulay.  A cumbrous, or heavy, or
pedantic historian will never be read, even if his learning be
praised by all the critics of Germany.

Poets are the great artists of language.  They even create
languages, like Homer and Shakspeare.  They are the ornaments of
literature.  But they are more than ornaments.  They are the sages
whose sayings are treasured up and valued and quoted from age to
age, because of the inspiration which is given to them,--an insight
into the mysteries of the soul and the secrets of life.  A good
song is never lost; a good poem is never buried, like a system of
philosophy, but has an inherent vitality, like the melodies of the
son of Jesse.  Real poetry is something, too, beyond elaborate
versification, which is one of the literary fashions, and passes
away like other fashions unless, redeemed by something that arouses
the soul, and elevates it, and appeals to the consciousness of
universal humanity.  It is the poets who make revelations, like
prophets and sages of old; it is they who invest history with
interest; like Shakspeare and Racine, and preserve what is most
vital and valuable in it.  They even adorn philosophy, like
Lucretius, when he speculated on the systems of the Ionian
philosophers.  They certainly impress powerfully on the mind the
truths of theology, as Watts and Cowper and Wesley did in their
noble lyrics.  So that the most rapt and imaginative of men, if
artists, utilize the whole realm of knowledge, and diffuse it, and
perpetuate it in artistic forms.  But real poets are rare, even if
there are many who glory in the jingle of language and the
structure of rhyme.  Poetry, to live, must have a soul, and it must
combine rare things,--art, music, genius, original thought, wisdom
made still richer by learning, and, above all, a power of appealing
to inner sentiments, which all feel, yet are reluctant to express.
So choice are the gifts, so grand are the qualities, so varied the
attainments of truly great poets, that very few are born in a whole
generation and in nations that number twenty or forty millions of
people.  They are the rarest of gifted men.  Every nation can boast
of its illustrious lawyers, statesmen, physicians, and orators; but
they can point only to a few of their poets with pride.  We can
count on the fingers of one of our hands all those worthy of poetic
fame who now live in this great country of intellectual and
civilized men, one for every ten millions.  How great the pre-
eminence even of ordinary poets!  How very great the pre-eminence
of those few whom all ages and nations admire!

The critics assign to Dante a pre-eminence over most of those we
call immortal.  Only two or three other poets in the whole realm of
literature, ancient or modern, dispute his throne.  We compare him
with Homer and Shakspeare, and perhaps Goethe, alone.  Civilization
glories in Virgil, Milton, Tasso, Racine, Pope, and Byron,--all
immortal artists; but it points to only four men concerning whose
transcendent creative power there is unanimity of judgment,--
prodigies of genius, to whose influence and fame we can assign no
limits; stars of such surpassing brilliancy that we can only gaze
and wonder,--growing brighter and brighter, too, with the progress
of ages; so remarkable that no barbarism will ever obscure their
brightness, so original that all imitation of them becomes
impossible and absurd.  So great is original genius, directed by
art and consecrated to lofty sentiments.

I have assumed the difficult task of presenting one of these great
lights.  But I do not presume to analyze his great poem, or to
point out critically its excellencies.  This would be beyond my
powers, even if I were an Italian.  It takes a poet to reveal a
poet.  Nor is criticism interesting to ordinary minds, even in the
hands of masters.  I should make critics laugh if I were to attempt
to dissect the Divine Comedy.  Although, in an English dress, it is
known to most people who pretend to be cultivated, yet it is not
more read than the "Paradise Lost" or the "Faerie Queene," being
too deep and learned for some, and understood by nobody without a
tolerable acquaintance with the Middle Ages, which it interprets,--
the superstitions, the loves, the hatreds, the ideas of ages which
can never more return.  All I can do--all that is safe for me to
attempt--is to show the circumstances and conditions in which it
was written, the sentiments which prompted it, its historical
results, its general scope and end, and whatever makes its author
stand out to us as a living man, bearing the sorrows and revelling
in the joys of that high life which gave to him extraordinary moral
wisdom, and made him a prophet and teacher to all generations.  He
was a man of sorrows, of resentments, fierce and implacable, but
whose "love was as transcendent as his scorn,"--a man of vast
experiences and intense convictions and superhuman earnestness,
despising the world which he sought to elevate, living isolated in
the midst of society, a wanderer and a sage, meditating constantly
on the grandest themes, lost in ecstatic reveries, familiar with
abstruse theories, versed in all the wisdom of his day and in the
history of the past, a believer in God and immortality, in rewards
and punishments, and perpetually soaring to comprehend the
mysteries of existence, and those ennobling truths which constitute
the joy and the hope of renovated and emancipated and glorified
spirits in the realms of eternal bliss.  All this is history, and
it is history alone which I seek to teach,--the outward life of a
great man, with glimpses, if I can, of those visions of beauty and
truth in which his soul lived, and which visions and experiences
constitute his peculiar greatness.  Dante was not so close an
observer of human nature as Shakspeare, nor so great a painter of
human actions as Homer, nor so learned a scholar as Milton; but his
soul was more serious than either,--he was deeper, more intense
than they; while in pathos, in earnestness, and in fiery emphasis
he has been surpassed only by Hebrew poets and prophets.

It would seem from his numerous biographies that he was remarkable
from a boy; that he was a youthful prodigy; that he was precocious,
like Cicero and Pascal; that he early made great attainments,
giving utterance to living thoughts and feelings, like Bacon, among
boyish companions; lisping in numbers, like Pope, before he could
write prose; different from all other boys, since no time can be
fixed when he did not think and feel like a person of maturer
years.  Born in Florence, of the noble family of the Alighieri, in
the year 1265, his early education devolved upon his mother, his
father having died while the boy was very young.  His mother's
friend, Brunetto Latini, famous as statesman and scholarly poet,
was of great assistance in directing his tastes and studies.  As a
mere youth he wrote sonnets, such as Sordello the Troubadour would
not disdain to own.  He delights, as a boy, in those inquiries
which gave fame to Bonaventura.  He has an intuitive contempt for
all quacks and pretenders.  At Paris he maintains fourteen
different theses, propounded by learned men, on different subjects,
and gains universal admiration.  He is early selected by his native
city for important offices, which he fills with honor.  In wit he
encounters no superiors.  He scorches courts by sarcasms which he
can not restrain.  He offends the great by a superiority which he
does not attempt to veil.  He affects no humility, for his nature
is doubtless proud; he is even offensively conscious and arrogant.
When Florence is deliberating about the choice of an ambassador to
Rome, he playfully, yet still arrogantly, exclaims: "If I remain
behind, who goes? and if I go, who remains behind?"  His
countenance, so austere and thoughtful, impresses all beholders
with a sort of inborn greatness; his lip, in Giotto's portrait, is
curled disdainfully, as if he lived among fools or knaves.  He is
given to no youthful excesses; he lives simply and frugally.  He
rarely speaks unless spoken to; he is absorbed apparently in
thought.  Without a commanding physical person, he is a marked man
to everybody, even when he deems himself a stranger.  Women gaze at
him with wonder and admiration, though he disdains their praises
and avoids their flatteries.  Men make way for him as he passes
them, unconsciously.  "Behold," said a group of ladies, as he
walked slowly by them, "there is a man who has visited hell!"  To
the close of his life he was a great devourer of books, and
digested their contents.  His studies were as various as they were
profound.  He was familiar with the ancient poets and historians
and philosophers; he was still better acquainted with the abstruse
speculations of the schoolmen.  He delighted in universities and
scholastic retreats; from the cares and duties of public life he
would retire to solitary labors, and dignify his retirement by
improving studies.  He did not live in a cell, like Jerome, or a
cave, like Mohammed; but no man was ever more indebted to solitude
and meditation than he for that insight and inspiration which
communion with God and great ideas alone can give.

And yet, though recluse and student, he had great experiences with
life.  He was born among the higher ranks of society.  He inherited
an ample patrimony.  He did not shrink from public affairs.  He was
intensely patriotic, like Michael Angelo; he gave himself up to the
good of his country, like Savonarola.  Florence was small, but it
was important; it was already a capital, and a centre of industry.
He represented its interests in various courts.  He lived with
princes and nobles.  He took an active part in all public matters
and disputations; he was even familiar with the intrigues of
parties; he was a politician as well as scholar.  He entered into
the contests between Popes and Emperors respecting the independence
of Italy.  He was not conversant with art, for the great sculptors
and painters had not then arisen.  The age was still dark; the
mariner's compass had not been invented, chimneys had not been
introduced, the comforts of life were few.  Dames of highest rank
still spent their days over the distaff or in combing flax.  There
were no grand structures but cathedral churches.  Life was
laborious, dismal, and turbulent.  Law and order did not reign in
cities or villages.  The poor were oppressed by nobles.  Commerce
was small and manufactures scarce.  Men lived in dreary houses,
without luxuries, on coarse bread and fruit and vegetables.  The
crusades had not come to an end.  It was the age of quarrelsome
popes and cruel nobles, and lazy monks and haughty bishops, and
ignorant people, steeped in gloomy superstitions, two hundred years
before America was discovered, and two hundred and fifty years
before Michael Angelo erected the dome of St. Peter's.

But there was faith in the world, and rough virtues, sincerity, and
earnestness of character, though life was dismal.  Men believed in
immortality and in expiation for sin.  The rising universities had
gifted scholars whose abstruse speculations have never been
rivalled for acuteness and severity of logic.  There were bards and
minstrels, and chivalric knights and tournaments and tilts, and
village fetes and hospitable convents and gentle ladies,--gentle
and lovely even in all states of civilization, winning by their
graces and inspiring men to deeds of heroism and gallantry.

In one of those domestic revolutions which were so common in Italy
Dante was banished, and his property was confiscated; and he at the
age of thirty-five, about the year 1300, when Giotto was painting
portraits, was sent forth a wanderer and an exile, now poor and
unimportant, to eat the bread of strangers and climb other people's
stairs; and so obnoxious was he to the dominant party in his native
city for his bitter spirit, that he was destined never to return to
his home and friends.  His ancestors, boasting of Roman descent,
belonged to the patriotic party,--the Guelphs, who had the
ascendency in his early years,--that party which defended the
claims of the Popes against the Emperors of Germany.  But this
party had its divisions and rival families,--those that sided with
the old feudal nobles who had once ruled the city, and the new
mercantile families that surpassed them in wealth and popular
favor.  So, expelled by a fraction of his own party that had gained
power, Dante went over to the Ghibellines, and became an adherent
of imperial authority until he died.

It was in his wanderings from court to court and castle to castle
and convent to convent and university to university, that he
acquired that profound experience with men and the world which
fitted him for his great task.  "Not as victorious knight on the
field of Campaldino, not as leader of the Guelph aristocracy at
Florence, not as prior, not as ambassador," but as a wanderer did
he acquire his moral wisdom.  He was a striking example of the
severe experiences to which nearly all great benefactors have been
subjected,--Abraham the exile, in the wilderness, in Egypt, among
Philistines, among robbers and barbaric chieftains; the Prince
Siddartha, who founded Buddhism, in his wanderings among the
various Indian nations who bowed down to Brahma; and, still
greater, the Apostle Paul, in his protracted martyrdom among Pagan
idolaters and boastful philosophers, in Asia and in Europe.  These
and others may be cited, who led a life of self-denial and reproach
in order to spread the truths which save mankind.  We naturally
call their lot hard, even though they chose it; but it is the
school of greatness.  It was sad to see the wisest and best man of
his day,--a man of family, of culture, of wealth, of learning,
loving leisure, attached to his home and country, accustomed to
honor and independence,--doomed to exile, poverty, neglect, and
hatred, without those compensations which men of genius in our time
secure.  But I would not attempt to excite pity for an outward
condition which developed the higher virtues,--for a thorny path
which led to the regions of eternal light.  Dante may have walked
in bitter tears to Paradise, but after the fashion of saints and
martyrs in all ages of our world.  He need but cast his eyes on
that emblem which was erected on every pinnacle of Mediaeval
churches to symbolize passing suffering with salvation infinite,--
the great and august creed of the age in which he lived, though now
buried amid the triumphs of an imposing material civilization whose
end is the adoration of the majesty of man rather than the majesty
of God, the wonders of creation rather than the greatness of the

But something more was required in order to write an immortal poem
than even native genius, great learning, and profound experience.
The soul must be stimulated to the work by an absorbing and
ennobling passion.  This passion Dante had; and it is as memorable
as the mortal loves of Abelard and Heloise, and infinitely more
exalting, since it was spiritual and immortal,--even the adoration
of his lamented and departed Beatrice.

I wish to dwell for a moment, perhaps longer than to some may seem
dignified, on this ideal or sentimental love.  It may seem trivial
and unimportant to the eye of youth, or a man of the world, or a
woman of sensual nature, or to unthinking fools and butterflies;
but it is invested with dignity to one who meditates on the
mysteries of the soul, the wonders of our higher nature,--one of
the things which arrest the attention of philosophers.

It is recorded and attested, even by Dante himself, that at the
early age of nine he fell in love with Beatrice,--a little girl of
one of his neighbors,--and that he wrote to her sonnets as the
mistress of his devotion.  How could he have written sonnets
without an inspiration, unless he felt sentiments higher than we
associate with either boys or girls?  The boy was father of the
man.  "She appeared to me," says the poet, "at a festival, dressed
in that most noble and honorable color, scarlet,--girded and
ornamented in a manner suitable to her age; and from that moment
love ruled my soul.  And after many days had passed, it happened
that, passing through the street, she turned her eyes to the spot
where I stood, and with ineffable courtesy she greeted me; and this
had such an effect on me that it seemed I had reached the furthest
limit of blessedness.  I took refuge in the solitude of my chamber;
and, thinking over what had happened to me, I proposed to write a
sonnet, since I had already acquired the art of putting words into
rhyme."  This, from his "Vita Nuova," his first work, relating to
the "new life" which this love awoke in his young soul.

Thus, according to Dante's own statement, was the seed of a never-
ending passion planted in his soul,--the small beginning, so
insignificant to cynical eyes, that it would almost seem
preposterous to allude to it; as if this fancy for a little girl in
scarlet, and in a boy but nine years of age, could ripen into
anything worthy to be soberly mentioned by a grave and earnest
poet, in the full maturity of his genius,--worthy to give direction
to his lofty intellect, worthy to be the occasion of the greatest
poem the world has seen from Homer to modern times.  Absurd!
ridiculous!  Great rivers cannot rise from such a spring; tall
trees cannot grow from such a little acorn.  Thus reasons the man
who does not take cognizance of the mighty mysteries of human life.
If anything tempted the boy to write sonnets to a little girl, it
must have been the chivalric element in society at that period,
when even boys were required to choose objects of devotion, and to
whom they were to be loyal, and whose honor they were bound to
defend.  But the grave poet, in the decline of his life, makes this
simple confession, as the beginning of that sentiment which never
afterwards departed from him, and which inspired him to his
grandest efforts.

But this youthful attachment was unfortunate.  Beatrice did not
return his passion, and had no conception of its force, and perhaps
was not even worthy to call it forth.  She may have been beautiful;
she may have been gifted; she may have been commonplace.  It
matters little whether she was intellectual or not, beautiful or
not.  It was not the flesh and blood he saw, but the image of
beauty and loveliness which his own mind created.  He idealized the
girl; she was to him all that he fancied.  But she never encouraged
him; she denied his greetings, and even avoided his society.  At
last she died, when he was twenty-seven, and left him--to use his
own expression--"to ruminate on death, and envy whomsoever dies."
To console himself, he read Boethius, and religious philosophy was
ever afterwards his favorite study.  Nor did serenity come, so deep
were his sentiments, so powerful was his imagination, until he had
formed an exalted purpose to write a poem in her honor, and worthy
of his love.  "If it please Him through whom all things come," said
Dante, "that my life be spared, I hope to tell such things of her
as never before have been seen by any one."

Now what inspired so strange a purpose?  Was it a Platonic
sentiment, like the love of Petrarch for Laura, or something that
we cannot explain, and yet real,--a mystery of the soul in its
deepest cravings and aspirations?  And is love, among mortals
generally, based on such a foundation?  Is it flesh and blood we
love; is it the intellect; is it the character; is it the soul; is
it what is inherently interesting in woman, and which everybody can
see,--the real virtues of the heart and charms of physical beauty?
Or is it what we fancy in the object of our adoration, what exists
already in our own minds,--the archetypes of eternal ideas of
beauty and grace?  And do all men worship these forms of beauty
which the imagination creates?  Can any woman, or any man, seen
exactly as they are, incite a love which is kindred to worship?
And is any love worthy to be called love, if it does not inspire
emotions which prompt to self-sacrifice, labor, and lofty ends?
Can a woman's smiles incite to Herculean energies, and drive the
willing worshipper to Aonian heights, unless under these smiles are
seen the light of life and the blessedness of supernatural fervor?
Is there, and can there be, a perpetuity in mortal charms without
the recognition or the supposition of a moral beauty connected with
them, which alone is pure and imperishable, and which alone creates
the sacred ecstasy that revels in the enjoyment of what is divine,
or what is supposed to be divine, not in man, but in the
conceptions of man,--the ever-blazing glories of goodness or of
truth which the excited soul doth see in the eyes and expression of
the adored image?  It is these archetypes of divinity, real or
fancied, which give to love all that is enduring.  Destroy these,
take away the real or fancied glories of the soul and mind, and the
holy flame soon burns out.  No mortal love can last, no mortal love
is beautiful, unless the visions which the mind creates are not
more or less realized in the object of it, or when a person, either
man or woman, is not capable of seeing ideal perfections.  The
loves of savages are the loves of brutes.  The more exalted the
character and the soul, the greater is the capacity of love, and
the deeper its fervor.  It is not the object of love which creates
this fervor, but the mind which is capable of investing it with
glories.  There could not have been such intensity in Dante's love
had he not been gifted with the power of creating so lofty and
beautiful an ideal; and it was this he worshipped,--not the real
Beatrice, but the angelic beauty he thought he saw in her.  Why
could he not see the perfections he adored shining in other women,
who perhaps had a higher claim to them?  Ah, that is the mystery!
And you cannot solve it any easier than you can tell why a flower
blooms or a seed germinates.  And why was it that Dante, with his
great experience, could in later life see the qualities he adored
in no other woman than in the cold and unappreciative girl who
avoided him?  Suppose she had become his wife, might he not have
been disenchanted, and his veneration been succeeded by a bitter
disappointment?  Yet, while the delusion lasted, no other woman
could have filled her place; in no other woman could he have seen
such charms; no other love could have inspired his soul to make
such labors.

I would not be understood as declaring that married love must be
necessarily a disenchantment.  I would not thus libel humanity, and
insult plain reason and experience.  Many loves ARE happy, and burn
brighter and brighter to the end; but it is because there are many
who are worthy of them, both men and women,--because the ideal,
which the mind created, IS realized to a greater or less degree,
although the loftier the archetype, the less seldom is it found.
Nor is it necessary that perfection should be found.  A person may
have faults which alienate and disenchant, but with these there may
be virtues so radiant that the worship, though imperfect, remains,--
a respect, on the whole, so great that the soul is lifted to
admiration.  Who can love this perishable form, unless one sees in
it some traits which belong to superior and immortal natures?  And
hence the sentiment, when pure, creates a sort of companionship of
beings robed in celestial light and exorcises those degrading
passions which belong to earth.  But Dante saw no imperfections in
Beatrice: perhaps he had no opportunity to see them.  His own soul
was so filled with love, his mind soared to such exalted regions of
adoration, that when she passed away he saw her only in the
beatified state, in company with saints and angels; and he was
wrapped in ecstasies which knew no end,--the unbroken adoration of
beauty, grace, and truth, even of those eternal ideas on which
Plato based all that is certain, and all that is worth living for;
that sublime realism without which life is a failure, and this
world is "a mockery, a delusion, and a snare."

This is the history and exposition of that love for Beatrice with
which the whole spiritual life of Dante is identified, and without
which the "Divine Comedy" might not have been written.  I may have
given to it disproportionate attention; and it is true I might have
allegorized it, and for love of a woman I might have substituted
love for an art,--even the art of poetry, in which his soul
doubtless lived, even as Michael Angelo, his greatest fellow-
countryman, lived in the adoration of beauty, grace, and majesty.
Oh, happy and favored is the person who lives in the enjoyment of
an art!  It may be humble; it may be grand.  It may be music; it
may be painting, or sculpture, or architecture, or poetry, or
oratory, or landscape gardening, yea, even farming, or needle-work,
or house decoration,--anything which employs the higher faculties
of the mind, and brings order out of confusion, and takes one from
himself, from the drudgery of mechanical labors, even if it be no
higher than carving a mantelpiece or making a savory dish; for all
these things imply creation, alike the test and the reward of
genius itself, which almost every human being possesses, in some
form or other, to a greater or less degree,--one of the kindest
gifts of Deity to man.

The great artist, kindled by his visions of imperishable loveliness
in the person of his departed Beatrice, now resolves to dedicate to
her honor his great life-labor,--even his immortal poem, which
should be a transcript of his thoughts, a mirror of his life, a
record of his sorrows, a painting of his experiences, a description
of what he saw, a digest of his great meditations, a thesaurus of
the treasures of the Mediaeval age, an exposition of its great and
leading ideas in philosophy and in religion.  Every great man
wishes to leave behind some monument of his labors, to bless or
instruct mankind.  Any man without some form of this noble ambition
lives in vain, even if his monument be no more than a cultivated
farm rescued from wildness and sterility.

Now Dante's monument is "the marvellous, mystic, unfathomable
song," in which he sang his sorrows and his joys, revealed his
visions, and recorded the passions and sentiments of his age.  It
never can be popular, because it is so difficult to be understood,
and because its leading ideas are not in harmony with those which
are now received.  I doubt if anybody can delight in that poem,
unless he sympathizes with the ideas of the Middle Ages; or, at
least, unless he is familiar with them, and with the historical
characters who lived in those turbulent and gloomy times.  There is
more talk and pretension about that book than any one that I know
of.  Like the "Faerie Queene" or the "Paradise Lost," it is a study
rather than a recreation; one of those productions which an
educated person ought to read in the course of his life, and which
if he can read in the original, and has read, is apt to boast of,--
like climbing a lofty mountain, enjoyable to some with youth and
vigor and enthusiasm and love of nature, but a very toilsome thing
to most people, especially if old and short-winded and gouty.

In the year 1309 the first part of the "Divine Comedy," the
Inferno, was finished by Dante, at the age of forty-four, in the
tenth year of his pilgrimage, under the roof of the Marquis of
Lunigiana; and it was intrusted to the care of Fra Ilario, a monk
living on the beautiful Ligurian shores.  As everybody knows, it is
a vivid, graphic picture of what was supposed to be the infernal
regions, where great sinners are punished with various torments
forever and ever.  It is interesting for the excellence of the
poetry, the brilliant analyses of characters, the allusion to
historical events, the bitter invectives, the intense sarcasms, and
the serious, earnest spirit which underlies the descriptions.  But
there is very little of gentleness or compassion, in view of the
protracted torments of the sufferers.  We stand aghast in view of
the miseries and monsters, furies and gorgons, snakes and fires,
demons, filth, lakes of pitch, pools of blood, plains of scorching
sands, circles, and chimeras dire,--a physical hell of utter and
unspeakable dreariness and despair, awfully and powerfully
described, but still repulsive.  In each of the dismal abodes, far
down in the bowels of the earth, which Dante is supposed to have
visited with Virgil as a guide, in which some infernal deity
presides, all sorts of physical tortures are accumulated, inflicted
on traitors, murderers, robbers,--men who have committed great
crimes, unpunished in their lifetime; such men as Cain, Judas,
Ugolino,--men consigned to an infamous immortality.  On the great
culprits of history, and of Italy especially, Dante virtually sits
in judgment; and he consigns them equally to various torments which
we shudder to think of.

And here let me say, as a general criticism, that in the Inferno
are brought out in tremendous language the opinions of the Middle
Ages in reference to retribution.  Dante does not rise above them,
with all his genius; he is not emancipated from them.  It is the
rarest thing in this world for any man, however profound his
intellect and bold his spirit, to be emancipated from the great and
leading ideas of his age.  Abraham was, and Moses, and the founder
of Buddhism, and Socrates, and Mohammed, and Luther; but they were
reformers, more or less divinely commissioned, with supernatural
aid in many instances to give them wisdom.  But Homer was not, nor
Euripides, nor the great scholastics of the Middle Ages, nor even
popes.  The venerated doctors and philosophers, prelates, scholars,
nobles, kings, to say nothing of the people, thought as Dante did
in reference to future punishment,--that it was physical, awful,
accumulative, infinite, endless; the wrath of avenging deity
displayed in pains and agonies inflicted on the body, like the
tortures of inquisitors, thus appealing to the fears of men, on
which chiefly the power of the clergy was based.  Nor in these
views of endless physical sufferings, as if the body itself were
eternal and indestructible, is there the refinement of Milton, who
placed misery in the upbraidings of conscience, in mental torture
rather than bodily, in the everlasting pride and rebellion of the
followers of Satan and his fallen angels.  It was these awful views
of protracted and eternal physical torments,--not the hell of the
Bible, but the hell of ingenious human invention,--which gives to
the Middle Ages a sorrowful and repulsive light, thus nursing
superstition and working on the fears of mankind, rather than on
the conscience and the sense of moral accountability.  But how
could Dante have represented the ideas of the Middle Ages, if he
had not painted his Inferno in the darkest colors that the
imagination could conceive, unless he had soared beyond what is
revealed into the unfathomable and mysterious and unrevealed
regions of the second death?

After various wanderings in France and Italy, and after an interval
of three years, Dante produced the second part of the poem,--the
Purgatorio,--in which he assumes another style, and sings another
song.  In this we are introduced to an illustrious company,--many
beloved friends, poets, musicians, philosophers, generals, even
prelates and popes, whose deeds and thoughts were on the whole
beneficent.  These illustrious men temporarily expiate the sins of
anger, of envy, avarice, gluttony, pride, ambition,--the great
defects which were blended with virtues, and which are to be purged
out of them by suffering.  Their torments are milder, and amid them
they discourse on the principles of moral wisdom.  They utter noble
sentiments; they discuss great themes; they show how vain is wealth
and power and fame; they preach sermons.  In these discourses,
Dante shows his familiarity with history and philosophy; he unfolds
that moral wisdom for which he is most distinguished.  His scorn is
now tempered with tenderness.  He shows a true humanity; he is more
forgiving, more generous, more sympathetic.  He is more lofty, if
he is not more intense.  He sees the end of expiations: the
sufferers will be restored to peace and joy.

But even in his purgatory, as in his hell, he paints the ideas of
his age.  He makes no new or extraordinary revelations.  He arrives
at no new philosophy.  He is the Christian poet, after the pattern
of his age.

It is plain that the Middle Ages must have accepted or invented
some relief from punishment, or every Christian country would have
been overwhelmed with the blackness of despair.  Men could not
live, if they felt they could not expiate their sins.  Who could
smile or joke or eat or sleep or have any pleasure, if he thought
seriously there would be no cessation or release from endless
pains?  Who could discharge his ordinary duties or perform his
daily occupations, if his father or his mother or his sister or his
brother or his wife or his son or his daughter might not be finally
forgiven for the frailties of an imperfect nature which he had
inherited?  The Catholic Church, in its benignity,--at what time I
do not know,--opened the future of hope amid the speculations of
despair.  She saved the Middle Ages from universal gloom.  If
speculation or logic or tradition or scripture pointed to a hell of
reprobation, there must be also a purgatory as the field of
expiation, for expiation there must be for sin, somewhere, somehow,
according to immutable laws, unless a mantle of universal
forgiveness were spread over sinners who in this life had given no
sufficient proofs of repentance and faith.  Expiation was the great
element of Mediaeval theology.  It may have been borrowed from
India, but it was engrafted on the Christian system.  Sometimes it
was made to take place in this life; when the sinner, having
pleased God, entered at once upon heavenly beatitudes.  Hence
fastings, scourgings, self-laceration, ascetic rigors in dress and
food, pilgrimages,--all to purchase forgiveness; which idea of
forgiveness was scattered to the winds by Luther, and replaced by
grace,--faith in Christ attested by a righteous life.  I allude to
this notion of purgatory, which early entered into the creeds of
theologians, and which was adopted by the Catholic Church, to show
how powerful it was when human consciousness sought a relief from
the pains of endless physical torments.

After Dante had written his Purgatorio, he retired to the
picturesque mountains which separate Tuscany from Modena and
Bologna; and in the hospitium of an ancient monastery, "on the
woody summit of a rock from which he might gaze on his ungrateful
country, he renewed his studies in philosophy and theology."
There, too, in that calm retreat, he commenced his Paradiso, the
subject of profound meditations on what was held in highest value
in the Middle Ages.  The themes are theological and metaphysical.
They are such as interested Thomas Aquinas and Bonaventura, Anselm
and Bernard.  They are such as do not interest this age,--even the
most gifted minds,--for our times are comparatively indifferent to
metaphysical subtleties and speculations.  Beatrice and Peter and
Benedict alike discourse on the recondite subjects of the Bible in
the style of Mediaeval doctors.  The themes are great,--the
incarnation, the immortality of the soul, the resurrection of the
body, salvation by faith, the triumph of Christ, the glory of
Paradise, the mysteries of the divine and human natures; and with
these disquisitions are reproofs of bad popes, and even of some of
the bad customs of the Church, like indulgences, and the
corruptions of the monastic system.  The Paradiso is a thesaurus of
Mediaeval theology,--obscure, but lofty, mixed up with all the
learning of the age, even of the lives of saints and heroes and
kings and prophets.  Saint Peter examines Dante upon faith, James
upon hope, and John upon charity.  Virgil here has ceased to be his
guide; but Beatrice, robed in celestial loveliness, conducts him
from circle to circle, and explains the sublimest doctrines and
resolves his mortal doubts,--the object still of his adoration, and
inferior only to the mother of our Lord, regina angelorum, mater
carissima, whom the Church even then devoutly worshipped, and to
whom the greatest sages prayed.

    "Thou virgin mother, daughter of thy Son,
     Humble and high beyond all other creatures,
     The limit fixed of the eternal counsel,--
     Thou art the one who such nobility
     To human nature gave, that its Creator
     Did not disdain to make himself its creature.
     Not only thy benignity gives succor
     To him who asketh it, but oftentimes
     Forerunneth of its own accord the asking.
     In thee compassion is; in thee is pity
     In thee magnificence; in thee unites
     Whate'er of goodness is in any creature."

In the glorious meditation of those grand subjects which had such a
charm for Benedict and Bernard, and which almost offset the
barbarism and misery of the Middle Ages,--to many still regarded as
"ages of faith,"--Dante seemingly forgets his wrongs; and in the
company of her whom he adores he seems to revel in the solemn
ecstasy of a soul transported to the realms of eternal light.  He
lives now with the angels and the mysteries,--

                             "Like to the fire
     That in a cloud imprisoned doth break out expansive.
       .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .
    "Thus, in that heavenly banqueting his soul
     Outgrew himself, and, in the transport lost,
     Holds no remembrance now of what she was."

The Paradise of Dante is not gloomy, although it be obscure and
indefinite.  It is the unexplored world of thought and knowledge,
the explanation of dogmas which his age accepted.  It is a
revelation of glories such as only a lofty soul could conceive, but
could not paint,--a supernal happiness given only to favored
mortals, to saints and martyrs who have triumphed over the
seductions of sense and the temptations of life,--a beatified state
of blended ecstasy and love.

"Had I a tongue in eloquence as rich as is the coloring in fancy's loom,
'Twere all too poor to utter the least part of that enchantment."

Such is this great poem; in all its parts and exposition of the
ideas of the age,--sometimes fierce and sometimes tender, profound
and infantine, lofty and degraded, like the Church itself, which
conserved these sentiments.  It is an intensely religious poem, and
yet more theological than Christian, and full of classical
allusions to pagan heroes and sages,--a most remarkable production
considering the age, and, when we remember that it is without a
prototype in any language, a glorious monument of reviving
literature, both original and powerful.

Its appearance was of course an epoch, calling out the admiration
of Italians, and of all who could understand it,--of all who
appreciated its moral wisdom in every other country of Europe.  And
its fame has been steadily increasing, although I fear much of the
popular enthusiasm is exaggerated and unfelt.  One who can read
Italian well may see its "fiery emphasis and depth," its condensed
thought and language, its supernal scorn and supernal love, its
bitterness and its forgiveness; but few modern readers accept its
theology or its philosophy, or care at all for the men whose crimes
he punishes, and whose virtues he rewards.

But there is great interest in the man, as well as in the poem
which he made the mirror of his life, and the register of his
sorrows and of those speculations in which he sought to banish the
remembrance of his misfortunes.  His life, like his poem, is an
epic.  We sympathize with his resentments, "which exile and poverty
made perpetually fresh."  "The sincerity of his early passion for
Beatrice," says Hallam, "pierces through the veil of allegory which
surrounds her, while the memory of his injuries pursues him into
the immensity of eternal light; and even in the company of saints
and angels his unforgiving spirit darkens at the name of Florence. . . .
He combines the profoundest feelings of religion with those
patriotic recollections which were suggested by the reappearance of
the illustrious dead."

Next to Michael Angelo he was the best of all famous Italians,
stained by no marked defects but bitterness, pride, and scorn;
while his piety, his patriotism, and elevation of soul stand out in
marked contrast with the selfishness and venality and hypocrisy and
cruelty of the leading men in the history of his times.  "He wrote
with his heart's blood;" he wrote in poverty, exile, grief, and
neglect; he wrote like an inspired prophet of old.  He seems to
have been specially raised up to exalt virtue, and vindicate the
ways of God to man, and prepare the way for a new civilization.  He
breathes angry defiance to all tyrants; he consigns even popes to
the torments he created.  He ridicules fools; he exposes knaves.
He detests oppression; he is a prophet of liberty.  He sees into
all shams and all hypocrisies, and denounces lies.  He is temperate
in eating and drinking; he has no vices.  He believes in
friendship, in love, in truth.  He labors for the good of his
countrymen.  He is affectionate to those who comprehend him.  He
accepts hospitalities, but will not stoop to meanness or injustice.
He will not return to his native city, which he loves so well, even
when permitted, if obliged to submit to humiliating ceremonies.  He
even refuses a laurel crown from any city but from the one in which
he was born.  No honors could tempt him to be untrue unto himself;
no tasks are too humble to perform, if he can make himself useful.
At Ravenna he gives lectures to the people in their own language,
regarding the restoration of the Latin impossible, and wishing to
bring into estimation the richness of the vernacular tongue.  And
when his work is done he dies, before he becomes old (1321), having
fulfilled his vow.  His last retreat was at Ravenna, and his last
days were soothed with gentle attentions from Guido da Polenta,
that kind duke who revived his fainting hopes.  It was in his
service, as ambassador to Venice, that Dante sickened and died.  A
funeral sermon was pronounced upon him by his friend the duke, and
beautiful monuments were erected to his memory.  Too late the
Florentines begged for his remains, and did justice to the man and
the poet; as well they might, since his is the proudest name
connected with their annals.  He is indeed one of the great
benefactors of the world itself, for the richness of his immortal

Could the proscribed and exiled poet, as he wandered, isolated and
alone, over the vine-clad hills of Italy, and as he stopped here
and there at some friendly monastery, wearied and hungry, have cast
his prophetic eye down the vistas of the ages; could he have seen
what honors would be bestowed upon his name, and how his poem,
written in sorrow, would be scattered in joy among all nations,
giving a new direction to human thought, shining as a fixed star in
the realms of genius, and kindling into shining brightness what is
only a reflection of its rays; yea, how it would be committed to
memory in the rising universities, and be commented on by the most
learned expositors in all the schools of Europe, lauded to the
skies by his countrymen, received by the whole world as a unique,
original, unapproachable production, suggesting grand thoughts to
Milton, reappearing even in the creations of Michael Angelo,
coloring art itself whenever art seeks the sublime and beautiful,
inspiring all subsequent literature, dignifying the life of
letters, and gilding philosophy as well as poetry with new
glories,--could he have seen all this, how his exultant soul would
have rejoiced, even as did Abraham, when, amid the ashes of the
funeral pyre he had prepared for Isaac, he saw the future glories
of his descendants; or as Bacon, when, amid calumnies, he foresaw
that his name and memory would be held in honor by posterity, and
that his method would be received by all future philosophers as one
of the priceless boons of genius to mankind!


Vita Nuova; Divina Commedia,--Translations by Carey and Longfellow;
Boccaccio's Life of Dante; Wright's St. Patrick's Purgatory; Dante
et la Philosophie Catholique du Treizieme Siecle, par Ozinan;
Labitte, La Divine Comedie avant Dante; Balbo's Life and Times of
Dante; Hallam's Middle Ages; Napier's Florentine History; Villani;
Leigh Hunt's Stories from the Italian Poets; Botta's Life of Dante;
J. R. Lowell's article on Dante in American Cyclopaedia; Milman's
Latin Christianity; Carlyle's Heroes and Hero-worship; Macaulay's
Essays; The Divina Commedia from the German of Schelling;
Voltaire's Dictionnaire Philosophique; La Divine Comedie, by
Lamennais; Dante, by Labitte.


A.D. 1340-1400.


The age which produced Chaucer was a transition period from the
Middle Ages to modern times, midway between Dante and Michael
Angelo.  Chaucer was the contemporary of Wyclif, with whom the
Middle Ages may appropriately be said to close, or modern history
to begin.

The fourteenth century is interesting for the awakening, especially
in Italy, of literature and art; for the wars between the French
and English, and the English and the Scots; for the rivalry between
the Italian republics; for the efforts of Rienzi to establish
popular freedom at Rome; for the insurrection of the Flemish
weavers, under the Van Arteveldes, against their feudal oppressors;
for the terrible "Jacquerie" in Paris; for the insurrection of Wat
Tyler in England; for the Swiss confederation; for a schism in the
Church when the popes retired to Avignon; for the aggrandizement of
the Visconti at Milan and the Medici at Florence; for incipient
religious reforms under Wyclif in England and John Huss in Bohemia;
for the foundation of new colleges at Oxford and Cambridge; for the
establishment of guilds in London; for the exploration of distant
countries; for the dreadful pestilence which swept over Europe,
known in England as the Black Death; for the development of modern
languages by the poets; and for the rise of the English House of
Commons as a great constitutional power.

In most of these movements we see especially a simultaneous rising
among the people, in the more civilized countries of Europe, to
obtain charters of freedom and municipal and political privileges,
extorted from monarchs in their necessities.  The fourteenth
century was marked by protests and warfare equally against feudal
institutions and royal tyranny.  The way was prepared by the wars
of kings, which crippled their resources, as the Crusades had done
a century before.  The supreme miseries of the people led them to
political revolts and insurrections,--blind but fierce movements,
not inspired by ideas of liberty, but by a sense of oppression and
degradation.  Accompanying these popular insurrections were
religions protests against the corrupted institutions of the

In the midst of these popular agitations, aggressive and needless
wars, public miseries and calamities, baronial aggrandizement,
religious inquiries, parliamentary encroachment, and reviving taste
for literature and art, Chaucer arose.

His remarkable career extended over the last half of the fourteenth
century, when public events were of considerable historical
importance.  It was then that parliamentary history became
interesting.  Until then the barons, clergy, knights of the shire,
and burgesses of the town, summoned to assist the royal councils,
deliberated in separate chambers or halls; but in the reign of
Edward III. the representatives of the knights of the shires and
the burgesses united their interests and formed a body strong
enough to check royal encroachments, and became known henceforth as
the House of Commons.  In thirty years this body had wrested from
the Crown the power of arbitrary taxation, had forced upon it new
ministers, and had established the principle that the redress of
grievances preceded grants of supply.  Edward III. was compelled to
grant twenty parliamentary confirmations of Magna Charta.  At the
close of his reign, it was conceded that taxes could be raised only
by consent of the Commons; and they had sufficient power, also, to
prevent the collection of the tax which the Pope had levied on the
country since the time of John, called Peter's Pence.  The latter
part of the fourteenth century must not be regarded as an era of
the triumph of popular rights, but as the period when these rights
began to be asserted.  Long and dreary was the march of the people
to complete political enfranchisement from the rebellion under Wat
Tyler to the passage of the Reform Bill in our times.  But the
Commons made a memorable stand against Edward III. when he was the
most powerful sovereign of western Europe, one which would have
been impossible had not this able and ambitious sovereign been
embroiled in desperate war both with the Scotch and French.

With the assertion of political rights we notice the beginning of
commercial enterprise and manufacturing industry.  A colony of
Flemish weavers was established in England by the enlightened king,
although wool continued to be exported.  It was not until the time
of Elizabeth that the raw material was consumed at home.

Still, the condition of the common people was dreary enough at this
time, when compared with what it is in our age.  They perhaps were
better fed on the necessities of life than they are now.  All meats
were comparatively cheaper; but they had no luxuries, not even
wheaten bread.  Their houses were small and dingy, and a single
chamber sufficed for a whole family, both male and female.  Neither
glass windows nor chimneys were then in use, nor knives nor forks,
nor tea nor coffee; not even potatoes, still less tropical fruits.
The people had neither bed-clothes, nor carpets, nor glass nor
crockery ware, nor cotton dresses, nor books, nor schools.  They
were robbed by feudal masters, and cheated and imposed upon by
friars and pedlers; but a grim cheerfulness shone above their
discomforts and miseries, and crime was uncommon and severely
punished.  They amused themselves with rough sports, and cherished
religious sentiments.  They were brave and patriotic.

It was to describe the habits and customs of these people, as well
as those of the classes above them, to give dignity to consecrated
sentiments and to shape the English language, that Chaucer was
raised up.

He was born, it is generally supposed, in the year 1340; but
nothing is definitely known of him till 1357, when Edward III. had
been reigning about thirty years.  It is surmised that his father
was a respectable citizen of London; that he was educated at
Cambridge and Oxford; that he went to Paris to complete his
education in the most famous university in the world; that he then
extensively travelled in France, Holland, and Flanders, after which
he became a student of law in the Inner Temple.  Even then he was
known as a poet, and his learning and accomplishments attracted the
attention of Edward III., who was a patron of genius, and who gave
him a house in Woodstock, near the royal palace.  At this time
Chaucer was a handsome, witty, modest, dignified man of letters, in
easy circumstances, moving in the higher ranks of society, and
already known for his "Troilus and Cresseide," which was then
doubtless the best poem in the language.

It was then that the intimacy began between him and John of Gaunt,
a youth of eighteen, then Earl of Richmond, fourth son of Edward
III., afterwards known as the great Duke of Lancaster,--the most
powerful nobleman that ever lived in England, also the richest,
possessing large estates in eighteen counties, as well as six
earldoms.  This friendship between the poet and the first prince of
the blood, after the Prince of Wales, seems to have arisen from the
admiration of John of Gaunt for the genius and accomplishments of
Chaucer, who was about ten years the elder.  It was not until the
prince became the Duke of Lancaster that he was the friend and
protector of Wyclif,--and from different reasons, seeing that the
Oxford scholar and theologian could be of use to him in his warfare
against the clergy, who were hostile to his ambitious designs.
Chaucer he loved as a bright and witty companion; Wyclif he honored
as the most learned churchman of the age.

The next authentic event in Chaucer's life occurred in 1359, when
he accompanied the king to France in that fruitless expedition
which was soon followed by the peace of Bretigny.  In this
unfortunate campaign Chaucer was taken prisoner, but was ransomed
by his sovereign for 16 pounds,--about equal to 300 pounds in these
times.  He had probably before this been installed at court as a
gentleman of the bedchamber, on a stipend which would now be equal
to 250 pounds a year.  He seems to have been a favorite with the
court, after he had written his first great poem.  It is singular
that in a rude and ignorant age poets should have received much
greater honor than in our enlightened times.  Gower was patronized
by the Duke of Gloucester, as Chaucer was by the Duke of Lancaster,
and Petrarch and Boccaccio were in Italy by princes and nobles.
Even learning was held in more reverence in the fourteenth century
than it is in the nineteenth.  The scholastic doctor was one of the
great dignitaries of the age, as well as of the schools, and ranked
with bishops and abbots.  Wyclif at one time was the most
influential man in the English Church, sitting in Parliament, and
sent by the king on important diplomatic missions.  So Chaucer,
with less claim, received valuable offices and land-grants, which
made him a wealthy man; and he was also sent on important missions
in the company of nobles.  He lived at the court.  His son Thomas
married one of the richest heiresses in the kingdom, and became
speaker of the House of Commons; while his daughter Alice married
the Duke of Suffolk, whose grandson was declared by Richard III. to
be his heir, and came near becoming King of England.  Chaucer's
wife's sister married the Duke of Lancaster himself; so he was
allied with the royal family, if not by blood, at least by
ambitious marriage connections.

I know of no poet in the history of England who occupied so high a
social position as did Chaucer, or who received so many honors.
The poet of the people was the companion of kings and princes.  At
one time he had a reverse of fortune, when his friend and patron,
the Duke of Lancaster, was in disgrace and in voluntary banishment
during the minority of Richard II., against whom he had intrigued,
and who afterwards was dethroned by Henry IV., a son of the Duke of
Lancaster.  While the Duke of Gloucester was in power, Chaucer was
deprived of his offices and revenues for two or three years, and
was even imprisoned in the Tower; but when Lancaster returned from
the Continent, his offices and revenues were restored.  His latter
days were luxurious and honored.  At fifty-one he gave up his
public duties as a collector of customs, chiefly on wool, and
retired to Woodstock and spent the remainder of his fortunate life
in dignified leisure and literary labors.  In addition to his
revenues, the Duke of Lancaster, who was virtually the ruler of the
land during the reign of Richard II., gave him the castle of
Donnington, with its park and gardens; so that he became a man of
territorial influence.  At the age of fifty-eight he removed to
London, and took a house in the precincts of Westminster Abbey,
where the chapel of Henry VII. now stands.  He died the following
year, and was buried in the Abbey church,--that sepulchre of
princes and bishops and abbots.  His body was deposited in the
place now known as the Poets' Corner, and a fitting monument to his
genius was erected over his remains, as the first great poet that
had appeared in England, probably only surpassed in genius by
Shakspeare, until the language assumed its present form.  He was
regarded as a moral phenomenon, whom kings and princes delighted to
honor.  As Leonardo da Vinci died in the arms of Francis I., so
Chaucer rested in his grave near the bodies of those sovereigns and
princes with whom he lived in intimacy and friendship.  It was the
rarity of his gifts, his great attainments, elegant manners, and
refined tastes which made him the companion of the great, since at
that time only princes and nobles and ecclesiastical dignitaries
could appreciate his genius or enjoy his writings.

Although Chaucer had written several poems which were admired in
his day, and made translations from the French, among which was the
"Roman de la Rose," the most popular poem of the Middle Ages,--a
poem which represented the difficulties attendant on the passion of
love, under the emblem of a rose which had to be plucked amid
thorns,--yet his best works were written in the leisure of
declining years.

The occupation of the poet during the last twelve years of his life
was in writing his "Canterbury Tales," on which his fame chiefly
rests; written not for money, but because he was impelled to write
it, as all true poets write and all great artists paint,--ex
animo,--because they cannot help writing and painting, as the
solace and enjoyment of life.  For his day these tales were a great
work of art, evidently written with great care.  They are also
stamped with the inspiration of genius, although the stories
themselves were copied in the main from the French and Italian,
even as the French and Italians copied from Oriental writers, whose
works were translated into the languages of Europe so that the
romances of the Middle Ages were originally produced in India,
Persia, and Arabia.  Absolute creation is very rare.  Even
Shakspeare, the most original of poets, was indebted to French and
Italian writers for the plots of many of his best dramas.  Who can
tell the remote sources of human invention; who knows the then
popular songs which Homer probably incorporated in his epics; who
can trace the fountains of those streams which have fertilized the
literary world?--and hence, how shallow the criticism which would
detract from literary genius because it is indebted, more or less,
to the men who have lived ages ago.  It is the way of putting
things which constitutes the merit of men of genius.  What has
Voltaire or Hume or Froude told the world, essentially, that it did
not know before?  Read, for instance, half-a-dozen historians on
Joan of Arc: they all relate substantially the same facts.  Genius
and originality are seen in the reflections and deductions and
grand sentiments prompted by the narrative.  Let half-a-dozen
distinguished and learned theologians write sermons on Abraham or
Moses or David: they will all be different, yet the main facts will
be common to all.

The "Canterbury Tales" are great creations, from the humor, the
wit, the naturalness, the vividness of description, and the beauty
of the sentiments displayed in them, although sullied by occasional
vulgarities and impurities, which, however, in all their coarseness
do not corrupt the mind.  Byron complained of their coarseness, but
Byron's poetry is far more demoralizing.  The age was coarse, not
the mind of the author.  And after five hundred years, with all the
obscurity of language and obsolete modes of spelling, they still
give pleasure to the true lovers of poetry when they have once
mastered the language, which is not, after all, very difficult.  It
is true that most people prefer to read the great masters of
poetry, in later times; but the "Canterbury Tales" are interesting
and instructive to those who study the history of language and
literature.  They are links in the civilization of England.  They
paint the age more vividly and accurately than any known history.
The men and women of the fourteenth century, of all ranks, stand
out to us in fresh and living colors.  We see them in their dress,
their feasts, their dwellings, their language, their habits, and
their manners.  Amid all the changes in human thought and in social
institutions the characters appeal to our common humanity,
essentially the same under all human conditions.  The men and women
of the fourteenth century love and hate, eat and drink, laugh and
talk, as they do in the nineteenth.  They delight, as we do, in the
varieties of dress, of parade, and luxurious feasts.  Although the
form of these has changed, they are alive to the same sentiments
which move us.  They like fun and jokes and amusement as much as
we.  They abhor the same class of defects which disgust us,--
hypocrisies, shams, lies.  The inner circle of their friendship is
the same as ours to-day, based on sincerity and admiration.  There
is the same infinite variety in character, and yet the same
uniformity.  The human heart beats to the same sentiments that it
does under all civilizations and conditions of life.  No people can
live without friendship and sympathy and love; and these are
ultimate sentiments of the soul, which are as eternal as the ideas
of Plato.  Why do the Psalms of David.  written for an Oriental
people four thousand years ago, excite the same emotions in the
minds of the people of England or France or America that they did
among the Jews?  It is because they appeal to our common humanity,
which never changes,--the same to-day as it was in the beginning,
and will be to the end.  It is only form and fashion which change;
men remain the same.  The men and women of the Bible talked nearly
the same as we do, and seem to have had as great light on the
primal principles of wisdom and truth and virtue.  Who can improve
on the sagacity and worldly wisdom of the Proverbs of Solomon?
They have a perennial freshness, and appeal to universal
experience.  It is this fidelity to nature which is one of the
great charms of Shakspeare.  We quote his brief sayings as
expressive of what we feel and know of the certitudes of our moral
and intellectual life.  They will last forever, under every variety
of government, of social institutions, of races, and of languages.
And they will last because these every-day sentiments are put in
such pithy, compressed, unique, and novel form, like the Proverbs
of Solomon or the sayings of Epictetus.  All nations and ages alike
recognize the moral wisdom in the sayings of those immortal sages
whose writings have delighted and enlightened the world, because
they appeal to consciousness or experience.

Now it must be confessed that the Poetry of Chaucer does not abound
in the moral wisdom and spiritual insight and profound reflections
on the great mysteries of human life which stand out so
conspicuously in the writings of Dante, Shakspeare, Milton, Goethe,
and other first-class poets.  He does not describe the inner life,
but the outward habits and condition of the people of his times.
He is not serious enough, nor learned enough, to enter upon the
discussion of those high themes which agitated the schools and
universities, as Dante did one hundred years before.  He tells us
how monks and friars lived, not how they dreamed and speculated.
Nor are his sarcasms scorching and bitter, but rather humorous and
laughable.  He shows himself to be a genial and loving companion,
not an austere teacher of disagreeable truths.  He is not solemn
and intense, like Dante; he does not give wings to his fancy, like
Spenser; he has not the divine insight of Shakspeare; he is not
learned, like Milton; he is not sarcastic, like Pope; he does not
rouse the passions, like Byron; he is not meditative, like
Wordsworth,--but he paints nature with great accuracy and delicacy,
as also the men and women of his age, as they appeared in their
outward life.  He describes the passion of love with great
tenderness and simplicity.  In all his poems, love is his greatest
theme,--which he bases, not on physical charms, but the moral
beauty of the soul.  In his earlier life he does not seem to have
done full justice to women, whom he ridicules, but does not
despise; in whom he indeed sees the graces of chivalry, but not the
intellectual attraction of cultivated life.  But later in life,
when his experiences are broader and more profound, he makes amends
for his former mistakes.  In his "Legend of Good Women," which he
wrote at the command of Anne of Bohemia, wife of Richard II., he
eulogizes the sex and paints the most exalted sentiments of the
heart.  He not only had great vividness in the description of his
characters, but doubtless great dramatic talent, which his age did
not call out.  His descriptions of nature are very fresh and
beautiful, indicating a great love of nature,--flowers, trees,
birds, lawns, gardens, waterfalls, falcons, dogs, horses, with whom
he almost talked.  He had a great sense of the ridiculous; hence
his humor and fun and droll descriptions, which will ever interest
because they are so fresh and vivid.  And as a poet he continually
improved as he advanced in life.  His last works are his best,
showing the care and labor he bestowed, as well as his fidelity to
nature.  I am amazed, considering his time, that he was so great an
artist without having a knowledge of the principles of art as
taught by the great masters of composition.

But, as has been already said, his distinguishing excellence is
vivid and natural description of the life and habits, not the
opinions, of the people of the fourteenth century, described
without exaggeration or effort for effect.  He paints his age as
Moliere paints the times of Louis XIV., and Homer the heroic
periods of Grecian history.  This fidelity to nature and
inexhaustible humor and living freshness and perpetual variety are
the eternal charms of the "Canterbury Tales."  They bring before
the eye the varied professions and trades and habits and customs of
the fourteenth century.  We see how our ancestors dressed and
talked and ate; what pleasures delighted them, what animosities
moved them, what sentiments elevated them, and what follies made
them ridiculous.  The same naturalness and humor which marked "Don
Quixote" and the "Decameron" also are seen in the "Canterbury
Tales."  Chaucer freed himself from all the affectations and
extravagances and artificiality which characterized the poetry of
the Middle Ages.  With him began a new style in writing.  He and
Wyclif are the creators of English literature.  They did not create
a language, but they formed and polished it.

The various persons who figure in the "Canterbury Tales" are too
well known for me to enlarge upon.  Who can add anything to the
Prologue in which Chaucer himself describes the varied characters
and habits and appearance of the pilgrims to the shrine of Thomas
Becket at Canterbury?  There are thirty of these pilgrims including
the poet himself, embracing nearly all the professions and trades
then known, except the higher dignitaries of Church and State, who
are not supposed to mix freely in ordinary intercourse, and whom it
would be unwise to paint in their marked peculiarities.  The most
prominent person, as to social standing, is probably the knight.
He is not a nobleman, but he has fought in many battles, and has
travelled extensively.  His cassock is soiled, and his horse is
strong but not gay,--a very respectable man, courteous and gallant,
a soldier corresponding to a modern colonel or captain.  His son,
the esquire, is a youth of twenty, with curled locks and
embroidered dress, shining in various colors like the flowers of
May, gay as a bird, active as a deer, and gentle as a maiden.  The
yeoman who attends them both is clad in green like a forester, with
arrows and feathers, bearing the heavy sword and buckler of his
master.  The prioress is another respectable person, coy and
simple, with dainty fingers, small mouth, and clean attire,--a
refined sort of a woman for that age, ornamented with corals and
brooch, so stately as to be held in reverence, yet so sentimental
as to weep for a mouse caught in a trap: all characteristic of a
respectable, kind-hearted lady who has lived in seclusion.  A monk,
of course, in the fourteenth century was everywhere to be seen; and
a monk we have among the pilgrims, riding a "dainty" horse,
accompanied with greyhounds, loving fur trimmings on his
Benedictine habit and a fat swan to roast.  The friar, too, we
see,--a mendicant, yet merry and full of dalliances, beloved by the
common women, to whom he gave easy absolution; a jolly vagabond,
who knew all the taverns, and who carried on his portly person pins
and songs and relics to sell or to give away.  And there was the
merchant, with forked beard and Flemish beaver hat and neatly
clasped boots, bragging of his gains and selling French crowns, but
on the whole a worthy man.  The Oxford clerk or scholar is one of
the company, silent and sententious, as lean as the horse on which
he rode, with threadbare coat, and books of Aristotle and his
philosophy which he valued more than gold, of which indeed he could
boast but little,--a man anxious to learn, and still more to teach.
The sergeant of the law is another prominent figure, wary and wise,
discreet and dignified, bustling and busy, yet not so busy as he
seemed to be, wearing a coat of divers colors, and riding very
badly.  A franklin, or country gentleman, mixes with the company,
with a white beard and red complexion; one of Epicurus's own sons,
who held that ale and wheaten bread and fish and dainty flesh,
partridge fat, were pure felicity; evidently a man given to

    "His table dormant in his hall alway
     Stood ready covered all the longe day."

He was a sheriff, also, to enforce the law, and to be present at
all the county sessions.  The doctor, of course, could not be left
out of the company,--a man who knew the cause of every malady,
versed in magic as well as physic, and grounded also in astronomy;
who held that gold is the best of cordials, and knew how to keep
what he gained; not luxurious in his diet, but careful what he ate
and drank.  The village miller is not forgotten in this motley
crowd,--rough, brutal, drunken, big and brawn, with a red beard and
a wart on his nose, and a mouth as wide as a furnace, a reveller
and a jangler, accustomed to take toll thrice, and given to all the
sins that then abounded.  He is the most repulsive figure in the
crowd, both vulgar and wicked.  In contrast with him is the reve,
or steward, of a lordly house,--a slender, choleric man, feared by
servants and gamekeepers, yet in favor with his lord, since he
always had money to lend, although it belonged to his master; an
adroit agent and manager, who so complicated his accounts that no
auditor could unravel them or any person bring him in arrears.  He
rode a fine dappled-gray stallion, wore a long blue overcoat, and
carried a rusty sword,--evidently a proud and prosperous man.  With
a monk and friar, the picture would be incomplete without a
pardoner, or seller of indulgences, with yellow hair and smooth
face, loaded with a pillow-case of relics and pieces of the true
cross, of which there were probably cartloads in every country in
Europe, and of which there was an inexhaustible supply.  This sleek
and gentle pedler of indulgences rode side by side with a repulsive
officer of the Church, with a fiery red face, of whom children were
afraid, fond of garlic and onions and strong wine, and speaking
only Latin law-terms when he was drunk, but withal a good fellow,
abating his lewdness and drunkenness.  In contrast with the
pardoner and "sompnour" we see the poor parson, full of goodness,
charity, and love,--a true shepherd and no mercenary, who waited
upon no pomp and sought no worldly gains, happy only in the virtues
which he both taught and lived.  Some think that Chaucer had in
view the learned Wyclif when he described the most interesting
character of the whole group.  With him was a ploughman, his
brother, as good and pious as he, living in peace with all the
world, paying tithes cheerfully, laborious and conscientious, the
forerunner of the Puritan yeoman.

Of this motley company of pilgrims, I have already spoken of the
prioress,--a woman of high position.  In contrast with her is the
wife of Bath, who has travelled extensively, even to Jerusalem and
Rome; charitable, kind-hearted, jolly, and talkative, but bold and
masculine and coarse, with a red face and red stockings, and a hat
as big as a shield, and sharp spurs on her feet, indicating that
she sat on her ambler like a man.

There are other characters which I cannot stop to mention,--the
sailor, browned by the seas and sun, and full of stolen Bordeaux
wine; the haberdasher; the carpenter; the weaver; the dyer; the
tapestry-worker; the cook, to boil the chickens and the marrow-
bones, and bake the pies and tarts,--mostly people from the middle
and lower ranks of society, whose clothes are gaudy, manners rough,
and language coarse.  But all classes and trades and professions
seem to be represented, except nobles, bishops, and abbots,--
dignitaries whom, perhaps, Chaucer is reluctant to describe and

To beguile the time on the journey to Canterbury, all these various
pilgrims are required to tell some story peculiar to their separate
walks of life; and it is these stories which afford the best
description we have of the manners and customs of the fourteenth
century, as well as of its leading sentiments and ideas.

The knight was required to tell his story first, and it naturally
was one of love and adventure.  Although the scene of it was laid
in ancient Greece, it delineates the institution of chivalry and
the manners and sentiments it produced.  No writer of that age,
except perhaps Froissart, paints the connection of chivalry with
the graces of the soul and the moral beauty which poetry associates
with the female sex as Chaucer does.  The aristocratic woman of
chivalry, while delighting in martial sports, and hence masculine
and haughty, is also condescending, tender, and gracious.  The
heroic and dignified self-respect with which chivalry invested
woman exalted the passion of love.  Allied with reverence for woman
was loyalty to the prince.  The rough warrior again becomes a
gentleman, and has access to the best society.  Whatever may have
been the degrees of rank, the haughtiest nobleman associated with
the penniless knight, if only he were a gentleman and well born, on
terms of social equality, since chivalry, while it created
distinctions, also levelled those which wealth and power naturally
created among the higher class.  Yet chivalry did not exalt woman
outside of noble ranks.  The plebeian woman neither has the graces
of the high-born lady, nor does she excite that reverence for the
sex which marked her condition in the feudal castle.  "Tournaments
and courts of love were not framed for village churls, but for
high-born dames and mighty earls."

Chaucer in his description of women in ordinary life does not seem
to have a very high regard for them.  They are weak or coarse or
sensual, though attentive to their domestic duties, and generally
virtuous.  An exception is made of Virginia, in the doctor's tale,
who is represented as beautiful and modest, radiant in simplicity,
discreet and true.  But the wife of Bath is disgusting from her
coarse talk and coarser manners.  Her tale is to show what a woman
likes best, which, according to her, is to bear rule over her
husband and household.  The prioress is conventional and weak,
aping courtly manners.  The wife of the host of the Tabard inn is a
vixen and shrew, who calls her husband a milk-sop, and is so
formidable with both her tongue and her hands that he is glad to
make his escape from her whenever he can.  The pretty wife of the
carpenter, gentle and slender, with her white apron and open dress,
is anything but intellectual,--a mere sensual beauty.  Most of
these women are innocent of toothbrushes, and give and receive
thrashings, and sing songs without a fastidious taste, and beat
their servants and nag their husbands.  But they are good cooks,
and understand the arts of brewing and baking and roasting and
preserving and pickling, as well as of spinning and knitting and
embroidering.  They are supreme in their households; they keep the
keys and lock up the wine.  They are gossiping, and love to receive
their female visitors.  They do not do much shopping, for shops
were very primitive, with but few things to sell.  Their knowledge
is very limited, and confined to domestic matters.  They are on the
whole modest, but are the victims of friars and pedlers.  They have
more liberty than we should naturally suppose, but have not yet
learned to discriminate between duties and rights.  There are few
disputed questions between them and their husbands, but the duty of
obedience seems to have been recognized.  But if oppressed, they
always are free with their tongues; they give good advice, and do
not spare reproaches in language which in our times we should not
call particularly choice.  They are all fond of dress, and wear gay
colors, without much regard to artistic effect.

In regard to the sports and amusements of the people, we learn much
from Chaucer.  In one sense the England of his day was merry; that
is, the people were noisy and rough in their enjoyments.  There was
frequent ringing of the bells; there were the horn of the huntsman
and the excitements of the chase; there was boisterous mirth in the
village ale-house; there were frequent holidays, and dances around
May-poles covered with ribbons and flowers and flags; there were
wandering minstrels and jesters and jugglers, and cock-fightings
and foot-ball and games at archery; there were wrestling matches
and morris-dancing and bear-baiting.  But the exhilaration of the
people was abnormal, like the merriment of negroes on a Southern
plantation,--a sort of rebound from misery and burdens, which found
a vent in noise and practical jokes when the ordinary restraint was
removed.  The uproarious joy was a sort of defiance of the semi-
slavery to which workmen were doomed; for when they could be
impressed by the king's architect and paid whatever he chose to
give them, there could not have been much real contentment, which
is generally placid and calm.  There is one thing in which all
classes delighted in the fourteenth century, and that was a garden,
in which flowers bloomed,--things of beauty which were as highly
valued as the useful.  Moreover, there was a zest in rural sports
now seldom seen, especially among the upper classes who could
afford to hunt and fish.  There was no excitement more delightful
to gentlemen and ladies than that of hawking, and it infinitely
surpassed in interest any rural sport whatever in our day, under
any circumstances.  Hawks trained to do the work of fowling-pieces
were therefore greater pets than any dogs that now are the company
of sportsmen.  A lady without a falcon on her wrist, when mounted
on her richly caparisoned steed for a morning's sport, was very
rare indeed.

An instructive feature of the "Canterbury Tales" is the view which
Chaucer gives us of the food and houses and dresses of the people.
"In the Nonne's Prestes' Tale we see the cottage and manner of life
of a poor widow."  She has three daughters, three pigs, three oxen,
and a sheep.  Her house had only two rooms,--an eating-room, which
also served for a kitchen and sitting-room, and a bower or
bedchamber,--both without a chimney, with holes pierced to let in
the light.  The table was a board put upon trestles, to be removed
when the meal of black bread and milk, and perchance an egg with
bacon, was over.  The three slept without sheets or blankets on a
rude bed, covered only with their ordinary day-clothes.  Their
kitchen utensils were a brass pot or two for boiling, a few wooden
platters, an iron candlestick, and a knife or two; while the
furniture was composed of two or three chairs and stools, with a
frame in the wall, with shelves, for clothes and utensils.  The
manciple and the cook of the company seem to indicate that living
among the well-to-do classes was a very generous and a very serious
part of life, on which a high estimate was placed, since food in
any variety, though plentiful at times, was not always to be had,
and therefore precarious.  "Guests at table were paired, and ate,
every pair, out of the same plate or off the same trencher."  But
the bill of fare at a franklin's feast would be deemed anything but
poor, even in our times,--"bacon and pea-soup, oysters, fish,
stewed beef, chickens, capons, roast goose, pig, veal, lamb, kid,
pigeon, with custard, apples and pears, cheese and spiced cakes."
All these with abundance of wine and ale.

The "Canterbury Tales" remind us of the vast preponderance of the
country over town and city life.  Chaucer, like Shakspeare, revels
in the simple glories of nature, which he describes like a man
feeling it to be a joy to be near to "Mother Earth," with her rich
bounties.  The birds that usher in the day, the flowers which
beautify the lawn, the green hills and vales, with ever-changing
hues like the clouds and the skies, yet fruitful in wheat and
grass; the domestic animals, so mute and patient, the bracing air
of approaching winter, the genial breezes of the spring,--of all
these does the poet sing with charming simplicity and grace, yea,
in melodious numbers; for nothing is more marvellous than the music
and rhythm of his lines, although they are not enriched with
learned allusions or much moral wisdom, and do not march in the
stately and majestic measure of Shakspeare or of Milton.

But the most interesting and instructive of the "Canterbury Tales"
are those which relate to the religious life, the morals, the
superstitions, and ecclesiastical abuses of the times.  In these we
see the need of the reformation of which Wyclif was the morning
light.  In these we see the hypocrisies and sensualities of both
monks and friars, relieved somewhat by the virtues of the simple
parish priest or poor parson, in contrast with the wealth and
luxury of the regular clergy, as monks were called, in their
princely monasteries, where the lordly abbot vied with both baron
and bishop in the magnificence of his ordinary life.  We see before
us the Mediaeval clergy in all their privileges, and yet in all
their ignorance and superstition, shielded from the punishment of
crime and the operation of all ordinary laws (a sturdy defiance of
the temporal powers), the agents and ministers of a foreign power,
armed with the terrors of hell and the grave.  Besides the prioress
and the nuns' priest, we see in living light the habits and
pretensions of the lazy monk, the venal friar and pardoner, and the
noisy summoner for ecclesiastical offences: hunters and gluttons
are they, with greyhounds and furs,, greasy and fat, and full of
dalliances; at home in taverns, unprincipled but agreeable
vagabonds, who cheat and rob the people, and make a mockery of what
is most sacred on the earth.  These privileged mendicants, with
their relics and indulgences, their arts and their lies, and the
scandals they create, are treated by Chaucer with blended humor and
severity, showing a mind as enlightened as that of the great
scholar at Oxford, who heads the movement against Rome and the
abuses at which she connived if she did not encourage.  And there
is something intensely English in his disgust and scorn,--brave for
his day, yet shielded by the great duke who was at once his
protector and friend, as he was of Wyclif himself,--in his severer
denunciation, and advocacy of doctrines which neither Chaucer nor
Duke of Lancaster understood, and which, if they had, they would
not have sympathized with nor encouraged.  In these attacks on
ecclesiastics and ecclesiastical abuses, Chaucer should be studied
with Wyclif and the early reformers, although he would not have
gone so far as they, and led, unlike them, a worldly life.  Thus by
these poems he has rendered a service to his country, outside his
literary legacy, which has always been held in value.  The father
of English poetry belonged to the school of progress and of
inquiry, like his great contemporaries on the Continent.  But while
he paints the manners, customs, and characters of the fourteenth
century, he does not throw light on the great ideas which agitated
or enslaved the age.  He is too real and practical for that.  He
describes the outward, not the inner life.  He was not serious
enough--I doubt if he was learned enough--to enter into the
disquisitions of schoolmen, or the mazes of the scholastic
philosophy, or the meditations of almost inspired sages.  It is not
the joys of heaven or the terrors of hell on which he discourses,
but of men and women as they lived around him, in their daily
habits and occupations.  We must go to Wyclif if we would know the
theological or philosophical doctrines which interested the
learned.  Chaucer only tells how monks and friars lived, not how
they speculated or preached.  We see enough, however, to feel that
he was emancipated from the ideas of the Middle Ages, and had cast
off their gloom, their superstition, and their despair.  The only
things he liked of those dreary times were their courts of love and
their chivalric glories.

I do not propose to analyze the poetry of Chaucer, or enter upon a
critical inquiry as to his relative merits in comparison with the
other great poets.  It is sufficient for me to know that critics
place him very high as an original poet, although it is admitted
that he drew much of his material from French and Italian authors.
He was, for his day, a great linguist.  He had travelled
extensively, and could speak Latin, French, and Italian with
fluency.  He knew Petrarch and other eminent Italians.  One is
amazed that in such an age he could have written so well, for he
had no great models to help him in his own language.  If
occasionally indecent, he is not corrupting.  He never deliberately
disseminates moral poison; and when he speaks of love, he treats
almost solely of the simple and genuine emotions of the heart.

The best criticism that I have read of Chaucer's poetry is that of
Adolphus William Ward; although as a biography it is not so full or
so interesting as that of Godwin or even Morley.  In no life that I
have read are the mental characteristics of our poet so ably
drawn,--"his practical good sense," his love of books, his still
deeper love of nature, his naivete, the readiness of his
description, the brightness of his imagery, the easy flow of his
diction, the vividness with which he describes character; his
inventiveness, his readiness of illustration, his musical rhythm,
his gaiety and cheerfulness, his vivacity and joyousness, his
pathos and tenderness, his keen sense of the ridiculous and power
of satire, without being bitter, so that his wit and fun are
harmless, and perpetually pleasing.

He doubtless had great dramatic talent, but he did not live in a
dramatic age.  His especial excellence, never surpassed, was his
power of observing and drawing character, united with boundless
humor and cheerful fun.  And his descriptions of nature are as true
and unstinted as his descriptions of men and women, so that he is
as fresh as the month of May.  In his poetry is life; and hence his
immortal fame.  He is not so great as Spenser or Shakspeare or
Milton; but he has the same vitality as they, and is as wonderful
as they considering his age and opportunities,--a poet who
constantly improved as he advanced in life, and whose greatest work
was written in his old age.

Unfortunately, we know but little of Chaucer's habits and
experiences, his trials and disappointments, his friendships or his
hatreds.  What we do know of him raises our esteem.  Though
convivial, he was temperate; though genial, he was a silent
observer, quiet in his manners, modest in his intercourse with the
world, walking with downcast eye, but letting nothing escape his
notice.  He believed in friendship, and kept his friends to the
end, and was stained neither by envy nor by pride,--as frank as he
was affectionate, as gentle as he was witty.  Living with princes
and nobles, he never descended to gross adulation, and never wrote
a line of approval of the usurpation of Henry IV., although his
bread depended on Henry's favor, and he was also the son of the
king's earliest and best friend.  He was not a religious man, nor
was he an immoral man, judged by the standard of his age.  He
probably was worldly, as he lived in courts.  We do not see in him
the stern virtues of Dante or Milton; nothing of that moral
earnestness which marked the only other great man with whom he was
contemporary,--he who is called the "morning star" of the
Reformation.  But then we know nothing about him which calls out
severe reprobation.  He was patriotic, and had the confidence of
his sovereign, else he would not have been employed on important
missions.  And the sweetness of his character may be inferred from
his long and tender friendship with Gower, whom some in that age
considered the greater poet.  He was probably luxurious in his
habits, but intemperate use of wine he detested and avoided.  He
was portly in his person, but refinement marked his features.  He
was a gentleman, according to the severest code of chivalric
excellence; always a favorite with ladies, and equally admired by
the knights and barons of a brilliant court.  No poet was ever more
honored in his life or lamented in his death, as his beautiful
monument in Westminster Abbey would seem to attest.  That monument
is the earliest that was erected to the memory of a poet in that
Pantheon of English men of rank and genius; and it will probably be
as long preserved as any of those sculptured urns and animated
busts which seek to keep alive the memory of the illustrious dead,--
of those who, though dead, yet speak to all future generations.


Chaucer's own works, especially the Canterbury Tales; publications
of the Chaucer Society; Pauli's History of England; ordinary
Histories of England which relate to the reigns of Edward III. and
Richard II., especially Green's History of the English People; Life
of Chaucer, by William Godwin (4 volumes, London, 1804); Tyrwhitt's
edition of Canterbury Tales; Speglet's edition of Chaucer; Warton's
History of English Poetry; St. Palaye's History of Chivalry;
Chaucer's England, by Matthew Browne (London, 1869); Sir Harris
Nicholas's Life of Chaucer; The Riches of Chaucer, by Charles
Cowden Clarke; Morley's Life of Chaucer.  The latest work is a Life
and Criticism of Chaucer, by Adolphus William Ward.  There is also
a Guide to Chaucer, by H. G. Fleary.  See also Skeat's collected
edition of Chaucer's Works, brought out under the auspices of the
Early English Text Society.


A.D. 1446-1506.


About thirteen hundred years ago, when Attila the Hun, called "the
scourge of God," was overrunning the falling empire of the Romans,
some of the noblest citizens of the small cities of the Adriatic
fled, with their families and effects, to the inaccessible marshes
and islands at the extremity of that sea, and formed a permanent
settlement.  They became fishermen and small traders.  In process
of time they united their islands together by bridges, and laid the
foundation of a mercantile state.  Thither resorted the merchants
of Mediaeval Europe to make exchanges.  Thus Venice became rich and
powerful, and in the twelfth century it was one of the prosperous
states of Europe, ruled by an oligarchy of the leading merchants.

Contemporaneous with Dante, one of the most distinguished citizens
of this mercantile mart, Marco Polo, impelled by the curiosity
which reviving commerce excited and the restless adventure of a
crusading age, visited the court of the Great Khan of Tartary,
whose empire was the largest in the world.  After a residence of
seventeen years, during which he was loaded with honors, he
returned to his native country, not by the ordinary route, but by
coasting the eastern shores of Asia, through the Indian Ocean, up
the Persian Gulf, and thence through Bagdad and Constantinople,
bringing with him immense wealth in precious stones and other
Eastern commodities.  The report of his wonderful adventures
interested all Europe, for he was supposed to have found the
Tarshish of the Scriptures, that land of gold and spices which had
enriched the Tyrian merchants in the time of Solomon,--men supposed
by some to have sailed around the Cape of Good Hope in their three
years' voyages.  Among the wonderful things which Polo had seen was
a city on an island off the coast of China, which was represented
to contain six hundred thousand families, so rich that the palaces
of its nobles were covered with plates of gold, so inviting that
odoriferous plants and flowers diffused the most grateful perfumes,
so strong that even the Tartar conquerors of China could not subdue
it.  This island, known now as Japan, was called Cipango, and was
supposed to be inexhaustible in riches, especially when the reports
of Polo were confirmed by Sir John Mandeville, an English traveller
in the time of Edward III.,--and with even greater exaggerations,
since he represented the royal palace to be more than six miles in
circumference, occupied by three hundred thousand men.

In an awakening age of enterprise, when chivalry had not passed
away, nor the credulity of the Middle Ages, the reports of this
Cipango inflamed the imagination of Europe, and to reach it became
at once the desire and the problem of adventurers and merchants.
But how could this El Dorado be reached?  Not by sailing round
Africa; for to sail South, in popular estimation, was to encounter
torrid suns with ever increasing heat, and suffocating vapors, and
unknown dangers.  The scientific world had lost the knowledge of
what even the ancients knew.  Nobody surmised that there was a Cape
of Good Hope which could be doubled, and would open the way to the
Indian Ocean and its islands of spices and gold.  Nor could this
Cipango be reached by crossing the Eastern Continent, for the
journey was full of perils, dangers, and insurmountable obstacles.

Among those who meditated on this geographical mystery was a
young sea captain of Genoa, who had studied in the University of
Pavia, but spent his early life upon the waves,--intelligent,
enterprising, visionary, yet practical, with boundless ambition,
not to conquer kingdoms, but to discover new realms.  Born probably
in 1446, in the year 1470 he married the daughter of an Italian
navigator living in Lisbon; and, inheriting with her some valuable
Portuguese charts and maritime journals, he settled in Lisbon and
took up chart-making as a means of livelihood.  Being thus trained
in both the art and the science of navigation, his active mind
seized upon the most interesting theme of the day.  His studies and
experience convinced him that the Cipango of Marco Polo could be
reached by sailing directly west.  He knew that the earth was
round, and he inferred from the plants and carved wood and even
human bodies that had occasionally floated from the West, that
there must be unknown islands on the western coasts of the
Atlantic, and that this ocean, never yet crossed, was the common
boundary of both Europe and Asia; in short, that the Cipango could
be reached by sailing west.  And he believed the thing to be
practicable, for the magnetic needle had been discovered, or
brought from the East by Polo, which always pointed to the North
Star, so that mariners could sail in the darkest nights; and also
another instrument had been made, essentially the modern quadrant,
by which latitude could be measured.  He supposed that after
sailing west, about eight hundred leagues, by the aid of compass
and quadrant, and such charts as he had collected and collated, he
should find the land of gold and spices by which he would become
rich and famous.

This was not an absurd speculation to a man of the intellect and
knowledge of Columbus.  To his mind there were but few physical
difficulties if he only had the ships, and the men bold enough to
embark with him, and the patronage which was necessary for so novel
and daring an enterprise.  The difficulties to be surmounted were
not so much physical as moral.  It was the surmounting of moral
difficulties which gives to Columbus his true greatness as a man of
genius and resources.  These moral obstacles were so vast as to be
all but insurmountable, since he had to contend with all the
established ideas of his age,--the superstitions of sailors, the
prejudices of learned men, and general geographical ignorance.  He
himself had neither money, nor ships, nor powerful friends.  Nobody
believed in him; all ridiculed him; some insulted him.  Who would
furnish money to a man who was supposed to be half crazy,--
certainly visionary and wild; a rash adventurer who would not only
absorb money but imperil life?  Learned men would not listen to
him, and powerful people derided him, and princes were too absorbed
in wars and pleasure to give him a helping hand.  Aid could come
only from some great state or wealthy prince; but both states and
princes were deaf and dumb to him.  It was a most extraordinary
inspiration of genius in the fifteenth century which created, not
an opinion, but a conviction that Asia could be reached by sailing
west; and how were common minds to comprehend such a novel idea?
If a century later, with all the blaze of reviving art and science
and learning, the most learned people ridiculed the idea that the
earth revolved around the sun, even when it was proved by all the
certitudes of mathematical demonstration and unerring observations,
how could the prejudiced and narrow-minded priests of the time of
Columbus, who controlled the most important affairs of state, be
made to comprehend that an unknown ocean, full of terrors, could be
crossed by frail ships, and that even a successful voyage would
open marts of inexhaustible wealth?  All was clear enough to this
scientific and enterprising mariner; and the inward assurance that
he was right in his calculation gave to his character a blended
boldness, arrogance, and dignity which was offensive to men of
exalted station, and ill became a stranger and adventurer with a
thread-bare coat, and everything which indicated poverty, neglect,
and hardship, and without any visible means of living but by the
making and selling of charts.

Hence we cannot wonder at the seventeen years of poverty, neglect,
ridicule, disappointment, and deferred hopes, such as make the
heart sick, which elapsed after Columbus was persuaded of the truth
of his theory, before he could find anybody enlightened enough to
believe in him, or powerful enough to assist him.

Wrapped up in those glorious visions which come only to a man of
superlative genius, and which make him insensible to heat and cold
and scanty fare, even to reproach and scorn, this intrepid soul,
inspired by a great and original idea, wandered from city to city,
and country to country, and court to court, to present the certain
greatness and wealth of any state that would embark in his
enterprise.  But all were alike cynical, cold, unbelieving, and
even insulting.  He opposes overwhelming, universal, and
overpowering ideas.  To have surmounted these amid such protracted
opposition and discouragement constitutes his greatness; and
finally to prove his position by absolute experiment and hazardous
enterprise makes him one of the greatest of human benefactors,
whose fame will last through all the generations of men.  And as I
survey that lonely, abstracted, disappointed, and derided man,--
poor and unimportant, so harassed by debt that his creditors seized
even his maps and charts, obliged to fly from one country to
another to escape imprisonment, without even listeners and still
less friends, and yet with ever-increasing faith in his cause,
utterly unconquerable, alone in opposition to all the world,--I
think I see the most persistent man of enterprise that I have read
of in history.  Critics ambitious to say something new may rake out
slanders from the archives of enemies, and discover faults which
derogate from the character we have been taught to admire and
venerate; they may even point out spots, which we cannot disprove,
in that sun of glorious brightness, which shed its beneficent rays
over a century of darkness,--but this we know, that, whatever may
be the force of detraction, his fame has been steadily increasing,
even on the admission of his slanderers, for three centuries, and
that he now shines as a fixed star in the constellation of the
great lights of modern times, not alone because he succeeded in
crossing the ocean, when once embarked on it, but for surmounting
the moral difficulties which lay in his way before he could embark
upon it, and for being finally instrumental in conferring the
greatest boon that our world has received from any mortal man,
since Noah entered into the ark.

I think it is Lamartine who has said that truly immortal
benefactors have seldom been able to accomplish their mission
without the encouragement of either saints or women.  This is
emphatically true in the case of Columbus.  The door to success was
at last opened to him by a friendly and sympathetic friar of a
Franciscan convent near the little port of Palos, in Andalusia.
The sun-burned and disappointed adventurer (for that is what he
was), wearied and hungry, and nearly discouraged, stopped at the
convent-door to get a morsel of bread for his famished son, who
attended him in his pilgrimage.  The prior of that obscure convent
was the first who comprehended the man of genius, not so much
because he was an enlightened scholar, but because his pious soul
was full of kindly sympathy, showing that the instincts of love are
kindred to the inspirations of genius.  It was the voice of Ali and
Cadijeh that strengthened Mohammed.  It was Catherine von Bora who
sustained Luther in his gigantic task.  The worthy friar, struck by
the noble bearing of a man so poor and wearied, became delighted
with the conversation of his guest, who opened to him both his
heart and his schemes.  He forwarded his plans by a letter to a
powerful ecclesiastic, who introduced him to the Spanish Court,
then one of the most powerful, and certainly the proudest and most
punctilious, in Europe.  Ferdinand of Aragon was polite, yet wary
and incredulous; but Isabella of Castile listened more kindly to
the stranger, whom the greatness of his mission inspired with
eloquence.  Like the saint of the convent, she and she alone of
her splendid court, divined that there was something to be
heeded in the words of Columbus, and gave her womanly and royal
encouragement, although too much engrossed with the conquest of
Grenada and the cares of her kingdom to pay that immediate
attention which Columbus entreated.

I may not dwell on the vexatious delays and the protracted
discouragements of Columbus after the Queen had given her ear to
his enthusiastic prophecies of the future glories of the kingdom.
To the court and to the universities and to the great ecclesiastics
he was still a visionary and a needy adventurer; and they quoted,
in refutation of his theory, those Scripture texts which were
hurled in greater wrath against Galileo when he announced his
brilliant discoveries.  There are, from some unfathomed reason,
always texts found in the sacred writings which seem to conflict
with both science and a profound theology; and the pedants, as well
as the hypocrites and usurpers, have always shielded themselves
behind these in their opposition to new opinions.  I will not be
hard upon them, for often they are good men, simply unable to throw
off the shackles of ages of ignorance and tyranny.  People should
not be subjected to lasting reproach because they cannot emancipate
themselves from prevailing ideas.  If those prejudiced courtiers
and scholastics who ridiculed Columbus could only have seen with
his clearer insight, they might have loaded him with favors.  But
they were blinded and selfish and envious.  Nor was it until
Columbus convinced his sovereigns that the risk was small for so
great a promised gain, that he was finally commissioned to
undertake his voyage.  The promised boon was the riches of Oriental
countries, boundless and magnificent,--countries not to be
discovered, but already known, only hard and perhaps impossible to
reach.  And Columbus himself was so firmly persuaded of the
existence of these riches, and of his ability to secure them, and
they were so exaggerated by his imagination, that his own demands
were extravagant and preposterous, as must have seemed to an
incredulous court,--that he, a stranger, an adventurer, almost a
beggar even, should in case of success be made viceroy and admiral
over the unexplored realm, and with a tenth of all the riches he
should collect or seize; and that these high offices--almost regal--
should also be continued not only through his own life, but
through the lives of his heirs from generation to generation, thus
raising him to a possible rank higher than that of any of the dukes
and grandees of Spain.

Ferdinand and Isabella, however, readily promised all that the
persistent and enthusiastic adventurer demanded, doubtless with the
feeling that there was not more than one chance in a hundred that
he would ever be heard from again, but that this one chance was
well worth all and more than they expended,--a possibility of
indefinite aggrandizement.  To the eyes of Ferdinand there was a
prospect--remote, indeed--of adding to the power of the Spanish
monarchy; and it is probable that the pious Isabella contemplated
also the conversion of the heathen to Christianity.  It is possible
that some motives may have also influenced Columbus kindred to
this,--a renewed crusade against Saracen infidels, which he might
undertake from the wealth he was so confident of securing.  But the
probabilities are that Columbus was urged on to his career by
ambitious and worldly motives also, or else he would not have been
so greedy to secure honors and wealth, nor would have been so
jealous of his dignity when he had attained power.  To me Columbus
was no more a saint than Sir Francis Drake was when he so
unscrupulously robbed every ship he could lay his hands upon,
although both of them observed the outward forms of religious
worship peculiar to their respective creeds and education.  There
were no unbelievers in that age.  Both Catholics and Protestants,
like the ancient Pharisees, were scrupulous in what were supposed
to be religious duties,--though these too often were divorced from
morality.  It is Columbus only as an intrepid, enthusiastic,
enlightened navigator, in pursuit of a new world of boundless
wealth, that I can see him; and it was for his ultimate success in
discovering this world, amid so many difficulties, that he is to be
regarded as a great benefactor, of the glory of which no ingenuity
or malice can rob him.

At last he sets sail, August 3, 1492, and, singularly enough, from
Palos, within sight of the little convent where he had received his
first encouragement.  He embarked in three small vessels, the
largest of which was less thou one hundred tons, and two without
decks, but having high poops and sterns inclosed.  What an
insignificant flotilla for such a voyage!  But it would seem that
the Admiral, with great sagacity, deemed small vessels best adapted
to his purpose, in order to enter safely shallow harbors and sail
near the coast.

He sails in the most propitious season of the year, and is aided by
steady trade-winds which waft his ships gently through the unknown
ocean.  He meets with no obstacles of any account.  The skies are
serene, the sea is as smooth as the waters of an inland lake; and
he is comforted, as he advances to the west, by the appearance of
strange birds and weeds and plants that indicate nearness to the
land.  He has only two objects of solicitude,--the variations of
the magnetic needle, and the superstitious fears of his men; the
last he succeeds in allaying by inventing plausible theories, and
by concealing the real distance he has traversed.  He encourages
them by inflaming their cupidity.  He is nearly baffled by their
mutinous spirit.  He is in danger, not from coral reefs and
whirlpools and sunken rocks and tempests, as at first was feared,
but from his men themselves, who clamor to return.  It is his faith
and moral courage and fertility of resources which we most admire.
Days pass in alternate hope and disappointment, amid angry clamors,
in great anxiety, for no land appears after he has sailed far
beyond the points where he expected to find it.  The world is
larger than even he has supposed.  He promises great rewards to the
one who shall first see the unknown shores.  It is said that he
himself was the first to discover land by observing a flickering
light, which is exceedingly improbable, as he was several leagues
from shore; but certain it is, that the very night the land was
seen from the Admiral's vessel, it was also discovered by one of
the seamen on board another ship.  The problem of the age was at
last solved.  A new continent was given to Ferdinand and Isabella.

On the 12th of October Columbus lands--not, however, on the
continent, as he supposed, but on an island--in great pomp, as
admiral of the seas and viceroy of the king, in a purple doublet,
and with a drawn sword in one hand and the standard of Spain in the
other, followed by officers in appropriate costume, and a friar
bearing the emblem of our redemption, which is solemnly planted on
the shore, and the land called San Salvador.  This little island,
one of the Bahamas, is not, however, gilded with the anticipated
splendors of Oriental countries.  He finds neither gold, nor
jewels, nor silks, nor spices, nor any signs of civilization; only
naked men and women, without any indication of wealth or culture or
power.  But he finds a soft and genial climate, and a soil of
unparalleled fertility, and trees and shrubs as green as Andalusia
in spring and birds with every variety of plumage, and insects
glistening with every color of the rainbow; while the natives are
gentle and unsuspecting and full of worship.  Columbus is
disappointed, but not discouraged.  He sets sail to find the real
Cipango of which he is in search.  He cruises among the Bahama
islands, discovers Cuba and Hispaniola (now called Hayti), explores
their coasts, holds peaceful intercourse with the natives, and is
transported with enthusiasm in view of the beauty of the country
and its great capacities; but he sees no gold, only a few ornaments
to show that there is gold somewhere near, if it only could be
found.  Nor has he reached the Cipango of his dreams, but new
countries, of which there was no record or suspicion of existence,
yet of vast extent, and fertile beyond knowledge.  He is puzzled,
but filled with intoxicating joy.  He has performed a great feat.
He has doubtless added indefinitely to the dominion of Spain.

Columbus leaves a small colony on the island of Hispaniola, and
with the trophies of his discoveries returns to Spain, without
serious obstacles, except a short detention in Portugal, whither he
was driven by a storm.  His stories fill the whole civilized world
with wonder.  He is welcomed with the most cordial and enthusiastic
reception; the people gaze at him with admiration.  His sovereigns
rise at his approach, and seat him beside themselves on their
gilded and canopied throne; he has made them a present worthy of a
god.  What honors could be too great for such a man!  Even envy
pales before the universal exhilaration.  He enters into the most
august circles as an equal; his dignities and honors are confirmed;
he is loaded with presents and favors; he is the most marked
personage in Europe; he is almost stifled with the incense of royal
and popular idolatry.  Never was a subject more honored and
caressed.  The imagination of a chivalrous and lively people is
inflamed with the wildest expectations, for although he returned
with but little of the expected wealth, he has pointed out a land
rich in unfathomed mines.

A second and larger expedition is soon projected.  Everybody wishes
to join it.  All press to join the fortunate admiral who has added
a continent to civilization.  The proudest nobles, with the armor
and horses of chivalry, embark with artisans and miners for another
voyage, now without solicitude or fear, but with unbounded hopes of
wealth,--especially hardy adventurers and broken-down families of
rank anxious to retrieve their fortunes.  The pendulum of a
nation's thought swings from the extreme of doubt and cynicism to
the opposite extreme of faith and exhilaration.  Spain was ripe for
the harvest.  Eight hundred years' desperate contest with the Moors
had made the nation bold, heroic, adventurous.  There were no such
warriors in all Europe.  Nowhere were there such chivalric virtues.
No people were then animated with such martial enthusiasm, such
unfettered imagination, such heroic daring, as were the subjects of
Ferdinand and Isabella.  They were a people to conquer a world; not
merely heroic and enterprising, but fresh with religious
enthusiasm.  They had expelled the infidels from Spain; they would
fight for the honor of the Cross in any clime or land.

The hopes held out by Columbus were extravagant; and these
extravagant expectations were the occasion of his fall and
subsequent sorrows and humiliation.  Doubtless he was sincere, but
he was infatuated.  He could only see the gold of Cipango.  He was
as confident of enriching his followers as he had been of
discovering new realms.  He was as enthusiastic as Sir Walter
Raleigh a century later, and made promises as rash as he, and
created the same exalted hopes, to be followed by bitter
disappointments; and consequently he incurred the same hostilities
and met the same downfall.

This second expedition was undertaken in seventeen vessels,
carrying fifteen hundred people, all full of animation and hope,
and some of them with intentions to settle in the newly discovered
country until they had made their fortunes.  They arrived at
Hispaniola in March, of the year 1493, only to discover that the
men left behind on the first voyage to secure their settlement were
all despoiled or murdered; that the natives had proved treacherous,
or that the Spaniards had abused their confidence and forfeited
their friendship.  They were exposed to new hostilities: they found
the climate unhealthy; their numbers rapidly dwindled away from
disease or poor food; starvation stared them in the face, in spite
of the fertility of the soil; dissensions and jealousies arose;
they were governed with great difficulty, for the haughty hidalgoes
were unused to menial labor, and labor of the most irksome kind was
necessary; law and order were relaxed.  The blame of disaster was
laid upon the Admiral, who was accused of deceiving them; evil
reports were sent to Spain, accusing him of incapacity, cruelty,
and oppression; gold was found only in small quantities; some of
the leading men mutinied; general discontent arose; the greater
part of the colonists were disabled from sickness and debility; no
gold of any amount was sent back to Spain, only five hundred Indian
slaves to be sold instead, which led to renewed hostilities with
the natives, and the necessity for their subjugation.  All of these
evils created bitter disappointment in Spain and discontent with
the measures and government of Columbus himself, so that a
commission of inquiry was sent to Hispaniola, headed by Aguado, who
assumed arrogant authority, and made it necessary for Columbus to
return to Spain without adding essentially to his discoveries.  He
sailed around Cuba and Jamaica and other islands, but as yet had
not seen the mainland or found mines of gold or silver.

He landed in Spain, in 1496, to find that his popularity had
declined and the old enthusiasm had grown cold.  With him landed a
feeble train of emaciated men, who had nothing to relate but
sickness, hardship, and disappointment.  The sovereigns, however,
received him kindly; but he was depressed and sad, and clothed
himself with the habit of a Franciscan friar, to denote his
humility and dejection.  He displayed a few golden collars and
bracelets as trophies, with some Indians; but these no longer
dazzled the crowd.

It was not until 1498 that Columbus was enabled to make his third
voyage, having experienced great delay from the general
disappointment.  Instead of seventeen vessels, he could collect but
six.  In this voyage he reached the mainland,--that part called
Paria, near the mouth of the Orinoco, in South America, but he
supposed it to be an island.  It was fruitful and populous, and the
air was sweetened with the perfumes of flowers.  Yet he did not
explore the coast to any extent, but made his way to Hispaniola,
where he had left the discontented colony himself broken in health,
a victim of gout, haggard from anxiety, and emaciated by pain.  His
splendid constitution was now undermined from his various hardships
and cares.

He found the colony in a worse state than when he left it under the
care of his brother Bartholomew.  The Indians had proved hostile;
the colonists were lazy and turbulent; mutiny had broken out;
factions prevailed, as well as general misery and discontent.  The
horrors of famine had succeeded wars with the natives.  There was a
general desire to leave the settlement.  Columbus tried to restore
order and confidence; but the difficulty of governing such a
disorderly set of adventurers was too great even for him.  He was
obliged to resort to severities that made him more and more
unpopular.  The complaints of his enemies reached Spain.  He was
most cruelly misrepresented and slandered; and in the general
disappointment, and the constant drain upon the mother country to
support the colony, his enemies gained the ear of his sovereigns,
and strong doubts arose in their minds about his capacity for
government.  So a royal commission was sent out,--an officer named
Bovadilla, with absolute power to examine into the state of the
colony, and supplant, if necessary, the authority of Columbus.  The
result was the arrest of Columbus and his brothers, who were sent
to Spain in chains.  What a change of fortune!  I will not detail
the accusations against him, just, or unjust.  It is mournful
enough to see the old man brought home in irons from the world he
had discovered and given to Spain.  The injustice and cruelty which
he received produced a reaction, and he was once more kindly
received at court, with the promise that his grievances should be
redressed and his property and dignities restored.

Columbus was allowed to make one more voyage of discovery, but
nothing came of it except renewed troubles, hardships, dangers, and
difficulties; wars with the natives, perils of the sea,
discontents, disappointments; and when at last he returned to
Spain, in 1504,--broken with age and infirmities, after twelve
years of harassing cares, labors, and dangers (a checkered career
of glory and suffering),--nothing remained but to prepare for his
final rest.  He had not made a fortune; he had not enriched his
patrons,--but he had discovered a continent.  His last days were
spent in disquieting and fruitless negotiations to perpetuate his
honors among his descendants.  He was ever jealous and tenacious of
his dignities.  Ferdinand was polite, but selfish and cold; nor can
this calculating prince ever be vindicated from the stain of gross
ingratitude.  Columbus died in the year 1506, at the age of sixty,
a disappointed man.  But honors were ultimately bestowed upon his
heirs, who became grandees and dukes, and intermarried with the
proudest families of Spain; and it is also said that Ferdinand
himself, after the death of the great navigator, caused a monument
to be erected to his memory with this inscription: "To Castile and
Leon Columbus gave a new world."  But no man of that century needed
less than Columbus a monument to perpetuate his immortal fame.

I think that historians belittle Columbus when they would excite
our pity for his misfortunes.  They insult the dignity of all
struggling souls, and make utilitarians of all benefactors, and
give false views of success.  Few benefactors, on the whole, were
ever more richly rewarded than he.  He died Admiral of the Seas, a
grandee of Spain,--having bishops for his eulogists and princes for
his mourners,--the founder of an illustrious house, whose name and
memory gave glory even to the Spanish throne.  And even if he had
not been rewarded with material gains, it was enough to feel that
he had conferred a benefit on the world which could scarcely be
appreciated in his lifetime,--a benefit so transcendent that its
results could be seen only by future generations.  Who could
adequately pay him for his services; who could estimate the value
of his gift?  What though they load him to-day with honors, or cast
him tomorrow into chains?--that is the fate of all immortal
benefactors since our world began.  His great soul should have
soared beyond vulgar rewards.  In the loftiness of his self-
consciousness he should have accepted, without a murmur, whatever
fortune awaited him.  Had he merely given to civilization a new
style of buttons, or an improved envelope, or a punch for a railway
conductor, or a spring for a carriage, or a mining tool, or a
screw, or revolver, or reaper, the inventors of which have "seen
millions in them," and been cheated out of his gains, he might have
whimpered over his wrongs.  How few benefactors have received even
as much as he; for he won dignities, admiration, and undying fame.
We scarcely know the names of many who have made grand bequests.
Who invented the mariner's compass?  Who gave the lyre to primeval
ages, or the blacksmith's forge, or the letters of the alphabet, or
the arch in architecture, or glass for windows?  Who solved the
first problem of geometry?  Who first sang the odes which Homer
incorporated with the Iliad?  Who first turned up the earth with a
plough?  Who first used the weaver's shuttle?  Who devised the
cathedrals of the Middle Ages?  Who gave the keel to ships?  Who
was the first that raised bread by yeast?  Who invented chimneys?
But all ages will know that Columbus discovered America; and his
monuments are in every land, and his greatness is painted by the
ablest historians.

But I will not enlarge on the rewards Columbus received, or the
ingratitude which succeeded them, by force of envy or from the
disappointment of worldly men in not realizing all the gold that he
promised.  Let me allude to the results of his discovery.

The first we notice was the marvellous stimulus to maritime
adventures.  Europe was inflamed with a desire to extend
geographical knowledge, or add new countries to the realms of
European sovereigns.

Within four years of the discovery of the West India Islands by
Columbus, Cabot had sailed past Newfoundland, and Vasco da Gama had
doubled the Cape of Good Hope, and laid the foundation of the
Portuguese empire in the East Indies.  In 1499 Ojeda, one of the
companions of Columbus, and Amerigo Vespucci discovered Brazil.  In
1500 Cortereal, a Portuguese, explored the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
In 1505 Francesco de Almeira established factories along the coast
of Malabar.  In 1510 the Spaniards formed settlements on the
mainland at Panama.  In 1511 the Portuguese established themselves
at Malacca.  In 1513 Balboa crossed the Isthmus of Darien and
reached the Pacific Ocean.  The year after that, Ponce de Leon had
visited Florida.  In 1515 the Rio de la Plata was navigated; and
in 1517 the Portuguese had begun to trade with China and Bengal.
As early as 1520 Cortes had taken Mexico, and completed the
conquest of that rich country the following year.  In 1522 Cano
circumnavigated the globe.  In 1524 Pizarro discovered Peru, which
in less than twelve years was completely subjugated,--the year when
California was discovered by Cortes.  In 1542 the Portuguese were
admitted to trade with Japan.  In 1576 Frobisher sought a North-
western passage to India; and the following year Sir Francis Drake
commenced his more famous voyages under the auspices of Elizabeth.
In 1578 Sir Humphrey Gilbert colonized Virginia, followed rapidly
by other English settlements, until before the century closed the
whole continent was colonized either by Spaniards, or Portuguese,
or English, or French, or Dutch.  All countries came in to share
the prizes held out by the discovery of the New World.

Colonization followed the voyages of discovery.  It was animated by
the hope of finding gold and precious stones.  It was carried on
under great discouragements and hardships and unforeseen
difficulties.  As a general thing, the colonists were not
accustomed to manual labor; they were adventurers and broken-down
dependents on great families, who found restraint irksome and the
drudgeries of their new life almost unendurable.  Nor did they
intend, at the outset, permanent settlements; they expected to
accumulate gold and silver, and then return to their country.  They
had sought to improve their condition, and their condition became
forlorn.  They were exposed to sickness from malaria, poor food,
and hardship; they were molested by the natives whom they
constantly provoked; they were subject to cruel treatment on the
part of royal governors.  They melted away wherever they settled,
by famine, disease, and war, whether in South or North America.
They were discontented and disappointed, and not easily governed;
the chieftains quarrelled with each other, and were disgraced by
rapacity and cruelty.  They did not find what they expected.  They
were lonely and desolate, and longed to return to the homes they
had left, but were frequently without means to return,--doomed to
remain where they were, and die.  Colonization had no dignity until
men went to the New World for religious liberty, or to work upon
the soil.  The conquest of Mexico and Peru, however, opened up the
mining of gold and silver, which were finally found in great
abundance.  And when the richness of these countries in the
precious metals was finally established, then a regular stream of
emigrants flocked to the American shores.  Gold was at last found,
but not until thousands had miserably perished.

The mines of Mexico and Peru undoubtedly enriched Spain, and filled
Europe with envy and emulation.  A stream of gold flowed to the
mother country, and the caravels which transported the treasures of
the new world became objects of plunder to all nations hostile to
Spain.  The seas were full of pirates.  Sir Francis Drake was an
undoubted pirate, and returned, after his long voyage around the
world, with immense treasure, which he had stolen.  Then followed,
with the eager search after gold and silver, a rapid demoralization
in all maritime countries.

It would be interesting to show how the sudden accumulation of
wealth by Spain led to luxury, arrogance, and idleness, followed by
degeneracy and decay, since those virtues on which the strength of
man is based are weakened by sudden wealth.  Industry declined in
proportion as Spain became enriched by the precious metals.  But
this inquiry is foreign to my object.

A still more interesting inquiry arises, how far the nations of
Europe were really enriched by the rapid accumulation of gold and
silver.  The search for the precious metals may have stimulated
commercial enterprise, but it is not so clear that it added to the
substantial wealth of Europe, except so far as it promoted
industry.  Gold is not wealth; it is simply the exponent of wealth.
Real wealth is in farms and shops and ships,--in the various
channels of industry, in the results of human labor.  So far as the
precious metals enter into useful manufactures, or into articles of
beauty and taste, they are indeed inherently valuable.  Mirrors,
plate, jewelry, watches, gilded furniture, the adornments of the
person, in an important sense, constitute wealth, since all nations
value them, and will pay for them as they do for corn or oil.  So
far as they are connected with art, they are valuable in the same
sense as statues and pictures, on which labor has been expended.
There is something useful, and even necessary, besides food and
raiment and houses.  The gold which ornamented Solomon's temple, or
the Minerva of Phidias, or the garments of Leo X., had a value.
The ring which is a present to brides is a part of a marriage
ceremony.  The golden watch, which never tarnishes, is more
valuable inherently than a pewter one, because it remains
beautiful.  Thus when gold enters into ornaments deemed
indispensable, or into manufactures which are needed, it has an
inherent value,--it is wealth.

But when gold is a mere medium of exchange,--its chief use,--then
it has only a conventional value; I mean, it does not make a nation
rich or poor, since the rarer it is the more it will purchase of
the necessaries of life.  A pound's weight of gold, in ancient
Greece, or in Mediaeval Europe, would purchase as much wheat as
twenty pounds' weight will purchase to-day.  If the mines of Mexico
or Peru or California had never been worked, the gold in the
civilized world three hundred years ago would have been as valuable
for banking purposes, or as an exchange for agricultural products,
as twenty times its present quantity, since it would have bought as
much as twenty times the quantity will buy to-day.  Make diamonds
as plenty as crystals, they would be worth no more than crystals,
if they were not harder and more beautiful.  Make gold as plenty as
silver, it would be worth no more than silver, except for
manufacturing purposes; it would be worth no more to bankers and
merchants.  The vast increase in the production of the precious
metals simply increased the value of the commodities for which they
were exchanged.  A laborer can purchase no more bread with a dollar
to-day than he could with five cents three hundred years ago.  Five
cents were really as much wealth three hundred years ago as a
dollar is to-day.  Wherein, then, has the increase in the precious
metals added to the wealth of the world, if a twentieth part of the
gold and silver now in circulation would buy as much land, or
furniture, or wheat, or oil three hundred years ago as the whole
amount now used as money will buy to-day?  Had no gold or silver
mines been discovered in America, the gold and silver would have
appreciated in value in proportion to the wear of them.  In other
words, the scarcer the gold and silver the more the same will
purchase of the fruits of human industry.  So industry is the
wealth, not the gold.  It is the cultivated farms and the
manufactures and the buildings and the internal improvements of a
country which constitute its real wealth, since these represent its
industry,--the labor of men.  Mines, indeed, employ the labor of
men, but they do not furnish food for the body, or raiment to wear,
or houses to live in, or fuel for cooking, or any purpose whatever
of human comfort or necessity,--only a material for ornament; which
I grant is wealth, so far as ornament is for the welfare of man.
The marbles of ancient Greece were very valuable for the labor
expended on them, either for architecture or for ornament.

Gold and silver were early selected as useful and convenient
articles for exchange, like bank-notes, and so far have inherent
value as they supply that necessity; but if a fourth part of the
gold and silver in existence would supply that necessity, the
remaining three-fourths are as inherently valueless as the paper of
which bank-notes are printed.  Their value consists in what they
represent of the labors and industries of men.

Now Spain ultimately became poor, in spite of the influx of gold
and silver from the American mines, because industries of all kinds
declined.  People were diverted from useful callings by the mighty
delusion which gold discoveries created.  These discoveries had the
same effect on industry, which is the wealth of nations, as the
support of standing armies has in our day.  They diverted men from
legitimate callings.  The miners had to be supported like soldiers;
and, worse, the sudden influx of gold and silver intoxicated men
and stimulated speculation.  An army of speculators do not enrich a
nation, since they rob each other.  They cause money to change
hands; they do not stimulate industry.  They do not create wealth;
they simply make it flow from one person to another.

But speculations sometimes create activity in enterprise; they
inflame desires for wealth, and cause people to make greater
exertions.  In that sense the discovery of American mines gave a
stimulus to commerce and travel and energy.  People rushed to
America for gold: these people had to be fed and clothed.  Then
farmers and manufacturers followed the gold-hunters; they tilled
the soil to feed the miners.  The new farms which dotted the region
of the gold-diggers added to the wealth of the country in which the
mines were located.  Colonization followed gold-digging.  But it
was America that became enriched, not the old countries from which
the miners came, except so far as the old countries furnished tools
and ships and fabrics, for doubtless commerce and manufacturing
were stimulated.  So far, the wealth of the world increased; but
the men who returned to riot in luxury and idleness did not
stimulate enterprise.  They made others idle also.  The necessity
of labor was lost sight of.

And yet if one country became idle, another country may have become
industrious.  There can be but little question that the discovery
of the American mines gave commerce and manufactures and
agriculture, on the whole, a stimulus.  This was particularly seen
in England.  England grew rich from industry and enterprise, as
Spain became poor from idleness and luxury.  The silver and gold,
diffused throughout Europe, ultimately found their way into the
pockets of Englishmen, who made a market for their manufactures.
It was not alone the precious metals which enriched England, but
the will and power to produce those articles of industry for which
the rest of the world parted with their gold and silver.  What has
made France rich since the Revolution?  Those innumerable articles
of taste and elegance--fabrics and wines--for which all Europe
parted with their specie; not war, not conquest, not mines.  Why
till recently was Germany so poor?  Because it had so little to
sell to other nations; because industry was cramped by standing
armies and despotic governments.

One thing is certain, that the discovery of America opened a new
field for industry and enterprise to all the discontented and
impoverished and oppressed Europeans who emigrated.  At first they
emigrated to dig silver and gold.  The opening of mines required
labor, and miners were obliged to part with their gold for the
necessaries of life.  Thus California in our day has become peopled
with farmers and merchants and manufacturers, as well as miners.
Many came to America expecting to find gold, and were disappointed,
and were obliged to turn agriculturists, as in Virginia.  Many came
to New England from political and religious motives.  But all came
to better their fortunes.  Gradually the United States and Canada
became populated from east to west and from north to south.  The
surplus population of Europe poured itself into the wilds of
America.  Generally the emigrants were farmers.  With the growth of
agricultural industry were developed commerce and manufactures.
Thus, materially, the world was immensely benefited.  A new
continent was opened for industry.  No matter what the form of
government may be,--I might almost say no matter what the morals
and religion of the people may be,--so long as there is land to
occupy, and to be sold cheap, the continent will fill up, and will
be as densely populated as Europe or Asia, because the natural
advantages are good.  The rivers and the lakes will be navigated;
the products of the country will be exchanged for European and
Asiatic products; wealth will certainly increase, and increase
indefinitely.  There is no calculating the future resources and
wealth of the New World, especially in the United States.  There
are no conceivable bounds to their future commerce, manufactures,
and agricultural products.  We can predict with certainty the rise
of new cities, villas, palaces, material splendor, limited only to
the increasing resources and population of the country.  Who can
tell the number of miles of new railroads yet to be made; the new
inventions to abridge human labor; what great empires are destined
to rise; what unknown forms of luxury will be found out; what new
and magnificent trophies of art and science will gradually be seen;
what mechanism, what material glories, are sure to come?  This is
not speculation.  Nothing can retard the growth of America in
material wealth and glory.  The splendid external will call forth
more panegyrics than the old Roman world which fancied itself
eternal.  The tower of the new Babel will rise to the clouds, and
be seen in all its glory throughout the earth and sea.  No Fourth
of July orator ever exaggerated the future destinies of America in
a material point of view.  No "spread-eagle" politician even
conceived what will be sure to come.

And what then?  Grant the most indefinite expansion,--the growth of
empires whose splendor and wealth and power shall utterly eclipse
the glories of the Old World.  All this is probable.  But when we
have dwelt on the future material expansion; when we have given
wings to imagination, and feel that even imagination cannot reach
the probable realities in a material aspect,--then our predictions
and calculations stop.  Beyond material glories we cannot count
with certainty.  The world has witnessed many powerful empires
which have passed away, and left "not a rack behind."  What remains
of the antediluvian world?--not even a spike of Noah's ark, larger
and stronger than any modern ship.  What remains of Nineveh, of
Babylon, of Thebes, of Tyre, of Carthage,--those great centres of
wealth and power?  What remains of Roman greatness even, except in
laws and literature and renovated statues?  Remember there is an
undeviating uniformity in the past history of nations.  What is the
simple story of all the ages?--industry, wealth, corruption, decay,
and ruin.  What conservative power has been strong enough to arrest
the ruin of the nations of antiquity?  Have not material forces and
glories been developed and exhibited, whatever the religion and
morals of the fallen nations?  Cannot a country grow materially to
a certain point, under the most adverse influences, in a religious
and moral point of view?  Yet for lack of religion and morals the
nations perished, and their Babel-towers were buried in the dust.
They perished for lack of true conservative forces; at least that
is the judgment of historians.  Nobody doubts the splendor of the
material glories of the ancient nations.  The ruins of Baalbec, of
Palmyra, of Athens, prove this, to say nothing of history.  The
material glories of the ancient nations may be surpassed by our
modern wonders; but yet all the material glories of the ancient
nations passed away.

Now if this is to be the destiny of America,--an unbounded material
growth, followed by corruption and ruin,--then Columbus has simply
extended the realm for men to try material experiments.  Make New
York a second Carthage, and Boston a second Athens, and
Philadelphia a second Antioch, and Washington a second Rome, and we
simply repeat the old experiments.  Did not the Romans have nearly
all we have, materially, except our modern scientific inventions?

But has America no higher destiny than to repeat the old
experiments, and improve upon them, and become rich and powerful?
Has she no higher and nobler mission?  Can she lay hold of forces
that the Old World never had, such as will prevent the uniform doom
of nations?  I maintain that there is no reason that can be urged,
based on history and experience, why she should escape the fate of
the nations of antiquity, unless new forces arise on this continent
different from what the world has known, and which have a
conservative influence.  If America has a great mission to declare
and to fulfil, she must put forth altogether new forces, and these
not material.  And these alone will save her and save the world.
It is mournful to contemplate even the future magnificent material
glories of America if these are not to be preserved, if these are
to share the fate of ancient wonders.  It is obvious that the real
glory of America is to be something entirely different from that of
which the ancients boasted.  And this is to be moral and
spiritual,--that which the ancients lacked.

This leads me to speak of the moral consequences of the discovery
of America,--infinitely grander than any material wonders, of which
the world has been full, of which every form of paganism has
boasted, which nearly everywhere has perished, and which must
necessarily perish everywhere, without new forces to preserve them.

In a moral point of view scarcely anything good immediately
resulted, at least to Europe, by the discovery of America.  It
excited the wildest spirit of adventure, the most unscrupulous
cupidity, the most demoralizing speculation.  It created jealousies
and wars.  The cruelties and injustices inflicted on the Indians
were revolting.  Nothing in the annals of the world exceeds the
wickedness of the Spaniards in the conquest of Peru and Mexico.
That conquest is the most dismal and least glorious in human
history.  We see in it no poetry, or heroism, or necessity; we read
of nothing but its crimes.  The Jesuits, in their missionary zeal,
partly redeemed the cruelties; but they soon imposed a despotic
yoke, and confirmed their sway.  Monopolies scandalously increased,
and the New World was regarded only as spoil.  The tone of moral
feeling was lowered everywhere, for the nations were crazed with
the hope of sudden accumulations.  Spain became enervated and

On America itself the demoralization was even more marked.  There
never was such a state of moral degradation in any Christian
country as in South America.  Three centuries have passed, and the
low state of morals continues.  Contrast Mexico and Peru with the
United States, morally and intellectually.  What seeds of vice did
not the Spaniards plant!  How the old natives melted away!

And then, to add to the moral evils attending colonization, was the
introduction of African slaves, especially in the West Indies and
the Southern States of North America.  Christendom seems to have
lost the sense of morality.  Slavery more than counterbalances all
other advantages together.  It was the stain of the seventeenth and
eighteenth centuries.  Not merely slaves, but the slave-trade,
increase the horrors of the frightful picture.  America became
associated, in the minds of Europeans, with gold-hunting, slavery,
and cruelty to Indians.  Better that the country had remained
undiscovered than that such vices and miseries should be introduced
into the most fertile parts of the New World.

I cannot see that civilization gained anything, morally, by the
discovery of America, until the new settlers were animated by other
motives than a desire for sudden wealth.  When the country became
colonized by men who sought liberty to worship God,--men of lofty
purposes, willing to undergo sufferings and danger in order to
plant the seeds of a higher civilization,--then there arose new
forms of social and political life.  Such men were those who
colonized New England.  And, say what you will, in spite of all the
disagreeable sides of the Puritan character, it was the Puritans
who gave a new impulse to civilization in the New World.  They
founded schools and colleges and churches.  They introduced a new
form of political life by their town-meetings, in which liberty was
nurtured, and all local improvements were regulated.  It was the
autonomy of towns on which the political structure of new England
rested.  In them was born that true representative government which
has gradually spread towards the West.  The colonies were embryo
States,--States afterwards to be bound together by a stronger tie
than that of a league.  The New England States, after the war of
independence, were the defenders and advocates of a federal and
central power.  An entirely new political organization was
gradually formed, resting equally on such pillars as independent
townships and independent States, and these represented by
delegates in a national centre.

So we believe America was discovered, not so much to furnish a
field for indefinite material expansion, with European arts and
fashions,--which would simply assimilate America to the Old World,
with all its dangers and vices and follies,--but to introduce new
forms of government, new social institutions, new customs and
manners, new experiments in liberty, new religious organizations,
new modes to ameliorate the necessary evils of life.  It was
discovered that men might labor and enjoy the fruits of industry in
a new mode, unfettered by the restraints which the institutions of
Europe imposed.  America is a new field in which to try experiments
in government and social life, which cannot be tried in the older
nations without sweeping and dangerous revolutions; and new
institutions have arisen which are our pride and boast, and which
are the wonder and admiration of Europe.  America is the only
country under the sun in which there is self-government,--a
government which purely represents the wishes of the people, where
universal suffrage is not a mockery.  And if America has a destiny
to fulfil for other nations, she must give them something more
valuable than reaping machines, palace cars, and horse railroads.
She must give, not only machinery to abridge labor, but
institutions and ideas to expand the mind and elevate the soul,--
something by which the poor can rise and assert their rights.
Unless something is developed here which cannot be developed in
other countries, in the way of new spiritual and intellectual
forces, which have a conservative influence, then I cannot see how
America can long continue to be the home and refuge of the poor and
miserable of other lands.  A new and better spirit must vivify
schools and colleges and philanthropic enterprises than that which
has prevailed in older nations.  Unless something new is born here
which has a peculiar power to save, wherein will America ultimately
differ from other parts of Christendom?  We must have schools in
which the heart as well as the brain is educated, and newspapers
which aspire to something higher than to fan prejudices and appeal
to perverted tastes.  Our hope is not in books which teach
infidelity under the name of science, nor in pulpits which cannot
be sustained without sensational oratory, nor in journals which
trade on the religious sentiments of the people, nor in Sabbath-
school books which are an insult to the human understanding, nor in
colleges which fit youth merely for making money, nor in schools of
technology to give an impulse to material interests, nor in
legislatures controlled by monopolists, nor in judges elected by
demagogues, nor in philanthropic societies to ventilate unpractical
theories.  These will neither renovate nor conserve what is most
precious in life.  Unless a nation grows morally as well as
materially, there is something wrong at the core of society.  As I
have said, no material expansion will avail, if society becomes
rotten at the core.  America is a glorious boon to civilization,
but only as she fulfils a new mission in history,--not to become
more potent in material forces, but in those spiritual agencies
which prevent corruption and decay.  An infidel professor, calling
himself a savant, may tell you that there is nothing certain or
great but in the direction of science to utilities, even as he may
glory in a philosophy which ignores a creator and takes cognizance
only of a creation.

As I survey the growing and enormous moral evils which degrade
society, here as everywhere, in spite of Bunker Hills and Plymouth
Rocks, and all the windy declamations of politicians and
philanthropists, and all the advance in useful mechanisms, I am
sometimes tempted to propound inquiries which suggest the old,
mournful story of the decline and ruin of States and Empires.  I
ask myself, Why should America be an exception to the uniform fate
of nations, as history has demonstrated?  Why should not good
institutions be perverted here, as in all other countries and ages
of the world?  Where has civilization shown any striking triumphs,
except in inventions to abridge the labors of mankind and make men
comfortable and rich?  Is there nothing before us, then, but the
triumphs of material life, to end as mournfully as the materialism
of antiquity?  If so, then Christianity is a most dismal failure,
is a defeated power, like all other forms of religion which failed
to save.  But is it a failure?  Are we really swinging back to
Paganism?  Is the time to be hailed when all religions will be
considered by the philosopher as equally false and equally useful?
Is there nothing more cheerful for us to contemplate than what the
old Pagan philosophy holds out,--man destined to live like brutes
or butterflies, and pass away into the infinity of time and space,
like inert matter, decomposed, absorbed, and entering into new and
everlasting combinations?  Is America to become like Europe and
Asia in all essential elements of life?  Has she no other mission
than to add to perishable glories?  Is she to teach the world
nothing new in education and philanthropy and government?  Are all
her struggles in behalf of liberty in vain?

We all know that Christianity is the only hope of the world.  The
question is, whether America is or is not more favorable for its
healthy developments and applications than the other countries of
Christendom are.  We believe that it is.  If it is not, then
America is only a new field for the spread and triumph of material
forces.  If it is, we may look forward to such improvements in
education, in political institutions, in social life, in religious
organizations, in philanthropical enterprise, that the country will
be sought by the poor and enslaved classes of Europe more for its
moral and intellectual advantages than for its mines or farms; the
objects of the Puritan settlers will be gained, and the grandeur of
the discovery of a New World will be established.

    "What sought they thus afar?
       Bright jewels of the mine?
     The wealth of seas,--the spoils of war?
       They sought for Faith's pure shrine.
     Ay, call it holy ground,
       The soil where first they trod;
     They've left unstained what there they found,--
       Freedom to worship God."


Prescott's Ferdinand and Isabella; Washington Irving; Cabot's
Voyages, and other early navigators; Columbus, by De Costa; Life of
Columbus, by Bossi and Spatono; Relations de Quatre voyage par
Christopher Colomb; Drake's World Encompassed; Murray's Historical
Account of Discoveries; Hernando, Historia del Amirante; History of
Commerce; Lives of Pizarro and Cortes; Frobisher's Voyages;
Histories of Herrera, Las Casas, Gomera, and Peter Martyr;
Navarrete's Collections; Memoir of Cabot, by Richard Biddle;
Hakluyt's Voyages; Dr. Lardner's Cyclopaedia,--History of Maritime
and Inland Discovery; Anderson's History of Commerce; Oviedo's
General History of the West Indies; History of the New World, by
Geronimo Benzoni; Goodrich's Life of Christopher Columbus.


A. D. 1452-1498.


This lecture is intended to set forth a memorable movement in the
Roman Catholic Church,--a reformation of morals, preceding the
greater movement of Luther to produce a reformation of both morals
and doctrines.  As the representative of this movement I take
Savonarola, concerning whom much has of late been written; more, I
think, because he was a Florentine in a remarkable age,--the age of
artists and of reviving literature,--than because he was a martyr,
battling with evils which no one man was capable of removing.  His
life was more a protest than a victory.  He was an unsuccessful
reformer, and yet he prepared the way for that religious revival
which afterward took place in the Catholic Church itself.  His
spirit was not revolutionary, like that of the Saxon monk, and yet
it was progressive.  His soul was in active sympathy with every
emancipating idea of his age.  He was the incarnation of a fervid,
living, active piety amid forms and formulas, a fearless exposer of
all shams, an uncompromising enemy to the blended atheism and
idolatry of his ungodly age.  He was the contemporary of political,
worldly, warlike, unscrupulous popes, disgraced by nepotism and
personal vices,--men who aimed to extend not a spiritual but
temporal dominion, and who scandalized the highest position in the
Christian world, as attested by all reliable historians, whether
Catholic or Protestant.  However infallible the Catholic Church
claims to be, it has never been denied that some of her highest
dignitaries have been subject to grave reproaches, both in their
character and their influence. Such men were Sixtus IV., Julius
II., and Alexander VI.,--able, probably, for it is very seldom that
the popes have not been distinguished for something, but men,
nevertheless, who were a disgrace to the superb position they had
succeeded in reaching.

The great feature of that age was the revival of classical learning
and artistic triumphs in sculpture, painting, and architecture,
blended with infidel levity and social corruptions, so that it is
both interesting and hideous.  It is interesting for its triumphs
of genius, its dispersion of the shadows of the Middle Ages, the
commencement of great enterprises and of a marked refinement of
manners and tastes; it is hideous for its venalities, its murders,
its debaucheries, its unblushing wickedness, and its disgraceful
levities, when God and duty and self-restraint were alike ignored.
Cruel tyrants reigned in cities, and rapacious priests fattened on
the credulity of the people.  Think of monks itinerating to sell
perverted "indulgences"; of monasteries and convents filled, not
with sublime enthusiasts as in earlier times, but with gluttons and
sensualists, living in concubinage and greedy of the very things
which primitive monasticism denounced and abhorred!  Think of boys
elevated to episcopal thrones, and the sons of popes made cardinals
and princes!  Think of churches desecrated by spectacles which were
demoralizing, and a worship of saints and images which had become
idolatrous,--a degrading superstition among the people, an infidel
apathy among the higher classes: not infidel speculations, for
these were reserved for more enlightened times, but an indifference
to what is ennobling, to all vital religion, worthy of the Sophists
in the time of Socrates!

It was in this age of religious apathy and scandalous vices, yet of
awakening intelligence and artistic glories, when the greatest
enthusiasm was manifested for the revived literature and sculptured
marbles of classic Greece and Rome, that Savonarola appeared in
Florence as a reformer and preacher and statesman, near the close
of the fifteenth century, when Columbus was seeking a western
passage to India; when Michael Angelo was moulding the "Battle of
Hercules with the Centaurs;" when Ficino was teaching the
philosophy of Plato; when Alexander VI. was making princes of his
natural children; when Bramante was making plans for a new St.
Peter's; when Cardinal Bembo was writing Latin essays; when Lorenzo
de' Medici was the flattered patron of both scholars and artists,
and the city over which he ruled with so much magnificence was the
most attractive place in Europe, next to that other city on the
banks of the Tiber, whose wonders and glories have never been
exhausted, and will probably survive the revolutions of unknown

But Savonarola was not a native of Florence.  He was born in the
year 1452 at Ferrara, belonged to a good family, and received an
expensive education, being destined to the profession of medicine.
He was a sad, solitary, pensive, but precocious young man, whose
youth was marked by an unfortunate attachment to a haughty
Florentine girl.  He did not cherish her memory and dedicate to her
a life-labor, like Dante, but became very dejected and very pious.
His piety assumed, of course, the ascetic type, for there was
scarcely any other in that age, and he entered a Dominican convent,
as Luther, a few years later, entered an Augustinian.  But he was
not an original genius, or a bold and independent thinker like
Luther, so he was not emancipated from the ideas of his age.  How
few men can go counter to prevailing ideas!  It takes a prodigious
genius, and a fearless, inquiring mind, to break away from their
bondage.  Abraham could renounce the idolatries which surrounded
him, when called by a supernatural voice; Paul could give up the
Phariseeism which reigned in the Jewish schools and synagogues,
when stricken blind by the hand of God; Luther could break away
from monastic rules and papal denunciation, when taught by the
Bible the true ground of justification,--but Savonarola could not.
He pursued the path to heaven in the beaten track, after the
fashion of Jerome and Bernard and Thomas Aquinas, after the style
of the Middle Ages, and was sincere, devout, and lofty, like the
saints of the fifth century, and read his Bible as they did, and
essayed a high religious life; but he was stern, gloomy, and
austere, emaciated by fasts and self-denial.  He had, however,
those passive virtues which Mediaeval piety ever enjoined,--yea,
which Christ himself preached upon the Mount, and which
Protestantism, in the arrogance of reason, is in danger of losing
sight of,--humility, submission, and contempt of material gains.
He won the admiration of his superiors for his attainments and his
piety, being equally versed in Aristotle and the Holy Scriptures.
He delighted most in the Old Testament heroes and prophets, and
caught their sternness and invective.

He was not so much interested in dogmas as he was in morals.  He
had not, indeed, a turn of mind for theology, like Anselm and
Calvin; but he took a practical view of the evils of society.  At
thirty years of age he began to preach in Ferrara and Florence, but
was not very successful.  His sermons at first created but little
interest, and he sometimes preached to as few as twenty-five
people.  Probably he was too rough and vehement to suit the
fastidious ears of the most refined city in Italy.  People will not
ordinarily bear uncouthness from preachers, however gifted, until
they have earned a reputation; they prefer pretty and polished
young men with nothing but platitudes or extravagances to utter.
Savonarola seems to have been discouraged and humiliated at his
failure, and was sent to preach to the rustic villagers, amid the
mountains near Sienna.  Among these people he probably felt more at
home; and he gave vent to the fire within him and electrified all
who heard him, winning even the admiration of the celebrated Prince
of Mirandola.  From this time his fame spread rapidly, he was
recalled to Florence, 1490, and his great career commenced.  In the
following year such crowds pressed to hear him that the church of
St. Mark, connected with the Dominican convent to which he was
attached, could not contain the people, and he repaired to the
cathedral.  And even that spacious church was filled with eager
listeners,--more moved than delighted.  So great was his
popularity, that his influence correspondingly increased and he was
chosen prior of his famous convent.

He now wielded power as well as influence, and became the most
marked man of the city.  He was not only the most eloquent preacher
in Italy, probably in the world, but his eloquence was marked by
boldness, earnestness, almost fierceness.  Like an ancient prophet,
he was terrible in his denunciation of vices.  He spared no one,
and he feared no one.  He resembled Chrysostom at Constantinople,
when he denounced the vanity of Eudoxia and the venality of
Eutropius.  Lorenzo de' Medici, the absolute lord of Florence, sent
for him, and expostulated and remonstrated with the unsparing
preacher,--all to no effect.  And when the usurper of his country's
liberties was dying, the preacher was again sent for, this time to
grant an absolution.  But Savonarola would grant no absolution
unless Lorenzo would restore the liberties which he and his family
had taken away.  The dying tyrant was not prepared to accede to so
haughty a demand, and, collecting his strength, rolled over on his
bed without saying a word, and the austere monk wended his way back
to his convent, unmolested and determined.

The premature death of this magnificent prince made a great
sensation throughout Italy, and produced a change in the politics
of Florence, for the people began to see their political
degradation.  The popular discontents were increased when his
successor, Pietro, proved himself incapable and tyrannical,
abandoned himself to orgies, and insulted the leading citizens by
an overwhelming pride.  Savonarola took the side of the people, and
fanned the discontents.  He became the recognized leader of
opposition to the Medici, and virtually ruled the city.

The Prior of St. Mark now appeared in a double light,--as a
political leader and as a popular preacher.  Let us first consider
him in his secular aspect, as a revolutionist and statesman,--for
the admirable constitution he had a principal hand in framing
entitles him to the dignity of statesman rather than politician.
If his cause had not been good, and if he had not appealed to both
enlightened and patriotic sentiments, he would have been a
demagogue; for a demagogue and a mere politician are synonymous,
and a clerical demagogue is hideous.

Savonarola began his political career with terrible denunciations,
from his cathedral pulpit, of the political evils of his day, not
merely in Florence but throughout Italy.  He detested tyrants and
usurpers, and sought to conserve such liberties as the Florentines
had once enjoyed.  He was not only the preacher, he was also the
patriot.  Things temporal were mixed up with things spiritual in
his discourses.  In his detestation of the tyranny of the Medici,
and his zeal to recover for the Florentines their lost liberties,
he even hailed the French armies of Charles VIII. as deliverers,
although they had crossed the Alps to invade and conquer Italy.  If
the gates of Florence were open to them, they would expel the
Medici.  So he stimulated the people to league with foreign enemies
in order to recover their liberties.  This would have been high
treason in Richelieu's time,--as when the Huguenots encouraged the
invasion of the English on the soil of France.  Savonarola was a
zealot, and carried the same spirit into politics that he did into
religion,--such as when he made a bonfire of what he called
vanities.  He had an end to carry: he would use any means.  There
is apt to be a spirit of expediency in men consumed with zeal,
determined on success.  To the eye of the Florentine reformer, the
expulsion of the Medici seemed the supremest necessity; and if it
could be done in no other way than by opening the gates of his city
to the French invaders, he would open the gates.  Whatever he
commanded from the pulpit was done by the people, for he seemed to
have supreme control over them, gained by his eloquence as a
preacher.  But he did not abuse his power.  When the Medici were
expelled, he prevented violence; blood did not flow in the streets;
order and law were preserved.  The people looked up to him as their
leader, temporal as well as spiritual.  So he assembled them in the
great hall of the city, where they formally held a parlemento, and
reinstated the ancient magistrates.  But these were men without
experience.  They had no capacity to govern, and they were selected
without wisdom on the part of the people.  The people, in fact, had
not the ability to select their best and wisest men for rulers.
That is an evil inherent in all popular governments.  Does San
Francisco or New York send its greatest men to Congress?  Do not
our cities elect such rulers as the demagogues point out?  Do not
the few rule, even in a Congregational church?  If some commanding
genius, unscrupulous or wise or eloquent or full of tricks,
controls elections with us, much more easily could such a man as
Savonarola rule in Florence, where there were no political
organizations, no caucuses, no wirepullers, no other man of
commanding ability.  The only opinion-maker was this preacher, who
indicated the general policy to be pursued.  He left elections to
the people; and when these proved a failure, a new constitution
became a necessity.  But where were the men capable of framing a
constitution for the republic?  Two generations of political
slavery had destroyed political experience.  The citizens were as
incapable of framing a new constitution as the legislators of
France after they had decimated the nobility, confiscated the
Church lands, and cut off the head of the king.  The lawyers
disputed in the town hall, but accomplished nothing.

Their science amounted only to an analysis of human passion.  All
wanted a government entirely free from tyranny; all expected
impossibilities.  Some were in favor of a Venetian aristocracy, and
others of a pure democracy; yet none would yield to compromise,
without which no permanent political institution can ever be
framed.  How could the inexperienced citizens of Florence
comprehend the complicated relations of governments?  To make a
constitution that the world respects requires the highest maturity
of human wisdom.  It is the supremest labor of great men.  It took
the ablest man ever born among the Jews to give to them a national
polity.  The Roman constitution was the fruit of five hundred
years' experience.  Our constitution was made by the wisest, most
dignified, most enlightened body of statesmen that this country has
yet seen, and even they could not have made it without great mutual
concessions.  No ONE man could have made a constitution, however
great his talents and experience,--not even a Jefferson or a
Hamilton,--which the nation would have accepted.  It would have
been as full of defects as the legislation of Solon or Lycurgus or
the Abbe Sieyes.  But one man gave a constitution to the
Florentines, which they not only accepted, but which has been
generally admired for its wisdom; and that man was our Dominican
monk.  The hand he had in shaping that constitution not only proved
him to have been a man of great wisdom, but entitled him to the
gratitude of his countrymen as a benefactor.  He saw the vanity of
political science as it then existed, the incapacity of popular
leaders, and the sadness of a people drifting into anarchy and
confusion; and, strong in his own will and his sense of right, he
rose superior to himself, and directed the stormy elements of
passion and fear.  And this he did by his sermons from the pulpit,--
for he did not descend, in person, into the stormy arena of
contending passions and interests.  He did not himself attend the
deliberations in the town hall; he was too wise and dignified a man
for that.  But he preached those principles and measures which he
wished to see adopted; and so great was the reverence for him that
the people listened to his instructions, and afterward deliberated
and acted among themselves.  He did not write out a code, but he
told the people what they should put into it.  He was the animating
genius of the city; his voice was obeyed.  He unfolded the theory
that the government of one man, in their circumstances, would
become tyrannical; and he taught the doctrine, then new, that the
people were the only source of power,--that they alone had the
right to elect their magistrates.  He therefore recommended a
general government, which should include all citizens who had
intelligence, experience, and position,--not all the people, but
such as had been magistrates, or their fathers before them.
Accordingly, a grand council was formed of three thousand citizens,
out of a population of ninety thousand who had reached the age of
twenty-nine.  These three thousand citizens were divided into three
equal bodies, each of which should constitute a council for six
months and no meeting was legal unless two-thirds of the members
were present.  This grand council appointed the magistrates.  But
another council was also recommended and adopted, of only eighty
citizens not under forty years of age,--picked men, to be changed
every six months, whom the magistrates were bound to consult
weekly, and to whom was confided the appointment of some of the
higher officers of the State, like ambassadors to neighboring
States.  All laws proposed by the magistrates, or seigniory, had to
be ratified by this higher and selecter council.  The higher
council was a sort of Senate, the lower council were more like
Representatives.  But there was no universal suffrage.  The
clerical legislator knew well enough that only the better and more
intelligent part of the people were fit to vote, even in the
election of magistrates.  He seems to have foreseen the fatal rock
on which all popular institutions are in danger of being wrecked,--
that no government is safe and respected when the people who make
it are ignorant and lawless.  So the constitution which Savonarola
gave was neither aristocratic nor democratic.  It resembled that of
Venice more than that of Athens, that of England more than that of
the United States.  Strictly universal suffrage is a Utopian dream
wherever a majority of the people are wicked and degraded.  Sooner
or later it threatens to plunge any nation, as nations now are,
into a whirlpool of dangers, even if Divine Providence may not
permit a nation to be stranded and wrecked altogether.  In the
politics of Savonarola we see great wisdom, and yet great sympathy
for freedom.  He would give the people all that they were fit for.
He would make all offices elective, but only by the suffrages of
the better part of the people.

But the Prior of St. Mark did not confine himself to constitutional
questions and issues alone.  He would remove all political abuses;
he would tax property, and put an end to forced loans and arbitrary
imposts; he would bring about a general pacification, and grant a
general amnesty for political offences; he would guard against the
extortions of the rich, and the usury of the Jews, who lent money
at thirty-three per cent, with compound interest; he secured the
establishment of a bank for charitable loans; he sought to make the
people good citizens, and to advance their temporal as well as
spiritual interests.  All his reforms, political or social, were
advocated, however, from the pulpit; so that he was doubtless a
political priest.  We, in this country and in these times, have no
very great liking to this union of spiritual and temporal
authority: we would separate and divide this authority.
Protestants would make the functions of the ruler and the priest
forever distinct.  But at that time the popes themselves were
secular rulers, as well as spiritual dignitaries.  All bishops and
abbots had the charge of political interests.  Courts of law were
presided over by priests.  Priests were ambassadors to foreign
powers; they were ministers of kings; they had the control of
innumerable secular affairs, now intrusted to laymen.  So their
interference with politics did not shock the people of Florence, or
the opinions of the age.  It was indeed imperatively called for,
since the clergy were the most learned and influential men of those
times, even in affairs of state.  I doubt if the Catholic Church
has ever abrogated or ignored her old right to meddle in the
politics of a state or nation.  I do not know, nor do I believe,
that the Catholic clergy in this our country take it upon
themselves to instruct the people in their political duties.  No
enlightened Protestant congregation would endure such interference.
No Protestant minister dares ever to discuss direct political
issues from the pulpit, except perhaps on Thanksgiving Day, or in
some rare exigency in public morality.  Still less would he venture
to tell his parishioners how they should vote in town-meetings.  In
imitation of ancient saints and apostles, he is wisely constrained
from interference in secular and political affairs.  But in the
Middle Ages, and the Catholic Church, the priest could be political
in his preaching, since many of his duties were secular.
Savonarola usurped no prerogatives.  He refrained from meeting men
in secular vocations.  Even in his politics he confined himself to
his sphere in the pulpit.  He did not attend the public debates; he
simply preached.  He ruled by wisdom, eloquence, and sanctity; and
as he was an oracle, his utterances became a law.

But while he instructed the people in political duties, he paid far
more attention to public morals.  He would break up luxury,
extravagance, ostentatious living, unseemly dresses in the house of
God.  He was the foe of all levities, all frivolities, all
insidious pleasures.  Bad men found no favor in his eyes, and he
exposed their hypocrisies and crimes.  He denounced sin, in high
places and low.  He did not confine himself to the sins of his own
people alone, but censured those of princes and of other cities.
He embraced all Italy in his glance.  He invoked the Lord to take
the Church out of the hands of the Devil, to pour out his wrath on
guilty cities.  He throws down a gauntlet of defiance to all
corrupt potentates; he predicts the near approach of calamities; he
foretells the certainty of divine judgment upon all sin; he clothes
himself with the thunders of the Jewish prophets; he seems to
invoke woe, desolation, and destruction.  He ascribes the very
invasion of the French to the justice of retribution.  "Thy crimes,
O Florence! thy crimes, O Rome! thy crimes, O Italy! are the causes
of these chastisements."  And so terrible are his denunciations
that the whole city quakes with fear.  Mirandola relates that as
Savonarola's voice sounded like a clap of thunder in the cathedral,
packed to its utmost capacity with the trembling people, a cold
shiver ran through all his bones and the hairs of his head stood on
end.  "O Rome!" exclaimed the preacher, "thou shalt be put to the
sword, since thou wilt not be converted.  O Italy! confusion upon
confusion shall overtake thee; the confusion of war shall follow
thy sins, and famine and pestilence shall follow after war."  Then
he denounces Rome: "O harlot Church! thou hast made thy deformity
apparent to all the world; thou hast multiplied thy fornications in
Italy, in France, in Spain, in every country.  Behold, saith the
Lord, I will stretch forth my hand upon thee; I will deliver thee
into the hands of those that hate thee."  The burden of his soul is
sin,--sin everywhere, even in the bosom of the Church,--and the
necessity of repentance, of turning to the Lord.  He is more than
an Elijah,--he is a John the Baptist.  His sermons are chiefly
drawn from the Old Testament, especially from the prophets in their
denunciation of woes; like them, he is stern, awful, sublime.  He
does not attack the polity or the constitution of the Church, but
its corruptions.  He does not call the Pope a usurper, a fraud, an
impostor; he does not attack the office; but if the Pope is a bad
man he denounces his crimes.  He is still the Dominican monk,
owning his allegiance, but demanding the reformation of the head of
the Church, to whom God has given the keys of Saint Peter.  Neither
does he meddle with the doctrines of the Church; he does not take
much interest in dogmas.  He is not a theologian, but he would
change the habits and manners of the people of Florence.  He would
urge throughout Italy a reformation of morals.  He sees only the
degeneracy in life; he threatens eternal penalties if sin be
persisted in.  He alarms the fears of the people, so that women
part with their ornaments, dress with more simplicity, and walk
more demurely; licentious young men become modest and devout;
instead of the songs of the carnival, religious hymns are sung;
tradesmen forsake their shops for the churches; alms are more
freely given; great scholars become monks; even children bring
their offerings to the Church; a pyramid of "vanities" is burned on
the public square.

And no wonder.  A man had appeared at a great crisis in wickedness,
and yet while the people were still susceptible of grand
sentiments; and this man--venerated, austere, impassioned, like an
ancient prophet, like one risen from the dead--denounces woes with
such awful tones, such majestic fervor, such terrible emphasis, as
to break through all apathy, all delusions, and fill the people
with remorse, astonish them by his revelations, and make them
really feel that the supernal powers, armed with the terrors of
Omnipotence, would hurl them into hell unless they repented.

No man in Europe at the time had a more lively and impressive sense
of the necessity of a general reformation than the monk of St.
Mark; but it was a reform in morals, not of doctrine.  He saw the
evils of the day--yea, of the Church itself--with perfect
clearness, and demanded redress.  He is as sad in view of these
acknowledged evils as Jeremiah was in view of the apostasy of the
Jews; he is as austere in his own life as Elijah or John the
Baptist was.  He would not abolish monastic institutions, but he
would reform the lives of the monks,--cure them of gluttony and
sensuality, not shut up their monasteries.  He would not rebel
against the authority of the Pope, for even Savonarola believed
that prelate to be the successor of Saint Peter; but he would
prevent the Pope's nepotism and luxury and worldly spirit,--make
him once more a true "servant of the servants of God," even when
clothed with the insignia of universal authority.  He would not
give up auricular confession, or masses for the dead, or prayers to
the Virgin Mary, for these were indorsed by venerated ages; but he
would rebuke a priest if found in unseemly places.  Whatever was a
sin, when measured by the laws of immutable morality, he would
denounce, whoever was guilty of it; whatever would elevate the
public morals he would advocate, whoever opposed.  His morality was
measured by the declaration of Christ and the Apostles, not by the
standard of a corrupt age.  He revered the Scriptures, and
incessantly pondered them, and exalted their authority, holding
them to be the ultimate rule of holy living, the everlasting
handbook of travellers to the heavenly Jerusalem.  In all respects
he was a good man,--a beautiful type of Christian piety, with fewer
faults than Luther or Calvin had, and as great an enemy as they to
corruptions in State and Church, which he denounced even more
fiercely and passionately.  Not even Erasmus pointed out the vices
of the day with more freedom or earnestness.  He covered up
nothing; he shut his eyes to nothing.

The difference between Savonarola and Luther was that the Saxon
reformer attacked the root of the corruption; not merely outward
and tangible and patent sins which everybody knew, but also and
more earnestly the special principles of theology and morals which
sustained them, and which logically pushed out would necessarily
have produced them.  For instance, he not merely attacked
indulgences, then a crying evil, as peddled by Tetzel and others
like him, for collecting money to support the temporal power of the
popes or build St. Peter's church; but he would show that penance,
on which indulgences are based, is antagonistic to the doctrine
which Paul so forcibly expounded respecting the forgiveness of sins
and the grounds of justification.  And Luther saw that all the
evils which good men lamented would continue so long as the false
principles from which they logically sprung were the creed of the
Church.  So he directed his giant energies to reform doctrines
rather than morals.  His great idea of justification could be
defended only by an appeal to the Scriptures, not to the authority
of councils and learned men.  So he made the Scriptures the sole
source of theological doctrine.  Savonarola also accepted the
Scriptures, but Luther would put them in the hands of everybody, of
peasants even,--and thus instituted private judgment, which is the
basal pillar of Protestantism.  The Catholic theologians never
recognized this right in the sense that Luther understood it, and
to which he was pushed by inexorable logic.  The Church was to
remain the interpreter of the doctrinal and disputed points of the

Savonarola was a churchman.  He was not a fearless theological
doctor, going wherever logic and the Bible carried him.  Hence, he
did not stimulate thought and inquiry as Luther did, nor inaugurate
a great revolutionary movement, which would gradually undermine
papal authority and many institutions which the Catholic Church
indorsed.  Had he been a great genius, with his progressive
proclivities, he might have headed a rebellion against papal
authority, which upheld doctrines that logically supported the very
evils he denounced.  But he was contented to lop off branches; he
did not dig up the roots.  Luther went to the roots, as Calvin did;
as Saint Augustine would have done had there been a necessity in
his day, for the theology of Saint Augustine and Calvin is
essentially the same.  It was from Saint Augustine that Calvin drew
his inspiration next after Saint Paul.  But Savonarola cared very
little for the discussion of doctrines; he probably hated all
theological speculations, all metaphysical divinity.  Yet there is
a closer resemblance between doctrines and morals than most people
are aware of.  As a man thinketh, so is he.  Hence, the reforms of
Savonarola were temporary, and were not widely extended; for he did
not kindle the intelligence of the age, as did Luther and those
associated with him.  There can be no great and listing reform
without an appeal to reason, without the assistance of logic,
without conviction.  The house that had been swept and garnished
was re-entered by devils, and the last state was worse than the
first.  To have effected a radical and lasting reform, Savonarola
should have gone deeper.  He should have exposed the foundations on
which the superstructure of sin was built; he should have
undermined them, and appealed to the reason of the world.  He did
no such thing.  He simply rebuked the evils, which must needs be,
so long as the root of them is left untouched.  And so long as his
influence remained, so long as his voice was listened to, he was
mighty in the reforms at which he aimed,--a reformation of the
morals of those to whom he preached.  But when his voice was
hushed, the evils he detested returned, since he had not created
those convictions which bind men together in association;
he had not fanned that spirit of inquiry which is hostile to
ecclesiastical despotism, and which, logically projected, would
subvert the papal throne.  The reformation of Luther was a grand
protest against spiritual tyranny.  It not only aimed at a purer
life, but it opposed the bondage of the Middle Ages, and all the
superstitious and puerilities and fables which were born and
nurtured in that dark and gloomy period and to which the clergy
clung as a means of power or wealth.  Luther called out the
intellect of Germany, exalted liberty of conscience, and appealed
to the dignity of reason.  He showed the necessity of learning, in
order to unravel and explain the truths of revelation.  He made
piety more exalted by giving it an intelligent stimulus.  He looked
to the future rather than the past.  He would make use, in his
interpretation of the Bible, of all that literature, science, and
art could contribute.  Hence his writings had a wider influence
than could be produced by the fascination of personal eloquence, on
which Savonarola relied, but which Luther made only accessory.

Again, the sermons of the Florentine reformer do not impress us as
they did those to whom they were addressed.  They are not logical,
nor doctrinal, nor learned,--not rich in thought, like the sermons
of those divines whom the Reformation produced.  They are vehement
denunciations of sin; are eloquent appeals to the heart, to
religious fears and hopes.  He would indeed create faith in the
world, not by the dissertations of Paul, but by the agonies of the
dying Christ.  He does not instruct; he does not reason.  He is
dogmatic and practical.  He is too earnest to be metaphysical, or
even theological.  He takes it for granted that his hearers know
all the truths necessary for salvation.  He enforces the truths
with which they are familiar, not those to be developed by reason
and learning.  He appeals, he urges, he threatens; he even
prophesies; he dwells on divine wrath and judgment.  He is an
Isaiah foretelling what will happen, rather than a Peter at the Day
of Pentecost.

Savonarola was transcendent in his oratorical gifts, the like of
which has never before nor since been witnessed in Italy.  He was a
born orator; as vehement as Demosthenes, as passionate as
Chrysostom, as electrical as Bernard.  Nothing could withstand him;
he was a torrent that bore everything before him.  His voice was
musical, his attitude commanding, his gestures superb.  He was all
alive with his subject.  He was terribly in earnest, as if he
believed everything he said, and that what he said were most
momentous truths.  He fastened his burning eyes upon his hearers,
who listened with breathless attention, and inspired them with his
sentiments; he made them feel that they were in the very jaws of
destruction, and that there was no hope but in immediate
repentance.  His whole frame quivered with emotion, and he sat down
utterly exhausted.  His language was intense, not clothing new
thoughts, but riveting old ideas,--the ideas of the Middle Ages;
the fear of hell, the judgments of Almighty God.  Who could resist
such fiery earnestness, such a convulsed frame, such quivering
tones, such burning eyes, such dreadful threatenings, such awful
appeals?  He was not artistic in the use of words and phrases like
Bourdaloue, but he reached the conscience and the heart like
Whitefield.  He never sought to amuse; he would not stoop to any
trifling.  He told no stories; he made no witticisms; he used no
tricks.  He fell back on truths, no matter whether his hearers
relished them or not; no matter whether they were amused or not.
He was the messenger of God urging men to flee as for their lives,
like Lot when he escaped from Sodom.

Savonarola's manner was as effective as his matter.  He was a kind
of Peter the Hermit, preaching a crusade, arousing emotions and
passions, and making everybody feel as he felt.  It was life more
than thought which marked his eloquence,--his voice as well as his
ideas, his wonderful electricity, which every preacher must have,
or he preaches to stones.  It was himself, even more than his
truths, which made people listen, admire, and quake.  All real
orators impress themselves--their own individuality--on their
auditors.  They are not actors, who represent other people, and
whom we admire in proportion to their artistic skill in producing
deception.  These artists excite admiration, make us forget where
we are and what we are, but kindle no permanent emotions, and teach
no abiding lessons.  The eloquent preacher of momentous truths and
interests makes us realize them, in proportion as he feels them
himself.  They would fall dead upon us, if ever so grand, unless
intensified by passion, fervor, sincerity, earnestness.  Even a
voice has power, when electrical, musical, impassioned, although it
may utter platitudes.  But when the impassioned voice rings with
trumpet notes through a vast audience, appealing to what is dearest
to the human soul, lifting the mind to the contemplation of the
sublimest truths and most momentous interests, then there is REAL
eloquence, such as is never heard in the theatre, interested as
spectators may be in the triumphs of dramatic art.

But I have dwelt too long on the characteristics of that eloquence
which produced such a great effect on the people of Florence in the
latter part of the fifteenth century.  That ardent, intense, and
lofty monk, world-deep like Dante, not world-wide like Shakspeare,
who filled the cathedral church with eager listeners, was not
destined to uninterrupted triumphs.  His career was short; he could
not even retain his influence.  As the English people wearied of
the yoke of a Puritan Protector, and hankered for their old
pleasures, so the Florentines remembered the sports and spectacles
and fetes of the old Medicean rule.  Savonarola had arrayed against
himself the enemies of popular liberty, the patrons of demoralizing
excitements, the partisans of the banished Medici, and even the
friends and counsellors of the Pope.  The dreadful denunciation of
sin in high places was as offensive to the Pope as the exposure of
a tyrannical usurpation was to the family of the old lords of
Florence; and his enemies took counsel together, and schemed for
his overthrow.  If the irritating questions and mockeries of
Socrates could not be endured at Athens, how could the bitter
invectives and denunciations of Savonarola find favor at Florence?
The fate of prophets is to be stoned.  Martyrdom and persecution,
in some form or other, are as inevitable to the man who sails
against the stream, as a broken constitution and a diseased body
are to a sensualist, a glutton, or a drunkard.  Impatience under
rebuke is as certain as the operation of natural law.

The bitterest and most powerful enemy of the Prior of St. Mark was
the Pope himself,--Alexander VI., of the infamous family of the
Borgias,--since his private vices were exposed, and by one whose
order had been especially devoted to the papal empire.  In the eyes
of the wicked Pope, the Florentine reformer was a traitor and
conspirator, disloyal and dangerous.  At first he wished to silence
him by soft and deceitful letters and tempting bribes, offering to
him a cardinal's hat, and inviting him to Rome.  But Savonarola
refused alike the bribe and the invitation.  His Lenten sermons
became more violent and daring.  "If I have preached and written
anything heretical," said this intrepid monk, "I am willing to make
a public recantation.  I have always shown obedience to my church;
but it is my duty to obey God rather than man."  This sounds like
Luther at the Diet of Worms; but he was more defenceless than
Luther, since the Saxon reformer was protected by powerful princes,
and was backed by the enthusiasm of Northern Germans.  Yet the
Florentine preacher boldly continued his attacks on all
hypocritical religion, and on the vices of Rome, not as incidental
to the system, but extraneous,--the faults of a man or age.  The
Pope became furious, to be thus balked by a Dominican monk, and in
one of the cities of Italy,--a city that had not rebelled against
his authority.  He complained bitterly to the Florentine
ambassador, of the haughty friar who rebuked and defied him.  He
summoned a consistory of fourteen eminent Dominican theologians, to
inquire into his conduct and opinions, and issued a brief
forbidding him to preach, under penalty of excommunication.  Yet
Savonarola continued to preach, and more violently than ever.  He
renewed his charges against Rome.  He even called her a harlot
Church, against whom heaven and earth, angels and devils, equally
brought charges.  The Pope then seized the old thunderbolts of the
Gregories and the Clements, and excommunicated the daring monk and
preacher, and threatened the like punishment on all who should
befriend him.  And yet Savonarola continued to preach.  All Rome
and Italy talked of the audacity of the man.  And it was not until
Florence itself was threatened with an interdict for shielding such
a man, that the magistrates of the city were compelled to forbid
his preaching.

The great orator mounted his pulpit March 18, 1498, now four
hundred years ago, and took an affectionate farewell of the people
whom he had led, and appealed to Christ himself as the head of the
Church.  It was not till the preacher was silenced by the
magistrates of his own city, that he seems to have rebelled against
the papal authority; and then not so much against the authority of
Rome as against the wicked shepherd himself, who had usurped the
fold.  He now writes letters to all the prominent kings and princes
of Europe, to assemble a general council; for the general council
of Constance had passed a resolution that the Pope must call a
general council every ten years, and that, should he neglect to
assemble it, the sovereign powers of the various states and empires
were themselves empowered to collect the scattered members of the
universal Church, to deliberate on its affairs.  In his letters to
the kings of France, England, Spain, and Hungary, and the Emperor
of Germany, he denounced the Pope as simoniacal, as guilty of all
the vices, as a disgrace to the station which he held.  These
letters seem to have been directed against the man, not against the
system.  He aimed at the Pope's ejectment from office, rather than
at the subversion of the office itself,--another mark of the
difference between Savonarola and Luther, since the latter waged an
uncompromising war against Rome herself, against the whole regime
and government and institutions and dogmas of the Catholic Church;
and that is the reason why Catholics hate Luther so bitterly, and
deny to him either virtues or graces, and represent even his
deathbed, as a scene of torment and despair,--an instance of that
pursuing hatred which goes beyond the grave; like that of the
zealots of the Revolution in France, who dug up the bones of the
ancient kings from those vaults where they had reposed for
centuries, and scattered their ashes to the winds.

Savonarola hoped the Christian world would come to his rescue; but
his letters were intercepted, and reached the eye of Alexander VI.,
who now bent the whole force of the papal empire to destroy that
bold reformer who had assailed his throne.  And it seems that a
change took place in Florence itself in popular sentiment.  The
Medicean party obtained the ascendency in the government.  The
people--the fickle people--began to desert Savonarola; and
especially when he refused to undergo the ordeal of fire,--one of
the relics of Mediaeval superstition,--the people felt that they
had been cheated out of their amusement, for they had waited
impatiently the whole day in the public square to see the
spectacle.  He finally consented to undergo the ordeal, provided he
might carry the crucifix.  To this his enemies would not consent.
He then laid aside the crucifix, but insisted on entering the fire
with the sacrament in his hand.  His persecutors would not allow
this either, and the ordeal did not take place.

At last his martyrdom approaches: he is led to prison.  The
magistrates of the city send to Rome for absolution for having
allowed the Prior to preach.  His enemies busy themselves in
collecting evidence against him,--for what I know not, except that
he had denounced corruption and sin, and had predicted woe.  His
two friends are imprisoned and interrogated with him, Fra Domenico
da Pescia and Fra Silvestro Maruffi, who are willing to die for
him.  He and they are now subjected to most cruel tortures.  As the
result of bodily agony his mind begins to waver.  His answers are
incoherent; he implores his tormentors to end his agonies; he cries
out, with a voice enough to melt a heart of stone, "Take, oh, take
my life!"  Yet he confessed nothing to criminate himself.  What
they wished him especially to confess was that he had pretended to
be a prophet, since he had predicted calamities.  But all men are
prophets, in one sense, when they declare the certain penalties of
sin, from which no one can escape, though he take the wings of the
morning and fly to the uttermost parts of the sea.

Savonarola thus far had remained firm, but renewed examinations and
fresh tortures took place.  For a whole month his torments were
continuous.  In one day he was drawn up by a rope fourteen times,
and then suddenly dropped, until all his muscles quivered with
anguish.  Had he been surrounded by loving disciples, like Latimer
at the burning pile, he might have summoned more strength; but
alone, in a dark inquisitorial prison, subjected to increasing
torture among bitter foes, he did not fully defend his visions and
prophecies; and then his extorted confessions were diabolically
altered.  But that was all they could get out of him,--that he had
prophesied.  In all matters of faith he was sound.  The inquisitors
were obliged to bring their examination to an end.  They could find
no fault with him, and yet they were determined on his death.  The
Government of Florence consented to it and hastened it, for a
Medici again held the highest office of the State.

Nothing remained to the imprisoned and tortured friar but to
prepare for his execution.  In his supreme trial he turned to the
God in whom he believed.  In the words of the dying Xavier, on the
Island of Sancian, he exclaimed, In te domine speravi, non
confundar in eternum.  "O Lord," he prays, "a thousand times hast
thou wiped out my iniquity.  I do not rely on my own justification,
but on thy mercy."  His few remaining days in prison were passed in
holy meditation.

At last the officers of the papal commission arrive.  The tortures
are renewed, and also the examinations, with the same result.  No
fault could be found with his doctrines.  "But a dead enemy," said
they, "fights no more."  He is condemned to execution.  The
messengers of death arrive at his cell, and find him on his knees.
He is overpowered by his sufferings and vigils, and can with
difficulty be kept from sleep.  But he arouses himself, and passes
the night in prayer, and administers the elements of redemption to
his doomed companions, and closes with this prayer: "Lord, I know
thou art that perfect Trinity,--Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; I know
that thou art the eternal Word; that thou didst descend from heaven
into the bosom of Mary; that thou didst ascend upon the cross to
shed thy blood for our sins.  I pray thee that by that blood I may
have remission for my sins."  The simple faith of Paul, of
Augustine, of Pascal!  He then partook of the communion, and
descended to the public square, while the crowd gazed silently and
with trepidation, and was led with his companions to the first
tribunal, where he was disrobed of his ecclesiastical dress.  Then
they were led to another tribunal, and delivered to the secular
arm; then to another, where sentence of death was read; and then to
the place of execution,--not a burning funeral pyre, but a
scaffold, which mounting, composed, calm, absorbed, Savonarola
submitted his neck to the hangman, in the forty-fifth year of his
life: a martyr to the cause of Christ, not for an attack on the
Church, or its doctrines, or its institutions, but for having
denounced the corruption and vices of those who ruled it,--for
having preached against sin.

Thus died one of the greatest and best men of his age, one of the
truest and purest whom the Catholic Church has produced in any age.
He was stern, uncompromising, austere, but a reformer and a saint;
a man who was merciful and generous in the possession of power; an
enlightened statesman, a sound theologian, and a fearless preacher
of that righteousness which exalteth a nation.  He had no vices, no
striking defects.  He lived according to the rules of the convent
he governed with the same wisdom that he governed a city, and he
died in the faith of the primitive apostles.  His piety was
monastic, but his spirit was progressive, sympathizing with
liberty, advocating public morality.  He was unselfish,
disinterested, and true to his Church, his conscience, and his
cause,--a noble specimen both of a man and Christian, whose deeds
and example form part of the inheritance of an admiring posterity.
We pity his closing days, after such a career of power and
influence; but we may as well compassionate Socrates or Paul.  The
greatest lights of the world have gone out in martyrdom, to be
extinguished, however, only for a time, and then to loom up again
in another age, and burn with inextinguishable brightness to
remotest generations; as examples of the power of faith and truth
in this wicked and rebellious world,--a world to be finally
redeemed by the labors and religion of just such men, whose days
are days of sadness, protest, and suffering, and whose hours of
triumph and exaltation are not like those of conquerors, nor like
those whose eyes stand out with fatness, but few and far between.
"I have loved righteousness, I have hated iniquity," said the great
champion of the Mediaeval Church, "and therefore I die in exile."

In ten years after this ignominious execution, Raphael painted the
martyr among the sainted doctors of the Church in the halls of the
Vatican, and future popes did justice to his memory, for he
inaugurated that reform movement in the Catholic Church itself
which took place within fifty years after his death.  In one sense
he was the precursor of Loyola, of Xavier, and of Aquaviva,--those
illustrious men who headed the counter-reformation; Jesuits indeed,
but ardent in piety, and enlightened by the spirit of a progressive
age.  "He was the first," says Villari, "in the fifteenth century,
to make men feel that a new light had awakened the human race; and
thus he was a prophet of a new civilization,--the forerunner of
Luther, of Bacon, of Descartes.  Hence the drama of his life
became, after his death, the drama of Europe.  In the course of a
single generation after Luther had declared his mission, the spirit
of the Church of Rome underwent a change.  From the halls of the
Vatican to the secluded hermitages of the Apennines this revival
was felt.  Instead of a Borgia there reigned a Caraffa."  And it is
remarkable that from the day that the counter-reformation in the
Catholic Church was headed by the early Jesuits, Protestantism
gained no new victories, and in two centuries so far declined in
piety and zeal that the cities which witnessed the noblest triumphs
of Luther and Calvin were disgraced by a boasting rationalism, to
be succeeded again in our times by an arrogance of scepticism which
has had no parallel since the days of Democritus and Lucretius.
"It was the desire of Savonarola that reason, religion, and liberty
might meet in harmonious union, but he did not think a new system
of religious doctrines was necessary."

The influence of such a man cannot pass away, and has not passed
away, for it cannot be doubted that his views have been embraced by
enlightened Catholics from his day to ours,--by such men as Pascal,
Fenelon, and Lacordaire, and thousands like them, who prefer
ritualism and auricular confession, and penance, monasticism, and
an ecclesiastical monarch, and all the machinery of a complicated
hierarchy, with all the evils growing out of papal domination, to
rationalism, sectarian dissensions, irreverence, license, want of
unity, want of government, and even dispensation from the marriage
vow.  Which is worse, the physical arm of the beast, or the maniac
soul of a lying prophet?  Which is worse, the superstition and
narrowness which darken the mind and the spirit, or that unbounded
toleration which smiles on those audacious infidels who cloak their
cruel attacks on the faith of Christians with the name of a
progressive civilization?--and so far advanced that one of these
new lights, ignorant, perhaps, of everything except of the fossils
and shells and bugs and gases of the hole he has bored in, assumes
to know more of the mysteries of creation and the laws of the
universe than Moses and David and Paul, and all the Bacons and
Newtons that ever lived?  Names are nothing; it is the spirit, the
animus, which is everything.  It is the soul which permeates a
system, that I look at.  It is the Devil from which I would flee,
whatever be his name, and though he assume the form of an angel of
light, or cunningly try to persuade me, and ingeniously argue, that
there is no God.  True and good Catholics and true and good
Protestants have ever been united in one thing,--IN THIS BELIEF,
that there is a God who made the heaven and the earth, and that
there is a Christ who made atonement for the sins of the world.  It
is good morals, faith, and love to which both Catholics and
Protestants are exhorted by the Apostles.  When either Catholics or
Protestants accept the one faith and the one Lord which
Christianity alone reveals, then they equally belong to the grand
army of spiritual warriors under the banner of the Cross, though
they may march under different generals and in different divisions
and they will receive the same consolations in this world, and the
same rewards in the world to come.


Villari's Life of Savonarola; Biographie Universelle; Ranke's
History of the Popes.  There is much in "Romola," by George Eliot.
Life of Savonarola, by the Prince of Mirandola.


A.D. 1475-1564.


Michael Angelo Buonarroti--one of the Great Lights of the new
civilization--may stand as the most fitting representative of
reviving art in Europe; also as an illustrious example of those
virtues which dignify intellectual pre-eminence.  He was superior,
in all that is sterling and grand in character, to any man of his
age,--certainly in Italy; exhibiting a rugged, stern greatness
which reminds us of Dante, and of other great benefactors; nurtured
in the school of sorrow and disappointment, leading a checkered
life, doomed to envy, ingratitude, and neglect; rarely understood,
and never fully appreciated even by those who employed and honored
him.  He was an isolated man; grave, abstracted, lonely, yet not
unhappy, since his world was that of glorious and exalting ideas,
even those of grace, beauty, majesty, and harmony,--the world which
Plato lived in, and in which all great men live who seek to rise
above the transient, the false, and puerile in common life.  He was
also an original genius, remarkable in everything he attempted,
whether as sculptor, painter, or architect, and even as poet.  He
saw the archetypes of everything beautiful and grand, which are
invisible except to those who are almost divinely gifted; and he
had the practical skill to embody them in permanent forms, so that
all ages may study those forms, and rise through them to the realms
in which his soul lived.

Michael Angelo not only created, but he reproduced.  He reproduced
the glories of Grecian and Roman art.  He restored the old
civilization in his pictures, his statues, and his grand edifices.
He revived a taste for what is imperishable in antiquity.  As such
he is justly regarded as an immortal benefactor; for it is art
which gives to nations culture, refinement, and the enjoyment of
the beautiful.  Art diverts the mind from low and commonplace
pursuits, exalts the imagination, and makes its votary indifferent
to the evils of life.  It raises the soul into regions of peace and

But art is most ennobling when it is inspired by lofty and
consecrated sentiments,--like those of religion, patriotism, and
love.  Now ancient art was consecrated to Paganism.  Of course
there were noble exceptions; but as a general rule temples were
erected in honor of heathen deities.  Statues represented mere
physical strength and beauty and grace.  Pictures portrayed the
charms of an unsanctified humanity.  Hence ancient art did very
little to arrest human degeneracy; facilitated rather than retarded
the ruin of states and empires, since it did not stimulate the
virtues on which the strength of man is based: it did not check
those depraved tastes and habits which are based on egotism.

Now the restorers of ancient art cannot be said to have contributed
to the moral elevation of the new races, unless they avoided the
sensualism of Greece and Rome, and appealed purely to those eternal
ideas which the human mind, even under Pagan influences, sometimes
conceived, and which do not conflict with Christianity itself.

In considering the life and labors of Michael Angelo, then, we are
to examine whether, in the classical glories of antiquity which he
substituted for the Gothic and Mediaeval, he advanced civilization
in the noblest sense; and moreover, whether he carried art to a
higher degree than was ever attained by the Greeks and Romans, and
hence became a benefactor of the world.

In considering these points I shall not attempt a minute criticism
of his works.  I can only seize on the great outlines, the salient
points of those productions which have given him immortality.  No
lecture can be exhaustive.  If it only prove suggestive, it has
reached its end.

Michael Angelo stands out in history in the three aspects of
sculptor, painter, and architect; and that too in a country devoted
to art, and in an age when Italy won all her modern glories,
arising from the matchless works which that age produced.  Indeed,
those works will probably never be surpassed, since all the
energies of a great nation were concentrated upon their production,
even as our own age confines itself chiefly to mechanical
inventions and scientific research and speculation.  What railroads
and telegraphs and spindles and chemical tests and compounds are to
us; what philosophy was to the Greeks; what government and
jurisprudence were to the Romans; what cathedrals and metaphysical
subtilties were to the Middle Ages; what theological inquiries were
to the divines of the seventeenth century; what social urbanities
and refinements were to the French in the eighteenth century,--the
fine arts were to the Italians in the sixteenth century: a fact too
commonplace to dwell upon, and which will be conceded when we bear
in mind that no age has been distinguished for everything, and that
nations can try satisfactorily but one experiment at a time, and
are not likely to repeat it with the same enthusiasm.  As the mind
is unbounded in its capacities, and our world affords inexhaustible
fields of enterprise, the progress of the race is to be seen in the
new developments which successively appear, but in which only a
certain limit has thus far been reached.  Not in absolute
perfection in any particular sphere is this progress seen, but
rather in the variety of the experiments.  It may be doubted
whether any Grecian edifice will ever surpass the Parthenon in
beauty of proportion or fitness of ornament; or any nude statue
show grace of form more impressive than the Venus de Milo or the
Apollo Belvedere; or any system of jurisprudence be more completely
codified than that systematized by Justinian; or any Gothic church
rival the lofty expression of Cologne cathedral; or any painting
surpass the holy serenity and ethereal love depicted in Raphael's
madonnas; or any court witness such a brilliant assemblage of wits
and beauties as met at Versailles to render homage to Louis XIV.;
or any theological discussion excite such a national interest as
when Luther confronted Doctor Eck in the great hall of the
Electoral Palace at Leipsic; or any theatrical excitement such as
was produced on cultivated intellects when Garrick and Siddons
represented the sublime conceptions of the myriad-minded
Shakspeare.  These glories may reappear, but never will they shine
as they did before.  No more Olympian games, no more Roman
triumphs, no more Dodona oracles, no more Flavian amphitheatres, no
more Mediaeval cathedrals, no more councils of Nice or Trent, no
more spectacles of kings holding the stirrups of popes, no more
Fields of the Cloth of Gold, no more reigns of court mistresses in
such palaces as Versailles and Fontainbleau,--ah! I wish I could
add, no more such battlefields as Marengo and Waterloo,--only
copies and imitations of these, and without the older charm.  The
world is moving on and perpetually changing, nor can we tell what
new vanity will next arise,--vanity or glory, according to our
varying notions of the dignity and destiny of man.  We may predict
that it will not be any mechanical improvement, for ere long the
limit will be reached,--and it will be reached when the great mass
cannot find work to do, for the everlasting destiny of man is toil
and labor.  But it will be some sublime wonders of which we cannot
now conceive, and which in time will pass away for other wonders
and novelties, until the great circle is completed; and all human
experiments shall verify the moral wisdom of the eternal
revelation.  Then all that man has done, all that man can do, in
his own boastful thought, will be seen, in the light of the
celestial verities, to be indeed a vanity and a failure, not of
human ingenuity and power, but to realize the happiness which is
only promised as the result of supernatural, not mortal, strength,
yet which the soul in its restless aspirations never ceases its
efforts to secure,--everlasting Babel-building to reach the
unattainable on earth.

Now the revival of art in Italy was one of the great movements in
the series of human development.  It peculiarly characterized the
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.  It was an age of artistic
wonders, of great creations.

Italy, especially, was glorious when Michael Angelo was born, 1474;
when the rest of Europe was comparatively rude, and when no great
works in art, in poetry, in history, or philosophy had yet
appeared.  He was descended from an illustrious family, and was
destined to one of the learned professions; but he could not give
up his mind to anything but drawing,--as annoying to his father as
Galileo's experiments were to his parent; as unmeaning to him as
Gibbon's History was to George III.,--"Scribble, scribble,
scribble; Mr. Gibbon, I perceive, sir, you are always a-
scribbling."  No perception of a new power, no sympathy with the
abandonment to a specialty not indorsed by fashions and traditions,
but without which abandonment genius cannot easily be developed.
At last the father yielded, and the son was apprenticed to a
painter--a degradation in the eyes of Mediaeval aristocracy.

The celebrated Lorenzo de' Medici was then in the height of power
and fame in Florence, adored by Roscoe as the patron of artists and
poets, although he subverted the liberties of his country.  This
over-lauded prince, heir of the fortunes of a great family of
merchants, wishing to establish a school for sculpture, filled a
garden with statues, and freely admitted to it young scholars in
art.  Michael Angelo was one of the most frequent and enthusiastic
visitors to this garden, where in due time he attracted the
attention of the magnificent Lord of Florence by a head chiselled
so remarkably that he became an inmate of the palace, sat at the
table of Lorenzo, and at last was regularly adopted as one of the
Prince's family, with every facility for prosecuting his studies.
Before he was eighteen the youth had sculptured the battle of
Hercules with the Centaurs, which he would never part with, and
which still remains in his family; so well done that he himself, at
the age of eighty, regretted that he had not given up his whole
life to sculpture.

It was then as a sculptor that Michael Angelo first appears to the
historical student,--about the year 1492, when Columbus was
crossing the great unknown ocean to realize his belief in a western
passage to India.  Thus commercial enterprise began with the
revival of art, and was destined never to be separated in its
alliance with it, since commerce brings wealth, and wealth seeks to
ornament the palaces and gardens which it has created or purchased.
The sculptor's art was not born until piety had already edifices in
which to worship God, or pride the monuments in which it sought the
glories of a name; but it made rapid progress as wealth increased
and taste became refined; as the need was felt for ornaments and
symbols to adorn naked walls and empty spaces, especially statuary,
grouped or single, of men or animals,--a marble history to
interpret or reproduce consecrated associations.  Churches might do
without them; the glass stained in every color of the rainbow, the
altar shining with gold and silver and precious stones, the pillars
multiplied and diversified, and rich in foliated circles, mullions,
mouldings, groins, and bosses, and bearing aloft the arched and
ponderous roof,--one scene of dazzling magnificence,--these could
do without them; but the palaces and halls and houses of the rich
required the image of man,--and of man not emaciated and worn and
monstrous, but of man as he appeared to the classical Greeks, in
the perfection of form and physical beauty.  So the artists who
arose with the revival of commerce, with the multiplication of
human wants and the study of antiquity, sought to restore the
buried statues with the long-neglected literature and laws.  It was
in sculptured marbles that enthusiasm was most marked.  These were
found in abundance in various parts of Italy whenever the vast
debris of the ancient magnificence was removed, and were
universally admired and prized by popes, cardinals, and princes,
and formed the nucleus of great museums.

The works of Michael Angelo as a sculptor were not numerous, but in
sublimity they have never been surpassed,--non multa, sed multum.
His unfinished monument of Julius II., begun at that pontiff's
request as a mausoleum, is perhaps his greatest work; and the
statue of Moses, which formed a part of it, has been admired for
three hundred years.  In this, as in his other masterpieces,
grandeur and majesty are his characteristics.  It may have been a
reproduction, and yet it is not a copy.  He made character and
moral force the first consideration, and form subservient to
expression.  And here he differed, it is said by great critics,
from the ancients, who thought more of form than of moral
expression,--as may be seen in the faces of the Venus de Medici and
the Apollo Belvedere, matchless and inimitable as these statues are
in grace and beauty.  The Laocoon and the Dying Gladiator are
indeed exceptions, for it is character which constitutes their
chief merit,--the expression of pain, despair, and agony.  But
there is almost no intellectual or moral expression in the faces of
other famous and remarkable antique statues, only beauty and
variety of form, such as Powers exhibited in his Greek Slave,--an
inferior excellence, since it is much easier to copy the beautiful
in the nude statues which people Italy, than to express such
intellectual majesty as Michael Angelo conceived--that intellectual
expression which Story has succeeded in giving to his African
Sibyl.  Thus while the great artist retained the antique, he
superadded a loftiness such as the ancients rarely produced; and
sculpture became in his hands, not demoralizing and Pagan,
resplendent in sensual charms, but instructive and exalting,--
instructive for the marvellous display of anatomical knowledge, and
exalting from grand conceptions of dignity and power.  His
knowledge of anatomy was so remarkable that he could work without
models.  Our artists, in these days, must always have before their
eyes some nude figure to copy.

The same peculiarities which have given him fame as a sculptor he
carried out into painting, in which he is even more remarkable; for
the artists of Italy at this period often combined a skill for all
the fine arts.  In sculpture they were much indebted to the
ancients, but painting seems to have been purely a development.  In
the Middle Ages it was comparatively rude.  No noted painter arose
until Cimabue in the middle of the thirteenth century.  Before him,
painting was a lifeless imitation of models afforded by Greek
workers in mosaics; but Cimabue abandoned this servile copying, and
gave a new expression to heads, and grouped his figures.  Under
Giotto, who was contemporary with Dante, drawing became still more
correct, and coloring softer.  After him, painting was rapidly
advanced.  Pietro della Francesca was the father of perspective;
Domenico painted in oil, discovered by Van Eyck in Flanders, in
1410; Masaccio studied anatomy; gilding disappeared as a background
around pictures.  In the fifteenth century the enthusiasm for
painting became intense; even monks became painters, and every
convent and church and palace was deemed incomplete without
pictures.  But ideal beauty and harmony in coloring were still
wanting, as well as freedom of the pencil.  Then arose Da Vinci and
Michael Angelo, who practised the immutable principles by which art
could be advanced; and rapidly following in their steps, Fra
Bartolommeo, Fra Angelico, Rossi, and Andrea del Sarto made the age
an era in painting, until the art culminated in Raphael and
Corregio and Titian.  And divers cities of Italy--Bologna, Milan,
Parma, and Venice--disputed with Rome and Florence for the empire
of art; as also did many other cities which might be mentioned,
each of which has a history, each of which is hallowed by poetic
associations; so that all men who have lived in Italy, or even
visited it, feel a peculiar interest in these cities,--an interest
which they can feel in no others, even if they be such capitals as
London and Paris.  I excuse this extravagant admiration for the
wonderful masterpieces produced in that age, making marble and
canvas eloquent with the most inspiring sentiments, because, wrapt
in the joys which they excite, the cultivated and imaginative man
forgets--and rejoices that he can forget--the untidiness of that
World Capital, the many reminders of ages of unthrift, which stare
ordinary tourists in the face, and all the other disgusting
realities which philanthropists deplore so loudly in that
degenerate but classical and ever-to-be-hallowed land.  For, come
what will, in spite of past turmoils it has been the scene of the
highest glories of antiquity, calling to our minds saints and
martyrs, as well as conquerors and emperors, and revealing at every
turn their tombs and broken monuments, and all the hoary remnants
of unsurpassed magnificence, as well as preserving in churches and
palaces those wonders which were created when Italy once again
lived in the noble aspiration of making herself the centre and the
pride of the new civilization.

Da Vinci, the oldest of the great masters who immortalized that
era, died in 1519, in the arms of Francis I. of France, and Michael
Angelo received his mantle.  The young sculptor was taken away from
his chisel to paint, for Pope Julius II., the ceiling of the
Sistine Chapel.  After the death of his patron Lorenzo, he had
studied and done famous work in marble at Bologna, at Rome, and
again at Florence.  He had also painted some, and with such
immediate success that he had been invited to assist Da Vinci in
decorating a hall in the ducal palace at Florence.  But sculpture
was his chosen art, and when called to paint the Sistine Chapel, he
implored the Pope that he might be allowed to finish the mausoleum
which he had begun, and that Raphael, then dazzling the whole city
by his unprecedented talents, might be substituted for him in that
great work.  But the Pope was inflexible; and the great artist
began his task, assisted by other painters; however, he soon got
disgusted with them and sent them away, and worked alone.  For
twenty months he toiled, rarely seen, living abstemiously, absorbed
utterly in his work of creation; and the greater portion of the
compartments in the vast ceiling was finished before any other
voice than his, except the admiring voice of the Pope, pronounced
it good.

It would be useless to attempt to describe those celebrated
frescos.  Their subjects were taken from the Book of Genesis, with
great figures of sibyls and prophets.  They are now half-concealed
by the accumulated dust and smoke of three hundred years, and can
be surveyed only by reclining at full length on the back.  We see
enough, however, to be impressed with the boldness, the majesty,
and the originality of the figures,--their fidelity to nature, the
knowledge of anatomy displayed, and the disdain of inferior arts;
especially the noble disdain of appealing to false and perverted
taste, as if he painted from an exalted ideal in his own mind,
which ideal is ever associated with creative power.

It is this creative power which places Michael Angelo at the head
of the artists of his great age; and not merely the power to create
but the power of realizing the most exalted conceptions.  Raphael
was doubtless superior to him in grace and beauty, even as Titian
afterwards surpassed him in coloring.  He delighted, like Dante, in
the awful and the terrible.  This grandeur of conception was
especially seen in his Last Judgment, executed thirty years
afterwards, in completion of the Sistine Chapel, the work on which
had been suspended at the death of Julius.  This vast fresco is
nearly seventy feet in height, painted upon the wall at the end of
the chapel, as an altar-piece.  No subject could have been better
adapted to his genius than this--the day of supernal terrors (dies
irae, dies illa), when, according to the sentiments of the Middle
Ages, the doomed were subjected to every variety of physical
suffering, and when this agony of pain, rather than agony of
remorse, was expressed in tortured limbs and in faces writhing with
demoniacal despair.  Such was the variety of tortures which he
expressed, showing an unexampled richness in imaginative powers,
that people came to see it from the remotest parts of Italy.  It
made a great sensation, like the appearance of an immortal poem,
and was magnificently rewarded; for the painter received a pension
of twelve hundred golden crowns a year,--a great sum in that age.

But Michael Angelo did not paint many pieces; he confined himself
chiefly to cartoons and designs, which, scattered far and wide,
were reproduced by other artists.  His most famous cartoon was the
Battle of Pisa, the one executed for the ducal palace of Florence,
as pendant to one by Leonardo da Vinci, then in the height of his
fame.  This picture was so remarkable for the accuracy of drawing,
and the variety and form of expression, that Raphael came to
Florence on purpose to study it; and it was the power of giving
boldness and dignity and variety to the human figure, as shown in
this painting, which constitutes his great originality and
transcendent excellence.  The great creations of the painters, in
modern times as well as in the ancient, are those which represent
the human figure in its ideal excellence,--which of course implies
what is most perfect, not in any one man or woman, but in men and
women collectively.  Hence the greatest of painters rarely have
stooped to landscape painting, since no imaginary landscape can
surpass what everybody has seen in nature.  You cannot improve on
the colors of the rainbow, or the gilded clouds of sunset; or the
shadows of the mountain, or the graceful form of trees, or the
varied tints of leaves and flowers; but you can represent the
figure of a man or woman more beautiful than any one man or woman
that has ever appeared.  What mortal woman ever expressed the
ethereal beauty depicted in a Madonna of Raphael or Murillo?  And
what man ever had such a sublimity of aspect and figure as the
creations of Michael Angelo?  Why, "a beggar," says one of his
greatest critics, "arose from his hand the patriarch of poverty;
the hump of his dwarf is impressed with dignity; his infants are
men, and his men are giants."  And, says another critic, "he is the
inventor of epic painting, in that sublime circle of the Sistine
Chapel which exhibits the origin, progress, and final dispensation
of the theocracy.  He has personified motion in the cartoon of
Pisa, portrayed meditation in the prophets and sibyls of the
Sistine Chapel and in the Last Judgment, traced every attitude
which varies the human body, with every passion which sways the
human soul."  His supremacy is in the mighty soaring of his
intellectual conceptions.  Marvellous as a creator, like
Shakspeare; profound and solemn, like Dante; representing power
even in repose, and giving to the Cyclopean forms which he has
called into being a charm of moral excellence which secures our
sympathy; a firm believer in a supreme and personal God;
disciplined in worldly trials, and glowing in lofty conceptions of
justice,--he delights in portraying the stern prophets of Israel,
surrounded with an atmosphere of holiness, yet breathing compassion
on those whom they denounce; august in dignity, yet melting with
tenderness; solemn, sad, profound.  Thus was his influence pure and
exalted in an art which has too often been prostituted to please
the perverted taste of a sensual age.  The most refined and
expressive of all the arts,--as it sometimes is, and always should
be,--is the one which oftenest appeals to that which Christianity
teaches us to shun.  You may say, "Evil to him who evil thinks,"
especially ye pure and immaculate persons who have walked
uncorrupted amid the galleries of Paris, Dresden, Florence, and
Rome; but I fancy that pictures, like books, are what we choose to
make them, and that the more exquisite the art by which vice is
divested of its grossness, but not of its subtle poisons,--like the
New Heloise of Rousseau or the Wilhelm Meister of Goethe,--the more
fatally will it lead astray by the insidious entrance of an evil
spirit in the guise of an angel of light.  Art, like literature, is
neither good nor evil abstractly, but may become a savor of death
unto death, as well as of life unto life.  You cannot extinguish it
without destroying one of the noblest developments of civilization;
but you cannot have civilization without multiplying the
temptations of human society, and hence must be guarded from those
destructive cankers which, as in old Rome, eat out the virtues on
which the strength of man is based.  The old apostles, and other
great benefactors of the world, attached more value to the truths
which elevate than to the arts which soften.  It was the noble
direction which Michael Angelo gave to art which made him a great
benefactor not only of civilization, but also of art, by linking
with it the eternal ideas of majesty and dignity, as well as the
truths which are taught by divine inspiration,--another
illustration of the profound reverence which the great master minds
of the world, like Augustine, Pascal, and Bacon, have ever
expressed for the ideas which were revealed by Christianity and the
old prophets of Jehovah; ideas which many bright but inferior
intellects, in their egotistical arrogance, have sought to subvert.

Yet it was neither as sculptor nor painter that Michael Angelo left
the most enduring influence, but as architect.  Painting and
sculpture are the exclusive ornaments and possession of the rich
and favored.  But architecture concerns all men, and most men have
something to do with it in the course of their lives.  What boots
it that a man pays two thousand pounds for a picture to be shut up
in his library, and probably more valued for its rarity, or from
the caprices of fashion, than for its real merits?  But it is
something when a nation pays a million for a ridiculous building,
without regard to the object for which it is intended,--to be
observed and criticised by everybody and for succeeding
generations.  A good picture is the admiration of a few; a
magnificent edifice is the pride of thousands.  A picture
necessarily cultivates the taste of a family circle; a public
edifice educates the minds of millions.  Even the Moses of Michael
Angelo is a mere object of interest to those who visit the church
of San Pietro in Vincoli; but St. Peter's is a monument to be seen
by large populations from generation to generation.  All London
contemplates St. Paul's Church or the Palace of Westminster, but
the National Gallery may be visited by a small fraction of the
people only once a year.  Of the thousands who stand before the
Tuileries or the Madeleine not one in a hundred has visited the
gallery of the Louvre.  What material works of man so grand as
those hoary monuments of piety or pride erected three thousand
years ago, and still magnificent in their very ruins!  How imposing
are the pyramids, the Coliseum, and the Gothic cathedrals of the
Middle Ages!  And even when architecture does not rear vaulted
roofs and arches and pinnacles, or tower to dazzling heights, or
inspire reverential awe from the associations which cluster around
it, how interesting are even its minor triumphs!  Who does not stop
to admire a beautiful window, or porch, or portico?  Who does not
criticise his neighbor's house, its proportions, its general
effect, its adaptation to the uses designed?  Architecture appeal
to the common eye, and have reference to the necessities of man,
and sometimes express the consecrated sentiments of an age or a
nation.  Nor can it be prostituted, like painting and sculpture; it
never corrupts the mind, and sometimes inspires it; and if it makes
an appeal to the senses or the imagination, it is to kindle
perceptions of the severe beauty of geometrical forms.

Whoever, then, has done anything in architecture has contributed to
the necessities of man, and stimulated an admiration for what is
venerable and magnificent.  Now Michael Angelo was not only the
architect of numerous palaces and churches, but also one of the
principal architects of that great edifice which is, on the whole,
the noblest church in Christendom,--a perpetual marvel and study;
not faultless, but so imposing that it will long remain, like the
old temple of Ephesus, one of the wonders of the world.  He
completed the church without great deviation from the plan of the
first architect, Bramante, whom he regarded as the greatest
architect that had lived,--altering Bramante's plans from a Latin
to a Greek cross, the former of which was retained after Michael
Angelo's death.  But it is the interior, rather than the exterior
of St. Peter's, which shows its vast superiority over all other
churches for splendor and effect, and surprises all who are even
fresh from Cologne and Milan and Westminster.  It impresses us like
a wonder of nature rather than as the work of man,--a great work of
engineering as well as a marvel of majesty and beauty.  We are
surprised to see so vast a structure, covering nearly five acres,
so elaborately finished, nothing neglected; the lofty walls covered
with precious marbles, the side chapels filled with statues and
monuments, the altars ornamented with pictures,--and those pictures
not painted in oil, but copied in mosaic, so that they will neither
decay nor fade, but last till destroyed by violence.  What feelings
overpower the poetic mind when the glories of that interior first
blaze upon the brain; what a world of brightness, softness, and
richness; what grandeur, solidity, and strength; what unnumbered
treasures around the altars; what grand mosaics relieve the height
of the wondrous dome,--larger than the Pantheon, rising two hundred
feet from the intersection of those lofty and massive piers which
divide transept from choir and nave; what effect of magnitude after
the eye gets accustomed to the vast proportions!  Oh, what silence
reigns around!  How difficult, even for the sonorous chants of
choristers and priests to disturb that silence,--to be more than
echoes of a distant music which seems to come from the very courts
of heaven itself: to some a holy sanctuary, where one may meditate
among crowds and feel alone; where one breathes an atmosphere which
changes not with heat or cold; and where the ever-burning lamps and
clouds of incense diffusing the fragrance of the East, and the rich
dresses of the mitred priests, and the unnumbered symbols, suggest
the ritualism of that imposing worship when Solomon dedicated to
Jehovah the grandest temple of antiquity!

Truly was St. Peter's Church the last great achievement of the
popes, the crowning demonstration of their temporal dominion;
suggestive of their wealth and power, a marble history of pride and
pomp, a fitting emblem of that worship which appeals to sense
rather than to God.  And singular it was, when the great artist
reared that gigantic pile, even though it symbolized the cross, he
really gave a vital wound to that cause to which he consecrated his
noblest energies; for its lofty dome could not be completed without
the contributions of Christendom, and those contributions could not
be made without an appeal to perversions which grew out of
Mediaeval Catholicism,--even penance and self-expiation, which
stirred the holy indignation of a man who knew and declared on what
different ground justification should be based.  Thus was Luther,
in one sense, called into action by the labors of Michael Angelo;
thus was the erection of St. Peter's Church overruled in the
preaching of reformers, who would show that the money obtained by
misinterpreted "indulgences" could never purchase an acceptable
offering to God, even though the monument were filled with
Christian emblems, and consecrated by those prayers and anthems
which had been the life of blessed saints and martyrs for more than
a thousand years.

St. Peter's is not Gothic, it is a restoration of the Greek; it
belongs to what artists call the Renaissance,--a style of
architecture marked by a return to the classical models of
antiquity.  Michael Angelo brought back to civilization the old
ideas of Grecian grace and Roman majesty,--typical of the original
inspirations of the men who lived in the quiet admiration of
eternal beauty and grace; the men who built the Parthenon, and who
shaped pillars and capitals and entablatures in the severest
proportions, and fitted them with ornaments drawn from the living
world,--plants and animals, especially images of God's highest
work, even of man; and of man not worn and macerated and dismal and
monstrous, but of man when most resplendent in the perfections of
the primeval strength and beauty.  He returned to a style which
classical antiquity carried to great perfection, but which had been
neglected by the new Teutonic nations.

Nor is there evidence that Michael Angelo disdained the creations
especially seen in those Gothic monuments which are still the
objects of our admiration.  Who does not admire the church
architecture of the Middle Ages?  Of its kind it has never been
surpassed.  Geometry and art--the true and the beautiful--meet.
Nothing ever erected by the hand of man surpasses the more famous
cathedrals of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, in the richness
and variety of their symbolic decorations.  They typify the great
ideas of Christianity; they inspire feelings of awe and reverence;
they are astonishing structures, in their magnitude and in their
effect.  Monuments are they of religious zeal and poetical
inspiration,--the creations of great artists, although we scarcely
know their names; adapted to the uses designed; the expression of
consecrated sentiments; the marble history of the ages in which
they were erected,--now heavy and sombre when society was enslaved
and mournful; and then cheerful and lofty when Christianity was
joyful and triumphant.  Who ever was satisfied in contemplating the
diversified wonders of those venerable structures?  Who would lose
the impression which almost overwhelmed the mind when York minster,
or Cologne, or Milan, or Amiens was first beheld, with their lofty
spires and towers, their sculptured pinnacles, their flying
buttresses, their vaulted roofs, their long arcades, their purple
windows, their holy altars, their symbolic carvings, their majestic
outlines, their grand proportions!

But beautiful, imposing, poetical, and venerable as are these hoary
piles, they are not the all in all of art.  Suppose all the
buildings of Europe the last four hundred years had been modelled
from these churches, how gloomy would be our streets, how dark and
dingy our shops, how dismal our dwellings, how inconvenient our
hotels!  A new style was needed, at least as a supplement of the
old,--as lances and shields were giving place to fire-arms, and the
line and the plummet for the mariner's compass; as a new
civilization was creating new wants and developing the material
necessities of man.

So Michael Angelo arose, and revived the imperishable models of the
classical ages,--to be applied not merely to churches but to
palaces, civic halls, theatres, libraries, museums, banks,--all of
which have mundane purposes.  The material world had need of
conveniences, as much as the Mediaeval age had need of shrines.
Humanity was to be developed as well as the Deity to be worshipped.
The artist took the broadest views, looking upon Gothic
architecture as but one division of art,--even as truth is greater
than any system, and Christianity wider than any sect.  O, how this
Shakspeare of art would have smiled on the vague and transcendental
panegyrics of Michelet or Ruskin, and other sentimental admirers of
an age which never can return!  And how he might have laughed at
some modern enthusiasts, who trace religion to the disposition of
stones and arches, forgetting that religion is an inspiration which
comes from God, and never from the work of man's hands, which can
be only a form of idolatry.

Michael Angelo found that the ornamentations of the ancient temples
were as rich and varied as those of Mediaeval churches.  Mouldings
were discovered of incomparable elegance; the figures on
entablatures were found to be chiselled accurately from nature; the
pillars were of matchless proportions, the capitals of graceful
curvatures.  He saw beauty in the horizontal lines of the
Parthenon, as much as in the vertical lines of Cologne.  He would
not pull down the venerable monuments of religious zeal, but he
would add to them.  "Because the pointed arch was sacred, he would
not despise the humble office of the lintel."  And in southern
climates especially there was no need of those steep Gothic roofs
which were intended to prevent a great weight of rain and snow, and
where the graceful portico of the Greeks was more appropriate than
the heavy tower of the Lombards.  He would seize on everything that
the genius of past ages had indorsed, even as Christianity itself
appropriates everything human,--science, art, music, poetry,
eloquence, literature,--sanctifies it, and dedicates it to the
Lord; not for the pride of builders, but the improvement of
humanity.  Civilization may exist with Paganism, but only performs
its highest uses when tributary to Christianity.  And Christianity
accepts the tribute which even Pagan civilization offers for the
adornment of our race,--expelled from Paradise, and doomed to hard
and bitter toils,--without abdicating her more glorious office of
raising the soul to heaven.

Nor was Michael Angelo responsible for the vile mongrel
architecture which followed the Renaissance, and which disfigures
the modern capitals of Europe, any more than for the perversion of
painting in the hands of Titian.  But the indiscriminate adoption
of pillars for humble houses, shops with Roman arches, spires and
towers erected on Grecian porticoes, are no worse than schoolhouses
built like convents, and chapels designed for preaching as much as
for choral chants made dark and gloomy, where the voice of the
preacher is lost and wasted amid vaulted roofs and useless pillars.
Michael Angelo encouraged no incongruities; he himself conceived
the beautiful and the true, and admired it wherever found, even
amid the excavations of ruined cities.  He may have overrated the
buried monuments of ancient art, but how was he to escape the
universal enthusiasm of his age for the remains of a glorious and
forgotten civilization?  Perhaps his mind was wearied with the
Middle Ages, from which he had nothing more to learn, and sought a
greater fulness and a more perfect unity in the expanding forces of
a new and grander era than was ever seen by Pagan heroes or by
Gothic saints.

But I need not expatiate on the new ideas which Michael Angelo
accepted, or the impulse he gave to art in all its forms, and to
the revival of which civilization is so much indebted.  Let us turn
and give a parting look at the man,--that great creative genius who
had no superior in his day and generation.  Like the greatest of
all Italians, he is interesting for his grave experiences, his
dreary isolations, his vast attainments, his creative imagination,
and his lofty moral sentiments.  Like Dante, he stands apart from,
and superior to, all other men of his age.  He never could sport
with jesters, or laugh with buffoons, or chat with fools; and
because of this he seemed to be haughty and disdainful.  Like
Luther, he had no time for frivolities, and looked upon himself as
commissioned to do important work.  He rejoiced in labor, and knew
no rest until he was eighty-nine.  He ate that he might live, not
lived that he might eat.  For seventeen years after he was seventy-
two he worked on St. Peter's church; worked without pay, that he
might render to God his last earthly tribute without alloy,--as
religious as those unknown artists who erected Rheims and
Westminster.  He was modest and patient, yet could not submit to
the insolence of little men in power.  He even left the papal
palace in disdain when he found his labors unappreciated.  Julius
II. was forced to bend to the stern artist, not the artist to the
Pope.  Yet when Leo X. sent him to quarry marbles for nine years,
he submitted without complaint.  He had no craving for riches like
Rubens, no love of luxury like Raphael, no envy like Da Vinci.  He
never over-tasked his brain, or suffered himself, like Raphael,--
who died exhausted at thirty-seven,--to crowd three days into one,
knowing that over-work exhausts the nervous energies and shortens
life.  He never attempted to open the doors which Providence had
plainly shut against him, but waited patiently for his day, knowing
it would come; yet whether it came or not, it was all the same to
him,--a man with all the holy rapture of a Kepler, and all the
glorious self-reliance of a Newton.  He was indeed jealous of his
fame, but he was not greedy of admiration.  He worked without the
stimulus of praise,--one of the rarest things,--urged on purely by
love of art.  He loved art for its own sake, as good men love
virtue, as Palestrina loved music, as Bacon loved truth, as Kant
loved philosophy,--satisfied with itself as its own reward.  He
disliked to be patronized, but always remembered benefits, and
loved the tribute of respect and admiration, even as he scorned the
empty flatterer of fashion.  He was the soul of sincerity as well
as of magnanimity; and hence had great capacity for friendship, as
well as great power of self-sacrifice.  His friendship with
Vittoria Colonna is as memorable as that of Jerome and Paula, or
that of Hildebrand and The Countess Matilda.  He was a great
patriot, and clung to his native Florence with peculiar affection.
Living in habits of intimacy with princes and cardinals, he never
addressed them in adulatory language, but talked and acted like a
nobleman of nature, whose inborn and superior greatness could be
tested only by the ages.  He placed art on the highest pinnacle of
the temple of humanity, but dedicated that temple to the God of
heaven in whom he believed.  His person was not commanding, but
intelligence radiated from his features, and his earnest nature
commanded respect.  In childhood he was feeble, but temperance made
him strong.  He believed that no bodily decay was incompatible with
intellectual improvement.  He continued his studies until he died,
and felt that he had mastered nothing.  He was always dissatisfied
with his own productions.  Excelsior was his motto, as Alp on Alp
arose upon his view.  His studies were diversified and vast.  He
wrote poetry as well as carved stone, his sonnets especially
holding a high rank.  He was engineer as well as architect, and
fortified Florence against her enemies.  When old he showed all the
fire of youth, and his eye, like that of Moses, never became dim,
since his strength and his beauty were of the soul,--ever
expanding, ever adoring.  His temper was stern, but affectionate.
He had no mercy on a fool or a dunce, and turned in disgust from
those who loved trifles and lies.  He was guilty of no immoralities
like Raphael and Titian, being universally venerated for his stern
integrity and allegiance to duty,--as one who believes that there
really is a God to whom he is personally responsible.  He gave away
his riches, like Ambrose and Gregory, valuing money only as a means
of usefulness.  Sickened with the world, he still labored for the
world, and died in 1564, over eighty-nine years of age, in the full
assurance of eternal blessedness in heaven.

His marbles may crumble down, in spite of all that we can do to
preserve them as models of hopeless imitation; but the exalted
ideas he sought to represent by them, are imperishable and divine,
and will be subjects of contemplation when

    "Seas shall waste, the skies to smoke decay,
     Rocks fall to dust, and mountains melt away."


Grimm's Life of Michael Angelo; Vasari's Lives of the Most
Excellent Painters, Sculptors and Architects; Duppa's Life of
Michael Angelo; Bayle's Histoire de la Peinture en Italie.


A. D. 1483-1546.


Among great benefactors, Martin Luther is one of the most
illustrious.  He headed the Protestant Reformation.  This movement
is so completely inter-linked with the literature, the religion,
the education, the prosperity--yea, even the political history--of
Europe, that it is the most important and interesting of all modern
historical changes.  It is a subject of such amazing magnitude that
no one can claim to be well informed who does not know its leading
issues and developments, as it spread from Germany to Switzerland,
France, Holland, Sweden, England, and Scotland.

The central and prominent figure in the movement is Luther; but the
way was prepared for him by a host of illustrious men, in different
countries,--by Savonarola in Italy, by Huss and Jerome in Bohemia,
by Erasmus in Holland, by Wyclif in England, and by sundry others,
who detested the corruptions they ridiculed and lamented, but could
not remove.

How flagrant those evils!  Who can deny them?  The papal despotism,
and the frauds on which it was based; monastic corruptions;
penance, and indulgences for sin, and the sale of them, more
shameful still; the secular character of the clergy; the pomp,
wealth, and arrogance of bishops; auricular confession; celibacy
of the clergy, their idle and dissolute lives, their ignorance
and superstition; the worship of the images of saints, and
masses for the dead; the gorgeous ritualism of the mass; the
substitution of legends for the Scriptures, which were not
translated, or read by the people; pilgrimages, processions,
idle pomps, and the multiplication of holy days; above all, the
grinding spiritual despotism exercised by priests, with their
inquisitions and excommunications, all centring in the terrible
usurpation of the popes, keeping the human mind in bondage, and
suppressing all intellectual independence,--these evils prevailed
everywhere.  I say nothing here of the massacres, the poisonings, the
assassinations, the evil doings of various kinds of which history
accuses many of the pontiff's who sat on papal thrones.  Such evils
did not stare the German and English in the face, as they did the
Italians in the fifteenth century.  In Germany the vices were
mediaeval and monkish, not the unblushing infidelity and levities
of the Renaissance, which made a radical reformation in Italy
impossible.  In Germany and England there was left among the people
the power of conscience, a rough earnestness of character, the
sense of moral accountability, and a fear of divine judgment.

Luther was just the man for his work.  Sprung from the people,
poor, popular, fervent; educated amid privations, religious by
nature, yet with exuberant animal spirits; dogmatic, boisterous,
intrepid, with a great insight into realities; practical, untiring,
learned, generally cheerful and hopeful; emancipated from the
terrors of the Middle Ages through great struggles; progressive in
his spirit, lofty in his character, earnest in his piety, believing
in the future and in God,--such was the great leader of this
emancipating movement.  He was not so learned as Erasmus, nor so
logical as Calvin, nor so scholarly as Melancthon, nor so broad as
Cranmer.  He was not a polished man; he was often offensively rude
and brusque, and lavish of epithets.  Nor was he what we call a
modest and humble man, he was intellectually proud, disdainful, and
sometimes, when irritated, abusive.  None of his pictures represent
him as a refined-looking man, scarcely intellectual, but coarse and
sensual rather, as Socrates seemed to the Athenians.  But with
these defects and drawbacks he had just such traits and gifts as
fitted him to lead a great popular movement,--bold, audacious, with
deep convictions and rapid intellectual processes; prompt, decided,
kind-hearted, generous, brave; in sympathy with the people,
eloquent, Herculean in energies, with an amazing power of work;
electrical in his smile and in his words, and always ready for
contingencies.  Had he been more polished, more of a gentleman,
more fastidious, more scrupulous, more ascetic, more modest, he
would have shrunk from his tasks; he would have lost the elasticity
of his mind, he would have been discouraged.  Even Saint Augustine,
a broader and more catholic man than Luther, could not have done
his work.  He was a sort of converted Mirabeau.  He loved the
storms of battle; he impersonated revolutionary ideas.  But he was
a man of thought, as well as of action.

Luther's origin was of the humblest.  Born in Eisleben, Nov. 10,
1483, the son of a poor peasant, his childhood was spent in penury.
He was religious from a boy.  He was religious when he sang hymns
for a living, from house to house, before the people of Mansfield
while at school there, and also at the schools of Magdeburg and
Eisenach, where he still earned his bread by his voice.  His
devotional character and his music gained for him a friend who
helped him through his studies, till at the age of eighteen he
entered the University at Erfurt, where he distinguished himself in
the classics and the Mediaeval philosophy.  And here his religious
meditations led him to enter the Augustinian monastery: he entered
that strict retreat, as others did, to lead a religious life.  The
great question of all time pressed upon his mind with peculiar
force, "What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?"  And it
shows that religious life in Germany still burned in many a heart,
in spite of the corruptions of the Church, that a young man like
Luther should seek the shades of monastic seclusion, for meditation
and study.  He was a monk, like other monks; but it seems he had
religious doubts and fears more than ordinary monks.  At first he
conformed to the customary ways of men seeking salvation.  He
walked in the beaten road, like Saint Dominic and Saint Francis; he
accepted the great ideas of the Middle Ages, which he was
afterwards to repudiate,--he was not beyond them, or greater than
they were, at first; he fasted like monks, and tormented his body
with austerities, as they did from the time of Benedict, he sang in
the choir from early morn, and practised the usual severities.  But
his doubts and fears remained.  He did not, like other monks, find
peace and consolation; he did not become seraphic, like Saint
Francis, or Bonaventura, or Loyola.  Perhaps his nature repelled
asceticism; perhaps his inquiring and original mind wanted
something better and surer to rest upon than the dreams and visions
of a traditionary piety.  Had he been satisfied with the ordinary
mode of propitiating the Deity, he would never have emerged from
his retreat.

To a scholar the monastery had great attractions, even in that age.
It was still invested with poetic associations and consecrated
usages; it was indorsed by the venerable Fathers of the Church; it
was favorable to study, and free from the noisy turmoil of the
world.  But with all these advantages Luther was miserable.  He
felt the agonies of an unforgiven soul in quest of peace with God;
he could not get rid of them, they pursued him into the immensity
of an intolerable night.  He was in despair.  What could
austerities do for HIM?  He hungered and thirsted after the truth,
like Saint Augustine in Milan.  He had no taste for philosophy, but
he wanted the repose that philosophers pretended to teach.  He was
then too narrow to read Plato or Boethius.  He was a self-tormented
monk without relief; he suffered all that Saint Paul suffered at
Tarsus.  In some respects this monastic pietism resembled the
pharisaism of Saul, in the schools of Tarsus,--a technical, rigid,
and painful adherence to rules, fastings, stated prayers, and petty
ritualisms, which, originally framed as aids to grace, by
repetition lose their power; based on the enormous error that man
may win heaven by external practices, in which, however, he can
never perfect himself, though he were to live, like Simeon
Stylites, on the top of a pillar for twenty years without once
descending; an eternal unrest, because perfection cannot be
attained; the most terrible slavery to which a man can be
conscientiously doomed, verging into hypocrisy and fanaticism.

It was then that a kind and enlightened friend visited him, and
recommended him to read the Bible.  The Bible never has been a
sealed book to monks; it was ever highly prized; no convent was
without it: but it was read with the spectacles of the Middle Ages.
Repentance meant penance.  In Saint Paul's Epistles Luther
discovers the true ground of justification,--not works, but faith;
for Paul had passed through similar experiences.  Works are good,
but faith is the gift of God.  Works are imperfect with the best of
men, even the highest form of works, to a Mediaeval eye,--self-
expiation and penance; but faith is infinite, radiating from divine
love; faith is a boundless joy,--salvation by the grace of God, his
everlasting and precious boon to people who cannot climb to heaven
on their hands and knees, the highest gift which God ever bestowed
on men,--eternal life.

Luther is thus emancipated from the ideas of the Middle Ages and of
the old Syriac monks and of the Jewish Pharisees.  In his
deliverance he has new hopes and aspirations; he becomes cheerful,
and devotes himself to his studies.  Nothing can make a man more
cheerful and joyful than the cordial reception of a gift which is
infinite, a blessing which is too priceless to be bought.  The
pharisee, the monk, the ritualist, is gloomy, ascetic, severe,
intolerant; for he is not quite sure of his salvation.  A man who
accepts heaven as a gift is full of divine enthusiasm, like Saint
Augustine.  Luther now comprehends Augustine, the great doctor of
the Church, embraces his philosophy and sees how much it has been
misunderstood.  The rare attainments and interesting character of
Luther are at last recognized; he is made a professor of divinity
in the new university, which the Elector of Saxony has endowed, at
Wittenberg.  He becomes a favorite with the students; he enters
into the life of the people.  He preaches with wonderful power, for
he is popular, earnest, original, fresh, electrical.  He is a monk
still, but the monk is merged in the learned doctor and eloquent
preacher.  He does not yet even dream of attacking monastic
institutions, or the Pope; he is a good Catholic in his obedience
to authorities; but he hates the Middle Ages, and all their
ghostly, funereal, burdensome, and technical religious customs.  He
is human, almost convivial,--fond of music, of poetry, of society,
of friends, and of the good cheer of the social circle.  The people
love Luther, for he has a broad humanity.  They never did love
monks, only feared their maledictions.

About this time the Pope was in great need of money: this was Leo
X.  He not only squandered his vast revenues in pleasures and
pomps, like any secular monarch; he not only collected pictures and
statues,--but he wanted to complete St. Peter's Church.  It was
the crowning glory of papal magnificence.  Where was he to get
money except from the contributions of Christendom?  But kings and
princes and bishops and abbots were getting tired of this
everlasting drain of money to Rome, in the shape of annats and
taxes; so Leo revived an old custom of the Dark Ages,--he would
sell "plenary indulgences"; and he sent his agents to market them
in every country.

The agent in Saxony was a very popular preacher, a shrewd Dominican
prior by the name of Tetzel.  Luther abhorred him, not so much
because he was vulgar and noisy, but because his infamous business
derogated from the majesty of God and religion.  In wrathful
indignation he preached against Tetzel and his practices,--the
abominable traffic of indulgences.  Only God can forgive sins.  It
seemed to him to be an insult to the human understanding that any
man, even a pope, should grant an absolution for crime.  These
indulgences also provided the release of deceased friends from
purgatory.  And it was useless to preach against them so long as
the principles on which they were based were not assailed.
Everybody believed in penance; everybody believed that this, in
some form, would insure salvation.  It consisted in a temporal
penalty or punishment inflicted on the sinner after confession
to the priest, as a condition of his receiving absolution
or an authoritative pardon of his sin by the Church as God's
representative.  And the indulgence was originally an official
remission of this penalty, to be gained by offerings of money to
the Church for its sacred uses.  However ingenious this theory, the
practice inevitably ran into corruption.  The people who bought,
the agents who sold, the popes who dispensed, these indulgences
wrested them from their original intention.

Fortunately, in those times in Germany everybody felt he had a soul
to save.  Neither the popes nor the Church ever lost that idea.
The clergy ruled by its force,--by stimulating fears of divine
wrath, whereby the wretched sinner would be physically tormented
forever, unless he escaped by a propitiation of the Deity,--the
common form of which was penance, deeds of supererogation,
donations to the Church, self-expiation, works of fear and
penitence, which commended themselves to the piety of the age; and
this piety Luther now believed to be unenlightened, not the kind
enjoined by Christ or Paul.

So, to instruct his students and the people as to the true ground
of justification, which he had worked out from the study of the
Bible and Saint Augustine amid the agonies of a tormented
conscience, Luther prepared his theses,--those celebrated ninety-
five propositions, which he affixed to the gates of the church of
Wittenberg, and which excited a great sensation throughout Northern
Germany, reaching even the eyes of the Pope himself, who did not
comprehend their tendency, but was struck with their power.  "This
Doctor Luther," said he, "is a man of fine genius."  The students
of the university, and the people generally, were kindled as if by
Pentecostal fires.  The new invention of printing scattered those
theses everywhere, far and near; they reached the humble hamlet as
well as the palaces of bishops and princes.  They excited immediate
and immense enthusiasm: there was freshness in them, originality,
and great ideas.  We cannot wonder at the enthusiasm which those
religious ideas excited nearly four hundred years ago when we
reflect that they were not cant words then, not worn-out
platitudes, not dead dogmas, but full of life and exciting
interest,--even as were the watchwords of Rousseau--"Liberty,
Fraternity, Equality"--to Frenchmen, on the outbreak of their
political revolution.  And as those watchwords--abstractly true--
roused the dormant energies of the French to a terrible conflict
against feudalism and royalty, so those theses of Luther kindled
Germany into a living flame.  And why?  Because they presented more
cheerful and comforting grounds of justification than had been
preached for one thousand years,--faith rather than penance; for
works hinged on penance.  The underlying principle of those
propositions was GRACE,--divine grace to save the world,--the
principle of Paul and Saint Augustine; therefore not new, but
forgotten; a mighty comfort to miserable people, mocked and cheated
and robbed by a venal and a gluttonous clergy.  Even Taine
admits that this doctrine of grace is the foundation stone of
Protestantism as it spread over Europe in the sixteenth century.
In those places where Protestantism is dead,--where rationalism or
Pelagian speculations have taken its place,--this fact may be
denied; but the history of Northern Europe blazes with it,--a fact
which no historian of any honesty can deny.

Very likely those who are not in sympathy with this great idea of
Luther, Augustine, and Paul may ignore the fact,--even as Caleb
Cushing once declared to me, that the Reformation sprang from the
desire of Luther to marry Catherine Bora; and that learned and
ingenious sophist overwhelmed me with his citations from infidel
and ribald Catholic writers like Audin.  Greater men than he deny
that grace underlies the whole original movement of the reformers,
and they talk of the Reformation as a mere revolt from Rome, as a
war against papal corruption, as a protest against monkery and the
dark ages, brought about by the spirit of a new age, the onward
march of humanity, the necessary progress of society.  I admit the
secondary causes of the Reformation, which are very important,--the
awakened spirit of inquiry in the sixteenth century, the revival of
poetry and literature and art, the breaking up of feudalism,
fortunate discoveries, the introduction of Greek literature, the
Renaissance, the disgusts of Christendom, the voice of martyrs
calling aloud from their funeral pyres; yea, the friendly hand of
princes and scholars deploring the evils of a corrupted Church.
But how much had Savonarola, or Erasmus, or John Huss, or the
Lollards aroused the enthusiasm of Europe, great and noble as were
their angry and indignant protests?  The genius of the Reformation
in its early stages was a RELIGIOUS movement, not a political or a
moral one, although it became both political and moral.  Its
strength and fervor were in the new ideas of salvation,--the same
that, gave power to the early preachers of Christianity,--not
denunciations of imperialism and slavery, and ten thousand evils
which disgraced the empire, but the proclamation of the ideas of
Paul as to the grounds of hope when the soul should leave the body;
the salvation of the Lord, declared to a world in bondage.  Luther
kindled the same religious life among the masses that the apostles
did; the same that Wyclif did, and by the same means,--the
declaration of salvation by belief in the incarnate Son of God,
shedding his blood in infinite love.  Why, see how this idea spread
through Germany, Switzerland, and France, and took possession of
the minds of the English and Scotch yeomanry, with all their stern
and earnest ruggedness.  See how it was elaborately expanded by
Calvin, how it gave birth to a new and strong theology, how it
entered into the very life of the people, especially among the
Puritans,--into the souls of even Cromwell's soldiers.  What made
"The Pilgrim's Progress" the most popular book ever published in
England?  Because it reflected the theology of the age, the
religion of the people, all based on Luther's theses,--the revival
of those old doctrines which converted the Roman provinces from
Paganism.  I do not care if these statements are denied by
Catholics, or rationalists, or progressive savants.  What is it to
me that the old views have become unfashionable, or are derided, or
are dead, in the absorbing materialism of this Epicurean yet
brilliant age?  I know this, that I am true to history when I
declare that the glorious Reformation in which we all profess to
rejoice, and which is the greatest movement, and the best, of our
modern time,--susceptible of indefinite application, interlinked
with the literature and the progress of England and America,--took
its first great spiritual start from the ideas of Luther as to
justification.  This was the voice of heaven's messenger
proclaiming aloud, so that the heavens re-echoed to the glorious
and triumphant annunciation, and the earth heard and rejoiced with
exceeding joy, "Behold, I send tidings of salvation: it is grace,
divine grace, which shall undermine the throne of popes and pagans,
and reconcile a fallen world to God!"

Yes, it was a Christian philosopher, a theologian,--a doctor of
divinity, working out in his cell and study, through terrible
internal storm and anguish, and against the whole teaching of monks
and bishops and popes and universities, from the time of
Charlemagne, the same truth which Augustine learned in his
wonderful experiences,--who started the Reformation in the right
direction; who became the greatest benefactor of these modern
times, because he based his work on everlasting and positive ideas,
which had life in them, and hope, and the sanction of divine
authority; thus virtually invoking the aid of God Almighty to bring
about and restore the true glory of his Church on earth,--a glory
forever to be identified with the death of his Son.  I see no law
of progress here, no natural and necessary development of nations;
I see only the light and power of individual genius, brushing away
the cobwebs and sophistries and frauds of the Middle Ages, and
bringing out to the gaze of Europe the vital truth which, with
supernatural aid, made in old times the day of Pentecost.  And I
think I hear the emancipated people of Saxony exclaim, from the
Elector downwards, "If these ideas of Doctor Luther are true, and
we feel them to be, then all our penances have been worse than
wasted,--we have been Pagans.  Away with our miserable efforts to
scale the heavens!  Let us accept what we cannot buy; let us make
our palaces and our cottages alike vocal with the praises of Him
whom we now accept as our Deliverer, our King, and our Eternal

Thus was born the first great idea of the Reformation, out of
Luther's brain, out of his agonized soul, and sent forth to
conquer, and produce changes most marvellous to behold.

It is not my object to discuss the truth or error of this
fundamental doctrine.  There are many who deny it, even among
Protestants.  I am not a controversialist, or a theologian:
I am simply an historian.  I wish to show what is historically
true and clear; and I defy all the scholars and critics of the
world to prove that this doctrine is not the basal pillar of
the Reformation of Luther.  I wish to make emphatic the statement
that JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH was, as an historical fact, the great
primal idea of Luther; not new, but new to him and to his age.

I have now to show how this idea led to others; how they became
connected together; how they produced not only a spiritual
movement, but political, moral, and intellectual forces, until all
Europe was in a blaze.

Thus far the agitation under Luther had been chiefly theological.
It was not a movement against popes or institutions, it was not
even the vehement denunciation against sin in high places, which
inflamed the anger of the Pope against Savonarola.  To some it
doubtless seemed like the old controversy between Augustine and
Pelagius, like the contentions between Dominican and Franciscan
monks.  But it was too important to escape the attention of even
Leo X., although at first he gave it no thought.  It was a
dangerous agitation; it had become popular; there was no telling
where it would end, or what it might not assail.  It was deemed
necessary to stop the mouth of this bold and intellectual Saxon

So the voluptuous, infidel, elegant Pope--accomplished in manners
and pagan arts and literature--sent one of the most learned men of
the Church which called him Father, to argue with Doctor Luther,
confute him, conquer him,--deeming this an easy task.  But the
doctor could not be silenced.  His convictions were grounded on the
rock; not on Peter, but on the rock from which Peter derived his
name.  All the papal legates and cardinals in the world could
neither convince nor frighten him.  He courted argument; he
challenged the whole Church to refute him.

Then the schools took up the controversy.  All that was imposing in
names, in authority, in traditions, in associations, was arrayed
against him.  They came down upon him with the whole array of
scholastic learning.  The great Goliath of controversy in that day
was Doctor Eck, who challenged the Saxon monk to a public
disputation at Leipsic.  All Germany was interested.  The question
at issue stirred the nation to its very depths.

The disputants met in the great hall of the palace of the Elector.
Never before was seen in Germany such an array of doctors and
theologians and dignitaries.  It rivalled in importance and dignity
the Council of Nice, when the great Constantine presided, to settle
the Trinitarian controversy.  The combatants were as great as
Athanasius and Arius,--as vehement, as earnest, though not so
fierce.  Doctor Eck was superior to Luther in reputation, in
dialectical skill, in scholastic learning.  He was the pride of the
universities.  Luther, however, had deeper convictions, more
genius, greater eloquence, and at that time he was modest.

The champion of the schools, of sophistries and authorities, of
dead-letter literature, of quibbles, refinements, and words, soon
overwhelmed the Saxon monk with his citations, decrees of councils,
opinions of eminent ecclesiastics, the literature of the Church,
its mighty authority.  He was on the eve of triumph.  Had the
question been settled, as Doctor Eck supposed, by authorities, as
lawyers and pedants would settle the question, Luther would have
been beaten.  But his genius came to his aid, and the consciousness
of truth.

He swept away the premises of the argument.  He denied the supreme
authority of popes and councils and universities.  He appealed to
the Scriptures, as the only ultimate ground of authority.  He did
not deny authority, but appealed to it in its highest form.  This
was unexpected ground.  The Church was not prepared openly to deny
the authority of Saint Paul or Saint Peter; and Luther, if he did
not gain his case, was far from being beaten, and--what was of
vital importance to his success--he had the Elector and the people
with him.

Thus was born the second great idea of the Reformation,--the
supreme authority of the Scriptures, to which Protestants of every
denomination have since professed to cling.  They may differ in the
interpretation of texts,--and thus sects and parties gradually
arose, who quarrelled about their meaning,--but none of them deny
their supreme authority.  All the issues of Protestants have been
on the meaning of texts, on the interpretation of the Scriptures,--
to be settled by learning and reason.  It was not until rationalism
arose, and rejected plain and obvious declarations of Scripture, as
inconsistent with reason, as interpolations, as uninspired, that
the authority of the Scriptures was weakened; and these
rationalists--and the land of Luther became full of them--have gone
infinitely beyond the Catholics in undermining the Bible.  The
Catholics never have taken such bold ground as the rationalists
respecting the Scriptures.  The Catholic Church still accepts the
Bible, but explains away the meaning of many of its doctrines; the
rationalists would sweep away its divine authority, extinguish
faith, and leave the world in night.  Satan came into the
theological school of the Protestants, disguised in the robes of
learned doctors searching for truth, and took away the props of
religious faith.  This was worse than baptizing repentance with the
name of penance.  Better have irrational fears of hell than no
fears at all, for this latter is Paganism.  Pagan culture and Pagan
philosophy could not keep society together in the old Roman world;
but Mediaeval appeals to the fears of men did keep them from crimes
and force upon them virtues.

The triumph of Luther at Leipsic was, however, incomplete.  The
Catholics rallied after their stunning blow.  They said, in
substance: "We, too, accept the Scriptures; we even put them above
Augustine and Thomas Aquinas and the councils.  But who can
interpret them?  Can peasants and women, or even merchants and
nobles?  The Bible, though inspired, is full of difficulties; there
are contradictory texts.  It is a sealed book, except to the
learned; only the Church can reconcile its difficulties.  And what
we mean by the Church is the clergy,--the learned clergy,
acknowledging allegiance to their spiritual head, who in matters of
faith is also infallible.  We can accept nothing which is not
indorsed by popes and councils.  No matter how plain the Scriptures
seem to be, on certain disputed points only the authority of the
Church can enlighten and instruct us.  We distrust reason,--that
is, what you call reason,--for reason can twist anything, and
pervert it; but what the Church says, is true,--its collective
intelligence is our supreme law [thus putting papal dogmas above
reason, above the literal and plain declarations of Scripture].
Moreover, since the Scriptures are to be interpreted only by
priests, it is not a safe book for the people.  We, the priests,
will keep it out of their hands.  They will get notions from it
fatal to our authority; they will become fanatics: they will, in
their conceit, defy us."

Then Luther rose, more powerful, more eloquent more majestic than
before; he rose superior to himself.  "What," said he, "keep the
light of life from the people; take away their guide to heaven;
keep them in ignorance of what is most precious and most exalting;
deprive them of the blessed consolations which sustain the soul in
trial and in death; deny the most palpable truths, because your
dignitaries put on them a construction to bolster up their power!
What an abomination! what treachery to heaven! what peril to the
souls of men!  Besides, your authorities differ.  Augustine takes
different ground from Pelagius; Bernard from Abelard; Thomas
Aquinas from Dun Scotus.  Have not your grand councils given
contradictory decisions?  Whom shall we believe?  Yea, the popes
themselves, your infallible guides,--have they not at different
times rendered different decisions?  What would Gregory I. say to
the verdicts of Gregory VII.?

"No, the Scriptures are the legacy of the early Church to universal
humanity; they are the equal and treasured inheritance of all
nations and tribes and kindreds upon the face of the earth, and
will be till the day of judgment.  It was intended that they should
be diffused, and that every one should read them, and interpret
them each for himself; for he has a soul to save, and he dare not
intrust such a precious thing as his soul into the keeping of
selfish and ambitious priests.  Take away the Bible from a peasant,
or a woman, or any layman, and cannot the priest, armed with the
terrors and the frauds of the Middle Ages, shut up his soul in a
gloomy dungeon, as noisome and funereal as your Mediaeval crypts?
And will you, ye boasted intellectual guides of the people,
extinguish reason in this world in reference to the most momentous
interests?  What other guide has a man but his reason?  And you
would prevent this very reason from being enlightened by the
Gospel!  You would obscure reason itself by your traditions, O ye
blind leaders of the blind!  O ye legal and technical men,
obscuring the light of truth!  O ye miserable Pharisees, ye bigots,
ye selfish priests, tenacious of your power, your inventions, your
traditions,--will ye withhold the free redemption, God's greatest
boon, salvation by the blood of Christ, offered to all the world?
Yea, will you suffer the people to perish, soul and body, because
you fear that, instructed by God himself, they will rebel against
your accursed despotism?  Have you considered what a mighty crime
you thus commit against God, against man?  Ye rule by an infernal
appeal to the superstitious fears of men; but how shall ye
yourselves, for such crimes, escape the damnation of that hell into
which you would push your victims unless they obey YOU?

"No, I say, let the Scriptures be put into the hands of everybody;
let every one interpret them for himself, according to the light he
has; let there be private judgment; let spiritual liberty be
revived, as in Apostolic days.  Then only will the people be
emancipated from the Middle Ages, and arise in their power and
majesty, and obey the voice of enlightened conscience, and be true
to their convictions, and practise the virtues which Christianity
commands, and obey God rather than man, and defy all sorts of
persecution and martyrdom, having a serene faith in those blessed
promises which the Gospel unfolds.  Then will the people become
great, after the conflicts of generations, and put under their feet
the mockeries and lies and despotisms which grind them to despair."

Thus was born the third great idea of the Reformation, out of
Luther's brain, a logical sequence from the first idea,--the right
of private judgment, religious liberty, call it what you will; a
great inspiration which in after times was destined to march
triumphantly over battle-fields, and give dignity and power to the
people, and lead to the reception of great truths obscured by
priests for one thousand years; the motive of an irresistible
popular progress, planting England with Puritans, and Scotland with
heroes, and France with martyrs, and North America with colonists;
yea, kindling a fervid religions life; creating such men as Knox
and Latimer and Taylor and Baxter and Howe, who owed their
greatness to the study of the Scriptures,--at last put into every
hand, and scattered far and wide, even to India and China.  Can
anybody doubt the marvellous progress of Protestant nations in
consequence of the translation and circulation of the Scriptures?
How these are bound up with their national life, and all their
social habits, and all their religious aspirations; how they have
elevated the people, ten hundred millions of times more than the
boasted Renaissance which sprang from apostate and infidel and
Pagan Italy, when she dug up the buried statues of Greece and Rome,
and revived the literature and arts which soften, but do not save--
for private judgment and religious liberty mean nothing more and
nothing less than the unrestricted perusal of the Scriptures as the
guide of life.

This right of private judgment, on which Luther was among the first
to insist, and of which certainly he was the first great champion
in Europe, was in that age a very bold idea, as well as original.
It flattered as well as stimulated the intellect of the people, and
gave them dignity; it gave to the Reformation its popular
character; it appealed to the mind and heart of Christendom.  It
gave consolation to the peasantry of Europe; for no family was too
poor to possess a Bible, the greatest possible boon and treasure,--
read and pondered in the evening, after hard labors and bitter
insults; read aloud to the family circle, with its inexhaustible
store of moral wealth, its beautiful and touching narratives, its
glorious poetry, its awful prophecies, its supernal counsels, its
consoling and emancipating truths,--so tender and yet so exalting,
raising the soul above the grim trials of toil and poverty into the
realms of seraphic peace and boundless joy.  The Bible even gave
hope to heretics.  All sects and parties could take shelter under
it; all could stand on the broad platform of religion, and survey
from it the wonders and glories of God.  At last men might even
differ on important points of doctrine and worship, and yet be
Protestants.  Religious liberty became as wide in its application
as the unity of the Church.  It might create sects, but those sects
would be all united as to the value of the Scriptures and their
cardinal declarations.  On this broad basis John Milton could shake
hands with John Knox, and John Locke with Richard Baxter, and
Oliver Cromwell with Queen Elizabeth, and Lord Bacon with William
Penn; and Bishop Butler with John Wesley, and Jonathan Edwards with
Doctor Channing.

This idea of private judgment is what separates the Catholics from
the Protestants; not most ostensibly, but most vitally.  Many are
the Catholics who would accept Luther's idea of grace, since it is
the idea of Saint Augustine; and of the supreme authority of the
Scriptures, since they were so highly valued by the Fathers: but
few of the Catholic clergy have ever tolerated religious liberty,--
that is, the interpretation of the Scriptures by the people,--for
it is a vital blow to their supremacy, their hierarchy, and their
institutions.  They will no more readily accept it than William the
Conqueror would have accepted the Magna Charta; for the free
circulation and free interpretation of the Scriptures are the
charter of human liberties fought for at Leipsic by Gustavus
Adolphus, at Ivry by Henry IV.  This right of worshipping God
according to the dictates of conscience, enlightened by the free
reading of the Scriptures, is just what the "invincible armada" was
sent by Philip II. to crush; just what Alva, dictated by Rome,
sought to crush in Holland; just what Louis XIV., instructed by the
Jesuits, did crush out in France, by the revocation of the Edict of
Nantes.  The Satanic hatred of this right was the cause of most of
the martyrdoms and persecutions of the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries.  It was the declaration of this right which emancipated
Europe from the dogmas of the Middle Ages, the thraldom of Rome,
and the reign of priests.  Why should not Protestants of every
shade cherish and defend this sacred right?  This is what made
Luther the idol and oracle of Germany, the admiration of half
Europe, the pride and boast of succeeding ages, the eternal hatred
of Rome; not his religious experiences, not his doctrine of
justification by faith, but the emancipation he gave to the mind of
the world.  This is what peculiarly stamps Luther as a man of
genius, and of that surprising audacity and boldness which only
great geniuses evince when they follow out the logical sequence of
their ideas, and penetrate at a blow the hardened steel of vulcanic
armor beneath which the adversary boasts.

Great was the first Leo, when from his rifled palace on one of the
devastated hills of Rome he looked out upon the Christian world,
pillaged, sacked, overrun with barbarians, full of untold
calamities,--order and law crushed; literature and art prostrate;
justice a byword; murders and assassinations unavenged; central
power destroyed; vice, in all its enormities, vulgarities, and
obscenities, rampant and multiplying itself; false opinions gaining
ground; soldiers turned into banditti, and senators into slaves;
women shrieking in terror; bishops praying in despair; barbarism
everywhere, paganism in danger of being revived; a world
disordered, forlorn, and dismal; Pandemonium let loose, with
howling and shouting and screaming, in view of the desolation
predicted alike by Jeremy the prophet and the Cumaean sybil;--great
was that Leo, when in view of all this he said, with old patrician
heroism, "I will revive government once more upon this earth; not
by bringing back the Caesars, but by declaring a new theocracy, by
making myself the vicegerent of Christ, by virtue of the promise
made to Peter, whose successor I am, in order to restore law,
punish crime, head off heresy, encourage genius, conserve peace,
heal dissensions, protect learning; appealing to love, but ruling
by fear.  Who but the Church can do this?  A theocracy will create
a new civilization.  Not a diadem, but a tiara will I wear, the
symbol of universal sovereignty, before which barbarism shall flee
away, and happiness be restored once more."  As he sent out his
legates, he fulminated his bulls and established tribunals of
appeal; he made a net-work of ecclesiastical machinery, and
proclaimed the dangers of eternal fire, and brought kings and
princes before him on their knees.  The barbaric world was saved.

But greater than Leo was Luther, when--outraged by the corruptions
of this spiritual despotism, and all the false and Pagan notions
which had crept into theology, obscuring the light of faith and
creating an intolerable bondage, and opposing the new spirit of
progress which science and art and industry and wealth had invoked
--he courageously yet modestly comes forward as the champion of a
new civilization, and declares, with trumpet tones, "Let there be
private judgment; liberty of conscience; the right to read and
interpret Scripture, in spite of priests! so that men may think for
themselves, not only on the doctrines of eternal salvation but on
all the questions to be deduced from them, or interlinked with the
past or present or future institutions of the world.  Then shall
arise a new creation from dreaded destruction, and emancipated
millions shall be filled with an unknown enthusiasm, and advance
with the new weapons of reason and truth from conquering to
conquer, until all the strongholds of sin and Satan shall be
subdued, and laid triumphantly at the foot of His throne whose
right it is to reign."

Thus far Luther has appeared as a theologian, a philosopher, a man
of ideas, a man of study and reflection, whom the Catholic Church
distrusts and fears, as she always has distrusted genius and manly
independence; but he is henceforth to appear as a reformer, a
warrior, to carry out his ideas and also to defend himself against
the wrath he has provoked; impelled step by step to still bolder
aggressions, until he attacks those venerable institutions which he
once respected,--all the dexterous inventions of Mediaeval
despotism, all the machinery by which Europe had been governed for
one thousand years; yea, the very throne of the Pope himself, whom
he defies, whom he insults, and against whom he urges Christendom
to rebel.  As a combatant, a warrior, a reformer, his person and
character somewhat change.  He is coarser, he is more sensual-
looking, he drinks more beer, he tells more stories, he uses harder
names; he becomes arrogant, dogmatic; he dictates and commands; he
quarrels with his friends; he is imperious; he fears nobody, and is
scornful of old usages; he marries a nun; he feels that he is a
great leader and general, and wields new powers; he is an executive
and administrative man, for which his courage and insight and will
and Herculean physical strength wonderfully fit him,--the man for
the times, the man to head a new movement, the forces of an age of
protest and rebellion and conquest.

How can I compress into a few sentences the demolitions and
destructions which this indignant and irritated reformer now makes
in Germany, where he is protected by the Elector from Papal
vengeance?  Before the reconstruction, the old rubbish must be
cleared away, and Augean stables must be cleansed.  He is now at
issue with the whole Catholic regime, and the whole Catholic world
abuse him.  They call him a glutton, a wine-bibber, an adulterer, a
scoffer, an atheist, an imp of Satan; and he calls the Pope the
scarlet mother of abominations, Antichrist, Babylon.  That age is
prodigal in offensive epithets; kings and prelates and doctors
alike use hard words.  They are like angry children and women and
pugilists; their vocabulary of abuse is amusing and inexhaustible.
See how prodigal Shakspeare and Ben Jonson are in the language of
vituperation.  But they were all defiant and fierce, for the age
was rough and earnest.  The Pope, in wrath, hurls the old weapons
of the Gregorys and the Clements.  But they are impotent as the
darts of Priam; Luther laughs at them, and burns the Papal bull
before a huge concourse of excited students and shopkeepers and
enthusiastic women.  He severs himself completely from Rome, and
declares an unextinguishable warfare.  He destroys and breaks up
the ceremonies of the Mass; he pulls down the consecrated altars,
with their candles and smoking incense and vessels of silver and
gold, since they are the emblems of Jewish and Pagan worship; he
tears off the vestments of priests, with their embroideries and
their gildings and their millineries and their laces, since these
are made to impose on the imagination and appeal to the sense; he
breaks up monasteries and convents, since they are dens of infamy,
cages of unclean birds, nurseries of idleness and pleasure, abodes
at the best of narrow-minded, ascetic Asiatic recluses, who rejoice
in penance and self-expiation and other modes of propitiating the
Deity, like soofists and fakirs and Braminical devotees.  In
defiance of the most sacred of the institutions of the Middle Ages,
he openly marries Catherine Bora and sets up a hilarious household,
and yet a household of prayer and singing.  He abolishes the old
Gregorian service; and for Mediaeval chants, monotonous and gloomy,
he prepares hymns and songs,--not for boys and priests to intone in
the distant choir, but for the whole congregation to sing, inspired
by the melodies of David and the exulting praises of a Saviour who
redeems from darkness into light.  How grand that hymn of his,--

    "A mighty fortress is our God,
       A bulwark never failing."

He makes worship more heartfelt, and revives apostolic usages:
preaching and exhortation and instruction from the pulpit,--a
forgotten power.  He appeals to reason rather than sense; denounces
superstitions, while he rebukes sins; and kindles a profound
fervor, based on the recognition of new truths.  He is not fully
emancipated from the traditions of the past; for he retains the
doctrine of transubstantiation, and keeps up the holidays of the
Church, and allows recreation on the Sabbath.  But what he thinks
the most of is the circulation of the Scriptures among plain
people.  So he translates them into German.  And this, not the
first but the best translation, is done so well that it becomes the
standard of the German language, as the Bible of Tindale helped to
form the English tongue; and not only so, but it has remained the
common version in use throughout Germany, even as the authorized
King James version, made nearly a century later by the labor of
many scholars and divines, has remained the standard English Bible.
Moreover, he finds time to make liturgies and creeds and hymns, and
to write letters to all parts of Christendom,--a Jerome, a
Chrysostom, and an Augustine united; a kind of Protestant pope, to
whom everybody looks for advice and consolation.  What a wonderful
man!  No wonder the Germans are so fond of him and so proud of
him,--a Briareus with a hundred arms; a marvel, a wonder, a prodigy
of nature; the most gifted, versatile, hard-working man of his
century or nation!

At last, this great theologian, this daring innovator, is summoned
by imperial, not papal, authority before the Diet of the empire at
Worms, where the Emperor, the great Charles V., presides, amid
bishops, princes, cardinals, legates, generals, and dignitaries.
Thither Luther must go,--yet under imperial safe conduct,--and
consummate his protests, and perhaps offer up his life.  Painters,
poets, historians, have made that scene familiar,--the most
memorable in the life of Luther, as well as one of the grandest
spectacles of the age.  I need not dwell on that exciting scene,
where, in the presence of all that was illustrious and powerful in
Germany, this defenceless doctor dares to say to supremest temporal
and spiritual authority, "Unless you confute me by arguments drawn
from Scripture, I cannot and will not recant anything . . .  Here I
stand; I cannot otherwise: God help me!  Amen."  How superior to
Galileo and other scientific martyrs!  He is not afraid of those
who can kill only the body; he is afraid only of Him who hath power
to cast both soul and body into hell.  So he stands as firm as the
eternal pillars of justice, and his cause is gained.  What if he
did not live long enough to accomplish all he designed!  What if he
made mistakes, and showed in his career many of the infirmities of
human nature!  What if he cared very little for pictures and
statues,--the revived arts of Greece and Rome, the Pagan
Renaissance in which he only sees infidelity, levities, and
luxuries, and other abominations which excited his disgust and
abhorrence when he visited Italy!  HE seeks, not to amuse and adorn
the Papal empire, but to reform it; as Paul before him sought to
plant new sentiments and ideas in the Roman world, indifferent to
the arts of Greece, and even the beauties of nature, in his
absorbing desire to convert men to Christ.  And who, since Paul,
has rendered greater service to humanity than Luther?  The whole
race should be proud that such a man has lived.

We will not follow the great reformer to the decline of his years;
we will not dwell on his subsequent struggles and dangers, his
marvellous preservation, his personal habits, his friendships and
his hatreds, his joys and sorrows, his bitter alienations, his
vexatious, his disappointments, his gloomy anticipations of
approaching strife, his sickened yet exultant soul, his last days
of honor and of victory, his final illness, and his triumphant
death in the town where he was born.  It is his legacy that we are
concerned in, the inheritance he left to succeeding generations,--
the perpetuated ideas of the Reformation, which he worked out in
anguish and in study, and which we will not let die, but will
cherish in our memories and our hearts, as among the most precious
of the heirlooms of genius, susceptible of boundless application.
And it is destined to grow brighter and richer, in spite of
counter-reformation and Jesuitism, of Pagan levities and Pagan
lies, of boastful science and Epicurean pleasures, of material
glories, of dissensions and sects and parties, as the might and
majesty of ages coursing round the world regenerates institutions
and nations, and proclaims the sovereignty of intelligence, the
glory and the power of God.


Ranke's Reformation in Germany; D'Aubigne's History of the
Reformation; Luther's Letters; Mosheim's History of the Church;
Melancthon's Life of Luther: Erasmi Epistolae; Encyclopaedia


A. D. 1489-1556.


As the great interest of the Middle Ages, in an historical point of
view, centres around the throne of the popes, so the most prominent
subject of historical interest in our modern times is the revolt
from their almost unlimited domination.  The Protestant
reformation, in its various relations, was a movement of
transcendent importance.  The history of Christendom, in a moral, a
political, a religious, a literary, and a social point of view, for
the last three hundred years, cannot be studied or comprehended
without primary reference to that memorable revolution.

We have seen how that great insurrection of human intelligence was
headed in Germany by Luther, and we shall shortly consider it in
Switzerland and France under Calvin.  We have now to contemplate
the movement in England.

The most striking figure in it was doubtless Thomas Cranmer,
Archbishop of Canterbury, although he does not represent the
English Reformation in all its phases.  He was neither so prominent
nor so great a man as Luther or Calvin, or even Knox.  But, taking
him all in all, he was the most illustrious of the English
reformers; and he, more than any other man, gave direction to the
spirit of reform, which had been quietly working ever since the
time of Wyclif, especially among the humbler classes.

The English Reformation--the way to which had been long preparing--
began in the reign of Henry VIII.; and this unscrupulous and
tyrannical monarch, without being a religious man, gave the first
great impulse to an outbreak the remote consequences of which he
did not anticipate, and with which he had no sympathy.  He rebelled
against the authority of the Pope, without abjuring the Roman
Catholic religion, either as to dogmas or forms.  In fact, the
first great step towards reform was made, not by Cranmer, but by
Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex, as the prime minister of Henry
VIII.,--a man of whom we really know the least of all the very
great statesmen of English history.  It was he who demolished the
monasteries, and made war on the whole monastic system, and
undermined the papal power in England, and swept away many of the
most glaring of those abuses which disgraced the Papal Empire.
Armed with the powers which Wolsey had wielded, he directed them
into a totally different channel; so far as the religious welfare
of the nation is considered, although in his principles of
government he was as absolute as Richelieu.  Like the great French
statesman, he exalted the throne; but, unlike him, he promoted the
personal reign of the sovereign he served with remarkable ability
and devotion.

Thomas Cromwell, the prime minister of Henry VIII., after the fall
of Wolsey, was born in humble ranks, and was in early life a common
soldier in the wars of Italy, then a clerk in a mercantile house in
Antwerp, then a wool merchant in Middleborough, then a member of
Parliament, and was employed by Wolsey in suppressing some of the
smaller monasteries.  His fidelity to his patron Wolsey, at the
time of that great cardinal's fall, attracted the special notice of
the King, who made him royal secretary in the House of Commons.  He
made his fortune by advising Henry to declare himself Head of the
English Church, when he was entangled in the difficulties growing
out of the divorce of Catharine.  This advice was given with the
patriotic view of making the royal authority superior to that of
the Pope in Church patronage, and of making England independent of

The great scandal of the times was the immoral lives of the clergy,
especially of the monks, and the immunities they enjoyed.  They
were a hindrance to the royal authority, and weakened the resources
of the country by the excessive drain of gold and silver sent to
Rome to replenish the papal treasury.  Cromwell would make the
clergy dependent on the King and not on the Pope for their
investitures and promotions; and he abominated the idle and
vagabond lives of the monks, who had degenerated in England,
perhaps more than in any other country in Europe, in consequence of
the great wealth of their monasteries.  He was able to render his
master and the kingdom a great service, from the powers lavished
upon him.  He presided at convocations as the King's vicegerent;
controlled the House of Commons, and was inquisitor-general of the
monasteries; he was foreign and home secretary, vicar-general and
president of the star-chamber or privy-council.  The proud
Nevilles, the powerful Percies, and the noble Courtenays all bowed
before this plebeian son of a mechanic, who had arisen by force of
genius and lucky accidents,--too wise to build a palace like
Hampton Court, but not ecclesiastical enough in his sympathies to
found a college like Christ's Church as Wolsey did.  He was a man
simple in his tastes, and hard-working like Colbert,--the great
finance minister of France under Louis XIV., whom he resembled in
his habits and policy.

His great task, as well as his great public service, was the
visitation and suppression of monasteries.  He perceived that they
had fulfilled their mission; that they were no longer needed; that
they had become corrupt, and too corrupt to be reformed; that they
were no longer abodes of piety, or beehives of industry, or
nurseries of art, or retreats of learning; that their wealth was
squandered; that they upheld the arm of a foreign power; that they
shielded offenders against the laws; that they encouraged vagrancy
and extortion; that, in short, they were dangerous to the realm.

The monks and friars opposed the new learning now extending from
Italy to France, to Germany, and to England.  Colet came back from
Italy, not to teach Platonic mysticism, but to unlock the
Scriptures in the original,--the centre of a group of scholars at
Oxford, of whom Erasmus and Thomas More stood in the foremost rank.
Before the close of the fifteenth century, it is said that ten
thousand editions of various books had been printed in different
parts of Europe.  All the Latin authors, and some of the Greek,
were accessible to students.  Tunstall and Latimer were sent to
Padua to complete their studies.  Fox, bishop of Winchester,
established a Greek professorship at Oxford.  It was an age of
enthusiasm for reviving literature,--which, however, received in
Germany, through the influence chiefly of Luther, a different
direction from what it received in Italy, and which extended from
Germany to England.  But to this awakened spirit the monks
presented obstacles and discouragements.  They had no sympathy with
progress; they belonged to the Dark Ages; they were hostile to the
circulation of the Scriptures; they were pedlers of indulgences and
relics; impostors, frauds, vagabonds, gluttons, worldly, sensual,
and avaricious.

So notoriously corrupt had monasteries become that repeated
attempts had been made to reform them, but without success.  As
early as 1489, Innocent VII. had issued a commission for a general
investigation.  The monks were accused of dilapidating public
property, of frequenting infamous places, of stealing jewels from
consecrated shrines.  In 1511, Archbishop Warham instituted another
visitation.  In 1523 Cardinal Wolsey himself undertook the task of
reform.  At last the Parliament, in 1535, appointed Cromwell vicar
or visitor-general, issued a commission, and intrusted it to
lawyers, not priests, who found that the worst had not been told,
and reported that two thirds of the monks of England were living in
concubinage; that their lands were wasted and mortgaged, and their
houses falling into ruins.  They found the Abbot of Fountains
surrounded with more women than Mohammed allowed his followers, and
the nuns of Litchfield scandalously immoral.

On this report, the Lords and Commons--deliberately, not rashly--
decreed the suppression of all monasteries the income of which was
less than two hundred pounds a year, and the sequestration of their
lands to the King.  About two hundred of the lesser convents were
thus suppressed, and the monks turned adrift, yet not entirely
without support.  This spoliation may have been a violation of the
rights of property, but the monks had betrayed their trusts.  The
next Parliament completed the work.  In 1539 all the religious
houses were suppressed, both great and small.  Such venerable and
princely retreats as St. Albans, Glastonbury, Reading, Bury St.
Edmunds, and Westminster, which had flourished one thousand years,--
founded long before the Conquest,--shared the common ruin.  These
probably would have been spared, had not the first suppression
filled the country with rebels.  The great insurrection in
Lincolnshire which shook the foundation of the throne, the
intrigues of Cardinal Pole, the Cornish conspiracy in which the
great house of Neville was implicated, and various other
agitations, were all fomented by the angry monks.

Rapacity was not the leading motive of Henry or his minister, but
the public welfare.  The measure of suppression and sequestration
was violent, but called for.  Cromwell put forth no such
sophistical pleas as those revolutionists who robbed the French
clergy,--that their property belonged to the nation.  In France the
clergy were despoiled, not because they were infamous, but because
they were rich.  In England the monks probably suffered injustice
from the severity of their punishment, but no one now doubts that
punishment was deserved.  Nor did Henry retain all the spoils
himself: he gave away the abbey lands with a prodigality equal to
his rapacity.  He gave them to those who upheld his throne, as a
reward for service or loyalty.  They were given to a new class of
statesmen, who led the popular party,--like the Fitzwilliams, the
Russells, the Dudleys, and the Seymours,--and thus became the
foundation of their great estates.  They were also distributed to
many merchants and manufacturers who had been loyal to the
government.  From one-third to two-thirds of the landed property of
the kingdom,--as variously estimated,--thus changed hands.  It was
an enormous confiscation,--nearly as great as that made by William
the Conqueror in favor of his army of invaders.  It must have
produced an immense impression on the mind of Europe.  It was
almost as great a calamity to the Catholic Church of England as the
emancipation of slaves was to their Southern masters in our late
war.  Such a spoliation of the Church had not before taken place in
any country of Europe.  How great an evil the monastic system must
have been regarded by Parliament to warrant such an act!  Had it
not been popular, there would have been discontents amounting to a
general hostility to the throne.

It must also be borne in mind that this dissolution of the
monasteries, this attack on the monastic system, was not a
religious movement fanned by reformers, but an act of Parliament,
at the instance of a royal minister.  It was not done under the
direction of a Protestant king,--for Henry was never a Protestant,
but as a public measure in behalf of morality and for reasons of
State.  It is true that Henry had, by his marriage with Anne
Boleyn and the divorce of his virtuous queen, defied the Pope
and separated England from Rome, so far as appointments to
ecclesiastical benefices are concerned.  But in offending the Pope
he also equally offended Charles V.  The results of his separation
from Rome, during his life, were purely political.  The King did
not give up the Mass or the Roman communion or Roman dogmas of
faith; he only prepared the way for reform in the next reign.  He
only intensified the hatred between the old conservative party and
the party of reform and progress.

How far Cromwell himself was a Protestant it is difficult to tell.
Doubtless he sympathized with the new religious spirit of the age,
but he did not openly avow the faith of Luther.  He was the able
and unscrupulous minister of an absolute monarch, bent on sweeping
away abuses of all kinds, but with the idea of enlarging the royal
authority as much, perhaps, as promoting the prosperity of the

He therefore turned his attention to the ecclesiastical courts,
which from the time of Becket had been antagonistic to royal
encroachments.  The war between the civil power and these courts
had begun before the fall of Wolsey, and had resulted in the
curtailment of probate duties, legacies, and mortuaries, by which
the clergy had been enriched.  A limitation of pluralities and
enforcement of residence had also been effected.  But a still
greater blow to the privileges of the clergy was struck by the
Parliament under the influence of Cromwell, who had elevated it in
order to give legality to the despotic measures of the Crown; and
in this way a law was passed that no one under the rank of a
subdeacon, if convicted of felony, should be allowed to plead his
"benefit of clergy," but should be punished like ordinary
criminals,--thus re-establishing the constitutions of Clarendon in
the time of Becket.  Another act also was passed, by which no one
could be summoned, as aforetime, to the archbishop's court out of
his own diocese,--a very beneficent act, since the people had been
needlessly subject to great expense and injustice in being obliged
to travel considerable distances.  It was moreover enacted that men
could not burden their estates beyond twenty years by providing
priests to sing masses for their souls.  The Parliament likewise
abolished annats,--a custom which had long prevailed in Europe,
which required one year's income to be sent to the Pope on any new
preferment; a great burden to the clergy; a sort of tribute to a
foreign power.  Within fifty years, one hundred and sixty thousand
pounds had thus been sent from England to Rome, from this one
source of papal revenue alone,--equal to three million pounds at
the present time, or fifteen millions of dollars, from a country of
only three millions of people.  It was the passage of that act
which induced Sir Thomas More (a devoted Catholic, but a just and
able and incorruptible judge) to resign the seals which he had so
long and so honorably held,--the most prominent man in England
after Cromwell and Cranmer; and it was the execution of this lofty
character, because he held out against the imperious demands of
Henry, which is the greatest stain upon this monarch's reign.
Parliament also called the clergy to account for excessive acts of
despotism, and subjected them to the penalty of a premunire (the
offence of bringing a foreign authority into England), from which
they were freed only by enormous fines.

Thus it would seem that many abuses were removed by Cromwell and
the Parliament during the reign of Henry VIII. which may almost be
considered as reforms of the Church itself.  The authority of the
Church was not attacked, still less its doctrines, but only abuses
and privileges the restraint of which was of public benefit, and
which tended to reduce the power of the clergy.  It was this
reduction of clerical usurpations and privileges which is the main
feature in the legislation of Henry VIII., so far as it pertained
to the Church.  It was wresting away the power which the clergy had
enjoyed from the days of Alfred and Ina,--a reform which Henry II.
and Edward I., and other sovereigns, had failed to effect.  This
was the great work of Cromwell, and in it he had the support of his
royal master, since it was a transfer of power from the clergy to
the throne; and Henry VIII. was hated and anathematized by Rome as
Henry IV. of Germany was, without ceasing to be a Catholic.  He
even retained the title of Defender of the Faith, which had been
conferred upon him by the Pope for his opposition to the
theological doctrines of Luther, which he never accepted, and which
he always detested.

Cromwell did not long survive the great services he rendered to his
king and the nation.  In the height of his power he made a fatal
mistake.  He deceived the King in regard to Anne of Cleves, whose
marriage he favored from motives of expediency and a manifest
desire to promote the Protestant cause.  He palmed upon the King a
woman who could not speak a word of English,--a woman without
graces or accomplishments, who was absolutely hateful to him.
Henry's disappointment was bitter, and his vengeance was
unrelenting.  The enemies of Cromwell soon took advantage of this
mistake.  The great Duke of Norfolk, head of the Catholic party,
accused him at the council-board of high treason.  Two years
before, such a charge would have received no attention; but Henry
now hated him, and was resolved to punish him for the wreck of his
domestic happiness.

Cromwell was hurried to that gloomy fortress whose outlet was
generally the scaffold, he was denied even the form of trial.  A
bill of attainder was hastily passed by the Parliament he had
ruled.  Only one person in the realm had the courage to intercede
for him, and this was Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury; but his
entreaties were futile.  The fallen minister had no chance of life,
and no one knew it so well as himself.  Even a trial would have
availed nothing; nothing could have availed him,--he was a doomed
man.  So he bade his foes make quick work of it; and quick work was
made.  In eighteen days from his arrest, Thomas Cromwell, Earl of
Essex, Knight of the Garter, Grand Chamberlain, Lord Privy Seal,
Vicar-General, and Master of the Wards, ascended the scaffold on
which had been shed the blood of a queen,--making no protestation
of innocence, but simply committing his soul to Jesus Christ, in
whom he believed.  Like Wolsey, he arose from an humble station to
the most exalted position the King could give; and, like Wolsey, he
saw the vanity of delegated power as soon as he offended the source
of power.

    "He who ascends the mountain-tops shall find
     The loftiest peak most wrapped in clouds and storms.
     Though high above the sun of glory shines,
     And far beneath the earth and ocean spread,
     Round HIM are icy rocks, and loudly blow
     Contending tempests on his naked head."

On the disappearance of Cromwell from the stage, Cranmer came
forward more prominently, he was a learned doctor in that
university which has ever sent forth the apostles of great
emancipating movements.  He was born in 1489, and was therefore
twenty years of age on the accession of Henry VIII. in 1509, and
was twenty-eight when Luther published his theses.  He early
sympathized with the reform doctrines, but was too politic to take
an active part in their discussion.  He was a moderate, calm,
scholarly man, not a great genius or great preacher.  He had none
of those bold and dazzling qualities which attract the gaze of the
world.  We behold in him no fearless and impetuous Luther,--
attacking with passionate earnestness the corruptions of Rome;
bracing himself up to revolutionary assaults, undaunted before
kings and councils, and giving no rest to his hands or slumber to
his eyes until he had consummated his protests,--a man of the
people, yet a dictator to princes.  We see no severely logical
Calvin,--pushing out his metaphysical deductions until he had
chained the intellect of his party to a system of incomparable
grandeur and yet of repulsive austerity, exacting all the while the
same allegiance to doctrines which he deduced from the writings of
Paul as he did to the direct declarations of Christ; next to Thomas
Aquinas, the acutest logician the Church has known; a system-maker,
like the great Dominican schoolmen, and their common master and
oracle, Saint Augustine of Hippo.  We see in Cranmer no
uncompromising and aggressive reformer like Knox,--controlling by a
stern dogmatism both a turbulent nobility and an uneducated people,
and filling all classes alike with inextinguishable hatred of
everything that even reminded them of Rome.  Nor do we find in
Cranmer the outspoken and hearty eloquence of Latimer,--appealing
to the people at St. Paul's Cross to shake off all the trappings of
the "Scarlet Mother," who had so long bewitched the world with her

Cranmer, if less eloquent, less fearless, less logical, less able
than these, was probably broader, more comprehensive in his views,--
adapting his reforms to the circumstances of the age and country,
and to the genius of the English mind.  Hence his reforms, if less
brilliant, were more permanent.  He framed the creed that finally
was known as the Thirty-nine Articles, and was the true founder of
the English Church, as that Church has existed for more than three
centuries, neither Roman nor Puritan, but "half-way between Rome
and Geneva;" a compromise, and yet a Church of great vitality, and
endeared to the hearts of the English people.  Northern Germany--
the scene of the stupendous triumphs of Luther--is and has been,
since the time of Frederick the Great, the hot-bed of rationalistic
inquiries; and the Genevan as well as the French and Swiss churches
which Calvin controlled have become cold, with a dreary and formal
Protestantism, without poetry or life.  But the Church of England
has survived two revolutions and all the changes of human thought,
and is still a mighty power, decorous, beautiful, conservative, yet
open to all the liberalizing influences of an age of science and
philosophy.  Cranmer, though a scholastic, seems to have perceived
that nothing is more misleading and uncertain and unsatisfactory
than any truth pushed out to its severest logical conclusions
without reference to other truths which have for their support the
same divine authority.  It is not logic which has built up the most
enduring institutions, but common-sense and plain truths, and
appeals to human consciousness,--the cogito, ergo sum, without
whose approval most systems have perished.  In mediis tutissimus
ibis, is not indeed an agreeable maxim to zealots and partisans and
dialectical logicians, but it seems to be induced from the varied
experiences of human life and the history of different ages and
nations, and applies to all the mixed sciences, like government and
political economy, as well as to church institutions.

As Cromwell made his fortune by advising the King to assume the
headship of the Church in England, so Cranmer's rise is to be
traced to his advice to Henry to appeal to the decision of
universities whether or not he could be legally divorced from
Catharine, since the Pope--true to the traditions, of the Catholic
Church, or from fear of Charles V.--would not grant a dispensation.
All this business was a miserable quibble, a tissue of scholastic
technicalities.  But it answered the ends of Cranmer.  The schools
decided for the King, and a great injustice and heartless cruelty
was done to a worthy and loyal woman, and a great insult offered to
the Church and to the Emperor Charles of Germany, who was a nephew
of the Spanish Princess and English Queen.  This scandal resulted
in a separation from Rome, as was foreseen both by Cromwell and
Cranmer; and the latter became Archbishop of Canterbury, a prelate
whose power and dignity were greater then than at the present day,
exalted as the post is even now,--the highest in dignity and rank
to which a subject can aspire,--higher even than the Lord High
Chancellorship; both of which however, pale before the position of
a Prime Minister so far as power is concerned.

The separation from Rome, the suppression of the monasteries, and
the curtailment of the powers of the spiritual courts were the only
reforms of note during the reign of Henry VIII., unless we name
also the new translation of the Bible, authorized through Cranmer's
influence, and the teaching of the creed, the commandments, and the
Lord's prayer in English.  The King died in 1547.  Cranmer was now
fifty-seven, and was left to prosecute reforms in his own way as
president of the council of regency, Edward VI. being but nine
years old,--"a learned boy," as Macaulay calls him, but still a boy
in the hands of the great noblemen who composed the regency, and
who belonged to the progressive school.

I do not think the career of Cranmer during the life of Henry
is sufficiently appreciated.  He must have shown at least
extraordinary tact and wisdom,--with his reforming tendencies and
enlightened views,--not to come in conflict with his sovereign as
Becket did with Henry II.  He had to deal with the most capricious
and jealous of tyrants; cruel and unscrupulous when crossed; a man
who rarely retained a friendship or remembered a service; who never
forgave an injury or forgot an affront; a glutton and a sensualist;
although prodigal with his gifts, social in his temper, enlightened
in his government, and with very respectable abilities and very
considerable theological knowledge.  This hard and exacting master
Cranmer had to serve, without exciting his suspicions or coming in
conflict with him; so that he seemed politic and vacillating, for
which he would not be excused were it not for his subsequent
services, and his undoubted sincerity and devotion to the
Protestant cause.  During the life of Henry we can scarcely call
Cranmer a reformer.  The most noted reformer of the day was old
Hugh Latimer, the King's chaplain, who declaimed against sin with
the zeal and fire of Savonarola, and aimed to create a religious
life among the people, from whom he sprung and whom he loved,--a
rough, hearty, honest, conscientious man, with deep convictions and
lofty soul.

In the reforms thus far carried on we perceive that, though
popular, they emanated from princes and not from the people.  The
people had no hand in the changes made, as at Geneva, only the
ministers of kings and great public functionaries.  And in the
reforms subsequently effected, which really constitute the English
Reformation, they were made by the council of regency, under the
leadership of Cranmer and the protectorship of Somerset.

The first thing which the Government did after the accession of
Edward VI. was to remove images from the churches, as a form of
idolatry,--much to the wrath of Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, the
ablest man of the old conservative and papal party.  But Ridley,
afterwards Bishop of Rochester, preached against all forms of papal
superstition with so much ability and zeal that the churches were
soon cleared of these "helps to devotion."

Cranmer, now unchecked, turned his attention to other reforms, but
proceeded slowly and cautiously, not wishing to hazard much at the
outset.  First communion of both kinds, heretofore restricted to
the clergy, was appointed; and, closely connected with it, Masses
were put down.  Then a law was passed by Parliament that the
appointment of bishops should vest in the Crown alone, and not, as
formerly, be confirmed by the Pope.  The next great thing to which
the reformers directed their attention was the preparation of a new
liturgy in the public worship of God, which gave rise to
considerable discussion.  They did not seek to sweep away the old
form, for it was prepared by the sainted doctors of the Church of
all ages; but they would purge it of all superstitions, and retain
what was most beautiful and expressive in the old prayers.  The Ten
Commandments, the Lord's Prayer, and the early creeds of course
were retained, as well as whatever was in harmony with primitive
usages.  These changes called out letters from Calvin at Geneva,
who was now recognized as a great oracle among the Protestants: he
encouraged the work, but advised a more complete reformation, and
complained of the coldness of the clergy, as well as of the general
vices of the times.  Martin Bucer of Strasburg, at this time
professor at Cambridge, also wrote letters to the same effect; but
the time had not come for more radical reforms.  Then Parliament,
controlled by the Government, passed an act allowing the clergy to
marry,--opposed, of course, by many bishops in allegiance to Rome.
This was a great step in reform, and removed many popular scandals;
it struck a heavy blow at the conditions of the Middle Ages,
holding that celibacy sprung from no law of God, but was Oriental
in its origin, encouraged by the Church to cement its power.  And
this act concerning the marriage of the clergy was soon followed by
the celebrated Forty-two Articles, framed by Cranmer and Ridley,
which are the bases of the English Church,--a theological creed,
slightly amended afterwards in the reign of Elizabeth; evangelical
but not Calvinistic, affirming the great ideas of Augustine and
Luther as to grace, justification by faith, and original sin, and
repudiating purgatory, pardons, the worship and invocation of
saints and images; a larger creed than the Nicene or Athanasian,
and comprehensive,--such as most Protestants might accept.  Both
this and the book of Common Prayer were written with consummate
taste, were the work of great scholars,--moderate, broad,
enlightened, conciliatory.

The reformers then gave their attention to an alteration of
ecclesiastical laws in reference to matters which had always been
decided in ecclesiastical courts.  The commissioners--the ablest
men in England, thirty-two in number--had scarcely completed their
work before the young King died, and Mary ascended the throne.

We cannot too highly praise the moderation with which the reforms
had been made, especially when we remember the violence of the age.
There were indeed two or three capital executions for heresy.
Gardiner and Bonner, who opposed the reformation with unparalleled
bitterness were only deprived of their sees and sent to the Tower.
The execution of Somerset was the work of politicians, of great
noblemen jealous of his ascendency.  It does not belong to the
reformation, nor do the executions of a few other noblemen.

Cranmer himself was a statesman rather than a preacher.  He left
but few sermons, and these commonplace, without learning, or wit,
or zeal,--ordinary exhortations to a virtuous life.  The chief
thing, outside of the reforms I have mentioned, was the publication
of a few homilies for the use of the clergy,--too ignorant to write
sermons,--which homilies were practical and orthodox, but
containing nothing to stir up an ardent religious life.  The Bible
was also given a greater scope; everybody could read it if he
wished.  Public prayer was restored to the people in a language
which they could understand, and a few preachers arose who appealed
to conscience and reason,--like Latimer and Ridley, and Hooper and
Taylor; but most of them were formal and cold.  There must have
been great religious apathy, or else these reforms would have
excited more opposition on the part of the clergy, who generally
acquiesced in the changes.  But the Reformation thus far was
official; it was not popular.  It repressed vice and superstition,
but kindled no great enthusiasm.  It was necessary for the English
reformers and sincere Protestants to go through a great trial; to
be persecuted, to submit to martyrdom for the sake of their
opinions.  The school of heroes and saints has ever been among
blazing fires and scaffolds.  It was martyrdom which first gave
form and power to early Christianity.  The first chapter in the
history of the early Church is the torments of the martyrs.  The
English Reformation had no great dignity or life until the funeral
pyres were lighted.  Men had placidly accepted new opinions, and
had Bibles to instruct them; but it was to be seen how far they
would make sacrifices to maintain them.

This test was afforded by the accession of Mary, daughter of
Catharine the Spaniard,--an affectionate and kind-hearted woman
enough in ordinary times, but a fiend of bigotry, like Catherine
de' Medicis, when called upon to suppress the Reformation, although
on her accession she declared that she would force no man's
conscience.  But the first thing she does is to restore the popish
bishops,--for so they were called then by historians; and the next
thing she does is to restore the Mass, and the third to shut up
Cranmer and Latimer in the Tower, attaint and execute them, with
sundry others like Ridley and Hooper, as well as those great nobles
who favored the claims of the Lady Jane Grey and the religious
reforms of Edward VI.  She reconciles herself with Rome, and
accepts its legate at her court; she receives Spanish spies and
Jesuit confessors; she marries the son of Charles V., afterwards
Philip II.; she executes the Lady Jane Grey; she keeps the
strictest watch on the Princess Elizabeth, who learns in her
retirement the art of dissimulation and lying; she forms an
alliance with Spain; she makes Cardinal Pole Archbishop of
Canterbury; she gives almost unlimited power to Gardiner and
Bonner, who begin a series of diabolical persecutions, burning such
people as John Rogers, Sanders, Doctor Taylor of Hadley, William
Hunter, and Stephen Harwood, ferreting out all suspected of heresy,
and confining them in the foulest jails,--burning even little
children.  Mary even takes measures to introduce the Inquisition
and restore the monasteries.  Everywhere are scaffolds and
burnings.  In three years nearly three hundred people were burned
alive, often with green wood,--a small number compared with those
who were executed and assassinated in France, about this time, by
Catherine de' Medicis, the Guises, and Charles IX.

In those dreadful persecutions which began with the accession of
Mary, it was impossible that Cranmer should escape.  In spite of
his dignity, rank, age, and services, he could hope for no favor or
indulgence from that morose woman in whose sapless bosom no
compassion for the Protestants ever found admission, and still less
from those cruel, mercenary, bigoted prelates whom she selected for
her ministers.  It was not customary in that age for the Churchmen
to spare heretics, whether high or low.  Would it forgive him who
had overturned the consecrated altars, displaced the ritual of a
thousand years, and revolted from the authority of the supreme head
of the Christian world?  Would Mary suffer him to pass unpunished
who had displaced her mother from the nuptial bed, and pronounced
her own birth to be stained with an ignominious blot, and who had
exalted a rival to the throne?  And Gardiner and Bonner, too, those
bigoted prelates and ministers who would have sent to the flames an
unoffending woman if she denied the authority of the Pope, were not
the men to suffer him to escape who had not only overturned the
papal power in England, but had deprived them of their sees and
sent them to the Tower.  No matter how decent the forms of law or
respectful the agents of the crown, Cranmer had not the shadow of a
hope; and hence he was certainly weak to say the least, to trust to
any deceitful promises made to him.  What his enemies were bent
upon was his recantation, as preliminary to his execution; and he
should have been firm, both for his cause, and because his
martyrdom was sure.  In an evil hour he listened to the voice of
the seducer.  Both life and dignities were promised if he would
recant.  "Confounded, heart-broken, old," the love of life and the
fear of death were stronger for a time than the power of conscience
or dignity of character.  Six several times was he induced to
recant the doctrines he had preached, and profess an allegiance
which could only be a solemn mockery.

True, Cranmer came to himself; he perceived that he was mocked, and
felt both grief and shame in view of his apostasy.  His last hours
were glorious.  Never did a good man more splendidly redeem his
memory from shame.  Being permitted to address the people before
his execution,--with the hope on the part of his tormentors that he
would publicly confirm his recantation,--he first supplicated the
mercy and forgiveness of Almighty God, and concluded his speech
with these memorable words: "And now I come to the great thing that
troubleth my conscience more than anything I ever did or said, even
the setting forth of writings contrary to the truth, which I now
renounce and refuse,--those things written with my own hand
contrary to the truth I thought in my heart, and writ for fear of
death and to save my life.  And forasmuch as my hand offended in
writing contrary to my heart, therefore my hand shall first be
punished; for if I come to the fire, it shall first be burned.  As
for the Pope, I denounce him as Christ's enemy and Antichrist, with
all his false doctrines."  Then he was carried away, and a great
multitude ran after him, exhorting him, while time was, to remember
himself.  "Coming to the stake," says the Catholic eye-witness,
"with a cheerful countenance and willing mind, he took off his
garments in haste and stood upright in his shirt.  Fire being
applied, he stretched forth his right hand and thrust it into the
flame, before the fire came to any other part of his body; when his
hand was to be seen sensibly burning, he cried with a loud voice,
'This hand hath offended."'

Thus died Cranmer, in the sixty-seventh year of his age, after
presiding over the Church of England above twenty years, and having
bequeathed a legacy to his countrymen of which they continue to be
proud.  He had not the intrepidity of Latimer; he was supple to
Henry VIII.; he was weak in his recantation; he was not an original
genius,--but he was a man of great breadth of views, conciliating
wise, temperate in reform, and discharged his great trust with
conscientious adherence to the truth as he understood it; the
friend of Calvin, and revered by the Protestant world.

Queen Mary reigned, fortunately, but five years, and the
persecutions she encouraged and indorsed proved the seed of a
higher morality and a loftier religious life.

    "For thus spake aged Latimer:
     I tarry by the stake,
     Not trusting in my own weak heart,
     But for the Saviour's sake.
     Why speak of life or death to me,
     Whose days are but a span?
     Our crown is yonder,--Ridley, see!
     Be strong and play the man!
     God helping, such a torch this day
     We'll light on English land,
     That Rome, with all her cardinals,
     Shall never quench the brand!"

The triumphs of Gardiner and Bonner too were short.  Mary died with
a bruised heart and a crushed ambition.  On her death, and the
accession of her sister Elizabeth, exiles returned from Geneva and
Frankfort to advocate more radical changes in government and
doctrine.  Popular enthusiasm was kindled, never afterwards to be

The great ideas of the Reformation began now to agitate the mind of
England,--not so much the logical doctrines of Calvin as the
emancipating ideas of Luther.  The Renaissance had begun, and the
two movements were incorporated,--the religious one of Germany and
the Pagan one of Italy, both favoring liberality of mind, a freer
style of literature, restless inquiries, enterprise, the revival of
learning and art, an intense spirit of progress, and disgust for
the Dark Ages and all the dogmas of scholasticism.  With this
spirit of progress and moderate Protestantism Elizabeth herself,
the best educated woman in England, warmly sympathized, as did also
the illustrious men she drew to her court, to whom she gave the
great offices of state.  I cannot call her age a religious one: it
was a merry one, cheerful, inquiring, untrammelled in thought, bold
in speculation, eloquent, honest, fervid, courageous, hostile to
the Papacy and all the bigots of Europe.  It was still rough,
coarse, sensual; when money was scarce and industries in their
infancy, and material civilization not very attractive.  But it was
a great age, glorious, intellectual, brilliant; with such statesmen
as Burleigh and Walsingham to head off treason and conspiracy; when
great poets arose, like Jonson and Spenser and Shakspeare; and
philosophers, like Bacon and Sir Thomas Browne, and lawyers, like
Nicholas Bacon and Coke; and elegant courtiers, like Sidney and
Raleigh and Essex; men of wit, men of enterprise, who would explore
distant seas and colonize new countries; yea, great preachers, like
Jeremy Taylor and Hall; and great theologians, like Hooker and
Chillingworth,--giving polish and, dignity to an uncouth language,
and planting religious truth in the minds of men.

Elizabeth, with such a constellation around her, had no great
difficulty in re-establishing Protestantism and giving it a new
impetus, although she adhered to liturgies and pomps, and loved
processions and fetes and banquets and balls and expensive
dresses,--a worldly woman, but progressive and enlightened.

In the religious reforms of that age you see the work of princes
and statesmen still, rather than any great insurrection of human
intelligence or any great religious revival, although the germs of
it were springing up through the popular preachers and the
influence of Genevan reformers.  Calvin's writings were potent, and
John Knox was on his way to Scotland.

I pass by rapidly the reforms of Elizabeth's reign, effected by the
Queen and her ministers and the convocation of Protestant bishops
and clergy and learned men in the universities.  Oxford and
Cambridge were then in their glory,--crowded with poor students
from all parts of England, who came to study Greek and Latin and
read theology, not to ride horses and row boats, to put on
dandified airs and sneer at lectures, running away to London to
attend theatres and flirt with girls and drink champagne, beggaring
their fathers and ruining their own expectations and their health.
In a very short time after the accession of Elizabeth, which was
hailed generally as a very auspicious event, things were restored
to nearly the state in which they were left by Cranmer in the
preceding reign.  This was not done by direct authority of the
Queen, but by acts of Parliament.  Even Henry VIII. ruled through
the Parliament, only it was his tool and instrument.  Elizabeth
consulted its wishes as the representation of the nation, for she
aimed to rule by the affections of her people.  But she recommended
the Parliament to conciliatory measures; to avoid extremes; to drop
offensive epithets, like "papist" and "heretic;" to go as far as
the wants of the nation required, and no farther.  Though a zealous
Protestant, she seemed to have no great animosities.  Her
particular aversion was Bonner,--the violent, blood-thirsty,
narrow-minded Bishop of London, who was deprived of his see and
shut up in the Tower, put out of harm's way, not cruelly treated,--
he was not even deprived of his good dinners.  She appointed, as
her prerogative allowed, a very gentle, moderate, broad, kind-
hearted man to be Archbishop of Canterbury,--Parker, who had been
chaplain to her mother, and who was highly esteemed by Burleigh and
Nicholas Bacon, her most influential ministers.  Parliament
confirmed the old act, passed during the reign of Henry VIII.,
making the sovereign the head of the English Church, although the
title of "supreme head" was left out in the oath of allegiance, to
conciliate the Catholic party.  To execute this supremacy, the
Court of High Commission was established,--afterwards so abused by
Charles I.  The Church Service was modified, and the Act of
Uniformity was passed by Parliament, after considerable debate.
The changes were all made in the spirit of moderation, and few
suffered beyond a deprivation of their sees or livings for refusing
to take the oath of supremacy.

Then followed the Thirty-nine Articles, setting forth the creed of
the Established Church,--substantially the creed which Cranmer had
made,--and a new translation of the Bible, and the regulation of
ecclesiastical courts.

But whatever was done was in good taste,--marked by good sense and
moderation,--to preserve decency and decorum, and repress all
extremes of superstition and license.  The clergy preached in a
black gown and Genevan bands, using the surplice only in the
liturgy; we see no lace or millinery.  The churches were stripped
of images, the pulpits became high and prominent, the altars were
changed to communion-tables without candles and symbols.  There was
not much account made of singing, for the lyric version of the
Psalms was execrable.  For the first time since Chrysostom and
Gregory Nazianzen, preaching became the chief duty of the
clergyman; and his sermons were long, for the people were greedy of
instruction, and were not critical of artistic merits.  Among other
things of note, the exiles were recalled, who brought back with
them the learning of the Continent and the theology of Geneva, and
an intense hatred for all the old forms of superstition,--images,
crucifixes, lighted candles, Catholic vestments,--and a supreme
regard for the authority of the Scriptures, rather than the
authority of the Church.

These men, mostly learned and pious, were not contented with the
restoration as effected by Elizabeth's reformers,--they wanted
greater simplicity of worship and a more definite and logical
creed; and they made a good deal of trouble, being very
conscientious and somewhat narrow and intolerant.  So that, after
the re-establishment of Protestantism, the religious history of the
reign is chiefly concerned with the quarrels and animosities within
the Church, particularly about vestments and modes of worship,--
things unessential, minute, technical,--which led to great acerbity
on both sides, and to some persecution; for these quarrels provoked
the Queen and her ministers, who wanted peace and uniformity.  To
the Government it seemed strange and absurd for these returned
exiles to make such a fuss about a few externals; to these
intensified Protestants it seemed harsh and cruel that Government
should insist on such a rigid uniformity, and punish them for not
doing as they were bidden by the bishops.

So they separated from the Established Church, and became what were
called Nonconformists,--having not only disgust of the decent
ritualism of the Church, but great wrath for the bishops and
hierarchy and spiritual courts.  They also disapproved of the holy
days which the Church retained, and the prayers and the cathedral
style of worship, the use of the cross in baptism, godfathers and
godmothers, the confirmation of children, kneeling at the
sacrament, bowing at the name of Jesus, the ring in marriage, the
surplice, the divine right of bishops, and some other things which
reminded them of Rome, for which they had absolute detestation,
seeing in the old Catholic Church nothing but abominations and
usurpations, no religion at all, only superstition and anti-
Christian government and doctrine,--the reign of the beast, the
mystic Babylon, the scarlet mother revelling in the sorceries of
ancient Paganism.  These terrible animosities against even the
shadows and resemblances of what was called Popery were increased
and intensified by the persecution and massacres which the
Catholics about this time were committing on the Protestants in
France and Germany and the Low Countries, and which filled the
people of England,--especially the middle and lower classes, with
fear, alarm, anger, and detestation.

I will not enter upon the dissensions which so early crept into the
English Church, and led to a separation or a schism, whatever name
it goes by,--to most people in these times not very interesting or
edifying, because they were not based on any great ideas of
universal application, and seeming to such minds as Bacon and
Parker and Jewell rather narrow and frivolous.

The great Puritan controversy would have no dignity if it were
confined to vestments and robes and forms of worship, and hatred of
ceremonies and holy days, and other matters which seemed to lean to
Romanism.  But the grandeur and the permanence of the movement were
in a return to the faith of the primitive Church and a purer
national morality, and to the unrestricted study of the Bible, and
the exaltation of preaching and Christian instruction over forms
and liturgies and antiphonal chants; above all, the exaltation of
reason and learning in the interpretation of revealed truth, and
the education of the people in all matters which concern their
temporal or religious interests, so that a true and rapid progress
was inaugurated in civilization itself, which has peculiarly marked
all Protestant countries having religious liberty.  Underneath all
these apparently insignificant squabbles and dissensions there were
two things of immense historical importance: first, a spirit of
intolerance on the part of government and of church dignitaries,--
the State allied with the Church forcing uniformity with their
decrees, and severely punishing those who did not accept them,--in
matters beyond all worldly authority; and, secondly, a rising
spirit of religious liberty, determined to assert its glorious
rights at any cost or hazard, and especially defended by the most
religious and earnest part of the clergy, who were becoming
Calvinistic in their creed, and were pushing the ideas of the
Reformation to their utmost logical sequence.  This spirit was
suppressed during the reign of Elizabeth, out of general respect
and love for her as a Queen, and the external dangers to which the
realm was exposed from Spain and France, which diverted the
national mind.  But it burst out fiercely in the next reigns, under
James and Charles, about the beginning of the seventeenth century.
And this is the last development of the Reformation in England to
which I can allude,--the great Puritan contest for liberty of
worship, running, when opposed unjustly and cruelly, into a contest
for civil liberty; that is, the right to change forms and
institutions of civil government, even to the dethronement of
kings, when it was the expressed and declared will of the people,
in whom was vested the ultimate source of sovereignty.

But here I must be brief.  I tread on familiar ground, made
familiar by all our literature, especially by the most brilliant
writer of modern times, though not the greatest philosopher: I mean
that great artist and word-painter Macaulay, whose chief excellence
is in making clear and interesting and vivid, by a world of
illustration and practical good-sense and marvellous erudition,
what was obvious to his own objective mind, and obvious also to
most other enlightened people not much interested in metaphysical
disquisitions.  No man more than he does justice to the love of
liberty which absolutely burned in the souls of the Puritans,--that
glorious party which produced Milton and Cromwell, and Hampden and
Bunyan, and Owen and Calamy, and Baxter and Howe.

The chief peculiarity of those Puritans--once called
Nonconformists, afterwards Presbyterians and Independents--was
their reception of the creed of John Calvin, the clearest and most
logical intellect that the Reformation produced, though not the
broadest; who reigned as a religious dictator at Geneva and in the
Reformed churches of France, and who gave to John Knox the
positivism and sternness and rigidity which he succeeded in
impressing upon the churches of Scotland.  And the peculiar
doctrines which marked Calvin and his disciples were those deduced
from the majesty of God and the comparative littleness of man,
leading to and bound up with the impotence of the will, human
dependence, the necessity of Divine grace,--Augustinian in spirit,
but going beyond Augustine in the subtlety of metaphysical
distinctions and dissertations on free-will election, and
predestination,--unfathomable, but exceedingly attractive subjects
to the divines of the seventeenth century, creating a metaphysical
divinity, a theology of the brain rather than of the heart, a
brilliant series of logical and metaphysical deductions from
established truths, demanding to be received with the same
unhesitating obedience as the truths, or Bible declarations, from
which they are deduced.  The greatness of human reason was never
more forcibly shown than in these deductions; but they were carried
so far as to insult reason itself and mock the consciousness of
mankind; so that mankind rebelled against the very force of the
highest reasonings of the human intellect, because they pushed
logical sequence into absurdity, or to dreadful conclusions:
Decretum quidem horribile fateor, said the great master himself.

The Puritans were trained in this theology, which developed the
loftiest virtues and the severest self-constraints; making them
both heroes and visionaries, always conscientious and sometimes
repulsive; fitting them for gigantic tasks and unworthy squabbles;
driving them to the Bible, and then to acrimonious discussions;
creating fears almost mediaeval; leading them to technical
observation of religious duties, and transforming the most genial
and affectionate people under the sun into austere saints, with
whom the most ascetic of monks would have had but little sympathy.

I will not dwell on those peculiarities which Macaulay ridicules
and Taine repeats,--the hatred of theatres and assemblies and
symbolic festivals and bell-ringings, the rejection of the
beautiful, the elongated features, the cropped hair, the unadorned
garments, the proscription of innocent pleasures, the nasal voice,
the cant phrases, the rigid decorums, the strict discipline,--
these, doubtless exaggerated, were more than balanced by the
observance of the Sabbath, family prayers, temperate habits, fervor
of religious zeal, strict morality, allegiance to duty, and the
perpetual recognition of God Almighty as the sovereign of this
world, to whom we are responsible for all our acts and even our
thoughts.  They formed a noble material on which every emancipating
idea could work; men trained by persecutions to self-sacrifice and
humble duties,--making good soldiers, good farmers, good workmen in
every department, honest and sturdy, patient and self-reliant,
devoted to their families though not demonstrative of affection;
keeping the Sunday as a day of worship rather than rest or
recreation, cherishing as the dearest and most sacred of all
privileges the right to worship God according to the dictates of
conscience enlightened by the Bible, and willing to fight, even
amid the greatest privations and sacrifices, to maintain this
sacred right and transmit it to their children.  Such were the men
who fought the battles of civil liberty under Cromwell, and
colonized the most sterile of all American lands, making the dreary
wilderness to blossom with roses, and sending out the shoots of
their civilization to conserve more fruitful and favored sections
of the great continent which God gave them, to try new experiments
in liberty and education.

I need not enumerate the different sects into which these Puritans
were divided, so soon as they felt they had the right to interpret
Scripture for themselves.  Nor would I detail the various and cruel
persecutions to which these sects were subjected by the government
and the ecclesiastical tribunals, until they rose in indignation
and despair, and rebelled against the throne, and made war on the
King, and cut off his head; all of which they did from fear and for
self-defence as well as from vengeance and wrath.

Nor can I describe the counter reformation, the great reaction
which succeeded to the violence of the revolution.  The English
reformation was not consummated until constitutional liberty was
heralded by the reign of William and Mary, when the nation became
almost unanimously Protestant, with perfect toleration of religions
opinions, although the fervor of the Puritans had passed away
forever, leaving a residuum of deep-seated popular antipathy to all
the institutions of Romanism and all the ideas of the Middle Ages.
The English reformation began with princes, and ended with the
agitations of the people.  The German reformation began with the
people, and ended in the wars of princes.  But both movements were
sublime, since they showed the force of religious ideas.  Civil
liberty is only one of the sequences which exalt the character and
dignity of man amid the seductions and impediments of a gilded
material life.


Todd's Life of Cranmer; Strype's Life of Cranmer; Wood's Annals of
the Oxford University; Burnet's English Reformation; Doctor
Lingard's History of England; Macaulay's Essays; Fuller's Church
History; Gilpin's Life of Cranmer; Original Letters to Cromwell;
Hook's Lives of the Archbishops of Canterbury; Butler's Book of the
Roman Catholic Church; Wordsworth's Ecclesiastical biography;
Turner's Henry VIII.; Froude's History of England; Fox's Life of
Latimer; Turner's Reign of Mary.


A.D. 1491-1556


Next to the Protestant Reformation itself, the most memorable moral
movement in the history of modern times was the counter-reformation
in the Roman Catholic Church, finally effected, in no slight
degree, by the Jesuits.  But it has not the grandeur or historical
significance of the great insurrection of human intelligence which
was headed by Luther.  It was a revival of the pietism of the
Middle Ages, with an external reform of manners.  It was not
revolutionary; it did not cast off the authority of the popes, nor
disband the monasteries, nor reform religious worship: it rather
tended to strengthen the power of the popes, to revive monastic
life, and to perpetuate the forms of worship which the Middle Ages
had established.  No doubt a new religions life was kindled, and
many of the flagrant abuses of the papal empire were redressed, and
the lives of the clergy made more decent, in accordance with the
revival of intelligence.  Nor did it disdain literature or art, or
any form of modern civilization, but sought to combine progress
with old ideas; it was an effort to adapt the Roman theocracy to
changing circumstances, and was marked by expediency rather than
right, by zeal rather than a profound philosophy.

This movement took place among the Latin races,--the Italians,
French, and Spaniards,--having no hold on the Teutonic races except
in Austria, as much Slavonic as German.  It worked on a poor
material, morally considered; among peoples who have not been
distinguished for stamina of character, earnestness, contemplative
habits, and moral elevation,--peoples long enslaved, frivolous in
their pleasures, superstitious, indolent, fond of fetes,
spectacles, pictures, and Pagan reminiscences.

The doctrine of justification by faith was not unknown, even in
Italy.  It was embraced by many distinguished men.  Contarini, an
illustrious Venetian, wrote a treatise on it, which Cardinal Pole
admired.  Folengo ascribed justification to grace alone; and
Vittoria Colonna, the friend of Michael Angelo, took a deep
interest in these theological inquiries.  But the doctrine did not
spread; it was not understood by the people,--it was a speculation
among scholars and doctors, which gave no alarm to the Pope.  There
was even an attempt at internal reform under Paul III. of the
illustrious family of the Farnese, successor of Leo X. and Clement
VII., the two renowned Medicean popes.  He made cardinals of
Contarini, Caraffa, Sadoleto, Pole, Giberto,--all imbued with
reformative doctrines, and very religious; and these good men
prepared a plan of reform and submitted it to the Pope, which
ended, however, only in new monastic orders.

It was then that Ignatius Loyola appeared upon the stage, when
Luther was in the midst of his victories, and when new ideas were
shaking the pontifical throne.  The desponding successor of the
Gregorys and the Clements knew not where to look for aid in that
crisis of peril and revolution.  The monastic orders composed his
regular army, but they had become so corrupted that they had lost
the reverence of the people.  The venerable Benedictines had
ceased to be men of prayer and contemplation as in the times of
Bernard and Anselm, and were revelling in their enormous wealth.
The cloisters of Cluniacs and Cistercians--branches of the
Benedictines--were filled with idle and dissolute monks.  The
famous Dominicans and Franciscans, who had rallied to the defence
of the Papacy three centuries before,--those missionary orders that
had filled the best pulpits and the highest chairs of philosophy in
the scholastic age,--had become inexhaustible subjects of sarcasm
and mockery, for they were peddling relics and indulgences, and
quarrelling among themselves.  They were hated as inquisitors,
despised as scholastics, and deserted as preachers; the roads and
taverns were filled with them.  Erasmus laughed at them, Luther
abused them, and the Pope reproached them.  No hope from such men
as these, although they had once been renowned for their missions,
their zeal, their learning, and their preaching.

At this crisis Loyola and his companions volunteered their
services, and offered to go wherever the Pope should send them, as
preachers, or missionaries, or teachers, instantly, without
discussion, conditions, or rewards.  So the Pope accepted them,
made them a new religions Order; and they did what the Mendicant
Friars had done three hundred years before,--they fanned a new
spirit, and rapidly spread over Europe, over all the countries to
which Catholic adventurers had penetrated, and became the most
efficient allies that the popes ever had.

This was in 1540, six years after the foundation of the Society of
Jesus had been laid on the Mount of Martyrs, in the vicinity of
Paris, during the pontificate of Paul III.  Don Inigo Lopez de
Recalde Loyola, a Spaniard of noble blood and breeding, at first a
page at the court of King Ferdinand, then a brave and chivalrous
soldier, was wounded at the siege of Pampeluna.  During a slow
convalescence, having read all the romances he could find, he took
up the "Lives of the Saints," and became fired with religious zeal.
He immediately forsook the pursuit of arms, and betook himself
barefooted to a pilgrimage.  He served the sick in hospitals; he
dwelt alone in a cavern, practising austerities; he went as a
beggar on foot to Rome and to the Holy Land, and returned at the
age of thirty-three to begin a course of study.  It was while
completing his studies at Paris that he conceived and formed the
"Society of Jesus."

From that time we date the counter-reformation.  In fifty years
more a wonderful change took place in the Catholic Church, wrought
chiefly by the Jesuits.  Yea, in sixteen years from that eventful
night--when far above the star-lit city the enthusiastic Loyola had
bound his six companions with irrevocable vows--he had established
his Society in the confidence and affection of Catholic Europe,
against the voice of universities, the fears of monarchs, and the
jealousy of the other monastic orders.  In sixteen years, this
ridiculed and wandering Spanish zealot had risen to a condition of
great influence and dignity, second only in power to the Pope
himself; animating the councils of the Vatican, moving the minds of
kings, controlling the souls of a numerous fraternity, and making
his influence felt in every corner of the world.  Before the
remembrance of his passionate eloquence, his eyes of fire, and his
countenance of seraphic piety had passed away from the minds of his
own generation, his disciples "had planted their missionary
stations among Peruvian mines, in the marts of the African slave-
trade, among the islands of the Indian Ocean, on the coasts of
Hindustan, in the cities of Japan and China, in the recesses of
Canadian forests, amid the wilds of the Rocky Mountains."  They had
the most important chairs in the universities; they were the
confessors of monarchs and men of rank; they had the control of the
schools of Italy, France, Austria, and Spain; and they had become
the most eloquent, learned, and fashionable preachers in all
Catholic countries.  They had grown to be a great institution,--an
organization instinct with life, a mechanism endued with energy and
will; forming a body which could outwatch Argus with his hundred
eyes, and outwork Briareus with his hundred arms; they had twenty
thousand eyes open upon every cabinet, every palace, and every
private family in Catholic Europe, and twenty thousand arms
extended over the necks of every sovereign and all their subjects,
--a mighty moral and spiritual power, irresponsible, irresistible,
omnipresent, connected intimately with the education, the learning,
and the religion of the age; yea, the prime agents in political
affairs, the prop alike of absolute monarchies and of the papal
throne, whose interests they made identical.  This association,
instinct with one will and for one purpose, has been beautifully
likened by Doctor Williams to the chariot in the Prophet's vision:
"The spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels; wherever the
living creatures went, the wheels went with them; wherever those
stood, these stood: when the living creatures were lifted up, the
wheels were lifted up over against them; and their wings were full
of eyes round about, and they were so high that they were dreadful.
So of the institution of Ignatius,--one soul swayed the vast mass;
and every pin and every cog in the machinery consented with its
whole power to every movement of the one central conscience."

Luther moved Europe by ideas which emancipated the millions, and
set in motion a progress which is the glory of our age; Loyola
invented an agency which arrested this progress, and led the
Catholic world back again into the subjections and despotisms of
the Middle Ages, retaining however the fear of God and of Hell,
which are the extremes of human motive.

What is the secret of such a wonderful success?  Two things: first,
the extraordinary virtues, abilities, and zeal of the early
Jesuits; and, secondly, their wonderful machinery in adapting means
to an end.

The history of society shows that no body of men ever obtained a
wide-spread ascendancy, never secured general respect, unless they
deserved it.  Industry produces its fruits; learning and piety have
their natural results.  Even in the moral world natural law asserts
its supremacy.  Hypocrisy and fraud ultimately will be detected; no
enduring reputation is built upon a lie; sincerity and earnestness
will call out respect, even from foes; learning and virtue are
lights which are not hid under a bushel.  Enthusiasm creates
enthusiasm; a lofty life will be seen and honored.  Nor do people
intrust their dearest interests except to those whom they
venerate,--and venerate because their virtues shine like the face
of a goddess.  We yield to those only whom we esteem wiser than
ourselves.  Moses controlled the Israelites because they venerated
his wisdom and courage; Paul had the confidence of the infant
churches because they saw his labors; Bernard swayed his darkened
age by the moral power of learning and sanctity.  The mature
judgments of centuries never have reversed the judgments which past
ages gave in reference to their master minds.  All the pedants and
sophists of Europe cannot whitewash Frederic II. or Henry VIII.
No man in Athens was more truly venerated than Socrates when
he mocked his judges.  Cicero, Augustine, Aquinas, appeared to
contemporaries, as they appear to us.  Even Hildebrand did not
juggle himself into his theocratic chair.  Washington deserved all
the reverence he enjoyed; and Bonaparte himself was worthy of the
honors he received, so long as he was true to the interests of

So of the Jesuits,--there is no mystery in their success; the same
causes would produce the same results again.  When Catholic Europe
saw men born to wealth and rank voluntarily parting with their
goods and honors; devoting themselves to religious duties, often in
a humble sphere; spending their days in schools and hospitals;
wandering as preachers and missionaries amid privations and in
fatigue; encountering perils and dangers and hardships with fresh
and ever-sustained enthusiasm; and finally yielding up their lives
as martyrs, to proclaim salvation to idolatrous savages,--it knew
them to be heroic, and believed them to be sincere, and honored
them in consequence.  When parents saw that the Jesuits entered
heart and soul into the work of education, winning their pupils'
hearts by kindness, watching their moods, directing their minds
into congenial studies, and inspiring them with generous
sentiments, they did not stop to pry into their motives; and
universities, when they discovered the superior culture of educated
Jesuits, outstripping all their associates in learning, and
shedding a light by their genius and erudition, very naturally
appointed them to the highest chairs; and even the people, when
they saw that the Jesuits were not stained by vulgar vices, but
were hard-working; devoted to their labors, earnest, and eloquent,
put themselves under their teachings; and especially when they
added gentlemanly manners, good taste, and agreeable conversation
to their unimpeachable morality and religious fervor, they made
these men their confessors as well as preachers.  Their lives stood
out in glorious contrast with those of the old monks and the
regular clergy, in an age of infidel levities, when the Italian
renaissance was bearing its worst fruits, and men were going back
to Pagan antiquity for their pleasures and opinions.

That the early Jesuits blazed with virtues and learning and piety
has never been denied, although these things have been poetically
exaggerated.  The world was astonished at their intrepidity, zeal,
and devotion.  They were not at first intriguing, or ambitious, or
covetous.  They loved their Society; but they loved still more what
they thought was the glory of God.  Ad majoram Dei gloriam was the
motto which was emblazoned on their standard when they went forth
as Christian warriors to overcome the heresies of Christendom and
the superstitions of idolaters.  "The Jesuit missionary," says
Stephen, "with his breviary under his arm, his beads at his girdle,
and his crucifix in his hands, went forth without fear, to
encounter the most dreaded dangers.  Martyrdom was nothing to him;
he knew that the altar which might stream with his blood, and the
mound which might be raised over his remains, would become a
cherished object of his fame and an expressive emblem of the power
of his religion."  "If I die," said Xavier, when about to visit the
cannibal Island of Del Moro, "who knows but what all may receive
the Gospel, since it is most certain it has ever fructified more
abundantly in the field of Paganism by the blood of martyrs than by
the labors of missionaries,"--a sublime truth, revealed to him in
his whole course of protracted martyrdom and active philanthropy,
especially in those last hours when, on the Island of Sanshan, he
expired, exclaiming, as his fading eyes rested on the crucifix, In
te Domine speravi, non confundar in eternum.  "In perils, in
fastings, in fatigues, was the life of this remarkable man passed,
in order to convert the heathen world; and in ten years he had
traversed a tract of more than twice the circumference of the
earth, preaching, disputing, and baptizing, until seventy thousand
converts, it is said, were the fruits of his mission."*  " My
companion," said the fearless Marquette, when exploring the
prairies of the Western wilderness, "is an envoy of France to
discover new countries, and I am an ambassador of God to enlighten
them with the Gospel."  Lalemant, when pierced with the arrows of
the Iroquois, rejoiced that his martyrdom would induce others to
follow his example.  The missions of the early Jesuits extorted
praises from Baxter and panegyric from Liebnitz.

* I am inclined to think that this statement is exaggerated; or, if
true, that conversion was merely nominal.  In any event, his labors
were vast.

And not less remarkable than these missionaries were those who
labored in other spheres.  Loyola himself, though visionary and
monastic, had no higher wish than to infuse piety into the Catholic
Church, and to strengthen the hands of him whom he regarded as
God's vicegerent.  Somehow or other he succeeded in securing the
absolute veneration of his companions, so much so that the sainted
Xavier always wrote to him on his knees.  His "Spiritual Exercises"
has ever remained the great text-book of the Jesuits,--a compend of
fasts and penances, of visions and of ecstasies; rivalling Saint
Theresa herself in the rhapsodies of an exalted piety, showing the
chivalric and romantic ardor of a Spanish nobleman directed into
the channel of devotion to an invisible Lord.  See this wounded
soldier at the siege of Pampeluna, going through all the
experiences of a Syriac monk in his Manresan cave, and then turning
his steps to Paris to acquire a university education; associating
only with the pious and the learned, drawing to him such gifted men
as Faber and Xavier, Salmeron and Lainez, Borgia and Bobadilla, and
inspiring them with his ideas and his fervor; living afterwards, at
Venice, with Caraffa (the future Paul IV.) in the closest intimacy,
preaching at Vicenza, and forming a new monastic code, as full of
genius and originality as it was of practical wisdom, which became
the foundation of a system of government never surpassed in the
power of its mechanism to bind the minds and wills of men.  Loyola
was a most extraordinary man in the practical turn he gave to
religious rhapsodies; creating a legislation for his Society which
made it the most potent religious organization in the world.  All
his companions were remarkable likewise for different traits and
excellences, which yet were made to combine in sustaining the unity
of this moral mechanism.  Lainez had even a more comprehensive mind
than Loyola.  It was he who matured the Jesuit Constitution, and
afterwards controlled the Council of Trent,--a convocation which
settled the creed of the Catholic Church, especially in regard to
justification, and which extolled the merits of Christ, but
attributed justification to good works in a different sense from
that understood and taught by Luther.

Aside from the personal gifts and qualities of the early Jesuits,
they would not have so marvellously succeeded had it not been for
their remarkable constitution,--that which bound the members of the
Society together, and gave to it a peculiar unity and force.  The
most marked thing about it was the unbounded and unhesitating
obedience required of every member to superiors, and of these
superiors to the General of the Order,--so that there was but one
will.  This law of obedience is, as every one knows, one of the
fundamental principles of all the monastic orders from the earliest
times, enforced by Benedict as well as Basil.  Still there was a
difference in the vow of obedience.  The head of a monastery in the
Middle Ages was almost supreme.  The Lord Abbot was obedient only
to the Pope, and he sought the interests of his monastery rather
than those of the Pope.  But Loyola exacted obedience to the
General of the Order so absolutely that a Jesuit became a slave.
This may seem a harsh epithet; there is nothing gained by using
offensive words, but Protestant writers have almost universally
made these charges.  From their interpretation of the constitutions
of Loyola and Lainez and Aquaviva, a member of the Society had no
will of his own; he did not belong to himself, he belonged to his
General,--as in the time of Abraham a child belonged to his father
and a wife to her husband; nay, even still more completely.  He
could not write or receive a letter that was not read by his
Superior.  When he entered the order, he was obliged to give away
his property, but could not give it to his relatives.*  When he
made confession, he was obliged to tell his most intimate and
sacred secrets.  He could not aspire to any higher rank than that
he held; he had no right to be ambitious, or seek his own
individual interests; he was merged body and soul into the Society;
he was only a pin in the machinery; he was bound to obey even his
own servant, if required by his Superior; he was less than a
private soldier in an army; he was a piece of wax to be moulded as
the Superior directed,--and the Superior, in his turn, was a piece
of wax in the hands of the Provincial, and he again in the hands of
the General.  "There were many gradations in rank, but every rank
was a gradation in slavery."  The Jesuit is accused of having no
individual conscience.  He was bound to do what he was told, right
or wrong; nothing was right and nothing was wrong except as the
Society pronounced.  The General stood in the place of God.  That
man was the happiest who was most mechanical.  Every novice had a
monitor, and every monitor was a spy.**  So strict was the rule of
Loyola, that he kept Francis Borgia, Duke of Gandia, three years
out of the Society, because he refused to renounce all intercourse
with his family.***

* Ranke.

** Steinmetz, i. p. 252.

*** Nicolini, p. 35.

The Jesuit was obliged to make all natural ties subordinate to the
will of the General.  And this General was a king more absolute
than any worldly monarch, because he reigned over the minds of his
subjects.  His kingdom was an imperium in imperio; he was chosen
for life and was responsible to no one, although he ruled for the
benefit of the Catholic Church.  In one sense a General of the
Jesuits resembled the prime minister of an absolute monarch,--say
such a man as Richelieu, with unfettered power in the cause of
absolutism; and he ruled like Richelieu, through his spies, making
his subordinates tools and instruments.  The General appointed the
presidents of colleges and of the religious houses; he admitted or
dismissed, dispensed or punished, at his pleasure.  There was no
complaint; all obeyed his orders, and saw in him the representative
of Divine Providence.  Complaint was sin; resistance was ruin.  It
is hard for us to understand how any man could be brought
voluntarily to submit to such a despotism.  But the novice entering
the order had to go through terrible discipline,--to be a servant,
anything; to live according to rigid rules, so that his spirit was
broken by mechanical duties.  He had to learn the virtues of
obedience before he could be fully enrolled in the Society.  He was
drilled for years by spiritual sergeants more rigorously than a
soldier in Napoleon's army: hence the efficiency of the body; it
was a spiritual army of the highest disciplined troops.  Loyola had
been a soldier; he knew what military discipline could do,--how
impotent an army is without it, what an awful power it is with
discipline, and the severer the better.  The best soldier of a
modern army is he who has become an unconscious piece of machinery;
and it was this unreflecting, unconditional obedience which made
the Society so efficient, and the General himself, who controlled
it, such an awful power for good or for evil.  I am only speaking
of the organization, the machinery, the regime, of the Jesuits, not
of their character, not of their virtues or vices.  This
organization is to be spoken of as we speak of the discipline of an
army,--wise or unwise, as it reached its end.  The original aim of
the Jesuits was the restoration of the Papal Church to its ancient
power; and for one hundred years, as I think, the restoration of
morals, higher education, greater zeal in preaching: in short, a
reformation within the Church.  Jesuitism was, of course, opposed
to Protestantism; it hated the Protestants; it hated their
religions creed and their emancipating and progressive spirit; it
hated religious liberty.

I need not dwell on other things which made this religious order so
successful,--not merely their virtues and their mechanism, but
their adaptation to the changing spirit of the times.  They threw
away the old dresses of monastic life; they quitted the cloister
and places of meditation; they were preachers as well as scholars;
they accommodated themselves to the circumstances of the times;
they wore the ordinary dress of gentlemen; they remained men of the
world, of fine manners and cultivated speech; there was nothing
ascetic or repulsive about them, out in the world; they were all
things to all men, like politicians, in order to accomplish their
ends; they never were lazy, or profligate or luxurious.  If their
Order became enriched, they as individuals remained poor.  The
inferior members were not even ambitious; like good soldiers, they
thought of nothing but the work assigned to them.  Their pride and
glory were the prosperity of their Order,--an intense esprit de
corps, never equalled by any body of men.  This, of course, while
it gave them efficiency, made them narrow.  They could see the
needle on the barn-door,--they could not see the door itself.
Hence there could be no agreement with them, no argument with them,
except on ordinary matters; they were as zealous as Saul, seeking
to make proselytes.  They yielded nothing except in order to win;
they never compromised their Order in their cause.  Their fidelity
to their head was marvellous; and so long as they confined
themselves to the work of making people better, I think they
deserved praise.  I do not like their military organization, but I
should have no more right to abuse it than the organization of some
Protestant sects.  That is a matter of government; all sects and
all parties, Catholic and Protestant, have a right to choose their
own government to carry out their ends, even as military generals
have a right to organize their forces in their own way.  The
history of the Jesuits shows this,--that an organization of forces,
or what we call discipline or government, is a great thing.  A
church without a government is a poor affair, so far as efficiency
is concerned.  All churches have something to learn from the
Jesuits in the way of discipline.  John Wesley learned something;
the Independents learned very little.

But there is another side to the Jesuits.  We have seen why they
succeeded; we have to inquire how they failed.  If history speaks
of the virtues of the early members, and the wonderful mechanism of
their Order, and their great success in consequence, it also speaks
of the errors they committed, by which they lost the confidence
they had gained.  From being the most popular of all the adherents
of the papal power, and of the ideas of the Dark Ages, they became
the most unpopular; they became so odious that the Pope was
obliged, by the pressure of public opinion and of the Bourbon
courts of Europe, to suppress their Order.  The fall of the Jesuits
was as significant as their rise.  I need not dwell on that fall,
which is one of the best known facts of history.

Why did the Jesuits become unpopular and lose their influence?

They gained the confidence of Catholic countries because they
deserved it, and they lost that confidence because they deserved to
lose it,--in other words, because they degenerated; and this seems
to be the history of all institutions.  It is strange, it is
passing strange, that human societies and governments and
institutions should degenerate as soon as they become rich and
powerful; but such, is the fact,--a sad commentary on the doctrine
of a necessary progress of the race, or the natural tendency to
good, which so many cherish, but than which nothing can be more
false, as proved by experience and the Scriptures.  Why were the
antediluvians swept away?  Why could not those races retain their
primitive revelation?  Why did the descendants of Noah become
almost idolaters before he was dead?  Why did the great Persian
Empire become as effeminate as the empires it had supplanted?  Why
did the Jewish nation steadily retrograde after David?  Why did not
civilization and Christianity save the Roman world?  Why did
Christianity itself become corrupted in four centuries?  Why did
not the Middle Ages preserve the evangelical doctrines of Augustine
and Jerome and Chrysostom and Ambrose?  Why did the light of the
glorious Reformation of Luther nearly go out in the German cities
and universities?  Why did the fervor of the Puritans burn out in
England in one hundred years?  Why have the doctrines of the
Pilgrim Fathers become unfashionable in those parts of New England
where they seemed to have taken the deepest root?  Why have so many
of the descendants of the disciples of George Fox become so liberal
and advanced as to be enamoured of silk dresses and laces and
diamonds and the ritualism of Episcopal churches?  Is it an
improvement to give up a simple life and lofty religious
enthusiasm for materialistic enjoyments and epicurean display?
Is there a true advance in a university, when it exchanges its
theological teachings and its preparation of poor students for
the Gospel Ministry, for Schools of Technology and boat-clubs and
accommodations for the sons of the rich and worldly?

Now the Society of Jesus went through just such a transformation as
has taken place, almost within the memory of living men, in the
life and habits and ideas of the people of Boston and Philadelphia
and in the teachings of their universities.  Some may boldly say,
"Why not?  This change indicates progress."  But this progress is
exactly similar to that progress which the Jesuits made in the
magnificence of their churches, in the wealth they had hoarded in
their colleges, in the fashionable character of their professors
and confessors and preachers, in the adaptation of their doctrines
to the taste of the rich and powerful, in the elegance and
arrogance and worldliness of their dignitaries.  Father La Chaise
was an elegant and most polished man of the world, and travelled in
a coach with six horses.  If he had not been such a man, he would
not have been selected by Louis XIV. for his confidential and
influential confessor.  The change which took place among the
Jesuits arose from the same causes as the change which has taken
place among Methodists and Quakers and Puritans.  This change I
would not fiercely condemn, for some think it is progress.  But is
it progress in that religious life which early marked these people;
or a progress towards worldly and epicurean habits which they arose
to resist and combat?  The early Jesuits were perhaps fanatical,
strict, ascetic, religious, and narrow.  They sought by self-
denying labors and earnest exhortations, like Savonarola at
Florence, to take the Church out of the hands of the Devil; and the
people reverenced them, as they always have reverenced martyrs and
missionaries.  The later Jesuits sought to enjoy their wealth and
power and social position.  They became--as rich and prosperous
people generally become--proud, ambitious, avaricious, and worldly.
They were as elegant, as scholarly, and as luxurious as the Fellows
of Oxford University, and the occupants of stalls in the English
cathedrals,--that is all: as worldly as the professors of Yale and
Cambridge may become in half-a-century, if rich widows and brewers
and bankers without children shall some day make those universities
as well endowed as Jesuit colleges were in the eighteenth century.
That is the old story of our fallen humanity.  I would no more
abuse the Jesuits because they became confessors to the great, and
went into mercantile speculations, than I would rich and favored
clergymen in Protestant countries, who prefer ten per cent for
their money in California mines to four per cent in national

But the prosperity which the Jesuits had earned during their first
century of existence excited only envy, and destroyed the reverence
of the people; it had not made them odious, detestable.  It was the
means they adopted to perpetuate their influence, after early
virtues had passed away, which caused enlightened Catholic Europe
to mistrust them, and the Protestants absolutely to hate and vilify

From the very first, the Society was distinguished for the esprit
de corps of its members.  Of all things which they loved best it
was the power and glory of the Society,--just as Oxford Fellows
love the prestige of their university.  And this power and
influence the Jesuits determined to preserve at all hazards and by
any means; when virtues fled, they must find something else with
which to bolster themselves up: they must not part with their
power; the question was, how should they keep it?  First, they are
accused of having adopted the doctrine of expediency,--that the end
justifies the means.  They did not invent this sophistry,--it is as
old as our humanity.  Abraham used it when he told lies to the King
of Egypt, to save the honor of his wife; Caesar accepted it, when
he vindicated imperialism as the only way to save the Roman Empire
from anarchy; most politicians resort to it when they wish to gain
their ends.  Politicians have ever been as unscrupulous as the
Jesuits, in adopting expediency rather than eternal right.  It has
been a primal law of government; it lies at the basis of English
encroachments in India, and of the treatment of the aborigines in
this country by our government.  There is nothing new in the
doctrine of expediency.

But the Jesuits are accused of pushing this doctrine to its
remotest consequences, of being its most unhesitating defenders,--
so that jesuitism and expediency are popularly convertible terms.
They are accused too of perverting education, of abusing the
confessional, of corrupting moral and political philosophy, of
conforming to the inclinations of the great.  They even went so far
as to inculcate mental reservation,--thus attacking truth in its
most sacred citadel, the conscience of mankind,--on which Pascal
was so severe.  They made habit and bad example almost a sufficient
exculpation from crime.  Perjury was allowable, if the perjured
were inwardly determined not to swear.  They invented the notion of
probabilities, according to which a person might follow any opinion
he pleased, although he knew it to be wrong, provided authors of
reputation had defended that opinion.  A man might fight a duel, if
by refusing to fight he would be stigmatized as a coward.  They did
not openly justify murder, treachery, and falsehood, but they
excused the same, if plausible reasons could be urged.  In their
missions they aimed at eclat; and hence merely nominal conversions
were accepted, because these swelled their numbers.  They gave the
crucifix, which covered up all sins; they permitted their converts
to retain their ancient habits and customs.  In order to be
popular, Robert de Nobili, it is said, traced his lineage to
Brahma; and one of their missionaries among the Indians told the
savages that Christ was a warrior who scalped women and children.
Anything for an outward success.  Under their teachings it was seen
what a light affair it was to bear the yoke of Christ.  So monarchs
retained in their service confessors who imposed such easy
obligations.  So ordinary people resorted to the guidance of such
leaders, who made themselves agreeable.  The Jesuit colleges were
filled with casuists.  Their whole moral philosophy, if we may
believe Arnauld and Pascal, was a tissue of casuistry; truth was
obscured in order to secure popularity; even the most diabolical
persecution was justified if heretics stood in the way.  Father Le
Tellier rejoiced in the slaughter of Saint Bartholomew, and Te
Deums were offered in the churches for the extinction of
Protestantism by any means.  If it could be shown to be expedient,
the Jesuits excused the most outrageous crimes ever perpetrated on
this earth.

Again, the Jesuits are accused of riveting fetters on the human
mind in order to uphold their power, and to sustain the absolutism
of the popes and the absolutism of kings, to which they were
equally devoted.  They taught in their schools the doctrine of
passive obedience; they aimed to subdue the will by rigid
discipline; they were hostile to bold and free inquiries; they were
afraid of science; they hated such men as Galileo, Pascal, and
Bacon; they detested the philosophers who prepared the way for the
French Revolution; they abominated the Protestant idea of private
judgment; they opposed the progress of human thought, and were
enemies alike of the Jansenist movement in the seventeenth century
and of the French Revolution in the eighteenth.  They upheld the
absolutism of Louis XIV., and combated the English Revolution; they
sent their spies and agents to England to undermine the throne of
Elizabeth and build up the throne of Charles I.  Every emancipating
idea, in politics and in religion, they detested.  There were many
things in their system of education to be commended; they were good
classical scholars, and taught Greek and Latin admirably; they
cultivated the memory; they made study pleasing, but they did not
develop genius.  The order never produced a great philosopher; the
energies of its members were concentrated in imposing a despotic

The Jesuits are accused further of political intrigues: this is a
common and notorious charge.  They sought to control the cabinets
of Europe; they had their spies in every country.  The intrigues of
Campion and Parsons in England aimed at the restoration of Catholic
monarchs.  Mary of Scotland was a tool in their hands, and so was
Madame de Maintenon in France.  La Chaise and Le Tellier were mere
politicians.  The Jesuits became political priests; the history of
Europe the last three hundred years is full of their cabals.  Their
political influence was directed to the persecution of Protestants
as well as infidels.  They are accused of securing the revocation
of the Edict of Nantes,--one of the greatest crimes in the history
of modern times, which led to the expulsion of four hundred
thousand Protestants from France, and the execution of four hundred
thousand more.  They incited the dragonnades of Louis XIV., who was
under their influence.  They are accused of the assassination of
kings, of the fires of Smithfield, of the Gunpowder Plot, of the
cruelties inflicted by Alva, of the Thirty Years' War, of the
ferocities of the Guises, of inquisitions and massacres, of sundry
other political crimes, with what justice I do not know; but
certain it is they became objects of fear, and incurred the
hostilities of Catholic Europe, especially of all liberal thinkers,
and their downfall was demanded by the very courts of Europe.  Why
did they lose their popularity?  Why were they so distrusted and
hated?  The fact that they WERE hated is most undoubted, and there
must have been cause for it.  It is a fact that at one time they
were respected and honored, and deserved to be so: must there not
have been grave reasons for the universal change in public opinion
respecting them.  The charges against them, to which I have
alluded, must have had foundation.  They did not become idle,
gluttonous, ignorant, and sensual like the old monks: they became
greedy of power; and in order to retain it resorted to intrigues,
conspiracies, and persecutions.  They corrupted philosophy and
morality, abused the confessional, privilege, adopted SUCCESS as
their watchword, without regard to the means; they are charged with
becoming worldly, ambitious, mercenary, unscrupulous, cruel; above
all, they sought to bind the minds of men with a despotic yoke, and
waged war against all liberalizing influences.  They always were,
from first to last, narrow, pedantic, one-sided, legal, technical,
pharisaical.  The best thing about them, in the days of their
declining power, was that they always opposed infidel sentiments.
They hated Voltaire and Rousseau and the Encyclopedists as much as
they did Luther and Calvin.  They detested the principles of the
French Revolution, partly because those principles were godless,
partly because they were emancipating.

Of course, in such an infidel and revolutionary age as that of
Louis XV., when Voltaire was the oracle of Europe,--when from his
chateau near Geneva he controlled the mind of Europe, as Calvin did
two centuries earlier,--enemies would rise up, on all sides,
against the Jesuits.  Their most powerful and bitter foe was a
woman,--the mistress of Louis XV., the infamous Madame de
Pompadour.  She hated the Jesuits as Catharine de Medici hated the
Calvinists in the time of Charles IX.,--not because they were
friends of absolutism, not because they wrote casuistic books, not
because they opposed liberal principles, not because they were
spies and agents of Rome, not because they perverted education, not
because they were boastful and mercenary missionaries or cunning
intriguers in the courts of princes, not because they had marked
their course through Europe in a trail of blood, but because they
were hostile to her ascendency,--a woman who exercised about the
same influence in France as Jezebel did at the court of Ahab.  I
respect the Jesuits for the stand they took against this woman: it
is the best thing in their history.  But here they did not show
their usual worldly wisdom, and they failed.  They were judicially
blinded.  The instrument of their humiliation was a wicked woman.
So strange are the ways of Providence!  He chose Esther to save the
Jewish nation, and a harlot to punish the Jesuits.  She availed
herself of their mistakes.

It seems that the Superior of the Jesuits at Martinique failed; for
the Jesuits embarked in commercial speculations while officiating
as missionaries.  The angry creditors of La Valette, the Jesuit
banker, demanded repayment from the Order.  They refused to pay his
debts.  The case was carried to the courts, and the highest
tribunal decided against them.  That was not the worst.  In the
course of the legal proceedings, the mysterious "rule" of the
Jesuits--that which was so carefully concealed from the public--was
demanded.  Then all was revealed,--all that Pascal had accused them
of,--and the whole nation was indignant.  A great storm was raised.
The Parliament of Paris decreed the constitution of the Society to
be fatal to all government.  The King wished to save them, for he
knew that they were the best supporters of the throne of
absolutism.  But he could not resist the pressure,--the torrent of
public opinion, the entreaties of his mistress, the arguments of
his ministers.  He was compelled to demand from the Pope the
abrogation of their charter.  Other monarchs did the same; all the
Bourbon courts in Europe, for the king of Portugal narrowly escaped
assassination from a fanatical Jesuit.  Had the Jesuits consented
to a reform, they might not have fallen.  But they would make no
concessions.  Said Ricci, their General, Sint ut sunt, aut non
sint.  The Pope--Clement XIV.--was obliged to part with his best
soldiers.  Europe, Catholic Europe, demanded the sacrifice,--the
kings of Spain, of France, of Naples, of Portugal.  Compulsus feci,
compulsus feci, exclaimed the broken-hearted Pope,--the feeble and
pious Ganganelli.  So that in 1773, by a papal decree, the Order
was suppressed; 669 colleges were closed; 223 missions were
abandoned, and more than 22,000 members were dispersed.  I do not
know what became of their property, which amounted to about two
hundred millions of dollars, in the various countries of Europe.

This seems to me to have been a clear case of religious
persecution, incited by jealous governments and the infidel or the
progressive spirit of the age, on the eve of the French Revolution.
It simply marks the hostilities which, for various reasons, they
had called out.  I am inclined to think that their faults were
greatly exaggerated; but it is certain that so severe and high-
handed a measure would not have been taken by the Pope had it not
seemed to him necessary to preserve the peace of the Church.  Had
they been innocent, the Pope would have lost his throne sooner than
commit so great a wrong on his most zealous servants.  It is
impossible for a Protestant to tell how far they were guilty of the
charges preferred against them.  I do not believe that their lives,
as a general thing, were a scandal sufficient to justify so
sweeping a measure; but their institution, their regime, their
organization, their constitution, were deemed hostile to liberty
and the progress of society.  And if zealous governments--Catholic
princes themselves--should feel that the Jesuits were opposed to
the true progress of nations, how much more reason had Protestants
to distrust them, and to rejoice in their fall!

And it was not until the French Revolution and the empire of
Napoleon had passed away, not until the Bourbons had been restored
(in August, 1814), that the Order was re-established and again
protected by the Papal court.  They have now regained their ancient
power, and seem to have the confidence of Catholic Europe.  Some of
their most flourishing seminaries are in the United States.  They
are certainly not a scandal in this country, although their spirit
and organization are still maintained: regarded with some mistrust
by the strong Protestants, as a matter of course, as such a
powerful organization naturally would be; hostile still to the
circulation of the Scriptures among the people and free inquiry and
private judgment,--in short, to all the ideas of the reformation.
But whatever they are, and however askance Protestants regard them,
they have in our country,--this land of unbounded religious
toleration,--the same right to their religion and their
ecclesiastical government that any other sects have; and if
Protestants would nullify their influence so far as disliked, they
must outshine them in virtues, in a religious life, in zeal, and in
devotion to the spiritual interests of the people.  If the Jesuits
keep better schools than Protestants they will be patronized, and
if they command the respect of the Catholics for their virtues and
intelligence, whatever may be the machinery of their organization,
they will retain their power; and not until they interfere with
elections and Protestant schools, or teach dangerous doctrines of
public morality, has our Government any right to interfere with
them.  They will stand or fall as they win the respect or excite
the wrath of enlightened nations.  But the principles they are
supposed to defend,--expediency, casuistry, and hostility to free
inquiry and the circulation of the Scriptures in vernacular
languages,--these are just causes of complaint and of unrelenting
opposition among all those who accept the great ideas of the
Protestant Reformation, since they are antagonistic to what we deem
most precious in our institutions.  So long as the contest shall
last between good and evil in this world, we have a right to
declaim against all encroachments on liberty and sound morality and
an evangelical piety from any quarter whatever, and we are recreant
to our duties unless we speak our minds.  Hence, from the light I
have, I regard the Society of Jesus as a questionable institution,
unfortunately planted among us, but which we cannot help, and can
attack, if at all, only with the weapons of reason and truth.

And yet I am free to say that for my part I prefer even the Jesuit
discipline and doctrines, much as I dislike them, to the unblushing
infidelity which has lately been propagated by those who call
themselves savans,--and which seems to have reached and even
permeated many of the schools of science, the newspapers,
periodicals, clubs, and even pulpits of this materialistic though
progressive country.  I make war on the slavery of the will and a
religion of formal technicalities; but I prefer these evils to a
godless rationalism and the extinction of the light of faith.


Secreta Monita; Steinmetz's History of the Jesuits; Ranke's History
of the Popes; Spiritual Exercises; Encyclopaedia Britannica;
Biographie Universelle; Fall of the Jesuits, by St. Priest; Lives
of Ignatius Loyola, Aquiviva, Lainez, Salmeron, Borgia, Xavier,
Bobadilla; Pascal's Provincial Letters; Bonhours' Cretineau;
Lingard's History of England; Tierney; Lettres Aedificantes; Jesuit
Missions; Memoires Secretes du Cardinal Dubois; Tanner's Societas
Jesu; Dodd's Church History.


A. D. 1509-1564.


John Calvin was pre-eminently the theologian of the Reformation,
and stamped his genius on the thinking of his age,--equally an
authority with the Swiss, the Dutch, the Huguenots, and the
Puritans.  His vast influence extends to our own times.  His fame
as a benefactor of mind is immortal, although it cannot be said
that he is as much admired and extolled now as he was fifty years
ago.  Nor was he ever a favorite with the English Church.  He has
been even grossly misrepresented by theological opponents; but no
critic or historian has ever questioned his genius, his learning,
or his piety.  No one denies that he has exerted a great influence
on Protestant countries.  As a theologian he ranks with Saint
Augustine and Thomas Aquinas,--maintaining essentially the same
views as those held by these great lights, and being distinguished
for the same logical power; reigning like them as an intellectual
dictator in the schools, but not so interesting as they were as
men.  And he was more than a theologian; he was a reformer and
legislator, laying down rules of government, organizing church
discipline, and carrying on reforms in the worship of God,--second
only to Luther.  His labors were prodigious as theologian,
commentator, and ecclesiastical legislator; and we are surprised
that a man with so feeble a body could have done so much work.

Calvin was born in Picardy in 1509,--the year that Henry VIII.
ascended the British throne, and the year that Luther began to
preach at Wittenberg.  He was not a peasant's son, like Luther, but
belonged to what the world calls a good family.  Intellectually he
was precocious, and received an excellent education at a college in
Paris, being destined for the law by his father, who sent him to
the University of Orleans and then to Bourges, where he studied
under eminent jurists, and made the acquaintance of many
distinguished men.  His conversion took place about the year 1529,
when he was twenty; and this gave a new direction to his studies
and his life.  He was a pale-faced young man, with sparkling eyes,
sedate and earnest beyond his years.  He was twenty-three when he
published the books of Seneca on Clemency, with learned
commentaries.  At the age of twenty-three he was in communion with
the reformers of Germany, and was acknowledged to be, even at that
early age, the head of the reform party in France.  In 1533 he went
to Paris, then as always the centre of the national life, where the
new ideas were creating great commotion in scholarly and
ecclesiastical circles, and even in the court itself.  Giving
offence to the doctors of the Sorbonne for his evangelical views as
to Justification, he was obliged to seek refuge with the Queen of
Navarre, whose castle at Pau was the resort of persecuted
reformers.  After leading rather a fugitive life in different parts
of France, he retreated to Switzerland, and at twenty-six published
his celebrated "Institutes," which he dedicated to Francis I.,
hoping to convert him to the Protestant faith.  After a short
residence in Italy, at the court of the Duchess of Ferrara, he took
up his abode at Geneva, and his great career began.

Geneva, a city of the Allobroges in the time of Caesar, possessed
at this time about twenty thousand inhabitants, and was a free
state, having a constitution somewhat like that of Florence when it
was under the control of Savonarola.  It had rebelled against the
Duke of Savoy, who seems to have been in the fifteenth century its
patron ruler.  The government of this little Savoyard state became
substantially like that which existed among the Swiss cantons.  The
supreme power resided in the council of Two Hundred, which alone
had the power to make or abolish laws.  There was a lesser council
of Sixty, for diplomatic objects only.

The first person who preached the reformed doctrines in Geneva was
the missionary Farel, a French nobleman, spiritual, romantic, and
zealous.  He had great success, although he encountered much
opposition and wrath.  But the reformed doctrines were already
established in Zurich, Berne, and Basle, chiefly through the
preaching of Ulrich Zwingli, and OEcolampadius.  The apostolic
Farel welcomed with great cordiality the arrival of Calvin, then
already known as an extraordinary man, though only twenty-eight
years of age.  He came to Geneva poor, and remained poor all his
life.  All his property at his death amounted to only two hundred
dollars.  As a minister in one of the churches, he soon began to
exert a marvellous influence.  He must have been eloquent, for he
was received with enthusiasm.  This was in 1536.  But he soon met
with obstacles.  He was worried by the Anabaptists; and even his
orthodoxy was impeached by one Coroli, who made much mischief, so
that Calvin was obliged to publish his Genevan Catechism in Latin.
He also offended many by his outspoken rebuke of sin, for he aimed
at a complete reformation of morals, like Latimer in London and
like Savonarola at Florence.  He sought to reprove amusements which
were demoralizing, or thought to be so in their influence.  The
passions of the people were excited, and the city was torn by
parties; and such was the reluctance to submit to the discipline of
the ministers that they refused to administer the sacraments.  This
created such a ferment that the syndics expelled Calvin and Farel
from the city.  They went at first to Berne, but the Bernese would
not receive them.  They then retired to Basle, wearied, wet, and
hungry, and from Basle they went to Strasburg.  It was in this city
that Calvin dwelt three years, spending his time in lecturing on
divinity, in making contributions to exegetical theology, in
perfecting his "Institutes," forming a close alliance with
Melancthon and other leading reformers.  So pre-occupied was he
with his labors as a commentator of the Scriptures, that he even
contemplated withdrawing from the public service of religion.

Calvin was a scholar as well as theologian, and quiet labors in his
library were probably more congenial to his tastes than active
parochial duties.  His highest life was amid his books, in serene
repose and lofty contemplation.  At this time he had an extensive
correspondence, his advice being much sought for its wisdom and
moderation.  His judgment was almost unerring, since he was never
led away by extravagances or enthusiasm: a cold, calm man even
among his friends and admirers.  He had no passions; he was all
intellect.  It would seem that in his exile he gave lectures on
divinity, being invited by the Council of Strasburg; and also
interested himself in reference to the Sacrament of the Lord's
Supper, which he would withhold from the unworthy.  He lived
quietly in his retreat, and was much respected by the people of the
city where he dwelt.

In 1539 a convention was held at Frankfort, at which Calvin was
present as the envoy of the city of Strasburg.  Here, for the first
time, he met Melancthon; but there was no close intimacy between
them until these two great men met in the following year at a Diet
which was summoned at Worms by the Emperor Charles V., in order to
produce concord between the Catholics and Protestants, and which
was afterwards removed to Ratisbon.  Melancthon represented one
party, and Doctor Eck the other.  Melancthon and Bucer were
inclined to peace; and Cardinal Contarini freely offered his hand,
agreeing with the reformers to adopt the idea of Justification as
his starting point, allowing that it proceeds from faith, without
any merit of our own; but, like Luther and Calvin, he opposed any
attempt at union which might compromise the truth, and had no faith
in the movement.  Neither party, as it was to be expected, was
satisfied.  The main subject of the dispute was in reference to the
Eucharist.  Calvin denied the real presence of Christ in the
Sacrament, regarding it as a symbol,--though one of special divine
influence.  But on this point the Catholics have ever been
uncompromising from the times of Berengar.  Nor was Luther fully
emancipated from the Catholic doctrine, modifying without
essentially changing it.  Calvin maintained that "This is my body"
meant that it signified "my body."  In regard to original sin and
free-will, as represented by Augustine, there was no dispute; but
much difficulty attended the interpretation of the doctrine of
Justification.  The greatest difficulty was in reference to the
doctrine of Transubstantiation, which was rejected by the reformers
because it had not the sanction of the Scriptures; and when it was
found that this caused insuperable difficulties about the Lord's
Supper, it was thought useless to proceed to other matters, like
confession, masses for the dead, and the withholding the cup from
the laity.  There was not so great a difference between the
Catholic and Protestant theologians concerning the main body of
dogmatic divinity as is generally supposed.  The fundamental
questions pertaining to God, the Trinity, the mission and divinity
of Christ, original sin, free-will, grace, predestination, had been
formulated by Thomas Aquinas with as much severity as by Calvin.
The great subjects at issue, in a strictly theological view, were
Justification and the Eucharist.  Respecting free-will and
predestination, the Catholic theologians have never been agreed
among themselves,--some siding with Augustine, like Aquinas,
Bernard, and Anselm; and some with Pelagius, like Abelard and
Lainez the Jesuit at the Council of Trent (a council assembled by
the Pope, with the concurrence of Charles V. of Germany and Francis
I. of France), the decrees of which, against the authority of
Augustine in this matter, seem to be now the established faith of
the Roman Catholic Church.

After the Diet of Ratisbon, Calvin returned to Geneva, at the eager
desire of the people.  The great Council summoned him to return;
every voice was raised for him.  "Calvin, that learned and
righteous man," they said, "it is he whom we would have as the
minister of the Lord."  Yet he did not willingly return; he
preferred his quiet life at Strasburg, but obeyed the voice of
conscience.  On the 13th of September, 1541, he returned to his
penitent congregation, and was received by the whole city with
every demonstration of respect; and a cloth cloak was given him as
a present, which he seemed to need.

The same year he was married to a widow, Idelette de Burie, who was
a worthy, well-read, high-minded woman, with whom he lived happily
for nine years, until her death.  She was superior to Luther's
wife, Catherine Bora, in culture and dignity, and was a helpmate
who never opposed her husband in the slightest matter, always
considering his interests.  Esteem and friendship seem to have been
the basis of this union,--not passionate love, which Calvin did not
think much of.  When his wife died it seems he mourned for her with
decent grief, but did not seek a second marriage, perhaps because
he was unable to support a wife on his small stipend as she would
wish and expect.  He rather courted poverty, and refused reasonable
gratuities.  His body was attenuated by fasting and study, like
that of Saint Bernard.  When he was completing his "Institutes," he
passed days without eating and nights without sleeping.  And as he
practised poverty he had a right to inculcate it.  He kept no
servant, lived in a small tenement, and was always poorly clad.  He
derived no profit from any of his books, and the only present he
ever consented to receive was a silver goblet from the Lord of
Varennes.  Luther's stipend was four hundred and fifty florins, and
he too refused a yearly gift from the booksellers of four hundred
dollars, not wishing to receive a gratuity for his writings.
Calvin's salary was only fifty dollars a year, with a house, twelve
measures of corn and two pipes of wine; for tea and coffee were
then unknown in Europe, and wine seems to have been the usual
beverage, after water.  He was pre-eminently a conscientious man,
not allowing his feelings to sway his judgment.  He was sedate and
dignified and cheerful; though Bossuet accuses him of a surly
disposition,--un genre triste, un esprit chagrin.  Though formal
and stern, women never shrank from familiar conversation with him
on the subject of religion.  Though intolerant of error, he
cherished no personal animosities.  Calvin was more refined than
Luther, and never like him gave vent to coarse expressions.  He had
not Luther's physical strength, nor his versatility of genius; nor
as a reformer was he so violent.  "Luther aroused; Calvin
tranquillized."  The one stormed the great citadel of error, the
other furnished the weapons for holding it after it was taken.  The
former was more popular; the latter appealed to a higher
intelligence.  The Saxon reformer was more eloquent; the Swiss
reformer was more dialectical.  The one advocated unity; the other
theocracy.  Luther was broader; Calvin engrafted on his reforms the
Old Testament observances.  The watchword of the one was Grace;
that of the other was Predestination.  Luther cut knots; Calvin
made systems.  Luther destroyed; Calvin legislated.  His great
principle of government was aristocratic.  He wished to see both
Church and State governed by a select few of able men.  In all his
writings we see no trace of popular sovereignty.  He interested
himself, like Savonarola, in political institutions, but would
separate the functions of the magistracy from those of the clergy;
and he clung to the notion of a theocratic government, like Jewish
legislators and the popes themselves.  The idea of a theocracy was
the basis of Calvin's system of legislation, as it was that of Leo
I.  He desired that the temporal power should rule, in the name of
God,--should be the arm by which spiritual principles should be
enforced.  He did not object to the spiritual domination of the
popes, so far as it was in accordance with the word of God.  He
wished to realize the grand idea which the Middle Ages sought for,
but sought for in vain,--that the Church must always remain the
mother of spiritual principles; but he objected to the exercise of
temporal power by churchmen, as well as to the interference of the
temporal power in matters purely spiritual,--virtually the doctrine
of Anselm and Becket.  But, unlike Becket, Calvin would not screen
clergymen accused of crime from temporal tribunals; he rather
sought the humiliation of the clergy in temporal matters.  He also
would destroy inequalities of rank, and do away with church
dignitaries, like bishops and deans and archdeacons; and he
instituted twice as many laymen as clergymen in ecclesiastical
assemblies.  But he gave to the clergy the exclusive right to
excommunicate, and to regulate the administration of the
sacraments.  He was himself a high-churchman in his spirit, both in
reference to the divine institution of the presbyterian form of
government and the ascendancy of the Church as a great power in the

Calvin exercised a great influence on the civil polity of Geneva,
although it was established before he came to the city.  He
undertook to frame for the State a code of morals.  He limited the
freedom of the citizens, and turned the old democratic constitution
into an oligarchy.  The general assembly, which met twice a year,
nominated syndics, or judges; but nothing was proposed in the
general assembly which had not previously been considered in the
council of the Two Hundred; and nothing in the latter which had not
been brought before the council of Sixty; nor even in this, which
had not been approved by the lesser council.  The four syndics,
with their council of sixteen, had power of life and death, and the
whole public business of the state was in their hands.  The supreme
legislation was in the council of Two Hundred; which was much
influenced by ecclesiastics, or the consistory.  If a man not
forbidden to take the Sacrament neglected to receive it, he was
condemned to banishment for a year.  One was condemned to do public
penance if he omitted a Sunday service.  The military garrison was
summoned to prayers twice a day.  The judges punished severely all
profanity, as blasphemy.  A mason was put in prison three days for
simply saying, when falling from a building, that it must be the
work of the Devil.  A young girl who insulted her mother was
publicly punished and kept on bread-and-water; and a peasant-boy
who called his mother a devil was publicly whipped.  A child who
struck his mother was beheaded; adultery was punished with death; a
woman was publicly scourged because she sang common songs to a
psalm-tune; and another because she dressed herself, in a frolic,
in man's attire.  Brides were not allowed to wear wreaths in their
bonnets; gamblers were set in the pillory, and card-playing and
nine-pins were denounced as gambling.  Heresy was punished with
death; and in sixty years one hundred and fifty people were
burned to death, in Geneva, for witchcraft.  Legislation extended
to dress and private habits; many innocent amusements were
altogether suppressed; also holidays and theatrical exhibitions.
Excommunication was as much dreaded as in the Mediaeval church.

In regard to the worship of God, Calvin was opposed to splendid
churches, and to all ritualism.  He retained psalm-singing, but
abolished the organ; he removed the altar, the crucifix, and
muniments from the churches, and closed them during the week-days,
unless the minister was present.  He despised what we call art,
especially artistic music; nor did he have much respect for
artificial sermons, or the art of speaking.  He himself preached ex
tempore, nor is there evidence that he ever wrote a sermon.

Respecting the Eucharist, Calvin took a middle course between
Luther and Zwingli,--believing neither in the actual presence of
Christ in the consecrated bread, nor regarding it as a mere symbol,
but a means by which divine grace is imparted; a mirror in which we
may contemplate Christ.  Baptism he considered only as an
indication of divine grace, and not essential to salvation; thereby
differing from Luther and the Catholic church.  Yet he was as
strenuous in maintaining these sacraments as a Catholic priest, and
made excommunication as fearful a weapon as it was in the Middle
Ages.  For admission to the Lord's Supper, and thus to the
membership of the visible Church, it would seem that his
requirements were not rigid, but rather very simple, like those of
the primitive Christians,--namely, faith in God and faith in
Christ, without any subtile and metaphysical creeds, such as one
might expect from his inexorable theological deductions.  But he
would resort to excommunication as a discipline, as the only weapon
which the Church could use to bind its members together, and which
had been used from the beginning; yet he would temper severity with
mildness and charity, since only God is able to judge the heart.
And herein he departed from the customs of the Middle Ages, and did
not regard the excommunicated as lost, but to be prayed for by the
faithful.  No one, he maintained, should be judged as deserving
eternal death who was still in the hands of God.  He made a broad
distinction between excommunication and anathema; the latter, he
maintained, should never, or very rarely, be pronounced, since it
takes away the hope of forgiveness, and consigns one to the wrath
of God and the power of Satan.  He regarded the Sacrament of the
Lord's Supper as a means to help manifold infirmities,--as a time
of meditation for beholding Christ the crucified; as confirming
reconciliation with God; as a visible sign of the body of Christ,
recognizing his actual but spiritual presence.  Luther recognized
the bodily presence of Christ in the Eucharist, while he rejected
transubstantiation and the idea of worshipping the consecrated
wafer as the real God.  This difference in the opinion of the
reformers as to the Eucharist led to bitter quarrels and
controversies, and divided the Protestants.  Calvin pursued a
middle and moderate course, and did much to harmonize the
Protestant churches.  He always sought peace and moderation; and
his tranquillizing measures were not pleasant to the Catholics, who
wished to see divisions among their enemies.

Calvin had a great dislike of ceremonies, festivals, holidays, and
the like.  For images he had an aversion amounting to horror.
Christmas was the only festival he retained.  He was even
slanderously accused of wishing to abolish the Sabbath, the
observance of which he inculcated with the strictness of the
Puritans.  He introduced congregational singing, but would not
allow the ear or the eye to be distracted.  The music was simple,
dispensing with organs and instruments and all elaborate and
artistic display.  It is needless to say that this severe
simplicity of worship has nearly passed away, but it cannot be
doubted that the changes which the reformers made produced the
deepest impression on the people in a fervent and religious age.
The psalms and hymns of the reformers were composed in times of
great religious excitement.  Calvin was far behind Luther, who did
not separate the art of music from religion; but Calvin made a
divorce of art from public worship.  Indeed, the Reformation was
not favorable to art in any form except in sacred poetry; it
declared those truths which save the soul, rather than sought those
arts which adorn civilization.  Hence its churches were barren of
ornaments and symbols, and were cold and repulsive when the people
were not excited by religious truths.  Nor did they favor eloquence
in the ordinary meaning of that word.  Pulpit eloquence was simple,
direct, and without rhetorical devices; seeking effect not in
gestures and postures and modulated voice, but earnest appeals to
the heart and conscience.  The great Catholic preachers of the
eighteenth century--like Bossuet and Bourdaloue and Massillon--
surpassed the Protestants as rhetoricians.

The simplicity which marked the worship of God as established by
Calvin was also a feature in his system of church government.  He
dispensed with bishops, archdeacons, deans, and the like.  In his
eyes every man who preached the word was a presbyter, or elder; and
every presbyter was a bishop.  A deacon was an officer to take care
of the poor, not to preach.  And it was necessary that a minister
should have a double call,--both an inward call and an outward
one,--or an election by the people in union with the clergy.  Paul
and Barnabas set forth elders, but the people indicated their
approval by lifting up their hands.  In the Presbyterianism which
Calvin instituted he maintained that the Church is represented by
the laity as well as by the clergy.  He therefore gave the right of
excommunication to the congregation in conjunction with the clergy.
In the Lutheran Church, as in the Catholic, the right of
excommunication was vested in the clergy alone.  But Calvin gave to
the clergy alone the right to administer the sacraments; nor would
he give to the Church any other power of punishment than exclusion
from the Lord's Supper, and excommunication.  His organization of
the Church was aristocratic, placing the power in the hands of a
few men of approved wisdom and piety.  He had no sympathy with
democracy, either civil or religious, and he formed a close union
between Church and State,--giving to the council the right to
choose elders and to confirm the election of ministers.  As already
stated, he did not attempt to shield the clergy from the civil
tribunals.  The consistory, which assembled once a week, was formed
of elders and preachers, and a messenger of the civil court
summoned before it the persons whose presence was required.  No
such power as this would be tolerated in these times.  But the
consistory could not itself inflict punishment; that was the
province of the civil government.  The elders and clergy inflicted
no civil penalties, but simply determined what should be heard
before the spiritual and what before the civil tribunal.  A syndic
presided in the spiritual assembly at first, but only as a church
elder.  The elders were chosen from the council, and the election
was confirmed by the great council, the people, and preachers; so
that the Church was really in the hands of the State, which
appointed the clergy.  It would thus seem that Church and State
were very much mixed up together by Calvin, who legislated in view
of the circumstances which surrounded him, and not for other times
or nations.  This subordination of the Church to the State, which
was maintained by all the reformers, was established in opposition
to the custom of the Catholic Church, which sought to make the
State subservient to the Church.  And the lay government of the
Church, which entered into the system of Calvin, was owing to the
fear that the clergy, when able to stand alone, might become proud
and ambitious; a fear which was grounded on the whole history of
the Church.

Although Calvin had an exalted idea of the spiritual dignity of the
Church, he allowed a very dangerous interference of the State in
ecclesiastical affairs, even while he would separate the functions
of the clergy from those of the magistrates.  He allowed the State
to pronounce the final sentence on dogmatic questions, and hence
the power of the synod failed in Geneva.  Moreover, the payment of
ministers by the State rather than by the people, as in this
country, was against the old Jewish custom, which Calvin so often
borrowed,--for the priests among the Jews were independent of the
kings.  But Calvin wished to destroy caste among the clergy, and
consequently spiritual tyranny.  In his legislation we see an
intense hostility to the Roman Catholic Church,--one of the
animating principles of the Reformers; and hence the Reformers, in
their hostility to Rome, went from Sylla into Charybdis.  Calvin,
like all churchmen, exalted naturally the theocratic idea of the
old Jewish and Mediaeval Church, and yet practically put the Church
into the hands of laymen.  In one sense he was a spiritual
dictator, and like Luther a sort of Protestant pope; and yet he
built up a system which was fatal to spiritual power such as had
existed among the Catholic priesthood.  For their sacerdotal
spiritual power he would substitute a moral power, the result of
personal bearing and sanctity.  It is amusing to hear some people
speak of Calvin as a ghostly spiritual father; but no man ever
fought sacerdotalism more earnestly than he.  The logical sequence
of his ecclesiastical reforms was not the aristocratic and Erastian
Church of Scotland, but the Puritans in New England, who were
Independents and not Presbyterians.

Yet there is an inconsistency even in Calvin's regime; for he had
the zeal of the old Catholic Church in giving over to the civil
power those he wished to punish, as in the case of Servetus.  He
even intruded into the circle of social life, and established a
temporal rather than a spiritual theocracy; and while he overthrew
the episcopal element, he made a distinction, not recognized in the
primitive church, between clergy and laity.  As for religious
toleration, it did not exist in any country or in any church; there
was no such thing as true evangelical freedom.  All the Reformers
attempted, as well as the Catholics, a compulsory unity of faith;
and this is an impossibility.  The Reformers adopted a catechism,
or a theological system, which all communicants were required to
learn and accept.  This is substantially the acceptance of what the
Church ordains.  Creeds are perhaps a necessity in well-organized
ecclesiastical bodies, and are not unreasonable; but it should not
be forgotten that they are formulated doctrines made by men, on
what is supposed to be the meaning of the Scriptures, and are not
consistent with the right of private judgment when pushed out to
its ultimate logical consequence.  When we remember how few men are
capable of interpreting Scripture for themselves, and how few are
disposed to exercise this right, we can see why the formulated
catechism proved useful in securing unity of belief; but when
Protestant divines insisted on the acceptance of the articles of
faith which they deduced from the Scriptures, they did not differ
materially from the Catholic clergy in persisting on the acceptance
of the authority of the Church as to matters of doctrine.  Probably
a church organization is impossible without a formulated creed.
Such a creed has existed from the time of the Council of Nice, and
is not likely ever to be abandoned by any Christian Church in any
future age, although it may be modified and softened with the
advance of knowledge.  However, it is difficult to conceive of the
unity of the Church as to faith, without a creed made obligatory on
all the members of a communion to accept, and it always has been
regarded as a useful and even necessary form of Christian
instruction for the people.  Calvin himself attached great
importance to catechisms, and prepared one even for children.

He also put a great value on preaching, instead of the complicated
and imposing ritual of the Catholic service; and in most Protestant
churches from his day to ours preaching, or religious instruction,
has occupied the most prominent part of the church service; and it
must be conceded that while the Catholic service has often
degenerated into mere rites and ceremonies to aid a devotional
spirit, so the Protestant service has often become cold and
rationalistic,--and it is not easy to say which extreme is the

Thus far we have viewed Calvin in the light of a reformer and
legislator, but his influence as a theologian is more remarkable.
It is for his theology that he stands out as a prominent figure in
the history of the Church.  As such he showed greater genius; as
such he is the most eminent of all the reformers; as such he
impressed his mind on the thinking of his own age and of succeeding
ages,--an original and immortal man.  His system of divinity
embodied in his "Institutes" is remarkable for the radiation of the
general doctrines of the Church around one central principle, which
he defended with marvellous logical power.  He was not a fencer
like Abelard, displaying wonderful dexterity in the use of
sophistries, overwhelming adversaries by wit and sarcasm; arrogant
and self-sufficient, and destroying rather than building up.  He
did not deify the reason, like Erigina, nor throw himself on
authority like Bernard.  He was not comprehensive like Augustine,
nor mystical like Bonaventura.  He had the spiritual insight of
Anselm, and the dialectical acumen of Thomas Aquinas; acknowledging
no master but Christ, and implicitly receiving whatever the
Scriptures declared, he takes his original position neither from
natural reason nor from the authority of the church, but from the
word of God; and from declarations of Scripture, as he interprets
them, he draws sequences and conclusions with irresistible logic.
In an important sense he is one-sided, since he does not take
cognizance of other truths equally important.  He is perfectly
fearless in pushing out to its most logical consequences whatever
truth he seizes upon; and hence he appears to many gifted and
learned critics to draw conclusions from accepted premises which
apparently conflict with consciousness or natural reason; and hence
there has ever been repugnance to many of his doctrines, because it
is impossible, it is said, to believe them.

In general, Calvin does not essentially differ from the received
doctrines of the Church as defended by its greatest lights in all
ages.  His peculiarity is not in making a digest of divinity,--
although he treated all the great subjects which have been
discussed from Athanasius to Aquinas.  His "Institutes" may well be
called an exhaustive system of theology.  There is no great
doctrine which he has not presented with singular clearness and
logical force.  Yet it is not for a general system of divinity that
he is famous, but for making prominent a certain class of subjects,
among which he threw the whole force of his genius.  In fact all
the great lights of the Church have been distinguished for the
discussion of particular doctrines to meet the exigencies of their
times.  Thus Athanasius is identified with the Trinitarian
controversy, although he was a minister of theological knowledge in
general.  Augustine directed his attention more particularly to the
refutation of Pelagian heresies and human Depravity.  Luther's
great doctrine was Justification by Faith, although he took the
same ground as Augustine.  It was the logical result of the
doctrines of Grace which he defended which led to the overthrow, in
half of Europe, of that extensive system of penance and self-
expiation which marked the Roman Catholic Church, and on which so
many glaring abuses were based.  As Athanasius rendered a great
service to the Church by establishing the doctrine of the Trinity,
and Augustine a still greater service by the overthrow of
Pelagianism, so Luther undermined the papal pile of superstition by
showing eloquently,--what indeed had been shown before, the true
ground of justification.  When we speak of Calvin, the great
subject of Predestination arises before our minds, although on this
subject he made no pretention to originality.  Nor did he differ
materially from Augustine, or Gottschalk, or Thomas Aquinas before
him, or Pascal and Edwards after him.  But no man ever presented
this complicated and mysterious subject so ably as be.

It is not for me to discuss this great topic.  I simply wish to
present the subject historically,--to give Calvin's own views, and
the effect of his deductions on the theology of his age; and in
giving Calvin's views I must shelter myself under the wings of his
best biographer, Doctor Henry of Berlin, and quote the substance of
his exposition of the peculiar doctrines of the Swiss, or rather
French, theologian.

According to Henry, Calvin maintained that God, in his sovereign
will and for his own glory; elected one part of the human race to
everlasting life, and abandoned the other part to everlasting
death; that man, by the original transgression, lost the power
of free-will, except to do evil; that it is only by Divine Grace
that freedom to do good is recovered; but that this grace is
bestowed only on the elect, and elect not in consequence of the
foreknowledge of God, but by his absolute decree before the world
was made.

This is the substance of those peculiar doctrines which are called
Calvinism, and by many regarded as fundamental principles of
theology, to be received with the same unhesitating faith as the
declarations of Scripture from which those doctrines are deduced.
Augustine and Aquinas accepted substantially the same doctrines,
but they were not made so prominent in their systems, nor were they
so elaborately worked out.

The opponents of Calvin, including some of the brightest lights
which have shone in the English church,--such men as Jeremy Taylor,
Archbishop Whately, and Professor Mosley,--affirm that these
doctrines are not only opposed to free-will, but represent God as
arbitrarily dooming a large part of the human race to future and
endless punishment, withholding from them his grace, by which alone
they can turn from their sins, creating them only to destroy them:
not as the potter moulds the clay for vessels of honor and
dishonor, but moulding the clay in order to destroy the vessels he
has made, whether good or bad; which doctrine they affirm conflicts
with the views usually held out in the Scriptures of God as a God
of love, and also conflicts with all natural justice, and is
therefore one-sided and narrow.

The premises from which this doctrine is deduced are those
Scripture texts which have the authority of the Apostle Paul, such
as these: "According as he hath chosen us in him before the
foundation of the world;" "For whom he did foreknow he also did
predestinate;" "Jacob have I loved and Esau have I hated;" "He hath
mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth;"
"Hath not the potter power over his clay?"  No one denies that from
these texts the Predestination of Calvin as well as Augustine--for
they both had similar views--is logically drawn.  It has been
objected that both of these eminent theologians overlooked other
truths which go in parallel lines, and which would modify the
doctrine,--even as Scripture asserts in one place the great fact
that the will is free, and in another place that the will is
shackled.  The Pelagian would push out the doctrine of free-will so
as to ignore the necessity of grace; and the Augustinian would push
out the doctrine of the servitude of the will into downright
fatalism.  But these great logicians apparently shrink from the
conclusions to which their logic leads them.  Both Augustine and
Calvin protest against fatalism, and both assert that the will is
so far free that the sinner acts without constraint; and
consequently the blame of his sins rests upon himself, and not upon
another.  The doctrines of Calvin and Augustine logically pursued
would lead to the damnation of infants; yet, as a matter of fact,
neither maintained that to which their logic led.  It is not in
human nature to believe such a thing, even if it may be
dogmatically asserted.

And then, in regard to sin: no one has ever disputed the fact that
sin is rampant in this world, and is deserving of punishment.  But
theologians of the school of Augustine and Calvin, in view of the
fact, have assumed the premise--which indeed cannot be disputed--
that sin is against an infinite God.  Hence, that sin against an
infinite God is itself infinite; and hence that, as sin deserves
punishment, an infinite sin deserves infinite punishment,--a
conclusion from which consciousness recoils, and which is nowhere
asserted in the Bible.  It is a conclusion arrived at by
metaphysical reasoning, which has very little to do with practical
Christianity, and which, imposed as a dogma of belief, to be
accepted like plain declarations of Scripture, is an insult to the
human understanding.  But this conclusion, involving the belief
that inherited sin IS INFINITE, and deserving of infinite
punishment, appals the mind.  For relief from this terrible logic,
the theologian adduces the great fact that Christ made an atonement
for sin,--another cardinal declaration of the Scripture,--and that
believers in this atonement shall be saved.  This Bible doctrine is
exceedingly comforting, and accounts in a measure for the
marvellous spread of Christianity.  The wretched people of the old
Roman world heard the glad tidings that Christ died for them, as an
atonement for the sins of which they were conscious, and which had
chained them to despair.  But another class of theologians deduced
from this premise, that, as Christ's death was an infinite
atonement for the sins of the world, so all men, and consequently
all sinners, would be saved.  This was the ground of the original
Universalists, deduced from the doctrines which Augustine and
Calvin had formulated.  But they overlooked the Scripture
declaration which Calvin never lost sight of, that salvation was
only for those who believed.  Now inasmuch as a vast majority of
the human race, including infants, have not believed, it becomes a
logical conclusion that all who have not believed are lost.  Logic
and consciousness then come into collision, and there is no relief
but in consigning these discrepancies to the realm of mystery.

I allude to these theological difficulties simply to show the
tyranny to which the mind and soul are subjected whenever
theological deductions are invested with the same authority as
belongs to original declarations of Scripture; and which, so far
from being systematized, do not even always apparently harmonize.
Almost any system of belief can be logically deduced from Scripture
texts.  It should be the work of theologians to harmonize them and
show their general spirit and meaning, rather than to draw
conclusions from any particular class of subjects.  Any system of
deductions from texts of Scripture which are offset by texts of
equal authority but apparently different meaning, is necessarily
one-sided and imperfect, and therefore narrow.  That is exactly the
difficulty under which Calvin labored.  He seems, to a large class
of Christians of great ability and conscientiousness, to be narrow
and one-sided, and is therefore no authority to them; not, be it
understood, in reference to the great fundamental doctrines of
Christianity, but in his views of Predestination and the subjects
interlinked with it.  And it was the great error of attaching so
much importance to mere metaphysical divinity that led to such a
revulsion from his peculiar system in after times.  It was the
great wisdom of the English reformers, like Cranmer, to leave all
those metaphysical questions open, as matters of comparatively
little consequence, and fall back on unquestioned doctrines of
primitive faith, that have given so great vitality to the English
Church, and made it so broad and catholic.  The Puritans as a body,
more intellectual than the mass of the Episcopalians, were led away
by the imposing and entangling dialectics of the scholastic Calvin,
and came unfortunately to attach as much importance to such
subjects as free-will and predestination--questions most
complicated--as they did to "the weightier matters of the law;" and
when pushed by the logic of opponents to the "decretum horribile,"
have been compelled to fall back on the Catholic doctrine of
mysteries, as something which could never be explained or
comprehended, but which it is a Christian duty to accept as a
mystery.  The Scriptures certainly speak of mysteries, like
regeneration; but it is one thing to marvel how a man can be born
again by the Spirit of God,--a fact we see every day,--and quite
another thing to make a mystery to be accepted as a matter of faith
of that which the Bible has nowhere distinctly affirmed, and which
is against all ideas of natural justice, and arrived at by a subtle
process of dialectical reasoning.

But it was natural for so great an intellectual giant as Calvin to
make his startling deductions from the great truths he meditated
upon with so much seriousness and earnestness.  Only a very lofty
nature would have revelled as he did, and as Augustine did before
him and Pascal after him, in those great subjects which pertain to
God and his dispensations.  All his meditations and formulated
doctrines radiate from the great and sublime idea of the majesty of
God and the comparative insignificance of man.  And here he was not
so far apart from the great sages of antiquity, before salvation
was revealed by Christ.  "Canst thou by searching find out God?"
"What is man that Thou art mindful of him?"

And here I would remark that theologians and philosophers have ever
been divided into two great schools,--those who have had a tendency
to exalt the dignity of man, and those who would absorb man in the
greatness of the Deity.  These two schools have advocated doctrines
which, logically carried out to their ultimate sequences, would
produce a Grecian humanitarianism on the one hand, and a sort of
Bramanism on the other,--the one making man the arbiter of his own
destiny, independently of divine agency, and the other making the
Deity the only power of the universe.  With one school, God as the
only controlling agency is a fiction, and man himself is infinite
in faculties; the other holds that God is everything and man is
nothing.  The distinction between these two schools, both of which
have had great defenders, is fundamental,--such as that between
Augustine and Pelagius, between Bernard and Abelard, and between
Calvin and Lainez.  Among those who have inclined to the doctrine
of the majesty of God and the littleness of man were the primitive
monks and the Indian theosophists, and the orthodox scholastics of
the Middle Ages,--all of whom were comparatively indifferent to
material pleasure and physical progress, and sought the salvation
of the soul and the favor of God beyond all temporal blessings.  Of
the other class have been the Greek philosophers and the
rationalizing schoolmen and the modern lights of science.

Now Calvin was imbued with the lofty spirit of the Fathers of the
Church and the more religious and contemplative of the schoolmen
and the saints of the Middle Ages, when he attached but little
dignity to man unaided by divine grace, and was absorbed with the
idea of the sovereignty of God, in whose hands man is like clay in
the hands of the potter.  This view of God pervaded the whole
spirit of his theology, making it both lofty and yet one-sided.  To
him the chief end of man was to glorify God, not to develop his own
intellectual faculties, and still less to seek the pleasures and
excitements of the world.  Man was a sinner before an infinite God,
and he could rise above the polluting influence of sin only by the
special favor of God and his divinely communicated grace.  Man was
so great a sinner that he deserved an eternal punishment, only to
be rescued as a brand plucked from the fire, as one of the elect
before the world was made.  The vast majority of men were left to
the uncovenanted mercies of Christ,--the redeemer, not of the race,
but of those who believed.

To Calvin therefore, as to the Puritans, the belief in a personal
God was everything; not a compulsory belief in the general
existence of a deity who, united with Nature, reveals himself to
our consciousness; not the God of the pantheist, visible in all the
wonders of Nature; not the God of the rationalist, who retires from
the universe which he has made, leaving it to the operation of
certain unchanging and universal laws: but the God whom Abraham and
Moses and the prophets saw and recognized, and who by his special
providence rules the destinies of men.  The most intellectual of
the reformers abhorred the deification of the reason, and clung to
that exalted supernaturalism which was the life and hope of blessed
saints and martyrs in bygone ages, and which in "their contests
with mail-clad infidelity was like the pebble which the shepherd of
Israel hurled against the disdainful boaster who defied the power
of Israel's God."  And he was thus brought into close sympathy with
the realism of the Fathers, who felt that all that is valuable in
theology must radiate from the recognition of Almighty power in the
renovation of society, and displayed, not according to our human
notions of law and progress and free-will, but supernaturally and
mysteriously, according to his sovereign will, which is above law,
since God is the author of law.  He simply erred in enforcing a
certain class of truths which must follow from the majesty of the
one great First Cause, lofty as these truths are, to the exclusion
of another class of truths of great importance; which gives to his
system incompleteness and one-sidedness.  Thus he was led to
undervalue the power of truth itself in its contest with error.  He
was led into a seeming recognition of two wills in God,--that which
wills the salvation of all men, and that which wills the salvation
of the elect alone.  He is accused of a leaning to fatalism, which
he heartily denied, but which seems to follow from his logical
conclusions.  He entered into an arena of metaphysical controversy
which can never be settled.  The doctrines of free-will and
necessity can never be reconciled by mortal reason.  Consciousness
reveals the freedom of the will as well as the slavery to sin.  Men
are conscious of both; they waste their time in attempting to
reconcile two apparently opposing facts,--like our pious fathers at
their New England fire-sides, who were compelled to shelter
themselves behind mystery.

The tendency of Calvin's system, it is maintained by many, is to
ascribe to God attributes which according to natural justice would
be injustice and cruelty, such as no father would exercise on his
own children, however guilty.  Even good men will not accept in
their hearts doctrines which tend to make God less compassionate
than man.  There are not two kinds of justice.  The intellect is
appalled when it is affirmed that one man JUSTLY suffers the
penalty of another man's sin,--although the world is full of
instances of men suffering from the carelessness or wickedness of
others, as in a wicked war or an unnecessary railway disaster.  The
Scripture law of retribution, as brought out in the Bible and
sustained by consciousness, is the penalty a man pays for personal
and voluntary transgression.  Nor will consciousness accept the
doctrine that the sin of a mortal--especially under strong
temptation and with all the bias of a sinful nature--is infinite.
Nothing which a created mortal can do is infinite; it is only
finite: the infinite belongs to God alone.  Hence an infinite
penalty for a finite sin conflicts with consciousness and is
nowhere asserted in the Bible, which is transcendently more
merciful and comforting than many theological systems of belief,
however powerfully sustained by dialectical reasoning and by the
most excellent men.  Human judgments or reasonings are fallible on
moral questions which have two sides; and reasonings from texts
which present different meanings when studied by the lights of
learning and science are still more liable to be untrustworthy.  It
would seem to be the supremest necessity for theological schools to
unravel the meaning of divine declarations, and present doctrines
in their relation with apparently conflicting texts, rather than
draw out a perfect and consistent system, philosophically
considered, from any one class of texts.  Of all things in this
wicked and perplexing world the science of theology should be the
most cheerful and inspiring, for it involves inquiries on the
loftiest subjects which can interest a thoughtful mind.

But whatever defects the system of doctrines which Calvin
elaborated with such transcendent ability may have, there is no
question as to its vast influence on the thinking of the sixteenth
and seventeenth centuries.  The schools of France and Holland and
Scotland and England and America were animated by his genius and
authority.  He was a burning and a shining light, if not for all
ages, at least for the unsettled times in which he lived.  No
theologian ever had a greater posthumous power than he for nearly
three hundred years, and he is still one of the great authorities
of the church universal.  John Knox sought his counsel and was
influenced by his advice in the great reform he made in Scotland.
In France the words Calvinist and Huguenot are synonymous.
Cranmer, too, listened to his counsels, and had great respect for
his learning and sanctity.  Among the Puritans he has reigned like
an oracle.  Oliver Cromwell embraced his doctrines, as also did Sir
Matthew Hale.  Ridicule or abuse of Calvin is as absurd as the
ridicule or abuse with which Protestants so long assailed
Hildebrand or Innocent III.  No one abuses Pascal or Augustine, and
yet the theological views of all these are substantially the same.

In one respect I think that Calvin has received more credit than he
deserves.  Some have maintained that he was a sort of father of
republicanism and democratic liberty.  In truth he had no popular
sympathies, and leaned towards an aristocracy which was little
short of an oligarchy.  He had no hand in establishing the
political system of Geneva; it was established before he went
there.  He was not even one of those thinkers who sympathized with
true liberty of conscience.  He persecuted heretics like a
mediaeval Catholic divine.  He would have burned a Galileo as he
caused the death of Servetus, which need not have happened but for
him.  Calvin could have saved Servetus if he had pleased; but he
complained of him to the magistrates, knowing that his condemnation
and death would necessarily follow.  He had neither the humanity of
Luther nor the toleration of Saint Augustine.  He was the
impersonation of intellect,--like Newton, Leibnitz, Spinoza, and
Kant,--which overbore the impulses of his heart.  He had no
passions except zeal for orthodoxy.  So pre-eminently did intellect
tower above the passions that he seemed to lack sympathy; and yet,
such was his exalted character, he was capable of friendship.  He
was remarkable for every faculty of the mind except wit and
imagination.  His memory was almost incredible; he remembered
everything he ever read or heard; he would, after long intervals,
recognize persons whom he had never seen but once or twice.  When
employed in dictation, he would resume the thread of his discourse
without being prompted, after the most vexatious interruptions.
His judgment was as sound as his memory was retentive; it was
almost infallible,--no one was ever known to have been misled by
it.  He had a remarkable analytical power, and also the power of
generalization.  He was a very learned man, and his Commentaries
are among the most useful and valued of his writings, showing both
learning and judgment; his exegetical works have scarcely been
improved.  He had no sceptical or rationalistic tendencies, and
therefore his Commentaries may not be admired by men of "advanced
thought;" but his annotations will live when those of Ewald shall
be forgotten; they still hold their place in the libraries of
biblical critics.  For his age he was a transcendent critic; his
various writings fill five folio volumes.  He was not so voluminous
a writer as Thomas Aquinas, but less diffuse; his style is lucid,
like that of Voltaire.

Considering the weakness of his body Calvin's labors were
prodigious.  There was never a more industrious man, finding time
for everything,--for an amazing correspondence, for pastoral
labors, for treatises and essays, for commentaries and official
duties.  No man ever accomplished more in the same space of time.
He preached daily every alternate week; he attended meetings of the
Consistory and of the Court of Morals; he interested himself in the
great affairs of his age; he wrote letters to all parts of

Reigning as a religious dictator, and with more influence than any
man of his age, next to Luther, Calvin was content to remain poor,
and was disdainful of money and all praises and rewards.  This was
not an affectation, not the desire to imitate the great saints of
Christian antiquity to whom poverty was a cardinal virtue; but real
indifference, looking upon money as impedimenta, as camp equipage
is to successful generals.  He was not conscious of being poor with
his small salary of fifty dollars a year, feeling that he had
inexhaustible riches within him; and hence he calmly and naturally
took his seat among the great men of the world as their peer and
equal, without envy of the accidents of fortune and birth.  He was
as indifferent to money and luxuries as Socrates when he walked
barefooted among the Athenian aristocracy, or Basil when he retired
to the wilderness; he rarely gave vent to extravagant grief or joy,
seldom laughed, and cared little for hilarities; he knew no games
or sports; he rarely played with children or gossiped with women;
he loved without romance, and suffered bereavement without outward
sorrow.  He had no toleration for human infirmities, and was
neither social nor genial; he sought a wife, not so much for
communion of feeling as to ease him of his burdens,--not to share
his confidence, but to take care of his house.  Nor was he fond,
like Luther, of music and poetry.  He had no taste for the fine
arts; he never had a poet or an artist for his friend or companion.
He could not look out of his window without seeing the glaciers of
the Alps, but seemed to be unmoved by their unspeakable grandeur;
he did not revel in the glories of nature or art, but gave his mind
to abstract ideas and stern practical duties.  He was sparing of
language, simple, direct, and precise, using neither sarcasm, nor
ridicule, nor exaggeration.  He was far from being eloquent
according to popular notions of oratory, and despised the jingle of
words and phrases and tricks of rhetoric; he appealed to reason
rather than the passions, to the conscience rather than the

Though mild, Calvin was also intolerant.  Castillo, once his
friend, assailed his doctrine of Decrees, and was obliged to quit
Geneva, and was so persecuted that he died of actual starvation;
Perrin, captain-general of the republic, danced at a wedding, and
was thrown into prison; Bolsec, an eminent physician, opposed the
doctrine of Predestination, and was sentenced to perpetual
imprisonment; Gruet spoke lightly of the ordinances of religion,
and was beheaded; Servetus was a moral and learned and honest man,
but could not escape the flames.  Had he been willing to say, as
the flames consumed his body, "Jesus, thou eternal Son of God, have
mercy on me!" instead of, "Jesus, thou son of the eternal God!" he
might have been spared.  Calvin was as severe on those who refused
to accept his logical deductions from acknowledged truths as he was
on those who denied the fundamental truths themselves.  But
toleration was rare in his age, and he was not beyond it.  He was
not even beyond the ideas of the Middle Ages in some important
points, such as those which pertained to divine justice,--the wrath
rather than the love of God.  He lived too near the Middle Ages to
be emancipated from the ideas which enslaved such a man as Thomas
Aquinas.  He had very little patience with frivolous amusements or
degrading pursuits.  He attached great dignity to the ministerial
office, and set a severe example of decorum and propriety in all
his public ministrations.  He was a type of the early evangelical
divines, and was the father of the old Puritan strictness and
narrowness and fidelity to trusts.  His very faults grew out of
virtues pushed to extremes.  In our times such a man would not be
selected as a travelling companion, or a man at whose house we
would wish to keep the Christmas holidays.  His unattractive
austerity perhaps has been made too much of by his enemies, and
grew out of his unimpulsive temperament,--call it cold if we must,--
and also out of his stern theology, which marked the ascetics of
the Middle Ages.  Few would now approve of his severity of
discipline any more than they would feel inclined to accept some of
his theological deductions.

I question whether Calvin lived in the hearts of his countrymen, or
they would have erected some monument to his memory.  In our times
a statue has been erected to Rousseau in Geneva; but Calvin was
buried without ceremony and with exceeding simplicity.  He was a
warrior who cared nothing for glory or honor, absorbed in devotion
to his Invisible King, not indifferent to the exercise of power,
but only as he felt he was the delegated messenger of Divine
Omnipotence scattering to the winds the dust of all mortal
grandeur.  With all his faults, which were on the surface, he was
the accepted idol and oracle of a great party, and stamped his
genius on his own and succeeding ages.  Whatever the Presbyterians
have done for civilization, he comes in for a share of the honor.
Whatever foundations the Puritans laid for national greatness in
this country, it must be confessed that they caught inspiration
from his decrees.  Such a great master of exegetical learning and
theological inquiry and legislative wisdom will be forever held in
reverence by lofty characters, although he may be no favorite with
the mass of mankind.  If many great men and good men have failed to
comprehend either his character or his system, how can a pleasure-
loving and material generation, seeking to combine the glories of
this world with the promises of the next, see much in him to
admire, except as a great intellectual dialectician and system-
maker in an age with which it has no sympathy?  How can it
appreciate his deep spiritual life, his profound communion with
God, his burning zeal for the defence of Christian doctrine, his
sublime self-sacrifice, his holy resignation, his entire
consecration to a great cause?  Nobody can do justice to Calvin who
does not know the history of his times, the circumstances which
surrounded him, and the enemies he was required to fight.  No one
can comprehend his character or mission who does not feel it to be
supremely necessary to have a definite, positive system of
religious belief, based on the authority of the Scriptures as a
divine inspiration, both as an anchor amid the storms and a star of
promise and hope.

And, after all, what is the head and front of Calvin's offending?--
that he was cold, unsocial, and ungenial in character; and that, as
a theologian, he fearlessly and inexorably pushed out his
deductions to their remotest logical sequences.  But he was no more
austere than Chrysostom, no more ascetic than Basil, not even
sterner in character than Michael Angelo, or more unsocial than
Pascal or Cromwell or William the Silent.  We lose sight of his
defects in the greatness of his services and the exalted dignity of
his character.  If he was severe to adversaries, he was kind to
friends; and when his feeble body was worn out by his protracted
labors, at the age of fifty-three, and he felt that the hand of
death was upon him, he called together his friends and fellow-
laborers in reform,--the magistrates and ministers of Geneva,--
imparted his last lessons, and expressed his last wishes, with the
placidity of a Christian sage.  Amid tears and sobs and stifled
groans he discoursed calmly on his approaching departure, gave his
affectionate benedictions, and commended them and his cause to
Christ; lingering longer than was expected, but dying in the
highest triumphs of Christian faith, May 27, 1564, in the, arms of
his faithful and admiring Beza, as the rays of the setting-sun
gilded with their glory his humble chamber of toil and spiritual

No man who knows anything will ever sneer at Calvin.  He is not to
be measured by common standards.  He was universally regarded as
the greatest light of the theological world.  When we remember his
transcendent abilities, his matchless labors, his unrivalled
influence, his unblemished morality, his lofty piety, and soaring
soul, all flippant criticism is contemptible and mean.  He ranks
with immortal benefactors, and needs least of all any apologies for
his defects.  A man who stamped his opinions on his own age and
succeeding ages can be regarded only as a very extraordinary
genius.  A frivolous and pleasure-seeking generation may not be
attracted by such an impersonation of cold intellect, and may rear
no costly monument to his memory; but his work remains as the
leader of the loftiest class of Christian enthusiasts that the
modern world has known, and the founder of a theological system
which still numbers, in spite of all the changes of human thought,
some of the greatest thinkers and ablest expounders of Christian
doctrine in both Europe and America.  To have been the spiritual
father of the Puritans for three hundred years is itself a great
evidence of moral and intellectual excellence, and will link his
name with some of the greatest movements that have marked our
modern civilization.  From Plymouth Rock to the shores of the
Pacific Ocean we still see the traces of his marvellous genius, and
his still more wonderful influence on the minds of men and on the
schools of Christian theology; so that he will ever be regarded as
the great doctor of the Protestant Church.


Henry's Life of Calvin, translated by Stebbings; Dyer's Life of
Calvin; Beza's Life of Calvin; Drelincourt's Defence of Calvin;
Bayle; Maimbourg's Histoire du Calvinisme; Calvin's Works; Ruchat;
D'Aubigne's History of the Reformation; Burnet's Reformation;
Mosheim; Biographie Universelle, article on Servetus; Schlosser's
Leben Bezas; McCrie's Life of Knox; Original Letters (Parker


A. D. 1561-1626.


It is not easy to present the life and labors of

    "The wisest, brightest, meanest of mankind."

So Pope sums up the character of the great Lord Bacon, as he is
generally but improperly called; and this verdict, in the main, has
been confirmed by Lords Macaulay and Campbell, who seem to delight
in keeping him in that niche of the temple of fame where the poet
has placed him,--contemptible as a man, but venerable as the
philosopher, radiant with all the wisdom of his age and of all
preceding ages, the miner and sapper of ancient falsehoods, the
pioneer of all true knowledge, the author of that inductive and
experimental philosophy on which is based the glory of our age.
Macaulay especially, in that long and brilliant article which
appeared in the "Edinburgh Review" in 1837, has represented him as
a remarkably worldly man, cold, calculating, selfish a sycophant
and a flatterer, bent on self-exaltation; greedy, careless, false;
climbing to power by base subserviency; betraying friends and
courting enemies; with no animosities he does not suppress from
policy, and with no affections which he openly manifests when it
does not suit his interests: so that we read with shame of his
extraordinary shamelessness, from the time he first felt the
cravings of a vulgar ambition to the consummation of a disgraceful
crime; from the base desertion of his greatest benefactor to the
public selling of justice as Lord High Chancellor of the realm;
resorting to all the arts of a courtier to win the favor of his
sovereign and of his minions and favorites; reckless as to honest
debts; torturing on the rack an honest parson for a sermon he never
preached; and, when obliged to confess his corruption, meanly
supplicating mercy from the nation he had outraged, and favors from
the monarch whose cause he had betrayed.  The defects and
delinquencies of this great man are bluntly and harshly put by
Macaulay, without any attempt to soften or palliate them: as if he
would consign his name and memory not "to men's charitable
speeches, to foreign nations, and to the next ages," but to an
infamy as lasting and deep as that of Scroggs and of Jeffreys, or
any of those hideous tyrants and monsters that disgraced the reigns
of the Stuart kings.

And yet while the man is made to appear in such hideous colors, his
philosophy is exalted to the highest pinnacle of praise, as the
greatest boon which any philosopher ever rendered to the world, and
the chief cause of all subsequent progress in scientific discovery.
And thus in brilliant rhetoric we have a painting of a man whose
life was in striking contrast with his teachings,--a Judas
Iscariot, uttering divine philosophy; a Seneca, accumulating
millions as the tool of Nero; a fallen angel, pointing with rapture
to the realms of eternal light.  We have the most startling
contradiction in all history,--glory in debasement, and debasement
in glory; the most selfish and worldly man in England, the "meanest
of mankind," conferring on the race one of the greatest blessings
it ever received,--not accidentally, not in repentance and shame,
but in exalted and persistent labors, amid public cares and
physical infirmities, from youth to advanced old age; living in the
highest regions of thought, studious and patient all his days, even
when neglected and unrewarded for the transcendent services he
rendered, not as a philosopher merely, but as a man of affairs and
as a responsible officer of the Crown.  Has there ever been, before
or since, such an anomaly in human history,--so infamous in action,
so glorious in thought; such a contradiction between life and
teachings,--so that many are found to utter indignant protests
against such a representation of humanity, justly feeling that such
a portrait, however much it may be admired for its brilliant
colors, and however difficult to be proved false, is nevertheless
an insult to the human understanding?  The heart of the world will
not accept the strange and singular belief that so bad a man could
confer so great a boon, especially when he seemed bent on bestowing
it during his whole life, amid the most harassing duties.  If it
accepts the boon, it will strive to do justice to the benefactor,
as he himself appealed to future ages; and if it cannot deny the
charges which have been arrayed against him,--especially if it
cannot exculpate him,--it will soar beyond technical proofs to take
into consideration the circumstances of the times, the temptations
of a corrupt age, and the splendid traits which can with equal
authority be adduced to set off against the mistakes and faults
which proceeded from inadvertence and weakness rather than a
debased moral sense,--even as the defects and weaknesses of Cicero
are lost sight of in the acknowledged virtues of his ordinary life,
and the honest and noble services he rendered to his country and

Bacon was a favored man; he belonged to the upper ranks of society.
His father, Sir Nicholas Bacon, was a great lawyer, and reached the
highest dignities, being Lord Keeper of the Great Seal.  His
mother's sister was the wife of William Cecil, the great Lord
Burleigh, the most able and influential of Queen Elizabeth's
ministers.  Francis Bacon was the youngest son of the Lord Keeper,
and was born in London, Jan. 22, 1561.  He had a sickly and feeble
constitution, but intellectually was a youthful prodigy; and at
nine years of age, by his gravity and knowledge, attracted the
admiring attention of the Queen, who called him her young Lord
Keeper.  At the age of ten we find him stealing away from his
companions to discover the cause of a singular echo in the brick
conduit near his father's house in the Strand.  At twelve he
entered the University of Cambridge; at fifteen he quitted it,
already disgusted with its pedantries and sophistries; at sixteen
he rebelled against the authority of Aristotle, and took up his
residence at Gray's Inn; the same year, 1576, he was sent to Paris
in the suite of Sir Amias Paulet, ambassador to the court of
France, and delighted the salons of the capital by his wit and
profound inquiries; at nineteen he returned to England, having won
golden opinions from the doctors of the French Sanhedrim, who saw
in him a second Daniel; and in 1582 he was admitted as a barrister
of Gray's Inn, and the following year composed an essay on the
Instauration of Philosophy.  Thus, at an age when young men now
leave the university, he had attacked the existing systems of
science and philosophy, proudly taking in all science and knowledge
for his realm.

About this time his father died, without leaving him, a younger
son, a competence.  Nor would his great relatives give him an
office or sinecure by which he might be supported while he sought
truth, and he was forced to plod at the law, which he never liked,
resisting the blandishments and follies by which he was surrounded;
and at intervals, when other young men of his age and rank were
seeking pleasure, he was studying Nature, science, history,
philosophy, poetry,--everything, even the whole domain of truth,--
and with such success that his varied attainments were rather a
hindrance to an appreciation of his merits as a lawyer and his
preferment in his profession.

In 1586 he entered parliament, sitting for Taunton, and also became
a bencher at Gray's Inn; so that at twenty-six he was in full
practice in the courts of Westminster, also a politician, speaking
on almost every question of importance which agitated the House of
Commons for twenty years, distinguished for eloquence as well as
learning, and for a manly independence which did not entirely
please the Queen, from whom all honors came.

In 1591, at the age of thirty-one, he formed the acquaintance of
Essex, about his own age, who, as the favorite of the Queen, was
regarded as the most influential man in the country.  The
acquaintance ripened into friendship; and to the solicitation of
this powerful patron, who urged the Queen to give Bacon a high
office, she is said to have replied: "He has indeed great wit and
much learning, but in law, my lord, he is not deeply read," an
opinion perhaps put into her head by his rival Coke, who did indeed
know law but scarcely anything else, or by that class of old-
fashioned functionaries who could not conceive how a man could
master more than one thing.  We should however remember that Bacon
had not reached the age when great offices were usually conferred
in the professions, and that his efforts to be made solicitor-
general at the age of thirty-one, and even earlier, would now seem
unreasonable and importunate, whatever might be his attainments.
Disappointed in not receiving high office, he meditated a retreat
to Cambridge; but his friend Essex gave him a villa in Twickenham,
which he soon mortgaged, for he was in debt all his life, although
in receipt of sums which would have supported him in comfort and
dignity were it not for his habits of extravagance,--the greatest
flaw in his character, and which was the indirect cause of his
disgrace and fall.  He was even arrested for debt when he enjoyed a
lucrative practice at the courts.  But nothing prevented him from
pursuing his literary and scientific studies, amid great
distractions,--for he was both a leader at the bar and a leader of
the House of Commons; and if he did not receive the rewards to
which he felt entitled, he was always consulted by Elizabeth in
great legal difficulties.

It was not until the Queen died, and Bacon was forty-seven years
old, that he became solicitor-general (1607), in the fourth year of
the reign of James, one year after his marriage with Alice Barnham,
an alderman s daughter, "a handsome maiden," and "to his liking."
Besides this office, which brought him L1000 a year, he about this
time had a windfall as clerk of the Star Chamber, which added L2000
to his income, at that time from all sources about L4500 a year,--a
very large sum for those times, and making him really a rich man.
Six years afterward he was made attorney-general, and in the year
1617 he was made Lord Keeper, and the following year he was raised
to the highest position in the realm, next to that of Archbishop of
Canterbury, as Lord Chancellor, at the age of fifty-seven, and soon
after was created Lord Verulam.  That is his title, but the world
persists in calling him Lord Bacon.  In 1620, two years after the
execution of Sir Walter Raleigh, which Bacon advised, he was in the
zenith of his fortunes and fame, having been lately created
Viscount St. Albans, and having published the "Novum Organum," the
first instalment of the "Instauratio Magna," at which he had been
working the best part of his life,--some thirty years,--"A New
Logic, to judge or invent by induction, and thereby to make
philosophy and science both more true and more active."

Then began to gather the storms which were to wreck his fortunes.
The nation now was clamorous for reform; and Coke, the enemy of
Bacon, who was then the leader of the Reform party in the House of
Commons, stimulated the movement.  The House began its scrutiny
with the administration of justice; and Bacon could not stand
before it, for as the highest judge in England he was accused of
taking bribes before rendering decisions, and of many cases of
corruption so glaring that no defence was undertaken; and the House
of Lords had no alternative but to sentence him to the Tower and
fine him, to degrade him from his office, and banish him from the
precincts of the court,--a fall so great, and the impression of it
on the civilized world so tremendous, that the case of a judge
accepting bribes has rarely since been known.

Bacon was imprisoned but a few days, his ruinous fine of L40,000
was remitted, and he was even soon after received at court; but he
never again held office.  He was hopelessly disgraced; he was a
ruined man; and he bitterly felt the humiliation, and acknowledged
the justice of his punishment.  He had now no further object in
life than to pursue his studies, and live comfortably in his
retirement, and do what he could for future ages.

But before we consider his immortal legacy to the world, let us
take one more view of the man, in order that we may do him justice,
and remove some of the cruel charges against him as "the meanest of

It must be borne in mind that, from the beginning of his career
until his fall, only four or five serious charges have been made
against him,--that he was extravagant in his mode of life; that he
was a sycophant and office-seeker; that he deserted his patron
Essex; that he tortured Peacham, a Puritan clergyman, when tried
for high-treason; that he himself was guilty of corruption as a

In regard to the first charge, it is unfortunately too true; he
lived beyond his means, and was in debt most of his life.  This
defect, as has been said, was the root of much evil; it destroyed
his independence, detracted from the dignity of his character,
created enemies, and led to a laxity of the moral sense which
prepared the way for corruption,--thereby furnishing another
illustration of that fatal weakness which degrades any man when he
runs races with the rich, and indulges in a luxury and ostentation
which he cannot afford.  It was the curse of Cicero, of William
Pitt, and of Daniel Webster.  The first lesson which every public
man should learn, especially if honored with important trusts, is
to live within his income.  However inconvenient and galling, a
stringent economy is necessary.  But this defect is a very common
one, particularly when men are luxurious, or brought into
intercourse with the rich, or inclined to be hospitable and
generous, or have a great imagination and a sanguine temperament.
So that those who are most liable to fall into this folly have many
noble qualities to offset it, and it is not a stain which marks the
"meanest of mankind."  Who would call Webster the meanest of
mankind because he had an absurd desire to live like an English
country gentleman?

In regard to sycophancy, a disgusting trait, I admit,--we should
consider the age, when everybody cringed to sovereigns and their
favorites.  Bacon never made such an abject speech as Omer Talon,
the greatest lawyer in France, did to Louis XIII., in the
Parliament of Paris.  Three hundred years ago everybody bowed down
to exalted rank: witness the obsequious language which all authors
addressed to patrons in the dedication of their books.  How small
the chance of any man rising in the world, who did not court favors
from those who had favors to bestow!  Is that the meanest or the
most uncommon thing in this world?  If so, how ignominious are all
politicians who flatter the people and solicit their votes?  Is it
not natural to be obsequious to those who have offices to bestow?
This trait is not commendable, but is it the meanest thing we see?

In regard to Essex, nobody can approve of the ingratitude which
Bacon showed to his noble patron.  But, on the other hand, remember
the good advice which Bacon ever gave him, and his constant efforts
to keep him out of scrapes.  How often did he excuse him to his
royal mistress, at the risk of incurring her displeasure?  And
when Essex was guilty of a thousand times worse crime than ever
Bacon committed,--even high-treason, in a time of tumult and
insurrection,--and it became Bacon's task as prosecuting officer of
the Crown to bring this great culprit to justice, was he required
by a former friendship to sacrifice his duty and his allegiance to
his sovereign, to screen a man who had perverted the affection of
the noblest woman who ever wore a crown, and came near involving
his country in a civil war?  Grant that Essex had bestowed favors,
and was an accomplished and interesting man,--was Bacon to ignore
his official duties?  He may have been too harsh in his procedure;
but in that age all criminal proceedings were harsh and
inexorable,--there was but little mercy shown to culprits,
especially to traitors.  If Elizabeth could bring herself, out of
respect to her wounded honor and slighted kindness and the dignity
of the realm and the majesty of the law, to surrender into the
hands of justice one whom she so tenderly loved and magnificently
rewarded, even when the sacrifice cost her both peace and life,
snapped the last cord which bound her to this world,--may we not
forgive Bacon for the part he played?  Does this fidelity to an
official and professional duty, even if he were harsh, make him
"the meanest of mankind"?

In regard to Peacham, it is true he was tortured, according to the
practice of that cruel age; but Bacon had no hand in the issuing of
the warrant against him for high-treason, although in accordance
with custom he, as prosecuting officer of the Crown, examined
Peacham under torture before his trial.  The parson was convicted;
but the sentence of death was not executed upon him, and he died in

And in regard to corruption,--the sin which cast Bacon from his
high estate, though fortunately he did not fall like Lucifer, never
to rise again,--may not the verdict of the poet and the historian
be rather exaggerated?  Nobody has ever attempted to acquit Bacon
for taking bribes.  Nobody has ever excused him.  He did commit a
crime; but in palliation it might be said that he never decided
against justice, and that it was customary for great public
functionaries to accept presents.  Had he taken them after he had
rendered judgment instead of before, he might have been acquitted;
for out of the seven thousand cases which he decided as Lord-
Chancellor, not one of them has been reversed: so that he said of
himself, "I was the justest judge that England has had for fifty
years; and I suffered the justest sentence that had been inflicted
for two hundred years."  He did not excuse himself.  His
ingenuousness of confession astonished everybody, and moved the
hearts of his judges.  It was his misfortune to be in debt; he had
pressing creditors; and in two cases he accepted presents before
the decision was made, but was brave enough to decide against those
who bribed him,--hinc illae lacrymae.  A modern corrupt official
generally covers his tracks; and many a modern judge has been
bribed to decide against justice, and has escaped ignominy, even in
a country which claims the greatest purity and the loftiest moral
standard.  We admit that Bacon was a sinner; but was he a sinner
above all others who cast stones at Jerusalem?

In reference to these admitted defects and crimes, I only wish to
show that even these do not make him "the meanest of mankind."
What crimes have sullied many of those benefactors whom all ages
will admire and honor, and whom, in spite of their defects, we call
good men,--not bad men to be forgiven for their services, but
excellent and righteous on the whole!  See Abraham telling lies to
the King of Egypt; and Jacob robbing his brother of his birthright;
and David murdering his bravest soldier to screen himself from
adultery; and Solomon selling himself to false idols to please the
wicked women who ensnared him; and Peter denying his Master; and
Marcus Aurelius persecuting the Christians; and Constantine putting
to death his own son; and Theodosius slaughtering the citizens of
Thessalonica; and Isabella establishing the Inquisition; and Sir
Mathew Hale burning witches; and Cromwell stealing a sceptre; and
Calvin murdering Servetus; and Queen Elizabeth lying and cheating
and swearing in the midst of her patriotic labors for her country
and civilization.  Even the sun passes through eclipses.  Have the
spots upon the career of Bacon hidden the brightness of his general
beneficence?  Is he the meanest of men because he had great faults?
When we speak of mean men, it is those whose general character is

Now, see Bacon pursuing his honorable career amid rebuffs and
enmities and jealousies, toiling in Herculean tasks without
complaint, and waiting his time; always accessible, affable,
gentle, with no vulgar pride, if he aped vulgar ostentation; calm,
beneficent, studious, without envy or bitterness; interesting in
his home, courted as a friend, admired as a philosopher, generous
to the poor, kind to the servants who cheated him, with an
unsubdued love of Nature as well as of books; not negligent of
religious duties, a believer in God and immortality; and though
broken in spirit, like a bruised reed, yet soaring beyond all his
misfortunes to study the highest problems, and bequeathing his
knowledge for the benefit of future ages!  Can such a man be
stigmatized as "the meanest of mankind"?  Is it candid and just for
a great historian to indorse such a verdict, to gloss over Bacon's
virtues, and make like an advocate at the bar, or an ancient
sophist, a special plea to magnify his defects, and stain his noble
name with an infamy as deep as would be inflicted upon an enemy of
the human race?  And all for what?--just to make a rhetorical
point, and show the writer's brilliancy and genius in making a
telling contrast between the man and the philosopher.  A man who
habitually dwelt in the highest regions of thought during his whole
life, absorbed in lofty contemplations, all from love of truth
itself and to benefit the world, could not have had a mean or
sordid soul.  "As a man thinketh, so is he."  We admit that he was
a man of the world, politic, self-seeking, extravagant, careless
about his debts and how he raised money to pay them; but we deny
that he was a bad judge on the whole, or was unpatriotic, or
immoral in his private life, or mean in his ordinary dealings, or
more cruel and harsh in his judicial transactions than most of the
public functionaries of his rough and venal age.  We admit it is
difficult to controvert the charges which Macaulay arrays against
him, for so accurate and painstaking an historian is not likely to
be wrong in his facts; but we believe that they are uncandidly
stated, and so ingeniously and sophistically put as to give on the
whole a wrong impression of the man,--making him out worse than he
was, considering his age and circumstances.  Bacon's character,
like that of most great men, has two sides; and while we are
compelled painfully to admit that he had many faults, we shrink
from classing him among bad men, as is implied in Pope's
characterization of him as "the meanest of mankind."

We now take leave of the man, to consider his legacy to the world.
And here again we are compelled to take issue with Macaulay, not in
regard to the great fact that Bacon's inquiries tended to a new
revelation of Nature, and by means of the method called induction,
by which he sought to establish fixed principles of science that
could not be controverted, but in reference to the ends for which
he labored.  "The aim of Bacon," says Macaulay, "was utility,--
fruit; the multiplication of human enjoyments, . . . the mitigation
of human sufferings, . . . the prolongation of life by new
inventions,"--dotare vitam humanum novis inventis et copiis; "the
conquest of Nature,"--dominion over the beasts of the field and the
fowls of the air; the application of science to the subjection of
the outward world; progress in useful arts,--in those arts which
enable us to become strong, comfortable, and rich in houses, shops,
fabrics, tools, merchandise, new vegetables, fruits, and animals:
in short, a philosophy which will "not raise us above vulgar wants,
but will supply those wants."  "And as an acre in Middlesex is
worth more than a principality in Utopia, so the smallest practical
good is better than any magnificent effort to realize an
impossibility;" and "hence the first shoemaker has rendered more
substantial service to mankind than all the sages of Greece.  All
they could do was to fill the world with long beards and long
words; whereas Bacon's philosophy has lengthened life, mitigated
pain, extinguished disease, built bridges, guided the thunderbolts,
lightened the night with the splendor of the day, accelerated
motion, annihilated distance, facilitated intercourse; enabled men
to descend to the depths of the earth, to traverse the land in cars
which whirl without horses, and the ocean in ships which sail
against the wind."  In other words, it was his aim to stimulate
mankind, not to seek unattainable truth, but useful truth; that is,
the science which produces railroads, canals, cultivated farms,
ships, rich returns for labor, silver and gold from the mines,--all
that purchase the joys of material life and fit us for dominion
over the world in which we live.  Hence anything which will curtail
our sufferings and add to our pleasures or our powers, should be
sought as the highest good.  Geometry is desirable, not as a noble
intellectual exercise, but as a handmaid to natural philosophy.
Astronomy is not to assist the mind to lofty contemplation, but to
enable mariners to verify degrees of latitude and regulate clocks.
A college is not designed to train and discipline the mind, but to
utilize science, and become a school of technology.  Greek and
Latin exercises are comparatively worthless, and even mathematics,
unless they can be converted into practical use.  Philosophy, as
ordinarily understood,--that is, metaphysics,--is most idle of all,
since it does not pertain to mundane wants.  Hence the old Grecian
philosopher labored in vain; and still more profitless were the
disquisitions of the scholastics of the Middle Ages, since they
were chiefly used to prop up unintelligible creeds.  Theology is
not of much account, since it pertains to mysteries we cannot
solve.  It is not with heaven or hell, or abstract inquiries, or
divine certitudes, that we have to do, but the things of earth,--
things that advance our material and outward condition.  To be rich
and comfortable is the end of life,--not meditations on abstract
and eternal truth, such as elevate the soul or prepare it for a
future and endless life.  The certitudes of faith, of love, of
friendship, are of small value when compared with the blessings of
outward prosperity.  Utilitarianism is the true philosophy, for
this confines us to the world where we are born to labor, and
enables us to make acquisitions which promote our comfort and ease.
The chemist and the manufacturer are our greatest benefactors, for
they make for us oils and gases and paints,--things we must have.
The philosophy of Bacon is an immense improvement on all previous
systems, since it heralds the jubilee of trades, the millennium of
merchants, the schools of thrift, the apostles of physical
progress, the pioneers of enterprise,--the Franklins and
Stephensons and Tyndalls and Morses of our glorious era.  Its
watchword is progress.  All hail, then, to the electric telegraph
and telephones and Thames tunnels and Crystal Palaces and Niagara
bridges and railways over the Rocky Mountains!  The day of our
deliverance is come; the nations are saved; the Brunels and the
Fieldses are our victors and leaders!  Crown them with Olympic
leaves, as the heroes of our great games of life.  And thou, O
England! exalted art thou among the nations,--not for thy Oxfords
and Westminsters; not for thy divines and saints and martyrs and
poets; not for thy Hookers and Leightons and Cranmers and Miltons
and Burkes and Lockes; not for thy Reformation; not for thy
struggles for liberty,--but for thy Manchesters and Birminghams,
thy Portsmouth shipyards, thy London docks, thy Liverpool
warehouses, thy mines of coal and iron, thy countless mechanisms by
which thou bringest the wealth of nations into thy banks, and art
enabled to buy the toil of foreigners and to raise thy standards on
the farthest battlements of India and China.  These conquests and
acquisitions are real, are practical; machinery over life, the
triumph of physical forces, dominion over waves and winds,--these
are the great victories which consummate the happiness of man; and
these are they which flow from the philosophy which Bacon taught.

Now Macaulay does not directly say all these things, but these are
the spirit and gist of the interpretation which he puts upon
Bacon's writings.  The philosophy of Bacon leads directly to these
blessings; and these constitute its great peculiarity.  And it
cannot be denied that the new era which Bacon heralded was fruitful
in these very things,--that his philosophy encouraged this new
development of material forces; but it may be questioned whether he
had not something else in view than mere utility and physical
progress, and whether his method could not equally be applied to
metaphysical subjects; whether it did not pertain to the whole
domain of truth, and take in the whole realm of human inquiry.  I
believe that Bacon was interested, not merely in the world of
matter, but in the world of mind; that he sought to establish
principles from which sound deductions might be made, as well as to
establish reliable inductions.  Lord Campbell thinks that a perfect
system of ethics could be made out of his writings, and that his
method is equally well adapted to examine and classify the
phenomena of the mind.  He separated the legitimate paths of human
inquiry, giving his attention to poetry and politics and
metaphysics, as well as to physics.  Bacon does not sneer as
Macaulay does at the ancient philosophers; he bears testimony to
their genius and their unrivalled dialectical powers, even if he
regards their speculations as frequently barren.  He does not
flippantly ridicule the homoousian and the homoiousian as mere
words, but the expression and exponent of profound theological
distinctions, as every theologian knows them to be.  He does not
throw dirt on metaphysical science if properly directed, still less
on noble inquiries after God and the mysteries of life.  He is
subjective as well as objective.  He treats of philosophy in its
broadest meaning, as it takes in the province of the understanding,
the memory, and the will, as well as of man in society.  He speaks
of the principles of government and of the fountains of law; of
universal justice, of eternal spiritual truth.  So that Playfair
judiciously observes (and he was a scientist) "that it was not by
sagacious anticipations of science, afterwards to be made in
physics, that his writings have had so powerful an influence,
as in his knowledge of the limits and resources of the human
understanding.  It would be difficult to find another writer, prior
to Locke, whose works are enriched with so many just observations
on mere intellectual phenomena.  What he says of the laws of
memory, or imagination, has never been surpassed in subtlety.  No
man ever more carefully studied the operation of his own mind and
the intellectual character of others."  Nor did Bacon despise
metaphysical science, only the frivolous questions that the old
scholastics associated with it, and the general barrenness of their
speculations.  He surely would not have disdained the subsequent
inquiries of Locke, or Berkeley, or Leibnitz, or Kant.  True, he
sought definite knowledge,--something firm to stand upon, and which
could not be controverted.  No philosophy can be sound when the
principle from which deductions are made is not itself certain or
very highly probable, or when this principle, pushed to its utmost
logical sequence, would lead to absurdity, or even to a conflict
with human consciousness.  To Bacon the old methods were wrong, and
it was his primal aim to reform the scientific methods in order to
arrive at truth; not truth for utilitarian ends chiefly, but truth
for its own sake.  He loved truth as Palestrina loved music, or
Raphael loved painting, or Socrates loved virtue.

Now the method which was almost exclusively employed until Bacon's
time is commonly called the deductive method; that is, some
principle or premise was assumed to be true, and reasoning was made
from this assumption.  No especial fault was found with the
reasoning of the great masters of logic like Aristotle and Thomas
Aquinas, for it never has been surpassed in acuteness and severity.
If their premises were admitted, their conclusions would follow as
a certainty.  What was wanted was to establish the truth of
premises, or general propositions.  This Bacon affirmed could be
arrived at only by induction; that is, the ascending from
ascertained individual facts to general principles, by extending
what is true of particulars to the whole class in which they
belong.  Bacon has been called the father of inductive science,
since he would employ the inductive method.  Yet he is not truly
the father of induction, since it is as old as the beginnings of
science.  Hippocrates, when he ridiculed the quacks of his day, and
collected the facts and phenomena of disease, and inferred from
them the proper treatment of it, was as much the father of
induction as Bacon himself.  The error the ancients made was in not
collecting a sufficient number of facts to warrant a sound
induction.  And the ancients looked out for facts to support some
preconceived theory, from which they reasoned syllogistically.  The
theory could not be substantiated by any syllogistic reasonings,
since conclusions could never go beyond assumptions; if the
assumptions were wrong, no ingenious or elaborate reasoning would
avail anything towards the discovery of truth, but could only
uphold what was assumed.  This applied to theology as well as to
science.  In the Dark Ages it was well for the teachers of mankind
to uphold the dogmas of the Church, which they did with masterly
dialectical skill.  Those were ages of Faith, and not of Inquiry.
It was all-important to ground believers in a firm faith of the
dogmas which were deemed necessary to support the church and the
cause of religion.  They were regarded as absolute certainties.
There was no dispute about the premises of the scholastic's
arguments; and hence his dialectics strengthened the mind by the
exercise of logical sports, and at the same time confirmed the

The world never saw a more complete system of dogmatic theology
than that elaborated by Thomas Aquinas.  When the knowledge of the
Greek and Hebrew was rare and imperfect, and it was impossible to
throw light by means of learning and science on the texts of
Scripture, it was well to follow the interpretation of such a great
light as Augustine, and assume his dogmas as certainties, since
they could not then be controverted; and thus from them construct a
system of belief which would confirm the faith.  But Aquinas, with
his Aristotelian method of syllogism and definitions, could not go
beyond Augustine.  Augustine was the fountain, and the water that
flowed from it in ten thousand channels could not rise above the
spring; and as everybody appealed to and believed in Saint
Augustine, it was well to construct a system from him to confute
the heretical, and which the heretical would respect.  The
scholastic philosophy which some ridicule, in spite of its
puerilities and sophistries and syllogisms, preserved the theology
of the Middle Ages, perhaps of the Fathers.  It was a mighty
bulwark of the faith which was then accepted.  No honors could be
conferred on its great architects that were deemed extravagant.
The Pope and the clergy saw in Thomas Aquinas the great defender of
the Church,--not of its abuses, but of its doctrines.  And if no
new light can be shed on the Scripture text from which assumptions
were made; if these assumptions cannot be assailed, if they are
certitudes,--then we can scarcely have better text-books than those
furnished to the theologians of the Middle Ages, for no modern
dialetician can excel them in severity of logic.  The great object
of modern theologians should be to establish the authenticity and
meaning of the Scripture texts on which their assumptions rest; and
this can be done only by the method which Bacon laid down, which is
virtually a collation and collection of facts,--that is, divine
declarations.  Establish the meaning of these without question, and
we have principia from which we may deduce creeds and systems, the
usefulness of which cannot be exaggerated, especially in an age of
agnosticism.  Having fundamental principles which cannot be
gainsaid, we may philosophically draw deductions.  Bacon did not
make war on deduction, when its fundamental truths are established.
Deduction is as much a necessary part of philosophy as induction:
it is the peculiarity of the Scotch metaphysicians, who have ever
deduced truths from those previously established.  Deduction even
enters into modern science as well as induction.  When Cuvier
deduced from a bone the form and habits of the mastodon; when
Kepler deduced his great laws, all from the primary thought that
there must be some numerical or geographical relation between the
times, distances, and velocities of the revolving bodies of the
solar system; when Newton deduced, as is said, the principle of
gravitation from the fall of an apple; when Leverrier sought for a
new planet from the perturbations of the heavenly bodies in their
orbits,--we feel that deduction is as much a legitimate process as
induction itself.

But deductive logic is the creation of Aristotle; and it was the
authority of Aristotle that Bacon sought to subvert.  The inductive
process is also old, of which Bacon is called the father.  How are
these things to be reconciled and explained?  Wherein and how did
Bacon adapt his method to the discovery of truth, which was his
principal aim,--that method which is the great cause of modern
progress in science, the way to it being indicated by him pre-

The whole thing consists in this, that Bacon pointed out the right
road to truth,--as a board where two roads meet or diverge
indicates the one which is to be followed.  He did not make a
system, like Descartes or Spinoza or Newton: he showed the way to
make it on sound principles.  "He laid down a systematic analysis
and arrangement of inductive evidence."  The syllogism, the great
instrument used by Aristotle and the Schoolmen, "is, from its very
nature, incompetent to prove the ultimate premises from which it
proceeds; and when the truth of these remains doubtful, we can
place no confidence in the conclusions drawn from them."  Hence,
the first step in the reform of science is to review its ultimate
principles; and the first condition of a scientific method is that
it shall be competent to conduct such an inquiry; and this method
is applicable, not to physical science merely, but to the whole
realm of knowledge.  This, of course, includes poetry, art,
intellectual philosophy, and theology, as well as geology and

And it is this breadth of inquiry--directed to subjective as well
as objective knowledge--which made Bacon so great a benefactor.
The defect in Macaulay's criticism is that he makes Bacon
interested in mere outward phenomena, or matters of practical
utility,--a worldly utilitarian of whom Epicureans may be proud.
In reality he soared to the realm of Plato as well as of Aristotle.
Take, for instance, his Idola Mentis Humanae, or "Phantoms of the
Human Mind," which compose the best-known part of the "Novum
Organum."  "The Idols of the Tribe" would show the folly of
attempting to penetrate further than the limits of the human
faculties permit, as also "the liability of the intellect to be
warped by the will and affections, and the like."  The "Idols of
the Den" have reference to "the tendency to notice differences
rather than resemblances, or resemblances rather than differences,
in the attachment to antiquity or novelty, in the partiality to
minute or comprehensive investigations."  "The Idols of the Market-
Place" have reference to the tendency to confound words with
things, which has ever marked controversialists in their learned
disputatious.  In what he here says about the necessity for
accurate definitions, he reminds us of Socrates rather than a
modern scientist; this necessity for accuracy applies to
metaphysics as much as it does to physics.  "The Idols of the
Theatre" have reference to perverse laws of demonstration which are
the strongholds of error.  This school deals in speculations and
experiments confined to a narrow compass, like those of the
alchemists,--too imperfect to elicit the light which should guide.

Bacon having completed his discussion of the Idola, then proceeds,
to point out the weakness of the old philosophies, which produced
leaves rather than fruit, and were stationary in their character.
Here he would seem to lean towards utilitarianism, were it not that
he is as severe on men of experiment as on men of dogma.  "The men
of experiment are," says he, "like ants,--they only collect and
use; the reasoners resemble spiders, who make cobwebs out of their
own substance.  But the bee takes a middle course; it gathers the
material from the flowers, but digests it by a power of its own. . . .
So true philosophy neither chiefly relies on the powers of the
mind, nor takes the matter which it gathers and lays it up in the
memory, whole as it finds it, but lays it up in the understanding,
to be transformed and digested."  Here he simply points out the
laws by which true knowledge is to be attained.  He does not extol
physical science alone, though doubtless he had a preference for it
over metaphysical inquiries.  He was an Englishman, and the English
mind is objective rather than subjective, and is prone to over-
value the outward and the seen, above the inward and unseen; and
perhaps for the same reason that the Old Testament seems to make
prosperity the greatest blessing, while adversity seems to be the
blessing of the New Testament.

One of Bacon's longest works is the "Silva Sylvarum,"--a sort of
natural history, in which he treats of the various forces and
productions of Nature,--the air the sea, the winds, the clouds,
plants and animals, fire and water, sounds and discords, colors and
smells, heat and cold, disease and health; but which varied
subjects he presents to communicate knowledge, with no especial
utilitarian end.

"The Advancement of Learning" is one of Bacon's most famous
productions, but I fail to see in it an objective purpose to
enable men to become powerful or rich or comfortable; it is
rather an abstract treatise, as dry to most people as legal
disquisitions, and with no more reference to rising in the world
than "Blackstone's Commentaries" or "Coke upon Littleton."  It
is a profound dissertation on the excellence of learning; its
great divisions treating of history, poetry, and philosophy,--of
metaphysical as well as physical philosophy; of the province
of understanding, the memory, the will, the reason, and the
imagination; and of man in society,--of government, of universal
justice, of the fountains of law, of revealed religion.

And if we turn from the new method by which he would advance all
knowledge, and on which his fame as a philosopher chiefly rests,--
that method which has led to discoveries that even Bacon never
dreamed of, not thinking of the fruit he was to bestow, but only
the way to secure it,--even as a great inventor thinks more of his
invention than of the money he himself may reap from it, as a work
of creation to benefit the world rather than his own family, and in
the work of which his mind revels in a sort of intoxicated delight,
like a true poet when he constructs his lines, or a great artist
when he paints his picture,--a pure subjective joy, not an
anticipated gain;--if we turn from this "method" to most of his
other writings, what do we find?  Simply the lucubrations of a man
of letters, the moral wisdom of the moralist, the historian, the
biographer, the essayist.  In these writings we discover no more
worldliness than in Macaulay when he wrote his "Milton," or Carlyle
when he penned his "Burns,"--even less, for Bacon did not write to
gain a living, but to please himself and give vent to his burning
thoughts.  In these he had no worldly aim to reach, except perhaps
an imperishable fame.  He wrote as Michael Angelo sculptured his
Moses; and he wrote not merely amid the cares and duties of a great
public office, with other labors which might be called Herculean,
but even amid pains of disease and the infirmities of age,--when
rest, to most people, is the greatest boon and solace of their

Take his Essays,--these are among his best-known works,--so
brilliant and forcible, suggestive and rich, that even Archbishop
Whately's commentaries upon them are scarcely an addition.  Surely
these are not on material subjects, and indicate anything but a
worldly or sordid nature.  In these famous Essays, so luminous with
the gems of genius, we read not such worldly-wise exhortations as
Lord Chesterfield impressed upon his son, not the gossiping
frivolities of Horace Walpole, not the cynical wit of Montaigne,
but those great certitudes which console in affliction, which
kindle hope, which inspire lofty resolutions,--anchors of the soul,
pillars of faith, sources of immeasurable joy, the glorious ideals
of true objects of desire, the eternal unities of truth and love
and beauty; all of which reveal the varied experiences of life and
the riches of deeply-pondered meditation on God and Christianity,
as well as knowledge of the world and the desirableness of its
valued gifts.  How beautiful are his thoughts on death, on
adversity, on glory, on anger, on friendship, on fame, on ambition,
on envy, on riches, on youth and old age, and divers other subjects
of moral import, which show the elevation of his soul, and the
subjective as well as the objective turn of his mind; not dwelling
on what he should eat and what he should drink and wherewithal he
should be clothed, but on the truths which appeal to our higher
nature, and which raise the thoughts of men from earth to heaven,
or at least to the realms of intellectual life and joy.

And then, it is necessary that we should take in view other labors
which dignified Bacon's retirement, as well as those which marked
his more active career as a lawyer and statesman,--his histories
and biographies, as well as learned treatises to improve the laws
of England; his political discourses, his judicial charges, his
theological tracts, his speeches and letters and prayers; all of
which had relation to benefit others rather than himself.  Who has
ever done more to instruct the world,--to enable men to rise not in
fortune merely, but in virtue and patriotism, in those things which
are of themselves the only reward?  We should consider these
labors, as well as the new method he taught to arrive at knowledge,
in our estimate of the sage as well as of the man.  He was a moral
philosopher, like Socrates.  He even soared into the realm of
supposititious truth, like Plato.  He observed Nature, like
Aristotle.  He took away the syllogism from Thomas Aquinas,--not to
throw contempt on metaphysical inquiry or dialectical reasoning,
but to arrive by a better method at the knowledge of first
principles; which once established, he allowed deductions to be
drawn from them, leading to other truths as certainly as induction
itself.  Yea, he was also a Moses on the mount of Pisgah, from
which with prophetic eye he could survey the promised land of
indefinite wealth and boundless material prosperity, which
he was not permitted to enter, but which he had bequeathed to
civilization.  This may have been his greatest gift in the view of
scientific men,--this inductive process of reasoning, by which
great discoveries have been made after he was dead.  But this was
not his only legacy, for other things which he taught were as
valuable, not merely in his sight, but to the eye of enlightened
reason.  There are other truths besides those of physical science;
there is greatness in deduction as well as in induction.  Geometry--
whose successive and progressive revelations are so inspiring, and
which have come down to us from a remote antiquity, which are even
now taught in our modern schools as Euclid demonstrated them, since
they cannot be improved--is a purely deductive science.  The
scholastic philosophy, even if it was barren and unfruitful in
leading to new truths, yet confirmed what was valuable in the old
systems, and by the severity of its logic and its dialectical
subtleties trained the European mind for the reception of the
message of Luther and Bacon; and this was based on deductions,
never wrong unless the premises are unsound.  Theology is deductive
reasoning from truths assumed to be fundamental, and is inductive
only so far as it collates Scripture declarations, and interprets
their meaning by the aid which learning brings.  Is not this
science worthy of some regard?  Will it not live when all the
speculations of evolutionists are forgotten, and occupy the
thoughts of the greatest and profoundest minds so long as anything
shall be studied, so long as the Bible shall be the guide of life?
Is it not by deduction that we ascend from Nature herself to the
God of Nature?  What is more certain than deduction when the
principles from which it reasons are indisputably established?

Is induction, great as it is, especially in the explorations of
Nature and science, always certain?  Are not most of the sciences
which are based upon it progressive?  Have we yet learned the
ultimate principles of political economy, or of geology, or of
government, or even of art?  The theory of induction, though
supposed by Dr. Whewell to lead to certain results, is regarded by
Professor Jevons as leading to results only "almost certain."  "All
inductive inference is merely probable," says the present professor
of logic, Thomas Fowler, in the University of Oxford.

And although it is supposed that the inductive method of Bacon has
led to the noblest discoveries of modern times, is this strictly
true?  Galileo made his discoveries in the heavens before Bacon
died.  Physical improvements must need follow such inventions as
gunpowder and the mariners' compass, and printing and the pictures
of Italy, and the discovery of mines and the revived arts of the
Romans and Greeks, and the glorious emancipation which the
Reformation produced.  Why should not the modern races follow in
the track of Carthage and Alexandria and Rome, with the progress of
wealth, and carry out inventions as those cities did, and all other
civilized peoples since Babel towered above the plains of Babylon?
Physical developments arise from the developments of man, whatever
method may be recommended by philosophers.  What philosophical
teachings led to the machinery of the mines of California, or to
that of the mills of Lowell?  Some think that our modern
improvements would have come whether Bacon had lived or not.  But I
would not disparage the labors of Bacon in pointing out the method
which leads to scientific discoveries.  Granting that he sought
merely utility, an improvement in the outward condition of society,
which is the view that Macaulay takes, I would not underrate his
legacy.  And even supposing that the blessings of material life--
"the acre of Middlesex"--are as much to be desired as Macaulay,
with the complacency of an eminently practical and prosperous man,
seems to argue, I would not sneer at them.  Who does not value
them?  Who will not value them so long as our mortal bodies are to
be cared for?  It is a pleasant thing to ride in "cars without
horses," to feel in winter the genial warmth of grates and
furnaces, to receive messages from distant friends in a moment of
time, to cross the ocean without discomfort, with the "almost
certainty" of safety, and save our wives and daughters from the
ancient drudgeries of the loom and the knitting-needle.  Who ever
tires in gazing at a locomotive as it whirls along with the power
of destiny?  Who is not astonished at the triumphs of the engineer,
the wonders of an ocean-steamer, the marvellous tunnels under lofty
mountains?  We feel that Titans have been sent to ease us of our

But great and beneficent as are these blessings, they are not the
only certitudes, nor are they the greatest.  An outward life of
ease and comfort is not the chief end of man.  The interests of the
soul are more important than any comforts of the body.  The higher
life is only reached by lofty contemplation on the true, the
beautiful, and the good.  Subjective wisdom is worth more than
objective knowledge.  What are the great realities,--machinery, new
breeds of horses, carpets, diamonds, mirrors, gas? or are they
affections, friendships, generous impulses, inspiring thoughts?
Look to Socrates: what raised that barefooted, ugly-looking,
impecunious, persecuted, cross-questioning, self-constituted
teacher, without pay, to the loftiest pedestal of Athenian fame?
What was the spirit of the truths HE taught?  Was it objective or
subjective truth; the way to become rich and comfortable, or the
search for the indefinite, the infinite, the eternal,--Utopia, not
Middlesex,--that which fed the wants of the immaterial soul, and
enabled it to rise above temptation and vulgar rewards?  What
raised Plato to the highest pinnacle of intellectual life?  Was it
definite and practical knowledge of outward phenomena; or was it "a
longing after love, in the contemplation of which the mortal soul
sustains itself, and becomes participant in the glories of
immortality"?  What were realities to Anselm, Bernard, and
Bonaventura?  What gave beauty and placidity to Descartes and
Leibnitz and Kant?  It may be very dignified for a modern savant to
sit serenely on his tower of observation, indifferent to all the
lofty speculations of the great men of bygone ages; yet those
profound questions pertaining to the [Greek text omitted] and the
[Greek text omitted], which had such attractions for Augustine and
Pascal and Calvin, did have as real bearing on human life and on
what is best worth knowing, as the scales of a leuciscus cephalus
or the limbs of a magnified animalculus, or any of the facts of
which physical science can boast.  The wonders of science are
great, but so also are the secrets of the soul, the mysteries of
the spiritual life, the truths which come from divine revelation.
Whatever most dignifies humanity, and makes our labors sweet,
and causes us to forget our pains, and kindles us to lofty
contemplations, and prompts us to heroic sacrifice, is the most
real and the most useful.  Even the leaves of a barren and
neglected philosophy may be in some important respects of more
value than all the boasted fruit of utilitarian science.  Is that
which is most useful always the most valuable,--that, I mean, which
gives the highest pleasure?  Do we not plant our grounds with the
acacia, the oak, the cedar, the elm, as well as with the apple, the
pear, and the cherry?  Are not flowers and shrubs which beautify
the lawn as desirable as beans and turnips and cabbages?  Is not
the rose or tulip as great an addition to even a poor man's cottage
as his bed of onions or patch of potatoes?  What is the scale to
measure even mortal happiness?  What is the marketable value of
friendship or of love?  What makes the dinner of herbs sometimes
more refreshing than the stalled ox?  What is the material profit
of a first love?  What is the value in tangible dollars and cents
of a beautiful landscape, or a speaking picture, or a marble
statue, or a living book, or the voice of eloquence, or the charm
of earliest bird, or the smile of a friend, or the promise of
immortality?  In what consisted the real glory of the country we
are never weary of quoting,--the land of Phidias and Pericles and
Demosthenes?  Was it not in immaterial ideas, in patriotism, in
heroism, in conceptions of ideal beauty, in speculations on the
infinite and unattainable, in the songs which still inspire the
minds of youth, in the expression which made marble live, in those
conceptions of beauty and harmony which still give shape to the
temples of Christendom?  Was Rome more glorious with her fine roads
and tables of thuja-root, and Falernian wines, and oysters from the
Lucrine Lake, and chariots of silver, and robes of purple and rings
of gold,--these useful blessings which are the pride of an
Epicurean civilization?  And who gave the last support, who raised
the last barrier, against that inundation of destructive pleasures
in which some see the most valued fruits of human invention, but
which proved a canker that prepared the way to ruin?  It was that
pious Emperor who learned his wisdom from a slave, and who set a
haughty defiance to all the grandeur and all the comforts of the
highest position which earth could give, and spent his leisure
hours in the quiet study of those truths which elevate the soul,--
truths not taught by science or nature, but by communication with
invisible powers.

Ah, what indeed is reality; what is the higher good; what is that
which perishes never; what is that which assimilates man to Deity?
Is it houses, is it lands, is it gold and silver, is it luxurious
couches, is it the practical utilitarian comforts that pamper this
mortal body in its brief existence? or is it women's loves and
patriots' struggles, and sages' pious thoughts, affections, noble
aspirations, Bethanies, the serenities of virtuous old age, the
harmonies of unpolluted homes, the existence of art, of truth, of
love; the hopes which last when sun and stars decay?  Tell us, ye
women, what are realities to you,--your carpets, your plate, your
jewels, your luxurious banquets; or your husbands' love, your
friends' esteem, your children's reverence?  And ye, toiling men of
business, what is really your highest joy,--your piles of gold,
your marble palaces; or the pleasures of your homes, the
approbation of your consciences, your hopes of future bliss?  Yes,
you are dreamers, like poets and philosophers, when you call
yourselves pack-horses.  Even you are only sustained in labor by
intangible rewards that you can neither see nor feel.  The most
practical of men and women can really only live in those ideas
which are deemed indefinite and unreal.  For what do the busiest of
you run away from money-making, and ride in cold or heat, in
dreariness or discomfort,--dinners, or greetings of love and
sympathy?  On what are such festivals as Christmas and Thanksgiving
Day based?--on consecrated sentiments that have more force than any
material gains or ends.  These, after all, are realities to you as
much as ideas were to Plato, or music to Beethoven, or patriotism
to Washington.  Deny these as the higher certitudes, and you rob
the soul of its dignity, and life of its consolations.


Bacon's Works, edited by Basil Montagu; Bacon's Life, by Basil
Montagu; Bacon's Life, by James Spedding; Bacon's Life, by Thomas
Fowler; Dr. Abbott's Introduction to Bacon's Essays, in
Contemporary Review, 1876; Macaulay's famous essay in Edinburgh
Review, 1839; Archbishop Whately's annotations of the Essays of
Bacon; the general Histories of England.


A. D. 1564-1642.


Among the wonders of the sixteenth century was the appearance of a
new star in the northern horizon, which, shining at first with a
feeble light, gradually surpassed the brightness of the planet
Jupiter; and then changing its color from white to yellow and from
yellow to red, after seventeen months, faded away from the sight,
and has not since appeared.  This celebrated star, first seen by
Tycho Brahe in the constellation Cassiopeia, never changed its
position, or presented the slightest perceptible parallax.  It
could not therefore have been a meteor, nor a planet regularly
revolving round the sun, nor a comet blazing with fiery nebulous
light, nor a satellite of one of the planets, but a fixed star, far
beyond our solar system.  Such a phenomenon created an immense
sensation, and has never since been satisfactorily explained by
philosophers.  In the infancy of astronomical science it was
regarded by astrologers as a sign to portend the birth of an
extraordinary individual.

Though the birth of some great political character was supposed to
be heralded by this mysterious star, its prophetic meaning might
with more propriety apply to the extraordinary man who astonished
his contemporaries by discoveries in the heavens, and who forms the
subject of this lecture; or it poetically might apply to the
brilliancy of the century itself in which it appeared.  The
sixteenth century cannot be compared with the nineteenth century in
the variety and scope of scientific discoveries; but, compared with
the ages which had preceded it, it was a memorable epoch, marked by
the simultaneous breaking up of the darkness of mediaeval Europe,
and the bursting forth of new energies in all departments of human
thought and action.  In that century arose great artists, poets,
philosophers, theologians, reformers, navigators, jurists,
statesmen, whose genius has scarcely since been surpassed.  In
Italy it was marked by the triumphs of scholars and artists; in
Germany and France, by reformers and warriors; in England, by that
splendid constellation that shed glory on the reign of Elizabeth.
Close upon the artists who followed Da Vinci, to Salvator Rosa,
were those scholars of whom Emanuel Chrysoloras, Erasmus, and
Scaliger were the representatives,--going back to the classic
fountains of Greece and Rome, reviving a study for antiquity,
breathing a new spirit into universities, enriching vernacular
tongues, collecting and collating manuscripts, translating the
Scriptures, and stimulating the learned to emancipate themselves
from the trammels of the scholastic philosophers.

Then rose up the reformers, headed by Luther, consigning to
destruction the emblems and ceremonies of mediaeval superstition,
defying popes, burning bulls, ridiculing monks, exposing frauds,
unravelling sophistries, attacking vices and traditions with the
new arms of reason, and asserting before councils and dignitaries
the right of private judgment and the supreme authority of the
Bible in all matters of religious faith.

And then appeared the defenders of their cause, by force of arms
maintaining the great rights of religious liberty in France,
Germany, Switzerland, Holland, and England, until Protestantism was
established in half of the countries that had for more than a
thousand years servilely bowed down to the authority of the popes.
Genius stimulates and enterprise multiplies all the energies and
aims of emancipated millions.  Before the close of the sixteenth
century new continents are colonized, new modes of warfare are
introduced, manuscripts are changed into printed books, the
comforts of life are increased, governments are more firmly
established, and learned men are enriched and honored.  Feudalism
has succumbed to central power, and barons revolve around their
sovereign at court rather than compose an independent authority.
Before that century had been numbered with the ages past, the
Portuguese had sailed to the East Indies, Sir Francis Drake had
circumnavigated the globe, Pizarro had conquered Peru, Sir Walter
Raleigh had colonized Virginia, Ricci had penetrated to China,
Lescot had planned the palace of the Louvre, Raphael had painted
the Transfiguration, Michael Angelo had raised the dome of St.
Peter's, Giacomo della Porta had ornamented the Vatican with
mosaics, Copernicus had taught the true centre of planetary motion,
Dumoulin had introduced into French jurisprudence the principles of
the Justinian code, Ariosto had published the "Orlando Furioso,"
Cervantes had written "Don Quixote," Spenser had dedicated his
"Fairy Queen," Shakspeare had composed his immortal dramas, Hooker
had devised his "Ecclesiastical Polity," Cranmer had published his
Forty-two Articles, John Calvin had dedicated to Francis I. his
celebrated "Institutes," Luther had translated the Bible, Bacon had
begun the "Instauration of Philosophy," Bellarmine had systematized
the Roman Catholic theology, Henry IV. had signed the Edict of
Nantes, Queen Elizabeth had defeated the Invincible Armada, and
William the Silent had achieved the independence of Holland.

Such were some of the lights and some of the enterprises of that
great age, when the profoundest questions pertaining to philosophy,
religion, law, and government were discussed with the enthusiasm
and freshness of a revolutionary age; when men felt the inspiration
of a new life, and looked back on the Middle Ages with disgust and
hatred, as a period which enslaved the human soul.  But what
peculiarly marked that period was the commencement of those
marvellous discoveries in science which have enriched our times and
added to the material blessings of the new civilization.  Tycho
Brahe, Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, and Bacon inaugurated the era
which led to progressive improvements in the physical condition of
society, and to those scientific marvels which have followed in
such quick succession and produced such astonishing changes that we
are fain to boast that we have entered upon the most fortunate and
triumphant epoch in our world's history.

Many men might be taken as the representatives of this new era of
science and material inventions, but I select Galileo Galilei as
one of the most interesting in his life, opinions, and conflicts.

Galileo was born at Pisa, in the year 1564, the year that Calvin
and Michael Angelo died, four years after the birth of Bacon, in
the sixth year of the reign of Elizabeth, and the fourth of Charles
IX., about the time when the Huguenot persecution was at its
height, and the Spanish monarchy was in its most prosperous state,
under Philip II.  His parents were of a noble but impoverished
Florentine family; and his father, who was a man of some learning,--
a writer on the science of music,--gave him the best education he
could afford.  Like so many of the most illustrious men, he early
gave promise of rare abilities.  It was while he was a student in
the university of his native city that his attention was arrested
by the vibrations of a lamp suspended from the ceiling of the
cathedral; and before he had quitted the church, while the choir
was chanting mediaeval anthems, he had compared those vibrations
with his own pulse, which after repeated experiments, ended in the
construction of the first pendulum,--applied not as it was by
Huygens to the measurement of time, but to medical science, to
enable physicians to ascertain the rate of the pulse.  But the
pendulum was soon brought into the service of the clockmakers, and
ultimately to the determination of the form of the earth, by its
minute irregularities in diverse latitudes, and finally to the
measurement of differences of longitude by its connection with
electricity and the recording of astronomical observations.  Thus
it was that the swinging of a cathedral lamp, before the eye of a
man of genius, has done nearly as much as the telescope itself to
advance science, to say nothing of its practical uses in common

Galileo had been destined by his father to the profession of
medicine, and was ignorant of mathematics.  He amused his leisure
hours with painting and music, and in order to study the principles
of drawing he found it necessary to acquire some knowledge of
geometry, much to the annoyance of his father, who did not like to
see his mind diverted from the prescriptions of Hippocrates and
Galen.  The certain truths of geometry burst upon him like a
revelation, and after mastering Euclid he turned to Archimedes with
equal enthusiasm.  Mathematics now absorbed his mind, and the
father was obliged to yield to the bent of his genius, which seemed
to disdain the regular professions by which social position was
most surely effected.  He wrote about this time an essay on the
Hydrostatic Balance, which introduced him to Guido Ubaldo, a famous
mathematician, who induced him to investigate the subject of the
centre of gravity in solid bodies.  His treatise on this subject
secured an introduction to the Grand Duke of Tuscany, who perceived
his merits, and by whom he was appointed a lecturer on mathematics
at Pisa, but on the small salary of sixty crowns a year.

This was in 1589, when he was twenty-five, an enthusiastic young
man, full of hope and animal spirits, the charm of every circle for
his intelligence, vivacity, and wit; but bold and sarcastic,
contemptuous of ancient dogmas, defiant of authority, and therefore
no favorite with Jesuit priests and Dominican professors.  It is
said that he was a handsome man, with bright golden locks, such as
painters in that age loved to perpetuate upon the canvas; hilarious
and cheerful, fond of good cheer, yet a close student, obnoxious
only to learned dunces and narrow pedants and treadmill professors
and zealous priests,--all of whom sought to molest him, yet to whom
he was either indifferent or sarcastic, holding them and their
formulas up to ridicule.  He now directed his inquiries to the
mechanical doctrines of Aristotle, to whose authority the schools
had long bowed down, and whom he too regarded as one of the great
intellectual giants of the world, yet not to be credited without
sufficient reasons.  Before the "Novum Organum" was written, he
sought, as Bacon himself pointed out, the way to arrive at truth,--
a foundation to stand upon, a principle tested by experience,
which, when established by experiment, would serve for sure

Now one of the principles assumed by Aristotle, and which had never
been disputed, was, that if different weights of the same material
were let fall from the same height, the heavier would reach the
ground sooner than the lighter, and in proportion to the difference
of weight.  This assumption Galileo denied, and asserted that, with
the exception of a small difference owing to the resistance of the
air, both would fall to the ground in the same space of time.  To
prove his position by actual experiment, he repaired to the leaning
tower of Pisa, and demonstrated that he was right and Aristotle was
wrong.  The Aristotelians would not believe the evidence of their
own senses, and ascribed the effect to some unknown cause.  To such
a degree were men enslaved by authority.  This provoked Galileo,
and led him to attack authority with still greater vehemence,
adding mockery to sarcasm; which again exasperated his opponents,
and doubtless laid the foundation of that personal hostility which
afterwards pursued him to the prison of the Inquisition.  This
blended arrogance and asperity in a young man was offensive to the
whole university, yet natural to one who had overturned one of the
favorite axioms of the greatest master of thought the world had
seen for nearly two thousand years; and the scorn and opposition
with which his discovery was received increased his rancor, so that
he, in his turn, did not render justice to the learned men arrayed
against him, who were not necessarily dull or obstinate because
they would not at once give up the opinions in which they were
educated, and which the learned world still accepted.  Nor did they
oppose and hate him for his new opinions, so much as from dislike
of his personal arrogance and bitter sarcasms.

At last his enemies made it too hot for him at Pisa.  He resigned
his chair (1591), but only to accept a higher position at Padua, on
a salary of one hundred and eighty florins,--not, however, adequate
to his support, so that he was obliged to take pupils in
mathematics.  To show the comparative estimate of that age of
science, the fact may be mentioned that the professor of scholastic
philosophy in the same university was paid fourteen hundred
florins.  This was in 1592; and the next year Galileo invented the
thermometer, still an imperfect instrument, since air was not
perfectly excluded.  At this period his reputation seems to have
been established as a brilliant lecturer rather than as a great
discoverer, or even as a great mathematician; for he was
immeasurably behind Kepler, his contemporary, in the power of
making abstruse calculations and numerical combinations.  In this
respect Kepler was inferior only to Copernicus, Newton, and Laplace
in our times, or Hipparchus and Ptolemy among the ancients; and it
is to him that we owe the discovery of those great laws of
planetary motion from which there is no appeal, and which have
never been rivalled in importance except those made by Newton
himself,--laws which connect the mean distance of the planets from
the sun with the times of their revolutions; laws which show that
the orbits of planets are elliptical, not circular; and that the
areas described by lines drawn from the moving planet to the sun
are proportionable to the times employed in the motion.  What an
infinity of calculation, in the infancy of science--before the
invention of logarithms,--was necessary to arrive at these truths!
What fertility of invention was displayed in all his hypotheses;
what patience in working them out; what magnanimity in discarding
those which were not true!  What power of guessing, even to
hit upon theories which could be established by elaborate
calculations,--all from the primary thought, the grand axiom, which
Kepler was the first to propose, that there must be some numerical
or geometrical relations among the times, distances, and velocities
of the revolving bodies of the solar system!  It would seem that
although his science was deductive, he invoked the aid of induction
also: a great original genius, yet modest like Newton; a man who
avoided hostilities, yet given to the most boundless enthusiasm on
the subjects to which he devoted his life.  How intense his
raptures!  "Nothing holds me," he writes, on discovering his great
laws; "I will indulge in my sacred fury.  I will boast of the
golden vessels I have stolen from the Egyptians.  If you forgive
me, I rejoice.  If you are angry, it is all the same to me.  The
die is cast; the book is written,--to be read either now, or by
posterity, I care not which.  It may well wait a century for a
reader, as God has waited six thousand years for an observer."

We do not see this sublime repose in the attitude of Galileo,--this
falling back on his own conscious greatness, willing to let things
take their natural course; but rather, on the other hand, an
impatience under contradiction, a vehement scorn of adversaries,
and an intellectual arrogance that gave offence, and impeded his
career, and injured his fame.  No matter how great a man may be,
his intellectual pride is always offensive; and when united with
sarcasm and mockery it will make bitter enemies, who will pull him

Galileo, on his transfer to Padua, began to teach the doctrines of
Copernicus,--a much greater genius than he, and yet one who
provoked no enmities, although he made the greatest revolution in
astronomical knowledge that any man ever made, since he was in no
haste to reveal his discoveries, and stated them in a calm and
inoffensive way.  I doubt if new discoverers in science meet with
serious opposition when men themselves are not attacked, and they
are made to appeal to calm intelligence, and war is not made on
those Scripture texts which seem to controvert them.  Even
theologians receive science when science is not made to undermine
theological declarations, and when the divorce of science from
revelation, reason from faith, as two distinct realms, is
vigorously insisted upon.  Pascal incurred no hostilities for his
scientific investigations, nor Newton, nor Laplace.  It is only
when scientific men sneer at the Bible because its declarations
cannot always be harmonized with science that the hostilities of
theologians are provoked.  And it is only when theologians deny
scientific discoveries that seem to conflict with texts of
Scripture, that opposition arises among scientific men.  It would
seem that the doctrines of Copernicus were offensive to churchmen
on this narrow ground.  It was hard to believe that the earth
revolved around the sun, when the opinions of the learned for two
thousand years were unanimous that the sun revolved around the
earth.  Had both theologian and scientist let the Bible alone,
there would not have been a bitter war between them.  But
scientists were accused by theologians of undermining the Bible;
and the theologians were accused of stupid obstinacy, and were
mercilessly exposed to ridicule.

That was the great error of Galileo.  He made fun and sport of the
theologians, as Samson did of the Philistines; and the Philistines
of Galileo's day cut off his locks and put out his eyes when the
Pope put him into their power,--those Dominican inquisitors who
made a crusade against human thought.  If Galileo had shown more
tact and less arrogance, possibly those Dominican doctors might
have joined the chorus of universal praise; for they were learned
men, although devoted to a bad system, and incapable of seeing
truth when their old authorities were ridiculed and set at nought.
Galileo did not deny the Scriptures, but his spirit was mocking;
and he seemed to prejudiced people to undermine the truths which
were felt to be vital for the preservation of faith in the world.
And as some scientific truths seemed to be adverse to Scripture
declarations, the transition was easy to a denial of the
inspiration which was claimed by nearly all Christian sects, both
Catholic and Protestant.

The intolerance of the Church in every age has driven many
scientists into infidelity; for it cannot be doubted that the
tendency of scientific investigation has been to make scientific
men incredulous of divine inspiration, and hence to undermine their
faith in dogmas which good men have ever received, and which are
supported by evidence that is not merely probable but almost
certain.  And all now that seems wanting to harmonize science with
revelation is, on the one hand, the re-examination of the Scripture
texts on which are based the principia from which deductions are
made, and which we call theology; and, on the other hand, the
rejection of indefensible statements which are at war with both
science and consciousness, except in those matters which claim
special supernatural agency, which we can neither prove nor
disprove by reason; for supernaturalism claims to transcend the
realm of reason altogether in what relates to the government of
God,--ways that no searching will ever enable us to find out with
our limited faculties and obscured understanding.  When the two
realms of reason and faith are kept distinct, and neither
encroaches on the other, then the discoveries and claims of science
will meet with but little opposition from theologians, and they
will be left to be sifted by men who alone are capable of the task.

Thus far science, outside of pure mathematics, is made up of
theories which are greatly modified by advancing knowledge, so that
they cannot claim in all respects to be eternally established, like
the laws of Kepler and the discoveries of Copernicus,--the latter
of which were only true in the main fact that the earth revolves
around the sun.  But even he retained epicycles and excentrics, and
could not explain the unequal orbits of planetary motion.  In fact
he retained many of the errors of Hipparchus and Ptolemy.  Much,
too, as we are inclined to ridicule the astronomy of the ancients
because they made the earth the centre, we should remember that
they also resolved the orbits of the heavenly bodies into circular
motions, discovered the precession of the equinoxes, and knew also
the apparent motions of the planets and their periods.  They could
predict eclipses of the sun and moon, and knew that the orbit of
the sun and planets was through a belt in the heavens, of a few
degrees in width, which they called the Zodiac.  They did not know,
indeed, the difference between real and apparent motion, nor the
distance of the sun and stars, nor their relative size and weight,
nor the laws of motion, nor the principles of gravitation, nor the
nature of the Milky Way, nor the existence of nebulae, nor any of
the wonders which the telescope reveals; but in the severity of
their mathematical calculations they were quite equal to modern

If Copernicus revolutionized astronomy by proving the sun to be the
centre of motion to our planetary system, Galileo gave it an
immense impulse by his discoveries with the telescope.  These did
not require such marvellous mathematical powers as made Kepler and
Newton immortal,--the equals of Ptolemy and Hipparchus in
mathematical demonstration--but only accuracy and perseverance in
observations.  Doubtless he was a great mathematician, but his fame
rests on his observations and the deductions he made from them.
These were more easily comprehended, and had an objective value
which made him popular: and for these discoveries he was indebted
in a great measure to the labors of others,--it was mechanical
invention applied to the advancement of science.  The utilization
of science was reserved to our times; and it is this utilization
which makes science such a handmaid to the enrichment of its
votaries, and holds it up to worship in our laboratories and
schools of technology and mines, not merely for itself, but also
for the substantial fruit it yields.

It was when Galileo was writing treatises on the Structure of the
Universe, on Local Motion, on Sound, on Continuous Quantity, on
Light, on Colors, on the Tides, on Dialing,--subjects that also
interested Lord Bacon at the same period,--and when he was giving
lectures on these subjects with immense eclat, frequently to one
thousand persons (scarcely less than what Abelard enjoyed when he
made fun of the more conservative schoolmen with whom he was
brought in contact), that he heard, while on a visit to Venice,
that a Dutch spectacle-maker had invented an instrument which was
said to represent distant objects nearer than they usually
appeared.  This was in 1609, when he, at the age of fifty-five, was
the idol of scientific men, and was in the enjoyment of an ample
revenue, giving only sixty half-hours in the year to lectures, and
allowed time to prosecute his studies in that "sweet solitariness"
which all true scholars prize, and without which few great
attainments are made.  The rumor of the invention excited in his
mind the intensest interest.  He sought for the explanation of the
fact in the doctrine of refraction.  He meditated day and night.
At last he himself constructed an instrument,--a leaden organ pipe
with two spectacle glasses, both plain on one side, while one of
them had its opposite side convex, and the other its second side

This crude little instrument, which magnified but three times, he
carries in triumph back to Venice.  It is regarded as a scientific
toy, yet everybody wishes to see an instrument by which the human
eye indefinitely multiplies its power.  The Doge is delighted, and
the Senate is anxious to secure so great a curiosity.  He makes a
present of it to the Senate, after he has spent a month in showing
it round to the principal people of that wealthy city; and he is
rewarded for his ingenuity with an increase of his salary, at
Padua, to one thousand florins, and is made professor for life.

He now only thinks of making discoveries in the heavens; but his
instrument is too small.  He makes another and larger telescope,
which magnifies eight times, and then another which magnifies
thirty times; and points it to the moon.  And how indescribable his
satisfaction, for he sees what no mortal had ever before seen,--
ranges of mountains, deep hollows, and various inequalities!  These
discoveries, it would seem, are not favorably received by the
Aristotelians; however, he continues his labors, and points his
telescope to the planets and fixed stars,--but the magnitude of the
latter remain the same, while the planets appear with disks like
the moon.  Then he directs his observations to the Pleiades, and
counts forty stars in the cluster, when only six were visible to
the naked eye; in the Milky Way he descries crowds of minute stars.

Having now reached the limit of discovery with his present
instrument, he makes another of still greater power, and points it
to the planet Jupiter.  On the 7th of January, 1610, he observes
three little stars near the body of the planet, all in a straight
line and parallel to the ecliptic, two on the east and one on the
west of Jupiter.  On the next observation he finds that they have
changed places, and are all on the west of Jupiter; and the next
time he observes them they have changed again.  He also discovers
that there are four of these little stars revolving round the
planet.  What is the explanation of this singular phenomenon?  They
cannot be fixed stars, or planets; they must then be moons.
Jupiter is attended with satellites like the earth, but has four
instead of one!  The importance of this last discovery was of
supreme value, for it confirmed the heliocentric theory.  Old
Kepler is filled with agitations of joy; all the friends of Galileo
extol his genius; his fame spreads far and near; he is regarded as
the ablest scientific man in Europe.

His enemies are now dismayed and perplexed.  The principal
professor of philosophy at Padua would not even look through the
wonderful instrument.  Sissi of Florence ridicules the discovery.
"As," said he, "there are only seven apertures of the head,--two
eyes, two ears, two nostrils, and one mouth,--and as there are only
seven days in the week and seven metals, how can there be seven

But science, discarded by the schools, fortunately finds a refuge
among princes.  Cosimo de' Medici prefers the testimony of his
senses to the voice of authority.  He observes the new satellites
with Galileo at Pisa, makes him a present of one thousand florins,
and gives him a mere nominal office,--that of lecturing
occasionally to princes, on a salary of one thousand florins for
life.  He is now the chosen companion of the great, and the
admiration of Italy.  He has rendered an immense service to
astronomy.  "His discovery of the satellites of Jupiter," says
Herschel, "gave the holding turn to the opinion of mankind
respecting the Copernican system, and pointed out a connection
between speculative astronomy and practical utility."

But this did not complete the catalogue of his discoveries.  In
1610 he perceived that Saturn appeared to be triple, and excited
the curiosity of astronomers by the publication of his first
"Enigma," Altissimam planetam tergeminam observavi.  He could not
then perceive the rings; the planet seemed through his telescope to
have the form of three concentric O's.  Soon after, in examining
Venus, he saw her in the form of a crescent: Cynthiae figuras
aemulatur mater amorum, "Venus rivals the phases of the moon."

At last he discovers the spots upon the sun's disk, and that they
all revolve with the sun, and therefore that the sun has a
revolution in about twenty-eight days, and may be moving on in a
larger circle, with all its attendant planets, around some distant

Galileo has now attained the highest object of his ambition.  He is
at the head, confessedly, of all the scientific men of Europe.  He
has an ample revenue; he is independent, and has perfect leisure.
Even the Pope is gracious to him when he makes a visit to Rome;
while cardinals, princes, and ambassadors rival one another in
bestowing upon him attention and honors.

But there is no height of fortune from which a man may not fall;
and it is usually the proud, the ostentatious, and the contemptuous
who do fall, since they create envy, and are apt to make social
mistakes.  Galileo continued to exasperate his enemies by his
arrogance and sarcasms.  "They refused to be dragged at his
chariot-wheels."  "The Aristotelian professors," says Brewster,
"the temporizing Jesuits, the political churchmen, and that timid
but respectable body who at all times dread innovation, whether it
be in legislation or science, entered into an alliance against the
philosophical tyrant who threatened them with the penalties of
knowledge."  The church dignitaries were especially hostile, since
they thought the tendency of Galileo's investigations was to
undermine the Bible.  Flanked by the logic of the schools and the
popular interpretation of Scripture, and backed by the civil power,
they were eager for war.  Galileo wrote a letter to his friend the
Abbe Castelli, the object of which was "to prove that the
Scriptures were not intended to teach science and philosophy," but
to point out the way of salvation.  He was indiscreet enough to
write a longer letter of seventy pages, quoting the Fathers in
support of his views, and attempting to show that Nature and
Scripture could not speak a different language.  It was this
reasoning which irritated the dignitaries of the Church more than
his discoveries, since it is plain that the literal language of
Scripture upholds the doctrine that the sun revolves around the
earth.  He was wrong or foolish in trying to harmonize revelation
and science.  He should have advanced his truths of science and
left them to take care of themselves.  He should not have meddled
with the dogmas of his enemies: not that he was wrong in doing so,
but it was not politic or wise; and he was not called upon to
harmonize Scripture with science.

So his enemies busily employed themselves in collecting evidence
against him.  They laid their complaints before the Inquisition of
Rome, and on the occasion of paying a visit to that city, he was
summoned before that tribunal which has been the shame and the
reproach of the Catholic Church.  It was a tribunal utterly
incompetent to sit upon his case, since it was ignorant of science.
In 1615 it was decreed that Galileo should renounce his obnoxious
doctrines, and pledge himself neither to defend nor publish them in
future.  And Galileo accordingly, in dread of prison, appeared
before Cardinal Bellarmine and declared that he would renounce the
doctrines he had defended.  This cardinal was not an ignorant man.
He was the greatest theologian of the Catholic Church; but his
bitterness and rancor in reference to the new doctrines were as
marked as his scholastic learning.  The Pope, supposing that
Galileo would adhere to his promise, was gracious and kind.

But the philosopher could not resist the temptation of ridiculing
the advocates of the old system.  He called them "paper
philosophers."  In private he made a mockery of his persecutors.
One Saisi undertook to prove from Suidas that the Babylonians used
to cook eggs by whirling them swiftly on a sling; to which he
replied: "If Saisi insists on the authority of Suidas, that the
Babylonians cooked eggs by whirling them on a sling, I will believe
it.  But I must add that we have eggs and slings, and strong men to
whirl them, yet they will not become cooked; nay, if they were hot
at first, they more quickly became cool; and as there is nothing
wanting to us but to be Babylonians, it follows that being
Babylonians is the true cause why the eggs became hard."  Such was
his prevailing mockery and ridicule.  "Your Eminence," writes one
of his friends to the Cardinal D'Este, "would be delighted if you
could hear him hold forth in the midst of fifteen or twenty, all
violently attacking him, sometimes in one house, and sometimes in
another; but he is armed after such a fashion that he laughs them
all to scorn."

Galileo, after his admonition from the Inquisition, and his promise
to hold his tongue, did keep comparatively quiet for a while,
amusing himself with mechanics, and striving to find out a new way
of discovering longitude at sea.  But the want of better telescopes
baffled his efforts; and even to-day it is said "that no telescope
has yet been made which is capable of observing at sea the eclipses
of Jupiter's satellites, by which on shore this method of finding
longitude has many advantages."

On the accession of a new Pope (1623), Urban VIII., who had been
his friend as Cardinal Barberini, Galileo, after eight years of
silence, thought that he might now venture to publish his great
work on the Ptolemaic and Copernican systems, especially as the
papal censor also had been his friend.  But the publication of the
book was delayed nearly two years, so great were the obstacles to
be surmounted, and so prejudiced and hostile was the Church to the
new views.  At last it appeared in Florence in 1632, with a
dedication to the Grand Duke,--not the Cosimo who had rewarded him,
but his son Ferdinand, who was a mere youth.  It was an unfortunate
thing for Galileo to do.  He had pledged his word not to advocate
the Copernican theory, which was already sufficiently established
in the opinions of philosophers.  The form of the book was even
offensive, in the shape of dialogues, where some of the chief
speakers were his enemies.  One of them he ridiculed under the name
of Simplicio.  This was supposed to mean the Pope himself,--so they
made the Pope believe, and he was furious.  Old Cardinal Bellarmine
roared like a lion.  The whole Church, as represented by its
dignitaries, seemed to be against him.  The Pope seized the old
weapons of the Clements and the Gregories to hurl upon the daring
innovator; but delayed to hurl them, since he dealt with a giant,
covered not only by the shield of the Medici, but that of Minerva.
So he convened a congregation of cardinals, and submitted to them
the examination of the detested book.  The author was summoned to
Rome to appear before the Inquisition, and answer at its judgment-
seat the charges against him as a heretic.  The Tuscan ambassador
expostulated with his Holiness against such a cruel thing,
considering Galileo's age, infirmities, and fame,--all to no avail,
he was obliged to obey the summons.  At the age of seventy this
venerated philosopher, infirm, in precarious health, appeared
before the Inquisition of cardinals, not one of whom had any
familiarity with abstruse speculations, or even with mathematics.

Whether out of regard to his age and infirmities, or to his great
fame and illustrious position as the greatest philosopher of his
day, the cardinals treat Galileo with unusual indulgence.  Though a
prisoner of the Inquisition, and completely in its hands, with
power of life and death, it would seem that he is allowed every
personal comfort.  His table is provided by the Tuscan ambassador;
a servant obeys his slightest nod; he sleeps in the luxurious
apartment of the fiscal of that dreaded body; he is even liberated
on the responsibility of a cardinal; he is permitted to lodge in
the palace of the ambassador; he is allowed time to make his
defence: those holy Inquisitors would not unnecessarily harm a hair
of his head.  Nor was it probably their object to inflict bodily
torments: these would call out sympathy and degrade the tribunal.
It was enough to threaten these torments, to which they did not
wish to resort except in case of necessity.  There is no evidence
that Galileo was personally tortured.  He was indeed a martyr, but
not a sufferer except in humiliated pride.  Probably the object of
his enemies was to silence him, to degrade him, to expose his name
to infamy, to arrest the spread of his doctrines, to bow his old
head in shame, to murder his soul, to make him stab himself, and be
his own executioner, by an act which all posterity should regard as
unworthy of his name and cause.

After a fitting time has elapsed,--four months of dignified
session,--the mind of the Holy Tribunal is made up.  Its judgment
is ready.  On the 22d of June, 1633, the prisoner appears in
penitential dress at the convent of Minerva, and the presiding
cardinal, in his scarlet robes, delivers the sentence of the
Court,--that Galileo, as a warning to others, and by way of
salutary penance, be condemned to the formal prison of the Holy
Office, and be ordered to recite once a week the seven Penitential
Psalms for the benefit of his soul,--apparently a light sentence,
only to be nominally imprisoned a few days, and to repeat those
Psalms which were the life of blessed saints in mediaeval times.
But this was nothing.  He was required to recant, to abjure the
doctrines he had taught; not in private, but publicly before the
world.  Will he recant?  Will he subscribe himself an imposter?
Will he abjure the doctrines on which his fame rests?  Oh, tell it
not in Gath!  The timid, infirm, life-loving old patriarch of
science falls.  He is not great enough for martyrdom.  He chooses
shame.  In an evil hour this venerable sage falls down upon his
knees before the assembled cardinals, and reads aloud this
recantation: "I, Galileo Galilei, aged seventy, on my knees before
you most reverend lords, and having my eye on the Holy gospel,
which I do touch with my lips, thus publish and declare, that I
believe, and always have believed, and always will believe every
article which the Holy Catholic Roman Church holds and teaches.
And as I have written a book in which I have maintained that the
sun is the centre, which doctrine is repugnant to the Holy
Scriptures, I, with sincere heart and unfeigned faith, do abjure
and detest, and curse the said error and heresy, and all other
errors contrary to said Holy Church, whose penance I solemnly swear
to observe faithfully, and all other penances which have been or
shall be laid upon me."

It would appear from this confession that he did not declare his
doctrines false, only that they were in opposition to the
Scriptures; and it is also said that as he arose from his knees he
whispered to a friend, "It does move, nevertheless."  As some
excuse for him, he acted with the certainty that he would be
tortured if he did not recant; and at the worst he had only
affirmed that his scientific theory was in opposition to the
Scriptures.  He had not denied his master, like Peter; he had not
recanted the faith like Cranmer; he had simply yielded for fear of
bodily torments, and therefore was not sincere in the abjuration
which he made to save his life.  Nevertheless, his recantation was
a fall, and in the eyes of the scientific world perhaps greater
than that of Bacon.  Galileo was false to philosophy and himself.
Why did he suffer himself to be conquered by priests he despised?
Why did so bold and witty and proud a man betray his cause?  Why
did he not accept the penalty of intellectual freedom, and die, if
die he must?  What was life to him, diseased, infirm, and old?
What had he more to gain?  Was it not a good time to die and
consummate his protests?  Only one hundred and fifty years before,
one of his countrymen had accepted torture and death rather than
recant his religions opinions.  Why could not Galileo have been as
great in martyrdom as Savonarola?  He was a renowned philosopher
and brilliant as a man of genius,--but he was a man of the world;
he loved ease and length of days.  He could ridicule and deride
opponents, he could not suffer pain.  He had a great intellect, but
not a great soul.  There were flaws in his morality; he was
anything but a saint or hero.  He was great in mind, and yet he was
far from being great in character.  We pity him, while we exalt
him.  Nor is the world harsh to him; it forgives him for his
services.  The worst that can be said, is that he was not willing
to suffer and die for his opinions: and how many philosophers are
there who are willing to be martyrs?

Nevertheless, in the eyes of philosophers he has disgraced himself.
Let him then return to Florence, to his own Arceti.  He is a
silenced man.  But he is silenced, not because he believed with
Copernicus, but because he ridiculed his enemies and confronted the
Church, and in the eyes of blinded partisans had attacked divine
authority.  Why did Copernicus escape persecution?  The Church must
have known that there was something in his discoveries, and in
those of Galileo, worthy of attention.  About this time Pascal
wrote: "It is vain that you have procured the condemnation of
Galileo.  That will never prove the earth to be at rest.  If
unerring observation proves that it turns round, not all mankind
together can keep it from turning, or themselves from turning with

But let that persecution pass.  It is no worse than other
persecutions, either in Catholic or Protestant ranks.  It was no
worse than burning witches.  Not only is intolerance in human
nature, but there is a repugnance among the learned to receive new
opinions when these interfere with their ascendancy.  The
opposition to Galileo's discoveries was no greater than that of the
Protestant Church, half a century ago, to some of the inductions of
geology.  How bitter the hatred, even in our times, to such men as
Huxley and Darwin!  True, they have not proved their theories as
Galileo did; but they gave as great a shock as he to the minds of
theologians.  All science is progressive, yet there are thousands
who oppose its progress.  And if learning and science should
establish a different meaning to certain texts from which
theological deductions are drawn, and these premises be undermined,
there would be the same bitterness among the defenders of the
present system of dogmatic theology.  Yet theology will live, and
never lose its dignity and importance; only, some of its present
assumptions may be discarded.  God will never be dethroned from the
world he governs; but some of his ways may appear to be different
from what was once supposed.  And all science is not only
progressive, but it appears to be bold and scornful and proud,--at
least its advocates are and ever have been contemptuous of all
other departments of knowledge but its own.  So narrow and limited
is the human mind in the midst of its triumphs.  So full of
prejudices are even the learned and the great.

Let us turn then to give another glance at the fallen philosopher
in his final retreat at Arceti.  He lives under restrictions.  But
they allow him leisure and choice wines, of which he is fond, and
gardens and friends; and many come to do him reverence.  He amuses
his old age with the studies of his youth and manhood, and writes
dialogues on Motion, and even discovers the phenomena of the moon's
libration; and by means of the pendulum he gives additional
importance to astronomical science.  But he is not allowed to leave
his retirement, not even to visit his friends in Florence.  The
wrath of the Inquisition still pursues him, even in his villa at
Arceti in the suburbs of Florence.  Then renewed afflictions come.
He loses his daughter, who was devoted to him; and her death nearly
plunges him into despair.  The bulwarks of his heart break down; a
flood of grief overwhelms his stricken soul.  His appetite leaves
him; his health forsakes him; his infirmities increase upon him.
His right eye loses its power,--that eye that had seen more of the
heavens than the eyes of all who had gone before him.  He becomes
blind and deaf, and cannot sleep, afflicted with rheumatic pains
and maladies forlorn.  No more for him is rest, or peace, or bliss;
still less the glories of his brighter days,--the sight of
glittering fields, the gems of heaven, without which

    "Neither breath of Morn, when she ascends
     With charm of earliest birds, nor rising sun
     On this delightful land, nor herb, fruit, flower
     Glistering with dew, nor fragrance after showers,
     Nor grateful evening mild, . . . is sweet."

No more shall he gaze on features that he loves, or stars, or
trees, or hills.  No more to him

     Day, or the sweet approach of even or morn,
     Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer's rose,
     Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine;
     But clouds, instead, and ever-during dark
     Surround" [him].

It was in those dreary desolate days at Arceti,

     In manly beauty Milton stood before him,
     Gazing in reverent awe,--Milton, his guest,
     Just then come forth, all life and enterprise;
     While he in his old age, . . .
              . . . exploring with his staff,
     His eyes upturned as to the golden sun,
     His eyeballs idly rolling."

This may have been the punishment of his recantation,--not
Inquisitorial torture, but the consciousness that he had lost his
honor.  Poor Galileo! thine illustrious visitor, when his
affliction came, could cast his sightless eyeballs inward, and see
and tell "things attempted yet in prose or rhyme,"--not

    "Rocks, caves, lakes, bogs, fens, and shades of death,
        .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .
    "Where all life dies, death lives, and Nature breeds
        .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .
    "Gorgons, and Hydras, and Chimeras dire,"

but of "eternal Providence," and "Eden with surpassing glory
crowned," and "our first parents," and of "salvation," "goodness
infinite," of "wisdom," which when known we need no higher though
all the stars we know by name,--

    "All secrets of the deep, all Nature's works,
     Or works of God in heaven, or air, or sea."

And yet, thou stricken observer of the heavenly bodies! hadst thou
but known what marvels would be revealed by the power of thy
wondrous instrument after thou should'st be laid lifeless and cold
beneath the marble floor of Sante Croce, at the age of seventy-
eight, without a monument (although blessed on his death-bed by
Pope Urban), having died a prisoner of the Inquisition, yet not
without having rendered to astronomical science services of utmost
value,--even thou might have died rejoicing, as one of the great
benefactors of the world.  And thy discoveries shall be forever
held in gratitude; they shall herald others of even greater
importance.  Newton shall prove that the different planets are
attracted to the sun in the inverse ratio of the squares of their
distances; that the earth has a force on the moon identical with
the force of gravity, and that all celestial bodies, to the utmost
boundaries of space, mutually attract each other; that all
particles of matter are governed by the same law,--the great law of
gravitation, by which "astronomy," in the language of Whewell,
"passed from boyhood to manhood, and by which law the great
discoverer added more to the realm of science than any man before
or since his day."  And after Newton shall pass away, honored and
lamented, and be buried with almost royal pomp in the vaults of
Westminster, Halley and other mathematicians shall construct lunar
tables, by which longitude shall be accurately measured on the
pathless ocean.  Lagrange and Laplace shall apply the Newtonian
theory to determine the secular inequalities of celestial motion;
they shall weigh absolutely the amount of matter in the planets;
they shall show how far their orbits deviate from circles; and they
shall enumerate the cycles of changes detected in the circuit of
the moon.  Clairaut shall remove the perplexity occasioned by the
seeming discrepancy between the observed and computed motions of
the moon's perigee.  Halley shall demonstrate the importance of
observations of the transit of Venus as the only certain way of
obtaining the sun's parallax, and hence the distance of the sun
from the earth; he shall predict the return of that mysterious body
which we call a comet.  Herschel shall construct a telescope which
magnifies two thousand times, and add another planet to our system
beyond the mighty orb of Saturn.  Romer shall estimate the velocity
of light from the eclipses of Jupiter's satellites.  Bessell shall
pass the impassable gulf of space and measure the distance of some
of the fixed stars, although such is the immeasurable space between
the earth and those distant suns that the parallax of only about
thirty has yet been discovered with our finest instruments,--so
boundless is the material universe, so vast are the distances, that
light, travelling one hundred and sixty thousand miles with every
pulsation of the blood, will not reach us from some of those remote
worlds in one hundred thousand years.  So marvellous shall be the
victories of science, that the perturbations of the planets in
their courses shall reveal the existence of a new one more distant
than Uranus, and Leverrier shall tell at what part of the heavens
that star shall first be seen.

So far as we have discovered, the universe which we have observed
with telescopic instruments has no limits that mortals can define,
and in comparison with its magnitude our earth is less than a grain
of sand, and is so old that no genius can calculate and no
imagination can conceive when it had a beginning.  All that we know
is, that suns exist at distances we cannot define.  But around what
centre do they revolve?  Of what are they composed?  Are they
inhabited by intelligent and immortal beings?  Do we know that they
are not eternal, except from the divine declaration that there WAS
a time when the Almighty fiat went forth for this grand creation?
Creation involves a creator; and can the order and harmony seen in
Nature's laws exist without Supreme intelligence and power?  Who,
then, and what, is God?  "Canst thou by searching find out Him?
Knowest thou the ordinances of Heaven?  Canst thou bind the sweet
influences of the Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?"  What an
atom is this world in the light of science!  Yet what dignity has
man by the light of revelation!  What majesty and power and glory
has God!  What goodness, benevolence, and love, that even a sparrow
cannot fall to the ground without His notice,--that we are the
special objects of His providence and care!  Is there an
imagination so lofty that will not be oppressed with the
discoveries that even the telescope has made?

Ah, to what exalted heights reason may soar when allied with faith!
How truly it should elevate us above the evils of this brief and
busy existence to the conditions of that other life,--

                             "When the soul,
     Advancing ever to the Source of light
     And all perfection, lives, adores, and reigns
     In cloudless knowledge, purity, and bliss!"


Delambre, Histoire de l'Astronomie; Arago, Histoire de
l'Astronomie; Life of Galileo, in Cabinet Library; Life of Galileo,
by Brewster; Lives of Galileo, by Italian and Spanish Literary Men;
Whewell's History of Inductive Sciences; Plurality of Worlds;
Humboldt's Cosmos; Nichols' Architecture of the Heavens; Chalmers'
Astronomical Discourses; Life of Kepler, Library of Useful
Knowledge; Brewster's Life of Tycho Brahe, of Kepler, and of Sir
Isaac Newton; Mitchell's Stellar and Planetary Worlds; Bradley's
Correspondence; Airy's Reports; Voiron's History of Astronomy;
Philosophical Transactions; Everett's Oration on Galileo; Life of
Copernicus; Bayly's Astronomy; Encyclopaedia Britannica, Art.
Astronomy; Proctor's Lectures.

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