« IndietroContinua »
teenth century to be studying up apologies for the institution and horrible cruelties of this fearful court. For example, what are we to think of the following: "It is doubtful if in our own day sectaries as dangerous and malignant as the AlbigenBes and Cathari would be treated more leniently; and if so, yrhy should we marvel at their treatment in the Middle Ages, so eminently religious in character?" etc.—Vol. ii, p. 9S2. Is Rome, through one of her chief councilors, here affirming anew the doctrine of semper eadem respecting intolerance, and tho physical punishments by which, when power returns, she is ready to subdue dissent and heresy % But, as though Alzog were a little ashamed of his efforts to excuse the Inquisition, he utters a feeble condemnation of its abuse in Spain, and then turns round to apologize for his apology by trying to prove greater cruelties on the part of the Protestants! Tho usual puerile fallacy of supposing any lesser villainy to be a virtue, or that because arson is not homicide, it is, therefore, not a crime! While we reluctantly believe with the able historian of Rationalism, (Lecky, "History of Rationalism," vol. ii, pp. 40, 46,) that "the Church of Rome has inflicted a greater amount of unmerited suffering than any other religion which has ever existed among mankind;" and also that "nothing can be more grossly disingenuous or untrue than to represent persecution as her peculiar trait;" and wc may be compelled to concludo with another able historical writer, that the strange contradictions presented in the history of religious communities can be accounted for only on the supposition that the human mind must be naturally intolerant of opposition, (Smyth, " Lectures on Moder n History," lect. xii,) we can feel nothing but antagonism toward a Church historian of our own day who more than intimates that erroneous opinions, so judged, may be exterminated by the infliction of torture. It is in view of these positions of a grave historian, whose work bears the imprimatur of the Pope, and the indorsement of the most learned archbishops of this country, that we are unwillingly compelled to ponder the late utterances of a leading English historian in an influential American journal:
Give them (the Catholics) the power, and the Constitution will be gone. A Catholic majority, under spiritual direction, will forbid liberty of worship, and will try to forbid liberty of conscience. It will control education; it will put the press under surveillance; it will punish opposition with excommunication, and excommunication will be attended with civil disabilities. That it will try to do all this, as long as it accepts the ultramontane theory which at present passes current, is as certain as mathematics. It tried before in the Dark Ages; it will try again in the age of enlightenment.—J. A. Fboude, in the "North American," November, lb79.
That these opinions are correct cannot be for a moment doubted by those who accept the maxim of semper eadem, and that this is still adhered to, the recent utterances ex cathedra from Rome give little room to donbt, notwithstanding the assertions of Romanists that Protestants are not in a position to understand Catholic doctrines.
The limits of this article will not permit an examination of Alzog's treatment of the great protest of the sixteenth century; we must dismiss this most prolific subject with but a single remark. While somewhat more moderate than many historians of his Church in the discussion of some of the dividing: questions, he is most decidedly and thoroughly Catholic in his attitude toward the Reformation as a religious movement. He sees in Luther a very gifted and pious monk so long as he kept the peace, but an arch-apostate when he begins to question the purity and authority of the Church. Luther's expressions of pacific intentions, etc., "are the first act in a long drama of hypocritical professions;" in his letter to the Pope of March 2, 1519, "he was playing the contemptible hypocrite," etc.; he "had recourse to his usual dexterity and cunning ;" he "had given much offense by his bibulous habits and his unseemly familiarity with females;" "he continued to exert, through his letters and other writings, the baleful influence which his presence had inspired;" in his connection with Henry VIII. "he showed himself the most vile of hypocrites;" "Luther was both a glutton and a drunkard." He closes by quoting approvingly the estimate of the Jesuit Pallavicini. But we tire of these pretensions to history. Why is it that Alzog, and even the abler and more profound Dollinger, lose sight of the fundamental meaning of history—"inquiry," " research"—while they are treating so grave and solemn an event as the Reformation? Why do they consent to betake themselves to vituperation, or to a skillful and ingenious array of the weaknesses of great actors, and not to bring their best powers to the discovery of the causes of an event so tremendous in its consequences to Rome herself? Who does not know that to attribute so wonderful a revolution.in doctrine and life to any merely hypocritical perversity involves a psychical absurdity which is not tolerable in the veriest historical tyro? Of all the cheap ways of writing history this is the very cheapest. While Dollinger has been much more just than Alzog in the estimate of Luther's character and work, both are alike inclined to give to the Reformation little credit for high and saving results.
It has passed into an adage that no man is wholly good or wholly bad. This truth must be ever-present with the historian and the biographer as they attempt their high and holy work. Every man, too, must be himself, and can be nobody else. To measure one man by his fellow is an almost impossible task. Plutarch may charm by his ingenious parallels, but there is ever lurking in this style of biography a demon of injustice which the fair-minded and honorable will seek to exorcise. We may, indeed, demand of the great leader and reformer deep and settled convictions, the use of honorable means, and a fair promise of success; these conditions being fulfilled, we are to judge their work by carefully and conscientiously determining the grand resultant of their labors, as this resultant has been revealed in the onflowing decades or centuries. To sketch a character from its defects is, therefore, grossly unjust, not to say detestably wicked. The purest and the best of earth would go down under such an onslaught. Herein we discover a serious defect of Alzog. He seems to be almost totally oblivious of the fact that enthusiastic minds and many great reformers have been subject to great fluctuations of feeling, and the victims of almost overwhelming spiritual depression. The agonizing prayer of Israel's great lawgiver, "Blot me, I pray thee, out of the book which thou hast written;" and Ids fatal haste in twice smiting the rock; the despairing cry of Elijah, "It is enough; now, O Jehovah, take away my life, for I am not better than my fathers;" Paul's pathetic words, "For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen, according to the flesh "—these are familiar examples of the weakness and of the soul-agony which even inspired men have at times experienced. And the history of the Church furnishes numerous similar instances of a well-nigh despairing wail extorted from grandly heroic s0uls in the days of their keen disappointment and reverse. Yet how wickedly unjust to judge the great Hebrew leader from any such momentary spiritual obscuration, or to make this the key to unlock the deep problems of his life of moral sublimity! Not more defensible is the course of Alzog relative to Luther, or that of Dollinger when he discusses the nature and effects of the Reformation. The Reformation involved many hard and before unsolved problems. The struggles were often fierce and passionate. The motives were often necked with selfishness and obstinacy. The determining element in many a conflict was unchristlike. The agents and chief actors in this great politico-religious drama were very fallible men; they had many and serious defects of character, and were subject to all the infirmities of their race and age. The results have been such as must ever come from the acceptance of a condition of human freedom relative to the profound problems of doctrine, life, and destiny. But when the grand resultant of this great protest against Rome is determined, Protestants feel an honest pride, and give devout thanks to the great Head of the Church that such Coryphaei for right as Luther, Calvin, Melanchthon, Zwingle, and their coadjutors, should bring in a better and brighter day for humanity.
The limits of this article having been reached, we shall leave to others to point out more specifically the excellencies and errors of this Church history when it treats of the post-Reformation period. We have only time to say that much of this history is exceptionally excellent, many passages are truly eloquent, and the range of authorities quoted is generally wide and ample. Wc regret that many parts are weakened by erroneous statement, and sometimes marred by the indulgence of a spirit of bigotry and religious partisanship which is entirely unbecoming the dignity of a theme so noble as that of the history of the Church of Christ. These errors and this partisan zeal are especially manifest in Alzog's account of the Huguenots in France, of the French Revolution, and in what seems to be the translator's account of the Jesuit missionary labors in North America, and of the pontificate of Pius IX.
We rejoice that Bo good a Church history has been made accessible to the many students of Catholic schools and colleges of America; for it is an almost infinite gain over all their former manuals. We regret, however, that this history is marred by so many errors, and is at times so unjustly partisan; for the profound pity is, the unlearned will readily accept these most crude and unworthy statements as genuine history, and to the more bigoted of every communion denunciation is more effective than scholarly examination.
Art. VI.—HARPERS' LATIN DICTIONARY.
Harper*' Latin Dictionary. A New Latin Dictionary, founded on the Translation of Freund's Latin-German Lexicon. Edited by E. A. Andrews, LL.D. Revised, enlarged, and in great part rewritten, by Charlton T. Lewis, Ph.D., and Charles Short, LL.D., Professor of Latin in Columbia College, New York. New York: Harper & Brothers. Oxford: At the Clarendon Press. 1879.
The Roman youth who was put to the study of his native language had to depend on the oral instructions of his teachers, both for a knowledge of the grammatical principles which governed its structure, and for the vocabulary of its words, and their meanings and proper use; or, if sufficiently advanced, he might also consult the writings of standard Latin authors, provided he were so fortunate as to possess a copy of their works in manuscript; for "the art preservative of all arts" was not then at hand to lend him its kindly assistance by supplying copies of the best literary productions of his country, or to facilitate his labor by the timely offering of a printed grammar and dictionary of his mother tongue. If the great Roman orator and philosopher whose writings form the accepted models and tests of purest Latinity could have had laid before him so full a vocabulary of the words of his own language, illustrated by so varied, numerous, and pertinent examples, and enriched by the results of such far-reaching and scholarly investigations into its origin, ite history, its etymological and grammatical relations to other members of the family of cognate tongues, as are to be found in the publication standing at the head of this article, we may well imagine his astonishment and delight. In the fervor of a quickened pride and faith in the capabilities of that form of Fourth Series, Vol. XXXII.—35