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becomes necessary to follow back the current of history with slow and cautious steps, and unite the distant occurrences and apparently trilling manifestations of the character of different periods, which alone can lead us to the real source. A vast field is thus opened not only for research, but for disputation ; systems are formed ; schools are established ; and the mind which was in the onset animated by the desire of establishing the truth, is, in the end, too often heated by the passion of acrimonious controversy.
But it was not by ordinary causes alone, that some portions of the history of the Reformation were rendered obscure. Various concurring events exerted a strong influence, not only upon the Reformation itself, but upon the materials which contained its history. Ecclesiastical bistory is less a narrative of actions than a record of opinions. Its revolutions are changes in doctrine and creed, accompanied by a greater or less approach to purity of manners, in exact proportion to the influence of the true spirit of Christianity. But it comprises few of those great occurrences, which excite attention by their direct action upon the physical or political condition of the human race; and its progress can only be traced by the writings of those who took part in the corruption or reform of each epoch. During the course of the Reformation, the attacks of the Catholic Church were directed no less against the writings than the persons of the reformers ; and the flames, which could not always be extended to the unbappy object of persecution, were fed with the volumes from which bis heresy had emanated, or to which his forbidden researches had given rise. Thus while the progress of Reformation was effectually checked, the records of its existence were destroyed; and the scanty materials for history which escaped this war of extermination, were scattered, like their authors, throughout distant parts of Europe, and often lost by a neglect no less fatal than persecution itself. * The history of the progress of the Reformation, in those countries where the Catholic Church still retains its supremacy, can only be formed by a long and minute study of scattered documents, differing widely both in character and in form, and often less calculated to lead to clear and satisfactory conclusions, than to bewilder by the obscurities and perplexities with which they abound. Directing our attention more particularly to Italy, we find that the same causes which led to the suppression of the Reformation, and of the works by which it was recorded, continued to act, although in various degrees, upon the native historians, and either mislead their judgment or check their pens whenever they approach this delicate part of their subject. Allusions, sketches, and insulated facts are scattered through their works; the progress of the reform is acknowledged with more or less hesitation ; but the independent rank which it deserved in the annals of Italy, has never been fully accorded it by the Catholic, nor till lately claimed by Protestant historians. The conduct of the former is easily accounted for ; but it is impossible to refrain from astonishment at the neglect of the latter. They were bound by every species of motive to claim for their Protestant brethren of Italy, the respect and the commiseration of the rest of the world. They were bound by the principles of interest, which forbade them to let pass so strong a proof of their favorite assertion, that their cause was universal and universally felt. They were bound by the principle of morality which bids us judge, as far as we can, by motives and efforts, not by actions and appearances alone. They were bound by the principle of true philosophy, which teaches us that almost as much is to be learnt by studying the causes that have prevented, as those that have secured success.
* To these causes must be added the jealousy, with which many precious documents are still withheld from the public eye by their suspicious guardians; and we have before us at this moment additional proofs of the ridiculous timidity, which endeavours to conceal from view what can at the utmost be considered as but an additional confirmation of facts irrefragably established.
But, notwithstanding the motives, which might have been supposed sufficiently powerful to attract toward this important subject a share, at least, of that attention, which has been assiduously devoted to inquiries of far less general interest ; it was not until towards the middle of the last century, that it began to be studied upon a scale somewhat better suited to its real importance. The first circumstance (at least as nearly as we have been able to ascertain) which excited the general attention of the students of ecclesiastical history to the progress made by the Lutheran Reformation in Italy, was the publication of the documents relative to ecclesiastical and literary history collected by the learned Schelhorn, near the middle of the last century. The controversy which followed this publication not only served to awaken the curiosity of the historical inquirer, with regard to this subject, but wrested from the defenders of the Catholic cause much curious and precious information relative to the contested points. The Specimen Italiæ Reformatæ of Gerdes contained a still more extensive collection of facts, and was the first effectual step towards a complete history. Many facts and circumstances, which had, till then, been passed over in silence by those who undertook to treat the general history of Italy, were from that time necessarily made the subjects of at least passing remark; and the dif
: ficulties, which had encumbered this field, were thus gradually lessened or removed. At last after the interval of half a century from the appearance of the work of Gerdes, Macrie, whose name stands at the head of our paper, gave to the world in one body, a full and laborious history of the rise, the progress, and the fall of the “Protestant Reformation in Italy."
Without entering into a detailed examination of this work, it will be sufficient to observe, that while we respect the zeal with which Macrie engaged in this difficult undertaking, and the patient courage and unwearied industry with which he has examined the innumerable and scattered documents which form his materials, we feel deeply his deficiencies in that enlarged and candid philosophy, without which no one can fulfil the part of a liberal and eloquent historian. a
In many places the tone of his work would be more becoming to a martyrology than to a dignified history; and, as often happens, his skepticism with regard to the testimony of Catholic writers, is more than counterbalanced by the credulity with which he receives the statements of their adversaries. Some facts of a remarkable character seem to have wholly escaped his attention, and the sympathy which we would gladly grant to others, is checked by the tone in which he demands it. We are willing to acknowledge that truth, abstractly considered, admits not of division; but it is a sad though common mistake to suppose, that all the members, or even the majority of one party, are guilty of hypocrisy and deceit, because the other is in the right. These defects, however, for the most part do not extend beyond the general tone of the work; and though they detract greatly from its interest, and require a great degree of caution in the reader, it must still be considered a learned and instructive history of the great events which it records.
We confess that we feel no ordinary interest in this history. We have studied it not as an insulated fact, but as a continuation of the spirit of that period, when Italy, though torn with
discord, was free from the stranger, and was cherishing, in the turbulent existence of her republics, those seeds of freedom and political wisdom, which she, and she alone, first planted in Europe. It has been for us a connecting link with the boldness and daring of her first glorious dawn of literature; and as we look around upon the apparently torpid inhabitants of her lovely fields, we see the same spirit strengthened by long patience, chastened by long suffering, nerved and formed for action by the long and bitter experience of four centuries of foreign subjection, ready to arise with the irresistible energy of union and patriotic devotion, and realize the provident design with which nature
“dell' Alpi schermo
Pose fra lor e la tedesca rabbia." We trust that we have not been misled by our own interest in this subject, in supposing that a brief sketch of this remarkable portion of Italian history would prove acceptable to our readers.
The origin of the Reformation in Italy extends far beyond the proper limits of modern history. * The valleys of Piedmont were occupied from time immemorial by the Waldenses, whose simple worship and purity of manners were a constant reproach to the pride and pretensions of the church. It was from hence, if the supposition of some modern writers be correct, that the first advocates of reform derived their doctrines; and while other nations were struck with wonder and conviction at the superior purity of these, they had long been familiar to the simple inhabitants of the Piedmontese valleys.t But however this question may be decided, it cannot be denied that the pretensions of the Church of Rome nowhere encountered a more bitter opposition than within the limits of Italy, and that also at a period when the other nations of Christendom were bowed in implicit submission to its power. The independence of the bishopric of Milan was long maintained in open violation of the doctrines of Rome, and the decrees of Hildebrand were found inefficient until supported by the arms of Estimbold. But although no physical opposition could be formed, of sufficient power to resist the forces which the Popes of that age could bring to their assistance, yet no efforts could effectually check the growth of that spirit which prepared the way for the reception of the Reformation, and, under more favorable circumstances, might have accomplished it. When the different churches of Italy had been united by art or by force under the more immediate dominion of the Roman see, the vices and arrogance of the latter were assailed by weapons of another description, and the wounds which it received, though less apparent in the commencement of the struggle, continued to wear upon the debilitated system until the fatal blow was given by the arms of Luther. These adversaries were the Troubadours and the early poets of Italy ; a class whose enmity is the more to be dreaded, as its attacks are unrestrained by the usual checks of time and of place. The volume of controversy may be forgotten although supported by the soundest reasoning, but the song of the satirist continues to circle in constantly extending bounds, until the spirit that animates it has become familiar 10 every mind.
* Botta, Storia d' Italia. Vol. I. p. 368, et seq.
t“ Serbayano e tuttavolta serbano i Valdesi insin dai primi secoli della chie sa opinioni conformi a quelle che ora turbavano il mondo. Giovanni Huss e Viclefeo già le avevano abbracciate ; Lutero stesso non fece altro che ripetere quello che i Valdesi già da molti secoli indietro pubblicavano.”
The first place in point of time belongs to the Troubadours, and the manner in which their poems were composed and made public must have contributed greatly to the extension and effect of their satires. With the song of love and hymn of triumph, were mingled reproaches against the luxury and power of Rome, and the same lyre that responded to the description of female loveliness, kept time to the details of priestly corruption. However elevated the notes of triumph, however soft and winning the strain of love, the verse of the Troubadour seems to flow with greater warmth and redoubled energy, when the vices of the church become his theme. “ If God,” says Raimond de Castlenau, whose verses we must beg leave to give in nearly literal prose,
" if God saves those whose sole merits consist in loving good living and handsome women, if Friars, the black, the white, and Templars and Hospitlars win the joys of Paradise, great fools, in sooth, were St. Peter and St. Andrew, who suffered so much for what these win so easily."*
No less bitter was the language of the great father of Italian poetry. Without adopting the theory of Rossetti, the opinion
* Raynouard, Choix des Poésies orig. des Troubadours, Tom. IV. p.383.