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language and make it the receptacle of a permanent national literature. In this patriotic undertaking he himself nobly led the way, and by his example as well as by his precepts, taught the young scholars of Italy to make their studies of Virgil and Horace, of Cicero and Livy, tributary to the improvement of their own tongue and a means of rekindling the genius of their own countrymen. He breathed forth in the deep current of his verse the tenderest laments over the fallen condition of his country, and by recalling the proud history of the past, the long glories of Rome's elder days, he sought to arouse the Italian mind to new hopes and new determinations. He thus became the founder of a school of poetry and eriticism which not only numbered among its disciples the leading minds of the age, but, long after he had gone down to the tomb, continued to shape by its influence the literary taste and character of the Italian people. [ SLOTS
The practice of crowning with laurel the favorite bards of a people seems to have been common throughout antiquity. It existed among the states of Greece, and was continued in the palmiest days of the republic and the empire of Rome ; but it had now been obsolete in Western Europe for many centuries. Beneath the influences of reviving learning, however, it was occasionally renewed at the universities of France and Germany, and the laurel was bestowed upon youthful scholars, eminent for their genius or their attainments in litera
But as yet it had not extended beyond the walls of universities or the societies of the learned, and it was reserved for Petrarch to be the first who should win this high distinction by the renown of his literary works. It was in the autumn of 1340, in the thirty-seventh year of his age, that the Senate of Rome offered to bestow on him the laureate crown in their own Capitol, as a token of their admiration of his genius and their gratitude for his services to their country. Many of his finest odes and sonnets had been given to the world and were now widely read and sung in the homes of the people, thus linking the name of Petrarch with the warmest enthusiasm of the peasantry and with the hopes and joys of the young of every class. But it was the rumor which had gone abroad that, in his retirement at Vaucluse, he was engaged in writing an epic poem in the Latin tongue, that made him the admiration and pride of the learned and the powerful both of his own and of other countries. On the same day on which the offer of the Senate reached him in the solitude of his studies, he also received from the University of Paris an invitation to be crowned as Poet Laureate in that city. He hesitated for a while between the two proposals, of which the one would extend his fame in a foreign land, and the other would bind him more closely to the sympathies and fortunes of his own country. Prompted by patriotic feelings he decided to accept the honori from the hands of the Roman Senate, and in April of the following year he repaired to the Capitol in order to participate in the magnificent pageant and to receive from the venerable Fathers of the State the proudest distinction which literary genics could win. It was the most glorious spectacle of the age, and one which might well be hailed by the desponding patriot or the thoughtful friend of human progress as the harbinger of a better era that would yet dawn upon a land hitherto desolated by war and overgrown with barbarism. * The dark clouds which hung so thickly over the moral and political horizon, seemed for an instant to break away, and the shout of the thousands who crowded around the Capitol and filled the avenues of the Forum might have seemed the voice of reviving Rome-reviving, not to roll the dripping wheels of the triumphal car along the steep of the Capitol ; not to suspend a new shield or lance at the shrine of Capitolinus; but to place upon the bloodless brow of genius the reward of victories gained in the pure field of intellectual exertion, over the ignorance and wildness of a barbarous
Such were the labors and the rewards of a man of genius and letters in Italy, in the age which witnessed the earliest revival of ancient learning. We linger over them with peculiar interest as exemplifications of the dawning period of modern civilization, when not in Italy alone, but in every country of Western Europe, were slowly developing the intellectual activities, the social institutions, and the civil rights, from which has sprung all that we most value both in the literature and the social order of our own times. Contemporary with Petrarch were other names of high literary celebrity, but there is not one among them which stands out so boldly as the representative of the scholarship and the genius of the age. The same period also witnessed the singular insurrection and the short-lived triumph of the popular favorite Cola di Rienzi, for whose character Petrarch conceived the highest admiration, and whose marvellous career was a natural result of the new ideas which were then just starting to life in the minds of the people. But upon these incidental characters we are unable now to linger, for we must turn to other topics furnished in the volume before us.
Intimately connected with the revival of learning in Italy,
of which Petrarch was so zealous a promoter, was the origin and progress of the Reformation in that country. Mr. Greene treats of this in a subsequent paper, though the object which he has in view leads him to present only a general outline of the manner in which it was begun and of the causes which prevented its success. Italy and Spain are justly regarded throughout the Protestant world as the strongest fortresses of the Papacy, and indeed are usually spoken of as countries in which none have ever dared to breathe the doctrines of the Reformation. This opinion is far more correct when applied to Spain than when applied to Italy, for in this latter country, the corruptions in the doctrine and practice of the Church were loudly complained of and denounced even before the voice of the great Reformer had been raised in Germany. The literary spirit which had been awakened in Italy during the fourteenth century had proved unfriendly to that implicit faith in the dogmas of the Church which the Papacy always demands, and by the beginning of the sixteenth century it had created in the minds of many leading scholars and ecclesiastics a settled unbelief with respect to the foundations of Christianity itself. This is said to have forced itself on the attention of Luther when in youth he visited that country, and to have excited his amazement more than any other fact which he observed in the condition of the people. He found that in every circle there were those who spoke in derision alike of the authority of the Papal See, the institutions of the Church, and of the doctrines and evidences of religion. But though this scoffing infidelity was widely spread among the literary and scientific men of Italy, there were those in every leading city over whom it had no power, but who, while they saw and condemned the abominations of Popery, still clung with unyielding faith to the truth of divine revelation and to many of the institutions of the Catholic Church. These men maintained in the discussions of their literary societies, and not a few of them promulgated in their writings, doctrines analogous to those of Protestantism; and when the voice of the Reformation was heard from beyond the Alps, the sentiments it proclaimed found an echo in many a conclave of scholars in every city of Italy and even around the very walls of the Vatican.
It was on the borders of Italy too that the Waldenses had for unknown ages maintained their simple worship, and amid their mountain homes had kept uncorrupted the faith they had received from the earliest fathers of the Christian church. Content with their own primitive independence, and careless
of the ecclesiastical struggles which had divided the world, they had hitherto dwelt unbarmed while the tumults of war and the relentless vengeance of persecution were saging around them. But the influence of their quiet example and of their spiritual doctrines had not been wholly unfelt, and wherever it was extended it was sure to weaken the hold of the Papacy upon the consciences of men.
The agency of causes like these, in conjunction with the political events of the time, had prepared the way for the Reformation in Italy; and when its doctrines began to be promulgated, they found a ready reception in nearly every portion of the country. In Ferrara they were embraced by the princess who sat upon the ducal throne, and the persecuted Protestants who took refuge within her jurisdiction found in her a powerful protector and a liberal patron. In Modena they were cherished by a large body of scholars who became their teachers among the people, and in Bologna they ranked among their disciples many of the brightest names of the University as well as some of the most distinguished citizens. In Naples they were boldly preached by Bernardino Ochino, a devout and enthusiastic monk, first of the Franciscan and afterwards of the Capuchin order, whose whole nature was kindled by his enlivening faith in the doctrine of justification by grace. He travelled over Italy everywhere proclaiming the new opinions. “ The cities,” says Ranké, "poured out their multitudes to hear him preach; the churches were too small to contain them; the learned and the common people, both sexes, old and young, all were gratified. His coarse garb, his beard that swept his breast, his gray hairs, his pallid, meagre countenance, and the feebleness he had contracted from his obstinate fasts, gave him the aspect of a saint.” In Venice and in Lucca the Lutheran doctrines spread even more widely among the people ; they were eagerly embraced by leading scholars and ecclesiastics, who republished the works of the Reformers of Germany and Switzerland, and openly applauded the principles of spiritual independence which they contained. Both these States were well nigh won over to Protestantism, and were on the eve of declaring against the Papal See, when a complication of political events made the support of the Pontiff necessary to their security, and decided their governments to continue an allegiance which, however it might be hated, could not now be safely dispensed with.
So widely had the Reformation spread its influence among the States of Italy. In some of them it seemed already triumphant. In others its principles had taken strong hold of
the minds of the people, had altered the tone of the ecclesiastics, and even penetrated the seclusion of the monasteries, and infused a new spirit into the vigils and devotions of the cloistered monks.
To the growth of these new doctrines among his own subjects a Pontiff like Leo X. was not likely to be long indiffer
The pernicious heresies which had hitherto been threatening the Catholic faith beyond the Alps seemed now to be springing up around the very seat of the Papacy, and to be menacing with destruction the most sacred monuments of its power. Leo X. however soon passed away, and was succeeded by Adrian, a Pontiff of milder and more generous qualities, whose attachments to the Christian faith were of a far purer character. The hopes of those who sought to reform the abuses which existed in the Church were now raised to the highest pitch, as they saw Adrian seated in the pontifical chair. But they were destined never to be realized, for though the Pope himself eagerly endeavored to effect a reconciliation between the contending parties, his courtiers and cardinals arrayed a steady and powerful opposition against all his plans, and the pontificate soon passed into the hands of those who, bent on securing every element both of spiritual and of civil power that lay within their reach, were determined to suppress the Reformation in Italy at every hazard and by any means that could be put in requisition
. Among these means, by far the most effectual was the Inquisition, which had already been successfully established in Spain, and by its agency there had clothed itself with frightful terrors to the imagination of every people in Christendom. It was now introduced into Italy, and though it met with violent opposition both from the people and the governments of several of the States, yet the Papal power was at length everywhere triumphant, and the terrors of the “Holy Office soon silenced the voice of the reformer in every portion of the land. Then began the dismal reign of that unmitigated despotism which has so often followed the triumphs of the Romish Church. Who can describe the wrongs and the woes which are wrought into the history of that gloomy period in which the tribunals of the Inquisition were employed in punishing the innocent disciples of the Reformation in Italy ? Their secret agents were everywhere at work, and, often stimulated by private enmity, were constantly bringing forth for accusation and for trial persons of the most blameless lives, whose Protestant faith had been cherished in the sanctuary of their own hearts, and had scarcely been breathed save in