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Critical and Historical Essays Volume 2 by Thomas Babington Macaulay

Part 2 out of 16

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ingenious and polished inhabitants of the Languedocian provinces
were far better qualified to enrich and embellish their country
than to defend it. Eminent in the arts of peace, unrivalled in
the "gay science," elevated above many vulgar superstitions, they
wanted that iron courage, and that skill in martial exercises,
which distinguished the chivalry of the region beyond the Loire,
and were ill fitted to face enemies who, in every country from
Ireland to Palestine, had been victorious against tenfold odds. A
war, distinguished even among wars of religion by merciless
atrocity, destroyed the Albigensian heresy, and with that heresy
the prosperity the civilisation, the literature, the national
existence, of what was once the most opulent and enlightened part
of the great European family. Rome, in the meantime, warned by
that fearful danger from which the exterminating swords of her
crusaders had narrowly saved her, proceeded to revise and to
strengthen her whole system of polity. At this period were
instituted the Order of Francis, the Order of Dominic, the
Tribunal of the Inquisition. The new spiritual police was
everywhere. No alley in a great city, no hamlet on a remote
mountain, was unvisited by the begging friar. The simple
Catholic, who was content to be no wiser than his fathers, found,
wherever he turned, a friendly voice to encourage him. The path
of the heretic was beset by innumerable spies; and the Church,
lately in danger of utter subversion, now appeared to be
impregnably fortified by the love, the reverence, and the terror
of mankind.

A century and a half passed away; and then came the second great
rising up of the human intellect against the spiritual domination
of Rome. During the two generations which followed the
Albigensian crusade, the power of the Papacy had been at the
height. Frederic the Second, the ablest and most accomplished of
the long line of German Caesars, had in vain exhausted all the
resources of military and political skill in the attempt to
defend the rights of the civil power against the encroachments of
the Church. The vengeance of the priesthood had pursued his house
to the third generation. Manfred had perished on the field of
battle, Conradin on the scaffold. Then a turn took place. The
secular authority, long unduly depressed, regained the ascendant
with startling rapidity. The change is doubtless to be ascribed
chiefly to the general disgust excited by the way in which the
Church had abused its power and its success. But something must
be attributed to the character and situation of individuals. The
man who bore the chief part in effecting this revolution was
Philip the Fourth of France, surnamed the Beautiful, a despot by
position, a despot by temperament, stern, implacable, and
unscrupulous, equally prepared for violence and for chicanery,
and surrounded by a devoted band of men of the sword and of men
of law. The fiercest and most high minded of the Roman Pontiffs,
while bestowing kingdoms and citing great princes to his
judgment-seat, was seized in his palace by armed men, and so
foully outraged that he died mad with rage and terror. "Thus,"
sang the great Florentine poet, "was Christ, in the person of his
vicar, a second time seized by ruffians, a second time mocked, a
second time drenched with the vinegar and the gall." The seat of
the Papal court was carried beyond the Alps, and the Bishops of
Rome became dependants of France. Then came the great schism of
the West. Two Popes, each with a doubtful title, made all Europe
ring with their mutual invectives and anathemas. Rome cried out
against the corruptions of Avignon; and Avignon, with equal
justice, recriminated on Rome. The plain Christian people,
brought up in the belief that it was a sacred duty to be in
communion with the head of the Church, were unable to discover,
amidst conflicting testimonies and conflicting arguments, to
which of the two worthless priests who were cursing and reviling
each other, the headship of the Church rightfully belonged. It
was nearly at this juncture that the voice of John Wickliffe
began to make itself heard. The public mind of England was soon
stirred to its inmost depths: and the influence of the new
doctrines was soon felt, even in the distant kingdom of Bohemia.
In Bohemia, indeed, there had long been a predisposition to
heresy. Merchants from the Lower Danube were often seen in the
fairs of Prague; and the Lower Danube was peculiarly the seat of
the Paulician theology. The Church, torn by schism, and fiercely
assailed at once in England and in the German Empire, was in a
situation scarcely less perilous than at the crisis which
preceded the Albigensian crusade.

But this danger also passed by. The civil power gave its
strenuous support to the Church; and the Church made some show of
reforming itself. The Council of Constance put an end to the
schism. The whole Catholic world was again united under a single
chief; and rules were laid down which seemed to make it
improbable that the power of that chief would be grossly abused.
The most distinguished teachers of the new doctrine were
slaughtered. The English Government put down the Lollards with
merciless rigour; and in the next generation, scarcely one trace
of the second great revolt against the Papacy could be found,
except among the rude population of the mountains of Bohemia.

Another century went by; and then began the third and the most
memorable struggle for spiritual freedom. The times were changed.
The great remains of Athenian and Roman genius were studied by
thousands. The Church had no longer a monopoly of learning. The
powers of the modern languages had at length been developed. The
invention of printing had given new facilities to the intercourse
of mind with mind. With such auspices commenced the great

We will attempt to lay before our readers, in a short compass,
what appears to us to be the real history of the contest which
began with the preaching of Luther against the Indulgences, and
which may, in one sense, be said, to have been terminated, a
hundred and thirty years later, by the treaty of Westphalia.

In the northern parts of Europe the victory of Protestantism was
rapid and decisive. The dominion of the Papacy was felt by the
nations of Teutonic blood as the dominion of Italians, of
foreigners, of men who were aliens in language, manners, and
intellectual constitution. The large jurisdiction exercised by
the spiritual tribunals of Rome seemed to be a degrading badge of
servitude. The sums which, under a thousand pretexts, were
exacted by a distant court, were regarded both as a humiliating
and as a ruinous tribute. The character of that court excited the
scorn and disgust of a grave, earnest, sincere, and devout
people. The new theology spread with a rapidity never known
before. All ranks, all varieties of character, joined the ranks
of the innovators. Sovereigns impatient to appropriate to
themselves the prerogatives of the Pope, nobles desirous to share
the plunder of abbeys, suitors exasperated by the extortions of
the Roman Camera, patriots impatient of a foreign rule, good men
scandalised by the corruptions of the Church, bad men desirous of
the licence inseparable from great moral revolutions, wise men
eager in the pursuit of truth, weak men allured by the glitter of
novelty, all were found on one side. Alone among the northern
nations the Irish adhered to the ancient faith: and the cause of
this seems to have been that the national feeling which, in
happier countries, was directed against Rome, was in Ireland
directed against England. Within fifty years from the day on
which Luther publicly renounced communion with the Papacy, and
burned the bull of Leo before the gates of Wittenberg,
Protestantism attained its highest ascendency, an ascendency
which it soon lost, and which it has never regained. Hundreds,
who could well remember Brother Martin a devout Catholic, lived
to see the revolution of which he was the chief author,
victorious in half the states of Europe. In England, Scotland,
Denmark, Sweden, Livonia, Prussia, Saxony, Hesse, Wurtemburg, the
Palatinate, in several cantons of Switzerland, in the Northern
Netherlands, the Reformation had completely triumphed; and in all
the other countries on this side of the Alps and the Pyrenees, it
seemed on the point of triumphing.

But while this mighty work was proceeding in the north of Europe,
a revolution of a very different kind had taken place in the
south. The temper of Italy and Spain was widely different from
that of Germany and England. As the national feeling of the
Teutonic nations impelled them to throw off the Italian
supremacy, so the national feeling of the Italians impelled them
to resist any change which might deprive their country of the
honours and advantages which she enjoyed as the seat of the
government of the Universal Church. It was in Italy that the
tributes were spent of which foreign nations so bitterly
complained. It was to adorn Italy that the traffic in Indulgences
had been carried to that scandalous excess which had roused the
indignation of Luther. There was among the Italians both much
piety and much impiety; but, with very few exceptions, neither
the piety nor the impiety took the turn of Protestantism. The
religious Italians desired a reform of morals and discipline, but
not a reform of doctrine, and least of all a schism. The
irreligious Italians simply disbelieved Christianity, without
hating it. They looked at it as artists or as statesmen; and, so
looking at it, they liked it better in the established form than
in any other. It was to them what the old Pagan worship was to
Trajan and Pliny. Neither the spirit of Savonarola nor the spirit
of Machiavelli had anything in common with the spirit of the
religious or political Protestants of the North.

Spain again was, with respect to the Catholic Church, in a
situation very different from that of the Teutonic nations. Italy
was, in truth, a part of the empire of Charles the Fifth; and the
Court of Rome was, on many important occasions, his tool. He had
not, therefore, like the distant princes of the North, a strong
selfish motive for attacking the Papacy. In fact, the very
measures which provoked the Sovereign of England to renounce all
connection with Rome were dictated by the Sovereign of Spain. The
feeling of the Spanish people concurred with the interest of the
Spanish Government. The attachment of the Castilian to the faith
of his ancestors was peculiarly strong and ardent. With that
faith were inseparably bound up the institutions, the
independence, and the glory of his country. Between the day when
the last Gothic king was vanquished on the banks of the Xeres,
and the day when Ferdinand and Isabella entered Granada in
triumph, near eight hundred years had elapsed; and during those
years the Spanish nation had been engaged in a desperate struggle
against misbelievers. The Crusades had been merely an episode in
the history of other nations. The existence of Spain had been one
long Crusade. After fighting Mussulmans in the Old World, she
began to fight heathens in the New. It was under the authority of
a Papal bull that her children steered into unknown seas. It was
under the standard of the cross that they marched fearlessly into
the heart of great kingdoms. It was with the cry of "St. James
for Spain," that they charged armies which outnumbered them a
hundredfold. And men said that the Saint had heard the call, and
had himself, in arms, on a grey war-horse, led the onset before
which the worshippers of false gods had given way. After the
battle, every excess of rapacity or cruelty was sufficiently
vindicated by the plea that the sufferers were unbaptized.
Avarice stimulated zeal. Zeal consecrated avarice. Proselytes and
gold mines were sought with equal ardour. In the very year in
which the Saxons, maddened by the exactions of Rome, broke loose
from her yoke, the Spaniards, under the authority of Rome, made
themselves masters of the empire and of the treasures of
Montezuma. Thus Catholicism which, in the public mind of Northern
Europe, was associated with spoliation and oppression, was in the
public mind of Spain associated with liberty, victory, dominion,
wealth, and glory.

It is not, therefore, strange that the effect of the great
outbreak of Protestantism in one part of Christendom should have
been to produce an equally violent outbreak of Catholic zeal in
another. Two reformations were pushed on at once with equal
energy and effect, a reformation of doctrine in the North, a
reformation of manners and discipline in the South. In the course
of a single generation, the whole spirit of the Church of Rome
underwent a change. From the halls of the Vatican to the most
secluded hermitage of the Apennines, the great revival was
everywhere felt and seen. All the institutions anciently devised
for the propagation and defence of the faith were furbished up
and made efficient. Fresh engines of still more formidable power
were constructed. Everywhere old religious communities were
remodelled and new religious communities called into existence.
Within a year after the death of Leo, the order of Camaldoli was
purified. The Capuchins restored the old Franciscan discipline,
the midnight prayer and the life of silence. The Barnabites and
the society of Somasca devoted themselves to the relief and
education of the poor. To the Theatine order a still higher
interest belongs. Its great object was the same with that of our
early Methodists, namely to supply the deficiencies of the
parochial clergy. The Church of Rome, wiser than the Church of
England, gave every countenance to the good work. The members of
the new brotherhood preached to great multitudes in the streets
and in the fields, prayed by the beds of the sick, and
administered the last sacraments to the dying. Foremost among
them in zeal and devotion was Gian Pietro Caraffa, afterwards
Pope Paul the Fourth. In the convent of the Theatines at Venice,
under the eye of Caraffa, a Spanish gentleman took up his abode,
tended the poor in the hospitals, went about in rags, starved
himself almost to death, and often sallied into the streets,
mounted on stones, and, waving his hat to invite the passers-by,
began to preach in a strange jargon of mingled Castilian and
Tuscan. The Theatines were among the most zealous and rigid of
men; but to this enthusiastic neophyte their discipline seemed
lax, and their movements sluggish; for his own mind, naturally
passionate and imaginative, had passed through a training which
had given to all its peculiarities a morbid intensity and energy.
In his early life he had been the very prototype of the hero of
Cervantes. The single study of the young Hidalgo had been
chivalrous romance; and his existence had been one gorgeous day-
dream of princesses rescued and infidels subdued. He had chosen a
Dulcinea, "no countess, no duchess,"--these are his own words,--
"but one of far higher station"; and he flattered himself with
the hope of laying at her feet the keys of Moorish castles and
the jewelled turbans of Asiatic kings. In the midst of these
visions of martial glory and prosperous love, a severe wound
stretched him on a bed of sickness. His constitution was
shattered and he was doomed to be a cripple for life. The palm of
strength, grace, and skill in knightly exercises, was no longer
for him. He could no longer hope to strike down gigantic soldans,
or to find favour in the sight of beautiful women. A new vision
then arose in his mind, and mingled itself with his old delusions
in a manner which to most Englishmen must seem singular, but
which those who know how close was the union between religion and
chivalry in Spain will be at no loss to understand. He would
still be a soldier; he would still be a knight errant; but the
soldier and knight errant of the spouse of Christ. He would smite
the Great Red Dragon. He would be the champion of the Woman
clothed with the Sun. He would break the charm under which false
prophets held the souls of men in bondage. His restless spirit
led him to the Syrian deserts, and to the chapel of the Holy
Sepulchre. Thence he wandered back to the farthest West,
and astonished the convents of Spain and the schools of France
by his penances and vigils. The same lively imagination which
had been employed in picturing the tumult of unreal battles,
and the charms of unreal queens, now peopled his solitude
with saints and angels. The Holy Virgin descended to commune
with him. He saw the Saviour face to face with the eye of
flesh. Even those mysteries of religion which are the hardest
trial of faith were in his case palpable to sight. It is
difficult to relate without a pitying smile that, in the
sacrifice of the mass, he saw transubstantiation take place, and
that, as he stood praying on the steps of the Church of St.
Dominic, he saw the Trinity in Unity, and wept aloud with joy and
wonder. Such was the celebrated Ignatius Loyola, who, in the
great Catholic reaction, bore the same part which Luther bore in
the great Protestant movement.

Dissatisfied with the system of the Theatines, the enthusiastic
Spaniard turned his face towards Rome. Poor, obscure, without a
patron, without recommendations, he entered the city where now
two princely temples, rich with painting and many-coloured
marble, commemorate his great services to the Church; where his
form stands sculptured in massive silver; where his bones,
enshrined amidst jewels, are placed beneath the altar of God. His
activity and zeal bore down all opposition; and under his rule
the order of Jesuits began to exist, and grew rapidly to the full
measure of his gigantic powers. With what vehemence, with what
policy, with what exact discipline, with what dauntless courage,
with what self-denial, with what forgetfulness of the dearest
private ties, with what intense and stubborn devotion to a single
end, with what unscrupulous laxity and versatility in the choice
of means, the Jesuits fought the battle of their Church, is
written in every page of the annals of Europe during several
generations. In the order of Jesus was concentrated the
quintessence of the Catholic spirit; and the history of the order
of Jesus is the history of the great Catholic reaction. That
order possessed itself at once of all the strongholds which
command the public mind, of the pulpit, of the press, of the
confessional, of the academies. Wherever the Jesuit preached, the
church was too small for the audience. The name of Jesuit on a
title-page secured the circulation of a book. It was in the ears
of the Jesuit that the powerful, the noble, and the beautiful,
breathed the secret history of their lives. It was at the feet of
the Jesuit that the youth of the higher and middle classes were
brought up from childhood to manhood, from the first rudiments to
the courses of rhetoric and philosophy. Literature and science,
lately associated with infidelity or with heresy, now became the
allies of orthodoxy. Dominant in the South of Europe, the great
order soon went forth conquering and to conquer. In spite of
oceans and deserts, of hunger and pestilence, of spies and penal
laws, of dungeons and racks, of gibbets and quartering-blocks,
Jesuits were to be found under every disguise, and in every
country; scholars, physicians, merchants, serving-men; in the
hostile Court of Sweden, in the old manor-houses of Cheshire,
among the hovels of Connaught; arguing, instructing, consoling,
stealing away the hearts of the young, animating the courage of
the timid, holding up the crucifix before the eyes of the dying.
Nor was it less their office to plot against the thrones and
lives of apostate kings, to spread evil rumours, to raise
tumults, to inflame civil wars, to arm the hand of the assassin.
Inflexible in nothing but in their fidelity to the Church, they
were equally ready to appeal in her cause to the spirit of
loyalty and to the spirit of freedom. Extreme doctrines of
obedience and extreme doctrines of liberty, the right of rulers
to misgovern the people, the right of every one of the people to
plunge his knife in the heart of a bad ruler, were inculcated by
the same man, according as he addressed himself to the subject of
Philip or to the subject of Elizabeth. Some described these
divines as the most rigid, others as the most indulgent of
spiritual directors; and both descriptions were correct. The
truly devout listened with awe to the high and saintly morality
of the Jesuit. The gay cavalier who had run his rival through the
body, the frail beauty who had forgotten her marriage-vow, found
in the Jesuit an easy well-bred man of the world, who knew how to
make allowance for the little irregularities of people of
fashion. The confessor was strict or lax, according to the temper
of the penitent. The first object was to drive no person out of
the pale of the Church. Since there were bad people, it was
better that they should be bad Catholics than bad Protestants. If
a person was so unfortunate as to be a bravo, a libertine, or a
gambler, that was no reason for making him a heretic too.

The Old World was not wide enough for this strange activity. The
Jesuits invaded all the countries which the great maritime
discoveries of the preceding age had laid open to European
enterprise. They were to be found in the depths of the Peruvian
mines, at the marts of the African slave-caravans, on the shores
of the Spice Islands, in the observatories of China. They made
converts in regions which neither avarice nor curiosity had
tempted any of their countrymen to enter; and preached and
disputed in tongues of which no other native of the West
understood a word.

The spirit which appeared so eminently in this order animated the
whole Catholic world. The Court of Rome itself was purified.
During the generation which preceded the Reformation, that Court
had been a scandal to the Christian name. Its annals are black
with treason, murder, and incest. Even its more respectable
members were utterly unfit to be ministers of religion. They were
men like Leo the Tenth; men who, with the Latinity of the
Augustan age, had acquired its atheistical and scoffing spirit.
They regarded those Christian mysteries, of which they were
stewards, just as the Augur Cicero and the high Pontiff Caesar
regarded the Sibylline books and the pecking of the sacred
chickens. Among themselves, they spoke of the Incarnation, the
Eucharist, and the Trinity, in the same tone in which Cotta and
Velleius talked of the oracle of Delphi or the voice of Faunus in
the mountains. Their years glided by in a soft dream of sensual
and intellectual voluptuousness. Choice cookery, delicious wines,
lovely women, hounds, falcons, horses, newly-discovered
manuscripts of the classics, sonnets, and burlesque romances in
the sweetest Tuscan, just as licentious as a fine sense of the
graceful would permit, plate from the hand of Benvenuto, designs
for palaces by Michael Angelo, frescoes by Raphael, busts,
mosaics, and gems just dug up from among the ruins of ancient
temples and villas, these things were the delight and even the
serious business of their lives. Letters and the fine arts
undoubtedly owe much to this not inelegant sloth. But when the
great stirring of the mind of Europe began, when doctrine after
doctrine was assailed, when nation after nation withdrew from
communion with the successor of St. Peter, it was felt that the
Church could not be safely confided to chiefs whose highest
praise was that they were good judges of Latin compositions, of
paintings, and of statues, whose severest studies had a pagan
character, and who were suspected of laughing in secret at the
sacraments which they administered, and of believing no more of
the Gospel than of the Morgante Maggiore. Men of a very different
class now rose to the direction of ecclesiastical affairs, men
whose spirit resembled that of Dunstan and of Becket. The Roman
Pontiffs exhibited in their own persons all the austerity of the
early anchorites of Syria. Paul the Fourth brought to the Papal
throne the same fervent zeal which had carried him into the
Theatine convent. Pius the Fifth, under his gorgeous vestments,
wore day and night the hair shirt of a simple friar, walked
barefoot in the streets at the head of processions, found, even
in the midst of his most pressing avocations, time for private
prayer, often regretted that the public duties of his station
were unfavourable to growth in holiness, and edified his flock by
innumerable instances of humility, charity, and forgiveness of
personal injuries, while at the same time he upheld the authority
of his see, and the unadulterated doctrines of his Church, with
all the stubbornness and vehemence of Hildebrand. Gregory the
Thirteenth exerted himself not only to imitate but to surpass
Pius in the severe virtues of his sacred profession. As was the
head, such were the members. The change in the spirit of the
Catholic world may be traced in every walk of literature and of
art. It will be at once perceived by every person who compares
the poem of Tasso with that of Ariosto, or the monuments Of
Sixtus the Fifth with those of Leo the Tenth.

But it was not on moral influence alone that the Catholic Church
relied. The civil sword in Spain and Italy was unsparingly
employed in her support. The Inquisition was armed with new
powers and inspired with a new energy. If Protestantism, or the
semblance of Protestantism, showed itself in any quarter, it was
instantly met, not by petty, teasing persecution, but by
persecution of that sort which bows down and crushes all but a
very few select spirits. Whoever was suspected of heresy,
whatever his rank, his learning, or his reputation, knew that he
must purge himself to the satisfaction of a severe and vigilant
tribunal, or die by fire. Heretical books were sought out and
destroyed with similar rigour. Works which were once in every
house were so effectually suppressed that no copy of them is now
to be found in the most extensive libraries. One book in
particular, entitled Of the Benefits of the Death of Christ, had
this fate. It was written in Tuscan, was many times reprinted,
and was eagerly read in every part of Italy. But the inquisitors
detected in it the Lutheran doctrine of justification by faith
alone. They proscribed it; and it is now as hopelessly lost as
the second decade of Livy.

Thus, while the Protestant reformation proceeded rapidly at one
extremity of Europe, the Catholic revival went on as rapidly at
the other. About half a century after the great separation, there
were, throughout the North, Protestant governments and Protestant
nations. In the South were governments and nations actuated by
the most intense zeal for the ancient Church. Between these
two hostile regions lay, morally as well as geographically,
a great debatable land. In France, Belgium, Southern Germany,
Hungary, and Poland, the contest was still undecided. The
governments of those countries had not renounced their
connection with Rome; but the Protestants were numerous,
bold, and active. In France, they formed a commonwealth
within the realm, held fortresses, were able to bring great
armies into the field, and had treated with their sovereign on
terms of equality. In Poland, the King was still a Catholic; but
the Protestants had the upper hand in the Diet, filled the chief
offices in the administration, and, in the large towns, took
possession of the parish churches. "It appeared," says the Papal
nuncio, "that in Poland, Protestantism would completely supersede
Catholicism." In Bavaria, the state of things was nearly the
same. The Protestants had a majority in the Assembly of the
States, and demanded from the duke concessions in favour of their
religion, as the price of their subsidies. In Transylvania, the
House of Austria was unable to prevent the Diet from
confiscating, by one sweeping decree, the estates of the Church.
In Austria Proper it was generally said that only one-thirtieth
part of the population could be counted on as good Catholics. In
Belgium the adherents of the new opinions were reckoned by
hundreds of thousands.

The history of the two succeeding generations is the history of
the struggle between Protestantism possessed of the North of
Europe, and Catholicism possessed of the South, for the doubtful
territory which lay between. All the weapons of carnal and of
spiritual warfare were employed. Both sides may boast of great
talents and of great virtues. Both have to blush for many follies
and crimes. At first, the chances seemed to be decidedly in
favour of Protestantism; but the victory remained with the Church
of Rome. On every point she was successful. If we overleap,
another half century, we find her victorious and dominant in
France, Belgium, Bavaria, Bohemia, Austria, Poland, and Hungary.
Nor has Protestantism, in the course of two hundred years, been
able to reconquer any portion of what was then lost.

It is, moreover, not to be dissembled that this triumph of the
Papacy is to be chiefly attributed, not to the force of arms,
but to a great reflux in public opinion. During the first half
century after the commencement of the Reformation, the current of
feeling, in the countries on this side of the Alps and of the
Pyrenees, ran impetuously towards the new doctrines. Then the
tide turned, and rushed as fiercely in the opposite direction.
Neither during the one period, nor during the other, did much
depend upon the event of battles or sieges. The Protestant
movement was hardly checked for an instant by the defeat at
Muhlberg. The Catholic reaction went on at full speed in spite of
the destruction of the Armada. It is difficult to say whether the
violence of the first blow or of the recoil was the greater.
Fifty years after the Lutheran separation, Catholicism could
scarcely maintain itself on the shores of the Mediterranean. A
hundred years after the separation, Protestantism could scarcely
maintain itself on the shores of the Baltic. The causes of this
memorable turn in human affairs well deserve to be investigated.

The contest between the two parties bore some resemblance to the
fencing-match in Shakspeare; "Laertes wounds Hamlet; then, in
scuffling, they change rapiers, and Hamlet wounds Laertes." The
war between Luther and Leo was a war between firm faith and
unbelief, between zeal and apathy, between energy and indolence,
between seriousness and frivolity, between a pure morality and
vice. Very different was the war which degenerate Protestantism
had to wage against regenerate Catholicism. To the debauchees,
the poisoners, the atheists, who had worn the tiara during the
generation which preceded the Reformation, had succeeded Popes
who, in religious fervour and severe sanctity of manners, might
bear a comparison with Cyprian or Ambrose. The order of Jesuits
alone could show many men not inferior in sincerity, constancy,
courage, and austerity of life, to the apostles of the
Reformation. But while danger had thus called forth in the bosom
of the Church of Rome many of the highest qualities of the
Reformers, the Reformers had contracted some of the corruptions
which had been justly censured in the Church of Rome. They had
become lukewarm and worldly. Their great old leaders had been
borne to the grave, and had left no successors. Among the
Protestant princes there was little or no hearty Protestant
feeling. Elizabeth herself was a Protestant rather from policy
than from firm conviction. James the First, in order to effect
his favourite object of marrying his son into one of the great
continental houses, was ready to make immense concessions to
Rome, and even to admit a modified primacy in the Pope. Henry the
Fourth twice abjured the reformed doctrines from interested
motives. The Elector of Saxony, the natural head Of the
Protestant party in Germany, submitted to become, at the most
important crisis of the struggle, a tool in the hands of the
Papists. Among the Catholic sovereigns, on the other hand, we
find a religious zeal often amounting to fanaticism. Philip the
Second was a Papist in a very different sense from that in which
Elizabeth was a Protestant. Maximilian of Bavaria, brought up
under the teaching of the Jesuits, was a fervent missionary
wielding the powers of a prince. The Emperor Ferdinand the Second
deliberately put his throne to hazard over and over again, rather
than make the smallest concession to the spirit of religious
innovation. Sigismund of Sweden lost a crown which he might have
preserved if he would have renounced the Catholic faith. In
short, everywhere on the Protestant side we see languor;
everywhere on the Catholic side we see ardour and devotion.

Not only was there, at this time, a much more intense zeal among
the Catholics than among the Protestants; but the whole zeal of
the Catholics was directed against the Protestants, while almost
the whole zeal of the Protestants was directed against each
other. Within the Catholic Church there were no serious disputes
on points of doctrine. The decisions of the Council of Trent were
received; and the Jansenian controversy had not yet arisen. The
whole force of Rome was, therefore, effective for the purpose of
carrying on the war against the Reformation. On the other hand,
the force which ought to have fought the battle of the
Reformation was exhausted in civil conflict. While Jesuit
preachers, Jesuit confessors, Jesuit teachers of youth,
overspread Europe, eager to expend every faculty of their minds
and every drop of their blood in the cause of their Church,
Protestant doctors were confuting, and Protestant rulers were
punishing, sectaries who were just as good Protestants as

"Cumque superba foret BABYLON spolianda tropaeis,
Bella geri placuit nullos habitura triumphos."

In the Palatinate, a Calvinistic prince persecuted the Lutherans.
In Saxony, a Lutheran prince persecuted the Calvinists. Everybody
who objected to any of the articles of the Confession of Augsburg
was banished from Sweden. In Scotland, Melville was disputing
with other Protestants on questions of ecclesiastical government.
In England the gaols were filled with men, who, though zealous
for the Reformation, did not exactly agree with the Court on all
points of discipline and doctrine. Some were persecuted for
denying the tenet of reprobation; some for not wearing surplices.
The Irish people might at that time have been, in all
probability, reclaimed from Popery, at the expense of half the
zeal and activity which Whitgift employed in oppressing Puritans,
and Martin Marprelate in reviling bishops.

As the Catholics in zeal and in union had a great advantage over
the Protestants, so had they also an infinitely superior
organisation. In truth, Protestantism, for aggressive purposes,
had no organisation at all. The Reformed Churches were mere
national Churches. The Church of England existed for England
alone. It was an institution as purely local as the Court of
Common Pleas, and was utterly without any machinery for foreign
operations. The Church of Scotland, in the same manner, existed
for Scotland alone. The operations of the Catholic Church, on the
other hand, took in the whole world. Nobody at Lambeth or at
Edinburgh troubled himself about what was doing in Poland or
Bavaria. But Cracow and Munich were at Rome objects of as much
interest as the purlieus of St. John Lateran. Our island, the
head of the Protestant interest, did not send out a single
missionary or a single instructor of youth to the scene of the
great spiritual war. Not a single seminary was established here
for the purpose of furnishing a supply of such persons to foreign
countries. On the other hand, Germany, Hungary, and Poland were
filled with able and active Catholic emissaries of Spanish or
Italian birth; and colleges for the instruction of the northern
youth were founded at Rome. The spiritual force of Protestantism
was a mere local militia, which might be useful in case of an
invasion, but could not be sent abroad, and could therefore make
no conquests. Rome had such a local militia; but she had also a
force disposable at a moment's notice for foreign service,
however dangerous or disagreeable. If it was thought at head-
quarters that a Jesuit at Palermo was qualified by his talents
and character to withstand the Reformers in Lithuania, the order
was instantly given and instantly obeyed. In a month, the
faithful servant of the Church was preaching, catechising,
confessing, beyond the Niemen.

It is impossible to deny that the polity of the Church of Rome is
the very master-piece of human wisdom. In truth, nothing but such
a polity could, against such assaults, have borne up such
doctrines. The experience of twelve hundred eventful years, the
ingenuity and patient care of forty generations of statesmen,
have improved that polity to such perfection that, among the
contrivances which have been devised for deceiving and oppressing
mankind, it occupies the highest place. The stronger our
conviction that reason and scripture were decidedly on the side
of Protestantism, the greater is the reluctant admiration with
which we regard that system of tactics against which reason and
scripture were employed in vain.

If we went at large into this most interesting subject we should
fill volumes. We will, therefore, at present, advert to only one
important part of the policy of the Church of Rome. She
thoroughly understands, what no other Church has ever understood,
how to deal with enthusiasts. In some sects, particularly in
infant sects, enthusiasm is suffered to be rampant. In other
sects, particularly in sects long established and richly endowed,
it is regarded with aversion. The Catholic Church neither submits
to enthusiasm nor proscribes it, but uses it. She considers it as
a great moving force which in itself, like the muscular power of
a fine horse, is neither good nor evil, but which may be so
directed as to produce great good or great evil; and she assumes
the direction to herself. It would be absurd to run down a horse
like a wolf. It would be still more absurd to let him run wild,
breaking fences, and trampling down passengers. The rational
course is to subjugate his will without impairing his vigour, to
teach him to obey the rein, and then to urge him to full speed.
When once he knows his master, he is valuable in proportion to
his strength and spirit. Just such has been the system of the
Church of Rome with regard to enthusiasts. She knows that, when
religious feelings have obtained the complete empire of the mind,
they impart a strange energy, that they raise men above the
dominion of pain and pleasure, that obloquy becomes glory, that
death itself is contemplated only as the beginning of a higher
and happier life. She knows that a person in this state is no
object of contempt. He may be vulgar, ignorant, visionary,
extravagant; but he will do and suffer things which it is for her
interest that somebody should do and suffer, yet from which calm
and sober-minded men would shrink. She accordingly enlists him in
her service, assigns to him some forlorn hope, in which
intrepidity and impetuosity are more wanted than judgment and
self-command, and sends him forth with her benedictions and her

In England it not unfrequently happens that a tinker or coal-
heaver hears a sermon or falls in with a tract which alarms him
about the state of his soul. If he be a man of excitable nerves
and strong imagination, he thinks himself given over to the Evil
Power. He doubts whether he has not committed the unpardonable
sin. He imputes every wild fancy that springs up in his mind to
the whisper of a fiend. His sleep is broken by dreams of the
great judgment-seat, the open books, and the unquenchable fire.
If, in order to escape from these vexing thoughts, he flies to
amusement or to licentious indulgence, the delusive relief only
makes his misery darker and more hopeless. At length a turn takes
place. He is reconciled to his offended Maker. To borrow the fine
imagery of one who had himself been thus tried, he emerges from
the Valley of the Shadow of Death, from the dark land of gins and
snares, of quagmires and precipices, of evil spirits and ravenous
beasts. The sunshine is on his path. He ascends the Delectable
Mountains, and catches from their summit a distant view of the
shining city which is the end of his pilgrimage. Then arises in
his mind a natural and surely not a censurable desire, to impart
to others the thoughts of which his own heart is full, to warn
the careless, to comfort those who are troubled in spirit. The
impulse which urges him to devote his whole life to the teaching
of religion is a strong passion in the guise of a duty. He
exhorts his neighbours; and, if he be a man of strong parts, he
often does so with great effect. He pleads as if he were pleading
for his life, with tears, and pathetic gestures, and burning
words; and he soon finds with delight, not perhaps wholly unmixed
with the alloy of human infirmity, that his rude eloquence rouses
and melts hearers who sleep very composedly while the rector
preaches on the apostolical succession. Zeal for God, love for
his fellow-creatures, pleasure in the exercise of his newly
discovered powers, impel him to become a preacher. He has no
quarrel with the establishment, no objection to its formularies,
its government, or its vestments. He would gladly be admitted
among its humblest ministers, but, admitted or rejected, he feels
that his vocation is determined. His orders have come down to
him, not through a long and doubtful series of Arian and Popish
bishops, but direct from on high. His commission is the same that
on the Mountain of Ascension was given to the Eleven. Nor will
he, for lack of human credentials, spare to deliver the glorious
message with which he is charged by the true Head of the Church.
For a man thus minded, there is within the pale of the
establishment no place. He has been at no college; he cannot
construe a Greek author or write a Latin theme; and he is told
that, if he remains in the communion of the Church, he must do so
as a hearer, and that, if he is resolved to be a teacher, he must
begin by being a schismatic. His choice is soon made. He
harangues on Tower Hill or in Smithfield. A congregation is
formed. A licence is obtained. A plain brick building, with a
desk and benches, is run up, and named Ebenezer or Bethel. In a
few weeks the Church has lost for ever a hundred families, not
one of which entertained the least scruple about her articles,
her liturgy, her government, or her ceremonies.

Far different is the policy of Rome. The ignorant enthusiast whom
the Anglican Church makes an enemy, and whatever the polite and
learned may think, a most dangerous enemy, the Catholic Church
makes a champion. She bids him nurse his beard, covers him with a
gown and hood of coarse dark stuff, ties a rope round his waist,
and sends him forth to teach in her name. He costs her nothing.
He takes not a ducat away from the revenues of her beneficed
clergy. He lives by the alms of those who respect his spiritual
character, and are grateful for his instructions. He preaches,
not exactly in the style of Massillon, but in a way which moves
the passions of uneducated hearers; and all his influence is
employed to strengthen the Church of which he is a minister. To
that Church he becomes as strongly attached as any of the
cardinals whose scarlet carriages and liveries crowd the entrance
of the palace on the Quirinal. In this way the Church of Rome
unites in herself all the strength of establishment, and all the
strength of dissent. With the utmost pomp of a dominant hierarchy
above, she has all the energy of the voluntary system below. It
would be easy to mention very recent instances in which the
hearts of hundreds of thousands, estranged from her by the
selfishness, sloth, and cowardice of the beneficed clergy, have
been brought back by the zeal of the begging friars.

Even for female agency there is a place in her system. To devout
women she assigns spiritual functions, dignities, and
magistracies. In our country, if a noble lady is moved by more
than ordinary zeal for the propagation of religion, the chance is
that, though she may disapprove of no doctrine or ceremony of the
Established Church, she will end by giving her name to a new
schism. If a pious and benevolent woman enters the cells of a
prison to pray with the most unhappy and degraded of her own sex,
she does so without any authority from the Church. No line of
action is traced out for her; and it is well if the Ordinary does
not complain of her intrusion, and if the Bishop does not shake
his head at such irregular benevolence. At Rome, the Countess of
Huntingdon would have a place in the calendar as St. Selina, and
Mrs. Fry would be foundress and first Superior of the Blessed
Order of Sisters of the Gaols.

Place Ignatius Loyola at Oxford. He is certain to become the head
of a formidable secession. Place John Wesley at Rome. He is
certain to be the first General of a new society devoted to the
interests and honour of the Church. Place St. Theresa in London.
Her restless enthusiasm ferments into madness, not untinctured
with craft. She becomes the prophetess, the mother of the
faithful, holds disputations with the devil, issues sealed
pardons to her adorers, and lies in of the Shiloh. Place Joanna
Southcote at Rome. She founds an order of barefooted Carmelites,
every one of whom is ready to suffer martyrdom for the Church; a
solemn service is consecrated to her memory; and her statue,
placed over the holy water, strikes the eye of every stranger who
enters St. Peter's.

We have dwelt long on this subject, because we believe that of
the many causes to which the Church of Rome owed her safety and
her triumph at the close of the sixteenth century, the chief was
the profound policy with which she used the fanaticism of such
persons as St. Ignatius and St. Theresa.

The Protestant party was now indeed vanquished and humbled. In
France, so strong had been the Catholic reaction that Henry the
Fourth found it necessary to choose between his religion and his
crown. In spite of his clear hereditary right, in spite of his
eminent personal qualities, he saw that, unless he reconciled
himself to the Church of Rome, he could not count on the fidelity
even of those gallant gentlemen whose impetuous valour had turned
the tide of battle at Ivry. In Belgium, Poland, and Southern
Germany, Catholicism had obtained complete ascendency. The
resistance of Bohemia was put down. The Palatinate was conquered.
Upper and Lower Saxony were overflowed by Catholic invaders. The
King of Denmark stood forth as the Protector of the Reformed
Churches: he was defeated, driven out of the empire, and attacked
in his own possessions. The armies of the House of Austria
pressed on, subjugated Pomerania, and were stopped in their
progress only by the ramparts of Stralsund.

And now again the tide turned. Two violent outbreaks of religious
feeling in opposite directions had given a character to the whole
history of a whole century. Protestantism had at first driven
back Catholicism to the Alps and the Pyrenees. Catholicism had
rallied, and had driven back Protestantism even to the German
Ocean. Then the great southern reaction began to slacken, as the
great northern movement had slackened before. The zeal of the
Catholics waxed cool. Their union was dissolved. The paroxysm of
religious excitement was over on both sides. One party had
degenerated as far from the spirit of Loyola as the other from
the spirit of Luther. During three generations religion had been
the mainspring of politics. The revolutions and civil wars of
France, Scotland, Holland, Sweden, the long struggle between
Philip and Elizabeth, the bloody competition for the Bohemian
crown, had all originated in theological disputes. But a great
change now took place. The contest which was raging in Germany
lost its religious character. It was now, on one side, less a
contest for the spiritual ascendency of the Church of Rome than
for the temporal ascendency of the House of Austria. On the other
side, it was less a contest for the reformed doctrines than for
national independence. Governments began to form themselves into
new combinations, in which community of political interest was
far more regarded than community of religious belief. Even at
Rome the progress of the Catholic arms was observed with mixed
feelings. The Supreme Pontiff was a sovereign prince of the
second rank, and was anxious about the balance of power as well
as about the propagation of truth. It was known that he dreaded
the rise of an universal monarchy even more than he desired the
prosperity of the Universal Church. At length a great event
announced to the world that the war of sects had ceased, and that
the war of states had succeeded. A coalition, including
Calvinists, Lutherans, and Catholics, was formed against the
House of Austria. At the head of that coalition were the first
statesman and the first warrior of the age; the former a prince
of the Catholic Church, distinguished by the vigour and success
with which he had put down the Huguenots; the latter a Protestant
king who owed his throne to a revolution caused by hatred of
Popery. The alliance of Richelieu and Gustavus marks the time at
which the great religious struggle terminated. The war which
followed was a war for the equilibrium of Europe. When, at
length, the peace of Westphalia was concluded, it appeared that
the Church of Rome remained in full possession of a vast dominion
which in the middle of the preceding century she seemed to be on
the point of losing. No part of Europe remained Protestant,
except that part which had become thoroughly Protestant before
the generation which heard Luther preach had passed away.

Since that time there has been no religious war between Catholics
and Protestants as such. In the time of Cromwell, Protestant
England was united with Catholic France, then governed by a
priest, against Catholic Spain. William the Third, the eminently
Protestant hero, was at the head of a coalition which included
many Catholic powers, and which was secretly favoured even by
Rome, against the Catholic Lewis. In the time of Anne, Protestant
England and Protestant Holland joined with Catholic Savoy and
Catholic Portugal, for the purpose of transferring the crown of
Spain from one bigoted Catholic to another.

The geographical frontier between the two religions has continued
to run almost precisely where it ran at the close of the Thirty
Years' War; nor has Protestantism given any proofs of that
"expansive power" which has been ascribed to it. But the
Protestant boasts, and boasts most justly, that wealth,
civilisation, and intelligence, have increased far more on the
northern than on the southern side of the boundary, and that
countries so little favoured by nature as Scotland and Prussia
are now among the most flourishing and best governed portions of
the world, while the marble palaces of Genoa are deserted, while
banditti infest the beautiful shores of Campania, while the
fertile sea-coast of the Pontifical State is abandoned to
buffaloes and wild boars. It cannot be doubted that, since the
sixteenth century, the Protestant nations have made decidedly
greater progress than their neighbours. The progress made by
those nations in which Protestantism, though not finally
successful, yet maintained a long struggle, and left permanent
traces, has generally been considerable. But when we come to the
Catholic Land, to the part of Europe in which the first spark of
reformation was trodden out as soon as it appeared, and from
which proceeded the impulse which drove Protestantism back, we
find, at best, a very slow progress, and on the whole a
retrogression. Compare Denmark and Portugal. When Luther began to
preach, the superiority of the Portuguese was unquestionable. At
present, the superiority of the Danes is no less so. Compare
Edinburgh and Florence. Edinburgh has owed less to climate, to
soil, and to the fostering care of rulers than any capital,
Protestant or Catholic. In all these respects, Florence has been
singularly happy. Yet whoever knows what Florence and Edinburgh
were in the generation preceding the Reformation, and what they
are now, will acknowledge that some great cause has, during the
last three Centuries, operated to raise one part of the European
family, and to depress the other. Compare the history of England
and that of Spain during the last century. In arms, arts,
sciences, letters, commerce, agriculture, the contrast is most
striking. The distinction is not confined to this side of the
Atlantic. The colonies planted by England in America have
immeasurably outgrown in power those planted by Spain. Yet we
have no reason to believe that, at the beginning of the sixteenth
century, the Castilian was in any respect inferior to the
Englishman. Our firm belief is, that the North owes its great
civilisation and prosperity chiefly to the moral effect of the
Protestant Reformation, and that the decay of the southern
countries of Europe is to be mainly ascribed to the great
Catholic revival.

About a hundred years after the final settlement of the boundary
line between Protestantism and Catholicism, began to appear the
signs of the fourth great peril of the Church of Rome. The storm
which was now rising against her was of a very different kind
from those which had preceded it. Those who had formerly attacked
her had questioned only a part of her doctrines. A school was now
growing up which rejected the whole. The Albigenses, the
Lollards, the Lutherans, the Calvinists, had a positive religious
system, and were strongly attached to it. The creed of the new
sectaries was altogether negative. They took one of their
premises from the Protestants, and one from the Catholics. From
the latter they borrowed the principle, that Catholicism was the
only pure and genuine Christianity. With the former, they held
that some parts of the Catholic system were contrary to reason.
The conclusion was obvious. Two propositions, each of which
separately is compatible with the most exalted piety, formed,
when held in conjunction, the ground-work of a system of
irreligion. The doctrine of Bossuet, that transubstantiation is
affirmed in the Gospel, and the doctrine of Tillotson, that
transubstantiation is an absurdity, when put together, produced
by logical necessity, the inferences of Voltaire.

Had the sect which was rising at Paris been a sect of mere
scoffers, it is very improbable that it would have left deep
traces of its existence in the institutions and manners of
Europe. Mere negation, mere Epicurean infidelity, as Lord Bacon
most justly observes, has never disturbed the peace of the world.
It furnishes no motive for action. It inspires no enthusiasm. It
has no missionaries, no crusaders, no martyrs. If the Patriarch
of the Holy Philosophical Church had contented himself with
making jokes about Saul's asses and David's wives, and with
criticising the poetry of Ezekiel in the same narrow spirit in
which he criticised that of Shakspeare, Rome would have had
little to fear. But it is due to him and to his compeers to say
that the real secret of their strength lay in the truth which was
mingled with their errors, and in the generous enthusiasm which
was hidden under their flippancy. They were men who, with all
their faults, moral and intellectual, sincerely and earnestly
desired the improvement of the condition of the human race, whose
blood boiled at the sight of cruelty and injustice, who made
manful war, with every faculty which they possessed, on what they
considered as abuses, and who on many signal occasions placed
themselves gallantly between the powerful and the oppressed.
While they assailed Christianity with a rancour and an unfairness
disgraceful to men who called themselves philosophers, they yet
had, in far greater measure than their opponents, that charity
towards men of all classes and races which Christianity enjoins.
Religious persecution, judicial torture, arbitrary imprisonment,
the unnecessary multiplication of capital punishments, the delay
and chicanery of tribunals, the exactions of farmers of the
revenue, slavery, the slave trade, were the constant subjects of
their lively satire and eloquent disquisitions. When an innocent
man was broken on the wheel at Toulouse, when a youth, guilty
only of an indiscretion, was beheaded at Abbeville, when a brave
officer, borne down by public injustice, was dragged, with a gag
in his mouth, to die on the Place de Greve, a voice instantly
went forth from the banks of Lake Leman, which made itself heard
from Moscow to Cadiz, and which sentenced the unjust judges to
the contempt and detestation of all Europe. The really efficient
weapons with which the philosophers assailed the evangelical
faith were borrowed from the evangelical morality. The ethical
and dogmatical parts of the Gospel were unhappily turned against
each other. On one side was a Church boasting of the purity of a
doctrine derived from the Apostles, but disgraced by the massacre
of St. Bartholomew, by the murder of the best of kings, by the
war of Cevennes, by the destruction of Port-Royal. On the other
side was a sect laughing at the Scriptures, shooting out the
tongue at the sacraments, but ready to encounter principalities
and powers in the cause of justice, mercy and toleration.

Irreligion, accidentally associated with philanthropy, triumphed
for a time over religion accidentally associated with political
and social abuses. Everything gave way to the zeal and activity
of the new reformers. In France, every man distinguished in
letters was found in their ranks. Every year gave birth to works
in which the fundamental principles of the Church were attacked
with argument, invective, and ridicule. The Church made no
defence, except by acts of power. Censures were pronounced: books
were seized: insults were offered to the remains of infidel
writers; but no Bossuet, no Pascal, came forth to encounter
Voltaire. There appeared not a single defence of the Catholic
doctrine which produced any considerable effect, or which is
now even remembered. A bloody and unsparing persecution, like
that which put down the Albigenses, might have put down the
philosophers. But the time for De Montforts and Dominics had
gone by. The punishments which the priests were still able
to inflict were suffficient to irritate, but not sufficient to
destroy. The war was between power on one side, and wit on
the other; and the power was under far more restraint than
the wit. Orthodoxy soon became a synonyme for ignorance and
stupidity. It was as necessary to the character of an
accomplished man that he should despise the religion of his
country, as that he should know his letters. The new doctrines
spread rapidly through Christendom. Paris was the capital of the
whole Continent. French was everywhere the language of polite
circles. The literary glory of Italy and Spain had departed. That
of Germany had not dawned. That of England shone, as yet, for the
English alone. The teachers of France were the teachers of
Europe. The Parisian opinions spread fast among the educated
classes beyond the Alps: nor could the vigilance of the
Inquisition prevent the contraband importation of the new heresy
into Castile and Portugal. Governments, even arbitrary
governments, saw with pleasure the progress of this philosophy.
Numerous reforms, generally laudable, sometimes hurried on
without sufficient regard to time, to place, and to public
feeling, showed the extent of its influence. The rulers of
Prussia, of Russia, of Austria, and of many smaller states, were
supposed to be among the initiated.

The Church of Rome was still, in outward show, as stately and
splendid as ever; but her foundation was undermined. No state had
quitted her communion or confiscated her revenues; but the
reverence of the people was everywhere departing from her.

The first great warning-stroke was the fall of that society
which, in the conflict with Protestantism, had saved the Catholic
Church from destruction. The Order of Jesus had never recovered
from the injury received in the struggle with Port-Royal. It was
now still more rudely assailed by the philosophers. Its spirit
was broken; its reputation was tainted. Insulted by all the men
of genius in Europe, condemned by the civil magistrate, feebly
defended by the chiefs of the hierarchy, it fell: and great was
the fall of it.

The movement went on with increasing speed. The first generation
of the new sect passed away. The doctrines of Voltaire were
inherited and exaggerated by successors, who bore to him the same
relation which the Anabaptists bore to Luther, or the Fifth-
Monarchy men to Pym. At length the Revolution came. Down went the
old Church of France, with all its pomp and wealth. Some of its
priests purchased a maintenance by separating themselves from
Rome, and by becoming the authors of a fresh schism. Some,
rejoicing in the new licence, flung away their sacred vestments,
proclaimed that their whole life had been an imposture, insulted
and persecuted the religion of which they had been ministers, and
distinguished themselves, even in the Jacobin Club and the
Commune of Paris, by the excess of their impudence and ferocity.
Others, more faithful to their principles, were butchered by
scores without a trial, drowned, shot, hung on lamp-posts.
Thousands fled from their country to take sanctuary under the
shade of hostile altars. The churches were closed; the bells were
silent; the shrines were plundered; the silver crucifixes were
melted down. Buffoons, dressed in copes and surplices, came
dancing the carmagnole even to the bar of the Convention. The
bust of Marat was substituted for the statues of the martyrs of
Christianity. A prostitute, seated on a chair of state in the
chancel of Notre Dame, received the adoration of thousands, who
exclaimed that at length, for the first time, those ancient
Gothic arches had resounded with the accents of truth. The new
unbelief was as intolerant as the old superstition. To show
reverence for religion was to incur the suspicion of
disaffection. It was not without imminent danger that the priest
baptized the infant, joined the hands of lovers, or listened to
the confession of the dying. The absurd worship of the Goddess of
Reason was, indeed, of short duration; but the deism of
Robespierre and Lepaux was not less hostile to the Catholic faith
than the atheism of Clootz and Chaumette.

Nor were the calamities of the Church confined to France. The
revolutionary spirit, attacked by all Europe, beat all Europe
back, became conqueror in its turn, and, not satisfied with the
Belgian cities and the rich domains of the spiritual electors,
went raging over the Rhine and through the passes of the Alps.
Throughout the whole of the great war against Protestantism,
Italy and Spain had been the base of the Catholic operations.
Spain was now the obsequious vassal of the infidels. Italy was
subjugated by them. To her ancient principalities succeeded
the Cisalpine republic, and the Ligurian republic, and the
Parthenopean republic. The shrine of Loretto was stripped
of the treasures piled up by the devotion of six hundred
years. The convents of Rome were pillaged. The tricoloured
flag floated on the top of the Castle of St. Angelo. The
successor of St. Peter was carried away captive by the
unbelievers. He died a prisoner in their hands; and even the
honours of sepulture were long withheld from his remains.

It is not strange that in the year 1799, even sagacious observers
should have thought that, at length, the hour of the Church of
Rome was come. An infidel power ascendant, the Pope dying in
captivity, the most illustrious prelates of France living in a
foreign country on Protestant alms, the noblest edifices which
the munificence of former ages had consecrated to the worship of
God turned into temples of Victory, or into banqueting-houses for
political societies, or into Theophilanthropic chapels, such
signs might well be supposed to indicate the approaching end of
that long domination.

But the end was not yet. Again doomed to death, the milk-white
hind was still fated not to die. Even before the funeral rites
had been performed over the ashes of Pius the Sixth, a great
reaction had commenced, which, after the lapse of more than forty
years, appears to be still in progress. Anarchy had had its day.
A new order of things rose out of the confusion, new dynasties,
new laws, new titles; and amidst them emerged the ancient
religion. The Arabs have a fable that the Great Pyramid was built
by antediluvian kings, and alone, of all the works of men, bore
the weight of the flood. Such as this was the fate of the Papacy.
It had been buried under the great inundation; but its deep
foundations had remained unshaken; and when the waters abated, it
appeared alone amidst the ruins of a world which had passed away.
The republic of Holland was gone, and the empire of Germany, and
the great Council of Venice, and the old Helvetian League, and
the House of Bourbon, and the parliaments and aristocracy of
France. Europe was full of young creations, a French empire, a
kingdom of Italy, a Confederation of the Rhine. Nor had the late
events affected only territorial limits and political
institutions. The distribution of property, the composition and
spirit of society, had, through great part of Catholic Europe,
undergone a complete change. But the unchangeable Church was
still there.

Some future historian, as able and temperate as Professor Ranke,
will, we hope, trace the progress of the Catholic revival of the
nineteenth century. We feel that we are drawing too near our own
time, and that, if we go on, we shall be in danger of saying much
which may be supposed to indicate, and which will certainly
excite, angry feelings. We will, therefore, make only one more
observation, which, in our opinion, is deserving of serious

During the eighteenth century, the influence of the Church of
Rome was constantly on the decline. Unbelief made extensive
conquests in all the Catholic countries of Europe, and in some
countries obtained a complete ascendency. The Papacy was at
length brought so low as to be an object of derision to infidels,
and of pity rather than of hatred to Protestants. During the
nineteenth century, this fallen Church has been gradually rising
from her depressed state and reconquering her old dominion. No
person who calmly reflects on what, within the last few years,
has passed in Spain, in Italy, in South America, in Ireland, in
the Netherlands, in Prussia, even in France, can doubt that the
power of this Church over the hearts and minds of men, is now
greater far than it was when the Encyclopaedia and the
Philosophical Dictionary appeared. It is surely remarkable, that
neither the moral revolution of the eighteenth century, nor the
moral counter-revolution of the nineteenth, should, in any
perceptible degree, have added to the domain of Protestantism.
During the former period, whatever was lost to Catholicism was
lost also to Christianity; during the latter, whatever was
regained by Christianity in Catholic countries was regained also
by Catholicism. We should naturally have expected that many
minds, on the way from superstition to infidelity, or on the way
back from infidelity to superstition, would have stopped at an
intermediate point. Between the doctrines taught in the schools
of the Jesuits, and those which were maintained at the little
supper parties of the Baron Holbach, there is a vast interval, in
which the human mind, it should seem, might find for itself some
resting-place more satisfactory than either of the two extremes.
And at the time of the Reformation, millions found such a
resting-place. Whole nations then renounced Popery without
ceasing to believe in a first cause, in a future life, or in the
Divine mission of Jesus. In the last century, on the other hand,
when a Catholic renounced his belief in the real Presence, it was
a thousand to one that he renounced his belief in the Gospel too;
and, when the reaction took place, with belief in the Gospel came
back belief in the real presence.

We by no means venture to deduce from these phenomena any general
law; but we think it a most remarkable fact, that no Christian
nation, which did not adopt the principles of the Reformation
before the end of the sixteenth century, should ever have adopted
them. Catholic communities have, since that time, become infidel
and become Catholic again; but none has become Protestant.

Here we close this hasty sketch of one of the most important
portions of the history of mankind. Our readers will have great
reason to feel obliged to us if we have interested them
sufficiently to induce them to peruse Professor Ranke's book. We
will only caution them against the French translation, a
performance which, in our opinion, is just as discreditable to
the moral character of the person from whom it proceeds as a
false affidavit or a forged bill of exchange would have been, and
advise them to study either the original, or the English version,
in which the sense and spirit of the original are admirably

(January 1833)

History of the War of the Succession in Spain. By LORD MAHON.
8vo. London: 1832.

The days when Miscellanies in Prose and Verse by a Person of
Honour, and Romances of M. Scuderi, done into English by a Person
of Quality, were attractive to readers and profitable to
booksellers, have long gone by. The literary privileges once
enjoyed by lords are as obsolete as their right to kill the
king's deer on their way to Parliament, or as their old remedy of
scandalum magnatum. Yet we must acknowledge that, though our
political opinions are by no means aristocratical, we always feel
kindly disposed towards noble authors. Industry, and a taste for
intellectual pleasures, are peculiarly respectable in those who
can afford to be idle and who have every temptation to be
dissipated. It is impossible not to wish success to a man who,
finding himself placed, without any exertion or any merit on his
part, above the mass of society, voluntarily descends from his
eminence in search of distinctions which he may justly call his

This is, we think, the second appearance of Lord Mahon in the
character of an author. His first book was creditable to him, but
was in every respect inferior to the work which now lies before
us. He has undoubtedly some of the most valuable qualities of a
historian, great diligence in examining authorities, great
judgment in weighing testimony, and great impartiality in
estimating characters. We are not aware that he has in any
instance forgotten the duties belonging to his literary functions
in the feelings of a kinsman. He does no more than justice to his
ancestor Stanhope; he does full justice to Stanhope's enemies and
rivals. His narrative is very perspicuous, and is also entitled
to the praise, seldom, we grieve to say, deserved by modern
writers, of being very concise. It must be admitted, however,
that, with many of the best qualities of a literary veteran, he
has some of the faults of a literary novice. He has not yet
acquired a great command of words. His style is seldom easy, and
is now and then unpleasantly stiff. He is so bigoted a purist
that he transforms the Abbe d'Estrees into an Abbot. We do not
like to see French words introduced into English composition;
but, after all, the first law of writing, that law to which all
other laws are subordinate, is this, that the words employed
shall be such as convey to the reader the meaning of the writer.
Now an Abbot is the head of a religious house; an Abbe is quite a
different sort of person. It is better undoubtedly to use an
English word than a French word; but it is better to use a French
word than to misuse an English word.

Lord Mahon is also a little too fond of uttering moral
reflections in a style too sententious and oracular. We shall
give one instance: "Strange as it seems, experience shows that we
usually feel far more animosity against those whom we have
injured than against those who injure us: and this remark holds
good with every degree of intellect, with every class of fortune,
with a prince or a peasant, a stripling or an elder, a hero or a
prince." This remark might have seemed strange at the Court of
Nimrod or Chedorlaomer; but it has now been for many generations
considered as a truism rather than a paradox. Every boy has
written on the thesis "Odisse quem loeseris." Scarcely any lines
in English poetry are better known than that vigorous couplet,

"Forgiveness to the injured does belong;
But they ne'er pardon who have done the wrong."

The historians and philosophers have quite done with this maxim,
and have abandoned it, like other maxims which have lost their
gloss, to bad novelists, by whom it will very soon be worn to

It is no more than justice to say that the faults of Lord Mahon's
book are precisely the faults which time seldom fails to cure,
and that the book, in spite of those faults, is a valuable
addition to our historical literature.

Whoever wishes to be well acquainted with the morbid anatomy of
governments, whoever wishes to know how great states may be made
feeble and wretched, should study the history of Spain. The
empire of Philip the Second was undoubtedly one of the most
powerful and splendid that ever existed in the world. In Europe,
he ruled Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands on both sides of the
Rhine, Franche Comte, Roussillon, the Milanese, and the Two
Sicilies. Tuscany, Parma, and the other small states of Italy,
were as completely dependent on him as the Nizam and the Rajah of
Berar now are on the East India Company. In Asia, the King of
Spain was master of the Philippines and of all those rich
settlements which the Portuguese had made on the coast of Malabar
and Coromandel, in the Peninsula of Malacca, and in the Spice-
islands of the Eastern Archipelago. In America his dominions
extended on each side of the equator into the temperate zone.
There is reason to believe that his annual revenue amounted, in
the season of his greatest power, to a sum near ten times as
large as that which England yielded to Elizabeth. He had a
standing army of fifty thousand excellent troops, at a time when
England had not a single battalion in constant pay. His ordinary
naval force consisted of a hundred and forty galleys. He held,
what no other prince in modern times has held, the dominion both
of the land and of the sea. During the greater part of his reign,
he was supreme on both elements. His soldiers marched up to the
capital of France; his ships menaced the shores of England.

It is no exaggeration to say that, during several years, his
power over Europe was greater than even that of Napoleon. The
influence of the French conqueror never extended beyond low-water
mark. The narrowest strait was to his power what it was of old
believed that a running stream was to the sorceries of a witch.
While his army entered every metropolis from Moscow to Lisbon,
the English fleets blockaded every port from Dantzic to Trieste.
Sicily, Sardinia, Majorca, Guernsey, enjoyed security through the
whole course of a war which endangered every throne on the
Continent. The victorious and imperial nation which had filled
its museums with the spoils of Antwerp, of Florence, and of Rome,
was suffering painfully from the want of luxuries which use had
made necessaries. While pillars and arches were rising to
commemorate the French conquests, the conquerors were trying to
manufacture coffee out of succory and sugar out of beet-root. The
influence of Philip on the Continent was as great as that of
Napoleon. The Emperor of Germany was his kinsman. France, torn by
religious dissensions, was never a formidable opponent, and was
sometimes a dependent ally. At the same time, Spain had what
Napoleon desired in vain, ships, colonies, and commerce. She long
monopolised the trade of America and of the Indian Ocean. All the
gold of the West, and all the spices of the East, were received
and distributed by her. During many years of war, her commerce
was interrupted only by the predatory enterprises of a few roving
privateers. Even after the defeat of the Armada, English
statesmen continued to look with great dread on the maritime
power of Philip. "The King of Spain," said the Lord Keeper to the
two Houses in 1593, "since he hath usurped upon the Kingdom of
Portugal, hath thereby grown mighty, by gaining the East Indies:
so as, how great soever he was before, he is now thereby
manifestly more great: . . . He keepeth a navy armed to impeach
all trade of merchandise from England to Gascoigne and Guienne
which he attempted to do this last vintage; so as he is now
become as a frontier enemy to all the west of England, as well as
all the south parts, as Sussex, Hampshire, and the Isle of Wight.
Yea, by means of his interest in St. Maloes, a port full of
shipping for the war, he is a dangerous neighbour to the Queen's
isles of Jersey and Guernsey, ancient possessions of this Crown,
and never conquered in the greatest wars with France."

The ascendency which Spain then had in Europe was, in one sense,
well deserved. It was an ascendency which had been gained by
unquestioned superiority in all the arts of policy and of war. In
the sixteenth century, Italy was not more decidedly the land of
the fine arts, Germany was not more decidedly the land of bold
theological speculation, than Spain was the land of statesmen and
of soldiers. The character which Virgil has ascribed to his
countrymen might have been claimed by the grave and haughty
chiefs, who surrounded the throne of Ferdinand the Catholic, and
of his immediate successors. That majestic art, "regere imperio
populos," was not better understood by the Romans in the proudest
days of their republic, than by Gonsalvo and Ximenes, Cortes and
Alva. The skill of the Spanish diplomatists was renowned
throughout Europe. In England the name of Gondomar is still
remembered. The sovereign nation was unrivalled both in regular
and irregular warfare. The impetuous chivalry of France, the
serried phalanx of Switzerland, were alike found wanting when
brought face to face with the Spanish infantry. In the wars of
the New World, where something different from ordinary strategy
was required in the general and something different from ordinary
discipline in the soldier, where it was every day necessary to
meet by some new expedient the varying tactics of a barbarous
enemy, the Spanish adventurers, sprung from the common people,
displayed a fertility of resource, and a talent for negotiation
and command, to which history scarcely affords a parallel.

The Castilian of those times was to the Italian what the Roman,
in the days of the greatness of Rome, was to the Greek. The
conqueror had less ingenuity, less taste, less delicacy of
perception than the conquered; but far more pride, firmness, and
courage, a more solemn demeanour, a stronger sense of honour. The
subject had more subtlety in speculation, the ruler more energy
in action. The vices of the former were those of a coward; the
vices of the latter were those of a tyrant. It may be added, that
the Spaniard, like the Roman, did not disdain to study the arts
and the language of those whom he oppressed. A revolution took
place in the literature of Spain, not unlike that revolution
which, as Horace tells us, took place in the poetry of Latium:
"Capta ferum victorem cepit." The slave took prisoner the
enslaver. The old Castilian ballads gave place to sonnets in the
style of Petrarch, and to heroic poems in the stanza of Ariosto,
as the national songs of Rome were driven out by imitations of
Theocritus, and translations from Menander.

In no modern society, not even in England during the reign of
Elizabeth, has there been so great a number of men eminent at
once in literature and in the pursuits of active life, as Spain
produced during the sixteenth century. Almost every distinguished
writer was also distinguished as a soldier or a politician.
Boscan bore arms with high reputation. Garcilaso de Vega, the
author of the sweetest and most graceful pastoral poem of modern
times, after a short but splendid military career, fell sword in
hand at the head of a storming party. Alonzo de Ercilla bore a
conspicuous part in that war of Arauco, which he afterwards
celebrated in one of the best heroic poems that Spain has
produced. Hurtado de Mendoza, whose poems have been compared to
those of Horace, and whose charming little novel is evidently the
model of Gil-Blas, has been handed down to us by history as one
of the sternest of those iron proconsuls who were employed by the
House of Austria to crush the lingering public spirit of Italy.
Lope sailed in the Armada; Cervantes was wounded at Lepanto.

It is curious to consider with how much awe our ancestors in
those times regarded a Spaniard. He was, in their apprehension, a
kind of daemon, horribly malevolent, but withal most sagacious
and powerful. "They be verye wyse and politicke," says an honest
Englishman, in a memorial addressed to Mary, "and can, thorowe
ther wysdome, reform and brydell theyr owne natures for a tyme,
and applye their conditions to the maners of those men with whom
they meddell gladlye by friendshippe; whose mischievous maners a
man shall never knowe untyll he come under ther subjection: but
then shall he parfectlye parceyve and fele them: which thynge I
praye God England never do: for in dissimulations untyll they
have ther purposes, and afterwards in oppression and tyrarnnye,
when they can obtayne them, they do exceed all other nations upon
the earthe." This is just such language as Arminius would have
used about the Romans, or as an Indian statesman of our times
might use about the English. It is the language of a man burning
with hatred, but cowed by those whom he hates; and painfully
sensible of their superiority, not only in power, but in

But how art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer son of the
morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, that didst weaken
the nations! If we overleap a hundred years, and look at Spain
towards the close of the seventeenth century, what a change do we
find! The contrast is as great as that which the Rome of
Gallienus and Honorius presents to the Rome of Marius and Caesar.
Foreign conquest had begun to eat into every part of that
gigantic monarchy on which the sun never set. Holland was gone,
and Portugal, and Artois, and Roussillon, and Franche Comte. In
the East, the empire founded by the Dutch far surpassed in wealth
and splendour that which their old tyrants still retained. In the
West, England had seized, and still held, settlements in the
midst of the Mexican sea.

The mere loss of territory was, however, of little moment. The
reluctant obedience of distant provinces generally costs more
than it is worth. Empires which branch out widely are often more
flourishing for a little timely pruning. Adrian acted judiciously
when he abandoned the conquests of Trajan; and England was never
so rich, so great, so formidable to foreign princes, so
absolutely mistress of the sea, as since the loss of her American
colonies. The Spanish Empire was still, in outward appearance,
great and magnificent. The European dominions subject to the last
feeble Prince of the House of Austria were far more extensive
than those of Lewis the Fourteenth. The American dependencies of
the Castilian Crown still extended far to the North of Cancer and
far to the South of Capricorn. But within this immense body there
was an incurable decay, an utter want of tone, an utter
prostration of strength. An ingenious and diligent population,
eminently skilled in arts and manufactures, had been driven into
exile by stupid and remorseless bigots. The glory of the Spanish
pencil had departed with Velasquez and Murillo. The splendid age
of Spanish literature had closed with Solis and Calderon. During
the seventeenth century many states had formed great military
establishments. But the Spanish army, so formidable under the
command of Alva and Farnese, had dwindled away to a few thousand
men, ill paid and ill disciplined. England, Holland, and France
had great navies. But the Spanish navy was scarcely equal to the
tenth part of that mighty force which, in the time of Philip the
Second, had been the terror of the Atlantic and the
Mediterranean. The arsenals were deserted. The magazines were
unprovided. The frontier fortresses were ungarrisoned. The police
was utterly inefficient for the protection of the people. Murders
were committed in the face of day with perfect impunity. Bravoes
and discarded serving-men, with swords at their sides,. swaggered
every day through the most public streets and squares of the
capital, disturbing the public peace, and setting at defiance the
ministers of justice. The finances were in frightful disorder.
The people paid much. The Government received little. The
American viceroys and the farmers of the revenue became rich,
while the merchants broke, while the peasantry starved, while the
body-servants of the sovereign remained unpaid, while the
soldiers of the royal guard repaired daily to the doors of
convents, and battled there with the crowd of beggars for a
porringer of broth and a morsel of bread. Every remedy which was
tried aggravated the disease. The currency was altered; and this
frantic measure produced its never-failing effects. It destroyed
all credit, and increased the misery which it was intended to
relieve. The American gold, to use the words of Ortiz, was to the
necessities of the State but as a drop of water to the lips of a
man raging with thirst. Heaps of unopened despatches accumulated
in the offices, while the ministers were concerting with
bedchamber-women and Jesuits the means of tripping up each other.
Every foreign power could plunder and insult with impunity the
heir of Charles the Fifth. Into such a state had the mighty
kingdom of Spain fallen, while one of its smallest dependencies,
a country not so large as the province of Estremadura or
Andalusia, situated under an inclement sky, and preserved only by
artificial means from the inroads of the ocean, had become a
power of the first class, and treated on terms of equality with
the Courts of London and Versailles.

The manner in which Lord Mahon explains the financial situation
of Spain by no means satisfies us. "It will be found," says he,
"that those individuals deriving their chief income from mines,
whose yearly produce is uncertain and varying, and seems rather
to spring from fortune than to follow industry, are usually
careless, unthrifty, and irregular in their expenditure. The
example of Spain might tempt us to apply the same remark to
states." Lord Mahon would find it difficult, we suspect, to make
out his analogy. Nothing could be more uncertain and varying than
the gains and losses of those who were in the habit of putting
into the State lotteries. But no part of the public income was
more certain than that which was derived from the lotteries. We
believe that this case is very similar to that of the American
mines. Some veins of ore exceeded expectation; some fell below
it. Some of the private speculators drew blanks, and others
gained prizes. But the revenue of the State depended, not on any
particular vein, but on the whole annual produce of two great
continents. This annual produce seems to have been almost
constantly on the increase during the seventeenth century. The
Mexican mines were, through the reigns of Philip the Fourth and
Charles the Second, in a steady course of improvement; and in
South America, though the district of Potosi was not so
productive as formerly, other places more than made up for the
deficiency. We very much doubt whether Lord Mahon can prove that
the income which the Spanish Government derived from the mines of
America fluctuated more than the income derived from the internal
taxes of Spain itself.

All the causes of the decay of Spain resolve themselves into one
cause, bad government. The valour, the intelligence, the energy
which, at the close of the fifteenth and the beginning of the
sixteenth century, had made the Spaniards the first nation in the
world, were the fruits of the old institutions of Castile and
Arragon, institutions eminently favourable to public liberty.
These institutions the first Princes of the House of Austria
attacked and almost wholly destroyed. Their successors expiated
the crime. The effects of a change from good government to bad
government are not fully felt for some time after the change has
taken place. The talents and the virtues which a good
constitution generates may for a time survive that constitution.
Thus the reigns of princes, who have established absolute
monarchy on the ruins of popular forms of government often shine
in history with a peculiar brilliancy. But when a generation or
two has passed away, then comes signally to pass that which was
written by Montesquieu, that despotic governments resemble those
savages who cut down the tree in order to get at the fruit.
During the first years of tyranny, is reaped the harvest sown
during the last years of liberty. Thus the Augustan age was rich
in great minds formed in the generation of Cicero and Caesar. The
fruits of the policy of Augustus were reserved for posterity.
Philip the Second was the heir of the Cortes and of the Justiza
Mayor; and they left him a nation which seemed able to conquer
all the world. What Philip left to his successors is well known.

The shock which the great religious schism of the sixteenth
century gave to Europe, was scarcely felt in Spain. In England,
Germany, Holland, France, Denmark, Switzerland, Sweden, that
shock had produced, with some temporary evil, much durable good.
The principles of the Reformation had triumphed in some of those
countries. The Catholic Church had maintained its ascendency in
others. But though the event had not been the same in all, all
had been agitated by the conflict. Even in France, in Southern
Germany, and in the Catholic cantons of Switzerland, the public
mind had been stirred to its inmost depths. The hold of ancient
prejudice had been somewhat loosened. The Church of Rome, warned
by the danger which she had narrowly escaped, had, in those parts
of her dominion, assumed a milder and more liberal character. She
sometimes condescended to submit her high pretensions to the
scrutiny of reason, and availed herself more sparingly than in
former times of the aid of the secular arm. Even when persecution
was employed, it was not persecution in the worst and most
frightful shape. The severities of Lewis the Fourteenth, odious
as they were, cannot be compared with those which, at the first
dawn of the Reformation, had been inflicted on the heretics in
many parts of Europe.

The only effect which the Reformation had produced in Spain had
been to make the Inquisition more vigilant and the commonalty
more bigoted. The times of refreshing came to all neighbouring
countries. One people alone remained, like the fleece of the
Hebrew warrior, dry in the midst of that benignant and
fertilising dew. While other nations were putting away childish
things, the Spaniard still thought as a child and understood as a
child. Among the men of the seventeenth century, he was the man
of the fifteenth century or of a still darker period, delighted
to behold an Auto da fe, and ready to volunteer on a Crusade.

The evils produced by a bad government and a bad religion, seemed
to have attained their greatest height during the last years of
the seventeenth century. While the kingdom was in this deplorable
state, the King, Charles, second of the name, was hastening to an
early grave. His days had been few and evil. He had been
unfortunate in all his wars, in every part of his internal
administration, and in all his domestic relations. His first
wife, whom he tenderly loved, died very young. His second wife
exercised great influence over him, but seems to have been
regarded by him rather with fear than with love. He was
childless; and his constitution was so completely shattered that,
at little more than thirty years of age, he had given up all
hopes of posterity. His mind was even more distempered than his
body. He was sometimes sunk in listless melancholy, and
sometimes harassed by the wildest and most extravagant fancies.
He was not, however, wholly destitute of the feelings which
became his station. His sufferings were aggravated by the thought
that his own dissolution might not improbably be followed by the
dissolution of his empire.

Several princes laid claim to the succession. The King's eldest
sister had married Lewis the Fourteenth. The Dauphin would,
therefore, in the common course of inheritance, have succeeded to
the crown. But the Infanta had, at the time of her espousals,
solemnly renounced, in her own name, and in that of her
posterity, all claim to the succession. This renunciation had
been confirmed in due form by the Cortes. A younger sister of the
King had been the first wife of Leopold, Emperor of Germany. She
too had at her marriage renounced her claims to the Spanish
crown; but the Cortes had not sanctioned the renunciation, and it
was therefore considered as invalid by the Spanish jurists. The
fruit of this marriage was a daughter, who had espoused the
Elector of Bavaria. The Electoral Prince of Bavaria inherited her
claim to the throne of Spain. The Emperor Leopold was son of a
daughter of Philip the Third, and was therefore first cousin to
Charles. No renunciation whatever had been exacted from his
mother at the time of her marriage.

The question was certainly very complicated. That claim which,
according to the ordinary rules of inheritance, was the
strongest, had been barred by a contract executed in the most
binding form. The claim of the Electoral Prince of Bavaria was
weaker. But so also was the contract which bound him not to
prosecute his claim. The only party against whom no instrument of
renunciation could be produced was the party who, in respect of
blood, had the weakest claim of all.

As it was clear that great alarm would be excited throughout
Europe if either the Emperor or the Dauphin should become King of
Spain, each of those Princes offered to waive his pretensions in
favour of his second son, the Emperor, in favour of the Archduke
Charles, the Dauphin, in favour of Philip Duke of Anjou.

Soon after the peace of Ryswick, William the Third and Lewis the
Fourteenth determined to settle the question of the succession
without consulting either Charles or the Emperor. France,
England, and Holland, became parties to a treaty by which it was
stipulated that the Electoral Prince of Bavaria should succeed to
Spain, the Indies, and the Netherlands. The Imperial family were
to be bought off with the Milanese; and the Dauphin was to have
the Two Sicilies.

The great object of the King of Spain and of all his counsellors
was to avert the dismemberment of the monarchy. In the hope of
attaining this end, Charles determined to name a successor. A
will was accordingly framed by which the crown was bequeathed to
the Bavarian Prince. Unhappily, this will had scarcely been
signed when the Prince died. The question was again unsettled,
and presented greater difficulties than before.

A new Treaty of Partition was concluded between France, England,
and Holland. It was agreed that Spain, the Indies, and the
Netherlands, should descend to the Archduke Charles. In return
for this great concession made by the Bourbons to a rival house,
it was agreed that France should have the Milanese, or an
equivalent in a more commodious situation, The equivalent in view
was the province of Lorraine.

Arbuthnot, some years later, ridiculed the Partition Treaty with
exquisite humour and ingenuity. Everybody must remember his
description of the paroxysm of rage into which poor old Lord
Strutt fell, on hearing that his runaway servant Nick Frog, his
clothier John Bull, and his old enemy Lewis Baboon, had come with
quadrants, poles, and inkhorns, to survey his estate, and to draw
his will for him. Lord Mahon speaks of the arrangement with grave
severity. He calls it "an iniquitous compact, concluded without
the slightest reference to the welfare of the states so readily
parcelled and allotted; insulting to the pride of Spain, and
tending to strip that country of its hard-won conquests." The
most serious part of this charge would apply to half the treaties
which have been concluded in Europe quite as strongly as to the
Partition Treaty. What regard was shown in the Treaty of the
Pyrenees to the welfare of the people of Dunkirk and Roussillon,
in the Treaty of Nimeguen to the welfare of the people of Franche
Comte, in the Treaty of Utrecht to the welfare of the people of
Flanders, in the treaty of 1735 to the welfare of the people of
Tuscany? All Europe remembers, and our latest posterity will, we
fear, have reason to remember how coolly, at the last great
pacification of Christendom, the people of Poland, of Norway, of
Belgium, and of Lombardy, were allotted to masters whom they
abhorred. The statesmen who negotiated the Partition Treaty were
not so far beyond their age and ours in wisdom and virtue as to
trouble themselves much about the happiness of the people whom
they were apportioning among foreign rulers. But it will be
difficult to prove that the stipulations which Lord Mahon
condemns were in any respect unfavourable to the happiness of
those who were to be transferred to new sovereigns. The
Neapolitans would certainly have lost nothing by being given to
the Dauphin, or to the Great Turk. Addison, who visited Naples
about the time at which the Partition Treaty was signed, has left
us a frightful description of the misgovernment under which that
part of the Spanish Empire groaned. As to the people of Lorraine,
an union with France would have been the happiest event which
could have befallen them. Lewis was already their sovereign for
all purposes of cruelty and exaction. He had kept their country
during many years in his own hands. At the peace of Ryswick,
indeed, their Duke had been allowed to return. But the conditions
which had been imposed on him made him a mere vassal of France.

We cannot admit that the Treaty of Partition was objectionable
because it "tended to strip Spain of hard-won conquests." The
inheritance was so vast, and the claimants so mighty, that
without some dismemberment it was scarcely possible to make a
peaceable arrangement. If any dismemberment was to take place,
the best way of effecting it surely was to separate from the
monarchy those provinces which were at a great distance from
Spain, which were not Spanish in manners, in language, or in
feelings, which were both worse governed and less valuable than
the old kingdoms of Castile and Arragon, and which, having always
been governed by foreigners, would not be likely to feel acutely
the humiliation of being turned over from one master to another.

That England and Holland had a right to interfere is plain. The
question of the Spanish succession was not an internal question,
but an European question. And this Lord Mahon admits. He thinks
that when the evil had been done, and a French prince was
reigning at the Escurial, England and Holland were justified in
attempting, not merely to strip Spain of its remote dependencies,
but to conquer Spain itself; that they were justified in
attempting to put, not merely the passive Flemings and Italians,
but the reluctant Castilians and Asturians, under the dominion of
a stranger. The danger against which the Partition Treaty was
intended to guard was precisely the same danger which afterwards
was made the ground of war. It will be difficult to prove that a
danger which was sufficient to justify the war was insufficient
to justify the provisions of the treaty. If, as Lord Mahon
contends, it was better that Spain should be subjugated by main
force than that she should be governed by a Bourbon, it was
surely better that she should be deprived of Sicily and the
Milanese than that she should be governed by a Bourbon.

Whether the treaty was judiciously framed is quite another
question. We disapprove of the stipulations. But we disapprove of
them, not because we think them bad, but because we think that
there was no chance of their being executed. Lewis was the most
faithless of politicians. He hated the Dutch. He hated the
Government which the Revolution had established in England. He
had every disposition to quarrel with his new allies. It was
quite certain that he would not observe his engagements, if it
should be for his interest to violate them. Even if it should be
for his interest to observe them, it might well be doubted
whether the strongest and clearest interest would induce a man so
haughty and self-willed to co-operate heartily with two
governments which had always been the objects of his scorn and

When intelligence of the second Partition Treaty arrived at
Madrid, it roused to momentary energy the languishing ruler of a
languishing state. The Spanish ambassador at the Court of London
was directed to remonstrate with the Government of William; and
his remonstrances were so insolent that he was commanded to leave
England. Charles retaliated by dismissing the English and Dutch
ambassadors. The French King, though the chief author of the
Partition Treaty, succeeded in turning the whole wrath of Charles
and of the Spanish people from himself, and in directing it
against the two maritime powers. Those powers had now no agent at
Madrid. Their perfidious ally was at liberty to carry on his
intrigues unchecked; and he fully availed himself of this

A long contest was maintained with varying success by the
factions which surrounded the miserable King. On the side of the
Imperial family was the Queen, herself a Princess of that family.
With her were allied the confessor of the King, and most of the
ministers. On the other side were two of the most dexterous
politicians of that age, Cardinal Porto Carrero, Archbishop of
Toledo, and Harcourt, the ambassador of Lewis.

Harcourt was a noble specimen of the French aristocracy in the
days of its highest splendour, a finished gentleman, a brave
soldier, and a skilful diplomatist. His courteous and insinuating
manners, his Parisian vivacity tempered with Castilian gravity,
made him the favourite of the whole Court. He became intimate
with the grandees. He caressed the clergy. He dazzled the
multitude by his magnificent style of living. The prejudices
which the people of Madrid had conceived against the French
character, the vindictive feelings generated during centuries of
national rivalry, gradually yielded to his arts; while the
Austrian ambassador, a surly, pompous, niggardly German, made
himself and his country more and more unpopular every day.

Harcourt won over the Court and the city: Porto Carrero managed
the King. Never were knave and dupe better suited to each other.
Charles was sick, nervous, and extravagantly superstitious. Porto
Carrero had learned in the exercise of his profession the art of
exciting and soothing such minds; and he employed that art with
the calm and demure cruelty which is the characteristic of wicked
and ambitious priests.

He first supplanted the confessor. The state of the poor King,
during the conflict between his two spiritual advisers, was
horrible. At one time he was induced to believe that his malady
was the same with that of the wretches described in the New
Testament, who dwelt among the tombs, whom no chains could bind,
and whom no man dared to approach. At another time a sorceress
who lived in the mountains of the Asturias was consulted about
his malady. Several persons were accused of having bewitched him.
Porto Carrero recommended the appalling rite of exorcism, which
was actually performed. The ceremony made the poor King more
nervous and miserable than ever. But it served the turn of the
Cardinal, who, after much secret trickery, succeeded in casting
out, not the devil, but the confessor.

The next object was to get rid of the ministers. Madrid was
supplied with provisions by a monopoly. The Government looked
after this most delicate concern as it looked after everything
else. The partisans of the House of Bourbon took advantage of the
negligence of the administration. On a sudden the supply of food
failed. Exorbitant prices were demanded. The people rose. The
royal residence was surrounded by an immense multitude. The Queen
harangued them. The priests exhibited the host. All was in vain.
It was necessary to awaken the King from his uneasy sleep, and to
carry him to the balcony. There a solemn promise was given that
the unpopular advisers of the Crown should be forthwith
dismissed. The mob left the palace and proceeded to pull down the
houses of the ministers. The adherents of the Austrian line were
thus driven from power, and the government was intrusted to the
creatures of Porto Carrero. The King left the city in which he
had suffered so cruel an insult for the magnificent retreat of
the Escurial. Here his hypochondriac fancy took a new turn. Like
his ancestor Charles the Fifth, he was haunted by the strange
curiosity to pry into the secrets of that grave to which he was
hastening. In the cemetery which Philip the Second had formed
beneath the pavement of the church of St. Lawrence, reposed three
generations of Castilian princes. Into these dark vaults the
unhappy monarch descended by torchlight, and penetrated to that
superb and gloomy chamber where, round the great black crucifix,
were ranged the coffins of the kings and queens of Spain. There
he commanded his attendants to open the massy chests of bronze in
which the relics of his predecessors decayed. He looked on the
ghastly spectacle with little emotion till the coffin of his
first wife was unclosed, and she appeared before him--such was
the skill of the embalmer--in all her well-remembered beauty. He
cast one glance on those beloved features, unseen for eighteen
years, those features over which corruption seemed to have no
power, and rushed from the vault, exclaiming, "She is with God;
and I shall soon be with her." The awful sight completed the ruin
of his body and mind. The Escurial became hateful to him; and he
hastened to Aranjuez. But the shades and waters of that delicious
island-garden, so fondly celebrated in the sparkling verse of
Calderon, brought no solace to their unfortunate master. Having
tried medicine, exercise, and amusement in, vain, he returned to
Madrid to die.

He was now beset on every side by the bold and skilful agents of
the House of Bourbon. The leading politicians of his Court
assured him that Lewis, and Lewis alone, was sufficiently
powerful to preserve the Spanish monarchy undivided, and that
Austria would be utterly unable to prevent the Treaty of
Partition from being carried into effect. Some celebrated lawyers
gave it as their opinion that the act of renunciation executed
by the late Queen of France ought to be construed according to
the spirit, and not according to the letter. The letter
undoubtedly excluded the French princes. The spirit was merely
this, that ample security should be taken against the union of
the French and Spanish Crowns on one head.

In all probability, neither political nor legal reasonings would
have sufficed to overcome the partiality which Charles felt for
the House of Austria. There had always been a close connection
between the two great royal lines which sprang from the marriage
of Philip and Juana. Both had always regarded the French as their
natural enemies. It was necessary to have recourse to religious
terrors; and Porto Carrero employed those terrors with true
professional skill. The King's life was drawing to a close. Would
the most Catholic prince commit a great sin on the brink of the
grave? And what could be a greater sin than, from an unreasonable
attachment to a family name, from an unchristian antipathy to a
rival house, to set aside the rightful heir of an immense
monarchy? The tender conscience and the feeble intellect of
Charles were strongly wrought upon by these appeals. At length
Porto Carrero ventured on a master-stroke. He advised Charles to
apply for counsel to the Pope. The King, who, in the simplicity
of his heart, considered the successor of St. Peter as an
infallible guide in spiritual matters, adopted the suggestion;
and Porto Carrero, who knew that his Holiness was a mere tool of
France, awaited with perfect confidence the result of the
application. In the answer which arrived from Rome, the King was
solemnly reminded of the great account which he was soon to
render, and cautioned against the flagrant injustice which he was
tempted to commit. He was assured that the right was with the
House of Bourbon, and reminded that his own salvation ought to be
dearer to him than the House of Austria. Yet he still continued
irresolute. His attachment to his family, his aversion to France,
were not to be overcome even by Papal authority. At length he
thought himself actually dying. Then the cardinal redoubled his
efforts. Divine after divine, well tutored for the occasion, was
brought to the bed of the trembling penitent. He was dying in the
commission of known sin. He was defrauding his relatives. He was
bequeathing civil war to his people. He yielded, and signed that
memorable testament, the cause of many calamities to Europe. As
he affixed his name to the instrument, he burst into tears.
"God," he said, "gives kingdoms and takes them away. I am already
one of the dead."

The will was kept secret during the short remainder of his life.
On the third of November 1700 he expired. All Madrid crowded to
the palace. The gates were thronged. The antechamber was filled
with ambassadors and grandees, eager to learn what dispositions
the deceased sovereign had made. At length the folding doors were
flung open. The Duke of Abrantes came forth, and announced that
the whole Spanish monarchy was bequeathed to Philip, Duke of
Anjou. Charles had directed that, during the interval which might
elapse between his death and the arrival of his successor, the
government should be administered by a council, of which Porto
Carrero was the chief member.

Lewis acted, as the English ministers might have guessed that he
would act. With scarcely the show of hesitation, he broke through
all the obligations of the Partition Treaty, and accepted for his
grandson the splendid legacy of Charles. The new sovereign
hastened to take possession of his dominions. The whole Court of
France accompanied him to Sceaux. His brothers escorted him to
that frontier which, as they weakly imagined, was to be a
frontier no longer. "The Pyrenees," said Lewis, "have ceased to
exist." Those very Pyrenees, a few years later, were the theatre
of a war between the heir of Lewis and the prince whom France was
now sending to govern Spain.

If Charles had ransacked Europe to find a successor whose moral
and intellectual character resembled his own, he could not have
chosen better. Philip was not so sickly as his predecessor, but
he was quite as weak, as indolent, and as superstitious; he very
soon became quite as hypochondriacal and eccentric; and he was
even more uxorious. He was indeed a husband of ten thousand. His
first object, when he became King of Spain, was to procure a
wife. From the day of his marriage to the day of her death, his
first object was to have her near him, and to do what she wished.
As soon as his wife died, his first object was to procure
another. Another was found, as unlike the former as possible. But
she was a wife; and Philip was content. Neither by day nor by
night, neither in sickness nor in health, neither in time of
business nor in time of relaxation, did he ever suffer her to be
absent from him for half an hour. His mind was naturally feeble;
and he had received an enfeebling education. He had been brought
up amidst the dull magnificence of Versailles. His grandfather
was as imperious and as ostentatious in his intercourse with the
royal family as in public acts. All those who grew up immediately
under the eye of Lewis had the manners of persons who had never
known what it was to be at ease. They were all taciturn, shy, and
awkward. In all of them, except the Duke of Burgundy, the evil
went further than the manners. The Dauphin, the Duke Of Berri,
Philip of Anjou, were men of insignificant characters.

They had no energy, no force of will. They had been so little
accustomed to judge or to act for themselves that implicit
dependence had become necessary to their comfort. The new King of
Spain, emancipated from control, resembled that wretched German
captive who, when the irons which he had worn for years were
knocked off, fell prostrate on the floor of his prison. The
restraints which had enfeebled the mind of the young Prince were
required to support it. Till he had a wife he could do nothing;
and when he had a wife he did whatever she chose.

While this lounging, moping boy was on his way to Madrid, his
grandfather was all activity. Lewis had no reason to fear a
contest with the Empire single-handed. He made vigorous
preparations to encounter Leopold. He overawed the States-General
by means of a great army. He attempted to soothe the English
Government by fair professions. William was not deceived. He
fully returned the hatred of Lewis; and, if he had been free to
act according to his own inclinations, he would have declared war
as soon as the contents of the will were known. But he was bound
by constitutional restraints. Both his person and his measures
were unpopular in England. His secluded life and his cold manners
disgusted a people accustomed to the graceful affability of
Charles the Second. His foreign accent and his foreign
attachments were offensive to the national prejudices. His reign
had been a season of distress, following a season of rapidly
increasing prosperity. The burdens of the late war and the
expense of restoring the currency had been severely felt. Nine
clergymen out of ten were Jacobites at heart, and had sworn
allegiance to the new dynasty, only in order to save their
benefices. A large proportion of the country gentlemen belonged
to the same party. The whole body of agricultural proprietors was
hostile to that interest which the creation of the national debt
had brought into notice, and which was believed to be peculiarly
favoured by the Court, the monied interest. The middle classes
were fully determined to keep out James and his family. But they
regarded William only as the less of two evils; and, as long as
there was no imminent danger of a counter-revolution, were
disposed to thwart and mortify the sovereign by whom they were,
nevertheless, ready to stand, in case of necessity, with their
lives and fortunes. They were sullen and dissatisfied. "There
was," as Somers expressed it in a remarkable letter to William,
"a deadness and want of spirit in the nation universally."

Everything in England was going on as Lewis could have wished.
The leaders of the Whig party had retired from power, and were
extremely unpopular on account of the unfortunate issue of the
Partition Treaty. The Tories, some of whom still cast a lingering
look towards St. Germains, were in office, and had a decided
majority in the House of Commons. William was so much embarrassed
by the state of parties in England that he could not venture to
make war on the House of Bourbon. He was suffering under a
complication of severe and incurable diseases. There was every
reason to believe that a few months would dissolve the fragile
tie which bound up that feeble body with that ardent and
unconquerable soul. If Lewis could succeed in preserving peace
for a short time, it was probable that all his vast designs would
be securely accomplished. Just at this crisis, the most important
crisis of his life, his pride and his passions hurried him into
an error, which undid all that forty years of victory and
intrigue had done, which produced the dismemberment of the
kingdom of his grandson, and brought invasion, bankruptcy, and
famine on his own.

James the Second died at St. Germains. Lewis paid him a farewell
visit, and was so much moved by the solemn parting, and by the
grief of the exiled queen, that, losing sight of all
considerations of policy, and actuated, as it should seem, merely
by compassion and by a not ungenerous vanity, he acknowledged the
Prince of Wales as King of England.

The indignation which the Castilians had felt when they heard
that three foreign powers had undertaken to regulate the Spanish
succession was nothing to the rage with which the English learned
that their good neighbour had taken the trouble to provide them
with a king. Whigs and Tories joined in condemning the
proceedings of the French Court. The cry for war was raised by
the city of London, and echoed and re-echoed from every corner of
the realm. William saw that his time was come. Though his wasted
and suffering body could hardly move without support, his spirit
was as energetic and resolute as when, at twenty-three, he bade

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