Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

IGNORANT CENSORS.

205

[ocr errors]

thrice, at Rome, at Venice and again at Rome, and had obtained the Pope's approval, and yet the license for reprinting it is never issued. The censors were not paid; and in addition to being overworked and over-burdened with responsibility, they were rarely men of adequate learning. In a letter from Bartolommeo de Valverde, chaplain to Philip II., under date 1584, we read plain-spoken complaints against these subordinates. Unacquainted with literature, they discharge the function of condemning books they cannot understand. Without knowledge of Greek or Hebrew, and animated by a prejudiced hostility against authors, they take the easy course of proscribing what they feel incapable of judging. In this way the works of many sainted writers and the useful commentaries made by Jews have been suppressed. A memorial to Sirleto, presented by Cardinal Gabriele Paleotti, points out the negligence of the Index-makers and their superficial discharge of onerous duties, praying that in future men of learning and honesty should be employed, and that they should receive payment for their labors.' These are the expostulations addressed by faithful Catholics, engaged in literary work demanded by the Vatican, to'a Cardinal who was the soul and mover of the Congregation. They do not question the salutary nature of the Index, but only call attention to the incapacity and ignorance of its unpaid officials

Dejɔb, De I Infuence, etc. p. 6o. • Id. op. cit. p. 78.

• Id. op. cil. p. 76.

Meanwhile, it was no easy matter to appoint responsible and learned scholars to the post. The inefficient censors proceeded with their work of destruction and suppression. A commentator on a Greek Father, or the Psalms, was corrected by an ignoramus who knew neither Greek nor Hebrew, anxious to discover petty collisions with the Vulgate, and

eager to create annoyances for the author. Latino Latini, one of the students employed by the Vatican, refused his name to an edition of Cyprian which he had carefully prepared with far more than the average erudition, because it had been changed throughout by the substitution of bad readings for good, in defiance of MS. authority, with a view of preserving a literal agreement with the Vulgate. Sigonius, another of the Vatican students, was instructed to prepare certain text-books by Cardinal Paleotti. These were an Ecclesiastical History, a treatise on the Hebrew Commonwealth, and an edition of Sulpicius Severus. The MSS. were returned to him, accused of unsound doctrine, and scrawled over with such remarks as false,' absurd."? In addition to the intolerable delays of the Censure, and the arrogant inadequacy of its officials, learned men suffered from the pettiest persecution at the hands of informers. The Inquisitors themselves were often spies and persons of base origin. •The Roman Court,' says Sarpi, being anxious that the office of the Inquisition should not suffer through Dejob, op. cit. p. 74.

• Id. op. cit. p. 54

DENUNCIATION OF AUTHORS.

207

negligence in its ministers, has confided these affairs to individuals without occupation, and whose mean estate renders them proud of their official position.” It was not to be expected that such people should discharge their duties with intelligence and scrupu. lous equity. Pius V., himself an incorruptible Inquisitor, had to condemn one of his lieutenants for corruption or extortion of money by menaces.? There was still another source of peril and annoyance to which scholars were exposed. Their comrades, engaged in similar pursuits, not unfrequently wreaked private spite by denouncing them to the Congregation.' Van Linden indicated heresies in Osorius, Giovius, Albertus Pighius. The Jesuit Francesco Torres accused Maës, and threatened Latini. Sigonius obtained a license for his History of Bologna, but could not print it, owing to the delation of secret enemies. Baronius, when he had finished his Martyrology, found that a cabal had raised insuperable obstacles in the way of its publication. I have been careful to select only examples of notoriously Catholic authors, men who were in the pay and under the special protection of the Vatican. How it fared with less favored scholars, may be left to the imagination. We are not astonished to find a man like Latini writing thus from Rome to Mais during the pontificate of Paul IV.

• Discorso dell' Origine, etc. dell' Inquisizione,' opp. vol. iv. p. 34 • Mutinelli, Storia Arcana, vol. i. p. 377. • Dejob, op. cil: pp. 53.57. • Id. op. cit. p 75

• Have you not heard of the peril which threatens the very existence of books ? What are you dreaming of, when now that almost every published book is interdicted, you still think of making new ones? Here, as I imagine, there is no one who for many years to come will dare to write except on business or to distant friends. An Index has been issued of the works which none may possess under pain of excommunication; and the number of them is so great that very few indeed are left to us, especially of those which have been published in Germany. This shipwreck, this holocaust of books will stop the production of them in your country also, if I do not err, and will teach editors to be upon their guard. As you love me and yourself, sit and look at your bookcases without opening their doors, and beware lest the very cracks let emanations come to you from those forbidden fruits of learning. This letter was written in 1559, when Paul proscribed sixty-one presses, and prohibited the perusal of any work that issued from them. He afterwards withdrew this interdict. But the Index did not stop its work of extirpation.

Another embarrassment which afflicted men of learning, was the danger of possessing books by heretics and the difficulty of procuring them.' Yet they could not carry on their Biblical studies with

Sarpi's Letters abound in useful information on this topic. Writing to French correspondenis, he complains weekly of the impossibility even in Venice of obtaining books. See, for instance, Lettere, vol. i. pp. 286, 287. 360, vol. ii. p. 13 la one passage be savs

[ocr errors]

EXTIRPATION OF BOOKS.

20G

out reference to such authors as, for example, Erasmus or Reuchlin. The universities loudly demanded that books of sound erudition by heretics should at least be expurgated and republished. Yet the process of disfiguring their arguments, effacing the names of authors, expunging the praises of heretics, altering quotations and retouching them all over, involved so much labor that the demand was never satisfied. The strict search instituted at the frontiers stopped the importation of books, and carriers refused to transmit them. In their dread of the Inquisition, these folk found it safer to abstain from book traffic altogether. Public libraries were exposed to intermittent raids, nor were private collections safe from such inspection. The not uncommon occurrence of old books in which precious and interesting passages have been erased with printer's ink, or pasted over with slips of opaque paper, testifies to the frequency of these inquisitorial visitations. Any casual acquaintance, on leaving a man's house, might denounce him as the possessor that the importation of books into Italy is impeded at Innsbruck, Trento, and throughout the Tyrolesc frontiers (vol. i. 2. 74). In another he warns his friends not to send them concealed in mer. chandise, since they will fall under so many eyes in the customhouses and lazzaretti (vol. i. p. 303).

" It was usual at this epoch to send Protestant publications from beyond the Alps in bales of cotton or other goods. This appears from the Lucchese proclamations against heresy published in Arch. Slor. vol. x.

• 1 may mention that having occasion to consult Savonarola's works in the Public Library of Perugia, which has a fairly good collection of them, I found them useless for purposes of study by reason of these erasures and Burke-plasters.

« PředchozíPokračovat »