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embracing an organism, persistently maintained in action for an anti-social end. There is something Roman in the colossal proportions of Loyola's idea, something Roman in the durability of the structure which perpetuates it. Yet the philosopher cannot but agree with the vulgar in his final judgment on the odiousness of these sacerdotal despots, these unflinching foes not merely to the heroes of the human intellect, and to the champions of right conduct, but also to the very angels of Christianity. That the Jesuits should claim to have been founded by Him who preached the Sermon on the Mount, that they should flaunt their motto, A. M. D. G., in the sight of Him who spake from Sinai, is one of those practical paradoxes in which the history of decrepit religions abounds.
SOCIAL AND DOMESTIC MORALS : PART I.
How did the Catholic Revival affect Italian Society ?-Difficulty of
Answering this Question-Frequency of Private Crimes of Violence-Homicides and Bandits—Savage Criminal Justice-Paid Assassins-Toleration of Outlaws-Honorable Murder-Exam. ple of the Lucchese Army-State of the Convents—The History of Virginia de Leyva-Lucrezia Buonvisi—The True Tale of the Cenci—The Brothers of the House of Massimo–Vittoria Accoramboni - The Duchess of Palliano-Wife-Murders—The Family of Medici.
We are naturally led to inquire what discernible effect the Catholic Revival and the Counter-Reformation had upon the manners and morals of the Italians as a nation. Much has been said about the contrast between intellectual refinement and almost savage license which marked the Renaissance. Yet it can with justice be maintained that, while ferocity and brutal sensuality survived from the Middle Ages, humanism, by means of the new ideal it introduced, tended to civilize and educate the race. Now, however, the Church was stilling culture and attempt. ing to restore that ecclesiastical conception of human life which the Renaissance had superseded. Did then her resuscitated Catholicism succeed in permeating the Italians with the spirit of Christ and of the Gospel ? Were the nobles more quiet in their demeanor, less quarrelsome and haughty, more lawabiding and less given to acts of violence, than they had been in the previous period? Were the people more contented and less tórn by factions, happier in their homes, less abandoned to the insanities of baleful superstitions ?
It is obviously difficult to answer these questions with either completeness or accuracy. In the first place, we have no right to expect that the religious revival, signalized by the Tridentine Council, should have made itself immediately felt in the sphere of national conduct. In the second place, it was not, like the German Reformation, a renewal of Christianity at its sources, but a resuscitation of mediæval Catholicity, in direct antagonism to the intellectual tendencies of the age. The new learning among northern races disintegrated that system of ideas upon which mediæval society rested; but it also introduced religious and moral conceptions more vital than those ideas in their decadence. In Italy the disintegrating process had been no less thorough, nay far more subtle and pervasive. Yet the new learning had not led the nation to attempt a reconstruction of primitive Christianity. The Catholic Revival gave nothing vital or enthusiastic to the conscience of the race.
. It brought the old creeds, old cult, old superstitions, old abuses back, with stricter discipline and under a régime of terror. Meanwhile, it resolutely ranged its forces in opposition to what had been salutary and life-giving in the mental movement of the Renaissance. It compelled people who had
CATHOLIC REACTION AND MORALITY.
watched the dawning of a new light, to shut their eyes upon that dayspring. It extinguished the studies of the Classical Revival; bade philosophers return to Thomas of Aquino; threatened thinkers with the dungeon or the stake who should presume to pass the Pillars of Hercules, when a whole Atlantic of knowledge had been opened to their curiosity. Under these circumstances it impossible that a revolution, so retrograde in its nature, checking the tide of national energy in full flow, should have exercised a healthy influence over the Italian temperament at large. We have a right to expect, what in fact we find, the advent of hypocrisy and ceremonial observances, but little actual amendment in manners. In the third place, the question is still further complicated by the Catholic Revival having been effected concurrently with the establishment of the Spanish Hegemony. At the end of the first chapter of this volume I pointed out the evils brought on Italy by her servitude to a foreign and unsympathetic despot : the decline of commercial activity, the multiplication of slothful lordlings, the depression of industry, the diminution of wealth, and the suffering of the lower classes from pirates, bandits and tax-gatherers. These conditions were sufficient to demoralize a people. And mediæval Catholicism, restored by edict, enforced by the Inquisition, propagated by Jesuits, was not of the fine enthusiastic quality to counteract them. Servile in its conception, it sufficed to bridle and
benumb a race of serfs, but not to soften or to purify their brutal instincts.?
In this chapter I shall not attempt a general survey of Italian society. I shall content myself with supplying materials for the formation of a judgment by narrating some of the most remarkable domestic tragedies of the second half of the sixteenth century, choosing those only which rest upon wellsifted documentary evidence, and which bring the social conditions of the country into strong relief. Before engaging in these historical romances, it will be well to preface them with a few general remarks upon the state of manners they will illustrate.
The first thing which strikes a student of Italy between 1530 and 1600 is that crimes of violence, committed by private individuals for personal ends, continued steadily upon the increase. Compared
· The last section of Loyola's Exercitia is an epitome of postTridentine Catholicism, though penned before the opening of the Council. In its last paragraph it inculcates the fear of God: 'neque porro is timor solum, quem Glialem appellamus, qui pius est ac sanctus maxime; verum etiam alter, servilis dictus' (Inst. Soc. Jesu, vol. iv. p. 173).
: An interesting survey of this wider kind has been attempted by U. A. Canello for the whole sixteenth century in his Storia della Lett. It. nel secolo XVI. (Milano: Vallardi, 1880). He tries to demonstrate that, in the sphere of private life, Italian society grad. ually refined the brutal lusts of the Middle Ages, and passed through fornication to a true conception of woman as man's companion in the family. The theme is bold; and the author seems to have based it upon too slight acquaintance with the real conditions of the Middle Ages.
• Galluzzi, in his Storia del Granducato di Toscana, vol. iv. p. 34. estimates the murders committed in Florence alone during the cighteen months which followed the death of Cosimo I., at 186.