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doubtful taste. The frank audacity of the Renaissance is superseded by cringing timidity, lumbering dulness, somnolent and stagnant acquiescence in accepted formulæ. At first the best minds of the nation fret and rebel, and meet with the dungeon or the stake as the reward of contumacy. In the end everybody seems to be indifferent, satisfied with vacuity, enamored of insipidity. The brightest episode in this dreary period is the emergence of modern music with incomparable sweetness and lucidity.
It must not be supposed that the change which I have adumbrated, passed rapidly over the Italian spirit. When Paul III. succeeded Clement on the Papal throne in 1534, some of the giants of the Renaissance still survived, and much of their great work was yet to be accomplished. Michelangelo had neither painted the Last Judgment nor planned the cupola which crowns S. Peter's. Cellini had not cast his Perseus for the Loggia de' Lanzi, nor had Palladio raised San Giorgio from the sea at Venice. Pietro Aretino still swaggered in lordly insolence; and though Machiavelli was dead, the 'silver histories' of Guicciardini remained to be written. Bandello, Giraldi and Il Lasca had not published their Novelle, nor had Cecchi given the last touch to Florentine comedy. It was chiefly at Venice, which preserved the ancient forms of her oligarchical independence, that the grand style of the Renaissance continued to flourish. Titian was in his
PROTESTANTISM IN ITALY.
prime; the stars of Tintoretto and Veronese had scarcely risen above the horizon. Sansovino was still producing masterpieces of picturesque beauty in architecture.
In order to understand the transition of Italy from the Renaissance to the Counter-Reformation manner, it will be well to concentrate attention on the history of the Papacy during the eight reigns of Paul III., Julius III., Paul IV., Pius IV., Pius V., Gregory XIII., Sixtus V., and Clement VIII. In the first of these reigns we hardly notice that the Renaissance has passed away. In the last we are aware of a completely altered Italy. And we perceive that this alteration has been chiefly due to the ecclesiastical policy which brought the Council of Trent to a successful issue in the reign of Pius IV.
Before engaging in this review of Papal history, I must give some brief account of the more serious religious spirit which had been developed within the Italian Church; since the determination of this spirit toward rigid Catholicism in the second half of the sixteenth century decided the character of Italian manners and culture. Protestantism in the strict sense of the term took but little hold upon Italian society. It is true that the minds of some philosophical students were deeply stirred by the audacious discussion of theological principles in Germany. Such men had been rendered receptive of new im
Thesc eight reigns cover a space of time from 1534 to 1605.
pressions by the Platonizing speculations of Ficino and Pico della Mirandola, as well as by the criticism of the Bible in its original languages which formed a subordinate branch of humanistic education. They had, furthermore, been powerfully affected by the tribulations of Rome at the time of Bourbon's occupation, and had grown to regard these as a divine chastisement inflicted on the Church for its corruption and ungodliness. Lutheranism so far influenced their opinions that they became convinced of the -necessity of a return to the simpler elements of Christianity in creed and conduct. They considered a thorough-going reform of the hierarchy and of all Catholic institutions to be indispensable. They leant, moreover, with partiality to some of the essential tenets of the Reformation, notably to the doctrines of justification by faith and salvation by the merits of Christ, and also to the principle that Scripture is the sole authority in matters of belief and discipline. Thus both the Cardinals Morone and Contarini, the poet Flaminio, and the nobles of the Colonna family in Naples who imbibed the teaching of Valdes, fell under the suspicion of heterodoxy on these points. But it was characteristic of the members of this school that they had no will to withhold allegiance from the Pope as chief of Christendom. They shrank with horror from the thought of encouraging a schism or of severing themselves from the communion of Catholics. The essential difference between Italian and Teutonic thinkers on
ATTITUDE OF ITALIAN FREE THINKERS.
such subjects at this epoch seems to have been this: Italians could not cease to be Catholics without at the same time ceasing to be Christians. They could not accommodate their faith to any of the compromises suggested by the Reformation. Even when they left their country in a spirit of rebellion, they felt ill at ease both with Lutherans and Calvinists. Like Bernardino Ochino and the Anti-Trinitarians of the Socinian sect, they wandered restlessly through Europe, incapable of settling down in communion with any one of the established forms of Protestantism. Calvin at Geneva instituted a real crusade against Italian thinkers, who differed from his views. He drove Valentino Gentile to death on the scaffold; and expelled Gribaldi, Simone, Biandrata, Alciati, Negro. Most of these men found refuge in Poland, Transylvania, even Turkey.!
There were bold speculators in Italy enough, who had practically abandoned the Catholic faith. But the majority of these dià not think it worth their while to make an open rupture with the Church. Theological hair-splitting reminded them only of the mediæval scholasticism from which they had been emancipated by classical culture. They were less interested in questions touching the salvation of the individual or the exact nature of the sacraments, than in metaphysical problems suggested by the study of antique philosophers, or new theories of the material universe. The indifference of these
i See Berti's Vita di G. Bruno, pp. 105-108.
men in religion rendered it easy for them to conform in all external points to custom. Their fundamental axiom was that a scientific thinker could hold one set of opinions as a philosopher, and another set as a Christian. Their motto was the celebrated Foris ut moris, intus ut libet. Nor were ecclesiastical authorities dissatisfied with this attitude during the ascendancy of humanistic culture. It was, indeed, the attitude of Popes like Leo, Cardinals like Bembo. And it only revealed its essential weakness when the tide of general opinion, under the blast of Teutonic revolutionary ideas, turned violently in favor of formal orthodoxy. Then indeed it became dangerous to adopt the position of a Pomponazzo.
The mental attitude of such men is so well illustrated by a letter written by Celio Calcagnini to Peregrino Morato, that I shall not hesitate to transcribe it here. It seems that Morato had sent his correspondent some treatise on the theological questions then in dispute; and Calcagnini replies:
• I have read the book relating to the controversies so much agitated at present. I have thought on its contents, and weighed them in the balance of
I find in it nothing which may not be approved and defended, but some things which, as mysteries, it is safer to suppress and conceal than to bring before the common people, inasmuch as they pertained to the primitive and infant state of the
• This maxim is ascribed to the materialistic philosopher Cremoaini.