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position of this very remarkable scholar is thus described by Burckhardt in his ' Cultur der Renaissance' :—
'He is the only [man of learning of that age] who distinctly and emphatically champions the science and truth of all epochs as against the one-sided exaltation of classical antiquity. He prizes, according to their intrinsic worth, not only Averrhoes and the Jewish inquirers, but also the scholastic teachers y of the Middle Ages. He imagines them thus speaking: "We are destined to live for ever, not in the "schools of grammarians and pedants, but in the select circle of the "wise, where men dispute not concerning such trivial matters as the "mother of Andromache, or the sons of Niobe, but concerning the deeper "foundations of things divine and human." He who looks more closely still, thought Pico, will recognise that even the very barbarians had their share of spiritual divination (Mercurium), not on their tongue, indeed, but in their heart.'
Burckhardt observes that from Pico we may form an idea of the lofty flight Italian philosophy would have taken, had not the counter-Reformation come to destroy the whole higher intellectual life of Southern Europe. We know that this remarkable man influenced many of the ablest forerunners of the Reformation: Colet and others in our own country, Zwingli in the recesses of the Alps. But it may be more than doubted whether his genius had force and originality to have given a new spring to psychological science. He was dazed with excess of learning. He set disproportionate store by each grain of truth he discovered, or seemed to discover, among the scattered philosophies of distant ages, and thought less of their logical coherence as a whole than of their superficial points of contact. And it was consonant with the want of plastic vigour in his genius, that as the mystical tendencies towards which he was always prone gained upon him under the influence of Savonarola, he more and more depreciated the value of intellectual inquiry, and more and more submitted to the dicta of a socalled infallible Church. Pico was one example among many of the mental ferment of an age which had more appetite than digestion for the stores on its suddenly-filled table.
It is a strange, typical circumstance, one of those dramatic coincidences which now and then strike one's fancy in crises of the world's history, that as Lorenzo de' Medici, the hero of those brilliant decades of Florentine life which closed in the fifteenth century, lay on his deathbed, three men of mark were summoned in turn to bid him farewell. One was Politian, the most accomplished poet of the classic school; one was Pico, the prince of that mystic philosophy which had its home in the * Academy'; one was Savonarola, the prophet-politician. Of this last extraordinary man we must now speak.
VOL. CXXXVI. NO. CCLXXVII. L
Who would have believed, after all that has been said of Florence, the worldly, the witty, the sceptical, the central source of all that was most advanced and daring in the secularism of the Renaissance— who would have believed the sight which the last carnival days of the years 1497 and 1498 presented on the Piazza della Signoria? A pyre built up in stages, like those which were used to consume the bodies of Roman emperors, and, piled upon it, the rich'attire of men and women, their ornaments, their false hair and bright cosmetics, their pictures, musical instruments, and games of chance; and, besides all these, the poems of Pulci, Bojardo, Petrarch, together with illuminated MSS. and printed parchments of classic Latinity? A Venetian merchant, who happened to be present on the first occasion, offered, we are told, twenty thousand o-olden dollars for the contents of the pyramid. But it was doomed. A religious asceticism had taken hold of the population, and the sacrifice was not to be averted. Fire was set to the rich holocaust in presence of the approving magistracy, while trumpets sounded, and songs and dances were executed by the priests and the excited multitude.
Jerome Savonarola, under whose influence this wonderful deed was done, succeeded in establishing for four years a political theocracy which forms the most singular contrast to the whole tenour of the Renaissance. Suddenly, ' infiammato d' un 'pericoloso desiderio di dire il vero,'as Paolo Giovio finely says of him, he brought to bear on the polished heathenism of Florentine life the demands of Christian self-denial; on the successful tyranny of the Medici the aspirations of democratic liberty. He was the precursor, but under circumstances which after all made his position less anomalous than theirs, of the Lacordaires and the Lammenais of our own time.
It will be observed that Savonarola's political standing-point was different from that of Rienzi or of Porcari. He did not affect enthusiasm for the traditions of ancient Rome. He set out rather from the Hebrew idea of God's immediate government, and aspired to the position and the fame of a prophet; for, says Paolo Giovio also of him, 'era di natura occultamente 'ambitioso.' The learning in vogue he regarded as contemptible in its alliance with contented submission to slavery, with a dreamy unpractical life in the past and a delight in heathen poetry and heathen ethics, with a soul-destroying abnegation of Christian self-discipline. Both politically and spiritually, he believed it to be the ruin of his fellow-countrymen. He saw its workings in the depravity of the Papacy, conspicuously in Alexander VI., whom he declared truly to be 'no Christian,' and whom he sought to depose by the agency of Charles VIII. of France and a Council.
Abrupt as was Savonarola's interposition in the outward face of history, his mission was linked with a series of past agencies which had held their place alongside of the world's prevailing impetus, putting in their spoke ever and anon while the wheel of secular selfishness went round. The Mendicant orders had nourished a line of penitence preachers; holy monks who would sometimes shake whole cities and provinces by their appeals. Burckhardt remarks on the difference between the manifestations of early spiritualism on the two sides of the Alps, that the same tempers which in the North took a mystical and intuitive character, went out in expansive practical energy and eloquence in the R> uth. * The North,' he says, ' brings 'forth an Imitatio Christ', which works its effects at first only 'within the walls of convents, but continues them for ages 'long; the South produces men who make on their fellow'men a colossal impression, but an impression of the moment 'only. Thus preached, in the fifteenth century, Bernardino 'da Siena, Alberto da Sarzana, Capistrano, della Marca, 'Da Lecce, and others. Finally, thus preached Savonarola. 'No stronger prejudice existed than that against the Men'dicant orders; these men overcame it. The haughty spirit 'of Humanism criticised and contemned: when the preachers 'raised their voice, Humanism was for the time forgotten out • of mind.'
Alexander VI., double dyed in crime, yet refused for some time to listen to the representations of those who urged him to prohibit Savonarola's preaching. 'He is a holy man,' he said, with something of respectful awe. After a while, however, he counterworked the reformer's already waning influence by sending a rival pulpit orator, Gennazzano, who dealt leniently with the foibles of the rich and great. And, in the end, Alexander satisfied the condemnation urged by Savonarola's enemies, and allowed him to perish in the flames.
When Julius II. succeeded to the Papal throne, the temporary shock to the interests of culture was past. The conscience of his fellow-citizens had not permanently responded to Savonarola's appeal. To Rome his influence had never extended. There, more than ever, classical notions and fancies moulded the intercourse of polished life. The fanatics of the Aristotelian philosophy, who at this time waged an angry war with the Platonizers, were accused of being more incorrigible infidels than their foes. It would seem to have been the Aristotelians chiefly who forced the Olympian myths into the explanation of Christian mysteries, and even into pulpit harangues. Erasmus reports a sermon which was preached in his hearing before Julius II. and his cardinals, in which the Pope was compared to Jove, the death of Christ to the self-sacrifice of Decius. The identification of God the Father with Jupiter, of God the Son with Apollo, and of the Virgin Mary with Diana, was certainly an allegory of more profane import, as advanced by the Leonine divines, than as suggested by the studious statesman of our day, who has theorised on the hidden instincts of mythology. The only check on the propagation of infidel tenets was the occasional self-assertion of ecclesiastical decorum or alarm, as when the Lateran Council sitting at the time of Leo X.'s accession, decreed the immortality and individuality of the soul to be necessary Christian doctrine; and when the ecclesiastics of Venice made application to the same Pope—vainly however— to procure the condemnation of the Paduan doctor Pomponazzo, for his atheistic utterances. Such reclamations were not calculated to lessen the dalliance of the cultivated classes with the censured topics. * In quel tempo,' says an Italian historian quoted by Ranke, ' non pareva fosse galantuomo e buon corte'giano colui che de' dogmi della chiesa non aveva qualche 'opinione erronea ed eretica.' Assuredly the whole' situation' furnished a suggestive field of thought, when the two German students, Erasmus and Martin Luther, successively made their visits to the headquarters of Christendom—A.n.1506 and A.d. 1512.
Art. V.—1. The Southern States since the War: 1870-71. By Robert Somers. London.
2. Revenue of the United States. Official Report of Mr. D. D. Wells, the Special Commissioner. London.
3. Monthly Reports of the Department of Agriculture. Washington: 1871.
Qince the close of the long political struggle which succeeded to the American civil war, the outer world has heard comparatively little of the Southern States. Our knowledge of the interior condition of that great section of the Union comes almost entirely from Northern sources. We look in through the open door of New York or the window of Philadelphia, and get only such a view of what is going on within as it may suit Northern interests to give. Of the political side of reconstmc
tion we have heard enough; of its more important social and commercial aspects hardly anything is known. Yet the problem which the Southern population had to work out—the problem in the solution of which they are still engaged—was one of the greatest and the most interesting ever given to a nation. The civil war left the whole area of the rebellious States strewn with ruins. The Southern people staked everything they had on the desperate venture, and lost the throw. Their social system was destroyed. Their commercial organisation was swept away. Their political constitution was overthrown. Even the material fabric of civilisation in the Southern States—the roads, the bridges, the telegraphs, the railways, the public buildings in the chief cities—came out of the struggle in a state of ruin. Everything needed to be reconstructed, even to the very culture of the fields. The world had in the most literal sense been turned upside down. When the war began, the social and political system of the Southern States was strongly organised under the rule of a dominant caste: the political equality of one race founded on the entire subjection of another. The land was owned by a few millions of planters, and was cultivated for them by four millions of slaves. The proprietor of an estate owned not only the soil but the people who lived on it. He had absolute power over them. The men of his own race in the towns and cities were either agents of the planters or idle hangers on, who looked upon labour as a curse which rested on colour, and regarded the white men as divinely appointed rulers of the black. The whole social structure was built on this assumption, and was strong. The whole commercial system was organised in accordance with it, and flourished. To the ruling caste the Southern States were almost a paradise. With a slight element of social danger, and a certain recurrent dissatisfaction as the thought of the vast outer world of free dom came home to the lord even in the midst of his dependents, there was everything that men could desire. They had a predominant position in the politics of the Union, and practically ruled a vast republic whose boast it was to be democratic and free. Their commercial position was above anxiety. A lazy, inefficient, and wasteful culture of a young and fruitful soil produced sufficient crops of cotton, tobacco, and rice to give them all they needed. They had possession of the world's markets, and in return for the products of their soil, and of the labour of their slaves, civilisation put all its luxuries within their reach. The ' gentlemen' of the South thus constituted themselves the aristocracy of the republic; held in scorn and contempt their