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have soon lost all credit, if they had not endeavoured to Book conform in some measure to their standard. They knew ——• that all their actions fell under the severe inspection of the Protestants, whom enmity and emulation prompted to observe every vice, or even impropriety in their conduct, to censure them without indulgence, and to expose them without mercy. This rendered them, of course, not only cautious to avoid such enormities as might give offence, but studious to acquire the virtues which might merit praise. In Spain and Portugal, where the tyrannical jurisdiction of the inquisition crushed the Protestant faith as soon as it appeared, the spirit of popery continues invariable; science has made small progress; and the character of ecclesiastics has undergone little change. But in those countries where the members of the two churches have mingled freely with each other, or have carried on any considerable intercourse, either commercial or literary, an extraordinary alteration in the ideas, as well as in the morals, of the popish ecclesiastics, is manifest. In France, the manners of the dignitaries and secular clergy have become decent and exemplary in an high degree. Many of them have been distinguished for all the accomplishments and virtues which can adorn their profession, and differ greatly from their predecessors before the reformation, both in their maxims and in their conduct.
Nor has the influence of the reformation been felt onlyThe effect? by the inferior members of the Roman Catholic church-of"
» to the cha
it is extended to the see of Borne, to the sovereign pon-ncter of tiffs themselves. Violations of decorum, and even tres-^.01** passes against morality, which passed without censure i»selve*. those ages, when neither the power of the popes nor the veneration of the people for their character had any bounds; when there was no hostile eye to observe the errors in their conduct, and no adversaries zealous to inveigh against them; would be liable now to the severest animadversion, and excite general indignation or horror. Instead of rivalling the courts of temporal prjnces in gaiety, and surpassing them in licentiousness, the popes
Rook iiave studied to assume manners more severe and more • ■ '-:—cmtalilt. to their ecclesiastical character. The chair of St Peter hath not been polluted, during two centuries, by any pontiff that resembled Alexander VI. or several of his predecessors, who were a disgrace to religion and to human nature. Throughout this long succession of popes, a wonderful decorum of conduct, compared with that of preceding ages, is observable. Many of them, especially among the pontiffs of the present century, have been conspicuous for aJl the virtues becoming their high station; and, by their humanity, their love of literature, and their moderation, have made some atonement to mankind for the crimes of their predecessors. Thus the beneficial influences of the reformation have been more extensive than they appear on a superficial view; and this great division in the Christian church hath contributed, in some measure, to increase purity of manners, to diffuse science, and to inspire humanity. History recites such a number of shocking events occasioned by religious dissensions, that it must afford peculiar satisfaction to trace any one salutary or beneficial effect to that source from which so many fatal calamities have flowed, state of The republic of Venice, which, at the beginning of the ilc'rf Ve" s'steem'' century, had appeared so formidable, that alpJce. most all the potentates of Europe united in a confederacy for its destruction, declined gradually from its ancient power and splendour, The Venetians not only lost a great part of their territory in the war excited by the . league of Cambray, but the revenues as well as vigour of ♦lie state were exhausted by their extraordinary and longcontinued efforts in their own defence; and that commerce, by which they had acquired their wealth and power, began to decay, without any hopes of its reviving. All the fatal consequences to their republic, which the sagacity of the Venetian senate foresaw on the first discovery of a passage to the East Indies by the Cape of Good Hope, actually took place. Their endeavours to prevent the Portuguese from establishing themselves in the East Indies, not only by exciting the soldans of Egypt and BOOK the Ottoman monarchs to turn their arms against such ——— dangerous intruders, but by affording secret aid to the infidels, in order to insure their successproved ineffectual. The activity and valour of the Portuguese surmounted every obstacle, and obtained such a firm footing in that fertile country, as secured to them large possessions, together with an influence still more extensive. Lisbon, instead of Venice, became the staple for the precious commodities of the east. The Venetians, after having possessed, for many years, the monopoly of that beneficial commerce, bad the mortification to be excluded from almost any share in it. The discoveries of the Spaniards in the western world proved no less fatal to inferior branches of their commerce. The original defects, which were formerly pointed out in the constitution of the Venetian republic, still continued, and the disadvantages with which it undertook any great enterprise increased, rather than diminished. The sources from which it derived its extraordinary riches and power being dried up, the interior vigour of the slate declined, and, of course, its external operations became less formidable. Long before the middle of the sixteenth century, Venice ceased to be one of the principal powers in Europe, and dwindled into a secondary and subaltern state. But as the senate had the address to conceal the diminution of its power under the veil of moderation and caution; as it made no rash effort that could discover its wealcaess; as the symptoms of political decay in states are not soon observed, and are seldom so apparent to their neighbours as to occasion any sudden alteration in their conduct towards them, Venice continued long to be considered and respected. She was treated, not according to her present condition, but according to the rank which she had formerly held. Charles V. as well as the kings of France, his rivals, courted her assistance with emulation and solicitude in all their enterprises. Even down to the close of the century, Venice
BOOK remained not only an object of attention, but a consider. able seat of political negociation and intrigue.
Tu«- That authority which the first Cosmo di Medici, and *' Laurence, his grandson, had acquired in the republic of Florence, by their beneficence and abilities, inspired their descendants with the ambition of usurping the sovereignty j55o. in their country, and paved their way towards it. Charles V. placed Alexander di Medici at the head of the republic, and to the natural interest and power of the family, added the weight, as well as credit, of the imperial protection. Of these, his successor Cosmo, surnamed the Great, availed himself; and establishing his supreme authority on the ruins of the ancient republican constitution, he transmitted that, together with the title of grand duke of Tuscany, to his descendants. Their dominions were composed of the territories which had belonged to the three commonwealths of Florence, Pisa, and Siena, and formed one of the most respectable of the Italian states, the The dukes of Savoy, during the former part of the yov.° sixteenth century, possessed territories which were not considerable either for extent or value; and the French, having seized the greater part of them, obliged the reigning duke to retire for safety to the strong fortress of Nice, where he shut himself up for several years, while his son, the prince of Piedmont, endeavoured to better his fortune, by serving as an adventurer in the armies of Spain. The peace of Chateau-Cambresis restored to him his paternal dominions. As these are environed, on every hand, by powerful neighbours, all whose motions the dukes of Savoy must observe with the greatest attention, in order not only to guard against the danger of being surprised and overpowered, but that they may choose their side with discernment in those quarrels wherein it is impossible for them to avoid taking part, this peculiarity of their situation seems to have had no inconsiderable influence ou their character. By rousing them to perpetual attention, by keeping their ingenuity always on the stretch, and engaging them in almost continual action, it hath farmed a race of princes more sagacious in discovering their true B(|o.Ki interest, more decisive in their resolutions, and more dex- *—T tc-rous in availing themselves of every occurrence which presented itself, than any perhaps that can be singled out in the history of Europe. By gradual acquisitions, the dukes of Savoy have added to their territories, as well as to their own importance; and aspiring at length to regal dignity, which they obtained about half a century ago, by the title of kings of Sardinia, they hold now no inconsiderable rank among the monarchs of Europe.
The territories which form the republic of the United of the,
r United pro-*
Netherlands were lost during the first part of the sixteenth vince».
The transactions of the kingdoms in the north of Europe have been seldom attended to in the course of this history.
Russia remained buried in that barbarism and ob-ofgurt?IU scurity, from which it was called, about the beginning Vol. vi. 3 v