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APPROACH OF THE AGE OF REASON IN EUROPE.
IT IS PRECEDED BY THE RISE OF CRITICISM.
Restoration of Greek Literature and Philosophy in Italy.-Development of Modern Languages and Rise of Criticism.— Imminent Danger to
Latin Ideas. Invention of Printing. It revolutionizes the Communication of Know
ledge, especially acts on Public Worship, and renders the Pulpit of
secondary importance. THE REFORMATION.—Theory of Supererogation and I'se of Indulgences.
-The Right of Individual Judgment asserted.-Political History of the Origin, Culmination, and Check of the Reformation.-Its Effects
in Italy. Causes of the Arrest of the Reformation.- Internal Causes in Protestantism.—External in the Policy of Rome.—The Counter-Reformation. - Inquisition.—Jesuits.--Secession of the great Critics.-Culmination of the Reformation in America.- Emergence of Individual Liberty of Thought
In estimating the influences of literature on the approach The rise of of the Age of Reason in Europe, the chief incicriticism. dents to be considered are the disuse of Latin as a learned language, the formation of modern tongues from the vulgar dialects, the invention of printing, the decline of the power of the pulpit, and its displacement by that of the press. These, joined to the moral and intellectual influences at that time predominating, led to the great movement known as the Reformation. As if to mark out to the world the real cause of its
cine intellectual degradation, the regeneration of Italy Epoch of the intellectual commenced with the exile of the popes to Avig
non. During their absence, so rapid was the progress that it had become altogether impossible to make
any successful resistance, or to restore the old condition of things on their return to Rome. The moment that the leaden cloud which they had kept suspended over the country was withdrawn, the light from heaven shot in, and the ready peninsula became instinct with life.
The unity of the Church, and, therefore, its power, required the use of Latin as a sacred language. Use of Latin Through this Rome had stood in an attitude as a sacred strictly European, and was enabled to maintain language. a general international relation. It gave her far more power than her asserted celestial authority, and, much as she claims to have done, she is open to condemnation that, with such a signal advantage in her hands, never again to be enjoyed by any successor, she did not accomplish much more. Had not the sovereign pontiffs been so completely occupied with maintaining their emoluments and temporalities in Italy, they might have made the whole Continent advance like one man. Their officials could pass without difficulty into every nation, and communicate without embarrassment with each other, from Ireland to Bohemia, from Italy to Scotland. The possession of a common tongue gave them the administration of international affairs with intelligent allies everywhere speaking the same language.
Not, therefore, without cause was the hatred manifested by Rome to the restoration of Greek and intro
Causes of the duction of Hebrew, and the alarm with which dislik she perceived the modern languages forming out Rome to the
Greek, of the vulgar dialects. The prevalence of Latin was the condition of her power, its deterioration the measure of her decay, its disuse the signal of her limitation to a little principality in Italy. In fact, the development of European languages was the instrument of her overthrow. They formed an effectual communication between the mendicant friars and the illiterate populace, and there was not one of them that did not display in its earliest productions a sovereign contempt for her. We have seen how it was with the poetry of Languedoc.
The rise of the many-tongued European literature was therefore co-incident with the decline of papal Christianity. European literature was impossible under the
Catholic rule. A grand, and solemn, and imposing reli. and danger gious unity enforced the literary unity which is from modern implied in the use of a single language. No languages.
more can a living thought be embodied in a dead language than activity be imparted to a corpse. That Public dicat principle of stability which Italy hoped to give vantages of a to Europe essentially rested on the compulsory
red tongue. use of a dead tongue The first token of intel. lectual emancipation was the movement of the great Italian poets, led by Dante, who often, not without irreverence, broke the spell. Unity in religion implies unity through a sacred language, and hence the non-existence of particular national literatures.
Even after Rome had suffered her great discomfiture on Effect of
the scientific question respecting the motion of modern lan- the earth, the conquering party was not unwilguages. ling to veil its thoughts in the Latin tongue, partly because it thereby insured a more numerous class of intelligent readers, and partly because ecclesiastical authority was now disposed to overlook what must otherwise be treated as offensive, since to write in Latin was obviously a pledge of abstaining from an appeal to the vulgar. The effect of the introduction of modern languages was to diminish intercommunication among the learned.
The movement of human affairs, for so many years silent Approach and imperceptible, was at length coming to a ora crisis in crisis. An appeal to the emotions and moral
urope. sentiments at the basis of the system, the history of which has occupied us so long, had been fully made, and found ineffectual. It was now the time for a like appeal to the understanding. Each age of life has its own logic. The logic of the senses is in due season succeeded by that of the intellect. Of faith there are two kinds, one of acquiescence, one of conviction; and a time inevitably arrives when emotional faith is supplanted by intellectuai.
As if to prove that the impending crisis was not the offspring of human intentions, and not occasioned by any Cosmo da one man, though that man might be the soveMedici. Flo- reign pontiff, Nicolas V. found in his patronage
of letters and art a rival and friend in Cosmo de' Medici. An instructive incident shows how great a change
had taken place in the sentiments of the higher classes : Cosmo, the richest of Italians, who had lavished his wealth on palaces, churches, hospitals, libraries, was comforted on his death-bed, not, as in former days would have been the case, by ministers of religion, but by Marsilius Ficinus, the Platonist, who set before him the arguments for a future life, and consoled his passing spirit with the examples and precepts of Greek philosophy, teaching him thereby to exchange faith for hope, forgetting that too often hopes are only the day-dreams of men, not less unsubstantial and vain than their kindred of the night. Ficinus had perhaps come to the conviction that philosophy is only a higher stage of theology, the philosopher a very enlightened theologian. He was the representative of Platonism, which for so many centuries had been hidden po from the sight of men in Eastern monasteries of Platonism since its overthrow in Alexandria, and which in Italy. was now emerging into existence in the favouring atmosphere of Italy. His school looked back with delight, and even with devotion, to the illustrious pagan times, commemorating by a symposium on November 13th the birthday of Plato. The Academy of Athens was revived in the Medicean gardens of Florence. Not that Ficinus is to be regarded as a servile follower of the great philosopher. He alloyed the doctrines of Plato with others derived from a more sinister source—the theory Marsilius of the Mohammedan Averroes, of which it was an essential condition that there is a soul of humanity, through their relations with which individual souls are capable of forming universal ideas, for such, Averroes asserted, is the necessary consequence of the emanation theory.
Under such auspices, and at this critical moment, 00curred the revival of Greek literature in Italy. p It had been neglected for more than seven Greek learnhundred years. In the solitary instances of 108 individuals to whom here and there a knowledge of that language was imputed, there seem satisfactory reasons for supposing that their requirements amounted to little more than the ability of translating some “petty patristic treatise.” The first glimmerings of this revival appear in
the thirteenth century; they are somewhat more distinct in the fourteenth. The capture of Constantinople by the Latin Crusaders had done little more than diffuse a few manuscripts and works of art along with the more highly prized monkish relics in the West. It was the Turkish pressure, which all reflecting Greeks foresaw could have no other result than the fall of the Byzantine power, that induced some persons of literary tastes to seek a livelihood and safety in Italy.
In the time of Petrarch, 1304—1374, the improvement Gradual pro
did not amount to much. That illustrious poet gress of the says that there were not more than ten persons
101. in Italy who could appreciate Homer. Both Petrarch and Boccacio spared no pains to acquaint themselves with the lost tongue. The latter had succeeded in obtaining for Leontius Pilatus, the Calabrian, a Greek professorship at Florence. He describes this Greek teacher as clad in the mantle of a philosopher, his countenance hideous, his face overshadowed with black hair, his beard long and uncombed, his deportment rustic, his tem per gloomy and inconstant, but his mind was stored with the treasures of learning. Leontius left Italy in disgust, but, returning again, was struck dead by lightning in a storm while tied to the mast of the ship. The author from whom I am quoting significantly adds that Petrarch laments his fate, but nervously asks whether “some copy of Euripides or Sophocles might not be recovered from the mariners.”
The restoration of Greek to Italy may be dated A.D. 1395, at which time Chrysoloras commenced teaching it. A few years after Aurispa brought into Italy two hundred and thirty-eight Greek manuscripts; among them were Plato and Pindar. The first endeavour was to translate such manuscripts into Latin. To a considerable extent, the religious scruples against Greek literature were giving way; the study found a patron in the pope himself, Eugenius IV. As the intention of the Turks to seize Constantinople became more obvious, the emigration of learned Greeks into Italy became more frequent. And yet, with the exception of Petrarch, and he was scarcely an exception, not one of the Italian seholars was an ecclesiastic.