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trines were seized and the calamitous fruits they often bore, the tumultuous clamor of the mob and the pitiful gestures of the automaton so long set up to rule it, the noisy fury of shallow radicals and the silent despair of patriot thinkers, the swift marching of the French armies and the slow heaving of the great heart of Germany, are to be learned only on the Rhine and the Danube and the Vistula. And no one cause has tended more to make possible that German unity so long dreamed of by German poets and prayed for by German patriots, than the fear of another irruption of French armies with French doctrines inscribed on their banners, that same fear of uproar and of anarchy, of a political chaos and a moral pestilence, which possesses the better classes of the people in France itself, and drives them into the army of a third Napoleon to escape the possibilty of a second Robespierre.
The period of the Renaissance, of humanity as of art, is the one bright memory with which Italy has consoled its grief and cheered its clouded life these three dark centuries past. To us it is an instructive lesson, full of wisdom, if tinged with a certain sadness. And every book upon it carefully, one should add devoutly written, is worth heeding in the days upon which we have fallen, when parricidal hands are laid upon the ark of our polity, - that unity with which we began our career, fortunate thus above all other nations, who could only struggle and sorrow for it through the weary bloody centuries, escaping at last from the barbarism of feudalism only to petrify into the military monarchy of modern Europe.
The work of Jacob Burckhardt * is not an important contribution to our knowledge in a scientific point of view, but it is a useful and suggestive book, its suggestions being chiefly those of facts. The author of it is known to the studious traveller in Italy as the writer of a recent and very good book upon Italian art, which, under the modest title of Cicerone, combines a good deal of thought with a good deal of erudition, and is at once stimulating and useful. This elaborate essay upon the Renaissance is the result, we presume, of further studies in the tempting and inexhaustible fields of Italian history and art. But we have a feeling that it does not do the author justice, that he is capable of something greater. To arrange under various fanciful heads the countless facts gathered in a wide reading of original authorities — however important or however indicative of that genuine historical instinct which grasps the characteristic fact in the great dust-heaps of the centuries — is not too write a history, is not a claim even to be an essayist. The writer and the thinker must always go together. Facts are stupid things unless marshalled to support a theory or made to illumine a thought.
Our author divides his work into six chapters, the State considered as a work of art, the development of the individual, the revival of the ancient culture, the discovery of the New World and of the
* Die Cultur der Renaissance in Italien. Ein Versuch von JAKOB BURCKHARDT. Basel, Druck und Verlag der Schweighauser'schen Verlagshandlung. 1860.
capacities of the new man in the Old, society and festivals, morals and religion. It is of the revival of the ancient culture only that we have a word to say.
It began with the fourteenth century; and with it began that struggle between the Classic and Christian philosophy, if we may so say, which is to be traced in much of the thought of to-day. Petrarch tells us how with Giovanni Colonna he loved to ascend the colossal ruins of Diocletian's baths, and there, in the pure air and deep stillness, to discourse of the classic time and the Christian faith. And all the way down from Petrarch to Gibbon and Niebuhr, the ruins of Rome have been to every reflecting mind the solemn witness at once of the grandeur and the despair of the old civilization. Its vitality faded, — it decayed and passed away. But what element of life it wanted is the curious problem which the philosophic thinker attempts now and then to solve. The philosophy of the Academy is as full of truth and beauty to-day as when Plato discoursed of it among the olive groves of Athens centuries before Rome had reached the summit of its power and its splendor. But the philosophy of the Academy was far from being the controlling element of the ancient lite, for it was not its religion, — and it is the character of the religion which in the end determines the character of the civilization. The ancient world may have fallen in pieces, for anything we know, because it failed to receive the thought and accept the life which its few great thinkers tried to infuse into it. But that the ancient philosophy had no practical effect upon the general current and the last results of the ancient life, did not give the direction to the development of its civilization, though it may have sometimes softened its inhumanities,
seems to us very clear, and to explain many things. But the mistake of the Middle Age was to confound the thought of Plato with the religion of the ancient world, or the political greatness of Rome. There was a feeling in many of something in it irreconcilable with the religion they professed. And in those for whom the purer sentiments of Plato had a greater fascination than the perversions of the mediæval Christianity there sprang up a painful struggle, which could end only in the tacit rejection of the latter. Hence that theism which found expression in the Academy of Florence, and which breathes through all the converse they loved to hold in the gardens of Lorenzo the Magnificent. Pico, indeed, yielded to the ascetic influence of Savonarola, and Lorenzo from his youth up always professed a belief in the dogmas of Christianity. But the voice of the school they founded and adorned rings out too clear to be mistaken. It was the protest of humanity against those morbid and desolating formulas which were threatening to change the bright earth they loved to live in and look on, into the shambles of an inexorable hierarchy ; - the utterance of that faith, not yet extinguished by the Church, that the visible world was created in love, and was to abide in love till the finite is swallowed up in the infinite.
But the Renaissance is not to be regarded as an isolated phenomenon. It was the product of many causes, not least of the influence of those Greek teachers, priests of the old philosophy, who had cherished it
through so many centuries, driven now from Constantinople, as of old their predecessors from Athens, at the breaking up of the Lower Empire under the deluge of the Ottoman invasion. The ancient civilization did not perish with Rome; the Roman administration and the Roman traditions, together with the Greek philosophy and a certain element of Greek art, had survived in the Byzantine Empire. Thus the philosophy of Plato bad lived on, and the disciples who came to teach it in Florence were the legitimate successors, in one long, solemn line of descent from the followers of the master himself. The history of mankind, we forget, seems often to run in parallels. Thus there never was any period intervening between the modern culture and the ancient. The learning of the Greeks was kept sacred in Constantinople till it was carried by Greeks themselves to Italy. And it was not till about the beginning of the Renaissance, it will be remembered, that the ancient Greek tongue began to be corrupted into the modern Romaic, which, under the influence of the undying spirit of Hellenism, is fast purifying itself to serve again the same race in its old seats, - not less entitled to our sympathy because emulous, in its new career, of the old glories and the ancient leadership. Yet the cultivation of the Greek philosophy in Italy, at the period of the Renaissance, sprang not so much from any respect for antiquity as from a conviction of its value in clearing the way for the future. It helped man to larger notions, while it counteracted the degrading tendencies of the Church; and it taught the sacredness of thought, when to think was almost to sin, while it replaced the ecclesiastical ideal of misery by the human ideal of love.
The political condition of the Italian States was, in many respects, favorable to the development of individual thought and activity, and there was no one of them which did not benefit by the labors, if it did not acknowledge the influence, of the humanists. It has been well said, by a contemporary German thinker, that it is only by the attainment by its writers of a world-wide importance that a people proves its right to be ranked among the nations who have determined the form and assured the success of our civilization. Tried by that rule, Italy may certainly claim a foremost place in the respect of mankind. What Sophocles was to the Greeks, and Shakespeare is to us, Dante was to Italy and the world. Yet more than Sophocles or Shakespeare, Dante concerned himself with the political future of his country. With prophetic foresight, he was the first to announce that doctrine which has since sunk so deep into the hearts of Italians, the doctrine of the unity of Italy. For to none was it clearer than to him, that that very rivalry of the Italian States which was the stimulus of their progress contained the seeds of their ruin. And long afterwards, when Charles VIII. crossed the Alps and entered Italy, the ease with which he advanced was a proof both of the weakness wrought by divisions and of the corruption produced by intrigues. From that day to this there has been foreign intervention in Italian affairs, at once the result and the cause of the national decline. But the clouds which have so long darkened the sky, once resplendent with the gorgeous sunrise of the Renaissance, are fast breaking away. Garibaldi fulfils the dream of Dante.
MISCELLANEOUS. In proportion to our pain at the deep and deliberate injustice with which our national struggle has been misrepresented, even by some of those in England whom we thought we had a right to regard as friends, is the satisfaction with which we greet any expression of intelligent sympathy there, and an honest wish to understand the merits of that cause for which our best and bravest are giving their blood so lavishly. Count Gasparin teaches us to think of England as consisting of “two nations." And while from one of these we get such curious evidences of amity as we find in the systematic and wilful falsehoods of the Tory press, the conscious falsehood that misstates and vilifies the acts of our government in its dealing with treason (as, for instance, in New Orleans), the subscription of “ 290” British merchants to outfit a piratical ship for the ruin of our commerce, and that sentimental “sympathy with the South” which affects a dainty “disgust at the follies and crimes of its RIVAL,” and mocks a nation in its agony with pious platitudes of peace and nonresistance, - — we turn with gladness and refreshment to such a manly and fair exposition of the whole matter as we find in the recent work of Professor Cairnes.* A fairer and friendlier statement of the general position we could not desire than the following:
“ A community, the most eager in the world in the chase after gain, forgot its absorbing pursuit; parties, a moment before arrayed against each other in a great political contest, laid aside their party differences; a whole nation, merging all private aims in the single passion of patriotism, rose to arms as a single man; and this for no selfish object, but to maintain the integrity of their common country, and to chastise a band of conspirators who, in the wantonness of their audacity, had dared to attack it. The Northern people, conscious that it had risen above the level of ordinary motives, looked abroad for sympathy, and especially looked to England. It was answered with cold criticism and derision. The response was perhaps natural under the circumstances, but undoubtedly not more so than the bitter mortification and resentment which that response evoked.” - p. 30.
The work before us is less specially interesting and instructive, as to the immediate questions that have risen out of the war, than that of Count Gasparin; but it is an abundantly able, candid, and full treatment of the slavery question, as to all those points which concern its political bearings, its past history in this country, and the remorseless, insatiable ambition of those who have made it the stimulant of treason and rebellion. Besides the statement of the case with which the volume opens, and the “general conclusions” which sketch the outline of the policy to be pursued by this nation as in Europe, the topics which it treats are the following: the Economical Basis of Slavery; the Internal Organization of Slave Societies, their Tendencies, their Internal Development and External Policy; the Career of the Slave Power in the United States, and its Designs. A large portion of the volume is thus taken up with matters - such as the experience of the West
* The Slave Power: its Character, Career, and probable Designs. By J. E. CAIRNES. New York : Carleton.
Indies and the history of party conflicts in the United States — with which most readers among us are tolerably well acquainted already. This does not diminish, but rather enhances, its value, as an effort to dispel that dense ignorance, which to many persons appears to be far pleasanter than truth. The general conclusion at which Professor Cairnes arrives, as to the probable result of the strugyle, is that the Slave Empire of the South will be narrowed to a comparatively scanty territory and feeble sway, with strict boundaries at the North and West; and that under such conditions the problem of slavery in this nation is likeliest to have a successful working-out. Such speculations are greatly baffled by the line of policy laid down in the President's Proclamation (which is copied in full in the American edition),
which declares emancipation outright, first in those very regions which in theory sbould be the lasting and most obstinate strongholds of slavery.
The great work of Victor Hugo * loses nothing in power as it goes on. Intensely exciting and powerful as the story is, we feel that the characters are only representative characters, and that behind all these characters and scenes is the moving ethical purpose. It is the poet's way of uttering his complaint upon the wrongs and the follies of the life of his nation. The story only gives unity to the series of sketches, which are in themselves sentimental disquisitions. Very different is Victor Hugo's exhibition of life in the nunnery from the glowing pictures of Montalembert. All the loneliness, all the gloom, all the dull, monotonous waste of brain and heart which the cloister requires, come out in his picture of the interior life of that Bernardine sisterhood. Its seeming piety becomes hideous, and it is seen to be a crime against reason and nature.
Les Misérables is certainly a morbid book. It exaggerates defects in the social state, and its tone is sad, desponding, and often bitter. Its humor is mocking, and even ghastly. But we cannot call it a wicked book, or see in it any attack upon the principles of order, or upon the doctrines of sound morality. Its tendency is very different from that of such novels as “ Guy Livingstone,” or the “Sorrows of Werther," or the “ Mysteries of Paris,” while it resembles all of these in some particulars ; the first, in its bold defiance of public opinion and settled usage; the second, in its sentimental melancholy; the third, in its highly-wrought pictures of the wretchedness and wrong of civilized society. It is not a healthy book; yet its morbid sentiment is not of the kind which is contagious. The author is not to be classed with “ the Pessimist School.”
Albert Dürer is one of the few celebrated men of past centuries around whom still gathers something of personal interest. This is the more remarkable, since so little is in reality known of his personal
* Victor Hugo. Les Misérables. Deuxième Partie. Cosette. – Troisième Partie. Marius. 2 vols. 8vo. pp. 134, 122. Neir York: F. W. Christern. 1862.