Page images

practice. All statues must be broken up, for the Bible forbade graven images. Again, it was said that the Gospel had been hid from the wise and prudent, and revealed unto babes. Paul had determined to know nothing but Jesus Christ. God had chosen the foolish to confound the wise. Much study was a weariness of the flesh. The University of Wittenberg was closed. No books but the Bible might be read. Difficult exegetical questions were submitted to the judgment of children and clowns. It is written, "In the sweat of man's brow shall he eat bread." Professor Carlstadt and his students turned ploughmen. Even Melancthon, the scholar of the Reformation, was compelled to close his books, and go and work in a bakery. Bolder expositors of Scripture desired to ⚫revive the apostolic community of goods, and realize the promised Messianic kingdom. The poor Elector of Saxony, while he disapproved of all this, could not forbid it, for it seemed in perfect accordance with the Bible. Frederic the Wise was on the point of abdicating in favor of King Jesus. As Luther heard of these disorders in his lonely castle, he might well fancy that he saw before him the arch enemy of man; sometimes as a brutish monster, shouting, "Ho, ho! is this your Bible religion?" sometimes as the glorified Christ, saying, "He that will not hear the Church, let him be as a heathen." It was as the shrewd old ecclesiastics told him at Worms, "From the Bible have come all heresies.' The limits the Bible sets up can stop conscientious and rational thought, but are easily overleaped by fanaticism;


"For fools rush in where angels fear to tread."

Luther, however, saw that the Wittenberg fanaticism was really contrary to Scripture. His faith in the Bible was not taken away. It was his faith in reform that was shaken. He saw that it did not do to discontinue all rites which the Bible did not expressly enjoin. He thought the only Scriptural way was to retain all which it did not expressly forbid. This was a conservative position, for the Bible had not said much about the Romish ritual of the sixteenth century.

Thus it was as a reactionist that Luther took his life in his hand, and went back to Wittenberg. He preached openly, in defiance of bull and ban, but it was against his fellow-Protes

tants. True, his conservatism was needed, but the Reformation was advancing, and conservatives were soon left behind. After 1525, the leaders of the Reformation are the Electors of Saxony and the Landgrave of Hesse. Even their lawyers do more than their theologians to carry the movement forward.

It is to be admitted that the Wittenberg disorders had been fostered by the influence of mysticism, though they were in violation of its plainest and commonest precepts, and that they were much quieted by the publication of Luther's version of the Bible. Scripture and mysticism are both salutary guides, when rationally used, and both pernicious tyrants when used blindly and superstitiously.

Moreover, Luther, though never what is commonly called a persecutor, was obliged to call upon the state to banish the fanatics. Thus the persecuted Protestantism began to persecute. The German clergy were brought into that bondage to the government which has hindered their freedom of thought and cut them off from the sympathy of the people. Thus German governments even now educate and pay the minister, and set him his creed and his text; and the laity consider the Church a police institution.

[ocr errors]

Luther has his limitations, as all men have. None the less was he a great man and a benefactor of our race, a man of powerful and original intellect, and of heroic moral courage. His life was blameless, and singularly free from what we call the errors of his age. He was almost the first to preach and write to the people at large. That commanding presence, which disarmed the assassin and cowed the tyrant, still lives in local tradition and popular memory. Still Luther leads the nation. Even now his name is in Germany what Washington's is in America, and is in like manner revered by liberal and conservative alike. His translation of the Bible united the two jarring dialects, the Swabian and the Frankish, into one great speech, and thus, says Bunsen, "preserved the only unity which in our days remains to the German nation, that of language, literature, and thought." His spirit of freedom, duty, and truth is still alive and at work. Whatever may be said of his single actions and special opinions, the man himself must be ever loved and honored, as a champion of conscientious liberty, and the representative of a great idea.

[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors]

1. A Discourse on the Life, Character, and Policy of Count Cavour.
Delivered in the Hall of the New York Historical Society, Febru-
ary 20, 1862.
By VINCENZO BOTTA, Ph. D. New York: G.
P. Putnam. 1862. 8vo. pp. 104.

2. Cavour, a Memoir. By EDWARD DICEY, Author of "Rome in
1860." Cambridge [England]: MacMillan & Co. 1861. 16mo.
pp. 243.

It is scarcely a year since the death of Count Cavour, in Turin. There is not time enough yet, of course, for a complete biography of the man. But the two sketches of his life and character which Dr. Botta and Mr. Dicey have produced for us, give us better opportunity than we could expect to trace along the rapid history of his wonderful success, and to estimate the manly qualities by which that success was won. The writers occupy such different positions, nationally and morally, that their different studies give us quite distinct points of observation. For, though each is an admirer of Cavour, and, with but little affectation of indifference, appears as his eulogist, the one is an Englishman, an Englishman, - doubtful, therefore, of the empire of ideas, whether, indeed, there be any ideas; the other is an Italian Protestant, confident, therefore, in the truth, and believing that Cavour owed his success to the rectitude and certain victory of his cause. Each of them has had good opportunities, and has studied sufficiently the public documents which are necessary for the review of the great statesman's life.

CAMILLO BENSO DI CAVOUR was born in Turin on the 10th of August, 1810. He was a younger son of a noble Italian family, whose traditions, since this century began, were connected with Napoleon's family. His mother was lady in waiting to the beautiful Pauline, the Princess Borghese, and the Prince and Princess acted as sponsors at the baby Cavour's baptism. Such arrangement of artificial memory did History adopt, that any future inquirer in trifles might recollect the Prince Borghese's first name. Count Camillo Cavour, the founder of Italy, was named for him. When the child was

[ocr errors]

ten years of age, they tried to make him page to Charles Albert, then heir to the throne of Sardinia. But the plan did not work well. He was soon dismissed from court livery, or, as he himself expressed it," he threw off his pack-saddle." 'He was sent to a military school, and, at eighteen years of age, after a brilliant school career, he entered the army as a lieutenant of engineers. In this capacity he served for four years; but he had given offence, before he was twenty-two, by the rashness of his liberal opinions, and, after a year of half-exile in the Val d'Aosta, he threw up his commission. For nearly ten years he resided abroad. The following pretty letter from the Director of Police at Milan gives the view which thus early the government of Austria, by its officials, took of him who was to prove its most dangerous enemy:

66 'Milan, May 15, 1833.


"A young Piedmontese nobleman, Camillo di Cavour, is about to set out on his travels. He was formerly an officer in the engineers, and, in spite of his youth, is already deeply corrupted in his political principles. I lose no time in giving this intelligence to the Commissioners of Police, with instructions not to permit the entrance of the person in question, if he should present himself at our frontiers, unless his passport is perfectly en règle, and, even in this case, only after the most rigorous investigation into his clothes and luggage, as I have reason to suspect he may be the bearer of dangerous documents."


In ten years which followed, the young politician, thus tinctured with liberal opinions, travelled over various parts of Italy, -visited Switzerland, Paris, England, and Germany. In 1843 he contributed for a French journal the first of a series of articles on Ireland; — and there are other evidences to show that he had studied the constitution of England and the practical work of the English system with interest and care. He always understood that system. He was devoted thus early to the system of free trade, on which he based his financial and economical system for Sardinia; and he made some studies of the relation of church and state, which he had ample occasion to draw upon in his contest, almost life-long, with the Papacy. Meanwhile, in these ten years of wandering, he showed none of the characteristics of an ambitious young revolutionist, preparing to strike. He was rather what

is called a man of the world, "not remarkable for excess either in pleasure or abstinence," says Mr. Dicey. This remark, to an American reader, needs to be qualified by the anecdote which immediately follows it, that on one occasion he had incurred gambling debts to the amount of £8,000. His father paid these debts, but told him that he should pay no more. True to the "in medio tutissimus ibis," Cavour did not abandon play, but never played for such high stakes again.


In 1843 he returned to Italy. He had learned a good deal of the processes of scientific agriculture in his travels, and he devoted himself to the introduction of improvements, on an extensive scale, on the family estate at Leri. His great compatriot, Ricasoli, his fellow-workman for the unity of Italy, and his successor at the head of her cabinet, studying men and affairs in a like school. Cavour interested himself in the establishment of infant asylums at Turin, and was elected a Director. But he was still so unpopular at court, that he was requested to withdraw his name from the list, and he obeyed. In the simplicity of the life of a nobleman administering his estates he remained until the wave of popular sentiment which is coeval with the liberal outbreak of poor Pius IX. swept over Italy. Under the relaxation of the severity of the laws of the press which followed, Cavour founded the Risorgimento journal in Turin, in company with Balbo, a statesman of reputation, afterwards Prime Minister. He acted at first as editor of this journal, and he wrote for it as late as 1850. The Risorgimento obtained a reputation and influence, which it still holds, in the control of public opinion in Italy. It advocated the independence of Italy, union between princes and people, progressive reform, and a confederation of the Italian states; it pledged itself to advocate free trade, and proposed, indeed, many of the improvements in administration which have since been adopted in Piedmont. Cavour undoubtedly exercised great influence through this journal, and his articles in it show strong good sense, and indeed a frequent prophetic discernment. But it does not appear, either from them or from the passages before us from his more elaborate works, that he spent other effort upon

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »