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these solely because we wish to see the second edition of the book immaculate. As a translation it is, except in a few trifles,
a really excellent. The direct, steady, balanced style of the original are all preserved. Nor does the courtly, diplomatic humour of Baron Hübner ever suffer in the words of Mr. Jerningham.
But we owe Mr. Jerningham very much more than congratulations. The historical department of our ecclesiastical lite. rature is so thinly supplied, that any honest addition to it deserves commendation; but to enrich it with such a work as this of Baron Hübner's deserves the highest praise. For Baron Hübner's is a work which, while it will have the deepest interest for English readers, English readers might expect in vain from any one of their own countrymen in this generation. The subject of it is a splendid subject for a biography. Sixtus the Fifth is one of the few men of all times whose life contains the elements out of which the highest genius might draw its inspiration, and upon which the most unwearied industry might be profitably employed. Baron Hübner found the evidence concerning the pontiff in that state of chaos which gives chances to the men who can bring order and light. It was his own good fortune to live in a time when the light was procurable, and to be in a position which peculiarly fitted him for procuring and using it. He made the most of his great advantages. Of a splendid man he has written a splendid biography.
The life of Sixtus Quintus had often been written beforehis character had often been estimated in the writings even of those who had not undertaken to give his history; but previous accounts of him generally laboured under these two disadvantages, that they were written, most of them by partisans, and all of them with small authentic evidence to guide the writers. Baron Hübner had before him evidence of the largest and most reliable kind; and this evidence he used simply as a judge and not as a pleader. “It is with the help,” he says (vol. i. p. 19), “ of the diplomatic correspondence of those times that we have undertaken to write the history of Sixtus V. These documents are the reports drawn up by the nuncios, by the ambassadors of the Emperor, of Spain, of France, of Tuscany, and of Venicethe instructions received from their governments—the autograph letters of the Pope, of Philip II., of Henry III., of the cardinals, envoys to the great powers, and of the agents of the League. These official documents, which are almost unknown as yet, are perfectly authentic, for they have been copied under our superintendence from the originals in the state archives of the Vatican, of Vienna, of Paris, Simancas, Venice, and Florence.” And, in p. 22, he writes :-" It is by gathering our information from anthentic sources and principally from diplomatic reports perfectly trustworthy as to facts, as well as by attaching great importance to the judgments of contemporary writers, that we have gone on with this study, which is the fruit of a long research, having for its sole aim to arrive at the truth as regards Sixtus V., and to proclaim it. Free from all thought of the present, we will bestow our whole attention on the past; for it is an historical work and not a casual story that we intend to publish.” This is a time when histories generally do not profess to be much more than casual stories, and when those which profess more do so to impart to fiction the interest of reality. But Baron Hübner has given the world what he proposed to give it-a work which will be at once acknowledged as a genuine addition to true and permanent historic literature,
The plan of the work is as it should be, very comprehensive. We do not admire that method of writing biography lately pretty much in vogue, which appears to start with the supposition that in order to know any man's history as it should be known, we must know the history of all the world beside. Neither do we approve of the meagre method that satisfied our fathers. There is a golden mean; and that mean appears to be determined by the principle that no man's history can be properly written unless it be clearly shown, in the first place, what work he had to do, in order that it may be shown, in the second place, to what extent and with what perfection, and unto what end he did it. Baron Hübner does this for Sixtus, and he does no more. But he does this with an originality of information that makes it invaluable to the scholar, and with a piquant beauty of style which makes it enjoyable by even that fastidious mortal, “the general reader.” We recommend, as especially useful and interesting, the chapter on “The Causes and Results of the Renaissance," in volume the first, and the chapter on “ The Society of Jesus,” in volume the second.
The popular view of Sixtus Quintus,-and Baron Hübner shows how that view became popular,— has not been favourable to that pontiff. He has been looked upon by people generally as a kind of cross between Nero, who fiddled while Rome was burning, and Xerxes, who was ambitious to chain the sea. He was cruel, crafty, hypocritical, avaricious, unscrupulous, thirsting for universal dominion. The worst qualities of the swineherd, the meanest vices of the monk, and the most impudent ambition of the Pope, found their ideal perfection in Sixtus the Fifth. Some good things were said about him, just as some good things are still said about Oliver Cromwell. His morals were irreproachable, his strength of will inflexible, his courage unfaltering, his power of work preternatural. But these things were said with a grudge: the one thing insisted upon was that he was a very large blot upon the Papal escutcheon; and as such he was a great convenience. If a man wished to put Catholicity into a corner by a compendious reference to the fruits she had borne, he had only to point to Sixtus the Fifth.
Baron Hübner, we have no doubt, set about the investigation of Sixtus' history with his own share of the general prejudice. He was not disposed, and even in his book does not appear disposed, to treat the rude old Pontiff gently. He goes out of his way occasionally to give Sixtus a touch of his humour. “He despised,” he says (vol. i. p. 217), “this world's riches as long as he had not any"; and the sincerity of the Holy Father's grief for the death of Francis, Duke of Tuscany, is proved from the fact that Francis (vol. ii. p. 61), “showed him endless attention; sent him the early fruits from his garden, and never asked him for money.” He does not conceal or palliate the faults of the Pontiff-his merciless severity; his rudeness to his court; his terrible fits of anger; his unfairness towards the Jesuits; his shiftiness with Philip of Spain; his bitter references to Gregory XIII. But the Baron is, like Sixtus himself, if severe and merciless, also just. He has the truth, and he tells it. He has the light, and he lets it in upon that “darkness visible” that lay over the Pontiff's history. He shows Sixtus as he really was : fierce man in a fierce time; a judge who showed no mercy, because to show it would have been to encourage crime; a king who, neither from his own subjects nor from foreign potentates, would tolerate the smallest infringement of his rights; a true Dalmatian, with much of St. Jerome's genius and all St. Jerome's fire; a great Pope, if ever there was one; fit imitator of the great Hildebrand ; fit model for other Popes that have yet to reign.
It is a very trite remark, though they who know it to be but a truism do not always act as if they believed it true, that a man's acts can be judged fairly only in the light of the man's circumstances. It is not hard to be virtuous if you have neither passion nor temptation; it is but natural that your face be a pleasant one when all your affairs prosper and all your future salutes you with smiles. But when all around you is confusion, and when all the world is plotting to carry the evils of your present into your future? Sixtus the Fifth was Pope at a juncture when an easy Pontiff would have been the ruin of Europe, and (humanly speaking) the ruin of the Church. The Refor. mation had laid hold on Germany, England, Denmark, France. It was threatening even Italy and Spain. Among professing Catholics something worse perhaps than Protestantism, - a liberalism like the liberalism of our own time,--was doing such fearful damage, that a confessor's first question to his penitent was a question as to whether he was not a secret infidel. “ Society was therefore placed," says our author (vol. i. p. 58), between Protestantism on the one hand, which was “ready to cross the Alps, and a weakened faith and corrupted morals, the inheritance left by humanism, the effects of which they were only beginning justly to appreciate.” France was torn and trampled, covered with blood and dirt, even worse than she is at present. Philip of Spain was looking for the establishment of a monarchy which would make him the master of Europe. The huge German Empire, unhappily in the hands of Hapsburg impotence, was slowly falling to pieces ; while from the East were heard the first muffled movements of that great Mussulman advance which, later on, was stayed only under the walls of Vienna. In such terrible times when the whole world, religious and political, was passing through one of those great periodic convulsions which, in the moral as in the physical world, are destined to introduce a fairer order and a more perfect life, Sixtus the Fifth was called to take that position which is alike the loftiest and the most difficult to hold.
Nor in his own City and States had the new Pope much cause for comfort. Italy swarmed with robbers. During the reign of the preceding Pontiff they numbered as many as 27,000. One of their leaders was in the pay of Protestant princes; and, in league with them, was planning the destruction, perhaps, of the Papacy itself, but certainly of the Pope's temporal power. There was such a good understanding between the bandits and the Italian nobles, that the former were always sure of asylum even in the palaces of the Pope's own city. Nay, "in Rome, during the reigu of his (Sixtus”) predecessor, neither man nor woman was in safety in their own houses even in the middle of the day.” (Vol. i. p. 263.) And the banditti
. were not the only cause of the new Pope's trouble at Rome. Both the city itself and its inhabitants were in a deplorable state. Everything was tending to stagnation. St. Peter's was incomplete, and people said it would never be completed. Nero's Obelisk was still prone in the mud, and even Michael Angelo had pronounced that there it would lie for ever. The Springs of Adrian were still leaping in the Latin Hills, but the aqueducts were all broken, and Rome had to live on muddy water. There was no security for life or property, and, consequently, there was little industry, and less enterprise. Even in ecclesiastical matters there was a lack of business efficiency at Rome. The old system of conducting Church affairs through a single Consistory was still in great part followed. But it was
daily discovering its unfitness for the Church in the new and difficult relations with European States upon which she had entered since the Reformation. The Consistory was not, and could not be expected to be, equal to the task of transacting the immense amount of business which now fell to its share. And, besides, a great portion of that business was, from its being of a partially political character, totally unsuited to a Court which, though composed of the highest ecclesiastical dignitaries, yet always inevitably represented various rival nationalities.
In the reign of Sixtus the Fifth, short and troubled though it unhappily was, all this was changed. The banditti were either captured and brought to justice, or driven, terrorstricken, out of Italy. Law became so potent that, "to quell a street-row, it was enough to whisper that Sixtus the Fifth was Pope." St. Peter's was completed. The Obelisk of Nero was raised up once more, and fixed in the great piazza of the great Cathedral of the world. The waters of the Latin Hills again came down to the Eternal City. "Monuments, streets, piazzas, fountains, aqueducts, obelisks, and other wonders, all the work of Sixtus V., have almost made me fail to recognize Rome," writes a contemporary of the Pontiff. (Vol. ii. p. 135.) “If I were a poet, I would say *** that, thanks to the power of that fervent and exuberant spirit, a new Rome has arisen from its ashes.” The great Roman congregations came to transact the business of the Church with that masterly ease which comes of method and divided labour. And all this was substantially the Pope's own work. What he did not formally do he did virtually by that wonderful energy which was not merely an example but an inspiration to all around him. Into his short reign of five years he compressed the work of fifty. looks as if what Baron Hübner says (Vol. i. p. 227) were literally true, that “Sixtus, foreseeing death, wished to replace time by the extent of his will, and called upon hours to give him what years seldom grant to ordinary mortals.” And that his almost superhuman activity was always guided by the very highest principle which should rule one in his position, even his bitterest enemy, Olivarez, King Philip's ambassador, has to admit in confidence to his master. " Appeal specially," writes Olivarez, in a secret letter to Philip (Vol. i. p. 154), “appeal specially to the religious sentiments of His Holiness, for he is full of zeal for all that concerns the faith.” All this Baron Hübner narrates with a clearness of arrangement and fulness of detail that leave nothing to be desired.
But naturally it is to Sixtus's political relations with the various European powers, and especially to his relations with