« FöregåendeFortsätt »
sadors declared that if he continued so to treat them, they would return before him no more; the Pope retorted that they might leave at once. The emotions of this interview increased the catarrhal fever under which Sixtus was suffering; he passed a restless night. After which he grew rapidly worse, and died five days later; it was remarked that as the breath departed from the body of Sixtus V. the elements seemed, as in the case of Cromwell, to participate in his final agony, and Rome was enveloped in a thick storm of thunder, and lightning, and darkness. The ferocious hatred of Olivarès breaks out in the few lines in which he announced the death of the Pontiff to Philip. He writes, * His attack was so sudden that his Holiness died without confession, and worse, worse, worse (peor, peor, peor); may God be merciful to him!'
Sixtus V. thus died precisely at the hour when he had drawn forth the hatred of Philip and his agents, and of the Spanish faction in France, to its fullest intensity. Spanish priests had lately been holding him up from the pulpits in Madrid to the execration of the people as the protector and favourer of heretics. Bandits in the pay of Spain were swarming again over the frontier, to renew the ancient plague of brigandage in as great intensity as ever; and a mercenary rabble, incited by Olivarès, rushed to overthrow the Pope's statue which had been erected by the Senate on the Capitol. The Constable Colonna, however, husband of the daughter of the niece of the Pope, prevented this outrage to his memory.
The Venetian Contarini wrote from Madrid :
• Serenissimo Principe. The more the death of the Pontiff is here considered, the more every one is pleased. Everyone speaks of it with great licence and little respect. They think that no one can succeed to the pontificate more hostile to the ideas of this court and less favourable to the party of the League in France.'
The inscription on the base of the statue of Sixtus V. says nothing of the great part he played in the service of the Church and in the affairs of Europe, but it records in the following lines the beneficial results of his administration in the city of Rome
"Sesto V., Pont. Max.
Ob quietem publicam,
S. P. Q. R.
energetically carried out, the wonderful activity of the Pope has other claims to attention in connexion with his own dominions. He introduced changes into the Papal institutions, one of which, the limitation of the number of cardinals to seventy and their division into congregations, remains to the present day; and it is by the immense labours which he undertook in the public works and for the improvement of the Roman city that Sextus now most attracts the notice of posterity. The chapter which Baron Hübner has devoted to a description of Rome in the latter half of the sixteenth century, and to the architectural works of Sixtus V., is one of the most pleasing and instructive parts of his book. The city of Rome to the present day bears all over its outward aspect the stamp of the sign-manual of the severe and imperious Pontiff. Art was in his reign no longer in its Medicean prime. No great painters and sculptors remained at his disposal; but he possessed a great architect and a great engineer, Giacomo della Porta and Domenico Fontana, and to these he imparted his own fiery energy. He had, moreover, at command a crowd of workers in metal, moulders, gilders and others, skilful in the ornamental arts to a degree of which they have left evidence in the Sistine and Borghese chapels in Santa Maria Maggiore. It was reserved for Sixtus to have, through Giacomo della Porta, the glory of raising the cupola on the drum of St. Peter's, the model of which had been made by Michael Angelo. Such was the zeal that Sixtus infused into his architect that Giacomo della Porta finished the cupola in two years, to the astonishment of the Roman people. But the most interesting account of all the undertakings of Sixtus V. is that left by Domenico Fontana of the erection of the obelisks. There are at present twelve obelisks in Rome; the first four of these were erected for Sixtus by Fontana. This architect and engineer had been discovered by the Pope in the days of his cardinalate, and he attached him thenceforth to his fortunes. Before the time of Sixtus, the obelisks were all overthrown and lying on the ground, with the exception of that of the Vatican, which was still erect in the neighbourhood of the palace, with its lower part deeply sunk in the earth. This was the first obelisk which the Pope instructed Fontana to move. The operation lasted a year, and its success was celebrated with religious ceremony. The obelisk was purified from its former supposed devotion to the worship of demons, an altar was erected at its base, a bishop sprinkled it with holy water and with a mitre on his head stretched his hand towards the stone and cried, Exorciso te. With a knife he traced the sign of a cross on all sides of the plinth, saying, In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti. A cross of iron was consecrated and raised to the summitthe trumpets sounded—the Te Deum was sung. The Swiss discharged their harquebuses, and the cannon and mortars in the place of St. Peter's, and on the Castle of St. Angelo, thundered forth in celebration of the event. There are four inscriptions on each side of the base, of which that facing St. Peter's is the most striking.
• Christus vincit,
Plebem suam defendat.' The erection of the obelisk in the Lateran was attended with greater difficulty, since it was broken in three pieces; but the fragments were so ingeniously soldered together by Fontana that the fractures are barely visible. Besides this obelisk, that in front of Santa Maria Maggiore and that also of the Piazza del Popolo owed their erection to Sixtus V. The restoration of the columns of Trajan and Antonine, the statues of St. Peter and St. Paul on their summits, the aqueduct of the Acqua Felice, the fountain of Moses in front of the bath of Diocletian, and several others, the enlargement of the Monte Cavallo, and the transportation there of the fine colossal figures of men and horses, said, but without grounds, to be the work of Praxiteles, the library and frescoes of the Vatican, the Scala santa, and a crowd of other erections and improvements, were accomplished by Sixtus during his brief pontificate, though it must be laid to his charge that he showed little respect for Roman antiquities, and that he destroyed the Septizonium of Septimus Severus, in order to use its materials in his own constructions.
Impartial history must, we think, determine that Sixtus V. was a great Pope, and that on a consideration of the whole results of his pontificate, posterity owes him a debt of gratitude. Had he allowed himself to become blindly the tool of the ambition of Philip II. it is impossible to say what European calamities might not have been the consequence. If Sixtus V. had suffered himself to be coerced into sending a military expedition into France at the time that the Duke of Parma forced Henri IV. to raise the siege of Paris, there can be little doubt that France would have fallen into the hands of Philip, an immense step have been made in the consolidation of his extensive but disjointed monarchy, and Spain might have become the mistress of the destinies of Europe. The Papacy in such case would have been little more than the humble handmaid of Spain, who would have disposed at will of the whole enormous moral and religious prestige of the Papal authority for the purposes of its own ambition.
The King of Spain would have been the virtual Pontiff. Sixtus V. even sarcastically suggested to Olivarès that Philip, as it was, had better proclaim himself Pope at once. As for France, whose independence, and whose brilliant and chivalrous genius, have enabled her to play so prominent a part in European civilisation, she might, had it not been for Sixtus, have been condemned to many long years of foreign oppression and of horrible convulsions, in the effort to get free from the grinding, crushing, stupifying grasp of Spanish dominion. The long, painful, and courageous resistance of Sixtus V. to the exigencies of Philip II. was thus really a battle delivered on behalf of European freedom, and his victory bas proved useful to the progress of humanity. Baron Hübner has, in fact, succeeded in presenting the character and policy of the Pope in a new light; for he was not, as is commonly supposed, the head of the League, and, far from being the tool or the accomplice of Philip II. and the Guises, he held in check their pretensions. Yet he was merciless, vindictive, and implacable, and as his faith in the divine origin of the spiritual tyranny of the Papacy was absolute—he would, had it been possible, have extirpated with fire and sword every Christian in Europe who refused to accept the Papal dogmas. The Inquisition under his rule dealt ruthlessly with every semblance of freedom of thought in Italy, and we have but to look to Spain to imagine what Europe might have become, had the Inquisition done its work as thoroughly everywhere else as it performed it there. Sixtus nevertheless possessed noble and valiant sympathies denied to Philip II., and he confessed, in speaking in the Consistory of his public works in Rome, that he was not insensible to the charms of glory. He was the last great Pope, and would have been owned as a worthy compeer by the greatest of that strange race of men who have successively occupied the chair of St. Peter, and claimed to be the highest incarnations of the Spirit of God upon earth.
Art. II.-1. The Mythology of the Aryan Nations. By
GEORGE W. Cox, M.A., late Scholar of Trinity College,
Oxford. In 2 vols. London: 1870. 2. Tales of Ancient Greece. By the Rev. G. W. Cox, M.A.
London : 1867. 3. A Manual of Mythology in the Form of Question and
Answer. By the Rev. GEORGE W. Cox, M.A. London:
R. Cox is already well known to classical students by his
• Manual of Mythology’and • Tales of Ancient Greece.' These carefully executed outlines and sketches, occupied mainly though not exclusively with the mythology of the old classic world, may indeed be regarded as preparatory studies for the more elaborate work now before us, dealing with the mythology of the Aryan nations as a whole. Mr. Cox is in many ways peculiarly fitted for the task he has thus undertaken. A scholar of varied culture and genuine literary enthusiasm, he is at the same time a thinker fond of original speculation and possessing an openness of mind that leads him to welcome eagerly even the most advanced theories of modern criticism. No English writer, perhaps, has pursued with such ardour the new lines of inquiry which the researches of German scholars in the direction of comparative philology and mythology have opened up. He early ranked himself under Professor Max Müller's banner, and became the avowed and zealous champion of his views of comparative mythology. While adopting these views, Mr. Cox has, however, from the first applied them independently to a wider range of facts than any previous inquirer. The value of his researches and results in these respects has been fully recognised by Professor Max Müller himself, who in a letter prefixed to the • Manual of Mythology'says: “To myself, the chief point of • interest in reading your book was the foundation which you • have supplied for the first time from the researches of com
parative philologists, and on which, as you have shown, stands • the whole structure of ancient mythology. I admire your
industry in collecting the materials of comparative my*thology which were scattered about in English, French, • and German journals and pamphlets. I admire your courage ' in undertaking, with these materials, to trace the plan of a * complete system of comparative mythology. I also admire
your self-denial in refraining from giving several interpreta• tions of Greek and Roman myths which, though plausible