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he is not unworthy to climb the sierras and rest beneath the cork trees where we have so often enjoyed the company of Don Quixote. And he has the merit, almost miraculous to-day, of leaving us almost always to draw our own inferences from what he gives us. We can wander on in peace, secure against being forced back upon ourselves, or forced sideways to himself. It is as good to read through this book of pictures, as to stay in a house hung with Gobelin tapestry. The Gipsies are introduced here with even more spirit than in his other book. He sketches men and nature with the same bold and clear, though careless touch. Cape Finisterre and the entrance into Gallicia are as good parts as any to look at.
MR. Browning was known to us before, by a little book called "Pippa Passes," full of bold openings, motley with talent like this, and rich in touches of personal experience. A version of the thought of the day so much less penetrating than Faust and Festus cannot detain us long; yet we are pleased to see each man in his kind bearing witness, that neither sight nor thought will enable to attain that golden crown which is the reward of life, of profound experiences and gradual processes, the golden crown of wisdom. The artist nature is painted with great vigor in Aprile. The author has come nearer that, than to the philosophic nature. There is music in the love of Festus for his friend, especially in the last scene, the thought of his taking sides with him against the divine judgment is true as
The Sleep Waker. A Tale. Translated from the German of HEINRICH ZSCHOKKE.
WE would call attention to this little tale, which is remarkably well translated. It is, in itself, very pleasing, and the natural affinities of character, as developed by means of the trance of animal magnetism, are treated with fineness of observation and sympathy. Nothing can be more graceful than the little scene in which the Rose is given, and the way in which it is made to bear on the conduct of the story. The sweet and sustained tone of the magnetized, the aloofness with which the soul regards the blemishes of its personal, temporal existence, are what may be divined by those who have ever seen so much as the smile which accompanies this sleep in the body, awaking into the spirit.
The Life and Times of Girolamo Savonarola; illustrating the progress of the Reformation in Italy, during the Fifteenth Century. By JOHN A. HERAUD. London: Whittaker & Co. 1843. 12mo. pp. 420.
HISTORICAL records, as ordinarily presented, may raise in us the idea, that great minds are only permitted occasionally to appear, and but now and then, at long distant periods, one starts forth suddenly as a solitary, flitting meteor, leaving the welkin dark again. But were it possible, which we may safely affirm it is not, for the historian correctly to report the facts as they occurred, so that the reader shall be as well instructed as if he had been present, the course of humanity would give evidence of a very different law. God's spiritual dominion on earth is as continuously occupied by stars, as the material firmament. There is an unintermitted stream of inspiration and progress; and it is because it is observed only in part, and reported disjointedly, that we are insensible of the fact. Behind Shakspeare may be discovered a nebula of dramatic authors, whose success built up his, and whose genius aided the fame which eclipses their own. Milton is but the crowning stone until a happier poet shall carry the apex of sacred song one course higher.
Thus of Savonarola. Luther's eminence overshadows his fame; and the public mind having done justice to the idea of church reform, few readers, and fewer worshippers, are interested in apportioning shares of merit to the several persons who promoted it. Historic justice is, however, as beautiful in literature as pecuniary payment is needful in commerce. We, therefore, accept with gladness this effort to rescue the comparatively unknown Savonarola from undue obscurity. He was one link in that chain of intense minds which binds age to age, and man to man, which gives fresh evidence of the universal brotherhood of humanity, and which fails not to instruct us of that inmost and ruling Love, whose common paternity generates that brotherhood. Successively student, lover, monk, poet, reformer, priest, politician, prophet, enthusiast, contemplator, legislator, victim, martyr, he was undeviatingly the friend of man, the affectionate expounder of truth, the persevering writer, and the faithful servant of the most high, as far as consciousness was granted to him.
Born in times (1452) when the corruptions of the Church were quite or nearly at their height, such an ardent and true being must needs enter on a career ultimately involving his fate. The forms of virtue, always most rigidly maintained by man as he forgets the spirit in them, are yet sufficiently vivid to develop in such a soul the divine feelings of which they were originally the result.
Passing, in his studies, through the subtleties of Aristotle, and the sublimities of Plato, to the divine intuitions in the New Testament Scriptures at a period when a sincere and faithful appeal to them was very rare, he became elevated to the position of the Italian Luther, antecedent in time to the German reformer, and as distinguished above him by more gentleness and nobler poetic tone. In practical tendency of being, the martyred Italian monk was no less eminent than the sturdy German student. The two qualities of divine love and moral action were united in him, without the intervention of a calculating rationality which not unfrequently deadens the holiest emotions. Hence his preference for the Dominican order. For the zeal he brought to that brotherhood could well employ the controversial learning they could teach him; and without an activity in "doing good" his soul could not be satisfied.
At the age of twenty-three years he abruptly quitted his paternal home at Ferrara, and entered the Dominican monastery at Bologna, as lay brother, where his talents and fervor were too justly appreciated to allow him the humble occupations he would have selected, and he was appointed to the highest offices for which nature and learning qualified him. His temperament, described as the "sanguine-choleric," rendered him equally susceptible of "hope and anger; " and such a nature, in connexion with an undefiled conscience and pure piety, aroused in him the highest indignation and energy, when he discovered that the brotherhood were as far estranged from holy principles and practices as the world he had quitted.
He hesitated long before he could accept the priestly office from hands so ill qualified to give it validity. Notwithstanding his poetic feelings, he was not a little opposed to the scientific music introduced into the Church, as he said, " by the devil to prevent mental devotion, and to delight the senses without producing spiritual fruits." He found no gospel commanding that we should keep in the church crosses of gold or silver, or other precious things, but he had found in the gospel, “I was an hungered and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty and ye gave me no drink!" His tendencies were all favorable to a purely personal, rather than a ceremonial religion. And his then unprecedented study of the divine written oracle did not close his soul against the immediate presence of the same divine authority, a fact doctrinally countenanced by every formal church only so long as its priesthood retains the exclusive power of interpreting the Spirit's voice. So far as Savonarola claimed the right of interpretation for himself, he may be considered as essentially a Protestant, and his memory has not remained unassailed on this ground. Contemplating all words
and outward things from inward life, the defections of priests and people were alike manifest to him. His writings generally partake strongly of this mystic character. Spread over nearly thirty years, they are numerous and varied, chiefly, however, consisting of poems, epistles, sermons, and scripture paraphrases in Italian and Latin, a complete catalogue of which Mr. Heraud has now furnished.
Seven years were passed by Savonarola in his lay noviciate, travelling from place to place by the direction of his order, and teaching from cloister to cloister; thus carrying out the reforming idea with which he was so strongly impressed. He remained unspoiled even in the priestly office; the degradation in the Church having the effect rather of exciting him to firmer speech, than of quelling the truth within him. "Would you have your son a wicked man," he was wont to say, "make him a priest; O, how much poison will he swallow!" On the subject of prayer, he writes, "Those who will always use vocal and not mental prayer, act as if they chose to take medicine perpetually, and never to be cured. If it happen, by the grace of God, that the soul unites itself with him in such love and contemplation, that vocal prayer cannot longer be continued without hindering this contemplation, the suppliant should omit the remainder of his vocal, and continue his mental orisons, the great object of prayer being attained by such converse with God."— p. 82.
Savonarola continued his literary instructions subsequent to his ordination, his talents rendering him popular, and his lectures successful. In private remonstrance he was no less happy, and instances of conversion by his means are recorded. The monastery having removed to Florence during a war, he was selected to preach; and, although at the outset he entirely failed in the new capacity, he became, by diligent study and deeper inward communion, no less renowned in the pulpit than at the lecture-table. He exposed vices in the highest persons, assailed the wickedness of the most powerful, even in the pulpit of the church itself denouncing the crimes of its rulers with so much sincerity, truth, and eloquence, that the people hailed him as a prophet. This popular attribution, the means by which his fame and influence were spread abroad, he did not so distinctly explain or deny, but that it could be ultimately used, as it was used, for his accusation and death. He seems, indeed, rather to have confirmed the notion; and one of his contemporaries reports, "began to enumerate some mysteries about an impending destruction, although he concealed them under cover of sacred scripture, that impure men might be prevented from perceiving them, fearing lest the holy thing should be given to the dogs. The sword of the Lord," he repeatedly exclaimed, "will soon and suddenly come upon the earth."
So long as no great or immediate danger threatened the authorities from such preaching, the talents and solemnity of the preacher ensured him respect and even promotion. He was chosen Prior of the Dominican monastery of San Marco at Florence, erected by Cosmo di Medici at great expense, and favored by a rich library. The great Lorenzo di Medici in vain endeavored to seduce him by acts of courtesy and munificence. He remained faithful to conscience, and even proceeded so far as to put himself in opposition to him, on account of the social evils resulting from aristocratic privileges which no benevolence can gloss.
"In person he was of middling stature, rather small than large, but erect and easy; fair, almost florid in complexion, with a high, bold forehead remarkably furrowed; his eyes were brilliant, and of such a blue as the ancients called glauci, shadowed by long, reddish, eyelashes; his nose was prominent and aquiline, which added much to his beauty; his face was rather plump than thin; his cheeks somewhat rounded, and a full underlip gave sweetness to his countenance; the face was well placed, and every other part of his person proportioned and firmly knit, exhibiting in all his gestures and movements an air of gentleness and gracefulness. His hands were bony, and so little covered with flesh, that when held against the light they seemed almost transparent; his long spreading fingers ended in very pointed nails. His carriage was upright; his manners grave, equal, resolute, tempered by humble courtesy, polished and agreeable in every action."
- p. 141.
On the death of Lorenzo, political events succeeded, in which Savonarola bore an important part, and was enabled to carry some of his reformatory ideas into practice, at least as respected monasteries. Practical measures roused up enemies at Rome; accusations were brought against him, and after various vicissitudes he was cited to Rome for having predicted future events. Sickness and some apology to the Pope purchased his excuse, and on recovery he again entered the pulpit. The Pope, like Lorenzo, tried, without success, to attract him from his duty, by offer of a cardinalate, but he would have "no other red hat than that of martyrdom covered with his own blood." In every successive sermon his principles were developed in opposition to the vices of authority. His preaching was suspended, he was again cited to Rome, and put upon his defence. He vindicated himself, was again ordered to preach. Proceeding in his reforming career, he proposed a council of the Church, and brought himself into such antagonism with the papal authority, that he was excommunicated. Again he was permitted to preach, and penned warm remonstrances to the Pope. He attacked more unsparingly than ever the depravity of the clergy. He declares,
"The scandal begins at Rome, and goes through the whole; they are worse than Turks and Moors. Begin only with Rome, and you will find that they have won all their spiritual benefices by simony. Many seek them for their children and brothers, who enter them with inso