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Art. I.-1. Gosselin's Power of the Popes in the Middle Ages.
London : Dolman, 1854. 2. Roscoe's Lives of Lorenzo de Medici and Leo X. London : Bohn,
1853. 3. Life of Savonarola. By Dr, MADDEN. London : Newby, 1853. 4. Ranke’s History of the Popes. London : Bohn, 1853. 5. Machiavelli's History of Florence. London: Bohn, 1851. TO
CATHOLICS there can scarcely be a subject of
deeper interest than the character and the conduct of the Vicars of Christ—especially during the periods for which they respectively occupied the Chair of St. Peter: not because, as Protestants often ignorantly imagine, that the personal character of Pontiffs can possibly affect the argument as to their divine mission and supremacy, but because the question is one at all events of a painful and sorrowful scandal, which it must surely be, to a truly Catholic mind, a joy to be in any degree able to remove. And even apart indeed from any peculiar interest which Catholics cannot but feel in the question, it has an attraction of its own, founded on the noblest and most generous feelings of nature, which delight in the rescue of any great character from the rancorous tooth of calumny. As it is one of the meanest and most malignant tendencies of the human mind which disposes it to pharisaical detraction or slanderous denunciations, so it is an instinct of justice which should never be neglected, and a dictate of charity which should ever be cherished- to vindicate the victims of calumny, and rescue them from their load of unmerited obloquy: It is a noble exercise of intellect to dissect the fabrications of malignant falsehood, and destroy the in
VOL. XXXVIII.-NO. LXXV.
ventions of hate, and it is one in which as Protestant authors have engaged in the generous spirit of chivalry, so any Catholic writer should be, under the sacred influence of charity, happy to enlist his utmost energies. Above all, it should be so in the instance of any who have sat on that sacred seat with which to associate aught of scandal or of shame must bring grief to the Catholic heart. And as in those ages in the history of the Church in which iniquity has abounded, and the love of many has waxed cold, there have not been wanting parricidal children who have joined with her enemies to spoil and assail her, and to excuse or cloak their own iniquity, by impiety to her supreme Pontiffs, there are some of the Vicars of Christ whose characters have come down to us so blackened with calumny that candid Catholics and enlightened Protestants generally are equally ready to hold them up to execration as “bad Popes.” On the Continent Catholic intellect has for some time been devoted to the noble duty of defending the calumniated Pontiffs. Gregory VII., who had long laboured under a load of obloquy, has been triumphantly vindicated. Hurter has done a similar glorious service to the memory of Innocent VIII. Catholic historians have done much, if not enough to place in its true light the conduct and the fate of that unhappy victim of a despot's violence, Boniface VIII. And even in our own days, for that most maligned of Pontiffs, Alexander VI., there have not been wanting illustrious sons of the Catholic Church, not in Italy, but in Germany or France, who have, (we refer to the words of Rohrbacher and Jorry) in the true spirit of chivalry and charity, sought by a careful investigation of the truth to relieve his character from those foul hues with which calumny had blackened it. Thus, on the Continent, Catholics have awakened to this noblest of duties, and have begun to discharge it. It is, we regret to say, far otherwise in England. Hitherto, scarce any Catholic of eminent ability has treated of the characters of the calumniated Pontiffs in this spirit and with this object; indeed, one might almost say, (and certainly one of the works at the head of this article substantiates our remark;) if they have written at all it has been to reproduce the hacknied calumnies they ought to have exploded, and repeat the slanders they should have rather rejoiced to refute. It is sad, but true, that if the characters of any of these Popes have had any degree of justice done to