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his celebrity; and from his imperfect intelligence, and from the letters of Petrarch, are principally derived the notices collected and admirably illustrated by Professor MEINERS.
The second life is that of John Reuchlin of Pforzheim. Except Luther, Erasmus, and the great martyr of German liberty, Ulrich of Hutten, no man of letters who flourished about the end of the fifteenth century made a greater impression on his contemporaries, nor gave a more sensible bias to opinion, than Reuchlin. His life is well adapted to throw light on the character and manners of his times, on the state of the schools and of science, on the almost incredible insolence of the clergy, on the commencement of a most serious and eventful struggle between the new light and the old darkness, and on the favourable influence even of a partial and crepuscular day on the morals, the liberties, and the happiness of the people. It is interesting to watch the dawn of the morning of the Reformation. Yet the reflecting reader will be surprised that, a century and half after the evulgation of Roman and Greek literature, and half a century after the introduction of printing, it should still have been so difficult to form the mind by the study of good books, as it continued to be in the time of Reuchlin. Numerous as were the public instructors dispersed through the schools of Germany, and powerful as was the combination of princes and free towns that countenanced Reuchlin, their united efforts did not avail to win a complete victory over a single order of mendicants. We too (continues the worthy Professor) live in the dawn of an ascending Reformation, and may trace in the fortunes of Reuchlin much analogy with those of many of our contemporaries. The teachers and defenders of truth may imbibe, from the example of his life, courage, hope, and consolation: they will wish that the exalted in power and condition may, in our times, lend the sanve aid to the cause of improvement which has secured the gratitude of posterity to the patrons of the Reformation: but they will not despair, if left unaided, to combat, with the shield of truth, under the banners of duty, in behalf of a new and mightier innovation.'
Henry Cornelius Agrippa is the third remarkable man in the series. He was born at Nettesheim, in 1487, and studied at the university of Paris; where he formed a very intimate friendship with Landolfo an Italian, and with various young men of salents from different corners of Europe. Agrippa and his friends had a taste for the occult sciences, for alchemy, divination, dæmonurgy, and astrology. For the cultivation of these delusions, they founded a secret society at Paris, defended against the profane by peculiar rites of admission. The sepa
ration of this cabbalistical brotherhood did not occasion the dissolution of their lodge: on the contrary, each of the members endeavoured to found in his own neighbourhood corresponding societies, for similar purposes. In 1510 Agrippa was sent to England on some commission, relative, probably, to the treaty between Henry VIII. and the French king; and on this occasion, as appears by his published letters, he founded in London one of those secret societies for magical pursuits. We know not whether the internal archives of the Free-masons favour the opinion, that their order was then first introduced into Great Britain.
Agrippa distinguished himself early in a military capacity. He took from the peasants of Navarre a strong fortress, and a head-quarters of insubordination, while in the service of France. He afterward passed into that of the Emperor, and was knighted by Charles V. in Italy, on the field of battle, for his prowess. He was unsteady in his pursuits, however, and was continually stopping his progress in one line, in order to begin his advancement in another. He took a doctor's degree in three faculties, wrote Latin with vehement eloquence, practised physic, delivered lectures in most of the literate towns of Europe, cast nativities, taught the secret sciences, and finished his career of promise and of talents as an itinerant borrowing adventurer. His books De Vanitate Scientiarum and De occulta Philosophia are the most celebrated: but his pen was very productive, and some of his writings are supposed still to exist in manuscript. A strange mixture of active and passive dupery characterises Agrippa: an alternation of sceptical contempt, and of superstitious credulity respecting the occult arts. If his assertions may be credited, he had attained that intercourse with demoniacal natures which was the boast of Plotinus and Jamblichus; and his magical pretensions found so much credit with his contemporaries, that they describe him as carrying about with him a devil in the form of a black dog. His opinions, strange as they were, he derived from examination, not from tradition; as he freely attacks many theological prejudices and religious abuses".
The Second Volume opens with the life of John Picus of Mirandola. A severe examination of his works will not justify the adulation which his contemporaries bestowed on this prince. The peculiarities of his fortunes, of his intellect, and of his charac
Among the theological speculations of this author, occurs the following commentary on the Fall: "Hunc serpentem-non alium arbitramur quam ipsum carnalis concupiscentia genitale viri membrum, membrum reptile, membrum serpens, membrum lubricum, variisque anfractibus tortuosum, quod Evam tentavit atque decepit." Opera, tom. ii. p. 553.
ter, have however a high degree of interest; and his position in the centre of so many remarkable men gives occasion to several excellent excursions, concerning the literature and pursuits of his age.
To this piece of biography succeeds an erudite account of Angelo Poliziano. The study of the classics was never in higher estimation than at Florence in the time of Politian; accordingly, his excellence in that department, as a lecturer, a commentator, and a composer, in the learned languages, raised him to an eminence which equal attainments would not now secure. Much of the literary history of Florence has been condensed into the admirable notes which accompany this life, and which will be found replete with instruction, even by those who have expatiated through the pleasantly expanded pages of Roscoe's Life of Lorenzo dei Medici.
The biography of Ambruogio degli Agnoli, commonly called by his contemporaries Ambrosius Traversarius, next occupies our author. It coincides with the period immediately succeeding that of John Malpagbino and Chrysoloras, and gives occasion to the compilation of many curious notices concerning the progressive evolution of the Italian mind.
Herman von dem Busche, better known by the literary name of Rudolf Agricola, and (as we should have thought) sufficiently characterised by Bayle, has obtained from the patriotism of our Professor an article of 85 pages. It must be acknowleged, however, that much gratitude is due to those who first transplanted beyond the Alps the classical languages of antiquity, and taught the Roman laurel and the Grecian olive to flourish beneath a northern sky.
The Third Volume is wholly devoted to the instructive life of Ulrich von Hutten. Not only the character and merits of this celebrated young and noble reformer, but many remarkable points in the history of the Reformation, are set in a clearer and juster light by the industrious research and unprejudiced sense of Professor MEINERS. He expresses himself desirous of promoting, and willing to superintend, a complete edition of the scattered and numerous writings of his hero; and he conceives that their historical value would render them acceptable in each of the important libraries of Europe. We earnestly hope that this enterprise will be brought to bear: the works of almost every writer are but partially accessible, at any considerable distance from the fount of publication, until the gratitude of his countrymen thinks fit to form a collective edition of his labors. All writings, which throw light on the religious revolution of Luther and Calvin, acquire an additional importance at a time when we are just become sufficiently
indifferent to the doctrinal peculiarities which they superîn duced, to appreciate with complete impartiality the equivocal Its civil wars and its massacres exvalue of the Reformation. tended wide, and endured long. Every country which it disturbed without emancipating, such as France, was evidently injured by it. Italy was at that æra the centre of learning and refinement: an innovation originating there would, indeed, have been likely to quadrate with the ultimate inferences of progressive inquiry. Change follows its most natural movement, when it emanates from the centre towards the circumference; when it begins in a metropolis, and radiates into the provinces. Not so when it begins at the circumference, and advances towards the centre: it is then less likely to be improvement, because it probably originates in inquiries less comprehensive, and in the comparative sentiments of fewer minds. May it not be suspected that the insurrections of the German boors alarmed into an efficient intolerance the cautious priesthood of Rome? The earliest index expurgatorius is subsequent to the first eruption of the Protestant troubles; and with what a mass of future restraint and intellectual extinction was this black list pregnant! May it not be suspected that those purer innovations, over which the great mind of Lelio Socini was brooding, and to discuss which several conventions of learned noblemen had been held at Vicenza, might have one day found in the virtue of an Hadrian an efficient support from the papal chair itself, but for the terrifying outrages of the northern reformers? May it not be suspected that a rational creed, a vernacular liturgy, a married clergy, and a significant ritual, could have been introduced, without that vulgar iconoclasm which has estranged until this day the fine arts from every Protestant community, and without those appeals to the private judgment of the ignorant which have shocked us with an assortment of the most groveling fanaticisms? Mr. Gibbon, however, (V. 536,) decides differently; and, like Professor MEINERS, attributes to the Reformation an important utility."
With a reflection which terminates the life of Ulrich, we conclude our notices:
• Experience and history concur to teach that real or supposed oppressors, either from carelessness or from ignorance of human nature, never seize on the right period to quash or to redress complaints. Force is never exerted against the discontented, until their strength overpowers the contempt with which at first their clamors are treated: it is then too late, and the display of authority rather aggravates than coerces. This was observable both at the beginning of the ecclesiastical revolution of Germany and of the political revolution of France; and I am convinced that all former revolutions will in this respect avail nothing in the conduct of modern rulers. Good and
wise sovereigns never let alone the correction of abuses until they become the sources, or pretexts, for the general and loud complaints especially of those who excel by the influence of their talents and respectability. Frivolous or ignorant sovereigns, on the contrary, such as Leo X. and Louis XVI. always choose to be lulled into a persua sion that the complaints of their subjects are of little moment; and when they can no longer dissemble to themselves the fact, it is too late to direct the storm. Violent revolutions are most inevitable in those circumstances, in which the advantages derived from abuses and mismanagement are so great, and the persons sharing these advan tages are so numerous, that it cannot be expected from the prevalent selfishness of human nature to surrender these, usurped emoluments without a struggle. Such was the case on the eve of the Reformation. The Romanists, as Ulrich observes, made a jest of their religion as well as of morality; and they would willingly have relinquished every dogma, and have accepted even a new gospel from Luther, could the change of opinion have been made compatible with their dispensations, their indulgences, their bishoprics, their prebendaries, and their chapters:-but these things had too solid a value to be relinquished otherwise than by force.'
The cast of reflection, and the kind of entertainment, to be found in this valuable work, will now be sufficiently apparent to the reader.
ART. X. Oeuvres Completes de FRERET; i.e. The Complete Works of FRERET. 20 Vols. 12mo. 300 Pages in each. Paris. 1796. AMONG the most respectable infidels of the French school, is generally classed NICHOLAS FRERET, the author of this voluminous collection. The correspondence of Voltaire and his disciples has discovered a combination of intolerance and profligacy, very dishonourable to the moral culture of these new mystagogues. What is known of Buffon, of Rousseau, and of Diderot, is equally disreputable to the personal influence of their tenets. The whole public of France has exhibited, in too many instances, during the revolution, a cruelty and a brutality which scarcely ever disgraced human nature under any other form of superstition; and which have rendered every pupil of philosophism and mortalism an object of social suspicion. The eulogy of FRERET, prefixed to this first collective edition of his works, tends to mitigate this censure: his writings display sound erudition, and his conduct manifested uniform probity.
The first six volumes consist of Historical Dissertations, originally published in the Memoirs of the Academy of Inscriptions. They relate to the early history of Greece and Rome, to the genealogy and æra of Pythagoras, to Assyrian chronology, to the historic value of Xenophon's Cyropædia, to APP. REV. VOL. XXIV. Nn