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the complacency or enthusiasm which that one object is fitted to inspire, though reanimated again and again in the mind, will as often be overborne by the shame, or the grief, or the indignation, or all these sentiments together, which will irresistibly invade the beholder of unworthy millions, in whose very debasement is found the measure of the elevation of the one noble exception. We are too closely related to the race for either benevolence to sanction, or sympathy to leave it possible, that we should be philosophically satisfied to regard the grand bulk of that race as answering a sufficient purpose in serving as a foil to a few individuals of eminent excellence;" or that we should coolly throw away the immense mass as a kind of waste and rubbish, necessarily heaped around during the operation of working out a few colossal forms of moral' and intellectual perfection, well worth that in their production so much material should go to waste.
But though neither the interest which we ought to feel, nor that which, as sharing the same nature, we are constrained to feel, if it were only through the medium of our pride, will suffer us, in making our estimates of the moral world, to be content to rest the value of a vast aggregate of human creatures on one or a few sublime individuals, and let the remainder go for nothing, yet in attempting to apprehend and verify the worth of that immense crowd, as beheld in some ages and nations, we are forced on a process to divest it of its actual appearance. We are compelled either to an exercise of abstraction and refinement, to reach at some sort of philosophical notion of the essential value of rational and moral creatures independently of their modifications; or to an exercise of fancy, representing the admirable agencies and transformations that might pass upon them, and the estimable and noble state of character to which it would not be impossible for them to be raised.
In the reveries on the conceivable modes in which a stupid, perverse, bigoted tribe or nation might be benefited, the imagination will readily give form to a diversity of grand expedients, of a quality corresponding to the more benign or severe temper in which they are conceived. In a mind constitutionally severe, and in the gloomy moments and the harsh and indignant moods of a more philanthropic spirit, one of the images most prompt to present themselves, and most complacently entertained and dwelt upon, will be that of an individual endowed with almost super-human faculties; possessed with an humble and awful fear of God, but toward human beings lofty, dictatorial, fearless, and inflexible; enlightened and impelled invariably by a consummate sense of
justice; invincibly resolute to effect that justice at all hazards, yet sagacious in the choice of means; and, to crown all this, invested with the most unlimited form that can be conceived of temporal power. Such a personage presented to the imagination, in the harsher moods of benevolent musing, will be instantly set to work on some perverse section of the human race; and with delight will be followed through a career in which, indifferent to life but as a space for the fulfilment of appointed duty, infinitely scornful of that idol of almost all other fervent spirits-glory, and caring incomparably less about either the love or the hatred of human beings than about the object of mending them-he will accomplish a grand plan of correction, in which intimidation, and chastisement, and coercion, shall be very largely employed to give authoritative force to the dictates of truth, and drive and frighten men as much as persuade them, into a state of less absurdity and iniquity.
Cardinal Ximenes has often recurred to our imagination as a character meeting several parts of this description in an unprecedented degree: the fatal fault was, that instead of being the castigator and crusher of persecuting bigots, he was himself one of the greatest of bigots in religion. Had he united the comparatively enlightened principles of Michel de l'Hôpital, relative to this great subject, with the vigorous, imperious austerity of his character, we should have been tempted to wish his external means of power ten times greater even than they were; in the exercise of which power we might at some moments of indignant feeling have been tempted to be pleased at seeing him acting out such a part, against the perversities and iniquities of a nation, as would have fixed upon him, in a less terrible and more useful sense, the famous denomination of Flagellum Dei.
It must perhaps be acknowledged, that in a milder state of feeling, the subject of the present biographical Essay would appear the preferable man to be invested with an immense arbitrary power; preferable, we mean, in point of mental temperament, setting out of view the vast difference between a popish Inquisitor and an enlightened friend of religious toleration.
Mr. Butler, we think, has rendered a real service to the public, by drawing together into a compressed arrangement, from a variety of works, which he enumerates and describes, the most important matters relating to the life and character of this eminent and admirable man. Every reader will wish that he had made a larger selection, when he had collected into one view so many materials.
The memoir is preceded by some notices of the funeral orations, and the eloges, which have been so much in fashion in France, and a succinct view of the revolutions of the jurisprudence of Europe before the time of the Chancellor de l'Hôpital.' This succinct view' compresses a great deal of information in a small space. He remarks that the formation of a perfectly distinct class of men for the practice of the law, may be regarded as an institution of modern Europe; he states the nature and extent of the legal profession in ancient Rome; notices the origination of various semi-barbarous but progressively improving codes of law from the institution of feudalism; and describes the consequences of the discovery, at Amalfi, about the year 1137, of a copy of the Pandects of Justinian, the zealous and extensive study of which work, resulted at length in a regular succession of civil lawyers.' Cujas, one of the greatest improvers of the science, if it may be so denominated, was persecuted in Italy, and found ' under the patronage of l'Hôpital, an honourable reception in 'France.'
This illustrious statesman was the son of a physician, and was born in 1505, at Aigneperse, in Auvergne. After having studied the law in several universities, he held, during a short period, an office at Rome; but soon returned to France, and married the daughter of John Morin, the lieutenant criminal, ' in consequence of which he obtained, in 1537, a charge of 'counsellor in the Parliament of Paris.'
There is a rather interesting digression on the parliaments of France, as distinguished from that of England. The origin of each was the same, and in their earlier periods both had a legislative as well as judicial operation. But in their progress they diverged into very different characters, and the difference was much in favour of England.
In the course of time, the Parliament of England became divided into its two houses, the Lords and Commons, and, together with the King, constituted the Legislature of the nation: but its judicial power generally fell into disuse, except in cases which are brought before the House of Lords by appeal. The reverse happened in almost every country on the continent; in them the parliament gradually lost its legislative authority, and subsided into a High Court of Justice for the last resort, and a court of royal revenue. It generally consisted of a fixed number of ecclesiastical peers, a fixed number of lay peers, and a fixed number of counsellors. All were equally judges, and had an equal right of giving their opinions, and an equal voice in the decree. Such was the constitution of the French Parliament when l'Hôpital was received into it. But, at that time, it had somewhat degenerated from its ancient splendour.' p. 13.
A very curious description follows, from the Abbé Gédoyn, of the personal and judicial habits and manners of the great law officers of that previous better age. Equity, severe industry, strict morals, plainness in the economy of life, and elegant literature, form its prominent features. All the virtues, the dignity, and the accomplishments, however, of that better period, descended in full measure to l'Hôpital.
One of the offices which he filled in succession in his progress up to the chancellorship, was that of superintendent of the finances; on which our Author observes,
This is a remarkable era in the history of France, as it was during l'Hôpital's administration of the finances that the French monarch first attempted to check that spirit of resistance to the royal will, which the Parliament of Paris had for some time shewed, and which at different times afterwards it exerted with so much effect, as frequently to paralyse the government, and ultimately to precipitate it into the revolution.'
The most unqualified encomiums are pronounced, and doubtless with the greatest justice, on his conduct in all his public employments thus far. But there is generally some weakness in the greatest personages that history has vaunted, to help our endeavours to be content at least, if not to make us actually vain, in thinking of the leading performers of our own times. This man, of capacities so ample, of activity so indefatigable, had not art enough, not sense enough, in twenty years of important public employment, during six of which he had the management of the finances, to make a fortune for himself! Though the reverse of every thing sumptuous in his habits of life, he had not at the end of that period money enough to be able to afford a tolerable portion with his daughter, his only child. What noble improvements in statesmanship were reserved for later times!
However imperfectly l'Hôpital had deserved it, his next ascent was to the highest honour, the chancellorship, to which he was appointed just at the time that the religious troubles in France had begun.' The doctrines of Calvin had made proselytes in the south of France; the ministers of Francis I. and Henry H. combated the heresy by persecution; the usual consequences,' says Mr. B. of persecution followed; the favourers of the new opinions rapidly increased: the spirit of 'fanaticism became general, and the whole kingdom was divided into the odious distinctions of Papist and Huguenot.'
All the remainder of this great statesman's official life was employed in the most earnest exertions to restrain the fury of popish bigotry, which rankled and raged in the royal house,
in the powerful family and party of the Guises, as an adjunct to their political ambition, in the general body of the ecclesiastics, and in a very large proportion of the nation. On several critical occasions his great talents and authoritative virtues had the effect of suspending or moderating the cruel measures which have rendered that portion of the French history, and of the history of the Romish Church, so infamous. But at length he found his opposition unavailing, and resigned his office. He lived to see, three or four years afterwards, the supreme triumph of the cause he had opposed, in the massacre of St. Bartholomew, which imbittered all his hours during the few subsequent months of his life. He died at Vignay, on the 13th of March, 1573, having in his highest as well as all his other public employments, so much forgotten the concern of personal emolument, that, says our Author, the small provision which he should leave behind him for his grand-children, afflicted his 'last moments;'-which we think, if there is a Providence, was the least founded of all the sorrows of such a man.
Considering to what Church our very learned and intelligent Author adheres, we think that much applause is due to the manner in which he has related the odious history of that period, and the emphatical condemnation he has pronounced on the Inquisition, and some other of the appointments and proceedings which consigned such multitudes of the best citizens of France to the grave. He even pronounces the censure of intolerance on a law which l'Hôpital himself was compelled in some sort to sanction, as the only way of preventing the establishment of the Inquisition in France, namely, the confirmation to the bishops of the cognizance of heretics in their dioceses. This,' says Mr. B., was too great a sacrifice to ' intolerance; but it gave the bishops no new power, and com'pletely eluded the project of the Inquisition,' after the Guises had obtained a resolution of the royal council in its favour.
We cannot much wonder that our Author should let fall some expressions tending to extenuate the atrocity of the persecution of the Huguenots, by insinuating that it was not solely and purely by their religion that they made themselves obnoxious to the hostility of the popish government. It is not at all necessary for a protestant to maintain that uone of their active leaders were, at any time, incited by any feelings or schemes of political ambition. It is too evident that some aspiring men, more intent on objects of personal and secular aggrandizement than on the vindication of religious liberty, did endeavour, and sometimes with a degree of success, to implicate the protestant cause with their schemes. It was, unfortunately, impossible for the Huguenots to have leaders of high rank and great weight in the state, without con