Page images
[ocr errors]


or the husbandman *. In the mean while, his unfortunate Greeks were exposed to all the miseries of exile and poverty; for the support of each stranger, a monthly allowance was assigned of three or four gold florins; and although the entire sum did not amount to seven hundred florins, a long arrear was repeatedly incurred by the indigence or policy of the Roman court f. They sighed for a speedy deliverance, but their escape was prevented by a triple chain; a passport from their superiors was required at the gates of Ferrara; the government of Venice had engaged to arrest and send back the fugitives; and inevitable punishment awaited them at Constantinople; excommunication, fines, and a sentence which did not respect the sacerdotal dignity, that they should be stripped naked, and publicly whipped i. It was only by the alternative of hunger ordispute that the Greeks could be persuaded

- to

* For the Emperor's hunting, see Syropulus, (p. 143. 144. 19 i.). The Pope had sent him eleven miserable hawks : but he bought a strong and swift horse that came from Russia. The name of janizaries may surprise; but the name, rather than the institution, had passed from the Ottoman to the Byzantine court, and is often used in the last age of the empire.

+ The Greeks obtained, with much difficulty, that, instead of provisions, money should be distributed, four florins per mouth to the persons of honourable rank, and three florins to their servants, with an addition of thirty more to the Emperor, twenty-five to the patriarch, and twenty to the prince or despot Demetrius. The payment of the first month amounted to 69 flotins, a sum which will not allow us to reckon above 2cc Greeks of every condition, (Syropulus, p. 164. 1 os.). On the 20th October 1438, there was an arrear of four months ; in April 1439, of three ; and of five and a half in July, at the time of the union, (p. 172. 225. 27.1.).

f Syropulus (p. 141. 142. 204. 221.) deplores the impri$ongent of the Grecks, and the tyranny of the Emperor and

[ocr errors]


to open the first conference; and they yielded with
extreme reluctance to attend, from Ferrara to Flo-
rence, the rear of a flying synod. This new trans-
lation was urged by inevitable necessity : the city
was visited by the plague; the fidelity of the Mar-
quis might be suspected; the mercenary troops of
the Duke of Milan were at the gates; and as they
occupied Romagna, it was not without difficulty
and danger, that the Pope, the Emperor, and the
bishops, explored their way through the unfre-
quented paths of the Apennine *.
Yet all these obstacles were surmounted by time
and policy. The violence of the fathers of Basil
rather promoted than injured the cause of Eugenius:
the nations of Europe abhorred the schism, and
disowned the election, of Felix the Fifth, who was
successively a Duke of Savoy, an hermit, and a
Pope; and the great princes were gradually re-
claimed by his competitor to a favourable neutra-
lity, and a firm attachment. The legates, with some
respectable members, deserted to the Roman army,
which insensibly rose in numbers and reputation :
the council of Basil was reduced to thirty-nine
bishops, and three hundred of the inferior cler-
gy f; while the Latins of Florence could produce
- the
* The wars of Italy are most clearly represented in the
13th volume of the Annals of Muratori. The schismatic
Greek, Syropulus, (p. 145.), appears to have exaggerated the
fear and disorder of the Pope in his retreat from Ferrara to

Florence, which is proved by the acts to have been somewhat more decent and deliberate.

+ Syropulus is pleased to reckon seven hundred prelates in the council of Basil. The error is manifest, and perhaps vo


[ocr errors]

C. H. A. P. the subscriptions of the Pope himself, eight cardi

[ocr errors]

~~ mals, two patriarchs, eight archbishops, fifty-two

bishops, and forty-five abbots, or chiefs of religious orders. After the labour of nine months, and the debates of twenty-five sessions, they attained the advantage and glory of the re-union of the Greeks. Four principal questions had been agitated between the two churches : 1. The use of unleavened bread in the communion of Christ’s body. 2. The nature of purgatory. 3. The supremacy of the Pope. And, 4. The single or double procession of the Holy Ghost. The cause of either nation was managed by ten theological champions; the Latins were supported by the inexhaustible eloquence of Cardinal Julian; and Mark of Ephesus, and Bessarion of Nice, were the bold and able leaders of the Greek forces. We may bestow some praise on the progress of human reason, by observing, that the first of these questions was now treated as an immaterial rite, which might innocently vary with the fashion of the age and country. With regard to the second, both parties were agreed in the belief of an intermediate state of purgation for the venal sins of the faithful; and whether their souls were purified by elemental fire was a doubtful point, which in a few years might be conveniently settled on the spot by the disputants. The claims of supremacy appeared of a more weighty and substantial kind;


Juntary. That extravagant number could not be supplied by all the ecclessiastics, of every degree, who were present at the council, nor by all the absent bishops of the West, who, exTrcrly or tacitly, might adhere to its decrees.

yet, by the Orientals, the Roman bishop had ever c H A p.

been respected as the first of the five patriarchs; nor did they scruple to admit, that his jurisdiction should be exercised agreeable to the holy canons; a vague allowance, which might be defined or eluded by occasional convenience. The procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father alone, or from the Father and the Son, was an article of faith which had sunk much deeper into the minds of men; and in the sessions of Ferrara and Florence, the Latin edition of filioque was subdivided into two questions, whether it were legal, and whether it were orthodox. Perhaps it may not be necessary to boast on this subject of my own impartial indifference ; but I must think that the Greeks were strongly supported, by the prohibition of the council of Chalcedon, against adding any article whatsoever to the creed of Nice, or rather of Constantinople *. In earthly affairs, it is not easy to conceive how an assembly of legislators can bind their successors invested with powers equal to their own. But the dictates of inspiration must be true and unchangeable; nor should a private bishop, or a provincial synod, have presumed to innovate against the judgement of the Catholic church. On the substance of the doctrine, the controversy was equal and endless : reason is confounded by the procession of a deity; the gospel, which * The Greeks, who disliked the union, were unwilling to sally from this strong fortress, (p. 178. 193. 195. 20.2. of Sy

ropulus). The shame of the Latins was aggravated by their

producing an od M.S. of the second council of Nice, with filioque in the Nicene creed. A palpable forgery (p. 173 ).

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

c H. A.P. which lay on the altar, was silent; the various

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

texts of the fathers might be corrupted by fraud, or entangled by sophistry; and the Greeks were ignorant of the characters and writings of the Latin saints *. Of this, at least, we may be sure, that neither side could be convinced by the arguments of their opponents. Prejudice may be enlightened by reason, and a superficial glance may be rectified by a clear and more perfect view of an object adapted to our faculties. But the bishops and monks had been taught from their infancy to repeat a form of mysterious words; their national and personal honour depended on the repetition of the same sounds; and their narrow minds were hardened

and inflamed by the acrimony of a public dispute. While they were lost in a cloud of dust and darkness, the Pope and Emperor were desirous of a seeming union, which could alone accomplish the purposes of their interview; and the obstinacy of public dispute was softened by the arts of private and personal negociation. The patriarch Joseph had sunk under the weight of age and infirmities; his dying voice breathed the counsels of charity and concord, and his vacant benefice might tempt the hopes of the ambitious clergy. The ready and active obedience of the archbishops of Russia and Nice, of Isidore and Bessarion, was prompted and recompensed by their speedy promotion to the dignity of cardinals. Bessarion, in the first debates,

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »