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prejudice. Nicholas Cardinal Cusa, a reformer worthy of the name, illustrates by his deeds and character the true reformation of the Church in Germany. Such are a few of the men of the century of the Renaissance whom interest in Aeneas Sylvius brings us to know.
The study of this chapter of ecclesiastical history is one replete with interest. Europe was then entering the penumbra of that great upheaval in Church and State and human intellect. which resulted in the birth of the modern world. Columbus, who will open the way to a new continent and double the extent of the world, is yet a boy; Copernicus, who will teach the world its place in the universe, will soon see the light; Gutenburg is at work upon his movable types which will revolutionize learning and bring the treasures of knowledge into the hands of all; it is the eve of the coming of the unprincipled Machiavelli, the founder of modern statecraft, and of Erasmus, the brilliant and cynical, the herald of that revolt, which will ever be associated with the monk of Wittenburg, who will come upon the stage at the end of the century. The Church is powerful in her temporal exaltation, but she is weakened by the abuses of her human representatives. It is the time of plurality of benefices, of warrior bishops, of superstitious observances, of secularism in the clergy; abuses loudly calling for the reform of the Church in head and members. She is still the Spouse of Christ, teaching the doctrines of her Founder, holy in her saints like Antoninus of Florence and John Capistrano.
We have directed attention to Aeneas Sylvius and his times, not because he is an eminently prominent figure in Church history nor that his century was one of excelling importance, but because his attractive personality stimulates our interest and shows how acquaintance with even a minor actor in the drama of ecclesiastical history and the close, study of a cross section of Church history, taken at a not obviously prominent point may be made the focus of rays which illuminate such important events as the Crusades and the Ottoman conquests, the Renaissance and the Reformation. The main point is to select as a central figure the man who really interests. All the advantages which the study of Church history offers, whether in acquisition of knowl
edge or mental culture, are best derived from the careful investigation of cross sections of history. While the facts of history are serviceable in se, yet the purpose of historical study is not attained by the mere learning of the events of history in chronological sequence. "History," it has been said, "maketh a young man to be old without wrinkles or gray hair, privileging him with the experience of age without the infirmities or the inconveniences thereof." But such history must be more than a bare tissue of names and dates and events. The dry bones of history must be clothed with flesh and blood and quickened with nerves. No college course is long enough to make that minute study of the whole of Church history which will accomplish what the study of history is destined to effect. The elaborate prospectuses of our colleges promise so much in history, as in other subjects, that they can fulfill but little. The student would be swung at the rushing pace of a Halley comet along the orbit of the path of the Church through the world's history. Quality, not quantity, counts here as in most places. Better a good acquaintance with a few critical periods of ecclesiastical history, and a consequent interest in the subject, than the summary covering of the whole area of Church history, with the result of a chaotic recollection of many indistinct events.
The personality of an attractive character as the centre of gravity of a period will fix the interest and the special study of his age will accomplish what history aims at as a culture study. Church history has no place in the curriculum unless it realizes the purpose for which history is taught. If the student during the four years of his college course has studied even one great character of ecclesiastical history each year and has viewed the events of four cross sections of history, he has gained a knowledge which will serve as a nucleus for further acquirement, which will have given him the historical method of investigation and equipped him for the study of other periods, and which, if well done, will have aroused in him that abiding interest which is the main object of the inclusion of Church history in the curriculum.
REV. JOSEPH M. WOODS, S. J., WOODSTOCK, MD.
"Consult and verify, verify and consult"-may be justly called the first and greatest commandment for the teachers of history. Their aim must be accuracy and truth. There can be neither one nor the other without the conscientious observance of this commandment. The teachers of history, therefore, must consult and verify, verify and consult. To do this they must have recourse to the sources of the history they are teaching. They must know what they are and how to handle them, as they are for history what observation and experience are for the natural sciences. Without this knowledge the teachers of history can acquire opinions more or less accurate by adopting the conclusion of distinguished writers; but this is not satisfying evidence; it is not what we call scientific knowledge. For let such teachers but meet or read some other more or less distinguished writers, who hold a view different from the first, and they will not know which to believe. To settle their minds, therefore, to convince themselves one way or the other, they must go to the sources, whence the writers themselves have drawn.
I referred to this topic in a paper read last year before the members of the History Section of this Association. In the present paper I wish to treat it more fully, yet briefly.
What, then are the Sources of History? They are the records, of any kind whatsoever, which in any way whatever hand down to us the testimony of the ancients concerning the events of the past. They are not, be it carefully noted, works drawn from these records, and written and published by the industrious authors; they are the very records themselves.
These records are of various kinds. You have written records, public or private. Those records are classed as public, which present to us the testimony of public men, who speak with the authority of the State back of them, or in their capacity of public officials. To this category belong such documents as
State papers, the encyclicals and official letters of Popes and Bishops, the Acts of Councils, and the like.
Private records are those which transmit to us the testimony of private individuals, as in their letters, for instance, or in their published books. It is hardly necessary to point out to you that these records have not the same weight and authority as public records.
There is another class of records, usually called monuments. By monuments are understood material records, such as buildings, coins, implements of war, statues, triumphal arches. All these and others like them are genuine records, since they, too, in their own way, because of their peculiar style of architecture, their form, the material out of which they are made, their representations, or the inscriptions upon them, bear witness unto us of the events of the past. The catacombs of ancient Rome are most valuable records, most valuable sources indeed for the history of early Christianity.
Still another source into which the teachers of history have to delve for the facts of bygone times is oral or popular tradition. Facts sometimes present themselves, of which no trace can be found either in written records, or any other contemporaneous document. They lay buried during years, centuries may be, in the blackest night, and then, all of a sudden, or gradually, after so long an interval, they rise from their darkness. Thousands of tongues recount them, often with precise details, but without ever putting forward a serious guarantee that would allow one to be quite sure of the existence of the facts and the faithfulness of the recitals. The original authors of this testimony are entirely unknown to us; so, too, are all the intermediate witnesses, who have sent it along down to the period in which we first note its rise.
This is oral or popular tradition. It may be described as that source of history which transmits to us a past event through the testimony of mediate witnesses, living long after the period. in which the event thus transmitted occurred, while the immediate witnesses, as well as the intermediate witnesses, through whom the event came to the mediate witnesses, are altogether unknown.
Here, in a necessarily brief compass, you have the different classes of the sources of history-written records, material records, popular tradition. From these the writers of history to-day must draw their materials for the making up of their works, whether these works be the history of a nation, a state, or a church, and to these same sources must the teachers of history in our schools and colleges have recourse either themselves or through others, to consult and verify, verify and consult.
Let me remind you now why and how you must do this. They who write historical works and text-books of history get their material from the records, or at least they make pretense of having done so, even though many of them are mere compilers from other authors. The sources are quoted again and again, and appealed to by them in support of their statements and conclusions. Now that the teachers of history may be able to keep tab on such writers, so often their guides in the classroom, they should know something about the processes which the conscientious and scientific historian is supposed to follow in handling his
What are these processes? The sources of history, the records and documents, may, be compared to the witnesses in a trial before the court. For they, too, are witnesses, witnesses of the past. Now a good lawyer does not accept without a demur the mere testimony of the witness on the stand. He inquires into the character of the witness, cross-questions him, draws him out, to learn who and what he is, and to make known unto others the value of his testimony. In much the same manner must the students of history look into the character of the documents upon which the writer of the history of a state, a nation, or a period bases his views, his assertions, and his conclusions. The witnesses in a court case may not be the persons they profess to be; they may give garbled or false testimony; they may not be well enough acquainted with the matter concerning which they make their deposition. Not otherwise is it with historical documents. They may not be authentic, not what they profess to be; they may be corrupted or mutilated; they may be falsely or wrongly interpreted by the historian; they may not speak the truth.