Italy too had its Protestants; but Italy killed them; managed to extinguish Protestantism. Italy put up silently with Practical Lies of all kinds; and, shrugging its shoulders, preferred going into Dilettantism and the Fine Arts. The Italians, instead of the sacred service of Fact and Performance, did Music, Painting, and the like:--till even that has become impossible for them; and no noble Nation, sunk from virtue to VIRTU, ever offered such a spectacle before. He that will prefer Dilettantism in this world for his outfit, shall have it; but all the gods will depart from him; and manful veracity, earnestness of purpose, devout depth of soul, shall no more be his. He can if he like make himself a soprano, and sing for hire;--and probably that is the real goal for him.
But the sharpest-cut example is France;, to which we constantly return for illustration. France, with its keen intellect, saw the truth and saw the falsity, in those Protestant times; and, with its ardor of generous impulse, was prone enough to adopt the former. France was within a hair's-breadth of becoming actually Protestant. But France saw good to massacre Protestantism, and end it in the night of St. Bartholomew, 1572. The celestial Apparitor of Heaven's Chancery, so we may speak, the Genius of Fact and Veracity, had left his Writ of Summons; Writ was read;--and replied to in this manner. The Genius of Fact and Veracity accordingly withdrew;--was staved off, got kept away, for two hundred years. But the writ of Summons had been served; Heaven's Messenger could not stay away forever. No; he returned duly; with accounts run up, on compound interest, to the actual hour, in 1792;--and then, at last, there had to be a "Protestantism;" and we know of what kind that was!--
Nations did not so understand it, nor did Brandenburg more than the others; but the question of questions for them at that time, decisive of their history for half a thousand years to come, was, Will you obey the heavenly voice, or will you not?
Brandenburg, in the matter of the Reformation, was at first--with Albert of Mainz, Tetzel's friend, on the one side, and Pious George of Anspach, "NIT KOP AB," on the other--certainly a divided house. But, after the first act, it conspicuously ceased to be divided; nay Kur-Brandenburg and Kur-Mainz themselves had known tendencies to the Reformation, and were well aware that the Church could not stand as it was. Nor did the cause want partisans in Berlin, in Brandenburg,--hardly to be repressed from breaking into flame, while Kurfurst Joachim was so prudent and conservative. Of this loud Kurfurst Joachim I., here and there mentioned already, let us now say a more express word. [1484, 1499, 1535: birth, accession, death of Joachim.]
Joachim I., Big John's son, hesitated hither and thither for some time, trying if it would not do to follow the Kaiser Karl V.'s lead; and at length, crossed in his temper perhaps by the speed his friends were going at, declared formally against any farther Reformation; and in his own family and country was strict upon the point. He is a man, as I judge, by no means without a temper of his own; very loud occasionally in the Diets and elsewhere;-- reminds me a little of a certain King Friedrich Wilhelm, whom my readers shall know by and by. A big, surly, rather bottle-nosed man, with thick lips, abstruse wearied eyes, and no eyebrows to speak of: not a beautiful man, when you cross him overmuch.
OF JOACHIM'S WIFE AND BROTHER-IN-LAW.
His wife was a Danish Princess, Sister of poor Christian II., King of that Country: dissolute Christian, who took up with a huckster- woman's daughter,--"mother sold gingerbread," it would appear, "at Bergen in Norway," where Christian was Viceroy; Christian made acceptable love to the daughter, "DIVIKE (Dovekin, COLUMBINA)," as he called her. Nay he made the gingerbread mother a kind of prime-minister, said the angry public, justly scandalized at this of the "Dovekin." He was married, meanwhile, to Karl V.'s own Sister; but continued that other connection. [Here are the dates of this poor Christian, in a lump. Born, 1481; King, 1513 (Dovekin before); married, 1515; turned off, 1523; invades, taken prisoner, 1532; dies, 1559. Cousin, and then Cousin's Son, succeeded.] He had rash notions, now for the Reformation, now against it, when he got to be King; a very rash, unwise, explosive man. He made a "Stockholm BLUTBAD" still famed in History (kind of open, ordered or permitted, Massacre of eighty or a hundred of his chief enemies there), "Bloodbath," so they name it; in Stockholm, where indeed he was lawful King, and not without unlawful enemies, had a bloodbath been the way to deal with them. Gustavus Vasa was a young fellow there, who dexterously escaped this Bloodbath, and afterwards came to something.
In Denmark and Sweden, rash Christian made ever more enemies; at length he was forced to run, and they chose another King or successive pair of Kings. Christian fled to Kaiser Karl at Brussels; complained to Kaiser Karl, his Brother-in-law,--whose Sister he had not used well. Kaiser Karl listened to his complaints, with hanging under-lip, with heavy, deep, undecipherable eyes; evidently no help from Karl.