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ART. J.-Nunziatura in Irlanda di Monsignor Gio. Batista Rinuccini, Arcivescovo di Fermo, negli anni 1645 a 1649, publicata per la prima volta su' MSS. originali della Rinucciniana, con documenti illustrativi, per cura di G. AIAZZI, Bibliotecario della Medesima. Firenze, 1844. (Mission of Monsignor Gio. Batista Rinuccini, Archbishop of Fermo, as Nuncio to Ireland, from 1645 to 1649, published for the first time from the original Manuscripts in the Rinuccinian Library, with Illustrative Documents. By G. AIAZZI.) Florence. 1844.
THE publication before us, though interesting and important in a high degree, can scarcely be said to contain any direct and positive addition to the amount of our historical knowledge. The memoir,* or historical account of his mission, presented by the nuncio to the pope after his return to Rome, which occupies a small part of the present volume, has, we believe, already been published; and several of the letters have been quoted by Carte and Birch, and through them, or directly, by many other historians. The bulk of M. Aiazzi's publication consists of the original despatches sent by Rinuccini to Cardinal Panfilio, nephew and minister to Innocent X., and to Panfilio's successor, Cardinal Panzirolo; with some less confidential letters to Cardinal Mazarine, Queen Henrietta Maria of England, and other persons of rank and importance. To these the editor has added the original instructions given to the nuncio, the bull from which he derived his authority, and some very curious extracts from the occasional directions forwarded to him from Rome. His own contributions are confined to a short preface, and a somewhat meagre and unsatisfactory biography of Rinuccini. It does not appear whether all the
*The longer Latin work commonly quoted as the Nuncio's Memoirs' is, as M. Aiazzi informs us, not the composition of Rinuccini himself. It appears to have been compiled several years after his death with the assistance of the documents which he had left. M. Aiazzi says that the handwriting is not that of an Italian, and he is inclined to attribute the work to some learned Irishman-a supposition calculated in some degree to diminish its value.
VOL. XXXIV. NO. LXVII.
extant despatches have been published. The nuncio refers to many additional letters and documents not included in this collection; but it is probable that several of his despatches were intercepted by the parliamentary cruisers, or otherwise lost. Those which remain form a narrative of his mission, which is nearly continuous, and evidently more authentic than the memoir, naturally coloured as it was by a wish to justify himself, and by the influence of events, which, when the letters were written, could not have been foreseen. In Clarendon's History of the Rebellion of 1641,' in the History of the War,' by Richard Bellings, secretary to the Confederated Catholics, and in Rinuccini's Despatches,' the cases of all the principal parties to the complicated negotiations and conflicts of the time, who shared in hostility to the English Parliament, will be found to be fully stated.
The unmixed eulogy with which the editor speaks of the conduct and character of Rinuccini, is principally remarkable as a proof of the little change which two centuries have produced in the spirit of Italian Catholicism. To the north of the Alps these letters will produce little change in the opinion which has long been entertained, that the uncompromising bigotry and encroaching spirit of the nuncio was one of the principal causes of the overthrow of Ireland and of Catholicism by Cromwell. In blaming the Irish for their final disobedience to his counsels, M. Aiazzi has contrived to add a new charge to the many which may be brought against that unhappy nation. It is not often that they have been accused by a foreigner of deficiency in hatred to England, or lukewarmness in their abhorrence of heretics. Yet, while the reprobation of Rinuccini's policy by Irish and English historians is well founded as far as the interests of Ireland were concerned, it is from a very different point of view that his personal and political merits must be considered. He was not an Irish statesman, but a servant of the pope; and his mission was not intended to promote the general interests of the country, but to establish the supremacy of Catholicism, and of its representative the Apostolic See. To the Irish it might seem expedient to return to the protection of a tolerant Crown, under a composition with those Protestants who shared their hostility to the growing power of the Puritans; but Rome knew no degrees in heresy. Between the public exercise of the Catholic worship with the exclusion of all opposition, and the utter ruin of the church and nation, the nuncio allowed no alternative. In his individual character, as well as in the measures which he adopted, it seems to us that he affords a remarkable illustration of the strength and weakness of ecclesiastical diplomacy. Like private individuals who enter into general politics with objects exclusively religious, the agents of Rome have always had the advantage of definite objects to pursue, of