I THINK the present article, which I have drawn from Naudé, while it contains some interesting anecdotes, is just and philosophical.
“When I was at Rome, I could not help telling many devotees, that when Religion seizes and overpowers the mind, it makes it consider actions and characters through the medium of interest, and hence it should not be relied on. For instance: the ancient fathers have said every thing they could imagine to depreciate the character of Julian the Apostate. Though they would not have done this, had he not proved an apostate and a persecutor of the Christians; they do not in the slightest manner notice his many eminent qualities. He was rigorously just, a man of strict morals, and a great politician.” See what Montaigne and La Mothe le Vayer observe of him; and particularly his character, elaborately delineated by Mr. Gibbon.
“It is thus also in Venice. Anthony Bragadin passes for a martyr, because he was flayed alive at the command of Mustapha, after the taking of Famagusta. But the fact is, that the Turks are only like other men; and they thus punished Bragadin, and his other Christian captains, because, when they saw they must be taken by Mustapha, they barbarously cut the throats of all their Turkish prisoners.
“It is owing also to this cause, that the devotees say every thing favourable of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland, because she attended mass very constantly; though it must be confessed, that her conduct was seldom regulated by decency and morality. I saw, at Rome—adds Naudé—the letters she wrote to the Earl of Bothwell, Subactori suo. And I cannot but believe whatever has been said of her by Buchanan and De Thou.”
It was thus likewise the prejudiced Puritans treated Marlowe, a poet well known to the readers of Old English poetry. Marlowe had in his life time treated with great freedom sacred subjects. His sentiments, which now so many profess without fear of exciting the enmity of the religious, these men construed into absolute Atheism, as Warton observes. Marlowe having been assassinated in an amorous adventure, they took pains to represent the unfortunate catastrophe of his untimely death, as an immediate judgment from Heaven upon his execrable impiety! Such opinions are promulgated at every hour by the bigot, who always sees in the misfortunes of his enemy the judgment of Heaven.