Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/632

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there were now about a thousand. Still, we note no specially striking additions to the list of early Church writers. Origen, for example, is just as poorly represented as he was under Nicholas V. One important section, however, shows a marked growth. The Bibles, or parts of Bibles, have swelled to the goodly number of fifty-eight.

The examination of this, the most important library of the West in the fifteenth century, teaches us that the main interest of Christian scholars was centred not on the literature of the first ages, but upon the works of the great doctors of the fourth and fifth centuries,—upon the definers and expositors of developed dogma. This was the natural outcome, perhaps, of the long period spent under the influence of Scholastic Theology. But it was also the inevitable result of the condition of things in the headquarters of Greek learning. The Eastern Church had herself forgotten Justin, Clement of Alexandria, and Irenaeus, and regarded Origen with suspicion. We know now that as late as the sixteenth century a Greek Irenaeus, and a copy of the Ecclesiastical Memoirs of Hegesippus were lurking in a Greek island. There they were destined to remain and to perish. Yet, had their existence been known in the time of Nicholas V, it is doubtful whether he and his contemporaries would have been much excited by the announcement. A couple of generations later the case would have been widely different.

The literary treasures of Italy were by no means confined to the Vatican; and, though it would be dreary work to investigate in detail the inventories of all the great collectors, a word must still be said about those of Venice and Florence. At the first-named place Bessarion's great library was deposited, among whose treasures was at least one volume of extraordinary value for the history of Christian beliefs,—our best copy of the treatise of Epiphanius Against Heresies. Florence was enriched, not only with the beginnings of the Medicean collection, but with the earlier and hardly less precious library of Niccolo Niccoli (d. 1437), which passed to the Convent of San Marco. In the list of the one hundred and eighty Greek manuscripts which that community owned in the last years of the century we note a few names, and only a few, that we did not meet at Rome, particularly that of Justin Martyr. From this Florence copy Pico della Mirandola must in all probability have made his translation of the Cohortatio ad Gentes.

In the Latin collection we find such items as three volumes of Tertullian, all of them copies on paper made from the ancient manuscript which had come into the hands of Cardinal Orsini. Cyprian, Lactantius, and Ignatius too, are there, with of course many of the freshly made versions of Greek books. That of the Letter of Aristeas, so-called, from the pen of Matteo Palmieri, is a welcome variation from the everlasting Chrysostoms and Basils. Literature owes much, indeed, to Niccoli; but Christian literature has specially to thank another of its friends, Lorenzo de' Medici, for the preservation of that inestimable