28 DECEMBER 1878, Page 24

Saronarola : his Life and Times. By W. R. Clark,

M.A. "Home. Library." (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.)—Little more need be said of this new Life of Savonarola than that it has been carefully compiled, is written in a modest style, and takes a medium view of the extraordinary Florentine, who has been subjected to more diverse criticisms than, perhaps, any other man who has attempted to reform the portion of the world in which he has happened to find himself. Mr. Clark has declined to take such views as that Savonarola was an impostor, or an ambitious priest, or a Protestant before his time. Per- haps he is wrong in maintaining, with Padre Marchese, that he was "the greatest matt of his age, and of many other ages." It would be more correct to say that ho was the most earnest man of his age. Mr. Clark himself shows that Savonarola made a blunder in his onslaught both upon the new learning, and the by no means new immorality, in Florence. It is, no doubt, true of Ficino and his disciples in Florence, as Mr. Clark puts it, with more than his usual vigour of style, that they " Piston- ised the Gospel and they professed to Christianise Platonism ; but the re- sult was simply a refined heathenism, adorned with Christian phrases, and sent forth with a Christian sanction." It is also true that the " presump- tuous sins" were those which were most noticeable in Florence when Savonarola appeared as a reformer there ; but Mr. Clark himself admits that in attempting to overcome them by more ecclesiastical and political coercion, Savonarola committed the same blunder as did the more extreme of our own Puritans. Savonarola, indeed, missed being the greatest Christian reformer of his time simply by not perceiving that it is with the conscience above all that Christianity has to do. This, however, means nothing more than that even Savonarola could not transcend his period in head, as he did in heart. We may say in conclusion that while- Mr. Clark acknowledges freely his obligations to previous writers on Savonarola, he rather singularly omits to refer to Madden's Life.