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EUROPEAN MORALS. 



VOL. II. 



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HISTORY 



OF 



EUROPEAN MORALS 



FBOM 



AUGUSTUS TO CHARLEMAGNE. 



BV 



WILLIAM EDWARD HARTPOLE LECKY, M.A, 



IN TWO VOLUMES. 
VOL. II. 



LONDON : 

LONGMANS, GREEN, AND CO. 

1869. 



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HARVARD COLLEGE LIBRAfTT ^ 
GIFT OF 
MRS. WALTER 8. BARKER 
FEBRUARY 25, 193f 



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CONTENTS 

OP 

THE SECOND VOLUME. 
CHAPTER IV. 

FBOH OONSTANTIKE TO OHABLEMAGNE. 



PAQS 



Difference between the moral teaching of a philosophy and that 

of a religion ......... 1 

Moral efficacy of the Christian sense of sin 8 

Dark views of human nature not common in the early Church 5 

The penitential system 7 

Admirable efficacy of CSiristianity in eliciting disinterested 

enthuHiasm 9 

Great purity of the early Christians 12 

The- promise of the CSiurch for many centuries falsified . . 13 
General sketch of the moral condition of the Byzantine and 

Western Empires 13 

The question to be examined in this chapter is, the cause of 

this comparative &ilur& 18 

First Consequence of Christianity j a new Sense of the Sanctity of 
Human Life 
This sense only very gradually acquired . . . .19 

Abortion. — Infanticide 22 

Care of exposed children. — History of fbimdling hospitals . 34 

Suppression of the gladiatorial shows 37 

Aversion to capital punishments 41 

Its effect upon persecutions 43 

Penal code not lightened by Christianity .... 44 

Suicide . 46-G5 

Second Consequence of Christianity^ to teach Universal Brother- 
hood 

Laws concerning slavery Q^ 

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Ti CONTENTS OF 

PAOB 

The Churcli discipline and services bronglit master and slave 

together 70 

Consecration of the servile virtues 72 

Impulse given to manumissiott . . . . • .73 

Serfdom 74 

Ransom of captives 76 

Charity. — ^Measures of the Pagans for the relief of the poor • 78 

Noble enthusiasm of the Christians in the cause of charity . 84 

Their exertions when the Empire was subverted ... 87 

Inadequate place given to this movement in history . . 90 

Two Qualifications to our Admiration of the Charity of the 
Church 
Theological notions concerning insanity . . > . .91 

Histoiy of lunatic asylimis 94 

Indiscriminate almsgiving. — ^The political economy of charity • 96 
Injudicious charity often beneficial to the donor . . .101 

History of the modifications of the old views about charity . 102 

Beneficial effect of the Church in supplying pure images to the 

imagination 105 

Summary of the philanthropic achievements of Christianity . 107 

The Growth of Asceticism 

Causes of. tlie ascetic movement 108 

Its rapid extension 112 

The Saints of the Desert 

Greneral characteristics of their l^ends 114 

Astounding penances attributed to the saints . . . .114 

Miseries and joys of the hermit life. — ^Dislike to knowledge . 121 

Hallucinations . • 124 

The relations of female devotees with the anchorites . .127 
Celibacy was made the primal virtue. — Effects of this upon 

moral teaching 130 

Gloomy hue imparted to religion 130 

Strong assertion of fi-eewill 131 

Depreciation of the qualities that accompany a strong physical 

temperament 131 

Destruction of the domestic virtues. — Inhumanity of saints to 

their relations . 132 

Encouraged by leading theologians 139 

Later instances of the same kind 143 

Extreme theological animosity 146 

Decline of the Civic Virtues 
History of the relations of Christianity to patriotism . .149 

Influence of the latter in hastening the fidl of the Empire . 151 
Permanent difference between ancient and modem societies in 

the matter of patriotism 153 



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THE SECOND VOLUME. tu 

PAGE 

Influence of this change on moral philosophy . . . .155 
Historians exaggerate the importance of civic virtues . .156 

General Moral Condition of the Byzantine Empire 

Stress laid by moralists on trivial matters . . . .157 

Corruption of the clergy 159 

Childishness and vice of the populace 162 

The better aspects of the Empire 163 

Distinctive Excellencies of the Ascetic Period 

Asceticism the great school of self-sacrifice . . . .164 

Moralbeauty of some of the legends 166 

Legends of the connection between men and animals produced 

humanity to the latter 171 

Pagan legends of the intelligence of animals . . . .171 

LegiEd protection of animals 173 

Traces of humanity to animals in the Homan Empire . . 174 
Taught by the Pythagoreans and Plutarch ' • . . .176 
The first influence of Christianity not fiivourable to it . . 177 
Legends in the lives of the saints connected with animals . 178 
• Progress in modem times of humanity to animals . . .184 
The ascetic movement in the West took practical forms . .188 
Attitude of the Church to the barbarians. — Conversion of the 

latter 190 

Christianity adulterated by the barbarians. — ^Legends of the 

conflict between the old gods and the new faith . . .192 

Monachism 

Causes of its attraction 194 

New value placed on obedience and humility. — ^Results of this 
change . . 196 

Relation of Monachism to the Intellectual Virtues 

Propriety of the expression * intellectual virtue ' . . • 200 
The love of abstract truth . . . . . . .200 

The notion of the guilt of error, considered abstractedly, 

absurd • 202 

Some error, however, due to indolence or voluntary partiality 203 

And some to the unconscious bias of a corrupt nature . . 204 

The influence of scepticism on intellectual progress . . 205 
The Church always recognised the tendency of character to 

govern opinion 206 

Total destruction of religious liberty 206 

The Monasteries the Receptacles of Learning 
Preservation of classical literature. — ^Manner in which it was 

regarded 1^ the Church . 212 

Charm of monkish scholarship 216 

The monasteries not on the whole favourable to knowledge . 218 

VOL. II. a 



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vui CONTENTS OF 

FAQE 

They were rather the reservoirs than ihe creators of literature 221 
Fallacy of attributiog to the monasteries the genius that was 

displayed in theology 221 

Other Mlacies concerning the services of the monks . , 222 

Decline of the love of truth 225 

Value which the monks attached to pecuniary compensations 

for crime 226 

Doctrine of future torment much elaborated as a means of 

extorting money 232 

Visions of hell , 233 

Peter Lombard 240 

Extreme superstition and terrorism .241 

Purgatory 246 

Moral- Condition of Western Europe 

Scanty historical literature 249 

Atrocious crimes 250 

The seventh century the age of saints 253 

Manner in which characters were estimated illustrated by the 

account of Clovis in Gr^ory of Tomrs .... 254 

Benefits conferred by the monasteries 257 

Missionary labours 261 

Orowth of a Military and an Aristocratic Spirit 

Antipathy of the early Christians to military life • . . 262 
The belief that battle was the special sphere of Providential 

interposition consecrated it 264 

Military habits of the barbarians ...... 265 

Military triumphs of Mahommedanism . . . • . 266 

Legends protesting against military Christianity . . . 268 

Review of the influence of Christianity upon war . . . 269 

Consecration of Secular Rank 

The Pagan Empire became continually more despotic . . 275 
The early Christians taught passive obedience in temporal, but 

independence in religious matters 276 

After Constantine, their policy much governed by their interests 276 

Attitude of the Church towfurds Julian 277 

And of Gr^ory the Great towards Phocas .... 279 
The Eastern dergy soon sank into submission to the dvil 

power . . 281 

Independence of the Western deigy. — Compact of Leo and 

Pepin .■ 282 

Efiect of monachism on the doctrine of passive obedience • 285 

The 'benefices' 286 

Fascination exercised by Charlemagne over the popular imagi- 
nation 287 

A king and a warrior became the ideal of greatness * . . 289 

Conclusion 290 



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THE SECOND VOLUME. ix 

CHAPTER V. 
THE POSITION OP WOMEN. 

PAGE 

Importance and difficulties of this branch of history . . 291 

Women in savage life 292 

First stage of progress the cessation of the sale of wives. — Rise 

of the dowry 292 

Second stage the establishment of monogamy . . .294 
Women in the poetic age of Greece ..... 295 
Women in the historical age ranked lower. — Difficulty of real- 
ising the Greek feelings on the subject .... 297 
Nature of the problem of the relations of the sexes . . 299 
Recognition in Greece of two distinct orders of womanhood . 303 
Position of the Greek wives 303 

The Courtesans 

Elevated by the worship of Aphrodite 308 

And by the aesthetic enthusiasm 309 

And by the tumatoral forms Greek vice assumed . . .311 

General estimate of Greek public opinion concerning women . 312 

Roman Public Opinion much purer 

The flamens and the vestals 315 

Position of women during the Republic . . .316 

Dissolution of manners at the close of the Republic . . 320 

Indisposition to marriage 322 

Legal emancipation of women 322 

Unboimded liberty of divorce. — Its consequences . . .. 324 
Amount of female virtue which still subsisted in Rome . . 326 
Legislative measures to enforce female virtue . . . 330 
Moralists begin to enforce the reciprocity of obligation in mar- 
riage 330 

And to censure prostitution. — ^Egyptian views of chastity . 334 

Christian Influence 

Laws of the Christian emperors 835 

Effects of the penitential discipline, and of the examples of the 

martyrs 336 

Legends 337 

Asceticism greatly degraded marriage 339 

Disapproval of second marriages. — History of the opinions of 

Pagans and Christians on the subject 343 

The celibacy of the clergy. — History and effects of this doc- 
trine • . 347 

Asceticism produced a very low view of the character of wo- 

' men. — Jewish opinions on this point .... 357 
The canon law unfavourable to the proprietary rights of 

women 359 



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X CONTENTS OF THE SECOND VOLUME. 

FACE 

Tho barbarian invasions assisted the Church in purifying 

morals .......... 360 

Barbarian heroines 361 

Long continuance of polygamy among the Kings of Gaul . 363 

Laws of the barbarians 364 

Strong Christian assertion of the equality of obligation in 

marriage 365 

This doctrine has not retained its force 366 

Condemnation of transitory connections.— Roman concubines . 367 

A religious ceremony slowly made an essential in maiTiage . 372 

Condemnation of divorce 372 

Compidsoiy maniage abolished 374 

Condemnation of mixed marriages. — ^Domestic unhappiness 

caused by theologians 374 

Relation of Christianity to the Feminine Virtues 

Comparison of male and female characteristics . . .379 
The Pagan ideal essentially masculine. — Its contrast to the 

Christian ideal 382 

Conspicuous part of women in the early Church . . .385 

Deaconesses ......... 387 

Widows 387 

Reverence bestowed on the Virgin 389 

At the Reformation the feminine type remained with Catho- 
licism . . 389 

The conventual system 391 

Conclusion 392 



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I 

y 



HISTORY 

OF 



EUROPEAN MORALS. 



CHAPTER IV. 

FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 

Having in the last chapter given a brief, but I trust not 
altogether indistinct account of the causes that ensured 
the triumph of Christianity in Eome, and of the character 
of the opposition it overcame, I proceed to examine the 
nature of the moral ideal the new religion introduced, and 
also the methods by which it attempted to realise it. 
And at the very outset of this enquiry it is necessary to 
guard against a serious error. It is common with many 
persons to estabUsh a comparison between Christianity 
and Paganism, by placing the teaching of the Christians 
in juxtaposition with corresponding passages from the 
writings of Marcus Aurelius or Seneca, and to regard the 
superiority of the Christian over the philosophical teach- 
ing as a complete measure of the moral advance that was 
eflfected by Christianity. But a moment's reflection is 
suflScient to display the injustice of such a conclusion. 
The ethics of Paganism were part of a philosophy. The 
ethics of Christianity were part of a reli^on. The first 

VOL. II. B 

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2 HISTORY OF EUR0PK4N MORALS. 

were the speculations of a few highly cultivated indivi- 
duals, and neither had nor could have had any direct in- 
fluence upon the masses of mankind. The second were 
indissolubly connected with the worship, hopes, and fears 
of a vast religious system, that acts at least as powerfully 
on the most ignorant as on the most educated. The ob- 
jects of the Pagan systems were to foretell the future, to 
explain the universe, to avert calamity, to obtain the 
assistance of the gods. They contained no instruments 
of moral teaching analogous to our institution of preach- 
ing, or to the moral preparation for the reception of the 
sacrament, or to confession, or to the reading of the Bible, 
or to religious education, or to united prayer for spiritual 
benefits. To make men virtuous was no more the function 
of the priest than of the physician. On the other hand, the 
philosophic expositions of duty were wholly unconnected 
with the religious ceremonies of the temple. To amalga- 
mate these two spheres, to incorporate moral culture with 
religion, and thus to enlist in its behalf that desire to 
enter, by means of ceremonial observances, into direct 
communication with Heaven, which experience has shown 
to be one of the most universal and powerfiil passicms of 
mankind, was among the most important achievements 
of Christianity. Something had no doubt been already 
attempted in this direction. Philosophy, in the hands of 
the rhetoricians, had become more popular. The Pytha-^ 
goreans enjoined religious ceremonies for the purpose of 
purifying the mind, and expiatory rites were common, 
especially in the Oriental religions. But it was the dis- 
tinguishing characteristic of Christianity, that its moral 
influence was not indirect, casual, remote, or spasmodic. 
Unlike all Pagan religions, it made moral teaching a main 
function of its clergy, moral discipline the leading object 
of its services, moral dispositions the necessary condition 
of the due performance of its rites. By the pulpit, by its 

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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 3 

ceremonies, by all the agencies of power it possessed, it 
laboured systematically and perseveringly for the regene- 
ration of mankind. Under its influence, doctrines con- 
cerning the nature of God, the immortality of the soul, 
and the duties of men, which the noblest intellects of 
antiquity could barely grasp, have become the truisms of 
the village school, the proverbs of the cottage and of the 
alley. 

But neither the beauty of its sacred writings, nor the 
perfection of its reUgious services, could have achieved 
this great result without the introduction of new motives 
to virtue. These may be either interested or disinterested, 
and in both spheres the influence of Christianity was 
very great In the first, it effected a complete revolution 
by its teaching concerning the futiu'e world and concern- 
ing the nature of sin. The doctrine of a futiu'e life was 
far too vague among the Pagans to exercise any power- 
ful general influence, and among the philosophers, who 
clung to it most ardently, it was regarded solely in the 
light of a consolation. Christianity made it a deterrent 
influence of the strongest kind. In addition to the doc- 
trines of eternal suffering, and the lost condition of the 
human race, the notion of a minute personal retribution 
must be regarded as profoundly original. That the com- 
mission of great crimes, or the omission of great duties, 
may be expiated hereafter, was indeed an idea familiar 
to the Pagans, though it exercised little influence over their 
lives, and seldom or never produced, even in the case of 
the worst criminab, those scenes of deathbed repentance 
which are so conspicuous in Christian biographies. But 
the Christian notion of the enormity of little sins, the 
belief that all the details of life will be scrutinised here- 
after, that weaknesses of character and petty infractions of 

b2 



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4 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

duty, of which the historian and the biographer take no 
note, which have no perceptible influence upon society, 
and which scarcely elicit a comment among mankind, 
may be made the grounds of eternal condemnation be- 
yond the grave, was altogether unknown to the ancients, 
and at a time when it possessed all the freshness of no- 
velty, it was well fitted to transform the character. The 
eye of the Pagan philosopher was ever fixed upon virtue, 
the eye of the Christian teacher upon sin. The first 
sought to amend men by extolling the beauty of holiness ; 
the second, by awakening the sentiment of remorse. 
Each method had its excellencies and its defects. Philo- 
sophy was admirably fitted to dignify and ennoble, but 
altogether impotent to regenerate mankind. It did much 
to encourage virtue, but little or nothing to restrain vice. 
A relish and taste for virtue was formed and cultivated, 
which attracted many to its practice ; but in this, as in the 
case of aU our other higher tastes, a nature that was once 
thoroughly vitiated became altogether incapable of ap- 
preciating it, and the transformation of such a nature, 
which was continually eflfected by Christianity, was con- 
fessedly beyond the power of philosophy.^ Experience has 
abundantly shown that men who are wholly insensible to 
the beauty and dignity of virtue, can be convulsed by 
the fear of judgment, can be even awakened to such a 
genuine remorse for sin, as to reverse the current of their 
dispositions, detach them from the most inveterate habits, 
and renew the whole tenor of their lives. 

But the habit of dilating chiefly on the darker side of 
human nature, while it has contributed much to the re- 
generating efficacy of Christian teaching, has not beeu 

^ There is a remarkable passage of Celsas, on the impossibility of re- 
storing a nature once thoroughly depraved, quoted by Origen in his answer 
to him. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 5 

without its disadvantages. Habitually measuring cha- 
racter by its aberrations, theologians, in their estimates of 
those strong and passionate natures in which great virtues 
are balanced by great fidlings, have usually fallen into a 
signal injustice, which is the more inexcusable, because in 
their own writings the psalms of David are a conspicuous 
proof of what a noble, tender, and passionate nature could 
survive, even in an adulterer and a murderer. Partly, 
too, through this habit of operating through the sense of 
sin, and partly from a desire to show that man is in an 
abnormal and dislocated condition, they have continually 
propounded distorted and degrading views of human 
nature, have represented it as altogether under the em- 
pire of evil, and have sometimes risen to such a height of 
extravagance as to pronounce the very virtues of the 
heathen to be of the natiu^e of sin. But nothing can be 
more certain than that that which is exceptional and dis- 
tinctive in human nature is not its vice, but its excellence. 
It is not the sensuality, cruelty, selfishness, passion, or 
envy, which are all displayed in equal or greater degrees 
in different departments of the animal world ; it is that 
moral natiu^e which enables man apparently, alone of aU 
created beings, to classify his emotions, to oppose the 
current of his desires, and to aspire after moral perfection. 
Nor is it less certain that in civilised, and therefore deve- 
loped man, the good gi'eatly preponderates over the evil. 
Benevolence is more common than cruelty ; the sight of 
suffering more readily produces pity than joy ; gratitude, 
not ingratitude, is the normal result of a conferred benefit. 
The sympathies of man naturally follow heroism and 
goodness, and vice itself is usually but an exaggeration 
or distortion of tendencies that are in their own nature 
perfectly innocent. 

But these exaggerations of human depravity, which 

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6 raSTORY OF EUROPEAN MORAIA 

have attained their extreme limits in some Protestant 
sects, do not appear in the Church of the first three cen- 
turies. The sense of the sin was not yet accompanied by 
a denial of the goodness that exists in man. Christianity 
was regarded rather as a redemption from error than 
from sin,^ and it is a significant fact that the epithet ' well 
deserving,' which the Pagans usually put upon their tombs, 
was also the favourite inscription in the Christian cata- 
combs. The Pelagian controversy, the teaching of St. 
Augustine, and the progress of asceticism, gradually in- 
troduced the doctrine of the utter depravity of man, which 
has proved in later times the fertile source of d^rading 
superstition. 

In sustaining and defining the notion of sin, the early 
Church employed the machinery of an elaborate legisla- 
tion. Constant communion with the Church was regarded 
as of the very highest importance. Participation in the 
Sacrament was believed to be essential to eternal Ufe. At 
a very early period it was given to infents, and at least as 
early as the time of St. Cyprian we find the practice imi- 
versal in the Church, and pronounced by at least some of 
the Fathers to be ordinarily necessary to their salvation.^ 
Among the adults it was customary to receive the Sacra- 
ment daily, in some churches four times a week.* Even 

^ This is well shown by Pressens^ in Hs Hist, des trots premiers Si^des. 

* See a great deal of information on this subject in Bingham*s A/^ 
gutties of the Chridian Ckureh (Oxford, 1863), voL y. pp. 370-378. It is 
curious that those very noisy contemporary divines who profess to re- 
suscitate the manners of the primitiye Church, and who lay so much stress 
on the minutest ceremonial observances, have left unpractised what was 
undoubtedly one of the most universal, and was believed to be one of the 
most important, of the institutions of early Christianity. Bingham shows 
that the administration oi the Eucharist to infants continued in France till 
the twelfth century. 

' See Cave's Primitive Christianity, part i. ch. xi. At first the Sacrament 
was usually received every day ; but this custom soon declined in the Eastern 
Church, and at last passed away in the West 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 7 

in the days of persecution the only part of their service 
the Christians consented to omit was the half secular 
agape.^ The clergy had power to accord or withhold 
access to the ceremonies, and the reverence with which 
they were r^arded was so great that they were able to 
dictate their own conditions of communion. 

From these circumstances there very naturally arose a 
vast system of moral discipline. It was always acknow- 
ledged that men could only rightly approach the sacred 
table in certain moral dispositions, and it was very soon 
added that the commission of crimes should be expiated 
^ by a period of penance, before access to the communion 
was granted. A multitude of offences, of very various 
degrees of magnitude, such as prolonged abstinence from 
religious services, prenuptial unchastity, prostitution, 
adultery, the adoption of the profession of gladiator or 
actor, idolatry, the betrayal of Christians to persecutors, 
and paideristia or unnatural love, were specified, to each 
of which a definite spiritual penalty was annexed. The 
lowest penalty consisted of deprivation of the Eucharist 
for a few weeks. More serious offenders were deprived 
of it for a year, or for ten years, or imtil the hour of 
death, while in some cases the sentence amounted to the 
greater excommunication, or the deprivation of the Eucha- 
rist for ever. During the period of penance the penitent 
was compelled to abstain from the marriage bed? and 
from all other pleasures, and to spend his time chiefly in 
religious exercises. Before he was readmitted to com- 
munion, he was accustomed publicly, before the assem- 
bled Christians, to appear clad in sackcloth, with ashes 
strewn upon his head, with his hair shaven off, and thus 
to throw hin^elf at the feet of the minister, to confess 

> Plin. Ep. X. 97. . 

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8 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

aloud his sins, and to implore the favour of absolution. 
The excommunicated man was not only cut off for ever 
from the Christian rites; he was severed also from all 
intercourse with his former friends. No Christian, on 
pain of being himself excommunicated, might eat with 
him or speak with him. He must Uve hated and alone 
in this world, and be prepared for damnation in the next.^ 
This system of legislation, resting upon religious ter- 
rorism, forms one of the most important parts of early 
ecclesiastical history, and a leading object of the Councils 
was to develope or modify it. Although confession was 
not yet an habitual and universally obligatory rite, al- 
though it was only exacted in cases of notorious sins, it 
is manifest that we have in this system, not potentially or 
in germ, but in full developed activity, an ecclesiastical 
despotism of the most crushing order. But although this 
recognition of the right of the clergy to withhold from 
men what was believed to be essential to their salvation, 
laid the foundation of the worst superstitions of Borne, 
it had, on the other hand, a very valuable moral effect. 
Every system of law is a system of education, for it fixes 
in the minds of men certain conceptions of right and 
wrong, and of the proportionate enormity of different 
crimes ; and no legislation was enforced with more solem- 
nity, or appealed more directly to the religious feehngs, 
than the penitential discipline of the Church. More than, 
perhaps, any other single agency, it confirmed that con- 
viction of the enormity of sin, and of the retribution that 
follows it, which was one of the two great levers by which 
Christianity acted upon mankind. 

^ The whole subject of the penitential discipline is treated minutely in 
Marshall's Penitential Discipline of the PrimiUve Church (first published in 
1714; and reprinted in the library of Anglo-Catholic The^ogy), and also in 
Bingham^JvoL Tii. |Tertullian gives a graphic description of the public 
penanceS; De Pudicit, t. 13. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 9 

But if Christianity was remarkable for its appeals to 
the selfish or interested side of our nature, it was far more 
remarkable for the empire it attaLned over disinterested 
enthusiasm! The Platonist exhorted men to imitate God, 
the Stoic, to follow reason, the Christian, to the love of 
Christ. The later Stoics had often imited their notions 
of excellence in an ideal sage, and Epictetus had even 
urged his disciples to set before them some man of sur- 
passing excellence, and to imagine him continually near 
them ; but the utmost the Stoic ideal could become was a 
model for imitation, and the admiration it inspired could, 
never deepen into affection. It was reserved for Chris- 
tianity to present to the world an ideal character, which 
through all the changes of eighteen centuries has inspired 
the hearts of men with an impassioned love, has shown 
itself capable of acting on all ages, nations, temperaments, 
and conditions, has been not only the highest pattern of 
virtue but the strongest incentive to its practice, and has 
exercised so deep an influence that it may be truly said 
that the simple record of three short years of active life 
has done more to regenerate and to soften mankind than 
all the disquisitions of philosophers and all the exhorta- 
tions of moralists. This has indeed been the wellspring 
of whatever is best and purest in the Christian life. Amid 
all the sins and failings, amid all the priestcraft and per- 
secution and fanaticism that have defeced the Church, it 
has preserved, in the character and example of its Founder, 
an enduring principle of regeneration. Perfect love 
knows no rights. It creates a boundless, uncalculating 
self-abnegation that transforms the character, and is the 
parent of every virtue. Side by side with the terrorism 
and the superstitions of dogmatism, there have ever existed 
in Christianity those who would echo the wish of St. 
Theresa, that she could blot out both heaven and heU, to 

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10 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MOftALS. 

serve God for Himself alone ; and the power of the love of 
Christ has been displayed alike in the most heroic pages 
of Christian martyrdom, in the most pathetic pages of 
Christian resignation, in the tenderest pages of Christian 
charity. It was shown by the martyrs who sank beneath 
the fangs of wild beasts, extending to the last moment 
their arms in the form of the cross they loved ;^ who or- 
dered their chains to be buried with them as the insignia 
of their warfare ;* who looked with joy upon their ghastly 
wounds, because they had been received for Christ ;^ who 
welcomed death as the bridegroom welcomes the bride, 
because it would bring them near to Him. St. Felicitas 
was seized with the pangs of childbirth as she lay in 
prison awaiting the hour of martyrdom, and as her suffer- 
ings extorted fix)m her a cry, one who stood by said, ' If 
you now suffer so much, what will it be when you are 
thrown to wild beasts ? ' ' What I now suffer,' she an- 
swered, ' concerns myself alone ; but then another will 
suffer for me, for I will then suffer for Him.'* When St. 
Melania had lost both her husband and her two sons, 
kneeling by the bed where the remains of those she loved 
were laid, the childless widow exclaimed, ' Lord, I shall 
serve thee more humbly and readily for being eased of 
the weight thou hast taken from me.''^ 

Christian virtue was described by St. Augustine as * the 



* Eusebius, JET. E. yiii. 7. 

> St Clirysostom tells this of St. Babjlas. See Tillemont, M4m. pour 
tervir H TSist, ecd, tome iii. p. 403. 

* In the preface to a yery ancient Milanese missal it is said of St. Agatha, 
that as she lay in the prison cell, torn by the instruments of torture, St. 
Peter came to her in the form of a Christian physidan, and offered to dress 
her wounds ; but she refused, saying that she wished for no physician but 
Christ St Peter, in the name of that Celestial Physician, commanded 
her wounds to dose, and her body became whole as before. (Tillemont, 
tome iii. p. 412.) 

* See her ads in Huinart * St Jerome, JE^, xxxix. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO OHABLEMAGNE. 11 

order of love.'^ Those who know how imperfectly the 
simple sense of duty can with most men resist the energy 
of the passions ; who have observed how barren Mahom- 
medanism has been in all the higher and more tender vir- 
tues, because its noble morality and its pure theism have 
been imited with no living example ; who, above all, have 
traced through the history of the Christian Church the. in- 
fluence of the love of Christ, will be at no loss to estimate 
the value of this piu^est and most distinctive source of Chris- 
tian enthusiasm. In one respect we can scarcely realise 
its effects upon the early Church. The sense of the fixity 
of natural laws is now so deeply implanted in the minds 
of men, that no truly educated person, whatever may be 
his rehgious opinions, seriously beUeves that all the more 
startling phenomena around him — storms, earthquakes, 
invasions, or famines — ^are results of isolated acts of super- 
natural power, and are intended to affect some human 
interest But by the early Christians all these things 
were directly traced to the Master they so dearly loved. 
The result of this conviction was a state of feeling 
we can now barely understand. A great poet, in lines 
which are among the noblest in English literature, has 
spoken of one who had died as united to the all-pervad- 
ing soul of nature, the grandeur and the tenderness, the 
beauty and the passion of his being blending with the 
kindred elements of the universe, his voice heard in all 
its melodies, his spirit a presence to be felt and known, a 
part of the one plastic energy that permeates and ani- 
mates the globe. Something of this kind, but of a far 
more vivid and real character, was the belief of the early 
Christian world. The universe, to them, was transfigured 
by love. All its phenomena, all its catastrophes were 

* 'Definitio brevis et rera virfcuiis; ordo est amoris.' — De Civ, Dei, 
XT. 22. 



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12 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

read in a new light, were endued with a new signifi- 
cance, acquired a religious sanctity. Christianity offered 
a deeper consolation than any prospect of endless life, or 
of millennial glories. It taught the weary, the sorrowing, 
and the lonely, to look up to heaven and to say, ' Thou, 
God, carest for me.' 

It is not surprising that a religious system, which made 
it a main object to inculcate moral excellence, and which, 
by its doctrine of future retribution, by its organisation, 
and by its capacity of producing a disinterested enthu- 
siasm, acquired an unexampled supremacy over the human 
mind, shoidd have raised its disciples to a very high 
condition of sanctity. There can indeed be little doubt 
that, for nearly two hundred years after its establishment 
in Europe, the Christian community exhibited a moral 
pimty which, if it has been equalled, has never for any 
long period been surpassed. Completely separated from 
the Eoman world that was around them, abstaining alike 
from political life, from appeals to the tribunals, and from 
military occupations ; looking forward continually to the 
immediate advent of their Master, and the destruction of 
the empire in which they dwelt, and animated by all the 
fervour of a young religion, the Christians found within 
themselves a whole order of ideas and feelings sufficiently 
powerful to guard them from the contamination of their 
age. In their general bearing towards society, and in the 
nature and minuteness of their scruples, they probably 
bore a greater resemblance to the Quakers than to any 
other existing sect.^ Some serious signs of moral deca- 

^ Besides the obvious points of resemblance in tbe common, thougb not 
universal, belief that Christians should abstain from all weapons and from 
all oaths, the whole teaching of the early Christians about the duty of 
simplicityi and the wickedness of ornaments in dress (see especially the 
writings of TertuUian, Clemens Alexandnnus, and Chrysostom, on this 
subject), is exceedingly like that of the Quakers. The scruple of Ter-^ 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO OHARLEMAGNR 18 

dence might indeed be detected even before the Decian 
persecution ; and it was obvious that the triumph of the 
Church, by introducing numerous nominal Christians into 
its pale, by exposing it to the temptations of wealth and 
prosperity, and by forcing it into connection with secular 
politics, must have damped its zeal and impaired its 
purity ; yet few persons, I think, who had contemplated 
Christianity as it existed in the first three centuries would 
have imagined it possible that it should completely super- 
sede the Pagan worship around it ; that its teachers should 
bend the mightiest monarchs to their will, and stamp their 
influence on every page of legislation, and direct the whole 
course of civilisation for a thousand years, and yet that 
the period in which they were so supreme should have 
been one of the most contemptible in history. 

The leading features of that period may be shortly told. 
From the death of Marcus Aurelius, about which time 
Christianity assumed an important influence in the Koman 
world, the decadence of the empire was rapid and almost 
uninterrupted. The first Christian emperor transferred 
his capital to a new city, uncontaminated by the tradi- 
tions and the glories of Paganism ; and he there founded 
an empire which derived all its ethics fi-om Christian 
sources, and which continued in existence for about eleven 
hundred years. Of that Byzantine Empire the universal 
verdict of history is that it constitutes, without a single 
exception, the most thoroughly base and despicable form 
that civilisation has yet assumed. Though very cruel and 
very sensual, there have been times when cruelty assumed 

tullian (Dtf Corond) about Christians wearing, in military festiyals, laurel 
wreaths, because laurel was called after Daphne, the lover of Apollo; was 
much of the same kind as that of the Quakers about recognising the gods 
Tuesco or Woden hj speaking of Tuesday or Wednesday. On the other 
hand, the ecclesiastical aspects and the sacramental doctrines of the Church 
were the extreme opposites of Quakerism, 



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14 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

more ruthless, and sensuality more extravagant aspects ; 
but there has been no other enduring civilisation so 
absolutely destitute of all the forms and elements of 
greatness, and none to which the epithet mean may be so 
emphatically applied. The Byzantine Empire was pre- 
eminently the age of treachery. Its vices were the vices 
of men who had ceased to be brave without learning to 
be virtuous. Without patriotism, without the fruition or 
desire of liberty, after the first paroxysms of religious 
agitation, without genius or intellectual activity ; slaves, 
and willing slaves, in both their actions and their thoughts 
immersed in sensuality and in the most frivolous pleasures, 
the people only emerged from their listleasness when some 
theological subtlety, or some rivalry in the chariot races, 
stimulated them into frantic riots. They exhibited all the 
externals of advanced civilisation. Thqr possessed know- 
ledge ; they had continually before them the noble litera- 
ture of ancient Greece, instinct with the loftiest heroism ; 
but that literature, which afterwards did so much to 
reviviiy Europe, could fire the degenerate Greeks with 
no spark or semblance of nobihty. The history of the 
empire is a monotonous story of the intrigues of priests, 
eunuchs, and women, of poisonings, of conspiracies, of 
uniform ingratitude, of perpetual fratricides. After the 
conversion of Constantine there was no prince in any 
section of the Koman Empire altogether so depraved, or 
at least so shameless, as Nero or Heliogabalus ; but the By- 
zantine Empire can show none bearing the faintest resem- 
blance to Antonine or Marcus Aurelius, while the nearest 
approximation to that character at Eome was furnished by 
the emperor Julian, who contemptuously abandoned the 
Christian faith. At last the Mahommedan invasion termi- 
nated the long decrepitude of the Eastern Empire. Con- 
stantinople sank beneath the Crescent, its inhabitants 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 15 

wrangling about theological differences to the very mo- 
ment of their fall. 

The Asiatic churches had already perished. The Chris- 
tian faith, planted in the dissolute cities of Asia Minor, had 
produced many fanatical ascetics and a few illustrious theo- 
logians, but it had no renovating effect upon the people 
at large. It introduced among them a principle of inter- 
minable and implacable dissension, but it scarcely tem- 
pered in any appreciable degree their luxury or their sen- 
suality. The frenzy of pleasure continued imabated, and 
in a great part of the empire it seemed indeed only to 
have attained its cUmax after the triumph of Christianity. 

The condition of the Western Empire was somewhat 
different. Not quite a century after the conversion of 
Constantine, the Imperial city was captured by Alaric, and 
a long series of barbarian invasions at last dissolved the 
whole framework of Boman society, while the barbarians 
themselves, having adopted the Christian faith and sub- 
mitted absolutely to the Christian priests, the Church, 
which remained the guardian of aU the treasiures of an- 
tiquity, was left with a virgin soil to realise her ideal of 
human excellence. Nor did she fell short of what might 
be expected. She exercised for many centuries an 
almost absolute empire over the thoughts and actions of 
mankind, and created a civilisation which was permeated 
in every part with ecclesiastical influence. And the dark 
ages, as the period of Catholic ascendancy is justly called, 
do undoubtedly display many features of great and 
genuine excellence. In active benevolence, in the spirit 
of reverence, in loyalty, in co-operative habits, they far 
transcend the noblest ages of Pagan antiquity, while in 
that humanity which shrinks from the infliction of suf- 
fering, they were superior to Eoman, and in their respect 
for chastity, to Greek civilisation. On the other hand, 



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16 mSTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

they rank immeasurably below the best Pagan civilisations 
in civic and patriotic virtues, in the love of liberty, in the 
number and splendour of the great characters they pro- 
duced, in the dignity and beauty of the type of character 
they formed. They had their fiill share of tumult, 
anarchy, injustice, and war, and they should probably be 
placed, in all intellectual virtues, lower than any other 
period in the history of mankind. A boundless intole- 
rance of aU divergence of opinion was united with an 
equally boundless toleration of all falsehood and deliberate 
fraud that could favour received opinions. Credulity 
being taught as a virtue, and all conclusions dictated by 
authority, a deadly torpor sank upon the human mind, 
which for many centuries almost suspended its action, 
and was only broken by the scrutinising, innovating, and 
free-thinking habits that accompanied the rise of the in- 
dustrial republics in Italy. Few men who are not either 
priests or monks would not have preferred to hve in the 
best days of the Athenian or of the Eoman repubUcs, in 
the age of Augustus or in the age of the Antonines, rather 
than in any period that elapsed between the triumph of 
Christianity and the fourteenth century. 

It is indeed diflScult to conceive any clearer proof 
than was furnished by the history of the twelve hun- 
dred years after the conversion of Constantine, that while 
theology has undoubtedly introduced into the world 
certain elements and principles of good, scarcely if at all 
known to antiquity, while its value as a tincture or 
modifying influence in society can hardly be overrated, 
it is by no means for the advantage of mankind that in 
the form which the Greek and Catholic Chmrches present, 
it should become a controlling arbiter of civilisation. 
It is often said that the Boman world before Constantine 
was in a period of rapid decay, that the traditions and 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 17 

-vitality of half-suppressed Paganism account for many of 
the aberrations of later times ; that the influence of the 
Chiirch was often rather nominal and superficial than 
supreme ; and that, in judging the ignorance of the dark 
ages, we must make large allowance for the dislocations 
of society by the barbarians. In all this there is much 
. truth ; but when we remember that in the Byzantine 
Empire the renovating power of theology was tried in a 
new capital free from Pagan traditions^ and for more than 
one thousand years unsubdued by barbarians, and that 
in the West the Church, for at least seven hundred years 
after the shocks of the invasions had subsided, exercised 
a control more absolute than any other moral or in- 
teUectual agency has ever attained, it will appear, I 
think, that the experiment was very sufficiently tried. 
It is easy to make a catalogue of the glaring vices of 
antiquity, and to contrast them with the pure morality 
of Christian writings ; but if we desire to form a just 
estimate of the realised improvement, we must compare 
the classical and ecclesiastical civilisations as wholes, and 
must observe in each case not only the vices that were 
repressed, but also the degree and variety of positive 
excellence attained. In the first two centuries of the 
Christian Church the moral elevation was extremely 
high, and was continually appealed to as a proof of the • 
divinity of the creed. In the century before the con- 
version of Constantine, a marked depression was already 
manifest. The two centuries after Constantine are uni- 
formly represented by the Fathers as a period of general 
and scandalous vice. The ecclesiastical civilisation that 
followed, though not without its distinctive merits, as- 
suredly supplies no justification of the common boast 
about the regeneration of society by the Church. That 
the civilisation of the last three centuries has risen in 

VOL. II. c 

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18 HI8T0RT OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

most rejects to a higher level than any that had pre- 
ceded it, I at least finnly believe ; but theological ethics, 
though very important, form but one of the many and 
complex elements of its excellence. Medianicfd in- 
ventions, the habits of industrialism, the discoveries of 
physical science, the improvements of govemn^nt, iine 
expansion of literature, the traditions of Pi^an antiquity, 
have all a distinguished place, while, the more fully its 
history is investigated, the more clearly two capital truths 
are disclosed. The first is that the ii^uence of theology 
having for centuries numbed and paral3rsed the whole 
intellect of CSiristian Europe, the revival, which forms ihe 
starting-point of our modem civilisation, was mainly due 
to the fact that two spheres of intellect still remained un- 
controlled by the sceptre of Catholicism. The Pagan 
literature of antiquity, and the Mahommedim schools of 
science, were the chief agencies in resuscitating the dor- 
mant energies of Christendom- The second feet, which I 
have elsewhere endeavoured to establish in detail, is that 
diuing more than three centuries the decadence of theo- 
logical influence has been one of the most invariable signs 
and measures of our progress. In medicine, physical 
sdence, commercial intere^ politics, and even ethics, 
the reformer has been confronted with theological affirma- 
tions which barred liis way, which were all defended 
as of vitid importance, and were all in turn compelled 
to yield before ^e secularising influ^ice of civilisa- 
tion. 

We have here, then, a problem of deep interest and im« 
portance, which I propose to investigate in the preseirt 
chapter. We have to inquire why it was that a religion 
which was not more remarkable for the beauty of its 
moral teaching than for the power with which it acted 
upon mankind, and which during the last few centuries 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLBMAONE. 10 

' has been the source of countless blessings to the world, 
should have proved itself for so long a period, and under 
such a variety of conditions, altogether unable to regene- 
., rate Europe. The question is not one of languid or im- 
^ perfect action, but of conflicting agencies. In the vast 
and complex organism of Catholicity there were some 
parts which acted with admirable force in improving and 
elevating mankind There were others which had a 
directly opposite eflect. 

The first aspect in which Christianity presented itself 
to the world was as a declaration of the fraternity of 
men in Christ. Considered as immortal beings, destined 
for the extremes of happiness or of misery, and united 
to one another by a special community of redemp- 
tion, the first and most manifest duty of a Christian man 
was to look upon his fellow-^nen as sacred beings, and 
from this notion grew up the eminently Christian idea 
of the sanctity of all human Ufe. I have already endea- 
voured to show — ^and the fact is of such capital import- 
ance in meeting the common objections to the reality of 
natural moral perceptions, that I venture, at the risk of 
tediousness, to recur to it — that nature does not teU man 
that it is wrong to slay without provocation his fellow- 
men. Not to dwell upon those early stages of barbarism 
in which the higher faculties of human nature are still 
undeveloped, and almost in the condition of embryo, it is 
an historical feet, beyond all dispute, that refined, and 
even moral societies, have existed, in which the slaughter 
of men of some particular class or nation has been re- 
garded with no more compunction than the slaughter of 
animals in the chase. The early Greeks, in their deaUngs 
with the barbarians ; the Eomans, in their dealings with 
gladiators, and, in some periods of their history, with 
slaves; the Spaniards, in their dealings with Lidians; 

c 2 

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20 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

nearly all colonists removed from European supervision, 
in their dealings with an inferior race ; an immense pro- 
portion of the nations of antiquity, in their dealings with 
new-bom infants, display this complete and absolute cal- 
lousness, and we may discover traces of it even in our 
own islands and within the last three hundred years.^ 
And difficult as it may be to reaUse it in our day, when 
the atrocity of all wanton slaughter of meu has become 
an essential part of our moral feehngs, it is nevertheless 
an incontestable fact that this callousness has been con- 
tinually shown by good men, by men who in all other 
respects would be regarded in any age as conspicuous for 
their humanity. In the days of the Tudors, the best 
Englishmen delighted in what we should now deem the 
most barbarous sports, and it is absolutely certain that in 
antiquity men of genuine humanity — tender relations, 
loving friends, charitable neighbours — men in whose eyes 
the murder of a fellow-citizen would have appeared as 
atrocious as in our own, frequented, instituted, and ap- 
plauded gladiatorial games, or counselled without a 
scruple the exposition of infants. But it is, as I conceive, 
a complete confusion of thought to imagine, as is so 
commonly done, that any accumulation of fects of this 
nature throws the smallest doubt upon the reality of 
innate moral perceptions. All that the intuitive moralist 
asserts is that we know by nature that there is a distinction 
between humanity and cruelty, that the first belongs to 
the higher or better part of our nature, and that it is our 
duty to cultivate it The standard of the age, which is 
itself determined by the general condition of society, con- 

^ See the masterly description of the relations of the English to the 
Irish in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, in Fronde's Hidory of England, ch. 
xxiy. ; and also Lord Macaulay's description of the feelings of the Master 
of Stair towards the Highlanders. {Hist, of England^ ch. xtHL) 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO OHARLEMA.GNE. 21 

stitutes the natural line of duty ; for he who falls below it 
contributes to depress it. Now, there is no fact more 
absolutely certain, than that nations and ages which have 
differed most widely as to the standard have been per- 
fectly unanimous as to the excellence of humanity. Plato, 
who recommended infanticide ; Cato,*who sold his aged 
daves ; Pliny, who applauded the games of the arena ; 
the old generals, who made their prisoners slaves or 
gladiators, as well as the modem generals, who refuse to 
impose upon them any degrading labour ; the old legis- 
lators, who filled their codes with sentences of torture, 
mutilation, and hideous forms of death, as well as the 
modern legislators, who are continuaUy seeking to abridge 
the punishment of the most guilty ; the old disciplinarian, 
who governed by force, as well as the modem education- 
alist, who governs by sympathy ; the Spanish girl, whose 
dark eye glows with rapture as she watches the frantic 
bull, while the fire streams from the explosive dart that 
quivers in its neck ; the English lady, whose sensitive 
humanity shudders at the chase ; the reformers we some- 
times meet, who are scandalised by all field sports, or by 
the sacrifice of animal fife for food ; or who will eat only 
the larger animals, in order to reduce the sacrifice of life 
to a minimum ; or who are continually inventing new 
methods of quickening animal death — all these persons, 
widely as they differ in their acts and in their judgments 
of what things should be caUed ' brutal,' and what things 
should be called * fantastic,' agree in beUeving humanity 
to be better than cruelty, and in attaching a definite con- 
demnation to acts that fall below the standard of their 
country and their time. Now, it was one of the most 
important services of Christianity, that besides quickening 
greatly our benevolent affections, it definitely and dogma- 
tically asserted the sinfulness of all destraction of human 



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22 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

life as a matter of amusement, or of simple convenience, 
and thereby formed a new standard higher than any 
which then existed in the world. 

The influence of Christianity in this respect begaa with 
the very earUest stage of human life. The practice of 
abortion was one fb which few pei'sons in antiquity at- 
tached any deep feeling of condemnation. I have noticed 
in a former chapter that the physiological theory that 
the foetus did not become a living creature till the hour 
of birth, had some influence on the judgments passed upon 
this practice ; and even where this theory was not gene- 
rally held, it is easy to account for the prevalence of 
the act. The death of an unborn child does not appeal 
very powerfully to the feeUng of compassion, and men 
who had not yet attained any strong sense of the sanctity 
of human life, who beheved that they might regulate 
their conduct on these matters by utilitarian views, ac- 
cording to the general interest of the community, might 
very readily conclude that the prevention of birth was in 
many cases an act of mercy. In Greece, Aristotle not 
only countenanced the practice, but even desired that it 
should be enforced by law, when population had exceeded 
certain assigned Umits.^ No law in Greece, or in the Ko- 
man Eepubhc, or during the greater part of the Empire, 
condemned it ;^ and if, as has been thought, some measure 
was adopted condemnatory of it in the latter dajrs of the 
Pagan Empire, that measure was altogether inoperative. 
A long chain of writers, both Pagan and Christian, repre- 
sent the practice as avowed and almost universal. They 
describe it as resulting, not simply from Ucentiousness 
or from poverty, but even from so slight a motive as 

^ See on the views of Aristotle; Labonrt; Itecherches historiques $w lea 
EnfanU trouvSs (Paris, 1848), p. 9. 
• See Gravins, De Ortu et Progrettu Juris CtviHs, lib. i. 44* 



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FROM CONSTANTXNB TO GSARLEBfAQINE. 38 

vanity, which made mothers shrink from the disfigure- 
ment of childbirth. They speak of a mother who had 
never destroyed her unborn offspring as deserving of 
signal praise, and they assure us that the frequency of 
the crime was such that it gave rise to a regular profes- 
sion. At the same time, while Ovid, Seneca, Favorinus 
the Stoic of Aries, Plutarch, and Juvenal, all speak of* 
abortion as general and notorious, they all speak of it as 
unquesticmably criminal^ It was probably regarded by 
the average Bomans of the later days of Paganism much 
as Englishmen in the last century regarded convivial 
excesses, as certainly wrong, but so venial as scarcely to 
deserve censure. 

The language of the Christians from the v^ banning 
was very different. With unwavering consistency and with 

& ^Nunc uterum viiiat qu» yult formofla Tideri, 

Baraque in hoc »vo est, qum velit esse parens.' 

Ovid^ De Nuce, lines 22>23. 
Tha same writer has devoted one of his elegies (ii. 14) to reproaching 
his mistresB Oorinna with haying been gniltj of this act. It was not with- 
out dangers, and Ovid sajs, 

' 8»pe suos utero qym neeat ipsa pent.' 
A mec6 of Domitian is said to have died in consequence of haying^ at the 
command of the emperor^ practised it (Sue ton. Domit, xxii.). Plutarch 
notices the custom {De SanitaU Timtda), and Seneca eulogises Helvia 
(Ad Hdv, xvi) tot being exempt from yvoitj and having never destroyed 
her unborn o£bpring. Favorinus, in a remarkable passage (Aulus Gellius, 
NocL AU. zii. 1), speaks of the act as * publica detestatione communique 
odio dignum/ snd proceeds to argue that it is only a degree less criminal 
for mothers to put out their children to nurse. Juvenal has some well- 
known and emphatic lines on the subject : — 

* Sed jacet aurato vix nulla puerpera lecto; 
Tantum artea hujus, tantum medicamina possunt, 
Qu» steriles faci^ atque homines in ventre n^candos 
Conducit' Sat, vi lines 582-595. 

There are also many allusions to it in the Christian writers. Thus 
Minuciua Felix (Octavimy xxx.) : * Vos enim video procreates filios nunc 
feris et avibus exponere, nunc adstrangulatos misero mortis genere elidere. 
Sunt qu» in ipsis visceribus medicaminibus epotis, onginem futuri hominis 
extinguant et parriddium faciant antequam pariant.' 



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24 mSTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

the strongest emphasis, they denounced the practice, not 
simply as inhuman, but as definitely murder. In the 
penitential discipline of the Church, abortion was placed 
in the same category as infanticide, and the stem sen- 
tences to which the guilty person was subject imprinted 
on the minds of Christians, more deeply than any mere 
exhortations, a sense of the enormity of the crime. By 
the Council of Ancyra the guilty mother was excluded 
from the Sacrament till the very hour of death, and 
though this penalty was soon reduced, first to ten and 
afterwards to seven years' penitence,^ the offence still 
ranked among the gravest in the legislation of the Church. 
In one very remarkable way the reforms of Christianity 
in this sphere were powerfully sustained by a doctrine 
which is perhaps the most revolting in the whole theo- 
logy of the Fathers. To the Pagans, even when condemn- 
ing abortion and infanticide, these crimes appeared com- 
paratively trivial, because the victims seemed very insigni- 
ficant and their sufferings very slight The death of an 
adult man who is struck down in the midst of his enter- 
prise and his hopes, who is united by ties of love or 
friendship to multitudes around him, and whose departure 
causes a perturbation and a pang to the society in which 
he has moved, excites feeUngs very different firom any 
produced by the painless extinction of a new-born infant, 
which, having scarcely touched the earth, has known none 
of its cares and very little of its love. But to the theolo- 
gian this infant life possessed a fearful significance. The 
moment, they taught, the foetus in the womb acquired 
animation, it became an immortal being, destined, even if 
it died unborn, to be raised again on the last day, re- 
sponsible for the sin of Adam, and doomed, if it perished 
without baptism, to be excluded for ever from heaven 

^ See Labouii; Recherches ntr le$ Enfans trauvSs, p. 25. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 26 

and to be cast, as the Greeks taught, into a painless and 
joyless limbo, or, as the Latins taught, into the abyss of hell. 
It is probably, in a considerable degree, to this doctrine 
that Ave owe in the first instance the healthy sense of the 
value and sanctity of infant life which so broadly distin- 
guishes Christian from Pagan societies, and which is now 
so thoroughly incorporated with our moral feelings as to 
be independent of all doctrinal changes. That which aj)- 
pealed so powerfully to the compassion of the early and 
mediaeval Christians, in the fate of the murdered infants, 
was not that they died, but that they commonly died un- 
baptised; and the criminality of abortion was immeasur- 
ably aggravated when it was beUevedto involve, not only 
the extinction of a transient Ufe, but also the damnation of 
an immortal soul.^ In the ' Lives of the Saints' there is a 

' Among the 'barbarian laws there is a very curious one about a daily 
compensation to the parents of children who had been killed in the womb 
on account of the daily suffering of those children in heU. * Propterea 
diutumam judicaverunt antecessores nostri compositionem et judices post- 
quam religio Christianitatis inolevit in mundo. Quia diutumani postquam 
incamationem suscepit anima quamvis ad nativitatb lucem minime per- 
venisset, patitur pcenam, quia sine sacramento regenerationis abortivo modo 
tradita est ad inferos.' — ^Xe^6«^ri/uvar»or}<m,tit vii.cap.xx.in Canciani,Ze^es 
Barhar, voL ii. p. 374. The first foundling hospital of which we have un- 
doubted record is that founded at Milan, by a man named Datheus, in a.d. 
789. Muratori has preserved (Antich, Ital, Diss, xxxvii.) the charter 
embodying the motives of the founder, in which the following sentences 
occur : — ' Quia frequenter per luxuriam hominum genus decipitur, et exinde 
malum homicidii generatur, dum concipientes ex adulterio ne prodantur in 
publico, fetos teneros necant, et absqtie Baptisnudis lavacro parvulos ad Tar^ 
tara mitiunt, quia nullum reperiunt locum, quo servare vivos valeant/ &c. 
Henry IL of France, 1556, made a long law against women who, ' adve- 
nant le temps de leur part et d^livrance de leur enfant, occultement s'en 
d^vrent, puis le suffoquent et autrement suppriment sans leur avoir fatt 
entparHr le Samt Sacrement du BapUme^ — Labourt, Becherches sur les Bnf, 
trouvSSy p. 47. There is a story told of a Queen of Portugal (sister to Henry V. 
of England, and mother of St. Ferdinand) that, being in childbirth, her 
life was despaired of unless she took a medicine which would accelerate 
the birth but probably sacrifice the life of the child. She answered that 
' she would not purchase her temporal life by the eternal salvation of her 
son.' — ^Bollandists, Act, Sanctor., June 5th. 



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28 HISTORY OF EUROraAN MORALS. 

curious legend of a man who, being desirous of ascertain- 
ing the condition of a child before birth, slew a pregnant 
woman, committing thereby a double murder, that of 
the mother and of the child in her womb. Stung by 
remorse, the murderer fled to the desert, and passed the 
remainder of his life in constant penance and prayer. 
At last, after many years, the voice of Gtod told him that 
he had been forgiven the murder of the woman. But 
yet his end was a clouded one. He never could obtain an 
assurance that he had been forgiven the death of the 
child.1 

If we pass to the next stage of human life, that of the 
new-born infant, we find ourselves in pres^ice of that 
practice of infanticide which was one of the deepest stains 
of the ancient civilisation. The natural history of this 
crime is somewhat peculiar.^ Among savages, whorfe 
feehngs of compassion are very faint, and whose warUke 
and nomadic habits are eminently unfavourable to infant 
Ufe, it is, as might be expected, the usual custom for the 
parent to decide whether he desires to preserve the child 
he has called into existence, and if he does not, to expose 
or slay it. In nations that have passed out of the stage 
of barbarism, but are still rude and simple in their habits, 
the practice of infanticide is usually rare; but imlike 

1 Tillemonty MSmoirea pour servir d VHistoire ecclisiadtque (Paris^ 1701) 
tome X. p. 41. St. Clem. Alexand. says that infants in the womb and ex- 
posed infants have g^uardian angels to watch over them. {Strom, y.) 

^ There is an extremely large literature demoted to the subject of infan- 
ticide, exposition, foundlings^ &c. The books I have chiefly foUowed are 
Terme et Monfalcon, Histoiredes EnfaiM trouv4s (Paris, 1840) ; Remade, De$ 
Hospices cPJEnfana trouois (1838); Labourt, fiecherckea historiques sur Us 
Enfans irowvis (Paris, 1848) ; Ejoenigswartor, Essai sur la Legidation des 
Peuples anciens et modemes relative aux JEnfans tUs hors Mortage (Paris, 
1842). There are also many details on the subject in Godefroy*s Commentary 
to the laws about children in the Theodosian Code, in Maltiius On Popular 
Hon, in Edward's tract On the State of Slavery in the Early and Middle 
Ages of Ckristianitg, and in most eodedastical histories. 



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FROM OONSTANTINE TO CHABLEMAONE. 27 

Other crimes of violence, it is not naturally diminished by 
the progress of civilisation, for after the period of savage 
life is passed, its prevalence is influenced much more by 
the sensuaUty than by the barbarity of a people.^ We 
may trace, too, in many coimtries and ages, the notion that 
children, as the fruit, representatives, and dearest pos- 
sessions of their parents, are acceptable sacrifices to the 
gods.^ Infanticide, as is well known, was almost uni- 
versally admitted among the Greeks, being sanctioned, 
and in some cases enjoined, upon what we should now 
call * the greatest happiness principle,' by the ideal l^is- 
lations of Plato and Aristotle, and by the actual legislations 
of Lycurgus and Solon. Kegarding the community as a 
whole, they clearly saw that it is in the highest degree 
for the interests of society that the increase of population 
should be very jealously restricted, and that the State 
should be as far as possible free from helpless and unpro- 
ductive members ; and they therefore concluded that the 

* It most not, however, be inferred from this that infSonticide increases in 
direct proportion to the unchastity of a nation. Probably the condition of 
civilised society in which it is most common, is where a large amount of 
actual imchastity coexists with very strong social condemnation of the 
sinner; and where, in consequence, there is an intense anxiety to conceal the 
faU. A recent writer on Spain has noticed the almost complete absence of 
infanticide in that country, and has ascribed it to the great leniency of 
public opinion towards female frailty. Foundling hospitals, also, greatly 
influence the history of infanticide ; but the mortality in them was long so 
great that it may be questioned whether they have diminished the number of 
the deaths, though they have, as I believe, greatly diminished the number of 
the murders of children. Lord Kames, writing in the last half of the eight- 
eenth century, says, * In Wales, even at present, and in the Highlands of 
Scotland, it is scarce a disgrace for a young woman to have a bastard. In the 
country last mentioned, the first instance known of a bastard child being 
destroyed by its mother through shame is a late one. The virtue of chastity 
appears to be thus gaining greond, as the only temptation a woman can 
have to destroy her child is to conceal her fnaity.'^SkMches of the History 
of Man — On the Progress of the Female Sex, The last clause is 'clearly 
inaccurate, but there seems reason for believing that maternal afiection is 
generally stronger than want, but weaker than shame. 

* See Warburton's Divme Legation, vii. 2. 



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28 raSTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

painless destruction of infant life, and especially of those 
infants who were so deformed or diseased that their 
lives, if prolonged, would probably have been a burden 
to themselves, was on the whole a benefit. The very 
sensual tone of Greek life rendered the modem notion 
of prolonged continence wholly ahen to their thoughts, 
and the extremely low social and intellectual condition of 
Greek mothers, who exercised no appreciable influence 
over the habits of thought of the nation should also, I 
think, be taken into account, for it has always been 
observed that mothers are much more distinguished than 
fathers for their affection for infants that have not yet 
manifested the first dawning of reason. Even in Greece, 
however, infanticide and exposition were not universally 
permitted. In Thebes these offences were punished by 
death.^ 

The power of life and death, which in Bome was 
originally conceded to the father over his children, 
would appear to involve an unlimited permission of in- 
fanticide; but a very old law, popularly ascribed to 
Eomulus, in this respect restricted the parental rights, 
enjoining the father to bring up all his male children, 
and at least his eldest female child, forbidding him to 
destroy any well-formed child till it had completed its 
third year, when the affections of the parent might be 
supposed to be developed, but permitting the exposition 
of deformed or maimed children with the consent of 
their five nearest relations.^ The Koman poUcy was 

1 iElian. Varta Hist, ii. 7. Passages from the Greek imag^ative 
writers, representing exposition as the avowed and habitual practice of poor 
parents, are collected by Terme et Monfalcon, Hitt, des Enfana trouvis, pp. 
89-45. Tacitus notices with praise (Germania, xiz.) that the Germans did 
not allow infanticide. He also notices (Hid, y. 6) the prohibition of infan- 
ticide among the Jews, and ascribes it to their desire to increase the popu- 
lation. * Dion. Halic. ii. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 29 

always to encourage, while the Greek policy was rather 
to restrain population, and infanticide never appears to 
have been common in Kome till the corrupt and sensual 
days of the Empire. The legislators then absolutely 
condenmed it, and it was indirectly discouraged by laws 
which accorded special privileges to the fathers of many 
children, exempted poor parents from most of the burden 
of taxation, and in some degree provided for the security 
of exposed infants. Public opinion probably differed 
little from that of our own -day as to the fact, though it 
differed from it much as to the degree, of its criminaUty. 
It was, as will be remembered, one of the charges most 
frequently brought against the Christians, and it was one 
that never failed to arouse popular indignation. Pagan 
and Christian authorities are, however, united in speaking 
of infentidde as a crying vice of the Empire, and Ter- 
tuUian observed that no laws were more easily or more 
constantly evaded than those which condemned it.^ A 
broad distinction was popularly drawn between infanticide 
and exposition. The latter, though probably condemned, 
was certainly not punished by law ;^ it was practised on a 

* The well-known jtirisconsnlt Paulus had laid down the proposition, 
' Necare videtur non tantnm is qui partum perfocat sed et is qui abjicit 
et qui alimonia denegat et qui publicis locis misericordieB causa exponit 
quam ipse non habet' (Dig, lib. xxy. tit iii. 1. 4.) These words have given 
rise to a famous controversy between two Dutch professors, named Noodt and 
Bynkershoek, conducted on both sides with great learning, and on the side of 
Noodt with great passion. Noodt maintained that these words are simply 
the expression of a moral truth, not a judicial decision, and that exposition was 
never illegal in Rome till some time after the establishment of Christianity. 
His opponent argued that exposition was legally identical with infanticide, and 
became, therefore, illegal when the power of life and death was withdrawn 
firom the father. (See the works of Noodt (Cologne, 1763) and of Bynker- 
shoek (Cologne, 1761). It is at least certain that exposition was notorious 
and avowed, and the law against it, if it existed, inoperative. Gibbon 
(Decline and Fall, ch. xliv.) thinks the law censured but did not punish ex- 
position. See, too, Troplong, In/luence du Chruiianisme sur le Droit, p. 271. 



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80 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

gigantic scale and with absolute impunity, noticed by writers 
with the most ftigid indifference, and at least, in the case of 
destitute parents, considered a very venial offence.^ Often, 
no doubt, the exposed children perished, but more fre- 
quently the very extent of the practice saved the lives of the 
victims. They were brought systenmtically to a column 
near the Velabrum, and there taken by speculators who 
educated them as slaves, or very frequently as prostitutes.^ 

^ Quistilian speaks in a ione of apology, if not justification^ of 13ie expo- 
sition of the children of destitute parents (Ded. cccvi.)^ and even Plutarch 
speaks of it without censure. (De Aiiwr, Prolis,) There are several curious 
illustrations in Latin literature of the different feelings of fathers and 
mothers on this matter. Terence (Heauton^ Act. iiL Scene 5) represents 
Chremes as having, as a matter of course, charged his pregnant wife to 
have her child killed provided it was a girl. The mother, overcome hy pity, 
shrank from doing so, and secretly gave it to an old woman to expose it, in 
hopes that it might be preserved. Chremes, on hearing what had been 
done, reproached his wife for her womanly pity, and told her she had been 
not only disobedient but irrational, for she was only consigning her daughter 
to the life of a prostitute. In Apuleius (Metam, lib. x.) we have a similar 
picture of a father starting for a journey, leaving his wife in childbirth, and 
giving her his parting command to kill her child if it should be a girl, 
which she could not bring herself to do. The girl was brought up secretiy. 
In the case of weak or deformed infjcmts infanticide seems to have been 
habitual. 'Portentos foetus extinguimus, Hberos quoque ^ debiles mon- 
strosique editi sunt, mergimus. Non ira sed ratio est % sanis inutilia 
secemere.' — Seneca, Be Ira, i. 15. Terence has introduced a picture of the 
exposition of an infant into his Andria, Act iv. Scene 6. See, too. Suet. 
August, Ixv. According to Suetonius (JJalig, v.), on the deatii of Ger- 
manicus, women exposed their new-bom chUdren in sign of grie£ Ovid 
had dwelt vrith much feeling on the barbarity of these practices. It is a 
very curious &ct, which has been noticed by Warburton, that Ohremes, 
whose sentiments about infants we have just seen, is the very personage 
into whose mouth Terence has put the famous sentiment, 'Homo sum 
humani nihil a me alienum puto.' 

' That these were the usual fates of exposed infiints is noticed by several 
writers. Some, too, both Pagan and Ohiistian (Quintilian, Deel cccvi. ; 
Lactantius, Div, Inst, vi. 20, &c), speak of the liability to incestuous mar- 
riages resulting from frequent exposition. In the Greek poets there are 
several allusions to rich childless men adopting foundlings, and Juvenal 
says it was common for Roman wives to pahn off foundlings on their hus- 
bands for their sons. {Sat, vL 603.) There is an extremely horrible declama- 
■tion in Seneca the Rhetorician (Conirover$, lib. v. 83) about exposed children 



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FROM CONSTAlirnNE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 81 

On the whole, what was demanded on this subject was 
not any clearer moral teaching, but rather a stronger 
enforcement of the condemnation long since passed upon 
infanticide, and an increased protection for exposed 
infants. By the penitential sentences, by the dogmatic 
considerations I have enumerated, and by the earnest ex- 
hortations both of her preachers and writers, Ae Church 
laboured to deepen the sense of the enormity of the act, 
and BBpecially to convince men that the guilt of abandon- 
ing tiiar children to the precarious and doubtfiil mercy 
of the stranger was scarcely less than that of simple in- 
fanticide.^ In the civil law her influence was also dis- 
played, though not, I think, very advantageously. By 
the counsel, it is said, of Lactantius, O^nstantine, in the 
very year of his conversion, in order to prevent the fre- 
quent instances of infanticide by destitute parents, issued 
a decree applicable in the first instance to Italy, but 
extended in A.D. 322 to Africa, in which he ordered that 
those childrai whom their parents were unable to support 
should be clothed and fed at the expense of the State,^ a 
pohcy which had already been pursued on a large scale 
under the Antonioes. In a.d« 331, a law intended to 
multi|dy the chances of the exposed child being taken 
charge of by some charitable or interested person, pro- 
vided that the foundling i^ould remain the absolute pro- 
perly of its saviour, whether he adopted it as a son or 
employed it as a slave, and that the parent should not 
have power at any future time to reclaim it^ By another 

"wbo -wete eaid to have been maimed and mutilated, either to preyent their 
recognition by their parents, or that they might gain money as beggars for 
their masters. 

^ See passages on this point cited by Godefiroy in his Commentary to the 
Law De Expo$Uis, Codex Theod. lib. y. tit 7. 

* Codex Theod. lib. zi. tit. 27. 

* Ibid. lib. y. tit yii lex L 



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82 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

law, which had been issued in a.d. 329, it had been pro- 
vided that children who had been not exposed but sold, 
might be reclaimed upon payment by the father.^ 

The two last laws cannot be regarded with unmingled 
satisfaction. That regulating the condition of exposed 
children, though undoubtedly enacted with the most bene- 
volent intentions, was in some d^ree a retrograde step, 
the Pagan laws having provided that the father might 
always withdraw the child he had exposed from servitude, 
by payment of the expenses incurred in supporting it,^ 
while Trajan had even decided that the exposed child 
could not become under any circumstance a slave.^ The 
, law of Constantine, on the other hand, doomed it to an 
irrevocable servitude, and this law continued in force till 
A.D. 529, when Justinian, reverting to the principle of 
Trajan, decreed that not only the father lost all legitimata 
authority over his child by exposing it, but also that the 
person who had saved it could not by that act deprive it 
of its natural liberty. But this law applied only to the 
Eastern Empire; and in part at least of the West* the 
servitude of exposed infants continued for centuries, and 
appears only to have terminated with the general extinc- 
tion of slavery in Europe. The law of Constantine con- 
cerning the sale of children was also a step, though 
perhaps a necessary step, of retrogression. A series of 
emperors,* among whom Caracalla was conspicuous, had 
denounced and endeavoured to abolish as * shameful,' 
the traflSc in free children, and Diocletian had expressly 
and absolutely condemned it.^ The extreme misery, how- 
ever, resulting from the civil wars under Constantine, had 

1 Codex Theod. lib. v. tit. 8. lex 1. 

* See Godefipoy's Commentary to the Law. 

• In a letter to the younger Pliny. (Ep, x. 72.) 

^ See on this point Muratori, Antu^, Italian, Diss, xxxyii. 

^ See on these lawS; Wallon^ Hist, de VEsdavagCy tome iii. pp. 52-^. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 33 

rendered it necessary to authorise the old practice of 
selling children in the case of absolute destitution, which, 
though it had been condemned, had probably never 
altogether ceased. Theodosius the Great attempted to 
take a step in advance, by decreeing that the children 
thus sold might regain their freedom without the re- 
payment of the purchase-money, a temporary service be- 
ing a sufficient compensation for the purchase ; ^ but this 
measure was repealed by Valentinian III* The sale of 
children in case of great necessity, though denounced by 
the Fathers,^ continued long after the time of Theodosius, 
nor does any Christian emperor appear to have enforced 
the humane enactment of Diocletian. 

Together with these measures for the protection of 
exposed children, there were laws directly condemnatory 
of infanticide. This branch of the subject is obscured by 
much ambiguity and controversy ; but it appears most 
probable that the Pagan legislature reckoned infanticide as 
a form of homicide, though, being deemed less atrocious 
than other forms of homicide, it was punished, not by 
death, but by banij^hment.^ A law of Constantine, in- 
tended principally, and perhaps exclusively, for Africa, 
where the sacrifices of children to Saturn were very com- 
mon, assimilated to parricide the murder of a child by its 
father ;* and finally, Valentinian, in a.d. 374, made all 
infanticide a capital offence,^ and especially enjoined the 

* See Cod, Theod, lib. iiL tit. 3; lex 1, and the Commmitary. 

' On tlie very persistent denunciation of this practice bj the Fathers, see , 
many examples in Terme et Monfalcon. 

* This is a mere question of definition, upon which lawyers have ex- 
pended much learning and discussion. Oujas thought the Romans con- 
sidered infanticide a crime, but a crime generically different from homicide* 
Godefroy maintains that it was classified as homicide, but that, being es- 
teemed less heinous than the other fonns of homicide, it was only punished 
by exile. See the Commentary to Cod. Theod, lib. ix. tit. 14, L 1. 

* Cod, Theod, lib. ix. tit. 15. * Ibid. lib. ix. tit 14, lex 1. 
VOL. II. D 

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84 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

punishment of exposition.^ A law of the Spanish Visi- 
goths, in the seventh century, punished infanticide and 
abortion with death or blindness.* In the Capitula- 
ries of Charlemagne the farmer crime was pimished as 
homicide.^ 

It is not possible to ascertain, with any degree of accu- 
racy what diminution of infenticide resulted from these 
measures. It may, however, be safely asserted that the 
pubHcity of the trade in exposed children became impos- 
sible under the influence of Christianity, and that the 
sense of the serious nature of the crime was very consi- 
derably increased. The extreme destitution, which was 
one of its most fertile causes, was met by Christian charity. 
Many exposed children appear to have been educated 
by individual Christians.* Brephotrophia and Orphano- 
trophia are among the earliest recorded charitable insti- 
tutions of the Church ; but it is not certain that exposed 
children were admitted into them, and we find no trace 
for several centuries of Christian foundling hospitals. 
This form of charity grew up gradually in the early part 
of the middle ages. It is said that one existed at Treves 
in the sixth, and at Angers in the seventh century, and it 
is certain that one existed at Milan in the eighth century.* 
The Council of Kouen, in the ninth century, invited women 
who had secretly borne children to place them at the door 
of the church, and undertook to provide for them if they 

* Corp. Juris, lib. viii. tit. 62, lex 2. 

• Les^es Wisigothorum (lib. tI. tit. 3, lex 7) and other laws (lib. iv. tit. 4) 
condemned exposition. 

' ' Si quiB infantem necaverit ut bomicida teneatur.* — CapU, vii. 168. 

^ It appears from a passage of St. Augustine, tbat Christian yirgins were 
accustomed to collect exposed children and to have them brought into the 
church. See Tenne et Monfalcon, Hist, des Enfans trouviSy p. 74. 

^ Compare Labourt, EecK tur lea JEnfans trouvSs, pp. 82-83 ; Muratori, 
AnticMtd ItaUane, Dissert xxxvii. Muratori has also briefly noticed the 
history of these charities in his CarUd Christianay cap. xxviL 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 85 

were not reclaimed. It is probable that they were 
brought up among the numerous slaves or serfs attached 
to the ecclesiastical properties, for a decree of the Coimcil 
of Aries, in the fifdi century, and afterwards a law of 
Charlemagne, had echoed the enactment of Constantine, 
declaring that exposed children should be the slaves of 
their protectors. As slavery declined, the memorials of 
many sins, like many other of the discordant elements of 
mediaeval society, were doubtless absorbed and conse- 
crated in the monastic societies. The strong sense always 
evinced in the Church of the enormity of unchastity pro- 
bably rendered the ecclesiastics more cautious in this than 
in other forms of charity, for institutions especially in- 
tended for deserted children advanced but slowly. Even 
Bome, the mother of many charities, could boast of none 
till the beginning of the thirteenth century.^ About the 
middle of the twelfth century we find societies at Milan 
charged, among other functions, with seeking for exposed 
children. Towards the close of the same century, a monk 
of Montpellier, whose very name is doubtftil, but who is 
commonly spoken of as Brother Guy, founded a confra 
ternity called by the name of the Holy Ghost, and de- 
voted to the protection and education of children; and 
this society in the two following centuries ramified over 
a great part of Europe.* Though principally, and at first, 

* THe first seems to hare been that of Sta. Maria in Sassia — a hospital 
which had existed with Tarious changes from the eighth century, but 
which was made a foundling hospital and confided to the care of Guy of 
Montpellier in a.d. 1204. According to one tradition, Pope Innocent III. 
had been shocked at hearing of infants drawn in the nets of fishermen from 
the Tiber. According to another, he was inspired by an angeL Compare 
Remade, Hospices d'JEnfans trouvSs, pp. 36-37, and Amydenus, Pietas 
Momana (a book written a.d. 1624, and translated in part into English in 
A.D. 1687), Eng. trans, pp. 2-3. 

* For the little that is known about this missionary of charity, compare 
Bemacle, Hospices cPEnfoM trouvis, pp. 34-44, and Labourt, Recherches 
hisUjrique9 sur les Enfans trouvis, pp. 38-41. 

d2 

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86 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

perhaps, exclusively intended fcM* the care of the orphans 
of legitimate marriages, though in the fifteenth century the 
Hospital of the Holy Ghost at Paris even refused to admit 
deserted children, yet the care of foundlings soon passed 
in a great measure into its hands. At last, after many 
complaints of the frequency of infanticide, St. "Vincent de 
Paul arose, and gave so great an impulse to that branch 
of charity, that he may be regarded as its second author, 
and his influence was felt not only in private charities, 
but in legislative enactments. Into the effects of these 
measures — the encouragement of the vice of incontinence 
by institutions that were designed to suppress the crime 
of infanticide, and the serious moral controversies sug- 
gested by this apparent conflict between the interests of 
humanity and of chastity — it is not necessary for me to 
enter. We are at present concerned with the principles 
that actuated, not with the wisdom of the organisations, of 
Christian charity. Whatever mistakes may have been made, 
the entire movement I have traced displays an anxiety 
not only for the life, but also for the moral wellbeing of 
the castaways of society, such as the most humane nations 
of antiquity had never reached. This minute and scru- 
pulous care for hum<an life and human virtue in the 
humblest forms, in the slave, the gladiator, the savage, 
or the infant, was indeed wholly foreign to the genius of 
Paganism. It was produced by the Christian doctrine of 
the inestimable value of each immortal soul. It is the 
distinguishing and transcendent characteristic of every 
society into which the spirit of Christianity has passed. 

The influence of Christianity in the protection of infant- 
life, though very real, may be, and I think often has been, 
exaggerated. It would be difficult to overrate its in- 
fluence in the sphere we have next to examine. There 
is scarcely any other single reform so important in the 
moral history of mankind as the suppression of the 

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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 37 

gladiatorial shows, and this feat must be almost ex- 
clusively ascribed to the Christian Church. When we 
remember how extremely few of the best and greatest 
men of the Eoman world had absolutely condemned the 
games of the amphitheatre, it is impossible to regard, 
without the deepest admiration, the imwavering and im- 
compromising consistency of the patristic denunciations. 
And even comparing the Fathers with the most en- 
hghtened Pagan moralists in their treatment of this 
matter, we shall usually find one most significant dif- 
ference. The Pagan, in the spirit of philosophy, de- 
nounced these games as inhuman, or demoralising, or 
degrading, or brutal. The Christian, in the spirit of the 
Church, represented them as a definite sin, the sin of 
murder, for which the spectators as well as the actors 
were directly responsible before Heaven. In the very 
latest days of the Pagan Empire, magnificent amphi- 
theatres were still arising,^ and Constantine himself had 
condemned numerous barbarian captives to combat with 
wild beasts.^ It was in a.d. 365, immediately after 
the convocation of the Coimcil of Nice, that the first 
Christian emperor issued the first edict in the Eoman 
Empire condemnatory of the gladiatorial games.^ It was 
issued in Berytus in Syria, and is beUeved by some to 
have been only applicable to the province of Phoenicia;* 
but even in this province it was suffered to be inopera- 
tive, for, only four years later, Libanius speaks of the 

* E.g. the amphitheatre of Verona was only built under Diocletian. 

* ' Quid hoc triumpho pulchrius P . . . Tantam captivorum multitudinem 
bestiia objicit ut ingrati et perfidi non minus doloris ex ludibrio sui quam ex 
ipsa morte patiantur.' — Incerti Paneyyrictu Constant. 'Puberes qui in 
manus venerunt, quorum nee perfidia erat apta militise^ nee ferocia servituti 
ad poenas spectaculo dati ssevientes bestias multitudine sua fatigarunt.' — 
EumeniuSy Paneg. Constant, xi. 

» Cod. Theod, lib. xv. tit 12, lex 1. Sozomen, i. 8. 

* This, at least, is the opinion of Godefroy, who has discussed the subject 
Tery fully. {Cod. Theod, lib. xv. tit. 12.) 

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38 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

shows as habitually celebrated at Antioch.^ In the 
Western Empire their continuance was fully recognised, 
though a few infinitesimal restrictions were imposed 
upon them. Constantine, in A.D. 357, forbade the la- 
nistae, or purveyors of gladiators, bribing servants of 
the palace to enroll themselves as combatants.* Valen- 
tinian, in A.D. 365, forbade any Christian criminal,® and 
in A.n. 367, anyone connected with the Palatine,* being 
condemned to fight. Honorius prohibited any slave 
who had been a gladiator passing into the service of a 
senator ; but the real object of this last measure was, I 
imagine, not so much to stigmatise the gladiator, as to 
guard against the danger of an armed nobiUty.* A much 
more important feet is, that the spectacles were never in- 
troduced into the new capital of Constantine. At Kome, 
though they became less numerous, they do not appear 
to have been suspended imtil their final suppression. 
The passion for gladiators was the worst, while religious 
liberty was probably the best feature of the old Pagan 
society ; and it is a melancholy fact, that of these two 
it was the nobler part that in the Christian Empire was 
first destroyed. Theodosius the Great, who suppressed 
all diversity of worship throughout the empire, and who 
showed himself on many occasions the docile slave of the 
clergy, won the applause of the Pagan Symmachus by 
compeUing his barbarian prisoners to fight as gladiators.* 
Besides this occasion, we have special knowledge of gladia- 
torial games that were celebrated in a.d. 385, in ad. 391, 
and afterwards in the reign of Honorius, and the practice 
of condemning criminals to the arena still continued.^ 

» Libanius, De Vita Sua, 3. • Cod, Theod. lib. xr. tit 12, L 2. 

» Cod. Theod. lib. ix. tit 40, 1. 8. ♦ Ibid. Kb. ix. tit 40, 1. 11. 

* Ibid. lib. XV. tit 12, 1. 3. • Symmach. J^. x. 61. 

^ M. Wallon has traced these last shows with much learning. (Hist, 
de rJSschvage, tome iii. pp. 421-429.) 

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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 89 

But although the suppression of the gladiatorial shows 
was not effected in the metropolis of the empire till 
nearly ninety years after Christianity had been the State 
rehgion, the distinction between the teaching of the 
Christians and Pagans on the subject remained unim- 
paired. To the last, the most estimable of the Pagans 
appear to have r^arded them with favour or indiffer- 
ence. Julian, it is true, with a rare magnanimity worthy 
of his most noble nature, refused persistently, in his 
conflict with Christianity, to avail himself, as he might 
most easily have done, of the popular passion for games 
which the Church condemned ; but Libanius has noticed 
them with some approbation,^ and Synmiachus, as we 
have already seen, both instituted and applauded them. 
But the Christians steadily refused to admit any profes- 
sional gladiator to baptism till he had pledged himself to 
abandon his caUing, and every Christian who attended 
the games was excluded from communion. The preachers 
and writers of the Church denounced them with the most 
xmqualified vehemence, and the poet Prudentius made a 
direct and earnest appeal to the emperor to suppress 
them. In the East, where they had never taken very 
firm root, they appear to have ceased about the time of 
Theodosius, and a passion for chariot races, which rose 
to the most extravagant height at Constantinople and in 
many other cities, took their place. In the West, the last 
gladiatorial show was celebrated atEome,imderHonorius, 
in A.D. 404, in honour of the triumph of Stihcho, when 
an Asiatic monk, named Telemachus, animated by the 
noblest heroism of philanthropy, rushed into the amphi- 
theatre and attempted to part the combatants. He 

' He wayeredy Howeyer, on the subject^ and on one occasion condemned 
them. See Wallon, tome iiL p. 423. 



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40 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

perished beneath a shower of stones flung by the angry 
spectators ; but his death led to the final abolition of the 
games.^ Combats of men with wild beasts continued, 
however, much later, and were especially popular in the 
East. The difficulty of procuring wild animals, amid the 
general poverty, contributed, with other causes, to their 
decUne. They sank, at last, into games of cruelty to 
animals, but of little danger to men, and were finally con- 
demned, at the end of the seventh century, by the Council 
of TruUo.^ In Italy, the custom of sham fights, which 
continued through the whole of the middle ages, and 
which Petrarch declares were in his day sometimes at- 
tended with considerable bloodshed, may perhaps be traced 
in some degree to the traditions of the amphitheatre.^ 

The extinction of the gladiatorial spectacles is, of all the 
results of early Christian influence, that upon which the 
historian can look with the deepest and most unmingled 
satisfaction. Horrible as was the bloodshed they directly 
caused, these games were perhaps still more pernicious 
on account of the callousness of feeling they diffused 
through all classes, the fatal obstacle they presented to 
any general elevation of the standard of humanity. Yet 
the attitude of the Pagans decisively proVes that no pro- 
gress of philosophy or social civilisation was likely, for a 
very long period, to have extirpated them, and it can 
hardly be doubted that, had they been flourishing unchal- 
lenged as in the days of Trajan, when the rude warriors 
of the North obtained the empire of Italy, they would 
have been eagerly adopted by the conquerors, would 
have taken deep root in mediaeval Ufe, and have indefi- 

» Theodoret, v. 26. 

» Muller, De Oento Mvi Theodosiani (1797), voL ii. p. 88 ; Milman, Hist. 
of Early ChrtdianUy, toI. iii. pp. 343-847. 

* See on these fights Ozanam's CiviUsation in the Fifth Century (Eng. 
trans.), voL i. p. 130. 



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FKOM CONSTANTINE TO CIIAPvLEMAGNE. 41 

nitely retarded the progress of humanity. Christianity 
alone was powerful enough to tear this evil plant from 
the Koman soil The Christian custom of legacies for 
the relief of theindigent and suffering replaced the Pagan 
custom of bequeathing sums of money for games in 
honour of the dead, and the month of December, which 
was looked forward to with eagerness through all the 
Koman world, as the special season of the gladiatorial 
spectacles, was consecrated in the Church by another 
festival commemorative of the advent of Christ. 

The notion of the sanctity of human life, which led the 
early Christians to combat and at last to overthrow the 
gladiatorial games, was carried by some of them to an 
extent altogether irreconcilable with national indepen- 
dence, and with the prevailing penal system. Many of 
them taught that no Christian might lawfully take away 
life, either as a soldier or by bringing a capital charge, or 
by acting as an executioner. The first of these questions 
it will be convenient to reserve for a later period of this 
chapter, when I propose to examine the relations of 
Christianity to the miUtary spirit, and a very few words 
will be sufficient to dispose of the others. The notion 
that there is something impure and defiUng, even in a 
just execution, is one which may be traced through many 
ages, and executioners, as the ministers of the law, have 
been from very ancient times regarded as unholy. In both 
Greece and Eome the law compelled them to live outside 
the walls, and at Bhodes they were never permitted even 
to enter the city.^ Notions of this kind were very strongly 
held in the early Church ; and a decree of the penitential 
discipline which was enforced, even against emperors and 
generals, forbade anyone whose hands had been imbrued 

^ Nieupoort; De HitHms Bomanorum^ p. 168. 

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42 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

in blood, even when liat blood was shed in a war which 
was recognised as righteous, approaching the altar without 
a preparatory period of penance. The opinions of the 
Christians of the first three centuries were usually formed 
without any regard to the necessities of civil or pohtical 
life ; but when the Church obtained an ascendancy, it was 
found necessary speedily to modify them ; and although Lac- 
tantius, in the fourth century, maintained the unlawfulness 
of all bloodshed,^ as strongly as Origen in the third, and 
TertuUian in the second, the common doctrine was simply 
that no priest or bishop must take any part in a capital 
charge. From this exceptional position of the clergy 
they speedily acquired the position of official intercessors 
for criminals, ambassadors of mercy, when, fix)m some 
act of sedition or other cause, their city or neighbourhood 
was menaced with a bloody invasion. The right of sanc- 
tuary, which was before possessed by the Imperial statues 
and by the Pagan temples, was accorded to the Churches. 
During the holy seasons of Lent and Easter, no criminal 
trials could be held, and no criminal could be tortured or 
executed.^ Miracles, it was said, were sometimes wrought 
to attest the innocence of accused or condemned men, 
but were never wrought to consign criminals to execution 
by the civil power.* 

All this had an importance much beyond its imme- 



* See a veij unequivocal passage, Ind, Div. vi. 20. Several earlier 
testimonies on the subject are given by Barbeyrac, Morale des Fh-e$, and in 
many other books. 

* See two laws enacted in a.d. 880 {Cod. Theod. ix. tit. 35, 1. 4) and a.d. 
889 {Cod. Theod, ix. tit 35, 1. 5). Theodosius the Younger made a law (ix. 
tit. 35, 1. 7) excepting the Isaurian robbers from the privileges of these laws. 

^ There are, of course, innumerable miracles punishing guilty men, but 
I know none assisting the civil power in doing so. As an example at the 
miracles in defence of the innocent, I may cite one by St. Macatius. An 
innocent man, accused of a murder; fled to him. He brought both the ac- 
cused and accusers to the tomb of the murdered man^ and asked him whether 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMA.ONE. 43 

diate effect, in tempering the administration of the law. 
It contributed largely to associate in the popular imagi- 
nation the ideas of sanctity and of mercy, and to increase 
the reverence for human hfe. It had also another remark- 
able effect, to which I have adverted in another work. The 
belief that it was wrong for a priest to bring any charge 
that could give rise to a capital sentence, caused the 
leading clergy to shrink from persecuting heresy to death, 
at a time when in all other respects the theory of perse- 
cution had been fully matured. When it was readily 
admitted that heresy was in the highest degree criminal, 
and ought to be made penal, when laws banishing, fining, 
or imprisoning heretics filled the statute-book, and when 
every vestige of religious Uberty was suppressed at the 
instigation of the clergy, these still shrank from the last 
and inevitable step, not because it was an atrocious viola- 
tion of the rights of conscience, but because it was con- 
trary to the ecclesiastical discipUne for a bishop, under 
any circumstances, to countenance bloodshed. It was on 
this ground that St. Augustine, while eagerly advocating 
the persecution of the Donatists, more than once expressed 
a wish that they should not be punished with death, and 
that St. Ambrose, and St. Martin of Tours, who were both 
energetic persecutors, expressed their abhorrence of the 
Spanish bishops, who had caused some Priscillianists to 
be executed. I have elsewhere noticed the odious evasion 
of the later inquisitors, who relegated the execution of 
the sentence to the civil power, with a prayer that the 
heretics should be punished without the * effusion of 
blood,' ^ or, in other words, by the death of fire ; but I 



the prisoner was the murderer. The corpse answered in the negative ; the 
bystanders implored St Macarius to ask it to reveal the real culprit, but 
St Macarius refused to do so. ( VU€B Patrum, lib. ii. cap. zxviii.) 
^ ^ Ut quam dementissime et ultra sanguinis effusionem puniretur.' 



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44 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

may here add, that this hideous mockery is not unique in 
the history of rehgion. Plutarch suggests, that one of the 
reasons for burying unchaste vestals aUve, was that they 
were so sacred that it was unlawful to lay violent hands 
upon them,^ and among the Donatists the Circumcelliones 
were for a time accustomed to abstain, in obedience to 
the evangeUcal command, from the use of the sword, while 
they beat to death those who diflfered from their theolo- 
gical opinions with massive clubs, to which they gave 
the very significant name of Israehtes.^ 

The time came when the Christian priests shed blood 
enough. The extreme scrupulosity, however, which they 
at first displayed, is not only exceedingly curious when 
contrasted with their later history ; it was also, by the 
association of ideas which it promoted, very favourable to 
humanity. It is remarkable, however, that while some of 
the early Fathers were the undoubted precursors of Bec- 
caria, their teaching, imlike that of the philosophers in the 
eighteenth century, had little or no appreciable influence 
in mitigating the severity of the penal code. Indeed, the 
more carefully the Christian legislation of the empire is 
examined, and the more fiilly it is compared with what had 
been done under the influence of Stoicism by the Pagan 
legislators, the more evident, I think, it will appear that 
the golden age of Eoman law was not Christian, but 
Pagan. Great works of codification were accomplished 
under the younger Theodosius, and under Justinian, but 
it was in the reign of Pagan emperors, and especially 
of Hadrian and Alexander Severus, that nearly all die 
most important measures were taken redressing injustice, 

^ QudBst. RomaruBy xcvi. 

2 Tillemont, Mini, cCHist. eccUs, tome vi. pp. 88-98. The Donatists after 
a time, however^ are said to have overcome their scrupleS; and used 
swords. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 45 

elevating oppressed dasses, and making the doctrine of 
the natural equality and jfratemity of mankind the basis 
of legal enactments. Eeceiving the heritage of these 
laws, the Christians no doubt added something ; but a 
careful examination will show that it was surprisingly 
little. In no respect is the greatness of the Stoic philo- 
sophers more conspicuous than in the contrast between 
the gigantic steps of legal reform made in a few years 
under their influence, and the almost insignificant steps 
taken when Christianity had obtained an ascendancy in 
the empire, not to speak of the long period of decrepitude 
that followed. In the way of mitigating the severity of 
punishments, Constantine made, it is true, three important 
laws prohibiting the custom of branding criminals upon 
the face, the condemnation of criminals as gladiators, 
and the continuance of the once degrading but now 
sacred punishment of crucifixion, which had been very 
commonly employed ; but these measures were more 
than counterbalanced by the extreme severity with 
which the Christian emperors punished infanticide, adul- 
tery, seduction, rape, and several other crimes, and the 
number of capital ofiences became considerably greater 
than before.^ The most prominent evidence, indeed, of 
ecclesiastical influence in the Theodosian code, is that 
which must be most lamented. It is in the immense 

^ Under the Christian kings, the barbaiians multiplied the number of 
capital offences, but this hasT usually been regarded as an improvement 
The Abb^ Mably says : ' Quoiqu*il nous reste peu d*ordonnances faites sous 
les premiers M^rovingiens, nous voyons qu'aTant la fin du sixiSme siecle, 
les Francois avoient ddja adopts la doctrine salutaire des Romains au sujet 
de la prescription ; et que renon9ant a cette humanity cruelle qui les eu- 
hardissoit au mal, ils infligdrent peine de mort contre Tinceste, le vol et le 
meurtre qui jusques-la n'avoient 6U punis que par Texil, ou dont on se 
rachetoit par une composition. Les Fran9ois, en r^formant quelques-unes 
de leurs lois civiles, porterent la s^v^rit^ aussi loin que leurs pdres avoient 
pouss^ rindulgence.* — Mably, Observ, sur VHist. des Franqois, liv. i. ch. iii. 
See, too, Gibbon's Decline and Fall, ch. xxxviii. 



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40 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

mass of legislation, intended on tlie one hand to elevate 
the clergy into a separate and sacred caste, and on the 
other to persecute in every form, and with every d^ee 
of violence, all who deviated from the fine line of Catholic 
orthodoxy.^ 

The last consequence of the Christian estimate of 
human life was a very emphatic condemnation of suicide. 
We have already seen that the arguments of the Pagan 
moralists, who were opposed to this act, were of four 
kinds. The religious argument of Pythagoras and Plato 
was, that we are all soldiers of God, placed in an ap- 
pointed post of duty, which it is a rebellion against our 
Maker to desert. The civic argument of Aristotle and the 
Greek legislators was that we owe our services to the 
State, and that therefore voluntarily to abandon life is 
to abandon our duty to our, coimtry. The argument 
which Plutarch and other writers derived from human 
dignity was that true courage is shown in the manful 
endurance of suffering, while suicide, being an act of 
flight, is an act of cowardice, and therefore unworthy of 
man. The mystical or Quietist argument of the Neo- 
platonists was that all perturbation is a pollution of the 
soul ; that the act of suicide is accompanied by and springs 
from pertiurbation, and that therefore the perpetrator ends 
his days by a crime. Of these four arguments, the last 
cannot, I think, be said to have had any place among the 
Christian dissuasives from suicide, and the influence of 
the second was almost imperceptible. The notion of 
patriotism being a moral duty was habitually discouraged 
in the early Church, and it was impossible to urge the 
civic argument against suicide without at the same time 
condemning the hermit life, which in the third century 

^ The whole of the eixth volume of Gh)defiroy*t edition (folio) of the 
Theodosian Code is taken up with laws of these kinds. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 47 

became the ideal of the Church. The duty a man owes 
to his family, which a modem moralist would deem the 
most obvious and perhaps the most conclusive proof of 
the general criminaUty of suicide, and which may be 
said to have replaced the civic argument, was scarcely 
noticed either by the Pagans or the early Christians. The 
first were accustomed to lay so much stress upon the 
authority, that they scarcely recognised the duties of the 
fiather, and the latter were too anxious to attach all their 
ethics to the interests of another world, to do much to sup- 
ply the omission. The Christian estimate of the duty of 
humility, and of the degradation of man, rendered appeals 
to human dignity somewhat uncongenial to the patristic 
writers, yet these writers frequently dilated upon the 
true courage of patience, in language to which their 
own heroism under persecution gave a noble emphasis. 
To the example of Cato they opposed those of Eegulus and 
Job, the courage that endures suffering to the courage 
that confronts death. The Platonic doctrine, that we are 
servants of the Deity, placed upon earth to perform our 
allotted task in His sight, with His assistance, and by His 
will, they continually enforced and most deeply realised ; 
and this doctrine was in itself in most cases a suflScient 
preventive ; for, as a great writer has said, ' Though there 
are many crimes of a deeper dye than suicide, there is 
no other by which men appear so formally to renounce 
the protection of God.' ^ 

But in addition to this general teaching, the Christian 
theologians introduced into the sphere we are considering 
new elements both of terrorism and of persuasion, which 
have had a decisive influence upon the judgments of 
mankind. They carried their doctrine of the sanctity of 

^ Mme. de Staol, B^flexiom sur le Suicide, 

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48 HISTORY OF EUROPEiVN MORALS. 

human life to such a point that they maintained dog- 
matically that a man who destroys his own life has 
committed a crime similar both in kind and magnitude 
to that of an ordinary murderer/ and they at the same 
time gave a new character to death by their doctrines 
concerning its penal nature and concerning the future 
destinies of the soul. On the other hand, the high position 
assigned to resignation in the moral scale, the hope of 
future happiness, which casts a ray of light upon the 
darkest calamities of life, the deeper and more subtle 
consolations arising from the feeling of trust and from the 
outpouring of prayer, and above all, the Christian doctrine 
of the remedial and providential character of suffering, 
have proved suflScient protection against despair. The 
Christian doctrine that pain is a good, had in this respect 
an influence that was never attained by the Pagan doc- 
trine, that pain is not an evil. 

There were, however, two forms of suicide which were 
regarded in the early Church with some tolerance or 
hesitation. During the frenzy excited by persecution, 
and under the influence of the belief that martyrdom 
effaced in a moment the sins of a life, and introduced 
the sufferer at once into celestial joys, it was not un- 
common for men, in a transport of enthusiasm, to rush 
before the Pagan judges, imploring or provoking martyr- 
dom, and some of the ecclesiastical writers have spoken 
of them with considerable admiration,^ though the general 

* The followbg became the theological doctrine on the subject :— ' Eet 
vere homicida et reus homicidii qui se interficiendo innocentem hominem in- 
terfecerit* — Lisle, Du Suicide, p. 400. St. Augustine has much in this strain. 
Lucretia, he says, either consented to the act of Sextius, or she did not 
In the first case she was an adulteress, and should therefore not be admired. 
In the second case she was a murderess, because in killing herself she killed 
an innocent and virtuous woman. (De Civ. Deij i. 19.) 

* Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and Cyprian, are especially ardent in this 
respect; but their language is, I think, in their circumstances, extremely 



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PROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 49 

tone of the patristic writings and the councils of the Church 
condemned them. A more serious difficulty arose about 
Christian women who committed suicide to guard their 
chastity when menaced by the infamous sentences of their 
persecutors, or more frequently by the lust of emperors, 
or by barbarian invaders. St. Pelagia, a girl of only fifteen, 
who has been canonised by the Church, and who was 
warmly eulogised by St. Ambrose and St. Chrysostom, 
having been captured by the soldiery, obtained permission 
to retire to her room for the purpose of robing herself, 
mounted to the roof of the house, and, flinging herself 
down, perished by the fall.^ A Christian lady of Antioch, 
named Donmina, had two daughters renowned alike for 
their beauty and their piety. Being captured during the 
Diocletian persecution, and fearing the loss of their chas- 
tity, they agreed by one bold act to free themselves from 
the danger, and, casting themselves into a river by the 
way, mother and daughters sank unsuUied in the wave.* 
The tyrant Maxentius was fascinated by the beauty of a 
Christian lady, the wife of the Prefect of Eoma Hav- 
ing sought in vain to elude his addresses, having been 
dragged from her house by the minions of the tyrant, 
the faithfiil wife obtained permission, before yielding to 
her master's embraces, to retire for a moment into her 
chamber, and she there, with true Eoman courage, stabbed 
herself to the heart.* Some Protestant controversiahsts 

excusable. Compare Barbeyrac, Morale des Fires, ch. ii. § 8 ; ch. viii. §§ 34- 
39. Doime*8 Biathanatot (ed. 1644), pp. 68-67. CromazianOi Istoria critica 
e JUoioJica dd Smcidio ragumalo (Veneda, 1788), pp. 135-140. The true 
name of the author of this last book (which was first published at Lucca 
in 1761, and is still, perhaps, the best history of suicide) was Buonafede. 
He was a Celestine monk, and died at Rome in 1793. His book on suicide 
was translated into French in 1841. 

^ Ambrose, De Virgmibusj iii. 7. ' Eusebius, Ecdes. Rid. viii. 12. 

* Euselnus, Eccles, Hid, yiii. 14. Bayle, in his article upon Sophroniay 

VOL. II. E 



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5Q HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. ' 

have been scandalised/ and some Catholic controver- 
sialists perplexed, by the undisguised admiration with 
which the early ecclesiastical writers narrate these his- 
tories. To those who have not suflfered theological 
opinions to destroy all their natural sense of nobihty it 
will need no defence. 

This was the only form of avowed suicide which was in 
any degree permitted in the early Church. St. Ambrose 
rather timidly, and St. Jerome more strongly, commended 
it; but at the time when the capture of Eome by the sol- 
diers of Attila made the question one of pressing interest, 
St. Augustine devoted an elaborate examination to the 
subject, and while expressing his pitying admiration for 
the virgin suicides, decidedly condemned their act.* His 
opinion of the absolute sinfulness of suicide has since 
been generally adopted by the CathoUc theologians, who 
pretend that Pelagia and Domnina acted under the im- 
pulse of a special revelation.' At the same time, by a 

appears to be greatlj scandalised at this act, and it seems that among the 
Catholics it is not considered right to admire this poor lady as much as 
her sister suicides. Tillemont remarks, ' Comme on ne voit pas que I'^glise 
romaine Fait jamais honors, nous n'avons pas le mesme droit de justifier 
son action.' — Hist, eccUs. tome v. pp. 404-405. 

* Especially Barheyrac, in his Morale des Fh'es, He was answered by 
-Ceillier, CromazianO| and others. Mathew of Westminster relates of Ebba, 
the abbess of a Yorkshire convent which was besieged by the Danes, that 
she and all the other nuns, to save their chastity, deformed themselves 
by cutting off their noses and upper lips. (a.d. 870.) 

« De Civ, Deif i, 22-27. 

* This had been suggested by St. Augustine. In the case of Pelagia, 
Tillemont finds a strong argument in support of this view in the astounding, 
if not miraculous fact, that having thrown herself from the top of the 
house, she was actually killed by the fall I ' Estant mont^ tout au haut de 
sa maison, fortiB^e par le mouvement que J.-C. forraoit dans son coeur et 
par le courage qu'il luy inspiroit, elle se pr^cipita de Ik du haut en bas, et 
^hapa ainsi a tons les pit^ges de ses ennemis. Son corps en tombant k terre 
frapa^ dit S. Chrysostome, les yeux du d^mon plus vivement qu*un ^lair 
..... Ce qui marque encore que Dieu agissoit en tout ceci c'est 
qu'au lieu que ces chutes ne sont pas toujours mortelles, ou que sou vent 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 61 

glaring though very natural inconsistency, no characters 
were more enthusiastically extolled than those anchorites 
who habitually deprived their bodies of the sustenance 
that was absolutely necessary to health, and thus mani- 
festly abridged their lives. St Jerome has preserved a 
curious illustration of the feeUng with which these slow 
suicides werQ regarded by the outer world, in his account 
of the life and death of a young nun named Blesilla. 
This lady had been guilty of what, according to the reli- 
gious notions of the fourth century, was, at least, the 
frivoUty of marrying, but was left a widow seven months 
after, having thus ' lost at once the crown of virginity and 
the pleasure of marriage.'^ An attack of illness inspired 
her with strong rehgious feelings. At the age of twenty 
she retired to a convent. She attained such a height of 
devotion, that, according to the very characteristic eulogy 
of her biographer, ^she was more sorry for the loss of her 
virginity than for the decease of her husband ;' ^ and a 
long succession of atrocious penances preceded, if they did 
not produce, her death.^ The conviction that she had 
, been killed by fasting, and the spectacle of the uncon- 
trollable grief of her mother, filled the populace with 
indignation, and the funeral was disturbed by tumultuous 
cries, that the ^ accursed race of monks should be ban- 
ished from the city, stoned, or drowned.' * In the Church 
itself, however, we find very few traces of any condem- 

ne brisant que quelques membres, elles n'ostent la vie que longtemps apr^s, 
ni Fun ni Tautre n^arriva en cette rencontre; mais Dieu retira aussitost 
Ykme de la sainie, en sorte que sa mort parut autant Tefiet de la volont<$ 
divine que de sa chute.' — Hisi, eccISs, tome v. pp. 401-402. 

* ^ Et virginitatis coronam et nuptiarum perdidit voluptatem.' — Ep. xxii. 

* ' QuiB enim siccis oculis recordetur viginti annorum adolescentulam tarn 
ardent! fide crucis levasse vexillum ut magis amissam virginitatem quam 
mariti doleret interitum ? ' — Ep, xxxix. 

' For a description of these penances, see Ep, xxxyiii. 

* Ep. xxxix. 

£ 2 



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62 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

nation of the custom of undermining the constitution by 
austerities,^ and if we may believe but a small part of 
what is related of the habits of the early and mediaeval 
monks, great numbers must have thus shortened their 
days. There is a touching story told by St. Bonaventura, 
of St. Francis Assisi, who was one of these victims to asce- 
ticism. As the dying saint sank back exhausted with spit- 
ting blood, he avowed, as he looked upon his emaciated 
body, that 'he had sinned against his brother, the ass;' 
and then the feeling of his mind taking, as was usual with 
him, the form of an hallucination, he imagined that when 
at prayer during the night, he heard a voice saying, 
* Francis, there is no sinner in the world whom, if he be 
converted, God will not pardon ; but he who kills himself 
by hard penances will find no mercy in eternity.' He 
attributed the voice to the devil.* 

Direct and deliberate suicide, which occupies so pro- 
minent a place in the moral history of antiquity, almost 
absolutely disappeared within the Church ; but beyond its 
pale the Gircumcelliones, in the fourth century, constituted 
themselves the apostles of death, and not only carried to • 
the highest point the custom of provoking martyrdom, by 
challenging and insulting the assemblies of the Pagans, 
but even killed themselves in great numbers, imagining, 
it would seem, that this was a form of martyrdom, and 
would secure for them eternal salvation. Assembling in 
hundreds, St Augustine says even in thousands, they 
leaped with paroxysms of frantic joy from the brows of 
overhanging cliffs, till the rocks below were reddened with 
their blood.^ At a much later period, we find among the 

1 St Jerome gave some sensible advice on this point to one of his 
admirers. (Ep, cxxv.) 

« Hase, 8t. Franqois d* Assise, pp. 137-138. St PaleBmon is said to have 
died of his austerities. ( Vit. S. Pachomii.) 

' St. Augustine and St. Optatus have given accounts of these suicides in 
their works against the Donatists. 

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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. ' 53 

Albigenses a practice, known by the name of Endura, 
of accelerating death, in the case of dangerous illness, by- 
fasting, and sometimes by bleeding.^ The wretched Jews, 
stmig to madness by the persecutions of the Catholics, 
furnish the most numerous examples of suicide during the 
middle ages. A multitude perished by their own hands, 
to avoid torture, in France, in 1095 ; five hundred, it is said, 
on a single occasion at York; five himdred in 1320, when 
besieged by the Shepherds. The old Pagan legislation on 
this subject remained unaltered in the Theodosian and Jus- 
tinian codes, but a Council of Aries, in the fifth century, 
having pronounced suicide to be the effect of diabohcal 
inspiration, a Council of Bragues, in the following century, 
ordained that no religious rites should be celebrated at the 
tomb of the culprit, and that no masses should be said for 
his soul ; and these provisions, which were repeated by 
later Councils, were gradually introduced into the laws of 
the barbarians and of Charlemagne. St Lewis originated 
the custom of confiscating the property of the dead man, 
and the corpse was soon subjected to gross and various 
outrages. In some countries it could only be removed 
from the house through a perforation specially made for 
the occasion in the wall ; it was dragged upon a hurdle 
through the streets, hung up with the head downwards, 
and at last thrown into the public sewer, or burnt, or 
buried in the sand below high-water mark, or transfixed 
by a stake on the public highway.* 

» See Todd*8 Uft of St, Patrick, p. 462. 

* The whole history of suicide in the dark ages has been most minutely 
and carefully examined by M. Bourquelot, in a very interesting series of 
memoirs in the third and fourth volume of the BtbUothique de VtlcoU de$ 
Chartes. I am much indebted to these memoirs in the following pages. 
See, too, Lisle, Du Suicide, Staiistique, Midecine, Hixtoire et Ligielation. 
(Paris, 1856.) The ferocious laws here recounted contrast remarkably with 
a law in the Capitularies (lib. vi. lex 70), which provides that though mass 
may not bo celebrated for a suicide^ any private person may^ through charity. 

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64 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

These singularly hideous and at the same time gro- 
tesque customs, and also the extreme injustice of reducing 
to beggary the unhappy relations of the dead, had the 
very natural effect of exciting, in the eighteenth century, 
a strong spirit of reaction. Suicide is indeed one of those 
acts which may be condemned by moralists as a sin, but 
which, in modern times at least, cannot be regarded as 
within the legitimate sphere of law ; for a society which 
accords to its members perfect liberty of emigration, can- 
not reasonably pronounce the simple renunciation of 
life to be an offence against itself. When, however, Bec- 
caria and his followers went further, and maintained that 
the mediaeval laws on the subject were as useless as they 
were revolting, they fell, I think, into a serious error. The 
outrages lavished upon the corpse of the suicide, though 
in the first instance an expression of the popular horror 
of his act, contributed by the associations they formed, to 
strengthen the feehng that produced them, and they were 
also peculiarly fitted to scare the diseased, excited, and 
over sensitive imaginations that are most prone to suicide. 
In the rare occasions when the act was deliberately con- 
templated, the knowledge that religious, legislative, and 
social influences would combine to aggravate to the ut- 
most the agony of the surviving relatives, must have had 
great weight. The activity of the legislature shows the 
continuance of the act ; but we have every reason to be- 
lieve that within the pale of Catholicism it was for 
many centuries extremely rare. It is said to have been 
somewhat prevalent in Spain in the last and most cor- 
rupt period of the Gothic kingdom,^ and many instances 
occurred during a great pestilence which raged in England 

cause prayer to be offered up for his soul. *Quia incomprehensibilia sunt 
judicia Dei, et profunditatem consilii ejus nemo potest investigare.' 

* See the yery interesting work of the Abb^ Bourret, fEcole chardMnne 
de S^vUle sous la nwnqrchie des Visigoths (Paris, 1855), p. 106. 

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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 65 

'during the seventh century/ and also during the Black 
Death of the fourteenth century.^ When the wives of 
priests were separated in vast numbers from their hus- 
bands by Hildebrand, and driven into the world blasted, 
heart-broken, and hopeless, not a few of them shortened 
their agony by suicide.* Among women it was in gene- 
ral especially rare, and a learned historian of suicide has 
even asserted that a Spanish lady, who, being separated 
from her husband, and finding herself unable to resist the 
energy of her passions, killed herself to preserve her 
chastity, is the only instance of female suicide during 
several centuries.^ In the romances of chivalry, however, 
this mode of death is frequently pourtrayed without 
horror,^ and its criminality was discussed at considerable 
length by Abelard and St Thomas Aquinas, while Dante 
has devoted some fine Unes to painting the condition of 
suicides in hell, where they are also frequently represented 
on the bas-reliefs of cathedrals. A melancholy leading 
to desperation, and known to theologians under the name 
of ' acedia,' was not uncommon in monasteries, and most 
of the recorded instances of mediaeval suicides in Catho- 
licism were by monks. The frequent suicides of monks, 
sometimes to escape the world, sometimes through de- 
spair at their inabiUty to quell the propensities of the flesh, 

* Roger of Wendover, A.D. 665. 

* Esquirol, Maladies mentales, tome i. p. 591. 

» Lea'fl Hidory of Sacerdakd Ceiibacy (Philadelphia, 1867), p. 248. 

^ ' Per lo corso di molti secoli abbiamo questo solo suicidio donnesco, e 
buona cosa ^ non ayerne pia d' uno ; perchd io non credo che la impudidzia 
iatesfla aia peggiore di questa disperata castitiL' — Cromaziano, Ist, del JSkd- 
cidio, p. 126. Mariana, whq, under the frock of a Jesuit, bore the heart of 
an ancient Roman, treats the case in a very different manner. ^ Ejus uxor 
Maria Coronelia cum mariti abeentiam non ferret, ne pravis cupiditatibus 
cederet, vitam posuit, ardentem forte libidinem igne extinguens adacto per 
mnliebria titione ; dignam meliori seculo foeminam, insigne studium casti- 
tatb.' — De Bebus HiqHtn, xvi. 17. 

> A number of passages are cited by Bourquelot. 



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66 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

sometimes through insanity produced by their mode of 
life, and by their dread of surrounding daemons, were 
noticed in the early Church,^ and a few examples have 
been gleaned from the mediaeval chronicles * of suicides 
produced by the bitterness of hopeless love, or by the 
derangement that follows extreme austerity. These are, 
however, but few, and it is probable that the monasteries, 
by providing a refuge for the disappointed and the 
broken-hearted, have prevented more suicides than they 
have caused, and that, during the whole period of CathoUc 
ascendancy, the act was more rare than before or after. 
The influence of Catholicism was seconded by Mahommed- 
anism, which on this as on many other points borrowed its 
teaching from the Christian Church, and even intensified 
it; for suicide, which is never expressly condemned in the 
Bible, is more than once forbidden in the Koran, and the 
Christian duty of resignation was exaggerated by the 
Moslem into a complete fatalism. Under the empire of 
CathoHcism and Mahommedanism, suicide, during many 
centuries, almost absolutely ceased in all the civihsed, 
active, and progressive part of mankind. When we recol- 
lect how warmly it was applauded, or how faintly it was 
condemned in the civilisations of Greece and feome ; when 
we remember, too, that there was scarcely a barbarous 
tribe, from Denmark to Spain, who did not habitually 



^ This is noticed by St. Gregory Nazianzen in a little poem which is given 
in Migne's edition of The Cheek Fathers, tome xzxrii. p. 1459. St. Nilus 
and the biographer of St. Pachomins speak of these suicides, and St. Chrys« 
ostom wrote a letter of consolation to a young monk, named Stagirius, 
which is still extant, encouraging him to resbt the temptation. See Neander, 
EoclesiasHeal HUt. vol. iii. pp. 319-320. 

* Bourquelot Finel notices ( TraiiS mSdico-phihsophique sur VAlUnation 
menUde (2nd ed.), pp. 44-46) the numerous cases of insanity stiU produced 
by strong religious feeling, and the history of the movements called ' revi« 
vals, in the present century, supplies much evidence to the same effect. 
Pinel says, religious insanity tends peculiarly to suicide (p. 265). 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNK 57 

practise it,^ we may realise the complete revolution which 
was effected in this sphere by the influence of Christianity. 
A few words may be added on the later phases of this 
moumfiil history. The Eeformation does not seem to 
have had any immediate effect in multiplying suicide, for 
Protestants and CathoUcs held with equal intensity the 
religious sentiments which are most fitted to prevent it, 
and in none of the persecutions was impatience of hfe 
largely displayed. The history at this period passes 
chiefly into the new world, where the unhappy Indians, 
reduced to slavery, and treated with atrocious cruelty by 
their conquerors, killed themselves in great numbers, till 
the Spaniards, it is said, discovered an ingenious method 
of deterring them, by declaring that the master also 
would commit suicide, and would pursue his victims into 
the world of spirits.* In Europe the act was very com- 
mon among the witches, who imderwent all the sufferings 
with none of the consolations of martyrdom. Without 
enthusiasm, without hope, without even the consciousness 
of innocence, decrepit in body, and distracted in mind. 



> OrosiiiB noticeB (Hid, y. 14) that of all the Ghiuls conquered hy Q. 
Marcius there were none who did not prefer death to cdavery. The 
Spaniards were famous for their suicides, to avoid old age as weU as slavery. 
Odin, who, under different names, was the supreme divinitj of most of the 
Northern tribes, is said to have ended his earthly life by suicide. Boadicea, 
the grandest figure of early British history, and Cordeilla, or Cordelia, the 
most pathetic figure of early British romance, were both suicides. (See on 
the fint, Tacitus, Ann, ziy. 35-37, and on the second Geoffrey of Monmouth, 
u. 15— a version from which Shakspeare has considerably diverged, but 
which is faithfully foUowed by Spenser. (Faery Queen, book ii. canto 10.) 

* * In our age, when the Spaniards extended that law which wm made 
only against the cannibals, that they who would not accept Christian religion 
should incur bondage, the Indians in infinite numbers escaped this by kill- 
ing themselves, and never ceased till the Spaniards, by some counterfeit- 
ings, made them think that they also would kill themselves, and follow them 
with the same severity into the next life/ — Donne's Biathanatoe, p. 56 (ed. 
1644). On the evidence of the early travellers on this point, see the essay 
on * England's Forgotten Worthies,* in Mr. Froude's Short Studies, 



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58 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

compelled in this world to endure tortures, before which 
the most impassioned heroism might quail, and doomed, 
as they often beUeved, to eternal damnation in the next, 
they not unfrequently killed themselves in the agony of 
their despair. A French judge named Eemy tells us that 
he knew no less than fifteen witches commit suicide in a 
eingle year.^ In these cases, fear and madness combined 
in urging the victims to the deed. Epidemics of purely 
insane suicide have also not imfi:^quently occurred. Both 
the women of Marseilles and the women of Lyons were 
aflElicted with an epidemic not unhke that which, in 
antiquity, had been noticed among the girls of Miletus.^ 
In that strange mania which raged in the Neapolitan 
districts from the end of the fifteenth to the end of the 
seventeenth century, and which was attributed to the bite 
of the tarantula, the patients thronged in multitudes to- 
wards the sea, and often, as the blue waters opened to 
their view, they chaunted a wild hymn of welcome, and 
rushed with passion into the waves.^ But together with 
these cases, which belong rather to the history of medicine 
than to that of morals, we find many facts exhibiting a 
startling increase of deliberate suicide, and a no less start- 
ling modification of the sentiments with which it was 

^ lisle, pp. 427-434. Sprenger has noticed the same tendency among 
the witches he tried. See Calmeil^ De la Folie (Paris, 1845), tome i. pp. 
161, 803-305. 

' On modem suicides the reader may consult Winslow's Anatomy of 
Stticide; as well as the work of M. Lisle, and also Esquirol, Maladies 
mentales (Paris, 1838), tome i. pp. 526-676. 

' Hecker's Epidemics of the Middle Ages (London, 1844), p. 121. Hecker, 
in his very curious essay on this mania, has preserved a Terse of their 
8ong : — 

' Allu mari mi portati 
Se voleti che mi sanati, 
Allu mari, alia via, 
Cosi m' ama la donna mia, 
Allu mari, allu mari, 
Mentre campo, t' aggio amari.' 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 69 

regarded. The revival of classical learning, and^ the 
growing custom of regarding Greek and Boman heroes 
as ideals, necessarily brought the subject into prominence. 
The Catholic casusists, and at a later period philosophers 
of the school of Grotius and Puffendorf, began to distin- 
guish certain cases of legitimate suicide, such as that com- 
mitted to avoid dishonour or probable sin, or that of the 
soldier who fires a mine, knowing he must inevitably 
perish by the explosion, or that of a condemned person 
who saves himself from torture by anticipating an inevi- 
table fate, or that of a man who offers himself to death 
for his friend.^ The effect of the Pagan examples may 
frequently be detected in the last words or writings of the 
suicides. Philip Strozzi, when accused of the assassination 
of Alexander L of Tuscany, killed himself through fear 
that torture might extort from him revelations injurious 
to his friends, and he left behind him a paper in which, 
among other things, he commended his soul to God, 
with the prayer that if no higher boon could be granted, 
he might at least be permitted to have his place with 
Cato of Utica and the other great suicides of antiquity.^ 
In England, the act appears in the seventeenth and in the 
first half of the eighteenth centuries to have been more 
common than upon the Continent,' and several partial 
or even unqualified apologies for it were written. Sir 
Thomas More, in his * Utopia,' represented the priests and 

magistrates of his ideal repubUc permitting or even 

* 

^ CromazianO; lit, del Suicidto, caps. Till. ix. 

» Ibid., pp. 92-03. 

* Monteequieui and many continental writers, have noticed tliis, and most 
English writers of the eighteenth century seem to admit the charge. There 
do not appear, however, to have been any accurate statistics, and the 
general statements are very nntrustworthy. Suicides were supposed to be 
espedaUy numerous under the depressing influence of English winter fogs. 
The statistics made in the present century prove beyond question that they 
are most numerous in summer. 



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60 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

enjoining those who were afflicted with incurable disease 
to kill themselves, but depriving of burial those who had 
done so without authorisation.^ Dr. Donne, the learned 
and pious Dean of St. Paul's, had in his youth written an 
extremely curious, subtle, and learned, but at the same 
time feeble and involved work, in defence of suicide, 
which on his deathbed he commanded his son neither to 
publish nor destroy, and which his son published in 1644. 
Two or three English suicides left behind them elabo- 
rate defences, as did also a Swede named Eobeck, who 
drowned himself in 1735, and whose treatise, published 
in the following year, acquired considerable celebrity.* 
But the most influential writings about suicide were those 
of the French philosophers and revolutionists. Mon- 
taigne, without discussing its abstract lawfulness, recounts 
with much admiration many of the instances in antiquity.^ 
Montesquieu, in a youthful work, defended it with ar- 
dent enthusiasm.^ Eousseau devoted to the subject two 
letters of a burning and passionate eloquence,^ in the 
first of which he presented with matchless power the 

* Utopioj book ii. ch. vi. 

' A sketch of his life, which was rather curious, is g^ven by Cromaziono, 
pp. 148-151. There is a long note on the early literature in defence of 
suicide, in Dumas, TraiU du Suicide (Amsterdam, 1723), pp. 148-149. 
Dumas was a Protestant minister who wrote against suicide. Amongst 
the English apologists for suicide (which he himself committed) was 
Blount, the translator of the Life of ApoUonius of Tyana, and Creech, an 
editor of Lucretius. Concerning the former there is a note in Bayle*s Diet, 
art. 'ApoUonius.' The latter is noticed by Voltaire in his LeUres phiios. 
He wrote as a memorandum on the margin of his ' Lucretius,* ' N.B. When 
I haye finished my Commentary I must kill myself; * which he accordingly 
did— Voltaire says, to imitate his favourite author. (Voltaire, Diet, /jAi7. 
art ' Caton.*) 

» JEssaia, liv. ii. ch. xiii. * ZeUre$ persaneSj IxxvL 

» JSouveUe HiUnse^ partie iiL let 21-22. Esqmrol gives a curious illus- 
tration of the way the influence of Rousseau penetrated through all classes, 
A little child of thirteen committed suicide, leaving a writing beginning, 
^ Je Idgue mon ame k Rousseau, mon corps k la terre.' — Maladies mmtaleSf 
tome i. p. 588. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 61 

arguments in its favour, while in the second he denounced 
those arguments as sophistical, dilated upon the impiety 
of abandoning the post of duty, and upon the cowardice 
of despair, and with a deep knowledge of the human 
heart revealed the selfishness that lies at the root of most 
suicide, exhorting all who felt impelled to it to set about 
•some work for the good of others, in which they would 
assuredly find relief. Voltaire, in the best known couplet 
he ever wrote, defends the act on occasions of extreme 
necessity.^ Among the atheistical party it was warmly 
eulogised, and Holbach and Deslandes were prominent as 
its defenders. The rapid decomposition of religious 
opinions weakened the popular sense of its enormity, and 
at the same time the himianity of the age, and also a 
clearer sense of the true limits of legislation, produced a 
reaction against the horrible laws on the subject. Grotius 
had defended them. Montesquieu at first denounced them 
with unqualified energy, but in his later years in some 
degree modified his opinions. Beccaria, who was, more 
than any other writer, the representative of the opinions 
of the French school on such matters, condemned them 
partly as unjust to the innocent survivors, partly as in- 
capable of deterring any man who was resolved upon the 
act Even in 1749, in the fuU blaze of the philosophic 
movement, we find a suicide named Portier dragged 
through the streets of Paiis with his face to the ground, 
hung from a gallows by his feet, and then thrown into 
the sewers ; ^ and the laws were not abrogated till the 
Kevolution, which, having founded so many other forms 
of freedom, accorded the liberty of death. Amid the 
dramatic vicissitudes, and the fierce enthusiasm of that 

* In general, however, Voltaire was extremely opposed to the philosophy 
of despair, but he certainly approved of some forms of euicide. See the 
articles ' Caton * and * Suicide/ in his Did. phUos, 

« Lisle, Dti Suicide^ pp. 411-412. 

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62 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. * 

period of convulsions, siiicides immediately multiplied. 
*The world/ it was said, had been * empty since the 
Eomans.'^ For a brief period^ and in this one country, the 
action of Christianity appeared suspended. Men seemed 
to be transported again into the age of Paganism, and 
the suicides, though more theatrical, were perpetrated 
with no less deliberation, and eulogised with no less 
enthusiasm than among the Stoics. But the tide of re- 
volution passed away, and with some qualifications the 
old opinions resumed their authority. The laws against 
suicide were, indeed, for the most part abolished. In 
France and several other lands there exists no legislation 
on the subject. In other countries the law simply enjoins 
burial without rehgious ceremonies. In England, the 
burial in a highway and the mutilation by a stake were 
abolished under George IV. ; but the monstrous injustice 
of confiscating to the Crown the entire property of the 
deliberate suicide still disgraces the statute-book, though 
the force of public opinion and the charitable perjury of 
juries render it inoperative. The common sentiment of 
Christendom has, however, ratified the judgment which 
the Christian teachers pronounced upon the act, though 
it has somewhat modified the severity of the old censure, 
and has abandoned some of the old arguments. It was 
reserved for Madame de Stael, who, in a youthful work 
upon the Passions, had commended suicide, to reconstruct 
this department of ethics, which had been somewhat 
disturbed by the Eevolution, and she did so in a little 
treatise which is a model of calm, candid, and philosophic 
piety. Frankly abandoning the old theological notions 
that the deed was of the nature of murder, that it was the 
worst of crimes, and that it was always, or even gene- 
rally, the ofispring of cowardice; abandoning, too, all 

^ ' Le monde est vide depuis les Romains.' — St.«Jus^ Prock$ de DanUm, 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. m 

attempts to scare men by religious terrorism, she pro- 
ceeded, not so much to meet in detail the isolated argu- 
ments of its defenders, as to sketch the ideal of a truly 
virtuous man, and to show how such a character would 
secure men against all temptation to suicide. In pages of 
the most tender beauty, she traced the influence of suffering 
in softening, purifying, and deepening the character, and 
showed how a frame of habitual and submissive resig- 
nation was not only the highest duty, but also the source 
of the purest consolation, and at the same time the ap- 
pointed condition of moral amelioration. Having examined 
in detail the Biblical aspect of the question, she proceeded 
to show how the true measure of the dignity of man is 
his unselfishness. She contrasted the martyr with the 
suicide — the death which springs from devotion to duty 
with the death that springs from rebellion against cir- 
cumstances. The suicide of Cato, which had been ab- 
surdly denounced by a crowd of ecclesiastics as an act 
of cowardice, and as absurdly alleged by many suicides 
as a justification for flying from pain or poverty, she re- 
presented as an act of martyrdom — a death like that of 
Curtius, accepted nobly for the benefit of Eome. The eye 
of the good man should be for ever fixed upon the inte- 
rest of others. For them he should be prepared to relin- 
quish life with all its blessings. For them he should be 
prepared to tolerate Ufe, even when it seemed to him a 
curse. 

Sentiments of this kind have, through the influence 
of Christianity, thoroughly pervaded European society, 
and suicide, in modem times, is almost always found 
to have sprung either from absolute insanity, from 
diseases which, though not amounting to insanity, are 
yet sufficient to discolour our judgments, or from that 
last excess of sorrow, when resignation and hope are 



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64 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

both extinct. Considering it in this hght, I know 
few things more fitted to qualify the optimism we so 
often hear, than the fact that statistics show it to be 
rapidly increasing, and to be pecuharly characteristic 
of those nations which rank most high in intellectual 
development and in general civihsation.^ In one or 
two countries, strong religious feeling has counter- 
acted the tendency, but the comparison of town and 
country, of different coimtries, of different provinces of 
the same country, and of different periods in history, 
proves conclusively its reality. Many reasons may be 
alleged to explain it. Mental occupations are pecuharly 
fitted to produce insanity,*^ and the blaze of publicity, 
which in modem times encircles an act of suicide, to 
draw weak minds to its imitation. It is probable, too, if 
we put aside the condition of absolutely savage life, a 
highly developed civilisation, while it raises the average 
of well-being, is accompanied by more extreme misery 
and acute sufferings than the simpler stages that had pre- 
ceded it. Nomadic habits, the vast agglomeration of 
men in cities, the pressure of a fierce competition, and the 
sudden fluctuations to which manufactures are pecuharly 
hable, are the conditions of great prosperity, but also tlie 
causes of the most profound misery. Civilisation makes 
many of what once were superfluities, necessaries of 
life, so that their loss inflicts a pang long after their 
possession had ceased to be a pleasure. It also, by 
softening the character, renders it peculiarly sensitive to 

^ This fact has been often noticed. The reader may find many statistics 
on the subject in Lisle, Du Suicide, and Winslow's Anatomy of Smcide, 

' ' There seems good reason to believe, that with the progress of mental 
development through the ages, there is, as in the case with other forms 
of organic development, a correlative degeneration going on, and that an 
increase of insanity is a penalty which an increase of our present civilisa- 
tion necessarily pays.'— Maudsley *s Fhymology of Mind, p. 201. 



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FROar CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 66 

pain, and it brings with it a long train of antipathies, 
passions, and diseased imaginations, which rarely or never 
cross the thoughts or torture the nerves of the simple 
peasant. The advance of religious scepticism, and the 
relaxation of religious discipline, have weakened and 
sometimes destroyed the horror of suicide and the habits 
of self-assertion ; the eager and restless ambition which 
political Uberty, intellectual activity, and manufacturing 
enterprise, all in their different ways, conspire to foster, 
while they are the very principles and conditions of the 
progress of our age, render the virtue of content in all its 
forms extremely rare, and are peculiarly unpropitious to 
the formation of that spirit of humble and submissive re- 
signation which alone can mitigate the agony of hopeless 
suffering. 

From examining the effect of Christianity in promoting 
a sense of the sanctity of human life, we may now 
pass to an adjoining field, and examine its influence in 
promoting a fraternal and philanthropic sentiment among 
mankind. And first of all we may notice its effects upon 
slavery. 

The reader will remember the general position this 
institution occupied in the eyes of the Stoic morahsts, and 
under the legislation which they had in a great measiu-e 
inspired. The legitimacy of slavery was fully recognised ; 
but Seneca and other moralists had asserted, in the very 
strongest terms, the natural equality of mankind, the 
superficial character of the differences between the slave 
and his master, and the duty of the most scrupulous 
humanity to the former. Instances of a very wann 
sympathy between master and slave were of frequent 
occurrence ; but they may unfortunately be paralleled by 
not a few examples of the most atrocious cruelty. To 
guard against such cruelty, a long series of enactments, 

VOL. IL P 

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Oa HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

based avowedly upon the Stoical principle of the essential 
equality of mankind, had been made imder Hadrian, the 
Antonines, and Alexander Severus. Not to recapitulate at 
length what has been mentioned in a former chapter, it is 
sufficient to remind the reader that the right of life and 
death had been definitely withdrawn from the master, 
and that the murder of a slave was stigmatised and 
punished by the law. It had, however, been kid down 
by the great lawyer Paul, that homicide implies an in- 
tention to kill, and that therefore the master was not 
guilty of that crime if his slave died imder chastisement 
which was not administered with this intention. But the 
licence of pimishment which this decision might give 
was checked by laws which forbade excessive cruelty to 
slaves, provided that, when it was proved, they should 
be sold to another master, suppressed the private prisons 
in which they had been immured, and appointed special 
officers to receive their complaints. 

In the field of legislation, for about two hundred years 
after the conversion of Constantine, the progress was 
extremely slight. The Christian emperors, in ad. 319 and 
326, adverted in two elaborate laws to the aibject of the 
murder of slaves,^ but beyond reiterating in very emphatic 
terms the previous enactments, it is not easy to see in 
what way they improved the condition of the class.* 
They provided that any master who applied to his slave 
certain atrocious tortures, that are enumerated, with the 
object of killing him, should be deemed a homicide, but 

1 Cod. Theod, lib. ix. tit 12. 

' Some commentators imagine (see Muratori, Antich, Ital, Diss, xiv.) 
tliat among the Pagans the murder of a man's own slave was only assimi- 
lated to the crime of murdering the slave of another man^ while in the 
Christian law it was defined as homicide, equivalent to the murder of a 
freeman. I confess, however, this point does not appear to me at aU 
clear. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 67 

if the slave died under moderate punishment, or imder 
any punishment not intended to kill him, the master 
should be blameless; no charge what6v«r, it was em- 
phatically said, should be brought against him. It has 
been supposed, though I think without evidence, by 
commentators ^ that this law accorded immunity to the 
master only when the slave perished under the apphcation 
of 'appropriate' or servile punishments— that is to say, 
scourging, irons, or impriscmment ; but the use of torture 
not intended to kill was in no degree restricted, nor is there 
anything in the law to make it appear either that the master 
was liable to punishment, if contrary to his intention his 
slave succumbed beneath torture, or that Constantine pro- 
posed any penalty for excessive cruelty rfiort of death. It 
is perhaps not out of place to remark, that this law was in 
remarkable harmony with the well-known article of the 
Jewish code, which provided that if a dave, wounded to 
death by his master, linger for a day or two, the master 
should not be punished, for the slave was his money.* 

The two features that were most revolting in the slave 
system, as it passed from the Pagan to the Christian em- 
perors, were the absolute want of l^al recognition of 
idave marriage, and the licence for torturing still conceded 
to the master. The Christian emperors before Justinian 
took no serious steps to remedy either of these evils, 
and the measures that were taken against adultery still 
continued inapplicable to slave unions, because *the 
vileness of theu: condition makes them imworthy of the 
observation of the law.'^ The abolition of the pimish- 

1 See Godefroy's Commentary on theee laws. * Exodus xxL 21. 

* 'Quas yUitates vitsB dignas legum obserratlone non oredidit' — Cod. 
Theoi, lib. ix. tit 7. See on this law, Wallon, tome iii. pp. 417, 418. 

Dean Milman observes, ' In the old Roman sodetj in the Eastern em- 
pire this distinction between the marriage of the freeman and the con- 

F 2 

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68 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

ment of crucifixion had, however, a special value to the 
slave class, and a very merciful law of Constantine for- 
bade the separation of the families of the slaves.^ 
Another law, which in its effects was perhaps still more 
important, imparted a sacred character to manumission, 
ordaining that the ceremony should be celebrated in the 
Church,^ and permitted it on Sundays. Some measures 
were also taken, providing for the freedom of the Chris- 
tian slaves of Jewish masters, and, in two or three cases, 
freedom was offered as a bribe to slaves, to induce them 
to inform against criminals. Intermarriage between the 
free and slave classes was still strictly forbidden, and if a 
free woman had improper intercourse with her slave, 
Constantine ordered that the woman should be executed 
and the slave burnt ahve.^ By the Pagan law, the woman 
had been simply reduced to slavery. The laws against 
fugitive slaves were also rendered more severe.* 

This legislation may on the whole be looked upon as a 
progress, but it certainly does not deserve the enthusiasm 
which ecclesiastical writers have sometimes bestowed 
upon it. For about two hundred years, there was an 
almost absolute pause in the legislation on this subject. 
Some slight restrictions were, however, imposed upon the 
use of torture in trials ; some shght additional facilities of 
manumission were given, and some very atrocious enact- 
ments made to prevent slaves accusing their masters. 
According to that of Gratian, any slave who accused his 



eubinage of the slaTe wm long recognised by Christianity itself. These 
unions were not blessed^ as the marriages of their superiors had soon 
begun to be, by the Church. Basil the Macedonian (a.d. 867--886) first 
enacted that the prieistly benediction should hallow the marriage of the 
slave ; but the authority of the emperor was counteracted by the deep- 
rooted prejudices of centuries.* — JETid, ofLaiin Christumitt/f vol. ii. p. 16, 

» Cod. Theod. lib. ii. tit. 25. « Ibid. lib. iv. tit 7. 

» Ibid. lib. ix. tit. 9. * Corpus Juris, vi. 1. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 69 

master of any offence, except Kigh treason, should im- 
mediately be burnt alive, without any investigation of the 
justice of the charge.^ 

Under Justinian, however, new and very important 
measures were taken. In no other sphere were the laws 
of this emperor so indisputably an advance upon those of 
his predecessors. The measures of Justinian may be 
comprised under three heads. In the first place, all the 
restrictions upon enfranchisement which had accumulated 
under the Pagan legislation were abolished ; the legislator 
proclaimed in emphatic language, and by the provisions of 
many laws, his desire to encourage manumission, and free 
scope was thus given to the action of the Church. In 
the second place, the freedmen, or intermediate class be- 
tween the slave and the citizen, were virtually aboUshed, 
all or nearly all the privil^es accorded to the citizen 
being granted to the emancipated slave. This was the 
most important contribution of the Christian emperors to 
that great amalgamation of nations and classes which 
had been advancing since the days of Augustus, and one 
of its effects was, that any person, even of senatorial rank, 
might marry a slave when he had first emancipated her. 
In the third place, a slave was permitted to marry a free 
woman with the authorisation of the master of the former, 
and children born in slavery became the legal heirs of their 
emancipated father. The rape of a slave woman was also in 
this reign punished like that of a free woman, by death.^ 

But, important as were these measures, it is not in the 
field of legislation that we must chiefly look for the in- 
fluence of Christianity upon slavery. This influence was 
indeed very great, "but it is necessary carefully to define 
its nature. The prohibition of all slavery, which was one 

I Cod. Theod. lib. vi. tit. 2. 

' See on all this legislation, Wallon; tome iii. ; Champagnj; Charite 
ch'itietme^ pp. 214-224. 

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70 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

of the peculiarities of the Jewish Essenes, and the ille- 
gitimacy of hereditary slavery, which was one of the spe- 
culations of the Stoic Dion Chrysostom, had no place in 
the ecclesiastical teaching. Slavery was distinctly and 
formally recognised by Christianity/ and no religion ever 
laboured more to encourage a habit of docility and 
passive obedience. Much was indeed said by the Fathers 
about the natural equality of mankind^ about the duty of 
regarding slaves as brothers or companions, and about the 
heinousness of cruelty to them ; but all this had been 
said with at least equal force, though it had not been 
disseminated over an equally wide area, by Seneca and 
Epictetus, and the principle of the original freedom of 
all men was repeatedly averred by the Pagan lawyers. 
The services of Christianity in this sphere were of three 
kinds. It supplied a new order of relations, in which the 
distinction of classes was unknown. It imparted a moral 
dignity to the servile classes, and it gave an imexampled 
impetus to the movement of enfranchisement 

The first of these services was effected by the Church 
ceremonies and the penitential discipline. In these 
spheres, from which the Christian mind derived its ear- 
liest, its deepest, and its most enduring impressions, the 
difference between the master and his slave was unknown. 
They received the sacred elements together, they sat side 
by side at the agape, they mingled in the public prayers. 
In the penal system of the Church, the distinction between 
wrongs done to a freeman, and wrongs done to a slave, 
which lay at the very root of the whole civil legisla- 
tion, was repudiated. At a time when, by the civil law. 



^ It is worthy of notice, too, that the justice of sUvery was frequently 
based by the Fathers, as by modem defenders of slavery, on the curse of 
Ham. See a number of passages noticed by Moehler, Le ChndimMme ei 
VEsdlavage (trad. fran9.), pp. 151-16SL 



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FROM CX)NSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 71 

a master, whose slave died as a consequence of exces- 
sive scourging, was absolutely unpunished, the Council 
of nUberis excluded that master for ever from the com- 
munion.^ The chastity of female slaves, for the pro- 
tection of which the civil law made but little provision, 
was sedulously guarded by the legislation of the Church. 
Slave birth, moreover, was no disqualification for entering 
into the priesthood, and an emancipated slave, regarded 
as the dispenser of spiritual life and death, often saw the 
greatest and the most wealthy kneeling humbly at his 
feet, imploring his absolution or his benediction.^ 

In the next place, Christianity imparted a moral dignity 
to the servile class. It did this not only by associating 
poverty and labour with that monastic hfe which was so 
profoundly revered, but also by introducing new modifi- 
cations into the ideal type of morals. There is no fact 
more prominent in the Eoman writers than the profound 
contempt ivith which they regarded slaves, not so much 
on account of their position, as on account of the cha- 
racter which that position had formed. A servile cha- 
racter was a synonym for vice. Cicero had declared 
that nothing great or noble could exist in a slave, and the 
plays of Plautus exhibit the same estimate in every scene. 
There were, it is true, some exceptions. Epictetus had 

^ The penalty, however, appears to have been reduced to two years* ex- 
clusion from communion. Muratori says, 'In piiL consili si truova de- 
cretato, '' excommunicatione vel pcenitentisa biennii esse subjidendum qui 
servum proprium sine conscientia judicis ocdderit."' — Aniicfu Ital, Diss, 
xiv. 

Besides the works which treat generally of the penitential discipline, 
the reader may consult with fruit Wright's letter On the PMioal Condition 
of the English Peasantry, and Moehler, p. 186. 

« On the great multitude of emancipated slaves who entered, and at one 
time almost monopolised, the ecclesiastical offices, compare Moehler, Le 
Chrietianisme et VEsdavage^ pp. 177-178. Leo the Great tried to prevent 
slaves being raised to the priestly office, because it would degrade the 
latter. 



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72 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

not only been, but had been recognised as one of the 
noblest characters of Eome. The fidelity of slaves to 
their masters had been frequently extolled, and Seneca in 
this, as in other respects, had been the defender of the 
oppressed. Still, there can be no doubt that this contempt 
was general, and also that in the Pagan world it was to 
a great extent just. Every age has its own moral ideal, 
to which all virtuous men aspire. Every sphere of life 
has also a tendency to produce a distinctive type being 
specially favourable to some particular class of virtues, 
and specially unfavourable to others. The popular esti- 
mate, and even the real moral condition, of each class 
depends chiefly upon the degree in which the type of 
character its position naturally developes coincides with 
the ideal type of the age. Now, if we remember that 
magnanimity, self-reUance, dignity, independence, and, in 
a word, elevation of character, constituted the Eoman ideal 
of perfection, it will appear evident that this was pre- 
eminently the type of freemen, and that the condition of 
slavery was in the very highest degree unfavourable to its 
development. Christianity for the first time gave the 
servile virtues the foremost place in the moral type. Hu- 
mility, obedience, gentleness, patience, resignation, are all 
cardinal or rudimentary virtues in the Christian character ; 
they were aU neglected or underrated by the Pagans, they 
can all expand and flourish in a servile position. 

The influence of Christianity upon slavery, by in- 
chning the moral type to the servile classes, though less 
obvious and less discussed than some others, is, I be- 
lieve, in the very highest degree important. There is, 
I imagine, scarcely any other single circumstance that 
exercises so profound an influence upon* the social and 
political relations of a religion, as the class type with 
which it can most readily assimilate ; or, in other words, 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLKMAGNE. 73 

the group or variety of virtues to which it gives the fore- 
most place. The virtues that are most suited to the 
servile position were in general so little honoured by 
antiquity, that they were not even cultivated in their 
appropriate sphere. The aspirations of good men were 
in a different direction. The virtue of the Stoic, which 
rose triumphantly under adversity, nearly always withered 
under degradation. For the first time, under the influence 
of Christianity, a great moral movement passed through 
the servile class. The multitude of slaves who embraced 
the new faith was one of the reproaches of the Pagans, 
and the names of Blandina, Potamiaena, Eutyches, Vic- 
torinus, and Nereus show how fully they shared in the 
sufferings and in the glory of martyrdom.^ The first and 
grandest edifice of Byzantine architecture in Italy — the 
noble church of St. Vital, at Kavenna — was dedicated 
by Justinian to the memory of a martyred slave. 

While Christianity thus broke down the contempt with 
which the master had regarded his slaves, and planted 
among the latter a principle of moral regeneration which 
expanded in no other sphere with an equal perfection, its 
action in procuring the fi-eedom of the slave was unceas- 
ing. The law of Constantine, which placed the ceremony 
under the superintendence of the clergy, and the many 
laws that gave special facilities of manumission to those 
who desired to enter the monasteries or the priesthood, 
symbolised the rehgious character the act had assumed. 
It was celebrated on Church festivals, especially on 
Easter, and although it was not proclaimed a matter of 
duty or necessity, it was always regarded as one of the most 
acceptable modes of expiating past sins. St. Mdlania was 

^ See a most admirable dissertation on this subject in Le Blant, Insenp^ 
Horn chrStMfmen de la Oaule^ tome ii. pp. 284-299 ; Gibbon^s Decline and FaU, 
cb. xxxviii. 



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74 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

said to have emancipated 8,000 slaves, St. Ovidius, a rich 
martyr of Gaul, 5,000, Chromatius, a Eoman prefect under 
Diocletian, 1,400, Hermes, a prefect in the reign of Tra- 
jan, 1,250,^ Pope St. Gregory, and many of the clergy at 
Hippo, under the rule of St. Augustine, and great num- 
bers of private individuals, freed their slaves as an act of 
piety.^ It became customary to do so on occasions of na- 
tional or personal thanskgiving, on recovery from "feick- 
ness, on the birth of a child, at the hour of death, and 
above all, in testamentary bequests.^ Numerous charters 
and epitaphs still record the gift of liberty to slaves 
throughout the middle ages, * for the benefit of the soul ' 
of the donor or testator. In the thirteenth century, 
when there were no slaves to emancipate in France, it was 
usual in many churches to release caged pigeons on the 
ecclesiastical festivals, in memory of the ancient charity, 
and that prisoners might still be freed in the name of 
Christ.* 

Slavery, however, lasted in Europe for about 800 years 
after Constantine, and during the period with which alone 
this volume is concerned, although its character was miti- 
gated, the number of men who were subject to it was pro- 
bably greater than in the Pagan Empire. In the West the 
barbarian conquests modified the conditions of labour in 



* ChampagDj, ChariU chritiefme, p. 210. These numbers are no doubt 
exaggerated ; see Wallon, Hist, de TEsdatage^ tome iiL p. 38. 

* See Schmidt, La SocUU civile dan» le Maude romai$tj pp. 246-248. 

' Muratori has devoted two valuable dissertations (Antich, Ital, xiv. xv.) 
to medinval slavery. 

^ Ozanam's Hi$L of CiviUnOUm in the Fifth Century (Eng. tram.), voL 
ii. p. 48. St. Adelberty Archbishop of Prague at the end of the tenth 
century, was especiaUy famous for his opposition to the slave trade. In 
Sweden, the abolition of slavery in the thirteenth century was avowedly 
accomplished in obedience to Ohristian principles. (Moehler, Le Chriitiat^ 
isme et VEedavage, pp. 194-196 j Ryan's History of the Effede (fUeliyion %ipon 
Mankind, pp. 142-143.) 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 76 

two directions. The cessation of the stream of barbarian 
captives, the empoverishment of great families, who had 
been suiroimded by vast retinues of slaves, the general 
diminution of town life, and the barbarian habits of per- 
sonal independence, checked the old form of slavery, 
while the misery and the precarious condition of the free 
peasants induced them in great numbers to barter their 
liberty for protection to the neighbouring lord.^ In the 
East, the destruction of great fortunes through excessive 
taxation diminished the number of superfluous slaves, 
and the fiscal system of the Byzantine Empire, by 
which agricultural slaves were taxed according to their 
employments,^ as well as the desire of emperors to en- 
courage agriculture, led the legislators to attach the slaves 
permanently to the soil In the course of time, almost 
the entire free peasantry, and the greater number of the 
old slaves, had sunk or risen into the qualified slavery 
called serfdom, which formed the basis of the great 
edifice of feudalism. Towards the end of the eighth 
century, the sale of slaves beyond their native provinces 
was in most countries prohibited.^ The creation of the 
free cities of Italy, the custom of emancipating slaves who 
were enrolled in the army, and economical changes which 
made free labour more profitable than slave labour, con- 
spired with religious motives in effecting the ultimate 
freedom of labour. The practice of manumitting, as an 

^ Salvian, in a famous passage (De QvhematUme Dei, lib. r,)j notices 
the multitudes of poOT who Toluntarily became ' coloni ' for the sake of 
protection and a tiyelihood. The coloni who were attached to the soil 
were much the same as the mediaeval serfs. We have already noticed 
them coming into being apparently when the Roman emperors settled 
barbarian prisoners to culdvate the desert lands of Italy ', and before the 
barbarian inyasions their numbers seem to have much increased. M. Guizot 
has devoted two chapters to this subject {Hid. de la CivOiiaticn m Francey 
vii. viii.) * See Flnlay's Hist, of Greece, voL i. p. 241. 

« Moehler, p. 181. . 



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76 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

act of devotion, continued t6 the end ; but the eccle- 
siastics, probably through the feeling that they had no 
right to alienate corporate property, in which they had 
only a life interest, were among the last to follow'the coun- 
sels they so liberally bestowed upon the laity.^ In the 
twelfth century, however, slaves in Europe were very rare. 
In the fourteenth century, slavery was almost unknown.^ 
Closely connected with the influence of the Church in 
destroying hereditary slavery, was its influence in redeem- 
ing captives from servitude. In no other form of charity 
was its beneficial character more continually and more 
splendidly displayed. During the long and dreary trials 
of the barbarian invasions, when the whole structure of 
society was dislocated, when vast districts and mighty 
cities were in a few months almost depopulated, and 
when the flower of the youth of Italy were mowed down 
by the sword or carried away into captivity, the bishops 
never desisted from their efforts to alleviate the sufferings 
of the prisoners. St. Ambrose, disregarding the outcries of 
the Arians, who denounced his act as atrocious sacrilege, 
sold the rich church ornaments of Milan to rescue some 
captives who had fallen into the hands of the Goths, and 
this practice — which was afterwards formally sanctioned 
by St. Gregory the Great — ^became speedily general. 
When the Eoman army had captured, but refused to sup- 



* * Non v' era anticamente aignor secolare, Tescovo, abbate, capitolo di 
canonid e monastero che non avesse al suo servigio molti servi. Molto 
frequentemente solevano i secolari manometterli. Non cosi le chiese, e i mo- 
nasteri, non per altra cagione, a mio credere; se non perch^ la manumissione 
^ una spezie di alienazione, ed era dai canoni proibito V alienare i beni 
delle chiese.' — Muratori, Dissert, zv. Some CoundlSf howeyer, recognised 
the right of bishops to emancipate church slaves. Moehler, Ze ChrisUamsme 
et rJEscUmtffe, p. 187. Many peasants placed themselves under the do- 
minion of the monks, as being the best masters, and also to obtain the 
benefit of their prayers. 

' Muratori : IIallam*s Middle Jges, ch. ii. part ii. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 77 

port, seven thousand Persian prisoners, Acacius, Bishop 
of Amida, undeterred by the bitter hostility of the 
Persians to Christianity, and declaring that * God had no 
need of plates or dishes,' sold all the rich church orna- 
ments of his diocese, rescued the unbeheving prisoners, 
and sent them back imh armed to their king. During the 
horrors of the Vandal invasion, Deogratias, Bishop of 
Carthage, took a similar step to ransom the Eoraan 
prisoners. St. Augustine, St. Gregory the Great, St 
Caesarius of Aries, St. Exuperius of Toulouse, St Hilary, 
St. Eemi, all melted down or sold their church vases to 
free prisoners. St. Cyprian sent a large sum for the 
same purpose to the Bishop of Nicomedia. St. Epiphanius 
and St. Avitus, in conjunction with a rich Gaulish lady 
named Syagria, are said to have rescued thousands. St. 
Eloi devoted to this object his entire fortune. St. Pauhnus 
of Nola displayed a similar generosity, and the legends 
even assert, though untruly, that he, Uke St. Peter Teleo- 
narius and St. Serapion, having exhausted all other 
forms of charity, as a last gift sold himself for slavery. 
When, long afterwards, the Mahommedan conquests in a 
measure reproduced the calamities of the barbarian in- 
vasions, the same imwearied charity was displayed. The 
Trinitarian monks, founded by John of Matha in the 
twelfth century, were devoted to the release of Christian 
captives, and another society was founded with the same 
object by Peter Nolasco, in the following century.^ 

The different branches of the subject I am examining 
are so closely intertwined, that it is difficult to investigate 
one without in a measure anticipating the others. While 
discussing the influence of the Church in protecting 

* See on this subject^ Ryan, pp. 161-162 ; Oibrario, Economica poUiicm 
del Medio Evo, lib. iii. cap. ii., and especially Le Blant, InacripUoM cht-f' 
tiennet de la Oaule, tome il pp. 284-200. 



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78 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

infancy, in raising the estimate of human life, and in al- 
leviating slavery, I have trenqhed largely upon the last 
application of the doctrine of Christian fraternity I must 
examine — I mean the foundation of diarity. The differ- 
ence between Pagan and Christian societies in this matter 
is very profound ; but a great part of it must be ascribed 
to causes oth^ than religious opinions. Charity finds an 
extended scope for action only where there exists a large 
class of men at once independent and impoverished. In 
the ancient societies slavery in a great measure replaced 
pauperism, and by securing the subsistence of a very large 
proportion of the poor, contracted the sphere of charity. 
And what slavery did at Eome for the very poor, the sys- 
tem of dientage did for those of a somewhat higher rank. 
The existence of these two institutions is suflScient to show 
the injustice of judging the two societies by a ample com- 
parison of their charitable institutions, and we must also 
remember that among the ancients the relief of the in- 
digent was one of the most important functions of the 
State. Not to dwell upon the many measures taken with 
this object in ancient Greece, in considering the condition 
of the Soman poor, we are at once met by the simple 
feet that for several centuries the immense majority of 
these were habitually supported by gratuitous distributions 
of com. In a very eariy period of Eoman history we 
find occasional instances of distribution ; but it was not 
till A.u.c. .630, that Caius Gracchus caused a law to be 
made, supplying the poorer classes with corn at a price 
that was little more than nominal ; and although two 
years after the Patricians succeeded in revoking this law, 
it was after several fluctuations finally re-enacted in a.u.c. 
679. The Cassia-Terentia law, as it was called, from 
the consuls under whom it was at last estabhshed, was 
largely extended in its operation, or, as some think, re- 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 79 

vived from ne^ect in a.u.c. 691, by Cato of XJtica, who 
desired by this means to divert popularity from the cause 
of Caesar, imder whom multitudes of the poor were en- 
rolling themselves. Four years later, Qodius Pulcher, 
abolishing the small payment which had been demanded, 
made the distribution entirely gratuitous. It took place 
once a month, and consisted of five modii^ a head. 
In the time of Julius Cs&sar no less than 320,000 per- 
sons were inscribed as recipients; but Caasar reduced 
the number by one half, tinder Augustus it had risen 
to 200,000. This emperor desired to restrict the distri- 
bution of com to three or four times a year, but, yielding 
to the popular wish, he at last consented that it should 
continue monthly. It soon became the leading fact of 
Boman life. Numerous officers were appointed to provide 
for it. A severe legislation controlled their acts, and, to 
secure a regular and abundant supply of com for the 
capital became the principal object of the provincial go- 
vernors. Under the Antonines the number of the recipients 
had considerably increased, having sometimes, it is said^ 
exceeded 500,000. Septimus Severus added to the com 
a ration of oil. Aiirelian replaced the monthly distribu- 
tion of unground com by a daily distribution of bread, 
and added, moreover, a portion of pork. Gratuitous dis- 
tributions were afterwards extended to Constantinople, 
Alexandria, and Antioch, and were probably not alto- 
gether unknown in smaller towns.^ 

We have already seen that this gratuitous distribu- 

^ About Jths of a bushel. See Hume's Essay on the Populausnesi of An^ 
cimt Nations, 

* The history of these distribulions is traced with admirable learning by 
M. Naudet in his Mimoire sur les Secours publics dans VAntiqtdU (Mim, de 
VAcadSmie des Inscrip, et BeUes-UUreSj tome xiii.), an essay to which I am 
much indebted. See, too, Monnier, Hist, de V Assistance publiqtte ; B. Dumas, 
Des JSecours publics chez les Anciens', and| Schmidt, Essai sur la SocUti civile 
dans le Monde remain et sur sa Transformation par le Christianisme, 

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80 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

tion of com ranked, with the institution of slavery 
and the gladiatorial exhibitions, as one of the chief de- 
moralising influences of the empire. The most inju- 
dicious charity, however pernicious to the classes it is 
intended to relieve, has commonly a beneficial and soften- 
ing influence upon the donor, and through him upon 
society at large. But the Eoman distribution of corn 
being merely a political device, had no humanising in- 
fluence upon the people, while, being regulated simply by 
the indigence, and not at all by the infirmities or character 
of the recipient, it was a direct and overwhelming encou- 
ragement to idleness. With a provision of the necessities 
of life, and with an abundant supply of amusements, the 
poor Eomans readily gave up honourable labour, all trades 
in the city languished, every interruption in the distri- 
bution of com was followed by fearful sufferings, free 
gifts of land were often insufficient to divert the citizens 
to honest labour, and the multiplication of children, which 
rendered the public rehef inadequate, was checked by 
abortion, exposition, or infanticide. 

When we remember that the population of Eome 
probably never exceeded a miUion and a half, that a large 
proportion of indigent were provided for as slaves, and 
that more than 200,000 freemen were habitually sup- 
plied with the first necessary of life, we cannot, I think, 
charge the Pagan society of the metropolis, at least, with 
an excessive parsimony in reUeving poverty. But besides 
the distribution of com, several other measures were 
taken. Salt, which was very largely used by the Eoman 
poor, had during the repubUc been made a monopoly of 
the State, and was sold by it at a price that was little 
more than nominal.^ The distribution of land, which 
was the subject of the agrarian laws, was imder a new 

» livy, ii. 9 J Pliny, Hist. Nat, xxxi. 41. 

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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNR 81 

form practised by Julius Caesar/ Nerva,^ and Septimus 
Severus,^ who bought land to divide it among the poor 
citizens. Large legacies were left to the people by JuUus 
CsBsar, Augustus, and others, and considerable, though 
irregular, donations made on occasions of great rejoicings. 
Numerous pubKc baths were established, to which, when 
they were not absolutely gratuitous, the smallest coin in 
use gave admission, and which were in consequence habi- 
tually employed by the poor. Vespasian instituted, and 
the Antonines extended, a system of popular education, 
and the movement I have already noticed, for the support 
of the children of poor parents, acquired very considerable 
dimensions. The first trace of it at Eome may be found 
under Augustus, who gave money and corn for the sup- 
port of young children, who had previously not been 
included in the public distributions.* This appears, how- 
ever, to have been but an act of isolated benevolence, 
and the honour of. first instituting a systematic effort in 
this direction belongs to Nerva, who enjoined the support 
of poor children, not only in Eome, but in all the cities 
of Italy.^ Trajan greatly extended the system. In his 
reign 5,000 poor children were supported by the Govern- 
ment in Some alone,^ and similar measures, though we 
know not on what scale, were taken in the other Italian 
and even African cities. At the little town of Velleia, 
we find a charity instituted by Trajan, for the partial 

^ Dion Oafisius, xxxviii. 1-7. 

« Xiphilin, Ixviii. 2 ; Pliny, JS^. vii. 31. 

* Spartian. Sqft, Severus. 

^ Suet. Augtut, 41 ; Dion Cassias, li. 21. 

^ 'Afflictos ciyitatis releyayit; paellas paerosqae natos parentibas egestosis 
sumpta pablico per Italic uppida all jassit.' — Sext Aarelius Victor, Epitome j 
* Nerva.' This measure of Nerva, thougli not mentioned by any other 
writer, is confirmed by the evidence of medals. (Naudet, p. 75.) 

• Plin. Ptmegyr, xxvi. xxviiL 

VOL. II. a 



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82 HISTOEY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

support of 270 children.^ Private benevolence followed 
in the same direction, and several inscriptions which still 
remain, though they do not enable us to write its history, 
sufficiently attest its activity. The younger Pliny, be- 
sides warmly encouraging schools, devoted a small pro- 
perty to the support of poor children in his native city of 
Como.^ The name of C»ha Macrina is preserved as the 
foundress of a charity for 100 children at Terracina.^ 
Hadrian increased the supplies of com allotted to these 
charities, and he was also distinguished for his bounty to 
poor women.* Antoninus was accustomed to lend money 
to the poor at four per cent., which was much below the 
normal rate of interest,^ and both he and Marcus Am^eUus 
dedicated to the memory of their wives institutions for 
the support of girls.^ Alexander Severus in like manner 
dedicated an institution for the support of children to the 
memory of his mother.*^ Public hospitals were probably 
unknown before Christianity ; but there were private in- 
firmaries for slaves, and also, it is believed, military hos- 
pitals.^ Provincial towns were occasionally assisted by 
the Government in seasons of great distress, and there 
are some recorded instances of private legacies for their 
benefit.^ 

These various measures are by no means inconsiderable, 
and it is not unreasonable to suppose that many similar 



^ We know of this charity from an extant bronze tablet. See Schmidt, 
£ssai hittorique mr la SocUti romaine, p. 428. 

» Plin. ^. i. 8 ; iv. 13. » Schmidt, p. 428. 

* Spartianus, Hadrian. * Capitolinus, Antonittus, 
« Capitolinus, Anton., Marc. Aurel. ' Lampridius, A, Severus. 

* Seneca (De Ira, lib. 1, cap. 16) speaks of institutions called valetudinaris, 
which most writers think were private infirmaries in rich men*8 houses. 
The opinion that the Romans had public hospitals is maintained in a very 
learned and valuable, but little-known work, called Collections relative to 
the Systematic Heliefofthe Poor. (London, 1816.) 

* See Tacit. Amtal xii. 68; Pliny, y. 7j x. 79. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO OHARLEMAONE. 83 

steps were taken, of which all record has been lost. The 
history of charity presents so few salient features, so 
little th^t can strike the imagination or arrest the at- 
tention, that it is usually almost wholly neglected by 
historians ; and it is easy to conceive what inadequate 
notions of our existing charities could be gleaned from 
the casual allusions in plays or poems, in pohtical his- 
tories or court memoirs* There can, however, be no 
question that neither in practice nor in theory, neither in 
the institutions that were founded nor in the place that 
was assigned to it in the scale of duties, did charity in 
antiquity occupy a position at all comparable to that 
which it has obtained by Christianity. Nearly all relief 
was a State measure, dictated much more by poUcy than 
by benevolence, and the habit of selling young children, 
the innumerable expositions, the readiness of the poor to 
enroll themselves as gladiators, and the frequent famines, 
show how large was the measure of unrelieved distress. 
A very few Pagan examples of charity have, indeed, 
descended to Us. Among the Greeks, Epaniinondas was 
accustomed to ransom captives and collect dowers for 
poor girls ; ^ Cimon, to feed the hungry and clothe the 
naked ; ^ Bias, to purchase, emancipate, and furnish with 
dowers the captive girls of Messina.* Tacitus has de* 
scribed with enthusiasm how, after a catastrophe near 
Eome, the rich threw open their houses and taxed all 
their resources to reUeve the suflTerers.'* There existed, 
too, among the poor, both of Greece and Eome, mutual 
insurance societies, which undertook to provide for their 
sick and infirm members.^ The very frequent reference 

^ Cornelius Nepoa^ EpmnmondoB, cap. 8. 

• Lactantiiis, Div. Inst vi 9. • I^og. Laert. Bias, 

« Tac. Annal, ir. 63. 

^ See Plinj^ £p. x. 94^ and the remarks of Naudet, pp. 38-39. 

o2 

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84 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

to mendicancy in the Latin writers show that beggars, and 
therefore those who relieved beggars, were numerous. 
The duty of hospitality was also strongly gnjoined, 
and was placed under the special protection of the 
supreme Deity. But the active, habitual, and detailed 
charity of private persons, which is so conspicuous a 
feature in all Christian societies, was scarcely known in 
antiquity, and there are not more than two or three 
moraUsts who have even noticed it. Of these, the chief 
rank belongs to Gcero, who devoted two very judicious 
but somewhat cold chapters to the subject. Nothing, he 
said, is more suitable to the nature of man than benefi- 
cence and liberality, but there are many cautions to be 
urged in practising it. We must take care that our 
bounty is a real blessing to the person we relieve ; that it 
does not exceed our own means ; that it is not, as was the 
case with Sylla and Caesar, derived from the spoliation of 
others ; that it springs from the heart and not from os- 
tentation ; that the claims of gratitude are preferred to 
the mere impulses of -compassion, and that due regard is 
paid both to the character and to the wants of the 
recipient.^ 

Christianity for the first time made charity a rudi- 
mentary virtue, giving it the foremost place in the moral 
type, and in the exhortations of its teachers. Besides its 
general influence in stimulating the afiections, it effected a 
complete revolution in this sphere, by representing the 
poor as the special representatives of the Christian 
Founder, and thus making the love of Christ rather than 
the love of man the principle of charity. Even in the 
days of persecution, collections for the rehef of the poor 
were made at the Sunday meetings. The Agapae or 
feasts of love were intended mainly for the poor, and food 

• Df Offlc. I 14-15. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 85 

that was saved by the fasts was devoted to their benefit. 
A vast organisation of charity, presided over by the 
bishops, and actively directed by the deacons, soon ra- 
mified over Christendom, till the bond of charity became 
the bond of miity, and the most distant sections of the 
Christian Church corresponded by the interchange of 
mercy. Long before the era of Constantine, it was ob- 
served that the charities of the Christians were so exten- 
sive — it may, perhaps, be said so excessive — ^that they 
drew very many impostors to the Church,^ and when the 
victory of Christianity was achieved, the enthusiasm for 
charity displayed itself in the erection of numerous in- 
stitutions that were altogether unknown to the Pagan 
world. 

. A Eoman lady, named Fabiola, in the fourth century, 
founded at Eome, as an act of penance, the first public hos- 
pital, and the charity planted by that woman's hand over- 
spread the world, and will alleviate, to the end of time, 
the darkest anguish of humanity. Another hospital was 
soon after founded by St. Pammachus ; another of great 
celebrity by St. Basil, at Caesarea. St. Basil also erected at 
Ca3sarea what was probably the first asylum for lepers. 
Xenodochia, or refuges for strangers, speedily rose, es- 
pecially along the paths of the pilgrims. St. Pammachus 
founded one at Ostia ; Paula and Melania founded others 
at Jerusalem. The Council of Nice ordered that one should 



1 Lucian describes this in Ms famous picture of Peregrinus, and Julian, 
much later, accused the Christians of drawing men into the Church hj their 
charities. Socrates (Hid, EccL yiL 17) tells a story of a Jew who, pre- 
tending to be a conyert to Chrietianitj) had been often baptised in different 
sects, and who had amassed a condderable fortune by the gifts he received 
on those occasions. He was at last miraculously detected by the Novatian 
bishop Paul There are several instances in the Lives of the SaitUe of judg* 
ments falling on those who duped benevolent Christians. 



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86 mSTORT OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

be erected in every city. In the time of St. Chrysostom the 
church of Antfoch supported 8,000 widows and virgins, 
besides strangers and sick. Legacies for the poor became 
common, and it was not unfrequent for men and women 
who desired to Hve a life of pecuhar sanctity, and especially 
for priests who attained the episcopacy, as a first act to 
bestow their entire properties in charity. Even the early 
Oriental monks, who for the most part were extremely 
removed from the active and social virtues, supplied 
many noble examples of charity. St. Ephrem, in a time 
of pestilence, emerged from his solitude to found and 
superintend a hospital at Edessa. A monk named Tha- 
lasius collected blind b^gars in an asylum on the banks 
of the Euphrates. A merchant named ApoUonius founded 
on Mount Nitria a gratuitous dispensary for the monks. 
The monks often assisted by their labours provinces that 
were suffering from pestilence or famine. We may trace 
the remains of the pure socialism that marked the first 
phase of the Christian community in the emphatic lan- 
guage with which some of the Fathers proclaimed charity 
to be a matter not of mercy but of justice, maintaining 
that all property is based on usurpation, that the earth 
by right is common to all men, and that no man can 
claim a superabundant supply of its goods except as an 
administrator for others. A Christian, it was maintained, 
should devote at least one-tenth of his profits to the 
poor.' 

^ See on this subject Clustel, ^iudes hidariques $ur la ChariU (Paris, 
1863) ; Martin Doisy, Hid, de la CharitS pendant Us quatre prefniers Si^dea 
(Paris, 1848) ; Ohampagn j, ChariU ohrHienne ; Tollemer, Origmea de la Cha- 
riU cathokque (Paris, 1868); Ryan, History of the JEfeoCt of JReliffim upon 
Mankmd (Dublin, 1820) ; and tiie works of Bingham and of Care. I am 
also indebted, in this part of mj subject, to Dean Milman's histories, 
Neander's Ecclesiadioal History ^ and Private Life of the Early Christians, 
and to Migne's Encyclop4die. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 87 

The enthusiasm of charity, thus manifested in the 
Church, speedily attracted the attention of the Pagans. 
The ridicide of Lucian, and the vain efforts of Julian, to 
produce a rival system of charity within the limits of 
Paganism,^ emphatically attested both its pre-eminence 
and its catholicity. During the pestilences that desolated 
Carthage in a.d. 326, and Alexandria in the reigns of 
Gallienus and of Maximian, while the Pagans fled panic- 
stricken from the contagion, the Christians extorted the 
admiration of their fellow-countrymen by the courage 
with which they rallied aroimd their bishops, consoled 
the last hours of the sufferers, and buried the abandoned 
dead.^ In the rapid increase of pauperism arising from 
the emancipation of numerous slaves, their charity found 
free scope for action, and its resources were soon taxed 
to the utmost by the horrors of the barbarian invasions. 
The conquest of Africa by Genseric, deprived Italy of the 
supply of com upon which it almost wholly depended, 
arrested tlie gratuitous distribution by which the Eoman 
poor were mainly supported, and produced all over the 
land the most appalling calamities.^ The history of Italy 
became one monotonous tale of famine and pestilence, of 
starving populations and ruined cities. But everywhere 

1 See the famous epistle of Julian to Arsacius, where he declares that it 
is shameful that ' the Galileans should support not onlj their own, but also 
the heathen poor. Sozomen (Hist, eccl, y. 16), and the comments of the 
historian. 

* The conduct of the Christians, on the first of these occasions, is described 
by Pontius, Vit, Cypriani, ix. 19. St. Cyprian organised their efforts. On the 
Alexandrian famines and pestilences, see Eusebius, ff, E, Tii. 22 ; ix. 8. 

' The effects of this conquest have been well described by Sismondi, Hitt, 
de la Chute de V Empire romain, tome i. pp. 258-260. Theodoric afterwards 
made some efforts to re-establish the distribution, but it ncTer regained its 
former proportions. The pictures of the starraticm and depopulation of 
Italy at this time are appalling. Some fearfu facts on the subject are col- 
lected by Gibbon, Decline and FaU, ch. xxxvi. j Chateaubriand, vi"* Disc. 
2*« partie. 



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88 mSTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

amid this chaos of dissolution we may detect the ma- 
jestic form of the Christian priest mediating between the 
hostile forces, straining every nerve to Ughten the calami- 
ties aromid him. When the Imperial city was captured 
and plundered by the hosts of Alaric, a Christian church 
remained a secure sanctuary, which neither the passions 
nor the avarice of the Goths transgressed. When a 
fiercer than Alaric had marked out Rome for his prey, 
the Pope St. Leo, arrayed in his sacerdotal robes, con- 
fronted the victorious Hun, as the ambassador of his 
fellow-countrymen, and Attila, overpowered by religious 
awe, turned aside in his course. When, twelve years 
later, Eome lay at the mercy of Genseric, the same Pope 
interposed with the Vandal conqueror, and obtained fi^om 
him a partial cessation of the massacre. The Archdeacon 
Pelagius interceded with similar humanity and similar 
success, when Eome had been captured by Totila. In 
Gaul, Troyes is said to have been saved fi^om destruction 
by the influence of St Lupus, and Orleans by the in- 
fluence of St. Agnan. In Britain an invasion of the Picts 
was averted by St. Germain of Auxerrois. The relations 
of rulers to their subjects, and of tribunals to the poor, 
were modified by the same intervention. When Antioch 
was threatened with destruction on account of its rebellion 
against Theodosius, the anchorites poured forth from the 
neighbouring deserts to intercede with the ministers of 
the emperor, while the Archbishop Flavian went himself 
as a suppliant to Eome. St. Ambrose imposed pubhc 
penance on Theodosius, on account of the massacre of 
Thessalonica. Synesius excommunicated for his oppres- 
sions a governor named Andronicus, and two French 
Councils, in the sixth century imposed the same penalty 
on all great men who arbitrarily ejected the poor. 
Special laws were found necessary to restrain the turbu- 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 89 

lent charity of some priests and monks, who impeded the 
course of justice, and even snatched criminals from the 
hands of the law.^ St. Abraham, St. Epiphanius, and St. 
Basil are all said to have obtained the remission or reduc- 
tion of oppressive imposts. To provide for the interests of 
widows and orphans was part of the official ecclesiastical 
duty, and a Council of Macon anathematised any ruler 
who brought them to trial without first apprising the 
bishop of the diocese. A Coimcil of Toledo, in the fifth 
century, threatened with excommunication all who robbed 
priests, monks, or poor men, or refused to hsten to their 
expostulations. One of the chief causes of the inordinate 
power acquired by the clergy was their mediatorial office, 
and their gigantic wealth was in a great degree due to the 
legacies of those who regarded them as the trustees of the 
poor. As time rolled on, charity assumed many forms, 
and every monastery became a centre from which it 
radiated. By the monks the nobles were overawed, the 
poor protected, the sick tended, travellers sheltered, 
prisoners ransomed, the remotest spheres of suffering ex- 
plored. During the darkest period of the middle ages, 
monks founded a refuge for pilgrims amid the horrors of 
the Alpine snows. A solitary hermit often planted him- 
self, with his little boat, by a bridgeless stream, and the 
charity of his life was to ferry over the traveller.^ When 
the hideous disease of leprosy extended its ravages 

* Cod, Theod, ix. xl. 16-16. The first of these lawB was made by Iheo- 
dosiua, A.D. 802 ; the second by Honorius, a.d. 808. 

' CibrariOy Economica poUtica del Medio Evo, lib. ii. cap. iii. The most 
remarkable of these saints was St. Julien rilospitalier, who, having under a 
mistake, killed his father and mother, as a penance became a ferryman of 
a great riyer, and, haying embarked on a yery stormy and dangerous night, 
at the yoice of a trayeller in distress, receiyed Christ into his boat. 
FTis story is painted in a window of the thirteenth century, in Rouen 
Cathedral. See Langlois, Ewai hittorique* sur la Pemtwre sur verre, pp. 
82-37. 



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90 mSTORY OF EUROPEAIJ MORALS. 

over Europe, when the mmds of men were filled with 
terror, not only by its loathsomeness and its contagion, 
but also by the notion that it was in a peculiar sense 
supernatural,^ new hospitals and refuges overspread 
Europe, and monks flocked in multitudes to serve in 
them.^ Sometimes, the legends say, the leper's form was 
in a moment transfigured, and he who came to tend the 
most loathsome of mankind received his reward, for he 
found himself in the presence of his Lord. 

There is no fact of which an historian becomes more 
speedily or more painfully conscious than the great differ- 
ence between the importance and the dramatic interest 
of the subjects he treats. Wars or massacres, the horrors 
of martyrdom or the splendours of individual prowess, are 
susceptible of such brilliant colouring, that with but little 
literary skill they can be so pourtrayed that their impor- 
tance is adequately realised, and they. appeal powerfully 
to the emotions of the reader. But this vast and unosten- 
tatious movement of charity, operating in the village 
hamlet and in the lonely hospital, staunching the widow's 
tears and following all the windings of the poor man's 
griefs, presents few features the imagination can grasp, and 
leaves no deep impression upon the mind. The greatest 
things are often those which are most imperfectly realised ; 
and surely no achievements of the Christian Church are 
more truly great than those which it has effected in the 
sphere of charity. For the first time in the history of 
mankind, it has inspired many thousands of men and 
women, at the sacrifice of aU worldly interests, and often 

^ Tlie fact of leprosy bemg taken as the image of sin gave rise to some 
curious notions of its supernatural character, and to many legends of saints 
curing leprosy by baptism. See Maury, L Sffendespieuses du Moym Age, pp. 
64-66. 

* See on these hospitals Cibrario, Eccn. poUHc, M Medio Evo, lib. ill 
cap. ii. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 91 

under circumstances of extreme discomfort or danger, to 
devote their entire lives to the single object of assuaging 
the sufferings of humanity. It has covered the globe 
with countless institutions of mercy, absolutely unknown 
to the whole Pagan world. It has indissolubly united, 
in the minds of men, the idea of supreme goodness with 
that of active and constant benevolence. It has placed 
in every parish a religious minister, who, whatever may 
be his other functions, has at least been officially charged 
with the superintendence of an organisation of charity, 
and who finds in this office one of the most important as 
well as one of the most legitimate sources of his power. 

There are, however, two important quaUfications to 
the admiration with which we regard the history of 
Christian charity — one relating to a particular form of 
suffering, and the other of a more general kind. A 
strong, ill-defined notion of the supernatural character of 
insanity had existed from the earUest times ; but there 
were special circumstances which rendered the action of 
the Church peculiarly unfavourable to those who were 
either predisposed to or afflicted with this calamity. The 
reality, both of witchcraft and diabohcal possession, had 
been distinctly recognised in the Jewish writings. The 
received opinions about eternal torture, and ever-present 
daemons, and the continued strain upon the imagination, 
in dwelling upon an unseen world, were pre-eminently 
fitted to produce madness in those who were at' all 
predisposed to it, and, where insanity had actually ap- 
peared, to determine the form and complexion of the 
hallucinations of the maniac.^ Theology supplying 

^ Calmeil observes, 'On a souTent constats depuis im demi-siMe que la 
folie est sujette a prendre la teinte des croyances religieuses, dee idto phi- 
losophiques ou superstitieuses, des pr^jug^ sociauz qui ont oours, qui sont 
actueUement en vogue parmi les peuples ou les nations ; que cette teinte 
varie dans un mSme pays suivant le caract^re des ^v^nements relatifs k la 



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92 HISTORY OF EUKOPEAN MORALS 

all the images that acted most powerfully upon the 
imagination, most madness, for many centuries, took a 
theological cast. One important department of it appears 
chiefly in the Uves of the saints. Men of lively imagina- 
tions and absolute ignorance, living apart from aU their 
fellows, amid the horrors of a savage wilderness, practis- 
ing austerities by which their physical system was 
thoroughly deranged, and firmly persuaded that innu- 
merable devils were continually hovering about their 
cells and interfering with their devotions, speedily and 
very naturally became subject to constant hallucinations, 
which probably form the nucleus of truth in the legends 
of their Uves. But it was impossible that insanity should 
confine itself to the orthodox forms of celestial visions, 
or of the apparitions and the defeats of devils. Very fre- 
quently it led the unhappy maniac to some delusion, 
which called down upon him the speedy sentence of the 
Church. Sometimes he imagined he was himself identi- 
fied with the objects of his devotion. Thus, in the year 
1300, a beautiful English girl appeared at Milan, who 
imagined herself to be the Holy Ghost, incarnate for the 
redemption of women, and who accordingly was put to 
death.^ In the year 1359, a Spaniard declared himself 
to be the brother of the archangel Michael, and to be 
destined for the place in heaven which Satan had lost ; 
and he added that he was accustomed every day both to 
mount into heaven and descend into hell, that the end 

politique ext^eure, le caract^re des ^y^nements civiles, la nature dea pro- 
ductions litt^raires, des representations th^^trales, suivant la toumurei la 
direction, le genre d'^lan qu'y prennent Tindustrie, les arts et les sciences.' 
De la FoUe, tome i. pp. 122-123. 

* ' Venit de Anglia yirgo decora valde, pariterque facunda, dicens, Spiri- 
tum Sanctum incamatum in redemptionem muUerum, et baptisavit mulieres 
in nomine Patris, Filii et sui. Quae mortua ducta fuit in Mediolanum, ibi et 
cremata.' — Afmale$ DonUnieanorum Colmariensium (in the ^ Rerum.' Ger- 
manic. Scriptores). 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 0S 

of the world was at hand, and that it was reserved for 
him to enter into single combat with Antichrist. The 
poor lunatic fell into the hands of the Archbishop of 
Toledo, and was burnt alive.^ In other cases the hallu- 
cination took the form of an irregular inspiration. On 
this charge, Joan of Arc, and another girl who had been 
fired by her example, and had endeavoured, apparently 
under a genuine hallucination, to follow her career,^ were 
burnt alive. A famous Spanish physician and scholar, 
named Torralba, who lived in the sixteenth century, and 
who imagined that he had an attendant angel continually 
about him, escaped with public penance and confession ; ^ 
but a professor of theology in lima, who laboured under 
the same delusion, and added to it some wild notions 
about his spiritual dignities, was less fortunate. He was 
burnt by the Inquisition of Peru.* Most commonly, 
however, the theological notions about witchcraft either 
produced madness or determined its form, and, through 
the influence of the clergy of the different sections of the 
Christian Church, many thousands of unhappy women, 
who, from their age, their loneliness, and their infirmity, 
were most deserving of pity, were devoted to the hatred 
of mankind, and, having been tortured with horrible and 
ingenious cruelty, were at last burnt ahve. 

The existence, however, of some forms of natural mad- 

^ Martin Goncalez, du dioc^ de Cuenca, disoit qu^il ^toit fr^re de 
rarchange S. Michel, la premiere v^rit^ et Ftehelledu del; que c'^toit pour 
lui que I)ieu r^aervoit la place que Lucifer avoit perdue ; que tous lee jours 
il B^^levoit au plus haut de TEmpir^e et descendoit ensuite au plus profond 
des enfers ; qu*& la fin du monde, qui ^toit proche, il iroit au devant de 
r Antichrist et qu*il le terrasseroit, ayant k sa main la croiz de J^us-Christ 
et sa couronne d'^pines. L'archeveque de TolMe, n'ayant pu conyertir ce 
fanatique obstin^^ ni FempScher de dogmatiser, TaToit enfin liyr^ au bras 
s^culier.'— Touron, Hid, de» Hommes iOustres de Fardre de St, Donn'ntquef 
Paris, 1745 (Vie d'H^mHcus), tome ii. p. 635. 

' Calmeil, De la FoUe, tome L p. 134. ' Ibid, tome i. pp. 242-247. 

* Ibid, tome i. p. 247. 



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U HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

ness was generally admitted ; but the measures for the 
relief of the unhappy victims were very few, and very ill 
judged. Among the ancients, they were brought to the 
temples, and subjected to imposing ceremonies, which 
were believed supernaturally to relieve them, and which 
probably had a f^ourable influence through their action 
upon the imagination. The great Greek physicians had 
devoted considerable attention to this malady, and some 
of their precepts anticipated modem discoveries ; but no 
lunatic asylum appears to have existed in antiquity.^ In 
the first period of the hermit hfe, when many anchorites 
became insane through their penances, a refuge is said to 
have been opened for them at Jerusalem.^ This appears, 
however, to be a solitary instance, arising from the exi- 
gencies of a single class, and no lunatic asylum existed 
in Christian Europe till the fifteenth century. The Ma- 
hommedans, in this form of charity, preceded the Chris- 
tians. A writer of the seventh century notices the 
existence of several of these institutions at Fez, and 
mentions that the patients were restrained by chains.^ 
The asylum of Cairo is said to have been founded in ad. 
1304,* and it is probable that the care of the insane was 
a general form of charity in Mahommedan countries. 
Among the Christians it first appeared in quarters con- 
tiguous to the Mahommedans ; but there is, I think, no 
real evidence that it was derived from Mahommedan 
example. The Knights of Malta were famous as the one 
order who admitted lunatics into their hospitals ; but 
no Chrbtian asylum expressly for their benefit existed 
till 1409. The honour of instituting this form of charity in 
Christendom belongs to Spain. A monk named Juan Gila- 

^ See Esquirol, MaiatUes mentales. 

' Gibbon, Decline and FaUj ch. xxzyii 

* Leo Africanusy quoted by Esquirol. 

^ Desmaisonsy Aeilee ^AUin^ en EepagnCf p. 53. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 96 

berto Joffre, filled with compassion at the sight of the 
maniacs who were hooted by crowds through the streets 
of Valencia, founded an asylum in that city, and his ex- 
ample was speedily followed in other provinces. In a.d. 
1425, an asylum was erected at Saragossa. In a.d. 1436, 
both Seville and Valladolid followed the example, as 
did also Toledo, in a.d. 1483. All these institutions ex- 
isted before a single lunatic asylum had been founded in 
any other part of Christendom.^ Two other very honour- 
able facts may be mentioned, establishing the pre-eminence 
of Spanish charity in this field. . The first is, that the 
oldest lunatic asylum in the metropolis of Catholicism 
was that erected by Spaniards, in ad. 1548.^ The second 
is, that, when at the close of the last century, Pinel began 
his great labours in this sphere, he pronounced Spain to 
be the country in which lunatics were treated with most 
wisdom and most humanity.^ 

In most countries their condition was indeed tnily 
deplorable. While many thousands were burnt as witches, 
those who were recognised as insane were compelled to en- 
dure all the horrors of the harshest imprisonment. Blows, 
bleeding, and chains were their usual treatment, and most 
horrible accounts were given of madmen who had spent 
decades bound in dark cells.* The treatment naturally 
aggravated their malady, and that malady in many cases 
rendered impossible the resignation and ultimate torpor 

' I have taken these fiacts from a yery interesting little work, Deemaisons, 
Des A»ile$ dAlUnis en Espagne ; Recherches historiques et mSdicales (Paris, 
1859). Dr. Desmaisons conjectures that the Spaniards took their asvla 
from the Biahommedans ; but, as it seems to me, he altogether fails to proye 
his point His work, howeyer, contains much curious information on the 
history of lunatic asylums. 

* Amydemus, PUias Banuma (Oxford, 1687), p. 21 ; Desmaisons, p. 108. 
' Pmel, TratU mSdico-phOosoj^ique, pp. 241-242. 

* See the dreadful description in Pinel, Trait4 m^dico-philosophique »tr 
VAliinaHim mentale (2nd ed.), pp. 200-202. 



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96 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

which alleviate the suffering of ordinary prisoners. Not 
until the eighteenth century was the condition of this 
unhappy class seriously improved. The combined pro- 
gress of theological scepticism and scientific knowledge, 
relegated witchcraft to the world of phantoms, and the 
exertions of Morgagni in Italy, of CuUen in Scotland, 
and of Pinel in France, renovated the whole treatment of 
acknowledged lunatics. 

The second qualification to the admiration with which 
we regard the history of Christian charity arises from the 
undoubted fact that a large proportion of charitable 
institutions have directly increased the poverty they were 
intended to relieve. The question of the utility and 
nature of chai'ity is one which, since the modem dis- 
coveries of poUtical economy, has elicited much discussion, 
and in many cases, I think, much exaggeration. What 
political economy has effected on the subject may be 
comprised under two heads. It has elucidated more 
clearly, and in greater detail than had before been done, 
the effect of provident self-interest in determining the 
welfare of societies, and it has established a broad distinc- 
tion between productive and unproductive expenditure. 
It has shown that, where idleness is supported, idleness 
will become common ; that, where systematic pubUc pro- 
vision is made for old age, the parsimony of foresight will 
be neglected ; and that therefore these forms of charity, 
by encouraging habits of idleness and improvidence, 
ultimately increase the wretchedness they were intended - 
to alleviate. It has also shown that, while expenditure 
in amusements or luxury, or others of what are called 
unproductive forms, is undoubtedly beneficial to those 
who provide them, the Iruit peiishesin the usage, while 
the result of productive expenditure, such as that which 
is devoted to the manufacture of machines, or the improve- 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 97 

ment of the soil, or the extension of commercial enter- 
prise, give a new impulse to the creation of wealth ; that 
the first condition of the rapid accumulation of capital is 
the diversion of money from unproductive to productive 
channels, and that the amount of the accumulated capital 
is one of the two r^ulating influences of the wages of the 
laboiU'er. From these positions some persons have in- 
ferred that charity should be condemned as a form of 
unproductive expenditure. But in the first place, all 
charities that foster habits of forethought and develope 
new capacities in the poorer classes, such as popular 
education, or the fonnation of savings banks, or insurance 
companies, or, in many cases, small and discriminating 
loans, or measures directed to the suppression of dissipa- 
tion, are in the strictest sense productive ; and the same 
may be said of many forms of employment, given in 
exceptional crises through charitable motives ; and in the 
next place, it is only necessary to remember that the hap- 
piness of mankind, to which the accumulation of wealth 
should only be regarded as a means, is the real object 
of charity, and it vnll appear that many forms which 
are not strictly productive, in the commercial sense, are in 
the highest d^ee conducive to this end, and have no 
serious counteracting evil. In the alleviation of those 
suflerings that do not spring either from improvidence or 
from vice, the warmest as well as the most enlightened 
charity will find an ample sphere for its exertions.^ 
Blindness, and other exceptional calamities, against the 
effects of which prudence does not and cannot provide. 



^ Malthus, who is sometimes, though most unjustly, described as an 
enemy to all charity, has devoted an admirable chapter (On Population, 
book iv. ch. ix.) to the * direction of our charity ; ' but the fullest examina- 
tion of this subject with which I am acquainted is the very interesting 
work of Duch&tel, Sur la CharitS. 

VOL. II. H 



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98 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

the mifieries resulting from epidemics, from war, from 
famine, from the first sudden collapse of industry, pro- 
duced by new inventions or changes in the channels of 
commerce ; hospitals, which, besides other advantages, are 
the greatest schools of medical science, and withdraw 
from the crowded alley multitudes who would otherwise 
form centres of contagion — ^these, and such as these, will 
long tax to the utmost the generosity of the wealthy ; 
while, even in the spheres upon which the pohtical 
economist looks with the most unfavourable eye, excep- 
tional cases will justify exceptional assistance. The 
charity which is pernicious is commonly not the highest 
but the lowest kind. The rich man, prodigal of mon^, 
which is to him of little value, but altogether incapable 
of devoting any personal attention to the object of his 
alms, often injures society by his donations ; but this is 
rarely the case with that far nobler charity which makes 
men familiar with the haunts of wretchedness, and follows 
the object of its care through all the phases of his life. 
The question of the utility of charity is simply a question 
of ultimate consequences. Political economy has no doubt 
laid down some general rules of great value on the sub- 
ject ; but yet, the pages which Cicero devoted to it nearly 
two thousand years ago might have been written by the 
most enhghtened modem economist; and it will be con- 
tinually found that the Protestant lady, working in her 
parish, by the simple force of common sense and by a 
scrupulous and minute attention to the condition and 
character of those whom she relieves, is imconsciously 
illustrating with perfect accuracy the enlightened charity 
of Malthus. 

But in order that charity should be useful, it is essential 
that the benefit of the sufferer should be a real object 
to the donor ; and a very large proportion of the evils 
that have arisen from Catholic charity may be traced 

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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 90 

to the absence of this condition. The first substitution 
of devotion for philanthropy, as the motive of benevo- 
lence, gave so powerful a stimulus to the affections, 
that it may on the whole be r^arded as a benefit, 
though, by making compassion operate solely through a 
theological medium, it often produced among theologians 
a more than common indifference to the sufferings of all 
who were external to their religious community. But 
the new principle speedily degenerated into a belief in 
the expiatory nature of the gifts. A form of what may 
be termed selfish charity arose, which acquired at last 
gigantic proportions, and exercised a most pernicious 
influence upon Christendom. Men gave money to the 
poor, simply and exclusively for their own spiritual 
benefit, and the welfare of the sufferer was altogether 
foreign to their thoughts.^ 

The evil which thus arose fi:om some forms of catho- 
lic charity, may be trac^ fi-om a very early period, but 
it only acquired its fuU magnitude after some centuries. 
The Eoman system of gratuitous distribution was, in the 
eyes of the political economist, about the worst that could 
be conceived, and the charity of the Church being, in at 
least a measure, discriminating, was at first a very great, 
though even then not an unmingled good. Labour was 
also not unfrequently enjoined as a duty by the Fathers, 
and at a later period the services of the Benedictine monks, 
in destroying by their example the stigma which slavery 
had attached to it, were very great. Still, one of the first 
consequences of the exuberant charity of the Church was 



* Thb is very tersely expressed by a great Protestant writer : ' I give 
no alms to satisfy the hunger of my brother, but to fulfil and accomplish 
the will and command of my God.'— Sir T. Brown^ MeUgio Medici^ part ii. 
§ 2. A saying almost exactly similar is, if I remember right, ascribed to 
St. Elizabeth of Hungary. 

h2 



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100 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

to multiply impostors and mendicants, and the idleness of 
the monks was one of the earliest complaints. Valen- 
tinian made a severe law, condemning robust beggars to 
perpetual slavery. As the monastic system was increased, 
and especially after the mendicant orders had consecrated 
mendicancy, the evil assumed gigantic dimensions. Many 
thousands of strong men, absolutely without private 
means, were in every coimtry withdrawn from produc- 
tive labour, and supported by charily. The notion of the 
meritorious nature of simple almsgiving immeasurably 
multipUed beggars. The stigma, which it is the highest 
interest of society to attach to mendicancy, it became a 
main object of theologians to remove. Saints wandered 
through the world begging money, that they might give 
to beggars, or depriving themselves of their garments, that 
they might clothe the naked, and the result of their 
teaching was speedily apparent In all Catholic countries 
where ecclesiastical influences have, been permitted to 
develope unmolested, the monastic organisations have 
proved a deadly canker, corroding the prosperity of the 
nation. Withdrawing multitudes from all production, 
encouraging a bhnd and pernicious almsgiving, diffusing 
habits of improvidence through the poorer classes, foster- 
ing an ignorant admiration for saintly poverty, and an 
equally ignorant antipathy to the habits and aims of an 
industrial civihsation, they have paralysed all energy and 
proved an insuperable barrier to material progress. The 
poverty they have relieved has been insignificant com- 
pared with the poverty they have caused. In no case 
was the abolition of monasteries effected in a more inde- 
fensible manner than in England ; but the transfer of pro- 
perty that wns once employed, in a great measure in 
charity, to the courtiers of King Henry, was ultimately a 
vast benefit to the English poor ; for no misapplication 



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from: constantine to Charlemagne. loi 

of this property by private persons could produce as much 
evil as an unrestrained monasticism. The value of Catho- 
lic services in alleviating pain and sickness, and the more 
exceptional forms of suffering, can never be overrated. 
The noble heroism of her servants, who have devoted 
themselves to charity, has never been surpassed, and the 
perfection of their organisation has, I think, never been 
equalled; but in the sphere of simple poverty it can 
hardly be doubted that the Catholic Church has created 
more misery than it has cured. 

Still, even in this field, we must not forget the benefits 
resulting, if not to the sufferer, at least to the donor. 
Charitable habits, even when formed in the first instance 
from selfish motives, even when so misdirected as to 
be positively injurious to the recipient, rarely fail to exer- 
cise a softening and purifying influence on the charac- 
ter. All through the darkest period of the middle ages, 
amid ferocity and fanaticism and brutality, we may trace 
the subduing influence of Catholic charity, blending 
strangely with every excess of violence and every out- 
biu^t of persecution. It would be difficult to conceive a 
more frightfiil picture of society than is presented by 
the history of Gr^ory of Tours ; but that long series of 
atrocious crimes, narrated with an almost appalling tran- 
quillity, is continually interspersed with accounts of kings, 
queens, or prelates, who, in the midst of the disorganised 
society, made the relief of the poor the main object of 
their lives. No period of history exhibits a larger amount 
of cruelty, licentiousness, and fanaticism than the Crusades ; 
but side by side with the military enthusiasm, and with 
the almost universal corruption, there expanded a vast 
movement of charity, which covered Christendom with 
hospitals for the reUef of leprosy, and which grappled 
nobly, though ineffectually, with the many forms of 

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102 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

suffering that were generated. St. Peter Nolasco, whose 
great labours in ransoming captive Christians I have 
akeady noticed, was an active participater in the atro- 
cious massacre of the Albigenses,^ Of Shane O'Neale, one 
of the ablest, but also one of the most ferocious Irish 
chieftains who ever defied the English power, it is related, 
amid a crowd of horrible crimes, that, ^ sitting at meat, 
before he put one morsel into his mouth he used to slice 
a portion above the daily alms, and send it to some 
b^gar at his gate, saying it was meet to serve Christ 
first.' « 

The great evils produced by the encouragement of 
mendicants, which have always accompanied the imcon- 
trolled development of Catholicity, have naturally given 
rise to much discussion and legislation. William de St. 
Amour denounced the mendicant orders at Paris in the 
thirteenth century,' and one of the disciples of Wycliffe, 
named Nicholas of Hereford, was conspicuous for his oppo- 
sition to indiscriminate gifts to beggars;* but few measures 
of an extended order appear to have been taken till the 
Beformation.* In England, laws of the most savage cruelty 
were passed, in hopes of eradicating mendicancy. A par- 
liament of Henry VULi., before the suppression of the 
monasteries, issued a law providing a system of organised 

1 See Butler's Lives of the Samte. 

^ Campion*8 Historie of IreUmd, book ii. chap. x. 

* Fleorj, Sid. ecd. lib. Ixxxir. 57. It does not appear, however, tiiat 
the indiscriminate charity they encouraged had any part in his inrectiTe. 
He wrote his JBerils of the Last Times in the interest of the Uniyersity of 
Paris, of which he was a Professor, and which was at war with the men- 
dicant orders. See Milman*8 LtUin CkrisHanity, toL tL pp. 848-356. 

* Henry de Knyghton, De JSventHms Anglia. 

* There was some severe legislation in England on the subject after the 
Black Death. £den*8 History of the Working Classes^ vol. i. p. 84. In 
France, too, a royal ordinance of 1360 ordered men who had been con- 
victed of begging three times to be branded with a hot iron. Monteil, 
Hist, des Francis, tome i. p. 434. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. lOS 

charity, and imposing on anyone who gave anything to 
a beggar a fine of ten times the value of his gift. A 
sturdy beggar was to be punished with whipping for the 
first offence, with whipping and the loss of the tip of his 
ear for the second, and with death for the third.^ Under 
Edward VI,, an atrocious law, which, however, wa« re- 
pealed in the same reign, enacted that every sturdy 
beggar who refused to work should be branded, and 
adjudged for two years as a slave to the person who gave 
information against him; and if he took flight during his 
period of servitude, for the first offence he was condenmed 
to perpetual slavery, and for the sec<Hid to death. The 
master was authorised to put a ring of iron round the 
neck of his slave, to chain him and to scourge him. Any- 
one might take the children of a sturdy beggar for 
apprentices, till the boya were twenty-four and the girls 
twenty.* Another kw, made under Elizabeth, punished 
with death any strong man under the age of eighteen 
who was convicted for the third time of b^ging ; but the 
penalty in this reign was afterwards reduced to a life-long 
service in the galleys, or to banishment, with a penalty of 
death to the returned convict.* Under the same queen 
the poor-law system was elaborated, and Malthus long 
afterwards showed that its effects in discouraging par- 
simony rendered it scarcely less pernicious than the 
monastic system that had preceded it. In many CathoUc 
countries, severe, though less atrocious measures, were 
taken to grapple with the evil of mendicancy. Th^t 
shrewd and sagacious pontiff, Sixtus V., who, though not 
the greatest man, was by far the greatest statesman who 
has ever sat on the papal throne, made praiseworthy efforts 
to check it at Eome, where ecclesiastical influence had 

» Eden, vol. i. pp. 83-87. « Ibid. pp. lOl-lOS. 

» Ibid. pp. 127-130. 



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104 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

always made it peculiarly prevalent.^ Charles V., in 
1531, issued a severe enactment against beggars in the 
Netherlands, but excepted from its operation mendicant 
friars and pilgrims.^ Under Lewis XIV., equally severe 
measures were taken in France, But though the practical 
evil was ftiUy felt, there was little or no philosophical in- 
vestigation of its causes before the eighteenth century. 
Locke in England,® and Berkeley in Ireland,* briefly 
glanced at the subject, and in 1704 Defoe published a 
very remarkable tract, called, ' Giving Alms no Charity,' 
in which he noticed the extent to which mendicancy 
existed in England, though wages were higher than in 
any continental country.^ A still more remarkable book, 
written by an author named Kicd, appeared at Modena 
in 1787, and excited considerable attention. The author 
pointed out with much force the gigantic development of 
mendicancy in Italy, traced it to the excessive charity of 
the people, and appears to have regarded as an evil all 
charity which sprang from rehgious motives, and was 
greater than would spring from the unaided instincts of 
men.^ The freethinker Mandeville assailed charity schools, 

* Morighim, IndkuUcnB piemes de Borne, 

« Eden, Hist, of the Labcurmg Classes, voL L p. 83. 

* Locke discussed the great increase of poverty, and a biU was brought 
in suggesting some remedies, but did not pass. (Eden, toL i. pp. 243-248.) 

^ In a very forcible letter addressed to the Irish Catholic cleigy. 

* This tract, which is extremely valuable for the light it throws upon 
the social condition of England at the time, was written in opposition to a 
Bill providing that the poor in the poor-houses should do wool, hemp, iron, 
and other works. Defoe says that wages in England were higher than 
anywhere on the Continent, though the amoimt of mendicancy was enor- 
mous. ^The reason why so many pretend to want work is, that they 
can live so well with the pretence of wanting work. ... I affirm of my 
own knowledge, when I have wanted a man for labouring work, and offered 
nine shillings per week to strolling fellows at my door, they have frequently 
told me to my face they could get more arbegging.' 

' Heforma degF Instituti pit di Modena (published first anonymously at 
Modena). It has been reprinted in the library of the Italian economists. 



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FROM C0N8TANTINE TO CHARLEMAQNE. 106 

and the whole system of endeavouring to elevate the 
poor/ and Magdalen asylums and foundling hospitals 
have had fierce, though I believe much mistaken, adver- 
sarie8.2 The reforms of the poor-laws, and the writings of 
Malthus,gave a new impulse to discussion on the subject; 
but with the qualifications I have stated, no new dis- 
coveries have, I conceive, thrown any just cloud upon 
Christian charity ; and though its administration is often 
extremely injudicious, the principles that regulate it, in 
Protestant countries at least, require but httle reform. 

The last method by which Christianity has laboured to 
soften the characters of men has been by accustoming the 
imagination to expatiate cx)ntinually upon images of ten- 
derness and of pathos. Our imaginations, though less 
influential than our occupations, probably affect our moral 
characters more deeply than our judgments, and, in 
the case of the poorer classes especially, the cultivation 
of this part of our nature is of. inestimable importance. 
Booted, for the most part, during their entire lives, to a 
single spot, excluded by their ignorance and their circum- 
stances fi:om most of the varieties of interest that animate 
the minds of other men, condemned to constant and plod- 
ding labour, and engrossed for ever with the minute cares 
of an immediate and an anxious present, their whole 
natures would have been hopelessly contracted, were 



^ JSuoy on CkarUy Schools, 

* Magdalen Asylums have been very vehemently assailed by M. Charles 
Comte, in his TraiU de LSgislatum, On the subject of Foundling Hospitab 
there is a whole literature. They were vehemently attacked by, I believe, 
Lord Brougham, in the Edinburgh Iteview, in the early part of this century. 
Writers of this stamp, and indeed most political economists, greatly exagge- 
rate the forethought of men and women, especially in matters where the 
passions are concerned. It may be questioned whether one woman in a 
hundred, who plunges into a career of vice, is in the smallest degree influ- 
enced by a consideration of whether or not charitable institutions are pro- 
vided for the support of aged penitents. 



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100 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

there no sphere in which their imaginations could expand. 
Eeligion is the one romance of the poor. It alone extends 
the narrow horizon of their thoughts, supplies the images 
of their dreams, allures them to the supersensual and the 
ideal. The graceful beings with which the creative fancy 
of Paganism peopled the universe shed a poetic glow on 
the peasants' toil. Every stage of agriculture was pre- 
sided over by a divinity, and the world grew bright by 
the companionship of the gods. But it is the peculiarity 
of the Christian types, that while they have fascinated 
the imagination, they have also purified the heart. The 
tender, winning, and almost feminine beauty of the 
Christian Founder, the Virgin mother, the agonies of Gteth- 
semane or of Calvary, the many scenes of compassion 
and sufiering that fill the sacred writings, are the pictures 
which, for eighteen hundred years, have governed the 
imaginations of the rudest and most ignorant of mankind. 
Associated with the fondest recollections of childhood, 
with the music of the church bells, with the clustered 
hghts and the tinsel splendour, that seem to the peasant 
the very ideal of majesty ; painted over the altar where he 
received the companion of his life, around the cemetery 
where so many whom he had loved were laid, on the 
stations of the mountain, on the portal of the vineyard, 
on the chapel where the storm-tossed mariner fulfils his 
grateful vow ; keeping guard over his cottage door, and 
looking down upon his humble bed, forms of tender 
beauty and gentle pathos for ever haunt the poor man's 
fancy, and silently win their way into the very depths of 
his being. More than any spoken eloquence, more than 
any dogmatic teaching, they transform and subdue his 
character, till he learns to realise the sanctity of weakness 
and suffering, the supreme majesty of compassion and 
gentleness. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 107 

Imperfect and inadequate as is the sketch I have 
drawn, it will be sufficient to show how great and multi- 
form have been the influences of Christian philanthropy. 
The shadows that rest upon the picture I have not con- 
cealed; but when all due allowance has been made for 
them, enough will remain to claim oiur deepest admiration. 
The high conception that has been formed of the sanctity 
of human life, the protection of infancy, the elevation 
and final emancipation of the slave classes, the suppression 
of barbarous games, the creation of a vast and multifarious 
organisation of charity, and the education of the imagi- 
nation by the Christian type, constitute together a move- 
ment of philanthropy which has never been paralleled 
or approached in the Pagan world. The effects of this 
movement in promoting happiness have been very great. 
Its efiect in determining character has probably been still 
greater. In that proportion or disposition of qualities 
which constitutes the ideal character, the gentler and 
more benevolent virtues have obtained, through Chris- 
tianity, the foremost place. In the first and purest period 
they were especially supreme, but in Uie third century a 
great ascetic movement arose, which gradually brought a 
new type of character into the ascendant, and diverted 
the enthusiasm of the Church into new channels. 

TertuUian, writing in the second century, in a passage 
which has been very frequentiy quoted, contrasts the 
Christians of his day with the gymnosophists or hermits 
of India, declaring that, unlike these, the Christians did 
not fly from the world, but mixed with the Pagans in the 
forum, in the market-places, in the public baths, in the 
ordinary business of life.^ But although the life of the 

> ApoL ch. zliL 

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108 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORAI^. 

hermit or the monk was unknown in the Church for more 
than two hundred years after its foundation, we may detect, 
almost from the earliest time, a tone of feeling which pro- 
duces it. The central conceptions of the monaBtic system 
are the meritoriousness of complete abstinence from all 
sexual intercourse, and of complete renunciation of the 
world. The first of these notions appeared in the very 
earUest period, in the respect attached to the condition of 
virginity, which was always regarded as sacred, and es- 
pecially esteemed in the clergy, though for a long time 
it was not imposed as an obligation. The second was 
shown in the numerous efibrts that were made to separate 
the Christian community as far as possible fix)m tlie 
society in which it existed. Nothing could be more 
natural than that, when the increase and afterwards the 
triumph of the Church had thrown the bulk of the 
Christians into active political or military labour, some 
should, as an exercise of piety, have endeavoured to 
imitate the separation from the world which was once 
the common condition of all. Besides this, a movement 
of asceticism had long been raging like a mental epidemic 
through the world. Among the Jews — whose law, fit>m 
the great stress it laid upon marriage, the excellence of 
the rapid multiplication of population, and the hope of 
being the ancestor of the Messiah, was pecuharly repug- 
nant to monastic conceptions — ^the Essenes had consti- 
tuted a complete monastic society, abstaining from 
marriage and separating themselves wholly from the 
world. In Home, whose practical genius was, if possible, 
even more opposed than that of the Jews to an inactiye 
monasticism, and even among those philosophers who 
most represented its active and practical spirit, the same 
tendency was shown. The Cynics of the later empire 
recommended a complete renunciation of civic and do- 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 109 

mestic ties, and a life spent wholly in the contemplation 
of wisdom. The Egyptian philosophy, that soon after 
acquired an ascendency in Europe, anticipated still more 
closely the monastic ideal On the outskirts of the 
Church, the many sects of Gnostics and Manicheans all 
held under different forms the essential evil of matter. 
The Docetae, following the same notion, denied the reality 
of the body of Christ. The Montanists and the Novatians 
surpassed and stimulated the private penances of the 
orthodox.^ The soil was thus thoroughly prepared for a 
great outburst of asceticism, whenever the first seed was 
sown. This was done during the Decian persecution. 
Paul, the hermit, who fled to the desert during that per- 
secution, is said to have been the first of the tribe.^ 
Antony, who speedily followed, greatly extended the 
movement, and in a few years the hermits had become a 
mighty nation. Persecution, which in the first instance 
drove great numbers as fugitives to the deserts, soon 
aroused a passionate rehgious enthusiasm that showed 
itself in an ardent desire for those sufferings which were 
beUeved to lead directly to heaven, and this enthusiasm, 
after the peace of Constantine, found its natural vent and 
sphere in the macerations of the desert life. The imagina- 
tions of men were fascinated by the poetic circumstances 
of that Ufe which St. Jerome most eloquently embellished. 
Women were pre-eminent in recruiting for it. The same 

^ On tbeae penances, see Bingham, AnHq, book yii. Bingham, I think, 
justly divides the history of asceticism into three periods. During the 
first, which extends from the foundation of the Church to a.d. 250, there 
were men and women who, with a yiew of spiritual perfection, abstained 
from marriage, relinquished amusements, accustomed themselves to severe 
fasts, and gave up their property to works of charity ; but did this in the 
middle of society and without leading the life of either a hermit or a monk. 
During the second period, which extended from the Decian persecution, 
anchorites were numerous, but the custom of a common or cosDobitic life 
was unknown. It was originated in the time of Constantine by Pachomius. 

■ This is expressly stated by St. Jerome ( Vit, Pmdi), 



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110 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

spirit that had formerly led the wife of the Pagan official 
to entertain secret relations with the Christian priests, 
now led the wife of the Christian to become the active 
agent of the monks. While the father designed his son 
for the army, or for some civil post, the mother was often 
straining every nerve to induce him to become a hermit ; 
the monks secretly corresponded with her, they skilfully 
assumed the functions of education, in order that they 
might influence the young ; and sometimes, to evade the 
precautions or the anger of the father, they concealed 
their profession, and assumed the garb of lay pedagogues.^ 
The pulpit, which had almost superseded, and immea- 
surably transcended in influence, the chairs of the rheto- 
ricians, and which was filled by such men as Ambrose, 
Augustine, Chrysostom, Basil, and the Gregories, was 
continually exerted in the same cause, and the extreme 
luxury of the great cities produced a violent, but not 
unnatural, reaction of asceticism. The dignity of the 
monastic position, which sometimes brought men who 
had been simple peasants into connection with the empe- 
rors, the security it furnished to fugitive slaves and cri- 
minals, the desire of escaping from those fiscal burdens 
which, in the corrupt and oppressive administration of the 
empire, had acquired an intolerable weight, and espe- 
cially the barbarian invasions, which produced every 
variety of panic and wretchedness, conspired with the 
new religious teaching in peopling the desert. A theology 
of asceticism was speedily formed. The examples of 
Elijah and Elisha, to the first of whom, by a bold flight 
of the imagination, some later CarmeUtes ascribed the 
origin of their order, and the more recent instance of the 

* See on this subject some curious eyidence in Neander's Life of Ckry^ 
Bosiom, St. Chrysostom wrote a long work to console fathen whose sons 
were thus seduced to the desert. 



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FROM OONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. Ill 

Baptist were at once adduced. To an ordinary layman 
the life of the anchorite might appear in the highest 
degree opposed to that of the Teacher who began His 
mission in a marriage feast ; who was continually re- 
proached by His enemies for the readiness with which 
He mixed with the world, and who selected from the 
female sex some of His purest and most devoted fol- 
lowers ; but the monkish theologians avoiding, for the 
most part, these topics, dilated chiefly on His immaculate 
birth. His virgin mother, His life of celibacy. His ex- 
hortation to the rich young man. The fact that St Peter, 
to whom a general primacy was already ascribed, was 
unquestionably married, was a difiiculty which was in a 
measure met by a tradition that he, as well as the other 
married apostles, abstained from intercourse with their 
wives after their conversion.* St. Paul, however, was 
probably unmarried, and his writings showed a decided 
preference for the unmarried state, which the ingenuity 
of theologians also discovered in some quarters where it 
might be least expected. Thus, St, Jerome assures us 
that when the clean animals entered the ark by sevens, 
and the unclean ones by pairs, the odd number typified 
the ceUbate, and the even the married condition. Even 
of the unclean animals but one pair of each kind was 
admitted, lest they should perpetrate the enormity of 
second marriage.^ Ecclesiastical tradition sustained the 
tendency, and the apostle James, as he has been portrayed 
by H^esippus, became a kind of ideal saint, a faithful 
picture of what, according to the notions of theologians, 
was the true type of human nobiUty. He * was converted,* 
it was said, * from his mother's womb.' He drank neither 
wine nor fermented liquors, and abstained from animal 

* On this tradition 8e« Champagny, Les ArUonim, tome i. p. 103. 
' Ep, czxiii. 



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112 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

food. A razor never came upon his head. He never 
anointed with oil, or used a bath. He alone was allowed 
to enter the sanctuary. He never wore woollen, but linen 
garments. He was in the habit of entering the temple 
alone, and was often found upon his bended knees, and 
interceding for the forgiveness of the people, so that his 
knees became as hard as a camel's.^ 

The progress of the monastic movement, as has been 
truly said, * was not less rapid or universal than that of 
Christianity itself^ Of the actual number of the anchorites, 
those who are acquainted with the extreme unveracity 
of the first historians of the movement will hesitate to 
speak with confidence. It is said that St. Pachomius, who 
early in the fourth century founded the coenobitic mode 
of life, enUsted under his jurisdiction 7,000 monks ; ^ that 
in the days of St. Jerome nearly 50,000 monks were 
sometimes assembled at the Easter festivals ;* that in the 
desert of Nitria alone there were, in the fourth century, 
5,000 monks under a single abbot ; ^ that an Egyptian 
city named Oxyrinchus devoted itself almost exclusively 
to the ascetic Ufe, and included 20,000 virgins and 10,000 
monks ;^ that St. Serapion presided over 10,000 monks,^ 
and that, towards the close of the fourth century, the 
monastic population in that country was nearly equal to 
the population of the cities.^ Egypt was the parent of 
monachism, and it was there that it attained both its 
extreme development and its most austere severity ; but 
there was very soon scarcely any Christian country in 

1 Euseb. Bed, Hist. ii. 23. 

« Gibbon, Dedme and FaU, cb. xxxvii. ; a brief but masterly sketch of 
the progress of the movement. 
' Polladius, Hist, Laus. xxxviii. 

* Jerome, Preface to the Rule of St. Pachomius, § 7. 

* Cassian, De Cosnob. Inst, iv. 1. 

« Rufinus, Hist. Monach. ch. v. Rufinus visited it himself. 

' Palladius, Hist, Laus, Ixxvi. ® Rufinus, Hist, Man, vii. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 113 

which a similar movement was not ardently propagated, 
St. Athanasius and St. Zeno are said to have introduced it 
into Italy/ where it soon afterwards received a great stim- 
ulus from St. Jerome. St. Hilarion instituted the first 
monks in Palestine, and he lived to see many thousands 
subject to his rule, and towards the close of his life to 
plant monachism in Cyprus. Eustathius, Bishop of 
Sebastia, spread it through Armenia, Paphlagonia, and 
Pontus. St. Basil laboured along the wild shores of the 
Euxine. St. Martin of Tours founded the first monastery 
in Gaul, and 2,000 monks attended his funeral. Unre- 
corded missionaries planted the new institution in the 
heart of -Ethiopia, amid the little islands that stud the 
Mediterranean, in the secluded valleys of Wales and 
Ireland.* But even more wonderful than the many 
thousands who thus abandoned the world, is the reverence 
with which they were regarded by those who, by their 
attainments or their character, would seem most opposed 
to the monastic ideal. No one had more reason than 
Augustine to know the danger of enforced ceUbacy, but 
St. Augustine exerted all his energies to spread monasticism 
through his diocese. St. Ambrose, who was by nature 
an acute statesman ; St. Jerome and St. Basil, who were 
ambitious scholars ; St. Chrysostom, who was pre-emi- 
nently formed to sway the refined throngs of a metro- 
polis, all exerted their powers in favour of the life of 

* There is a good deal of doubt and controversy about this. See a note 
in Mosheim's JEccl, Hut. (Soame's edition)^ vol. i. p. 354. 

' Most of the passages remaining on the subject of the foundation of 
monachism are given by ThomassiUi Discipline de FJ^glise, part i. livre iii. 
ch. xii. This work contains also much general information about mona- 
chism. A curious collection of statistics of the numbers of the monks in 
different localities, additional to those I have given and gleaned from the 
Lives of the SattUSf may be found in Pitra ( Vie de S. Ugety Introd. p. lix.) ; 
2,100, or, according to another account, 3,000 monks, lived in the monastery 
of Banchor. 

VOL. II. I 



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114 HISTORY OP EUROPEAN MORALS. 

solitude, and the three last practised it themselves. St. 
Arsenius, who was surpassed by no one in the extrava- 
gance of his penances, had held a high office at the court 
of the Emperor Arcadius. Pilgrims wandered among 
the deserts, collecting accounts of the miracles and the 
austerities of the saints, which filled Christendom with 
admiration ; and the strange biographies which were thus 
formed, wild and grotesque as they are, enable us to 
realise very vividly the general features of the anchorite 
Ufe, which became the new ideal of the Christian world. ^ 
There is, perhaps, no phase in the moral history of 
mankind, of a deeper or more painfiil interest than this 
ascetic epidemic. A hideous, sordid, and emaciated 
maniac, without knowledge, without patriotism, without 
natural affection, passing his life in a long routine of use- 
less and atrocious self-torture, and quailing before the 
ghastly phantoms of his delirious brain, had become the 
ideal of the nations which had known the writings of 
Plato and Cicero and the lives of Socrates or Cato. For 
about two centuries, the hideous maceration of the body 
was regarded as the highest proof of excellence. St. 
Jerome declares, with a thrill of admiration, how he had 
seen a monk, who for thirty years had lived exclusively 

^ The three principal are the Historia Mcnachorum of Rufinus, who 
visited Egypt A. D. 873, ahout seyenteen years after the death of St. Antony ; 
the IndUutiones of Cassian, who, haying yisited the Eastern monks about 
A.D. 304, founded yast monasteries containing^ it is said, 6,000 monks, at 
Marseilles, and died at a great age about a.d. 448 ; and the Historia Lath' 
siaca (so called from Lausus, Governor of Cappadoda) of Palladius, who was 
himself a hermit on Mount Nitria, in a.d. 388. The first and last, as well 
as many minor works of the same period, are given in Rosweyde's invalaable 
collection of the lives of the Fathers, one of the most fascinating volumes in 
the whole range of literature. 

The hospitality of the monks was not without drawbacks. In a church on 
Mount Nitria three whips were hung on a palm-tree->one for chastising 
monks, another for chastising thieves, and a third for chastising guests. 
(Palladius, Hist. Lans, vii.) 



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FROM CONSTANXmE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 116 

on a small portion of barley bread and of muddy water ; 
another, who lived in a hole and never eat more than five 
figs for his daily repast ; ^ a third, who cut his hair only 
on Easter Sunday, who never washed his clothes, who 
never changed his tunic till it fell to pieces, who starved 
himself till his eyes grew dim, and his skin *like a pumice 
stone,' and whose merits, shown by these austerities, Homer 
himself would be unable to recount.^ For six months, it 
is said, St. Macarius of Alexandria slept in a marsh, and 
exposed his body naked to the stings of venomous flies. 
He was accustomed to carry about with him eighty pounds 
of iron. His disciple, St. Eusebius, carried one hundred 
and fifty pounds of iron, and lived for three years in a 
dried-up well. St. Sabinus would only eat corn that had 
become rotten by remaining for a month in water. St. 
Besarion spent forty days and nights in the middle of 
thorn-bushes, and for forty years never lay down when he 
slept,^ which last penance was also during fifteen years 
practised by St. Pachomius.* Some saints, like St. Marcian, 
restricted themselves to one meal a day, so small that 
they continually suffered the pangs of hunger.^ Of one of 
them it is related that his daily food was six ounces of 
bread and a few herbs ; that he was never seen to recline 
on a mat or bed, or even to place his limbs easily for sleep ; 
but that sometimes, from excess of weariness, his eyes 
would close at his meals, and the food would drop into 
his mouth.^ Other saints, however, eat only every second 

^ Vita PauH, St. Jerome adds, that some wiU not believe this, be- 
cause they have no faith, but that all things are possible for those that 
believe. 

> VUa St. Hiiarim. 

' See a long list of these penances in Tillemont, MSm. pour servir d 
THid, eccU%. tome viiL 

^ Vit<B Patrum (Pachomius). He used to lean against a wall when over^ 
come by drowsiness. 

* ViUB Patrum, ix. 3. , • Sozomen, vi. 29. 

i2 

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116 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

day;^ while many, if we could believe the monkish 
historian, abstained for whole weeks from all nourish- 
ment.^ St. Macarius of Alexandria is said during an entire 
week to have never lain down, or eaten anything but a 
few nncooked herbs on Sunday.^ Of another famous 
saint, named John, it is asserted that for three whole years 
he stood in prayer, leaning upon a rock ; that during all 
that time he never sat or lay down, and that his only 
nourishment was the Sacrament, which was brought him 
on Sundays.* Some of the hermits hved in deserted dens 
of wild beasts, others in dried-up wells, while others 
found a congenial resting-place among the tombs.^ Some 
disdained all clothes, and crawled abroad hke the wild 
beasts, covered only by their matted hair. In Meso- 
potamia, and part of Syria, there existed a sect known by 
the name of ' Grazers,' who never lived under a roof, who 
eat neither flesh nor bread, but who spent their time for 
ever on the mountain side, and eat grass like cattle'^ The 



' E.g. St. Antony, according to his biograplier St. Athanasius. 

' ' II y eut dans le d^rt de Sc^t^ des solitaires d*ime dminente perfection. 
... On pretend que pour Tordinaire ils passoient des semaines enti^res sans 
manger, mais apparemment cela ne se ^Eusoit que dans des occasions parti- 
culi^res.' — Tillemont, MSm, pour servir d THid, eccL tome Tiii. p. 580. Even 
this, however; was admirable t 

' PalladiuSi Hid. Lans. cap. xx. 

^ < Primum cum accessisset ad eremum tribus continuis annis sub cujus- 
dam saxi rupe stans, semper oravit, ita ut nunquam omnino reeederit neque 
acuerit. Sonmi autem tantum caperet^ quantum stans capere potuit ; dbum 
vero nunquam sumpserat nisi die Dominica. Presbyter enim tunc veniebat 
ad eum et ofTerebat pro eo sacrificimn idque ei solum sacramentum erat et 
victufi.* — HutinuSy Htst. Monach, cap. xv. 

^ Thus St. Antony used to Hve in a tomb, where he was beaten by the 
devil. (St AthonasiuS; Life of Antony,) 

^ Boffroi. See on these monks Sozomen, vi. 83 ; Evagrius, i. 21. It is 
mentioned of a certain St. Marc of Athens, that having lived for thirty 
years naked in the desert, his body was covered with hair like that of a wild 
beast (Bollandists, March 29.) St Mary of Egypt, during part of her 
period of penance, lived upon grass. ( Vita Patrum,) 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 117 

cleanliness of the body was regarded as a pollution of the 
soul, and the saints who were most admired had become 
one hideous mass of clotted filth. St. Athanasius relates 
with enthusiasm how St. Antony, the patriarch of mona- 
chism, had never, in extreqie old age, been guilty of wash- 
ing his feet.^ The less constant St. PcBmen fell into this 
habit for the first time when a very old man, and, with 
a glimmering of common sense, defended himself against 
the astonished monks by saying that he had ' learnt to 
kill not his body, but his passions.'^ St. Abraham the 
hermit, however, who lived for fifty years after his con- 
version, rigidly refused from that date to wash either his 
face or his feet.^ He was, it is said, a person of singular 
beauty, and his biographer somewhat strangely remarks, 
that ' his face reflected the purity of his soul.' * St. Am- 
mon had never seen himself naked.^ A famous virgin 
named Silvia, though she was sixty years old, and though 
bodily»sickness was a consequence of her habits, reso- 
lutely reftised, on religious principles, to wash any part of 
her body except her fingers.^ St. Euphraxia joined a con- 
vent of one hundred and thirty nuns, who never washed 
their feet, and who shuddered at the mention of a bath.^ 
An anchorite once imagined that he was mocked by an 
illusion of the devil, as he saw gliding before him through 

* lAfe of Antiony, 

^ ' II oe faiaoit pas aussi difficult^ dans sa Tieillesse de se layer quelque- 
fois les piez. Et com me on t^moignoit s'en ^tomier et trouver que cela ne 
T^pondoit pas 4 la yie aufitdre dee anciens, il se justiiioit par ces paroles: 
Nous ayoDs appris ^ tuer, Bcm pas notre corps mais nos passions.' — ^Tillemont, 
Mem, JSist. eccL tome xy. p. 148. This saint was so yery yirtuous, that 
he sometimes remained without eating for whole weeks. 

' ' Non appropinquayit oleum corpusculo ejus. Fames yel etiam pedes 
a die conyersionis suib nunquam diluti sunt.'— Vita Patrum, c. xyii. 

* * In facie ejus puritas animi noscebatur.' — ^Ibid. c. xviii. 

* Socrates, iy. 23. « Heraclidis Paradisus (Rosweyde), c. xlii. 

^ 'Nulla earum pedes sues abluebat; aliquautie yero audientes de 
balneo loqui^ irridentes, confusionem et magnam abominationem se audiro 



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118 mSTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

the desert a naked creature black with filth and years of 
exposure, and with white hair floating to the wind. It was 
a once beautiful woman, St. Mary of Egypt, who had 
thus, during forty-seven years, been expiating her sins.^ 
The occasional decadence of the monks into habits of 
decency was a subject of much reproach. ' Our fathers,* 
said the abbot Alexander, looking mournfully back to 
the past, * never washed their faces, but we frequent the 
public baths.'^ It was related of one monastery in the 
desert, that the monks suffered greatly from want of water 
to drink ; but at the prayer of the abbot Theodosius, a 
copious stream was produced. But soon some monks, 
tempted by the abundant supply, diverged from their old 
austerity, and persuaded the abbot to avail himself of the 
stream for the construction of the bath. The bath was 
made. Once, and once only, did the monks enjoy their 
ablutions, when the stream ceased to flow. R^yers, 
tears, and fastings were in vain. A whole year passed. At 
last the abbot destroyed the bath, which was the object 
of the Divine displeasure, and the waters flowed afresh.^ 
But of aU the evidences of the loathsome excesses to 

judicabanty qvm neque auditum suum hoc aadire patiebantur.'^ Fti^. ^S^. 
Euphrax. c. vi. (Rosweyde.) 

' See her acts^ BoUandistS; April 2, and in the Viks Fatrum, 

^ * Patres nostri nunquam facies suas lavabant, hob autem layacra publica 
balneaqne frequentamus.' — Moechua, Pratum Spiritaale, dxviii. 

' Pratum Spirituale^ Ixxx. 

An Irish saint, named Coemgenus, is said to haye shown his derotion in a 
way which was directly opposite to that of the other seints I have men- 
tioned — by his special use of cold water — but the principle in each caee 
was the same — to mortify nature. St Coemgenus was accustomed to pray 
for an hour every night in a pool of cold water, while the devil sent a 
horrible beast to swim round him. An angel, however, was sent to him 
for three purposes. ' Tribus de causis k Domino missus est angelus ibi ad 
S. Coemgenum. Prima ut a diversis suis gravibus laboribus levins viveret 
paulisper ; secunda ut horridam bestiam sancto infestam repelleret ; tertia, 
vt frigu^tatem aqua calefaceret,^ — ^Bollandists, June' S. The editors say 
these acts are of doubtful authenticity. 



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FROM CONSTAKTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 119 

which this spirit was carried, the life of St. Simeon Stylites 
is probably the most remarkable. It would be difficult 
to conceive a more horrible or disgusting* picture than is 
given of the penances by which that saint commenced 
his ascetic career. He had bound a rope around him so 
that it became imbedded in his flesh, which putrefied 
aroimd it. *A horrible stench, intolerable to the by- 
standers, exhaled from his body, and worms dropped from 
him whenever he moved, and they filled his bed.' Some- 
times he left the monastery and slept in a dry well, in- 
habited, it is said, by daemons. He built successively 
three pillars, the last being sixty feet high, and scarcely 
two cubits in circumference, and on this pillar, during 
thirty years, he remained exposed to every change of 
climate, ceaselessly and rapidly bending his body in prayer 
almost to the level of his feet. A spectator attempted to 
number these rapid motions, but desisted from weariness 
when he had counted 1,244. For a whole year, we are 
told, St. Simeon stood upon one leg, the other being co- 
vered with hideous ulcers, while his biographer was com- 
missioned to stand by his side, to pick up the worms that 
feU from his body, and to replace them in the sores, the 
saint saying to the worm, ' Eat what God has given you.' 
From every quarter pilgrims of every degree thronged 
to do him homage. A crowd of prelates followed him 
to the grave. A brilliant star is said to have shone 
miracidously over his pillar ; the general voice of man- 
kind pronounced him to be the highest model of a Chris- 
tian saint, and several other anchorites imitated or emu- 
lated his penances.^ 

There is, if I mistake not, no department of literature 
the importance of which is more inadequately realised 

* See his life by his disciple Antonj, in the Vita Patrum, Evagriiis, 
i. 13-14. TLeodorety PhiUftheus, cap. xxvi. 



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120 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

than the lives of the saints. Even where they have no 
direct historical value, they have a moral value of the 
very highest order. They may not tell us with accuracy 
what men did at particular epochs, but they display 
with the utmost vividness what they thought and felt, 
their measure of probability, and their ideal of excellence. 
Decrees of councils, elaborate treatises of theologians, 
creeds, liturgies, and canons, are all but the husks of 
religious history. They reveal what was professed and 
argued before the world, but not that which was realised 
in the imagination or enshrined in the heart. The history 
of art, which in its ruder day reflected with delicate 
fidelity the fleeting images of an anthropomorphic age, is 
in this respect invaluable; but still more important is 
that vast Christian mythology, which grew up spon- 
taneously from the intellectual condition of the time, 
included all its dearest hopes, wishes, ideals, and imagin- 
ings, and constituted, during many centuries, the popular 
literature of Christendom. In the case of the saints of the 
deserts, there can be no question that the picture — which 
is drawn chiefly by eye-witnesses — however grotesque 
may be some of its details, is in its leading features his- 
torically true. It is true that self-torture was for some 
centuries regarded as the chief measure of human ex- 
cellence, that tens of thousands of the most devoted men 
fled to the desert to reduce themselves by maceration 
nearly to the condition of the brute, and that this odious 
superstition had acquired an almost absolute ascendency 
in the ethics of the age. The examples of asceticism I 
have cited are but a few out of many hundreds, and 
volumes might be written, and have been written, detail- 
ing them. Till the reform of St. Benedict, the ideal was 
oa the whole unchanged. The Western monks, from 
the conditions of their climate, were constitutionally in- 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 121 

capable of rivalling the abstinence of the Egyptian an- 
chorites, but their conception of supreme excellence was 
much the same, and they laboured to compensate for 
their inferiority in penances by claiming some superiority 
in miracles. From the time of St. Pachomius, the coeno- 
bitic life was adopted by most monks ; but the Eastern 
monasteries, with the important exception of a vow of 
obedience, differed little from a collection of hermitages. 
They were in the deserts ; the monks commonly Hved in 
separate cells ; they kept silence at their repasts ; they ri- 
valled one another in the extravagance of their penances. 
A few feeble efforts were indeed made by St. Jerome and 
others to moderate austerities which frequently led to 
insanity and suicide, to check the turbulence of certain 
wandering monks, who were accustomed to defy the eccle- 
siastical authorities, and especially to suppress monastic 
mendicancy, which had appeared prominently amoug 
some heretical sects. The orthodox monks commonly 
employed themselves in weaving mats of palm-leaves; 
but, living in the deserts, with no wants, they speedily 
sank into a listless apathy; and those who were most 
admired were those who, like Simeon Stylites and the 
hermit John, of whom I have already spoken, were most 
exclusively devoted to their superstition. Diversities of 
individual character were, however, vividly displayed. 
Many anchorites, without knowledge, passions, or imagi- 
nation, having fled from servile toil to the calm of the 
wilderness, passed the long hours in sleep or in a me- 
chanical routine of prayer, and their inert and languid 
existences, prolonged to the extreme of old age, closed at 
last by a tranquil and almost animal death. Others made 
their cells by the clear fountains and clustering palm-trees 
of some oasis in the desert, and a blooming garden arose 
beneath their toil. The numerous monks who followed 



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122 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

St. Serapion devoted themselves largely to agriculture, and 
sent shiploads of com for the benefit of the poor.^ Of 
one old hermit it is related, that such was the cheer- 
fulness of his mind, that every sorrow was dispelled 
by his presence, and the weary and the heartbroken 
were consoled by a few words from his hps.^ More 
commonly, however, the hermit's cell was the scene of 
perpetual mournings. Tears and sobs, and frantic 
strugglings with imaginary daemons, and paroxysms of 
religious despair, were the textmre of his hfe, and the 
dread of spiritual enemies, and of that death which his 
superstition had rendered so temble, embittered every 
hour of his existence.* The solace of intellectual occu- 
pations was rarely resorted to. 'The duty,' said St. 
Jerome, * of a monk is not to teach, but to weep.'* A 
cultivated and disciplined mind was the least subject to 
those hallucinations, which were regarded as the highest 
evidence of Divine favour,* and although in an age when 

^ Palladius, Hid, Latu. Ixxri. * Rufinns, Sid, Monack, xxxiii. 

' We have a striking illustration of this in St. Arsenius. His eyelashes 
are said to haye fallen off through continual weeping, and he had always, 
when at work, to put a cloth on his breast to receiye his tears. As he felt 
his death approaching, his terror rose to the point of agony. The monks 
who were about him said, ' '' Quid fles, pater P numquid et tu times P '' Hie 
respondit^ '^ In yeritate timeo et iste timor qui nunc mecum est, semper in 
me fiiit, ex quo factus sum monaohus.'' ' — Verba Semorumy ProL § 163. It 
was said of St. Abraham that no day passed after his conveFsion without 
his shedding tears. ( VU. Patrum,) St. John the dwarf once saw a monk 
laughing inmioderately at dinner, and was so horrified that he at once 
began to cry. (Tillemont, Mhn, de fHid, eccUs, tome z. p. 430.) St Basil 
{ReguUsy interrog. xvii.) gives a remarkable disquisition on the wickedness 
of laughing, and he obserres that this was the one bodily affection which 
Christ does not seem to have known. Mr. Buckle has collected a series of 
passages to precisely the same effect from the writings of the Scotch 
divines. {Hid, of CimUsationy voL ii. pp. 386-386.) 

^ 'Monachus autem non doctoris habet sed plangentis offidum.' — 
C<mtr, Vigilant, xt, 

* As Tillemont puts it : ' U se trouya trds-peu de saints en qui Dieu ait 
joint les talens ext^rieurs de T^loquence et de la science avec la grftce de 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 123 

the passion for ascetiGism was general, many scholars 
became ascetics, the great majority of the early monks 
appear to have been men who were not only absolutely ' 
ignorant themselves, but who also looked upon learning 
with positive disfavour. St. Antony, the true founder of 
monachism, refused when a boy to learn letters, because 
it would bring him into too great intercourse with other 
boys.^ At a time when St. Jerome had suffered himself 
to feel a deep admiration for the genius of Cicero, he 
was, as he himself tells us, borne in the night before the 
tribunal of Christ, accused of being rather a Ciceronian 
than a Christian, and severely flagellated by the angels.^ 
This saint, however, afterwards modified his opinions 
about the Pagan writings, and he was compelled to de- 
fend himself at length against his more jealous brethren, 
who accused him of defiling his writings with quotations 
from Pagan authors, and of employing some monks in 
copying Cicero, and of explaining Virgil to some children 
at Bethlehem.® Of one monk it is related, that being 
especially famous as a linguist, he made it his penance to 
remain perfectly silent for thirty years.^ Of another, that 
having discovered a few books in the cell of a brother 

la proph^tie et des miracles. Ce sont des dons que sa ProTidence a presque 
toujouTS s^par^z/ — Mim, Hid. eccUs, tome iy. p. 315. 
^ St Athanasius, VU, Anton. 

* JEp, xxii. He says his shoulders were bruised when he awoke. 

* Ep, Ixx. ', Adv. Bvfinuniy lib. i. ch. xxx. He there speaks of his Tision 
as a mere dream, not binding. He elsewhere {Ep. cxzr.) speaks very 
sensibly of the advantage of hermits occupying themselves^ and says he 
learnt Hebrew to keep away unholy thoughts. 

^ Sozomen, vi 28 ; Hufinus, Hitt. Manaeh, ch. vi. Socrates tells rather 
a touching story of one of these illiterate saints, named Pambos. Being 
unable to read, he came to some one to be taught a psalm, paving learnt 
the single verse, * I said I will take heed to my ways, that I offend not with 
my tongue,' he went away, saying that was enough if it were practically 
acquired. When asked six months, and again many years after, why h 
did not come to learn another verse, he answered that he had never been 
able truly to master this. (JT. E. iv. 23.) 



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124 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

hermit, he reproached the student with having thus de- 
frauded of their property the widow and the orphan ;^ 
of others, that their only books were copies of the New 
Testament, which they sold to relieve the poor.^ 

With such men, living such a Ufe, visions and miracles 
were necessarily habitual. All the elements of halluci- 
nation were there. Ignorant and superstitious, believing 
as a matter of religious conviction that coimtless daemons 
filled the air, attributing every fluctuation of his own tem- 
perament, and every exceptional phenomenon in surround- 
ing nature to spiritual agency ; dehrious, too, from solitude 
and long-continued austerities, the hermit soon mistook 
for palpable realities the phantoms of his brain. In the 
ghastly gloom of the sepulchre, where, amid mouldering 
corpses, he took up his abode ; in the long hours of the 
night of penance, when the desert wind sobbed around 
his lonely cell, and the cries of wild beasts were borne 
upon his ear, visible forms of lust or terror appeared to 
haunt him, and strange dramas were enacted by those who 
were contending for his soul. An imagination strained 
to the utmost limit, acting upon a frame attenuated and 
diseased by macerations, produced bewildering psycho- 
logical phenomena, paroxysms of conflicting passions, 
sudden alternations of joy and anguish, which he regarded 
as manifestly supernatural. Sometimes, in the very ecstasy 
of his devotion, the memory of old scenes would crowd 
upon his mind. The shady groves and soft voluptuous 
gardens of his native city would arise, and, kneeling alone 
upon the burning sand, he seemed to see around him the 
fair groups of dancing-girls, on whose warm, undulating 
limbs and wanton smiles his youthful eyes had too fondly 
dwelt Sometimes his temptation sprang from remem- 

* Tilleinont, x. p. 61. ' Ibid. viii. 490^ Socrates, H, E, iv. 23. 



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FROM CONSTANTTNE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 125 

bered sounds. The sweet, licentious songs of other days 
came floating on his ear, and his heart was thrilled with 
the passions of the past. And then the scene would 
change. As his hps were murmuring the psalter, his 
imagination, fired perhaps by the music of some martial 
psalm, depicted the crowded amphitheatre. The throng, 
and passion, and mingled cries of eager thousands were 
present to his mind, and the fierce joy of the gladiators 
passed through the tumult of his dream.^ The simplest 
incident came at last to suggest diabolical influence. An 
old hermit, weary and fainting upon his journey, once 
thought how refreshing would be a draught of the honey 
of wild bees of the desert. At that moment his eye fell 
upon a rock on which they had built a hive. He passed 
on with a shudder and an exorcism, for he believed it to 
be a temptation of the devil.^ But most terrible of all 
were the struggles of young and ardent men, through 
whose veins the hot blood of passion continually flowed, 
physically incapable of a life of celibacy, and with all that 
proneness to hallucination which a southern sun engenders, 
who were borne on the wave of enthusiasm to the desert 
life. In the arms of Syrian or African brides, whose soft 
eyes answered love with love, they might have sunk 
to rest, but in the lonely wilderness no peace could ever 
visit their souls. The lives of the saints paint with an 

^ I haye combined in this passage incidents from three distinct lives. St. 
Jerome, in a very famous and very beautiful passage of his letter to Eusto- 
chium (Ep. xxii.), describes the manner in which the forms of dancing-girls 
appeared to surround him as he knelt upon the desert sands. St. Mary of 
Egypt ( Vita Patrum, ch. xix.) was especially tortured by the recollection 
of the songs she had sung when young, which continually haunted her 
mind. St. Hilarion (see his Life by St Jerome) thought he saw a gladia- 
torial show while he was repeating the psalms. The manner in which the 
different visions faded into one another like dissolving views is repeatedly 
described in the biographies. 

' Rufinus, Hiit, Monarh. ch. xi. This sf.int was St. Helenus. 



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128 raSTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

appalling vividness the agonies of their struggle. Multi- 
plying with frantic energy the macerations of the body, 
beating their breasts with anguish, the tears for ever 
streaming from their eyes, imagining themselves conti- 
nually haunted by ever-changing forms of deadly beauty, 
which acquired a greater vividness from the very passion 
with which they resisted them, their struggles not unfre- 
quently ended in insanity and in suicide. It is related 
that when St. Pachomius and St. Palaemon were conversing 
together in the desert, a young monk, with his counte- 
nance distracted with madness, rushed into their presence, 
and, with a voice broken with convulsive sobs, poured out 
his tale of sorrows. A woman, he said, had entered his 
cell, had seduced him by her artifices, and then vanished 
miraculously in the air, leaving him half dead upon the 
ground ; — and then with a wild shriek the monk broke 
away from the saintly listeners. Impelled, as they ima- 
gined, by an evil spirit, he rushed across the desert, till 
he arrived at the next village, and there, leaping into the 
open furnace of the pubUc baths, he perished in the 
flames.^ Strange stories were told among the monks of 
revulsions of passion even in the most advanced Of one 
monk especially, who had long been regarded as a pattern 
of asceticism, but who had suffered himself to fall into 
that self-complacency which was very common among 
the anchorites, it was told that one evening a fainting 
woman appeared at the door of his cell, and implored 
him to give her shelter, and not permit her to be devoured 
by the wild beasts. In an evil hour he yielded to her 
prayer. With all the aspect of profound reverence she 
won his regards, and at last ventured to lay her hand 
upon him. But that touch convulsed his frame. Passions 

* Life of St. Pachomius ( VU. PtOrum), cap. ix. 



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FROM OONSTANTINE TO OHARLEMAGNR 127 

long slumbering and forgotten rushed with an impetuous 
fiiry through his veins. In a paroxysm of fierce love, 
he sought to clasp the woman to his heart, but she 
vanished from his sight, and a chorus of daemons, with 
peals of laughter, exulted over his fall The sequel of 
the story, as it is told by the monkish writer, is, I think, 
of a very high order of artistic merit. The fallen hermit 
did not seek, as might have been expected, by penance 
and prayers to renew his purity. That moment of passion 
and of shame had revealed in him a new nature, and 
severed him irrevocably from the hopes and feelings of 
the ascetic life. The fair form that had arisen upon his 
dream, though he knew it to be a deception luring him 
to destruction, still governed his heart. He fled from the 
desert, plunged anew into the world, avoided all in- 
tercourse with the monks, and followed the light of that 
ideal beauty even into the jaws of hell.^ 

Anecdotes of this kind, circidated among the monks, 
contributed to heighten the feelings of terror with which 
they regarded all communication with the other sex. 
But to avoid such communication was sometimes very 
diflScult. Few things are more striking in the early his- 
torians of the movement we are considering, than the 
manner in which narratives of the deepest tragical in- 
terest alternate with extremely whimsical accounts of the 
profoimd admiration with which the female devotees 

^ BufinuSy Hist, Monach. cap. i. This story was told to Bufinus hj St. 
John the hermit. The same saint described his own visions very graphi- 
callj. 'Denique etiam me frequenter dsBmones noctibus seduzerun^ et 
neque <mure neque reqoiescere permiserunt^ phantasias quasdam per noctem 
totam sensibus meis et cogitationes suggerentes. Mane Tero velut cum 
quadam illusione prostemebant se ante me dicentes. Indulge nobii^ abbas, 
quia laborem tibi incussimus tota nocte.' — Ibid. St Benedict in the desert 
is said to haye been tortured by the recollection of a beautiful girl he had 
once seen, and ofdj regained his composure by rolling in thorns. (St Greg. 
Dial. iL 2.) 



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128 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

regarded the most austere anchorites, and the unwearied 
perseverance with which they endeavoured to force them- 
selves upon their notice. Some women seem in this re- 
spect to have been peculiarly fortunate. St. Melania, 
who devoted a great portion of her fortune to the monks, 
accompanied by the historian Kufinus, made near the 
end of the fourth century a long pilgrimage through the 
Syrian and Egyptian hermitages.^ But \yith many of the 
hermits it was a rule never to look upon the face of any 
woman, and the number of years they had escaped this 
contamination was commonly stated as a conspicuous 
proof of their excellence. St. Basil would only speak to 
a woman under extreme necessity.^ St. John of Lycopolis 
had not seen a woman for forty-eight years.® A tribune 
was sent by his wife on a pilgrimage to St. John the 
hermit to implore him to allow her to visit him, her 
desire being so intense that she would probably, in the 
opinion of her husband, die if it was ungratified. At last 
the hermit told his suppliant that he would that night 
visit his wife when she was in bed in her house. The 
tribune brought this strange message to his wife, who 
that night saw the hermit in a dream.* A young Eoman 
girl made a pilgrimage from Italy to Alexandria, to look 
upon the face, and obtain the prayers of St. Arsenius, 
into whose presence she forced herself. Quailing beneath 
his rebuffs, she flung herself at his feet, imploring him 
with tears to grant her only request — to remember her, 
and to pray for her. ' Eemember you,' cried the indignant 

* She liyed also for some time in a convent at Jerusalem which she had 
founded. Melania (who was one of St. Jerome's friends) was a lady of 
rank and fortune, who devoted her property to the monks. See her journey 
in Rosweyde, lib. iL 

' See his life in Tillemont. 

' Ibid. X. p. 14. A certain Didymus lived entirely alone till his death, 
which took place when he was ninety. (Socrates, JT. E. iv. 23.) 

* Rufinus, Hid, Monacharumy cap. i. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 129 

saint, 'It shall be the prayer of my life that I may 
forget you/ The poor girl sought consolation from the 
Archbishop of Alexandria, who comforted her by assur- 
ing her that though she belonged to the sex by which 
daemons commonly tempt saints, he doubted not the 
hermit would pray for her soul, though he woidd try to 
forget her fece.^ Sometimes this female enthusiasm took 
another and a more subtle form, and on more than one 
occasion women were known to attire themselves as men, 
and to pass their lives undisturbed as anchorites. Among 
others, St. Pelagia, who had been the most beautiful, 
and one of the most dangerously seductive actresses of 
Antioch, having been somewhat strangely converted, 
was appointed by the bishops to live in penance with an 
elderly virgin of irreproachable piety ; but impelled, we 
are told, by her desire for a more austere life, she fled 
from her companion, assumed a male attire, took refuge 
among the monks on the Mount of Olives, and, with 
something of the skill of her old profession, supported her 
feigned character so consistently, that she acquired great 
renown, and it was only (it is said) after her death that 
the saints discovered who had been Uving among them.^ 

* Verba Semomtn^ § 65. 

' Pelagia was Tery pretty, and, according to her own account, ' her sins 
were heavier than the sand.' The people of Antioch, who were yeiy fond 
of her, called her Marguerita, or the pearL ' H arriva un jour que divers 
^vesques, appelez par celui d*Antioche pour quelques affaires, estant ensemhle 
k la porte de I'^Use de S.-Julien, P^agie passa devant eux dans tout T^at 
des pompes du diable, n'ayant pas seulement une coeffe sur sa teste ni un 
mouchoir sur ses ^paules, ce qu*on remarque comme le comble de son im- 
pudence. Tons les ^vesques baissdrent les yeux en g^missant pour ne pas voir 
ce dangereux objet de p^h^, hors Nonne, trte-saint ^vesque d'H^liople, 
qui la regarda avec une attention qui fit peine aux autres.' However, this 
bishop immediately began crying a great deal, and reassured his brethren, 
and a sermon which he preached led to the conversion of the actress. 
(Tillemont, MSm, d'Hist. eccUs, tome xii. pp. 378-380.) See, too, on 
women, ' under pretence of religion,' attiring themselves as men, Sozomen, 
iii. 14.) 

VOL. II. K 



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130 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

The foregoing anecdotes and observations will, I hope, 
have given a suflSciently clear idea of the general nature 
of the monastic life in its earliest phase, and also of the 
writings it produced. We may now proceed to examine 
the ways in which this mode of life affected both the 
ideal type and the realised condition of Christian morals. 
And in the first place, it is manifest that the proportion 
of virtues was altered. If an impartial person were to 
glance over the ethics of the New Testament, and were 
asked what was the central and distinctive virtue to which 
the sacred writers most continually referred, he would 
doubtless answer, that it was that which is described as 
love, charity, or philanthropy. If he were to apply a 
similar scrutiny to the writings of the fourth and fifth 
centuries, he would answer that the cardinal virtue of 
the religious type was not love, but chastity. And this 
chastity, which was regarded as the ideal state, was not 
the purity of an undefiled marriage. It was the abso- 
lute' suppression of the whole sensual side of our nature. 
The chief form of virtue, the central conception of the 
saintly life, was a perpetual struggle against all imchaste 
impulses, by men who altogether refused the compromise 
of marriage. From this fact, if I mistake not, some in- 
teresting and important consequences may be deduced. 

In the first place, reUgion gradually assumed a very 
sombre hue. The business of the saint was to eradicate 
a natural appetite, to attain a condition which was em- 
phatically abnormal. The depravity of human nature, 
and especially the essential evil of the body, were felt with 
a degree of intensity that coidd never have been attained 
by moraUsts who were occupied mainly with transient 
or exceptional vices, such as envy, anger, or cruelty. 
And in addition to the extreme inveteracy of the appetite 
which it was desired to eradicate, it should be remem- 
bered that a somewhat luxurious and indulgent fife, even 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 131 

when that indulgence is not itself distinctly evil, even 
when it has a tendency to mollify the character, has 
naturally the ^ect of strengthening the animal passions, 
and is therefore directly opposed to the ascetic ideal 
The consequence of this was first of all a very deep sense 
of the habitual and innate depravity of human nature, 
and in the next place, a very strong association of the 
idea of pleasure with that of vice. All this was the 
necessary consequence of the supreme value placed upon 
virginity. The tone of calm and joyousness that charac- 
terises Greek philosophy, the almost complete absence of 
all sense of struggle and innate sin that it displays, is 
probably in a very large d^ee to be ascribed to the fact 
that, in the department of morals we are considering, 
Gh:'eek moralists made no serious eflforts to improve our 
nature, and Greek public opinion acquiesced, without 
scandal, in an almost boundless indulgence of ilhcit 
pleasures. 

But while the great prominence at this time given to 
the conflicts of the ascetic life threw a dark shade upon 
the popular estimate of human nature, it contributed, I 
think, very largely to sustain and deepen that strong con- 
viction of the freedom of the human will which the 
Catholic Church has always so strenuously upheld ; for 
there is, probably, no other form of moral conflict in 
which men are so habitually and so keenly sensible of 
that distinction between our will and our desires, upon 
the reality of which all moral freedom ultimately depends. 
It had also, I imagine, another result, which it is difficult 
to describe with the same precision. What may be called 
a strong animal nature — a nature, that is, in which the 
passions are in vigorous, and at the same time healthy 
action, is that in which we should most naturally expect 
to find several moral qualities. Good humour, fittnkness, 

K 2 

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132 HISTORY OF EUROPK\N MORALS, 

generosity, active courage, sanguine energy, buoyancy of 
temper, are the usual and appropriate accompaniments of 
a vigorous animal temperament, and they are much more 
rarely found either in natures that are essentially feeble 
and effeminate, or in natures which have been artificially 
emasculated by penances, distorted from their original 
tendency, and habitually held imder severe control. The 
ideal type of Catholicism being, on account of the supreme 
value placed upon virginity, of the latter kind, the quah- 
ties I have mentioned have always ranked very low in 
the CathoUc conceptions of excellence, and the steady 
tendency of Protestant and industrial civilisation has been 
to elevate them, 

I do not know whether the reader will regard these 
speculations — which I advance with some diflSdence — as 
far-fetched and fanciful. Our knowle^e of the physical 
antecedents of different moral qualities is so scanty, that 
it is diflScult to speak on these matters with much con- 
fidence; but few persons, I think, can have failed to 
observe that the physical temperaments I have described, 
differ not simply in the one great fact of the intensity of 
the animal passions, but also in the aptitude of each to 
produce a distinct moral type, or, in other words, in the 
harmony of each with several qualities, both good and 
evil. A doctrine, therefore, which connects one of these 
two temperaments indissolubly with the moral ideal, 
affects the appreciation of a large number of moral 
quaUties. But whatever may be thought of the moral 
results springing from the physical temperament which 
asceticism produced, there can be little controversy as to 
the effects springing from the condition of hfe which it 
enjoined. Severance from the interests and affections of 
all around him, was the chief object of the anchorite, 
and the first consequence of the prominence of asce- 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 133 

ticism was a profound discredit thrown upon the domestic 
virtues. 

The extent to which this discredit was carried, the 
intense hardness of heart and ingratitude manifested by 
the saints towards those who were bound to them by the 
closest of earthly ties, is known to few who have not 
studied the original literature on the subject. These things 
are commonly thrown into the shade by those modem 
sentimentahsts who delight in idealising the devotees of 
the past. To break by his ingratitude the heart of the 
mother who had borne him, to persuade the wife who 
adored him that it was her duty to separate from him for 
ever, to abandon his children, imcared for and beggars, to 
the mercies of the wotW, was regarded by the true hermit 
as the most acceptable offering he could make to his God. 
His business was to save his own souL The serenity of 
his devotion would be impaired by the discharge of the 
simplest duties to his family. Evagrius, when a hermit in 
the desert, received, after a long interval, letters from his 
father and mother. He could not bear that the equable 
tenor of his thoughts should be disturbed by the recol- 
lection of those who loved him, so he cast the letters 
imread into the fire.^ A man named Mutius, accom- 
panied by his only child, a Uttle boy of eight years old, 
once abandoned his possessions and demanded admission 
in a monastery. The monks received him, but they pro- 
ceeded to discipline his heart. ' He had already forgotten 
that he was rich ; he must next be taught to forget that 

* Tillemont, tome x. pp, 376-377. Apart from family affections, there are 
some curious instances recorded of the anxiety of the saints to avoid distrac- 
tions. One monk used to cover his face when he went into his garden, lest 
the sight of the trees should disturb his mind. ( Verb. Semorum,) St Ar- 
senius could not bear the rustling of the reeds (Ibid.) ; and a saint named 
Boniface struck dead a man who went about with an ape and a cymbal, 
because he had (apparently quite unintentionally) disturbed him at hl^ 
prayers. (St. Greg. Dial, i. 9.) 



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134 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

he waa a father.'^ His little child was separated from 
him, clothed in dirty rags, subjected to every form of 
gross and wanton hardship, beaten, spumed, and ill treated. 
Day after day the father was compelled to look upon his 
boy wasting away with sorrow, his once happy counte- 
nance for ever stained with tears, distorted by sobs of 
anguish. But yet, says the admiring biographer, ' though 
he saw this day by day, such was his love for Christ, and 
for the virtue of obedience, that the father's heart was 
rigid and immoved.' * He thought Uttle of the tears of 
his child. He was anxious only for his own humility and 
perfection in virtue.' ^ At last the abbot told him to take 
his child and throw it into the river. He proceeded, 
without a murmur or s^parent pang, to obey, and it was 
only at the last moment that the monks interposed, and 
on the very brink of the river saved the child. Mutius 
afterwards rose to a high position among the ascetics, and 
was justly regarded bs having displayed in great per- 
fection the temper of a saint.^ An inhabitant of Thebes 
once came to the abbot Sisoes, and asked to be made a 
monk. The abbot asked if he had anyone belonging to 
him. He answered, ' A son.' * Take your son,' rejoined 
the old man, ^ and throw him into the river, and then 
you may become a monk.' The &ther hastened to fulfil 
the command, and the deed was almost consummated 
when a messenger sent by Sisoes revoked the order.* 

Sometimes the same lesson was taught under the form 
of a miracle. A man had once deserted his three children 



^ ' Quemadmodum se jam divitem non ease cidebat, ita etiam patrem se 
ease nesdret' — CaasiaQ; De Comobicntm InstUutis, iy. 27. 

' ' Gumque taliter infana aub oculia ejus per dies singulos ageretur, pro 
amore nihilominus Christi et obedientias virtute, rigida semper atque im- 
mobilia patns yiscera permanserunt . . . parum cogitaas de laciymis ejus, 
sed de propria bumilitate ac perfectione eollicitua.' — Ibid. 

* Ibid. * BoUandistSy July 6 ^ Verba /SMotkin, zir. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 136 

to become a monk. Three years after, he determined to 
bring them into the monastery, but, on returning to his 
home, found that the two eldest had died during his absence. 
He came to his abbot, bearing in his arms his youngest 
child, who was still Uttle more than an infant. The abbot 
turned to him, and said, ' Do you love this child ? ' The 
father answered, ' Yes.' Again the abbot said, ' Do you 
love it dearly?' The father answered as before. ' Then 
take the child,' said the abbot, * and throw it into the fire 
upon yonder hearth/ The father did as he was com- 
manded, 'and the child remained unharmed amid the 
flames.^ But it was especially in their deahngs with their 
female relations that this aspect of the monastic character 
was vividly displayed. In this case the motive was not 
simply to mortify family aflfections — it was also to guard 
against the possible danger resulting from the presence of 
a woman. The fine flower of that saintly purity might 
have been disturbed by the sight of a mother's or a sister's 
face. The ideal of one age appears sometimes too gro- 
tesque for the caricature of another ; and it is curious to 
observe how pale and weak is the picture which MoUere 
drew of the afiected prudery of Tartufle,^ when compared 
with the narratives that are gravely propounded in the 
lives of the saints. When the abbot Sisoes had become a 
very old, feeble, and decrepit man, his disciples exhorted 

* Verba Seniorumf xiv. 

* Tabtufpe (tirarU tm mouchoir de sa poqhe), 

< Ah, mon Dieu^ je yous prie, 
Ayant que de pailer, prenez-moi ce mouchoir. 

DOBUTB. 

CommeDt ! 

Tabtupfb. 
CouTTez ce sein que je ne saurois voir; 
Par de pareils objets des &me8 sont bless^es, 
Et cela fait Tenir de ooupables pens^es.' 

Tartuffe^ Acte iii acftne 2. 



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136 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

him to leave the desert for an inhabited country. Sisoefl 
seemed to peld ; but he stipulated as a necessary condition, 
that in his new abode he should never be compelled to 
encounter the peril and perturbation of looking on a 
woman's face. To such a nature of course the desert 
alone was suitable, and the old man was suffered to die 
in peace.^ A monk was once travelling with his mother 
— ^in itself a most unusual circumstance — and, having ar- 
rived at a bridgeless stream, it became necessary for him 
to carry her across. To her surprise, he b^an carefully 
wrapping up his hands in cloths ; and upon her asking 
the reason, he explained that he was alarmed lest he 
should be unfortunate enough to touch her, and thereby 
disturb the equiUbrium of his nature.^ The sister of St. 
John of Calama loved him dearly, and earnestly implored 
him that she might look upon his face once more before 
she died. On his persistent refusal, she at last declared 
that she would make a pilgrimage to him in the desert. 
The alarmed and perplexed saint at last wrote to her, 
promising to visit her if she would engage to relinquish 
her design. He went to her in disguise, received a cup 
of water from her hands, and came away without being 
discovered. She wrote to him, reproaching him with not 
having fulfilled his promise. He answered her, that he 
had indeed visited her, that * by the mercy of Jesus 
Christ he had not been recognised,' and that she must 
never see him again.^ The mother of St. Theodorus came 
armed with letters from the bishops to see her son, but 
he implored his abbot, St. Pachomius, to permit him to 

1 BoUandists, July 6. 

^ Verba Seniorum^ iy. The poor woman; l)eiDg startled and perplexed at 
the proceedings of her son, said; ' Quid sic operuisti manus tuas; iUi P Ille 
autem dixit : Quia corpus mulieris ignis est; et ex eo ipso quo te continge- 
bam yeniebat mihi commemoratio aliarum feminarum in animo.' 

9 TUlemont; M4m, de VHid, eccU$, tome x. pp. 444-445. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNR 187 

decline the interview ; and, finding all her efibrts in vain, 
the poor woman retired into a convent, together with her 
daughter, who had made a similar expedition with similar 
results.^ The mother of St. Marcus persuaded his abbot 
to command the saint to go out to her. Placed in a 
dilemma between the sin of disobedience and the perils 
of seeing his mother, St. Marcus extricated himself by 
an ingenious device. He went to his mother with his 
face disguised and his eyes shut. The mother did not 
recognise her son. The son did not see his mother.* 
The sister of St. Kor in Uke manner induced the abbot of 
that saint to command him to admit her to his presence. 
The command was obeyed, but St. Pior resolutely kept 
his eyes shut during the interview.^ St. Poemen and his 
six brothers had all deserted their mother to cultivate 
the perfections of an ascetic life. But ingratitude can 
seldom quench the love of a mother's heart, and the old 
woman, now bent by infirmities, went alone into the 
Egjrptian desert to see once more the children she had 
so dearly loved. She caught sight of them as they were 
about leaving their cell for the church, but they im- 
mediately ran back into the cell, and before her tottering 
stq)s could reach it, one of her sons rushed forward and 
flung the door to in her face. She remained outside 
weeping bitterly. St. Poemen then, coming to the door, 
but without opening it, said, 'Why do you, who are 
already stricken with age, pour forth such cries and la- 
mentations? * But she, recognising the voice of her son, 
answered, 'It is because I long to see you, my sons. 
What harm could it do you that I should see you ? Am 
I not your mother ? did I not give you suck ? I am now 
an old and wrinkled woman, and my heart is troubled at 

* VU. 8. Pachomius, ch. xxd. ; Verba Semarunu 

* Verba Semarum^ xiy. * PalladiuSi Hid, Lans, cap. Ixxxyii. 

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138 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

the sound of your voices.'* The saintly brothers, how- 
ever, refused to open their door. They told their mother 
that she would see them after death ; and the biographer 
says she at last went away contented with the prospect. 
St. Simeon Stylites, in this as in other respects, stands in 
the first line. He had been passionately loved by his 
parents, and, if we may believe his eulogist and bio- 
grapher, he b^an his saintly career by breaking the 
heart of his father, who died of grief at his flight. His 
mother, however, Ungered on. Twenty-seven years after 
his disappearance, at a period when his austerities had 
made him famous, she heard for the first time where he 
was, and hastened to visit him. But all her labour was 
in vain. No woman was admitted within the precincts 
of his dwelUng, and he refused to permit her even to 
look upon his face. Her entreaties and tears were 
mingled with words of bitter and eloquent reproach.* 



^ BoUandistn, June 6. I ayail myself agiiin of tiie Temon of Tillemont 
* Lonque S. Pemen demeuroit en £gypte avec see frdree, leur m^, qui ayoit 
im extreme d^sir de les voir^ venoit souvent an lieu ot ils estoient, sans 
pouYoir jamais ayoir cette satisfaction. line fois enfin elle prit si bien son 
temps qu*elle les rencontra >qui aUoient k V4g]iae, mais dhs qu'ils la Tirent 
ils s'en retoum^rent en haste dans leur cellule et fermdrent la porte sur eux. 
Elle les suiyity et trouyant la porte^ elle les appeloit ayec des larmes 
et des cris capables de les toucher de compassion. . . . Pemen s*y leya et 
8*y en alia, et Fentendant pleurer il luy dit, tenant toujours la porte ferm^ 
'* Pourquoi yous lassez-yous inutilement k pleurer et crier F N'etes-yous pas 
d^jli assez abattue par la yieillesse P " Elle reconnut la yoiz de Pemen, et 
a'effor^ant encore dayantage, elle s'toia, '^H^ mes enfans, c'est que je you- 
drois bien yous yoir : et quel mal y a-t-il que je yous yoie P Ne suis-je 
pas yotre mdre, et ne yous ai-je pas nourri du lait de mes mammellesP 
Je suis d4}k toute pleine de rides, et lorsque je yous ay entendu, Feztrdme 
enyie que j'ay de yous yoir m'a tellement ^mue que je sms presque tombte 
en d^faillance." ' — Mimoires de VHitt, eccliB. tome xy. pp. 157-158., 

' The original is much more eloquent than my translation. ' Fill, quare 
hoc fecisti P Pro utero quo te portayi, satiasti me luctu, pro lactatione qua 
te lactavi dedisti mihi laciymas, pro osculo quo te osculata sum, dedisti mihi 
amaras cordis angustias ; pro dolore et labore quem passa sum^ impoeuisti 
mihi sasyisdmas plagas.' — Vita Simeottis (in Rosweyde). 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 139 

' My son,* she is represented as having said, * Why have 
you done this ? I bore you in my womb, and you have 
wrung my soul with grief. I gave you milk from my 
breast, you have filled my eyes with tears. For the 
kisses I gave you, you have given me the anguish of a 
broken heart ; for all that I have done and sufiered for 
you, you have repaid me by the most bitter wrongs.' 
At last the saint sent a mess^e to tell her that she would 
soon see him. Three days and three nights she had wept 
and entreated in vain, and now, exhausted with grief and 
age and privation, she sank feebly to the groimd and 
breathed her last sigh before that inhospitable door. 
Then for the first time the saint, accompanied by his 
followers, came out. He shed some pious tears over the 
corpse of his murdered mother, and oSered up a prayer 
consigning her soul to heaven. Ferhi^ it was but fmcy, 
perhaps life was not yet wholly extinct, perhaps the story 
is but the invention of the biographer ; but a faint mo- 
tion — which appears to have been regarded as miracu- 
lous — ^is said to have passed over her prostrate form. 
Simeon once more commaided her soul to heaven, and 
then, amid the admiring murmurs of his disciples, the 
saintly matricide returned to his devotions. 

The glaring mendacity that characterises the lives of 
the CathoUc saints, probably to a greater extent than any 
other important branch of existing literatiure, makes it 
not unreasonable to hope that many of the foregoing 
anecdotes represent much less events that actually took 
place than ideal pictures generated by the enthusiasm of 
the chroniclers. They are not, however, on that account 
the less significant of the moral conceptions which the 
ascetic period had created. The ablest men in the 
Christian community vied with one another in inculcating 
as the highest form of duty the abandonment of social 



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140 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

ties and the mortification of domestic affections. A few 
faint restrictions were indeed occasionally made. Much — 
on which I shall hereafter touch — ^was written on the 
liberty of husbands and wives deserting one another; and 
something was written on the cases of children forsaking 
or abandoning their parents. At first, those who, when 
children, were devoted to the monasteries by their parents, 
without their own consent, were permitted, when of 
mature age, to return to the world ; and this liberty was 
taken from them for the first time by the fourth Council 
of Toledo, in a.d. 633.^ The Coimcil of Qangra con- 
demned the heretic Eustathius for teaching that children 
might through religious motives forsake their parents, 
and St. Basil wrote in the same strain ; ^ but cases of this 
kind of rebellion against parental authority were con- 
tinually recounted with admiration in the lives of the 
saints, applauded by some of the leading Fathers, and vir- 
tually sanctioned by a law of Justinian, which prohibited 
parents either from restraining their children fit)m en- 
tering monasteries, or disinheriting them if they had done 
so without their consent.^ St. Chrysostom relates with 
enthusiasm the case of a young man who had been de- 
signed by his father for the army, and who was lured 
away into a monastery.* The eloquence of St Ambrose 
is said to have been so seductive, that mothers were ac- 
customed to shut up their daughters to guard them against 
his fascinations.* The position of affectionate parents was 
at this time extremely painful. The touching language 
is still preserved, in which the mother of St. Chrysostom 
— who had a distinguished part in the conversion of her 
son — implored him, if he thought it his duty to fly to the 
desert life, at least to postpone the act till she had died.^ 

^ Bingham, AntiquiiieSy book vii. ch. iii. ' Ibid. * Ibid. 

« Milman'8 Early ChrUtianUy (ed. 1867), Tol iii. p. 122. 

* Ibid. vol. iii p. 168. • Ibid. vol. iii. p. 120. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 141 

St. Ambrose devoted a chapter to proving that, while those 
are worthy of commendation who entered the monasteries 
with the approbation, those are still more worthy of praise 
who do so against the wishes, of their parents; and he pro- 
ceeded to show how small were the penalties the latter 
could inflict when compared with the blessings asceticism 
could bestow.^ Even before the law of Justinian, the invec- 
tives of the clergy were directed against those who endea- 
voured to prevent their children flying to the desert. St. 
Chrysostom explained to them that iJiey would certainly 
be damned,^ St. Ambrose showed, that even in thb world 
they might not be unpunished. A girl, he tells us, had 
resolved to enter into a convent, and as her relations were 
expostulating with her on her intention, one of those 
present tried to move her by the memory of her dead 
father, asking whether, if he were still alive, he would 
have suffered her to remain unmarried. ' Perhaps,' she 
calmly answered, ' it was for this very purpose he died, 
that he should not throw any obstacle in my way.' Her 
words were more than an answer, they were an oracle. 
The indiscreet questioner almost immediately died, and 
the relations, shocked by the manifest providence, desisted 
from their opposition, and even implored the young 
saint to accomplish her design.^ St. Jerome tells with 
rapturous enthusiasm of a little girl, named Asella, who, 
when only twelve years old, devoted herself to this reli- 
gious life, refused to look on the face of any man, and 
whose knees, by constant prayer, became at last like 
those of a camel.* A feimous widow, named Paula, upon 
the death of her husband, deserted her family, listened 
with ' dry eyes' to her children, who were imploring her 
to stay, fled to the society of the monks at Jerusalem, 

^ De Virgmibue, i. 11. ' Milman'0 JEarly Chruiianity^ toL iii. p. 121. 

• De J'trymibuBf i. 11. * Eptd, xxiv. 



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143 HISTORY OP EUROPEAN MORALS. 

made it her desire that ** she might die a beggar, and 
leave not one piece of money to her son,' and having 
dissipated the whole of her fortune in charities, be- 
queathed to her children only the embarrassment of her 
debts.^ It was carefully inculcated that all money given 
or bequeathed to the poor, or to the monks, produced 
spiritual benefit to the donors or testators, but that no 
spiritual benefit sprang from money bestowed upon rela- 
tions ; and the more pious minds recoiled from disposing 
of their property in a manner that would not redound to 
the advantage of their souls. Sometimes parents made it 
a djring request of their children that they would preserve 
none of their property, but would bestow it all among the 
poor.^ It was one of the most honourable incidents of 
the life of St. Augustine, that he, like AureUus, Bishop of 
Carthage, refused to receive legacies or donations which 
unjustly spoliated the relatives of the benefactor.^ Usu- 
ally, however, to outrage the affections of the nearest 
and dearest relations was not only regarded as innocent^ 
but proposed as the highest virtue. 'A young man,' it 
was acutely said, * who has learnt to despise a mother's 
grie^ will easily bear any other labour that is imposed 



* St. Jerome describes the scene at her departure with admiring eloquence. 
* Descendit ad portum fratre, cognatis, affinibus et quod majus est libeiis 
prosequentibus; et clementissimam matrem pietate sincere cupientibus. 
Jam carbasa tendebantur, et remorum ductu navis in altum protrahebatur. 
Parvus Toxodud supplices manus tendebat in littore, Ruffina jam nubilis 
ut suas expectaret nuptias tacens fletibus obsecrabat Et tamen ilia siccos 
tendebat ad caelum oculos, pietatem in filios pietate in Deum superans. 
Nesciebat se matrem ut Christi probaret ancillam.' — J3p, criii. In another 
place he sajs of her, * Testis est Jesus, ne unum quidem nummum ab ea 
filisB derelictum, sed, ut ante jam dixi, derelictum magnum les alienum.' — 
Ibid. And again^ * Vis, lector, ejus breviter scire virtutesP Omnes suos 
paupereS; pauperior ipsa dlmisit.' — Ibid. 

* See Chastel, jStudes kistoriques sur la ChariU^ p. 231. The parents uf 
St Gregory Nazianzen had made this request, which was faithfully obserred. 

» Chastel, p. 232. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 143 

upon him.' ^ St. Jerome, when, exhorting Heliodonis to 
desert his family and become a hermit, expatiated with 
a fond minuteness on every form of natural afieetion he 
desired him to violate. * Though your little nephew 
twine his arms around your neck ; though your mother, 
with dishevelled hair and tearing her robe asunder, point 
to the breast with which she suckled you ; though your 
father fall down on the threshold before you, pass on 
over your father's body. Fly with tearless eyes to the 
banner of the cross. In this matter cruelty is the only 
piety. . . . Your widowed sister may throw her gentle 
arms around you. . . . Your father may implore you to 
wait but a short time to bury those near to you, who will 
soon be no more ; your weeping mother may recall your 
childish days, and may point to her shrunken breast and 
to her wrinkled brow. Those around you may tell you 
that all the household rests upon you. Such chains as 
these, the love of God and the fear of hell can easily 
break. You say that Scripture orders you to obey your 
parents, but he who loves them more than Christ loses 
his soul. The enemy brandishes a sword to slay me. 
Shall I think of a mother's tears ? '^ 

The sentiment manifested in these cases continued to 
be displayed in the later ages. Thus, St Gregory the 
Great assures us that a certain young boy, though he 
had enrolled himself as a monk, was unable to repress 
his love for his parents, and one night stole out secretly 
to visit them. But the judgment of God soon marked 
the enormity of the offence. On coming back to the 
monastery, he died that very day, and when he was 

^ See a characteristic passage from the lAfe of 8t, Fulgentms, quoted by 
Dean Milman. 'Facile potest juvenis tolerare quemcunqve imposaerit 
lahorem qui potent matemum jam despicere dolorem.' — Hist, of Latin 
Christian^y vol. ii. p. 82. 

* Ep. xiv. {Ad HeUodorum), 



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144 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

buried, the earth refused to receive so heinous a criminal. 
His body was repeatedly thrown up from the grave, and 
it was only suffered to rest in peace when St. Benedict 
had laid the Sacrament upon its breast.^ One nun re- 
vealed, it is said, after death, that she had been con- 
demned for three days to the fires of purgatory, because 
she had loved her mother too much.^ Of another saint 
it is recorded, that his benevolence was such that he was 
never known to be hard or inhuman to anyone except 
his relations.^ St. Eomuald, the founder of the Camal- 
dolites, counted his father among his spiritual children, 
and on one occasion punished him by flagellation.* The 
first nun, whom St. Francis of Assisi enrolled, was a beau- 
tiful girl of Assisi, named Clara Scifi, with whom he had 
for some time carried on a clandestine correspondence, and 
whose flight from her father's home he both counselled 
and planned.^ As the first enthusiasm of asceticism died 
away, what was lost in influence by the father was gained 
by the priest. The confessional made this personage the 
confidant in the most delicate secrets of domestic life. 
The supremacy of authority, of sympathy, and sometimes 
even of affection, passed away beyond the domestic circle, 
and by estabUshing an absolute authority over the most 
secret thoughts and feelings of nervous and credulous 
women, the priests laid the foundation of the empire of 
the world. 

The picture I have drawn of the inroads made in the 
first period of asceticism upon the domestic affections, 
tells, I think, its own story, and I shall only add a very 

> St. Greg. Did, ii. 24. * Bollandists, May 8 (voL vii. p. 661). 

* ' Hospitibus omni loco ac tempore liberalissimuB fuit . . . Solis con- 
eanguineis durus erai et inhumanus, tamquam ignotos illos respidens.' — 
Bollandi8t6y May 29. 

^ See Heljot, IHct, des Ordres religieux, art. ' Camaldules.' 

* See the charming sketch in the Life of Si, Francis^ by Hase. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 146 

few words of comment. That it is necessary for many men 
who are pursuing a truly heroic course to break loose 
from the trammels which those about them would cast 
over their actions or their opinions, and that this severance 
often constitutes at once one of the noblest and one of the 
most painful incidents in their career, are unquestionable 
truths ; but the examples of such occasional and excep- 
tional sacrifices, endured rather than relinquish some 
great unselfish end, cannot be compared with the conduct 
of those who regarded the mortification of domestic love 
as in itself a form of virtue, and whose ends were mainly 
or exclusively selfish. The sufferings endured by the 
ascetic who fled from his relations were often, no doubt, 
very great. Many anecdotes remain to show that warm 
and affectionate hearts sometimes beat under the cold 
exterior of the monk,^ and St. Jerome, in one of his 
letters, remarked, with much complacency and congratu- 
lation, that the very bitterest pang of captivity is simply 
this irrevocable separation which the superstition he 
preached induced multitudes to inflict upon themselves. 
But i^ putting aside the intrinsic excellence of an act, we 
attempt to estimate the nobiUty of the agent, we must 
consider not only the cost of what he did, but also the 
motive which induced him to do it. It is this last con- 
sideration which renders it impossible for us to place the 
heroism of the ascetic on the same level with that of the 
great patriots of Greece or Kome. A man may be as 

^ The legend of Si Scholasticai the siater of St Benedict, has been often 
quoted. He had visited her, and was about to leave in the evening, when 
she implored him to stay. He refused, and she then prayed to Qod, who 
sent so violent a tempest that the saint was unable to depart (St Qreg. 
Dial, iL 83.) Cassian speaks of a monk who thought it his duty never to 
see his mother, but who laboured for a whole year to pay off a debt she had 
incuired. (Goenob. Inst. v. 38.) St Jerome mentions the strong natural 
affection of Paula, though she considered it a virtue to mortify it. (Ep. 
cviii.) 

VOL. n. L 



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140 HISTORY OF BUROPEAN MORALS. 

truly selfish about the next world as about this. Where 
an overpowering dread of future torments, or an intense 
realisation of future happiness, is the leading motive of 
action, the theological virtue of faith may be present, but 
the ennobling quaUty of disinterestedness is assuredly ab- 
sent In our day, when pictures of rewards and punish* 
ments beyond the grave act but feebly upon the imaginar 
tion, a religious motive is commonly an unselfish motive; 
but it has not always been so, and it was imdoubtedly not 
so in the first period of asceticism. The terrors of a 
future judgment drove the monk into the desert, and 
the whole tenor of the ascetic life, while isolating him 
from human sympathies, fostered an intense, though.it 
may be termed a religious selfidmess. 

The effect of the mortification of the domestic affections 
upon the general character was probably very pernicious. 
The family circle is the appointed sphere not only for the 
performance of manifest duties, but also for the cultivaticm 
of the affections ; and the extreme ferocity which so often 
characterised the ascetic was the natural consequence of 
the discipUne he imposed upon himself. Severed fi^om 
all other ties, the monks clung with a desperate tenacity 
to their opinions and to their Church, and hated those 
who dissented firom them with all the intensity of men 
whose whole lives were concentrated on a single subject, 
whose ignorance and bigotry prevented them fi:'om con- 
ceiving the possibiUty of any good thing in opposition to 
themselves, and who had made it a main object of their 
discipline to eradicate all natural sympathies and affec- 
tions. We may reasonably attribute to the fierce bio- 
grapher the words of burning hatred of all heretics which 
St. Athanasius puts in the mouth of the dying patriarch of 
the hermits ; ^ but ecclesiastical history, and especially the 

* Life of Antony. See, too, the sentimentfl of St Pachomius, ViL cap. 
xxvii. 

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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 147 

writings of the later Pagans, abundantly prove that the 
sentiment was a geaeral one. To the Christian bishops 
it is mainly due that the wide and general, though not 
perfect recognition of religious liberty in the Koman legis- 
lation was replaced by laws of the most minute and 
stringent intolerance. To the monks, acting as the exe- 
cutive of an omnipresent, intolerant, and aggressive clergy, 
is due an administrative change, perhaps even more im- 
portant than the l^islative change that had preceded it. 
The system of conniving at, neglecting, or despising forms 
of worship that were formally prohibited, which had been 
so largely practised by the sceptical Pagans, and under 
the lax pohce system of the empire, and which is so im- 
portant a fact in the history of the rise of Christianity, 
was absolutely destroyed. Wandering in bands through 
the country, the monks were accustomed to burn the 
temples, to break the idols, to overthrow the altars, to 
engage in fierce conflicts with the peasants, who often 
defended with desperate courage the shrines of their gods. 
It would be impossible to conceive men more fitted for 
the task. Their fierce fanaticism, their persuasion that 
every idol was tenanted by a literal dsBmon, and their 
belief that death inciured in this iconoclastic crusade was 
a form of martyrdom, made them careless of all conse- 
quaices to themselves, while the reverence that attached 
to their profession rendered it scarcely possible for the 
civil power to arrest them. Men who had learnt to look 
with indifference on the tears of a broken-hearted mother, 
and whose ideal was indissolubly connected with the 
degradation of the body, were but little likely to be 
moved either by the pathos of old associations, and of 
reverent, though mistaken worship, or by the gran- 
deiu" of the Serapeum, or the noble statues of Phidias 
and Praxiteles. Sometimes the civil power ordered the 

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148 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

reconstruction of Jewish synagogues or heretical churches 
which had been illegally destroyed ; but the doctrine was 
early maintained, that such a reconstruction was a deadly 
sin. Under Julian some Christians suffered martyrdom 
sooner than be parties to it ; and St. Ambrose from the 
pulpit of Milan, and Simeon StyUtes from his desert pillar, 
united in denouncing Theodosius, who had been guilty of 
issuing this command. 

Another very important moral result to which asceti- 
cism largely contributed, was the depression and some- 
times almost the extinction of the civic virtues. A candid 
examination will show that the Christian civilisations have 
been as inferior to the Pagan ones in civic and intellectual 
virtues as they have been superior to them in the virtues 
of humanity and of chastity. We have already seen that 
one remarkable feature of the intellectual movement that 
preceded Christianity was the gradual decadence of pa- 
triotism. In the early days both of Greece and Eome, the 
first duty enforced was that of a man to his country. 
This was the rudimentary or cardinal virtue of the moral 
type. It gave the tone to the whole system of ethics, and 
(iifferent moral qualities were valued chiefly in propor- 
tion to their tendency to form illustrious citizens. The 
destruction of this spirit in the Eoman Empire was due, 
as we have seen, to two causes— one of them being poli- 
tical and the other intellectual. The political cause was 
the amalgamation of the different nations in one great 
despotism, which gave indeed an ample field for personal 
and intellectual freedom, but extinguished the sentiment 
of nationality and closed almost every sphere of poUtical 
activity. The intellectual cause, which was by no means 
unconnected with the political one, was the growing as- 
cendency of Oriental philosophies, which dethroned the 
active stoicism of the early empire, and placed its ideal 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 149 

of excellence in contemplative virtues and in elaborate 
purifications. By this decline of the patriotic sentiment 
the progress of the new faith was greatly aided. In all 
matters of religion the opinions of men are governed 
much more by their sympathies than by their judgments, 
and it rarely or never happens that a religion which is 
opposed to a strong national sentiment, as Christianity 
was in Judea, as Catholicism and Episcopalian Protes- 
tantism have been in Scotland, and as Anglicanism is even 
now in Ireland, can win the acceptance of the people. 

The relations of Christianity to the sentiment of 
patriotism were from the first very unfortunate. While 
the Christians were, from obvious reascms, completely 
separated from the national spirit of Judea, they found 
themselves equally at variance with the lingering rem- 
nants of Koman patriotism. Rome was to them the power 
of Antichrist, and its overthrow the necessary prelude 
to the millennial reign. They formed an illegal organisa- 
tion, directly opposed to the genius of the empire, an- 
ticipating its speedy destruction, looking back with some- 
thing more than despondency to the fate of the heroes 
who had adorned its past, and refusing resolutely to partici- 
pate in those national spectacles which were the symbols 
and the expressions of patriotic feeling. Though scrupu- 
lously averse to all rebellion, they rarely concealed their 
sentiments, and the whole tendency of their teaching 
was to withdraw men as fer as possible both from the 
functions and the enthusiasm of pubUc Ufe. It was at 
once their confession and their boast, that no interests 
were more indifferent to them than those of their country.^ 
They regarded the lawfulness of taking arms as very 
questionable, and all those proud and aspiring quaUties 

^ ' Nee ulla res aliena magis qiiam publica.' — ^Tertullian, Apol, ch. xxxyiii. 

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160 fflSTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

that constitute the distinctive beauty of the soldier's cha- 
racter as emphatically imchristian. Their home and their 
interests were in another world, and, provided only they 
were unmolested in their worship, they avowed with 
frankness, long after the empire had become Christian, 
that it was a matter of indiflference to them under what 
rule they lived.^ Asceticism, drawing all the enthusiasm of 
Christendom to the desert life, and elevating as an ideal 
the extreme and absolute abnegation of all patriotism,^ 
formed the culmination of the movement, and was im- 
doubtedly one cause of the downfall of the Eoman Em- 
pire. 

There are, probably, few subjects on which popular 
judgments are commonly more erroneous than upon the 
relations between positive religions and moral enthusiasm. 



^ ' Quid interest sub cujus imperio vivat homo moritorusy si iUi qui im- 
peranty ad impia et iniqua non cogrant.' — St Aug. De Civ, Dei, y. 17. 

' * Monachum in patiia sua perfectum esse non posse, perfectum autem 
esse nolle deUnquere est.' — ^Hieron. JEp. ziy. Dean Milmnn well says of a 
later period, ' According to the monastic yiew of Christianitj, the total 
abandonment of the world, with all its ties and duties, as well as its trea- 
sures, its enjoyments, and objects of ambition, adyanced rather than dimi* 
nished the hopes of salyation. Why should they fight for a perilling 
world, from which it was better to be estranged P • . . It is singular, indeed, 
that while we haye seen the Eastern monks turned into fierce undisciplined 
soldiers, perilling their own liyes and shedding the blood of others without 
remorse, in assertion of some shadowy shade of orthodox ezpresdon, hardly 
anywhere do we find them asserting their liberties or their religion with 
intrepid resistance. Hatred of heresy was a more stirring motiye than the 
dread or the danger of Islamism. After the first defeats the Christian mind 
was still further prostrated by the common notion that the inyasion was a 
just and heaven-commissioned visitation ; . . . resistance a vain, almost an 
impious struggle to avert inevitable punishment' — Milman's Zotm Ckris^ 
Hanifyf voL ii. p. 206. Compare Massillou's famous Diwamrs au JRigimtni 
de CaUnat : — ' Ce qu'il y a id de plus deplorable, c'est que dans une vie rude 
et p^nible, dans des emplois dont les devoirs passent quelquefois la rigueur 
des cloitres les plus austdres, vous souffrez toujours en vain pour Fautre vie. 
. . . Dix ans de services out plus us^ votre corps qu'une yie enti^re de p^ni- 
tence . . . un seul jour de ces soufirancesi consacrd au Seigneur^ yous aundt 
peut-Stre yalu un bonheur ^temel.' 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 161 

Religions have, no doubt, a most real power of evoking 
a latent energy which, without their existence, would 
never have been called into action ; but their influence 
is on the whole probably more attractive than creative. 
They supply the channel in which moral enthusiasm 
flows, the banner imder which it is enlisted, the mould 
in which it is cast, the ideal to which it tends. The first 
idea the phrase * a very good man ' would have suggested 
to an early Eoman, would probably have been that of 
great and distinguished patriotism, and the passion and 
interest of such a man in his country's cause were in direct 
proportion to his moral elevation. Ascetic Christianity 
decisively diverted moral enthusiasm into another channel, 
and the civic virtues, in consequence, necessarily declined. 
The extinction of all pubUc spirit, the base treachery and 
corruption pervading every department of the Govern- 
ment, the cowardice of the army, the despicable frivohty 
of character that led the people of Treves, when fresh fix)m 
their burning city, to call for theatres and circuses, and 
the people of Roman Carthage to plunge wildly into the 
excitement of the chariot races, on the very day when 
their city succumbed beneath the Vandal;^ all these 
things coexisted with extraordinary displays of ascetic and 
of missionary devotion. The genius and the virtue that 
might have defended the empire were engaged in fierce 
disputes about the Pelagian controversy, at the very time 
when Attila was encircling Rome with his armies,^ and 
there was no subtlety of theological metaphysics which did 
not kindle a deeper interest in the Christian leaders than 



^ See a yery striking passage in Salvian, De Chibem, Div, lib. vi. 

' Cliateaabriand very truly says^ 'qu*Orose et saint Angustin ^toient 
pins occupy du schisme de Pelage que de la desolation de FAfirique et des 
Gaules.' — £iude$ histor, vi"^ discours^ 2^* partie. The remark might cer- 
tainly be extended much further. 



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152 HISTORY OP EUROPEAN MORALS. 

the throes of their expiring country. The moral enthu* 
siasm that in other days would have fired the armies of 
Eome with an invincible valour, impelled thousands to 
abandon their country and their homes, and consume the 
weary hours in a long routine of useless and horrible 
macerations. When the Goths had captured Kome, St. 
Augustine, as we have seen, pointed with a just pride to 
the Christian Church, which remained an imviolated 
sanctuary during the horrors of the sack, as a proof that 
a new spirit of sanctity and of reverence had descended 
upon the world. The Pagan, in his turn, pointed to what 
he deemed a not less significant fact — the golden statues 
of Valour and of Fortune were melted down to pay the 
ransom to the conquerors.^ Many of the Christians con- 
templated with an indifference that almost amounted to 
complacency what they regarded as the predicted ruin of 
the city of the fallen gods.^ When the Vandals swept 
over Africa, the Donatists, maddened by the persecution of 
the orthodox, received them with open arms, and con- 
tributed their share to that deadly blow.® The immortal 
pass of Thermopylae was surrendered without a struggle to 
the Goths. A Pagan writer accused the monks of having 
betrayed it.^ It is more probable that they had absorbed 
or diverted the heroism that in other days would have 
defended it. The conquest, at a later date, of Egypt by 
the Mahommedans, was in a great measure due to an 
invitation fi:om the persecuted Monophjrsites.^ Subse- 
quent religious wars have again and again exhibited the 

^ ZosimuS; Hist, v. 41. This was on the first occasion when Rome was 
menaced by Alaric. 

3 See Meriyale's Conversion of the Northern Nations, pp. 207-210. 

^ See Sismondii Mist, de la Chute de V Empire romain^ tome i. p. 230. 

^ Eunapius. There is no other authority for the story of the treachery^ 
which is not believed by Gibbon. 

^ Sismondi; JSist. de la Chute de V Empire romain, tome ii. pp. 62-54 ; 
Milman, Hist, of Latin Chistianity, voL ii. p. 213. The Monophysites were 

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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 153 

same phenomenon. The treachery of a religionist to his 
country no longer argued an absence of all moral feeling. 
It had become compatible with the deepest reUgious en- 
thusiasm, and with all the courage of a martyr. 

It is somewhat difficult to form a just estimate of how 
far the attitude assumed by the Church to the barbarian 
invaders has on the whole proved beneficial to mankind. 
The empire, as we have seen, had already been, both 
morally and politically, in a condition of manifest decUne ; 
its fall, though it might have been retarded, could scarcely 
have been averted, and the new religion, even in its most 
superstitious form, while it did much to displace, did also 
much to eUcit moral enthusiasm. It is impossible to deny 
that the Christian priesthood contributed very materially, 
both by their charity and by their arbitration, to mitigate 
the calamities that accompanied the dissolution of the 
empire ; ^ and it is equally impossible to doubt that their 
political attitude greatly increased their power for good. 
Standing between the conflicting forces, almost indifferent 
to the issue, and notoriously exempt from the passions of 
the combat, they obtained with the conqueror, and used 
for the benefit of the conquered, a degree of influence 
they would never have possessed, had they been regarded 
as Koman patriots. Their attitude, however, marked a 
complete, and, as it has proved, a permanent change in 

greatly afflicted because, after the conquest, the Mahommedans tolerated the 
orthodox, who believed that two concurring wills existed in Christ, as well 
as themselyes, who believed that Christ had only one will. In Gaul, the 
orthodox clergy favoured the invasions of the Franks, who alone, of the 
barbarous conquerors of Gaul, were Catholics, and St Aprunculus was obliged 
to fly, the Burgundians desiring to kill him on account of his suspected con- 
nivance with the invaders. (Greg. Tttr, ii. 23.) 

' Dean Milman says of the Church, ' If treacherous to the interests of 
the Roman Empire, it was true to those of mankind.' — Hist, of Christianity, 
vol. iii. p. 48. So Gibbon, < If the decline of the Roman Empire was hastened 
by the conversion of Constantine, the victorious religion broke the violence 
of the &11 and mollified the ferocious temper of the conquerors.' — Ch. xxxviii. 

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154 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

the position assigned to patriotism in the moral scale. It 
has occasionally happened, in later times, that Churches 
have found it for their interest to appeal to this sen- 
timent in their conflict with opposing creeds, or that 
patriots have found the objects of churchmen in harmony 
with their own; and in these cases a fusion of theological 
and patriotic feeling has taken place, in which each has 
intensified the other. Such has heea the effect of the 
conflict between the Spaniards and the Moors, between 
the Poles and the Eussians, between the Scotch Puritans 
and the English Episcopalians, between the Irish Catholics 
and the English Protestants. But patriotism itself, as a 
duty, has never found any place in Christian ethics, and 
a strong theological feehng has usually been directly 
hostile to its growth. Ecclesiastics have no doubt taken 
a very large share in political affairs, but this has been in 
most cases solely v^rith the object of wresting them into 
conformity with ecclesiastical designs; and no other body 
of men have so uniformly sacrificed the interests of their 
country to the interests of their class. For the repug- 
nance between the theological and the patriotic spirit, 
three reasons may, I think, be assigned. The first is that 
tendency of strong rehgious feehng to divert the mind 
from all terrestrial cares and passions, of which the ascetic 
life was the extreme expression, but which has always, 
under different forms, been manifested in the Church. 
The second arises from the fact that each form of theolo- 
gical opinion embodies itself in a visible and organised 
church, with a government, interest, and pohcy of its 
own, and a frontier often intersecting rather than follow- 
ing national boundaries ; and these churches attract to 
themselves the attachment and devotion that would natu- 
rally be bestowed upon our country and its rulers. 
The third reason is, that the saintly and the heroic cha- 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 165 

racters, which represent the ideals of religion and of 
patriotism, are generically different; for although they 
have no doubt many common elements of virtue, the dis- 
tinctive excellence of each is derived from a proportion 
or disposition of qualities altogether different from that of 
the other.^ 

Before dismissing this very important revolution in 
moral history, I may add two remarks. In the first place, 
we may observe that the relation of the two great sdiools 
of morals to active and political life has been completely 
changed. Among the ancients, the Stoics, who regarded 
virtue and vice as generically different from all other 
things, participated actively in public life, and made this 
participation one of the first of duties, while the Epicu- 
reans, who resolved virtue into utility, and esteemed hap- 
piness its supreme motive, abstained from public life, 
and taught their disciples to n^lect it. Asceticism fol- 
lowed the stoical school in teaching that virtue and 
happiness are generically different things ; but it was at 
the same time eminently unfavourable to civic virtue. 
'On the other hand, that great industrial movement which 
has arisen since the abolition of slavery, and which has 
always been essentially utihtarian in its spirit, has been 
one of the most active and influential elements of political 
progress. This change, though, as far as I know, entirely 

' Observe with what a fine perception St Augustine notices the essen- 
tially unchristian character of the moral dispositions to which the greatness 
of Rome was due. He quotes the sentence of Sallust : ' Civitas, incredibile 
memoratu est, adept! libertate quantum brevi creverit, tanta cupido glori» 
incesserat ; ' and adds, ' Ista ergo laudis aviditas et cupido glorin multa ilia 
miranda fecit, laudabilia scilicet atque gloriosa secundum hominum ezistima- 
tionem . . . causa honoris, laudis et glori» oonsuluerunt patrisB, in qua ipsam 
gloriam requirebant, salutemque ejus saluti suse prseponere non dubitaverunt^ 
pro isto uno vitio, id est, amore laudis, pecuniae cupiditatem et multa alia 
Titia comprimentes. • . . Quid aliud amarent quam gloriam, qua volebant 
etiam post mortem tanquam Tivere in ore laudantium P ' — De Civ. Dei, 
v. 12-18. 



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156 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

unnoticed by historians, constitutes, I believe, one of the 
great landmarks of moral history. 

The second observation I would make relates to the 
estimate we form of the value of patriotic actions. How- 
ever much an historian may deare to extend his researches 
to the private and domestic virtues of a people, civic 
virtues are always those which must appear most promi- 
nently in his pages. History is concerned only with large 
bodies of men. The systems of philosophy or religion, 
which produce splendid results on the great theatre of 
pubhc life, are fully and easily appreciated, and readers 
and writers are both hable to give them very undue ad-^ 
vantages over those systems which do not favour civic 
virtues, but exercise their beneficial influence in the more 
obscure fields of individual self-culture, domestic morals, 
or private charity. If valued by the self-sacrifice they 
imply, or by their effects upon human happiness, these 
last rank very high, but they scarcely appear in history, 
and they therefore seldom obtain their due weight in 
historical comparisons. Christianity has, I think, suffered 
peculiarly fi:om this cause. Its moral action has always 
been much more powerful upon individuals than upon 
societies, and the spheres in which its superiority over 
other religions is most incontestable, are precisely those 
which history is least capable of realising. 

In attempting to estimate the moral condition of the 
Boman and Byzantine Empires during the Christian 
period, and before the old civihsation had been dissolved 
by the barbarian or Mohammedan invasions, we must 
continually bear this last consideration in mind. We 
must remember, too, that Christianity had acquired the 
ascendency among nations which were already deeply 
tainted by the inveterate vices of a corrupt and decaying 
civilisation, and also that many of the censors from whose 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO OHARLEMAGNR ISf 

pages we are obliged to form our estimate of the age were 
men who judged human frailties with all the fastidious- 
ness of ascetics, and who expressed their judgments with 
all the declamatory exaggeration of the pulpit. Modem 
critics will probably not lay much stress upon the relapse 
of the Christians into the ordinary dress and usages of the 
luxurious society about them, upon the ridicule thrown 
by Christians on those who still adhered to the primitive 
austerity of the sect, or upon the fact that multitudes 
who were once mere nominal Pagans had become mere 
nominal Christians. We find, too, a frequent disposition 
on the part of moralists to single out some new form of 
luxury, or some trivial custom which they regarded as 
indecorous, for the most extravagant denunciation, and to 
magnify its importance in a manner which in a later age 
it is difficult even to imderstand. Examples of this kind 
may be found both in Pagan and in Christian writings, 
and they form an extremely curious page in the his- 
tory of morals. Thus Juv6nal exhausts his vocabulary 
of invective in denouncing the atrocious criminahty of a 
certain noble, who in the very year of his consulship did 
not hesitate — ^not, it is true, by day, but at least in the 
sight of the moon and of the stars — ^with his own hand to 
drive his own chariot along the public road.^ Phny 
assures us that the most monstrous of all criminals waa 
the man who first devised the luxurious custom of wear- 
ing golden rings.^ Apuleius was compelled to defend 



1 * Pneter majoroin cineres atqae ossa, Tolacri 

Carpento rapitur pinguis DamasippuB et ipse^ 
Ipse rotam stringit multo sufflamine consid ; 
Nocte quidem ; sed luna videt^ sed sidera testes 
Intendunt oculos. Finitum tempos honoris 
Quum fuerity clara Damasippus luce flageUum 
Sumet* — Juvenal, Sat, viiL 146. 

' ' Pesdmum yitae scelus fecit, qui id [aurum] primus induit digitis. 



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168 raSTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

himself for having eulogised tooth-powder, and he did so, 
among other ways, by arguing that nature has justified 
this form of propriety, for crocodiles were known perio- 
dically to leave the waters of the Nile, and to lie with 
open jaws upon the banks, while a certain bird proceeds 
with its beak to clean their teeth.^ If we were to mea- 
sure the degree of criminality of the different customs 
of the time by the vehemence of the patristic denuncia- 
tions, we might almost conclude that the most atrocious 
offence of their day was the custom of wearing false hair, 
or dyeing natural hair. Clement of Alexandria ques- 
tioned whether the vaUdity of certain ecclesiastical cere- 
monies might not be affected by wigs ; for he asked, when 
the priest is placing his hand on the head of the person 
who kneels before him, if that hand is resting upon false 
hair, who is it he is really blessing? TertuUian shuddered 
at the thought that Christians might have the hair of 
those who were in hell upon their heads, and he found in 
the tiers of false hair that were in use a distinct rebellion 
against the assertion that no one can add to his stature, 
and in the custom of dyeing the hair, a contravention of 
the declaration that man cannot make one hair white 
or black. Centuries rolled away. The Boman Empire 
tottered to its faD, and floods of vice and sorrow over- 
spread the world ; but still the denunciations of the Fathers 
were unabated. St. Ambrose, St. Jerome, and St. Gregory 
Nazianzen continued with uncompromising vehemence the 
war against false hair, which TertuUian and Clement of 
Alexandria had began.^ 

quisquis primus instituit canctanter id fedt, hdjiaqae manibus^ latentibua- 
qae induit' — Plin. Hist. Nat. xxxiii. 4. 

^ See a curious passage in his Apologia. It should be said that we have 
only his own account of the charges brought against him. 

' The histo^ of false hair has been written with much learning by M. 
Guerle in his Mlope des JPerruqttes* 



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FROM CONSTANTINB TO CHARLEMAGNE. 169 

But' although the vehemence of the Fathers on such 
trivial matters might appear at first sight to imply the 
existence of a society in which grave corruption was rare, 
such a conclusion would be totally untrue. The pictures 
of the Boman society by Ammianus Marcellinus, of the 
society of Marseilles, by Salvian, of the society of Asia 
Minor and of Constantinople, by Chrysostom, as well as 
the whole tenor of history, and innumerable incidental 
notices in the writers of the time, exhibit, after every le- 
gitimate allowance has been made, a condition of depra- 
vity, and especially of d^radation, which few societies have 
surpassed.* The corruption had reached classes and in- 
stitutions that appeared the most holy. The Agapae, or 
love feasts, which formed one of the most touching sym- 
bols of Christian unity, had become scenes of drunkenness 
and of riot. Denounced by the Fathers, condemned by 
the Council of Laodicea in the fourth century, and after- 
wards by the Council of Carthage, they lingered as a 
scandal and an ofience till they were finally suppressed 
by the Council of Trullo, at the end of the seventh cen- 
tury.* The commemoration of the martyrs soon degene- 
rated into scandalous dissipation. Fairs were held on the 
occasion, gross breaches of chastity were frequent, and 
the annual festival was suppressed on account of the im- 
morality it produced.® The ambiguous position of the 
clergy with reference to marriage already led to grave 
disorder. In the time of St. Cyprian, before the outbreak 
of the Decian persecution, it had been common to find 

> The fallest view of this age is given in a very learned little work by 
Peter Erasmofl Miiller (1797), De Oemo JBvi Theodosuad, Montfaucon 
lias also devoted two esBajs to the moral condition of the Eastern world, 
one of which is given in Jortin's Bemarks an EccletiasUctd Htstan/. 

' See on these abuses Mosheimi EccL Hid. (Soame*s ed.), voL L p. 463 \ 
Cave's Primitive Ckristianiti/, part i. ch. xi. 

* Cave's PrimUiv§ Christianity j part L ch. viL 



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160 mSTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

clergy professing celibacy, but keeping, under various 
pretexts, their mistresses in their houses ;^ and, after Con- 
stantine, the complaints on this subject became loud and 
general.^ Virgins and monks often lived together in the 
same house, and with a curious audacity of hypocrisy, 
which is very frequently noticed, they professed to have so 
overcome the passions of their nature that they shared in 
chastity the same bed.® Eich widows were surrounded by 
swarms of clerical sycophants, who addressed* them in ten- 
der diminutives, studied and consulted their every foible, 
and, under the guise of piety, lay in wait for their gifts or 
bequests.* The evil attained such a point, that a law was 
made under Valentinian, depriving the Christian priests 
and monks of that power of receiving legacies which was 



* Evagrius describes with much admiration how certain monks of Pales* 
tine; by * a life wholly excellent and diyine/ had so overcome their passions 
that they were accustomed to bathe with women ; for neither sight nor 
touch, nor a woman's embrace, could make them relapse into their natural 
condition. Among men they desired to be men^ and among women^ 
women.' (JT. K i. 21.) 

' These * Muliers Subintroductae/ as they were called, are continually 
noticed by Cyprian, Jerome, and Chrysostom. See Miiller, De Genio Evi 
Theodo9ianiy and also the Codex Theod. xvi. tit ii. lex 44, with the Com- 
ments. Dr. Todd, in his learned Life of St Patrick (p. 91), quotes (I shall 
not venture to do so) from the Lives of the Irish Saints an extremely curious 
legend of a kind of contest of sanctity between St. Scuthinus and St 
Brendan, in which it was clearly proved that the former had mastered the 
passions of the flesh more completely than the latter. An enthusiast named 
Eobert d'Arbrisselles is said in the twelfth century to have revived the old 
custom. (Jortin's Hemarks, a.d. 1106.) 

* St Jerome gives (Ep, lii.) an extremely curious picture of these clerical 
flatteries, and several examples of the terms of endearment they were a(>- 
customed to employ. The tone of flattery which St Jerome himself, though 
doubtless with the purest motives, employs in his copious correspondence 
with his female admirers, is to a modem layman peculiarly repulsive, and 
sometimes verges upon blasphemy. In his letter to Eustochium, whose 
daughter as a nun had become the ' bride of Christ,' he calls the mother 
^ Socrus Dei,' the mother-in-law of God. See, too, the extravagant flat- 
teries of Chrysostom in his correspondence with Olympias. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 161 

possessed by every other class of the community ; and St. 
Jerome has mournfully acknowledged that the prohibi- 
tion was necessary.^ Great multitudes entered the Chmrch 
to avoid mimicipal offices ; * the deserts were crowded 
with men whose sole object was to escape from honest 
labour, and even soldiers used to desert their colours for 
the monasteries.* Noble ladies, pretending a desire to 
live a life of continence, abandoned their husbands to live 
with low-bom lovers.* Palestine, which soon became the 
centre of pilgrimages, had become, in the time of St. Gre- 
gory of Nyssa, a hotbed of debauchery.^ The evil repu- 
tation of pilgrimages long continued ; and in the eighth 
century we find St. BonifEtce writing to the Archbishop 
of Canterbury, imploring the English bishops to take some 
measures to restrain or regulate the pilgrimages of their 
feUow-countrywomen ; for there were few towns in cen- 
tral Europe, on the way to Eome, where English ladies, 
who started as pilgrims, were not living in open prostitu- 
tion.^ The luxury and ambition of the higher prelates, 

* ' Pudet dicere sacerdotes idolorum, mimi et aurigsd et scorta haereditates 
capiunt ; solis dericis et monachis boc lege prohibetur^ et prohibetar non 
a peraecatoribusy sed a prindpibus CbristiaDis. Nee de lege conqueror sed 
doleo cor meruerimus banc legem.' — Ep, lii. 

> See Milman's Hid, of Early Chrutianity, vol. ii. p. 314. 

* This was one cause of the disputes between St. Gregory the Great and 
the Emperor Eustace. St Chrysostom fr^uently notices the opposition of 
the military and the monastic spirits. 

* Hieron. Ep, cxxriii. 

* St Greg. Nyss. Ad eund, Hteros. Some Cathdic writers have at- 
tempted to throw doubt upon the genuineness of this epistle, but, Dean 
Milman thinks^ with no sufficient reason. Its account of Jerusalem is to 
some extent corroborated by St Jerome. (Ad FauHnum, Ep, xxix.) 

* * Prasteroa non taceo charitati yestrse, quia omnibus sends Dei qui hie 
yel in Scriptura vel in timore Dei probatissimi esse videntur, displicet quod 
bcmum et honestas et pudicitia vestne ecclesisd illuditur; et aliquod leva- 
mentum turpitudinis esset, si prohiberet synodus et principes vestri mulier- 
ibus et velatis feminis illud iter et frequentiam, quam ad Romanam dvi- 
tatem reniendo et redeundo faciunt, quia magna ex parte pereunt, paucis 
remeantibus integris. Perpaucse enim sunt dyitates in Longobardia yel 

VOL. IL M 



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162 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

and the passion for amusements of the inferior priests/ were 
bitterly acknowledged St. Jerome complained that the 
banquets of many bishops eclipsed in splendour those of 
the provincial governors, and the intrigues by which they 
obtained oflSces, and the fierce partisanship of their sup- 
porters, appear in every page of ecclesiastical history. 

In the lay world, perhaps the chief characteristic was 
extreme childishness. The moral enthusiasm was greater 
than it had been in most periods of Paganism, but, being 
drawn away to the desert, it had little influence upon 
society. The simple fact that the quarrels between the 
factions of the chariot races for a long period eclipsed all 
political, inteUectual, and even religious differences, filled 
the streets s^ain and again with bloodshed, and more than 
once determined great revolutions in the State, is suflScient 
to show the extent of the decadence. Patriotism and cou- 
rage had almost disappeared, and notwithstanding the 
rise of a Belisarius or a Narses, the level of public men 
was extremely depressed. The luxury of the court, the 
servility of the courtiers, and the prevailing splendour of 
dress and of ornament, had attained an extravagant 
height. The world grew accustomed to a dangerous alter- 
nation of extreme asceticism and gross vice, and some- 
times, as in the case of Antioch,^ it was the most vicious 
and luxurious cities that produced the most numerous 
anchorites. There existed a combination of vice and 
superstition which is eminently prejudicial to the nobility, 
though not equally detrimental to the happiness of man. 
Public opinion was so low, that very many forms of vice 
attracted httle condemnation and punishment, while un- 

in Francia aut in Gallia in qua non sit adultera yel meretrix generis 
Anglorum, quod scandalum est et turpitudo totius ecclesiaa yestrse/ — (a.d. 
745) Ep. Ixiii. 

' See Milman*s Z<Um Christianity ^ vol. ii. p. 8. 

^ TiUemont, Hist, eccl, tome xi. p. 547. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 163 

doubted beli^ in the absolving efficacy of superstitious 
rites calmed the imagination and allayed the terrors of 
conscience. There was more falsehood and treachery 
than under the Caesars, but there was much less cruelty, 
violence, and shamelessness. There was also less pubUc 
spirit, less independence of character, less intellectual free* 
dom. 

In some respects, however, Christianity had already 
effected a great improvement. The gladiatorial games 
had disappeared from the West, and had not been intro- 
duced into Constantinople. The vast schools of prostitution 
which had grown up under the name of temples of Venus 
were suppressed. Eehgion, however deformed and de- 
based, was at least no longer a seedplot of depravity, and 
under the influence of Christianity the effrontery of vice 
had in a great measure disappeared. The gross and ex- 
travagant indecency of representation, of which we have 
still examples in the paintings on the walls and the signs 
on many of the portals of Pompeii ; the banquets of rich 
patricians, served by naked girls ; the hideous excesses of 
unnatural lust, in which some of the Pagan emperors had 
indulged with so much publicity, were no longer tole- 
rated. Although sensuality was very general, it was less 
obtrusive, and unnatural and eccentric forms had become 
rare. The presence of a great Church, which, amid much 
superstition and fanaticism, still taught a pure morality, 
and enforced it by the strongest motives, was everywhere 
felt — controlling, strengthening, or overawing. The ec- 
clesiastics were a great body in the State. The cause of 
virtue was strongly organised : it drew to itself the best 
men, determined the course of vacillating but amiable 
natures, and placed some restraint upon the vicious. A 
bad man might be insensible to the moral beauties of re- 
ligion, but he was still haunted by the recollection of its 

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164 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

threatenings. If he emancipated himself from its influence 
in health and prosperity, its power returned in periods of 
sickness or danger, or on the eve of the commission of 
some great crime. If he had nerved himself against all 
its terrors, he was at least checked and governed at every 
turn by the pubhc opinion which it had created. That 
total absence of all restraint, all decency, and all fear and 
remorse, which had been evinced by some of the mon- 
sters of crime who occupied the Pagan throne, and which 
proves most strikingly the decay of the Pagan religion, was 
no longer possible. The virtue of the best Pagans was 
perhaps of as high an order as that of the best Chris- 
tians, though it was of a somewhat different type, but the 
vice of the worst Pagans certainly far exceeded that of 
the worst Christians, The pulpit had become a powerful 
centre of attraction, and charities of many kinds were 
actively developed. 

The moral effects of the first great outburst of asceticism, 
as far as we have as yet traced them, appear almost xm- 
mingled evils. In addition to the essentially distorted 
ideal of perfection it produced, the simple withdrawal 
from active life of that moral enthusiasm which is the 
leaven of society was extremely pernicious, and there can 
be little doubt that to this cause we must in a great 
degree attribute the conspicuous failure of the Church, 
for some centuries, to effect any more considerable ame- 
lioration in the moral condition of Europe. There were, 
however, some distinctive excellencies springing even 
from the first phase of asceticism, which, although they 
do not, as I cx>nceive, suffice to coimterbalance these evils, 
may justly qualify our censure. 

The first condition of all really great moral excellence 
is a spirit of genuine self-sacrifice and self-renunciation. 
The habits of compromise, moderation, reciprocal self- 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE, 166 

restraint, gentleness, courtesy, and refinement, which are 
appropriate to luxurious or utilitarian civilisations, are 
very favourable to the development of many secondary 
virtues; but there is in human nature a capacity for a 
higher and more heroic reach of excellence, which 
demands very different spheres for its display, accustoms 
men to far nobler aims, and exercises a far greater attrac- 
tive influence upon mankind. Imperfect and distorted 
as was the ideal of the andionte ; deeply, too, as it was per- 
verted by the admixture of a spiritual selfishness, still the 
example of many thousands, who, in obedience to what 
they believed to be right, voluntarily gave up everything 
that men hold dear, cast to the winds every compromise 
with enjoyment, and made extreme self-abnegation the 
very principle of their lives, was not wholly lost upon 
the world. At a time when increasing riches had pro- 
foundly tainted the Church, they taught men *to love 
labour more than rest, and ignominy more than glory, 
and to give more than to receive/^ At a time when 
the passion for ecclesiastical dignities had become the 
scandal of the empire, they systematically abstained from 
them, teaching, in their quaint but energetic language, 
that * there are two classes a monk should especially 
avoid — ^bishops and women.' ^ The very eccentricities of 
their lives, their uncouth forms, their horrible penances, 
won the admiration of rude men, and the superstitious 
reverence thus excited gradually passed to the charity and 
the self-denial which formed the higher elements of the 
monastic character. Multitudes of barbarians were con- 
verted to Christianity at the sight of St. Simeon Stylites. 

' This was enjoined in the rule of St. Paphnutius. See TiUemont, 
tome z. p. 45. 

* ' Omnimodis monacliam fugere debere mulieres et episcopos.' — Gasman, 
pe Ccefiob. Inst. xi. 17, 

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166 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

The hennit, too, was speedily idealised by the popular 
imagination. The more repulsive features of his life and 
appearance were forgotten. He was thought of only as an 
old man with long white beard and gentle aspect, weaving 
his mats beneath the palm-trees, while daemons vainly 
tried to distract him by their stratagems, and the wild 
beasts grew tame in his presence, and every disease and 
every sorrow vanished at his word. The imagination 
of Christendom, fascinated by this ideal, made it the 
centre of countless l^ends, usually very childish, and 
occasionally, as we have seen, worse than childish, yet full 
of beautiful touches of human nature, and often convey- 
ing admirable moral lessons.^ Nursery tales, which first 
determine the course of the infant imagination, play no 
inconsiderable part in the history of humanity. In the 
fable of Psyche — that bright tale of passionate love with 
which the Greek mother lulled her child to rest — ^Pagan 
antiquity has bequeathed us a single specimen of trans- 
cendent beauty, and the lives of the saints of the desert 
often exhibit an imagination different indeed in kind, but 
scarcely less brilliant in its display. St. Antony, we are 
told, was thinking one night that he was the best man in 
the desert, when it was revealed to him that there was 
another hermit far holier than himself. In the morning 
he started across the desert to visit this unknown saint 
He met first of all a centaur, and afterwards a little man 

^ We also find now and then, though I think very rarely, intellectiial 
flashes of some hrilliancj. Two of them strike me as especially note- 
worthy. St Arsenius refused to separate young criminals from com- 
munion, though he had no hesitation ahout old men ; for he had observed 
that young men speedily get accustomed and indifferent to the state of 
excommunication, while old men feel continually, and acutely, the separa- 
tion. (Socrates, iv. 23.) St. ApoUonius explained the Egyptian idolatry 
with the most intelligent rationalism. The ox, he thought, was in the 
first instance worshipped for its domestic uses ; the Nile, because it was the 
chief cause of the fertility of the soil, &c (Kufinus, Sid. Man, cap. tIL) 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 167 

with horns and goat's feet, who said that he was a faun ; and 
these, having pointed out the way, he arrived at last at his 
destination. St. Paul the hermit, at whose cell he stopped, 
was one hundred and thirteen years old, and, having been 
living for a very long period in absolute soUtude, he at first 
refused to admit the visitor, but at last consented, embraced 
him, and began, with a very pardonable curiosity, to ques- 
tion him minutely about the world he had left ; * whether 
there was much new building in the towns, what empire 
ruled the world, whether there were any idolaters remain- 
ing?' The colloquy was interrupted by a crow, which 
came with a loaf of bread, and St. Paul, observing that dur- 
ing the last sixty years his daily allowance had been only 
half a loaf, declared that this was a proof that he had done 
right in admitting Antony. The hermits returned thanks, 
and sat down together by the mai^ of a glassy stream. 
But now a difficulty arose. Neither could bring himself 
to break the loaf before the other. St. Paul alleged that 
St. Antony, being his guest, should take the precedence ; 
but St. Antony, who was only ninety years old, dwelt 
upon the greater age of St. PauL So scrupulously pohte 
were these old men, that they passed the entire afternoon 
disputing on this weighty question, till at last, when the 
evening was drawing in, a happy thought struck them, 
and, each holding one end of the loaf, they pulled together. 
To abridge the story, St. Paul soon died, and his com- 
panion, being a weak old man, was unable to bury him, 
when two lions came fi:om the desert and dug the grave 
with their paws, deposited the body in it, raised a loud howl 
of lamentation, and then knelt down submissively before 
St. Antony, to beg a blessing. The authority for this 
history is no less a person than St. Jerome, who relates 
it as hterally true, and intersperses his narrative with 
severe reflections on all who might question his accuracy. 



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168 mSTORY OF EUROPEAN MORA.LS. 

The historian Palladius assures us that he heard from 
the lips of St. Macarius of Alexandria an account of 
a pilgrimage which that saint had made, imder the 
impulse of curiosity, to visit the enchanted garden of 
Jannes and Jambres, tenanted by daemons. For nine 
days Macarius traversed the desert, directing his course 
by the stars, and, from time to time, fixing reeds in the 
ground, as landmarks for his return; but this pre- 
caution proved useless, for the devils tore up the reeds, 
and placed them during the night by the head of the 
sleeping saint. As he drew near the garden, seventy 
daemons of various forms came forth to meet him, and 
reproached him for disturbing them in tiieir homa St. 
Macarius promised simply to walk round and inspect the 
wonders of the garden, and then depart without doing it 
any injury. He fulfilled his promise, and a journey of 
twenty days brought him again to his eell.^ Other legends 
are, however, of a less fantastic nature ; and many of 
them display, though sometimes in very whimsical forms, 
a spirit of courtesy which seems to foreshadow the later 
chivalry, and some of them contain striking protests 
against the very superstitions that were most prevalent. 
When St. Macarius was sick, a bunch of grapes was once 
given to him, but his charity impelled him to give them to 
another hermit, who in his turn refiised to keep them, 
and at last, having made the circuit of the entire desert, 
they were returned to the saint.^ The same saint, whose 
usual beverage was putrid water, never failed to drink 
wine when set before him by the hermits he visited, 
atoning privately for this relaxation, which he thought 
the laws of courtesy required, by abstaining from water 



1 PalladiuS; Hist. Laus, cap. six. 
* RufinuS; Hid. Mmach, cap. xzix. 



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. FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 169 

for as many days as he had drunk glasses of wine.^ One 
of his disciples once meeting an idolatrous priest running 
in great haste across the desert, holding a great stick in 
his hand, cried out in a loud voice, * Where are you 
going, daemon ? ' The priest, naturally indignant, beat the 
Christian severely, and was proceeding on his way, when 
he met St. Macarius, who accosted him so courteously 
and so tenderly, that the Pagan's heart was touched, he 
became a convert, and his first act of charity was to tend 
the Christian whom he had beaten.^ St. Avitus being on a 
visit to St. Marcian, this latter saint placed before him some 
l»read, which Avitus refused to eat, saying that it was his 
custom never to touch food till after simset. St Marcian 
professing his own inabiUty to defer his repast, implored 
his guest for once to break this custom, and being refused, 
Gfcdaimed, ^ Alas ! I am filled with anguish that you 
have come here to see a wise man and a saint, and you 
see only a glutton.' St. Avitus was grieved, and said, * he 
would rather even eat flesh than hear such words,' and he 
sat down as desired. St. Marcian then confessed that his 
own custom was the same as that of his brother saint ; 
* but,' he added, * we know that charity is better than 
fasting ; for charity is enjoined by the Divine law, but 
fasting is left in our own power and will.'^ St. Epipha- 
nius having invited St. Hilarius to his cell, placed before 
him a dish of fowL * Pardon me, father/ said St Hilarius, 
' but since I have become a monk I have never eaten 
flesh.' * And I,' said St Epiphanius, ' since I have become 
a monk have never sufiered the sun to go down upon my 
wrath.' * Your rule,' rejoined the other, ' is more ex- 
cellent than mine.' * While a rich lady was courteously 

> TiUemont, BSd. ecd. tome yiii. pp. 58d-^d4. 

* Ibid. p. 689. s Theodoret, PkHoth. cap. iii. 

^ Verba Semorunu 



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170 mSTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

fulfilling the duties of hospitality to a monk, her child, 
whom she had for this purpose left, fell into a welL It 
lay unharmed upon the surfece of the water, and after- 
wards told its mother that it had seen the arms of the 
saint sustaining it below.^ At a time when it was the 
custom to look upon the marriage state with profound 
contempt, it was revealed to St Macarius of Egypt, that 
two married women in a neighbouring city were more 
holy than he was. The saint immediately visited them, 
and asked their mode of life, but they utterly repudiated 
the notion of their sanctity. *Holy father,' they said, 
* suflfer us to tell you frankly the truth. Even this very 
night we did not shrink from sleeping with our husbands, 
and what good works, then, can you expect from us?' 
The saint, however, persisted in his inquiries, and they 
then told him their stories. * We are,' they said, * in no 
way related, but we married two brothers. We have 
lived together for fifteen years, without one hcentious ot 
angry word. We have entreated our husbands to let us 
leave them, to join the societies of holy virgins, but they 
refused to permit us, and we then promised before Heaven 
that no worldly word should sully our lips.' * Of a truth,' 
cried St. Macarius, * I see that God regards not whether 
one is virgin or married, whether one is in a monast^ 
or in the world. He considers only the disposition of the 
heart, and gives the Spirit to all who desire to serve Him, 
whatever their condition may be.' * 

I have multipUed these illustrations to an extent that 
must, I fear, have already somewhat taxed the patience 
of my readers ; but the fact that, during a long period of 
history, these saintly l^ends formed the ideals guiding 
the imagination and reflecting the moral sentiment of 



1 Theodotet, Philoth. cap. ii. 

' TillemoDt^ tome viii. pp. 594-595. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNR 171 

the Christian world, gives them an importance far be- 
yond their intrinsic vdue. Before dismissing the saints 
of the desert, there is one other class of legends to 
which I desire to advert. I mean those which describe 
the connection between saints and the animal world. 
These l^ends are, I think, worthy of special notice in 
moral history, as representing probably the firsts and at 
the same time one of the most striking efforts ever 
made in Christendom to inculcate a feeling of kindness 
and pity towards the brute creation. In Pagan antiquity, 
considerable steps had been made to raise this form of 
humanity to a recognised branch of ethics. The way 
had been prepared by numerous anecdotes growing for 
the most part out of simple ignorance of natural history, 
which all tended to diminish the chasm between men and 
ammals, by representing the latter as possessing to a very 
high degree both moral and rational qualities. Elephants, 
it was believed, were endowed not only with reason and 
benevolence, but also with reverential feelings. They wor- 
shipped the sun and moon, and in the forests of Mauri- 
tania were accustomed to assemble every new moon, 
at a certain river, to perform rehgious rites.^ The hip- 
popotamus taught men the medidnal value of bleeding, 
being accustomed, when affected by plethory, to bleed 
itself with a thorn, and afterwards close the wound with 
dime.^ Pelicans committed suidde to feed tlieir young, 
and bees, when they had broken the laws of their sove- 
reign.* A temple was erected at Sestoe to o(Hnmemorate 
the affection of an eagle which loved a young girl, and 

' Pliny, Hid, Nat, tuL 1. Many anecdotes of elepliants are ooUected 
{riii. 1-12). See, too, IHon Casaius, xxzix. 38. 

« Pliny, viii. 40. 

' Donne*8 BiathtmatoSj p. 22. This liabit of bees is mentioned by St 
Ambrose. The pelican, as is well known, afterwards became an emblem 
of Christ 



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172 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

upon her death cast itself in despair into the flames by 
which her body was consumed.^ Numerous anecdotes 
are related of faithful dogs which refused to survive 
their masters, and one of these had, it was said, been 
transformed into the dog-star.^ The dolphin, especially, 
became the subject of many beautiful legends, and its 
affection for its young, for music, and above all for little 
children, excited the admiration not only of the populace, 
but of the most distinguished naturahsts.^ Many philo- 
sophers also ascribed to animals a rational soul, like that 
of man. According to the Pythagoreans, human souls 
transmigrate after death into animals. According to the 
Stoics and others, the souls of men and animals were 
alike parts of the all-pervading Divine Spirit that ani- 
mates the world.* 

We may even find traces from an early period of a 
certain measure of legislative protection for animals. By 
a very natural process, the ox, as a principal agent in 
agriculture, and therefore a kind of symbol of civilisation, 
was in many different countries r^arded with a peculiar 
reverence. The sanctity attached to it in Egypt is well 
known. That tenderness to animals, which is one of the 
most beautiful features in the Old Testament writings, 
shows itself, among other ways, in the command not to 
muzzle the ox that treadeth out the com, or to yoke to- 
gether the ox and the ass.^ Among the early Eomans, 

» Plin. Hid. Nat. x. 6. 

' A long list of legends about dogs is given by Legendie, in the yeij 
carious chapter on animals, in his TraUi de FOpimon, tome i. pp. 808-327. 

' Pliny teUs some extremely pretty stories of this kind (Hid. Nat. ix. 
8-0). See, too, Aulus Gellius, xtI. 19. The dolphin, on account of its 
love for its young, became a common symbol of Christ among the early 
Christians. 

^ A very full account of the opinions, both of ancient and modem philo- 
sophers, concerning the souls of animals, is given by Bayle, IHcL arts. 
* Pereira E,' ' Rorarius K.* 

* The Jewish law did not confine its care to oxen. The reader will re* 

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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 173 

the same feeling was carried so far, that for a long time 
it was actually a capital offence to slaughter an ox, that 
animal being pronounced, in a special sense, the fellow- 
labourer of man.^ A similar law is said to have in early 
times existed in Greece.^ The beautiful passage in which 
the Psalmist describes how the sparrow could find a 
shelter and a home in the altar of the temple, was as 
applicable to Greece as to Jerusalem. The sentiment of 
Xenocrates who, when a bird pursued by a hawk took 
refuge in his breast, caressed and finally released it, say- 
ing to his disciples, that a good man should never give 
up a suppUant,' was believed to be shared by the gods, 
and it was regarded as an act of impiety to disturb the 
birds who had built their nests beneath the porticoes of 
the temple.*- A case is related of a child who was even 
put to death on account of an act of aggravated cruelty 
to birds.* 



member the toaching provision/ Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother*8 
milk ' (Deut. xiv. 21) ; and the law forbidding men to take a parent bird 
that was sitting on its young or on its eggs. (Deut xxii. 6-7.) 

^ 'Cujus tanta fuit apud antiquos veneratio, nt tarn capital esset boyem 
neouisse quam civem.' — Columellai lib. vi. in prooem. ' Hie socius hominum 
in rustico opere et Cereris minister. Ab hoc antiqui manus ita abstinere 
Toluerunt ut capite sanxerint si quis occidisset.' — Varro, De Be Rustic, lib. 
ii. cap. y. 

* See Legendre, tome ii. p. 838. The sword with which the priest 
sacrificed the ox was afterwards pronounced accursed. (iElian, Hid, Var, 
lib. TiiL cap. iii.) ' Diog. Laert. Xenocrates, 

* There is a story told in some classical writer^ of an ambassador who 
was sent by his fellow-countrymen to consult the oracle of Apollo about a 
suppliant who had taken refuge in the city, and was demanded with menace 
by the enemies. The oracle, being bribed, enjoined the surrender. The 
ambassador on leaving, with seeming carelessness, disturbed the sparrows 
under the portico of the temple, when the voice from behind the altar 
denounced his impiety for disturbing the guests of the gods. The ambas- 
sador replied with an obvious and withering retort ^lian says (Hid, Var,) 
that the Athenians condemned to death a boy for killing a sparrow that 
had taken refuge in the temple of iEsculapius. 

* Quintillian, Ltd. v. 9. 



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174 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

The general tendency of nations, as they advance 
from a rude ^d warlike to a refined and peaceful con- 
dition, from the stage in which the realising powers are 
faint and dnll, to those in which they are sensitive and 
vivid, is undoubtedly to become more gentle and humane 
in their actions ; but this, like all other general tendencies 
in history, may be coimteracted or modified by many 
special circumstances. The law I have mentioned about 
oxen was obviously one of those that belong to a very 
early stage of progress, when legislators are labouring to 
form agricultural habits among a warlike and nomadic 
people.^ The games in which the slaughter of animals 
bore so large a part, having been introduced but a httle 
before the extinction of the repubhc, did very much to 
arrest or retard the natural progress of humane senti- 
ments. In ancient Greece, besides the bull-fights of Thes- 
saly, the combats of quails and cocks^ were favourite 
amusements, and were much encouraged by the legis- 

1 In the same way we find several chapters in the Zendavesta about the 
criminality of injuring dogs ; which is explained by the great importance of 
shepherds* dogs to a pastoral people. 

' On the origin of Greek cock-fighting, see .^Elian, Hid, Far. ii. 28. 
Many particulars about it are given by Athenssus. Chrysippus maintained 
that cock-fighting was the final cause of cocks, these birds being made by 
Providence in order to inspire us by the exiample of their courage. (Plu- 
tarch, De Eqpug, Stoic*) The Greeks do not, however, appear to have 
known ' cock-throwing,' the favourite lipglish game of throwing a stick called 
a ' cock-stick ' at cocks. It was a very ancient and very popular amusement, 
and was practised especially oi^ Shrove Tuesday, and by school-boys. Sir 
Thomas More had been famous for his skill in it. (Strutt's SporU and 
Pastimes, p. 288.) Three origins of it have been given : — 1st, that in the 
Danish wars the Saxons failed to surprise a certain city^ in consequence of 
the crowing of cocks, and had in consequence a great hatred of that bird ; 
2nd, that the cocks (paUi) were special representatives of Frenchmen, with 
whom the English were constantly at war ; and drd, that they were con- 
nected with the denial of St. Peter. As Sir Charles Sedley said : — 
' Mayst thou be punished for St Peter's crime, 
And on Shrove Tuesday perish in thy prime.' 

Knight's Old JBnffhnd, vol. ii. p. 126. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 176 

ktprs, as furnishing examples of valour to the soldiers. 
The colossal dimensions of the Koman games, the cir- 
cumstances that favoured them, and the overwhelming 
interest they speedily excited, I have described in a for- 
mer chapter. We have seen, however, that notwith- 
standing the gladiatorial shows, the standard of humanity 
towards men was considerably raised during the empire. 
It is also well worthy of notice, that notwithstanding the 
passion for the combats of wild beasts, Eoman literature 
and the later literature of the nations subject to Eome 
abound in delicate touches displaying in a very high de- 
gree a sensitiveness to the feelings of the animal world. 
This tender interest in animal life is one of the most 
distinctive features of the poetry of Virgil. Lucretius, 
who rarely struck the chords of pathos, had at a still 
earlier period drawn a very beautiful picture of the 
sorrows of the bereaved cow, whose calf had been sacri- 
ficed upon the altar.^ Plutarch mentions, incidentally, 
that he could never bring himself to sell, in its old age, 
the ox which had served him faithfully in the time of its 
strength.^ Ovid expressed a similar sentiment with an 
almost equal emphasis.^ Juvenal speaks of a Eoman 
lady with her eyes filled with tears on account of the 
death of a sparrow.* ApoUonius of Tyana, on the ground 

> De Natura jHerum, lib. ii. 

* Life of Marc, Cato. 

* ' Quid meruere boveS; animal sine firaude dolisque, 

Innocuum, mmplex; natum tolerare labores P 
Immemor est demum nee fnigum munere dignus, 
Qui potuit curri dempto modo pondere aratri 
Ruricolam mactare suum.' — Metamarph, xv. 120-124. 

. * 'Cujufl 

Turbavit nitidos eztinctus passer ocellos/ 

Juvenal, Sid. tI. 7-8. 

There is a little poem in Catullus (ui.) to console his mistress upon 
the death of her favourite sparrow *, and Martial more than once alludes to 
the pets of the Roman ladies. 



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176 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

of humanity, refused, even when invited by a king, to par- 
ticipate in the chase,^ Arrian, the friend of Epictetus, in 
his book upon coursing, anticipated the beautiful picture 
which Addison has drawn of the huntsman refiising to 
sacrifice the life of the captured hare which had given 
him so much pleasure in its flight.* 

These touches of feeling, shght as they may appear, 
indicate, I think, a vein of sentiment such as we should 
scarcely have expected to find coexisting with the 
gigantic slaughter of the amphitheatre. The progress, 
however, was not simply one of sentiment — it was also 
shown in distinct and definite teaching. Pythagoras and 
Empedocles were quoted as the founders of this branch of 
ethics. The moral duty of kindness to animals was in 
the first instance based upon a dogmatic assertion of the 
transmigration of souk, and the doctrine that animals are 
within the circle of human duty, being thus laid down, 
subsidiary considerations of humanity were alleged. The 
rapid growth of the Pythagorean school, in the latter 
days of the empire, made these considerations familiar to 
the people.^ Porphyry elaborately advocated, and even 

Compare the channiiig description of the Prioress^ in Chaucer : — 
' She was so charitable and so pitous, 
She wolde wepe if that she saw a mous 
Caughte in a trappe, if it were ded or bledde. 
Of smale houndes had she that she fedde 
With rosted flesh and milke and wastel hrede. 
But sore wept she if on of them were dede. 
Or if men smote it with a yerde smert : 
And all was conscience and tendre herte.^ 

Prologue to the ' Canterbury Take^ 
» Philoet AjhA. i. 88. 

' See the curious chapter in his KvvjiYinjcoc, xvL and compare it with No. 
116 in the BpecialUn\ 

• In his Dc AJMtineniia Camw, The controversy between Origen and 
Celsus furnishes us with a yerj curious illustration of the eztrayagandes 
into which some Pagans of the third century fell about animals. Celsua 
objected to the Christian doctrine about the position of men in the universe; 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 177 

Seneca for a time practised, abstinence from flesh. But 
the most remarkable figure in this movement is unques- 
tionably Plutarch. Casting aside the dogma of transmi- 
gration, or at least speaking of it only as a doubtful 
conjecture, he places the duty of kindness to animals on 
the broad ground of the affections,- and he urges that 
duty with an emphasis and a detail to which no adequate 
parallel can, I believe, be found in the Christian writ- 
ings for at least seventeen hundred years. He condemns 
absolutely the games of the amphitheatres, dwells with 
great force upon the effect of such spectacles in hardening 
the character, enumerates in detail, and denounces with 
unqualified energy, the refined cruelties which gastronomic 
fancies had produced, and asserts in the strongest lan- 
guage that every man has duties to the animal world as 
truly as to his fellow-men.^ 

If we now pass to the Christian Church, we shall find 
that little or no progress was at first made in this 
sphere. Among the Manicheans, it is true, the mixture of 
Oriental notions was shown in an absolute prohibition of 
animal food, and abstinence from this food was also fre- 
quently practised upon totally different grounds by the 
orthodox. One or two of the Fathers have also men- 
tioned with approbation the humane councils of the 
Pythagoreans.^ But, on the other hand, the doctrine of 
transmigration was emphatically repudiated by the Catho- 
lics ; the human race was isolated, by the scheme of re- 



that many of the animals were at least the equals of men both in reason 
and in religioas feeling and knowledge. (Orig. Cont, Ceh. lib. iv.) 

^ These yiews are chiefly defended in his two tracts on eating flesh. 
Plntarch has also recurred to the subject, incidentally, in seyeral other 
works ) especially in a very beautiful passage in his Life of Marcus Cato. 

' See, for example, a striking passage in Clem. Alex. Strom, lib. ii. 
St Clement imagines Pythagoras had borrowed his sentiments on this 
subject from Moses. 

VOL. II. N 



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178 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

demption, more than ever from all other races ; and in the 
range and circle of duties inculcated by the early Fathers 
those to animals had no place. This is indeed the one 
form of humanity which appears more prominently in the 
Old Testament than in the New. The many beautiful 
traces of it in the former, which indicate a sentiment,^ 
even where they do not very strictly define a duty, gave 
way before an ardent philanthropy which regarded human 
interests as the one end, and the relations of man to his 
Creator as the one question of life, and dismissed some- 
what contemptuously, as an idle sentimentahsm, notions of 
duty to animals/^ A refined and subtle sympathy with 
animal feeling is indeed rarely found among those who 
are engaged very actively in the afiairs of life, and it was 
not without a meaning or a reason that Shakspeare placed 
that exquisitely pathetic analysis of the sufferings of the 
wounded stag, which is perhaps its most perfect poetical 
expression, in the midst of the morbid dreamings of the 
diseased and melancholy Jacques. 

But while what are called the rights of animals had no 
place in the ethics of the Church, a feeling of sympathy 
with the irrational creation was in some d^ee inculcated 
indirectly by the incidents of the hagiology. It was very 
natural that the hermit, living in the lonely deserts of the 
East, or in the vast forests of Europe, shoidd come into 

^ There is, I believe, no record of any wild beast combats existing 
among the Jews, and the rabbinical writers have been remarkable for the 
great emphasis with which they inculcated the duty of kindness to animals. 
See some passages from them, cited in Wollaston, Religum of Nature, § ii. 
§ 1, note. Maimonides believed in a future life for animals, to recompense 
them for their sufferings here. (Bayle, Du^, art. ' Korarius D.*) There ia 
a curious collection of the opinions of different writers on this last point 
in a little book called the Rights of Animals, by William Drummond 
(London, 1838), pp. 197-206. 

* Thus St. Paul (1 Cor. ix. 9) turned aside the precept, ' Thou shalt not 
muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the com,' from its natural 
meaning, with the contemptuous question, ' Doth God take care for oxen f ' 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO OHARUSMAGNE. 179 

an intimate connection with the animal world, and it was 
no less natural that the popular imagination, when de- 
picting the hermit life, should make this connection the 
centre of many picturesque and sometimes touching 
legends. The birds, it was said, stooped in their flight at 
the old man's call ; the lion and the hyena crouched sub- 
missively at his feet ; his heart, which was closed to all 
human interests, expanded freely at the sight of some 
suffering animal ; and something of his own sanctity de- 
scended to the companions of his solitude and the objects 
of his miracles. The wild beasts attended St. Theon when 
he walked abroad, and the saint rewarded them by giving 
them drink out of his well. An Egyptian hermit had 
made a beautiful garden in the desert, and used to sit 
beneath the palm-trees while a lion eat fruit from his 
hand. When St. Poemen was shivering in a winter night, 
a lion crouched beside him, and became his covering, 
lions buried St. Paul the hermit and St. Mary of Egypt. 
They appear in the l^ends of St. Jerome, St. Gerasimus, 
St. John the Silent, St. Simeon, and many others. When 
an old and feeble monk, named Zosimas, was on his 
journey to Cassarea, with an ass which bore his pos- 
sessions, a lion seized and devoured the ass, but, at 
the command of the saint, the Hon itself carried the 
burden to the city gates. St. Helenus called a wild ass 
from its herd to bear his burden through the wilder- 
ness. The same saint, as well as St. Pachomius, crossed 
the Nile on the back of a crocodile, as St. Scuthinus did 
the Irish Channel on a sea monster. Stags continually ac- 
companied saints upon their journeys, bore their burdens, 
ploughed their fields, revealed their reUcs. The hunted 
stag was especially the theme of many picturesque legends. 
A Pagan, named Branchion, was once pursuing an ex- 
hausted stag, when it took refuge in a caveni, whose 

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180 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

threshold no inducement could persuade the hounds to 
cross. The astonished hunter entered, and found himself 
in presence of an old hermit, who at once protected the 
fugitive and converted the pursuer. In the legends of 
St Eustachius and St. Hubert, Christ is represented as 
having assumed the form of a hunted stag, which turned 
upon its pursuer, with a crucifix glittering on its brow, 
and, addressing him with a human voice, converted him 
to Christianity. In the full frenzy of a chase, hounds and 
stags stopped and knelt down together to venerate the 
relics of St Fingar. On the festival of St Eegulus, the wild 
stags assembled at the tomb of the saint, as the ravens 
used to do at that of St ApoUinar of Eavenna. St. Eras- 
mus was the special protector of oxen, and they knelt 
down voluntarily before his shrine. St Anthony was the 
protector of hogs, who were usually introduced into his 
pictures. St Bridget kept pigs, and a wild boar came 
from the forest to subject itself to her rule. A horse fore- 
shadowed by its lamentations the death of St. Columba. 
The three companions of St Colman were a cock, a mouse, 
and a fly. The cock announced the hour of devotion, 
the mouse bit the ear of the drowsy saint tiU he got up, 
and if in the course of his studies he was afiSicted by any 
wandering thoughts, or called away to other business, the 
fly alighted on the line where he had left off*, and kept 
the place. Legends, not without a certain whimsical 
beauty, described the moral quahties existing in animals. 
A hermit was accustomed to share his supper with a 
wolf, which, one evening entering the cell before the 
return of the master, stole a loaf of bread. Struck with 
remorse, it was a week before it ventured again to visit 
the cell, and when it did so, its head hung down, and its 
whole demeanour manifested the most profound contri- 
tion. The hermit ' stroked with a gentle hand its bowed 

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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 181 

down head/ and gave it a double portion as a token of 
forgiveness. A lioness knelt down with lamentations 
before another saint, and then led him to its cub, which 
was blind, but which received its sight at the prayer 
of the saint. Next day the lioness returned, bearing 
the skin of a wild beast as a mark of its gratitude. Nearly 
the same thing happened to St. Macarius of Alexandria ; 
a hyena knocked at his door, brought its young, which 
was bhnd, and which the saint restored to sight, and re- 
paid the obligation soon afterwards, by bringing a fleece 
of wool. * hyena 1 * said the saint, * how did you 
obtain this fleece? you must have stolen and eaten a 
sheep.' Full of shame, the hyena hung its head down, 
but persisted in offering its gift, which, however, the holy 
man refused to receive till the hyena 'had sworn' to 
cease for the future to rob. The hyena bowed its head 
in token of its acceptance of the oath, and St. Macarius 
afterwards gave the fleece to St. Melania. Other legends 
simply speak of the sympathy between saints and the 
irrational world. The birds came at the call of St. 
Cuthbert, and a dead bird was resuscitated by his prayer. 
When St. Aengussius, in feUing wood, had cut his hand, 
the birds gathered round, and with loud cries lamented 
his misfortune. A little bird, struck down and mortally 
wounded by a hawk, fell at the feet of St. Kieranus, 
who shed tears as he looked upon its torn breast, and 
offered up a prayer, upon which the bird was instantly 
healed.^ 



' I haye taken theee illustrations from the collection of hermit literature 
in Rosweyde, from different volumes of the BollandistSy from the Dui- 
kgues of Sulpicius Severus^ and from what ib perhaps the most interesting 
of all collections of saintly legends, Co]gan*s Acta Sanctorum Hibemus. M; 
Alfred Maury, in his most valuable work, L^endes pieuscs du Mcyen Age, 
has examined minutely the part played by animals in symbolising virtues 
and vices, and has shown the way in which the same incidents were 



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182 HISTORY OF EUROPK\N MORALS. 

Many hundreds, I should perhaps hardly exaggerate 
were I to say many thousands of legends, of this kind 
exist in the lives of the saints. Suggested in the first in- 
stance by that desert life which was at once the earliest 
phase of monachism and one of the earliest sources of 
Christian mythology, strengthened by ihe symbolism 
which represented different virtues and vices under the 
forms of animals, and by the reminiscences of the rites 
and the superstitions of Paganism, the connection be- 
tween men and animals became the key-note of an 
infinite variety of fantastic tales. In our eyes they may 
appear extravagantly puerile, yet it will scarcely, I hope, 
be necessary to apologise for introducing them into what 
purports to be a grave work, when it is remembered that 
for many centuries they were universally accepted by 
mankind, and were so interwoven with all local traditions, 
and with all the associations of education, that they 
at once determined and reflected the inmost feelings of 
the heart. Their tendency to create a certain feeling of 
sympathy towards animals is manifest, and this is probably 
the utmost the Catholic Church has done in that direc- 
tion.^ A very few authentic instances may, indeed, be 
cited of saints whose natural gentleness of disposition was 
displayed in kindness to the animal world. Of St. James 
of Venice — an obscure saint of the thirteenth century — 
it is told that he was accustomed to buy and release the 
birds with which Italian boys used to play by attaching 



repeated, with slight variations, in different legends. M. de Montalembert 
has devoted what is probably the most beantiful chapter of his Momes 
d Occident ('Les Moines et la Nature ') to the relations of monks and the 
animal world ; but the numerous Impends he cites are all, with one or two 
exceptions, different from those I have given. 

^ Chateaubriand speaks, however (£tudes hidoriqueif ^ude vi**, partie 
V% of an old Gallic law, forUdding to throw a stone at an ox attadUd to 
the plough, or to make its yoke too tight 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAQNK 183 

them to strings, saying that * he pitied the little bu*ds of 
the Lord/ and that his * tender charity recoiled from all 
cruelty, even to the most diminutive of animals.' ^ St. 
Prancis of Assisi was a more conspicuous example of the 
same spirit. ' K I could only be presented to the em- 
peror/ he used to say, ' I would pray him, for the love of 
God, and of me, to issue an edict prohibiting anyone from 
catching or imprisoning my sisters the larks, and ordering 
that all who have oxen or asses should at Christmas feed 
them particularly well.' A crowd of legends turning 
upon this theme were related of him. A wolf, near 
Gubbio, being adjured by him, promised to abstain from 
eating sheep, placed its paw in the hand of the saint, to 
ratify the promise, and was afterwards fed from house to 
house by the inhabitants of the city. A crowd of birds, 
on another occasion, came to hear the saint preach, as 
fish did to hear St. Anthony of Padua. A falcon awoke 
him at his hour of prayer. A grasshopper encouraged 
him by her melody to sing praises to God. The noisy 
swallows kept silence when he began to teach.^ 

On the whole, however, Catholicism has done very 
little to inculcate humanity to animals. The fatal vice of 
theologians, who have always looked upon others solely 
through the medium of their own special dogmatic views, 
has been an obstacle to all advance in this direction. The 
animal world, being altogether external to the scheme of 

^ Bollandists, May 31. Leonardo da Vinci is said to have had the 
same fondness for baying and releasing caged birds, and (to go back a 
long way) Pythagoras to have purchased one day, near Metapontus, from 
aome fishermen all the fish in their net, that he might have the pleasure 
of releasing them. (Apuleius, Apologia.) 

^ See these legends collected by Hase {St, Francis, Atsid), It is said 
of Cardinal Bellarmine, that he used to allow yermin to bite him, saying, 
* We shaU have heaven to reward us for our sufierings, but these poor 
creatures have nothing but the enjoyment of this present life.' (Bayle, 
Diet. phila$, art. * Bellarmine.') 



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184 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

redemption, was regarded as beyond the range of duty, 
and the notion of our having any kind of obligation to 
them has never been inculcated — has never, I believe, 
been even admitted by Cathohc theologians. In the 
popular legends, and in the recorded traits of individual 
amiabihty, it is curious to observe how constantly those 
who have sought to inculcate kindness to animals have 
done so by endeavouring to associate them with some- 
thing distinctively Christian. The legends I have noticed 
glorified them as the companions of the saints. The stag 
was honoured as especially commissioned to reveal the 
relics of saints, and as the deadly enemy of the serpent. 
In the feast of asses, that animal was led with veneration 
into the churches, and a rude hymn proclaimed its dig- 
nity, because it had borne Christ in His flight to I^ypt, aixd 
on His entry into Jerusalem. St. Francis always treated 
lambs with a peculiar tenderness, as being symbols of his 
Master. Luther grew sad and thoughtful at a hare hunt, 
for it seemed to him to represent the pursuit of souls by 
the devil. Many popular l^ends exist, associating some 
bird or animal with some incident in the evangelical nar- 
rative, and securing for them, in consequence, an unmo- 
lested life. But such influences have never extended far. 
There are two distinct objects which may be considered 
by moralists in this sphere. They may regard the cha- 
racter of the men, or they may regard the sufferings of 
the animals. The amount of callousness or of conscious 
cruelty displayed or elicited by amusements or prac- 
tices that inflict sufferings on animals, bears no kind of 
proportion to the intensity of that suffering. Could we 
follow with adequate realisation the pangs of the wounded 
birds that are struck down in our sports, or of the timid 
hare in the long course of its flight, we should probably 
conclude that they were not really less than those caused 



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FROM COXSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 186 

by the Spanish bull-fight, or by the Enghsh pastimes of 
the last century. But the excitement of the chase refracts 
the imagination ; the diminutive size of the victim, and 
the undemonstrative character of its sufiering, withdraw 
it from our sight, and these sports do not, in consequence, 
exercise that prejudicial influence upon character which 
they would exercise if the suflerings of the animals were 
vividly reahsed, and were at the same time accepted as 
an element of the enjoyment. That class of amusements 
of which the ancient combats of wild beasts form the 
type, have no doubt nearly disappeared from Christendom, 
and it is possible that the softening power of Christian 
teaching may have had some indirect influence in abolish- 
ing them ; but a candid judgment will confess that it has 
been very little. During the periods, and in the countries, 
in which theological influence was supreme, they were 
unchallenged.^ They disappeared* at last, because a lux- 
urious and industrial civilisation involved a refinement of 
manners ; because a fastidious taste recoiled with a sensa- 
tion of disgust from pleasures that an uncultivated taste 
would keenly relish ; because the drama, at once reflect- 
ing and accelerating the change, gave a new form to 
popular amusements, and because, in consequence of this 

^ I have noticed, in my Hidory of RationalUmj that although some Popes 
did undoubtedly try to suppress Spanish bull-fights, this was solely on 
account of the destruction of human life they caused. Full details on this 
subject will be found in Concina, De Spectactdts (Romae, 1752). Bayle says, 
'Iln'yapoint de casuiste qui croie qu'on p^che en faisant combattre des 
taureaux contre des dogues/ &c. {Diet, philoa. ' Rorarius, 0.') 

' On the ancient amusements of England the reader may consult Sey- 
mour's Survey of London (1734), vol L pp. 227-236 j Strutt's S^xfrts and 
Badimes of the English People, Cock-fighting was a favourite children's 
amusement in England as early as the twelfth century. (Hampson's Afedii 
JEci Kalendanij vol. i. p. 160. It was, with foot-ball and several other 
amusements, for a time suppressed by Edward m., on the ground that they 
were diverting the people from archery, which was necessary to the mili- 
tary greatness of England. 



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186 raSTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

revolution, the old practices being left to the dregs of 
society, they became the occasions of scandalous disor- 
ders.^ In Protestant countries the clergy have, on the 

^ The decline of these amusements in England began with the great 
development of the theatre under Elizabeth. An order of the Privy 
Council, in July 1591, prohibits the exhibition of plays on Thursday, 
because on Thursdays bear-baiting and suchlike pastimes had been usually 
practised, and an injunction to the same effect was sent to the Lord Mayor, 
wherein it was stated that, ' in divers places the players do use to recite 
their plays, to the great hurt and destruction of the game of bear-buting 
and like pastimes, which are maintained for Her Majesty's pleasure.' — 
Nichols, ProgresseB of Queen Elizabeth (ed. 1823), vol. i. p. 438. The reader 
will remember the picture in KemlwoHh of the Duke of Sussex petitioning 
Elizabeth against Shakespeare, on the ground of his plays distracting mon 
from bear-baiting. Elizabeth (see Nichols) was extremely fond of bear- 
baiting. James L especially delighted in cock-fighting, and in 1610 was 
present at a great fight between a lion and a bear. (Home, Bveiy Day 
£ook, vol. i. pp. 255-299). The theatres, however, rapidly multiplied, and 
a writer who lived about 1629 said, ^ that no less than seventeen playhouses 
had been built in or about London within threescore years.' (Seymour's 
Survey, voL L p. 229.) The Rebellion suppressed all public amusements, 
and when they were re-established after the Restoration, it was found that 
the tastes of the better classes no longer sympathised with the bear-garden. 
Pepys' (Diary, August 14, 1666) ^>eaks of buU-baiting as ' a veiy rude 
and nasty pleasure,' and says he had not been in the bear-garden for many 
years. Evelyn (Diary, June 16, 1670), having been present at these shows, 
describes them as * butcherly sports, or rather barbarous cruelties,' and sajrs 
he had not visited them before for twenty years. A paper in the Spectator 
(No. 141, written in 1711) talks of those who * seek their diverrion at the 
bear-garden, . . . where reason and good manners have no right to disturb 
them.' In 1751, however. Lord Kames was able to say, * The bear-garden, 
which is one of the chief entertainments of the English, is held in abhoi^ 
renoe by the French and other polite nations.' — JSssay on Morais (1st ed.), 
p. 7; and he warmly defends (p. 30) the English taste. During the latter 
half of the last century there was constant controversy on the subject 
(which may be traced in the pages of the Annual Register), and several 
forgotten clergymen published sermons upon it, and the frequent riots 
resulting from the fact that the bear-gardens had become the resort of the 
worst classes assisted the movement The London magistrates took mea- 
sures to suppress cock-throwing in 1769 (Hampson's Med, jEv, Kalend, p. 
160) ; but bull-baiting continued far into the present century. Windham 
and Canning strongly defended it ; Dr. Parr is said to have been fond of 
it (Southey's Commonplace Book, vol. iv. p. 585) ; and as late as 1824, Sir 
Robert (then Mr.) Peel argued strongly against its prohibition* (PorAia-^ 
mentary Debates, vol. x. pp. 132-183, 491-496.) 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 187 

whole, sustained this movement. In Catholic countries 
it has been much more fidthftdly represented by the school 
of Voltaire and Beccaria. In treating, however, amuse- 
ments which derived their zest from a display of the 
natural ferocious instincts of animals, and which suggest 
the alternative between death endured in the frenzy of 
combat and that endured in the remote slaughter-house, 
a judicious moralist may reasonably question whether 
they have, in any appreciable degree, added to the sum of 
animal misery, and will dwell less upon the suffering in- 
flicted upon the animal than upon the injurious influence 
the spectacle may sometimes exercise on the character 
of the spectator. But there are forms of cruelty which 
must be regarded in a different light. The horrors of 
vivisection, often so wantonly, so needlessly practised,^ the 
prolonged and atrocious tortures, sometimes inflicted in 

^ Bacon, in an account of the deficiencies of medicine, recommends vivi- 
•eotion in terms that seem to imply that it was not practised in his time. 
* As for the passages and pores, it is true which was anciently noted, that 
the more subtle of them appear not in anatomies, because they are shut and 
latent in dead bodies, though they be open and manifest in live -, which 
being supposed, though the inhumanity oianatamia vivorum was by Celsus 
justly reproved, yet, in regard of the great use of this observation, the en- 
quiry needed not by him so slightly to have been relinquished altogether, 
or referred to the casual practices of surgery ; but might have been weU 
diverted upon the dissection of beasts alive, which, notwithstanding the 
dissimilitude of their parts, may sufficiently satisfy this enquiiy.' — Advance' 
fM/U of Learmnff, x. 4. Harvey speaks of vivisections as having contri* 
bnted to lead him to the discovery of the circulation of blood. (Acland*s 
Manman Oration (1865), p. 55.) Bayle, describing the treatment of ani- 
mals by men, says, ' Nous fouillons dans leurs entraiUes pendant leur vie 
afin de satisfaire notre curiosity' — Diet, phihs, art * Rorarius, C Public 
opinian in England was very strongly directed to the subject in the pre- 
sent century, by the atrocious cruelties perpetrated by Majendie at his 
lectures. See a most frightful account of them in a speech by Mr. Martin 
(an eccentric Irish member, who was generally ridiculed during his life, and 
has been almost forgotten since his death, but to whose untiring exertions 
the legislative protection of animals in England is due). — Farkanuni, Hist, 
foL xii. p. 652. MandeviUe, in his day, was a very strong advocate of 
kindness to animals. — CommenUay on FM0 ofiheBee$, 



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188 histohy of euPwOPEan morals. 

order to procure some gastronomic delicacy, are so fiur 
removed from the public gaze, that they exercise little 
influence on the character of men. Yet no humane mjm 
can reflect upon them without a shudder. To bring these 
things within the range of ethics, to create the notion of 
duties towards the animal world, has, so far as Christian 
countries are concerned, been one of the peculiar merits 
of the last century, and, for the most part, of Protestant 
nations. However fiilly we may recognise the humane 
spirit, transmitted to the world in the form of legends, 
from the saints of the desert, it must not be forgotten that 
the inculcation of humanity to animals on a wide scale is 
mainly the work of a recent and a secular age ; that the 
Mohammedans and the Brahmins have in this sphere con- 
siderably surpassed the Christians, and that Spain and 
Southern Italy, in which CathoUcism has most deeply 
planted its roots, are even now, probably beyond all other 
countries in Europe, those in which inhumanity to ani- 
mals is most wanton and most unrebuked. 

The influence the first form of monachism has exer- 
cised upon the world, as far as it has been beneficial, has 
been chiefly through the imagination, which has been 
fascinated by its legends. In the great periods of theolo- 
gical controversy, the Eastern monks had furnished some 
leading theologians, but in general, in Oriental lands, the 
hermit life predominated, and extreme maceration was 
the chief merit of the saint. But in the West monftchism 
assumed very difierent forms, and exercised far higher 
functions. At first the Oriental saints were the ideals of 
Western monks. The Eastern St. Athanasius had been 
the founder of ItaUan monachism. St. Martin of Tours 
excluded labour from the discipUne of his monks, and he 
and they, like the Eastern saints, were accustomed to 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 180 

wander abroad, destroying the idols of the temples.' But 
three great causes conspired to direct the monastic spirit 
in the West into practical channels. Conditions of race 
and climate have ever impelled the inhabitants of these 
lands to active life, and have at the same time rendered 
them constitutionally incapable of enduring the austerities 
or enjoying the hallucinations of the sedentary Oriental. 
There arose, too, in the sixth century, a great legislator, 
whose form may be dimly traced through a cloud of 
fantastic legends, and the order of St. Benedict, with that 
of St. Golumba and some others, founded on substantially 
the same principle, soon ramified through the greater 
part of Europe, tempered the wild excesses of useless 
penances, and, making labour an essential part of the 
monastic system, directed the movement to the pur- 
poses of general civilisation. In the last place, the bar- 
barian invasions, and the dissolution of the Western Em- 
pire, distorting the whole system of government and 
almost resolving society into its primitive elements, natu- 
rally threw upon the monastic corporations social, poUtical, 
and intellectual functions of the deepest importance. 

It has been observed that the capture of Eome by 
Alaric, involving as it did the destruction of the grandest 
religious monuments of Paganism, in fact established in 
that city the supreme authority of Christianity.^ A 
similar remark may be extended to the general downfall of 
the Western civilisation. In that civilisation Christianity 
had indeed been legally enthroned; but the philosophies 
and traditions of Paganism, and the ingrained habits of an 
ancient, and at the same time an effete society, continually 
paralysed its energies. What Europe would have been 
without the barbarian invasions, we may partly divine 

^ See his life by SulpiciuB Severus. ' Milman. 



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100 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

from the history of the Lower Empire, which represented, 
in fact, the old Eoman civilisation prolonged and Chris- 
tianised. The barbarian conquests, breaking up the old 
organisation, provided the Church with a virgin soil, and 
made it, for a long period, the supreme and indeed sole 
centre of civiUsation. 

It would be diflScult to exaggerate the skill and courage 
displayed by the ecclesiastics in this most trying period. 
We have already seen the noble daring with which they 
interfered between the conqueror and the vanquished, and 
the unwearied charity with which they sought to alle- 
viate the unparalleled sufferings of Italy, when the colo- 
nial supplies of com were cut off, and when the feirest 
plains were desolated by the barbarians. Still more won- 
derfiil is the rapid conversion of the barbarian tribes. 
Unfortunately this, which is one of the most important, 
is also one of the most obscure pages in the history of the 
Church. Of whole tribes or nations it may be truly said 
that we are absolutely ignorant of the cause of their 
change. The Goths had already been converted by 
Ulphilas, before the downfall of the empire, and the con- 
version of the Germans and of several northern na- 
tions was long posterior to it; but the great work of 
Christianising the barbarian world was accomplished 
almost in the hour when that world became supreme. 
Eude tribes, accustomed in their own lands to pay abso- 
lute obedience to their priests, found themselves in a 
foreign country, confronted by a priesthood far more 
civilised and imposing than that which they had left, by 
gorgeous ceremonies, well fitted to entice, and by threats 
of coming judgment, well fitted to scare their imagina- 
tions. Disconnected from all their old associations, they 
bowed before the majesty of civilisation, and the Latin 
religion, like the Latin language, though with many 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 101 

adulterations, reigned over the new society. The doo 
trine of exclusive salvation, and the doctrine of daBmons, 
had an admirable missionary power. The first produced 
an ardour of proselytising which the polytheist could 
never rival, while the Pagan, who was easily led to 
recognise the Christian God, was menaced with eternal 
fire if he did not take the fiirther step of breaking off 
from his old divinities. The second dispensed the con- 
vert firom the perhaps impossible task of disbeUeving his 
former rehgion, for it was only necessary for him to 
degrade it, attributing its prodigies to infernal beings. 
The priests, in addition to their noble devotion, carried 
into their missionary efforts the most masterly judgment. 
The barbarian tribes usually followed without enquiry the 
religion of their sovereign, and it was to the conversion 
of the king, and still more to the conversion of the queen, 
that the Christians devoted all their energies. Clotilda, 
the wife of Clovis, Bertha, the wife of Ethelbert, and 
Theodolinda, the wife of Lothaire, were the chief instru- 
ments in converting their husbands and their nations. 
Nothing that could affect the imagination was neglected. 
It is related of Clotilda, that she was careful to attract her 
husband by the rich draperies of the ecclesiastical cere- 
monies.^ In another case, the first work of proselytising 
was confided to an artist, who painted before the terrified 
Pagans the last judgment and the torments of hell.* 
But especially the belief, which was sincerely held, and 
sedulously inculcated, that temporal success followed in 
the train of Christianity, and that every pestilence, 
famine, or miUtary disaster was the penalty of idolatry, 
heresy, sacrilege, or vice, assisted the movement. The 

' Greg. Turon. ii. 29. 

' This was the first step towards the conyersion of the Bulgarians. — 
Hilmaxi's Latm ChriiUanUy, t6L iiL p. 249. 



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102 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

theory was so wide, that it met every variety of fortune, 
and being taught with consummate skill, to barbarians 
who were totally destitute of all critical power, and 
strongly predisposed to accept it, it proved extremely 
efficacious, and hope, fear, gratitude, and remorse drew 
multitudes into the Church. The transition was softened 
by the substitution of Christian ceremonies and saints for 
the festivals and the divinities of the Pagans.^ Besides 
the professed missionaries, the Christian captives zealously 
diffiised their faith among their Pagan masters. When the 
chieftain had been converted, and the army had followed 
his profession, an elaborate monastic and ecclesiastical 
organisation grew up to consolidate the conquest, and re- 
pressive laws .soon crushed all opposition to the faith. 

In these ways the victory of Christianity over the 
barbarian world was achieved. But that victory, though 
very great, was less decisive than might appear. A 
rehgion which professed to be Christianity, and which 
contained many of the ingredients of pure Christianity, 
had risen into the ascendant, but it had undergone a 
profound modification through the struggle. Eeligions, 
as well as worshippers, had been baptised. The festivals, 
images, and names of saints had been substituted for 
those of the idols, and the habits of thought and feeling 
of the ancient fisiith reappeared in new forms and a new 
language. The tendency to a material, idolatrous, and 
polytheistic faith, which had long been encouraged by the 
monks, and which the heretics Jovinian, Vigilantius, and 
Aerius had vainly resisted, was fatally strengthened by 
the infusion of a barbarian element into the Church, by 
the general depression of intellect in Europe, and by the 
many accommodations that were made to facilitate con- 

• ^ A remarkable collection of instances of this kind is given by Ozanani; 
CivHUation m the Fifth Century (Eng. trans.)/ voL i pp. 124-127. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 193 

version. Though apparently defeated and crushed, the 
old gods still retained, under a new faith, no small part of 
their influence over the world. 

To this tendency the leaders of the Church made in 
general no resistance, though in another form they were 
deeply persuaded of the vitaUty of the old gods. Many 
curious and picturesque legends attest the popular beUef 
that the old Eoman and the old barbarian divinities, in 
their capacity of daemons, were still waging an imrelenting 
war against the triumphant faith. A great Pope of the 
sixth century relates how a Jfew, being once benighted on 
his journey, and finding no other shelter for the night, lay 
down to rest in an abandoned temple of Apollo. Shud- 
dering at the loneliness of the building, and fearing the 
daemons who were said to haunt it, he determined, though 
not a Christian, to protect himself by the sign of the 
cross, which he had often heard possessed a mighty power 
against spirits. To that sign he owed his safety. For at 
midnight the temple was filled with dark and threatening 
forms. The god Apollo was holding his court at his 
deserted shrine, and his attendant daemons were re- 
counting the temptations they had devised against the 
Christians.^ A newly married Eoman, when one day 
playing ball, took oS his wedding-ring, which he found an 
impediment in the game, and he gaily put it on the finger 
of a statue of Venus, which was standing near. When he 
returned, the marble finger had bent so that it was im- 
possible to withdraw the ring, and that night the goddess 
appeared to him in a dream, and told him that she was 

* St Gregory, Dial, iii. 7. The particular temptation the Jew heard dis- 
cussed was that of the bishop of the diocese, who, under the instigation of 
one of the dnmons, was rapidly faUing in love with a nun, and had proceeded 
so far as jocosely to stroke her on the back. The Jew, having related the 
vision to the bishop, the latter reformed his manners, the Jew became a 
Christian, and the temple was turned into a church. 

VOL. II. O 

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194 mSTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

now his wedded wife, and that she would abide with him 
for ever.^ When the Irish missionary St. Gall was fish- 
ing one night upon a Swiss lake, near which he had 
planted a monastery, he heard strange voices sweeping 
over the lonely deep. The Spirit of the Water and the 
Spirit of the Mountains were consulting together how 
they could expel the intruder who had disturbed their 
ancient reign.^ 

The details of the rapid propagation of Western mon- 
achism have beeu amply treated by many historians, and 
the causes of its success are sufficiently manifest Some 
of the reasons I have assigned for tiie first is^read of 
asceticism continued to operate, while others of a still 
more powerful kind had arisen. The rapid decompofii(»>n 
of the entire Eoman Empire by continuous invasions erf 
barbarians rendered the existence of an inviolable asyluBi 
and centre of peaceful labour a matter of transcendent im- 
portance, and the monastery as organised by St. Benedict 
soon combined the most heterogeneous elements of at- 
traction. It was at once eminently aristocratic and in- 
tensely democratia The power and princely position of 
the abbot was coveted, and usually obtained, by members 
of the most illustrious families, while emancipated serfs or 
peasants, who had lost their all in the invasions, or were 
harassed by savage nobles, or had fled fi-om military 
service, or desired to lead a more secure and easy Ufe, 
found in the monastery an unfailing refuge. The insti- 
tution exercised all the influence of great wealth, ex- 
pended for the most part with great charity, while the 
monk himself was invested with the aureole of a sacred 
poverty. To ardent and philanthropic natures, the pro- 
fession opened boundless vistas of missionary, charitable, 

^ This is mentioned by one of tbe English historians — ^I think by Mathew 
of Westminster. 
3 See Milman^s Hid, ofLatm Christianity ^ vol. ii. p. 293. 

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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 196 

and civilising activity. To the superstitious it was the 
plain road to heaven. To the ambitious it was the portal 
to bishoprics, and, after the monk St. Gregory, not un- 
frequently to the Popedom. To the studious it offered 
the only opportunity then existing in the world of seeing 
many books and passing a life of study. To the timid 
imd the retiring it afforded the most secure, and probably 
the least laborious, life a poor peasant could hope to find. 
Vast as were the multitudes that thronged the monas- 
teries, the means for their support were never wanting. 
The belief tJiat gifts or legacies to a monastery opened 
the doors of heaven, was in a superstitious age sufficient 
to secure for the community an ahnost boundless wealth, 
which was still further increased by the skill and per- 
severance with which the monks tilled the waste lands, 
by the exemption of their domains irom all taxation, and 
by the tranquiUity which in the most turbulent ages they 
usually enjoyed. In France, the Low Countries, and Ger- 
many they were pre-eminently agriculturists. Gigantic 
forests were felled, inhospitable marshes reclaimed, barren 
plains cultivated by their hands. The monastery often 
became the nucleus of a city. It was the centre of civi- 
lisation and industry, the symbol of moral power in an age 
of turbulence and war. 

It must be observed, however, that the beneficial in- 
fluence of the monastic system was necessarily transitional, 
and the subsequent corruption the normal and inevitable 
result of its constitution. Vast societies living in enforced 
celibacy, exercising an unbounded influence, and possessing 
enormous wealth, must necessarily have become hotbeds 
of corruption when the enthusiasm that had created them 
expired. The services they rendered as the centres of 
agriculture, the refuge of travellers, the sanctuaries in war, 
the counterpoise of the baronial castie, were no longer 

o 2 

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196 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

required when the convulsions of invasion had ceased^ 
and when civil society was definitely organised. And 
a similar observation may be extended even to their 
moral type. Thus, while it is undoubtedly true that the 
Benedictine monks, by making labour an essential ele^ 
ment of their discipUne, did very much to efface the 
stigma which slavery had affixed upon it, it is also tjiie 
that when industry had passed out of its initial stage, 
the monastic theories of the sanctity of poverty, and the 
evil of wealth, were its most deadly opponents. The dog- 
matic condemnation by theologians of loans at interest, 
which are the basis of industrial enterprise, was the expres- 
sion of a far deeper antagonism of tendencies and ideals. 

In one important respect, the transition from the ere- 
mite to the monastic hfe involved not only a change of 
circumstances, but also a change of character. The habit 
of obedience, and the virtue of humility, assumed a posi- 
tion which they had never previously occupied. The 
conditions of the hermit life contributed to develope to a 
very high degree a spirit of independence and spiritual 
pride, which was still further increased by a curious habit 
that existed in the Church of regarding each eminent 
hermit as the special model or professor of some parti- 
cular virtue, and making pilgrimages to him, in ordar to 
study this aspect of his character. ^ These pilgrimages, 
combined with the usually solitary and self-sufficing life 
of the hermit, and also with the habit of measuring 
progress almost entirely by the suppression of a physical 
appetite, which it is quite possible wholly to destroy, 
very naturally produced an extreme arrogance.^ But in 

^ Cassian. Ccawb, InsUt. y. 4. See^ too, some striking instances of this 
in the life of St. Antony. 

' This spiritual pride is well noticed by Neander, EcclewuUcal Bi$tory 
(Bohn*8 ed.)y yoL iiL pp. .S21-323. It appears in many traits scattered 
through the liyes of their saints. I haye already cited the instances of St. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 197 

the higUy organised and disciplined monasteries of the 
West, passive obedience and humility were the very first 
things that were inculcated. The monastery, beyond all 
other institutions, was the school for their exercise ; and as 
the monk represented the highest moral ideal of the age, 
obedience and humility acquired a new value in the minds 
of men. Nearly all the feudal and other organisations that 
.arose out of the chaos that followed the destruction of the 
JSoman Empire were intimately related to the Chiut^h, not 
simply because the Church supplied in itself an admirable 
model of an or^nised body, but also because it had done 
much to educate men in habits of obedience. The spe- 
cial value of this education depended upon the pecuUar 
dreumstances of the time. The ancient civilisations, and 
especially that of Kome, had been by no means deficient 
in those habits, but it was in the midst of the dissolution 
of an old society, and of the ascendency of barbarians, 
who exaggerated to the highest degree their personal in- 
dependence, that the Church proposed to the reverence of 
mankind a life of passive obedience as the highest ideal 
of virtue. 

The habit of obedience was no new thing in the world, 
but the disposition of humility was pre-eminently and al- 
most exclusively a Christian virtue ; and there has probably 
never been any sphere in which it has been so largely 
and so successfully inculcated as in the monastery* The 

Antony and St. Macarius^ and the visions telling them they were not the 
beet of living people ; and also the case of the hennit^ who was deceived by 
a devil in the form of a woman^ because he had been exalted by pride. 
Another hermit, being very holy, received pure white bread every day from 
heaven, but, being extravagantly elated, the bread got worse and worse till 
it became perfectly black. (TiUemont, tome x. pp. 27-28.) A certain Isidore 
affirmed that he had not been conscious of sin, even in thought, for forty 
yeara (Socrates, iv. 23.) It was a saying of St Antony, that a solitary 
man in the desert is free from three wars— of sight, speech, and hearing } 
lie has to combat only fornication. {ApUheymata Patrum.) 



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198 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

whole penitential discipline, the entire mode or tenor of 
the monastic life, was designed to tame every sentiment of 
pride, and to give hmnility a foranost place in the hier- 
archy of virtues. We have here one great source of the 
mollifying influence of Catholicism. The gentler virtues 
— benevolence and amiability — ^may, and in an advanced 
civilisation often do, subsist in natures that are completely 
devoid of genuine humility ; but on the other hand, it is 
scarcely possible for a nature to be pervaded by a deep 
sentiment of humihty without this sentiment exercising a 
softening influence over the whole character. To trans- 
form a fierce warUke nature into a character of a gentler 
type, the first essential is to awaken this feeling. In the 
monasteries, the extinction of social and domestic feelings, 
the narrow corporate spirit, and, still more, the atrocious 
opinions that were prevalent concerning the guilt of 
heresy, produced in many minds an extreme and most 
active ferocity; but the practice of charity, and the ideal 
of humility, never failed to exercise some softening in^ 
fluence upon Christendom. 

But, however advantageous the temporary preeminence 
of this moral type may have been, it was obviously un- 
suited for a later stage of civilisation. Political liberty is 
almost impossible where the monastic system is supreme, 
not merely because the monasteries divert the energies of 
the nation ft'om civic to ecclesiastical channels, but also 
because the monastic ideal is the very apotheosis of ser- 
vitude. Catholicism has been admirably fitted at once 
to mitigate and to perpetuate despotism. When men have 
learnt to reverence a life of passive, unreasoning obedience 
as the highest type of perfection, the enthusiasm and 
passion of freedom necessarily decline. In this repect 
there is an analogy between the monastic and the mili- 
tary spirit, both of which promote and glorify passive 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 199 

obedience, and therefore prepare the minds of men 
for despotic nile; but on the whole, the monastic spirit 
is probably more hostile to freedom than the military 
spirit, for the obedience of the monk is based upon 
humility, while the obedience of the soldier coexists with 
pride. Now, a considerable measure of pride, or self-asser- 
tion, is an invariable characteristic of free communities. 

The ascendency which the monastic system gave to the 
virtue of humility has not continued. This virtue is 
indeed the crowning grace and beauty of the most perfect 
characters of the saintly type ; but experience has shown 
that among common men humility is more apt to degene- 
rate into servility than pride into arrogance ; and modern 
moralists have appealed more successftiUy to the sense of 
dignity than to the opposite feeling. Two of the most 
important steps of later moral history have consisted of 
the creation of a sentiment of pride as the parent and the 
guardian of many virtues. The first of these encroach- 
ments on the monastic spirit was chivalry, which called 
into being a proud and jealous military honour that has 
never since been extinguished. The second was the 
creation of that feeling of self-respect which is one of the 
most remarkable characteristics that distinguish Protes- 
tant from most Catholic populations, and which has proved 
among the former an invaluable moral agent, forming 
frank and independent natures, and checkmg every servile 
habit and aU mean and degrading vice.^ The peculiar 

^ ' Pride, under such training [that of modem rationalistic philosophy], 
instead of running to waste, is turned to account It gets a new name; it is 
called self-respect. . . . It is directed into the channel of industry, firu- 
gality, honesty, and ohedience, and ithecomes the very staple of the religion 
and morality held in honour in a day like our own. It hecomes the safe- 
guard of chastity, the guarantee of veracity, in high and low ; it is the very 
household god of the Protestant, inspiring neatness and decency in the ser- 
vant-girl, propriety of carriage and refined manners in her mistress, upright- 



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200 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

vigour with which it has been developed in Protestant 
countries may be attributed to the suppression of monastic 
institutions and habits ; to the stigma Protestantism has 
attached to mendicancy, which Catholicism has usually 
glorified and encouraged; and lastly, to the action of 
free political institutions, which have taken deepest 
root where the principles of the Eeformation have been 
accepted. 

The relation of the monasteries to the intellectual virtues, 
which we have next to examine, opens out a wide field 
of discussion; and in order to appreciate it, it will be 
necessary to revert briefly to a somewhat earlier stage of 
ecclesiastical history. And in the first place, it may be 
observed, that the phrase intellectual virtue, which is often 
used in a metaphorical sense, is susceptible of a strictly 
literal interpretation. If a sincere and active desire for 
truth be a moral duty, the disciphne and the dispositions 
that are plainly involved in every honest search fall rigidly 
within the range of ethics. To love truth sincerely means 
to pursue it with an earnest, conscientious, unflagging zeal. 
It means to be prepared to follow the light of evidence 
even to the most imwelcome conclusions; to labour 
earnestly to emancipate the mind from early prejudices ; 
to resist the current of the desires, and the refracting in- 
fluence of the passions ; to proportion on all occasions 
conviction to evidence, and to be ready, if need be, to 

nessy manliness, and generosity in the head of the family. ... It is the 
stimulating principle of providence^ on the one hand, and of free expenditnre 
on the other; of an honourable ambition and of elegant enjoyment.' — New- 
man, On University Education, Discourse ix. In the same lecture (which is, 
perhaps, the most beautiful of the many beautiful productions of its illus- 
trious author). Dr. Newman describes, with admirable eloquence, the 
manner in which modesty has supplanted humility in the modem type of 
excellence.' It is scarcely necessary to say that the lecturer strongly disap- 
proves of the movement he describes. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 201 

exchange the cahn of assurance for all the suffering of a 
perplexed and disturbed mind. To do this is very diffi- 
cult and very painful ; but it is clearly involved in the 
notion of earnest love of truth. If, then, any system stig- 
matises as criminal the state of doubt, denounces the ex- 
amination of some one class of ailments or facts, seeks 
to introduce the bias of the affections into the enquiries of 
the reason, or regards the honest conclusion of an up- 
right investigator as involving moral guilt, that system is 
subversive of intellectual honesty. 

Among the ancients, although the methods of enquiry 
were often very faulty, and generalisations very hasty, a 
respect for the honest search after truth was widely dif- 
fused.^ There were, as we have already seen, instances 
in which certain religious practices which were regarded 
as attestations of loyalty, or as necessary to propitiate the 
gods in favoiu: of the State, were enforced by law ; there 
were even a few instances of philosophies, which were be- 
lieved to lead directly to immoral results or social convul- 
sions, being suppressed ; but as a general rule, speculation 
was imtrammeUed, the notion of there being any necessary 
guilt in erroneous opinion was unknown, and the boldest 
enquirers were regarded with honour and admiration. 
The rehgious theory of Paganism had in this respect 
some influence. Polytheism, with many faults, had three 
great merits. It was eminently poetical, eminently pa- 
triotic, and eminently tolerant. The conception of a vast 
hierarchy of beings more glorious than, but not wholly 
unhke, men, presiding over all the developments of nature, 
and filling the universe with their deeds, supplied the 
chief nutriment of the Greek imagination. The national 

^ Thus, ' indagatio veri ' was reckoned among the leading Tirtues, and the 
high place given to tro<pia and 'prudentia' in ethical writings, preserved the 
notion of the moral duties connected with the discipline of the intellect 



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202 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

religions, interweaving religioufi ceremonies and associa^ 
lions with all civic life, concentrated and intensified the 
sentiment of patriotism, and the notion of many distinct 
groups of gods led men to tolerate many forms of worship 
and great variety of creeds. In that colossal amalgam 
of nations of which Home became the metropolis, in- 
tellectual liberty still further advanced ; the vast variety 
of philosophies and beliefs expatiated unmolested ; the 
search for truth was re^rded as an important element of 
virtue, and the relentless and most sceptical criticism 
which Socrates had applied in turn to all tiie fundamental 
propositions of popular belief remained as an example to 
his successors. 

We have already seen that one leading cause of the 
rapid progress of the Church was, that its teachers en- 
forced their distinctive tenets as absolutely essential to 
salvation, and thus assailed at a great advantage the 
supporters of all other creeds which did not claim this 
exclusive authority. We have seen, too, that in an age of 
great and growing creduUty they had been conspicuous 
for their assertion of the duty of absolute, unqualified, 
and unquestioning belief. The notion of the guilt, both 
of error and of doubt, grew rapidly, and, being soon re- 
garded as a fimdamental tenet, it determined the whole 
course and poUcy of the Church. 

And here, I think, it will not be unadvisable to pause 
for a moment, and endeavour to ascertain what miscon- 
ceived truth lay at the root of this fetal tenet. Considered 
abstractedly and by the light of nature, it is as immeaning 
to speak of the immorality of an intellectual mistake as 
it would be to talk of the colour of a sound. If a man 
has sincerely persuaded himself that it is possible for 
parallel lines to meet, or for two straight lines to enclose 
a space, we pronounce his judgment to be absurd ; but it is 
free from all tincture of immorality. And if, instead of 

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FROMCONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 208 

failing to a]^>reekte a demonstrable truth, his error con- 
sisted in a false estimate of the conflicting aiguments of 
an historical problem, this mistake — ^assuming dways that 
the enquiry was an upright one — is still simply external 
to the sphere of morals. It is possible that his ccaiclusion, 
by weakening some barrier against vice, may produce 
vicious consequences, like those which might ensue from 
some ill-advised modification of the police force ; but it 
in no degree follows from this that the judgment is in 
itself criminal If a student applies himself with the 
same dispositions to Boman and Jewish histories, the 
mistakes he may make in the latter are no more immoral 
than those which he may make in the former. 

There are, however, two cases in which an inteUectual 
error may be justly said to involve, or at least to repre- 
sent, guilt. In the first place, error very frequently 
springs from the partial or complete absence of that 
mental disposition which is implied in a real love of truth. 
Hypocrites, or men who through interested motives pro- 
fess opinions which they do not really believe, are pro- 
bably rarer than is usually supposed; but it would be 
difficult to over-estimate the number of those whose 
genuine convictions are due to the imresisted bias of their 
interests. By the term interests, I mean not only material 
weU-being, but also all those mental luxuries, all those 
grooves or channels for thought, which it is easy and 
pleasing to follow, and painful and difficult to abandon. 
Such are the love of ease, the love of certainty, the love 
of system, the bias of the passions, the associations of the 
imagination, as well as the coarser influences of social 
position, domestic happiness, professional interest, party 
feeling, or ambition. In most men, the love of truth is 
so languid, and their reluctance to encounter mental 
sufiering is so great, that they yield their judgments with- 
out an efibrt to the current, withdraw their minds from 

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204 mSTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

all opinions or arguments opposed to their own, and thus 
speedily convince themselves of the truth of what they 
wish to beheve. He who really loves truth, is bound at 
least to endeavour to resist these distorting influences, 
and in so far as his opinions are the result of his not 
having done so, in so far they represent a moral failing. 

In the next place, it must be observed that every moral 
disposition brings with it an intellectual bias which exer^ 
cises a great and often a controlling and decisive influence 
even upon the most earnest enquirer. If we know the 
character or disposition of a man, we can usually predict 
with tolerable accuracy many of his opinions. We caa 
tell to what side of poHtics, to what canons of taste, to 
what theory of morals he will naturally incline. Stern, 
heroic, and haughty natures. tend to systems in which 
these quaUties occupy the foremost position in the m<xai 
type, while gentle natures will as naturally lean towards 
systems in which the amiable virtues are supreme. Im* 
pelled by a species of moral gravitation, the enquirer will 
glide insensibly to the system which is congruous to his 
disposition, and intellectual difficulties will seldom arrest 
him. He can have observed human nature with but 
little fruit who has not remarked how constant is this 
connection, and how very rarely men change funda- 
mentally the principles they had deUberately adopted 
on rehgious, moral, or even pohtical questions, withoid; 
the change being preceded, accompanied, or very speedily 
followed, by a serious modification of character. So, too, 
a vicious and depraved nature, or a nature which is hard, 
narrow, and unsympathetic, will tend, much less by calcu- 
lation or indolence than by natural affinity, to low and 
degrading views of hirnian natiu'e. Those who have 
never felt the higher emotions will scarcely appreciate 
them. The materials with which the intellect builds are 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 206 

often derived from the heart, and a moral disease is there- 
fore not unfrequently at the root of an erroneous judg- 
ment. 

Of these two truths the first cannot, I think, be 
said to have had any influence in the formation of the 
theological notion of the guilt of error. An elaborate 
process of mental discipline, with a view to strengthening 
the critical powers of the mind, is utterly remote from 
the spirit of theology ; and this is one of the great reasons 
why the growth of an inductive and scientific spirit is 
invariably hostile to theological interests. To raise the 
requisite standard of proof, to inculcate hardness and 
slowness of belief, is the first task of the inductive rea- 
floner. He looks with great favour upon the condition 
of a suspended judgment ; he encourages men rather to 
prolong than to abridge it ; he regards the tendency of 
the human mind to rapid and premature generalisations 
as one of its most fatal vices ; he desires especially that 
that which is believed should not be so cherished that 
the mind should be indisposed to admit doubt, or, on the 
appearance of new arguments, to revise with impartiality 
its conclusions. Nearly all the greatest intellectual achieve- 
ments of the last three centuries have been preceded 
and prepared by the growth of scepticism. The historic 
scepticism which Vico, Beaufort, Pouilly, and Voltaire 
in the last century, and Niebuhr and Lewes in the present 
century, appHed to ancient history, Ues at the root of all 
the great modem efforts to reconstruct the history of 
mankind. The splendid discoveries of physical science 
would have been impossible but for the scientific scep- 
ticism of the school of Bacon, which dissipated the old 
theories of the universe, and led men to demand a seve- 
rity of proof altogether unknown to the ancients. The 
philosophic scepticism of Hume and Kant has given the 



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206 HISTORY OF EUEOPEAIf MORALS. 

greatest modem impulse to metaphysics and ethics. Ex- 
actly in proportion, therefore, as men are educated in the 
inductive school, they are aUenated from those theological 
systems which represent a condition of doubt as sinful, 
seek to govern the reason by the interests and the afiec* 
tions, and make it a main object to destroy the impar- 
tiality of the judgment 

But although it is difficult to look upon Catholicism in 
any other light than as the most deadly enemy of th^ 
scientific spirit, it has always cordially recognised the most 
important truth, that character in a very great measure 
determines opinions. To cultivate the moral type that i^ 
most congenial to the opinions it desires to recommend^ 
has always been its effort, and the conviction that a de- 
viation from that type has often been the predisposing 
cause of intellectual heresy, had doubtless a large share 
in the first persuasion of the guilt of error. But priestly 
and other influences soon conspired to enlarge this docr 
trine. A crowd of speculative, historical, and adminis- 
trative propositions were asserted as essential to salvation^ 
and all who rejected them were wholly external to the 
bond of Christian sympathy. 

If, indeed, we put aside the pure teaching of the Chris- 
tian founders, and consider the actual history of the Church 
since Constantine, we shall find no justification for the 
popular theory, that beneath its influence the narrow spirit 
of patriotism faded into a wide and cosmopolitan philan- 
thropy. A real though somewhat languid feeling of uni- 
versal brotherhood had already been created in the world 
by the universaUty of the Boman Empire. In the new faith 
the range of genuine sympathy was strictly limited by the 
creed. According to the popular beUef, all who differed 
from the teaching of the orthodox Uved under the hatred 
of the Almighty, and were destined after death for an 



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FROM OONSTANTINE TO 0HARLEB1A.GNB. 207 

eternity of anguish. Very naturally, therefore, they were 
wholly alienated from the true believers, and no moral or 
intellectual excellence could atone for their crime in pro- 
pagating error. The eighty or ninety sects ^ into which 
Christianity speedily divided, hated one another with an 
intensity that extorted the wonder of Julian and the 
ridicule of the Pagans of Alexandria, and the fierce riots 
and persecutions that hatred produced appear in every 
page of ecclesiastical history. There is, indeed, some- 
thing at once grotesque and ghastly in the spectacle. 
The Donatists, having separated from the orthodox simply 
on the question of the validity of the consecration of a 
certain bishop, declared that all who adopted the ortho- 
dox view must be damned, refused to perform their rites 
in the orthodox churches which they had seized, till they 
had burnt the altar and scraped the wood, beat multitudes 
to death with clubs, blinded others by anointing their eyes 
with lime, filled Africa, during nearly two centiuies, with 
war and desolation, and contributed largely to its final 
ruin.* The childish and almost unintelligible quarrels 
between the Homoiousians and the Homoousians, be- 
tween those who maintained that the nature of Christ was 
like that of the Father and those who maintained that 
it was the same, filled the world with riot and hatred. 
The Catholics tell how an Arian emperor caused eighty 
orthodox priests to be drowned on a single occasion ; ^ 
how three thousand persons perished in the riots that 
convulsed Constantinople when the Arian bishop Mace- 
donius superseded the Athanasian Paul;* how George of 

^ St Augasdne reckoned eighty-eight sects as existing in his time. 
' See a full account of these persecutions in TiUemont, M4m, d^Hidoire 
eccl^a, tome vi 

* Socratesy JJ. K, iv. 16. This anecdote is much doubted by modem 
historians. 

* Milman's Hid, of Ckrittimiiy (ed. 1867), vol. iL p. 422. 



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208 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

Cappadocia, the Arian bishop of Alexandria, caused the 
widows of the Athanasian party to be scourged on the 
soles of their feet, the holy virgins to be stripped naked, 
to be flogged with the prickly branches of palm-trees, or 
to be slowly scorched over fires till they abjured their 
creed.^ The triumph of the Catholics in Egypt was 
accompanied (if we may believe the solemn assertions 
of eighty Arian bishops) by every variety of plimder, 
murder, sacrilege, and outrage,^ and Arius himself was 
probably poisoned by Cathohc hands.^ The followers of 
St. Cyril of Alexandria, who were chiefly monks, filled 
their city with riot and bloodshed, wounded the prefect 
Orestes, dragged the pure and gifted Hypatia into one 
of their churches, murdered her, tore the flesh firom her 
bones with sharp shells, and, having stripped her body 
naked, flung the mangled remains into the flames.^ In 
Ephesus, during the contest between St. Cyril and the 
Nestorians, the cathedral itself was the theatre of a fierce 
and bloody conflict.^ Constantinople, on the occasion of 
the deposition of St. Chrysostom, was for several days in 
a con(ition of absolute anarchy.^ After the Coimcil of 
Chalcedon, Jerusalem and Alexandria were again con- 
vulsed, and the bishop of the latter city was murdered in 
his baptistery.^ About fifty years later, when the Mono- 
physite controversy was at its height, the palace of the 

1 St AthanaduBy Historical Treatises (Library of the Fathers), pp. 193, 
284. 

» Milman, Bist. of Christianiiy, ii. pp. 436-437. 

' The death of Arias, as is weU known, took place suddenly (his bowels, 
it is said, coming out) when just about to make his triumphal entiy into the 
Cathedral of Constantinople. The death never seems to have been regarded 
as natural, but it was a matter of controyersy whether it was a miracle or a 
murder. 

* Socrates, IT. J?., vii. 13-15. 

* Milman, Hist, of Isotin Christianity y vol. i. pp. 214-215. 
^ Milman, Hist, of CTtristianity, vol. iii. p. 145. 

7 Milman, Latin Christianity, yoL i. pp. 290-291. 



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FROM €ONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 20^ 

emperor at Constantinople was blockaded, the churches 
were besieged, and the streets commanded by furious 
bands of contending monks.^ Kepressed for a time, the 
riots broke out two years after with an increased ferocity, 
and almost every leading city of the East was filled by 
the monks with bloodshed and with riots.^ St. Augustine 
himself is accused of having excited every kind of popular 
persecution against the Semi-Pelagians.® The Councils, 
animated by an almost frantic hatred, urged on by their 
anathemas the rival sects.* In the ' Kobber Council ' of 
Ephesus, Flavianus, the Bishop of Constantinople, was 
kicked and beaten by the Bishop of Alexandria, or at 
least by his followers, and^a few days later died from 
the effect of the blows.* In the contested election that 



* Milman, Hid, of Latin Christianify, vol. i. pp. 310-811. 

* Ibid. Tol. i. pp. 314-318. DeaD Milman thus sums up the histoiy : 
' Monks in Alexandria, monks in Antioch, monks in Jerusalem, monks in 
Constantinople, decide peremptorily on orthodoxy and heterodoxy. The 
hishope themselves cower before them. Macedcmius in Constantinople, 
Flavianus in Autioch, Elias in Jerusalem, condemn themselves and abdicate, 
or are driven from their sees. Persecution is universal — ^persecution by 
every means of violence and cruelty ; the only question is, in whose hands 
is the power to persecute. . . . Bloodshed, murder, treachery, assassina- 
tion, even during the public worship of God — tliese are the frightful 
means by which each party strives to maintain its opinions and to defeat 
its adversary.* 

* See a striking passage from Julianus of Eclana, cited by Milman, Hid. 
of Latin Chridianity, vol. i. p. 164. 

^ ' Nowhere is Christianity less attractive than in the Councils of the 
church. . . . Intrigue, injustice, violence, decisions on authority alone, and 
that the authority of a turbulent majority . . . detract from the reverence 
and impugn the judgments of at least the later Councils. The close is 
almost invariably a terrible anathema, in which it is impossible not to 
discern the tones of human hatred, of arrogant triumph, of rejoicing at 
the damnation imprecated against the humiliated adversaiy.' — Ibid. voL i. 
p. 202. 

* See the account of this scene in Gibbon, Decline and Fail, ch. xlvii. ; 
Milman, Ixttin Chridianity, voL i. p. 263. There is a conflict of authorities 
as to whether the Bishop of Alexandria himself kicked his adversary, or, 
to speak more correctly, the act which is charged against him by some 

VOL. II. P 



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210 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

issued in the election of St. Damasus as Pope of Eome, 
though no theological question appears to have been at 
issue, the riots were so fierce, that one hundred and 
thirty-seven corpses were found in one of the churches.^ 
The precedent of the Jewish persecutions of idolatry 
having been adduced by St. Cyprian, in the third 
century, in favour of excommunication,^ was urged by 
Optatus, in the reign of Constantine, in favour of per- 
secuting the Donatists ; ^ in the next reign we find 
a large body of Christians presenting to the emperor a 
petition, based upon this precedent, imploring him to 
. destroy by force the Pagan worship.* About fifteen 
years later, the whole Christian Church was prepared, on 
the same grounds, to support the persecuting policy of 
St. Ambrose,^ the contending sects having found, in the 
duty of crushing religious hberty, the solitary tenet on 
which they were agreed. The most unaggressive and 
unobtrusive forms of Paganism were persecuted with the 
same ferocity.^ To offer a sacrifice was to commit a 
capital offence ; to hang up a simple chaplet was to incur 
the forfeiture of an estate. The noblest works of Asiatic 
architecture and of Greek sculpture perished by the same 
iconoclasm that shattered the humble temple at which 
the peasant loved to pray, or the household gods which 
consecrated his home. There were no varieties of behef 

contemporary writers is not charged against him by others. The violence 
was certainly done by his followers and in his presence. 

> Ammianus Marcellinus, xxvii. 3. « Cyprian, Bp, Ixi. 

» Milman, Hid. of ChridianUy, vol. ii. p. 806. * Ibid. iii. 10. 

^ ' By this time the Old Testament language and sentiment with regard 
to idolatry were completely incorporated with the Christian feeling ; and 
when Ambrose enforced on a Christian emperor the sacred duty of intoler- 
ance against opinions and practices which scarcely a century before had 
been the established religion of the empire, his zeal was supported by almost 
the unanimous applause of the Christian world.' — Milman*s Hid. of Chris^ 
tianitt/f vol. iii. p. 16^. 

*■ See the Theodosian laws of Paganism. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 211 

too minute for the new intolerance to embitter. The 
question of the proper time of celebrating Easter was 
believed to involve the issue of salvation or damnation ;^ 
and when, long after, in the fourteenth century, the 
question of the nature of the light at the transfiguration 
was discussed at Constantinople, those who refused ta 
admit that that light was imcreated, were deprived of the 
honours of Christian burial.^ 

Together with these legislative and ecclesiastical 
measures, a literature arose surpassing in its mendacious 
ferocity any other the world had known. The polemical 
writers habitually painted as daemons those who diverged 
from the orthodox belief, gloated with a vindictive piety 
over the sufferings of the heretic upon earth, as upon 
a Divine punishment, and sometimes, with an almost 
superhuman malice, passing in imagination beyond the 
threshold of the grave, exulted in no ambiguous terms 
on the tortures which they believed to be reserved for 
him for ever. A few men, such as Synesius, Basil, or 
Salvian, might still find some excellence in Pagans or 
heretics, but their candour was altogether exceptional ; 
and he who will compare the beautiful pictures the 
Greek poets gave of their Trojan adversaries, or the Koman 
historians of the enemies of their country, with those 
which ecclesiastical writers, for many centuries, almost 
invariably gave of all who were opposed to their Church, 



* This appears from the whole history of the controversy ; but the prevail- 
ing feeling is^ I think, expressed with peculiar vividness in the following 
passage — ' Eadmer says (following the words of Bede) in Colman's times 
there was a sharp controversy about the observing of Easter, and other rules 
of life for churchmen ; therefore, this question deservedly excited the minds 
and feeling of many people, fearing lest, perhaps, after having received the 
name of Christians, they should run, or had run in vain.' — King's Hist, of 
the Church of Ireland, book ii. ch. vi. 

* Gibbon, chap. Ixiii. 

p2 



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212 fflSTOKY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

may easily estimate the extent to which cosmopolitan 
sympathy had retrograded. 

At the period, however, when the Western monasteries 
began to discharge their intellectual functions, the supre- 
macy of Catholicism was nearly estabhshed, and polemical 
ardour had begun to wane. The literary zeal of the 
Church took other forms, but all were deeply tinged 
by the monastic spirit. It is difficult or impossible to 
conceive what would have been the intellectual future of 
the world had Catholicism never arisen — what princi- 
ples or impulses would have guided the course of the 
human mind, or what new institutions would have been 
. created for its culture. Under the influence of Catho- 
licism, the monastery became the one sphere of intel- 
lectual labour, and it continued during many centuries 
to occupy that position. Without entering into anything 
resembling a literary history, which would be foreign 
to the objects of the present work, I shall endeavour 
briefly to estimate the manner in which it discharged its 
functions. 

The first idea that is naturally suggested by the men- 
tion of the intellectual services of monasteries is the con- 
servation of the writings of the Pagans. I have already 
observed, that among the early Christians there was a 
marked difference on the subject of their writings. The 
school which was represented by Tertullian regarded 
them with abhorrence, while the Platonists, who were 
represented by Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, and 
Origen, not merely recognised with great cordiality their 
beauties, but even imagined that they could detect in 
them both the traces of an original Divine inspiration, 
and plagiarisms from the Jewish writings. While avoiding, 
for the most part, these extremes, St. Augustine, the 
great organiser of Western Christianity, treats the Pagan 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 218 

writings with appreciative respect. He had himself 
ascribed his first conversion from a com'se of vice to the 
* Hortensius ' of Cicero, and his works are full of discrimi- 
nating, and often very beautiful appUcations, of the old 
Eoman literature. The attempt of Julian to prevent the 
Christians from teaching the classics, and the extreme 
resentment which that attempt elicited, show how highly 
the Christian leaders of that period valued this form of 
education ; and it was naturally the more cherished on 
account of the contest. The influence of Neoplatonism, 
the baptism of multitudes of nominal Christians after 
Constantine, and the decUne of zeal which necessarily 
accompanied prosperity, had all in different ways the same 
tendency. In Synesius we have the curious phenomenon 
of a bishop who, not content with proclaiming himself the 
admiring friend of the Pagan Hypatia, openly declared his 
complete disbehef in the resurrection of the body, and his 
firm adhesion to the Platonic doctrine of the pre-existence 
of souls.^ Had the ecclesiastical theory prevailed which 
gave such latitude even to the leaders of the Church, the 
course of Christianity would have been very different. A 
reactionary spirit, however, arose at Eome. The doctrine 
of exclusive salvation supphed its intellectual basis ; the 
political and organising genius of the Roman ecclesiastics 
impelled them to reduce behef into a rigid form ; the genius 
of St. Gregory guided the movement,^ and a series of 

' An interesting sketch of this very interesthig prelate has, lately been 
written by M. Druon; ^tude sw la Fie et le$ (Euvres de Syninw (Paris, 
1869). 

* Tradition has pronounced Gregory the Great to have been the destroyer 
of the Palatine library, and to have been especially zealous in burning the 
writings of Liyy, because they described the achievements of the Pagan 
gods. For these charges, however (which I am sorry to find repeated by 
BO eminent a writer as Dr. Draper), there is no real evidence, for they are 
not found in any writer earlier than the twelfth century. (See Bayle, Did, 
art. Greg.) The extreme contempt of Gregory for Pagan literature is, 



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214 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

historical events, of which the ecclesiastical and political se- 
paration of the Western empire from the speculative Greeks, 
and the invasion and conversion of the barbarians, were 
the most important, definitely estabUshed the ascendency 
of the Catholic type. In the convulsions that followed 
the barbarian invasions, intellectual energy of a secular 
kind almost absolutely ceased. A parting gleam issued, 
indeed, in the sixth century, from the Court of Theodoric, 
at Kavenna, which was adorned by the genius of Boethius, 
and the talent of Cassiodorus and Symmachus ; but after 
this time, for a long pieriod, literature consisted almost 
exclusively of sermons and hves of saints, which were 
composed in the monasteries.^ Gregory of Tours was 
succeeded as an annalist by the still feebler Fredegairius, 
and there was then a long and absolute blank. A few 
outlying countries showed some faint animation. St. 
Leander and St. Isidore planted at Seville a school, which 
flourished in the seventh century, and the distant monas-^ 
teries of Ireland continued somewhat later to be the 

however, sufficiently manifested in his famous and very curious letter to 
Desiderius, Bishop of Yienne^ rehuldng him for having taught certain per- 
sons Pagan literature, and thus mingling * the praises of Jupiter with the 
praises of Christ;' doing what would be impious even for a religious layman, 
' polluting the mind with the blasphemous praises of the wicked.' Some 
curious evidence of the feelings of the Christians of the fourth, fifth, and 
sixth centuries, about Pagan literature, is given in Guinguen^, Hfst. UtUraire 
de ritalie, tome i. p. 29-31, and some legends of a later period are candidly 
related by one of the most enthusiastic English advocates of the Middle 
Ages. (Maitland, Dark Ages.) 

^ Probably the best account of the intellectual history of these times is 
still to be found in the admirable introductory chapters with which the 
Benedictines prefaced each century of their Hist, litUraire de la France. 
The Benedictines think (with Hallam) that the eighth century was, on the 
whole, the darkest on the continent, though England attained ite lowest 
point somewhat later. Of the great protectors of learning Theodoric was 
unable to write (see Guinguen^, tome i. p. 31), and Charlemagne (Eginhazd) 
only began to learn when advanced in life, and was never quite able to 
master the accomplishment Alfred, however, was distinguished in lite- 
rature. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARI.EMAGNE. 216 

receptacles of learning ; but the rest of Eurc^e sank into 
an almost absolute torpor, till the rationalism of Abelard, 
and the events that followed the crusade, b^an the revival 
of learning. The principal service which Catholicism ren- 
dered during tins period to Pagan literature was probably 
the perpetuation of Latin as a sacred language. The com- 
plete absence of all curiosity about that Uterature is shown 
by the fact that Greek was suffered to become almost abso- 
lutely extinct, though there was no time when the Western 
nations had not some relations with the Greek empire, or 
when pilgrimages to the Holy Land altogether ceased. 
The study of the Latin classics was for the most part posi- 
tively discouraged. The writers, it was believed, were 
burning in hell ; the monks were too inflated with their 
imaginary knowledge to regard w^ith any respect a Pagan 
writer, and periodical panics about the approaching ter- 
mination of the world continually checked any desire for 
secular learning.^ There existed a custom among some 
monks, when they were under the discipUne of silence, 
and desired to ask for Virgil or Horace, or any other 
Gentile work, to indicate their wish by scratching their 
ears hke a dog, to which animal it was thought the 
Pagans might be reasonably compared.^ The monasteries 

^ Tbe belief that tbe world was just about to end was, as is well known, 
reiT general among the early Christians, and greatly affected their lives. 
It appears in the New Testament, and very clearly in the epistle ascribed 
to Bf^abas in ^e first century. The persecutions of the second and third 
centuries reidyed it, and both Tertullian and Cyprian (m Demetrianum) 
strongly assert it. With the triumph of Christianity the apprehension for 
a time subsided; but it reappeared with great force when the dissolution of 
the empire was manifestly impending, when it was accomplished, and in 
the prolonged anarchy and suffering that ensued. Gregory of Tours, writing 
in the latter part of the sixth century, speaks of it as very prevalent (I^O" 
logue to (he Fird Book) ; and St Gregory the Great, about the same time, 
ccHistantly expresses it ^The panic that filled Europe at the end of the 
tenth century has been often described. 

' Maitland's Dark Agn, p. 408. 



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216 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

contained, it is said, during some time, the only libraries 
in Europe, and were therefore the sole receptacles of the 
Pagan manuscripts ; but we cannot infer from this, that 
if the monasteries had not existed, similar libraries would 
not have been called into being in their place. To the 
occasional industry of the monks, in copying the works of 
antiquity, we must oppose the industry they displayed^ 
though chiefly at a somewhat later period, in scraping 
the ancient parchments, in order that, having obliterated 
the writing of the Pagans, they might cover them with 
their own legends.^ 

There are some aspects, however, in which the mo- 
nastic period of literature appears eminently beautiful 
The fretftilness and impatience and extreme tension of 
modern literary life, the many anxieties that paralyse, 
and the feverish craving for applause thsLt perverts, so 
many noble intellects, were then unknown. Severed from 
all the cares of active hfe, in the deep calm of the monas- 
tery, where the turmoil of the outer world could never 
come, the monkish scholar pursued his studies in a spirit 
which has now almost faded from the world. No doubt 
had ever disturbed his mind. To him J,he problem of 
the universe seemed solved. Expatiating for ever with 
unfaltering faith upon the unseen world, he had learnt to 
live for it alone. His hopes were not fixed upon human 
greatness or fame, but upon tlie pardon of his sins, and 
the rewards of a happier world. A crowd of quaint and 
often beautiful legends illustrate the deep union that sub- 
sisted between literature and rehgion. It is related of 

^ This passion for scraping MSS. became common, according to Mont- 
faucon, after the twelfth century. (Maitland, p. 40.) According to Hallaniy 
however (Middle Ages, ch. ix. part i.), it must have begun earlier, being 
chiefly caused by the cessation or great diminution of the import of Egyp* 
tiai} papyrus, which was a consequence of the capture of Alexandria by 
the Saracens, early in the seventh centuiy 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGtfR 217 

Ctedmon, the first great poet of the Anglo-Saxons, that 
he found in the secular life no vent for his hidden genius. 
When the warriors assembled at their banquets, sang in 
turn the praises of war or beauty, as the instrument passed 
to him, he rose and went out with a sad heart, for he alone 
was unable to weave his thoughts in verse. Wearied and 
desponding he lay down to rest, when a figure appeared 
to hira in his dream and commanded him to sing the 
Creation of the World. A transport of reUgious fervour 
thrilled his brain, his imprisoned intellect was unlocked, 
and he soon became the foremost poet of his land.^ A 
Spanish boy having long tried in vain to master his task, 
and diiven to despair by the severity of his teacher, ran 
away from his father's home. Tired with wandering, 
and full of anxious thoughts, he sat down to rest by the 
margin of a well, when his eye was caught by the deep 
furrow in the stone. He asked a girl who was drawing 
water to explain it, and she told him that it had been 
worn by the constant attrition of the rope. The poor 
boy, who was already full of remorse for what he had 
done, recognised in the reply a Divine intimation. ' If,' 
be thought, ' by daily use the soft rope could thus pene- 
trate the hard stone, surely a long perseverance could 
overcome the dullness of my brain. He returned to 
his father's house ; he laboured with redoubled earnest- 
ness, and he Uved to be the great St. Isidore of Spain .^ 
A monk who had led a vicious life was saved, it is said, 
from hell, because it was found that his sins, though very 
numerous, were just outnumbered by the letters of a 
ponderous and devout book he had written.^ The Holy 

» Bede, JT. E. iv. 24 

* J^fa^Una De Itebut Htspama, yi. 7. Mariana says the stone was in his 
time preserved as a relic. 

» Odericns Vitalis, quoted by Maitland (Dark Ages, pp. 268-269). The 
monk was restored to life that he might have an opportunity of reformation* 

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218 .HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

Spirit, in the shape of a dove, had been seen to inspire 
St. Gregory ; and the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas 
and of several other theologians, had been expressly ap- 
plauded by Christ or by his saints. When, twenty years 
after death, the tomb of a certain monkish writer was 
opened, it was found that, although the remainder of the 
body had crumbled into dust, the hand that had held 
the pen remained flexible and undecayed.^ A young and 
nameless scholar was once buried near a convent at Bonn. 
The night after his funeral, a nun whose cell overlooked 
the cemetery was awakened by a brilliant Ught that filled 
the room. She started up, imagining that the day had 
dawned, but on looking out she found that it was stiU 
night, though a dazzhng splendour was aroimd. A female 
form of matchless loveliness was bending over the 
scholar's grave. The efliuence of her beauty filled the 
air with hght, and she clasped to her heart a snow-white 
dove that rose to meet her from the tomb. It was the 
Mother of God come to receive the soul of the martyred 
scholar ; * for scholars too,' adds the old chronicler, ' are 
martyrs if they live in purity and labour with courage.'^ 

But legends of this kind, though not without a very 
real beauty, must not bhnd us to the fact that the period 
of Catholic ascendency was on the whole one of the 
most deplorable in the history of the human mind. The 
energies of Christendom were diverted from all useful 
and progressive studies, and were wholly expended on 
theological disquisitions. A crowd of superstitions, attri- 

The escape was a narrow onoi for there was only one letter against which 
no sin could be adduced — a remarkable instance of the advantages of a 
difi'use style. 

' Bigby, More9 CathoUciy book x. p. 246. Mathew of Westminster tells 
of a certain king who was very charitable; and whose right hand (which 
had assuaged many sorrows) remained undecayed after death (a.d. 644). 

^ See HaurtoUy Hitt, de la FhQosophie tcokuiique, tome i. pp. 24-25. 



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FROM CONSTAJ^TINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 219 

buted to infallible wisdom, barred the path of knowledge, 
and the charge of magic, or the charge of heresy, crushed 
every bold enquiry in the sphere of physical nature or of 
opinions. Above all, the conditions of true enquiry had 
been cursed by the Church. A bhnd unquestioning cre- 
duhty was inculcated as the first of duties, and the habit 
of doubt, the impartiality of a suspended judgment, the 
desire to hear both sides of a disputed question, and to 
emancipate the judgment from unreasoning prejudice, 
were all in consequence condemned. The behef in the 
guilt of error and doubt became universal, and that belief 
may be confidently pronounced to be the most pernicious 
superstition that has ever been accredited among man- 
kind. Mistaken facts are rectified by enquiry. Mistaken 
methods of research, though far more inveterate, are gra- 
dually altered ; but the spirit that shrinks from enquiry as 
tsinful, and deems a state of doubt a state of guilt, is 
the most enduring disease that can aflSict the mind of 
man. Not till the education of Europe passed from the 
monasteries to the universities, not till Mahommedan 
science, and classical freethought, and industrial inde- 
pendence broke the sceptre of the Church, did the intel- 
lectual revival of Europe begin. 

I am aware that so strong a statement of the intellec- 
tual darkness of the middle ages is likely to encounter 
opposition from many quarters. The blindness which 
the philosophers of the eighteenth century manifested to 
their better side has produced a reaction which has led 
many to an opposite, and, I believe, far more erroneous 
extreme. Some have become eulogists of the period 
through love of its distinctive theological doctrines, and 
others through archaeological enthusiasm, while a very 
pretentious and dogmatic, but I think sometimes super- 
ficial, school of writers who loudly boast themselves the 

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220 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

regenerators of history, and treat with supreme contempt 
all the varieties of theological opinion, are accustomed, 
partly through a very shallow historical optimism which 
scarcely admits the possibility of retrogression, and partly 
through sympathy with the despotic character of Catho- 
licism, to extol the mediaeval society in the most extra- 
vagant terms. Without entering into a lengthy ex- 
amination of this subject, I may be permitted to indicate 
shortly two or three fallacies which are continually dis- 
played in their appreciations. 

It is an undoubted truth that, for a considerable period, 
almost all the knowledge of Europe was included in the 
monasteries, and from this it is continually inferred that, 
had these institutions not existed, knowledge would have 
been absolutely extinguished. But such a conclusion I 
conceive to be altogether untrue. During the period of 
the Pagan empire, intellectual life had been diffused over 
a vast portion of the globe. Egypt and Asia Minor had 
become great centres of civilisation. Greece was still a 
land of learning. Spain, Gaul, and even Britain ^ were 
full of libraries and teachers. The schools of Narbonne, 
Aries, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Lyons, Marseilles, Poitiers, 
and Treves were already famous. The Christian em- 
peror Gratian, in a.d. 376, carried out in G^aul a system 
similar to that which had already, xmder the Antonines, 
been pursued in Italy, ordaining that teachers should be 
supported by the State in every leading city.^ To sup- 
pose that Latin literature, having been so widely diffused, 
could have totally perished, or that all interest in it could 
have permanently ceased, even under the extremely 
unfavom-able circumstances that followed the downfall of 



^ On the progresa of Roman ciTilisation in Britain^ see Tadtus, Afffi^ 
cofa, xxi. 
' See the Benedictine Hist, UttSr. de la France^ tome i. part ii. p. 9. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 221 

the Koman Empire and the Mahommedan invasions, is, I 
conceive, absurd. If Catholicism had never existed, the 
human mind would have sought other spheres for its de- 
velopment, and at least a part of the treasures of antiquity 
would have been preserved in other ways. The monas- 
teries, as corporations of peaceful men protected from the 
incursions of the barbarians, became very naturally the 
reservoirs to which the streams of literature flowed ; but 
much of what they are represented as creating, they had 
in reality only attracted. The inviolable sanctity which 
they secured rendered them invaluable receptacles of an- 
cient learning in a period of anarchy and perpetual war, 
and the industry of the monks in transcribing probably 
more than counterbalanced their industry in effacing the 
classical writings. The ecclesiastical unity of Christendom 
was also of extreme importance in rendering possible a 
general interchange of ideas. Whether these services out- 
weighed the intellectual evils resulting from the complete 
diversion of the human mind from all secular learning, 
and from the persistent inculcation, as a matter of duty, 
of that habit of abject credulity which it is the fii-st task 
of the intellectual reformer to eradicate, may be rea- 
sonably doubted. 

It is not unfrequent, again, to hear tlfe preceding fal- 
lacy stated in a somewhat different form. We are re- 
minded that almost all the men of genius during several 
centuries were great theologians, and we are asked to 
conceive the more than Egyptian darkness that would 
have prevailed had the Catholic theology which produced 
them not existed. This judgment resembles that of the 
prisoner in a famous passage of Cicero, who, having spent 
his entire life in a dark dungeon, and knowing the light 
of day only from a single ray which passed through a 



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222 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

fissiire in the wall, inferred that if the wall were removed, 
as the fissure would no longer exist, all light would be 
excluded. Mediaeval Catholicism discouraged and sup- 
pressed in every way secular studies, while it conferred a 
monopoly of wealth and honour and power upon the 
distinguished theologian. Very naturally, therefore, it 
attracted into the path of theology the genius that would 
have existed without it, but would have been displayed 
in other forms. 

It is not to be inferred, however, from this, that me- 
diaeval Cathohcism had not, in the sphere of intellect, any 
real creative power. A great moral or rehgious enthu- 
siasm always evokes a certain amount of genius that 
would not otherwise have existed, or at least been dis- 
played, and the monasteries were peculiarly fitted to 
develope certain casts of mind, which in no other sphere 
could have so perfectly expanded. The great writings of 
St. Thomas Aquinas^ and his followers, and, in more 
modern times, the massive and conscientious erudition of 
the Benedictines, will always make certain periods of the 
monastic history venerable to the scholar. But, when 
we remember that during many centuries nearly every 
one possessing any literary taste or talents became a 
monk, when we •recollect that these monks were familiar 
with the language, and might easily have been familiar 
with the noble literature of ancient Eome, and when we 
also consider the mode of their life, which would seem, 
from its absence of care, and from the very monotony of 
its routine, peculiarly calculated to impel them to study, 
we can hardly fail to wonder how very little of any real 

^ A biographer of St Thomas Aquinas modestly observes : ' L'opinion 
g^ndraleraent r^pandue parmi les th^ologiens c^est que la Somme de TMologie 
de St.-Thomas est non-seulement sod chef-d'oeuvre mais aussi celui de 
Tesprit humun' (! !). — Carle, Hid. de St.'Thomas d'AquWy p. 140. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 223 

value they added, for so long a period, to the know- 
ledge of mankind. It is indeed a remarkable fact, that 
even in the ages when the Cathohc ascendency was 
most perfect, the greatest achievements were either 
opposed to, or simply external to, ecclesiastical influence. 
Eoger Bacon having been a monk, is frequently spoken 
of as a creature of Catholic teaching. But there never 
was a more striking instance of the force of a great 
genius in resisting the tendencies of his age. At a time 
when physical science was continually neglected, dis- 
couraged, or condemned, at a time when all the great 
prizes of the world were open to men who pursued a very 
different course. Bacon applied himself with transcendent 
genius to the study of nature. Fourteen years of his 
life were spent in prison, and when he died, his name 
was blasted as a magician. The mediaeval laboratories 
were chiefly due to the pursuit of alchemy, or to Mo- 
hammedan encouragement. The inventions of the 
mariner's compass, of gunpowder, and of rag paper were 
all, indeed, of extreme importance ; but they were great 
inventions only from their effects, and in no degree from 
the genius they imphed. They were all unconnected 
with the prevailing intellectual tendencies or teachings, 
and might have equally appeared in any age and under 
any religion. The monasteries cultivated formal logic to 
great perfection. They produced many patient and la- 
borious, though, for the most part, wholly uncritical 
scholars, and many philosophei-s who, having assumed 
their premises with unfaltering faith, reasoned from them 
with admirable subtlety ; but they taught men to regard 
the sacrifice of secular learning as a noble thing ; they 
impressed upon them a theory of the habitual govern- 
ment of the universe, which is absolutely untrue, and 
tiiey diffused, wherever their influence extended, habits 



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224 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS: 

of credulity and intolerance that are the most deadly- 
poisons to the human mind. 

It is, again, very frequently observed among the more 
philosophic eulogists of the mediaeval period, that al- 
though the Catholic Church is a trammel and an obstacle 
to the progress of civilised nations, although it would 
be scarcely possible to exaggerate the misery her perse- 
cuting spirit caused, when the human mind had out- 
stripped her teaching; yet there was a time when she 
was greatly in advance of the age, and the complete and 
absolute ascendency she then exercised was intellectually 
eminently beneficial. That there is much truth in this 
view, I have myself repeatedly maintained. But when 
men proceed to isolate the former period, and to make 
it tlie theme of unqualified eulogy, they fall, I think, into 
a grave error. The evils that sprang from the lat« 
period of Catholic ascendency were not an accident or a 
perversion, but a normal and necessary consequence of 
the previous despotism. The principles which were 
imposed on the mediaeval world, and which were the 
conditions of so much of its distinctive excellence, were 
of such a nature that they claimed to be final, and could 
not possibly be discarded without a struggle and a con- 
vulsion. We must estimate the influence of these 
principles considered as a whole, and during the entire 
period of their operation. There are some poisons which, 
before they kill men, allay pain and difluse a soothing 
sensation through the frame. We may recognise the 
hour of enjoyment they procure, but we must not sepa- 
rate it from the price at which it was purchased. 

The extremely unfavourable influence the Catholic 
Church long exercised upon intellectual development 
had important moral consequences. Although moral , 
progress does not necessarily depend upon intellectual 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 225 

progress, it is materially affected by it, intellectual 
activity being the most important element in the growth 
of that great and complex organism which we call civili- 
sation. The mediaeval credulity had also a more direct 
moral influence in producing that indifference to truth, 
which is the most repulsive feature of so many Catho- 
lic writings. The very large part that must be assigned 
to deliberate forgeries in the early apologetic literature 
of the Church we have already seen, and no impartial 
reader can, I think, investigate the innumerable grotesque 
and lying legends that were deliberately palmed upon 
mankind as undoubted facts, during the whole course 
of the middle ages, can follow the histories of the false 
decretals, and the discussions that were connected with 
them, or can observe the complete and absolute incapacity 
the polemical historians of Catholicism so frequently dis- 
play, of conceiving any good thing in the ranks of their 
opponents, and their systematic suppression of whatever 
can tell against their cause, without acknowledging how 
serious and how inveterate has been the evil. There 
have, no doubt, been many noble individual exceptions. 
Yet it is, I believe, difficult to exaggerate the extent to 
which this moral defect exists in most of the ancient and 
very much of the modem literature of Catholicism. It is 
this which makes it so unspeakably repulsive to all inde- 
pendent and impartial thinkers, and has led a great 
German historian^ to declare, with much bitterness, that 
the phrase Christian veracity deserves to rank with the 
phrase Punic faith. But this absolute indifference to truth 
whenever falsehood could subserve the interests of the 
Church, is perfectly exphcable, and was found in mul- 
titudes, who, in other respects, exhibited the noblest 
virtue. An age which has ceased to value impartiality of 

* Herder. 
VOL. II. Q 

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220 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

judgment will soon cease to value accuracy of statement^ 
and when credulity is inculcated as a virtue, falsehood 
will not long be stigmatised as a vice. When, too, men 
are firmly convinced that salvation can only be found 
within their Church, and that their Church can absolve 
from all guilt, they will speedily conclude that nothing can 
possibly be wrong which is beneficial to it. They ex- 
change the love of truth for what they caU the love of 
the truth. They regard morals as derived from and sub- 
ordinate to theology, and they regulate all their state- 
ments, not by the standard of veracity, but by the interests 
of their creed. 

Another important moral consequence of the monastic 
system was the great importance that was given to the 
pecuniary compensations for crime. It had been at first 
one of the broad distinctions between Paganism and 
Christianity, that while the rites of the former were for 
the most part unconnected with moral dispositions, Chris- 
tianity made purity of heart an essential element of all ita 
worship. Among the Pagans a few faint efforts had, it 
is true, been made in this direction. An old precept 
or law, which is referred to by Cicero, and which was 
strongly reiterated by Apollonius of Tyana, and the 
Pythagoreans, declared that * no impious man should dare 
to appease the anger of the divinities by his gifts'^ and 
oracles are said to have more than once proclaimed that 
the hecatombs of noble oxen with gilded horns that were 
offered up ostentatiously by the rich, were less pleasing 
to the gods than the wreaths of flowers and the modest 
and reverential worship of the poor.^ In general, how- 
ever, in the Pagan world, the service of the temple had 

* 'Impios ne audeto placare donis iram Deorum.'^ Cicero, De Leg. ii. 9. 
See, too, Philost in ApoU. Tyan. i. 11. 

» There are three or four instances of this related by Porphyry, Ahsbm. 
Camis, lib. ii. 

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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 227 

little or no connection with morals, and the change 
which Christianity effected in this respect, was one of its 
most important benefits to mankind. It was natural, 
however, and perhaps inevitable, that in the course of 
time, and under the action of very various causes, the old 
Pagan sentiment should revive, and even with an in- 
creased intensity. In no respect had the Christians been 
more nobly distinguished than by their charity. It was 
not surprising that the fathers, while exerting all their 
eloquence to stimulate this charity — especially during the 
calamities that accompanied the dissolution of the empire 
— should have dilated in extremely strong terms upon the 
spiritual benefits the donor would receive for his gift. It 
is also not surprising that this selfish calculcation should 
gradually, and among hard and ignorant men, have 
absorbed all other motives. A curious legend, which is 
related by a writer of the seventh century, illustrates the 
kind of feeling that had arisen. The Christian bishop 
Synesius succeeded in converting a Pagan named Eva- 
grius, who for a long time, however, felt doubts about the 
passage, ^ He who giveth to the poor lendeth to the Lord.' 
On his conversion, and in obedience to this verse, he gave 
Synesius three hundred pieces of gold to be distributed 
among the poor ; but he exacted from the bishop, as being 
the representative of Christ, a promissory note, engaging 
that he should be repaid in the future world. When, 
many years later, Evagrius was on his deathbed, he com- 
manded his sons, when they buried him, to place the note 
in his hand, and to do so without informing Synesius. His 
dying injunction was observed, and three days afterwards 
he appeared to Synesius in a dream, told him that the 
debt had been paid, and ordered him to go to the tomb, 
where he would find a written receipt. Synesius did as 
he was commanded, and the grave being opened, the 

Q 2 

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228 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

promissory note was found in the hand of the dead man, 
with an endorsement declaring that the debt had been 
paid by Christ. The note, it is said, was long after pre- 
served as a reUc in the church of Cyrene.^ 

The kind of feeling which this legend displays was soon 
turned with tenfold force into the channel of monastic life. 
A law of CJonstantine accorded, and several later laws en- 
larged, the power of bequests to ecclesiastics. Ecclesiastical 
property was at the same time exonerated from the pubhc 
burdens, and this measure not only directly assisted its 
increase, but had also an important indirect influence ; 
for, when taxation was heavy, many laymen ceded the 
ownership of their estates to the monasteries, with a secret 
condition that they should as vassals receive the revenues 
unburdened by taxation, and subject only to a shght pay- 
ment to the monks as to their feudal lords.^ The monks 
were regarded as the trustees of the poor, and also as them- 
selves typical poor, and all the promises that apphed to 
those who gave to the poor, applied, it was said, to the 
benefactors of the monasteries. The monastic chapel also 
contained the relics of saints or sacred images of mira- 
culous power, and throngs of worshippers were attracted 
by the miracles, and desired to place themselves under 
the protection, of the saint. It is no exaggeration to say, 
that to give money to the priests was for several centuries 

* Moscbus, Pratum Spirituale (RoBweyde), cap. cxcv. M. WaUon quotes 
from the Life of St^-Jean VAumdnier an even stranger eTent which 
happened to St. Peter Telonearius. ' Pour repousser les importunity des 
pauyrea, il leur jetait dea pierres. Un jour, n*en trouvant paa sous la main, 
il leur jeta im pain k la tete. II tomba malade et eut une Tision. Sea 
m^rites ^taient oompt^s ; d'un c6t^ ^taient tous ses crimes, de Tautre ce 
pain jet^ comme une insulte aux pauvres et accepts comme une aumdne par 
J^us-Christ.' — Hid, de lEsdaviigef tome iii. p. 897. 

I may mention here that the ancient Gauls were said to have been 
accustomed to lend money on the condition of its being repaid by the lender 
in the next life. (Val. Maximus, lib. ii. cap. vi. § 10.) 

^ Muratori, Antich. Italiane, diss. Ixvii. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 229 

the first article of the moral code. Political minds may 
have felt the importance of aggrandising a pacific and 
industrious class in the centre of a disorganised society, 
and family affection may have predisposed many in favour 
of institutions which contained at least one member of 
most families ; but in the overwhelming majority of 
cases the motive was simple superstition. In seasons 
of sickness, of danger, of sorrow, or of remorse, when- 
ever the fear or the conscience of the worshipper was 
awakened, he hastened to purchase with money the favour 
of a saint. Above all, in the hour of death, when the 
terrors of the future world loomed darkly upon his mind, 
he saw in a gift or legacy to the monks a sure means of 
effacing the most monstrous crimes, and securing his ulti- 
mate happiness. A rich man was soon scarcely deemed 
a Christian, if he did not leave a portion of his property 
to the Church, and the charters of innumerable monas- 
teries in every part of Europe attest the vast tracts of 
land that were ceded by will to the monks, 'for the 
benefit of the soul' of the testator.^ 

It has been observed by a great historian, that we may 
trace three distinct phases in the history of the Church. 
In the first period religion was a question of morals ; in 
the second period, which culminated in the fifth century, 
it had become a question of orthodoxy; in the third 
period, which dates from the seventh century, it was a 
question of munificence to monasteries.^ The despotism 

^ See on the causes of the wealth of the monasteries, two admirable 
dissertations by Muratori^ Amich. ItaUane, Ixvii. Izviii. ; Hallam*8 Middle 
Ages, ch. yii. part L 

* < Lois de I'^tablissement du christianisme la religion ayoit essentielle- 
ment consists dans Tenseignement moral ; eUe avoit exerc^ les coeurs et les 
&me8 par la recherche de ce qui ^toit yraiment beau, vraiment honnete. Aa 
cinqui^me si^le on Tavoit surtout attache k Torthodoxie, au septi^me on 
Fayoit rMuite k la bienfaisance enyers les couyens.' — Sismondi^ HUt, de$ 
Fran^^ tome ii. p. 50. 



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280 fflSTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

of Catholicism, and the ignorance that followed the bar- 
barian invasions, had repressed the struggles of heresy, 
and in the period of almost absolute darkness that con- 
tinued from the sixth to the twelfth century, the theolo- 
gical ideal of unquestioning faith and of perfect un- 
animity was all but realised in the West All the energy 
that in previous ages had been expended in combating 
heresy was now expended in acquiring wealth. The 
people compounded for the most atrocious crimes by gifts 
to shrines of those saints whose intercession was supposed 
to be unfailing. The monks, partly by the natural cessation 
of their old enthusiasm, partly by the absence of any hostile 
criticism of their acts, and partly too by the very wealth 
they had acquired, sank into gross and general immorality. 
The great majority of them had probably at no time been 
either saints actuated by a strong religious motive, nor 
yet diseased and desponding minds seeking a reftige 
from the world ; they had been simply peasants, of no 
extraordinary devotion or sensitiveness, who preferred an 
ensured subsistence, with no care, httle labour, a much 
higher social position than they could otherwise acquire, 
and the certainty, as they beUeved, of going to heaven, 
to the laborious and precarious existence of the serf, 
relieved, indeed, by the privilege of marriage, but exposed 
to military service, to extreme hardships, and to constant 
oppression. Very naturally, when they could do so with 
impunity, they broke their vows of chastity. Very na- 
turally, too, they availed themselves to the ftill of the 
condition of affairs, to draw as much wealth as possible 
into their community.^ The behef in the approaching end 

^ Mr. HaUam, speaking of the legends of the miracles of saints, says : 
' It must not be supposed that these absurdities were produced as well as 
nourished by ignorance. In most cases they were the work of deliberate 
imposture. Every cathedral or monastery had its tutelar saint, and every 
saint his legend, fabricated in order to enrich the churches under his pio- 

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FROM CONSTANHNE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 231 

of the world, especially at the close of the tenth cen- 
tury, the crusades, which gave rise to a profitable traffic 
in the form of a pecuniary commutation of vows, and the 
black death, which produced a paroxysm of religious 
fanaticism, stimulated the movement. In the monkish 
chronicles, the merits of sovereigns are almost exclusively 
judged by their bounty to the Church, and in some 
cases this is the sole part of their policy which has been 
preserved.^ 

There were, no doubt, a few redeeming points in this 
dark period. The Irish monks are said to have been 
honourably distinguished for their reluctance to accept 
tiie lavish donations of their admirers,^ and some mis- 
sionary monasteries of a high order of excellence were 
scattered through Europe. A few legends, too, may 
perhaps be cited censuring the facility with which money 
acquired by crime was accepted as an atonement for 
crime.^ But these cases were very rare, and the religious 

tection, by exaggerating his virtues, his miracles, and consequently his 
power of serving those who paid liberally for his patronage.' — Middle Ages^ 
ch. ix. part i. I do not think this passage makes sufficient allowance for 
the unconscious formation of many saintly myths, but no impartial person 
doubts its substantial truth. 

^ Sismondi, Hid. des Frangais, tome ii. pp. 54, 62-63. 

' Milman*s Hist, of Latin Christianity, voL iL p. 257. 

* Durandus, a French bishop of the thirteenth century, tells how, 
' when a certain bishop was consecrating a church built out of the fruits of 
usury and pillage, he saw behind the altar the devil in a pontifical vestment, 
standing in the bishop's throne, who said unto the bishop, *' Cease from 
consecrating the church; for it pertaineth to my jurisdiction, since it is 
built from the fruits of usuries and robberies." Then the bishop and the 
clergy having fled thence in fear, immediately the devil destroyed that 
church with a great noise.' — Bationale Divinarum, L 6 (translated for the 
Camden Society). 

A certain St Launomar is said to have refused a gift for his monastery 
from a rapacious noble, because he was sure it was derived from pillage. 
(Montalembert's Moines d Occident, tome ii. pp. 860-351.) V^hen pro- 
stitutes were converted in the early Church, it was a rule that the money 
of which they had become possessed should never be applied to eccle- 
siastical purposes, but should be distributed among the poor. 



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232 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

history of several centuries is little more than a history 
of the rapacity of priests and of the credulity of laymen. 
In England, the perpetual demands of the Pope excited 
a fierce resentment; and we may. trace with remarkable 
clearness, in every page of Mathew Paris, the alienation 
of sympathy arising from this cause, which prepared and 
foreshadowed the final rupture of England from the 
Church. Ireland, on the other hand, had been given 
over by two Popes to the English invader, on the con- 
dition of the payment of Peter's pence. The outrageous 
and notorious immorality of the monasteries, during the 
century before the Eeformation, was chiefly due to their 
great wealth, and that immorality, as the writings of 
Erasmus and XJlric Von Hutten show, gave a powerful 
impulse to the new movement, while the abuses of the 
indulgences were the immediate cause of the revolt of 
Luther. But these things arrived only after many cen- 
turies of successful fraud; The religious terrorism that 
was unscrupulously employed had done its work, and the 
chief riches of Christendom had passed into the coffers of 
the Church. 

The part which was played by the Catholic doctrine of 
future torture was indeed probably greater in the monas- 
tic phase of the Church than it had been even in the great 
work of converting the Pagans. Although two or three 
amiable theologians had made faint and altogether abor- 
tive attempts to question the eternity of punishment ; al- 
though there had been some slight difference of opinion 
concerning the future of some Pagan philosophers who 
had hved before the introduction of Christianity, and also 
upon the question whether infants who died unbaptised 
were simply deprived of all joy, or were actually sub- 
jected to never-ending agony, there was no question as to 
the main features of the Cathohc doctrine. According 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAQNR 233 

to the patristic theologians, it was part of the gospel 
revelation that the misery and suffering the human race 
endures upon earth is but a feeble image of that which 
awaits it in the future world ; that the entire human race 
beyond the Church, as well as a very large proportion of 
those who are within its pale, are doomed to an eternity 
of agony in a hteral and undying fire. The monastic 
legends took up this doctrine, which in itself is sufficiently 
revolting, and they developed it with an appaUing vivid- 
ness and minutene^. St. Macarius, it is said, when 
walking one day through the desert, saw a skull upon the 
ground. He struck it with his staff and it began to speak. 
It told him that it was the skull of a Pagan priest who had 
lived before the introduction of Christianity into the world, 
and who had accordingly been doomed to hell. As high 
as the heaven is above the earth, so high does the fire of 
hell mount in waves above the souls that are plunged 
into it. The damned souls were pressed together back to 
back, and the lost priest made it his single entreaty to the 
saint, that he would pray that they might be turned face 
to face, for he believed that the sight of a brother's face 
might afford him some faint consolation in the eternity of 
agony that was before him.* The story is well known of 
how St. Gregory, seeing on a bas-relief a representation 
of the goodness of Trajan to a poor widow, pitied the 
Pagan emperor, whom he knew to be in hell, and he 
prayed that he might be released. He was told that his 
prayer was altogether xmprecedented ; but at last, on his 
promising that he would never make such a prayer again, 
it was partially granted. Trajan was not withdrawn 
from hell, but he was freed from the torments which the 
remainder of the Pagan world endured.^ 

» Verba Semorum, Prol. § 172. 

' This Tision is not related by St. Qregory himself, and some Catholics 

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284 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

An entire literature of visions describing the torments 
of hell, was soon produced by the industry of the monks. 
The apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus, which purported 
to describe the descent of Christ into the lower world, 
contributed to foster it, and St. Gregory the Great has 
related many visions in a more famous work, which pro- 
fessed to be compiled with scrupulous veracity from the 
most authentic sources,^ and of which it may be confi- 
dently averred, that it scarcely contains a single page 
which is not tainted with grotesque and deliberate false- 
hood. Men, it was said, passed into a trance or tem- 
porary death, and were then carried for a time to hell. 
Among others, a certain man named Stephen, from whose 
lips the saint declares that he had heard the tale, had died 
by mistake. When his soul was borne to the gates of 
hell, the Judge declared that it was another Stephen who 
was wanted ; the disembodied spirit, after inspecting hell, 
was restored to its former body, and the next day it was 
known that another Stephen had died.^ Volcanoes were 
the portals of hell, and a hermit had seen the soul of the 
Arian emperor Theodoric, as St. Eucherius afterwards 
did the soul of Charles Martel, carried down that in the 
Island of Lipari.^ The craters in Sicily, it was remarked, 
were continually agitated and continually increasing, and 
this, as St. Gregory observes, was probably due to the 

are perplexed about it, on account of the vision of another saint, who 
afterwards asked whether Trajan was saved; and received for answer, ' I wish 
men to rest in ignorance of this subject, that the Catholics may become 
stronger. For this emperor, though he had great virtues, was an un- 
baptised iniidel.' The whole subject of the vision of St. Gregory is dis- 
cussed by Champagny, Les AnUminSy tome i. pp. 372-873. This devout 
writer says, * Cette l^ende fut acd^pt^ par tout le moyen-4ge, indtUgeni 
pour lea pmens Uhutres et tout dispose k les supposer chn^tiens et sauv^' 

^ See the solenm asseveration of the care which hd took in going only 
to the most credible and authorised sources for his materials, in the Preface to 
the First Book of Dialogues. 

« Died. iv. 36. » Dial. iv. 30. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 286 

impending ruin of the world, when the great press of 
lost souls would render it necessary to enlarge the ap- 
proaches to their prisons.^ 

But the glimpses of heU that are furnished in the 
' Dialogues ' of St. Gregory appear meagre and unimagin- 
ative, compared with those of some later monks. A long 
series of monastic visions, of which that of St. Fursey, in 
the seventh century, was one of the first, and which fol- 
lowed in rapid succession, till that of Tundale, in the 
twelfth century, professed to describe with the most de- 
tailed accuracy the condition of the lost.^ It is impos- 
sible to conceive more ghastly, grotesque, and material 
conceptions of the future world than they evince, or more 
hideous calumnies against that Being who was supposed 
to inflict upon His creatures such imspeakable misery. 
The devil was represented bomid by red-hot chains, on 
a burning gridiron in the centre of heU. The screams 
of his never-ending agony made its rafters to resoimd ; 
but his hands were fi*ee, and with these he seized the lost 
souk, crushed them like grapes against his teeth, and 
then drew them by his breath down the fiery cavern of 
his throat. Daemons with hooks of red-hot iron plunged 
souls alternately into fire and ice. Some of the lost were 
hung up by their tongues, other were sawn asunder, 

1 Dial iv. 36. 

* The fuUe^fc collection of these visions with which I am acquainted, is 
that made for the Philobihlon Society (toI. ix.)^ by M. Delepierre, cidled 
VEnfer dicrit par ceux qui roni vu, of which 1 have largely availed myself. 
See, too, Wright's Purgatory of St. Patrick^ and an interesting collection of 
visions given by Mr. LongfeUow, in his translation of Dante. In an older 
work, Rosea Be Inferno, there is, I believe, a complete collection of these 
visions, but it has not come in my way. The Irish saints were, I am sorry 
to say, prominent in producing this branch of literature. St Fursey, whose 
vision is one of the earliest, and Tondale, or Tundale, whose vision is one 
of the most detailed, were both Irish. The English historians contain 
several of these visions. Bede relates two or three — William of Malmes- 
bury that of Charles the Fat; Mathew Paris Uiree visions of purgatory. 



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23(5 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

Others gnawed by serpents, others beaten together on an 
anvil and welded into a single mass, others boiled and 
then strained through a cloth, others twined in the em- 
braces of daemons whose limbs were of flame. The fire 
of earth, it was said, was but a picture of that of hell. 
The latter was so immeasurably more intense, that it 
alone could be called real. Sulphur was mixed with it, 
partly to increase its heat, and partly, too, in order that an 
insufferable stench might be added to the misery of the 
lost, while, unlike other flames, it emitted, according to 
some visions, no Ught, that the horror of darkness might be 
added to the horror of pain. A narrow bridge spanned 
the abyss, and from it the souls of sinners were plxmged 
into the darkness that was below.* 

Such catalogues of horrors, tJiough they now awake 
in an educated man a sentiment of mingled disgust, 
weariness, and contempt, were able for many centuries to 
create a degree of panic and of misery we can scarcely 
revise. With the exception of the heretic Pelagius, whose 
noble genius, anticipating the discoveries of modem 
science, had repudiated the theological notion of death 
having been introduced into the world on account of the 
act of Adam, it was universally held among Christians, 
that all the forms of suffering and dissolution that are 
manifested on earth were penal inflictions. The destruc- 
tion of the world was generally believed to be at hand. 
The minds of men were filled with the images of the 
approaching catastrophe, and innumerable legends of 
visible daemons were industriously circulated. It was 
the custom then, as it is the custom now, for Catholic 

* The narrow bridge over hell ^ some yisioDS covered with spikes), 
which is a conspicuous feature in the Mohammedan pictures of the future 
world, appears very often in Catholic visions. See Greg. Tur. iv. 33 j St 
Greg. DiaL iv. 36; and the vision of Tundale, in Delepierre. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 237 

priests to stain the imaginations of young children by 
ghastly pictures of future misery, to imprjnt upon the 
virgin mind atrocious images which they hoped, not im- 
reasonably, might prove indelible.^ In hours of weakness 
and of sickness their overwrought fancy seemed to see 
hideous beings hovering around, and hell itself yawning 
to receive its victim. St. Gregory describes how][a monk, 
who though apparently a man of exemplary and even 
saintly piety, had been accustomed secretly to eat meat, 
saw on his deathbed a fearful dragon twining its tail round 
his body, and with open jaws sucking his breath ;^ and 
how a little boy of five years old, who had learnt from his 

^ Few Englishmen, I imagine, are aware of the infamous publications 
written with this object, that are circulated by the Catholic priests among 
the poor. I have before me a tract ' for children and young persons/ called 
The Sight of HeUy by the Rev. J. Fumiss, O.S.S.R, published, 'permissu 
superionim,' by Du% (Dublin and London). It is a detailed descrip- 
tion of the dimgeons of hell, and a few sentences may serve as a sample. 
' See ! on the middle of that red-hot floor stands a girl ; she looks about six- 
teen years old. Her feet are bare. She has neither shoes nor stockings. 
. . . Listen ! she speaks. She says, I have been standing on this red-hot 
floor for years. Day and night my only standing-place has been this red-hot 
floor. . . . Look at my burnt and bleeding feet. Let me go off* this burning 
floor for one moment, only for one single short moment. . . . The fourth 
dungeon is the boiling kettle ... in the middle of it there is a boy. . . . 
His eyes are burning like two burning coals. Two long flames come out of 
his ears. . . . Sometimes he opens his mouth, and blazing fire rolls out. 
But listen ! there is a sound like a kettle boiling. . . . The blood is boiling 
in the scalded veins of that boy. The brain is boiling and bubbling in his 
head. The marrow is boiling in his bones. . . . The fifth dungeon is the 
red-hot oven. . . . The little child is in thw red-hot oven. Hear how it 
screams to come out. See how it turns and twists itself about in the fiie. 
It beats its head against the roof of the oven. It stamps its little feet on 
the floor. . . . God was very good to this child. Very likely God saw it 
would get worse and worse, and would never repent, and so it would have 
to be punished much more in hell. So God in his mercy called it out of 
the world in its early childhood.' If the reader desires to follow this sub- 
ject further, he may glance over a companion tract by the same reverend 
gentleman, called A Terrible Judgment on a Lt'Ule ChUd j and also a 
book on Hell^ translated from the Italian of Finamonti, and with illustra- 
tions depicting the various tortures. 
• St Greg. DidL iv. 38. 



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238 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

father to repeat blasphemous words, saw, as he lay dying, 
exulting daemons who were waiting to carry him to hell.* 
To the jaundiced eye of the theologian, all nature seemed 
stricken and forlorn, and its brightness and beauty sug* 
gested no ideas but those of deception and of sin^ The 
redbreast, according to one popular legend, was commis- 
sioned by the Deity to carry a drop of water to the souls 
of unbaptised infants in hell, and its breast was singed in 
piercing the flames.^ In the calm, still hour of evening, 
when the peasant boy asked why the sinking sun, as it 
dipped beneath the horizon, flushed with such a glorious 
red, he was answered, in the words of an old Saxon 
catechism, because it is then looking into hell.^ 

It is related in the vision of Tundale, that as he gazed 
upon the burning plains of hell, and listened to the 
screams of ceaseless and hopeless agony that were wrung 
from the sufferers, the cry broke from his hps, *Alas, 
Lord, what truth is there in what I have so often heard 
— the earth is filled with the mercy of God?'* It is 
indeed one of the most curious things in moral history, 
to observe how men who were sincerely indignant with 
Pagan writers for attributing to their divinities the frailties 
of an occasional jealousy or an occasional sensuality, for 

1 Ibid. iv. 18. 

« Alger's History of the Doctrine of a Future Life (New York, 1860), 
p. 414. The ignis fatuus was sometimes supposed to be the soul of an un- 
baptised child. There is, I believe, another Catholic legend about the red- 
breast, of a very different kind — that its breast was stained with blood when 
it was trying to pull out the thorns from the crown of Christ. 

' Wright's Purgatory of St, Patrick^ p. 26. M. Delepierre quotes a 
curious theory of Father Hardouin (who is chiefly known for his sugges- 
tion that the classics were composed by the mediieval monks) that the rota- 
tion of the earth is caused by the lost souls trying to escape from the fire 
that is at the centre of the globe, climbing, in consequence, on the inner 
crust of the earth, which is the wall of hell, and thus making the whole 
reyolve, as the squirrel by climbing turns its cage I {VEnfer eUcrit par oeua> 
qui font w, p. 151.) * Delepierre, p. 70, 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 2S9 

representing them, in a word, like men of mingled cha- 
racters and passions, have nevertheless unscrupulously 
attributed to their own Divinity a degree of cruelty which 
may be confidently said to transcend the utmost bar- 
barity of which human nature is capable. Neither Nero 
nor Phalaris could have looked complacently for ever 
on millions enduring the torture of fire — most of them 
because of a crime which was committed, not by them- 
selves, but by their ancestors, or because they had 
adopted some mistaken conclusion on intricate questions 
of history or metaphysics.* To those who do not regard 
such teaching as true, it must appear without exception 
the most odious in the religious history of the world, 
subversive of the very foundations of morals, and well 
fitted to transform the man who at once realised it, and 

* Thus Jeremy Taylor, in two singularly unrhetorical and unimpassioned 
chapters, deliberately enumerates the most atrocious acts of cruelty in human 
hidtory, and says that they are surpassed by the tortures inflicted by the 
Deity. A few instances will suffice. Certain persons ' put rings of iron 
stuck fast with sharp points of needles, about their arms and feet, in such a 
manner as the prisoners could not move without wounding themselves ; 
then they compassed them about with fire, to the end that, standing still, 
they might be burnt aliye, and if they stirred the sharp points pierced their 
fie^ . . . What, then, shall be the torment of the damned where they shall 
bum eternally without dying, and without the possibility of removing ? . . 
Alexander, the son of Uyrcanus, caused eight hundred to be crucified, and whilst 
they were yet alive caused their wives and children to be murdered before 
their eyes, that so they might not die once, but many deaths. This rigour 
shall not be wanting in helL . . . Mezentius tied a living body to the dead 
until the putrefied exhalations of the dead had killed the living. . . . What 
is this in respect of hell, when each body of the damned is more loathsome 
and unsavoury than a million of dead dogs ? . . . Bonaventure says, if one 
of the danmed were brought into this world it were sufficient to infect tho 
whole earth. . . . We are amazed to think of the inhumanity of Phalaris, 
who roasted m6n alive in his brazen bull. That was a joy in respect of 
that fire of hell. . . . The torment . . . C3mprises as many torments as the 
body of man has joints, sinews, arteries, &c., being caused by that pene- 
trating and real fire, of which this temporal fire is but a painted fire. . . . 
What comparison will there be between burning for an hundred yeai's* 
space, and to be burning without interruption as long as God is God P * — 
Contemplatums on the State of Man, book ii. ch. 6-7. 



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240 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

who accepted it with pleasure, into a monster of barbarity. 
Of the writers of the mediaeval period, certainly one of 
the two or three most eminent was Peter Lombard, whose 
* Sentences/ though now, I believe, but little read, were 
for a long time the basis of all theological literature in 
Europe. More than four thousand theologians are said 
to have written commentaries upon them^ — among 
others, Albert the Great, St. Bonaventura, and St. Thomaa 
Aquinas. Nor is the work unworthy of its former re- 
putation. Calm, clear, logical, subtle, and concise, the 
author professes to expound the whole system of CathoUc 
theology and ethics, and to reveal the interdependence of 
their various parts. Having explained the position and 
the duties, he proceeds to examine the prospects, of man. 
He maintains that until the day of judgment the in- 
habitants of heaven and hell will continually see one 
another ; but that, in the succeeding eternity, the inhabit- 
ants of heaven alone will see those of the opposite world ; 
and he concludes his great work by this most impressive 
passage. * In the last place, we must enquire whether the 
sight of the punishment of the condemned will impair 
the glory of the blest, or whether it will augment their 
beatitude. Concerning this, Gregory says the sight of 
the pimishment of the lost will not obscure the beatitude 
of the just ; for when it is accompanied by no compassion 
it can be no diminution of happiness. And although 
their own joys might suffice to the just, yet to their 
greater glory they will see the pains of the evil, which 
by grace they have escaped. . . . The elect will go forth, 
not indeed locally, but by inteUigence and by a clear 
vision, to behold the torture of the impious, and as they 
see them they will not grieve. Their minds will be sated 

* Perrone, Hidoria TheologuB cttm PhUosophia comparaia Synopm, p. 29. 
Peter Lombard's work was published in a.d. 1160. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. S41 

ynth joy as they gaze on the unspeakable anguish of 
the impious, retumii^ thanks for their own freedom. 
Thus Esaias, describing the torments of the impious, and 
the joy of the righteous in witnessing it, says, * The elect 
in truth will go out and will see the corpses of men who 
have prevaricated against Him ; their worm will not die, 
cmd they will be to the satiety of vision to all flesh, that 
is, to the elect. The just man will rejoice when he shall 
see the vengeance.'^ 

This passion for visions of heaven and hell was, in 
fact, a natural continuation of the passion for dogmatic 
definition, which had raged during the fifth century. It 
was natural that men, whose ciuiosity had left no con- 
ceivable question of theology undefined, should have 
endeavoured to describe with corresponding precision the 
condition of the dead. Much, however, was due to the 
hallucinations of solitary and ascetic life, and much more 
to deliberate imposture. It is impossible for men to con* 
tinue long in a condition of extreme panic, and supersti- 
tion speedily discovers remedies to alky the fears it had 
created. K a maUcious daemon was hovering around 
the behever, and if the jaws of hell were opening to 

* ' Postremo qunritur, An pcena reproborum yisa decoloret gloriam bea- 
torum P an eorum beatitudini proficiat ? De hoc ita GregoriuB ait; Apud 
animnrn justorum non obfuscat beatitudinem aspecta pcena reproborum; 
quia ubi jam compassio miserin non erity minuere beatorum Isetitiam non 
TaleMt. Et licet justis sua gaudia Bufficiant, ad majorem gloriam yident 
poenas malorum quas per gratiam eyasenmt. . . . Egredientur eigo electi^ 
non loco, sed intelligentia vel visione manifesta ad videndum impiorum cm- 
ciatus ; quoe yidentee non dolore afficientur sed Itetitia satiabuntur, agentes 
gratiaa de sua liberatione visa impiorum inefiabili calamitate. Unde Esaias 
impiorum tormenta describens et ex eorum yisione lietitiam bonorum expri- 
mens, ait, Egredientur electi scilicet et yidebunt cadavera yirorum qui 
prsBTaricati Mimt in me. , Vermis eorum non morietur et ignis non extin- 
g^etur, et erunt usque ad satietatem visionid omni cami, id est electis. 
Lntabitur Justus cum viderit vindictam.'— Peter Lombard, SenUn. lib. iv. 
finis. These amiable views haye often been expressed both by Catholic and 
by Puritan divines. See Alger's Doctrine of a Future lAfej p. 541. 
VOL. II. E 

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842 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

receive him, he was defended, on the other hand, by 
countless angels ; a lavish gift to a Church or monastery 
could always enlist a saint in his behalf, and priestly 
power could protect him against the dangers which 
priestly sagacity had revealed. When the angels were 
weighing the good and evil deeds of a dead man, the 
latter were found by far to preponderate ; but a priest of 
St. Lawrence came in, and turned the scale by throwing 
down among the former a heavy gold chalice, which the 
deceased had given to the altar.^ Dagobert was snatched 
from the very arms of daemons by St. Denis, St. Maurice, 
and St. Martin.' Charlemagne was saved, because the 
monasteries he had built outweighed his evil deeds.^ 
Others, who died in mortal sin, were raised from tho 
dead at the desire of their patron saint, to expiate their 
guilt. To amass reUcs, to acquire the patronage of 
saints, to endow monasteries, to build churches, became 
the chief part of religion, and the more the terrors of the 
unseen world were unfolded, the more men sought 
tranquillity by the consolations of superstition.* 

The extent to which the custom of materialising re- 
ligion was carried, can only be adequately realised by 
those who have examined the mediaeval hterature itself. 
That which strikes a student in perusing this Uteratiu-e, 
is not so much the existence of these superstitions, as 



^ Legenda Aurea. There is a curious fresco representing this transactiony 
on the portal of the church of St. Lorenzo, near Rome. 

^ Aimoniy De Oedis Francorum Hid, iv. 34. 

* Turpin*8 Ckranicie, ch. 32. In the vision of Watlin, however (a J). 824), 
Charlemagne was seen tortured in purgatory on account of his excessive love 
of women. (Delepierre, L'Enfer dSorit par cmx qui font vu, pp. 27-28.) 

^ As the Abh6 Mably observes : ' On crojoit en quelque sorte dans oes 
si^es grossiers que I'avarice ^toit le premier attribut de Dieu, et que les 
saints faisoient un commerce de leur credit et de leur protection. De-U les 
richesses immenses donn^ aux ^lises par des hommes dont les mceiisi 
d^shonoroient la religion,* -^Observations sur VHist, dfi France, i. 4. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 248 

their extraordinary multiplication, the many thousands of 
grotesque miracles wrought by saints, monasteries, or 
relics, that were deliberately asserted and universally 
believed. Christianity had assumed a form that was 
quite as polytheistic and quite as idolatrous as the 
ancient Paganism. The low level of intellectual culti- 
vation, the religious feelings of half-converted barbarians, 
the interests of the clergy, the great social importance of 
the monasteries, and perhaps also the custom of com- 
pounding for nearly all crimes by pecuniary fines, which 
was so general in the penal system of the barbarian 
tribes, combined in their different ways, with the panic 
created by the fear of hell, in driving men in the same 
direction, and the wealth and power of the clergy rose 
to a point that enabled them to overshadow all other 
classes. They had found, as has been well said, in an- 
other world, the standing-point of Archimedes from which 
they could move this. No other system had ever ap- 
peared so admirably fitted to endure for ever. The 
Church had crushed or silenced every opponent in 
Christendom. It had an absolute control over education 
in all its branches and in all its stages. It had absorbed 
ail the speculative knowledge and art of Europe. It 
possessed or commanded wealth, rank, and military 
power. It had so directed its teaching, that everything 
which terrified or distressed mankind drove men speedily 
into its arms, and it had covered Europe with a vast net- 
work of institutions, admirably adapted to extend and 
perpetuate its power. In addition to all this, it had 
guarded with consummate skill aU the approaches to its 
citadel. Every doubt was branded as a sin, and a long 
course of doubt must necessarily have preceded the 
rejection of its tenets. All the avenues of enquiry were 
painted with images of appalling suffering, and of maU- 

B 2 

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g44 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

cious daemons. No sooner did the worshipper begin to 
question any article of faith, or to lose his confidence in 
the virtue of the ceremonies of his Church, than he was 
threatened with a doom that no human heroism could 
brave, that no imagination could contemplate undismayed. 
Of all the suffering that was undergone by those brave 
men who in ages of ignorance and superstition dared to 
break loose from the trammels of their Church, and who 
laid the foundation of the hberty we now enjoy, it is 
this which was probably the most poignant, and which is 
the least realised. Our imaginations can reproduce with 
much vividness gigantic massacres like those of the Albi- 
genses or of St. Bartholomew. We can conceive, too, the 
tortures of the rack and of the boots, the dungeon, the 
scaffold, and the slow fire. We can estimate, though less 
perfectly, the anguish which the bold enquirer must have 
undergone from the desertion of those he most dearljT 
loved, from the hatred of mankind, from the malignant 
calumnies that were heaped upon his name. But in the 
chamber of his own soul, in the hours of his sohtary 
meditation, he must have found elements of a suffering 
that was still more acute. Taught from his earliest 
childhood to regard the abandonment of his hereditary 
opinions as the most deadly of crimes, and to ascribe 
it to the instigation of deceiving daemons, persuaded 
that if he died in a condition of doubt he must pass 
into a state of everlasting torture, his imagination satu- 
rated with images of the most hideous and appalling 
anguish, he found himself alone in . the world, strugghng 
with his difficulties and his doubts. There existed no 
rival sect in which he could take refiige, and where, in the 
professed agreement of many minds, he could forget the 
anathemas of the Church. Physical science, that has dis- 
proved the theological theories which attribute death to 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 246 

human sin, and suffering to Divine vengeance, and all na- 
tural phenomena to isolated acts of Divine intervention — 
historical criticism, which has dispelled so many imposing 
fabrics of behef, traced so many elaborate superstitions 
to the normal action of the undiscipUned imagination, and 
explained ahd defined the successive phases of religious 
progress, were both unknown. Every comet that blazed 
in the sky, every pestilence that swept over the land, 
appeared a confirmation of the dark threats of the theo- 
logian. A spirit of bUnd and abject creduhty, inculcated 
as the first of duties, and exhibited on all subjects and in 
all forms, pervaded the atmosphere he breathed. Who can 
estimate aright -the obstacles against which a sincere en- 
quirer in such an age must have struggled ? Who can 
conceive the secret anguish he must have endured in the 
long months or years during which rival arguments 
gained an alternate sway over his judgment, while all 
doubt was still regarded as damnable ? And even when 
his mind was convinced, his imagination would still often 
revert to his old behef. Our thoughts in after years flow 
spontaneously, and even unconsciously, in the channels 
that are formed in youth. In moments when the con- 
trolling judgment has relaxed its grasp, old intellectual 
habits reassume their sway, and images painted on the 
imagination will live, when the intellectual propositions 
on which they rested have been wholly abandoned. In 
hours of weakness, of sickness, and of drowsiness, in the 
feverish and anxious moments that are known to all, when 
the mind floats passively upon the stream, the phantoms 
which reason had exorcised must have often reappeared, 
and the bitterness of an ancient tyranny must have en- 
tered into his soul. 

It is one of the greatest of the many services that were 
rendered to mankind ])j the Troubadours, that they cast 



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24« HISTOHY of EUROPEAN MORALS. 

such a flood of ridicule upon the visions of hell, by which 
the monks had been accustomed to terrify mankind, that 
they completely discredited and almost suppressed them.^ 
Whether, however, the Cathohc mind, if imassisted by the 
Hterature of Paganism and by the independent thinkers 
who grew up under the shelter of Mahommedanism, could 
have ever unwound the chains that had bound it, may well 
be questioned. The growth of towns, which multiplied 
secular interests and feelings, the revival of learning, the 
depression of the ecclesiastical classes that followed the 
crusades, and at last, the dislocation of Christendom by 
the Keformation, gradually impaired the ecclesiastical 
doctrine, which ceased to be realised before it ceased to 
be believed. There was, however, another doctrine which 
exercised a still greater influence in augmenting the 
riches of the clergy, and in making donations to the 
Church the chief part of religion. I allude, of course, to 
the doctrine of purgatory. 

A distinguished modem apologist for the middle ages 
has made this doctrine the object of his special and very 
characteristic eulogy, because, as he says, by providing a 
finite punishment graduated to every variety of guilt, and 
adapted for those who, without being sufficiently virtuous 
to pass at once into heaven, did not appear sufficiently 
vicious to pass into hell, it formed an indispensable 
corrective to the extreme terrorism of the doctrine of 
eternal punishment.^ This is one of those theories which, 
though exceedingly popular with a large and influential 
class of the writers of our day, must appear, I think, 
almost grotesque to those who have examined the ac- 
tual operation of the doctrine during the middle ages. 

1 Many curious examples of the way in which the Troubadours burlesqued 
the monkish visions of hell are given by Delepierre, p. 144. — Wright's Ar- 
gatory of St. Patrick, pp. 47-62. 

• Comte, Philo$ophie pomtive, tome v. p. 269, 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 247 

According to the practical teaching of the Church, the 
expiatory powers at the disposal' of its clergy were so 
great, that those who died believing its doctrines, and 
fortified in their last hours by its rites, had no cause 
whatever to dread the terrors of heU, On the other 
hand, those who died external to the Church had no 
prospect of entering into purgatory. This latter was 
designed altogether for true believers; it was chiefly 
preached at a time when no one was in the least disposed 
to question the powers of the Church to absolve any 
crime, however heinous, or to free the worst men from 
hell, and it was assuredly never regarded in the light of a 
consolation. Indeed, the popular pictures of purgatory 
were so terrific that it may be almost doubted whether 
the imagination could ever ftdly realise, though the reason 
could easily recognise the difference between this state 
and that of the lost. The fire of purgatory, according to 
the most eminent theologians, was hke the fire of hell — a 
literal fire, prolonged, it was sometimes said, for ages. 
The declamations of the pulpit described the sufferings 
of the saved souls in purgatory as incalculably greater 
than were endured by the most wretched mortals upon 
earth.^ The rude artists of mediaevalism exhausted their 

* ' Saint-Beniard, dans son sermon De obitu HumberH, affinne que tons 
les tourments de cette Tie sont joies si on les compare k une seconde des 
peines da purgatoire. " Imaginez-vous done, d^licates dames/' dit le p^re 
Valladier (1613) dans son sermon da 8"* dimanche de TAventy 'M'estre au 
travers de yos chenets, sar vostre petit feu pour une centaine d*ans : ce n'est 
rien au respect d'un moment de purgatoire. Mais si vous yistes jamais tirer 
quelqu'un a quatre chevaux, quelqu*un brusler k petit feu^ enrager de faim 
on de soif, une heure de purgatoire est pire que tout cela.'' ' — Meray, Let 
Ubres PrichewB (Paris, 1860), pp. 130-131 (an extremely curious and sugges- 
tive book). I now take up the first contemporary book of popular Catholic 
devotion on this subject, which is at hand, and read, ' Compared with the 
pains of purgatory, then aU those wounds and dark prisons, aU those wild 
beasts, hooks of iron, red-hot plates, &c., which the holy martyrs suffered| 
are nothing.' * They (souls in purgatory) are in a real, though miraculous 



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248 mSTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

efforts in depicting the writhings of the dead in the 
flames that encircled them. Innumerable visions detailed 
with a ghastly minuteness the various kinds of torture they 
underwent/ and the monk, who described what he pro- 
fessed to have seen, usually ended by the characteristic 
moral, that could men only reahse those sufferings, they 
would shrink from no sacrifice to rescue their friends 
from such a state. A special place, it was said, was 
reserved in purgatory for those who had been slow in 
paying their tithes.^ St. Gregory tells a curious story of 
a man who was, in other respects, of admirable virtue ; 
but who, in a contested election for the popedom, sup- 
ported the wrong candidate, and without, as it would 
appear, in any degree refusing to obey the successful 
candidate when elected, continued secretly of opinion 
that the choice was an unwise one. He was accordingly 
placed for some time after death in boiling water.^ 
Whatever may be thought of its other aspects, it is im- 
possible to avoid recognising in this teaching a masteriy 

manner, tortured by fire, which is of the same kind (says Bellannine) as dor 
element fire.' ' The Angelic Doctor affirms *' that the fire which torments 
the damned is like the fire which purges the elect." ' * What agony will 
not those holy souls suffer when tied and bound with the most tormenting 
chains of a living fire like to that of hell P and we, while able to make 
them free and happy, shall we stand like uninterested spectators ? * 'St. 
Austin is of opinion that the pains of a soul in purgatory during the time 
required to open and shut one's eye, is more severe than what St. Lawrence 
suffered on the gridiron ; ' and much more to the same effect {Purgatory 
opened to the Piety of the Faithful, Richardson, London.) 

^ See Delepierre, Wright, and Alger. 

' This appears from the yidon of Thurcill. (Wright's Purgatory, p. 42.) 
Brompton (Chronicon) tells of an English landlord who had refused to pay 
tithes. St. Augustine, having vainly reasoned with him, at last convinced 
him by a miracle. Before celebrating mass he ordered fdl excommunicated 
persons to leave the church, whereupon a corpse got out of a grave and 
walked away. The corpse, on being questioned, said it was the body of an 
ancient Briton who refused to pay tithes, and had in consequence been 
excommunicated and damned. 

» Chreg. Dial. iv. 40. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 249 

skill in the adaptation of means to ends, which almost 
rises to artistic beauty. A system which deputed its 
minister to go to the unhappy widow in the first dark 
hour of her anguish and her desolation, to tell her that 
he who was dearer to her than all the world besides was 
now burning in a fire, and that he could only be reheved 
by a gift of money to the priests, was assuredly of its 
own kind not without an extraordinary merit. 

K we attempt to realise the moral condition of the 
society of Western Europe in the period that elapsed be- 
tween the downfall of the Eoman empire and Charle- 
magne, during which the religious transformations I have 
noticed chiefly arose, we shall be met by some formidable 
difficulties. In the first place, our materials are very scanty. 
From the year a.d. 642, when the meagre chronicle of 
Fredigarius closes, to the biography of Charlemagne by 
I^inhard, a century later, there is almost a complete 
blank in trustworthy history, and we are reduced to a 
few scanty and very doubtful notices in the chronicles of 
monasteries, the lives of saints, and the decrees of Councils. 
All secular literature had almost disappeared, and the 
thought of posterity seems to have vanished from the 
world.^ Of the first half of the seventh century, how- 
ever, and of the two centuries that preceded it, we have 
much information from Gregory of Tours, and Fredi- 
garius, whose tedious and repulsive pages illustrate with 
considerable clearness, the conflict of races and the dis- 
location of governments that for centuries existed. In 
Italy, the traditions and habits of the old empire had in 
some degree reasserted their sway, but in Gtaul the 

^ As Sismoodi says, ' Pendant quatre-yingts ans, tout an moins, il n'y eut 
pas un Franc qui songeit k transmettre k la post^ritd la m^oire dee dv^ne- 
ments contemporains, et pendant le mSme espace de temps il n'y eut pas 
un peraonnage puissant qui ne b&tit des temples pour la post^rit^ la plus 
recul^' — Sid, dei Fron^ftome iL p. 46» 



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250 JIISTORY OF EUROPFAN MORALS. 

Church subsisted in the midst of barbarians, whose native 
vigour had never been emasculated by civilisation and 
refined by knowledge. The picture which Gregory of 
Tours gives us is that of a society which was almost abso- 
lutely anarchical. The mind is fatigued by the mono- 
tonous account of acts of violence and of fraud springing 
from no fixed policy, tending to no end, leaving no 
lasting impress upon the world.^ The two queens Fr6- 
d^onde and Brunehaut rise conspicuous above other 
figures for their fierce and undaunted ambition, for the 
fascination they exercised over the minds of multitudes, 
and for the number and atrocity of their crimes. All 
classes seem to have been almost equally tainted with 
vice. We read of a bishop named Cautinus, who had 
to be carried, when intoxicated, by four men from the 
table ; ^ who, upon the refusal of one of his priests to 
surrender some private property, deliberately ordered 
that priest to be buried alive, and who, when the victim, 
escaping by a happy chance from the sepulchre in which 



^ Gibbon sajs of the period during which the Merovingian dynasty 
reigned, that 'it would be difficult to iind anywhere more vice or lees 
virtue.' Hallam reproduces this observation, and adds, * The facts of these 
times are of little other importance than as they impress on the mind a 
thorough notion of the extreme wickedness of almost every person concerned 
iu them, and consequently of the state to which society was reduced.* — Hitt 
of the Middle Ages, ch. i. Dean Milman is equally imfavourable and em- 
phatic in his judgment. * It is difficult to conceive a more dark and odious 
state of society than that of France under h^ Merovingian kings, the de- 
scendants of Clovis, as described by Gregory of Tours. In the conflict of 
barbarism with Roman Christianity, barbarism has introduced into Chris- 
tianity all its ferocity with none of its generosity and magnanimity ; its 
energy shows itself in atrocity of cruelty, and even of sensuality. Chris- 
tianity has given to barbarism hardly more than its superstition and its 
hatred of heretics and imbelievers. Throughout, assassinations, parricides, 
and fratricides intermingle with adulteries and rapes.' — History of Latin 
Christiamty, vol. i. p. 865. 

' Greg. Tur. iv. I^. Gregory mentions (v. 41) another bishop who used 
to become so intoxicated as to be unable to stand, and St Boniface, after 



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FROM CONSTA^'TI^E TO CHARLEMAGNE. 251 

he had been immured, revealed the crime, received no 
greater pimishment than a censure.* The worst sove- 
reigns found flatterers or agents in ecclesiastics. Fr^4- 
gonde deputed two clerks to murder Childebert,^ and 
another derk to murder Brunehaut ; ^ she caused a bishop 
of Kouen to be assassinated at the altar — a bishop and 
an archdeacon being her accomphces;^ and she found 
in another bishop, named JEgidius, one of her most de- 
voted instruments and friends.^ The pope, St. Gregory 
the Great, was an ardent flatterer of Brunehaut.^ Gun- 
debald having murdered his three brothers, was consoled 
by St. Avitus, the Bishop of Vienne, who, without inti- 
mating the slightest disapprobation of the act, assured 
him that by removing his rivals he had been a providen- 
tial agent in preserving the happiness of his people.^ The 
bishoprics were filled by men of notorious debauchery, 
or by grasping misers.® The priests sometimes celebrated 
the sacred mysteries * gorged with food and dull with 
wine.'^ They had already b^un to carry arms, and 

deecribing the extreme sensnality of the clergy of his time, adds, that 
there are some bishops ' qui licet dicant se fomicarioe vel adulteros non 
esse, sed sunt ebriosi et iDJurioei,' &c. — Ep, xlix. 

» Greg. Tut. iv. 12. 

' Id. Tiii. 29. She gave them knives with hollow grooves, filled with 
poison, in the blades. 

» Greg. Tur. vii. 20. * Id. viii. 31-41. 

» Id. V. 19. 

* See his very carious correspondence with her. — Ep, vi. 6, 60, 69 ; ix. 11, 
117 ;xi. 62-63. 

' Avitus, Ep, y. He adds, ' Minuebat regni felicitas numerum regalium 
personarum.' 

^ See the emphatic testimony of St Boni&ce in the eighth century. 
^ Modo autem maxima ex parte per civitates episcopales sedes traditie sunt 
laicis cupidis ad possidendum, vel adulteratis dericis, scortatoribus et 
publicanis saeculariter ad perfiruendum.* — Epid, xlix. ^ad Zachariam.* 
The whole epistle contains an appalling picture of the clerical vices of the 
times. 

* More than one Council made decrees about this. See the Viede St, 
UfftT, by Dom Pitra, pp. 172-177. 



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252 HISTORY OF EtROPEAN MORALS. 

Gregory tells of two bishops of the fifth century who 
had killed many enemies with their own hands.^ There 
was scarcely a reign that was not marked by some atro- 
cious domestic tragedy. There were few sovereigns who 
were not guilty of at least one deUberate murder. Never, 
perhaps, was the infliction of mutilation, and prolonged 
and agonising forms of death, more common. We read, 
among other atrocities, of a bishop being driven to a dis- 
tant place of exile upon a bed of thorns;^ of a king 
burning together his rebellious son, his daughter-in-law, 
and their daughters ;^ of a queen condemning a daughter 
she had had by a former marriage to be drowned, lest 
her beauty should excite the passions of her husband ;* 
of another queen endeavouring to strangle her daughter 
with her own hands ;^ of an abbot, with the assistance of 
one of his clerks, driving a poor man by force out of his 
house, that he might commit adultery with his wife, and 
being murdered, together with his partner, in the act;^ 
of a prince who made it an habitual amusement to torture 
his slaves with fire, and who biuied two of them alive, 
because they had married without his permission ;^ of a 
bishop's wife, who besides other crimes, was accustomed 
to mutilate men and to torture women, by applying red- 
hot irons to the most sensitive parts of their bodies ;® of 

^ Greg. Tur. iv. 43. St Boniface, at a much later period (a.b. 742), 
talks of bishops ' Qui pugnant in exerdtu armati et effiindunt propria mana 
sanguinem hominum.' — £^, zlix. 

« Greg. Tur. iv. 26. » Id. iv; 20. 

4 Id. iii. 26. » Id. ix. 84. 

^ Greg. Tur. viii. 19. Gregory says this story should warn clergymen 
not to meddle with the wives of other people, but ' content themselves with 
those that they may possess without crime.' The abbot had previously 
tried to seduce the husband within the precincts of the monastery, that he 
might murder him. 

7 Greg. Tur. v. 3. 

^ Id. viiL 39. She was guilty of many other crimes, which the his^ 
torian says ' it is better to pass in silence.' The bishop himself had been 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNR 25a 

great numbers who were deprived of their ears and noses, 
tortured through several days, and at last burnt alive or 
broken slowly on the wheel. Brunehaut, at the close of 
her long and in some respects great, though guilty career, 
fell into the hands of Clotaire, and the old queen, having 
been subjected for three days to various kinds of torture, 
was led out on a camel for the derision of the army, and 
at last bound to the tail of a furious horse, and dashed to 
pieces in its course.^ 

And yet this age was, in a certain sense, eminently 
religious. All literature had become sacred. Heresy of 
every kind was rapidly expiring. The priests and monks 
had acquired enormous power, and their wealth was 
inordinately increasing.^ Several sovereigns voluntarily 
abandoned their thrones for the monastic life.^ The 
seventh century, which, together with the eighth, forms 
the darkest period of the dark ages, is famous in the 
hagiology, as having produced more saints than any 
other century, except that of the martyrs.* 

guilty of outrageous and violent tyranny. The maniage of ecclesiastics 
appears at this time to have been common in Qaul, though the best men 
commonly deserted their wives when they were ordained. Another bishop's 
wife (iv. 86) was notorious for her tyrannies. 

* Fredigarius, xlii. The historian describes Clotaire as a perfect paragon 
of Christian graces. 

* 'Au sixi^me si^le on compte 214 ^tablissements religieux des Pyr^n^es 
k la Loire et des bouches du Rh6ne aux Vosges.' — Ozanam, :&ude8 germa- 
niques, tome ii. p. 93. In the two following centuries the ecclesiastical wealth 
was enormously increased. 

' Mathew of Westminster (a.d. 757) speaks of no less than eight -Saxon 
kings having done this. 

* * Le septitoe sifecle est celui peut-Stre qui a donn^ le plus de saints au 
calendrier.* — Sismondi, Hid. de France, tome ii. p. 60. ' Le plus beau titre 
du septieme si^le a une rehabilitation c'est le nombre considerable de 
saints qu*il a produits. . . . Aucun siftcle n'a 6t6 ainsi glorifie sauf Tdge 
des martyrs dont Dieu s'est reserve de compter le nombre. Chaque ann^e 
foumit sa moisson, chaque jour a sa gerbe. ... Si done il plwt k Dieu et au 
Christ de r^pandre k pleines mains sur un si^le les splendeurs des saints 
qu importe que Thistoire et la gloire humaine en tiennent peu compte F '-« 

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254 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

The manner in which events were regarded by his- 
torians was also exceedingly characteristic. Our principal 
authority, Gregory of Tours, was a bishop of great 
eminence, and a man of the most genuine piety, and of 
very strong affections.^ He describes his work as a 
record * of the virtues of saints, and the disasters of 
nations,'^ and the student who turns to his pages from 
those of the Pagan historians, is not more struck by the 
extreme prominence he gives to ecclesiastical events, than 
by the uniform manner in which he views all secular 
events in their religious aspect, as governed and directed 
by a special Providence. Yet, in questions where the 
difference between orthodoxy and heterodoxy are con- 
cerned, his ethics sometimes exhibit the most singular 
distortion. Of this, probably the most impressive example 
is the manner in which he has described the career of 
Clovis, the great representative of orthodoxy.^ Having 
recounted the cu:cumstances of his conversion, Gr^ory 
proceeds to tell us, with undisguised admiration, how 
that chieftain, as the first-fruits of his doctrine, professed 
to be grieved at seeing that part of Gaul was held by an 
Arian sovereign ; how he accordingly resolved to invade 
and appropriate that territory ; how with admirable piety, 
he commanded his soldiers to abstain from all devastations 
when traversing the territory of St. Martin, and how 
several miracles attested the Divine approbation of the 
expedition. The war — ^which is the first of the long 
series of professedly religious wars that have been under- 
taken by Christians — was fully successful, and Clovis 
proceeded to direct his ambition to new fields. In his 

Pitra, Vie de St, Uger, Introd. p. x.-zi. This learned and very credulous 
writer (who is now a cardinal) afterwards says that we have the record of 
more than eight hundred saints of the seventh century. (Introd. p. Ixzx.) 

* See, e.g. the very touching passage about the death of his children, v. 86. 
. * Lib. ii. Prologue. » Greg. Tur. ii 27-43. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 256 

expedition against the Arians, he had found a faithful 
ally in his relative Sighebert, the old and infirm king of 
the Bipuarian Franks. He now proceeded artfully to 
suggest to the son of Sighebert the advantages he would 
obtain if his father were dead. The hint was taken. 
Sighebert was murdered, and Clovis sent ambassadors to 
the parricide, professing a warm friendship, but with 
secret orders on the first opportunity to kill him. This 
being done, and the kingdom being left entirely without 
a head, Clovis proceeded to Cologne, the capital of Sighe- 
bert; he assembled the people, professed with much 
solemnity his horror of the tragedies that had taken place, 
and his complete innocence of all connection with them; ^ 
but suggested, that as they were now without a ruler, they 
should place themselves under his protection. The pro- 
position was received with acclamation. The warriors 
elected him as their king, and thus, says the episcopal 
historian, ' Clovis received the treasures and dominions of 
Sighebert, and added them to his own. Every day God 
caused his enemies to fall beneath his hand, and enlarged 
his kingdom, because he walked with a right heart before 
the Lord, and did the things that were pleasing in his 
sight.' *^ His ambition was, however, still unsated. He 
proceeded, in a succession of expeditions, to unite the 
whole of Gaul under his sceptre, invading, defeating, 
capturing, and slaying the lawful sovereigns, who were 
for the most part his own relations. Having secured 
himself against dangers from without, by kiUing all his 
relations, with the exception of his wife and children, he 

^ He observes how impossible it was that he could be guilty of shedding 
the blood of a relation : ' Sed in his ego nequaquam conscius sum. Nee enim 
possum sanguioem parentum meorum effundere.' — C^reg* Tur. ii. 40. 

' ' Prostemebat enim quotidie Deus hostes ejus sub manu ipsius, et auge- 
bat regnum ejus eo quod ambularet recto corde coram eo; et faceret qu» 
placita erant in oculis ejus/ — Greg. Tur. ii. 40. 



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2fi6 raSTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

is reported to have lamented before his courtiers his 
isolation, declaring that he had no relations remaining in 
the world to assist him in his adversity ; but this speech, 
Gregory assures us, was a stratagem ; for the king desired 
to discover whether any possible pretender to the throne 
had escaped his knowledge and his sword. Soon after, 
he died full of years and honours, and was buried in a 
cathedral which he had built. 

Having recounted all these things with unmoved com- 
posure, Gregory of Tours requests his reader to permit 
him to pause, to draw the moral of the history. It is 
the admirable manner in which Providence guides all 
things for the benefit of those whose opinions concerning 
the Trinity are strictly orthodox. Having briefly re- 
ferred to Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, and David, all 
of whom are said to have intimated the correct doctrine 
on this subject, and all of whom were exceedingly pro- 
sperous, he passes to more modern times. * Arius, the 
impious founder of the impious sect, his entrails having 
fallen out, passed into the flames of hell ; but Hilary, the 
blessed defender of the undivided Trinity, though exiled 
on that account, found his country in Paradise. The 
King Clovis, who confessed the Trinity, and by its assist- 
ance crushed the heretics, extended his dominions through 
all Gaul. Alaric, who denied the Trinity, was deprived 
of his kingdom and his subjects, and, what was far worse, 
was punished in the future world.' ^ 

It would be easy to cite other, though perhaps not 
quite such striking instances, of the degree in which the 
moral judgments of this unhappy age were distorted by 

* Lib. iii. Prologue. St. Avitus enumerates in glowing terms the Chris* 
tian virtues of Clovis (Ep, x\i.), but as this was in a letter addressed to the 
king himself^ the eulogy may easily be explained. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 267 

superstition.^ Questions of orthodoxy, or questions of 
fasting, appeared to the popular mind immeasurably more 
important than what we should now call the fundamental 
principles of right and wrong. A law of Charlemagne, 
and also a law of the Saxons, condemned to death any 
one who eat meat in Lent,^ unless the priest was satisfied 
that it was a matter of absolute necessity. The moral 
enthusiasm of the age chiefly drove men to abandon 
their civic or domestic duties, to immure themselves in 
monasteries, and to waste their strength by prolonged 
and extravagant maceration.^ Yet, in the midst of all 
this superstition, there can be no question that in some 
respects the religious agencies were operating for good. 
The monastic bodies that everywhere arose, formed secure 
asylums for the multitudes who had been persecuted by 
their enemies, constituted an invaluable counterpoise to 
the rude military forces of the time, familiarised the 
imagination of men with reUgious types, that could hardly 
fail in some degree to soften the character, and led the 

* Thus Hallam bbjs, * There are conlinual proofs of immorality in the 
monkish historians. In the history of Rumsej Ahbej, one of our hest . 
documents for Anglo-Saxon times, we have an anecdote of a bishop who 
made a Danish nobleman drunk, that he might cheat him out of an estate, 
which is told with much approbation. Walter de Hemingford records, witli 
excessive delight, the well-known story of the Jews who were persuaded 
by the captain of their vessel to walk on the sands at low water till the 
rising tide drowned them.' — Hallam*s Middle Ages (12th ed.), iii. p. 306. 

^ Canciani, Leges Barbarorttm, yoL iii. p. 64. Canciani notices, that among 
the Poles the teeth of the offending persons were pulled out The follow- 
ing passage, from Bodin, is, I think, very remarkable : — ' Les loix et canons 
yeulent qu'on pardonne aux h^r^tiques repentis (combien que les magistrals 
en quelques lieux par cy-devant, y ont eu tel esgard, que celui qui aroit 
mang^ de la chair au Vendredy estoit brusld tout vi^ comme il fut faict en 
la YUle d' Angers Tan mil cinq cens trente-neuf, s*il ne s*en repentoit : et 
ja^oit qu*il se repentist si estoit-il pendu par compassion).' — D^monomanie 
de$ SoreierSf p. 216. 

' A long list of examples of extreme maceration from lives of the saints of 
the seventh or eighth century is given by Pitra, Vie de 8t.^L6g9r^ Introd. 
pp. cv.-cvii. 

VOL. II. 3 



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268 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

way in most forms of peaceful labour. When men, 
filled with admiration at the reports of the sanctity, and 
the miracles of some illustrious saint, made pilgrimages to 
behold him, and found him attired in the rude garb of a 
peasant, with thick shoes, and with a scythe on his 
shoulder, superintending the labours of the farmers,^ or 
sitting in a small attic mending lamps,^ whatever other 
benefit they might derive from the interview, they could 
scarcely fail to return with an increased sense of the 
dignity of labour. It was probably at this time as much 
for the benefit of the world as of the Church, that the 
ecclesiastical sanctuaries and estates should remain in- 
violate, and the numerous legends of Divine punishment 
having overtaken those who transgressed them,^ attest 
the zeal with which the clergy sought to establish that 
inviolabiUty. The great sanctity that was attached to 
holidays was also an important boon to the servile classes. 
The celebration of the first day of the week, in commemo- 
ration of the resurrection, and as a period of religious 
exercises, dates from the earUest age of the Church. The 
Christian festival was carefully distinguished firom the 
Jewish Sabbath, with which it never appears to have 
been confounded till the close of the sixteenth century ; 
but some Jewish converts who considered the Jewish law 
to be still in force observed both days. In general, how- 
ever, the Christian festival alone was observed, and the 
Jewish Sabbatical obligation, as St. Paul most explicitly 

1 This was related of St. Equitius. — Greg. Dialog. L 4 

' Ibid. L 5. This saint was named Constantias. 

' A vast number of miracles of this kind are recorded. See, e.g.; Greg. 
Tnr. De MtracuHSf i. 61-66 ; Sid, iv. 49. Perhaps the most sbgular in- 
stance of the violation of the sanctity of the chorch was that by the nuns 
of a convent founded by St. Radegunda. They, having broken into rebellioo, 
four bishops, with their attendant clergy, went to compose the dispute, and 
•having failed, they excommunicated the rebels, whereupon the nuns almost 
beat them to death in the church. — Greg. Tur. ix. 41. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 269 

oflfirms, no longer rested upon the Christians. The 
grounds of the observance of Sunday were the mani- 
fest propriety and expediency of devoting a certain por- 
tion of time to devout exercises, the tradition which 
traced the sanctification of Sunday to apostolical times, 
and the right of the Church to appoint certain seasons 
to be kept holy by its members. When Christianity 
acquired an ascendency in the empu:e, its policy on this 
subject was manifested in one of the laws of Constantine, 
which, without making any direct reference to religious 
motives, ordered that, * on the day of the sun,' no servile 
work should be performed except agriculture, which, 
being dependent on the weather, could not, it was thought, 
be reasonably postponed. Theodosius took a step fur- 
ther, and suppressed the public spectacles on that day. 
During the centuries that immediately followed the 
dissolution of the Boman empire, the clergy devoted 
themselves with great and praiseworthy zeal to the sup- 
pression of labour both on Sundays and on the other 
leading Church hoUdays. More than one law was made, 
forbidding all Sunday labour, and this prohibition was 
reiterated by Charlemagne in his Capitularies.* Several 
Councils made decrees on the subject,^ and several legends 
were circulated, of men who had been struck miraculously 
with disease or death, for having been guilty of this sin.^ 
Although the moral side of religion was greatly degraded 
or forgotten, there was, as I have already intimated, one 

* See Oandani, Lege» JBarbarorum, yoL iii. pp. 19, 151. 

' Much informatioii about these measures is given by Dr. Hessey, in his 
Bampton Lectures on Sunday, See, especially, iect 3. See, too, Moehler, 
Le ChiaiamimeetVEsdavage^ pp. 186-187. 

* Gregory of Tours enumerates some instances of this in his extravagant 
book De MiraculUj iL 11 ^ iv. 57 ; y. 7. One of these cases, however, was 
for haying worked on the day of St John the Baptist. Some other miracles 
of the same nature, taken, I believe, from English sources, are given in 
llessey's Sunday (3rd edition), p. 321. 

8 2 



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260 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

important exception. Charity was so interwoven with 
the superstitious parts of ecclesiastical teaching, that it 
continued to grow and flourish in the darkest period. Of 
the acts of Queen Bathilda, it is said we know nothing 
except her donations to the monasteries, and the charity 
with which she purchased slaves and captives, and released 
them or converted them into monks.^ St. Germanus, the 
Bishop of Paris, near the dose of the sixth century, was 
especially famous for his zeal in ransoming captives.^ 
While many of the bishops were men of gross and scan- 
dalous vice, there were always some who laboured 
assiduously in the old episcopal vocation of protecting 
the oppressed, interceding for the captives, and opening 
their sanctuaries to the fugitives. The fame acquired by 
St. Germanus was so great, that prisoners are said to have 
called upon him to assist them, in the interval between 
his death and his burial; and the body of the saint 
becoming miraculously heavy, it was found impossible to 
carry it to the grave till the captives had been released.^ 
In the midst of the complete eclipse of all secular learn- 
ing, in the midst of a reign of ignorance, imposture, and 
credulity which cannot be paralleled in history, there grew 
up a vast legendary literature, clustering around the form 
of the ascetic, and the lives of the saints among very 

* Compare Pitra, Vie de St,~I^ger, p. 137. Sismondi, Hisi, de$ Ihm^is, 
tome ii. p. 62-63. 

* See a remarkable passage from his life, cited by Guizot, Hut, de la Civi^ 
lisation en France, xvii"'* le9on. The English historians contain several in- 
stances of the activity of charity in the darkest period. Alfred and Edward 
the Confessor were conspicuous for it Ethelwolf is said to have provided 
' for the good of his soul/ that, till the day of judgment, one po<Jr man in ten 
should be provided with meat, drink, and clothing. (Asserts Life of Alfred,) 
There was a popular legend of a poor man who, having in vain asked alms 
of some sailors, all the bread in their vessel was turned into stone. (Roger 
of Wendover, a.d. 606.) See, too, another legend of charity in Mathew of 
Westminster, a.d. 611. 

» Greg. Tut. Hid, v. 8. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 261 

much that is grotesque, childish, and even immoral, 
contain some fragments of the purest and most touching 
religious poetry.^ 

But the chief title of the period we are considering, to 
the indulgence of posterity, was its great missionary 
labours. The stream of missionaries which had at first 
flowed from Palestine and Italy began to flow fix)m the 
West. The Irish monasteries furnished the earUest, and 
probably the most numerous, labourers in the field. A 
great portion of the north of England was converted by 
the Irish monks of lindisfitme. The fame of St. Colum- 
banus in Gaul, in Germany, and in Italy, for a time even 
balanced that of St. Benedict himself, and the school 
he founded at Luxeuil became the great seminary for 
mediaeval missionaries, while the monastery he planted 
at Bobbio continued to the present century. The Irish 
missionary, St. Gall, gave his name to a portion of 
Switzerland he had converted, and a crowd of other 
Irish missionaries penetrated to the remotest forests of 
Germany. The movement which b^an with St. Columba 
in the middle of the sixth century, was communicated 
to England and Gaul about a century later. Early in the 
eighth century it found a great leader in the Anglo-Saxon 
St. Boniface, who spread Christianity far and wide through 
Germany, and at once excited and disciphned an ardent 
enthusiasm, which appears to have attracted all that was 
morally best in the Church. During about three cen- 
turies, and while Europe had sunk into the most extreme 
moral, intellectual, and political degradation, a constant 
stream of missionaries poured forth from the monasteries, 
who spread the knowledge of the Cross and the seeds of 



^ M. Guizot has given several epedmens of this, (Hist, de In fHvUis, xvii"** 
le9on.) 



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263 HISTORY OP EUROPEAN MORALS. 

a future civilisation through every land, from Lombardy 
to Sweden.^ 

On the whole, however, it would be difficult to ex- 
aggerate the superstition and the vice of the period 
between the dissolution of the Empire and the reign of 
Charlemagne. But in the midst of the chaos the elements 
of a new society may be detected, and we may already 
observe in embryo the movement which ultimately 
issued in the crusades, the feudal system, and chivaby. 
It is exclusively with the moral aspect of this movement 
that the present work is concerned, and I shall aideavour, 
in the remainder of this chapter, to describe and explain 
its incipient stages. It consisted of two parts — a fusion of 
Christianity wilii the military spirit, and an increasing 
reverence for secular rank. 

It had been an ancient maxim of the Greeks, that no 
more acceptable gifts can be offered in the temples of the 
gods than. the trophies won from an enemy in battle.* 
Of this military religion Christianity had been at first 
the extreme negation. I have ah'eady had occasion to 
observe that it had been one of its earliest rules that 
no arms should be introduced within the church, and 
that soldiers retmming even from the most righteous 
war should not be admitted to communion until after a 
period of penance and purification. A powerful party, 
which coimted among its leaders Clement of Alexandria, 
Tertullian, Origen, Lactantius, and Basil, maintained that 



^ This portion of medisByal history has lately heen well trtoed by Mr. 
Maclear, in his History of ChrisUan Misskm m the Middle Afe$ (1863). 
See, too, Montalembert's Moines d^ Occident \ Ozanam's Etudes gemumiqyes. 
The original materials are to he found in Bede, and in the Livee of the 
SamU — especially that of St. Oolumhay by Adamnan. On the French 
missionaries, see the Benedictine Hid, Ut,dela France, tome iy. p. 5 ; and on 
the English missionaries, Sharon Turner's Hid, of England, book x. ch. ii. 

' Dion Ghrysostom, Or, ii. (De Regno), 



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FROM CX)NSTANTINB TO CHARLEMAGNE. 263 

all warfiEire was unlawful for those who had been con- 
verted, and this opinion had its martyr in the celebrated 
Maximilianus, who suffered death under Diocletian solely 
because, having been enrolled as a soldier, he declared 
that he was a Christian, and that therefore he could not 
fight. The extent to which this doctrine was dissemi- 
nated, has been su^ested with much plausibility as one 
of the causes of the Diocletian persecution.^ It was the 
subject of one of the reproaches of Celsus, and Origen, in 
reply, frankly accepted the accusation that Christianity 
was incompatible with military service, though he main- 
tained that the prayers of the Christians were more 
efficacious than the swords of the legions.^ At the same 
time, there can be no question that many Christians, from 
a very early date, did enlist in the army, and that they 
were not cut off from the Church. The legend of the 
thundering l^on, under Marcus Aurelius, whatever we 
may think of the pretended miracle, attested the fact, 
which is expressly asserted by TertuUian.^ The first 
ftiry of the Diocletian persecution fell upon Christian 
soldiers, and by the time of Constantine the army ap- 
pears to have become, in a great d^ee. Christian. A 
Council of Aries, imder Constantine, condemned soldiers 
who, through religious motives, deserted their colours; 
and St. Augustine threw his great influence into the same 
scale. But even where the calling was not regarded as 
sinfiil, it was strongly discouraged. The ideal or type 
of supreme excellence conceived by the imagination of 
the Pagan world, and to which all their purest moral 
enthusiasm natiuully aspired, was the patriot and soldier. 
The ideal of the Catholic legends was- the ascetic, whose 

* Gibbon^ ch. rd. * Origen, CeU, Kb. viii. 

' ' Nayigamus et nos vobiscum et militamus.' — Tert ApoL xlii. See loo 
GrotiuB DeJure, i. cap. ii. 



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264 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

first duty was to abandon all secular feelings and ties. 
In most family circles the conflict between the two prin- 
ciples appeared, and in the moral atmosphere of the 
fourth and fifth centuries it was almost certain that every 
young man who was animated by any pure or genuine 
enthusiasm would turn from the army to the monks. 
St. Martin, St. Ferreol, St. Tarrachus, and St. Victricius, 
were among those who through rehgious motives aban- 
doned the army.^ When Ulphilas translated the Bible 
into Gothic, he is said to have excepted the four books 
of Kings, through fear that they might encourage the 
martial disposition of the barbarians.^ 

The first influence that contributed to bring the military 
profession into fiiendly connection with religion was the 
received doctrine concerning the Providential government 
of afiairs. It was generally taught that all national cata- 
strophes were penal inflictions, resulting, for the most part, 
from the vices or the religious errors of the leading men, 
and that temporal prosperity was the reward of orthodoxy 
and virtue. A great battle, on the issue of which the 
fortunes of a people or of a monarch depended, was there- 
fore supposed to be the special occasion of Providen- 
tial interposition, and the hope of obtaining military 
success became one of the most frequent motives of 
conversion. The conversion of Constantine was profess- 
edly, and the conversion of Qovis was perhaps really, 
due to the persuasion that the Divine interposition had 
in a critical moment given them the victory ; and I have 
already noticed how large a part must be assigned to this 



* See An admirable dissertation on the opinions of the early ChristianB 
about military service, in Ije Blant, Inacriptions chrHiennes de la OamU, tome 
i. pp. 81-87. The subject is frequently referred to by Barbeyrac, Morale 
des Rresy and Grotius De Jure, lib. i. cap. iL 

* Philoetorglus^ ii. 5. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 265 

order of ideas in facilitating the progress of Christianity 
among the barbarians. When a cross was said to have 
appeared miraculously to Constantine, with an inscription 
announcing the victory of the Milvian bridge ; when the 
same holy sign, adorned with the sacred monogram, was 
carried in the forefront of the Boman armies ; when the 
nails of the cross, which Helena had brought from Jeru- 
salem, were converted by the emperor into a helmet, and 
into bits for his warhorse, it was evident that a great 
change was passing over the once pacific spirit of the 
Church.1 

Many circmnstances conspired to accelerate it. North- 
em tribes, who had been taught that the gates of 
the Walhalla were ever open to the warrior who pre- 
sented himself stained with the blood of his vanquished 
enemies, were converted to Christianity ; but they carried 
their old feehngs into their new creed. The conflict of 
many races, and the paralysis of all government that fol- 
lowed the fall of the empire, made force everywhere 
dominant, and petty wars incessant The military obli- 
gations attached to the * benefices' which the sovereigns 
gave to their leading chiefs, connected the idea of mi- 
litary service with that of rank, and rendered it doubly 
honourable in the eyes of men. Many bishops and abbots, 
partly from the turbulence of their times and characters, 
and partly, at a later period, from their position as great 
feudal lords, were accustomed to lead their followers in 
battle ; and this custom, though prohibited by Charle- 
magne, may be traced to so late a period as the battle of 
Agincourt* 



* See some excellent remarks on this change^ in Milman*s Hidory of 
ChritUamty, voL ii. pp. 287-288. 

' Mablj, OlmrvaUoM sur rJIiitoire de France, i. 6; Hallam's Middle Age9^ 
ck ii part ii. 



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266 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

The stigma which Christianity had attached to war was 
thus gradually effaced. At the same time, the Church 
remained, on the whole, a pacific influence. War was 
rather condoned than consecrated, and, whatever might 
be the case with a few isolated prelates, the Church did 
nothing to increase or encourage it. The transition firom 
the almost Quaker tenets of the primitive Church to the 
essentially military Christianity of the Crusades was chiefly 
due to another cause — ^to the terrors and to the example 
of Mahommedanism. 

This great rehgion, which so long rivalled the influence 
of Christianity, had indeed spread the deepest and most 
justifiable panic through Christendom* Without any of 
those aids to the imagination which pictures and images 
can furnish, without any elaborate sacerdotal oi^anisa- 
tion, preaching the purest Monotheism among ignorant 
and barbarous men, and inculcating, on the whole, an 
extremely high and noble system of morals, it spread 
with a rapidity and it acquired a hold over the minds of 
its votaries, which it is probable that no other rehgion 
has altogether equalled. It borrowed from Christianity 
that doctrine of salvation by belief, which is perhaps the 
most powerful impulse that can be appUed to the cha- 
racters of masses of men, and it elaborated so minutely 
the charms of its s^isual heaven, and the terrors of its 
material h^ as to cause the alternative to appeal with 
unrivalled force to the gross imaginations of the people. 
It possessed a book which, however inferior to that of 
the opposing religion, has nevertheless been the consola- 
tion and the support of milUons in many ages. It taught 
a fatalism which in its first age nerved its adherents with a 
matchless miUtary courage, and which, though in later 
days, it has often paralysed their active energies, has also 
rarely failed to support them under the pressure of inevi- 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO OHARLEMAGNK 267 

table calamity. But, above all, it discovered the great, 
though fatal secret of uniting indissolubly the passion of 
the soldier with the passion of the devotee. Making the 
conquest of the infidel the first of duties, and proposing 
heaven as the certain reward of the valiant soldier, it 
created a blended enthusiasm that soon overpowered the 
divided counsels and the voluptuous governments of the 
East, and within a century of the death of Mahomet, his 
followers had almost extirpated Christianity firom its ori- 
ginal home, founded great monarchies in Asia and Africa, 
planted a noble, though transient and exotic civilisation in 
Spain, menaced the capital of the Eastern empire, and, but 
for the issue of a single battle, they would probably have 
extended their sceptre over the energetic and progressive 
races of Central Europe. The wave was broken by Charles 
Martel, at the battle of Poictiers, and it is now useless to 
speculate what might have been the consequences had 
Mahommedanism unfurled its triumphant banner among 
those Teutonic tribes who have so often changed their 
creed, and on whom the course of civilisation has so 
largely depended. But one great change was in fact 
achieved. The spirit of Mahommedanism slowly passed 
into Christianity, and transformed it into its image. The 
spectacle of an essentially military religion fascinated men 
who were at once very warlike and very superstitious. 
The panic that, had palsied Europe was after a long in- 
terval succeeded by a fierce reaction of resentment. Pride 
and religion conspired to urge the Christian warriors 
against those who had so often defeated the armies and 
wasted the territory of Christendom, who had shorn the 
empire of the Cross of many of its fairest provinces, and 
profaned that holy city which was venerated not only 
for its past associations, but also for the spiritual bless- 
ings it could still bestow upon the pilgrim. The papal 



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268 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

indulgences proved not less efficacious in stimulating the 
military spirit than the promises of Mahomet, and for 
about two centuries everypulpit in Christendom proclaimed 
the duty of war with the unbeliever, and represented the 
battle field as the sure path to heaven. The religious 
orders which arose united the chariacter of the priest with 
that of the warrior, and when, at the hour of sunset, the 
soldier knelt down to pray before his cross, that cross 
was the handle of his sword. 

It would be impossible to conceive any more complete 
transformation than Christianity had thus imdergone, and 
it is melancholy to contrast with its aspects during the 
crusades the impression it had once most justly made 
upon the world, as the spirit of gentleness and of peace 
encountering the spirit of violence and war. Among the 
many curious habits of the Pagan Irish, one of the most 
significant was that of perpendicular burial. With a 
feehng something like that which induced Vespasian to 
declare that a Eoman emperor should die standing, the 
Pagan warriors shrank from the notion of being prostrate 
even in death, and they appear to have regarded this 
martial burial as a special symbol of Paganism. Aa old 
Irish manuscript tells how, when Christianity had been 
introduced into Ireland, a king of Ulster on his death- 
bed charged his son never to become a Christian, but to 
be buried standing upright like a man in battle, with his 
face for ever turned to the south, defying the men of 
Leinster.^ As late as the sixteenth century, it is said 
that in some parts of Ireland children were baptised by 
immersion; but the right arms of the males were carefully 

* Wakeman's ArchBohgia Hihermca, p. 21. Howerer, Giraldus Gam- 
brensis observes that the Irish saints were peculiarlj Yindictive, and St. 
Columba and St Comgall are said to have be^ leaders in a sanguinary con- 
flict about a church near Coleraine. See Reeves' edition of Adamnan's 
Life of St, Columba, pp. b^vii. 263. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHAJILEMAGXE. 209 

held above the water, in order that, not having been 
dipped in the sacred stream, they might strike the more 
deadly blow.^ 

It had been boldly predicted by some of the early 
Christians, that the conversion of the world would lead 
to a cessation of all war. In looking back, with our 
present experience, we are driven to the melancholy 
conclusion that not only has ecclesiastical influence had 
no appreciable effect in diminishing the number of wars, 
but that it has actually and very seriously increased 
it. We may look in vain for any period since Con- 
stantine, in which the clergy, as a body, exerted them- 
selves to repress the military spirit, or to prevent or 
abridge a particular war, with an energy or a success the 
least comparable to what they displayed during several 
centiuies in stimulating the £Ematicism of the crusaders, 
in producing the atrocious massacre of the Albigenses, 
in embittering the religious wara that followed the Ee- 
formation. Private wars were, no doubt, in some degree 
repressed by their influence ; for the institution of the 
* Truce of God ' was for a time of much value, and when, 
towards the close of the middle ages, the custom of duels 
arose, it was strenuously condemned by the clergy ; but 
we shall probably not place any great value on their 
exertions in this field, when we remember that duels 
were almost or altogether unknown to the Pagan world ; 
that, having arisen in a period of great superstition, the 
anathemas of the Church were almost impotent to dis- 
courage them ; and that in our own century they are 
rapidly disappearing before the simple censure of an 
industrial society. It is possible — though it would, I 
imagine, be difficult to prove it — ^that the mediatorial 
office, so often exercised by bishops, may sometimes have 

^ Campion's Histarie of Ireland (1571); book i. ch. yf. 



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270 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

prevented wars ; and it is certain that during the pericwJs 
of the religious wars, so much military spirit existed in 
Europe, that it must necessarily have found a vent, and 
imder no circumstances could the period have been one 
of perfect peace. But when all these qualifications have 
been fiilly admitted, the broad fact will remain, that, 
with the exception of Mahommedanism, no other religion 
has done so much to produce war as was done by the 
religious teachers of Christendom during several centuries. 
The military fieuiaticism they evoked by the indulgences 
of the popes, by the ceaseless exhortations of the pulpit, 
by the religious importance that was attached to the 
relics at Jerusalem, and by the extreme antipathy they 
fostered towards all who differed from their theology, has 
scarcely ever been equalled in its intensity, and it has 
caused the eflusion of oceans of blood, and has been pro- 
ductive of incalculable misery to the world. Eeligious 
fanaticism was a main cause of the earUer wars, and 
an important ingredient in the later ones. The peace 
principles, that were so common before Constantine, have 
found scarcely any echo except from Erasmus, the 
Quakers, and the Anabaptists ; ^ and although some very 
important pacific agencies have arisen out of the in- 
dustrial progress of modem times, these have been, for 
the most part, wholly unconnected with, and have in 
some cases been directly opposed to, theological interests. 
But although theological influences cannot reasonably 
be said to have diminished the number of wars, they have 
had a very real and beneficial effect in diminishing their 



1 It seems curious to find in so calm and unfanatical a writer as Justus 
Lipsius the following passage : ' Jam et invasio qusedam legitima Tidetur 
etiam sine injuria, ut in barbaros et moribus aut reUgione prorsum a nobis 
abhorrentea' — FoUticorum sive CiviUs Docttirue libri (Paris. 15d4)^ lib. iv. 
ch. ii. cap. It. 



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FROM CX)NSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 271 

atrocity, by improving the condition of the vanquished. 
On few subjects have the moral opinions of different ages 
exhibited so marked a variation as in their judgments of 
what punishment may justly be imposed on a conquered 
enemy, and these variations have often been cited as an 
argument against those who beheve in the existence of 
natural moral perceptions. To those, however, who 
accept that doctrine, with the limitations that have been 
stated in the first chapter, they can cause no perplexity. 
In the first dawning of the human intelligence (as I have 
said) the notion of duty, as distinguished fix)m that of 
interest, appears, and the mind, in reviewing the various 
emotions by which it is influenced, recognises the imsel- 
fish and benevolent motives as essentially and generically 
superior to the selfish and the cruel. But it is the general 
condition of society alone that determines the standard of 
benevolence — ^the classes towards which every good man 
will exercise it. At first, the range of duty is the femily, 
the tribe, the state, the confederation. Within these 
limits every man feels himself under moral obligations to 
those about him ; but he regards the outer world as we 
regard wild animals, as beings upon whom he may 
justifiably prey. Hence, we may explain the curious 
fact that the terms brigand or corsair conveyed in the 
early stages of society no notion of moral guilt^ Such 

^ ' Con r occasione di queete coae Flutarco nel Te$eo dice che gli eroi n 
recavano a grande onore e si reputayano in pregio d'armi con V esser chiamati 
ladroni ; siccome a' tempi barbari ritomati quello di Goraale era titolo riputato 
di signoria ; d' intorno a' quali tempi yenuto Solone, si dice ayer permeaso 
nelle sue leggi le sodetJl per cagion di prede ; tanto Solone ben intese questa 
nostra compiuta Umanitliy nella quale costoro non godono del diritto natural 
delle genti I Ma quel che £& piu maraviglia k che Flatone ed Aristotile 
posero il ladroneccio fralle spesde della caccia e con tali e tanti filosofi d* una 
gente umaniasima conyengono con la loro barbarie i Germani antichi ; appo 
i quali al referire di Cesare i ladronecci non solo non eran infami^ ma si tene- 
yano tra gli eserdzi della yirt& sicoome tra quelli che per costume non appli- 



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272 mSTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

men were looked upon simply as we look upon hunts- 
men, and if they displayed courage and skill in their 
pursuit, they were deemed fit subjects for admiration* 
Even in the writings of the most enlightened philosophers 
of Greece, war with barbarians is represented as a form 
of chase, and the simple desire of obtaining the barbarians 
as slaves was considered a sufficient reason for invading 
them. The right of the conqueror to kill his captive 
was generally recognised, nor was it at first restricted by 
any considerations of age or sex. Several instances are 
recorded of Greek and other cities being deliberately 
destroyed by Greeks or by Eomans, and the entire 
populations ruthlessly massacred.^ The whole career of 
the early republic of Rome, though much idealised and 
transfigured by later historians, was probably governed by 
these principles.^ The normal fete of the captive, whick 
among barbarians, had been death, was, in civilised an- 
tiquity, slavery; but many thousands were condemned 
to the gladiatorial shows, and the vanquished genera! 
was commonly slain in the Mamertine prison, while his 
conqueror ascended in triumph to the Capitol. 

cando ad arte alcuna coei fuggivano V ozio.' — Vico, Scienga Nuova, ii. 6. See 
too "Whewell*8 JSletnenta of MoraUtyy book vi. ck ii. 

* The ancient right of war is fully discussed by Grotius De JurCy lib. iii. 
See, especially, the horrible catalogue of tragedies in cap. 4. The military 
feeling that regards capture as disgracefxil, had probably some, though only 
a very subordinate influence, in producing cruelty to the prisoners. 

' Le jour ou Ath^nes d^r^ta que tous les Mityl^ens, sans distinction de 
sexe ni d%e, seraient exfermin^, elle ne croyait pas d^passer son droit ; 
quand le lendemain elle revint sur son d^ret et se content a de mettre h mort 
mille citoyens et de confisquer toutes les terres, elle se crut humaine et indul- 
gente. Aprds la prise de Platte les hommes furent 6gorg^, les fenmies 
Tendues, et personne n'accusa les vainqueurs d'ayoir yiol^ le droit. . . . 
G'est en yertu de ce droit de la guerre que Rome a ^tendu la solitude autour 
d'elle ; du territoire oik les Yol^ques ayaient yingt-trois cit^ elle a fait lee 
marais pontins ; les cinquante-trois yilles du Latium ont disparu ; dans le 
Samnium on put longtemps reconndtre les lieux o^ les armies rommines 
ayaient paes^, moins aux vestiges de leurs camps qu'li la solitude qui r^gnait 
aux environ8.'^Fustel de Coulanges, La Citi antique^ pp. 263-264. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 273 

A few traces of a more humane spirit may, it is true, 
be discovered. Plato had advocated the liberation of all 
Greek prisoners upon payment of a fixed ransom,^ and 
the Spartan general, Callicratidas, had nobly acted upon 
this principle ;^ but his example never appears to have 
been generally followed. In Eome, the notion of inter- 
national obligation was very strongly felt. No war was 
considered just which had not been officially declared; 
and even in the case of wars with barbarians, the Roman 
historians often discuss the sufficiency or insufficiency of 
the motives of the wars, with a conscientious severity a 
modem historian could hardly surpass.^ The later Greek 
and Latin writings occasionally contain maxims which 
exhibit a considerable progress in this sphere. The 
sole legitimate object of war, both Cicero and Sallust 
declared to be an assured peace. That war, according 
to Tacitus, ends well which ends with a pardon. Pliny 
refused to apply the epithet great to Caesar, on account 
of the torrents of human blood he had shed. Two Ro- 
man conquerors * are credited with the saying, that it is 
better to save the life of one citizen than to destroy a 
thousand enemies. Marcus Aurelius mournfully assimi- 
lated the career of a conqueror to that of a simple robber. 
Nations or armies which voluntarily submitted to Rome 
were habitually treated with extreme leniency, and nu- 
merous acts of individual magnanimity are recorded. 
The violation of the chastity of conquered women by 
soldiers in a siege was denounced as a rare and atrocious 



^ Plato, BepuhUc, lib. y. ; Bodin, Ripublique, liv. i. cap. 6. 

* Grote, Hist, of Oreece, vol. viii. p. 224. Agesilaus was alsa very hu- 
mane to captives. — Ibid. pp. 365-^. 

' This appears continually in Livy, but most of aU, I think, in the Gaulish 
historian, Florus. 

^ Scipio and Trajan. 

VOL. II. 1 



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274 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

crime,^ The extreme atrocities of ancient war appear at 
last to have been practically, though not l^ally, restricted 
to two classes.^ Cities where Eoman ambassadors had 
been insulted, or where some special act of ill feith. 
or cruelty was said to have taken place, were razed to 
the ground, and their populations massacred or delivered 
into slavery. Barbarian prisoners were regarded almost 
as wild beasts, and sent in thousands to fill the slave 
market or to combat in the arena. 

The changes Christianity effected in the rights of war 
were very important, and they may, I think, be comprised 
under three heads. In the first place, it suppressed the 
gladiatorial shows, and thereby saved thousands of cap- 
tives from a bloody death. In the next place, it steadily 
discouraged the practice of enslaving prisoners, ransomed 
immense multitudes with charitable contributions, and 
by slow and insensible gradations proceeded on its path 
of mercy till it becitme a recognised principle of inter- 
national law, that no Christian prisoners should be reduced 
to slavery.^ In the third place, it had a more indirect 

' See some very remarkable passages in Grotius, de Jwre BeJL lib. liL cap. 
4, § 19. 

^ These mitigations are fully enumerated by Ayala^ Be Jure e^ Qfficm 
JBelUcis (Antwerp^ 1597 ), Qrotius, De Jure, It is remarkable that both 
Ayala and Grotius base their attempts to mitigate the severity of war chiefly, 
Ayala almost entirely, upon the writings and examples of the Pagans. There 
is an interesting discussion of the limits of the right of conquerors and of 
the just causes of war in Cicero, De Offio, lib. i. 

3 In England the change seems to have immediately followed conTersion. 
' The evangelical precepts of peace and love/ says a veiy learned historian, 
' did not put an end to war, they did not put an end to aggressive conquests, 
but they distinctly humanised the way in which war was carried on. From 
this time forth the never-ending wars with the Welsh cease to be wars of 
extermination. The heathen English had been satisfied with nothing 
short of the destruction and expulsion of their enemies; the Christian 
English thought it enough to reduce them to political subjection. . . . The 
Christian Welsh could now sit down as subjects of the Christian Saxon. 
The Welshman was acknowledged as a man and a citizen, and was put 
under the protection of the law.' — ^Freeman's Hid, of the Norman Conquest^ 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 276 

but very powerful influence, by the creation of a new 
warlike ideal. The ideal knight of the Crusades and of 
chivahy, imiting ail the force and fire of the ancient 
warrior, with all the tenderness and humility of the 
Christian saint, sprang from the conjunction of the two 
streams of religious and of military feeling; and although 
this ideal, hke all others, was a creation of the imagina- 
tion, although it was rarely or never perfectly realised in 
life, yet it remained the tjrpe and model of warlike excel- 
lence, to which many generations aspired ; and its soften- 
ing influence may even now be largely traced in the cha- 
racter of the modern gentleman. 

Together with the gradual fusion of the military spirit 
with Christianity, we may dimly descry, in the period 
before Charlemagne, the first stages of that consecration 
of secular rank which at a later period, in the forms of 
chivalry, the divine right of kings, and the reverence 
for aristocracies, played so large a part both in moral and 
in pohtical history. We have already seen that the 
course of events in the Boman empire had been towards 
the continual aggrandisement of the imperial power. 
The representative despotism of Augustus was at last 
succeeded by the oriental despotism of Diocletian. The 
senate sank into a powerless assembly of imperial nomi- 
nees, and the spirit of Eoman freedom wholly perished 
with the extinction of Stoicism. 

Tol. i. pp. 83-84. Cbristians who assisted infidels in wars against Chris- 
tians were ipso facto excommunicated; and mig^t therefore be enskved, 
bnt all others were free from slavery. ' £t qoidem inter Christianoe lauda- 
bili et antiqua consuetudine introductum est, ut capti hinc inde, utcunque 
justo bello, non fierent send, sed liberi servarentur donee solvant precium 
redemptionis.' — ^Ayala, lib. i. cap. 5. 'This rule, at least,' says Ght>tins, 
* (though but a small matter) the reverence for the Christian law has en- 
forced, which Socrates vainly sought to have established among the Greeks.* 
The Mahommedans also made it a rule not to enslave their co-religionists. — 
Grotius de Jure, iii. 7. § 9. Pagan and barbarian prisoners were, however, 
sold as slaves (especially by the Spaniards) till very recently. 

T 2 

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276 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

It would probably be a needless refinement to seek 
any deeper causes for this change than may be found in 
the ordinary principles of human nature. Despotism is 
the normal and legitimate government of an early society 
in which knowledge has not yet developed the powers of 
the people ; but when it is introduced into a civilised 
community, it is of the nature of a disease, and a disease 
which, unless it be checked, has a continual tendency to 
spread. When free nations abdicate their political func- 
tions, they gradually lose both the capacity and the desire 
for freedom. Political talent and ambition, having no 
sphere for action, steadily decay, and servile, enervating, 
and vicious habits proportionately increase. Nations are 
organic beings in a constant process of expansion or 
decay, and where they do not exhibit a progress of 
liberty they usually exhibit a progress of servitude. 

It can hardly be asserted that Christianity had much in- 
fluence upon this change. By accelerating in some degree 
the withdrawal of the virtuous energies of the people from 
the sphere of government which had long been in pro- 
cess, it prevented the great improvement of morals, which 
it undoubtedly effected, from appearing perceptibly in 
public affairs. It taught a doctrine of passive obedience, 
which its disciples nobly observed in the worst periods 
of persecution. On the other hand, the Christians em- 
phatically repudiated the ascription of Divine honours to 
the sovereign, and they asserted with heroic constancy 
their independent worship, in defiance of the law. After 
the time of Constantine, however, their zeal became far 
less pure, and sectarian interests wholly governed their 
principles. Much misapplied learning has been employed 
in endeavouring to extract from the Fathers a consistent 
doctrine on the subject of the relations of subjects to their 
sovereigns; but every impartial observer may discover 

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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 277 

that the principle upon which they acted was exceedingly 
simple. When a sovereign was suflSciently orthodox in 
his opinions, and sufficiently zealous in patronising the 
Church and in persecuting the heretics, he was extolled as 
an angeL When his policy was opposed to the Church, 
he was represented as a daemon. The estimate which 
Gregory of Tours has given of the character of Clovis, 
though far more frank, is not a more striking instance of 
moral perversion than the fulsome and indeed blas- 
phemous adulation which Eusebius poured upon Con- 
stantine — a sovereign whose character was at all times of 
the most mingled description, and who, shortly after his 
conversion, put to a violent death his son, his nephew, 
and his wife. If we were to estimate the attitude of 
ecclesiastics to sovereigns by the language of Eusebius, we 
should suppose that they ascribed to them a direct Divine 
inspiration, and exalted the Imperial dignity to an extent 
that was before unknown.^ But when Julian mounted 
the throne, the whole aspect of the Church was changed. 
This great and virtuous, though misguided, sovereign, 
whose private life was a model of purity, who carried 
to the throne the manners, tastes, and friendships of a 
philosophic life, and who proclaimed, and, with very 
slight exceptions, acted with the largest and most gene- 
rous toleration, was an enemy of the Church, and all the 
vocabulary of invective was in consequence habitually 
lavished upon him. Ecclesiastics and laymen combined 
in insulting him, and when, after a brief but glorious 
reign of less than two years, he met an honourable death 
on the battle-field, neither the disaster that had befallen 
the Eoman arms, nor the present dangers of the army, 
nor the heroic courage which the fallen emperor had 

' The character of Constantiney and the estimate of it in Eudebius, are 
weU treated by Dean Stanley, Letiwes on the Ea$iem Chtrch (Lect. vi.)* 



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278 mSTOEY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

displayed, nor the majestic tranquillity of his end, mx ihe 
tears of his feithful friends, could shame the Christian 
community into the decency of silence. A peal of brutal 
merriment filled the land. In Antioch the Christians 
assembled in the theatres and in the churches, to cele- 
brate with rejoicing, the death which their emperor had 
met in fighting against the enemies of his country.^ A 
crowd of vindictive legends expressed the exultation 
of the Church,* and St. Gregory Nazianzen devoted hia 
eloquence to immortalising it. His brother had at one 
time been a high official in the empire, and had fearlessly 
owned his Christianity under Juhan ; but that emperor 
not only did not remove him from his post, but even 
honoured him with his warm friendship.* The body 
of Julian had been laid but a short time in the grave, 
when St. Gregory delivered two fierce invectives against 
his memory, collected the grotesque calumnies that had 
been heaped upon his character, expressed a regret that 
his remains had not been flung after death into the com- 
mon sewer, and regaled the hearers by an enq)hatic 
assertion of the tortures that were awaiting him in helL 
Among the Pagans a charge of the gravest kind was 
brought against the Christians. It was said that Julian 
died by the spear, not of an enemy, but of one of his own 
Christian soldiers. When we remember that he was at 
once an emperor and a general, that he fell when bravely 
and confidently leading his army in the field, and in the 
critical moment of a battle on which the fortunes of the 
empire largely depended, this charge which libanius has 
made, appears to involve as large an amount of base 
treachery as any that can be conceived. That it was a 

» Theodoret, iiL 28. 

• They are coUected by Cbateaubriand^ jStude$ hid, 2~* disc 2^ partle. 

* See St Gregory's oration on Cesairius, 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNR 279 

groundless calumny will now scarcely be questioned ; but 
the manner in which it was regarded among the Chris- 
tians is singularly characteristic. * Libanius/ says one of 
the ecclesiastical historians, ^ clearly states that the em- 
peror fell by the hand of a Christian ; and this, probably, 
was the truth. It is not unlikely that some of the soldiers 
who then served in the Boman army might have con- 
ceived the idea of acting like the ancient slayers of 
tyrants who exposed themselves to death in the cause 
of liberty, and fought in defence of their country, their 
families, and their Mends, and whose names are held in 
universal admiration. Still less is he deserving of blame 
who, for the sake of God and of religion, performed so 
bold a deed.' * 

It may be asserted, I think, without exaggeration, 
that the complete subordination of all other principles 
to their theological interests, which characterised the 
ecclesiastics under Julian, continued for many centuries. 
No language of invective was too extreme to be applied 
to a sovereign who opposed their interests — no language 
of adulation too extravagant for a sovereign who sus- 
tained them. Of all the emperors who disgraced the 
throne of Constantinople, the most odious and ferocious 
was probably Phocas. An obscure centurion, he rose by 
a mihtary revolt to the supreme power, and the emperor 
Maurice, with his family, fell into his hands. He resolved 
to put the captive emperor to death ; but first of all, he 
ordered his five children to be brought out and to be 
successively murdered before the eyes of their father, who 
bore the awful sight with a fine mixture of antique hero- 
ism and of Christian piety, murmuring, as each child fell 
beneath the knife of the assassin, 'Thou art just, 
Lord, and righteous are Thy judgments,' and even inter- 

^ Sozomen^ vi 2. 

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280 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

posing at the last moment, to reveal the heroic fraud of 
the nm^e who desired to save his youngest child by sub- 
stituting for it her own. But Maurice — ^who had been a 
weak and avaricious rather than a vicious sovereign — ^had 
shown himself jealous of the influence of the Pope, had 
forbidden the soldiers, during the extreme danger of their 
country, deserting their colours to enrol themselves as 
monks, and had even encouraged the pretensions of the 
Archbishop of Constantinople to the title of Universal 
Bishop ; and in the eyes of the Eoman priests, the recol- 
lection of these crimes was suflicient to condone the 
most brutal of murders. In two letters, full of passages 
from Scripture, and replete with fulsome and blasphemous 
flattery, the Pope, St. Gregory the Great, wrote to con- 
gratulate Phocas and his wife upon their triumph ; he 
called heaven and earth to rejoice over them ; he placed 
their images to be venerated in the Lateran, and he 
adroitly insinuated that it was impossible that, with their 
well-known piety, they could fail to-be very favourable 
to the See of Peter.^ 

The course of events in relation to the monarchical 
power was for some time difierent in the East and the 
West. Constantine had himself assumed more of the 
pomp and manner of an oriental sovereign than any 
preceding emperor, and the court of Constantinople was 
soon characterised by an extravagance of magnific^ice 
on the part of the monarch, and of adulation on the part 
of the subjects, which has probably never been exceeded.* 
The imperial power in the East overshadowed the eccle- 

^ Ep. xiii. 31-89. In the second of these letters (which is addressed to 
Leontia), he says : ' Rogare forsitan dehui ut ecclesiam beati Petri apoatoli 
qa» nunc usque grayibus insidiis laboraTit, haberet Vestra Tranquillitas 
specialiter commendatam. Sed qui scio quia omnipotentem Deum diligitis, 
non debeo petere quod sponte ex benignitate yesinb pietatis exhibetia.' 

' See the graphic description in Gibbon, ch. liii. 



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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 281 

siastical, and notwithstanding their fierce outbreak during 
the iconoclastic controversy, and a few minor paroxysms 
of revolt, the priests gradually sank into that contented 
subservience which has usually characterised the Eastern 
Church. In the West, however, the Eoman bishops 
were in a great degree independent of the sovereigns, 
and in some degree opposed to their interests. The 
transfer of the imperial power to Constantinople, by 
leaving the Boman bishops the chief personages in a city 
which long association as well as actual power rendered 
the foremost in the world, was one of the great causes 
of the extreme aggrandisement of the Papacy and the 
Arianism of many sovereigns ; the jealousy which others 
exhibited of ecclesiastical encroachments, and the luke- 
warmness of a few in persecuting heretics, were all 
causes of dissension. On the severance of the empire, the 
Western Church came in contact with rulers of another 
type. The barbarian kings were little more than military 
chiefs, elected for the most part by the people, surrounded 
by little or no special sanctity, and maintaining their pre- 
carious and very restricted authority by their courage 
or their skill. A few feebly imitated the pomp of the 
Boman emperors, but their claims had no great weight 
upon the world. The aureole which the genius of 
Theodoric cast around his throne passed away upon his 
death, and the Arianism of that great sovereign sufficiently 
debarred him from the sympathies of the Church. In 
Gaul, under a few bold and unscrupulous men, the Mero- 
vingian dynasty emerged from a host of petty kings, and 
consolidated the whole country into one kingdom; but 
after a short period it degenerated, the kings became 
mere puppets in the hands of the mayors of the palace, 
and these latter, holding as they did an office which had 
become hereditary, being the chief of the great landed 

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282 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

proprietors, and having acquired by their position a great 
personal ascendency over the sovereigns, became the 
virtual rulers of the nation. 

It was out of these somewhat unpromising conditions 
that the mediaeval doctrine of the Divine right of kings, 
and the general reverence for rank, that formed tiie 
essence of chivahy, were slowly evolved. Political and 
moral causes conspired in producing them. The chief 
political causes — ^which are well known — may be simimed 
up in a few words. 

When Leo the Isaurian attempted, in the eighth 
century, to repress the worship of images, the resistance 
which he met at Constantinople, though violent, was 
speedily allayed ; but the Pope, assuming a far higher 
position than any Byzantine ecclesiastic could attain, 
boldly excommunicated the emperor, and led a revolt 
against his authority, which issued in the virtual inde- 
pendence of Italy. His position was at this time 
singularly grand. He represented a religious cause to 
which the great mass of the Christian world were pas- 
sionately attached. He was venerated as the emancipator 
of Italy. He exhibited in the hour of his triumph a 
moderation which conciliated many enemies, and pre- 
vented the anarchy that might naturally have been ex- 
pected. He presided, at the same time, over a vast 
monastic organisation, which ramified over all Christen- 
dom, propagated his authority among many barbarous 
nations, and, by its special attachment to the Papacy, as 
distinguished from the Episcopacy, contributed very much 
to transform Christianity into a spiritual despotism. One 
great danger, however, still menaced his power. The 
barbarous Lombards were continually invading his terri- 
tory, and threatening the independence of Eome. The 
Lombard monarch, Luitprand, had quailed in the very 
hour of his triumph beforp the m^ijace gf eternal torture ; 

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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNR 283 

but his successor, Astolphus, was proof against every fear, 
and it seemed as though the Papal city must have ine- 
vitably succumbed before his arms. 

In their complete military impotence, the Popes looked 
abroad for some foreign succour, and they naturally 
turned to the Franks, whose martial tastes and triumphs 
were universally renowned. Charles Martel, though 
simply a mayor of the Palace, had saved Europe from 
the Mahommedans, and the Pope expected that he would 
unsheath his sword for the defence of the Vatican. 
Charles, however, was deaf to all entreaties ; and although 
he had done more than any ruler since Constantine for 
the Church, his attention seems to have been engrossed 
by the interests of his own country, and he was much 
ahenated from the sympathies of the clergy. An ancient 
l^end tells how a saint saw his soul carried by daemons 
into hell, because he had secularised Church property, 
and a more modem historian^ has ascribed his death to 
his having hesitated to defend the Pope. His son, 
Pepin, however, actuated probably in diflferent d^ees 
by personal ambition, a desire for miUtary adventure, 
and religious zeal, listened readily to the prayer of the 
Pope, and a compact was entered into between the 
parties, which proved one of the most important events 
in history. Pepin agreed to secure the Pope from the 
danger by which he was threatened. The Pope agreed 
to give his religious sanction to the ambition of Pepin,* 
who designed to depose the Merovingian dynasty, and to 
become in name, as he was already in feet, the sovereign 
of Gaul. 

It is not necessary for me to recount at length the 
details of these negotiations, which are described bj' many 
historians. It is sufficient to say, that the compact was 
religiously observed. Pepin made two expeditions to 

^ Baronius. 

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284 fflSTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

Italy, and completely shattered the power of the 
Lombards, wresting from them the rich exarchate of 
Eavenna, which he ceded to the Pope, who still retained 
his nominal allegiance to the Byzantine emperor, but who 
became, by this donation, for the first time avowedly an 
independent temporal prince. On the other hand, the 
deposition of Childeric was peaceably effected ; the last of 
the Merovingians was immured in a monastery, and the 
Carlovingian dynasty ascended the throne under the 
special benediction of the Pope, who performed on the 
occasion the ceremony of Consecration, which had not 
previously been in general use,^ placed the crown with his 
own hands on the head of Pepin, and deUvered a solemn 
anathema against all who should rebel against the new 
king or against his successors. 

The extreme importance of these events was probably 
not fully realised by any of the parties concerned in them. 
It was evident, indeed, that the Pope had been freed from 
a pressing danger, and had acquired a great accession of 
temporal power, and also that a new dynasty had arisen in 
Gaul under circumstances that were singularly fevourable 
and imposing. But, much more important than these 
facts was the permanent consecration of the royal authority 
that had been effected. The Pope had successfully as- 
serted his power of deposing and elevating kings, and had 
thus acquired a position which influenced the whole sub- 
^quent course of European history. The monarch, if he 
had become in some degree subservient to the priest, had 
become in a great degree independent of his people ; the 
Divine origin of his power was regarded as a dogma 
of religion, and a sanctity surrounded him which im- 
measuTfeably aggrandised his power. The ascription by 
the Pagans of divinity to kings had had no appreciable 

> Mablji ii. 1 ; Gibbon, ch. xlix. 

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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 286 

effect in increasing their authority or restraining the 
limits of criticism or of rebellion. The ascription of a 
Divine right to kings, independent of the wishes of the 
people, has been one of the most enduring and influen- 
tial of superstitions, and it has even now not wholly 
vanished from the world.^ 

Mere isolated political events have, however, rarely or 
never this profound influence, unless they have been pre- 
ceded and prepared by other agencies. The first pre- 
disposing cause of the ready reception of the doctrine of 
the Divine character of authority, may probably be found 
in the prominence of the monastic system. I have already 
observed that this system represents in the most extreme 
form that exaltation of the virtues of humility and of 
obedience which so broadly distinguishes the Christian 
from the Pagan type of excellence. I have also noticed 
that, owing to the concurrence of many causes, it had 
acquired such dimensions and influence as to supply the 
guiding ideal of the Christian world. Controlling or 
monopolising all education and literature, furnishing most 
of the legislators and many of the statesmen of the age, 
attracting to themselves all moral enthusiasm and most 
intellectual ability, the monks soon left their impress on 
the character of nations. Habits of obedience and dis- 
positions of humility were diffused abroad, revered and 



' There are some good remarks upon the waj in which, among the free 
Franks, the bishops taught the duty of passive obedience, in Mablj, Obs, mr 
VHidoire de France^ livre i. ch. iii. Gregory of Tours, in his address to 
Chilperic, had said, 'If any of us, king, transgress the boundaries of 
justice, thou art at hand to correct us ; but if thou shouldst exceed them, who 
is to condenm thee ? V^e address thee, and if it please thee thou listenest to 
us ; but if it please thee not, who is to condemn thee save Him who has pro- 
claimed himself Justice/ — Greg. Tur. v. 19. On the other hand, Hincmar, 
' Archbishop of Rheims, strongly asserted the obligation of kings to observe 
the law, and denounced as diabolical the doctrine that they are subject to 
none but God. (AUen, Ch\ the Em/al Prerogative (1849), pp. 171-172.) 



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286 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

idealised, and a Church which rested mainly on tradition 
fostered a deep sense of the sanctity of antiquity, and a 
natural disposition to observe traditional customs. In 
this manner a tone of feeling was gradually formed that 
assimilated with the monarchical and aristocratical insti- 
tutions of feudalism, which flourished chiefly because they 
corresponded with the moral feelings of the time. 

In the next place, a series of social and pohtical causes 
were tending to abridge the personal independence for 
which the barbarians had been noted. The king had at 
first been not the sovereign of a country, but the chief of 
a tribe.^ Gradually, however, with more settled habits, 
the sovereignty assumed a territorial character, and we 
may soon discover the rudiments of a territorial aristo- 
cracy. The kings gave their leading chiefs portions of 
conquered land or of the royal domains, imder the name 
of benefices. By slow and perhaps insensible stages, 
each of which has been the subject of fierce controversy, 
the obligation of military service was attached to these 
benefices : they were made irrevocable, and ultimately 
hereditary. At the same time, through causes to which 
I have already adverted, the free peasants for the most 
part sank into serfs subject to the rich and protected by 
the power of great landowners. In this manner a hier- 
archy of ranks was gradually formed, of which the 
sovereign was the apex and the serf the basis. The com- 
plete legal organisation of this hierarchy belongs to the 
period of feudalism, which is not within the scope of the 
present volume ; but the chief elements of feudalism ex- 
isted before Charlemagne, and the moral results flowing 

* The exact degree of the authority of the barbarian Idnga, and the di& 
ferent stages by which their power was increased, are matters of great con- 
troversy. The reader may consult Thierry's LeUres sur VHid, <fo France 
(let 9) ; Guizot's Hid, de la Civilisation ; Mably, Obterv, mtr VHist, de Fhmce ; 
Freeman's Hist, of the Norman Conquest, yol. i. 

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FROM CONSTANTINE TO CHARLEMAGNE. 287 

from them may be already discerned. Each rank, except 
the very highest, was continually brought into contact 
with a superior, and a feeling of constant dependence and 
subordination was accordingly fostered. To the serf, 
who depended for all things upon the neighbouring noble, 
to the noble, who held all his dignities on the condi- 
tion of frequent military service under his sovereign, the 
idea of secular rank became indissolubly connected with 
that of supreme greatness. 

It will appear evident from the foregoing observations, 
that in the period before Charlemagne, the moral and 
political causes were already in action, which at a much 
later period produced the organisation of chivalry, an 
organisation which was founded on the combination and 
the glorification of secular rank and miUtary prowess. 
But in order that the tendencies I have described should 
acquire their full force, it was necessary that they should 
be represented or illustrated in some great personage, 
who, by the splendour and the beauty of his career, 
could fascinate the imaginations of men. It is much 
easier to govern great masses of men through their ima- 
gination than through their reason. Moral principles 
rarely act powerfully upon the world, except by way of 
example or ideals. When the course of events has been 
to glorify the ascetic or monarchical or mihtary spirit, a 
great saint, or sovereign, or soldier will arise, who will 
concentrate in one dazzKng focus the bhnd tendencies of 
his time, kindle the enthusiasm and fascinate the imagina- 
tion of the people. But for the prevailing tendency, the 
great man would not have arisen, or would not have exer- 
cised his great influence. But for the great man, whose 
career appealed vividly to the imagination, the prevailing 
tendency would never have acquired its full intensity. 

This typical figure appeared in Charlemagne, whose 



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288 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

colossal form towers with a majestic grandeur both ia 
history and in romance. Of all the great rulers of men, 
there has probably been no other who was so truly many- 
sided, whose influence pervaded so completely all the 
religious, intellectual, and poUtical modes of thought ex- 
isting in his time. Bising in one of the darkest periods 
of European history, this great emperor resuscitated, with 
a brief but dazzUng splendour, the faded glories of the 
empire of the West, conducted, for the most part in per- 
son, numerous expeditions against the barbarous nations 
around him, promulgated a vast system of legislation, 
reformed the discipline of every order of the Church, 
reduced all classes of the clergy to subservience to his 
will, while, by legalising tithes, he greatly increased their 
material prosperity ; contributed, in a measure, to check 
the intellectual decadence by founding schools and hbra- 
ries, and drawing around him all the scattered learning 
of Europe; reformed the coinage, extended commerce, in- 
fluenced religious controversies, and created great repre- 
sentative assemblies, which ultimately contributed largely 
to the organisation of feudalism. In all thes^ spheres 
the traces of his vast, organising, and farnseeing genius 
may be detected, and the influence which he exercised 
over the imaginations of men is shown by the numerous 
legends of which he is the hero. Li the preceding ages 
the supreme ideal had been the ascetic When the 
popular imagination embodied in legends its conception 
of humanity in its noblest and most attractive form, it 
instinctively painted some hermit-saint of many penances 
and many miracles. In the Eomances of Charlemagne 
and of Arthur we may trace the dawning of a new type 
of greatness. The hero of the imagination of Europe 
was no longer a hermit but a king, a warrior, a knight 
The long train of influences I have reviewed, culminating 



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FROM 00N8TANTINE TO CHABLEMAGNE. 289 

in Charlemagne, had done their work. The age of the 
ascetics began to fade. The age of the crusades and of 
chivahy succeeded it. 

It is curious to observe the manner in which, under 
the influence of the prevailing tendency, the career of 
Charlemagne was transfigured by the popular imagina- 
tion. This great emperor had, in fact, been in no degree 
actuated by the spirit of a crusader ; his military enter- 
prises had been chiefly directed against the Saxons, against 
whom he had made not less than thirty-two expeditions. 
With the Mahommedans he had but little contact. It 
was Charles Martel, not his grandson, who, by the great 
battle of Poictiers, had checked their career. Charle- 
magne made, in person, but a single expedition against 
them in, Spain, and that expedition was on a scale that 
was altogether inconsiderable, and it was disastrous in its 
issue. But in the Carlovingian romances, which arose at 
a time when the enthusiasm of the Crusades was per- 
meating all Christendom, events were represented in a 
wholly different light. Charles Martel has no place 
among the ideal combatants of the Church. He had 
appeared too early, his figure was not suflSciently great 
to fascinate the popular imagination, and by confiscating 
ecclesiastical property, and refusing to assist the Pope 
against the Lombards, he had fallen under the ban of the 
clergy. Charlemagne, on the other hand, is represented 
as the first and greatest of the crusaders. His wars with 
the Saxons were scarcely noticed. His whole life was 
said to have been spent in heroic and triumphant com- 
bats with the followers of Mahomet.' Among the 
achievements attributed to him was an expedition to 
rescue Nismes and Carcassone from their grasp, which 
was, in feet, a dim tradition of the victories of Charles 

* Eaoriel, HitL de la BoStie praven^dle, tome il p. 262. 
VOL. II. U 

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290 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

Martel.^ He is even said to have carried his victorious 
arms into the heart of Palestine, and he is the hero of 
what are probably the three earUest extant romances of 
the Crusades.^ In fiction, as in history, his reign forms 
the great landmark separating the early period of the 
middle ages from the age of military Christianity. 

On the verge of this great change I draw this history 
to a close. In pursuing our long and chequered course, 
from Augustus to Charlemagne, we have seen the rise 
and fall of many types of character, and of many forms 
of enthusiasm. We have seen the influence of imiversal 
empire expanding, and the influence of Greek civilisation 
intensifying, the sympathies of Europe. We have sur- 
veyed the successive progress of Stoicism, Platonism, and 
Egyptian philosophies, at once reflecting and guiding the 
moral tendencies of society. We Have traced the course 
of progress or retrogression in many fields of social, 
pohtical, and l^islative life; have watched the cradle 
of Eiuropean Christianity, examined the causes of its 
triumph, the diflSculties it encountered, and the priceless 
blessings its philanthropic spirit bestowed upon mankind. 
We have also pursued step by step the mournful history 
of its corruption, its asceticism, and its intolerance, the 
various transformations it produced or underwent when 
the turbid waters of the barbarian invasions had inim- 
dated the civilisations of Europe. It remains for me^ 
before concluding this work, to investigate one class of 
subjects to which I have, as yet, but briefly adverted — ^to 
examine the efiects of the changes I have described upon 
the character and position of woman, and upon the grave 
moral questions concerning the relations of the sexes. 

1 Ibid, p.* 258. 

' Le Grand D'Aussy, Fabliaux, pr^f. p. xxhr. These romances ver6 
accounts of his expeditions to^Spain, to Languedoc, and to Palestine. 



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THE POSITION OF WOMEN. 291 



CHAPTER V. 

THE POSITION OF WOMEN. 

In the long series of moral revolutions that have been 
described in the foregoing chapters, I have more than 
once had occasion to refer to the position that was 
assigned to woman in the community, and to the virtues 
and vices that spring directly from the relations of the 
sexes. I have not, however, as yet discussed these 
questions with a fulness at all corresponding to their 
historical importance, and I propose, in consequence, 
before concluding this volume, to devote a few pages to 
their examination. Of all the many questions that are 
treated in this work, there is none which I approach 
with so much hesitation, for there is probably none 
which it is so difficult to treat with clearness and impar- 
tiality, and at the same time without exciting any scan- 
dal or oflTence. The complexity of the problem, arising 
from the very large place which exceptional institutions 
or circumstances, and especially the influence of climate 
and race, have had on the chastity of nations, I have 
already noticed, and the exlareme delicacy of the matters 
with which this branch of ethics is connected must be 
palpable to all. The first duty of an historian, however, 
is to truth, and it is absolutely impossible to present a 
true picture of the moral condition of diflerent ages, and 
to form a true estimate of the moral effects of different 
religions, without adverting to the department of morals, 

V'2 

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292 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

which has exhibited most change, and has probably 
exercised most influence. 

It is natural that, in the period when men are still 
perfect barbarians, when their habits of life are still 
nomadic, and when war and the chase, being their sole 
pursuits, the qualities that are required in these are their 
sole measure of excellence, the inferiority of women to 
men should be regarded as undoubted, and their position 
should be extremely degraded. In all those qualities which 
are then most prized, women are indisputably inferior. 
The social qualities in which they are especially fitted 
to excel have no sphere for their display. The ascend- 
ency of beauty is very faint, and even if it were otherwise, 
few traces of female beauty could survive the hardships 
of the savage life. Woman is looked upon simply as the 
slave of man, and as the minister to his passions. In the 
first capacity, her life is one of continual, abject, and 
unrequited toil. In the second capacity, she is exposed 
to all the violent revubions of feeling that follow, among 
rude men, the gratification of the animal passions. 

Even in this early stage, however, we may trace some 
rudiments of those moral sentiments which are destined 
at a later period to expand. The institution of marriage 
exists. The value of chastity is commonly in some 
degree felt, and appears in the indignation which is dis- 
played against the adulterer. The duty of restraining 
the sensual passions is largely recognised in the female, 
though the males are only restricted by the prohibition 
of adultery. 

The two first steps which are taken towards the ele- 
vation of woman are probably the cessation of the 
custom of purchasing wives, and the construction of the 
family on the basis of monogamy. In the first periods 
of civilisation, the marriage contract was arranged be- 



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THE POSITION OF WOMEN. 293 

tween the bridegroom and the &ther of the bride, on the 
condition of a sum of money being paid by the former to 
the latter. This sum, which is known in the laws of the 
barbarians as the ^ mundium,' ^ was in fact a payment to 
the father for the cession of his daughter, who thus 
became the bought slave of her husband. It is one of 
the most remarkable features of the ancient laws of India, 
that they forbade this gift, on the ground that the parent 
should not sell his child ; * but there can be little doubt 
that this sale was at one time the ordinary type of marriage. 
In the Jewish writings we find Jacob purchasing Leah 
and Bachel by the performance of certain services for 
thehr father, and this custom, which seems to have been 
at first general in Judea,* appears in the age of Homer 
to have been general in Greece. At an early period, 
however, of Greek history, the purchase-money was re- 
placed by the dowry, or sum of money paid by the father 
of the bride for the use of his daughter,* and this, 
although it passed into the hands of the husband, con- 
tributed to elevate the wife, in the first place, by the 
dignity it gave her, and in the next place, by special laws, 
which both in Greece and Bome secured it to her in 

> The Uva of the Greeks. 

* LegouY^, SiiUnre morale dm I^smmee, pp. 95-96. 

* Gen. zzix. zxziy. 12 ; Deut xxiL 29 ; 1 Sam. xviii. 25. 

^ The histoTj of dowries is briefly noticed by Grote, Hid, of Cfreeoe, vol. 
iL pp. 112-113 ; and more fully by Lord Eames, in the admirable chapter 

< On the Progress of the Female Sex/ in his Sketchee of the Hidory of 
Man^ a book less read than it deserves to be. M. Legouv^ has also devoted 
a chapter to it in his Hid, morale dee Femmee, See, too^ Legendre, IVaitS 
de POpimon, tome ii pp. 329-^80. We find traces of the dowry, as well 
as of the Uva, in Homer. Penelope had received a dowry from Icarus, her 
iather. M. Michelet, in one of those fanciful books which he has recently 
pubUshed, maintains a view of the object of the Uva which I do not 
remember to have seen eleewherei and which I do not believe. He says : 

< Oe priz n'est point un achat de la femme, mais une indemnity qui d^om- 
mage la famille du pdre pour les enfants futurs, qui ne profiteront pas 4 cette 
fSamille mais k celle oh la femme ya entier.' — IJa Femme, p. 166, 



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294 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALa 

most cases of separation.^ The wife thus possessed a 
guarantee against ill-usage by her husband. She ceased 
to be his slave, and became in some degree a contracting 
party. Among the early Germans, a different and very 
remarkable custom existed. The bride did not bring 
any dowry to her husband, nor did the bridegroom give 
anything to the father of the bride ; but he gave his gift 
to the bride herself, on the morning after the first night 
of marriage, and this, which was called the * Morg^igab/ 
or morning gift, was the origin of the jointure.* 

Still more important than the foregoing was the insti- 
tution of monogamy, by which, from its earliest days, the 
Greek civilisation proclaimed its superiority to the Asiatic 
civilisations that had preceded it. We may r^ard mono- 
gamy either in the hght of our intuitive moral s^itiment 
on the subject of chastity, or in the light of the interests 
of society. By the first, I understand that universal per- 
ception or conviction which I bdieve to be an idtimate 
fact in human nature, that the sensual side of our being is 
the lower side, and that some d^ree of shame may ap- 
propriately be attached to it. In its Oriental or poly- 
gamous stage, marriage is regarded almost exclusively* in 
its sensual aspect, as a gratification of the animal passions, 
while in European marriages the mutual attachment and 
respect of the contracting parties, the formation of a house- 
hold, and the long train of domestic feelings and duties 
that accompany it, have all their distinguished place among 



1 In BomO; when the separation was due to the misconduct of the wife, 
the dowry helonged to her hushand. 

* * Dotem non uxor marito sed uzori maritus ofTert' — Tac Oerm. xriiL 
On the Morgengah; see Canciani, Leges Barbarorum (Venetiis, l^Sl), toU 
i. pp. 102-104; ii. pp. 230-231. Muratori, AnOck, ItaL ^^a^ loi. Luit- 
l)rand enacted that no Longohard should giye more than one-fourth of his 
substance as a Morgengab. In Gregory of Tours (ix. 20) we have an 
example of the gift of some cities as a Morgengab. 



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THE POSITION OF WOMEN. 205 

the motives of the contract, and the lower element has 
comparatively little prommence. In this way it may be 
intelligibly said, without any reference to utilitarian con- 
siderations, that monogamy is a higher state than poly- 
gamy. The utiUtarian arguments in its defence are also 
extremely powerful, and may be summed up in three sen- 
tences. Nature, by making the number of males and 
females nearly equal, indicates it as natural In no other 
form of marriage can the government of the family, which 
is one of the chief ends of marriage, be so happily sus- 
tained, and in no other does woman assume the position 
of the equal of man. 

Monogamy was the general system in Greece, though 
there are said to have been slight and temporary devia- 
tions into the earUer system, after some great disasters, 
when an increase of population was ardently desired.^ A 
broad line must, however, be drawn between the l^en- 
dary or poetical period, as reflected in Homer and perpe- 
tuated in the tragedians, and the later historical period. 
It is one of the most remarkable, and to some writers one 
of the most perplexing facts in the moral history of 
Greece, that in the former and ruder period women had 
undoubtedly the highest place, and their type exhibited 
the highest perfection. Moral ideas, in a thousand forms, 
have been sublimated, barged, and changed, by ad- 
vancing civilisation ; but it may be fearlessly asserted that 
the types of female excellence which are contained in the 
Oreek poems, while they are among the earUest, are also 
among the most perfect in the literature of mankind. 
The conjugal tenderness of Hector and Andromache ; the 
unwearied fidehty of Penelope, awaiting through the long 
revolving years the return of her storm-tossed husband, 

. > See, on this point, Anl. Gellius, Noct, AU, zy. 20. Euripides is said to 
luY« had two wi?es» 



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296 HISTORY OP EUROPEAN MORALS. 

who looked forward to her as to the crown of all his 
labours ; the heroic love of Alcestis, voluntarily dying that 
her husband might hve ; the filial piety of Antigone ; the 
majestic grandeur of the death of Polyxena; the more 
subdued and saintly resignation of Iphigenia, excusing with 
her last breath the father who had condemned her ; the 
joyous, modest, and loving Nausicaa, whose figure shines 
like a perfect idyll among the tragedies of the Odyssey — 
all these are pictures of perennial beauty, which Bome and 
Christendom, chivalry and modem civilisation, have neither 
ecUpsed nor transcended. Virgin modesty and conjugal 
fideUty, the graces as well as the virtues of the most perfect 
womanhood, have never been more exquisitely pourtrayed. 
The female figures stand out in the canvas almost as 
prominently as the male ones, and are surrounded by an 
almost equal reverence. The whole history of the Siege 
of Troy is a history of the catastrophes that followed a 
violation of the nuptial tie. Yet, at the same time, the 
position of women was in some respects a degraded one. 
The custom of purchase-money given to the &ther of the 
bride was general. The husbands appear to have in- 
dulged largely, and with Uttle or no censure, in concubines.^ 
Female captives of the highest rank were treated with 
great harshness. The inferiority of women to men was 
strongly asserted, and it was illustrated and defended by 
a very curious physiological notion, that the generative 
power belonged exclusively to men, women having only 
a very subordinate part in the production of their chil- 
dren.* The woman Pandora was said to have been the 
author of all human ills. 

> Aristotle said that Homer neyer giyes a concubine to Menelaus, in order 
to intimate his respect for Helen — ^though false. (Athenaw, xiii. 3.) 

^ Euripides has put this curious notion into the mouth of Apollo, in a 
speech in the £umemdes. It has, however^ been yerj widely diffused, and 
may be found in Indian, Greek, Roman, and eyen Christian writers. 



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THE POSmON OF WOMEN. 297 

In the historical age of Greece, the 1^1 position of 
women had in some respects slightly improved, but their 
moral condition had undergone a marked deterioration. 
Virtuous women lived a life of perfect seclusion. The 
foremost and most dazzling type of Ionic womanhood was 
the courtesan, and among the males, at least, the empire 
of passion was almost unrestricted. 

The facts in moral history, which it is at once most im- 
portant and most difficult to appreciate, are what may be 
called the &cts of feeling. It is much easier to show 
what men did or taught than to realise the state of mind 
that rendered possible such actions or teaching ; and in 
the case before us we have to deal with a condition of 
feeling so extremely remote fix)m that of our own day, 
that the difficulty is pre-eminently great. Very sensual, 
and at the same time very brilliant sodeties, have indeed 
repeatedly existed, and the histories of both France and 
Italy afford many examples of an artistic and intellectual 
enthusiasm encircling those who were morally most frail ; 
but the peculiarity of Greek sensuality is, that it grew up, 
for the most part, uncensured, and indeed even encou- 
raged, under the eyes of some of the most illustrious of 
moralists. If we can imagine Ninon de I'Enclos at a time 
when the rank and splendour of Parisian society thronged 
her drawing-rooms, reckoning a Bossuet or a F^nelon 
among her followers — if we can imagine these prelates 
publicly advising her about the duties of her profession. 



M. LegoQT^ who has devoted a veiy curious chapter to the subject^ 
qaotee a passage from St Thomas AquinaSy acceptiug it, and argoing from 
it, that a father should be more loved than a mother. M. Legouv^ says 
that when the male of one animal and the female of another is crossedi the 
type of the female usually predominates In the oflbpring. See Legouy^ 
HisL morale des Femmes, pp. 216-228 ; Fustel de Ooulanges, Im CUS mUique^ 
pp. S^-^O ; and also a curious note by BosweU, in Croker's edition of Boe- 
wen*s Life of Johiwm (1847), p. 472. 



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298 HISTOBY OF EUBOPEAN MORALS. 

and the means of attaching the affections of her lovers, 
we shall have conceived a relation scarcely more strange 
than that whicji existed between Socrates and the courte- 
san Theodota, 

In order to reconstruct, as far as possible, the modes of 
feeling of the Greek moralists, it will be necessary in the 
first place to say a few words concerning one of the most 
deUcate, but at the same time most important, problems 
with which the legislator and the moralist have to 
deaL 

It WHS a fevourite doctrine of the Christian Fathers, 
that concupiscence, or the sensual passion, was * the ori- 
ginal sin' of himian nature ; and it must be owned thai 
the progress of knowledge, which is usually extremely 
opposed to the ascetic theory of hfe, concurs with the 
theological view, in showing the natural force of this 
appetite to be far greater than the well-being of man 
requires. The writings of Malthus have proved what the 
Greek moralists ai^>6ar in a considerable degree to have 
seen, that the normal and temperate exercise of a purely 
natural appetite, in the form of marriage, would produce, 
if universal, the utmost calamities to the world, and that, 
while nature seems in the most unequivocal manner to 
lu-ge the human race to early marriages, the first con- 
dition of an advancing civilisation in populous countries 
is to restrain or diminish them. In no highly civilised 
society is marriage general on the first development of 
the passions, and the continual tendency of increasing 
knowledge is to render such marriages more rare. It is 
also an undoubted truth that, however much moralists 
may enforce the obligation of extra-matrimonial chastity, 
this obhgation has never been even approximately re- 
garded; and in all nations, ages, and religions a vast 
mass of irregular indulgence has appeared, which has 



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• THE POSITION OF WOMEN. 399 

probably contributed more than any other single caiise 
to the misery and the degradation of man. 

There are two ends which a morahst, in dealing with 
this question, will especially regard — the natural duty of 
every man doing something for the support of the child 
he has called into existence, and the preservation of the 
domestic circle unassailed and unpolluted. The family is 
the centre and the archetype of the State, and the happi- 
ness and goodness of society are always in a very great 
d^ree dependent upon the purity of domestic life. The 
essentially exclusive nature of marital affection, and the 
natural desire of every man to be certain of the paternity 
of the child he supports, render the incursions of irregular 
passions within the domestic circle a cause of extreme 
suffering. Yet it would appear as if the excessive force 
of these passions would render such incursions both fre- 
quent and inevitable. 

Under these circumstances, there has arisen in society ^ 
a figure which is certainly the most mournful, and in 
some respects the most awful, upon which the eye of the 
moraUst can dwelL That unhappy being whose very 
name is a shame to speak ; who coimterfeits with a cold 
heart the transports of affection, and submits herself as 
the passive instrument of lust ; who is scorned and in- 
sulted as the vilest of her sex, and doomed, for the most 
part, to disease and abject wretchedness and an early 
death, appears in every age as the perpetual symbol of 
the degradation and the sinfulness 6£ man. Herself the 
supreme type of vice, she is ultimately the most efficient 
guardian of virtua But for her, the unchallenged purity 
of countless happy homes would be polluted, and not a 
few who, in the pride of their untempted chastity, think 
of her with an indignant shudder, would have known the 
jagony of remorse and of despair. On that one degraded 



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aOO HISTOBY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

and ignoble form are concentrated the passions that 
might have filled the world with shame. She remains, 
while creeds and civilisations rise and fall, the eternal 
priestess of humanity, blasted for the sins of the people. 

In dealing with this unhappy being, and with all of 
her sex who have violated the law of chastity, the public 
opinion of most Christian countries pronounces a sentence 
of extreme severity. In the Anglo-Saxon nations espe- 
cially, a single fault of this kind is sufficient, at least in 
the upper and middle classes, to affix an indelible brand 
which no time, no virtues, no penitence can wholly efiace. 
This sentence is probably, in the first instance, simply 
the expression of the religious feeling on the subject, but 
it is also sometimes defended by powerful arguments 
drawn from the interests of society. It is said that the 
preservation of domestic purity is a matter of such tran- 
scendent importance that it is right that the most crushing 
penalties should be attached to an act which the im^ina- 
tion can easily transfigure, which legal enactments can 
never efficiently control, and to which the most violent 
passions may prompt. It is said, too, that an anathema 
which drives into obscurity all evidences of sensual pas- 
sions is peculiarly fitted to restrict their operation ; for, 
more than any other passions, they are dependent on the 
imagination, which is readily fired by the sight of eviL It 
I is added, that the emphasis with which the vice is stigma- 
/ tised produces a corresponding admiration for the opposite 
/ virtue, and that a feeling of the most delicate and scru- 
i- pulous honour is thus formed among the female popu- 
lation, which not only preserves from gross sin, but also 
I dignifies and ennobles the whole character. 

In opposition to these views, several considerations of 
much weight have been urged. It is argued that, how- 
ever persistently society may ignore this form of vice, it 



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THE POSITION OF WOMBN. 801 

' exists nevertheless, and on the most gigantic scale, and 
that evil rarely assumes such inveterate and perverting 
forms as when it is shrouded in obscurity and veiled by a 
hypocritical appearance of unconsciousness. The existence 
in England of unhappy women, sunk in the very lowest 
depths of vice and misery, and numbering certainly not 
less than fifty thousand,^ shows sufficiently what an ap- 
palling amount of moral evil is festering imcontrolled, 
imdiscussed, and unalleviated, under the fair surface of a 
decorous society. In the eyes of every physician, and 
indeed in the eyes of most continental writers who have 
adverted to the subject, no other feature of English life 
appears so infamous as the fact that an epidemic, which 
is one of the most dreadful now existing among mankind, 
which communicates itself fi*om the guilty husband to 
the innocent wife, and even transmits its taint to her 
offspring, and which the experience of other nations con- 
clusively proves may be vastly diminished, should be 
suffered to rage unchecked because the legislation refuses 
lo take official cognisance of its existence, or proper 
sanitary measures for its r^ression.* If the terrible cen- 
sure which Enghsh public opinion passes upon every 
instance of female frailty in some degree diminishes their 
number, it does not prevent them from being extremely 

^ Br. '^iitras, in a remarkable pamphlet (London, 1867) On the Bapre^ 
wm of JhrotUMnm, shows from the police statistics that the nmnber of 
piostitates Amowm to the poUoe in England and Wales, in 1864, was 49,870; 
and this is certainly much below the entire number. These, it will be ob- 
served, comprise only the habitoal, professional prostitutes. 

* Some measures have recently been taken in a few garrison towns. 
The moral sentiment of the community, it appears, would be shocked if 
liverpool were treated on the same principles as Portsmouth. This very 
painful and revolting, but most important subject of prostitution, has been 
treated with great knowledge, impartiality, and ability, by Parent-Duch4- 
telet, in his &mous work La Prostitution dam la viBe de Parun The third 
edition contains very copious supplementary accounts, furnished l^ different 
doctors in different countries. 



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802 HISTOBY OF EUROPEAN MDRALSL 

numerous, and it immeasurably a^ravates the suffering 
they produce. Acts which in other European countries 
would excite only a slight and transient emotion, ^read 
in England, over a wide circle, all the bitterness of un- 
mitigated anguish. Acts which naturally neither imply 
nor produce a total subversion of the moral feelings, and 
which, in other coimtries, are often followed by happy, 
virtuous, and affectionate lives, in England almost in- 
variably lead to absolute ruin. Infanticide is greatly 
multiphed, and a vast proportion of those whose r^u- 
tations and lives have been blasted by one momentary 
sin, are hurled into the abyss of habitual prostitution — a 
condition which, owing to the sentence of public opinion 
and the neglect of legislators, is in no other European 
country so hopelessly vicious or so irrevocable.^ 

It is added, too, that the immense multitude who are 
thus doomed to the extremity of life-long wretchedness 
are not always, perhaps not generally, of those whose dis- 
positions seem naturally incapable of virtue. The victims 
of seduction are often led aside quite as much by the ar- 
dour of their affections, and by the vivacity of their in- 
telligence, as by any vicious propensities.* Even in the 
lowest grades, the most dispassionate observers have de- 
tected remains of higher feelings, which, in a different 

> Ftoent-Duch&telet has given many statiflticSy showing the very laige 
extent to which the French system of sapervision deten those who weie 
about to enter into prostitutioD, and reclaims those who had entered into 
it He and Dr. Yintras concur in represeniing English prostitutioii as 
about the most degraded, and at the same time the most irreyocable. 

* Miss Mulocky in her amiable but rather feeble book, called A Wbtnm'i 
ThtmgkU about Women, has some good remarks on this point (pp. 291-2d3), 
which are all the more yaluable, as the authoress has not the £dntest sym- 
pathy with any opinions concerning the character and position of women 
which are not strictly conventionaL She notices the experienoe of Sunday 
School mistresses, that, of their pupils who are seduced, an exiiemely large 
proportion are ^ of the very beet, refined, intelligent, tmthfiil, and. affisop 
tionate.' . . > 



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THE POSITION OP WOMEN. 808 

moral atmosphere, and under different moral husbandry, 
would have undoubtedly been developed.^ The statistics 
of prostitution show that a great proportion of those who -> 
have fallen into it have been impelled by the most ex- / 
treme poverty, in many instances verging upon starvation.* ^ 

These opposing considerations, which I have very 
briefly indicated, and which I do not propose to discuss 
or to estimate, will be sufficient to exhibit the magnitude 
of the problem. In the Greek civilisation, legislators and 
moralists endeavoured to meet it by the cordial recogni- 
tion of two distinct orders of womanhood'^ — ^the wife, 
whose first duty was fidelity to her husband ; the hetaera, 
or mistress, who subsisted by her fugitive attachments. 
The wives of the Greeks Uved in almost absolute seclusion. 
They were usually married when very young. Their 

* See the yery angular and painM chapter in Parent-Dnchfttelet^ eaUed 
'Moeun et Halntudea dee Prosthii^eB.' He obsenres that they are remark^ 
able for their kindnees to one another in siekness or in dlstresB; that they 
are not unfrequently charitable to poor people who do not belong to their 
class; that when one of them has a diild, it becomes the object of yery 
general interest and afifoction ; that most of them haye loyers, to whom 
they are dncerely attached } that they rarely fail to show in the hospitals 
a yeiy real sense of shame ; and that many of them entered into their mode 
of life for the purpose of supporting aged parents. One anecdote is worth 
giying in the words of the author: 'Un m^ecin n'entrant jamais dans 
leurs salles sans 6ter l^g^rement son chapeau, par cette seule politesse U sut 
teUement omqu^rir leor confiaace qnll leor £usiiit faire tout ce qu'il yonlaiL' 
This writer, I may obseryCi is not a romance writer or a theorist of any 
description. He is simply a physician who describes the results of a yery 
large official experience. 

* * Parent-Duchfttelet atteste que snr trois mille crfotuies perdues trente* 
dnq seulement ayaient un ^t qui pouyait les nourrb^ et que quatorze cents 
ayaient 6t6 pr^pit^es dans cette horrible yie par la misdre. Une d'elle^ 
qaaad elle 6*y r^solut, n'ayait pas mang^ depuis trois jours.'— Legouy^, Miat, 
morale de$ Femine$, pp. 822-323. 

* Concerning the position and character of Greek women the reader may 
obtain ample information by consulting Becker's Charielei (tnmslated by 
Metcalfe, 1845). RainneyiUe, La Femme dam TAntiquUi (Paris, 1865) ; 
and an article ' On Female Society in Greece/ in the twenty-«econd yolume 
of the Qwttieriy Eevitw. 



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804 HISTORY OF EUBOPEAN MORALa ' 

occupations were to weave, to spin, to embroider, to supOT- 
intend the household, to care for their sick slaves. They 
lived in a special and retired part of the house. The more 
wealthy seldom went abroad, and never except when ac- 
companied by a female slave ; never attended the public 
spectacles ; received no male visitors except in the presence 
of their husbands, and had not even a seat at their own 
tables when male guests were there. Their pre-eminrat 
virtue was fidehty, and it is probable that this was very 
strictly and very generally observed. Their remarkable free- 
dom from temptations, the public opinion which strongly 
discouraged any attempt to seduce them, and the ample 
sphere for illicit pleasures that was accorded to the other 
sex, all contributed to protect it. On the other hand, 
living as they did, almost exclusively among their female 
slaves, deprived of all the educating influence of male 
society, and having no place at those pubUc spectacles 
which were the chief means of Athenian culture, their 
minds must necessarily have been exceedingly contracted. 
Thucydides doubtless expressed the prevaiUng sentiment 
of his countrymen when he said that the highest merit 
of woman is not to be spoken of either for good or for 
evil, and Phidias illustrated the same feeling when he 
represented the heavenly Aphrodite standing on a tor* 
toise, typifying thereby the secluded life of a virtuous 
woman.^ 

In their own restricted sphere their lives were probably 
not unhappy. Education and custom rendered the purely 
domestic life that was assigned to them a second nature, 
and it must in most instances have reconciled them to 
the extra-matrimonial connections in which their hus- 
bands too frequently indulged. The prevailing manners 



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THE POSITION OF WOMEN. 80^ 

were very gentle. Domestic oppression is scarcely ever 
spoken of; the husband lived chiefly in the Public place ; 
causes of jealousy and of dissension could seldom occur, 
and a feeling of warm affection, though not a feeling of 
equality, must doubtless have in most cases sponta- 
neously arisen. In the writings of Xenophon we have a 
charming picture of a husband who had received into his 
arms his young wife of fifteen, absolutely ignorant of 
the world and of its ways. He speaks to her with extreme 
kindness, but in the language that would be used to a 
httle child. Her task, he tells her, is to be Uke a queen 
bee, dwelling continually at home and superintending 
the work of her slaves. She must distribute to each 
their tasks, must economise the family income, and must 
take especial care that the house is strictly orderly — the 
shoes, the pots, and the clothes always in their places. 
It is also, he tells her, a part of her duty to tend her sick 
slaves; but here his wife interrupted him, exclaiming, 
*Nay, but that will indeed be the most agreeable of my 
oflSces, if such as I treat with kindness are likely to be 
grateful, and to love me more than before.' With a very 
tender and deUcate care to avoid everything resembling 
a reproach, the husband persuades his wife to give up 
the habits of wearing high-heeled boots, in order to 
appear tall, and of colouring her fece with vermilion and 
white lead. He promises her that if she faithfully per- 
forms her duties he will himself be the first and most 
devoted of her slaves. He assured Socrates that when 
any domestic dispute arose he could extricate himself 
admirably, if he was in the right ; but that, whenever he 
was in the wrong, he found it impossible to convince his 
wife that it was otherwise.^ 

^ Xenophon, Ec<m, ii. 
VOL. II. X 

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806 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

We have another picture of Greek married life in the 
writings of Plutarch, but it represents the condition of 
the Greek mind at a later period than that of Xenophon. 
In Plutarch the wife is represented not as the mere 
housekeeper, or as the chief slave of her husband, but 
as his equal and his companion. He enforces, in the 
strongest terms, reciprocity of obhgations, and desires that 
the minds of women should be cultivated to the highest 
point.^ His precepts of marriage, indeed, fall little if 
at all below any that have appeared in modem days. 
His letter of consolation to his wife, on the death of 
their child, breathes a spirit of the tenderest affection. 
It is recorded of him that, having had some dispute with 
the relations of his wife, she feared that it might impair 
their domestic happiness, and she accordingly persuaded 
her husband to accompany her on a pilgrimage to Mount 
Hehcon, where they offered up together a sacrifice to 
Love, and prayed that their affection for one another 
might never be diminished. 

In general, however, the position of the virtuous Greek 
woman was a very low one. She was under a perpetual 
tutelage : first of all to her parents, who disposed of her 
hand, then to her husband, and in her days of widowhood 
to her sons. In cases of inheritance her male relations 
were preferred to her. The privilege of divorce, which 
she possessed equally with her husband, appears to have 
been practically almost nugatory, on account of the shock 
which pubUc declarations in the law court gave to the 
habits which education and public opinion had formed^ 
She brought with her, however, a dowry, and the recog- 
nised necessity of endowing daughters was one of the 
causes of those frequent expositions which were perpe- 
trated with so little blame. The Athenian law was also 

* Plut. Con/. Pr<Bc, There ia also an extremely beautiful pictoie of tiie 
character of a good wife in AriBtotle. (JEconomicB, book i. cap. yii.) 

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THE POSITION OF WOMEN. 307 

peculiarly careful and tender in dealing with the interests 
of female orphans.^ Plato had ar^ed that women were 
equal to men ; but the habits of the people were totally 
opposed to this theory. Marriage was r^arded chiefly 
in a civic light, as a means of producing citizens, and in 
Sparta it was ordered that old or infirm husbands should 
cede their young wives to stronger men, who could pro- 
duce vigorous soldiers for the State. The Lacedemonian 
treatment of women, which differed in many respects from 
that which prevailed in the other Greek States, while it 
was utterly destructive of all delicacy of feeUng or action, 
had undoubtedly the effect of producing a fierce and 
mascuhne patriotism ; and many fine examples are re- 
corded of Spartan mothers devoting their sons on the 
altar of their coimtry, rejoicing over their deaths when 
nobly won, and infusing their own heroic spirit into the 
armies of the people. For the most part, however, the 
names of virtuous women scarcely appear in Greek 
history. The simple modesty which was evinced by 
Phocion's wife, in the period when her husband occupied 
the foremost position in Athens,^ and a few instances of 
conjugal and filial affection, have been recorded ; but in 
general the only women who attracted the notice of the 
people were the hetaer®, or courtesans.* 

In order to understand the position which these last 

* See Alezander*s Hidory of Women (London^ 1788), vol. L p. 201. 

* Plutarch, Phocian. 

' Our information concenung the Greek courtesans is chiefly derived 
from the thirteenth book of the DeipnosophUts of Athenaus, from the 
Letteri of Alciphron, from the Dialoffues of Lucian on courtesans, and from 
the oration of Demosthenes against Nesera. See, too, Xenophon, Memo^ 
rabiUa, iii. 11; and among modern books, Becker's Charicles. Atheneeus 
was an Egyptian whose exact date was unknown, but who appears to hare 
suryived Ulpian, who died in a.d. 228. He had access to, and gave ex- 
tracts from, many works on this subject, which have now perished. Aid- 
phron is believed to have lived near the time of Lucian. 

x2 

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808 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

assumed in Greek life, we must transport ourselves in 
thought into a moral latitude totally different from our 
own. The Greek conception of excellence was the full and 
perfect development of himianity in all its organs and 
functions, and without any tinge of asceticism. Some 
parts of human nature were recognised as higher than 
others ; and to suffer any of the lower appetites to obscure 
the mind, restrain the will and engross the life, was ac- 
knowledged to be disgraceful ; but the systematic repres- 
sion of a natural appetite was totally foreign to Greek 
modes of thought. Legislators, moralists, and the general 
voice of the people, appear to have appUed these principles 
almost unreservedly to intercourse between the sexes, and 
the most virtuous men habitually and openly entered into 
relations which would now be almost universally censured. 
The experience, however, of many societies has shown 
that a public opinion may accord, in this respect, almost 
unhmited license to one sex, without showing any cor- 
responding indulgence to the other. But in Greece, a 
concm-rence of causes had conspired to bring a certain 
section of courtesans into a position they have in no 
other society attained. The voluptuous worship of 
Aphrodite gave a kind of religious sanction to their pro- 
fession. Courtesans were the priestesses in her temples, 
and those of Corinth were beheved by their prayers to 
have averted calamities from their city. Prostitution is 
said to have entered into the rehgious rites of Babylon, 
Bibhs, Cyprus, and Corinth, and these, as well as Miletus, 
Tenedos, Lesbos, and Abydos became famous for their 
schools of vice, which grew up xmder the shadow of the 
temples.^ 

^ La Mothe le Vajer sajs tliat some of the Latins derived venerari 
from Venerem exercere, on account of the devotions in the temple of 
Venus (Letter xc.)— a very strange derivation. 



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THE POSITION OF WOMEN. 900 

In the next place, the intense cesthetic enthusiasm that 
prevailed, was eminently fitted to raise the most beautiful 
to honour. In a land and beneath a sky where natural 
beauty developed to the highest point, there arose a 
school of matchless artists both in painting and in sculp- 
ture, and public games and contests were celebrated, in 
which supreme physical perfection was crowned by an 
assembled people. In no other period of the world's 
history was the admiration of beauty in all its forms so 
passionate or so universal. It coloured the whole moral 
teaching of the time, and led the chief ihoralists to regard 
virtue simply as the highest kind of supersensual beauty. 
It appeared in all literature, where the beauty of form 
and style was the first of studies. It suppUed at once 
the inspiration and the rule of aU Greek art It led the 
Greek wife to pray, before all other prayers, for the 
beauty of her children. It surrounded the most beauti- 
ful with an aureole of admiring reverence. The courtesan 
was commonly the queen of beauty. She was the model 
of the statues of Aphrodite, that commanded the admira- 
tion of Greece. Praxiteles was acccustomed to repro- 
duce the form of Phryne, and her statue, carved in gold, 
stood in the temple of Apollo at Delphi ; and when she 
was accused of corrupting the youth of Athens, her ad- 
vocate, Hyperides, procured her acquittal by suddenly 
unveiling her charms before the dazzled eyes of the 
assembled judges. Apelles was at once the painter and 
the lover of Lais, and Alexander gave him, as the choicest 
gift, his own favourite concubine, of whom the painter 
had become enamoured while pourtraying her. The 
chief flower-painter of antiquity acquired his skill 
through his love of the flower-girl Glycera, whom he 
was accustomed to paint among her garlands. Pindar 
and Simonides sang the praises of courtesans, and grave 

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310 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORAXS. 

philosopliers made pilgrimages to visit them, and their 
names were knovm in every city.^ 

It is not surprising that, in such a state of thought and 
feeling, many of the more ambitious and accomplished 
women should have betaken themselves to this career, 
nor yet that they should have attained the social position 
which the secluded existence and the enforced ignorance 
of the Greek wives had left vacant. The courtesan was 
the one free woman of Athens, and she often availed her- 
self of her freedom to acquire a degree of knowledge 
which enabled her to add to her other charms an intense 
intellectual fascination. Gathering around her the most 
brilliant artists, poets, historians, and philosophers, she 
flung herself unreservedly into the intellectual and aesthetic 
enthusiasms of her time, and soon became the centre of 
a Uterary society of matchless splendour. Aspasia, who 
was as famous for her genius as for her beauty, won the 
passionate love of Pericles. She is said to have instructed 
him in eloquence, and to have composed some of his 
most famous orations, she was continually consulted on 
affairs of state ; and Socrates, like other philosophers, 
attended her assemblies. Socrates himself has owned 
his deep obligations ,to the instructions of a courtesan 
named Diotima. The courtesan Leontium was among 
the most ardent disciples of Epicurus.^ 

Another cause probably contributed indirectly to the 

' On the connection of the courtesans with the artistic enthusiasm, see 
Raoul Rochette, Cow$ cP ArcMologie, pp. 27B-279. See, too, AthensuSy 
xiii. 69; Pliny, Hid. Nat, xxxv. 40. 

« See the very curious little work of Manage, Historia Mulierwn Fkih- 
Bopharum (Lugduni, mdxc.) ; also Hainneyille, La Femrne dans VAnUqwU^ 
p. 244. At a much later date Lucian, in one of hb works, gives a most 
fascinating description of the beauty, accomplishments, generosity, and 
even modesty, of Panthea of Smyrna, the favourite mistress of Lucius 
Verus. 



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THE POSITION OF WOMES. SIX 

elevation of this class, to which it is extremely diflScult 
to allude in an English book, but which it is impossible 
altogether to omit, even in the most cursory survey of 
Greek morals. Irregular female connections were looked 
upon Bs ordinary and not disgraceful incidents in the 
life of a good man, for the more sensual spirits, 
and indeed very many of the most illustrious men in 
Greece, sank into that lower abyss of unnatural love, 
which was the deepest and strangest taint of Greek 
civilisation. This vice, which never appears in the 
writings of Homer and Hesiod, doubtless arose under the 
influence of the public games, which, accustoming men 
to the contemplation of absolutely nude figures,^ awoke 
an unnatural passion,^ totally remote from all modem 
feelings, but which in Greece it was regarded as heroic 
to resist^ The popular religion in this, as in other 
cases, was made to bend to the new vice. Hebe, the 
cup-bearer of the gods, was replaced by Ganymede, and 

^ A single small garment, called the K^fui, was at first in use; but 
it was discarded, first of all by the Lacedemonians, and afterwards hj 
the other Greeks. There are three curious memoirs tracing the history 
of the change, by M. Burette, in the Hist, de rAcadSmie royaie des Inscrip' 
UoM, tome L 

* On the causes of paiderastia in Greece, see the remarks of Mr. Grote in 
the review of the Sympomim, in his great work on Plato. The whole subject 
is very ably treated by M. Maury, Hid, des BeUgicns de la Chrbce antique, 
tome iii. pp. 35-d9. Many facts coimected with it are collected by Dol- 
linger, in his Jew and Oentilef and by Chateaubriand, in his Etudes histo^ 
riques. The chief original authority for this, or for all other forms of 
Greek sensual vice^ is the thirteenth book of Athenseus, a book of very 
painful interest in the history of morals. 

' Plutarch, in his Life of Apesilaus, gives us a vivid picture of the intense 
self-control manifested by that graat man, in refraining from gratifying a pas- 
sion he had conceived for a boy named Megabetes, which Maximus Tyrius 
says deserved greater praise than the heroism of Leonidas. (Diss, zzv.) 
Diogenes Laertius, in his lAfe of Zeno, the founder of Stoicism, the most 
austere of all ancient sects, praises that philosopher for being but little 
addicted to this vice. 



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3X2 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

the worst vices of earth were transported to Oljnnpus.^ 
Artists sought to reflect the passion in their statues of the 
Hermaphrodite, of Bacchus, and the more effeminate 
Apollo ; moralists were known to praise it as the bond 
of friendship, and it was spoken of as the inspiring enthu- 
3iasm of the heroic Theban legion of Epaminondas.* In 
general, however, it was stigmatised as unquestionably a 
vice, but it was treated with a levity we can now hardly 
conceive. We can scarcely have a better illustration of 
the extent to which moral ideas and feelings have 
changed, than the fact that the two first Greeks who 
were considered worthy of statues by their fellow- 
countrymen, are said to have been Harmodius and Aristo- 
geiton, who were united by an impure love, and who 
were glorified for a political assassination.^ 

It is probable that this cause conspired with the others 
to dissociate the class of courtesans from the idea of 
supreme depravity with which they have usually been 
connected. The great majority, however, were sunk in 
this, as in all other ages, in abject degradation,* com- 
paratively few attained the condition of hetaerae, and 
even of these, it is probable that the greater nimiber 



^ Some examples of the ascription of this vice to the diyinities are given 
\>j Clem. Alex. AdmomUo ad Qentes. Socrates is said to have maintained 
that Japiter loyed Ganymede for his wisdom, as his name is derived from 
yawiiai and /i^^oc, to he delighted with prudence. (Xenophon, Banquet,) 
The disaster of Cannae was ascribed to the jealousy of Juno because a 
beautiful boy was introduced into the temple of Jupiter. (LactanliuS; InsL 
DiV.u. 17.) 

> See a curious passage in Athensus, xiii. 78. It is elaborately vindicated 
in a very revolting book on different kinds of love, ascribed (it is said fidsely) 
to Lucian. Sophocles was especially noted for his propensity to it. 

8 Pliny, Hid. Nat. xxxiv. 9. 

^ There is ample evidence of this in Atheneeus, and in the Dialogues of 
Lucian on the courtesans. See, too, Terence, The Etmuch, act v. scene 4, 
which is copied from the Greek. The majority of the class were not called 
hetffirsD, but wopvau 



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THE POSITION OF WOMEN. 8J3 

exhibited the characteristics which in all ages have 
attached to their class. Faithlessness, extreme rapacity, 
and extravagant luxury, were common among them ; but 
yet it is xmquestionable that there were many exceptions. 
The excommunication of society did not press upon or 
degrade them; and though they were never regarded 
with the same honour as married women, it seems gene- 
rally to have been beheved that the wife and the cour- 
tesan had each her place and her function in the world, 
and her own pecuUar type of excellence. The courtesan 
Leaena, who was a friend of Harmodius, died in torture 
rather than reveal the conspiracy of her friend, and the 
Athenians, in allusion to her name, caused the statue of 
a tongueless lioness to be erected to commemorate her 
constancy.^ The gentle manners and disinterested affec- 
tion of a courtesan named Bacchis were especially re- 
corded, and a very touching letter paints her character, 
and describes the regret that followed her to the tomb.^ 
In one of the most remarkable of his pictures of Greek 
life, Xenophon describes how Socrates, having heard of 
the beauty of the courtesan Theodota, went with his dis- 
ciples to ascertain for himself whether the report was 
true ; how with a quiet humour he questioned her about 
the sources of the luxury of her dwelling, and how he 
proceeded to sketch for her the qualities she should 
cultivate in order to attach her lovers. She ought, he 
tells her, to shut the door against the insolent, to watch 



* Plutarch, De OamdUaU-y Plin. Sia. Nat. xxxiv. 19. The feat of 
bidng out their tongues rather than reveal secrets, or yield to passiou, is 
ascribed to a suspiciously large number of persons. Manage cites five be- 
sides Lesena. {Hist. MuHer. I^os. pp. 104>108.) 

^ See; upon Bacchis, several of the letters of Alciphron, especially the 
very touching letter (x.) on her death; describing her kindness and dis- 
interestedness. Athenseus (xiii 66) relates a curious anecdote illustrating 
these aspects of her character. 



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814 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

her lovers in sickness, to rejoice greatly when they succeed 
in anything honourable, to love tenderly those who love 
her. Having carried on a cheerful and perfectly unem- 
barrassed conversation with her, with no kind of reproach 
on his part, either expressed or implied, and with no 
trace either of the timidity or eflfrontery of conscious guilt 
upon hers, the best and wisest of the Greeks left his 
hostess with a graceful comphment to her beauty.^ 

My task in describing this aspect of Greek life has 
been an eminently unpleasing one, and I should cer- 
tainly not have entered upon even the baldest and most 
guarded disquisition on a subject so difficult, painful, and 
delicate, had it not been absolutely indispensable to a 
history of morals to give at least an outhne of the pro- 
gress that has been effected in this sphere. What I have 
written will sufficiently explain why Greece, which was 
fertile, probably beyond all other lands, in great men, 
was so remarkably barren of great women. It will show, 
too, that though chastity and sensuahty were regarded, as 
among ourselves, as respectively the higher and the lower 
sides of our nature, the degree of license which it was 
thought advisable to accord to the latter was widely 
different from what modem public opinion would sanc- 
tion. The Christian doctrine, that it is criminal to gratify 
a powerful and a transient physical appetite, except 
under the condition of a hfelong contract, was altogether 
unknown. Strict duties were imposed upon Greek wives. 
Duties were imposed at a later period, though less strictly, 
upon the husband. Unnatural love was stigmatised, but 
with a levity of censure which to a modem mind appears 
inexpressibly revolting. Some slight legal disqualifica- 
tions rested upon the whole class of hetaerae, and, though 

* XenophoS; Memorab, iii. 11. 

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THR POSITION OF WOMEN. 816 

more admired, they were less respected than women who 
had adopted a domestic life; but a combination of cir- 
cmnstances had raised them, in actual worth and in 
popular estimation, to an unexampled elevation, and an 
aversion to marriage became very general, and iUicit 
connections were formed with the most perfect frankness 
and publicity. 

If we now turn to the Roman civilisation, we shall 
find that some important advances had been made in 
the condition of women. The virtue of chastity may, 
as I have shown, be regarded with justice in two dif- 
ferent ways. The utilitarian view, which commonly 
prevails in countries where a political spirit is more 
powerful than a religious spirit, r^ards marriage as the 
ideal state, and to promote the happiness, sanctity, and 
security of this state is the main object of all its pre- 
cepts. The mystical view which rests upon the feeling of 
shame that is naturally attached to sensual indulgences, 
and which, as history proves, has prevailed especially 
where political sentiment is very low and religious senti- 
ment very strong, regards virginity as its supreme type, 
and marriage as simply the most pardonable declension 
from ideal purity. It is, I think, a very remarkable fact, 
that at the head of the religious system of Rome we find 
two sacerdotal bodies which appear respectively to tjrpify 
these ideas. The Flamens of Jupiter and the Vestal Vir- 
gins were the two most sacred orders in Rome. The 
ministrations of each were believed to be vitally important 
to the State. Each could officiate only within the walls 
of Rome. Each was appointed with the most imposing 
ceremonies. Each was honoured with the most pro- 
found reverence. But in one important respect they 
differed. The Vestal was the type of virginity, and her 
chastity weis guarded by the most terrific penalties. The 

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316 ' fflSTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

Flamen, on the other hand, was the representative of 
Koman marriage in its strictest and purest form. He 
was necessarily married. His marriage was celebrated 
with the most solemn rites. It could only be dissolved 
by death. If his wife died, he was degraded fix)m his 
office.^ 

Of these two orders, there can be no question that tie 
Flamen was the most faithful expression of the Boman 
society. The Eoman religion was essentially domestic, 
and it was a main object of the legislator to surround 
marriage with every circumstance of dignity and so- 
lemnity. Monogamy was, from the earliest times, strictly 
enjoined, and it was one of the great benefits that have 
resulted from the expansion of Koman power, that it 
made this type dominant in Europe. In the l^ends of 
early Home we have ample evidence both of the high moral 
estimate of women, and of their prominence in Boman 
life. The tragedies of Lucretia and of Virginia display a 
delicacy of honour, a sense of the supreme excellence of 
unsullied purity, which no Christian nation could surpass. 
The legends of the Sabine women interceding between 
their parents and their husbands, and thus saving the 
infant republic, and of the mother of Coriolanus averting 
by her prayers the ruin impending over her coimtry, 
entitled women to claim their share in the patriotic glories 
of Home. Temples were even erected to commemorate 
their acts. A temple of Venus Calva was the record of 
the devotion of Roman ladies, who, in an hoxir of danger, 
cut off their long tresses to make bowstrings for the 
soldiers.^ Another temple preserved to all posterity the 
memory of the filial piety of that Roman girl who, when 
her mother was condemned to be starved to death, ob- 

1 On the Flamens, see Aulus Geli, Nod, z. 15. 
' Capitolinus, Maximmua Jtmior, 



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THE POSITION OF WOMEN. BIT 

tained permission to visit her in prison, and was discovered 
feeding her from her breast.^ 

The l^al position, however, of the Boman wife was for 
a long period extremely low. The Eoman family was 
constituted on the principle of the absolute authority of 
its head, who had a power of life and death both over 
his wife and over his children, and who could repudiate the 
former at will. Neither the custom of gifts to the father 
of the bride, nor the custom of dowries appears to have 
existed in the earliest period of Boman history ; but the 
father disposed absolutely of the hand of his daughter, and 
sometimes even possessed the power of breaking off mar- 
riages that had been actually contracted.* In the forms of 
marriage, however, which were usual in the earlier periods 
of Rome, the absolute power passed into the hands of the 
husband, and he had the right, in some cases, of putting 
her to death.^ Law and public opinion combined in mak- 
ing matrimonial purity most strict. For five hundred 
and twenty years, it was said, there was no such thing 
as a divorce in Eome,* and even after this example, for 
many years the marriage tie was regarded as absolutely 
indissoluble.^ Manners were so severe, that a senator was 
censured for indecency because he had kissed his wife in 
the presence of their daughter.^ It was considered in a 
high degree disgraceful for a Eoman mother to delegate to 

» Pliny, Hist, Nat, vii. 86. 

* This appears from the first act of the SUchm of Plautas. I should 
imagine this cannot have applied to the marriage of confarreatio. The 
power appears to have become quite obsolete during the empire, but the 
first legal act (which was rather of the nature of an exhortation than of a 
command) against it was issued bj Antoninus Pius, and it was only defi- 
nitely abolished under Diocletian. (Laboulaye, Becherches iw la condition 
civile et poUtigue desfemmes, pp. 16-17.) 

» Aul. GeU. Noct. x. 23. 

^ Val. Maximus, ii. 1. J 4 ; AuL Gellius, Noct, iy. 3. 

^ This is noticed by Plautus. * Ammianus Marcellinus, xxviii. 4 



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818 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

a nurse the duty of suckling her child.^ Sumptuary laws 
regulated with the most minute severity all the details of 
domestic economy.^ The courtesan class, though proba- 
bly numerous and certainly uncontrolled, were regarded 
with much contempt. The disgrace of publicly professing 
themselves members of it was believed to be a sufficient 
punishment,^ and an old law, which was probably intended 
to teach in symbol the duties of married life, enjoined that 
no such person should touch the altar of Juno.* It was 
related of a certain eedile, that he failed to obtain redress 
for an assault which had been made upon him, because 
it had occurred in a house of iQ-fame, in which it was dis- 
graceful for a Eoman magistrate to be found.^ The sanctity 
of female purity was believed to be attested by all nature. 
The most savage animals became tame before a virgin.* 
When a woman walked naked round a field, caterpillars 
and all loathsome insects fell dead before her/ It was 
said that drowned men floated on their backs, and 
drowned women on their faces ; and this, in the opinion 
of Homan naturaUsts, was due to the superior purity of 
the latter.^ 

It was a remark of Aristotle, that the superiority of the 
Greeks to the barbarians was shown, amongst other things, 
in the fact that the Greeks did not, like other nations, 
regard their wives as slaves, but treated them as help- 
mates and companions. A Eoman writer has appealed, 

* Tacitus, De OratoribuSf xxviii. * See Aulue Gellius, Nod. n. 24. 

' ' More inter veteres recepto, qui satis poenarum adversum impudicas in 
ipsa professione flagitii credebant.'— Tacitus, AnndL ii. 86. 

^ AuL Gell. iy. 3. Juno was the goddess of marriage. 

» Ibid. iv. 14. 

^ The well-known superstition about the lion, &c, becoming docile before 
a virgin is, I believe, as old as Roman times. St Isidore mentions that 
rhinoceroses were believed to be captured by young girls being put in their 
way to fascinate them. (Legendre, TraiU de VOpiniony tome ii p. 86.) 

f Pliny, Hist. Nat. xxviii. 23. • Ibid. vii. 18. 



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THE POSITION OF WOMEN. 319 

on the whole with greater justice, to the treatment of 
wives by his fellow countrymen, as a proof of the superi- 
ority of Eoman to Greek civilisation. He has observed 
that, while the Greeks kept their wives in a special quarter 
in the interior of their houses, and never permitted them 
to sit at banquets except with their relatives, or to see any 
male except in the presence of a relative, no Eoman ever 
hesitated to lead his wife with him to the feast, or to 
place the mother of the family at the head of his table.^ 
Whether, in the period when wives were completely sub- 
ject to the rule of their husbands, much domestic oppres- 
sion occurred, it is now impossible to say. A temple 
dedicated to a goddess named Viriplaca, whose mission 
was to appease husbands, was worshipped by Eoman 
women on the Palatine,^ and a strange and improbable, if 
not incredible story, is related by Livy, of the discovery, 
durmg the Eepublic, of a vast conspiracy by Eoman wives 
to poison their husbands.^ On the whole, however, it is 
probable that the Eoman matron was from the earliest 
period a name of honour ;* that the beautiful sentence of 
a jurisconsult of the empire, who defined marriage as a 
lifelong fellowship of all divine and human rights,^ ex- 
pressed most faithfully the feelings of the people, and that 
female virtue shone in every age conspicuously in Eoman 
biographies.^ 

' ' Quern enixn Romanorum pudet uxorem ducere in conyiidain P aut cujus 
materfamilias non primum locum tenet eedium, atque in celebritate venia- 
tur P quod multo fit aliter in GrsBcia. Nam neque in conyiyium adhibetur, 
nisi piopinquorum, neque sedet nisi in interiore parte ledium quee gytue- 
contis appeUatur, quo nemo aocedit, nisi propinqua oognatione oonjunctus.' — 
Com. NepoSy pnefat 

> Val. Max. ii. 1. § 6. • Liv. viii. 18. 

« See Val. Max. ii. 1. 

^ ' Nuptue sunt conjunctio maris et feminss, et consortium onmis Titas 
divini et humani juris communicatio.' — Modestinus. 

^ Livy xxxiv. 6. There is a fine collection of legends or histories of 
heroic women (but chiefly Greek) in Clem. Alexand. Strom, iy. 19. 



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820 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS, 

I have already enumerated the chief causes of that 
complete dissolution of Eoman morals which began shortly 
after the Punic wars, which contributed very largely to 
the destruction of the Kepubhc, and which attained its 
cUmax under the Caesars* There are few examples in 
history of a revolution pervading so completely every 
sphere of rehgious, domestic, social, and political life. 
Philosophical scepticism corroded the ancient religions. 
An inundation of Eastern luxury and Eastern morals sub- 
merged all the old habits of austere simpUcity. The civil 
wars and the empire degraded the character of the 
people, and the exaggerated prudery of republican man- 
ners only served to make the rebound into vice the more 
irresistible. In the fierce outburst of ungovernable and 
almost frantic depravity that marked this evil period, the 
violations of female virtue were infamously prominent. 
The vast multiplication of slaves, which is in every age 
peculiarly fatal to moral purity ; the fact that a great 
proportion of those slaves were chosen from the most 
voluptuous provinces of the empire ; the games of Flora, 
in which races of naked courtesans were exhibited ; the 
pantomimes, which derived their charms chiefly fix)m the 
audacious indecencies of the actors ; the influx of the Greek 
and Asiatic hetaerae who were attracted by the wealth of 
the metropolis ; the licentious paintings which began to 
adorn every house ; the rise of Baiae, which rivalled the 
luxury and surpassed the beauty of the chief centres of 
Asiatic vice, combining with the intoxication of great 
wealth suddenly acquired, with the disruption, through 
many causes, of all the ancient habits and beUefe, and with 
the tendency to pleasure which the closing of the paths of 
honourable political ambition, by the imperial despotism, 
naturally produced, had all their part in preparing those 
orgies of vice which the writers of the empire reveal. 



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THE POSITION OF WOMEN. 321 

Most scholars will, I suppose, retain a vivid recollection 
of the new insight into the extent and wildness of human 
guilt which they obtained when they first opened the 
pages of Suetonius or Lampridius ; and the sixth Satire 
of Juvenal paints with a fierce energy, though probably 
with the natural exaggeration of a satirist, the extent to 
which corruption had spread among the women. It was 
found necessary, under Tiberius, to make a special law 
prohibiting members of noble houses from enrolling them- 
selves as prostitutes.^ The extreme coarseness of the 
Eoman disposition prevented sensuality from assuming 
that aesthetic character which had made it in Greece 
the parent of Art, and had very profoundly modified its 
influence, while the passion for gladiatorial shows often 
allied it somewhat unnaturally with cruelty. There have 
certainly been many periods in history when virtue was 
more rare than under the Caesars; but there has probably 
never been a period when vice was more extravagant or 
uncontrolled. Young emperors especially, who were sur- 
rounded by swarms of sycophants and pandars, and who 
often lived in continual dread of assassination, plunged 
with the most reckless and feverish excitement into every 
variety of abnormal lust. The reticence which has 
always more or less characterised modem society and 
modem writers was unknown, and the unblushing, un- 
disguised obscenity of the Epigrams of Martial, of the 
Eomances of Apuleius and Petronius, and of some of the 
Dialogues of Lucian, reflected but too faithiuUy the spirit 
of their time. 

There had arisen, too, partly through vicious causes, 
and partly, I suppose, through the unfavourable influence 
which the attraction of the pubhc institutions exercised on 

^ Tacitusy Atmal, ii. 85. This decree was on account of a patrician ladj 
named Vistilia having so enrolled herself. 

VOL. II. ^ T 

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822 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

domestic life, a great and general indisposition towards 
marriage, which Augustus attempted in vain to arrest by 
his laws against ceUbacy, and by conferring many pri- 
vileges on the fathers of three children.^ A singularly 
curious speech is preserved, which is said to have been 
delivered on this subject shortly before the close of the 
Eepublic, by Metellus Numidicus, in order, if possible, tx> 
overcome this indisposition. * If, Romans,' he said, ' we 
could hve without wives, we should all keep free from that 
source of trouble ; but since nature has ordained that 
men can neither live sufficiently agreeably with wives, nor 
at all without them, let us consult the perpetual endur- 
ance of our race rather than our own brief enjoyment.'* 

In the midst of this torrent of corruption a great change 
was passing over the legal position of Boman women. 
They had at first been in a condition of absolute subjec- 
tion or subordination to their relations. They arrived, 
during the empire, at a point of freedom and dignity 
which they subsequently lost, and have never altogether 
regained. The Romans admitted three kinds of mar- 
riage — the ' confarreatio,' which was accompanied by the 
most awful religious ceremonies, was practically indis- 
soluble, and was jealously restricted to patricians; the 
coemptio,' which was purely civil, which derived its name 

* Dion Cassiufl, liv. 16, Ivi. 10. 

' ' Si sine uxore possemus, Quirites, esse, omnes ea molestia careremus ; sed 
qiioniam ita natura tradidit, ut nee cum illis satis commode nee sine illis 
uUo modo yivi possit, saluti perpetuse potius quam brevi Toluptati consulen- 
dum.' — ^Aulus Qellius, Noct. i. 6. Some of the audience, we are told, thought 
that, in exhorting to matrimony, the speaker should have concealed its 
undoubted evils. It was decided, however, that it was more honourable to 
tell the whole truth. Stobaeus (SententuB) has preserved a number of 
harsh and often heartless sayings about wives, that were popular among the 
Greeks. It was a saying of a Greek poet, that 'marriage brings only two 
happy days— the day when the husband first clasps his wife to his breast, 
and Uie day when he lays her in the tomb ;* and in Rome it became a pro- 
verbial saying, that a wife was only good 'in thalamo vel in tumulo.' 



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THE POSITION OF WOMEN. 32S 

from a symbolical sale, and which, like the preceding form, 
gave the husband complete authority over the person and 
property of his wife ; and the * usus,' which was effected by 
a simple declaration of a determination to cohabit. This 
last form of marriage became general in the empire, and 
it had this very important consequence, that the woman 
so married remained, in the eyes of the law, in the family 
of her father, and was under his guardianship, not under 
the guardianship of her husband. But the old patria 
potestas had become completely obsolete, and the prac- 
tical effect of the general adoption of this form of mar- 
riage was the absolute legal independence of the wife. 
With the exception of her dowry, which passed into the 
hands of her husband, she held her property in her own 
right ; she inherited her share of the wealth of her father, 
and she retained it altogether independently of her hus- 
band. A very considerable portion of Eoman wealth 
thus passed into the uncontrolled possession of women. 
The private man of business of the wife was a favourite 
character in the comedians, and the tyranny exercised by 
rich wives over their husbands — to whom it is said they 
sometimes lent money at high interest — ^a continual theme 
of satirists.^ 

A complete revolution had thus passed over the consti- 
tution of the family. Instead of being constructed on the 
principle of autocracy, it was constructed on the principle 
of coequal partnership. The legal position of the wife 
had become one of complete independence, while her 
social position was one of great dignity. The more 

* Friedlander^ Hist, des Mobuts ramameSf tome i. pp. 360-864. On the 
great iofluence exercised by Roman ladies on political affairs some remark- 
able passages are collected in Dems,' Hid. des IdSea Aforaks, tome ii. pp. 98- 
99. This author is particularly valuable in all that relates to the history 
of domestic morals. The Asinariusot Plautus^ and some of the epigrams of 
Mardali throw much light upon this subject 

t2 

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324 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

conservative spirits were naturally alarmed at the change, 
and two measures were taken to arrest it. The Oppian 
law was designed to restrain the luxury of women ; but, 
in spite of the strenuous exertions of Cato, this law was 
speedily repealed.^ A more important measure was the 
Voconian law, which restricted within certain very 
narrow limits the property which women might inherit ; 
but public opinion never fully acquiesced in it, and by 
several legal subterfuges its operation was partially 
evaded.^ 

Another and a still more important consequence re- 
sulted from the changed form of marriage. Being looked 
upon simply as a civil contract, entered into for the hap- 
piness of the contracting parties, its continuance depended 
upon mutual consent. Either party might dissolve it at 
will, and the dissolution gave both parties a right to 
remarry. There can be no question that under this 
system the obligations of marriage were treated with 
extreme levity. We find Cicero repudiating his wife 
Terentia, because he desired a new dowry ;^ Augustus 
compelling the husband of Livia to repudiate her when 
she was already pregnant, that he might marry her him- 
self ;* Cato ceding his wife, with the consent of her father, 
to his friend Hortensius, and resuming her after his 
death ;^ Maecenas continually changing his wife ;^ Sem- 
pronius Sophus repudiating his wife, because she had 

^ See the veij remarkable discuBsion about this repeal in Livy, lib. xzxiv, 
cap. 1-8. 

^ Legouy^y Sid, Morale des Femmes, pp. 23-26. St Aug^nstine denounced 
this law as the most unjust that could be mentioned or even conceiyed. 
' Qua lege quid iniquius dici aut cogitari possit, ignoro.' — St Aug. De Citk 
Dei, ili. 21— a curious illustration of the difference between the habits of 
thought of his time and those of the middle ages, when daughters were 
habitually sacrificed without a protest, by the feudal laws. 

» Plutarch, Cicero. * Tacit Ann, I 10, 

^ Plutarch, Caio ; Lucan, Pharsal, ii. ^ Senec. i^. cxir. 



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THE POSITION OF WOMEN. 825 

once been to the public games without his knowledge;^ 
Paulus jEmilius taking the same step without assigning 
any reason, and defending himself by saying, * My shoes 
are new and well made, but no one knows where they 
pinch me.'^ Nor did women show less alacrity in repu- 
diating their husbands. Seneca denoxmced this evil with 
especial vehemence, declaring that divorce in Eome no 
longer brought with it any shame, and that there were 
women who reckoned their years rather by their husbands 
than by the consuls.* Christians and Pagans echoed the 
same complaint According to Tertullian, 'divorce is 
the fruit of marriage.'^ Martial speaks of a woman who 
had already arrived at her tenth husband;^ Juvenal, of 
a woman having eight husbands in five years.^ But the 
most extraordinary recorded instance of this kind is re- 
lated by St. Jerome, who assures us that there existed at 
Eome a wife who was married to her twenty-third 
husband, she herself being his twenty-first wife.^ 

These are, no doubt, extreme cases; but it is un- 
questionable that the stability of married hfe was very 
seriously impaired. It would be easy, however, to ex- 
aggerate the influence of legal changes in affecting it. In 
a purer state of public opinion a very wide latitude of 
divorce might probably have been allowed to both parties, 
without any serious consjequence. The right of repudia- 
tion, which the husband had always possessed, was, as we 
have seen, in the Eepublic never or very rarely exercised. 
Of those who scandahsed good men by the rapid recur- 
rence of their marriages, probably most, if marriage was 

« VaL Max. vi. 3. 

* Plutarch, Patd, JEmil, It is not quite clear whether this remark was 
made by Paulus himself. 

' Sen. de Benef. iii, 16. See, too, Ep. xcv. Ad Hdv, xvi. 

* ApoL 6. » Epig. vi. 7. 

* Juv. Sat, vi. 330. ' Ep, 2. 



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826 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

indissoluble, would have refrained from enteiing into it, 
and would have contented themselves with many informal 
connections, or, if they had married, would have gratified 
their love of change by simple adultery. A vast wave of 
corruption had flowed in upon Eome, and imder any 
system of law it would have penetrated into domestic life. 
Laws prohibiting all divorce have never secured the 
purity of married life in ages of great corruption, nor did 
the latitude which was accorded in imperial Eome prevent 
the existence of a very large amount of female virtue. 

I have observed in a former chapter, that the moral 
contrasts which were shown in ancient hfe surpass those 
of modem societies, in which we very rarely find clusters 
of heroic or illustrious men arising in nations that are in 
general very ignorant or very corrupt. I have endea- 
voured to account for this fact by showing that the moral 
agencies of antiquity were in general much more fitted to 
develope virtue than to repress vice, and that they raised 
noble natures to almost the highest conceivable point of 
excellence, while they entirely failed to coerce or to 
attenuate the corruption of the depraved. In the female 
life of Imperial Eome we find these contrasts vividly dis- 
played. There can be no question that the moral tone 
of the sex was extremely low — lower, probably, than in 
France imder the Eegency, or in England under the 
Eestoration — and it is also certain that frightful excesses 
of unnatural passion, of which the most corrupt of modem 
courts present no parallel, were perpetrated with but litde 
concealment on the Palatine. Yet there is probably no 
period in which examples of conjugal heroism and fide- 
lity appear more frequently than in this very age, in which 
marriage was most free and in which corruption was so 
general. Much simplicity of manners continued to co- 
exist with the excesses of an almost unbridled luxury. 



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THE POSITION OF WOMEN. 827 

Augustus, we are told, used to make his daughters and 
grand-daughters weave and spin, and his wife and sister 
made most of the clothes he wore.^ The skill of wives in 
domestic economy, and especially in spinning, was fre- 
quently noticed in their epitaphs.^ Intellectual culture 
was much diffused among them,* and we meet with seve- 
ral noble specimens in the sex, of large and accomplished 
minds united with all the gracefulness of intense woman- 
hood, and all the fidelity of the truest love. Such were 
Cornelia, the brilliant and devoted wife of Pompey ; * 
Marcia, the friend, and Helvia, the mother of Seneca. 
The Northern Italian cities had in a great d^ee escaped 
the contamination of the times, and Padua was especially 
noted for the chastity of its women.^ In an age of extrar 
vagant sensuality a noble lady, named Mallonia, plunged 
her dagger in her heart rather than yield to the embraces 
of Tiberius.* To the period when the legal bond of 
marriage was most relaxed must be assigned most of those 
noble examples of the constancy of Koman wives, which 
have been for so many generations household tales among 
mankind. Who has not read with emotion of the tender- 
ness and heroism of Porcia, claiming her right to share in 
the trouble which clouded her husband's brow; how, 
doubting her own courage, she did not venture to ask 
Brutus to reveal to her his enterprise till she had secretly 
tried her power of endurance by piercing her thigh with a 

^ Sueton. Aug. Charlemagne^ in like manner^ made his daughters work 
in wool. (Eginhardus, Vit Kar, Mag, xix.) 

' Fnedlander, Mcntn romames du rhgne dPAuguste d la Jin des Antomns 
(trad, iran^.), tome i. p. 414. 

* Much evidence of this is collected hy Friedlander^ tome i. pp. 387-395. 

* Plutarch, Pompeius, 

^ Martial, xi. 16, mentions the reputation of the women of Padua for 
virtue. The younger Pliny also notices the austere and antique virtue of 
Brescia (Brixia).— j^. L 14. 

* Suet. TiberiuBf xly. 



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328 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

knife ; how once, and but once in his presence, her noble 
spirit failed, when, as she was about to separate from him 
for the last time, her eye chanced to fall upon a picture 
of the parting interview of Hector and Andromache?^ 
Paulina, the wife of Seneca, opened her own veins in 
order to accompany her husband to the grave; wh^i 
much blood had already flowed, her slaves and freedmen 
boimd her wounds, and tiius compelled her to live ; but 
the Eomans ever after observed with reverence the saared 
pallor of her countenance — the memorial of her act.* 
When PflBtus was condemned to die by his own hand, 
those who knew the love which his wife Arria bore him, 
and the heroic fervour of her character, predicted that she 
would not long survive him. Thrasea, who had married 
her daughter, endeavoured to dissuade her from suicide 
by saying, * K I am ever called upon to perish, would you 
wish your daughter to die with me ? ' She answered, ' Yes, 
if she will have then lived with you as long and as hap- 
pily as I with PsBtus.' Her friends attempted, by care- 
fully watching her, to secure her safety, but she dashed 
her head against the wall with such force that she fell 
upon the ground, and then, rising up, she said, ' I told you 
I would find a hard way to death if you reftise me an 
easy way.' All attempts to restrain her were then aban- 
doned, and her death was perhaps the most majestic in 
antiquity. Paetus for a moment hesitated to strike the 
fatal blow ; but his wife, taking the dagger, plunged it 
deeply in her own breast, and then drawing it out, gave it> 
all reeking as it was, to her husband, exclaiming, with 
her dying breath, * My PsBtus, it does not pain.' * 

The form of the elder Arria towers grandly above 
her fellows, but many other Eoman wives in the days of 

> Plutarch, JSndtis, * Tacit Annal. xt. 63-04 

» ' Pcete, non dolet.' - Plin. £p. iii. 16 ; Martial, Ep, i. 14. 



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THE POSITION OF WOMEN. 820 

the early CaBsars and Domitian exhibited a very similar 
fidelity. Over the dark waters of the Euxine, into those 
unknown and inhospitable regions from which the Eoman 
imagination recoiled with a pecuHar horror, many noble 
ladies fi-eely followed their husbands, and there were 
some wives who refiised to sxirvive them.^ The younger 
Arria was the faithful companion of Thrasea during his 
heroic life, and when he died she was only persuaded to 
hve that she might bring up their daughters.^ She spent 
the closing days of Domitian in exile,® while her daughter, 
who was as remarkable for the gentleness as for the dig- 
nity of her character,* went twice into exile with her hus- 
band Helvidius, and was once banished, after his death, for 
defending his memory.^ Incidental notices in historians, 
and a few inscriptions which have happened to survive, 
show us that such instances were not imcommon, and in 
the Boman epitaphs that remain, no feature is more re- 
markable than the deep and passionate expressions of 
conjugal love that continually occur.^ It would be diffi- 
cult to find a more touching image of that love, than the 
medaUion which is so common on the Eoman sarcophagi, 
in which husband and wife are represented together, each 
with an arm thrown fondly over the shoulder of the other, 
united in death as they had been in life, and meeting it 
with an aspect of perfect calm, because they were com- 
panions in the tomb. 

> Tadt Amud. xvi 10-11; Bid. i. 3. See, too, Friedlander, tome i. 
p. 406. 

« Tadt. Ann. xvL 84. 

' Pliny mentions her return after the death of the tyrant (J5p. iii. 11). 

^ ' Quod paucis datum est, non minus amabilis quam veneranda.' — Plin. 
JSp. vii. 19. 

* See Plin. Ep, vii. 19. Dion Cassius and Tacitus relate the exiles of 
Helvidius, who appeals to have been rather intemperate and unreasonable. 

' Friedlander gives many and most touching examples, tome i pp. 
410-114. 



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SaO HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

In the latter days of the Pagan Empire some measures 
were taken to repress the profligacythat was so prevalent. 
Domitian enforced the old Scantinian law against un- 
natural love.^ Vespasian moderated the luxury of the 
court ; Macrinus caused those who had committed adul- 
tery to be bound together and burnt alive.^ A practice 
of men and women bathing together was condemned by 
Hadrian, and afterwards by Alexander Severus, but was 
only finally suppressed by Constantine. Alexander Se- 
verus and Philip waged an energetic war againsfrpandars.^ 
The extreme excesses of this, as of most forms of vice, 
were probably much diminished after the accession of the 
Antonines ; but Kome continued to be a centre of very 
great corruption till the combined influence of Christianity, 
the removal of the court to Constantinople, and the im- 
poverishment that followed the barbarian conquests, in a 
measure corrected the evU. 

Among the moralists, however, some important steps 
were taken. One of the most important was a very 
clear assertion of the reciprocity of that obligation to 
fidelity in marriage which in the early stages of society 
had been imposed almost exclusively upon wives.* The 
legends of Clytemnestra and of Medea reveal the feel- 
ings of fierce resentment which were sometimes pro- 
duced among Greek wives by the almost unlimited 
indulgence that was accorded to their husbands;^ and 

1 Suet Dotn. viii. * CapitoHnuB^ Macrinus, 

* Lampridius, A. Severus, 

^ In the oration against Nes^ra, which is ascribed to Demosthenes, but 
is of doubtful genuineness, the license accorded to husbands is spoken 
of as a matter of course : ' We keep mistresses for our pleasure, concuHnes 
for constant attendance, and wires to bear us legitimate children, and to be 
our faithful housekeepers.' 

^ There is a remarkable passage on the feelings of wives, in different 
nations, upon this point, in Athenseus, xiii. 8. See, too, Plutarch, Cm 

Pf'OCs 



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THE POSITION OF WOMEN. 881 

it is told of Andromache, as the supreme instance of 
her love of Hector, that she cared for his illegitimate 
children as much as for her own.* In early Eome, the 
obligations of husbands were never, I imagine, altogether 
unfelt, but they were rarely or never enforced, nor were 
they ever regarded as bearing any kind of equaUty to 
those imposed upon the wife. The term adultery, and all 
the l^al penalties connected with it, were restricted to the 
infractions by a wife of the nuptial tie. Among the 
many instances of magnanimity recorded of Eoman wives, 
few are more touching than that of Tertia jEmilia, the 
faithful wife of Sdpio. She discovered that her husband 
had become enamoured of one of her slaves; but she bore 
her pain in silence, and when he died she gave hberty to 
her captive, for she could not bear that she should remain 
in servitude whom her dear lord had loved.^ 

Aristotle had clearly asserted the duty of husbands to 
observe in marriage the same fidehty as they expected 
from their wives,* and at a later period both Plutarch and 
Seneca enforced it in the strongest and most unequivocal 
manner.* The degree to which, in theory at least, it won 

^ Euripid. Andromache. 

* Yaler. Max. yi. 7, § 1. Some veiy scandalous instances of cynicism 
on the part of Roman husbands are recorded. Thus^ Augustus had many 
mistresses, ' Quae [virgines] sibi undique etiam ab ux^re conquirerentur.' — 
Sueton. Auff, Ixxi, When the wife of Verus, the colleague of Marcus Au- 
relius, complained of the tastes of her husband, he answered, ' Uxor enim 
dignitatis nomen est, non voluptas.' — Spartian. Veru$. 

• Aristotle, Ecotwm, i. 4-S-O. 

^ Plutarch enforces the duty at length, in his Tery beautiful work on 
marriage. In case husbands are guilty of infidelity, he recommends their 
wives to preserve a prudent blindness, reflecting that it is out of respect 
for them that they choose another woman as the companion of their intem- 
perance. Seneca touches briefly, but unequivocally, on the subject : ' Sds 
improbum esse qui ab uxore pudicitiam exigit, ipse alienarum corruptor 
uxorum. Sds ut illi nil cum adultero, sic nihil tibi esse debere cum pel- 
lice.' — Ep. xciv. ' Sdet in uxorem gravissimum esse genus injuriee, habere 
pellicem.'— ^. xcv. 



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882 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

its way in Roman life is shown by its recognition as 
a legal maxim by Ulpian/ and by its appearance in a 
formal judgment of Antoninus Pius, who, while issuing, 
at the request of a husband, a condemnation for adultery 
against a guilty wife, appended to it this remarkable con- 
dition : ' Provided always it is established that by your 
life you gave her an example of fidelity. It would be 
unjust that a husband should exact a fideUty he does not 
himself keep.*^ 

Another change, which may be dimly descried in the 
later Pagan society, was a tendency to regard purity 
rather in a mystical point of view, as essentially good, 
than in the utihtarian point of view. This change resulted 
chiefly from the rise of the Neoplatonic and Pythagorean 
philosophies, which concurred in regarding the body, 
with its passions, as essentially evil, and in representing 
all virtue as a purification from its taint. Its most im- 
portant consequence was a somewhat stricter view of 
pre-nuptial unchastity, which in the case of men, and 
when it was not excessive, and did not take the form of 
adultery, had previously been uncensured, or was looked 
upon with a disapprobation so slight as scarcely to 
amount to censure. The elder Cato had expressly justi- 
fied it,^ and Cicero has left us an extremely curious 
judgment on the subject, which shows at a glance the feel- 
ings of the people, and the vast revolution that, under the 
influence of Christianity, has been effected in at least the 
professions of mankind. ' If there be any one,* he says, 

> 'Periniquum enim Tidetur ease, ut pudicitiam vir ab uzore exigat, 
quam ipse non exhibeat' — Cod, Just, Dig, xlviii. 6-13. 

' Quoted by St Augustbe; De Cof^, AduU, ii. 19. Flautus, long before, 
had made one of his characters complain of the injustice of the laws which 
punished unchaste wives but not unchaste husbands ; and he asks why, 
since eyerj honest woman is contented with one husband, should not every 
honest man be contented with one wife P (MercatoTf Act iv. Ecene 6.) 

« Horace, Sat. i. 2. 



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THE POSITION OF WOMEN. 888 

* who thinks that young men should be altogether re- 
strained from the love of courtesans, he is indeed very 
severe. I am not prepared to deny his position ; but he 
differs not only from the license of our age, but also from 
the customs and allowances of our ancestors. When, 
indeed, was this not done ? When was it blamed ? When 
was it not allowed ? When was that which is now law- 
ful not lawful ? ' ^ Epictetus, who on most subjects was 
among the most austere of the stoics, recommends his 
disciples to abstain, * as far as possible,' from prenup- 
tial connections, and at least from those which were 
adulterous and unlawful, but not to blame those who were 
less strict.^ The feehng of the Eomans is curiously exem- 
phfied in the life of Alexander Severus, who, of all the 
emperors, was probably the most energetic in legislating 
against vice. When appointing a provincial governor, 
he was accustomed to provide him with horses and 
servants, and, if he was unmarried, with a concubine, 
' because,' as the historian very gravely observes, * it was 
impossible that he could exist without one.' * 

What was written among the Pagans in opposition to 

* 'Veram si quis est qui etiam meretriciis amoribus interdictum juventuti 
putet, est ille quidem valde severus; negare non possum; sed abhorret 
non modo ab liujus 8»culi licentia^ verum etiam a majorum* consuetudine 
atque concessis. Qnando enim hoc factum non est P Quando reprehensum P 
Quando non permissum P Quando denique fuit ut quod licet non liceret P ' — 
Cicero, H'o Ccelio, cap. xx. The whole speech Lb well worthy of the atten- 
tion of those who would understand Roman feelings on these matters ; 
but it should be remembered that it is the speech of a lawyer defending a 
dissolute client. 

' Utpt d^pdpitriay f/c ivvaftiv irph yaftov KaSapivrkov, anrofiivi/t dfj &y voftifiop 
Iffu, fitraXfiirriov^ ftij fikv roi ixaxB^s yh>ov toiq ypwfiei'occ, fiij^i iXcyrrivot', 
Hi^^k TToWaxov r6f "On ahrd^ oif xPVi ^€Lpa<fnpi,^—Enchir, xxxiii. 

' ^ £t si uxores non haberent, singulas concubinas; quod sine his esse 
non possent' — Lampridius, A, Severus. We have an amusing picture of the 
common tone of people of the world on this matter, in the speech Apuleius 
puts into the mouth of the gods, remonstrating with Venus for being angry 
because her son formed a connection with Psyche. (Metanu lib. v.) 



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334 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

these views was not much, but it is worthy of notice, as 
illustrating the tendency that had arisen. Musonius Bufus 
distinctly and emphatically asserted that no union of 
the sexes other than marriage was permissible.^ Dion 
Chrysostom desired prostitution to be suppressed by 
law. The ascetic notion of the impurity even of 
marriage may be faintly traced. Apollonius of Tyana 
lived, on this ground, a life of celibacy.^ Zenobia re- 
fused to cohabit with her husband, except so far as was 
necessary for the production of an heir.* Hypatia is said, 
like many Christian saints, to have maintained the \m- 
natural position of a virgin wife.* The belief in the 
impurity of all corporeal things, and of the duty of rising 
above them, was in the third century strenuously enforced.^ 
Marcus Aurelius, and Julian were both admirable repre- 
sentatives of the best Pagan spirit of their time. Each 
of them lost his wife early, each was eulogised by his 
biographer for the virtue he manifested after her death ; 
but there is a curious and characteristic difference in 
the forms which that virtue assumed. Marcus Aurelius, 
we are told, did not wish to bring into his house a step- 
mother to rule over his children, and accordingly took a 
concubine.^ Julian ever after lived in perfect continence.^ 
The foregoing facts, which I have given in the most 
condensed form, and almost unaccompanied by criticism 
or by comment, will be sufficient, I hope, to exhibit the 

* Preserved by Stobaeus. See Denis, HU;t, de% Idiet morales dans TAt^ 
tiqnUSy tome ii. pp. 134-136, 149-150. 

» Philos. ApoL i. 13. When a saying of Pythagoras, ' that a man should 
only have commerce with his own wife/ was quoted, he said that this 
concerned others. 

» Trebellius Pollio, Zenobia. 

^ This is asserted by an anonymous writer quoted by Suidas. See Manage, 
Hist, MuUerum Philosopharum, p. 58. 

* See, e.g., Plotinus, 1st Eun. vL 6. • Capitolinus, M, Awelm$. 
' Amm. MarcelL xxv. 4. 



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THE POSITION OF WOMEN. 835 

state of feeling of the Eomans on this subject, and also 
the direction in which that feeling was being modified. 
Those who are familiar with this order of studies will 
readily understand that it is impossible to mark out 
with precision the chronology of a moral sentiment ; but 
there can be no question that in the latter days of the 
Koman Empire the perceptions of men on this subject 
became more subtle and more refined than they had 
previously been, and it is equally certain that the Oriental 
philosophies which had superseded stoicism, largely in- 
fluenced the change. Christianity soon constituted itself 
the representative of the new tendency. It regarded 
purity as the most important of all virtues, and it strained 
to the utmost all the vast agencies it possessed, to enforce 
it. In the legislation of tJie first Christian emperors we 
find many traces of a fiery zeal. Pandars were con- 
demned to have molten lead poured down their throats. 
In the case of rape, not only the ravisher, but even the 
injured person, if she consented to the act, was put to 
death.^ A great service was done to the cause both of 
purity and of philanthropy, by a law which permitted 
actresses, on receiving baptism, to abandon their profes- 
sion, which had been made a form of slavery, and was 
virtually a slavery to vice.^ Certain musical girls, who 
were accustomed to sing or play at the banquets of the 
rich, and who were regarded with extreme horror by the 
Fathers, were suppressed, and a very stringent law forbade 
the revival of the class.^ 



» Cod, Theod. lib. ix. tit 24. « Cod. Theod. lib. xv. tit 7. 

* * Hdidnam nulli liceat vel emere vel docere vel rendere, vel conviviis 
aut spectaculis adhibere. Nee cuiquam aut delectationis desiderio eruditA 
feminea aut musicsd artis studio liceat habere maucipia.' — Cod, Theod, xv. 7, 
10. This curious law was issued in a.d. 385. St Jerome said these musicians 
were the chorus of the devil; and quite a3 dangerous as the sirens. See 
the comments on the law. 



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336 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

Side by side with the civil legislation, the penitential 
legislation of the Church was exerted in the same direc- 
tion. Sins of unchastity probably occupy a larger place 
than any other in its enactments. The cases of unna- 
tural love, and of mothers who had made their daughters 
courtesans, were punished by perpetual exclusion fix>m 
communion, and a crowd of minor offences were severely 
visited. The ascetic passion increased the prominence 
of this branch of ethics, and the imaginations of men 
were soon fascinated by the pure and noble figures of 
the virgin martyrs of the Church, who, in the hour 
of martyrdom, on more than one occasion fiilly equalled 
the courage of men, while they sometimes mingled 
with their heroism traits of the most exquisite feminine 
gentleness. For the patient endurance of excruciating 
physical suffering, Christianity produced no more sublime 
figure than Blandina, the poor servant-girl who was 
martyred at Lyons ; and it would be diflScult to find in all 
history a more touching picture of natural purity than is 
contained in one simple incident of the martyrdom of 
St. Perpetua. It is related of that saint that she was 
condemned to be slaughtered by a wild bull, and as she 
fell half dead from its horns upon the sand of the arena, 
it was observed that even in that awfiil moment her 
virgin modesty was supreme, and her first instinctive 
movement was to draw together her dress, which had 
been torn in the assault.^ 

* Ruinart, Act, S. Perpetwi, These acts are, I believe, generally re- 
garded as authentic There is nothing more instructiye in history than 
to trace the same moral feelings through different ages and religions; 
and I am able in this case to present the reader with an illustration of their 
permanence, which I think somewhat remarkable. The younger Pliny gives 
in one of his letters a most dreadful account of the execution of Cornelia, 
a vestal virgin, by the order of Domitian. She was buried alive for incest; 
but her innocence appears to have been generally believed ; and she had been 
condemned unheard, and in her absence. As she was being lowered into 



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THE POSITION OF WOMEN. 337 

A crowd of very curious popular legends also arose, 
which, though they are for the most part without much 
intrinsic excellence, have their importance in history, as 
showing the force with which the imaginations of men 
were turned in this direction, and the manner in which 
Christianity was regarded as the great enemy of the 
passions of the flesh. Thus, St. Jerome relates an in- 
credible story of a young Christian being, in the Diocle- 
tian persecution, bound with ribands of silk in the 
midst of a lovely garden, surrounded by everything 
that could charm the ear and the eye, while a beau- 
tiful courtesan assailed him with her blandishments, 
against which he protected himself by biting out his 
tongue and spitting it in her face.^ Legends are 
recounted of young Christian men assuming the garb 
and manners of libertines, that they might obtain 
access to maidens who had been condemned to vice, 
exchanging dresses with them, and thus enabling them 
to escape.* St. Agnes was said to have been stripped 
naked before the people, who all turned away their 

the subterranean cell her dress was caught and deranged in the descent. 
She turned round and drew it to her, and when the executioner stretched 
out his hand to assist her, she started back lest he should touch her, for this, 
according to the received opinion, was a pollution ; and even in the supreme 
moment of her agony her vestal purity shrank from the unholy contact. 
(Plin. Ep, iv. 11.) If we now pass back several centuries, we find £uri-> 
pidea attributing to Polyxena a trait precisely similar to that which v^aa 
attributed to Perpetua. As she fell beneath the sword of the executioner, 
it was observed that her last care was that she might fall with decency. 

r; 8i Kai BviiaKova Ofiwg 
iroWrjv vp6votav dx^v (vaxVf^^Q TreoitVj 
Kpvnrava & Kpvirrnv oftfiar* apaivntv xP**^v, 

Euripides, Hec. 566-68. 
1 ntaFtiuU. 

* St Ambrose relates an instance of this, which he says occurred at An- 
tioch {De VtrgmtbuSj lib. ii. cap. iv.). When the Christian youth was 
being led to execution, the girl whom he had saved reappeared and died 
with him. Eusebius tells a very similar story, but places the scene at 
Alexandria. 

VOL, II. Z 

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888 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS, 

eyes except one young man, who was instantly turned 
blind.^ The sister of St. Gregory of Nyssa was afflicted 
with a cancer in her breast, but could not bear thai 
a surgeon should see it, and was rewarded for her 
modesty by a miraculous cure.^ To the fabled zone of 
beauty the Christian saints opposed their zones of chastity, 
which extinguished the passion of the wearer, or would 
only meet around the pure.* Daemons were said not un- 
frequently to have entered into the profligate. The gar- 
ment of a girl who was possessed was brought to St. 
Pachomius, and he discovered from it that she had a lover.* 
A courtesan accused St. Gregory Thaumaturgus of having 
been her lover, and having refused to pay her what he 
had promised. He paid the required sum, but she was 
immediately possessed by a daemon.^ The efforts of the 
saints to reclaim courtesans from the path of vice created 
a large class of legends. St. Mary Magdalene, St Mary 
of Egypt, St. Afra, St. Pelagia, St. Thais, and St Theodota, 
in the early Church, as well as St. Marguerite of Cortona, 
and Clara of Eimini, in the middle ages, had been cour- 
tesans.^ St. Vitalius was said to have been accustomed 
every night to visit the dens of vice in his neighboiu-hood, 
to give the inmates money to remain without sin for that 

1 See Ceillier, Hist, dea Auteura eccU$. tome iii. p. 523. 
« Ibid, tome viii. pp. 204-207. 

* Among the Irish saints St Colman is said to have had a girdle which 
would only meet around the chaste, and was long preserved in Ireland as a 
relic (Colgan, Acta Scmctorum Hibemic. (Louvain, 1646), vol. L p. 246)^ 
and St. FurssBus a girdle that extinguished lust (Ibid. p. 292.) The 
girdle of St Thomas Aquinas seems to have had some miraculous pro- 
perties of this kind. (See his life in the Bollandists, Sept 29.) Among 
both the Greeks and Romans it was customary for the bride to be girt 
with a girdle which the bridegroom iinloosed in the nuptial bed^ and hence 
' zonam solvere ' became a proverbial expression for ' pudicitiam mulieris 
imminuere.' (Nieupoort, De Ritibus Romanarum, p. 479; Alexander's 
History of Womenj vol. ii. p. 300.) 

* Vit, St Pachom. (Rosweyde). * See his Life, by Gregory of Nyssa. 

* A little book has been written on these legends by M. Charles de 



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THE POSITION OF WOMEN. 889 

night, and to offer up prayers for their cx)nversion,^ It is 
related of St Serapion, that as he was passing through 
a village in Egypt a courtesan beckoned to him. He 
promised at a certain hour to visit her. He kept his 
appointment, but declared that there was a duty which 
his order imposed on him. He fell down on his knees 
and began reputing the Psalter, concluding every psalm 
with a prayer for his hostess. The strangeness of the 
scene, and the solemnity of his tone and manner, overawed 
and fascinated her. Gradually her tears began to flow. 
She knelt beside him and began to join in his prayers. 
He heeded her not, but hour after hour continued in 
the same stem and solemn voice, without rest and with- 
out interruption, to repeat his alternate prayers and psalms, 
till her repentance rose to a paroxysm of terror, and as 
the grey morning streaks began to illumine the horizon, 
she fell half dead at his feet, imploring him with broken 
sobs to lead her anywhere where she might expiate the 
sins of her past.* 

But the services rendered by the ascetics in imprinting 
on the minds of men a profound and enduring conviction 
of the importance of chastity, though extremely great, 
were seriously counterbalanced by their noxious influence 
upon marriage. Two or three beautiful descriptions of 
this institution have been culled out of the immense 
mass of the patristic writings;* but in general, it would be 

Bossy, called Le$ Caurtisanes samtes. There b said to be some doubt about 
St. Afra, for while her acts represent her as a reformed courtesan; St Fortu- 
natus; in two lines he has deyoted to her^ calls her a virgin. (Ozanam^ 
£tude8 german, tome ii. p. 8.) 

* See the Vit, Sancti Joatmis Eleemosynarii (Rosweyde). 

^ Tillemonty tome x. pp. 61-62. There is also a very picturesque legend 
of the manner in which St. Paphnutius converted the courtesan Thais. 

* See especially, Tertullian, Ad Uxorenu It was beautifully said at a 
later period, that woman was not taken from the head of man, for she was 
not intended to be hb jruler, nor from his feet, for she was not intended 

z2 

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840 HISTOKY OF EUKOPEAN MORALS. 

diflScnlt to conceive anything more coarse or more repul- 
sive than the manner in which they regarded it.^ The 
relation which nature has designed for the noble purpose 
of repairing the ravages of death, and which, as Linnaeus 
has shown, extends even through the world of flowers, 
was invariably treated as a consequence of the fidl of 
Adam, and marriage was regarded almost exclusively in 
its lowest aspect. The tender love which it elicits, the 
holy and beautiful domestic qualities that follow in its 
train, were almost absolutely omitted from consideration.* 
The object of the ascetic was to attract men to a life of 
virginity, and as a necessary consequence, marriage was 
treated as an inferior state. It was regarded as being 
necessary, indeed, and therefore justifiable, for the propa- 
gation of the species, and to free men from greater evils ; 
but still as a condition of degradation from which all 
who aspired to real sanctity could fly. To ' cut down by 
the axe of Virginity the wood of Marriage,* was, in the 
energetic language .of St. Jerome, the end of the saint ;• 
and if he consented to praise marriage, it was merely 
because it produced virgins.* Even when the bond had 
been formed, the ascetic passion retained its sting. We 

to be his slaye^ but from bis side, for sbe was to be bis compamon and bis 
comfort. (Peter Lombard, Senten, lib. ii. dis. 18.) 

* Tbe reader may find many passages on tbis subject in Barbeyrac, Monde 
des nres, ii. § 7; iii. § 8 ; iv. § 81-55; vi. § 31 ; xiii. § 2-8. 

* < It is remarkable bow rarely, if ever (I cannot call to mind an 
instance), in tbe discussions of tbe comparative merits of marriage and 
celibacy tbe social advantages appear to bave occurred to tbe mind. ... It 
is always argued witb relation to tbe interests and tbe perfection of tbe indi- 
vidual soul ; and even witb regard to tbat, tbe writers seem almost unccm- 
scions of tbe softening and bumanising effect of tbe natural affections, tbe 
beauty of parental tenderness and filial love.*— Milman*s Hid, of ChrMtmity, 
vol. iii. p. 196. 

* f Tempus breve est, et jam securis ad radices arborum podta est, quiQ 
fiilvam legis et nuptiarum evangelica castitate sucddat.' — J^, cxziii. 

* *Laudo nuptias, laudo conjugium, sed quia mibi virgines generant* — 
J^p, xxii. 



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THE POSITIOX OF WOMEN. S41 

have- already seen how it embittered other relations of 
domestic life. Into this, the hohest of all, it infused a 
tenfold bitterness. Whenever any strong religions fer\four 
fell upon a husband or a wife, its first effect was to make 
a happy union impossible. The more religious partner 
immediately desired to live a life of solitary asceticism, 
or at least, if no ostensible separation took place, an un- 
natural hfe of separation in marriage. The immense 
place this order of ideas occupies in the hortatory 
writings of the fathers, and in the l^ends of the saints, 
must be familiar to all who have any knowledge of this 
department of literature. Thus — to give but a very few 
examples — St. Nilus, when he had already two children, 
was seized with a longing for the prevailing asceticism, 
and his wife was persuaded, after many tears, to consent 
to their separation.^ St. Ammon, on the night of his 
marriage, proceeded to greet his bride with an harangue 
upon the evils of the married state, and they agreed, in 
consequence, at once to separate.* St. Melania laboured 
long and earnestly to induce her husband to allow her to 
desert his bed, before he would consent.* St. Abraham 
ran away from his wife on the night of his marriage.* 
St. Alexis, according to a somewhat later legend, took 
the same step, but many years after returned from 
Jerusalem to his father's house, in which his wife was 
still lamenting her desertion, begged and received a 
lodging as an act of charity, and lived there despised, 
unrecognised, and unknown till his death.* St. Gregory 

* See Ceillier, Autews eceUs, xiii. p. 147. * Socrates, iv. 23. 

' Palladius, Hist, Lous. cxix. * VU, 8, Abr, (Rosweyde), cap. i. 

^ I do not know when this legend first appeared. I know it from two 
sources. M. Littr^ mentions having found it in a French MS. of the 
eleventh century (Littr^, Les BarhareSy pp. 123-124) ; and it also forms 
the Buhject of a very curious fresco, I imagine of a somewhat eailier date, 
which was discovered^ within the last few years, in the subterranean church 



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342 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

of Nyssa-r-who was so unfortunate as to be married — 
wrote a glowing eulogy of virginity, in the course of 
Avhich he mournfully observed, that this privileged state 
could never be his. He resembled, he assures us, an ox 
that was ploughing a field, the fruit of which he must 
never enjoy ; or a thirsty man, who was gazing on a stream 
of which he never can drink ; or a poor man, whose 
poverty seems the more bitter as he contemplates the 
wealth of his neighbours ; and he proceeded to descant 
in feeUng terms upon the troubles of matrimony.^ 
Nominal marriages, in which the partners agreed to shun 
the marriage bed, became not uncommon. The empe- 
ror Henry H., Edward the Confessor, of England, and 
Alphonso n. of Spain, gave examples of it. A very 
famous and rather picturesque history of this kind is 
related by Gregory of Tours. A rich young Gaul, named 
Injuriosus, led to his home a young bride to whom he 
was passionately attached. That night, she confessed to 
him with tears, that she had vowed to keep her virginity, 
and that she regretted bitterly the marriage into which 
her love for him had betrayed her. He told her that 
they should remain united, but that she should still ob- 
serve her vow ; and he fulfilled his promise. When, after 
several years, she died, her husband, in laying her in the 
tomb, declared with great solemnity, that he restored 
her to God as immaculate as he had received her; and 
then a smile lit up the face of the dead woman, and she 
said, ' Why do you tell that which no one asked you ? ' 
The husband soon afterwards died, and a wall, which had 
been built to separate his tomb from that of his wife, was 
removed by the angels.* 

of St Clement at Rome. An account of it is given by Father Mnlloolj, 
in his interesting little book about the Church. 

* De Virgin, cap. iii. « Greg. Tur. L 42. 



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THE POSITION OF WOMEN. 843 

The extreme disorders which such teaching produced 
in domestic life, and also the extravagancies which grew 
up among some heretics, naturally alarmed the more judi- 
cious leaders of the Church, and it was ordained that 
married persons should not enter into an ascetic life, 
except by mutual consent.^ The ascetic ideal, however, 
remained unchanged. To abstain from marriage, or in 
marriage to abstain from a perfect union, was regarded 
as a proof of sanctity, and marriage was viewed in its 
coarsest and most degraded form. The notion of its im- 
purity took many forms, and exercised for some centuries 
an extremely wide influence over the Church. Thus, it 
was the custom during the middle ages to abstain from 
the marriage bed during the night after the ceremony, in 
honour of the sacrament.^ It was expressly enjoined that 
no married persons should participate in any of the great 
Church festivals, if the night before they had lain together, 
and St. Gregory the Great tells of a young wife who was 
possessed by a daemon, because she had taken part in a 
procession of St. Sebastian, without fulfilling this condi- 
tion.^ The extent to which the feeling on the 3ubject was 
carried is shown by the famous vision of Alberic in the 
twelfth century, in which a special place of torture, con- 
sisting of a lake of mingled lead, pitch, and resin is repre- 
sented as existing in hell for the punishment of married 
people who had lain together on Church festivals or fast 
days.* 

Two other consequences of this way of regarding 
marriage were a very strong disapproval of second mar- 
riages, and a very strong desire to secure celibacy in the 
clergy. The first of these notions had existed, though in 

^ The regulaticHiB on.tliis point are given at length in Bingham. 
> Muratoriy Antich. Ital. diss. xx. < St Qreg. IHaL i. 10. 

* Delepierre, VEnfer dScrUpar ceux qui tont w, pp. 44-66. 



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844 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

a very different form, and connected with very different 
motives, among the early Eomans, who were accustomed, 
we are told, to honour with the crown of modesty those 
who were content with one marriage, and to regard many 
marriages as a sign of illegitimate intemperance.* This 
opinion appears to have chiefly grown out of a very deli- 
cate and touching feeling which had taken deep root in 
the Roman mind, that the affection a wife owes her 
husband is so profound and so pure, that it must not 
cease even with his death ; that it should guide and con- 
secrate all her subsequent life, and that it never can be 
transferred to another object. Virgil, in very beautiful 
lines, puts this sentiment into the mouth of Dido ; ^ and 
several examples are recorded of Eoman wives, sometimes 
in the prime of youth and beauty, upon the deadi of their 
husbands, devoting the remainder of their lives to retire- 
ment, and to the memory of the dead.^ Tacitus held up 
the Germans as in this respect a model to his countrymen,* 
and the epithet 'univirce' inscribed on many Roman tombs 
shows how this devotion was practised and valued.* The 
family of Camillus was especially honoured for the absence 
of second marriages among its members.* 'To love a 
wife when Uving,' said one of the latest of Roman poets, 
' is a pleasure ; to love her when dead is an act of reli- 
gion.' ^ In the case of men, the propriety of abstaining 
from second marriages was probably not felt as strongly 
as in the case of women, and what feeling on the subject 
existed was chiefly due to another motive — affection for 

» Val Max. ii. 1. § 3. 

< < nie meos; primus qui me sibi junxit, amores 

Abstulit; ille habeat secum, servetque sepulchre.' — jEh, ir. 28. 
» Kg., the wives of Lucan, Drusus, and Pompej. 

* Tacit German, xix. 

* Friedlander, tome i. p. 411. « Hierou. Ep, liv. 
' ' Uxorem vivam amare yoluptas ; 

Defunctam religio.' — Statius, Sylv. v. in proodmio. 



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THE POSITION OF WOMEN. B45 

the children, whose interests it was thought might be 
injured by a stepmother.^ 

The sentiment which thus recoiled from second mar- 
riages passed with a vastly increased strength into ascetic 
Christianity, but it was based upon altogether different 
grounds. The first change, we may observe, is that an 
affectionate remembrance of the husband has altogether 
vanished from the motives of the abstinence. In the next 
place, we may remark that these writers, in perfect con- 
formity with the extreme coarseness of their views about 
the sexes, almost invariably assumed that the motive to 
second or third marriages must be simply the force of 
the animal passions. The Montanists and the Novatians 
absolutely condemned second marriages.* The orthodox 
pronounced them lawful, on account of the weakness of 
human nature, but they viewed them with the most em- 
phatic disapproval,^ partly because they considered them 
manifest signs of incontinence, and partly because they 
regarded them as incompatible with the doctrine of mar- 
riage being an emblem of the union of Christ with the 
Church. The language of the Fathers on this subject 
appears to a modern mind most extraordinary, and, but 
for their distinct and reiterated assertion that they con- 
sidered th^e marriages permissible,^ would appear to 

^ By one of the laws of Charondaa it was orduned that those who 
cared so little for the happiness of their children as to place a stepmother 
over them, should be excluded from the councils of the State. (Diod. Sic 
xii. 12.) 

' Tertullian expounded the Montanist Tiew in his treatise, De Monoganiia, 

' A full collection of the statements of the Fathers on this subject is 
given by Perrone, De Afatrimonio, lib. iii. Ssec. I. ; and by Natalia Alexander, 
Hid. EcoUb, S«c. II. dissert. 18. 

^ Thus, to g^ve but a single instance, St. Jerome, who was one of their 
strongest opponents, says : ' Quid igitur ? damnamus secunda matrimonia P 
Minime, sed prima laudamus. Abjicimus de ecclesia digamos? absit; sed 
monogamos ad continentiam provocamus. In area Noe non solum munda 
sed et iramunda fnerunt aQiraalia.* — Ep, cxxiii. 



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846 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

amount to a peremptory condemnation. Thus — ^to give 
but a few samples— digamy, or second marriage, is de- 
scribed by Athanagoras as ' a decent adultery ; ' ^ ' fornica- 
tion,' according to Clement of Alexandria, 'is a lapse 
from one marriage into many.'* 'The first Adam,' said 
St. Jerome, ' had one wife ; the second Adam had no 
wife. They who approve of digamy hold forth a third 
Adam, who was twice married, whom they follow.'* 
' Consider,' he again says, ' that she who has been twice 
married, though she be an old, and decrepit, and poor 
woman, is not deemed worthy to receive the charity of the 
Church. But if the bread of charity is taken from her, 
how much more that bread which descends from heaven !' * 
Digamists, according to Origen, ' are saved in the name 
of Christ, but are by no means crowned by him.' * ' By 
this text,' said St. Gregory Nazianzen, speaking of St. 
Paul's comparison of mairiage to the union of Christ with 
the Church, ' second marriages seem to me to be re- 
proved. If there are two Christs there may be two 
husbands or two wives. If there is but one Christ, one 
Head of the Church, there is but one flesh — a second is 
repelled. But if he forbids a second, what is to be said 
of third marriages ? The first is law, the second is pardon 
and indulgence, the third is iniquity ; but he who exceeds 
this number is manifestly bestial.'* The collective judg- 
ment of the ecclesiastical authorities on this subject is 
shown by the rigid exclusion of digamists from the priest- 
hood, and from all daim to the charity of the Church, and 
by the decrees of more than one Council, which ordained 
that a period of penance should be imposed upon all 
who married a second time, before they were admitted to 

* In Legat, * Strom, lib. iii. 

' Contra Jovin, i. ^ Ibid. See, too^ ^« czxiiL 

* Horn. xyii. in Luc • Orat, xxxi. 



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THE POSITION OF WOMEN. 847 

communion.^ One of the canons of the Council of Dliberis, 
in the beginning of the fourth century, while in general 
condemning baptism by laymen, permitted it in case of 
extreme necessity; but provided that even then it was 
indispensable that the officiating layman should not have 
been twice married.* Among the Greeks fourth mar- 
riages were at one time deemed absolutely unlawful, and 
much controversy was excited by the emperor Leo the 
Wise, who, having had three wives, had taken a mistress, 
but afterwards, in defiance of the religious feelings of 
his people, determined to raise her to the position of a 
wife.* 

The subject of the celibacy of the clergy, in which the 
ecclesiastical feehngs about marriage were also shown, is 
an extremely large one, and I shall not attempt to deal 
with it, except in a most cursory manner.* There are 
two facts connected with it, which every candid student 
must admit. The first is, that in the earliest period 
of the Church, the privilege of marriage was freely 
accorded to the clergy. The second is, that a notion of 
the impurity of marriage existed, and it was felt that the 
clergy, as pre-eminently the holy class, should have less 
license than laymen. The first form this feeling took 

* See oa this decree, Perrone, De Matr, iii. § 1, art 1 ; Natalia Alex- 
ander; Hid. Eccles, § ii. dissert. 18. The penances are said not to. imply 
that the second manriage was a sin, but that the moral condition that made 
it necessary was a bad one. 

* Cone. mib. can. xxxTiii. Bingham thinks the feeling of the Council 
to have been, that if baptism was not administered by a priest, it should at 
all events be administered by one who might have been a priest. 

' Perrone, De Mairimomo, tome iii. p. 102. 

* This subject has recently been treated with very great learning and with 
admirable impartiality by an American author, Mr. Heniy C. Lea, In his 
History of Sacerdotal Celibacy (Philadelphia, 1867), which is certainly one 
of the most valuable works that America has produced. Since the great 
history of Dean Milman, I know no work in English which has thrown 
more light on the moral condition of the middle ages, and none which is 



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348 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

appears to have been the strong conviction that a second 
marriage of a priest, or the marriage of a priest with a 
widow, was unlawful and criminal.^ This beUef seems 
to have existed from the earliest period of the Church, 
and was retained with great tenacity and unanimity 
through many centuries. In the next place, we find, from 
an extremely early date, an opinion prevailing first of all, 
that it was an act of virtue, and then that it was an act of 
duty, for priests after ordination to abstain from cohabiting 
with their wives. The Council of Nice refrained, at the 
advice of Paphnutius, who was himself a scrupulous celi- 
bate, from imposing this last rule as a matter of necessity;* 
but in the course of the fourth century it was a recognised 
principle that clerical marriages were criminal. They 
were celebrated, however, habitually, and usually with 
the greatest openness. The various attitudes assumed by 
the ecclesiastical authorities in dealing with this subject 
form an extremely curious page of the history of morak, 
and supply the most crushing evidence of the evils which 
have been produced by the system of cdibacy. I can at 
present, however, only refer to the vast mass of evidence 
which has been collected on the subject, derived from the 

more fitted to dispel the gross illusions concerning that period which 
Positive writers, and writers of a certain ecclesiastical school, have conspired 
to sustain. 

^ See Lea, p. 36. The command of St. Paul, that a bishop or deacon 
should be the husband of one wife (1 Tim. iii. 2-12) was believed by all 
ancient and by many modem commentators to be prohibitory of second 
marriages ; and this view is somewhat confirmed by the widows who were 
to be honoured and supported by the Church, being only those who had 
but once married (1 Tim. v. 9). See Pressens^, Hid, de$ irois premiers 
Sihcles (1'* s^rie), tome ii. p. 233. Among the Jews it was ordained that 
the high priest should not marry a widow. (Licvit. xxi. 13-14.) 

* Socrates, H, E, i. 11. The Council of Illiberis (can. xxziii.) had or- 
dained this, but both the precepts and the practice of divines varied greatly. 
A briUiant summary of the chief facts is given in Milman's History of 
Early Chridiamty, vol iii. pp. 277-282. 



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THE POSITION OF WOMEN. S4fif 

writings of Catholic divines and from the decrees of Catho- 
he Councils during the space of many centuries. It is a 
popular illusion, which is especially common among writers 
who have Uttle direct knowledge of the middle ages, that 
the atrocious immorality of monasteries, in the century be- 
fore the Keformation, was a new fact, and that the ages 
when the faith of men was imdisturbed, were ages of great 
moral purity. In fact, it appears from the uniform tes- 
timony of the ecclesiastical writers, that the ecclesiastical 
immoraUty of the eighth and three following centuries was 
little if at all less outrageous than in any other period, while 
the Papacy, during almost the whole of the tenth century, 
was held by men of infiimous Uves. Simony was nearly 
universal.^ Barbarian chieftains married at an early age, 
and, totally incapable of restraint, occupied the leading 
positions in the Church, and gross irregularities speedily 
became general. An Itahan bishop of the tenth century 
epigrammatically described the morals of his time, when he 
declared, that if he were to enforce the canons against 
imchaste people administering ecclesiastical rites, no one 
would be left in the Church except the boys ; and if he 
were to observe the canons against bastards, these also 
mxist be excluded.* The evil acquired such magnitude, 
that a great feudal clergy, bequeathing the ecclesiastical 
benefices from father to son, appeared more than once 
Ukely to arise.^ A tax called 'CuUagium,' which was 
in fact a license to clergymen to keep concubines, was 
during several centuries systematically levied by princes.* 



^ See, on the state of things in the tenth and eleventh centuiy^ Lea, pp. 
162-192. 

* Ratherius, quoted by Lea, p. 151. 

' See some curious evidence of the extent to which the practice of the 
hereditary transmission of ecclesiastical offices was carried, in Lea, pp. 149, 
150, 266, 299, 889. 

* Lea, pp. 271, 292, 422. 



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860 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MOliALS. 

Sometimes the evil, by its very extension, corrected itself. 
Priestly marriages were looked upon as normal events not 
implying any guilt, and in the eleventh century several 
instances are recorded in which the fact was not r^arded 
as any impediment to the power of working miracles.^ 
But this was a rare exception. From the earliest period 
a long succession of Councils as well as such men as St. 
Boniface, St. Gregory the Great, St. Peter Damiani, St. 
Dunstan, St. Anselm, Hildebrand, and his successors in the 
Popedom, denounced priestly marriage or concubinage as 
an atrocious crime, and the habitual life of the priesta 
was, in theory at least, generally recognised as a life 
of sin. 

It was not surprising that, having once broken their 
vows and begun to live what they deemed a life of habi- 
tual sin, the clergy should soon have sunk far below the 
level of the laity. We may not lay much stress on such 
isolated instances of depravity as that of Pope John 
XXin., who was condemned for incest, among many 
other crimes, and for adultery ;^ or the abbot-elect of St. 
Augustine, at Canterbury, who in 1171 was found, on in- 
vestigation, to have seventeen illegitimate children in a 
single village ;^ or an abbot of St. Pelayo, in Spain, who 
in 1130 was proved to have kept no less than seventy 
concubines ; * or Henry in. Bishop of Li^ge, who was 
deposed in 1274 for having sixty-five illegitimate chil- 
dren ; * but it is impossible to resist the evidence of a 
long chain of Councils and ecclesiastical writers, who con- 
spire in depicting far greater evils than simple concu- 
binage. It was observed, that when the priests actually 
took wives, the knowledge that these connections were 
illegal was peculiarly fatal to their fidelity, and bigamy 

1 Lea, pp. 186-187. « Ibid. p. 358. » Ibid. p. 296, 

4 Ibid. p. 322. * Ibid. p. 349. 

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THE POSITION OF WOMEN. 361 

and extreme mobility of attachments were especially 
common among them. The writers of the middle ages 
are full of accounts of nunneries that were like brothels, 
of the vast multitude of infanticides within their walls, 
and of that inveterate prevalence of incest among the 
clergy, which rendered it necessary again and again to 
issue the most stringent enactments that priests should 
not be permitted to live with their mothers or sisters. 
Unnatural love, which it had been one of the great ser- 
vices of Christianity almost to eradicate from the world, 
is more than once spoken of as lingering in the monas- 
teries; and shortly before the Eeformation, complaints 
became loud and frequent of the employment of the con- 
fessional for the purposes of debauchery.^ The measures 
taken on the subject were very numerous and severe. At 
first, the evil chiefly complained of was the clandestine 
marriage of priests, and especially their intercourse with 
wives they had married previous to their ordination ; and 
several Councils issued their anathemas against priests 
' who had improper relations with their wives ;' and rules 
were made that priests should always sleep in the pre- 
sence of a subordinate clerk ; and that they should only 
meet their wives in the open air and before at least two 
witnesses. Men were, however, by no means unanimous 
in their way of regarding this matter. Synesius, when 
elected to a bishopric, had at first declined, boldly ally- 
ing as one of his reasons, that he had a wife whom he 
loved dearly, and who, he hoped, would bear him many 
sons, and that he did not mean to separate from her or 
visit her secretly as an adulterer.^ A bishop of Laon, at 
a later date, who was married to a niece of St. E^my, 

^ The reader may find the most ample evidence of these positions in Lea. 
See especially pp. 138, 141, 163, 165, 260, 344. 
'* Synesius, Ep. cv. 



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352 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

and who had remained with his wife till after he had 
a son and a daughter, quaintly expressed his penitence 
by naming them respectively Latro and Vulpecula,^ 
St. Gregory the Great describes the virtue of a priest^ 
who, through motives of piety, had discarded his 
wife. As he lay djring, she hastened to him to watch 
the bed which for forty years she had not been allowed 
to share, and bending over what seemed the inanimate 
form of her husband, she tried to ascertain whether 
any breath still remained, when the dying saint, col- 
lecting his last energies, exclaimed, * Woman, begone ; 
take away the straw ; there is fire yet.' ^ The destruc- 
tion of priestly marriage is chiefly due to Hildebrand, 
who pursued this object with the most untiring reso- 
lution. Finding that his appeals to the ecclesiastical 
authorities and to the civil rulers were insufficient, he 
boldly turned to the people, exhorted them, in defiance 
of all Church traditions, to withdraw their obedience from 
married priests, and kindled among them a fierce fana- 
ticism of asceticism, which speedily produced a fierce 
persecution of the offending pastors. Their wives, in 
immense numbers, were driven forth with hatred and 
with scorn, and many crimes, and much intolerable suf- 
fering, followed the disruption. The priests sometimes 
strenuously resisted. At Cambrai, in a.d. 1077, they 
burnt alive as a heretic a zealot who was maintaining 
the doctrines of Hildebrand. In England, half a century 
later, they succeeded in surprising a Papal legate in the 
arms of a courtesan, a few hours after he had delivered a 
fierce denunciation of clerical unchastity.* But Papal 

^ Lea, p. 122. St. Augustine had named his illegitimate son Adeodatus, 
or the Gift of God, and had made him a principal interlocutor in one of his 
religious dialogues. * Diaiog. iy. 11. 

* This is mentioned by Henry of Huntingdon^ who was a contemporazyfr 
(Lea, p. 293.) 



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THE POSITION OF WOMEN. 363 

resolution supported by popular fanaticism won the vic- 
tory. Pope Urban IL gave license to the nobles to 
reduce to slavery the wives of priests who obstinately 
refused to abandon them, and after a few more acts of 
severity priestly marriage became obsolete. The extent, 
however, of the disorders that still existed, is shown by 
the mournful confessions of ecclesiastical writers, by the 
uniform and indignant testimony of the poets and prose 
satirists who preceded the Eeformation, by the atrocious 
immorahties disclosed in the monasteries at the time of 
their suppression, and by the significant prudence of many 
lay Catholics, who were accustomed to insist that their 
priest should take a concubine for the protection of the 
families of his parishioners.^ 

It is scarcely possible to conceive a more demoralising 
influence than a priesthood living such a life as I have de- 
scribed. In Protestant countries, where the marriage of 
the clergy is fully recognised, it has, indeed, been pro- 
ductive of the greatest and the most unequivocal benefits. 
Nowhere, it may be confidently asserted, does Christianity 

^ The first notice of this yerj remarkable precaution is in a canon of 
the Council of Palencia (in Spain) held in 1322^ which anathematises lay- 
men who compel their pastors to take concubines. (Lea, p. 324) Sleidan 
mentions that it was customary in some of the Swiss cantons for the pa- 
rishioners to oblige the priest to select a concubine as a necessary precau- 
tion for the protection of his female parishioners. (Ibid. p. 355.) Sarpi, 
in his Hid. ofihe CouncU of Trent j mentions (on the authority of Zuinglius) 
this Swiss custom. Nicolas de Clemangis^ a leading member of the Coun- 
cil of Constance, declared that this custom had become yery common, that 
the laity were now firmly persuaded that priests never lived a life of real 
celibacy, and that, where no proofs of concubinage were found, they always 
assumed the existence of more serious vice. The passage (which had been 
quoted by Bayle) is too remarkable to be omitted. 'Taceo de fomica- 
tionibus et adulteriis a quibus qui alieni sunt probro c»teris ac ludibrio esse 
Bolent, spadonesque aut sodomites appellantur; denique laid usque adeo 
persuasum habent nullos cselibes esse, ut in plerisque parochiis non aliter 
yelint presbyterum tolerare nisi concubinam habeat, quo yel sic suis sit 
consultum uxoribus, qute nee sic quidem usquequaque sunt extra periculum.' 
Nic. de Clem. De Ptasul, Simoniac, (Lea, p. 386.) 

VOL. IL A A 



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364 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

assume a more beneficial or a more winning form, than in 
those gende clerical households which stud our land, con- 
stituting, as Coleridge said, ' the one idyll of modem life,* 
the most perfect type of domestic peace, and the centres of 
civihsation in the remotest village. Notwithstanding some 
class narrowness and professional bigotry, notwithstand- 
ing some unworthy, but half unconscious manneiism, 
which is often most unjustly stigmatised as hypocrisy, it 
would be difficult to find in any other quarter so much 
happiness at once difiused and enjoyed, or so much 
virtue attained with so Uttle tension or struggle. Com- 
bining with his sacred calling a warm sympathy with the 
intellectual, social, and pohtical movements of his time, 
possessing the enlarged practical knowledge of a &ther 
of a family, and entering with a keen zest into the occu- 
pations and the amusements of his parishioners, a good 
clergyman will rarely obtrude his reUgious convictions 
into secular spheres, but yet will make them apparent in 
all. They will be revealed by a higher and deeper moral 
tone, by a more scrupulous purity in word and action, 
by an all-pervasive gentleness, which refines, and softens, 
and mellows, and adds as much to the charm as to the 
excellence of the character in which it is displayed. In 
visiting the sick, relieving the poor, instructing the young, 
and discharging a thousand deUcate offices for which 
a woman's tact is especially needed, his wife finds a 
sphere of labour which is at once intensely active and 
intensely feminine, and her example is not less beneficial 
than her ministrations. 

Among the CathoUc priesthood, on the other hand, 
where the vow of celibacy is faithfully observed, a 
character of a difierent type is formed, which wiUi very 
grave and deadly faults combines some of the noblest 
excellencies to which humanity can attain. Separated 



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J 



THE POSITION OF WOMEN, 866 

frc«n most of the ties and affections of earth, viewing life 
chiefly through the distorted medium of the casuist or 
the confessional, and deprived of those relationships 
which more than any others soften and expand the 
character, the Catholic priests have been but too often 
conspicuous for their fierce and sanguinary fenaticism, 
and for their indifference to all interests except those of 
their Church ; while the narrow range of their sympathies, 
and the intellectual servitude they have accepted, render 
them peculiarly unfitted for the office of educating the 
young, which they so persistently claim, and which, to 
the great misfortime of the world, they were long per- 
mitted to monopolise. But, on the other hand, no other 
body of men have ever exhibited a more single-minded 
and unworldly zeal, refracted by no personal interests, 
sacrificing to duty the dearest of earthly objects, and con- 
fronting with undaunted heroism every form of hardship, 
of suffering, and of death. 

That the middle ages, even in their darkest periods, 
produced many good and great men of the latter type it 
would be unjust and absurd to deny. It can hardly, 
however, be questioned that the extreme frequency of 
ilUcit connections among the clergy tended during many 
centuries most actively to lower the moral tone of the 
laity, and to counteract the great services in the cause of 
piuity which Christian teaching had imdoubtedly effected. 
The priestly connections were rarely so fiiUy recognised 
as to enable the mistress to fill a position like that which 
is now occupied by the wife of a clergyman, and the 
spectacle of the chief teachers and exemplars of morals 
living habitually in an intercourse which was acknow- 
ledged to be ambiguous or wrong, must have acted most 
injuriously upon every class of the commimity. Asceti- 
cism, proclaiming war upon hmnan nature, produced a 

aa2 

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856 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

revulsion towards its extreme opposite, and even when it 
was observed in act it was frequently detrimental to the 
purity of mind. An impure chastity was fostered, which 
continually looked upon marriage in its coarsest light, 
treated the propagation of the species as its one Intimate 
end, and exercised a peculiarly perverting influence upon 
the imagination. The exuberant piety of wives who 
desired to live apart from their husbands often drove the 
latter into serious irregularities.^ The notion of sin was 
introduced into the dearest of relationships,^ and the 
whole subject was distorted and d^raded by priestly celi- 
bates. It was one of the great benefits of Protestantism 
that it did much to banish these modes of thought and 
feeUng from the world, and to restore marriage to its sim- 
plicity and its dignity. We have a gratifying illustration 
of the extent to which an old superstition has dechned, in 
the feet that when Goldsmith, in his great romance, desired 
to depict the harmless eccentricities of his simple-minded 
and unworldly vicar, he represented him as maintaining 
that opinion concerning the sinftilness of the second mar- 
riage of a clergyman, which was for many centuries imi- 
versal in the Church. 

Another injurious consequence, resulting, in a great 

' This was energetically noticed by Luther, in his fiunous sermon 'De 
Matrimonio,' and some of the Catholic preachers of an earlier period had 
made the same complaint. See a curious passage from a contemporary of 
Boccaccio, quoted by Meray, Les Libres prSchews, p. 156. ' Vast numbers of 
laymen separated from their wives under the influence of the ascetic en&u- 
siasm which Hildebrand created.' — Lea, p. 254. 

' ' Quando enim servata fide thori causa prolis conjuges conyeniunt sie 
excusatur coitus ut culpam non habeat Quando vero deficiente bono prolia 
fide tamen servata conveniunt causa incontinentiee non sic excusatur ut non 
habeat culpam, sed venialem. . . . Item hoc quod conjugati victi concupia- 
centia utuntur invicem, ultra necessitatem liberos procreandi, pcmam in his 
pro quibus quotidie dicimus Dimitte nobis debita nostra. . . . Unde in sen- 
tentiolis Sexti Py thagorid legitur <' omnis ardentior amator propriae uxoris 
adulter est" '—Peter Lombard, Sentent. lib. iv. dist. 81. 



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THE POSITION OF WOMEN. 867 

measure, from asceticism, was a tendency to depreciate ex- 
tremely the character and the position of women. In this 
tendency we may detect in part the influence of the earUer 
Jewish writings, in which it is probable that most im- 
partial observers will detect evident traces of the com- 
mon oriental depreciation of women. The custom of 
purchase-money to the father of the bride was ad- 
mitted Polygamy was authorised,^ and practised by the 
wisest man on an enormous scale* A woman was regarded 
as the origin of human ills* A period of purification was 
iq>pointed after the birth of every child ; but, by a very 
significant provision, it was twice as long in the case of a 
female as of a male child.^ 'The badness of men,' a 
Jewish writer emphatically declared, * is better than the 
goodness of women.' ^ The types of female excellence 
exhibited in the early period of Jewish history are in 
general of a low order, and certainly far inferior to those 
of Eoman history or Greek poetry; and the warmest 
eulogy of a woman in the Old Testament is probably that 
which was bestowed upon her who, with circumstances 
of the most aggravated treachery, had murdered the 
sleeping fugitive who had taken refuge under her roof. 

The combined influence of the Jewish writings, and of 
that ascetic feeling which treated women as the chief 
source of temptation to man, was shown in those fierce 
invectives against this sex, which form so conspicuous 
and so grotesque a portion of the writings of the Fathers, 
and which contrast so curiously with the adulation be- 
stowed upon particular members of the sex. Woman 
was represented as the door of hell, as the mother of all 

* Many wives, however, were forbidden. (Deut. xvii. 17.) Polygamy ia 
said to have ceased among the Jews after the return from the Babylonish 
captivity.—Whewell's Ekmmtsof MaraUtyf book iv. ch. v. 

* Levit xiL 1-6. • Eccleeiasticus, xliL 14. 



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8MS HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

human ills. She should be ashamed at the very th<ni^t 
that she is a woman. She should live in continual penance, 
on account of the curses she has brought upon the world. 
She should be ashamed of her dress, for it is the memorial 
of her fall. She should be especially ashamed of her 
beauty, for it is the most potent instrument of the daBmoD. 
Physical beauty was indeed perpetually the theme of ec- 
clesiastical denunciations, though one singular exception 
seems to have been made ; for it has been observed tiiat 
in the middle ages the personal beauty of bishops was 
continually noticed upon their tombs.^ Women were 
even forbidden by a provincial Council, in the sixth 
century, on account of their impurity, to receive the 
Eucharist into their naked hands.* Their essentially sub- 
ordinate position was continually maintained. 

It is probable that this teaching had its part in deter- 
mining the principles of l^islation concerning the sex. 
The Pagan laws during the empire had been continually 
repealing the old disabilities of women, and the l^slative 
movement in their favour continued with imabated foroe 
from Constantine to Justinian, and appeared also in some 
of the early laws of the barbarians.® But in the whole 
feudal legislation women were placed in a much lower 
legal position than in the Pagan empire.* In addition to 



* This curious fact is noticed by Le Blant, iMcr^fUons cMHamm dt 
OauUf pp. zcvii-zcviii. 

* See the decree of a Council of Auxerre (a.d. 678), can. 36. 

' See the last two chapters of Troplong, Ir^luences du ChrisUamsme tier le 
Ihoit (a work, however, which is written much more in tiie spirit of an 
apologist than in that of an historian), and Legouv^, pp. 27-20. 

^ Even in matters not relating to property, the position of women in feudal- 
ism was a low one. ' Tout mari,' says Beaumanoir, ' pent hattre sa femme 
quand elle ne yeut pas ob^ir k son commandement, ou quand elle le maudit, 
ou quand elle le dement, pounru que ce soit mod^rtfment et sans que moit 
s'ensuive,' quoted by Lc^ouv^, p. 148. Contrast with this the saying of the 
elder Cato : 'A man who beats his wife or his children lays impious hands 



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THE POSITION OF WOMEN. 859 

the personal restrictions which grew necessarily out of the 
Catholic doctrines concerning divorce, and the subordina- 
tion of the weaker sex, we find numerous and stringent 
enactments, which rendered it impossible for women to 
succeed to any considerable amount of property, and 
which almost reduced them to the alternative of marriage 
or a nunnery.^ The complete inferiority of the sex was 
continually maintained by the law, and that generous 
public opinion which in Borne had frequently revolted 
against the injustice done to girls, in depriving them of 
the greater part of the inheritance of their fathers, totally 
disappeared. Wherever the canon law has been the basis 
of l^islation, we find laws of succession sacrificing the 
interests of daughters and of wives,^ and a state of public 
opinion which has been formed and regulated by these 
laws ; nor was any serious attempt made to abolish them 
tiU the close of the last century. The French revolution- 
ists, though rejecting the proposal of Sieyes and Condorcet 
to accord political emancipation to women, established at 
least an equal succession of sons and daughters, and thus 
initiated a great reformation of both law and opinion, 
which sooner or later must traverse the world. 

In their efforts to raise the standard of purity, the 



on that which is most holj and most sacred in the world.' — ^Plutarch; Mar^ 
ens Cato, 

^ See Legouv^ pp. 29-^38 ; Maine's Ancient Laio, pp. 154-159. 

' ' No society which preserves anj tincture of Christian institutions is 
likely to reetore to married women the personal liherty conferred on them 
by the middle Roman law : but the proprietary disabilities of married females 
stand on quite a different basis from their personal incapacities^ and it is by 
keeping alive and consolidating the former that the expositors of the canon 
law have deeply injured civilisation. There are many vestiges of a struggle 
between the secular and ecclesiastical principles ; but the canon law nearly 
everywhere prevailed.' — Maine's Ancient Law, p. 168. I may observe that 
the Hnssian law was early very favourable to the proprietary rights of mar- 
ried women. See a remarkable letter in the Memoirs of the Prince^ DOsch^ 
haw (edited by Mrs. Bradford : London, 1840), vol. ii. p. 404. 



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860 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

Christian teachers derived much assistance fix)m the in- 
cursions and the conquests of the barbarians. The die- 
solution of vast retinues of slaves, the suspension of most 
public games, and the general impoverishment that fol- 
lowed the invasions, were all favourable to the cause of 
chastity ; and in respect of this virtue the various tribes 
of barbarians, however violent and lawless, were far 
superior to the more civilised community. Tacitus, in 
a very famous work, had long before pourtrayed in 
the most flattering colours the purity of the Germans. 
Adultery, he said, was very rare among them. The 
adulteress was driven from the house with shaven hair, 
and beaten ignominiously through the village. Neither 
youth, nor beauty, nor wealth could enable a woman who 
was known to have sinned to secure a husband. Poly- 
gamy was restricted to the princes, who looked upon 
a plurality of wives rather as a badge of dignity than as 
a gratification of the passions. Mothers invariably gave 
suck to their own children. Infanticide was forbidden. 
Widows were not allowed to remarry. The men feared 
captivity, much more for their wives than for themselves ; 
they believed that a sacred and prophetic gift resided 
in women; they consulted them as oracles, and followed 
their counsels.^ 

It is generally believed, and it is not improbable, that 
Tacitus in this work intended to reprove the dissolute 
habits of his fellow countrymen, and considerably over- 
coloured the virtue of the barbarians. Of the sub- 
stantial justice, however, of his picture we have much 
evidence. Salvian, who, about three centuries later, wit- 
nessed and described the manners of the barbarians who 
had triumphed over the empire, attested in the strongest 
language the contrast which their chastity presented to 

* Gbrmama, ci^. ix. xviii.-xx. 



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THE POSITION OF WOMEN. 861 

the vice of those whom they had subdued.^ The Scan- 
dinavian mythology abounds in legends exhibiting the 
clear sentiment of the heathen tribes on the subject of 
purity, and the awful penalties threatened in the next 
world against the seducers.^ The barbarian women were 
accustomed to practise medicine and to interpret dreams, 
and they also very frequently accompanied their hus- 
bands to battle, rallied their broken forces, and even 
themselves took part in the fight* Augustus had dis- 
covered that it was useless to keep barbarian chiefs as 
hostages, and that the one way of securing the fideUty of 
traitors was by taking their wives, for these, at least, were 
never sacrificed. The grandest instances of Boman female 
heroism scarcely surpassed some which were related of 
uncivilised Germans, or of semicivilised Gauls. When 
Marius had vanquished an army of the Teutons, their 
wives besought the conqueror to permit them to become the 
servants of the Vestal Virgins, in order that their honour, 
at least, might be secure in slavery. Their request was 
refused, and that night they all perished by their own 
hands.* A powerful noble once solicited the hand of a 
Gaulish lady named Gamma, who, faithful to her husband, 
resisted all his entreaties. Resolved at any hazard to 
succeed, he caused her husband to be assassinated, and 
when she took refuge in the temple of Diana, and enrolled 
herself among her priestesses, he sent noble after noble 
to induce her to relent. After a time, he ventured him- 
self into her presence. She feigned a wiUingness to yield, 
but told him it was first necessary to make a libation to 
the goddess. She appeared as a priestess before the altar, 

1 De CfuberfuUione Deu 

* See, for these legends, Mallet's Northern Antiquities, 

* Tacitus, Germ, 9; Hid, iv. 18; Xiphilin. bud. 8; Amm. MarcellinuSy 
XV. 12 ; Vopiscus, AwreUus] Floras, iii. 3. 

^ Valer. Max. vi. 1 ; Hieron. Ep, cxxiii. 



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«62 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

bearing in her hand a cup of wine, which she had 
poisoned. She drank half of it herself, handed the re- 
mainder to her guilty lover, and when he had drained 
the cup to the dregs, burst into a fierce thank^ving, 
that she had been permitted to avenge, and was soon to 
rejoin, her murdered husband.^ Another and still more 
remarkable instance of conjugal fidelity was furnished by 
a Gaulish woman named Epponina. Her husband, Julius 
Sabinus, had rebelled against Vespasian; he was conquered, 
and might easily have escaped to Germany, but could not 
bear to abandon his young wife. He retired to a villa of 
his own, concealed himself in subterranean cellars that 
were below it, and instructed a fi:eedman to spread the 
report that he had ccmunitted suicide, while, to account 
for the disappearance of his body, he set fire to the TiDa. 
Epponina, hearing of the suicide, for three days lay pros- 
trate on the ground without eating. At length the 
ireedman came to her, and told her that the suicide was 
feigned. She continued her lamentations by day, but 
visited her husband by night She became with child, 
but owing, it is said, to an ointment, she succeeded in con- 
cealing her state from her friends. When the hour erf 
parturition was at hand, she went alone into the cellar, 
and without any assistance or attendance was deUvered 
of twins, whom she brought up underground. For nine 
years she fulfilled her task, when Sabinus was discovered, 
and, to the lasting disgrace of Vespasian, was executed in 
spite of the supplications of his wife, who made it her last 
request that she might be permitted to die with him.^ 

The moral purity of the barbarians was of a kind 
altogether difierent from that which the ascetic movement 

» Plutarch, De MuHer. ViH, 

» Plutarch, Amalonus ; Xiphilin. Ixvi. 16 ; Tacit Hid. It. 67. The name 
of this heroic wife is given in three different forms. 



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THE POSITION OF WOMEN. 883 

inculcated. It was concentrated exclusively upon mar- 
riage. It showed itself in a noble conjugal fidelity ; but 
it was little fitted for a life of cdibacy, and did not, as we 
have seen, prevent excessive disorders among the priest- 
hood. The practice of polygamy among the barbarian 
kings was also for some centuries unchecked, or at least 
unsuppressed by CSiristianity. The kings Caribert and 
Chilperic had both many vrives at the same time.^ 
Clothaire married the sister of his first wife during the 
lifetime of the latter, who, on the intention of the king 
being announced, is reported to have said, ' Let my lord 
do what seemeth good in his sight, only let thy servant 
live in thy favour.' ^ Theodebert, whose general good- 
ness of character is warmly extolled by the episcopal 
historian, abandoned his first wife on account of an 
atrocious crime which she had committed, took, during 
her lifetime, another, to whom he had previously been 
betrothed, and upon the death of this second wife, and 
while the first was still living, took a third, whom, how- 
ever, at a later period he murdered.^ St. Coltfmbanus 
was expelled fix)m Gaul chiefly on account of his denun- 
ciations of the polygamy of King Thierry.* Dagobert 
had three wives, as well as a multitude of concubines.^ 
Charlemagne himself had at the same time two wives, 
and he indulged largely in concubines.^ After this 
period examples of this nature became rare. The popes 
and the bishops exercised a strict supervision over 
domestic morals, and strenuously, and in most cases 

' On the polyg^amy of the first, see Greg. Tur. iy. 26 ; on the polygamy of 
Chilperic, Greg. Tur. iv. 28 j t. 14. 

« Greg. Tur. iv. 3. » Ibid. iii. 25-27, 36. 

* Fredegarius, xxxvi • Ibid. Ix. 

: ^.Eginhardus, VU. Kar. Mag, xviii. Charlemagne had, according to 
Eginhard, four wives, but, as far as I can understand, only two at the same 
time. 



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864 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

successfully, opposed the attempts of kings and nobles to 
repudiate their wives. 

But notwithstanding these startling facts, there can be no 
doubt that the general purity of the barbarians wasfix>mthe 
first superior to that of the later Eomans, and it appears in 
many of their laws. It has been very happily observed,^ 
that the high value placed on this virtue is well illustrated 
by the fact that in the Salic Code, while a charge of 
cowardice fekely brought against a man was only punished 
by a fine of three solidi, a charge of unchastity falsely 
brought against a woman was punished by a fine of forty- 
five. The Teutonic sentiment was shown in a very stem 
legislation against adultery and rape,^ and curiously 
minute precautions were sometimes taken to guard against 
them. A law of the Spanish Visigoths prohibited surgeons 
from bleeding any fi:ee woman except in the presence <rf 
her husband, her nearest relative, or at least of some 
properly appointed witness, and a Salic law imposed a 
fine of fifteen pieces of gold upon any one who impro- 
perly pfessed her hand.* 

Under the influence of Christianity, assisted by the 
barbarians, a vast change passed gradually over tte 
world. The vice we are considering was probably mote 
rare; it certainly assumed less extravagant forms, and 
it was screened from observation with a new modesty. 
The theory of morals had become clearer, and the prac- 
tice was somewhat improved. The extreme grossness of 
literature had disappeared, and the more glaring violations 
of marriage were always censured and often repressed. 
The penitential disciphne, and the exhortations of the 

' Smyth's Lectures on Modem Hidory, toI. L pp. 61-C3. 
s Milman's Hist, of Latm Christiamfy, toL i. p. ddd; Legouy^, Hid. 
morale des Fe^nmeSj p. 67. 
* See; on these laws. Lord Karnes On Women) Legouv^ p. 67. 



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THE POSITION OF WOMEN. 866 

pulpit, difliised abroad an immeasurably higher sense of 
the importance of purity than Pagan antiquity had known. 
St Gr^ory the Great, following in the steps of some 
Pagan philosophers,^ strenuously urged upon mothers 
the duty of themselves suckling their children; and 
many minute and stringent precepts were made against 
extravagances of dress and manners. The religious in- 
stitutions of Greece and Asia Minor, which had almost 
consecrated prostitution, were for ever abolished, and 
the courtesan sank into a lower stage of degradation. 

Besides these changes, the duty of the reciprocal fidelity 
in marriage was enforced with a new earnestness. The 
contrast between the levity with which the frailty of men 
has in most ages been regarded, and the extreme severity 
with which women who have been guilty of the same 
offence have generally been treated, forms one of the 
most singular anomalies in moral history, and appears 
the more remarkable when we remember that the tempta- 
tion usually springs from the sex which is so readily 
pardoned, that the sex which is visited with such crush- 
ing penalties is proverbially the most weak, and that, in 
the case of women, but not in the case of men, the vice 
is very commonly the result of the most abject misery 
and poverty. For this disparity of censure several reasons 
have been assigned. The offence can be more surely and 
easily detected, and therefore more certainly punished, 
in the case of women than of men ; and as the duty of 
providing for his children falls upon the father, the intro- 
duction into the family of children who are not his own 
is a special injury to him, while illegitimate children 
who do not spring from adultery will probably, on ac- 
count of their father having entered into no compact to 
support them, ultimately become criminals or paupers, 

* Favorinus bad strongly urged it (AuL GelL Nod, xii. 1.) 



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886 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

and therefore a burden to society.^ I may be added, I 
think, that several causes render the observance of this 
virtue more difficult for one sex than for the other ; that 
its violation, when every allowance has been made for 
the moral degradation which is a result of the existing 
condition of pubhc opinion, is naturally more profoundly 
prejudicial to the character of women than of men, and 
also that much of our feeling on these subjects is due to 
laws and moral systems which were formed by men, and 
were in the first instance intended for their own protection. 
The passages in the Fathers, asserting the equality of 
the obligation of chastity imposed upon both sexes, are 
exceedingly unequivocal ; * and although the doctrine 
itself had been anticipated by Seneca and Plutarch, it had 
probably never before, and has never since, been so fully 
reaUsed as in the early Church. It cannot, however, be 
said that the conquest has been retained. At the present 
day, although the standard of morals is far higher than 
in Pagan Kome, it may be questioned whether the in- 
equality of the censure which is bestowed upon the two 
sexes is not as great as in the days of Paganism, and that 
inequality is continually the cause of the most shameful 
and the most pitiable injustice. In one respect, indeed, 
a great retrogression resulted from chivalry, and long 
survived its decay. The character of the seducer, and 
especially of the passionless seducer who pursues his 

> These are the reasons given bj Maltlius, On PbpuiaUon^ book iiL ch. iL 
» St Augustine {De ConJ, Adult, ii. 19) maintains that adultery is e?en 
more criminal in the man than in the woman. St. Jerome has an impressive 
passage on the subject : ' Alisd sunt leges Cesarum, alie Christi ; aliod 
Papianus, aliud Paulus nostri preecepit Apud illos viris impudicitisB fi!ttna 
laxantur et solo stupro atque adulterio condemnato passim per lupanaria 
et anciUulas libido permittitur, quasi culpam dignitas faciat non voluntas. 
Apud nos quod non licet feminis eeque non licet viris ; et eadem servitus pari 
conditione censetur.* — Ep, IxxviL St. Chrysostom writes in a similar 
strain. 



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THE POSITION OF WOMEN. 867 

career simply as a kind of sport, and under the influence 
of no stronger motive than vanity or a spirit of adventure, 
and who designates his successes in destroying the honour 
of women his conquests, has been glorified and idealised 
in the popular literature of Christendom in a manner to 
which we can find no parallel in antiquity. When we 
reflect that the object of such a man is by the coldest 
and most deliberate treachery to blast the lives of innocent 
women ; when we compare the levity of his motive with 
the irreparable injury he inflicts; and when we remember 
that he can only deceive his victim by persuading her to 
love him, and can only ruin her by persuading her to 
trust him, it must be owned that it would be diflScult 
to conceive a cruelty more wanton and more heartless, or 
a character combining more numerous elements of infamy 
and of dishonour. That such a character should for many 
centuries have been the popular ideal of a vast section of 
literature, that it should have been the continual boast of 
those who most plume themselves upon their honour, is 
assuredly one of the most moumfiil facts in history, and 
it represents a moral deflection certainly not less than 
was revealed in ancient Greece by the position that was 
assigned to the courtesan. 

The fundamental truth, that the same act can never be 
at once venial for a man to demand, and infamous for a 
woman to accord, though nobly enforced by the early 
Christians, has not passed into the popular sentiment of 
Christendom. The mystical character, however, which 
the Church imparted to marriage has been extremely in- 
fluential. Partly by raising marriage into a sacrament, 
and partly by representing it as, in some mysterious and 
not very definable sense, an image of the union of Christ 
with His Church, a feeling was fostered that a lifelong 
union of one man and one woman is, under all circum- 



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868 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORAI^. 

stances, the single form of intercourse between the sexes 
which is not illegitimate ; and this conviction has acquired 
the force of a primal moral intuition. 

There can, I think, be little doubt that, in the stringency 
with which it is usually laid down, it rests not upon the 
law of nature, but upon positive law, although unassisted 
nature is sufficient to lead men many steps in its direction. 
Considering the subject simply in the light of unaided 
reason, two rules comprise the whole duty of man. He 
must abstain from whatever injures happiness or de- 
grades character* Under the first head, he must include 
the more remote as well as the immediate consequences 
of his act. He must consider how his partner will be 
affected by the union, the hght in which society will view 
the connection, the probable position of the children to 
be born, the effect of these births, and also the effect of 
his example upon the well-being of society at large. 
Some of the elements of this calculation vary in different 
stages of society. Thus, public opinion in one age will 
reprobate, and therefore punish, connections which, in 
another age, are fiiUy sanctioned ; and the probable posi- 
tion of the children, as well as the effect of the births 
upon society, will depend greatly upon particular and 
national circumstances. 

Under the second head is comprised the influence of 
this intercourse in clouding or developing the moral 
feelings, lowering or elevating the tone of character, ex- 
citing or allaying the aberrations of the imagination, 
incapacitating men for pure affections or extending their 
range, making the animal part of oxu: natxure more or less 
predominant We know, by the intuition of our moral 
nature, that this predominance is always a degraded, 
though it is not always an unhappy condition. We also 
know that it is a law of our being, that powerfiil and 



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THE POSITION OF WOMEN. SeD 

beautiful affections, which had before been latent, are 
evoked in some particular forms of union, while other 
forms of union are peculiarly fitted to deaden the affec- 
tions and to pervert the character. 

In these considerations we have ample grounds for 
maintaining that the lifelong union of one man and of 
one woman should be the normal or dominant type of 
intercourse between the sexes. We can prove that it is 
on the whole most conducive to the happiness, and also 
to the moral elevation, of all parties. But beyond this 
point it would, I conceive, be impossible to advance, 
except by the assistance of a special revelation. It by 
no m^ans follows that because this should be the domi- 
nant type it should be the only one, or that the interests 
of society demand that all connections should be forced 
into the same die. Connections, which were confessedly 
only for a few years, have always subsisted side by side 
with permanent marriages ; and in periods when public 
opinion, acquiescing in their propriety, inflicts no ex- 
commimication on one or both of the partners, when 
these partners are not Hving the demoralising and degrad- 
ing life which accompanies the consciousness of guilt, 
and when proper provision is made for the children who 
are bom, it would be, I believe, impossible to prove by 
the light of sijnple and unassisted reason, that such con- 
nections should be invariably condemned. It is extremely 
important, both for the happiness and for the moral well- 
being of men, that lifelong unions should not be effected 
simply under the imperious prompting of a blind appetite. 
There are always multitudes who, in the period of their 
lives when their passions are most strong, are incapable 
of supporting children in their own social rank, and who 
would therefore injure society by marrying in it, but are 
VOL. II. B B 



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870 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

nevertheless perfectly capable of securing an honourable 
career for their illegitimate children in the lower social 
sphere to which they would naturally belong. Under 
the conditions I have mentioned, these connections are 
not injurious, but beneficial to the weaker partner ; they 
soften the differences of rank, they stimulate social habits, 
and they do not produce upon character the d^rading 
effect of promiscuous intercourse, or upon society the in- 
jurious effects of imprudent marriages, one or other 
of which will multiply in their absence. In the immense 
variety of circumstances and characters, cases will always 
appear in which, on utilitarian grounds, they might seem 
advisable. 

It is necessary to dwell upon such considerations as 
these, if we would imderstand the legislation of the Pagan 
Empire or the changes that were effected by Christianity. 
The legislators of the empire distinctly recognised these 
connections, and made it a main object to authorise, dig- 
nify, and regulate them. The unlimited licence of divorce 
practically included them under the name of marriage, 
while that name sheltered them from stigma, and pre- 
vented many of the gravest evils of unauthorised unions. 
The word concubine also, which in the republic had the 
same signification as among oxurselves, represented in the 
empire a strictly legal union — an innovation which was 
chiefly due to Augustus, and was doubtless intended as 
part of the legislation against cehbacy, and also, it may be, 
as a corrective of the licentious habits that were general. 
This union was in essentials simply a form of marriage, 
for he who, having a concubine, took to himself either a 
wife or another concubine, was legally guilty of adultery. 
Like the commonest form of marriage, it was consum- 
mated without any ceremony, and was dissoluble at will. 
Its peculiarities were that it was contracted between men 



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^ THE POSITION OF WOMEN. ^571 

of patrician rank and freedwomen, who were forbidden 
by law to intermarry; that the concubine, though her 
position was perfectly recognised and honourable, did 
not share the rank of her partner, that she brought no 
dowry, and that her children followed her rank, and 
were excluded from the rank and the inheritance of their 
father.^ 

Against these notions Christianity declared a direct 
and implacable warfiire, which was imperfectly reflected 
in the civil legislation, but appeared unequivocally in the 
writings of the Fathers, and in most of the decrees of the 
Councils.^ It taught, as a religious dogma, invariable, in- 
flexible, and independent of all utilitarian calculations, that 
all forms of intercourse of the sexes, other than lifelong 
unions, were criminal. By teaching men to regard this 
doctrine as axiomatic, and therefore inflicting severe so- 
cial penalties and deep degradation on transient connec- 
tions, it has profoundly modified even their utilitarian 
aspect, and has rendered them in most countries furtive 
and disguised. There is probably no other branch of 
ethics which has been so largely determined by special 

^ See Troplongi If^/htence du ChrisUamsme sur le Droit, pp. 2d9-i}61. 

* We find, howerer, traces of toleration of the early Roman concubines in 
Christianitj for some time. Thus, a Council of Toledo decreed, ' Si quis 
habens uzorem fideUs ooncuhinam habeat non commtinic^t Csterum is qui 
non habet uzorem et pro uzore concubinam habet a communione non repel- 
latur, tantum ut nnius mulieris, aut uxoris aut concubinss ut ei placuerit, 
sit conjunctione contentus.' — 1 Can, 17. St Isidore said, ' Christiano non 
dicam plurimas sed nee duas simul habere licitum est, nisi unam tantum 
aut. uxorem, aut certo loco uxoris, si conjnx deest, concubinam.' — Aptid 
Gratianum, diss. 4« Quoted by Natalie Alexander^ Hid. Eccks. Ssec. L diss. 
29. Mr. Lea {Hist, of SacerdaUa CeUbacy, pp. 203-205) has devoted an ex- 
tremely interesting note to tracing the history of the word concubine through 
the middle ages. He shows that even up to the thirteenth century a con- 
cubine was not necessarily an abandoned woman. The term was applied to 
marriages that were real, but not officially recognised. Coleridge notices 
a remarkable instance of the revival of this custom in German history. — 
Notes on English Divines (ed. 185.3), vol. i. p. 221. 

B D 2 



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372 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

dogmatic theology, and there is none which would be so 
deeply aflFected by its decay. 

As a part of the same movement, the purely civil mar- 
riage of the later Pagan Empire was gradually replaced 
by religious marriages. There is a manifest propriety in 
invoking a divine benediction upon an act which forms 
so important an epoch in life, and the mingling of a re- 
ligious ceremony impresses a deeper sense of the solem- 
nity of the contract. The essentially rehgious and even 
mystical character imparted by Christianity to marriage 
rendered the consecration pecuUarly natural, but it was 
only very gradually that it came to be looked upon as 
absolutely necessary. As I have already noticed, it was 
long dispensed with in the marriage of slaves ; and even 
in the case of freemen, though generally performed, it 
was not made compulsory till the tenth century.^ In ad- 
dition to its primary object of sanctifying marriage, it be- 
came in time a powerful instrument in securing the 
authority of the priesthood, who were able to compel 
men to submit to the conditions they imposed in the for- 
mation of the most important contract of life, and the 
modern authorisation of civil marriages as well as the 
general diminution of the power of the CathoUc priest- 
hood over domestic life, have been among the most 
severe blows ecclesiastical influence has undergone. 

The absolute sinfulness of divorce was at the same time 
strenuously maintained by the Councils, which in this, as 
in many other points, differed widely from the civil law. 
Constantine restricted it to three cases of crime on the 
part of the husband, and three on the part of the wife ; 
but the habits of the people were too strong for his enact- 
ments, and after one or two changes in the law, the full 

* Legouv^^ p. 109. 

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THE POSITION OF WOMEN. 373 

latitude of divorce reappeared in the Justinian Code. Tlie 
Fathers, on the other hand, though they hesitated a httle 
about the case of a divorce which followed an act of 
adultery on the part of the wife,^ had no hesitation what- 
ever in pronouncing all other divorces to be criminal, 
and periods of penitential discipline were imposed upon 
Christians who availed themselves of the privileges of the 
civil law.^ For many centuries this duality of legislation 
continued. The barbarian law restricted divorce by 
imposing severe fines on those who repudiated their 
wives. Charlemagne pronounced divorce to be criminal, 
but did not venture to make it penal, and he practised it 
himself. On the other hand, the Church threatened with 
excommunication, and in some cases actually launched 
its thunders against, those who were guilty of it. It was 
only in the twelfth century that the victory was definitely 
achieved, and the civil law, adopting the principle of the 
canon law, prohibited all divorce.* 

I do not propose in the present work to examine how 
far this total prohibition has been for the happiness or 
the moral well-being of men. I will simply observe that, 
though it is now often defended, it was not originally 
imposed in Christian nations upon utilitarian grounds, 
but was based upon the sacramental character of mar- 
riage, upon the belief that it was the special symbol of 
the perpetual union of Christ with His Church, and upon 
a well-known passage in the Gospels. The stringency of 

^ See some curious passages in Troplong, pp. 222-223. The Fathers seem 
to have thought dissolution of marriage was not lawful on account of the 
adulteiy of the hushand, hut that it was not absolutely unlawful, though not 
commendable; for a husband whose wife had committed adultery to remarry. 

' Some of the great charities of Fabiola were performed as penances, on 
account of her crime in availing herself of the legislative permission of 
divorce. 

* Laboulaye, Jiecherches gur la Condition cimle et politique des Femmes, 
pp. 152-158, 



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874 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

the catholic doctrine, which forbids the dissolution of 
marriage even in the case of adultery, has been con- 
siderably relaxed by modem legislation, and there can, I 
think, be little doubt that further steps will yet be taken 
in the same direction; but the vast change that was 
effected in both practice and theory since the imUmited 
licence of the Pagan Empire must be manifest to all. 

It was essential, or at least very important, that a 
union which was so solemn and so irrevocable should be 
freely contracted. The sentiment of the Boman patriots 
towards the dose of the republic was, that marriage 
should be regarded as a means of providing children for 
the State, and should be entered into as a matter of duty 
with that view, and the laws of Augustus had imposed 
many disqualifications on those who abstained fix>m it. 
Both of these inducements to marriage passed away 
imder the influence of Christianity. The popular induce- 
ment disappeared with the decline of civic virtues. The 
laws were rescinded imder the influence of the ascetic 
enthusiasm which made men regard the state of celibaqr 
as pre-eminently holy. 

There was still one other important condition to be 
attained by theologians in order to realise their ideal 
type of marriage. It was to prevent the members of 
the Church from intermarrying with those whose rdi- 
gious opinions differed from their own. Mixed marriages, 
it has been truly said, may do more than almost any 
other influence to assuage the rancour and the asperity 
of sects, and they have therefore always been bitterly 
opposed by theologians. It must be added, however, 
that a considerable measure of tolerance must have been 
already attained before they become possible. In a union 
in which each partner believes and realises that the other 
is doomed to an eternity of misery there can be no real 



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THE POSITION OF WOMEN. 875 

happiness, no sympathy, no trust ; and a domestic agree- 
ment that some of the children shoxild be educated in 
one religion and some in the other would be impossible 
when each parent believed it to be an agreement that 
some children should be doomed to heU. 

The domestic unhappiness arising from differences of 
belief was probably almost or altogether unknown in the 
world before the introduction of Christianity ; for although 
differences of opinion may have before existed, the same 
momentous consequences were not attached to them* It 
has been the especial bane of periods of great reUgious 
change, such as the conversion of the Koman Empire, or 
the Eeformation, or our own day, when fex more serious 
questions than those which agitated the sixteenth century 
are occupying the attention of a large proportion of 
thinkers and scholars, and when the deep and widening 
chasm between the reUgious opinions of most highly edu- 
cated men, and of the immense majority of women, is 
painfully apparent. While a multitude of scientific dis- 
coveries, critical and historical researches, and educa- 
tional reforms have brought thinking men face to face 
with religious problems of extreme importance, women 
have been almost absolutely excluded from their influ- 
ence. Their minds are usually by nature less capable 
than those of men of impartiality and suspense, and the 
almost complete omission from female education of those 
studies which most discipline and strengthen the intellect, 
increases the difference, while at the same time it has 
been usually made a main object to imbue them with a 
passionate feith in traditional opinions, and to preserve 
them from all contact with opposing views. But con- 
tracted knowledge and imperfect sympathy are not the 
sole fruits of this education. It has always been the 
peculiarity of a certain kind of theological teaching, that 



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57(5 HISTORY OF EQROl^EAN MORALS. 

it inverts all the normal principles of judgment, and abso^ 
lutely destroys intellectual diffidence. On other subjects 
we find, if not a respect for honest conviction, at least 
some sense of the amount of knowledge that is requisite 
to entitle men to express an opinion on grave contro- 
versies. A complete ignorance of the subject matter of a 
dispute restrains the confidence of dogmatism, and an 
ignorant person who is aware that, by much reading and 
thinking in spheres of which he has himself no knowledge, 
his educated neighbour has modified or rejected opinions 
which that ignorant person had been taught, will, at least, 
if he is a man of sense or modesty, abstain from compas- 
sionating the benighted condition of his more instructed 
friend. But on theological questions this has never been 
so. Unfaltering belief being taught as the first of duties, 
and all doubt being usually stigmatised as criminal or 
damnable, a state of mind is formed to which we find no 
parallel in other fields. Many men and most women, 
though completely ignorant of the very rudiments of bib- 
heal criticism, historical research, or scientific discoveries, 
though they have never read a single page, or upderstood 
a single proposition of the writings of those whom they 
condemn, and have absolutely no rational knowledge 
either of the arguments by which their faith is defended, 
or of those by which it has been impugned, will never- 
theless adjudicate with the utmost confidence upon every 
polemical question, denounce, hate, pity, or pray for the 
conversion of all who dissent from what they have been 
taught, assume, as a matter beyond the faintest possibility 
of doubt, that the opinions they have received without 
enquiry must be true, and that the opinions which others 
have arrived at by enquiry must be false, and make it a 
main object of their lives to assail what they call heresy 
in every way in their power, except by examining the 



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THE POSITION OF WOMEN. 377 

grounds on which it rests. It is probable that the great 
majority of voices that swell the clamour against every 
book which is regarded as heretical, are the voices of 
those who would deem it criminal even to open that book, 
or to enter into any real, searching, and impartial investi- 
gation of the subject to which it relates. Innumerable 
pulpits support this tone of thought, and represent, with 
a fervid rhetoric well fitted to excite the nerves and 
imaginations of women, the deplorable condition of all 
who deviate from a certain type of opinions or of emo- 
tions; a blind propagandism or a secret wretchedness 
penetrates into countless households, poisoning the peace 
of families, chilling the mutual confidence of husband and 
wife, adding immeasurably to the difficulties which every 
searcher into truth has to encounter, and diffusing far and 
wide intellectual timidity, disingenuousness, and hypocrisy. 
These domestic divisions became very apparent in the 
period of the conversion of the Koman Empire, and a 
natural desire to guard intact the orthodoxy and zeal of 
the converts, and to prevent a continual discordance, sti- 
mulated the Fathers in their very vehement denunciations 
of all mixed marriages. We may also trace in these de- 
nunciations the outline of a very singular doctrine, which 
was afterwards suffered to fall into obscurity, but was 
revived in the last century in England in a curious and 
learned work of tlie nonjuror Dodwell.^ The union 

1 ' A discoune concerning the obligation to marry within the true com- 
munion, following from their style (sic) of being called a holy seed.' This 
rare discourse is appended to a sermon against mixed marriages by Leslie. 
(London, 1702.) The reader may find something about Dodwell in Macau- 
lay's Hid. of England, ch. xiy. \ but Macaulay, who does not appear to have 
known of Dodwell's masterpiece — his dissertation Be Paucitaie Martyrunij 
which is one of the finest specimens of criticism of his time — and who only 
knew the discourse on marriages by extracts, has, I think, done a good deal 
of injustice to him. However, I have not read his book about organs, 
which is said to be very absurd. 

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378 raSTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

of Christ and His Church had been represented as a 
marriage ; and this image was not r^arded as a mere 
metaphor or comparison, but as intimating a mysterious 
unity, which, though not susceptible of any very clear 
definition, was not on that account the less influential 
Christians were the ' Umbs of Christ,' and for them to join 
themselves in maniage with those who were not of the 
Christian fold was literally, it was said, a species of 
adultery or fornication. The intermarriage of the Israel- 
ites, the chosen seed of the ancient world, with the 
Gentiles, had been described in the Old Testament as an 
act of impurity ; ^ and in the opinion of some at least of 
the Fathers, the Christian community occupied towards 
the unbehevers a position analogous to that which the 
Jews had occupied towards the Gentiles. St. Cyprian de- 
noimces the crime of those ' who prostitute the limbs of 
Christ in marriage with the Gentiles.'^ TertuUian de- 
scribed the intermarriage as fornication ; ^ and after the 
triumph of the Church, the intermarriage of Jews and 
Christians was made a capital offence, and was stigmatised 
by the law as adultery.* The civil law did not prohibit 
the orthodox from intermarrying with heretics, but 
many councils denounced this as criminal in the strongest 
terms. 

The extreme sanctity attributed to virginity, the abso- 
lute condemnation of all forms of sexual connections other 
than marriage, and the formation and gradual realisation 

^ Dodwell relies mainly upon this fact, and especially upon Ezra's having 
treated these marriages as essentially nulL 

' ' Jungere cum infidelibus yinculum matrimonii, prostituere gentilibos 
membra Ohristi.' — Cyprian, De Lapsis, 

> ' Hsec cum ita sint, fideles Gentilium matrimonia subeuntes stupii reos 
esse constat, et arcendos ab omni cummnnicatione fratemitatis.' — Terfe. Ad 
Uxor, ii. 3. 

* See on this law, and on the many councils which condenmed the mar- 
riage of orthodox with heretics, Bingham, Antiq, xxii. 2, §§ 1-2. 



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THE POSITION OF WOMEN. 879 

of the Christian conception of marriage as a permanent 
union of a man and woman of the same religions opi- 
nions, consecrated by solemn religious services, carrying 
with it a deep rehgious signification, and dissoluble only 
by death, were the most obvious signs of Christian in- 
fluence in the sphere of ethics we are examining. Another 
very important result of the new religion was to raise to 
a far greater honour than they had previously possessed 
the qualities in which women peculiarly excel. 

There are few more curious subjects of enquiry than 
the distinctive diflerences between the minds and char 
racters of men and women, and the manner in which those 
differences have affected the ideal types of different ages, 
nations, philosophies, and religions. Physically, men have 
the indisputable superiority in strength, and women in 
beauty. Intellectually, a certain inferiority of the female 
sex can hardly be denied when we remember how almost 
exclusively the foremost places in every department of 
science, hterature, and art have been occupied by men, 
how infinitesimally small is the number of women who 
have shown in any form the very highest order of genius, 
how many of the greatest men have achieved their great- 
ness in defiance of the most adverse circumstances, and 
how completely women have failed in obtaining the first 
position, even in music or painting, for the cultivation of 
which their circumstances would appear most propitious. 
It is as impossible to find a female Eaphael, or a female 
Handel, as a female Shakspeare or Newton. Women are 
intellectually more desultory and volatile than men, they 
are more occupied with particular instances than with 
general principles ; they judge rather by intuitive per- 
ceptions than by dehberate reasoning or past experience. 
They are, however, usually superior to men in nimble- 
ness and rapidity of thought, and in the gift of tact or 

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380 HISTORY OF EUROrEAN MORALS. 

the power of seizing speedily and faithfully the finer in- 
flexions of feeling, and they have therefore often attained 
very great eminence as conversationalists, as letter-writers, 
as actresses, and as novelists. 

Morally, the general superiority of women over men 
is, I think, unquestionable. If we take the somewhat 
coarse and inadequate criterion of police statistics, we 
find that, while the male and female populations are nearly 
the same in number, the crimes committed by men are 
usually rather more than five times as numerous as those 
committed by women ; ^ and although it may be justly 
observed that men, as the stronger sex, and the sex upon 
whom the burden of supporting the family is thrown, 
have more temptations than women, it must be remem- 
bered, on the other hand, that extreme poverty which 
verges upon starvation is most common among women, 
whose means of livelihood are most restricted, and whose 
earnings are smallest and most precarious. Self-sacrifice 
is the most conspicuous element of a virtuous and religious 
character, and it is certainly far less common among men 
than among women, whose whole lives are usually spent 
in yielding to the will and consulting the pleasures of 
another. There are two great departments of virtue: 
the impulsive, or that which springs spontaneously from 
the emotions, and the deliberative, or that which is per- 
formed in obedience to the sense of duty ; and in both of 
these I imagine women are superior to men. Their 

* Many curious statistics illustrating this fact are given by M. BonneviUe 
de Marsangy — a Portuguese writer, who is counsellor of the Imperial Court 
at Paris — in his jStude sur la MorcditS compar4e de la Femme et de V Homme, 
(Paris, 1862.) The writer would have done better if he had not maintained, 
in lawyer fashion, that the statistics of crime are absolutely decisive of the 
question of the comparative morality of the sexes, and also, if he had not 
thought it due to his official position to talk in a rather grotesque strain 
about the regeneration and glorification of the sex in the person of the 
Empress Eugenie. 



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THE POSITION OF WOMEN. 881 

sensibility is greater, they are more chaste both in 
thought and act, more tender to the erring, more com- 
passionate to the suffering, more affectionate to all about 
them. On the other hand, those who have traced the 
course of the wives of the poor, and of many who, though 
in narrow circumstances, can hardly be called poor, will 
probably admit that in no other class do we so often find 
entire Uves spent in daily persistent self-denial, in the 
patient endurance of countless trials, in the ceaseless 
and deUberate sacrifice of their own enjoyments to the 
well-being or the prospects of others. In active courage 
women are inferior to men. In the courage of endurance 
they are commonly their superiors; but their passive 
courage is not so much fortitude which bears and defies, 
as resignation which bears and bends. In the ethics of 
intellect they are decidedly inferior. To repeat an ex- 
pression I have already employed, women very rarely 
love truth, though they love passionately what they call 
' the truth,' or opinions they have received fi:om others, 
and hate vehemently those who differ from them. They 
are Uttle capable of impartiality or of doubt ; their think- 
ing is chiefly a mode of feeling ; though very generous in 
their acts, they are rarely generous in their opinions, and 
their leaning is naturally to the side of restriction. They 
persuade rather than convince, and value belief rather as 
a source of consolation than as a faithful expression of the 
reaUty of things. They, are less capable than men of 
perceiving qualifying circumstances, of admitting the 
existence of elements of good in systems to which they 
are opposed, of distinguishing the personal character of 
an opponent from the opinions he maintains. Men lean 
most to justice, and women to mercy. Men are most 
addicted to intemperance and brutality, women to fri- 
voUty and jealousy. Men excel in energy, self-reliance, 



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382 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

perseverance, and magnanimity; women in humiL'ty, gen- 
tleness, modesty, and endurance. The realising imagina- 
tion which causes us to pity and to love is more sensitive 
in women than in men, and it is especially more capable 
of dwelling on the unseen. Their rehgious or devotional 
realisations are incontestably more vivid ; and it is pro- 
bable that, while a father is most moved by the death of 
a child in his presence, a mother generally feels most the 
death of a child in some distant land. But though more 
intense, the sympathies of women are commonly less 
wide than those of men. Their imaginations indivi- 
dualise more, their affections are, in consequence, con- 
centrated rather on leaders than on causes ; and if they 
care for a great cause, it is generally because it is repre- 
sented by a great man, or conected with some one whom 
they love. In pohtics, their enthusiasm is more naturally 
loyalty than patriotism. In history, they are even more 
inclined than men to dwell exclusively upon biographical 
incidents or characteristics as distinguished fix)m the 
march of general causes. In benevolence, they excel in 
charity, which alleviates individual suflTering, rather than 
in philanthropy, which deals with large masses, and is 
more frequentiy employed in preventing than in allajring 
calamity. 

It was a remark of Winckelmann that *the supreme 
beauty of Greek art is rather male than female ; * and the 
justice of this remark has been amply corroborated by 
the greater knowledge we have of late years attained of 
the works of the Phidian period, in which art achieved its 
highest perfection, and in which, at the same time, force 
and freedom, and mascuhne grandeur, were its pre-emi- 
nent characteristics. A similar observation may be made 
of the moral ideal of which ancient art was simply the 
expression. In. antiquity the virtues that were most ad- 



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THE POSITION OF WOMEN. 383 

mired were almost exclusively those which are distinc- 
tively masculine. Courage, self-assertion, magnanimity, 
and, above all, patriotism, were the leading features of the 
ideal type ; and chastity, modesty, and charity, the gentler 
and the domestic virtues, which are especially feminine, 
were greatly imdervalued. With the single exception of 
conjugal fidehty, none of the virtues that were very highly 
prized were virtues distinctively or pre-eminently feminine. 
With this exception, nearly all the most illustrious women 
of antiquity were illustrious chiefly because they over- 
came the natural conditions of their sex. It is a charac- 
teristic fact that the favourite female ideal of the artists 
appears to have been the Amazon.^ We may admire the 
Spartan mother, or the mother of the Gracchi, repressing 
every sign of grief when their children were sacrificed 
upon the altar of their country, we may wonder at the 
majestic courage of a Porcia or an Arria, but we extol 
them chiefly because, being women, they emancipated 
themselves fix)m the frailty of their sex, and displayed an 
heroic fortitude worthy of the strongest and the bravest 
of men. We may bestow an equal admiration upon 
the noble devotion and charity of a St. Elizabeth of Hun- 
gary, or of a Mrs. Fry, but we do not admire them be- 
cause they displayed these virtues, although they were 
women, for we feel that their virtues were of the kind 
which the female nature is most fitted to produce. The 
change from the heroic to the saintly ideal, from the 
ideal of Paganism to the ideal of Christianity, was a 
change fit)m a type which was essentially male to one 
which was essentially feminine. Of all the great schools 
of philosophy no other reflected so faithfully the Eoman 
conception of moral excellence as Stoicism, and the greatest 

> See Pliny, Hist, Nat. xxxiv. 19. 



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884 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

Koman exponent of Stoicism summed up its character 
in a single sentence when he pronoimced it to be beyond 
all other sects the most emphatically mascuhne.^ On the 
other hand, an ideal type in which meekness, gentleness, 
patience, humility, faith, and love are the most prominent 
features, is not natiurally male but female. A reason pro- 
bably deeper than the historical ones which are com- 
monly alleged, why sculpture has always been peculiarly 
Pagan and painting peculiarly Christian, may be found in 
the fact, that sculpture is especially suited to represent 
male beauty, or the beauty of strength, and painting fe- 
male beauty, or the beauty of softness ; and that Pagan 
sentiment was chiefly a glorification of the mascuUne 
qualities of strength, and courage, and conscious virtue, 
while Christian sentiment is chiefly a glorification of the 
feminine qualities of gentleness, humility, and love. The 
painters whom the religious feeling of Christendom have 
recognised as the most faithful exponents of Christian 
sentiment have always been those who infused a large mea- 
sure of feminine beauty even into their male characters ; 
and we never, or scarcely ever, find that the same artist 
has been conspicuously successful in delineating both 
Christian and Pagan types. Michael Angelo, whose 
genius loved to expatiate on the subhmity of strength and 
defiance, failed signally in his representations of the 
Christian ideal ; and Perugino was equally imsuccessful 
when he sought to pourtray the features of the heroes of 
antiquity.^ The position that was gradually assigned to 

1 ' Tantum inter Stoicos, Serene^ et ceteros sapientiam profeesos intereese, 
quantum inter foeminas et mares non immerito dixerim.* — De ConaL 
Sapientisy cap. i. 

< This is well illustrated; on the one side, by the most repulsive re- 
presentations of Christy by Michael Angelo, in the great fresco in the 
Sistine Chapel (so inferior to the Christ of Orgagna, at Pisa, from which 
it was partly imitated); and in marble in the Min«rva Church at Home ; and, 



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THE POSITION OF WOMEN. 885 

the Virgin as the female ideal in the belief and the devo- 
tion of Christendom, was a consecration or an expression 
of the new value that was attached to the feminine 
virtues. 

The general superiority of women to men in the 
strength of their religious emotions, and their natural 
attraction to a religion which made personal attachment 
to its Founder its central duty, and which imparted an 
unprecedented dignity and afforded an unprecedented 
scope to their characteristic virtues, account for the 
very conspicuous position they assumed in the great 
work of the conversion of the Eoman Empire, In no 
other important movement of thought was female in- 
fluence so powerful or so acknowledged. In the ages of 
persecution female figures occupy many of the foremost 
places in the ranks of martyrdom, and Pagan and Chris- 
tian writers alike attest the alacrity with which women 
flocked to the Church, and the influence they exercised 
in its favour over the male members of their families. 
The mothers of St. Augustine, St. Chrysostom, St. Basil, 
St. Gregory Nazianzen, and Theodoret, had all a leading 
part in the conversion of their sons. St. Helena, the 
mother of Constantine, Flacilla, the wife of Theodosius 
the Great, St. Pulcheria, the sister of Theodosius the 
Younger, and Placidia, the mother of Valentinian m., were 
among the most conspicuous defenders of the faith. In 
the heretical sects the same zeal was manifested, and Arius, 
PriscilUan, and Montanus were all supported by troops 
of zealous female devotees. In the career of asceticism 
women took a part little if at all inferior to men, while 
in the organisation of the great work of charity they were 

on the other hand, by the frescoes of Penigino, at Perogia, representing the 
great sages of Paganism. The figure of Cato, in the latter, almost approaches 
as well as I remember, the type of St John. 

VOL. II. C C 

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886 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

pre-eminent For no other field of active labour are 
women so admirably suited as for this ; and although we 
may trace from the earliest period, in many creeds and 
ages, individual instances of their influence in allaying the 
sufferings of the distressed,^ it may be truly said that 
their instinct and genius of charity had never before the 
dawn of Christianity obtained fiill scope for action. Fa- 
biola, Paula, Melania, and a host of other noble ladies 
devoted their time and fortunes mainly to foimding and 
extending vast institutions of charity, some of them of a 
kind before unknown in the world. The empress Fla- 
cUla was accustomed to tend with her own hands the sick 
in the hospitals,' and a readiness to discharge such offices 
was deemed the first duty of a Christian wife.' From age 
to age the impulse thus commimicated has been felt; there 
has been no period, however corrupt, there has been no 
Church, however superstitious, that has not been adorned 



* In that fine description of a virtuous woman which is aaerihed to the 
mother of King Lemuel, we read, ' She stretcheth out her hand to the poor ; 
yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.' (Ph>yerh8 xxxi. 20.) I 
have already quoted from Xenophon the beautiful description of the Greek 
wife tending her sick slaves. So, too, Euripides represents the slaves of 
Aloestis gathering with tears around the bed of their dying mistress, who, 
even then, found some kind word for each, and when ^e died, lamenting 
her as their second mother. (Eurip. AJcest.) In the servile war which deso- 
lated Sicily at the time of tiie Punic wars, we find a touching fnit of the 
same kind. The revolt was provoked by the cruelties of a rich man (named 
Damophilus) and his wife, who were massacred with circumstances of great 
atrocity ; but the slaves preserved their daughter entirely unharmed, for she 
had always made it her business to console them in their sorrow, and she 
had won the love of alL (Diodor. Sic. I^iu^, xxxiv.) So, too, Marda, the 
wife of Cato, used to suckle her young daves from her breast (Plat. 
Marc, Cato.) I may add the well-known sentiment which Virgil puts in 
the mouth of Dido, * Hand ignara mali miseris succurrere disco.' There 
are, doubtleas, many other touches of the same kind in ancient literature, 
some of which may occur to my readers. 

« Theodoret, v. 19. 

* See the beautiful description of the functions of a Christian woman in 
tho second book of Tertullian, Ad Uxoretn, 



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THfi POSITION OF WOMEN. 387 

by many Christian women devoting their entire lives to 
assuaging the sufferings of men, and the mission of charity 
thas instituted has not been more efficacious in diminish- 
ing the sum of human wretchedness than in promoting 
the moral dignity of those by whom it was conducted. 

Among the Collyridian heretics, women were admitted 
to the priesthood. Among the orthodox, although this 
honour was not bestowed upon them, they received a 
religious consecration, and discharged some minor eccle- 
siastical functions under the name of deaconesses,^ This 
order may be traced to the Apostolic period.^ It con- 
sisted of elderly virgins, who were set apart by a formal 
ordination, and were employed in assisting as catechists 
and attendants at the baptism of women, in visiting the 
sick, ministering to martyrs in prison, preserving order 
in the congregations, and accompanying and presenting 
women who desired an interview with the bishop. It 
would appear from the evidence of some councils, that 
abuses gradually crept into this institution, and the dea- 
conesses at last faded into simple nuns, but they were 
still in existence in the East in the twelfth century. 
Besides these, widows, when they had been but once 
married, were treated with peculiar honour, and were 
made the special recipients of the charity of the Church, 
Women advanced in years, who, either from their single 
life or from bereavement, have been left without any male 
protector in the world, have always been peculiarly de- 
serving of commiseration. With less strength, and com- 
monly with less means, and less knowledge of the world 
than men, they are Hable to contract certain pectdiarities 

' See, upon the deaconesses, Bingham's Christian AiUiquHies, book ii. 
ch. 22, and Ludlow's TFotnan^s Work in the Church. The latter author 
argues elaborately that the ' widows ' were not the same as the deaconesses. 

' Phoebe (Rom. xyi. 1) is described as a ^micovoy. 

cc2 

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888 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

of mind and manner to which an excessive amount of 
ridictde has been attached, and age, in most cases, fur- 
nishes them with very little to compensate for the charms 
of which it has deprived them. The weight and dignity 
of matured wisdom which make the old age of one sex so 
venerable, are more rarely found in that of the other, and 
even physical beauty is more frequently the characteristic 
of an old. man than of an old woman. The Church la- 
boured steadily to cast a halo of reverence around this 
period of woman's life, and its religious exercises have 
done very much to console and to occupy it. 

In acxx)rdance with these ideas, the Christian legislators 
contributed largely to improve the legal position of 
widows in respect to property,^ and Justinian gave mo- 
thers the guardianship of their children, destroying tiie 
Pagan rule that guardianship could only be legally exer- 
cised by men.^ The usual subservience of the sex to 
ecxjlesiastical influence, the numerous instances of rich 
widows devoting their fortunes, and mothers their sons, 
to the Church, had no doubt some influence in securing 
the advocacy of the clergy, but these measures had a mani- 
fest importance in elevating the position of women who 
have had in Christian lands, a great, though not, I think, 
altogether a beneficial influence, in the early education of 
their sons. 

Independently of all legal enactments, the simple change 
of the ideal type by bringing specially feminine virtues 

* A very able writer, who takes on the whole an unfavourable view of the 
influence of Christianity on legislation, says, ' The provision for the widow 
was attributable to the exertions of the Church, which never relaxed its aoli- 
dtude for the interests of wives surviving their husbands, winning, perhaps;, 
one of the most arduous of its triumphs when, after exacting for two or 
three centuries an express promise from the husband at marriage to endow 
his wife, it at last succeeded in engrafting the principle of dower on the 
customary law of all Western Europe.' — Maine's Ancient Law, p. 224. 

* See Troplong, In/luence du Chrwtianwne swr le Droity pp. 808-810. 



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THE POSITION OF WOMEN. 889 

into the fore front, was sufficient to elevate and ennoble 
the sex. The commanding position of the mediaeval 
abbesses, the great number of female saints, and espe- 
cially the reverence bestowed upon the Virgin, had a 
similar effect It is remarkable that the Jews, who, of 
the three great nations of antiquity, certainly produced in 
history and poetry the smallest number of illustrious 
women, should have furnished the world with its supreme 
female ideal, and it is also a striking illustration of the 
qualities which prove most attractive in woman, that one 
of whom we know nothing except her gentleness and her 
sorrow should have exercised a magnetic power upon 
the world incomparably greater than was exercised by 
the most majestic female patriots of Paganism. Whatever 
may be thought of its theological propriety, there is, I 
think, little doubt that the CathoUc reverence for the 
Virgin has done much to elevate and purify the ideal of 
women, and to soflen Hhe manners of men. It has had 
an influence which the worship of the Pagan goddesses 
could never possess, for these had been almost destitute 
of moral beauty, and especially of that kind of moral 
beauty which is peculiarly feminine. It supplied in a 
great measure the redeeming and ennobling element in 
that strange amalgam of religious, licentious, and mihtary 
feeUng which was formed around women in the age of 
chivalry, and which no succeeding change of habit or 
belief has wholly destroyed. 

It can hardly, I think, be questioned that in the great 
religious convulsions of the sixteenth century, the femi- 
nine type followed Catholicism, while Protestantism in- 
clined more to the masculine- type. Catholicism alone 
retained the Virgin worship, which at once reflected and 
sustained the first. The skill with which it acts upon 
the emotions by music, and painting, and solemn archi* 



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390 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

tecture, and imposing pageantry, its tendency to appeal 
to the imagination rather than to the reason, and to foster 
modes of feeling rather than modes of thought, its as- 
sertion of absolute and infallible certainty, above all, the 
manner in which it teaches its votary to throw himself 
perpetually on authority, all tended in the same direetioo. 
It is the part of a woman to lean, it is the part of a man 
to stand. A religion which prescribed to the distracted 
mind unreasoning faith in an infallible Church, and to the 
troubled conscience an implicit trust in an absolving 
priesthood, has ever had an especial attraction to a femi- 
nine mind. A religion which recognised no authority 
between man and his Creator, which asserted at once the 
dignity and the duty of private judgment, and which, 
while deepening immeasurably the sense of individual re- 
sponsibility, denuded religion of meretricious omam^its, 
and of most aesthetic aids, is pre-eminently a religicm of 
men. Puritanism is the most masculine form that Chris- 
tianity has yet assumed. Its most illustrious teachers 
differed from the Catholic saints as much in the nK)nJ 
type they displayed as in the system of doctrines they 
held. Catholicism commonly softens, while Frotestantissi 
strengthens the character; but the softness of the first 
often degenerates into weakness, and the strength of the 
second into hardness. Sincerely CathoHc nations are dis- 
tinguished for their reverence, for their habitual and vivid 
perceptions of religious things, for the warmth of th«r 
emotions, for a certain amiability of disposition, and a 
certain natural courtesy and refinement of manner thi^ 
are inexpressibly winning. Sincerely Protestant nations 
are distinguished for their love of truth, for their firm 
sense of duty, for the strength and the dignity of their 
character. Loyalty and humiUty, which are especially 
feminine, floiuish chiefly in the first ; Uberty and sdf^ 



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THE POSITION OF WOMEN. 391 

assertion in the second. The first are most prone to 
superstition, and the second to fanaticism. Protestantism, 
by purifying and dignifying marriage, conferred a great 
benefit upon women ; but it must be owned that neither 
in its ideal type, nor in the general tenor of its doctrines 
or devotions, is it as congenial to their nature as the reli- 
gion it superseded. 

Its complete suppression of the conventual system was 
also, I think, very far from a benefit to women or to the 
world. It would be impossible to conceive any institu- 
tion more needed than one which would furnish a shelter 
for the many women who, fix>m poverty, or domestic 
unhappmess, or other causes, find themselves cast alone 
and unprotected into the battle of life, which would secure 
them from the temptations to gross vice, and from the 
extremities of suffering, and would convert them into 
agents of active, organised, and intelligent charity. Such 
an institution would be almost free from the objections 
that may justly be urged against monasteries, which with- 
draw strong men frx>m manual labour, and it would largely 
mitigate the diflSculty of providing labour and means of 
livehhood for single women, which is one of the most 
pressing, in our own day one of the most appalling, of 
social problems. Most unhappily for mankind, this noble 
conception was from the first perverted. Institutions that 
might have had an incalculable philanthropic value were 
based upon the principle of asceticism, which makes the 
sacrifice, not the promotion, of earthly happiness its aim, 
and binding vows produced much misery and not a Httle 
vice. The convent became the perpetual prison of the 
daughter whom a father was disinclined to endow; or of 
young girls who, under the impulse of a transient enthu- 
siasm, or of a transient sorrow, took a step which they 
never could retrace, and useless penances and contemptible 



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802 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

superstitions wasted the energies that might have been 
most beneficially employed. Still it is very doubtful 
whether, even in the most degraded period, the convents 
did not prevent more misery than they inflicted, and in 
the Sisters of Charity the religious orders of Catholicism 
have produced one of the most perfect of all the types of 
womanhood. There is, as I conceive, no fact in modem 
history more deeply to be deplored than that the Be- 
formers, who in matters of doctrinal innovations were 
often so timid, should have levelled to the dust, instead of 
attempting to regenerate, the whole conventual system of 
CathoUcism. 

The course of these observations has led me to trans- 
gress the limits assigned to this history. It has been, 
however, my object through this entire work to exhibit 
not only the nature but also the significance of the moral 
facts I have recorded, by showing how they have affected 
the subsequent changes of society. I will conclude this 
chapter, and this work, by observing that of all the de- 
partments of ethics the questions concerning the rdations 
of the sexes and the proper position of women, are those 
upon the future of which there rests the greatest uncer- 
tainty. History tells us that as civilisation advances, the 
charity of men becomes at once warmer and more expan- 
sive, their habitual conduct both more gentie and more 
temperate, and their love of truth more sincere ; but it 
also warns us that in periods of great intellectual enlight- 
enment, and of great social refinement, the relations of 
the sexes have often been most anarchical. It is impos- 
sible to deny that the form which these relations at pre- 
sent assume has been very largely affected by special 
religious teaching, which, for good or for ill, is rapidly 
waning in the sphere of government, and also, that cer- 



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THE POSITION OF WOMEN. 398 

tain recent revolutions in economical opinion and indus- 
trial enterprise have a most profound bearing upon the 
subject. The belief that a rapid increase of population 
is always eminently beneficial, which was long accepted 
as an axiom by both statesmen and moralists, and was 
made the basis of a large part of the legislation of the 
first and of the decisions of the second, has now been 
replaced by the directly opposite doctrine, that the very 
highest interest of society is not to stimulate but to re- 
strain multiplication, diminishing the number of marriages 
and of children. In consequence of this beUef, and of the 
many factitious wants that accompany a luxurious civili- 
sation, a very lai^e and increasing proportion of women 
are left to make their way in life without any male pro- 
tector, and the difficulties they have to encounter through 
physical weakness have been most unnaturally and most 
fearfully aggravated by laws and customs which, resting 
on the old assumption that every woman should be a 
wife, habitually deprive them of the pecuniary and edu- 
cational advantages of men, exclude them absolutely 
firom very many of the employments in which they might 
earn a subsistence, encumber their course in others by a 
heartless ridicule or by a steady disapprobation, and con- 
sign, in consequence, many thousands to the most extreme 
and agonising poverty, and perhaps a still larger number 
to the paths of vice. At the same time a momentous 
revolution, the effects of which can as y?t be but imper- 
fectly descried, has taken place in the chief spheres of 
female industry that remain. The progress of machinery 
has destroyed its domestic character. The distaff has 
fallen from the hand. The needle is being rapidly super- 
seded, and the work which, fi:om the days of Homer to 
the present century, was accomplished in the centre of the 



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394 HISTORY OF EUROPEAN MORALS. 

family, has been transferred to the crowded manufiac- 
tory.^ 

The probable consequences of these things are among 
the most important questions that can occupy the moral- 
ist or the philanthropist, but they do not fall within the 
province of the historian. That the pursuits and educa- 
tion of women will be considerably altered, that these 
alterations will bring with them some modifications of the 
type of character, and that the prevailing moral notions 
concerning the relations of the sexes will be subjected in 
many quarters to a severe and hostile criticism, may 
safely be predicted. Many wild theories will doubtless 
be propoimded. Some real ethical changes may perhaps 
be effected, but these, if I mistake not, can only be within 
definite and narrow limits. He who will seriously reflect 
upon our clear perceptions of the difference between 
purity and impurity, upon the laws that govern oiu- affec- 
tions, and upon the interests of the children who are bom, 
may easily convince himself that in this, as in all other 
spheres, there are certain eternal moral landmarks which 
never can be removed. 

^ The results of this change haye been- treated hj Miss Parkes, in her 
truly admirable little book called JSssayi on WonunCi Work, better than 
bj any other writer with whom I am acquainted. 



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INDEX. 



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INDEX. 



ABO 

ABORTION, diyersities of moral 
judgment respecting, i. 94. His- 
toiT of the ^actice of, ii. 22, 26 

Abraham the Hermit, St, ii. 117 

Acacius, his ransom of Persian slares, 
ii.77 

Adultery, laws concerning, ii. 831 

^schyluB, his views of human nature, 
i. 206. His Tiolation of dramatic 
probabilities, 241 

Anections, the, all forms of self-loTe, 
according to some Utilitarians, i. 9. 
Subjugation of the, to the reason, 
taught bj the Stoics, &c., 186, 197. 
Considered bj the Stoics as a disease, 
198. Evil consequences of the sup- 
pression of the affections, 201. Cid- 
tivated by the eclectic school of philo- 
sophy, 266 

Africa, sacrifices of children to Saturn 
in, ii. 33. Efiect of the conquest of 
Oenseric of, 87 

Agapse, or love feasts, of the Christians, 
how regarded by the pagans, i. 441 ; 
ii. 86. Excesses of the, and their 
suppression, 169 

Agnes, St., legend of, ii. 338 

Agricultural pursuits, history of the 
decline of, in Italy, i. 281. Efforts 
to relieTe the agriculturists, 283 

Albigenses, their slow suicides, ii. 63 

Alexander the QrcRt : effect of his ca- 
reer on Greek cosmopolitanism, i. 242 

Alexandria, foundation of, i. 242. Effect 
of the increasing importance of, on 
Boman thought, 338. The Decian 
persecution at, 480. Excesses of the 
Christian sects of, ii. 208, 209, note 

Alexis, St., his legend, ii. 341 

Alimentus, Cincius, his work written 
in Greek, i. 243 

Almsgiving, effects of indiscriminate, ii. 
96,97 



ANI 

Amafisknius, wrote the first Ladn work 
on philosophy, i. 184, note 

Ambrose, St., his miraculous dream, i. 
403. His dissection of the pagan 
theory of the decline of tlie Itoman 
empire, 436. His ransom of Ita- 
lians from the Goths, ii. 76. His 
commendation of disobedience to pa- 
rents, 141 

American Indians, suicide of the, ii. 

' 67 

Ammon, St, his refusal to wash 
himself, ii. 117. Deserts his wife, 
341 

Amour, William de St, his denuncia- 
tion of the mendicant orders, ii. 
102 

Amphitheatres, history and remains of 
Roman, i. 290 

Amusements, indifferent communities, 
i. 119 

Anaxagoras, his remark on the death of 
his son, i. 201. His remark on 
Heaven as his true country, 211. His 
passive life, 360 

Anchorites. See Ascetics ; Monasti- 
cism. 

Angelo, Michael, in what he failed, ii. 
384 

Anglo-Saxon nations, their virtues and 
vices, i. 160, 161 

Animals, lower, E^ptian worship of, 
defended by an ij^yptian priest, 174, 
note. Humanity to animals probably 
first advocated by Platarch, 268. Am- 
mals employed in the arena at Rome, 
297. Instances of kindness to, 306, 
307. Legends of the connection of the 
saints and the animal world, ii. 171. < 
Pagan legends of the intelli^nce of 
animals, 171, 172. Legislative pro- 
tection of them, 172. Views as to 
the souls of animals, 172. Moral 



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396 



INDEX. 



ANT 

duty of kindness to animals taught 
by pagans, 176. Legends in the lives 
of the saints in connection with 
animals, 179. Progress in modem 
times of humanity to animals, 182 

Antigonus of Socho, his doctrine of vir- 
tue, i. 192, note 

Antioch, charities of, ii. 86. Its ex- 
treme vice and asceticism, 16^ 

Antisthenes, his scepticism, i. 170 

Antoninus, the philosopher, his predic- 
tion, i. 463 

Antoninus the Pious, his death-bed, i. 
218. His leniency towards the Chris- 
tians, 466, 467. Forged letter of, 
467, note. His charity, il 82 

Antony, St, his flight into tbe desert, 
ii. 109. His mode of life, 117. His 
dislike to knowledge, 1 23. Legend of 
his visit to Paul the hermit, 166, 167 

Aphrodite, the Greek ideal of the ce- 
lestial and earthly, i. 109 

Apollonius of Tyana, his conversation 
with an Egyptian priest respecting 
the Greek and Egyptian modes of 
worshipping the deity, i. 174, note. 
Miracles attributed to him, 396. His 
humanity to animals, ii. 175 

ApoUoniuB, the merchant, his dispensary 
for monks, ii. 86 

Apuleius, his condemnation of suicide, 1. 
224. His disquisition on the doc- 
trine of daemons, 843. Practical form 
of his philosophy, 349. Miracles at- 
tributed to him, 396. His defence of 
tooth-powder, ii. 157 

Archytas of Tarentum, his speech on the 
evils of sensuality, i. 211, note 

Argos, story of the sons of the priestess 
of Juno at, i. 217 

Ariaos, their charges against the Catho- 
lics, i. 444, note 

Aristides, his gentleness, i. 240 

Aristocracy of Rome, effects of the de- 
struction of the power of the, on the 
cosmopolitan spirit of the Romans, i. 
246 

Aristotle, his admission of the practice 
of abortion, i. 94. Emphasis with 
which he dwelt upon the utility of 
virtue, 129. His patriotism, 211. 
His condemnation of suicide, 224. 
His opinions as to the duties of Greeks 
to barbarians, 241 
'Arius, death of, il 208 

Amobius, his notice of the miracles of 
Christ, i. 399 

Arrian, his humanity to animals, ii. 1 76 

Arsenius, St, his penances, ii. 114, 122, 



ATT 

note. His anxiety to avoid dktnw- 
tions, 133, note 

Ascetics, estimate of the, of the dread- 
ful nature of a sin, i. 117. Dodine 
of asceticism and evanescence of the 
moral notions of which it was the ex- 
pression, 117. Condition of sodetj- 
to which it belong, 136. Dedine <^ 
the ascetic and saintly qualities with 
civilisation, 136. Caosee of the as- 
cetic movement, ii. 108. Rapid ex- 
tension of the movement, 110-112. 
Astounding penances attributed to tbe 
saints of the desert, 114-1 16. Mise- 
ries and joys of the hermit life, 120» 
et seq. Dislike of the monks to know- 
ledge, 123. Their hallucinations, 124. 
Re^tions of female devotees with the 
anchorites, 127, 128. Ascetic life, 
ways in which the ascetic mode of 
life affected both the ideal tjpe and 
realised condition of morals, 120, et 
seq. Extreme animosity of the as- 
cetics to everything pagan, 145. De- 
cline of the civic virtues caused by 
asceticism, 148. Moral effects of ae- 
ceticism on self-sacrifice, 164. Moral 
beauty of some of the legends of the 
ascetics, 166. Legends of the counec- 
tion between the saints and the 
animal world, 171. Practical form 
of asceticism in the West, 188. In- 
fluence of asceticism on chastity, 838, 
339. And on marriage, 339. And on 
the estimate of women, 356 

Asia Minor, destruction of the churdiea 
of, iL 15 

Asella, story of her asceticism, ii. 141 

Aspasia, the Athenian courtesan, il. 
310 

Asses, feast of, ii. 184 

Association, Hartley's doctrine of, L 23. 
Enlargement of the Utilitarian school 
by the doctrine, 23. Trace of it 
amongst the ancients,, 23. Lockers 

Shrase ' association of ideas,* 23. The 
octrine dosely antidpated by Hut- 
cheson, 23. Ga/s prindples, 24. 
Expansion and elaboration of Hart- 
ley s great work, 25. Hlustrations of 
the system of association, 26-30. The 
theory, how far selfish. 31 . The essen- 
tial and characteristic feature of con- 
science wholly unaccounted for by the 
association of ideas, 68 

Astrologv, belief in, rapidly gaining 
^und in the time of the elder Pliny, 
1. 1 79, and note 

Atticus, his suicide, i. 226, and note 



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INDEX. 



399 



Aua 

Angufltme, St, on original sin, i. 220» 
821. His belief in contemporary 
miracles, 402. His work on the 
decline of the Roman empire, 435. 
His condemnation of virgin soicides, 
ii. 60 

Angnstus, the Emperor, his solemn de- 
mdation of the statue of Neptune, 
1. 178. His mode of discouraging 
celibacy, 245. Miraculous stories 
related of him, 273. His super- 
stition, 890. Advice of Msecenas to 
him, 425. His consideration for the 
religious customs of the Jews, 482 

Aulus Gellius, his account of the rhe- 
toricians, i. 882. Compared with Hel- 
T^tius, 382. Account of his journal, 
334 

Aurelius, Marcus, on a future state, i. 
193. On posthumous fame, 196. De- 
nied that all vices are the same, 202, 
note. On the sacred spirit dwelling in 
man, 209. His submissive ^titude, 
210. His practical application of the 
precepts of the Stoics, 213. His 
wavering views as to suicide, 225. 
His charity to the human race, 254. 
Mild and more religious spirit of 
his stoicism, 259, 260. His constant 
practice of self-examination, 263. 
His life and character, 268-269. 
Compared and contrasted with Plu- 
tarcirs, 267. His discouragement of 
the games of the arena, 308. His 
humanity, 808. His disbelief of ex- 
orcism, 408. His law against reli- 
gious terrorism, 448. His persecu- 
tion of the Christians, 467, 469. His 
benevolence, ii. 82. His view of war, 
278 

Austin, Mr., his view of the foundation 
of the moral law, i. 17, note. His ad- 
vocacy of the unselfish view of the 
love we ought to bear to God, 1 8, tyde. 
Character of his * Lectures on Juris- 
prudence,* 22, note 

Avarice, aesociation of ideas to the pas- 
sion of, i. 26 

Avitus, St., legend of, ii. 169 



BA BYLAS, St., miracles performed by 
his bones, L 406, and note. His 
death, ii. 10 
Bacchus, suppression of the rites of, at 

Rome, i 427 
Bacon, Lord, great movement of modem 
thought caused by, i. 130. His objec- 
tion to the Stoics' view of death, 218 



BSN 

Bacon, Roger, his life and worics, ii. 
228 

Bain, Mr., on pleasure, i. 12, note. His 
definition of conscience, 30, note 

Balbus, Cornelius, his elevation to the 
consulate, i. 245 

Baltus on the exorcists, i. 405, note 

Baptism, Augustinian doctrine of, i. 98 

Barbarians, causes of the conversion of 
the, i. 486 

Basil, St., his hospital, ii. 85. His 
labours for monacnism, 118 

Bassus, Ventidius, his elevation to the 
consulate, i. 245 

Bathilda, Queen, her charity, ii. 260 

Bear-gardens in England, ii. 186, note. 

Beauty, analogies between virtue and, i. 
79. Their difference, 80. Diversi- 
ties existing in our judgments of vir- 
tue and beauty, 81. Causes of these 
diversities, 81. Virtues to which we 
can, and to which we cannot, apply 
the term beautiful, 84, 85. Pleasure 
derived from beauty compared with 
that from the grotesque, or eccentric, 
87. The prevailing cast of female 
beauty in the north, contrasted with 
the southern type, 151, 152. Admi- 
ration of the Greeks for beauty, ii. 
809 

Bees, regarded by the ancients as em- 
blems or models of chastity, i. Ill, 
note 

Beggars, causes of vast numbers of, ii. 
100. Old English laws ibr the sup- 
pression of mendicancy, 102. En- 
actments against them in various parts 
of Europe, 104. 

Benedict, St., his system, 194. 

Benefices, militaiy use of, ii. 286. 

Benevolence ; Hutcheson*s theory of 
the moral * sense ; ' and that all virtue 
is resolved into benevolence, i. 4. Dis- 
cussions in England, in the sixteenth 
and seventeenth centuries, as to the 
existence of, 20. Shaftesbury, Hut- 
cheson,and others, 20. Enlarf;ement of 
the Utilitarian school by the recog- 
nition of benevolence, 21, 22. Various 
views of the source from which it 
springs, 22. Association of ideas 
producing the feeling of, 27. Hart- 
ley on benevolence quoted, 28, note. 
Impossibility of benevolence becoming 
a pleasure if practised only with a 
view to that end, 37. Application to 
benevolence of the theory, that the 
moral unity of different ages is a unity 
not of standard but of tendency, 103. 



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400 



INDEX. 



BKN 

Influenced by our imaginations, 138, 
139. Not recognised by the Stoics, 
198,201,202 

Bentham, Jeremy, his opinions as to 
the reasons or motives of human 
actions, i. 8, note. On the pleasures 
and pains of piety <^oted, 9, nots. 
On charity, 10, note. His yiews as to 
vice, 13, 14, note. His view of the 
sanctions of morality, 20, and note, 22. 
Throws benevolence as much as 
possible into the background, 22. 
Makes no use of the doctrine of 
association, 25, note. His definition 
of conscience, 30, note. On interest 
and disinterestedness, 32, 33, note. 
On the value and purity of a pleasure, 
92, note 

Besarion, St., his penances, ii. 115 

Biography, relative importance of, 
among Christians and Pagans, 183 

Blandina, martyrdom of, i. 470 

Blesilla, story of her slow suicide, ii. 50 

Blondel, his denunciation of the forge- 
ries of the Sibylline books, i. 401 

Boadicea, her suicide, ii. 57 

Bolingbroke*! ' Reflections on Exile,' 
basis of, i. 212, note 

Bona Dea, story and worship of, i. 96, 
note. Popularity of her worship among 
the Romans, 109, 411 

Boniface, St, his missionary labours, 
ii. 261 

Bonnet, his philosophy, i. 73 

Bossuet, his advocacy of the selfish view 
of the love we shotdd bear to G-od, 
i. 19, note 

Brephotrophia, in the early church, ii. 34 

Brotherhood, effect of Christianity in 
promoting, ii. 65 

Brown, his opinion as to the reason or 
motive for the practice of virtue, 

?uoted, i. 8, note. On theological 
Ftilitarianism, 16, note 
Brunehaut, Queen, her crimes, approved 
of by the Pope, ii. 250, 251. Her 
end, 253 
Brutus, his extortionate usury, i. 203, 204 
Buckle, Thomas, his remarks on morals, 
i. 76, note. On the differences between 
mental and physical pleasures, 92, 
note. His views of the comparative 
influence of intellectual and moral 
agencies in civilisation, 105, note 
Bulgarians, mode of converting the, to 

Christianity, ii. 191 
Bull-baitinR in England, ii. 186, note 
Butler, Bishop, maintains the reality of 
the existence of benevolence in our 



CAT 

nature, i. 20, 21, note. His view of 
the pleasure to be derived from virtne, 
33, note. His analysis of moral judg- 
ments, 77. His view and definition 
of conscience, 85 
Byzantine Empire, general sketch of the 
moral condition of the, ii. 13-15. 
Moral condition of the empire during 
the Christian period, 156 



OJEDMON, story of the origin of his 
* Creation of the World,' ii. 217 

Caesar, Julius, denies the immortally 
of the soul, i. 191, 192. His con- 
demnation of suicide, 224. His colonial 
policy, 246. His multiplication of 
gladiatorial shows, 289 

CaUgula, his intoxication with his im- 
perial dignity, i. 274. His supersti- 
tious fears, 390 

Calvinists: tendency of the Supral^H 
sarian to deny the existence of a monl 
sense, i. 18, note 

Camma, conjugal fidelity of, iL 361 

Capital punishment, aversion to, ii. 41. 

Carlyle, Thomas, on self-sacrifice, L 68, 
note. The infiuence of conscience on 
the happiness of men, 64 

Carneades, his expulsion firom Rome 
proposed by Cato, i. 424 

Carpocrates, licentiousness of the fol- 
lowers of, i. 443 

Carthage, effect of the destruction of, on 
the decadence of Rome, i. 177. The 
Decian persecution at, 480 

Carthaginians, the, amongst the most 
prominent of Latin writers, L 248 

Cassius, the tyrannicide, his suicide, L 
226 

Castellio, his exposure of the foigeries 
of the Sibylline books, i 401 

Catacombs, the, i. 481, 483 

Catholicism, Roman, the system of edu- 
cation adopted by, contrasted with 
that of the English public sdKmls, 
i. 118. Confiict of the priesta with 
political economista on the subject of 
early marriages, 1 1 8, 1 1 9. The teach- 
ing of, on many points the extreme 
antithesis of that of the paoan philo- 
sophers, 219. Its view of death, 220, 
221. Little done by it for humanity 
to animals, ii. 183, 188. Influence on 
despotism, 198. Its total destruction of 
relijfious liberty, 206-212. Causes of 
its indifference to truth in its litera- 
ture, 255. Protestantism contzasted 
with it, 390 



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INDEX. 



401 



CAT 

Cato, his refusal to coneult the oracles, 
i. 174, note. His Stoicism, 195. His 
inhumanitv to his slavesr 203. His 
study of the ' Phsedon* the night he 
committed stiicide, 224. His oppo- 
sition to Greek philosophy, 248. His 
view of pre-niiptial chastity, ii. 382 

Cattle plague, theological notions re- 
specting the, i. 379. 

Catullus, op the death of a sparrow, ii. 
176, note 

Cautinus, Bishop, his drunkenness, ii. 
250 

Celibacy among the ancients, i. 109. 
The Catholic monastic system. 111. 
How discouraged by Augustus, 245. 
Celibacy the primal virtue of the 
Christians of the fourth and fifth 
centuries, ii. 130. Effect of this upon 
moral teadiing, 130, 131. History 
of the celibacy of the clergy, 347- 
356 

Celsus calls the Christians Sibyllists, i. 
400. And juffglers, 408 

Celts, Spanish, £eir worship of death, 
i. 217, 218. Causes of their passion 
for suicide, 218, note. Their lamen- 
tations on the birth of men, 218, note 

Censors, Roman, minute supervision of 
the, i. 177 

Character, influence of, on opinion, i. 
181. Governed in a great measure by 
national circumstances, 181. 

Chariot races, passion for, at Constanti- 
nople, ii. 39 

Chanty, a form of self-love, according 
to the Utilitarians, i. 9, and note. 
Impossibility of charity becoming a 
pleasure if practised only with a view 
to that end, 37. The product of 
intellectual culture, 140. Han^e, 
depth, and beauty of the chanty 
of the Stoics, 201. Cicero's emphatic 
assertion of the duty, 253. Exer- 
tions of the Christians in the 
cause of charity, ii. 80, 84. Inade- 
quate place given to this movement 
in history, 90. Christian charity, in 
what it consistB, 78. Laws of the 
Bomans, 78. Pagan examples of 
charity, 83. Noble enthusiasm of the 
Christians in the cause of charity, 83, 
84. Charity enjoined as a matter of 
justice, 86. Theological notions of 
charity, 91, 96, 97. Evils of Catholic 
charity, 98-100. Legends respecting 
the virtue, 260, and note 
Charlemagne, his law respecting Sun- 
day, ii. 259. Fasdnation exercised 

VOL. II. D 



CHR 

by him over the popular imagination, 
287, 288. His pol} gamy, 363 

Charles V., the Emperor, his law against 
besgarn, ii. 104 

Charles Hartel, his defeat of the Ma- 
hommedans at Poictiers, ii. 289 

Charondas, law o^ on second marriages, 
ii. 345 

Chastity, in Utilitarian systems, i. 12, 
51. Sketch of the history of, 106-110. 
The Catholic monastic system. 111. 
Modem judgments of, ii. 299, 300. 
Cato's views, 332. Egyptian views, 
334. Services of the ascetics in en- 
forcing the duty of chastity, 337-339 

Children, charge of murdering infanta 
amon^ the early Christians, i. 444. 
Abortion, ii. 22-26. Infanticide, 26. 
Exposed children — foundlings, 34. 
Institutions of the Bomans for the 
benefit of children, 82 

Chilon, his closing hours, i. 218 

Cholera, theological notions respecting 
the, i. 878. 

Christian and pagan virtues compared, 
i. 200 

Christianity ; distinctions between the 
pagan and Christian conceptions of 
death, i. 219. The importance of 
Christianity not recognised by pagan 
writers, 357. Causes of this, 359. Ex- 
amination of the theory which ascribes 
part of the teaching of the later pagan 
moralists to Christian influence, 361. 
Theory which attributes the conversion 
of Bome to evidences of miracles, 368. 
Opinion of the pagans of the credu- 
lity of the Christiatis, 369. Incapa- 
city of the Christians of the third 
century for judging historic miracles, 
899. And for judging prophecies, 
399, 400. Contemporary miracles 
represented as existing among them, 
401. Christian miracles had probably 
little weight with the pagans, 409. 
Progress of Christianity to what due, 
410, 412. Singular adaptation of it to 
the wanta of the time, 412. Heroism 
it inspired, 415. Explanation of the 
conversion of the Boman Empire, 418. 
Accoun^ of the persecutions of the 
Christians, 420. Beasons why the 
Christians were more persecuted thi n 
the Jews, 428, 431, 433. The first 
cause of the persecution of the Chris- 
tians, 432. Charges of immcotility 
brought against them, 440, Due in 
a great measure to Jews and here- 
tics, 442, 448. The disturbance of 



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402 



INDEX. 



CHR 

domestic Hfe catised by female conrer- 
sioDs, 444. Antipathy of the Romans 
to erery system which employed 
religious terrorism, 447. Chris- 
tian intolerance of pagan worship, 
449. And of diversity of beliefs, 
46 1 -453. Histoxy of the persecutions, 
466. Nero's, 456. Domitian's, 468. 
Condition of the Christians under the 
Antonines, 461. Become profoundly 
obnoxious to the people, 464. Mar- 
cus Aurelius, 467> 469. Introduction 
of Christianity into France, 470, and 
note. Attitude of the rulers towards 
it from M. Aurelius to Decius, 479, 
et seq. Condition of the Church on 
the eve of the Decian persecution, 477. 
Gallus, 482. Valerian, 488. Grallienus, 
484. Erection of churches in the Em- 
pire, 486. Persecutions of Diocletian 
and Galerius, 487. End of the persecu- 
tions, 492. Massacre of Christians in 
Fhrvgia, 493. Moral efficacy of tlie 
Christian sense of sin, ii. 8. Dark 
views of human nature not common in 
the early Church, 6. The penitential 
system, 7. Empire Christianity at- 
tained in eliciting disinterested en- 
thusiasm, 9. Great purity of the early 
Christians, 10-12. The promise of 
the Church for many centuries fidsi- 
fied, 18. The first consequence of 
Christianity a new sense of the sanc- 
tity of human life, 19. Influence in 
the protection of infant life, ^2-34. 
In the suppression of gladiatorial 
shows, 87. Its effect upon persecu- 
tions, 43, et 8c^. The penal code not 
lightened by it, 46. Condemnation 
of suicide, 46. The second con- 
sequence of Christianity to teach uni- 
versal brotherhood, 65. Slavery, 
66-70. Ransom of captives, 76. 
Charity, 78. Exertions of the Chris- 
tians in tiie cause of charity, 80, 84. 
Their exertions when the Empire was 
subverted, 86, 88. Theological no- 
tions concerning insanity, 91-96. 
Almsgiving, 96-98. Beneficial effect 
of Christianity in suppling pure 
images to the imagination, 103. 
Summary of the philan^ropic achieve- 
ments of Christianity, 107. Ways 
in which the ascetic mode of life 
affected both the ideal ^fpe and real- 
ised condition of morals, 130, «^ seq. 
History of the relationsof Christianity 
to the civic virtues, 149. Improve- 
ments effected by Christianity o|i the 



morals of the peo^e, 168, Attitude 
of Christianity to tne barbaiiaiw, 189. 
How it achieved the cfWvenaoB of 
them, 190-192. TBiidency of the 
barbarians to adult^rato it, 192. 
Legends of the conflict between the 
old gods and the new &ith, 19S. 
Fierce hatred of rival seets, aad total 
destruction of religions liberty, 206- 
212. Polytheistic and idolatroos 
ibrm of dnrisdanity in medieval 
timet, 243. The doctxixie of tmigii- 
tory, 246. Benefits confSerred by the 
monasteries, 257-269. The obser- 
vance of Sunday, 269. InflooBce of 
Christianity upon war, 269, 274. 
Upon the consecratioa of •eeular 
rank, 276, et eeq. Upon the condi- 
tion of women, 335, et seq. Strong 
assertion of the equality of obliga- 
tion in marriage, 366, 866. Ra- 
tion of Christianity to the female 
virtues, 379, et seq, 

Chiysippus on the immortality of the 
soul, 1. 192 

ChrysQstom, St., his labours for mooa- 
chism, ii. 118. Bis tzeatment of his 
mother, 140 

Cicero on the evidence of a Divine elft- 
ment within us, i. 67, not*. His de- 
finition of conscience, 86. His con- 
ception of the Deity, 1 72. His opinion 
of the popular beliefe, 173. Instance 
of his love of truth, 186, note. His 
desire for posthumous rqmtatioo, 194, 
note. His declaration as to vutve 
concealing itself from the world, 196. 
His belief in the immortality of the 
soul, 215. His view of deiOh, 216, 
217. His complacency on the ap- 
juroach of deatn, 218. His coacep- 
tion of suicide, 224. His munte- 
nance of the doctrine of univcrval 
brotherhood, 263. How he regarded 
the games of the arena, 302. His 
friendship with his firec^dman Tiro, 
323. His remarks on diarity, iL 84. 
His rules respecting almqgivuig, 98 

Circumcelliones, atrocities of the, ii. 44. 
Their custom of provoking martyr- 
dom, 62 

Civic virtues, predominanoe accorded to, 
in ancient ethics, i. 211 

Civilisation, refining influence oC <n 
taste, L 81. Pleasures oi a erviliBed 
and semi-civilised society eompared, 
89. Views of Mill and Bockle on the 
comparative influence of inteUse- 
tual and moral agencies in, 105, mcU, 



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INpEX. 



403 



CLA 

. Bfi^t of edncatKA in diminifibitig 
cnieltjy and prodncing charity, 140. 
Horal enthuBiasm appropriate to dif- 
ferent stages of civilisation, 142. In- 
crease of veracity with civilisation, 

. 143. Each stage of civilisation specially 
appropriate to some Tirtae, 164 

Clarke, on moral judgments, i 78 

Classical literature, preservation of, ii. 
212. Manner in which it was regarded 
by the church. 213-216 

Claudius, his deli|;ht in gladiatorial 
shows, i. 296. His decree as to slaves, 

. 325 

Claver, Father, his remark on some per- 
sons who had delivered a criminal 
into the hands of justice, i. 42, note, 

Cleanthes, his suicide, i. 224 

Clemency, Seneca's distinction between 
it and pity, i. 199 

Clemens of Alexandria, on the two 
sources of all the wisdom of antiquity, 
i. 366. How he regarded the Si- 
bylline books, 400. On wigs, ii. 158 

Clemens, Flavius, put to death, i. 460 

Cleombrotus, his suicide, i. 224, note 

Clergy, ooiTupdon of the, from the fourth 
century, ii. 159, 261. Submission of 
the Eastern, but independence of the 
Western, clergy to the dvil power, 
280-4. History of their celibacy, 347 

Climate, effects of, in stimulating or 
allaying the passions, i. 161 

Clotaire, his treatment of Queen Bnme- 
haut, ii. 253 

Clotilda, her conversion of her husband, 
1.486; ii. 191 

Clovis, his conyersion i. 436; ii. 191. 
Gregory of Tours* account of his acts, 
254, 255 

Cock-fighting among the ancients and 
modems, ii. 174, and note, 186, note 

Cock-throwing, ii. 174, note^ 186, note 

Coemgenus, St., lesend of, ii. 118, note 

Colerkl^, 8. T., nis remarks on the 
practice of virtue as a pleasure, i. 29, 
note. His admiration for Hartley, 
29, note. On the binding ground of 
the belief of Ck)d and a hereafter, i. 
57 

Colman, St., his animal companions, ii. 
180. His girdle, 388, note 

Colonies, Boman, the cosmopolitan spi- 
rit forwarded by the aggnndisement 
of the, i. 246 

Colosseum, the, i. 291. Games at the 
dedication of the, 297 

Columbanus, St., his miesionaiy labours, 
ii. 261 



con 

Comedy, Roman, short period during 
which it flourished, i. 293 

Comet, a temple erected by the Bomans 
in honour of a, L 391 

Commodus, his treatment of the Chris- 
tians, i. 471 

Compassion, theory that it is the cause 
of our acts of bi&rbarity, L 73, 74 

Concubines, Boman, ii. 370 

Concupiscence, doctrine of the Fathers 
respecting, ii. 298 

CondiUac, cause of the attractiyeness of 
utilitarianism to, i. 73. Growth of 
his sensual school out of Locke's phi- 
losophy, i. 122, note 

Confessors, power of the, in the early 
Church, i. 414, and note 

Congo, Hely^tiuH on a custom of the 
people of, i. 105, note 

Conquerors, causes of the admiration 
of, i. 96, 97 

Conscience, association of ideas generat- 
ing, i. 28. BecQgnised by the disciples 
of Hartley, 29. Definitions of 
Hobbes, Locke, Bentham, and Bain, 
29, note, 30, note. The rewards and 
punishments of conscience, 62-64. 
Unique position of, in our nature, 
85. As defined by Cicero, the Stoics, 
St. Paul, and Butler, 85 

Consequences, remote, weakness of the 
utilitarian doctrine of, i. 43-45 

* Consolations,* literature of, leading to- 
pics of, i. 215 

Constantine, the Emperor, his founda- 
tion of the empire of the East, ii. 13. 
His humane policy towards children, 
31, 32. His sanction of the gladia- 
torial shows, 37. His laws miti- 
gating the severity of punishments, 
45. His treatment of slaves, 68. His 
law respecting Sunday, 259. Magni- 
ficence of his court at Constantinople, 
280 

Conventual system, effect of the sup- 
pression of the, on women, ii. 391 

Cordeilla, or Cordelia, her suicide, iu 
57 

Corinth, efiect of the conquest of, on 
the decadence of Home, i. 177 

Cornelia, a vestal virgin, incident of 
her execution, ii. 336 

Cornelius, the bishop, martyrdom of, i. 
483 

Comutus, his disbelief in a future 
state, i. 193 

Corporations, moral qualities o^ i. 160 

Councils of the Church, character of 
the, ii. 209, note 



D D 2 



Digitized by LjOOQlC 



404 



INDEX. 



cou 

Courtesans, Greek, ii. 803. Causes of 
their eleTation, 308-311. How re- 
garded by the Bomans, 318 

Cousin, Victor, his criticism of the 
Scotch moralists, i. 76, note. His 
objection against Locke, 76, twie 

Crantor, originstes the literature of 
'Consolations,' i. 215 

Cremutius Cordus, trial of, i. 476, note 

Crime, yalue attached by the monks to 
pecuniary compensations for, ii. 226. 
Catalogue of crimes of the seyenth 
century, 251-253 

Criminals, causes of our indulgent 
judgment of, i. 141 

Critical spirit, the, destroyed by Neo- 
platonism, i. 360 

Cromaziano, his history of suicide, i. 
228, note 

Cruelty, origin and Tarieties of, i. 138, 
140. Cruelty to animals, utilitarian 
doctrine concerning, 47, 48 

Crusius, his adherence to the opinion of 
Odcham as to the foundation of the 
moral law, L 17, note 

Cudworth, his analysis of moral judg- 
ments, i. 77 

Cullagium, a tax leyied on the clergy, 
ii. 349 

Cumberland, Bishop, his unselfish view 
of virtue, i. 19 note 

Cynics, account of the later, i. 328 

Cyprian, St., his evasion of persecution 
by flight, i. 481. His exile and 
martyrdom, 484 

Cyzicus deprived of its freedom, L 274 



D.£MONS, Apuleius' disquisition on 
the doctrine of, i. 343. The doc- 
trine supersedes the Stoical natural- 
ism, i. 351. The deemons of the 
Greeks and Romans, i. 404. And of 
the Christians, 405 
Dale, Van, his denial of the superna- 
tural character of the oracles, i. 398 
Dead, Roman worship of the, i. 176 
Death, calmness with which some men 
of dull and animal natures can meet, 
i. 91. Frame of mind in which a 
man should approach death, accord- 
ing to Epictetus, 205. Preparation 
for death one of the chief ends of the 
philosophy of the ancients, 2 1 3. Ba- 
con's objection to the Stoics' view of, 
2 1 3. The Irish legend of the islands 
of life and death, 214. The litera- 
ture of * Consolations,' 215. Death 
not regarded by the philosophers as 



DOW 

penal, 216. PopuUr tenon oidmihg 

216,217. Instances of tranquil pagan 

deaths, 218. Distinctions betweem 

the pagan and Christian conceptions 

of death, 219 
Debate, value of the practice of, i. 

145 
Decius, persecution of the ChiiMiaiis 

under, i. 477, 478 
Dc^oe, Daniel, his tract against beggars, 

iL 104, and note 
Delphi, oracle of, its description of ttt9 

best religion, L 175 
Deogratias, his ransom of prisoners, iL 

77 
Despotic mooarchs, shape which thev 

anxiety to improve mankind takes, L 

265 
Despotism, Helvitius* remarks on the 

moral effects of^ i. 135, note. In what 

it consists, ii. 276 
Diagoras, his denial of the ezistenea of 

the gods, i. 170 
Dion Chrysostom, his denunciation of 

images of the Deity, i. 174, 176, 

note. His life and works, 331 
Diodorus, the philosopher, his suicide, 

I 227 
Dionysius of Halicamassus, on the creed 

of the Romans, i. 175, 176 
Disinterestedness, Bentham's remarks 

on, quoted, L 32, 33, note 
Disposition, what constitutes, according 

to the theory of association, L 30 
Divination, a &Tourite subject of Roman 

ridicule, i. 174. Belief of the ancieats 

in, 386 
Divorce, unbounded liberty of^ among 

the Romans, ii. 324-326. Con- 
demned bj the Churdi, 371, 372 
Docetse, their tenets, ii. 109 
DiM^-star, legend of the, ii. 172 
Dolphin, legends of the, ii. 172, and 

note 
Domestic laws, Roman, chapges in, L 

315, 316 
Domestic virtues, destruction of the, by 

the ascetics, ii. 133 
Domitilla, banishment of^ i. 460 
Domitian, his law respecting suicide, L 

230. Anecdote of his cniel^, 306. 

His law as to slaves, 326. His per* 

secution of the Stoics and Christians, 

458, 459 
Domnina, her suicide with her dao^ 

ters, ii. 49 
Donatists, their intolerance, ii. 207 
Dowrr of women, rise of the, ii. 293, 

and lu^ 



Digitized by LjOOQlC 



INDEX. 



405 



PRB 

Breams, opinionfl of the BomaDB con- 
eerning, i. 390, and note 

Dtnnont, M., on rengeance quoted, i. 42, 
note 

Duty, theory of morals must explain 
what is, and the notion of there being 
such a thing as, i. 6. Faley on the 
diffiBrence between it and prudence, 
16, note. Distinction between natural 
duties and those resting on positive 
law, 96. Duty a distinct motive, 189 

Dwarfs, combats of, in the arena, L 298 



EARTHQUAKES, how regarded by 
the ancients, i. 392. Cause of 
persecutions of the Christians, 434 

Easter controyeray, bitterness of the, 
ii. 211 

Eclectic school of philosophy, rise of 
the, i. 265. Its innuence on the Stoics, 
268 

Eclipses, opinions of the ancients con- 
cerning, 1. 389, 390 

Education, importance ascribed to, by 
the theory of the association of ideas, 
i. 80. Contrast between that adopted 
by the Catholic priesthood and that 
of the English public schools, 118. 
Its influence on the benevolent feel- 
ings, 139, 140. Two distinct the- 
ories of education, to strengthen the 
will and to guide the desires, 197 

E(m>t, the cradle of monachism, ii. 112. 
Toe Mohammedan conquest of, 162. 
Triumphs of the CathoHcs in, 208 

B^gyptians, their reverence for the vul- 
ture, i. Ill, note. Their kindness to 
aniinals, 307. Contrast of the spirit 
of their religion with that of the 
Greeks, 844. Difference between the 
Stoical and Egvptian pantheism, 344 

Elephants, Ifgei^ of^ ii. 171 

Emperors, ^man, degradation of the 
apotheosis of the, i. 178, 272 

Empire, universal, dan^;ers of, L 280 

Endura, the Albigensian practice of, 
ii. 63 

England, national virtues and vices of, 
i. 160, 161. Ancient amusements 
of, ii. 186, 186, note, 

Ephrem, SL, his charit;^, ii. 86 

Epictetus, his disbelief in a fature state, 
L 193. His life and works, 193, 194, 
and note. On the fnme of mind in 
which a man should approach death, 
206. His view of the natural virtue 
of man, 208. On suicide, 226, 232, 
mote. On universal brotherhood, 264. 



EVI 

His stoicism tempered by a milder 
and more religious spirit, 268, 260. 
His remarks on national religious 
beliefs, 431 
Epicureans, their faith preserved un- 
changed at Athens, i. 134, and note. 
Their scepticism, 170. Roman Epi- 
cureans, 170, 171. Epicureanism 
the expression of a type of character 
different to Stoicism, 180, 181. But 
never became a school of virtue in 
Rome, 184. Destructive nature of 
its Amctions, 186, 186. Esteemed 
pleasure as the ultimate end of our 
actions, 196. Encouraged physical 
science, 203. Their doctrine as to 
suicide, 226, and note 

Epicurus, the four canons of, i. 14. 
Vast place occupied by his system in 
the moral history of man, 1 80. Great 
perfection of his character, 184, 186, 
note, Lucretius' praise of him, 207. 
His view of death, 216. Recent dis- 
covery of one of his treatises at Her- 
culaneum, 216, mote 

Ej^idemics, theological notions respect- 
ing, i. 378 

Epiphanius, St., his miraculous stories, 
i. 402. His charges against the 
Gnostics, 443. Legend of him and 
St Hilarius, iL 169 

i^ponina, story of her conjugal fidelity, 
ii. 362 

Error, the notion of the guilt of, con- 
sidered abstractedly, ii. 202-5 

Essenes, virginity their ideal of sanc- 
tity, i. 112; ii. 108 

Euhemerus, his theory of explanation 
of the prevailing legends of the gods^ 
i. 171 

Euphrates the Stoic, his answer to 
Pliny the Younger, i. 212. Has per- 
mission from Hadrian to commit sui- 
cide, 230, note 

Euphraxia, St., ii. 117 

Euripides, beauty of the gentler virtues 
inculcated by the plays of, i. 240 

Europe, disappearance of the small 
states fh>m the map of, i. 166 

Eusebius, on the allegorical and m^rthical 
interpretations of Paganism, i. 171, 
note. His account of the Christian 
persecutions, i. 492 

Eusebius, St., his penances, ii. 1 16 

Eustathius, condemnation of, by the 
council of Gangra, ii. 140 

Evagrius, his inhumanity to his parents, 
ii. 133 

Evil, views of Hobbes and the Utili- 



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40« 



INDEi. 



EXC 

tarians of the essence and origin o( 
i. 8-10 

Excellence, supreme, how far it is condu- 
cive to happiness, i. 57 

Excommunication, penalties o^ ii. 8 

Excursion train, instance of the advan- 
tages and disadyantages of an, i. 120, 
121 

Executioners, always regarded as un- 
holy, i. 41 

Exorcism, among the early Christians, 
i: 401, 404. Origin of the notions of 
possession and exorcism, 404. Jews 
the principal exorcists, 404. Belief of 
the early Christians in, 406. Con- 
tempt of the pagans for it, 408. 
Ulpian's law against exorcists, 408. 
Probable explanation of possession 
and exorcism, 409. Speedy dedine of 
exorcism, 409. The practice probably 
had no appreciable infiaence in pro- 
Toking persecution of the Christians, 
446 

Experience, general statement of the 
doctrine which bases morals upon, 
i. 6 

FABIANUS, martyrdom of, i. 476 
Fabiola, founded the first public 

hospital, ii. 85 
Fabius, his self-sacrifice, i. 195 
Fabius Fictor, his works written in 

Greek, i. 243 
Faculty, moral, the term, i. 77 
Fairies, belief in, i. 370, 871 
Fatalism, ^schylus the poet of, i. 206 
Felicitas, St., her martyrdom, i. 472. In 

prison, ii. 10 
F^nelon, on the unselfish love we should 

bear to Qt)d, i. 19, note 
Fetishism, latent, the root of a great 

Sart of our opinions, i. 372 
ene, accident at the amphitheatre at, 
i. 291 

Fights, sham, in Italy in the middle 
ages, ii. 40 

Fire, regarded by the ancients as an 
emblem of virginity, i. Ill, note 

Fish, symbol of the early Christians, i. 
400 

Flamens of Jupiter, ii. 815 

Flora, games of, i. 292 

Forethought, brought into a new posi- 
tion by industrial habits, i. 147 

Foundling, hospitals for, ii. 25, note, 34. 
In ancient times, 30, 31. Adversa* 
ries o( 105, and note 

France, condition of, under the Merovin- 
gian kings, ii. 250 



OLA 

Francis of Assist, St, stoiy of his death 
from asceticism, ii. 52. His kindness 
to animals, 188 

Franks, cause of their conrcrsion, L 
436 

FrM^nde, Queen, her crimes, ii. 250, 
251 

Freedmen, influence of, at Borne, i. 246. 
Condition of the freedmen of the 
Romans, 249 

Frenchmen, the chief national virtues 
and causes of their influence in Europe, 
i. 160. Compared with Anglo-Saxoa 
nations, 160. Their amusements, 110 

Friendship, Utilitarian view o^ i. 10 



GALERIUS, his persecution of the 
Christians, i. 487, 490. His Hlness, 
491. Belents towards the Chrisdaaa, 
491 

Giililseans, their indi£forence to death, u 
417, note 

Gall, St., legend of, ii. 194. His mis- 
sionary labours, 261 

Gallienus, proclaims toleration to the 
Christians, i. 484, 486 

Gallus, the Emperor, ^persecutions of 
the Christians under, i. 482 

Gambling-table, moral influence of the, 
i. 155 

Gaul, introduction of Christianity iirto, 
i. 470. Foundation of the monastic 
system in, ii. 113. Long continuance 
of polygamy among the kings of, 
363 

Gay, his view of the origin of human 
actions, quoted, i. 8, note. His sug- 
gestion of the theory of associatioD, 
24 

George of Cappadocia, his barbarity, iL 
208 

Genseric, effect of his conquest of Afincs 
upon Italy, ii. 87. His capture of 
Home, 88 

Germanicus, the Emperor, fury of the 
populace with the gfxls, in consequence 
of the death of, L 178 

Germanus, St., his charity, ii. 260 

Germany, conversion of, to Christianity, 
ii. 261. Marriage customs of the 
early Germans, 294. Their diastitj, 
360,361 

Gervasius, St., recovery of his remains, 
i. 403 

Girdles of chastity, iL 338, note 

Gladiatorial shows, influence of Chris- 
tianity on the suppression d, i. 37. 
Reasons why the Romans saw aa- 



Digitized by LjOOQlC 



INDEX. 



407 



thing criminal in them, 104. History 
and effect on the Romans of, 287-300. 
How regarded by moralists and histo- 
rians, 301. The passion for them not 
inconsistent with hmnanity in other 
spheres, 305 

Gnostics, accusations against the, bj the 
early fathers, i 443. Their tenets, \L 
, 109 

GKxi, the Utilitarian riew of the good- 
ness of, i. 9, and note. Question of 
the disinterestedness of Uie love we 
should bear to, 18, 19. ' Our know- 
ledge of Him derived £rom our own 
moral nature, 57. £arly traces of an 
all-pervading soul of nature in Greece, 
169,170. Philosophic definitions of 
the Deity, 170, note. Pantheistic con- 
ception of by the Stoics and Pla- 
tonists, 171. Recognition of Pro- 
vidence by the Roman moralists, 
207. Two aspects under which the 
Stoics worshipped the Divinity — pro- 
vidence and moral goodness, 208 

Gods, the, of the ancients, i. 169, et 
seq. Euhemerus' theory of the ex- 
planation of the prevailing legends 
of the gods, 171. Views of Cicero 
of tiie popular belieflB, 173. Opinions 
of the Stoics, of Ovid, and of Horace, 
174. Nature of the gods of th 
Romans, 176. Decline of Roman 
reverence for the gods, 177, 178 

Good, pleasure equivalent to, according 
to the Utilitarians, i. 8, note, 9 

Gracchi, colonial policy of the, i. 246 

Grazers, sect of, h. 116 

Chreeks, ancient, their callous murder of 
children, i. 46, 47. Low state of 
female morality among them, 107. 
Their enforcement of monogamy, 
107. Theb view of the sanctity of 
chastity, 108, 109. Celibacy of some 
of their priests and priestesses, 
109. Early traces of a religion of 
nature, 169. Universal providence 
attributed to Zeus, 169. Scepticism 
of the philosophers, 169, 170. Im- 
portance of biography and the 
moral teaching of the, 183. Dif- 
ference between the teaching of the 
Roman moralists and the Greek 
poets, 206. Their fiiibles on death, 
and scenes of infernal torments, 
216, 217. Greek suicides, 224. 
Gentleness and humanity of the 
Greek character, 240. Influence of 
the union of the Greek and Roman 
civilisation on the Roman character, 



HAP 

240, 241. The Greek spirit at first 
as far removed from cosmopolitanism 
as that of Rome, 241. Causes of 
Greek cosmopolitanism, 242. Ex- 
tent of Greek influence at Rome, 242. 
Gladiatorial shows among them, 292. 
Spirit of their religion contrasted 
with that of the Egyptians, 344. 
Their strong intolerance of foreign 
religions, 432. Condition and fall of 
their empire of the East, ii. 13-16* 
Their practice of infanticide, 27-29. 
Their treatment of animals, 174. 
Their treatment of prisoners taken 
in war, 272, 273. Their marriage 
customs, 293. Women in the poetic 
age, 294. Peculiarity of Greek feel- 
ing on the position of women, 29 7» 
298. Unnatural forms assumed by 
vice amongst them, 311 

Gregory the Great, his contempt for 
Pagan literature, ii. 213, note. His 
attitude towards Phocas, 279 

Gi^ory of Nyssa, St, his eulogy of 
virginity, ii. 342 

Gregory of Tours, manner in which he 
regarded events, ii. 254-256, 277 

Grotesque, or eccentric, pleasure derived 
from the, compared with that from 
beauty, i. 87 

Gundebald, his murders approved of by 
his bishop, ii. 251 

Gunpowder, importance of the invention 
of, i. 131 

Guy, Brother, his society for protection 
and education of children, li. 35, and 
note 

HADRIAN, the Emperor, his view of 
suicide, i. 230. Gives Euphrates 
permission to destroy himself, 230, 
note. His laws respecting slaves, 
326. His leniency towards Christian- 
ity, 466. His benevolence, ii. 82 

Hair, false, opinions of the Fathers on, 
ii. 158 

Hall, Robert, on theological Utilita- 
rianism, i. 16, note 

* Happiness, the greatest, for the greatest 
number,' theory of the, i. 8. The 
pursuit of the, of others, Hutcheson*s 
theory of, revealed to us by a * moral 
sense,' 4. Happiness the sole end of 
human actions, according to the Utili- 
tarians, 8, note. The best man seldom 
the happiest, 70. Mental compared 
with physical happiness, 90. Influ- 
ence of health ana temperament on 
happiness, 90, and note 



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406 



INDEX. 



HAB 

Hartlej, his doctrine of associatioD, i. 
23. Coleridge's admiration for him, 
29, note. On animal food, 50, note. 
His attempt to evade the conclusion 
to which his view leads, quoted, 68, 
note. His definition of conscience, 84 

Hegesias, the orator of death, i. 227 

HeliogHbalns, his blasphemous orgies, 
i. 276 

Hell, monkish Tisionsof, ii. 234, 253, note. 
Glimpses of the infernal regions fur- 
nish^ bj the 'Dialogues ' of St. 
Gregory, 235. Modem publications 
on this subject, 237, note 

Helv^tius, on the origin of human 
actions, i. 8, note. On customs of 
the people of Congo and Siam, 
105, note. Compared with Aulus 
Gellius, 332. Account of him and 
his works, 333 

Herbert of Cherbury, Lord, his profes- 
sion of the doctrine of innate ideas, i. 
128 

Hercules, meaning of, according to the 
Stoics, i. 171 

Hereford, Nicholas of, his opposition to 
indiscriminate alms, ii. 102 

Heresy, punishment of death for, i. 100 ; 
ii. 48 

Hermits. See Asceticism ; Monasticism 

Heroism, the Utilitarian theory unfa- 
vourable to, i. 68. "War, the school of 
heroism, 182 

Hilarius, St., legend of him and St. 
Epiphanius, ii. 169 

Hildebrand, his destruction of priestly 
marriage, ii. 351 

Hippopotamus, legend of the, ii. 171 

Historical literature, scantiness of, after 
the fall of the Boman empire, ii. 249 

Hobbes. Thomas, his opinions concern- 
ing the essence and origin of virtue, i. 
7, 8, note. His view of the origin of 
human actions, quoted, 8, note. His 
remarks on the goodness which we 
apprehend in God, quoted, 9, note. 
Ajid on reverence, 9, note. On charity, 
9, 10, note. On pity, lOy note. Re- 
view of the system of morals of his 
school, 11. His the first great im- 

Eulse to moral philosophy in £ng- 
ind, 19, note. His extreme selfish- 
ness in morals, 19, note. His denial 
of the reality of the existence of 
benevolence, 20, 21. His definition 
of conscience, 29, note. His theory of 
compassion, 74, note 
Holidays, importance of, to the servile 
classes, ii. 258 



nu 

Homer, his views of human natare and 
man's will, i. 206 

Horace, his ridicule of idols, i. 174. 
His description of the just man, 207 

Hospitality ei^oined by the Romans, iL 
84 

Hospitals, foundation of the first, iL 85, 
86 

Human life, its sancti^ recognised by 
Christiani^, ii. 19. Gzadu^ aoqnin- 
ment of this sense, 19 

Human nature, £iLBe estimate of, of the 
Stoics, i. 202. Composition ot 202 

Hume, David, his theory of virtue, L 4^ 
Misrepresented by many writers, 4. 
His recognition of the r«dity of bene- 
volence in our nature, 20, 2 1, note. His 
comment on French licentiousness in 
the eighteenth century, 51, note. His 
analysis of the moral judgments, 78. 
Lays the foundation for a union of 
the schools of Clarke and Shaftes- 
bury, 78 

Humility, new value placed upon it by 
monachism, ii. 196, 199 

Hutcheson, Francis, his doctrine of a 
* moral sense,' i. 4. Establishes the 
reality of the existence of benevolsDoe 
in our nature, 20. His analysis ci 
moral judgments, 78 

Hypatia, miuder of, iL 208. A rii^n 
wife, 834 



IAMBLICHUS, his phUoeophy, L 
351 
Ideas, confused association of, and 
the anomalies arising from it, i. 96, 
97. Question whether our, are derived 
exclusively from sensation or whether 
they spring in part from the mind it- 
self, 127. The latter theory repre- 
sented by the Platonic doctrine of 
pre-existence, 127. Doctrine of in- 
nate ideas, 127 
Idols and idolatry, views of the Roman 
philosophers of, L 174. Discussion 
oetween Apollonius of Tyana and an 
£k;yptian priest respecting, 174, uotr. 
l£>ls forbidden by Numa, 175, note, 
Plutarch on the vanity of, 175, nota 
Ignatius, St., his martyrdom, i. 465 
Ignis fatuus, legend of the, ii. 238, noU 
Imagination, sins of, i. 46. Relation of 
the benevolent feelings to it, 138, 1S9. 
Deficiency of imagination the caiiss 
of the great minority of unchari- 
table ju^ments, 140-142. Feeble- 
ness df the imagination a source of 



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INDEX, 



409 



IMP 

Imndfl and myths, 372. Beneficial 
effects of Christianity in supplying 
pure images to the imagination, ii. 
106 

Imperial system of the Romans, its 
effect on their morals, L 272. Apo- 
theosis of the emperors, 272 

India, ancient, admiration for the schools 
of, i. 242 

InductiTe, ambiguity of the tenn, as 
applied to morals, i. 75 

Industrial truth, characteristics of, i. 
144. Influence of the promotion of 
industrial life upon morals, 145-147 

In£ftnticide, history of the practice of, 
ii. 26. Efforts of the Chiuch to sup- 
press it, 31. Roman laws relating 
to, 33. Causes of, in England, 302 

Infants, Augustinian doctrine of the 
damnation of unbaptized, i. 98, 99. 
The Sacrament given to, in the early 
Church, ii. 6 

Insanity, alleged increase of, iL 64. 
Theological notions concerning, 91. 
The fli^ lunatic asylums, 92 
Insurance societies among the poor of 

Greece and Rome, ii. 83 
Intellectual progress, its relations to 

moral progress, i. 156-158 
Interest, self-, human actions governed 
exclusively by, according to the 
Utilitarians, i. 8, and note. Summary 
of the relations of virtue and public 
and private, 121 

Intuition, rival claims of, and utility to 
be regarded as the supreme regulator 
of moral distinctions, i. 1 , 2. Various 
names by which the theory of intui- 
tion is known, 2, 3. Views of the 
moralists of the school of, 3. Summary 
of their objections to the utilitarian 
theory, i. 70. The intuitive school, 
75, 76. Doctrines of Butler, Adam 
Smith, and others, 77-79. Analop^es 
of beauty and virtue, 79. Disi me- 
lons between the higher and lower 
parts of our nature, 85. Moral judg- 
ments, and their alleged diversities, 
93. General moral principles alone 
revealed by intuition, 102. Intuitive 
morals not unprogressive, 105, 106. 
Difficulty of both the intuitive and 
utilitarian schools in finding a fixed 
frontier line between the lawful and 
the illicit, 120, 121. The intuitive 
and utilitarian schools each related 
to the general condition of society, 
127. Their relations to metaphysical 
schools, 128, 129. And to the Ba- 



JIW 

oonian philosophy, 130. Contrasts 
between ancient and modem civilisa- 
tions, 131, 132. Practical conse- 
quences of the opposition between 
the two schools, 133 

Inventions, the causes which accelerate 
the progress of society in modern 
times, L 131 

Ireland, why handed over by the Pope 
to England, ii. 230 

Irensus, his belief that all Christians 
had the power of working miracles, 
i.402 

Irish, characteristics of the, i. 144-145. 
Their early marriages and national 
improvidences, 153. Absence of moral 
scandals among the priesthood, 153. 
Their legend of the islands of life and 
death, 214. Their missionary labours, 
ii. 26 1 . Their perpendicular burials, 
268 

Isidore, St., legend of, iL 217 

Isis, worship of, at Rome, i. 411. Sup- 
pression of the worship, 427, 428 

It^ans,chaTacteristicsofthe,i,144, 145, 
151 

Italy, gigantic development of mendi- 
cancy in, ii. 104. Introduction of 
monachism into, 113 



JAMES, the Apostle, Eusebius* account 
of him, ii. Ill 

James, St, of Venice, his kindness to 
animals, ii. 182 

Jenyns, Soame, his adherence to the 
opinion of Ockham, i. 1 7* note 

Jerome, St., on exorcism, i. 406. On 
the clean and unclean animals in the 
ark. ii. 111. Legend of, 123. En- 
couraged inhumanity of ascetics to 
their relations, 143. His legend of 
SS. Paul and Antony, 167 

Jews, their law regulating marriage 
and permirting polygamy, i. 106. 
Their treatment of suicides, 2Z0, note. 
Influence of their manners and creed 
at Rome, 248, 360. Became the prin- 
cipal exorcists, 404, 405, note. Spread 
of their creed in Rome, 410. Reasons 
why thev were persecuted less than 
the Christians, 428, 433. How re- 
garded by the pagans, and how the 
Christians were regarded by the Jews, 

442. Chaiges of immorality brought 
against the Christians by the Jews, 

443. Domitian*s taxation of them, 
459. Their views of the position of 
women, ii. 357 



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410 



INDEX. 



JOF 

Jofifre, Ja&n GKlaberto, his foondatton of 
a lunfttic asyltim in Valencia, ii. 95 

John, St., at ratmos, i. 460 

John, St, of Calama, story of, ii. 186 

John XXUL, Pope, ms crimes, ii 
850 

Johnson, Dr., his adherence to the 
oplnioa of Ockham, i. 17, note 

Jnban, the Emperor, his tranqnil deatfr, 
i. 219, and not&. Befnses the lan- 
guage of adulation, 274. His attempt 
to resuscitate paganism, 861. Attitude 
of ' the Church towards him, iL 277* 
Joy at his death, 278 

Julien raospitalier, St, legend of, ii. 89, 
noU 

Jupiter Ammon, fountain of^ deemed 
miraculous, i. 389, and note 

Justinian, his laws respecting slavery, 
ii. 69 

Justin Martyr, his recognition of the 
excellence of manyparts of the pagnu 
writings, i. 365. ms ' seminal logos,* 
365. On the Sibylline books, 400. 
Cause of his conversion to Christian- 
ity, 441. His martyrdom, 469 

Juvenal, on the natural virtue of miin, 
l207 



KAMES, Lord, on our moral judg- 
ments, i. 78. Notices the analo- 
^ps between our moral and aesthcftical 
judgments, 79 
King's evil, ceremony of touching for 
the^ i. 886, note 



LABIENUS, his works destroyed, i. 
476, note 

liactantiua, character of his treatise, 
i. 493 

Lietorius, story of, i. 273 

Laughing condemned by the monks of 
the desert, ii. 122, note 

Law, Boman, greaf ly extended by Stoic- 
ism, i. 312. Recognised a law of 
nature, 312. Its principles of equity 
derived from Stoicism, 318. Its 
ffolden age not Christian, but pagan, 
li. 44 

Lawyers, position occupied by, in litera- 
ture at the present time, i. 137, note 

Leveies forbidden to the dergy, ii. 160. 
Power of making bequests to the 
clergy enlarged by Constantine, 228 

Leibnitz, on the natural or innate 
powers of man, i. 125, note 

Leo the Isaurian, Pope, his compact 



MAC 

with Pepin, ii. 282. Aocooot of hin^ 
282 

Leonardb da Vinci, his kindneas to 
animals, ii. 183, note 

licentiousness, French, Home's com- 
ments on, i. 51, note 

Literature, revolution in the aaeendan^ 
in, taking place in England, i. 136. 
note. Position occupied by lawyers 
in literature, 137, note. The monas- 
teries considered as a receptacle of 
literature, ii. 216 

Locke, John, his view of moral fpood 
and moral evil, quoted, L S, note, 
HistheokMpcalstiHtarianism, 16, note. 
His view of the sanctions of morality, 
20. His invention of the phrase 
* association of ideas,' 23. His 
definiUon of conscience, 30, note. 
Cousin^s objections against him, 76, 
note. His refutation of tlie doctrine 
of a natural moral mnse, 128, 129. 
Controversies as to his meaning on 
this point, 128, note, Bise of the 
sensujd sdiool out of his philosophy, 
l2S,note. Famous fomiitlazy of mm 
school, 129 

Lombard, Peter, character of his 'Sen- 
tences,' ii. 240. Hia visiona of hea- 
ven and hell, 241 

Longinus, his suicide, i. 231 

Love terms in G-reek, in vogue with the 
Romans, i. 244, note 

Loyalty, the earliest fonn of moral 
enthusiasm, i. 142 

Lucan, failure of his courage under 
torture, i. 204. His sycophani^^ 
204. His cosmopolitanism, 264 

Lucius, the bishop, martyrdom of^ i. 
483 

Lucretius, his scepticism, i. 171. His 
disbelief in the immortality of the 
soul, i. 192, note. His praise of 
Epicurus, 207. His suicide, 226. 
On a bereaved cow, ii. 175 

Lunatic asylums, the first, ii. 64 

Luther's wife, her remark on the sen- 
suous creed she had left, i. 53 

Lyons, persecution of the Christians at, 
i. 469 



MACAIinJS,St, miracle attributed to, 
ii. 42. His penances, 115,116. Le- 
gend of his visit to an enchanted 
garden, 168. Other legends of him, 
168, 169, 181, 233 
Macedonia, efiect of the conquest o^ on 
the decadence of Home, i. 177 



Digitized by LjOOQlC 



INDEX. 



411 



MAO 

MaeldntoBh, Sb Jamas, theory of morals 
advocated bj, i. 6. Fascination of 
Hartley's doctrine of association oyer 
his mind, 29 

Maerina C^a, her rolenoe to 

children, ii. 82 

Miicrinns, persuades the Emperor 
Valerian to persecute the Christians, 
i. 488 

Magdalen asylums, adversaries o( ii. 
105, and note 

Mahommedans, their condemnation of 
suicide, ii. 66. Produces lunatic 
aeylums, 94. Their r^igion, 266. 
Effects of their military triumphs on 
Christianity, 267 

Mallonia, yirtue of, ii. 327 

Malthus, on charity, ii. 97, note 

Mandevillej his * Enquiry into the Ori- 
gin of Moral Virtue.' His thesis that 
'private yices are public benefits,* 
7. His opposition to charity schools, 
ii. 104 

Manicheans, their tenets, ii. 109. llieir 
prohibition of animal food, 177 

Manilius, his conception <^ the Deity, i. 
172 

Manufactures, influence upon morals, i. 
145 

Marcellinus, TuUius, his self-destruc- 
tion, i. 234 

Marcia, mistress of Commodus, her in- 
fluence in behalf of toleration to the 
Christians, i. 471 

Marcian, St., l^eind of the visit of St. 
Aritus to him, ii. 169 

MArcus, St., story of, and his mother, ii. 
137 

Marriage, how regarded by the Jews, 
Ghreeks, Romans, aikt Catholics,!. 106, 
107. Statins' picture of the first night 
of marriage, 111, note, Reason why 
the ancient Jews attached a certain 
stigma to virginity, 112. Confiictof 
views of the Catholic priest and the 
political economist on the subject of 
early marriages, 118. Results in 
some countries of the difficulties with 
which legislators surround marriage, 
151. Ef^ly marriages l^e most con- 
spicuous proofs of Insh improridence, 
151. Influence of asceticism on, ii. 
839. Notions of its impurity, 343. 
Second marriages, 343 

Marseilles, law of, respecting suicide, i. 
280, note. Epidemic of suicide among 
the women of, ii. 58 

Martial, sycophancy of his epigrams, i. 
204 



MfR 

Martin of Tours, St., establishes mona- 
chism in GtMil, ii. 113 

Martyrdom, glories of, to tho early 
Christian, i. 415. Festivals of the 
martyiB, 415, note. Passion for, 416. 
Dissipation of the people at the fes- 
tivals, ii. 159 

Mary, St, of Egypt, ii. 118 

Mary, the Virgin, veneration of the, \U 
389, 390 

Massilians, wine forbidden to women 
by the, i. 96, note. 

Maternal affection, strength of, ii. 27, 
note. 

Maurioe, Mr., on the social penalties of 
conscience, i. 62, note. 

Mauricius, Junius, his reftisal to allow 
gladiatorial shows at Vienna, i. 303 

Mdkentius, instance of his tyranny, ii. 
49. 

Maximilianus, his martyrdom, ii. 263 

Maximinius, Emperor, his persecution 
of the Christians, i. 472 

Majdmus of Tyr, account of him and 
his discourses, i. 381. His defence of 
the ancient creeds, 343. Practical 
form of his philosophy, 849 

Medicine, possible progress of, i. 166, 
167 

Melania, St., her bereavement, iL 10. 
Her pilgrimage through the Syrian 
and Egyptian hermitages, 128 

Milesians, wine forbidden by the, to 
women i. 96, note 

Military honour pre-eminent among the 
Romans,i.l81,182. History of the de- 
cadence of Roman military virtue, 284 

Mill, J., on association, 25, note et seq. 

Mill, J. S., quoted, i. 8, 80, 49, 92, 105 

Minerva, meaning of, according to the 
Stoics, i. 171 

Miracles, general incredulity on the sub- 
ject of, at the present time, i. 868, 
370. Miracles not impossible, 368. 
EstablishfKl by much evidence, 369. 
The histories of them always decline 
with education, 870. Illustration of 
this in the belief in fairies, 370. Con- 
ceptions of savases, 371. Legends, 
formation and decay of, 372-374. 
Common errors in reasoning about 
miracles, 380. Predisposition to the 
miraculous in some states of society, 
385. Beli'jf of the Romans in mi- 
racles, 386-391. Incapacity of the 
Christians of the third century for 
judging historic miracles, 399. Con- 
temporary miracles believed in by 
the early Christians, 401. Exorcism 



Digitized by LjOOQlC 



413 



INDEX. 



MIS 

401. Neither past nor contemporary 
Christian miracles had much weight 
upon the pagans, 401 
Missionary labours, ii. 261 
Mithra, worship of, in Kome, i. 411 
Molinos, his opinion on the love we 
should bear to God condemned, i. 19, 
note 
Monastic system, results of the Catho- 
lic monastic system, i. 111. Suicide 
of monks, ii. 66. Exertions of the 
monks in the cause of charity, 89. 
Causes of the monastic moyement, 
1U8. History of the rapid propaga- 
tion of it in the West, 194. New 
value placed by it on obedience and 
humility, 196, 286. Belation of it 
to the intellectual virtuee, 200. The 
monasteries regarded as the recep- 
tacles of learning, 212. Fallacy of 
attributing to ui» monasteries the 
genius that was displayed in theology, 
221. Other &llacies concerning the 
services of the monks, 221-226. 
Value attached by monks to pecuniary 
compensations for crime, 226. Causes 
of their corruption, 230. Benefits con- 
ferred by the moaasteries, 267 
Monica, St., i 96, note 
Monogamy, establishment of, iL 294 
MoQophysites, the cause, to some ex- 
tent, of the Mohammedan conquest of 
Egypt, il 162 
Montanists, their tenets, ii. 109 
Moral distinctions, rival claims of intu- 
ition and utility to be regarded as the 
supreme regulators of, i. 1 
Moral judgments, alleged diversities of, 
i. 93. Are frequently due to intel- 
lectual causes, 94. Instances of this 
in usury and abortion, 94. Dis- 
tinction between natural duties and 
others resting on positive law, 96. 
Ancient customs canonised by time, 
96. Anomalies explained by a con- 
fused association of ideas, 96, 97. 
Moral perceptions overridden by posi- 
tive religions, 98. Instances of this 
in transubstantiation and the Augns- 
tinian and Calvinistic doctrines of 
damnation, 98, 99. General moral 
principles alone revealed by intuition, 
102. The moral unity of different 
ages is therefore a unity not of stan- 
dard but of tendency, 103. Applica- 
tion of this theory to the history of 
benevolence, 108. Reasons why acts 
regarded in one age as criminal are 
innocent in another, 104. Views of 



MUT 

Mill and Buckle on the oomnarativfe 
influence of intellectual and moral 
agencies in civilisation, 106, notr. 
Intuitive morals not unprogreflsive, 
106, 106. Answers to misceUaneons 
objections against the theory of natural 
moral perceptions, 118. J^ect of the 
condition of sodetj on the standard, 
but not the essence, of virtue, 114. 
Occasional duty of sacrificing higher 
duties to lower ones, 114 et seq. 
Summary of the relations of virtue 
and public and private interest, 121. 
Two senses of the word natural, 128 

Moral law, foundation of the, acocnrding 
to Ockham and his adherents, i. 17, 
and note. Various views of the 
sanctions of morality, 20. Utilitarian 
theological sanctions, 64. The reality 
of the moral nature the' one great 
question of natural theology, 58. 
Utilitarian secular sanctions, 69. The 
Utilitarian theory subversive of mo- 
rality, 68. Plausibility and danger 
of theories of unification in niorala, 
78. Our knowledge of the laws of 
moral progress nothing more than 
approximate or general, 142 

' Moral sense,' Hutcheson's doctrine ci 
a,i.4. 

Moral system, what it should be, to go- 
vern society, i. 204 

Morals, each of the two sdiools o^ re- 
lated to the general condition of so- 
ciety, i.. 127. Their relations to me- 
taphysical schools, 128, 129. And to 
the Baconian philosophy, 130. Con- 
trast between ancient and modem 
civilisations, 130-132. Causes that 
lead societies to elevate their moral 
standard, and determine their re- 
ference of some particular kind of 
virtues, 136. The order in which 
moral feelings are developed, 136. 
Danger in proposing too absolutely 
a single character as a model to which 
all men must conform, 168. Bemarka 
on moral types, 164. Besults to be 
expected fix>m the stud^ of the rela- 
tions between our physical and moral 
nature, 1 67. Little infiuence of Pagan 
reli^ons on morals, 169 

Morahsts, business of, L 2. Their dis- 
position to resent anv charge against 
die principles they advocate, 3 

More, Henry, his doctrine of the motire 
to virtue, i 78 

Musonius, his suicide, i. 232 

Mutius, history of him and his son, il 133 



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INDEX, 



4 IS 



MT8 

Mysticism of the RomaxiB, causes pro- 

docing, i. 337, 888 
Mjths, formation of, i. 373. The age of 

myths closed hy education, 374 



NAPLES, mania for suicide at, ii. 
58 

Kapoleon the Emperor, his order of the 
day respecting suicide, i. 230, note 

Nations, causes of the difficulties of 
effecting cordial international friend- 
ships, i. 164 

Natural moral perceptions, objections to 
the theory of, i. 121. Two senses of 
the word natural, 123. Beid, Sedg- 
wick, and Leibnitz on the natural or 
innate powers of man, 125, note, 
Locke*s refutation of the doctrine of 
a natural moral sense, 129. 

Neoplatonism, account of, i. 345. Its 
destruction of the active duties and 
critical spirit, 350 

Neptune, riews of the Stoics of the 
meaning of the legends of , i. 1 7 1 . His 
statue solemnly degraded by Augustus, 
178 

Nero, his singing and acting, i. 274. His 
law as to slaves, 326. His persecu- 
tion of the Christians, 456 

Newman, Dr., on venial sin, i. 115, and 
note on pride, ii. 1 99 

Nicodemus, apoayphal gospel of, ii. 224 

Nilus, St., deserts nis funily, ii. 341 

Nitria, number of anchorites in the 
desert of, ii. 112 

Nolasco, Peter, his works of mercy, ii. 
77. His participators in the Albi- 
gensian massacres, 202 

Novatians, their tenets, ii 109 

Numa, legend of his prohibition of idols, 
i. 175, note 



OATH, sanctity of an, among the 
Bomans, i. 176 

Obedience, new value placed upon it by 
monachism, ii. 196, 197, 285 

Obligation, nature of, i. 66-68 

Ockham, his opinion of the foundation 
of the moral law, i. 17 and note 

Odin, Jiis suicide, ii. 57 

O'Neale, Shane, his charity, ii. 102 

Opinion, influence of character on, i. 
180, 181 

Oracles, refuted and ridiculed by Cicero, 
i. 173. Plutarch's defence of their 
bad poetiy, 178, note, Refosal of 
Cato and the Stoics to consult them, 



PAS 

174. Bidicule of the Boman wits of 
them, 174. Answer of the oracle of 
Delphi as to the best religion, 175. 
Theory of the oracles in the *De 
Divinatione' of Cicero, 391, and note. 
Van Dale's denial of their super- 
natural character, 398. Books of 
oracles burnt under the republic and 
empire, 476, and note 
Origen, his desire for martyrdom, i. 415 
Orphanotrophia, in the early Church, ii. 

34 
Otho, the Emperor, his suicide, i. 231. 
Opinion of his contemporaries of his 
act, 231, note 
Ovid, object of his * Metamorphoses,* i. 
174. His condemnation of suicide, 
224, 225, note. His humanity to ani- 
mals, ii. 175. 
Oxen, laws for the protection of, ii. 172 
Ozyrinchus, ascetic life in the city of, 
u. 112. 



PACHOMIUS, St, number of his 
monks, ii. 112 
Psetus and Arria, history of, ii. 328 
Pagan reli^ons, their feeble influence on 

morals, 1. 169 
Pagan virtues, the, compared with 

Christian, i. 200 
IViiderastJa, the, of the Greeks, ii. 31 1 
Pain, equivalent to evil, according to the 

tJtUitarians, i. 8, note 
Palestine, foundation of monachism in, 
ii. 118. Becomes a hot-bed of de- 
bauchery, 161 
Paley, on the obligation of virtue, i. 14. 
On the difRnrence between an act of 
prudence and an act of duty, 16, note. 
On the love we ought to bear to Gcd, 
18, note. Of the religious sanctions 
of morality, 20. On the doctrine of 
association, i. 25, note. On flesh diet, 
i. 50, note. On the influence of health 
on happiness, i. 90, note. On the 
difference in pleasures, 92, note 
Pambos, St, story of, 123, note 
Pammachus, St., his hospital, ii. 85 
Pansetius, the founder of the Boman 
Stoics, his disbelief in the immorta* 
lity of the soul, i. 193 
Pandftrs, punishment of, ii. 335 
Parents, reason why the murder of, was 

not regarded as criminal, i. 104 
Parthenon, the, at Athens, i. lOC^ 
Pascal, his advocacy of piety as a mat- 
ter of prudence, 1. 17, note. His ad* 
herence to the opinion of Ockham as 



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414 



INDEX. 



PAT 

to the foundation 'of the moral law, 
17, note. His thought on the humi- 
liation created by denying pleasure 
from certain amusements, i. 88 
patriotism, period when it flourished, 
i. 142. Peculiar characteristie of 
the virtue, 186, 187. Causes of 
the predominance occasionally ac- 
corded to civic virtues, 211. Jneglect 
or discredit into which they have 
fallen among modem teachers, 211. 
Cicero*s remarks on the duty of every 
good man, 212. Unfortunate relations 
of Christianity to patriotism, ii. 149. 
Bepugncmce of the theological to the 
paUriotic spirit, 154. 
Paul, St., his definiti(m of conscience, 

i. 85 
Paul, the hermit, his flight to the desert, 
i. 109. Legend of the visit of St An- 
tony to him, 167 
Paul, St. Vincent de, his foundling hospi- 
tals, ii. 36 
Paula, story of her asceticism and in- 
humanity, ii. 141, 142 
Paulina, her devotion to her husband, 

ii. 328 
Pelagia, St, her suicide, ii. 49. Her 

flight to the desert, 129, and note 
Pelagius, ii. 236 
Pelican, legend of the, ii. 171 
Penances of the saints of the desert, ii. 

114, etteq 
Penitential system, the, of the early 

church, ii. 7, 8 
Pepin, his compact with Pope Leo, iL 283 
Peregrinus the Cynic, his suicide, i. 232 
Pericles, his humanity, i. 240 
Perpetua, St., her martyrdom, i. 415, 

472; ii.336 
Persecutions, Catholic doctrines justify- 
ing, 100, 101. Why Christianitv was 
not crushed by them, 420. Many 
causes of persecution, 420-422. Rea- 
sons why the Christians were more 
persecuted than the Jews, 428, 431, 
433. Causes of the persecutions, 432, 
et seq. History of the persecutions, 
456. Nero, 456. Domitian, 458. 
Trajan, 465. Marcus Aurelius, 467, 
669. From M. Aurelius to I)eciu8, 
470, et seq. Callus, L 482. Vale- 
rian, 483. Diocletian and Gale- 
rius, 487-492. End of the persecu- 
tions, 492. General considerations 
on their histoiy, 492-498. 
Peter, St, bis married life, ii. 109 
Petronian law, in favour of slaves, i. 
326 



PLA 

Petroaius, his se^ticism, i 171. IBs 
suicide, 226. His condemnatioD of 
the show of the arena, i. 803 
Philip the Arab, his favour to Quia- 

tianity, i. 473 
Philosophers, efforts of some, to restore 
the moral influence of reli^on amoi^ 
the Komans, i. 178. The true moral 
teachers, 180 
Philosophical truth, characteristics of, 
i. 146, 146. Its growth retarded by 
the opposition of theologians, 146 
Philosophy, causes of the practical dia- 
racter of most ancient i. 212. Its 
Vision with religion, 352. Opinions 
of the earl^ Church ooncennng the 
pagan writings, 364. Difference be- 
tween the mOTal teaching of a philo- 
sophy and that of a religion, ii 1. 
Its impotency to restrain vice, 4. 
Hiocas, attitude of the Church towards 

him, ii. 279 
Phocion, his gentleness, i. 240 
Ms, used for * man,' i. 349 
Phrynicus, cause of his exile, i. 241 
Physical science affects the boli^ in 

miracles, 376, 377 
Piety, utilitarian view of the causes of 
the pleasures and pains of, i. 9, and 
note, A matter of prudence, according 
to theological Utilitarianism, 17 
Pilate, Pontius, story of his desire to en- 
rol Christ among tiie Bomaa gods, I 
456 
Pilgrimages, evils of, ii. 161. 
Pior, St, story of, ii. 137 
Pirates, destruction of, hf Pompey, i 

247 
Pity, a form of self-love, according to 
some Utilitarians, i. 9, 10, note. Adam 
Smith's theory, 10, note, Seaieea's 
distinction between it and clem^cy, 
199. Altar to Pity at Athens, 240, 
241. Histoiy of Marcus AureliW 
altar to Benefleentia at Home, 241, 
note 
Plato, his admission of the practice of 
abortion, i. 94. Basis of his moral 
system, 109. Cause of the banish- 
ment of the poets from his refmbUc, 
169, 170. His theoiy that vice is 
to virtue what disease is to health, 
188, and note. Beason for his advo- 
cacy of community of wives, 211. 
His condemnation of suicide, 223, 
224, note. His remarks on uniTeraal 
brotherhood, 255. His inculcation of 
the practice of self-examination, 262 
Platonic school, its ideal, i. 842. 



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IM)£X. 



416 



PLA 

platonists, their more or less pantheistie 
conception of the Deity, i. 1 7 1 . Prac- 
tical nature of their philosophy, 349. 
The Platonic ethics again in the 
ascendant in Rome, 351. 

pleasure the onl^ good, according to the 
Utilitarians, i. 8. Illustrations of 
the distinction between the higher 
and lower parts of our nature in our 
pleasures, 85-87. Pleasures of a 
civilised compared with those of a 
semi-civilised sodetv, 89. Compari- 
son of mental and phprsical Dleasures, 
89, 90. Distinction m kina of plea- 
sure, and it« importance in morals, 
92, 98. Neglected or denied by uti- 
litarian writers, 92, n4^, 

P|iny, the elder, on the probable happi- 
nees of the lower animals, i. 89, note. 
On the Deity, 172. On astrolo^ 
179 and note, 172, note. His dis- 
belief in the immortality of the soul, 
192. His advocacy of suicide, 227. 
Kever mentions Christianity, 357. 
His opinion of earthquakes, 393. 
And of comets, 392. His &cility of 
belief, 393. His denunciation of 
finger rings, 157. 

Pliny, the younger, his desire for post- 
humous reputation, i. 194 note. His 
picture of the ideal of Stoicism, 196. 
His letter to Tngan respecting the 
Christians, 464. His benevolence, 
256, ii. 82 

Plotinus, his condemnation of suicide, 
i. 225. His philosophy. 351 

Plutarch, his defence of the bad poetry 
of the oraclee, 173, note. His mode 
of moral teaching, 183. Basis of his 
belief in the immortality of the soul, 
215. His denunciation of the effect 
of the superstitious terrors of death 
upon the people, 217. His letter on 
the death of his little daughter, 256. 
May justly be rtvarded as the leader 
of the eclectic scSool, 256. His philo- 
sophy and works compared with those 
of Seneca, 256, 257. His tntatise on 
'The Signs of Moral Progress,' 263. 
Compared and contrasted with Mar- 
cus Anrelius, 267. How he regarded 
the games of the arena, 303. Hii 
defence of the ancient creeds, 342. 
Practical nature of his philosophy, 
349. Kever mentions Cnristianit^, 
357. His remarks on the domestic 
system of the ancienta, 445. On 
kindness to animals, ii. 175, 177. His 
picture of Greek married life, 306 



FBO 

Pluto, meaning of, according to th^ 
Stoics, i. 171 

Po, miracle of the subsidence of the 
waters of the, i. 406 note 

Poemen, St., stoiy of, and of his mother, 
ii. 137. Legend of him and the lion, 
179 

Political economy, what it has accom- 
plished respecting almsgiving, ii. 96 

Political judgments, moral standard of 
most men in, lower than in private 
judgments, i. 158 

Political truth, orhabi^of 'fairj^y,' 
the characteristic of free communities, 
i. 145. Highly civilised form of 
societv to which it belongs, 146. Its 
growth retarded by the opposition of 
theologians, 146 

Polybius, his praise of the devotion and 
purity of creed of t)ie Romans, i 175, 
176 

Polycarp, St, martyrdom of, i. 469 

Polvgamy, long continuance o^ among 
the kings of Gaul, ii. 363 

Pompeii, gladiatorial shows at, i. 292 

Pompey, his destruction of the pirates, 
i. 247. His multiplication of gladia- 
torial shows, 289 

Poor-law system, elaboratioB of the, 
ii. 103. Its pernicious results, 101, 
105 

PoppsM, Empress, a Jewish proselytOi i. 
410 

Porda, heroism of, ii. 327 

Porphyry, his condemnation of suieides, 
i. 225. His description of philosophy, 
i. 346. His adoption of Neoplatonism, 
i. 351 

Possevin, his exposure of the Sibylline 
bo(^, i. 401 

Pothinus, martyrdom of, i. 470 

Power, origin of the desire of, i. 24, 
26 

Praise, association of ideas leading to 
the desire £or even posthumous, i« 
27 

Prayer, reflex influence exercised by, 
upon the minds of ttie worshippers, L 
36, 37 

Preachers, Stoic, among the Romans, i. 
327, 328 

Pride, contrasted with vanity, i. 205. 
The leading moral agent of Stoicism, 
i. 205 

Prometheus, cause of the admiration be- 
stowed upon, i. 35 

Prophecies, incapacity of the Christians 
of the third century for judging pro- 
phecies, i. 399, 400 



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416 



INDEX. 



PRO 

Prophecy, gift of, attributed to the vestal 
virgins of Bonie, i. 11 0. And in India 
to virffins, 110, yiote 

Prosperity, some crimes conducive to 
nation^, i. 60. Cases of Home and 
Pl*u8sia, 60, note 

Prostitution, ii. 299-303. How re- 
garded by the Bomans, 334. 

Protagoras, his scepticism, i. 170 

Protjisius, St., miraculous discovery of 
his remains, i. 403 

Prudentius, on the vestal virgins at the 
gladiatorial shows, i. 291 

Purgatory, doctrine of, ii. 246-249. 

Pythagoras, his saying as to truth and 
doing good, i. 64. Qiastity the lead- 
ing virtue of his school, 109. On 
the fables of Hesiod and Homer, 169. 
His belief in an all-pervading soul of 
nature, 170. His condemnation of 
suicide, 223. Tradition of his jour- 
ney to India, 242, note. His inculca- 
tion of the practice of self-examina- 
tion, 262. His opinion of earthquakes, 
392. His doctrine of kindness to 
animals, ii. 176. 



QUAKEBS, compared with some of 
the early Christians, ii . 1 2, and note 
Quintilian, lus conception of the Deity, 
i.172 



EAKK, secular, consecration of, ii. 
276, et seq. 

Bape, punishment for, ii. 336 

Bedbreast, legend of the, ii. 238, note 

Begulus, the story of, i. 224 

Beid, basis of his ethics, i. 78. His 
distinction between innate faculties 
evolved by experience and innate 
ideas independent of experience, 126, 
note 

Beligion, theological utilitarianism sub- 
verts natural, i. 66-68. Answer of 
the oracle of Delphi as to the best, 
176. Difference between the moral 
teaching of a philosophy and that of 
a religion, ii. 1. Belations between 
positive religion and moral enthu- 
siasm, 160 

Beligions, pagan, their small influence 
on morals, i. 169. Oriental, passion 
for, among the Bomans, 837 

Beligious liberty totally destroyed by 
the Catholics, ii. 206-212 

Bepentance for past sin, no place for, 
in the writings of the ancients, i. 206 



ROM 

Beputation, how valued among the Bo- 
mans, i. 194, 196 

Besurrection of souls, belief of the 
Stoics in the,i. 173 

Bevenge, utilitarian notions as to the 
feeling of, i. 42, and note. Circom- 
stances under which private vengeance 
is not regarded as criminal, i. 104 

Beverence, utilitarian views of, i. 9, and 
note. Causes of the diminution of 
the spirit of, among mankind, 148, 
149 

Bewards and punishments in a ftitnre 
life, doctrine of, destroyed by theo- 
logical utilitarianism, i. 66 

Bhetoricians, Stoical, account of the, of 
Borne, i. 329*. 

Bicci, his Work on Mendicancy, ii. 104 

Bochefoucauld, La, on pity, quoted, i. 
10, note. And on friendship, 10, 11, 
note 

Bogantinus, his passive life, i. 860 

Boman law, itsgoldenagenotChristian, 
but pagan, ii. 44 

Bomans, abortion how regarded bj the, 
i. 94. Their law forbidding women 
to taste wine, 96, 96, note. Beaaons 
whv they did not regard the gladia- 
torial shows as criminal, 104. Their 
law of marriage and ideal of female 
morality, 107. Their religious reve- 
rence for domesticity, 109. Sanctity 
of, and gifts attributed to, their vestal 
virgins, 1 09, 1 1 0. Character of their 
cmelty, 140. Compared with the 
modem Italian character in this re- 
spect, 140. Scepticism of their philo- 
sophers, 170-176. The religion of 
the Bomans never a source of moral 
enthusiasm, 176. Its character- 
istics, 176, 177. Causes of the dis- 
appearance of the religions reve- 
rence of the people, 177. Eflbrts of 
some philosophers and emperors to 
restore the moral influence of reli- 
gion, 1 78. Consummation of Boman 
degradation, 178. Belief in asteolo- 
gical fatalism, 179, 180. The Stoical 
type of military and patriotic enthu- 
siasm pre-eminently Boman, 181-183, 
187. Importance of biography in 
their moral teaching, 183. ^icn- 
reanism never became a schod of 
virtue among them, 184. Unselfish 
love of country of the Bomans, 187. 
Character of Stoicism in the worst 
period of the Boman Empire, 19L 
Main features of their philoeophy, 
194, et 8cq. Difference between 



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INDEX. 



417 



ROM 

the Boman moralists and the Greek 
poets, 206. The doctrine of Buicide 
the cnlminating point of Roman 
Stoicism, 234. The type of ex- 
cellenoe of the Boman people, 236, 
237. Contrast between the actiyitj 
of Stoicism and the hurarj of Boman 
society, 288, 239. Growth of a 
fientler and maare cosmopolitan spirit 
in Bome, 240. Causes of this change, 
240, 0tdeq, Extent of Greek influence 
at Bome, 240. The cosmopcditan 
sfMrit strengthened by the destruction 
of the power of the aristocracy, 244, 
246. History of the influence of 
freedmen in the state, 246. Effect of 
the aggrandisement oi the colonies, 
the attraction of many forei^ers to 
Bome, and the increased flicihties for 
toiTelling, on the cosmopolitan spirit, 
246, et $eq. Foreigners among the 
most prominent of I^tin writers, 248. 
Besults of the multitudes of emanci- 
pated slaves, 248, 249. Endeayours 
of Boman statesmen to consolidate 
the empire by admitting the conquered 
to the priTueges of ^e conquerors, 
251. The Stoical philosophy quite 
capable of representing the cosmopo- 
litan spirit, 253. Influence of eclectic 
fhilosophy on the Boman Stoics, 258. 
life and dbaractar of Marcus Aurelius, 
263-269. Corruption of the Boman 
people, 270. Causes of their depra- 
vity, 270. Decadence of all the con- 
ditions of republican virtue, 271. 
Effects of the Imperial system on 
morals, 272-276. Apotheosis of the 
emperors, 272. Moral consequences 
of slavery, 277. Increase of idleness 
and demoralising employment, 277. 
Increase also of sensuidity, 278. De- 
struction of all public spirit, 279. The 
interaction of many states which in 
new nations sustains national life tots- 
vented by universal empire, 280. The 
decline of agricultural pursuits, 281. 
And of the military virtues, 284. His- 
Uny and e&cts of the gladiatcnial 
shows, 287. Other Boman amuse- 
ments, 292. Effects of the arena upon 
the theatre, 293. Nobles in the arena, 
300. Effects of Stoicism on the eor- 
ruption of society, 309. Boman law 
P^reaUy extended by it, 312. Ch^ige 
in the relation of Bomans to provin- 
cials, 315. Changes in domestic le- 
gidation, 315. Boman slavery, 818- 
327. The Stoics as consolers, ad- 



visers, and preachers, 327. The Cy- 
nics and rhetoricians, 328, 329. De- 
cadence of Stoicism in the empire, 337. 
Causes of the passion for Oriental re- 
ligions, 337-339. Neoplatonism,345. 
Beriew of the history of Boman phi- 
losophy, 352-356. History of the 
conversion of Bome to Christianity, 
357. State of Boman opinion on the 
subject of miracles, 388. Progress of 
the Jewish and Oriental religions in 
Bome, 410, 411. The conversion of 
the Boman empire easily explicable, 
418. Beview of the religious policy 
of Bome, 423. Its division of reli- 
gon into three parts, according to 
Eusebius, 429. Persecutions of the 
Christians, 432, et seq. Antipathy of 
the Bomans to every religious system 
which employed religious terrorism, 
447. History of the persecutions, 
456. General sketch of the moral 
condition of the Western Empire, ii. 
15. Bise and progress of the go- 
vemm^t of the Church of Bome, 
15, 16. Boman practice of infanti- 
cide, 29. Their relief of the indi- 
gent, 78. Distribution of com, 78. 
Exertions of the Christians on the 
subversion of the empire, 87. Inade- 
quate place given to this movement, 
90. Horrors caused by the barbarian 
invasions prevented to some extent by 
Christian charity, 87-90. Influence 
of Christianity in hastening the fall 
of the Empire, 149, 150. Boman 
treatment of prisoners of war, 272, 
273. Despotism of the pagan empire, 
275. Condition of women under the 

" Bomans, 315. Their concubines, 370 

Bome, an illustration of crimes con- 
ducive to national prosperity, i. 60, 
note. Conversion of, 357. Three 
popular errors concerning its conver- 
sion, 360. Capture of the city by tha 
barbarians, ii. 88 

Bcone, modem, main object and results 
of its paternal government, 118 note 

Bomuald, St, lus treatment of his 
father, ii. 144 

Bope-dandng of the Bomans, L 308 

SABINUS^ Saint, his penances, ii. 
115 
Sacrament, administration of the, in the 

early Church, ii. 6 
Saints, the seventh century tlie age of, 
11258 



VOL. II. 



£ E 



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418 



INDEX. 



SIL 

Salamis, Brutus' treatment of the citi- 
zens of, i. 204 
Sallust, his Stoicism and rapacity, i. 204 
Sanctuary, right of, accorded to Chris- 
tian churches, ii. 42 
Savage, errors into which the deceptive 
appearances of nature doom him, i. 56. 
First conceptions formed of the uni- 
verse, 371. The ethics of savages, 
125, 126 
Scepticism of the Greek and Eoman 
philosophers, i. 170-174. Influence 
of, on intellectual progress, ii. 205. 
The tendency of character to govern 
opinion always recognised by the 
Church, 206 
Scholastica, St., the legend of, ii. 145, 

note 
Scifl, Clara, the first Franciscan nun, ii. 

144 
Scotch Puritans, their tolerance of amuse- 
ments compared with that of French- 
men, i. 119 
Sectarian animosity, chief cause of, i. 

140 
Sedgwick, Professor, on the expansion 
of the natural or innate powers of 
men, i. 125, note 
Seducer, character of the, ii. 366, 367 
Sejanus, treatment of his daughter by 

the senate, i. 110, note 
Self-denial, the utilitarian tlieory unfa- 
vourable to, i. 68 
Self-examination, history of the practice 

of, i. 261-263 
Self-sacrifice, asceticism the great school 

of, ii. 164 . 

Seneca, his conception of the Deity, i. 
171, notCt 172. His distinction be- 
tween the affections and diseases, 198, 
note. And between clemency and 
pity, 199. His virtues and vices, i. 
204. His view of the natural virtue 
of man and power of his will, 208. 
His remaiks on the Sacred Spirit 
dwelling in man, 208, 209. His view 
of death, 216. His tranquil end, 2 1 8. 
Advocates suicide, 225, 232. His 
description of the self-destruction 
of a friend, 234. His remarks 
on universal brotherhood, 254. His 
stoical hardness tempered by new 
doctrines, 258. His ^actice of self- 
examination, 262. His philosophy 
and works compared with those of 
Plutarch, 256, 257. Howhere^rded 
the games of the arena, 302. His ex- 
hortations on the treatment of slaves, 
824. Never mentions Christianity, 



SIS 

357. Regarded in the middle 
as a Christian, 362. His renuriuTon 
religious beliefs, 430 
Sensuality, why the Mahommedans peo- 
ple Paradise with images of^ i. 112. 
Why some pagan nations deified it, 
1 12. Fallacy of judging the sensual- 
itv of a nation by the statistics of its 
illegitimate births, 150. Influence of 
climate upon public morals, 161. Of 
large towns, 152. And of eai^ 
marriages, 153. Absence of moral 
scandals among the Irish priesthood, 
153, 154. Speech of Aichytas of 
Tarentum on the evils of, 211, wOt, 
Increase of sensuality in Bome, 278. 
Abated by Qbristiani^, ii. 163. The 
doctrine of the Fathers respecting 
concupiscence, 298 
Serapion, the anthropomorphite, L 53. 
Number of his monks, ii. 1 12. Legend 
of him and the courtesan, 339 
Senorius, his foigeiy of anspicioas 

omens, i. 174 
Severus, Alexander, refuses the language 
of adulation, i. 274. His efibrts 
to restore agricultural pursuits, 283. 
Murder of, 472. His leniency to- 
wards Christianity, 472. His bene- 
volence, ii. 82 
Severus, Cassius, exile of, i. 476, note 
Severus, Septimus, his treatment of the 

Christians, i. 471 
Sextius, his practice of self-examination, 

i. 262 
Shaftesbuiy, maintains the reality of 
the existence of benevolence in our 
nature, i. 20. On virtue," 78 
Sibylline books, forged by the earij 

Christians, i. 400, 401 
Silius Italicus, his lines commemorating 
the passion of the Spanish Celts for 
suicide, i. 218, note. His self-do- 
struction, 233 
Silvia, her filthiness, ii. 117 
Simeon, Bishop of Jerusalem, his mar- 
tyrdom, i. 465 
Simeon Stylites, St., his penance, iL 
119. His inhumanity to his parents, 
iil38 
Sin, the theological doctrine on the sub- 
ject, i. 115, 116. Conception of sin 
of the ancients, 205. Orig^inal, taught 
by the Catholic church, 220, 221. 
Examination of the utilitarian doc- 
trine of the remote consequences of 
secret sins, 44, 45 
Sisoes, the abbot, stories o( ii. 134, 
136 



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INDEX. 



419 



SIX 

Sixtos, Bishop of Rome, his martyr- 
dom, i. 484 

Sixtos v., Pope, his efforts to suppress 
mendicancy, ii. 103 

ShiTery, circumstances under which it 
has been justified, i. 104. Origin of 
the word servus, according to the Jus- 
tinian code and St Augustine, 104, 
910^. Crusade of England against, 
161. Character of that of the Ro- 
mans, 248« Moral consequence of sla- 
Tery, 277. Three stages of slavery 
at Rome, 818. Review of the con- 
dition of slaves, 318-324. Opinion 
of philosophers as to slavery, 324. 
liiws enacted in favour of slaves, 
325. Effects of Christianity upon 
the institution of slavery, 65. Con- 
secration of the servile virtues, 72. 
Impulse given to manumission, 74. 
Serfdom in Europe, 74, 75, note. Ex- 
tinction of slavery in JSurope, 76. 
Ransom of captives, 76 

Smith, Adam, his theory of pity, quoted, 
i. 10, note. His recognition of the 
reality of benevolence in our nature, 
20. Mis analysis of moral judgment, 
77 

Smyrna, persecution of the Christians 
at» i. 469 

Socrates, his view of death, i. 216. His 
dosing hours, 218. His advice to a 
courtesan, ii. 3 1 3 

Soul, belief of the Stoics in the resur- 
rection of the, i. 173. The immortal- 
ity of the soul resolutely excluded 
fiom the teaching of the Stoics, 191. 
Character of their first notions on the 
subject, 192. The belief in the re- 
absorption of the soul in the parent 
Spirit, 192. Belief of Cicero and 
Plutarch in the immortality of the, 
215. But never adopted as a motive 
by the Stoics, 215. Increasing belief 
in the,^351. Vague belief of the 
Romans in the, 176 

Sospitra, story of, i. 397 

Spain, persecution of the Christians^in, 
i. 491. Almost complete absence of 
infanticide in, ii. 27, note. The first 
lunatic asylums in Europe established 
in, 94, 95 

Spaniards, among the most prominent of 
Latin writers, i. 248. Their suicides, 
ii. 57 

Spartans, their intense patriotism, i. 
187. Their legislature continually 
extolled as a model, 211. Condition 
of their women, ii. 307 



8T0 

Spinoza, his remark on death, i. 21S, 
Anecdote of him, 306 

Speculating character, characteristics of 
the, i. 146, 147 

Stael, Madame de, on suicide, ii. 62 

Statins, on the first night of marriage, 
i. Ill, note 

Stewart, Dagald, on the {Measure de- 
rived from the knowledge or the pur- 
suits of virtue, i. 33, note 

Stilpo, his scepticism and banishment, 
i. 170. His remark on his ruin, 
201 

Stoics, their definition of conscience, i. 
85. Their view of the animation of 
the human foetus, 94. Their system 
of ethics favourable to the heroic 
qualities, 133, 134. Historical fact 
in favour of the system, 134. Their 
belief in an all-pervading soid of 
nature, 170. Their pantheistic con- 
ception of the Deity, 171. Their con- 
ception and explanation of the pre- 
vailing legends of the gods, 171- 
Their opinion as to the final destruc* 
tion of the universe by fire, and the 
resuscitation of souls, 173. Their 
refusal to consult the oracles, 174. 
Stoicism the expression of a type 
of character different to Epicurean- 
ism, 180, 181. Rome pre-eminently 
the home of Stoicism, 181. Ac- 
count of the philosophy of the Stoics, 
186. Its two essentials — the un- 
selfish ideal and the subjugation of 
the affections to the reason, 186. The 
best example of the perfect severance 
of virtue and interest, 190. Their 
views concerning the immortality of 
the soul, 191-193. Taught men to 
sacrifice reputation, and do good in se- 
cret, 195. And distinguished the obli- 
gation fr^m the attraction of virtue, 
196. Taught also that the affections 
must be subordinate to the reason, 
197-201. Their false estimate of 
human nature, 202. Their love of 
paradox, 202. Imperfect Utcs of 
many eminent Stoics, 203. Their 
retrospective teachings, 203. Their 
system unfitted for the majority of 
mankind, 204. Compared with the 
religious principle, 205. The cen- 
tral composition of this ^ilosophy, 
the digni^ of man, 205. High sense 
of the Stoics of the natural virtue of 
man, and of the power of his will, 
205, 206. Their recognition of Pro- 
vidence, 206, 207. The two aspects 



E E 2 



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420 



INDEX. 



8TB 

nnder which they worshipped God, 
208. The^toica secured crbm quie- 
tism by their habits of public life, 
210-212. Their view of humanity, 
212. Their preparations for, and 
view o^ death, 213. Their teaching 
as to suicide, 223, 225, et seq. Con- 
trast between the activity of Stoidsm 
and the luxury of Boman luxury, 
238, 239. The Stoical phUosophy 
quite oi^ble of representing the cos- 
mopolitan spirit, 262, 258. Stoicism 
not capable of representing the sof- 
tening movement of civilisation, 255. 
Influence of the eclectic spirit on it, 
258. Stoicism becomes more es- 
sentially religious, 259. Increas- 
ingly introspective character of later 
Stoicism, 261. Marcus AureHus the 
best example of later Stoicism, 268- 
269. Efifectt of Stoicism on the cor- 
ruption of Boman society, 808, 809. 
It raised up many sood Emperors, 809. 
It produced a noble opposition under 
the worst Emperors, 310. It greatly 
extended Roman law, 812. The Stoics 
considered as the consolers of the 
suffering, advisers of the young, and 
as poptuar preachers, 327- Bapid 
decadenceofStoidsm, 336, 337. Dif- 
ference between the Stoical and Egyp- 
tian pantheism, 844. Stoical natu- 
ralism supersededby the theory of dae- 
mons, 351 . ■ Theory that the writings 
of the Stoics were influenced by 
Christianity examined, 352. Domi- 
tian's persecution of them, 459 
Strozzi, Philip, his suicide, ii. 59 
Suffering, a courageous endurance of, 
probably the first form of virtue in 
savage Ufe, i. 136 
Suicide, attitude adopted by Pagan 
philosc^hy and Catholicism towards, 
1. 223, et sea. Eminent suicides, 

226. Epidemic of suicides at Alex- 
andria, 227. And of girls at Miletus, 

227, noU. Grandeur of the Stoical 
ideal of suicide, 228. Influences con- 
spiring towards suicide, 228. Seneca's 
touching remarks on self-destruction, 

229, 230, 232. Laws respecting it, 

230, note. Eminent instances of self- 
destruction, 231, 233. The concep- 
tion of, as an euthanasia, 233. Neo- 
platonist doctrine concerning, 351. 
Effect of the Christian condemna- 
tion of the practice o^ ii. 46-65. 
Theological doctrine on, 48, note. 
The only form of, permitted in the 



THB 

early Church, 50. Slow soiddee, 
51. The Circumcelliones, 52. The 
Albigenses, 53. Suicides of the 
Jews, 53. Treatment of oorpees 
of suicides, 53. Authwities for tlis 
history of suicides, 53, note, Beac- 
tion against the mediiaeval laws on 
the subject, 54. Later phaiww of 
its histoiy, 57. Self-destzuctioB of 
witches, 57' E^Mdemics of insane 
suicide, 58. Cases of Icntiinate sui- 
cide, 59. Suicide in "England and 
France, 62 

Sunday, importance of the Banetity of 
the, iL 258, 259. Laws respecting it, 
259 

Superstition, possibility of ad^ng to 
the happiness of man by the diflnaon 
of, i. 52-54. Natural eausea iHiicfa 
impel savages to superstitioD, L 56. 
Signification of the Greek woid for, 
i. 216 

Swan, the, consecrated to ApoUo^ L 217 

Sweden, cause of the great number ci 
illegitimate births in, L 151 

Swinburne, Mr., on annihilation, i. 192, 
note 

Symmachus, his Saxon prisoners, L 804 

Synesius, legend of him and Eyagrias, 
ii. 227. Kefuses to give up his wife, 
851 

Syracuse, gladiatorial shows at, L 291 



rPACITUS, his doubts about the cx- 
X istence of Providence, i. 179, note 
Taste, refining influence of cultivation 

on, i. 81 
Taylor, Jeremy, on hell, iL 239 
Telemachus, the monk, his death in the 

arena, ii. 89 
Telesphorus, martyrdom of, i. 474 
Tertia .£milia, story of, ii. 331 
TertuUian, his b^ef in diemona, i. 406. 

And challenge to the Pagans, 407 
Testament, Old, supposed to have been 

the source of pagan writings, i. 366 
Thalasius, his hospital for blind beg- 
gars, ii. 86 
Theatre, scepticism of the Bomans ex- 
tended by the, i. 178. Efl^cts of the 
gladiatorial shows upon the, 298 
Theft, reasons wh^r some savages do not 
re^rd it as criminal, i. 104. And 
for the Spartan law legalising it, 104 
Theodebert, his polygamy, ii. 363 
Theodoric, his court at Bavenna, ii. 
214, and note 



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INDEX. 



421 



THE 



VIC 



TheodoraB, his denial of the existence 
of the gods, i. 170 

Theodoras, St., his inhumanity to his 
mother, iL 186 

Theodosins the Emperor, his edict for- 
bidding gladiatorial shows, ii. 87. 
Denounced bj the Ascetics, 148. His 
law respecting Sunday, 259 

Theologiod utih'tarianism, theories of, 
L 16-17 

Theology, view which it takes of 
* plagues of rain and water,' and of 
epidemics, L 878. Si^ere of indnc- 
tLY0 reasoning in theology, 870 

Theon, 8t» l^gand of, and the wild 
beasts, ii. 177 

Theurgy rejected by Flotinus, i. 86L 
All moral discipline resolYed into, by 
lamblichus, 861 

Thrace, celibacy of societies of men in, 
L109 

Thra8ea,mildness of his Stoicism, L 269 

Thrasea and Arria, histoirof; ii. 829 

ThrifHness created by the industrial 
^irit, i 146 

Tiberius the Emperor, his images in- 
rested with a sacred character, i. 276. 
His superstitions, 890, and note 

Timagenes, exiled from the palace by 
Tiberius, L 476, note 

Titus, the Emperor, his tranquil end, i. 
218. Instanceof his amiability, 804 

Tooth-powder, Apuleius* defence of, ii. 
168 

Torments, future, the doctrine of, made 
by the monks a means of extorting 
money, ii. 229. Monastic legends ox, 
283 

Tracy, M. de, his argument for the moral 
importance of a good system of police, 
i. 186, note 

Tragedy, effects of the gladiatorial shows 
upon, among the Romans, i. 293 

Traian, the £mperor, his gladiatorial 
shows, i. 804. Letter of Pliny to, 
respecting the Christians, 464. Tra- 
jan s answer, 466. His benevolence 
to children, ii. 81. Legend of St 
Gregory and the Emperor, 228 

Transmigration of souls, doctrine of, 
of the andents, ii. 176 

Trarelling, increased fodlities for, of 
the Bomans, i. 247 

Trinitarian mcmks, their works of mercy, 
ii. 77 

Troubadours, one of their services to 
mankind, ii. 246 

* Truce of God,' importance of the, ii. 
269 



Truth, possibility of adding to the him- 
piness of men by diflVising abrosd, 
or sustaining^ pleasing fidsehoods, 
i. 64. Saving of Pyuagoras, 64. 
Growth ot, with ciimisadon, 143. 
Industrial, political, and philosophi- 
cal, 144-146. Relation of monadusm 
to the abstract love of truth, ii. 200. 
Causes of the mediteval dedine<xf the 
love of truth, 226 

Tucker, his adoption of the doctrine of 
the association of ideas, i. 26, note 

TuriLS, their kindness to animals, i. 
806 

Types, moralt L 164. All characters 
cannot be moulded in one type, 166 



ITLPIAN on suicide, i. 280, note 
U Unselfishness of the Stoics, i. 186 
Usury, diversities of moral judgment 

respecting, i. 94 
Utilitarian sohooL Am Morals ;'^^rtue; 

Vice 
Utility, rival claims of, and intuition to 
be regarded as the supreme regula* 
tors of moral distinctions, i, 1, 2. 
Various names by which the theory 
of utility is known, 8. Views of the 
moralists of the school of, 8, et eeq. 



VALERIAN, his persecutions of Uie 
Christians, i. 488 

Valerius Maximus, his mode of moral 
teaching, i. 188 

Vandals, their conquest of Africa, ii. 
160 

Varro, his conc^ytion of the Deity, i. 
171. His views of pqmlar religious 
beUeft, 176 

Venus, effect of the Greek worship of, 
on the condition of women, ii. 808 

Vespasian, his 4yingjest,i. 274. Eflfect 
of his frugality on the habits of the 
Romans, 810. Miracle attributed to 
him, 369. His treatment of philoso- 
phers, 476, note 

Vice, Mandeville's theory of the ori|g;in 
of, i. 7. And that 'private vices 
were public benefits,' 7. Views of 
the Utilitarians as to, 18. The de- 
grees of virtue and vice do not cor- 
respond to the degrees of utility, or 
the reverse, 41-48. The suffering 
caused by vice not proportioned to 
its criminality, 69-6 1 . Plato's ethical 
theoryof virtue and vice, 188. Grote's 
summary of this theory, 188, note. 



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422 



INDEX. 



VIR 

Conception of the ancients of sin, 205. 
Moral efficacy of the Christian sense 
of yice, ii. 8, 4 ^ 

Virgil, his conception of the Deity, i. 
172. His epicurean sentiment, 203, 
note. His denunciations of suicide, 
224. His interest in animal life, ii. 
175 

Virginity, how regarded by the Greeks, 
i. 108. -ffischylus* prayer to Athene, 
108. Bees and fire emblems of vir- 
ginity, 111, note. Beason why the 
ancient Jews attached a certain stigma 
to Yiiginity, 112. Views of Essenes, 
112 

Virgins, Vestal, intense sanctity and 
^fts attributed to the, i. 109, 110, 
and note. Executions of; 433, and note. 
Reasons for burying them alive, ii 
44. How regarded by the Bomans, 
816 

Virtue, Hume*s theory of the criterion, 
essential element, and object of the 
pursuit of, i. 4. Motive to virtue 
^m the doctrine which bases morals 
upon experience, 6. Mandeville*s the 
lowest and most repulsive form of 
this theory, 6, 7. Views of the 
essence and origin of virtue adopted 
by the school of Utilitarians, 7-9. 
Views of the Utilitarians of, 13. 
Association of ideas in which virtue 
becomes the supreme object of our 
aflfections, 28. Impossibility of vir- 
tue bringing pleasure if practised 
only with that end, 36, 37. The 
utility of virtue not denied by intui- 
tive moralists, 40. The degrees of 
virtue and vice do not correspond to 
the degrees of utility, or the reverse, 
4. The rewards and punishments of 
conscience, 61, 62. The self-compla- 
cency of virtuous men, 67, and note. 
The motive to virtue, according to 
Shaftesbury and Henry More, 78. 
Analogies of beauty and virtue, 79. 
Their difference, 80. Diversities ex- 
isting in our judgments of virtue and 
beauty, 80, 81. Virtues to which we 
can and cannot apply the term beauti- 
ful, 84. The standard, though not the 
essence, of virtue, determined by the 
condition of society, 113. Summary of 
the relations of virtue and public and 
private interest, 121. Emphasis with 
which the utilitv of virtue was dwelt 
upon by Aristotle, 129. Growth of the 
gentler virtues which are the natural 
product of civilisation, 137. Forms 



VfAXL 

of the virtue of truth, industrial,*p(^ 
tical, and philosophical, 144. Each, 
stage of civilisation is specially appro* 
priate to some virtue, 154. National 
virtues, 159. Virtues naturally grouped 
together according to principles of 
affinity or oongruity, 161. Distinctive 
beauty of a moral type, 161. Bndi- 
mentaiy virtues differing in different 
ages, nations, and classes, 162, 163. 
Four distinct motives leading men to 
virtue, 187-189. Plato's fundamental 
proposition that vice is to virtue what 
disease is to health, 188. Stoicism the 
best example of the perfect sever- 
ance of virtue and self-interest, 190. 
Teachings of the Stoics that virtue 
should conceal itself from the world, 
195. And that the obligation should 
be distinguished from the attraction 
of virtue, 196. The eminent charac- 
teristics of pagan goodness, 200. All 
virtues are the same, according to the 
Stoics, 202. Horace's description of 
a just man, 207. Interested and dis- 
interested motives of Christianity to 
virtue, ii. 8. Dedine of the civic 
virtues caused by ascetidsm, 148. 
Influence of this change on moral 
philosophy, 155. The importance of 
the civic virtues exaggerated by 
historians, 156. Intellectual virtues, 
200. Belation of monachism to these 
virtues, 200, et seq. 

Vitalius, St., legend o( and the courte- 
san, ii. 338, 339 

Vivisection, ii. 1 87. Approved by Bacon, 
187, note 

Volcanoes, how regarded by the early 
monks, ii. 234 

Vultures, why made an emblem of 
nature by the Egyptians, i. Ill, mote 



WAB, its moral grandeur, i. 97. The 
school of the heroic virtues, 182. 
Difference between foreign and civil 
wars, 244, 245. Antipathy of the early 
Christians to a military life, ii. 263. 
Belief in battle being the special 
sphere of Providential interposition, 
264. Effects of the militaiy triumphs 
of the Mohammedans, 266. In- 
fluences of Christianity upon war 
considered, 269. Improved oondition 
of captives taken in war, 271 
Warburton, on morals, i. 16, note, 17t 
note 



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INDEX. 



423 



WAT 

Waterlftnd, on the motives to yirtne 
and cause of our love of Cbd, quoted, 
i. 9, note, 16, note 

Wealth, origin of the desire to possess, 
i. 24. Associations leading to the 
desire for, for its own sake, 26 

Western £mpire, general sketch of the 
moral condition of the, ii. 15 

Widows, care of the early church for, 
ii. 888 

Wigs, Clemens of Alexandria and Ter- 
tullian on, ii. 158 

Will, freedom of the human, sustained 
and deepened by the ascetic life, ii. 
131 

Wine, forbidden to women, i, 95, 96, 
note 

Witchcraft, belief in the reality of, i. 
386. Suicide common among witches, 
ii. 57 

Wollaston, his analysis of moral judg- 
ments, i. 78 

Women, law of the Romans forbidding 

\ women to taste wine, i. 95, 96, note. 

I Standards of female morality of the 

j Jews, G-reeks, and Bomans, 106, 107. 

^ Virtues and vices growing out of the 

relations of the sexes, 150. Female 

virtue, 150. Effects of climate on 

this virtue, 151. Of large towns, 

- 152. And of early marriages, 153. 
Keason for Plato's advocacy of com- 

I munity of wives, 211. Plutarch's 
high sense of female excellence, 258. 
Female gladiators at Rome, 298, and 
note. Relations of female devotees 
with the anchorites, iL 127, 136, 
160. Their condition in savage life, 

~292. Cessation of the sale of wives, 
292. Rise of the dowry, 293. Es- 
tablishment of monogamy, 294. Doc- 
trine of the Fathers as to concu- 
piscence, 298. Nature of the problem 
of the relations of the sexes, 299. 
Prostitution, 299-301. Recognition 
in Greece of two distinct orders of 
womanhood — the wife and the 
het^era, 303. Condition of Roman 
women, 315, et seq. Rise among 
them of an indisposition to mar- 
riage, 322. Legal emancipation 
of women in Rome, 322. Un- 
bounded liberty of divorce, 324. 
Amount of female virtue in Imperial 



ZEU 

Rome, 326-330. Legislative mea- 
sures to repress sensuality, 330. To 
enforce the reciprocity of obligation in 
marriage, 330. And to censure pros- 
titution, 334. Influence of Christianity 
on the position of women, 335, et eeq. 
Marriages, 339. Second marriages, 
343. Low opinion of women pro- 
duced by asceticism, 357. The canon 
law unfavourable to their proprietary 
rights, 358, 359. Barbarian heroines 
and law8» 361-364. Doctrine of 
equality of obligation in marriage, 
366. The duty of man towards 
woman, 368. Condemnation of tran- 
sitory connections, 371. Roman con- 
cubines, 372. The sinfulness of 
divorce maintained by the church, 
371-373. Abolition of oompulsory 
marriages, 374. Condemnation of 
mixed marriages, 374, 375. Educa- 
tion of women, 375. Relation of 
Christianity to the female virtues, 
379. Comparison of male and female 
characteristics, 379. The Pagan and 
Christian ideal of woman contrasted, 
383-385. Conspicuous part of 
woman in the early Church, 385-387* 
Care of widows, 388. Worship of the 
Virgin, 389, 390. Effect of the sup- 
pression of the conventual system on 
women, 391. Revolution going on 
in the employments of women, 393 



XENOCRATES, his tenderness, ii. 
173 
Xenophanes, his scepticism, i. 170 
Xenophon, his picture of Greek married 
life, ii. 305 



ZADOK, the founder of the sect of the 
Sadducees, his inference of the non- 
existence of a future world, i. 193, 
note 

Zeno, vast place occupied by his system 
in the moral history of man, i. 180. 
His suicide, 224. His inculcation 
of the practice of self-examination, 
262 

Zeus, universal providence attributed by 
the Greeks to, i. 169 



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