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t <nat rams af nman 




** "Westward the coarse of empire takes Its \raj. 

The four first acts already past ; 
A fifth shall close the drama with the day, 
Time's noblest offspring is the last." 






Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1866, by 

In the Clerk's Office for the Southern District of New York. 






BY a natural movement, in not one of its great ele- 
ments has civilization gone eastward an inch since au- 
thentic history began. To demonstrate this simple and 
comprehensive fact is the motive of the following work, 
and all the great leading events of time are the means 
employed. Berkeley has suggested a grand outline in his 
significant stanza, but neither he nor any other author 
has hitherto attempted to define the acts, and portray 
the connected scenes, which constitute the one great drama 
of human progress. 

Artistic beauty, martial force, scientific invention, and 
universal amelioration, have thus far illustrated the great 
progressional law of successive predominance, and these, 
we believe, will ultimately be consummated in the supreme 
sway of perfect civilization. We are led to this view by 
taking a catholic survey of every nation that has risen 
above the historical horizon ; in which course we observe 
that all are alike the subjects of Providence, each in its 
time and place being furnished with a part to act, and a 
destiny to fulfill. Considered in this light, it may be rev- 
erently said that human history is a sacred drama, of 


which God is the poet, each transitional age an act, hu- 
manity the hero, and the discriminating annalist a pro- 
phetical interpreter. 

But this work is not so much the defense of a theory as 
it is the display of facts, and the deduction of a general 
principle consequent thereupon. The travels of men, and 
the trade-currents of God, move spontaneously and per- 
petually toward the West. The opposite direction is 
always " down East," while all healthful expansion and 
improvement is "out West." The great eastern turn- 
pike, canal, or railway, was never built, nor has a great 
eastern ship yet been launched on the deep. If the un- 
natural name has of late been given to a colossal craft, 
the misnomer is indicated by the fact, that her first trip 
is appointed to be a western one, and to terminate in our 
most eastern harbor, where the most stupendous develop- 
ment of western commerce just begins. All great enter- 
prises by land and by sea have ever commenced in the 
East, and augmented both their efficiency and worth 
through a continuous unfolding toward the setting sun. 
The latest race is evermore the best, the last half of each 
great age is most prolific in progressive elements, and the 
west end of every great town throughout Europe and 
America is the growing end. 

An introduction ought to stimulate rational curiosity, 
while it justifies the labors of the author, by furnishing 
his reader with a succinct programme of the conditions of 
the subject. We consider the age of Pericles to have ter- 
minated four centuries before, and that of Augustus five 


centuries after, the birth of Christ. The age of Leo X. 
began in the fifth century, with the fall of the Western 
Empire, and ended in the sixteenth, soon after the final 
downfall of the East. The seventeenth century was the 
great era of colonial empire, and then began the age of 
Washington. It is not man but God who has thrown 
these clear lines of demarcation over the entire mass of 
humanity, as innumerable dates, names, and events, al- 
luded to in the following work will show. Copious refer- 
ences to authorities are purposely omitted, as we wish to 
render the pages as compact as possible with unbroken 
thought, but the facts themselves can easily be verified 
by the enlightened reader, or confuted if they are incor- 

The service we herein attempt is to portray the relations 
of the present to the past and future, by tracing all the 
mightiest elements of our civilization to then* respective 
sources, and by indicating the antecedents of those na- 
tional heroes whose names shine upon the forehead of our 
age, and whose accumulated productions constitute the 
grandest inheritance of the remotest posterity. The 
mighty princes of literature of all climes, " who still rule 
our spirits from their urns," are summoned into stately 
procession, followed by the great masters of art, science, 
philosophy, and religion, each one bearing his own distinct 
physiognomy, and taking precedence in historical order. 
It is in this natural course that we would mold numerous 
and diversified materials into one homogeneous whole. 
The work is an abbreviated nomenclature of celebrated 


personages and events, a bold sketch of the great historical 
ages, not divided according to arbitrary chronological dates, 
or a formal geographical plan, but embracing all authentic 
periods in their indissoluble continuity of development, 
illustrated by the multifarious monuments which it has 
successively produced and passed. The philosophy of 
history resides not in isolated events and detached facts, 
but flows without interruption down the lapse of ages, the 
accompaniment of human destiny, and the life of ennobling 
actions ; at once penetrating all incidents, and perpetuat- 
ing all progress. 

In the present undertaking, the author proposes in gen- 
eral terms to remind the reader of the various master 
pieces which the past has bequeathed, rather than mi- 
nutely to describe their authors, or criticise their merits. 
It is not our object to pronounce a judgment upon the 
characters and achievements of the great actors on the 
stage we survey, but simply to point out the manifest 
unity and advancement of the great drama as it proceeds. 
All minute details are omitted, in order to present as dis- 
tinctly as possible the main outlines. As we contemplate 
the vast patrimony of knowledge, whence it came, and 
whither it leads, we watch the twilight on eastern hills as 
it brightens into midday, and then goes flooding over the 
broad expanse of the West. The consecutive series of 
historical events, though they transpire wide apart, and 
extend through a long lapse of ages, are never absolutely 
separated, but in the presence of the great Father are in- 
timately joined in a sublime association, and mutually co- 


operate for the highest good of the greatest number. 
Different currents may seem to flow from the most diverse 
sources, and in opposite directions, but they are all tribu- 
taries to one centralizing channel, wherein flows forward 
forever the accumulating aggregate of human fortunes, 
under the divine control. A papal decree was once ob- 
tained condemning Galileo's doctrine touching the revolu- 
tion of the earth ; but that did not arrest pre-ordained 
planetary motion, nor prevent all sublunary beings from 
turning with it. Fortunately the tide of improvement 
has already rolled onward so far, and with such increased 
might, that Oxford is just as impotent to stay the amel- 
iorating progress of mankind as was the Vatican, and both 
must advance with a diviner momentum, or be out- 
stripped by a younger competitor in the heavenly course. 
Without an intelligent faith in the divine purpose to 
incite and control perpetual progress toward the perfection 
of mankind, history is an insoluble enigma, a huge pile of 
detached fragments, and the great drama of humanity 
must forever remain devoid of all proper results. But 
even Aristotle expressed a worthier view, in saying that 
every end is great ; it is so, because it forms the beginning 
of something greater. In nature, nothing actually per- 
ishes. Death is birth, and the dissolution of every organ- 
ization is but the development and visible advancement 
of a fresher type of being. Naturally every substance is 
conservative of all the vitality it can possibly sustain, and 
when any given form apparently perishes, it is but to re- 
veal a still higher life that lay concealed behind it, await- 



ing the moment of its appointed succession to power. 
Thus decay and renewal constitute a perpetual struggle, 
identical life rising through multifarious death toward the 
supreme in freedom and power. In proportion to the 
graduated scale of existence, lesser or greater, lower or 
higher, this law applies with more palpable justness, and 
is best exemplified in the unpausing progress which hu- 
manity makes in its predetermined career. 

In tracing the evolution of those laws which rule in the 
various realms of simultaneous growth, we see that, while 
all are connected, and always act upon each other, some 
one of them, for the time being, must be preponderant, 
in order to impart an impulse to the rest, though, in its 
appointed time, another may be called to succeed, and re- 
ceive superior expansion. It is that which develops the 
most advanced nation of a given era, and constitutes the 
moving centre of progressive civilization. It is the con- 
necting bond and quickening impulse of those heroes who 
can marshal motives as well as armies, and make the grand- 
eur of their own nationality the introduction and nutri- 
ment of a grander nation to come. The vanguard of the 
human race, invested with and impelled by this indomita- 
ble energy, moves in the appointed orbit, losing neither 
momentum nor effulgence as it advances, but rather in- 
creasing both. If we inquire as to the area and agency 
of the chief progression in the domain of human history, 
it will be found that Japhet has been the constant leader, 
Europe the intermediate track, and America the manifest 
goal. From all the premises furnished by experience, and 


the fullest assurance of faith, we must infer that this con- 
tinent, ruled by the Kepuhlic upon its centre, is destined 
to garner the selected seed from antecedent harvests, that 
it may sow world- wide the germs of ultimate and universal 

Every great epoch has its master impulse, which acts as 
the precursor of a yet greater one to succeed it. A multi- 
tude of hearts may throb with ardent impatience, and 
myriads of hands may be ready to act, but not one profit- 
able pulsation is there, nor an effective achievement, save 
as the actuating soul of the age shall animate and direct. 
All great revolutions in the intellectual world are marked 
by successive steps of generalization and transitions into 
wider realms through more expanded truths. We advance 
from the obscure to the obvious, from single facts to ho- 
mogeneous combinations, and from particular doctrines to 
an all-comprehensive system. Nothing that does not re- 
late to the perpetual progress of the great drama of divine 
Providence, and illustrate it, is admitted within our plan. 
With the whole field of human history before us, we are 
first to mark the most prominent features, and then trace 
whatever is subordinate and auxiliary. Four mighty land- 
marks rise most prominently to the view, around which 
are concentrated all the beneficent inventions and re- 
nowned names, universally admired by the civilized world. 
But, though supreme, these are not separate from inferior 
agents. True, the chief glory of an age, or people, seems 
to be the work of a few leading minds, while all others are 
transient actors on the stage. But each epoch, and all 


connected therewith, is a unit, indissolubly joined to its 
successors, in the formation of which it has contributed all 
the primary elements. Every subsequent act is the legit- 
imate evolution of its predecessor, and from prelude to 
sequel, there is but one symmetrical development of an 
infinite plan. There may be deep and dark eddies in the 
stream, and even long reaches, wherein the current seems 
to assume a retrograde course, nevertheless its progress is 
not for a moment arrested, nor does it ever cease from in- 
numerable tributaries evermore to augment its force. The 
spring-head we may not discern, but the main channel can 
be clearly traced through every clime, without meeting 
with whirlpools completely stationary, or depths too stag- 
nant for some lofty use. 

Veritable history is but an exponent of Providence, a 
vivid commentary on the one great purpose of the divine 
mind in the work of redemption, and should be written, as 
it is realized, with this intent. This is the Ariadne clew 
which alone can guide us through the otherwise inextrica- 
ble labyrinth. We need, if possible, to reproduce, in sub- 
dued outline, the comprehensive political and ecclesiastical 
drama which the Eevelator witnessed, as in a moving pan- 
orama, reaching from the beginning of sublunary scenes 
to their end. Such would be the portraiture of great 
men, great revolutions, and great results, illuminated by 
the one glorious purpose of the great God. This is signal- 
ized not only in always providing and fitting instruments 
for each emergency that may arise, but in subordinating 
all agents, and the causes which exercise their worth, to 


the perfection of humanity, by means of salutary discipline. 
When the ancient muses inspired Herodotus to write, and 
the genius of the nation prompted him to recite before 
assembled Greece, it was the first epical announcement of 
that divine poetry which forever celebrates the destinies 
of our race. An immensity of facts has since been added, 
and innumerable scenes have further evolved the purposes 
of the Supreme to such an extent, that the utmost com- 
prehensiveness of dramatic delineation is requisite to give 
an adequate idea of the ever enlarging orbits of development, 
through which humanity has already passed, together with 
the legitimate unfoldings which a yet sublimer future will 
present. This highest ideal is beyond the reach of epical 
representation, and is of all unities the grandest since it 
considers the whole human race as one, like an individual 
soul, having the Infinite as the beginning and end of its 
finite existence. 

We are probably in near neighborhood to inventions 
and improvements soon to eclipse all foregone wonders. 
The greatest proficient in letters, art, or science, is merely 
a flugelman in the army of knowledge, and if called to 
proclaim the miracle of to-day, doubtless he will be further 
summoned to announce the reward of nocturnal marchings, 
by the news of a greater miracle, to-morrow. Every year 
finds us a new stadium in advance ; but it is only at great 
culminating eras that civilization seems to become aware 
of the actual speed of its reformatory motion. Victory 
always remains with the new spirit, and freedom, like 
truth, never can become old ; they are in God, and thereby 


the final battle and widest coixjuest must, eventually l>e 
secured. Not one great campaign was ever lost to human- 
ity, nor ever will be. Kvery historical nati- in its 

bosom the germs of more prolific and ennobling fruits, 
which their successors will employ to subdue and adorn 
hardier and richer liclds. Tho scenery changes with eaeh 
act performed, but the plot goes steadily forward. Provi- 
dence is making the tour of the world, and every now 
phase of civilization is an additional proof of a divinely 
identical plan. As the age to come shall lapse continu- 
ously upon the tombs of empires and generations of man- 
kind, we believe that this era will not, descend undistin- 
guished among the centuries past. Tho present march of 
the human mind, and the exalted ends it has in view, are 
so remarkable, that the period of our existence will over 
bo distinguished in the esteem of those who will e>me 
after us. From the past and the present a glorious future 
must succeed. We may most reasonably hope that the 
age now transpiring, the ago we have seen born, and which 
will see us buried, will transmit to our children and their 
remotest posterity, increasing virtues, and perpetually 
lessened wrongs. 

Such, in fine, is the profound and joyous conviction of 
the author, and to elucidate which has been consecrated a 
considerable portion of what leisure he has been able to 
command during the past seven years. Herein will not 
bo found one local allusion, or envenomed word, designed 
to wound any sect or section. But, with one absorbing 
purpose, he has pressed steadily forward, laying all avail- 


able resources under contribution, to show how each ad- 
vancing epoch recasts the history of the past, and foreto- 
kens the future, in contemplating it from its own point 
of view. Let us fondly hope that, on the side of the globe 
opposite to the first Ararat, shall a second be reached by 
the Ark of conservative civilization, whereon human rea- 
son and divine righteousness will repose in the sublimest 
earthly union, and thence send down a perfected race to 
propagate their virtues, and redeem mankind. 


NEW YORK, July 4th, 1856. 





II. ART 48 






II. ART 154 



V. RELIGION ... 208 





II. ART 265 



V. KELIGION . 325 



II ART 372 



V. KELIGION. . . . 423 





" Could we create so close, tender, and cordial a connection between the 
citizens of a state, as to induce all to consider themselves as relatives 
as fathers, brothers, and sisters, then this whole state would constitute but a 
single family, be subjected to the most perfect regulations, and become the 
happiest republic that ever existed upon earth." PLATO. 

"Although this great edifice of universal history, where the conclusion 
at least is still wanting, is in this respect incomplete, and appears but a 
mighty fragment of which even particular parts are less known to us than 
others; yet is this edifice sufficiently advanced, and many of its great wing* 
and members are sufficiently unfolded to our view, to enable us, by a lucid 
arrangement of the different periods of history, to gain a clear insight into 
the general plan of the whole." FREDERIC YON SCHLEGEL. 

"Whatever is necessary exists." DE MAISTBE. 

"God shall enlarge Japhet, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem." 
GENESIS ix. 2t. 






CIVILIZATION is earth's central stream, and all literatures, arts, 
sciences, philosophies, and religions are but tributaries to swell its 
tide and increase its current. To indicate the successive sources, 
describe the multiform elements, and demonstrate the progressive 
aggregation and enrichment of this unity in diversity, is the object 
of the present work. 

Much patient and critical research will be requisite at each re- 
move, but the chief difficulty lies at the threshold of the under- 
taking. When and with what does authentic history, illustrated 
through human progress, begin ? Geography, ethnology, and phi- 
lology must be our chief oracles in reply. 

Western Asia was doubtless the cradle of the earliest civilized 
communities, and the source of all authentic improvement. Mount 
Kylas gave the term koilon, heaven, to the Greeks, and is probably 
the highest eminence on earth. Moorcroft viewed it from a table- 
Jand more than seventeen thousand feet high, and describes its sides 
and craggy summits of still more tremendous altitude, apparently 
covered thickly with snow. At its base emerges the Indus, that 
mighty artery of western India, on the bank of which stands Attac, 
a name which the great civilizing race afterward applied to the 
fairest realm of their culture. Standing at this fountain-head, we 
find increased facilities for striking out the great historico-geograph- 
ical outline which marks the progress of the patriarch bands of 
India, Egypt, and Europe. The intimate connection between the 


Nilitic valley, Greece, and the lands of the Indus, is rendered yet 
more evident by the geographical development of the colonization 
of eastern Europe, in which the ingenious people of Abu-Sin, Abys- 
sinians, founded the mercantile and prosperous community of Cor- 
inthus. Cor-Indus, that is, mouth of the Indus, carried westward, 
became the classical Corinth. The distance from the Indian shore 
was not so great but that the sail which spread for Ceylon could 
waft to the Red Sea, where the fleets of Tyre, of Solomon and of 
Hiram were to be found. The ancient Institutes of Menu expressly 
refer to merchants who traffic beyond sea ; and, moreover, that the 
Hindoos were westward navigators from the earliest ages, the ves- 
tiges of their religion in the Archipelago abundantly attest. From 
the same lofty regions descended the Parasoos, that is, warriors of 
the Axe, to penetrate and give name to Persia, while Colchis and 
Armenia became as distinctly the product and proof of Indian col- 
onization. Down this central route came the Pilgrim Fathers of 
the first great civilizing nations, making the whole mass of authentic 
geography a venerable journal of emigration on the most gigantic 

Let us now briefly consider the progressive changes which have 
passed upon this great geographical chart of historical development, 
and observe their effects. Successive tribes of living beings have 
perished thereon, and been replaced with better and nobler races, 
until at last man came to be lord of earth, and to reap from it all 
the enjoyments increasing culture could bestow. From the begin- 
ning, progress has been maintained in and through convulsions, 
each succeeding tempest alternating with a sublimer calm. Rely- 
ing on human traditions alone, we can acquaint ourselves with no 
primary people, no first seat of civilization, no original philosophy, 
or natural wisdom. Guided by a higher authority, it is necessary 
to penetrate the intervening mists of symbolical fables, and collect 
numerous scientific facts, in order to attain secure ground, whereon 
the first germ of humanity was planted, and whence it has perpet- 
ually developed itself under the control of unfaltering law. At the 
farthest horizon of the most venerable antiquity, several light points 
appear, the harbingers of civilization, radiating toward each other 
and indicating a common point of union in the darkness behind. 
They resemble the superior lights among the stars of the firmament, 


whose brightness we perceive amid the eternal suns of the universe, 
but whose relative distances from our own planet it is impossible to 
ascertain. The dwelling of a divine spark in the human bosom 
has, even from the obscurest height of Caucasus, been recognized 
in the beautiful tradition of Prometheus ; but the question of the 
first springing up of mankind can not be fully elucidated by mere 
antiquarian research. In the last result, that is a matter to be left 
to the disclosures of revelation and the exercise of faith. 

The Mosaic narrative of creation is the primitive document of 
our race, and this commemorates the repeated convulsions and pro- 
digious corruption of the world, previous to the Noachian flood. 
Of the earliest period, it says : " The earth was without form, and 
void ; and darkness was upon the face of the deep : and the Spirit 
of God moved upon the face of the waters." Gen. i. 2. Of post- 
diluvian history, every thing was embraced in that last recorded 
fact of Noah's life, a prophecy delivered in the infancy of mankind, 
and which every succeeding development has only tended to illus- 
trate and confirm. Gen. ix. 18, 19 " The sons of Noah that went 
forth from the ark, were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. These are the 
three sons of Noah, and of them was the whole (inhabited) earth 
overspread." On these three races distinct destinies were pro- 
nounced, they receiving a moral and physical nature accordant 
to their several allotments. The office of extension was given to 
Japhet, that of religion to Shem, and servitude to Ham. 

Ethnology, the science of nations, in its most recent and profound 
deductions, differs somewhat in detail, but the great conclusion is 
the same. The threefold branches radiate from a common stock, 
and in their growth from east to west, they mark the high road of 
universal progress, and adorn the stage on which the entire drama 
of ancient history has been performed. The prediction of Noah is 
the record of human destiny, and has been subjected to the severest 
test. Material vestiges of creation, and the earliest monuments of 
mind, alike place the origin of man in the central East. The peo- 
ple of the Brahmins come down from the Hindo-Khu into the 
plains of the Indus and the Ganges ; Assyria and Bactriana receive 
their inhabitants from the high lands of Armenia and Persia. 
Those nations advance rapidly, and, in the remotest antiquity, at- 
tained a degree of culture of which the temples and monuments of 


Egypt and India, together with the palaces of Nineveh, are glorious 
witnesses. As the basis of preliminary improvement, they rapidly 
developed to a degree, then movement was stayed, and thenceforth 
their stationary remains mark the oriental boundary of the historic 
race. Ethnology testifies that Ham peopled Egypt, and that the 
primary emigration thither from Asia may have been ante-Noachian. 
The native name of Egypt is Chami, the black ; and this fact is 
symbolically represented by the name of its predestined ancestor, 
Cham, Shem's eldest brother, Japhet being the youngest of the 
three. When the comprehensive fortunes of the triple founders of 
our race were foretold, Shem was called the elder brother of Ja- 
phet, but not of Ham. Gen. x. 32 "By these were the nations 
divided after the flood." Thus the great middle country in west- 
ern Asia is the central point of the general view. On the south, 
the race of Ham includes degenerate Egypt, and all the sombre 
African tribes beyond. In the north Caucasian regions, the race 
of Japhet spread widely ; and in central Asia the race of Shem. 
These general positions have been proved -by the ethnologists, 
Pritchard and Bunsen, and are confirmed by the most reliable 
archaeologists, as well as by the leading physiologists of the world, 
Morton, Cuvier, and Blumenbach. 

But we will pass to the third and most copious means of demon- 
stration, philology. It is believed that a furious religious war, long 
anterior to the historic Shem, drove a large multitude of oriental 
inhabitants westward, and that these became the primary stratum 
of European humanity, afterward superseded by the Japhetic race, 
wherever the germs of true history took root. The names given 
by the Pelasgi to the chief mountains of Greece, as well as the 
name itself of that mysterious people, point to an emigration from 
India, whence a twofold stream of emigration seems to have flowed. 
We have alluded above to the one which, under the auspices of 
the semi-historic Shem, passed through Persia and northern Arabia 
into Egypt, and adjoined the unhistoric Ham. At a later period, 
whatever of excellence that transition realm developed passed into 
southern Greece. The other current, the grandest and most pro- 
lific of all, passed through Persia, along the Caspian sea, over 
mount Caucasus, and thence through Thrace direct to northern 
Greece. The productive tribes, at their first appearance on the 


horizon, enter upon the prospective stage- with the elements of lan- 
guage, and with this fundamental power eliminated for their use, 
they were formed into the social compact of progressive humanity. 

The earliest inventors of the glorious art of writing deserve the 
most grateful regard. The search after them, and their several 
stages of discovery, tends to strengthen the view held by many, 
that the common chronology of history embraces too limited a 
period ; and that hoary India, at an era anterior to human record, 
originated the first pictorial system and communicated it to the 
Chinese, whose records attribute their mode of writing to a foreign 
source. But the yellow races of the far East are destined to remain 
still in the dawn : the sun of civilization has never risen sufficiently 
high above them to give vital growth to any product they have 
either invented or received. But the old emigrants of Egypt soon 
reduced their pictorial language to rough hieroglyphic outlines, and 
then to signs yet more approximating sounds, which laid the founda- 
tion for European alphabets. 

Assyria, Babylonia, and Persia, have left us no specimens of their 
writing, aside from the dubious carvings upon the lofty rocks of 
Asia. But this "handwriting upon the wall," so long ago inter- 
preted by the prophet Daniel, is now laid open to general compre- 
hension, through Layard and Rawlinson, as a most important link 
in the philological chain. It was indeed strange that when the 
Egyptians bad broken down the thin partition which separated 
them from phonetic language, their last monuments should exhibit 
no nearer approach to it than the first. The cuneiform inscriptions 
6f Assyria render the order of progression perfect, connecting the 
later achievements in literary research with the previous triumphs 
of Young and Champollion. We discover syllables at length ; and 
if on the banks of the Nile, we found a full grown adult, but impo- 
tent and out of the way, we meet, on the banks of the Euphrates, 
with a vigorous child, yet imperfect certainly, but actually advanc~ 
ing, and in the right path. Leaving the cumbrous and astute para* 
phernalia of pictorial and symbolic chaitacters, the speaking signs 
passed from the arrow-points of Assyria into the flexile and immor- 
tal worth of the Phoenician alphabet. As soon as this invention 
had been planted in a neighboring state, the alphabetic system was 
appropriated by the great leader of the Hebrews, when they re- 



turned to the land of their fathers, and beeame neighbors to the 
Phoenicians. Certain modifications supervened, adapted to their 
political and religious institutions ; but the original names of the 
signs which constitute the Hebrew alphabet, strikingly prove their 
derivation from a hieroglyphic system, and indicate clearly a pic- 
torial origin. Moreover, the first allusion to writing in the books 
of Moses is to tjie tablets of stone, " after the manner of a signet," 
by which we may understand engraved writing, like that of the 
Assyrian cylinders, or scales. 

If the Shemitic tongues exhibit undeniable proof of their being 
derived from the western part of central Asia, the Indo-European 
languages present no less evidence of the gradual extension of these 
races from the eastern part. The Shemitic tribes never extended 
into Europe, except by temporary excursions. With the exception 
of Armenia, they have not lost ground in Asia, and have, from the 
beginning, penetrated into Africa, where no traces of Japhetic ori- 
gin are discernible. Of Shem, the Arabic, Aramaic, and Hebrew 
are the three great monuments. Japhet nationalized the Sanscrit, 
Persian, and Greek, with all their descendants, the languages of 
beauty, power and progress everywhere. 

In early Greece, a purely Egyptian element was planted by 
Cecrops, a native of Sais, in the Delta, but whether he was a native 
Copt does not appear. He migrated B.C. about 1550, and mar- 
ried a daughter of the Pelasgi, so it is not likely he introduced any 
of his own language. The same may be said of the colonist Da- 
naus and his family, though he, as brother of the king Sesostris, 
was doubtless of unmingled Egyptian race. A much stronger ele- 
ment must be accounted for in the Phoenician immigration of Cad- 
mus, and the constant intercourse kept up by that people with con- 
tinental Greece. Crete should be regarded as the stepping-stone 
on the auspicious high way, the first amalgam wherein Egyptian, 
Pelasgic, and Phoenician civilization mingled, and, when properly 
blended, was transferred to the main land. Then came the purely 
Japhetic element, and gave tone and character to all. That great 
genius of Hellas, whose name has perished like that of the inventor 
of the plow, but who lives enshrined in the most intellectual of 
all monuments, worked upon this eastern element as he did upon 
every other capability submitted to his inventive and intellectualiz- 


ing power. He rendered the limited alphabet of Shem universal, 
eliminating the signs for harsh, guttural sounds, and by preserving 
those which were rejected, in -the series of the numerals. The 
twenty-two letters of Shem became the twenty-four of Japhet, and 
thus, by their combined energies, a philosophical alphabet was pro- 
duced, at once the aggregate of all Asiatic idioms, and the guar- 
anty of all European culture. It was the receiver and transmitter 
of the most noble treasures ever garnered in the realms of intellect 
and emotion, a pure medium for the investigating faculty of the 
senses, as well as the mightiest weapon for the plastic and vitaliz- 
ing power of imagination, the Greeks ever possessed, and which 
imperishable heritage they have left as the richest gift to coming 

During thrice ten centuries of the early world, the various orien- 
tal nations followed in their development an isolated course; and 
two vast peoples, the Chinese and Indians, have remained to this 
day in a totally sequestered state. They are in the same condition 
of immobility now, as at the beginning of the historical nations, 
that is to say, only six, or at most seven centuries before the Chris- 
tian era. Still, India, with its philosophy and myths, its literature 
and laws, is worthy of special study, as it presents a page of the 
primitive annals of the world. But before the brilliant rays of the 
East streamed toward us from Hellenic sources, every thing seemed 
obscure as to an explorer of the majestic tombs of Egypt, the 
farther he advances within, the more is he deserted by light. The 
first reliable guide we meet, is the art of writing ; and this, so far 
from being an invention of recent times, reaches back to the most 
venerable antiquity. The only key to an understanding of the 
literature of Media and Persia, and in some respects of Greece, is 
furnished by the languages of India, and especially by that pre- 
served in the hymns of the Veda, some of which ascend to the 
remote era of B. c. 2448. A claim to antiquity so great would 
appear incredible, were it not sustained beyond a doubt by the 
Assyrian remains recently exhumed. Like the region of its origin, 
Sanscrit literature is perfectly anomalous, and bears a striking re- 
semblance to the extinct relics of that vast area over which it 
passed, to become the parent of all those dialects which in Europe 
are called classical. 


Escaping from the mummified civilization of Egypt and the 
inflexible East, we strike more boldly into the high road of all im- 
provement, and observe how rapidly power of every kind passes 
from Shem to the irresistible Japhet. The continuous stream of 
humanity moves clearly and with increased speed through a new 
and broader channel. As Shem was employed to introduce all 
religions on earth, so is he made to perform the most prominent 
part in the theological culture of mankind. But conscious specu- 
lation, elegant letters, and beautifying art all belong to the younger 
Japhet, whose heroes are Hellenes, and whose magnificent progeny 
are the myriad multitudes of the entire Indo-Germanic stock. 

Thus, by the light of linguistic research, we descend from the 
exalted cradle of the human race to the prepared field of their 
first grand development As we approximate the sphere wherein 
all faculties are free, and each element of excellence soars rapidly 
to its culminating height, a historical unity becomes manifest in 
language, wisdom, arts, sciences, and the most comprehensive civili- 
zation. These innumerable facts are no patch-work of incoherent 
fragments, no chance rivulets flowing in isolated beds, but tributa- 
ries to one uninterrupted current, correlative proofs of one and the 
same grand development. Language, the last struggle of the ago- 
nized age of Ham, the first triumph of the reason of Shem, was 
the magnificent medium perfected by Japhet, and through which, 
under the auspices of the Periclean age, universal man might see 
all his glories simultaneously revealed. Five hundred years before 
the Christian era, all nationalities east of Athens had perished ; then 
and there, in consummate literature, we behold God's vanguard on 
earth. To the Hellenes, the beautiful of every type was revealed. 

In fullness, exactness, flexibility and grace, the Greek language 
surpasses all other linguistic forms, and remains the first great 
masterpiece of the classic world. As we watch the growth of a 
tender exotic plant, gradually removed to a higher latitude, and at 
each stage of its matured beauty experience fresh joy, so the phi- 
lologist watches the tender shoot of the first European tongue as it 
unfolds under the mild skies of Ionia, passes to the isles of the 
JEgean, and finally strikes its strong roots in fruitful Attica. In 
infancy, it was redolent with the fragrance of festive song ; in ma- 
turity it scattered abroad priceless worth in every style of litera- 


ture, art, science and philosophy ; till at last, touched by the hand 
of despotism, its living beauty faded, but even in death, IJke Me- 
dora, is still invested with the lingering charms of youth. 

Literature, as we design to use the term, embraces all those men- 
tal exertions which relate to man and his welfare ; but which, in 
their most refined form, display intellect as embodied in written 
thought. The first great original was produced by the Greeks. It 
is true they received their alphabet and many imperfect elements 
from the Asiatic nations, but the perfected whole of a national litera- 
ture was doubtless their own. The Shemite could even excel in 
the primitive strains of poetry, but the restrictive power of local 
attachments rendered him incapable of producing any more regu- 
lar form. That vivid combination of lyric beauty and epic might, 
the drama, which constitutes a complete representation of national 
destinies, was entirely unknown to him. The " Song of Solomon," 
which best represents the mental character of that race, shows that 
however near the Hebrew mind in its zenith, might approach the 
higher forms of art, it could not go beyond the ode. Though the 
elements of all literature, art and science existed in the east, Se- 
sostris of the old empire was obliged to borrow from Japhetic in- 
ventors, as Solomon and Hiram did. 

The geographical position of Athens is worthy of notice. In 
the march of civilization from east to west, she stood nearly mid- 
way, and extended her open palm to receive and impart the physi- 
cal and intellectual wealth of nations. Her people united the hardi- 1 
hood of the mountaineer with the elasticity of maritime tribes, and 
never had a country of such diversified physical qualities, elicited 
such varied excellences of mind. We look in vain for like effects 
among the colossal monarchies from which the colonists had been 
sifted, and are led in wonder to contrast the smallness of the coun- 
try with the wealth of its products. Ranging from Olympus on 
the north, to Paenarus, her southern headland, Greece extended but 
two hundred and fifty miles ; while two thirds of that distance 
would conduct the traveler from the temple of Minerva, on the 
eastern promontory of Sunium, to Leucadia her western extreme. 
But if the superfices of that area were insignificant, whereon the 
dragon teeth were sown, prolific of all inland fruitfulness, its coasts 
were rich in harbors, from one of which the Argonauts embarked 


on their romantic voyage, followed in succeeding ages by numerous 
larger expeditions in successful search after golden gains. The 
small but glorious land of Hellas lay within the line of beauty, 
by which, from the first, the uncouth barbarian was separated from 
the graceful Greek. Coincident with the happy period of the po- 
litical history of that land, all her mental glories occupy no greater 
space than the three centuries which intervened between Solon and 
Alexander, having Pericles for the culminating point. 

It is necessary that the fullness of invention should precede the 
refinement of art, legend before history, and poetry before criti- 
cism. A long period of traditionary wealth existed between the 
Trojan war and the arts of peace, upon which the plastic spirit of 
Greece breathed an energizing originality and independence, creat- 
ing the variety, beauty, and immortality of unrivaled works. The 
Hellenic race, children of the beautiful, became veritably a nation, 
in expressing the first great idea of earth, beauty. This entered 
into all the elements which composed their interior life, as well as 
outward expressions, and stamped upon all departments a distinct 
physiognomy. Uncounted millions had roamed the wilds of Africa 
and Asia, of whom history takes no account, because they matured 
no idea ; but the true dawn of improvement began at length to 
appear, and representative individuals stood forth as the aggregate 
of anterior worth and progenitors of prospective glories. A great 
age was easily read in a few resplendent proper names. 

Pericles was the exactest symbol of his age, his character its pro- 
duct, and his career its historian. His advent marked the close of 
a heroic period in the sudden meridian of fascinating civilization. 
For forty years he was the ruling genius of that glorious city 
which it was the ambition of his life to adorn for exhibition, and 
crown for command. Each individuality fashioned by Homer, ex- 
pressed some distinct quality of heroic power, and thereby repre- 
sents a separate class. Grace characterizes Nereus, dignity Aga- 
memnon, impetuosity Hector, massiveness the unswerving prowess 
of the greater, and velocity the lesser Ajax ; perseverance Ulysses, 
and intrepidity Diomede ; but in Achilles a"lone, all these emana- 
tions of energy and elegance, mingle and are combined in one 
splendid whole. And so the susceptible intellect of Pericles pre- 
cipitated the world of beauty held in suspense at the period of his 


birth, and laid every element under contribution to nourish his 
predilections, supply his resources, and consummate the multifa- 
rious splendors which forever glorify the culmination of his power. 
Democratic freedom had inspired lyric melody, epic grandeur, and 
dramatic force : that music of painting, and sculpture of poetry. 
Tragedy was exclusively created by the Athenian mind, and joined 
all the other great masterpieces of human excellence as they gath- 
ered in the order of perfection round the Parthenon. With the 
epos and drama came the harbingers of philosophical history, and 
historical philosophy. At the feet of Minerva, on the magnificent 
terrace of the Acropolis, as in the Portico, Lyceum, or Garden, the 
Japhetic thinker sat in masterly scrutiny over the greatest mystery, 
the mycrocosm man, and his eternal destiny. Dignified achieve- 
ments had given rise to historic literature, ethical disquisition re- 
quired elaborate rhetoric, political debate in the midst of inflamed 
parties necessitated persuasive speech, and Pericles arose the master 
of every art. Like the golden lamp, which the exquisite skill ot 
Callimachus hung in the national temple, and which was fed once 
a year, the great Athenian saw kindled in his age a pharos of lit- 
erary splendor which will be the genial guide and model of all 
masters so long as time shall last. Then did thought begin to throb 
and glow with ardent aspirations. Indian, Egyptian, and Persian 
works only attest man's power over the dullness of materialism ; 
but Greece demonstrated his sovereignty over the might of intel- 
lect. The East was grand, impressive, awful ; this fair metropolis 
of the West as infinitely better than all that, she was beautiful. 
In Athens was exhibited more than power, or genius coarse and 
unfettered by the instincts of elegant taste ; her ornaments were 
pure, her magnificence serene. For grace, symmetry, and loveli- 
ness, we must look for the best models amongst that wonderful 
people who still remain in the great past, a centre of literary glory 
above all competition; from whose poets we derive our best ideas 
of the beautiful and sublime ; from whose artists we copy the eter- 
nal rules of taste ; and from whose orators we catch the high pas- 
sions which most thrill the human breast. Such, in general terms, 
was the age when Pericles ruled in the first of cities, not by the 
degrading arms of mercenaries, but through the magical influence 
of genius and talent. 


From this comprehensive survey, let us descend to a more spe- 
cific notice of the superior luminaries in that great constellation, 
as each shines in his appropriate sphere. And first of all, let 
us contemplate the blind old minstrel we dreamed of in our child- 
hood, who sang on his way six and twenty centuries ago, and his 
songs are echoing to the nations with unrivaled enchantment still. 

Homer was the encyclopaedia of civilization in his time. He 
fertilized antiquity to such an overflowing extent, that all the parent 
geniuses were recognized as his children, and the richest harvests 
ever garnered, were accredited to the seed he had sown. The epic 
of his creation, mirrored traditionary history in transparent song. 
The minute was depicted, the grand illuminated, and all the glori- 
ous world of heroic character and romantic scenery moved past 
the spectator in serene dignity and poetic splendor. The highest 
utterance was requisite to embody the intensest conceptions, and the 
Ionic dialect was exactly fitted to both. Language is the indi- 
vidual existence of a national spirit, the external reason, as reason 
is the internal speech ; and the purest of idioms sprang perfected 
from the lips of Homer, as Minerva came completely armed from 
the brow of Jove. The hexameter therein assumed the freest and 
most forcible movement possible within the limits of law, and 
thenceforth epic composition ever remained Ionic in language, 
measure, and melody. Looking back upon the succeeding age, and 
its grateful enthusiasm, we need not wonder that a tyrant lived in 
the affection, and died under the benediction of Greece, for collect- 
ing the works of Homer in a volume, and his ashes in an urn. 

The epic and cyclic poets were followed by lyrical writers, and 
the dramatists of Athens, who flourished extemporaneously with all 
that is most admirable in the kindred productions of music, paint- 
ing, sculpture, architecture, philosophy, and the civil forms of 
democratic life. Orpheus, Linus, Musaeus, and others, the earliest 
poets of Greece, but of whom little is known, indicate the existence 
of a mass of poetic material extremely antique, which began to be 
reduced to writing as soon as the Dorians emerged from barbarism 
and the ignoble pursuits of war. When they awoke to national 
consciousness, they found themselves surrounded by an enchanted 
land, teeming everywhere with the fascination of heroic deeds 
done by heroic men, and the Cadmean Hesiod arose to garner the 


rich harvest in his immortal songs. Subjected to the outer world, 
and attracted by all that was novel, beautiful, or sublime, the people 
listened to tales of deified heroes, whose devotion and wanderings 
filled a preceding age with renown, and their own bosoms with de- 
light. It was thus that popular legends assumed by degrees an 
epic dignity, or by more flexile art were perfected into the beauty 
of festive airs. But into whatever mold the golden current was 
cast, the narrative remained clear, impassioned, varied, minute, as 
the taste of the age and eagerness of listening multitudes required. 
Thus Homer and Hesiod were as truly legislators and founders of 
national polity, as Moses and Zoroaster had been in their respective 

The earliest patrons of literature, were the Peisistratidge who 
endeavored to supply the general want of books, by inscribing the 
select passages on columns along the public streets. All that was 
most valuable and attainable, such as fragmentary laws, proverbial 
sentences of wise men, fables of JEsop, verses of Simonides, to- 
gether with the lyric poets and tragedians of primitive times, 
Theognis and Solon, were collected in the library which they were 
the first to found. By the same conservative foresight, Homer was 
arranged in continuous form, and superseding the foregoing literary 
world, became the foundation and source of a better one already 

Archilochus, memorable as the inventor of Iambic verse ; Ter- 
pander, celebrated for his exquisite talents as a musician ; and Ster- 
sichorus, of whom a few beautiful fragments remain, bring us to 
the consideration of that more renowned trio, Sappho, Pindar and 
Anacreon. The latter was a voluptuary, whose luxurious pictures 
might please the sensual, but contained nothing beautiful or sub- 

Pindar was cotemporary with JSschylus, and senior to Bacchy- 
lides, Simonides of Ceos, Alcman, and Alcseus, all of whom he ex- 
celled in lyrical excellence. Corinna, his famous teacher, beat him 
five times in musical composition, the fair rival perhaps triumphing 
by personal charms, rather than through poetical superiority. But 
in the highest order of his art, Pindar was almost always declared 
supreme. He had a particular regard for Pan, and took up his 
abode contiguous to the temple of that deity, where he composed 



(he hymns which were sung by the Theban virgins in honor of 
that mystic emblem of universal nature. This Theban eagle, 
whose pride of place is still undisturbed in the Grecian heavens, 
dedicated his chief odes to the glory of the Olympic games, when 
the selectest aspirants of a mighty nation joined in the competition 
for prizes awarded there. 

Sappho, it would seem, was endowed with a soul overflowing 
with acute sensitiveness, that glorious but dangerous gift. Her 
life, as indicated by the relics of her composition, was a current of 
perpetual fluctuation, like a troubled billow, now tossed to the 
stars, and anon buried in the darkest abyss. " To such beings," is 
the remark of Frederick Schlegel, " the urn of destiny assigns the 
loftiest or most degrading fate ; close as is their inward union, they 
are, nevertheless, entirely divided, and even in their overflow of 
harmony, shattered and broken into countless fragments." Few 
relics of her harp remain, and these are borne down to us on the 
stream of time, imbued with the lofty tenderness of cureless melan- 
choly. She was of that old Greek temper that wreathed the skel- 
eton with flowers, and to her might be applied the legend which 
testifies that the nightingales of sweetest song were those whose 
nests were built nearest to the tomb of Orpheus. The early lyrics 
of Greece were productions full of wonders. They glowed with the 
hues of that orient of their origin, and where all forms appear jn 
purple glory ; each flower beams like a morning ray fastened to 
earth, and eagle thoughts soar to the sun on golden wings. Each 
style of national poetry grew gracefully and erect, like the palm- 
tree, with its rich yet symmetrical crown ; and while in broad day 
it was fairest to the eye, even in gloom it bore nocturnal charms, 
as glow-worms illuminated the leaves, and birds of sweetest note 
perched on the boughs to sing. 

Passing from the fervor of youth to the reflection of maturity, 
the epic muse retreated before the lyric. Plants of a richer foliage 
and more pungent perfume sprang up in. the garden of poetry. 
Language more compressed and intense was required, and the 
^Eolic and Doric became the appropriate organ of the latter, as the 
Ionic had been of the former style. In the Attic era, the partial 
excellence of earlier times became fully developed under the focal 
effulgence of universal rays ; and, as the altar of Vesta united all 


the citizens of the same town, the crowned champions in every 
department of letters gathered under " the eye of Greece," and 
paid tribute to the age of Pericles. Then each leading writer,, 
called to conserve all antecedent worth, lived on the capital amassed 
by unskillful predecessors, and with innate facility wrought it into 
the continuous chain of human improvement. Not in the colossal 
and impracticable shapes which float in the mists of the hoary 
North, was this majestic style of literature produced ; nor in the 
florid barbarism of the effete East and South, but with that profound 
feeling and piercing expression, elegant and forcible as an arrow 
from the bow of Ulysses, was it inspired with that lofty spirit of 
endeavor which leaps evermore towards the azure tent of the stars. 
If the car of the hero sometimes kindled its axle to a flame, as it 
neared the goal, his eye was yet undazzled, his hand faltered not 
on the curb, but the greater the momentum, the firmer was his 
grasp. So with the Greek poet, every thing was solid and refined, 
harmoniously fitted in the several parts, and superbly burnished as 
a whole. Though from the day of their becoming nationalized, 
the Greeks possessed vast stores of unwrought material, yet was 
uothing needlessly employed. They enhanced the value of their 
products by condensing their worth. What Corinna said to Pindar, 
who, in his youth, showed some inclination to extravagance, " That 
one must sow with the hand, not with a full sack," illustrates the 
national taste, and exemplifies a principle which pervades their en- 
tire literature. While always earnest, they never violate decorum, 
but in the greatest extremes of joy or grief, their heroes, like Po- 
lyxena, even in death, fall with dignity. It was most natural for 
the Greeks to symbolize imagination under the image of Pegasus, 
who bore reins as well as wings. The severity of their taste was 
yet further indicated by the legend that when borne by this power, 
Perseus with indecorous temerity flew too near Olympus, he was 
precipitated by the angry gods, though himself one of their sons. 
The drama was the youngest and most perfect of Attic creations, 
and that great cycle of the arts Which had an epic origin, naturally 
returned into itself by means of this. Tragedy was the purest 
elimination, and its progress may be easily traced. First, a whole 
populace assembled in some market-place the miscellaneous chorus, 
or dance ; then the recreation was limited to men capable of bear- 


ing arms ; and, finally, the people were separated into spectators 
and trained performers. The lyric hymn of Apollo blended with 
dithyramhic odes to Bacchus ; the strophe was distinguished from 
the antistrophe, and the epode was added ; the dialogue between 
choragoi and exarchi followed ; and, finally, came the separation 
of the chorus into these speakers and the choreutae, a distinction 
as important as the previous one into chorus and spectators. Thus 
were all the component parts of tragedy completed, before the Per- 
sian war, when every thing the Greeks did was great and fascinat- 
ing, as if created by magic, and their dramatic compositions were 
the most beautiful of all. 

The finest genius of a great era always turns toward the highest 
sphere for exercise, and thus preserves an equilibrium between 
popular taste and the direction of its talent. When lyrical poetry 
had transmigrated into choral song, and epic history merged into 
a dramatic plot and dialogue, the greatest of tragedians extant was 
appointed to consecrate the union and preserve its worth. ^Eschy- 
lus was born at Eleusis, B. c. 525, about the time Phrynichus ele- 
vated the Thespian romance into dramatic personation, and his 
advent was opportune to impress upon this department of letters a 
deep and enduring stamp. With an ardent temperament, early 
exalted by the fervid strains of Homer, he imbibed, in maturity, 
the ambrosial influence of the above-named precursor, in company 
with his senior associate, Pindar, and with him wove thoughts to 
the lofty music of the dithyrambic ode. Passing through this order 
of excellence to a still higher range, in the same year Athenian 
valor lighted the flames of the Persian war at the conflagration of 
Sardis, the son of Euphorion produced his first tragedy. Pratinas 
and Choerilus were for a season his competitors ; but he soon dis- 
tanced them all, and won the ivy chaplet, then first bestowed, 
instead of the goat and ox, as the most glorious literary crown. 

At this period the structural skill of the Athenians had greatly 
improved, and as the celebrity of their drama increased, immense 
theatres arose on the hill-side, and were thronged by thousands, 
tier above tier, open to the wonders of expanding nature, em- 
bellished by the living sun. The ^Egean on one hand, and vast 
mountains on the other, fanned by the breeze and relieved against 
brilliant sides, were harmonious features which nature accumulated 


round the scene. The gigantic proportions of the theatre, and the 
mighty range of the audience, were fully equaled by the perform- 
ance itself, when Themistocles felt honored in appearing as chora- 
gus, and through kindred interpreters JEschylus unfolded the mys- 
teries of the thrilling plot. Advancing intellect demanded grand 
ideal personifications ; and, to meet the cravings of an age which 
even the perfect epic could no longer satisfy, philosophy passed into 
poetry, and what Homer had done for more material thought, 
^Eschylus achieved for mind. All the vague mysteries and 
symbolical ethics of the East were measurably purged from alloy, 
while their substance was melted into the tortured immortality 
of Prometheus, and bound to that mount of all literary beauty, the 

As ^Eschylus expressed the race and period from which emerged 
Themistocles and Aristides, Sophocles was the correlative of 
Phidias, and the great Olympian who was the patron of them both. 
Indeed, from the majesty of his mien, and the symmetrical grandeur 
of his genius, he was called the Pericles of poetry. Supreme power 
lurked in his repose, and his thunders startled all the more because 
they broke upon the multitude from cloudless skies. 

Of all the great originals at Athens, the drama was the most in- 
digenous, and under the culture of Sophocles perfected its growth. 
Imagination had fulmined with broader and brighter flashes on the 
preceding generation ; but the works of his hand, though equally 
fresh from the fountains of nature, were more imbued with reason, 
and the solidity of manly strength. The age of Pericles was pecu- 
liarly the age of art ; and Sophocles was but one of many who, to 
excel in his own department, mastered every cognate secret of wis- 
dom or beauty, and brought all into subordination to his own 
absorbing design. He lived at a time when the trophies of Mil- 
tiades, the ambition of Alcibiades, the extravagance of Cimon, and 
the taste of Pericles, not less than the science and art, erudition 
and enthusiasm, philosophy and eloquence, diffused through all 
classes of the general populace, rendered the Athenians at once the 
most competent to appreciate, and the most difficult to please. 
Recondite disquisition was a pastime, the Agora itself but a 
genial academe; so elevated and yet so delicate were the soul 
and sensibilities of the excited mass, that the wisest of their 


sages was justified in asserting that the common people were 
the most accurate judges of whatever was graceful, harmonious, 
or sublime. 

In the growth of a flower there is continued development, visibly 
marked by successive mutations, but indivisibly connected from 
beginning to end. Simultaneous with complete maturity glows 
the instant of consummate bloom, the highest point of fullness, 
fragrance, and fascination. That splendid culmination in the pro- 
gressive refinement which adorned and made fruitful the garden 
of Greece, was signalized by the faultless forms and transparent 
language left us by Sophocles. The lucid beauty of his works was 
the chosen mirror of Athens, to reflect internal harmony, and the 
greatest beauty of soul. The dazzling glories of Greece in general, 
and of Athens in particular, imbued the great writers with corre- 
sponding ideas of the greatness of human nature, which they en- 
deavored to represent in its struggles with fate and the gods. In 
the Prometheus of ^Eschylus especially, the wilderness and other 
natural horrors are made to relieve the statuesque severity of the 
scene, and are employed, like the chains and wedge, as instruments 
by which Jupiter seeks to intimidate the benefactor of mankind. 
But in such delineations as Edipus at Colonus, Ajax, and Philoctetes, 
Sophocles, in his glorious art, showed a great advancement beyond 
his predecessors, by intermingling the emotions of human love, and 
causing the more cheerful sentiments, inspired by lovelier natural 
scenes, to become important elements, not merely in the imaginative 
adornment, but also in the dramatic plan. If the Ionic epic was a 
tranquil lake, mirroring a serene sky in its bosom, and transfiguring 
diversified charms along its smiling shores ; the Attic drama became 
a mighty stream which calmly yet resistlessly courses within its 
stedfast banks, is impeded by no obstacle, diverted by no attraction, 
salutes with equal dignity the sunny mead and gloomy mountain 
shadow, and, after a majestic sweep from its far-off source, mingles 
its strength at last in the omnipotence of the sea. Thus the highest 
wealth of refined poetry was preserved in the pure casket of the 
richest tongue, and the Attic drama was left to man as the master- 
piece of linguistic art. Sophocles, like the fabled Theban, seems 
to have built up his elegant fabric with the charms of music ; and 
if JEschylus first elevated tragedy to heroic dignity, he softened its 


rugged strength into harmonious sweetness, and stamped upon the 
precious treasure the signet of immortal worth. 

Euripides, like his predecessors, was a proficient in a great variety 
of arts, but neither sublime in conception, nor severe in style, as 
^Eschylus and Sophocles had been. But his spirit teemed with 
splendid and amiable qualities, whose captivating power was highly 
relished by the age it came to decorate and complete. The ener- 
getic dignity of the first great master, and the chaste sweetness of 
his still greater rival, had passed ; now appeared one who was 
indeed worthy of much admiration, but the least divine of the noble 
triad, whose natural course declined from the elevated cothurnus 
toward level ground. 

When Euripides clothed Pentheus in female dress, and exhibited 
Hercules as a glutton, he showed himself to be the precursor of 
comedy, that first symptom of literary decline, and thus won the 
praise of Menander, as he deserved the lashT of Aristophanes. The 
latter, who was his cotemporary, unceasingly castigated his effemi- 
nate prettiness, but never attacked the manly elegance of Sophocles, 
or the gigantic vigor of ^Eschylus. Agathon, with others of some 
note, continued for a season to write for the stage ; but in Euripides 
the forcible and refined tragedy of Greece came to an end. As the 
nine Muses wept at the funeral of Achilles, so grieved the nations 
at that mighty fall. 

There was the wisdom of a deep moral in that Athenian law, 
which interdicted a judge of the Areopagus from writing a comedy. 
Until a grosser age supervened, the Greeks were not inclined to 
scrutinize the ludicrous side of things. The goddess of the Iliad, 
who warded off the dart from her favorite, was an apt symbol of 
the Genius of Civilization, throned on the Acropolis, where Beauty, 
mother of Excellence, threw down her mantle and intercepted the 
arrows of every foe. Greek farce was often insolent, but never utterly 
vicious. While Aristophanes portrayed the foibles of town-life 
with a caustic hand, he ceased not to keep in view a healthful 
suburb of gardens in redeeming bloom. As Minerva, with precious 
elixir, concealed the wrinkles of Ulysses, the age of Pericles per- 
formed well its mission of investing every thing venerable and 
instructive with the most elaborate charms. 

All the gentler shapes of fancy that, in the preparatory time, 


bloomed in the lyrics of Greece, were only flowers unfolding round 
the aspiring trunk of tragedy, attracted by its superior strength, 
and sheltered by the majesty of its shade. ^Eschylus, however tri- 
umphant in the field of martial prowess one day, was the next not 
less ambitious of poetic garlands at the Olympic games. And 
Thebes was not more gloriously embalmed in the melody of Pindar, 
than was Colonos through the art of Sophocles, as her melodious 
thrush in his verse enjoys a perpetual May. 

A marked peculiarity of Greek civilization consists in the fact 
that literature there led all excellence, illustrated and sustained by 
the harmonious accompaniment of the sister arts. In the East, 
each work, whatever its kind, stood imperfect and independent of 
all beside. But in the best age of the best works in the first lite- 
rary metropolis of the West, it would be nearly, if not quite, im- 
possible to point out a single production that did not refer to the 
written book, thus furnishing the means of just appreciation, by a 
comparison with the particular myth or action it was designed to 
personate. What the writer expressed in words, the correlative 
artist chanted, painted, sculptured, or built in more material, but 
not less beautiful forms. The drama most impressively exemplified 
this fact, using words as a poet, but adding the simultaneous com- 
mentary of melody, statuesque motion, pictorial resemblance, and 
architectural grandeur. This was the absorption of the lyric, the 
personation of the epic, and the consummation of transcendant dra- 
matic art. 

Athens was the inventress of learning, and the first great found- 
ation of republican law. Like the motion of a serpent, which 
the Egyptians made the emblem of intellectual power, or like the 
path of lightning through murky air, at each actual advance hu- 
manity may seem to recede, but every such retrogressive move- 
ment really accumulates force to carry itself in advance. True, 
patriotism loves its object to such a degree, that it is ready to incur 
any sacrifice in favor of those it would benefit, but ceases to be a 
virtue when it selfishly reclines enamored of its own visage. Nar- 
cissus was not the type of national benefactors, but the great law- 
givers of Sparta and Athens were, when they traveled far, and at 
great hazards, to gather knowledge for the education of their coun- 


The illustrious son of Eumonius was the great lawgiver of the 
Doric race, whose institutions have excited much curiosity, but 
which are involved in an obscurity too dense to be easily removed. 
He was one of the very few great spirits of Sparta, and like his 
co-patriot Leonidas, passed through a dubious path from an obscure 
birth to everlasting fame. In the light of history, the whole life 
of the latter, especially, lies in a single action, and we can learn 
nothing authentic of him until the last few days of his career. In 
the annals of renown, only one proud page is dedicated to the 
memory of such men, and that contains nothing but an epitaph. 

Solon, on the contrary, stands out clearly in the effulgence which 
under more auspicious influences poured on Attica. He was the 
second and more successful lawgiver of his race, and also stood pre- 
eminent among the sages of his land. Success first attended him 
in poetry, and it was the opinion of Plato, that if he had elabo- 
rated his compositions with maturer care, they would have equaled 
the most celebrated productions of the ancients. But the pros- 
pective good of nations required him to apply the great endow- 
ments he possessed to moral and political purposes ; and, according 
to Plutarch, " he cultivated chiefly that part of philosophy which 
treats of civil obligations." He pursued commerce, traveled widely, 
and, in patient research, accumulated those stores of observation and 
erudition which rendered him an honor to Athens, and a great bene- 
factor to mankind. 

History, properly so called, originated with the Greeks, and in 
natural clearness and vivacity, portraiture of diversified incidents 
and profound observation of man, eminent success was first by that 
people attained. The great coryphaeus in the prosaic chorus, Herod- 
otus, has been compared to Homer, on account of his manifold 
charms and transparency of narrative. The depth and comprehen- 
siveness of his knowledge, inquiries, attainments, and commentaries 
on antiquities in general, excite in competent judges the profound- 
est astonishment. He is called the father of history, as he was the 
first to pass from the mere traditions which furnished themes to the 
poets, and gave dignity to didactic prose as an independent branch 
of literature. 

Human reason is progressive chiefly by virtue of remembrance 
and language hence were the Muses beautifully represented as be- 


ing the daughters of Memory, the only power through which, in 
the infancy of letters, the harvests of thought could be garnered 
and preserved. The first national annals were cast under the pat- 
ronage of the fair Nine, but the Muses of the great Dorian turned 
to the Ionic dialect as their most fitting vernacular. The civiliza- 
tion of Greece was the first that was unfolded by a natural growth, 
and its crowning bloom appeared only when every other portion of 
the wondrous plant had become perfectly matured. It awoke like 
a joyous infant, under the fairest heavens, and was nourished by 
all beautifying and ennobling influences. Its life was led apart 
from exhausting drudgery and effeminate ease, among fair festivals 
and solemn assemblies, full of healthful exhilaration, innocent curi- 
osity, and confiding faith. Pindar preferred the Doric dialect to 
his native ^Eolic, in which many had sung. Like the other leaders 
of his race, he imitated his predecessors in nothing, but by invent- 
ing ; he employed the form demanded by the nature of his art, and 
chose the language with certainty and care, which refused submis- 
sion to the yoke of authority. The principle, that in each realm 
of art, whatever is accidental should be excluded, was thoroughly 
recognized in Greece, where even what fell in by accident, as the 
chorus of the drama, soon became entirely fused into the chief 
parts of the action, like an organic member of the whole. The 
singer of the Iliad was born under the sky of Ionia, and he molded 
his native dialect forever to epic poetry. The thoughtful Herodotus 
preferred the same language to the Doric, his native tongue, and 
employed the Ionic, which was just then putting forth its fairest 
buds of promise. Thus, the epos of history was twin-born with 
the epos of poetry. The wanderings of Ulysses, the Argonauts, 
and primitive heroes, embrace the whole extent of the then known 
or imagined world, the various manners, countries, and cities in- 
cluded. All these the great annalist works into the rich and varie- 
gated picture, which, like a moving panorama, he unfolds to the 
enraptured gaze. Minuteness, likeness, and strength were requisite 
as the medium of expression, and not in the old Doric, but in the 
new Ionic, were these found happily combined. Hence, in histori- 
cal writing with the Greeks, as in every other department of art, 
we see that wonderful concord between the substance and the form, 


that harmony of inward and outward music, which is the first and 
most indispensable condition of beauty. 

Up to this period, history had been composed expressly for reci- 
tal at the national games, and was couched in a rhetorical trans- 
ition from the preceding poetical form. The minstrel of the Ho- 
meric banquet became the eulogist of his countrymen before ap- 
plauding thousands at Olympia ; but now arose another master who 
foresaw that his work would survive the forms of society then exist- 
ing, and he aimed not so much for a transient hearing, as to be 
perpetually read. The Attic Thucydides had listened to Herodotus 
in the great presence of the nation, and became inspired with an 
enthusiasm which bore him to the height of superior excellence. 
He was cotemporary with Socrates, and under Anaxagoras and 
Antiphon, matured that compressed eloquence which was to com- 
memorate an age then dawning full of stirring incident. He re- 
nounced the episodic movement common to his great predecessor, 
and instead of supplying a pastime for the present, aspired to por- 
tray universal man, and inculcate profound lessons respecting the 
Providence that rules the world. 

Thucydides perfected that form of historical writing which is pe- 
culiarly Greek, and was succeeded by Xenophon, whose third 
remove was clearly beyond the culminating point. Polybius devel- 
oped the idea of universal disquisition, and Dionysius of Halicar- 
nassus, was honored as the first of historic critics ; but after the 
fall of freedom, there was little worthy for one either to portray or 

It was in the day of Themistocles especially, the Greeks appear 
to have been sensible that they were instruments in the hands of 
destiny, and that their greatness was greatly to sway the genera- 
tions of all coming time. This national consciousness, increasingly 
intensified in description and illustration, is strongly impressed on 
the sententious pages of Thucydides. The theme of Herodotus 
was a particular war, the Persian, and he treated it as an epical 
artist. But his acuter successor added philosophical composition 
to the densest power of combination, and was the first to attempt 
the analysis and portraiture of character. Thus, as in every other 
literary walk, the march of historical excellence became most ex- 
tended and regular at the mighty heart of intelligence ; on the spot 


where its origin was indigenous, its perfection was most splendidly 

Though fortune for the moment gave the Spartan, Eurybiades, 
the nominal command at Salamis, genius predestined the Athenian, 
Themistocles, to actual pre-eminence over his age, that he might 
command the remotest sequences of events. Certainly he was the 
greatest of his own age, and was not soon surpassed. Pisistratus, 
Cimon, Aristides, and Pericles, were of noble birth ; but Themis- 
tocles was the first, and, except Demosthenes, the greatest of those 
who rose from the humblest ranks, but none the less ennobled him- 
self, while he elevated the common fortunes in his own ascent. His 
genius alone was the architect of all his grandeur, and drew from 
Diodorus the exclamation, " What other man could, in the same 
time, have placed Greece at the head of nations, Athens at the head 
of Greece, himself at the head of Athens ? In the most illustrious 
age the most illustrious man." 

But the age of warlike glory ended with the occasion for its use, 
and an appropriate link was required between the ostentation of 
Themistocles and the intellectual sovereignty of Pericles. This was 
supplied in Cimon, who fostered popular spectacles, and invested 
them with increased magnificence ; built the Theseion, embellished 
the public buildings before extant, and originated those classic 
colonnades, beneath which, sheltered from sun or rain, the inquisi- 
tive citizens were accustomed to hold civil, literary, or artistic 
debate. The Agora, adorned with oriental planes ; and the palm- 
groves of Academe, the immortal school of Plato, were his work. 
His hand formed the secluded walks, fashioned the foliaged alcoves, 
adorned each nook with its relevant bust or statue, and poured 
through the green retreats the melodious waters of the Hissus, in 
sparkling fountains, or eddying pools, to rest the weary, and exhil- 
arate the sad. Thus he more fully realized the social policy, com- 
menced by Pisistratus, who was the first to elicit diversified talents 
from the recesses of private life, with the intention of causing all to 
merge into one animated, multifarious, and invincible public life. 
The works now written, and the sublime creations of art at this 
time multiplied, were the first foundation of culture for the futurity 
of the human mind. It was an age that gave to the world what 
can nowhere else be obtained. The priceless legacy was produced 


by that wonderful people during the brief period of freedom and 
undiminished greatness, when their literature was made to fulmine 
on the capacities of man, and reflect the brightest glory on the 
principles of democratic polity. 

Pericles was not less ambitious to aggrandize Athens, than were 
his more martial or plebeian precursors ; but he well understood 
the destiny of his race, and knew on what surer foundations to 
build than aristocratic or regal titles, which, if he had the power 
to possess, he always affected to despise. The wider extension of 
national domain was to yield to the loftier cultivation of the national 
mind. Obedient to his behest, and in harmony with the popular 
will, all superior proficients gathered round the Acropolis, a spot 
too sacred for human habitations, and, by their united labors, soon 
rendered it the central glory of " a city of the gods." 

In his youth, Pericles had known Pindar and Empedocles. He 
had seen the prison of Miltiades, and turned from a music lesson 
to gaze after Aristides driven into exile. JEschylus he early loved, 
and exercised maturer thought with Sophocles, in debates on elo- 
quence. By Euripides had he been instructed in ethical philosophy ; 
and Protagorus and Democritus, Anaxagoras and Meton, did he 
question as to the best rules of state polity. Herodotus and Thu- 
cydides initiated him into history. Acron and Hippocrates imbued 
him with a beneficent philosophy ; Ictinus built to his order, the 
Parthenon, worthy of Polygnotus to paint ; while Phidias set up 
under the same auspices the tutelary deity of the land, in ivory and 
gold. Thus trained among a people susceptible and fastidious, that 
had itself become a Pericles, competent to appreciate, in every de- 
partment the high excellence they inspired and recompensed, he 
was the first to mirror to themselves fully, the exalted models after 
which universal poetry prompted them to aspire. Themistocles 
had led them to deeds of daring and enterprise, but the adroit son 
of Xanthippus soon eclipsed every competitor, even that mighty 
Cimon, whose extraordinary qualities had prepared the way for his 

The grave aspect of Pericles, his composed gait, the decorous 
arrangement of his robe, and the subdued modulation of his voice, 
are dwelt upon by his eulogists, just as if his posthumous statue 
had been the subject of their comments. It was this close and 


constant attention to the inner spirit and external expression of all 
thought, art, and manners, that distinguished the memorable period 
when the grand style characterized every thing. To use the words 
of Plutarch : " Pericles gave to the study of philosophy the color 
of rhetoric. The most brilliant imagination seconded all the powers 
of logic. Sometimes he thundered with vehemence, and set all 
Greece in flames ; at other times the goddess of persuasion, with 
all her allurements, dwelt upon his tongue, and no one could de- 
fend himself from the solidity of his argument, and the sweetness 
of his discourse." 

This was the era of great orators, such as Lysms, Eschines, and 
Isocrates. Like the shout of Stentor, rousing the prowess of com- 
rades, who, single-handed, rushed upon embattled armies, clad in 
iron, so awoke mighty eloquence, which shook impassioned democ- 
racies, annihilated tyrannies, and fostered all ennobling arts: But 
the age of criticism came after the age of invention ; Aristotle after 
Sophocles, Longinus after Homer, the Sophists after Pericles. De- 
mosthenes was the last great writer whose works were addressed 
to the Greeks as a nation. His was the genius of industry, always 
luminous and constantly at work; like that Indian bird which 
could not only enjoy the sunshine all day, but secured no ignoble 
resemblance at night, by hanging glow-worms on the boughs about 
its nest. Demosthenes was a great orator, and nothing more. He 
represented a period of civilization which had passed, and therefore 
his downfall was inevitable. So long as the democratic spirit per- 
vaded the masses he performed prodigies in the tribune ; but when 
the empire of beauty was about to be displaced by the empire of 
force, he ran away at Cherronea, and without dignity. The elo- 
quence of a great nation, expressed in Pericles, was succeeded by 
the Phillipics of a great parti zan, and when this was silenced, the 
age of its origin had closed. 

Pericles was the first to commit his speeches to writing before 
they were delivered ; and, in his pride of universal accomplishment, 
he signalized the zenith of his country's glory and its decline. In 
all the progress of Greece up to the splendor of her culmination, 
originality was sought and exemplified only in some one grand 
pursuit. The epic bard was not ambitious of rending the ivy des- 
tined to adorn the brows of lyric poets ; nor did the master of 


tragedy, with unlaced buskin, stride carelessly over Thalia's stage, 
to lay irreverent hands on Homer's harp. The historian, studious 
in private to portray the annals of his country, came not to the 
Agora to contest honors with the public orator ; nor did the latter, 
with foolish ambition, endeavor to excel the sages who, in the Por- 
tico, at the Lyceum, or under plane-trees on the banks of the His- 
sus, explained the problems of the universe ; but each one made 
some exalted endeavor the speciality of his life, on it concentrated 
all the rays of his intellect, and scorned no measure of time or toil 
requisite to insure absolute perfection in his work. Thoughts so 
elaborated became never setting stars, to cheer the world, and point 
unerringly through the cycles of a corrupt taste to ideal excellence. 
As each growth, minute or majestic, was equally perfect of its kind, 
though differenced by peculiarity of form and tints, the whole was 
charmingly blended in that wreath of consummate beauty, which, 
in the age of Pericles, Greece hung round the constitution of the 
state, high on the central shrine of the most magnificent temple of 
her gods. 



ARCHITECTURE is the metaphysics of the fine arts, and should be 
made the basis of all researches in this department, since it is the 
oldest and bears the most comprehensive type. It teems with the 
oracular inscriptions of entombed empires, and either affords infor- 
mation where other testimonies are silent, or confirms ttie facts 
which more dubious history asserts. Within its ruined temples 
yet linger the echoes of cycles long since departed, and which 
symbolized on their track the mightiest impulses of emulative na- 
tions in those monuments which inventive genius, coalescing with 
constructive skill, stamped with the attractions of beauty and 

Egyptian civilization was thoroughly exclusive, and possessed no 
disposition to diffuse itself. On the contrary, the Indo-Germanic 
race rapidly assimilated surrounding nations to itself, and with that 
energetic spirit of propagandism which was its primary element, 
made the reservoir of its accumulated worth the fountain of all 
subsequent culture. The great Surya people of northern India are 
supposed to be the original Cyclopoeans who reared the gloomy 
grandeur of Egyptian Thebes, and the magnificence of Solomon's 
temple, who constructed the Catabothra of Boeotia, drained the 
valleys of Thessaly, constructed the canals of Ceylon, and left the 
venerable walls of Mycense on their westward course. 

The monuments of the East attest the unreasoning submission 
of thousands to despotic power, and teem with the reminiscences 
of gloomy superstition, but both in outline and execution, the spirit 
of the beautiful is wanting. Vestiges of Assyria, like an earlier 
Pompeii, have lately been disinterred, and we are permitted to look 
upon, perhaps, the identical figures on which the prophets gazed, 

A B T . 49 

and which so moved Aholibah, when "she saw men portrayed 
upon the wall, the images of the Chaldeans portrayed with vermil- 
ion, girdled with girdles upon their loins, exceeding in dyed attire 
upon their heads, all of them princes to look to, after the manner 
of the Babylonians of Chaldea, the land of their nativity." Ezek. 
xxiii. 14, 15. Persian art, judging from what has recently been 
brought to light, combined much of Egypt and Assyria in its man- 
ner. The types of wisdom and power, and even the Persian alpha- 
bet, were of Assyrian character. 

The temple which the monarch of Israel dedicated, and his de- 
votion enriched, owed its artistic attractions to Tyrian skill. The 
descriptions of these preserved in the archives of Judea, clearly 
vindicate the justness of Homer's representations respecting the 
precious metals of the East, and the progress there made in orna- 
mental art Even females could divide the prey : " To Sisera, a 
prey of colors of needle work on both sides, meet for the necks of 
them that take the spoil." Judg. v. 30. Of such, the treasury of 
Priam was replenished, and Sidonian artists were not less expert. 
Helen embroiders a picture of a battle between the Greeks and 
Trojans ; Andromache transfers flowers to a transparent vail ; and 
Penelope weaves a web of pensive beauty, honorable to the hand 
of filial piety, to grace the funeral of Laertes. Many evidences 
demonstrate that the whole of Greece, from the era of the sup- 
posed godships of Poseidon and Zeus, down to the close of the Tro- 
'*an war, was Indian not only in- language and religion, but in all 
the arts of war and peace. 

The discovery and use of metals hold the first place in the his- 
tory of human progress, and in the momentous origin of the mur- 
derous sword, we have the first of inventions. The fratricide Cain 
fled to central Asia, the cradle of ambitious conquest, and there 
hereditary classes, trades, and arts arose. Thence descended east- 
ward, the nomadic tribes who still wander amid the vast remains of 
the primitive mining operations of the oriental world. From the 
more amiable Seth, the patriarchs of peace emigrated in another 
direction to people cities, foster science, promote writing, and trans- 
mit sacred traditions on durable monuments of stone. The strug- 
gle of contrasted races is the leading subject of all history, and its 
primary development lies between the passion shown by one for 



war, and by the other for more peaceful arts. Moab, Ammon, and 
Bashan, the giants of barbarism, hare ever moved westward in ad- 
vance of the vanguard of civilization, and been vanquished thereby. 

The infancy of Greek art was the infancy of a Hercules, who 
strangled serpents in his cradle. However superior as to intrinsic 
worth, it must be acknowledged to be an offspring of Egypt. As- 
we have seen in western literature, a kind of hereditary lineage 
connects it with the East, and this is attested by evidence too pal- 
pable to be denied. Native elements appear to have combined 
with foreign art in Assyria ; but Nimroud and Karsabad prove that 
the style of that intermediate region, at a certain period of its de- 
velopment, was directly derived from the valley of the Nile. The 
Assyrian types of art furnished Lydia and Caria, probably, with 
improved elements, from whom the Asiatic Greeks obtained the 
means of advancing toward that high excellence which the most re- 
fined race was destined to achieve. The earliest proofs of their skill 
come to us on coins, and that the Lydians were the first on earth 
to excel in that kind of work, Homer distinctly asserts. But while 
an Asiatic origin must be assigned to all the arts of Greece, it 
should not be forgotten that the Hellenic organization alone per- 
fected each and every department with that exquisite refinement 
which no other people has ever been able to attain. Their wonder- 
ful originality is indicated by the fact, that their very earliest coins 
possess in their embryo state, the germs of that beauty and sub- 
limity which afterward were realized by the greatest artists in their 
grandest works. In the smallest seal, as in the most colossal form, 
the charming simplicity and repose prevail, which forever mark 
the leading traits of the Attic mind. Coins made of gold in Asia, 
preceded the silver coinage of Athens, but even in this earliest im- 
print of archaic skill, we see rudely executed all that which subse- 
quently characterized those groups of Centaurs and Amazons that 
enriched the metopes and pediments of the Parthenon. 

When compared with Indian and Egyptian remains, the Persian 
column must be considered as presenting an approximation to the 
perfect form, and yet it lacks that purity of taste, that refined and 
chastened intellect, which distinguishes the works of Greece. The 
lotus and palm, were indeed imitated at Carnak and Persepolis, but 
Athens saw the acanthus and honeysuckle surmount shafts of manly 

ART. 51 

strength with amarynths of beauty such as the East never knew. 
India excavated the cell, and Egypt quarried the column ; then 
came Greece to perfect the entablature system, and add that 'crown- 
ing glory, the triangular pediment. The three orders in their suc- 
cession, exhausted every realm of invention, and perfected structu- 
ral types unsurpassed by human powers ; and while the mechanical 
principles remained identified with the most unadorned Cyclopean 
gateway, or rudest cromlech, an exquisite system of ornament em- 
braced every feature, and refined all into consummate dignity and 

All the institutions of Greece bore the impressive signet of 
national character. In government, dialect, and invention, despite 
minor differences, there was a general uniformity which rendered 
them distinct, not only from Phoenicians or Egyptians, but also from 
the kindred inhabitants of Lydia, Italy, and Macedonia. Though 
at the beginning germs were derived from the East, it is not less 
true that at the time of ripest maturity not the least tinge of foreign 
influence was discernible in their literature, politics, religion or art. 
Grecian architecture, especially, like their poetry, was the natural 
expression of the national mind. It was influenced by the peculiarity 
of the land in which it originated, and was more than national ; it 
was local, born under the sky of Hellas only, and in no colony did 
it ever attain the comprehensive beauty which signalized the city 
of its birth. Sparta might boast of the hard bones and muscles of 
well-trained athletes, but grace and beauty never entered her walls. 
The Athenians borrowed materials and suggestions from diverse 
sources, but their skill was entirely their own. They invented all 
the component parts of classic architecture, the proportions, 
characters, and distinctions, with a corresponding nomenclature by 
which each order and every ornament is still designated. Symmetry, 
proportion, and decoration ; the solidity and gracefulness of nature, 
relieved by historical sculpture, and illuminated by chromatic 
splendor, with the perfection of reason interpenetrating and presiding 
over all, constituted that perfect model of noble simplicity which 
always attracts and never offends. 

The Dorians produced the first pure architectural style, and carried 
it to the highest perfection, without any assistance from the fallen 
palaces of the Atreidae. The JSschylean majesty was the highest 


conception of even that extraordinary people. The Parthenon was 
the noblest production of the noblest masters, and should be accepted 
as the nighest exemplification of the national skill. 

The order of columns at Persepolis seems to be the proto-Ionic, 
as certain pillars have been supposed to be proto-Dorics, but neither, 
in fact, deserve, in the slightest degree, that admiration which 
belongs legitimately to those honored names. The temple of the 
Ilissus was the most ancient monument of the true middle order, 
and was a significant prelude to those more glorious works destined 
to immortalize the administration of Pericles when freed from the 
rivalry of Cimon, the restraints of the Areopagus, and the opposing 
aristocrats. Within twenty years all the grandest works were 
executed, and then the point of culmination in that lovely land was 
forever passed. 

Of the three orders perfected by the Greeks, the Corinthian would 
appear to be the most entirely original, and, at the time of its 
invention, the exactest symbol of their mind. The flower had 
fully bloomed, and decrepitude was already begun. They could no 
longer adequately execute the Doric order, with its integral sculp- 
ture and painting, and had ceased to be satisfied with the chaste 
gracefulness of Asiatic volutes. They began by raising the honey- 
suckle from around the necking of the Ionic capital, and extended 
it over a vase-form under a light abacus, intermingled with a few 
rosettes, but omitting altogether the volutes. To this was after 
ward added the Persepolitan water-leaf, and finally the crisp 
acanthus of Attica gave a rich variety to the order, which consti- 
tutes its crowning charm. The choragic monument of Lysicrates 
is the only pure type of this style ; and if sculpture and painting 
must be banished from architecture, this is, doubtless, the most 
beautiful order extant. 

Architecture expresses the difference among races, as language 
does the variety of dialects. The Dorians built in the same style 
that was employed by Pindar, JEschylus, and Thucydides in speech. 
The simplicity and elegance of the lonians are exemplified in their 
temple graces, not less than in Homer's matchless verse, and the 
smooth rythm of Herodotus. The Corinthians, refined to effeminacy, 
were the last architectural inventors in the old world, and they 
stamped upon their production the delicate luxuriance which 

ART. 53 

characterizes the language of Isocrates. The opposing principles of 
Dorism and lonism which prevailed in all the institutions of Greece, 
politics, literature, customs, and art, were boldly embodied in sculp- 
ture and architecture. The former came from Egypt, and the latter 
from Asia ; but both were alike indebted to western genius for the 
refined symmetry which their respective orders finally assumed. 
The zenith of perfection was not reached until the Doric influence 
was impregnated by the Ionic, the material by the spiritual, and 
Corinthian delicacy was born to perish in the grave of its exhausted 

Egyptian sculpture was the archaic state of Greek sculpture, 
as is clearly indicated by specimens yet extant. The types of the 
Nile, which remained unchanged through many centuries, were no 
sooner transferred to the Hissus than a wonderful improvement suc- 
ceeded. The remains of the temple of Jupiter in ^Egina show the 
metamorphosis of the uncouth East into the refinement of the West 
in the very act of taking place. The heads of the figures are 
Egyptian, according to the prescriptive sanctity of priestly rule, 
heavy and immobile ; but the limbs are detached, and move with 
the natural freedom of Greek taste. The conservative East regarded 
innovation as destructive of the divine, while the progressive West 
sought for near approach to divinity in increased perfection. 
Hence the figure of Minerva on this edifice, the central one of the 
pediment, is more oriental than the rest, as if less liberty should be 
taken with the personal image of a being fully divine ; but this 
hereditary scruple was soon overcome, and, in direct contrast with 
Egypt, Grecian deities became most celestial in form. 

The progress of perfected sculpture was striking and continuous. 
The Herma was the first step in true statuesque art, when the 
Greek placed a human head on a pillar by the wayside, fashioned 
after the proportions of the human form. Then the resemblance of 
life extended to the loins, preparatory to that further realization when 
the bust spread vital beauty and activity throughout every speaking 
feature or graceful limb, rendering the statue complete. Last of all 
came the associated group, simultaneous with architectonic perfec- 
tion, to which it added manifold charms. Then was the memo- 
rable era when the images of gods and heroes possessed not less 
truth and majesty than if the divinities had themselves sat for their 


pictured or sculptured portraits ; and all this resulted because art 
had become the greatest national activity, and the entire nation was 
merely a transcend ant artist. In a chronological review, the ancient 
monuments of Asia and Egypt must be considered before those of 
Greece ; but the true history of art, in its continuous development, 
as in every other civilizing power, began alone with that sagacious 
people. To the last, the East retained in its sculpture those sym- 
bolical images which are utterly destructive of elegance in imitative 
representations ; but the West soon emancipated itself, and came 
step by step to elicit from marble perfected human features under 
the attitude and aspect of divinity. Therein is most clearly traced 
the mysterious symbolism of the inner mind of that people. The 
reason and imagination of Greece were poured with profusion and 
power into artistic creations, and the faculties from which these 
works sprang are in turn most forcibly addressed. Like excites 
like ; and if ancient sculpture shines on, through all time, with 
inextinguishable beams, it is simply because the original creation 
transpired under the transmuting and glorifying influence of impas- 
sioned thought. Supremacy in art among that people was not 
an accidental inspiration of a few artists, but the predominant spirit 
of the age and great heritage of a race. Their language was the 
first organ of speech thoroughly eliminated, and art, its correlative, 
was the highest material medium of mind. The mystery of the 
human form was accurately conceived by the Hellenic genius, and 
thus the mythological Sphinx, whose motto is Man, which had ever 
been inaccessible to the race of Shem, was by Japhetic intellect 
clearly revealed. In her most glorious days, the sumptuous temples 
of Athens, amid the elaborate graces of their moldings, the living 
foliage of their capitals, and the multiform friezes whereon Lapithae 
and Centaurs exhibited the most impressive action, did yet preserve 
the same outline of simplicity with which the wooden hut of 
Pelasgus was marked. 

In consequence of the excitement, surprise, joy, and glory of their 
first conquest over the Persians, the Greeks developed all their en- 
ergies, and the brief period of their highest excellence terminated 
soon after the final triumph over that great foe, so inseparable is 
national enthusiasm from exalted perfection in art. The Parthenon 
and Propylsea were trophies of Marathon and Salamis, monuments 

ART. 55 

of past success, and pledges of future progress. Then supreme 
homage was paid to superior talent ; and popular admiration, as pro- 
found as it was general, gave birth to those masterly productions 
its pantings deserved. The same combination of boldness and 
gentleness which constitutes the very essence of classic literature, 
imparted its peculiar expression to the plastic art of Greece. Both, 
in their best days, were equally imbued with that lofty impulse, 
which antique traditions excited, and the national genius was most 
ambitious to perpetuate. The Persians brought marble with them, 
intending to erect a memorial of the anticipated victory, which their 
conquerors appropriated, and commissioned- Phidias to cut it into a 
statue of Nemesis. Such was the destiny of all oriental elements, 
and the use made of them by the valiant genius of occidental re- 
publicans. When the first great battle of opinion had been won, 
and the Persian, like the Mede, was overthrown, a few years of act- 
ive freedom produced more of civilizing art, than had been gener- 
ated under the pressure of whole centuries of despotic repose. 

The art of the first Pharaohs, as well as that of the last Ptole- 
mies, is brought down to us in well preserved relics, and by means 
of these, at a single glance, we can survey a boundless historic pe- 
riod, during which, in th first progressive land, civilization had 
passed from the lowest to the highest point ; from the Pelasgi to 
the Parthenon, from the wooden works of Daedalus to the marble 
glories of Phidias ; from the fabulous Orpheus, and mythological 
Amphion, to Homer and Sophocles ; in a word, from Cecrops to 
Pericles. But on the Nile, beyond certain ignoble and arbitrary 
types, sculpture never advanced. Dsedalus is reputed to have been 
the first statuary in Greece, but he was more of a mechanist than 
sculptor, the architect of labyrinths, carver of wood, and inventor 
of wings. He was the countryman and cotemporary of The- 
seus, equal to that hero in the adventures of his life, born of a royal 
race, admired for his works while living, and honored by the Egyp- 
tians with a special chapel after death. About two centuries later, 
appeared Dipcemus and Scyllis. They were born in Crete, under the 
Median empire, but worked at Sicyon, and made statues of Apollo, 
Diana, Minerva, and Hercules. They were the first to use the white 
marble of Paros, and gave to each divinity a peculiar personal ap- 
pearance so entirely distinct, as to cause the offensive symbolism of 


preceding art to be laid aside. The slow progress of sculpture may 
be further traced, until a single mighty master raised his profession 
to a height, of which the world had entertained no previous con- 
ception. The Greeks could produce beauty without meretricious 
ornament, deh'cacy without affectation, strength without coarseness, 
and the highest degree of action without the slightest disturbance 
of equilibrium. Proud only of progressive invention, they preserved 
their first rude monuments side by side with their later master- 
pieces, and appealed to this aggregate as the true archives of no- 
bility, their highest credentials to glory. The plastic sense, which 
usually disappears with the infancy of nations, was fostered to the 
fullness of adult perfection among this people. Whatever of beauty 
real objects supplied to their hands, the inspiration of fervid genius 
transfigured into the most beautiful idealized forms. As was said 
by one of their number, the higher nature of the divinities passed 
into the arts ; and we have reason to believe that sculpture especi- 
ally, did wear a celestial aspect in its representation of glorified 
heroes and the highest gods. The law which Plato long after pre- 
scribed to artists, seems to have been instinctively observed from the 
earliest era, " that they should create nothing illiberal or deformed, 
as well as nothing immoral and loose, but should everywhere strive 
to attain to the nature of the beautiful and the becoming." Latent 
worth doubtless lay imprisoned in the uncouth sculpture of the 
East, but it was only when moved westward, that the fair prisoner 
was set free ; like Aphrodite, born without a pang, in the enfran- 
chisement of the sea, and landed on the blooming shore of Paphos, 
redolent of spontaneous charms. 

Homer, and the other poets, as they were the fountains of all 
other elements of culture, nourished also the plastic sense in the 
common mind. From the tragic writers, especially, emanated a 
world of sculpture, so that nearly all the great spirits generated in 
the regions of fable, were happily embodied in substantial art. 
Hipparchus, a few years before the birth of Phidias, formed the 
first public library at Athens, and placed therein the complete 
works of Homer, Hesiod, Sappho, Anacreon, and Simonides. The 
public games were not less favorable in their influence on plastic 
art. They were great artistic congresses, wherein each department 
was exhibited for the special benefit of itself, and in regular succes- 

ART. 57 

sion ; just like various pieces of music at a modern concert, without 
discord between them. Not only in the popular poetry, but in the 
public manners as well, was manifested that refined grace and equa- 
nimity between excessive freedom and coarse formality, which was 
embodied in sculpture as its highest form. The second desire of 
Simonides, was, that he might possess a handsome figure, and the 
gymnastic exercises customary in the healthful serenity of his native 
land, did much to realize the wish. The most eminent men in 
their youth, sought renown in the development of natural qualities, 
and thereby laid a substantial basis for the magnificence of ac- 
quired accomplishments. Each successful competitor was honored 
with a statue of the highest order and most perfect resemblance. 
Hieratic models were utterly discarded, and not only was the real 
portrait preserved, but also the very attitude in which the victory 
was gained. Even horses which had borne off prizes, were repro- 
duced by the exactest imitative skill, and all the most natural forms 
were elevated to that ideal of perfection which constituted the 
models af excellence, and the best incentive to yet higher improve- 
ment of surpassing worth. 

We have observed that Hermes were the first sculptured produc- 
tions of Greece. These most abounded at Athens, where, for a long 
time, the word Hermoglyph was the only term in use to designate 
a sculptor of any kind. But soon after the Persians had despoiled 
that city of her ancient monuments, she acquired immense resources, 
by which, under the guidance of superlative taste, she soon arose 
to be the head of the national confederacy, and most splendid abode 
of art. Architects and sculptors, painters, lapidaries, and workers 
in precious metals vied with each other in adorning the lettered 
empress of earth and sea. The monuments of Ictinus, Phidias, 
Callicrates, and Mnesicles arose, surrounded with kindred glories, 
thenceforth to become master-pieces for the emulation of mankind. 
What was especially needed, was something that would mold all 
surrounding elements of beauty into one perfect and homogeneous 
whole, like the unity of diversified expressions in the opera, and 
this was gloriously realized in the perfected temple. Appropriate 
material was quarried from Paros and Pentelicus, which when 
wrought into graceful and sublime forms, stood on the terraced 
height in serene majesty, and glowed through the sparkling atmos- 



phere with enhanced splendor borrowed from harmonized colors and 
burnished gold. In Greece, history and art from the beginning, 
were closely allied. The breastplates, helmets, and shields, as well 
as altars, temples, and tombs, were all made to glorify an honored 
ancestry, through the blandishments of material art. Homer and 
Hesiod brightened the dawn of national renown, as they sang the 
artistic triumphs of Vulcan, embossed on the weapons which Her- 
cules and Achilles bore. The arcades of nature, and the canopied 
walks which architecture so magnificently provided, were trans- 
formed into vast galleries, all aglow with brilliantly harmonized 
tints ; and a wanderer the most remote from the metropolis, still 
found the annals of his country embodied in marble, and each great 
personage strongly characterized by the sculptor's chisel. Every 
subordinate democracy had its Prytaneum, Odeon, Pnyx, Gymna- 
sium, and Theatres ; and when Athens usurped pre-eminent control, 
her citizens were proud *to erect public monuments worthy of her 
ambition, and whose dazzling magnificence should reconcile the 
other states to her supremacy. So greatly was this the passion of 
the people themselves, that when Pericles proposed to exonerate 
them from debts incurred by the immense works of his adminis- 
tration, if he might be permitted to inscribe them with his own 
name, the proposition was rejected at once, and every responsibility 
was cheerfully accepted as their own. 

Phidias was an Athenian, the son of Charmidas, and cousin to 
the distinguished painter, Pana3nus, whose associated skill he em- 
ployed on several of his works. Doubtless this fact should explain 
much of his grace of outline, and power of relief. He proved him- 
self equally successful in the sublime and minute, by turning from 
the awful majesty of his marble Jupiter to stamp like perfection on 
the grasshopper or bee of bronze. This ^Eschylus of sculpture be- 
gan with works in ivory, continued to develop his power through 
statues of metal, and finally attained the highest excellence in co- 
lossal marble groups. He was born under the full blaze of Grecian 
freedom, and carried his profession to the loftiest height of excellence, 
through a knowledge of all the arts and sciences that could enhance 
its attraction, or dignify its pursuit. He was not only a painter 
and poet, but was also familiar with the gorgeous fictions of myth- 
ology, and the more sober records of history, the knowledge of 

ART. 59 

optics, and the severest discipline of geometric science. It is 
probable that Phidias planned all the works about the Parthenon, 
and that Calibrates and Ictinus executed the architectural portions, 
while Alcamenes and other pupils wrought nearly to the surface 
most of the sculptural forms. But as his genius outlined the gene- 
ral plan, so his hand imparted the finishing touch to the varied 

The most marked characteristic of the first half of the Periclean 
age was placid majesty. Jupiter sat in supreme quietude, with 
thunderbolts resting in his lap ; Juno reposed on her own feminine 
dignity ; and Minerva showed supreme power, less through outward 
impulse than by sovereign self-control, and inward intent. When 
the highest period of calm beauty was passed, and another cycle 
drew near, fall of force, greater excitement is exhibited in corre- 
sponding art, and with increased harmony with the changed spirit 
it portrayed. Such was Niobe and her children, pursued by Apollo 
and Diana, Gladiators in mortal struggle, and the passionate group 
of Laocoon. But at the best period no Greek artist would ever in- 
troduce in sculpture grim Pluto and sad Proserpine, or the monster 
Cerberus. He loved every thing that was beautiful ; and, instead 
of damaging the uniform placidity of his works with such images 
of terror and aversion, he represented even the Furies as bearing a 
serene countenance. This calmness is the prevailing charm of 
Greek art. Its great depth, like that of the sea, remains undis- 
turbed, however much the tempests may rage ; and so, in their 
artistic figures : under every billow of passion reposes a great, self- 
collected soul. We may often be called to contemplate the strug- 
gling of brave heroes, but they are never altogether overcome by 
their pangs. The strongest emotions do not repel the spectator, 
but attract him rather ; as in the dying Gladiator, or tortured Lao- 
coon. While the misery we contemplate pierces to the very soul, 
it yet inspires us with a wish that we could endure with a fortitude 
like that we see. Beauty was latent in Periclean Greeks, like fire 
in crystal, which, however brilliant when excited, habitually rests 
in quiet, and robs not its abode of either purity or strength. They 
were as full of emotion as of heroism, and, as Agamemnon, after" 
the victory, poured tears on the funeral pyre, they were never 
braver than at the very time they wept. Winkleman suggests, 


that beauty with the ancients was the balance of expression, and, 
in this respect, the groups of Niobe and Laocoon are the best ex- 
amples; the one in the sublime and serious, the other in the 
learned and ornamental style. 

But the glory of Athens, as a single figure, and marking the 
highest culmination, was Minerva, of the Parthenon. Above all 
others she bore the charms of celestial youth, under the expression 
of severest virtue. Doubtless no more glorious contrast could be 
found to the stiff and conventional uncouthness of the Memnonian 
statues, than was produced in that fine realization of cultivated in- 
tellect invested with invincible power. The spirit of the beautiful 
was embodied in her whose masculine wisdom was tempered with 
feminine grace, the severity of dominion softened into elegance, 
and the sedateness of philosophy dissolved in the fervor of patriotic 
enthusiasm. Her majestic form of ivory rose forty feet in the daz- 
zled air, draped in robes and ornaments of gold. At her feet lay 
a shield, covered with exquisite sculpture, representing, on the con- 
vex side, the Amazonian war, the Athenian leader being the por- 
trait of Pericles, and on the concave side were giants warring 
against heaven. On her golden sandals were depicted the battle 
of the Centaurs. By special decree the Athenians forbade Phidias 
from inscribing his name on this, the divinest Pallas of his creation, 
in order that they might share equally among themselves the honor 
of an undertaking which the people in common had conceived and 

The grandest inspiration came from Marathon, and was exem- 
plified in that glorious art which best expressed the manliness of 
the Grecian race, and rose highest in the republic in its freest hour. 
From the battle of Salamis to Pericles, scarcely fifty years elapsed, 
in which brief period art had advanced from eastern archaism to 
the most refined western excellence, from the rude carving of Seli- 
nus to the consummate sculptures of the Parthenon. The finest 
group of antiquity is preserved to us from the western front of that 
magnificent temple. Notwithstanding the variety of the figures, there 
is not one which is inert, or which represents a perpendicular line. 
In the centre are Neptune, with the trident in his left hand, and 
Minerva, with the spear in her right, with their chariots and at- 
tendants. The goddess of wisdom wields the strongest hand, and 

ART. 61 

the sculptor has so adroitly managed the composition, as to place 
Neptune in the way of his own horses, while Minerva is allowed 
free passage in her nobler career. This pediment, looking down 
upon the mighty metropolis, and the JEgean bathing its western 
brim, bore a record and prophecy of high significance to him who 
approached by land or sea. 

Cimon ornamented the public squares of Athens from his private 
fortune ; and Pericles added markets, halls, gymnasia, and temples, 
all of which he caused to be adorned with innumerable statues by 
superior masters. The crowded wonders of the Acropolis, in par- 
ticular, seemed to the astonished visitor, one great offering, the 
aggregate of national enthusiasms expressed in transcendant art. 
Toward this subordinate Olympus, a gigantic flight of steps con- 
ducted through the Propylasa, which opened its fivefold gates of 
bronze to a world of men and gods in precious forms, peopling 
marble halls, and adorning brilliant shrines. Here, for the temple 
of Polias, Phidias erected that statue of Minerva whose brazen 
helmet gleamed far off to greet the mariner as he doubled the Su- 
nian promontory; and that other Pallas, named the Lemnian 
beauty ; and a third, the " immortal maid," and protectress of the 
Parthenon, to whose colossal fascinations of ivory and gold allusion 
has already been made. So much were that democratic people 
animated with the passion of Pericles, which themselves had mainly 
inspired, that when Phidias recommended marble as being a cheaper 
material than ivory for the gigantic figure required, it was for that 
very reason that ivory was unanimously preferred. Miracles indeed 
abounded on every hand, and as the great patron and perfecter of 
them all, stood there the incarnation of his age, each masterpiece 
attested the culmination of that glorious star which blazed in tran- 
quil beauty while he lived, and paled in tempest when he died. 
The outward decline of Greece was strangely sudden, and left a 
blank which has never been filled ; but the empire of her inner spirit 
can never perish^ so long as heroism may arouse, poetry enrapture, 
art embellish, or wisdom instruct the nations in their predestined 
progress. The epitaph Here is the heart; the spirit is every- 
where most appropriately belongs to the capital of Attica. From 
her gates went forth colonies of beautiful intellect throughout the 
civilized world ; and the light of her genius, lingering around the 


ruins of her skill, still serves to model all tlie masterly productions 
pf earth. Like the venerable Nestor's cap of sculptured gold, the 
material may have perished, but the power which conceived and 
executed it has proved itself immortal. 

Proficiency in sculpture was at one time widely diffused ; it rose 
rapidly to the highest excellence, and as rapidly descended to a cor- 
responding depth. The great Socrates was himself a statuary. 
Pausanias saw, at the entrance of the Athenian Acropolis, a group 
of Graces draped, which was executed by the philosopher. Prax- 
iteles, at a later period, was distinguished for delicate grace and 
most careful finish. When Nicomedes, of Bythinia, wished to pur- 
chase of the Cnidians the Aphrodite by this artist, with the condi- 
tion of discharging the city of its oppressive debt, they preferred to 
endure any hardship rather than suffer such a loss. This tender 
solicitude for the preservation of the beautiful was utterly unlike a 
mere mania for museum collections, and was not limited to plastic 
art ; it grew up in common with all Grecian culture, and is to be 
found in all the phenomena of exalted Hellenic life. Art was in- 
digenous to that prolific soil, and graced the maturest fruit, as well 
as nourished the deepest roots, of existence. While the auspices 
of freedom remained, she constantly derived fresh vigor, as Antaeus 
gained strength from contact with mother earth, borrowing radiance 
from Olympus, and growing in conscious companionship with heroes 
and gods. 

Critias, Nestrelis, and Hegias succeeded each other with some 
distinction, but not much was added to plastic art until Polycletus 
was born to raise alto-relievo to perfection, and won the proud re- 
nown of being the Sophocles of sculpture. He excelled in exquisite 
symmetry and superlative polish. The statue he made of a Persian 
life-guard was so exact in its proportions, and careful in its finish, 
that it was called the Rule. But the highest excellence in art had 
passed, and Myron, and Scopas, in their works which commemorated 
war, the chase, or the terrors of a violent death, foretokened the tem- 
pestuous age about to break in desolation all over earth. 

Having thus briefly sketched the progress and character of both 
architecture and sculpture, let us now glance at the painting of the 
Periclean age. 

As we have before said, architecture was the first of the fine arts, 

ART. 63 

and the pursuit of the beautiful in this paved the way for all the 
rest. Color, as an artistic element, was first used to define hiero- 
glyphics, and afterward was largely employed in mural decorations. 
The most characteristic production of Egypt was its obelisks, and 
these have made the world best acquainted with the spirit of the 
East by being transported without mutilation to the great cities of 
the West. Artificial tints on these are not common, but masses of 
wall are still seen, with pictorial representations of great variety, 
almost as vivid as they were three thousand years ago. But the 
type and form of her mummies was all that ever belonged to the 
land of the Pharaohs in the history of art. Every thing which 
contained life, growth, and power, from the simplest wayside Henna 
to Jupiter Olympus on his resplendent throne, sprang exclusively 
from the inventive and executive genius of Greece. 

There is no proof that the art of Mosaics was indigenous in 
Africa. That it existed in Persia as early as the age of Ahasuerus 
is recorded in the first chapter of Esther, where it is mentioned that 
in the royal palace of Shushan " the beds were of gold and silver, 
upon a pavement of red and blue and white marble." In this and 
many other respects, the spoils of war taken from the Persian in- 
vaders, conveyed to their victors important lessons in the arts of 
peace. The excellence which this kind of art eventually attained, 
and the profusion of its use, is quaintly indicated by the incident 
referred to by Claudius Galenus as follows : " Diogenes, the cynic, 
having entered a mansion in which all the Olympian deities were 
figured in chaste Mosaics, spat in the face of the host, saying it was 
the least noble spot he saw." Athenseus also mentions a work, 
formed of many colored stones, in small fragments, which represented 
the whole story of the Iliad. 

The Graces rocked the cradle of Greek art, Admiration taught 
her to speak, and painting was her most phonetic idiom. A legend 
not unworthy of belief tells us that a Corinthian maid, by means 
of a secret lamp, traced the shadow of her departing lover, and 
thus outlined portrait was formed. As Love made the first essay 
in this department of art, so he never ceased to guide the hands 
which beautified the age of Pericles. A wise law prohibited the 
choice of an ugly subject, and the popular sentiment so generally 
limited pictorial representation to the realm of elegance, that Pyri- 


cus, who ventured to depict apes and kitchen herbs, was surnamed 
Rhypographer, or " Dirt Painter." 

The etymology of the word used by the Greeks to express paint- 
ing was the same which they employed for writing, and this renders 
the affinity of method and materials certain. Their first efforts 
were striagrams, simple outlines of a shade ; thence they advanced 
to the monogram, or form without light or shade ; from this they 
arose to the monochrom, or design with a single pigment, on a waxed 
tablet ; and in the end, by means of the pencil, then first used, they 
invented the polychrom, and thus raised the stained drawing to a 
legitimate picture, glowing through all the magic scale of rainbow 
tints. The progressive steps in the attainment of excellence in this art 
are distinctly marked by the terms employed by Quinctilian, when 
he says that Zeuxis discovered light and shade ; Pamphilus was 
exquisite for subtlety of line ; Protogenes, for finish ; Apelles, for 
grace ; Theon, for poetical conceptions ; Polygnotus, for simplicity 
of color and form ; Aristides, for expression ; and Amphion, for 

When Neptune and Minerva disputed as to who should name the 
capital of Cecropia, the Olympian hierarchy decided that the right 
should be given to the one who bestowed the greatest benefit on 
man. Neptune smote the earth with his trident, from whence sprang 
a war-horse ; while Minerva produced an olive-tree. Thenceforth, 
as the greatest glory of the age, the arts of peace prevailed, and the 
product and proof of the noblest fame was set forth in mighty 
sculpture along the western pediment of the Parthenon. This was 
of pure Attic origin, and worthily crowned the reminiscences of 
oriental skill beneath. Egypt gathered the palm and lotus, the 
papyrus and date-leaves together, and produced the column, that 
symbol of strength, fastened like a bundle of sticks, the binding to- 
gether of which probably suggested elegant flutings to the Greeks. 
But, while mechanical execution absolutely perfect, and great ex- 
actness in copyism of ignoble types, were imported from the East, 
in vain do we there seek, from Moses to Ptolemy, for the least ap- 
proximation to natural forms. In the land of its growth, the lotus- 
leaf never alters, nor do the owl and ibis borrow one truthful char- 
acteristic from the models which abounded in the valley of the 
Nile. According to Herodotus, a heroic mythology, that great lever 

ART. 65 

of Greek art, was altogether wanting in Egypt ; and for this reason, 
doubtless, of their individual poets, sculptors, and painters, we do 
not possess the slightest record. On the contrary, in the great 
western metropolis, infant art was progressively nourished by the 
refined spirit of both natural and ideal excellence; the permanent 
traces of which perpetually remain on the painted vases and deli- 
cate basso-relievos which in the temples of Theseus and Minerva 
adorned the councils of the supreme gods. 

By means of polychromy, the Greets endeavored to add elegance 
to their buildings, without detracting from their majesty, knowing 
well that this exquisite system of coloring, when applied under their 
pure sky, illuminated by brilliant sunshine, and encompassed by 
gorgeous vegetation, would bring artificial beauty into complete 
unison with the richness of nature. Thus colored statuary har- 
monized with mural historic painting, and this looked out from 
broad panels of beauty through tinted colonnades upon the sky, the 
groves, fields, and sparkling seas. By this combination, Athenian 
structures were rendered most worthy of admiration, because in 
them works which, taken separately, might move through single 
attractions, or approach the sublime, were so happily combined, as 
instantly to evoke a sentiment of perfection and delight such as no 
other monuments ever possessed. Colors were so graduated that 
the temple they vitalized was made to resemble and reflect the 
charming vicissitudes of a lovely Grecian day : cool in the morning, 
dazzling at noon, and at evening burned with all the glowing gor- 
geousness of the setting sun. Euphranor and Micon, to excite the 
emulation of compatriots, depicted the exploits of heroes in the 
Porticoes ; Protogenes and Olbiades drew the portraits of renowned 
legislators in the Curia ; the Odeia were decorated with the pictorial 
forms of poets, and with the Graces, their inseparable companions ; 
the Gymnasia exhibited the god-like champions in the contests of 
Mars and the Muses ; and even the Propylaea became more famous 
for the precious works of the painters than for the marbles out of 
which its structural grandeur was formed. But Phidias alone ex- 
cepted, Polygnotus was perhaps the greatest public genius in the 
greatest artistic age. The pictures painted by him as votive offerings 
of the Cnidians were much admired, and the whole nation honored 
him for other monumental works. The Lesche, filled with the splen- 


ors of his skill, was the grand glyptothek of Athens, and first 
picture-gallery of the Grecian world. 

In the Periclean age, art was held as a glory, not as a luxury. 
Private life was frugal and modest, while the public monuments 
were soaring in proudest display. Socrates, the cotemporary of 
Pericles, according to his own testimony preserved by Xenophon, 
occupied a house which, with all it contained, was valued at five 
minae, or about ninety dollars. The dwellings of Miltiades, 
Aristides, Themistocles, and Cimon were contracted and devoid of 
all decoration. Alcibiades was the first who introduced painting as 
an ornament to his living apartments. But a passion for art actuated 
all classes, and was most prominent in the highest. Thus the 
beautiful Elpinice, sister of Cimon, took a pride in being a model 
to Polygnotus, at the same time her potent brother, at the head of 
the republic, triumphed over the mighty king. With kindred zeal, 
the populace of Croton gathered all the fairest damsels before 
Zeuxis, in order that from them he might select the best features 
with which to execute their commission to paint Helen. The 
astonishing progress made at that period in sculpture and painting 
was seen in the contrast which existed between an Indian idol, or 
Egyptian Isis, and the Jupiter of Phidias ; between the infantile 
fancies of a Chinese designer, and the ineffable charms of a picture 
by Apelles. While Socrates employed the language of Homer as 
the medium of moral discourse, and Plato thence derived images 
and reasoning to convey the theologies of Orpheus and Pythagoras, 
Agatharcus invented dramatic painting, and drew for ^Eschylus the 
first scene that ever agreed with the rules of linear perspective. A 
picture of the battle of Marathon, representing Miltiades erect in 
the foreground, was solemnly guarded by the public, and deemed 
nn adequate reward by that great captain. A pendant to this is 
said to have been one representing Aristides watching at night 
over the bloody field, in sight of the blue sea, no longer crowded by 
the barbarian fleet, and the white columns of the temple of Her- 
cules, near which the Athenians had pitched their tents. 

But when freedom ceased to preside over the public fortunes of 
Greece, grandeur and beauty withdrew from her private minds. As 
Philip of Macedon drew near, the propitious gods of Olympia 
migrated to Pella, and all the fair heritage assumed a sickly hue in 

ART. 67 

the deepening shade. As rhetoric vainly mimicked the deep 
thunders of eloquence which had passed, and metaphysical sophistry 
was substituted for that lofty philosophy which had guided honor- 
able destinies, so the grand taste which at first dictated to art the 
monumental style, degenerated into mere prettiness, or expanded 
into the heaviness of an unhealthy growth. But soon even the 
portion which yet retained some elegance ceased altogether, and 
what remained was rapidly transformed into the type of an age 
already gaining the ascendancy colossal might. Phidias excelled 
in graphic as in plastic art. According to Pliny, his Medusa's 
head' was a wonderful picture. Alcamenes, the Athenian, continued 
for a while the style of that great master, as did Agoracritus and 
Scopas of Paros. But the latter, like Lysippus, were transitional 
to Praxiteles of Cnidos, in whom great art expired. Original 
genius ceased to produce models of its own, and only expert imita- 
tors of mighty predecessors succeeded. Pamphilus was the 
Perugino, and Zeuxis, of Crotona, the Raphael, of Periclean painters. 
Apelles seems to have been the Titian of his age, and Protogenes, 
of Rhodes, a Greek Leonardo, whose picture of Temperance, his 
cotemporary Apelles declared, was worthy of being carried to 
heaven by the Graces. But with these masters pictorial art 
declined, and, like architectural and plastic art, was marked with 
the grossness of a coming age. 

Cheronea was the grave of Grecian excellence, as Marathon had 
been the glorious scene of its birth. The principle of despotism 
there came into collision with that of democracy, and with fearful 
odds in favor of the former ; but the result first demonstrated, as 
was afterward repeated at Thermopylae, Salamis, and Plataea, the 
difference between the man who fights for another and him who 
contends for his own rights. From the days of Themistocles to 
the present hour, no writer has discussed the nature and influence 
of free institutions without drawing largely from this portion of 
Grecian heroism. It is impossible to estimate the influence of those 
battles on the destinies of mankind, as in all succeeding ages they have 
constituted the staple of patriotic appeal, the battle-cry of desperate 
struggles, and thrilling key-notes of triumphant songs. Thus con- 
secrated to free government by martyred patriots, they are the 
universal watchwords of independence throughout the world. The 


calm fortitude of that invincible age was expressed in every depart- 
ment of art, even its melody. Music was an accomplishment in 
which the Greeks generally excelled. Alcibiades, however, surren- 
dered the use of the flute, because it deranged the beauty of his 
features ; and Themistocles, also, rejected its instruments, saying, 
" It is true I never learned how to tune a harp, or play upon a lute, 
but I know how to raise a small city to glory and greatness." Per- 
haps the best instance and symbol of all was Achilles. He was fed 
on the marrow of lions, and trained for conflict by the centaur 
Chiron, who was not less skillful in music than in the art of war. 
Resting from the chase of wild beasts in the desert, or, after the 
victorious fight with Trojans, sitting alone by the sea-shore, the lyre 
was the companion of his leisure, and, playing with its chords, he 
could control inward wrath by his own melody. 

If architecture is the most significant and enduring portion of the 
history of a people, a sure index of their mental state and social 
progress, plastic and graphic art are also striking exponents of their 
national character. The beautiful marble which forms the cliffs 
and coasts of Greece, notwithstanding its homogeneous transforma- 
tion, betrays by veins and fossils its sedimentary formation. And 
so Hellenism, although it may be homogeneous, nevertheless betrays 
its secondary origin, and the sedimentary material which consti- 
tutes its groundwork. The rudimentary vestiges bear the same 
impress in Assyria, Egypt, and even among savage races ; but the 
Greeks ignored the origin of these, rose above their hieratical 
meanings, and stamped all creations with their own peculiar manner. 
Their system of polychromy was the richest in antiquity, com- 
bining the lapidary style brought by the Dorians from Egypt, and 
the more brilliant tints which were attained when the Ionic mind 
penetrated Doric matter, and transfigured it with all the glories of 
Asiatic color. As Homer describes only progressive actions, so his 
great race executed nothing but what was bounded by the delicate 
lines of grace. The Parthenon has generally been regarded as 
being exactly rectilinear ; but Penrose has recently demonstrated, 
by careful admeasurements, that probably there is not a straight 
line in the building. All is embraced within mathematical curves, 
accurately calculated, and designed to correct the disagreeable effect 
produced on a practiced eye by perfectly straight lines. Taken as 

AKT. 69 

a whole, this work is sublimely grand, and, in its minutest details, 
it is perfectly wonderful. When unmutilated, it was the aggregate 
of all artistic worth, and yet remains, of its age, the chief emblem 
of intellectual majesty. 

The Greek sculptor invested his work with an inexpressible se- 
renity, as if it were a spirit without a passion, as appears in the 
Apollo and Antinous. Pride and scorn are strongly marked in 
these, yet over the whole figure is thrown a heavenly calm and 
placidness ; there is no swelling vein, no contorted muscle, but a 
general smoothness and unperturbed dignity. The same subdued 
air and tone prevailed in the paintings of the best age. Achilles 
appears grieved at having slain Penthesilea; the brave beauty, 
bathed in her own blood so heroically shed, demands the esteem of 
her mightier antagonist, and elicits the exclamations of both com- 
passion and love. The Greeks never painted a Fury, nor did ex- 
travagant rage or frightful despair degrade any of their productions. 
Indignant Jupiter hurled his lightnings with a serene brow ; and 
Timanthes, in painting the sacrifice of Iphigenia, rather than over- 
pass the limits within which the Graces moved, when he knew that 
the grief of Agamemnon, the father, would spread contortions over 
the face of the hero, concealed the extreme of distress, and per- 
fected at once the merit of the picture and the purity of his taste. 
The Philoctetes of Pythagoras of Leontini, appeared to impart 
his pain to the beholder; but this was telegraphed to the soul 
by the magnetic sympathy latent in all the work, and not by means 
of ugly features. Hercules in the poisoned garment, depicted by an 
unknown master of that age, was not the Hercules whom Sophocles 
described, shrieking so horridly that the rocks of Locris and head- 
lands of Eubcea resounded therewith. What was truthful and ap- 
propriate in language, was not attempted to be adequately expressed 
through the distortions of inappropriate art. Zeuxis derived his 
inspiration from Homer, and when he had painted his Helen, he had 
the courage to write at her feet the renowned verses, in which the 
enraptured elders confess their admiration. This contest between 
poetry and painting was so remarkable, that the victory remained 
undecided, as both the poet and painter were deemed worthy of a 
crown. The Diana of Apelles also followed Homer closely, with 
the Graces mingling in the accompanying train of her Nymphs. 


In these instances, as with Phidias in his own loftier sphere, the 
imagination of the artist was fired by the exalted image of the 
poet, and thus became more capable of just and captivating repre- 

But perhaps the grandest combination of glorious arts it is pos- 
sible to conceive, was that which existed when Demosthenes ad- 
dressed six thousand of his countrymen at the Pnyx. In the pres- 
ence of this vast multitude, he ascended the bema, and saw beneath 
him the Agora, filled with statues and altars to heroes and gods. 
To the north lay the olive groves of wisdom, and sunny villages 
along the fruitful plains beneath the craggy heights of Parnes and 
Citha3ron ; while to the south sparkled the blue ^Egean, whitened 
by many a sail. Before him was the Hill of Mars, seat of that 
most venerable tribunal, the Areopagus. Above him towered the 
Acropolis, with its temples glittering in the air ; on the left, stood 
the lofty statue of Minerva Promachus, with helmet and spear 
ready to repel all who dared to invade her pride of place ; and on 
the right, rising in supreme and stately splendor, was the marble 
Parthenon, glowing with chromatic legends spread behind the colon- 
nades, and relieved with sculpture tipped with gold. 

The splendid noon of Grecian greatness was succeeded by a 
splendid evening, divinety prolonged. Mental pre-eminence sur- 
vived long after her political supremacy was overthrown ; and even 
when trampled in the dust, she still won reverence from her brutal 



IF we trace the march of scientific knowledge through the dense 
strata of departed ages to its root, it will doubtless be found in the 
remote East, while all prolific growth is toward the West. As 
often as the storms of conquest have passed over the plains of India, 
the arts of production continue to be practiced in the very, places 
of their first endeavors. Hindoos of the present day, with no other 
auxiliaries than their hatchets and hands, can smelt iron, 'which 
they will convert into steel, equal to the best prepared in Europe 
It is believed that the tools with which the Egyptians covered 
their obelisks and temples of porphyry and syenite with hiero- 
glyphics, were made of Indian steel, Bailly refers the origin of 
the arts and sciences, astronomy, the old lunar zodiac, and the dis- 
covery of the planets, to northern Asia. Doubtless that was the 
source of the progressive race, of which science was the chief in- 
strument, and Greek culture the first adequate expression. 

As criticism comes naturally after poetry, so science succeeds a 
great exhibition of art. A close and profound analogy exists be- 
tween them, and in this order. Genius spontaneously executes 
great, curious, and beautiful works, before scientific reason pauses 
to sit in judgment upon the principles according to which the 
artistic processes were conducted. Expert workers in brass and 
iron existed long before the chemistry of metals was known, as 
wine sparkled in crystal and golden goblets before vinous fermenta- 
tion formed a chapter of science. Pyramids and cromlechs were 
raised into the air in cyclopian massiveness, before a theory of 
mechanical powers had been defined. Dyeing was early in use with 
the Hindoos, from whom the Egyptians learned the art, as they did 
that of calico printing. That was one of the many varieties of 


practical science which certainly came from the remote East 
Paper making was first known in India, where, for a long time, it 
was formed of cotton and other substitutes for hemp and flax. In 
the Himalayas, it is still manufactured of the inner bark of trees, 
and in sheets of immense size. The invention of a loom, and the 
common mode of weaving, is alluded to in the Rig Veda, B. c. 
1200 years. The Institutes of Manu, say : " Let a weaver who has 
received ten palas of cotton thread, give them back, increased to 
eleven by rice-water and the like used in weaving." 

But the nurses of infant science on the banks of the Ganges, the 
Euphrates, and the Nile, enslaved it to their own superstitions, and 
forever arrested its growth at the immutable boundary of their own 
contracted technicalities. So little real sfcill did the Egyptians pos- 
sess, that it was necessary for Thales to show them how to find the 
height of the pyramids by the length of their shadows. Osiris was 
a king of that mummified land, and the historical course of science 
was foretokened by the fabulous account respecting him. Diodorus 
states that he passed through Ethiopia, Arabia, India, and Asia ; 
crossed the Hellespont into Europe, and went from Thrace to 
western Greece, and the nations beyond, teaching them agriculture, 
and the cultivation of the vine. This was unquestionably invented 
after the Egyptian priesthood had received much information from 
the Greeks, and had become ashamed of their own gods, who had 
always confined their beneficent acts entirely to the borders of the 
Nile. Nevertheless, the statement is interesting, as it indicates the 
natural course of improvement. 

True scientific progress primarily appeared in those mathematical 
ideas which first escaped from theological jurisdiction, and have ever 
since increasingly dispersed the gloom of superstition. The East 
was all eyes and no sight, when reason was most requisite for prac- 
tical use ; like Argus, whose hundred eyes were found napping when 
work was to be done. The West was much more effective, because 
its executive skill was fully equal to its speculative ; like Cyclops, 
whose rugged two hands, co-operative with his vigilant one eye, 
forged for Neptune the trident which insured him the empire of the 
sea. The istudy of natural forces increased in proportion to the ne- 
cessity for their use as correlatives te manual toil. They were thus 
made greatly to increase the power of man, at the same time they 


materially economized his time. It was impossible even to the en- 
during energies of Hercules, unassisted to cleanse the Augean sta- 
bles ; but by the co-operation of a natural force, in the waters of 
the Alpheus, the needful end was speedily and effectually obtained. 
A legend describes how Arachne, proud of her proficiency in needle- 
work, presumed to challenge Minerva to a trial of skill. But the 
contest was most unequal, because the latter added science to 
natural handicraft, and this combination was too powerful for any 
one to withstand. The discomfited Arachne was degraded from 
her high position among mortals, and, transformed into a spider, 
was thenceforth compelled to spin the same web in the same way, 
alike in summer zephyrs and wintry blasts. 

Science exists in the mind ; it is nature seen by the reason, and 
not merely by the senses. The sciences are necessarily progressive 
in the outward world, because of their internal connection. When 
a particular fundamental principle is in the process of discovery, it 
is objective, that is the object contemplated ; but when once elimi- 
nated it becomes subjective, a new light to act as guide and evolver 
of kindred principles which lie beyond it, and are of more compre- 
hensive use. The development of man as a race is the unfolding 
of this inherent dependence of one science upon another, the con- 
tinuous revelation of that great patrimony of knowledge which is 
predestined to insure progress, emancipate reason, and entail the 
highest improvement consistent with a mortal state. When the 
Greek passed from the outer world of nature in search of wisdom, 
and descended to the depths of human consciousness, he was no 
longer traditional ; his thought was science, and we can see both 
its birth and progressiveness. Then only might the world expect 
that, as Plato says his master once desired, that " Nature should 
have interpretation according to reason." With Socrates, and the 
scientific thinkers of his school, philosophy advanced from the realm 
of nature into the realm of man, and became a moral science. But 
its early cultivators were copious in abstract principles rather than 
in practical applications. As Canning said, they were the horses 
of the chariot of industry, and, going in advance of systemizers, 
they searched for truth for its own dear sake. Science was indeed 
beautiful in that serene height of abstract theory it was her first 
aim to secure, resources so copious and elevated that they might 


irrigate all lands in their descending flow ; as the dove that brought 
the olive-branch to the ark of man's hopes needed to take a higher 
and longer flight than the one measured by the tree whence she 

Strange elements of civilization were gathered by the Greeks on 
every side, all of which were rapidly assimilated to a lofty type, and 
subordinated to the noblest use. Providence, with the wisest intent, 
did not permit them to advance far in the right track of scientific 
discovery. The time had not yet arrived for that, and their fine 
endowments were made subordinate to human happiness in more 
auspicious modes than through the accumulation of physical 
knowledge. They were fitted rather to self-scrutiny, guided by 
the mind alone, than to explore the grosser world of sense. To 
regulate and define common conceptions under the law of observa- 
tion was not their forte ; but they were prompt and iacile to ana- 
lyze and expand them through generalized reflection. The refined 
children of Hellas were subjective rather than objective in all their 
habits of thought ; and the Good, the Beautiful, and the Perfect, 
were their favorite speculative themes. Nevertheless, the earliest 
waking of science was in their schools ; with them the speculative 
faculty in physical inquiries was first unfolded. During the pro- 
tracted prelude during which practical knowledge was becoming 
separated from metaphysical, the more sagacious of their leaders 
were called sophoi, or wise men. Afterward this term was changed, 
as we shall have occasion to note in the succeeding chapter. The 
physical sciences, as treated by the early Italic and Ionic schools, 
embraced numerous great questions, and comprehended the widest 
field of universal erudition that was ever attempted. But proceed- 
ing according to a method radically wrong, they were unsuccessful. 
Greek scholarship in science, as in every other department, at the 
outset aimed at universality. Untamed by toil, and undismayed by 
reverses, they went bravely to their task, and strove to read the en- 
tire volume of nature at one glance. To discover the origin and 
principle of the universe, expressed in a single word, was their vain 
endeavor. Thales declared water to be the original of all; and 
Anaximenes, air ; while Heraclitus pronounced fire to be the essen- 
tial principle of the universe. The poetical tlieogonies and cos- 
mogonies of preceding ages gave tone to speculation in the dawn 


of science, and a physical cosmogony was the primary result. Pre- 
ceding nations, as the Egyptians, had no cosmal theories, and felt 
the need of none ; not so the Greeks, they were born with a crav- 
ing to discover the reasons of things, and to explain somehow the 
mysteries which duller races had little capacity, and less desire to 

Astrology bore a high antiquity in the East, and contained within 
itself some rays of light, but never rose above a degraded astron- 
omy. It prepared the way for science, by leading to the habit of 
grouping phenomena under the pictorial and mythological relations 
which were supposed to exist among the stars. Actual truths are 
gradually approximated, but when once really attained, they forever 
remain the fundamental treasure of man, and may be traced in all 
the superadditions of brighter days. Thus, in the dim light of 
speculative suggestion, the Copernican system was anticipated by 
Aristarchus, the resolution of the heavenly appearances into circular 
motions was intimated by Plato, and the numerical relations of 
musical intervals is to be ascribed to Pythagoras. But so com- 
pletely at fault a^s to method were even the latest natural philoso- 
phers, that no physical doctrine as now received, can be traced so 
far back as Aristotle. 

Astronomy is undoubtedly the most ancient and remarkable 
science. Chaldea and Egypt probably gave to it somewhat of a 
scientific form, before the age of intellectuality represented by the 
Greeks. The Egyptians advanced one step in the right direction, 
when they determined the path of the sun ; and Thales, who, like 
Moses, was learned in all the science of that Pharaonic people, in- 
troduced what he had gleaned into his own land, and became the 
father of astronomy. The great advance which he made is indi- 
cated by the fact that he was the first to predict an eclipse. This 
science, moreover, profited by the authority with which Plato 
taught the supremacy of mathematical order ; and the truths of 
harmonics which gave rise to the Pythagorean passion for numbers, 
were cultivated with great care in that school. But after these 
first impulses, in the opinion of Dr. Whewell, the sciences owed 
nothing to the philosophical sects ; and the vast and complex accu- 
mulations and apparatus of the Stagirite, do not appear to have 
led to any theoretical physical truths. 


As intimated before, Thales of Miletus, was the father of mathe- 
matical science, as of Grecian philosophy in general. The discove- 
ries of that earl) 7 period were of the most elementary kind, but of 
sufficient importance to give impulse to more dignified researches. 
His pupil, Pythagoras, made great advancement, and introduced 
music into his explanations of scientific phenomena, Democritus 
and Anaxagoras, the friend of Pericles, improved upon the attain- 
ments of their predecessors. The latter employed himself in his 
prison on the quadrature of the circle. Hippocrates, originally a 
merchant of Ohio, became a geometer at Athens, and was the first 
to solve the problem of a double cube. Archylas, the teacher of 
Plato, and Eudoxus, one of that great man's scholars, measured 
cylindrical surfaces, and attained important results by means of 
conic sections. Thales is reputed to have introduced the sun-dial 
into Greece, to have observed the obliquity of the ecliptic, and 
taught that the earth was spherical, and in the centre of the uni- 
verse. The cycle of nineteen years, called the golden number, 
invented for the purpose of making the solar and lunar year coin- 
cide, was the most important practical result which the astronomy 
of the Periclean age attained. Meton and Euctemon proposed it 
for the adoption of the Athenians, by whom it was adopted B. c. 
433 years, and is still in use to determine movable feasts. 

Pythagoras, the cotemporary of Anaxagoras, greatly improved 
every branch of science. He is said to have been taken prisoner 
by Cambyses, and thus to have become acquainted with all the 
mysteries of the Persian Magi. He settled at Crotona, in Italy, and 
founded the Italian sect. The physical sciences, particularly natu- 
ral history, and the science of medicine, were created by the Greeks. 
The writings of Hippocrates and Galen instructed the age of Peri- 
cles in the science of anatomy, which, with geometry and numbers, 
enabled the greatest of the artists to determine his drawing, pro- 
portions, and motion. It was genius guided by science that enabled 
the master to endow his work with life, action, and sentiment. 

Science in Greece, like life itself, was thoroughly republican and 
expansive, so long as vital growth was permitted. Their navigation 
extended even to the Baltic, as the voyage of Pytheas is a proof; 
they rather surpassed than yielded to the Phoenicians in the activity 
of their trade, and the wealth as well as extent of their colonies. 


It was in their superiority of scientific attainments that the Grecian 
colonists mainly excelled. Carthage, for instance, was at the same 
time powerful in conquest and commerce, but despite all her intel- 
lectual culture, she was inferior to smaller cities planted on the op- 
posite coasts. 

In the time of Homer, all Italy was " an unknown country." 
Phocean navigators discovered the Tyrrhenian sea, west of Sicily, 
and yet more daring adventurers from Tartessus sailed to the Pillars 
of Hercules. In due time, Colaeus of Samos, clearing for Egypt, 
was driven by easterly winds (Herodotus adds significantly, " not 
without divine intervention,") through the straits into the ocean. 
Thus was the remotest border of the known world unwillingly 
passed, and a nearer approach made to the divinely attested Hes- 
perides of the West. 

In contemplating the sublime and immortal rank which Greece 
held in the designs of Providence, the relation of her commerce to 
science should not be overlooked. The fable respecting the flight 
of Daedalus from Crete, is supposed to signify that he escaped by 
means of a vessel with sails, the first use of which, in that primitive 
age, might well be regarded as a description of wings. Inland and 
maritime navigation, were made to contribute much to that prolific 
race. Ivory, ebony, indigo, the purple dye mentioned by Ctesias, 
and gum-resins were imported from Arabia and Africa, together 
with pearls and cotton from the Persian Gulf. Caravans of camels 
richly ladened crossed Arabia to Egypt, and the great rivers Eu- 
phrates and Tigris conveyed vast stores of raw material to western 
Asia and Greece. Not only were the shrines of many a deity en- 
riched with vessels and decorations wrought out of "barbaric gold,' 1 , 
but every department of productive art and science was kept active 
through the demands of a wide and untrammeled commerce. The 
great intelligences of the age struggled with laudable intent, to em- 
body the conceptions, and diffuse the effulgence they possessed. As 
in that national game so significant of the master-passion and glo- 
rious mission of the Greeks, they threw onward the blazing torch 
from one to the other, until light kindled in every eye, and the fly- 
ing symbol exhilarated every breast. No man then professed to 
teach, and was paid for teaching, who yet had nothing to commu- 


For ten centuries the Greeks marched at the head of humanity, 
while Athens remained the centre to which the winds and the 
waves bore germs of civilization from the East, and whence, by the 
same instrumentalities, the seeds of yet richer harvests were scat- 
tered toward a more distant West. Hesiod, in his Works and Days, 
gave many practical lessons on agriculture, and more prosaic, but 
not less useful proficients arose on every hand to impart the most 
valuable instruction to each aspirant. The last effort of Grecian 
science was to mingle and combine in one system, all that the na- 
tions of the earth up to that era had produced. Diversified ideas 
of every shape and degree of worth were gathered around the torch 
of intense national enthusiasm, were made to comprehend and 
modify one another, and, in their sublimated union, gave birth to 
the first cultivated world. Plato was nearly cotemporary with 
Phidias, and, considering the great influence of his philosophic 
theory concerning the power of the soul to mold the outward per- 
son into its own pattern of virtue or vice, we can little doubt that 
the artist in his studio was greatly influenced by the sage of the 
Academy, both as to the choice of subjects and mode of treating 
them. But when the age of consummate art had passed, the 
Greeks perfected another great legacy to their successors, by making 
the last generation of her national industry the successful devotees 
of science. 

When every other department of literature and art in Athens 
were at their greatest splendor, the mathematics also flourished 
most ; the former soon began to decline, but the sciences continued 
in power long after beauty in art had been eclipsed. Aristotle 
wrote nine books on animals. He may be fixed upon as represent- 
ing the highest stage of knowledge and system the Greeks ever 
attained. Athenseus states, that Alexander gave him large sums 
of money, and several thousands of men, to hunt, fish, and other- 
wise aid in furnishing a vast collection in natural history, under 
the supervision of the philosopher. He was not only the first, but 
the only one of the ancients, who treated of separate species in the 
animal kingdom. But, although his system of physics accumulated 
numerous facts, Aristotle deduced not one general law to explain 
them. He knew the property of the lever as well, and many other 
correlative truths, but there was no correct theory of mechanical 


powers in the world, before Archimedes struck upon a generic 
principle of science. Before him, no one had arranged the facts 
of space, body, and motion, under the idea of mechanical cause, 
which is force. 

The civilization of Greece is borne to us, not upon the shields 
of her warriors, though they were such as Epaminondas, Miltiades, 
or Theseus. But in her inventive skill and artistic taste, in her 
ships and argosies, in her industrial prowess and the freedom con- 
sequent thereupon, were the power and wealth which made her the 
Panopticon of the nations. Freedom of production, and freedom 
of barter, were the guiding commercial principles under which 
science and fame grew together and matured the greatest strength. 
Athens was indebted to the enterprise of her citizens, and not to 
martial conquest, for her glory. The ships that crowded the gulf 
of Salamis, were built of wood, purchased from Thrace and Mace- 
donia, and choice material for the furniture of their halls and pal- 
aces, from Byzantium. Phrygia supplied them with wool, and 
imports from Miletus were woven in their looms. The choicest 
products of Pontus, Cyprus, and the Peloponnesus, did the Athen- 
ians obtain ; while, for them, from Britain, overland through Gaul, 
the Carthagenians exported tin, and exchanged with them diversi- 
fied commodities. Spain yielded them its iron, and the quarries 
of Hymettus and Pentelicus furnished marble for the adornment 
of their own lands, and for copious export. As is shown in McCul- 
lagh's " Industrial History of Free Nations," they never had an idea 
that population could outstrip production, or production over sup- 
ply the population. " If a man were in debt, they did not confine 
him between stone-walls, useless to himself and his creditors : they 
provided that he should labor until he had paid back the amount 
of the debt. It was upon the seas of commercial treaty they 
learned their lessons of freedom ; and thence, too, did those gems 
of art, which have since been the wonder and the worship of the 
world, increase and delight. The beauty of their heavens shed an 
influence over their soul ; the tenderness of their scenes, we know, 
enwove themselves into even the tables, chairs, couches, and drink- 
ing vessels. The Grecian moved amid a perpetual retinue of 
beauties ; the painting, the statue, the vase, the temple, all assumed 
novel forms of elegance. In all this it is not the splendor of Athens 


which Attracts us most, it is that indefatigable genius of enterprise 
and industry which, from the caves of the Morea, plucked the laurel, 
and m#de the wild waves of the JEgean tributary to her wants and 
her valor." So prevalent was this spirit of free trade and personal 
enterprise, that ordinary mechanics often gained great power in 
the republic ; as in the person of Cleon, the tanner, who became a 
worthy successor of Pericles. The port of the great artistic, manu- 
facturing, and commercial emporium, was so thronged with ships 
from every clime, as to justify the saying of Xenophon, that the 
dominion of the sea secured to the Athenians the sweets of the 
world. Nor were their own craft insignificant in size, or any way 
unworthy of the great people they served. Demosthenes refers to 
one ship which carried three hundred men, a full cargo, numerous 
slaves, and the ordinary crew. 

It is granted that art was the parent of science ; the genial and 
comely mother of a daughter possessing a yet loftier and serener 
beauty than herself. It is equally true that Doric columns, and 
decorated entablatures, were perfected like the integral parts of the 
Attic drama, before professional critics vouchsafed to apply rules 
for the three unities, or canons of monumental forms. What crea- 
tive spirit in their age actually did, scientific judges afterward 
patronized with frigid nomenclatures, and learnedty demonstrated 
that it might by certain rules be done. 

Under the Ptolemies, neither poets nor artists were produced ; 
but the mathematical school of Alexandria exhibited an extraordi- 
nary succession of remarkable men. Within the secluded halls 
and ample libraries of that central college, the exact sciences were 
assiduously cultivated, and for more than a thousand years immense 
resources of learning were stored, in due time to be dispersed over 
the prepared West. The works of Euclid, Apollonius, and Archi- 
medes, contain a valuable treasure of the mathematical knowledge 
of antiquity ; but at the early period when they lived, science was 
so immature, and the amount of observations so limited, they could 
only lay the foundation of that excellence to which posterity has 
since arrived. At the conclusion of the Aristotelian treatises the 
exploration of this realm subsided, and the human mind remained, 
in appearance, stationary for nearly two thousand years. 



THE term philosopher, or lover of wisdom, is an appellation which 
was first applied by Pythagoras, of Samos. He was the originator 
of the Italic, as Thales, his predecessor, one of the sophoi or wise 
men, was of the Ionic school, about B. c. 640 years. Philosophy 
means a search after wisdom. When this is looked for among 
the things that are seen and handled, weighed and measured, it is 
physical philosophy. But he who seeks for an object which is not 
of this material kind, is called a metaphysical philosopher. 

All philosophical elements are in the East, but enveloped in one 
another, needing a distinct and matured growth. As the roots of the 
modern world are in classic antiquity, so those of classic antiquity 
are on the coasts of Egypt, in the vales of Persia, and on the heights 
of Asia. The oriental world preceded Greece, but has left no legi- 
ble record of her past. In the progressive West alone does authen- 
tic history begin, and this is embodied in history, as in every other 
branch of human improvement. The world of humanity was seen 
to take a step forward, when civilization descended through Asia 
Minor, and traversed the Mediterranean to rest on the coasts of 
Attica. Then all the elements of human nature came under a new 
condition, and soon adopted the permanent order of an independent 

The earliest philosophy of Greece had an Asiatic origin, and was 
received through Ionia. Many fragments from that source were 
incorporated in the works of Homer and Hesiod, and others are 
quoted by the primitive annalists from the still more ancient oracu- 
lar poetry. Sir William Jones was of the opinion that the six lead- 
ing schools, whose principles are explained in the Dersana Sastra, 
comprise all the metaphysics of the old Academy, the Stoa, and the 



Lyceum. " Nor," continues he, " is it possible to read the Vedasta, 
or the many compositions in illustration of it, without believing that 
Pythagoras and Plato derived their sublime theories from the same 
fountain with the sages of India." In the mathematical sciences, the 
Hindoos were acquainted with the decimal notation by nine digits 
and zero. In algebra, Mr. Colebrooke found reason to conclude 
that the Greeks were far behind the Hindoos ; but it is possible that 
the latter was obtained from the Morea at a later period through the 
Arabs. But on the question of philosophy, there can be no doubt 
that incipient notions existed in Hindoostan, compared with which 
the antiquity of Pythagoras is but of yesterday ; and in point of 
daring, the boldest flights of Plato were tame and common- 

Grecian art, which rose to absolute perfection, ended also with 
itself, and presents a striking exemplification of the perishable nature 
of merely instinctive greatness. But the philosophy of that won- 
derful people was more immutably founded, and has never ceased 
to show that the human race, unlike an unbroken circle constantly 
revolving upon itself, progressively advances into the infinite, and 
shines unremittingly with inborn ardor to attain the highest and 
noblest ends. Humanity, that is, thought, art, science, philosophy, 
and religion, the powers which are represented in history, embraces 
all, profits by all, advances continually through all, and never retro- 
grades. A given system may perish, and this may be a misfortune 
to itself, but not to the general weal. If it possessed real life, that life 
is still realized in some higher manifestation, but perhaps so modi- 
fied by co-operative elements as to appear lost It may indeed be 
obscured, but can never be obliterated. Vicissitudes and revolu- 
tions may rapidly succeed, and in great confusion ; but human des- 
tiny is higher and better than these, it accepts all, assimilates all, 
and subordinates all to its own supreme behests. Every epoch, in 
retiring from the stage of the world, leaves after it a long heritage 
of contrary interests ; but these only wait for a sufficient accumu- 
lation of other like elements, that with them a homogeneous 
amalgam may be formed as the basis of yet worthier superaddi- 
tions. The Hellenic mind invented the art of deducing truth from 
principles by the dialectical process, and this divinest of Japhetic 
discoveries has exerted the most auspicious influence on subsequent 


philosophy and religion. The world had already learned much 
when the Greek first demonstrated that reasoning might often err, 
but reason never. That is the only medium through which truth 
is conveyed, and Greek philosophy was truly precious when it be- 
came to mankind the translation of the instinctive consciousness of 
God into reasoning. This was first applied to fathom the depths 
of physical speculation ; and, then, in the consecrated soul of Soc- 
rates, it labored to possess the bosom of universal humanity, that 
thereby it might unfold to all the highest science. Shem trans- 
formed figurative signs into simple letters, and invented the Alpha- 
bet ; but that greater prophet of the human race, Japhet, did vastly 
more, by translating the hieroglyphics of thought into simple ele- 
ments, thereby inventing dialectical philosophy. This changed 
myths, legends, and visions, as well as more authentic annals into 
the heirloom of mankind by reason, and became at once and for all 
time the great organon for dealing with both conception and exist- 
ence of all kinds everywhere. 

There was military activity enough among the Greeks to preserve 
them from intellectual and moral torpor, but fortunately it did not 
exist in sufficient force to engross the faculties of superior minds. 
Therefore, energies of the highest order were thrown back upon in- 
tellectual pursuits; and the masses, so led, were also inclined to like 
culture, especially in the direction of aesthetics and philosophy. 
The bold writers of the Republic shrunk not from propounding all 
those problems in science and morals most interesting to man ; and, 
whatever may have been their skill in solving them, they certainly 
were the first to point the way to true greatness. But for the rest- 
less spirit of inquiry which was awakened by Greek philosophers, 
the western nations might still have been slumbering in barbarian 
ignorance. Ancient dialectics prepared the way for modern prog- 
ress, by teaching intellect to discipline and comprehend itself, in 
order that it may accurately scan nature and bind her forces to the 
car of human welfare. Such was the idea expressed by Aristotle, 
when he said : " The order of the universe is like that of a family, 
of which each member has its part not arbitrarily or capriciously 
enforced, but prefixed and appointed ; all in their diversified func- 
tions conspiring to the harmony of the whole." 

Philosophy, like the literature, art, and science of the ancients, 


had its origin among the Asiatic Greeks. The same region that 
gave existence and character to Homer and Herodotus, produced 
also Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes, and Heraclitus, founders of 
the Ionic school. They belonged to the same region, studied under 
like auspices, and formed continuous' links in the great chain of 
perpetual progress. To the same source is to be accredited those 
who extended the Ionic doctrines to Magna Grecia and southern 
Italy, such as the poet Zenophanes, and that mighty founder of the 
most erudite confederacy, Pythagoras. 

Anaxagoras, successor of Anaximenes, was born B. c. 500 years. 
After giving great distinction to the Ionic school, he came to reside 
at Athens, where he taught Pericles and Euripides, at the same 
time he was opening the source from which Socrates derived his 
knowledge of natural philosophy. 

Parmenides, Zeus, and Leucippus, natives of Elea, enhanced the 
reputation of the Eleatic school, founded by Zenophanes, about 
B. c. 500 years. Democritus, a disciple of Leucippus, increased its 
fame still more, but modified its doctrines extensively. 

Socrates, according to Cicero, " brought down philosophy from 
heaven to dwell upon earth, who made her even an inmate of our 
habitations." His discomfiture of the Sophists, whose futile logic 
inflicted much injury on the Athenian mind, was a great blessing 
to his country, but one which cost the benefactor his life. His doc- 
trines were never committed to writing by himself, but have been pre- 
served in substance by his distinguished pupils Plato and Xenophon. 

The Cyrenaic sect was founded by Aristippus, a disciple of 
Socrates. It degenerated through the varied succession of Theodorus, 
Hegesias, and Anniceris, to merge finally in the kindred doctrines 
on happiness inculcated by Epicurus. 

Antisthenes was the first of the Cynics, and was succeeded by 
the more notorious Diogenes. This school was composed of dis- 
ciplinarians, rather than doctrinists, whose whole business was the 
endeavor to arrange the circumstances of life, that they may pro- 
duce the maximum of pleasure and the minimum of pain. The 
caustic wit of Diogenes was directed against more refined teachers, 
especially his great cotemporary, Plato. The latter, in terms which 
implied respect for the evident talents of a rival whom he had so 
much reason to despise, called him " a Socrates run mad." 


Archelaus succeeded Diogenes, and was called, by way of emi- 
nence, " the natural philosopher." Before him, Anaxagoras had 
taught occasional disciples in Athens ; but it is probable that 
Archelaus was the first to open a regular school there. He trans- 
ferred the chair of philosophy from Ionia to the metropolis of 
Minerva 450 years before Christ. 

The Megaric sect of Sophists was the last and worst. It was 
founded by Euclid es, and produced Eubulides, Alexinus, Eleensis, 
Diodorus, and Stilpo. Cotemporary criticism applied to some of 
these such epithets as the Wrangler, or the Driveler, which, doubt- 
less, were well deserved. Stilpo was the last gleam of philosophic 
worth in Greece. 

Of the religious views of Socrates, we shall treat in the suc- 
ceeding chapter. Under the present head, it is sufficient to say, that 
his moral worth illustrated the age in which he lived ; and his admi- 
ring disciples branched into so many distinguished families or schools, 
that he is justly called the great patriarch of philosophy. Socrates 
was the first philosophic thinker who demanded of himself and of 
all others a reason for their thoughts. He roused the spirit, and 
rendered it fruitful by rugged husbandry. He insisted that men 
should understand themselves, and so express their reason as to be 
understood by him. Thus he produced all he desired, movement, 
advancement in reflection ; and leaving successors to arrange sys- 
tems, it was enough for him to supervise the birth and growth of 
living thoughts. As the Pythagoreans were the authors of mathe- 
matics and cosmology, Socrates consummated the scientific endeavor, 
and added psychology. Thus the dignity and importance of 
human personality stood revealed, the crowning light most needed 
to complete the age of Pericles. Around this fundamental idea 
created by psychology was gathered the idea of personal grandeur, 
in heaven as upon earth, in literature, art, science, philosophy, and 
religion. As soon as philosophic genius proclaimed the supreme 
importance of the study of human personality, the higher divinities 
became personal, and the representations of art no longer fell into 
exaggerated forms, but were definite, expressive, and refined. 
Moreover, as this principle prevailed and was acutely felt, legislation 
became liberal, and the social polity was necessarily democratic. 

Plato, the great glory of Athenian philosophy, was born in 


JEgina, about B. c. 430 years. Descending from Codrus and 
Solon, his lineage was most distinguished ; but his genius was much 
more illustrious than any ancestral fame. He learned dialectics 
from Euclides the Megaric ; studied the Pythagorean system under 
Phitolaus and Archytas ; and traveled into Egypt to accomplish 
himself in all that which the geometry and other learning of that 
country could impart. Returning to Greece, he became the most 
characteristic and renowned teacher of philosophy in the Periclean 
age. Demosthenes, Isocrates, and Aristotle were among his disci- 
ples, and continuators of his immense mental and moral worth. 
Plato also visited Italy, where he gathered the noble germs which 
he grafted on the doctrines of Socrates, and which are not accounted 
for in Xenophon. On his final return to Athens, he took possession 
of a modest apartment adjacent to the groves and grounds which 
had been bequeathed by Academus to the public, wherein he lec- 
tured to the public on sublime themes. He divided philosophy into 
three parts Morals, Physics, and Dialectics. The first division 
included politics, and under the second, that science which after- 
ward came to be distinguished by the name of metaphysics. In liis 
Commonwealth, the object of Plato was to project a perfect model 
to which human institutions might in some remote degree approxi- 
mate. He seems even at that early day to have had a presentiment 
of the ennobling republicanism which human progress would neces- 
sitate and attain. His writings form a mass of literary and moral 
wisdom, inculcated with the highest charm of thought and manner, 
which had ever appeared to exalt the imagination and affect the 
heart. He was, doubtless, the best prose writer of antiquity ; in the 
form and force of his composition, he stands at the highest point of 
refinement Attic genius ever attained. He died at Athens, eighty- 
one years old, and was honored with a monument in the Academy, 
upon which his famous pupil, Aristotle, inscribed an epitaph in 
terms of reverence and gratitude. 

The philosophy to which Plato gives his name, recalls at once all 
that is most profound in thought and pleasing in imagination. But 
no isolated genius can be correctly appreciated. His predecessors, 
Socrates and Anaxagoras, as well as his successors, the Neoplato- 
nists, must be taken into joint consideration, or the great master in 
whom philosophic grandeur culminated will not himself be properly 


understood. Neither is the Sceptic school of Pyrrho, nor the Stoic 
school of Zeus; Democritus, of Abdera, radiant with smiles, or 
Heraclitus, of Ephesus, bathed in tears, to be discarded from the 
view, when we would sum up the aggregated worth of that philo- 
sophic age. But the hour has come when the god of philosophy, a 
son of Metis, or Wisdom, realized the menace put into the mouth 
of Prometheus by JEschylus, and Zeus with his compeers is driven 
into the caverns of the West to share the exile of Cronus. Who 
was the predestined instrument of all this ? 

Stagirus, the birthplace of Aristotle, was situated on the western 
side of the Strymonic gulf; a region which, in soil and appearance, 
resembles much the southern part of the bay of Naples. When 
seventeen years old, he came to Athens, the centre of all civiliza- 
tion, and the focus of every thiDg that was brilliant in action or 
thought. Plato fired his mind, and fortified that wonderful indus- 
try in his hardy pupil, which enabled him, first among men, to ac- 
quire almost encyclopaedic knowledge in collecting, criticizing, and 
digesting the most comprehensive mass of materials. So extraor- 
dinary was the application of Aristotle, that Plato called his resi- 
dence " the house of the reader." 

How wonderful is Providence ! While Aristotle was exiled in 
Mytilene, and when the auspices of human progress were most fore- 
boding, he was invited to undertake the training of one who, in 
the world of action, was destined to achieve an empire which only 
that of his master in the world of thought could ever surpass. In 
the conjunction of two such spirits, according to the predetermined 
mode and moment, the invaluable accumulation of Periclean wealth 
was to be distributed westward without the slightest loss. The 
great transition hero needed to be trained in a way befitting his 
mission, and this required that he should be imbued with some- 
thing better than the austerity of Leonidas, or the flattery of Ly- 
simachus, so that his character might command respect, and his 
judgment preserve it. Through the influence of Aristotle on Alex- 
ander, this conservative result was attained. The rude and intem- 
perate barbarian became ameliorated, and soon manifested that 
love for philosophy and elegant letters, which were the fairest 
traits of his life. So strong did this elevating passion become, 
even amid the ignoble pursuits of war, that being at the extremity 


of Asia, in a letter to Harpalus, he desired the works of Philestris, 
the historian, the tragedies of ^Eschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, 
and the dithyrambs of Telestis and Philoxenus, to be sent to him. 
Homer was his constant traveling companion; a copy of whom 
was often in his hands, and deposited by the side of his dagger 
under his nightly pillow. Thus did the beautiful age of Pericles 
blend with the martial force about to succeed. 

When Aristotle returned to Athens to close the great era of 
philosophic vigor, being near the temple of Apollo Lyceus, his 
school was known as the Lyceum, and here every morning and 
evening he addressed a numerous body of scholars. Among the 
acute and impressible Greeks nearly all objects, however ideal in 
their original treatment, subsequently received a practical form. 
As the imaginative sublimities of their poets became embodied in 
glorious sculptures, so the theories of their early philosophy were 
wrought out politically, or gave way to cumulative mathematical 
demonstration. Plato, in dialogues and dissertations, philoso- 
phized with all the fervor of an artist ; while the method of Aris- 
totle was strictly scientific in the minute as well as enlarged sense 
of the word. To the first, philosophy was a speciality which en- 
grossed a protracted life ; but the latter treated not only of natural 
science, and natural history as well, but he also wrote on politics, 
general history, and criticism, so that it may be said truly that he 
epitomized the entire knowledge of the Greeks. The age of Plato 
was an age of ideals; but with Aristotle the realistic age had 
dawned. Pericles had begun to take part in public affairs one 
year before the birth of Socrates ; Olynthus was taken by Philip 
of Macedon the very year in which Plato died. This intermediate 
period of one hundred and twenty years was all occupied with 
some ideal of beauty, wisdom, or freedom, in the persons of poets, 
architects, sculptors, painters, statesmen, who were striving to real- 
ize it, dreaming of it, or sporting with it to amaze and bewilder 
their fellow-men. But the name of Aristotle, as that of Philip, is a 
signal that concentrated organizing power has appeared in the 
realms of thought and action, and that the coming age requires a 
philosophical expounder who shall in his own career govern the 
old and represent the new. It was at Athens that Aristotle col- 
lected all the treasures of scientific facts the conquered nations could 


contribute, and wrote there the great works which were still young 
in their influence when the Macedonian madman had long since 
crumbled into dust. 

To the followers of Plato in the Academy, of Aristotle in the 
Lyceum, the Cynics of the Cynosargus, and Stoics of the Portico, 
Epicurus came in the decrepid effeminacy of the age at the moment 
of its lowest degradation, and, amid the parterres of prettiness 
which, with the pittance of eighty minse, he purchased for the pur- 
pose, established the so-called philosophy of the Garden. Such 
was the last expression of that Ionian school which shared some- 
what of the Hindoo national character, wherein it originated, and 
so far resembled a hot-house seed. Opening with gorgeous colors 
and rich perfume, it grew rapidly, and produced precocious and 
abundant fruit. But the more western growth was like the oak, 
hardened by wind and weather, striking its roots into solid earth, 
and stretching its branches in free air toward both sun and stars. 
In the Ionic school the human soul performed but a feeble part. 
The Italic school, on the contrary, was mathematic and astronomic, 
and at the same time idealistic ; it was at once the brain and heart 
of Grecian progress and power. The former regarded the relations 
of phenomena as simple modifications of the same, and founded 
the abstract upon the concrete ; whereas, the latter neglected the 
phenomena themselves for their relations, founding thus the concrete 
upon the abstract. To the Ionic school the centre of the world's 
system is the earth; but the centre of the universal system, 
according to conscious reason in the Italic school, is the sun. 
Ten fundamental numbers therein formed' the decadal astron- 
omy, the harmonious kosmos, whose laws of movement around 
the great central luminary produced the sweet music of the 

Empedocles, of Agrigentum, B. c. 455, presents the most western 
phase of Greek character, and the one which in the clearest manner 
anticipated the age to come. He noted the great changes which 
transpired in society, and believed he saw their counterpart in the 
convulsions going on within and upon the earth. The war of dis- 
organized humanity, passions against nature, and the conflict of 
enraged elements among themselves, were closely considered, but 
doubtless with a confusion of physics and ethics in his mind. 


Love, hatred, friendship, treason, were all recognized mixed up in 
the fearful warfare of earth, air, fire, and water. Great nature was 
no imaginary battle-field to the mind of Empedocles ; the hosts 
which Homer had portrayed fighting for Greeks and Trojans, were 
still in deadly struggle, and his vivid speculations soon after became 
actual history. Cotemporaries called him the enchanter ; because, 
as a zealous student of the outer world, he could not disengage 
himself from the perplexities which he found within his own 
constitution, but followed out with fervor the greatest question 
of our being. He not only won at the chariot race, as his father 
did before him, and fought for the liberties of his native Agrigen- 
tum, that last hold of freedom in the West, but as poet, as well as 
philosopher, he forms a curious link between Homer, Pindar, and 
his Roman admirer, Lucretius. 

As often as the historian and philosopher speak of heroic vir- 
tues, they will mention Lycurgus, and the influence of his legisla- 
tion. But when they glance at the higher objects man was made 
to attain, the harmonious development and adornment of all the 
powers in his possession, they must look to the laws of a nobler cul- 
ture in Attic climes. It was there only, that all ennobling influ- 
ences were blended and subordinated to the highest use by the best 
minds. Plato frequented the studios of artists, to acquire correct 
ideas of beauty ; and Aristotle, in his Politics, says, that " all were 
taught literature, gymnastics, and music ; and many also, the art of 
design, as being useful and abundantly available for the purposes of 
life." But not one beautiful flower of intellect or art sprang in 
Laconian soil, to acquire thereon either healthful vigor or attrac- 
tive growth. No gladdening voice of the poet has thence de- 
scended, nor were the obscurities of nature, and the depths of 
immortal consciousness either investigated or enlightened by any 
of her sons. 

Thus from the sublime terrace of the Acropolis, have we cast 
another glance over that glorious land where Homer breathed 
forth those songs for six and twenty centuries unexcelled ; where 
Phidias, like his own Jupiter, sat serene on the loftiest throne of 
art ; where Pericles ruled with sovereign grandeur in the first of 
cities, not by mercenary arms, but by the magic influence of mind ; 
where Socrates first scanned the human heart, and learned to 


analyze its deep and mighty workings ; and whence the royal pupil 
of Aristotle, the last and greatest of universal victors, went forth on 
the mission of conquest, not designedly to plunder and destroy, but 
to spread the literature, arts, science,- philosophy, and religion of 
immortal Greece throughout the civilized world. 



THE East is the native land of religion, whence a perpetual exo- 
dus has continually advanced toward the West. As the sun in 
the beginning, so truth and life first shone from the orient; and 
the march of civilization has ever since been in the direction of 
that great orb. 

The Assyrians were not monotheistic, but they were far from be- 
ing so polytheistic as the Egyptians, who were imbued with an Afri- 
can fetichism such as never debased the Asiatic race. Hence, their 
symbolism was much simpler and less repulsive than that of the 
Egyptians. The ancient Persians were less superstitious than the 
Assyrians, and presented their paraphrase of Te Deum first among 
intellectual nations without temples. They have left nothing that 
pertains to sacred art, not even tombs. With them God was omni- 
present, fire his symbol, the firmament his throne, the sun and 
stars his representatives, the elements his ministers, and the most 
acceptable worship a holy life. But a belief in the existence and 
exercise of supernatural powers is older than the magism or magic, 
whose origin belongs to that indefinite antiquity which witnessed 
the feuds of Ninus and Zoroaster, when the gods instructed the In- 
dian devotee how to subordinate them to his purposes, or when 
Odin discovered the Kunes, which could chain the elements and 
awake the dead. Earlier than Assyrian Chaldeans, Israelitish Le- 
vites, or Median and Persian Magi, religious sentiments were native 
to man, and magician and priest were synonymous terms. Then 
was the arbiter of weal and woe, of blessings and curses, invested 
with the awful privilege of invoking the gods and performing re- 
ligious services. Aided by popular credulity, the inspired seer 
could move mountains, stir up Leviathan, govern disease, or, like 
Balaam, destroy foes by imprecations. 


It would be a hopeless task to trace with accuracy the theology 
of the earliest periods, buried as it is under a mass of allegory and 
fable which can not now be removed. Yet there are indications of 
a purer morality, and a more worthy faith, than is portrayed in the 
anthropomorphic mythology of the Hesiodic and Homeric poems. 
Inachus is supposed to have migrated from the Asian shore about 
the same time the Israelites entered Egypt. Then, the worship 
prevalent among the Nomadic tribes of Asia, according to Job, 
was that of one almighty Creator, typified by, and already half 
confounded with light, either the sun or other celestial bodies. 
Plato speaks vaguely of the divine unity, and Aristotle more dis- 
tinctly avers, that " it was an ancient saying received by all from 
their ancestors, that all things exist by and through the power of 
God, who being one, was known by many names according to his 
modes of manifestation." 

In the opening chapter of this work, allusion was made to the 
Kylas mountain in Asia, from the lofty terraces of which the an- 
cestors of the Greeks descended, bringing with them to Hellas a 
memento of their origin in the word koilon, which they used to 
designate heaven, and illustrating their hereditary theology by go- 
ing for congenial worship to the loftiest shrines. The best authority 
tells us that they were exceedingly religious, a fact which even 
their grossest errors confirm. Endowed with the most acute and 
active sensibilities, the Greek sought to satisfy the ardent aspirations 
of his devout spirit ; he even yearned to be himself enrolled among 
the deified heroes whom his valor or imagination had exalted to 
the dazzling halls of Olympus. This general impulse may be illus- 
trated by particular examples, as in the subtle Themistocles and 
majestic Pericles, who placidly hailed in worship traditions dis- 
carded by the historic mind as transparent fictions. So powerful 
and all pervading was the religiousness of the cultivated Greeks, 
that the same judgment which so profoundly harmonized with the 
severe grandeur of the Olympian Jove, enthroned by Phidias amid 
the marshaled columns of the national temple, bowed to the legend 
of Aphrodite, the foam-born queen of Love. Heroism and piety 
were perpetually invigorated at costly fanes ; and how deeply the 
spirit of worship and belief in retribution, were impressed upon the 
most powerful intellect, is shown by the awful apostrophe of De- 


mosthenes to the heroes who fell at Marathon, and the breathless 
attention which then absorbed the very soul of the Athenian. 

In the land of Ham nothing was nobler than a few dull emblems 
of thought, sitting on a lotus leaf, immersed in the contemplation 
of their own divinity, or fierce warrior-deities, Molochs, Baals, or 
Saturns, while the classic West deified the sentiments of the human 
mind ; and, though steeped in viciousness, yet represented as beings 
presiding over nature in beautiful and commanding forms. A po- 
tent spell of fascination dwelt in the mere abstractions of pagan 
thought embodied in a Hebe, Venus, or Minerva ; and false as were 
the spiritual views of their authors, they exercised a charm of 
imagination which still speaks to more enlightened intellects, and 
evokes sad regrets from holier hearts. The province of Shem was 
faith and not philosophy. His descendants were never successful 
in dialectics, and the best of them under the old dispensation only 
stated the matter of their belief, but never undertook to prove it. 
When Job attempted religious argumentation, and would justify 
the ways of God to man by a process of theodicean philosophy, he 
acknowledged his failure by avowing the incomprehensibility of 
human destinies. And when the pious and philosophic Ecclesiastes 
attempted to argue on rationalistic principles, he fell into inextri- 
cable doubt, and could resist despair only by implicit submission to 
the word vouchsafed from heaven : " Fear God and keep his com- 
mandments, for this is the whole duty of man." Such was the 
last dictum of Hebraism in the fifth century before Christ, at the 
moment when the daring speculation of Japhet had passed its cul- 
minating point. This, too, was the age of Haggai and Malachi, in 
whom sacred truth is announced in purely didactic and not argu- 
mentative forms. Without anticipating the designs of Providence, 
we think with inexpressible delight of the last and best expression 
of Jewish faith united to Japhetic reason, and happily blended to- 
gether in the splendors of an infinitely loftier wisdom to enlighten 

The functions of humanity are of a social nature ; they merge in 
the whole species, and have religion for their foundation and centre. 
If absolute isolation were possible to man, it would virtually nul- 
lify his existence. Only societies act in and upon the world, with 
religion for their bond and protection. Among the nations which 


have shared in the work of progress accomplished hitherto, each 
has exerted an influence by some characteristic feature, some special 
function in the general advance. In addition to the literature, art, 
science, and philosophy of the Greeks, we should carefully note the 
great civilizing might which dwelt in their religion. This was felt 
by them to be an infinite and universal necessity. Without it, the 
social state is impossible, since the nature of man demands active 
progress under a moral law too exalted to emanate from human 
will. It must be divinely ordained, and in a way which clearly in- 
dicates the means and end of human perfection. That alone can 
create and proclaim the legitimate end of human activity, at the 
same time it becomes synonymous with religious morality. 

The ideas which obtain among different nations respecting their 
own creation, are usually much like themselves. Scandinavians sup- 
pose that they sprang from dense forests on their hills, the Libyans 
from the sands of their native deserts, while the Egyptians con- 
ceived themselves to have arisen from the mud of the Nile. But 
the cheerful and active Greek associated his origin with the grass- 
hopper, and went singing on his agile way. A kindred diversity 
exists in the choice made by nations as to the objects to be adored. 
The Egyptians deified water, the Phrygians earth, the Assyrians 
air, and the Persians fire. But the Greek, impelled by nobler in- 
stincts, went beyond grosser natures and deified himself. The mighty 
conclave shining^ round the resplendent heights of Olympus, was 
only the counterpart of a vast congregation worshiping below. As 
Amon or Osiris presides among the deities of a lower grade, Pan, 
with the music of his pipe, directs the chorus of the constellations, 
and Zeus leads the solemn procession of celestial troops in the as- 
tronomical theology of the Pythagoreans. The apotheosis of Or- 
pheus, with his harp, in their scientific heavens, is a starry record 
of oriental worship sublimated by the devout intellect of Greece. 
The nations of antiquity believed that their ancestors dwelt closely 
allied to the gods, or were gods themselves. Cadmus and Cecrops 
were half human, half divine. The Greeks inherited many cos- 
mogonical legends from the Hindoos, out of which was composed 
the theogony of Hesiod. Thebes rising to the sound of Amphion's 
lyre, was the world awakening at the music of the shell of Vishnou. 
Conflicting Centaurs and Lapithse, Titans and giants, are supposed 


to represent the elemental discord out of which arose the stability 
and harmony of nature. 

The great heroes of India became the chief gods of Greece ; so 
that their mythology was not a pure invention, but rested on a his- 
torical basis. The introduction of the Lamaic worship into north- 
eastern Hellas, is distinctly preserved in the earliest religious annals. 
The famous moralist Pythagoras was the special devotee and pro- 
fessor of eastern doctrines, and, under their inspiration, established 
a brotherhood strictly devotional, and with observances of monastic 
sanctity. Grote speaks of this great preacher to the Grecian race 
in the following terms : " In his prominent vocation, analogous to 
that of Epimenides, Orpheus, or Melampus, he appears as the re- 
vealer of a mode of life calculated to raise his disciples above the 
level of mankind, and to recommend them to the favor of the gods ; 
the Pythagorean life, like the Orphic life, being intended as the ex- 
clusive prerogative of the brotherhood, approached only by proba- 
tion and initiatory ceremonies, which were adapted to select enthu- 
siasts rather than to an indiscriminate crowd, and exacting active 
mental devotion to the master." Traditionary history commem- 
orates a wonderful reformation produced by this stern religionist in 
different lands. The effect produced among the Crotoniates by the 
illustrious missionary of morality is indicated by the recorded fact, 
that two thousand persons were converted under his first discourse. 
The Supreme Council were so penetrated with the noble powers of 
the Lamaic apostle that they offered him the exalted post of their 
President, and placed at the head of the religious female proces- 
sions his wife and daughter. 

The religion of the Greeks was the deification of the faculties 
and affections of man. Human character and personality prepon- 
derated therein, but it was neither inert nor wanting in intellect. 
The passionless, immovable deities of Egypt and Persia were super- 
seded by the active and powerful hierarchy of Olympus. Free and 
independent, they were presided over by the great conqueror of those 
blind and deaf gods of necessity, who had reigned absolutely over 
all the ancient East. Under this new dispensation, the various forces 
of nature were emancipated and endowed with the affections, and 
subjected to the weaknesses, of mortal beings. Fountains, rivers, 
trees, forests, mountains, rose into objects of adoration under the 


form of nymphs, goddesses, and gods. Social existence was elevated 
to a corresponding degree, by the removal of castes, and the sacer- 
dotal despotisms which had so long impeded the progress of demo- 
cratic principles in individual and social life. Preceding nations, 
of lively sensibility, had reverenced as deities single rays of the 
Divine Being separated from their great centre ; but the polytheism 
which prevailed over adolescent men, appeared in Hellas invested 
with a purer majesty. Oriental polytheism desecrated its altars and 
temples with images of deformity ; but the West conceived a nobler 
symbol of divinity, when the Greek created God in his own image, 
and seemed to inhale life-giving breath while he worshiped in the 
midst of every phenomenon that could refine his taste or stimulate 
his imagination. This was utterly inadequate to the attainment of 
the great end of spiritual existence; but one important step in 
paganism was gained ; natural religion, which had before been ab- 
sorbed in the immeasurableness of the formless infinite, became 
fixed to the eye under the limitations of a cognizable form, emi- 
nently human, but suggestive of the divine. Thus, religion pro- 
duced ideality in art, and art fostered enthusiasm in religion. The 
beauty and dignity of many altar-statues appeared to have de- 
scended from a higher sphere, and commanded the reverence due 
to beings of celestial birth. The earthly was so blended with the 
heavenly, and visibly presented, that Plato looked upon the har- 
mony as something complete, and most ennobling in its power of 
assimilation. In all the public enterprises and festal assemblies of 
the Greeks, a high religious tone was present which paid homage 
only to the exalted and the beautiful. They were of the earth, 
earthy ; but it is impossible not to look back with respect upon that 
people whose whole civilization was imbued with a spirit of renun- 
ciation, sublime self-sacrifice, and beneficent deeds. The magical 
splendor which yet pours about them, in the depths of that old 
world, after so many centuries, is nothing else than the reflection of 
their purer worship and nobler stamp of character. Of all the 
states, Athens, in this regard, as in every other, was by far the 
noblest. Sparta, it is true, appreciated highly the blessings of lib- 
erty, and was not only content by a joyless existence to purchase 
this, but delighted even to sacrifice life for its preservation. But 
the refined capital of Minerva went beyond the severe law which 



makes a useful slave, as one would harden a growth of oak ; she 
elicited perfume from the fairest bloom of the soul, wherein the 
moral man was made to unfold in the development of a higher free- 
dom. The genius of the Greek was as profoundly devotional as it 
was emulative. To his sensitive imagination, the fair objects of 
nature became invested with a living personality ; day and night 
presented engrossing deities, while he adored the golden-haired 
Phoebus, or the silvery Artemis. Actuated by a glowing fancy, 
material creation seemed spiritualized, and each agreeable retreat 
was the habitation of a god. Naiads in the fountains ; Dryads in 
the groves ; Fauns, Satyrs, and Oreads on the mountains, indisso- 
lubly associated sublunary scenes with intelligent beings, and 
kindled the starry heavens with the effulgence of supreme 

The dawn of civilization has ever been confined to those who 
were intrusted with the care of sacred ceremonies, and who devoted 
their exclusive knowledge to the support of their religion. In the 
beginning all contemplation was religious ; the whole universe was 
esteemed divine, and it was to the solving of this problem that the 
first efforts of mind were given. " Whence, and who am I ?" are 
the first questions which occur to Brama, as represented in Hindoo 
theology, when he awakens to conscious being amid the expanse 
of waters. But the early Greek sages surveyed nature with the 
more penetrating glance of a Lynceus, or Atlas, who saw down 
into the ocean depths. There was no distinct astronomy, history, 
philosophy, or theology ; there was but one mental exercise, whose 
results were called "Wisdom." It was this personification that 
Solomon saw standing alone with God before the creation. All 
mythologies may in one sense claim to rank as truths, inasmuch as 
they in fact represent what once existed as mental conceptions. On 
this principle the Grecian dogmas, though in reality absurdities, 
are most worthy of attention, because they are expressed in the 
purest forms. Their conceptions of superhuman beings were pro- 
ducts of the devotional sentiment. Nature was to them a perpetu- 
ally flowing fountain, whose pellucid waters mirrored earth and 
sky ; like the stream in which Narcissus was dazzled by the re- 
flection of his own image, and beneath whose surface he bent in 
sadness, and was melted into its transparent depths. 


Efforts to deify the beautiful existed among the Hindoos and 
Hebrews, as well as among the Greeks ; but in the former races, a 
wish to blend in one expression a great variety of theological ideas 
obliterated elegance, and rendered the idols of Egypt and India 
elaborate metaphysical enigmas, a sculptured library of symbols, 
instead of an attractive gallery of religious art. But in Greece, the 
development of sacred imagery fell into the hands of masters in 
whom the character of priest was subordinate to that of artist; 
from the servant art became the mistress, the teacher, even the in- 
stitutor of the religion in whose aid she had been employed, and 
the works so produced were received as fresh revelations from 

Poets gave a local habitation to the gods, and were the first 
teachers of religion. With the eye of taste, and impelled by senti- 
mental reverence, they people the hills and groves, glens and rivers, 
with imaginary beings. Much of the Homeric theology is of 
Egyptian parentage, but in his hands all borrowed material was 
greatly improved. Mere personification of natural powers became 
moral agents ; and, instead of being represented under disgusting 
images, they became models of human beauty, elegance, and maj- 
esty. The inspired bards, though blind without, were full of eyes 
within, and Acteon-like, gazed on nature's naked loveliness through 
the light of their illumined souls. To these poet-priests of nature, 
like Orpheus, or Eumolpus, was ascribed the first religious estab- 
lishment, as well as the first practical compositions. The com- 
mencement of literature was not a scheme contrived to win the 
savage to civilization : it was the wild and spontaneous outburst 
of religious enthusiasm. If powerful institutions are always as- 
cribed to distinguished men only, it is simply because that the full 
light of common thoughts is never condensed and vividly set forth 
but by that exalted order of genius which is the rarest of gifts. 
Minds of the finest tone express the most comprehensive doctrines, 
as the lyre of Orpheus, and the pipe of Silenus, sung how heaven 
and earth rose out of chaos. Atlas taught respecting men and 
beasts, tempestuous elements, and the eclipses and irregularities of 
the heavenly bodies. The laws of Menu, like those of Moses, begin 
with cosmogony; and Niebuhr has shown that the history of the 
Etruscans, like that of the Brahmins and Chaldeans, is contained 


in an astronomico-theological outline embracing the whole course 
of time. 

Evidently the first colonizers of Greece brought with them much 
of the simple faith and worship recorded in the Hebrew writings. 
A stone, or the trunk of a tree, was set up for a memorial, and, ac- 
cording to the alarm that had been felt, or the deliverance experi- 
enced, on some spot thereby sanctified, worship was offered to that 
great Being whose rule all acknowledged, but whose name none 
ventured to pronounce. Doubtless the excess of awe, if no more 
mundane influence, generated superstition ; as the vow of Jephtha 
had its parallel in the almost cotemporaneous sacrifice of Iphigenia, 
and of Polyxena. It was this barbarous race that the polished and 
erudite traveler, Orpheus, endeavored to civilize. Perhaps, as in 
later times, he imagined that hidden doctrines would best improve 
the higher classes ; while the minds of the vulgar would be easier 
won by fables, and weaned from gloomy superstitions by the wor- 
ship of divine benevolence, manifested in the varied products and 
powers of nature. The attempt, however, failed, and the grossness 
of depraved perceptions converted those different manifestations 
into separate deities, so that different localities and cities came to 
have their tutelary stone, or wooden idol, or marble statue. The 
temple was built on the spot hallowed by devotion, as at Bethel ; 
but in a subsequent age the impulse of the original consecration 
was no longer felt, and its intent was forgotten. The gorgeous 
fane, and the fascinating image therein, became objects of degene- 
rate worship ; the source of profit to a mercenary priesthood, and 
of deterioration to the most intellectual and moral of mankind. 

Monuments were early erected in grateful commemoration of 
religious events, as the hill of stones by Jacob and Laban ; or to 
gratify secular ambition, as was exemplified in the tower of Babel. 
In Greece, when the pioneers were feeble, the first settlers chose 
some hill readily defensible, and having fortified the summit as the 
first space to be occupied, they proceeded to build a taphos, or 
temple for the divinity. Such was the origin of Athens. The in- 
closed city was called Cecropia, from Cecrops, it is said, who first 
founded the state, and his was the first place of worship for the 
original inhabitants. Others interpret Acropolis to mean " Height 
of the City," which, in this instance, was accessible only on the 


western side, through the Propylsea, and was crowned by that 
shrine of Truth and Wisdom, the Parthenon. Religious instincts 
have ever sought the vast solitudes of untainted nature, or the open 
heights of the mighty temple of the great God, whereon the pure 
spirit of love reigns and smiles over all. Pilgrimages were made 
to the oaks of Mamre, near Hebron, from the days of Abraham ; 
and the nations surrounding the divinely favored tribes conspired 
to attach the idea of veneration to rivers and fountains, and were 
accustomed not only to dedicate trees and groves to their deities, 
but even to sacrifice on high mountains; customs which were 
practiced by the Jews themselves, previous to the building of Sol- 
omon's temple. The beginning of wisdom was in the wilds or 
Asia, and it was there that the God of nature implanted grand 
ideas in the minds of shepherds, meditating on those antique emi- 
nences, teaching them to wonder and adore. As the loftiest 
mountains are surmounted with the most unsullied snow, so the 
purest sentiments crowned their elevated souls, and forever rendered 
them the chief source of fertilizing streams to all lands, through 
every region of thought. 

In Greece, there was no hereditary priesthood, as in Egypt. The 
right of presiding at public sacrifices pertained to the highest civil 
office, and probably the head of each family was also its ecclesiastic ; 
but there was no priestly -combination with secular power, and no 
national creed. Nestor, at home, conducts religious service, aided 
by his sons, and Achilles offers sacrifice to the manes of Patroclus. 
Pausanias informs us that early in Arcadia, the twelve gods were 
worshiped under the forms of rude stones ; and before Da3dalus, 
the statues had eyes nearly shut, legs close together, and the arms 
scarcely detached from the body ; but as the correlative arts and 
sciences improved, sculpture, like the civilization it expressed, 
acquired freedom, proportion, and natural action. Altars were 
commonly erected in the open air, and propitiatory offerings most 
frequently smoked before Zeus, Poseidon, Athene, and Apollo. 
The first three of these are better known under their Latin desig- 
nations of Jupiter, Neptune, and Minerva. The supremacy of the 
first over all inferior deities is decisively marked. His own declar- 
ation, according to Homer, is at the same time the most affirmative 
on this point, and a curious indication of the social condition of the 


gods. Says the supreme, " If I catch any one of you helping the 
Tfojans or the Greeks, he shall either make his escape to Olympus 
disgraced and bruised, or else I will seize him, and throw him into 
Tartarus. Then you shall know my supremacy in power. Come, 
now, make the trial ; hang a gold chain from heaven, and fasten 
yourselves at the end of it, all of you, gods and goddesses ; you 
can not pull Zeus down, but, whenever I please, I can pull you up 
with the earth and the sea, wind the chain round Olympus, and 
there you would all dangle in the air." 

According to Herodotus, the Egyptians invented twelve gods, 
which were imported into Greece. These were, doubtless, of the 
lowest order of merit, but of sufficient importance to justify the 
report that the worship of stone images originated in the East. 
Venus was first adored at Paphos under the form of an aerolite 
fallen from heaven. It was by such circumstances that a special 
sanctity was conferred upon particular localities. The artistic merit 
of the idols was vastly improved, but still the theology of the Greeks 
remained purely anthropomorphous, the human form being to them 
the paragon of excellence. But to his whole intellectual being 
this was a .representative, the embodiment and very identity of 
divinity. All the susceptibilities of his immortal nature, full of the 
endless enthusiasms respecting every thing splendid, so that in the 
estimation of an apostle, he was " very religious," were exercised to 
refine this image and exalt it. Living, he did this, and dying, he 
looked beyond the grave but to a world of men, sublimated, indeed, 
but still with human passions, and capable of human enjoyments. 
He turned with fond desire toward the radiance of the descending 
sun, which with genial glories seemed wooing him to another and 
purer earth. The great ocean stream severed the world of debasing 
toil from the bright sphere of not less active but nobler pursuits, 
and on that western shore he anticipated fairer as well as more 
abundant fruits than the East might behold. The great national 
altar on the Acropolis was exterior to the temple, and fronted the 
setting sun. 

Egyptian worship was so closely allied to that of India, that when 
the sepoys in Sir Ralph Abercrombie's expedition entered the 
ancient temples in the valley of the Nile, they immediately asserted 
that their own divinities were discovered upon the walls, and wor- 


shiped them accordingly. But no such identity ever existed with 
the purer forms of the West. All the gods of Hellenic Greeks, 
from Jupiter down to Hercules, were the ancestors of the primitive 
Pelasgic tribes which existed in Asia Minor, Crete, and the islands 
of the Archipelago, but seldom in Greece itself. At its intellectual 
and moral centre, Egyptian fetichism had some influence on the one 
hand, and Indo-Germanie metaphysics a good deal on the other ; 
still the chief element in Greek mythology was hero-worship, made 
as unexceptionable as it could be by a people whose religion mainly 
consisted in ancestral adoration. True, their whole system was a 
fable and an absurdity ; but the puerilities which defaced its beauty 
were the remnant of a more barbarous state of things upon which 
they improved, and we may wonder most that they so far emanci- 
pated themselves. 

Orpheus is said to have come from Thrace, a region of indefinite 
extent in the estimation of the Greek, and one which was a chief 
source of the Hellenic sacred rites. Both the Orphic and Pytha- 
gorean doctrines Herodotus believed to have emanated from Egypt, 
which would appear to support the fact of a double current of 
emigration, clearly proved on other grounds. This great religionist 
was older than Homer, and seems to -have exerted a great influence 
on the civilization of Greece. It is said he accompanied Jason and 
the other Argonauts on their piratical expedition, that he visited 
Egypt, and brought thence the doctrine which greatly corrupted 
the rude but simple theology of primitive times. Many hymns 
attributed to him are probably spurious ; but enough was authentic 
to the ancients to justify the conclusion that he taught the doctrine 
of one self-existing God, the maker of all things, and who is present 
to us in all His works. But this great truth was always somewhat 
disguised, and grew increasingly fabulous. Cudworth preserves the 
following specimen : " The origin of the earth was ocean ; when 
the water subsided, mud remained, and from both of these sprang 
a living creature a dragon having the head of a lion growing 
from it, and in the midst, the face of God ; by name Hercules, or 
Chronos." By him an immense egg was produced, which being 
split into two parts, one became the heavens the other the earth. 
Heaven and earth mingled, and produced Titans or giants. 

The Delphic oracle occupied a, high position in the political and 


religious government of mankind. It had a powerful influence m 
molding the first national confederacy, and was its presiding 
centre. Both Strabo and Pausanias specially refer to the Amphic- 
tyonic league, as being formed for the maintenance of harmony 
and union among the states which composed it. The original 
confederacy was greatly enlarged by the Dorian accession ; oracular 
control was thus extended throughout the Peloponnesus, and soon 
embraced within its influence the entire Grecian world. By this 
central assimilative and directing power the mighty republic was 
happily consummated, and its citizens first termed Hellenes. It 
was by the peculiarity of its oracular system, even more than by the 
other traits we have noticed, that the Greek religion was distin- 
guished from that which prevailed in Egypt, and the yet remoter 
East. Based as it was on delusion, it still was a great improvement 
upon the preceding, inasmuch as it was presented in a higher 
character than the mere constitution of nature. According to the 
Delphic teaching, the supreme Deity was a moral and personal 
being, actively interesting himself in human affairs, and claiming 
authority over human volitions. Hence, while the oriental systems 
displayed only a crowd of mere personifications of natural powers, 
without moral character or substantial being, the system of the 
Greeks presented a divine reality for the human mind to embrace ; 
an actual course of Providence, and deities palpably real to religious 
feelings. Amidst a multitude of deformities, the most marked 
feature of the Greek religion stood forth in enhancing, if not with 
ennobling beauty. The Egyptians worshiped animals, but the 
Greeks never sank lower than the worship of idealized man. The 
former were superstitious upon physical objects, their system resting 
upon a physical deity ; but the latter adored a moral deity, and, 
however disastrous superstition ever is, hero-worship was not 
entirely void of redeeming qualities. It held up ancient worthies 
for the imitation of successors, rendered their memories motives to 
excellence, and, by the sublimating power of oracular canonization, 
exerted a mighty influence in the spheres of political and moral 
life. Lessons of respect for antiquity, and submission to authority, 
were constantly inculcated, the effect of which shines clearly in the 
Grecian character, exemplified in all the tumultuous growth and 
varied grandeur of her democracy. It was a lofty hero-worship, 


fostered by their sacred system, which fortified the sentiments of 
reverence and subordination in the popular mind, and supplied 
at once motive and restraint in every sphere of secular and religious 
life. Their approximation to truth took the boldest form of super- 
stition, and indicates the working of a higher order of mind than 
had yet appeared. The Greeks were a nation of poets and philoso- 
phers as acutely refined in understanding as they were tender of 
heart, and, since we still turn their writings to a moral account, 
our sympathy for the worth they attained should furnish some 
degree of apology for the errors which they unfortunately embraced. 
The reality and firmness of their belief in divination was tested, for 
example, at Platsea, when the Greeks sustained the charge of the 
Persian cavalry, and "because the victims were not favorable, 
there fell of them at that time very many, and far more were 
wounded." And whether the national fleet should risk a battle 
at Salamis was determined in council by the appearance of an 
owl. How strange that when courage and wisdom had failed 
to persuade, superstition saved the liberties of the world ! 
It is painful to contemplate the human mind debased by such 
childish absurdities, commingled with traits so fair, and excellences 
so great. Still, despite all its fraud and folly, the religion of Greece 
contained much that was both admirable in morality and profound 
in speculation. Hooker remarks, " The right conceit that they had, 
that to perjury vengeance is due, was not without good effect, as 
touching the course of their lives." 

The tragic genius of ^Eschylus was imbued with religious senti- 
ment, and found its fittest material in the simple and sublime tradi- 
tions of his forefathers. He has handed down to our days clear 
memorials of the still popular faith, in his noble drama of Prome- 
theus Bound ; wherein he represents Jupiter as sending to beg from 
the tortured prophet a revelation of the yet future decrees of des- 
tiny. This mythical benefactor, the most significant of ancient 
religious fables, was a Japhetite, who brought his celestial fire from 
the remote East to man. Prometheus indignantly refuses to gratify 
the curiosity of his oppressor, and utters severe invectives against 
the new power of Jove. He alludes to wars in which he had him- 
self assisted him, leads us back to the first colonization of Greece, 
and leaves us justly to conclude that the nature-worship of Orpheus 



had been mixed up with hero-worship also, and that the Jupiter of 
the poets was little better than a Cretan pirate, who, with his asso- 
ciates, drove out the Asian chief already beginning to civilize the 
people, and banished him to the wild regions of the Caucasus. The 
several centuries which transpired between Prometheus and Hesiod 
was a period long enough in legendary times to invest heroes, or 
benefactors of the human race, with supernatural attributes. ^Eschy- 
lus set forth a yet sublimer article of Athenian belief, when he rep- 
resented the two Powers, immovable destiny and human conscious- 
ness, weighing the motives of the son of Agamemnon, and, under 
the presiding auspices of the goddess of Wisdom, leaving the ulti- 
mate decision to the Areopagus. God-conscious reason was thus 
called upon to sit in judgment upon the past, and to proclaim the 
eternal ways of infinite justice to coming generations. Herodotus, 
also, in the clear light of Hellenic freedom, recapitulated lapsed 
centuries, and foretold future destinies, through the prophetic mir- 
ror of Nemesis, that clearest reflection of Greek religiousness ; and, 
like his predecessor, pictured the divine drama of eternal law and 
retribution. Thucydides followed, and became the final prophet of 
the great struggle of his nation, and her influence in the develop- 
ments of future time. 

Sophocles, of all the dramatists, was the most religious ; his 
whole life was said to be one continual worship, and his writings 
are redolent of his tender spirit. The (Edipus Colonaeus was a 
marked consecration after death ; the gods conferred that honor, to 
show that in the terrible example they made of him, it was not 
personal vengeance, but a salutary admonition designed for the 
whole human race. That the self-condemned criminal should at 
last find peace in the grove of the Furies, the very spot from which 
guilt would instinctively shrink with acutest horror, bears a moral 
of profound and tranquilizing significancy. 

The moral charms of domestic affection in antiquity are depicted 
by Homer, in what is undoubtedly an embellished, but may have 
been a real, scene. The manly beauty of Hector, the feminine 
graces of Andromache, and the budding charms of the babe 
Astyanax, live before us in vivid representation. Such a blending 
of gentleness and strength is not often seen on earth, as was mani- 
fested by him who set aside his burnished armor lest its strange 



dazzling should frighten his child. Paternal affection indeed sits 
gracefully on the plumed helmet of this bravest hero of Troy, but 
not even that can dissuade him from the conscientious discharge of 
a most comprehensive duty. Neither the entreaties of a wife, the 
prayers of a father, the tears of a mother, nor his own fondest pa- 
rental hopes, could divert him from his devotion to country and 
religion. He knows and feels that inexorable fate has declared 
against him, but he bows to the will of the gods with a heroism 
equaled only by the placid self-denial which silences both inclina- 
tion and interest in his bosom. 

The ancient games were moral in their purpose and influence. 
Of the great number of athletes who gained prizes thereat, very 
few became famous in warlike pursuits. Their enthusiasm flowed 
from a higher and purer source. The vigorous, disinterested, salu- 
tary, and heaven-appointed contest was to the Greeks a thrilling 
symbol of an exalted life, the struggle through an emulative career 
of exhausting duties, in order to attain and enjoy, at the goal of 
consummate glory, the reward of a blissful immortality. 

All the stray sybilline leaves of ancient history and legendary 
faith are inscribed with indications of a moral order of the universe, 
and encourage the expectation of perpetual progress. Pindar be- 
lieved that the beginning and end of man were divinely ordained ; 
and while many erudite teachers held to the supremacy of fate, none 
were ever so foolish as to suppose that accident governed the world. 

Socrates was the first to turn speculation from physical nature to 
man; and his celebrated "demon" announced the birth of con- 
science into the Grecian world. It was a divine teacher ever pres- 
ent, taking cognizance of the most secret movements of mind and 
will, and who reproved, restrained, warned him as to all things 
everywhere. So far from wondering at his martyrdom, in view of 
the purity and boldness of his teaching, Mr. Grote very reasonably 
wonders how such a man should have been allowed to go on teach- 
ing so long. JSTo state, he adds, ever showed so much tolerance for 
differences of opinion as Athens. According to his various writings, 
we infer that the god of Plato was not an idea simply, but a real 
being, endowed with supreme intelligence, movement, and life. He 
was beauty without mixture, and went out of himself to produce 
man and the world by the effusion of his own goodness. This 


great pupil of Socratic wisdom was profoundly imbued with that 
religious sentiment which is the lofty distinction of humanity, and 
which neither superstition can utterly debase, nor worldliness ex- 
tinguish. But a feeling alone, however refined, can never consti- 
tute safety in religion. The Eepublic terminates with a noble dis- 
cussion on immortality, and if it has been less popular than the 
Phoedo, it is because the scenery of it is less startling ; but for in- 
trinsic worth, it is doubtless entitled to the greatest consid- 

Gross polytheism was the creed of the multitude, but this was 
much refined by the moralists. The graces and perfections of the 
great intelligences that rule the world, under the controlling wis- 
dom and care of the one omnipotent, were so described in the dia- 
logues of Plato, and by Pythagoreans, as to furnish not only models 
of perfect beauty to art, but also the most attractive traits of person 
and character to the various orders of the Grecian hierarchy. 

The Greeks felt that the origin of art was divine, since it was the 
offspring of religion. The first rhythmical expression was a hymn, 
and the first creations of plastic genius were dedicated to the wor- 
ship of the Godhead. Jupiter, whose awful nod shook the poles, 
was yet benignant in his majesty, and could smile with bewitching 
fascination on his daughter Venus. Beauty was universally ex- 
pressed, whether in the gorgeous sanctuary of their religious wor- 
ship, or the simplest implement of ordinary use ; the heart-rending 
anguish of the priest Laocoon and his sons, or in the sculptured 
deity of day himself. In the opinion of Visconti, the Apollo Bel- 
videre is the Deliverer from Evil as well as God of Light, and was 
made by Calamis, to be set up at Athens in memory of a plague 
which had desolated that city. In life, the consecrated champion 
was greeted with the praises of appreciative countrymen, and divine 
honors followed his decease. 

The idea of divine omniscience seems to have profoundly actu- 
ated the Greeks in the execution of all their great religious works. 
It gave perfection to every part of their edifices, essential and orna- 
mental, and impressed upon each part alike a feeling purely devo- 
tional. What escaped the human eye, the Deity beheld, and there- 
fore every mass and molding, frieze and pediment, bas-relief and 
statue, should bo rendered equally worthy of that immortal Being 


to whom the edifice was consecrated. As fine a finish was bestowed 
upon the hidden portions as upon the exposed, as is proved by the 
fragmentary master-pieces we still possess, the most elaborated 
features of which were never seen from below when in their original 
positions. The material which Athens employed to eternize her 
mental conceptions was happily adapted in texture and tone to the 
end desired. On one side lay the quarries of sparkling Pentilic 
and veined Carystian, and, on the other side, the pearl-like beauty 
of Megarean ; all of which, impregnated by the creative genius of 
the poets, and obedient to the talismanic touch of the sculptors, 
came forth from the marble tomb of Attica a new-born progeny 
stamped with all the lineaments of their noble parent. Thus, as 
the thought of Homer coalesced with the executive might of 
Phidias and his associates, the awful gods of his country spread an 
invincible palladium over the patriotic citizen, and rendered their 
terror ever present to the eyes of treachery and guilt. If the 
Sphinx, the Centaur, and Satyr were sometimes demanded by the 
legendary element of the ancestral East yet lingering in the national 
faith, the effort to subjugate the grotesque to the laws of beauty 
was no less successful than it was difficult, and twenty centuries 
have admired the result. The corporate religious crafts of India 
and Egypt were abandoned, but the divinest element therein was 
still preserved, and made to cast a hallowed spell over country and 
home, making each father the high priest of his domestic temple, 
and planting household gods round every hearth. An all-pervading 
religious influence was stamped on every rank of character, every 
region of nature, every type of art, and every department of enter- 
prise. It exalted the dauntless courage of Miltiades, and added 
energy to the lofty daring of Themistocles, as they were conscious 
that the gods from Olympus gazed upon them in the fight, and 
were their guardians, as of old they had been to their ancestors on 
the plains of Troy. 

With a very few exceptional cases, the art of the Greeks is never 
voluptuous, even in its earthly matter and shape. Under the pious 
feelings of the maker, as he breathed into it the soul of a lofty 
enthusiasm, dead material shaped itself into a nature as elevated as 
the source from which its strength was derived. And this moral 
dignity and grace which were born from the artist in his process of 


creation, communicated themselves in turn to the beholder; and 
the consecrated feeling in which the godlike conception was devel- 
oped, generated an atmosphere of sanctity around it, as manifested 
divinity is supposed to drive demons away. It was fitting that in 
the groves of Delphi, Lycurgus should conceive the idea of his 
laws, and from the mouth of Apollo receive their ratification. All 
the great and wise legislators of antiquity cultivated an intercourse 
with the gods, and continued to covet the privilege of their society. 
The excellence of great works of religious art consists in the prin- 
ciple, that the purity and nobleness with which they were imbued 
pass into their admirers ; and thus the serene repose and celestial 
fervor in which they are conceived are perpetually reproduced so 
long as the original qualities endure. The earliest poetry was re- 
ligious, and its spirit migrated through succeeding generations; 
and, even down to the most degenerate age, perpetuated a delicate 
moral sense in the judgment, and mostly, also, in the works of the 
Greek nation. The refined taste, for which they have always been 
extolled, was produced entirely by this. Even the wit-intoxicated 
muse of Aristophanes perpetually maintains a chaste demeanor, 
and shows on her earnest countenance the moral meaning of her 

Although the system of Athenian life was deformed by many 
imperfections, yet never at an earlier period had so much energy, 
virtue, and beauty, been developed ; never was blind force and ob- 
durate will so disciplined and ennobled, as during the century 
which preceded the death of Socrates. If the early Pythian and 
Dodonean oracles tended to consolidate national union, the im- 
proved wisdom of later philosophers did much to cultivate the citi- 
zens. Many a Grecian, engarlanded with laurel, then adorned the 
various walks of secular and moral life. It is probable that some were 
self-deceived, when no unworthy fraud was intended. Vividly 
conscious of a calling to some great vocation, and seeking, in the 
depths of their own imperfect religiousness, for the means of ful- 
filling it, they felt what seemed to be veritable inspiration, and 
accepted as the voices of supernatural beings what was in fact only 
the promptings of their own minds. To this influence, in great 
part, must be accredited much of the sublimity of Homer, patriot- 
ism of Tyrtseus, enthusiasm of Pindar, terror of ^Eschylus, and 


tenderness of Sophocles. The presence of divinity was indeed so 
palpable and enduring, that many nations, invulnerable to Grecian 
arms, received her beautiful system of mythology, and crowded 
her temples with eagerness to listen to her sacred instruction. 
Lightning strikes only kindred matter, which it seeks and salutes 
in the vividness of its own flash ; and thus do great and effulgent 
examples glow into genial hearts, strengthen their illuminating 
power as they extend, and burn with greater splendor the wider 
they are diffused. 

The more reflecting among the ancients seem to have keenly 
felt that earth and time are not ample enough to admit the full 
unfolding of the human soul. In man, the microcosm, they recog- 
nized the universe and its Maker, but it was by a very imperfect 
vision. They needed a clearer light, even that of the true God, to 
fill the profundity within them, and to reveal eternity unto them, 
that they might in reality know the vastness of their spiritual 
being. The vital seeds which the Almighty cast with a bountiful 
hand into the new-made earth, and which have not yet produced 
all their fruits, in Attica sprang up with a wonderful profusion, but 
the harvest was that of beauty, and not holiness. The dew of 
Hermon, the eternal sunshine of Zion, the transforming and tem- 
pering breath of Jehovah, are ever requisite to develop the higher 
capabilities of the soul, and elicit sanctified fruit from those mighty 
powers which, for bliss or bane, germinate in every mortal breast, 
and can never die. The poetical idolatry of Greece is often invested 
with a magical beauty to classical enthusiasts ; but the thoughtful 
reader of history will often stumble upon most disenchanting facts, 
such as, for instance, that Themistocles, the deliverer of his coun- 
try, offered up three youths, to propitiate the favor of his gods. A 
supreme Being was nominally recognized ; and, though this doc- 
trine was practically destroyed by the admission of subordinate 
deities to share in the offices of praise and prayer, still it was better 
than absolute atheism. The pillar of cloud by day, and of fire by 
night, clearly or dimly seen, has never ceased to lead the vanguard 
of advancing humanity. It was something that the voice of praise, 
humiliation, and prayer, was raised to some object in public wor- 
ship, and thus the feelings of religion kept alive in aspiring souls. 
It is to be deplored that the most cultivated of ancient nations did 


not possess and appreciate purer religious light ; and most of all is 
it a grief and a warning that, if in the time of Homer, social mo- 
rality was bad, in the age of Pericles it was worse. When Athenian 
life had received the most exquisite polish, and human intellect the 
richest discipline, then it was that public fanes were most aban- 
doned, and private virtue was most debased. 

Nature is most perfect in her forms the higher she ascends ; and 
man, standing at the apex of her wonders, is appointed to partake 
of the divine nature, through the homogeneous medium who bends 
from a celestial height for his relief; when so reached and reno- 
vated, the godlike part of the redeemed is molded to a whole of 
the purest, holiest, and, therefore, most enchanting harmony. The 
Greeks had their idealization of beneficence and atonement set 
forth in Hercules and Prometheus. The genealogy of the first was 
connected with Egypt and Persia. He was lineally descended from 
Perseus, whose mortal mother claimed connection with an Egyptian 
emigrant. He was the great epic subject of the poets before Ho- 
mer, the model chief of those who fought at Thebes or Troy, and, 
at a later period, was the allegory of human effort ascending 
through rugged valor to the highest virtue. He was the ideal 
perfection of the ordinary life of the Greeks, as the higher exaggera- 
tion of heroes, invested with immortality, became gods. Eveiy 
pagan nation has had such a mythical being, whose strength or 
weakness, victories or defeats, measurably describe the career of 
the sun through the seasons. A Scythian, an Etruscan, and a Ly- 
dian Hercules existed, whose legends all became tributary to those 
of the Greek hero. His name is supposed to mean rover and per- 
ambulator of earth, as well as hyperion of the sky, and he was the 
patronizing model of those famous navigators who spread his altars 
from coast to coast through the Mediterranean, to the extreme West, 
where Arkaleus built the city of Gades (Cadiz), on which perpet- 
ual fire burned at his shrine. So deep and pervading were religious 
sentiments in that wonderful people at the best epoch, that not 
only in lowland towns, and on metropolitan eminences, were tem- 
ples erected to the national deities, but also on lofty promontories; 
near the sea, beneficent zeal provided fanes exclusively for the 
casual worship of the passing mariner. The notion of a suffering 
deity, of one who, tortured, blinded, or imprisoned, might represent 


the earthly speculations of his worshipers, and, as a penitent, their 
religious emotions, was widely spread, from India westward, and 
by the Greeks was fixed forever in Prometheus, the ever dying and 
yet deathless Titan. Ancient sages taught that the discord of 
stormy elements would be dissolved and reduced to peace by the 
power of love, and the magic of beauty in the renovated soul would 
eventually curb its passions with a gentle rein ; but how the infi- 
nite should coalesce with the finite, God with man, and thus trans- 
form the soul by planting therein the germ of almighty blessedness, 
they never by uninspired wisdom could comprehend. A mediator 
of unearthly excellence was indeed requisite ; one who would realize 
in his person the loftiest ideas of beauty and sublimity, whose -wis- 
dom would be competent to elevate beyond mere morality, and 
whose grace would forever unfold the revelation of heavenly life. 
Not only, like the son of Tydeus, ought that luminary to come 
forth, with glory blazing round it, and kindling admiration, as well 
as emulous delight, in the outward world, but his beauty must 
specially pervade within, and transfigure every secret impulse with 
the splendors of his imparted Godhead. 

Such a divine need was generally felt, and this was the cause of 
that high estimation in the common mind which the devout 
moralists enjoyed. Homer inculcated the idea that life is a con- 
test ; and Plato directed his hearers to the search after unity as the 
source of truth and beauty ; ^Eschylus to power ; Euripides to the 
law of expiation. The contempt of life and pleasure, the superiority 
of the intellectual over the physical nature, are expressed by these 
and kindred writers in great thoughts which are almost identical 
with the light of faith. Heraclitus taught Hesiod, Pythagoras, 
Zenophanes, and Hecateus, that the sole wisdom consists in know- 
ing the will according to which all things in the world are gov- 
erned. Marsilius Ficinus says that Socrates was raised up by 
heaven to pacify minds ; and St. John Chrysostom proposes him as 
an example of Christian poverty and monastic profession. St. 
Augustine entertained e<jual admiration for one who preferred 
eternal to temporal things, fearing to act unjustly more than death, 
and for conscience sake was ready to undergo labor, penury, insult, 
and death. In the Enthypro of Platonician wisdom, Socrates dis- 
engages ideas from words ; "in the Apology, he shows that the 


wisest are the most humble, and that we must bear our witness to 
truth, even at the risk of our lives ; in the Laws, that the soul has 
need of a celestial light to be able to see ; in the Crito, that the 
least duty is to be preferred to the greatest advantage ; in the 
Phaedo, that life should be employed in elevating the soul that 
there is a future existence and that the soul should be disengaged 
from the body ; in the Theaetetus, that the germ of truth resides in 
all men, but that no individual has the full measure of truth ; in 
the Gorgias, that it is better to suffer than to commit injustice ; that 
it is useful to the soul to be chastised, and that he who suffers 
punishment is delivered from the evil of his soul ; in the Euthy- 
demus, that the science of the Sophists is empty and vain ; in the 
second Alcibiades, that it is better to be ignorant than to have false 
knowledge ; in the Theages, that the only true wisdom is love ; in 
the Phaedrus, that it is love, or, as Socrates defines it, the desire of 
something that is wanting, which gives wings to the soul, and 
enables it to mount to heaven ; in the Meno, that virtue is the gift 
of God, not of nature, but an infusion by a divine influence ; in the 
Banquet, that love leads us to contemplate the supreme beauty, the 
universal type, the Creator, from which vision we derive virtue and 
immortality. In view of such focal beamings at the heart of pagan 
night, we need not wonder that Thomas of Villanova should ex- 
claim with enthusiasm, " Let philosophers know, that faith is not 
without wisdom; the evangelist does not Platonize, but Plato 

The mythical beings of Grecian theology display in their beautiful 
but ineffectual imagery the first efforts of cultivated minds to com- 
municate with nature and her God. They resemble the flowers 
which fancy strewed before the youthful steps of Psyche when she 
first set out in pursuit of the immortal object of her love. The 
parable of the Syrens teems with valuable moral instruction. They 
dwelt in fair and lovely islands, full of beauty, and through whose 
leafy alcoves moved a perpetual loveliness. On the tops of tall 
rocks sat the enchantresses, pouring their tender and ravishing 
music on the ears of passing mortals, till they turned their prows 
thitherward, and rushed into the destruction to which the deceitful 
song was a fatal prelude. Two by their wisdom and piety escaped. 
Ulysses caused his arms to be bound to the mast, and the ears of 


his company to be filled with wax, with special orders to his mari- 
ners that they should not loose him even though he desired it. But 
Orpheus, disdaining to be so bound, with sweet melody went by, 
singing praises to the gods, thus outsounding the melody of the 
Syrens, and so escaped. 

The most influential teachers among the Greeks declared the 
inutility of profuse legislation, and taught that " the halls should 
not be filled with legal tablets, but the soul with the image of 
righteousness." They sought less to guard the citizen by force and 
fear than to fortify him with a sense of his duty and its dignity. 
Parental authority was sustained by legislative sanction, as well as 
by popular customs, and even up to the first steps of public life was 
constantly guarded by the elders ; but the principal intent was ever 
to kindle filial esteem into the potency of living law, to illuminate 
progressive youth in the path of virtue and of fame. Sound 
morals were recognized as the only sure foundation of republican 
freedom, and the general watchfulness over this constituted the 
spirit of ancient religion, and the origin of free states. To such an 
extent did parental influence and pious example, rather than arbi- 
trary statutes and severe punishments, prevail at Athens, that the 
youth generally were moral and temperate ; despite their national 
inflammability, the most authentic records affirm, that both in 
domestic and public life they remained sober and moral, until 
broken down by the interference of hostile power. Following the 
defeat of Cheronea, the change in the Greek character was rapid. 
The guiding stars of literature and art were lost in clouds ; and 
morals, which had attained a splendid maturity, lost both strength 
and hue. 

Sacred ceremonies at Athens were the most luminous that 
prevailed in Greece, and were most characteristic of the city of 
intelligence. In the great Panathenean rites, there was carried in 
solemn procession to the Acropolis a symbolical vessel covered with 
a vail upon which were figured the triumph of Pallas over the 
Titans, children of earth who undertook to scale Olympus and de- 
throne Jove. The conflict between physical and moral force was 
therein represented, that triumph above mere natural religion which 
exists in mental supremacy and the civilization of law. Moreover, 
Athenian coins preserve to us allusions to impressive rites which 


were performed three times a year in honor of Vulcan and Prome- 
theus. The votaries assembled at night, and at the altar of the 
deity, upon which a fire continually burned, at a given signal lighted 
a torch and ran with the blazing symbol to the city's outer bound. 
If the lights of some became extinguished, the more fortunate still 
pursued with greater zeal, and he was most honored who first 
reached the goal with his torch a-light. But the religion of Greece 
was not characterized by ritual splendor only; on the contrary, 
their public worship was marked by the simplicity of devout fervor, 
as well as by the chasteness of fine taste and that unadorned 
solemnity which had been inherited from the patriarchal ages. 
They were much less inclined to pomp and finery connected with 
their devotion, than are the moderns. Rude emblems were some- 
times borne at sacred solemnities, but they were in the hands of 
honorable women, and all offense to religious feeling was arrested 
in their being first hallowed by the dignity of the festival. 

It was a doctrine of immemorial antiquity, that death is far better 
than life ; that the worst mortality belongs to those who are 
immersed in the Lethe passions and fascinations of earth, and that 
the true life begins only when the soul is emancipated for its return. 
All initiation was but introductory to the great change at death. 
Many regarded water as the source and purifier of all things effi- 
cacious to renew both body and mind, as the virginity of Juno was 
restored when she bathed in the fountain Parthenion. Baptism, 
anointing, embalming, burying, or burning, were preparatory sym- 
bols, like the initiation of Hercules before descending to the shades, 
pointing out the moral charige which should precede the renewal 
of existence. The funeral ceremonies of the Greeks were in har- 
mony with that feeling which through all antiquity paid marked 
respect to the dead, whose eyes were closed by relatives most 
nearly allied. The funeral robe was often woven by the prospective 
piety of filial hands, as the web of Penelope was destined to shroud 
her husband's father. The body, washed, anointed, and swathed, 
was placed with its feet toward the door, and as the train of 
mourners went forth, women and bards raised a funeral chant, 
interrupted by nearest kindred, who eulogized the departed, and 
bewailed their own loss. Reaching the pyre of wood, the corpse 
was burned and the ashes collected in a golden vase. While the 


body lay in state, the chief mourners supported the head. Dark 
garments, and long abstinence from convivial gatherings, were the 
outward signs of sorrow. The excessive grief of Achilles showed 
itself by his throwing dust on his head ; torn habiliments and 
lacerated cheeks were the offerings made to Agamemnon ; and a 
single lock of hair was the touching tribute to his memory by the 
filial affection of Orestes. The lifeless form was covered and 
crowned with flowers, a piece of money placed in its mouth, as a 
fee to Charon for being ferried over the Styx, and a cake of honeyed 
flour to appease Cerberus. Bust, statue, and mausoleum, grassy 
mound, inscribed marble, and monumental brass, attested the 
universal desire of sepulchral honors. The immortality of affec- 
tionate remembrances and of public renown was a profound aspi- 
ration in their breasts. If the dead were ever insulted, it was the 
rare instance of momentary rage toward a stubborn foe, and soon 
gave place to worthier emotions. Achilles dragged behind his 
chariot the corpse of Hector thrice round the tomb of his beloved 
Patroclus ; but, after the first burst of passion, he ordered his own 
slaves to wash and anoint the mutilated remains, himself assisting 
to raise them to a litter, swathed in costly garments, that the eye 
of a broken-hearted father might bear the sight. 

The statesmen of Greece, superior as they were in universality 
of accomplishment, were incomplete personages compared with the 
pure theocratic natures of antiquity, of whom Moses is the most 
familiar and accurate type. Many of them were not only priest 
and magistrate, but also philosopher, artist, engineer, and physician ; 
such a combination for intensity, regularity, and permanence of 
human power, never was found elsewhere. Pericles, through the 
whole tenor of his administration, seemed to have had the perma- 
nent welfare of his fellow-countrymen at heart, and is said to have 
boasted, with the benevolence of a true patriot, that he never caused 
a citizen to put on mourning. 

The Greek was by no means insensible to high destinies, as he 
majestically assumed the moral dominion on earth to which he was 
born ; but he formed no idea of future happiness, nor of intellect- 
ual dignity vaster than his own. He girded himself for the fearful 
contest which was his inheritance, bravely struggling against the 
terrible powers of destiny and the certainty of death. Amazed at 


his temerity, the sun started back in his course ; opposing deities, 
wounded by his spear, fled howling to Olympus; and the dread 
abodes of Tartarus yielded up the departed to his triumphant call. 
Concentrating in the present the intensity of immortal aspirations, 
he sought to link them forever to the perishable body. Earthly as 
was his spirit, he yet supremely coveted eternal life, and labored 
through transcendent genius and fortitude to unite himself imme- 
diately with the gods, and ultimately soar amid the splendid hie- 
rarchy of the upper skies. 

The worship of Greece was the Beautiful, and Athens was its most 
magnificent Shrine. One of her latest and fairest altars was dedi- 
cated to the Unknown God. Would that the plinth of artistic 
beauty had also been the memento of spiritual prayer. Alas ! that 
after all the fine imaginings and glorious achievements of the won- 
drous Greeks, we must still feel that their loftiest conceptions of 
divine worship were really as void of true consolation as the empty 
urn which Electra washed with her tears. 





" Thy foot will not stumble, if thou ascribest every thing good and noble 
to Providence, whether it takes place among the Greeks or ourselves, for God 
is everywhere the author of all that is good. Some things, indeed, originate 
immediately with Him, as the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, 
others again mediately, as philosophy. And even this, he appears to have 
imparted immediately to the Greeks, until they were called by the Lord ; for 
philosophy led the Greeks to Christ, as the law did the Jews." CLEMENS of 

" In the history of a war, we speak only of the generals, and those who 
performed actions of distinction. In like manner the battles of the human 
mind, if I may use the expression, have been won by a few intellectual 
heroes. The history of the development of art and its various forms may be 
therefore exhibited hi the characteristic view of a number, by no means con- 
siderable, of elevated and creative minds." AUGUSTUS WILLIAM SCHLEGEL. 

" These individual lives, running like so many colored threads, through our 
record, may impart to it that personal interest and dramatic unity which 
otherwise it would lack." DOCTOR ARNOLD. 

"I saw the ram pushing westward, and northward, and southward; so 
that no beasts might stand before him, neither was there any that could de- 
liver out of his hand; but he did according to his will, and became great." 
DANIEL, viii. 4. 





CIVILIZATION in Greece was beautiful, in Rome invincible. As 
this latter empire spread, it invaded savage races on every hand, 
and gave birth to a new world, still more vast, the world of com- 
mercial progress, stretching along the Mediterranean and Baltic 
shores into the unbounded ocean of the West. While Providence 
was concentrating its conservative forces in Alexander, for the ex- 
ecution of gracious designs, the future heiress of Greece was slum- 
bering in her cradle on the Sicilian and Italian coasts, near where 
the new centre was preparing, which was to draw around it the 
barbarous nations of earth. That the graceful progeny of Athene 
should have migrated with facility from the serene clime of their 
native home to the stormy wilds of Etruscan Rome was not strange, 
since naturalists assert that birds of Paradise fly best against the 
wind ; it drifts their gorgeous plumage behind them, which only 
impedes when before the gale. 

The most careful consideration of ancient history leads to the 
belief that many of the nations which flourished in Italy, long 
before the Roman empire attained its height of power and splen- 
dor, were distinguished by a harmony of culture, an exuberance 
of being, a diversity of manifestation, and originality of genius, 
which Rome in her best days never exceeded. They each con- 
tained an important element of civilization, but only in an incipient 
degree; they were of co-operative capacity, and when the pre- 



dominant quality of the new cycle arose with complete develop- 
ment to its culminating point, martial Rome executed the most 
fulminating and comprehensive of primordial missions. Had not 
Greece preceded them with the humanizing influences of the 
beautiful, the great nation would have been nothing but a remorse- 
less slayer of men, furnishing no compensation for the thralldom 
which was imposed from land to land by her fiery and bloody arms. 
The former caused Beauty to dwell as a divinity in the midst of 
men ; the latter erected the god of war as the national deity, and 
compelled all peoples to the ignoble worship. 

Rome was destined, through force, to show the world, despite the 
greatest obstacles, what energetic will, unity, earnestness, and per- 
tinacity of purpose, could do. She was doubtless superior to most 
nations in military skill, and this gave her great advantage ; but 
her unique peculiarity consisted in the fact, that, till her co-operative 
work was done, she never despaired, and this attribute of fortitude 
alone conquered the world. Ruin as often threatened the Romans 
as it did other champions, and they would have fallen as others fell, 
had not internal resources increased, and heroical resolution been 
confirmed, in proportion as outward support failed them. The 
spectacle of physical force which they presented was the grandest 
of earth ; but it was moral force, something grander still, which for- 
tified the physical force, and rendered it such a mighty agent 
of civilization. War has numerous advantages which are overruled 
for good, and the misfortunes of some nations are made to supply 
prosperity to others. The most fruitful fields have been fertilized 
by wholesale carnage, that scourge and civilizer of mankind. As 
the sea retires in one quarter at the same time it advances in an- 
other, swallows up the productiveness of this shore to augment the 
territory and richness of that, so do great natural fluctuations 
transpire under the control of that sovereign law by which all 
things are changed but nothing destroyed. The invasion of Persia 
was virtually the creation of Greece, and the overthrow of the latter 
enriched the world. When the fair continent had fully emerged 
from the flood of Pelasgic barbarism, afar in the West, on Latian 
plains, the infant state of Rome was obscurely struggling into 
power against the neighboring confederacies in which the old 
Etruscan culture was rapidly sinking into decay. While the gloomy 


wilds of Gaul and Germany yet lay scarcely known, Gela, in the 
Greek colony at Syracuse, maintained the splendor of a Grecian 
name, and by a single defeat in Sicily the pride of Carthage was 
subdued. Nations, like individuals, have each a special mission on 
earth. Many are either co-operative only or secondary, and but a 
few are manifestly primordial. Thus the mission of Greece was 
beauty, that of Rome, force. In those special spheres they mani- 
fested the natural attributes of humanity in a fashion and to a de- 
gree never before reached by any nation. But as all secondary 
nations co-operated to execute the mission given to each great prim- 
ordial power, so these two predominant branches of the Japhetic 
race co-operated, in subordination to the one leading purpose of 
Providence, to perpetuate progress and improve mankind. 

The rude elements of the Indo-European stock were early scat- 
tered from Caucasus to the Alpine North. The Hellenic family 
were the first raised to a high degree of refinement, and they 
planted their offspring even to the extremity of the Italian penin- 
sula. When other kindred branches, like the Oscans and Sabines, 
superseded these, they gave a composite character to the new lan- 
guage thus formed, an amalgamation of Attic flexibility with Latin 
strength. But the body was more ponderous than the soul ; the 
plastic property so prominent in the Greek tongue was lost in the 
harder and stiffer enunciation of unpolished Rome. The former, 
like a lucid substance, seemed to crystallize spontaneously into the 
most beautiful forms ; but the latter, like granite, could be rendered 
attractive only by artificial polish, and that of the most laborious 
kind. It was the language of solidity, gravity, and energy ; the 
fit medium for expressing the dictum of imperial might, but was 
not adapted to convey either the sentiments of love or the products 
of meditation. The great orator, in his defense of the poet Archias, 
informs us that Greek literature was read by almost all nations of 
the world, while Latin was still confined within very narrow boun- 
daries. Such was the wonderful vitality of Greek in its ancient 
form, and yet it lived only with such as spoke it as their vernacular 
in the fatherland or its provinces. Like all true and original crea- 
tions of genius, it never survived the fostering care of devotees, 
but sank back with their decay, and again became limited within 
the boundaries of its first home. In the end, as in the beginning, 


Athens was tbe University of the whole classic world. On the 
contrary, Latin was propagated chiefly by conquest, absorbing all 
barbarous dialects into itself, and, like the dominion of its masters, 
becoming the stronger the further west it was spread. Under the 
auspices of the Republic, it became united with the Celtic and 
Iberian in Spain, and was planted by Julius Cassar in Britain, 
as well as Gaul. Greek is still spoken at Athens; but Latin, 
when it had been engrafted on the rest of Europe, and gave 
birth to all modern tongues, became again grossly barbarized 
and died. 

By what route the progenitors of the Oscans, Sabines, Itali, and 
Umbrians came from the original cradle of the human race, is not 
clearly known. They were evidently kindred to the Pelasgi of the 
Morea,and used the Phoenician alphabet. Their dress and national 
symbol, the eagle, were Lydian, and their theology, like the more 
refined system of the Greeks, was derived from the remotest East. 
The Romans were composite from the first, and in every thing. 
The septi-montium upon which their primitive city stood, was occu- 
pied by different tribes. If we may trust mythical tradition, a 
Latin tribe had their settlement on mount Palatine, and a Sabine 
community occupied the adjacent Quirinal and Capitoline heights- 
Mutual jealousy kept them a long time separate, but at length the 
privilege of intermarriage was conceded, and the different tribes 
became one people. The Etruscans were of purest Pelasgian ori- 
gin, and for a long period possessed the greatest civilizing power in 
the West. When subdued politically, they still left the most in- 
delible stamp on the arts and fortunes of the Roman people. These 
ethnical affinities are correlative to the linguistic affinities of the 
great martial cycle, and best indicate out of what elements its lan- 
guage was composed. 

The ancient Latin alphabet was an offshoot from primitive Greek, 
and evidently came from the same source. Its later departure from 
the original current, and modifications of its forms, are all tracea- 
ble through the means of inscriptions on funereal urns, coins, and 
historical monuments. The alphabets of Gaul, Germany, Etruria, 
and Spain, were formed from the Greek ; and even the Latin letters 
may be termed the universal alphabet, for it was the immediate 
parent of all the present modes of writing. But this mother-tongue 


did not, like its nobler parent, proceed from a single germ, and 
gradually unfold by a natural growth. It merged in the bosom of 
foreign elements, and presented great and striking contrasts in its 
progress. In the Republic it was like the people, high-minded, and 
competent for the debate of mighty interests ; under regal or im- 
perial sway, it became the fitting medium of an extravagant court, 
jcramped and debauched by foreign manners. At the epoch of 
Livius Andronicus, B. c. 240, or the first Punic war, the language 
was elicited from various dialects, and consolidated into the vernac- 
ular of a whole people. The Oscan, Sabine, and Etrurian, or Tus- 
can, were the leading native elements ; but the primitive Greek, or 
Pelasgic, was early blended with the Latin, greatly enriching it, 
and imparting to it the chief basis of its forms. From the first 
Punic to the first civil* war, B. c. 88, was a period of marked im- 
provement. Increased intercourse with the Greeks, after the second 
Punic war, greatly improved their native literature, aroused and 
directed all their energies to practical life, and the affairs of state. 
Greek models were held up to the enthusiasm of those who emu- 
lated at first, and afterward imitated, the masters whom they could 
never hope to excel. Thus the language of the Romans did not 
originate in the rules of art, but in the free outflowings of national 
character. Hence, Quintilian compares the writings of Ennius to 
an ancient sacred grove of primeval trees, with their stately trunks. 
Something of Greek pliancy was imparted, while the tongue was 
becoming harmonized, by the translations of the Odyssey made by 
Titus Andronicus, and by Nsevius from ^Eschylus and Euripides. 
The progress of improvement continued, and by the time of Augus- 
tus the Roman language was formed. Then, in distinction from 
the Latin, or provincial speech, it was said to be " the refined lan- 
guage of the city, containing nothing which could offend, nothing 
which could displease, nothing which could be reprehended, nothing 
of foreign sound or odor." 

JSIuch of the original material employed in early Roman litera- 
ture was doubtless furnished by the subjugation of Etruria to her 
arms ; but gross indigenous elements needed to be quickened into 
symmetrical growth, and the greater conquest of Greece itself was 
alone equal to that miracle. The beautiful captive wound her 
charms around the barbarous captor, and held him in subjection to 


a vassalage infinitely more glorious than all bis boasted freedom 
and universal mastery in arms. 

How wise is Providence ! The south of Italy had for many cen- 
turies been peopled with colonists from Greece, who retained and 
cultivated the arts and literature of the mother country. When 
sufficient substance had been collected on the seven rugged hills, to 
form a basis of national literature, Tarentum was subjugated, and 
all that was valuable in that interesting country was removed to 
nourish the first literary pursuits at Rome. Two years after this 
arose the first Punic war, the result of which was the conquest of 
Sicily, that charming land whereon the flowers of Grecian poesy 
had blossomed with even fairer charms than on the neighboring 
continent. When we come to consider bucolic poetry, the most 
healthful and original growth of Roman letters, we should remem- 
ber -that this was the spot of its birth. It was in Sicily that the 
pastoral and comic muses prompted Stersichorus first to reduce 
lyrical compositions to the regular division of strophe, antistrophe, 
and epode. It was here that Empedocles " married to immortal 
verse " the " illustrious discoveries " of his " divine mind." Here 
Epicharmus invented comedy, which was cultivated by Philemon, 
Apollodorus, Carcinus, Sophron, and various others. Tragedy also 
found successful votaries in Empedocles, Sosicles, and Achgeus. It 
was in Sicily, too, that the Mime was invented, or, at least, per- 
fected ; Pindar, ^Eschylus, and Simonides, had resided at the court 
of Hiero L, and Theognis of Megara, committed his precepts to 
elegiacs in Sicily. The Dionysii also were authors, as well as pa- 
trons of literary men. It is, moreover, believed that when the 
Romans came into possession of Sicily, Theocritus was yet living. 
Many of the most creative minds in the conquered provinces now 
began to reside at Rome, bringing art and cultivation with them ; 
and from this period literature in the metropolis assumed somewhat 
of a regular and connected form. 

The great majority of the citizens undervalued and even despised 
devotion to sedentary and contemplative pursuits. They were am- 
bitious, and lived for conquest ; but it was the extension of political 
domination they strove for, not the enlargement of literary renown. 
The old Roman was charmed "by the glory of his country abroad, 
and the wise administration of her constitution at home. Military 


prowess was the foundation and guarantee of both, so that beyond 
politics and war he felt little concern. He was susceptible to every 
thing that related to success in arms ; but exercises of a purer mental 
cast, even the most exciting, such as tragedy, never captivated the feel- 
ings nor acquired an influence over the mass of the people, as was 
universal in Greece. Amid the dust and destruction of perpetual 
conflict, learning was but a sickly plant, and it required all the 
artificial heat of courtly patronage to bring any thing to maturity. 
Accius was patronized by D. Brutus ; Ennius by Lucilius and the 
Scipios ; Terence by Africanus and Laelius ; Lucretius by the Mem- 
mii ; Tibullus by Messala ; Propertius by JSlius Gallus ; Virgil and 
his friends by Augustus, Maecenas, and Pollio ; Martial and Quin- 
tilian by Domitian. 

But, with the utmost adventitious aid, Roman literature, which 
never appeared greatly to deserve the epithet national, was of the 
rudest and most meagre description, and should be cfivided into 
three periods. The first period was dramatic ; the second, prosaic ; 
and the third, rhetorical. All the acting tragedy ever produced by 
Romans was limited to the first period ; also the comedies of Plau- 
tus and Terence, the only works which have survived to claim 
admiration in modern times. It was the era of life, when all the 
vigorous germs of after growth were started. Epic poetry, rugged 
and monotonous as it was, yet then had a partial development, 
simultaneously with the first composition of national annals, and 
the foundation of accurat^ and thoughtful jurisprudence. It was 
also in that primary period that C. Gracchus became the father of 
Latin prose ; but the language of the first great orator of western 
democracy under Italian skies was yet very inferior to the impas- 
sioned and noble sentiments it conveyed. 

The second period was that of special refinement in prose, and of 
increased erudition. Caesar and Sallust are its exponents as histo- 
rians, and Cicero is its chief representative as an orator and philoso- 
pher. In a word, it was the great culmination of the Augustan 
age, wherein Lucretius" and Catullus were the harbingers of Virgil, 
Horace, and Ovid, and the varied treasures of all the great masters 
of prose and learned poetry were garnered in the lucid narrative of 

As the first period was redolent of life, and the second teemed 


with learning, so the third is known by its excessive embellishment. 
It was called " the silver age," and was covered with abundance of 
filigree. It produced the only fabulist of Rome, Phaedrus ; Juvenal, 
the satirist; Martial, the epigrammatist; Tacitus, the historian; 
Quintilian, the critic ; and the elegant letter-writer, Pliny. These 
are the best names of the later period of the Augustan age, and 
these decisively mark the progress of decline. Fancifulness and 
formalism ruled supreme, and whatever of independent thought 
the earlier periods had known, was now superseded by servility and 

The Romans inherited no legendary stories adapted to the higher 
order of dramatic composition. The early traditions which formed 
the groundwork of their history were private, and not public, 
property the pedigrees and memorials of separate families, and 
therefore not interesting to the people at large. There were no 
Attic Eumolpidae on the seven hills to preserve antique remin- 
iscences as a national treasure, nor did they, like fragrant plants, 
twine themselves along the rocky base of the Roman capitol, as 
the thrilling traditions of ancestral Greece did round the chaste 
altars of that susceptible people. The Latin poets might some- 
times collect withered fictions, and weave them into their rhythmical 
records of antiquity ; but they possessed no vital beauty, no talis- 
manic power for awakening national enthusiasm. Indeed, who 
could heartily enjoy allusions to the past, since old Rome had been 
superseded by a new race. The few veterans who yet survived the 
bloody wars of Greece, Africa, Gaul, and Spain, were settled in 
remote military colonies, and a careless disregard of every thing in 
the metropolis, except luxurious sustenance and shows, paved the 
way for a speedy downfall. Rome was peopled with step-sons only, 
as Scipio JSmilius designated the populace, and the tragedy most 
genial to their taste and ambition was that which was most replete 
with fulsome compliments to favorite individuals. In Greece, the 
poet was deemed an inspired being, and his tongue was regarded as 
the divinest medium for the communion of the visible with the 
invisible ; but at Rome, poetry was nothing more than a dull 
recreation, and its author was no better than a parasite or a slave. 
At Athens, the impersonation of a tragedy was an act of worship ; 
the theatre was a temple, and the altar of a deity was its central, 


point. With the Romans, the thymele existed no longer as a 
memorial of sacred sacrifice, and the stage deteriorated into the 
mere arena of disgusting amusement. Pliny, in his history, and 
Cicero, in eloquent regrets, have told us how the bloody combats 
of gladiators, the miserable captives and malefactors stretched on 
crosses, expiring in excruciating agonies, or mangled by wild beasts, 
were the real tragedies coveted by the people. The sham-fights 
and Naumachiae, though only imitations, were real dramas, in which 
those pursuits which most deeply interested the spectators, and which 
constituted their highest glories, were visibly represented. Gorgeous 
spectacles fed personal vanity in their national greatness. The spoil 
of conquered nations, borne in procession across the stage, reminded 
them of their triumphs and their victories. The magnificent cos- 
tumes of the actors who attended the model of some captured city, 
preceded and followed by artistic spoils, represented in mimic 
grandeur the ovation of a successful warrior, whose return from a 
distant expedition, laden with plunder, realized the highest aspira- 
tions of Rome ; whilst corresponding scenery, glittering with glass, 
silver, and gold, intermingled and sustained by variegated pillars of 
foreign marbles, told ostentatiously of their mental extravagance 
and material wealth. To such a people there was neither attraction 
nor profit in the moral woes of tragedy, and one could not expect 
that a legitimate drama under such circumstances would be national. 
Hence, in the popular eye, the scenic decorations and theatrical 
dresses became the chief objects of regard, while the poet's office 
was entirely subordinate, and plays became as devoid of intellect as 
they were debasing to taste. 

In reviewing with more detail the three periods of dramatic prog- 
ress at Rome, such as it was, we have to consider the origin and 
character of their comedy. The Greek works of Menander, Diphilus, 
and Apollodorus, formed a rich store of materials for Roman adop- 
tion, and were so employed with as much success as Plautus, 
Caeilius Statius, and Terence could command. Their standard was 
worldly prudence, resting on the dangerous ground of Epicurean 
philosophy; and therefore Roman comedy inculcated no virtue 
even so salutary as Stoicism, though it sometimes encouraged the 
benevolent affections. Creative imagination was a rare quality in 
the Roman mind ; therefore, literature with them was not of a 



spontaneous growth. For a short period, it was the recreation of a 
few ; but with the many it was never a valued delight. Even 
Cicero, the truest literary spirit of his nation, could recognize but 
one end and object in all study, namely, those sciences which 
render a man useful to his country. External utility and not 
internal impulse, was the final cause of Roman literature. In pre- 
ceding nations poetiy was the original and spontaneous production ; 
but the earliest literary effort of the Romans was history, a dry 
record of facts, and not ideas. The first poetical form ever 
attempted by them was satire, and it is characteristic of the rude 
and coarse people among whom it had its origin. They loved strife, 
both physical and mental ; with them was found little or no salutary 
intellectual exercise, except in legal conflicts and partisan debates. 
They were gladiators in the forum, as in the circus, and with rustic 
taste took equal delight in bandying sarcastic words or struggling 
in a wrestling match. The Romans were a stern, not an aesthetic 
people ; they had a natural aptitude for satire, and that was the 
only literary merit they possessed. Yet even in this department, 
as Horace confessed, Lucilius, the founder of Roman satire, was a 
disciple of the Greek Eupolis, Cratinus, and Aristophanes. But 
the cynical humor and prompt extemporaneous gibe native to the 
progeny of a she-wolf eminently qualified them to excel in a walk 
wherein they were certainly most at home. 

Livius Andronicus, the first literary character at Rome, was a 
native of the Greek colony at Tarentum, born B. c. 240, and ori- 
ginally a slave. He probably came into that condition by the for- 
tunes of war, and, like many others in the same circumstances, was 
employed as a tutor in the metropolis. To interest his cotempora- 
ries in the ancient legends of Italy, he translated the Odyssey, in 
the old Saturnian measure, and also divers ancient hymns. By 
this means, the conquerors of the day were made to take a lively 
interest in Circe's fairy abode, within sight of a promontory of 
Latiuin, one of whose sons was Latinus, the patriarch of the Latin 

Na3vius, if not actually born at Rome, was from the earliest boy- 
hood a resident in the capital, and was the first poet of real national 
worth. Like most subsequent writers, he was a servile imitator, 
but attained more than ordinary success in applying Greek taste to 


the development of Roman character. A bold republican and 
brave soldier, lie breathed a martial enthusiasm into his poems, 
which in no slight measure aided the battles of his country in the 
first Punic war. The upright and inflexible Cato was his fast and 
enduring friend. 

Plautus, unlike his two famous successors, had no patron but the 
public. Perhaps the Scipios and Laelii, and their fastidious asso- 
ciates, could not endure his broad humor and groveling inuendos. 
But his coarse fun and audacious action held the not over-critical 
ears of the undistinguished mass, whom, Horace says, he hurried 
on from scene to scene, from incident to incident, from jest to jest, 
so that they had no opportunity of feeling fatigue. Another cause 
.of his popularity was, that although Greek was the fountain whence 
he drew his stores, his wit, mode of thought, and language, were 
veritably Roman ; his style was not only his own, and Latin in fact, 
but Latin of the most effective kind. 

P. Terentius Afer, born B. c. 195, was a slave in the family of 
P. Terentius Lucanus, a Roman senator. It was customary to dis- 
tinguish slaves by an ethical name, and thus Afer points to an 
African origin. Whether he was a native of Carthage is uncer- 
tain, but he doubtless came into Roman hands through the Car- 
thagenian slave-market, and was destined to achieve a high 
renown. Under Lucanus he acquired a refined and accurate 
knowledge of the Latin tongue, and, it is probable, also, soon 
obtained his freedom. A beautiful story is recorded of his original 
success. Having offered his first dramatic sketch for acceptance i& 
the Curule JEdiles, they referred him to the critical judgment 01 
Caecilius Statius, then at the height of his popularity. Terence, 
according to the record, in humble garb was introduced to the 
poet whilst he was at supper, and, seated on a low stool near the 
couch on which Caecilius was reclining, he commenced reading. 
He had finished but a few lines when he was invited to sit by his 
critic and sup with him. Before the reading was ended he had 
won the unqualified admiration of his hearer. The result was that 
Terence was immediately sought for by the distinguished, and be- 
^me a favorite guest and companion with those who could appre- 
ciate his powers. The great Roman nobility, such as the Scipiones, 
the Laelji, the Scavola3, and the Metelli, had some taste for litera- 


ture ; and, like the Tyranni of Sicily in later ages, were accustomed 
to assemble around them circles of the refined, of whom the hospi- 
table host was proud to be recognized as the nucleus and centre. 
If Terence was inferior to Plautus in vivacity and intrigue, as well 
as in the powerful delineation of national character, he was superior 
in elegance of language and purity of taste. He was the first to 
substitute delicacy of sentiment for vulgarity, and knew how to 
touch the heart as well as gratify the intellect. 

Cascilius Statius, the venerable and auspicious friend of Terence, 
referred to above, was himself an emancipated slave, born at Milan, 
and who rose to the head of comic poetry at Rome. Greece was 
the ordinary fountain to him, as to others ; but he excelled most 
of his fellow-imitators in dignity, pathos, and the conduct of his 
plot. In the estimation of Cicero, Statius excelled in comedy, as 
Ennius did in epic poetry, and Pacuvius in tragedy. 

Roman comedy possessed some claims to originality, though to 
no exalted degree ; but Roman tragedy was derived from Athens 
almost entire, and had not the merit of either literal translation or 
clever imitation. Ennius, born B. c. 239, was the transition link 
between the old school and the new. Originating in the wild and 
mountainous Calabria, he began life in a military career, and rose 
to the rank of a centurion. It is said that Cato, in his voyage 
from Africa to Rome, visited Sardinia, and finding Ennius in that 
island, took him home with him. He enjoyed the esteem of the 
leading literary societies at Rome ; and at his death, when seventy 
years old, he was buried in the tomb of the Scipios, at the request 
of the great conqueror of Hannibal, whose fame, embalmed in his 
verse, he transmitted to posterity. It indicates the progressive 
condition of literature in the metropolis, that Ennius, who was evi- 
dently a gentleman, was the first writer of the time who achieved 
for himself the enviable privileges of a citizen, to which Livius had 
not aspired, and Naevius, the freedman, could never attain. Enjoy- 
ing the friendship of Cato the Censor, and Scipio Africanus the 
elder, when aristocratic wealth was beginning to be greatly revered, 
the republican poet, cleaving to his lowly hut on the Aventine, still 
lived the life of the Cincinnati, the Curii, and the Fabricii of the 
good old heroic times. 

Under the auspices of Pacuvius, and simultaneously with the 


best comedy, tragedy reached the highest degree of excellence. 
He was born at Bnmdusium, B. c. 220, and was nearly related to 
the poet Ennius. Pacuvius resided at Rome till after his eightieth 
year, and formed one of that literary circle of which Lselius was 
the chief ornament. In the evening of life he retired to Tarenturn, 
where he died ninety years old. His tragedies were chiefly adapt- 
ations of Greek originals to the Roman stage ; the plots being 
entirely borrowed, but the treatment and language were his own. 

Attius was born B. c. 170, and became somewhat distinguished 
while his senior and master, Pacuvius, was yet alive. They met on 
friendly terms to discuss the young rival's tragedy of " Atreus." 
Pacuvius commended its good points, but declared it to be some- 
what harsh and hard. " You are right," replied Attius, " but I 
hope to improve. Fruits which are at first hard and sour, become 
soft and mellow, but those which begin by being soft, end in being 
rotten." Another fact equally significant of his conscious dignity 
is given by Valerius Maximus, who relates that in the assemblies 
of the poets, he refused to rise at the entrance of Julius Caesar, be- 
cause he felt that in the republic of letters he was his superior. 
The statement is plausible, as the great hero was then in his youth. 
The political state of the people was now rapidly growing worse, 
and real tragedies were being so violently acted that there was 
little room in the popular heart for fictitious woes. The sanguin- 
ary influence of the amphitheatre seemed to have brutalized the 
entire nation, the vast area of which was one theatre of dreadful 
tragic scenes. Amidst these, the voice of the dramatic muse was 
hushed. Native authors then had no literary quarries of their 
own to work into original shapes, but they could build up splendid 
edifices with materials derived from polished and prolific Greece. 
The existence of tragedy was not long at Rome ; the dramatic 
spirit, as a mental excellence, never belonged to that people, and 
with Attius, even its form disappeared. 

The history of literature among the Romans is without a parallel. 
So prosaic and practical were the people, that they remained five 
centuries without an eminent poet. Even when the dazzling glories 
of the Grecian muse fell upon them it was only the art of imitation 
that they cultivated. True inspiration was foreign to their cast of 
mind. The most original of their writers entertained no higher 


idea of originality than to make it consist in the importation of a 
new form from Greece ; and, on the ground of his own practice, 
affected to despise those who copied for the second or third- time. 
Indeed, the word imitation was applied only to Latin authors, it 
being understood that borrowing from the Greeks, or conforming 
to them, implied their chief excellence. Unkindled by the Grecian 
torch, Roman intellect was inert ; and unillumined by its formative 
power, their productions were both uncouth and void of enduring 

The Mlmi were the most indigenous to the Roman mind, and 
have left their traces in the modern buffoonery of Pulcinello and 
Harlequin. It is believed that the Romans owed their first idea 
of dramatic composition to the Etrurians, and the effusions of a 
sportive humor to the Oscians ; but all matured productions, of a 
higher order, came from the Greeks. Curtius, sacrificing every 
personal inclination to an absorbing love of country, was a truer 
exemplification of their national spirit, than any thing they achieved 
in elegant letters or art. They always betrayed that their first 
founder was not suckled at the breast of gentle humanity, but of a 
ferocious beast. Schlegel has well said of them, " They were the 
tragedians of the history of the world, who exhibited many a deep 
tragedy of kings led in chains, and pining in dungeons ; they were 
the iron necessity of other nations; universal destroyers for the 
sake of rearing at last from the ruins, the mausoleum of their own 
dignity and freedom, in the midst of an obsequious world, reduced 
to one dull uniformity." 

The style in which the Roman theatres were built, and the means 
resorted to for the purpose of superficial excitement, indicate that 
whatever dramatic taste the people may have once possessed, it 
had come to be greatly decayed. The edifice erected by Pompey 
was so huge that forty thousand spectators could be seated at once, 
and must have depended upon something else than the human 
voice to instruct or please. The relation which Pliny gives of the 
architectural decoration of the stage erected by Scaurus seems 
incredible. When magnificence could be carried no further, they 
endeavored to surprise by mechanical inventions; two theatres, 
placed on pivots, back to back, were so made that they could be 
wheeled round and form one vast amphitheatre, thus sinking 


legitimate tragedy into the lowest clap-trap of melo-dramatie 

It was not to be expected that a people filled with such an un- 
bounded lust for dominion would excel in the more delicate walks 
of literature and art. But the unscrupulous desire of the Romans 
to extend the power and glory of the Republic was compatible with 
vigorous statesmanship, and all the kindred subjects requisite to 
the advancement of social science. Their mother tongue was the 
language of command, and proficients therein could much easier 
produce works in prose, since these would arise from a practical 
view to utility only, and would require a treatment characterized 
by science rather than by art. But, as in poetry, so in prose, the 
Romans were perpetually imitative ; they frequently showed talent, 
but rarely genius, and aimed at erudition, not invention. Those 
who first devoted themselves to historical research, were also emi- 
nent in the public service. Fabius Pictor belonged to an eminent 
patrician family, and Cincius Alimentus was of honorable birth. 
Such were Roman historians until the time of Sulla, whose cotem- 
porary, L. Otacilius Pititus, was the first freedman who began to 
write history. The primary efforts of these authors and their asso- 
ciates were devoted to the transfer of poetical records into prose, 
the more appropriate vehicle of national annals. 

M. Porcius Cato Censorius was born at Tusculum, B.C. 234. He 
displayed uncommon versatility of talent, and attained a place 
among the first orators, jurists, economists, and historians, of his 
day. Plautus and Terence were his cotemporaries. Cato enjoyed 
the advantage of a personal acquaintance with Polybius, the Greek 
historian, and the philosophers, Carneades, Critolaus, and Diogenes, 
who were compelled from Athens to lecture at Rome. At the 
same time Crates arrived from Pergamus, and the taste for Greek 
literature was so quickened, that the venerable prejudice against it 
in Cato was overcome, and very late in his life he sat down to 
learn the language of a people whom he had hated and despised. 
Early in life he became a soldier, served in the Hannibalian war, was 
under Fabius Maximus, both in Campania and Tarentum, a^d did 
the state some service in the decisive battle of the Metaurus. 
Stern in integrity, and rural in taste, like Carius Dentatus, and 
Quintius Cincinnatus, between his campaigns he employed himself 


in agricultural pursuits, on his Sabine farm. Valerius Flaccus in- 
vited him to his town-house at Kome, where the rustic pleader 
almost immediately became famous in the highest courts, and was 
soon sent to govern the province of Spain. This office was happily 
fitted to his talents, and on that western field he reaped the richest 
harvest of fame. The inherent love of truth and justice in Cato 
made him detest every demand for respect that did not rest on per- 
sonal merit. Adventitious rank he despised, and was an unrelent- 
ing foe to aristocracy, as being arbitrary, conventional, and oppres- 
sive. The most amiable trait in his character was a burning 
indignation against wrong. He was self-educated, and perfectly 
original in character and genius. His learning was immense, but 
all his opinions were his own. Despite the imperfections of Cato, 
he was, intellectually and morally, the greatest man pagan Rome 
produced. Several inferior historians succeeded, but none worthy 
of note, previous to the revival-period of Cicero. 

Polybius was carried captive to Rome, where he wrote his his- 
tory in the language of his fallen country ; and, when his learned 
co-patriots were permitted to return, he remained in Rome, greatly 
respected, and became both friend and adviser to the younger 
Scipio. The histories of Lucius Lucullus, Aulus Albinus, and 
Scipio Africanus, designed especially for the educated classes, were 
written in Greek. The earliest improvements in Latin were made 
by the epic and dramatic poets. At a later period, statesmen and 
orators exerted a strong popular influence in regard to prose com- 
position, and thus the common people were gradually fortified with 
earnestness and practical intelligence. 

Caius Julius Ca3sar was born B. c. 101, and was a voluminous 
writer, as well as unequaled soldier. A strong man will stamp his 
individuality on his pages, as well as exhibit it in his acts. Such 
was the case with Caesar, the first Roman whose expressions were 
well balanced and full of literary force. His composition at night 
was the fitting counterpart of his conduct by day. Whether he 
wielded the baton of supreme command on the battle-field, or 
quietly inscribed its history while the wounds of thousands were 
yet "Weeding, his sword and pen alike went directly to the end 
desired, and triumph crowned every literary as well as martial 
attempt. He was said to know every man in his army by name, 


and lie appears to have had an equally intimate acquaintance with 
the language in which he wrote. Every word, like a mailed soldier, 
was made to occupy its appropriate place, and his brief sentences 
stood in serrated strength, doing the most efficient service with 
least waste of time and space. Nothing could be subtracted from 
his brevity, or substituted for his chosen elements and positions of 
might. Xenophon, several of Alexander's generals, and Hannibal 
himself, also wrote annals of their own achievements ; but the great 
Roman alone was the superlative martial writer, as he was the un- 
conquered champion in war. The history of campaigns was a 
department of composition in which the genius of that people was 
best adapted to shine, and the boldest of their conquerors was also 
the brightest exponent of their national spirit. 

Caius Crispus Sallustius, born fifteen years later than the great 
writer just noticed, and much inferior to him in harmony of 
arrangement and clearness of expression, yet had few equals among 
his countrymen as a writer. The beautiful historians of Greece 
were more easily copied than any other department of their letters, 
and this enabled the Romans to produce clever imitations. Thucy- 
dides was the model followed by Sallust, whose servility crippled 
the modicum of genius he originally possessed. 

Titus Livius was born B. c. 17, at Padua, and removed to Rome, 
where he enjoyed the protection and regard of Augustus. The 
gross materialism of Epicurus was most genial to the national sense, 
and received at their hands a general adoption. The same gloomy 
impress lies upon the pages of Livy, and we close his work with 
the feeling that we have been conducted through " a stately gallery 
of gay and tragic pictures." Battles and triumphs are delineated 
with circumstantial vividness ; but little light is thrown upon the 
constitution of the immortal mind, nor is the information thus com- 
municated conducive to healthful order or energy. 

Caius Cornelius Tacitus was born A. D. 57, forty-three years after 
the death of Augustus. His father is supposed to have been of the 
equestrian order, and Procurator of Belgian Gaul. Better auspices 
dawned when Trajan, the last of efficient Caesars, ascended the 
throne, and like the sudden beauty which sometimes adorns the 
close of a lowering day, rivalled the greatness of old Rome, As his 
fitting co-operative in concluding the historic cycle of the Augustan 


age, Tacitus, educated under Vespasian and Titus, and who had 
learned to analyze his race under Domitian and Nerva, arose with 
Trajan to enjoy the last bright hour of his nation, and to portray 
the dreadfulness of the coming night. The depth of his spirit, and 
pungency of his expressions, are the last and best exponents of 
Augustan prose literature. What began with Caesar in simple 
majesty, and was continued by Livy under the attractions of 
rhetorical extravagance, was by Tacitus garnered and uttered in the 
final expression of invincible victory and disdain. The historian of 
despotic cruelty threw the links of the world's fetters along the iron 
pages of his masterly Annals, while the shadows of Teutonic gran- 
deur seem already gathering over his sad visage as he writes. 

Suetonius and Cornelius Nepos need only be named in this 
connection, while we pass to a more particular mention of Plutarchus 
of Chseronea. He was, probably, a few years senior to Tacitus, and 
also wrote under the reign of Trajan. Plutarch is the representa- 
tive of popular biography ; he stands between the historian, the 
poet, and the romancer, to catch the beautiful lights of all. His 
account of Theseus resembles a legend from an old chronicle, or a 
chapter of magic ; memoirs as depicted by his hand are exceedingly 
picturesque, in the presence of which reading becomes sight, as 
some vivid touch lights up the centre and animates the whole. 
For instance, the white charger of Sylla, lashed by a servant who 
saw his danger, carries the rider with a plunge between two falling 
spears. Again, Pyrrhus, wounded and faint, suddenly opens his 
eyes on Zopyrus in the act of waving a sword over his neck, and 
darts at him so fierce a look, that he springs back in terror, while 
his guilty hands tremble. And how startling is the aspect of Caesar 
in the senate house, surrounded by conspirators, and turning his 
face in every direction, to meet only the murderous gleamings of 
steel ! 

The Roman prose writers excelled the poets in original worth. 
Their historical style, however, like their Corinthian order of art, 
was founded upon the Greek, but became much more florid than 
the original. Livy, for intance, the most perfect master of the 
Roman tongue as a national historian, is also the best illustration 
of this fault. Though excessively ornate in his emulation of the 
ancients, he yet retained something of their merit. Under the later 


Caesars, history, that department of Augustan literature of most 
sterling worth, grew increasingly corrupt in matter, and deteriorated 
in style, until the fulsome meanness and insipidity of Velleius was 
reached, the lowest nadir of historic art. The advancement of the 
government in despotism is marked by a corresponding debase- 
ment in cotemporary writing. Seneca, for example, threw himself 
into the cold embrace of Stoicism, and becamed resigned as far as 
possible to the philosophy of endurance and the literature of 

Eloquence is a plant indigenous to a free soil, and was nearly a 
stranger to the Romans until it was nurtured in the schools of 
Tisias and Corax, when, on the dethronement of the tyrants, the 
dawn of freedom brightened upon Sicily. At length the privilege 
of unfettered debate which had first found a congenial home in 
Greece, arose in republican Rome. The plebeians, in their con- 
flicts with the patricians, found an efficient advocate in Menenius 
Agrippa, who led them back from the sacred mountain with his 
rustic wisdom. Cases of oppression found some Icilius or Virginius 
armed with a panoply of burning indignation, and many a Siccius 
Dentatus, unskilled in pedantic terms, could appeal to his honorable 
wounds and scars in front received in patriotic service, and to the 
vestiges of torture marked by cruelty on his back. The unwritten 
literature of active life long preceded the office of formal history, 
and efficient oratory gradually arose to counteract by its antago- 
nistic spirit the warlike fierceness of an utilitarian people. As 
when the great soldier, Scipio Africanus Major, was unjustly accused 
by a malignant opponent, the necessity of personal defense unex- 
pectedly developed him into a consummate orator. Livy adorned 
the whole speech with his own rhetoric, but A. Gellius has pre- 
served the peroration intact, which refers to the fortunate anni- 
versary on which the defense was made: "I call to remem- 
brance, Romans," said he, " that this is the very day on which I 
vanquished in a bloody battle on the plains of Africa the Cartha- 
ginian Hannibal, the most formidable enemy Rome ever encoun- 
tered. I obtained for you a peace and an unlooked-for victory. 
Let us not, then, be ungrateful to heaven, but let us leave this 
knave, and at once offer our grateful thanksgivings to Jove, 
supremely good and great." The people obeyed his summons, the 


forum was deserted, and crowds followed the eloquent hero with 
acclamations to the Capitol. 

The eloquence of Cato was mentioned, in our general notice of 
his versatile talents. He was equally successful as a speaker and a 
writer. The father of the Gracchi was distinguished among his 
cotemporaries for effective oratory, but no specimens have survived. 

Scipio Africanus Minor was admirably qualified to be the link 
between the old and new style of eloquence. In his soldier-like 
character, the harder outlines of Roman sternness were modified by 
an ardent love of learning. His first campaign was in Greece, 
where he formed a literary friendship with leading minds, and espe- 
cially with Polybius, which ripened into the closest intimacy when 
that great historian came as a hostage to Rome. He abhorred 
the degeneracy of manners, Greek and Roman, but preserving his 
own moral nature uncorrupted thereby, he was faithful in all the 
active duties of intelligent citizenship. Greek refinement had not 
destroyed the frankness, whilst it had humanized the boldness of 
the Roman ; but prompted him to love the beautiful as well as the 
good, and to believe that elegance was by no means incompatible 
with strength. Lselius was his friend, and Servius Sulpicius Galba 
his successor in the more cultivated style of animated oratory. 

But the Gracchi have the strongest claim upon the grateful re- 
membrance of all who love democratic freedom. They paid the 
penalty usually connected with high destinies ; but their death was 
the occasion of a better life to millions. Political changes which 
had been advancing slowly, but surely, for centuries, found in those 
two brothers the fitting instruments of a glorious consummation. 
Under their direction, the result of a long and obstinate struggle 
was, that the old distinction of patrician and plebeian was abolished. 
Plebeians held the consulship and censorship, and patricians, like 
the Gracchi, stood forward as plebeian tribunes and champions of 
popular rights. Such revolutionary periods usually produce extra- 
ordinary powers of eloquence, as in this instance. Lepidus Porcina, 
greatly imbued with Attic gentleness, was the model followed by 
Tiberius Gracchus ; and Papirius Carbo, who united the gift of a 
delightful voice to verbal copiousness, was his ultra-liberal col- 
league ; while JEmilius Scaurus, and Rutilius Rufus, were distin- 
guished for opposing strength. 


The Gracchi themselves were distinguished for gentle vigor, 
aided by a happy combination of accomplished endowments. Their 
father possessed an exalted character, and their mother inherited 
the strong mind and energetic genius of Scipio. She was well 
acquainted with Greek and Latin literature, with which she early 
imbued her aspiring sons. Tiberius was cool and sedate in speech, 
as in temperament ; free from the storms of passion, he was self- 
possessed in debate, as stoical in disasters as was his philosophic 
creed. Caius, who was nine years younger, was morally inferior to 
Tiberius, but greatly his superior in intellect. He was less un- 
swerving in purpose, but he was more susceptible of generous 
impulses, and had a much greater measure of creative genius. 
Cicero says that his imagination, lashed by the violence of his pas- 
sions, required a strong curb ; but for that very reason it gushed 
forth as from a natural fountain, and like a torrent swept all before 
it. On one occasion, his look, his voice, his gestures, were so inex- 
pressibly affecting, that even his enemjes were dissolved in tears. 
His education enabled him to rid himself of the harshness of the 
old school, and to gain the reputation of being the father of Roman 

M. Antonius entered public life under brilliant auspices, but he 
was greater as a judicial than as a deliberative orator. L. Licinius 
Crassus was four years younger than Antony, having been born 
B. c. 140. The last and most distinguished of the pre-Ciceronian 
orators, was Q. Hortensius, son of L. Hortensius, praetor of Sicily, 
and was born B.C. 97. When Crassus and Antony were dead, he 
was left the acknowledged leader of the forum until the effacing 
brightness of Rome's culminating star arose. In the cause of Quin- 
tius, the two great orators first came into direct conflict, when the 
mightier rival paid the highest possible compliment to the talents 
and genius of Hortensius, at the same time he clearly excelled him. 
As supreme as was the career of Cicero in the realm of eloquence, 
he was yet more influential in the department of philosophy at 
Rome, and we reserve a more extended notice of him for the chap- 
ter under that head. 

After the battle of Actium, the spirit of faction and tumult sub- 
sided in a measure ; and the love of letters, with a better sway, 
succeeded to that love of arms which had occupied every Roman 


mind for seven hundred years. The empire was at peace, and uni- 
versal plunder had immensely enriched the metropolis. Gorgeous 
embellishment began to be admired, without producing correct 
taste ; and, as a higher order of mind endeavored to cultivate a 
national literature, the language, like the capital of brick, seemed 
to have become marble. But never was Rome able to attain supe- 
rior distinction in elegant letters, or diffuse among her citizens a 
general taste for refinement. An Athenian of the humblest rank 
could sit from morning to evening intent upon the scenes of JEer 
chylus or Sophocles; but the Roman plebeian soon wearied of 
mental exhilaration, and turned to the more genial enjoyment of 
beast mangled by beast, and man by man. Nor was this peculiar 
to the lower classes. Knights and senators would hazard life in 
forcing their way into the amphitheatre, where they often strug- 
gled on the arena with their own slaves. Nothing beautiful was 
ever loved by them for its own sake, but might be haughtily pa- 
tronized as an appendage to sensual delights. Throngs of poets and 
musicians attended at the public baths to recite or sing ; and at 
supper, old and young bound their heads with laurel, not the ama- 
ranth of Minerva, but the gory weed of Mars. This was only an 
affected love of letters, and was equally gratified when entertained, 
at intervals, by wandering sophists, gladiators, jesters, or conjurors, 
as was common around the triclinium of the emperor himself. At 
the best epoch, a passion for literature and art was not the enthu- 
siasm of appreciative genius, but only a transient fashion of the 

After the death of Brutus, the world of letters shared in the uni- 
versal change which transpired in the political world, so that liter- 
ature under Augustus soon assumed a new and general tone en- 
tirely its own. The first five centuries of the republic formed the 
foundation on which the whole superstructure of the Augustan age 
was built. Literature was the last and least thing for that people 
to produce, and no indications of valuable fruit appeared until the 
end of the first Punic war. A.bout two centuries later, Cicero, who 
became the representative of eloquence, philosophy, and sounding 
prose, was succeeded by Augustus, under whose auspices passed the 
golden age of Latin poetry. A hundred and fifty years later, clas- 
sical literature died with Hadrian; chilled by the. baleful influence 


of his tyrannical successors, the literati who had been patronized by 
the luxurious court sank into contempt. The only appropriate epi- 
thet which cotemporaries employed to characterize the age, was 
" iron," and it must have been both hard and cold. Sensual en- 
joyment deteriorated popular taste, and impotent revery took the 
place of energetic thought in the higher order of minds. Since 
Cicero, the flourishing period of eloquence had disappeared, and 
insipid daintiness of language was the only linguistic excellence ad- 
mired. Seneca referred to this national degradation in literature, 
when he said, " Wherever you perceive that a corrupt taste pleases, 
be sure that the morals of the people have degenerated." 

Varro, Caesar, and Cicero contributed most to the perfection of 
the Roman dialect. The period of its greatest elegance extended 
from the reign of Augustus to that of Claudius, A. D. 54. By that 
time the struggle for liberty had been extinguished in those public 
calamities which plunged so many leading families into wretched- 
ness, and caused the national spirit to-be completely broken down. 
The period which embraced the lives of Cicero and Augustus con- 
stituted the best epoch of both prose and poetry. Dramatic liter- 
ature, it is true, never recovered from the trance into which it fell 
after the days of Attius and Terence, yet ^Esopus and Roscius, the 
great tragedian and the favorite comedian in the time of the great- 
est orator at Rome, amassed great wealth. But the theatrical en- 
tertainments which had now taken the place of legitimate dramas, 
were termed mimes, and were ludicrous imitations of popular cus- 
toms or persons. The name was Greek, but the composition was 
entirely Roman in style and purpose. Their indecent coarseness 
of burlesque dialogue gratified the populace, and prepared the way - 
for modern pantomime. 

Decius Laberius, born at Puteoli, B. c. 45, under the dictatorship 
of Julius Caesar, was a Mime who became distinguished in this sort 
of composition, and won even the praise of Horace. Another was 
C. Valerius Catullus, born B. c. 86, and who was nine years 
younger than the great didactic poet and philosopher, Lucretius, 
whom we shall notice under the head of philosophy. Catullus 
belonged to a respectable family, residing on the Lago di Garda, 
near Verona. At an early age he went to Rome, became very 
erudite, and plunged into the licentious excesses of the capital. 


Catullus possessed captivating talents, but of a perverted use; 
satire as vindictive in spirit as it was varied in power. His poetry 
was such as might be expected from the tenor of his life, and a 
career which began in extravagant debauchery terminated in hope- 
less ruin. 

P. Virgilius Maro, born B. c. 70, was a citizen of Mantua. Most 
of his early training was at Cremona, whence he removed to Milan, 
and afterward to Naples, where he studied Greek literature and 
philosophy under the direction of Parthenius. Congenial tastes 
recommended him to Assinius Pollio, who aided the poet in his 
pecuniary distress, and introduced him to the wealthiest patron of 
literature at Rome. By that means the favor of Octavius was 
reached, and bright fortunes were secured. In the maturity of his 
faculties, Virgil visited Greece for the purpose of giving the final 
polish to his great epic poem. At Athens he met Augustus, who 
was on his way back from Samos, and both returned together. But 
the beautiful spirit that yet reigned over the scenes of his recent 
visit evidently inspired his latest and finest writing. The favorite 
haunts of the muses, the time-honored contests of Olympia, the 
living and breathing master-pieces which he admired in that home 
of art, adorn the opening of the third Georgic. But Virgil had 
all his life borrowed so unsparingly from Grecian invention, that we 
may infer his intention to have been, not to produce much, if any 
thing, new, but skillfully to collect and smoothly repeat in his 
rougher tongue what long before had been much more elegantly 
and vividly expressed. His JEneid was artificially polished to a 
high degree, but can never be taken as a specimen of what great 
unassisted invention might effect. If from the structure of its 
fable, one should deduct the portions taken from the Iliad and 
Odyssey, together with what was appropriated from the Troades 
of Euripides, and the lost poem of the lesser Iliad, doubtless but 
little original matter would remain to glorify the best specimen of 
Augustan poetry in its best time. 

Had Virgil given more prominence to the old heroic traditions 
and rural pursuits of his ancestors, he would have taken a stronger 
hold upon cotemporaries, and increased his influence with posterity. 
The enlargement of his epic scope would have added freedom to 
its treatment, and enhanced the value of its use. But, submitting 


to court artificialness, rendered more pernicious by his dependauce 
thereon, the stiff arrangement of Virgil's greatest poem grows 
more and more formal as the plan proceeds. The JEneid opens 
with a copious use of early Greek inventions respecting the Trojan 
period, and the origin of the Romans. The further we leave these 
behind, the duller is the prospect ; and when we have finished the 
greatest national poem of the Augustan age, really valuable as it 
is, we do not wonder that the author himself, in view of the nobler 
models he had copied, wished his own work were destroyed. Fine 
conceptions and careful finish Virgil doubtless possessed, but the 
corrupt Ovid was perhaps more of a spontaneous poet, and the 
careless Lucretius bore an intenser charm of nationality, impelled 
as he was by inspiration more truly Roman. He exhibited less art-, 
and stalked forth with fewer airs of affected dignity ; but whatever 
of strength and elegance he did employ, were more decidedly his 

The specific qualities of Roman writers are clearly marked. In 
Livy, it is the manner of telling a story ; in Sallust, personal iden- 
tification with the character; in Tacitus, the analysis of the deed 
into its motive ; and in the style of Virgil, the intimation of rank 
is equally plain. He who was helped up out of abject dependance, 
in his pride of place shrunk from all contact with poverty. In the 
hut of a herdsman, or seated with a shepherd in the shade, he still 
wears the air of dignity, relaxing with difficulty into bucolics. He 
accepts a maple cup from a peasant, with the patronizing mien of a 
courtier, who is thinking all the while of the last amphora opened 
by the princely Mecaenas. Nevertheless Virgil had in him a true . 
and natural love for rural purity, which was so sadly perverted by 
the astute formalism of the imperial court. In the healthful old 
times of the Republic, the noblest citizens and most illustrious au- 
thors were agriculturists by habitual pursuit, or chosen recreation. 
This feeling remained in Virgil to the last, glowing in the Eclogues, 
and especially in the Georgics most happily expressed. If he had 
given undivided attention to this species of literature hi his riper 
years, he might have been to a still higher degree the poet of his 
nation ; but, like all the rest, he was drawn near the throne of 
despotic rule, and both lived and died the poet of tl>* me- 



But even less original than the epic was the lyrical poetry of the 
Augustan age, the great master of which was Horatius Flaccus, 
born B. c. 65. He infused little personal feeling into his writings, 
especially the lesser odes ; in the place of nature, we have art, and 
instead of grand enthusiasm, a plenty of pretty imitation. Some- 
times, however, he leaves the Greeks and draws wholly from him- 
self, which effusions are the means of a permanent influence, and 
render their author, in his way, the best writer of Borne. Most 
of the poetry of that age was written to express gratitude to a pa- 
tron, or court favor from a prince. As the great portion of readers 
were of the patrician rank, the composition was fashioned to patri- 
cian taste, and was as full of sycophancy as the sentiments expressed 
were undignified. Popular eloquence was no more, and, when free 
prose was silenced, the fulsome epoch of poetic flattery began. The 
profuse coffers of Octavius were opened in extravagant rewards to 
prostituted talents, and Virgil, Propertius, and Horace, polished 
their praise, and pocketed the gold.' Of this talented trio, it is be- 
lieved that Propertius was best qualified for the execution of an 
epic worthy of Rome ; he, however, aspired less after fame than to 
enjoy the morbid sensibility of disappointed love, and has left only 
a few writings steeped in tenderness, but possessing very little 

Ovidius Naso, born B.C. 43, lived in a voluptuous age, and his 
works are imbued with all its grossness. To the first half of the 
Augustan epoch is commonly attributed the chief aggregate of 
genius and talent of greatest distinction, but it was only the occasion 
of their development, and not the period of their origin. All the 
really great of after renown, were the produce of republicanism, 
and whose youth had ardently admired the freedom from which 
their chief strength was derived. The most rugged of those who 
were drawn to the capital to adorn its imperialism with refined 
letters, were deteriorated by the frigid subserviency to which they 
submitted ; while those who were actually born under Augustus, 
and exemplified the spirit of their time, like Ovid, were both in 
sentiment and style, infamously bad. 

Least of all were the Romans successful in tragedy, that noblest 
form of literary composition, and in which the Greeks most excelled. 
True, those specimens which were anciently regarded as the best, 


such as the Medea of Ovid, and the Thyestes of Varius, are not 
now extant ; but all that does remain is stamped with the manners 
of a people too frivolous and vitiated to render tragedy either dig- 
nified or interesting. Their taste and talents were fitted only to 
produce and relish representations of low comedy. But here, too, 
as in every other walk, they were radically defective as to original 
merit, many of their comedies being nothing better than free trans- 
lations from the Greek. Plautus is infected with all the faults of 
Aristophanes, and is vastly inferior in the pungency of his wit; 
though his plots may be more natural, and his talents have a less 
malicious design. The minor epic poets failed still more egregi- 
ously, both as to the sentiments ascribed to their heroes, and the 
modes of their expression. Ovid is frequently puerile to the last 
degree ; and Lucan labors continually after the happy turn of an 
epigram, but seldom with success. Claudian and Statius are habit- 
ually bombastic, but never sublime ; and their successors sunk even 
lower the depressed level of cotemporary worth. The Augustan 
age, in its best period, was in some respects like a well-cultivated 
garden, full of choice exotics, but containing little of natural growth ; 
an assemblage of beauties, gathered from various regions, and some- 
times grouped with an approach to elegance. 

In the age of Augustus, there were a moderately large number 
of literati, but few patrons ; MecaBnas stood first and alone ; even 
the emperor himself was second. The Romans possessed the means 
of greatly enlarging the field of human knowledge, and the elder 
Pliny, artificial as he was, indicated how well those means might 
have been employed. But that people were utterly defective as to 
simplicity of life, and could not, therefore, excel in the more natural 
forms of literature. Theocritus, whose genius was Grecian, infused 
much beauty into his pastorals, and left small room for novelty to 
his successor, Virgil. The latter gave little attention to the real 
life of shepherds, and wrote eclogues, highly finished in manner, 
but in substance, quite unnatural. That author, like all his com- 
peers, lived too much in an artificial world, and was too conversant 
with corrupt courts, and splendid dissipations, to admire unadorned 
beauty, and out of it to coin literary delights to nourish and exalt 
the sons of purity and peace. And yet it was in didactic poetry 
the Romans were most successful. The Georgics of Virgil, and the 


poetical dogmatics of Lucretius, display the opened treasures of, 
perhaps, the only original mine Latins ever worked. 

Greeks of the later period were sometimes caustic in their criti- 
cisms on cotemporaries, but the great majority of their writers were 
too amiable to employ satire ; and this only novelty in literature, 
of which they were happily ignorant, it was the equivocal honor 
of the Romans to invent. It was this form which comedy assumed 
among a people who could not appreciate the legitimate drama. 
Ennius was the inventor of the name, Lucilius of its substance. 
Persius used it for didactic purposes, and Terence and Juvenal gave 
increased reputation to this new form of lettered malice. But 
Horace alone seems to have understood the only useful end to 
which poetic sarcasm might be applied, by making it the vehicle 
of amusing narrative, and picturesque description. His sometimes 
elegant raillery at popular foibles, and inveterate vices, doubtless had 
a better effect than could have been reached by more serious discourse. 

A life of literary or artistic pursuits, was never in high estimation 
among the Romans. This is indicated by the frequent occasions 
Cicero employs to apologize for occupations which, at Athens, 
throughout her glorious career, so far from requiring excuse, would 
have been esteemed the strongest claim to popular regard. Virgil, 
too, in some of his most exquisite lines of the sixth ^Eneid, hesitates 
nojt to speak slightingly of the arts, and even of oratory ; and to 
represent no pursuit as becoming the majesty of a Roman, but to 
hold the sceptre, dictate laws, to spare the prostrate, and humble 
the proud. Horace had a true feeling for heroic greatness, and 
would have produced writings worthy of himself, probably, had the 
rare gifts of his republican youth been exercised under the same aus- 
pices in their maturity. When the commonwealth was overthrown, 
he may have suffered many bitter regrets. Some charitably be- 
lieve that the excess of his mirth is only the mask of unavailing 
grief. A happier inspiration occasionally emits jets of patriotic 
flame, but in general all the native .fires of his genius were 
subdued to the base office of illuminating a palace he had too 
much reason to despise. Inclination, not less than conviction, may 
have prompted him to become the defender of free speech in per- 
petual support of democratic progress ; but policy dictated that he 
should write as a royalist, and glorify the empire of force. When 


the great Cicero was sacrificed in a fitful effort again to be free, 
Horace was too cowardly and recreant to indite one word in his 
behalf, or even to mention his name. Imperial tyrants trampled 
on all the germs of free thought, till nothing but a barren field re- 
mained, and then such creatures as Lucan, once a professed repub- 
lican, sank into the hireling's wealth, and splendidly crouched at 
Nero's feet. He found nothing near and national to commend, and 
so he praised the superseded Cato, with other heroes yet more re- 
mote. Persius pursued the same low trade, and completed the 
picture of an age thoroughly corrupt. 

Almost the only redeeming fact in the history of Roman litera- 
ture, was, that the most elevated individuals took an active part in 
its early culture, and co-operated with all subordinate endeavors to 
perfect its merit. Hence the air of majesty stamped upon their 
published thought, and which wears an aspect of greatness in con- 
trast with the preceding age of beauty. Despite the servility of 
Roman writers, their works obtained an appearance of dignity and 
worth, by forming the great point of union between the ancient and 
the modern world. That which most atones for innumerable de- 
fects, is their one great and pervading idea of Rome itself ; Rome 
so wonderful in her energy and laws, so colossal in her conquests 
and crimes. Something of this independent dignity appears in 
even the most slavish imitator, and relieves the otherwise ignoble 
traits of his character. But this stamp of grandeur was impressed 
on her literature only while Rome was extending her dominion 
over the world, impelled by an irresistible confidence in the ascend- 
ency of her victorious star. Rough, obdurate, and almost uncivil- 
ized, Rome disdained the practice and despised the advantages of 
commerce. The mother-country possessed no arts of refinement to 
export to the countries she conquered, or the colonies she planted ; 
so far from producing an overplus to supply the destitute, she often 
dispossessed those who were more refined, and who were in a meas- 
ure themselves enriched. When Greece submitted to Roman 
power, she obtained a more illustrious triumph over rustic ignor- 
rnce and military force, through the influence of literature, science, 
and the elegant arts. 

As western Asia, from the earliest times, was the great highway 
of culture to Greece, so the JSgean islands and the western colonies 


were the intermediate steps to Roman supremacy, even to the At- 
lantic coast. The sphere of civilization was vastly developed by 
the indefatigable attempts of Alexander to mix all the eastern na- 
tions ; but the unity which he failed to create under the spiritual 
influence of Greece was infinitely extended and established through 
the agency of material Rome. At the same time their martial influ- 
ence was rising, the greatness of their character, strictness of their 
laws, love of their country, and high opinion of themselves common 
to that nation, rose with correlative might. But these more noble 
characteristics changed as soon as universal conquest was reached, 
and their fall was as humiliating as their ascent had been sublime. 
The empire was quickly dissolved, because, inveterate in national 
vanity, Rome refused to be instructed by defeat, but construed fatal 
disasters into occasions for vain hope. From the accession of Au- 
gustus to Theodosius the Great, A. D. 395, every national incident 
was a manifestation of apparent decay ; but in reality, at the same 
time, there was gathering underneath a deeper and purer tide of 
civilization, in due time to burst forth with redeeming power yet 
further west. 

Rome was the second link between the ancient and modern 
world. In her career of conquest, she garnered all wealth by 
force ; and when she fell, it was at the exact moment when her 
hoarded treasures would best promote the fortunes of mankind. 
The eagles of Rome soared with talons and pinions wet with gore, 
but the seeds of great institutions were thus made the more firmly 
to adhere, and they bore them over Apennines and the Alps. They 
were most signally the instruments of Providence for benefitting suc- 
ceeding nations in literature and religion. By the consequences 
which ensued upon Roman conquests, the way was cleared for the 
most auspicious propagation of Christianity ; and the suddenness 
of her fall, as clearly as the savageness of her ascendancy, proved 
that the wisest scheme of selfishness carries within itself the guar- 
anty of utter dissolution. Into the richness of her ruins were cast 
the seeds of intellectual renovation, and posterity was made to reap 
rich harvests from fields plowed by chariots of war and fructified 
with human blood. That mighty nation was predestined to be a 
transporter, and not a producer, of ennobling worth ; and it was 
wisely ordered that she should possess no native production of suffi- 


cient splendor to make her regardless of those that might come in 
her way, and whose superior worth she might appropriate. Cicero 
and Pliny, with their literary associates, were not propounders of 
new theories, but transmitters and commentators of the old. Thus 
every age has been conserved, .without accumulating a burden too 
great ; and the mighty aggregate, fused into an appropriate adapt- 
ation to future uses, has come down to us. If a thousand tributa- 
ries, from every direction, were made to pour their currents into 
one great central reservoir, it was with the divine intention, when 
the fitting epoch arrived, to empty all the mighty tide towards the 
western main, and by that means, at a later era, to infuse into a 
prolific soil all the wisdom of the ancient world. 

Greece carried individual culture to the highest pitch, but never 
established social relations on a sufficiently solid basis. It was not 
lier mission to combine subjugated nations into a consolidated 
union, as the terrible Peloponnesian war and the lamentable history 
of Alexander and his successors but too sadly proved. To work 
out the principle of association on a broad and enduring scale was 
a task destined for the Roman race, and sublimely was it performed. 
Through the protracted process of conflict between contrasted na- 
tions, and their homogeneous assimilation, the great centre of pro- 
gressive culture was removed another step from the East. More 
skillful in the art of establishing durable political ties, Rome was 
soon surrounded by a social net-work which embraced all the his- 
toric races. It was a vast empire which recombined preceding 
epochs, and presented the spectacle of the most brilliant interlacing 
of universal associations the world has ever seen. 

The first extensive library at Rome, was that of Paulus ^Emilus, 
taken B..C. 167, from Perses, king of Maeedon. The next, and the 
largest in the world, was collected by the Saracens at Cordova, in 
Spain. Books, like every other civilizing element, followed the 
sun. Before Carthage perished, Greek was widely known along 
the Mediterranean shores. Hannibal wrote the history of his wars 
in that language, and through the same luminous medium were the 
maritime adventures of Carthaginian navigators described. But 
as the conquering power of Rome stamped all nationalities with its 
image and superscription, so the superinduction of their language 
extinguished the living idioms of many tribes, or absorbed into 


itself all the sources of expansive and formative life which they -con- 
tained. When sufficiently matured, the Latin language was 
spread over a much larger surface of the world than the Grecian, 
even before the seat of empire was removed to Byzantium. The 
diffusion of a tongue so strongly endowed, and imbued with such 
prolific means of promoting national union, tended powerfully 
toward making mankind human, by furnishing them with a com- 
mon country. To this end, Cincinnatus lived in democratic sim- 
plicity, tilling his own soil, and yet nobler than a lord ; he was as 
competent as he was ready for any public service, but first bound 
the brightest laurel to the plow. Splendors multiplied and power 
increased, while the elder Scipio lay in the bosom of Ennius, Lse- 
lius was flattered by the rumor of his helping Terence, and Virgil 
brightened the purple of Rome's great emperor. Then imperial 
eagles and mailed legions executed the commands of a single indi- 
vidual on the seven hills, and the strength which had been created 
by the republic enabled a tyrant like Tiberius to rivet the chains of 
the world. The era of exalted literary worth, imperfect at the 
best, continued only about one century, and thenceforth till the ex- 
tinction of the language, the progress of corruption was rapid and 
fatal. After the reign of Trajan, all healthful development ceased. 
In the fourth century, such works as those of Ammianus Marcelli- 
rius, Boethius Fronto, Lactantius, and Symmachus, proved that the 
utmost degradation was not yet attained, but these were the last 
vital utterances of the Roman tongue. A few years after, and the 
greater part of the language was either foreign or provincial. Pure 
Latin was forever dead. 

It is painful to contemplate the countless battles and destructive 
wars which so becloud and disfigure the Augustan age. But we 
should recollect that the annals of past nations, with all their end- 
less and apparently useless contests, are but motes in the sun com- 
pared with the great whole of human destiny. Amid the thickest 
gloom, Tacitus, with searching eye, fathomed the mission of his age, 
and saw that the great system of pacification which Octavius Caesar 
promised to the nations was delusive, and that there were yet more 
desolating revolutions to transpire before heaven's highest boon of 
freedom could be enjoyed. The one, imperishable, ever-progressive, 
and all-devouring city, Kome, was to gather all oriental wealth to 


herself; and then, as she had taken the sword to reap with, so 
should the sword become the grand instrument of distribution, and 
the great West be sown with the spoils. The first repulse was at 
Numantia, in Spain, when Scipio saw Roman invincibility broken, 
and the hour sounded when Rome herself must take blows as well 
as give. Gaul cost her fifteen stubborn battles and a most costly 
effusion of blood, which were afterward repaid by perpetual levies 
made on Italian territory and wealth. At this moment, Celts are 
masters in her capital. Cimbri and Teutones, with wives and chil- 
dren, descended upon the prepared field in whole tribes, directly 
the time had come for salutary amalgamation in view of prospective 
destinies ; and the knell of the Augustan age resounded from afar, 
when Varus was defeated by the German Arminius in his native 




ROMAN genius was somewhat inventive, but it was exercised only 
in pandering to sensual gratification. There the plow, the pen, and 
the chisel were all in the hands of slaves. No free-souled Plato 
enchanted appreciative hrongs in the umbrageous walks of a Latin 
Academy, nor was there a Demosthenes to wave the stormy de- 
mocracy into a calm from some sunny hill-side. Very few artists 
of Roman blood possessed talents which might have been sym- 
bolized by a precious ring on their finger, such as Pliny says was 
worn by Pyrrhus, in which nature had produced the figure of 
Apollo and the nine muses. At their birth, the gods of power 
may have descended to offer gifts, but it is certain the gentler 
graces did not attend. 

In reviewing the arts of Rome, as in the corresponding chapter 
on the productions of Greece, we will first, consider their archi- 
tecture, and then the subordinate departments of plastic and 
pictorial works. Roman, Greek, and Egyptian architecture are to 
be viewed as constituting but one vital and continuous trunk ; each 
having grown out of its predecessor, and the last destined to pro- 
duce yet another and, perchance, a nobler growth. 

The Romans were not originally an art-loving people, and never 
did any thing valuable of that kind for themselves. From the 
time of their foundation down to B. c. 167, they were entirely de- 
pendent upon the inhabitants of Etruria, and upon the Greeks from 
that time till their dominion was past. They began by conquest, 
and employed such talents as they could best subdue. The archi- 
tecture which the Etruscans are supposed to have brought with 
them from Asia Minor, derived thither from Assyria, was employed 
as the most powerful principle of support, and the most facile 

ART. 155 

means -of extension. By means of this, the whole city was under- 
mined by drains, inclosed with cuneiform stones, and immense 
fabrics rose on the seven hills. Vastness of size, and the absence 
of elegance, characterized their monuments from the first. A de- 
based type of Doric was their favorite style in the early period, as 
in the great temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, which was adorned with 
figures prepared by the Tuscans in baked clay, or terra-cotta, and, 
when finished, sent to Rome. The use of the arch no doubt intro- 
duced a new and valuable principle of construction, and of great 
utility when consistently employed. But, unfortunately, the Greek 
outline^ were still adhered to mainly, and imposture from the very 
outset ever characterized monumental art in the hands of the Roman 
race. False entablatures were fabricated ; the arch, as a constructive 
element, was concealed ; and as the real formation of the building 
could not be shown, sham features and fanciful ornaments were 
multiplied for the vile ends of disguise. During the great age of 
Grecian art, not a single specimen of concave roofing, scarcely a 
sloping jamb, was produced ; if any approach to either was found, 
it was never in the pure Doric, but only in the semi-Pelasgic Ionic , 
order. It shows how much more Rome was Etruscan than Greece 
Pelasgic, that it was left to that inartistic people to create domical 
buildings, and to carry them to the degree of perfection they did 
in their circular peristylar temples, and more especially in the Pan- 
theon. That edifice, the great master-piece and symbol of its age, 
and which has never been excelled, is at the same time the most 
striking exemplification of the vicious innovation made by com- 
bining rectilinear and circular forms. The Greeks never built round 
temples. The choragic monument of Lysicrates, and tower of the 
Winds, were mere playthings, produced at the latest period of archi- 
tectural excellence ; but even these were fine specimens of original 
invention and truthful execution. It was not at Athens, but at 
Rome, that architects endeavored to enhance their reputation, by 
secreting the real features of their work. 

But when the arch is made the life of the whole building, stand- 
ing out in all its boldness and majesty, the work is infinitely nobler 
than when accompanied by the incongruous Grecian mask. The 
original Etruscans had the independence so to use the grand prin- 
ciple they were the first properly to appreciate? and the creations 


of their hands are of the greatest intrinsic worth. Their roads and 
bridges, tombs and city walls, cloacae and tunnels are so extraor- 
dinary that, after twenty-five centuries, they remain unsurpassed 
even by their gigantic conquerors. They drained marshes, cultivated 
barren plains, and brought Italy from a savage state to that degree 
of civilization which enabled the Romans to profit by, more than 
the great originals who prepared the field of their first occupancy, 
and then were displaced. Such is necessarily the history of human 
progress, when excellence of a given kind is made to yield to some 
other superior force, but which in turn will succumb to the same 
law, and contribute to the greatest good of the greatest number in 
the end. 

It is interesting to reflect on the contrast which existed between 
the architectural principle of two great primordial people in almost 
simultaneous developement. At a time when her existence was 
scarcely known to the refined republics of Greece, the barbarian 
state on the banks of the Tiber began to' employ the mightiest of 
mechanical discoveries, through the means of which vast spaces 
were roofed in with stone or brick, while, through ignorance or 
contempt of it, the most glorious temples of Pentelic marble re- 
mained exposed to shower and sun, or were imperfectly sheltered 
by a covering of wood. The sewers of Rome were a vast improve- 
ment in practical mechanics over the structures at Athens ; and if 
Etruscan genius had been permitted to work out completely its 
own ideas, a simple, noble, and majestic style would doubtless have 
been developed. As it was, their rudest works announced the fun- 
damental principles of excellence and consistency which belonged 
not to edifices of greater ambition ; and Rome had the honor of 
transmitting a prolific germ under the westering sun, where it arose 
and justly claimed to be considered the noblest offspring of the 
human mind. 

When the principle of mutual support was hit upon, and the 
arch sprang self-balanced from impost to impost, the Roman was 
put in possession of an immense advantage over the restricted ca- 
pacities of the Greek entablature. He was no longer tied to the 
width or length of quarried blocks, put in vertical or horizontal 
positions, but could bend more pliant materials in yet firmer con- 
struction upward and outward to an illimitable extent. In its use 

ART. 157 

they soon became the best builders the world had ever seen, and 
the worst architects. The magnitude of their great works, and 
boldness of execution, the vastness of design and mechanical skill, 
displayed in their existing monuments, compel us to admire the con- 
structive talent of Rome, as Greece taught us to revere inventive 
genius. Unyielding energy and graceful elegance are brought 
into striking contrast. On the one hand, we behold the same iron 
greatness, indomitable will, and union of physical with moral vigor, 
combined with indifference to intellectual beauty, which bent alike 
the material and political world beneath the yoke of old Rome. 
On the other hand, in the Grecian temple shines the purest product 
of mind, perfect in symmetry, chaste in ornament, and resplendent 
with all the attractions of immortal youth. The best and only satis- 
factory works of the Romans are those we usually classify under 
the head of engineering ; such as roads t bridges, aqueducts, and 
fortifications, and these are projected on a scale, and executed with 
a solidity, worthy of the greatness of their empire. But in archi- 
tecture properly so called, nothing of their creation is to be ad- 
mired but the colossal mass, and its constructive extravagance. 

As the idea of the beautiful is a principle divinely positive in the 
arts and life of the Greeks, so greatness defined everything in the 
Roman contest for supremacy, and was the central point around 
which developed all the historical impressiveness of their character. 
Of all arts architecture most admits of artificial beauty, which they 
could not confer, and therefore they made it only great. Chaste 
elegance, that genuine sense of the artist, was never born in the 
Roman mind ; but they possessed uncommon force of nature, and 
best succeeded in stamping on their fabrics the air of undaunted 
firmness in the struggle of rude reality. The Roman style is rug- 
ged even to uncouthness, but it has the redeeming quality of actu- 
ally speaking the mind of its authors, the whole course of whose 
history was indomitable will. The conquest of the world, and not 
the perfection of art, was their destiny ; not the sudden achieve- 
ment of a few assaults, the results of which should perish with their 
fortunate leaders, but the gradual advance of a single one, through 
many champions, destined through all vicissitudes to universal em- 
pire. From the first moment Rome appears on the political stage, this 
one great mission is manifest in all her action and arts. Never 


was greatness more truly national, but it was in diametrical contrast 
to the glory of the Grecian race. Individuals stood forth among 
the latter, in every separate department of intellectual proficiency, 
which rendered each a distinct model ; but at Rome, with a longer 
list of great men than any other nation, their personal being is lost 
in that of the state. Camillus, Curius, and Scipio had no aim or 
aspiration of their own ; they existed but to fortify and extend the 
commonwealth in their own generation, and to transmit the like 
calling to their successors. Rome only had a personal existence ; 
her bravest children might perish, but herself, the eternal, was un- 
affected ; others, to whose fortunes she was equally indifferent, 
would arise to take their places in the continuous battle of seven 
centuries to attain the subjugation of the world. It was for Rome 
alone of all nations to return thanks to a vanquished general for 
not having despaired of the republic. She never could produce 
or appreciate mere art and beauty, and whatever of elegant refine- 
ment the Augustan age finally possessed was a borrowed gift which 
the holders knew not how to exercise. 

Of those states which were grouped around the Mediterranean 
sea, Greece was certainly the intellectual mistress ; but the Romans, 
by situation and race, inherited from them all whatever had before 
been accumulated in Asia and Africa, amalgamated the diversified 
elements into one empire of brute force, and thus opened the way 
for a more glorious progress. As a political phenomenon she 
stood alone, an empire aggregated out of discordant materials ; not 
a mere conquest, like that of Alexander, to fall to pieces at the 
death of him who created it, but a coerced combination, substanti- 
ated by steadiness of purpose, and energy in administration, that 
half awed, half conciliated, its subjects in their bonds, and which 
caused the empire, externally, to cohere long after its heart had 
become corrupt, and the system was rotten to the core. The 
wealth of Rome could purchase, and her power could compel, the 
arts of conquered nations ; and her political relations enabled her 
to accumulate in the metropolis those treasures which purer hands 
had created, and which her love of ostentation rendered it desirable 
she should possess. But we believe there is not extant one single 
passage of a Roman author, that shows a knowledge of what true 
art is, or what are its legitimate uses. From the fall of Carthage 

ART. 159 

to the age of Constantine, not one general effort to achieve a noble 
end dignifies the annals of that belligerent people ; but sickening 
scenes of domineering vice succeed each other, till the mind shrinks 
from the revolting picture. As long as they could live in idleness, 
or struggle in battle, as long as the streets were filled with pageants, 
and amphitheatres reeked with martyr-blood, they cared not what 
new tribe was butchered by their master, or how the so-called lib- 
erties of Rome were trampled upon. It is vain to expect beautiful 
art to flourish under such auspices. One shudders at the thought 
that those servile, bloody hands could fashion forms of representa- 
tive excellence, or that minds which revelled in such scenes could 
admire its creations when exhibited before them. 

In attempting to estimate correctly the architecture of Rome, or 
any of her correlative arts, we must apply a mode of criticism 
which is entirely inapplicable to those styles of which we have 
hitherto treated. In Greece, we can contemplate an artistic work 
with the same unmingled delight we feel when studying a work of 
nature ; but, in Rome, there is no one building on which we look 
with unqualified pleasure, none in which imperfections are not ob- 
vious to the most uncritical eye. In every instance, the destroying 
hand of time has been merciful, in hiding defects, and concealing 
vulgarities, so that the chief attractions that remain are the result 
of his hallowing touch, and the halo of association which spreads 
around excrescences that, in their nakedness, would shock and dis- 
gust us. When their artists attempted an exalted range of inven- 
tion, they wandered into exaggerated forms of Titanic strength, and 
here their loftiest flight was terminated. They were blinded to 
the path of spiritual beauty, and in striving to storm heaven, and 
compel divinity, they failed in all their presumptuous endeavors. 
That which was born and slowly nurtured on the banks of the 
Nile and the Euphrates, suddenly sprang into its manhood of 
superlative worth in Greece, and perished at Rome in decrepitude 
and crime. 

Under the reign of the first Tarquin, Rome was fortified, cleansed, 
and somewhat embellished. The low grounds about the Forum 
were drained, which prepared the way for the second Tarquin to 
construct that Cloaca Maxima, which was every way a masterly 
work. Servius Tullius enlarged the city, and completed the temple 


of Jupiter Capitolinus, B.C. 508. As the name imports, it stood on 
the Mons Capitolinus, and embraced four acres of ground. It was 
twice destroyed, and twice rebuilt on the same foundation, by Ves- 
pasian, and Domitian. It is impossible now to trace the architec- 
ture of the Romans during the three hundred and sixty-three years 
which transpired between the time of their last king, and the sub- 
jugation of Greece by that people, in the year B.C. 145. But 
many of their grandest structures yet remain, and there is no great 
difficulty in estimating their comparative value. 

The Doric order of the Greeks had degenerated sadly in style 
and design, before the Romans began to build ; besides, it was ut- 
terly unsuited to their use, since they had neither sculpture nor 
painting with which it should be completed and adorned. But it 
was in keeping with their inartistic character to adopt what they 
could not comprehend, and yet further degrade its already attenu- 
ated columns into a closer resemblance to the wooden posts of 
their Etruscan teachers. No specimen of the Ionic order probably 
existed in Italy, anterior to the epoch of Roman superiority, and 
the imitation of it was, therefore, not attempted till a late period. 
In the times of imperial voluptuousness, however, they did use it to 
some extent, and succeeded in degrading that delicate type of art 
more grossly even than they did the sturdy Doric. Nothing could 
be more lean and ungraceful than the Ionic order became in the 
hands of Roman builders, who, having no skill of their own as 
architects, were successful only in defacing what departed genius 
had produced. 

One of the first things the Romans borrowed from Greece was 
their Corinthian order ; but we neither know when it was intro- 
duced into Rome, nor can we trace its history from the time it was 
lost under Alexander the Great, during the three hundred years 
that transpired before its reappearance in the age of Augustus. To 
the purposes of a people who were as unable to appreciate as to 
execute the Doric, or even the lighter, but not less elegant, Ionic, 
the richness of the Corinthian was admirably adapted. The plan 
of a building, after that order, required little thought, and its exe- 
cution necessitated still less. No delicate spirals, sculpture, or 
painting, was requisite, but every thing was purely mechanical, and 
such as any stone-mason could execute. The pillars could be 

ART. 161 

lengthened, or shortened, at will, the intercolumniations made wide 
or narrow, and be placed at angles, or used in interiors with equal 
facility. No wonder, therefore, that this order became a favorite 
with the Romans ; and though it was brought from Greece, and at 
first executed by imported Attic genius, they so modified its fea- 
tures as to give them a thoroughly Roman aspect, and in the tem- 
ple of Jupiter Stator left the most perfect specimen of monumental 
art Rome ever produced. From bad to worse they proceeded, and 
blended their degraded Ionic, or Corinthian styles, into the hide- 
ousness of their Composite order. For them to make one harmoni- 
ous whole out of two realms of artistic excellence, was not to be 
expected ; they could only combine, without uniting, and join in- 
congruous parts, while not one joint was concealed. To fit two 
into one, as the Greeks had elaborated one out of two, required in- 
vention and taste, of which the Romans had neither ; therefore, in 
all their architecture, they have left some grand works of talent, 
but not one monument that attests the presence of creative and 
delicate genius. 

Rome arrived at the zenith of architectural science, such as it 
was, under the reign of Augustus, as Athens attained infinitely su- 
perior honors under Pericles. But, with the single exception of 
Trajan, not one epoch after that great exponent of his age was 
marked by structural magnificence erected by Romans. When 
Virgil, Homer, Cicero, and Livy, were publishing their works, the 
metropolis was graced with a number of gorgeous temples ; but 
the decline of letters and arts soon followed, and architecture, espe- 
cially, sunk to the last degree. 

The Parthenon and the Pantheon, those two great types of their 
respective ages, might be compared on the score of magnificence, but 
they were utterly devoid of resemblance as masterpieces of art. The 
quadrangular portico of the latter may be presumed to have been 
intended to signify the Union of architectural powers ; without some 
such reason the rectilinear front would not have been stuck before 
a circular edifice, and the egregious anomaly can be accounted for 
on no more plausible ground. That Rome bore the arts, as she did 
the spoils, and even the gods of conquered nations, to her own 
haughty abode, is true ; but it is not less evident that she was desti- 
tute of all the arts and elegances of high civilization till she imported 


them from Greece, and that she had neither definite principles, nor 
correct artistic conceptions, of her own. 

The celebrated temple of all the gods to which we have just 
referred, is supposed to have been erected in the time of the Republic, 
and that the portico was appended A. D. 14, by Agrippa, Of all 
the temples of the Romans, the Pantheon is by far the most original 
and typical, and as a rotunda it is unmatched in the ancient world. 
There is a simplicity about its proportions, the height being exactly 
equal to the width, and in the mode by which it is lighted through 
a single aperture in the roof, which gives it a character of grandeur 
that redeems the clumsiness of detail, which would nearly spoil 
any edifice less grand in conception. That majestic dome is the 
only Roman structure extant that has power to carry the mind 
beyond the imperial mass of crime out of which tower the splendors 
of the Augustan age, and tells us of that grand old Republic whose 
glory elicited the worth and illuminated the figures of subsequent 

Vespasian and his son Titus cumbered the city, and astonished 
the world by such masses of building in amphitheatres and baths 
as will probably never again be reared. The Coliseum, so named, 
according to some, from its gigantic dimensions, but in the more 
probable opinion of others, from its proximity to a colossal statue 
of Nero, is said to have seated 109,000 persons at one time, to view 
at their ease the bloody sports of the arena. The probability of 
this astonishing fact will appear not only from its enormous height 
and great number of ascending stages, but especially from the fact 
that it covers nearly six acres of ground. As the Pantheon was 
the type of the first half of the Augustan age, so does the Coliseum 
represent the later period, and was a fit arena for the degenerate 
progeny, of a brute. It is the best type of the Roman style, con- 
taining at once all its beauties and defects. In size and splendor, 
it comported with the empire at its culminating height, and the 
purpose for which it was built rendered it the favorite building of 
the metropolitan city in the days of its greatest glory. Even now 
its ruins appear as eternal as the Roman name, and present us a 
more adequate picture of the times in which they stood unimpaired 
than the pages of Livy or Tacitus. Despite our better judgment, 
they awe us into admiration of the greatness of that martial people. 

ART. 163 

though, in fact, few buildings were ever more tasteless in design, or 
more faulty in execution. 

Standing within that immense fabric, one cannot but feel that 
Rome, as mistress of the world, with unlimited wealth and power, 
and a proud feeling of conscious pre-eminence, beyond all other 
nations had the greatest means of cultivating the liberal arts. On 
the foundation laid in Greece, she might have built models of useful- 
ness for the world to a boundless extent ; but, as it was, she only 
altered what she had neither the capacity nor disposition to improve, 
and advanced only in the path of degradation till the lowest depth 
was reached. 

The Marmertine prison, begun by Ancus Martius, and completed 
by Servius Tullius, yet remains nearly perfect, and is a good ex- 
ample of primitive masonry. In the time of the Republic, the 
Appian road, used to this day, was commenced by Appius Claudius 
Caecus. The Forums of Julius Caesar, of Augustus, of Nerva, and 
of Trajan, were adorned by many of the noblest structures in Rome. 
But the most useful works were exterior to the city, such as those 
wonderful engineering structures, the aqueducts. Of these, the 
Appian, Martian, and Claudian were most celebrated.' The last- 
mentioned, completed by the emperor Claudius, A. D. 51, and yet 
in existence, is forty-six miles in length ; for thirty-six, it runs under 
ground ; and a series of lofty arches, six miles in length, forms a 
noble feature in the Campagna, still supplying the city with pure 
water. That commenced by Quintus Martius, B. c. 145, was also 
an astonishing undertaking, upwards of sixty miles in length, com- 
prising three separate channels conveying water from different 
sources, and partly carried on an arcade of seven thousand arches, 
seventy feet in height. Neither were these colossal works confined 
to the seat of empire alone, but were executed in the remoter West 
as well, as at Segovia, Metz, and Nimes. As one sees this vast 
supply of pure water still poured from the Sabine hills through the 
ancient aqueducts, he feels how superior were the republican con- 
tributions to the true greatness of Rome, compared with all the 
imperial and later works. 

It should be particularly observed that the Romans emulated 
only the pictorial half of Greek design; and this they greatly 
increased, regarding the refinements of propriety as virtues too 


insipid to be admired. They were evidently pleased with the 
columnar ordinance of a Greek temple, but had no affinity with the 
instinctive sense of propriety so prominent in Athenian architects, 
and could not understand the true purpose of a colonnade. They 
did not look at pillars, entablatures, and pediments as expressions, 
but simply as physical substances, which in their combination's 
formed a picturesque object, which could be used in a scenic display 
of sensual magnificence. Impelled by an insane passion for deco- 
ration, the architects of the Augustan age emblazoned the imperial 
city with a thousand monumental errors which in due time sub- 
sided into effete grossness, and became the compost to nourish an 
entirely new and superior type of art. Such is the wisdom and 
goodness of Providence ! 

Another class of national monuments clearly indicate how the 
Romans were differenced from the Greeks. The history of the 
latter speaks of valor, power, and conquests, as well as that of the 
former people. Where are her architectural monuments of con- 
quered countries and captured spoils ? She had them, but they 
were mere temporary trophies constructed of wood. With glorious 
Greece, the day of triumph was the day of magnanimity, and in 
the presence of great art, which ought never to be desecrated in 
the forms of self glory, she was willing to let the songs of victory 
dwindle speedily into silence. But the Romans were actuated by 
entirely opposite feelings. In a Greek portico columns are native 
to the occasion as the flower to its parent soil ; but in a triumphal 
arch as constructed by the Romans, the columns support nothing 
that is necessary, nor are they in the slightest degree constructive, 
but are forced in with every thing else to typify national ostentation. 
Outward symbols, and inner panels of bas-relief cut in precious 
marbles, as uncouthly executed as the architectural members, illus- 
trate the triumphal procession of a conqueror, leading vanquished 
captives in chains. If you would clearly read the lessons of art, 
that most legible commentary on national character, ascend rever- 
ently the Propylseum in presence of the sculptured Parthenon, and 
then go scan the monstrous arches of Titus, Septimus Severus, and 

The final expression of eastern beauty was embodied in the im- 
mense temple of Diana at Ephesus. Ctesiphon designed it about 

ART. 165 

B. c. 366, all the Asiatic colonies of Greece contributing to the ex- 
pense of its erection. ' It was four hundred years in progress, and was 
burned by Eratostratus, with the object of immortalizing his name, 
on the same night that Alexander was born. Then began the age 
of martial greatness and artistic deterioration which ended not till 
Christianity came to gaze on the desecrated relics of Judea at Rome, 
and passed yet further west through the arches of paganism to 
originate more aspiring and glorious shines. 

The triumphal monuments raised to commemorate the conquests 
of Titus, Trajan, Marcus Aurelius, Severus, and Constantine, toge- 
ther with the Trajan, Antonine, and Theodosian columns, bear 
the principal compositions of national sculpture ; and these, it is 
believed, were mostly executed by Greeks. The coerced hand 
must perform its task, and the results were made to breathe the 
spirit of war, conquest, and universal dominion. But in vain do 
we search for one graceful figure or attractive charm. They are 
mere military bulletins carved in stone, petrified paragraphs of os- 
tentatious success, gross in conception, and pernicious in sentiment. 
They owe no inspiration to the muses, and can claim neither epic 
dignity nor dramatic force. The principal groups are mobs of 
Romans, as insensible to beauty as the armor they bear, and deal- 
ing death to their equally barbarian foes, or driving them in chains 
to the mount Capitoline. Subjects are often chosen still more 
unfit for art, such as soldiers felling timber, carrying rubbish, driv- 
ing piles, building walls, working battering-rams, or dragging 
victims to mortal torture. The expression of their heads is so 
ferocious and savage, as to excite the deepest compassion for the 
weaker combatants who might fall into their hands. 

If we would know the source of all Roman art, plastic as well 
as monumental, we must visit the shores of venerable and plun- 
dered Hellas, with Pausanias and Strabo for our guides. Despite 
desolating domestic wars,the inroads of barbarian hordes, and the 
hostilities of Macedonian and Roman conquerors, innumerable re- 
mains of ancient art are still there to be found. But, as Cicero 
says, that at Syracuse, after the temples had been plundered by 
the hand of Verres, those who guided travellers showed them not 
what still existed there, but enumerated what had been taken 
away, so the contemplation of what had been preserved from those 


times, and what has since been brought to light, reminds us of the 
infinitely greater affluence which, in the age of bloom and vigor, 
had adorned the plains and glorified the cities of Greece. Mum- 
mius completed the conquest of that land B. c. 146, the same 
year that Carthage was razed to the ground, and plundered more 
works of art than all his predecessors put together. He destroyed 
many works through ignorance, and his soldiers were seen playing 
at dice upon one of the most precious pictures of Aristides. 
When Octavius won the victory at Actium, he enlarged the tem- 
ple of Apollo upon that promontory, and expressed his gratitude by 
dedicating the statue of Apollo, by Scopas, in a temple at Rome, 
on the Palatine hill. His declaration that he had found Rome 
of brick, and would leave it of marble, Augustus probably hoped 
to realize after that mode of procedure. Nero threw down the 
statues of victors in Greece out of envy, and illustrated his own 
taste by gilding a statue of Alexander, by Lysippus. Imperial 
vanity and infamous extravagance may be further estimated by his 
having had his portrait painted one hundred and twenty feet high, 
while he wrested five hundred statues from Delphi alone to adorn 
his Golden House. The amount of sculpture accumulated at 
Rome must have been immense. Marcus Scaurus decorated his 
temporary theatre with three thousand statues. Two thousand were 
taken from the Volscians ; Lucullus captured many ; and, after the 
conquest of Acaia, Mummius filled the city. Three thousand 
were added from Rhodes, and not fewer from Olympia, beside a multi- 
tude from Delphi and Athens. The imperial palaces and baths of 
Dioclesian and Caracalla, mausolea of Augustus, and of Hadrian, 
were stored with vast treasures stolen from rightful proprietors, or 
executed by inferior sculptors, beside rows of plastic art which 
lined the Flaminian way. But neither their abundance nor mag- 
nificence could produce that vivid impression on the refined which 
never failed to result from the study of pure taste and skill in their 
native home. 

Literature and art were never primary pursuits with the Romans, 
but secondary only and subordinate, adopted without fervor, and 
employed for their one great intent, the extension and consolidation 
of a martial empire. The honors which Greece bestowed on artists 
and authors, Rome gave only to soldiers of high or low degree. 

AKT. 167 

The former was forced into a provincial relation to the latter, but 
Home was never more than a mental and artistic colony to the 
intellectual people thus reduced to political subjection. Grecian 
invention continued its admirable productions under the emperors 
of the new West, and at the same time furnished them literature, 
science, philosophy, religion, and the arts. Menelaus and Patro- 
cles, Antigone and Hsemon, Psetus and Arria, Orestes and Electra, 
the Toro Farnese, and Laocoon, were sculptured between the mid- 
dle of the Roman Republic and the last of the Caesars. Before the 
lowest debasement of art had arrived, some few tolerable basso- 
relievos were also produced from Homer and the ancient trage- 
dians, and were among the latest creations of free and legitimate 
art. Then came the cumbrous pediments, imperial statues, consular 
portraits, gems and coins, wrought by the dependent Greek, to feed 
the impious ambition or ignorant vanity of his insolent master 
during the latter ferocities of the empire. 

When the great depositories of art in Greece and her western 
colonies fell under the control of the Romans, the villas of the rich 
in the metropolis and chief cities were converted into great halls of 
art. Earlier, martial Rome, which, according to the expression of 
Plutarch, knew no ornaments but arms and spoils, furnished to the 
unwarlike and luxurious spectators no pleasing or unalarming spec- 
tacle. " To melt brass, and breathe into it the soul of art, or to 
create living forms in marble," the Roman had not learned. "His 
art was government and war." Etrurian artists had furnished him 
with what religion required, of wood or clay, sufficient for all 
the devotional sensibility he possessed. But after Marcellus had 
turned the rude minds of the citizens to the admiration of the 
works he obtained by conquest over Syracuse, all military leaders 
became anxious to add splendor to their triumphs by trophies of art. 
Thus, in the course of a century, most of the finest art extant tra- 
veled to Rome, at first a metropolitan decoration, but anon, an 
ambitious ornament to private dwellings. At length, the common 
soldier learned to despise the temples of the gods ; to confound 
what was sacred with what was profane ; to covet fine sculptures 
and rich furniture, and to nourish a mercenary ambition, which 
became a new pretext for violence in war, and extravagance in 
peace. As in the Republic, Lucullus and others regarded the 


masterpieces of the Greeks as the fairest embellishments of their 
rural mansions, so the imperial Caesars grasped at all within reach, 
and never had enough. Soon there dwelt in Rome as many statues 
as men ; and the treasures disinterred in modern times at Tibur 
and Tusculum, on the Alban Mount, at Antium, and elsewhere in 
the neighborhood of the original seat of power, indicate that the 
surrounding region was not less rich than the capital itself. But a 
profound sense of art was never created at Rome, and, notwith- 
standing all the variety of excellence they brought together from 
afar, not one distinguished Roman artist lives on the record of 

History testifies that the carrying away works of art appeared as 
robbery of sanctuaries in mythological times, as base plundering in 
the Persian invasions, and to be excused only on the score of pecu- 
niary want in the Phocian war. But under the Romans, this 
became a regular recompense, which they appropriated on account 
of their victories. For instance, when Corinth was destroyed by 
the army under Lucius Mummius, its most precious treasure of 
sculptures and paintings was preserved. These he resolved to send 
to Rome ; but the orders which he issued on the occasion curiously 
illustrate the artistic taste and capacities of the age. " If any of 
these spoils," he said to those who were to transport them, " be lost 
or injured, you shall repair or replace them at your own expense." 
The successors of Augustus sometimes patronized sculpture, but no 
native merit was produced. Nero, somewhat educated in art by 
his tutor, Seneca, ordered a statue of himself, a hundred and ten 
feet high, to be cast by Zenodorus, and virtually stole at one time 
five hundred statues from Delphi, among which, as is supposed, 
were the Apollo Belvidere and Fighting Gladiator. According to 
Winklemann, the encouragement which the Antonines gave to the 
arts was only that apparent revivescence which is the precursor of 
death. Under the brutal Commodus, the arts, which the school of 
Adrian had freely nourished, sunk, like a river which is lost in a 
subterranean channel, to rise again further on with a wider and 
richer flow. 

Down even to the reigns of Julian and Theodosius, Greek artists 
continued to repair to their mother country to copy the two great 
masterpieces of Phidias, his Jupiter at Elis, and his Minerva at 

ART. 169 

Athens. And it is pleasing to see how Horace entered into the 
spirif of ancient art, when he declared to his friend Censorinus that 
he would give him all the riches of the world, provided he had but 
the chief productions of Parrhasius and Scopas. Cicero also 
entered into like feelings, when. he desired to collect together the 
works of Greek artists, declaring that this was "his greatest 
delight." He tells his friend Atticus that if he had but his collec- 
tion he should exceed Crassus in riches, and would despise all the 
villas and territories that might be offered to him. The real love 
of art in the vain orator, however, was very moderate, as he was 
afraid to be held by the judges as a connoisseur. 

The public games of Greece were peaceful and intellectual, 
adapted as much to invigorate moral strength as to develop manly 
beauty. Those of Rome were exhibitions, not of mental, but of 
physical energy, and were both sanguinary and brutalizing. Hie' 
former were often theatrical to an exalted degree, but never amphi- 
theatrical, as was always the case with the latter. The tragic feel- 
ing of Greece is represented by the sculptured grief of Niobe, that 
of Rome by the death-struggles which distort the features and 
muscles of Laocoon. The latter work, together with the Tauro 
Farnese, the Dying Gladiator, the Gladiator of Agesias, and several 
kindred works, were all executed in the Augustan age, some of 
them at a late period. The Meleager and Mercury of the Vatican, 
the Venus of Capua, and the Ludovisi Mars, must also be regarded 
as the productions of Greek art, so modified as to please Roman 
taste. What a radical change was wrought in sculpture, in its 
westward progress, is best exemplified in the colossal Nile and 
Tiber of the Vatican and Louvre. It is obvious that these repre- 
sentations of river-gods are based on that original Greek type 
which was so nobly embodied in the Hissus of the Parthenon ; the 
general reclining attitude is the same, but the whole motive of the 
art is altered ; new symbols and accessories are added, to express 
an inferior idea in more copious but less eloquent language. The 
same general statement applies to the numerous allegorical figures 
which are preserved in Italian galleries, with the collateral illustra- 
tion of Roman coins. 

Augustan art was formed from Greek models, in the same time 
and mode as Augustan literature, with one important exception. 



The latter was engrafted on an original stock of ballad-poetry, the 
process of adaptation being their own work ; but Greek arr\vas 
transferred rather than engrafted, the cultivation of the exotic being 
entrusted to strangers and hirelings. Augustan letters were formed 
by the Romans themselves, Augustan sculptures by Greek artists 
working under Roman dictation. The monuments of Rome afford 
the best examples on a great scale of the historic style of sculpture 
peculiar to that people, which is valuable in reference to their por- 
trait art, a collateral department, such as biography is to general 
history. The series of busts in the Vatican, the Capitol, the Museo 
Borbonico, and at Florence, show how successfully this class of art 
was cultivated down to a very late period of the empire. The 
Roman sarcophagi form a distinct order of monuments, and are also 
of the later period. The bas-reliefs with which they are decorated 
generally, are borrowed from Greek myths, such as the story of 
Niobe, but in treatment, the delicate wisdom of the original is 
gradually ignored. 

When Greece fell, there were but three superior artists, Lysippua 
the sculptor, Apelles the painter, and Pyrgoteles the gem-engraver. 
The first introduced a new style of art, which foretokened the age 
already begun. He made his figures larger than life, and the huge 
instead of the beautiful followed evermore, till the empire of force 
had in turn perished. A hundred colossi of the sun arose in the 
single island of Rhodes, the most famous of which, by Chares of 
Lindus, was completed B. c. 280. The imposing group of Dirce 
and the Bull, executed by artists born at Tralles, is another expres- 
sion of that time. But the most significant symbol of the Augustan 
age and its spirit is that famous work made by three Rhodian sculp- 
tors, the Laocoon. It was probably executed about the time of 
Titus, as Pliny first saw it in the palace of that emperor, and 
referred to it as a novelty. In that group, violent action and 
intense suffering are shown in the same instant simultaneously ; we 
pity the younger son, tremblingly hope for the elder, and despair 
of all three as that horrid shriek rings from the distorted mouth 
of the father, maddened by agony into a forgetfulness of his own 
offspring writhing with him in serpent-folds, and fatally crushed by 
the meshes of a living net. What the transcendent ^statue by 
Phidias was to the majestic Jupiter of Homer, the sculptured 

ART. 171 

Laocoon was to the description by Virgil, but in a very inferior 
degree. From the time the haughty dwellers on mount Capitoline 
had been obliged to adopt old Etruscan statues to perpetuate their 
own historical events, the Romans never excelled in noble art. It 
was a characteristic fact, that Clodius, after the banishment of 
Cicero, on the ruins of his palace dedicated to Liberty a statue 
which in its primary use had represented a Boeotian courtesan. 
To the end, that rough race never possessed the enlightened eyes, 
purged of their blinding film, like those of Diomed, to discern the 
fine texture of celestial forms, or to admire their charms. 

Roman painting will require but a brief notice. Early in the 
Augustan age, easel-painting was neglected, and wall-decoration 
came into special favor, as the handmaid of luxury. In the time of 
Vespasian, according to Pliny, painting was a perishing art, and 
with the most splendid colors nothing worth speaking of was pro- 
duced. Scenography, originally derived from Asia Minor, was 
cultivated at Rome, by Ludius. He executed, as room decorations, 
villas and porticoes, artificial gardens, parks, streams, canals, and 
marine views, enlivened with comical figures .in all sorts of rural 
occupations. The perspective theatrical paintings, by which the 
Greek drama was illustrated, gradually extended the art of land- 
scape, since it increased the demand for a deceptive imagination of 
inanimate objects, such as buildings, woods, and rocks. This was 
imitated by the Romans, and transferred from "the playhouse to 
their halls adorned with pillars, where the long surfaces of the wall 
were at first covered with pictures in small, and afterwards with 
wide prospects of towns, shores of the sea, and extensive pastures 
upon which the cattle are feeding. In the time of the later Ca3sars, 
landscape painting became a distinct branch ; but, according to 
the specimens preserved to us in Herculaneum, Pompeii, and Sta- 
bia3, these pictures of nature were more allied to private villas and 
artificial gardens, than to broad views of the open country. 

In the age of Hadrian, painting flourished to a limited degree. 
^Etion made a composition of Alexander and Roxane, with Erotes 
busied about him in the king's armor, which Lucian greatly ad- 
mired. But painting continued to sink into a mere daubing of 
colors, and was commonly an occupation of slaves to adorn walls 
in the most expeditious manner, according to the caprice of taste- 


less tyrants. Foreign artists were often employed servilely to copy 
the old masters ; while the purity of native taste was exemplified 
in one of the annual ceremonies at Rome, which consisted in fresh 
painting the statue of Jupiter, in the capitol, with bright vermilion. 
The time delighted in tricks of all kinds. In the golden house of 
Nero, a Pallas, by Fabullus, was admired, which looked at every 
one who directed his eyes toward her ; and the picture of the ty- 
rant himself, one hundred and twenty feet high, on canvass, is justly 
reckoned by Pliny as one of the fooleries of the age. 

Ancient coins throw much light upon Roman art. They make 
us feel the reality of great events connected with the rise and fall 
of the empire more vividly than any written records. The annual 
coinage, bearing the names and portraits of leading personages, in- 
deed, formed the most legible and enduring " state gazette," con- 
tinued without interruption from Pacuvius, B. c. 200, who was an 
artist as well as poet, down to the fifth century. In this depart- 
ment of Roman art, as in every other, the progress of growth, de- 
cline, and decay, is distinctly marked. The last coins, like the last 
temples, statues, and pictures, foretokening Gothic art, were as 
marked features of transition, as those which were stamped on 
Grecian genius as it migrated into Rome. Starting from the heart 
of the Etruscan nation, which was partly of an oriental derivation, 
art in the Augustan age ran through its second cycle, correspond- 
ant to that of the Periclean, showing that the evolution which in 
Greece had been illustrated in consummate statues, was strictly 
normal, and the same which in Etruria, at the outset, dawned in 
drawings upon vases. The strong influence which Assyria had 
thrown over some parts of Lydia, in Asia Minor, was carried far 
west by the Etruscans, who quitted -that district and settled in the 
north-west of Italy. They were celebrated workers in clay and 
bronze ; and the ornaments and figures wrought by them on 
these materials are identical with the figures upon the bronze 
bowls and plates recently discovered by Mr. Layard at Nineveh. 
The Etruscans were well acquainted with agriculture, as well as 
many other practical arts, and knew how to work the iron of Elba. 
Thus it was that Providence placed the formative element of the 
Augustan age at the right time and in the right place to execute 
its mission under the wisdom of a divine intent. 

A B T. 173 

When the appropriate field had been cleared, and all fitting 
agencies were prepared, the advent of Christianity rendered possi- 
ble the full development of the" human soul, and a corresponding 
improvement of noble art. The preliminary throes of a heavenly 
birth transpired under the last decay of paganism, the impressions 
of -which are preserved in the primitive sculptures, mosaics, and 
illuminations of the yet persecuted church. In the catacombs un- 
der Rome are numerous works of the late Augustan period, not to 
be exceeded in interest by any other remains of past ages. Many 
entire days may be well spent in that sanctuary of antiquity, where 
Paganism and Christianity confront each other engaged in mortal 
conflict. Great numbers of the vestiges of that struggle aad aus- 
picious triumph have been taken from the subterranean chapels 
and tombs, and are now affixed to the walls of the Vatican, where 
they furnish abundance of enjoyment and reflection to one studious 
of the great unfoldings of the divine purpose in human progress. 
These " sermons in stones " are addressed to the heart, not to the 
head ; and possess great value from being the creation of the purest 
portion of the " catholic and apostolic church" then extant. In 
all the Lapidarian Gallery, there are no prayers for the dead, nor to 
the apostles or early saints ; and, with the exception of such relics 
as " eternal sleep," " eternal home," etc., not one expression con- 
trary to the plain sense of Scripture. This is the more remarkable 
when it is known that the catacombs remained open during half of 
the fifth century. 

That Mosaic should be popular with the Romans was natural, 
since their thoughts, mythology, social and philosophical systems, 
exhibited only one vast composition made up of precious fragments 
plundered from the East, and maintained in a gorgeous form on 
their grand system of forcible compact and consolidated union. 
Pliny states that Scylla was the first Roman who caused stone-laid 
work to be produced, about B. c. 80. Many elegant spoils from 
Greece were deposited in the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, and 
were probably adopted as decorations, which created in the minds 
of luxurious and ostentatious patricians an anxiety for other magni- 
ficent embellishments, and thus occasioned Mosaic. The most no- 
ble specimen of it now extant is the splendid pavement of the 
Pantheon, the historical worth of which is commensurate with its 


great superficial extent. Porphyry, Giallo Antico, and Pavonaz- 
zetto are the principal marbles employed, and they are arranged 
simply in round and square slabs. *Fino fragments have been found 
in tho Baths of Caracalla, and are preserved, with numerous other 
specimens, in the great Mosaic depository of the Vatican. The 
most generally known, and by far the most exquisite example of 
this art still existing, is the picture usually called " Pliny's Doves." 
It is in the museum of the Capitol, and represents a metal bason, on 
the edge of which four doves are sitting ; one of them is stooping 
to drink, and not only the shadow cast by it, but even the reflec- 
tion of part of the head in the water, is beautifully shown. The 
vast accumulation of precious material after each campaign greatly 
enhanced the passion for Mosaic decoration, and it was copiously 
produced till the end of the second century. The church early 
adopted this art for sacred symbolic purposes, and during the me- 
diaeval period, carried it to the highest perfection. The only speci- 
men of primitive work now extant, is the curious incrustation which 
lines the vaulting of the Baptistery erected by Constantine, dedi- 
cated to Santa Constanza, and which represents a vine covering, 
as it were, the whole roof. 

Illuminated books were known to the pagan Romans, and were 
at a later period made in a most attractive style by Christian zeal. 
In the time of Pliny, written volumes were decorated with pictures ; 
and Dibdin refers to a collection of seven hundred notices by Varro, 
of eminent men, illustrated by portraits. This book appears to 
have been seen by Symmachus at the end of the fourth century, 
who speaks of it in one of his letters. The Vatican Virgil has but 
little ornament ; and of enriched initials, or ornamental borders, the 
early Latin MSS. have none. In the fifth century, a great improve- 
ment began, which will be noticed in its proper place. The process 
of laying on and burnishing gold and silver appears to have been 
familiar to the oriental nations from a remote antiquity. There is 
no instance of its use in the Egyptian papyri, yet it is not unrea- 
sonable to believe that the Greeks acquired the art from the East, 
and conveyed it westward with all other elements of artistic worth. 
Among the later generations of that people, the usage became so 
common that the scribes or artists in gold constituted a distinct 
class. The luxury thus introduced to the Romans was augmented 

ART. 175 

by writing on vellum, stained of a purple or rose color, the earliest 
instance of which is recorded by Julius Capitolinus, in his life of 
the emperor Maximinus the younger, to whom his mother made a 
present of the works of Homer, written on purple vellum, in letters 
of gold. This was at the commencement of the third century. 
Thence a rapid decline succeeded until, under the auspices of rising 
Christianity, this beautiful art rose to the highest point Before the 
fourth century ended, St Jerome tells us its use was more frequent, 
but always applied to copies of the Bible, and devotional books, 
written for the libraries of princes, and the service of monasteries. 

Thus have we briefly sketched the arts of that people who, at 
all periods, and in every form, have built out of ruins. A band of 
robbers found on the banks of the Tiber a city abandoned by its 
builders, and which they chose to inhabit. But outcasts as they 
were, they brought few women with them, and these they took by 
violence from the peaceful Etruscans. No attractive house, nor 
ample temple, was erected by the Romans for five hundred years, 
so barbarous was the genius of the people. Corinth and Syracuse, 
two most magnificent cities, left no impression on their conquerors ; 
their drinking vessels were of gold, while their temples and deities 
were of uncouth stone, or brittle clay. Nero built an immense 
palace, gilded in the most costly manner throughout But the 
masters of the world, trembling to enter it, commanded its destruc- 
tion, and removed the works of Phidias and Praxiteles, of Scopas 
and Lysippus, of Apelles and Zeuxis, and, in a fearful conflagration, 
poured forth torrents of precious metals from its ceilings, its arches, 
and its architraves, in order to construct out of its scathed kitchens 
and stables a bath and amphitheatre for the Roman people. They 
did less in their city than in their colonies, for the ultimate welfare 
of humanity. The most majestic and solid specimen of engineering 
was the bridge with which they spanned the Danube ; and the 
grandest of their works was the wall they erected against the Cale- 
donians. About B.C. 200, the Chinese completed their immense 
wall, to fence themselves in ; and the Romans would fain ward the 
northern barbarians off". But Providence, leaving the effete East 
to its chosen isolation, with irresistible movement sweeps outward 
on the broad current of progressive civilization, and lifts the curtain 
of a new act in the still more glorious West 



WE are told by Livy that, soon after his disappearance from 
among men, the spirit of Romulus revisited the distinguished sena- 
tor, Proculus Julius, and addressed him as follows : " Go, tell my 
countrymen it is the decree of heaven, that the city I have founded 
shall become the mistress of the world. Let her cultivate assidu- 
ously the military art. Then let her be assured, and transmit the 
assurance from age to age, that no mortal power can resist the 
arms of Rome." Strict and persevering obedience to this counsel 
eventually caused that colossal power to extend itself from Siberia 
to the Great Desert, and from the Ganges to the Atlantic. But it 
would be in vain to look to such a people, actuated by martial am- 
bition only, for the general and successful cultivation of science. 
Regal, republican, and imperial Rome, was undoubtedly a perfect 
model of a predatory state, but the last to excel in refined and eru- 
dite thought. 

The old Romans were mucn attached to agriculture, as a general 
pursuit. It was only at a late period that commerce, literature, 
art, and science, were introduced among them, and then only in a 
subordinate place. Among the Greeks, most proper names, and 
almost all the most distinguished, were derived from gods and heroes, 
and bore a significancy both poetical and glorious. Among the 
Romans, on the contrary, the names of many of their most distin- 
guished families, such as Fabius, Lentulus, Piso, Cicero, and many 
others, were taken from vegetable productions, and the occupations 
of agriculture. Others, as Secundus, Quintus, Septimus, and Octa- 
vius, are derived from the numbers of the old popular reckoning. 
But mathematics never flourished with that people, while agricul- 
ture was a science in which they first and chiefly excelled. It was 


one of the very few departments in which Rome produced original 
writers. The language and scie"nce of conquered peoples were gen- 
erally despised as barbarian, but renderings into the Latin were 
sometimes made, as when the writings of the Punic Mago upon 
agriculture were translated at the command of the senate of Rome. 
The Etruscan race were early subject to the Grecian influence, 
through a current of Tyrrhenian Pelasgi, and they continued the 
westward development of science thence received, by penetrating 
the north of Italy, and across the Alps. The influence which they 
exerted upon the political character and scientific progress of the 
ancient Romans, was very great. The impression which the latter 
left upon universal civilization, vastly extended the scope of thought, 
but very much of it grew out of a particular element in primitive 
Etruscan character. This consisted in their close intimacy with 
natural phenomena. Many of their most sagacious minds were 
organized into a college, who gave themselves to divination and 
the observation of meteorological occurrences. The Fulgatores, or 
interpreters of the lightning, occupied themselves with the direction 
of the electric fluid, and with turning it aside, or drawing it down. 
An account is given by Father Angeto Cortenovis, perhaps fabu- 
lous, that the tomb of Lars Porsena, described by Varro, was fur- 
nished with a brazen helmet, and a brazen chain appended, which 
formed a collector of atmospheric electricity, or a conductor of 
lightning. If such was the fact, or, as Michaelis believed, the me- 
tallic points upon Solomon's temple were for the like purpose, they 
must have been formed at a time when mankind possessed the 
remnants of an ante-historical knowledge of natural philosophy, 
which was speedily beclouded to be unfolded under fairer auspi- 
ces. That the connection between lightning and conducting 
metals was early discovered, is clear from the notice taken of it by 
Ctesias. He said, " He has two iron swords in his possession, pres- 
ents from the king (Artaxerxes Mnemon) and his mother (Pary- 
satis) ; these swords, if planted in the earth, turned aside clouds, 
hail, and lightning. He has himself seen their effect ; for the king 
had made the experiment twice before his eyes." Humboldt says, 
"The close attention paid by the Tuscans to the meteorological 
processes of the atmosphere, and to every thing which varied from 
the ordinary course of nature, makes it certainly a subject of regret 



that none of the lightning-books have come down t*. as. The epochs 
of the appearance of great comets, or the fall of meteoric stones, 
and the crowds of falling stars, were, without doubt, as clearly laid 
down in them, as in the more ancient Chinese annals used by Ed- 
ward Biot." Creuzer, in his Symbols and Mythology of the An- 
cient Nations, has attempted to show that the peculiarity of the 
country in Etruria produced the characteristic direction of the mind 
of its inhabitants. There is a strong analogy between the power 
over lightning, attributed to Prometheus, and the wonderful pre- 
tended attraction of the lightning of the Fulgatores. But there 
was no science in the operation, which consisted in exorcising only, 
and possessed nothing more effective or practical than the carved 
ass's head, by means of which, according to their religious customs, 
they defended themselves during a thunder-storm. Otfrisd Muller 
states that, according to the complex Etrurian theory of Auguries, 
the soft, warming lightning, which Jupiter sent down, by his own 
authority and power, was distinguished from the more violent elec- 
trical mode of castigation, which, according to the constitution of 
the heavens, he only dared send down after a previous consultation 
with all the twelve gods. Lightning from the higher cloud-region 
they carefully distinguished from those flashes which Saturn caused 
to arise from below, and which they called terrestrial lightning, 
a distinction much more intelligently discriminated by modern 
science. After an imperfect but continuous mode, complete regis- 
ters of the daily condition of the weather were established. 

The Aquileges, those who were specially skilled in drawing forth 
springs of water and examining its properties, originated a some- 
what critical investigation of geological phenomena, such as the 
strata of rocks and the inequalities' of earth-formations. Diodorus 
extols the Tuscan race as a people addicted to the study of nature. 
They were undoubtedly, in their day, the most efficient promoters 
of physical knowledge, and laid the foundation of science for the 
Augustan age. 

The knowledge of a great part of the surface of the eastern 
world was first attained by the conquests made by Alexander. 
These occurred at a time when the Grecian language and philosophy 
were so widely spread, that scientific observation and the systematic 
arrangement of general phenomena, could be rendered most lucid 


to the mind, and most profitable to the world. By another most 
providential coincidence, at the moment when an immense store of 
new materials was thus gathered for study and use, the great 
Stagirite was at hand to direct inquiry into the facts of natural 
history, with a comprehensive sagacity never before known. Having 
explored every possible depth of speculative investigation, and 
spread out all realms in a map of practical improvement, bounded 
and defined by definite scientific language, he gave the immense 
treasure to the West, then just prepared for the donation. Anterior 
to the Augustan age, science had accumulated many materials, but 
could hardly be said to exhibit a growing body of determinate 
results. The Alexandrian school opened on the eastern edge of a 
new cycle, whose unfolding was manifestly one of great advance- 
ment. It was among the Romans that the idea of progressive 
science was first conceived and declared as a law. Pliny would 
not despair of seeing proficiency perpetually increased. Seneca, 
also, felt assured that the time would come when what was now 
dark would be luminous, and that which is now most admired 
would be entirely eclipsed by infinitely more resplendent discoveries. 
Such hopeful sentiments show a confidence of the increase of 
knowledge, which was not expressed in earlier times. It is 
especially to be observed that this anticipation, both in Pliny and 
Seneca, was prompted by the discoveries at that time made in 
astronomy ; which, as Whewell remarks, was " the only progressive 
science produced by the ancient world." At a later period, Ovid, 
in the chorus to his Medea, expressed a like confidence in regard to 
maritime discovery. But the prospect of scientific progress was 
not connected with much, if any, general improvement of mankind, 
even in the estimation of those who entertained the fondest expec- 
tations. It must, therefore, have afforded some consolation to those 
who lived when the old world was decomposing, and when its heart, 
mind and soul, all bore tokens of a great and radical change, to gaze 
on any bright gleams which science revealed through the clouds of 
the future. 

The Ptolemies, by their love for the sciences, their splendid 
establishments for promoting intellectual development, and their 
unwearied endeavors to extend the advantages of commerce, gave 
an impulse to the study of nature and the knowledge of geography, 


such as had not existed in any preceding nation. Even before the 
first Punic war had shaken the power of Carthage, Alexandria had 
become the greatest emporium of trade and thought in the world. 
When martial force had laid the broad foundations of empire far 
down the track of national destinies, Egypt became a province, and 
all its immensely valuable attainments in science were transferred to 
the Romans. As the companions of Alexander had become 
acquainted with the monsoon winds, which render such powerful 
assistance in voyages between the east coast of Africa and the west 
coast of Asia, so the CaBsars, in due time and order, were put in 
possession of means by which they might compass the western 
shores of Europe. Thus greater portions of the globe have become 
accessible, the nations have been drawn together more closely, and 
the sphere of human knowledge has been progressively enlarged. 
This direction of Greek thought, which was productive of such 
grand results, and had been so long in a quiet state of preparation, 
was manifested in the noblest way at the era of transition from 
Pericles to Augustus. Its extension at the time of the Lagides may 
be considered as a very important step in the general knowledge of 
nature ultimately attained. 

Before the appearance of Aristotle, the phenomena of nature 
had not been studied by the aid of acute observation, and for their 
interpretation they were surrendered to obscure guesses and 
arbitrary hypotheses. But in the new age which succeeded, much 
more careful attention to empirical analysis was manifested. Facts 
were sifted, and synthetical results obtained. The securer road of 
induction was opened, and speculations in natural philosophy 
assumed more and more the form and worth of practical knowledge. 
An ardent desire to study facts succeeded the power and passion to 
amass them, and a science was born of nobler aspect than a merely 
spiritless and empty erudition. The peculiar character of Ptole- 
mean scholasticism preserved itself until near the fall of the western 
empire, and formed an all-prevailing element in Roman science. 
Much assistance was derived from the great collections originally in 
the museum at Alexandria, and the two libraries at Bruchium and 
at Rhacotis. Connected with the first was a large body of learned 
men, whose diversified talents and universal knowledge enabled 
them to generalize all the elements that had been agglomerated for 


the advantage of a yet more critical age. The library of Bnichium 
was the oldest, and suffered at the burning of the fleet in the time 
of Julius Caesar. The library of Rhacotis made a part of the 
Serapeum, where it was united to the museum. The collection of 
Pergamus was, by the generosity of Anthony, incorporated with the 
library of Rhacotis. 

Doubtless the germ of all subsequent progress in the natural 
sciences was to be found in Plato's high regard for the development 
of a mathematical mode of thought, and in the system which Aris- 
totle set forth respecting all organized beings. These were the 
guiding-stars which conducted all great masters of learning amid 
fanatical errors for many centuries, and prevented the utter loss of 
a scientific method. Step by step the progress went forward. 
Eratosthenes of Gyrene projected a systematic "Universal Geo- 
graphy ;" and, outstripping the " System of Floodgates," by Strato 
of Lampsacus, followed the rush of waters through the Dardanelles, 
and went forth in thought beyond the Pillars of Hercules to 
attempt the solution of the problem concerning the similarity of 
the level of the ocean around all the continents. A corresponding 
illustration of the intellectual activity of the age appeared in the 
attempt to determine, by approximation, the circumference of the 
earth. The data arrived at by Bematist, were indeed incomplete ; but 
the device to raise himself from the narrow segment of his native 
land, measure adjacent degrees, and finally obtain a knowledge of the 
siz6 of the entire globe, is a striking index to the Augustan age. 

But the splendid progress made in the scientific acquaintance 
with the celestial bodies at that time, is most worthy of note. 
Aristyllus and Timochares determined the position of fixed stars. 
Aristarchus of Samos, the cotemporary of Cleanthes, was acquainted 
with the ancient Pythagorean ideas, attempted to explore thoroughly 
the construction of the universe, and guessed at the double movement 
of the earth round its axis, as well as its progress round a central 
sun. Seleucus of Euthrse, a century later attempted to confirm 
the opinion of the Samian writer ; and Hipparchus, the founder 
of scientific astronomy, became the greatest original observer of 
the stars in the whole of antiquity. He was the first author of astro- 
nomical tables, and the discoverer of the precession of the equinoxes. 
His own observations were made at Rhodes, and upon comparing 


them with those of Timochares and Aristyllus, he was led to this 
great discovery. In the same hands, celestial phenomena were 
first employed to determine the geographical position of certain 
places. The new map of the world, constructed by Hipparchus, 
touched upon eclipses, and the measurement of shadows, for the de- 
termination of the geographical latitudes and longitudes. Im- 
provements cluster, and a new aid of great value soon appeared, 
in the hydraulic clock of Ctesibius, which measured time much 
more accurately than the Clypsydra, or water-glasses, formerly in 
use. For a corresponding improvement in the determination of 
space, better instruments were invented from time to time, dating 
from the ancient sun-dial and the scapha3 to the discovery of the 
Astrolabes, the solstitial rings, and the dioptric lines. Wider views 
and keener organs were afforded to increased scientific skill, which 
gradually led to a closer acquaintance with the loftiest planetary 
movement. But the knowledge of the absolute size, form, and 
physical properties of these bodies, made no progress whatever, 
that being reserved as the leading glory of a posterior age. 

The Augustan period, though it attained not to true astronomi- 
cal science in the highest form, was yet remarkable in some depart- 
ments of mathematics. Euclid, Appollonius of Perga, and 
Archimedes, were geometers of the highest class, who were inter- 
mediate between Plato and the Menaschmean figures and the age 
of Kepler and Tycho, Galileo and Laplace. 

Archimedes was born B. c. 287, and is said to have been related 
by blood to Hiero, king of Syracuse. He was too late to associate 
with Euclid, but found a friend and genial companion in Conon, 
another distinguished mathematician of that age. In his re- 
searches Archimedes used " his beloved Doric dialect," and contri- 
buted much to the improvement of mathematical science. His 
first discoveries related to the area of the parabola, the surface and 
solidity- of the sphere and cylinder, the properties of spheroids, 
and of that spiral which is called indifferently the spiral of Conon 
or of Archimedes. The speculations respecting the sphere and 
cylinder appear to have interested this great man the most, for he 
wished to have his grave marked by these solids, and was the first 
mathematician who caused his scientific discoveries to be inscribed 
on his tomb. Of his astronomical studies, none have reached our 


times, excepting the method of determining the sun's apparent 
diameter. Cicero speaks of an orrery, as it would be called in 
modern times, made by Archimedes, and exhibiting the motion of 
the sun, the moon, and the planets ; which he uses as an argument 
against those who deny a Providence. "Shall we," says he, 
" attribute more intelligence to Archimedes for making the imita- 
tion, than to nature for framing the original 3" 

Perhaps the most remarkable of his discoveries were those he 
made in mechanics, and their adaptation by him to practical use. 
The lever, the wheel and axle, the polyspact or pulley, the wedge, 
and the screw were known to him. He seems to have turned 
much of his attention to the construction of powerful machines, 
and boasted of the unlimited extent of his art in the well-known 
expression, " Give me a spot to stand on, and I will move the 
earth." He is said to have enabled Hiero, through a mechanical 
contrivance, to push a large ship into the sea, by his individual 
strength. His application was so intense that he required to be 
reminded of the common duties of eating and drinking by those 
about him ; and while his servants were placing him in his bath, 
he would still continue drawing mathematical diagrams with any 
materials within his reach. "So that," according to Plutarch, 
" this abstraction made people say, and not unreasonably, that he 
was accompanied by an invisible siren, to whose song he was 

By his proficiency in the " Equilibrium of Bodies in Fluids," he 
detected the true weight of Hiero's crown, and exclaimed to the 
startled public, " I have found it ! I have found it !" So greatly 
was his inventive power feared by the often repulsed Romans, that 
at last the appearance of a rope or a pole above the wall of a 
besieged city threw them into a panic, for fear of some new " infer- 
nal machine." His burning mirrors occasioned Lucian to say that 
Archimedes, by his mechanical skill, burnt the Roman ships. 
Galen refers to the same fact. Archimedes lent great aid in the 
final defense of his beloved Syracuse, but the fortune of Rome was 
overwhelming at last. It is said that Marcellus gave strict orders 
to preserve a person of whose genius he had seen such extraordi- 
nary proofs, but this was forgotten in the license of war. A ruth- 
less soldier burst upon the venerable philosopher absorbed over a 


diagram, and smote him dead. Cicero, traveling in Sicily about a 
hundred and fifty years later, had great difficulty in finding his 
tomb. " I recollected," he says, " some verses which I had under- 
stood to be inscribed on his monument, which indicated that on the 
top of it there was a sphere and a cylinder. On looking over the 
burying-ground (for at the gate of the city the tombs are very 
numerous and crowded), I saw a small pillar just appearing above 
the brushwood, with a sphere and cylinder upon it, and imme- 
diately told those who were with me, who were the principal per- 
sons in Syracuse, that I believed that to be what I was seeking. 
Workmen were sent in with tools to clear and open the place, and 
when it was accessible, we went to the opposite side of the pedes- 
tal ; there we found the inscription, with the latter portions of the 
lines worn away, so that about half of it was gone. And thus, one 
of the most illustrious cities of Greece, and one formerly of the 
most literary, would have remained ignorant of the monument of a 
citizen so distinguished for his talents, if they had not learnt it from 
a man of a small Samnite village." 

When the dominion of the Romans supervened upon that of the 
Greeks, and bore all irresistibly to the West, much that was glorious 
appeared to be obscured, but nothing was lost. All the materials 
which flowed into the vast stream of Roman civilization, from the 
valley of the Nile, from Phoenicia, the Euphrates, and the Bissus, 
arrived by ways and in times which infinite wisdom saw to be best, 
and from Octavius to Constantino were amalgamated, and thence- 
forth still further removed for the grandest use. From India to the 
Atlantic coast, from Libyan borders to Caledonian hills, not only 
was the greatest variety in the forms of earth, its organic produc- 
tions and physical phenomena presented to general notice, but also 
the human race was seen in all the gradations of civilized and 
savage life. In the East, effete races existed still in the possession 
of ancient knowledge, and in the exercise of ancient arts ; while in 
the West, over gathering hordes of energetic barbarians, the fresh 
dawn of a mightier life was beginning to rise. In the time of 
JElius Gallius and Bulbus, distant scientific expeditions were under- 
taken ; and under Augustus, a general survey of the entire empire 
was commenced by Zenodoxus and Polycletus. The same Grecian 
geometricians, or others under their direction, prepared itineraries 


and special topographical accounts to be distributed among the 
rulers of the several provinces. They were the first statistical 
works undertaken in Europe. Roads were divided into miles, and 
extended to the remotest boundaries, so that Hadrian, in an unin- 
terrupted journey which occupied eleven years, traveled with ease 
from the peninsula of Iberia to Judea, Egypt, and Mauritania. It 
might reasonably be expected that such a vast field, so diversified 
in climate and productions, and which might with so much facility 
be explored by state officers and their retinues of learned men, 
would have produced numerous proficients in science. On the 
contrary, during the four centuries, when the Romans held undivi- 
ded sway over the known world, Dioscorides the Cilician, and 
Galenus of Pergamus, were the only natural philosophers. The 
first made some approach to botanical science, and increased the 
number of species of plants, which had been described. And it 
was at this time that Galen, by the care of his dissections, and the 
extent of physiological researches, has been declared worthy of 
being placed near to Aristotle, and generally above him. Ptole- 
maeus, whom we before mentioned as a systematic astronomer and 
geographer, is a third bright name to be added to the experimental 
philosophers Dioscorides and Galen. He measured the refraction 
of light, and was the first founder of an important part of optics. 
All these distinguished masters of such science as existed among 
the Romans were Greeks, as we have before seen was the case with 
the prime leaders in the departments of literature and art. 

As the soldiers of Alexander of Macedon brought home the jun- 
gle-fowl of India, and domesticated it in Europe ; so the agents of 
Providence, acting in the realms of science, gathered up and trans- 
mitted just such elements as their successors would most need. As 
soon as mineral acids could be obtained, chemistry first began, a 
powerful means of decomposing matter ; therewith the distillation 
of sea-water, described by Alexander of Aphrodisias in the time of 
calla, became an invention of great 'importance. The new 
at was variously applied, and the scientific mind gradually be- 
came acquainted with the compound nature of matter, its chemical 
constituents, and their mutual affinities. 

Anatomical knowledge also improved under Roman teachers. 
Marinus, and Rufus of Ephesus, dissected monkeys, and distin- 


guished between the nerves of motion and the nerves of sense. 
-<3lian of Praeneste wrote a history of animals, and Oppianus of 
Cilicia, a poem upon fishes. These contained some accurate de- 
scriptions, but few facts founded upon their own examination, or 
worthy of a standard work on natural history. Great numbers of 
elephants, elks, ostriches, crocodiles, panthers, tigers, and lions, 
were slaughtered in the Roman amphitheatre during four centuries, 
but without any result save that of a brutal enjoyment In that 
great metropolis there was no academy of science, and no general 
interest in a high range of intellectual pursuits. Antonius Castor, 
the Roman physician, was the only citizen who is reported to have 
had a botanical garden, probably made to imitate those of Theo- 
phrastus and Mithridates, but of no more practical use to science 
than was the collection of fossil bones made by the emperor Au- 
gustus, in the museum of natural curiosities. Galen, the only anat- 
omist of true scientific method, flourished .under the Antonines, and 
died about A. D. 203. He was originally from Pergamus, but went 
early to Alexandria, where he perfected his professional skill, and 
then removed to Rome, the scene of his great trials and triumphs. 
His superiority excited the jealous hatred of the metropolitan phy- 
sicians ; but the reputation he had earned was superior to their 
malice. Galen regarded his chief publication as " a religious hymn 
in honor of the Creator." 

The noble undertaking of a " Description of the World," by Caius 
Plinius the Second, was doubtless the greatest contribution to gen- 
eral science made during the Augustan age. It comprised thirty- 
seven books, and was the first great Encyclopedia of Nature and 
Art. In all antiquity nothing had ever been attempted in like man- 
ner, and for many centuries it remained perfectly unique. In its 
dedication to Titus, the author appropriately applied to his work a 
Greek expression which signifies the abstract and compendium of 
universal knowledge and science. 

The " Historia Naturalis" of Pliny includes a description of the 
heavens and the earth ; the position and course of the celestial 
bodies, the meteoric phenomena of the atmosphere, the form of the 
earth's surface, and everything relating to its productions, from the 
plants and the mollusca of the ocean up to the human race. Ac- 
cording to Humboldt, all these subjects were treated of and applied, 


in the most varied way, and brought forth the noblest fruit of de- 
scriptive genius. The elements of general knowledge were copi- 
ously employed in this great work, but without strict order in the 
arrangement. " The road over which I am about to travel," says 
Pliny, with a noble pride, " has been hitherto untrodden ; no one 
of our nation, or of the Greeks, has alone undertaken to treat of the 
entire subject, namely Nature. If my enterprise does not succeed, 
it is, nevertheless, a fine and grand thing to have attempted it." 
The intelligent author attempted an immense picture, and did not 
entirely succeed ; but the want of success depended principally 
upon a want of capacity to make the description of nature subordi- 
nate to scientific generalizations, and in view of the comprehensive 
laws of creation. Eratosthenes and Strabo had referred, not only to 
a description of mountains, but to an account of the entire earth ; 
of their investigations, however, Pliny made but very little use. 
Not more did he profit by Aristotle's work on the anatomical his- 
tory of animals. As overseer of the fleet in lower Italy, and as 
governor of Spain, he had but little time for extended research in 
natural science, and was often compelled to commit the execution 
'of large portions of his designs to inferior hands. 

Pliny the younger, in his letters, characterizes the work of his 
uncle truly " as a learned book, full of matter, not less manifold in 
its subjects than nature herself is." There are many things in 
Pliny which are generally objected to as unnecessary and foreign 
to his subject, but that most competent critic, Alexander Von Hum- 
boldt, is disposed to speak of the general result in terms of praise. 
" It appears to me to be particularly gratifying, that he so fre- 
quently, and always with so much pleasure, alludes to the influence 
exerted by nature upon the moral and intellectual development of 
man. His plan of connecting the subject is seldom well chosen. 
For example, the account of mineral and vegetable matter leads 
him to a fragment from the history of sculpture ; a fragment which 
has been of almost more importance for the present condition of our 
knowledge than anything referring to descriptive natural history 
which can be extracted from the work." Pliny evidently had a 
feeling for art, but he seldom betrayed an artistic feeling in the 
forms of his scientific disquisition. His data came from books 
rather than from nature direct, and a sombre hue invested all he 


wrote. As Aristotle had garnered all anterior wealth in the same 
department, and passed it over to the Romans, so Pliny, in turn, 
gathered up later accumulations, and transmitted the grand aggre- 
gate to the middle ages. Providence always has the man ready 
for the needful task. 

That the ancients made some powerful applications of the lens is 
evident from the account given by Lucian and Galen, that Archi- 
medes burned the Roman fleet at the siege of Syracuse, by means 
of glasses, B. c. 212. But neither the Greeks nor Romans have 
left us any account of the lens being applied to increase the stores 
of discovery in natural science. The only authentic records we 
have respecting the microscope, or its still more powerful corre- 
lative, belong to that age of scientific invention for the advent of 
which the Augustan age was appointed to prepare. 

Lucullus and Pompeius, by their eastern victories, made the Ro- 
mans acquainted with Greek science and philosophy ; the conse- 
quence of which was that many accomplished teachers streamed 
from those erudite regions to traffic their superior knowledge for 
Roman wealth. The latter really enjoyed nothing disconnected 
with the tumultuous excitement of war, even in the brief intervals 
of general peace. A master-passion for the sensations of battle 
morbidly existed in "every breast, and yearned for gratification in 
the combats of gladiators, or the yet wilder brutality of the circus. 
The cruel and ostentatious spectacles which arose with the con- 
quests of the republic, were continued with enhanced extravagance 
under the empire, fostered by the wealth, excitement, and corrup- 
tion, which those conquests had introduced. There was no affinity 
of soul for refined and tranquil pleasure in the Romans ; so that, 
if the legitimate drama was attempted, the admiring mob felt the 
keenest delight on viewing a mimic procession, or could interrupt 
the plot by vociferous exclamations for novelties of a yet more 
exciting and degrading kind. Civilization advanced perpetually, 
but from the period of culmination under Augustus, as before under 
Pericles, each step of progress was marked by its decline. As the 
palaces were enlarged, they were filled by impoverished depend- 
ents. Scipio, Metellus, and others, form courts around themselves, . 
wherein the arts and sciences are taught by slaves, while the streets 
resound with the exulting shouts of those who conduct thousands 


of captives to bondage or death. The great become greater, and 
the little become less ; until the exhausted empire succumbs to bar- 
barians, and a superseded civilization disappears from earth. 

The elder Gracchus, that truly noble Roman, attempted first to 
enlarge the number of landed proprietors, and then to fortify them 
with the energy of self-respect, through the dignity of free toil. 
The extension of an enlightened yeomanry, happily employed in 
the avocations of scientific agriculture, was the ambition of his life, 
and the occasion of his martyr-death. The republican tribune fell 
under patrician clubs, and not in vain was his corpse dragged 
through the streets, and thrown into the Tiber. Says Bancroft, 
"The deluded nobles raised the full chorus of victory and joy. 
They believed that the Senate had routed the people ; but it was 
the avenging spirit of slavery that had struck the first deadly wound 
into the bosom of Rome. When a funeral pyre was kindled to the 
manes of Tiberius Gracchus, the retributive Nemesis lighted the 
torch, which, though it burned secretly for a while, at last kindled 
the furies of social war, and involved the civilized world in the con- 

The first outbreak of righteous indignation was in the West, and 
thence the war-cry of freedom spread far and wide. From the 
plains of Lombardy, it reached the fields of Campania, and was 
echoed beyond the Apennines. A fit leader sprang to the head of 
outraged thousands, and pointed to the Alps, telling them that be- 
yond those dazzling heights was a home and a hope for the free. 
But in vain. To grace the triumph of Trajan over the Dacians, a 
combat of ten thousand gladiators, and eleven thousand wild beasts, 
was offered to the metropolitans. Spartacus, and six thousand of 
his rebelling associates were crucified, thus lining the road from 
Capua to the Capitol with monuments of Roman refinement and 

Julius Caesar, in the capacity of quaestor, came to Gades (Cadiz), 
in further Spain, and, not far from the temple of Hercules, beheld 
the statue of Alexander the Great. Then and there, in that re- 
motest West, he was quickened by the most daring resolution, and 
immediately returned to Rome, fired with the purpose which soon 
after leaped the Rubicon and won the world. History records that 
he caused one important practical application to be made of astro- 


nomical science, in the correction of the calendar ; this was due to 
the Alexandrian school, and was executed by the astronomer Sosi- 
genes, who came from Egypt to Rome for the purpose. Thus was 
that age bounded by divine purpose and human ambition ; Caesar 
finding his motive to martial conquest on the same remote boun- 
dary where Pliny conceived the design of encyclopaedic science. 
Moreover, the sagacious warrior found in the mode of arming and 
fighting there an improvement which he, with the greatest advan- 
tage, introduced into his own army. It was principally to his 
German auxiliaries, and the more effective mode of warfare he had 
learned from them, that he believed himself indebted for victory at 
Pharsalia, the crowniug battle of his fortunes. Augustus formed 
his body-guard out of westerners only, and all succeeding emperors 
sought more and more to enlist Germans in their armies. The 
great scale of human destiny ever weighs heaviest in the West. 

But jurisprudence was that department of science in which the 
Romans thought with most originality, and have exerted the great- 
est benefit. In that they were most at home, and from necessity 
as well as temperament, they cultivated their legal system with 
great care. It had its foundation in their elder jurisprudence, in 
which ultra-democratic principles prevailed ; afterward the written 
code of the primitive period was a good deal modified, and greatly 
enlarged. Caesar had formed the project of a general digest of 
Roman laws ; but this great design, like many other kindred ones, 
fell in his violent death. Under Augustus, however, great lawyers 
of opposite schools, arose to mature a system of scientific jurispru- 
dence which has exerted the mightiest influence on after ages. 
The people who outraged every principle of private rights, social 
justice, and public law, were the very nation who most accurately 
defined the laws they had themselves violated. The frequency and 
extent of colossal wrongs in that age necessitated a corresponding 
distinctness and majesty in the proclamation of rights. The Ro- 
mans were distinguished for a sound judgment, and strong practical 
sense, qualities which eminently fitted them to mold the forms, and 
establish the titles connected with that equity which should every 
where preside over the relations of civil life. In this department 
of science alone, the help which they derived from Greece was 
very slight. The mere framework, so far as the laws of the twelve 


tables are concerned, came to them from Athens ; but the grand 
edifice was completed by their own hands, a source and model 
which has affected the legal systems of the whole civilized world. 
The ScsevolaB, M. Manilius, and M. Junius Brutus, were eminent 
legalists of the earlier period. JElius Gallus, prefect of Egypt un- 
der Augustus, and the friend of Strabo the geographer, also his 
namesake, C. Aquilius Gallus, were distinguished at a later date. 
The latter was the most erudite lawyer, previous to the brilliant 
days of Cicero, and was the greatest reformer of his profession. 
Nor does it appear that he was lacking in fees, since we are told 
by Pliny that he owned and occupied a splendid palace on the 
Viininal lull. He served the office of prsetor in company with 
Cicero, B. c. 67, and both before and after that he often sat as 
judge. It was before him that Cicero defended both Caecum and 

The Forum still awes the visitor, and affects strong minds tho 
strongliest, because therein Rome was the lawgiver of nations, 
whence oracles of justice emanated that still are the guides of civil 
life. The deep and comprehensive thinker will thrill under the 
power of an invisible divinity, as he looks down upon the narrow 
scene whereon transpired the entire history of the stupendous em- 
pire, from Romulus to Constantino. By the councils of statesmen, 
meditations of philosophers, and enthusiasm of orators, the history 
of mankind, not only then but through all time, was projected, re- 
hearsed, and confirmed. On that spot dwelt a tremendous moral 
power, which, in moldering Rome, forecast the fate of the world. 

But we are not to forget in this regard that in the dark recesses 
of the catacombs the torch of a brighter science has been kindled, 
which has already burned in beauty to the surface, and is spreading 
hope and life among the barbarous hordes who descend upon the 
exhausted East to destroy, but are destined to return laden with 
the richest blessings for the West. Even Trajan desired that the 
feeble and despised disciples of the Nazarene should be required to 
sacrifice to pagan gods, and to be punished if they refused. The 
same system was continued under Adrian, Antoninus, and Marcus 
Aurelius. But, under the command of the latter emperor, a legion 
wholly composed of Christians, insured, by its valor, a victory to 
the Roman army, and a new power was evidently gaining the as- 


cendency. As a succeeding cycle draws near, the final struggles 
of the old grow spasmodic. From A. D. 302, to 311, in every part 
of the empire, martyr blood was shed in torrents ; and soon after, 
Christianity, triumphant, ascended the throne of the Caesars, with 
Constantine. From the middle of the second century, the new 
faith was contented with issuing the humblest forms of apology to 
its persecutors, and trimmed its lamp in meek seclusion, aided 
mainly by St. Justin, and Tertullian. But in the third century, 
Christian literature became more scientific. It was the beginning 
of theology, and the formal construction of dogmas. This work, 
like all other tides of progress, began in the remote East, and swept 
perpetually toward the West. Alexandria was the first great 
school, and Clement, Origen, and Cyprian, the leading masters. 
They with their associates and successors worked on silently, but 
successfully, in their aggressions against paganism, till they had laid 
the broad and solid basis of a mightier civilization to come. 



GREEK philosophy was early divided into two great systems 
represented by Plato and Aristotle. The first gathered the moral 
beauty of his age into his teaching, and was .the progenitor of 
moralists ; while the second, who came upon the central highway 
of civilization at a later period, expressed the other half of the 
mental world, and was the patriarch of natural philosophers. The 
Platonists and Aristotleians were perpetuated in continuous but 
separate lines of disciples, until both schools had become quite 
degenerate in the third century before Christ, when they were 
mainly displaced during the Augustan age by the disciples of Zeno 
and Epicurus. Then began the dismemberment of Greek specula- 
tion, and the founder of the Academy, with his famous pupil and 
rival, the first of peripatetics, who in their joint action gave to 
philosophy all its parts, and constituted it a science, were virtually 
set aside. And yet portions of their several systems continually 
re-appeared in the multiform schools which subsequently arose; 
but so long as philosophical disquisition obtained in any sect, 
morals were an inheritance from Plato, and natural philosophy from 

Stoicism and Epicureanism originated at nearly the same time, 
and were in violent struggle with each other until about a century 
before the Christian era. When at the lowest degree of exhaustion, 
they passed into Rome, and were cultivated without any speculative 
originality, but became in many instances a favorite recreation with 
men of might The Periclean age had been filled by a philosophy 
which, without forgetting the universe and God, had especially a 
human and moral character. The age which followed was intensely 
practical, and borrowed only such speculative theories as were suited 



to their martial and ambitious pursuits. The age of Augustus was 
characterized throughout by eclecticism in philosophy, and that not 
of the noblest kind. But the three great objects of thought, nature, 
man, God, were not overlooked ; through the first the culminating 
point was reached, and as the epoch closed religious philosophy 
began to beam with auspicious light. 

As in the realm of art, we found the absence of all true grandeur 
and simplicity, so will the facts appear in the department now 
under consideration. The sublime folly of Stoicism only leads to 
the baseness of Epicurean belief. Such will doubtless be observed 
down to the second century of Christian truth on earth, when there 
was no longer any thing great to think or act under the empire, 
and the only genial asylum for aspiring souls was the invisible 

When Rome had become the centre of civilization, she possessed 
no native works adequate to the wants of the age. Greek literature 
and philosophy were introduced in systems greatly epitomized, to 
master which was deemed an accomplishment not to be hoped for 
by the common mind. Very few acquired that more adequate 
appreciation which Cato and Scipio, Atticus and Cicero possessed. 
In the early days of the Republic there were many illustrious ex- 
amples of practical Stoicism ; but the system of philosophy known 
by that name, though best adapted to the mental structure of that 
people, attained its highest development not until a late period 
under the empire. After the literary stores of Greece had been 
introduced, each system had its run, and the hardy discipline of the 
Porch was particularly admired. 

Antisthenes, the founder of this Cynical sect, was born at Athens, 
B. c. 420, of a Thracian mother. Hereditary character fitted the 
appropriate agent at the outset to mold the destinies of western 
hordes. From all accounts, the external conduct of Antisthenes 
was excessively absurd and extravagant ; but in intellect he was 
respectable, and as a man, was in many respects superior to the 
generality of his followers. Unlike them, he never decried science 
and literature, but was himself an author ; and be is said to have left 
behind him ten volumes of his works, though they have all now per- 
ished. According to Cicero, he maintained the unity of the supreme 
Being in opposition to popular polytheism, and that his writings 


were valuable, rather as monuments of his sagacity than of his 

Diogenes, born B. c. 414, was extremely licentious in early life, 
but at a later period, as is not uncommon, rushed to the opposite 
extreme of morose asceticism and fanatical mortification. All 
writers represent his temperament as being fervid and enthusiastic, 
and his humor as coarse as it was caustic. The fragmentary say- 
ings of his which have been preserved exhibit a homely fierceness, 
in which it is difficult to say whether the character of sagacity or 
scurrility most predominates. Calling out once, "Men, come 
hither," and numbers flocking about him, he beat them all away 
with a stick, saying, " I called for men, and not varlets." Seeing 
some women hanged upon an olive tree, " I wish," remarked he, 
" that all trees bore the same fruit !" Such indiscriminate scoffing 
tended to repress the nobler impulses of our better nature, and to 
chill that enthusiasm without which nothing great or good was 
ever accomplished. It was an intrinsically mean spirit, clearly 
seen and well rebuked on the occasion referred to in the following 
anecdote : When Diogenes trod upon Plato's robe, and exclaimed, 
" I trample under foot the pride of Plato," 4he sage replied, " True, 
but it is with the greater pride of Diogenes." 

Zeno was born B. c. 362, at Citium, on the coast of Cyprus. His 
father was engaged in commerce, and had imported some disquisi- 
tions written by the pupils of Socrates. The sparks from Athens 
fell where they kindled, and young Zeno seon devoted himself 
wholly to philosophy. The Cynic, Crates, prepared him for still 
maturer discipline under the tuition of Xenocrates and of Stilpo. 
After this protracted preparation, he opened a school of his own, 
and selected the Portico, a public edifice, ornamented with pictorial 
works by Polygnotus, Myco, and Pandamus. Hence the descriptive 
phrase in the history of philosophy of the Painted Porch, and the 
philosophers of the Porch. The regularity of life, severity of doc- 
trine, and keenness of argument common to this new master, gave 
him great influence through a long life. He is said to have been 
tall in stature, thin in person, and abstemious, with a countenance 
by no means attractive. He died at the advanced age of ninety- 
eight. In his later period, Epicurus grew apprehensive of his per- 
petually growing fame, and was jealous of his moral superiority. 


Cleanthes, born B. c. 320, greatly modified the doctrines of 
the Stoical school. He was originally a wrestler, and preserved 
through life much of that hardy vigor of body which qualified him 
for the functions of a gladiator. He was extremely poor, and 
whilst attending the school of Zeno by day, he was compelled to 
work at night to earn a scanty sustenance. It is related that his 
robust appearance, whilst apparently an idler, excited municipal 
suspicion ; and when he was required to account for his mode of 
living, a gardener for whom he drew water, and a woman for whom 
he ground flour, came forward to attest his honest industry. He 
was not quick to invent, but was indefatigable to explore what 
others had taught. Fifty-six volumes are said to have been written 
by him, but none of them are now extant. 

Chrysippus, born in Cilicia, B. c. 280 ; and Posidonius, who died 
B. c. 135, were the chief links to extend this chain westward, and 
connect it with that great Stoic who arose on the remotest border 
of the Augustan age. 

Lucius Annaeus Seneca was born at Cordova, only eight years 
before Christ. His father was an eminent writer on rhetoric, some 
of whose productions are still extant. The son was delicate in 
health, but nothing could repress his love of research. He first 
studied the Peripatetic philosophy under Papirius Fabian, and 
afterwards, as far as a master who professed to despise all learning 
could teach, he learned the follies of the Cynics from Demetrius. 
By his father's request, Seneca then entered upon public life, and 
became a pleader at the bar. In this walk he so far distinguished 
himself as finally to become a distinguished favorite in the court of 
Claudius. But in consequence of some difficulty respecting Julia, 
the daughter of Germanicus, he fell into disgrace, and was banished 
to the island of Corsica. It is said that Agrippina, the mother of 
Nero, interceded in his behalf, and Seneca was recalled. On re- 
turning to Rome, he first became the tutor of Nero, and subse- 
quently his minister. The wretched pupil, in the exercise of 
imperial suspicion, as false probably as it was murderous, caused 
his teacher and friend to be destroyed. From the exhausted and 
emaciated state of his frame, the death of Seneca is reported to 
have been a painful one. In the presence of his wife and other 
friends, he opened the veins of his arms and legs ; and, as the pro- 


cess was too slow, he ordered a draught of poison to be adminis- 
tered to him. Still lingering, he desired to be laid in a warm bath, 
and as he entered, he sprinkled the standers by, saying, " I offer 
this libation to Jupiter the deliverer." His vital blood then gushed 
forth, and he speedily expired. 

Epictetus, whose living influence extended towards the end of the 
second century of the Christian era, was the great ornament of the 
Stoic school during the reigns of Domitian and Hadrian. He was 
born a slave, and was maimed in person, but obtained his manu- 
mission by excellence of conduct, and proved himself one of the 
best monitors of his age. Ten years later, the emperor Marcus Aure- 
lius Antoninus came forth the next in succession to this illustrious 
slave among the ornaments of the Stoic school. The reign of this 
victorious and philosophic monarch forms part of the happy period 
in which the vast extent of the Roman empire has been character- 
ized as having " been governed by absolute power under the guid- 
ance of virtue and wisdom.'' Antoninus early profited by the 
lessons of severe wisdom, and honored them by an exemplary life. 
In his palace he preserved the systematic regularity of a general, 
and in his camp he composed a great part of those philosophical 
meditations which have cast so much renown on his name. The 
lives of Cato and Brutus also, the one more formal and severe, as 
of a person evidently aiming to support a character, the other more 
genial and free, like one who had really caught the spirit of the old 
republican time, were molded strongly by the same creed. Both 
were true utterances of Roman Stoicism, and have thrown a splen- 
dor around the doctrine which it could never have obtained either 
from its first teachers or from Seneca and the rhetoricians who per- 
petuated its vitiating existence down to the lowest point of feeble- 

When Greek philosophy was introduced among the Romans, 
Stoicism was the most popular, but the creed of Epicurus was 
adopted by many distinguished men. The popular poem of Lucre- 
tius was a captivating recommendation of the system to many ; and 
other writers, such as Horace and Atticus, Pliny the younger, and 
Lucian of Samosata, are known to have been of this school. 

Epicurus was born in the island of Samos, B. c. 341. When in 
his thirty-second year, he first opened a school at Mitylene, where, 


and at Lampsacus, he taught for five years. This was at the time 
when sophists and sensualists were wanted at Rome, and they were 
brought there as part of the spoils of the conqueror, to march, like 
other slaves, in his triumph, and furnish an additional luxury. 
When Rome had become politically dominant to the largest extent, 
she yet remained in arts and letters the humble pupil of Greece. 
Augustan literature, in all of its departments, was to a great degree 
borrowed from the Greek, but with every kind of derivative process, 
from servile translation to the most adroit adaptation. Lucretius, 
Catullus, Horace, Virgil, Cicero, were all indebted to Greek models, 
as well as Terence, Ovid, and Seneca, but each to a graduated 
extent. They all borrowed according to their wants, each one 
transforming his plunder with more or less originality, according 
to the powers of his mind. Philosophy at Rome emitted many 
sparks of light, fragments of moral truth, but left behind no sym- 
metrical and consistent system except that of Epicurus, a creed 
formed on a plain so low that no declination could be made to 
appear. It has been remarked, that while of the eight teachers in 
the Porch, from Zeno to Posidonius, every one modified the doc- 
trines of his predecessor ; and while the beautiful philosophy of 
Plato had degenerated into dishonorable scepticism, the Epicurean 
system remained unchanged. This has been accounted for on the 
ground just mentioned, and also with reference to the power of that 
mental indolence which disposes the mind to rest contented with 
views that are comprehensible without reflection, and which are 
not inimical to the indulgence of lust The more thoughtful 
Romans were obliged to take what they could get, and they adopted 
the late and degenerated systems of Greek philosophy for two rea- 
sons: first, they had a natural affinity for them, and secondly, they 
were incapable of appreciating the earlier and better schools. The 
doctrine of Epicurus attracted a crowd of partisans in the martial 
metropolis, in consequence of its accommodating character, and the 
indulgence it afforded to the most groveling desires. But very few 
of the Romon Epicureans distinguished themselves as philosophers, 
and not one advanced a step beyond the doctrines of his master. 

Lucretius Carus, born B. c. 95, claims a place among philoso- 
phers as well as poets. In his time, the Epicurean principles 
obtained the greatest popularity, and that in no small degree 


through his own splendid talents. Consistently with his frigid 
atheism, and proud rejection of a superintending Providence, the 
perverted child of genius, who had risen on the breath of popular 
favor to the equestrian rank, died a wretched suicide when only 
forty-four years old. 

We should not forget that the Epicureans, the Stoics, the Acade- 
mics, and other sects, subsequent to the time of Alexander, are not 
to be spoken of as the Greek schools. They belong to a later and 
generally different age, in which little of philosophic worth was 
produced, and still less remains. Of Epicurus three letters are pre- 
served by Diogenes Laertius ; of Zeno, nothing ; of Cleanthes, a 
single hymn to Jupiter ; of the Academics, or New Platonists, a 
few traditions only. 

The device on an old Roman coin, of Julius Caesar bearing a 
book in <me hand and a sword in the other, represents the genius 
of many a distinguished citizen of the Republic. Of such was 
Varro, for he was a soldier, and at the same time the most erudite 
of his countrymen. He was born at Rieti, near the celebrated cas- 
cade of Terni, in Italy. Ca;sar appreciated the extensive learning 
of Varro, and entrusted to him the formation of tne great public 
library. He was a man of ponderous information and unwearied 
industry, but without a spark of literary taste or philosophical 
genius. No Roman author wrote so much as he did, and, except- 
ing Pliny, no one probably read so much ; yet, notwithstanding all 
his learning and diligence, he has left nothing that is possessed of 
either superficial polish or substantial worth. 

Not so Marcus Tullius Cicero. He was born B. c. 107, and in 
the realm of philosophy, as in eloquence, was the noblest Roman 
of them all. Like most young men of good family, he was 
instructed by Greek preceptors, and early occupied himself with 
ancient philosophy, directing his attention principally to the Aca- 
demic and Stoic systems. Plato, Aristotle, and Epicurus engrossed 
his esteem by turns, as he was an eclectic in taste, and confined 
himself to no particular school. But his philosophical works, 
wrought upon the model of Plato, are the most valuable collection 
of interesting discussions on the grandest themes. In the era of 
Cicero, scepticism and dogmatism distracted the schools and de- 
stroyed the life of philosophy. As Sir James Mackintosh has said, 


" The Sceptics could only perplex, and confute, and destroy. Their 
occupation was gone as soon as they succeeded. They had nothing 
to substitute for what they overthrew ; and they rendered their own 
art of no further use. They were no more than venomous animals, 
who stung their victims to death, but also breathed their last into 
the wound." 

Cicero speculated after a mode which admitted of great freedom 
to his genius, controlled by no particular sect, but was at heart 
most interested in the severest principles, and became almost a 
Stoic. Doubtless that was the noblest school then extant, the most 
harmonious with the spirit of Rome, and which preserved her 
greatest citizens amid the dissoluteness and ferocity of her imperial 
career. The ennobling influence exerted by that system was exem- 
plified while it exalted the slave of one of Nero's courtiers to 
become an efficient moral teacher, and breathed equity and mercy 
into the ordinary concerns of every man. Especially was it honored 
by the examples of Marcius Portius Cato, and of Marcus Aurelius 
Antoninus, who did much to keep alive a loftier regard for virtue 
and truth throughout all time. 

The historians of philosophy have often admired the memorable 
scenes in which Caesar mastered a nobility of which Lucullus and 
Hortensius, Sulpicius and Catullus, Pompey and Cicero, Brutus 
and Cato, were members. From the time of Scipio, they had 
sought the Greek philosophy as an amusement or an ornament. 
The influence of the degenerate Grecian systems was exerted upon 
all the leading spirits of Rome during five centuries, from Carneades 
to Constantine. Cassius was an Epicurean, and so was the adroit 
time-server Atticus, the courtier of each fortunate tyrant of the 
hour, who could embrace Cicero in all the apparent frankness of 
true friendship, and then abandon him to kiss the hand of Anthony, 
imbrued in his blood. Marcus Brutus represented the nobler 
school of Plato ; and if in a fearful crisis he trampled on all vener- 
able precedents of justice to guard the sacred principle itself, it was 
the result of a direful necessity which he could neither avoid nor 

Krug, in his history of philosophy, admits only two divisions, 
those of ancient and modern. He assumes as the line of demar- 
cation, the decline of government, manners, arts, and sciences, during 


the first five centuries of the Christian era. In the above rapid 
review, we have already passed the culminating point in pagan 
philosophy at Rome, in the age of Augustus and Cicero. When 
Alexander had annihilated the republican liberty of Greece, he 
opened the way for an active commerce between the East and the 
West, which greatly contributed to enlarge the sphere of the new 
type of dialectic science. From Periclean excellence, a progressive 
decline became observable in the spirit of philosophy, which was 
continuously directed to humbler objects, of a more pedantic char- 
acter, in commentaries, and compilations without end. Thus 
Alexandria, from the time of the Ptolemies, became the point of 
departure whence all the remnants of ancient wisdom emigrated to 
the opening wilds of the West. Every thing was wisely arranged 
with this intent. Indian sages came there to mediate, and perceived 
the connection between their faith and the old Egyptian mysteries. 
The Persian, who had before waged war against those mysteries, at 
length declared his belief in the conflict of good and evil powers. 
Thither came a powerful colony of Jews, and not only built a tem- 
ple in Egypt, but at the .command of an Egyptian monarch the 
Jewish scriptures were translated into Greek. The same country 
where speculation began was destined to accumulate at the most 
favorable point the latest productions, amalgamated into a form 
exactly fitted to prospective uses, and then, through other agencies 
as wonderfully prepared be transmitted to the corresponding field. 
From Moses to Christ, every intellectual stream was made to be 
tributary to that central river ; and from Christ to Constantino, the 
direction and destination are identical still. When Egypt became 
a Roman province, proof was given that there was something 
stronger in the world than Greek subtilty, and which in turn could 
be equally well subordinate to the ultimate good of mankind. 
Three Greeks, masters of the Peripatetic, Academic, and Stoic doc- 
trines, were sent as hostages of war to Rome, at the same time that 
Lucullus and Sylla were enriching the Capitol with conquered 
libraries. The latter, after the capture of Athens, u. o. 84, sent 
thither the collection of Apellicon, which was particularly rich in 
the works of Aristotle. It is worthy of special note that then and 
there the works of the great founder of later systems were first 
published. But simultaneously with the era when Greece had lost 



her political existence, and Rome her republican constitution, the 
spirit of ancient research was exhausted, and a new philosophy 
arose from the decay of effete systems. A fresh dogmatical sys- 
tem was established by the New Platonists on a broader basis, in 
order to prop up the ancient religion, and to oppose a barrier to 
the rapid progress of the new, but which ended in the wildest 
metaphysical dreams. In the mean time, Christian teachers, who 
at first rejected and condemned Greek philosophy, ended by adopt- 
ing it, in part at least, thus intending to complete and fortify their 
religious system. This work of fundamental preparation continued 
until the disunion of the eastern and western empires opened the 
way for the erection of that grand and romantic superstructure for 
which the world was by the above instrumentalities prepared. 

It was well observed by Justin Martyr, " Those persons before 
the Christian era, who endeavored by the strength of human under- 
standing to investigate and ascertain the nature of things, were 
brought into the courts of justice as impious and over-curious." 
But with the Messiah came more auspicious days, when on all sides 
schools arose whose ruling character was religious, and whose pro- 
cesses were no longer abstraction, but inspiration and illumination. 
Philo, born some years before Christ, and Numerius, two centuries 
after, both leaders of Jewish cabals ; and the leading Gnostics, Si- 
mon Magus, Menander the Samaritan, and Corinthus, of the first 
century, as well as Saturninus, feasilides, Carpocrates, and Valen- 
tinus, of the second, all had an important preparatory work to per- 
form. Plotinus and Porphyry, too, wrought a good work in their 
day. And when the apostate Julian, as the incarnated school of 
Alexandria, became the hero of mysticism, and ascended the throne 
of Rome, it was that thus he might more manifestly extinguish the 
lingering brilliancy of the East, and occasion a fairer unfolding in 
the West. With him and Proclus, sensualism and idealism ended, 
and Greek philosophy expired in giving birth to that new civiliza- 
tion which dates from the sixth century. 

Modern scholars have searched through the voluminous com- 
mentators upon Aristotle, which the learned eclecticism of the 
third, fourth, and fifth centuries of our era produced, some of them 
still only existing in manuscript, but have found but little worthy 
of preservation. The time had come when one could no longer 

* O 


hear Plato, in his own silvery tongue, delivering that allegory 
which compares the human soul to a chariot with winged horses 
and driver, and which resolves its purest thoughts into reminis- 
cences of a brighter life and nobler companionship. During the 
martial sway of imperial Rome, the beautiful philosophic fabric 
which the Greeks had fashioned, like the web of Penelope, was mu- 
tilated, defaced, and nearly destroyed. 

The Romans were more arbitrary in their ideas than the Greeks, 
and much less inventive ; they were neither as acute to demonstrate, 
nor as methodical to arrange the elements and results of knowledge. 
The literary medium of their theories was as declamatory as their 
notions were loose, and both their political and moral habits tended 
to obscure their dim conceptions of moral truth. The only redeem- 
ing quality amongst them, was national vigor, displayed mainly in 
warlike pursuits. From the first, the citizens of the Republic seem 
to have anticipated the attainment of universal empire, and they 
put forth endeavors commensurate with the presentiment they felt 
with regard to their destiny. Though unworthy to claim suprem- 
acy of esteem for any mental or philosophical enterprise of their 
own, it should be said to their credit, that they entertained a more 
vivid and enduring belief in the dignity and predetermined neces- 
sity of human advancement than was common to the Greeks. But 
national excellence in the realms of refined art and thought, was 
not to be expected while they assigned these pursuits chiefly to 
slaves. Virgil made one of his a poet ; and Horace himself, like 
several inferior authors, was the son of a freedman. Leading phi- 
losophers and coarsest buffoons, the preceptor who taught, and the 
physician who healed, the architect who built, and the undertaker 
who buried, were all vassals. It has been said by the most valid 
authority, that not an avocation, connected with agriculture, manu- 
factures, or education, can be named, but it was the patrimony of 

Providence is to be honored by a grateful recognition of the 
part Rome performed in human advancement. Perpetual peace is 
the hypothesis of absolute immobility. But as progress is necessi- 
tated on the part of imperfect creatures in their perpetual approach 
towards perfection, war will be certain sometimes, and may al- 
ways be profitable. War is the bloody exchange of ideas, shocks 


incident to the car of improvement. The truth which was 
victorious and absolute yesterday, becomes relatively false to-day, 
and will need to be conquered by a greater and more enduring 
truth to-morrow. That, in turn, will have to retreat before some 
superior good, and thus only can consummate excellence be at- 
tained. Great leaders, whether martial or mental, are but embodied 
ideas, actuating and transforming the ages ; and every thing about 
them, even their death, is but a phenomenon of universal life. 
Platea and Salamis, Arbela and Pharsalia, were the great steps of 
democracy toward universal mastership. Victory always remains 
with the new spirit ; and freedom, like truth, never can become 
old ; they are in God, and thereby the final battle and widest con- 
quest must eventually be secured. Not one great campaign was 
ever lost to humanity, nor ever will be. Every historical nation 
has had specific seed given it to sow, from the harvest of which 
succeeding nations have derived strength to cultivate a rougher, but 
richer, field. The scenery changes with each act performed, but 
the plot goes steadily on. God is making the tour of the world, 
and every new phase of civilization is an additional proof of a 
divinely identical plan. 

The first great element of humanity which received a full devel- 
opment was beauty, the nearest in space, and most like in character, 
to Eden. The next was force, that which was most requisite to take 
up and carry forward the materials of after growth, and this was un- 
folded in a position the most central and adapted to its compre- 
hensive design. The third element was science ; the discriminating, 
purifying, enlarging, and consolidating power destined to bear the 
precious aggregation of lapsed cycles upon the immense stage 
whereon should be unfolded an amelioration the most complete, 
through the richest benefits both human and divine. It was not 
possible for these to have a simultaneous development, but were 
vouchsafed in their proper order, that they might best insure the 
highest result. An epoch is the period required by a given prin- 
ciple for its matured growth, and will be displaced by its successor 
through some form of revolution. When the commission assigned 
a timely idea is performed, it will be superseded because the ad- 
vent of its superior has come ; but the antiquated ever wars against 
the necessity of removal, and sees not that progressive destiny has 


rendered it obsolete. Hence the need of constraint, sometimes 
through arguments, and sometimes through arms. But in every 
instance, the successor adds completeness to what went before, and 
all the diversity of epochs and arms conduce to but one and the 
same end. Wait the rising of the next curtain, if you would better 
understand the wisdom of the transpiring plot. If one asks why 
this or that nation came into the world, answer by noting what 
there was to do, what idea to represent, and what means to be em- 
ployed. We have seen what Greece existed for, and there is no 
more mystery as to the mission of Rome. We give an explanation 
of her wars, but have no apology to offer in their behalf. 

The evening of Greek philosophy threw a few beautiful rays over 
the dark and tempestuous domain of the Augustan age. Its early 
lessons taught the Roman generals to appreciate the mental trea- 
sures which lay upon the track of their remote campaigns, and 
mitigated the savageness of war with the amenities of moral excel- 
lence. The classical tour of ^Emilius, and the more refined pur- 
suits of Africanus, were greatly superior to the coarseness of the 
earlier Anitius and the ignorant Mummius. Still more enlightened 
was the age and its heroes, when Sylla enjoyed at Athens the 
refined conversation of Atticus, his political opponent, and bore 
about with him the inestimable writings of Aristotle. At the brief 
epoch of culmination, Caesar, from the remotest provinces, corres- 
ponded with Cicero on philosophical topics ; and Pompey, when he 
had accepted the submission of both the East and the West, low- 
ered his fasces in reverence of the wisdom of Posidosius. 

Cato deprecated the introduction of Greek philosophy into his 
country, because he foresaw that in learning to dispute upon all 
things, the Romans would end by believing in nothing. The result 
verified the foreboding. Though repeatedly banished from the 
metropolis, the degenerate philosophers triumphed over the resist- 
ance of laws, the wisdom of the senate, and the destinies of the 
eternal city. A few dreamers, armed with scepticism, accom- 
plished what the world's entire force was unable to achieve ; they 
conquered with opinions the superb Republic which had subjugated 
earth with arms, thus adding another fact confirmatory of the gene- 
ral truth, that all the empires which history has recognized as 
established by time and prudence, sophists have overthrown. 


When a false maxim becomes a ruling principle in popular opinion, 
the logic of nations, mightier than cannon, bears a fearful force for 
evil, as otherwise it is the most powerful agent of good. An indi- 
vidual may be made to recoil before conclusions, communities 
never. A fatal charm more potent than the horror of self-destruc- 
tion entices them, and even in perishing they obey a general law, 
the inflexible rectitude of which can never be exhausted, whether 
applied to error or truth, and by virtue of which the upright are 
preserved until their goodness has been most widely and enduringly 
diffused. As every doctrine is composed necessarily of truth or 
error, usually a mixture of both, there is an influence for good or 
evil wrought upon the minds wherein it is received. But while 
falsehood may in some ages and places so accumulate as to work ruin 
to a degree, the mightier truth is in reserve which in due time will 
readjust the balance, and augment the good. False religion pre- 
sided over the cradle of ancient nations, and false philosophy 
attended them to the tomb ; nevertheless, each succeeding birth 
and death was a fresh ascent toward fairer realms and brighter 
hopes. The civilization of Rome was exceedingly imperfect 
Much expense was employed to entertain the populace, but there 
was little virtue in their instruction. From all quarters of the 
known world crowds gathered in their theatres ; literature and art 
flourished after a fashion, and extreme courtesy for a while added 
attractions to an effeminate and voluptuous philosophy. The peo- 
ple yielded to the blandishments so, congenial to gross tastes, and 
their history celebrates a period of happiness such as Romans could 
enjoy, that characteristic felicity which began under the Triumvir- 
ate, and with Nero found a fitting end. 

Greece developed individuality of the finest type, and Rome 
created a social compact on the grandest scale ; but it was reserved 
for a yet further step in westward civilization to blend these two 
elements, personal independence and social loyalty, under the 
auspices of liberty governed by law. Neither the Greeks nor 
Romans had a separate term for institution, that truest exponent of 
modern society. But this grand conservative and redeeming power 
in due time appeared, when there arose, amidst the ruins of 
exhausted imperialism, a society both young and ardent, united in 
a firm and fruitful faith, inwardly gifted with preternatural power, 


and endowed with an unlimited capacity for external expansion. 
This was Christianity, the blessed philosophy of God on earth. 
The necessity of replying to heathen adversaries, and the desire of 
defining and enforcing the Christian doctrines, gradually led to the 
formation of a species of philosophy peculiar to Christianity, and 
which successively assumed different aspects, with respect to its 
principles and object. The spirit of Grecian philosophy thus trans- 
ferred into the writings of the early fathers, in after times proved 
the material germ of original speculations. Justin Martyr, Clement 
of Alexandria, Tertullian, Arnobius, and Lactantius, first employed 
philosophy as an auxiliary to assist in winning over the more culti- 
vated classes to the Christian religion. Subsequently it was turned 
to the refutation of heresies, and lastly applied to the elucidation 
and formal statement of the prevailing creed. 

Most distinguished of his age was Aurelius Augustinus, born 
A. D. 354, at Tagaste in Africa. After having studied the scholas- 
tic philosophy, and became an ardent disciple of the Manicheans, 
he was converted to the orthodox faith under the preaching of 
Ambrose, at Milan, A. D. 38*7, and eighteen years after was made 
bishop of Hippo. The religious philosophy of this great writer be- 
came the pivot of dogmatical science in the West, and has swayed 
the destinies of millions of minds from the time Justinian closed 
the classic schools, and the Gothic king Theodoric put Boethius, the 
last of the ancient philosophers, to death. Augustin, who ended 
the Augustan age of philosophy, while yet far from the great centre 
of the succeeding age, now sleeps at Pa via, in the very bosom of its 
domain. Such is the grand truth of universal history ; all living 
greatness, and even the remains of the dead, move only toward the 



THE radical imperfection of paganism in the Periclean age con- 
sisted in the fact that all the sublime attributes of intellect but served 
to ennoble man in his present being. The strength of the moral 
affections, the perfection of beauty, the love of truth, and all that 
which for the Christian is to survive the grave and be immortally 
augmented when separate from earth, to them had little or no 
object beyond this life. To direct and enjoy the present was his 
chief concern, and in his view the universe was created only to this 
end. The god of day pursued his ceaseless round to cheer his 
waking toil, and the chaste queen of night watched over his repose. 
The universal Jove came down from Olympus to inspire him ; 
Minerva protected him with her awful shield of wisdom ; the 
graceful goddess of Love placed her shrine in his heart ; and super- 
human beings, captivated with his superior charms, sought on earth 
a loveliness not to be found in heaven. Even the fates were subor- 
dinate to his welfare, and all existences centred round his destiny ; 
so that, were he destroyed, all things would dissolve like an empty 
pageant, and heaven, earth, and hell, with all their denizens, would 
case to be. 

In the Augustan age the condition of paganism was still worse. 
When Rome rose, and steadily advanced to the attainment of 
universal empire, the religions of all the separate states subjugated 
were intimately interwoven with her political law, and that was 
concentrated in the metropolis, whither the religions, like all other 
spoils, were compelled to follow. Rent from their native soil, these 
religions, like so many automatons, were doubly senseless and 
impotent. The worship of Isis had a meaning in Egypt, it being 
a reverence for the powers of nature ; in Rome it became an idolatry 
which signified only a sign and evidence of the victorious eagle of 


the city. The more beautiful and significant myths of Greece were 
equally perverted or stupidly ignored. Mythologies the most 
diverse and conflicting were brought together only to contend with 
and neutralize each other. There was but one power left that 
seemed real, the emperor. Temples were erected to his honor, 
oaths were taken in his name, sacrifices were offered before him, 
and his statues alone offered an asylum. There was no state 
religion, but power and religion were identical. Man sacrificing to 
man sank to the lowest degradation of spiritual vassalage. Inspiring 
sentiment and religious fervor were extinguished, leaving nothing 
more attractive or exalting on national shrines than the deification 
of power, the apotheosis of might. But when Rome had destroyed 
the various nationalities of the world, there was yet a susceptibility 
in the human heart which she could not annihilate something 
through which men might hold communion with each other a bond 
beyond the mere relation of a citizen to his state. The auspicious 
hour had come, in the midst of utter desolation, when humanity 
began deeply to feel this, and it was the first dawn of a glorious 
day. Christianity arose and called upon men as moral beings, to 
the humblest of whom its founder lowered himself. The apsis of 
the basilica contained an Augusteum, where the statues of the 
Caesars were divinely worshiped ; but these were to be exchanged 
for holier symbols and a higher truth. 

God never abandons his dependent creatures, but affords them 
light accprding to their destinies here below. Even amidst the 
darkest idolatry true adoration was presented by Job in Arabia, 
Melchisedec in Syria, and the Queen of Sheba in ^Ethiopia or India. 
Orpheus, the Thracian, older than Homer, living more than sixteen 
centuries before Christ, taught many things to be admired respect- 
ing God, the word, and the creation of the world. Justin Martyr, in 
his first apology to the Roman senate, says, " Socrates was accused 
for the same crime as that of which we are accused, namely, of 
asserting that there is but one God." Irenseus says that Plato had 
sounder views of religion than the heretics of his own day whom 
he was refuting. The conformity of his doctrine to some features 
of the Hebrew scriptures is well known. Augustin says, that if 
Plato could return to the world, he would doubtless become a 
Christian, as most of the Platonicians of his time did. 


But something more was needed than the aspirations of patriots, 
or the sacred suggestions of philosophers, and the world's greatest 
want was met in the divine lessons imparted through the elect 
people of God. Out of the Abrahamic tribe of faith Moses formed 
the Jewish nation. Natural stubbornness and the lingering super- 
stitions contracted from the sacerdotal caste of Egypt, necessitated 
the ritual and ceremonial regulations by which they were first en- 
compassed. Moreover, inspired prophets, called from the humblest 
ranks of the people, counteracted the hierarchical and regal ten- 
dencies of the more aristocratic classes, and by degrees elevated all 
to the conception and adoption of comparative republicanism in 
church and state. Disciplined by successive revelations, and 
decimated by death, they gradually became competent to enjoy 
unmixed truth and liberty governed by law. The rule of conscience 
which the father of the faithful had made the distinctive law of his 
particular household, Moses extended throughout the legislation of 
the first religious nation ; it only remained, in due time, for the 
humanly realized God to divinize man by extending this celestial 
influence and control over all mankind. It was necessary that the 
gross fetichism of the East should be entirely eradicated from the 
race destined to plant true religion on earth ; and so the wandering 
tribes sojourned in the wilderness until the generation, contaminated 
by actual contact and intercourse in Egypt, were all dead. Then 
prophets more enlightened and progressive arose, who occupied an 
intermediate position between the material dispensation of Moses 
aad the pure spirituality of Christ. External forms are more and 
more discarded in the later portions of their writings ; and their 
views of the old dispensation become increasingly independent of 
those who lived near its origin. In the Messianic system toward 
which they gladly advance, is evidently expected a clearer light and 
less cumbrous service. The Hebraic dispensation was provisional, 
and appointed to generate what was necessary for all men ; but it 
was neither designed nor adapted to continue longer than to do a 
preparatory work, since it was circumscribed to a small portion 
of the human family, and was unfitted for extension through- 
out the world. It ended as soon as the ideas coined in the die 
prepared by Jehovah were thrown into the hands of Japhet, whose 
mission it was to transfer them into all historic languages, and 


give them a free circulation co-extensive with the commerce of 
the globe. 

The fountain of faith was enlarged in Shem simultaneously with 
the immense development of admiration in Japhet. Both were 
equally aside from Egypt, and its reminiscences of Ham. The He- 
brews were an alphabetic people, and never used a hieroglyphic, 
but despised symbolism in all its forms. They were the depository 
of that pure and sublime monotheism, which has been the special 
glory of the Shemitic races from the earliest time to the present 
day. The Indo-Germanic races, to which the Persians were allied 
closely in antiquity, and of which the Greeks were the purest expo- 
nent, borrowed temple-worship from over the sea, like every other 
element of artistic decoration, and perfected it. So far as the Jews 
possessed art, they appropriated it from the banks of the Euphrates, 
perhaps, but never from the Nile. In their best days, and under 
the auspices of two mighty kings, father and son, they were inca- 
pable of erecting a suitable religious edifice without foreign aid. 
Had it not been for his fortunate alliance with Hiram of Tyre, it is 
probable that Solomon would never have seen executed the temple 
which so greatly enhanced his fame. That was of Tyrian art, fash- 
ioned after Phoenician types, and foretokened how, still further 
west, the splendor of Shem, and taste of Japhet, would yet more 
closely commingle, and be mutually benefitted in the joint works 
of faith and love. 

While colonization bore the Pelasgic into Italy, and there trans- 
muted the ancient Shemitic tongue by a mixture of the Etruscan, 
and other dialects of that central peninsula, into the Latin, another 
matchless source of improvement was laid up in ancient literature. 
The sepulchre of human -hope seemed to grow dark, but a lamp 
burned therein, which was yet to kindle a bright flame on purer 
altars. Fugitives from the smoldering ruins of Grecian glory, trans- 
ported their gods through the flames, to establish a new worship in 
more favored climes. In the cause of mankind, apparent defeat has 
ever been positive victory ; and all its triumphs have achieved in- 
creased benefits for all. When the hour is darkest, and the air most 
chill, then expect the first dawn on the edge of a sky that shall pour 
increased light upon all nations ; the first lifting of a trumpet that 
with louder peals shall break up the sleep of the great tomb of destiny. 


The translation of the Scriptures into Greek was begun about 
B.C. 285. The statement received in the time of Josephus was, 
that Ptolemy Philadelphia, desiring to possess a copy for his cele- 
brated library at Alexandria, sent Aristeas and Andreas, two persons 
of rank, on a formal mission to Eleazer, the Jewish High Priest, 
for the purpose. It is perfectly natural that a rich and cultivated 
sovereign should have wished to possess, even as a literary curiosity, 
the book of the laws, history, and poetry of a nation, lying in his 
vicinity. But great numbers of Jews were within his own borders, 
and they must have constantly appealed to their law in their gov- 
ernmental transactions, which appeals could not be answered but 
by reference to an authority recognized by both parties. Hence, 
the Pentateuch alone was translated in the first instance ; but the 
other books followed, at long intervals, and in other reigns. The 
important fact is, that the Septuagint was received as an authority 
nearly, if not quite, equal to the original, from the first, and could 
be read by the Jew in the synagogue, or the Christian in the church. 
Then note how striking was the epoch of this translation. It was 
exactly between the completion of the Jewish Canon by the pro- 
phecies of Malachi, and the long series of Jewish desolations which 
began with the Epiphanes. It was late enough to contain the en- 
tire body of old revelation vouchsafed to Shem, and sufficiently early 
to prepare the way for that more glorious unfolding of the divine 
purpose which it was reserved for the Japhetic race to execute. 

Then followed the other appropriate preparatives for the coming 
of our Lord ; " the rebuilding of that temple which was thus to be 
more honored than by the Glory from heaven ; the visions and 
predictions of those who looked for the great coming, day and 
night watching in the temple ; the solemn and startling denuncia- 
tions of the Baptist ; the visible presence of the ETERNAL in the 
flesh ; His mission ; His power over nature, the human heart, and 
the Evil Spirit ; His death for human sin ; His rising again for 
human justification ; His visible ascent to the throne of Heaven ; 
the overwhelmning miracles by which fortitude, knowledge, faith, 
and the power of communicating them all, were inspired into the 
peasants of Galilee ; form an unspeakable display of light and wis- 
dom, an illustration of Providence, which, through all the clouds 
of time and things, still fixes the eye on that spot above, where the 


Sun of the Spirit shall break forth at last, and the full aspect of the 
heavens be shown to man. Thus it was that the old religion put 
on a newer and more perfect form. The seed planted in the day 
of Abraham was at first shut up, but in the day of Judah began to 
grow, and shot majestically above the earth in the day of Christ. 
The primal faith, which long lay buried in weakness, was raised in 
power, and the mortal body of the patriarchal dispensation put on 
immortal glory. 

The corresponding preparation, which was attained through sec- 
ular power, is equally worthy of special regard. When Christianity 
was to be given to the world, the Roman empire had received that 
form of government which most fully combined enterprise with 
solidity ; the daring energy of a Republic, with the comprehensive 
ambition of a monarchy. Like all the great leaders of mankind, 
the genius of the Caesars might stand for the representative of the 
empire. The unequaled union of the bold, the sagacious, and the 
indomitable, rendered that wonderful series of instruments superla- 
tively adapted to cast up a highway, and gather out the stones 
from the path of human progress. When the shadow of the Ro- 
man eagle stretched over all nations, and the mandate of the em- 
peror touched the extreme points of civilization, the final use of 
martial force was subordinate to that divine religion which was 
destined to spread speedily from Caucasus to Mauritania, and from 
the rising to the setting sun. The mighty empire was not to perish 
as it fell, but to cast off its pagan wretchedness, and become in- 
vested with the unsullied robe, and starry diadem, of a loftier sov- 
ereignty. The Babylonish, Persian, Grecian, and Roman empires, 
which successively constituted civilization, formed the central chan- 
nel of life to the earth ; they were the spine, whence issued sensa- 
tion and motion to the general frame, the meridian, to which all 
the lines of the chart of human progress must be referred. These 
four had exercised an unceasing influence on Judah, as invaders, or 
sovereigns, up to the time when retributive justice opened the way 
for the immediate incarnation of infinite Love. The capture of 
Jerusalem by Titus, was the beginning of the consummation. A 
false Messiah was proclaimed to a people already morally ruined, 
and the frenzied insurrection under Barchochebas, A. D. 132, closed 
the existence of Judah. Hadrian completed the terrible work. 


He built a theatre with the stones of the Temple, dedicated a temple 
to Jupiter on the spot where the altar of God had stood, placed 
the image of a swine on the city gates, and thenceforth excluded 
the Jews from their beloved metropolis. At that moment the 
church chose their chief presbyter from the Gentiles, instead of 
the race of Abraham, as was the custom before, and thus the bridge 
between Judaism and Christianity was forever broken down. 

But the Roman empire was now, in turn, to perish. One of the 
high ends for which it was permitted, had been fulfilled in the ex- 
tirpation of Judah, and its own final use was the diffusion of a 
diviner system. The tokens of coming doom multiplied from the 
hour the arch of Titus was completed. Leviathan still dashed the 
political ocean into foam, but the ebb was inevitably come, and he 
must soon be laid dry upon the shore. Let us briefly review the facts. 

Tradition assigns to Numa, a Sabine, the establishment of the 
laws and regulations of the Roman polity, both civil and religious ; 
but in the absence of authentic records, it is difficult to say how far 
the statements respecting this regal law-giver are to be relied upon. 
The spirit of the Roman religion was originally quite different from 
that of the Grecian. The former was plastically flexible, the lattt-r 
sacerdotally immutable. After the bloody proscriptions and civil 
wars of preceding centuries, Octavius, under the name of Augustus, 
appeared as the restorer of general peace, and was the first abso- 
lute monarch of the Roman world. His long and comparatively 
tranquil reign was a brilliant period of national history. Under 
the supremacy of the Augustan age, innumerable divinities, from 
Syria, Egypt, Arabia, Persia, Africa, Spain, Gaul, Germany, and 
Britain, received Roman forms and personifications ; but in all in- 
stances, wherever traces of grandeur or beauty appeared, they 
attested that which had been pillaged and transferred from ancient 
Greece. The distinguishing character and leading principle of the 
Roman state, from the earliest to the latest period of its history, was 
political idolatry in its most frightful shape, the greatest aberration 
of paganism. The spoils of all nations were made to flow into the 
" Eternal City," and the known world wore her chains. The Orontes 
and the Ganges, the Nile and the Thames, were tributary to the 
Tiber. The invincible legions held every province in awe, gold and 
silver were as profuse as iron, and to be a Roman citizen was the 


ambition of a life. The Capitol, from its rocky height looked se- 
renely down on a thousand temples, sacrificial processions went 
daily forth, and numberless victims bled at the altars of Neptune 
and Mars. The Pontifex ascended with supreme dominion to the 
loftiest shrine ; while beneath, the Pantheon, and the temple of 
Apollo of the Palatine, and of Diana of the Janiculum, and the glo- 
rious house of Victory, were redolent with Sabaean incense. All 
worldly wisdom, wealth, and art, waited on the mistress of the 
world. Popularly considered, the ancestral deities of Rome had 
invested her children with such glory, that they lived in their wor- 
ship, throve by their favor, and as long as they served them they 
were invincible. The pagan religion had a powerful control over 
unreflecting devotees. Its temples, priests, mysteries, sacrifices, 
and magnificent processions, which called to their aid the varied 
attractions of sculpture, painting, and music, awakened a variety of 
entrancing emotions, and conspired to work the most effective delu- 
sion. Moreover, the more enlightened took especial pains to cher- 
ish the prejudice that, to the deep popular respect for the gods of 
the Republic, the unexampled success of the national arms was to be 
attributed. The piety of Romulus and of Numa was believed to 
have laid the foundations of their greatness. To use their own lan- 
guage, " It was by exercising religious discipline in the camp, and 
by fortifying the city with sacred rites, with vestal virgins, and the 
various degrees of a numerous priesthood, that they had stretched 
their dominion beyond the paths of the sun and the limits of the 
ocean." So strongly were the Romans attached to their religion, 
that ^Emilius Paulus, in his consulship, ordered the temples of Isis 
and Serapis, gods not legally recognized, to be destroyed, and, ob- 
serving the religious fear which checked the people, he himself 
seized an axe, and struck the first blow against the portals of the 
sacred edifice. On several occasions the senate exerted its power 
to prevent religious innovations. Augustus directed his state-policy 
and energy to the restoring of the ancient laws, and the mainten- 
ance of the primitive belief. The effort was, however, too late ; the 
impossibility of success in such an endeavor lay in the fact that old 
things were passing away, and all was soon to become new. The 
emperor strove to effect the closest union of divine worship with 
the state ; but when a Nero was clothed with the highest priestly 


dignity, when a Divus Tiberius, or a Divus Caligula received divine 
honors after death, surely redemption, rather than restoration, was 
what the world most required. Roman society was rapidly decay- 
ing through excessive vice and the outrageous inequality of con- 
ditions. The palaces of the rich were more like luxurious cities, 
while the middle class had totally disappeared, and the great mass 
of the population was composed of slaves. Immense speculations 
were made upon human beings. Atticus, the friend of Cicero, had 
slaves taught and trained, to sell at a higher price. Many citizens 
possessed from ten to twenty thousand vassals. They were deci- 
mated by famine, sufferings, and in gladiatorial combats ; yet they 
formed about three-fourths of the whole population. Increasing 
fear was manifested in the murder of Pontius ; in the cold-blooded 
destruction of all prisoners of distinction at the close of every tri- 
umph ; in the ruin of Carthage ; in the proscriptions and massacres 
of Marius and Sylla, and of the successive triumvirates ; and in 
those of Tiberius, Nero, and their wretched successors. The great- 
ness of Rome was exclusively heathen, until men mightier than the 
Caesars trod her soil. The adherents of the old pagan creed might 
truly say, that when the altars of Victory ceased to smoke on the 
Capitol, she herself ceased to wait on the imperial eagles ; the ex- 
istence of Rome seemed bound up in the worship of the gods to 
whom the Tarquins had bowed, and under whose auspices Camillus 
and Scipio had marched forth to conquest. It is long since ^Eneas 
found Evander and Pallas celebrating on the supreme mount those 
services of religion for which Rome has always been noted, and 
through which she became so great. But the preparatory work 
which her sword has performed over dominions so immense, has 
come to an end ; and before she can unfold the infinitely sublimer 
influence which is destined for her to employ, she has herself to 
bend before the Cross. All things of earth seemed about to perish. 
The antique civilization was drawing to a close, and creeds, man- 
ners, science, letters, sank to the lowest degradation, and chaos the 
most dismal was imminent. 

It was then that the last of the prophets found an echo in the 
first of the Evangelists, and the new revelation began where the old 
ended. The words which Isaiah originally recorded, " Prepare ye 
the way of the Lord, make his paths straight," and which an- 


nounced the mission of all natural forces ruled by a divine purpose, 
were repeated by Malachi at the close of the Hebrew scriptures, 
and constituted the first command of the precursor of the true 
Messiah. These words were written B. c. 420, at the time when 
philosophy was enlightening the Greeks with moral wisdom, and 
Rome was advancing toward the grandeur of her republican great- 
ness ; and were resounding in the accents of a living tongue when 
Darius and Alexander met at Arbela, B. c. 331, and the East fell 
into the embrace of the West. While these and such like potsherds 
were contending with each other from first to last, the splendor and 
omnipotence of the Deity were revealed to the prophet Elias, as 
he journeyed forty days toward the holy mountain, and divinely 
illuminated his mortal eyes. There came a great and mighty wind, 
which made havoc of trees and rocks, but God was not in the 
wind. There came afterward a violent earthquake with fire, but 
he was in neither the earthquake nor in the fire. Then there arose 
the soft breath and gentle movement of tender air ; in this was the 
immediate presence of God, and in awe and reverence the prophet 
veiled his face. Such was the origin and nature of Christianity, 
compared with the crash and cruelty of war it came to supersede. 
In the lifetime of Augustus, Christ was born ; under Tiberius, the 
foundation of the Christian religion was laid ; and during the reign 
of Nero the authentic record of that infinite mercy brightened the 
first fair page of Roman history. 

Of all ancient literatures, the Roman was most insensible to past 
beauty, and future progress. The only voice among them, which 
chimed with the continuous prophets and evangelists of advancing 
humanity was the vague aspiration of Virgil, expressed in his 
Eclogue to Pollio. Therein, the blessings of peace are celebrated, 
and the prospects of a yet better age are foreshadowed. Notwith- 
standing the power of prejudice and imperialism, the better instincts 
of enlightened man in every age have anticipated a still fairer 
golden age, and prepared for its advent. When the great orient 
from on high rose over the wilderness of Roman life, the Gentiles, 
with prompt gratitude hailed from the East its long-desired beams. 
At that time earth afforded nothing better for the soul to feed upon 
than the mere dross of religion, which remains in the crucible of a 
godless reason, after the evaporation of all spirit and life. Some- 



tiling positive arid inspiring was needed in palpable manifestation, 
and the blessedness of Heaven came into the great middle path of 
humanity to roll on the ages in brightening splendors. Says Bunsen r 
" Judaism died of having given birth to Him who proclaimed the 
Spirit of the Law. Hellenism met Christianity by its innate con- 
sciousness of the incarnation, and then died ; surviving only by 
eternal thought and imperishable art. Romanism taught young; 
Christianity to regulate the spirit in its application to the concerns 
of human society ; when, after it became powerful, it taught a 
religious corporation to resist a despotic and corrupt court, and to 
civilize barbarians." 

Jesus came to do his work of salvation, not as a mighty one, 
nor as a High Priest, or even as a Jew ; he does it simply as the 
" Son of Man," an inestimable blessing for all mankind. The mate- 
rial temple was therefore doomed to be destroyed, never to be re- 
built ; for thenceforth the temple of God is man. This union, which 
the great Mediator declared to be the essence of true religion, will 
be carried on by that Spirit of God which was in Jesus, and which 
by his being One with the Father, made him the very mirror and 
eternal thought of divine love. As Jesus, in his progressive life 
and work glorified the Father, so believing humanity, in the pro- 
gressiveness of the truth on earth will glorify God in heaven. As 
it was up to the point where universal history culminated in the 
advent of Christ, so doubtless will it continue to be. Nations may 
perish by the judgment of God, and new nations take their place ; 
but the truth and righteousness of God will become increasingly 
manifest, until all divine purposes are realized, and the whole 
world is blessed. 

The Romans were distinguished by their keen enjoyment of car- 
nal pleasures, and their excess in every form of physical and mental 
indulgence. Never were a people mightier in strength or more 
lawless in action. From the time when Brutus first stained his 
name with the blood of assassination, to the darker period when 
Nero rioted in the most brutal vices, never were a people more 
colossal in moral guilt as well as in martial dominion. The pro- 
fusion and luxury of a Roman life were commensurate with their 
capacity for gross excitement and the means of gratifying it, both 
of which were boundless. All that earth could furnish they com- 


manded, but even this was insufficient to feed the flames of their lust, 
and, through grovelling debasement, they sank to the brink of 
extinction. The fitting symbol of their volcanic character and 
condition was Vesuvius when, B. c. 73, Spartacus, a fugitive slave, 
at the head of a hoard of gladiators and fellow-vassals in revolt, 
encamped on the summit, where they were blockaded in the midst 
of impending flames. The fearful unsatisfied desire to soar into 
infinity common to every human breast, in them took no nobler 
form than that powerful instinct of patriotism which burned in a 
few heroes and patriots. Regulus, who, with eyes cast down, tore 
himself from his kindred, quitted Rome, and hurried to the country 
of his enemies; Decius, who, devoting himself to the infernal 
gods, invoked their vengeance upon his head, and rushed into the 
arms of death, seemed rather demigods than men. But, com- 
pared with the glowing cheerfulness of Leonidas, they were barba- 
rians, since the law they fulfilled was without love. Even those 
who died at Thermopylae can scarcely be regarded to have been 
actuated by true patriotism ; but in fulfilling a national vow as they 
fell, there was something sublimer manifested than Rome ever 
knew, when the Spartan leader dictated that lofty inscription 
on the mountain-monument, " Stranger, tell at Lacedaemon, that 
we died here in obedience to her sacred laws." 

Having attained an almost boundless power over the earth, the 
Romans neglected the traditional deities of their forefathers, and 
set themselves up as gods. The Egyptians deified brutes; the 
Greeks, ideas ; and the Romans, men. The religion of the latter, 
or bond which kept the tumultuous aggregation of conquered 
nations moving sympathetically round one centre, was glory and 
luxury; hence, the monuments which the Romans have handed 
down to us as the true chronicles of their times, are least of all 
religious, such as the Coliseum, the Baths, Theatres, and Triumphal 
Arches. At the darkest and most oppressive hour appeared Jesus, 
and a religion was preached which gave to monotheism, until then 
a national worship of the Hebrews, a cosmopolitic character. All 
men were invited to become Christians by the apostles of that 
great founder of this faith, who had abstained not only from touch- 
ing upon politics in general, but from any question which does not 
directly belong to religion and morality, or is not nearly allied with 


either. Nothing was permitted to be an obstacle in the way of his 
religion being received at once in all climes and by all classes of 
mankind. The spiritual value of the individual was immeasurably 
raised, and Jehovah was proclaimed to be the God of all men, high 
or low, distant or near, and before whom all are equal. A territory 
was made known beyond the state ; and every man, slave or citizen, 
was shown to be a moral agent, bound under the highest law to 
fulfill his duties and receive his reward according to his deeds. Re- 
ligion was no longer the apotheosis of might, but the discharge of 
duty and the worship of love. 

By its own unaided wisdom, the ancient world could never com- 
prehend the mystery of creation. The Mosaic writings were early 
rendered into Greek, and many critics, probably, before Longinus, 
felt and admired their sublimity ; but they knew not what to make 
of these remarkable novelties, and the best of the Greeks and 
Romans never wrote as if they were at home in them. Nor could 
it well be otherwise, since their notions respecting the origin of 
man, as well as concerning the purpose of all knowledge, were so 
absurd. The grosser element of the human being, earth, occupied 
the chief consideration, while the spark of divinity in man was 
viewed as a theft from heaven, and the reward of successful 
knavery. Still less could they comprehend the mystery of re- 
demption. Their consciousness with respect to God was thoroughly 
disorganized, and through thousands of years they oscillated be- 
tween the lower and higher life in perpetual restlessness. They 
dwelt perpetually between atonement and thanksgiving, without 
one true and distinct comprehension of either. The smoke of 
sacrifice ascended from innumerable oblations perpetually renewed, 
but the effective sacrifice was never found, and the benighted wor- 
shiper still felt himself alienated from God. The heart of human- 
ity bore an enigma which time and sense could never solve. 
Bunsen well states the facts as follows : " Christ put an end to this 
unhappy discord by the free and loving surrender of his own will 
to that of the Father ; an act of life and death, in which Christ 
and the whole Christian Church throughout the world with Him, 
recognize the self-sacrifice of the Deity himself, and which philoso- 
phy (in other words, reason awakened to consciousness,) demands 
as an eternal act of God. Through this act of eternal love, the act 


of the Incarnate God, as many as believed in it, became recipients 
of the new spirit, of a new, divine, inward power. The inward con- 
sciousness of the eternal redeeming love of God (that is faith) im- 
parted the capacity of feeling at one with God in spite of sin ; for 
it gave men the power of severing sin, as an evil hostile element, 
from their real self, and therefore of freeing their life from that self- 
ishness, which is the root of all evil in it. A free devotion to God 
and our brethren in thankful love now became possible a devotion 
for God's sake, arising from a feeling of gratitude toward Him who 
first loved us. In the language of historical revelation this idea is 
thus expressed. The great atonement or Bin-offering of mankind 
was consummated by Christ, by means of his personal sacrifice : 
the great thank-offering of mankind became possible through 
Christ, by means of the Spirit." 

Thus, cotemporaneously with Augustus transpired that central 
event of all history. The free personal sacrifice of Christ offered 
once for all, gloriously realizing all that of which the whole Leviti- 
cal priesthood and sacrifice was nothing but a shadow and a type. 
Man had already tenanted the earth thousands of years, when that 
child was born whose mission was to produce effects so incalculably 
great that even yet probably men are but seeing the beginning of 
them. As soon as the way was sufficiently prepared, Christ came 
to abolish the law by fulfilling it. He rendered manifest those 
sacred forms which a bigoted understanding had as yet failed to 
understand. From the bosom of a contracted people, the Son of 
Man arose to proclaim the Universal Father that God who, as the 
most intelligent of Christians declared to the Athenians, "hath 
made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of 
the earth." For this sublime doctrine the moment had at length 
arrived ; a race of men existed who were ready to receive its an- 
nouncement and appreciate its worth. Says Eusebius, "Like a 
sunbeam it streamed over the face of the earth." Mankind had 
now received something better than Greek or Roman cultivation, 
which is nothing but the varnish of civilization. The doctrines of 
Christ subdue and save humanity by making authority a thing in- 
violable, by making obedience a thing holy, and by making self- 
renouncement and charity things divine. Under the force of law, 
a Curtius or a Codrus could die for the salvation of his country, and 


a Regulus for the superstition of his oath ; but the Christian mar- 
tyrs made the like sacrifice for conscience, and the baptism of their 
blood, falling under the Cross, was the primary seed of earth's rich- 
est harvest. In the hands of Providence new wine is never put 
into old bottles. The leaven of Christianity for a season seemed 
lost in the lump of human sin ; nevertheless, it was doing its great 
work with resistless power. Its first progress was marked by blood 
and flame, only to be more widely seen and longer remembered. 
The ashes of meek heroes sowed the earth with Cadmean germs, 
powerful in growth and prolific of good. All adverse winds were 
let loose, but they only blew the fires of divine illumination into a 
loftier and wider splendor. 

During the first three hundred years after the promulgation of 
Christianity, it was assailed by the learned, ridiculed by the sar- 
castic, opposed by the mighty, and on all sides persecuted and 
oppressed. Yet the church grew and prospered. The disciples of 
Christ had other lessons to learn and other duties to perform than 
the schools of human wisdom could inculcate, but this did not pre- 
vent the existence of many learned Christians. The great Origen 
was surpassed by none of his cotemporaries among the Greeks ; 
and Minucius Felix, Tertullian, and Lactantius stood first in Latin 
ranks. It was a time when injured rights and insulted virtue de- 
manded the most exalted oratory, and the early fathers were not 
wanting in its divinest use. Chrysostom, for example, warmed his 
century like a sun. In good time certain men of the most despised 
nation came up to the great city of power and pride. They were 
regarded as the scum and ofiscouring of the lowest ranks, and their 
religious rites were declared to be impious. Their God had been 
crucified under the Procurator of Judea, and his body had been 
stolen from a hidden grave. But the new doctrines continued to 
spread, although the magistrates resisted them, and more than 
ten times the Augusti raised their swords against the " execrable 
superstition." The altars of the great gods were deserted, their 
temples decayed, their images were dethroned, and in their stead, 
in their very place often, rose the edifices of those who adored the 
Nazarene, and scorned the ancient deities of the Quirites. Thence- 
forth Borne ceased to be invincible. The East was encroached 
upon, and the West fell under the flood of hostile barbarians. The 


sceptre was removed to another city, and the huge universal empire 
was dissolved. Rome was humbled to the lowest degree, and 
bowed her neck to her captors, 

The adaptation of the primitive apostles to their respective mis- 
sions is worthy of especial attention. Peter was the rock of the 
church, representing its firmness to endure rather than its aggres- 
sive force. He was the teacher of order, as John was the disciple 
of love, and Paul the great champion of spiritual freedom and doc- 
trinal faith. At Joppa was vouchsafed to Peter the vision that 
rebuked his Jewish prejudice, and which at CaBsarea prompted this 
key-holder of the heavenly kingdom before Cornelius the Italian, 
to unfold doors to an empire which soon threw Rome into the 
shade, and hung the fragrant amaranths of peace above the bloody 
trophies of war. It is probable that he was carried to the imperial 
city to suffer martyrdom ; but that this apostle was teaching there 
when the Epistle to the Romans was written it is impossible to 
believe. To prove that fact, or even to admit that he was a teacher 
there after his brother apostle's writings were received, is to an- 
nihilate the assumption that Peter was the founder of the Roman 
church. He doubtless planted Christianity in oriental Babylon, 
but a mightier hea4 and heart were employed to distribute the 
same inestimable treasure in the West. The spheres of the two 
great leaders were unlike, but in life and death their aims and re- 
wards were one. 

The zealous Pharisee who so long and learnedly sat at the feet 
of Gamaliel, and whose soul, so like a sea of glass mingled with 
fire, was thoroughly imbued with heavenly power on the plains of 
Damascus, was the predestined hero of liberty and truth to the 
progressive races. Asiatic by birth, but European in mental struc- 
ture, his faculties were the best on earth for the work to which 
they were made subservient, when at Philippi his hand kindled the 
torch of salvation on the eastern edge of Europe, which thenceforth 
was to burn through all tempests, and with constantly increasing 
brightness, westward round the globe. Like the great lawgiver of 
the old dispensation, this pioneer of the new was master of all the 
learning of the Egyptians, and when the completed accomplish- 
ments of Greece were superadded under the transforming power of 
divine grace, the mighty aggregate was thrown upon the great 


deep, and commerce became a grand instrument of civilization. 
With the pagan signal of Castor and Pollux floating at mast-head, 
and the wealth of Africa stowed in the hold, this son of Asia bore 
a message to central Europe which would soon make every kernel 
of that seed-wheat to spring up over a renovated hemisphere, and 
to shake like Lebanon. His bonds never restrained his heroic zeal, 
but continued preaching the Gospel, and converted many of every 
rank, even some who were " saints of Caesar's household." When 
set at liberty, he sailed to Syria, rapidly passed through Asia 
Minor, and returned through Macedonia and Corinth to Rome. 
Britain may have witnessed his devotion, and Spain caught the 
inspiration of his heavenly zeal. But his chief anxiety was centred 
in that great fountain of influence, Rome, where he had founded a 
church containing a " vast multitude," according to the expression 
of Tacitus, A. D. 65, and where, according to his own presentiment, 
he was martyred the same year. 

The confessors who followed the apostles, like them won the 
approving testimony of conscience, and the profound esteem of all 
good men. Their blood was considered the seed of the church, 
which said concerning them : " To each victor is promised now the 
tree of life and exemption from the second death, now the hidden 
manna with the white stone, and an unknown name : now to be 
clothed in white, not to be blotted out of the book of life, and to be 
made a pillar in the temple of God, inscribed with the name of his 
God and Lord of the heavenly Jerusalem : and now to sit down 
with the Lord on his throne, once refused to the sons of Zebedee." 
About the beginning of the third century arose a discussion which 
throws light upon the spirit manifested by the martyr-victims of 
those days. Celsus, on the part of the heathen, reproached his 
opponents with the fortitude o'f Anaxarchus, who, when pounded in 
a mortar, exclaimed, u Pound the shell of Anaxarchus, himself you 
touch not." "What," he asks, " did your Deity say in his suffer- 
ings comparable to this ?" Origen returned the appropriate answer, 
that a pious submission to God's will, or even a prayer, such as ' l if 
it be possible, let this cup pass from me," is more truly magnani- 
mous than the affectation of insensibility, so lauded by stoical 
paganism. The martyr's surrender of his body to the executioner 
was esteemed an act of faith, a baptism unto Christ, and came to be 


regarded as a sacrament of certain efficacy, seeing that no subse- 
quent fall could annul its power. " Be thou faithful unto death," 
was evermore whispered in the ear of the confessor, " and I will give 
thee a crown of life." Thus pacific and defenceless, the primitive 
church conquered the proud array of pagan and imperial power ; 
and the doubting world, forced to admit a divine interposition in 
behalf of this new religion, beheld a testimony from heaven to its 
truth. Perhaps the strongest confidence in the resurrection, and 
the most energetic subscription to the declaration, " If our earthly 
house of this tabernacle be dissolved, we have a building of God," 
was expressed by Ignatius, who, knowing the danger often incurred 
in obtaining the remains of the martyrs, expressed a wish to be so 
entirely devoured by beasts, that no fragment of his body should 
be found. 

The emperor Julian was ambitious of establishing the old poly- 
theism on the ruins of Christianity ; and, without doubt, Diocletian 
was resolved at all hazards to extirpate the new creed. But the 
cause of truth was strong, and its strength received imperial pro- 
tection in the triumph of Constantine. Under his auspices, a new 
metropolis arose on the site of antique Byzantium, and soon left 
eclipsed the ancient capital of the world. Thus the old pagan tra- 
ditions were annihilated, and its prestige, so vivid and powerful in 
the imagination of all nations, was no more. The empire under- 
went a new division, and Constantine commenced a modification 
of the superseded institutions, which, under the law of continuous 
change, have lasted until our tune. Fatal heresies arose during the 
fourth and fifth centuries, which caused much Christian activity to 
be wasted on purely theological subjects ; stiH the church exercised 
the most pre-eminent influence, presenting the spectacle of a bound- 
less and universal activity in intellectual labors, and in the pro- 
gressive development, and advancement of civilization. Many, 
doubtless, like Celsus, were bold to say, " He must be void of under- 
standing who can believe that Greeks and barbarians, in Asia, Eu- 
rope, and Lybia, all nations to the ends of the earth, can unite in 
the reception of one and the same religious doctrine." But such 
happily was proved to be the fact. Such was the design of Jeho- 
vah, in that faith given to change all existing polities, Jewish as 
well as Gentile, into nations and states, governed by a law founded 



upon justice and charity ; and taking its highest inspirations from 
the love of God, as the common Father of mankind, declared, in the 
words of its great Founder, that " the field is the world." 

The Roman bore little noblenesss of soul in life, and found cor- 
responding gloom at its end. Brutus, whose patriotism was dark- 
ened by despair, and who died a suicide, exclaimed, " O, virtue ! 
thou art but a name." In reviewing the moral condition of the 
ancients, we find something to admire, but much to condemn. All 
things that illustrate their religious views and customs, go not only 
to exemplify the apostolic declaration, " the world by wisdom knew 
not God," but equally attest the same writer's description of the 
vices common to the heathen world. Frivolity and mirth generally 
prevailed, but true happiness was unknown. A tone of sadness 
dwelt deepest in the popular heart, as appears not only in the 
choral odes of tragedy, but even in their comic writings ; a sadness 
inseparable from the condition of gifted minds, conscious of present 
evils, ignorant of future bliss, and having no other resource than 
that insane philosophy, " Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we 
die." Gleams of divine Providence lay amid the gloomy abodes 
of polytheism ; the great truth of future retribution was suggested 
in the poetic follies of Tartarus and Elysium. A few torn wreaths 
from the wreck of Paradise seem to have floated to the Italian 
shores, elegant to suggest, but impotent to save. 

Many of the classic legends indicate a remote and universal con- 
sciousness of the natural and perpetual course of all civilizing 
powers. When Ulysses set sail from the isle of Circe, with tears 
he launched his dark vessel upon the sea, and, after sailing all day 
with a favorable wind, he arrived at sunset at the boundaries of the 
" deep flowing Oceanus," and the city of the Cimmerians, whose 
darkness is never dispelled. He there evokes the dead ; then sails 
from outer ocean back into the sea, and when he returns to the 
Circean isle, whose site had been so clearly fixed in the West, he 
finds the gates of morning and of Aurora. In Lsestrygonia, beyond 
the western horizon, were placed the herds of the sun, and the gar- 
dens of the Hesperides adjoined Eurythia, ruddy with the setting 
ray. There lived the aged Cronus, the three-bodied giant of the 
West, guarding his oxen, or the years sunk beneath the wave. 
But Hercules, in the character of Greek devotion, warring against 


Phoenician superstition, slays the dog Orthos, and the gloomy 
herdsman Eurythion, and brings back the lost kine to Argos. 
Under the guidance of Minerva, or divine wisdom presiding over 
nature, he is enabled to wield his arms of light against the prince 
of darkness ; but these labors have ever to be repeated, that the 
apples and the dog may be carefully restored by Minerva to their 
original and rightful places. These mythological fables are inter- 
esting, so far as they indicate the glimmerings of great events, but 
they also remind us of dark and desperate national characteristics. 
The Romans, especially, like the favorite deity, Bacchus, were ter- 
rible in war, but voluptuous and cruel in peace. Their demi-god, 
Hercules, who turned rivers from their courses, withdrew the dead 
from the world of shades, and struck terror into the powers of Or- 
cus, was yet the slave of his appetites, and the dupe of his mistress. 
Mental imbecility was in him, as in his worshipers, the concomitant 
of extreme physical force. It was from no love of humanity that 
Caesar led his warriors into Britain ; and yet the circumstance of 
that conquest at exactly that time, affected the whole civilization 
of what is now earth's leading race. It is thus that every success- 
ive improvement rises, phoenix-like, from the ashes of the past. 

In all ages, the most thoughtful have regarded religion as the 
unique foundation of duties, as, in turn, duties are the unique bond 
of society. Public conscience has never been obliterated, however 
much it has often been obscured. The legislators of antiquity were not 
in a condition well to understand the nature and relations of high- 
est divinity, but such revelations as were in their possession they 
employed to consolidate the social edifice, by placing religion in 
the family, and in the state, as a part of the domestic constitution 
and general government. In a manner, they caused the laws of 
heaven to descend and become attached to all the events of human 
life, and every variety of civil compacts. They even submitted in- 
animate objects, as woods, waters, and the boundary-stones of their 
patrimonies, to celestial supervision ; and, it would seem, strove to 
multiply their gods to an infinite extent, prompted by that in- 
stinctive consciousness which every where links the finite creature 
to his eternal Creator. " Let one attempt to build a city in the 
air," said Plutarch, " rather than expect to found and long preserve 
a state from which the gods are driven." Instructed by all prece- 


ding experience, and universal tradition, ancient wisdom compre- 
hended thoroughly that there was no national perpetuity save as 
religion contributed that divine force, foreign to the works of men, 
and indispensable to the creation of durable institutions. Aristotle 
recognized in this the common law, and Cicero declared it to be 
the source of all obligations, the base, support, and main regulator, 
of states constituted according to nature, and under the direction 
of supreme intelligence. Plato taught that in every Republic, the 
first endeavor should be to establish true religion, and to place the 
welfare of all youth under executive protection. When this was 
least regarded at Rome, as under the first Caesars, all the bonds of 
society were at once loosened, and the empire subsequently suffered 
complete dissolution under the blows of those barbaric nations who 
were sent of God to overthrow an atheistic people, and prepare the 
way for a diviner faith. It is a sad prudence which, to obtain a 
few minutes of false peace, would sacrifice the future of faith and 
the life of society. 

Jesus Christ changed neither religion, nor laws, nor duties ; but 
by developing and consummating the primitive law in his own per- 
son, and through his disciples, he elevated a religious society into 
a body politic, the first perfect commonwealth, wherein he designed 
that all families should ultimately become one family, governed by 
liis own legislation alone, himself their only chief. 

LEO X.: 




" The entire succession of men, through the whole course of ages, must 
be regarded as one man, always living and incessantly learning." BLAISE 

" It is hard to find a whole ago to imitate, or what century to propose for 
our example. Some have been far more approvable than others : but virtue 
and vice, panegyrics and satires, scatteringly to be found in all history, seta 
down not only things laudable but abominable ; things which should never 
have been, or never have been known. So that noble patterns must be 
fetched here and there from single persons rather than whole nations, and 
from whole nations rather than any one." SIB THOMAS BROWN. 

"Always with a change of era, there had to be a change of practice and 
outward relations brought about, if not peaceably, then by violence, for 
brought about it had to be ; there could be no rest come till then. How 
many eras and epochs not noted at the moment, which, indeed, is the 
blessedest condition of epochs, that they come quietly, making no proclama- 
tion of themselves, and are only visible long after. A Cromwell Rebellion, 
a French Revolution, striking on the horologe of time, to tell all mortals 
what a clock it has become, are too expensive, if one could help it." THOMAS 

"Stand up: I myself also am a man." ACTS x. 26. 





THE fall of the western empire was a strange phenomenon. The 
Roman people did not only abandon the government in its strug- 
gles against the barbarous invaders, but when left to themselves, did 
not attempt any resistance on their own behalf. During the whole 
protracted conflict, the nation endured all the scourges of war, de- 
vastation, and famine, and suffered an entire change in its character 
and condition, without acting, remonstrating, or even appearing. 
Their passive submission to inevitable destiny at the great crisis of 
changeful progress was most complete. 

We do wrong to regard the middle age as a blank in human his- 
tory, a useless void between the refinement of antiquity and the 
freedom of modern times. No vital element of civilization actually 
died, though all may have fallen into deep sleep, from which they 
awoke in a wonderful and sublime manner after a thousand years. 
The substantial portion of antique knowledge and civilization never 
was forgotten, nor was its better spirit disused, but through subse- 
quent and superior invention has reappeared in many of the best 
and noblest productions of modern genius. The fullness of creative 
fancy characterized the period between the Trojan adventurers and 
the times of Solon and Pericles, the fountain-head of that variety, 
originality, and beauty, which marked the unrivaled productions 
of a later era. What that primary growth was to the richest har- 
vest of Greece, the early centuries of mediaeval literature were to 

232 LEO x. 

all the diversified wealth of modern Europe. The frigid tempestu- 
ousness of winter essentially precedes the silent process of vernal 
vegetation, just as spring must go before the rich maturity of au- 
tumnal fruit. When the sources of life were drying up in the im- 
mense body of Rome, the fountain of northern energy broke upon 
the mighty colossus, whose head was still of iron, though its feet 
were of clay. It fell for its own good and the welfare of the human 
race ; for the sap of a loftier development was so to imbue it, that 
soon it should be created anew, full of a diviner strength and nobler 
life. The two opposing poles thus came into a needful contact with 
each other, and, by means of the elemental struggle occasioned by 
the civilization of the one, and the barbarism of the other, a happy 
equilibrium was established between both. The rugged North has 
always redeemed the effete South, and, by a succession of such 
amalgamations, secured to humanity perpetual improvement. It is 
only in this way that new races are assimilated to the old and 
raised above their level. The inert principle of barbarism at least 
possesses granite strength, to sustain the active element of civiliza- 
tion and bear it forward. An armful of green fuel thrown upon a 
dying fire, seems to quench it in clouds of smoke ; but soon the 
moisture is evaporated, the fibres kindle to living flames, and the 
hearth glows with a purer and more grateful brightness than 

The Middle Ages, according to the ordinary use of the term, 
comprise a thousand years, and extend from the invasion of France 
by Clovis, to that of Naples by Charles VIH. But in the sense of 
our own designation, the age of Leo X. includes that period, and 
just so much additional time as was requisite to the full expansion 
of the mediaeval spirit, when it was superseded by another age as 
unlike its predecessor as this is different from the two which in suc- 
cession went before. We should guard against exaggerating the 
influence of the Germanic invasions, lest we assign an accidental 
character to the temporal condition of the times under review. The 
invasions themselves were a necessary result of the final extinction 
of Roman domination. In our late sketch of the progressive great- 
ness of that power, we saw that the Roman empire was bounded 
on one -side by the great oriental theocracies, too remote and un- 
congenial for incorporation ; and westward, by hunting or shepherd 


hordes, who, not being settled nations, could not be effectually sub- 
dued. The process of invasion was gradual as that of conquest, 
though its apparent success could not be permanent till the vigor 
of the Roman heart was exhausted. The incorporation of bar- 
barians in the imperial armies, and the abandonment of certain 
provinces, on condition that new invaders should be kept in check, 
prepared the way for that radical and marked transition which was 
consummated in the fifth century. The age of martial force was 
superseded by the age of scientific invention ; an age full of mili- 
tary activity in its first centuries, but which essentially changed its 
character as the civilized world assumed its new position. It almost 
immediately lost its offensive attitude, and exercised those defensive 
functions which so strongly characterized feudal life. Political dis- 
persion soon prevailed over the preceding system of concentration ; 
and this afforded both motive and scope for the direct and special 
participation of individuals, rather than the thorough subordination 
of all partial movements to the absolute direction of centralized 

As in the preceding ages, so in this, the East was the source of 
all subsequent worth. Italy, in the northern deluge, was the pre- 
destined Mount Ararat ; the last reached by the flood, and the first 
left.. The history of modern Europe must necessarily be referred 
to Florence, as the history of all-conquering force has ever been 
ascribed to Rome. The great ascendancy of the Medici, and the 
influence of Italian genius at that epoch on literature, art, science, 
philosophy, and religion of the world, made that fair city the centre 
of light, the sovereign of thought, the beautifier of life, and the me- 
tropolis of civilization. The fall of old Rome and the rise of new 
Italy, were events as desirable as they were inevitable. The mission 
of the former had ceased before any foreign nation ventured across 
the Alps. With an animal instinct the superannuated body sum- 
moned all the remnants of vital energy to the heart, only to wit- 
ness the fatal prostration of its members, and realize its final doom. 
Says Mariotti, " The barbarian invasion had then the effect of an 
inundation of the Nile. It found a land exhausted with its own 
efforts, burning and withering under the rays of the same tropical 
sun which had called into action its productive virtues, and languish- 
ing into a slow decay, from which no reaction could ever redeem 

234 LEO x. 

it. Then, from the bosom of unexplored mountains, prepared in 
the silence of untrodden regions, the flood roared from above : the 
overwhelming element washed away the last pale remnants of a 
faded vegetation ; but the seasons had their own course. Gardens 
and fields smiled again on those desolate marshes. Palms and 
cedars again waved their crests to the skies in all the pride of 
youth, as if singing the praises of the Creator, and attesting that 
man alone perishes, and his works but Nature is immortal." 

Until the age of Odoacer and Theodoric, A. D. 493, there was 
nothing but ravage and ruin; but then the morning star of a 
brighter day arose, and under the auspices of these two monarchy 
the foundation was commenced of the new social edifice. Alboin, 
king of the Lombards, was crowned in Italy, about A. D. 568, an 
epoch in which the great crisis which divided the ancient from the 
modern world was passed. This people were in Italy what the 
Saxons were in England. They were the bravest, and freest, as 
well as most barbarous of the Teutonic races. The conquest of 
the South not having cost them a drop of blood, it is said that the 
whole host, as they descended from their Alpine fastnesses, settled 
on the lands of fair Italy, rather as new tenants than conquerors. 
They carried along with them their wives and families, and cher- 
ished their adopted home with ardent enthusiasm. Their martial 
spirit eventually gave place to other not less active and laborious 
habits ; and through their love of home, together with other domes- 
tic virtues, the German nations gave Italy, as well as Europe, that 
form of government of which our own age has witnessed the final 
catastrophe the feudal system. 

The Roman frontier on the banks of the Rhine and the Danube, 
with its long line of castles, fortresses, and cities, lay mainly within 
the German territory. Here the nations of central Europe saw 
their brethren of a kindred race living under the control of laws 
which the freer classes sought to repel by force of arms; but 
they could but observe the superior advantages of civilization, and 
desire to penetrate those beautiful countries whence they were de- 
rived. Consequently the Suevi, the Saxons, and the Goths 
opposed to the Roman fortifications a living frontier-wall, and mov- 
ing westward, not only possessed themselves of, but soon peopled 
with new nations and vivifying powers both the South and North. 


The protracted contest between the kings of Lombardy and the 
Greek Exarchs of Ravenna, provoked the arbitration of the Franks, 
and led to the establishment of their protectorate over Italy ; as 
afterwards they became the head of the great Christian empire 
throned in Germany. Thenceforward the Franks constituted the 
leading state of the West. In the meantime its rival power in the 
East, the Byzantine empire, was sinking even lower in the scale 
of moral, political, and intellectual degradation. At the fitting 
moment, the Saracenic empire was called into provisional existence, 
and made to gather under the tedious uniformity of its despotic 
protection whatever of civilizing elements remained in the orient, 
and plant them where they might unfold a more salutary life from 
the fresh soil of the European West. 

The Eastern Empire, founded by Constantine, had no ennobling 
traditions of any kind, for it was neither Greece nor Rome. It 
possessed neither the power nor the energy requisite to discover 
and appreciate the new end of activity introduced by Christian ideas. 
Hence, there was no progress in the intellectual domain, or in the 
fine arts ; hence, also, every thing that tended to ameliorate the 
social state and exalt all ranks, advanced with languor at Byzan- 
tium. It was her office simply to guard the palladium of human 
weal during the ten centuries of western formations, and then to 
fall to rise no more till a succeeding cycle shall redeem her in 
common with the entire old hemisphere. 

Greek literature continued to decline under the Greek emperors. 
A vast number of books, produced during this period, have been 
preserved, but only a very small portion of them inspire much in- 
terest. It is a singular fact, that, even when the Latin language 
was in its highest cultivation, no Greek seems to have studied it, 
much less to have attempted to write it. But the Latins, on the 
contrary, so long as any taste remained among them, did not 
cease to admire and to cultivate the language of Greece. Like 
every other valuable current, taste and learning move westward 
only. Placed between Asia and Europe, Byzantium became the 
great centre to which learned men could resort, and stimulate each 
other by mutual collision. Justinian reigned from A. D. 527 to 
565. He was a talented prince, who, among the noblest objects 
of ambition, disdained not the less illustrious name of poet and 

286 LEO x - 

philosopher, lawyer and theologian, musician and architect. 
It might have been expected that under such auspices literature 
and art would not only claim the highest patronage, but produce 
corresponding results. Few works, however, of any eminence 
appeared, except the laborious compilations on jurisprudence, under 
the titles of the Code, the Pandects, and the Institutes, which were 
partly extracted from the writings of former civilians, and digested 
into a complete system of law, by the great scholar and statesman 
Tribonian. Justinian espoused such labors as were connected with 
his own glory ; while in other respects he has been represented as 
an enemy to learning, when, by an edict, he imposed a perpetual 
silence on the schools of Athens ; and when, from rapacity, or from 
the real want of money to complete the expensive edifices on which 
he was engaged, he confiscated the stipends, which, in many cities, 
had been appropriated from a remote period to support the masters 
of liberal arts. 

As the tide ebbs here, it rises elsewhere. When the Mohamme- 
dan civilization had spread with the rapidity of lightning toward 
the West, where it was overpowered by France, Charlemagne crea- 
ted the first real elements of national organization ; he so modified 
sacred and secular legislation as to establish civil power on the 
basis of spiritual authority. This followed immediately upon that 
fusion and variety to which Europe is indebted for all that mani- 
foldness of excellence which may be traced in modern literature, 
art, and science. During ten centuries, a general confusion and 
fermentation was all that the superficial might observe; but a 
deeper investigation revealed an utility in the decrees of Provi- 
dence of the sublimest moment, for it produced a new civilization, 
the richest and most fertile earth had borne. Instead of universal 
ruin, every thing bore the impress of regeneration. There was 
darkness, indeed, but it was a gloom out of which auspicious light 
arose, a healthy, vigorous barbarism which contained the latent 
seed of loftiest culture. Society at large was for a long time a 
chaotic mass, not, however, of dead matter, but of living and mov- 
ing germs ready to spring into full bloom at the first touch of crea- 
tive power. As from the bosom of primeval night, the brightness, 
vitality, and order of the universe were gradually unfolded, so the 
political and religious institutions of the Teutonic race, the mighty 


fabric of mediaeval civilization, sprung from the inborn vigor of 
noble barbarism. Mind was not less active nor less powerful than 
that in earlier ages, but still contained within itself the eternal 
elements from which a new creation was to spring. The waters 
subsided, and fertile soils again teemed with life ; but new trees 
and plants, and new races appeared, and but few vestiges remained 
of the ancient order of things. It is cheering to contemplate the 
progressive national development, the fullness of life, the stir, the 
activity, manifested in the commerce and industry, art and science 
of Italy, Spain, France, Germany, and England, from the fifth to 
the fifteenth century, compared with the mournful monotony which 
pervaded the Byzantine empire. The dead treasures of Grecian 
knowledge were never turned to account till they were grasped by 
the vigorous Teutonic intellect in its maturity, and when, on the 
destruction of the eastern empire, the seeds of that immortal litera- 
ture were scattered over the wide domain of the free West. The 
habits of mental exertion, prior to Pericles, which led to supreme 
political and intellectual dominion over the East, were confirmed 
by the emergencies of a foreign invasion. The genius of the 
Augustan age was matured in the civil wars which rocked the 
cradle of Rome and nourished her growth. But the restoration of 
literature and the arts in western Europe was achieved through an 
instrumentality utterly unlike the preceding steps of human ad- 
vancement; and which, in vivacity and universality of interest 
prompted thereby, has no parallel in the progress of our race. 
The passionate exhilaration then kindled by great popular events, 
such as the attempt to recover the Holy Land, transformed all sus- 
ceptible classes too powerfully to admit of a relapse into apathy or 

Thus the line of demarcation is clear, and the course of medi- 
aeval progress is not less evident. The tenth year of the fifth century 
saw Alaric with his Goths within the walls of Rome. By the year 
476 of our era, Africa obeyed the Vandals ; Spain and part of Gaul 
were subject to the Goths ; the Burgundians and Franks occupied 
the remainder ; and the Saxons ruled the most of Britain. From 
the great " Storehouse of Nations " were poured forth successive 
swarms of those barbarous tribes who were our progenitors, and 
who, in the moral course of things, pressed on from change to 

238 LEO x. 

change, as humanity is ever compelled to ascend the arduous steep 
of excellence. From the fifth to the tenth century, the various 
races mingled without being compounded ; but the collision of 
mighty nations, and the mixture of diverse mother-tongues, soon 
confounded all the dialects, and gave rise to new ones in their 
place. During these centuries of confusion which preceded and 
prepared the way for modern languages, it was impossible for 
Europe to possess any native literature. The talent for writing was 
small, and, indeed, the very materials were yet more limited. 
Parchment was enormously dear, and paper was not yet invented, 
or introduced by commerce into the West. It is said that the 
most sublime works of antiquity were sometimes erased, for the 
purpose of substituting some private agreement or some legen- 
dary tale. 

Literature, the immortality of speech, embalms all monarchs of 
thought, and guards their repose in the eternal pyramids of fame. 
" What is writing ?" asked Pepin, the son of Charlemagne. Alcuin 
replied, "It is the guardian of history." The sumptuous cities 
which have lighted the world since the beginning of time, and all 
the progressive heroes who have constituted the vanguard of na- 
tional improvement, are now seen only in the light furnished by 
the great annalists of early triumphs. The dart that pierced the 
Persian breast-plate molders in the dust of Marathon, and the 
gleam of the battle-axe, wielded by the impassioned crusader, has 
passed away ; but the arrow of Pindar still quivers with the life of 
his bow, and the romantic adventures of mediaeval zeal are perpet- 
uated in the unwasting freshness of new-born letters. When 
Gothic night descended, the ancient classics were for a time forgot- 
ten ; but in secluded retreats the ritual of genius continued to be 
solemnized, and the sacred fire of learning burned upon its shat- 
tered shrines, until torch after torch carried the flame to the re- 
motest quarter in the track of the sun. That light never sets, but 
sheds itself upon succeeding generations in diversified hues of splen- 
dor. Homer glows in the softened beauty of Virgil, and Dante 
passed the purified flambeau to Milton's mightier hand. Litera- 
ture, like art, suffers fearful vicissitudes and mutilations ; but, unlike 
her more fragile sister, she can not be easily destroyed. A casualty 
may shatter into dust that statue of Minerva whose limbs seemed 


to breathe under the flowing robe, and her lips to move ; but the 
fierceness of the Goth, the fanaticism of the crusader, and the 
frenzy of the iconoclast, have not extirpated Penelope and Electra, 
nor defaced the calm beauty of sublime martyr worth. 

Poetry is the making of thought, and not the least interesting 
are the primitive productions of those who created the vernacular 
dialects of modern Europe. They call glorious shadows into the 
crystal of memory, as the Charmer of their day peopled his glass 
with faces of the absent. Mirrors of magic represent the inventions 
of the minstrel; and with the thrill of national affinity in our 
heart, our eyes perhaps lend a fascinating brightness to the provi- 
dential wonders they behold. 

The irruption of barbarians above described gradually shut out 
from the world the old Roman literature, and a period of general 
darkness transpired before the new languages arose to compensate 
for the loss. But while the corrupt Latin was retiring, the Italian 
and German languages were assuming their native form. The 
langue d'oc of the south of France was flourishing, closely connected 
with the Catalan ; and the langue cTotl of the north was rapidly 
becoming the French language. France was then the literary 
centre of Europe. Through the Normans, her language was spread 
from Sicily to England ; her vernacular literature was imitated in 
Germany, and became naturalized in both Italy and Spain. The 
Troubadours of the south and the Trouveres of the north diffused a 
taste for letters in every direction, and their gay science was 'the 
partial inspirer and faithful companion of chivalry. The great age 
of Leo was commenced when the common people were addressed 
in their own native tongue, and it was indignantly, but truthfully, 
said, that " all the splendid distinctions of mankind were thereby 
thrown down ; and the naked shepherd levelled with the knight 
clad in steel." The most valuable works were translated into the 
dialect of each tribe or nation; and the effect of this circumstance 
was very great in multiplying the number of readers and of 
thinkers, and in giving stability to the mutable forms of oral speech. 
Thus the foundations of the great social movements of European 
civilization were laid, in those modern languages which were the 
result of a slow popular elaboration, and in which the corresponding 
civilization is reflected. The Italians led the way, and lit that 

240 LEO X. 

torch which was passed over to Switzerland, and thence to Germany, 
France, Holland, England, and the still remoter West. The grave 
of the old civilization was the cradle of the new ; a more auspicious 
dispensation, whose divinest apostles, as in preceding cycles, were 
requited with crucifixion and martyrdom. 

The first period of Leoine literature arose in the scholastico- 
romantic epoch, which extended down to the renaissance, or epoch 
of enthusiasm for pagan antiquity. The temporal supremacy of 
this was prepared when Pepin the Younger undertook to defend 
" the Holy Church of the Republic of God" against the Lombards, 
and compelled them to evacuate the territory held by the Exarchate. 
He placed the keys of the conquered towns on the altar of St. Peter, 
and in this act he laid the foundation of the whole temporal power 
of the popes. Thenceforward the Gallic archbishops and monarchs 
received both pallium and crown from Rome, and all great powers 
were exercised in the West. The Merovingian race of kings had 
perished, and the Carlovingian house ruled with imperial splendor. 
While all the East was sinking into one common ruin, and the 
whole world appeared about to become the prey of the Moslem, the 
founder of this famous family, Pepin of Heristral caused the civil 
power to coalesce with ecclesiastical dominion under Gregory the 
Second, and presented the first effectual resistance to the Mahome- 
tan conquerors. The alliance between the pope and the emperor 
which was thus begun, Charlemagne perfected, and received his 
reward when, on Christmas-eve, A. D. 800, the diadem of the 
western empire was laid upon his head by the supreme pontiff in 
the ancient metropolis. Says Guizot, in his History of Representa- 
tive Government, " Charlemagne desired conquests, in order to ex- 
tend his renown and dominion ; the Franks were unwilling to be 
without a share in their own government ; Charlemagne held frequent 
national assemblies, and employed the principal members of the 
territorial aristocracy as dukes, counts, missi-dominici, and in other 
offices. The clergy were anxious to possess consideration, authority, 
and wealth. Charlemagne held them in great respect, employed 
many bishops in the public service, bestowed on them rich endow- 
ments, and attached them firmly to him, by proving himself a 
munificent friend and patron of those studies of which they were 
almost the only cultivators. In eveiy direction toward which tho 


active and energetic minds of the time turned their attention, 
Charlemagne was always the first to look ; and he proved himself 
more warlike than the warriors, more careful of the interests of the 
church than her most devout adherents, a greater friend of litera- 
ture than the most learned men, always foremost in every career, 
and thus bringing every thing to a kind of unity, by the single fact 
that his genius was every where in harmony with his age, because 
he was its most perfect representative, and that he was capable of 
ruling it because he was superior to it. But the men who are thus 
before their age, in every respect, are the only men who can gain 
followers ; Charlemagne's personal superiority was the indispensable 
condition of the transitory order which he established." This new 
and wonderful stage of progress in the social relations of men, and 
this transformation of the popular mind under the auspices of a 
Christian form of government, marked the seven centuries which 
elapsed from the reign of Charlemagne to the discovery of the New 
World, and the commencement of the Reformation. 

That vast series of emigrations which planted tribes of Gothic 
blood over large tracts of Europe, and established that race as sove- 
reigns in remote regions, came also into the British Islands. But 
the Anglo-Saxon invaders, instead of planting stationary garrisons, 
like the Romans, merely to overawe, introduced colonies, with an 
immense stream of active population. The gloom which long 
covered this field of high designs was that which goes before the 
dawn, and bright rays were soon observed to shine forth. The 
fierce savages who fought under Caractacus, Boadicea, or Galgacus, 
and those Britons who at a later period occupied the stately Roman 
towns in the south and west of the island, or cultivated the fertile 
districts that lay around their walls, were succeeded by a much 
superior race. Here, as elsewhere, literature began to be nourished 
by the consolidation of the new languages, which were successively 
developed in all European countries to such a degree that they 
were fully adequate as instruments for recording and using the 
results of human advancement. It was the age of Theodoric, 
Charlemagne, and Alfred, to whose royal influence, probably, toge- 
ther with the dispersion of the Normans, should be accredited the 
principal occasions, if not causes, of revived intellect. 

At the accession of Charlemagne, we are told that no means of 


242 LEO x. 

education existed in his dominions; but Theodnlf of Germany, 
Alcuin of England, and Clement of Ireland, were the true Paladins 
who repaired to his court. With the help of these masters, schools 
were established in all the chief cities; nor was the noble monarch 
ashamed to be the disciple of that in his own palace under the care 
of Alcuin. As early as the ninth century, Lyons, Fulda, Corvey, 
Eheims, and other large towns, enjoyed flourishing establishments 
of learning. At an earlier period, Pepin requested some books 
from the pontiff, Paul I. "I have sent to yon what books I could 
find," replied his holiness. To such a benefactor to the apostolic 
see, the selection, doubtless, was as munificent as gratitude could 
make it ; but, in fact, only seven works were sent, all Greek com- 
positions. From the beginning, however, books fell into the channel 
common to all progress, and traveled westward only. 

In the sixth century lived Gregory of Tours, whose ten volumes 
of original annals entitle him to be called the father of French and 
German story. In A.D. 668, Theodore, an Asiatic Greek by birth, 
was sent to old England by the pope, through whom and his com- 
panion, Adrian, some knowledge of the classics was diffused among 
the Anglo-Saxon race. Early in the eighth century arose the great 
ornament of that age and island, the Venerable Bede, who surpassed 
every other name in primitive literature of indigenous growth. 
The central school of York was established, whence the Anglo- 
Saxon Alcuin came to be the great luminary at the court of Char- 
lemagne. But during the long wars waged by the successors of 
that great agent of Providence, all seemed to relapse into utter 
confusion again, and ignorance stretched its roots deeper down, to 
the year one thousand of our era, which has been considered as the 
lowest extreme of degradation, the nadir of human intelligence. 
It was indeed an iron age, but compared with the seventh and 
eighth centuries, the tenth possessed superior illumination as a 
whole. Darkness and calamity were still the concomitants of 
progress, but the shadows grew fainter as night declined, and the 
nations rejoiced in the new twilight which reddened into the lustre 
of a higher day. The intellectual energies of mankind might be 
impeded, but they were never in an absolutely stationary condition ; 
but nations, as well as individuals, were born in the fitting time and 
place to advance the landmarks of popular improvement and the 


general weal. At the moment when the great West lay apparently 
torpid, in the silent formation of a powerful amalgamation of all old 
historical elements, a new nation was suddenly produced to gather 
up whatever valuable relics remained in the East, and bring them 
across continents to the great fountain of subsequent improvement. 
Masters of the country of the Magi, and the Chaldeans, whence the 
first light had shone over mankind ; of Egypt, the storehouse of 
human science ; of Asia Minor, that fertile and beautiful land, where 
poetry and the fine arts had their origin ; and of the burning plains 
of Africa, that dark domain of Ham, the country of impetuous elo- 
quence, and subtle intellect; Arabian adventurers, the splendid 
bastard progeny of Shem, in a manner combined within themselves 
the advantages of all the nations which they had subjugated, and 
laid the invaluable treasures they accumulated at the feet of Japhet, 
on the throne of the West. 

Of the new languages which were produced at the close of the 
tenth century, one appeared to prevail over all others, and became 
widely spread. Innumerable writers almost cotemporarieously em- 
ployed this recent vernacular, which owed nothing of its originality 
to what is usually termed classical literature. They rapidly spread 
their reputation from Spain to Italy, and from Germany to England, 
and as suddenly disappeared. While the nations were yet listening 
in wonder, the voice of the Troubadours became silent, the Proven- 
cal dialect was abandoned, and its productions were ranked among 
the dead languages. This, too, was a part of that process in the 
moral world, as in the natural, wherein the fresh germ is hidden 
beneath decay, and that which we in our short-sightedness deplore, 
is most essential to the new life already proceeding from death. 
The greatest excellence is often elaborated amid the severest trials, 
and the calamities we would gladly avert, have most of all contrib- 
uted to progress, intellectual and moral. 

Simultaneous with the Provencal poetry, chivalry had its rise. 
It was the soul of the new literature, and gave to it a character 
generically different from any thing in antiquity. Chivalry is not 
synonymous with the feudal system; on the contrary, it is the 
ideal world, such as it existed in the imagination of the romance 
writers. Devotion to woman, and to honor, constituted its essential 
character. It is difficult to decide who were the inventors of that 

244 LEO x. 

chivalric spirit which burned in the mediaeval romances ; but no one 
can fail to be astonished as he observes how splendid and sudden 
was that burst of genius which the Troubadours and Trouvers ex- 
emplified. That it did not originate in the manners and traditions 
of the Germans, seems quite evident Their brave, loyal, but rude 
habits, could never have contributed to the development of the sen- 
timent and heroism of chivalry. The romance writers of the twelfth 
century placed the age' of chivalry in the time of Charlemagne, and 
caused the Paladins of his court, as well as the famous emperor 
himself, to figure in many of the gorgeous fictions of loyalty, virtue, 
and grace. Chivalry existed rather in gallantry and sentiment, 
than in imagination ; it was a lyric to be sung, and not an epic to 
be read. Its spirit hovered over the age at large, but the first ro- 
mances actually composed, were produced in northern France, 
and especially in Normandy. As the renovating tempest deepened 
its tumultuous might, heaven came down to mitigate the savageness 
of earth, and religious gallantry soon made humane gentleness an 
indispensable accompaniment of true valor. Thus the spirit of 
chivalry was a consequence of feudal life, as it was an antidote 
against its evils. By the mediaeval poets and romancers, we are 
carried into an exalted realm, wherein all things are great and 
marvelous. On every hand we come in contact with feats of 
prowess, tempered by generosity. The fierce spirit of the northern 
genius combines with the enthusiastic zeal of courteous bearing 
common to the south ; and the imagination is often elevated to its 
highest pitch by the tremendous solemnities of Gothic superstition. 
Revelations of enrapturing beauty are mingled with the most fright- 
ful scenes of magical incantation, and such other images of terror 
as could have originated only in the wild conceptions of Teutonic 

In the opinion of many scholars, romance originated in Arabia, 
and was brought by that imaginative people from the remote East. 
That Odin came into Saxony out of Asia, is a Scandinavian tradi- 
tion; and Tacitus mentions in his work on the manners of the 
Germans, a legend according to which, Ulysses came in the course 
of his wanderings into central Germany, and there founded the city 
of Asciburgum. What Solon was to the Homeridae, Charlemagne 
was to the primitive bards of his land, for he caused all the popular 


songs to be collected and committed to writing. The substance of 
many of those early poems we still possess in the Lay of the Ni- 
belungen, and the Heldenbuck, or Book of Heroes, but these were 
produced at a period later than well-defined romance in France. 
Properly speaking, chivalry was a Norman invention, whose heroes 
were never tired of roving through France, Brittany, England, 
Scotland, and Ireland. It began far back in the middle age, and 
was perfected in the thirteenth century. 

In the first portion of the mediaeval epoch, that of Charlemagne, 
down to the time of pope Gregory the Seventh, and the convulsive 
movements of the crusades, the prevailing character of the age was 
great and simple, earnest, but mild withal. It soon became charac- 
terized by a marvelous daring, by lofty enthusiasm, and universal 
enterprise in real life, as well as in the domain of imagination. The 
age of chivalry, crusades, romance, and minstrelsy, was a special 
season of unfolding intellect and mental blossoming ; it was the pre- 
cursor of accelerated progress, the great intellectual spring-tide 
among all the nations of the West. If the literature of any nation 
is not preceded by a poetical antiquity before arriving at the pe- 
riod of mature and artistic development, it can never attain a national 
character, nor breathe the spirit of independent originality. What 
the heroical period was to the age of Pericles, and again to the age 
of Augustus, the first centuries of the age of Leo X. were to mod- 
ern Europe. The fullness of creative fancy was the distinguishing 
characteristic alike in each successive instance. Legendary litera- 
ture was exceedingly prevalent and influential from the seventh to 
the tenth century, that is, just about the time when modern civiliza- 
tion was struggling into existence. Guizot happily expresses the 
truth on this point. " As after the siege of Troy there were found, 
in every city of Greece, men who collected the traditions and ad- 
ventures of heroes, and sung them for the recreation of the people, 
till these recitals became a national passion, a national poetry ; so, 
at the time of which we speak, the traditions of what may be 
called the heroic ages of Christianity had the same interest for the 
nations of Europe. There were men who made it their business to 
collect them, to transcribe them, to read or recite them aloud, for 
the edification and delight of the people. And this was the only 
literature, properly so called, of that time." 

246 LEO x. 

The crusades were not less providential in their origin, than they 
were contagious in their progress, and revolutionary in their con- 
sequences. A sudden frenzy took possession of the minds of the 
western world, and poured itself upon the exhausted realms of the 
East, to the end that whatever remnants of good might yet remain 
therein, should be borne as a timely contribution to the new and 
more auspicious field. This important movement originated in the 
cultivated mind of Gerbert, in the first year of his pontificate ; was 
accelerated by Hildebrand, and carried into most effectual execu- 
tion by Urban IE. and the eloquent Peter the Hermit. The first 
army marched A. D. 1096, and in 1099 Jerusalem was taken. The 
advantages derived from this event, in a literary point of view, were 
very great. The western champions of the cross in general passed 
through the great capital of the East ; and in their transit the gates 
of Constantinople, and the palaces and churches, with their sump- 
tuous and splendid decorations, were thrown open to their admiring 
view. This intercourse with a refined people, however transient, 
afforded the experience of many social conveniences, fresh concep- 
tions of the refinements of polished letters and arts, together with 
the partial knowledge of a language in which few could be ignorant 
that works of immortal renown had been composed. Moreover, 
many Greek scholars, who could no longer find either employment 
or security at home, emigrated into different regions of the West, 
and contributed largely to the promotion of learning, and to 
awaken the first feelings of a laudable curiosity which subsequent 
events more fully satisfied. 

It should be also noted as a curious incident in the labyrinth of 
human affairs, that these crusading armies in their march toward 
the East, with a religious intent, most effectually promoted the 
political amelioration of the West. Individuals began to be freely 
and personally attached to other individuals, while all in common 
were attached to some particular town or city. This tie, which 
among the earlier barbarian tribes began under the relationship of 
chief and companion, at the crusading era was fortified by the rela- 
tion of sovereign and vassal. Under this latter form, the principle had 
a wide and mighty influence upon the progress of civilization until 
its use had ceased, and better agencies supervened. Confusion and 
disorder prevailed for a while, but man is evermore haunted by a 


taste for order and improvement. He may be rude, headstrong, 
and ignorant, but there is within him a still small voice, an instinct 
which aspires toward another and a higher destiny. Modern lib- 
erty is the offspring of feudalism. That system broke into pieces 
the before unbroken empire of despotism. It contained prolific 
seeds which took root in a rugged soil, ready to be transplanted 
where they would grow more stately and gracefully, and bear a 
better and more abundant fruit The crusades struck the death- 
blow to the feudal system, created the only available transition 
from despotism to monarchy, and thus opened that westward ave- 
nue which was the grand arena of struggles for liberty. It was 
feudalism that gave birth to all that was noble, generous, and 
faithful, in the sentiments of truth and honor which graced the 
humble village shrine, or lofty baronial hall The first literary 
delights which I&irope tasted while emerging from barbarism, 
sprung up under the protection of feudalism ; and it is to the same 
source that all the intellectual monuments of Germany, France, and 
England, are to be traced. 

At the close of the ninth century appeared Rollo, who led the 
flower of the Norwegian nobles, the chivalry of western Scandina- 
via. They embarked not for plunder, but to lay the foundations 
of empire, to seek an appropriate field whereon to work out the 
great destiny for which they were reserved. They founded the 
order of Gentlemen^ whose mission was to diffuse that spirit of chiv- 
alry which had but dimly dawned on the imagination of the older 
world, in the isolated careers of a Pericles, Epaminondas, or Scipio. 
To them belonged a rank and a nobility that resides not in prerog- 
ative, and has no necessary connection with coronets and ermine. 
It was that innate dignity which kings can not give, or parliaments 
annul ; a distinction the Norman might well be proud to recognize 
as the birth-right of his fathers and his own. The best qualities 
of the Teutonic nations, to whom the cause of universal civilization 
is intrusted, find their germ in the genius of the Norman race. It 
is for that reason that we should linger reverently through the 
aisles once echoing to their tread, by the columns once darkened 
with their shadows, the fortresses that sheltered them while living, 
and the tombs that received them when dead. Let us never forget 
that while the monasteries were preserving the precious monuments 

248 LEO x. 

of the old world, the recesses of baronial heights witnessed the 
first essays of literature, and fostered the earliest productions of 
European imagination. But letters continued to decline from the 
fall of the western empire, for nearly five hundred years ; they then 
gradually improved for about the same period, until they arrived 
at the highest splendor in the golden age of Leo X. From the 
opening of the eleventh century the prospects of literature began to 
brighten. Gerbert, Anselm, Thomas Aquinas, Scotus, and Roger 
Bacon, were resplendent lights to herald yet mightier names. 

During the long period which elapsed from the growth of feu- 
dality out of the ruins of the Roman empire, and the complete 
development of the principle of monarchy out of the feudal system, 
only one country guarded the elements of representative govern- 
ment, and caused them finally to prevail. From the beginning, the 
Anglo-Saxons lived most upon their own resources, and gave birth 
to their own civilization. From the fifth to the eleventh century, 
their institutions received the most natural and perfect develop- 
ment. Soon after the Saxon Heptarchy had been founded, as early 
as A. D. 582, the Danes and Romans made their way into England, 
and contributed greatly to the national worth. Alfred was a glori- 
ous exemplification of the truth, at a later period illustrated by 
Gustavus Vasa and Henry IV. of France, that the greatest princes 
are those who, though born to the throne, are nevertheless obliged 
to conquer its possession. Canute, the Dane, ascended the throne 
after Alfred, and was succeeded by Edward the Confessor, who was 
the last of the old Saxon dynasty restored. William, Duke of 
Normandy, contested the English throne with Harold, after Edward 
died, and on the 14th of October 1066, triumphed on the field of 
Hastings. Thus were the feudal institutions introduced into Eng- 
land when in their fullest vigor on the continent All this was 
most opportune, since it bound the Normans to one another, and 
united the Saxons among themselves. It brought the two nations 
into the presence of each other with mutual powers and rights, and 
effected an amalgamation of the two systems of institutions under 
the sway of a strong central power, the most auspicious of ulterior 
results. This led directly to the predominance of a system of free 
government in England, and was consummated at exactly the right 
place and hour. 


It could not be expected that much literary worth would appear 
immediately after the Norman conquest. But the twelfth century, 
from the accomplished Henry Beauclerc to the chivalrous Coeur de 
Lion, was greatly distinguished for classical scholarship, and con- 
tinental literature of a recent formation began to be studied in 
England. In the thirteenth century, the Great Charter was extorted 
from King John, and intellectual progress was equalled only by 
commercial advancement and constitutional freedom. During all 
this perpetual progress through its fluctuating stages, the English 
universities were founded or regularly organized, as the guarantees 
of mental enfranchisement ; and the single-handed heroism of 
Wallace in Scotland gave assurance of that patriotic spirit which 
was predestined to achieve a thousand triumphs beyond the field of 

The commencement of the twelfth century saw the enfranchise- 
ment of the communes in France. Louis le Gros was the first 
monarch who granted royal charters to free cities, if he was not 
the first to found them. Kings began by granting privileges of 
freedom to towns, in order to use them in bridling the power of the 
nobility ; but, contrary to human designs, the towns ended by exer- 
cising their newly developed rights in restricting the power of both 
kings and nobility. The old forms of dependencies dissolved, and 
the breaking up of the system of servitude caused the whole frame 
of society to be better adjusted than it was ever before. At this time, 
too, commenced the true nationality of Italy, which was signalized 
by the rise of a splendid literature in the vernacular tongue, and 
which, though it was different from that produced by the cotem- 
porary spirit of the North, was equally prophetic of great improve- 
ment to the world. One common impulse for the attainment 
of a higher civilization reigned throughout the western world, and 
was now approaching the highest type of perfection. At this epoch 
commenced the ballad poetry, which was the foundation of all the 
best literature of modern times. Then was written those invaluable 
chronicles, which have preserved the living picture, the very form 
and pressure of society as it existed in the early centuries of chiv- 
alry and romance. Thus that feudal system, which was intro- 
duced into Italy by the Lombard kings, and proved fatal to its 
institutors, ended by snatching the sceptre from their hands. De- 


250 LEO X. 

mocracy rose against feudalism with the same success with which 
feudalism had overthrown monarchy, and on the same eastern 
edge of empire, rose a new tide of yet more ennobling might which 
swept gloriously westward over the field so providentially prepared. 
As we ascend the stream of time, successive generations and their 
achievements vanish like bubbles from the surface ; but they 
nevertheless swell the precious undercurrent of civilization which, 
with perpetually augmented wealth and momentum, flows onward 
to its goal. 

During this entire cycle, Florence was the great centre around 
which all elements gathered and were blended in an identity of 
character and influence. Under the Medici, the first Cosmo, and 
Lorenzo the Great, this fair city became the central seminary of 
elegant letters and profound erudition before the culminative excel- 
lence of art therein was reached under the auspices of Leo X. In 
the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries classical learning was highly 
esteemed, and a thorough acquaintance with it was an absolute 
necessity to any one with pretensions to learning. Tuscany soon 
revelled in a glorious native literature, one as fresh as when it grew 
on the rich soils of Rome and Greece. Its truths were everywhere 
received, as Bacon beautifully says, like " the breath and purer 
spirit of the earliest knowledge floating to us in tones made musi- 
sical by Grecian flutes." Unlike the Augustan age of literature, 
the Leoine was not suffocated under the wealth it had plundered. 
If the knowledge of modern Europe had been otherwise com- 
pounded, it would have been neither so permanent nor effectual. 
Just enough of classic art and literature remained to facilitate and 
direct the growth of original excellence, and too little to destroy 
the characteristics of native worth. The materials of a former 
world were subordinated to a new structure, but both plan and ele- 
vation bore the aspect of a mightier spirit and more progressive race. 

To the Phoenicians, a nation of merchants, the ancient world 
was indebted for the invention of letters ; and to the Florentines, 
a city of merchants, the modern world is indebted for the greatest 
literary improvements. As the commercial republics of Greece 
were the first to carry to perfection the arts of poetry, sculpture, 
and painting, the commercial republics of Italy and the Nether- 
lands were the first to promote them at the revival, and to add new 


inventions to the ancient heritage. From the remains of Byzan- 
tine libraries, and the scriptoria of British and German monasteries, 
a merchant of Florence collected the long forgotten works of an- 
tique writers, and greatly enriched the first library of the West, by 
importations from Alexandria and Greece. A descendant of that 
merchant, in the same city, instituted a school for the study of 
antiquities ; and, as the friend of Michael Angelo, was the munifi- 
cent patron of learning and genius, A son of the latter followed 
in the same, glorious career, and by his exertions in behalf of 
liberal culture, like Augustus and Pericles, gave his name to a 
brilliant age. 

As Florence was the central city of the age now under review, 
so Dante Alighieri was its central literary light. He represented 
in perfect balance the moral and intellectual faculties then em- 
ployed, and in him the romantic element reached at once the most 
distinct and noble development. Born at Florence, A. D. 1265, in 
harmony with the manifest rule of Providence he appeared at the 
time and place wherein he could best do his appointed work. The 
epoch in which he lived followed immediately upon that in which 
the Swabian minstrelsy began to echo on the northern side of the 
Alps ; and it would seem that he emulated their picturesqueness as 
he described the moving breeze, the trembling light of the gently 
moving sea, the bursting of the clouds, the swelling of the rivers, 
and the entrance into the thick grove of the earthly paradise. 
Modern poetry began with Dante, who, in a great measure, per- 
fected the Italian tongue, which was before rude and inharmo- 
nious, but by him was fitted for the muses to adopt as their own. 
In 1302, the political party he had espoused was vanquished, and 
Dante was forced into exile. But he continued to prosecute his 
glorious career until 1321, when he died at Ravenna. 

Hiding its infancy amid the darkness of ages, the Italian language 
became silently matured by the working of the secret people, until 
the moment arrived for a literature of life to spring full-grown and 
armed, like Minerva, from the head of its great father, Dante. He 
was not, like Homer, the creator of poetry in the simplicity of 
childhood out of the arms of mother earth ; rather, he was like 
Noah, the father of a second poetical world, fraught with all the 
treasures of antediluvian wealth, and yet glowing amidst superior 

252 LEO x. 

charms of more recent growth. This fact he has himself strikingly 
portrayed, by representing his awful pilgrimage through other 
worlds as being made under the guidance of Virgil. The influence 
of the great epic by Dante upon Italy has been compared to that 
which was exerted by the spark of the sun upon the personified 
clay of Prometheus. And yet his pen was a strong chisel rather 
than a delicate one ; by a few bold strokes giving the outlines of 
life to the rough marble, but requiring the hand of a finer organi- 
zation to elaborate the rude unfinished block. 

To meet this want, Petrarch was born A. D. 1304. He was 
gifted with a gentler temper than his great predecessor, and steered 
his bark with a rare prosperity amidst the perils of a stormy age. 
Invited to the same courts where Dante had languished in neglect, 
Petrarch acted the part of a mediator ; and his presence was soli- 
cited by opposite factions like that of the blind old OSdipus, pro- 
duced by turns by his unnatural sons, as a pledge of the justice of 
their claims in the eyes of the Thebans. Petrarch had seen Dante 
at his paternal house, in Arezzo, and the stern features of that soli- 
tary genius left an indelible impression among the gorgeous dreams 
of his young mind. Following the destinies of his parent, and of 
universal humanity, he went early to the western court at Avignon, 
where he dissolved his heart in his writings, and anticipated the 
laurel which was to press heavily on his dazzling but weary brow. 

If Dante and Petrarch are to be regarded as the morning stars 
of modern literature, it should be noted that the bright luminary 
of Boccaccio came early into the auspicious group. The latter was 
born A. D. 1313, at Paris. Petrarch gave purity and elegance to 
the Italian sonnet, and Boccaccio created the first masterpiece of 
native prose. These two kindred minds, coming into efficient co- 
operation at the close of Dante's tempestuous career, took up the 
mantle at the moment it fell from the shoulders of the great pro- 
phet, and achieved the consummation of his mission. They first 
met at the court of King Robert in Naples, and thenceforth 
strengthened a mutual esteem, while they indulged genial tastes in 
the favorite haunts of their evening walks around Virgil's tomb. 

By a rare phenomenon, these three creative and predominant 
minds were produced in the same country, in the same age, and 
their grandest works were executed in the same city. Each of 


them was so tempered as to adapt the timely triad to widely differ- 
ent and yet equally important purposes. These supreme lights, 
however, did not shine alone, but each was accompanied by subor- 
dinate planets and satellites, which, as they received their effulgence 
from the supreme luminary, so were they gradually eclipsed, until 
they disappeared in the distance of age. The three patriarchs of 
literature in the cycle of Leo X., thus rapidly glanced at, turned 
the attention of their countrymen from the bewilderments of ro- 
mance to more substantial worth. Dante, with the energies of a 
Titan, threw out great masses of thought ; and the lyrical finish of 
Petrarch, with the garrulous graces of Boccaccio opened other 
quarries of attractive material. The two last mentioned both died 
in 1374. 

The beginning of the fifteenth century witnessed great ardor for 
antiquity. A prouder sense of nationality had seized upon the pop- 
ular heart, and there was a growing ambition to emulate the past 
and improve the future. Petrarch fired the general enthusiasm for 
antique monuments, and Rienzi eloquently revived patriotic asso- 
ciations connected therewith. Each leading city became a new 
Athens, and the revived age could boast its historians, poets, and 
orators. Naples, Rome, Venice, Bologna, and Florence, vied with 
each other, not in arms, but in the splendid triumphs of genius. 
Books were multiplied by numerous expert copyists at Bologna and 
Milan ; while Florence, under the auspices of the Medici, became 
the great metropolis of original productions. The middle of this 
century formed the culminating point of classical enthusiasm, and 
marked an age of great mental enlargement in every department of 
literature. Hallam, referring to the intellectual pope Nicholas V., 
in contrast with his famous predecessor Gregory I., who denounced 
ancient learning, says : " These eminent men, like Michael Angelo's 
figures of Night and Morning, seem to stand at the two gates of 
the middle ages, emblems and heralds of the mind's long sleep, and 
of its awakening." 

But the greatest glory of this period was the invention of print- 
ing, which will be more particularly noticed under another head. 
The influence given to the restoration of letters was not suspended 
by the death of Cosmo de Medici, which occurred in 1464. His 
wealth and influence over Florence then devolved on his grandson 

254 LEO x. 

Lorenzo, who employed his great resources in the most distin- 
guished patronage of literature and art. His intimate personal 
friend, Luigi Pulci, was a leading poet of the modern school, and 
published the first edition of his Morgante Maggiore at Venice, in 
1481. None of the honor attached to the invention of printing 
belongs to Italy, but it is to be noted how the practical use of that 
sublime art began on the eastern edge of the peninsula it was des- 
tined to revolutionize. The famous Florentine ecclesiastic Poggio, 
devoted himself particularly to the collection of choice manuscripts, 
and his exertions were crowned with great success. Fifty years so 
employed attested the value of his perseverance and sagacity. 
Politian also contributed much to the glory of this epoch. 

Paul II. bestowed special favor upon his countrymen, the 
Venitians, and this is supposed to have induced the acute and 
provident Lorenzo to attempt the establishment of the chief ecclesi- 
astical power, also, in his own family. Giovanni de Medici was 
early destined to the church, and produced those important effects 
upon Europe and the world which were so conspicuous in his pon- 
tificate. Leo X. became pope in 1513. In his patronage of 
literature, he was the worthy successor of Nicholas V., and began 
by placing men of letters in the most honorable stations of his 
court. The great poets of that century, Ariosto, Sanazzaro, the 
Tassos, Rucellai, Guariui, and the rest, produced their works during 
his reign. Under his auspices, the great libraries of the age were 
immensely enriched, and more than one hundred professors in a 
single university were restored to their alienated revenues. Through 
the agency of the apostolical secretary, Beroaldo, the first five 
books of the Annals of Tacitus were published, which had lately 
been found in a German monastery. Chigi, a private Roman, gave 
to the world good editions of Pindar and Theocritus in 1515 and 
1516 ; and, under the direction of Lascaris, Leo created an academy 
expressly for the study of Greek, in which a press was established, 
where the sciolists of Homer were printed in 1517. 

As an Italian prince, and as a Roman pontiff, Leo X. has been 
accused of indulging an unprincipled policy and vulgar epicurism. 
It is affirmed that Ariosto received from him nothing beyond fair 
promises and a kiss ; that his table was usually crowded with base 
and impudent buffoons, and that he did not hesitate to profane 


Petrarch's laurel and the Capitol by a mock coronation of his 
laughing-stocks, Querno and Baraballo. But, as a contrast to these 
defects, it should be remembered that he called round his throne 
Bembo and Sadoleto, and fostered innumerable men of talent with 
a liberality which can not fail to elicit the praise of posterity. If 
the pope hunted, and hawked, and caroused, it was in keeping with 
the universal moral indifference in the East and South, that ominous 
calm before the tempest which preceded the mighty reformation of 
every thing not intrinsically a sham. To the sagacious historian it 
is not strange that musical retainers were magnificently recom- 
pensed, one made an archbishop, and another archdeacon ; and 
that parasitical poets like Berni and Molza, were rewarded by Leo, 
while his great countryman, Machiavelli, was treated with neglect. 
It is a significant fact that during the fearful crisis when all the 
remoter nations of Europe stood aghast at the growing influence of 
Luther, the jocular pontiff and his secularized ministers found genial 
amusement in witnessing the representation of farces which exposed 
the hollow mummeries of priestcraft. 

During the first half of the sixteenth century, the study of ancient 
literature was uniformly progressive in Germany, France, and Eng- 
land ; during the succeeding fifty years much greater excellence was 
attained. Thanks to the patronage of Francis I., the University of 
Paris at this time stood in the front rank of philological pursuits. 
In England the cause of learning was greatly promoted at the 
accession of Elizabeth to the throne, when the universities began to 
revive. Not only was good Latin often heard on the banks of the 
Isis and the Cam, but the sovereign herself and her erudite professors 
could address each other in classic Greek. From ancient poets, 
historians, and orators, the new race of scholars derived the princi- 
ples not only of equal justice, but of equal privileges, and learned 
to reverence free republics, to abhor tyranny, and sympathize with 
a Brutus or Timoleon. The Adages of Erasmus created almost 
mutinous indignation against great national wrongs, and a later 
period witnessed still better results for the popular good. 

The effect which was produced by the mixture of the two great 
races of men, the southern and the northern, is seen in the epical 
writings of the respective nations. The poem of the Cid was to 
Spain what the Divina Comedia was to Italy. In the fifteenth 

256 LEO x. 

century Portuguese literature arose, and, after a brief but beautiful 
career, expired in the swan-like cry of the Lusiad. Torquato Tasso, 
the great Italian cotemporary, published his Jerusalem Delivered 
the year after the death of Camoens. 

To the other famous names of Lope de Vega and Calderon, that 
of Cervantes will ever stand associated with distinguished honor in 
the annals of Spanish literature. He was born in 1549. While yet 
young, he was captured by a Barbary corsair, and remained five 
years and a half in slavery. Maimed and friendless, he returned to 
Spain, and in 1584, began to publish his influential works. The 
leading purpose of Cervantes was to exhibit the abuse of the books 
of chivalry, and to overwhelm with ridicule those romances which 
are the creations of a diseased imagination, in which attempt he 
was completely successful. The romances of chivalry ended with 
Don Quixote ; and this was appropriately accomplished at the time 
when, and in the place where, Columbus was fitted by Providence 
to reveal that New World which had been kept hid until the time 
for raising the curtain of a sublimer age. At least one author was 
now born who believed that " a titled nobility is the most undis- 
puted progeny of barbarism," and that its very existence proves it 
to be inimical to all the interests of the people. The badges of the 
former are, idleness, vanity, and luxury ; those of the latter are, 
labor, pride, and necessity. The son of misfortune and wrong, who 
had been ransomed from vassalage at the expense of a mother's 
life-toil and the dowry of his sisters, was the fitting instrument to 
strike the knell of hereditary feudalism, and confront those brazen 
lords to whom alone Cervantes could do justice. 

What Petrarch began in Italy during the fourteenth century was 
carried on by the fifteenth with unabated activity. The recovery 
of lost classics and the revival of philology occupied many leading 
minds. The discovery of an unknown manuscript, says Tiraboschi, 
was regarded almost as the conquest of a kingdom. Indeed, so 
zealously did the scholars of this era trim the lamp of ancient 
sepulchres, that they in a measure overlooked the splendor of their 
native language. But a keen susceptibility to beauty of form, with 
the power of expressing it, was manifested to an extraordinary 
degree at the end of the fifteenth and beginning of the sixteenth 
centuries. It was an epoch when the fortress erected by a baron, 


and the annotation written by a philologist on the margin of his 
author, were alike characterized by a severe and chaste beauty. 
Under the liberal and discriminating patronage of Julius IT. and 
Leo X., a vivid appreciation of antique literature, philosophy, and 
art, became an absorbing passion, and spread in all directions. 
Referring to the Guicciardini and Machiavelli of that time, Macaulay 
says : " To collect books and antiques, to found professorships, to 
patronize men of learning, became almost universal fashions among 
the great. The spirit of literary research allied itself to that of 
commercial enterprise ; every place to which the merchant princes 
of Florence extended their gigantic traffic, from the bazaars of the 
Tigris to the monasteries of the Clyde, was ransacked for medals 
and manuscripts." A new blood circulated in the veins of Christian 
nations, and the new inventions which arose created murmurs of 
revolutions, and foretokened the dawn of a public opinion. The 
silent subterranean working of the masses engendered the marvel- 
ous changes which soon transpired over the whole brightened face 
of humanity. Whether our attention is fixed on the political or 
religious history, on the literary progress, the jurisprudence, or the 
artistic excellence of the age, no century is loftier, richer, or. more 
instructive for modern society than the sixteenth, none more ex- 
uberant with life and ennobling advancement. All that has since 
been perfected in the realm of literature then received much of its 
primary form and spirit. 

From the auspicious hour when the Nibelungen became the Iliad 
of the North, Germany and France were perpetually progressive. 
Successive developments of life suffered decay, but no vital princi- 
ple can ever be annihilated ; superannuated forms perish inevitably, 
but in order only to reproduce a higher type of perpetuated excel- 
lence. When inferior nations and tribes disappear after having 
done the work of precursors, a more useful race is certain imme- 
diately to appear, and transmit the torch of divine effulgence 
which, in the sublime career appointed to be run, had dropped, by 
superseded hands. There is no death except into a higher life. 
The last language formed in Europe was the aggregated wealth of 
all linguistic treasures before accumulated, and is destined eventually 
to control, if not to absorb every other. All medievalism blossomed 
for the West, and the English vernacular was its maturest fruit. 

258 LEO x. 

Like the great and distinct periods of history under Pericles and 
Augustus, a certain adequate and cotemporaneous expression per- 
vaded the whole age of Leo X. Its successive steps were marked 
by the papal domination of the beginning of the middle ages; 
the universal feudal system ; the period of universities springing up 
everywhere ; the periods of art ; the periods of Abelard and scho- 
lastic philosophy; the rising of free cities all over Europe; the 
ardor of maritime discovery and enthusiasm for " cosmography ;" 
the period of monasteries and Protestantism. Each in succession 
ruled with supreme power, so long as it possessed the chief life. 
For example, at the needful time, feudalism was a vital organiza- 
tion ; and so long as this remained genuine and spontaneous, it 
was the true and living expression of man's necessities. But when 
the feudal system was transferred from the field to the court, where 
the pen of the lawyer supplanted the sword of the knight, and a 
piece of parchment became more powerful than warlike pennons, 
the life of feudalism was gone, and nothing remained but a clatter- 
ing skeleton amid its dead formalities. Systems die, but beneath 
their surface there is an immortality which can not suffer diminu- 
tion of any kind, but must eternally evolve. Each system has a 
separate idea to exemplify, and the grand truth inculcated by all 
these successive lessons remains, when each petty teacher has dis- 

Let us briefly recapitulate the historic facts connected with the 
last and best of literatures, the English. The Anglo-Saxons, origin- 
ally the fiercest nation of the predatory North, had become an 
unwarlike nation, and quite degenerate. The venerated relics of 
their civilization existed, but the soul was nearly gone, and a men- 
tal torpidity pervaded the entire country. Canute roused the peo- 
ple for a moment, but they soon sank into stolid indifference again. 
Then was needed the Norman conquest to shake the whole fabric 
to its base, and infuse a vigorous spirit through all classes of the 
community. That mightiest people beyond the channel came over 
at exactly the right time, and brought all the best continental 
elements with them. The influence of the Norman conquest on 
the language of England has been compared to an inundation, 
which at first submerges the landscape beneath its turbid billows, 
but which at last subsiding, leaves behind it the germs of fresh 


beauty and augmented wealth. The ancestors of this new people 
had been fierce pirates, but they became the chief revivers of litera- 
ture, and the grand promoters of the peaceful arts. It is a notable 
fact that Lanfranc, their prime leader in this noble enterprise, was 
a Lombard, and that his people had been the most barbarous of all 
the Gothic invaders. Yet among them literary studies were first 
revived in Italy, the most celebrated schools were established, and 
the most enterprising citizens were formed into the most cultivated 
states. From them, and their cities, Pisa and Pavia, learning was 
planted, under Charlemagne, in France, and replanted both there 
and in England, under Lanfranc, once an obscure schoolmaster at 
Bee, in Normandy, and after the conquest Archbishop of Canterbury. 
The seeds of knowledge, thus timely sown, yielded in due time 
an abundant harvest. Literary pursuits soon became a source of 
distinction and preferment. All ranks caught the flame ; and on 
the diffusion of vernacular letters, intelligence no longer dwelt 
within the cells of a cloister or the walls of a school, but adorned 
the chamber of the lady, the hall of the baron, and the court of the 
prince. Intelligence glorified the warrior's iron mail and trophied 
lance abroad ; while at home, domestic solicitudes were assuaged, 
and gentle virtues ennobled, by the laudable ambition to learn both 
to read and write. After the twelfth century in England, ignorance 
became discreditable, the mark of a barbarous origin and a degrad- 
ed taste. Itinerant minstrels had for a long time been the instru- 
ments of poetry, but the offices of composer and musician were now 
separated. Special attention was given to that form of literature, 
so popular in the streets and at the festival, in the study, and in the 
cloister, while its measured syllables were made the vehicle of bet- 
ter strains than those which exhilarated at the banquet or corrupted 
the populace. As we have above stated, the English language was 
of the latest formation, and was partially developed in the thir- 
teenth century through some metrical poems. Henry II., who was 
himself a great proficient in history, encouraged and rewarded its 
popular writers, who were also fostered by his queen Eleanora, a 
troubadour by birth. At the accession of Henry III., still brighter 
rays beamed forth upon the western isle. His reign connected 
England with Jerusalem, whither the crusading armies still went ; 
with Constantinople, whose exiled emperor sought his support; 

260 LEO X. 

with the south of Italy, by the intercourse of himself and his clergy 
with the pope, and by the crowds of emigrants whom the pontiff 
poured upon British soil; with the north of Italy, where he sent 
knights to assist the emperor against Milan ; with Armenia, whose 
friars came for a refuge from the Tartars ; with Germany, whose 
emperor married his sister ; with Provence and Savoy, from which 
both he and his brother had their wives ; with Spain, where his son 
was knighted and wedded; with France, which he visited with 
much pomp; with its southern regions, Guienne and Poitou, 
which he retained ; and with the countries on the Rhine, where his 
brother went to obtain the empire. 

No language can better express the facts of the case in point, 
than the following review by Macaulay : " The history of England 
is emphatically the history of progress. It is the history of a con- 
stant movement of the public mind, which produced a constant 
change in the institutions of a great society. We see that society, 
at the beginning of the twelfth century, in a state more miserable 
than the state in which the most degraded nations of the East now 
are. We see it subjected to the tyranny of a handful of armed for- 
eigners. We see a strong distinction of caste, separating the vic- 
torious Norman from the vanquished Saxon. We see the great 
body of the population in a state of personal slavery. We see the 
most debasing and cruel superstition exercising boundless dominion 
over the most elevated and benevolent minds. We see the multi- 
tude sunk in brutal ignorance, and the studious few engaged in ac- 
quiring what did deserve the name of knowledge. In the course 
of seven centuries this wretched and degraded race have become the 
greatest and most highly civilized people that ever the world saw ; 
have spread their dominion over every quarter of the globe ; have 
scattered the seeds of mighty empires and republics over vast con- 
tinents of which no dim intimation had ever reached Ptolemy or 
Strabo ; have created a maritime power which would annihilate, 
in a quarter of an hour, the navies of Tyre, Athens, Carthage, 
Venice, and Genoa, together ; have carried the science of healing, 
the means of locomotion, and correspondence, every mechanical 
art, every manufacture, every thing that promotes the convenience 
of life, to a perfection which our ancestors would have thought 
magical ; have produced a literature abounding with works not in- 


ferior to the noblest which Greece has bequeathed to us ; have dis- 
covered the laws which regulate the motions of the heavenly bodies ; 
have speculated with exquisite subtlety on the operations of the 
human mind ; have been the acknowledged leaders of the human 
race in the career of human improvement." 

The period so eloquently sketched in the above extract extends 
from the culminating point whence high civilization, in the age of 
Leo X., descended on the western edge of Europe, and passed the 
broad Atlantic, to pour all its accumulated beams into the auspicious 
orient of a New World. As it respects moral force, and originality 
of genius, neither the age of Pericles, nor that of Augustus, could 
be compared with the evening glories of that age which was 
adorned by such names as Chaucer and Spenser, Sidney and Ral- 
eigh, Bacon and Milton. These and many others possessed not 
merely great talents and accomplishments, but vast compass and 
reach of understanding, minds truly creative and original. They 
made great and substantial additions to the treasures of general 
knowledge, and fortified human faculties, while they augmented 
the facilities for human happiness to an unparalleled extent. 
Geoffrey Chaucer, born in 1328, was coeval with WicHiffe, with 
whom it has been said that he studied at Oxford. He saw the 
reigns of three British kings, had conversed with Petrarch at Padua, 
was a shining light through a protracted life, and died in the first 
year of the fifteenth century, " the father of English poetry." 

At a later and much brighter epoch, Edmund Spenser, born 1553, 
shone without a rival. Much of his language has become anti- 
quated, but is yet beautiful in its quaintness, and, like the moss and 
festooned ivy on some dilapidated castle, covers his antique phrases 
with romantic and venerable associations. Schlegel regarded the 
chivalrous poem of Spenser, the Fairy Queen, as . presenting the 
completest view of the spirit of romance which yet lingered in 
England among the subjects of Elizabeth. He undoubtedly was a 
perfect master of the picturesque, and in his lyrics breathed the 
tenderness of the Italian Idyll, redolent of all the perfume of the 
Troubadours. Chaucer was more like the German poets of the 
sixteenth century ; but Spenser seemed to have imbibed at earlier 
fountains of inspiration, and gave a final expression to the tender 
and melodious poesy of the olden time. 

262 LEO x. 

John Milton, born 1608, leaned more to the opposite ideal of his 
native language, and beyond the power of any other writer expressed 
the full majesty of the old classic element. Spenser was charmingly 
Teutonic ; but Milton was more at home in the Latin part of his 
mighty vernacular. While each of this glorious trio spoke in a 
dialect peculiar to himself, they all alike were intense and devoted 
lovers of nature. Chaucer sparkles with the dew of morning. 
Spenser lies bathed in the sylvan shade. Milton glows with orient 
light. One might almost fancy that he had gazed himself blind, 
and had then been raised to the sky, and there stood and waited, like 
" blind Orion hungering for the morn." So abundantly had he 
stored his mind with visions of natural beauty, that, when all with- 
out became dark, he was still most rich in his inward treasure, and 
"ceased not to wander where the muses haunt clear spring, or 
shady grove, or sunny hill." 

We have reserved another name, the greatest of them all, for the 
concluding item in this comprehensive sketch of literature during 
the age of Leo X. The position of the notice we give him is ap- 
propriate, since he garnered all anterior wisdom and genius into 
himself, to be bodied forth in diversified forms of consummate 
worth. William Shakspeare was born in 1564, twelve years after 
Walter Raleigh, and thirty-five before Oliver Cromwell. He was 
twenty-four years old when the first newspaper was published, and 
should be regarded as the truest exponent of the romantic cycle he 
came fully to comprehend, exhaust, and terminate. 

In a much higher sense than Francis Bacon, William Shakspeare 
was the historian of humanity, and great prophet of human prog- 
ress. Bunsen regards his " Histories" as the only modern epos, 
in its true sense, a poetical relation to the eternal order manifested 
in national developments. They are the Romanic " Divina Corn- 
media," the Spanish " Cid," and the Germanic " Nibelungen" united 
and dramatized. A new and sublimer act was about to open on 
the vast stage of Providence, and dramatic literature was the fitting 
organ of the epos in an age teeming with energetic life, and ripe for 
the sublimest realities. The " myriad-minded" artist appeared in 
his serene sphere, to show how society, as it moves under divine 
guidance, illustrates moral truths more accurately, completely, and 
strikingly, than any dissertation could reveal it. In his portrait- 


ures it is difficult to decide which is more remarkable, the fidelity 
of abstract ideas to nature, or the vivid imaginativeness of concep- 
tion by which the highest truth is announced. Living greatness 
and intellectual power coalesce in both imaginary characters and 
actual scenes, as the consummate style of Leonardo da Vinci, or 
Michael Angelo resulted from the blending of spiritual feeling with 
natural forms. He stood like a magician above the world, pene- 
trating at a glance the profoundest depths, mysteries, and perplexi- 
ties of human nature, and having power at will to summon into 
open day all the foulest as well as fairest working of human pas- 
sion. With masterly sagacity, he used the whole world of man, 
past, present, and to come, instinctively anticipating what he 
was not permitted actually to behold. Some have daringly inti- 
mated that Shakspeare, like Dante, was a solitary comet which, 
having traversed the constellation of the ancient- firmament, returns 
to the feet of the Deity, and says to him like the thunder, "Here 
am I." Not so. Dante appeared in an age of darkness, compara- 
tively. The compass had then scarcely enabled the mariner to 
steer through the familiar expanse of the Mediterranean. America 
and the passage to India by the Cape of Good Hope were yet undis- 
covered. The feudal system still pressed with all the weight of its 
darkness upon enslaved Europe. The inventor of gunpowder had 
not changed the whole system of war, nor had the introduction of 
printing created a complete metamorphosis in society at large. But 
when in western England the mother of Shakspeare gave birth to 
her obscure son, the age of regeneration and reformation had al- 
ready dawned, that age in which the principal discoveries of mod- 
ern times were accomplished, the true system of the universe 
ascertained, the heavens and the earth explored, the sciences culti- 
vated, and the practical arts carried to a pitch of perfection which 
they had never before attained. Great deeds were done, and great 
men constituted colonies which repaired to the woods of New 
England to sow the seeds of a fertile independence, and establish 
the empire of universal amelioration. 

All nature ministers to Shakspeare, as gladly as a mother to her 
child, while he "glances from heaven to earth, from earth to 
heaven." Whether he wishes to depict Romeo's love, or Hamlet's 
philosophy, or Miranda's innocence, or Perdita's simplicity, or Rosa- 

264 LEO x. 

Hud's playfulness, or the sports of the Fairies, or Timon's misan- 
thropy, or Macbeth's desolating ambition, or Lear's heart-rending 
frenzy he has only to ask, and she vouchsafes every feeling and 
every passion with which he desires to actuate and invest his inim- 
itable creations. 

For six centuries, millions of readers, in and out of the church, 
had fed on religious romance, which had continually depreciated in 
merit, when John Bunyan was born, 1628, to gather up every rem- 
nant of excellence which had ever been expressed under that type ; 
and having re-issued the essence of it all most divinely refined, he 
terminated legendary literature forever. "With the same providen- 
tial intent, in the same year that Michael Angelo died, William 
Shakspeare was born, and having perfected to the last degree every 
element which had accumulated during the lapsing of thirty centu- 
ries, romantic literature ended with the closing of his grave. Mid- 
way between Shakspeare and Bunyan, Milton lost his eyes ; and 
Poetry, Freedom, and Religion, at the same time lost theirs for a 
season. But, behold ! The splendors which fade along the west- 
ern sky of the old world already foretoken the rising of a brighter 
day over the new. 



IN reviewing the various realms of art in the age of Leo X., we 
shall first consider the origin and progress of the architecture pecu- 
liar to that great stage of human development, and then proceed to 
notice briefly the sculpture, painting, and other correlative produc- 
tions. The sources of illustration are so numerous, and the mate- 
rial so abundant, it will be necessary to observe comprehensiveness 
as far as possible in the exploration of each department. 

The facts of history require us to resume the consideration of 
debased Roman art at its nadir of utter degradation in the fifth cen- 
tury, and thence to follow it as it arises with a new life, transformed 
into two original types, Gothic and Byzantine, till both blended in 
the Christian architecture of the thirteenth century, and this in 
turn perished before the rising influence of the Renaissance. The 
old Romanesque prevailed from the time of Constantine to that of 
Justinian, and always remained the molding influence in Teutonic 
art. The Byzantine style absorbed into itself oriental lightness and 
beauty, traversed the whole domain of superannuated civilization in 
the East, and, with all its modifying charms, in due time coalesced 
with the more rugged and progressive element in the far West. 

Justinian ascended the throne of the East, in 527. By him the" 
celebrated architect Anthemius was invited to Constantinople, and 
Saint Sophia was built. This famous church was so splendid that 
the emperor is said to have exclaimed on its completion : " Glory 
be to God, who hath thought me worthy to accomplish so great a 
work. I have vanquished thee, O Solomon." Then an aerial 
cupola was first erected, a model of bold design and skillful execu- 
tion. This was the third edifice on the same spot since the 
original by Constantine, and combined all the skill, taste, and munifi- 


266 LEO x. 

cence of the age. Its columns of granite, porphyry, and green 
marble, its semi-domes and walls incrusted with precious stones, its 
various members, admirable by their size and beauty, and all em- 
bellished with a rich profusion of jaspers, gems, and costly metals, 
furnished a rich repast to the curiosity of travelers, and was a 
magnificent monument of metropolitan pride. Simultaneous with 
the creation of the Byzantine type, arose the well-defined Roman- 
esque at Ravenna, the seat of the Greek Exarchate. Unlike the old 
capital of the world, which she now came to rival in importance, 
Ravenna possessed no ruined temples whose spoils could be used 
in constructing new buildings. Being obliged to think for them- 
selves and design every detail, the architects introduced a degree 
of originality of conception and harmony of proportions into their 
plans and elevations utterly unknown in the Roman examples. 
Theodoric had been educated at Constantinople, and was far from 
being insensible to the national advantages derived from science 
and art. Great care was bestowed on architecture and sculp- 
ture, so that under this royal patron all the Italian cities acquired 
the useful or splendid decorations of churches, aqueducts, baths, 
and palaces. The death of Theodoric occurred in 526. His mau- 
soleum, now called Santa Maria della Rotunda, as well as the 
cotemporaneous church of Santa Apollinaris, still in existence at 
Ravenna, attest an immense stride in advance of the old Roman 
style. It was upon these constructions that the peculiar external 
decoration was first applied which became so remarkably developed 
in its westward course. 

Justinian united the whole of Italy to his dominions in 553, and 
Ravenna thenceforth became the seat of the government of the Greeks. 
The new basilicas with which the city was speedily adorned introduced 
the cupola, and employed the block capitals which had been invented 
at Constantinople, ornamented with foliage in low relief, in imitation 
of basket work. But before the end of the sixth century, the Lom- 
bards carne into supreme power, and still more marked improve- 
ment supervened in monumental art. As the pious entreaties of 
his Athenian bride had long before induced Honorius to exert him- 
self in behalf of sacred works, and the daughter of Theodosius, 
Galla Placidia, a princess greatly afflicted, found consolation in 
decorating Ravenna with Christian temples ; so Theodolinda, 

ART. 267 

daughter of Garibaldus, Duke of Bavaria, and wife of Agilulfus, 
the fourth Lombard king, persuaded her husband to abjure his 
Arian heresies, and to protect the arts. Churches and palaces were 
multiplied, especially in Pavia, which the Lombard kings chose for 
their usual abode. The seventh century, and a part of the eighth, 
was a period of comparative tranquillity, and, under the auspices of 
this new and active race, the architecture of Italy was greatly im- 
proved. The Lombards imported no architects from the North, but 
availed themselves of the men and means furnished by the con- 
quered country, still retaining the Romanesque form, but investing 
it internally and externally with a profusion of characteristic orna- 
ment. Until the seventh century Christian symbols were admitted 
into the churches with a sparing hand, but now the greatest license 
seems to have been given to ornamentation of every sort. Not 
only does architecture, more than all other material things, co- 
operate in manifesting the fulfillment of those sacred prophecies, in 
the deep truth of which is rooted the ever-thriving tree of salvation, 
but it also bears the clearest trace of national character and pur- 
suits. The Lombards were great hunters, and along their wide 
fagades and around their soaring porticoes they built with construct- 
ive sculpture all the wild energy of the daring and tumultuous 
chase. As a compendious abstract of the picturesque in outline, the 
impressive in substance, and the exciting in association, architecture 
exercises the magic of romance, where she emulates the majesty of 
nature, and portrays her myriad forms ; when she unites the regu- 
lated precisions of human design, with the bold irregularities of 
divine creation ; or when she presents us the hoary reminiscences of 
past heroes, whose deeds of good and ill gave radiant light or 
melancholy shadow to the times in which they lived. No thought- 
ful spirit can unmoved revert to those sons of barbarians who, as 
the triumphs of supreme art, caused the castle and cathedral to 
surmount the natural Goliah, in defiance of the giant mountain ; 
when the huge walls, mellowed by time, even to the very tint of 
the majestic rock on which they stand, seem of that rock a part, 
whence lofty towers, festooned by the ivy " garland of eternity," 
look down upon prosperous towns as they gleam from afar amid 
patriarchal oaks. 

At the commencement of the eighth century, the hopes began 

268 LEO x. 

to show much solicitude in behalf of the arts. In that age they 
gained great temporal advantages, and their revenues enabled them 
to do immense good for Italy. But the era of Charlemagne, which 
opened about the middle of the eighth century and continued into 
the ninth, was one in which a greater number of grand edifices 
were dedicated to Christianity. Rising to extensive dominion, this 
extraordinary man did much to restore the arts and promote the 
cause of universal civilization. Meanwhile the decrepit empire of 
the East was becoming too feeble to employ her architects and 
artisans, so that when the auxiliary help was needed it was thence 
derived to plan and execute the supreme seat of civil and ecclesias- 
tical power beyond the Alps. At Aix-la-Chapelle a new form of 
art arose, to which the general name of Gothic may be correctly 
applied, meaning thereby all the styles which were introduced by 
those Teutonic tribes of barbarians who overwhelmed the Roman 
empire, and established themselves within its boundaries. Exactly 
in the ratio this barbarian element prevailed along the course of 
its westward development, architecture flourished in originality and 
beauty, the aggregated worth of which was always found at the 
point remotest from its source. All the western styles were derived 
from Roman art, but before the tenth century the originals had 
been forgotten, and a new type appeared wholly independent of the 
old one. The forms of the pillars, of the piers, and the arches they 
support, are different as created by Gothic genius. The whole 
edifice is roofed with intersecting vaults, which have become an 
integral part of the inner design, while buttresses afford firm sup- 
port outside. 

But we must trace the derivation of a new element which is com- 
bined with the Lombard type in the wilds of Germany. In the 
ninth century, on the designs of a Greek artist, rose the cathedral 
of Saint Mark, at Venice, the largest Byzantine church in Italy. 
Saint Anthony of Padua bore this eastern element still nearer its 
destined goal, and at Pisa it was absorbed into the older and 
mightier element ; but the perfect manner of amalgamation did not 
obliterate either of the original components. The cathedral at Pisa, 
whose architect was Buschetto, a Greek, was built in the beginning 
of the eleventh century, and was completely differenced from the 
previous basilicas by the addition of transepts, thus assuming the 

ART. 269 

form of a Latin cross. Just half a century earlier, the beautiful 
' church of Saint Miniato, near Florence, had presented the first 
coupled piers, and made the first timid attempt at vaulting the 
nave. But the Pisan progress went much further, by boldly ex- 
tending the Ravenna apse into a spacious choir beyond the transepts, 
with well-defined triforium galleries over the pier arches. These 
are all striking approximations toward consummate art, but we 
still have a five-aisled basilica with the aisles vaulted, and a flat 
wooden roof covering the nave. The most observable feature 
of the exterior is the extravagant display of columns and other 
members not essential to the construction. Arcades rise over 
arcades, and orders succeed to orders almost without end. All 
which in the temples of Athens had been rectangular and sym- 
metrical, in the Byzantine churches, and all under their influence, 
became curved, dwarfed, and rounded ; so that, after the Romans 
had deprived the Greek architecture of its consistency, the Christian 
Greeks themselves obliterated every trace of excellence yet spared 
by the Romans, and made the architecture of their heathen ances- 
tors owe its final annihilation to the same nation to whom it had 
been indebted for its glorious growth. 

But that nothing should be lost to western art, the Byzantine 
Romanesque was made to sweep most widely over the old world, 
and enter Europe at the remotest point. " On the wings of Mo- 
hammed's spreading creed," says Hope, " wafted from land to land 
by the boundless conquest of his followers, the architecture of Con- 
stantinople, extending one way to the furthest extremities of India, 
and the other to the utmost outskirts of Spain, prevailed throughout 
the whole of the regions intervening between the Ganges and the 
Guadalquiver ; in every one of the different tracks into which it 
was imported, still equally different from the aborigines, or early 
possessors. Thus, while in none of the various and distant coun- 
tries, we observe previous to the adoption of Islamism the slightest 
approach to those inventions, the pride and the stay of architecture 
the arch and the cupola ; in all of them alike, on the very first 
settling in them of the Mohammedans, we see these noble features 
immediately appearing, from the application of Greek skill, in the 
full maturity of form they had attained among themselves." 

Leaving the Saracenic Romanesque to return by Sicily and Spain 

270 LEO X. 

into southern France, and thence to ascend the height of mediaeval 
culmination, let us proceed in the grand central track of Teutonic art. 

The Rhine is the great channel of modern civilization, and near 
its banks are the clearest indications of progressive art. The origi- 
nal cathedral at Treves was built by the pious mother of Constan- 
tine, and seems, like the cotemporary church at Jerusalem, to have 
consisted of two distinct edifices, one circular, the other square. 
These two forms entered into diversified combinations thenceforth, 
and ever constituted the peculiarity of German architecture. The 
tenth and eleventh centuries afford many curious specimens which 
are important in the history of art. Such are the cathedrals of 
Spire, Worms, Mayence, and others yet extant, and which attest 
extraordinary solidity and magnificence. The western apse of the 
cathedral at Mayence is perhaps the only example in Germany 
where a triapsal arrangement has been attempted with polygonal 
instead of circular forms. Surely a new type of art is near. At 
this point, too, we have witnessed enough of progressive spire- 
growth in Germany to believe that the origin of that aspiring member 
lies amid the towers which cluster so copiously on the churches by 
the Rhine, and especially the beautiful group of indigenous art at 

The Norman Romanesque was produced in no one instance be- 
fore the year 1050, and before 1150 it was entirely superseded. 
Indeed, all the great typical examples were executed during the 
last half of the eleventh century. The arrangements of these are 
more like the Rhenish basilicas than any others, and yet do they 
differ from them by many degrees of superiority. They formed 
the last stage in the progress toward consummate invention ; and 
the western faade of Saint Stephens, at Caen, for example, may 
be regarded as the prototype of all the Gothic cathedrals which 
immediately succeeded. All this was produced in the fitting order 
of time and place. For eight centuries the Northmen continued to 
press toward lower latitudes, everywhere disseminating their hardy 
habits, pure ethics, deep sentiments of freedom, and superior im- 
press of art. Lombards redeemed Italy, Goths ennobled Spain, 
Franks cultivated Gaul, and, at the needful moment, William the 
Conqueror was made ready to transfer all the glorious accumulation 
of civilizing elements to Saxon England. 

AKT. 271 

Ecclesiastical architecture especially reflected one pervading 
dominant sentiment of the Norman mind perpetuity. They ex- 
celled all nations in the use and ornamentation of the circular arch. 
Centuries before Christ this had existed, and was by the dull Ro- 
man subordinated to mechanical necessities, when he would support 
his stupendous works ; but hitherto it had been applied to base 
purposes only. That line which the sun and stars trace in their 
course, the holy shape of the majestic vault of heaven, the Teuton 
found debased to ignoble purposes, and, rescuing it from the fosse, 
the aqueduct, and the sudarium, he bent it in consecrated granite 
above his reverent head, a copy of the arch under which his fathers 
prayed the sky. And this rugged Christian art which, with the 
brain and heart of grand Norman prelates, passes into England, is 
the introduction of a new principle altogether from the florid By- 
zantine element at the same time approaching from the opposite 
point. The one is the product of a mind whose dominant faculties 
were reason and faith ; the other projected by a fervid imagination, 
bearing in its shape internal evidence of its birthplace, the South ; 
beautiful indeed, but earthly in its beauty, and in the effect it pro- 
duces on the soul, according well with the dreamy habits of the 
Saracen, but inappropriate for the uses of that religion which 
u casteth down imaginations." 

Thus Lombardy, Germany, and Normandy, took great successive 
strides in architectural progress, but neither of them attained to 
Gothic art of the true Christian type, according to the popular 
designation. There can now be no doubt but that the Pointed 
style was invented by the Franks. As on the western edge of con- 
tinental Europe Romanesque architecture was perfected, and then 
directly passed to England; so in western France, the aspiring 
Gothic broke into consummate freedom and beauty, and was thence 
diffused over the world. It was introduced into Germany, Italy, 
and the remoter regions, north and south, with innumerable modi- 
fications, but without a single improvement east of the meridian of 
its origin. On the contrary, in passing directly westward over the 
narrow field of England, it took three distinct forms of improved 
development, and then perished forever. 

Down to a late period, the round Gothic style was executed by 
the Franks, in examples quite insignificant compared with those 

272 LEO x. 

produced in Normandy. Even in Paris the great church of St. 
Germain des Pres, the burial-place of the earlier kings, and most 
splendid edifice of the capital, was not more than fifty feet in width, 
by two hundred in length, before the rebuilding of its chevet in the 
pointed style. But in the reign of Louis le Gros, 1108-1136, un- 
der whom the monarchy of France began to revive, architecture put 
on new vigor. The culminating point was reached under the reign 
of Louis le Jeune, and through the transcendent abilities of the Abbe 
Suger. He began building the Abbey of St. Denis in the pointed 
manner, 1144, which was still further elaborated with the erection 
of the Sante Chapelle by St. Louis, 1244, and which received its con- 
summate finish at the completion of the choir of St. Owen at Rouen, 
by Mark d' Argent, in 1339. St. Denis, therefore, though certainly 
not the earliest, must be taken as the typical example of primary 
Gothic of France and of the world. It terminated the era of 
transition, and fixed the epoch when the northern pointed style 
became supreme. In due course arose the beautiful and stupendous 
works of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, which filled all 
Europe with the grandest monuments. Thus was completed a per- 
fect cycle of the art, tracing it from its origin back to the place of 
its birth, Italy, which was also that of its earliest decline, and where 
it was smothered under Renaissant trash. 

In England we may say that there was no ante Norman style 
whatever ; at least all her alleged Saxon remains present nothing 
which could stand for a moment against a style that might lay 
claim to the slightest portion of artistic merit. At the beginning 
of the twelfth century the foreign style had become to a great ex- 
tent naturalized, and assumed a separate existence. This is well 
exemplified in what remains of Lanfranc's building at Canterbury, 
and that of Walkelyn at "Winchester. In these, and in the work 
of Gundulph at Rochester, there is scarcely any difference from the 
continental Norman except what may be ascribed to the inexperi- 
ence of the workmen employed. Half a century earlier, the Ger- 
mans fell under French influence and remained copyists to the 
end. The English, on the contrary, soon gained sufficient familiar- 
ity with the style to enable them to assert their independence, and 
become inventors of new and original forms of the finest architect- 
ure of that or any other age. The pointed arch was introduced 

ART. 273 

at the rebuilding of the cathedral at Canterbury after the fire of 
1174, by the architect William of Sens. But for a long* time after- 
ward the innovation was resisted by the English, and even down 
to the year 1200 the round arch was currently employed in con- 
junction with the pointed. But it then gave way, and for three 
centuries subsequently was entirely banished from both sacred 
and civil architecture. 

The first great cathedral built in the new style throughout was 
Salisbury, begun in 1220 and finished essentially in 1258. When 
complete, its internal effect must have been extremely beautiful ; 
far more so than that of its cotemporary and great rival at Amiens. 
Westminster Abbey was commenced twenty-five years later, and is 
evidently more imitative of the French style. Lincoln was finished 
about the year 1282, and is a beautiful specimen of the true Ed- 
wardian style of perfected English art. These are chiefly of the 
earliest period, or lancet style. The great storehouse of the second 
type, or decorated architecture is Exeter cathedral finished in the year 
1330. Of the third period, or perpendicular, the nave of Winches- 
ter is the source and model of all. It was invented by the arch- 
bishop William of Wykeham, who with the vigor and strength of 
the grandest Norman architecture combined all the elegant sym- 
metry of the purest pointed style. This was consummated in the 
year 1400. Now what is worthy of special notice is the fact that 
the three masterpieces of their respective types, the only ones that 
ever existed, or perhaps ever will, are in the three most western 
counties of England. From the tenth to the fifteenth century, 
there was a continuous series of buildings, one succeeding the other 
in the outgrowth of the same principle, and the last containing not 
only all the improvements previously introduced, but contributing 
something new itself toward perfecting a style which occupied the 
serious attention of all exalted minds, and an immense variety of 
operatives who carried out with masterly practical skill what their 
buperiors in science designed. Thus the massive Norman pier was 
giadually lightened into the clustered shaft of elegant Gothic; the 
low wagon-vault expanded into the fairy roof of tracery, and the 
small window of primitive churches, became u a transparent wall 
of gorgeous hues" in the sublimest cathedrals, and, despite shame- 
ful neglect or abuse, still remain as the most wonderful miracles of 


274 LEO x. 

art No buildings on earth are more interesting than the the cathe- 
drals of Europe, and especially of England, since each one stands 
the built-up chronicle of national architecture, on which, from crypt 
to spire, are recorded in significant language, the wonders of invent- 
ive genius and constructive skill. 

In tracing the hand of Providence in monumental art, it is im- 
portant to observe that all original invention in architecture comes 
from Greece through Rome, and that the coloring thereof is also 
derived from the East. The Doric and Corinthian orders are the 
formative molds of all subsequent forms, the one of all Roman- 
esque buildings, Byzantine, Lombard, and Norman ; and the other 
of all Gothic, French, German, and English. Says Ruskin, in his 
Stones of Venice, " Those old Greeks gave the shaft ; Rome gave 
the arch; the Arabs pointed and foliated the arch. The shaft 
and arch, the framework and strength of architecture, are from the 
race of Japhet: the spirituality and sanctity of it from Ishmael, 
Abraham, and Shem." 

With the new style of building, were derived from the Romans 
the habit of consecrating ground so as entirely to withdraw it from 
secular purposes ; the sprinkling of holy water ; the burning of 
tapers at the altar; offerings to propitiate the Deity; the worship 
of divers saints^and martyrs ; and even the insignia and dress of 
the bishops and priests. Many of the pagan symbols also were 
adopted in the decoration of the new churches ; a different signifi- 
cation being attached to them. For example, the palm-branch of 
Bacchus, the corn of Ceres, dove of Venus, Diana's stag, Juno's 
peacock, Jupiter's eagle, Cybele's lion, and Cupids changed into 
cherubs, were so copied from the ancients, and made emblematic 
of Christian doctrines. Orientation, or the elevation of a church 
with particular reference to the cardinal points was never regarded 
in Italy ; but in moving westward the special law was increasingly 
observed, until arriving in England where every great mediaeval 
front looks full at the setting sun. The eastern style of that age 
is doubtless related to Greek antiquity, but in the same way as the 
Latin Christian rhymes of the same period are to be classed with 
ancient literature. To refer all the wonders of Teutonic art to that 
primal origin is as unreasonable as it would be to consider the 
verses of Leoine latinists the source of the highest poetry from Dante 

ART. 275 

to Shakspeare. The simple fact is that from Garnac to Winches- 
ter there was perpetual development of increasing excellence ; each 
remove being a monument of augmented good, and the last always 
the best. 

We have seen that Christian architecture sprang from the ruins 
of paganism, and attained the loftiest growth. The mutual de- 
pendence of every thing on earth, whether in the primary crea- 
tions of God, or the secondary creations of man, is strikingly ex- 
emplified in this art. Roman architecture was the offspring of 
Greece, and the parent of the Byzantine, Lombard, and Norman 
styles ; from which again sprung that most magnificent proof of 
man's power over dull matter, the Pointed system of decorated 
construction. From first to last there is no gap nor pause in the 
progress of improvement. Even when fearful signs were seen in 
the heavens, and Rome, the former centre of civilization, had be- 
come a nest of robbers, art was still fostered under the auspices of 
Charlemagne. Other calamities impended, in the midst of which 
that mighty monarch passed away, and in the crypt of his famous 
church at Aix-la-Chapelle, royally robed and crowned, sceptred 
and enthroned, his good sword Joyeuse by his side, and the Bible 
on his knees, he was set to await, with the dull stare of a waxen 
image, the approaching advent of the Judgment Day. Still new 
principles took root, and the mighty tide of improvement swept 
onward. As the Tiber more and more murmured the sepulchral 
sentiment of romance, the Rhine teemed with the thrilling power 
of its living energy. Hence the thousand echoes of those castel- 
lated hills, and sacred associations around secluded vales, which 
form the diapason of a sublime antiquity. The beacon towers, 
melodious belfreys, festal halls, and moss-covered shrines, the deso- 
late cloisters, the dungeons, and the very sepulchres repeat to each 
other, and to the susceptible visitant, the reiterated glories of king 
and kayser. Architecture is far more expressive of both public 
and private life than any other art can be. The sight of its dilap- 
idated records reminds us of the God's Truces, of the Crusades, of 
Feudalism, and of Chivalry, the virtues, crimes, joys, and calamities 
of long lapsed centuries. Nor can we explore these hoary fabrics 
without remembering how their vaults resounded long ago with the 
psalmody and groans of our ancestors, who, during that tremendous 

276 LEO x. 

struggle, came to the foot of the altar, begging of God to give 
them strength to suffer and to hope. 

Saracenic art is a highly enriched and magnificent variety of 
Romanesque, yet fantastic and incongruous, a sort of dead Gothic, 
presenting the pointed arch and other characteristics of that style, 
but without one spark of its pervading spirit. These lifeless forms 
were adopted by the Teutonic architects, and by them endued with 
life and power. They were the first to grasp the great law that 
construction and decoration must proceed from the same source, 
and in a masterly way they exemplified the fundamental principle 
which they had the sagacity to comprehend. 

The Chapel of St. Nazario and St. Celso, erected at Ravenna in 
the fifth century, contains the only tombs which remain in their 
places of the whole line of Caesars, whether oriental or occidental. 
Thenceforth dates a new monumental art, equally separate from 
the old world. Out of the arch came the vault, and out of the 
vault the cupola, that majestic ornament to which every other 
feature is subordinate, and which is the very life and soul of By- 
zantine architecture. The inspiration of the Cross produced nobler 
forms of outline than Ictinus or Callicrates could bestow on their 
most sumptuous works, when its spreading arms reared aloft the 
mighty lantern of St. Sophia, preparatory to the still brighter day 
when above shaft, and architrave, and pediment, should soar the 
matchless dome of Florence, and the heaven-bound spires of Stras- 
bourg and Salisbury. But another element was requisite to this 
result, and was contributed by the genius of Lombardy. The 
campanile, bell-tower, or steeple, owes its origin entirely to Chris- 
tianity amid western barbarians; as such a member was never 
attached to an idol-temple, and is forbidden still to the proudest 
mosques of the false prophet. Moreover, unlike the Saracens who 
never admitted animal forms into decorative construction, the Lom- 
bards copiously used it after every type and form. Saints, found- 
ers of churches, and legendary heroes were strangely intermixed 
with all the strange animals of the natural creation, carved in bas- 
reliefs on walls, capitals, and wherever, within the edifice or with- 
out, a void space was found to receive them. When the soaring 
nave of the Gothic minster supervened upon preceding art, and 
absorbed it all, .then was superadded all the beautiful varieties of 

ART. 277 

vegetable life. In the clustered and banded stalks of its lofty pil- 
lars, tlie crisp leaves of its capitals and corbeled cornices, the 
interlacing arches of its fretted and embossed vaults, and the inter- 
minable complexities of its flowing tracery, were seen traits which 
comported well with the hues that sparkled from roof and chapter, 
walls and windows, and which recalled no work of man indeed, no 
rustic hut or savage cavern, but the sublimest temple of natural 
religion ; the aspiring height of the slender pine, the spreading 
arms of the giant oak, rich with the varied tints of leaf and blos- 
som, soothing as the rustle of balmy breezes, and melodious with 
the choral songs of ten thousand birds. 

Romanesque architecture is the memento of that stage in pro- 
gressive civilization when the church was yet subordinate to the 
state ; when the civil and spiritual powers came into open collision, 
the dispute on investitures roused Europe to its very centre, and 
the battle-cry of Caesar was lost in the crash of Pontifical thunder. 
But the aspiring lancets and pinnacles of the thirteenth century 
commemorate a wider culture and loftier aims. It was not simply 
a spirit which with one hand poured an unction on the brow of 
the ruler, and decked both crown and sceptre with the lily and the 
cross, and with the other girt the bishop and the abbot with en- 
signs of earthly power, and placed them foremost in the chief coun- 
cils of the land. But the architecture of that day proclaims the 
progress of popular education, and is the artistic embodying of the 
northern spirit, the soul of chivalry and romance, the age of faith, 
and love, and valor. It is redolent of the lordly prelate and the 
consecrated knight ; of Tancred and Richard grappling with the 
infidel ; of Bayard dying with his eye fixed on his cross-hilted 
sword ; of Wykcham every way a peer beside the throne of Ed- 
ward, England's mighty king. Then the massy tower was sur- 
mounted with lofty turrets, from the midst of which shot up the 
tapering beauty of the airy spire, bearing the once despised Cross tri- 
umphant over every earthly power ; while beneath lay the tombs 
of the great and noble, not with memorials of a fleeting world and 
signs of hopeless grief, but with the symbols of faith and charity, 
the hands still clasped in prayer, the eyes still fixed on the altar of 

But the baneful hour came when a foreign influence and heathen 

278 LEO x. 

taste obliterated many of these suggestive charms. The same in- 
fection which filled literature with the pedantiy of a mythology 
whose beauty its imitators did not understand, defiled Christian 
churches with heathen idols, and for the cross, the lily, the holy 
legend, substituted the ox-scull, naked cupids, and the garland of a 
pagan sacrifice. Another spirit ruled in the realms of art, and had 
enthroned the eagle of Jove in the place of the Holy Dove. In 
Spain, the Netherlands, and in Scotland, there had been executed 
much clever building, but when the blow fell which destroyed fur- 
ther progress in this department, all excellence existed in English 
architecture alone. It is significant that not one four-centred arch 
was produced even so near as Scotland, while the last bloom of 
monumental art unfolded to perish forever in the frigid extrava- 
gance of Tudor Gothic. The budding forth of living architecture 
was cotemporaneous with one of the grandest augmentations of 
religious sentiment the world has ever known, and was signalized 
by the crusades and the organization of the great monastic orders. 
The first germination of this creative energy appeared about 1050, 
and chiefly among the Normans of France and England, where it 
swelled forth with extraordinary power and vividness. While this 
inspiration lasted, monumental art continued constantly to improve, 
and reached its highest excellence in the remotest West. After 
passing from a Herculean infancy to a graceful youth, and through 
a ripe maturity, a superannuated old age was reached, and it be- 
came extinct before the year 1550 : so completely dead, that, since 
then, no architect in Europe has invented a new feature or com- 
posed a new beauty in that medium. The finest monuments, and 
the final goal of Gothic architecture are together illumined at sun- 
set in western England, nearest to that wonder, Stonehenge, which 
was an antique, probably, long before Pericles ruled or Christ was 

Florence is the only city of the old world that is said to be des- 
titute of ruins. She is the fair metropolis of modern art ; the 
home of science, rather, which came to displace the old artistic 
types, and create all things new. Such was her influence in the 
culminating power of the Renaissance under her great son, Leo X., 
whose pontificate was cotemporaneous with the radical overthrow 
of mediaeval architecture. The Tuscan capital will best illustrate 

ART. 279 

the approach and consummation of that result. The church of St. 
Maria Novella, projected in the year 12^0, is a Latin cross, with 
nave and aisles. Simple and majestic, solid and light, it embraces 
an ensemble of beauties that makes it the fairest in Florence ; and, 
according to Rica and Fineschi, the most graceful in Italy. This 
is the edifice which Michael Angelo termed his " gentle spouse," 
and was, doubtless, the precursor of Brunellesco's architecture. 
When beheld arrayed in its pomp on festal days, draped in silk and 
gold, with its altars lighted ; or, better still, when contemplated in 
its severe simplicity, toward evening, when the grand shadows of 
the pillars cross each other, falling on the opposite walls, and the 
richly tinted rays stream through its storied windows, coloring 
every object around, the spectator feels himself exhilarated and en- 
nobled with a thousand celestial thoughts. And be it remembered 
to the honor of the two Dominican architects, Fra Sisto and Fra 
Ristaro, that they went not to the outer world for models of such 
beauty as this ; for it was not till 1294 that Arnolfo laid the founda- 
tion of St. Croce, and St. Maria del Fiore was not begun till 1298. 
But the latter building, the cathedral of Florence, is the master- 
piece of Italian Gothic, one of the largest and finest churches pro- 
duced in the middle ages. The nave and smaller domes of the 
choir were probably completed as they now stand, in the first quar- 
ter of the fourteenth century. The great octagon remained uncov- 
ered till Brunelleschi commenced the present dome in the year 
1420, and finished it before his death, in 1444. The building may, 
therefore, be considered as essentially cotemporary with the cathe- 
dral of Cologne, and is very nearly of the same size. What a con- 
trast in both spirit and form ! Perhaps the most typical example 
of Italian art in its best period, is the tower erected close to the 
Duomo just referred to, from designs by Giotto, commenced in 
1324, and probably finished at the time of his death, two years 
afterward. It is certainly a very beautiful structure, and worthy 
of the enthusiastic praise which it has received. The openings are 
happily graduated, and being covered with ornament from the base 
to the summit, it has not that naked look so repulsive in many 
others. The convent of St. Mark, whose history is identified with 
that of literature, arts, politics, and religion, was founded toward 
the close of the thirteenth century. Little did the magnificent 

280 LEO X. 

Cosimo imagine that he was there preparing an asylum for that ter- 
rible Savonarola, who was destined to dispute the dominion of 
Florence with his posterity. It was in the midst of these buildings 
that those great minds moved, the regenerators of Europe, " who 
first broke the universal gloom, sons of the morning." 

If the Florentine monuments indicate the revival of science and 
the consequent debasement of art, the most impressive proof rela- 
tive to this point is presented in the famous church of St. Peter at 
Rome. Nothing more pagan in form was ever erected on the seven 
hills where roamed the primitive she-wolf. Not as the mausoleum 
of a Christian martyr, but as the stupendous temple of ome classic 
deity, it is doubtless full of surpassing attractions. Nothing was 
ever done for Leonidas or Camillus, for Regulus or for Julius 
Caesar, in comparison with this monument to a humble fisherman. 
But what stranger to the purpose of its erection would ever think 
of him in the presence of this gorgeous shrine ? Of the magnifi- 
cent inscriptions raised to the wise and mighty of time, the 
sublimest must yield to that which encircles the sky-suspended 
vault of St. Peters. A conqueror of the habitable world once wept 
at having reached the limits of his sway ; for, vast as was his ambi- 
tion, it conceived of no such trophy as is written around that golden 
horizon, consigning the keys of heaven to one who ruled the em- 
pire of earth. But before that huge inscription had been raised to 
its pride of place, the last great transition of human society in the 
age of Leo X. transpired, the most sudden and complete of all rev- 
olutions, the change from the middle age to the modern, from the 
world without printed books to the world with them. St. Peters 
was coeval with the invention of printing, and the universal revival 
of science. Before the sacristy was finished, the splendid endeav- 
ors of Watt had been crowned with success ; and in the interval 
had occurred the discovery of America and the Reformation. The 
fall of Catholic domination and Gothic art was coeval with the end- 
ing of that mighty cycle of mutation wherein the web of society 
had been unraveled and re woven for a yet more auspicious use. 

Sculpture was little practiced during the first medieval cen- 
turies, but the church soon gave that art her patronage, and pro- 
duced innumerable works. Plastic and pictorial art was from the 
earliest period employed in sacred places for the instruction of the 

ART. 281 

people and the edification of the faithful. In 433, pope Sixtus dedi- 
cated to the " people of God " the Mosaics and sculptures in Santa 
Maria Maggiore, at Rome. St. John Damascenus, in the eighth 
century, reasoned earnestly in defense of statuary for religious pur- 
poses. "Images speak," exclaims the eloquent apologist; "they 
are neither mute nor lifeless blocks, like the idols of the pagans. 
Every figure that meets our gaze in a church relates, as if in words, 
the humiliation of Christ for his people, the miracles of the mother 
of God, the deeds and conflicts of the saints. Images open the 
heart and awake the intellect, and, in a marvelous and indescriba- 
ble manner, engage us to imitate the persons they represent." 

As Catholicism advanced it was subjected to opposing influences, 
and the faintest shadow that darkened, or the lightest breath that 
disturbed, the external prosperity or the internal harmony of the 
church, was immediately reflected by the pencil of the artist and 
the chisel of the sculptor. Almost every ancient edifice, therefore, 
becomes to the eye of careful observation a hieroglyphic record of 
the dogmas believed and the changes which transpired in the 
course of successive ages. During the centuries intervening be- 
tween the ninth and seventeenth of our era, numerous cathedrals, 
parish churches, and private chapels, colleges, abbeys, and priories, 
teemed with an almost incredible profusion of figures, images, and 
sacred compositions, carved, sculptured, and engraved, as the me- 
dium of devout instruction. Time and violence have done much to 
deface or destroy these early works, but the western states of Europe, 
especially France and England, are even now immensely rich in stat- 
ues and other sculptured works. The majority of the French cathe- 
drals are illustrated with a vast variety of " Mirrors " in stone ; but 
the most complete is that which adorns the masterpiece at Chartres, 
which has no less than eighteen hundred and fourteen statues on 
the exterior alone. The sculptures here open with the creation of 
the world, to illustrate which thirty-six tableaux and seventy-five 
statues are employed, beginning with the moment when God leaves 
his repose to create the heavens and the earth, and is continued to 
that in which Adam and Eve, having been guilty .of disobedience, 
are driven from Paradise, to pass the remainder of their lives in 
tears and in labor. It is the genesis of organic and inorganic 
nature, of living creatures and reasoning beings ; that in which the 

282 LEO x. 

biblical cosmogony is developed, and which leads to that terrible 
event, the fearful malediction pronounced upon man by his God. 
From the Natural the sculptor passed to the Moral Mirror, and 
showed how that man has a heart to be softened, a mind to be en- 
lightened, and a body to be preserved. Thence arise the four 
orders of virtues, the theological, political, domestic, and personal ; 
all placed in opposition to their contrary vices, as light is to dark- 
ness. Theological and political virtues, the influence of which is 
external, and suitable for the public arena, are placed without; 
domestic and personal virtues, which affect the individual and his 
family, are made to retire within, where they find shelter in still- 
ness and comparative obscurity. Man's career is then continued 
from the creation to the last judgment, just as the sun pursues his 
course from east to west, and the remaining statues are employed 
to exhibit the history of the world, from the period of Adam and 
Eve down to the end of time. The inspired sculptor has, indeed, by 
the aid of the Prophets and of the Apocalypse, divined the future 
fate of man, long after his earthly existence should have termi- 
nated. This is the fourth and last division, completing what was 
called in the language of the middle ages, the " Mirror of the Uni- 
verse." The intellectual framework of this stone Encyclopaedia 
contained an entire poem, in the first canto of which we see re- 
flected the image of nature ; in the second, that of science ; that of 
the moral sense in the third ; of man in the fourth ; and in the 
aggregate, the entire world. 

In those days, the state of society was such as to allow little vent 
to the innermost thoughts of the finely endowed, and the pent-up 
mind was glad to expend a vast amount of thought and labor upon 
works which mechanical skill eventually came to supersede. Be- 
fore the -press could do the same work more effectually, the sculp- 
tor used a building as a book on which to announce in powerful 
language his own peculiar disposition, hopes, sentiments, and expe- 
rience. The apparently grotesque carvings sometimes met with in 
the better period of sculptural art, are indubitably intended to illus- 
trate fables, legends, romances, as well as individual creeds. But 
in the sixteenth century, a moral and political revolution spread 
widely in all countries, and led to a marked change in sculpture as 
in every other intellectual pursuit. Manual dexterity became 

ART. 283 

nearly perfect, and the capability of molding stone like wax, 
combined with the rapid unfolding of bold and novel ideas, induced 
a passionate love of fantastic ornament so peculiar to a vicious 
Renaissance style. Thus, while the figure sculpture of France and 
England still possessed a very peculiar and severe character, emi- 
nently ideal, in Italy, under the Pisani, plastic art grew to be dra- 
matic and picturesque, the conventionalities of the antique were 
revived, and with the study of abstract beauty, came the loss of 
much freshness and individuality. 

In the age wheu the republic of Florence bid one of her archi- 
tects " build the greatest church in the world," all the fine arts rose 
simultaneously, and advanced with gigantic steps. Architecture 
and sculpture led the van, and had their chief seat in Tuscany, 
under the disciples of Nicholas of Pisa. Rienzi and Petrarch had 
been as diligent in the collection of gems and medals as in their 
search after classical manuscripts, and their example was not lost 
upon their successors. Poggio, Cosmo de Medici, and other illus- 
trious private men gave origin to princely museums. The gallery 
of statues and other antiquities belonging to Lorenzo de Medici, 
and the academy annexed to it, constituted the great school in 
which, with many others, the genius of young Michael Angelo 
was formed. Berfoldo, the Florentine sculptor, an aged and expe- 
rienced master, who had studied under Donatello, was the custo- 
dian of the Medician garden, and gave lessons to all the youthful 
cultivators of art. Poets hymned the praises of each splendid 
creation, and thus stimulated the most enthusiastic rivalry. Pin- 
darus and Tirteus sang the glories of the Greeks, and why should 
not the bards of Florence enkindle in these young bosoms the love 
of a similar glory ? It was a grand spectacle to behold the flower 
of Italian genius assembled, where chisel and hammer made the 
marble ring, and the emulative canvas glowed with most fascinat- 
ing tints. Thus was this garden a lyceum for the philosopher, an 
arcadia for the poet, and an academy for the artist ; and no quality 
that it could either elicit or impart was foreign to the mighty mind 
of Michael Angelo. He was the truest exponent of the fifteenth 
century, and should be regarded as the chief agent in substituting 
modern for mediaeval art. He founded modern Italy immediately 
on ancient ruins, and did much to efface the memory of the middle 

284 LEO x. 

ages. Marble was to Michael Angelo what the Italian language 
was to the greatest of Florentine writers ; and with a mind as vast 
and free as that of Dante, of whom he was the warmest admirer, 
he simultaneously illustrated supreme ability in all the liberal arts. 
While a new life impelled art in Germany, France, and the 
Netherlands, during the eleventh century, the appreciation of sculp- 
ture had already begun in Italy ; and, at the end of the succeeding 
century, it had reached the lowest point of ignorance. But in the 
thirteenth century occurred the incident which was the ocasion of 
a favorable reaction. Among the multitude of ancient marbles 
brought home from the East by the Pisan fleet at the time of re- 
building the cathedral of Pisa, was a bas-relief representing two 
subjects taken from the story of Phaedra and Hippolytus. Being 
used as a decoration in the front of that noble building, young 
Nicholas observed, admired, and emulated its artistic worth. His 
successful endeavors led to a complete revolution in sculpture. In 
the fourteenth century, Andrew of Pisa continued the work of his 
predecessors, and was aided in keeping the art in an elevated path 
by Orgagna, and the brothers Agostino and Agnolo of Siena. 
At the beginning of the fifteenth century, under Donatello, and 
Ghiberti, sculpture had again attained a high degree of perfection. 
Other eminent proficients united with these great leaders, and car- 
ried forward the auspicious development into Germany where the 
artistic centre of sculpture, in the sixteenth century was fixed at 
Nuremberg, the residence of Adam Kraft, Peter Vischer, and his 
sons, Veit Stoss, and the great Albert Durer. Before the close of 
this century, however, the Italian renaissance became universally 
diffused in Germany, France, and Flanders, and superseded what- 
ever of originality the native artists had until then preserved. 
Thenceforth, throughout the whole domain of the mediaeval age, 
arabesques, festoons of flowers and fruit, branches, animals, and 
human figures, arranged in the most fantastic manner, took the 
place of all high art, and the excellence of sculpture was at an end. 
During the whole of the sixteenth century, and a great part of the 
seventeenth, from Michael Angelo and Leonardo da Vinci to the 
death of Salvator Rosa, the fine arts underwent an irresistible and 
humiliating decline. 

Bronze casting early attained high excellence at Florence, and 

ART. 285 

further north-west. The gates cast by Ghiberti, for the church of 
S. Giovanni, are perhaps the finest that ever came from human 
hands ; and those of the cathedral of Pisa are excelled by none 
save these, which Michael Angelo pronounced to be fit for the por- 
tal of Heaven. In Mosaics and Gem engraving, also, the Italians 
greatly excelled previous to the seventeenth century, so fatal to the 
arts, literature, and morals of that fated land. All the beauties of 
Christian art faded away one after the other, and that same century 
witnessed the apostacy of painting, as well as sculpture, which, 
after having abjured its high and holy office of civil and religious 
instructress, sought to derive its inspirations from the Pagan 

Mediaeval Italy exulted in art generally, and especially in painting ; 
but it was of a type utterly unlike that which the ancients produced. 
The Greeks loved art because it enabled them to embody the 
images which were inspired by direct intercourse with earth's fair- 
est forms, and they used it simply as the minister of nature, and of 
beauty. But the Italians were imbued with more celestial sympa- 
thies, and employed beauty and nature chiefly as the vehicles of 
spiritual sentiment and exalted aspirations. In the fifth century pic- 
torial art was gradually Romanized in the hands of early Christian- 
ity, and became transformed as it was transmitted toward the West. 
Mount Athos and Constantinople, were, for many centuries, the 
great sources of artistic activity, which imparted to painting a pe- 
culiar style. Long after originality in literature had ceased in the 
East, and national life was there unknown, the creation of pictures 
faltered not, but they were dry and heavy, like the immobile By- 
zantine government, and served only to preserve the elements of 
noble art, while Christianity itself was laying the foundations for 
the future unity of Europe among the progressive races. Down to 
the tenth century, art was absolutely controlled by this frigid con- 
ventionalism, but great improvements supervened as soon as an ap- 
preciative race had been prepared. 

As the effete world beyond the Adriatic expired, the republic of 
Venice arose and inherited all that the superseded orient had pre- 
served. In point of art, down to the thirteenth century, she may 
be considered almost exclusively a Byzantine colony, inasmuch as 
her painters adhered entirely to the hereditary models. But as 

286 LEO x. 

Byzantium had condemned all the higher forms of plastic art, Ven- 
ice could derive no assistance from that source, and, consequently, 
her sculpture bore an entirely new phase. The Venetian mosaics, 
especially, we may regard as the most legible record of the great 
transition and new creation which at this era transpired. As early 
as the year 882, large works in this compound style, in a church 
at Murano, represented Christ with the Virgin, between saints 
and archangels. With incomparably greater originality and force 
is this new type represented in the church of St. Mark, founded 
A.D. 976, the earliest mural pictures of which date back at least to 
the eleventh, perhaps even to the tenth century. 

Medieval painting perfected itself in the same way as ancient 
sculpture. The imperfect but severe and characteristic representa- 
tions of primitive art became types, which later ages were slow to 
alter ; they were copied and recopied until a great revolution in 
popular thought broke the fetters of conventional control. Such, 
in the olden times, was the victory over the Persians, the triumph 
of Greek independence ; in the middle ages it was the struggle be- 
tween the secular and sacred powers. As ^Eschylus and Phidias 
mark that epoch in the Periclean age, so Dante and Giotto, with 
the Rhenish masters, form, in this respect, the great symbols of the 
age of Leo X. With them pure religious feeling is the most per- 
vading impulse, and a sense of divinity habitually directs their 
hands ; but the perception of the latter was more comprehensive, 
and rising above the narrow horizon of their predecessors, they 
soared beyond the periphery of actual life, and embraced the infi- 
nite. All leading spirits, like Dante and Giotto, stood before the 
world, and, with the power of their genius, surveyed the whole ex- 
tent of what was required by their age, religiously and politically. 
They were inspired by the belief which they glorified, and partici- 
pated in benevolent struggles, not more by their writings than by 
their paintings. They extended the boundaries of the realm of art ; 
its representations became richer and broader ; the composition 
was rendered dramatical, the drawing and coloring natural ; and a 
loftier development was occasioned by the discovery of monuments 
of the old civilization, which had been buried and forgotten for 
centuries. Art-elements which had before existed in a mummified 
state, now fell like over-ripe fruit; but not before the soil of 

ART. 287 

the western world was sufficiently fitted to receive the precious 

After architecture, miniatwre drawing alone sustained the chief 
honor of art through a long course of centuries ; and, without it, 
the history of painting could not be written. Born in the disastrous 
days of barbaric irruptions, miniature grew up within the shadow 
of the cloister, and contained within itself the germs of all the mag- 
nificence which the pencil of Italy finally produced. Enamored of 
solitude and contemplative life, the graphic industry of monks em- 
ployed the darkest period of human history in preserving the pre- 
cious fragments of the classics, while it adorned itself with the 
charms of liturgical poetry, and the wealth of biblical truth. 
Usually the same individual was at once a chronicler of pious 
legends, a transcriber of antique manuscripts, and a miniaturist, and 
his glowing lines were not more significant than the little pictures 
wiich gemmed the page. Above each vignette he was wont to 
wreathe a crown of flowers, that his written words might find an 
echo in the graces of his pencil ; and the latter was a better inter- 
preter of the author's heart than the barbarous idioms then spoken. 
The Idyl, the Eclogue, and the Epic, called forth all the power and 
graces of this refined art ; and if Allighieri, in the Divina Comme- 
dia, records with honor the two great fathers of Italian painting, 
Cimabue and Giotto, he has not omitted the two most celebrated 
miniaturists of his age, Oderigi da Gubbio, and Franco of Bologna. 
This association of extremes was a proper one, since the ideas of 
large compositions lay inclosed in the smallest illuminations, like 
unfolded flowers, each shrined in its delicate bud. 

Glass-painting sprang into existence simultaneously with minia- 
ture in the dark ages ; and these inseparable companions were sub- 
jected to the same vicissitudes, and shared one common fate. The 
former was cultivated in Italy as early as the eighth century, as 
may be seen in the treatise on this subject and mosaic, published 
by Muratori ; also in the work of the monk Theophilus, who flour- 
ished in the ninth century. Like miniature, it constituted the de- 
light of the cloister for many an age, during which the cultivators 
of these twin-born arts produced many glorious monuments of their 
genius, when both species closed their career east of the Alps with 
Fra Eustachio of Florence. Perugino, Ghiberti, Donatello, and other 

288 LEO x. 

artists of the highest order, frequently furnished designs at a later 
period ; but in preparing and coloring glass, the Italians were 
greatly excelled by more western races. The fifteenth century was 
the most luminous period of the art ; in that which succeeded, it 
reached its perfection on the Atlantic shore and died. 

Mediaeval painting, properly so called, emerged from the By- 
zantine types in the thirteenth century. The superstitious rigor 
of symbolism was then escaped, and the infant genius of true art 
attained the earliest movements of creative power. This is shown 
in the Madonna of Duccio, at Siena, dated A. D., 1220, and which is 
the oldest existing picture, or movable work, by an Italian artist. 
Next in date, and superior as art, is the Madonna by Cimabue, in 
the Novella at Florence. But even this seems rather a petrified 
type of womanhood, and could hardly be regarded as the flaming 
morning-star of a day about to spread from the bay of Naples to the 
borders of the Rhine, bright with the splendors of Giotto, Perugino, 
Raphael, Fra Beato, Leonardo da Vinci, and the sweet masters of the 
German school. It is not our purpose to note particularly the 
character and career of individual painters, but to remind our read- 
ers of the great and wonderful law of progress, in this as in every 
other respect. For example, while the two leading universities of 
Bologna and Paris arose to feed the lamp of science, art, following 
the general movement, and in the same direction, elevated itself to 
greater dignity of development and conception. Poesy lisped with 
the Troubadours, but they were sent to prepare the way .for the 
manly utterance of the great Allighieri ; and painting, associating 
itself with the bards, did not give Giotto to the world till Dante 
was prepared to sing the three kingdoms of the second life. From 
the first etchings on the walls of catacombs, and the primitive 
symbols of faith depicted on martyr-urns, actual advancement had 
not ceased : but a still more auspicious hour now dawned when 
forms of beauty appeared which rivaled the productions of 
Greece and Rome, excelling the ancients by the sublimity of those 
holy sentiments transfused from heaven into the heart and intellect 
of its cultivators. 

Giovanni, of the noble family of Cimabue, was born in the year 
1240, and on account of the great improvement which he wrought 
in his art, is looked upon, perhaps too exclusively, as the founder 

ART. 289 

of modern painting. He was the disciple of a Greek mosaic paint- 
er at Florence, and worthily reproduced the excellence he was born 
to perpetuate. 

Giotto, the son of Bondone, was born near Florence in the year 
1276. It is said that he was a shepherd boy, and was discovered 
drawing a sheep upon a slab of stone by Cimabue, who took him 
home and instructed him in painting. In him the graphic art was 
associated with the ecstasy of a contemplative mind, and became a 
powerful and animated language. He did not astound or flatter 
the senses by the strength of tints, or the violent contrast of lights 
and shadows ; but like his great successor, Angelico, in the urban- 
ity and variety of lines, in the profiling of countenances, and in 
the ingenuous movement of the figure, he portrayed that harmony 
which pervades all creation, and which reveals itself most divinely 
in the gentle companion of man. 

Amid the rugged Apennines about Umbria there was reared a 
simple and solitary school of painting in the fifteenth century, 
which gloried in sublime inspirations, and cultivated external beauty 
only to show the splendor of its conceptions. Such were Fabriano, 
Credi, Perugino, Pinturricchio, and Raphael who came down to 
Florence to mature their capacities and ennoble their art, in com- 
petition with the great leaders of the Tuscan school, Giotto Mem- 
mi, Gaddi, Spinello, Pietro Cavallini, and the rest. These are the 
men who first burstrthe trammels of dryness, meagreness and 
servile imitation; who first introduced a free, bold, and flowing 
outline, coupled with examples of dignified character, energetic 
action, and concentrated expression ; invented chiaroscuro and 
grouping, and at the point of culmination imparted to their works 
a majesty unrivaled in the history of pictorial art. That was a 
memorable epoch truly, and for the imitative arts one of superla- 
tive glory. For while the people were struggling between tyranny 
and liberty ; while philosophy was engaged in its deliriums about 
judicial astrology, and the civil code was cruel and oppressive, 
painting gradually approached that sovereign excellence to which 
the genius of Leonardo and Raphael were destined to exalt it ; till, 
with the rapidity that signalized its ascent, it began to sink into 
decay and ruin. 

It would seem that oil-painting was practiced in Giotto's time ; 


290 LEO X. 

but it came not into general use until about 1410, when this 
superior medium of art was either invented or revived by the 
Flemish artist, John Van Eyck, of Brughes. The place of this in- 
vention js significant, and still more the fact that ever since the prog- 
ress of art and the perfection of color in Europe has neared that vi- 

Next to the revival of ancient learning, and the progress of 
science, the age of Leo X. was indebted to the perfection of paint- 
ing for its glory. It sprang from an inspiration as special, bore a 
character equally definite, and yet is invested with an excellence as 
absolute as that of Greek sculpture. It was a spiritual plant of the 
most delicate texture, the life of which may be defined as to its 
limits with the greatest precision. Our countryman, unfortunately 
now lost to literature, science, and art, Horace Binney Wallace, 
presents the facts in the following summary form : " The first bud 
broke through the hard rind of conventionality about the year 
1220, and the scene of its first growth may be fixed at Siena; and 
by the year 1320 the germination of the whole trunk was decis- 
ively advanced. Cimabue and Giotto had spread examples of 
Art over all Italy. In the next century, till 1470, all the branches 
and sprays that the frame was to exhibit were grown ; the leafage 
was luxuriantly full, and the buds of the flowers were formed, 
Memmi, the Gaddis, the Orgagnas, the Lippis, Massaccio, and, 
more than all, as relates to spiritual development, Fra Beato had 
lived and wrought. About 1470, the peerless blossom of Perfec- 
tion began to expand, and continued open for seventy years, the 
brightest period of its glow being between 1500 and 1535. Its 
life declined and expired almost immediately. After 1570 nothing 
of original or progressive vitality was produced in Italy. Fra 
Bartolomeo had died in 1517; Leonardo in 1519; Raphael in 
1520 ; Coreggio in 1534 ; Michael Angelo, at a great age, in 1563 ; 
Giorgione had died in 1511; John Bellini in 1516; Titian sur- 
vived till 1576, at the age of 99 ; and Veronese died in 1588. 
The complete exhaustion of the vital force of Art, in the produc- 
tion of the great painters who were all living in 1500, is a notice- 
able fact. With the exception of the after-growth of the 
Bolognese school of whom Dominicheno, Guido, and Guercino, 
alone are worth notice which flourished between 1600 and 1660, 

ART. 291 

nothing in the manner of the previous days, but false and feeble 
imitations appeared." 

Great artists went westward often to execute masterpieces for the 
most appreciative and powerful patrons in the age of Leo, as before 
in the times of Augustus and Pericles, but progress in refinement 
called them eastward never. When the arts were in their highest 
vigor in Italy, they were wooed to the banks of the Seine and the 
Thames, by that true lover, Francis I., of France, and by the mon- 
ied might of England. The richest art treasures on earth have 
ever since accumulated in the retreats where choice collections then 
were first commenced, as we shall have occasion more fully to state 
when we come 'to sketch the age now transpiring. For ten centuries 
the vast and progressive populace of continental Europe had no other 
representative than the Church ; it was then that Art achieved its 
greatness under the fostering care of Catholicism, when the Church 
belonged to the People, and they were comparatively free. But 
when Religion sank into bigotry, and Art, instead of addressing 
the popular heart, was compelled to minister to the narrow demands 
of private patrons, she passed beyond seas, and awaited fairer au<* 
pices in the midst of a freer race. 



EXACTLY at the era when the great European race was dismem- 
bered, the Latin tongue was disused. This had formerly been the 
universal tie between dissimilar tribes, and when it was sundered 
by such men as Dante, who rose to stamp the seal of their genius 
upon the idiom of the common people, science soared sublimely 
amid the new growth of national languages, and became the su- 
preme and most universally uniting bond. When Italy had grad- 
ually become nationalized as one Italy, Spain as one Spain, Ger- 
many as one Germany, France as one France, and Britain as one 
Great Britian ; and when that still mightier process of civilization, 
the Reformation, had supervened, ecclesiastical union was destroyed, 
and then it was that enlarged invention came to the rescue and 
supplied the conservative influence which was most in demand. 
Increased ardor in the pursuit of knowledge led to wider and more 
frequent intercommunications, both mental and physical, while these 
in turn were encouraged and protected by the improved polity of as- 
piring states. A new voice even more cosmopolitic than cotempo- 
raneous creeds broke upon the roused and exulting peoples saying, 
" One is your master, Thought, and all ye are brethren !" Sciences 
lead most directly, and with greatest efficiency to general views ; 
and, above all, natural law, that science which treats of inherent and 
universal rights, arose and was cultivated with propitious zeal. 
The dawn was begun, and the noon was not far off" when in central 
Europe a great proficient in universal history could say : " The 
barriers are broken, which severed states and nations in hostile ego- 
tism. One cosmopolitic bond unites at present all thinking minds, 
and all the light of this century may now freely fall upon a new 
Galileo or Erasmus." 


From the sixth to the fourteenth century the science of govern- 
ment, as laid down by Justinian, was illustrated by the labors and 
comments of numerous celebrated jurisconsults. The Byzantine 
legislation yielded on two essential points to the influence of Chris- 
tianity. The institution of marriage, which in the Code and Pan- 
dects was only directed by motives of policy, assumed, in 911, a 
legal religious character ; and domestic slavery disappeared grad- 
ually, to be replaced by serfdom. A charter was even granted to 
the serfs by the emperor Emanuel Comnenus in 1143. Irnerius, at 
the beginning of the twelfth century, opened the first law-school in 
his native city, Bologna, and thenceforth that science absorbed re- 
publican intellects, and led to a clearer defining of civil rights. A 
passion for this study possessed even the gentler sex ; as in the case 
of Novella Andrea da Bologna, who was competent to fill the pro- 
fessor's chair, during her father's absence, and delivered eloquent 
lectures on arid law. Sybil-like, she took care to screen her lovely 
face behind a curtain, " lest her beauty should turn those giddy 
young heads she was appointed to edify and enlighten." Modeled 
after this pattern, law-schools spread widely, and the study of the 
Lombard and Tuscan municipal constitutions eventually roused the 
European communities to break the bonds of feudalism. The 
principle of personal and political freedom so indelibly rooted in 
each individual consciousness respecting the equal rights of the 
whole human race, is by no means the discovery of recent times. 
At the darkest hour of the middle period of history this idea of 
" humanity" in no mean degree existed and began to act slowly 
but continuously in realizing a vast brotherhood in the midst of 
our race, a unit impelled by the purpose of attaining one partic- 
ular object, namely, the free development of all the latent powers 
of man, and the full enjoyment of all his rights. 

In this department, as in all the rest, Florence was the seat of su- 
preme mental power during the age of Leo X. ; she fostered the 
genius which spread widely in beauty and might. In the fifteenth 
century, an ancient and authentic copy of the Justinian constitutions 
was captured at Pisa, and given by Lorenzo de -Medici to the custody 
of Politiano, the most distinguished mediaeval professor of legal 
science. He corrected numerous manuscripts, supervised the pub- 
lication of repeated editions, and prepared the way for all the great 

294 LEO x. 

improvements which, in his profession, heave since been made. 
Politiano and Lorenzo, as they together took daily exercise on 
horseback, were wont to converse on their morning studies, and 
this was characteristic of the intellectual life of that age and city. 
The vivifying light which began to pour on a hemisphere was es- 
pecially concentrated on the Tuscan capital, and all the sciences 
simultaneously awoke from torpor under the invigorating beams. 
Like a sheltered garden in the opening of spring, Florence re-echoed 
with the earliest sounds of returning energy in every walk of scien- 
tific invention. The absurdities of astrology were exposed, and 
legitimate deduction was substituted in the place of conjecture 
and fraud. Antonio Squarcialupi excelled all his predecessors in 
music, and Francesco Berlinghieri greatly facilitated the study of 
geography. Lorenzo de Medici himself gave especial attention to 
the science of medicine, and caused the most eminent professors to 
prosecute their researches under the auspices of his name and 
bounty. Paolo Toscanelli erected his celebrated Gnomen near the 
Platonic academy ; and Lorenzo da Volpaja constructed for his prince- 
ly namesake a clock, or piece of mechanism, which not only marked 
the hours of the day, but the motions of the sun and of the planets, 
the eclipses, the signs of the zodiac, and the whole revolutions of 
the heavens. 

The study of scientific progress requires us again to notice the 
wonderful use which Providence makes of the three original elements 
of postdiluvian humanity in the execution of infinite designs. The 
Arabians were a Shemitic race, raised into power in near neighbor- 
hood to the heritage of Ham, and were the contributors of numerous 
mental stores which were happily adapted yet further to augment 
the superiority of Japhet. These children of Ishmael existed at a 
gloomy period, and performed a most important work. They drew 
from the last living sources of Grecian wisdom, and directed 
numerous new tributaries into the great central current of civiliza- 

Arabia is the most westerly of the three peninsulas of southern 
Asia, a position remarkably favorable to political influence and 
commercial enterprise. The Mohammedans were an energetic and 
intelligent people, whose ancestors led a nomadic life for more than 
a thousand years ; but from the middle of the ninth century they 


rose rapidly in the appreciation and extension of ennobling science. 
The same race who, two centuries before, had fearfully ravaged the 
great conservatory of learning at Alexandria, themselves became the 
most ardent admirers of the muses, and were unequaled proficients 
in the very studies they had previously, in their bigoted fury, so 
nearly annihilated. They garnered Greek manuscripts with the 
greatest assiduity, and became sufficiently masters of their import,- 
to set a proper estimate on these valuable relics of ancient knowl- 

To the Arabian mathematicians, we are indebted for most valu- 
able improvements in arithmetic, if not in fact for its invention. 
They also transmitted to Europe the knowledge of algebra ; and 
rendered still more important service to geometrical science, by 
preserving many works of the ancients, which, but for them, had 
beeii inevitably lost The elements of Euclid, with other valuable 
treatises, were all transmitted to posterity by their means. The 
Arabian mathematicians of the middle ages were the first to apply 
to trigonometry the method of calculation which is now generally 
adopted. Astronomy, optics, and mechanics were cultivated with 
no less success; and to the Arabs especially must be accredited the 
origin of chemistry, that science which has been productive of so 
many invaluable results. This gave them a better acquaintance 
with nature than the Greeks or the Romans ever possessed, and 
was applied by them most usefully to all the necessary arts of life. 
<l Alchemy" is an Arabic term, denoting a knowledge of the sub- 
stance or composition of a thing. The transmutation of common 
metals into gold and silver, and the discovery of a universal medicine, 
were futile pursuits ; but they led to the method of preparing alcho- 
hol, aqua-foitis, volatile alkali, vitriolic acid, and many other chem- 
ical compounds, which might have remained much longer unknown 
but for the persevering labors and patient experiments of the medi- 
aeval alchemists. 

History records many laudable efforts on the part of the Arab- 
ians in cultivating the natural sciences. Abou-al-Ryan-Byrouny, who 
died in the year 941, traveled forty years for the purpose of study- 
ing mineralogy; and his treatise oa the knowledge of precious 
atones, is a rich collection of facts and observations. Aben-al- 
Beithar, who devoted himself with equal zeal to the study of botany, 

296 LEO x. 

traversed all the mountains and plains of Europe, in search of 
plants. He afterward explored the burning wastes of Africa, for 
the purpose of describing such vegetables as can support the fervid 
heat of that climate ; and finally passed into the remote countries 
of Asia. The animals, vegetables, and fossils common to the three 
great portions of earth then known, underwent his personal inspec- 
tion ; and he returned to his native West loaded with the spoils of 
the South and East. 

Nor were the arts cultivated with less success, or less enriched by 
the progress of natural philosophy. A great number of inventions 
which, at the present day, add to the comforts of life, are due to 
the Arabians. Paper is an Arabic production. It had long, in- 
deed, been made from silk in China, but Joseph Amrou carried the 
process of paper-making to his native city, Mecca, A. D. 649, and 
caused cotton to be employed in the manufacture of it first in the 
year 706. Gunpowder was known to the Arabians at least a cen- 
tury before it appeared in European history ; and the compass also 
was known to them in the eleventh century. From the ninth to 
the fourteenth century, a brilliant light was spread by literature 
and science over the vast countries which had submitted to the 
yoke of Islainism. But the boundless regions where that power 
once reigned, and still continues supreme, are at present dead to 
the interests of science. Deserts of burning sand now drift where 
once stood their academies, libraries, and universities ; while sav- 
age corsairs spread terror over the seas, once smiling with com- 
merce, science, and art. Throughout that immense territory, more 
than twice as large as Europe, which was formerly subjected to the 
power of Islamisin, and enriched by its skill, nothing in our day 
is found but ignorance, slavery, debauchery and death. 

Herein we have a striking illustration of the wonder-working 
of Providence. At a time when the nations of Europe were sunk 
in comparative barbarism, the Arabians were the depositaries of 
science and learning ; when the Christian states were in infancy, the 
iair flower of Islamism was in full bloom. Nevertheless, the sap 
of the Mohammedan civilization was void of that vitality and of 
those principles which alone insure eternal progress, therefore was 
it requisite that the whole system should be transferred and ex- 
hausted on a more productive field, in order to secure the desired end. 


The Arabians were the aggressive conservators of talent rather 
than the productive agents of genius ; and it must be confessed that 
they neither had the presentiment, nor have been direct harbingers 
of any of the great inventions which have placed modern society so 
far above the ancients. They greatly aggregated and improved the 
details of knowledge, but discovered none of the fundamental solu- 
tions which have totally changed the scientific world. At the 
needful moment, a new system came suddenly into existence, and 
spread rapidly from the Indus to the Tagus, under the victorious 
crescent. Apparently indigenous in every clime, its monuments 
arose in India, along the northern coast of Africa, and among the 
Moors in Spain. At Bagdad and Cairo, Jerusalem and Cordova, 
Arabian taste and skill flourished in all their magnificence. It is 
said that no nation of Asia, Africa, or Europe, either ancient or 
modern, has possessed a code of rural regulations more wise, just, 
and perfect, than that of the Arabians in Spain ; nor has any nation 
ever been elevated by the wisdom of its laws, the intelligence, 
activity, and industry of its inhabitants, to a higher pitch of agri- 
cultural prosperity. Agriculture was studied by them with that 
perfect knowledge of the climate, the soil, and the growth of plants 
and animals, which can alone reduce empirical experience into a 
science. Nor were the arts cultivated with less success, or less en- 
riched by the progress of natural philosophy. What remains of so 
much glory ? Probably not ten persons living are in a situation to 
take advantage of the manuscript treasures which are inclosed in' 
the library of the Escurial. Of the prodigious literary riches of the 
Arabians, what still exist are in the hands of their enemies, in the 
convents of the monks, or in the royal collections of the West. 
The instant they had brought forward all the wealth of the East, 
and planted it where by a fruitful amalgamation great and wide 
benefits could be produced, then Charles Martel, the hammer, head- 
ing the progressive progeny of Japhet, broke down the might of 
Shem, and repelled his offspring forever toward the sombre domain 
and fortunes of Ham. 

In this connection, we should consider the use which Providence 
made of Feudalism, that great military organization of the middle 
ages. It pre-eminently conduced to greater centralization and unity 
among civilizing powers. After having destroyed the majesty and 


298 LEO x. 

influence of the Germanic and imperial royalty which Pepin and 
Charlemagne had revived over the ruins of the Roman world, it 
rapidly declined and gave place ultimately to popular liberty. 
" Feudality," says Guizot, " has been a first step out of barbarism 
the passage from barbarism to civilization : the most marked char- 
acter of barbarism is the independence of the individual the pre- 
dominance of individualism; in this state every man acts as he 
pleases, at his own risk and peril. The ascendancy of the indi- 
vidual will and the struggle of individual forces, such is the great 
fact of barbarian society. This fact was limited and opposed by the 
establishment of the feudal system of government. The influence 
alone of territorial and hereditary property rendered the individual 
will more fixed and less ordered ; barbarism ceased to be wander- 
ing ; and was followed by a first step, a surpassing step toward 

Feudalism engendered new institutions, and they entered 
deeply into the spirit of progress. Such were, for example, the 
Court of Peers and the Establishments of St. Louis, wherein the 
first trial was made toward a uniform legislation for the whole 
nation. The Crusades form also a conspicuous feature in the 
political activity of the Japhetic nations during the middle ages. 
The great movement that induced western Europe to rush to the 
East had, by no means, the expected results ; yet its consequences 
became numerous and beneficial. Oppressing Shem was repulsed 
'in a new direction; and great wealth of science was attained through 
his avaricious and violent hands. Thus the turbulent energy of 
the military classes, which threatened the progress of civilization, 
was exhausted in a distant land ; and at the same time the different 
races of Europe were made to know each other better, and to banish 
all mental hostility, by uniting in one uniform devotion to a lofty 
design. Another great consequence of the Crusades was the 
change of territorial property, the sale of the estates of the nobles, 
and their division among a great number of smaller proprietors. 
Hence the feudal aristocracy was weakened, and the lower orders 
arose with acquired immunities, ennobled by the spirit of independ- 
ence, and protected by municipal laws. 

To excel in arms, not in arts, was the ambition of the crusading 
knights ; and if they gazed for a while with stupid amazement 


upon the classic treasures of the East, it was only to calculate the 
vastness of their booty, and to collect force for the campaign. 
Bliad frenzy often characterized the instruments, but infinite wisdom 
was in the purpose which governed them. The Crusades con- 
tributed to the stability of governments, the organization of institu- 
tions, the cultivation of arts, the emancipation of thought, and the 
enlargement of the various realms of science. Had they not 
accomplished the needful preparation, under the guidance of Provi- 
dence, the influx of literature into Europe consequent upon the fall 
of Constantinople would have been worse than in vain. It was, 
therefore, wisely ordained that these romantic expeditions should 
not be occasions for the acquisition of knowledge which would 
transcend the capacities of its agents ; but of. preparatory changes 
fitted to facilitate the adaptation and profitable application of 
eastern elements, when, on the vast expanse of the West, the full 
time should arrive for them to be completely introduced. The 
Crusades tended to confirm and extend pre-existing impressions ; to 
import rather than to originate knowledge. For any considerable 
proficiency in literature or art, unknown to pilgrims in the East, we 
search in vain previous to the fifteenth century ; but, as we have 
seen, their importations of scientific elements were neither few nor 
small. If the twelfth and thirteenth centuries were the age of the 
Crusades, the following two were not less the age of improvement 
growing out of the conflicts in Palestine. They were perpetuated 
as the popular watchword of chivalry and theme of romance, till 
Tasso embodied the thrilling annals in his immortal poem, which 
even in his age ceased not to glow in the common mind. Nor was the 
fourteenth century in the least a vacuum between the Crusades and 
the revival of literature and science ; it was but slightly productive 
in original material, but its spirit was permeating, and formed a 
necessary link between cause and effect, be the connection however 
remote. Such is the golden thread which extends through all the 
web of passing events, leading on to the accomplishment of one 
grand design. In like manner, minstrels formed an integrant part 
of the Crusade retinue, by whose happy interposition a more than 
imaginary union was formed between martial exploits and poetical 
conceptions. Thenceforth the recollection of those enthusiastic 
adventures summoned up a train of highly romantic associations, 

300 LEO X. 

by which the ideal world was greatly enlarged and peopled with 
new orders of captivating creatures, capable of an endless series of 
fruitful suggestions. Furthermore, the occupation of the eastern 
empire was productive of much advantage to the mental culture of 
the West. Persecuted scholars sought refuge and employment 
beyond the Alps, where they repaid the hospitality they received 
with such wisdom as they possessed. 

The Saracenic conquests in Spain brought in vast stores of ori- 
ental knowledge, and frequent intercourse with that land, and with 
Palestine, for devotional or commercial purposes, tended greatly to 
increase the treasure, and a taste for its enjoyment But Arabian 
literature was a forced plant in Europe, and was as transient in its 
bloom as it was unnatural in its maturity. Some traces of a more 
substantial cultivation, however, were yet extant within the walls 
of Bagdad, and thence the crusaders secured whatever could be 
advantageously employed. But the fire of inventive genius, ex- 
pressed in literary and scientific research, which once characterized 
the Arabians, had passed away ; the seeds of preliminary culture 
had been sown, and their mission ended with the predestined work 
of their hands. The arts and sciences of the Arabians were as 
unique as their authors ; too practical to be elegant, and too fanci- 
ful for ordinary use. To their skill in medicine, and the exactness 
of arithmetic, they added the vagueness of the talisman and horo- 
scope. Astronomy was lost in astrology, chemistry in alchymy, 
and medicine in empiricism. But amid the darkness of their 
eiTors dwelt gleams of scientific light superior to any the world had 
yet seen. The principal utility lay in the fact that these dim inti- 
mations prompted western Europe to break through habitual asso- 
ciations in matters of taste and knowledge, and rendered her the 
instrument of her own intellectual resuscitation, by exciting an ardor 
in mental pursuits hitherto unknown. 

The crusades happily exhausted the military spirit of Europe, and 
prepared the way for advancement in the arts of peace. This done, 
the decline of the feudal system was hastened by the necessity of 
meeting the enormous expenses thereby incurred. Many baronial 
estates were consequently sold, and thus by degrees were abolished 
those impediments which had long been adverse to all the varied 
forms of culture by which the afflictions of man are mitigated, or 


his toils abridged. The great evil which then required to be abol- 
ished had given strength to a greater good that was to succeed ; the 
commerce which was mainly created to carry supplies to the cru- 
saders, was ready, on the decline of martial renown, to go still fur- 
ther in search of a new world, or to hold mercantile speculations 
with the remotest regions of the old. Consequent upon the facilities 
and refinements of navigation, followed all those arts of utility and 
convenience by which the productions of nature are applied or im- 
proved. The arts of weaving and dyeing, the perfection of paper 
and the press, as well as gunpowder and the compass, were the re- 
sults of quickened industry and enlarged commerce. All great 
civilizing powers then attained a simultaneous and distinct culmina- 
tion over a new field and under brighter auspices, when each de- 
partment of progressive pursuit, the commercial, the literary, and 
the military, was furnished, at the fall of the feudal system, with 
its own peculiar instrument of invincible conquest. 

Bearing in mind that Charles Martel, Peter the Hermit, Rich- 
ard of the Lion Heart, and John Sobieski, with their mighty co- 
agents in the great preparatory work above described, all arose on 
the western edge of the field and age we are now exploring, let us 
proceed briefly to notice the still grander developments which fol- 
lowed thereupon. 

The westward track on high was determined by the early astrono- 
mers of Egypt. Thales, the father of Greek astronomy, made great 
advances upon the speculations he derived from the Egyptians, and 
expounded them in his own country. A scholar of his was the 
first person who pointed out the obliquity of the circle in which the 
sun moves among the stars, and thus " opened the gate of nature." 
Certainly he who had a clear view of that path in the celestial sphere, 
made that first step which led to all the rest. But when Greek 
science fell with Ptolemy, there was apparently no further advance 
till the rise of Copernicus. During this interval of thirteen hundred 
and fifty years, as before stated, the principal cultivators of astronom- 
ical science were the Arabians, who won their attainments from the 
Greeks whom they conquered, and from whom the conquerors of 
western Europe again received back their treasure when the love 
of science and the capacity for its use had been sufficiently awak- 
ened in their minds. In mechanics, also, no marked advancement 

302 LEO X. 

was made from Archimedes till the time of Galileo and Stevinus. 
The same was true of hydrostatics, the fundamental problems of 
which were solved by the same great teacher, whose principles re- 
mained unpursued till the age of Leo X. began to give perfection 
to the true Archimedean form of science. As early as Euclid, 
mathematicians drew their conclusions respecting light and vision 
by the aid of geometry ; as, for instance, the convergence of rays 
which fall on a concave speculum. But, down to a late period, the 
learned maintained that seeing is exercised by rays proceeding 
from the eye, not to it ; so little was the real truth of optical sci- 
ence understood. In this respect, as in most others, it was attempted 
to explain the kind of causation in which scientific action origin- 
ates, rather than to define the laws by which the process is con- 

In the darkest period of human history, astronomy was the 
Ararat of human reason ; but it became especially the support and 
rallying point of the scientific world, when intellect at large was 
astir to investigate the new wonders which rose to view with 
the effulgent noon of the middle age. Alphonso, king of Castile, in 
the year 1252, corrected the astronomical tables of Ptolemy ; and 
Copernicus, of Thorn, revived the true solar system, about 1530. 
Tycho Brahe and Longomontanus brought forward opposing sys- 
tems, but which were soon rejected. Kepler, soon after, gave the 
first analysis of planetary motions, and discovered those laws on 
which rests the theory of universal gravitation. Galileo advocated 
the Copernican system ; and by the aid of one of the first telescopes, 
discovered the satellites of Jupiter. Hygens discovered Saturn's 
ring, and fourth satellite ; and four others were soon after noticed 
by Cassini. Thus was the great secret of the sidereal universe read, 
its movements comprehended, and the glories thereof proclaimed, 
while emancipated and sublimated thought, from the loftiest throne 
of observation began forever to soar aloft. 

As a ray of light became the conductor of mind upward into 
infinite space, so a bit of gray stone projected the invisible bridge 
which spans from continent to continent, and makes the path over 
trackless oceans plain as a broad highway. The properties of this 
wonderful mineral were not unknown to the ancients, who, Pliny 
says, gave the name " Magnet" to the rock near Magnesia, in Asia 


Minor; and the poet Hesiod also makes use of the term "magnet 
stone." The compass was employed twelve hundred and fifty years 
before the time of Ptolemy, in the construction of the magnetic 
carriage of the emperor Tsing-wang ; but the Greeks and Romans 
were completely ignorant of the needle's pointing toward the north, 
and never used it for the purpose of navigation. Before the third 
crusade, the knowledge of the use of the compass for land purposes 
had been obtained from the East, and by the year 1269 it was 
common in Europe. But as the time approached when God would 
advance, by mightier strides than before, the work of civilization, 
he discovered the nations one to another, through the agency of a 
tiny instrument, then first made to vibrate on the broadest sublu- 
nary element, and the throne of grandest power. The discovery of 
the polarity of the magnet, and the birth of scientific navigation 
resulting therefrom, was as simple as it was providential. Some 
curious persons were amusing themselves by making swim in a 
basin of water a loadstone suspended on a piece of cork. When 
left at liberty, they observed it point to the north. The discovery 
of that fact soon changed the aspect of the whole world. This in- 
vention, which is claimed by the Neapolitans to have been made by 
one of their citizens about the year 1302, and by the Venetians as 
having been introduced by them from the East, about 1260, led to 
the discovery of the New World by Columbus in 1492. When 
the mariner's compass was needed, it was produced, and from the 
most western port of the Old World, mind shot outward forever ! 
Like the relation between the earth's axis and the auspicious star 
which attracts the eye of the wanderer, and shows the North in the 
densest wilderness or on the widest waste, so from eternity the 
magnetic influence had reference to the business of navigation, and 
the true application of this arrived at the destined moment, when, 
in connection with correlative events, in like manner prepared, 
it would produce the greatest good. After eastern talent had 
proved the form of earth, western genius discovered the vastness of 
oceanic wealth. The Pillars of Hercules were passed by the great 
adventurers at sea in the fifteenth century, and trophies were won 
richer by far than ever graced the triumphs of an Alexander on 
shore. The works of creation were doubled, and every kingdom 
forced its treasures upon man's intellect, along with the strongest 

304 LEO X. 

inducements to improve recent sciences as well as ancient litera- 
tures, for the widest and most beneficent practical ends. 

The style of working with Providence is, to attain some grand 
result, compatibly with ten thousand remote and subordinate inter- 
ests. One yet higher and more comprehensive instrumentality 
was requisite to garner all the past, ennoble the present, and enrich 
the future, and at the fitting moment for its appearance and use, 
the press stood revealed. 

Though the Chinese never carried the art of writing to its legiti- 
mate development in the creation of a perfect phonetic alphabet, 
they yet preceded all other nations in the discovery of a mode of 
rapidly multiplying writings by means of printing, which was first 
practiced by Fung-taou as early as four centuries before its inven- 
tion in Europe. Beyond that first step the old East never ad- 
vanced ; there each page of a book is still printed from an entire 
block cut for the occasion, having no idea of the new western sys- 
tem of movable types. What astrology was to astronomy, alchemy 
to chemistry, and the search for the universal panacea to the system 
of scientific medicine, the crude process of block-printing was to the 
perfected press. Engraved wooden plates were re-invented by 
Coster, at Harlaem, as early as 1430 ; but the great invention of 
typography is accredited to Guttenberg, who was assisted by 
Schoefier and Faust. This occurred in 1440; and stereotype 
printing, from cast metallic plates, is due to Vander-Mey, of Hol- 
land, who first matured it about. 1690. 

The time had come when men were required to comprehend the 
ancients, in order to go beyond them ; and at the needful crisis, 
printing was given to disseminate all precious originals throughout 
the world, in copies innumerable. Had the gift been bestowed at 
an earlier period, it would have been disregarded or forgotten, from 
the want of materials on which to be employed ; and had it been 
much longer postponed, it is probable that many works of the 
highest order, and most desirable to be multiplied, would have been 
totally lost. Coincident with this most conservative invention, was 
the destruction of the Roman empire in the East. In the year 
1453, Constantinople was captured by the Turks, and the encour- 
agement which had been shown to literature -and science at Flor- 
ence, induced many learned Greeks to seek shelter and employment 


in that city. Thus, the progressive races were favored with multi- 
plied facilities for gathering and diffusing those floods of scientific 
illumination vouchsafed to deliver from the fantasies that had 
hitherto peopled the world from the prejudices that had held the 
human mind in thrall. When Guttenberg raised the first proof- 
sheet from movable types, the Mosaic record " God said, let there 
be light, and light was" flashed upon earth and heaven with un- 
precedented glory, and that light of intellect must shoot outward, 
upward, and abroad forever ! It was not a lucky accident, but the 
golden fruit of omniscient design, an invention made with a perfect 
consciousness of its power and object, to congregate once isolated 
inquirers and teachers beneath one temple, wherein divine aspira- 
tions might unite and crown with success all the scattered and 
divided efforts for extending the empire of love and science over the 
whole civilized earth. 

On the banks of the same river Rhine, where printing first 
attained a practical use in the hands of a soldier, the discovery of 
gunpowder was made by a priest. Its properties were obscurely 
known long before the crusades, but are said to have been first 
traced in their real nature by Berthold Schwartz, and were made 
known in 1336, ten years before cannon appeared in the field of 
Crecy. Small arms were unknown until nearly two centuries after- 
ward, and were first used by the Spaniards, about the year 1521. 
Fortified with this new power, Cortez, with a handful of soldiers, 
was able to conquer the natives of Mexico, the most civilized and 
powerful of all the nations then on this western continent. From 
the hour when the blundering monk was blown up by his own ex- 
periment, gross physical strength was surrendered to expert military 
science ; and gunpowder has increasingly exalted intellect in the 
conduct of war, not less than in the triumphs of peace. 

The history of civilization is written in the triumphs which are 
won by scientific invention over the physical laws of nature, and 
over the mental infirmities of inferior human tribes. These multi- 
ply at points in space, and periods of .time, most happily adapted 
to promote the progress and welfare of mankind. The manufacture 
of glass windows, chimneys, clocks, paper, the mariner's compass, 
fire-arms, watches, and saw-mills, with the process of printing with 
movable types, and the use" of the telescope, comprise nearly all tho 

306 LEO X. 

inventions of importance which were made during the lapse of 
twelve centuries ; all the best of which appeared near the close of 
the medieval period, and were not a little indebted to information 
obtained from Mohammedans through the crusades. In the gradual 
development of human destiny occur flourishing periods, when nu- 
merous men of genius are clustered together with mutual depend- 
ence, and in a narrow space. For instance, Tycho, the founder 
of the new measuring system of astronomy, Kepler, Galileo, and 
Lord Bacon of Verulam, were cotemporaries ; and all of them, ex- 
cept the first, lived to see the works of Descartes and Fermat. The 
true celestial system was discovered by Copernicus in the same year 
in which Columbus died, fourteen years after the grandest mundane 
discovery was made. The sudden appearance and disappearance 
of three new stars which occurred in 1572, 1600, and 1604, excited 
the wonder of vast assemblies of people, all over Europe, while 
humble artizans, in an obscure corner thereof, were constructing an 
instrument which should at once calm their -fears and excite the 
most absorbing astonishment. The telescope was discovered in 
Holland, in 1608, and two years after the immortal Florentine as- 
tronomer began to shine prominently above all other leaders of 
sublime science. Galileo was the Huss of mediaeval progress, if it 
be not better to call him the Columbus. The day of predestined 
freedom rose over his cradle, and his life^struggle struck the hour. 
His hand kindled brighter lamps in the great temple of knowledge, 
and, sublime priest of true evangelism as he was, it was fitting that 
his place and mission were so central, when he held aloft supremest 
light. We love to read the history of his mighty spirit, and con- 
template the serene old man, blinded by gazing at stars, bereaved 
of his pious daughter, dragged to the dungeon of the Inquisition, 
and there visited by the future secretary of the English Common- 
wealth. In his own great maxim, that " we can not teach truth 
to another, we can only help him to find it," is contained the 
germ of all true wisdom, and the foundation of those future in- 
ductions which were to underlie a new age and revolutionize the 

Sir Isaac Newton was born the same year Galileo died; and 
while we do not forget that Florence was the great centre of science, 
as of literature and art during the age of Leo X., let us glance more 


particularly at this point to the results which so constantly tended 
toward the western extreme. 

We have already alluded to many of the developments which 
illuminated the night of ignorance, broke the yoke of superstition, 
gave to doubt a salutary force, and redoubled the acute delights of 
scientific investigation. The wonders of remote hemispheres were 
simultaneously unfolded, when Columbus and Vasco de Gama, at 
one stroke, overthrew the old geological and geographical systems. 
Before the close of the sixteenth century few of the mysteries of 
nature were left unvailed, and all that remained for posterity was 
the work of enlarged classification, and the perfection of each sepa- 
rate science. The progress made was, in fact, immense. As the 
botanic gardens, at that time planted in the new Italian universities, 
were fragrant with a thousand exotics, unknown to antiquity, so 
the softest fabrics, and most delicious fruits, recalled to memory 
the concurrent events of Providence, which for a long time made 
Venice and Genoa the emporia of mediaeval traffic. Every luxury 
of the old world, which commerce converted into a comfort for the 
new, is a memento of the discoveries which guided navigation in 
the remotest seas, and carried European adventurers so far as to 
make the treasures of the entire globe our own. The science of 
political economy was also the offspring of that increased commer- 
cial activity which has so much affected the character of nations 
as to render new combinations of philosophy necessary for their 
direction. We only need allude to the fact that the free cities of 
Italy were compelled to yield the leadership in commerce to freer 
Holland, and that the sceptre of the seas was finally won by En- 
gland ; and that the first published theory of political economy was 
given to the world in Raleigh's essay, which Quesnoy long after 
attempted in vain to refute. 

Agriculture was greatly improved in England under the early 
civilizers of the Anglo-Norman race. Immediately after the con- 
quest, many thousand husbandmen, from the fertile plains of Flan- 
ders and Normandy, obtained farms, and employed the same meth- 
ods of cultivation which had proved so successful in their native 
country. The ecclesiastics rivaled the secular ranks in this noble 
work. It was so much the custom of the monks to assist in open 
fields, especially at seed-time, the hay season, and harvest, that the 

308 LEO X. 

famous a Becket, even after he was Archbishop of Canterbury, 
used to sally out with the inmates of the convents, and take part 
with them in all rural occupations. It was decreed by the General 
Council of Lateran, that, " all presbyters, clerks, monks, converts, 
pilgrims, and peasants, when they are engaged in the labors of 
husbandry, shall, together with the cattle in their plows, and the 
seed which they carry into the field, enjoy perfect security ; and 
that all who molest and interrupt them, if they do not desist when 
they have been admonished, shall be excommunicated." Nearly 
all the finest garden-lands in England were redeemed from the 
worst natural condition by the sagacious and industrious Benedictine 
religionists. The science they applied in cathedral building is won- 
derful to the wisest engineers of our own age, and their taste in 
landscape-gardening has ever been the best in the world. Their 
ruined abbeys stand in the loveliest positions, and all their great 
churches, and colleges, unlike the continental, are encompassed by 
trees, and exquisitely decorated grounds. Ingulfus, abbot of'Croy- 
land, supplies an early and characteristic instance of this general 
disposition. Richard de Rules, director of Deeping, he tells us, be- 
ing fond of agriculture, obtained permission to inclose a large por- 
tion of marsh, for the purpose of separate pasture, excluding the 
Welland by a strong dike, upon which he erected a town, and ren- 
dered those stagnant fens a garden of Eden. Others followed their 
example, and divided the marshes among them ; when some con- 
verting them to tillage, some reserving them for meadow, others 
leaving them in pasture, found a rich soil for every purpose. 

Evelyn records how four kinds of grapes were early brought from 
Italy, with a choice species of white figs, and were naturalized in 
his vapory clime. The learned Linacre first brought the damask- 
rose from the south ; and, at the same time, the royal fruit gardens 
were enriched with plums of three different kinds. -Edward 
Grindal, afterward primate at Canterbury, returning from exile, 
translated thither the medicinal plant of the tamarisk. The first 
oranges were grown by the Carew family, in Surrey ; and the cherry 
orchards of Kent were commenced about Sittingbourne. British 
commerce brought the currant-bush from the island of Zante, and 
lettuce from Cos. Cherries came from Cerasuntis, in Pontus ; the 
peach, from Persia ; the chestnut from Castagna, a town of Mag- 


nesia ; and the damson plum from Damascus. Lucullus, "after the 
war with Mithridates, introduced cherries from Pontus into Italy, 
where they were rapidly propagated, and, twenty-six years after- 
ward, Pliny relates, the cherry-tree passed over into Britain. Thus 
a victory gained by a Roman consul over a remote antagonist, with 
whom it would seem that the western isle could not have the re- 
motest interest, was the real cause of her being ultimately enriched. 
Such is the law of providential dealing, and such are the means and 
the path it pursues. In 1609, Shakspeare planted his celebrated 
mulberry-tree, a production before almost unknown. Since that 
epoch, vast treasures of literature, art, and science have accumulated 
on that soil, but few new germs have originated there. 

Nearly all the roots of England's maturest science run back into 
the deepest mediaeval night. A worthy associate with Thomas 
Aquinas, Albert the Great, and Michael Scot, was the celebrated 
Roger Bacon, a native of Somersetshire, who flourished in the thir- 
teenth century. This Franciscan monk seems to have been a 
" Phoenix of intellects" in the fundamental education of the English 
race, " an old and new library of all that was good in science." He 
greatly established and extended the natural sciences, by means of 
mathematics, and the production of phenomena in the way of ex- 
periments. To him especially credit is due, that the influence 
which he exercised upon the mode of treating natural studies, was 
more beneficial and of more lasting effect than the discoveries them- 
selves which have been attributed to him. Says Humboldt, " He 
roused himself to independent thought, and strongly blamed the 
blind trust in the authority of the schools : yet he was so far from 
neglecting to search into Grecian antiquity, that he prizes the study 
of comparative philology, the application of mathematics, and the 
* Scientia Experimental,' to which he devotes a particular section 
in his great work. One of the popes, Clement IV., defended and 
patronized him ; but two others, Nicholas H. and IV., accused him 
of magic, and cast him into prison, and thus he experienced the 
reverses of fortune which have been felt by great men of all times. 
He was acquainted with the Optics of Ptolemasus and the Almagest. 
As he always calls Hipparchus ' Abraxis,' like the Arabs, we may 
conclude that he had only made use of a Latin translation of the 
Arabic work. Besides Bacon's chemical investigations respecting 

310 LEO X. 

combustible and explosive mixtures, his theoretical optical works 
upon Perspective, and the position of the focus in a concave mirror, 
are the most important." 

It is interesting to contemplate this thoughtful recluse prosecuting 
lofty studies in his solitary cell at Oxford. Around him was rising 
that greatest of western universities, scarcely one college of which, 
according to its historian, Doctor Ingram, can be considered a royal 
foundation. Great commoners, architects of their own fortunes, 
like the butcher's son, Wolsey, and the poor stone-mason, William 
of Wykcham, reared the amplest halls, and educated the mightiest 
minds. In the front rank of these great benefactors of science 
stood Roger Bacon, greatest of his own age, and projector of nearly 
all that followed. His writings contain many curious facts and 
judicious observations. From the following statement it would 
appear that he anticipated his brother monk on the continent in 
the discovery of gunpowder : " From saltpetre and other ingre- 
dients," he says, " we are able to form a fire which will burn to any 
distance." And again, alluding to its effects, " a small portion of 
matter, about the size of the thnmb, properly disposed, will make a 
tremendous sound and coruscation, by which cities and armies 
might be destroyed." One of his biographers ascribes to him a 
mechanical contrivance which prepared the way for the important 
invention of the air-pump. In his own words, we have the follow- 
ing anticipations of nearly all the grand inventions which have 
more recently changed the condition and aspect of the scientific 
world : " I will mention," he says, " things which may be done 
without the help of magic, such as indeed magic is unable and 
incapable of performing ; for a vessel may be so constructed as to 
make more way with one man in her, than another vessel well 
manned. It is possible to make a chariot which, without any 
assistance of animals, shall move with the irresistible force which is 
ascribed to those scythed chariots in which the ancients fought. 
It is possible to make instruments for flying, so that a man sitting 
in the middle thereof, and steering with a kind of rudder, may 
manage what is contrived to answer the end of wings, so as to 
divide and pass through the air. It is no less possible to make a 
machine of a very small size, and yet capable of raising or sinking 
the greatest weights, which may be of infinite use on certain occa- 


sions, for by the help of such an instrument not above three inches 
high, or less, a man may be able to deliver himself and his com- 
panions out of prison, and he and his companions may descend at 
pleasure. Yea, instruments may be fabricated by which one man 
shall draw a thousand men to him by force, and against their will, 
as also machines which will enable men to walk without danger at 
the bottom of seas and rivers." 

The above possibilities, as they were suggested in the thirteenth 
century, have already in good part been realized, justifying the 
prophecies of a man who was before his age, but on the course of 
its progress. He beheld the drifting of the great seas of humanity, 
and knew not how far they might roll, but he was conscious that 
forward they must go. He was the Savonarola of his land and age, 
the martyr of science, who possessed his soul in patience, uttered 
his word, and waited, knowing that his despised sentence would 
one day be esteemed as of the finest gold. Mr. Brande observes, 
that one of his principal works " breathes sentiments which would 
do honor to the most refined periods of science, and in which many 
of the advantages likely to be derived from the mode of investigation 
insisted upon by his great successor (Chancellor Bacon) are antici- 
pated." This remark might have been still more prospective, for 
the celebrated French experimentalist, Homberg, availing himself 
of some hints of chemical combinations suggested by Roger Bacon, 
at a much later period, made some important discoveries in that 

As soon as printing was perfected on the banks of the Rhine, it 
was brought to the banks of the Thames, and, in 1474, the first 
press in England was erected by Caxton in Westminster Abbey. 
Thus the higher process supervenes upon the inferior which pre- 
pared the way, and supersedes the sources of its own origin and 
support. In the ancient Scriptorium of the Abbey, where all 
literature had been transcribed, and all science then extant found 
refuge till more auspicious times, was carried on an art which was 
the embodiment of anterior thought, and the guaranty of a future 
culture infinitely intensified and enlarged. As early as 1480, books 
were printed at St. Albans ; and in 1525, there was a translation of 
Boethius printed in the monastery of Tavistock, by Thomas Richards, 
monk of the same monastery. That the intercourse of Caxton 

312 LEO X. 

with the Abbot of Westminster was on a familiar footing we learn 
from his own statement, in 1490 : " My Lord Abbott of Westminster 
did shew to me late certain evidences written in old English, for to 
reduce it to our English now used." 

To receive the contributions of the past and reduce them to more 
efficient use in the present and for the future, is the mission of 
every agent of Providence like Caxton, Roger Bacon, or that gifted 
son of St. Albans whose dust lies buried near the venerable Abbey, 
where the second press of old England was set at work within the 
church, while he thought and wrote without. Francis Bacon was 
the complement of Aristotle. Both were adapted to their respective 
ages, and were requisite to each other. Had not the great Greek 
speculated, the greater Englishman would never have made his 
demonstrations. The first developed the general form of all reason- 
ing, and the second made a specific application of this to the 
phenomena of matter. But the deductive mode is only one of the 
phases of dialectics ; and the Baconians of the present day are much 
in the same position with regard to moral science, that the Aris- 
totelians were in with respect to matter science. A third method 
was necessitated by the superior worth of the second, and the 
nations at large await the man to come who shall exhaust the 
whole doctrine of method, and this will doubtless be consummated 
in the same direction which scientific excellence has hitherto 



THE era of the subversion of the western empire, A. D. 476, pre- 
sents a point from which a step forward, and a change for the 
better in human affairs, was distinctly marked. It was one from 
which we may most advantageously survey the field of political and 
moral philosophy. 

Tho exterminating swords of barbarian conquerors left scarcely a 
vestige of former systems behind them. A deluge of new influ- 
ences prevailed, and the moral aspect of earth was transformed. 
Men came upon a broader stage, amid more expanding scenes, and 
were soon acting a new character under impulses and in situations 
before unknown. Standing on this elevation, we see that old things 
have passed away, and all things have become new ; mental pur- 
suits in general have assumed an augmented interest, and especially 
is philosophy improved in its influence, accelerated in its progress, 
and enlarged in its extent. As the gorgeous but unsatisfactory 
pictures of oriental mysticism gave place to the fervor and fluctua- 
tions of more intellectual destinies in Greece gleams of grandeur 
and wide tracks of gloom and as this in turn fell before the grad- 
ual rise, broad dominion, and fatal decline of mighty Rome, so 
the latter sank in darkness, but the night of its tomb was soon seen 

* O 

to rest on a horizon of immortal day, which eventually rose to the 
zenith with augmented splendor. The Hyrcinian forest teemed 
with nascent states, and islands which the empress of the seven 
hills had known only to despise, assumed an imposing attitude to 
produce a language and dictate laws over realms wider than Rome 
ever knew. 

Greek and Roman philosophy comprised the free efforts of reason 
to acquire a knowledge of first principles and the laws of nature. 


314 LEO X, 

without a clear consciousness of the method most conducive to 
such attainments. The philosophy of the middle ages endeavored 
to attain the same end, but under the influence of a principle supe- 
rior to itself, derived from revelation. In the course of transitional 
progress, it fell into a spirit exclusively dialectic, whence it emerged 
through fresh and independent exertions toward the discovery of 
fundamental principles. Thenceforth a combination of all human 
knowledge, in a more complete and systematic form, has tended 
with unfaltering success to explore, found, and define the principles 
of philosophy as a science. This, like every other element of 
cotemporaneous civilization, had its successive periods of origin, 
foundation, and development, stretching over a wide space, of which 
the twelfth century formed the middle line. Previous to that 
epoch, the various elements were disengaging themselves, and 
entering into a higher, as well as more practical amalgamation, 
which was destined rapidly to achieve the widest possible good. 

The early fathers of the Greek church went deeply into the cur- 
rent of oriental speculation, and they are worthy of special research, 
since so many golden grains of philosophy may be picked up in 
that sacred stream. It has already been shown, that by a range of 
imaginative reasoning, which soared far above the world of sense 
and outward experience, Plato sought a return to the supreme 
Godhead, infinitely exalted above all nature, deriving his chief 
proofs from immediate intuition and primeval revelation, or pro- 
found internal reminiscence. This fundamental tenet of the prior 
existence of the human soul was closely allied to the Indian doc- 
trine of the metempsychosis, and, regarded in a literal sense, must 
be equally rejected by true Christian philosophy. But if we are to 
consider this Platonic notion of reminiscence under a more spiritual 
view, as the resuscitation of the consciousness of the divine image 
implanted in our souls, or the soul's perception of that image, this 
theory would then coincide with evangelical doctrine, and we ought 
not to wonder that this Platonic mode of thinking became the first 
great philosophy of revelation which was fashioned and promul- 
gated in a mediaeval form. It was most adapted to captivate the 
profoundest Christian thinkers, and pour a sweet solace into their 
aspiring hearts; hence, the prevalency of this system in the 
schools, until the end of the twelfth, and the beginning of the thir- 


teenth century. Many leading minds even believed that they dis- 
covered in it the types of their own religious views. The symboli- 
cal fancies of TimaBus respecting physical phenomena, were taken 
up with spirit, and erroneous ideas respecting the laws of creation 
long prevailed, although the mathematicians of Alexandria had 
demonstrated their fallacies. Nevertheless, under various forms, the 
echo of Platonism was propagated from Augustin to Alcuin, far 
into the middle ages. 

The philosophy of Aristotle was based upon ample and substan- 
tial logic, and from the beginning was a wonderful organum, 
admirably adapted to the uses of scientific truth. His perspica- 
cious, piercing, and comprehensive intellect reduced all the histor- 
ical and philosophic principles of preceding ages and of his own 
time, to the exactest system, and for twenty centuries he remained 
the master-guide. Considered merely as an effort of unassisted 
reason, the ethics of Aristotle have an extraordinary interest ; but 
as a scientific introduction to divine revelation, and in all important 
moral questions, the Stagyrite is far from being so valuable a guide 
as Plato. It was an ominous gift to western Europe, when the 
works of Aristotle were brought from the East, translated into 
Arabic, and thence turned again into Latin almost as obscure. 
The Christian philosophers belonging to the first period of the mid- 
dle ages, such as Bernard and Abelard of France, Anselm, and 
Scotus Erigena, the cotemporary of Alfred of England, were incom- 
parably more luminous and forcible than the schoolmen of succeed- 
ing times, being much more free from idle logic and empty 
subtleties. Apparently, it would have been much better if the 
powerful emperors and potentates who patronized science had 
brought away with them, from the Latin empire at Constantinople, 
those philological treasures which there abounded, instead of fos- 
tering a universal and irresistible rage for the most metaphysical of 
authors, and whom it was quite impossible for them to comprehend. 
But the strange proceeding was overruled for the greatest benefit. 
The whole foundation of the scholastic philosophy was doubtless 
thoroughly false, and inflicted great injury, not only on theology, 
but on the whole range of medieval thought. But when the* evil 
became most formidable, a mighty service was rendered to man- 
kind, when acute and sagacious men like Thomas Aquinas, endowed 

316 LEO X. 

with exalted philosophical talents, adopted the old Aristotelian 
rationalism, and founded thereon a system in which they attempted 
to reconcile philosophy with faith, and thus avert from their age 
the dangerous consequences of false dialectics. This, however, was 
no true reconciliation, and the rationalism of the middle age after- 
ward broke into a violent collision with the divine doctrines to 
which it had been unnaturally allied. But before this extreme was 
arrived at, the resuscitation of a nobler rationalism began, and grad- 
ually obtained the mastery over leading minds, producing a radical 
change in the whole spirit of literature and science. Philosophy 
passed through a very important renovation, and its profoundest 
votaries began to set themselves wholly free from the authority of 
Aristotle in his own department, and proceeded to the unfettered 
investigation of the deepest and most solemn problems. Their 
main purpose, indeed, was, as one of them declared, to compare the 
tenets of former teachers with the original handwriting of God, the 
world and nature. 

The now almost forgotten contest between the Realists and 
Nominalists of the middle ages, exercised a decided influence upon 
the final establishment of the experimental sciences. These were 
the two philosophic schools which labored respectively to bridge the 
apparently impassable " gap between thought and actual existence, 
and the relations between the mind which discerns, and the objects 
which are discerned." According to Humboldt, u The Nominalists, 
who only admitted a subjective existence to belong to general ideas 
in the imagination of man, after many oscillations, ultimately in 
the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries became the victorious party. 
From that great aversion to mere abstractions, they first arrived at 
the necessity of experience, and of increasing the physical basis of 
knowledge. This direction of their ideas had, at any rate, a second- 
ary influence upon empirical natural science ; but even while the 
views of the Realists still prevailed, the acquaintance with the 
Arabian literature had diffused a love for Nature's works, in happy 
contrast with the study of theology, which otherwise absorbed 
every thing. Thus we see, that in the different periods of the 
Middle Ages, to which we have been perhaps accustomed to attrib- 
ute too great a unity of character, in very different courses, namely, 
in the ideal and the experimental way, the great work of distant 


discoveries, and the possibility of their being of avail in the exten- 
sion of the general ideas of the earth, were gradually advanced." 

The Arabians cultivated philosophy with characteristic ardor, 
and founded upon it the fame of many ingenious and erudite men. 
Al-Farabi, in Transoxiana, died in 950. It is affirmed that he spoke 
seventy languages, wrote upon all the sciences, and collected them 
into an encyclopaedia. Al-Gazeli of Thous, who submitted religion 
to the test of philosophy, died in 1111. Avicenna, from the vicin- 
ity of Chyraz, who died in 1037, was a profound philosopher, as 
well as a celebrated physician. Averrhoes of Cordova, was the 
most erudite commentator on the works of Aristotle, and died 
in 1198. The system of the great Macedonian metaphysician was 
well fitted to the mathematical genius of the Arabians, and they 
worshiped him as a sort of divinity. According to their belief, 
all philosophy was to be found in his writings, and they explained 
every problem according to his arbitrary rules. In the preceding 
chapter, we have seen with what success the Arabians cultivated all 
the sciences ; and let us here add that, while of all their studies, phi- 
losophy was the one in particular which penetrated most rapidly into 
the West, and had the greatest influence in the schools of Europe, it 
was the one, in fact, the progress of which was the least real. The 
ardent sons of Shem were more ingenious than profound, more ab- 
stract than practical, and attached themselves rather to the subtleties 
of fancy than to the substantial ideas of reason. They possessed many 
qualities which enabled them to dazzle, but few attributes of a 
character adapted to instruct. More enthusiastic than enterprising, 
they were willing to place themselves under the supreme dictation 
of another, rather than to feed their own minds at the original 
sources of knowledge. They gathered up much that 'had been 
produced by their superiors in the East, and brought it forward as 
the nourishment of still nobler races destined to succeed them ; 
but they produced little that was native to themselves, especially in 
the realm of philosophy, and now exert absolutely no influence on 
western mind. 

The human spirit was not less active and indomitable in the 
middle age than at earlier periods ; and although it was placed 
under the severest religious restrictions, it still sought to render to 
itself an account of its speculative belief. The more methodical 

318 LEO X. 

system of instruction which originated in the cloisters, and ascend- 
ed thence to the universities, gave rise to diversified sects, whose 
impassioned conflicts occasioned increased liberty of disquisition. 
For a long time the scholastic philosophy was exercised in a circle 
it did not itself trace, and which it dared not pass ; but meanwhile 
it was approaching emancipation, and grew finally into a bolder 
strength and traversed broader realms. Still it was not thought in 
that exact form and absolute freedom which should characterize 
philosophy, and the pedantic system therefore ended with the age it 
was created to serve. 

The scholasticism which was so marked a peculiarity of the age 
of Leo X., was the labor of intellect in the service of faith, and we 
know its starting point, its progress, and its end. It arose with the 
new society of that formative era, and arrived at perfect dominion 
after having been delivered from all the ruins of the ancient civili- 
zation, when the soil of Europe had become more firm and capable 
of receiving the foundations upon which a nobler and broader 
social compact might arise. Charlemagne, who with one hand ar- 
rested the Saracens in the South, and with the other resisted the 
barbarians of the North, became the type and leader of western 
civilization in the dawn of the third great period ; and, succeeded 
by Charles the Bald and Alfred the Great, carefully fanned the 
sparks of ancient culture, in order to rekindle the flame of progres- 
sive science. It was he who first opened the schools, and origin- 
ated scholasticism. As the Mysteries of olden times had been the 
primary source of Greek philosophy, so the convents of the eighth 
century were the cradle of the ethical systems we still possess and 
desire to improve. 

Scholasticism commenced in the absolute submission of philoso- 
phy to theology, advanced to the separation of these two spheres of 
mental exercise, and culminated in the entire independence of 
thought. The first epoch comprised, with the inspired Scriptures, 
the Christian fathers generally, and especially those of the Latin 
church, of whom Augustine was the chief. The little knowledge 
in this department that had escaped barbarism was then princi- 
pally contained in the meagre writings of Boethius, born in 470, 
and senator of Theodoric ; of Capella, born at Madaura, in Africa, 
about 4*74 ; of Mamert, at Vienna, who died in the year 477 ; of 


Cassiodorus, who flourished in the first half of the sixth century ; 
of the Venerable Bede, who opened the chief sources of British 
civilization at the end of the seventh century ; and of that other 
Anglo-Saxon, Alcuin, bom at York, 726, and whom Charlemagne 
placed on the heights of mediaeval culture, at the head of the re- 
generation of mind at large. John Scot, or Johannes Scotus Erigena, 
as he was called because an Irishman, lived long at the court of 
Charles the Bald, and afterward returned to England at the invi- 
tation of Alfred the Great, to teach at Oxford, where he died in 886, 
expressed the great text of his cotemporaries which they all labored 
to expound and exemplify : " There are not two studies, one of 
philosophy, and the other of religion ; true philosophy is true relig- 
ion, and true religion is true philosophy." 

Anselm, born in Piedmont in 1034, Prior of Bee in Normandy, 
and, at the time of his death, Archbishop of Canterbury, was the 
true metaphysician of this epoch. He was called the second Saint 
Augustine, and his writings achieved a remarkable progress. To 
him is accredited the argument, which draws from the idea alone 
of an absolute maximum of greatness, of beauty, and of goodness, 
the demonstration of the existence of its object, which can be only 
God. This was doubtless inspired by the genius of Christian ideal- 
ism, and was so effectively elaborated by Saint Anselm that it is 
supposed to have extended its influence even down to Leibnitz and 

Another beautiful classic spirit, who struggled and triumphed in 
the midst of mediaeval gloom was Abelard. Born near Nantes, in 
1079, and having acquired all the strength that could be furnished 
by provincial knowledge, he went to Paris, where from a pupil he 
soon became a rival of the most renowned masters, and thenceforth 
for a long time in dialectics ruled supreme. He attracted such 
multitudes of scholars from all parts of Europe, that, as himself 
said, the hotels were neither sufficient to contain them, nor the 
ground to nourish them. He moved the church and the state, 
eclipsed Roscellinus and Champeaux, having Arnold of Brescia 
among his friendly disciples, and a powerful adversary in the great 
Bernard. "We are told that this " Bossuet of the twelfth century" 
was handsome, was a poet, and musician. He wrote songs which 
amused the refined, gave lectures which absorbed the profound, and 

320 LEO X. 

both as canon and professor, was regarded with the most absolute 
devotion by that noble creature, Heloise, who loved like Theresa 
the saint. As a hero who was active to reform abuses and wise to 
enlighten barbarism, the chief of an advancing school, and the mar- 
tyr of exalted opinions, Abelard was indeed an extraordinary per- 

Nominalism and Realism found a new competitor on the philo- 
sophic stage when the advanced and victorious system of Concep- 
tualism was established by Abelard. Of this school, John of 
Salisbury was an enlightened and polished disciple. To him and 
his co-laborer in the same faith and age, Peter Lombard, succeeded 
the three great masters who represented the succeeding epoch. 
Albert the Great, born in Suabia, was by turns professor at Cologne 
and Paris. In 1260 he was bishop of Ratisbon, but soon withdrew 
from that post to devote himself exclusively to his philosophical 
pursuits at Cologne, where he died in 1280. Thomas Aquinas was 
of a rich and illustrious family, who wished to give him a good 
position in the world. But he declined all secular honors, and 
became a Dominican, that he might devote himself entirely to phi- 
losophy. He is said to have been an incomparable teacher, and 
was called the Angel of the School. His birth occurred near Na- 
ples, in 1225 ; he studied under Albert, both at Cologne and Paris, 
died in 1274, and was canonized in 1323. He was not so scien- 
tific as his master, nor so mystical as his compatriot, Bonaventura. 
He could not dream of modern equality ; but, as a Christian phi- 
losopher he recommended humanity toward the persecuted, and 
exemplified the high morality he taught. The English Duns Sco- 
tus, born at Dunston, in Northumberland, according to others at 
Duns, in Ireland, near 1275, possessed a mind of uncommon firm- 
ness and powerful action. Physics and mathematics were his 
forte, while more spiritual themes won the preference and exercised 
the skill of Albert and Thomas. Cotemporaries named the first the 
seraphic Doctor, and the second the angelic Doctor, but the third 
was characterized by another epithet more descriptive of his genius, 
namely, the subtile, Doctor subtilis. 

Roger Bacon, born in 1214, and whose great scientific capacities 
were alluded to in the preceding chapter, was a man who stood 
alone in the thirteenth century on account of his linguistic skill 


and attainments in philosophy. The poor persecuted Franciscan 
was three centuries in advance of his age, but, despite all diffi- 
culties, he did much to promote a movement of mental independ- 
ence which, soon after his death made itself rapidly manifest. The 
separation of philosophy from theology began to be perfected, and 
the destruction of scholasticism was thus secured. Roseelin, a 
canon of Compiegne, did not a little toward the attainment of this 
end, but much more was accomplished by an English pupil of 
Duns Scotus, at the commencement of the fourteenth century. He 
was named John Occam, born in the county of Surrey, and is often 
called simply Occam. He was a successful teacher at Paris, under 
Philip le Bel, at the epoch when the political powers strove to 
emancipate themselves from the ecclesiastical power. The monk 
sided with the sovereign, and wrote against the pretensions of pope 
Boniface VIII. Afterward he said to the emperor Louis of Bava- 
ria, " Defend me with the sword, and I will defend you with the 
pen," and in like manner resisted pope John XXII. A man so 
bold in politics could not have been timid in philosophy, and his 
persevering courage procured him the name of Doctor invincibilis. 
The spirit of independence was everywhere aroused under the aus- 
pices of Occam, so that the old schools were quickened, and new 
masters were produced. Walter Burleigh flourished about 1337, 
and wrote commentaries on Aristotle, Porphyry, etc., while pro- 
fessor at Paris and Oxford. He was author of the first history of 
philosophy written in the middle age. Marsile of Inghen, founder 
of the university of Heidelberg, died in 1394. Thomas of Stras- 
burg, author of a Commentary on The Master of Sentences, died in 
1357. Thomas of Bradwardin, Archbishop of Canterbury, was not 
only a mathematician of uncommon power, but a great proficient 
in the more literary departments of high philosophy. He died in 

In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, after the heated con- 
flicts between nominalism and realism, another species of philoso- 
phy, mysticism, separated itself from all other systems, acquired 
consciousness of itself, exposed its own theory, and by its own name 
was called. Near the close of his life, Petrarch abandoned literary 
pursuits, in order to devote himself to contemplative philosophy, 
was a mystic in belief, and died in 1374. Most of the remarkable 


322 LEO x. 

men of this epoch were disciples of the same transcendental faith. 
Such were John Tauler, the celebrated preacher at Cologne, and 
the still more illustrious author of the " Imitation of Jesus Christ." 
Whether that work belongs to Gerson, or to Thomas a Kempis, it 
may be regarded as the most perfect reflection of philosophy in 
those foreboding times, when the thoughtful, oppressed with doubt, 
aspired after relief through reliance on the mercy of God. Scholas- 
ticism ceased at the beginning of the fifteenth century, and was 
succeeded by mysticism, which continued till the opening of the 
seventeenth century, when modern philosophy, properly so called, 
began, and is now molding a grander philosophic age. The mys- 
tical polemics which brought all learning to a low ebb at the epoch 
of the decline of ancient literature, long lurked faintly among the 
cloisters, by the dim lamp of dreaming solitaries, to whom true 
science was an unfathomable ocean, of which they vainly strove to 
sound the depths, while their only object should have been to sail 
across it. But their dogmatical fixedness was overruled for good, 
since all the great elements of speculative thought were thus con- 
served, and progressive philosophy, nevertheless, like its type and 
hero, through night and tempest westward took its course. 

The interior of the cathedral at Florence, so imposing from its 
dim light and great extent, is full of that local interest which con- 
nects itself with a mausoleum of greatness and museum of art. 
Upon the north wall is a portrait of Dante, and behind the choir 
is an unfinished Pieta by Michael Angelo, whose fervid and impa- 
tient genius designed so much more than it could possibly execute. 
Under the crowning glory of the dome, that masterpiece and model 
of renaissant architecture, lie the remains of Giotto and Brunelleschi, 
in spots marked by commemorative busts ; and the same honor is paid 
to the remains of Facino, the great restorer of the Platonic philosophy. 
It was this erudite scholar who, at the revival of learning, procured 
the printing of Plato, performed the same service for the illustrious 
leaders of the later school, and illustrated his edition of the great 
master with many commentaries, in which he showed himself an 
equal adept in the mysteries of Plotinus and Porphyry, as in the 
sense of Plato. In order to give additional zest to the study of 
Platonism, Lorenzo and his friends formed the intention of renew- 
ing, with extraordinary pomp, the solemn annual feasts to the mem- 


ory of the great philosopher, which had been celebrated from the 
time of his. death to that of his disciples, Plotinus and Porphyrius, 
but had been discontinued for twelve hundred years. The day 
fixed on for this purpose was the 7th of November, the supposed 
anniversary of both the birth and death of Plato. Francesco Ban- 
dim, eminent for rank and learning, was fixed on by Lorenzo to 
preside over this'ceremony at Florence. On the same day another 
party met at Lorenzo's villa at Careggi, where he presided in per- 
son. The new academy of Platonists, in the fifteenth century, em- 
braced a large number of the most eminent men, the greatest part 
of whom were natives of Florence, a fact that may give us some 
idea of the surprising attention which was then paid to philosophy, 
as well as to art, science, and literary pursuits. In this respect, 
the birthplace of Leo X., and the great mental centre of his age 
stands unrivaled ; a species of praise as indisputable as it is well- 

We have seen that the capacious mind of Aristotle absorbed the 
whole existing philosophy of his age, and that it was reproduced, 
digested, and transmitted, in a form still preserved, and of which 
the spirit early penetrated into the inmost recesses of mediaeval 
mind. Translated in the fifth century into Syriac, and thence into 
Arabic, four hundred years later, his writings furnished the Mo- 
hammedan conquerors of the East with the germs of science which 
they bore so opportunely to the West, and thus extended the em- 
pire of an exacter philosophy from Bagdad to Cordova, from Egypt 
to Britain's occidental shore. 

Platonism took deep root in Germany, and was the favorite of 
the ablest philosophers ; and whether the mystic Reuchlin, or the 
mathematical Leibnitz, or the recondite Kant, elaborated their 
respective theories, they equally acknowledged the great Greek 
master to be the one model of their admiration. Sydenham, Spens, 
and Taylor, translated him in the bosom of the English race ; and 
among the British admirers of Plato, besides the cabalists Gale and 
More, and the eloquent pupil of the Alexandrian school, Cudworth, 
were many of the ablest philosophers and poets. Not to anticipate 
the new age, on the border of which shone the Platonic minds of 
Milton and Gray, we allude to Berkeley, whose enthusiastic esteem 
is well known, and to Bacon, who never speaks of the political or 

324 LEO x. 

moral works of Plato without marked respect. The mighty archi- 
tects of the age to come, best understood the worth of those found- 
ations on which they built, and with a noble sadness sometimes 
bemoaned the obscurity which progress necessarily throws upon 
the superseded past. 

In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, philosophy appeared to 
have but one home, Italy; but in the seventeenth century, all Eu- 
rope became the field of its culture, and the richest fruits were 
ripened by the setting sun. At earlier periods, inventive mind had 
scarcely any means of expression, save a single language, and that 
a dead one ; but in the seventeenth century the Latin became the 
exception, and philosophy began to use national tongues, which it 
enriched and reformed. At the moment a new world was opened 
to the sublimest advance, philosophy admitted to its service only 
living languages, full of the future, and which placed it in direct 
communication with the masses. Thus it accumulated its resources, 
concentrated its influence, and pressed forward in its majestic ca- 
reer, promising soon to become an independent, universal, and pop- 
ular power. 



FOR the right examination of the divine dealings in the ancient 
world, heaven has vouchsafed an unerring guide. The predictions 
of the inspired writers, and especially the prophecies of Daniel, 
furnish a key to all the remarkable events which authentic history 
records. The fact of fatal revolutions, and both the names and 
leading traits of their predestined agents, are declared with a bold- 
ness which ought to confound the skeptic whom it fails to convince. 

While Rome was already trembling under the power of decay, 
Judea witnessed the fulfillment of those great designs in aid of 
which that empire was permitted to gain universal mastery, and, in 
the words of one of her own Caesars, recorded by Tacitus, to 
arrive at such a satiety of glory as made her willing to give peace 
to the world. Thus, when Christianity was to be produced, all was 
made ready for her advent, and the appropriate field was cleared. 
Rome expiring amid her ruins, gave birth to the Catholic hierarchy 
as the last effort of her grandeur, the uses and abuses of which 
were not less subordinated to the progressive welfare of mankind. 
The history of religion is the pedestal of all history, and is the 
supreme manifestation of God's supervision of humanity. This 
light illumines all the rest, and most clearly shows that, because 
Providence takes no retrograde steps, human progress never recoils, 
nor lacks agents adapted to its beneficent advance. The great 
chain of heavenly purpose can not be broken, however violent the 
assaults of earth. Great revolutions may seem to be suddenly un- 
folded : but in fact they were conceived and nurtured in the womb 
of society long before they emerged to the light of day. A review 
of religion in the age of Leo X. will most strongly impress us with 
this truth ; and while we are obliged to abridge the statement of 

326 LEO x. 

pertinent facts, we will hope not to be superficial in the elucidation 
of their governing principles. A palimpsest manuscript perhaps has 
had its original hymn to Apollo expunged, to admit a mediaeval 
legend, but it was only that a supervening age might profit by the 
mutilated treasures so providentially preserved. 

Under the domination of ancient Rome an unnoticed grain of 
seed fell in the Rheingau, and resulted in all the vineyards which 
have since enriched that prolific land. At the dawn of modern 
society, Christianity, that eagle from the throne of God, flying with 
the sun, deposited among the rocks of the Rhine an egg which 
contained the germ of more spiritual fruitfulness. Many Christians 
died the death of martyrs in those western wilds, and their ashes 
thrown to the winds, became the seed-corn of a new world. In- 
numerable heroes arose who were actuated by a profound faith 
not of abstract reason, but of deep sentiment ; the secret and source 
of an inspiration not to be cast aside, but which filled the soul, ab- 
sorbed its faculties, and formed the chief aim of its existence. 
From the fifth century, Europe became a perpetually enlarged field 
for Christianity, but not its boundary. It was necessary that the 
divine power which underlies modern civilization, and which was 
given to transform the world, should go forth from the darkness 
and impediments of the middle ages, in order to develop itself, and 
produce the grander fruits it was destined to mature. That period 
has been characterized as the chrysalis of the new world. The 
first portion was marked by universal night and deadly sleep fol- 
lowed by a crystallized formalism of corporations in which soon 
appeared those grand beginnings of national regeneration which 
Christ came to occasion and complete. If the development of the 
divine purpose seemed to stop in the fourth century, when Christi- 
anity became the religion of the Roman empire, it was because 
that, at the time national existence became extinct in the East, the 
new Japhetic race of the West was to be trained to moral responsi- 
bility, and thus to national independence also, in religion. 

In every epoch of the world, religion is the foundation and form- 
ative principle of all ; it is this which generates the general faith, 
molds its manners, and fosters its institutions. The age we are now 
considering opened under auspices the most forbidding, and yet not 
unfavorable to the culture of exalted moral excellence. Destruction 


had invaded the world-wide empire of that city which arrogated to 
itself the epithet eternal ; and even those great ecclesiastical estab- 
lishments, the fruit of much martyr-blood, and of the devout 
labors of the primitive fathers, were swept away by the overwhelm- 
ing torrent. " But," Neander says, " while the pagans hopelessly 
mourned at the grave of earthly glory, and, filled with despair, 
beheld all the forms of ancient culture dashed in pieces by the 
hands of barbarians, devout Christians held fast to the anchor of 
believing hope, which raised them above all that was changeable, 
and gave them a firm stand-point in the midst of the destroying 
waters. They knew that, though heaven and earth might pass 
away, the words of the Lord could not pass away ; and these words 
were to them, even when surrounded by death, an inexhaustible 
source of life. The existing ecclesiastical forms, as far as they were 
connected with the constitution of the Roman empire, necessarily 
perished in the universal breaking-up of society ; but the essence 
of the church, as of Christianity, could not be touched by any de- 
structive power, and at this period of the world's decrepitude and 
exhaustion showed itself more evidently to be the unchangeable 
vital principle of a new creation. In this time of invading destruc- 
tion, a Christian father (probably Leo the Great, before he was 
a bishop) thus wrote : " Even the weapons by which the world 
is destroyed, subserve the operations of Christian grace. How 
many, who in the quiet of peace had delayed their baptism, were 
impelled to it by the fear of imminent danger ! How many slug- 
gish and lukewarm souls are roused by sudden and threatening 
alarm, on whom peaceful exhortation had produced no effect ! 
Many sons of the church who had been brought into captivity, 
make their masters subject to the gospel, and become teachers of 
the Christian faith to those to whom the chances of war have sub- 
jected them. Others of the barbarians, who had entered the ranks 
of the Roman auxiliaries, have learned in Christian countries what 
they could not learn in their native land, and returned to their 
homes instructed in Christianity. Thus nothing can prevent divine 
grace from fulfilling its designs, whatever they may be ; so that 
conflict leads to unity, wounds are changed into restoratives, and 
that which threatened danger to the church is destined to promote 
its increase." 

328 LEO x. 

The bishops of Jerusalem, Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople 
and Rome, at an early period took precedence over the others, and 
received the title of patriarchs, which the eastern metropolitans still 
retain. The name of pope, from the Greek pappas, father, was 
once common to all the bishops, and is still given to the Greek 
priests in Russia. The term was not monopolized by the bishop 
of Rome, till the time of Gregory VII., in 1073, when he claimed, 
as the successor of St. Peter, the primacy over all others, and was 
sustained in this by the provincial councils. At length, however, 
difficulties arose, which led pope Felix II. to excommunicate the 
patriarchs of Constantinople and Alexandria ; and thus the East- 
ern or Greek Church was separated from the Western or Roman, 
though both assumed to be universal. But it was the western 
church only that advanced in the career of improved civilization. 
The monastic system, under which monks and nuns secluded them- 
selves, was introduced by Anthony, in Egypt, and, in connection 
with papal celibacy, soon spread throughout Christendom. The use 
of images in worship, commenced in the sixth century, in the East ; 
and though condemned at Constantinople in 754, it afterward pre- 
vailed, both there and in all the West. Meanwhile the gospel had 
been preached, in France, about A. D., 290; in Ireland, about 470 ; 
and in England, by the monk Augustin, who died about 608. 

In the midst of the great and universal ruins of the old Roman 
empire, the church alone remained upright, and became the corner 
stone of the new edifice. Civilization passed under her direction 
to the other side of the Alps, where it established a new centre of 
unity and brotherhood, around which a vast circle soon extended 
itself, and embraced all Europe in the same range of improvement. 
A common faith united all the members of that society of the mid- 
dle ages, and from the day of its conversion, each nation dated its 
entrance upon the path of progress. From the fifth to the sixteenth 
century, the notions, sentiments, and manners of European society 
were essentially theological. Every great question that was started, 
whether philosophical, political, or historical, was considered in a re- 
ligious point of view. Notwithstanding all the evils, errors, and 
abuses which may have crept into the Roman church, it must be 
acknowledged that her influence upon popular progress and culture 
was beneficial ; that she assisted in the development of the general 


mind rather than its compression, in its extension, rather than its 

The uses of early Catholicism are well stated by Macaulay, as 
follows : " Whatever reproach may, at a later period, have 
been justly thrown on the indolence and luxury of religious orders, 
it was surely good that, in an age of ignorance and violence, there 
should be quiet cloisters and gardens, in which the arts of peace 
could be safely cultivated, in which gentle and contemplative na- 
tures could find an asylum, in which one brother could employ 
himself in transcribing the -^Eneid of Virgil, and another in med- 
itating the Analytics of Aristotle ; in which he who had a genius 
for art might illuminate a martyrology or carve a crucifix, and in 
which he who had a turn for natural philosophy might make ex- 
periments on the properties of plants and minerals. - Had not 
such retreats been scattered here and there among the huts of a 
miserable peasantry and the castles of a ferocious aristocracy. 
European society would have consisted merely of beasts of burden 
and of beasts of prey. The church has many times been com- 
pared by divines to that ark of which we read in the Book of 
Genesis ; but never was the resemblance more perfect than during 
that evil time when she alone rode, amid darkness and tempest, on 
the deluge beneath which all the great works of ancient power and 
wisdom lay entombed, bearing within her that feeble germ from 
which a second and more glorious civilization was to spring." 
Elsewhere the same eloquent writer suggests that, what the Olym- 
pian chariot race and the Pythian oracle were to all the Greek 
cities, from Trebizond to Marseilles, Rome and her bishops were to 
all Christians of the Latin communion, from Calabria to the 
Hebrides. This elicited sentiments of enlarged benevolence, and 
caused races separated from each other by seas and mountains, to 
acknowledge a fraternal tie, and a common code of public law. A 
regular communication was opened between the western islands and 
that part of Europe in which the traces of ancient power and policy 
were yet discernible. " Many noble monuments which have since 
been destroyed or defaced, still retained their pristine magnificence ; 
and travelers, to whom Livy and Sallust were unintelligible, might 
gain from the Roman aqueducts and temples some faint notion of 
Roman history. The dome of Agrippa still glittering with bronze ; 

330 LEO X. 

the mausoleum of Adrian, not yet deprived of its columns and 
statues ; the Flavian amphitheatre, not yet degraded into a quarry, 
told to the Mercian or Northumbrian pilgrims some part of the 
story of that great civilized world which had passed away. The 
islanders returned, with awe deeply impressed on their half-opened 
minds, and told the wondering inhabitants of the hovels of London 
and York that, near to the grave of Saint Peter, a mighty race, now 
extinct, had piled up buildings which would never be dissolved till 
the judgment day. Learning followed in the train of Christianity. 
The poetry and eloquence of the Augustan age were assiduousty 
studied in the Anglo-Saxon monasteries. The names of Bede, of 
Alcuin, and of John surnamed Erigena, were justly celebrated 
throughout Europe. Such was the state of this country when, in 
the ninth century, began the last great descent of the northern 

Prominent in the early scenes of that great act in the drama of 
human history which appropriately is characterized by the name 
of a pope, stood Gregory, the first of the name, who, from the year 
590 to*604, occupied the sacred seat. God, to whom all his works 
are known from eternity, raised up this instrument so well fitted to 
guide the church in the West, in the midst of numerous and fear- 
ful storms. Up to his fortieth year he had filled an important 
civil office ; and afterward in the calm consecration of monastic life 
he acquired the power and stability of extraordinary self-control. 
Depreciating literary critics have charged that Gregory expelled 
from Rome the mathematical studies ; that he burned the Palatine 
library, first collected by Augustus Caesar ; that himself despised 
classical learning, which he forbade others to pursue ; and that he 
destroyed many profane monuments of art, with which the city 
had been embellished. But the appellation of Great, by which he 
is commonly distinguished, attests the opinion which was entertained 
of his general character, and doubtless was in good part deserved. 

It chanced that certain Anglo-Saxons, being exposed for sale in 
the slave-market of Rome, attracted the attention of the mighty 
pope just named. He at once resolved that Christianity should be 
preached to the nation to which these beautiful captives belonged, 
and never perhaps was a resolution adopted whence more import- 
ant results ensued, Augustin, attended by forty Italian assistants, 


planted the doctrines of the Holy See among the Germanic Britons 
at Canterbury, and thence spread their influence through all the 
ranks of our pagan ancestors. It was not long before intelligent 
converts transplanted their sentiments to the continent, and filled 
the whole empire of the Franks with their creed. Boniface, the 
apostle of the Germans, was an Anglo-Saxon, whose great influence 
was exerted to perfect and extend civilization among the German 
tribes of the West. While other realms were sinking together into 
one common ruin, and the world seemed about to become the prey 
of the Moslem, the house of Pepin of Heristal, afterward called the 
Carlovingian, arose to blend regal with papal resistance, by which 
means the first effectual resistance was offered to the Mohammedan 

Christianity was scornfully trampled on by southern infidels and 
northern barbarians, but her invulnerable spirit was subdued by 
neither. Like her founders, she was seemingly conquered for a 
time, but in apparent defeat, death gave her positive victory. 
Bending her heavenly form to the tempest, she paused meekly till 
its utmost fury had passed, and then raised her captivating coun- 
tenance to woo the savage foes who held her captive. Awe-struck, 
they reverently removed her chains, adored at her 'shrine, and 
swore fidelity to her cause. Refined into enthusiasm, they turned 
their energies toward more useful channels, and the subsequent his- 
tory of chivalry and the crusades recorded its mighty results. 
Divine truth came not to avenge, but to console ; it did not prom- 
ise peace on earth, but retribution in heaven, and was not so 
ambitious to break the chains of the slave, as to share them with 
him. If the church could not destroy feudalism, she created chiv- 
alry ; to quench the thirst for battles, she invented processions and 
masses. To the victims of injustice, she opened the asylum of the 1 
sanctuary ; for blasted hopes and exposed honor, she proffered the 
silence of cloisters ; and against imperial ambition, she wielded the 
thunders of the Vatican. Through a long and gloomy period, 
popery and the monasteries doubtless preserved the social system 
from utter ruin ; and it is to be regretted that no sooner had the 
new system triumphed, than the seeds of corruption appeared. We 
dwell with most interest upon the period when the brilliant ardor 
of western valor breathed a new life into the contemplative and 

332 LEO x. 

ascetic virtues of eastern Christianity ; when the red cross shone on 
the breastplate of European warriors, and their lance was couched 
in a holy war. It was then that the militant church developed, if 
she did not perfect, that spirit which the soothing influence of 
religious love would substitute for the violated empire of the law, 
and for the laxity of social disorder the spirit of chivalry. Hence 
arose that noble school of loyalty and truth, of devotion and gal- 
lantry, of humanity and liberality, which was the right arm of 
Christianity in her sacred mission of peace and righteousness. 
Thus it was that, unable for a long period to disarm the ferocity of 
those warlike ages, religion directed it to a nobler end, and by 
inscrutable ways, transformed it into one of its most efficacious 

It was on the shores of Palestine that the different orders of 
knighthood were first established, in which military ardor was 
combined with religious enthusiasm, and graduated distinctions in 
the ranks of chivalry became the rewards of distinguished deeds. 
The power of these incentives was unparalleled in human history. 
They gave the first check to the brilliant success of Saracenic arms, 
and secured to an earl of Boulogne the crown of Jerusalem. Men 
of all tempers and most diversified dispositions imbibed motives for 
their ambition at a common source, which simultaneously fed the 
lion energy of Richard, the calmer fortitude of Edward, and the 
more enlightened mind of St. Louis. 

The same blending of secular and sacred zeal, which had ani- 
mated the crusaders to defend unprotected pilgrims in the East, 
incited them to promote improvement in the West, and educated 
them for the task. While absent, their ideas had been enlarged by 
an acquaintance with Roman jurisprudence, which still ruled in the 
eastern empire. They had witnessed with astonished admiration 
the excellence attained by several of the Italian states, through the 
agencies of commerce and manufactures ; and on their return, they 
were not only sensible of the imperfect administration of justice 
under the feudal rule, but also of the need of an improved product- 
ive system. The crusades were beneficial, because they occasioned 
a revolution in the intellectual state of Europe by introducing a 
preparatory change of feelings and habits which no other agency 
could produce. The great good they conferred was none the less 


valuable for being mediate and progressive. No radical change iii 
the condition of man, thus wrought, has ever transpired without 
resulting in the most salutary effects upon the character of all his 
intellectual operations. Doubtless, the crusades were not so much 
a cause of actual knowledge, introduced directly under their influ- 
ence, as of those aroused faculties and improved habits by which 
both the useful and elegant arts were greatly promoted. No single 
event, however startling, and no one age, however prolific of sug- 
gestions, could effectually have restored the mental energies of the 
West after so many centuries of brutal ignorance, but the success- 
ive crusades did all to this end, and as successfully, that could be 
achieved. The twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries teemed 
with the direct and multifarious results. 

As the noble grandeur of Olympus, the fertile plains of Thessaly, 
the gloomy recesses of the rock-crowned Pytho, and a thousand 
co-operative causes tended to swell the romantic harmony of legend- 
ary song in ancient Greece, giving a favorite deity to each particu- 
lar province ; while the great emigration to the coast of Asia 
Minor enhanced the copiousness of their religious rites, by engraft- 
ing on their legend much of the frenzied excitement of the Asiatic 
race, so Europe in the middle ages had its patron saints, and around 
the altar of supreme worship were concentrated the reminiscences 
of every preceding age and clime. According to Colonel Tod's 
statement of oriental customs, the martial Rajpoots are not strangers 
to armorial bearings, now so indiscriminately used in the West. 
The great banner of Mewar exhibits a golden sun on a crimson 
field, those of the chiefs bear a dagger. Amber displays the five- 
colored flag. The lion rampant on an argent field, is extinct with 
the state of Chanderi. In Europe, these customs were not intro- 
duced till the period of the crusades, and were copied from the 
Saracens, while the use of them among the remote eastern tribes 
can be traced to a period anterior to the war of Troy. Every royal 
house had its palladium, which was frequently borne to battle at 
the saddle-bow of the prince. 

From Pliny's letters to Trajan, and from other sources, we learn 
that ancient idolaters were in the habit of so consecrating spots and 
buildings destined for religious purposes, as forever to withdraw 
them from secular uses. Ere they began their accustomed rites, 

334 LEO x.- 

they sprinkled the place and the assistants with lustral water, which 
from the priest's hands was supposed to have conferred peculiar 
sanctity. The Romans burned frankincense, and other perfumes, 
in honor of their gods; and celebrated, at the entrance into the 
winter solstice, a festival to the goddess Strenna. The return of 
spring was celebrated with garlands, and the dance around a tall 
May-pole; and with kindred solemnities they entered into the 
summer solstice, with which they began the year. The Christians 
adopted similar consecrations with a like design. Hence the use 
of holy water, the practice of burning lamps and candles on altars 
and at tombs, together with incense burned in honor of the saints. 
Christmas, and the festival of x St. John, correspond with the pagan 
rites they displaced, while the presents common to one, and the 
bonfires which illuminate the other, are mementoes of their origin. 
The idolatrous priestesses, who were vowed to perpetual virginity, 
were reproduced in the mediaeval church, as soon as the Christian 
ranks were ample enough to spare certain members for that purpose, 
both male and female. In fact, the very tunic of the priest, the 
lituus of the augur, and cap of the flamin of pagan antiquity, were 
preserved in the dalmatic, the mitre, the staff, and the crosier of 
Christian bishops. Still more important similarities crept in, and 
a supposed virgin became the object of enthusiastic worship in the 
age of Leo X., as in the foregoing ages of Augustus and Pericles, 
Among the Asiatic Greeks, Diana was supreme ; with the European 
Greeks and Romans, Minerva was first ; and Catholicism at length 
found its highest love in Mary, the immaculate Mother of God. 
True, " Christianity had conquered Paganism, but Paganism had 
infected Christianity. * * * The rites of the Pantheon had 
passed into her worship, the subtilties of the Academy into her 
creed." This was evident from the symbols which were freely 
adopted from the Romans in the decoration of the new churches. 
The typical use of the cross was, of course, entirely original ; but 
the vine and palm-branch of Bacchus, the corn of Ceres, Venus's 
dove, Diana's stag, Juno's peacock, Jupiter's eagle, Cybele's lion, 
and Cupids changed into cherubs, were all copied from the pagans, 
and made emblematic of Christian doctrines. 

Such were the facts of the case, when the kingdom of Catholi- 
cism had come with power, and was seated on a throne, not accord- 


ing to this world, yet possessing a larger territory, and exercising a 
higher dominion, than had ever been given to sword or sceptre. 

How wonderful is Providence in perpetually eliciting light and 
progress from the East ! Charlemagne gave the popedom its 
supremacy beyond the Alps, A. D. 800 ; and before the close of that 
century, a small body of spiritual Christians, near the Euphrates, 
were persecuted for combining the adoption of the Scriptures as 
their sole guide with the most resolute refusal to bow down to 
images. The emperor Constantine, who sympathized with their 
views, caused them to pass into Europe. Those Paulicians were 
the original reformers, the remnant of Judah, who came forth by 
royal command, to rebuild the temple of the faith, and restore the 
walls of their desecrated Jerusalem. Under the various names of 
Bulgarians, Cathari, Waldenses, and Albigenses, those exiles were 
the first founders of Protestantism. The twelfth and thirteenth 
centuries were the zenith of Catholic supremacy, yet at that period 
Germany gave a fatal blow to the temporal power of the popedom. 
The emperor Henry IV., in the twelfth century, had begun the 
quarrel, on the right of investing bishops, the first effects of which 
were to drive Gregory VII. into exile, where this mighty pontiff 
died. From the close of the thirteenth century the papal sover- 
eignty over Europe sank rapidly, and was almost annihilated by 
the schism of Avignon. Subsequently, it regained a portion of 
former power, but the empire of Innocent and Boniface was ended 

The church educated disciples to see her faults, and supplied 
them with weapons as well as occasions for attack. There were 
reformers long before the " Reformation," like Arnold in Brescia, 
Waldo in France, John Huss at Constance, and Wickliff in En- 

Every manuscript transcribed from the classics, and every Bible 
set free from the moles and the bats ; every improvement in law, 
science, and art, together with each progressive invention, from the 
mariner's compass to the monk's gunpowder, was the forerunner 
and guaranty of even greater light and freedom than the reform 
of the sixteenth century saw realized. 

The alleged infallibility and unchangeableness of the Roman 
church is necessarily self-destructive ; since all systems, civil or ec- 

336 LEO x. 

clesiastical, which are incapable of advancing with the tide of gen- 
eral improvement, must be swept away by its progress. Tenets 
and customs framed for times of barbarous ignorance, could not 
withstand the test of improved civilization and knowledge. It is 
said that the shadow is nowhere so dark as immediately under the 
lamp ; and when the true light of Heaven is obscured, the vessel 
that bears it casts the darkest shade. When theology takes the 
place of piety, and dead creeds are substituted for living virtues, it 
should not occasion surprise if the symbols of religion are deified, 
and all other power is lost. The wisdom that is from above is not 
a formal confession, but a progressive principle imbued with vital 
truth ; and when the church forgot the life, the truth vanished 
from the symbol, leaving the defunct relics of unspiritual knowl- 
edge. But this was not always so. Through long centuries of 
darkness and toil, religious teachers filled a real office, a thing not 
of silks and drawing-rooms, but of the translation of the Scriptures, 
preaching the gospel, and appearing at the martyr's stake when 
requisite. Then a bishop was a real genuine pastor, who had a 
flock and fed it ; he was a leader of men, and lived up to the grow- 
ing wants of mankind. In due time, the perversion of this office 
wrought its own cure. By engendering grievances, it generated 
complaints, which occasioned inquiries ; and thus not only were 
certain unfounded claims discovered, but a radical change in the 
whole system was effected. It was felt that the ministers of the 
gospel, styling themselves the vicars of Christ, had too long been 
undoing his work. It was alleged that they withdrew his books, 
counterfeited his words, made their own opinion a law, enforcing it 
by fire and sword ; that they intruded themselves into the secrets 
of the heart, and laid conscience asleep. They monopolized the 
eternal clemency, and set a price for the ransom of the soul, even 
beyond the limits of repentance ; and reached the climax of per- 
verseness when they sat in the Vatican, the rivals of kings in 
wealth and power, if not in crime. 

It was at this crisis in medieval religion, that, early in the six- 
teenth century, the Augustin monk Luther visited Rome to 
strengthen his faith, where he found incredulity seated on the tomb 
of the apostle Peter, and paganism revived in the chief seat of relig- 
ious power. Julius II., with a helmet on his head, dreamed only 


of battles ; and the cardinals, ciceroneans in their language, were 
transformed into poets, diplomatists, and warriors. Leo X. suc- 
ceeded, and by becoming a prince still more in the style of other 
princes, he ceased to be the representative of the Christian repub- 
lic. But he soon heard from afar a clamor springing up beyond 
the Alps, and arising among barbarians. "A quarrel between 
monks," said Leo. Pericles despised the barbarians of Macedon, 
and perished. Augustus despised the barbarians of Scythia, and 
perished. Leo X. despised the barbarians of Germany, and while 
the young mind of that western world was in revolt, the glory of 
the popedom paled before the flames at Wittemberg, in which, 
amid shouting students, the propositions of Tetzel were burned. 

We believe that the reformation must have taken place, and 
nearly at the same time and place, though neither a Tetzel nor a 
Luther had ever lived. The great correlatives which finally re- 
sulted in that outbreak and forward movement, were very far from 
being accidents ; they were most providential and necessary phe- 
nomena in the course of the social development of civilized man- 
kind. Luther was the mere cock-crowing of a day, for the advent 
of which innumerable heroes before him had labored and longed. 
The emancipation and enlargement of that age had a more power- 
ful cause than either some casual incident, exasperated personal in- 
terests, or unmingled views of religious improvement. It was a 
new and vast struggle of the human mind to achieve its destiny ; 
a new-born purpose to think and judge for itself, freely and inde- 
pendently, of facts and opinions which, until then, were imposed 
npon Europe by the coercion of unquestioned authority. It was 
the great primary insurrection of the popular heart and will against 
absolute spiritual power, and was chiefly brought about by the 
church itself. What is most to be regretted is, that the work then 
done was so incomplete, and that the perfection of that reformation 
has been so long delayed. 

During all this brightening period, Florence remained the chief 
city whose beauty and power were coveted alike by Bourbons and the 
Medici. Leo X. loved her fondly ; and the revolt of his native city 
was more painful to Clement VII. than even the downfall of Rome. 
And how eagerly did Paul III. seek to obtain footing in Florence ! 
With a proud self-reliance young Duke Cosmo wrote : " The pope 


338 LEO x, 

who has succeeded in so many undertakings, has now no wish 
more eager than that of doing something in Florence as well ; he 
would fain estrange this city from the emperor, but this is a hope 
that he shall carry with him into his grave," Yes, truly, many 
such like dukes, emperors, and popes, buried their petty jealousies 
and ambitions in loathsome clay, but the great and glorious God 
overruled all their schemings, and rendered them instrumental in 
urging forward the tide of improvement more broadly and swiftly 
to its goal. If Columbus, in opposition to the counsel of Martin 
Alonzo Pinzon, had continued to sail in a westerly direction, he 
would have fallen into the warm Gulf Stream, which would proba- 
bly have borne him to Florida, and thence to Cape Hatteras and 
Virginia. That would have introduced a Catholic and Spanish 
population upon the soil of republican North America, instead of 
the English and Protestant colonists which were its more auspicious 
germs. The same infinite hand winnowed away the old European 
chaff through needful tempests, and wonderfully fitted the seed- 
wheat with which to sow this vast domain of untainted soil. 

We have before alluded to the mission of Augustin, when, having 
come thousands of miles over Alps and sea to debarbarize our de- 
graded ancestors, he landed on the eastern coast of England, and 
began a most successful career by baptizing Ethelbert, king of 
Kent, into the Christian faith. This was the first unarmed invasion 
of the British shore, yet a bannered host. A company of black- 
robed recluses from the ruins of the Ccelian hill, undertook the con- 
quest of the remotest western isles then known, and marched 
bravely to the task, bearing before them, as Venerable Bede records, 
the image of our Redeemer, and his saving cross. Those same 
Benedictine brethren, with their successors, were the authors of 
nearly every thing great and good which was afterwards produced 
from Canterbury to Killarney, and from lona's solitary retreat to 
the more magnificent shrines which glorified the rugged western 
coasts, and reflected with augmented charms the last beams of the 
setting sun. The literature, art, science, philosophy, and religion 
of England would now have but little to show, had it not been for 
the protracted and noble toil of the great religious orders, Francis- 
cans and Dominicans, but especially those greatest of benefactors, 
the learned and industrious disciples of the earlier Benedict. 


Tread through the ruined cloisters of Furness, or Fountains, or 
Tintern, and think not that when devotees retired from the strife, 
the passion, the whirl of the Maelstrom of life, the sounds of am- 
bition and trade never penetrated hither. Alas, within these sacred 
inclosures passion and pomp reigned violently as in the nearest 
neighborhood to the throne, what day one brother rose to the cel- 
lararius, or a more talented aspirant was exalted to the abbacy. 
Memory coined her chronicles, and fancy wove her dreams then as 
now. The bustle of preparation preceded the expected knight, or 
baron, or prince who honored the monastery with his presence, and 
when the Lord Abbot returned from visiting the national parliament. 
Neither monotony nor dullness prevailed while the monks literally, 
as well as in a mental and religious sense, transformed the wilder- 
ness and noxious fens of England into a healthful and productive 
garden. % 

Thus redeemed and cultivated, of all portions of the eastern 
hemisphere England is the country of constitutional rights and 
religious freedom. It would seem as if that insulated corner of the 
world had been created and placed there as a nursery on purpose 
to receive from the mainland plants the most select to be eventually 
transferred to a yet more propitious soil. To this end conduced all 
the movements of the different nations which successively occupied 
that hardy territory. The conquest of the Normans, and the state 
of the country at the period of this conquest, about the middle of 
the eleventh century, together with the great events which suc- 
ceeded it, conspired with an efficacy constantly increased to mature 
the colonists who were commissioned to plant in a new world the 
elements of liberty which had fortified and rocked their own cradle 
in the most vigorous clime. As in literature, art, science, and 
philosophy, so especially in religion does the great principle of 
independency run back most remotely with the English race. The 
best things that existed on the continent at the culmination of 
mediaeval excellence were carried across the channel bodily by the 
Normans, and first among these was the disposition and power 
to resist papal domination. Guizot states that the pope had given 
his approval to William's enterprise, and had excommunicated 
Harold. Nevertheless, William boldly repulsed the pretensions of 
Gregory VII., and forbade his subjects to recognize any one as pope 

340 LEO X . 

until he had done so himself. The canons of every council were to 
be submitted to him for his sanction or rejection. No bull or letter 
of the pope might be published without the permission of the king. 
He protected his ministers and barons against excommunication. 
He subjected the clergy to feudal military service. And finally, 
during his reign, the ecclesiastical and civil courts, which had 
previously been commingled in the county courts, were separated. 
Thus, while in Italy and France the Roman populations possessed 
no institutions at all, in England Saxon institutions were never 
stifled by Norman institutions, but, associated with them, enlarged 
their scope, and liberated their action. All over the continent bar- 
barism, feudalism, and absolute power held successful sway, derived 
either from Roman or ecclesiastical ideas ; but in England, absolute 
power was never able to obtain a footing ; oppression, temporal and 
spiritual, was frequently practiced in fact, but it was never estab- 
lished by law. 

As the early Benedictines laid at the foot of the cross all the 
noble and graceful gifts which had been bestowed on them, not 
seeking popular applause, so the greatest of their successors, by the 
same Providence, were made subservient to the work of progress in 
general, and of religious improvement in particular. The lamp of 
divine truth was not suffered to be extinguished even in the darkest 
times. From the earliest, and through the deepest corruptions of 
Christianity, God has never left himself without a succession of wit- 
nesses. For example, Vigilantius, in the sixth century, vehemently 
remonstrated against relics, the invocation of saints, lighted candles 
in chutches, celibacy, pilgrimages, prayers for the dead, and all 
the doubtful innovations which had crept into the church. Claudius, 
of Turin, called the first Protestant reformer, in the ninth century 
bore a noble testimony to the truth. Arnold of Brescia, Henry of 
Lausanne, and Peter of Brughes, successfully raised their voices 
against growing corruptions, and pleaded for reform. But freest, 
mightiest, and most salutary was the voice of England on this 
behalf. Thomas Bradwardine, Archbishop of Canterbury, and 
Greathead, the learned and fearless Bishop of Lincoln, and the 
noble Fitzrulf, Archbishop of Armagh, in the thirteenth century, 
caused their powerful lights to shine from the earliest and most ex- 
alted points. Still these were but the lesser lights, the casual out- 


breakings of pent-up fires, precursors of the approaching morning 
and brilliant day. 

But it was in that same western sky that the auspicious star 
arose, and Wickliff appeared. Thenceforth men became yet more 
guilty of thinking out of the beaten track, of questioning the arro- 
gant claims of the priesthood, and of not only publishing to the 
world the living oracles of God, but also of teaching the people 
their right and duty to read them. The Scriptures were for the 
first tune translated into English by the pastor at Lutterworth, and 
by his agency, mainly, was a foundation laid for the reform of 
Christendom. No sooner was this chief luminary violently eclipsed 
in England, than it began to shine with redoubled splendor on the 
continent, and the darkness which had so long gathered over the 
religious world was scattered. Queen Ann, the wife of Richard IL, 
a native of Bohemia, having embraced the doctrines of Wickliff, 
caused the books of the reformer to be circulated in her paternal 
land. Huss and Jerome of Prague, by this means caught the fire 
of the English reformer, raised the banner of religious progress, 
and ceased not, till their lamp was extinguished in the blood of 
martyrdom, to devote their great learning and influence in defense 
of obscured truth. From the ashes of these sacrifices rose a light 
which shone throughout all Germany ; and, like the flames which 
kindled on Latimer and Ridley, at that great source of the Lutheran 
reformation, Oxford, lighted a candle which, under the blessing of 
God, could never go out. A spirit of inquiry was roused not only 
in schools and universities, but among the nobility, and in the 
minds of the common people, not to be repressed. The foretoken- 
ings of rising day which resounded in Alpine glens, and along 
the valleys of Piedmont and Languedoc, long before broke from 
Lollard dungeons, and were echoed by the Huguenots. The same 
gracious God who, through the darkest centuries, kept alive the 
fire of true religion in the East, by means of the Nestorians, and in 
due time kindled it afresh in the hearts of the Waldenses of the 
West, from age to age, and from place to place, fitted a thousand 
minds for the accomplishment of his purposes. Councils, emperors, 
kings, philosophers, poets, the church herself, all in their turn con- 
tributed their influence, and hastened the result. It was written in 
the decrees of Heaven that the Bible should be the weapon by 

342 LEO x. 

which the principalities and powers of sin should be overcome, the 
strongholds of the adversary demolished, and from their high 
places in the sanctuary the unclean birds should be dislodged. 
But the regenerator of the living temple, destined to rebuild the 
sacred altar, and restore its fine gold, must first be set free from 
the blinding bondage of dead languages. Therefore arose the tow- 
ering genius of Reuchlin, the teacher of the great Melancthon, and 
the masterly mind of Erasmus, the one to give Europe a translation 
of the Old Testament, and the other of the New ; while both, with 
worthy compeers and successors, employed their profound and 
varied talents in defense of invincible truth. All the springs of 
intellectual action which were so palpably at work in the sixteenth 
century, are clearly traceable to the thirteenth, when the energies 
of the great West were elicited, and independent thought was first 
born. The German reformation was a necessary consequence of 
what preceded. Internal fires had long been burning, and the 
heaving earth must soon give them vent. Infinite wisdom saw 
that the grand eruption had better transpire in central Europe, and 
it is evident that the time had come for it to take place somewhere. 
Had not Luther led, it must ere long have been conducted by some 
other hand. 

And here we should especially observe that Leo X., though in 
the management of general affairs a man of consummate skill, 
prompt, adroit, and energetic ; yet, in reference to the storm arising 
beyond the Alps, seemed bereft of his accustomed policy, while they 
were endued with uncommon sagacity who were undermining his 
throne, and plucking from his crown its richest gems. The cardin- 
als, his advisory council, appeared, in the language of Scripture, 
to have lost their hands, and were strangely blind ; but Leo him- 
self was most like the son of Balak, whose common sight was 
.darkened, as much as the eyes of his mind were open, who, when 
he stood upon the commanding height, foresaw the advent of the 
Messiah, and foreknew the countless hosts of the spiritual Israel, 
yet pushed against the armed angel of the Lord more stupidly than 
the ass he bestrode. 

When the reformation of the sixteenth century broke out, Ca- 
tholicism, like Tithonus of the fable, had reached the last stage of 
decrepitude, without being permitted to die. The work of resusci- 


tation was greatly needed, and might have been much more thor- 
oughly done. Religion, while she exults in every recent auxiliary 
to her cause, and is especially grateful for each searching trial that 
may have purged her holy flame, can not with ingratitude forget 
the papal domination which kept it burning through long centuries 
of obscurest gloom. The agency of Luther was a notable episode 
in progressive history, but nothing about it was either isolated or 
accidental. The aim of divine interference is clearly discernible 
through it all, and the means employed were as strongly marked, 
as they were manifestly fitted for the parts they performed. A 
regular system of conserving causes prepared for the crisis, by 
which, and in the results thus accruing, the sovereign design was 
sublimely exposed. As soon as the desired end had been accom- 
plished, the whole system began to dissolve, and a new cycle suc- 
ceeded, which was also in turn to have its end. 

It was neither Romanism, nor Germanism, that was destined to 
mold the sacred institutions of a new world, not even the more re- 
publican Frenchism elaborated by the frigid dialectician at Geneva ; 
but the gospel of Jesus, with all its blessed freedom, completely 
disenthralled from priestly dictation and arbitrary creeds. English 
independency was the true spark struck from the Eternal Rock ; 
and when, like the postdiluvian altar of Noah, it burned on the 
heights of America's eastern coast, it was manifestly the will of 
Providence that with augmented might it should sweep westward 
to enlighten and redeem the world. 





" Antiquity deserveth that reverence that men should make a stand there- 
upon, and discover what is the best way ; but when the discoverv is well 
taken, then to make progression." LORD BACON. 

"The faith in the perpetual progression of human nature toward perfec- 
tion will, in some shape, always be the creed of virtue." SAMUEL TATLOB 

"The Lutheran clergy have exhibited this spirit of priestcraft under their 
consistorial polity, and the Calvinist under their presbyterian form of gov- 
ernment, as much as the Oriental, Roman, and Anglican bishops ; it was 
manifested as much at Wittemberg, Geneva, and Dort, as at Jerusalem, 

" Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the 
Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the full- 
ness of Christ." EPHESIANS iv. 13. 





THE glory of the vegetable world is realized in the aloe, as from 
the single stately blossom which a century has matured it diffuses 
the balm and beauty of consummate life. And such seems to be 
the destiny of nations, to pour forth the accumulation of their rul- 
ing qualities, and then disappear. Greece blossomed, and Pericles 
was her central flower, proud, elegant, and voluptuous, " the Corin- 
thian capital of society." Rome towered in a trunk of glory^and 
Augustus was revealed, grand and ambitious, bearing the imperial 
nest on high. Mediaeval Europe blossomed around the garden of 
the Medici, and Leo X. would have been lost in the multitude of 
concomitant glories, literary, artistic, and chivalrous, had he not 
been supreme by virtue of both nature and office, even while the 
twin-flowers adorned opposite borders of the mighty field, Godfrey 
the captor of Rome and king of Jerusalem, and Richard of the 
lion-heart, smiting for England with the hammer hand. The old 
world having exhibited the preliminary exponents of an un- 
bounded design, America produced a specimen bearing a superi- 
ority of majesty and duration of bloom commensurate with the 
protracted period of its growth, and the more glorious intention 
of its use. 

Every successive epoch of civilization, with the correlative ideas 
on which it was founded, and from which it derived its peculiar 
aspect, after maintaining its ground with graduated lustre and 


utility, has arrived at its inevitable period of decline and dissolution. 
But in ceasing, apparently, to grow and to imbue society with its 
beneficial influence, in exchanging an erect attitude for a prostrate 
one, no vital principle has undergone an entire extinction, so as act- 
ually to disappear, and leave no trace of its reproductive benefits. 
A portion of its vitality forever survives in the monuments which 
attest the reign of the power to which they owe their existence ; 
and these are not only sufficient to prolong and sanctify its mem- 
ory, but are in turn themselves the sources of yet ampler and no- 
bler influence. For example, the Teutonic spirit, so long disciplined 
in Arctic regions, at the fall of the Roman empire was infused into 
degenerate races, and for eight centuries continued to press toward 
lower latitudes, everywhere disseminating hardy habits, pure ethics, 
and the deep sentiments of freedom. Italy received the Lombards ; 
Spain, the Goths ; Gaul, the Franks ; while Britain in due time 
fell to the vigorous Saxons, and Norman superiority finally added 
the accumulated wealth of all. Diagonal forces are the strongest, 
and while human progress has from the first moved .westward only, 
the great redeeming and ennobling power has always descended 
from the North. The skill that tames the war-horse, the courage 
that rules the wave, and the energy, honor, and perseverance best 
adapted to beautify a barbarous continent, germinated on the field 
of Hastings, and were transplanted hither at the moment of most 
auspicious growth. 

From Pericles to Augustus, there was a rapid transition through 
Alexander, armed tyranny. From Augustus to Leo X. a protract- 
ed depreciation extended from the Apostles through monks and 
crusaders, armed superstition. From Leo to Washington trans- 
pired the great preliminary age of scientific discovery through the 
agency of Galileo, Columbus, and Guttenberg, heaven's luminary, 
ocean's guide, and earth's fulcrum of all power, the press, armed 
invention. From Washington onward, literature, art, science, phi- 
losophy, and religion, perfectly revived and divinely harmonized, 
will constitute armed freedom. The close of the medieval period 
left universal intellect in revolt. The western rim of the old world 
was all on fire, and through the flooding light let us now scan the 
new realms beyond. 

When the fourteenth century expired, there was no healthful 


political organization extant, but in the fifteenth all Europe entered 
upon a grand system of centralization, as if expecting one general 
commonwealth. The sixteenth century was one of direct prepara- 
tion ; and the seventeenth, above all other epochs, was characterized 
by the establishment and extension of colonial empire. Prepara- 
tory to this, the choicest elements were driven into England by 
persecution, with the shuttle and the loom, the graver and the 
press. Drakes and Raleighs scattered armadas, and for the first 
time in human history, the great mass of the common people stood 
revealed. Settlements were made about the year 1606 by the 
French in Nova Scotia, and in 1608 in Canada. Cape Breton, and 
Placentia in Newfoundland, afterward attracted their attention, 
and a disastrous effort was made to gain a foothold in Florida. 
But voluntary emigration from France never existed, nor is it the 
fitting character to be perpetuated unmixed. Ambitious of wield- 
ing the sword, and not the spade, that martial people allied them- 
selves with savages, and endeavored to seize on the whole vast 
territory north and west of the Ohio and Mississippi. Providence 
however, had in reserve a better element, destined to combine the 
whole continent in one great republic, while France has at present 
no prosperous colony in the eastern hemisphere, and scarcely a foot 
of ground upon the coveted western world. 

It was on the eastern coast, and in English colonies alone, that 
the great foundations of the seventeenth century were laid. In 
1607, the Cavalier element was planted at Jamestown, Virginia; 
and in 1620, the Roundheads landed at Plymouth, Massachusetts. 
But these are antagonists by nature. A little descendant of the 
one genus can not meet .an equally diminutive specimen of the 
other without the imminent and instantaneous peril of a very small 
fight. But there is vis inertia enough in a Dutchman to regulate 
any thing; and therefore, in 1624, the island of Manhattan was 
bought of the Indians for twenty-four dollars. At that time, Hol- 
land was the greatest of maritime nations, and so God chose them 
appropriately to plant the city which is already the commercial 
metropolis of our continent, and which eventually may rank su- 
preme on the globe. Other colonies followed, till the sifted wheat 
of the old world was sown all along the nearest coast of the new. 
Three years after the Puritans landed in Massachusetts, other Pil- 


grim Fathers settled in New Hampshire, and Swedes united with 
Finlanders in procuring a tract of land near the falls of the Dela- 
ware. In 1633 the old feudal elements were colonized in Mary- 
land, under the auspices of Lord Baltimore ; and in 1635 Roger 
Williams moved from Massachusetts to found Rhode Island, un- 
furled the banner of civil and religious liberty in his city of 
Providence, and left "What-Cheer Rock" as the first goel of 
westward progress in America. At the revocation of the -edict of 
Nantes, the best element of French society was persecuted in the 
Huguenots, and these fled to the wilds yet remoter from the original 
colonies. North Carolina was settled in 1628, and South Carolina 
in 1669. New Jersey, in 1664, opened an asylum to the Germans 
whom the sword of Louis XIV. drove from the Palatinate ; and in 
1682 the persecuted Quakers, embodying the peaceful element of 
English history, came to possess themselves and the fruits of their 
quiet industry beneath the oaks of Pennsylvania. If we glance 
beyond this great century of colonization, we see Georgia planted 
by General Oglethrope in 1733, which fact, in common with all the 
preceding, reminds us of the wonderful care manifested by the God 
of nations in selecting the primary germs of a new civilization, and 
in giving them their relative positions on the border of a predes- 
tined and immense domain. The birth of many pioneer Washing- 
tons necessitated the services of one transcendent hero clearly 
authenticated as the chosen lieutenant of the Almighty. . Liberty's 
great battle was fought and won. Soon the area of freedom 
became too narrow, and the danger of internal strife too great. 
The third President of the United States buys Louisiana. Why 
then ? Because, on the Hudson, the steamboat is at the same time 
put afloat. The rightful possession of those great western waters 
gives us more available inland navigation than can elsewhere be 
found on the entire globe. The grand instrument of progress, 
therefore, like all other needful agencies, appears in the fitting time 
and place. The middle of the nineteenth century arrives, and great 
danger again threatens ; when lo ! far in the West rings out the cry, 
"Gold! gold!" Why then, and there? Because Americans, in 
general, and New Englanders, in particular, will go to the mouth 
of the cannon, or dare yet more fearful terrors, at any time for a 
dollar, and free States are speedily planted on the Pacific. It is no 


longer pertinent for a little Northerner or a little Southerner to talk 
about dividing this Union ; great Westerners spring to their feet in 
predominating millions, crying, " No, you shall not divide !" Sim- 
ultaneously with the discovery of California, the keel of the first 
successful steamship was laid in New York, not to run to Havre or 
Liverpool, but to New Orleans the first link in a stupendous chain 
of commerce, destined soon to carry and bring the choicest treas- 
ures of earth. The trade winds of God blow westward. The 
west end of nearly every great city in Europe and America is the 
growing end. Soon a guide-board, standing east of "Pilgrim 
Rock," will point over a great inland thoroughfare, saying, " To the 
Pacific direct ;" and west of San Francisco, its counterpart will read, 
" To the Atlantic direct," while on each hand countless myriads 
will ennoble their toil with intelligence, and build the sublimest 
monuments of power with faculties the most free. As the rude 
archaic sculptures of Silenus were gradually refined into the per- 
fected glories of the Parthenon, so all the vitalities successively 
developed and superseded through sixty centuries will become 
resuscitated and harmonized on this American continent. 

From this general view let us descend to particular details, that 
we may enumerate sufficient facts to justify the conclusion just 
stated. The federal union of twelve cities in Etruria into one state, 
none of which possessed an absolute superiority over the other, and 
whose affairs were regulated by deputies from each city, and not by 
a king or any hereditary officer, constituted the most interesting 
institution of antiquity. Derived from Asia, and exclusively Pelas- 
gic, it was the first form of republicanism that appeared in the his- 
tory of the world, the masterly element which, infused into the 
constitution of the states of Greece, and afterward of Rome, gave 
rise to that political freedom which was the parent of all their 
greatness, and which has ever since grown increasingly favorable to 
the development of peaceful arts and social amelioration. Fortified 
and refined by the discipline of sixty centuries, the diversified 
elements of consummate power and progress were auspiciously 
blended in the thirteen original colonies of the United States. 
Every event down to the seventeenth century, especially in En- 
gland, had contributed to render the fathers of our republic most 
happily adapted to their predestined work. During the seven cen- 


tunes which preceded this great era, our wretched and degraded 
ancestors became the most highly civilized people the world had 
ever seen. Macaulay says, " They have spread their dominion over 
every quarter of the globe have scattered the seeds of mighty 
empires and republics over vast continents of which no dim intima- 
tion had ever reached Ptolemy or Strabo have created a maritime 
power which would annihilate, in a quarter of an hour, the navies 
of Tyre, Athens, Carthage, Venice, and Genoa together have car- 
ried the science of healing, the means of locomotion and corre- 
spondence, every mechanical art, every manufacture, every thing that 
promotes the convenience of life, to a perfection which our ances- 
tors would have thought magical have produced a literature 
abounding with works not inferior to the noblest which Greece has 
bequeathed to us have discovered the laws which regulate the 
motions of the heavenly bodies have speculated with exquisite 
subtlety on the operations of the human mind have been the 
acknowledged leaders of the human race in the career of political 
improvement. The history of England is the history of this great 
change in the moral, intellectual, and physical state of the inhabit- 
ants of our own island. There is much amusing and instructive 
episodical matter ; but this is the main action. To us, we will 
own, nothing is so interesting and delightful as to contemplate the 
steps by which the England of the Domesday Book the England 
of the Curfew and the Forest Laws the England of crusaders, 
monks, schoolmen, astrologers, serfs, outlaws became the England 
which we know and love the classic ground of liberty and philos- 
ophy, the school of all knowledge, the mart of all trade. The 
charter of Henry Beauclerc the (Jreat Charter the first assem- 
bling of the House of Commons the extinction of personal slavery 
the separation from the See of Rome the Petition of Right 
the Habeas Corpus Act the Revolution the establishment of the 
liberty of unlicensed printing the abolition of religious disabilities 
the reform of the representative system all these seem to us to 
be the successive stages of one great revolution ; nor can we com- 
prehend any one of these memorable events unless we look at it in 
connection with those which preceded, and with those which fol- 
lowed it. Each of those great and ever-memorable struggles 
Saxon against Norman Vilaiu against Lord Protestant against 


Papist Roundhead against Cavalier Dissenter against Church- 
man Manchester against Old Sarum, was, in its own order and 
season, a struggle on the result of which were staked the dearest 
interests of the human race ; and every man who in the contest 
which, in his time, divided our country, distinguished himself on 
the right side, is entitled to our gratitude and respect." 

After the above summary, we need not stop to portray the steady 
progress made in the parent land toward efficient colonization 
through the agency of such men as Clarendon, Capel, and Falkland, 
Hampden and Hollis, Ireton, Lambert, and Cromwell, Ludlow, Har- 
rington, and Milton. As soon as the English Commonwealth 
became the central point of European civilization, the focus where 
all the noblest powers of humanity concentrated themselves in a 
prodigious activity, the third continent began to be the luminous 
side of our planet, the full-grown flower of the terrestrial globe. 
Thenceforth North America became to all nations the land of the 
future. The fertility of its soil, and the favorableness of its position, 
the grandeur of its forms and the extent of its spaces, seem to have 
prepared it to become the abode of the vastest and most powerful 
association of men that ever existed. If the order of nature is a 
foreshadowing of that which is to be, certainly the physical aspects 
of this western world, as well as the historical facts which connect 
it with the East, are sublime intimations of the will of Providence. 
The germinal institutions so evolved and localized were new, like 
the soil whereon they were planted. The selectest specimens of 
whole peoples, clustered in homogeneous groups, took root and in- 
creased with a rapidity which soon enabled their adopted America 
to take her position face to face with Europe, not as a dependent 
minor, but as a full-aged daughter, independent and an equal, a 
fought-for and acknowledged right. The centre of the civilized 
world had again been removed to a remoter point in the West, and 
all the mental splendor of the East was brought over to illuminate 
the immense realms then first redeemed from barbarism both north 
and south. 

From the rude early dialects of India arose the majestic Sanscrit, 
the copious and redundant mother of all oriental tongues. The 
Greek was the purest current from that remote source, and was 
simplified in its westward flow ; and the Latin is a still more re- 


cently simplified dialect of the Greek. The vernaculars of all mod- 
ern nations are directly connected with the last mentioned sources, 
and have still further simplified the original principles. Of linguistic 
progress the English is a striking example, and may be placed at 
the head of all the languages of the world, as the most simple. It 
is the most recently perfected, and at the moment when its vigor 
was the greatest, and its wealth the most copious, the highest men- 
tal abilities coalesced with the noblest political principles and emi- 
grated to America. Our colonial literature began at a period of 
the highest illumination, and was not unworthy of its foster-fathers 
Shakspeare and Spenser, Coke and Hooker, Hampden and Sydney, 
Bacon and Milton. In culminating excellence, Anglo-Saxon litera- 
ture was transferred to this land in a body, at once ; and never 
was a conception of greater magnitude or evolving more fertilizing 
effects, started in the vast arena of human progress. That era 
gave to history a soul and significance, by connecting it with the 
supreme Deity who anew gathered the divine breath that had swept 
over the ruins of empires, and with tornado energy dashed down 
the barriers in the way of man. The colonial period was signal- 
ized by a series of pitched battles between the progressive spirit of 
the seventeenth century and the old feudal ideas, which all the 
deadly blows of the preceding age had not sufficed to eradicate, 
and which then threatened to resume their former sway and pre- 
dominance. Then came the revolution of seventy-six, a yet more 
potent preliminary to the great struggle destined to throw off the 
mountains of oppression which still crush the hearts of nations. 
The morning of this new day was radiant with a numerous galaxy 
of magnificent intellects. The ages of Pericles, Augustus, and 
Leo X. were consummated in the epoch of Cromwell, and all 
was but the vestibule direct to the grander age of Washington. 
Simultaneous with the advent of the latter, mighty leaders arose 
who were the personifications and ready agents of whatever ap- 
peared necessary to be thought, said, or done. Many of these 
perished in the struggle, but not their work ; from necessitated ruin 
sprang superior grandeurs, and the general progress paused not 
needlessly to bemoan its heroes in their individual graves. When 
the time arrived for old limbs to descend, that new sap might more 
freely rise and circulate to renew national life and rejuvenate ideas, 


many colonists in the wilds of America, like Tell amid the glaciers 
of Switzerland were ready to exclaim, Perish my name, if need be, 
but let Freedom live ! Nor did they doubt the final issue, but de- 
voutly believed that great revolutions, however involved their 
apparent orbits, like the stars, march in fixed cycles which perpetu- 
ally tend to the perfection of the common weal. As great and 
good thoughts, the best gold of earth, are least destroyed when 
most dispersed, so colonial literature aimed perpetually to equalize 
all good and hinder none. Public spirit then was an exalted moral 
virtue, the direct reverse of selfishness, its end being the noblest to 
which our faculties are capable of aspiring, the welfare of the whole 
human race. No people ever possessed this in richer abundance 
than the first writers among our colonists, and the fruits thereof 
were increasingly conspicuous during their efforts to lay the found- 
ations of that vast temple of liberty they came to rear. Each little 
community of patriots were almost equally expert with the axe, the 
sword, and the pen, possessing a brave fortitude which could emu- 
late the magnanimity of the Roman senate, who, though stunned 
by an unexpected and overwhelming blow, had the spirit to go 
forth to meet the unfortunate Varro and thank him, because he 
still had hopes of his country. Not a few of our literary pioneers 
exemplified the patriotic energy of the individual, who, when Han- 
nibal was encamped at the gates of Rome, went into the market- 
place, and bought, " at no cheap rate," the ground on which the 
conqueror's tent was standing. Such especially was the spirit of 
him who was wiser than the prudent Fabius, greater and better 
than the great and good Aristides, the unprecedented hero who 
gave his name to the happy age in which we live. 

From 1578 to 1704, under Elizabeth, James the First, Charles 
the First, the Long Parliament, Cromwell, Charles the Second, 
James the Second, William the Third, and Queen Anne, the chart- 
ers of several of the colonies were in succession recognized, con- 
tested, restrained or enlarged, lost and regained, which long-con- 
tinued struggle vigorously exercised and matured all the leading 
minds. From this and other kindred literary causes resulted the 
master spirits who achieved national independence and founded the 
republic. Among these stood Franklin, Adams, Hamilton, Jeffer- 
son, Madison, Jay, Henry, Mason, Greene, Knox, Morris, Pinckney, 


Clinton, Trumbull, and Rutledge. Perhaps the world never saw a 
national convention wherein the average of mental power rose 
higher than in the one which held its first session in Philadelphia, 
on the 14th of May, 1787, with Washington in the chair. Be- 
tween that date and the 17th of September following, the Consti- 
tution of the United States was formed ; and on the 30th of April, 
1789, at the very moment when the Constituent Assembly was 
commencing its session in Paris, the first President of the republic 
took his oath. 

The original cultivators of our virgin soil not only set out with a 
complete body of ancestral literature, and examples of the highest 
cultivation derived from anterior nations, but they diligently im- 
proved upon what they had received. It was necessary that the 
first published documents should partake largely of politics ; but 
the mental strength and elaborate excellence of these resolute en- 
deavors excited the wonder and admiration of the chief veterans of 
the world. In these writings they saw clearly defined and fully 
inaugurated the glorious age of universal amelioration. It began 
in the general revolt of the Dutch in Holland, about 1576, resulting 
in the Republic of the Seven United Provinces ; was continued by 
the edict of Nantes, in 1589, passed by Henry IV. of France ; 
and, in the old world, culminated, through the agency of the 
Long Parliament of 1641 and 1642, in the English revolution 
of 1688. Starting at the goal where all previous eras of reform 
paused in a grand consummation, the American revolution, which 
dates from 1775, has moved irresistibly forward with a liberating 
and ennobling influence often seen and felt beyond its own imme- 
diate sphere. The French revolution of 1798, which overturned 
religious and political feudalism on the continent, and the revolu- 
tions of the Spanish American provinces in the year 1810, together 
with the revolutions of 1830 and 1848, which so materially 
modified the remains of despotism in France, Germany, Prussia, 
Italy, and Austria, are but offshoots of this great central tree of 
freedom whose continually-spreading might and beauty shall ulti- 
mately protect and refresh the human race. 

The first great contributors to our national literature had the 
ambition and ability to catch the departed spirit of obsolete forms 
and embody it in new and nobler shapes. In the place of super- 


seded institutions, they substituted such original ones as would 
mold, vitalize, and impel the existing mass of plastic character, and 
thus do for the passing and prospective age what the old in their 
day did for the past. Evil from its nature is akin to death, but all 
goodness is immortal ; and it is the latter which Providence mer- 
cifully accumulates along the path of progress, the precious 
inheritance bequeathed to us by the heroes of humanity, to ameliorate 
the condition of survivors, and inspire eternal hope. It is fated 
that freedom can never be asserted without desperate literary strife, 
nor be fully established until it is cemented in patriotic blood ; that 
it can only be won and perpetuated by those who feel in their own 
energies the means of asserting it against all odds, and will obtain 
the invaluable boon at any rate. The emancipation and elevation 
of the American colonies into a republic was in heroical letters as 
well as arms the great primary monument of our land. . The pages 
not less than the speeches of great leaders were successive flashes of 
divine eloquence, such as never before shone over the vanguard of 
mankind. We can not wonder that comrades in purpose and pur- 
suit gathered in closer admiration, and were thrilled under the 
power of their lofty genius. They might incur martyrdom, but 
never sank in despair ; nor has a drop of such blood been wasted, 
since blood ransomed the earth. 

The Mayflower brought no pre-eminently distinguished man, but 
what was better, a written constitution which defined and fortified 
the united greatness of confederated fellow pioneers. The Pilgrim 
Fathers, equally exalted by the oneness of their purpose, stood on a 
sublime level which the cumulative labors of six thousand years 
had cast up ; a social grandeur which was best represented by that 
cluster of kindred institutions, the family, school, and church, they 
came thereon to plant. When these elements had been extended 
westward to the remotest available point, and were liberalized by an 
expansion over the widest diameter, the freest pen expressed the 
most perfect equality, indicating a yet loftier terrace which it will 
probably require a long period fully to reach. At that time a fresh 
cluster of great men had risen so far in advance of the common 
mass, that it was only a minority who at first dared to adopt the 
views of more enlightened minds ; and even in the assembly of 
illustrious prophets themselves, it was only by a majority of one, at 


first, that the Declaration of Independence was carried. But unlike 
the old barons at Runnymede, our republican champions could all 
sign their full names to the new Magna Charta, and were ready, at 
the greatest hazards, to authenticate the birth and prerogatives of 
Young America. Never was so mighty an instrument executed by 
so youthful hands. Of the fifty-five signers, eight had passed fifty 
years, but were under sixty ; twenty-two had reached forty ; seven- 
teen were thirty, and two were but twenty-seven years old. Had 
there been fewer young men at that eventful crisis, it is probable 
that Jefferson's daring patriotism would have been repudiated, and 
his sagacious purchase of Louisiana, with all the literary and com- 
mercial facilities consequent thereupon, together with all the pre- 
liminary advancement toward that great centre of national domain, 
would have been disastrously postponed. 

But, no I Thanks to an overruling Providence, the seasons, 
agents, and instrumentalities appropriately appear and ultimately 
conduce to the one great end, beneficent amelioration perpetually 
increased. All great minds are thus rendered cotemporaneous, 
and are naturalized among us in the highest sense. Machiavelli, 
Montesquieu, and Bacon, Moliere, Cervantes, and Shakspeare, 
touch the springs of emotion and sway mental energies on the 
banks of the Hudson, the Ohio, or the Missouri, as on the banks of 
the Guadalquiver, the Seine, or the Avon. National literature is 
no longer limited to its fatherland, whether a contracted island or 
fragmentary continent, but spreads in a language more compre- 
hensive than that of ancient Greece or Rome, and exhibits full 
development on the immensity of an entire hemisphere. Mutual 
pledges are rapidly increased between all literary producers, and 
their reciprocal labors promise soon to establish a grand brother- 
hood cast in the mighty mold of the largest liberty, and combined 
to realize the divine conception which rose in the majestic mind of 
Milton, of " that lasting fame and perpetuity of praise which God 
and good men have consented shall be the reward of those whose 
published labors advanced the good of makind." 

The Puritan colonies were from the beginning pre-eminent in 
the cause of education. In 1636, steps were taken toward the 
foundation of a college at Newtown, since called Cambridge, in 
honor of the English university. Two years later, this purpose was 


confirmed by the bequest of John Harvard, who gave the new in- 
stitution a sum of money and a valuable library. The first print- 
ing-press in America was set up in Harvard, in the President's 
house, in 1639. The literary and moral training of all children 
and youth was regarded as most important, and Massachusetts, as 
early as 1647, required by law that every township which had fifty 
householders should have a school-house and employ a teacher, and 
such as had one thousand freeholders should have a grammar- 
school. From that time forward the subject of education has 
received increasing attention, especially in the new western States. 
Michigan has a public fund for this purpose which yields $30,000 
annually, a sum fully equal to that of the oldest commonwealth ; 
and the like fund in Wisconsin yields more than three times that 
amount, per annum. The last States that are organized begin with 
the highest improvements extant in the first, and thus carry for- 
ward this supreme agent of civilization in advance of all the rest. 
Since the opening of the present century, colleges in New England 
have been increased from seven to fourteen ; in the Middle States, 
from six to twenty-two ; in the Southern States, from nine to thirty- 
seven ; and in the Western States, from three to forty-seven. 

The first newspaper in this country was the " Boston News-Let- 
ter," commenced in 1704 ; followed by the "Boston Gazette," in 
1719, and the " American Weekly Mercury," at Philadelphia, in the 
same year. The " New York Gazette" first appeared in 1725. A 
half century later, there were but thirty-seven public journals in all 
the colonies, and these were regarded favorably by both low and 
high, with a few exceptions. Governor Berkley, of Virginia, in 
1675, said : " I thank God that we have no free schools nor print- 
ing-presses, and I hope that we shall not have any for a hundred 
years ; for learning has brought disobedience, and heresy, and sects 
into the world, and printing has divulged them, and libeled gov- 
ernments. God keep us from both !" Lord Effingham, of the 
same colony, in 1683, was ordered " to allow no person to use a 
printing-press on any occasion whatever." 

We need not attempt to estimate how immense is the periodical 
literature of the United States at present, embracing the newspa- 
pers, and the monthly and quarterly magazines and reviews. There 
is no department of art in our country in which greater progress 


has been made during the last thirty years than in that of printing ; 
and while the entire number of copies struck off, annually, must be 
many millions, much the larger proportion is produced for, if not 
by, the free West. 

The first original books in America were written in New En- 
gland, and there the chief seat of literary influence has heretofore 
remained. But it is easy to perceive that a great change has 
already taken place ; and yet easier is it to predict that when, in- 
stead of aping foreign models, we come to have a literature really 
national, its perfection, like all its best materials, will be found in 
the great West. A magnificent field for intellect, in all its invent- 
ive and constructive shapes, is manifestly opening in nearer prox- 
imity to the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific shore. As material 
treasures, long buried, are now from that remote quarter sent forth 
to enrich the world, so will an infinitely more useful superabund- 
ance of intellect be poured thence by and by to enlighten and 
redeem the effete continents beyond. 

The East has always guarded the literary elements of a pro- 
ductive age, while the appropriate field of their culture was pre- 
paring, and then has yielded the contracted measure of seed to be 
scattered and gathered in harvests of immensely augmented worth. 
A literature which expresses our native peculiarities, and adequately 
represents American- character and deeds, does not yet exist, and 
this is as much an occasion for gratitude, as it is easy to be ex- 
plained. Our primary mission was to realize the idea of a perfect 
Commonwealth which had stirred the greatest minds of every age 
from PJato to Roger Williams. All history has been but the record 
of human strivings after a better, higher, and more perfect social 
state, the inauguration of the age of reason and righteousness in the 
true sense of those much abused words. Therefore an original po- 
litical literature, harmonious with the new position which progress- 
ive humanity had assumed away from arbitrary conventionalities, 
was to be our first success ; and, to the wondering admiration of all 
Europe, that has already been achieved. Starting from great and 
genuine principles, laid down by Milton, Hampden, and Sidney, our 
fathers erected a governmental model the most perfect on earth. 
That, however, was no provincial creation, but the first grand na- 
tional monument, which fortunately through successive generations, 


claimed the best energies of all leading minds. Nothing but a 
direct struggle for freedom of person and thought could emanci- 
pate the common intellect from feudal associations, hereditary er- 
rors, and crippling conventionalities. That triumph attained, and 
the prolific descendants of the victors amalgamated in yet more 
ardent endeavors on a broader and more tranquil arena, its correl- 
ative, the creation of a national fabric purely literary, may be con- 
fidently anticipated. This, too, will not be an aggregate of ancient 
provincialisms, but an original homogeneous mass of American, 
continental mind, enriched from a thousand genuine sources of lo- 
cal sentiments. The newest States are in thought the freest and 
most original, which will cause the whole country to individualize 
itself more and more. The gigantic movement of independent 
intellect toward the West every hour deepens the contrast between 
itself and the petty insipidities it leaves behind. The East has, in- 
deed, given the key-note to most of our popular thinking, but the 
West has invariably furnished the chief chorus, and spontaneously 
extemporized every variation whose brilliant originality has elicited 
thrilling applause. New England has been most prolific of authors, 
but the best of them write away from the narrow hearth of their 
nativity, or on foreign themes. Books are beginning to be imbued 
with a national spirit, as characteristic as are our institutions ; and 
the world will probably not have to wait long, before the purely 
literary productions of America will be assigned a place equally 
exalted with the master-pieces of our political science. 

The best histories of European literatures, and the sweetest le- 
gejidary songs, echoing the reminiscences of the faded past, have 
been recently produced in Massachusetts. It was appropriate that 
the most attractive portraiture of Columbus and his Companions 
should be given to the world from the " Sunny Side" of the Hudson ; 
and the gifted historian of our Republic could hardly write with 
adequate breadth and force except under the expansive influence of 
this mighty metropolis. But how will the poet sing, the critic dis- 
criminate, and the annalist indite, when centuries shall have devel- 
oped the resources of a hemisphere, and gathered a galaxy of its 
brightest luminaries in central skies to pour their combined efful- 
gence from sea to sea and from pole to pole ! 

Of course, literary excellence is as yet but very imperfectly 



attained in the West, but all present auspices are clearly in- 
dicative of prospective worth. As in volcanic eruptions, the 
deepest and firmest strata shoot to the apex of the fiery cone, 
so in self-impelled emigrations the best material goes first and far- 
thest. The greater the remove, the more disenthralled the mind, 
and the more copious of observation, as well as profounder the 
depths of reflection, which will have been brought into view by the 
transit. All past literatures contributed to lay a deep and broad 
foundation for our own ; and every historic incident of public life 
with us, more than in any other nation, is closely related to the es- 
sential nature and social improvement of mankind. Literary excel- 
lence has never moved eastward a furlong since thought began. 
On the contrary, the course of mental exaltation and aggrandize- 
ment is in exactly the opposite direction. Every body instinctively 
says " down East" and " out West," since it is felt to be a universal 
rule that only in moving in the latter direction is the largest lib- 
erty enjoyed. Years ago we defined a westerner as being " a Yankee 
expanded, a New Englander enlarged ;" and it is ultimately from 
that stock, refined and ennobled, through the inspiration of the 
majestic West, that our best national literature will originate. 

The literal invasion of savage forests, which is indispensable to 
the expansion of our republican domain, has given a designation to 
another great element of popular education peculiar to our land. 
The stump, not less than the steam engine, has become the means 
of disseminating knowledge, and of breaking down the influence of 
both local dictation and caucus caballing. It is as true as it may 
appear strange, that American eloquence has thus become most 
analogous to Athenian, and the orator is made the successful rival 
even of the press. Not a little of moral sublimity is presented by 
a great Presidential canvass, and it is difficult to estimate the 
amount of valuable information on such occasions diffused. The 
best talents of the country traverse the whole nation, even the most 
inaccessible regions, like Peter the Hermit, that they may every- 
where arouse the public mind, excite and feed its power of thought. 
On such occasions the remark of Lord Brougham is always verified, 
that the speaker who lowers his composition in order to accommo- 
date himself to the habits and tastes of the multitude, will find 
that he commits a grievous mistake. Our promiscuous assemblies 


are highly intelligent, and, on account of the interest they take in 
public affairs, they are the most susceptible of improvement. They 
most relish the logical statement of profound principles which they 
are sagacious to comprehend, and zealous to re-discuss. It is in 
this way that Bunkum speeches sent to millions of readers, and in- 
numerable lectures delivered nightly on all sorts of subjects to 
throngs in country and town, are made doubly profitable in the 
babits of reading and reasoning which they elicit and confirm. 
Nothing in the past will compare with the prodigious excitement 
which precedes popular elections in America, and the general 
calm which immediately follows. It is a sublime process of uni- 
versal education, the best adapted to perfect and perpetuate the 
free institutions in the bosom of which it had its birth. Having 
inquired into the origin of representative government, Montesquieu 
declared that " this noble system was first found in the woods of 
Germany." It has ever improved in exact proportion as it has re- 
moved from its original source, and the masses last gathered to its 
embrace seem to be most rapidly and thoroughly transformed by 
its worth. Enlightened and heroical, they repudiate the aristocratic 
system, according to which a person is born to a position of sov- 
ereignty merely because he has been born into a privileged class ; 
and firmly cling to the ..democratic rule, wherein an individual is 
born to a position of sovereignty by the simple fact that he is born 
human. Of all earth's institutions, the American Republic stands 
supreme, as being the first open university of this doctrine ; and we 
have the best reasons to believe that mankind, without exception, 
will yet become its happy and honored alumni. 

George Berkeley and Roger Williams were both educated at 
Christ Church College, Oxford. How great is the contrast between 
the traditional conservatism of mediaeval universities as they exist 
in old England at the present day, and the literary spirit so free 
and progressive in young America. The greatest boast of the for- 
mer is that they remain just where Wykeham, Waynfleet, and 
Wolsey left them, and that they have neither advanced nor changed 
the system of education since they were founded. We have before 
alluded to the fact, that it was the zeal of commoners and not the 
munificence of kings which almost wholly created both universi- 
ties ; and when those great institutions, designed for the general 


good, were perverted into the hot-beds of regal pride and aristo- 
cratic exclusiveness, their chief power was at an end. Oxford and 
Cambridge were influential on the popular mind only so far as they 
were the exponents and promoters of its intelligence. Since they 
have declined further to co-operate in this, they possess little value 
save as venerable monuments of the past, retreats wherein the great 
pioneers of the age of Washington were trained. In addition to 
Berkeley and Williams, they fostered the republican spirit of Milton, 
the illustrious bard and patriot who chanted the high praises of 
liberty in his Defenses of the People of England, in his- Apology 
for the Liberty of the Press, and in his Causes of the Reformation 
in England. How glorious to behold him emerging from " those 
dark ages wherein the huge overshadowing train of error had 
almost swept all the stars out of the firmament of the church ;" 
warning his countrymen " that unless their liberty be of a kind such 
as arms can neither procure nor take away, which alone is the fruit 
of piety, justice, temperance, and unadulterated virtue ; they may 
only be seen to pass through the fire to perish in the smoke ;" 
pleading for " a book as containing a progeny of life in it, active 
as that soul whose progeny it is, and preserving as in a vial the 
purest extraction of the living intellect which bred it;" reminding 
his countrymen " that they might as well almost kill a man as kill 
a good book, because who kills a man, kills a reasonable creature, 
God's image, but who destroys a good book, kills reason itself, kills 
the image of God as it were in the eye." Of a kindred spirit was 
Algernon Sidney to whom we owe those great and eloquent Dis- 
courses which our fathers studied as the first complete definition 
and exegesis of the nature and duties of government ; so full of 
brave and noble sentences, forever setting the indignant foot on 
the divine rights of kings ; and asserting that " He that oppugns 
the public liberty overthrows his own, and is guilty of the most 
brutish of all follies, while he arrogates to himself that which he 
denies to all men," and maintaining throughout the essential mon- 
archy of the people. In due time followed the magnificent Burke, 
amid whose stormy invectives against the excesses of freedom, are 
many rich and profound truths. Nor less useful to the cause of 
literary and political progress was his great rival, the critic, jurist, 
and reformer, Mackintosh, who prophesied the downfall of spiritual 


power before the close of the nineteenth century, and was always 
the jealous defender of popular rights. 

Cotemporaneous with these latter heroes in literature, and ex- 
tending with enhanced splendor of inspiration and effects to our 
own day, what a magnificent series of mental producers has this 
republic reared and enjoyed ! It is prophetic of a yet loftier and 
more glorious improvement, that when ennobling truths have once 
been announced, they can never be thrown back into obscurity or 
indifference ; but must spread through the world, to become a por- 
tion of the intellectual atmosphere of nations, and give tone and 
temper to all rising minds. Great thinkers are chosen to lead the 
world forward, until, not for possessions but virtues, not for his 
trappings but for himself, man is respected, and the rights of a com- 
mon humanity are everywhere enjoyed. 

We believe that the destiny of humanity is accomplished, not 
by revolving in a circle, but by a spiral ascent, and that a free lite- 
rature is its brighest precursor and accompaniment. Mental liberty 
must be regarded as an operative cause the most powerful in the 
redemption of every suffering class. Its champions, though they 
perish, are the world's martyrs. Hearts everywhere beat quicker 
when their names are mentioned, the scenes of their heroism are 
perpetually hallowed, and their memory becomes a universal relig- 
ion. When the Bastile fell, the source of their beneficent might 
was remembered by the victors, who sent the huge key to Mount 
Vernon. We may be assured that when all nations shall have 
been regenerated through governments which shall exist by and 
for the people when liberty shall have so far brought dignity of 
character and excellence in literature, as to lead the masses to ask. 
" Where are the powers which wrought this great and glorious 
change ?" Heaven and earth shall reply, " Among those powers 
yea, foremost in its energetic and comprehensive efficacy was 
the inspired pen, not less than the victorious sword, of the Amer- 
ican Revolution." 

The main stream of the historic nations, with their progressive 
literature, has always flowed toward the north-west. The original 
start of this world-wide migration was long anterior to the times 
when the soil of Europe was trodden by Greeks, Romans, Sclavo- 
nians, Germans, or Celts. But however remote was the first im- 


pulse, the irresistible spell has only deepened with its advancement, 
and in our day sends the same Japhetic tribes to settle on western 
prairies, or explore the regions of gold beyond. Intestine wars, 
which constituted the chief barrier to general progress, are most 
commonly excited by difference of races. But under our national 
banner all active elements, even the most opposite, are gathering 
and becoming rapidly fused into each other, so as to form one 
homogeneous and luminous whole. Civilization is contagious, and 
of all sovereigns Liberty is most pacific toward her admirers. 
Identity of language is a mighty auxiliary to elevating equality, 
and the subjugation of this continent to the sway of our native 
literature will present the most magnificent trophy that ever signal- 
ized the triumph of civilization. That this will eventually be literary Americans, whose sphere of thought will 
be as central as it will be both elevated and comprehensive, ought 
not for a moment to be doubted. Thus far we have produced only 
a border literature, narrow as the place of its birth, and frigid like 
the clime. But when an adequate field shall have been cleared 
near the centre of our domain, wherein intellect may extend an 
unfettered grasp, and leisure is attained for elaborate composition, 
remote from foreign models and independent of petty criticism, 
then the world will see realized a literature commensurate with 
the vastness of the western republic, and rich enough to endow all 
her children with more than eastern wealth. 

Coincident with the planting of the last English colony in 
America, Leibnitz came forward at Berlin with his comparative 
philosophy of language, and was the first successful classifier of the 
tongues then known. The next step of advancement in this funda- 
mental path of literature was taken in England, in 1751, by John 
Harris, who, in his " Hermes," laid the foundation of grammatical 
philosophy on the largest scale. It is a significant fact that the 
third prominent step in the same direction should be taken by an 
American, whose great national work on the Indian tribes was, on 
the 3d of March, 1847, authorized by Congress to be published, 
by special act. ISTot to anticipate our review of science in this age, 
we may simply remark that another national publication, that of 
Squier on the ancient monuments in the Mississippi valley, has 
excited the most lively interest throughout the archaeological world, 


and recently won its richest medal. In reference to the above> 
mentioned work by Doctor Schoolcraft, Doctor Bunsen says : " Tn 
1850, the first volume of that gigantic work appeared, and now a 
third volume, printed in 1853, has been transmitted to me by the 
liberality of that government It may fairly be said that, by this 
great national and Christian undertaking, which realizes the aspira- 
tions of President Jefferson, and carries out to their full extent the 
labors and efforts of a Secretary of State, the Honorable Albert 
Gallatin, the government of the United States has done more for 
the antiquities and language of a foreign race than any European 
government has hitherto done for the language of their ancestors." 

In the mental, not less than in the material world, this one . 
rule universally obtains, that, the higher the nature, and the more 
important the influence of a given effect, the more deliberate is its 
march toward perfectibility and development If our literature is 
yet as youthful as it has been slow, it has at least furnished abund- 
ant indications that a great original career has actually begun, and 
under auspices which promise the most brilliant success. Both in 
men and animals a mixture of races differing from each other, but 
not too far differenced, is a circumstance which tends most to the 
improvement of the species ; and in the history of letters, all that is 
greatest and best has been accomplished by the most mixed races 
of mankind. Diversified currents of free thought, as gigantic as 
the rivers which reflect our central mountains, and irrigate the im- 
mensity of their intervales, are pouring from the Atlantic toward 
the Pacific shores. On their way, they will mingle and blend in 
an amalgam deeper, broader, and richer than the preceding world 
ever saw. As of old, the elegance of the Asiatic will be sustained 
by the vigor of the Dorian, while each lends the other that quality 
without which neither could well succeed, but by which multi- 
farious co-operation, an aggregate of consummate worth will be 

With reference to a worthy national literature, we are drifting in 
a right direction ; and whatever others may fear in consequence of 
quitting antiquated channels and familiar scenes, we have good 
reasons for indulging in sanguine hope. All past experience sug- 
gests the expansion of our westward chart, and promises the richest 
discoveries the bolder we venture forth. No nation can be debased 


through an excess of wealth, luxury, and power, so long as a har- 
mony is maintained between its institutions and the progress of 
untrammeled opinion. Political life, as well as moral, is but a series 
of regenerations ; and that nation which has longest braved the 
severest storms, where the winds are comparatively free, has grown 
stronger in the tumult than in the calm, and now possesses the 

o A 

greatest energy of youth in those who are most rebellious against 
antique wrongs. We began with this juvenile energy, and are 
maturing its best strength on the fruits of all anterior struggles. 
Former heroes, in their blind madness, may have pulled down the 
temple of ancient civilization on their shoulders, and buried them- 
selves beneath its ruins ; but there is a resurrection vouchsafed to 
all immortal life, and its mightiest manifestations of every type are 
renewed on our shores. If this continent has longest lain fallow, it 
is that the resuscitated energies of redeemed humanity may produce 
their mightiest fruits thereon. 

Wonderful works, produced in distant regions and at various 
times, reduplicate their latent productiveness as they proceed from 
age to age, creating an interminable progeny of ideas, and attesting 
the vitality of genius evermore. This is the true transmigrator, 
traversing all eras, and maintaining a prolific life amid every 
variety of vicissitude, kindred to the Great Intelligence, by whose 
mandate respecting human destinies, as in material things, all con- 
comitants may be changed, but nothing of utility is to be destroyed. 
What would have been the present moral condition of the world if 
the Hebrew poetry had never been translated ; if the revival of the 
study of the Greek literature had never taken place ; if Raphael 
and Michael Angelo had never been born ; if Dante, Petrarch, Boc- 
cacio, Chaucer, Shakspeare, Calderon, Lord Bacon, and Milton had 
never existed ; if no monuments of ancient art had been handed 
down to us ; and if the poetry of the ancient religion had been ex- 
tinguished with its belief? But by the intervention of these and 
other like excitements, the human mind has been awakened to the 
inventions of modern science, and the creation of recent literatures, 
which transcend in actual worth all the masterpieces of ancient 
times. Hereby is the continuity of society, its progress and civiliza- 
tion secured. Many a noble head and heart are dust, but every 
ennobling thought emanating thence, however long ago, is now 


alive, and will forever be. Each drop blends with that great wave 
of progress, the movement of the entire ocean of mind, which is 
commensurate with the magnitude of the mass to be moved. In 
due time, the final result of almighty love will be joyfully realized. 
All noble growths are gradual, and that beneficent power which is 
destined to become superior over every other, moves with a slow- 
ness the most sublime in controlling subordinate ministrations to 
human weal. Divine logic will not be less conclusive on account 
of the multitude of its cumulative data, or the deliberateness of its 
deductions therefrom. As Guizot suggests, Providence moves 
through time as the gods of Homer through space it takes a step, 
and ages have rolled away ! 

History ever tends to authenticate the fact that there is a general 
civilization of the whole human race, and a destiny to be accom- 
plished through a prescribed course, in which each nation trans- 
mits to its successors the wealth of every superseded age, thus 
contributing to an aggregated store which is to be perpetually aug- 
mented for the common good. This is the noblest as well as most 
interesting view to be taken of progressive humanity, as it compre- 
hends every other, and furnishes the only true interpretation. In 
regard to depth of feeling and diversity of ideas, modern literature 
is infinitely more profound and affluent than that of the ancients. 
It may not be more perfect in form, but it greatly excels in practi- 
calness, and moral worth. It is in this variety of elements, and 
the sublime identity of purpose manifested in their constant strug- 
gle, that the essential superiority of our civilization consists. The 
proof of this has been presented in all the vast assemblage of facts 
which human annals have preserved. These connect causes with 
their effects, thus constituting events which, when they are once 
consummated, form the immortal portion of history, and are to be 
studied as the soul of the past, the groundwork of present improve- 
ment, and a secure guaranty of still greater excellence in the future. 
A yearning after generalization, as the basis of improved literary 
and spiritual progress, is the noblest and most powerful of all our 
intellectual desires ; and it is a very great privilege to be born in 
an age and country where this aspiration may with the most ra- 
tional zeal be indulged. 

Literature is not only associated legitimately with all that is 



great and dignified in the manifestations of human power, but, in 
our age, it also assumes the most solemn if not the most sublime 
of characters. Some are bold to teach, like Fichte, that there is a 
Divine Idea pervading the visible universe, which visible universe 
is but its symbol and personification, animated by the principle of 
vitality. To discern and grasp this, to live wholly in it, is the 
privilege and vocation of virtue, knowledge, freedom ; and the end, 
therefore, of all intellectual efforts in every age. Literary men are 
the interpreters of this latent enigma, a perpetual priesthood, stand- 
ing forth, generation after generation, as the dispensers and living 
types of God's everlasting wisdom, commissioned to make it mani- 
fest, to reveal and embody it by successive fragments in their works. 
Each age, by its inherent tendencies, is different from every other 
age, and demands a different manifestation of the eternal purpose. 
Hence every laborer in the vineyard of letters must be thoroughly 
imbued with the spirit of his age if he would be permanently use- 
ful ; while he who is not thus inspired, soon becomes a mere groper 
in the dark, both benighted and impotent. This view explains the 
true civilizing principle of literature, and expands it so as to em- 
brace all things human and divine. It is not only the expression 
of society, but also its very life and soul, and may either be a pow- 
erful instrument for creation and regeneration, or a fatal one for 
destruction. There is a reciprocal influence between an age and 
the books it engenders, as there is between the lettered spirit and 
its living use. The heroic grandeur of Greece inspired Homer; 
but it was from Homer that its civilization sprang. The first epic 
then garnered into itself all antecedent nistory, and opened a chan- 
nel wherein succeeding generations might inherit all that bygone 
efforts and innovations had produced. Great and revered models 
of subsequent nations have since been grafted upon the original 
stock of literary worth, from which must surely result both prose 
and poetical monuments of a comprehensive unity and force 
commensurate with the age reserved for their transcendent excel- 

As we best prepare a people for a high Christianity by begin- 
ning to preach to it at once, so we can not otherwise fit nations to 
enjoy liberty than by directly inculcating among them its worth, 
through the medium of a free literature ; and it is certain that of 


all nations belonging to the progressive family, Americans are best 
prepared for this mission, since they have most desired and insisted 
upon it since the birth of the republic. As the Greeks were more 
fitted for the fine arts than the Romans, and the latter were 
mightier in arms than the Medisevals whom Providence sent forth 
as the missionaries of a renewed advancement, when the restoration 
of learning prepared the way for still greater achievements, so is it 
the manifest destiny of the age of Washington to diffuse in wider 
and deeper profusion the most humanizing blessings, and thus to 
conduct instrumentally to that perfection of civilization for whicl 
earth and man were designed. 



IN considering the condition and prospects of art in the present 
age, let us, as heretofore, glance at the several departments of ar- 
chitecture, sculpture, and painting, consecutively, according to their 
natural order and relative merits. 

Archaeology is at present achieving for prospective art just what 
geology is contributing to the progress of natural science. Crumb- 
ling relics and fossil impressions are everywhere exhumed, classified 
and published for the purpose of ascertaining our true relation to 
historical art and progressive civilization. From this source more 
copious materials are derived, and a surer as well as better means 
than language affords for solving the greatest of social problems, 
since there is more authentic history built into the walls of the 
Egyptian temples, or those of Greece, or the cathedrals of the me- 
diaeval West, than exists in all the chronicles that ever were written. 
The successive masterpieces of monumental art are unaltered co- 
temporary records which, in the age of Washington, are becoming 
easily read, and most lucidly translated into the universal language 
of mankind. The buildings and subordinate artistic productions 
of each historic people tell their own tale, and can never be entirely 
falsified by time or the blunders of copyists ; but remain as left by 
their originators, with the undying impress of their aspirations, or 
their vagaries, stamped in characters of adamant. 

Alexander, the great transition -servitor of Providence in the ear- 
lier ages of progress, had been prompted to visit the temples of 
Ammon, by the tradition that they had been visited by his ancestor, 
Perseus, in his expedition against Medusa, and Hercules, after the 
victory of Busiris. Differently inspired, but for the same final end, 
the great Corsican, born out of Europe, and eager to impel the car 

ART. 373 

of empire even beyond his native island-home, signalized his des- 
tiny when he reached the same meeting-place of the obsolete and 
progressive nations, exclaiming, "Soldiers! from the summit of 
yonder pyramids forty centuries behold you." The pilgrim, the 
crusader, and the Hadgi, had successively brought back from those 
remote regions some degree of that veneration which is connected 
with hazards undergone from religious impulses. But with his 
savans round him, and all France quickened by an impulse from 
America into a higher life, Napoleon's campaign in the land of 
Ham, first in the history of our race, was the glorious conquest of 
arts as well as of arms. The Pyramids, like the shrines of Ammon, 
were temples ; and they had been the immemorial centre of art 
and science. The secrets of ah 1 the natural knowledge, the high 
historic memories, and the mystic rites, of the ancient land of wis- 
dom, seemed to be there still, hidden in those profound treasuries 
of rock, which neither time, conquest, nor curiosity, had been able 
to penetrate. But what was then accomplished deserves especial 
regard and gratitude. Connoisseurs of recondite skill and acute 
discrimination, led by their sagacious champion, penetrated to the 
profoundest chamber, wherein, some three thousand years before, 
some Pharaoh had been interred, and thence gleaned the richest 
store of antique memorials to be preserved and interpreted in other 
climes. The only army on earth who could endure the fatigues 
of such an enterprise were employed to collect the needed mate- 
rials of advancing civilization ; and then another providential act, 
equally significant, bore those treasures to London and not to Paris. 
All the oldest and most enduring worth is rapidly concentrating in 
the youngest and most progressive race. When we come to speak 
of sculptural art, and of its relation to the amelioration of universal 
mind, we shall more particularly refer to the wonderful manner in 
which " the Rosetta stone" came into English hands. 

Under the same roof which protects the Egyptian antiquities in 
the British Museum, are the Elgin Marbles, those glorious frag- 
ments of Athens and the Parthenon. Their greatness of manner is 
far more imposing than any mere bulk and extent ; and more orig- 
inal skill and science, more artistic talent is displayed in those 
mutilated models alone, than in all other classical remains extant. 
Subsequent creations are the branches only, but the Parthenon is 


the root from which their broad and beautiful characteristics are 
undoubtedly derived. It is indeed strange that, although the archi- 
tecture of Rome sprung from that of Greece, and all modern styles 
were derived, through Rome, from the same source, never until our 
day was discovered the most striking peculiarity of Grecian de- 
sign. It was reserved for an English architect, Mr. F. C. Penrose, 
to demonstrate the mathematical and optical principles on which, 
apparently, the whole art was founded. The Parthenon taught 
him the brilliant truth that there is not a straight line in the 
building ; and there is good reason to believe that such is the rule 
with respect to other important Greek structures. Mathematical 
curves, accurately calculated, were made to correct the disagreea- 
ble effect which a perfect straight line has to a practiced eye ; but 
the delicate taste which thus carried classicalism to the highest 
pitch of refinement, remained in abeyance until the dawn of an 
age in which monumental art will first revive all previous excel- 
lences, and then excel what it supersedes. 

Not only has this age opened with an unprecedented acquaint- 
ance with Egyptian art treasures, and a more accurate knowledge 
of the architectural monuments of Greece, but we also enjoy the 
advantage of other great external aids, such as the excavation of 
the buried cities skirting Vesuvius, and the unexpectedly rich dis- 
covery of Etruscan tombs. As the fitting concomitant of these 
startling revelations, the great mind of Winckleman was prepared 
to give a luminous interpretation .thereof; and correlative attempts 
were made by other masters to treat art historically and philosoph- 
ically in the presence of innumerable pupils zealous in antiquarian 
research. Referring to the destruction of Herculaneum and Pom- 
peii, Goethe remarks : " Many a calamity has befallen the world 
ere now, yet none like this, replete with instruction and delight for 
remote generations." No graphic power can convey to a stranger 
an adequate idea of the affluence of objects intensely interesting 
connected with these cities so long buried, and recently disinterred. 
Successive streets of plebeian homes, but pillared and sculptured 
as if they were the abodes of patricians, intersecting the radiant 
confusion of theatres and temples, imbue the visitor with that 
blended sense of beauty defying decay, of hoary antiquity, and of 
thrilling domestic incident, which can be felt only amid the solemn 

ART. 375 

stillness of the excavated city. The baptism of fire here became, In 
the highest degree conservative. It filled up with its train the gap 
of eighteen centuries, and has made "the trivial fond records" 
which the prints of hurried footsteps and trembling figures imply, 
immortal in the marl which hardened over them, and has left them 
as touching as if they told the fate of some ancient friends. Here 
we have the ancients as they lived, with many of their houses 
adorned with the wonderful efforts of Greek genius, skillfully copied 
by Roman art. We look at them, astonished and enraptured at 
the gorgeous pomp, and at the luxurious richness of which the 
East has ever been so proud. The superb collection of varied art 
which has so recently been rescued from the ruined city, opens to 
our age a new school of study, and most strikingly exemplifies the 
progressive changes which befell art from Pericles to Augustus, from 
eastern Greece to western Italy. 

Still more startling are the developments recently made at Nin- 
eveh. Like a second Pompeii, it has revealed the secrets of the 
inner life of a people, the scene of whose existence had long been 
forgotten. One of the fairest and most celebrated cities of the 
earth, and the capital of a mighty empire, its very site was for 
centuries unknown, and its name had become a by-word among 
nations. Buried beneath the ruins of its own greatness, the sun no 
longer shone on its colossal walls, its palaces and its temples. The 
wandering Arab and j;he enlightened European, alike ignorant of 
the treasures beneath their feet, rode over the plain beneath which 
lay buried the pride of Asshur and all the glories of the magnificent 
Seiniramis. That which Jonah describes as " an exceeding great 
city of three days' journey," and Diodorus Siculus tells us was sixty 
miles in circuit ; that which had once been the centre of civiliza- 
tion, and the scene of the utmost barbaric splendor, had sunk in 
awful silence and desolation. The change in the general aspect of 
the region, and the total disappearance of the mighty metropolis 
and its records, were perfectly appalling, until one English scholar 
wandered there to discover the strange monuments, and another 
fitting co-operative, Rawlinson, was raised up to read them. No one 
appears to have explored the ruins of Nineveh from about six hun- 
dred years before Christ, when it was taken by Cyaxares, to the 
day when Layard displayed its subterranean mysteries to a wonder- 


ing world. During this long lapse of centuries, empires had risen and 
been swept away, and two new creeds, Christianity and Mohammed- 
anism, had spread over the earth, when slowly and sublimely rising 
from their colossal tomb, came forth the winged forms of fearful 
majesty, and were borne to the remote West on the bosom of that 
mightier civilization behind which they had lingered so long. 

The best specimens of original art in every successive monument- 
al style are thus collected in London, and form the finest illustra- 
tion of consecutive development ; but at the same time old England 
is the least original in her new buildings. The greatest wonder in 
the three kingdoms at the present day is a monster of talent, and 
not a model of genius, a huge inclosure of iron and glass, without 
a single new molding or other feature of recent invention. But 
what deserves particular notice is the fact, that within that vast 
non-architectural structure is the finest, and probably the first, 
chronological exemplification of all the great national styles of pre- 
ceding times. Like most modern buildings, these specimen-forms 
are executed in unsubstantial materials, disguised so as to represent 
precious and praiseworthy works. The Egyptian, Greek, Roman, 
Byzantine, Alhambra, Mediaeval, Renaissance, Pompeian, and Nin- 
eveh courts, show at a glance what affluence of architectural inven- 
tion in past ages existed in the East, and how debased became all 
attempts in this department of art in western Europe before Amer- 
ican colonization began. It would seem as if Jieaven designed that 
nothing of marked character should be imported to interfere with 
early tendencies toward originality in this new artistic sphere, and 
that afterward all select reminiscences of the old world should be 
wafted toward us as fast as indigenous taste and power might arise 
to require their support and assimilate their worth. 

The Virginia colony transferred with but little change the de- 
graded cruciform type of sacred architecture common to the mother 
church of that day, and which decayed utterly with her enforced 
spiritual dominion. The primitive churches, such as those at 
Jamestown, Hampton, and Petersburg, are the most picturesque and 
complete ruins in the United States. The Puritans, on the contrary, 
built in a manner astutely original, and their rectangular ugliness 
remaineth unto this day. The early buildings of New England, 
and in the Middle States, both civic and sacred, unsymmetrical and 

ART. 377 

uncouth as they may appear, have yet an air of originality and 
strength which will greatly tend to perpetuate the characteristic 
hardihood of their origin. Greek and Roman temples in small, and 
miniature cathedrals of mediaeval design, executed in heterogene- 
ous materials and with excruciating anomah'es, are springing up in 
every ambitious town. But the most of these are insipid, hollow, 
and contemptible shams, compared with the plain and truthful, 
though unartistic edifices which our earnest fathers built. As soon 
as the passion for paltry imitation shall have exhausted its inanity, 
we shall see a rugged germ of originality spring from that stock, 
which will grow into a worthy type of American monumental art. 

Several indications already justify this hope. In the first place, 
in all the great works which require the blending of inventive genius 
with constructive skill, and which are made flexile as well as firm 
in their adaptation to novel emergencies and the most available use, 
our countrymen have no superiors on earth. Our engineering 
works and national fabrics of every sort are confessedly unexcelled. 
Structures of popular taste and public utility, such as stores, banks, 
hotels, and ships, are universally acknowledged to be the finest ex- 
tant. When our people in general, and architects in particular, 
shall have given equal thought and zeal to the perfection of relig- 
ious art suited to our climate and customs, still greater success wDl 
doubtless be attained. 

It is well known that the Greeks invented the most beautiful 
order of architecture, called Corinthian, at the period of Periclean 
decline. The exquisite little memorial of Lysicrates was their only 
perfected specimen, the proportions of which were never enlarged 
in the clime of their first bloom. A corrupted Roman modification 
has often been repeated, but not till the age of Washington, and 
nearly on the very spot where Liberty first proclaimed her complete 
emancipation, did an architect conceive the purpose of recasting 
those perfectly beautiful outlines on a colossal scale. Since Pericles 
and his age perished, earth has seen no fairer fabric, both as to its 
material form and artistic soul, than Girard college presents. Com- 
pare the Madeleine of Paris, and St. George's Hall at Liverpool, 
two cotemporaneous masterpieces, nearest to the same order, and 
most lauded by their respective nations, if you would estimate the 
actual progress we have made in monumental art. There is more 


pure Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian architecture executed in marble 
and now adorning Philadelphia alone, than can be found in Paris 
and London combined, or in any other three cities of either France 
or England. 

The new House of Parliament now building in Westminster has 
already cost an enormous sum, and is profusely decorated on the 
interior and exterior with a great variety of graphic and sculptured 
art. But one familiar with the palatial and ecclesiastical architec- 
ture of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, will search in vain for 
the first original feature in the whole conglomerated pile. We, too, 
are building a new Capitol, and how do the two edifices compare 
as to intrinsic monumental worth ? All nations wove native vege- 
tation into their mural and columnar creations down to the middle 
of the fifteenth century of the Christian era, when all architectural 
invention manifestly ceased. Thenceforth shields of arms, sheets 
of armor, and shreds of fiddles or yet emptier fantasies usurped the 
entablature, darkened casements, and cumbered over-burdened 
shafts. Hence in the palace of Lords and Commons on the border 
of the Thames, if amid ten thousand vestiges of feudal fierceness 
and heraldic insignia, we look for structural adornments fashioned 
after a leaf, or flower, or tuft of foliage peculiar to the England of 
to-day, not one can be found. But when the original home of our 
national legislation was restored near the Potomac, the chief col- 
onnade was surmounted by a new cap, bearing in graceful curve 
and foliation the clustered wealth of our primitive staple, corn. 
Since then other indications of native resources have been added ; 
and the architect who is now serving his country and the cause of 
progressive art so well, boldly lays our entire domain of vegetable 
glories under contribution to enhance the beauty and characterize 
the purpose of his marble halls. When completed according to 
the present design, American architecture, sculpture, and painting, 
will therein coalesce in consummate excellence to signalize an ad- 
vance in native art commensurate with the immensity of our repub- 
lican domains. 

Another favorable symptom among us is, that the people them- 
selves, and leading minds in particular, are becoming more inspired 
with a taste for noble art. This is indispensable to the production 
of great and worthy national monuments. Had Pericles, and 

ART. 379 

Augustus, and Leo X. not been as familiar with the principles and 
usefulness of art as any of those that were around them, and had 
not the artists of their day not been gentlemen in feeling and 
accomplishments, the monumental arts of their respective ages 
would never have risen to the elevation with which they are 
marked. As soon as our countrymen are once thoroughly con- 
vinced of the direction in which the true future of the arts lies, the 
grandest victory will already have been more than half gained. 
Thev will then become thoroughly convinced how utterly unwor- 
thy of this country and age were the arts both of the ancient 
Pagans and those of the middle ages ; and producers will not help 
feeling the degradation inherent in their present servile copying. 
Men of a higher class of intellect, emancipated from hereditary con- 
ventionalism, will devote a more earnest search after excellence, and 
will find it in the greatest purity and profusion, not where it has so 
long been sought, but in some new and loftier sphere, where the 
virgin ore is still concealed in its original matrix. This, however, 
is not to be rapidly attained. To accomplish any thing really great 
requires centuries of years and myriads of progressive steps. Un- 
artistic millionaires will cease to inhabit absurd houses, or worship 
in sham temples, as soon as the mass of the people who long since 
rebelled against tyrannical and absurd laws, shall come to be as 
appreciative of architectural improvement as they are sagacious and 
patriotic to promote popular rights. No longer content to fill new 
States with dried specimens of old civilizations, a generation is about 
to appear who will cease erecting edifices which are mere monu- 
ments of servile ignorance, and will assure posterity that they dared 
to think for themselves, and had an art' of their own. Not one 
source of pure and lofty inspiration ever existed which does not 
now exist ; on the contrary, many are now extant which former 
ages had no suspicion of, and it is painful to sea them unused for 
the noble purposes they were given to promote, substituted as 
they are by mockeries and absurdities which degrade the office of 
art, and lead the public to suppose that it is an empty bauble, fit 
only to pander to the grossest sensuality. 

True art is not a thing merely to be copied and bartered at such 
and such a price, but to be studied with affectionate disinterested- 
ness, with reference to the future creation of new styles and higher 


classes of beauty, and anterior to the sixteenth century artists 
wrought constantly upon this principle. Then architecture and its 
correlative arts were cultivated with a single motive and for only 
one purpose, that of producing the best possible building with the 
best possible materials that could be commanded, and without ever 
looking back on preceding works, except to learn how to avoid 
their defects and excel their beauties. It was an earnest progress- 
ive struggle toward perfection, which, after the stormy period 
requisite to the founding of our free institutions, we must resume 
and complete in the more tranquil realm of ennobling art. First 
learning all that has been done, we are to start from that highest 
point to surpass it ; this has been the process executed by all pro- 
gressive races, and hence their success. Well might Greece exult 
in the result of her great battle for freedom ; well might each 
separate state pride itself on the share it had borne in the common 
struggle, and well might she tax monumental art to give the 
loftiest expression to her triumphant joy. Kindled with a deep and 
universal enthusiasm, art was then the reflex of victory, as it is now its 
noblest monument, and such may it increasingly become in America ! 
Sculpture, the severest of "artistic creations, has already achieved 
a grand success in our western world. Early success and present 
proficiency guaranty future excellence of the highest order in this 
department of the liberal arts. Horatio Greenough of Boston was 
the first of our countrymen who won a wide reputation in sculpture, 
and has left works which justify the exalted encomiums he so zeal- 
ously earned. Hiram Powers soon followed in this serene sphere 
of genius, and having journeyed unknown from the bosom of the 
Green Mountains to the " Queen City of the West," he began an 
artistic career on the banks of the Ohio which has since for many 
years brightened the fairest glories that gleam in the mirror of the 
Arno. Clevenger, that noble and magnificent son of the West, was 
quickened into a generous emulation by Powers, as the latter had 
been fostered by the kindness of Greenough, and soon the three 
were harmoniously working together in Florence. Two prime 
luminaries have been withdrawn from that brilliant constellation to 
shine in a brighter firmament, but others of not less promise have 
been added to the sublunary galaxy in rapid succession, so that our 
sculpturesque school is now second to none extant. 

ART. 381 

The State which, gave birth to our oldest living sculptor abounds 
more copiously in fine marble than Italy itself ; and the statuary, as 
well as the architect, will yet derive thence the material of his 
grandest works. The far West is equally rich in the components 
of bronze, and the more precious metals. At the moment of the 
present writing, a native artist is erecting in the centre of this city 
an equestrian statue of Washington of colossal size, which was cast 
in Massachusetts with a completeness and perfection, it is said, un- 
attainable at any foundry in Europe. It was fitting that the first 
great leader in this department of national renown should execute 
his masterpieces for the republic and its metropolis, and that his 
worthy successors should now be adorning the capitals of the re- 
motest parent colonies with masterly memorials in both marble 
and bronze. Patriotic hearts can not but be thrilled in observing 
how in every section of our country spacious studios are devoted to 
high art, whence busts, portrait-statues, and original groups are 
elicited by constantly-increased patronage, to adorn private man- 
sions and ennoble the popular taste. Clevenger, when an humble 
apprentice to a stone-mason in Cincinnati, made his first attempt at 
sculpture by the light of a midnight moon over the bas-relief of a 
tombstone ; and the first full-length monumental figure ci\t for 
" Mount Auburn" was executed by an adventurer in Boston, whom 
we first knew as a poor country blacksmith, but who is now an 
eminent and wealthy sculptor. The old world has no cemeteries 
which in natural beauty and adaptedness to artificial adornment can 
compare with our own, and these rural cities of the dead will soon 
become grand repositories of living art. Already is this fore- 
shadowed at Greenwood, around the granite pedestal whereon the 
yet more enduring majesty of De Witt Clinton looks abroad on the 
fleeting grandeurs of earth, ocean, and sky. Niches and arcades 
are opened in all public buildings of recent erection, and good 
sculpture is rapidly becoming an exquisite delight to the American 

So long as the aim of the sculptor is only to advance step by step 
toward the ideal of perfect beauty, no age can ever excel that of 
Pericles. The limited powers of mortals are incapable of advan- 
cing further in that direction than paganism attained in giving to 
corporeal charms a material expression. But the age of Washington 


is called to embody intellectual beauty, invested with such feelings 
as the highest class of Christian development will admit of, and 
this will enable the modern artist to reach a far higher point of 
excellence than has yet been attained. The same subsidiary vehicle 
must be employed to convey a more exalted class of expression, but 
a nobler aim is opened to the consecrated aspirant, and superlative 
excellence in sculpture must be the result. Of their kind, the 
Apollo Belvidere and the Venus de' Medici will ever stand without 
rivals ; but they do not belong to the highest class of art, for the 
Venus has no more mind than the Greeks usually ascribed to women ; 
and the Apollo, though the noblest animal ever created, is no more 
in the realm of intellect than " a young Mohawk." Sculpture is 
not always to remain only an unmeaning transcript of an extinct 
system of art, but must advance beyond the expression of mere 
corporeal beauty. What is now most wanted for this, as for all 
kindred arts, is the power of expressing the loftiest order of intellect, 
blended with the most refined sensibility which either the heart of 
sculptured genius can conceive or its hand execute. We believe 
that capacities adequate to the accomplishment of this consummate 
end will yet be developed in America, and are convinced that their 
happy exercise will "lead to triumphs of art higher than ever the 
Grecians, in their hour of most magnificent exaltation, dreamed of. 
The fine arts of the ancients wre only necessary results of their 
general system, and of the objects they sought through every channel 
and in every thought ; as our ships and engines are not things 
apart from our commerce or manufactures, but only great facts 
resulting from them as exponents the most exact. But in due 
time Americans will elaborate beauty out of the practical arts as 
earnestly as they now look for profit in them, and then will the 
world witness the coalescence of the human and divine in sculptured 
worth the most complete. 

Painting was the first fine art cultivated in America, and has 
never ceased to advance. When George Berkeley came to this 
country with the benevolent purpose of opening a university for the 
education of the aborigines, he included the arts of design in his 
system of education. No founder of schools in the old world ever 
thought of that. Berkeley had traveled in Italy with a Scotch 
artist, John Smybert, and chose him to be professor of architecture, 

ART. 383 

drawing, and painting in his projected institution. There is at Yale 
College a large picture which represents Berkeley and some of his 
family, together with the artist himself, on their first landing in 
America, which is supposed to be the first picture of more than a 
single figure ever painted on our shores. 

Berkeley's general scheme was abandoned from necessity, but 
Smybert settled in Boston, where he married and died. The latter 
event occurred in 1751, when his pupil, Copley, was but thirteen 
years old. Trumbull retired from the army, and resumed painting 
in Boston, in 1777, surrounded by Copley's works, and in the room 
which had been built for Smybert. Thus was the path of progress 
opened and increasingly glorified, the greatest of New England 
colorists, Allston, having first caught the reflection of Vandyke in 
Smybert. All the best portraits which remain of eminent divine? 
and magistrates of the eastern States and New York, who livec? 
between 1725 and 1751, are from the pencil of this founder of pic- 
torial art in America. 

In his " History of the Rise and Progress of the Arts of Design in 
the United States," William Dunlap commemorates more than four 
hundred and thirty painters who have contributed to the establish- 
ment of an American school of art It is really wonderful that so 
much artistic merit should have been matured in the midst of 
difficulties incident to the civilization of a barbarous continent. 
But Sir Walter Scott, in recommending a work of American genius 
to Maria Edgeworth, sagaciously accounted for the phenomenon by 
saying, " That people once possessed of a three-legged stool, soon 
contrive to make an easy-chair." In allusion to this anecdote, our 
first great sculptor, Greenough, remarks, " Humble as the phrase is, 
we here perceive an expectation on his part, that the energies now 
exercised in laying the foundations of a mighty empire, would, in 
due time, rear the stately columns of civilization, and crown the 
edifice with the entablature of letters and of arts. Remembering 
that one leg of the American stool was planted in Maine, a second 
in Florida, and the third at the base of the Rocky Mountains, he 
could scarce expect that the chair would become an easy one in 
half a century. It is true, that before the Declaration of Independ- 
ence, Copley had in Boston formed a style of portrait which filled 
Sir Joshua Reynolds with astonishment ; and that West, breaking 


through the bar of Quaker prohibition, and conquering the prejudice 
against a provincial aspirant, had taken a high rank in the highest 
walk of art in London. Stuart, Trumbull, Allston, Morse, Leslie, 
and Newton, followed in quick succession, while Vanderlyn woii 
golden opinions at Rome, and bore away high honors at Paris. So 
far were the citizens of the republic from showing a want of capacity 
for art, that we may safely affirm the bent of their genius was 
rather peculiarly in that direction, since the first burins of Europe 
were employed in the service of the American pencil before Irving 
had written, and while Cooper was yet a child. That England, 
with these facts before her, should have accused us of obtuseness in 
regard to art, and that we should have pleaded guilty to the charge, 
furnishes the strongest proof of her disposition to underrate our 
intellectual powers, and of our own ultra docility and want of self- 

No Walhalla can be made to start suddenly from a republican 
soil ; but we firmly believe that our free institutions are more favor- 
able to a natural, healthful growth of art, than any hot-bed culture 
under the auspices of aristocrats or kings. Monuments, statues, 
and pictures which represent what the people love and wish for are 
rapidly multiplied, and this popular appreciation of high art needs 
only to be guided by salutary examples to become mighty and 
prolific beyond any preceding age. 

No country ever existed where the development and growth of 
an artist was more free, healthful, and happy, than it is in these 
United States. Independence of character is essential to all emi- 
nent success, and that is here necessitated by every law of life. 
Like Alexander, when he embarked for Asia ; Caesar, when he 
leaped the Rubicon ; Phidias, when he adorned the Parthenon ; 
Michael Angelo, when he painted the Capella Sistina ; Raphael, 
when he entered the Vatican ; Napoleon, when he invaded Italy ; 
and Columbus, when he sailed for America ; the aspirant after ex- 
alted art-excellence in our land, must depend mainly on his own 
genius, and find in that his best patron and reward. 

The whole world of ancient art is moving toward this great 
western theatre of its finest and sublimest development. The con- 
tinental cities contain a few magnificent collections, but the artistic 
wealth stored in the many private mansions of the British islands 

AET. 385 

transcends all eastern lands. Waagen's four large volumes are not 
sufficient to enumerate the "Art Treasures in Great Britain." 
These are more secluded than the public galleries of Rome, Naples, 
Florence, and Paris, but they are not inferior in respect to particu- 
lar specimens, and are vastly more diversified in general interest. 
On English soil we may study the graphic, as well as sculptural 
and monumental history of all authentic eras, with the assurance 
that as the mental worth we contemplate is removed, it will prob- 
ably advance still further west. Not a great sale of literary or ar- 
tistic collections occurs in Europe, when a strong competition is not 
ventured upon by Americans. We believe that this country will 
yet possess the chief treasures of England, as that mighty nation 
has heretofore gathered to herself the choicest productions of ante- 
rior times. Giotto's portrait of Dante in the Chapel of the Palazzo 
del Podesta, at Florence, was rescued from under a thick coat of 
whitewash by our countryman, R. H. Wilde ; and the young uni- 
versity at Rochester, N. Y., bought the superb library of Neander 
entire. Restore and reform is the standing order of the day. Pal- 
aces are emptied of useless princes and unproductive aristocrats, 
in order that remains of antiquity and paragons of beauty may find 
refuge therein, under the protection of the populace who crowd 
with reverent enthusiasm to their contemplation. Thus are the 
common people becoming the true conservators of ancient worth, 
and the most liberal promoters of modern improvement. At this 
moment the manufacturers in western England buy more fine, pic- 
tures, and lend a wiser as well as richer support to art than all the 
personal patronage in the realm beside, the sovereign included. 

Every new enactment of the hereditary few is a fresh concession 
to the popular demand for free access to whatever is beautiful or 
sublime. Since Charles L, each great institution, the British Mu- 
seum for example, has been indebted to a private individual for its 
origin. The common heart therein reads an impressive comment- 
ary on all progress, and is ennobled in its joy. Egypt, Assyria, 
Greece, ancient Rome, and modern Italy, disinterred and intelli- 
gently arranged, pass under the simultaneous view of the masses, 
and every expression of tint, form, and spirit becomes a fresh ele- 
ment of knowledge, a lever by which is set in motion a vast fabric 
of creative wonder. Thus the sciences and arts unite in a delight- 



ful combination for the good of humanity, and nothing gives so 
much lustre to a nation as their perfection. 

The cultivation of the fine arts greatly contributes to the respect, 
character, and dignity of every government by which they have 
been encouraged, and are intimately connected with every thing 
valuable in national influence. In contemplating the permanent 
glory to which so small a republic as Athens rose, by the genius 
and energy of her citizens, exerted in this direction, it is impossible 
to overlook how transient the memory and fame of extended em- 
pires and mighty conquerors are, compared with those who have 
rendered inconsiderable states eminent, and who have immortalized 
their own names by these pursuits. Free governments alone afford 
a soil suitable to the production of native talent, to the full matur- 
ing of the human mind, and to the growth of every species of ex- 
cellence. Therefore no country can be better adapted than our 
own to afford a final abode for the best specimens of the old world 
as models to the new, that by these we may first learn to emulate, 
and ultimately be enabled to excel them. 

We are yet a young people, engrossed with all the distracting 
cares and toils incident to the primary subjugation of a virgin con- 
tinent. And yet, perhaps nowhere else are the masses more eager 
to enjoy beautiful art. Private collections are rapidly multiplying, 
numerous exhibitions are profusely visited, and public monuments 
are munificently sustained. At a late meeting of the Royal Acade- 
my in London, at which the ministers were present, the premier, 
Lord Aberdeen, said that " as a fact full of hope he remarked that for 
several years the public, in the appreciation of art, had outstripped 
the government and the parliament itself." But in the United 
States the masses, who in this age are everywhere rising in intelli- 
gent supremacy, most directly control the resources of their respect- 
ive States; and we may soon expect to see diversified types of 
American art produced which will be commensurate with the 
matchless charms of our climate, the varied richness of our 
raw materials, and the grandeur of our national domain. 

The best writers on art that ever lived are now enriching our 
language with the most splendid contributions to a new and nobler 
order of aesthetical criticism. Not only are such works appreci- 
ated with great avidity by the common mind of our land, but the 

ART. 387 

numerous art-students from America, whose studios are leading 
attractions in every foreign metropolis, receive the newest light 
with least prejudice, and profit by progressive principles with most 
triumphant success. 

The more occidental the stage of human development, and the 
later the period of its existence, the more scope and capital there 
will be for the exercise of genius. The last national picture ex- 
ecuted for the Rotunda at Washington was by a native artist born 
beyond the Ohio ; and the moving panorama, the most original and 
instructive, if not the most refined species of art belonging to this 
age in all the world, was invented by an American, amid the wild 
splendors of the upper Mississippi. In regions yet beyond, Jubal 
with the chorded shell, and Tubal-Cain, smelting metals and refin- 
ing pigments for the use of man, will direct those who congregate 
in cities, and turn the discoveries of reason, with the embellishments 
of art to the widest and most ennobling public good. We have 
every reason to believe that as our nationality shall require an artis- 
tic expression, local genius will never be wanting to give it an ade- 
quate expression ; and that the sublime productions of the West 
will ultimately be appealed to as the finest test of the supreme rank 
we shall come to hold among the nations of earth. 



THE swallow travels, and the bee builds now, as these creatures 
of instinct traveled and built in the days of Moses and Job ; but 
the capabilities and acquisitions of rational man are all progressive, 
not only, as an individual from infancy to age, but as a species from 
the beginning to the end of time. This is shown, by every art 
which man has invented, and in every science he has employed. 
Let us proceed to open up more specifically this illustrative depart- 
ment of our general theme, and consider the threefold advantages, 
political, mechanical, and educational which the age of Washing- 
ton permits us to enjoy. 

The science of government as practiced in this country, is undoubt- 
edly constructed on the loftiest principles of common sense, and 
constitutes the best model and most salutary protection to each 
subordinate department of productive thought. Here, the division 
of labor has been carried to the greatest extent, not only in the 
deliberative but in the executive departments ; and progress is 
steadily pursued, without attempting to anticipate results either by 
springing forward after crude theories, or backward in attempts to 
copy extinct forms. Our view of liberty differs essentially from 
that held by the ancients. By the latter citizenship was regarded 
as the highest phase of humanity, and man, as a political being, 
could rise no higher than to membership in a state ; therefore it 
was that Aristotle affirmed the state to be before the individ- 
ual. But with us the state, and consequently the citizenship only 
affords the means of obtaining still higher objects, the fullest pos- 
sible development of human faculties both in this world and in 
that which is to come. 

The science of freedom, which is destined to spread its irresistible 
empire over this continent, started its primary germ in the bosom 


of our antipodes. Long before the words people, law, equality, in- 
dependence, and equitable legislation had found a place in refined 
languages, republicanism glowed in the mind of Moses, and was 
partially embodied in the Hebrew commonwealth. The safeguard 
of all races as they were propagated, and the ennobler of all 
thoughts as they were colonized, this blessing of blessings has ever 
migrated with advancing humanity from age to age, till at length 
a fitting field has been attained for its fullest and most fruitful devel- 

Heeren well observes that Greece may be considered as " a sam- 
ple paper of free commonwealths." But even that renowned land 
never saw her people enjoy their just rights ; nor was such an 
exalted privilege realized by the nations of continental Europe, 
until the great principle of popular consent was recognized as the 
foundation of righteous authority. The crusades broke down feu- 
dalism, and elective monarchies grew increasingly representative 
of the popular will, up to the transition period, when James II. was 
hurled from his tyrannical throne, and William of Orange became the 
people's king. All the best political science of the old world went 
with the latter, from the comparatively free Netherlands, to ame- 
liorate England, and foster her colonies in America. The essence 
of the great revolution of 1688 was eminently pacific and progress- 
ive, occasioning no sacking of towns nor shedding of blood. Ac- 
cording to Macaulay, it announced that the strife between the pop- 
ular element and the despotic element in the government, which 
had lasted so long, and been so prolific in seditions, rebellions, 
plots, battles, sieges, impeachments, proscriptions, and judicial mur- 
ders, was at an end; and that the former, having at length fairly 
triumphed over the latter, was thenceforth to be permitted freely to 
develop itself, and become predominant in the English polity. 

In tracing kindred paths of human progress, we have constantly 
had occasion to note how the affairs of all consecutive ages, though 
produced immediately by the voluntary agency of diversified 
actors, have, nevertheless, been controlled by the divine counsel, 
and contributed to execute the perfected unity of the divine plan. 
How great and manifold were the purposes which Providence com- 
prehended in the discovery of America, and the peculiar colonies 
planted on its shores, we need not attempt to portray. But it is 


impossible to doubt that prominent among these were improve- 
ments in the science of government, the evolution of new theories 
of civil polity, and a grander application of such principles as had 
already been made known. 

As a new world was about to be civilized, and required the 
highest measure of free intelligence, Bacon, Harrington, Sidney, 
Milton, Locke, Grotius, Puffendorf, and Montesquieu, arose to pour 
successive shafts of light upon the new but sombre skies. Parental 
injustice and colonial strife for a while darkened earth and heaven ; 
but in due time the sun of American freedom ascended with auspi- 
cious splendor, when the mists of prejudice were dispersed, and the 
fresh revelations of a new political science appeared like some glo- 
rious landscape amid clear shining after rain. All the brightest 
beamings of antecedent light fell concentrated in that ray which 
illumined the cabin of the Mayflower, and kindled the fairest bea- 
con of freedom on the eastern extremity of our continent. It was 
an effulgence given to be thenceforth diffused westward evermore, 
often buffeted, indeed, by adverse elements, but never impeded in 
its predominating progress, and much less diminished or obscured. 

Before the pilgrim fathers disembarked, on the llth of Novem- 
ber, 1620, off Cape Cod, they drew up and subscribed a formal 
social compact, from which is the following extract : " We, whose 
names are under-written * * * * do, by these presents, 
solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and of one another, 
covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic, 
* * * * and by virtue hereof, to enact, constitute, and frame 
such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, offices, 
from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient 
for the general good of the colony ; unto which we promise all due 
submission and obedience. In witness whereof we have hereunder 
subscribed our names." To this remarkable document were ap- 
pended the names of all the male adults on board the ship ; the 
whole number of both sexes being a hundred and one, who took 
possession of a desert island, where day now first dawns on the 
sublimest republic of earth. 

According to an eastern fable, the world is a harp. Its strings 
are earth, air, fire, flood, life, death, and wind. At certain intervals, 
an angel, flying through the heavens, strikes the harp. Its vibra- 


tions are those mighty issues of good and evil, the great epochs 
which mark the destiny of our race. In allusion to this, E. C. 
Wines remarks : " The mystic harp was touched when the pilgrims 
set foot on Plymouth Rock, Its quivering strings discoursed their 
most eloquent music. The burden of the notes was, human free- 
dom ; human brotherhood ; human rights ; the sovereignty of the 
people ; the supremacy of law over will ; the divine right of man 
to govern himselfl The strain is still prolonged in vibrations of 
ever-widening circuit. That was an era of eras. Its influence, 
vitalized by the American Union, is fast becoming paramount 
throughout the civilized world, Europe feels it at this very mo- 
ment to her utmost extremities, in every sense, in every fibre, in 
every pulsation of her convulsed and struggling energies. 

" The great birth of that era is practical liberty ; liberty based 
on the principles of the Gospel ; liberty fashioned into symmetry 
and beauty and strength by the molding power of Christianity; 
liberty which l places sovereignty in the hands of the people, and 
then sends them to the Bible, that they may learn how to wear the 
crown.' And what a birth ! Already is the infant grown into a 
giant. Liberty, as it exists among us, that is, secured by constitu- 
tional guaranties, impregnated with Gospel principles, and freed 
from alliance with royalty, has raised this country from colonial 
bondage and insignificance to the rank of a leading power among 
the governments of earth, 

" The union of these States under one government, effected by 
our national Constitution, has given to America a career unparal- 
leled, in all the annals of time, for rapidity and brilliancy. Her 
three millions of people have swelled, in little more than half a cen- 
tury, to twenty-five millions. Her one million square miles have 
expanded into nearly four millions. Her thirteen States have 
grown into thirty-one. Her navigation and commerce rival those 
of the oldest and most commercial nations. Her keels vex all 
waters. Her maritime means and maritime power are seen on all 
seas and oceans, lakes and rivers. Her inventive genius has given 
to the world the two greatest achievements of human ingenuity, in 
the steamboat and the electric telegraph. Two thousand steamers 
ply her waters ; twenty thousand miles of magnetic wires form a 
net-work over her soil. The growth of her cities is more like 


inagic than reality. New York has doubled its population in ten 
years. The man is yet living who felled the first tree, and reared 
the first log-cabin, on the site of Cincinnati. Now that city con- 
tains one hundred and fifty thousand souls. It is larger than the 
ancient and venerable city of Bristol, in England." 

Thus the founders of our national compact have proved them- 
selves the unsurpassed adepts in political science. They unques- 
tionably belonged to that select number, of whom Bolingbroke said 
that it has pleased the author of nature to mingle them, from time 
to time, at distant intervals, among the societies of men, to main- 
tain the moral system of the universe at an elevated point. Nor 
shall we find less variety of profound invention, or less popular ad- 
vantages derived from practical applications in the realm of Amer- 
ican mechanical science, than in the primary one of civic excellence 
just considered. 

The labors of cotemporaries generally are in harmony with the 
epoch ; and in America especially do they all tend to promote that 
ultimate destiny which promises to be much better as well as greater 
than the past sufferings, commotions, and hopes of mankind. The 
westering career of inventive genius reminds one of Milton's hero 
marching through the dark abyss to discover fairer realms beyond. 
Though assailed by feelings of discouragement, and fantastic appa- 
ritions rise before him, still he persistingly rises from the dark 
depths, to set his foot on the gigantic bridge that leads from gloom 
to brightness, and sees at length the pendant new world hanging 
in a golden chain, fast by the empyreal heaven, " with opal towers 
and battlements adorned of living sapphire." 

Modern science has produced a splendid mass of evidence as to 
the growing power and capacity of the human mind ; of its inde- 
pendence, freedom, and ability to direct its own movements ; of re- 
sisting the influences of external agents, of inquiring after original 
truths, and acting according to its own ideas of propriety, justice, 
or duty. As by the use of armed vision, and other mechanical 
aids, the modern scholar can extend his intellectual riew to things, 
laws, and results beyond the most distant conceptions of unculti- 
vated mind, so will like means bring into near neighborhood na- 
tions and continents heretofore the most remote. 

The mechanical inventor stands prominent among the chief he- 


roes and benefactors of every productive people, and especially is 
this true of the mightiest in our day, the English race. Their 
bloodless conflict with, and conquest over, the forces of nature, 
transcend in importance all the glitter of ancestral fame, and the 
proud spoils of foreign wars. Nothing in ancient annals is com- 
parable to the prodigious feats of human industry and skill which 
have been witnessed since the age of Washington began. Not to 
go east of our own immediate ancestors, it is interesting to see 
how the old haunts of power are now but the abandoned monu- 
ments of progress, the means of which are mostly mechanics, all 
the chief seats of whose influence have migrated to the West. Can- 
terbury, Lincoln, Salisbury, nd Winchester, have remained almost 
stationary ever since the United States were organized; while 
Leeds, Paisley, and Glasgow, Birmingham, Manchester, and Liver- 
pool have become the comprehensive centres of the most productive 
and beneficent life. The growth of the latter town has corresponded 
with our own great commercial metropolis ; which, like it, is truly 
a city of the young and auspicious age. Sitting there upon a rock, 
overlooking the Atlantic, and enriched with the merchandise of 
many nations, the modern Tyre of the old world, whose rugged 
Lancastrian dignity comports well with the majesty of universal 
commerce, relies for her principal support on her rival New- 

Previous to the eighteenth century, great ingenuity and fertility 
of invention was manifested in theoretical representations of me- 
chanical principles and complicated machines. But in all that 
relates to efficient construction and adaptation to practical use, a 
total absence of scientific insight was manifested. The puny en- 
gines might act very well in the form of models, if not set to work 
out something in good earnest, but otherwise they were sure to 
knock themselves to pieces in a very short time. On the contrary, 
this century is distinguished in nothing more than by the potent 
simplicity and prolific benefits to which all its great mechanical in- 
ventions are reduced. The hundred eyes of Argus, and the hun- 
dred hands of Briareus are at once laid under contribution to the 
widest good in the simultaneous action of all their most concen- 
trated powers. Inventive genius, divinely guided, is fast altering 
the face of earth, and converting the elements of nature, together 



with her laws, into instruments and artificial powers, wherewith to 
augment the fruitfulness of human industry, and the products of 
cultivated soils. Labor-saving machinery increases the yield of ag- 
ricultural science, facilitates transportation, and enriches commerce 
through the varied wealth it affords for exchange. The steam- 
engine, spinning-jenny, and power-loom, consume neither food nor 
clothing, while they accomplish more labor than millions of weary 
human hands. How wonderfully does mechanical science augment 
the products of industry, multiply the comforts and diminish the 
diseases of life, developing the resources, and increasing the capital, 
intelligence, and power of a nation ! 

With the exception of a few island^in hot climates, agriculture 
never did flourish in any country where the mechanic arts were 
not flourishing. Nearly all the grains, vegetables, and plants, as 
well as fruits, which afford support to our spreading population, 
and replenish the marts of trade, once grew spontaneously in east- 
ern climes, whence they were transplanted to constitute the advan- 
tage and reward of western agriculture. As soon as the pioneer 
of a new region acquires sufficient knowledge of the mechanic 
arts, and learns to construct tools adapted to the cultivation of 
earth, he is able to convert its products into the means of comfort, 
and the staples of commerce. One discovery leads to another yet 
more prolific of good, and every improvement in mechanical science 
not only multiplies the enjoyments of rational man, but contributes 
to promote his health, increase his longevity, and augments the 
products of every realm of nature, in quantity, quality, and value. 
Agriculture is therefore dependent upon mechanical science, not 
only for its origin, but also for every step of its progress in the sub- 
lime march of invincible civilization. Agriculture has less direct 
influence upon the wealth and power of a nation than commerce, 
but it is most conservative of the highest national weal. Minds 
engaged in the latter pursuit are more active and acute, more in- 
clined to seek after new discoveries and such inventions as most 
favor zealous enterprise ; hence, nearly all great material improve- 
ments have been made by the mechanical, manufacturing, and com- 
mercial classes. Their minds are fuller of schemes and projects, 
often ill-digested ; and they have more energy, but less stability of 
character, usually, than agriculturists. They are more daring, but 


less safe ; their operations, unlike the salutary effects of bucolic 
toil, frequently partaking of the character of gambling speculations. 

Most of our colonies were planted by commercial companies, 
and primarily depended on commercial gain for their chief support. 
But as our national resources and dangers have multiplied, very 
fortunately the conservative power of the rural populations has pro- 
portionatley increased ; so that at the present moment of peril, the 
mighty palladium of our Republic lies along the magnificent ex- 
panse of our western agriculture. 

The propulsive energies and ennobling tendencies of this age and 
nation consist mainly in its mechanical, mining, and manufacturing 
industry, as the main feeders and conservators of its commerce. 
These lead to mental activity and independence, enterprise and in- 
ventions which contribute to the largest measure of productive 
results, and most ameliorate the various conditions of life. Had 
we long been limited to the narrow area of the original thirteen 
colonies, the preponderance of the commercial spirit would proba- 
bly have ruined us ; but happily the maritime coast around the 
little East, extended as it may appear, is vastly exceeded by the 
widening dominions of agriculture opened in the great West, whose 
inexhaustible richness guaranties the perpetuity of our union and 
the supplies of our food. Thither millions are escaping from the 
old world, painfully recollecting how many small homes they have 
seen demolished, to make way for the exclusive parks and aristo- 
cratic mansions wherein they could find neither sympathy nor sup- 
port. But on the virgin soil where rugged emigrants build their 
cabins of content, the sense of property becomes the truest of 
magicians ; it is to them the consciousness of power, and the 
feeling of value in self-relying effort. Arthur Young well said, 
" Give a man nine years' lease of a garden, and he will turn it into 
a desert ; give a man entire possession of a rock and he will turn it 
into a garden." The vast basin of the Mississippi will soon be- 
come the paradise of republicanism, the chief fountain of amelior- 
ating civilization, and the central granary of the world. 

The first canal that was opened in the United States extended 
from Boston to the river Merrimac. The " Great Western" soon 
after was undertaken, and now the finest canals in the country 
connect the Hudson with the grand series of inland seas, and thence 


extend beyond the Ohio. The first railroad was also constructed 
at the eastern extremity of our republic, and was the beginning of 
a continuous thoroughfare of rock and iron which at this time ex- 
tends due west a greater length, and with more abundant profit, 
than can elsewhere be found on earth. The first steamboat was 
built in this city, and made her trial trip between the focal-point 
of universal maritime navigation and the predestined line of the 
grandest inland travel direct from east to west. As canal, rail- 
road, and steamboat were wanted, they were produced, exactly in 
the places and exigences best fitted to give them the widest and 
most salutary use. Neither Fulton nor Clinton dreamed of what 
gigantic results they were the incipient agents. Even Jefferson, 
who as unconsciously served the hidden purposes of Providence in 
the purchase of Louisiana, when told of the proposed artery of 
commerce which now winds like a thread of silver through this 
imperial Commonwealth, said that " it was a very fine project, and 
might be executed a hundred years hence." A hundred years 
hence ! What will science have done for our nation before that 
period shall have transpired 1 

The advanced races are always the goers, while the less advanced 
are the stayers at home. Therefore the improvement of locomo- 
tion is one of the first essentials in the progression of mankind, to 
clog wkich is not merely a crime against the individual, but against 
humanity itself. Man, aided by the facilities which mechanical 
engineering has provided, is armed with the powers of nature ; he 
has vanquished his opponent, and enlisted her forces in his service. 
Matter is no longer an impediment to oppose him, but the arsenal 
from which he draws his mightiest weapons and richest stores. 
Coal and water become concentrated forces, whose powers he may 
develop and control for the extension and improvement of his ter- 
restrial dominion. One single steam-engine constructed by me- 
chanical science, is of more real importance than all the powers of 
Rome, and a single printing-press than all the arts of Greece. 
They are more than mere instruments, they are prodigious powers, 
placed at human disposal. They are products of reason ; and just 
as that highest mental attribute learns to see further and further 
into the processes of nature, so does man by such means acquire 
new power for extracting welfare from the earth. When Humboldt 


would enumerate only a few of the instruments whose invention 
characterizes this great epoch in the history of civilization, he 
names " the telescope, and its long-delayed connection with instru- 
ments of measurement ; the compound microscope, which furnishes 
us with the means of tracing the conditions of the process of devel- 
opment of organs, which Aristotle gracefully designates as the 
formative activity of the source of being ; the compass, and the 
different contrivances invented for measuring terrestrial magnetism; 
the use of the pendulum as a measure of time ; the barometer ; 
hygrometric and electrometric apparatuses ; and the polariscope, in 
its application to the phenomena of colored polarization in the 
light of the stars, or in luminous regions of the atmosphere." 
Chemistry instructs us as to what and whence the metals are ; and 
from the grossest dregs elicits flaming gas, that great moralizer of 
modern cities, more powerful than an armed police. Mechanics and 
chemistry furnish us with an endless variety of substances, in com- 
binations infinitely diversified, all tending to give man more power, 
leisure, and comfort ; to make him, in fact, freer, and more elevated 
in his position on the globe. Instead of being the slave of phys- 
ical nature, science renders man its master, as the Creator intended 
him to be when he gave him an earthly dominion. 

An immense amelioration has taken place in the condition of 
modern society. Man has extended the limits of his life, has intel- 
ligently constructed circumstances less fatal to his organism, and 
has vastly diminished his liability to dissolution ; in fact, he has, to 
a certain extent, beaten the evils of the physiological world, exactly 
as he has vanquished the difficulties of the mechanical world. 
Better dwellings, clothing, and food; more abundant supplies of 
water and pure air, and prompt treatment under acute disease; 
inoculation and vaccination ; the improvement of prisons and work- 
houses, and a more rational mode of treating the human frame both 
individual and collective, has secured to civilized man a longer 
tenancy and happier use of terrestrial existence. Thus, the sciences 
not only lead to an amended order of action, but also to a condition 
amended and improved as well. And we confidently believe that 
the very same kind of improvements that have followed the mathe- 
matical and physical sciences will supervene upon social science, 
and achieve in the world of progressive man far greater and more 


beneficent wonders than have yet been achieved in the world of 
subordinate matter. 

Civilization was born on the banks of the great rivers of the 
East, and its grandeurs were first accumulated round the Mediter- 
ranean, under the sway of Greece and Eome. The mediaeval age 
enabled European nations to develop their ultimate energies on the 
border of the Atlantic, and, with ships vastly superior to the 
triremes of antiquity, to take possession of the immense expanse of 
oceanic billows. Coincident with the establishment of great com- 
mercial exchanges in this new world, that masterly monument of 
mechanical science, the Eddystone lighthouse arose on the line of 
all" progress, and guided the old powers and inert capital of Europe 
to improved enlargement and use in America. The great currents 
of the sea and trade-winds of heaven move westward alike and 
evermore. Science daily adds new capacities and momentum in 
aid of transportation. Young as we are as a nation, our boats, 
yachts, clippers, and steamships are the first in the world. The 
child of the East has become a man in the West, where oriental 
toys have expanded into colossal instruments proportioned to the 
occasions and efficiency of their requisite use. But no inventor is 
taken captive by his inventions here, however potent they may be. 
Every improvement lessens the impress of local character, and pre- 
vents a separation of the nation into distinct peoples. Petty cliques 
and transient conflicts may sometimes occur ; but deep in the pop- 
ular heart the great social country engrosses the profoundest 
regard, and entirely preponderates over the geographical country. 

The finest bricks are made on the western shore of Lake Michi- 
gan ; and the best materials for the manufacture of flint glass 
abound in Minnesota. Lead and copper of great purity and in 
astonishing abundance attract and reward industry beyond the 
grandest of inland seas ; and silver mixed with gold in fabulous 
profusion draws enterprise over the diameter of earth to explore 
nature's great storehouse along the Pacific shores. But better and 
more permanently profitable for man than all else of mundane 
wealth, are the more substantial treasures which are buried with 
inexhaustible richness on the terra firma route, preordained for 
ameliorated humanity to pursue from east to west. Coal and iron 
constitute the chief motor and metor of all physical improvement. 

8 C IE N C E . 399 

Like freedom, superior intelligence, and exalted moral worth, they 
are the special gifts of God to those who speak the English 
language, and will be found most copious in those remote regions 
where republicans are destined to be most free. 

As the prominent inventions of a people are the best exponents of 
their peculiar genius, and the clearest prophecies of prospective tri- 
umphs, so does the energy of their educational zeal indicate the 
measure and immediateness of their success. The successive de- 
partments of political and mechanical science we have severally 
considered above ; let us now give more particular attention to the 
science of education as exemplified in our land. 

All human progress, political, intellectual, and moral, is insepar- 
able from material progression, by virtue of the close interconnec- 
tion which characterizes the natural course of social phenomena. 
But the educational element must form the principal band of the 
scientific sheaf, from its various relations, both of subordination and 
of direction to all the rest. It is in this way that the homogeneous 
co-ordination of legitimate sciences proceeds to the fullest develop- 
ment, and for the widest ulterior influence on human destiny. The 
filiation and adaptation of all great discoveries for the popular good, 
affords a fine subject for grateful contemplation, and is the most 
exhilarating guaranty to the loftiest hopes. The general intellect, 
under the auspices of American freedom, now, and for the first time, 
is entering upon the age of ameliorating science. It is an advent 
to be hailed with chastened joy, and to be guarded by vigilant ex- 
pectation. In comparative anatomy it is well known that a Cuvier 
may determine, from a single joint, tooth, or other fragment of an 
animal, whose species had never entered human eye or imagination, 
not only its general configuration, size, family, and grade in the 
series of organic beings, but also its physiological constitution, its 
manners, its food, its climatic habitation, whether in the geography 
or the chronology of the globe. Even so equal knowledge of the 
analogous laws of symmetry and mutual dependence in the social 
system, eventually attainable, and to be applied to extant usages or 
disinterred relics, will enable its possessor, by a single specimen, 
accurately to fix the entire condition of the corresponding people on 
the scale of civilization. Tried by this criterion, what monuments 
of national mind may we not anticipate for the future, while we 


contemplate the results already attained by our brief but glorious 
past. As the greater Newton succeeded the great Kepler, and was 
in turn followed by La Place, who explained the physical counter- 
part of his predecessor's theory by the law of gravitation imper- 
fectly understood by its own discoverer, so do we believe that the 
inductive method re-established by Francis Bacon will be consum- 
mated in our central clime, amid greatly increased splendors, by 
the mental manhood of the twentieth century. 

The great prophet of science to whom we have just referred, 
lived mostly in the future, and in his last will he left " his name 
and memory to foreign nations and to the next ages." He had 
crossed the Atlantic, whose storms men had penetrated for ages 
without perceiving the fair omens of progress, but in the confidence 
of his prophetic intuition he gave the name of Good Hope to the 
headland he had reached ; as Magellan, when he beheld the bound- 
less expanse of waters in another direction, called it the Pacific. 
The seeds which Bacon sowed have here sprung up, and are grow- 
ing to a mighty tree, and the thoughts of millions come to lodge 
in its branches. Those branches spread " so broad and long, that 
in the ground the bended twigs took root, and daughters grew 
about the mother tree, a pillared shade high overarched, and echo- 
ing walks between ;" walks where Literature may hang her wreaths 
upon the massy stems, and Art may adorn that Religion, of which 
Science erects the hundred-aisled temple. The preparation made 
for the present age, and the high anticipations entertained by the 
last and wisest of its precursors, is set forth as follows near the 
close of his Advancement of Learning : " Being now at some 
pause, looking back into that I have past through, this writing 
seemeth to me, as far as a man can judge of his own work, not 
much better than that noise or sound which musicians make while 
they are tuning their instruments ; which is nothing pleasant to 
hear, yet is a cause why the music is sweeter afterward : so have I 
been content to tune the instruments of the muses, that they may 
play who have better hands. And surely, when I set before me the 
condition of these times, in which Learning hath made her third 
visitation or circuit, in all the qualities thereof as the excellency 
and vivacity of the wits of this age the noble helps and lights 
which we have by the travails of ancient writers the art of print- 


ing, which communicateth books to men of all fortunes the 
openness of the world by navigation, which hath' disclosed multi- 
tudes of experiments and a mass of natural history the leisure 
wherewith these times abound, not employing men so generally in 
civil business, as the states of Greece did in respect of their popu- 
larity, and the state of Rome in respect of the greatness of her 
monarchy, the present disposition of these times to peace, and the 
inseparable propriety of time, which is ever more and more to dis- 
close truth I can not but be raised to this persuasion, that this 
third period of time will far surpass that of the Grecian and Roman 

In 1647 the Plymouth colony of Massachusetts passed an Act 
" that every township of fifty householders should appoint a person 
to teach all the children to read and write, and that every township 
of one hundred families should support a grammar-school." 

In the following year (1648) the Legislative Assembly of the 
colony of Connecticut, passed a statute in relation to education of 
very nearly the same purport as that passed in Massachusetts. The 
Puritans of New England entertained the same opinion as the 
Presbyterians of Scotland, that education is necessary to the per- 
formance of religious duty ; and the former seem to have borrowed 
their ideas and system of education substantially from the latter. 
This was the foundation of the system of common-school education, 
which was adopted in the State of New York in the early part of 
the nineteenth century, and has been more recently adopted in 
nearly all the free States. While no effort has been made to give 
the whole population of England a common-school education, and 
Parliament persists in discouraging such an undertaking, our newest 
western States even exceed New England in their educational zeal. 

The first college in America was founded on the eastern edge of 
Plymouth colony, and has been succeeded by a series of rivals 
stretching due west, so rapidly and widely multiplied in numbers 
and patronage, that now the new States possess richer advantages 
for learning than the old. A self-educated seaman, born in the 
same region of rock and ice, was the first to translate and publish 
with emendations the profoundest mathematical works of modern 
times ; and now there are successful aspirants after like distinction, 
whose towers of science stand reflected on the banks of the Ohio, 


casting their shadows still onward before the ascending sun. It was 
fitting that the most learned President of the United States should 
travel from Pilgrim Rock to the " Mount Adams" of westward 
empire, whereon he laid the corner stone of the only Observatory 
extant, which is sustained by popular subscription, and rendered 
renowned by private enterprise. In that " Queen City," which 
seems like a thing of yesterday, not only has the pendulum of Ga- 
lileo been made to measure the diameter of a single planet, but one 
of the most valuable inventions of this age, the astronomical clock, 
there first beat in its sublime reckoning of the universe. A printer 
born in Boston, was armed by Providence with paper and twine 
through which to draw harmless lightnings from the skies ; and a 
painter in New York, under the same heavenly guidance, and at 
the fitting time, charged the celestial messenger with a kindred 
burden of human intelligence, and dispatched it first from the cap- 
itol of our Union to instruct and ameliorate mankind. Coincident 
with the latter discovery, mechanical science in this great metrop- 
olis perfected a still more imperial civilizer, the steam power-press ; 
and now not an element of nature expands, not a conquest of sci- 
ence is matured, and not an inspiration of genius fulmines in the 
gloom of penury, or around the pinnacles of power, that the press 
does not gather all the aggregated excellence in subordination to 
its use, to enhance the benefactions of ennobling intelligence upon 
which it subsists. In Boston, ether was first applied to ameliorate 
the dreaded pain of surgical steel, to mitigate the bitterest physical 
pangs, and rob Death himself of half his spiritual terrors. In Cin- 
cinnati, the steam fire engine has just been added to other mighty 
conservative agents. As the general alarm aggravates midnight 
terrors, and the gains of a toilsome life are threatened by the re- 
morseless conflagration, glaring in lofty defiance to ordinary resist- 
ance, a tiny match kindles the ardor of invincible union between 
diverse elements in united opposition, and agitated crowds are 
soon awed into admiring silence, as the mighty flames are speedily 
drowned. One of our citizens has recently mapped the ocean of 
international commerce with all its old currents of power saga- 
ciously discriminated, and newly traced as the best channels of 
safety. Another, venturing where no predecessor had ever been 
has just returned from the regions of perpetual ice, to win the 


grateful applause of Christendom for the material wonders he dis- 
covered and the beneficent spirit he displayed. A clergyman of 
this city, for his researches in Palestine, was the first of four Amer- 
icans who, within the last fifteen years, have been decorated with 
the golden medals of foreign honors ; one of whom, on account 
of his explorations in the opposite direction, whither tends the 
greatest public good, has just been nominated to the highest secu- 
lar dignity possible on earth. 

The restless and insatiable activity of Americans in scientific 
research and moral heroism, was finely personated by Ulysses 
of old. Sick of Ithaca, Argos, Telemachus, and Penelope even, 
the old and indomitable mariner-king panted for untried dangers 
and undiscovered lands. His purpose was " to sail beyond the sun- 
set, and the baths of all the western stars, until he died." Thus ac- 
tuated, man is lifted to a higher platform of observation whence he 
may read the book of gemmed pictures illuminating his nights, and 
revealed to fill his soul with an inspiration more grand and inspir- 
iting than any terrestrial object can communicate. It is the le- 
gitimate and appropriate sequence of the new revelations of modern 
science, and is designed more and more to render the master of 
earth free of the universe. In his heavenly Father's house are many 
mansions, and these with all their expansive marvels are unfolded 
in salutary enlargedness, in order that their predestined possessor 
through a corresponding education in their presence, may ex- 
pand his spirit till it shall become approximatively unbounded in a 
creation without bounds. The telescope, the compass, the press, 
the locomotive, and the telegraph, have in succession, and with 
vastly increased degrees of power, infused into the heart of human- 
ity a sense of freedom, and in that influence their chief benefaction 
consists. Each new province annexed to the magnificent domain 
of present knowledge points more clearly to still richer provinces be- 
yond ; and on the remotest border of all, human immortality and in- 
finite progress are most legibly inscribed. " Forward" and " forever" 
are exhortations not only vocal in the music of the spheres, but 
are repeated to the adventurer by the remotest billows, and quicken 
the passion for profounder investigation in the darkest depths. 

The regulator of the steam-engine was invented in Massachu- 
setts, where also originated most of the superior cotton and woolen 


machinery now generally employed. The locomotive was there 
entirely re-cast, and immensely improved. When the perfected 
" iron horse" thence advanced, surmounted by that indigenous em- 
bodiment of democratic huzzas, the steam whistle, " Young Amer- 
ica" was just beginning to go ahead. When in the laboratory of 
the University in this city, the sun-picture was first invented, simul- 
taneously with the labors of Daguerre, the same promising youth 
was favored with a glance of what he is yet to be. And when 
that first telegraphic message, " What hath God wrought !" was let 
fly with the lucid freedom of lightning, Young America, standing 
on the summit of six thousand years, and born to renovate the 
race whose final destiny he represents, had then, indeed, begun to 

A comprehensive view of political, mechanical, and educational 
science in our country will teach us that the mightiest minds are 
more and more compelled to serve the masses ; and that the most 
enormous outlay of capital in either ponderous or exquisite pro- 
ducing agents, is all in favor of the undistinguished populace, and 
not for the special advantage of a select few. The most subtle and 
refined machinery, for example, is not applied to the most delicate 
and elegant kind of work, such as gold and silver, jewels and em- 
broidery. These luxuries are mainly executed by hand, while the 
most expensive machinery is brought into play where operations on 
the commonest materials are to be performed, because these are 
executed on the widest scale. Such is especially the case when 
coarse and ordinary wares are manufactured for the many. This 
is why such a vast and astonishing variety of artificial power is 
used in our country and age. The machine with its million fingers 
works for millions of purchasers, while in lands less free, where 
magnificence and beggary stand side by side, tens of thousands 
work for one. There Art and Science labor for princely aristocrats 
only ; here, the great mass of the people are their chosen and most 
munificent patrons. 

All great workers, and the improvements they originate, find 
their legitimate use only in the enunciation of great truths for the 
popular good. Thus it is that the relation of men to each other and 
to the whole world is progressively changed, and that always in the 
direction of increased equality. The universal mind receives sim- 


ultaneously the impression of each new idea ; it imprints itself 
upon domestic institutions, infuses itself into literature, reconstructs 
political formulas, and in some measure both impels and controls 
the religious life. It has lately been proved that the whole earth 
is a magnet, and all mental achievements in our day tend to ren- 
der the domain of American civilization one immense university 
of science. At each remove toward western freedom, progressive 
man has shown his mastery by compelling all the elements to help 
create and grace his triumphs. The waters turned from their 
courses to move his mills ; the sportive zephyrs and angry winds 
imprisoned in his sails ; the flying vapor taken captive to whirl his 
myriad of spindles, or send the " Iron Missionary" tramp, tramp 
over the earth, splash, splash across the sea ; the soft light he makes 
ministrant to the dearest joys, depicting by it the portrait of ten- 
derest love ; and the latent flame which sings along the wires by 
lines of railway ; all alike and together prophesy of mightier and 
better things to come. 

Facilities of knowledge are the auspicious means of transfusing 
into the soul those ideas which are the tools vouchsafed to shape 
the destiny of our race. The dynasty of a new thought is much 
more glorious than the pedigree of old kings ; and the future of 
free America will infinitely transcend in worth and well-doing all 
the arbitrary dignities and adventitious splendors gone by. 

The machinery of production in America is already greater than 
that of England. Our twenty-three millions of citizens produce a 
larger amount of valuable staples, while they build twice as many 
houses ; make twice as many roads ; apply three times more labor 
in the improvement of land ; build four times as many school- 
houses and churches ; and print ten times as many newspapers. 
We have laid the foundation of a pyramid whose base is a million 
of square miles, studded all over with innumerable little communi- 
ties, each one of which occupies space sufficient for a large one, 
with its academy, or its college, its journals, bookstores, and libra- 
ries, all aiding to give to the superstructure a magnificence propor- 
tioned to the breadth and stability of its base. Among the more 
western States, not less than in the eastern, there is universal activ- 
ity and intelligence. It is safe to repeat that the commonwealths 
recently organized have more and better printing-presses, and con- 


sume more well-read paper; that they have more commodious 
school-houses, and more scholars in them ; more churches, and 
more devout Christians in them ; more well-selected libraries, 
and more thoughtful readers in them, than any other nation on 

What our future may become, our brief past will best suggest. 
"We know that however high we may ascend the course of history, 
we see, not in each or any particular people, but in the human 
family as a whole, an uninterrupted endeavor to enlarge the bound- 
aries of knowledge always progressive ; so that, from the obscurity 
of earliest time, we arrive step by step to modern science, more 
certain, more extended, and more prolific, in practical results than 
was ever known in preceding ages. This progress is proved by 
the sovereignty which man has successively acquired over nature, 
subordinating to his will her most energetic forces, and compelling 
them to accomplish the highest ends in the surest manner. We 
see what the earth, transformed in an immense portion of its best 
surface, has become under his hand. He subdues the "billows, 
traverses seas, and his invincible thought, aspiring to still sublimer 
empire, makes his necessities to be served by the stars which vainly 
flee in the deserts of space. 

From the survey which has been taken above of the spreading of 
ameliorating empire in the great West, it is evident that its central 
throne must soon rest on the granite heights beyond the great 
lakes, near the sources of the mighty Mississippi. Thither the free 
and brave millions are fast gathering, whose noble progeny will 
people the entire continent, and bless the world. The denizens of 
those wealthy regions, and the patriots of those happy times, will 
be both intelligent and brave beyond precedent, in conserving the 
republican institutions they have received to perfect and perpetuate. 
The sentiment of the great man of the extreme East, will be best 
appreciated, and most sublimely exemplified, in proportion as it 
sweeps with the sun from the horizon of its origin, and, from the 
loftiest Rocky Mountains, resounds simultaneously from ocean to 
ocean, the profoundest sentiment of undivided peoples, " Liberty 
and union, now and forever, one and inseparable !" 



HUMAN history is a perpetual exodus, and its promised land lias 
ever been in the West. Bondage to escape, seas to cross, miracles 
to witness, conquests to win, a wilderness to traverse, and a Goshen 
to attain, institutions to create, and all the seeds of a newer and 
nobler civilization to propagate, ever has been, is now, and ever- 
more will be, the destiny and recompense of our race. 

Greece collected the materials of ideas for the work of universal 
civilization, Rome consolidated a heterogeneous mass from every 
department of thought, and our Teutonic ancestors put all anterior 
results into generalized systems, preparatory to the ultimate per- 
fection of civilized society on this continent and throughout the 
world. We are perfecting the last republic possible in space, ending 
the girdle of the globe we were created to redeem. As remote as 
is our comprehensive sphere from the beginning of historic devel- 
opment, we are indissolubly linked to the one divinely identical 
purpose. Our Union constitutes the final member of an association 
truly majestic and holy, the design of which is to elevate all classes 
and conditions of men to the utmost heights of wisdom and worth. 

The nations are not destined to find a precarious calm in their 
degradation. They can never be subjugated by force, even should 
their volitions be chained for a season, while their sentiments are 
enervated in the service of the licentious. The great law of human 
progress will not long permit its apathetic subjects to be passive 
and niute spectators, impelled, like a vile horde, from one power to 
another. Revolutions will multiply, and, at the same time, become 
less and less calamitous, until all subjects shall become citizens, no 
longer excluded from political equality and moral improvement. 
No enterprise shall then be interdicted to adequate skill, and no 


arbitrary action impede the pursuit of honorable gain. The popu- 
lar currency of opinion, law, and affection, must eventually be 
coined, and circulated in mutual confidence, and bear a premium 
in every land. Progress in human society is necessitated by its 
primary constitution. The social union of men, and their habitual 
communication with each other, produces a certain advancement 
of sentiments, ideas, and reasonings, which can not be suspended. 
This constitutes the march of civilizatioD, and the perpetual order 
of the day is forward! It leads us, necessarily, to successive 
epochs, sometimes peaceable and virtuous, and sometimes criminal 
and agitated, sometimes glorious, and at others, opprobrious ; and, 
according as Providence casts us into one condition or the other, 
we gather the happiness or the suffering attached to the age in 
which we live. On that our tastes, opinions, and habitual im- 
pressions, in a great measure depend. Transient events may mod- 
ify this law, but no finite power can wrest from society its varied 
progress. In this course of human development, the accompanying 
circumstances which most nearly assume the form of an exception 
are themselves so enchained as most strongly to corroborate the 
general rule. Taken as a whole, the race of Adam, enlightened or 
benighted, pursues a determined route, and accomplishes a pre- 
scribed progress, as do the stars. Now clear, and anon obscure, at 
one time slow, and at another rapid their apparent flight, nothing 
arrests the inevitable career, nor prevents the accumulative good. 
Letters shine, science advances, the arts are perfected, and splendors 
on every side are multiplied ; then arrives the moment when the 
opinions generally adopted, and the prevailing disposition of all 
leading spirits are in conflict with existing institutions. The crash 
of revolution resounds, and governments are overthrown ; forms of 
religion become obsolete, customs change, disorder reigns, and pro- 
longed suffering prostrates the people. At length the tempest ex- 
hausts itself, and calm is restored. The necessity of repose renders 
the populace docile for a season, and they lose the fiery zeal which 
at first characterized their newly conquered opinions. A new 
order of things becomes established upon a higher platform, in the 
tranquil enjoyment of which the happy inheritors forget the sor- 
rows of their fathers. Then begins a newer, if not a sadder ad- 
vance, which leads popular ideas again into conflict with existing 


institutions, whose overthrow results in yet wider catastrophes. It 
is thus that civilization, by vicissitudes of repose and agitation, more 
or less contiguous and saddening, conducts the nations to consum- 
mate perfection. 

Contempt toward mankind, doubt as to their virtues, and de- 
spondency with respect to their ultimate fortunes, recur but too 
often in the historians of philosophy. But it is more noble and 
more truthful never to despair respecting human weal, since it is 
only in the light of hope that we can trace a route for virtue and 
honor, in which an impulse may be given and a reward found for 
the brave, virtuous, and good. At the moment mediocrity com- 
plains of deepest gloom, genius is wont to perceive and proclaim 
the advent of ascending day, the fresh dawn of which rapidly 
develops the germs of all that is requisite to create a new world and 
invest it with transcendant charms. The decemvirs augmented 
their tyranny over Rome, until a particular event rendered the 
weight insupportable, and it was cast down. The British parliament 
despaired of rendering the nation happy under the domineering 
Stuarts, and the dynasty was changed. The American colonies 
found themselves oppressed by an arbitrary tax, and declare^ them- 
selves independent. Through a similar course of opinions, the 
sufferers in common arrived at a stage where the existing order of 
things needed to be overthrown. Fresh ardor and new activities 
seized upon and impelled all spirits ; each one was impatient under 
a common wrong, and ready to enter the battle for common rights. 
At such a crisis is manifested the maturity of a thousand remote but 
cumulative circumstances which bear in their bosom a salutary 
principle as mighty to soothe as to excite the pangs of its birth. It 
comes with an additional proof that the chain of national enthrall- 
ment is not unending or insufferable, but that the crimes of revolu- 
tions will decrease in proportion as their exciting cause is removed. 
Such was the series of struggles through which Greece bloomed in 
consummate beauty ; such was the convulsion which conducted 
Rome from crude republicanism to imperial grandeur, across the 
field of outrageous proscriptions and civil wars ; and such was the 
long commotion which the Europe of our day experienced in the 
establishment of reform : a bloody period which marked the passage 
from effete and oppressive institutions to the new order of things. 



In the year 1800, Lucien Bonaparte remarked, " We are stand- 
ing amid the grave of old and beside the cradle of new institutions." 
It was indeed true that the dawn of the nineteenth century beheld 
the world invested with a contrast the most striking and strange ; 
night and storm, day and calm, were clearly separated. Even 
Asiatic immobility was broken up ; and Egypt, the cradle of 
civilization, was rocked from side to side in the tempests of northern 
ambition. All the old powers of Europe were alarmed and ex- 
hausted by disorders without a parallel since the Roman empire 
sank in fragments beneath the crash of barbaric arms. The New 
World alone, happily isolated from the convulsed parent states by 
a wide expanse of waters, was permitted to develop in peace its 
primary elements of personal worth and national greatness. The sud- 
den summons of death had just removed him who was so justly desig- 
nated the " First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his 
countrymen ;" but sublimely through the universal gloom occasioned 
by such a bereavement, the sun of intelligence and philosophic free- 
dom rose clear and unchangeable above the tomb of Washington. 

Throughout the whole range of progressive philosophy, it will be 
found that there exists a constant and necessaiy harmony between 
cotemporary needs and knowledge. Each successive age produces 
its appropriate agents who in their own persons both resume the 
past and enlarge the future, by making a clearance in their sublime 
field, so as to reconstruct a broader and more brilliant system of 
ideas. The philosophy of the middle ages was distinguished for 
submission to authority other than that of reason, the overthrow of 
which vassalage it was reserved for the seventeenth century to 
inaugurate. In the eighteenth century, the sentiment of humanity 
was developed, consentaneously with mental independence, and 
thus a great step forward was taken in the philosophy of history 
and the history of philosophy. A sounder and more luminous 
psychology was originated which enabled thinkers guided thereby 
to render to themselves a reasonable account of what passes in self- 
consciousness, which is the visible scene of the soul. The Cartesian 
revolution came to illuminate the chaos of scholasticism, and 
Brucker led the mighty host of mental liberators who forever pre- 
vented philosophy from re-entering the medieval age. From east 
to west the ameliorating progress arose and spread with constantly- 


increased power and profit. As early as 1725, Vico, at Naples, 
demonstrated that the organic development of great transitional 
epochs, so manifest in the connected history of our race, contains 
proof of the divine supervision, and a higher manifestation of order, 
justice, and continuous advancement among men, than any argu- 
ment a priori can supply. Herder fortified this idea with a still 
more comprehensive grasp of intellect and illustration, which con- 
stituted him the founder of the philosophy of history. He took 
man as he is, the microcosm of the universe, and, by a higher 
philosophy, did much to escape the sensualism and shallowness of 
the eighteenth century. From the Romanic negativeness which 
prevailed till the opening of our age, Herder and his successors 
advanced into Teutonic positiveness, and began that order of recon- 
structive philosophy which now so happily prevails. Shem, with 
all his obsolete traditions, was superseded, and the universalized 
fabric of Japhetic thought arose to confer a greater good. France 
powerfully co-operated in the ameliorating endeavors of that mighty 
crusade of which Montesquieu was a patriarch and Condorcet a 
martyr. Leibnitz believed in the law of progress in all the con- 
cerns of life. The present, he asserted, was born of the past, and 
is pregnant of the future. The vision of general peace he regarded 
as a practical idea, and anticipated a universal language, from 
which eventually every trace of linguistic confusion would disappear, 
and the union of all hearts be consummated in the blending of 
harmonious speech. Descartes had entertained like views, and 
these earlier prophets of a lofty destiny were worthily succeeded by 
Pascal, who wrote as follows : " By a special prerogative of the 
human race, not only each man advances day by day in the 
sciences, but all men together make a continual progress, as the 
universe grows old ; because the same thing happens in the suc- 
cession of men which takes place in the different ages of an 
individual. So that the succession of men, in the cause of so many 
ages, may be regarded as one man, who lives always, and who 
learns continually. From this we see with what injustice we 
respect antiquity in philosophers ; for, since old age is the period 
most distant from infancy, who does not see that the old age of this 
universal man must not be sought in the times nearest his birth, but 
in those which are the most remote. They, whom we entitle 


Ancients, were indeed new in all things, and properly formed the 
infancy of mankind ; and since to their knowledge we have joined 
the experience of the ages which have followed them, it is in our- 
selves that is to be found that antiquity which we revere in others." 

England is constitutionally negative in philosophy, and was 
especially so during the desolate eighteenth century, while her best 
minds were driven westward over ocean to flame back from afar. 
But even then, so predominant was the idea of progress in the 
greatest promoter of philosophic " Learning," that " The Advance- 
ment" thereof was the spontaneous title given to his greatest work. 
Bacon was also author of the saying that " Antiquity was the youth 
of the world ;" a maxim afterward cordially adopted and learnedly 
illustrated by Dr. Price, the friend and correspondent of Turgot. 
To adopt imagery like that used by the great founder of the 
inductive method, if we hear little else than a dissonant screeching 
of multitudinous noises now, which only blend in the distance into 
a roar like that of the raging sea, it behooves us to hold fast to the 
assurance that this is the necessary process whereby the instru- 
ments are to be tuned for the heavenly concert. Chaos is under- 
going a perpetual curtailment of his empire, and eventually must 
be cast out of the intellectual, moral, and spiritual world, as entirely 
as out of the material. 

The epoch of Anglo colonization in America was one of philosoph- 
ical transition in Europe. Antiquated systems were decomposed in 
the old world, and another order, as auspicious as it was youthful, 
was constructed in the new. Such was the use which Providence 
made of that Cerberus of rationalism, Voltaire, whose school 
brought the doctrine of Spinoza, Hobbes, and Bayle to a stop at 
deism, on the ruins of the prevailing religious system. The mate- 
rialism of Locke easily degenerated into the dogmas of Helvetius, 
according to whom there is no mind extant, for matter is every 
thing, and who proved to the satisfaction of his age that selfish- 
ness, vanity, and gross enjoyments are the only true guides and 
rational ends of enlightened men; in fact, the only realities of 
human life. Thus, the way was fully prepared for the congenial 
spirit of Diderot boldly to proclaim the wish " that the last king 
might be burned on a funeral pile, composed of the body of the last 


Despairing of free thought and wholesome progress on the 
ancient fields of human development, the most aspiring minds and 
hearts of the philosophic world followed the mild splendors of the 
retiring sun, and laid their visions of a better destiny in the wilder- 
ness of America. Among those whose fond expectations were 
thither turned, even down to our own day, were Rousseau, Ber- 
nardin de St. Pierre, and Chateaubriand. But a greater and better 
philosopher than they, though equally imaginative, at an earlier 
period, came personally to our stormiest coast, and thereon planted 
the first elements of a lofty culture. George Berkeley left rich 
worldly emoluments on the western extremity of the old world, and 
voluntarily bore the quintessence of all its dialectical skill to enrich 
the eastern extremity of the new. From that day to this, the 
region of the primary fountain has ever remained the chief source 
of philosophical worth. Francis Wayland yet lives a near neighbor 
to Berkeley's retreat in Rhode Island, and is not remoter from " the 
minute philosopher" in time than in his ethical system ; but it was 
reserved for our great countryman to give America and the world 
a fitting climax to all preceding disquisitions in " Moral Science." 
Modern writers have differed much concerning the foundation or 
obligation of virtue. Hobbes placed it in political enactment; 
Mandeville, in the love of praise; Dr. Clarke, in the fitness of 
things ; Adam Smith, in sympathy for our race ; Grotius and Puf- 
fendorf, in the duty of improvement ; Hume and Paley, in personal 
utility; while Hutcheson, Cudworth, Butler, Reid, Stuart, and 
others, derive it from a moral sense or natural impulse to do right, 
implanted by the Creator. Repeated editions of the Moral Philos- 
ophy based on conscience, and other kindred works, first used in 
Brown University, and now adopted as hand-books in many educa- 
tional establishments in this and other lands, attest the high estima- 
tion in which the last and best expression of progressive philosophy 
is held. 

Nothing goes back every thing advances. Philosophy gained 
in passing from Asia into Greece, from Athens to Rome, and thence 
through the middle ages to modern times. The advancement 
made during the past sixty years abundantly indicates that the 
grand goal which Berkeley descried from afar, by a Pisgah-view on 
the border of the land he himself was not permitted to penetrate, 


will yet be triumphantly attained. Born of yesterday on our soil, 
an immense future lies before the career of philosophic thought 
toward the unbounded West; where, next to religion, the most 
exalted sphere is reserved for the indefinite expansion of her ame- 
liorating spirit. It is the destiny of this mighty moral agent to 
make the tour of the world, in following the physical movements 
of lands and peoples, correspondent with the governing epochs we 
have described. Having arrived at this ultimate centre of earth's 
fermentation and fruitfulness, philosophy, with all subordinate ele- 
ments of civilization, will prosecute the last stage of her journey, 
and return upon the mountains whence she originally descended, 
permitted at last to contemplate thence a world redeemed. 

But, in perfecting the grand restoration of society, let us first of 
all be convinced that time is the primary instrument to be em- 
ployed, and that successive generations must pass before the 
nations are fully prepared. Every thing under the sway of Provi- 
dence is developed through a progressive movement, which is con- 
tinued and regular ; a law whose application is universal, and never 
subject to a failure. No violence can for an instant hasten the 
growth of a blade of grass, much less can force accelerate the 
march of society. The impossible of to-day may become possible 
to-morrow ; but the movement must be natural, and then will the 
greatest speed, as well as most enduring safety, be found in the 
deepest and broadest current. It is the manifest will of God that 
mankind should be concentrated in one uniform march of progres- 
sion, found only and evermore in the development of that liberty 
which is essential to all human beings. The common mind may 
not be the axe which hews the throne down to a block, but it is 
the handle without which the axe is of little use. Before common 
rights come to be a common possession, the people may be yet 
more persecuted and tormented, but they will never be conquered. 
Every great cause triumphs only at the expense of grand sacrifices. 
The highest liberty exacts the noblest martyrs, who descend into 
the dungeon, or expire on the cross, but their agony is transformed 
into balm for universal wounds, and their death brings life to the 
nations at large. 

In all lands, and all epochs, the privileged classes, jealous of the 
advantages they possess, constitute themselves into a permanent 


war against the mass of the people whom they are ambitious to 
disinherit and oppress. Almost every page of history furnishes an 
example. Greece was not free from the curse ; and at Rome, it 
was exemplified in the conflict between the plebeian and patrician 
classes. In mediaeval times, the partially enfranchised communi- 
ties struggled against feudal arrogance ; and in our own day it is 
reproduced in the antagonisms which characterize the struggles of 
the conservative and progressive parties. The agents of evil love 
darkness and resist light. They can with comparative ease deprive 
men of their rights, if they can but prevent their knowing them. 
They must be degraded intellectually, in order to be kept in social 
degradation ; hence tyranny always brutalizes its victims as much 
as possible, that they may with impunity be treated as brutes. 
When force is allowed to begin the oppression, ignorance is the 
best auxiliary by which it is perpetuated. Among the many things 
which render despotism detestable is the absolute opposition it of 
necessity wages against human nature and its predestined perfection ; 
in which resistance it is obliged to repel light, augment gloom, and 
fight incessantly against truth, against goodness, against God. The 
primordial law of humanity is perpetually to know more, love more, 
and concur with a constantly increased efficiency in the universal 
realization of the progressively divine plan. 

As civilized society is the daughter of knowledge and freedom, 
nothing can be respected, which does not harmonize with this dou- 
ble source of her mission. It is not upon force that we subsist, but 
by a superiority produced through veneration, and that obedience 
which is the spontaneous submission of one will to another. It is 
the mutual action of mind identical in purpose. When the Spar- 
tans proposed in their hearts to die for the salvation of Greece, they 
inscribed this appeal on the rocky pass at Thermopylae : " Traveler, 
go tell the Lacedemonians that we fell here in obedience to their 
sacred laws." This was not the submission peculiar to a few 
heroes, but was demanded for the salvation of a whole people ; it 
was the voice of a whole people, living as well as dead, and there was 
not a soul in the republic which would not have responded to the 
soul of the three hundred. 

As bishop Butler suggested, nations may get mad as well as in- 
dividuals, but in their wildest frenzy thev usuallv produce works and 


speak words superior to any thing attained by their predecessors. 
The most authentic and binding record asserts that " God hath 
made of one blood all nations who dwell upon the face of the 
earth ;" and the obdurate who dare not or will not believe this 
truth may find it verified when all their gushing veins mingle in a 
common retribution. The great Father never formed the limbs of 
his children to be chafed with fetters, nor their faculties to wither 
in gloom. Action that is enforced regardless of freedom, is like 
the relation of a brute to the fierce rider upon his back, or the tin- 
gle of a lash to the skin of a slave. For all such, the lowliest as 
well as the loftiest, was vouchsafed the intellectual sun which illu- 
mines every man who comes into the world. It will never descend 
beneath the horizon, neither can any clouds long obscure it, but 
augment its effulgence rather. In the accumulated heritage which 
each generation gathers from its precursors, nothing is accepted 
that has not life. For this reason, the progress of society is con- 
tinual, however slow sometimes ; and this progress, which compri- 
ses all the conquests made by man through the principal branches 
of ameliorating civilization, is in fact a succession of triumphs over 
ignorance, and will end not merely in the gain of a battle but in 
the complete success of the war. 

Revolutions are the sudden explosions of slowly aggregated facts, 
often brought about by some particular occasion, but seldom or 
never premeditated by any one man, system, or party. They re- 
sult from a general and spontaneous feeling that liberty is not less 
necessary to the moral, than to the political, perfection of a people. 

Hence the prodigious shock that was given to the world, when 
the colossus of American independence, rending from his limbs the 
chains imposed by monarchical power, stood erect in the full posses- 
sion of inalienable rights, and went forth to emancipate mankind. 
As heterogeneous metals dissolve and amalgamate anew in the 
white heat of a furnace, so under the burning breath of colonial 
eloquence all the settlements of the Atlantic coast blended in the 
aspirations of one spirit, and contended for civil and religious free- 
dom a a common boon. The great hero whose name it is one of 
the numerous glories of the present age to bear, was the visible 
destiny of his day, and invincible in his genius, like the new ideas 
of which he was the champion. 


Washington established firmly and forever that principle of rep- 
resentation, which is the political glory of the Teutonic race ; and 
which was destined, under the brilliant skies of this newly discov- 
ered continent, to create and control a republican confederacy, 
outrunning all preceding empires, and, unlike them, not founded in 
the subjection of particular classes, but oa the enjoyment of equal 
and universal rights. The structure of nature, and the conquests 
of truth together indicate the direction and accelerated surety with 
which this sublime purpose is becoming realized. All the historic 
lands of antiquity, massed in a huge group of continents, barely 
extend through similar climatic zones ; while America alone tra- 
verses every clime of earth, abounds in every variety of natural 
phenomena, and is most profuse in all sorts of valuable produc- 
tions. The plains of the Amazon and of the Mississippi, compared 
with those of Siberia and Sahara, show the natural contrast and 
indicate the divine design. God has made the southern extremities 
of the two hemispheres little, pointed, and barren, while they grow 
broader toward the north, and teem most abundantly with mate- 
rial and mental wealth in the west. 

As we have shown in respect to the occidental advancement of 
other civilizing elements, it was appropriate that the first fountain 
of philosophic wisdom among us should be opened in the oriental 
metropolis of New England, and that all modifying theories for a 
while should thence be derived. That wise people, like their 
fathers, until recently seemed content with the metaphysics of the 
sensations, and were accustomed to assume for fundamental princi- 
ples, as a primary basis, truths obtained only through the judgment, 
by means of the observation of external phenomena. But philos- 
ophers have happily receded from that narrow view, and are 
beginning to perceive that this species of insight never ascends to 
the supreme order of truth necessary and absolute. They are in 
fact only conclusions deduced from sensation, and are capable of 
being or not being, according as the exterior objects are presented 
under one aspect or another. But the generic and immutable princi- 
ples of freedom, art, science, and morals, in no sense find their source 
in the deductions drawn from external objects and attributes ; they 
rest entirely on those primitive and necessary ideas which form part 
of the soul, and originate anterior to all reflection or comparison. 



This more spiritual philosophy spreads luminously with expanding 
day, and promises to be perfected near the meridian of high noon. 
As communications become facile, rapid, and extensive among men, 
isolated causes decrease in influence and philosophic truths are rap- 
idly fortified. Individual action is less perceived, while the masses 
swell and rise in importance. Opinions, like the sea, become clear 
and constant in proportion to their depth and free action. In no age 
or condition has human nature ever disinherited the faculties origi- 
nally given for justice, veracity, beauty, humanity and religion ; it 
never acts legitimately without cultivating these, by repelling the 
passions and obstacles opposed to their growth. 

The number of original thinkers constantly increases, and it is 
this progress which mortifies presumption, while it justifies hope. 
Philosophy does not dampen literary enthusiasm, nor clip the wings 
of divine art, but follows in their flight, and measures both their 
object and powers. It is the history of this mastership in the 
realms of intellect which affords the light by which alone we can 
know and comprehend all other histories ; while its generalization 
contains not merely the most important truths, but all that can 
be strictly called truth. War may sometimes be inevitable, and 
is not to be regarded as the greatest evil, since it conduces to that 
succession of ideas which ministers to the perfection of human na- 
ture. Each victorious age endures for a time, and then passes 
away, to give place to a mightier and a better ; but humanity is 
superior to all epochs, outlives all, and is benefited by them. That 
society is already fatally sick which, instead of anticipating in the 
future an improved succession of the present, only fears its destruc- 
tion. Under the direction of Providence, great revolutions are 
more and better than the mere shifting of scenery on a stage ; not 
only do they give an electric shock to the spectators, and quicken 
their intellectual energies for the hour, but they also effect substan- 
tial good by creating an enduring change. But fortunately the 
chief battles of our age are moral rather than martial. A spiritual 
music prevails over the wildest tempests, crying Peace. Reason 
carries a white flag which she will plant on the central mountains 
of America, and bid it wave on free breezes as the banner and 
blessing of the world. 

Popular education renders a people morally incapable of adopt- 


mg any other than republican institutions. The qualities which 
belong to high culture, and which may be dangerous when confined 
to a few, are of unspeakable advantage when dispersed among the 
many. Demagogues are disarmed, when constituents are enlight- 
ened. The tendency, in every thing connected with the knowledge 
or interests of man in our country and age, is to derive light from 
every quarter, in one consistent and comprehensive scheme of 
thought. The literature and philosophy of the age now transpiring 
superabound in vast materials for progress, accumulated in all past 
time, and which render it probable that we are on the eve of an 
intellectual transition, similar to that of the seventeenth century, 
but on a vastly higher and broader scale. Never was there a com- 
bination of all human knowledge in a more complete and systematic 
form ; nor has any preceding epoch been so remarkable for the 
manner in which it has contributed to investigate, define, and 
establish the principles of philosophy as a science. And it is our 
joy that the " finality" is not yet reached. Every to-day announces 
some new victory, which is the sure forerunner of a better achieve- 
ment to-morrow. It was once said to the great Napoleon, " Sire, 
your son must be brought up with the utmost care, in order to be 
able to replace you." " Replace me !" he replied : " I could not 
replace myself; I am the child of circumstances." He felt that 
the power lent him was for a given purpose, up to an hour which 
he could neither hasten nor retard, and that when his mission was 
accomplished it could never be repeated. When a social trans- 
formation has become necessary, vitality abandons the superseded 
and transports itself into a new vehicle of progress, augmenting 
and fortifying that which is already a felt need, and openly de- 
manded by the enlarged wants of a more advanced age. A higher 
sagacity requires then that we disregard the inferior offshoots of a 
past growth, and apply ourselves only to second the perfect devel- 
opment of that indestructible germ whose true worth is seen only 
in its matured fruit. To restrain the future by the past, is to mingle 
death with life ; it is to violate all the laws of nature, and conse- 
quently to create social misery just so far as mankind are thus 
diverted from their legitimate career. If we transpose the order 
of Providence a moment, and place the highest perfection in antiq- 
uity the most remote, or allow that a greater good lies behind the 


present hour, all philosophical laws are instantly inverted, and we 
can arrive at nothing but chaos to support a supposition so absurd. 
When Camillus besieged the city of Falerii, a schoolmaster 
offered to betray the children of the people into his hands, and 
secure for him the conquest of the city ; and the magnanimous 
Roman caused the miscreant to be scourged to his dwelling by the 
children he sought to betray. Thank God, that is the spirit of our 
own Great West ! Earth never bore such mighty billows of patri- 
otic intelligence as are now bounding from the Atlantic to the 
Pacific shores. It is on this immense area, and with enhanced 
glories near the now wilder regions > that the grandest humanitary 
work of philosophic amelioration under heaven will be performed. 
The hardy pioneer, free as the air he breathes, and fervid as the 
flames he kindles to enlarge and render fruitful the precincts of a 
happy home, feels that a vast difference exists between himself and 
irrational creatures. The progress of a brute, purely individual 
and limited within fixed bounds, never extends to its species, they 
being immutably stationary ; while the human race, like the in- 
dividual, perfects itself by a continuous development. In this 
august privilege man has opened before him a career as vast as the 
duration of time, and beyond that is presented the fullness of that 
great end he was created to attain. Whenever human society 
arrives at a condition wherein it can not perfect its progress, it must 
dissolve, in order to renew and establish a fresh and firm founda- 
tion which no longer reposes on the past. But no dissolution 
between the earlier members of our confederacy is possible in the 
presence of the great conservative energies latent in the newer 
States. Their numerical preponderance is one guaranty of national 
perpetuity, but their superior love of untrammeled thought is the 
greatest and best. It is in the far West that mental heroes will 
arise, who, from a comprehensive analysis of history, will elaborate 
the thread which is needful to conduct us through the labyrinth of 
revolutions, systems, and schools. Borne on the wings of divine 
inspiration, they will hover above all the peculiarities of eras or 
sects, to comprise in one all harmonizing generalization, not the 
actual merely, but the possible also, and the manifestly designed, 
which embraces in one vast idea, God, man, the universe, and uni- 
versal amelioration. 


We have said above that time is the first great requisite in exe- 
cuting the high behests of humanity. Let it here be added that 
the intervention of civil power, or arbitrary constraint in any form, 
so far from expediting human improvement, will retard it indefi- 
nitely. No reform is real and enduring, save as it is the fruit of 
profound persuasion. It works a change, not in the relations of 
things, but in the conditions of intelligence. Above the ruins of 
obsolete civilization, then, let us elevate the sacred flambeau of im- 
mortal truth so high, that it may shine upon all eyes, and diffuse 
its effulgence through the mists of error everywhere, to reclaim 
wanderers from their deceptive paths. This noble and pacific con- 
quest through the agency of divine philosophy, will, step by step, 
cause all nations to assume the places assigned them by the Cre- 
ator, in the most perfect of cities, under the most perfect laws. The 
exalted enterprise, committed by Jehovah to those of his people 
who possess the richest harvest of his gifts, accumulated for our 
use in the instrumental salvation of our race, will gather from the 
extremes of vassalage and ignorance a sublime unity, at once the 
source and perfection of that wisest freedom which is realized in the 
liberty of the children of God. 

Every emancipation that is reasonable, and therefore enduring, 
implies the previous acquisition of mental illumination and moral 
force sufficient to render their possessor competent to enter the so- 
ciety of the free. If this condition is neglected from personal con- 
siderations, and with fanatical intent, the premature enterprise will 
end in the destruction of its presumptuous leaders as its first vic- 
tims. It is the fable of Orpheus or Prometheus unhappily realized. 
The general law of right is eternal and unchangeable ; the particu- 
lar claim to the benefit thereof must be admitted as soon as there 
is a capacity for its exercise. All laws, customs, and institutions 
which array themselves against the genius of progressive improve- 
ment are fetal to the people whose material energies they petrify, 
and whose spiritual aspirations they destroy. Whatever in man 
becomes actually stationary, begins that instant to decay, and the 
charnel-house presents the only recommendation such conservatism 
can claim. Races and nations so circumstanced speedily resemble 
those cities of the desert whose dusty ruins serve only as the fright- 
ful lair of vermin the most ferocious and abject. It is a great 


waste of cotton and sweet gums to embalm the dead on this side 
the globe ; we had much better spend those and other like com- 
modities in promoting the welfare of the living. It is equally use- 
less to resist the flow of waters, the budding of trees, and the 
growth of plants in unfolding spring ; in the name of winter to 
protest against the fecundity of nature, while the sun is ascending, 
and moist zephyrs re-open in her bosom all the sources of life. 

The immense work of universal regeneration through the agency 
of righteousness and love has already commenced, and must pro- 
ceed. Until its complete triumph, there will be no repose, because 
until that consummation, humanity can not cease to suffer. But 
the inevitable day hastens on, when the people will have but one 
will and one action, as they are actuated by one interest only, and 
its dawn will be the advent of universal joy. Let us not fear, but 
labor with cheerful courage, since for the attainment of an end so 
magnificent, no exhausting toil should be denied. What better 
employment for the few days allotted us on earth ? If sometimes 
we suffer lassitude in our repeated endeavors, let us raise our eyes 
with our hearts, and contemplate at once the omnipotent decree 
which insures final success, and the ennobled generations who hail 
their benefactors from afar. After long ages of servitude, be cer- 
tain that the people will arise, brave and powerful to sweep away 
the contracted boundaries within which they have been so long 
packed, and will demand all those rights which have been wrested 
from them by iniquitous laws. Then will open a new era to abused 
humanity, when God will recognize and bless the noblest of his 
creatures, man, for he will then have entered upon the way which 
from eternity had been assigned. Equality and liberty, become for 
the people a sacred dogma forever affirmed in the common reason 
and conscience, will then effectively realize itself in the comprehen- 
sive social organizations and philosophical perfection it will spon- 
taneously create. 



SACRED literature constitutes the most vivid testimony one can 
consult respecting the course of the human mind, its phases, prog- 
ress, eclipses and illuminations ; the influence of moral systems, 
national governments, and popular customs ; the character of diver- 
sified races, the knowledge ^>f the past, and the hope of the future. 

The sensibility of pagan antiquity was more powerfully impressed 
with the perfectibility latent in creation than their intellect had the 
ability to discriminate, or their conscience to realize. At the best 
transition periods of literary and scientific excellence, in the con- 
claves of their divinities, they represented each god holding some 
musical instrument, thus denoting the exquisite and eternal harmony 
which pervades the universe. But true religion is not the mere 
enthusiasm of science which worships a great natural law, as one 
adores an element frozen into a vast ice-idol ; it is rectified intel- 
ligence beholding the almighty Father, palpable in the glorious 
creation as it beams all around, and sanctified affection especially 
exercised in devotion to the incarnated, atoning, and interceding 
Son, through the power and grace of the eternal Spirit. Montesquieu, 
in his Soul of Law, has noticed the fact, that Christianity, in fitting 
us for the felicity of the next life, creates the chief happiness of this. 
Such exalted fruits are produced by divine redemption wherever its 
influence is diffused. For instance, despite the grandeur of the 
empire and the viciousness of the climate, it prevented the establish- 
ment of despotism in Ethiopia, and bore into the midst of Africa 
the legislation and refinements of Europe. Instead of such destruc- 
tion as was wrought by Timour and Gengis Kan, while they de- 
vastated the cities and tribes of Asia, or the perpetual massacres 
executed by the chiefs of Greece and Koine, the victories of the 


Cross leave to conquered nations such grand donations as life, 
liberty, law, refinement, and a religion which injures none but 
blesses all. Heavenly truth teaches man his duties by unfolding 
to him his destiny. It does not leave him unaided in secular 
academies, frigid universities, and pagan gymnasia, to vegetate in a 
brutal ferocity a hundred times more venomous than the savage 
state. Pure religion civilizes its subjects by nourishing them with 
truth, as well as with bread ; it ennobles them by aggrandizing the 
intellect and renovating the heart, thus imparting to the feeblest 
pupil formed in her school, more lofty and substantial philosophy 
than can be possessed by the most erudite worldly sage. Its pro- 
cess is of another sort, and directed to different ends than those 
contemplated by materialists who undertake to perfect the education 
of a people through evolutions rather than by instructions, placing 
in their hands a mute stone to facilit^e the increase of transient 
physical force, instead of inculcating those high lessons which to 
the soul give eternal life. 

The salvation of the social world depends upon personal and 
popular allegiance to Christ, from whom mankind, as a depraved 
race, are spiritually and politically detached. It is necessary by all 
means, that public institutions should be constructed on Christian 
principles, under that divine guidance which, blending things tem- 
poral with things celestial, leads both to a common centre and 
explains how coincident are authority and obedience, while it subor- 
dinates force to reason, to righteousness, and the knowledge of 
infallible truth. Until this end is attained, there can be neither 
peace nor content; for if the legislator, deceived in his design, 
establishes a principle different from that which is produced from 
the nature of things, the state will not ceasfe to be agitated until it 
is either destroyed or changed, and invincible justice reclaims her 
original empire. When the use of human faculties is controlled, 
but not confined, by the doctrines of Christianity which contain all 
truth, by the precepts and counsels which nourish every virtue, it 
tends incessantly toward the development of that intelligence and 
those sentiments which constitute moral perfection. It is thus that 
the heavenly influence acts without interruption upon popular 
literatures, arts, sciences, philosophies, laws ; and this unfolding of 
native capacities, which is never long arrested, forms the true prog- 


ress of those civilizing powers in their potent relation to Christian 
nations. If the divine preservative is withdrawn from a people, 
they immediately sink into barbarism, and one everywhere finds 
profoundly marked the traces of that true light which once shined, 
though the candlestick be now removed. If primitive faith is 
allowed to become adulterated, vague opinions will arise from the 
bosom of doubt and indifference, like the sterile clouds which float 
in a wintry sky, till night deepens and all is obscured. 

Herein is a great difference which distinguished the Christian 
religion from all anterior systems. In pagan antiquity, the master 
could, without internal trouble, possess his slave ; princes claimed 
to belong to a divine race, and the patrician felt that he and his 
plebeian neighbor were born far apart. This was revolted against 
more than complained of, as the benighted were actuated by natural 
indignation rather than by conscientious reason. But, under the 
gospel, within the oppressor, as in the oppressed, a heavenly voice 
evermore proclaimed the eternal fact that all are equal before God, 
and that justice is a boon and bond for all. Despite this ennobling 
principle, this sanctification of the human conscience, however, the 
advancement of mankind remained subordinate to the same rules. It 
was ever requisite that successive emancipations should be preceded 
by an adequate development of intelligence, and a corresponding 
elevation of moral sentiment. Freedom is a calamitous conquest to 
one not fitted to enjoy it. But under the instruction of the gospel, 
and by virtue of its power, the slave, the imbecile, the mendicant, 
and alien, become equals and brothers in common with the master 
and citizen, however unbounded may be his wealth and extensive 
his power. It is the second moral creation of humanity. The natural 
conscience thereby receives, as incontestable axioms, laws and 
obligations which in all preceding experience it never discovered in 
itself. It is meant by this that the application of these laws may 
become both easy and certain. The office of the Gospel is not to 
found a state or impart a code. It is addressed to man, whom it leaves 
in the exercise of free will. The light which each one brings upon 
earth, by the celestial message becomes more brilliant and divine ; 
but it is, and ever must be, more or less obscured by ignorance and 
perverted by passion. Absolute fraternity and immaculate charity 
we should not expect to become the law of the state ; they would 


then cease to be virtues. Our duty and perfection consist in causing 
them to control and diminish our imperfections. But in proportion 
as the spirit of the gospel is comprehensively exemplified, and 
obedience to its requirements is complete, earth, purified from dis- 
order, becomes the image of heaven, and is the sojourn of peace, 
innocence, and holy joy. The true happiness of man and the 
healthful tranquillity of states can be established and preserved only 
by the sacred worship of that religion which, in the energetic language 
of Tertullian, is " a second royalty." The same principle which 
places order in society by creating social power, gives order to the 
family by constituting domestic power. The two powers resemble 
each other, because the family is society on a small scale ; they are 
unequal, since society at large is a grand family wherein all indi- 
viduals are a homogeneous aggregate. But both alike emanate from 
the power of God from whose authority alone all fraternity is de- 
rived (Eph. iii. 14, 15). In the same manner, then, as the paternal 
government is identical with social power in the family, social 
power is the paternal government of general society : it is herein 
that we may find a reason for the immortality of power, and per- 
ceive why it is that the religion of Jesus Christ, being the container 
and communicator of all excellence, is the wisest and most beneficent 
civilizer on earth. Jurists and statesmen are beginning to acknowl- 
edge that all legitimate legislation comes from God, the Father of 
all just law, and that our multifarious libraries of conflicting and 
impotent statutes, born only of man, resemble a vast hospital of 
infant foundlings. A piece of inscribed paper, called a constitution, 
can never long exist and be of value, save as it is the exponent of 
intelligence, sound morality, and spiritual religion, together with 
the matured capacity of self-government based on these. 

The word " democracy" was invented two thousand years ago, 
but for many centuries the thing itself did not actually exist. It 
was in the country of the greatest of great men, and, at the open- 
ing of the most auspicious of the progressive ages, the country and 
age of Washington, that real practical equality was established, 
and that mainly by the power of reformed religion. A power was 
then inaugurated higher and better than that which ruled when 
the Greek Plato, Phrygian ^Esop, and Roman Epictetus, were 
bought and sold as slaves. Preceding nations and religions wero 


in due time excelled, and the mighty uccessor, in ascending the 
new throne of imperial equality, incorporated into herself all the 
most enduring and salutary attributes which could be derived from 
past civilizations, upon which a better progress, under these brighter 
skies, has so happily supervened. 

For the preparation of a race for such a destiny as is here en- 
joyed, it was necessary that they should at the outset burst those 
chains of political and ecclesiastical despotism, which priestcraft 
had forged and fastened around the human soul ; and how nobly 
did the first colonists perform this duty ! Bruce and Wallace at 
the head of the Covenanters, in Scotland ; Cromwell and Milton, 
Hampden and the Puritans, in England ; Washington and the war 
of American independence constituted one continued struggle for 
civil and religious liberty. Those fierce and fiery furnaces through 
which this selectest race fearlessly passed, were intended to purify 
and qualify them for the work of the latter days ; and the result 
is, that at this moment they are emancipated, and ready to con- 
tinue the functions of their Heaven-appointed office. The Bacons, 
Hookers, Miltons, Souths, Baxters, Howes, Taylors, and Owens, of 
the mother country, contributed the full aggregate of their best 
wisdom to enrich the commencement of our theology, and are not 
wanting in worthy representatives and improved disciples, among 
us at the present day. Without losing their depth, our age greatly 
excels theirs in breadth ; and if the few are less erudite, the masses 
are infinitely more enlightened. Diffusion, expansion, universality, 
is the great principle of American knowledge ; and it is this which 
distinguishes us above all other lands. 

Locke is sometimes represented as the first who asserted the 
doctrines of religious freedom ; but several preceding authors had 
expressed substantially the same views. Such in particular were 
Sir Thomas More in his Utopia ; some of the earlier Independents, 
or Brownists ; the incomparable Cudworth ; Jeremy Taylor in his 
Liberty of Prophesying, published in 1647; Dr. John Owen in a 
piece on Toleration, annexed to his Discourse before Parliament 
the day after the execution of Charles the First ; and Milton in his 
Treatise of Civil Power in Ecclesiastical Causes. But these left the 
work very incomplete. The mediaeval period had been a progress, 
but it became an impediment not easily displaced on the stage of 


its last and most formidable advancement. The English revolution 
was the grand event which terminated the seventeenth century, 
that heir of all foregoing epochs, and which superseded them with 
a divine commission to finish their imperfect endeavors. The two 
revolutions which arose in its bosom to close the historical career 
of the middle age, were only partial and incomplete. Both move- 
ments, the political and the religious, were local and, therefore, 
limited, because their principle lacked generality. But the Ameri- 
can revolution opportunely broke forth to universalize the ameliorat- 
ing germs which anterior institutions had conserved, so that their 
unchecked growth, and boundless propagation, became possible 
everywhere. The age of Leo X. then succumbed, and the age of 
Washington became the dawn of supreme freedom for the best 
good of universal man. 

The prophet Ezekiel prefaces his predictions with a striking de- 
lineation of human progress under divine guidance. A whirlwind 
and a cloud appear in the north, illumined with a brightness as of 
fire, out of which appears the likeness of four living creatures; 
each has four faces, four wings, and hands under their wings ; and 
the faces are severally like those of a man, of a lion, of an ox, and 
an eagle. Their wings are raised and joined one to another, and 
when they moved it was " straight forward," and they turn not as 
they go. By the side of these was a sphere, composed of a 
" wheel within a wheel," which also had four faces, was connected 
with the living creatures, and moved in perfect harmony with 
them ; was full of eyes, and its operations, though endlessly diver- 
sified, were harmonious in action, and one in purpose, for all were 
guided by one great, controlling Agent. The wheels had a perpet- 
ually onward movement, and so immense were they in circumfer- 
ence, that their " height was dreadful." And such is the providence 
of God, a scheme for executing destinies high as heaven, and en- 
during as eternity, vast in conception, sublime in results, and, like 
their Author, omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent. Another 
apt and beautiful emblem of the same sovereign disposal closes the 
sacred writings. As mediatorial King, the Lord Jesus Christ 
unrolls the mysterious scroll, radiant with the eternal purposes of 
Jehovah, the controlling of all events, and the overruling of vicis- 
situdes and revolutions of human affairs. As Matthew was symbol- 


ized by the man, Mark by the lion, and Luke by the ox, so he who 
was most intimate with the earthly presence of the Messiah, and 
who was elected to portray the final unfolding of the mighty re- 
demption, bore the eagle as indicative of his inspiration, and the 
foretokener of final supremacy. That bird of power has lighted 
on the banner of our Union, and with it will sail with supreme do- 
minion in the highest azure, till all glorious predictions are ful- 

Observe in what a remarkable manner the whole of North 
America was transferred into Protestant hands. New England 
early became an object of desire with France, and nothing seemed 
more probable at one time than that she would be the sole pos- 
sessor thereof. Bancroft records how, in 1605, De Mont " explored 
and claimed for France the rivers, the coasts, and bays of New 
England. But the decree had gone out that the beast of Rome 
should never pollute this land of promise, and it could not be 
revoked. The hostile savages first prevented their settlement ; yet 
they yield not their purpose. Thrice in the following year was the 
attempt renewed, and twice were they driven back by adverse 
winds, and the third time wrecked at sea. Again did Pourtrin- 
court attempt the same enterprise, but was, in like manner, com- 
pelled to abandon the project. It was not so written. This was 
the land of promise which God would give to the people of his own 
choice. Hither he would transplant the 'vine' which he had 
brought out of Egypt. Here it should take root, and send out its 
boughs into the sea, and its branches unto the river." At a still 
later period, a French armament of forty ships of war sailed from 
Chebucto, in Nova Scotia, for the purpose of destroying the nursery 
of that Puritanism which was destined to pervade this New World. 
News of the attempt occasioned a day of fasting and prayer to be 
observed in all the churches. While Mr. Prince was officiating in Old 
South Church, Boston, on this occasion, and praying most fervently 
that the dreaded calamity might be averted, a sudden gust of wind 
arose (the day till then had been perfectly clear) so violently as to 
cause the clattering of the windows. That was the waft of a tem- 
pest at sea, in which the greater part of the French fleet was 
wrecked. The duke and his principal general committed suicide, 
many of the subordinates died with disease, and thousands were 


drowned. A small remnant returned to France utterly confounded, 
and the enterprise of resisting Providence in this direction was 
abandoned forever. Malignity was rebuked, as the heathen had 
previously been driven out. A pestilence raged just before the 
arrival of the pilgrims, which swept off vast numbers of the In- 
dians, and the newly arrived pioneers of universal cultivation were 
preserved from absolute starvation by the very corn which savages 
had buried for their winter's provisions. Moreover, it should be 
here remarked that Lord Lenox and the Marquis of Buckingham 
were not permitted to succeed in establishing the colony which 
they attempted at New Plymouth. The hierarchy of England, as 
well as that of Rome, were foiled before the Independents had 
arrived, to whom the Court of Heaven had given the chief sway 
over this mighty empire of the prospective church. The historian 
of those times well observes : " Had New England been colonized 
immediately on the discovery of the American continent, the old 
English institutions would have been planted under the powerful 
influence of the Roman Catholic religion. Had the settlement 
been made under Elizabeth, it would have been before the activity 
of the popular mind in religion had conducted to a corresponding 
activity of mind in politics. The Pilgrims were Englishmen, Prot- 
estants, exiles for religion, men disciplined by misfortune, cultiva- 
ted by opportunities of extensive observation, equal in rank as in 
right, and bound by no code but that which was imposed by relig- 
ion, or might be created by the public will. America opened as a 
field of adventure just at the time when mind began to assume its 
independence, and religion its vitality." 

For three centuries, the selectest materials were preparing for 
their prepared work. From Wyckliffe proceeded a succession of 
dauntless advocates for the emancipation of the human mind from 
the power of despotism. The principles proclaimed by Luther and 
fortified by Calvin, were adopted from Huss and Jerome, the pupils 
of the great original hero of Oxford and Lutterworth. But as the 
" Morning Star of the Reformation" arose in western England, so 
did the full day dawn from a still remoter horizon, and Puritanism 
in eastern America was the Reformation reformed. The sifted 
wheat of the old world sowed the prepared soil of the new, whereon 
the best portion of the best nation then extant, came to realize the 


fond expectation of Columbus, concerning the continent he discov- 
ered, when, actuated by the spirit of prophecy, his adventures west- 
ward were urged mainly " by the hopes he cherished of extending 
here the kingdom of Christ." Independency was supreme from 
the beginning in Massachusetts, and the revolution hastened the 
spread of democracy in religion, as in politics, throughout American 
society. In those commonwealths where the aristocratic principle 
was still strong, as in Virginia, it was boldly assailed and com- 
pletely subdued. Entails disappeared, and the church lost its offi- 
cial rank in the state. Men everywhere began to feel that they 
must not longer be Jews of the ancient bondage to law, but Chris- 
tians under the new dispensation of grace ; not apostles of the past, 
but prophets of the future. 

All the great theologians of the American church have originated 
near where the first spiritual colony was planted, and have con- 
stantly spread their influence toward the West. In this department 
of high thought, as in every other professional walk, Europe often 
republishes original master-pieces from America, many of which 
are acknowledged to be the best ever produced. From New En- 
gland, too, has emanated every form of " liberal" doctrine, which 
has modified primitive sternness, and tended, perhaps, to develop 
more fully the wealth of that gospel which is full of grace and 
truth. Thus the seeds which Christianity has sown during eighteen 
centuries are successively springing up ; liberty to the enthralled, 
human amity, divine mercy, and equality to all. Its end is to 
spiritualize man, to animate all races toward the highest attain- 
ments, and cause the will of God to be done on earth as it is in 
heaven. In her mighty advance into the great heart of our land, 
Religion recognizes and authenticates the right of human souls to 
outstep the limits of the visible world, and to become regenerate 
and refreshed in the ideal of eternity. 

The immense immigration to our republic at the present time, is 
filling another notable page in the providential history of America. 
Had such infloodings of aliens occurred at any former period of our 
history, they would probably have ruined us. This heterogeneous 
mass now amounts to half a million annually, and would have been 
sufficient to crush our free institutions in their incipient state. But 
what might overflow a sapling, may only refresh the growth and 


mature the strength of a sturdy oak. The power of assimilation 
has happily become more potent than the influence of the most 
copious immigration. It was to this end that the facilities for 
oceanic transit were restricted, till the consequences of the greatest 
enlargement would not render their use unsafe. How profoundly 
should we admire that divine wisdom which has so graciously cast, 
the lines of our heritage, and measured out to us the responsibili- 
ties thereof ! Millions of the papal world are wafted to our shores, 
to be enlightened, elevated, Christianized, and taught the preroga- 
tives of freemen, to say nothing of the three millions of instruments 
placed in our hands by unrighteous bondage, to " sharpen, polish, 
and prepare for the subjugation of another continent to the Prince 
of Peace." 

From Adam to Augustus transpired the great process of prepa- 
ration, incarnation, and elementary diffusion of divine truth. While 
Japhet was proceeding to people more than half the globe, his 
progeny, Greeks, Romans, and English, successively advanced with 
accumulative efficiency to redeem the degenerate descendants of 
Shem. At length the predestined father of all ennobling civiliza- 
tion, in the persons of his selected children, took possession of the 
continent of America, and is now executing his most consummate 
work. To give the latest, and therefore the best, Japhetic elements 
a fair opportunity for undisturbed development here, God caused 
the preceding stock in western Europe to turn its commercial am- 
bition toward the East, where England now wields the sceptre over 
two hundred millions of the Shemitic race. Simultaneously with 
the growth of that gigantic secular power in British India, a few 
sons of New England, mighty in faith, conceived a still grander 
enterprise, and modern missions bore the blessed gospel to the most 
ancient and benighted lands. Young Japhet Christianized in repub- 
lican America, and marching with irresistible progress westward 
to join senior members of the civilizing household from the oppo- 
site point, according to Gen. ix. 2*7, " shall enlarge himself, and he 
shall dwell in the tents of Shem," taking Ham by the way. 

It is not the aim of the Christian religion to stifle the germs of 
individuality in man, but rather to disenthrall them from the crush- 
ing burdens with which they are overlaid by the lusts of the flesh 
and the vanities of life ; as was at the first exemplified in the strongly 


marked character of Peter and James, John and Paul. Individu- 
als so freed and fortified ever constitute the chief agents of wise 
amelioration, and are the foremost heroes of comprehensive reforms. 
They are the powerful living preachers and inspiring writers who 
are full of the spirit of their own age, and yearn to subordinate it 
to the reign of Christ They are ready often to accept of changes, 
and are always able to transform them into progress. Says the 
writer of the epistle to the Hebrews, " That which has become an- 
tiquated and decrepid with age, is nigh to its final disappearance." 
Then let us not cling to the dotage which belongs to the supersti- 
tions of superannuated nations, but press onward to achieve, with- 
out pause or encumbrance, our own more exalted and ennobling 

The uniform migration assigned to human progress, and the re- 
gion of its fondest aspirations, have always been in one direction. 
The Egyptians styled their paradise the land, and their god Osiris, 
the lord of the " West." The Atalantis, or " happy isles" of the 
Greeks were situated in the western ocean. To the west lay, like- 
wise, " the land of spirits" of all our American savages. In fine, 
the great tree of humanity, vouchsafed to overshadow the whole 
earth, was made by the Divine Husbandman to germinate and 
send up its strong trunk in the ancient land of Asia. Grafted with 
a noble stalk, it shot forth new branches, and unfolded fairer blos- 
soms in Europe; the best strength and sweetest odor of which 
seem destined soon to appear in America, embodied in its latest 
and richest fruit. Every thing here is happily arranged for the full 
accomplishment of the gracious designs of Providence for the tri- 
umph of the true, the just, and the good ; so that if Christians are 
but faithful to this destination, the whole world will soon appear 
as a sublime concert of nations, blending their voices into a lofty 
harmony in the Creator's praise. 

The introduction of " the voluntary system" into national relig- 
ion, was a primary fruit of the American revolution. The scheme 
was entirely new, and grew out of the great movement westward, 
and Providence- wise, in the person and principles of Roger Wil- 
liams. The Catholic church, which had been mainly instrumental 
in building up our modern civilization, became corrupt in conse- 
quence of the absolute supremacy which it attained. 



the like corruption from vitiating Christianity in this new land of 
her sojourn, the best mode was to accord equality to all her disci- 
ples, and no evil has resulted from the experiment. The support 
given to religion in the United States is larger than in any Euro- 
pean state, except Great Britain ; the professors of religion here are 
nearly as numerous as the electors, and public morality is certainly 
as well preserved as in any other part of the world. The ecclesias- 
tical hierarchy of England costs as much as all the states of conti- 
nental Europe put together, and contributes least to the promotion 
of vital religion among either people or clergy. About forty mil- 
lions of dollars are paid annually to the church establishment, of 
which enormous sum not half a million is received by the four 
thousand two hundred and fifty-four poor curates, who do nearly 
all the professional work as deputies, dependent upon the absent 
state bishop, or neighboring aristocrat. This abominable system 
of pluralities has naturally introduced immorality and licentiousness 
among a large proportion of the upper clerical ranks. The mere 
form of religion is substituted in the place of spiritual power, and 
may be said to constitute the system of modern indulgences, by 
which men purchase for themselves a subterfuge from reproach 
In America, the people claim the interposition of their state gov- 
ernments, in securing the freest secular education, while they deny 
the right or the utility of interfering in any degree with religion. Bui 
by the rulers of England the law is entirely reversed ; they claim a 
strict superintendence of religious interests by government, and are 
only willing to leave every other department of instruction to the 
voluntary and unassisted efforts of individuals. Fears are some- 
times entertai