The Formation Of Christendom
( Originally Published 1874 )
IT is somewhat paradoxical, but strictly true, to say that the greatest and most important revolution which ever took place upon earth is that to which least attention has hitherto been paid, and concerning which least is known—the substitution of `Christendom' for the heathen world. Before our own day no historian, no philosopher of modern times has felt any interest in this vast theme, and whatever information with regard to it is attainable must be sought in the fragmentary remains of ancient writers, or in works very recently published on the Continent. In the volume before me Mr. Allies has taken ground not yet occupied by any English author. He has availed himself of two works—Dollinger's 'Christenthum and Kirche and Champagny's Histories—and he acknowledges in the most liberal and loyal manner his obligation to them ; but, in the main, he has been left to find his way for himself, and no man could well be more highly qualified for the task, whether by the gifts of nature or by the acquirements of many years. I infer from the work itself, that his attention was immediately turned to the subject by his appointment as Professor of the ` Philosophy of History' in the Catholic University of Dublin, under the rectorship of Dr. Newman. The duties of his post obliged him to weigh the question, 'What is the philosophy of history?' and the inaugural lecture with which the volume before me commences, although it gives no formal definition of the phrase (which is to be regretted), supplies abundant considerations by the aid of which we may arrive at it. History, in its origin, was far more akin to poetry than to philosophy, and even when it passes into prose it is in the half-legendary form, which makes the narrative of Herodotus and of the annalists of the middle ages so charming to all readers. They are ballads without metre. Next came that style of which Thucydides is the model, and which Mr. Allies calls ` political history.' ' Its limit is the nation, and it deals with all that interests the nation.' ' Great indeed is the charm where the writer can describe with the pencil of a poet and analyse with the mental grasp of a philosopher. Such is the double merit of Thucydides. And so it has happened that the deepest students of human nature have searched for two thousand years the records of a war wherein the territory of the chief belligerents was not larger than a modem English or Irish county. What should we say if a quarrel between Kent and Essex, between Cork and Kerry, had kept the world at gaze ever since? Yet Attica and Laconia were no larger.'
And yet it needed something more than territorial greatness in the states of which he wrote to enable even Thucydides him-self to realise the idea of a philosophical history_ For the five hundred years which followed the Peloponnesian war brought to maturity the greatest empire which has ever existed among men, and although, at the close of that period, one of the ablest and most thoughtful of writers devoted himself especially to its history, yet, says my author, ` I do not know that in reading the pages of Polybius, of Livy, or even of Tacitus, we are conscious of a wider grasp of thought, a more enlarged experience of political interests, a higher idea of man, and of all that concerns his personal and public life, than in those of Thucydides.' Great indeed was the genius of those ancient historians, magnificent were the two languages which they made their instruments languages ' very different in their capacity, but both of them superior in originality, beauty, and expressiveness to any which have fallen to the lot of modern nations. It may be that the marbles of Pentelicus and Carrara insure good sculptors.'
In the narrativethat is the poetic and pictorial part of historythey have equal merit. Their history is a drama in which the actors and the events speak for themselves. What was wanting was the bearing of events on each other, the apprehension of great first principles the generalisation of facts.' And this no mere lapse of time could give. It is wanting in the works of the greatest ancient masters. It is found in moderns, in all other respects immeasurably their inferiors. ' What, then, had happened in the interval?' Christianity had happened
Christendom had been formed. 'There was a voice in the world greater, more potent, thrilling, and universal, than the last cry of the old society, (Civis sum Romanus, and this voice was Sum Chrutianus. From the time of the great sacrifice it was impossible to sever the history of man's temporal destiny from that of his eternal; and when the virtue of that sacrifice had thoroughly leavened the nations, history is found to assume a larger basis, to have lost its partial and national cast, to have grown with the growth of man, and to demand for its completeness a perfect alliance with philosophy.'
Thus, then, the ' philosophy of history' is the comparison and arrangement of its great events by one whose mind is stored with the facts which it records, and who at the same time possesses the great first principles which qualify him to judge of it. I may, therefore, lay it down as an absolute rule, that without Christianity no really philosophical history could have been written.
Not unnaturally, then, the first example of the philosophy of history was given by a man whose mind, if not the greatest ever informed by Christianity, was at least among a very few in the first class, was moreover so thoroughly penetrated by Christian principles, that to review the events of the world in any other aspect, or through any other medium, would have been to him as impossible as to examine in detail without the light of the sun the expanse of plains and hills, rivers and forests, which lay under him as he stood on some predominant mountain-peak. God the Almighty Creator God incarnate, who had once lived and suffered on earth, and now reigned on high until He should put all enemies under His feet, and who was coming again to judge the world which He had redeemed the Church founded by Him to enlighten and govern all generations throughout all nations, and in which dwelt the infallible guidance of God the Holy Ghost the evil spirits, powerless against the Divine presence in the Church, but irresistible by mere human power the saints, no longer seen by man, but whose intercession influenced and moulded all the events of his life all these were ever before the mind of S. Augustine, not merely as articles of faith which he confessed, but as practical realities. To trace the events of the world without continually referring to all these, would have been to him not merely irreligious, but as unreal, unmeaning, and fallacious as it would be to a natural philosopher of our own day to investigate the phenomena of the material world without taking into consideration the attraction of the earth and the resistance of the air. This should be noticed, because we have all met men who, while professing to believe most, if not all, of these things, would consider it bad taste to introduce such considerations into any practical affair. They are, in short, part of that very remarkable phenomenon, the Sunday religion' of a respectable English gentleman, which he holds as an inseparable part of his respectability, but which is well understood to have no bearing at all upon the business of the week. Living as S. Augustine did at the crisis at which the civilisation of the ancient world was finally breaking up, his eye was cast back in review over the whole gorgeous line of ancient history, which swept by him like a Roman triumph. Egypt, Assyria, Greece, Rome, each had its day : the last and greatest of them all he saw tottering to its fall. But far more important than this comprehensive survey, which the circumstances of his times made natural to so great an intellect, was his possession of fixed and certain principles, the truth of which he knew beyond the possibility of doubt, and which were wide enough to solve every question which the history of the world brought before him. Great men there had been before him, but the deeper their thoughts the more had they found that the world itself and their own position in it were but a hopeless enigma without an answer, a cipher without a key, A flood of light had beet) poured upon the piercing mental eye of S. Augustine when the waters of baptism fell from the hand of the holy Ambrose upon his outward frame. Every part of the Old Testament history glowed before him, as when, from behind a cloud which covers all the earth, the light of the sun falls concentrated upon some mountain-peak ; and the man who reverences and ponders as divine that inspired history has learned to read the inner meaning of the whole history of the world as no one else can. In every age, no doubt, Almighty God rules and directs in justice and mercy the world which He has created : but in general He hides Himself behind an impenetrable veil. ' Clouds and darkness are round about Him, justice and judgment the establishment of His throne.' To many an ordinary spectator, the world seems only the theatre of man's labour and suffering. lie passes through it as he might through one of the arsenals of ancient Greece or Rome, where indeed great works were wrought, but where the hand of the workman was always as visible as the result produced. A more thoughtful man might see proofs of some unknown power, just as in an arsenal of our day, works, compared to which the fabled labours of giants and cyclops were as child's play, are hourly performed by the stroke of huge hammers welding vast masses of glowing metal, while nothing is seen to cause or explain their motion. All this is understood by one who has once been allowed to see at work the engine itself which sets all in motion. So does the Old Testament history unveil to the eye of faith the hidden causes, not only of the Jewish history, but of the great events of secular history. All that seeped before only results without cause, is seen to be fully accounted for; not that we can always understand the ends which the Almighty worker designs to accomplish, or the means by which. He is accomplishing them, but everywhere faith sees the operation of Almighty power directed by infinite wisdom and love, and, while able to understand much, it is willing to await in reverent adoration the development of that which as yet is beyond its comprehension. It sees that the . history of ether nations is distinguished from that of the children of Israel,, not so much by the character of the events which it records (for the extraordinary _manifestations of Divine power were chiefly confined to a few special periods), as to the principle and spirit in which it has been written, and that secular history viewed by eyes supernaturally enlightened assumes the same appearance.
In fact it is not difficult to write ,a history of the reigns of David and Solomon and their successors down to the fall of the Hebrew monarchy, which sounds very much like that of any other Oriental kingdom. The thing has been done of late years, both in Germany and in England. It was by this that Dean Milman, many years ago, so greatly shocked , the more religious portion of English readers. Nor were _they shocked without cause ; for his was a history, of the Jews, from which, as far as possible, Almighty God was left out, while the characteristic of the inspired narrative is, that it is a record not so much of the doings of men as of the great acts of God by man and among men. Only Dean Milman was more consistent than those who condemned him. He was right in perceiving that the greater part of the history of the Jews is not materially different from that of other nations. But he went on to infer that therefore we may leave God out of sight in judging of Jewish history, as we do in that of other nations, instead of learning from the example of the Jews that in every age God is as certainly working among every nation. That by which he offended religious Protestants was the application of their own ordinary principles to the one history in which they had been taught from childhood to see and acknowledge with exceptional reverence the working of Almighty God in the affairs of the world.
This it is which gives its peculiar character to many of the chronicles of the middle ages. It is impossible not to feel that the writers see no broad distinction between the history of the nations and times of which they are writing and that of the ancient people of God. And hence in their annals we have far more of the philosophy of history, in the true sense of the word, than was possible to any ancient author. For with all their ignorance of physical causes, which led them into many mistakes, their main principles were both true and vitally important and were wholly unknown to Thucydides and Tacitus. But the circumstances of their times made it impossible that they should survey the extensive range of facts which lies before a modern historian. In many instances also they were led by the imperfect state of physical science to attribute to a supernatural interference of God in the world things which we are now able to refer to natural causes. That God has before now interfered with the course of nature which He has established in the world, and may whenever He pleases so interfere again, these were to them first principles. And so far they reasoned truly and justly, although their imperfect acquaintance with other branches of human knowledge sometimes led them to apply amiss their true principle. Their minds were so much accustomed to dwell upon the thought of God, and upon His acts in the world, that they were always prepared to see and hear Him everywhere, and in every event. When they heard of any event supposed to be supernatural, they might be awestruck and impressed, but could not be said to be surprised ; and hence, no doubt, they sometimes accepted as supernatural, events which, if examined by a shrewd man who starts with the first principle that nothing supernatural can realty have taken place, could have been otherwise explained. Besides, their comparative unacquaintance with physical science led them into errors in accounting for and even in observing those which they themselves did not imagine to be supernatural. But their first principles were true. And the modern who assumes, whether explicitly or implicitly, that the course of the world is modified and governed only by the passions and deeds of mart is in his first principles fundamentally wrong. They fell into accidental error ; he cannot be more than accidentally right.
Mr. Allies says :
In the middle ages, and notably in the thirteenth century, there were minds which have left us imperishable memorials of themselves, and which would have taken the largest and most philosophical view of history had the materials existed ready to their hand. Conceive, for instance, a history from the luminous mind of S. Thomas with the stores of modern knowledge at his command. But the invention of printing, one of the turning-points of the human race, was first to take place, and then on that soil of the middle ages, so long prepared and fertilised by so patient a toil, a mighty harvest was to spring up. Among the first fruits of labours so often depreciated by those who have profited by them, and in the land of children who despise their sires, we find the proper alliance of philosophy with history. Then at length the province of the historian is seen to consist, not merely in the just, accurate, and lively narrative of facts, but in the exhibition of cause and effect. ' What do we now expect in history?' says M. de Barante, and he replies, ' Solid instruction and complete knowledge of things ; moral lessons, political counsels ; comparison with the present, and the general knowledge of facts.' Even in the age of Tacitus, the most philosophic of ancient historians, no individual ability could secure all such powers (p. 12).
Thus philosophical history is one of the results of Christianity. Professor Max Müller makes a similar remark with regard to his own favourite study of ethnology. Before the day of Pentecost, he says, no man, not even the greatest minds, ever thought of tracing the genealogy of nations by their languages, because they did not know the unity of the human race. The unity of man-kind is naturally connected in the order of ideas with the unity of God. Those who worshipped many gods, and believed that each race and nation had its own tutelary divinity, not unnaturally regarded each nation as a separate race. So far was this feeling carried by the most civilised races of the old world, that they thought it a profanation that the worship of the gods of one race should be offered by a priest not sprung from that race. The most moderate and popular of the Roman patricians rejected the demand of the plebs to be admitted to the highest offices of the state, not as politically dangerous, but as profane. The Roman consul, in virtue of his office, was the priest of the Capitoline Jove, to whom, on certain solemn occasions, he had to offer sacrifice. It would be a pollution that a plebeian, not sprung from any of the tribes of Romulus, should presume to offer that sacrifice. In fact, the consulship would hardly have been thrown open to the plebs until the long-continued, habit of intermarriage had welded the two portions of the Roman people so completely into one that the plebeian began, at last, to be regarded as of the same blood with the Furii, the Cornelii, and the Julii. The first measure by which the tribunes commenced their attack upon the exclusive privilege of the great houses was wisely chosen ; it was the Canuleian law, by which marriages between the two orders were made legal and valid. Before that, patricians and plebeians were two nations living in one city, and, according to the universal opinion of the ancient world, this implied that they had different gods, different priests, a different ritual, and different temples. But the day of Pentecost blended all nations into a new unity the unity of the body of Christ ; and its first effect was, that the preachers of the new law proclaimed everywhere, that ' God had made of one blood all nations of men, to dwell upon the face of the whole earth.' The professor points out what curiously completes the analogy between the two cases, that while Christianity, by collecting into one church all the nations of the world, and by teaching their original unity, naturally suggested the idea that all their different languages had some common origin, any satisfactory investigation of the subject was long delayed by the unfounded notion that the Hebrew must needs be the root from which they all sprang. Thus, in both cases, the germ of studies, whose development was delayed for ages by the imperfection of human knowledge, appears to have been contained in the revelation of the gospel of Christ.
It is important to bring these considerations into prominence, because the knowledge which would never have existed without Christianity is, in many cases, retained by men who forget or deny the faith to which they are indebted for it. Mr. Allies draws comparison between Tacitus and Gibbon (page 14).
The world of thought in which we live is, after all, formed by Christianity. Modern Europe is a relic of Christendom, the virtue of which is not gone out of it. Gregory VII. and Innocent Ill. have ruled over generations which have ignored them ; have given breadth to minds which condemned their benefactors as guilty of narrow priestcraft, and derided the work of those benefactors as an exploded theory. Let us take an example in what is, morally, perhaps the worst and most shocking period of the last three centuries the thirty years preceding the great French revolution, We shall see that at this time even minds which had rejected, with all the firmness of a reprobate will, the regenerating influence of Christianity, could not emancipate themselves from the virtue of the atmosphere which they had breathed. They are immeasurably greater than they would have been in pagan times, by the force of that faith which they misrepresented and repudiated. To prove the truth of my words, compare for a moment the great artist who drew Tiberius and Domitian and the Roman Empire in the first century, with him who wrote of its decline and fall in the second and succeeding centuries. How far wider a grasp of thought, how far more manifold an experience, combined with philosophic purposes, in Gibbon than in Tacitus ! He has a standard within him by which he can measure the nations as they come in long procession before him. In that vast and wondrous drama of the Antonines and Constantine, Athanasius and Leo, Justinian and Charlemagne, Mahomet, Zenghis Khan, and Timour, Jerusalem and Mecca, Rome and Constantinople, what stores of thought are laid up what a train of philosophic induction exhibited ! How much larger is this world become than that which trembled at Caesar ! The very apostate profits by the light which has shone on Thabor, and the blood which has flowed on Calvary. He is a greater historian than his heathen predecessor, because he lives in a society to which the God whom he has abandoned has disclosed the depth of its being, the laws of its course, the importance of its present, the price of its futurity.
A very little thought will show that, constituted as man's nature is, this could not have been otherwise. Man differs from the inferior animals in that he is richly endowed with faculties which, until they have been developed by education, he can never use, and appreciates and embraces truths, when they have been set before him, which he could never have discovered unassisted. This is the most obvious distinction between reason and instinct. The caterpillar, hatched from an egg dropped by a parent whom it never saw, knows at once what food and what habits are necessary for its new life_ Weeks pass away, and its first skin begins to die ; but (as if it had been fully instructed in what has to be done) it draws its body out of it as from a glove, and conies forth in a new one. A few weeks later it forsakes the food which has hitherto been necessary for its life, and buries itself in the earth, which up to that very day would have been certain death. There a mysterious change passes upon it, and it lies as if dead till the time for another change approaches. It then gradually works its way to the surface, and cornes out a butterfly or a moth. It is now indifferent to the plants which in its former state were necessary to its existence ; but yet it chooses those plants on which to deposit its eggs. We are so apt to delude ourselves with the notion that we understand everything to which we give a name, that ninety-nine people out of a hundred seem to think they account for this marvellous power of the inferior animals to act exactly right under circumstances so strangely changed, by calling it ' instinct' But, in truth, why or how the creature does what it does, we no more know when we have called it 'instinct' than we did before. All we can suppose is that as the Creator has left none of His creatures destitute of the kind and degree of knowledge necessary to enable it to discharge its appointed office in creation, the appetites and desires of the insect are modified from time to time in the different stages of its existence, so that they impel it exactly to the course necessary for it to take, with much greater certainty than if it understood what the result was to be. How different is the case of man ! Not only is he a free agent, and therefore to be guided by reason, not by mere propensity, but neither reason nor speech, nor indeed life itself, could be preserved or made of any use except by means of training and education received from others. A. man left to shift for himself like the animal whose changes we have been tracing, would die at each state of his existence for Want of some one to teach him what must be done for his preservation. The same training is equally necessary for his physical, intellectual, and moral and spiritual life. But he is so constituted that the different things needful for him to know for each of these purposes approve themselves to him as soon as they are presented to his mind from without ; and the things which thus approve themselves, although he could never have discovered them, we truly call natural to man, because no external teaching would have made him capable of learning them unless the faculty had been as much a part of his original constitution as the unreasoning desires which we call instinct are part of the constitution of brutes. And therefore, when once developed by education, they remain a part of the man, even when he casts away from him those teachers by whom they were developed. Nero would never have learned the use of speech if he had not caught it from his mother ; yet when he used it to order her murder he did not lose what she had taught him, because it was a part of his nature. And so of higher powers, the result of a superior training. Principles which men would never have known without Christian training, are retained when Christianity itself is rejected, because they are part of the spiritual endowment given to man by his Creator, although without training he would never have been able to develope them. His rejection of Christianity results from an evil will. The parts of Christian teaching against which that will does not rebel, he calls and believes to he the lessons of his natural reason, although the experience of the greatest and wisest heathen shows that his unassisted natural faculties never would have discovered them.
Nor is this true only of individuals. Nations trained for many generations in Christian faith have before now fallen away from Christianity. But it does not seem that they are able to reduce themselves to the level of heathen nations in their moral standnrd, their perception and appreciation of good and evil, justice and wrong, or of the nature and destinies of the human race. In some respects they are morally much worse than heathen. But it does not appear that in these points they can sink so low, because their nature, fallen though it be, approves and accepts some of the truths taught it by Christianity. Hence, in order to judge what man can or cannot do without the revelation of God in Jesus Christ, we must examine him in nations to which the faith has never been given, rather than in those which have rejected it. Unhappily, there are at this moment parts of Europe in which the belief in the supernatural seems wanting. An intelligent correspondent of the L Times ' a year ago described such a state of things as existing in parts of Northern Germany and Scandinavia. The population believes nothing, and practises no religion. Public worship is deserted, not because the people have devised any new heresy of their own as to the mariner in which man should approach God, but because they have ceased to trouble them-selves about the matter at all_ Lutheranism is dead and gone ; but nothing has been substituted for it. The intelligent Protestant writer was surprised to find a population thus wholly without religion orderly and well-behaved, hard-working, and by no means forgetful of social duties. The phenomenon is, no doubt, remark-able ; but it is by no means without example. Many parishes (I fear considerable districts) in France are substantially in the same state. The peasantry are sober, industrious, and orderly, to a degree unknown in England. They reap the temporal fruits of these good qualities in a general prosperity equally unknown here. They are saving to a degree almost incredible, so that it is a matter of ordinary experience that a peasant who began life with nothing except his bodily strength, leaves behind him several hundreds, not unfrequently some thousands of pounds sterling. But in this same district whole villages are so absolutely without religion, that, although there is not one person for many miles who calls himself a Protestant, the churches are almost absolutely deserted, and the curés (generally good and zealous men) are reduced almost to in-activity by absolute despair. Some give themselves up to prayer, seeing nothing else that they can do ; some will say that they are not wholly without encouragement, because, after fifteen or twenty years of Iabour, they have succeeded in bringing four or five persons to seek the benefit of the sacraments out of a population of as many hundreds, among whom when they carne there was not one such person to be found.'
Appalling as is this state of things, the natural virtues (such as they are) of populations which have thus lost faith are themselves the remains of Christianity. History gives us no trace of any people in such a state except those who have once been Christians. For instance, in all others, however civilised, slavery has been established both by law and practice ; no one of them has been without divorce ; infanticide has been allowed and practised. Nowhere has the unity of man's nature been acknowledged, and, what follows from that, the duties owing to him as man, not merely as fellow country-man. And hence nowhere has there existed what we call the law of nations, a rule which limits the conduct of men, not only towards those of other nations, but, what is much more, towards those with whom they are in a state of war, or whom they have conquered. In the most civilised times of ancient Greece and Rome, no rights were recognised in such foreigners. All these things are the legitimate progeny of Christianity, and of Christianity alone, although they are now accepted as natural principles by nations by whom, but for the Gospel of Christ, they would never have been heard of.
I have enlarged upon this point because, not only in what he says of Gibbon, but in many parts of his subsequent chapters, Mr. Allies attributes to the influence of Christianity things which a superficial observer may attribute rather to some general progress in the world towards a higher civilisation. We shall sec instances of this as we proceed. I am satisfied that the objection is utterly unfounded. I see no reason to believe that without Christianity any higher or better civilisation than that of Rome under Augustus and Athens under Pericles would ever have been attained. That those who lived under that state, so far from expecting any ' progress,' believed that the world was getting worse and worse, and that there remained no hope of improvement, nor any principles from which it could possibly arise, is most certain. Nor do I believe that those who thus judged of the natural tendency of the world were mistaken, although, by a stupendous interference of the Creator with the course of nature, an improvement actually took place.
The philosophy of history then sifts and arranges the facts which it records, and judges of them by fixed and eternal principles of right and wrong, drawing from the past lessons of wisdom and virtue for the future_ It will approach nearer and nearer to perfection as the range of facts investigated becomes wider, and as the principles by which they are judged are more absolutely true, and applied more correctly, more practically, and more universally. Hence it would never have existed without Christianity, and although in Christian nations it is found in men partially or wholly unworthy of the Christian name, but who retain many ideas and principles derived from Christianity alone, yet even in them it is exercised imperfectly in proportion as they are less and less Christian.
Mr. Allies thus compares Tacitus and S. Augustine :
The atmosphere of Tacitus and the lurid glare of his Rome compared with S. Augustine's world, are like the shades in which Achilles deplored the loss of life contrasted with a landscape bathed in the morning light of a southern sun. Yet how much more of material misery was there in the time of S. Augustine than in the time of Tacitus ! In spite of the excesses in which the emperors might indulge within the walls of their palace or of Rome, the fair fabric of civilisation filled the whole Roman world, the great Empire was in peace, and its multitude of nations were brethren. Countries which now form great kingdoms of themselves, were then tranquil members of one body politic. Men could travel the coasts of Italy, Gaul, Spain, Africa, Syria, Asia Minor, and Greece, round to Italy again, and find a rich smiling land covered by prosperous cities, enjoying the same laws and institutions, and possessed in peace by its children. In S. Augustine's time all had been changed ; on many of these coasts a ruthless, uncivilised, unbelieving, or misbelieving enemy had descended. Through the whole Empire there was a feeling of insecurity, a cry of helplessness, and a trembling at what was to come. Yet in the pages of the two writers, the contrast is in the inverse ratio. In the Pagan, everything seems borne on by an iron fate, which tramples upon the free will of man, and overwhelms the virtuous before the wicked_ In the Christian, order shines in the midst of destruction, and mercy dispenses the severest humiliations. It was the symbol of the coming age. And so that great picture of the Doctor, Saint, and Philosopher, laid hold of the minds of men during those centuries of violence which followed, and in which peace and justice, so far from embracing each other, seemed to have deserted the earth. And in modern times a great genius has seized upon it, and developed it in the discourse on Universal History. Bossuet is worthy to receive the torch from S. Augustine. Scarcely could a more majestic voice or a more philosophic spirit set forth the double succession of empire and of religion, or exhibit the tissue wrought by Divine Providence, human free will, and the permitted power of evil.
After this estimate of S. Augustine, he speaks of--
A living author at once statesman, orator, philosopher, and historian of the highest rank, who has given us, on a less extensive scale, a philosophy of history in its most finished and amiable form. The very attempt on the part of M. Guizot to draw out a picture of civilisation during fourteen hundred years, and to depict, amongst that immense and ever-changing period, the course of society in so many countries, indicates no ordinary power ; and the partial fulfilment of the design may be said to have elevated the philosophy of history into a science. In this work may be found the most important rules of the science accurately stated ; but the work itself is the best example of philosophic method and artistic execution, united to illustrate a complex subject. A careful study of original authorities, a patient induction of facts, a cautious generalisation, the philosophic eye to detect analogies, the painter's power to group results, and, above all, a unity of conception which no multiplicity of details can embarrass these are some of the main qualifications for a philosophy of history which I should deduce from these works. Yet, while the action of Providence and that of human free will are carefully and beautifully brought out, while both may be said to be points of predilection with the author, he has not alluded, so far as I am aware, to the great evil spirit and his personal operation. Strong as he is, he has been apparently too weak to bear the scoff of modern nfidelity---' he believes in the Devil ' unless, indeed, the cause of this ies deeper, and belongs to his philosophy ; for if there be one subject out of which eclecticism can pick nothing to its taste, it would be the permitted operation of the great fallen spirit. Nor will the warmest admiration of his genius he mistaken for a concurrence in all his judgments. I presume not to say how far such an author is some-times, in spite of himself, unjust, from the point of view at which he draws his picture. Whether, and how far, he he an eclectic philosopher, let others decide. It would be grievous to feel it true of such a mind ; for it is the original sin of that philosophy to make the universe rotate round itself. Great is its complacency in its own conclusions, but there runs through them one mistake to fancy itself in the place of God (p. 31).
Those who have ever made the attempt to analyse in a few lines the genius of a great writer will best be able to estimate the combination of keen intellect, patient thought, and scrupulous candour in this criticism. I must not deny myself one more quotation :— S. Augustine, Bossuet, Guizot, Balmez, Schlegel: I have taken these names not to exhaust but to illustrate the subject. Here Ave have the ancient and the modern society, Africa and France, Spain and Germany, and the Christian mind in each, thrown upon the facts of history. They point out, I think, sufficiently a common result. But amid the founders of a new science who shall represent our own country ? Can I hesitate, or can I venture, in this place and company [i.e. before the Catholic University of Dublin, in the chair of which this lecture was delivered], to mention the hand which has directed the scattered rays of light from so many sources on the wild children of Central Asia, and produced the Turk before us in his untameable ferocity the outcast of the human race, before whom earth herself ceases to be a mother-by whom man's blood has ever been shed like water, woman's honour counted as the vilest of things, nature's most sacred laws publicly and avowedly outraged—has produced him before us for the abhorrence of mankind, the infamy of nations ? To sketch the intrinsic character of barbarism and civilisation, and out of common historical details, travel, and observation to show the ineffaceable stamp of race and tribe, reproducing itself through the long series of ages, surely expresses the idea which we mean by the philosophy of history (p. 33).
I have given a disproportionate space to this inaugural lecture, both for its intrinsic importance and because it gives a shadow of the whole plan of Mr. Allies's work, both that part which lies before us and that which remains to be published ; for the volume before us is ' only a portion, perhaps about a fourth, of the author's design.' In the six lectures which it contains, he gives us an estimate, first, of the physical and political condition of the Roman empire in its palmy days ; then of the force by which it pleased God to constitute the new creation in the midst of it. In the last four lectures he compares the vital principles of these two vast social organisations the heathen and the Christian first in a representative man of each class, then in the effects produced upon society at large by the influence of each ; then in the primary relation of man to woman in marriage ; and, lastly, in the virginal state ; although under this last head there can hardly be said to be a comparison, as heathen society has simply nothing to set against that wonderful creation of Christianity, holy virginity.
I know not where I have met any painting of the Roman empire so striking as that contained in the first lecture. Of the multitude of Englishmen who read more or Iess of the classical Latin authors, a very small proportion have ever paid any attention to the Roman empire, except as it is displayed by Tacitus and Juvenal. This is the natural result of the grace and eloquence of ',ivy and Cicero, much rather than of any strong preference for republican institutions. Indeed it is impossible not to be struck with the vast influence which Roman republicanism exercises in France compared with England. Nor is it difficult to account for this. France, except to a limited degree under the monarchy of July, has never enjoyed constitutional liberty. The French-man, therefore, who dreams of liberty at all, places his dreamland in a Roman republic. Boys who in England would rant about John Hampden are found in France ranting about Junius Brutus. For what the Englishman means when he talks about liberty is ' English liberty,' the Frenchman means the Roman republic. So much has this been the case, that even in America the war of in-dependence began, not in any aspiration after a republic, but for the rights of English subjects. The sword had been drawn for a year before the colonies claimed independence, and very shortly before, Washington had declared that ` there was no thought of separation, only of English liberty.' What proves that these were not mere words was, that even after independence had been achieved, the leaders, who met in congress, agreed almost to a man in expressing their preference for an English constitution,' if circumstances had placed it within their reach. All the world knows that France became a republic chiefly because Rome in her palmy days had been so called; nay, to this hour all the terms adopted by the revolutionary party have been borrowed from classical times. Such was the term 'Citizen,' so appropriate to a people whose boast was that they were free of a city which had conquered the world, so absurd as denoting the members of a great nation in which not even centuries of extreme centralisation have prevented political rights from being exercised by each man in his own province. Such, again, was that inundation of pagan names which the revolutionary times substituted for those of the saints, and which are still characteristic of France Camille, Emile, Antonine, and even Brute and Timoleon. This we take to be one great reason why many sensible persons in France are so greatly afraid of classical studies in schools and colleges. They say that they turn the heads of boys, especially French boys. It is highly characteristic of the man, that the officers of the House of Commons, who made forcible entry into the house of Sir Francis Burdett when he was committed by order of the House, found him reading with his little son, not Plutarch's life of Brutus or Cato, as would assuredly have been the case with a Frenchman, but ' Magna Charta.' He was not less theatrical, but he was a thoroughly English actor.
And yet I strongly suspect that out of a hundred boys who leave a classical school more than ninety believe that Roman history ends with Augustus. The university no doubt gives a somewhat more extended view. But even there Tacitus is usually about the limit. I wonder how far this feeling was carried before Gibbon published the ` Decline and Fall.'
Hence I especially value the wonderful picture of the Empire painted by Mr. Allies.
It was in fact a federation of civilised states under an absolute monarch : the municipal liberties were left so entire, that Niebuhr mentions Italian cities in the immediate neighbourhood of Rome itself which retained all through the times of the Empire and the middle ages, down to the wars of the French revolution, the same municipal institutions under which Rome had found them. They were swept away by that faithful lover of despotism, Napoleon I., to make way for the uniform system of a préfet and sous-préfet in each district. It is more important to bear this in mind because, as the revolutionists aped the manners and names of the Roman Republic without understanding them, the imperialists of France are apt to assume that they faithfully represent the Roman Empire. Now the one striking characteristic of the French Empire is that it raises yearly 100,000 military conscripts, besides the naval conscription, the police and the very firemen, all of whom are care-fully drilled as soldiers. How was it under Augustus ?
It is hard to conceive adequately what a spectator called ' the immense majesty of the Roman peace' (Pliny, Nat. Hist. xxvii. i). Where now in Europe, impatient and uneasy, a group of half-friendly nations jealously watches each other's progress and power, and the acquisition of a province threatens a general war, Rome maintained, from generation to generation, in tranquil sway, an empire of which Gaul, Spain, Britain, and North Africa, Switzerland, and the greater part of Austria, Turkey in Europe, Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt, formed but single limbs, members of her mighty body. Her roads, which spread like a network over this immense territory, from their common centre, the golden milestone of the Forum, under the palace of her emperors, did but express the unity of that spirit with which she ruled the earth her subject, levelling the mountains and filling up the valleys for the march of her armies, the caravans of her merchandise, and the even sweep of her legislation. A moderate fleet of 6,000 sailors at Misenum, and another at Ravenna, a flotilla at Forum Julii, and another in the Black Sea, of half that force, preserved the whole Mediterranean from piracy ; and every nation bordering on its shores could freely interchange the productions of their industry. Two smaller armaments of twenty-four vessels each on the Rhine and the Danube secured the Empire from northern incursion. In the time of Tiberius, a force of twenty-five legions and fourteen cohorts, making 171,500 men, with about an equal number of auxiliary troops, that is, in all, an army of 340,000, sufficed not so much to preserve internal order, which rested upon other and surer ground, but to guard the frontiers of a vast population, amounting, as is calculated, to 120,000,000, and inhabiting the very fairest regions of the earth, of which the great Mediterranean Sea was a sort of central and domestic lake. But this army itself, thus moderate in number, was not, as a rule, stationed in cities, but in fixed quarters on the frontiers, as a guard against external foes. Thus, for instance, the whole interior of Gaut possessed a garrison of but 1,200 men that Gaul which, in the year 1860, in a time of peace, thought necessary for internal tranquillity and external rank and security to have 626,000 men in arms.' Again, Asia Minor had no military force ; that most beautiful region of the earth teemed with princely cities, enjoying the civilisation of a thousand years, and all the treasures of art and industry, in undisturbed repose. And within its unquestioned boundaries, the spirit, moreover, of Roman rule was far other than that of a military despotism, or of a bureaucracy and a police pressing with ever watchful suspicion on every spring of civil life. The principle of its government was not that no population could be faithful which was not kept in leading-strings, but rather to leave cities and corporations to manage their own affairs themselves. Thus its march was firm and strong, but for this very reason devoid alike of fickleness and haste.
It might have been added, that, as a general rule, the army which guarded each portion was composed of the natives of the country in which they were stationed. Roman citizens they were no doubt, but citizens of provincial extraction, and posted to guard on behalf of Rome the very country which their fathers, sometimes but a very few generations back, had defended against her.2 This is a policy the generosity of which France dares not at this day imitate, even in her oldest provinces. To say nothing of the British army in Ireland, the Breton conscripts are still sent to serve at Lyons and Paris.
The extracts I have given will doubtless lead every reader to study for himself Mr. Allies's descriptions of Rome, and the life of the Thermae, and of the colonies, everywhere reproducing the life of Rome. Every page breathes with the matured thought of a mind of remarkable natural acuteness, and stored with refined scholarship. There is nothing of beauty or majesty in that magnificent old world which he does not seem to have witnessed and mused over.
It is hardly possible to realise all this greatness without being tempted to repine in the remembrance whither it was all hastening that the peace of the Roman world was but 'the torrent's smoothness ere it dash below ;' its magnificence only the feast of Baltassar in that last night of the splendour of Babylon, when the Medes and Persians were already under her walls, and the river had been turned away from its course through her quays, and a way left open for the rush of the destroyer into her streets and palaces. Already the mysterious impulse had been given which, during so many centuries, drove down horde after horde of barbarians from the wild North-East, to overflow the favoured lands that surrounded the Mediterranean. In the early days of Roman history the Gauls had rushed on, sweeping away those earlier races whose remains we are now exploring in the shallows of the Swiss lakes, and whose descendants are probably to be found in the Basques, and in some of those degraded castes which, in spite of the welding power of the Church, left pro-scribed remnants in France and elsewhere until the great revolution. That mighty wave burst upon the rock of the Capitol, threatened for a moment utterly to overwhelm it, and then fell broken at its feet, But it is not by repelling one wave, however formidable, that a rising tide is turned back. In the day of Rome's utmost power her very foundations were shaken by the torrent of the Cinzbri and Teutones. They, too, were broken against the steel-clad legions of Marius, and fell off like spray on the earth. But the tide was still advancing. What need to trace its successive inroads ? Every reader of Gibbon remembers how the time came at last, when the very site where Rome had stood had been so often swept by it, that of all its greatness, there remained nothing more than the sea leaves of some castle of shingles and sand, after a few waves have passed over it.
Quench'd is the golden statue's ray ;
There even came a time when for many weeks the very ruins of ancient Rome were absolutely deserted, and trodden neither by man nor beast. No wonder that the world stood by afar off, weeping and mourning over the utter destruction of all that the earth had ever known of greatness and glory. So the sentence had been passed, in the day of her greatest glory, by the prophetic voice of the angel, who cried with a strong voice
` Fallen---fallen, is Babylon the great, and is become the habitation of devils and the hold of every unclean spirit, and of every unclean and hateful bird. And the kings of the earth shall weep and bewail themselves over her, when they shall see the smoke of the burning ; standing afar off for fear of her torments, saying, Alas ! alas ! that great city Babylon, that mighty city ; for in one hour is thy judgment come. And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her, and shall stand afar off from her for fear of her torments, weeping and mourning, and saying, Alas ! alas ! that great city which was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and was gilt with gold and precious stones, and pearls. For in one hour are so great riches come to nought.'—(Apocalypse, chap. xviii.)
It was not the ruin of one ,city, however glorious, but the sweeping away of all the accumulated glories of the civilisation of the whole civilised world, during more than a thousand years. All had been embodied in Imperial Rome. In the words of my author
The empire of Augustus inherited the whole civilisation of the ancient world. Whatever political or social knowledge, whatever moral or intellectual truth, whatever useful or elegant arts, ' the enterprising race of Japhet' had acquired, preserved, and accumulated in the long course of centuries since the beginning of history, had descended without a break to Rome, with the dominion of all the countries washed by the Mediterranean_ For her the wisdom of Egypt and of all the East had been stored up. For her Pythagoras and Thales, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, and all the schools besides of Grecian philosophy suggested by these names, had thought. For her Zoroaster, as welt as Solon and Lycurgus, legislated. For her Alexander conquered, the races which he subdued forming but a portion of her empire. Every city, in the ears of whose youth the poems of Homer were familiar as household words, owned her sway. The magistrates, from the Northern Sea to the confines of Arabia, issued their decrees in the language of empire the Latin tongue ; while, as men of letters, they spoke and wrote in Greek. For her Carthage had risen, founded colonies, discovered distant coasts, set up a world-wide trade, and then fallen, leaving her the empire of Africa and the West, with the lessons of a long experience. Not only so, but likewise Spain, Gaul, and all the frontier provinces, from the Alps to the mouth of the Danube, spent in her service their strength and skill ; supplied her armies with their bravest youths ; gave to her senate and her knights their choicest minds. The vigour of new and the culture of long polished races were alike employed in the vast fabric of her power. Every science and art, all human experience and discovery, had poured their treasure in one stream into the bosom of that society, which, after forty-four years of undisputed rule, Augustus had consolidated into a new system of government, and bequeathed to the charge of Tiberius (p. 4r).
No wonder the ancient world had assured itself that, as nothing greater, nothing wiser, nothing more glorious than Rome could ever arise upon earth, so its greatness, wisdom, and glory could never be superseded. It was ' the eternal city.' It was 'for ever to give laws to the world.' The contemporary poets could imagine no stronger expression of an eternity than that of a duration while Rome itself should last, Yet was it at that very time that the eyes of a fisherman. of the Lake of Tiberias were opened to see the angel coming down from heaven with power and great glory,' from whose mighty cry over the fall of Babylon we have already quoted some words. No wonder, when the time came that his prophecy was fulfilled, the world stood by weeping and mourning, not over the fall of a single city (such as Scipio Africanus had forecast as he watched the smoke of old Carthage rising up to heaven), but over the ruin of the civilisation of the whole world. No wonder that, even in our own age, those whose hearts have so far sunk back to the level of heathenism as to value only material prosperity and worldly greatness, still re-echo the cry,
Alas ! the eternal city, and alas
The trebly hundred triumphs, and the day
When Brutus made the dagger's edge surpass
The conqueror's sword in bearing fame away.
Alas ! for earth, for never shall we see
That brightness in her eye she wore when Rome was free.
But the voice of divine wisdom was far different :—' Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets, for God bath judged your judgment upon her. And a mighty angel took up a stone, as it were a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, " With such violence as this shall Babylon, that great city, be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all : and the voice of harpers, and of musicians, and of them that play on the pipe and on the trumpet, shall no more be heard at all in thee ; and no craftsman, of any art whatsoever, shall be found any more at all in thee ; and the sound of the mill shalt be heard no more at all in thee ; and the light of the lamp shall shine no more in thee ; and the voice of the bridegroom and the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee ; for thy merchants were the great men of the earth, for all nations have been deceived by thine enchantments." And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.'
Thus total, according to the prophecy, was to be the destruction of the wealth, civilisation, greatness, and glory of the ancient heathen world, gathered together in Rome, that in the utter sweeping away of that one city all might perish together. How fully the words were accomplished we know by the lamentation of the whole world over Babylon, the echoes of which still ring in our ears. But to us Christians it rather belongs to weigh the words which follow without any break in the sacred text (although the division of the chapters leads many readers to overlook the close connection). ' After these things I heard, as it were, the voice of much people in heaven, saying, " Alleluia. Salvation, and glory, and power is to our God. For just and true are His judgments, who hath judged the great harlot which corrupted the earth with her fornications, and He hath avenged the blood of His servants at her hands." And again they said, " Alleluia. And her smoke ascendeth for ever and ever." ' Here is the answer to that cry of the angel, ' Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets.'
Were any comment needed upon such prophecies any explanation of the sentence passed upon a civilisation so great, so ancient, so widely extended, and so refined--anything to reconcile us to the utter destruction of so much that was fair and mighty, we may find it in the Iatter half of the lecture before us. Not that our author is insensible to the marvellous beauty of that glow with which classical literature causes the figures of those days to shine before us. That would be impossible for a man of his studies. He says
Is not the very language of Cicero and Virgil an expression of this ordly yet peaceful rule; this even, undisturbed majesty, which holds the world together like the regularity of the seasons, like the alternations of light and darkness, like the all-pervading warmth of the sun ? If every language reflects the character of the race which speaks it, surely we discern in the very strain of Virgil the closing of the gates of war, the settling of the nations down to the arts of peace, the reign of law and order, the amity and concord of races, the weak protected, the strong ruled ; in a word,
' Romanos rerum dominos, gentemque togatam.'
Neither, need it hardly be said, has he set the hideous pollutions of that civilisation fully before us : that is rendered impossible by its very hideousness. Let those who recoil from the horrors of what he has said but a faint outline of the miserable truth, though traced with singular artistic force and beauty bear in mind the while the words of the inspired prophecy, ' All nations have drunk of the wine of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her'--' Her sins have reached unto heaven, and the Lord shall reward her iniquities'--
In her was found the blood of prophets, and saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.' The crimes as well as the civilisation of a thousand years were accumulated at Rome, and both were swept away together by that overwhelming flood of fierce barbarians. Little were it worthy of Christians to mourn over a civilisation into whose very heartstrings such unutterable pollution was intertwined ; especially as it was removed, not like Babylon of old, to leave behind it nothing but desolation, but to make room for that kingdom of God which was to be enthroned upon its ruins ; for such was the purpose of God, that the very centre of Christendom, the very seat of the throne of Christ upon earth, on which lie would visibly sit in the person of his Vicar, was there to be established, whence the throne of the Caesars and the golden house of Nero had been swept away in headlong ruin. ' I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth was gone. And I heard a great voice from the throne saying, " Behold the tabernacle of God with men, and He will dwelt with them. And they shall be His people, and God Him-self shall be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.'" "And He that sat on the throne said, " Behold, I make all things new."' The full accomplishment of these words we expect, in faith and hope, when ' death shall be no more, nor mourning, nor crying, nor sorrow shall be any more ; for the former things are passed away ;' yet, surely, whatever more glorious accomplishment is yet to come, it were blindness not to see how far they are already fulfilled in the substitution of Christendom for the civilised pagan world the setting up the throne of the Vicar of Christ upon the ruins of the palace of the Caesars.
First among the causes of that hideous accumulated mixture of blood and filth in which heathen civilisation was drowned, Mr. Allies most justly places the institution of slavery as it was at Rome, because by this the springs of human life were tainted. It is certain that during all the long years of the duration of the Roman empire, there was among its heathen population no one human being who lived beyond the earliest childhood, who was not polluted, and whose very soul was not scarred and branded by the marks of that hideous moral pestilence. I say ' its heathen population,' because, great as must have been the evil it wrought upon ordinary Christians, I doubt not that there were those who gathered honey out of corruption, and whose justice, charity, and purity carne out from that furnace of temptation with a brightness which nothing but the most fiery trial could have given to them. From slavery the whole of Roman society received its form. The author most truly says, 'The spirit of slavery is never limited to the slave ; it saturates the atmosphere which the freeman breathes together with the slave, passes into his nature, and corrupts it.' This miserable truth can never be too often impressed upon men, because unhappily there are still advocates of slavery who think that they apologise for it if they can prove, as they think, that the slave is happy. As well might they argue that the introduction of the plague into London would be no calamity, if the man who brought it in upon him entered the city dancing and shouting. In ancient Italy slaves replaced the hardy rustics, that ' prisca gens mortalium,' who, though doubtless far less virtuous than they appeared in the fevered dreams of men sick of the vices of Rome in the last days of the republic, were still among the best specimens of heathen life. Wherever slavery extends, labour becomes dishonourable, as the badge of servitude, a few masters languish in bloated luxury, but the nation itself grows constantly poorer, as an ever-increasing proportion of its population has to be maintained in indolence. At Rome slaves were the only domestic servants, and after a time the only manufacturers. And yet even this is nothing compared to the evils of a state of society in which the great majority of women as well as of men are the absolute property of their masters. Horrible as was this state of things, it offered so many gratifications to the corrupt natures of those whose hands held the power of the world, and without whose consent it could not be abolished, that it would have seemed to any one who had ever witnessed the life of a wealthy Roman noble, no less than madness to imagine that any man would ever willingly surrender them.
As a matter of fact, so far was this state of society from holding out any hope of its own amendment, whether sudden or gradual, that, as my author remarks
Of all the minds which have left a record of themselves, from Cicero to Tacitus, there is not one who does not look upon the world's course as a rapid descent They feel an immense moral corruption breaking in on all sides, which wealth, convenience of life, and prosperity only enhance.. They have no hope for humanity, for they have no faith in it, nor in any power encompassing and directing it.
Faithless and hopeless they were ; but whatever this world could give they had in abundance :--
In the time of heathenism the world of sense which surrounded man flattered and caressed all his natural powers, and solicited an answer from them ; and in return he flung himself greedily upon that world, and tried to exhaust its treasures. Glory, wealth, and pleasure intoxicated his heart with their dreams ; he crowned himself with the earth's flowers, and drank in the air's perfume ; and in one object or another, in one after another, he sought enjoyment and satisfaction. The world had nothing more to give him ; nor will the latest growth of civilisation surpass the profusion with which the earth poured forth its gifts to those who consented to seek on the earth alone their home and their reward ; though, indeed, they were the few, to whom the many were sacrificed. The Roman noble, with the pleasures of a vanquished world at his feet, with men and women from the fairest climes of the earth to do his bidding men who, though slaves, had learnt all the arts and letters of Greece, and were ready to use them for the benefit of their lords ; and women, the most beautiful and accomplished of their sex, who were yet the property of these same lords the Roman noble, as to material and even intellectual enjoyment, stood on a vantage-ground which never again man can hope to occupy, however
'Through the ages an increasing purpose runs,
Caesar and Pompey, Lucullus and Hortensius, and the fellows of their order, were orators, statesmen, jurists and legislators, generals, men of literature, and luxurious nobles at the same time ; and they were this because they could use the minds as well as the bodies of others at their pleasure. Not in this direction was an advance possible (P- 159).
The author draws with great skill and vigour a picture of the moral society of the heathen world, and of the beliefs upon which the practice of the heathen rested. Into these I have no room to follow him. At the end of this lecture he shows what sights they were which met the eyes of a stranger coming from the East in the days of Nero an execution in which four hundred men, women, and children were marched through the streets of Rome to the cross, because their master had been killed by one of his slaves. In all such cases the Roman law required that every slave in the house, however innocent, however young or however old-man, woman, or child should be put to death. Thence the stranger passed to a scene of debauchery such as the world had never imagined, in the gardens close to the Pantheon. This stranger why has he come to Rome, and what is he doing there ? Poor, unknown, a foreigner in dress, language, and demeanour, he is corne from a distant province, small in extent, but the most despised and the most disliked of Rome's hundred provinces, to found in Rome itself a society, and one, too, far more extensive than this great Roman Empire, since it is to embrace all nations ; far more lasting, since it is to endure for ever. He is come to found a society, by means of which all that he sees around him, from the Emperor to the slave, shall be changed (p. 101).
What madness can have inspired such a hope, or what miracle, real or simulated, could fulfil it? And that, not in the golden age of pastoral simplicity, in which men looked for wonders with an uncritical eye, but ' amid the dregs of Romulus,' when all the world seemed to have fallen together into the ` sere and yellow leaf.'
He has two things within him, for want of which society was perishing and man unhappy : a certain knowledge of God as the Creator, Ruler, judge, and Rewarder of men ; and of man's soul made after the image and likeness of this God. This God he has seen, touched, and handled upon earth ; has been an eye-witness of His majesty, has received His message, and bears His commission. But whence had this despised foreigner received the double knowledge of God and of the soul, so miserably lost as we have seen) to this brilliant Roman civilisation ?
In the latter years of Augustus, when the foundations of the imperial rule had been laid, and the structure mainly raised by his practical wisdom, there had dwelt a poor family in a small town of evil repute, not far from the lake of the remote province where this fisherman plied his trade. It consisted of an elderly man, a youthful wife, and one young child. The man gained his livelihood as a carpenter, and the child worked with him. Complete obscurity rested upon this household till the child grew to the age of thirty years (p. 104).
Then follows, in few words, the history of His life, death, and resurrection. These things the fisherman had seen, and in this was the power which was to substitute a new life for the corrupt civilisation of a world.
The details of the comparison which follows we may leave to be considered when the work is continued. They are drawn out with great spirit, thoughtfulness, and artistic beauty. For the comparison of the two systems in an individual Mr. Allies selects on the one side Cicero, on the other S. Augustine. An able re-viewer has maintained that 'Marcus Aurelius was the person to compare with S. Augustine.' Mr. Allies has given his reasons for not selecting either Marcus Aurelius or Epictetus in the defective religious system of both. There were, however, other grounds which seem to me even stronger. To test what heathenism can do, it was necessary that the example selected should, as a chemist would say, present not a 'trace' of any other influence. Now this was impossible in the days of Epictetus or Aurelius. Christianity had then been taught and professed publicly and without restraint for many years, with only occasional bursts of persecution since Nero first declared war upon it. Its theology, indeed, was fully known only to the faithful, but its moral code was publicly professed. The Christian teachers came before the people as philosophers. It is absolutely certain that all the great Stoics, and especially the emperor, must often and often have heard of the great moral and religious principles laid down by the Christian teachers, however imperfect was his knowledge of their religious practices. But I have already had occasion to remark that men are driven, whether they will or no, to approve and admit these great principles when they are only publicly stated and maintained, although certain not to have discovered them by their unassisted reason. I cannot, therefore, but regard the religious and moral maxims of the later Stoics as an imperfect reflection of the full light of Christianity, like the moonlight illuminating without warming, but still taking such hold of the minds which have once embraced them, that they could never be forgotten. The life and practice of the imperial philosopher, I have every reason to believe, was, for a man without the faith and the sacraments, wonderfully high. Far be it from me to depreciate it, for whatever there was in it that was really good I know resulted from that grace which is given even beyond the bounds of the Church. But our knowledge of details is most meagre, while Cicero we know probably more familiarly than any great man in whose intimacy we have not lived. The thoughts and speculations which approved themselves to the deliberate judgment of Marcus Aurelius, these we know, and in many respects they are wonderful. Of his life we know little more than he chose publicly to exhibit to his subjects. The failings of Cicero were petty and degrading ; but if he had been firmly seated on the throne of the Caesars, and if we had possessed no more exact details of his life than we do of the life of Marcus Aurelius, I much doubt whether we should have been aware of them. Merivale says 'The high standard by which we claim to judge him is in itself the fullest acknowledgment of his transcendent merits ; for, undoubtedly, had he not placed himself on a higher level than the statesmen and sages of his day, we should pass over many of his weaknesses in silence, and allow his pretensions to our regard to pass almost unchallenged. But we demand a nearer approach to the perfection of human wisdom and virtue in one who sought to approve himself as the greatest of their teachers.' He was condemned indeed by his heathen countrymen, but their censure was rather of his greatness than his goodness, and they would probably have been even more severe had he attained what he did not even aim at Christian humility.
Considering these things, and especially that Cicero belonged almost to the last generation, which was wholly uninfluenced by the reflected light of Christianity, and in which, therefore, we can to a considerable degree measure the real effects of heathen philosophy, I venture to think that Mr. Allies has judged well in comparing him as the mode] heathen with S. Augustine as the model Christian. The comparison is drawn with a masterly hand.
On the whole, however, I incline to think that the two last lectures are of the greatest practical value, especially at the present crisis. The salt by which Christianity acts upon the world seems to be martyrdom and holy virginity_ Both of them have been always in operation since the days of John the Baptist. But there are periods of comparative stillness in which martyrdom is hardly seen, or at least only at the outposts of the Christian host. At such times, it is by holy virginity that the Church acts most directly and most powerfully upon the world. This was the case in the Roman Empire as soon as persecution relaxed.
The author says,
A great Christian writer [S. Chrysostome] who stood between the old pagan world and the new society which was taking its place, and who was equally familiar with both, made, near the end of the fourth century, the following observation : 'The Greeks had some few men, though it was but few, among them, who, by the force of philosophy, came to despise riches ; and some, too, who could control the irascible part of man ; but the flower of virginity was nowhere to be found among them. Here they always gave precedence to us, confessing that to succeed in such a thing was to be superior to nature and more than man. Hence their profound admiration for the whole Christian people. The Christian host derived its chief lustre from this portion of its ranks.' And, again, he notes the existence, in his time, of three different sentiments respecting this institution.The Jews,' he says, turn with abhorrence from the beauty of virginity ; which, indeed, is no wonder, since they treated with dishonour the very Son of the Virgin Himself. The Greeks, however, admire it, and look up to it with astonishment, but the Church of God alone cultivates it.' After fifteen hundred years we find the said sentiments in three great classes of the world. The pagan nations, among whom Catholic missionaries go forth, reproduce the admiration of Greek and Latin pagans ; they reverence that which they have not strength to follow, and are often drawn by its exhibition into the fold. But there are nations who likewise reproduce the Jewish abhorrence of the virginal life. And as the Jews worshipped the unity of the godhead, like the Christians, and so seemed to be far nearer to them than pagan idolaters, and yet turned with loathing from this product of Christian life, so those nations might seem from the large portions of Christian doctrine which they still hold, to be nearer to Christianity than the Hindoo and the Chinese ; and yet their contempt and dislike for the virginal life and its wonderful institutions seems to tell another tale. But now, as fifteen hundred years ago, whether those outside admire or abhor, the Church alone cultivates the virginal life. Now, as then, it is her glory and her strength, the mark of her Lord, and the standard of H is power, the most special sign of His presence and operation. ' If,' says the same writer, 'you take away its seemliness and its continuity of devotion, you cut the very sinews of the virginal estate ; so when it is possessed together with the best conduct of life. you have in it the root and support of all good things : just as a most fruitful soil nurtures a root, so a good conduct bears the fruits of virginity. Or, to speak with greater truth, the crucified life is at once both its root and its fruit (p. 382).
I must conclude by expressing my deliberate conviction that no study can be more important at the present day than that of the change from heathen civilisation to Christendom, the means by which it was brought about, and the effects which it produced. For in our day, most eminently, the Protestant falling away is producing its fruits in restoring throughout all Europe more and more of the special characteristics of heathen society_ I have not room at present to offer any proofs of this, but I would beg every reader to observe for himself, and I am confident that his experience will confirm what I say. Nor is it only Catholics that are aware of this tendency. A thoughtful writer in the Saturday Review' six months back devoted a whole article to trace the points of resemblance between an educated English Protestant of our day and a heathen of cultivated mind. Those who feel disposed at once to regard the idea as an insult are probably judging of heathen civilisation by Nero and Domitian. Mr. Allies's book will at least dispel this delusion. In fact, it is only too obvious that there is, even in our own day, no want of plausibility in what is, at the bottom, only revived heathenism ; and, in consequence of this remarkable resemblance, nothing could be more strictly practical at the present moment than any studies which show us the old heathen civilisation as it really was, in its attractive as well as its repulsive qualities.