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After an account of the mode of we have as yet been considering; they had education adopted in those under-rated no acquaintance either with the social or the ages, he proceeds as follows:
scientific refinements of the Romans. Such
were the Franks in Gaul, and the Saxons in “ The reproach, then, which is common. Britain. If we must fix upon some period ly thrown out against the Teutonic nations as that of complete void, -as a time of ig. —that they introduced barbarity and ignor- norance, darkness, and destruction-we shall ance into all those provinces of the Roman find the nearest approximation to what we empire to which their vietories reached, is, wish in the age which elapsed between the at least in the extent which is commonly reigns of Theodorick and Charlemagne. given to it, altogether false and ungrounded. But while Italy remained bowed down un. To none, however, of all these nations is it der the barbarous oppression of Byzantium, applied with so much injustice as to the the light of knowledge had found its refuge Goths, who lived at the time of the first in the cloisters of Ireland and Scotland; and northern inroads. For many centuries be. no sooner had the Saxons in England received fore these expeditions coinmenced, the Goths the first rudiments of knowledge along with had been already Christians; they were well their Christianity, than they at once carried acquainted with the importance of regular all branches of science to a height of perfecHaws, and with the relations of the learned tion at that time altogether unrivalled among and religious orders of society; and the the nations of the west. By them this light truth is, that, far from promoting any work was carried into France and Germany, of destruction in the Roman provinces, they there never more to be extinguished. For were indefatigable, so far as their powers from this time knowledge was not only sysand circumstances admitted of it, in for- tematically preserved, but unweariedly cultiwarding and maintaining the interests of vated and extended, insomuch that the pro. science. The only exception to this is to per period of revival should, I think, be pla. be found in those times when the Gothic ced, not in the time of the crusades, but in tribes entered Italy under the guide of a that of Charlemagne. But even in the dark. foreign, a savage, and a heathen conquer- est period of all, that between the sixth cen. or; or when in some particular instances tury and the eighth, the foundations were they were exasperated by party-hatred and already laid for that mighty engine of in. Arian bigotry, to take too severe revenge struction which was afterwards perfected by against the equal hatred and bigotry of their the wisdom of Charlemagne. The estab. Catholic opponents. Even the last flourish. lishment of learned cloisters and brother. ing era of what still might be called ancient hoods had already commenced. It is to the Roman literature, took place under Theo. after extension of these spiritual corpora, dorick; and never did the mock patriotism tions, by whose exertions lands were render. of Italians take up a more ridiculous idea ed fruitful, and peoples civilized, and scien. than in the favourite theme of their later ces useful, and states secure, that Western poets-the deliverance of Italy from the Europe is indebted for the superiority which power of the Goths. In the time of Theo. she attained over the Byzantines on the one dorick, and under the government of the hand, who were possessed of more hereditary Goths, Italy was just beginning to enjoy the knowledge, and the Arabs on the other, who opening of a new period of happiness. The had every advantage that external power true misery and the true barbarism began and proselytizing enthusiasm could afford when the Goths were expelled, and Italy. them. That the result should have been submitted her neck once more to the dend. what we now see it, could scarcely, I should ening tyranny of Byzantine Eunuchs and suppose, have been believed to be within the Satraps. Let us also compare for a mo. reach of possibility by any contemporary spec. inent the activity and life of Western Eu
While Alfred lived almost in the porope,—her nationalities, her adventures, verty of a poet, and while Charlemagne and her chivalrous poetry—with the long practised in his own palace the frugality of and mortal sleep under which the Eastern a monk, how must their attempts in the Empire lay for a thousand ycars--and we cause of science have been limited by the shall have no difficulty in dcciding where narrowness of their means? and what, on the charges of sloth and imorance ought to the contrary, would have been too much for fall. And yet the Byzantines were in pos. Tiaroon al Ruscheed to perform_living as session of much greater literary riches, and he did in the midst of the untroubled splenof several useful inventions, with which the dour of Bagdad, and having it in his power west was entirely unacquainted. The mat- to forward the cause of science by all the ter of chief importance in all civilization aids which ingenuity could invent, or magand all literature is not the dead treasures nificence supply? The result may give us we possess, but the living uses 10 wliich we an important lesson, and teach us not to reapply them.
pose our confidence in the munificence of But the effect was beyond all comparison kings. Science is not made to be cultivated more unfortunate in the case of those wan. in obedience to the command of a monarch. dering and conquering Teutonic nations He lends it indeed a temporary favour, but which were not yet Christians; these were it is only that it may increase his own fame, much more rude in their manners than those and throw additional lustre around hj
throne. Caliphs and Sultans attempted in sistent. When we wish to depict the corvain to effect what was slowly and calmly ruption of the clergy, we inveigh against accomplished in the unpretending cloisters them for tyrannizing over kingdoms and of the west.
conducting negotiations ; but if we talk of The exertions of Charlemagne in securing their works, then they were all ignorant, the independence, and diffusing the estaba slothful Monks, who knew nothing of the lishment of religious houses, have entitled world, and therefore could not possibly him to the warmest gratitude of Europe, write histories. Perhaps the very best of and the admiration of every cultivated age. all situations for a writer of history is one But we must not conceal from ourselves, not widely differing from that of a Monkthat great as were the merits of Charle. one in which he enjoys abundant opportumagne, both in regard to the vernacular and nities of gaining experimental knowledge of the Latin literature of Europe, they were men and their affairs, but is at the same still inferior to those of Alfred. That wise time independent of the world and its transand virtuous monarch was not only like actions, and has full liberty to mature in Charlemagne, the unwearied patron of learn. retirement his reflections upon that which he ing in all its branches; he was himself a has seen. Such was the situation of many scholar and a philosopher, and he even con- of those German historians who flourished tributed more than any other individual to- in the days of the Saxon Emperors. The wards the elegant formation of the Anglo- more the study of history advances, the saxon tongue. But the successful expedi. more universally are their merits recognised. tions of the Danes threw back the progress But if Germany had the advantage in his. of England; and the literary establish. tory, the superiority of France and England ments founded by Charlemagne in France was equally apparent in philosophy. These and Southern Germany were disturbed, in countries, indeed, had already produced setheir infancy, by the attacks made on the veral distinguished philosophical writers, one part of his empire by the Normans, and even before the influence of the Arabians on the other by the Hungarians. The li had introduced the monopolizing despotism terature which flourished soon afterwards of Aristotle. In the 9th century there arose under the Saxon Emperors was in every that profound inquirer who, as it is doubt. respect far superior to that of the days of ful whether he was a Scotsman or an IrishAlfred or Charlemagne. At that time Ger. man, is now known by the reconciling name many was rich above all other things in of Scotus Erigena. No less profound, good writers of history, from Eginhard, the though somewhat more limited in their apsecretary of Charlemagne, down to Otto von plication, were the views of Anselm. AbeFreysingen, a prince of the house of Baben- lard was both a thinker and an orator ; his berg, who was son to St Leopold, and grand language was elegant, and his knowledge of son to the great Barbarossa, of the imperial antiquity extensive---praises which he shares family of Hohenstaufen. Her riches in this with his illustrious scholar, John of Salisrespect were indeed greater than those of any bury." other country in Europe, nor is the circum- We have scarcely room to quote any stance to be wondered at, for she was in part of the two lectures in which fact the centre of all European politics. It Schlegel enlarges upon the poetry of is a very common thing to hear all those the middle age-above all the love Latin histories of the middle age, which were written by clergymen, classed together poetry or gaye science of the provinunder the same contemptuous appellation cials, and the mynnelieder of his own of “ Monkish Chronicles.” They who in countrymen. The whole subject of dulge in such ridicule, must, beyond all romance is discussed in a very lively, doubt, be either ignorant or forgetful, that though, considering its importance, in these Monkish writers were very often men perhaps too concise a manner. The of princely descent ; that they were intrust- influence of the crusades is among ed with the most important affairs of go- other things presented, we think, in a them; that they were the ambassadors and very striking light. We extract only travellers of the times; that they often pe
the concluding paragraphs, in which netrated into the remote East, and the still he gives something like a summing up more obscure regions of the North, and were of the conclusions to which his mind indeed the only persons capable of describ. has come. ing foreign countries and manners ; that in “ If we compare the old French tales and general they were the most accomplished fabliaux with the Arabian tales, we shall and intelligent men whom the world could have no difficulty in perceiving that the then produce; and that, in one word, if we greater part of these fictions had been were to have any histories at all of those brought from the East into Europe, in a ages, it was absolutely necessary they should great measure, it is probable, by the oral be written by the Monks. The reproaches narratives of the Crusaders. The small va. which we cast out against the men and the riations which have been introduced, and manners of the middle age, are indeed not the colouring of European manners which infrequently altogether absurd and incon- has so carefully been thrown over them,
cannot conceal the identity of the inventions. truth upon which they had originally been At the same time it is by no means unlikely established. that there was a re-action in the case, and “ With regard to the whole body that in those days of unexampled intercourse mantic fictions still extant, whether conbetween the East and the West, many Eu. nected or unconnected with the great subropean novels may have found their way to jects of the poetry of the middle age,-even the professional story-tellers of the Orientals
. with regard to those which are founded in But there is no evidence that we ever bor- part on true events, I know only one comrowed any entire heroic fictions from Orien- mon standard of criticism. Their value is tal sources ; even the fabulous history of always so much the higher in proportion as Alexander, although the adventures of the they are more dependent on a historical founMacedonian form the subject of one of the dation, more national in their import and best of the Persian romances, was not de- character, and more abounding in a free, rived to us from that quarter, but from a natural, and unaffected display of imaginaGreek book of popular legends, and the tion,-above all, in proportion as they are clothing of chivalrous manners, with which imbued with the spirit of love. I do not the fiction was afterwards invested, belonged allude merely to a mild, beautifying, and, exclusively to ourselves. Something similar at the same time, amiable mode of treating occurred in regard to our legends of the wars every thing that is represented, but rather to of Troy; we derived in like manner our ideas that spirit which forms the essential mark concerning the events of that period, not of distinction between the fictions of Chrisfrom the great poets of antiquity, but from tendom and all other fictions ; which, where another popular book of the same class. a tragical catastrophe is either inseparable Our own age, which is so rich in all historic from the nature of the subject, or introduced cal knowledge, and which holds the first on purpose by the poet, never allows us to place in every species of elaborate imitation, close with the single feeling of destruction, may indeed look down with great contempt oppression, or an inevitable fate—which bids on such rude and childish attempts as these the victim of sorrows and death rise to a poems which represent the siege of Troy, higher life with a more glorious presence, and other matters of antiquity, under the and offers to him who is overcome by earthdisguise of chivalrous manners. That dark ly enemies, or afflictions, the sure prospect age, nevertheless, however great may have of a recompense for all his endurance-a been its inferiority to our own time in every crown of victory in the heavens.” other respect, was certainly not without some advantage over us in regard to its compre, with which our author must have
In the second volume, the materials hension of the character, although not of the costume, of the earlier ages of antiquity. found himself surrounded are so imThe middle age was the heroic age of Chrise mense, that the conciseness and cleartendom, and in the heroic legends of the ness with which he has performed his Greeks there is much that may recall even great task of analysing and arranging to us the manners of chivalry. Tancred and them, appear to us worthy of the Richard, surrounded with their minstrels greatest admiration. His view of the and troubadours, stood in many respects in Italian, Spanish, French, and English a much nearer relation to Hector and Achil- literature, is such as could not have les, and the Trojan rhapsodists, than the been given by any other than a masfield-marshals and poets of a later and more cultivated generation. The achievements ter of all these extensive branches of of Alexander were made the favourite theme study; and when we recollect, that to of the romancers, merely because they, of all these accomplishments he must add all historical incidents, even without ficti. an exquisite knowledge of classical, tious embellishment, bear the greatest re- and no mean acquaintance with oriensemblance to heroic traditions, and because tal learning, our admiration for the the marvellous which they contain is above attainments must at least equal that all the true wonders of other conquerors, a. kin to that marvellous, which is the delight with which we regard the talents of of poets.
Frederick Schlegel. To most English * But the approximation of East and readers, one very considerable source West was not the only approximation cause of interest, in the perusal of this latter ed by the Crusades. The nations of the part of the work, must be derived West themselves were brought into closer from the religious opinions of the aucontact with each other than they had ever thor. He is a Christian, and he is not before experienced, and the fictions of all ashamed, amidst all his veneration for ages and all countries became inextricably Protestant worthies and Protestant mixture was in the end the chief cause why lands, to confess that his Christianity all the best, the most touching, and the is that of a Catholic. The liberality most peculiar of the European heroic le of his views, however, presents a very gends, dissolved themselves into mere play pleasing contrast to the bigotry of such pf fancy, and lost all traces of that historical French and Italian Catholics 'as are in [Aug.
Remarks on Schlegel's History of Literature. truth any thing else than concealed returning admonitions to bethink ourselves infidels. He is a man of powerful in earnest, and depart no more from the feeling and powerful fancy; and how- the path of truth.” ever we may differ from him in regard Patriotism, in all ages, depends in a to minor points, we can never hesitate great measure upon exclusiveness; but to love and admire the spirit in which in regard to religion, modern Europe all his opinions are conceived and de- may be considered as one vast nation, fended.
whose interest it is to fix the Christian · When certain panegyrists of the Re- faith as a central standard of feeling formation represent this as having been in and association in all the more serious itself alone a step forward of the human departments of literature. The case mind, and of philosophy—a deliverance is the same with regard to the chifrom error and prejudice-they are just valrous recollections of the middle taking for granted the very fact upon which we are at issue. One should think also that ages, which belong in common to the men might be rendered more cautious in several nations of Europe, as a stock the use of such expressions, when they re
whereupon to graft their heroical poeflect that, by the example of many great try; but it is evident, that philosophinations of Spain—of Italy-of Catholic cal modern Europeans can never look France during the seventeenth century back upon any past age with the same and of Southern Germany even in these serious reverence which the Greeks latest times—it can be proved, with little felt in reverting to their fabulous era of hazard of contradiction, that a very high, heroes and demi-gods. An heroical nay, that the very highest degrce of intel. lectual cultivation is perfectly compatible
era should lose itself in the mists of with the belief of those doctrines which the antiquity,—but ours does not.
It friends of Protestantism decry as antiquat
should likewise mingle itself with reed prejudices. The admirers of the Re. ligion,—but our religion admits of no formation should lay less stress upon its mixture of fables, capable of being consequences; for of these some were, as multiplied and diversified at will, like themselves admit, altogether unhappy, many those of the Greeks. If the real busiremote and assisted by the co-operation of ness of heroic poetry be to represens other causes. Besides, the effects are per- luman nature partaking of the marhaps in no case perfectly decisive as to the nature of the thing itself. The bigotted vellous, modern Europe cannot be exCatholics, on the other hand, who despise pected to produce any thing seriously the Reformation, and abhor it as altogether impressive in that line. Poems may irreconcileable with their own religious opi- be composed exhibiting a fine play nions, should at least recollect that the later, of fancy, but none of them will be if not the more immediate effects of that capable of exerting a permanent purmighty convulsion, have been beneficial and chase over our feelings and associasalutary. If we survey the history of the tions. In so far as the preternatural world with the feeling of belief,—if we are willing to recognize, in the fortunes and
is concerned, Paradise Lost is certainfates of mankind, the interposing hand of ly the real heroic poem of modern Providence, we shall perceive the same Europe ; and it will probably remain spectacle in every direction. Everywhere the only one, since it has pre-occupied we shall see men presented with the hap- almost all those parts of sacred history piest opportunities, intreated as it were, to which were such as to be adorned, do good, to know the truth, and to reach and not disfigured, by poetical colourthe eminence of true greatness and true ex. ing. It is the only modern poem recellence ; intreated however, not compelled; collected with sufficient earnestness to for their own co-operation is necessary if they would be what fits the destiny of their be considered as a true epic. nature. Rarely, very rarely, do men make
Although a great part of Schlegel's the proper use of the means they are in. work is filled with an account of the trusted to employ; often do they pervert literature of his own country, yet,
here them to the most dangerous abuses, and sink again, we suspect his labours are not even deeper into their ancient errors. Pro much calculated for the edification of vidence is, if we may so speak, ever strug. foreign readers.
He touches upon gling with the carelessness and the pervers- every thing indced, and he does this ity of man; scarcely by our own guilt and with a masterly hand; but, unless by blindness have we been plunged into some great and fearful evil, ere the Benefactor of a very few good German scholars aour nature causes unexpected blessings to mong us, we fear little will be learned spring out of the bosom of our merited inis. from a mode of writing which prefortune-warnings and lessons, expressed in supposes so much information. The deeds and events, furnishing us with ever translation, in order to become really
useful in the hands of English read- of white, black, red, and brown. But how ers, should have been accompanied little is gained by all this, as to the only with copious notes and illustrations,- real question, an answer to which should we need scarcely add, not compiled form the proper history of mankind ? How after the fashion of Mr Hobhouse's little do we learn as to the origin and proillustrations of Childe Harold.
per state, or the present lamentable and
fallen condition, of human nature ? The The concluding lectures abound,
answer to this question, which is the essence however, in most profound and im- of all history, can only be supplied by reportant reflections, with regard to sub- ligion and philosophy; that philosophy, I jects which all of us should at least be mean, which has no other ambition and no capable of understanding. Our own el- other end but to support religion. In these der authors appear to have been studied false histories of mankind, the worthy offby this accomplished German with an spring of the degraded and material philo. enthusiasm seldom equalled among minant idea is always, that man sprung
sophy of the eighteenth century, the predoourselves; and if the present state of originally from the dust like a mushroom, our literature be not represented by and differed from it only by the possession him either so fully or so favourably as of locomotive power and of consciousness. might have been expected, we must at. The ambition of their authors is to repretribute this solely to the distant resi- sent us as originally brutes, and to shew dence and multifarious occupations of how, by the progress of our own ingenious the author. How well he has studied contrivances, art has been added to art, and one important part of the subject, the science to science, till our nature has gra
dually reached the high eminence on which following extract, and it is the last we
it now stands. The greater intimacy of shall venture upon, will prove. connexion can be established between us
“ The art of historical writing is evident- and the ourang-ou-tang (that favourite of so ly quite on the decline in England. One many philosophers of the last century), the great cause of this consists, I imagine, in more rational are supposed to be our opi. the want of any stable and satisfactory nions concerning our species, and its history. philosophy, a defect sufficiently apparent “ The philosophy of sensation, which even in the three great writers whom I have was unconsciously bequeathed to the world enumerated. Without some rational and by Bacon, and reduced to the shade of a ree due conceptions of the fate and destiny of gular system by Locke, first displayed in man, it is impossible to form any just and France the true immorality and destructiveconsistent opinion, even concerning the pro- ness of which it is the parent, and assumed gress of events, the developement of times, the appearance of a perfect sect of atheism. and the fortunes of nations. In every situa- In England it took a different course; in tion history and philosophy should be as that country it could not indeed be suppose much as possible united. Philosophy, if ed likely to produce the same effects, bealtogether separated from history, and des. cause the old principles of religion were retitute of the spirit of criticism, which is the garded as far too intimately connected with result of the union to which I have alluded, national welfare to be easily abandoned. can be nothing more than a wild existence The spirit of English thought was moreover of sect and formality. History, on the other naturally inclined to adopt the paradoxical hand, without the animating spirit of phi. and sceptical side of this philosophy rather losophy, is merely a dead heap of useless than the material and atheistical. The materials, devoid of internal unity, proper most singular phenomenon in the whole purpose, or worthy result. The want of sa- history of philosophy is perhaps the exis. tisfying and sane views and principles, is tence of such a man as Berkeley, who carnowhere more conspicuous than in those ried the system of Locke, as far as utterly histories of mankind, as they have been cal. to disbelieve the existence of the external led, originally produced in England, and world, and yet continued all the while a de. more recently written among ourselves. yout Christian bishop. How external ob. From the immense storehouse of travels and jects come into contact with our intellect, so voyages, a few facts are collected, which that it forms notions of them—this was a make up loose portraits of the fisher, the point upon which the philosophy of that hunter, the emigration of the early nations, time neither came nor could come to any and the different conditions of agricultural, satisfactory conclusion. All that we perpastoral, and commercial peoples. This is ceive or feel of these things, is, after all, called a view of the history of mankind, and only an impression, a change upon our. there is no doubt that it contains many in- selves. We may pursue it as far as we dividual points of great interest and impor. will; we can lay hold on only such a notance, with respect to the progress and ha. tion or perception of an object, not the obbits of our species. Such would be the ject itself. That seems, the more we seek case, even if we should treat of men entire. it, to fly the farther from us. If we conly according to their corporeal subdivisions sider nature, as either itself animated, or as