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LITERARY CONDITION OF THE AGE OF FAITH. 419.
to the last degree of more than African abasement in bleeding statues and winking pictures. In Europe there had been incorporated old forms of worship and old festivals with Christian ones without any scruple; the local gods and goddesses had been replaced by saints; for deification canonization had been substituted. There had been produced a civilization, the character of which was its extraordinary intolerance. A man could not be suspected of doubting the popular belief without risk to his goods, his body, or his life. As a necessary consequence, there could be no great lawgivers, no philosophers, no poets. Society was pervaded by a systematic hypocrisy. This tyranny over others sometimes led to strange results. It caused the Jews to discover the art of making wealth invisible by bills of exchange and other such like means, so that money might be imperceptibly but instantaneously moved. Thus, after the dying out of Greek science, there followed, among the new populations, an intellectual immobility, which soon became the centre of a vast number of growing interests quickly and firmly crystallizing round it. For them it was essential that there should be no change-no advance. In the midst of jarrings and conflicts between those interests, that condition was steadfastly maintained, as if through instinct, by them all. It mattered not how antiquated were the forms insisted on, nor how. far they outraged common sense. New life was given to decaying illusions, and, in return, strength was gathered from them. Isis, with the moon beneath her feet, and was planted, under a new name, on the Bosphorus and the Tiber. African theology, African ecclesiastical machinery, and African monasticism were made objects of reverence to unsuspecting Europe. Juvenal says that the Roman painters of his day lived on the goddess Isis. The Italian painters of a later day lived on her modernized form. In such a condition of things the literary state could be no other than barren. Political combinations had not only prescribed an intellectual terminus, but had even laid down a rail upon which mental excursions were to be made, and from which there was no departing; or, if a turn-out was permitted, it was a tonsured man who stood at the switch. For centuries together, if we exclude theological writings, there was absolutely no literature worth the name. Life seems to have been spent in the pursuit of mere physical enjoyment, and that enjoyment of a very low kind. When in the south of France and Sicily literature began to dawn, it is not to be overlooked how much of it was of an amatory kind; and love is the strongest of the passions. The first aspect of Western literature was animal, not intellectual. A taste for learning excited, there reappeared in the schools the old treatises written a thousand years before-the Elements of Euclid, the Geography of Ptolemy. Long after the Reformation there was.
420 DECLINE OF PATRISTICISM.
an intellectual imbecility which might well excite our mirth, if it were not the index of a stage through which the human mind must pass. Often enough we see it interestingly in the interweaving of the old with the new ideas. If we take up a work on metallurgy, it commences with Tubal Cain; if on music, with Jubal. The history of each country is traced back to the sons of Noah, or at least to the fugitives from the siege of Troy. An admiration for classical authors may perhaps be excused. It exhibited itself amusingly in the eccentricity of interlarding compositions of every kind with Greek and Latin quotations. It was an age of literary innocence, when no legend was too stupendous for credulity; when there was no one who had ever suspected that Tully, as they delighted to call him, was not a great philosopher, and Virgil not a great poet. Of those ponderous, those massive folios on ecclesiastical affairs, at once the product and representatives of the time, but little needs here to be said. They boasted themselves as the supreme effort of human intellect; they laid claim to an enduring authority; to many they had a weight little less than the oracles of God. But if their intrinsic value is to be measured by their pretensions, and their pretensions judged of by their present use, what is it that must be said? Long ago their term was reached, long ago they became obsolete. They have no reader. Such must be the issue of any literature springing from an immovable, an unexpanding basis, the offspring of thought that has been held in subjugation by political formulas, or of intellectual energies that have been cramped. The Roman ecclesiastical system, like the Byzantine, had been irrevocably committed in an opposition to intellectual development. It professed to cultivate the morals, but it crushed the mind. Yet, in the course of events, this state of things was to come to an end through the working of other principles equally enduring and more powerful. They constitute what we may speak of under the title of the Arabian element. On preceding pages it has been shown that, on the transit of the Saracens through Egypt, they came under the influence of the Nestorians and Hellenizing Jews, acquiring from them a love of philosophy, which soon manifested itself in full energy from the banks of the Euphrates to those of the Guadalquivir. The hammer of Charles Martel might strike down the ranks of the Saracens on the field of Tours, but there was something intangible, something indestructible accompanying them, which the Frank chivalry could not confront. To the Church there was an evil omen. It has been well remarked that in the Provengal poetry there are noble bursts of crusading religious sentiment, but they are incorporated with a sovereign contempt for the clergy. The biography of any of the physicians or alchemists of the thirteenth.