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Project Gutenberg's Great Men and Famous Women. Vol. 3 of 8, by Various

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Title: Great Men and Famous Women. Vol. 3 of 8
       A series of pen and pencil sketches of the lives of more
              than 200 of the most prominent personages in History

Author: Various

Editor: Charles F. Horne

Release Date: August 27, 2008 [EBook #26423]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by Sigal Alon, Christine P. Travers and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at (This
file was produced from images generously made available
by The Internet Archive/Canadian Libraries)

Transcriber's note: Obvious printer's errors have been corrected, all other inconsistencies are as in the original. The author's spelling has been maintained.

Justinian and his council.


A Series of Pen and Pencil Sketches of


Vol. III.


Copyright, 1894, BY SELMAR HESS
edited by Charles F. Horne

New-York: Selmar Hess Publisher
Copyright, 1894, by Selmar Hess.





JUSTINIAN AND HIS COUNCIL, Benjamin Constant Frontispiece
LOUIS XI. AND OLIVIER LE DAIN, Hermann Kaulbach 112


DIOGENES IN HIS TUB, Jean Lêon Gérôme 44
DEATH OF ARCHIMEDES, Gustave Courtois 60
THE MUEZZIN, Jean Lêon Gérôme 100
EXECUTION OF HUSS, C. G. Hellquist 110
COPERNICUS, O. Brausewetter 124


Lives of great men all remind us,
We can make our lives sublime,
And departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time.—LONGFELLOW

By Henry George
(1571-1451 B.C.)


Three great religions place the leader of the Exodus upon the highest plane they allot to man. To Christendom and to Islam, as well as to Judaism, Moses is the mouthpiece of the Most High; the medium, clothed with supernatural powers, through which the Divine Will has spoken. Yet this very exaltation, by raising him above comparison, may prevent the real grandeur of the man from being seen. It is amid his brethren that Saul stands taller and fairer.

On the other hand, the latest school of Biblical criticism asserts that the books and legislation attributed to Moses are really the product of an age subsequent to that of the prophets. Yet to this Moses, looming vague and dim, of whom they can tell us almost nothing, they, too, attribute the beginning of that growth which flowered centuries after in the humanities of Jewish law, and again, higher still and fairer, gleamed forth in that star of spiritual light which rested over the stable of Bethlehem, in Judea.

But whether wont to look on Moses in this way or in that, it may be sometimes (p. 002) worth our while to take the point of view in which all shades of belief may find common ground, and accepting the main features of Hebrew record,[2] consider them in the light of history, and of human nature as it shows itself to-day. Here is a case in which sacred history may be treated as we would treat profane history without any shock to religious feeling. The keenest criticism cannot resolve Moses into a myth. The fact of the Exodus presupposes such a leader.

To lead into freedom a people long crushed by tyranny; to discipline and order such a mighty host; to harden them into fighting men, before whom warlike tribes quailed and walled cities went down; to repress discontent and jealousy and mutiny; to combat reactions and reversions; to turn the quick, fierce flame of enthusiasm to the service of a steady purpose, require some towering character—a character blending in highest expression the qualities of politician, patriot, philosopher, and statesman.

Such a character in rough but strong outline the tradition shows us—the union of the wisdom of the Egyptians with the unselfish devotion of the meekest of men. From first to last, in every glimpse we get, this character is consistent with itself, and with the mighty work which is its monument. It is the character of a great mind, hemmed in by conditions and limitations, and working with such forces and materials as were at hand—accomplishing, yet failing. Behind grand deed, a grander thought. Behind high performance, the still nobler ideal.

Egypt was the mould of the Hebrew nation—the matrix in which a single family, or, at most, a small tribe, grew to a people as numerous as the American people at the time of the Declaration of Independence. For four centuries, according to the Hebrew tradition—a period as long as America has been known to Europe—this growing people, coming a patriarchal family from a roving, pastoral life, had been placed under the dominance of a highly developed and ancient civilization—a civilization symbolized by monuments that rival in endurance the everlasting hills; a civilization so ancient that the Pyramids, as we now know, were hoary with centuries ere Abraham looked on them.

Moses in the bulrushes.

No matter how clearly the descendants of the kinsmen who came into Egypt at the invitation of the boy-slave become prime minister, maintained the distinction of race, and the traditions of a freer life, they must have been powerfully affected by such a civilization; and just as the Hebrews of to-day are Polish in Poland, German in Germany, and American in the United States, so, but far more clearly and strongly, the Hebrews of the Exodus must have been Egyptian.

(p. 003) It is not remarkable, therefore, that the ancient Hebrew institutions show in so many points the influence of Egyptian ideas and customs. What is remarkable is the dissimilarity. To the unreflecting nothing may seem more natural than that a people, in turning their back upon a land where they had been long oppressed, should discard its ideas and institutions. But the student of history, the observer of politics, know that nothing is more unnatural. For "institutions make men." And when amid a people used to institutions of one kind, we see suddenly arise institutions of an opposite kind, we know that behind them must be that active, that initiative force—the "men who in the beginnings make institutions."

This is what occurs in the Exodus. The striking differences between Egyptian and Hebrew policy are not of form but of essence. The tendency of the one is to subordination and oppression; of the other, to individual freedom. Strangest of recorded births! from out the strongest and most splendid despotism of antiquity comes the freest republic. From between the paws of the rock-hewn Sphinx rises the genius of human liberty, and the trumpets of the Exodus throb with the defiant proclamation of the rights of man.

Consider what Egypt was. The very grandeur of her monuments testify to the enslavement of the people—are the enduring witnesses of a social organization that rested on the masses an immovable weight. That narrow Nile Valley, the cradle of the arts and sciences, the scene, perhaps, of the greatest triumphs of the human mind, is also the scene of its most abject enslavement. In the long centuries of its splendor its lord, secure in the possession of irresistible temporal power, and securer still in the awful sanctions of a mystical religion, was as a god on earth, to cover whose poor carcass with a tomb befitting his state hundreds of thousands toiled away their lives. For the classes who came next to him were all the sensuous delights of a most luxurious civilization, and high intellectual pleasures which the mysteries of the temple hid from vulgar profanation. But for the millions who constituted the base of the social pyramid there was but the lash to stimulate their toil, and the worship of beasts to satisfy the yearnings of the soul. From time immemorial to the present day the lot of the Egyptian peasant has been to work and to starve, that those above him might live daintily. He has never rebelled. The spirit for that was long ago crushed out of him by institutions which made him what he is. He knows but to suffer and to die.

(p. 004) Imagine what opportune circumstances we may, yet to organize and carry on a movement resulting in the release of a great people from such a soul-subduing tyranny, backed by an army of half a million highly trained soldiers, requires a leadership of most commanding and consummate genius. But this task, surpassingly great though it is, is not the measure of the greatness of the leader of the Exodus. It is not in the deliverance from Egypt, it is in the constructive statesmanship that laid the foundations of the Hebrew commonwealth that the superlative grandeur of that leadership looms up. As we cannot imagine the Exodus without the great leader, neither can we account for the Hebrew polity without the great statesman. Not merely intellectually great, but morally great—a statesman aglow with the unselfish patriotism that refuses to grasp a sceptre or found a dynasty.

It matters not when or by whom were compiled the books popularly attributed to Moses; it matters not how much of the code there given may be the survivals of more ancient usage or the amplifications of a later age; its great features bear the stamp of a mind far in advance of people and time, of a mind that beneath effects sought for causes, of a mind that drifted not with the tide of events, but aimed at a definite purpose.

The outlines that the record gives us of the character of Moses—the brief relations that wherever the Hebrew scriptures are read have hung the chambers of the imagination with vivid pictures—are in every way consistent with this idea. What we know of the life illustrates what we know of the work. What we know of the work illumines the life.

It was not an empire such as had reached full development in Egypt or existed in rudimentary patriarchal form in the tribes around, that Moses aimed to found. Nor was it a republic where the freedom of the citizen rested on the servitude of the helot, and the individual was sacrificed to the state. It was a commonwealth based upon the individual; a commonwealth whose ideal it was that every man should sit under his own vine and fig-tree, with none to vex him or make him afraid; a commonwealth in which none should be condemned to ceaseless toil; in which, for even the bond slave, there should be hope; in which, for even the beast of burden, there should be rest. A commonwealth in which, in the absence of deep poverty, the manly virtues that spring from personal independence should harden into a national character; a commonwealth in which the family affections might knit their tendrils around each member, binding with links stronger than steel the various parts into the living whole.

It is not the protection of property, but the protection of humanity, that is the aim of the Mosaic code. Its sanctions are not directed to securing the strong in heaping up wealth, so much as to preventing the weak from being crowded to the wall. At every point it interposes its barriers to the selfish greed that, if left unchecked, will surely differentiate men into landlord and serf, capitalist and workman, millionaire and tramp, ruler and ruled. Its Sabbath day and Sabbath year secure, even to the lowliest, rest and leisure. With the blast of the Jubilee trumpets the slave goes free, the debt that cannot be paid is cancelled, and a re-division of the land secures again to the poorest his fair share in the bounty of the (p. 005) common Creator. The reaper must leave something for the gleaner; even the ox cannot be muzzled as he treadeth out the corn. Everywhere, in everything, the dominant idea is that of our homely phrase—"Live and let live!"

And the religion with which this civil policy is so closely intertwined exhibits kindred features—from the idea of the brotherhood of man springs the idea of the fatherhood of God. Though the forms may resemble those of Egypt, the spirit is that which Egypt had lost; though a hereditary priesthood is retained, the law in its fulness is announced to all the people. Though the Egyptian rite of circumcision is preserved, and the Egyptian symbols reappear in all the externals of worship, the tendency to take the type for the reality is sternly repressed. It is only when we think of the bulls and the hawks, of the deified cats and sacred ichneumons of Egypt, that we realize the full meaning of the command—"Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven image!"

And if we seek, beneath form and symbol and command, the thought of which they are but the expression, we find that the distinctive feature of the Hebrew religion, that which separates it by such a wide gulf from the religions amid which it grew up, is its utilitarianism, its recognition of divine law in human life. It asserts, not a God whose domain is confined to the far-off beginning or the vague future, who is over and above and beyond men, but a God who in His inexorable laws is here and now; a God of the living as well as of the dead; a God of the market-place as well as of the temple; a God whose judgments wait not another world for execution, but whose immutable decrees will, in this life, give happiness to the people that heed them and bring misery upon the people that forget them.

The absence in the Mosaic books of any reference to a future life is only intelligible by the prominence into which this truth is brought. Nothing could have been more familiar to the Hebrews of the Exodus than the doctrine of immortality. The continued existence of the soul, the judgment after death, the rewards and punishments of the future state, were the constant subjects of Egyptian thought and art. But a truth may be hidden or thrown into the background by the intensity with which another truth is grasped. And the truth that Moses brought so prominently forward, the truth his gaze was concentrated upon, is a truth that has often been thrust aside by the doctrine of immortality, and that may perhaps, at times, react on it in the same way. This is the truth that the actions of men bear fruit in this world, that though on the petty scale of individual life wickedness may seem to go unpunished and wrong to be rewarded, there is yet a Nemesis that with tireless feet and pitiless arm follows every national crime, and smites the children for the father's transgression; the truth that each individual must act upon and be acted upon by the society of which he is a part; that all must in some degree suffer for the sin of each, and the life of each be dominated by the conditions imposed by all.

It is the intense appreciation of this truth that gives the Mosaic institutions so practical and utilitarian a character. Their genius, if I may so speak, leaves the abstract speculations where thought so easily loses and wastes itself, or finds (p. 006) expression only in symbols that become finally but the basis of superstition, in order that it may concentrate attention upon laws that determine the happiness or misery of men upon this earth. Its lessons have never tended to the essential selfishness of asceticism, which is so prominent a feature in Brahmanism and Buddhism, and from which Christianity and Islamism have not been exempt. Its injunction has never been, "Leave the world to itself that you may save your own soul," but rather, "Do your duty in the world that you may be happier and the world be better." It has disdained no sanitary regulation that might secure the health of the body. Its promise has been of peace and plenty and length of days, of stalwart sons and comely daughters.

It may be that the feeling of Moses in regard to a future life was that expressed in the language of the Stoic, "It is the business of Jupiter, not mine;" or it may be that it partook of the same revulsion that shows itself in modern times, when a spirit essentially religious has been turned against the forms and expressions of religion, because these forms and expressions have been made the props and bulwarks of tyranny, and even the name and teachings of the Carpenter's Son perverted into supports of social injustice—used to guard the pomp of Cæsar and justify the greed of Dives.

Yet, however such feelings influenced Moses, I cannot think that such a soul as his, living such a life as his—feeling the exaltation of great thoughts, feeling the burden of great cares, feeling the bitterness of great disappointments—did not stretch forward to the hope beyond; did not rest and strengthen and ground itself in the confident belief that the death of the body is but the emancipation of the soul; did not feel the assurance that there is a power in the universe upon which it might confidently rely, through wreck of matter and crash of worlds. But the great concern of Moses was with the duty that lay plainly before him: the effort to lay foundations of a social state in which deep poverty and degrading want should be unknown—where men, released from the meaner struggles that waste human energy, should have opportunity for intellectual and moral development.

Here stands out the greatness of the man. What was the wisdom and stretch of the forethought that in the desert sought to guard in advance against the dangers of a settled state, let the present speak.

In the full blaze of the nineteenth century, when every child in our schools may know as common truths things of which the Egyptian sages never dreamed; when the earth has been mapped, and the stars have been weighed; when steam and electricity have been pressed into our service, and science is wresting from nature secret after secret—it is but natural to look back upon the wisdom of three thousand years ago as the man looks back upon the learning of the child.

And yet, for all this wonderful increase of knowledge, for all this enormous gain of productive power, where is the country in the civilized world in which to-day there is not want and suffering—where the masses are not condemned to toil that gives no leisure, and all classes are not pursued by a greed of gain that makes life an ignoble struggle to get and to keep? Three thousand years of advance, (p. 007) and still the moan goes up, "They have made our lives bitter with hard bondage, in mortar and in brick, and in all manner of service!" Three thousand years of advance! Yet the piteous voices of little children are in the moan.

We progress and we progress; we girdle continents with iron roads and knit cities together with the mesh of telegraph wires; each day brings some new invention; each year marks a fresh advance—the power of production increased, and the avenues of exchange cleared and broadened. Yet the complaint of "hard times" is louder and louder: everywhere are men harassed by care, and haunted by the fear of want. With swift, steady strides and prodigious leaps, the power of human hands to satisfy human wants advances and advances, is multiplied and multiplied. Yet the struggle for mere existence is more and more intense, and labor is cheapest of commodities. Beside glutted warehouses human beings grow faint with hunger and shiver with cold; under the shadow of churches festers the vice that is born of want.

Trace to their root the causes that are thus producing want in the midst of plenty, ignorance in the midst of intelligence, aristocracy in democracy, weakness in strength—that are giving to our civilization a one-sided and unstable development; and you will find it something which this Hebrew statesman three thousand years ago perceived and guarded against. Moses saw that the real cause of the enslavement of the masses of Egypt was, what has everywhere produced enslavement, the possession by a class of the land upon which and from which the whole people must live. He saw that to permit in land the same unqualified private ownership that by natural right attaches to the things produced by labor, would be inevitably to separate the people into the very rich and the very poor, inevitably to enslave labor—to make the few the masters of the many, no matter what the political forms, to bring vice and degradation no matter what the religion.

And with the foresight of the philosophic statesman he sought, in ways suited to his times and conditions, to guard against this error.

Everywhere in the Mosaic institutions is the land treated as the gift of the Creator to His common creatures, which no one has the right to monopolize. Everywhere it is, not your estate, or your property; not the land which you bought, or the land which you conquered, but "the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee"—"the land which the Lord lendeth thee." And by practical legislation, by regulations to which he gave the highest sanctions, he tried to guard against the wrong that converted ancient civilizations into despotisms—the wrong that in after centuries ate out the heart of Rome, and produced the imbruting serfdom of Poland and the gaunt misery of Ireland, the wrong that is to-day crowding families into single rooms and filling our new States with tramps. He not only provided for the fair division of the land among the people, and for making it fallow and common every seventh year, but by the institution of the jubilee he provided for a redistribution of the land every fifty years and made monopoly impossible.

I do not say that these institutions were, for their ultimate purpose, the best that might even then have been devised, for Moses had to work, as all great constructive (p. 008) statesmen have to work, with the tools that came to his hand, and upon materials as he found them. Still less do I mean to say that forms suitable for that time and people are suitable for every time and people. I ask, not veneration of the form, but recognition of the spirit.

Yet how common it is to venerate the form and to deny the spirit! There are many who believe that the Mosaic institutions were literally dictated by the Almighty, yet who would denounce as irreligious and "communistic" any application of their spirit to the present day. And yet to-day how much we owe to these institutions! This very day, the only thing that stands between our working classes and ceaseless toil is one of these Mosaic institutions. Let the mistakes of those who think that man was made for the Sabbath, rather than the Sabbath for man, be what they may; that there is one day in the week on which hammer is silent and loom stands idle, is due, through Christianity, to Judaism—to the code promulgated in the Sinaitic wilderness.

It is in these characteristics of the Mosaic institutions that, as in the fragments of a Colossus, we may read the greatness of the mind whose impress they bear—of a mind in advance of its surroundings, in advance of its age; of one of those star souls that dwindle not with distance, but, glowing with the radiance of essential truth, hold their light while institutions and languages and creeds change and pass.

That the thought was greater than the permanent expression it found, who can doubt? Yet from that day to this that expression has been in the world a living power.

From the free spirit of the Mosaic law sprang that intensity of family life that amid all dispersions and persecutions has preserved the individuality of the Hebrew race; that love of independence that under the most adverse circumstances has characterized the Jew; that burning patriotism that flamed up in the Maccabees and bared the breasts of Jewish peasants to the serried steel of Grecian phalanx and the resistless onset of Roman legion; that stubborn courage that in exile and in torture has held the Jew to his faith. It kindled that fire that has made the strains of Hebrew seers and poets phrase for us the highest exaltations of thought; that intellectual vigor that has over and over again made the dry staff bud and blossom. And passing outward from one narrow race it has exerted its power wherever the influence of the Hebrew scriptures has been felt. It has toppled thrones and cast down hierarchies. It strengthened the Scottish Covenanter in the hour of trial, and the Puritan amid the snows of a strange land. It charged with the Ironsides at Naseby; it stood behind the low redoubt on Bunker Hill.

But it is in example as in deed that such lives are helpful. It is thus that they dignify human nature and glorify human effort, and bring to those who struggle hope and trust. The life of Moses, like the institutions of Moses, is a protest against that blasphemous doctrine, current now as it was three thousand years ago; that blasphemous doctrine preached ofttimes even from Christian pulpits: that the want and suffering of the masses of mankind flow from a mysterious dispensation of Providence, which we may lament, but can neither quarrel with nor alter.

(p. 009) Adopted into the immediate family of the supreme monarch and earthly god; standing almost at the apex of the social pyramid which had for its base those toiling millions; priest and prince in a land where prince and priest might revel in all delights—everything that life could offer to gratify the senses or engage the intellect was open to him.

What to him the wail of them who beneath the fierce sun toiled under the whips of relentless masters? Heard from granite colonnade or beneath cool linen awning, it was mellowed by distance, to monotonous music. Why should he question the Sphinx of Fate, or quarrel with destinies the high gods had decreed? So had it always been, for ages and ages; so must it ever be. The beetle rends the insect, and the hawk preys on the beetle; order on order, life rises from death and carnage, and higher pleasures from lower agonies. Shall the man be better than nature? Soothing and restful flows the Nile, though underneath its placid surface finny tribes wage cruel war, and the stronger eat the weaker. Shall the gazer who would read the secrets of the stars turn because under his feet a worm may writhe?

Theirs to make bricks without straw; his a high place in the glorious procession that with gorgeous banners and glittering emblems, with clash of music and solemn chant, winds its shining way to dedicate the immortal edifice their toil has reared. Theirs the leek and the garlic; his to sit at the sumptuous feast. Why should he dwell on the irksomeness of bondage, he for whom the chariots waited, who might at will bestride the swift coursers of the Delta, or be borne on the bosom of the river with oars that beat time to songs? Did he long for the excitement of action?—there was the desert hunt, with steeds fleeter than the antelope and lions trained like dogs. Did he crave rest and ease?—there was for him the soft swell of languorous music and the wreathed movements of dancing girls. Did he feel the stir of intellectual life?—in the arcana of the temples he was free to the lore of ages; an initiate in the society where were discussed the most engrossing problems; a sharer in that intellectual pride that centuries after compared Greek philosophy to the babblings of children.

It was no sudden ebullition of passion that caused Moses to turn his back on all this, and to bring the strength and knowledge acquired in a dominant caste to the life-long service of the oppressed. The forgetfulness of self manifested in the smiting of the Egyptian shines through the whole life. In institutions that moulded the character of a people, in institutions that to this day make easier the lot of toiling millions, we may read the stately purpose.

Through all that tradition has given us of that life runs the same grand passion—the unselfish desire to make humanity better, happier, nobler. And the death is worthy of the life. Subordinating to the good of his people the natural disposition to found a dynasty, which in his case would have been so easy, he discards the claims of blood and calls to his place of leader the fittest man. Coming from a land where the rites of sepulture were regarded as all-important, and the preservation of the body after death was the passion of life; among a people who were even then carrying the remains of their great ancestor, Joseph, (p. 010) to rest with his fathers, he yet conquered the last natural yearning and withdrew from the sight and sympathy of men to die alone and unattended, lest the idolatrous feeling, always ready to break forth, should in death accord him the superstitious reverence he had refused in life.

"No man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day." But while the despoiled tombs of the Pharaohs mock the vanity that reared them, the name of the Hebrew who, revolting from their tyranny, strove for the elevation of his fellow-men, is yet a beacon light to the world.[Back to Contents]

Author signature

By Margaret E. Sangster
(1074-1001 B.C.)

David Rex.

More than a thousand years before the beginning of the Christian era, in a little farmstead in Palestine, there was rejoicing at the birth of a son. Not the first-born, whose coming was a fit occasion for gifts and feasting, not the second, the third, nor even the seventh. David was the eighth son of Jesse the Bethlehemite. Jesse would seem to have been a landholder, as his fathers had been before him, a man of substance, with fields and flocks and herds. We first meet David, a ruddy, fair-haired lad, tough of sinew and keen of eye and aim, keeping the sheep among the mountains.

Two hundred years before David's day, a fair woman of Moab had brought a new infusion of strength, a new type, into the princely line of Judah. The blood of the daring children of the wilderness flowed in the veins of those who descended from Boaz. Just as in modern times and in royal houses a single feature, as a set of the jaw, a curve of the lips, a fulness of the brow or the eye, is stamped upon a race by some marriage of its heir with a strong woman of another race, so, it has always seemed to me, that the poetry, the romance, the fire and the passion, came with Ruth of Moab into the household of Boaz. For they were strong and beautiful, these sons of Jesse, who had Ruth as their not remote ancestress, and the mother-qualities live long and tell through many generations.

(p. 011) Of Jesse's many sons, David was the youngest. His early life was spent as was that of other boys belonging to his class and period. He must have added to his natural abilities and quickness, rare talents for attaining such knowledge as was possible, knowledge of all woodcraft and of nature, knowledge of musical instruments, and acquaintance with arms. Clean of limb and sure of foot, ready of repartee, fearless and alert, he was, even as a boy, something of what he was to become in maturity, one of the greatest men of his own or any age. Unique in some capacities, versatile and varied in arts and accomplishments, at once vindictive and forgiving, impetuous and politic, shrewd and impulsive, heroic and mean, of long memory for wrongs committed, of decisive act and incisive speech, relentless and magnanimous, strong and weak. A man whose influence has never died out among men, and who is to-day a vital force in the world of religion, of philanthropy, and of letters.

The short and ill-starred reign of Saul, the first king of the Jews, chosen when the people had wearied of the theocratic style of government, came to a speedy end. While yet the crown was on his head, the favor of the Lord departed from Saul, and Samuel, the Lord's prophet, was sent, 1064 B.C., to anoint his successor. The monarch was virtually deposed, though still in power. Saul was like a man under sentence of death who is still ignorant of his coming fate, and Samuel, who entertained a strong regard for him, evidently cared little to carry out the command received from God to discover the new king. Almost under protest, the old prophet sought Jesse the Bethlehemite, great-grandson of Boaz and the beautiful Ruth, and father of the sturdy set of stalwart sons who passed in review before him.

The youngest of these, a lad herding sheep in the fields, ruddy and goodly to look upon, bearing in his eyes the fearlessness of her who left her father's house to follow Naomi's desolate fortunes, came from the fields when he was sent for. Peaceful as was his shepherd's life in general, it was not without its occasional spice of danger, as when a lion and a bear, famished and furious and ravening for their prey, came out of the wintry woods to devour the sheep. Then, as the sacred chronicler tersely and with Homeric brevity tells us, the shepherd "slew both the lion and the bear."

That strange possession, the Spirit of the Lord, came upon David from the day of his anointing by Samuel, though it is improbable that he understood then, or for long afterward, precisely what was the function to which he had been consecrated. David was far older, and had dipped deep into many cups, before he spoke or thought of himself as "The Lord's Anointed."

The steps toward the throne were not smoothed for the boy's feet, though his upward path was in a comparatively straight line. First, quite naturally, it came about that he was sent for by King Saul, who was afflicted with periods of melancholia which were charmed away only by the sweetness of melody. David's harp, on which he played skilfully, was the instrument of relief to Saul, and Saul looking on the young man loved him, desired to attach him to his person, and speedily made him his armor-bearer. Jonathan, Saul's son, grew so deeply (p. 012) attached to David, that their souls were knit together in that strong friendship which strikes its fibres into the soil underlying passion, and godlike in its endurance. The friendship of the two young men passed into a proverb, a proverb which is the crystallization of history. As David and Jonathan, is friendship's strongest simile.

Of the episodes of this portion of David's life, the conflict with Goliath is familiar to every reader. The youth, armed with a pebble and a sling, slays the boastful champion, storming about in helmet and greaves and brazen target, and the victorious hosts of Israel pursue the defeated and flying Philistines hour after hour, till the sun goes down. Saul, apparently forgetful of his former favorite and armor-bearer, inquires whose son the stripling is, led proudly into his presence by Abner, the captain of the host.

"I am the son of thy servant, Jesse, the Bethlehemite," is the modest answer.

Again, this time aroused by jealousy, Saul's moody fit returns and his insanity is once more dispelled by David's harp. David becomes the king's son-in-law, and Michal, the king's daughter, loves her husband so dearly that she sets her woman's wits at work to save him when her father's hot displeasure, in the summary fashion known to Eastern kings, sends messengers to seek his life. Poor Michal, whose love was never half returned!

The next chapter in David's history is a curious one. Anointed king over Israel, he wanders an outlaw captain, hiding in crannies of the mountains, gathering to himself a band of young and daring spirits, reckless of peril, and willing to accept service under a leader who fears nothing, and whose incursions into the adjacent countries dispose people to hold him in wholesome terror. Again and again, in this precarious Robin Hood life of his, David has the opportunity to revenge himself upon Saul, but with splendid generosity puts the temptation aside.

"The Lord judge between me and thee," he exclaims; "the Lord avenge me of thee, but mine hand shall not be upon thee."

An interesting side-light is thrown upon this portion of David's career, by the incident of his meeting with Abigail, a woman fair and discreet, married to a sordid churl named Nabal. David and his band had protected Nabal's fields from other rovers, and had been, so to speak, a wall of fire between the churl's estate and the hand of depredation. But at the time of the sheep-shearing the surly ingrate refuses food and drink to the band of David, though the favor is most courteously asked. When the rough answer is brought back, one sees the quick temper of the soldier, in the flashing repartee, and the hand flying to the sword. Little had been left to Nabal of barn or byre, if sweet-voiced and stately Abigail, wiser than her lord, had not herself brought a present in her hand, and with a gentle tongue soothed the angry warrior.

In days to come, Abigail was to be wife to David, after the custom of the period, which attached a numerous harem to the entourage of a chieftain or a king.

David calming the wrath of Saul.

In judging of David, of his relations with women, and of his dealings with his enemies, it is not fair to measure him by the standards of our own time. His was a day of the high hand, and of lax morality. The kings of neighboring (p. 013) countries knew no gentleness, no law but of self-interest and of self-pleasing in their marriages, and in their quarrels. Many of the alliances made by David were distinctly in the line of political arrangements, bargains by which he strengthened his boundary lines, and attracted to his own purposes the resources or the kindly interest of other nations.

Reading of David's dashing forays, when he and his valiant two hundred fought the Amalekites, chased the Philistines, took prisoners and spoil, yet with rare wisdom ordained that, in the division of the spoils, those who tarried at home by the stuff, the guard of wives and children, should share equally with those who took upon them the pleasanter, if more perilous, tasks of the battle, we are transported into the morning of the world. These were days when the trumpets blew and the flags fluttered, days of riotous health and the joy of life.

After the death of Saul and of Jonathan his son, David succeeded to the throne. This story is very dramatic. The conquering Philistines affixed the bodies of the dead heroes to their temple walls, and hung their armor as a trophy in the house of Ashtaroth. But the valiant men of Jabesh-Gilead came by night, took down the bodies and burned them, then buried the bones, and wept over them for seven days. David himself ordered to execution the messenger who brought him Saul's crown and bracelet, confessing that his own hand had given the king the coup de grâce. His lamentation over Saul and Jonathan rises to the height of the sublime. Never laureate sang in strains more solemn and tender.

But from this moment on the tenor of David's life was boisterous and broken. He was constantly at war, now war that was defensive only, again war that was fiercely aggressive. He had to face internal dissensions. As his sons grew up, children of different mothers and of different trainings, there came to the heart of the father, always most passionately loving, such bitterness as none but great souls know.

Between David's house and that of Saul there was long and fierce dispute, and never any real peace. Treachery, assassination, jealousy, marked the course of these two houses, though David, to his lasting honor, be it said, showed only kindness and rendered only protection to the kindred of Saul. He could not control the cupidity or fierceness of his retainers, but he gave the crippled Mephibosheth the household and the income befitting a prince.

David was thirty years old when he began his reign. His first capital was Hebron, where he was publicly anointed, after the custom of the period. His reign lasted forty years, seven years and six months of which he spent in Hebron. Observing the natural advantages of Jerusalem as a stronghold, he took it after a sharp contest, and set up the throne there, remaining there for thirty-three years.

In nothing did David display great abilities in a more marked manner than in the choice of his generals and counsellors. Joab, Abishai, and Zeruiah, Hushai and Ahithophel were all men of great administrative or executive powers. They were not invariably faithful to David's interests, but in the main they served him well, and to his "mighty men of valor" he owed the debt for success (p. 014) that all great captains owe to those who surround their persons, further their plans, and aid their enterprises.

In the Second Book of Chronicles the honor-roll of David's heroes is starred with undying lustre. Thirty captains are mentioned, among them three mightiest, and the record of these valiant men is like the record written of Thor and his followers in the legendry of the stormy Norsemen. There was one who slew an Egyptian, a giant five cubits high, with a spear like a weaver's beam, and the champion went down to the combat armed with a staff only, disarmed the Egyptian, and slew him with his own spear. Another slew "a lion in a pit in a snowy day." One sees the picture, the yellow-maned, fierce-eyed lion, the white drift of the blinding flakes, the hole of the pit, deep-walled and narrow, a fit lair for the wild beast. The incident of the well of Bethlehem belongs here. The king was spent and athirst, and he longed for a drink from the old well by the gate. But when three mighty men cut their way sword in hand through the enemy's host, and brought the precious water, the king would not drink it, but poured it out before the Lord in libation. "God forbid," he exclaimed, "that I should drink the blood of these men, that have put their lives in jeopardy!"

If David had always been as noble! But men have the defects of their qualities. These mighty men of earth have often, on one side or another, a special liability to temptation. In the seduction of Bathsheba and the cowardly murder of Uriah, her husband, David committed a sin for which he was punished not only in the denunciation of Nathan the prophet and the loss of Bathsheba's first child, but by the stings of a deep remorse, which expresses itself in a psalm which is a miserere. Yet Bathsheba became the mother of Solomon, and Solomon was the heir chosen by the Lord to preserve the kingly line of David, and to maintain the kingdom in great glory and splendor.

In the quaint language of the sacred scribes, we find David's frequent battles graphically described. Rapid and pitiless as Attila or Napoleon, he "smote" the Amalekites, and the Ammonites, and the neighboring warlike peoples, and compelled them to pay tribute. He was not more rapacious than France has recently shown herself to Siam, or than England to India, and he was emphatically the "battle-axe of God." It was enlightenment against savagery, the true religion against the idolatries and witchcrafts of a false worship. In every way David displayed statesmanship, not carrying on war for the mere pleasure of it, but strengthening his national lines, and laying deep the foundations on which his successor was to carry forward a kingdom of peace.

It was not until Hiram, king of Tyre, sent cedar from Lebanon, on floats down the Mediterranean, that David built him a house. The hardy soldier had often slept with the sky for his roof, and the grass for his bed, but as he grew rich and strong he needed a palace. With the pleasure and security of the palace, the ceiled house, came the wish of the devout soul to erect a temple to God. Never was sacrifice greater nor pain more intense than that which the great king experienced when told that not for him was to be this crowning joy, this felicity which would have made his cup overflow. His hands had shed too much (p. 015) blood. He had been a man of war from his youth. The temple on Mount Zion, a glittering mass of gold and gems, shining like a heap of snowflakes on the pilgrims going up to the annual passover, was to be the great trophy not of David's, but of Solomon's time. David acquiesced in the divine ordering, though with a sore heart. But he occupied himself with the accumulation of rich materials, so that when Solomon came to the throne he might find much and valuable preparation made.

The troubles of David's reign, gathering around him thickly, as the almond blossoms of age grew white upon his head, were chiefly brought upon him through dissensions in his family. Did so loving a father spoil his sons in their early youth, or were they, as is probable, influenced by the spites, the malignities, and the weaknesses of the beautiful foreign princesses who were their mothers? In the rebellion of Absalom, the king tasted the deepest draught of sorrow ever pressed to mortal lips, and the whole tragic tale is as vivid in its depiction, and as intensely real in its appeal to-day, as when fresh from the pen of the writer.

The conduct of Absalom, whose beauty and vanity were equalled by his ambition and his ingratitude, has made him forever infamous. He omitted no act that could convict him of shameless infidelity to all that was worthy a prince, and with an armed host he set his battle in array against his father. One charge, reiterated again and again, showed the depth of that father's heart—a heart like that of the Father in Heaven for its yearning over ingrates and rebels:

"Beware that none touch the young man Absalom!"

Joab, of all men in the realm, least afraid of David and most relentless when any one stood in his way, himself became Absalom's executioner, when, David's people being victors, Absalom hung caught by his hair in the boughs of an oak, unable to escape. Then it was a question who should tell the king these tidings, which dashed the hearts of the conquerors with a sudden pang. Finally a swift runner reached the watch-tower, whence the old king looked forth, awaiting news of the day.

"Is the young man Absalom safe?" he asked

And Cushi answered, "The enemies of my lord the king, and all that rise against thee to do thee hurt, be as that young man is."

"And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept; and as he went, thus he said 'O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would God I had died for thee, O Absalom my son, my son!'"

Long, long ago, these battles and sieges, these truces and victories, were over forever on this earth. Egypt and Assyria, contemporary with Israel in greatness, have perished from the memories of men, save as a few marbles remain to tell their tale. The vitality of David is imperishable, but not because he was a shrewd statesman, a doughty warrior, or a captain of conquering armies. David the shepherd, David the king, are of the past. David the musician, David the psalmist, is as alive to-day as he ever was, the music of his harp still vibrating in temples and cathedrals and in human souls. Those matchless hymns antedating our modern era by so many shifting centuries, are lisped by children at their (p. 016) mother's knee, form part of every religious ritual of which the one God is the centre, and voice the love and prayer and praise of every heart that seeks the Creator. With the intense adoration and trust of the Hebrew, we too exclaim, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want," and "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble."[Back to Contents]

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By Rev. Charles F. Deems
(1033-975 B.C.)

A town.
A town.

Looking down the vista of the past ages we see standing conspicuous among men David, the father of Solomon. In David's case it is as if the all-wise God had constructed in one human being an organ with all the keys and stops possible to humanity, and as if the Holy Ghost had on that organ with those keys and stops played every tune of every song that all humanity may need to sing in life or death, or carry in memory from earth to heaven. When we remember who Solomon's father was we are helped to grasp the significance of the life and character of the son, who, narrower indeed than his father, was yet more brilliant and more intense.

In 1033 B.C., shortly after the death of David's first child by Bathsheba, which was begotten in sin, a second child was born, whom David called "Solomon," or "peaceful," probably with reference to the peace between God and David brought about by the latter's deep penitence for his sin against Uriah. But the Prophet Nathan, to whose wise and tender care he was early committed, called him "Jedediah," or, "The beloved of the Lord." If, as the best authorities are agreed, Solomon wrote the thirty-first chapter of Proverbs, (p. 017) he had still another name, "Lemuel," which means, "to God," or "dedicated to God."

The great number and variety of traditions about Solomon extant in Persia, Arabia, Abyssinia, and among the Jews and other peoples, is a proof of the profound impression which he made on his age, and an evidence of his greatness; for only the great among men beget many traditions. Before taking up the authentic and credible history of Solomon a few specimens of these traditions may well receive our attention.

The Abyssinians claim that a son given to the Queen of Sheba by Solomon was the founder of their imperial dynasty! In Persian literature Solomon is a favorite character. With nothing to say of David, it has countless stories of his gifted son. One alone, called "Solomon-Nameh," fills eighty books. Arabia also claims Solomon as the Father of her kings, and to this day, under the eastern sky dusky Arabs sit around the lonely tent-fire and tell weird and wonderful tales of the wit, wisdom, and wealth of Solomon. Legends of which he is the hero are also preserved not only in Asia and Africa, but also in the remotest corners of Europe. According to these stories he could interpret the language of birds and beasts, was acquainted with the mysterious virtues of herbs and gems, knew spells for casting out demons and charms for curing diseases, possessed a ring which revealed to him the past, present, and future, was acquainted with the arts of magic and by them made evil spirits his slaves, who helped him with his vast buildings and other great enterprises. It was with the assistance of demons called Jinns that he built the gorgeous city of Persepolis; while other evil spirits, rebelling, he conquered after a long and fierce struggle and immured in dark depths and caves of the sea. But let us return to sober history. The only trustworthy account of the wise king available, is that which is written in the Bible and in the crumbling ruins of his great buildings and public and private works in the East, especially in and around Jerusalem.

He was ten years of age when the rebellion of his older brother, Absalom, fell almost like a death-blow upon the brow and heart of his aged father David, with whom he shared the perils of flight and a brief exile. Not many years later Adonijah, another brother, with the connivance of Joab, David's rugged old general, and Abiathar, the elder high priest, attempting to steal the throne, Zadok the high priest, Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah, the most famous and heroic of Israel's captains after Joab, together with Bathsheba, the beautiful and ambitious mother of Solomon, succeeded in thwarting Adonijah's base designs and roused in David for a short time his old-time energy. Whereupon he placed Solomon upon the throne while yet a young man only fifteen or twenty years of age.

Upon taking up his sceptre Solomon first of all, removed his father's enemies and the heads of the conspiracies which had been made against the throne, not even hesitating to cut off Joab, whose deeds of prowess had added a marvellous lustre to the military fame of Israel. Solomon now sat secure upon his throne, the undisputed monarch of the wide territory secured by the conquests of his great father. About this time, in order to strengthen his kingdom, he married a (p. 018) daughter of the Pharaoh of Northern Egypt, an alliance which pleased the people, for it showed that their king was a king among kings. The end of this political alliance, however, was not as brilliant as its beginning promised; because, although Egypt was at that time the most mighty nation of the world, because the most wealthy and civilized, yet it was divided into two kingdoms, and after the lapse of years, the Pharaoh of the united kingdom did not hesitate to become Solomon's foe because one of his wives had been an Egyptian princess.

After removing the enemies of the throne, and marrying the daughter of Pharaoh, Solomon repaired to the heights of Gibeon, six miles north of Jerusalem, a spot far-famed as the home of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, which was the original Tent of the wanderings. On the brazen altar in front of the Tabernacle the young king offered to Jehovah a holocaust of a thousand victims.

It was on the night after this magnificent sacrifice that the Lord offered to Solomon, dreaming, his heart's chief desire. The wise and as yet pious young king asking for wisdom, the Lord was so pleased that He promised him not only wisdom, but also wealth, honor, and long life. He had already been endowed with extreme personal beauty.

Immediately following this vision the wisdom of the king was tested in a way which showed that his God was a faithful promiser. Into the royal presence two women of bad character were ushered by the authorities, bringing two babes, the one living and the other cold in death. In the night the latter's mother had by accident smothered it, whereupon she had stolen the living babe from its mother's side. In the morning a bitter conflict was waged by the two women over the living child, each wildly claiming it as her own. When the officers of the law were appealed to they brought the case before their king, whose wisdom and fitness to judge a great kingdom were now to be tried. As the spectators of the dramatic scene looked on, it was with anxious curiosity, which in a moment was turned into horror as Solomon ordered a stalwart attendant to take a keen sword and cut the living little one into two parts and give to each mother a half. One of the women appeared stolidly satisfied with this arrangement, but the other sprang between the babe and its executioner, and, weeping, pleaded that its life might be spared and her rival be permitted to have the whole child. In this pity and tenderness Solomon discovered the true mother heart, and to her gave the babe, while the news of the marvellous wisdom of the new king spread like wild-fire through Jerusalem and all Israel.

Solomon had now secured an assured place in the hearts of his subjects, and was firmly seated on a throne from which for forty years he governed Israel with a rule whose wisdom was surpassed only by its magnificence.

As it is impossible at this date to get at the exact chronological order of the events of his life from the time that he ascended the throne, and as it was remarkable for the fruits of peace rather than war, we may best study it by considering his government, household, buildings, riches, and writings.

Judgment of Solomon.

Solomon's rule extended over a wide territory and over many peoples, for it had been the glory of David that he fought successfully with and subdued the (p. 019) enemies of Israel on every side. From the Mediterranean Sea to the Euphrates, and from the Red Sea to the northern bounds of Syria, the great son of David held sway, and thus was God's ancient promise to Abraham fulfilled. (Gen. xv. 18.)

Solomon's government was Asiatic, that is it was an absolutism, marked by luxury, display, and taxation so heavy as to amount almost to oppression. Its luxuriousness and display are illustrated by his seraglio, which included seven hundred wives (1 Kings xi. 3); and its despotic nature is seen in such acts as his summary and severe punishment of Adonijah, Joab, and Abiathar.

For the first time in the history of Israel, alliances were entered into with other nations. We have already seen how Solomon had married an Egyptian princess. Then he made a treaty with his neighbor on the Mediterranean coast, Hiram, king of Tyre, who in exchange for corn agreed to supply Solomon with timber for building the Temple and his own magnificent palace. The timber was floated down from Tyre to Joppa whence it was transported to Jerusalem or wherever needed.

At peace with surrounding nations, and with a thoroughly systematized and centralized government, Solomon sat on his throne of ivory and gold and looked around on his people, to see an astonishing increase of population and a tremendous growth in business and wealth, especially during the first half of his reign.

Entering his court and his household, one saw all things in keeping with his Asiatic government: magnificent palaces, surrounded by beautiful gardens; multitudes of slaves, each one having his work and doing it with swiftness and precision; troops of courtiers, and a harem of seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines. Around his gorgeous throne stood his officers and attendants, in his stables were forty thousand horses, and chariots in proportion. Whenever he went forth before his people it was to dazzle them with his splendor. But, fond as he was of display and of women, he nevertheless did not neglect the business of his kingdom, a large part of each day being spent either in his throne-room with his officials, or superintending his great public and private works. Besides this no inconsiderable part of his time in his home was given to study, meditation, and writing.

The king was one of the greatest builders of the ages. Among the structures erected by him, easily first in splendor was the Temple. In Solomon's Temple lies Solomon's true greatness and glory rather than in his songs, his proverbs, his riches, and his outward splendor. It was the bud whose blooming was in Christ and Christianity. Around it was to be preserved the people chosen to save the true knowledge of their God for the human race and produce the human nature of Jesus Christ, humanity's incarnate God and Saviour.

The conception of a fitting, permanent, earthly abode for Jehovah, and for the ark and the sacred symbols therein, was David's. He it was who took the ark to Jerusalem and placed it in a temporary tabernacle or tent while he collected money and materials for a great shrine. To aid him in his great work David had already secured the friendship of Hiram, king of Tyre, with whom, as (p. 020) we have seen, Solomon made a treaty, and from whom he procured both workmen and materials for his great enterprise.

The Temple was begun four hundred and eighty years after the exodus from Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon's reign, or 1012 B.C., and was completed in the twelfth year of his reign. Its site was Mount Moriah at the point where Araunah's threshing-floor had been, and where the angel met David at the time the plague was stayed.

The house of the Lord finished, Solomon built his gorgeous palaces. And thirteen years after the completion of the Temple (991 B.C.) the people of Israel assembled on the occasion of its dedication. This occurred at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles, when a magnificent festival of two weeks' duration was held. The priests bore the ark into the "Holy of Holies" and deposited it under the wings of the cherubim. When they had retired the cloud of glory filled the whole edifice, and thus proclaimed the approving presence of Jehovah. Thereupon Solomon stood upon the brazen platform which had been built for him and made his memorable prayer. He thanked God for helping him to build the Temple; and prayed that He would hear the prayers that should there be made. Scarcely was his prayer ended when fire came down from heaven and consumed the sacrifice which had been laid on the altar, and the awe-stricken multitude bowed with their faces to the ground upon the pavement and worshipped and adored the Lord, saying, "For He is good; for His mercy endureth forever." (2 Chron. vii. 3.)

In keeping with the Temple were the gorgeous palaces on which for thirteen years Solomon lavished time and toil and money. In the "Tower of the House of David," as one of these was called, hung a thousand golden bucklers; while in the great judgment-hall stood the far-famed throne of the great king. (1 Kings x. 18-20.) Solomon's other buildings were beautiful gardens and pools, and aqueducts and a luxurious summer resort. He moreover, either established or built many important towns or fortresses, among others being Tadmor in the wilderness, afterward celebrated in history as Palmyra. Countless workmen and inestimable wealth were involved in the building enterprises of the great king, which included at the last, to his shame, rival temples to Moloch, and the other false gods of his heathen wives.

Of course, Solomon's government, household, and buildings, as we have considered them, involved the accumulation and expenditure of vast sums of money. But the king's ambition, energy, industry, and business talent rose to the height of these demands. From two sources he drew his vast wealth, namely, taxation and commerce. He received large revenues in the way of tributes from subject peoples, in addition to the increasingly heavy taxes which he imposed on the people of Israel. Besides taxation, the king increased his wealth by means of his great commercial operations in the desert, which was the highway between the Orient and the Occident, and by means of his two fleets, one on the Mediterranean and the other on the eastern arm of the Red Sea, which provided a waterway to both Southern Asia and Western Africa. So rich did Solomon (p. 021) become from these sources that it is said that he "made silver and gold at Jerusalem as plentiful as stones." (2 Chron. i. 15.) There was, however, one fatal fault in Solomon's commercial policy: all the gain went to the palace and the government. Herein lay one of the secrets of the division and fall of the nation immediately upon the close of his career.

Naturally, Solomon's commercial greatness, together with the pomp and splendor of his court and government, carried his fame to all parts of the earth. But that for which he received the greatest respect from surrounding nations was his wisdom, manifested in many ways but chiefly in his writings. One of the marked effects of David's long and vigorous reign was to stimulate mental activity in the Hebrew mind. The great foreign wars with the Egyptians, the Phoenicians, the Sabeans, and the surrounding nations, who were more or less advanced in a knowledge of the arts and sciences, had the effect of widening the range of knowledge of Israel as a nation, and of stirring her up to an ambition to excel her neighbors in affairs of peace as well as in those of war. Solomon's peaceful and wise reign, characterized as it was by commercial prosperity, gave the people both the time and means for cultivating the arts. In study and in wisdom the king was the leader of his day and generation. He was learned in political economy, a great king. He was learned in music and poetry, having composed some of the most beautiful of the Psalms, such as the second. But in cultivating the fine arts he did not neglect the physical sciences, for he was a botanist, writing of all kinds of trees and plants; and he was a natural historian, writing works on beasts, birds, reptiles, and fishes. It would be most interesting to see these science primers prepared by Solomon, and compare them with what we see on the same subjects in our own day. But the Bible has not preserved them, and they have long centuries ago passed into oblivion. Solomon's knowledge was not of that shallow sort which is limited to the sphere of earthly material, "seen things;" for he was wise with that deeper knowledge which has for its object God and the human soul, and their natures and movements in their natural relations. This wisdom is illustrated and handed down to us in his Proverbs of which we are told he spoke three thousand. A portion of these is in the Book of Proverbs, the others are lost to us.

In his poetry also was crystallized much of his wisdom. This consisted of one thousand and five songs, all of which have gone down in the flood of years, with the exception of the Song of Solomon, which is an epithalamium, in which pure wedded love is incarnated. It is a sort of poetry of the family relations, and, therefore, worthy a place in the sacred canon. Taken literally and read with a pure heart, it is eminently fitted to spiritualize the family relations. This theory of this much discussed portion of Solomon's writings by no means shuts out the more spiritual use of the book, wherein we see in it the Church represented by the bride and God by the bridegroom.

In Ecclesiastes we have the latest conclusions of Solomon's moral wisdom. Read in the light of its general scope rather than the dim light of detached portions, it appears as the confessions of a humbled, penitent, believing, godly man, (p. 022) who, after piety followed by apostasy, comes back to piety with the conclusion that after all, "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom."

Through his writings and sayings Solomon's genius flashed from Jerusalem into the surrounding darkness of the heathen nations, and lighted by its rays, as mariners by the beacon in the light-house tower, there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom, (1 Kings x. 1-10.) The celebrated visit of the Queen of Sheba is a deeply interesting illustration of these royal visits to the court of Israel's splendid king.

Such was King Solomon the magnificent, and such the life of one of earth's most famous men. But, after all, he is a striking illustration of Plato's saying, that "Princes are never without flatterers to seduce them, ambition to deprave them, and desires to corrupt them." So, forgetting that as a king he was God's vicegerent, he lived more and more to gratify his lusts and ambitions, and to please his flatterers, especially his heathen wives. These finally seduced him into permitting temples to be built to Moloch and their other false gods. This ended in Solomon's becoming idolatrous himself. Then his wealth gradually melted away, his allies plotted against him, and, in the midst of life, being about fifty-eight years old, he died in the year 975 B.C., leaving a terrible legacy to his sons: a corrupted religion, a depleted treasury, and a discontented and broken people.

Although there is every reason to believe that Solomon died a penitent man, yet his sins and the consequent wretchedness of soul, and the ruin of his kingdom, teach most emphatically the weakness of human nature, even when accompanied by the greatest genius, the perils of material prosperity, and the real insufficiency of all possible earthly good to satisfy the wants of the soul of man.[Back to Contents]

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By Rev. Joseph T. Duryea
(About 884-820 B.C.)

Scholars generally agree in the judgment that Lycurgus was a real person. It is probable that he was born in the ninth century B.C., and that, in the later part of the same century (850-820), he was an important, if not the principal, agent in the reconstruction of the Dorian state of Sparta, in the Peloponnesus. According to Herodotus, he was the uncle of King Labotas, of the royal line of Eurysthenes. Others, whom Plutarch follows, describe him as the uncle and guardian of King (p. 023) Charilaus, and therefore in the line of Procles. Either way his mythical lineage would be traced to Hercules. We are able to find no trustworthy records of the circumstances of his birth, and of the incidents of his childhood and youth. Plutarch, with all his diligence, found nothing. Nor could he sift and blend the varying stories of his later life and so construct a consistent and credible narrative, O. Müller says: "We have absolutely no account of him as an individual person."


Accordingly Lycurgus appears already in his maturity. We know what he was only from what he did. He has this imperishable honor, that he did something, and did it in such a manner and with such effect that the memory of him and his deeds has lasted until this late time, and bids fair to last throughout all time.

The following traditions concerning Lycurgus are commonly repeated. Polydectes, his brother, was king in Sparta. After the king's death a son was born to the widow. Lycurgus became his guardian and presented him to the magistrates as their future king. He was suspected by the queen's brother of a design to take the crown, and even of a purpose to destroy his infant nephew. Accordingly he went into exile. He remained some time in Crete, studying the institutions of the Dorian people of that island. He travelled extensively in Asia and was especially careful to observe the manners and customs of the Ionians. He found the poems of Homer, transcribed and arranged them, and caused them to be more generally known. The Egyptians claimed that he visited their country and derived much of his wisdom from them. Meanwhile the affairs of Sparta were in a critical condition and the king and the people alike desired his presence and his aid in restoring peace and renewing the prosperity of the community and the people of Laconia. Immediately upon his return he entered upon the work of framing a constitution and reconstructing the state. Notwithstanding much opposition and complaint from the classes obliged to make concessions and sacrifices for the common good, he secured the assent of the people to his legislation. Having seen the system in working order, he announced his purpose to leave the country for a period, and moved the citizens to take an oath that they would observe the laws until he should return. He departed to remain away to the end of his life, but first repaired to Delphi and obtained an oracle promising (p. 024) prosperity to the Spartans, so long as they should maintain faithfully the constitution.

Laconia was the southeastern portion of the peninsula. The soil was mainly mountain land and meagrely productive under toilsome and careful tillage. So much of it as was naturally fertile lay in the centre, shut in from the sea by the mountains. At the time of the Dorian immigration, it was occupied in part by the descendants of the old Pelasgian population and in part by a mixed people which had come in at different times and from various sources. Because of the limited area there was already considerable pressure between the several elements. Accordingly the Dorians and their Achæan and Æolian allies met with a stout resistance, and established themselves after an obstinate and long-continued struggle. They descended from the sources of the Eurotas and forced their way into the plains in the midst of the land. They seized the heights on the right bank of the river at a point where its channel is split by an island and it was most easy to cross the stream. The hill of Athene became the centre of the settlement. Their establishment in the land was a slow process. It is said Laconia was divided into six districts, with six capital cities, each ruled by a king. The immigrants were distributed among the inhabitants and lands were allotted to them, in return for which they recognized the authority of the kings and engaged to support them in power. They seem to have been adopted by the kings, as their kindred were in Crete, as the military guardians of their prerogatives. The result was inevitable. They who are intrusted to maintain power become conscious that it is really their own, take formal possession of it, and exercise it for their own ends.

Two leading families drew to themselves the central body of the Dorians, rallied the rest, gathered them all at one point, and made it the centre of the district and the seat of government. They were supported by families of common descent and recognized by the people of the land, who suffered no change in the circumstances of their life. These gave them homage, paid to them taxes, and united with their kindred in celebrating funeral rites at their tombs. Sparta became the capital of the whole country, while the former capitals became country towns.

But there were difficulties in the way of the new régime. There were conflicting claims between the two royal families. Both of them were in collision with families in all respects their equals as to lineage and rank. The older and newer elements of the mass of the population were mingled but not yet combined. Everywhere there was friction, with occasions enough for irritation and confusion. The descendants of the primitive races were attached to their ancient ways. The Dorians were not less, but more tenacious of their traditional customs. And they were conscious of their vantage and knew they were able to insist on their preferences. As the props of the royal houses they could hope to make terms with them, or withdraw and let them fall, or turn to cast them down. The kings were compelled, on the one hand, to exert themselves to hold in control a subject people, and, on the other, to check the headstrong Dorian warriors. There was danger of the disruption of the kingdom, a lapse into anarchy, the rise of (p. 025) opposing factions, and a conflict destructive alike and equally of the welfare of all classes of the people.

There was need of a statesman who could comprehend the problem, find a solution, commend it to the judgment of all classes, and gain their cordial consent to the renovation of the state upon a more equitable basis. He must be a man of large capacity, great attainments, thorough sincerity, earnest devotion, generous and self-sacrificing patriotism. He must have ability to conceive a high ideal, steadily contemplate it, and nevertheless consider the materials on which and the conditions under which he must do his work, maintain the sober judgment which discriminates between the ideal and the practicable, and exercise the rigid self-control which calmly renounces the best conceivable and resolutely attempts the best attainable. He must have regard to the ideas, sentiments, associations, sacred traditions, and immemorial customs of the several races and classes of the people. He must be prudently conservative and keenly cautious in shaping and applying new measures and methods. He must study and comprehend the inevitable oppositions of interests, and conceive modes of action which involve reasonable concessions accompanied by manifest compensations. He must ally himself with no party and yet command the confidence of all parties. Whatever prior advantage he may have had in the matters of birth, rank, and association, he must use to conciliate those who would be asked to make the largest apparent sacrifices, and so turn it to account for the benefit of those who might otherwise suspect and distrust him and fall away from his influence. He must be able to explain and commend the system he might devise, convince the several parties of its wisdom, persuade them to yield their preferences and accept the needful compromises, and move them to make a fair and full experiment of its provisions. Such a man was Lycurgus, if we may trust the persistent tradition that he was the framer of the new constitution and the second founder of the Dorian state of Sparta. From time to time the question has been raised, was the work of Lycurgus original or an imitation, shaped perhaps by his observations among the Dorian folk on the island of Crete? It does not matter what the answer shall be. The statesman who fitly adapts may be as wise and skilful as he who invents and creates. The man who loves his people, plans and labors for their good, will not peril their welfare by his experiments, disdaining the help of those who have wrought before him, and the guidance of his contemporaries in examples, the benign results of which he may have had opportunity to witness. The truth appears to be that Lycurgus had respect to the reverence of the people for the ancient ways, and retained as far as he was able the suitable elements of the primitive polity of the Homeric age. This was based on the Council of Chiefs or Elders and occasional meetings of an assembly of the people to listen and learn, to assent and give heed. From whatsoever sources he drew, he adapted the materials of his knowledge to the conditions under which his structure must be shaped, the circumstances under which it must get on its base and stand secure. Those who affirm the exemplary influence of the Cretan polity, hold fast to the tradition that Lycurgus visited the island and (p. 026) could not have failed to observe the features of society there, and could not have expelled from his mind the similarity of conditions among the two peoples and the expedients which the lawgiver of Crete had employed to meet and resolve the difficulties he encountered and secure the results he attained. It must, however, be remembered that similar peoples with common traditions and customs, under like circumstances may independently work out for themselves systems of society analogous in many particulars and varying only by adaptation to special conditions. If Lycurgus perceived what was suitable to the exigency, wrought it into a plan, moved the people to accept it, brought harmony out of discord, order out of confusion, contentment out of unrest, prosperity out of impending calamity, and rescued the commonwealth for the time, he deserved abundant honor and still deserves a permanent rank among the notable statesmen of the world.

The constitution was unwritten. Its provisions were expressed in forms known as Rhætra. The kings were retained. Their power was a guaranty of unity. They maintained the continuity of civic life. Each was a check upon the other. They were held under restraint by the senate. Its composition and functions were now fixed. It met not only to deliberate and advise, but to perform judicial offices. In case of capital offences the kings sat with the elders, each having, with every other member, but a single vote. The members were thirty in number, one for each of the ten clans of each of the three tribes, the kings representing their clans and sitting as equals with equals, though presiding at the sessions. The elders must be of the age of sixty and upward, and were appointed for life. The ancient division of the people was preserved; the households were grouped in thirties, the thirties in clans, the clans in tribes. Their capital was Sparta. It was not a compact walled town. It stretched into the open country and Dorians lived along the entire valley of the Eurotas. Not only those dwelling at the ford of the river, but all were acknowledged as Spartans. The kings were required to summon the heads of the families in the assembly once every month. The place was designated. The session was brief. To encourage brevity there was no provision for seats, but the freemen stood. Elders and other public officers were chosen. Official persons made known new laws, declarations of war and peace and treaties. The people simply voted aye or nay. The decision was according to the volume of sound. The session closed with a military review.

The army: The Dorians had entered the land and held their place in it by force of arms. To maintain their power it was necessary to develop a military system and maintain a body of vigorous and able soldiers. All citizens were constituted guardians of the nation. To all their rights was attached the duty of military service. They composed a standing army. The valley became a camp. The men left their estates under the management of the women. The wife cared for the home, reared the young children, and superintended the laborers in the business of the farm. The soldier could not leave the valley or enter it without announcement. The older men visited their homes on "leave of absence," (p. 027) the younger by stealth at night. Emigration was desertion punishable by death. To have gold and silver was to risk the same penalty. The heavy iron money only could be held, and this was without value in foreign parts. The soldier was part of an animated machine. His simple duty was to obey. Speech was repressed. It became abrupt, brief, pithy. Relief was found at the Lesche, near the training-ground, where talk was often free and even merry. The whole aim of the discipline was to form the soldier. Marriage was delayed for the sake of vigorous offspring. The girls were trained for motherhood. They were subject to a system of athletic exercises, and engaged in contests of running, wrestling, and boxing. The boys were put under training at the age of eight years. They became accustomed to severe exercise, and were inured to patient and painful endurance. They were compelled to suffer hunger, thirst, cold, heat, and fatigue, and to bear torture without flinching or show of emotion. Their food was kept almost within the limits of war rations. To increase the amount and variety they were allowed to steal. But they were careful not to be detected, lest they should be severely punished. Likely this was a device for training them to stealthy and cautious movements. After the time of their maturity they continued gymnastic culture. They hunted the goats, boars, stags, and bears on the rugged heights of the Taygetus range. There was no system of liberal education; mental growth and development were not sought as ends. They were rather feared. Poetry and music were used to a limited degree, so far as they might be made conducive to forming the traits of the soldier.

While the Spartans were solely occupied in preparation for the art of war, it is evident there must have been a population as wholly given to the pursuit of the practical arts, or the community could not have existed. There were two classes of laborers. The Periœci dwelt in the rural townships. They were mainly of the mixed population of the lands, but there were Dorians among them. They were freemen; they held lands, and enjoyed certain rights of local government, voting for their magistrates in their townships. More and more they were trained for military service and entered the ranks as heavy-armed infantry. Some of them were shepherds and herdsmen. From them came all the skilled workmen, who wrought in the quarries and mines, provided building materials, shaped iron implements, made woollen stuff and leathern wares. Their number was three times as great as that of the citizens of the capital city. But over all their townships the Spartans held sway through the kings, the senate, and the assembly. These facts exhibit the civil polity which became so common during Greek and Roman times, and obtained again in Italy after the fall of the empire and the barbarian invasions, up to the time of the Renaissance.

The Helots were a rural people dwelling on the lands of the Spartans which lay about the capital or in the Laconian towns. Some of them were in the country as villagers and rustics when the Dorians came. They remained upon their lands as they were before, but were forced to pay a part of the annual produce of barley, oil, and wine. Some of them were people made captive in the border wars. They were serfs. They were, however, wards of the state. No (p. 028) one could treat them as personal property. They could not be sold or given away. They belonged to the inventory of the farm. Their taxes were defined by law. More could not be exacted. They could not be harmed in person. They were of value to the state and therefore protected. More and more they were needed in the army, where they were respected and honored for energy and bravery. Grote says they were as happy as the peasantry of the most civilized and humane modern nations. They lived in their villages, enjoyed their homes and the companionship of their wives and children, and the common fellowship of their neighbors, with ample supply for their needs and comfort from the surplus product of their labor and apart from the eye of their masters. Still the Helot had in him the common sentiments of our nature. His state was servile and mean. It was not to be expected he would always remain content in his subjection to his superiors in social and civil life. More and more his discontent would menace the stability of the community. Especially when the exigencies of war should compel his rulers to place arms in his hands and enlist him for defence against the foreign foe, it would become necessary to keep close watch upon him and to use strong measures for the repression of his impulse toward freedom.

Judged by the highest standards, Lycurgus certainly did not form the Laconians into an ideal nationality. He set up a military sovereignty in the land, and this demanded that the citizens should be soldiers, live in the camp, and devote themselves solely to the art of war. It is likely he perceived the imperfections of the system, anticipated its reflex effect upon the character and manners of the Spartans, and foreknew its weakness and the consequent perils of the people when it should inevitably be put to stress and strain by the aspirations of the subject classes after freedom and social equality. Could he speak for himself, he would doubtless say, with Solon, that he had not done the best he knew but the best he could, that his constitution was provisional and suited to the time, and that it was designed to serve as a bridge over which his countrymen could cross a torrent and reach safely the solid ground on which they might securely stand to rearrange their polity and form themselves on a more equitable and generous basis into a real and happy commonwealth.[Back to Contents]

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(514-449 B.C.)


Themistocles, who raised Athens from a subordinate position to her proud rank as leader of the Grecian States, was born about the year B.C., 514. He was the son of Nicocles, an Athenian of moderate fortune, who, however, was connected with the priestly house of the Lycomedæ; his mother, Abrotonon, or, according to others Euterpe, was not an Athenian citizen; and according to most authorities, not even a Greek, but either a native of Caria or of Thrace. The education which he received was like that of all Athenians of rank at the time, but Themistocles had no taste for the elegant arts which then began to form a prominent part in the education of Athenian youths; he applied himself with much more zeal to the pursuit of practical and useful knowledge. This, as well as the numerous anecdotes about his youthful wilfulness and waywardness, together with the sleepless nights which he is said to have passed in meditating on the trophies of Miltiades, are more or less clear symptoms of the character which he subsequently displayed as a general and a statesman. His mind was early bent upon great things, and was incapable of being diverted from them by reverses, scruples, or difficulties. The great object of his life appears to have been to make Athens great. The powers with which nature had endowed him were quickness of perception, an accurate judgment of the course which was to be taken on sudden and extraordinary emergencies, and sagacity in calculating the consequences of his own actions; and these were the qualities which Athens during her wars with Persia stood most in need of. His ambition was unbounded, but he was at the same time persuaded that it could not reach its end unless Athens was the first among the Grecian States; and as he was not very scrupulous about the means that he employed for these ends, he came into frequent conflict with Aristides the Just, who had nothing at heart but the welfare of his country and no desire for personal aggrandizement.

In the year 483 B.C., when Aristides was sent into exile by ostracism, Themistocles, who had for several years taken an active part in public affairs, and was one of the chief authors of the banishment of his rival, remained in the almost undivided possession of the popular favor, and the year after, B.C. 482, he was elected archon eponymus of Athens. The city was at that time involved in a war with Ægina, which then possessed the strongest navy in Greece, and with which Athens was unable to cope. It was in this year that Themistocles conceived (p. 030) and partly carried into effect the plans by which he intended to raise the power of Athens. His first object was to increase the navy of Athens; and this he did ostensibly to enable Athens to contend with Ægina, but his real intention was to put his country in a position to meet the danger of a second Persian invasion, with which Greece was threatened. The manner in which he raised the naval power was this. Hitherto the people of Athens had been accustomed to divide among themselves the yearly revenues of the silver-mines of Laurion. In the year of his archonship these revenues were unusually large, and he persuaded his countrymen to forego their personal advantage, and to apply these revenues to the enlargement of their fleet. His advice was followed, and the fleet was raised to the number of two hundred sail. It was probably at the same time that he induced the Athenians to pass a decree that for the purpose of keeping up their navy, twenty new ships should be built every year. Athens soon after made peace with Ægina, as Xerxes was at Sardis making preparations for invading Greece with all the forces he could muster. At the same time Themistocles was actively engaged in allaying the disputes and hostile feelings which existed among the several states of Greece. He acted, however, with great severity toward those who espoused the cause of the Persians, and a Greek interpreter, who accompanied the envoys of Xerxes that came to Athens to demand earth and water as a sign of submission, was put to death for having made use of the Greek tongue in the service of the common enemy.

After affairs among the Greeks were tolerably settled, a detachment of the allied troops of the Greeks was sent out to take possession of Tempe, under the command of Themistocles, of Athens, and Euænetus, of Sparta; but on finding that there they would be overwhelmed by the host of the barbarians, they returned to the Corinthian isthmus. When Xerxes arrived in Pieria, the Greek fleet took its post near Artemisium on the north coast of Eubœa, under the command of the Spartan admiral Eurybiades, under whom Themistocles condescended to serve in order not to cause new dissensions among the Greeks, although Athens alone furnished one hundred and twenty-seven ships, and supplied the Chalcidians with twenty others; while the Spartan contingent was incomparably smaller. When the Persian fleet, notwithstanding the severe losses which it had sustained by a storm, determined to sail round the eastern and southern coasts of Eubœa, and then up the Euripus, in order to cut off the Greek fleet at Artemisium, the Greeks were so surprised and alarmed that Themistocles had great difficulty in inducing them to remain and maintain their station. The Eubœans, who perceived the advantages of the plan of Themistocles, rewarded him with the sum of fifty talents, part of which he gave to the Spartan Eurybiades and the Corinthian Adimantus to induce them to remain at Artemisium. In the battle which then took place, the Greeks gained considerable advantage, though the victory was not decisive. A storm and a second engagement near Artemisium, severely injured the fleet of the Persians, but the Greeks also sustained great losses, as half of their ships were partly destroyed and partly rendered unfit for further service. When at the same time they (p. 031) received intelligence of the defeat of Leonidas, at Thermopylæ, the Greeks resolved to retreat from Artemisium, and sailed to the Saronic gulf.

Xerxes was now advancing from Thermopylæ, and Athens trembled for her existence, while the Peloponnesians were bent upon seeking shelter and safety in their peninsula, and upon fortifying themselves by a wall across the Corinthian isthmus. On the approach of the danger the Athenians had sent to Delphi to consult the oracle about the means they should employ for their safety, and the god had commanded Athens to defend herself behind wooden walls. This oracle, which probably had been given at the suggestion of Themistocles, was now also interpreted by him as referring to the fleet, and his advice to seek safety in the fleet was followed. He then further moved that the Athenians should abandon the city to the care of its tutelary deity, that the women, children, and infirm should be removed to Salamis, Ægina, or Trœzen, and that the men should embark in the ships. The fleet of the Greeks, consisting of three hundred and eighty ships, assembled at Salamis, still under the supreme command of Eurybiades. When the Persians had made themselves masters of Attica, and Athens was seen in flames at a distance, some of the commanders of the fleet, under the influence of fear, began to make preparation for an immediate retreat. Themistocles saw the disastrous results of such a course, and exerted all his powers of persuasion to induce the commanders of the fleet to maintain their post; when all attempts proved ineffectual, Themistocles had recourse to threats, and thus induced Eurybiades to stay. The example of the admiral was followed by the other commanders also. In the meantime the Persian fleet arrived in the Saronic gulf, and the fears of the Peloponnesians were revived and doubled, and nothing seemed to be able to keep them together. At this last and critical moment Themistocles devised a plan to compel them to remain and face the enemy. He sent a message to the Persian admiral, informing him that the Greeks were on the point of dispersing, and that if the Persians would attack them while they were assembled, they would easily conquer them all at once, whereas it would be otherwise necessary to defeat them one after another.

This apparently well-meant advice was eagerly taken up by the enemy, who now hastened, as he thought, to destroy the fleet of the Greeks. But the event proved the wisdom of Themistocles. The unwieldy armament of the Persians was unable to perform any movements in the narrow straits between the island of Salamis and the mainland. The Greeks gained a most complete and brilliant victory, for they only lost forty ships, while the enemy lost two hundred, or according to Ctesias, even five hundred. Very soon after the victory was decided, Xerxes with the remains of the fleet left the Attic coast and sailed toward the Hellespont. The battles of Artemisium and Salamis occurred in the same year, B.C. 480.

When the Greeks were informed of the departure of Xerxes, they pursued him as far as Andros, without gaining sight of his fleet, and Themistocles proposed to continue the chase. But he gave way to the opposition that was made (p. 032) to this plan, and consented not to drive the vanquished enemy to despair. The Greek fleet therefore only stayed some time among the Cyclades, to chastise those islanders who had been unfaithful to the national cause. Themistocles, in the meantime, in order to get completely rid of the king and his fleet, sent a message to him, exhorting him to hasten back to Asia as speedily as possible, for otherwise he would be in danger of having his retreat cut off. Themistocles availed himself of the stay of the Greek fleet among the Cyclades for the purpose of enriching himself at the cost of the islanders, partly by extorting money from them by way of punishment, and partly by accepting bribes for securing them impunity for their conduct. He was now, however, the greatest man in Greece, his fame spread everywhere, and all acknowledged that the country had been saved through his wisdom and resolution. But the confederate Greeks, actuated by jealousy, awarded to him only the second prize; at Sparta, whither he went, as Herodotus says, to be honored, he received a chaplet of olive-leaves—a reward which they had bestowed upon their own admiral Eurybiades—and the best chariot that the city possessed, and on his return three hundred knights escorted him as far as Tegea in Arcadia.

When the Persian army had been again defeated at Platæa and Mycale in B.C. 479, and when the Athenians had rebuilt their private dwellings, it was also resolved, on the advice of Themistocles, to restore the fortifications of Athens, but on a larger scale than they had been before, and more in accordance with the proud position which the city now occupied in Greece. This plan excited the fear and jealousy of the rival states, and especially of Sparta, which sent an embassy to Athens, and under the veil of friendship, which ill concealed its selfish policy, endeavored to persuade the Athenians not to fortify the city. Themistocles, who saw through their designs, undertook the task of defeating them with their own weapons. He advised his countrymen to dismiss the Spartan ambassadors, and to promise that Athenian envoys should be sent to Sparta to treat with them there respecting the fortifications. He himself offered to go as one of the envoys, but he directed the Athenians not to let his colleagues follow him until the walls, on which all hands should be employed during his absence, should be raised to such a height as to afford sufficient protection against any attack that might be made upon them. His advice was followed, and Themistocles, after his arrival at Sparta, took no steps toward opening the negotiations, but pretended that he was obliged to wait for the arrival of his colleagues. When he was informed that the walls had reached a sufficient height, and when he could drop the mask with safety, he gave the Spartans a well-deserved rebuke, returned home, and the walls were completed without any hindrance. He then proceeded to carry into effect the chief thing which remained to be done to make Athens the first maritime power of Greece. He induced the Athenians to fortify the three ports of Phalerum, Munychia, and Piræus by a double range of walls.

The victors of Salamis.

When Athens was thus raised to the station on which it had been the ambition of Themistocles to place it, his star began to sink, though he still continued for some time to enjoy the fruits of his memorable deeds. He was conscious (p. 033) of the services he had done his country, and never scrupled to show that he knew his own value. His extortion and avarice, which made him ready to do anything, and by which he accumulated extraordinary wealth, could not fail to raise enemies against him. But what perhaps contributed more to his downfall was his constant watchfulness in maintaining and promoting the interests of Athens against the encroachments of Sparta, which in its turn was ever looking out for an opportunity to crush him. The great men who had grown up by his side at Athens, such as Cimon, and who were no less indebted to him for their greatness in the eyes of Greece than to their own talents, were his natural rivals, and succeeded in gradually supplanting him in the favor of the people. They also endeavored to represent him as a man of too much power, and as dangerous to the public. The consequence of all this was that in B.C. 472, he was banished from Athens by the ostracism. He took up his residence at Argos, where he was still residing when, in the same year, B.C. 472, Pausanias was put to death at Sparta for his ambitious and treacherous designs, and his fate involved that of Themistocles. The Spartans, in their search to discover more traces of the plot of Pausanias, found a letter of Themistocles from which it was evident that he had been acquainted with his plans. This was sufficient for the Spartans to ground upon it the charge that Themistocles had been an accomplice in his crime, and ambassadors were forthwith sent to Athens to demand that he should suffer the same punishment as Pausanias.

This charge was no less welcome to his enemies at Athens than the discovery of his letter had been to the Spartans. Orders were consequently issued to arrest and convey him to Athens; and foreseeing that his destruction would be unavoidable if he should fall into the hands of his enemies, he fled to Corcyra, and thence to the opposite coast of Epirus, where he took refuge at the court of Admetus, king of the Molossians. On his arrival the king was absent, but his Queen Phthia received him kindly, and pointed out to him in what manner he might win the sympathy of Admetus. When the king returned home, Themistocles, seated on the hearth and holding the child of Admetus in his arms, implored the king not to deliver him up to his persecutors, who traced him to the court of the Molossians. It is stated that Themistocles was here joined by his wife and children. The king not only granted his request, but provided him with the means of reaching the coast of the Ægean, whence he intended to proceed to Asia and seek refuge at the court of the king of Persia. From Pydna he sailed in a merchant ship to the coast of Asia Minor. At Ephesus he received such part of his property as his friends had been able to wrest from the hands of his enemies at Athens, together with that which he had left at Argos.

A few months after his arrival in Asia, Xerxes was assassinated (B.C. 465), and was after a short interval succeeded by Artaxerxes. Various adventures are told of Themistocles before he reached the residence of the Persian king. On his arrival he sent him a letter, in which he acknowledged the evils he had inflicted upon his predecessor; but at the same time claimed the merit of having saved him from destruction by his timely advice. He added that his present exile was (p. 034) only the consequence of his great zeal for the interests of the king of Persia. He did not ask for an immediate interview with the king, as he was yet unacquainted with the language and the manners of the Persians, to acquire which he requested a year's time. During this period he applied himself so zealously and with such success to these studies that at the close of the year, when he was presented to the king, he is said to have excited the jealousy of the courtiers, and was most kindly received by the king, to whom he held out prospects of conquering Greece by his assistance. The king became so attached to him, that Themistocles was always in his company.

But death overtook him at the age of sixty-five, before any of his plans were carried into effect. Most of the ancient writers state that he put an end to his life by poison, or according to another strange story, by drinking the blood of a bull, because he despaired of being able to fulfil his promises to the king. The motive for his suicide is very questionable. Reflection on his past life and upon the glory of his former rivals at Athens, are much more likely to have rendered him dissatisfied with life. Before he took the poison he is said to have requested his friends to convey his remains secretly to Attica, and in later times a tomb which was believed to contain them existed in Piræus. In the market-place of Magnesia a splendid monument was erected to his memory, and his descendants in that place continued to be distinguished by certain privileges down to the time of Plutarch.[Back to Contents]

(499-429 B.C.)


Pericles, the greatest statesman of ancient Greece, was born of distinguished parentage in the early part of the fifth century B.C. His father was that Xanthippus who won the victory over the Persians at Mycale, 479 B.C.; and by his mother, Agariste, the niece of the great Athenian reformer, Cleisthenes, he was connected with the princely line of Sicyon and the great house of the Alcmæonidæ. He received an elaborate education, but of all his teachers the one whom he most reverenced was the serene and humane philosopher, Anaxagoras. Pericles was conspicuous all through his career for the singular dignity of his manners, the Olympian grandeur of his eloquence, his "majestic intelligence" in Plato's phrase, his sagacity, probity, and profound Athenian patriotism. Both in voice and in appearance he was so like Pisistratus, who had once overturned the Athenian republic and ruled as a king, that for some time he was afraid to come forward in political life. When he entered on public life Aristides had only recently died, Themistocles was an exile, and Cimon was fighting the battles of his country abroad. Although the family to which he belonged was good, it did not rank among the (p. 035) first in either wealth or influence, yet so transcendent were the abilities of Pericles that he rapidly rose to the highest power in the state as the leader of the dominant democracy. The sincerity of his attachment to the popular party has been questioned, but without a shadow of evidence. At any rate, the measures which, either personally or through his adherents, he brought forward and caused to be passed, were always in favor of extending the privileges of the poorer class of the citizens, and, if he diminished the spirit of reverence for the ancient institutions of public life, he enlisted an immense body of citizens on the side of law. He extended enormously, if he did not originate, the practice of distributing gratuities among the citizens for military service, for acting as dicast and in the Ecclesia and the like, as well as for admission to the theatre—then really a great school for manners and instruction. Pericles seems to have grasped very clearly, and to have held as firmly, the modern radical idea, that as the state is supported by the taxation of the body of the citizens, it must govern with a view to general interests rather than to those of a caste alone. About 463, Pericles, through the agency of his follower, Ephialtes, struck a great blow at the influence of the oligarchy, by causing the decree to be passed which deprived the Areopagus of its most important political powers. Shortly after the democracy obtained another triumph in the ostracism of Cimon (461). During the next few years the political course pursued by Pericles is less clearly intelligible to us, but it is safe to say that in general his attitude was hostile to the desire for foreign conquest or territorial aggrandizement, so prevalent among his ambitious fellow-citizens. Shortly after the battle of Tanagra (457), in which he showed conspicuous courage, Pericles magnanimously carried the measure for the recall of Cimon. His successful expeditions to the Thracian Chersonese, and to Sinope on the Black Sea, together with his colonies planted at Naxos, Andros, Oreus in Eubœa, Brea in Macedonia, and Ægina, as well as Thurii in Italy, and Amphipolis on the Strymon, did much to extend and confirm the naval supremacy of Athens, and afford a means of subsistence for her poorer citizens. But his greatest project was to form, in concert with the other Hellenic states, a grand Hellenic confederation in order to put an end to the mutually destructive wars of kindred peoples, and to make Greece one mighty nation, fit to front the outlying world. The idea was not less sagacious than it was grand. Had it been accomplished, (p. 036) the semi-barbarous Macedonians would have menaced the civilized Greeks in vain, and even Rome at a later period, might perhaps have found the Adriatic, and not the Euphrates, the limit of her empire. But the Spartan aristocrats were utterly incapable of appreciating such exalted patriotism, or of understanding the political necessity for it, and by their secret intrigues the well-planned scheme was brought to nothing. Athens and Sparta were already in that mood toward each other which rendered the disaster of the Peloponnesian war inevitable. When the Spartans, in 448, restored to the Delphians the guardianship of the temple and treasures of Delphi, of which they had been deprived by the Phocians, the Athenians immediately after marched an army thither and reinstated the latter. Three years later an insurrection broke out in the tributary Megara and Eubœa, and the Spartans again appeared in the field as the allies of the insurgents. The position of Athens was critical. Pericles wisely declined to fight against all his enemies at once. A bribe of ten talents sent the Spartans home, and the insurgents were then thoroughly subdued. The thirty years' peace with Sparta (445) left him free to carry out his schemes for the internal prosperity of Athens.

Cimon was now dead and was succeeded in the leadership of the aristocratic party by Thucydides, son of Melesias, who in 444 B.C. made a strong effort to overthrow the supremacy of Pericles by attacking him in the popular assembly for squandering the public money on buildings and in festivals and amusements. Thucydides made an effective speech; but Pericles immediately rose and offered to execute the buildings at his own expense, if the citizens would allow him to put his own name upon them instead of theirs. The sarcasm was successful. Thucydides was ostracized, and to the end of his life, Pericles reigned the undisputed master of the public policy of Athens. During the rest of his career "there was," says the historian Thucydides, "in name a democracy, but in reality a government in the hands of the first man." And the Athens of his day was the home of Æschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Anaxagoras, Zeno, Protagoras, Socrates, as well as Myron and Phidias; while there flourished at the same time, but elsewhere in Greece, Herodotus, Hippocrates, Pindar, Empedocles, and Democritus. The centre of this splendid group was Pericles, of whom the truthful pen of Thucydides records that he never did anything unworthy of his high position, that he did not flatter the people or oppress his adversaries, and that with all his unlimited command of the public purse, he was personally incorruptible.

Soon after this the Samian war broke out, in which Pericles gained high renown as a naval commander. This war originated in a quarrel between Miletus and the island of Samos, in which Athens was led to take part with the former. The Samians, after an obstinate struggle, were beaten, and a peace was concluded (439). The position in which Athens then stood toward many of the Greek states was peculiar. Since the time of the Persian invasion, she had been the leader of the confederacy formed to resist the attacks of the powerful enemy, and the guardian of the confederate treasury kept in the isle of Delos. Pericles caused the treasury to be removed to Athens, and commuting the contingents of (p. 037) the allies for money, enormously increased the contributions to the patriotic fund, Athens herself undertaking to protect the confederacy. The grand charge against Pericles is that he applied the money thus obtained to other purposes than those for which it was designed; that, in short, he adorned and enriched Athens with the spoils of the allied states. To his mind Hellas was subordinate to Athens, and he confounded the splendor of the dominant city with the splendor of Greece, in a manner possible to a man of poetic imagination, hardly to a man of the highest honor. His enemies, who dared not attack himself, struck at him in the persons of his friends. Phidias was flung into prison for the impiety of introducing portraits of himself and Pericles into the battle of the Amazons depicted on the shield of the goddess Athena in the Parthenon; the brilliant Aspasia, the famous mistress of Pericles, was arraigned on a charge of impiety, and only acquitted through the eloquence of Pericles on her behalf; while the aged Anaxagoras was driven from the city.

It is unnecessary to give a detailed account of all that Pericles did to make his native city the most glorious in the ancient world. Greek architecture and sculpture under his patronage reached perfection. To him Athens owed the Parthenon, the Erechtheum, left unfinished at his death, the Propylæa, the Odeum, and numberless other public and sacred edifices; he also liberally encouraged music and the drama; and during his life, industry and commerce were in so flourishing a condition that prosperity was universal in Attica.

At length, in 431, the long foreseen and inevitable Peloponnesian war broke out between Athens and Sparta. The plan of Pericles was for Athens to adopt a defensive attitude, to defend the city itself, leaving Attica to be ravaged by the enemy, but to cripple the power of Sparta by harassing its coasts. The story of the war must be told elsewhere; here it is enough to say that the result was unfavorable to Athens for reasons for which Pericles was only in small part to blame. He trusted in the ultimate success of Athens, both from her superior wealth and from her possessing the command of the sea, but he had not calculated upon the deterioration in her citizens' spirit, nor upon the robust courage of the Bœotian and Spartan infantry. Nor was his advice to keep behind the city walls rather than face the enemy in the field, best calculated to arouse the Athenians' courage. The plague ravaged the city in 430, and in the autumn of the following year, Pericles died after a lingering fever. His two sons had been carried off by the plague, he had been harassed by a charge of peculation brought by Cleon, and the actual infliction of a fine by the dicastery, while he had been without office from July, 430, to July, 429, but before the last he recovered his hold over the Ecclesia, and was gratified in the closing days of his life by its legitimation of his and Aspasia's son.

As a statesman his greatest fault was a failure to foresee that personal government is ultimately ruinous to a nation. He taught the people to follow a leader, but he could not perpetuate a descent of leaders like himself. Hence we cannot wonder, when days of trouble broke over Athens, how that men spoke bitterly of Pericles and all his glory. Yet he was a lofty-minded statesman, inspired by (p. 038) noble aspirations, and his heart was full of a noble love for the city and her citizens. Plutarch tells the story that, as he lay dying and apparently unconscious, his friends around his bed were passing in review the great achievements of his life, and the nine trophies which he had erected at different times for so many victories. The dying patriot quietly interrupted with the characteristic sentence: "What you praise in my life belongs partly to good fortune, and is, at best, common to me with many generals. But that of which I am proudest, you have left unnoticed—no Athenian has ever put on mourning through any act of mine."[Back to Contents]

From the French of Fénelon
(468-399 B.C.)


Socrates, who, by the consent of all antiquity, has been considered as the most virtuous and enlightened of Pagan philosophers, was a citizen of Athens, and belonged to the town of Alopecé.

He was born in the fourth year of the 77th Olympiad. His father, Sophroniscus, was a sculptor; and his mother, Phanaretè, a midwife.

He first studied philosophy under Anaxagoras, and next under Archelaus, the natural philosopher. But finding that all these vain speculations concerning natural objects served no useful purpose, and had no influence in rendering the philosopher a better man, he devoted himself to the study of ethics; and (as Cicero, in the third book of his Tusculan Questions, observes) may be said to be the founder of moral philosophy among the Greeks. In the first book, speaking of him still more particularly and more extensively, he expresses himself thus: "It is my opinion (and it is an opinion in which all are agreed) that Socrates was the first who, calling off the attention of philosophy from the investigation of secrets which nature has concealed (but to which alone all preceding philosophers had attached themselves), engaged her in those things which concern the duties of common life; his object was to investigate the nature of virtue and vice; and to point out the characteristics of good and evil; saying, that the investigation of celestial (p. 039) phenomena was a subject far above the reach of our powers; and that even were they more within the reach of our faculties, it could have no influence in regulating our conduct."

That part of philosophy, then, whose province is the cultivation of morals, and which embraces every age and condition of life, he made his only study. This new mode of philosophizing was the better received on this account, that he who was the founder of it, fulfilling with the most scrupulous care all the duties of a good citizen, whether in peace or in war, enforced by example the precepts which he taught.

Of all the philosophers who have acquired celebrity, he (as Lucian in his dialogue of the Parasite remarks) was the only one that ever subjected himself to the hardships of war. He served two campaigns, in both of which, though unsuccessful, he served in person and exhibited a manly courage. In the one, he saved the life of Xenophon, who when retreating, had fallen from his horse and would have been killed by the enemy, had not Socrates taking him upon his shoulders, removed him from the danger and carried him several furlongs, till his horse, which had run off, was brought back. This fact is related by Strabo.

In his other campaign, the Athenians having been entirely defeated and put to flight, Socrates was the last to retreat, and showed such a stern aspect that the pursuers of those who fled, seeing him every moment ready to turn upon them, never had the boldness to attack him. This testimony is given him by Athenæus.

After these two expeditions, Socrates never set a foot out of Athens. In this, his conduct was very different from that of the other philosophers, who all devoted a part of their life to travelling, that by intercourse with the learned of other countries they might acquire new knowledge. But as that kind of philosophy to which Socrates limited himself led a man to use every effort to know himself rather than to burden his mind with knowledge which has no influence on moral conduct, he thought it his duty to dispense with tedious travelling, in which nothing was to be learned which he might not learn at Athens among his countrymen, for whose reformation, besides, he thought his labors ought to be devoted, rather than to that of strangers. And as moral philosophy is a science which is taught better by example than by precept, he laid it down as a rule to himself, to follow and practise all that right reason and the most rigid virtue could demand.

It was in compliance with this maxim that, when elected one of the senators of the city, and having taken the oath to give his opinion "according to the laws," he peremptorily refused to subscribe to the sentence by which the people, in opposition to the laws, had condemned to death nine officers; and though the people took offence at it, and some of the most powerful even threw out severe menaces against him, he always firmly adhered to his resolution; thinking it inconsistent with the principles of a man of virtue or honor, to act contrary to his oath merely to please the people. Except on this single occasion, we know not whether he ever acted in a civil capacity; but insulated as the occasion was, he (p. 040) acquired such reputation by it at Athens, for probity and the other virtues, that he was more respected there than the magistrates themselves.

He was very careful of his person, and blamed those who paid no attention to themselves, or who affected exterior negligence. He was always neat, dressed in a decent, becoming manner; observing a just medium between what might seem gross and rustic, and what savored of pride and effeminacy.

Though furnished with few of the blessings of fortune, he always maintained perfect disinterestedness by receiving no remuneration from those who attended on his instructions. By such conduct he condemned the practice of the other philosophers, whose custom it was to sell their lessons, and to tax their scholars higher or lower, according to the degree of reputation they had acquired.

Thus Socrates, as Xenophon relates, used to say that he could not conceive how a man, whose object it was to teach virtue, should think of turning it to gain; as if to form a man of virtue, and to make of his pupil a good friend, were not the richest advantages and the most solid profit with which his cares could be rewarded.

It must further be remarked that Socrates kept no class, as did the other philosophers, who had a fixed place where their scholars assembled, and where lectures were delivered to them at stated hours. Socrates' manner of philosophizing consisted simply in conversing with those who chanced to be where he was, without any regard to time or place.

He was always poor; but in his poverty so contented, that though to be rich was within the reach of a wish, by receiving the presents which his friends and scholars often urged him to accept, he always returned them; to the great displeasure of his wife, who had no relish for carrying philosophy to such a height. In regard to food and clothes, so hardy was his manner of life that Antiphon, the Sophist, sometimes reproached him, by saying that he had not a slave so miserable as would be contented with it: "For," said he, "your food is disgustingly mean; besides, not only are you always very poorly dressed, but winter or summer you have the same robe; and never anything above it: with this, you on all occasions, go barefoot."

But Socrates proved to him that he was greatly mistaken if he thought that happiness depended on wealth or finery; and that, poor as he might seem to him, he was in fact happier than he. "I consider," said he, "that as to want nothing is the exclusive prerogative of the gods, so the fewer wants a man has, the nearer he approaches to the condition of the gods."

It was impossible that virtue so pure as that of Socrates should have no effect in exciting admiration, especially in a city such as Athens, where that example must have appeared very extraordinary. For those very persons who have not the happiness to follow virtue themselves, cannot refrain from doing justice to those who do follow it. This soon gained Socrates the universal esteem of his fellow-citizens, and attracted to him many scholars of every age; by whom the advantages of listening to his instructions, and engaging in conversation with him, were preferred to the most fascinating pleasure and the most agreeable amusements.

(p. 041) What rendered the manner of Socrates peculiarly engaging was, that though in his own practice he maintained the most rigid severity, yet to others he was in the highest degree gentle and complaisant. The first principle with which he wished to inspire his youthful auditors was piety and reverence for the gods; he then allured them as much as possible to observe temperance, and to avoid voluptuousness; representing to them how the latter deprives a man of liberty, the richest treasure of which he is possessed.

His manner of treating the science of morals was the more insinuating, as he always conducted his subject in the way of conversation and without any apparent method. For without proposing any point for discussion, he kept by that which chance first presented. Like one who himself wished information, he first put a question, and then, profiting by the concessions of his respondent, brought him to a proposition subversive of that which in the beginning of the debate had been considered as a first principle. He spent one part of the day in conferences of this kind, on morals. To these everyone was welcome, and according to the testimony of Xenophon, none departed from them without becoming a better man.

Though Socrates has left us nothing in writing, yet by what we find in the works of Plato and Xenophon, it is easy to judge both of the principles of his ethical knowledge and of the manner in which he communicated them. The uniformity observable (especially in his manner of disputing), as transmitted by these two scholars of Socrates, is a certain proof of the method which he followed.

It will be difficult to conceive how a person who exhorted all men to honor the gods, and who preached, so to speak, to the young to avoid and abandon every vice, should himself be condemned to death for impiety against the gods received at Athens, and as a corrupter of youth. This infamously unjust proceeding took place in a time of disorder and under the seditious government of the thirty tyrants. The occasion of it was as follows:

Critias, the most powerful of these thirty tyrants, had formerly, as well as Alcibiades, been a disciple of Socrates. But both of them being weary of a philosophy the maxims of which would not yield to their ambition and intemperance, they, at length, totally abandoned it. Critias, though formerly a scholar of Socrates, became his most inveterate enemy. This we are to trace to that firmness with which Socrates reproached him for a certain shameful vice; and to those means by which he endeavored to thwart his indulging in it. Hence it was that Critias, having become one of the thirty tyrants, had nothing more at heart than the destruction of Socrates, who, besides, not being able to brook their tyranny, was wont to speak against them with much freedom. For, seeing that they were always putting to death citizens and powerful men, he could not refrain from observing, in a company where he was, that if he to whom the care of cattle was committed, exhibited them every day leaner and fewer in number, it would be very strange if he would not himself confess that he was a bad cow-herd.

Critias and Charicles, two of the most powerful of the thirty tyrants, feeling (p. 042) the weight of the allusion fall upon themselves, first enacted that no one should teach in Athens the art of reasoning. Although Socrates never had professed that art, yet it was easy to discover that he was aimed at; and that it was intended thus to deprive him of the liberty of conversing as usual, on moral subjects, with those who resorted to him.

That he might have a precise explanation of this law, he went to the two authors of it; but as he embarrassed them by the subtlety of his questions, they plainly told him that they prohibited him from entering into conversation with young people.

But, seeing Socrates' reputation was so great that to attack him and serve him with an indictment would have drawn upon them public odium, it was thought necessary to begin by discrediting him in the view of the public. This was attempted by the comedy of Aristophanes entitled "The Clouds," in which Socrates was represented as teaching the art of making that which is just appear unjust.

The comedy having had its effect, by the ridicule which it threw upon Socrates, Melitus brought a capital accusation against him, in which he alleged; first, that he did not honor those as gods, who were acknowledged such at Athens, and that he was introducing new ones; secondly, that he corrupted the youth; that is to say, that he taught them not to respect their parents, or the magistrates. The accuser required that for these two crimes he should be condemned to death.

Enraged as the tyrants were (and especially Critias and Charicles) against Socrates, it is certain that they would have been very reluctant to condemn him, had he availed himself in the least of the favorable circumstances in his case. But the intrepidity and resolution with which he heard the accusation, refusing even to pay any fine, as that would have been to avow himself in some degree culpable; and especially the firmness with which he addressed the judges when called upon to state the punishment which he thought he deserved, enraged them against him. For, with confidence in his integrity, he answered them, "That he thought he deserved to be maintained at the public expense during the rest of his life." This whetted afresh the resentment of the thirty tyrants, who caused him now to be condemned to death.

Lysias, a very eloquent philosopher, had composed an apologetical oration that Socrates might avail himself of it, and pronounce it before the judges, when called to appear before them. Socrates having heard it, acknowledged it to be a very good one, but returned it, saying that it did not suit him. "But why," replied Lysias, "will it not suit you, since you think it a good one?"

"Oh, my friend!" returned Socrates, "may there not be shoes and different articles of dress very good in themselves, and yet not suitable for me?"

The fact is, though the oration was very fine and energetic, yet the manner in which it was conducted, did not suit the uprightness and candor of Socrates.

Death of Socrates.

Now condemned to death, Socrates was put into prison, where some days after, he died by drinking the poison hemlock. For this was the instrument of death, (p. 043) then used by the Athenians, in the case of those who were condemned for capital crimes.

According to Diogenes Laërtius, Socrates was twice married, but of the two wives he has given him, we know nothing except of the famous Xantippè, by whom he had a son named Tamprocles; Xantippè rendered herself celebrated by her ill-humor, and by the exercise which she afforded to the patience of Socrates. He had married her, he said, from a persuasion that if he were able to bear with her bad temper, there could be nothing which he might not support.

He died in the first year of the 95th Olympiad, aged seventy.[Back to Contents]

From the French of Fénelon
(412-323 B.C.)


Diogenes the Cynic, son of Icesius a banker, was born about the 91st Olympiad, in Sinope, a city of Paphlagonia. He was accused of having forged money, in concert with his father. Icesius was arrested, and died in prison. Alarmed at the fate of his father, Diogenes fled to Athens. When he had arrived at that city, he inquired for Antisthenes; but the latter, having resolved never to take a scholar, repulsed him and beat him off with his stick. Diogenes was by no means discouraged by this treatment. "Strike—fear not," said he to him, bowing his head; "you shall never find a stick hard enough to make me run off, so long as you continue to speak." Overcome by the importunity of Diogenes, Antisthenes yielded, and permitted him to become his scholar.

Banished from his native country and without any resource, Diogenes was reduced to great indigence. He perceived one day, a mouse running briskly up and down, without any fear of being surprised by the approach of night, without any anxiety about a lodging-place, and even without thinking of food. This reconciled him to his misery. He resolved to live at his ease, without constraint, (p. 044) and to dispense with everything which was not absolutely necessary for the preservation of life. He doubled his cloak, that by rolling himself up in it, it might serve the purposes both of a bed and of a coverlet. His movables consisted of a bag, a jug, and a staff; and wherever he went he always carried his furniture along with him. His stick, however, he used only when he went to the country, or on some emergency. Persons really lame were, he said, neither the deaf nor the blind, but those who had no bag.

He always went barefoot, nor did he wear sandals even when the ground was covered with snow. He endeavored also to accustom himself to eat raw flesh, but this was a point of perfection to which he never could arrive. He entreated a person of his acquaintance to afford him some little hole in his lodging, to which he might occasionally retire. But as he was dilatory in giving him a positive answer he took possession of an earthen tub, which he always carried about with him, and which was the only house he ever had. In the heat of summer when the fields were scorched by the sun, he used to roll among the burning sands, and in winter to embrace statues covered with snow, that he might accustom himself to endure without pain the inclemencies of heat and cold.

He treated everyone with contempt. He accused Plato and his scholars of dissipation, and of the crime of loving good cheer. All the orators he styled "the slaves of the people." Crowns were, he said, as brittle marks of glory as bubbles of water, which burst in the formation; that theatrical representations were the wonder of fools only. In a word, nothing escaped his satiric humor.

He ate, he spoke, he slept, without discrimination, wherever chance placed him. Pointing to Jupiter's porticos on one occasion, he exclaimed: "How excellent a dining-room the Athenians have built for me there!"

He frequently said: "When I consider the rulers, the physicians, and the philosophers whom the world contains, I am tempted to think man considerably elevated by his wisdom above the brutes; but when, on the other hand, I behold augurs, interpreters of dreams, and people who can be inflated with pride on account of their riches or honors, I cannot help thinking him the most foolish of all animals."

When taking a walk one day, he observed a child drinking from the hollow of his hand. He felt greatly affronted at the sight. "What!" exclaimed Diogenes, "do children know better than I do with what things a man ought to be contented?" Upon which he took his jug out of his bag, and instantly broke it, as a superfluous movable.

The province in philosophy to which Diogenes attached himself, was that of morals. He did not, however, entirely neglect the other sciences. He was possessed of lively parts, and easily anticipated objections.

Diogenes in his tub.

As he was one day discoursing on a very serious and important subject everyone passed by without giving himself the least concern about what Diogenes was saying. Upon this, he began to sing. The people crowded about him. He immediately seized the opportunity of giving them a severe reprimand (p. 045) for flocking about him and attending with eagerness to a mere trifle, while they would not so much as listen to things of the greatest importance.

Walking out once at noon, with a lighted torch in his hand, he was asked what he was in quest of. "I am searching for a man," said he. On another occasion he called out in the middle of a street: "Ho! menmen." A great many people assembling around him, Diogenes beat them away with his stick, saying "I was calling for men."

Alexander passing through Corinth on one occasion, had the curiosity to see Diogenes, who happened to be there at that time. He found him basking in the sun in the grove Craneum, where he was cementing his tub. "I am," said he to him, "the great king Alexander." "And I," replied the philosopher, "am the dog Diogenes." "Are you not afraid of me?" continued Alexander. "Are you good or bad?" returned Diogenes. "I am good," rejoined Alexander. "And who would be afraid of one who is good?" replied Diogenes.

Alexander admired the penetration and free manners of Diogenes. After some conversation, he said to him: "I see, Diogenes, that you are in want of many things; and I shall be happy to have an opportunity of assisting you: ask of me what you will." "Retire a little to one side then," replied Diogenes; "you are depriving me of the rays of the sun."

It is no wonder that Alexander stood astonished at seeing a man so completely above every human concern. "Which of the two is richest?" continued Diogenes: "he who is content with his cloak and his bag, or he for whom a whole kingdom is not sufficient, but who is daily exposing himself to a thousand dangers in order to extend its limits?" Alexander's courtiers felt indignant that so great a king should do so much honor to such a dog as Diogenes, who did not even rise from his place. Alexander perceived it, and turning about to them said: "Were I not Alexander, I should wish to be Diogenes."

As Diogenes was one day going to Egina, he was taken by pirates, who brought him to Crete, and exposed him to sale. He did not appear to be in the least disconcerted, nor to feel the least uneasiness on account of his misfortune. Seeing one Xeniades, corpulent and well-dressed, "I must be sold to that person," said he, "for I perceive he needs a master. Come, child," said he to Xeniades, as he was coming up to purchase him, "come, child, buy a man." Being asked what he could do, he said he had the talent of commanding men. "Crier," said he, "call out in the market, If anyone needs a master, let him come here and purchase one."

Xeniades charged him with the instruction of his children, a task which Diogenes performed with great fidelity. He made them commit to memory the finest passages of the poets, with an abridgment of his own philosophy, which he composed on purpose for them. He made them exercise themselves in running, wrestling, hunting, horsemanship, and in using the bow and the sling. He accustomed them to very plain fare, and in their ordinary meals to drink nothing but water. He ordered them to be shaven to the skin. He brought them with him into the streets very carelessly dressed, and frequently without sandals and (p. 046) tunics. These children had a great affection for Diogenes, and took particular care to recommend him to their parents.

When Diogenes was in slavery, some of his friends used their interest to procure him his liberty. "Fools!" said he, "you are jesting. Do you not know that the lion is not the slave of them who feed him? They who feed him are his slaves."

Diogenes one day heard a herald publish that Dioxippus had conquered men at the Olympic games. "Say slaves and wretches," said he to them. "It is I who have conquered men."

When it was said to him, "You are old, you must take your ease," he said, "What? must I slacken my pace at the end of my course? Would it not be fitter that I should redouble my efforts?"

When walking in the streets, he observed a man let fall some bread which he was ashamed to lift. In order to show him that a man ought never to blush when he is desirous to save anything, Diogenes collected the fragments of a broken bottle and carried them through the town. "I am like good musicians," said he, "who leave the true sound that others may catch it." To one who came to him to be his disciple, he gave a gammon of bacon to carry and desired him to follow him. Ashamed to carry it through the streets, the man threw it down and made off. Diogenes meeting him a few days after, said to him, "What? has a gammon of bacon broken our friendship?"

After reflecting on his life, Diogenes smiling said: "That all the imprecations generally uttered in tragedies had fallen upon him; that he had neither house, nor city, nor country; and that, in a state of indigence he lived from day to day; but that to fortune he opposed firmness; to custom, nature; and reason to the disorders of the soul."

Diogenes was greatly beloved and highly esteemed by the Athenians. They publicly scourged one who had broken his tub, and gave the philosopher another.

He was one day asked where he chose to be buried after his death? He replied: "In an open field." "How!" said one, "are you not afraid of becoming food for birds of prey and wild beasts?" "Then I must have my stick beside me," said Diogenes, "to drive them away when they come." "But," resumed the other, "you will be devoid of all sensation." "If that be the case," replied he, "it is no matter whether they eat me or not, seeing I shall not be sensible to it."

Some say that having arrived at the age of ninety, he ate a neat's-foot raw, which caused indigestion to such a degree that he burst. It is said by others that feeling himself burdened with age, he retained his breath, and was thus the cause of his own death. His friends coming next day, found him muffled up in his cloak. Upon first discovering him they doubted whether he were not asleep (which with him, was very unusual); they were soon convinced that he was dead. There was a great dispute among them about who should bury him; but when on the eve of breaking out into open violence, the magistrates and old men of Corinth opportunely arrived to appease the disturbance.

(p. 047) Diogenes was buried beside the gate lying toward the isthmus. There was erected, beside his tomb, a dog of Parian marble. The death of this philosopher happened in the first year of the 114th Olympiad, on the same day that Alexander died at Babylon.[Back to Contents]

By E. Benjamin Andrews, Pres't of Brown University.
(385-322 B.C.)


Demosthenes, the foremost orator of all history, was born in Athens about July in the year 385 B.C. His father, also named Demosthenes, a manufacturer of swords, was a gentleman widely and justly esteemed. His mother was Cleobule, the daughter of Gylon by a Scythian lady. The father died when the son was about seven years of age, leaving an estate of fourteen or fifteen talents, equal to some $200,000 now. The guardians partly embezzled, partly wasted the property, and the young orator's first law business, occupying several years, was the prosecution of these criminals to recover what he might. His success was but partial, yet his patrimony, with what he earned, always kept him in relative affluence, spite of his expensive tastes and great public and private munificence. As a boy he was weak, and did not avail himself of the physical training then usual among Greek youth of good families. He, however, employed the best teachers in his studies and his mental education was thorough. To Thucydides and the old rhetoricians he was ardently devoted, and these, with personal instruction by the orator Isæus, did most to form his style.

The early years of Demosthenes's manhood were spent in preparing speeches for sale, in instructing pupils in rhetoric, and in the severe and painstaking education of himself as a public speaker. His resolution in overcoming obstacles is much dwelt upon by ancient writers. He at first lisped and stammered and had a weak voice. To cure these faults he enunciated with pebbles in his mouth and declaimed while walking uphill and by the roaring breakers of the sea-shore. He shut himself in an underground study, which he constructed for the purpose, and practised going through long trains of thought there alone. "When he went (p. 048) out upon a visit or received one," says Plutarch, "he would take something that passed in conversation, some business or fact that was reported to him, for a subject to exercise himself upon. As soon as he had parted from his friends, he went to his study, where he repeated the matter in order as it passed, together with the arguments for and against it. The substance of the speeches which he heard he committed to memory, and afterward reduced them to regular sentences and periods, meditating a variety of corrections and new forms of expression, both for what others had said to him and he had addressed to them. Hence it was concluded that he was not a man of much genius, and that all his eloquence was the effect of labor. A strong proof of this seemed to be that he was seldom heard to speak anything extempore, and though the people often called upon him by name as he sat in the assembly, to speak to the point debated, he would not do it unless he came prepared." It is related that when in speaking he happened to be thrown into confusion by any occurrence in the assembly, the orator Demades, the foremost extempore speaker of the age, often arose and supported him in an extempore address, but that he never did this for Demades. Demosthenes was not, however, the slave of manuscript or memory. He declared that "he neither wrote the whole of his orations nor spoke without first committing part to writing." There was said to be greater spirit and boldness in his impromptu speeches than in those which he had elaborately prepared. People thought that sometimes when he spoke out thus on a sudden, his eloquence was inspired from above, as when once he uttered, in regular though unpremeditated verse, the forceful oath:

"By earth, by all her fountains, streams, and floods."

Demosthenes's first speeches were harsh and obscure. The sentences were too long, the metaphors violent and inapt. On the occasion of his first set address before a public assembly he even broke down. He was, however, indomitable in his determination and efforts to speak well, and persevered until at last the most critical heard him with delight. Notwithstanding certain defects which nice critics very early remarked, such as undue vehemence, argumentation and intensity too long sustained, and, in general, lack of variety and relief, Demosthenes's oratory is worthy the exalted regard which the best readers have in all ages accorded to it. His thought is always lucid and weighty, his argument fair and convincing, his diction manly and solid. He never uses a superfluous or a far-fetched word, never indulges in flowers, word-painting, or rhetorical trickery of any kind. He shows no trace of affectation, no effort to surprise or to be witty He depends for effect upon truth logically and earnestly presented. If such a style, everywhere perfectly kept up, was in any degree artificial, how matchless the art which concealed the art! So plain and straightforward are many of the speeches, that one is tempted to refer their wonderful power when spoken to some richness of elocution not appreciable now. Says Hume, treating of Demosthenes' manner, "Could it be copied, its success would be infallible over a modern assembly. It is rapid harmony exactly adjusted to the sense. It is vehement (p. 049) reasoning without any appearance of art; it is disdain, anger, boldness, freedom, involved in a continued stream of argument; and, of all human productions, the orations of Demosthenes present to us the models which approach nearest to perfection." ("Essay of Eloquence." Comp. Lord Brougham's Works, vii., 59 foll.)

Demosthenes practising oratory.

Demosthenes was between twenty-five and thirty when Philip of Macedon began his astonishing career of conquest. It was soon clear that he was to be the rival of Athens for the headship of Greece. Demosthenes became the champion of the Athenian cause, and henceforth, so long as he lived, used all his powers against Macedonian aggressions. Most of his best speeches relate to this issue. His eloquence, argument, and personal influence won nearly all the Grecian states to a coalition that, for a time, successfully forbade Philip to set foot in Greece proper. Only Thebes and Sparta stood out, and when Philip, daring them all, ventured south and conquered Phocis, even the Thebans yielded to Demosthenes's pleas and joined the league. In vain, however. At the decisive battle of Chæronea, B.C. 338, Philip was entirely victorious. The allies fled, Demosthenes himself among them, leaving Philip to become at his leisure the master of every city so far south at least as the northern confines of Sparta. He might have realized his wish at once but for his excesses. He drank himself drunk, dancing over his slain foes, and beating time in maudlin song to the caption of the Athenian decree which Demosthenes had procured against him. But it is said that when sober again he trembled to remember "the prodigious power of that orator who had obliged him to put both empire and life on the cast of a day." Two years after the battle of Chæronea Philip is stricken down by the assassin Pausanias. Alexander mounts the throne, a youth of twenty. Greece flies to arms against him, not dreaming that a greater than Philip is here. Marching quickly against the Thracians and the Illyrians, who at once succumb, he volts to smite rebellious Thebes and Athens, whom Demosthenes's incessant appeals have again induced to take the field. In spite of him, the Athenians now basely desert the Thebans, leaving them to stand the entire fury of the war alone. Greece is thus soon quieted again, and the boy warrior, leaving Antipater behind with a sufficient home guard, crosses to Asia never to return. Once, later, when Harpalus, Alexander's renegade treasurer, came to Athens with his bags of Asiatic gold, and again after Alexander's death, it for a moment seemed possible to throw off Macedonia's yoke. Each time the orator led in an attempt to do this, but failed. Fined fifty talents for taking some of Harpalus' gold, he fled from Athens, living for a time in Trœzen and Ægina. The new hope for the former Greek régime evoked by Alexander's death was brief. Athens recalled Demosthenes and he made a successful tour of the cities to rally them against Antipater. Antipater, however, was too strong, and his victory at Cranon, B.C. 322, fully restored Macedonia's supremacy. Pursued to Calaurea by Antipater's emissaries, Demosthenes fled for refuge to the temple of Neptune there, took poison, which he had long carried with him for that purpose, and died, aged sixty-two.

It is clear that both the Macedonian conquerors deemed Demosthenes their (p. 050) most powerful foe. Drunk or sober, Philip thought constantly of him as the great force to be reckoned with. When he with nine other deputies visited Philip's court, it was Demosthenes's speech to which Philip felt called to give special reply, treating him with argument, while bestowing his choicest hospitality upon the others. Æschines and Philocrates accordingly came home full of praise for Philip. He was eloquent, they said, handsome, and could drink more liquor than any other man. Demosthenes, showing for the nonce some wit, ridiculed these traits, the first as that of a sophist, the second as that of a woman, the third as that of a sponge. "The fame of Demosthenes reached the Persian court; and the king wrote letters to his lieutenants commanding them to supply him with money and to attend to him more than to any other man in Greece; because he best knew how to make a diversion in his favor by raising fresh troubles and finding employment for the Macedonian arms nearer home. This Alexander afterward discovered by letters of Demosthenes which he found at Sardis, and the papers of the Persian government expressing the sums which had been given him." (Plutarch.)

The moral character of Demosthenes was fiercely assailed during his life, the chief charges being vacillation, unchastity, cowardice, and the receipt of bribes. In weighing these accusations we must remember that they were inspired by personal hatred, and that public life in Demosthenes's day was characterized by almost inconceivable strife and bitterness. There was probably considerable ground for all the allegations, except, perhaps, that of infirmity in purpose. Plutarch believes that the orator was "vindictive in his nature and implacable in his resentments." But the same author wonders how Theopompus could say that he was a man of no steadiness, since it appeared that "he abode by the party and the measures which he first adopted, and was so far from quitting them during his life that he forfeited his life rather than forsake them." "He was never a time-server either in his words or in his actions. The key of politics which he first touched he kept to without variation." But he certainly lacked physical courage. At Chæronea, a battle which he himself had brought on, he fled ignominiously, throwing away his arms. His cowardice was recognized in the inscription upon the pedestal of the bronze statue which the Athenians erected to him.

"Divine in speech, in judgment, too, divine,
Had valor's wreath, Demosthenes, been thine,
Fair Greece had still her freedom's ensign borne,
And held the scourge of Macedon in scorn."

It is equally certain that he loved gold too well, and sometimes took it when it should have burnt his hands.

For all this, Demosthenes's character was rather a noble one for that age. Among the distinguished Athenians of the day, only Phocion's outshone it. Nearly all that Demosthenes's foes cite to his discredit seems weak considering the known vices of the period, while much of it, as when they taunt him with always drinking water instead of wine, implies on his part a creditable strength of (p. 051) will, which is further attested by his self-discipline in mastering his chosen art. What, after all, speaks the most strongly for the orator's character is the serious moral tone of his orations. This cannot have been simulated, and hence cannot have proceeded from a man with a vicious nature.

The esteem in which Demosthenes was held at Athens is seen in what occurred soon after the battle of Chæronea, an event which led to Demosthenes' greatest oratorical effort. One Ctesiphon had proposed that the people reward Demosthenes' public services by the gift of a golden crown, and the senate had passed a bill to this effect, for submission to the vote of the assembly. Æschines denied that the orator's conduct gave him any right to be thus honored, and prosecuted Ctesiphon for bringing forward an unconstitutional measure. After years of delay, the trial came on in B.C. 330, Æschines delivering his famous address against Ctesiphon, really an adverse critical review of Demosthenes's public and private life to that time, to which Demosthenes replied by his immortal Oration on the Crown. Demosthenes gained a surprising victory. Although the judges were nearly all of the Macedonian party, Æschines did not secure for his cause a fifth part of their votes, a fact which, according to Athenian law, subjected him to a fine of a thousand drachmas for provoking the litigation. He at once left Athens and never returned.

The most recent judgment of Demosthenes as a statesman differs much from that in which nearly all the standard English and American authorities since Grote agree. Till lately it has been common to think of Athens as a real democracy, favorable to freedom, the bulwark of liberty then for Greece and the world. Philip has been deemed a mere barbarian, whose victory was certain to be, and was, the death of Grecian liberty. This being so, Demosthenes, in opposing Philip and his son Alexander, was not only a sincere patriot but a wise one. This is the view of Greek politics then which one gets from Demosthenes himself. Readers of his masterly orations insensibly adopt it, without due reflection upon the evidence now available to substantiate a different one. Demosthenes is understood to argue for a constitutional form of government, which, to all lovers of such, is an additional reason for siding with him. Grote's history urges the same view in a most enthusiastic and unhesitating way, and has had enormous influence in disseminating it. Thucydides, the original Greek historian most read in our time, makes the fate of everything good in Greece turn upon that of Athens. This great author so trains us in his manner of thought as to disqualify us from coolly considering the question whether the fortunes of Greece might not have risen or fallen in some other way.

The present writer believes the above theory to be almost entirely an error. Doubtless Demosthenes was honest, but he was mistaken in his views of what was best for Greece and even for Athens. Philip and Alexander, however selfish, were neither in purpose nor in fact so hostile to Greek freedom as the mighty orator makes out. Inordinate ambition possessed both. In this they are to be ranked with Napoleon and Julius Cæsar rather than with Washington. They, however, clearly saw the vanity of the old Greek régime, the total uselessness (p. 052) of trying to unify Greece or to make her independent of Persia through any of the devices paraded by the politicians. Therefore, with patriotism and philanthropy enough to give their cause a certain moral glow in their minds, they set out by force of arms—the only possible way to succeed—first, to unify Greece, and next, to make her eternally independent of Persia. Since Gustav Droysen, in his "Alexander the Great," led off with this theory, the best writers upon Greek history have gradually adopted it, deserting Grote more and more. Droysen went too far. With him Alexander was the veritable demigod whom he sottishly decreed that his subjects should see in him. Droysen, of course, has too little respect for Demosthenes's policy. Victor Duruy is the only late writer of note who still blows the trumpet for our old orator as a statesman. He says that "the result of the Macedonian dominion was the death of European Greece," and he calls it the immortal glory of Demosthenes to have perceived this; yet even he admits that "the civilization of the world gained" by the Macedonian conquest, and hence, after all, places himself, "from the point of view of the world's history, on the side of Philip and his son." The tendency of writers upon this period is thus to exalt the man with a great national policy in his head though with a sword in his hand, at the expense of him who, never so honestly, dinned the populace with his high-sounding pleas for an obstructive course.

We are learning that republicanism or democracy, whichever one pleases to call it, was in ancient times a very different thing from aught that now exists under either name. The various republics of Greece and the republic of Rome were nothing but oligarchies, often atrociously tyrannical. Even at their best estate the rights of individuals in them, of their citizens even, were far less perfectly guarded than in some pretty absolute monarchies of later times.

"The Athenian imperial democracy was no popular government. In the first place there was no such thing as representation in their constitution. Those only had votes who could come and give them at the general assembly, and they did so at once upon the conclusion of the debate. There was no Second Chamber or Higher Council to revise or delay their decisions, no crown; no High Court of Appeal to settle claims against the state. The body of Athenian citizens formed the assembly. Sections of this body formed the jury to try cases of violation of the constitution either in act or in the proposal of new laws.

"The result was that all outlying provinces, even had they obtained votes, were without a voice in the government. But as a matter of fact they had no votes, for the states which became subject to Athens were merely tributary; and nothing was further from the ideas of the Athenians than to make them members of their Imperial Republic, in the sense that a new State is made a member of the American Republic.

"This it was which ruined even the great Roman republic, without any military reverses, and when its domination of the world was unshaken. Owing to the absence of representation, the empire of the Roman republic was in the hands of the city population, who were perfectly incompetent, even had they been in real earnest, to manage the government of the vast kingdoms their troops had (p. 053) conquered. In both cases the outsiders were governed wholly for the benefit of the city crowd.

"The mistakes and the injustices which resulted in the Roman executive were such that any able adventurer could take advantage of the world-wide discontent, and could play off one city faction against the other. It is not conceivable that any other general course of events would have taken place at Athens, had she become the ruler of the Hellenic world. Her demos regarded itself as a sovran, ruling subjects for its own glory and benefit; there can therefore be no doubt that the external pressure of that wide discontent, which was the primary cause of the Peloponnesian war, would have co-operated with politicians within, if there were no enemies without, and that ambitious military chiefs, as at Rome, would have wrested the power from the sovran people either by force or by fraud." (Mahaffy, "Problems in Greek History," 98 foll.)

In other words, however distressing the ills which might happen to Athens through Philip's success, they could not be worse than those which were sure to beset her in any event; while for Greece as a whole, Philip's victory would mean unity and peace such as could have been secured in no other way.

This splendid possibility, which must have impressed the minds of Phocion and Philip, is obscured to our thought by the untimely death of both the great Macedonian generals, before their plans had any time to bear fruit. Desperate chaos follows Alexander's death of course; and when, little by little, order is evolved, it is a new order, not the old one. Never again does Athens sit there as a queen looking out upon her Ægean, but her day of political glory is ended forever.

It is natural to trace all this wild disorder, involving the decline of Athens, the wars of Alexander's successors, small and great, and also the Roman conquest at last, to Philip's victory at Chæronea. As we read the tangled and bloody record, we say to ourselves: Oh, how much better all would have been had the Athenians roused at the cry of Demosthenes, and beaten Philip instead of being beaten! We assume that had this happened Greece would have kept on its old splendid way, able to have conquered Rome herself when Rome came. Philip ruined Greece; the advice of Demosthenes, had it been followed, would have saved her.

Superficially considered, all this seems clever reasoning; but it is in fact a stupendous fallacy. Post hoc ergo propter hoc. Philip conquered and subsequently things went ill with Greece. A man looked at Mars and subsequently had the cholera.

Let us no longer argue so childishly. The evils that befell Hellas were not at all those which Demosthenes prophesied. They are no proof of his foresight. From the point of view of his wishes they were entirely accidental. To see this we need only inquire what would in all probability have come to pass had Alexander lived. One may heavily discount Droysen's adoration of the young conqueror, and yet, from what he achieved while alive and the way in which he achieved it, believe that immeasurable blessings to Greece and to humanity would (p. 054) have resulted from a lengthening of his days. I cannot think it rash to affirm that ten or twenty years added to Alexander's career would probably have changed subsequent history in at least three colossal particulars:

1. Probably Greece would have been more happily, perfectly, and permanently cemented together than was the case, or could in any other way have been the case.

2. Probably Greece would not only have been at last forever free from Asia but would also have become Asia's lord, and this in a manner truly beneficial to both lands.

3. Probably Greece would have ruled Rome instead of being ruled by Rome, and this, too, in such wise as to have benefited both, and the world as well.[Back to Contents]

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From the French of Fénelon
(384-322 B.C.)

Two men sitting face to face.

Of all the philosophers of antiquity, Aristotle was one of the most celebrated; and in every seat of learning, his name, even at this day, is held in esteem.

He was son of Nicomachus, a physician, and friend of Amyntas, king of Macedonia, and was descended from Machaon, son of Æsculapius. He was born at Stagira, a city of Macedonia, in the first year of the 99th Olympiad. He lost his father and mother in his infancy, and was very much neglected by those who had the charge of his education.

In his early years he dissipated almost all his patrimony in libertinism and debauchery. At first he became a soldier; but the profession of arms not suiting his turn of mind, he went to Delphi to consult the Oracle, and fix his determination. By the response of the Oracle, he was directed to go to Athens and (p. 055) pursue the study of philosophy. He was then in his eighteenth year. For twenty years he studied in the academy under Plato, and as he had spent all his inheritance, he was induced, in order to procure a subsistence, to vend medicines at Athens.

Aristotle ate little and slept less. So strong was his passion for study, that in order to resist the oppression of sleep, he kept at his bedside a brazen basin, over which when in bed, he stretched one of his hands in which he held an iron ball, that if he should fall asleep, the noise of the ball dropping into the basin might awake him instantly.

According to Laërtius his voice was shrill and squeaking, his eyes small, his legs slender, and he dressed magnificently.

Aristotle was a man of acute parts, and one who easily comprehended the most difficult questions. He soon became master of the doctrines of Plato, and distinguished himself among the other academicians. No question was decided in the academy without the opinion of Aristotle, though it was often subversive of that of Plato. By all his fellow-students he was considered as a prodigy of genius, and his opinions were often followed, in opposition to those of his master. Aristotle left the academy. This excited the resentment of Plato. He could not refrain from treating him as a rebel, comparing him to the chick which pecks its dam.

The Athenians appointed him ambassador to Philip, king of Macedonia, father of Alexander the Great. Aristotle, having spent some time in Macedonia in settling the affairs of the Athenians, found, upon his return, that Xenocrates had been chosen master of the academy. Seeing that place thus filled he said, "It would be a shame for me to be silent, when Xenocrates speaks." He accordingly established a new sect, and taught doctrines different from those of his master Plato.

The celebrity of Aristotle, who now surpassed all his contemporaries in every kind of science, especially in the departments of philosophy and politics, induced Philip, king of Macedonia, to offer him the care of the education of his son Alexander, then fourteen years of age. Aristotle accepted. He continued Alexander's preceptor for eight years; and according to the testimony of Plutarch, taught him some secret doctrines which he communicated to none other.

The study of philosophy did not render the manners of Aristotle austere. He applied to business, and took an interest in everything that passed at the court of Macedonia. From respect to this philosopher, Philip rebuilt Stagira, his native city, which had been destroyed during the wars, and restored to their possessions all the inhabitants, of whom some had fled and others had been reduced to slavery.

When Alexander's education was finished, Aristotle returned to Athens, where he was well received on account of the mildness with which, for his sake, that city had been treated by Philip. He fixed upon a place in the Lyceum highly beautified with avenues of trees, where he established his school. He used to walk about when teaching and from this circumstance his sect was called (p. 056) Peripatetic. The Lyceum was soon thronged by a concourse of students whom Aristotle's reputation had drawn together from every quarter of Greece.

Alexander recommended to him to attend particularly to experiments in physical science. To facilitate his observations he sent him, besides 800 talents to defray expenses, a great number of huntsmen and fishermen to supply him from every quarter with subjects for experiment.

At that time Aristotle published his books of physics and metaphysics. Of this, Alexander who was now in Asia, got information. That ambitious prince, desirous of being in everything the first man in the world, was dissatisfied that the learning of his master should become common.

He showed his resentment by the following letter: "You have not done well in publishing your books on speculative science. If what you taught me be taught to men of all ranks, I shall then have nothing but in common with others. But I would have you consider that I had rather be superior to other men in abstract and secret knowledge, than to surpass them in power."

To appease this prince Aristotle sent him for answer, that he had published his books, but in such a way that in fact they were not published. By this he apparently meant, that his doctrines were laid down in a manner so embarrassed that it was impossible for any one ever to understand them.

Aristotle carefully investigated that question, the great object of moral philosophy, how men might be rendered happy in the present world. In the first place, he refutes the opinion of the voluptuous, who make happiness to consist in corporal pleasures. "Not only," said he, "are these pleasures fleeting, they are also succeeded by disgust; and while they enfeeble the body they debase the mind."

He next rejects the opinion of the ambitious, who place happiness in honors, and, with this object in view, pay no regard to the maxims of equity or the restraints of law. "Honor," he said, "exists in him who honors." "The ambitious," he adds, "desire to be honored in consequence of some virtue of which they wish themselves supposed to be possessed; that consequently, happiness consists in virtue, rather than in honors, especially as these are external and do not depend upon ourselves."

In the last place, he refutes the system of the avaricious, who constitute riches the supreme good. "Riches," he said, "are not desirable on their own account; they render him who possesses them unhappy, because he is afraid to use them. In order to render them really useful it is necessary to use and to distribute them, and not to place happiness in what is in itself detestable and not worth the having."

The opinion of Aristotle is, that happiness consists in the most perfect exercise of the understanding and the practice of the virtues. The most noble exercise of the understanding, he considered to be speculation concerning natural objects; the heavens, the stars, nature, and chiefly the First Being. He observed, however, that without a competency of the good things of fortune suited to a man's situation in life, it was impossible to be perfectly happy, because (p. 057) without this we could neither have time to pursue speculation, nor opportunity to practise the virtues. Thus, for example, one could not please his friends; and to do good to those whom we love is always one of the highest enjoyments of life.

"Happiness depends therefore," he said, "on three things: the goods of mind, as wisdom and prudence; the goods of the body, as beauty, health, strength; and the goods of fortune, as riches and nobility." Virtue he maintained, is not sufficient to render men happy; the goods of the body and of fortune are absolutely necessary; and a wise man would be unhappy were he to want riches or if his share of them were insufficient.

He affirmed, on the other hand: "Vice is sufficient to render men unhappy. Though in the greatest affluence and enjoying every other advantage, it is impossible for a man ever to be happy while the slave of vice. The wise man is not wholly exempted from the ills of life, but his share of them is small." "The virtues and vices," he said, "are not incompatible, for the same man, though intemperate, may be just and prudent."

He mentions three kinds of friendship; one of relationship, another of inclination, and a third of hospitality.

Elegant literature, he thinks, contributes greatly to produce a love of virtue; and the cultivation of letters he affirms to be the greatest consolation of age.

Like Plato, he admitted the existence of a Supreme Being, to whom he attributed providence.

In his politics, he maintains that the monarchical form of government is the most perfect, because in other forms there are more rulers than one. An army under the conduct of one able commander, succeeds better than one conducted by several leaders; and while deputies, or chief men, are employed in assembling and deliberating, a monarch has already finished an expedition and executed his designs. The rulers of a republic do not care though they should ruin the state, provided they enrich themselves. Jealousies are engendered, divisions arise, and the republic is in danger of being finally destroyed and overthrown. In a monarchy, on the other hand, the interests of the prince are those of the state; and the state of course must flourish.

Aristotle was one day asked, "What does a man gain by telling a lie?" "Not to be believed," said he, "even when he tells the truth."

Having been blamed for giving alms to a bad man, he said: "It is not because he is bad, but because he is a man, that I have compassion for him."

To his friends and scholars he used to say, that knowledge is to the soul what light is to the eyes; and that mellowness of the fruit makes up for the bitterness of the root. When irritated against the Athenians, he reproached them with neglecting their laws, and using their corn; though possessed of the former, as well as the latter.

He was one day asked, "What it is that is soonest effaced?" "Gratitude," replied he. "What is hope?" "A waking man's dream."

Diogenes presented Aristotle with a fig. Aristotle very well knew that were (p. 058) he to refuse it, Diogenes would level his wit against him. He took the fig, therefore, and with a smile said, "Diogenes has at once lost his fig and the use he intended to make of it."

He said there were three things very necessary to children: Genius, exercise, and instruction. When asked the difference between the learned and the ignorant, he replied: "The same as between the living and the dead." "Knowledge," he said, "is an ornament in prosperity, and in adversity a refuge. Those who give children a good education, are much more their fathers than those who have begotten them; the latter communicate mere life to them; the former put it in their power to spend it comfortably." "Beauty," said he, "is a recommendation infinitely stronger than any kind of learning."

He was one day asked, What pupils should do to turn their instructions to the greatest advantage? "They must," said he, "always keep in view those before them, and never look back to those behind them."

A certain person was one day boasting of being the citizen of an illustrious state. "Do not value yourself upon that," said Aristotle; "rather ask yourself whether you deserve to be so?"

Reflecting on human life, he sometimes said: "There are some who amass riches with as much avidity as if they were to live forever; others are as careless about their possessions as if they were to die to-morrow."

When asked, what is a friend? he replied, "One soul animating two bodies." "How," said one to him, "ought we to act to our friends?" "As we would have them to act toward us," replied Aristotle. He used frequently to exclaim, "Ah! my friends, there is not a friend in the world!"

He was one day asked, "How it comes that we prefer beautiful women to those who are ugly?" "You now ask a blind man's question," returned Aristotle.

He was asked what advantage he had derived from philosophy? "To do voluntarily," replied he, "what others do through fear of the laws."

It is said that during his stay at Athens he was intimate with an able Jew, by whom he was accurately instructed in the science and religion of the Egyptians, for the acquisition of which everyone at that time used to go to Egypt itself.

Having taught in the Lyceum for thirteen years with great reputation, Aristotle was accused of impiety by Eurimedon, priest of Ceres. He was so overwhelmed with the recollection of what Socrates had suffered that he hastily left Athens and retired to Chalcis in Eubœa. It is said by some that he there died of vexation because he could not discover the cause of the flux and reflux of the Euripus. By others it is added that he threw himself into that sea, and when falling said, "Let the Euripus receive me since I cannot comprehend it." And lastly, it is affirmed by others that he died of a colic in the sixty-third year of his age, two years after the death of his pupil, Alexander the Great.

By the Stagirites, altars were erected to him as a god.

Aristotle made a will, of which Antipater was appointed the executor. He left a son called Nicomachus, and a daughter who was married to a grandson of Demaratus, king of Lacedæmonia.[Back to Contents]

By John Timbs, F.S.A.
(287-212 B.C.)

A boat.

It is scarcely possible to view the vast steamships of our day without reflecting that to a great master of mechanics, upward of two thousand years since, we in part owe the invention of the machine by which these mighty vessels are propelled upon the wide world of waters. This power is an application of "the Screw of Archimedes," the most celebrated of the Greek geometricians. He was born in Sicily, in the Corinthian colony of Syracuse, in the year 287 B.C., and when a very young man, was fortunate enough to enjoy the patronage of his relative Hiero, the reigning prince of Syracuse.

The ancients attribute to Archimedes more than forty mechanical inventions—among which are the endless screw; the combination of pulleys; an hydraulic organ, according to Tertullian; a machine called the helix, or screw, for launching ships; and a machine called loculus, which appears to have consisted of forty pieces, by the putting together of which various objects could be framed, and which were used by boys as a sort of artificial memory.

Archimedes is said to have obtained the friendship and confidence of Hiero by the following incident. The king had delivered a certain weight of gold to a workman, to be made into a crown. When the crown was made and sent to the king, a suspicion arose in the royal mind that the gold had been adulterated by the alloy of a baser metal, and he applied to Archimedes for his assistance in detecting the imposture; the difficulty was to measure the bulk of the crown without melting it into a regular figure; for silver being, weight for weight, of greater bulk than gold, any alloy of the former in place of an equal weight of the latter would necessarily increase the bulk of the crown; and at that time there was no known means of testing the purity of metal. Archimedes, after many unsuccessful attempts, was about to abandon the subject altogether, when the following circumstance suggested to his discerning and prepared mind a train of thought which led to the solution of the difficulty. Stepping into his bath one day, as was his custom, his mind doubtless fixed on the object of his research, he chanced to observe that, the bath being full, a quantity of water of the same bulk as his body must flow over before he could immerse himself. He probably perceived that any other body of the same bulk would have raised the water equally; but that another body of the same weight, but less bulky, would not have produced so great an effect. In the words of Vitruvius, "as soon as he had hit (p. 060) upon this method of detection, he did not wait a moment, but jumped joyfully out of the bath, and running forthwith toward his own house, called out with a loud voice that he had found what he sought. For as he ran he called out, in Greek, 'Eureka! Eureka!—I have found it! I have found it!'" When his emotion had sobered down, he proceeded to investigate the subject calmly. He procured two masses of metal, each of equal weight with the crown—one of gold and the other of silver—and having filled a vessel very accurately with water, he plunged into it the silver, and marked the exact quantity of water that overflowed. He then treated the gold in the same manner, and observed that a less quantity of water overflowed than before. He next plunged the crown into the same vessel full of water, and observed that it displaced more of the fluid than the gold had done, and less than the silver; by which he inferred that the crown was neither pure gold nor pure silver, but a mixture of both. Hiero was so gratified with this result as to declare that from that moment he could never refuse to believe anything Archimedes told him.

Travelling in Egypt, and observing the necessity of raising the water of the Nile to points which the river did not reach, as well as the difficulty of clearing the land from the periodical overflowings of the Nile, Archimedes invented for this purpose the screw which bears his name. It was likewise used as a pump to clear water from the holds of vessels; and the name of Archimedes was held in great veneration by seamen on this account. The screw may be briefly described as a long spiral with its lower extremity immersed in the water, which, rising along the channels by the revolution of the machine on its axis, is discharged at the upper extremity. When applied to the propulsion of steam-vessels the screw is horizontal; and being put in motion by a steam-engine, drives the water backward, when its reaction, or return, propels the vessel.

The mechanical ingenuity of Archimedes was next displayed in the various machines which he constructed for the defence of Syracuse during a three years' siege by the Romans. Among these inventions were catapults for throwing arrows, and ballistæ for throwing masses of stone; and iron hands or hooks attached to chains, thrown to catch the prows of the enemy's vessels, and then overturn them. He is likewise stated to have set their vessels on fire by burning-glasses; this, however, rests upon modern authority, and Archimedes is rather believed to have set the ships on fire by machines for throwing lighted materials.

Death of Archimedes.

After the storming of Syracuse, Archimedes was killed by a Roman soldier, who did not know who he was. The soldier inquired, but the philosopher, being intent upon a problem, begged that his diagram might not be disturbed; upon which the soldier put him to death. At his own request, expressed during his life, a sphere inscribed in a cylinder was sculptured on his tomb, in memory of his discovery that the solid contents of a sphere is exactly two-thirds of that of the circumscribing cylinder; and by this means the memorial was afterward identified. One hundred and fifty years after the death of Archimedes, when Cicero was residing in Sicily, he paid homage to his forgotten tomb. "During my quæstorship," says this illustrious Roman, "I diligently sought to discover the (p. 061) sepulchre of Archimedes, which the Syracusans had totally neglected, and suffered to be grown over with thorns and briars. Recollecting some verses, said to be inscribed on the tomb, which mentioned that on the top was placed a sphere with a cylinder, I looked round me upon every object at the Agragentine Gate, the common receptacle of the dead. At last I observed a little column which just rose above the thorns, upon which was placed the figure of a sphere and cylinder. This, said I to the Syracusan nobles who were with me, this must, I think, be what I am seeking. Several persons were immediately employed to clear away the weeds and lay open the spot. As soon as a passage was opened, we drew near, and found on the opposite base the inscription, with nearly half the latter part of the verses worn away. Thus would this most famous, and formerly most learned, city of Greece have remained a stranger to the tomb of one of its most ingenious citizens, had it not been discovered by a man of Arpinum."

To Archimedes is attributed the apophthegm: "Give me a lever long enough, and a prop strong enough, and with my own weight I will move the world." This arose from his knowledge of the possible effects of machinery; but however it might astonish a Greek of his day, it would now be admitted to be as theoretically possible as it is practically impossible. Archimedes would have required to move with the velocity of a cannon-ball for millions of ages to alter the position of the earth by the smallest part of an inch. In mathematical truth, however, the feat is performed by every man who leaps from the ground; for he kicks the world away when he rises, and attracts it again when he falls back.

Under the superintendence of Archimedes was also built the renowned galley for Hiero. It was constructed to half its height, by three hundred master workmen and their servants, in six months. Hiero then directed that the vessel should be perfected afloat; but how to get the vast pile into the water the builders knew not, till Archimedes invented his engine called the helix, by which, with the assistance of very few hands he drew the ship into the sea, where it was completed in six months. The ship consumed wood enough to build sixty large galleys; it had twenty tiers of bars and three decks; the middle deck had on each side fifteen dining apartments besides other chambers, luxuriously furnished, and floors paved with mosaics of the story of the "Iliad." On the upper deck were gardens with arbors of ivy and vines; and here was a temple of Venus, paved with agates, and roofed with Cyprus-wood; it was richly adorned with pictures and statues, and furnished with couches and drinking-vessels. Adjoining was an apartment of box-wood, with a clock in the ceiling, in imitation of the great dial of Syracuse; and here was a huge bath set with gems called Tauromenites. There were also on each side of this deck, cabins for the marine soldiers, and twenty stables for horses; in the forecastle was a fresh-water cistern which held 253 hogsheads; and near it was a large tank of sea-water, in which fish were kept. From the ship's sides projected ovens, kitchens, mills, and other offices, built upon beams, each supported by a carved image nine feet high. Around the deck were eight wooden towers, from each of which was raised a breastwork full of loopholes, whence an enemy might be annoyed with stones (p. 062) each tower being guarded by four armed soldiers and two archers. On this upper deck was also placed the machine invented by Archimedes to fling stones of 300 pounds weight and darts eighteen feet long, to the distance of 120 paces; while each of the three masts had two engines for throwing stones. The ship was furnished with four anchors of wood and eight of iron; and "the water-screw" of Archimedes, already mentioned, was used instead of a pump for the vast ship; "by the help of which one man might easily and speedily drain out the water, though it were very deep." The whole ship's company consisted of an immense multitude, there being in the forecastle alone 600 seamen. There were placed on board her 60,000 bushels of corn, 10,000 barrels of salt fish, and 20,000 barrels of flesh, besides the provisions for her company. She was first called the Syracuse, but afterward the Alexandria. The builder was Archias, the Corinthian shipwright. The vessel appears to have been armed for war and sumptuously fitted for a pleasure-yacht, yet was ultimately used to carry corn. The timber for the main mast, after being in vain sought for in Italy, was brought from England. The dimensions are not recorded, but they must have exceeded those of any ship of the present day; indeed, Hiero, finding that none of the surrounding harbors sufficed to receive his vast ship, loaded it with corn and presented the vessel with its cargo to Ptolemy, King of Egypt, and on arriving at Alexandria it was hauled ashore, and nothing more is recorded respecting it. A most elaborate description of this vast ship has been preserved to us by Athenæus, and translated into English by Burchett, in his "Naval Transactions."

Archimedes has been styled the Homer of geometry; yet it must not be concealed that he fell into the prevailing error of the ancient philosophers—that geometry was degraded by being employed to produce anything useful. "It was with difficulty," says Lord Macaulay, "that he was induced to stoop from speculation to practice. He was half ashamed of those inventions which were the wonder of hostile nations, and always spoke of them slightingly, as mere amusements, as trifles in which a mathematician might be suffered to relax his mind after intense application to the higher parts of his science."[Back to Contents]

By Rev. W. J. Brodribb
(106-43 B.C.)


Marcus Tullius Cicero, the foremost orator of ancient Rome, one of her leading statesmen, and the most brilliant and accomplished of her men of letters, lived in those stirring later days of the Roman republic, that age of revolution and civil wars, in which an old and decaying order of things was passing away. It was the age of great and daring spirits, of Catiline, Cæsar, Pompey, Antony, with whose history Cicero's life is so closely intertwined.

Born 106 B.C., at an old Italian town, Arpinum in Latium, of a good family, and inheriting from his father, who was a man of considerable culture, a moderate estate, he went as a boy to Rome, and there, under the best teachers and professors, he learned law and oratory, Greek philosophy, and Greek literature, acquiring in fact the universal knowledge which he himself says in his essay "On the Orator" (De Oratore), an orator ought to possess. An orator in the ancient world, we should bear in mind, was first and chiefly a pleader of causes, causes both legal and political—speaker alike, as we should say, at the bar and in parliament. Hence the necessity for knowledge and information of every kind. Cicero's first important speech, in his twenty-sixth year, was the successful defence in a criminal trial of a client against one of the favorites of the all-powerful Sulla, then dictator. After a visit to Athens, and a tour in Asia Minor, where he profited by the society of eminent professors of rhetoric and men of letters, he returned to Rome, and at thirty years of age he was in the highest repute at the Roman bar.

In 76 B.C., having been elected quæstor (a financial secretary, as we may say) by a unanimous popular vote, he held an appointment in Sicily, where he won the good opinion of two highly important interests, apt at times to conflict, the traders and the revenue collectors. To this he owed the glory of his successful impeachment of the infamous Verres, in 70 B.C., which he undertook at the request of the Sicilian provincials. The bad man who had so hideously misgoverned them, felt himself crushed by Cicero's opening speech, and went into voluntary exile. Cicero was now a power in the state, and his rise up the official ladder was sure and rapid; in 66 B.C. he was prætor, and supported in a great political speech (Pro Lege Manilia) the appointment of Pompey to the conduct of the (p. 064) war with Mithridates, which in fact carried with it the supreme control of Asia and of the East. In 63 B.C., at the age of forty-four, he was consul, the highest dignity attainable to a Roman; in that memorable year he foiled by a bold promptitude, the revolutionary plot of Catiline, in which many distinguished Romans—Cæsar it was even said among them—were implicated. He was now at the height of his fame; "father of his country" he was actually called, for a brief space he was with all classes the great man of the day. But the tide soon turned; Cicero might have saved the country, but in saving it, it was said he had violated the constitution, according to which a Roman citizen could not be capitally punished but by the sentence of the people in regular assembly. As it was, Roman citizens guilty of complicity with Catiline had, at Cicero's instigation, been put to death simply by an order of the senate; this, it was said, was a dangerous precedent and Cicero must be held responsible for it. His bitter enemy, Clodius, now tribune, pressed the charge against him in inflammatory speeches specially addressed to the lowest class of citizens, and Cicero in despair left Rome in 58 B.C., and took refuge at Thessalonica. That same year saw the "father of his country" condemned to exile by a vote of the Roman people, and his house at Rome and his country houses at Formiæ and Tusculum plundered and ruined.

But in those revolutionary days the events of one year were reversed by those of the next; in 57 B.C., with new counsels and new tribunes, the people almost unanimously voted the recall of the exile, and Cicero was welcomed back to Rome amid an outburst of popular enthusiasm. But he was no longer a power in the world of politics; he could not see his way clearly; and he was so nervously sensitive to the fluctuations of public opinion that he could not decide between Pompey and the aristocracy on the one hand, and Cæsar and the new democracy on the other. His leanings had hitherto been toward Pompey and the senate and the old republic; but as time went on, he felt that Pompey was a half-hearted man, who could not be trusted, and that he would have ultimately to succumb to his far abler and more far-sighted rival, Cæsar. The result was that he lost the esteem of both parties, and came to be regarded as a mere trimmer and time-server. There was all that political indecision about him which may be often observed in eminent lawyers and men of letters. The age wanted strong men such as Cæsar; this Cicero certainly was not. He was gentle, amiable, very clever, and highly cultivated, but the last man in the world to succeed in politics. The later years of his life were spent chiefly in pleading at the bar and writing essays. In 52 B.C. he composed one of his finest speeches in defence of Milo, who had killed Clodius in a riot, and was then standing for the consulship; in this he was acting quite against the wishes of Pompey. In the following years (51-50 B.C.) he was in Asia, as governor of the province of Cilicia, and here the best side of his character showed itself in his just and sympathetic treatment of the provincials. In 49-48 B.C. he was with Pompey's army in Greece to fight for the old cause, of which, however, he well-nigh despaired, and after the decisive battle of Pharsalia, at which he was not present, he threw himself on the conqueror's mercy. Cæsar, who had certainly nothing to fear from him, received (p. 065) him kindly, and was a great friend to him from that day; but Cicero was not a happy man now that he could no longer make speeches in the senate or in the courts; to all this Cæsar's victory had for the time at least put at end. In the years 46, 45, 44 B.C., he wrote most of his chief works on rhetoric and philosophy, living in retirement and brooding mournfully over his griefs and disappointments. In 43 B.C., the year after Cæsar's death, he had once again the delight of having his eloquence applauded by the senate. In that year his famous speeches against Antony—Philippics, as he called them after the title of Demosthenes's orations against Philip of Macedon—were delivered. These cost him his life. As soon as Antony, Octavius (afterward the Emperor Augustus), and Lepidus had leagued themselves together in the so-called triumvirate for the settlement of the state, they followed the precedent of former revolutions, a proscription-list of their political enemies. All such were outlawed and given up to destruction. Cicero's name was in the fatal list. Old and feeble, he fled to his villa at Formiæ, pursued by the soldiers of Antony, and was overtaken by them as he was being carried in a litter down to the shore, where it had been his intention to embark. With a calm courage (which, to quote Macaulay's words) "has half redeemed his fame," he put his head out of the litter and bade his murderers strike. He died in the December of 43 B.C., in the sixty-third year of his age.

As an orator and a pleader Cicero undoubtedly stands in the first rank. Many of his speeches have come down to us. Of these the most famous, and perhaps the finest, are his speeches against Verres and against Catiline. Eloquence in those days of furious faction and revolution was a greater force than it is with us. As a politician he failed because he did not distinctly realize to himself that the old republic, the government of the senate and of the nobles, had been tried and had been found wanting. He had not the courage to face the great changes which he felt were impending. Pompey, the champion of the old order, was not a leader to whom he could look up with confidence. And so he wavered, and half acquiesced in Cæsar's triumph, even though he suspected that with that triumph the Rome which he had known and loved would pass away. To us it is as an essayist and as the writer of a multitude of letters to friends, full of miscellaneous information, that Cicero is particularly attractive; there is a gracefulness and refinement and elevation of tone about his writings which cannot fail to incline the reader to say with Erasmus, "I feel a better man for reading Cicero." His essays on "Old Age" and "on Friendship," his De Officiis or "Whole Duty of Man," as we may paraphrase it, are good and pleasant reading such as we can all enjoy. There is no fairer picture in literature than of him sitting in the garden of his villa at Tusculum, surrounded by admiring friends, and engaged upon his "Tusculan disputations;" while his treatises on the "Nature of the Gods," and on the "True Ends of Human Life" (De Finibus), if they do not show any very deep and original thought, at least give us an insight into the teachings of the various philosophical schools.[Back to Contents]

(63 B.C.-14 A.D.)

Augustus Cæsar.

Caius Julius Cæsar Octavianus Augustus, son of Caius Octavius and Atia (Julius Cæsar's niece), was born in 63 B.C. He was the first and greatest of the Roman emperors, in his way perhaps fully as great as his adoptive father, Julius Cæsar. The Octavian family came originally from Velitræ, in the country of the Volsci; and the branch to which Augustus belonged was rich and honorable. His father had risen to the rank of senator and prætor, but died in the prime of life, when Augustus was only four years old. Augustus was carefully educated in Rome under the guardianship of his mother and his step-father; and his talents recommended him to his great-uncle, Julius Cæsar, who adopted him as his son and heir. At the time of Cæsar's assassination (44 B.C.), Augustus was a student under the celebrated orator Apollodorus, at Apollonia in Illyricum, whither, however, he had been sent chiefly to gain practical instruction in military affairs. He returned to Italy, and now first learning that he was his uncle's heir, assumed the name of Julius Cæsar Octavianus. The soldiers at Brundusium saluted him as Cæsar, but he declined their offers, and entered Rome almost alone. The city was at this time divided between the republicans and the friends of Mark Antony, but the latter, by adroit manœuvres, had gained the ascendency, and enjoyed almost absolute power. At first, Augustus was haughtily treated by Antony, who refused to surrender Cæsar's property; but after some fighting, in which Antony was worsted and forced to flee across the Alps, Augustus, who had made himself a favorite with the people and the army, obtained the consulship and carried out Cæsar's will. He found an able advocate in Cicero, who at first had regarded him with contempt. To himself the great orator seemed to be laboring in behalf of the republic, whereas he really was only an instrument for raising Augustus to supreme power. When Antony returned from Gaul with Lepidus, Augustus threw off the republican mask, and joined them in establishing a triumvirate. He obtained Africa, Sardinia, and Sicily; Antony, Gaul; and Lepidus, Spain. Their power was soon made absolute by the massacre of those unfriendly to them in Italy, and by the victory at Philippi over the republicans under Brutus (p. 067) and Cassius. The Perusian war, excited by Fulvia, wife of Antony, seemed likely to lead to a contest between Augustus and his rival; but was ended by Fulvia's death, and the subsequent marriage of Antony with Octavia, sister of Augustus. Shortly afterward the Roman world was divided anew, Augustus taking the western half, and Antony the eastern. The contest for supremacy commenced. While Antony was lost in luxurious dissipation at the court of Cleopatra, Augustus was industriously striving to gain the love and confidence of the Roman people, and to damage his rival in public estimation. War was at length declared against the Egyptian queen, and at the naval battle of Actium (31 B.C.) Augustus was victorious, and became sole ruler of the whole Roman world. Antony soon afterward ended his life by suicide; and Cleopatra, learning of his death and believing that Augustus intended carrying her in chains to Rome, also killed herself, so that Augustus triumphed only over her dead body, which he found awaiting him. Antony's son by Fulvia, and Cæsarion, son of Cæsar and Cleopatra, were put to death; and in 29 B.C., after regulating affairs in Egypt, Greece, Syria, and Asia Minor, Augustus returned to Rome in triumph, and, closing the temple of Janus, proclaimed universal peace.

Augustus Cæsar and Cleopatra.

His subsequent measures were mild and prudent. To insure popular favor, he abolished the laws of the triumvirate, and reformed many abuses. Hitherto, since Cæsar's death, he had been named Octavian; but now the title of Augustus ("sacred" or "consecrated") was conferred on him. In his eleventh consulship (23 B.C.), the tribunician power was granted him for life by the senate. Republican names and forms still remained, but they were mere shadows; and Augustus, in all but name, was absolute monarch. In 21 B.C., on the death of Lepidus, he had the high title of Pontifex Maximus bestowed on him. The nation surrendered to him all the power and honor that it had to give.

After a course of victories in Asia, Spain, Pannonia, Dalmatia, Gaul, etc., Augustus (9 B.C.) suffered the one crushing defeat of his long rule, in the person of Quintilius Varus, whose army was annihilated by the Germans under Hermann. The loss so afflicted Augustus that for some time he allowed his beard and hair to grow, as a sign of deep mourning, and often exclaimed, "O Varus, Varus, give me back my legions!" Thenceforth he confined himself to plans of domestic improvements and reform, and so beautified Rome that it was said, "Augustus found the city built of brick, and left it built of marble." He also built cities in several parts of the empire; and altars were raised by the grateful people to commemorate his beneficence; while by a decree of the senate the name Augustus was given to the month Sextilis.

Though thus surrounded with honor and prosperity, Augustus was not free from domestic trouble. The abandoned conduct of his daughter Julia was the cause of sore vexation to him. He had no son, and his nephew Marcellus, and Caius and Lucius, his daughter's sons, whom he had appointed as his successors and heirs, as well as his favorite stepson, Drusus, all died early; while his stepson, Tiberius, was an unamiable character whom he could not love. Age, sorrow, and failing health warned him to seek repose; and, to recruit his strength, (p. 068) he undertook a journey to Campania; but his infirmity increased, and he died at Nola (14 A.D.), in the seventy-seventh year of his age. According to tradition, shortly before his death, he called for a mirror, arranged his hair neatly, and said to his attendants: "Did I play my part well? If so, applaud me!" Augustus had consummate tact and address as a ruler and politician, and made use of the passions and talents of others to forward his own designs. The good and great measures which marked his reign were originated mostly by himself. He encouraged agriculture, patronized the arts and literature, and was himself an author; though only a few fragments of his writings have been preserved. Horace, Virgil, Ovid, Propertius, Tibullus, and Livy—greatest of Latin poets and scholars—belonged to the Augustan Age, a name since applied in France to the reign of Louis XIV., in England to that of Queen Anne.[Back to Contents]

By Rev. A. A. Lambing, LL.D.

St. Ambrose.

Biographical history presents few characters more interesting either to the statesman or the churchman than that of St. Ambrose. As a statesman—though but a small part of his life was devoted to the affairs of civil government—he showed great prudence, was sincerely devoted to the interests of his imperial master, and yet he was at the same time an uncompromising advocate and defender of the rights of the people. As a churchman he united a high degree of personal sanctity and a fatherly care of those intrusted to his pastoral vigilance—especially the poor—to an extraordinary firmness in maintaining the rights of the Church against imperial usurpation, and the purity of doctrine against the inroads of heresy.

St. Ambrose was born about the year 340, of a Roman of the same name who was at that time prefect of the pretorium in Gaul, a province which then embraced a large portion of western and southwestern Europe. Arles, Lyons, and Trèves contend for the honor of being his birthplace, but it is most probable that it was in the latter he first saw the light. Legends, too, are not (p. 069) wanting of extraordinary occurrences which took place during his infancy, that seemed to presage his future greatness. Be these as they may, his life and works, which are before the world, stand in need of no such embellishments, now that they have become matters of history. His father died in his infancy, and his mother returned to Rome, where her wealth and social position enabled her to give her children the best education possible; and none of them profited more by his opportunities than Ambrose. His attainments were numerous and varied, embracing, among other things, a thorough knowledge of the Greek language and literature, oratory of a high order, unusual skill in poetic composition, and a thorough acquaintance with music.

Having completed his education, he went to Milan to enter upon his public career. Here his learning, ability, and integrity were soon recognized, and preferments crowded thick upon him. But under all circumstances he remained true to himself; and, although then only a catechumen—or one undergoing instruction before embracing Christianity—he yet made the maxims of the Gospel the rule of his life and conduct. In a short time he was made governor of the provinces of Liguria and Æmelia, which embraced the greater part of Northern Italy. When setting out to assume the duties of that exalted position, he was told by one of those highest in authority, to "go and rule more as a bishop than a judge." Although but thirty years of age at the time of his appointment, he strove by his vigilance, mildness, and probity, to act upon that advice which seemed almost prophetic; for he was soon after called to the bishopric of Milan, as we shall presently have occasion to remark. The Arian heresy was then at the zenith of its power, and was at least secretly, and often openly, favored by the imperial authority. In few places was it more openly defiant than at Milan. Auxentius, the Arian bishop of that see, died in the year 374, and a serious tumult was raised during the election of his successor—the Arians and the orthodox Christians each contending for the mastery. In the discharge of his duties as governor, Ambrose entered the assembly, where by his firmness, prudence, and moderation he succeeded in restoring order. Tradition states that in a moment of tranquillity a child cried out: "Ambrose is bishop;" but, be that as it may, and it matters little, so great was the public appreciation of his merits, and so high was the esteem in which he was held, that he was immediately elected by acclamation. Alarmed at this determination of the people, he endeavored to escape the honor and remain in concealment till another election should take place; but the vigilance of the people prevented it. He then had recourse to another means of escape, urging that he was only a catechumen and could not lawfully be elected a bishop. But this, too, was overruled, when he insisted that being in the service of the emperor his permission was necessary. So far, however, from this availing, it had the opposite effect, for the Emperor Valentinian readily gave his consent, adding the flattering remark that he was very much pleased to know that the civil governors whom he had selected to rule the provinces of the Empire, were fit to be made bishops to rule the Church of God. Seeing the will of heaven so clearly manifested, Ambrose feared longer to refuse his acquiescence, and at the age of thirty-four he (p. 070) passed through the various ecclesiastical orders and was consecrated Bishop of Milan on December 7, 374.

Solicitude for the portion of the Church now entrusted to his pastoral care was thenceforth his only thought; and to his other numerous and profound acquirements he added that of a careful study of the scriptures. In those unhappy times storms were raging on all sides between the orthodox Christians and the Arians; and while he and the church of Milan were congratulated from all sides on the choice of so able a chief pastor, he clearly saw that his future life must be one of constant struggle with the civil power for the rights of the Church, and with the Arians for the purity of doctrine. But his extraordinary combination of gentleness and charity with firmness and courage never failed him, and in the end it proved equal to the task imposed upon him; and it has handed down his name as one of the noblest on the pages of the world's history. The better to free himself from unnecessary trammels, he at once disposed of his immense wealth to the poor, except so much of it as was necessary for the becoming maintenance of his household; and the administration of even this he committed to others.

The turbulent times through which the Church had passed and was still passing, had necessarily given rise to numerous abuses; and to the correction of these the newly consecrated bishop unsparingly devoted himself. But though this was destined to be a life-work, and though he met with a great measure of success, "it must needs be that scandals come," and no one can hope to eradicate entirely every abuse. Never was the Arian heresy so successfully dealt with as by him, and if he did not succeed in entirely destroying it, he did succeed in breaking its power and restoring greater tranquillity to the Church than it had enjoyed for a long term of years. Many elements combined to produce these consoling results, and since we are treating of an eminent churchman, it is necessary to attach due importance to his own personal sanctity, which was at once a rebuke to disregard of ecclesiastical discipline, a living illustration of what the true Christian should be, and an evidence of the purity of his motives and the sincerity of his conduct. This holiness had its effect too before the Throne of Grace, for the scriptures assure us that the prayers of the just man avail much. So long as we entertain the belief that Christ has established a church on earth, we must from necessity hold that He takes a lively interest in it, and blesses the labors of those who devote themselves to its extension. His eloquence, too, in the pulpit not only advanced the interests of religion, but also stimulated the zeal and guided the efforts of others of less ability. His numerous controversial works refuted the errors and sophistries of the enemies of religion, on the one hand, and on the other, explained and defended its tenets. Those who wished to tread the higher walks of the spiritual life, found in his several treatises on certain of the Christian virtues, a sure light to guide them in the way of perfection. Devoting his attention to the liturgy of divine worship, he added greatly to the attractiveness of the ceremonial, especially by a thorough revision of the church music that had previously been in use. But in the march of the human mind nothing now remains of the Ambrosian chant in its purity, save the "Exultet," as it is called, which is a hymn sung (p. 071) in the Latin Church during the blessing of the Paschal candle on Holy Saturday. Large numbers of his poetic compositions still remain, and are found for the most part in the Roman breviary. It may be said that his pen was never idle nor his voice hushed when the interests of religion could be promoted, and many of his writings remain to our day, a proof of his learning, an evidence of his zeal, and a monument to his courage. Among his successes in advancing the cause of religion must be mentioned his conversion, in 387, of St. Augustine, the greatest light of the Western Church. But he is better known to the world at large by his firmness in withstanding the usurpation of the secular power, and bringing those in high places to confess and repent of their faults. In doing this he had ever the best interests of mankind at heart.

Soon after his consecration as a bishop he wrote to the emperor, complaining of the corruption of some imperial governors; to whom Valentinian replied: "I have long since been acquainted with your freedom of speech, which did not deter me from consenting to your consecration. Continue to apply to our sins the remedies prescribed by the divine law." Even in our own day, not a few salutary laws are due to his humane influence. He prevailed on the Emperor Gratian to pass a law, among others, that no criminal should be executed within less than thirty days after sentence had been passed. He also succeeded, but with great difficulty, in having the pagan statues removed from the senate. He had also a law passed forbidding the Arians to rebuild or repair their churches. When the Empress Justina sent to him asking the use of certain churches for the celebration of Easter, he refused; and when threats were made he answered in language worthy of a Christian prelate: "Should you ask what is mine, as my land or my money, I would not refuse you, though all that I possess belongs to the poor; but you have no right to that which belongs to God." A year later, the Easter of 386, the same request was made, when the intrepid bishop answered: "Naboth would not give up the inheritance of his ancestors, and shall I give up that of Jesus Christ?" It may perhaps be difficult for many in our day, when so little importance is attached to Christian unity, to appreciate the fearless action of this heroic person; but his biography would be imperfect in a very important particular if these points were passed over in silence; and before passing judgment on him we must bear in mind the rule of the historian and biographer, so frequently lost sight of, that persons and things must be judged by the times and circumstances in which they were placed. The times change and we change in them.

Perhaps the most remarkable event in the life of St. Ambrose, so far as the world at large will judge him, was his rebuke of the Emperor Theodosius. Instances like this are not rare, it is true, in the history of the Christian Church; but this one stands forth with more than ordinary prominence. The circumstances are briefly these: A sedition broke out in the city of Thessalonica, in which a number of officers and the commander of the imperial forces were slain. Theodosius, at the instigation of Rufinus, a military officer of prominence, sent a warrant to the commander of Illyricum to let the soldiers loose upon the city; a (p. 072) command that was carried out with great cruelty, and by which more than seven thousand persons, the innocent as well as the guilty, were massacred in the most inhuman manner. The grief of Ambrose on hearing this was extreme; and, in order to afford the emperor time to reflect, he withdrew from Milan, and addressed him a very touching letter exhorting him to repentance, assuring him at the same time that he, as bishop, would not receive his offerings nor perform the services of religion in his presence till he had done so. The prelate soon after returned to his episcopal city; and when the emperor appeared at the doors of the church to attend divine services, he forbade him to enter till he had done penance for his crime. Excuses and palliations were of no avail, and when the emperor urged that King David had sinned, he was told that as he had imitated David in his sin, he should also imitate him in his repentance; and the doors of the church were closed against him. The emperor returned to his palace, where for eight months he did penance for his fault; and he was not admitted to full communion till he had perfectly complied with the requirements of the bishop.

While to the general reader there may appear an unwonted severity, and even a tyrannical vindictiveness in this firmness of the holy prelate, his companions and those who knew his character best find in it an evidence of his zeal for the cause of religion, and his desire for the true conversion of the sinner; and the man of the world will find in him the champion of the poor and oppressed against the tyranny of power. It is a well-known fact of history that he did not cease, during all this time, to beseech heaven with prayers and tears for the emperor, whom he sincerely loved. But his character in this, as in all else, has withstood the test of time, and shines with undiminished lustre down the vista of ages.

St. Ambrose died about midnight before Holy Saturday, April 4, 397; and his body reposes in a vault under the high altar of the basilica of Milan—the church that he had served so long and so well. His feast is kept in the Latin Church on December 7th, and he is justly regarded as one of the most illustrious doctors of the Church.[Back to Contents]

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Ambrose rebukes Theodosius.

By His Eminence James, Cardinal Gibbons

St. Augustine.

Among the few great names which have most signally emblazoned the pages of history, and whose fame and influence have not been limited to their own age, country, or people, that of Augustine, saint and bishop, stands out pre-eminently as worthy of all the encomiums bestowed upon him by serious students of men and their times. He has been and is regarded as the greatest and most celebrated of theologians, the father and master of preachers of the Divine Word, the peer of the rarest and most enlightened minds, whose soaring is above all time. He has been given a place with Plato and Bossuet, with Cicero and St. Thomas, in the universal acclaim. Great in faith, great in thought, great in virtue, great in genius, he lived in the century of great men, towering above all. Athanasius was Patriarch of Alexandria and Cyril of Jerusalem; Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory of Nazianzen, and Basil the Great, formed a triumvirate of holy, eloquent, and erudite defenders of truth and justice; Ambrose was by his faith and piety illumining the See of Milan; the Christian Cicero, Chrysostom, was pouring forth at Constantinople streams of golden eloquence; Jerome, the hermit of Bethlehem, was giving his masterly expositions of Scripture. And Augustine arose in this galaxy of greatness and genius to shed glory on the land and church of Africa, which had seen its Tertullian and been adorned by its Cyprian. Contact with such men were an honor; drinking at their feet deep and wholesome draughts of purest wisdom were glory: but to have the notes of one's song arise above theirs as did Augustine's, were solid genius and lasting fame.

St. Augustine was born on November 13, A.D. 354, at the little town of Tagasta, in ancient Numidia, which is now Algeria. His father was an unassuming and honorable soul, though of humble and modest origin. His mother was the sainted Monica, who is so justly venerated on Christian altars. The early education of Augustine was received in his native village, with slender means and amidst meagre advantages. As a boy he manifested very little of those studious habits which were afterward to distinguish and elevate him to universal honor. (p. 074) At great sacrifice on his father's part, and with the princely generosity of a noted inhabitant of Tagasta, named Romanian, he was sent to the better equipped schools of the neighboring Madaura and later to Carthage. The schools of Carthage, though not so renowned and exceptional as those of Alexandria and Antioch, were yet among the most prominent of the Roman World. He was sixteen years of age when he was taken to this city, and after four years he had risen to the first place in the schools of rhetoric and had mastered all the branches of the liberal arts then taught. None could equal his penetration, none surpass him in the readiness of his answers or in the clearness of his expositions. The subtle distinctions and divisions of Aristotle were plain to him. And in the arena of philosophical disputation he knew no superior. He was particularly attracted to the study of eloquence; and the perusal of Cicero's "Hortensius" (which unfortunately has been lost in the vicissitudes of time) stirred his soul to higher flights and begot a noble enthusiasm for the imperishable beauty of wisdom, made him impatient of the evanescent hopes of men, and carried him onward to further quest of truth.

When his studies were completed, he returned in 370 to Tagasta and lodged with his wealthy patron and benefactor; for his father had died the year after his arrival in Carthage. Though here he began to teach grammar and kindred branches, he did not long remain at home; he soon departed again for Carthage, where his successes as a master surpassed those he had gained as a disciple. Led by his former fame and by the daily increasing applause which greeted the youthful professor of rhetoric, many gathered around him. He was then only twenty-three years of age. Among his pupils he numbered Licentius and Alypius—two names indissolubly bound up with the story of Augustine's life. His place among the learned and first men of that ancient city was made doubly secure when, at a public contest in poetry, he was awarded the prize, and was crowned with the laurel by the Proconsul, Vindician, before the assembled people and most celebrated minds of the city.

But while he was thus advancing in favor with men, while thirst for truth was burning him, he yielded to the seductions of the wealthy youth of his time; though he had been early trained by his pious mother in the love of virtue and the hatred of iniquity, yet the apparent austerity of virtue seemed now to affright him, and the pleasures of life and the allurements of vice captivated his ardent disposition; and while he never seems to have plunged into the extravagances and disorders common to so many of his companions, nor to have been guilty of crimes which spring from a cruel nature or very depraved instincts, he indulged in some pursuits which formed the prolific source of future profound grief. He loved ease, and was averse to self-denial and hardship—hence his indiscretions and follies. But the most distinguishing trait of his character was his honesty, and this feature redeemed and palliated his few irregularities.

St. Augustine and his mother, St. Monica.

The scholars of Carthage were anything but sober, industrious, modest, and orderly youths. They were indocile and turbulent; not only disturbing by their wild pranks the peace of the city, but interrupting by their noisy behavior and (p. 075) inattention the master's discourses and lectures. It was next to impossible to preserve any semblance of discipline in the classes. So Augustine left in disgust and set out for Rome, the ancient mistress of the world. He had been enamoured by her imperishable traditions and magnificent monuments of grandeur and art, by her memories of numerous great men, their genius and their works, by her history ever rich in majesty and glory. Induced by the consideration that he would find there the absence of unfavorable circumstances and the presence of stronger incentives to enthusiasm and high inspiration, he left his country and his mother, and in 383, with Alypius, his friend and pupil, he departed for this metropolis. But again he was doomed to disappointment. Though disciples were not wanting, and his chair was surrounded by a throng of earnest and strong students, he did not find the all-absorbing passion for wisdom and truth, for the sublime and beautiful, that he had fondly anticipated. There was not, indeed, the same degree of turbulence and disorder as at Carthage, but the magnificence and ostentation of the Roman family and life, their splendid palaces and festive orgies, could not but prove very injurious to habits of study. The youth had imbibed the venal corruption everywhere prevalent. Hence it not seldom happened that Roman scholars conspired to rob their master of his salary and desert his class in a body. Roman vileness and baseness disgusted Augustine even more than Punic insubordination. He therefore took advantage of a request made by the citizens of Milan of Symmachus who was then Prefect of Rome, that he would procure for them a professor of rhetoric. He accepted the proposal; and toward the close of the year 384 he was teaching at Milan.

Up to this time the soul of Augustine was not influenced by higher inspiration than pleasure, nor his mind by anything which did not correspond to his preconceived notions of philosophic accuracy. Nor was he yet a Christian by baptism, as it was the custom of the age to postpone the reception of this sacrament till later in life, both that it might be received with better dispositions and more fruit, and because sins and faults committed by the baptized possessed in their eyes and before God deeper malice and blacker ingratitude; they wished to avoid this evil. When a child, Augustine was so ill that his life was despaired of; the waters of regeneration were about to be poured over him; but he soon recovered and again the baptism was deferred. In Milan he was attracted by St. Ambrose's eloquent discourses on the Christian religion; and their simple and earnest character, their strong and convincing argument, their fervid and impassioned vein appealed to the young man's mind. His heart was touched by the manifest holiness of the good bishop's life and conduct, especially when he contrasted them with those of the Manicheans with whom he had so long been associated. The study of Platonic philosophy urged him on to celestial heights and made him gaze on the infinite nature of God. The Epistles of St. Paul riveted his attention in his search after purest truth, and joined to the pious prayers of the Sainted Monica, who thus drew down abundant grace divine, completed the miracle of his conversion. The wayward Augustine wept for his sins, the learned philosopher bowed his head in faith and humility before the Gospel (p. 076) of Jesus Christ and the truth of God as revealed by Him. After a period of seclusion which he spent from August (386) to the Easter solemnity of the next year, with Monica, Alypius, Licentius, and several others, at Cassiciacum in the suburbs of Milan, he was baptized by St. Ambrose on April 24th or 25th, A.D. 387.

Once a Christian, Augustine thought of returning to his native country. He desired to perfect himself in the Christian science and spirit, and to teach and defend among his own people Catholic doctrines and interests—henceforth to be the sole aim of his life. In August or September therefore of that same year he set out with his mother and friends for Africa. But the death of Monica at Ostia in Italy changed his plans. And after paying all the duties of religion and filial tenderness to this devoted mother, he went to Rome. But in the spring of the year 388 he finally set foot on his native shores. He betook himself immediately to the environs of Tagasta and found an asylum for study, contemplation, and prayer.

It happened that, prompted by zeal and affection, he went on one occasion in 391 to Hippo, which was on the Mediterranean Sea five leagues from Carthage, and the site of the present Bona, for the purpose of inducing a certain friend to join him in his solitude. While here he entered the church where the holy bishop, Valerius, was preaching to the people and complaining of his sad need of a priest to aid him in his duties, and especially to exercise the office of preaching, since an impediment in his speech rendered that duty very difficult and extremely painful for him. Preaching was the exclusive function of the bishop. And when Augustine as a priest assumed the duty, he was the first in priest's orders who had ever preached in presence of a bishop. And it was in that capacity that he arose in the Council of Hippo (393) and delivered his famous discourse on "Faith and its Creed." As Augustine entered the church while the bishop was making the above complaint, the congregation, who recognized him (for his fame had spread over all Africa), immediately, as if by divine inspiration, proposed him for the office of priest. Valerius was of course overjoyed; and after a short time which the saint requested for preparation, he was ordained and attached to the church of Hippo. The esteem in which the new priest was held, his apostolic labors, his eloquence, his piety, soon impelled the aged bishop to raise his sacerdotal co-laborer to the episcopal dignity and associate him still more closely with himself in the government of the See of Hippo. He was accordingly consecrated a little before Christmas of the year 395. And the subsequent thirty-five years were the busiest, the most arduous, and the most fruitful of his long and eventful career. His energy was indefatigable and extended in every direction. The religious movements of his time brought into play all the resources of his mind and heart. He combated heresies and reclaimed heretics. His correspondence embraced a multitude of subjects and was carried on with various parts of the Church. His zeal in preaching never knew rest, and his efforts in instructing the ignorant were ceaseless. He established centres of religious life for men and women, and composed for them a rule of life and spirit and principles that have (p. 077) not yet died. He was alive to the necessity of a zealous and energetic clergy whom he wished trained in the spirit and teachings of the Gospel maxims and counsels, and therefore formed the nucleus of a monastic clergy. He had begun the realization of this idea in the community which he established at Hippo just after his ordination as priest, and he perfected it when he was made bishop. Ten of those whom he trained in this his first monastery, became bishops of the various sees of Africa, including Alypius, who was sent to Tagasta, Possidius, his first biographer, and Fortunatus, who was his successor in the See of Hippo. During all this time he continued to wear the long black robe and hood and leathern girdle peculiar to the cenobites of the East, which he had donned at Milan shortly after his baptism when he laid aside the dress of his native Africa. Not only his vesture but also his daily life and practices were the same as those which are the privilege and glory of monks, nuns, and hermits. None surpassed him in austerities and self-denial, as none had surpassed him in philosophic lore at Carthage, and at Milan and Rome.

The magnificent effects of his extraordinary gifts, fertile ingenuity, and deep learning and broad mind; the influence of his genius on the thoughts and ideas of his own and succeeding ages, may be best gleaned from a brief survey of his writings. Augustine's early aim was to seek truth. He was perplexed with many doubts; he could not conceive the existence of anything real outside of physical bodies; and nothing around him completely and satisfactorily gave him answer. The Manicheans, who had occupied themselves with questions on the nature of God, the creation of the world, and the origin of evil, seemed to have attained on these points some tangible conclusions. For want of better Augustine defended their doctrines without participating in the excesses which distinguished those sectaries. But he felt himself alienated from them, partly because of the lack of the prestige of great men among them, and because he found Faustus, a Manichean bishop and the Goliath of their forces, ignorant of many simple subjects, and unable to give but vague and shallow responses to the questions that agitated his soul. He afterward had a famous controversy with this Faustus, and wrote against him thirty-three books. The results of Augustine's studies were that he was able to refute their attacks on Holy Scripture which they said had undergone serious changes, and to see the falsehood of their main postulate that good proceeds from a good principle and evil from an evil principle; and also to recognize the futility of their objection that the Christians spoke of a human form in God. Against this sect his principal writings are "On the Manners and Customs of the Catholic Church and those of the Manicheans;" "The Utility of Faith," "The Two Souls," and a book against Adimantes, the disciple of Manes, in which he reconciles the contradictions alleged to exist between the Old and the New Testament.

From the Manicheans Augustine turned to the Academicians, who were a philosophical sect, and pretended that it was impossible for man to come to the possession of truth. Augustine had many conferences on this subject with his friends in his retreat at Cassiciacum: and the outcome was two books "On Order," (p. 078) and one on "The Blessed Life." These works discussed the matter thoroughly and left the philosophers no loophole of escape.

A more dangerous error, though purely local in its immediate surroundings, was the denial of the validity of Baptism when conferred by heretics. This contention had occasioned a schism in the church of Africa since the beginning of the fourth century. It received the name of Donatism from Donatus, schismatic Bishop of Carthage, who had been aided by another Donatus of Casæ Nigræ. In St. Augustine's time it had spread over the whole country. The Saint put forward the true idea of the Church and showed that the minister of a sacrament does not communicate to the recipient his own character of holiness or of guilt, that it is Christ Himself who baptizes and absolves and gives efficacy to sacramental signs. The cogency of his words, the clearness of his explanations, and his grace of manner led many of the Donatists to desire union with the Church, which he showed them, as Christ's Body, is one and indivisible. His chief works in this controversy are a letter to Maximinus, a Donatist bishop whom he brought back to Catholic Unity, the "Christian Combat," the "One Baptism," three books against Parmeian, letter to Glorius and three others, and a conference with Bishop Fortunatus, at Turbusum.

As if by divine inspiration he had laid down in a work on "Free Will," which he had begun at Rome, enlarged at Tagasta, and completed in 395, principles which afford sufficient answer to the errors of Pelagianism. This heresy broached novel teachings on man, the fall, and the state in which that fall had left the human race. St. Augustine, who had not been able to take part in the council of Carthage, where Pelagius was first condemned, brought out in clear light the true doctrine and nature and action of supernatural grace, and the effects of original sin on man's will and heart. His treatises on "Merit" and the "Remission of Sins," explained all the weakness of fallen nature, the need of divine grace to perform actions that conduce to eternal life, and the necessity and place of human effort in the work of justification and faith. As it was asserted that children should not be baptized because the sin of Adam was not transmitted to them, he wrote a book on the "Baptism of Children." In "Nature and Grace" and "Faith and its Works," "On the Grace of Jesus Christ" and "Original Sin," still further explanation and argument are given to establish Catholic truth.

Still another heresy was beginning to poison religious thought: Arianism, or the denial of the divinity of Jesus Christ, was invading the church of Africa. And the writings of St. Augustine against this movement are among his most luminous and brilliant works. He wrote three letters and fifteen books on the Trinity—these he commenced in 400 and completed in 416. Perhaps the clearest and plainest are the one hundred and twenty-four treatises (so called) on the Gospel of St. John, and ten on the First Epistle of the same Apostle. They were sermons or catechetical instructions and homilies, delivered during the year 416 to his flock, on the prevalent heresies but especially on the Arian. And his response to the five questions of Honorius, a citizen of Carthage, contains lucid expositions of some difficult portions of Scripture.

(p. 079) On Scripture matters, besides the works just mentioned, St. Augustine's enlightened views are found in twelve books on the "Literal Sense of Genesis;" in these he seems to have divined all modern objections and theories about this work of Moses. On the seven first books of the Bible, he has left us seven treatises. "An Explanation of the Psalms," a correspondence with St. Jerome on the Epistle to the Galatians, four books on the agreement of the Evangelists, two on Gospel questions, and a book on "Things That are not Seen," should not be unknown to Biblical students.

Nor was the Pagan attitude toward Catholic Truth forgotten. He had passed through the phase, and knew the Pagan mind. He put down their difficulties, reasoned away their doubts, threw light on their darkness, led them on in truth, in "The True Religion," "Eighty-three Questions," "The Christian Doctrine," and an early treatise on the "Immortality of the Soul."

But by far his greatest and most enduring works are his "Confessions" and "The City of God." The former, at once a poem, a history, and a treatise of philosophy, beautifully expresses the trials and efforts of a human soul striving for truth and happiness away from God, and the ecstatic sentiments of the same soul on the attainment of both truth and happiness in the faith and virtues of Jesus Christ and in His Gospel. The other, in eloquent and philosophical vein, discourses on the Church of God on earth and in heaven; shows the hollowness of all opinions, thoughts, and efforts contrary to the eternal order which is God; is, as it were, an encyclopedia of all that he had written before, an exhaustless summary of refutation against heresy and paganism, and an analysis of the glories and benefits of Christianity. St. Augustine in its composition occupied all the time from 413 to 426—the period of his momentous struggle against Pelagianism.

The lines of intellectual and religious thought which called forth the just mentioned and other productions of St. Augustine's brilliant genius, have continued all along the centuries even till now. The same movements exist; the same tendencies, though more intense in their working, actuate men toward truth; and the same obstacles impede their progress; objections, in other forms perhaps, yet substantially the same, are urged against the very points against which the sainted pontiff wrote and struggled—God, Creation, the Bible, Christ, human infirmity or human strength, man's power to attain truth unaided, and his freedom from any supernatural dependence. No wonder that Augustine, who had passed through all these phases of action, should have always been called upon for effective weapons in the warfare, and that he should have been the supreme authority in such questions for many an age in the Latin or Western Church. His sounds are as clear to-day, and his arguments are as convincing and potent. The student and the dialectician and the theologian can ill afford to be unfamiliar with the great doctor's thoughts.

All these writings everywhere evidence the beauty of his character, as his actions were ever in accord with evangelical perfection. There is wonderful power of mercy, compassion, and love, in all. He had been weak himself, hence he treated weakness with gentleness. Two things rendered him indulgent; a sad (p. 080) experience of the infirmities of human nature, and a profound knowledge of the depth of those infirmities. His virtues of humility, compassion, moderation, and generosity, all sprung from that, just as his deep faith and strong convictions of Christian truth were begotten of his fierce struggle with doubt and error and his long and ardent search for truth.

He died in honor on August 28th, A.D. 430. But men have not ceased to admire his genius, appreciate his labors, love his character; and thousands imitate his piety and are governed by his mandates of spiritual life.[Back to Contents]

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By Rev. G. F. Maclear, B.D.
(ABOUT 372-466)

A book.

The original name of St. Patrick was Succat, which is said to signify "strong in war." Patricius appears to have been his Roman name. He was born of Christian parents at some period between A.D. 372 and A.D. 415. His father, Calphurnius, was a deacon, his grandfather, Potitus, a priest Though an ecclesiastic, Calphurnius would seem to have held the rank of decurion, and may therefore have been of Roman or provincial British extraction. His birthplace was a spot which he himself calls Bonavem Taberniæ, and which in all probability may be identified with the modern Kirkpatrick, between Dumbarton and Glasgow.

The parents of Succat, as has been already said, were Christians, and it would seem that the Gospel had been preached to some extent in the neighborhood of his father's home. Whatever amount, however, of instruction he may have received was rudely interrupted, when he was about sixteen years of age.

The coasts of Scotland were at this time exposed to the frequent incursions of Irish chieftains, who landed from their swift barks, ravaged the country, and having carried off as many of the inhabitants as they could, consigned them to slavery. In one of these expeditions the house of Calphurnius was attacked, and Succat, with two of his sisters and many of his countrymen, was carried away and conveyed to the north of Ireland.

(p. 081) Here he was purchased as a slave by Michul or Milchu, a chief of North Dalaradia, who dwelt in the valley of the Braid, near Mount Slemish, in the country of Antrim. The work assigned him was that of attending his master's flocks and herds, and in his "Confession," which he wrote toward the close of his life, he describes how he wandered over the bleak mountains, often drenched with the rains, and numbed with the frosts. His period of servitude lasted six years; and during this time he would seem to have made himself acquainted with the language of the native tribes, and to have learned their habits and modes of life. At length he succeeded in effecting his escape to the seaside, where he took ship, and, after a tempestuous passage, regained his father's house. His stay, however, was destined to be very short. In a predatory excursion he was a second time taken captive, and again, after a brief interval, succeeded in making his escape.

Had he listened to his parents, he would now have remained with them, but he was bent on a very different occupation. "The Divine Voice," he says, "frequently admonished me to consider whence I derived the wisdom which was in me, who once knew neither the number of my days nor was acquainted with God; and whence I obtained afterward so great and salutary a gift as to know and to love God." During the weary hours, moreover, of his captivity, he had often reflected how blessed a thing it would be if he, to whom it had been given to know the true God and his Son Jesus Christ, could carry the glad tidings to his master's people and the land of his exile.

One night, he tells us, he had a dream, in which he thought he saw a man coming from Ireland with a number of letters. One of these he gave him to read, and in the beginning occurred the words, "The voice of the Irish." While he was reading it, he thought he heard a voice calling to him across the Western Sea, "We entreat thee, holy youth, to come and walk among us."

Obedient, therefore, to what he deemed to be a plain leading from heaven, and resisting the arguments and entreaties of relatives and friends, who mocked at his enthusiastic resolve, he set out for the monasteries in Southern France, there to prepare himself for the work of preaching the gospel in the land of his captivity. Amidst the conflicting legends which now follow him at every step, it seems probable that he repaired to the monastic schools of Tours, Auxerre, and Lerins, where he studied and was employed for some little time in pastoral duties, having been ordained successively deacon and priest.

There, too, he would seem to have been elevated to the episcopate, and thence with a band of fellow-laborers he set sail for Ireland, about the middle of the fifth century. Landing on one of the islands off the coast of Dublin, he and his companions tried unsuccessfully to obtain provisions, which they greatly needed. Thence sailing northward they put in at a strait called Brene, and after landing at the southwestern extremity of Strangford Lough, advanced some considerable way into the interior.

They had not gone far before they encountered a native chief named Dichu, at the head of a band of men. Mistaking St. Patrick for the leader of one of (p. 082) the many pirate crews which at that time often appeared upon the coast, he was on the point of putting him to death. But struck by the missionary's appearance, and seeing that both he and his companions were unarmed, he hospitably received them into his house. In frequent interviews he now heard the doctrines of the faith, and after a time was baptized, with all his family. According to some authorities he also bestowed upon his instructor the ground whereon his barn was built; and here arose the celebrated church called Sabhall Patraic, "The Barn of Patrick," which still retains the name of Sabhal, or Saul, and is situated about two miles northeast of Downpatrick.

Leaving Saul, the missionaries proceeded to northern Dalaradia, and the residence of St. Patrick's old master, Milchu. But nothing would induce the old chief to receive one who had once been his slave, or to forsake the paganism of his forefathers. His journey thus ineffectual, St. Patrick returned to the district where Dichu resided, and made the neighborhood for sometime his headquarters. Thence proceeding southward, he determined to visit the central parts of the island, and especially the famous hill of Tara, where King Laoghaire was about to hold a great religious festival in the presence of all of his tributary chieftains, druids, and bards. In this stronghold of druidism he resolved to celebrate the approaching festival of Easter, and preach the word to the assembled chiefs. It was Easter eve, we are told, when he reached the neighborhood of Tara, and having erected a tent, he made preparations for spending the night with his companions, and kindled a fire for the purpose of preparing food. As the smoke curled upward in the evening air, it was observed by the druids in the king's tents and caused the greatest consternation. To kindle any fire during the solemn assembly of the chiefs, before the king had lighted the sacred flame in the palace of Tara, was a sin of the greatest enormity, and the druids did not scruple to warn the king that if the fire of the stranger was not extinguished that night, unto him, whose fire it was, would belong the sovereignty of Ireland forever.

Messengers were accordingly sent to discover the authors of the sacrilege, and to order them to appear before Laoghaire. The missionaries went, and their fearlessness when in the presence of the monarch and his nobles won for them a respectful hearing. On the following day St. Patrick again addressed the chiefs, doubtless in their own language, and proclaimed to them the doctrines of the faith. Laoghaire himself, indeed, did not profess to be a convert, but he gave permission to the man of God to preach the word, on condition that he did not disturb the peace of the kingdom. During the ensuing week, therefore, when the great public games were celebrated at Tailten, the missionary and his companions addressed themselves to the youngest brother of the king, and were so favorably received that he professed himself a believer, submitted to baptism, and is said to have given the site of a church called afterward "The Great Church of Patrick."

St. Patrick journeying to Tara.

The impression thus made upon the chiefs was soon shared by their subjects, and though the pagan party made frequent attempts to put the missionaries to death, from which they narrowly escaped, they were heartily received in Westmeath, (p. 083) Connaught, Mayo, and Ulster, and before long found themselves strong enough to destroy the great idol Crom-cruach, on the plain of Magh Slecht, in the county of Cavan; and, in the district of the clan Amalgaidh, admitted to baptism the seven sons of the king and many of their people.

To the worshippers of the powers of nature, and especially the sun and other heavenly bodies, St. Patrick proclaimed that the great luminary which ruled the day had no self-originated existence, but was created by One whom he taught them to call God the Father. "Besides him," said he, "there is no other god, nor ever was, nor will be. He was in the beginning before all things, and from him all things are derived, visible and invisible." He told them next of "his only begotten Son Jesus Christ, who had become man, had conquered death and ascended into heaven, where he sat far above all principalities and powers, and whence he would hereafter come to judge both the quick and the dead, and reward every man according to his deeds." "Those," he declared, "who believed in him, would rise again in the glory of the true Sun, that is, in the glory of Jesus Christ, being by redemption sons of God and joint-heirs of the Christ, of whom, and by whom, and to whom, are all things; for the true Sun, Jesus Christ, will never wane nor set, nor will any perish who do his will, but they shall live forever, even as he liveth forever with God the Father Almighty, and the Holy Spirit, world without end."

Such, as it would seem from his "Confession," was the Gospel he proclaimed, and his words, confirmed and illustrated by his own intrepid zeal, ardent love, and sincere and devoted life, made a deep impression on the minds of the Celtic chiefs. With the religious enthusiasm deeply seated in the primitive Celtic character, which many years before won for St. Paul so warm a reception in Galatia, their hearts were touched and they welcomed the missionary, and believed the word which he preached.

As time went on, the labors of St. Patrick were lightened by the arrival of the bishops Secundinus, Auxilius, and Isserninus, whom he had sent either to France or Britain to receive consecration. Their coming enabled him to extend the sphere of his operations, and he undertook missionary tours in Meath, Leinster, Ossory, and Munster. These continued for several years, during which he was occupied in preaching the word, baptizing new converts, and erecting churches. Knowing well how much his own acquaintance with the native language had contributed to his success, he labored diligently to establish a native ministry wherever he went. Cautiously selecting from the higher classes those whose piety and intelligence seemed to fit them for the work of the ministry, he established seminaries and monastic schools, where they were trained and educated; and to these schools the young of both sexes flocked with extraordinary eagerness.

While he was laboring in the southeastern part of Munster, a petty prince of Cardiganshire, named Coroticus, though apparently professing Christianity, set out from Wales, and descending on the Irish coast with a band of armed followers, murdered several of the people, and carried off a large number with the (p. 084) intention of disposing of them as slaves. This outrage, perpetrated in one of the districts where St. Patrick was baptizing, roused his keenest indignation, and he wrote a letter, which he sent by one of his companions, calling upon Coroticus to restore the captives, many of whom had been baptized. But his request being treated with contempt and scorn, he composed another circular epistle, in which he inveighed in the strongest terms against the cruelty of the marauding tribe and its chief. He contrasted his conduct with that of the Christians of the Continent, who were in the habit of sending large sums of money to ransom captives, and concluded by threatening him and his followers with excommunication, unless he desisted in future from his piratical habits. What was the result of the epistle is not known, but it is to be feared that the attempt to recover the captives was not successful. Slavery and the trade in slaves was almost more difficult to root out than paganism, and the inhuman traffic was in full activity as late as the tenth century between England and Ireland, and the port of Bristol was one of its principal centres.

Meanwhile, after a somewhat lengthened sojourn in the district of Lowth and parts of Ulster, St. Patrick reached the district of Macha, containing the royal city of Emania, the residence of the kings of Ulster, the remains of which, under the name of the Navan, still exist about two miles west of Armagh. Here he was cordially received by Daire, a wealthy chief, who made over to him a pleasant piece of ground on an eminence, Druim-sailch, or "Hill of the Willows." The spot pleased St. Patrick, and here he determined to erect a church. The foundations were accordingly laid, and around it rose by degrees the city of Armagh, the ecclesiastical metropolis of Ireland; and here its founder spent the remainder of his life, only leaving it now and then to visit his favorite retreat at Saul, round which clustered so many associations of his earliest labors, and of his first convert Dichu.

Here, too, having called to his aid the bishops Secundinus, Isserninus, and Auxilius, who next to himself were best qualified by long experience for the work, he proceeded to hold synods, and to make regulations for the general government of the churches he had founded. Again and again he was solicited to revisit his friends and relatives in Scotland, but nothing could induce him to leave his post. In his "Confession," written when far advanced in years, he touchingly describes how often he had been requested to come among his kinsmen once more, but how a deep sense of the spiritual love between himself and his flock ever retained him in Ireland.

It was while he was staying at Saul that the apostle of Ireland was seized with his last illness. He had lived to a good old age, and the sunset of his life was calm and peaceful. Perceiving that his end drew nigh, and desirous, as we are told, that Armagh should be the resting-place of his remains, he set out thither, but was unable to continue the journey. Increasing weakness, and, as it seemed to him the voice of an angel, bade him return to the church of his first convert; and there he closed his eyes in death, probably in the year A.D. 466, leaving behind him the visible memorials of a noble work nobly done. He and (p. 085) his fellow-laborers had made for themselves, by the labors of their own hands, civilized dwellings amid the tangled forest and the dreary morass. At a time when clan-feuds and bloodshed were rife, and princes rose and fell, and all was stormy and changeful, they had covered the islands with monastic schools, where the Scriptures were studied, ancient books collected and read, and native missionaries trained for their own country, and for the remotest parts of the European continent.[Back to Contents]



Flavius Anicius Justinianus, nephew on the mother's side of the Emperor Justin, was born in 482 or 483 A.D., in the village of Tauresium, in Illyria. His original name was Upranda. Although of obscure parentage, and indeed slave-born, he shared the success of his maternal uncle, Justin, being invited at an early age to Constantinople, where he received an early education. When his uncle assumed the purple, in 518, he appointed Justinian commander-in-chief of the army of Asia. His tastes, however, inclining him rather to civic pursuits, he declined this appointment, and remained attached to the court of Constantinople. In 521, he was named consul, and during the remaining years of the reign of his uncle he continued to exercise great influence. In 527 the Emperor Justin, by the advice of the senate, proclaimed him his partner in the empire. Justin survived this step but four months, and in the same year Justinian was proclaimed sole emperor, and crowned along with his wife, the famous Theodora, whom, despite her more than dubious antecedents as an actress, he had raised to the position as his wife. Justinian on his accession was in his forty-fifth year. His reign, which extends over thirty-eight years, is the most brilliant in the history of the late empire. Although himself without the taste or the capacity for military command, he had the good fortune or the skill to select the ablest generals of the last days of Roman military ascendency. Under the direction of his generals, and especially of the celebrated Narses and Belisarius, his reign may be said to have restored the Roman Empire, (p. 086) at least in outward appearance, to its ancient limits, and to have reunited the East and the West under a single rule. In his first war—that with Persia—he concluded a treaty by which the crisis that had so long threatened, was at least warded off; but the rejoicings which celebrated its termination had, owing to a domestic revolution, almost proved fatal to the authority of Justinian himself. A conflict of the so-called Blue and Green factions in the circus, in 532, was but an outburst of political discontent, which went so far as to elect a rival emperor, Hypatius. Justinian himself was struck with dismay, and had made preparations for flight; but the vigor and determination of Theodora arrested the revolt. Narses, with a relentless hand, repressed the tumults, 30,000 victims having, it is said, fallen in a single day. By the arms of Belisarius, the Vandal kingdom of Africa was re-annexed to the Empire; and the same general, conjointly with Narses, restored the imperial authority in Rome, in Northern Italy, and in a large portion of Spain. One of the most extraordinary, though in the end ineffective works of the reign of Justinian, was the vast line of fortification which he constructed, or renewed and strengthened, along the eastern and southeastern frontier of his empire. These works of defence, and the construction of many public buildings both in his capital and in other cities of the Empire, involved an enormous expenditure, and the fiscal administration of Justinian, in consequence, pressed heavily on the public resource.

It is, however, as a legislator that Justinian has gained his most enduring renown. His good fortune in obtaining the services of able generals was not greater than that which attended him in the field of law and legislation. Brilliant as were the triumphs of Narses and Belisarius, they were indeed short-lived in comparison with the work done by the celebrated Tribonian and his coadjutors in the way of reforming and codifying the law. Immediately on his accession Justinian set himself to collect and codify the principal imperial constitutions or statutes enacted prior to, and in force at, the date of his accession. In this respect he followed the example set by his predecessor, Theodosian. The code in which these constitutions were collected was published in 528-29, and it contained a general provision by which all previous imperial enactments were repealed. But Justinian's ambition in the matter of consolidating the laws went much further. Imperial constitutions made up but a comparatively small part of the body of the law. The bulk of it (what might be called the common law) was contained in the writings of the jurists, that is, of text-writers and commentators. Of these writers there were at this time many hundreds of volumes in existence, and, owing to want of agreement in the opinion of the various writers, the law was in a state of great uncertainty, not to say confusion.

To remedy this evil, Justinian resolved upon the publication of a single treatise in which the commentaries and other writings of the jurists might be digested and harmonized. The preparation of this great work was intrusted to Tribonian, with the assistance of Theophilus, a celebrated professor of law at Berytus (modern Beyrout), and two other professors, and it was completed in the almost incredibly short period of four years. It was published in fifty books, under the title (p. 087) Digesta or Pandectæ. While the Digest was in course of preparation Justinian resolved on the composition of a third work—viz., a systematic and elementary treatise on the law which might serve as a text-book for the use of students, and as an introduction to the larger work. The preparation of this was also intrusted to Tribonian and his colleagues, and having been completed a few days before the Digest, was published in four books on the same day (December 31, 534), under the title of Institutiones. It is based upon the Institutes of Gaius, and is familiar to all modern lawyers under the name of "Justinian's Institutes." Meantime, while both the Digest and the Institutes were being prepared, the Code of 529 above mentioned was withdrawn from circulation and republished in 534 with some alterations, and especially with the addition of fifty new constitutions (known as the Quinquaginta Decisiones) which had in the interim been pronounced by Justinian. This new edition, in twelve books, is known as the Codex Repetitiæ Prœlectionis, and is the one which has come down to us, no copy of the earlier codex being extant. All these works (Code, Digest, Institutes) were written originally in Latin, and all of them were prepared with care and skill, and testify to the great ability of Tribonian and his co-editors. Upon the publication of the "Digest" Justinian declared by a constitution that all previous law-books and decisions were to be held as superseded and it was forbidden to refer to them in the practice of the courts. During the subsequent years of his reign Justinian pronounced from time to time several new constitutions or laws, some of them making very important changes in certain departments of the law. These (mostly in Greek) were collected and published under the title of "Novellæ" (i.e., "The Novels" or "New Works"). There were, so far as can be ascertained, about one hundred and seventy of these Novels. The Institutes, Digest, Code, and Novels together make up what is known as the Corpus Juris Civilis.

The character of Justinian has been much canvassed, and opinions are not agreed about it. Procopius, in two separate works, has painted him in very different lights. Making allowance, however, for much exaggeration of his abilities by contemporary writers, it may be said that he contrasts favorably with most of the emperors, whether of the earlier or of the later Empire. If his personal virtues be open to doubt (and certainly vanity, avarice, and inconstancy were in no small degree characteristic of him), he, on the other hand, displayed undoubted ability as a ruler, and, in the main, just and upright intentions. He was easy of access, patient of hearing, courteous and affable in discourse, and perfect master of his temper. In the conspiracies against his authority and person he often showed both justice and clemency. He excelled in the private virtues of chastity and temperance; his meals were short and frugal; on solemn fasts he contented himself with water and vegetables, and he frequently passed two days and as many nights without tasting any food. He allowed himself little time for sleep, and was always up before the morning light. His restless application to business and to study, as well as the extent of his learning, have been attested even by his enemies. He was, or professed to be, a poet and philosopher, a lawyer and theologian, a musician and an architect; but the brightest ornament of his reign is the (p. 088) compilation of Roman law which has immortalized his name. He died on November 14, 565, at the age of eighty-three, and in the thirty-eighth year of his reign.

A few words must be said about the legislative reforms carried through by Justinian. He was not only a collector and a codifier of the laws; he also introduced in many directions the most fundamental changes into the substantive law itself. The following were the most important changes. (1) He ameliorated the condition of slaves—depriving their masters of the power of putting them to death. He declared that any one who put a slave to death by his own hand should be guilty of homicide. (2) He greatly revolutionized the law of intestate succession by giving to cognati (relatives on the mother's side) an equal share with agnati (relatives on the father's side) of the same degree. These two changes in the law were probably in a large measure induced by the circumstances of his birth. (3) He made considerable changes in the law of divorce, and as to the property of spouses. (4) He reformed civil procedure in the way of making it uniform, and introducing a system of small-debt courts.[Back to Contents]

By Rt. Rev. Henry Codman Potter, Bishop of New York
(DIED, 604)

St. Augustine.

A complete biography of St. Augustine of Canterbury it is impossible to write: almost all that is known of him is his work as a missionary to the English, and almost the only source of our knowledge of that missionary work is the "Ecclesiastical History" of Bæda. But the mission of St. Augustine was one of the great crises, not only of the history of the Christian Church, but of the history of human civilization. The difference between a number of Celtic churches, with bishops largely subordinate to the abbots of monasteries, included (as it seems) in none of the great Catholic patriarchates, cut off from all communication with the great centres of human thought and life—and a Church of England taking her place, at once independent and subordinate, in the swift development of human progress, both conservative and creative—this difference is quite incalculable. And the mission of St. Augustine made the difference.

The triumph of Christianity depended—apart from its divine authority—upon the thorough organization of the Christian communities; and that organization had for its centre the Episcopacy. But as separate congregations without a bishop could never have escaped disintegration, (p. 089) so the united congregations, with their presbyters and bishop, would have been powerless without some further organization, uniting the bishops, with well-defined regulations, under some recognized hierarchy of authority. Thus arose metropolitan sees, and the great patriarchates of the Catholic Church—Jerusalem, Antioch, Rome, Alexandria, Constantinople. This centralization was rendered necessary by the course of events; but it had otherwise no divine authority and might be modified just as validly as it was created. When the Roman Empire was submerged under the deluge of barbarian races, a yet closer centralization became necessary, at least in the West; and the ark in which floated over that terrible deluge not only the Christian religion, but the remains of ancient civilization, both Greek and Roman, was the patriarchate of Rome. The man who not only clearly perceived, but was absolutely compelled to assume, his awful responsibility in the West, the Saviour at once of the Church and the world, was the splendid pontiff, Gregory the Great; the great pontiff who sent St. Augustine and his companions to preach the gospel to the English conquerors of Britain. If we would clearly understand the work of St. Augustine we must free our minds from the illusion produced by familiar names. One of these is the name Britain. In the time of Gregory the Great the island called by that name was, of course, the same as that on which Julius Cæsar had landed. The barbarians whom Cæsar encountered had been subdued by his successors, and a Roman province had been formed. Roman civilization had been introduced and, one might almost say, had flourished. The Christian religion had found its way thither; there had been Christian congregations and bishops, and even a heresiarch. But Rome, in the struggle for her own existence, had been compelled to withdraw her legions from the province of Britain; and to leave the people not only to their internal dissensions, but to the attacks of the "Scots" and "Picts," from Ireland and the Highlands of Scotland. Then followed the conquest of Britain by the English, as the Teutonic invaders began soon to be called. The Celtic people were largely driven out, including the Celtic Christians. The English were heathens, and the Celtic Christians seem to have made no effort whatever for their conversion. The English, again, were by no means consolidated into an English nation. It was to one division of these English heathens that Gregory the Great sent Augustine.

Even the term "the British Church" is somewhat misleading. There is not the slightest trustworthy evidence, either as to the time when, or the person by whom, Christianity was introduced into Britain. There, of course, as everywhere else, the Church was under the rule of bishops; but, excepting for the purpose of ordaining, the authority of the British bishops seems to have been entirely overshadowed by the authority of the abbots of monasteries. There seems, as we have said, no evidence of anything resembling the patriarchal system among them; nor of any close or frequent communication between the British churches and the rest of Christendom. This is proved, among other things, by their curious reckoning of Easter; which (as Gieseler shows, "Eccle. Hist.," ii., 164, English translation) was by no means identical with that of the Quarto-decimans. (p. 090) It was simply the survival of the use of an old cycle which had been elsewhere superseded by one more accurate and convenient.

The ascertainable biography of St. Augustine begins with his mission, by command of Gregory, to the heathen English; and especially to the subjects of Ethelbert, King of Kent, who had married a Christian lady. There is not the slightest reason for discrediting the story related by Bæda, of the incident which first excited Gregory's interest in the heathen English. The relations between Britain and Rome having come to an end, it is not in the least surprising that even a person so exceptionally well informed should have known nothing about the Teutonic peoples—Angles, Jutes, Saxons—which had driven out the British. That he should have played upon words so suggestive as Angli, Deira, and Ælla, is exactly what might be expected from the author of the "Magna Moralia." The familiar story—he calls it "opinio quæ de beato Gregorio traditione majorum ad nos usque perlata est"—as told by Bæda, is as follows ("Hist. Eccl.," ii., 1):—

It is reported that some merchants, having just arrived at Rome on a certain day, exposed many things for sale in the market-place, and abundance of people resorted thither to buy; Gregory himself went with the rest, and, among other things, some boys were set to sale, their bodies white, their countenances beautiful, and their hair very fine. Having viewed them, he asked, as is said, from what country or nation they were brought? and was told, from the island of Britain, whose inhabitants were of such personal appearance. He again inquired whether those islanders were Christians, or still involved in the errors of paganism? and was informed that they were pagans. Then, fetching a deep sigh from the bottom of his heart, "Alas! what pity," said he, "that the author of darkness is possessed of men of such fair countenances; and that being remarkable for such graceful aspects, their minds should be void of inward grace." He therefore again asked, what was the name of that nation? and was answered that they were called Angles. "Right," said he, "for they have an angelic face, and it becomes such to be co-heirs with the angels in heaven. What is the name," proceeded he, "of the province from which they are brought?" It was replied, that the natives of that place were called Deiri. "Truly are they De ira," said he, "withdrawn from wrath, and called to the mercy of Christ. How is the king of that province called?" They told him his name was Ælla; and he, alluding to the name, said, "Hallelujah, the praise of God the Creator must be sung in those parts."

Gregory was eager to go at once on a mission to the home of these beautiful children, and the then pope gave his consent; but the Roman people could not bear the loss of one already so useful and distinguished, and almost before he had started he was recalled. When, during his own pontificate, Gregory carried out his purpose, it was probably due to a request of Queen Bertha, speaking, most likely, in behalf of some of the Kentish people, made to the Frankish bishops for missionaries. "It has come to our knowledge," writes Gregory, "that, through the mercy of God, the people of the Angli are eagerly desiring to be converted to the Christian faith, but that the priests of their own neighborhood neglect them." (p. 091) When Bertha married Ethelbert it was on condition that she should retain her own religion; and she was accompanied to Kent by a French bishop, named Luidhard, who must have acted chiefly as her private chaplain. Ethelbert nobly kept his word, and thus the piety of Bertha, and her religion, may easily and deeply have impressed the Kentish heathen. That the Celtic bishops and clergy—"sacerdotes e vicinio"—did nothing for the conversion of the heathen English can scarcely be matter of surprise, though possibly of regret. For they were not only Christians, but belonged to the conquered race; whom, apart from their religion, it was the policy of the conquerors to drive out of the country, and who were compelled to take refuge in the remotest districts of the land. The Frankish bishops seem to have done little or nothing in response to Queen Bertha's solicitations; and Gregory ordered Candidus, administrator of the Patrimony of St. Peter in Gaul, to bring up English youths, and have them trained in monasteries, and fitted to be made missionaries to their own land. At length, in the sixth year of his pontificate, he determined to undertake the work himself; and sent from his own monastery of St. Andrew, on the Cælian Hill, in Rome, a company of forty monks, headed by their prior, Augustine.

Their progress at first was rapid. Starting in the summer of A.D. 596, they soon arrived in the neighborhood of Aix, in Provence. But the nearer they came to what should have been their journey's end, the less inclined they were for the work to which they had been appointed. The heathen English were represented as barbarians of unusual ferocity; and the companions of Augustine were as frightened as the companions of Caleb and Joshua. They induced their prior to return to Gregory and seek a release from their perilous task. But Gregory was not a man to be frightened himself, or to have much sympathy with cowards. He wrote, however, with great gentleness: "For as much as it had been better not to begin a good work than to think of desisting from that which has been begun, it behoves you, my beloved sons, to fulfil the good work which, by the help of the Lord, you have undertaken. Let not, therefore, the toil of the journey, nor the tongues of evil-speaking men, deter you: but with all possible earnestness and zeal, perform that which by God's direction you have undertaken." He furnished them with letters to the bishops of Tours, Marseilles, Vienne, and Autun, and also to the metropolitan of Arles. After the lapse of a year they slowly continued their journey, and landed at last at Ebbe's Fleet, in the Isle of Thanet.

As soon as they had landed Augustine sent the interpreters, whom he had obtained from "the nation of the Franks," to tell Ethelbert of his arrival. Ethelbert seems to have been a really noble-hearted man, and had doubtless been attracted by the piety of his wife Bertha. The missionaries told him that they had come from Rome, the great capital of the West, and "had brought a joyful message which most undoubtedly assured to all that took advantage of it, everlasting joys in heaven, and a kingdom that would never end, with the living and true God." The king ordered them to remain in the island where they had landed, and promised that they should be furnished with all necessaries till he should consider what (p. 092) he would do with them. Soon after he came to the island, and conferred with Augustine and his companions in the open air; fearing the possibility of magic enchantments if he met them under any roof. He was much impressed by their ceremonial, their bearing, and their teaching. "Your words and promises," he said, "are very fair, but as they are new to us, and of uncertain import, I cannot approve of them so far as to forsake that which I have so long followed with the whole English nation ["cum omni Anglorum gente:" this by no means implies, it is scarcely necessary to say, an English nation in the modern sense of those words]. But because you are come from far into my kingdom, and, as I conceive, are desirous to impart to us those things which you believe to be true and most beneficial, we will not molest you, but give you favorable entertainment, and take care to supply you with your necessary sustenance; nor do we forbid you to preach, and gain as many as you can to your religion."

By the king's invitation they crossed from Thanet and took their abode in the then rude town of Canterbury, and before long were allowed to worship in St. Martin's Church, with the queen. Their influence gradually increased, and a considerable number of the English were converted. At last Ethelbert himself received baptism (Whitsunday, A.D. 597); and following his example, it is said that on December 25th following—mid-winter!—upward of ten thousand were baptized in the waters of the Swale. Of course, it cannot be supposed that in these mediæval "conversions" of whole tribes or "nations," there was any rational acceptance of the complete theology of the Church. The conversion was rather the acceptance of a discipline, a mode of life; founded indeed on Christian doctrine and in all kinds of subtle ways symbolizing it; but primarily an imitation of a sweeter and purer life, and a more spiritual and suggestive worship. The words of Bæda (i., 26) are worthy of note as indicating the temper both of Gregory and Augustine: "Their conversion the king so far encouraged, as that he compelled none to embrace Christianity, but only showed more affection to the believers, as to his fellow-citizens in the heavenly kingdom. For he had learnt from his instructors and leaders to salvation, that the service of Christ ought to be voluntary, not by compulsion."

Conversion of Ethelbert by Augustine.

Having so far succeeded in his mission, Augustine went to Arles and was consecrated archbishop of the English by the Metropolitan Virgilius. [Bæda says (i., 27): "Archiepiscopus genti Anglorum ordinatus est," the actual see probably being then undetermined.] On his return he despatched Lawrence and Peter to Rome to tell Gregory that the Angli had been converted to the faith, and that he himself (Augustine) had been made a bishop. They were also to bring back the Pope's answers to sundry questions respecting the conduct of the mission which Augustine proposed to him. Both the questions and the answers are highly suggestive. The first question was as to the division of the offerings of the faithful. The second as to differences of "Use" in the celebration of Mass and other divine offices. The answer of Gregory is almost classical, and may well be repeated here: "You know, my brother," he says, "the custom of the Roman Church.... But it pleases me that if you have found anything, (p. 093) whether in the Roman Church, or the church of the Gauls ["Galliarum"], or any church whatever, which may be more pleasing to Almighty God, you carefully make choice of the same and diligently teach the church of the English, which as yet is new in the faith ... whatever you have been able to collect from many churches. For things are not to be loved for the sake of places, but places for the sake of good things." The fourth and fifth questions of Augustine refer to prohibited degrees of marriage, and Gregory replies, as to the marriage of first-cousins, among other objections, "we have learned by experience that no offspring can come of such marriage." To Augustine's inquiry as to his relations with the bishops of Gaul and Britain ["Galliarum Brittaniarumque,"] Gregory replies that Augustine has no authority whatever within the jurisdiction of the metropolitan of Arles; but he adds: "As for all the bishops of Britain ["Brittaniarum"], we commit them to your care, that the unlearned may be taught, the weak strengthened by persuasion, and the perverse corrected by authority." Considering the context—Augustine had been asking whether, under the circumstances, he could consecrate bishops without the presence of any other bishops; and, moreover, he had not as yet come into any kind of contact with the Celtic bishops—it seems probable that "the bishops of Britain" here placed under Augustine's jurisdiction were the bishops to be afterward consecrated by himself, with or without the presence and witness of Gallic or other bishops. Gregory's advice to Augustine, conveyed through the Abbot Mellitus, may well be pondered by the managers of modern missions. He says: "The temples of the idols in that nation [the English] ought not to be destroyed; but let the idols that are in them be destroyed; let holy water be made and sprinkled in the said temples, let altars be erected, and relics placed. For if those temples are well built it is requisite that they be converted from the worship of devils to the service of the true God; that the nation ... adoring the true God, may the more familiarly resort to the places to which they have been accustomed." He even suggests that their sacrifices—which were largely festivals, as much social as religious—should be discontinued, indeed, as sacrifices, but changed into banquets and associated with the day of the dedication of a church, or the "nativity" of a holy martyr. And all this on the perfectly sound principle, too often forgotten, that "he who strives to reach the highest place raises himself by steps and degrees, and not by leaps [gradibus vel passibus non autem saltibus elevatus]."

At last Augustine was brought into contact with the Celtic bishops. It was clear that their assistance would be very valuable in the endeavor to convert the English, and also that their peculiar usages would convey the impression of far greater diversity of doctrine than actually existed. Augustine was willing to make much concession. There were three conditions of union which seemed to him indispensable: agreement as to the time of keeping Easter; agreement as to the mode of administering baptism; and hearty co-operation in mission work among the heathen. We may leave out of consideration alleged miracles; also the curious, or even the ludicrous, test of a divine mission suggested by "the aged hermit" of the story. The Celtic bishops refused any sort of co-operation, and (p. 094) Augustine left them, not without a solemn warning: "If they would not have peace with their brethren, they would have to accept war from their enemies; if they would not preach the way of life to the nation of the Angli, they would have to suffer at their hands the vengeance of death." It is scarcely credible—though in religious controversy almost anything is credible—that a warning so obviously wise, and even charitable, should have been interpreted as a mere threat, and as evidence that Augustine himself was the author of the calamities that afterward befell the Celtic Church.

Such is the simple story of the mission and the life—for we read nothing about his life but his mission—of Augustine, the first archbishop of Canterbury. He was not able to carry out the whole scheme of Gregory. He was not the first to introduce Christianity into Britain. But, apart from Queen Bertha's private chaplain, he was the first to introduce Christianity to the English—those Teutonic tribes which were the ancestors of the English of to-day. Who first brought the gospel to the Roman province of Britain no one knows; nor is it of the slightest importance that anyone should know. But that there should have been two Christian religions in England when the nation was being consolidated, would have been fatal both to nation and church. We conclude this brief notice by a passage from two historians, neither of whom could possibly be suspected of any undue subservience to the modern Church of Rome. The first is from Mr. Green's "The Making of England" (pp. 314, 315); he is speaking of the results of the Synod of Whitby (A.D. 664).

"It is possible that lesser political motives may have partly swayed Oswin in his decision, for the revival of Mercia had left him but the alliance of Kent in the south, and this victory of the Kentish Church would draw tighter the bonds which linked together the two powers. But we may fairly credit him with a larger statesmanship. Trivial in fact as were the actual points of difference which parted the Roman Church from the Irish, the question to which communion Northumbria should belong was, as we have seen, of immense moment to the after-fortunes of England. It was not merely that, as Wilfrid said, to fight against Rome was to fight against the world. Had England, indeed, clung to the Irish Church, it must have remained spiritually isolated from the bulk of Western Christendom. Fallen as Rome might be from its older greatness, it preserved the traditions of civilization, of letters, and art and law. Its faith still served as a bond which held together the nations that sprang from the wreck of the Empire. To repulse Rome was to condemn England to isolation. But grave as such considerations were, they were of little weight beside the influence which Oswin's decision had on the very unity of the English race. The issue of the Synod not only gave England a share in the religious unity of Western Christendom; it gave her a religious unity at home. However dimly such thoughts may have presented themselves to Oswin's mind, it was the instinct of a statesman that led him to set aside the love and gratitude of his youth, and to secure the religious oneness of England in the Synod of Whitby."

The other is from Milman's "History of Latin Christianity" (ii., 198, 199, (p. 095) Amer. Edition): "The effect of Christianity on Anglo-Saxon England was at once to re-establish a connection both between the remoter parts of the island with each other, and of England with the rest of the Christian world. They ceased to dwell apart, a race of warlike, unapproachable barbarians, in constant warfare with the bordering tribes, or occupied in their own petty feuds or inroads, rarely, as in the case of Ethelbert, connected by intermarriage with some neighboring Teutonic state. Though the Britons were still secluded in the mountains, or at extremities of the land, by animosities which even Christianity could not allay, yet the Picts and Scots, and the parts of Ireland which were occupied by Christian monasteries, were now brought into peaceful communication, first with the kingdom of Northumbria, and through Northumbria with the rest of England. The intercourse with Europe was of far higher importance, and tended much more rapidly to introduce the arts and habits of civilization into the land. There was a constant flow of missionaries across the British Channel, who possessed all the knowledge which still remained in Europe. All the earlier metropolitans of Canterbury and the bishops of most of the southern sees, were foreigners; they were commissioned at Rome, if not consecrated there; they travelled backward and forward in person, or were in constant communication with that great city, in which were found all the culture, the letters, the arts, and sciences which had survived the general wreck."

Nobody need disparage the Celtic Church; but it is not too much to say that the Celtic Church could never have preserved Christianity in Britain against the victorious Saxon or English heathen. But from the very beginning the Church of England has retained the traces of her early origin, when Gregory the Great was Pope, when the claim to be universal bishop was deemed untenable, when even the ritual of the Mass was still in unessential details flexible.[Back to Contents]

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The Arabian "Prophet" was born at the city of Mecca, some time during the sixth century, but the precise year has, after much discussion, still been left in doubt. Hottinger says, A.D. 571, Reiske, A.D. 572, and Gagnier, A.D. 578. His lineage has also been the subject of great altercation, one party exalting him above most of his countrymen, while the other degraded him to the lowest rank—particularly contemporary Christian writers, who were desirous of rendering him an object of contempt; and in the same degree that the Christians felt themselves called upon to degrade the Arabian prophet, so did the Mahometans think themselves compelled to exalt him. Mahomet successfully vindicated for himself a high (p. 096) lineage among his countrymen; the tribe of Koreish, to which he belonged, laying claim to Ishmael as their progenitor, and this claim, arising from the vanity of the tribe, was eagerly laid hold of and supported by his votaries.

Two camel ridders.

Abdallah, the father of Mahomet, was the youngest son of Abd al Motâlleb, the son of Hashem. "Hashem," say the authors of the "Modern Universal History," "succeeded his father Abd al Menaf in the principality of the Koreish, and consequently in the government of Mecca, and the custody of the Caaba." So far the genealogy of the prophet is supported by authentic history—that he was descended from the princes of his people cannot be denied. This descent from Ishmael, Gibbon, after Sale, thus disproves: "Abulfeda and Gagnier describe the popular and approved genealogy of the prophet. At Mecca I would not dispute its authenticity; at Lausanne, I will venture to observe, 1st, That, from Ishmael to Mahomet, a period of two thousand five hundred years, they reckon thirty instead of seventy-five generations. 2d. That the modern Bedoweens are ignorant of their history, and careless of their pedigree."

Abdallah, though of high lineage, was possessed of little wealth; and as he died while his son was yet an infant, we may easily suppose that little to have been diminished by the rapacity of his kindred. At the early age of six years Mahomet lost his mother, Amina; and two years after, his grandfather, Abd al Motâlleb, who when dying, earnestly confided the helpless orphan to the care of Abu Taleb, the eldest of his sons, and the successor to his authority. From him, though treated with kindness, Mahomet received a scanty education; but whether that education was equal or inferior to that of his countrymen, it is not easy to discover. Tradition states that at the time of Mahomet's first declaration concerning his mission, only one man in Mecca could write. If so, it is nothing wonderful that Mahomet, like the rest of his kindred, should also he unable to write. At thirteen years of age, he is said to have made a journey to Syria, in the caravan of his uncle, and, some years after, to have performed the same journey in the capacity of factor to his mistress, Cadijah.

The next remarkable event in the life of Mahomet, is his appearance in the character of a soldier. At the early age of fourteen, he served under his uncle, who commanded the troops of his tribe, the Koreish, in their wars against the rival tribes of Kenan and Hawazan. The circumstance is worthy of remark, as illustrative of the perfect compatibility between the business of a merchant and that of a soldier, among the Arabian people, and upon the constant and rapid transition from one to the other.

(p. 097) By the assistance of his uncle he became soon after the factor of a rich trading widow in his native city. The animosity of his enemies has degraded the confidential agent into a driver of camels. It has been confidently and constantly asserted that he was a menial servant in the household of his mistress, Cadijah; while, in truth, he was employed to carry on her mercantile transactions, and to superintend her affairs. In this situation of factor, his conduct and integrity gained him the affections of his mistress. Cadijah was not, in the eyes of her people, degraded by an alliance with the grandson of their prince; and in her own estimation, by bestowing her hand and fortune upon Mahomet, she gained a young, handsome, and affectionate husband. Twenty years of constancy, of kind and respectful attention, on the part of Mahomet, fully justified her choice. It may, indeed, be imagined, and we confess the supposition bears the appearance of some plausibility, that the affection of Cadijah was not uninfluenced by the handsome person and insinuating eloquence of her youthful suitor. And we cannot refuse our applause to the conduct of Mahomet, who, whatever might have been her motives, never afterward forgot the benefits he had received from his benefactress, never made her repent having so bestowed her affection, or grieve at having placed her fortune and her person at his absolute disposal. Cadijah, at the time of her marriage, was forty; Mahomet, twenty-five years of age. Till the age of sixty-four years, when she died, did Cadijah enjoy the undivided affection of her husband; "in a country where polygamy was allowed, the pride or tenderness of the venerable matron was never insulted by the society of a rival. After her death he placed her in the rank of the four perfect women: with the sister of Moses, the mother of Jesus, and Fatima, the best beloved of his daughters. 'Was she not old?' said Ayesha, with the insolence of a blooming beauty; 'has not Allah given you a better in her place?' 'No, by Allah!' said Mahomet, with an effusion of honest gratitude, 'there never can be a better! She believed in me, when men despised me: she relieved my wants when I was poor and persecuted by the world.'"

Commerce now occupied his attention, and till the age of forty nothing remarkable happened in the life of the future prophet. His marriage with Cadijah raised him to an equality with the first citizens of Mecca, gave an importance to his opinions, and, combined with the power of his family, probably rendered it impossible to punish or interrupt the first steps he made toward the propagation of his new religion. When relieved from the pressure of indigence, his mind seems almost immediately to have been turned toward religious meditation. The result of this meditation was an opinion exceedingly unfavorable to the religion of his countrymen. The first statement of this conviction was met rather by ridicule than anger, being considered the fantasy of a dreaming enthusiast, who was little to be dreaded, and unworthy of opposition. We are told that he retired to a cave in Mount Hara, near Mecca, where, as he assured his first proselyte, his wife, he regularly received the visits of the angel Gabriel. This tale his wife believed, or affected to believe. The next on the list of true believers were Zeid, the servant of the prophet, and Ali, the son of his uncle, Abu Taleb. (p. 098) The impetuous youth, disdaining his two predecessors in the true faith, proudly styled himself the first of believers. The next and most important convert was Abu Bekr, a powerful citizen of Mecca, by whose influence a number of persons possessing great authority were induced to profess the religion of Islam. Three years were spent in the arduous task of converting six of these men. They were afterward his chief companions, and with a few others, were the only proselytes to the new religion before it became publicly known.

The apostle, who was at first derided, came at length to be feared. The people flocked to hear his doctrines, and as they retired, wondering and believing, general consternation reigned among the governors of Mecca. Frightened by his growing influence, they imprudently endeavored to arrest the evil by punishing the offender. For some time, however, the power of Abu Taleb, the prophet's uncle, defended him against these hostile attacks, which served, by manifesting the alarm and hatred of the nobles, to increase Mahomet's fame and importance. Persecution gave him strength by bringing him before the public. Once known, he gained sympathizing listeners among the benevolent, because a persecuted man; and blindly believing votaries among the ignorant and fearful, because a bold and vehement declaimer against wickedness, as well as an eloquent describer of the horrible torments attached to unbelief. In the seventh year of his mission, the heads of the tribe of Koreish made a solemn league one with another, engaging themselves to have no commerce or connection with the families of Hashem and Al Motâlleb. While Abu Taleb lived the league was of no avail; the power of the uncle defended the nephew against the designs of his enemies. At length, at the end of the seventh year, Abu Taleb died; and a few days after his death Mahomet was left a widower, by the decease of Cadijah. In his affliction he termed this fatal year the year of mourning.

The unprotected prophet was now completely exposed to the attacks of his enemies. His only safety was in flight, and had not the city of Medina been friendly to his cause, the religion of Islam would have been crushed in the bud. The fame of Mahomet, however, had extended far beyond the walls of his native town. Distance, by shrouding him in mystery, increased his influence. While he was scorned and derided at Mecca, he was worshipped at Medina. A secret deputation from the city of Medina waited on the apostle, and an alliance was entered into "during two secret and nocturnal interviews, on a hill in the suburbs of Mecca." Seventy-three men and two women having professed the faith of Islam, as well as some yet unbelievers, met the prophet and proffered him assistance. "What recompense," said they, "have we to expect, should we fall in your defence?" "Paradise," exclaimed the confident apostle. They promised him fidelity and allegiance.

From a fugitive Mahomet became a monarch; no sooner had he arrived at Medina than he found himself at the head of an army devoted to his person, obedient to his will, and blind believers in his holy office. The fugitives from Mecca and the auxiliaries of Medina (the two parties into which Mahomet's followers were now divided) gathered round their chief, and with friendly emulation (p. 099) vied with each other in obedience and in valor. To prevent all jealousy between the brethren, Mahomet wisely gave each one a friend and companion from the rival band; each fugitive had for his brother one of the auxiliaries. Their fraternity was continued in peace and in war, and during the life of the prophet their union was undisturbed by the voice of discord.

The commands of the prophet were followed to the letter. The first warlike attempt of the believers was, nevertheless, unsuccessful. Mahomet having learned that a caravan, the property of the hostile Koreish, was on its way from Syria to Mecca, despatched his uncle Hamza, with a party of thirty horse, to capture it. Hamza, however, discovering the caravan to be guarded by 300 men, desisted from his hostile enterprise, and returned without the expected booty. On the plain of Beder, Mahomet, at the head of his troops, effaced the shame of this failure. A rich caravan, proceeding to Mecca, and guarded by Abu Sofian, with between thirty and forty men, occasioned the contest. The spies of Mahomet informed him that this rich and apparently easy prey was within his grasp. He advanced with a few followers in pursuit of it; but before he could overtake the unprotected band, Abu Sofian had sent for a reinforcement from Mecca. A troop consisting of 950 men, among whom were the chief persons of that city, instantly obeyed the summons. Mahomet was posted between the caravan and the coming succor, being able to oppose to this formidable force no more than 313 soldiers, mounted for the most part on camels; some few (according to some authors, not more than two) being mounted on horses.

Undismayed by this disparity of force, Mahomet determined to try the event of a battle, and risk his fortune and perhaps his life upon the contest. The troops were persuaded to engage the superior forces of the enemy, and for the present to abandon the tempting prize of Abu Sofian's rich caravan. Mahomet animated them by his prayers, and in the name of the Most High promised them certain victory. However assured he might have been of divine assistance, he was careful to let slip no human means of securing success. An entrenchment was made to cover the flanks of his troop, and a rivulet flowed past the spot he had chosen for his encampment, and furnished his army with a constant supply of water. When the enemy appeared, descending from the hills, Mahomet ordered his soldiers to the attack; but before the armies could engage, three combatants, Ali, Al Hareth, and Hamza, on the side of the Moslems, and three of the Koreish, joined in single conflict. The Moslem warriors were victorious, and thus gave to both armies a presage of the coming engagement. The prophet, with Abu Bekr, at the commencement of the battle, mounted a pulpit, fervently demanding of God the assistance of Gabriel and three thousand angels; but when his army appeared to waver, he started from his place of prayer, mounted a horse, and flinging a handful of dust into the air, exclaiming, "May their faces be confounded!" rushed upon the enemy. Fanaticism rendered his followers invincible; the numerous forces of the Koreish were unable to break the ranks or resist the furious attacks of his confiding soldiers. They fled, leaving seventy of their principal officers dead upon the field, and seventy prisoners in the hands of the enemy. (p. 100) Of the Moslems, only fourteen were slain. The names of the slaughtered warriors have been handed down to posterity, and enrolled among the list of pious martyrs whom the faithful Mussulman is taught to worship.

Space will not permit us to enumerate the various battles fought by Mahomet; according, however, to the computation of some authors, no less than twenty-seven expeditions were undertaken, in which he personally commanded, and in which nine pitched battles were fought. During the same period, he was besieged in Medina, by the implacable Koreish; but, by his own skill, and the bravery of his troops, he repelled all their attacks. In the sixth year of the Hegira, with 1,400 men, he meditated what he asserted to be a peaceful pilgrimage to the holy temple of Mecca. Entrance into the city being refused by the people, the prophet, in his anger, determined to force his way. At this critical juncture an ambassador was despatched from Mecca to demand a peace. The policy of Mahomet induced him to lay aside his determination of assaulting his native city, and to accept the peaceful offers of his countrymen. A truce of ten years was consequently concluded between the prophet and the Koreish.

Two years had hardly elapsed when Mahomet accused the people of Mecca of a breach of their engagement. When a man is really desirous of quarrelling, a pretext is never wanting. He was now strong, and his enemies were weak. His superstitious reverence for the city of his nativity, and for the temple it contained, served also to influence his determination for war. The time since the concluding of the truce had been skilfully employed in seducing the adherents of the Koreish, and converting to his religion the chief citizens of Mecca. With an army of 10,000 men he marched to besiege it, and no sooner did he appear before the walls than the city surrendered at discretion.

The Muezzin.

The religion of Mahomet may be considered now to have been permanently settled. The conquest of Mecca and of the Koreish was the signal for the submission of the rest of Arabia. The events of the prophet's after-life cease, therefore, to possess an interest for a Western reader. They were, for the most part, merely expeditions undertaken for the purpose of reducing the petty tribes who still resisted his authority, and were all of them eventually successful. The influence and religion of Mahomet continued rapidly to extend; his difficulties were over; and the hour of his prosperity has nothing to instruct or to amuse the general reader. Between the taking of Mecca and the period of his death, not more than three years elapsed. In that short period he had destroyed the idols of Arabia; had extended his conquests to the borders of the Greek and Persian empires; had rendered his name formidable to those once mighty kingdoms; had tried his arms against the undisciplined troops of the former, and defeated them in a desperate encounter at Muta. His throne was now firmly established, and an impetus given to the Arabian nations that in a few years induced them to invade, and enabled them to subdue, a great portion of the globe. India, Persia, the Greek Empire, the whole of Asia Minor, Egypt, Barbary, and Spain, (p. 101) were reduced by their victorious arms. The Muezzin[10] was heard throughout an empire greater than Alexander's; and though the temporal power of his successors has now faded to a shadow, the religion which he founded still holds sway throughout all that empire, and is even endeavoring to extend itself. Although Mahomet did not live to see such mighty conquests, he laid the first foundations of this wide-spreading dominion, and established over the whole of Arabia, and some part of Syria, the religion he had proclaimed.[Back to Contents]

By Sir J. Bernard Burke, LL.D.

Family scene.

No name in English history is so popular, and so justly popular, as that of Alfred the Great. That he taught his people to defend themselves and defeat their enemies, is the least of his many claims to our grateful admiration; he did much more than this; he gave the first impulse to the spirit of civilization, and taught a horde of wild barbarians that there were other and worthier pursuits than war or the pleasures of the table. In fact, he was one of those highly gifted men that would seem to be raised up especially by Providence to meet certain emergencies, or to advance the career of nations. Such was the hero, so beautifully recorded by the pen of Edmund Burke, and of whose history we now purpose to give a slight sketch for the amusement of those who might turn in weariness from a more ample record.

Alfred the Great was born at Wantage, in Berkshire, in the year 849, one of the most dreary and calamitous periods of English chronicle. He was the youngest son of Ethelwulph, a mild and virtuous prince, but full of a timid piety (p. 102) which utterly disqualified him for the circumstances in which he was placed. According to the historian Asser, young Alfred, being of a more comely person and sweeter disposition than his elder brothers, became the favorite of both his parents, and was sent by them to Rome, while yet a child, in order that he might be anointed king by the Pope himself. But though the feeble piety of Ethelwulph showed this especial instance of regard for his son, he altogether neglected his education, and the young prince in his twelfth year had not yet learned to read or write. Fortunately for himself, and still more so for the kingdom he was afterward to govern, he possessed a mind too active to be entirely subdued by the most unfavorable circumstances. If he could not read for himself, he nevertheless loved to listen to the rude but inspiring strains of Saxon poetry when recited by others, and had he not been a hero and a statesman, he might probably have been a poet. At length, as the old chronicler tells us—"on a certain day, his mother was shewing him and his brothers a Saxon book of poetry, which she held in her hand, and said, 'Whichever of you shall the soonest learn this volume, shall have it for his own.'" Thus stimulated, Alfred bent himself to the task with all that steady ardor which so strongly characterized him in after-life, and easily won the prize from his tardy competitors. This gave a fresh impulse to his natural appetite for learning; even his passion for the chase could not divert him from earnest study; nor was he to be deterred by what might have been a better excuse for indolence, the incessant tortures of the secret malady which had attacked him while yet a child, and which never left him but with life. What this secret disease was, the old chroniclers have forgotten, or for some reasons omitted, to explain.

In 871, Alfred succeeded his brother in the sovereignty of Wessex, at a period when the whole country was suffering under the ravages of the Danes, who burnt, plundered, and destroyed without the least distinction of age, sex, or profession. Being still pagans, the convent was no more sacred to them than the palace or the cottage. They waged war upon all alike, and the general misery was yet farther increased by a raging pestilence, and the internal dissensions of the people.

Alfred now for the first time took the field against these brave, but ruthless, invaders. He was defeated; yet such was his skill and courage, that he was able to maintain the struggle till at length a peace, or rather a truce, was concluded between the combatants, for these intervals of calm seldom lasted beyond a year. Neither was this the worst of the evils that beset the Saxon prince. Any compact he might make with one party of the Danes was considered binding only upon that party, and had no influence whatever upon others of their countrymen, who had different leaders and different interests. Thus, upon the present occasion, Alfred had no sooner made terms with one piratical horde than he was invaded by a fresh body of them under Rollo; and when he had compelled these to abandon Wessex, and seek for an easier conquest on the shores of Normandy, he was attacked by fresh bodies of Danes already settled in the other parts of England. So long, however, as they ventured to meet him in the open field, his skill secured him the victory; till, taught by repeated defeats, they had recourse (p. 103) to another system of tactics. "They used," says Burke, "suddenly to land and ravage a part of the country; when a force opposed them they retired to their ships and passed to some other part, which in a like manner they ravaged, and then retired as before, until the country, entirely harassed, pillaged, and wasted by their incursions, was no longer able to resist them. Then they ventured safely to enter a desolated and disheartened country and to establish themselves in it."

To meet this system of warfare it was necessary to create a navy at a time when the Saxons knew not how to build ships, or to manage them when built. But the genius of Alfred triumphed over every obstacle. He brought shipwrights from the Continent, himself assisted the workmen in their labors, and engaged Frisian seamen, the neighbors of the Danes, and, like them, pirates.

The new armament being completed, Alfred fell upon a Danish fleet which was bringing round a large force from Wareham to the relief of their friends, besieged in Exeter. These he defeated at all points, taking or destroying no less than one hundred and twenty, already damaged by a previous storm, and perhaps, on that account, less capable of defence. The Danes, whom he held cooped up in Exeter, found themselves in consequence compelled to surrender, and, giving hostages not to trouble Wessex any longer, they settled themselves in Mercia, after the example of so many of their countrymen, and became occupants of the land they had before ravaged. Thus Alfred, in the seventh year of his reign, had lost nothing by the war waged under so many difficulties and disadvantages, enough to have overwhelmed a man of less energy and genius; he still retained that portion of the kingdom which lies south of the Thames, the only part ever belonging to him in separate sovereignty, while the Danes possessed all the country on the northern side of the river. The rest of the land was thus divided: Halfdane reigned in Northumberland; his brother in East Anglia; and Guthrum, Osketel, and Amund, governed with their subordinate king, Ceowulph, in Mercia.

There now occurs a difficulty in the life of Alfred, unexplained by the most industrious of his historians from any satisfactory record. We have just seen him triumphant, and at peace with his defeated enemies. Suddenly, without the notice of any lost battle, we find him seeking refuge in the cottage of a herdsman in the Isle of Ethelingeye, or Island of Nobles, now called Athelney. This spot, scarcely comprising two acres of ground, was surrounded on all sides by marshes, so that it could be approached only in a boat, and in it flourished a considerable grove of alders, in which were stags, goats, and other animals. Here it is that the romantic incident of the burnt cake is supposed to have occurred; a story told by many of the old writers, but nowhere so fully as in the Latin life of St. Neot. There we read that "Alfred, a fugitive, and exiled from his people, came by chance and entered the house of a poor herdsman, and there remained some days in poverty, concealed and unknown.

"Now it happened that on the Sabbath day, the herdsman, as usual, led his cattle to their accustomed pastures, and the king remained alone with the man's wife. She, as necessity required, placed a few loaves, which some call loudas, on (p. 104) a pan, with fire underneath, to be baked for her husband's repast on his return, as well as for her own.

"While she was of need busied, peasant-like, upon other affairs, she went anxious to the fire, and found the bread burning on the other side. She immediately assailed the king with reproaches. 'Why, man, do you sit thinking there, and are too proud to turn the bread? Whatever be your family, with such manners and sloth, what trust can be put in you hereafter? If you were a nobleman, you will be glad to eat the bread which you neglect to attend to.' The king, though stung by her upbraidings, yet heard her with patience and mildness, and roused by her scolding, took care to bake her bread as she wished."

This fable has been variously narrated; some accounts making the disguised prince busy in forming for himself a bow with arrows and other instruments of war, while the woman gives vent to her indignation in rhyme:

"To turn the burning cakes you have forgot,
Prompt as you are to eat them when they're hot."

In a short time the king's retreat became known to his adherents, who flocking to him in numbers, he soon found himself enabled to carry on a sort of guerilla warfare upon the nearest Danes. Growing bolder from the general success of these sallies, he at length determined upon more decisive measures; but before making the attempt, it was expedient to learn the actual condition of his enemy. With this view he assumed the costume of a Saxon minstrel, and ventured into the Danish camp at Chippenham, about thirty miles distant from his stronghold among the marshes. In this disguise he went from tent to tent, and, as some of the chroniclers tell us, was admitted into the tent of Guthrum himself, the Danish leader, his quality of gleeman assuring safety even to a Saxon. Having obtained the necessary information, he returned to Athelney, which he finally left on the seventh week after Easter, and rode to Egbert's Stone, in the eastern part of Selwood, or the Great Wood. Here he was met by all the neighboring folk of Somersetshire, Wiltshire, and Hampshire, who had not, for fear of the pagans, fled beyond the sea. Once more he encountered his enemies, and with a success almost as marvellous as the vision of St. Neot, which announced it, he routed the Danes at Ethendune with so much slaughter that they were glad to obtain peace on such terms as he chose to dictate. Guthrum embraced Christianity, and became the adopted son of Alfred.

The king's next care was to endeavor at amalgamating the Danes, who had settled in the country, with the victorious Saxons; a wise policy, and as wisely carried out. The result of it was, that when new hordes of invaders poured down upon England, they met with no encouragement from their countrymen already established in the island, and for want of this support were easily put to flight. Nor was it by land only that Alfred proved his superiority, being no less successful by sea against the Danes of East Anglia. These he defeated off their adopted coast, and captured thirteen of their ships, with all the treasure in them.

King Alfred visiting a monastery school.

Fearful as were the ravages committed by the Danes, they were yet, like (p. 105) many others of the evils of life, productive in the end of good. Before their invasion of the country, Wessex, Mercia, East Anglia, and Northumberland existed as four independent kingdoms. The last three they subdued in a little time to their own power, but being in turn defeated by Alfred, the conquered states fell to him, and this led the way to their final consolidation into a single kingdom. It was, however, a work of time, for the turbulent spirit of the Northmen required long and judicious treatment to make them lay down the sword, and take up the spade and sickle.

Peace being at length restored, Alfred, who was a full century in advance of his people, commenced in earnest the arduous task of civilization. He called about him from all parts the most learned men of the day, and, setting the example in his own person, did more in a few years for the general advancement than had been previously effected in as many ages. Deficient himself in cultivation, but a giant in intellect, he devoted himself to study amid care, toil, and disease, mastered the Latin tongue, and—if we may believe William of Malmsbury—translated almost all that was known of Roman literature into Saxon. His clear and capacious mind was pious without bigotry, and while he reverenced the Pope as universal vicar, according to the doctrines of his age, he had yet none of the religious weakness of his father, but governed his kingdom in absolute independence of the Roman see. At the same time, no prince was more earnest in advancing the general interests of religion, which he considered, truly enough, essential to the well-being of the country. He rebuilt the ruined monasteries, added largely to the endowments of those that had escaped the barbarous invaders, and gave every encouragement to the ecclesiastics who came recommended to his favor by ability or virtue.

While thus employed in the arts of peace, Alfred did not for an instant neglect the military defences of his kingdom, without which, indeed, he would have been like an improvident husbandman, who should carefully cultivate his land, but leave it unhedged and unprotected. One of his most efficient measures for this purpose, was the building of a new kind of galleys, which "were twice as long, twice as high, sailed more quickly, and were less unsteady than those of the Danes; some of these ships had sixty oars, some more." In addition to these naval improvements, his genius, which seemed to adapt itself alike to all arts, suggested a complete revolution in the existing state of military tactics, both in the field and in fortifications. He was, however, feebly seconded by his people; they had not yet arrived at that degree of practical wisdom which teaches men to endure a present pain for the sake of a future benefit, and could with difficulty be brought to make preparations against dangers which were still remote from them.

Had Alfred done no more than what has been already mentioned, he would have deserved the lasting gratitude of his countrymen. But, in addition to all this, his services as a legislator must be taken into the account. If we judge of the system established by him, with reference to the age in which, and for which, it was produced, we shall find that in this respect also, the great Alfred stands (p. 106) without a rival. He had no help from the accumulated wisdom of ages; his enactments were to a great extent the result of his own mind and genius; or, at least, we may say of him, that he was the most original of legislators.

Peace had lasted for what in those days must be held a very considerable period. But now the storm burst forth again as violently as ever. In the year 893 a famine visited the coast of France, and of so sweeping a kind, that the Danes, who had settled there under Hastings, determined to relieve themselves by a piratical attack upon Kent. Having landed without opposition, for Hastings had taken the English by surprise, he formed two encampments, the one at Appledore, the other at Milton, only twenty miles apart; there they were joined by many of their countrymen, who poured in from the north and east, notwithstanding their oaths, and that they had given hostages for their good conduct to the king of Wessex. Incredible as it may now seem, the invaders were allowed for a whole year to retain possession of the land thus acquired, without any attempt being made to dislodge them. The chroniclers of the time, however, tell us that this delay was occasioned by the necessity of providing against the faithlessness of their brethren, who, although they had not yet revolted, were hardly to be trusted without some farther security for their loyal adherence to the pledges already given. Having taken the necessary measures, Alfred then attacked Hastings, compelled him to sue for peace, and next turned his arms against a body of these pirates who had established themselves at Farnham. With them, too, he was no less successful; but while he was thus occupied, the East-Anglian and Northumbrian Danes seized the opportunity of revolt, and sailed in two fleets for the coast of Devonshire. These also he defeated, though even then it required no less than three years to drive these new invaders from the country.

And now, in the year 901, having fulfilled his earthly mission as the defender and civilizer of his people, the great and good King Alfred expired, on October 26th, six days before the Mass of All Saints—not less beloved by his contemporaries than admired by after-ages.[Back to Contents]

By Rev. Dr. Tweedie

John Huss.

John Huss, a reformer before the Reformation, and the martyr of Constance, was born about the year 1373. His birthplace was Hussinetz, a village of Bohemia. His parentage was humble, and his early toils and privations formed the school in which he was trained for future hardships and sufferings. He studied at the university of Prague; and some of his teachers were men somewhat in advance of their age. In the year 1396 Huss received his master's degree, and began to (p. 107) lecture in his university in 1398. In 1400 he was appointed confessor to the Queen of Bohemia; and in 1401 he became president of the philosophical faculty of Prague. The corruptions of his day, especially among the Romish priesthood, early suggested deep thoughts to this ardent man, and he found a few who were like-minded with himself among those who resided at Prague. Some of these entered into an arrangement for spreading truth as purely as it was then known; Huss was chosen their preacher, and there, in a place appropriately called "Bethlehem," or the House of Bread, he "refreshed the common people with the bread of holy preaching." The impression which he produced was profound. A fervent love, a holy life, glowing appeals, and a gentle manner, all helped to make him a master in grace, but soon brought him into collision with dark, mediæval minds.

Here, then, is another decided and heroic man who has entered the ranks of the friends of truth. He will have much to do and much to endure—his patron will become his persecutor, and his friends will cast him out—if he is to assail the corruptions of the year 1400. But Huss was not the man to be damped by danger. His only inquiry was, What is duty?—he will do it at all hazards, and let us consider how; for in considering it, we see another example of the need of heroic decision in a world like ours, if man would really benefit his brother man. As early as the year 1391, the Bohemian reformer was studying the works of the great Englishman of that age; and all these things helped to urge him forward in the path in which he resolved to move. An archbishop might thwart him, and try to put him down. A whole university might oppose some of his measures. Wickliff's books might be burned, and loud remonstrances be heard. As a result, students, variously estimated at from 5,000 to 44,000 might forsake the university of Prague. But unmoved by such commotions, Huss went boldly forward.

But, intrepid as he was, Huss needed all his intrepidity. One of his friends was first thrown into prison, and then banished for his boldness; and Huss had to appeal to the archbishop, the chief agent in the persecution. "What is this," he cried "that men stained with innocent blood—men guilty of every crime—shall be found walking abroad with impunity, while humble priests, who spend all their efforts to destroy sin ... are cast into dungeons as heretics, and must suffer banishment for preaching the gospel?"

Matters soon reached a crisis. Huss was summoned to Italy to defend his doctrines, and all Bohemia was roused by that step. The future martyr was not permitted to go—it would have been to sacrifice his life. Meanwhile Queen (p. 108) Sophia used her influence on his behalf. The king wrote to the Pope and the cardinal in his favor. He demanded liberty for Huss to preach, and insisted that all actions against him should cease, so that for a while the persecution was stayed. But at last Huss was pronounced a heretic; and now he is one stage nearer to Constance and the funeral pile. On the way, however, he could exclaim, "Where I see anything at variance with the doctrines of Christ, I will not obey, though the stakes were staring me in the face." That was his maxim all through life; and in such an age such heroism in such a cause was the harbinger of death.

At one stage of these life and death struggles, Huss had to do battle against a whole theological faculty; and that and similar contests trained him to a boldness and decision which was constantly growing. But he had now to separate, for the truth's sake, from friends whom he had prized through life. His pathway, indeed, is gradually becoming more narrow, as well as more rough—he is one of those who must often walk alone.

Indulgences were now attacked by him in public disputations. About this period some of his friends were condemned to death because they objected to indulgences, and Huss took up their cause. He hastened to the Senate House, and pleaded for the three condemned men. He made their danger his own, and declared that he, the teacher, not they, the disciples, should die. In spite of his efforts, and in violation of promises given that no blood should be shed, his three friends were hurried to execution; and what could be the result of that step, but a more intense antagonism, a more resolute decision? On a subsequent occasion, accordingly, Huss appeared before the king and his council, to defend what he reckoned the right. He offered, with characteristic ardor, to be bound to die at the stake if he did not make good his views, provided his eight opponents would do the same. But all other struggles were soon merged in the great conflict with Rome itself. The Pope had determined to put down Huss, and he was excommunicated with the most terrible of papal forms. If he did not submit in twenty days, the ban was to be proclaimed against him in all churches; all who harbored him were to be laid under an interdict, and Huss himself was to be burned according to law.

The King of Bohemia had urged Huss to leave Prague for a time, in the hope that peace might thus be restored. He complied, and, like Luther in the Wartburg, in the Castle of Kozi-hradek wrote some of his most important works. Never was more determined courage displayed by any man in similar circumstances than by Huss in that castle.

From his hiding-place Huss often went abroad and preached to the crowds who flocked to hear him; but the Council of Constance is now at hand, for we are referring to the year 1414, and he is to proceed thither under a safe-conduct from Sigismund, Emperor of Germany, with the assurance that if he could not submit to the decision of the Council, the emperor would send him back unharmed to Bohemia. This was an opportunity for which Huss had longed. He would now, he thought, deliver his message and uphold the truth before assembled (p. 109) potentates, and proceeded to Prague to prepare for the council.[11] He there publicly challenged all his opponents to convict him of error if they could, and proved that he was valiant for the truth as long as he was free.

Huss set out for Constance on October 11, 1414, with two faithful knights to protect him by the way. Even in Germany he was cordially welcomed by many. He courted opportunities of making known his views, and at Nuremberg, in particular, he enjoyed such an opportunity to the full. He reached Constance on November 3d, where his enemies were busily employed, and he was speedily posted as a vile heretic; indeed, it was soon made plain that if he was a bold, intrepid man, he needed to be so. Officials from the Pope, who was then at Constance, desired him, as an interdicted priest, to abstain from the Church services; but he declined to comply. Had he chosen even to equivocate, he might have escaped; but Huss was not the man to trim. Such a course was formally proposed to him; but though he was far from being buoyed up by false hopes, he resolutely and without hesitation declined all underhand suggestions: he would uphold the truth, but that was all that he would do. "I fear nothing," he said; "for I hope that, after a great conflict, will ensue a great victory, and after the victory a still greater reward to me, and a still greater discomfiture to my enemies."

Huss was not kept long in suspense. He sought various opportunities of proclaiming his views: but these were all denied him, and moreover, on November 28th, he was made a close prisoner. He was removed in chains to the castle of Gottleben. By night and day he was kept chained there, and all was done that was likely to bow down, or to break, the undaunted man. But though one form of disease after another assailed him, no wavering thought was harbored, no wavering word escaped; all his sorrows only led him deeper and deeper into the truth which he prized so well, and, in the face of crowding dangers, his resolution actually became more and more fixed and heroic.

The cruel mockery of justice at Constance was carried on by tribunal after tribunal; but the victim was steadfast and unmovable. Now, gleams of hope broke forth for him and his friends, and then darkness gathered round them once more; but Huss found one thing unchanging, the word of his God—and when the council met in the Franciscan convent, which had become the martyr's prison, formally to try his case, they cruelly attempted to prejudge the matter without hearing him at all. But the emperor interfered, and Huss appeared before them, ready to retract whatever was contrary to Scripture: but whenever he attempted to plead, a savage outcry arose around, till the voice of truth was drowned in the din. On June 7th, he stood forth the second time before the council; but it was a wrangle rather than a solemn trial, for Huss would not abate one jot of his convictions, except as the Scriptures condemned them.

On June 8th, his third examination took place. Huss was told, at the close, that if he would suppliantly submit and retract opinions which he declared he (p. 110) never held, his judges would be lenient—otherwise, his danger was obvious. He was thus asked to confess his errors, to swear that he would never more preach them, and publicly recant; but he constantly refused such terms, unless he were convicted by the word of God. Even the emperor pleaded with him to yield; the judges also urged him, and professed a desire for his escape; but he was not to be moved, and must therefore hasten back to his cell, an outcast heretic in chains. If he would recant, he would be permitted to live—but little more, for imprisonment for life was to be his lot. But little did those judges know either the man whom they held in their grasp, or the principles and the power which bore him up. He could die, but he could not be anything but a true man. An emperor's safe-conduct was found to be a worthless thing, and "Trust not in princes" was a portion of the word of God which Huss learned thoroughly to understand.


It was with unruffled self-possession that Huss gave himself to martyrdom. As he had never abandoned the Romish Church, he calmly engaged in its functions preparatory to his death. Indeed, some touching scenes were witnessed in his prison—he unshaken—his friends, his very enemies weeping like womanhood beside him. Deputation after deputation visited him—one of them from the emperor himself—and recantation was constantly the burden of their pleading. But Huss would not recant except upon conviction; and on July 6, 1415, he appeared once more before the council, where the emperor was present on his throne. Many of the judges were Huss's bitter personal enemies, for as he had assailed the measureless corruptions of their order, that was an unpardonable sin. Besides, history is careful to tell that bribery was largely employed to make sure of his destruction—and now the last act of the dark tragedy has arrived. No further defence was permitted to Huss, yet he uttered one solemn appeal. Once and again he prayed for his enemies. Being clothed in his priestly robes, he was stripped of them by seven bishops, while he still persisted in holding fast his convictions, except as the truth of God could be shown to condemn them. The mark of his tonsure was next removed, and that with great cruelty. A cap daubed over with the figures of demons was then placed on his head, and thus the heroic martyr of Bohemia was led forth to be burned in the name of religion.

Execution of Huss.

At the place of execution Huss prayed, and often repeated the words, "Into thy hands, Lord, I commit my spirit." When compelled to rise from his knees, he still appealed to the Saviour, and prayed for "a strong and steadfast soul" to endure that shameful death. Even after he was placed at the stake, and had actually been surrounded by fagots, he declared that he willingly wore his chains (p. 111) for Christ, who wore yet heavier bonds. With his last breath he repelled a temptation to recant, and when the fire was kindled he began to sing with a loud voice, "Jesus, son of the living God, have mercy upon me." When he was repeating the words for the third time, his voice failed; he was stifled by the flames, and soon reduced to ashes. These ashes were cast into the Rhine.

Thus perished one of the noblest men who ever walked our world. His death led to the Hussite war. In his native Bohemia he was so loved that the peasants rose in great bodies, crying for vengeance. Many of the nobles joined them, and for fifteen years battle and bloodshed avenged his execution.[Back to Contents]

By E. Spencer Beesly, M.A.

A group of men.

During the Middle Ages there was a constant struggle in the West between the two elements of the temporal power—the central, or national, and the local, or that of the great vassals. Gradually the local governments all merged in large aggregates, in each of which a single national government gathered to itself all military, civil, and judicial functions. This movement was already in progress before the end of the thirteenth century. By the end of the fifteenth the struggle was substantially decided, though it did not come completely to an end till the latter part of the seventeenth century.

In France, as in most countries, the agent in this organizing and nationalizing movement was the crown. Almost every French monarch did something toward enforcing recognition of the royal authority in all parts of that country which by geographical conditions, as well as by its history, was fitted for political unity. But, either because they did not see their way to undertaking the direct government of so large an area, or because they were themselves under the dominion of feudal ideas, they did not always avail themselves of their frequent opportunities (p. 112) for extinguishing the local governments of the fiefs which fell into their hands. The Valois kings granted many of them as appanages to their younger sons, and so created a new set of great vassals, who revived the struggle for feudal independence. The most dangerous of these, the Duke of Burgundy, openly aided the English invaders. This prince, besides his French fiefs, possessed the yet more important territories now known as Belgium and the Netherlands. Charles VII., the father of Louis XI., having expelled the English, established a permanent force of nine thousand cavalry—the first standing army in modern times.

During the life of his father, Louis was not a dutiful subject. His masterful spirit could brook no superior. He even conspired with the rebel vassals. But as king (1461-1483) he pursued the policy of his greatest predecessors with undaunted courage, patient perseverance, and political genius of the highest order. At first he was too much in a hurry. He tried to clip the wings of all his vassals at once. He irritated the industrial classes by severe taxation. He drove into exile or rebellion his father's ablest generals and councillors. This brought upon him the so-called "League of Public Welfare," headed by Charles the Bold, heir of Burgundy, which aimed at a virtual dismemberment of France. Persevering as Louis was, he had none of the weak obstinacy which cannot distinguish between means and ends. Finding himself overmatched, though he had cut his way through the hosts of rebels at Montlhéry, he conceded to them everything they demanded. By the treaty of Conflans (1465) he might seem to have flung up the game in despair, and to have signed the ruin of France. But his high Court of Justice (Parlement), by refusing to register the treaty, gave him an excuse for evading its performance, and by negotiating with the princes separately he broke up their coalition. The peaceful and industrious classes stood by him, and he studiously cared for their interests; mixing familiarly with the citizens of Paris, dining at their houses, standing godfather to their children, putting aside all state and ceremony, and even dressing in humble attire. The precautions of his residence at Plessis belong only to the last months of his life, when he was old and paralytic. Never ashamed to own a mistake and to retrace false steps, he won back the most valuable of his father's servants, whom he had at first driven away. His designs against feudalism were not for a moment suspended. But instead of attacking all his vassals at once he took them in detail; while one was being crushed, others were humored till their turn came.

Louis XI. and Olivier Le Dain.

As a young man he had shown warlike tastes and brilliant personal valor; but as king he always preferred negotiation and policy. It was a too daring confidence in his mastery of these weapons which led him to risk his famous visit to Charles the Bold, at Péronne (1468), so vividly painted by Scott in "Quentin Durward," who, however, omits to mention the safe-conduct which Charles basely violated. At such critical moments Louis's nerve became steadiest and his intellect most acute. The concessions extorted from him at Péronne seemed to undo the work of years; but when once he was free he found means to remedy all the mischief that had been done. "Never," says his Minister Comines, (p. 113) "was there a man so sagacious in adversity; when he drew back it was to make a longer spring." In another war with Burgundy, Edward IV., of England, landed with a large army (1475). To warlike nobles it seemed very base that Louis bought off the invaders instead of rushing upon another Crécy or Agincourt; but he thoroughly despised such criticism. He had an army, and a good one; but if a round sum of money would effect his purpose more cheaply, surely, and speedily, why should he expose his subjects to the horrors and losses of war? Two years later Charles fell at Nancy, fighting against the Swiss, who were in the pay of Louis. It was the death-blow of feudalism. Louis promptly seized the duchy of Burgundy and some other territories of the deceased duke. Altogether, during his reign, he brought eleven provinces under the direct government of the crown—Brittany being the only great fief which at his death remained independent. He had thus assured the unity of France and her preponderance in Europe.

Hardly less important services to his country were his establishment of order and good administration, his financial and judicial reforms, his encouragement of industry and commerce. "He effected," says Lavallée, "attempted, or projected, all the innovations of modern France." Diplomacy, the modern makeshift for the international office of the mediæval papacy, dates from him. Historians have dwelt on his cruelty, perfidy, and superstition.[12] Turbulent nobles, like St. Pol and Armagnac, were brought to the block; treacherous ministers, like Cardinal La Balue, were kept for years in iron cages; vulgar criminals swung from gibbets on every highroad. But this severity toward ruffians of high and low degree, who had preyed on the country for the best part of the century, wrought peace and prosperity for the law-abiding and industrious. In the decay of feudal manners and Catholic discipline, the sentiment of honor had almost vanished from public life. But, judged relatively to his times, Louis is not to be branded as perfidious. He did not scruple to break treaties contrary to the interests of his country, which had been extorted from him by force; but he was more straightforward than his principal contemporaries. Twice, when he could have got rid of Charles the Bold by acts of treachery, which in those days no one would have blamed, he chose the honorable course. To reproach a man of the fifteenth century with superstition, because he thought there might be some efficacy in images and relics, is an abuse of language. If he clung to life it was because he felt that so much of his projected work remained unfinished. He met death with remarkable fortitude, his thoughts and efforts being to the last moment occupied with the affairs, not of his soul, but of his country. His minister and intimate friend, Comines, has left a faithful and judicious account of his life. Two great poets have dealt unfairly with him: Scott could not forgive the foe of feudalism; Hugo was blinded by democratic prejudices.[Back to Contents]

By Sarah H. Killikelly


Isabella, the only daughter of John II., of Castile, and Isabella, of Portugal, his second wife, was born in Madrigal, Spain, in 1451. Upon the death of her father her elder half-brother succeeded to the throne in 1454, as Henry IV. The queen dowager retired from court life with her infant son Alfonso, and her daughter Isabella, then in her fourth year. The royal children were reared by a wise mother in the seclusion of the little town of Arevalo, until Isabella was twelve years old. How carefully the seeds of character were sown in these early years is shown by the after-fruits. Her fervent piety and unwavering faith, her strict integrity and self-abnegation, disarmed the enemies of her crown, as they disarm the unprejudiced historian of to-day. The verdict of four hundred years is still: "Her faults were the faults of her age, her virtues were her own." The quiet home life at Arevalo came suddenly to an end in 1463, when King Henry arbitrarily ordered the infantas, as all royal children are called in Spain, to repair to the palace as members of his court. Thus at the early age of twelve years Isabella entered upon her public career, and from thenceforth the eyes of the civilized world were turned upon her. Shortly after, a revolution deposed Henry and placed Alfonso upon the throne. Both kings had their followers, and the boy-king, eleven years old, rode on horseback at the head of his troops beside his appointed regent. But the crown was too heavy for the young victim, and Alfonso was one morning found dead in his bed. To Isabella, a beautiful girl of sixteen, the fallen crown was offered and urged; but in spite of the fact that the old standard had already been unfurled in her honor, and unmoved by the eloquence of the primate and the arguments of the first nobles of the land, Isabella, with a wisdom beyond her years, resolutely refused to take the throne. Her reasons baffled her advisers: "So long as King Henry lives none other has the right to wear the crown." She advised his reinstatement and promised to help redress the wrongs of which the nation had the unquestioned right to complain. An amnesty was declared and a reconciliation was effected; but not until Henry had consented to divorce his queen and to acknowledge Isabella as the heir-apparent to the throne in place of his reputed daughter, Joanna. The cortes, or parliament, was assembled to ratify the treaty, and at the same time, passed a resolution that the infanta was not to (p. 115) be coerced in her matrimonial alliance. In 1468, with great pomp and ceremony, Isabella was solemnly proclaimed Princess of Asturias, heir-apparent to the throne of Castile and Leon. She is described as of medium height, of fair complexion, regular features, auburn hair, clear blue eyes, and with a sweet but serious expression that told both sides of her character. She inherited from her father a desire for knowledge and a love of literature, and was herself a fine linguist. These graces of mind and person, added to her nearness to the throne, soon brought many ardent suppliants from the principal thrones of Europe for the honor of her hand. Her cousin, Prince Ferdinand of Aragon, was her wise choice, and to him she was married, notwithstanding her brother's opposition, in 1469. The brilliant wedding at Valladolid, in the presence of the nobility and about two thousand persons, closes the second period of her life. Five years intervened before the Princess of Asturias became Queen of Leon and Castile. Stormy years, for the angry brother instituted a fresh rebellion against her succession, and Isabella was again the peace-maker; years of poverty, also, for the heirs-apparent of Castile and Aragon had scarcely a competency for their daily needs. Isabella was residing in Segovia at the time of her brother's death; hence, in Segovia, with more than the usual solemnities which accompany the accession of a new sovereign even in Spain, she took the vows and was crowned Queen of Castile and Leon in 1474. During the first four years and a half of her reign civil war desolated her kingdom, for Joanna, the reputed daughter of Henry IV., again contested her right to the crown, supported by the King of Portugal, to whom she was affianced. But the same people who had said "Isabella shall be the heir-apparent," said now "Isabella shall rule over us," and conquered. The reign of Isabella, therefore, dates from 1479, when she was left in undisputed possession of her throne, rather than from 1474, when she wore her crown for the first time in Segovia. The same year that brought peace to the Queen of Castile elevated Ferdinand to the throne of Aragon.

No more important epoch marks the history of Spain than the union of the crowns of Castile and Aragon; it meant the end of petty principalities and powers, it meant united Spain. But the crowns were only linked together, for Isabella, even in her marriage contract, had maintained the independence of the crown of Castile and her individual right to rule over it. It was this loyalty to her inherited crown that won the love and confidence of her people and made them ready, when the need came, to die for Isabella of Castile. And it was this independence of her crown that enabled her to say at last to Columbus: "I will assume the enterprise for mine own crown of Castile," and "to the crown of Castile" belonged the first discovered territories in the New World.

Had the reign of Isabella been less distinguished for events of such momentous magnitude as to involve the future interests of the world, her personal life would yet furnish data for a series of volumes, so replete was it with stirring incidents and with heart-breaking sorrows. But the same mental strength and moral courage that made her eminent as a queen, made her remarkable also as a friend and mother. Prescott says: "Her heart overflowed with affectionate sensibilities to her family (p. 116) and friends. She watched over the declining years of her aged mother and ministered to her sad infirmities with filial tenderness; we have abundant proofs of how fondly and faithfully she loved her husband to the last; while for her children she lived more than for herself, and for them too she died; for it was their loss and their afflictions which froze the current of her blood before age had had time to chill it."

Five children, four daughters and one son, grew to maturity under her guiding influence. Isabella, the first born, and ever the favorite child of the sovereigns, was born in 1470. She was twice married, first to Alfonso, Prince of Portugal, who was killed by a fall from his horse within five months after their marriage. Seven years later she married his brother, Emanuel, King of Portugal. To the intense grief of her husband, her parents, and her kingdom, she died in 1498, just one hour after the birth of her son, the first and only heir to the kingdoms of Castile, Aragon, and Portugal. The little Prince Miguel did not live to fulfil the hopes that were centred in him, for he died, to the great grief of the nation, before he had completed his second year.

The only son of Ferdinand and Isabella, Juan, Prince of Asturias, was born in 1478. In his twentieth year he married the Princess Margaret, daughter of the Emperor Maximilian; but before the elaborate nuptial rejoicings had ended the young bridegroom died suddenly of a malignant fever.

The Infanta Joanna, born 1479, married Philip I., son of the German emperor, and became the mother of the great Emperor Charles V. of Germany, Charles I. of Spain. Her mental derangement, tending to permanent insanity, was a sore grief to the great queen, who nevertheless made her the heir to her crown, with Ferdinand as regent.

The Infanta Maria, born in 1482, married Emanuel, the King of Portugal, in 1600. Her daughter Isabella married her cousin, Charles V., and was the mother of Philip II.

The fifth and last child of Ferdinand and Isabella, Catalina, was born in 1485. She married, when scarcely sixteen, Arthur, Prince of Wales, son of Henry VII., but was left a widow within a year. By special dispensation from the Pope she married her brother-in-law in 1509, and is better known in history as Catharine of Aragon, first wife of Henry VIII., of England, mother of Mary I., or "bloody Mary." Knowing her Spanish parentage, we can better understand why she was such an ardent Roman Catholic. Strange that one so loyal to the forms of her religion should have been the innocent cause of the English Reformation! The injured queen, divorced, remained in England, a religious recluse, until her death in 1536.

This brief outline of family life, with its joys, disappointments, and heart-breaking sorrows, brings into clearer relief the mental strength and moral courage of Isabella, who, while carrying this burden on her heart never relaxed for a moment her vigilant, vigorous rule over a mighty empire; and this brings us at last to the


From the very beginning of the reconquest of Spain from the Arab-Moors in 718, when the brave band of refugees who had not bowed to the Saracen yoke issued (p. 117) from the mountains of Asturias in the extreme northwest corner of Spain, under Pelayo, with vows resting upon them "to rid the land of its infidel invaders and to advance the standard of the cross until it was everywhere victorious over the crescent," the "Expulsion of the Moors" had been the hereditary appanage of the crown of Castile and Leon, the first fruits of the reconquest.

The crown was heavy and the burden was great that descended to Isabella in 1474, for although she came to the throne through Gothic ancestry and in conformity with Gothic law, her father's heir and the chosen of the people, yet the nation had already poured out its blood in defence of her "succession" and the war of her "accession" was pending. No wonder that Isabella never forgot that it was through the people and for the people, and in defence of the cross, that she wore the crown and sat upon the throne of Leon and Castile.

During the preceding reigns the laws of the country had been so constantly defied that they had become of no effect. The one law of barbarism seemed the only law that governed,

"He can take who has the power,
And he may keep who can."

The country was infested with lawless banditti, and even the cities were powerless to protect individuals or property. The prisons were overcrowded with suspected criminals who had never been brought to trial; the immorality of the court had spread like a deadly poison through the lower grades of social life; even the priests had become tainted with the general demoralization. The coin of Castile had been debased until the most necessary articles of life were enhanced from three to six times their value; the late civil wars had exhausted the treasury, and the country seemed on the verge of bankruptcy. The Moors had even ceased to pay tribute and were making frequent forays into the surrounding country, taking men, women, and children into Mussulman captivity with the hope of exacting a ransom. Public confidence was dead. No wonder that Isabella felt her crown heavy and the burden of her kingdom great.

But the brave, resolute woman, making choice of wise and able counsellors, entered at once upon a vigorous crusade of reform. The first measure proposed to the cortes, in 1476, was the re-establishment of the celebrated Hermandad, or Holy Brotherhood, which was carried into effect the same year. The new institution differed from the ancient, inasmuch as its power proceeded from the crown and was disbanded by it in 1498. The Hermandad in our day would be called a mounted police, but in the days of Isabella every organization came under the sanction of the Church. The duties of the Holy Brotherhood were to arrest offenders throughout the kingdom and to enforce the law. Every one hundred householders throughout the kingdom maintained one Hermandad. Upon the flight of a criminal tocsins were sounded, and the officers of the Brotherhood stationed within hearing took up a pursuit that left little hope for escape. Thus a body of cavalry, two thousand in number, fully equipped and supported, was at the disposal of the crown to enforce the law and to suppress insurrections. In a (p. 118) few years the country was cleared of banditti and the blessing of personal security under the government was restored.

Isabella revived also another ancient custom of her forefathers, that of presiding in person over courts of justice. From city to city she travelled on horseback, making the circuit of her kingdom, regardless of personal fatigue. Side by side with Ferdinand, when he had leisure from foreign complications to accompany her, she sat (not unmindful of the dignity belonging to the crown) with her courtiers around her, to listen with interest, that she might redress wrongs, punish the wrongdoers, and administer justice even to the lowliest of her subjects. Her personal address, and the unbounded respect which her integrity inspired; her proclamation throughout the kingdom that the interests of her people were her interests, re-established such public confidence that, says a writer of that age, "Those who had long despaired of public justice blessed God for their deliverance, as it were, from deplorable captivity." Nor did the sovereigns relax their personal efforts for the restoration of law and order until the cortes had passed measures for the permanent administration of justice. Thus in a few years, from a state of anarchy and misrule, Castile entered upon her "Golden Age of Justice."

The golden age of literature, developed in the next century, has been justly ascribed to the impetus given by Isabella to liberal education, classical and scientific. Under her patronage schools were established in every city, presided over by learned men. The printing press, lately invented, was introduced; foreign books were imported free of duty, while such precedence was given to native literature as led on to the brilliant achievements of the sixteenth century. In social reform precept was enforced by example. In all that was pure, in all that was true, in all that was noble and magnanimous, Isabella, in private life, was a witness unto her people. No calumny of any kind, even in a depraved age, was ever cast upon Isabella of Castile or upon any one of her royal children. But the strongest characteristic of Isabella, that which colored her whole life and gave force to every public action, was her fervent piety and her unfaltering [perhaps blind] faith in the divine authority of the Roman Catholic Church. For all the evils that grew out of the latter she is still branded, even among the liberal-minded of to-day, regardless of her illiberal age, with that worst of all brands, "a religious bigot." This side of her character we will not discuss, but refer our readers to the history of Christianity during the fifteenth century, when the great flood-tide of religious intolerance reached its height.

It was in the fulness of this tide that the great historic events of her reign occurred, viz., the conquest of Granada, the expulsion of the Jews, the Inquisition, and the discovery of America. After each of these, for honor or dishonor, we interline the name of Isabella. Yet the conquest of Granada, or the reconquest of every foot of land which the Moors had taken from the Goths, was foreordained in Castilian councils centuries before Isabella was born. The expulsion of the Jews, the so-called "enemies of Christ," was but a part of the same effort "to rid the land of unbelieving invaders." The Inquisition, with all its horrors, (p. 119) was re-established by the Church during that age of intolerance to which the reign of Isabella belongs. Yet these are still named to the dishonor of Isabella.

But the discovery of America, with all its lasting benefits to mankind, is the immortal crown which the world has woven out of her proffered "Jewels;" and with this crown it has crowned Isabella of Castile.

In the marriage contract of the youthful prince and princess it was agreed that Ferdinand should lead the armies of Castile against the Moors as soon as the affairs of the kingdom would permit. The opportunity and the provocation came after twelve years, when the sovereigns sent to demand of the Moors the long unpaid tribute, and received only the defiant answer, "Tell your masters that the Moors who paid tribute to Castile are dead. Our mints no longer coin gold, but steel!" And to prove the efficacy of their steel they sallied forth and took Zahara, one of the strongholds which the father of Ferdinand had taken from the Moors. The chivalry of Spain sprang quickly into well-girt saddles, and the ten years' siege of Granada, "the last stronghold of the Moors in Spain," began in 1481. The Iliad of the reconquest of Spain from the Arab-Moors has yet to be written; the Homer of its Iliad has yet to appear. But the closing year of the struggle between Christian knight and turbaned Moor would furnish as stirring incidents, and immortalize the names of its heroes as successfully, as has the Greek Homer the Trojan war.

Those of us who have read the story of the Arab-Moors in Spain, the quick-witted, light-footed, brave-hearted Moors, who coveted the land "flowing with milk and honey" that lay across a narrow strait; who conquered it, redeemed its barren wastes, and made them to blossom as the rose; who, in their quick flight from the Arabian deserts through civilized lands, gathered seeds of knowledge and planted them so freely in the land of their adoption that their planting overspread the earth; who, like the Goths, became enervated when they became stationary, and were no longer able to resist the powerful foe who had from their entrance into Spain sworn their expulsion or their extermination, will be ready to weep when the final retribution comes. Yet come it did, when Ferdinand and Isabella pitched their tents and planted their banners of Castile and Aragon upon the verdant vega, or plain, around Granada.

And yet we as readily accept the inevitable. We have known that it was impossible for Isabella to allow any portion of her dominions to be possessed by a people alien in race, language, customs, and religion; to see the Crescent triumphant over any site that had been hallowed by the Cross. To the Spanish Christian the fall of Granada was only the final victory of a righteous war. It was the triumph of his race, his nation, and his creed. And, looking back over the long march from Asturias to Granada, he claimed to have invaded no man's right; every victory but won back what was his own: every step retraced by the Moors but left him in possession of another portion of his inheritance from his forefathers.

The Arab-Moors claimed also hereditary rights. For nearly eight hundred years the Moors had held possession of that strip of land between the "Snow Mountains" and the blue sea, in Southern Spain. One cannot but feel respect (p. 120) for the brave Moorish king of Granada, who said, when threatened with invasion, "Our mint no longer coins gold, but steel!" In this last great chivalrous war, a war for race and creed and country, all honor is due to the vanquished, who poured out their blood like water for their homes and their religion. The details of this heroic death-struggle belong to history rather than to biography. Yet Isabella was the great animating spirit of the war. Her tent was side by side with that of Ferdinand, and her counsel was ever wise and practical.

And near the royal tents were others which she erected, where the wounded in the fray might have medical aid and tender nursing. Thus our "Warrior Queen," with a woman's heart, provided the first Army Hospital on record. The tents were burned down, but a substantial city arose, as if by magic, to take their place. The knights would have called it "Isabella," but she named it "Santa Fé," the city of Holy Faith. And this city helped to bring the war to a close. The Moors knew by it that Isabella had come to stay until she had added Granada to the crown of Castile.

Another form rises before us as we look back four hundred years across the vega of Granada to the city of Sante Fé. We forget for a time the Christians and the Moors, we see only the great queen and the great discoverer. The man of science, Christoforo Colombo, had been lately dismissed from the court at Sante Fé. The sovereigns had no time for adventurers seeking aid to discover unknown lands when the reconquest of their own was just within their grasp. Cast down, but not discouraged, Columbus, all alone, was retracing his steps across the vega, en route for a port from whence to sail for England, when the queen sent a royal summons for him to return, and he reached Sante Fé just in time to be present at the surrender of Granada. Let me add that while the Moors as a nation fell with Granada, they were not as individuals banished from Spain until the reign of Philip II., the great-grandson of Isabella.

Ferdinand and Isabella. The surrender of Granada.

We all know the story of Columbus. At this time he was but a penniless mendicant travelling on foot from court to court, seeking patronage to enable him to prove the truth which his great mind had grasped, the rotundity of the earth. The subject had given him no rest for eighteen years. He had discussed it before wise men in council assembled; he had pleaded with royalty in vain; at the court of Isabella, for the first time, he laid his plans and discussed his projects before a woman. The world to-day pays its tribute of four hundred years to Columbus, the World-finder. All honor to the brave man who, firm of faith and fearless of fate, unfurled his sails upon an unknown sea, and planted the cross and the banner of Castile upon an unknown land. All honor, too, to Queen Isabella of Spain, who, with "faith in things unseen," had the courage to say, "I will undertake the enterprise for mine own crown of Castile," and from whose presence Columbus went forth to discover a land he never dreamed of, and to open a gate for the exodus of nations across the pathless sea. The same pen that signed the capitulation of the Moors and the contract with Columbus, signed also an edict for the expulsion of all unbaptized Jews from Spain between March and July of 1492. This edict condemned to perpetual exile from one to (p. 121) eight hundred thousand of Spain's most wealthy subjects. The coast was lined with vessels of every kind, and size, busy with the transportation of these unhappy victims, when Columbus was seeking for vessels and men to cross the "Sea of Darkness." And now we are beginning to understand the momentous events that culminated in the reign of Isabella. We find that religious enthusiasm, inspired during the long wars with the "Infidel Moors," developed into religious bigotry. In the Jews, Spain expelled the most wealthy portion of her subjects; in the Moors, the most industrious; the wealth and industry of the nation were sacrificed for race and creed. And then within its own race and creed arose a new foe to combat; with equal energy and blind zeal Spain crushed Protestantism within her borders through the terrors of the Inquisition.

But let us not lay the whole blame of such intolerant Christianity upon the unfortunate woman who fell heir to the crown of Castile during the period when the Church of Rome had the power to bind the consciences of men. Let us remember that as a woman Isabella was an honor to her sex; as a Christian she lived devoutly; as a queen she ruled wisely for the uplifting of her nation, and that the only censure the world casts upon her is the fortitude with which she said "Infidelity must be banished from the land."

"Bury me in Granada, the brightest jewel in my crown," she said, when dying, in far-off Castile, November 26, 1504. The way was long and the December winds were cold as the royal cortége, with knightly escort, wended its way across the barren heights of Central Spain into the beautiful valley of Andalusia, across the lovely vega, past Santa Fé, up the rugged slope of the acropolis of Granada into the Chapel Isabella, near the unrivalled Alhambra. Here in the very heart of the last Moorish capital, while the whole nation mourned, they laid all that was mortal of the great queen, whom Lord Bacon has named "the corner-stone of the greatness of Spain."

Twelve years later, January 23, 1516, they laid King Ferdinand beside her, "the wisest king that ever ruled in Spain." (Prescott.) Their grandson, Charles V., now summoned the finest artists in the world to prepare royal mausoleums for Ferdinand and Isabella and for his parents, Joanna of Castile and Philip of Burgundy. The cathedral of Granada is the Spanish temple of victory. It covers the site of an ancient Moorish mosque. Within its royal chapel one may read, in bas-relief, the whole story of the reconquest of Spain. On either side of its high altar kneel the life-size statues of the final conquerors; while in solemn, stately magnificence, the royal mausoleums of purest Carrara marble, with their reclining portrait figures of Ferdinand and Isabella in soft, time-tinted alabaster, tell us that here the nation, "redeemed from bondage," laid their deliverers to rest. And here, at the close of nearly four hundred years, a hand from across the sea lays this tribute, with a garland of white roses and a wreath of olive leaves and immortelles, upon the tomb of Isabella of Castile.[Back to Contents]

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By John Stoughton, D.D.


The life of Nicholas Copernicus furnishes a signal example of the accordance between profound religious sentiment and the utmost inquisitiveness respecting the secrets of nature and the laws of the universe.

The birthplace of genius is sometimes found nestled amid the fairest scenes, and the opening years of life are favored with appeals to curiosity and imagination, such as stimulate the exercise of the intellect; but the lot of Copernicus, as a boy, was cast in one of the flattest, tamest, and most uninteresting parts of Germany. Not far from the banks of the Vistula, on the way to the free city of Dantzic, lies a fortified town named Thorn, where the river is crossed by a wooden bridge, and the place is adorned by a bronze statue of our philosopher—for there he was born. His father was a merchant, and in the municipal records his father's name appears as a freeman admitted to the franchise in 1462. In 1472 or 1473 a son was added to the family, and the parents had a horoscope taken of the child, who appeared at thirty-eight minutes past four on January 19, 1472, according to some; at forty-eight minutes past four in the afternoon of February 19, 1473, according to others; the exact instant of the nativity being an important point in astrological calculations, which, in those days, inspired in fathers and mothers the deepest concern. At all events, Copernicus was deemed to have entered the world under a lucky planet, and it was augured that he would turn out a man of distinguished talent. About ten years before Martin Luther studied at Mansfield, and then at Eisenach, and rambled about the quaint streets, singing Christmas carols in the town where he was born, Nicholas Copernicus passed through a similar course of education. He did so under some old-fashioned pedagogue, who no more dreamed of the scientific fame of his pupil than did Trebonius of the approaching celebrity of young Master Martin. Copernicus would there learn to read, to write, to construe Latin, and to commit to memory hymns, prayers, and catechisms. Whether as a lad he studied Greek is uncertain; but, as his parents seem to have been wealthy, he would enjoy greater advantages than his still more illustrious contemporary; hence at an early period he was sent to Cracow, where he studied (p. 123) philosophy, mathematics, and medicine. Mathematics formed his favorite pursuit, and by the thorough acquisition of its principles and modes of reasoning he laid the basis of his subsequent eminence. But he took a degree as doctor of medicine; and according to the comprehensive methods of culture which obtained in those days, he paid attention to painting, and made some proficiency as an artist. Scholars were at that period accustomed to travel, and Copernicus proceeded from Cracow to Bologna; and in that city of feudal palaces and towers he would find a school of painting to cultivate his artistic taste, as well as a university where he could study astronomy. There he entered upon divers calculations connected with the position of the earth and the plan of the heavenly bodies. Then proceeding to Rome, he became there a mathematical professor, and won vast renown. Soon after the commencement of the sixteenth century he returned to the banks of the Vistula, and having been ordained to the priesthood, had a canonry at Frauenburg, on the Frische-Häff, bestowed upon him by his uncle. The cathedral is described as a handsome building of brick, erected in 1342, in an elevated part of the town, overlooking the flat sandbanks of the Elbing, as it flows on its way to the Baltic. In connection with his canonry, Copernicus had some contention about his official rights, the nature of which does not appear. All we know is that he settled down in that quiet, out-of-the-way corner of the world, heedless of worldly ambition and indifferent to ecclesiastical honors and emoluments. He was no sceptic, no free-thinker, nor do we find him taking a part in the theological controversies of his age. No mention is made of what he thought and did in relation to the grand quarrel between Luther and Leo, or the Diet of Worms, or the burning of the bull at the gates of Wittenberg, or the other stirring events of the Reformation; only we know he remained a Catholic, a quiet, self-contained, thoughtful, devout man, childlike in his religion, trustful in his piety, and exemplary in the discharge of clerical duties. We can picture him going through the usual routine of canonical services in Frauenburg Cathedral, full of faith and prayer. With this vocation he coupled medical practice. He turned to good charitable account that proficiency in the healing art which he had acquired at Cracow, and visited the sick and the poor, bringing upon himself the blessing of those who were ready to perish. But the nature of his intellect, sharpened by studies at Bologna and Rome, gave him special advantages in the pursuit of astronomical knowledge; and as he had a decided taste in that direction, what time he could spare from the cathedral and the treatment of the sick he devoted to the study of the heavens. "He went very little into the world; he considered all conversation as fruitless except that of a serious and learned cast, so that he formed no intimacies except with grave and learned men." Alone at midnight he would watch the stars; in his study with his books he would inquire of the ancients; and then the profound thoughts passing through his mind he would exchange with the "grave and reverend seigniors" of his acquaintance.

The Ptolemaic hypothesis of the universe was then in fashion. It was supposed that the earth was the centre of celestial motions, that the sun, the moon, (p. 124) and the stars revolved around the world which we inhabit. Not that the Pythagorean hypothesis was totally forgotten. There were those who believed that the sun, not the earth, is the centre of the great circle in which the heavenly bodies perform their evolutions; but the Ptolemaic hypothesis had the ascendency beyond all doubt; and with this hypothesis Copernicus could not rest satisfied. It appeared to him beset with insuperable difficulties. True enough, the rotation of the heavens around the earth seemed to be what the human eye beheld, as anyone watched sunrise and sunset. But what the senses thus presented, reason, in its ponderings, was led to contradict. For the notion of a huge mechanism like the celestial sphere, spinning round the terraqueous globe as its pivot looked unreasonable. To explain it in any way on mathematical principles needed a most complicated array of cycles and epicycles. Symmetry and simplicity were wanting in the theory. A priori objections started up against it. If the senses pointed to the earth as a centre, reason pointed to a centre elsewhere. Copernicus studied the works of ancient philosophers on the question. He examined mathematical traditions and criticised the opinions of learned professors. He found accounts of those who had asserted the motion of the earth. "Though," he says, "it appeared an absurd opinion, yet, since I knew that in former times liberty had been permitted to others to figure as they pleased certain circles for the purpose of demonstrating the phenomena of the stars, I considered that to me also it might be easily allowed to try whether, by a supposition of the earth's motion, a better explanation might be found of the revolution of the celestial orbs. Having assumed," he goes on to say, "the motions of the earth, by laborious and long observation I at length found that if the motions of the other planets be compared with the revolution of the earth, not only these phenomena follow from the suppositions, but also that the several orbs and the whole system are so connected in order and magnitude, that no one part can be transposed without disturbing the rest and introducing confusion into the whole universe." What Copernicus was in search of was some simple and symmetrical theory of the appearances of the heavens which would relieve him of the complexity and confusion attendant on the Ptolemaic system so popular in the schools. He started from an a priori point of reasoning—the only one thought of in his day—but he came to certain conclusions which a posteriori examination in after times abundantly confirmed.


He believed that the earth is spherical; that the earth and the sea constitute a wonderful globe; that the motions of the heavenly bodies are circular and uniform, or compounded of circular and uniform motions; that the earth revolves on its own axis, and also performs a journey along its own orbit round the sun; that the sphere of the fixed stars is immensely distant, and that it is impossible to explain the motion of the planets upon the supposition of the earth being their centre. And he distinctly remarks: "It does not shame us to confess that the whole space in which the moon revolves, together with the earth, moves along a great orbit among the planets, round the sun every year; that the sun remains permanent and immovable, whatever may be its apparent motion." It must be (p. 125) kept in mind throughout any careful study of his theory, that it was an hypothesis framed to remove difficulties connected with older systems; that he sought to bring conceptions of the universe into harmony with reason, instead of giving way to impressions made by the senses, or to the authority of world-honored teachers, either in other days or in his own; nor can we omit adding that, while he found fault with the Ptolemaic cycles and epicycles, he constructed similar devices of his own.

"As the real motions, both of the earth and the planets, are unequable, it was requisite to have some mode of representing their inequalities; and accordingly the ancient theory of excentrics and epicycles was retained so far as was requisite for this purpose." In the case of Mercury's orbit he makes suppositions which are extremely complex, although they manifest his apprehension of the difficulties attendant on the common theory of his own time; but he verified many of his views by astronomical observations; and his approximations to modern science, and the light he threw on preceding discoveries, establish the fame of Nicholas Copernicus.

On a review of the life of Copernicus, and the conclusions he reached, the mental and moral qualities of the man come out with conspicuous and extraordinary lustre.

He was a mathematician, thus walking in the footsteps of Roger Bacon. This science, since the days of Euclid, had been pursued with untiring ardor, and many who neglected to study, or who, by their own imagination, distorted the actual phenomena of nature, addicted themselves to the investigation of the abstract properties of magnitude and number. Copernicus, in his knowledge of mathematical principles, and in his skilful application of them to astronomical inquiries, probably surpassed all his contemporaries. And, at the same time, he had that inventive genius which is fruitful in suggestions, such as become pioneers in the path of scientific demonstration. His independence of mind, his real originality, and his boldness in the pursuit of truth are quite as remarkable as the qualities just noticed; indeed, they are involved in or they led to the latter of these. "I beg you," says one of his admiring disciples, "to have this opinion concerning that learned man, my preceptor, that he was an ardent admirer and follower of Ptolemy; but when he was compelled by phenomena and demonstration, he thought he did well to aim at the same mark at which Ptolemy had aimed, though with a bow and shaft very different from his." We must recollect that Ptolemy says 'He who is to follow philosophy must be a freeman in mind.' Copernicus knew very well that there were many prepared to challenge his conclusions, and perhaps to bring theological objections to the principles of science which he had been constrained to adopt. "If, perchance," it is said in the preface to his book on astronomy, "there be vain babblers who, knowing nothing of mathematics, yet assume the right of judging, on account of some place of Scripture, perversely wrested to their purpose, and who blame and attack my undertaking, I heed them not, and look upon their judgments as rash and contemptible."

Copernicus had a profound reverence for Scripture. He regarded it as the (p. 126) Word of God, able to make us wise unto salvation; and none of his discoveries pertaining to the laws of nature shook for one moment his confidence in the revelation of the gospel. Copernicus delayed for years the publication of his discoveries to the world. That delay had been thought to have proceeded from something like fear, or, at least, caution, lest views in some respects so novel should rouse ecclesiastical antagonism and expose him to serious persecution. But the words used in the dedication of his astronomical work seem to point in another direction. It is there said that he had kept it four times the nine years recommended by Horace, and published it at last in compliance with the entreaties of his friend, Cardinal Schomberg. "Though I know," it is added, "that the thoughts of a philosopher do not depend on the judgment of the many, his study being to seek out truth in all things as far as that is permitted by God to human reason, yet when I considered how absurd that doctrine would appear, I long hesitated whether I should publish my book, or whether it were not better to follow the example of the Pythagoreans and others, who delivered their doctrines only by tradition and to friends." From this passage we should infer that he apprehended controversy rather than persecution, that for the former he had no desire, that he was without ambition, and felt no wish to found a new school, but would rather leave truths he had learned quietly to make their way through the world.

The fame of Copernicus is now wide as the world. He painted a portrait of himself which fell into the hands of Tycho Brahe; and he wrote an epigram upon the subject, to the effect that the whole earth could not contain the whole of the man who whirled it along the ocean of ether. Less extravagant was the grateful enthusiasm of Rhiticus, a disciple of Copernicus, when he wrote, "God has given to my excellent preceptor a reign without end, which may He vouchsafe to guide, govern, and increase, to the restoration of astronomical truth. Amen!"

"The Copernican system" is the name now generally given to the almost universal scientific belief that the earth and the planets revolve around the sun, though the system carried out and perfected by Kepler, Newton, Halley, Laplace, and others is by no means perfectly identical with the theory of the German astronomer. But the inextricable interweaving of his name with opinions sanctioned by the entire scientific world, is one of the noblest conceivable tributes to the magnitude and lustre of his renown.

His death was in harmony with his life. Shortly before he expired he repeated these words:

"Non parem Paulo gratiam requiro,
Veniam Petri neque posco; sed quam
In crucis ligno dederat latroni
Sedulus oro."

He had lived a life of Christian virtue—imitating his master, who went about doing good, healing the sick and preaching the gospel to the poor—yet, so far from having anything whereof to boast before God, he said himself that he felt (p. 127) his need of infinite mercy, and in seeking the pardon of his sins he would not place himself on a level with Paul or Peter, but rather choose a point of self-humiliation by the side of the penitent thief.

His work on the revolution of the celestial bodies was passing through the press at the time of his fatal illness in 1543, when he had completed his seventieth year and was brought to him just before he breathed his last; and thus, as has been beautifully expressed, he was "made to touch the first printed copy of his book when the sense of touch was gone, seeing it only as a dim object through the deepening dusk."

He is buried under a flat stone in one of the side aisles of his own cathedral at Frauenburg. On his monument is painted a half-length portrait, pale, thin, aged, but with an expression of countenance intelligent and pleasant. His hair and eyes are black; he is habited as a priest; his hands are joined in prayer; before him is a crucifix, at his feet a skull, and behind him are a globe and a pair of compasses. His devotion, his deadness to the world, and his love of science are thus aptly symbolized.[Back to Contents]


Luther and a group of men.

Martin Luther, the greatest of the Protestant Reformers of the sixteenth century, was born at Eisleben on November 10, 1483. His father was a miner in humble circumstances; his mother, as Melancthon records, was a woman of exemplary virtue, and particularly esteemed in her walk of life. Shortly after Martin's birth his parents removed to Mansfeld, where their circumstances ere long improved by industry and perseverance. Their son was sent to school; and both at home and in school his training was severe. His father sometimes whipped him, he says, "for a mere trifle till the blood came," and he was subjected to the scholastic rod fifteen times in one day! Luther's schooling was completed at Magdeburg and Eisenach, and at the latter place he attracted by his singing the notice of a good lady of the name of Cotta, who welcomed the lad into her family and provided him with a comfortable home during (p. 128) his stay there. Here under Trebonius he made good progress in Latin. In 1501, when he had reached his eighteenth year, he entered the university of Erfurt, with the view of qualifying himself for the legal profession. He went through the usual studies in the classics and the schoolmen, and took his degree of doctor of philosophy, or master of arts, in 1505, when he was twenty-one years of age.

Previous to this, however, a profound change of feeling had begun in him. The death of a friend, and the terror of a thunder-storm, deeply impressed him. Chancing one day to examine the Vulgate in the university library, he saw with astonishment that there were more gospels and epistles than in the lectionaries. He was arrested by the contents of his newly found treasure. His heart was deeply touched, and he resolved to devote himself to a spiritual life. He separated himself from his friends and fellow-students, and withdrew into the Augustinian convent at Erfurt. Here he spent the next three years of his life—years of peculiar interest and significance; for it was during this time that he laid, in the study of the Bible and of Augustine, and with the assistance of his life-long friend Staupitz, the foundation of those doctrinal convictions which were afterward to rouse and strengthen him in his life-long struggle. He describes very vividly the spiritual crisis through which he passed, the burden of sin which so long lay upon him, "too heavy to be borne," and the relief that he at length found in the clear apprehension of the doctrine of the "forgiveness of sins," through the grace of Christ.

In the year 1507 Luther was ordained a priest, and in the following year he removed to Wittenberg, destined to derive its chief celebrity from his name. He became a teacher in the new university founded there by the Elector Frederick of Saxony. At first he lectured on dialectics and physics, but his heart was already given to theology, and in 1509 he became a bachelor of theology, and commenced lecturing on the Holy Scriptures. His lectures made a great impression, and the novelty of his views already began to excite attention. "This monk," said the rector of the university, "will puzzle our doctors and bring in a new doctrine." Besides lecturing, he began to preach, and his sermons reached a wider audience, and produced a still more powerful influence. They were printed and widely circulated in Germany, France, and England, so that his doctrines were diffused throughout Europe. His words, as Melancthon says, were "born not on his lips, but in his soul," and they moved profoundly the souls of all who heard them. In 1511 he was sent on a mission to Rome, and he has described very vividly what he saw and heard there. His devout and unquestioning reverence—for he was yet in his own subsequent view "a most insane papist"—appears in strange conflict with his awakened thoughtfulness and the moral indignation at the abuses of the papacy beginning to stir him.

Luther introduced to the home of Frau Cotta.

On Luther's return from Rome he was made a doctor of the Holy Scriptures, and his career as a reformer may be said to have commenced. The system of indulgences had reached a scandalous height. The idea that it was in the power of the Church to forgive sin had gradually grown into the notion that the Pope could issue pardons of his own free will, which, being dispensed to the faithful, (p. 129) exonerated them from the consequences of their transgressions. The sale of these pardons had become an organized part of the papal system. Money was largely needed at Rome, and its numerous emissaries sought everywhere to raise funds by the sale of "indulgences;" the principal of these was John Tetzel, a Dominican friar, who had established himself at Jüterberg (1517). Luther's indignation at the shameless traffic which this man carried on, finally became irrepressible. "God willing," he exclaimed, "I will beat a hole in his drum." He drew out ninety-five theses on the doctrine of indulgences, which on October 31st he nailed up on the door of the church at Wittenberg, and which he offered to maintain in the university against all impugners. The general purport of these theses was to deny to the Pope all right to forgive sins. This sudden and bold step of Luther was all that was necessary to awaken a wide-spread excitement. Tetzel was forced to retreat from the borders of Saxony to Frankfort-on-the-Oder, where he drew out and published a set of counter-theses and publicly committed those of Luther to the flames. The students at Wittenberg retaliated by burning Tetzel's theses. The elector refused to interfere, and the excitement increased as new combatants—Hochstratten, Prierias, and Eck—entered the field. Eck was an able man, and an old friend of Luther's, and the argument between him and the reformer was especially vehement. In 1518 the latter was joined by Melancthon, who became one of his dearest and most trusted friends.

At first the Pope, Leo X., took little heed of the disturbance; he is reported even to have said, when he heard of it, that "Friar Martin was a man of genius, and that he did not wish to have him molested." Some of the cardinals, however, saw the real character of the movement, which gradually assumed a seriousness evident even to the Pope; and Luther received a summons to appear at Rome, and answer for his theses (1518). Once again in Rome, it is unlikely he would ever have been allowed to return. His university and the elector interfered, and a legate was sent to Germany to hear and determine the case. Cardinal Cajetan was the legate, and he was but little fitted to deal with Luther. He would enter into no argument with him, but merely called upon him to retract. Luther refused, and fled from Augsburg, whither he had gone to meet the papal representative. The task of negotiation was then undertaken by Miltitz, a German, who was envoy of the Pope to the Saxon court, and by his greater address, a temporary peace was obtained. This did not last long. The reformer was too deeply moved to keep silent. "God hurries and drives me," he said; "I am not master of myself; I wish to be quiet, and am hurried into the midst of tumults." Dr. Eck and he held a memorable disputation at Leipsic (1519), in which the subject of argument was no longer merely the question of indulgences, but the general power of the Pope. The disputation, of course, came to no practical result; each controversialist claimed the victory, and Luther in the meantime made progress in freedom of opinion, and attacked the papal system as a whole more boldly. Erasmus and Hutten joined in the conflict, which waxed more loud and threatening.

(p. 130) In 1520 the reformer published his famous address to the "Christian Nobles of Germany." This was followed in the same year by a treatise "On the Babylonish Captivity of the Church." In these works, both of which circulated widely and powerfully influenced many minds, Luther took firmer and broader ground; he attacked not only the abuses of the papacy and its pretensions to supremacy, but also the doctrinal system of the Church of Rome. "These works," Ranke says, "contain the kernel of the whole Reformation." The papal bull containing forty-one theses was issued against him; the dread document, with other papal books, was burned before an assembled multitude of doctors, students, and citizens, at the Elster Gate of Wittenberg. Germany was convulsed with excitement. Eck (who had been the chief agent in obtaining the bull) fled from place to place, glad to escape with his life, and Luther was everywhere the hero of the hour.

Charles V. had at this time succeeded to the empire, and he convened his first diet of the sovereigns and states at Worms. The diet met in the beginning of 1521; an order was issued for the destruction of Luther's books, and he himself was summoned to appear before the diet. This was above all what he desired—to confess the truth before the assembled powers of Germany. He resolved—having received a safe-conduct—to obey the summons, come what would. All Germany was moved by his heroism; his journey resembled a triumph; the threats of enemies and the anxieties of friends alike failed to move him. "I am resolved to enter Worms," he said, "although as many devils should set at me as there are tiles on the housetops." His appearance and demeanor before the diet, and the firmness with which he held his ground and refused to retract, all make a striking picture. He was not allowed to defend his opinions. "Unless I be convinced," he said, "by Scripture and reason, I neither can nor dare retract anything, for my conscience is a captive to God's word, and it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. There I take my stand. I can do no otherwise. So help me God. Amen."

On his return from Worms he was seized, at the instigation of his friend, the Elector of Saxony, and safely lodged in the old castle of the Wartburg. The affair was made to assume an aspect of violence, but in reality it was designed to secure him from the destruction which his conduct at Worms would certainly have provoked, he having been placed under the ban of the empire. He remained in this shelter for about a year, concealed in the guise of a knight. His chief employment was his translation of the Scriptures into his native language. He composed various treatises besides, and injured his health by sedentary habits and hard study. His imagination became morbidly excited, and he thought he saw and heard the Evil One mocking him while engaged in his literary tasks; the blot from the inkstand that he hurled at him is still shown on the wall of his chamber. The subject of the personality and presence of Satan was a familiar one with Luther, and he has many things about it in his Table-talk.

Martin Luther before the Council of Worms.

The disorders which sprang up in the progress of the Reformation recalled (p. 131) Luther to Wittenberg. He felt that his presence was necessary to restrain Carlstadt and others, and, defying any danger to which he might still be exposed, he returned in 1522 to the old scene of his labors, rebuked the unruly spirits who had acquired power in his absence, and resumed with renewed energy his interrupted work. He strove to arrest the excesses of the Zwickau fanatics, and counselled peace and order to the inflamed peasants; while he warned the princes and nobles of the unchristian cruelty of many of their doings, which had driven the people to exasperation and frenzy. At no period of his life is he greater than now, in the stand which he made against lawlessness on the one hand and tyranny on the other. He vindicated his claim to be a reformer in the highest sense by the wise and manly part which he acted in this great social crisis in the history of Germany. In this year also he published his acrimonious reply to Henry VIII. on the seven sacraments. Although he had been at first united in a common cause with Erasmus, estrangement had gradually sprung up between the scholar of Rotterdam and the enthusiastic reformer of Wittenberg. This estrangement came to an open breach in the year 1525, when Erasmus published his treatise "De Libero Arbitrio." Luther immediately followed with his counter-treatise "De Servo Arbitrio." The controversy raged loudly between them; and in the vehemence of his hostility to the doctrine of Erasmus, Luther was led into various assertions of a very questionable kind, besides indulging in the wild abuse of his opponent's character. The quarrel was an unhappy one on both sides; and it must be confessed there is especially a want of generosity in the manner in which Luther continued to cherish the dislike which sprang out of it.

In the course of the same year Luther married Katharina von Bora, one of nine nuns who, under the influence of his teaching, had emancipated themselves from their religious vows. The step rejoiced his enemies and even alarmed some of his friends, like Melancthon. But it greatly contributed to his happiness, while it served to enrich and strengthen his character. All the most interesting and touching glimpses we get of him henceforth are in connection with his wife and children.

Two years after his marriage he fell into a dangerous sickness and depression of spirits, from which he was only aroused by the dangers besetting Christendom from the advance of the Turks. Two years later, in 1529, he engaged in his famous conference at Marburg with Zwingli and other Swiss divines. The following year finds him at Coburg, while the diet sat at Augsburg. It was deemed prudent to intrust the interests of the Protestant cause to Melancthon, who attended the diet, but Luther removed to Coburg to be at hand for consultation. The drawing up of the Augsburg Confession marks the culmination of the German Reformation (1530); and the life of Luther from henceforth possesses comparatively little interest. He survived sixteen years longer, but they are years marked by few incidents of importance. He died at Eisleben on February 18, 1546, and was buried at Wittenberg.

Luther's character presents an imposing combination of great qualities. Endowed with broad human sympathies, massive energy, manly and affectionate (p. 132) simplicity, and rich, if sometimes coarse humor, he is at the same time a spiritual genius. His intuitions of divine truth were bold, vivid, and penetrating, if not comprehensive; and he possessed the art which God alone gives to the finer and abler spirits that He calls to do special work in this world, of kindling other souls with the fire of his own convictions, and awakening them to a higher consciousness of religion and duty. He was a leader of men, therefore, and a Reformer in the highest sense. His powers were fitted to his appointed task; it was a task of Titanic magnitude, and he was a Titan in intellectual robustness and moral strength and courage. It was only the divine energy which swayed him, and of which he recognized himself the organ, that could have accomplished what he did.

View him as a mere theologian, and there are others who take higher rank. There is a lack of patient thoughtfulness and philosophical temper in his doctrinal discussions; but the absence of these very qualities gave vigor to his bold, if sometimes crude, conceptions, and enabled him to triumph in the struggle for life and death in which he was engaged. To initiate the religious movement which was destined to renew the face of Europe, required a gigantic will, which, instead of being crushed by opposition, or frightened by hatred, should only gather strength from the fierceness of the conflict before it. To clear the air thoroughly, as he himself said, thunder and lightning are necessary. Upon the whole, it may be said that history presents few greater characters—few that excite at once more love and admiration, and in which we see tenderness, humor, and a certain picturesque grace and poetic sensibility more happily combined with a lofty and magnanimous, if sometimes rugged, sublimity.

Luther's works are very voluminous, partly in Latin, and partly in German. Among those of more general interest are his Table-Talk, his letters, and sermons. His Commentaries on Galatians and the Psalms are still read; and he was one of the great leaders of sacred song, his hymns, rugged but intense and expressive, having an enduring power.

As an example of his more tender writing, take his letter to his little son Hans:

"Grace and peace in Christ. My dear little son, I am glad to hear that thou learnest well and prayest diligently. Do this, my son, and continue it; when I return home I will bring thee a fine fairing.

"I know a beautiful, cheerful garden, in which many children walk about. They have golden coats on, and gather beautiful apples under the trees, and pears, and cherries, and plums; they sing and jump about, and are merry; they have also fine little horses with golden bridles and silver saddles. And I asked the man, 'Whose children are they?' He replied, 'These are the children who like to pray and learn and are pious.' Then I said, 'My good man, I have a son; his name is Hans Luther; may he not also come to this garden to eat such nice apples and pears, and ride such fine little horses, and play with these children?' And the man said, 'If he likes to pray and learn, and is pious, he shall come to this garden with Lippus and Just; and when they all come together, (p. 133) they shall have pipes and cymbals, lutes, and other musical instruments; and dance and shoot with little cross-bows.'

"And he showed me a fine meadow in the garden, prepared for dancing: there being nothing but golden pipes, cymbals, and beautiful silver cross-bows. But it was yet early, and the children had not dined. Therefore I could not wait for the dancing, and said to the man, 'My good master, I will go quickly and write all this to my dear little son Hans, that he may pray diligently, learn well, and be pious, that he also may be admitted into this garden; but he hath an aunt Lena whom he must bring with him.' The man answered, 'So be it; go and write this to him.'

"Therefore, my dear little son Hans, learn and pray with all confidence; and tell this to Lippus and Just, that they also may learn and pray; and ye will all meet in this beautiful garden. Herewith I commend thee to Almighty God. Give greetings to Aunt Lena, and also a kiss from me,[Back to Contents]

"Thy loving father,

"Martin Luther."


Charles V.

Charles V., who ruled over more kingdoms than any other European monarch before or since, who was the most powerful ruler of his century, and who, on the whole, used his great power wisely and well, was born at Ghent, February 24, 1500. His parents were the Archduke Philip, son of the Emperor Maximilian, and Joanna, daughter of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile. To those united kingdoms Charles succeeded on the death of his grandfather Ferdinand, in 1516. The early part of his reign was stormy; a Flemish regency and Flemish ministers became hateful to the Spaniards, and their discontent broke out into civil war. The Castilian rebels assumed the name of The Holy League, and seemed animated by a spirit not unlike that of the English Commons under the Stuarts. Spain was harassed by these internal contests until 1522, when they were calmed by the presence of Charles, whose prudence and, we may hope, his humanity, put an end to the rebellion. He made (p. 134) some examples, but soon held his hand, with the declaration, that "too much blood had been spilt." An amnesty was more effectual than severities, and the royal authority was strengthened, as it will seldom fail to be, by clemency. Some of his courtiers informed him of the place where one of the ring leaders was concealed. His answer is worthy of everlasting remembrance: "You ought to warn him that I am here, rather than acquaint me where he is."

Spain, the Two Sicilies, the Low Countries, and Franche Comté, belonged to Charles V. by inheritance; and by his grandfather Maximilian's intervention he was elected king of the Romans; nor had he to wait long before that prince's death, in 1519, cleared his path to the empire. But Francis I. of France was also a candidate for the imperial crown, with the advantage of being six years senior to Charles, and of having already given proof of military talent. The Germans, however, were jealous of their liberties; and not unreasonably dreading the power of each competitor, rejected both. Their choice fell on Frederic, Elector of Saxony, surnamed the Wise, celebrated as the protector of Luther; but that prince declined the splendid boon, and recommended Charles, on the plea that a powerful emperor was required to stop the rapid progress of the Turkish arms.

The political jealousy, embittered by personal emulation, which existed between the Emperor and the King of France, broke out into war in 1521. France, Navarre, and the Low Countries were at times the seat of the long contest which ensued; but chiefly Italy. The duchy of Milan had been conquered by Francis in 1515. It was again wrested from the French by the emperor in 1522. In 1523, a strong confederacy was formed against France, by the Pope, the Emperor, the King of England, the Archduke Ferdinand, to whom his brother Charles had ceded the German dominions of the House of Austria, the states of Milan, Venice, and Genoa; all united against a single power. And in addition, the celebrated Constable of Bourbon became a traitor to France to gratify his revenge; brought his brilliant military talents to the emperor's service, and was invested with the command of the Imperial troops in Italy. To this formidable enemy Francis opposed his weak and presumptuous favorite, the Admiral Bonnivet, who was driven out of Italy in 1524, the year in which the gallant Bayard lost his life in striving to redeem his commander's errors.

The confidence of Francis seemed to increase with his dangers, and his faults with his confidence. He again entered the Milanese in 1525, and retook the capital. But Bonnivet was his only counsellor; and under such guidance the siege of Pavia was prosecuted with inconceivable rashness, and the battle of Pavia fought without a chance of gaining it. Francis was taken prisoner, and wrote thus to his mother, the Duchess of Angoulême: "Everything is lost, except our honor." This Spartan spirit has been much admired; but whether justly, may be a question. From a Bayard, nothing could have been better; but the honor of a king is not confined to fighting a battle; and this specimen, like the conduct of Francis in general, proves him to have been the mirror of knighthood, rather than of royalty.

Charles, notwithstanding his victory at Pavia, did not invade France, but, as (p. 135) the price of freedom, he prescribed the harshest conditions to the captive king. At first they were rejected, but his haughty spirit and conscience were at length both reconciled to the casuistry that the fulfilment of forced promises may be eluded. Francis, therefore, consented to the treaty of Madrid, made in 1526, by which it was stipulated that he should give up his claims in Italy and the Low Countries; surrender the Duchy of Burgundy to Spain; and return into captivity if these conditions were not fulfilled in six weeks. When once at large, instead of executing the treaty, he formed a league with the Pope, the King of England, and the Venetians, to maintain the liberty of Italy. The Pope absolved him from his oaths, and he refused to return into Spain. The passions of the rival monarchs were now much excited, and challenges and the lie were exchanged between them. No duel was fought, nor probably intended; but the notoriety of the challenge went far to establish a false point of punctilio, we will not call it honor, among gentlemen, and single combats became more frequent than in the ages of barbarism.

In 1529, the course of these calamities was suspended by the treaty of Cambray, negotiated in person by two women. The Duchess of Angoulême and Margaret of Austria, governess of the Low Countries, met in that city, and settled the terms of pacification between the rival monarchs.

For Charles's honorable conduct on Luther's appearance before the diet of Worms, the reader may refer to the life of the reformer in the present volume. The cause of Lutheranism gained ground at the diet of Nuremberg; and if Charles had declared in favor of the Lutherans, all Germany would probably have changed its religion. As it was, the Reformation made progress during the war between the emperor and Clement VII. All that Charles acquired from the diet of Spire, in 1526, was to wait patiently for a general council, without encouraging novelties. In 1530, he assisted in person at the diet of Augsburg, when the Protestants (a name bestowed on the reformers in consequence of the protest entered by the Elector of Saxony and others at the second diet of Spire) presented their confession, drawn up by Melancthon, the most moderate of Luther's disciples. About this time Charles procured the election of his brother Ferdinand as king of the Romans, on the plea that, in his absence, the empire required a powerful chief to make head against the Turks. This might be only a pretence for family aggrandizement; but the emperor became seriously apprehensive lest the Lutherans, if provoked, should abandon the cause of Christendom, and policy therefore conceded what zeal would have refused. By a treaty concluded with the Protestants at Nuremberg, and ratified at Ratisbon in 1531, Charles granted them liberty of conscience till a council should be held, and annulled all sentences passed against them by the imperial chamber; on this they engaged to give him powerful assistance against the Turks.

In 1535, Muley Hassan, the exiled king of Tunis, implored Charles's aid against the pirate Barbarossa, who had usurped his throne. The emperor eagerly seized the opportunity of acquiring fame by the destruction of that pest of Spain and Italy. He carried a large army into Africa, defeated Barbarossa, and (p. 136) marched to Tunis. The city surrendered, being in no condition to resist, and while the conqueror was deliberating what terms to grant, the soldiery sacked it, committed the most atrocious violence, and are said to have massacred more than thirty thousand persons. This outrage tarnished the glory of the expedition, which was entirely successful. Muley Hassan was restored to his throne.

In 1536 a fresh dispute for the possession of the Milanese broke out between the King of France and the Emperor. It began with negotiation, artfully protracted by Charles, who promised the investiture, sometimes to the second, sometimes to the youngest, son of his formerly impetuous rival, whom he thus amused, while he took measures to crush him by the weight of his arms. But if misfortune had made the King of France too cautious, prosperity had inspired Charles with a haughty presumption, which gave the semblance of stability to every chimerical vision of pride. In 1536 he attempted the conquest of France by invading Provence; but his designs were frustrated by a conduct so opposite to the national genius of the French that it induced them to murmur against their general. Charles, however, felt by experience the prudence of those measures which sacrificed individual interests to the general good by making a desert of the whole country. Francis marked his impotent hatred by summoning the emperor before parliament by the simple name of Charles of Austria, as his vassal for the counties of Artois and Flanders. The charge was the infraction of the treaty of Cambray, the offence was laid as felony, to abide the judgment of the court of peers. On the expiration of the legal term, two fiefs were decreed to be confiscated. A fresh source of hostility broke out on the death of the young Dauphin of France, who was said to have been poisoned, and the king accused Charles V. of the crime. But there is neither proof nor probability to support the charge; and the accused could have no interest to commit the act imputed to him, since there were two surviving sons still left to Francis.

But the resources even of Charles were exhausted by his great exertions; arrears were due to his troops, who mutinied everywhere from his inability to pay them. He therefore assembled the Cortes, or states-general, of Castile, at Toledo, in 1539, stated his wants, and demanded subsidies. The clergy and nobility pleaded their own exemption and refused to impose new taxes on the other orders. Charles, in anger, dissolved the Cortes, and declared the nobles and prelates forever excluded from that body, on the ground that men who pay no taxes have no right to a voice in the national assemblies. But the people of Ghent made a more serious resistance to authority, on account of a tax which infringed their privileges. They offered to transfer their allegiance to Francis, who did not avail himself of the proposal, not from either conscientious or chivalrous scruples, but because his views were all centred in Milan; he therefore betrayed his Flemish clients to the emperor, in hopes of obtaining the investiture of the Italian duchy. By holding out the expectation of this boon, Charles obtained a safe-conduct for his passage through France into Flanders, whither he was anxious to repair without loss of time. His presence soon reduced the insurgents. The inhabitants of Ghent opened their gates to him on his fortieth birthday, in 1540; and he (p. 137) entered his native city, in his own words, "as their sovereign and their judge, with the sceptre and the sword." He punished twenty-nine of the principal citizens with death, the town with the forfeiture of its privileges, and the people by a heavy fine for the building of a citadel to coerce them. He broke his word with Francis by bestowing the Milanese on his own son, afterward Philip II.

Our limits will not allow of our detailing the circumstances of the emperor's calamitous expedition against Algiers; but his courage, constancy, and humanity in distress and danger, claim a sympathy for his misfortunes which is withheld from the selfish and wily career of his prosperity.

Francis devised new grounds for war, and allied himself with Sweden, Denmark, and the Sultan Soliman. This is the first instance of a confederacy with the North. But he had alienated the Protestants of Germany by his severe measures against the Lutherans, and Henry VIII. by crossing the marriage of his son Edward with Mary of Scotland, yet in her cradle. Henry therefore leagued with the emperor, who found it convenient to bury the injuries of Catherine of Aragon in her grave. The war was continued during the two following years with varying success: the most remarkable events were the capture of Boulogne by the English, and the great victory won by the French over the Imperialists at Cerisolles, Piedmont, in 1544. In the autumn of that year a treaty was concluded at Crespi, between Charles and Francis, involving the ordinary conditions of marriage and mutual renunciations, with the curious clause that both should make joint war against the Turks. In the same year the embarrassments created by the war, and the imminent danger of Hungary, increased the boldness of the German Protestants belonging to the league of Smalkald, and the emperor, while presiding at the diet of Spire, won them over by consenting to the free exercise of their religion.

The Catholics had always demanded a council, which was convened at Trent in 1545. The Protestants refused to acknowledge its authority, and the emperor no longer affected fairness toward them. In 1546 he joined Pope Paul III. in a league against them, by a treaty in terms contradictory to his own public protestations. Paul himself was so imprudent as to reveal the secret, and it enabled the Protestants to raise a formidable army in defence of their religion and liberties. But the Electors of Cologne and Brandenburg, and the Elector Palatine, resolved to remain neuter. Notwithstanding this secession, the war might have been ended at once, had the confederates attacked Charles while he lay at Ratisbon with very few troops, instead of wasting time by writing a manifesto, which he answered by putting the Elector of Saxony and the Landgrave of Hesse under the ban of the empire. He foresaw those divisions which soon came to pass by Maurice of Saxony's seizure of his cousin's electorate.

Delivered by the death of Francis in 1547, in which year Henry VIII. also died, from the watchful supervision of a jealous and powerful rival, and relieved from the fear of the Turks by a five years' truce, Charles was at liberty to bend his whole strength against the revolted princes of Germany. He marched against the Elector Frederick of Saxony, who was defeated at Mulhausen, (p. 138) taken prisoner, and condemned to death by a court-martial composed of Italians and Spaniards, in contempt of the laws of the empire. The sentence was communicated to the prisoner while playing at chess; his firmness was not shaken, and he tranquilly said, "I shall die without reluctance, if my death will save the honor of my family and the inheritance of my children." He then finished his game. But his wife and family could not look at his death so calmly; at their entreaty he surrendered his electorate into the emperor's hands. The other chief of the Protestant league, the Landgrave of Hesse, was also forced to submit, and detained in captivity, contrary to the pledged word of the emperor; who, fearless of any further resistance to his supreme authority, convoked a diet at Augsburg in 1548. At that assembly Maurice was invested with Saxony, and the emperor, in the vain hope of enforcing a uniformity of religious practice, published by his own authority a body of doctrine called the "Interim," to be in force till a general council should be assembled. This necessarily was unsatisfactory to both parties, but its observance was enforced by a master with whom terror was the engine of obedience.

These measures, however, did not preserve tranquillity long in Germany. Maurice of Saxony and the Elector of Brandenburg urged the deliverance of the Landgrave of Hesse, as having made themselves sureties against violence to his person. Charles answered by absolving them from their pledges. The Protestants, of course, charged him as arrogating the same spiritual authority with the popes. And Maurice, offended at the slight put upon him, directed his artful policy to the humiliation of Charles. He had compelled his subjects to conform to the Interim by the help of the timid Melancthon, who was no longer supported by the firmness of Luther. On the other hand, he had silenced the clamors of the more sturdy by a public avowal of his zeal for the Reformation. In the meantime the diet of Augsburg, completely at the emperor's devotion, had named him general of the war against Magdeburg, which had been placed under the ban of the empire for opposition to the Interim. He took that Lutheran city, but by private assurances regained the good-will of the inhabitants. He also engaged in a league with France, but still wore the mask. He even deceived the able Granville, Bishop of Arras, afterward cardinal, who boasted that "a drunken German could never impose on him;" yet was he of all others most imposed on. At last, in 1552, Maurice declared himself; and Henry II. of France published a manifesto, assuming the title of "Protector of the liberties of Germany and its captive princes." He began with the conquest of the three bishoprics of Toul, Baden, and Metz. In conjunction with Maurice he had lain a plan for surprising Charles at Innspruck, and getting possession of his person, and the daring attempt had almost succeeded. Charles was forced to escape by night during a storm, in a paroxysm of gout, and was carried across the Alps in a litter. These disputes were adjusted in 1555, at the diet of Augsburg, by the solemn grant of entire freedom of worship to the Protestants. The King of France was abandoned by his allies, and scarcely named in the treaty.

Charles V. on his way to the convent.

Henry resolved to defend his acquisition of the three bishoprics, and Charles (p. 139) to employ his whole force for their recovery. The Duke of Guise made adequate preparations for the defence of Metz, the siege of which the emperor was compelled to raise after sixty-five days spent in fruitless efforts, with the loss of 30,000 men by skirmishes and battles, and by diseases incident to the severity of the season. "I perceive," said he, "that Fortune, like other females, forsakes old men, to lavish her favors on the young." This sentiment probably sunk deeper into his reflections than might be inferred from the sarcastic terms in which it was clothed: for in the year 1556, after various events of war, alternately calamitous to the subjects of both nations, he astonished Europe by his abdication in favor of his son. In an assembly of the states at Brussels, he addressed Philip in a speech which melted the audience into tears. The concluding passage, as given by Robertson, is worth transcribing. "Preserve an inviolable regard for religion; maintain the Catholic faith in its purity; let the laws of your country be sacred in your eyes; encroach not on the rights and privileges of your people; and if the time should ever come when you shall wish to enjoy the tranquillity of private life, may you have a son endowed with such qualities that you can resign your sceptre to him with as much satisfaction as I give up mine to you!" Charles retired into a monastery, where he died after more than two years passed in deep melancholy, and in practices of devotion inconsistent with sound health, when only between fifty-eight and fifty-nine years of age. His activity and talents had been the theme of universal admiration, the ardor of his ambitious policy had been extreme, and his knowledge of mankind profound; but he should have followed up the objects of his high aspirations by a straighter road. His glory would have been truly enviable had he devoted his efforts to the happiness of his subjects, instead of harassing their minds by dissensions, and mowing down their lives by hundreds of thousands in war.

To the statesman or the politician the history of this period is an inexhaustible fund of instruction and interest, and to the general reader it is rendered more than usually attractive by the almost dramatic contrast of character among the principal actors in the scene. Francis seems to have been the representative of the expiring school of chivalry; Charles was not the representative, but the founder of the modern system of state policy; Henry was the representative of ostentation, violence, and selfishness, to be found in all ages.[Back to Contents]

(p. 140) JOHN CALVIN


John Calvin was born at Noyon, in Picardy, on July 10, 1509. His father, Gerard Caulvin or Cauvin, was procureur-fiscal of the district of Noyon, and secretary of the diocese. He was one of six children—four sons and two daughters. All the three sons who survived were ecclesiastics; and the reformer himself, while still only twelve years of age, was appointed to a chaplaincy in the cathedral church of Noyon. Calvin was educated in circumstances of ease and even affluence. The noble family of De Mortmar, in the neighborhood, invited him to share in the studies of their children; he was in some measure adopted by them; and when the family went to Paris, in his fourteenth year, he accompanied them. He was entered as a pupil in the College de la Marche, under the regency of Mathurin Cordier, better remembered, perhaps, by his Latin name of Corderius. It was under this distinguished master that Calvin laid the foundation of his own wonderful mastery of the Latin language. During this early period he was so distinguished by the great activity of his mental powers and the grave severity of his manners that his companions, it is said, surnamed him "The Accusative."

For a while his attention was directed to the study of law, and his father sent him to the university of Orleans, then adorned by Pierre de l'Étoile, one of the most famous jurists of his day. At Orleans he continued the same life of rigorous temperance and earnest studiousness for which he was already noted. It was while a law-student in Orleans that he became acquainted with the Scriptures, and received his first impulse to the theological studies which have made his name so distinguished. A relative of his own, Pierre Robert Olivetan, was there engaged in a translation of the Scriptures; and this had the effect of drawing Calvin's attention, and awakening within him the religious instinct which was soon to prove the master-principle of his life. The seeds of the new faith were now beyond doubt sown in his heart, and from this time, although he still continued for a while longer to pursue his legal studies, his main interests appear to have been religious and theological. From Orleans he went to Bourges, where he acquired the knowledge of Greek, under the tuition of a learned German, Melchior Wolmar. He began here to preach the reformed doctrines, and passed over into the ranks of Protestantism, under the slow but sure growth of his new convictions rather than under the agitation of any violent feeling. Here, as everywhere, his life presents a marked contrast to that of Luther.

(p. 141) He proceeded to Paris in 1533, which at this date had become a centre of the "new learning," under the teaching of Lefèvre and Farel, and the influence of the Queen of Navarre, sister of Francis I. The Sorbonne itself had not escaped the infection. There was a growing religious excitement in the university, in the court, and even among the bishops. This, however, was not to last. The king was soon stirred up to take active measures to quell this rising spirit, and the result was that Calvin and others were obliged to flee for their lives. After this he repaired for a short time to his native place, resigned the preferment he held in the Roman Catholic Church, and for a year or two led a wandering life, sheltered in various places. We find him at Saintorge; at Nerac, the residence of the Queen of Navarre; at Angoulême, with his friend Louis du Tillet; then for a brief while at Paris again. Persecutions against the Protestants at this time raged so hotly that Calvin was no longer safe in France, and he betook himself to Basel, whence he issued, in the year 1536, the first edition of his "Christianæ Religionis Institutio," with the famous preface addressed to Francis I. The concentrated vigor and intensity of feeling of this address, rising into indignant remonstrance, and at times into pathetic and powerful influence, make it one of the most memorable documents in connection with the Reformation. After completing this great service to the cause of Protestantism, he made a short visit to Italy, to Renée, the Duchess of Ferrara. Finally, he revisited his native town, sold the paternal estate, which had devolved to him on the death of his eldest brother, and, bidding Noyon adieu, set out, in company with his younger brother and sister, on his way to Strasbourg. The direct road being rendered dangerous by the armies of Charles V., which had penetrated into France, he sought a circuitous route through Savoy and Geneva.

The result of this journey was memorable for the cause of the Reformation. Arrived in Geneva, in the autumn of 1536, he met there his friend, Louis du Tillet, who communicated the fact of his arrival to Farel, then in the very midst of his struggle to promote the Reformation. Farel hastened to see him, and urge upon him the duty of remaining where he was, and undertaking his share of the work of God. Calvin did not at first respond to the call. He was given, he himself says, to his "own intense thoughts and private studies." He wished to devote himself to the service of the reformed churches generally, rather than to the care of any particular church. By some strange insight, however, Farel penetrated to the higher fitness of the young stranger who stood before him, and he ventured to lay the curse of God upon him and his studies if he refused his aid to the church of Geneva in her time of need. "It was," Calvin said, "as if God had seized me by his awful hand from heaven." He abandoned his intention of pursuing his journey, and joined eagerly with Farel in the work of reformation.

Having entered upon his task, he soon infused an energy into it which crowned the struggling efforts of Farel with success. The hierarchical authority was already overturned before his arrival; the citizens had asserted their independence against the Duke of Savoy. The magistrates and people eagerly joined (p. 142) with the reformers in the first heat of their freedom and their zeal. A Protestant Confession of Faith was drawn out, approved of by the Council of Two Hundred, and then proclaimed in the cathedral church of St. Peter. Great and marvellous changes were wrought in a short time upon the manners of the people; where license and frivolity had reigned, a strict moral severity began to characterize the whole aspect of society. The strain, however, was too sudden and too extreme. A spirit of rebellion against the rule of Calvin and Farel broke forth; but they refused to yield to the wishes of a party animated by a more easy and liberal spirit than themselves, and known in the history of Geneva under the nickname of Libertines; and the consequence was that they were both expelled from the city after less than two years' residence.

A procession.

Calvin retreated to Strasbourg, and devoted himself to theological study, especially to his critical labors on the New Testament. Here, in October, 1539, he married the widow of a converted Anabaptist.

The Genevans found, after a short time, that they could not well get on without Calvin. His rule might be rigid; but an authority even such as his was better than no settled authority at all; and the Libertine party seem to have been unable to construct any efficient and beneficent form of government. Accordingly, they invited Calvin to return; and, after some delay on his part, in order to test the spirit in which they were acting, he acceded to their invitation, and in the autumn of 1541, after three years' absence, once more made his entry into Geneva.

Now, at length, he succeeded in establishing his plan of church-government. By his College of Pastors and Doctors, and his Consistorial Court of Discipline, he founded a theocracy, which aimed virtually to direct all the affairs of the city, and to control and modify both the social and individual life of the citizens. The Libertines still remained a strong party, which was even augmented after Calvin's return, by men such as Ami Perrin, who had strongly concurred in the invitation to Calvin, but who were afterward alienated from him by the high hand with which he pursued his designs, as well as by their own schemes of ambition. The struggle with this party lasted, with varying fortune, for no less a period than fifteen years, and was only terminated in 1555, after a somewhat ridiculous émeute in the streets. Perrin and others, driven from the city, were executed (p. 143) in effigy; and the reformer's authority from this date was confirmed into an absolute supremacy. During the long struggle with the Libertines occurred also Calvin's controversies with Sebastian Castellio, Jerome Bolsec, and above all, Michael Servetus.

After the execution of Servetus, and the expulsion of the Libertines two years later, Calvin's power in Geneva was firmly established, and he used it vigorously and beneficently for the defence of Protestantism throughout Europe. By the mediation of Beza he made his influence felt in France in the great struggle that was there going on between the hierarchical party, with the Guises at its head, and the Protestants, led by Condé and Coligny. In 1561 his energies began to fail. He had been long suffering from bad health, though his strength of will and buoyancy of intellect sustained him; but his health grew very much worse, and although he survived for more than two years, he never regained any vigor. He died on May 27, 1564.

Very different estimates have been formed of Calvin's character. None, however, can dispute his intellectual greatness or the powerful services which he rendered to the cause of Protestantism. Stern in spirit and unyielding in will, he is never selfish or petty in his motives. Nowhere amiable, he is everywhere strong. Arbitrary and cruel when it suits him, he is yet heroic in his aims, and beneficent in the scope of his ambition. His moral purpose is always clear and definite: to live a life of duty, to shape circumstances to such divine ends as he apprehended, and in whatever sphere he might be placed, to work out the glory of God.

He rendered a double service to Protestantism, which, apart from anything else, would have made his name illustrious: he systematized its doctrine, and he organized its ecclesiastical discipline. He was at once the great theologian of the Reformation, and the founder of a new church polity which did more than all other influences together to consolidate the scattered forces of the Reformation and give them an enduring strength. As a religious teacher, as a social legislator, and as a writer, especially of the French language, whose modern prose style was then in process of formation, his fame is second to none in his age, and must always conspicuously adorn the history of civilization.

His famous "Institutio" entitles Calvin to the foremost place among the dogmatic theologians of the Reformed Church. This masterpiece of luminous argument presents a complete system of Christian faith, based on the Protestant principle that the Scriptures are the source of Christian truth. "Two things there are," says Hooker, in the preface to the "Ecclesiastical Polity," "which have deservedly procured him honor throughout the world—the one, his exceeding pains in composing the 'Institutions of the Christian Religion;' the other, his no less industrious travails for exposition of Holy Scripture." His Commentaries embrace the greater part of the Old Testament and the whole of the New, except the Revelation, and place him in the front rank of expositors of Scripture.[Back to Contents]

(p. 144) JOHN KNOX
By P. Hume Brown

John Knox.

John Knox, the great Scottish Reformer, was born at Giffordgate, a suburb of the town of Haddington, in 1505, the year preceding the birth of his famous countryman, George Buchanan. Knox has himself told us in a single sentence all that is definitely known of his family connections: "My lord," he represents himself as saying to the notorious Earl of Bothwell, "my grandfather, grandsire (maternal grandfather), and father have served under your lordship's predecessors, and some of them have died under their standards." He received the elements of his education in the grammar school of his native town, and in 1522 was sent to the University of Glasgow. St. Andrews was nearer his home, and possessed the more famous university; but he was probably drawn to Glasgow by the fame of the most distinguished literary Scotchman of his generation—John Major, the schoolman. For this reason, at least, Buchanan was sent to St. Andrews, though Glasgow was nearer his native place, when Major had migrated to the former university. At Glasgow, under Major, Knox could have been subjected to none of the influences of the great intellectual revolution which substituted for the studies and methods of mediævalism the ideas of the Revival of Letters. Like all his educated contemporaries, he learned to speak and write Latin with perfect fluency; but it was always with an idiom that showed he had none of the humanist's scruples regarding purity of language. What he learned from Major was the art for which that scholar was renowned throughout Europe—the art of logical exercitation; and Knox's writings everywhere show that all through life he had a natural delight in the play of dialectic. He left the university without taking the degree of master of arts, thus by the conditions of all the mediæval universities precluding himself from the career of an academic teacher.

During the eighteen years that follow his leaving the university, Knox passes completely out of sight. All that is known of him during this period is that, from 1540 to 1543, he acted as notary in his native town of Haddington. As in the documents that establish this fact his name appears with the addition of "Sir," the title of priests who were not Masters of Arts, Knox must have been in orders in the Church of Rome till as late as 1543. In 1544 we find him acting as tutor to the sons of Douglas of Lorgniddry and Cockburn of Ormiston—families, it is (p. 145) to be noted, both favorably disposed to the new opinions in religion now making their way in Scotland. Through these families he was brought into contact with George Wishart, who had lately returned from travelling in Germany and England, with the burning zeal to gain his country to the Lutheran reformation. From this period the future direction of Knox's life was decided, and thenceforward, with an intensity and self-devotion never surpassed, he is the apostle of the cause with which his name is forever identified—the establishment in Scotland of what he deemed the only true conception of the primitive church as based on the teaching of Christ and the apostles. We have reason to believe that, even before this date, his sympathies were on the side of reform in religion, but the teaching and example of Wishart seem first to have brought to him the clear consciousness of his mission. Knox identified himself with Wishart with all the impetuosity of his character, and was in the habit, he tells us, of carrying a two-handed sword before the preacher. When Wishart was seized by the emissaries of Cardinal Beaton, Knox would willingly have attended him to the last; but Wishart, who knew the fate in store for him, rejected the offer. "Return to your bairns" (meaning Knox's pupils), he said, "and God bless you. One is sufficient for one sacrifice."

Wishart was burned in St. Andrews in March, 1546, and in May of the same year Cardinal Beaton was murdered. The cardinal's murderers held possession of the castle of St. Andrews; and, as Knox was known to be the enemy of Beaton (though he had no share in his assassination), he was forced (1547) for his own safety to join them with his pupils. Here his zeal and theological attainments made him so conspicuous that, at the instance of the leaders of the reforming party (Sir David Lyndsay among the rest), he was formally called to the ministry, and preached with much acceptance in the castle and parish church of St. Andrews. A few months later the castle surrendered to the French; and, in the teeth of the express terms of capitulation, the more prominent of the besieged party were sent as prisoners on board the French galleys. For eighteen months Knox remained a captive, his first winter being spent in a galley on the Loire, the second in prison in Rouen. His constitution was not naturally robust, and his hard experience during these two years seriously impaired his health for the rest of his life. The breach of faith on the part of the French, and the ignominy to which he was subjected, were never forgotten by Knox, and must in part explain and justify his life-long conviction that no good thing could come of French policy or French religion.

In February, 1549, on the express intercession of Edward VI., Knox regained his liberty. As it was still unsafe for him to return to Scotland, for the next four years, till the death of Edward VI., he made his home in England. From all that is known of him during these years, it is clear that he made himself a person to be reckoned with by those at the centre of authority in the country. By his preaching at Berwick he gave such offence to the Bishop of Durham that he was removed to Newcastle, where it was supposed his influence would be less mischievous. In 1551 he was appointed one of six chaplains to Edward VI., and in 1552, at the suggestion of the Duke of Northumberland, he (p. 146) was offered the bishopric of Rochester. As the duke's object in suggesting the appointment was simply to check, as far as he could, what he deemed the dangerous activity of Knox, the offer was unhesitatingly rejected. Knox's importance in England is still further proved by the fact that, along with five others, he was consulted by Archbishop Cranmer regarding his forty-five (afterward forty-two) articles of religion.

On Mary's accession, Knox, like the majority of the Reformed ministers, had to seek refuge on the continent. That he might be within call, should circumstances permit his return either to Scotland or England, he took up his abode at Dieppe till the beginning of the following year (1554), when he proceeded to Geneva. In July of this year he was again in Dieppe, "to learn the estate of England;" but with Mary of Lorraine as regent in Scotland, and Mary Tudor as Queen of England, he was convinced that for the present both these countries were closed against him. He accordingly accepted a call from the English congregation at Frankfort-on-the-Main, where, however, on account of a dispute regarding the use of the Book of Common Prayer, he remained only a few months. At Geneva he found a congregation of his own way of thinking; but, eager to be an apostle in his own country, he once more returned to Dieppe (August, 1555), whence he ventured into Scotland in September. He remained in Scotland till July of the next year, residing chiefly in Edinburgh, but making preaching journeys into various parts of the country. The new doctrines were steadily spreading in Scotland, but as yet their supporters were not strong enough to present a confident front against the government. It was at his own risk, therefore, that Knox remained in the country; and at the prayer of the congregation in Geneva, he returned to that town in July, 1556. It was probably during this visit to Scotland that he married his first wife, Marjory Bowes, to whom he seems to have been engaged during his sojourn in Newcastle. For the next two years he remained in Geneva, ministering to his congregation, and seeing much of Calvin, whose influence on Knox regarding all the great questions of the time was afterward to bear fruit in the ordering of affairs in Scotland. To this period also belong several of his minor writings, and notably his "First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment of Women," the publication of which he must afterward have regretted in the interest of the cause he had most at heart.

Meanwhile, in Scotland the ground was being prepared for the great work in store for Knox. Under Mary of Lorraine as regent, the French influence had come to be regarded as a danger to the independence of the country, and a sense of this danger threw many into the party of reform. The unworthy lives of the old clergy, and the cupidity of many of the nobles, worked in the same direction. In 1557 the advocates of reform bound themselves, by what is known as the First Covenant, to do all in their power to effect a religious revolution, and by 1558 they felt themselves strong enough to summon Knox to their aid in the work he deemed the mission of his life.

In May, 1559, Knox found himself again in Scotland, which he never again left for a prolonged period. He at once became the life and soul of his party. (p. 147) At the moment of his arrival the Lords of the Congregation, as the Protestant nobility termed themselves, were in open revolt against the regent. By his preaching at Perth and St. Andrews Knox gained these important towns to his cause, and by his labors in Edinburgh, of which he was appointed minister, he also won a strong party against the government. But the reformers, of their own resources, could not hold their ground against the regent, subsidized by France with money and soldiers. Mainly, therefore, through the efforts of Knox, who all through his public career was deep in the politics of the time, the assistance of England was obtained against what was now deemed the French invasion. The help of England proved effective, and by the treaty of Leith (1560), and the death of the regent the same year, the insurgent party became masters of the country. The estates of Parliament having met on August 1st, the ministers were ordered to draw up a Confession of Faith which should embody the new teaching, and on August 17th Protestantism was formally established as the religion of the country. Having gained thus much, the ministers, desirous of practical results from their victory, drew up the first Book of Discipline—a document ever memorable in the history of Scotland, and admirable in itself for its wise and liberal suggestions for the religious and educational organization of the country. These suggestions, however, were little to the mind of the majority of the Protestant nobles, who, "perceiving their carnal liberty and worldly commodity to be impaired thereby," sneeringly spoke of them as "devote imaginationis." In the revolution that had been accomplished Knox had been the leading spirit; but he saw that the victory was as yet only half gained, and that the deadliest struggle had still to be decided.

The return of the young queen to Scotland (August, 1561) revived all the old dissensions, and introduced new elements into the strife of parties. By every opinion she held on religion, on the relations of prince and subject, on the fundamental principles of life, Mary was separated as by an abyss from the party represented by Knox. If we may judge from the language which each used of the other, Knox and she failed to find one point on which genial intercourse was possible. As the minister of St. Giles (then the only Reformed church in Edinburgh), Knox believed that Mary was his special charge. Her personal conduct, therefore, no less than her public policy, were made the subject of his most stringent criticism; and during the six years of her reign his attitude toward her was that of uncompromising insistence. The celebration of mass in Holyrood Chapel, in defiance of the late religious settlement, first roused his wrath; and a sermon delivered by him in St. Giles led to the first of those famous interviews with Mary, the record of which makes such a remarkable portion of his "History of the Reformation." The division of ecclesiastical property, by which those in actual possession received two-thirds, the reformed ministers one-third, was a further ground of quarrel with the new government. The delay of Mary to confirm the late religious settlement also gave rise to the greatest anxiety on the part of Knox and his brother ministers. In view of the precarious interests of the great cause, Knox spoke out with such frankness (p. 148) as to alienate the most powerful noble in the country, and the one whom he respected most—Lord James Stuart, afterward the Regent Moray. The marriage of Mary with Darnley (1565), again, however, led them to common counsels, as both saw in this marriage the most serious menace against the new religion. In the subsequent revolt, headed by Moray and the other Protestant nobles, Knox nevertheless took no part, and remained at his charge in Edinburgh. But after the murder of Rizzio, he deemed it wise, considering Mary's disposition toward him, to withdraw to Kyle, in Ayrshire, where he appears to have written the greater part of his history.

The events of the next two years—the murder of Darnley, Mary's marriage with Bothwell, and her subsequent flight into England—again threw the management of affairs into the hands of the Protestant party; and under Moray as regent the acts of 1560, in favor of the reformed religion, were duly ratified by the estates of the realm. As in the former revolution, Knox was still the same formidable force the nobles had to reckon with; and at Stirling, at the coronation of James VI. (1567), he preached in that strain which gave his sermons the character and importance of public manifestoes. The assassination of Moray, in 1570, and the consequent formation of a strong party in favor of Mary, once more endangered the cause to which he had devoted his life, and the possession of the castle of Edinburgh by the queen's supporters forced him to remove to St. Andrews for safety. He had already had a stroke of apoplexy, and he was now but the wreck of his former self, but his spirit was as indomitable as ever. The description of him at this period, by James Melville, can never be omitted in any account of Knox. "Being in St. Andrews, he was very weak. I saw him every day of his doctrine go hulie and fear with a furring of martricks about his neck, a staff in the one hand, and good, godly Richart Ballanden, his servant, holding up the other, oxter from the abbey to the parish church; and be the said Richart and another servant lifted up to the pulpit where he behooved to loan, at his first entry, but or he had done with his sermon, he was so active and vigorous that he was like to ding that pulpit in blads, and fly out of it."

It was the desire of his congregation of St. Giles to hear him once more before he died. Accordingly, by short stages, he made his way to Edinburgh, and on November 9, 1572, at the induction of his successor in office, he made his last public appearance. He died the same month, at the age of sixty-seven, and was buried in the churchyard then attached to St. Giles, behind which church a small square stone in the pavement of Parliament Square, marked "J. K., 1572," now indicates the spot where he is supposed to lie. The saying of Regent Morton at his grave, "Here lieth a man who in his life never feared the face of man" (Calderwood), was the most memorable panegyric that could have been pronounced to his memory.

Knox was twice married. His first wife, Marjory Bowes, died in 1560, leaving him two sons. By his second wife, Margaret Stewart, daughter of Lord Ochiltree, whom (little more than a girl) he married in 1564, he had three daughters. His widow and all his family survived him.

(p. 149) In their broader features the character of Knox and of the work he achieved cannot be misread. In himself he stands as the pre-eminent type of the religious reformer—dominated by his one transcendent idea, indifferent or hostile to every interest of life that did not subserve its realization. He is sometimes spoken of as a fanatic; but the term is hardly applicable to one who combined in such a degree as Knox, the shrewdest worldly sense with an ever-ready wit and a native humor that declares itself in his most serious moments and in the treatment of the loftiest subjects. To blame him for intolerance or harshness is but to pass judgment on his age and on the type to which he belongs. It is his unquestionable tribute, that the work he accomplished was the fashioning anew of his country's destinies. It has to be added that by his "History of the Reformation in Scotland," Knox holds a place of his own in the history of literature. His narrative, as was to be expected, is that of one who saw only a single aspect of the events he chronicles; but the impress of the writer's individuality, stamped on every page, renders his work possibly unique in English literature.[Back to Contents]

By Samuel L. Knapp

Elizabeth I.

If the question respecting the equality of the sexes was to be determined by an appeal to the characters of sovereign princes, the comparison is, in proportion, manifestly in favor of woman, and that without having recourse to the trite and flippant observation, proved to have been ill-founded, of male and female influence. Elizabeth of England affords a glorious example in truth of this position.

Daughter of Henry VIII., a capricious tyrant, and of the imprudent and unfortunate Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth was born at Greenwich, on the banks of the Thames, September 7, 1533. Her infancy was unfortunate through the unhappy fate of her mother, but she was nevertheless educated with care and attention; in her yet infant faculties her father had the discernment to perceive uncommon strength and promise. Lady Champernoun, an accomplished and excellent woman, was appointed by Henry (p. 150) governess to the young princess. It appears to have been the custom of the times to instruct young women in the learned languages, an admirable substitute for fashionable and frivolous acquisitions; habits of real study and application have a tendency to strengthen the faculties and discipline the imagination. Mr. William Grindal was Elizabeth's first classical tutor; with him she made a rapid progress. From other masters she received the rudiments of modern languages; at eleven years of age she translated out of French verse into English prose "The Mirror of the Sinful Soul," which she dedicated to Catherine Parr, sixth wife to Henry VIII. At twelve years of age she translated from the English into Latin, French, and Italian, prayers and meditations, etc., collected from different authors by Catherine, Queen of England. These she dedicated to her father, December 30, 1545; MS. in the royal library at Westminster. She also, about the same period, translated from the French "The Meditations of Margaret, Queen of Navarre, etc.," published by Bale, 1548.

Mr. Ascham thus speaks of Elizabeth in a letter to Sir John Cheke: "It can scarcely be credited to what degree of skill in the Latin and Greek she might arrive, if she should proceed in that course of study wherein she hath begun by the guidance of Grindal." In 1548 she had the misfortune to lose her tutor, who died of the plague. At this time, it is observed by Camden, that she was versed in the Latin, French, Spanish, and Italian tongues, had some knowledge of the Greek, was well skilled in music, and both sung and played with art and sweetness.

After the death of her father, her brother, King Edward, who tenderly loved her, encouraged her in her studies and literary pursuits, while, without imposition or restraint, he left her to choose her own principles and preceptors. To supply the loss of her tutor she addressed herself to the celebrated Roger Ascham, who, at her solicitation, left Cambridge and consented to become her instructor. Under him she read the orations of Æschines, and Demosthenes' "On the Crown," in Greek, and understood at first sight not only the force and propriety of the language and the meaning of the orator, but the whole scheme of the laws, customs, and manners of the Athenians. By Doctor Grindal, professor of theology, she was initiated into the subtleties of polemic divinity, to which she gave assiduous application. Such, during the short reign of her brother, was the laudable and tranquil time of her life, and by these occupations and pursuits she was prepared for the great part she was to act on the theatre of Europe.

In July, 1553, Mary, after the death of Edward, succeeded to the throne; and having received from her sister many favors and testimonies of esteem, she treated her at first with a form of regard; but Elizabeth was afterward imprisoned and harshly treated, even to the hazard of her life. Her sufferings were, however, mitigated by the interposition of Philip, the husband of Mary, for which she was ever grateful.

The reign, the bigotry, and the butchery of Mary, who, to do God service, amused herself by burning and torturing her people, lasted five years and four months. She died, fortunately for the nation, November 17, 1558. A parliament (p. 151) had been assembled a few days previous to her death, to which the chancellor notified the event. "God save Queen Elizabeth," resounded in joyful acclamations through both houses, while by the people a transport still more general and fervent was expressed.

The commencement of her reign was not less auspicious than its duration was prosperous to the country and glorious to herself. It is observed by Bayle that to say only that no woman reigned with more glory would be saying little. "It must be added that there have been but few great kings whose reigns are comparable to hers, it being the most beautiful period of English history."

Elizabeth when informed of the death of her sister, was at Hatfield, whence, after a few days, she proceeded to London, through crowds of people, who contended with each other in testimonies of joy and attachment. On entering the Tower she was affected with the comparison of her past and present situation; once a captive, exposed to the bigotry and malignity of her enemies, now a sovereign, triumphant over her adversaries, and the hope and joy of the nation. Falling on her knees she expressed her gratitude to heaven for the deliverance she had experienced from her persecutors, a deliverance, she declared, not less miraculous than that of Daniel from the den of lions. With a magnanimity that did her honor, and a prudence that evinced her judgment, she threw a veil over every offence that had been committed against her, and received graciously and with affability the most virulent of her enemies.

On the death of her sister, Elizabeth had, by her ambassador, signified her accession to the Pope, whose precipitate temper, insolent reflections, and extravagant demands, determined her to persevere in the plan she had already secretly embraced. While, to conciliate the Catholics she retained in her cabinet eleven of her sister's counsellors, she took care to balance their power by adding to their number eight partisans of the Protestant faith; among whom were Sir Nicholas Bacon, whom she created lord keeper, and Sir William Cecil, made Secretary of State.

Cecil assured her that the greater part of the nation, since the reign of her father, inclined to the reformation, though constrained to conceal their principles by the cruelties practised under the late reign. These arguments, to which other considerations and reasonings were added, founded on policy and on a knowledge of mankind, had their just weight with Elizabeth, and determined her to adopt the party which education and political wisdom equally inclined to her favor. Yet she wisely resolved to proceed gradually by safe and progressive steps. As symptoms of her future intentions, and with a view of encouraging the Protestants, whom persecution had discouraged and depressed, she recalled all the exiles, and gave liberty to those who had, on account of their religion, been confined in prison. She also altered the religious service, and gave orders that the Lord's prayer, the litany, the creed, and the gospels, should be read in the churches in the vulgar tongue; and she forbade the elevation of the host in her presence.

The bishops, foreseeing in these measures the impending change, refused to officiate at her coronation; and it was not without difficulty that the Bishop of (p. 152) Carlisle was at length prevailed upon to perform the ceremony. Amid the joyful acclamations of her subjects, as she was conducted through London, a boy, personating Truth, let down from a triumphal arch, presented to her a copy of the Bible. She received the present graciously, placed it near her heart, and declared that of all the costly testimonies of attachment given to her that day by the city, this was the most precious and acceptable. Elizabeth insinuated herself into the affections of the people by the most laudable art; frank in her address, and on all public occasions affable, conciliating, and easy of access, she appeared delighted with the concourse that crowded around her; entered, without forgetting her dignity, into the pleasures and amusements of her subjects, and acquired a popularity unknown to her predecessors. Her youth, her graces, her prudence, her fortitude, and her talents, attracted the admiration of one sex and afforded to the other a subject of pride and triumph. Individuals were captivated by her complacency, the public won by her services, while her authority, chastened by religion and law, appeared to be derived from its legitimate source, the choice and affections of the people.

The Commons entreated her, with all humility, that she would make choice of a husband to share with her the weight of government, a request which they hoped, from her sex and age, would not be displeasing or offensive. To this Elizabeth replied, that as their application was expressed in general terms, merely recommending marriage, without pretending to direct her choice, she could not be offended or regard their wishes otherwise than as a new instance of their attachment toward her; but that any farther interposition respecting this subject, on their part, it would ill become them as subjects to make, or her, as an independent princess, to endure. England was the husband which she had betrothed to her; Englishmen were her children; while employed in rearing and governing such a family, she could not deem herself sterile or her life useless. She desired, for her own part, no higher character, nor fairer remembrance of her to be transmitted to posterity, than to have this inscription, when she should pay the debt of nature, engraven on her tomb: "Here lies Queen Elizabeth, who lived and died a maiden queen."

Misfortune threw the Queen of Scots into the power of Elizabeth, and she was denied those services to which the unfortunate are entitled. Driven beyond endurance, she openly and bitterly defied her more fortunate rival, who viewed her with jealousy as heir to the crown, and was fearful that her beauty and influence might supplant her own popularity. Mary was kept in prison eighteen years and then executed on the scaffold. This transaction will ever remain a foul blot on the character of Elizabeth.

Elizabeth defied by Mary Stuart.

Neither the cares of government nor the infirmities of approaching age weaned her from the love of letters, which at every interval of leisure were her great delight. When nearly sixty years of age, in 1592, she made a second visit to Oxford, where, having been entertained with orations, disputations, etc., she pronounced on her departure, a Latin oration to the vice-chancellors and doctors, when she took her last farewell of the university. In the ensuing year she translated (p. 153) from Latin into English, Boethius's "De Consolatione Philosophæ." In 1598, when the disturbances in Ireland occupied a considerable share of her attention, she translated Sallust's "De bello Jugurthino," also the greater part of Horace's "De Arte Poetica," and Plutarch's book, "De Curiositate," all of which were written in her own hand.

But Elizabeth no longer took an interest in public concerns; her sun was setting, overshadowed by a dark cloud. Prosperity and glory palled upon her sense; an incurable melancholy had fixed itself on her heart. The anxiety of her mind made swift ravages upon her feeble frame; the period of her life visibly approached. The Archbishop of Canterbury advised her to fix her thoughts on God. She did so, she replied, nor did her mind in the least wander from Him. Her voice and her senses soon after failing, she fell into a lethargic slumber, which having continued some hours, she expired gently, without a struggle, March 24, 1603, in the seventieth year of her age and the forty-fifth of her reign.

The character of Elizabeth appears to have been exalted by her friends and depreciated by her enemies, in nearly equal proportions. As a monarch, her activity and force of mind, her magnanimity, sagacity, prudence, vigilance, and address, have scarcely been surpassed in royal annals, and are worthy of the highest admiration. Pope Sixtus V. spoke of her on all occasions as "a woman with a strong head," and gave her a place among the three persons who only, in his opinion, deserved to reign; the remaining two were himself and Henry IV. of France. "Your queen," said he once to an Englishman, "is born fortunate; she governs her kingdom with great happiness; she wants only to be married to me to give the world a second Alexander."

Her temper and her talents equally fitted her for government. Capable of self-command, and of controlling her own passions, she acquired an unlimited ascendency over those of her people. She possessed courage without temerity; spirit, resource, and activity in war, with the love of peace and tranquillity. Her frugality was exempt from avarice, it was the result rather of her love of independence than a passion for accumulation. She never amassed any treasures. Her friendships were uniform and steady, yet she was never governed by her favorites—a criterion of a strong mind. Her choice in her ministers gave proof of her sagacity, as her constancy in supporting them did of her firmness. If a conduct less rigorous, less imperious, and more indulgent would have thrown greater lustre over her character, let it be remembered that some good qualities appear to be incompatible with others; nor let the seductive and corrupting nature of power be left out in the account. Her insincerity was perhaps the greatest blot in her character and the fruitful source of all the vexatious incidents of her reign. Though unacquainted with philosophical toleration, the only method of disarming the turbulence of religious factions, she yet preserved her people, by her prudence and good sense, from those theological disputes which desolated the neighboring nations.

Beset with enemies, both at home and abroad, among the most powerful princes in Europe, the most enterprising and the least scrupulous, the vigor of (p. 154) her administration enabled her to defeat all their purposes, to annoy and plunder them in their own dominions, and to preserve her own dignity untouched and unimpaired. Few monarchs have succeeded to a throne in more difficult circumstances, nor have any ever reigned with more uniform success and prosperity.

If, as a woman, cut off by the peculiarities of her situation from the sympathies of nature and the charm of equal affections, Elizabeth, at times suffered under these privations, which even gave to her sensibility additional force and acuteness, the strength of her reason still triumphed over her passions, and the struggle which her victories cost her served but to display the firmness of her resolution and the loftiness of her mind.

The praises which have by some been bestowed upon Elizabeth for her regard for the constitution and tender concern for the liberties of the people, are wholly without foundation. Few princes have exerted with more arbitrary power the regal prerogatives which had been transmitted to her by her immediate predecessors; yet no censure belongs to her for this conduct, in the principles of which she had been trained and of the justice of which she was persuaded. What potentate, what man, has voluntarily resigned the power in which those beneath him quietly acquiesced? Compared with the reigns of her father and sister, that of Elizabeth might be termed a golden age.[Back to Contents]

By Hon. Ignatius Donnelly

Francis Bacon was born in York House, London, on January 22, 1561. Of this building only the ancient water-gate, fronting the Thames, survives the waste of time. His father, Sir Nicholas Bacon, was for twenty years Lord Keeper of the Great Seal under Elizabeth—a famous statesman, orator, and wit. His mother, Lady Ann Bacon, was the second daughter of the celebrated Sir Anthony Cooke, formerly tutor of King Edward VI., Henry VIII.'s short-lived son. She was a woman of great learning and many accomplishments, and of a strong, earnest, passionate, affectionate, and religious nature.

Francis was the youngest of eight children, six of whom were by the first wife of Sir Nicholas. He belonged to the aristocracy of England, but not to that ancient, warlike race of battle-crowned warriors, whose pedigree dated back beyond the Crusades. His father was a lawyer. Both his father's family and his mother's seem to have risen from the ranks on the great wave of the Reformation; they belonged to the intellectual new age, then dawning; rather than to the rude, fighting age which was about to pass away. Francis was no accident. (p. 155) We can see in him the two natures of his father and his mother—the commingling of the powerful, practical, sagacious politician and man of affairs, with the studious, contemplative, imaginative, affectionate, religious enthusiast.

His birthplace was a palace; the country seat of Gorhamsbury, near Saint Albans' village, is in the midst of the most charming rural scenery in England, or in the world. There a great part of his youth and early manhood was passed.

Francis Bacon.

He came into this breathing world when the human race were upon the threshold of the tremendous development which now surrounds us. He was born sixty-nine years after Columbus had re-opened the long-closed pathway from the eastern to the western shores of the Atlantic Ocean; twenty-seven years after the French took possession of Canada; twelve years after the Portuguese settled in Brazil; and forty-six years before the first English colonists landed at Jamestown, Va. The degree of advancement of the mind of the age will be understood when it is remembered that it was only one hundred and twenty-five years, at the date of Bacon's birth, since Guttenberg had invented movable types, in Germany; and but eighty-seven years since Caxton set up his printing press at Westminster. No man has ever lived who did more than Bacon to change the opinions and condition of those who came after him.

It was a "day of little things." England contained less than five million inhabitants, and of these probably not one-tenth spoke a language which could be understood to-day by the English-using people of the world. The mass of the populace were steeped to the lips in brutality and ignorance. The houses of the peasants were built of "sticks and dirt;" many of them "without chimneys or glazed windows;" the habits of the people were "inconceivably filthy;" "scurvy and leprosy were endemic;" the schools did not, as a rule, teach English; the amusements of the populace were bear-baitings and dancing naked in barns; the people of one county could not understand the speech of the inhabitants of the next county; "the disputes about tithes and boundaries were usually settled by bands of armed men, and the records of the Star-Chamber swarm with such cases." Education was at a low ebb. "In one year, 1570 (Bacon was then nine years of age), the scholars of Trinity College, Cambridge, consumed 2,250 barrels of beer." Many of the graduates became beggars; and so extensive was this evil that Parliament, by an act of 14th Elizabeth, declared that "all scholars of the Universities of Oxford or Cambridge that go about begging, not being authorized under the seal of the said universities," are declared "vagabonds" and (p. 156) punished as such. But even this was an improvement on Henry VIII.'s time when three hundred men were hanged in London for soliciting alms.

The only illuminated spot in all this darkness was the Court in London. Here they talked something which we would to-day call English; here they caught, through France and Italy, a reflected light from the dying glories of the ancient Roman civilization; here the travelled wealthy, "the picked men of countries," brought home some of the culture of more refined races. Bacon says:

"Courts are but only superficial schools
To dandle fools;
The rural parts are turned into a den
Of savage men;
And where's the city, from foul vice so free,
But may be termed the worst of all the three?"

In this curious, primitive, rude, ensmalled age, grew up the great man who was to do so much to change it all.

From his early years he manifested that vastly active intellect "which knew no rest save in motion." He studied, as a child, the nature of echoes in a tunnel. At fifteen years of age (so his chaplain Rawley and his biographer Spedding assure us), he had realized the shallowness of the Aristotelian philosophy and had thought out those principles which have since revolutionized human society. There are reasons to believe that he was the child of fifteen, referred to by the Rosicrucians, who planned the foundation of their society, and, at that early age, wrote the "Chymical Marriage of Christian Rosencreutz," first published in 1616.

At about twelve years of age he went to Cambridge—to Trinity College—rooming with his brother Anthony, who was two years his senior. In June, 1576, he left the university and became an ancient of the Gray's Inn law-society. On September 25, 1576, he accompanied Sir Amias Paulet, the English ambassador, to France. Here he witnessed the sixth civil war of the French people. He followed the court through several of the French provinces; he resided for three months at Poitiers. About February 17, 1579, he dreamed that his father's house in the country was all covered over with black mortar. At the same time his father was taken sick and died in three days thereafter. He returned home on March 20, 1579, to find himself poor. As he said, he could not "live to study," but had "to study to live." He became a practising lawyer, but he did not like the profession. He feared "the bar would be his bier;" it absorbed time which he thought should be dedicated to better ends. We think we find the expression of his heart in the lines of the so-called Shakespeare Sonnet:

"O, for my sake, do thou with fortune chide,
The guilty goddess of my harmful deeds,
That did not better for my life provide,
Than public means, which public manners breeds."

(p. 157) His pecuniary embarrassments were numerous, and continuous. Falstaff doubtless expresses a thought which often recurred to him: "I can get no remedy against this consumption of the purse; borrowing only lingers and lingers it out, but the disease is incurable." More than once he was thrown into a "sponging-house" for debt. His brother Anthony loaned him money repeatedly. In 1592 a "hard Jew or Lombard" put him in confinement for a debt on a bond. Anthony mortgaged his property to pay his debts. In 1594 Malone believes the play of "The Merchant of Venice" was in existence, in which Bassanio, being in debt to a hard Jew, his friend, Antonius, mortgages his own flesh to help him out of his troubles; and the Jew money-lender is sent down through all the ages the terrible type and exemplar of the merciless usurer. Bacon continues a "briefless barrister," with much time at his disposal. He helps in the composition of the play called "The Misfortunes of Arthur." He writes a Sonnet to the Queen. About this time, 1592, the Shakespeare plays begin to appear. Bacon assists in the preparation of several "masks" and "revels," gotten up by Gray's Inn. "The Comedy of Errors" first appears in the hall of that society, which still stands in London. The "Venus and Adonis" and "Lucrece" appear, dedicated to Bacon's intimate friend, Lord Southampton; and that nobleman in 1594 contributes a large sum to the construction of the Globe play-house, Bacon having observed that the stage is a powerful instrumentality to "play on the minds" of the people; and on this stage a series of historical plays are put forth, everyone of which represents kings as monsters or imbeciles.

The Shakespeare plays continue to be poured forth, and Bacon suffers from a siege of "Jews and duns." He describes himself "as poor and sick, working for bread." "I am purposed," he says, "not to follow the practice of the law." "It is easier," says Mr. Spedding, Bacon's biographer, "to understand why Bacon was resolved not to devote his life to the ordinary practice of a lawyer, than what plan he had to clear himself of the difficulties which were now accumulating upon him, and to obtain the means of living and working. What course he betook himself to at the crisis at which we have now arrived, I cannot possibly say." We have here the time, the opportunity, the incentive, and the necessity for the composition of the Shakespeare plays; part of the fruits of the representation of which made Shakespeare very wealthy.

In January, 1597, the first acknowledged work of Bacon—his "Essays"—was published. They were ten in number. Bacon said of them he hoped they would be "like the late new half-pence, which, though the pieces are small, the silver is good."

Until he was forty-four years of age, Bacon was kept poor and out of office by his uncle Burleigh, and his cousin Cecil; during the life-time of Queen Elizabeth he was steadily passed over and suppressed; and even during the first years of the reign of King James I., the influence of Cecil, then the Earl of Salisbury, was sufficient to keep him out of office. In 1605, Bacon published his first great philosophical work, "The Advancement of Learning;" in 1607, he became Solicitor-General; and in 1612, Attorney-General, and member of the Privy Council. (p. 158) He was then fifty-one years of age, and Shakespeare forty-eight. After the appointment of Bacon as Attorney-General, no more of the Shakespeare plays appeared; the "Tempest," which is evidently the last of the series, for in it Prospero declares—

"I'll break my staff,
Bury it certain fathoms in the earth,
And deeper than did ever plummet sound,
I'll drown my book;"

is set down by the commentators, as written between 1609 and 1611. At that time Shakespeare was forty-five or forty-seven years of age, and lived for five or seven years thereafter in utter intellectual idleness, in Stratford.

In 1609 Bacon published "The Wisdom of the Ancients," a prose work of great poetical beauty. His professional practice was large and his income princely. In 1617 he succeeded Ellesmere, the Lord Chancellor, with the title of lord-keeper. In January, 1618, he was created lord high chancellor, and the same year was raised to the peerage as Baron of Verulam; and in 1621 he was made Viscount St. Albans. The "Novum Organum," his great life-work, was printed in October, 1620. His extraordinary industry is revealed in the fact that it had been copied and revised twelve times before it took its present shape. The new philosophy meant the study of nature and the acquisition of the knowledge of things. In this search the "most common," "base, illiberal and filthy matters," are not to be overlooked. We find in the plays the same novel philosophy:

"Some kinds of baseness
Are nobly undergone; and most poor matters
Point to rich ends." (Tempest, iii. 1.)

"Bacon's leading thought was the good of humanity. He held that study, instead of employing itself in wearisome and sterile speculations, should be engaged in mastering the secrets of nature and life, and in applying them to human use. His method, in the attainment of this end, was rigid and pure observation, aided by experiment and fructified by induction.... He clearly invented a thermometer; he instituted ingenious experiments on the compressibility of bodies, and on the density and weight of air; he suggested chemical processes; he suggested the law of universal gravitation, afterward demonstrated by Newton; he foresaw the true explication of the tides, and the cause of colors." ["American Cyclopedia." Vol. II., p. 204.]

This great work, the "Novum Organum," as often happens, was received by the majority of readers of his time with laughter and ridicule. Coke wrote on the title-page of a presentation copy:

"It deserveth not to be read in schools,
But to be freighted in the ship of fools."

The ill-fortune which had so shrouded Bacon's struggling youth, and which had given way to such a magnificent sun-burst of splendid prosperity, was again (p. 159) massing its clouds and determined to cover his old age with shame, gloom and sorrow. He had been Lord Chancellor but three years, when, on March 15, 1621, a committee of the House of Commons reported two cases of bribery or corruption against him. Twenty-two other cases were also soon after presented. The House of Lords proceeded to investigate these charges, and Bacon defended himself. It was shown that fourteen of the twenty-four cases were presents given long after the suits were terminated; three more were sums of money loaned in the ordinary course of business; another case was an arbitration where compensation was due him; in another case the gift was sent back; another present, a piece of furniture, had never been accepted; another case was a New Year's gift, and in other cases the money was openly paid to the officers of his court. "Thus," says Hepworth Dixon, "after the most rigid scrutiny into his official acts, and into the official acts of his servants, not a single fee or remembrance, traced to the chancellor, can, by any fair construction, be called a bribe. Not one appears to have been given on a promise; not one appears to have been given in secret; not one is alleged to have corrupted justice."

It must be remembered that the salaries of all the high officers of the government were at that time paid in gifts and fees. Thus the king gave the lord chancellor but £81 6s. 8d. a year, while the place was worth £10,000 to £15,000; worth in our money to-day $125,000. "The judges had enough to buy their gloves and robes, not more." The lord chancellor had to maintain a huge retinue: "his court, his household, and his followers, gentlemen of quality, sons of peers and prelates; magistrates, deputy lieutenants of counties, knights of the shire, have all to live on fees and presents." It is still true that in England the law will not help a barrister or a physician to recover a fee; their compensation is, in theory, at least, supposed to be a gratuity for those they serve.

But it may be urged that Bacon plead guilty to corruption and bribery. He did nothing of the kind. He acknowledged that he "partook of the abuses of the times," and that the existing customs should be reformed; but he solemnly declared to Buckingham, May 31, 1621: "I have been a trusty and honest and Christ-loving friend to your lordship and the justest chancellor that hath been in the five charges since my father's time." Again, he said: "I had no bribe or reward in my eye or thought when I pronounced any sentence or order.... I take myself to be as innocent as any babe born on St. Innocent's day in my heart." All attempts to subsequently reverse his decrees failed, although his enemies were in possession of power. But King James urged him to make no defence, "to trust his honor and his safety to the crown.... He pleads guilty to carelessness, not to crime." He desired to live to finish up his philosophical works. To resist the king's wishes was to leave himself at the mercy of his life-long enemy, Coke; he yielded. The king remitted his fine of £40,000 and released him from the Tower. Bacon goes back to his books and writes in cipher: "I was the justest judge that was in England these fifty years; but it was the justest censure that was in Parliament these two hundred years." He meant thereby, that while personally innocent of corruption, the sentence would (p. 160) end gift-giving to judges. His formal confession to Parliament is a justification of every act complained of, for he relieves it, while acknowledging it, of those details which imply bribery.

He devoted the last five years of his life to putting forth the greatest works ever published by man; including the first complete edition of the so-called Shakespeare plays. Fortunate is it for the world that he was driven from the task of settling petty squabbles about the trash of the time, listening to "weary lawyers with endless tongues;" adjudicating questions of pounds, shillings, and pence between litigants whose very names have disappeared; and was shipwrecked by the stress of the great storm that struck him, like Prospero, on an island of solicitude, with books that "he prized above his dukedom," to perform labors in which all mankind will be interested even to the consummation of civilization on earth.

His patience, his gentleness, his forbearance were saint-like; still in his right hand he carried "gentle peace to silence envious tongues." His appearance, we are told, struck all men who beheld him with a great sense of awe. Those who were most closely associated with him loved him most dearly. His purposes were Godlike. They were "the glory of the Creator and the relief of man's estate." Macaulay says of Bacon's experimental philosophy:

"It has lengthened life; it has mitigated pain; it has extinguished diseases; it has increased the fertility of the soil; it has given new securities to the mariner; it has furnished new arms to the warrior; it has spanned great rivers and estuaries with bridges of form unknown to our fathers; it has guided the thunderbolt innocuously from heaven to earth; it has lighted up the night with the splendor of the day; it has extended the range of the human vision; it has multiplied the power of human muscle; it has accelerated motion; it has annihilated distance; it has facilitated intercourse, correspondence, all friendly offices, all despatch of business; it has enabled men to descend to the depths of the sea; to soar into the air; to penetrate securely into the noxious recesses of the earth; to traverse the land with cars which whirl along without horses; and the ocean with ships which sail against the wind."

In other words, the brain of this tremendous, this incomprehensible, this complex man, lies at the base of all our literature and of all our modern progress and civilization. The world is hardly big enough for his fame, and the praises of mankind cannot fill the measure of his greatness.[Back to Contents]

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The great Tuscan astronomer is best known as the first telescopic observer, the fortunate discoverer of the Medicean stars (so Jupiter's satellites were first named); and what discovery more fitted to immortalize its author than one which revealed new worlds and thus gave additional force to the lesson, that the universe, of which we form so small a part, was not created only for our use or pleasure? Those, however, who consider Galileo only as a fortunate observer, form a very inadequate estimate of one of the most meritorious and successful of those great men who have bestowed their time for the advantage of mankind in tracing out the hidden things of nature. Galileo-Galilei was born at Pisa, February 15, 1564. In childhood he displayed considerable mechanical ingenuity, with a decided taste for the accomplishments of music and painting. His father formed a just estimate of his talents, and at some inconvenience entered him, when nineteen years old, at the university of his native town, intending that he should pursue the medical profession. Galileo was then entirely ignorant of mathematics; and he was led to the study of geometry by a desire thoroughly to understand the principles of his favorite arts. This new pursuit proved so congenial to his taste, that from thenceforward his medical books were entirely neglected. The elder Galilei, a man of liberal acquirements and enlarged mind, did not require the devotion of his son's life to a distasteful pursuit. Fortunately the young man's talents attracted notice, and in 1589 he was appointed mathematical lecturer in the University of Pisa. There is reason to believe that, at an early period of his studentship, he embraced, upon inquiry and conviction, the doctrines of Copernicus, of which through life he was an ardent supporter.

Galileo and his colleagues did not long remain on good terms. The latter were content with the superstructure which à priori reasoners had raised upon Aristotle, and were by no means desirous of the trouble of learning more. Galileo chose to investigate physical truths for himself; he engaged in experiments to determine the truth of some of Aristotle's positions, and when he found him in the wrong, he said so, and so taught his pupils. This made the "paper philosophers," as he calls them, very angry. He repeated his experiments in their (p. 162) presence, but they set aside the evidence of their senses and quoted Aristotle as much as before. The enmity arising from these disputes rendered his situation so unpleasant, that in 1592, at the invitation of the Venetian commonwealth, he gladly accepted the professorship of mathematics at Padua. The period of his appointment being only six years, he was re-elected in 1598, and again in 1606, each time with an increase of salary; a strong proof of the esteem in which he was held, even before those astronomical discoveries which have immortalized his name. His lectures at this period were so fully attended that he was sometimes obliged to adjourn them to the open air. In 1609 he received an invitation to return to his original situation at Pisa. This produced a letter, still extant, from which we quote a catalogue of the undertakings on which he was already employed. "The works which I have to finish are principally two books on the 'System or Structure of the Universe,' an immense work, full of philosophy, astronomy, and geometry; three books on 'Local Motion,' a science entirely new, no one, either ancient or modern, having discovered any of the very many admirable accidents which I demonstrate in natural and violent motions, so that I may, with very great reason, call it a new science, and invented by me from its very first principles; three books of mechanics, two on the demonstration of principles and one of problems; and although others have treated this same matter, yet all that has been hitherto written, neither in quantity nor otherwise, is the quarter of what I am writing on it. I have also different treatises on natural subjects—on Sound and Speech, on Light and Colors, on the Tides, on the Composition of Continuous Quantity, on the Motions of Animals, and others besides. I have also an idea of writing some books relating to the military art, giving not only a model of a soldier, but teaching with very exact rules everything which it is his duty to know, that depends upon mathematics, as the knowledge of castrametation, drawing up of battalions, fortification, assaults, planning, surveying, the knowledge of artillery, the use of instruments, etc." Out of this comprehensive list, the treatises on the universe, on motion and mechanics, on tides, on fortification, or other works upon the same subjects, have been made known to the world. Many, however, of Galileo's manuscripts, through fear of the Inquisition, were destroyed, or concealed and lost, after the author's death.

In the same year, 1609, Galileo heard the report that a spectacle-maker of Middleburg, in Holland, had made an instrument by which distant objects appeared nearer. He tasked his ingenuity to discover the construction, and soon succeeded in manufacturing a telescope. His telescope, however, seems to have been made on a different construction from that of the Dutch optician. It consisted of a convex and concave glass, distant from each other by the difference of their focal lengths, like a modern opera-glass; while there is reason to believe that the other was made up of two convex lenses, distant by the sum of their focal lengths, the common construction of the astronomical telescope. Galileo's attention naturally was first turned to the moon. He discovered that her surface, instead of being smooth and perfectly spherical, was rough with mountains and (p. 163) apparently varied like the earth, by land and water. He next applied to Jupiter, and was struck by the appearance of three small stars, almost in a straight line and close to him. At first he did not suspect the nature of these bodies; but careful observation soon convinced him that these three, together with a fourth, which was at first invisible, were in reality four moons revolving round their primary planet. These he named the Medicean stars. They have long ceased to be known by that name; but so highly prized was the distinction thus conferred upon the ducal house of Florence, that Galileo received an intimation that he would "do a thing just and proper in itself, and at the same time render himself and his family rich and powerful forever," if he "named the next star which he should discover after the name of the great star of France, as well as the most brilliant of all the earth," Henry IV. These discoveries were made known in 1610, in a work entitled "Nuncius Sidereus," the Newsman of the Stars; in which Galileo further announced that he had seen many stars invisible to the naked eye, and ascertained that the nebulæ scattered through the heavens consist of assemblages of innumerable small stars. The ignorant and unprejudiced were struck with admiration; indeed, curiosity had been raised so high before the publication of this book, as materially to interfere with the convenience of those who possessed telescopes. Galileo was employed a month in exhibiting his own to the principal persons in Venice; and our unfortunate astronomer was surrounded by a crowd who kept him in durance for several hours, while they passed his glass from one to another. He left Venice the next morning, to pursue his inquiries in some less inquisitive place. But the great bulk of the philosophers of the day were far from joining in the general feeling. They raised an outcry against the impudent fictions of Galileo, and one, a professor of Padua, refused repeatedly to look through the telescope, lest he should be compelled to admit that which he had pre-determined to deny.

It was not long before Galileo had new and equally important matter to announce. He observed a remarkable appearance in Saturn, as if it were composed of three stars touching each other; his telescope was not sufficiently powerful to resolve them into Saturn and his ring. Within a month he ascertained that Venus exhibits phases like those of the moon—a discovery of great importance in confirming the Copernican system. The same phenomenon he afterward detected in Mars. We close the list with the discovery of the revolution of the sun round his axis, in the space of about a lunar month, derived from careful observation of the spots on his surface.

About this time (1610-1611) Galileo took up his abode in Tuscany, upon the invitation of the grand duke, who offered to him his original situation at Pisa, with a liberal salary, exemption from the necessity of residence, and complete leisure to pursue his studies. In 1612 he published a discourse on "Floating Bodies," in which he investigates the theory of buoyancy, and refutes, by a series of beautiful and conclusive experiments, the opinion that the floating or sinking of bodies depends on their shape.

Neither Copernicus nor his immediate followers suffered inconvenience or restraint (p. 164) on account of their astronomical doctrines; nor had Galileo, until this period of his life, incurred ecclesiastical censure for anything which he had said or written. But the Inquisition now took up the matter as heretical and contrary to the express words of Scripture; and in 1616, Copernicus's work, "De Revolutionibus," Kepler's "Epitome," and some of Galileo's own letters, were placed on the list of prohibited books; and he himself, being then in Rome, received formal notice not to teach that the earth revolves round the sun. He returned to Florence full of indignation; and considering his hasty temper, love of truth, and full belief of the condemned theory, it is rather wonderful that he kept silence so long, than that he incurred at last the censures of the hierarchy. He did, however, restrain himself from any open advocacy of the heretical doctrines, even in composing his great work, the "Dialogue on the Ptolemaic and Copernican Systems." This was completed in 1630, but not printed till 1632, under license from officers of the church, both at Rome and Florence. It is a dialogue between Simplicio, an Aristotelian, Salviati, who represents the author, and Sagredo, a half convert to Salviati's opinions. It professes "indeterminately to propose the philosophical arguments, as well on one side as on the other;" but the neutrality is but ill kept up, and was probably assumed, not with any hope that the court of Rome would be blinded as to the real tendency of the book, but merely that it would accept this nominal submission as a sufficient homage to its authority. If this were so, the author was disappointed; the Inquisition took cognizance of the matter, and summoned him to Rome to undergo a personal examination. Age and infirmity were in vain pleaded as excuses; still, through the urgent and indignant remonstrances of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, he was treated with a consideration rarely shown by that stern tribunal. He was allowed to remain at the Florentine ambassador's palace, with the exception of a short period, from his arrival in February, until the passing of sentence, June 21, 1633. He was then condemned, in the presence of the Inquisitors, to curse and abjure the "false doctrines," which his life had been spent in proving, to be confined in the prison of the Holy Office during pleasure, and to recite the seven penitential psalms once a week during three years. The sentence and the abjuration are given at full length in the "Life of Galileo," in the "Library of Useful Knowledge." "It is said," continues the biographer, "that Galileo, as he rose from his knees, stamped on the ground, and whispered to one of his friends, 'e pur si muove,' it does move though."

Galileo before the Inquisition.

Galileo's imprisonment was not long or rigorous, for after four days he was reconducted to the Florentine ambassador's palace; but he was still kept under strict surveillance. In July he was sent to Sienna, where he remained five months in strict seclusion. He obtained permission in December to return to his villa at Arcetri, near Florence: but there, as at Sienna, he was confined to his own premises, and strictly forbidden to receive his friends. It is painful to contemplate the variety of evils which overcast the evening of this great man's life. In addition to a distressing chronic complaint, contracted in youth, he was now suffering under a painful infirmity which by some is said to have been produced by torture, (p. 165) applied in the prisons of the Inquisition to extort a recantation. But the arguments brought forward to show that the Inquisitors did resort to this extremity do not amount to anything like direct proof. In April, 1634, Galileo's afflictions were increased by the death of a favorite, intelligent, and attached daughter. He consoled his solitude, and lightened the hours of sickness, by continuing the observations which he was now forbidden to publish to the world; and the last of his long train of discoveries was the phenomenon known by the name of the moon's libration. In the course of 1636-37 he lost successively the sight of both his eyes. He mentions this calamity in a tone of pious submission, mingled with a not unpleasing pride. "Alas, your dear friend and servant Galileo has become totally and irreparably blind; so that this heaven, this earth, this universe, which with wonderful observations I had enlarged a hundred thousand times beyond the belief of by-gone ages, henceforward for me is shrunk into the narrow space which I myself fill in it. So it pleases God: it shall therefore please me also." In 1638 he obtained leave to visit Florence, still under the same restrictions as to society; but at the end of a few months he was remanded to Arcetri, which he never again quitted. From that time, however, the strictness of his confinement was relaxed, and he was allowed to receive the friends who crowded round him, as well as the many distinguished foreigners who eagerly visited him. Among these we must not forget Milton, whose poems contain several allusions to the celestial wonders observed and published by the Tuscan astronomer. Though blind and nearly deaf, Galileo retained to the last his intellectual powers; and his friend and pupil, the celebrated Torricelli, was employed in arranging his thoughts on the nature of percussion, when he was attacked by his last illness. He died January 8, 1642, aged seventy-eight.

It was disputed whether, as a prisoner of the Inquisition, Galileo had a right to burial in consecrated ground. The point was conceded; but Pope Urban VIII. himself interfered to prevent the erection of a monument to him in the church of Santa Croce, in Florence, for which a large sum had been subscribed. A splendid monument now covers the spot in which his remains repose with those of his friend and pupil, the eminent mathematician Viviani.

For an account of Galileo's application of the pendulum to the mensuration of time; his invention of the thermometer, though in an inaccurate and inconvenient form; his methods of discovering the longitude, and a variety of other points well worth attention, we must refer to the Life of Galileo already quoted. The numerous extracts from Galileo's works convey a lively notion of the author's character, and are distinguished by a peculiar tone of quaint humor. In conclusion, we quote the estimate of Galileo's character, from the same masterly memoir. "The numberless inventions of his acute industry; the use of the telescope, and the brilliant discoveries to which it led; the patient investigation of the laws of weight and motion, must all be looked upon as forming but a part of his real merits, as merely particular demonstrations of the spirit in which he everywhere withstood the despotism of ignorance, and appealed boldly from traditional opinions to the judgment of reason and common sense. He claimed (p. 166) and bequeathed to us the right of exercising our faculties in examining the beautiful creation which surrounds us. Idolized by his friends, he deserved their affection by numberless acts of kindness; by his good humor, his affability, and by the benevolent generosity with which he devoted himself, and a great part of his limited income, to advance their talents and fortunes. If an intense desire of being useful is everywhere worthy of honor; if its value is immeasurably increased when united to genius of the highest order; if we feel for one, who, notwithstanding such titles to regard, is harassed by cruel persecution, then none deserve our sympathy, our admiration, and our gratitude, more than Galileo."[Back to Contents]



Armand Jean Du Plessis, Duke of Richelieu, the future cardinal, was the third son of François Du Plessis, Grand Provost of the French Court, and was born on September 5, 1585, at Paris, say his biographers, Aubery and Leclerc; while tradition claims this honor for the family château in Poitou. He received the elements of education at home from the Prior of St. Florent, but soon quitted the paternal mansion, first for the College of Navarre, subsequently for that of Lisieux. From thence he removed to a military academy, being intended for the profession of arms. But on his brother, who was Bishop of Luçon, resolving to quit the world for the cloister, young Armand was advised to abandon the sword for the gown, in order that he might succeed to his brother's bishopric.

He adopted the advice, entered with zeal into the study of theology, and soon qualified himself to pass creditably through the exercises necessary to obtain the degree of doctor in theology. He already wore the insignia of his bishopric, but the Pope's sanction was still wanting, and was withheld on account of the extreme youth of the expectant. Resolved to overcome this difficulty, he set off to Rome, addressed the pontiff in a Latin oration, and gave such proofs of talent and acquirements above his age, that he was consecrated at Rome on the Easter of 1607, being as yet but twenty-two years of age.

This position attained, Richelieu endeavored to make the utmost advantage of it. He acquired the good-will of his diocese by rigid attention to the affairs (p. 167) that fell under his jurisdiction; while in frequent visits to the capital, he sought to acquire reputation by preaching. In the Estates General of 1614, he was chosen deputy by his diocese, and was afterward selected by the clergy of the States to present their cahier or vote of grievances to the monarch. It was an opportunity not to be thrown away by the ambition of Richelieu, who instantly put himself forward as the champion of the queen-mother against the cabal of the high noblesse. He at the same time pointed out where she might find auxiliaries, by complaining that ecclesiastics had no longer a place in the public administration, and were thus degraded from their ancient and legitimate share of influence. Richelieu was rewarded with the place of almoner to the queen; and he was soon admitted to her confidence as well as to that of her favorite, the Maréchal D'Ancre.

In 1616 he was appointed secretary of state; but aware by what slender tenure the office was held, he refused to give up his bishopric. This excited not only the animadversions of the public, but the anger of the favorite. Richelieu offered to give up his secretaryship, but the queen could not dispense with his talents. The assassination of the favorite, however, soon overthrew the influence of the queen herself. Still Richelieu remained attached to her, and followed her to Blois; but the triumphant party, dreading his talents for intrigue, ordered him to quit the queen and repair to one of his priories in Anjou. He was subsequently commanded to retire to his bishopric, and at last exiled to Avignon. Here he sought to avert suspicion by affecting to devote himself once more to theological pursuits. During this period he published one or two polemical tracts, the mediocrity of which proves either that his genius lay not in this path, or, as is probable, that his interest and thoughts were elsewhere.

The escape of the queen-mother from her place of confinement, excited the fears of her enemies and the hopes of Richelieu. He wrote instantly to court, to proffer his services toward bringing about an accommodation. In the difficulty of the moment, the king and his favorite accepted the offer. Richelieu was released from exile, and allowed to join the queen at Angoulême, where he certainly labored to bring about a reconciliation. There were long and bitter struggles, but an agreement was finally concluded, and it was found that Richelieu, the negotiator, had himself reaped all the benefits. He received the cardinal's hat from the king's hand at Lyons, toward the close of the year 1622.

Not content with this advancement of her counsellor, Mary de Medici continued to press the king to admit Richelieu to his cabinet. Louis long resisted her solicitations, such was his instinctive dread of the man destined to rule him. Nor was it until 1624, after the lapse of sixteen months, and when embarrassed with difficult state questions, which no one then in office was capable of managing, that the royal will was declared admitting Richelieu to the council. Even this grace was accompanied by the drawback that the cardinal was allowed to give merely his opinion, not his vote.

Once, however, seated at the council table, the colleagues of the cardinal shrunk before him into ciphers. He boldly avowed his determination to adopt (p. 168) the policy and resume the scheme of Henry IV., for the humiliation of the House of Austria. His anchor of safety was in the confidence reposed in him by Louis XIII. This prince, although of most feeble will, was not without the just pride of a monarch; he could not but perceive that his former ministers or favorites were but the instruments or slaves of the noblesse, who consulted but their own interests, and provided but for the difficulties of the moment. Richelieu, on the contrary, though eager for power, sought it as an instrument to great ends, to the consolidation of the monarchy, and to its ascendancy in Europe. He was in the habit of unfolding these high views to Louis, who, though himself incapable of putting them into effect, nevertheless had the spirit to admire and approve them. Richelieu proposed to render his reign illustrious abroad, and at home to convert the chief of a turbulent aristocracy into a real monarch. It forms indeed the noblest part of this great statesman's character, that he won upon the royal mind, not by vulgar flattery, but by exciting within it a love of glory and of greatness to which, at the same time, he pointed the way.

Accordingly, through all the plots formed against him, Louis XIII. remained firmly attached to Richelieu, sacrificing to this minister's pre-eminence his nobility, his brother Gaston, Duke of Orleans, his queen, and finally the queen-mother herself, when she too became jealous of the man whom she had raised.

If Richelieu thus imprudently indulged his passion or his pique, he redeemed the error by activity and exertion unusual to the age. He at once formed the project of attacking the Huguenots in their chief stronghold of La Rochelle. Buckingham, the English minister, could not fail to attempt the relief of this sea-port, and the cardinal anticipated the triumph of personally defeating a rival. He accordingly himself proceeded to preside over the operations of the siege. To render the blockade effectual, it was requisite to stop up the port. The military officers whom he employed could suggest no means of doing this. Richelieu took counsel of his classic reading, and having learned from Quintus Curtius how Alexander the Great reduced Tyre, by carrying out a mole against it through the sea, he was encouraged to undertake a similar work. The great mound was accordingly commenced, and well-nigh finished, when a storm arose and destroyed it in a single night. But Richelieu was only rendered more obstinate: he recommenced the mole, and was seen with the volume of Alexander's History in his hand, encouraging the workmen and overruling the objections of the tacticians of the army. The second attempt succeeded, the harbor was blocked up, and the promised aid of England rendered fruitless. The cardinal triumphed, for La Rochelle surrendered. In his treatment of the vanquished, Richelieu showed a moderation seldom observable in his conduct. He was lenient, and even tolerant, toward the Huguenots, content with having humbled the pride of his rival, Buckingham.

La Rochelle was no sooner taken, and Richelieu rewarded by the title of prime minister than he resumed those projects of humbling the House of Austria, in which he had previously been interrupted. A quarrel about the succession to Mantua afforded him a pretext to interfere; and he did so, after his fashion, (p. 169) not by mere negotiations, but by an army. This expedition proved a source of quarrel between him and the queen-mother, Mary de Medici, who hitherto had been his firm and efficient friend.

The voice of the conqueror of La Rochelle triumphed in council, and his project in the field. The French were victorious in Italy, and the minister equally so over the mind of the monarch.

But Mary de Medici could not forgive, and she now openly showed her hatred of Richelieu, and exerted herself to the utmost to injure him with the king. Though daily defeating her intrigues, the cardinal dreaded her perseverance, and resolved to drag the king with him to another Italian campaign. Louis obeyed, and the court set out for the south, the queen-mother herself accompanying it. Richelieu, however, did not tarry for the slow motions of the monarch. He flew to the army, took upon him the command, and displayed all the abilities of a great general in out-manœuvring and worsting the generals and armies of Savoy. In the meantime Louis fell dangerously ill at Lyons. His mother, an affectionate attendant on his sick-couch, resumed her former empire over him. At one moment his imminent death seemed to threaten the cardinal with ruin. Louis recovered, however, and his first act was to compel a reconciliation, in form at least, between the cardinal and the queen-mother.

The king's illness, although not so immediately fatal to Richelieu as his enemies had hoped, was still attended with serious consequences to him. The French army met with ill success through the treachery of the general, Marillac, who was secretly attached to the queen's party, and the failure was attributed to Richelieu.

Mary de Medici renewed her solicitations to her son, that he would dismiss his minister. Louis, it appears, made a promise to that effect; a reluctant promise, given to get rid of her importunity. Mary calculated too securely upon his keeping it; she broke forth in bitter contumely against Richelieu; deprived him of his superintendence over her household, and treated Madame de Combalet, the cardinal's niece, who had sunk on her knees to entreat her to moderate her anger almost with insult. The king was present, and seemed to sanction her violence so that Richelieu withdrew to make his preparations for exile. Louis, dissatisfied and irresolute, retired to Versailles; while Mary remained triumphant at the Luxembourg, receiving the congratulations of her party. Richelieu, in the meantime, ere taking his departure, repaired to Versailles, and, once there, resumed the ascendant over the monarch. The tidings of this was a thunder-stroke to Mary and her party, who became instantly the victims of the cardinal's revenge. Marillac was beheaded, and Mary de Medici, herself at length completely vanquished by her rival, was driven out of France to spend the rest of her days in exile.

The trial of Marillac had roused the spirit and indignation even of those nobles who had previously respected, and bowed to, the minister of the royal choice. Richelieu not only threatened their order with the scaffold, but his measures of administration were directed to deprive them of their ancient privileges, (p. 170) and means of wealth and domination. One of these was the right of governors of provinces to raise the revenue within their jurisdiction, and to employ or divert no small portion of it to their use. Richelieu, to remedy this, transferred the office of collecting the revenue to new officers, called the Elect. He tried this in Languedoc, then governed by the Duc de Montmorenci, a noble of the first rank, whose example, consequently, would have weight, and who had always proved himself obedient and loyal. Moved, however, by his private wrongs, as well as that of his order, he now joined the party of the nobles and the king's brother, Gaston, Duke of Orleans. That weak prince, after forming an alliance with the Duke of Lorraine, had raised an army. Richelieu lost not a moment in despatching a force which reduced Lorraine, and humbled its hitherto independent duke almost to the rank of a subject. Gaston then marched his army to Languedoc and joined Montmorenci. The Maréchal de Brezé, Richelieu's brother-in-law, led the loyal troops against them, defeated Gaston at Castelnaudari, and took Montmorenci prisoner. This noble had been the friend and supporter of Richelieu, who even called him his son; yet the cardinal's cruel policy determined that he should die. There was difficulty in proving before the judges that he had actually borne arms against the king. "The smoke and dust," said St. Reuil, the witness, "rendered it impossible to recognize any combatant distinctly. But when I saw one advance alone, and cut his way through five ranks of gens-d'armes, I knew that it must be Montmorenci."

This gallant descendant of five constables of France perished on the scaffold at Toulouse. Richelieu deemed the example necessary to strike terror into the nobility. And he immediately took advantage of that terror, by removing all the governors of provinces, and replacing them throughout with officers personally attached to his interests.

Having thus made, as it were, a clear stage for the fulfilment of his great political schemes, Richelieu turned his exertions to his original plan of humbling the House of Austria, and extending the territories of France at its expense. He formed an alliance with the great Gustavus Adolphus, who then victoriously supported the cause of religious liberty in Germany. Richelieu drew more advantage from the death than from the victories of his ally; since, as the price of his renewing his alliance with the Swedes, he acquired the possession of Philipsburg, and opened the way toward completing that darling project of France and every French statesman, the acquisition of the Rhine as a frontier.

The French having manifested their design to get possession of Trèves, the Spaniards anticipated them; and open war ensued betwixt the two monarchies. Richelieu in his wars was one of those scientific combatants who seek to weary out an enemy, and who husband their strength in order not to crush at once, but to ruin in the end. Such, at least, were the tactics by which he came triumphant out of the struggle with Spain. He made no conquests at first, gained no striking victories; but he compensated for his apparent want of success by perseverance, by taking advantage of defeat to improve the army, and by laboring to transfer to the crown the financial and other resources which had been previously (p. 171) absorbed by the aristocracy. Thus the war, though little brilliant at first, produced at last these very important results. Arras in the north, Turin in the south, Alsace in the east, fell into the hands of the French; Roussillon was annexed to the monarchy; and Catalonia revolted from Spain. Richelieu might boast that he had achieved the great purposes of Henry IV., not so gloriously indeed as that heroic prince might have done, but no less effectually. This was effected not so much by arms as by administration. The foundation was laid for that martial pre-eminence which Louis XIV. long enjoyed; and which he might have retained, had the virtue of moderation been known to him.

It was not without incurring great personal perils, with proportionate address and good fortune, that Cardinal Richelieu arrived at such great results. Constant plots were formed against him, the most remarkable of which was that of Cinq-Mars, a young nobleman selected to be the king's favorite, on account of his presumed frivolity. But he was capable of deep thoughts and passions; and wearied by the solitude in which the monarch lived, and to which he was reduced by the minister's monopoly of all power, he dared to plot the cardinal's overthrow. This bold attempt was sanctioned by the king himself, who at intervals complained of the yoke put upon him.

Great interests were at stake, for Richelieu, reckoning upon the monarch's weak health, meditated procuring the regency for himself. The Queen, Anne of Austria, aware of this intention, approved of the project of Cinq-Mars, which, of course, implied the assassination of the cardinal. No other mode of defying his power and talent could have been contemplated. But Richelieu was on the watch. The court was then in the south of France, engaged in the conquest of Roussillon, a situation favorable for the relation of the conspirators with Spain. The minister surprised one of the emissaries, had the fortune to seize a treaty concluded between them and the enemies of France; and with this flagrant proof of their treason, he repaired to Louis, and forced from him an order for their arrest. It was tantamount to their condemnation. Cinq-Mars and his friends perished on the scaffold; Anne of Austria was again humbled; and every enemy of the cardinal shrunk in awe and submission before his ascendancy. Among them was the king himself, whom Richelieu looked upon as an equal in dignity, an inferior in mind and in power. The guards of the cardinal were as numerous as the monarch's, and independent of any authority save that of their immediate master. A treaty was even drawn up between king and minister, as between two potentates. But the power and the pride of Richelieu reached at once their height and their termination. A mortal illness seized him in the latter days of 1642, a few months after the execution of Cinq-Mars. No abatement of his pride marked his last moments. He summoned the monarch like a servant to his couch, instructed him what policy to follow and appointed the minister who was to be his own successor.

Such was the career of this supereminent statesman, who, although in the position of Damocles all his life, with the sword of the assassin suspended over his head, surrounded with enemies, and with insecure and treacherous support (p. 172) even from the monarch whom he served, still not only maintained his own station, but possessed time and zeal to frame and execute gigantic projects for the advancement of his country and of his age. It makes no small part of Henry IV.'s glory that he conceived a plan for diminishing the power of the House of Austria. Richelieu, without either the security or the advantages of the king and the warrior, achieved it. Not only this, but he dared to enter upon the war at the very same time when he was humbling that aristocracy which had hitherto composed the martial force of the country.

The effects of his domestic policy were indeed more durable than those of what he most prided himself upon, his foreign policy. He it was, in fact, who founded the French monarchy, such as it existed until near the end of the eighteenth century—a grand, indeed, rather than a happy result. He was a man of penetrating and commanding intellect, who visibly influenced the fortunes of Europe to an extent which few princes or ministers have equalled. Unscrupulous in his purposes, he was no less so in the means by which he effected them. But so long as men are honored, not for their moral excellences, but for the great things which they have done for themselves, or their country, the name of Richelieu will be recollected with respect, as that of one of the most successful statesmen that ever lived.

As a patron of letters and of the arts, Richelieu has acquired a reputation almost rivalling that of his statesmanship. His first and earliest success in life had been as a scholar supporting his theses; and, as it is continually observed that great men form very erroneous judgments of their own excellences, he ever prided himself especially in his powers as a penman.[Back to Contents]

A Concert At Richelieu's Palace.

By Elbridge S. Brooks

Seal of Massachusetts.

Greatness is not allied to rank alone, nor is heroism to blood. The noblest of the Pilgrims of Plymouth was sprung from the people. For generations the little farming village of Austerfield, a royal manor of the West Riding of Yorkshire close to the Nottingham line, had known the family of Bradfurth or Bradford as a race of tenant-yeomen who, besides tilling the lands of the Mortons, possessed also a freehold of their own. But no man or woman of the Bradford name had given it prominence or worth until, on March 19, 1589, William Bradford was born in that low-roofed farm-house on the great plain of York. Puritan writers speak of Austerfield as a "profane and irreligious" village in which was (p. 173) to be found "no bible and a careless priest." Whatever the facts, the environments, undoubtedly, were not such as would suggest the making of a leader or the development of a religious nature. But we are assured that, before the age of twelve, the boy William Bradford, brought up in that Austerfield farm-house "in the innocent trade of husbandry," displayed alike a thoughtful temperament and "a pious mind." At sixteen he fell, in some unknown way, under the influence of one of the much-maligned Puritan preachers of Scrooby, a Nottinghamshire village but a few miles from Austerfield. As a result he gave up his farming-life, left his Austerfield home, and in the face of bitter opposition, distrust, censure, and persecution, joined the Puritan church and settlement at Scrooby, established there by William Brewster, the postmaster of Scrooby and a prominent leader in the new sect of dissenters from the English church, known first as separatists and, later, because of their frequent changes and wanderings, as Pilgrims.

From his earliest association with this feeble and despised communion, William Bradford was zealous in his readiness to stand boldly for his faith, whatever the risk involved. He was one of the first to appreciate the real meaning of the struggle; he saw that dissent implied not alone a religious opposition, but a political defiance as well, and that its followers, braving the will of England's royal bigot, James Stuart, and denying his assumption of the divine right of kings, would ere long do open battle in the cause of the people against despotism, and stand for that deeper question of liberty which the Pilgrims of Scrooby and Leyden first fully grasped.

Bradford was one of that venturesome company which, in 1607, embarking at Boston, in Lincolnshire, sought to flee from English tyranny, and find a home in Holland. They were betrayed, turned back, and imprisoned. The next year this young eighteen-year old enthusiast escaped from his jailers, and made his way to Amsterdam. Here he apprenticed himself to a silk-weaver, and became an efficient member of the association of English exiles in Holland.

Upon his coming of age in 1610, he sold off the Austerfield lands that had descended to him upon the death of his father, and entered upon an unsuccessful business investment in Amsterdam. This failing, he joined himself to the Pilgrim colony that Brewster and Robinson, the Pilgrim preachers, had established at Leyden.

When those far-seeing reformers awoke to the fact that an English-speaking community in Holland must, in time, become Dutch in manners, speech, and life, and looked across the western ocean with the dream of founding a religious republic of English-speaking folk in the New World, Bradford was one of the most earnest in adopting and carrying out their views, and was one of that famous company which, on September 16, 1620, sailed from Plymouth in England, to cast anchor, three months later, in the harbor of the new Plymouth in New England.

It has been said that if William Brewster was the Aaron of the Plymouth enterprise, William Bradford was its Moses. Certainly he was, almost from its inception, its leader and deliverer. It was his brain that conceived and his hand (p. 174) that executed that memorable compact which the forty-one earnest men signed in the cabin of the Mayflower, as she rode at anchor in Provincetown harbor—"the first instrument of civil government ever subscribed as the act of the whole people." It was into his hands, when Carver, the first governor, died of sunstroke in the spring of 1621, that the colonists gave the guidance of their affairs, electing him governor of the Plymouth colony on April 21, 1621—"the first American citizen of English race who bore rule by the free choice of his brethren." More than this, we may look upon William Bradford, so says Mr. Doyle, the English historian of the Puritan colonies, "as heading that bead-roll of worthies that, from his day, America has never wanted—men who, with no early training in political life, and lacking much that the Old World has deemed needful in her rulers, have yet, by inborn strength of mind and lofty public spirit, shown themselves in all things worthy of high office."

Certainly William Bradford showed himself worthy the trust and confidence of his fellows. For nearly forty years he filled the office of governor of the Plymouth colony. His hand guided it through the perils of its early years, his brain planned that systematic development of its slender resources that made it the one successful episode in America's beginnings. His treatment of the Indians was always firm but friendly; his dealings with the grasping "London adventurers," whose greed would have seriously crippled the colony had it not been for his restraining hand, were courteous but convincing; it was Bradford who led the colony from the unsatisfactory communism of its first years to the system of individual property that, from 1623, held sway, and turned an uncertain venture into a career of industrial prosperity. Always tolerant, never injudicious, and alike pure-minded, liberty-loving, courageous, and wise, no hand could have better guided than did his, or have more systematically shaped, the destinies of the infant State. The testimony of contemporaries and the judgment of historians unite in crediting to William Bradford that rare combination of intelligence and industry, of judicial and executive ability, by which a small and obscure band of persecuted fugitives laid in an unexplored wilderness the foundations of a great and prosperous commonwealth.

His methods were as simple as was his own noble nature. Each advance was the outgrowth of his own observation and the colony's necessities, and while the corner-stone of the community was religion, he stood himself for religious liberty, and never permitted the zeal of his associates to degenerate into intolerance and persecution. While other of the early American colonies were narrow, bigoted, and vindictive, it is to the credit of the Pilgrim colony of Plymouth that the cargo of the Mayflower contained no seeds of persecution, and throughout the long administration of Governor William Bradford the colony he guided had, in his time at least, a clear comprehension of the meaning of religious and political freedom, and did not descend into the harrying of so-called heretics, the scourging of Quakers, nor the burning of witches. Whatever intolerance of this sort may, at a later day, have stained the records of the colony, was of foreign growth and contrary to the heritage of charity left by William Bradford.

A Puritan Christmas.

(p. 175) This willingness to serve, to spend and be spent, is apparent throughout the whole story of Bradford's life. It displayed itself in the boyish spirit of renunciation that led him to join the Scrooby society, and held him loyal to his association even through imprisonment and persecution, through exile, flight, and emigration. Again and again through his long service as governor of the Plymouth colony, he wished to lay aside the burden, but always yielded to the wishes of his comrades. Elected by the suffrages of his associates, he himself restricted his own authority by the formation, in 1624, of the governor's council of five members, increased in 1633 to seven, in which the only privilege held by the governor was a double vote. In 1624 he with seven of his associates assumed, what was for that day and the uncertainties involved, a great risk, and bought out the "London Adventurers" who had so feebly backed the colonists. In 1629 he obtained a patent that conferred upon himself, his associates, and assigns the title to the whole Plymouth tract, and in 1640 he conveyed this valuable title to the colony, reserving only his personal proportion as a settler.

It was this unselfishness of disposition, this loyalty to duty—accepting honors as trusts and burdens as obligations—this union of justice and faith that made William Bradford great and kept him noble.

"With malice toward none, with charity for all," even as had that great American of two centuries later, Bradford could keep the even tenor of his way in the midst of obstacles and discouragements. Unmoved by the ingratitude of Weston, the insolence of Morton, the treachery of Oldham and Lyford, and the selfishness of Allerton; calm amid the controversies brought about by the arrogance of the greater colony of Massachusetts Bay, the encroachments of the French in Maine, and of the Dutch on the Connecticut, he could yet, when occasion demanded, display that stern justice that meted out the extreme penalty of the law to offenders, and condemned to death Billington, the first murderer in the colony, and Peach, the assassin of a defenceless Indian.

William Bradford is one of the most interesting figures in the history of New England. He is the noblest of the Puritans—a type of their best element, an exponent of their highest effort, a pioneer in their struggle for liberty for justice, and for law. The boy who could brave opposition and contumely for conscience's sake, could also be of gentlest manners and serenest mood when called to lead and govern those who put their trust in him; the same native courage and independence that held him loyal to his convictions in his early years made him, when responsibilities multiplied and burdens were laid upon him, the very staff and hope of the Pilgrim colony of Plymouth.

He combined with executive ability other notable gifts. Though bred to the soil in an age when the farmer was a drudge and had no ambition beyond his crops, he yet, when opportunity offered, applied himself to study with such good results that he was learned in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, and conversed in French and Dutch. He was acquainted with the history and philosophy of his day, was deeply versed in theology, and even attempted poetry. He wrote much and well. His most important production was his "History of the Plymouth (p. 176) Plantations"—a detailed chronicle of the history of the Pilgrims from 1608 to 1646. Carried away from the old South Church by British soldiers, it was completely lost, until almost providentially discovered, though partially destroyed, in the shop of a Halifax grocer, and to-day it tells us almost all that we know of the Plymouth settlers, from the day when they left Lincolnshire till they became a prosperous commonwealth in America.

Of this important contribution to American history, Mr. Doyle, the English historian, says: "Gratitude is quickened when we compare the simple, vigorous, and picturesque chronicle set before us by Bradford, with the tedious and pedantic writings from which so much of the later history of New England has to be extracted.... His work is in the true sense scholarly. The language is like the language of Bunyan, that of a man who trained himself not merely to speak but to think in the words of Scripture. Every expression is simple and effective, never far-fetched, never mean nor common. The substance is worthy of the style. Faults no doubt there are ... yet with all its defects Bradford's writings still remain the worthy first-fruits of Puritan literature in its new home. They are the work of a wise and good man, who tells with a right understanding the great things that he and his brethren have done."

The wise governor was loyal to his colony to the last. He resisted the ambition to take larger holdings of land and become great estate owners that influenced Standish and Brewster, Alden and Winslow, and other of his Mayflower companions, drawing them away from Plymouth to the broader acres at Duxbury and Scituate and Marshfield. The governor deplored this withdrawal as a desertion on the part of his old friends, and a menace to the welfare of the colony. He lived on in Plymouth, where his home on Leyden Street, still standing, gradually outgrew its early primitive dimensions as became the house of the governor of Plymouth. Here he died on May 9, 1657, "lamented by all the colonists of New England as a common blessing and father to them all," and the only special memorial that tangibly recalls his fame is the unpretentious obelisk on Burial Hill.

As Miles Standish and John Alden had a romance in their lives that has made them historic, so this Puritan governor of Plymouth had his. His first wife, gentle Dorothy May, was drowned in Cape Cod harbor while her husband was away exploring the new-found coast. He had married her in Leyden in 1613 and less than three years after her death, on August 14, 1623, he married Mistress Alice Carpenter Southworth, who in earlier days, it is alleged, had been young William Bradford's "dearest love." She came across the sea—at his call—a widow, to marry the widowed governor of Plymouth and thus complete the unwritten romance begun in his earlier years.

A self-made man, a scholar of repute, a writer of renown, an upright and fearless magistrate, a model citizen, a courageous leader, gentle, just and generous, practical and wise, William Bradford stands in history as the essence and exponent of what was best in the Puritanism of his day, the architect and builder of a God-fearing, independent, and progressive community that, throughout the (p. 177) ages, remains the most notable because the most typical of the foundation-stones that underlie the mighty structure of the Republic of the United States of America.[Back to Contents]

Author signature

By F. Hindes Groome

Charles I.

Charles I. was born at Dunfermline, November 19, 1600, was a sickly child, unable to speak till his fifth year, and so weak in the ankles that till his seventh he had to crawl upon his hands and knees. Except for a stammer, he outgrew both defects, and became a skilled tilter and marksman, as well as an accomplished scholar and a diligent student of theology. He was created Duke of Albany at his baptism, Duke of York in 1605, and Prince of Wales in 1616, four years after the death of his dear brother, Prince Henry, had left him heir to the crown of three kingdoms. A Spanish match had been mooted as early as 1614; but it was not till February 17, 1623, that, with Buckingham, his inseparable friend, Charles started on the romantic incognito journey to Madrid, its objects to win the hand of the Infanta, and to procure the restitution of the Palatinate to his brother-in-law, Frederick. Both he and his father swore to all possible concessions to the Catholics, but nothing short of his own conversion would have satisfied the Spanish and papal courts; and on October 5th he landed again in England, eager for rupture with Spain.

(p. 178) The nation's joy was speedily dashed by his betrothal to the French princess, Henrietta Maria (1609-69); for the marriage articles pledged him, in violation of solemn engagements to Parliament, to permit her and all her domestics the free exercise of the Catholic religion, and to give her the up-bringing of their children till the age of thirteen.

On March 27, 1625, Charles succeeded his father, James I.; on June 13th he welcomed his little bright-eyed queen at Dover, having married her by proxy six weeks earlier. Barely a twelvemonth was over when he packed off her troublesome retinue to France—a bishop and 29 priests, with 410 more male and female attendants. Thenceforth their domestic life was a happy one; and during the twelve years following the murder of Buckingham (1592-1628), in whose hands he had been a mere tool, Charles gradually came to yield himself up to her unwise influence—not wholly indeed, but more than to that of Stafford even, or Laud. Little meddlesome Laud, made archbishop in 1633, proceeded to war against the dominant Puritanism, to preach passive obedience, and uphold the divine right of kings; while great Stafford, from championing the Petition of Right (1628), passed over to the king's service, and entered on that policy of "Thorough" whose aim was to make his master absolute. Three Parliaments were summoned and dissolved in the first four years of the reign; then for eleven years Charles ruled with but one, in its stead, with subservient judges, and the courts of Star Chamber and High Commission. In 1627 he had blundered into an inglorious French war; but with France he concluded peace in 1629, with Spain in 1630. Peace, economy, and arbitrary taxation were to solve the great problem of his policy, how to get money, yet not account for it. Not that Charles cared for money in itself, or had far-reaching projects of tyranny (he failed to enter into Stafford's scheme); but he had inherited a boundless egoism, and content with his own petty self, had little sympathy with the dead heroism of the Tudor age, none at all with the nascent ardor of democracy. The extension of the ship-tax to the inland counties was met by Hampden's passive resistance (1637); Laud's attempt to Anglicize the Scottish Church, by the active resistance of the whole northern nation. Once more Charles had to call a Parliament; two met in 1640—the Short Parliament, which lasted but three weeks, and the Long, which outlasted Charles.

It met to pronounce Stafford's doom; and his plot with the army detected, Charles basely sacrificed his loyal servitor, his own kingly word, to fears for the queen's safety; no act weighed heavier on him afterward. The same signature that sent Stafford to the block gave assent to a second bill, by which the existing Parliament might not be dissolved without its own consent. That pledge, as extorted by force, Charles purposed to disregard; and during his visit to Edinburgh, in the autumn of 1641, he trusted by lavish concessions to bring over the Scots to his side. Instead, he got entangled in dark suspicions of plotting the murder of the covenanting lords, of connivance even in the Ulster massacre. Still, his return to London was welcomed with some enthusiasm, and a party was forming in the Commons itself, of men who revolted from the sweeping changes that (p. 179) menaced both church and state. Pym's "Grand Remonstrance" justified their fears, and Charles seemed to justify the "Grand Remonstrance" by his attempt to arrest the five members (January 4, 1642); but that ill-stricken blow was dictated by the knowledge of an impending impeachment of the queen herself. On August 22d he raised the royal standard at Nottingham; and the four years civil war commenced, in which, as at Naseby, he showed no lack of physical courage, and which resulted at Naseby in the utter annihilation of his cause (June 14, 1645).

No need here to track him through plot and counterplot with Catholics, Presbyterians, and Sectaries, with the Scots and the Irish, with the Parliament and the Army; enough that, quitting his last refuge, Oxford, he surrendered himself on May 5, 1646, to the Scots at Newark, and by them, in the following January, was handed over to the Parliament. His four months captivity at Holmby House, near Northampton; his seizure on June 3d by Cornet Joyce; the three months at Hampton Court; the fight on November 11th; the fresh captivity at Carisbrooke Castle, in the Isle of Wight—these lead up to the trial at Westminster of the tyrant, traitor, and murderer, Charles Stuart. He had drawn the sword, and by the sword he perished, for it was the Army, not Parliament, that stood at the back of the judges. Charles faced them bravely and with dignity. Thrice he refused to plead, denying the competence of such a court: and his refusal being treated as a confession, on the third day fifty-five out of seventy-one judges—sixty-four more never were present—affixed their names and seals to his death-warrant; four days later, sentence was pronounced.

No need here to tell the well-known story of his meekness toward his persecutors, of the pathetic parting from two of his younger children, of his preparation for a holy death; or how, on the morning of January 30, 1649, he passed to that death on the scaffold in front of Whitehall, with a courage worthy of a very martyr. On the snowy 7th of February they bore the "white king" to his grave at Windsor in Henry VIII.'s vault; in 1813 the Prince Regent had his leaden coffin opened. Six children survived him—Charles and James, his successors; Mary, Princess of Orange (1631-60); Elizabeth (1635-50); Henry, Duke of Gloucester (1639-60); and Henrietta, Duchess of Orleans (1644-70), the last born ten weeks after Charles's final parting from his queen. At the Restoration Charles II. appointed, on his sole authority, a form of prayer, with fasting, for the day of the martyrdom of the Blessed King Charles I., to be annexed to the Common Prayer Book, with the other state services; it kept its place there till 1859.

A far stronger man than Charles might scarcely have extricated himself from the difficulties that beset him; true, those difficulties were largely of his own creating. But was he right in abandoning Stafford? should he also have sacrificed wife, faith, and crown? If yes, then was he wholly in the wrong; if no, he was partly—for once at least—in the right. Vices, other than duplicity, he had none, as we use the word. He was vague, vacillating, obstinate, unable to lead or to be led; superstitious, heedful of omens; unsympathetic and reserved where he did not love; intolerant of opposition to his will. But he was a good husband, (p. 180) a good father, a good churchman—no man so good was ever so bad a king; no man so fallible believed so honestly in his infallibility. For Charles was honest to his own convictions. His very duplicity was due sometimes to schooling in "kingcraft," but oftener to inability to see two sides of a question. Now he saw one, and now the other, but never both sides at once; and, just as he saw, so he spoke. Milton's charges against him of "all manner of lewdness" rank with Milton's charge that he poisoned his father. Indeed, as a pattern of culture and purity, few princes are worthy to be named beside him.

His children all loved and respected him. His little daughter Elizabeth, held as a prisoner by his foes, wrote of him with such womanly sympathy and admiration as even now brings tears to our eyes. His last letter of advice to his son Charles is a model hardly to be improved on. Parts of it read as follows:

"I had rather you should be Charles le bon, than le grand, good, than great; I hope God hath designed you to be both; having so early put you into that exercise of His graces and gifts bestowed upon you, which may best weed out all vicious inclinations, and dispose you to those princely endowments and employments which will most gain the love, and intend the welfare of those over whom God shall place you.

"With God, I would have you begin and end, who is King of kings, the sovereign disposer of the kingdoms of the world, who pulleth down one and setteth up another.

"The best government and highest sovereignty you can attain to, is to be subject to Him, that the sceptre of His word and spirit may rule in your heart.

"The true glory of princes consists in advancing God's glory, in the maintenance of true religion and the church's good; also in the dispensation of civil power with justice and honor to the public peace.

"Piety will make you prosperous, at least it will keep you from becoming miserable; nor is he much a loser that loseth all, yet saveth his own soul at last.

"To which centre of true happiness, God (I trust) hath and will graciously direct all these black lines of affliction which He hath been pleased to draw on me, and by which He hath (I hope) drawn me nearer to Himself. You have already tasted of that cup whereof I have liberally drunk; which I look upon as God's physic, having that in healthfulness which it wants in pleasure.

"Take heed that outward circumstances and formalities of religion devour not all, or the best, encouragements of learning, industry, and piety; but with an equal eye and impartial hand distribute favors and rewards to all men, as you find them for their real goodness both in abilities and fidelity, worthy and capable of them.

"And if neither I nor you be ever restored to our right, but God, in His severest justice, will punish my subjects with continuance in their sin, and suffer them to be deluded with the prosperity of their wickedness, I hope God will give me and you that grace which will teach and enable us to want, as well as to wear, a crown, which is not worth taking up or enjoying upon sordid, dishonorable and irreligious terms.

(p. 181) "Keep you to true principles of piety, virtue, and honor; you shall never want a kingdom.

"A principal point of your honor will consist in your deferring all respect, love, and protection to your mother, my wife, who hath many ways deserved well of me, and chiefly in this, that having been a means to bless me with so many hopeful children (all which, with their mother, I recommend to your love and care), she hath been content with incomparable magnanimity and patience to suffer both for and with me and you.

"Farewell, till we meet, if not on earth, yet in heaven."

Princess Elizabeth in Prison.

But Charles was predestined to sorrow. "A tragic face!" said the sculptor Bernini, as he looked on the triple portrait by Vandyke. Already the shadow of a violent death overclouded those fine, weak features.[Back to Contents]

Extracts from "The History of England," by Thomas B. Macaulay

An arrest.

And now a new and alarming class of symptoms began to appear in the distempered body politic. There had been, from the first, in the Parliamentary party, some men whose minds were set on objects from which the majority of that party would have shrunk with horror. These men were, in religion, Independents. They conceived that every Christian congregation had, under Christ, supreme jurisdiction in things spiritual; that appeals to provincial and national synods were scarcely less unscriptural than appeals to the Court of Arches or to the Vatican; and that popery, prelacy, and Presbyterianism were merely three forms of one great apostasy. In politics they were, to use the phrase of their time, Root and Branch men, or, to use the kindred phrase of our own time, Radicals. Not content with limiting the power of the monarch, they were desirous to erect a commonwealth on the ruins of the old English polity. At first they had been inconsiderable both in numbers and in weight; but, before the war had lasted two years, they became, not indeed the largest, but the most powerful faction in the country. Some of the old Parliamentary leaders had been removed by death, and others had forfeited (p. 182) the public confidence. Pym had been borne, with princely honors, to a grave among the Plantagenets. Hampden had fallen, as became him, while vainly endeavoring, by his heroic example, to inspire his followers with courage to face the fiery cavalry of Rupert. Bedford had been untrue to the cause. Northumberland was known to be lukewarm. Essex and his lieutenants had shown little vigor and ability in the conduct of military operations. At such a conjuncture it was, that the Independent party, ardent, resolute, and uncompromising, began to raise its head both in the camp and in the Parliament.

The soul of that party was Oliver Cromwell. Bred to peaceful occupations, he had, at more than forty years of age, accepted a commission in the Parliamentary army. No sooner had he become a soldier, than he discerned, with the keen glance of genius, what Essex and men like Essex, with all their experience, were unable to perceive. He saw precisely where the strength of the Royalists lay, and by what means alone that strength could be overpowered. He saw that it was necessary to reconstruct the army of the Parliament. He saw, also, that there were abundant and excellent materials for the purpose; materials less showy, indeed, but more solid, than those of which the gallant squadrons of the king were composed. It was necessary to look for recruits who were not mere mercenaries; for recruits of decent station and grave character, fearing God and zealous for public liberty. With such men he filled his own regiment, and, while he subjected them to a discipline more rigid than had ever before been known in England, he administered to their intellectual and moral nature stimulants of fearful potency.

The events of the year 1644 fully proved the superiority of his abilities. In the south, where Essex held the command, the Parliamentary forces underwent a succession of shameful disasters, but in the north the victory of Marston Moor fully compensated for all that had been lost elsewhere. That victory was not a more serious blow to the Royalists than to the party which had hitherto been dominant at Westminster; for it was notorious that the day, disgracefully lost by the Presbyterians, had been retrieved by the energy of Cromwell, and by the steady valor of the warriors whom he had trained.

These events produced the Self-denying Ordinance and the new model of the army. Under decorous pretexts, and with every mark of respect, Essex and most of those who had held high posts under him were removed, and the conduct of the war was intrusted to very different hands. Fairfax, a brave soldier, but of mean understanding and irresolute temper, was the nominal lord-general of the forces, but Cromwell was their real head.

Cromwell made haste to organize the whole army on the same principles on which he had organized his own regiment. As soon as this process was complete, the event of the war was decided. The Cavaliers had now to encounter natural courage equal to their own, enthusiasm stronger than their own, and discipline such as was utterly wanting to them. It soon became a proverb that the soldiers of Fairfax and Cromwell were men of a different breed from the soldiers of Essex. At Naseby took place the first great encounter between the (p. 183) Royalists and the remodelled army of the Houses. The victory of the Roundheads was complete and decisive. It was followed by other triumphs in rapid succession. In a few months the authority of the Parliament was fully established over the whole kingdom. Charles fled to the Scots, and was by them, in a manner which did not much exalt their national character, delivered up to his English subjects.

But while the Houses were employing their authority thus, it suddenly passed out of their hands. It had been obtained by calling into existence a power which could not be controlled. In the summer of 1647, about twelve months after the last fortress of the Cavaliers had submitted to the Parliament, the Parliament was compelled to submit to its own soldiers.

Thirteen years followed, during which England was, under various names and forms, really governed by the sword. Never before that time, or since that time, was the civil power in our country subjected to military dictation.

To keep down the English people was no light task even for that army. No sooner was the first pressure of military tyranny felt, than the nation, unbroken to such servitude, began to struggle fiercely. Insurrections broke out even in those counties which, during the recent war, had been the most submissive to the Parliament. Indeed, the Parliament itself abhorred its old defenders more than its old enemies, and was desirous to come to terms of accommodation with Charles at the expense of the troops. In Scotland, at the same time, a coalition was formed between the Royalists and a large body of Presbyterians, who regarded the doctrines of the Independents with detestation. At length the storm burst. There were risings in Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Kent, Wales. The fleet in the Thames suddenly hoisted the royal colors, stood out to sea, and menaced the southern coast. A great Scottish force crossed the frontier and advanced into Lancashire. It might well be suspected that these movements were contemplated with secret complacency by a majority both of the Lords and of the Commons.

But the yoke of the army was not to be so shaken off. While Fairfax suppressed the risings in the neighborhood of the capital, Oliver routed the Welsh insurgents, and, leaving their castles in ruins, marched against the Scots. His troops were few when compared with the invaders; but he was little in the habit of counting his enemies. The Scottish army was utterly destroyed. A change in the Scottish government followed. An administration, hostile to the king, was formed at Edinburgh; and Cromwell, more than ever the darling of his soldiers, returned in triumph to London.

England had already ceased to struggle; but the two other kingdoms which had been governed by the Stuarts were hostile to the new republic. The Independent party was equally odious to the Roman Catholics of Ireland and to the Presbyterians of Scotland. Both these countries, lately in rebellion against Charles I., now acknowledged the authority of Charles II.

But everything yielded to the vigor and ability of Cromwell. In a few (p. 184) months he subjugated Ireland as Ireland had never been subjugated during the five centuries of slaughter which had elapsed since the landing of the first Norman settlers. He resolved to put an end to that conflict of races and religions which had so long distracted the island, by making the English and Protestant population decidedly predominant. For this end he gave the rein to the fierce enthusiasm of his followers, waged war resembling that which Israel waged on the Canaanites, smote the idolaters with the edge of the sword, so that great cities were left without inhabitants, drove many thousands to the Continent, shipped off many thousands to the West Indies, and supplied the void thus made, by pouring in numerous colonists of the Anglo-Saxon blood and of the Calvinistic faith. Strange to say, under that iron rule the conquered country began to wear an outward face of prosperity. Districts which had recently been as wild as those where the first white settlers of Connecticut were contending with the red men, were in a few years transformed into the likeness of Kent and Norfolk. New buildings, roads, and plantations were everywhere seen. The rent of estates rose fast; and soon the English land-owners began to complain that they were met in every market by the products of Ireland, and to clamor for protecting laws.

From Ireland the victorious chief, who was now in name, as he had long been in reality, lord-general of the armies of the commonwealth, turned to Scotland. The young king was there. He had consented to profess himself a Presbyterian, and to subscribe the Covenant; and, in return for these concessions, the austere Puritans who bore sway at Edinburgh had permitted him to hold, under their inspection and control, a solemn and melancholy court in the long-deserted halls of Holyrood. This mock royalty was of short duration. In two great battles Cromwell annihilated the military force of Scotland. Charles fled for his life, and, with extreme difficulty, escaped the fate of his father. The ancient kingdom of the Stuarts was reduced, for the first time, to profound submission. Of that independence, so manfully defended against the mightiest and ablest of the Plantagenets, no vestige was left. The English Parliament made laws for Scotland. The English judges held assizes in Scotland. Even that stubborn Church, which has held its own against so many governments, scarce dared to utter an audible murmur.

Thus far there had been at least the semblance of harmony between the warriors who subjugated Ireland and Scotland, and the politicians who sat at Westminster; but the alliance which had been cemented by danger was dissolved by victory. The Parliament forgot that it was but the creature of the Army. The Army was less disposed than ever to submit to the dictation of the Parliament. Indeed, the few members who made up what was contemptuously called the Rump of the House of Commons, had no more claim than the military chiefs to be esteemed the representatives of the nation. The dispute was soon brought to a decisive issue. Cromwell filled the house with armed men. The speaker was pulled out of his chair, the mace taken from the table, the room cleared, and the door locked. The nation, which loved neither of the contending parties, (p. 185) but which was forced, in its own despite, to respect the capacity and resolution of the general, looked on with patience, if not with complacency.

King, Lords, and Commons had now, in turn, been vanquished and destroyed, and Cromwell seemed to be left the sole heir of the powers of all three. Yet were certain limitations still imposed on him by the very army to which he owed his immense authority. That singular body of men was, for the most part, composed of zealous republicans. In the act of enslaving their country, they had deceived themselves into the belief that they were emancipating her. The book which they most venerated furnished them with a precedent which was frequently in their mouths. It was true that the ignorant and ungrateful nation murmured against its deliverers; even so had another chosen nation murmured against the leader who brought it, by painful and dreary paths, from the house of bondage to the land flowing with milk and honey. Yet had that leader rescued his brethren in spite of themselves; nor had he shrunk from making terrible examples of those who contemned the proffered freedom, and pined for the flesh-pots, the task-masters, and the idolatries of Egypt. The object of the warlike saints who surrounded Cromwell was the settlement of a free and pious commonwealth. For that end they were ready to employ, without scruple, any means, however violent and lawless. It was not impossible, therefore, to establish by their aid a monarchy absolute in effect; but it was probable that their aid would be at once withdrawn from a ruler who, even under strict constitutional restraints, should venture to assume the regal name and dignity.

The sentiments of Cromwell were widely different. He was not what he had been; nor would it be just to consider the change which his views had undergone as the effect merely of selfish ambition. When he came up to the Long Parliament, he brought with him from his rural retreat little knowledge of books, no experience of great affairs, and a temper galled by the long tyranny of the government and of the hierarchy. He had, during the thirteen years which followed, gone through a political education of no common kind. He had been a chief actor in a succession of revolutions. He had been long the soul, and at last the head, of a party. He had commanded armies, won battles, negotiated treaties, subdued, pacified, and regulated kingdoms. It would have been strange indeed if his notions had been still the same as in the days when his mind was principally occupied by his fields and his religion, and when the greatest events which diversified the course of his life were a cattle-fair, or a prayer-meeting at Huntingdon. He saw that some schemes of innovation for which he had once been zealous, whether good or bad in themselves, were opposed to the general feeling of the country, and that, if he persevered in those schemes, he had nothing before him but constant troubles, which must be suppressed by the constant use of the sword. He therefore wished to restore, in all essentials, that ancient constitution which the majority of the people had always loved, and for which they now pined. The course afterward taken by Monk was not taken by Cromwell. The memory of one terrible day separated the great regicide forever from the house of Stuart. What remained was that he should mount the ancient (p. 186) English throne, and reign according to the ancient English polity. If he could effect this, he might hope that the wounds of the lacerated state would heal fast. Great numbers of honest and quiet men would speedily rally round him. Those Royalists, whose attachment was rather to institutions than to persons, to the kingly office than to King Charles I. or King Charles II., would soon kiss the hand of King Oliver. The peers, who now remained sullenly at their country houses, and refused to take any part in public affairs, would, when summoned to their House by the writ of a king in possession, gladly resume their ancient functions. Northumberland and Bedford, Manchester and Pembroke, would be proud to bear the crown and the spurs, the sceptre and the globe, before the restorer of aristocracy. A sentiment of loyalty would gradually bind the people to the new dynasty, the royal dignity might descend with general acquiescence to his posterity.

The ablest Royalists were of opinion that these views were correct, and that, if Cromwell had been permitted to follow his own judgment, the exiled line would never have been restored. But his plan was directly opposed to the feelings of the only class which he dared not offend. The name of king was hateful to the soldiers. Some of them were, indeed, unwilling to see the administration in the hands of any single person. The great majority, however, were disposed to support their general, as elective first magistrate of a commonwealth, against all factions which might resist his authority; but they would not consent that he should assume the regal title, or that the dignity, which was the just reward of his personal merit, should be declared hereditary in his family.[16] All that was left to him was to give to the new republic a constitution as like the constitution of the old monarchy as the army would bear. That his elevation to power might not seem to be his own mere act, he convoked a council, composed partly of persons on whose support he could depend, and partly of persons whose opposition he might safely defy. This assembly, which he called a Parliament, and which the populace nicknamed, from one of the most conspicuous members, Barebones's Parliament, after exposing itself during a short time to the public contempt, surrendered back to the general the powers which it had received from him, and left him at liberty to frame a plan of government.

How Oliver's Parliaments were constituted, however, was practically of little moment; for he possessed the means of conducting the administration without their support, and in defiance of their opposition. His wish seems to have been to govern constitutionally, and to substitute the empire of the laws for that of the sword; but he soon found that, hated as he was both by Royalists and Presbyterians, he could be safe only by being absolute. The first House of Commons which the people elected by his command questioned his authority, and was dissolved without having passed a single act. His second House of Commons, though it recognized him as Protector, and would gladly have made him king, obstinately refused to acknowledge his new lords. He had no course left but to (p. 187) dissolve the Parliament. "God," he exclaimed, at parting, "be judge between you and me!"

Cromwell's daughter entreats him to refuse the crown.

Yet was the energy of the Protector's administration in nowise relaxed by these dissensions. Those soldiers who would not suffer him to assume the kingly title stood by him when he ventured on acts of power as high as any English king has ever attempted. The government, therefore, though in form a republic, was in truth a despotism, moderated only by the wisdom, the sober-mindedness, and the magnanimity of the despot. The country was divided into military districts; these districts were placed under the command of major-generals. Every insurrectionary movement was promptly put down and punished. The fear inspired by the power of the sword in so strong, steady, and expert a hand, quelled the spirit both of Cavaliers and Levellers. The loyal gentry declared that they were still as ready as ever to risk their lives for the old government and the old dynasty, if there were the slightest hope of success; but to rush at the head of their serving-men and tenants on the pikes of brigades victorious in a hundred battles and sieges, would be a frantic waste of innocent and honorable blood. Both Royalists and Republicans, having no hope in open resistance, began to revolve dark schemes of assassination; but the Protector's intelligence was good; his vigilance was unremitting; and, whenever he moved beyond the walls of his palace, the drawn swords and cuirasses of his trusty body-guards encompassed him thick on every side.

Had he been a cruel, licentious, and rapacious prince, the nation might have found courage in despair, and might have made a convulsive effort to free itself from military domination; but the grievances which the country suffered, though such as excited serious discontent, were by no means such as impel great masses of men to stake their lives, their fortunes, and the welfare of their families against fearful odds. The taxation, though heavier than it had been under the Stuarts, was not heavy when compared with that of the neighboring states and with the resources of England. Property was secure. Even the Cavalier, who refrained from giving disturbance to the new settlement, enjoyed in peace whatever the civil troubles had left him. The laws were violated only in cases where the safety of the Protector's person and government were concerned. Justice was administered between man and man with an exactness and purity not before known. Under no English government since the Reformation had there been so little religious persecution. The unfortunate Roman Catholics, indeed, were held to be scarcely within the pale of Christian charity; but the clergy of the fallen Anglican Church were suffered to celebrate their worship on condition that they would abstain from preaching about politics. Even the Jews, whose public worship had, ever since the thirteenth century, been interdicted, were, in spite of the strong opposition of jealous traders and fanatical theologians, permitted to build a synagogue in London.

The Protector's foreign policy at the same time extorted the ungracious approbation of those who most detested him. The Cavaliers could scarcely refrain from wishing that one who had done so much to raise the fame of the nation (p. 188) had been a legitimate king; and the Republicans were forced to own that the tyrant suffered none but himself to wrong his country, and that, if he had robbed her of liberty, he had at least given her glory in exchange. After half a century, during which England had been of scarcely more weight in European politics than Venice or Saxony, she at once became the most formidable power in the world, dictated terms of peace to the United Provinces, avenged the common injuries of Christendom on the pirates of Barbary, vanquished the Spaniards by land and sea, seized one of the finest West India islands, and acquired on the Flemish coast a fortress which consoled the national pride for the loss of Calais. She was supreme on the ocean. She was the head of the Protestant interest. All the Reformed churches scattered over Roman Catholic kingdoms acknowledged Cromwell as their guardian. The Huguenots of Languedoc, the shepherds who, in the hamlets of the Alps, professed a Protestantism older than that of Augsburg, were secured from oppression by the mere terror of that great name. The Pope himself was forced to preach humanity and moderation to popish princes; for a voice which seldom threatened in vain had declared that, unless favor were shown to the people of God, the English guns should be heard in the Castle of St. Angelo. In truth, there was nothing which Cromwell had, for his own sake and that of his family, so much reason to desire as a general religious war in Europe. In such a war he must have been the captain of the Protestant armies. The heart of England would have been with him. His victories would have been hailed with a unanimous enthusiasm unknown in the country since the rout of the Armada, and would have effaced the stain which one act, condemned by the general voice of the nation, has left on his splendid fame. Unhappily for him, he had no opportunity of displaying his admirable military talents except against the inhabitants of the British Isles.

While he lived his power stood firm, an object of mingled aversion, admiration, and dread to his subjects. Few indeed loved his government; but those who hated it most, hated it less than they feared it. Had it been a worse government, it might, perhaps, have been overthrown in spite of all its strength. Had it been a weaker government, it would certainly have been overthrown in spite of all its merits. But it had moderation enough to abstain from those oppressions which drive men mad; and it had a force and energy which none but men driven mad by oppression would venture to encounter.

It has often been affirmed, but apparently with little reason, that Oliver died at a time fortunate for his renown, and that, if his life had been prolonged, it would probably have closed amid disgraces and disasters. It is certain that he was, to the last, honored by his soldiers, obeyed by the whole population of the British Islands, and dreaded by all foreign powers; that he was laid among the ancient sovereigns of England with funeral pomp such as London had never before seen, and that he was succeeded by his son Richard as quietly as any king had ever been succeeded by any Prince of Wales.[Back to Contents]



Frederick William, Elector of Brandenburg surnamed the Great Elector, was the son of the Elector George William. In the distracted state of Germany, during the Thirty Years' War, and the necessary absence of his father with the army, the young prince saw but little of the splendor and indulgences of a court, passing the first years of his life in retirement with his tutors, who were men of learning and experience, and with his mother, first at the castle of Litzlingen, in the forests of the Altmark, and afterward at Custrin. The adventures and the singular fortunes of the family of his mother (who was sister of Frederick, King of Bohemia, husband of the Princess Elizabeth, daughter of James I. of England), the cruel and barbarous manner in which the war was carried on, and the dangers to which he and his family were exposed, necessarily made a deep impression on his mind. At the age of fifteen he was sent to the University at Leyden, where he especially devoted himself to the classics and to history. Of modern languages he was a proficient in French, Dutch, and Polish. He was afterward in the camp of Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange, during the siege of Breda, and was much noticed by the prince for his amiable manners and exemplary conduct, as well as for his sound understanding. About this time a widely known society of young persons of both sexes (called Media Nocte) endeavored to draw the prince into its circle at The Hague; but his friend and tutor, the Baron Schulenberg, making him aware of the immoral nature of the society, the prince abruptly left one of their convivial meetings, and resolved immediately to quit The Hague. The Prince of Orange was much surprised at this self-command, and when the prince arrived in the camp before Breda, said to him, "Cousin, your flight is a greater proof of heroism than if I took Breda; he who so early knows how to command himself will always succeed in great deeds." These words, as he himself owned, made a deep impression on him.

His father dying in 1640, the young prince found his dominions reduced to a most deplorable condition by war and bad government. The exactions of Wallenstein in Altmark alone were estimated at twenty millions of gold florins; and in a memorial of the magistrate of Prenzlau, it is stated that the inhabitants are reduced to such dreadful extremities that they not only eat dogs, cats, and even carrion, but that, both in the town and country, they attack and kill each other (p. 190) for food. He commenced his government with a degree of prudence and wisdom rarely found in so young a sovereign. His first care was to correct many crying abuses and to restore order in the finances. His attention was then directed to foreign affairs. In 1642 he received the investiture of Prussia from the King of Poland; in 1643 he concluded a peace with the Swedes, on condition of their evacuating the greater part of his dominions. At the peace of Munster he was not able to enforce his claims to Pomerania and Silesia, but obtained Magdeburg, Wallenstadt, Minden, and part of Pomerania.

It is highly to his credit that it was chiefly owing to him, that the principle of equal rights and privileges for the two great divisions of the Protestant Church was admitted in that famous treaty. Charles Gustavus, King of Sweden, appearing emulous of rivalling Gustavus Adolphus, the elector concluded an alliance with Holland, and sought the friendship of Cromwell and Louis XIV. He was, however, obliged to make in 1655 a treaty with the Swedes, in consequence of which he joined in the invasion of Poland, and greatly contributed to the victory at Warsaw. Austria, Holland, and Poland vehemently protested against this alliance with Sweden. Cromwell, however, who believed the Protestant cause to be in danger from the King of Poland, sent William Jepson as his ambassador to the elector, whom in letters he compliments in the highest terms for his service to the Protestant religion. But Russia and Austria declaring in favor of Poland, he, by the mediation of Austria, concluded a convention with Poland at Wehlau, by one of the stipulations of which he obtained the entire sovereignty of Prussia, and in 1678 completed the conquest of all Pomerania by the taking of Griefswald and Stralsund. The death of Charles Gustavus freed him from an adversary who would probably have endeavored to prevent the execution of this treaty, which was confirmed by the treaty of Oliva. Frederick, now at peace with his neighbors, directed all his attention to promote the welfare of his subjects by favoring all internal improvements; the ruined towns and villages were rebuilt, new roads made, waste lands cultivated, commerce encouraged, and many useful establishments founded.

The Great Elector withdraws from the association of the Dutch nobility.

In 1672, however, Holland being threatened by Louis XIV., he concluded a treaty with the republic, engaging to furnish 20,000 men for its defence. He also contributed to induce the emperor: Denmark, Hesse Cassel, and several German princes to join him against France. But though his advance into Westphalia induced the French to quit Holland, the campaign was rendered unsuccessful by the slowness of the Austrian general, and he was forced to abandon Westphalia to the enemy. The Austrians leaving him, and the Dutch neglecting to send him subsidies, he was obliged to make a convention with France in 1673. The French were to evacuate Westphalia and pay him 800,000 livres, he promising to withdraw from his alliance with Holland, and not to support the enemies of France; yet he reserved to himself the right of assisting the German emperor in case of attack. This happened in 1674, when he invaded Alsace with 16,000 men, and joined the Imperial army; but the Austrian general, Bournonville, avoided a battle, contrary to the advice of Frederick, and Turenne receiving reinforcements (p. 191) obliged the Germans to quit Alsace. In order to free themselves from Frederick, the French instigated the Swedes to invade Pomerania and Altmark, which they attacked in December, 1674, with 16,000 men. Frederick hastened to his dominions, and proceeding with great rapidity and secrecy at the head of only 5,000 men, he totally defeated 11,000 Swedes at Fehrbellin in 1675, and freed his dominions from the enemy. Following up his successes, he took Stettin. In January, 1679, he crossed the Frische Haff and the Gulf of Courland with his army on sledges over the ice, and surprising the Swedes in their winter quarters, compelled them to quit Prussia. He did not reap any real advantage from his success, for Louis XIV. insisted that he should make peace with Sweden and give up all his conquests; and on his refusal, sent an army of 30,000 men to lay waste the duchy of Cleves, and city of Minden, so that he was forced to conclude the treaty of St. Germain, by which he restored all his conquests to Sweden; the French withdrew from his Westphalian dominions, and paid him 300,000 crowns.

After this, we do not find Frederick again in the field. He was indeed engaged in various negotiations; was involved in disputes with France on account of its seizure of Strasbourg and Luxembourg; and in consequence of his reception of 20,000 French Protestants, who left their country on the repeal of the edict of Nantes. Frederick, who had previously obtained from his ambassador, von Spanheim, notice of the intended measure, had made preparations to receive the fugitives, and sent funds to his agents at Frankfort, Amsterdam, and Hamburg, for their assistance. In like manner he protected the proscribed Waldenses. Having in vain interceded for them in a very affecting letter to the Duke of Savoy, he offered to receive 2,000 of them into his dominions. He sent 8,000 men, in 1686, to assist the emperor against the Turks; having in the year preceding renewed his alliance with Holland, when Prince William of Orange was preparing for his expedition to England, Frederick assisted him with several regiments and Marshal von Schomberg, who became so great a favorite with William, and was eventually killed at the battle of the Boyne. As another proof of Frederick's enterprising spirit, it deserves to be noticed that Spain neglecting to pay him the arrears of a subsidy promised him for his co-operation against France, he resolved to commence a war by sea against that power; he fitted out eight frigates which had been employed against Sweden, and sent them in 1680 to capture Spanish ships, and they actually took some rich merchantmen.

We have not space, nor is it necessary, to detail the proceedings of this great prince in consolidating the prosperity of his dominions and the welfare of his subjects. He died in April, 1688, leaving to his son a much enlarged and highly cultivated territory, a well-filled treasury, and an army of 30,000 excellent troops. He was twice married: first, in 1647, to Louisa Henrietta, Princess of Orange, an amiable and accomplished person, author of the celebrated German hymn "Jesus meine Zuversicht." She died in 1667. In the following year Frederick married Dorothea, Duchess Dowager of Brunswick Lüneberg; but though an excellent and virtuous princess, she was not liked by the people, chiefly because she was on ill terms with her step-children, especially the crown-prince. The character (p. 192) of Frederick, both in public and private life, has always been highly esteemed. He was kind, generous, fond of society, and, though rather quick in his temper, extremely placable. He was the real founder of the Prussian monarchy; and as a sovereign he appears to have justly merited the surname of the Great Elector.[Back to Contents]

By Oliver Optic

Louis XIV.

On September 16, 1638, Paris was in a state of intense excitement and rejoicing. The booming of cannon resounded through the city, the people gave thanks in their churches, all the palaces of the nobility were illuminated, and so brilliant were the bonfires and torches in the evening that one could see to read on both sides of the Seine. The poor were feasted as never before, and there was no limit to the enthusiasm.

The occasion of this unbounded rejoicing was the birth of an heir to the throne of France. Louis XIII., the son of Henry IV., the first of the Bourbons, was king. He had married the daughter of Philip III. of Spain, who was called Anne of Austria, after her mother. She was one of the most beautiful women of her time; but for twenty-two years she had lived nearly in a state of separation from her husband, and no living heir to the throne had been born. The king and the queen were not harmonious; and after the lapse of this long period, the birth of a son was regarded as an extraordinary, if not a miraculous event, especially by the devout people of the nation, who called the child the "God-given."

Louis XIII. was personally a brave man, and had some good qualities; but as a ruler he was weak and incapable of governing his kingdom. He admitted Cardinal Richelieu to his cabinet, and the astute politician became his prime-minister, and was the actual ruler of France. The king fully appreciated the vast abilities of his great minister, even while he feared, if he did not hate him, and became but a pliant tool in the hands of the greatest statesman of his time.

It is said that Richelieu was fascinated by the beauty and grace of Anne of (p. 193) Austria, and that she made a bitter enemy of the minister by repelling his courtesies. Be this as it may, they were never friends, except so far as the relations of state compelled them to be such. He died in 1642, naming Cardinal Mazarin as his successor. Before his death he had built up the power of France, and won for her an influential position among the governments of Europe. But he had repressed constitutional liberty, and severely burdened the people with taxation to carry on the wars he advocated.

Two years after the birth of the Dauphin, as the heir to the throne was then called, another son was born to the king, the Duke of Anjou, who afterward became the Duke of Orleans. The brother of the king is called "Monsieur" in France, by courtesy; and he is so designated in various works of the time. Louis XIII. died when his two sons were respectively five and three years old, naming the queen as regent during the minority of the young king. Richelieu had died the year before, and Mazarin had been installed in his place.

The Palais-Royal, which claims the attention of every visitor in Paris at the present time, was built by Richelieu for his own residence, and was called the Palais-Cardinal. At his death he bequeathed it to the king, and it became the residence of Anne of Austria and her two children. The official in charge of the palaces represented that it was not proper for the king to live in the mansion of a subject, and the inscription bearing the former name was removed, and that of the present day was substituted for it; which seemed to many to be an act of ingratitude to the statesman who had presented it to the crown. The chamber which had been occupied by Richelieu was given to Louis, then only five years old. It was a small apartment, for the cardinal built more for effect upon the world than for his own personal comfort; but it was conveniently located for the proper care of the young king, for whose sake alone the name of the palace had been changed.

The Palais-Royal, as enlarged and beautified from time to time by its first occupant, who was ambitious to be more magnificently lodged than the nominal sovereign at the Louvre, was the most splendid royal residence of the time. Corneille, the greatest tragic poet of France, said of it in one of his poems, that "the entire universe cannot present the equal of the magnificent exterior of the Palais-Cardinal;" though, as the stranger looks upon it to-day, the praise of the French Shakespeare seems to be extravagant.

The apartments of the queen-regent were vastly more extensive and elegant than those of his little majesty, and she caused a great deal of money and good taste to be expended in their further ornamentation. Cardinal Mazarin also went to reside with the royal family in this luxurious palace, and his rooms looked out upon the Rue des Bons Enfants (the street of the Good Children), though the name was hardly applicable to those who dwelt in the place. Louis was provided with the surroundings of royalty on a small scale, such as valets, and young nobles as children of honor, even while the young king was pinched in his personal comforts and luxuries. Until he was seven years old Louis was mostly in the hands of the feminine portion of the household, like other children. (p. 194) At this age the governor appointed to take charge of him, the sub-governor, the preceptor, and the valets, entered upon their special functions; the king was practically emancipated from the nursery.

Laporte, a valet who had long been on duty in the royal family, and had served a term in the Bastille for his fidelity, desired to read to the king, when he went to bed, something besides fairy tales; if his juvenile majesty went to sleep the reading would be lost; if not, something instructive would be retained in his memory. He read the history of France, and his charge was interested in it. Permission had been obtained of the preceptor, but Mazarin did not approve of the reading. One evening, to escape from the crowd, the cardinal passed through the room during the reading. Louis closed his eyes and pretended to be asleep. He had already taken a strong aversion to the minister, like the greater portion of the people in general.

On one occasion he called the cardinal "the Grand Turk," and the remark was reported to his mother, who sent for him and scolded him severely for it. The queen-regent did not share the general dislike of the minister, for they were on the most intimate terms of friendship. It was not a matter of record, but it was believed by many, that Mazarin had been privately married to Anne of Austria. The minister had brought his relatives to Paris, where he was in a situation to advance their fortunes. One of his youngest nephews had been appointed an enfant d'honneur of the king, who did not confine his dislike to the minister, but extended it to his family. Two of these were designated to remain with his majesty when he went to bed, and Laporte had been instructed by the queen to give each of them a stand with two candles in it, as an emblem of office and a token of honor. The king had the selection, and he forbade Laporte to give it to the young Mazarin.

The minister was one of the most adroit and cunning diplomats of his time, or any time. He was an Italian by birth, and had been in the military and diplomatic service of the Pope, in which capacity he had been recognized as a man of transcendent abilities by Richelieu, who had retained him in France, where he became a naturalized Frenchman. He was the most obsequious of courtiers, and he made himself indispensable to the queen, who nominally wielded the executive power of the government. He filled one of the most difficult political positions imaginable, and did it with consummate skill, though he very nearly sacrificed himself to the indignation of the people and the nobility in the accomplishment of his purposes.

Richelieu had deprived the representatives of the people of many of their powers and liberties, and the Parliament had attempted to recover them under Mazarin. He caused their leaders to be arrested, which initiated the war of the Fronde, consisting more of a series of riots than of organized warfare. This disturbance compelled the court to retire to St. Germain, where Louis was born. The young king was conveyed there under the protection of the Royal Guard, which forms an exciting scene in the series of Dumas, Père, "Les Trois Mousquetaires." Though humiliated and banished, Mazarin triumphed in the end. He (p. 195) had the hardihood to arrest the Great Condé, who had made the rebellion a success at one time. The minister was driven from the seat of his power into exile; but diplomacy accomplished what soldiers could not, and after an absence of a year he returned, and established himself so securely that he held his office to the day of his death.

Under Mazarin's direction and skilful intriguing at home and abroad, the influence of France was largely increased beyond her own borders, and the way was paved for triumphs to be achieved after he had himself passed away. In the family, as it were, of such a statesman and such an intriguer, were passed the earliest years of the life of Louis XIV. As the skilful diplomat had overcome the people and the nobility, changing them from the bitterest foes to at least the semblance of friends, so the hatred of the young king was buried under his respect for the vast ability of the minister.

Louis was brought up in the midst of political storms and in the turmoil of civil war. Mazarin was avaricious, and carried his economical notions in household matters to a ridiculous extent, limiting the young king's wardrobe, furniture, garments for underwear and bed use, so that some of the latter did not half cover the limbs of the growing boy, and he was compelled to sleep on a bed covered with ragged sheets. He was a bright boy, and being a king, he realized that he was not supported in the style that became his exalted condition. He was inclined to military recreations and to athletic exercises. He came very early to an understanding of what was necessary to support his character as the ruler of a great nation, and as a boy he cultivated the graces of social life, and was always a gentleman. He was a good horseman, and delighted in this exercise.

The civil war had "hunted him from pillar to post," and it was not till he was a dozen years old that he was permanently settled down in Paris. All these events of his early life had left a powerful impression upon his mind. It was the custom for the children of honor and the king to exchange little presents among themselves. One of these gifts to the juvenile monarch was a golden cannon drawn by a flea, which seemed to indicate a knowledge of his tastes. Another present was a case of surgical instruments, containing all the implements, but weighing only a few grains; and doubtless it suggested the horrors of the battle-field. Another present was a miniature sword of agate, ornamented with gold and rubies. These were all given to him by the same young noble; in return for them Louis was willing to lend the giver the cross-bow of which he made use himself.

"Kings give what they lend, sire," interposed a governess; and then Louis presented it to him, wishing it was something more valuable; for his pocket-money evidently did not permit him to indulge in such expensive gifts as those he had received; but such as they were, he gave them with his whole heart. The recipient of the gift kept it, and regarded it as vastly more valuable than if it had been covered with gold and diamonds from another.

September 7, 1651, was a memorable day in the annals of France, and if it was not marked by the popular rejoicings which had greeted the birth of the (p. 196) king, it was because the people were worn out by the war of the Frondeurs. The grand master of ceremonies had notified the Parliament that Louis XIV. would take the "seat of justice," the place of the monarch in this body on solemn and important occasions, on that day, for the purpose of declaring his majority, and assuming the government. There was a great deal of simple fiction in the formalities, for his majesty was only a boy of fourteen, with far less education than is usually obtained by one of that age at the present time, and was incapable of ruling over a great nation.

There was even some fiction in regard to his age, for though he had entered his fourteenth year, he was hardly thirteen years old. If a boy of that age were transferred from his place in school to the presidency of the United States to-day, the cases would be parallel. The education of the juvenile king had been neglected, perhaps intentionally, by Mazarin for his cunning purposes, and though he had been instructed in all the forms and ceremonials of the court, he was deficient in his knowledge of the solid branches of learning, even for one in his sphere at that age. But the government, so far as he was concerned, was all a fiction. It was to be carried on in his name in the future as it had been in the name of his mother, the queen-regent, before, though neither of them was the actual ruler. Mazarin was more than "the power behind the throne;" he was practically the throne itself.

At seven o'clock in the morning, six heralds, clothed in crimson velvet covered with fleurs de lis, the royal emblem of France, mounted on elegantly caparisoned horses, led the court to the palace where the Parliament assembled. The king's trumpeters came next to the heralds, and they were followed by the governors of provinces, two hundred of the nobility, and the officers of the royal household, escorted and flanked by several companies of light horsemen. Pages and valets had been dressed in new liveries, and the spectacle was as magnificent as the occasion required.

Then came the boy-king, as a chronicler of the period describes him, "with his august countenance beaming with a gentle dignity truly royal, and with his natural politeness, calling forth from the assembled multitude that lined the streets redoubled good wishes for his health and prosperity." The youth who played the principal part in this great ceremonial was dressed in elegant garments, so covered with gold embroideries that the color and material could hardly be discerned. He was mounted on a beautiful and high-spirited horse, which pranced and curvetted as if aware that he bore a king; and Louis managed him so skilfully and gracefully that he won the admiration of the spectators.

The king was received at the entrance of the palace chapel, where the court attended divine service, by the Bishop of Bayeux, who made an address to him, to which he listened, apparently in a thoughtful mood, and then ushered him into the chapel, where he heard low mass. Then he took his place in the hall of parliament. The minutest particulars of the scene that surrounded him when he took his seat are given in the memoirs of some who were present. Seated, and (p. 197) with his head covered, which was alone his privilege, the young king addressed the assembled representatives of the people:

"Gentlemen, I have come before my Parliament to inform you that, in obedience to the law of my kingdom, I desire to take upon myself the government of my country; and with the blessing of God, I trust that it will be conducted with justice and piety. My chancellor will state to you more particularly my intentions."

The official indicated returned to his place and eloquently enlarged upon the address of his majesty in a long discourse. The queen-mother then spoke to him, telling him that she had taken charge of his education and of the government in accordance with the expressed wish of the late king, her honored lord, and in obedience to the law she passed over to him the government of the kingdom, and hoped that the grace of God, with his own power and prudence, would render his reign a happy one. The king thanked her for the care she had given to his education and the government of the kingdom, and begged her to continue to give him her good counsels, saying that she should be his chief adviser.

His brother, the Duke of Anjou, then approached him, kneeled, kissed his hand, and protested his fidelity. The Duke of Orleans then followed the example of his nephew, as did a multitude of princes, dukes, marshals, ecclesiastics, and all the officers of state. The royal party returned to the Palais-Royal amidst the unanimous acclamations of the multitude, and the cries of "Vive le roi" continued all night, with bonfires and illuminations. The boy of fourteen was now actually the king, so far as forms could make him so, though he was to remain not much more than a cipher for several years to come.

The war of the Fronde lasted about eight years, and was carried on in the interest of the people against the court, which had overburdened them with taxes. The word "fronde" means a sling, and was applied to those who criticised the government then and in later years. The Parliament refused to impose the taxes required by the regent, which meant Mazarin, and some of its members were arrested and imprisoned. Some of the most distinguished nobles in France were implicated with the opposition, including the great Condé, the king's uncle. Mazarin's politic yielding, which alone saved him from destruction, assisted in restoring peace. Condé was in arms against the government, but he was defeated by Turenne. The people and the nobles were tired of the strife, and a general amnesty was proclaimed in 1653.

Though Louis was well instructed in his religious duties, was entirely familiar with court etiquette, and knew enough about military affairs to enable him to review his troops, he knew little or nothing about the politics of his kingdom, for he had been purposely kept in ignorance of affairs of state. But he manifested a sound judgment and considerable discernment even at this early age. He accompanied Turenne in a campaign against Condé, and was present at the siege of Arras, which put an end to the Fronde contests. Some of the Frondeurs had injudiciously called in the aid of Spain to their cause, and that brought on war between the two nations. Peace was made in 1659, and one of the articles of the (p. 198) treaty stipulated the marriage of Louis XIV. and Marie Therese, daughter of Philip IV. of Spain, and they were married a year later. This princess was good-natured and beautiful, but this was about all that could be said of her, for she was rather weak in intellect, and was not such a queen as "Louis the Great" needed. His majesty was not attached to her, though he invariably treated her with the most ceremonious respect, and extended to her the utmost kindness and consideration.

Though the king had a certain respect for the proprieties of his position, he lived in a period of the greatest immorality and license, while he attended strictly to his formal religious duties. Judged by any standard of the morals of more modern times, the verdict of average citizens would be against him. He was surrounded by dissolute men, and some, who ought to have protected him from the assaults of vice, placed him in its way. He was no worse in this respect than even Richelieu and Mazarin, not to mention his mother and many of the most noted men of his time. This is not the place to detail the king's gallantries, for they would fill a volume.

When Louis was twenty-three years of age, Cardinal Mazarin died, having ruled the nation for eighteen years; but ten of them were after the king had come to his majority, and the minister had discovered that he had a will of his own, incompetent as he then was to hold the reins of government. Louis went to see him in his final hours, and asked him for his last counsels. "Sire," replied the dying cardinal, "see that you respect yourself, and others will respect you; never have another first minister; employ Colbert in all things in which you need the services of an intelligent and devoted man." And the king followed this advice, and perhaps Mazarin gave it because he understood so well the inclination of Louis.

Mazarin died possessed of an immense fortune, which was not generally believed to have been honestly acquired. He was a usurer, though he could be very liberal when his policy demanded. On his death-bed his confessor warned him that he was eternally lost if he did not restore whatever wealth he had fraudulently accumulated; but the dying cardinal declared that he had nothing which had not been bestowed upon him by the bounty of the king. His fortune was estimated at fifty millions of francs, or about ten millions of dollars, a vast sum for that time. He gave the bulk of it to his nieces and nephews, with presents to members of the royal family, and eighteen large diamonds to the crown, called "the Mazarins."

Like Richelieu, he had built a palace on the Seine, which he gave to the State, and the Palais Mazarin is now occupied by the French Academy. This act and the creation of a dukedom were to perpetuate his name. He was the owner of one of the original twenty-five Bibles printed by Gutenberg, which is called by Mazarin's name, and was once sold for about twenty thousand dollars.

Molière at breakfast with Louis XIV.

After the death of the great minister, officials of the government desired to know to whom they were to apply for instructions, and the king promptly replied that they were to address themselves to him. Louis had hitherto devoted (p. 199) himself almost wholly to the pleasures of his dissolute age, and he astonished his people and the nations of Europe by assuming in reality the entire control of the affairs of state, which he retained to the end of his life. He proceeded at once to examine into the finances of the nation, and appointed Colbert, as Mazarin had advised, minister of this department. He succeeded Fouquet, a brilliant man who had amassed enormous wealth by robbing the treasury. Louis was firm and resolute in carrying out his will, and he caused the arrest of the peculating minister immediately after a magnificent fête he had given in honor of his sovereign. He was convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for life.

Colbert did not disappoint the king, and the measures recommended by him at once improved the finances, stimulated the commerce of the country, established extensive manufactures, and filled the treasury. France was in the highest degree prosperous as a nation. Louis was arbitrary and absolute. His most notable saying, "L'état c'est moi" (I am the State), was fully realized in his administration. He made war and made peace at his own pleasure, and, as monarchs are measured, he was entitled to the appellation of Louis le Grand, chiselled on the triumphal arches of Paris to perpetuate his glory. In the later years of his reign his wars made serious inroads upon the treasury, and they were not always successful. The building of the immense and extravagant palace of Versailles, with its surroundings, costing a billion francs, was an act of folly often condemned, and was one of the burdens which broke down the treasury of the nation. Colbert was dead, and the king, with Louvois, his over-liberal minister, dissipated the resources he had collected.

Marie Therese, the queen, died in 1683. He afterward married Madame de Maintenon, then the widow of the lame and deformed poet Scarron, who had rescued her from poverty. She had a powerful influence over the king, which was unfortunate for him, for she was a bigot, though a better woman than most of those who had been his intimates. Throughout his reign Louis maintained the most severe system of court etiquette. He regarded himself as the absolute owner of his realm, and the arbiter of the existence of all his subjects. His habits were methodical. He rose at eight, and was dressed by his valets in the presence of many courtiers, after he had performed his devotions. He breakfasted at ten, and dined alone at one, waited upon by the highest officers of the court. His presence awed those who came before him.

He patronized and encouraged poets, authors, and artists; and Molière, both author and actor, was a great favorite with him, and appears to have been the only man of his profession who was ever admitted to the honor of dining with the king. Though Louis was not known to make a joke himself, he greatly enjoyed the witty conversation of Molière, who is commemorated in Paris by a fountain and street named after him.

The last years of the reign of Louis XIV. are in strong contrast with the glorious period of the zenith of his prosperity. Several bloody defeats of his armies darkened the military splendor of his reign, the treasury was well-nigh bankrupt, and his court for the speedy trial and punishment of offenders, political (p. 200) or otherwise, had estranged the people; but he remained arbitrary and absolute to the end. At the age of seventy-seven he died, after intense suffering, in 1715. He died a great king, but not a great man.[Back to Contents]

Author signature


William Penn.

William Penn was born in London, October 14, 1644. He was the son of a naval officer of the same name, who served with distinction both in the Protectorate and after the Restoration, and who was much esteemed by Charles II. and the Duke of York. At the age of fifteen he was entered as a gentleman-commoner at Christchurch, Oxford. He had not been long in residence, when he received, from the preaching of Thomas Loe, his first bias toward the doctrines of the Quakers; and in conjunction with some fellow-students he began to withdraw from attendance on the Established Church, and to hold private prayer-meetings. For this conduct Penn and his friends were fined by the college for non-conformity: and the former was soon involved in more serious censure by his ill-governed zeal, in consequence of an order from the king that the ancient custom of wearing surplices should be revived. This seemed to Penn an infringement of the simplicity of Christian worship; whereupon he, with some friends, tore the surplices from the backs of those students who appeared in them. For this act of violence, totally inconsistent, it is to be observed, with the principles of toleration which regulated his conduct in after life, he and they were very justly expelled.

Admiral Penn, who, like most sailors, possessed a quick temper and high notions of discipline and obedience, was little pleased with this event, and still less satisfied with his son's grave demeanor, and avoidance of the manners and ceremonies of polite life. Arguments failing, he had recourse to blows, and as a last resource, he turned his son out of doors; but soon relented so far as to equip (p. 201) him, in 1662, for a journey to France, in hope that the gayety of that country would expel his new-fashioned and, as he regarded them, fanatical notions. Paris, however, soon became wearisome to William Penn, and he spent a considerable time at Saumur, for the sake of the instruction and company of Moses Amyrault, an eminent Protestant divine. Here he confirmed and improved his religious impressions, and at the same time acquired, from the insensible influence of those who surrounded him, an increased polish and courtliness of demeanor, which greatly gratified the admiral on his return home in 1664.

Admiral Penn went to sea in 1664, and remained two years on service. During this time the external effects of his son's residence in France had worn away, and he had returned to those grave habits, and that rule of associating only with religious people, which had before given his father so much displeasure. To try the effect of absence and change of associates, Admiral Penn sent William to manage his estates in Ireland, a duty which the latter performed with satisfaction both to himself and his employer. But it chanced that, on a visit to Cork, he again attended the preaching of Thomas Loe, by whose exhortations he was deeply impressed. From this time he began to frequent the Quakers' meetings; and in September, 1667, he was imprisoned, with others, under the persecuting laws which then disgraced the statute-book. Upon application to the higher authorities, he was soon released. Soon after the admiral again turned him out of doors.

In 1668, he began to preach, and in the same year he published his first work, "Truth Exalted, etc." We cannot here notice his very numerous works, of which the titles run, for the most part, to an extraordinary length; but "The Sandy Foundation Shaken," published in the same year, claims notice as having led to his first public persecution. He was detained in prison for seven months, and treated with much severity. In 1669 he had the satisfaction of being reconciled to his father. He was one of the first sufferers by the passing of the Conventicle Act, in 1670. He was imprisoned in Newgate, and tried for preaching to a seditious and riotous assembly in Gracechurch Street; and this trial is remarkable and celebrated in criminal jurisprudence for the firmness with which he defended himself, and still more for the admirable courage and constancy with which the jury maintained the verdict of acquittal which they pronounced.

In the same year died Sir William Penn, in perfect harmony with his son, toward whom he in the end felt the most cordial regard and esteem, and to whom he bequeathed an estate computed at £1,500 a year—a large sum in that age. Toward the end of the year he was again imprisoned in Newgate for six months, the statutable penalty for refusing to take the oath of allegiance, which was maliciously tendered to him by a magistrate. This appears to have been the last absolute persecution for religion's sake which he endured. Though his poor brethren continued to suffer imprisonment in the stocks, fines, and whipping, as the penalty of their peaceable meetings for divine worship, the wealthy proprietor, though he travelled largely, both in England and abroad, and labored both in writing and in preaching, as the missionary of his sect, both escaped injury, (p. 202) and acquired reputation and esteem by his self-devotion. To the favor of the king and the Duke of York he had a hereditary claim, which appears always to have been cheerfully acknowledged; and an instance of the rising consideration in which he was held appears in his being admitted to plead, before a committee of the House of Commons, the request of the Quakers that their solemn affirmation should be admitted in the place of an oath.

Penn married in 1672, and took up his abode at Rickmansworth, in Hertfordshire. In 1677 we find him removed to Worminghurst, in Sussex, which long continued to be his place of residence. His first engagement in the plantation of America was in 1676, in consequence of being chosen arbitrator in a dispute between two quakers who had become jointly concerned in the colony of New Jersey.

In these transactions he had the opportunity of contemplating the glorious results which might be hoped for from a colony founded with no interested views, but on the principles of universal peace, toleration, and liberty; and he felt an earnest desire to be the instrument in so great a work, more especially as it held out a prospect of deliverance to his persecuted Quaker brethren in England, by giving them a free and happy asylum in a foreign land. Circumstances favored his wish. The crown was indebted to him £16,000 for money advanced by the late admiral for the naval service. Accordingly, Penn received, in 1681, a grant by charter of that extensive province, named Pennsylvania by Charles himself, in honor of the admiral.

He immediately drew up and published "Some Account of Pennsylvania, etc.;" and then "Certain Conditions or Concessions, etc.," to be agreed on between himself and those who wished to purchase land in the province. These having been accepted by many persons, he proceeded to frame the rough sketch of a constitution, on which he proposed to base the charter of the province. The price fixed on land was forty shillings, with the annual quit-rent of one shilling, for one hundred acres; and it was provided that no one should, in word or deed, affront or wrong any Indian without incurring the same penalty as if the offence had been committed against a fellow-planter; that strict precautions should be taken against fraud in the quality of goods sold to them; and that all differences between the two nations should be adjudged by twelve men, six of each. And he declares his intention "to leave myself and my successors no power of doing mischief; that the will of one man may not hinder the good of a whole country." It was this constitution, substantially, which Burke, in his "Account of the European Settlements in America," describes as "that noble charter of privileges, by which he made them as free as any people in the world, and which has since drawn such vast numbers of so many different persuasions and such various countries to put themselves under the protection of his laws. He made the most perfect freedom, both religious and civil, the basis of his establishment; and this has done more toward the settling of the province, and toward the settling of it in a strong and permanent manner, than the wisest regulations could have done on any other plan."

In 1682 a number of settlers, principally Quakers, having been already sent (p. 203) out, Penn himself embarked for Pennsylvania, leaving his wife and children in England. On occasion of this parting, he addressed to them a long and affectionate letter, which presents a very beautiful picture of his domestic character, and affords a curious insight into the minute regularity of his daily habits. He landed on the banks of the Delaware in October, and forthwith summoned an assembly of the freemen of the province, by whom the frame of government, as it had been promulgated in England, was accepted. Penn's principles did not suffer him to consider his title to the land as valid without the consent of the natural owners of the soil. He had instructed persons to negotiate a treaty of sale with the Indian nations before his own departure from England; and one of his first acts was to hold that memorable assembly, to which the history of the world offers none alike, at which this bargain was ratified, and a strict league of amity established. We do not find specified the exact date of this meeting, which took place under an enormous elm-tree, near the site of Philadelphia, and of which a few particulars only have been preserved by the uncertain record of tradition. Well and faithfully was that treaty of friendship kept by the wild denizens of the woods; "a friendship," says Proud, the historian of Pennsylvania, "which for the space of more than seventy years was never interrupted, or so long as the Quakers retained power in the government."

Penn remained in America until the middle of 1684. During this time much was done toward bringing the colony into prosperity and order. Twenty townships were established, containing upward of seven thousand Europeans; magistrates were appointed; representatives, as prescribed by the constitution, were chosen, and the necessary public business transacted. In 1683 Penn undertook a journey of discovery into the interior: and he has given an interesting account of the country in its wild state, in a letter written home to the Society of Free Traders to Pennsylvania. He held frequent conferences with the Indians, and contracted treaties of friendship with nineteen distinct tribes. His reasons for returning to England appear to have been twofold; partly the desire to settle a dispute between himself and Lord Baltimore, concerning the boundary of their provinces, but chiefly the hope of being able, by his personal influence, to lighten the sufferings and ameliorate the treatment of the Quakers in England. He reached England in October, 1684. Charles II. died in February, 1685. But this was rather favorable to Penn's credit at court; for beside that James appears to have felt a sincere regard for him, he required for his own church that toleration which Penn wished to see extended to all alike. The same credit, and the natural and laudable affection and gratitude toward the Stuart family which he never dissembled, caused much trouble to him after the Revolution. He was continually suspected of plotting to restore the exiled dynasty; was four times arrested, and as often discharged in the total absence of all evidence against him. During the years 1691, 1692, and part of 1693, he remained in London, living, to avoid offence, in great seclusion; in the latter year he was heard in his own defence before the king and council, and informed that he need apprehend no molestation or injury.

(p. 204) The affairs of Pennsylvania fell into some confusion during Penn's long absence. Even in the peaceable sect of Quakers there were ambitious, bustling, and selfish men; and Penn was not satisfied with the conduct either of the representative Assembly, or of those to whom he had delegated his own powers. He changed the latter two or three times, without effecting the restoration of harmony; and these troubles gave a pretext for depriving him of his powers as governor, in 1693. The real cause was probably the suspicion entertained of his treasonable correspondence with James II. But he was reinstated in August, 1694, by a royal order, in which it was complimentarily expressed that the disorders complained of were produced entirely by his absence. Anxious as he was to return, he did not find an opportunity till 1699; the interval was chiefly employed in religious travel through England and Ireland, and in the labor of controversial writing, from which he seldom had a long respite. His course as a philanthropist on his return to America is honorably marked by an endeavor to ameliorate the condition of Negro slaves. The society of Quakers in Pennsylvania had already come to a resolution, that the buying, selling, and holding men in slavery was inconsistent with the tenets of the Christian religion; and following up this honorable declaration, Penn had no difficulty in obtaining for the negroes free admission into the regular meetings for religious worship, and in procuring that other meetings should be holden for their particular benefit. The Quakers, therefore, merit our respect as the earliest, as well as some of the most zealous, emancipators.

The governor returned to England in 1701, to oppose a scheme agitated in Parliament for abolishing the proprietary governments and placing the colonies immediately under royal control; the bill, however, was dropped before he arrived. He enjoyed Anne's favor, as he had that of her father and uncle, and resided much in the neighborhood of the court, at Kensington and Knightsbridge. In his religious labors he continued constant, as heretofore. He was much harassed by a lawsuit, the result of too much confidence in a dishonest steward; which being decided against him, he was obliged for a time to reside within the Rules of the Fleet Prison. This, and the expenses in which he had been involved by Pennsylvania, reduced him to distress, and in 1709 he mortgaged the province for £6,600. In 1712 he agreed to sell his rights to the government for £12,000, but was rendered unable to complete the transaction by three apoplectic fits, which followed each other in quick succession. He survived, however, in a tranquil and happy state, though with his bodily and mental vigor much broken, until July 30, 1718, on which day he died at his seat at Rushcomb, in Berkshire, where he had resided for some years.

His first wife died in 1693. He married a second time in 1696; and left a family of children by both wives, to whom he bequeathed his landed property in Europe and America. His rights of government he left in trust to the Earls of Oxford and Powlett, to be disposed of; but no sale being ever made, the government, with the title of Proprietaries, devolved on the surviving sons of the second family.[Back to Contents]

Footnote 1: Copyright. 1894. by Selmar Hess.[Back to Main Text]

Footnote 2: Moses, the lawgiver of the Hebrew people, was, according to the Biblical account, an Israelite of the tribe of Levi, and the son of Amram and Jochebed. He was born in Egypt, in the year 1571 B.C., according to the common chronology. To evade the edict of Pharaoh, the King of Egypt, that all the male children of the Hebrews should be killed, he was hid by his mother three months, and then exposed in an ark of rushes on the banks of the Nile. Here the child was found by Pharaoh's daughter, who adopted him for her son, entrusting him to his own mother to nurse, by which circumstance he was preserved from being entirely separated from his own people. He was probably educated at the Egyptian court, where he became "learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians." At the age of forty years Moses conceived the idea of freeing his Hebrew brethren from their bondage in Egypt, and on one occasion, seeing an Egyptian maltreating an Israelite, he interfered, slew the Egyptian, and buried him in the sand. The next day, upon his attempting to reconcile two Hebrews who had quarrelled, his services were scornfully rejected, and he was upbraided with the murder of the Egyptian. Finding that his secret was known, he fled from Egypt, and took refuge with a tribe of Midianites in Arabia Petræa, among whom he lived as a shepherd forty years, having married the daughter of their priest Jethro or Reuel.

As Moses led his father-in-law's flocks in the desert of Sinai, God appeared to him at Mount Horeb in a bush which burnt with fire, but was not consumed, and commanded him to return to Egypt and lead out his people thence into the land of Canaan. On his arrival in Egypt, the Israelites accepted him as their deliverer and after bringing ten miraculous plagues upon the land of Egypt before he could gain Pharaoh's consent to the departure of the people, he led them out through the Red Sea, which was miraculously divided for their passage, into the peninsula of Sinai. While the people were encamped at the foot of Sinai, God delivered to them through Moses the law which, with some additions and alterations, was ever after observed as their national code. After leading the Israelites through the wilderness for forty years, Moses appointed Joshua as his successor in the command over them, and died at the age of one hundred and twenty years, on Mount Pisgah, on the east side of the River Jordan, having first been permitted to view the land of Canaan from its summit. God buried him in the valley of Bethpeor, in the land of Moab, but his tomb was never made known.[Back to Main Text]

Footnote 3: Copyright, 1894, by Selmar Hess.[Back to Main Text]

Footnote 4: Copyright, 1894, by Selmar Hess.[Back to Main Text]

Footnote 5: Copyright. 1894. by Selmar Hess.[Back to Main Text]

Footnote 6: Copyright, 1894, by Selmar Hess.[Back to Main Text]

Footnote 7: Copyright, 1894, by Selmar Hess.[Back to Main Text]

Footnote 8: Copyright, 1894, by Selmar Hess.[Back to Main Text]

Footnote 9: Copyright, 1894, by Selmar Hess.[Back to Main Text]

Footnote 10: The Muezzin is the Mahometan official who announces to the faithful the hour of prayer. Three times in the day and twice at night he goes up to the balcony of one of the minarets of the mosque, and chants the call. It is a simple but solemn melody, which floats down from the height of his turret upon the sleeping or bustling city with vast impressiveness, and receives immediate and universal obedience.[Back to Main Text]

Footnote 11: It should be carefully observed here, that the emperor guaranteed to Huss a safe journey both to Constance and from it. The words of the document are: "Ut ei transire, stare, morari, redire libere permittatis."[Back to Main Text]

Footnote 12: It is said that Louis was a firm believer in astrology, that he wore a cap set round with leaden images of the saints to which he prayed, but told them falsehoods even in his prayers. His choice of a confidential adviser was perhaps his greatest offence in the eyes of the nobility, for he selected his barber, Olivier le Dain, or Oliver the Devil. This man mocked his master even while he served him. Our engraving, after the painting of Hermann Kaulbach, represents both in characteristic positions.[Back to Main Text]

Footnote 13: Copyright, 1894, by Selmar Hess.[Back to Main Text]

Footnote 14: Copyright, 1894, by Selmar Hess.[Back to Main Text]

Footnote 15: Copyright, 1894, by Selmar Hess.[Back to Main Text]

Footnote 16: It is said that it was largely by the warnings and entreaties of his daughter, Elizabeth Claypole, whom he tenderly loved, that Cromwell was persuaded not to claim the crown.[Back to Main Text]

Footnote 17: Copyright, 1894, by Selmar Hess.[Back to Main Text]

End of Project Gutenberg's Great Men and Famous Women. Vol. 3 of 8, by Various


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