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Successful Assaults on Roman Civilization. Whatever were the real causes of the downfall of the ancient civilization, its immediate instrument was the fury of the barbarian invasions, directed again and again against the institutions in which it was embodied. First, one came down upon the devoted Empire, and then another; and that which the palmer worm left, the locust ate; and what the locust left, the mildew destroyed.' Nay, this succession of assaults did not merely carry on and finish the process of destruction, but rather undid the promise and actual prospect of recovery, In the interval between blow and blow, there was a direct tendency to a revival of what had been trodden down, and a restoration of what had been defaced; and that, not only from any such reaction as might take place in the afflicted population itself, when the crisis was over, but from the incipient domestication of the conqueror, and the introduction of a new and vigorous element into the party and cause of civilization. The fierce soldier was vanquished by the captive of his sword and bow. The beauty of the southern climate, the richness of its productions, the material splendor of its cities, the majesty of the imperial organization, the spontaneous precision of a routine administration, the influence of religion upon the imagination and the affections, antiquity, rule, name, prescription, and territory, presented to invisible and recognized forms,-in a word, the conservative power proper to establishments, mawed, overcame, and won, the sensitive and noble savage. Order is heaven's first law,' and bears upon it the impress of divinity; and it has an especial power over those minds which have bad least experience of it. The Goth not only took pay, and sought refuge, from the Empire, but, still more, when, instead of dependent, he was lord and master, he found himself absorbed into and assimilated with the civilization, upon which he had violently thrust himself. Had he been left in possession, great revolutions certainly, but not dissolution, would have been the destiny of the social framework; and the tradition of science and of the arts of life would have been unbroken.
Thus, in the midst of the awful events which were then in progress, there were intervals of respite and of hope. The day of wrath seemed to be passing away; things began to look up, and the sun was on the point of coming out again. Statesmen, who watched the signs of the times, perhaps began to say, that at last they did think that the worst was over, and that there were good grounds for looking hopefully at the state of affairs. Adolphus, the successor of Alaric, took on himself the obligations of a Roman general, assumed the Roman dress, accepted the Emperor's sister in murriage, and opposed in arms the fiercer barbarians who had overrun Spain. The sons of Theodoric, the Visigoth, were taught Virgil and the Roman Law in the schools of Gaul. Theodoric, the Ostrogoth, anxiously preserved the ancient monuments of Rome, and ornamented the cities of Italy with new edifices; he revived agriculture, promoted commerce, and patronized literature. But the Goth was not to retain the booty which the Roman had been obliged to relinquish; he had soon, in company with his former foe, to repel the Vandal, the Hun, or the Frank; or, weakened from within, to yield to the younger assailants who were to succeed him. Then the whole work of civilization had to begin again--if indeed there was to be a new beginning; or rather there was not life enough left in its poor remains, to vivify the fresh mass of barbarism which fell heavily
upon it, or even to save itself from a final extinction. As great Cæsar fell, not under one, but under twenty strokes ; so it was only by many a cleaving, many a shattering blow, 'scalpri frequentis ictibus et tunsione plurima,' that the existing fabric of the old world, to which Cæsar, more than any other, had given name and form, was battered down. It was the accumulation, the reiteration of calamities, in every quarter and through a long period, by 'the rain falling, and the floods coming, and the winds blowing and breakiug upon that house,' that it fell, and great was the fall thereof.'
The judgments of God were upon the earth, and the clouds returned after the rain ;' and as a thunder cloud careers around the sky, and condenses suddenly here or there, and repeats its violence when it seems to have been spent, so was it with the descent of the North upon the South. There was scarcely a province of the great Empire, but twice or thrice had to sustain attack, invasion, or occupation, from the barbarian. Till the termination of the reign of the Antonines, for a hundred and fifty years, the long peace continued, which the Prince of Peace brought with Him; then a fitful century of cloud and sunshine, hope and fear, suspense and affliction; till at length, just at the middle of the third century of our era, the trumpet sounded, and the time of visitation began. The tremendous period opened in a great pestilence, and in an eruption of the barbarian both on the East and on the West. The pestilence lasted for fifteen years; and, though sooner brought to an end than that more awful pestilence in St. Gregory's day with which the season of judgment closed, yet in that fifteen years it made its way into every region and city of the Empire. Many cities were emptied; Rome at one time lost 5,000 inhabitants daily, Alexandria lost half her population. As to the barbarians, the Franks on the West descended into Spain; and the Gothis on the East into Asia Minor.
Asia Minor had had a long peace of three hundred years, a phenomenon almost solitary in the history of the world, and difficult for the imagination to realize. Its cities were unwalled; military duties had been abolished; the taxes were employed on the public buildings and the well-being and enjoy.
life; the face of the country was decorated and diversified by the long growth and development of vegetation, by the successive accumulations of art, and by the social memorials and reminiscences of nine peaceful generations. Its parks and groves, its palaces and temples, were removed further by a hundred years from the injuries of warfare, than England is now from the ravages of the Great Rebellion. Down came the Goths from Prussia, Poland, and the Crimea; they sailed along the Euxine, ravaged Pontus and Bithynia, sacked the wealthy Trebizond and Chalcedon, and burned the imperial Nicæa and Nicomedia, and other great cities of the country; then they fell upon Cyzicus and the cities on the coast, and finally demolished the famous tempie of Diana at Ephesus, the wonder of the world. Then they passed over to the opposite continent, sacked Athens, and spread dismay and confusion, if not conflagration, through both upper Greece and the Peloponnese. At the same solemn era, the Franks fell upon Spain, and ran through the whole of it, destroying flourishing cities, whose ruins lay on the ground for centuries, nor stopped till they had crossed into Africa.
A second time, at a later date, was Spain laid waste hy the Vandals and their confederales, with an uiter desolation of its territory. Famine became so
urgent, that human flesh was caten; pestilence so rampant, that the wild beasts multiplied among the works of man. Passing on to Africa, these detestable savages cut down the very fruit-trees, as they went, in the wantonness of their fury; and the inhabitants of the plundered cities fled away with such property as they could save beyond sea. A new desolation of Africa took place two centuries later, when the Saracens passed in a contrary direction from Egypt into Spain.
Nor were the Greek and Asiatic provinces, more than the West, destined to be protected against successive invasions. Scarcely a hundred years had passed since the barbarian Goth had swept so fiercely each side of the Ægean, when additional blows fell upon Europe and Asia from fresh enemies. In Asia the Huns poured down upon Cappadocia, Cilicia, and Syria, scaring the pagans of Antioch, and the monks and pilgrims of Palestine, silencing at once the melody of immodest song and of lioly chant, till they came to the entrance of Egypt. In Europe it was the Goths again, who descended with fire and sword into Greece, desolated the rich lands of Phocis and Bæotia, destroyed Eleusis and its time-honored superstitions, and passing into the Peloponnese, burned its cities and enslaved its population. About the same time the fertile and cultivated tract, stretching from the Euxine to the Adriatic, was devastated by the same reckless invaders, even to the destruction of the brute creation. Sixty years afterwards the same region was overrun by the still more terrible Huns, wlo sacked as many as seventy cities, and carried off their inhabitants. This double scourge, of which Alaric and Attila are the earlier and later representatives, traveled up the country northwards, and thence into Lombardy, pillaging, burning, exterminating, as it went along.
What Huns and Goths were to the South, such were Germans, lluns, and Frauks to Gaul. That famous country, though in a less favored climate, was as cultivated and happy as Asia Minor after its three centuries of peace. The banks of the Rhine are said to have been lined with villas and farms; the schools of Marseilles, Autun, and Bordeaux, vied with those of the East, and even with that of Athens; opulence had had its civilizing effect upon their manners, and familiarity with the Latin classics upon their native dialect. At the time that Alaric was carrying his ravages from Greece into Lombardy, the fierce Burgundians and other Germans, to the number of 200,000 fighting men, fell upon Gaul; and, to use the words of a well-known historian, “the scene of peace and plenty was suddenly changed into a desert, and the prospect of the smoking ruins could alone distinguish the solitude of nature from the work of man.' The barbarian torrent, sweeping away cities and inhabitants, spread from the banks of the Rhine to the Atlantic and Pyrenees. Fifty years later a great portion of the same region was devastated with like excesses by the Huns; and in the intervals between the two visitations, destructive inroads, or rather permanent occupations, were effected by the Franks and Burgundians.
As to Italy, with Rome as a centre, its multiplied miseries are too familiarly known to require illustration. I need not enlarge upon the punishments in. flicted on it by German, Goth, Vandal, Hun, and Byzantine, who in those same centuries overspread the country, or upon the destruction of cities, villas, monasteries; of every place where literature might be stored, or civilization transmitted to posterity. Barbarians occupied the broad lands of nobles and senators • mercenary bands infested its roads, and tyrannized in its towns and
its farms; even the useful arts were gradually forgotten, and the ruins of its cities sufficed for the remnant of its citizens. Such was the state of things, when, after the gleam of posterity and hope which accompanied the Gothic ascendency; at length the Lonibards came down in the age of St. Gregory, a more fatal foe than any before, to complete the desolation of the garden of Europe.
Encompassed then by such calamities, present and hereditary, through such a succession of centuries and in such a multitude of countries, where should the Roman Pontiff: look for a refuge of learning, sacred and profane, when the waters were out all over the earth? What place shall be prepare, what people shall he choose, with a view to a service, the more necessary in proportion as it was difficult? I know where it niust be; doubtless in the old citadel of science, which bitherto had been safe from the spoiler-in Alexandia. The city and country of the Ptolemies was inviolate as yet; the Huns bad stopped on its eastern, the Vandals at its western boundary; and though Athens and Rhodes, Carthage and Madaura, Cordova and Lerida, Marseilles and Bordeaux, Rheims and Milan, liad been overrun by the barbarian, yet the Museum, the greatest of all schools, and the Sarapeum, the largest of all libraries, had recovered from the civil calamities which had pressed upon them in a past century, and were now far away from the Lombard, who was the terror of the age. It would have been a plausible representation in the age of St. Gregory and his immediate successors, if human wisdom had been their rule of judgment, that they must strengthen their alliance, since they could not with ambitious and schismatical Constantinople, at least with Alexandria. Yet to Alexandria they did not turn, and in fact, before another century had passed, Alexandria itself was taken, and her library burned by an enemy, more hostile to religion, if not to philosophy, even than the Lombard. The instinctive sagacity of Popes, when troubled about the prospective fortunes of the human race, did not look for a place of refuge to a city which had done great services to science and literature in its day, but was soon to fall for ever.
[It was in the monasteries of the sister islands of Britannia and Hibernia that learning and religion found a refuge, and whence came the scholars and churchimen to rebuild the schools and churches of the desolated continent.]
The Greek colonies of Syria and Asia Minor, and the Roman settlements upon the African coast, had been, almost from their first formation, flourishing schools of education; and now that they were perishing under the barbarism of the Saracens, they were abandoned by such professors and students as remained, for the cities of Italy. In a convent near Naples lived Adrian, an African; of Rome there was a monk, named Theodore, from Tarsus in Cilicia; both of them were distinguished for their classical, as well as their ecclesiastical attainments; and while Theodore had been educated in Greek usages, Adrian represented the more congenial and suitable traditions of the West. Of these two, Theodore, at the age of sixty-six, was made Primate of England, while Adrian was placed at the head of the monastery of Canterbury. Passing through France, on their way to their post of duty, they delayed there a while at the command of the Pope, to accustom themselves to the manners of the North; and at length they made their appearance in England, with a collection of books, Greek classics, and Gregorian chants, and whatever other subjects of study may be considered to fill up the interval between those two. They then
proceeded to found schools of secular, as well as of sacred learning throughout the south of the island; and we are assured by St. Bede, that many of their scholars were as well acquainted with Latin and Greek, as with their native tongue. One of these schools in Wiltshire, as the legend goes, was, on that account, called 'Greeklado,' since corrupted into Cricklade, and, migrating afterwards to Oxford, was one of the first elements of its University. Meanwhile, one of those Saxon pilgrims, who had been so busy at Rome, having paid, it is said, as many as five visits to the Apostles, went up to the north of the country. Before the coming of the two foreign teachers, Benedict Biscop bad been Abbot of Canterbury; but, making way for Adrian, he took himself and his valuable library, the fruit of his travels, to Wearmouth (now Sunderland) in Northumberland, where he founded a church and monastery.
[The period of disasters and upbreak of litorary and religious institutions, not fully established, which followed the dismemberment of the Empire of Charlemange, and which culminated in the irruptions of the Normans, Saracens, and Huns, from the eighth to the tenth century, have been designated by Baronius as “iron,' 'leaden,' and 'dark;' and the institutions which did more than any and all others to preserve and transmit the traditions and treasures of the new and old civilization, have been assailed as the cause of this decline, sterility, and darkness. The author of Christian Schools observes :)
The tenth century, this very century of lead and iron ignorance,' witnessed the all but total extinction of the monastic institute in France; and in Germany, where it survived and flourished, schools and letters continued to flourish likewise. If any spots are discoverable west of the Rhine where sparks of learning were still kept alive, we shall find them in those remote retreats where the monks took shielter from the storm which was elsewhere laying waste all the fairest sanctuaries of the land. In short, the iron age was an age of darkness because it witnessed a return of those barbaric incursions which had already swept away the Roman civilization, and which were now attacking the Christian civilization which had sprung up in its place. The calamities that were already hanging over Europe before the death of Charlemange had not been unforeseen by his eagle glance.
So early as 810 the Norman keels had appeared off the shores of Friesland, and the powerful marine force which then guarded the coasts of the empire proved but a vain protection. He himself beheld them in the ofing from the windows of his palace in one of the arbonnese cities, and sorrowfully predicted the evils they would bring on his people after his death. And his words were only too soon fultilled. In the reign of Louis the Debonnaire, the Nor. mans sailed up the Loire and laid siege to Tours, reducing the whole country as far as the Cher to a desert. In the following reign they showed themselves yet bolder. Entering the Seino they proceeded up the river to Paris, which they sacked, after massacring all the inhabitants who had not saved themselves by flight. Treves, Cologne, Rouen, Nantes, Orleans, and Amiens, shared a similar fate. At Aix-la-Chapelle they turned the chapel of Charlemagne into a stable ; Angers was twice given to the flames; and in 885 took place that terrible siege of Paris, by an army of thirty thousand Normans, wlueli has been rendered famous by the historic poem on the subject written by the mouk Abbo, and which lasted for thirteen months. In the course of this siege the Normans filled up the ditch hy the bodies of their slaughtered prisoners.
The mode of warfare adopted by the invaders was extremely riovel. Their fleets entered the estuaries of rivers and ascended them almost to their source, predatory bands landing on either bank to ravage the surrounding country. From the great rivers they proceeded up the lesser streams, which led them into the heart of fertile districts. They would seize on some island suited for their purpose, where they fortified themselves and spent the winter. In this way whole provinces, even those most remote from the sea-coast, were devastated, and that so entirely that, says one writer, 'not a dog was left to bark