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Title: History of European Morals From Augustus to Charlemagne (Vol. 2 of - 2)
Author: Lecky, William Edward Hartpole, 1838-1903
Language: English
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                                History of

                             European Morals

                       From Augustus to Charlemagne


                   William Edward Hartpole Lecky, M.A.

                              Ninth Edition

                              In Two Volumes

                                 Vol. 2.


                         Longmans, Green, And Co.



Chapter IV. From Constantine To Charlemagne.
Chapter V. The Position Of Women.


Having in the last chapter given a brief, but I trust not altogether
indistinct, account of the causes that ensured the triumph of Christianity
in Rome, and of the character of the opposition it overcame, I proceed to
examine the nature of the moral ideal the new religion introduced, and
also the methods by which it attempted to realise it. And at the very
outset of this enquiry it is necessary to guard against a serious error.
It is common with many persons to establish a comparison between
Christianity and Paganism, by placing the teaching of the Christians in
juxtaposition with corresponding passages from the writings of Marcus
Aurelius or Seneca, and to regard the superiority of the Christian over
the philosophical teaching as a complete measure of the moral advance that
was effected by Christianity. But a moment’s reflection is sufficient to
display the injustice of such a conclusion. The ethics of Paganism were
part of a philosophy. The ethics of Christianity were part of a religion.
The first were the speculations of a few highly cultivated individuals and
neither had nor could have had any direct influence upon the masses of
mankind. The second were indissolubly connected with the worship, hopes,
and fears of a vast religious system, that acts at least as powerfully on
the most ignorant as on the most educated. The chief objects of Pagan
religions were to foretell the future, to explain the universe, to avert
calamity, to obtain the assistance of the gods. They contained no
instruments of moral teaching analogous to our institution of preaching,
or to the moral preparation for the reception of the sacrament, or to
confession, or to the reading of the Bible, or to religious education, or
to united prayer for spiritual benefits. To make men virtuous was no more
the function of the priest than of the physician. On the other hand, the
philosophic expositions of duty were wholly unconnected with the religious
ceremonies of the temple. To amalgamate these two spheres, to incorporate
moral culture with religion, and thus to enlist in behalf of the former
that desire to enter, by means of ceremonial observances, into direct
communication with Heaven, which experience has shown to be one of the
most universal and powerful passions of mankind, was among the most
important achievements of Christianity. Something had, no doubt, been
already attempted in this direction. Philosophy, in the hands of the
rhetoricians, had become more popular. The Pythagoreans enjoined religious
ceremonies for the purpose of purifying the mind, and expiatory rites were
common, especially in the Oriental religions. But it was the
distinguishing characteristic of Christianity that its moral influence was
not indirect, casual, remote, or spasmodic. Unlike all Pagan religions, it
made moral teaching a main function of its clergy, moral discipline the
leading object of its services, moral dispositions the necessary condition
of the due performance of its rites. By the pulpit, by its ceremonies, by
all the agencies of power it possessed, it laboured systematically and
perseveringly for the regeneration of mankind. Under its influence,
doctrines concerning the nature of God, the immortality of the soul, and
the duties of man, which the noblest intellects of antiquity could barely
grasp, have become the truisms of the village school, the proverbs of the
cottage and of the alley.

But neither the beauty of its sacred writings, nor the perfection of its
religious services, could have achieved this great result without the
introduction of new motives to virtue. These may be either interested or
disinterested, and in both spheres the influence of Christianity was very
great. In the first, it effected a complete revolution by its teaching
concerning the future world and concerning the nature of sin. The doctrine
of a future life was far too vague among the Pagans to exercise any
powerful general influence, and among the philosophers who clung to it
most ardently it was regarded solely in the light of a consolation.
Christianity made it a deterrent influence of the strongest kind. In
addition to the doctrines of eternal suffering, and the lost condition of
the human race, the notion of a minute personal retribution must be
regarded as profoundly original. That the commission of great crimes, or
the omission of great duties, may be expiated hereafter, was indeed an
idea familiar to the Pagans, though it exercised little influence over
their lives, and seldom or never produced, even in the case of the worst
criminals, those scenes of deathbed repentance which are so conspicuous in
Christian biographies. But the Christian notion of the enormity of little
sins, the belief that all the details of life will be scrutinised
hereafter, that weaknesses of character and petty infractions of duty, of
which the historian and the biographer take no note, which have no
perceptible influence upon society, and which scarcely elicit a comment
among mankind, may be made the grounds of eternal condemnation beyond the
grave, was altogether unknown to the ancients, and, at a time when it
possessed all the freshness of novelty, it was well fitted to transform
the character. The eye of the Pagan philosopher was ever fixed upon
virtue, the eye of the Christian teacher upon sin. They first sought to
amend men by extolling the beauty of holiness; the second by awakening the
sentiment of remorse. Each method had its excellences and its defects.
Philosophy was admirably fitted to dignify and ennoble, but altogether
impotent to regenerate, mankind. It did much to encourage virtue, but
little or nothing to restrain vice. A relish or taste for virtue was
formed and cultivated, which attracted many to its practice; but in this,
as in the case of all our other higher tastes, a nature that was once
thoroughly vitiated became altogether incapable of appreciating it, and
the transformation of such a nature, which was continually effected by
Christianity, was confessedly beyond the power of philosophy.(1)
Experience has abundantly shown that men who are wholly insensible to the
beauty and dignity of virtue, can be convulsed by the fear of judgment,
can be even awakened to such a genuine remorse for sin as to reverse the
current of their dispositions, detach them from the most inveterate
habits, and renew the whole tenor of their lives.

But the habit of dilating chiefly on the darker side of human nature,
while it has contributed much to the regenerating efficacy of Christian
teaching, has not been without its disadvantages. Habitually measuring
character by its aberrations, theologians, in their estimates of those
strong and passionate natures in which great virtues are balanced by great
failings, have usually fallen into a signal injustice, which is the more
inexcusable, because in their own writings the Psalms of David are a
conspicuous proof of what a noble, tender, and passionate nature could
survive, even in an adulterer and a murderer. Partly, too, through this
habit of operating through the sense of sin, and partly from a desire to
show that man is in an abnormal and dislocated condition, they have
continually propounded distorted and degrading views of human nature, have
represented it as altogether under the empire of evil, and have sometimes
risen to such a height of extravagance as to pronounce the very virtues of
the heathen to be of the nature of sin. But nothing can be more certain
than that that which is exceptional and distinctive in human nature is not
its vice, but its excellence. It is not the sensuality, cruelty,
selfishness, passion, or envy, which are all displayed in equal or greater
degrees in different departments of the animal world; it is that moral
nature which enables man apparently, alone of all created beings, to
classify his emotions, to oppose the current of his desires, and to aspire
after moral perfection. Nor is it less certain that in civilised, and
therefore developed man, the good greatly preponderates over the evil.
Benevolence is more common than cruelty; the sight of suffering more
readily produces pity than joy; gratitude, not ingratitude, is the normal
result of a conferred benefit. The sympathies of man naturally follow
heroism and goodness, and vice itself is usually but an exaggeration or
distortion of tendencies that are in their own nature perfectly innocent.

But these exaggerations of human depravity, which have attained their
extreme limits in some Protestant sects, do not appear in the Church of
the first three centuries. The sense of sin was not yet accompanied by a
denial of the goodness that exists in man. Christianity was regarded
rather as a redemption from error than from sin,(2) and it is a
significant fact that the epithet “well deserving,” which the Pagans
usually put upon their tombs, was also the favourite inscription in the
Christian catacombs. The Pelagian controversy, the teaching of St.
Augustine, and the progress of asceticism, gradually introduced the
doctrine of the utter depravity of man, which has proved in later times
the fertile source of degrading superstition.

In sustaining and defining the notion of sin, the early Church employed
the machinery of an elaborate legislation. Constant communion with the
Church was regarded as of the very highest importance. Participation in
the Sacrament was believed to be essential to eternal life. At a very
early period it was given to infants, and already in the time of St.
Cyprian we find the practice universal in the Church, and pronounced by at
least some of the Fathers to be ordinarily necessary to their
salvation.(3) Among the adults it was customary to receive the Sacrament
daily, in some churches four times a week.(4) Even in the days of
persecution the only part of their service the Christians consented to
omit was the half-secular agape.(5) The clergy had power to accord or
withhold access to the ceremonies, and the reverence with which they were
regarded was so great that they were able to dictate their own conditions
of communion.

From these circumstances there very naturally arose a vast system of moral
discipline. It was always acknowledged that men could only rightly
approach the sacred table in certain moral dispositions, and it was very
soon added that the commission of crimes should be expiated by a period of
penance, before access to the communion was granted. A multitude of
offences, of very various degrees of magnitude, such as prolonged
abstinence from religious services, prenuptial unchastity, prostitution,
adultery, the adoption of the profession of gladiator or actor, idolatry,
the betrayal of Christians to persecutors, and paiderastia or unnatural
love, were specified, to each of which a definite spiritual penalty was
annexed. The lowest penalty consisted of deprivation of the Eucharist for
a few weeks. More serious offenders were deprived of it for a year, or for
ten years, or until the hour of death, while in some cases the sentence
amounted to the greater excommunication, or the deprivation of the
Eucharist for ever. During the period of penance the penitent was
compelled to abstain from the marriage-bed, and from all other pleasures,
and to spend his time chiefly in religious exercises. Before he was
readmitted to communion, he was accustomed publicly, before the assembled
Christians, to appear clad in sackcloth, with ashes strewn upon his head,
with his hair shaven off, and thus to throw himself at the feet of the
minister, to confess aloud his sins, and to implore the favour of
absolution. The excommunicated man was not only cut off for ever from the
Christian rites; he was severed also from all intercourse with his former
friends. No Christian, on pain of being himself excommunicated, might eat
with him or speak with him. He must live hated and alone in this world,
and be prepared for damnation in the next.(6)

This system of legislation, resting upon religious terrorism, forms one of
the most important parts of early ecclesiastical history, and a leading
object of the Councils was to develop or modify it. Although confession
was not yet an habitual and universally obligatory rite, although it was
only exacted in cases of notorious sins, it is manifest that we have in
this system, not potentially or in germ, but in full developed activity,
an ecclesiastical despotism of the most crushing order. But although this
recognition of the right of the clergy to withhold from men what was
believed to be essential to their salvation, laid the foundation of the
worst superstitions of Rome, it had, on the other hand, a very valuable
moral effect. Every system of law is a system of education, for it fixes
in the minds of men certain conceptions of right and wrong, and of the
proportionate enormity of different crimes; and no legislation was
enforced with more solemnity, or appealed more directly to the religious
feelings, than the penitential discipline of the Church. More than,
perhaps, any other single agency, it confirmed that conviction of the
enormity of sin, and of the retribution that follows it, which was one of
the two great levers by which Christianity acted upon mankind.

But if Christianity was remarkable for its appeals to the selfish or
interested side of our nature, it was far more remarkable for the empire
it attained over disinterested enthusiasm. The Platonist exhorted men to
imitate God; the Stoic, to follow reason; the Christian, to the love of
Christ. The later Stoics had often united their notions of excellence in
an ideal sage, and Epictetus had even urged his disciples to set before
them some man of surpassing excellence, and to imagine him continually
near them; but the utmost the Stoic ideal could become was a model for
imitation, and the admiration it inspired could never deepen into
affection. It was reserved for Christianity to present to the world an
ideal character, which through all the changes of eighteen centuries has
inspired the hearts of men with an impassioned love; has shown itself
capable of acting on all ages, nations, temperaments, and conditions; has
been not only the highest pattern of virtue but the strongest incentive to
its practice; and has exercised so deep an influence that it may be truly
said that the simple record of three short years of active life has done
more to regenerate and to soften mankind than all the disquisitions of
philosophers, and all the exhortations of moralists. This has indeed been
the well-spring of whatever is best and purest in the Christian life. Amid
all the sins and failings, amid all the priestcraft and persecution and
fanaticism that have defaced the Church, it has preserved, in the
character and example of its Founder, an enduring principle of
regeneration. Perfect love knows no rights. It creates a boundless,
uncalculating self-abnegation that transforms the character, and is the
parent of every virtue. Side by side with the terrorism and the
superstitions of dogmatism, there have ever existed in Christianity those
who would echo the wish of St. Theresa, that she could blot out both
heaven and hell, to serve God for Himself alone; and the power of the love
of Christ has been displayed alike in the most heroic pages of Christian
martyrdom, in the most pathetic pages of Christian resignation, in the
tenderest pages of Christian charity. It was shown by the martyrs who sank
beneath the fangs of wild beasts, extending to the last moment their arms
in the form of the cross they loved;(7) who ordered their chains to be
buried with them as the insignia of their warfare;(8) who looked with joy
upon their ghastly wounds, because they had been received for Christ;(9)
who welcomed death as the bridegroom welcomes the bride, because it would
bring them near to Him. St. Felicitas was seized with the pangs of
childbirth as she lay in prison awaiting the hour of martyrdom, and as her
sufferings extorted from her a cry, one who stood by said, “If you now
suffer so much, what will it be when you are thrown to wild beasts?” “What
I now suffer,” she answered, “concerns myself alone; but then another will
suffer for me, for I will then suffer for Him.”(10) When St. Melania had
lost both her husband and her two sons, kneeling by the bed where the
remains of those she loved were laid, the childless widow exclaimed,
“Lord, I shall serve Thee more humbly and readily for being eased of the
weight Thou hast taken from me.”(11)

Christian virtue was described by St. Augustine as “the order of
love.”(12) Those who know how imperfectly the simple sense of duty can
with most men resist the energy of the passions; who have observed how
barren Mohammedanism has been in all the higher and more tender virtues,
because its noble morality and its pure theism have been united with no
living example; who, above all, have traced through the history of the
Christian Church the influence of the love of Christ, will be at no loss
to estimate the value of this purest and most distinctive source of
Christian enthusiasm. In one respect we can scarcely realise its effects
upon the early Church. The sense of the fixity of natural laws is now so
deeply implanted in the minds of men, that no truly educated person,
whatever may be his religious opinions, seriously believes that all the
more startling phenomena around him—storms, earthquakes, invasions, or
famines—are results of isolated acts of supernatural power, and are
intended to affect some human interest. But by the early Christians all
these things were directly traced to the Master they so dearly loved. The
result of this conviction was a state of feeling we can now barely
understand. A great poet, in lines which are among the noblest in English
literature, has spoken of one who had died as united to the all-pervading
soul of nature, the grandeur and the tenderness, the beauty and the
passion of his being blending with the kindred elements of the universe,
his voice heard in all its melodies, his spirit a presence to be felt and
known, a part of the one plastic energy that permeates and animates the
globe. Something of this kind, but of a far more vivid and real character,
was the belief of the early Christian world. The universe, to them, was
transfigured by love. All its phenomena, all its catastrophes, were read
in a new light, were endued with a new significance, acquired a religious
sanctity. Christianity offered a deeper consolation than any prospect of
endless life, or of millennial glories. It taught the weary, the
sorrowing, and the lonely, to look up to heaven and to say, “Thou, God,
carest for me.”

It is not surprising that a religious system which made it a main object
to inculcate moral excellence, and which by its doctrine of future
retribution, by its organisation, and by its capacity of producing a
disinterested enthusiasm, acquired an unexampled supremacy over the human
mind, should have raised its disciples to a very high condition of
sanctity. There can, indeed, be little doubt that, for nearly two hundred
years after its establishment in Europe, the Christian community exhibited
a moral purity which, if it has been equalled, has never for any long
period been surpassed. Completely separated from the Roman world that was
around them, abstaining alike from political life, from appeals to the
tribunals, and from military occupations; looking forward continually to
the immediate advent of their Master, and the destruction of the Empire in
which they dwelt, and animated by all the fervour of a young religion, the
Christians found within themselves a whole order of ideas and feelings
sufficiently powerful to guard them from the contamination of their age.
In their general bearing towards society, and in the nature and minuteness
of their scruples, they probably bore a greater resemblance to the Quakers
than to any other existing sect.(13) Some serious signs of moral decadence
might, indeed, be detected even before the Decian persecution; and it was
obvious that the triumph of the Church, by introducing numerous nominal
Christians into its pale, by exposing it to the temptations of wealth and
prosperity, and by forcing it into connection with secular politics, must
have damped its zeal and impaired its purity; yet few persons, I think,
who had contemplated Christianity as it existed in the first three
centuries would have imagined it possible that it should completely
supersede the Pagan worship around it; that its teachers should bend the
mightiest monarchs to their will, and stamp their influence on every page
of legislation, and direct the whole course of civilisation for a thousand
years; and yet that the period in which they were so supreme should have
been one of the most contemptible in history.

The leading features of that period may be shortly told. From the death of
Marcus Aurelius, about which time Christianity assumed an important
influence in the Roman world, the decadence of the Empire was rapid and
almost uninterrupted. The first Christian emperor transferred his capital
to a new city, uncontaminated by the traditions and the glories of
Paganism; and he there founded an Empire which derived all its ethics from
Christian sources, and which continued in existence for about eleven
hundred years. Of that Byzantine Empire the universal verdict of history
is that it constitutes, with scarcely an exception, the most thoroughly
base and despicable form that civilisation has yet assumed. Though very
cruel and very sensual, there have been times when cruelty assumed more
ruthless, and sensuality more extravagant, aspects; but there has been no
other enduring civilisation so absolutely destitute of all the forms and
elements of greatness, and none to which the epithet mean may be so
emphatically applied. The Byzantine Empire was pre-eminently the age of
treachery. Its vices were the vices of men who had ceased to be brave
without learning to be virtuous. Without patriotism, without the fruition
or desire of liberty, after the first paroxysms of religious agitation,
without genius or intellectual activity; slaves, and willing slaves, in
both their actions and their thoughts, immersed in sensuality and in the
most frivolous pleasures, the people only emerged from their listlessness
when some theological subtilty, or some rivalry in the chariot races,
stimulated them into frantic riots. They exhibited all the externals of
advanced civilisation. They possessed knowledge; they had continually
before them the noble literature of ancient Greece, instinct with the
loftiest heroism; but that literature, which afterwards did so much to
revivify Europe, could fire the degenerate Greeks with no spark or
semblance of nobility. The history of the Empire is a monotonous story of
the intrigues of priests, eunuchs, and women, of poisonings, of
conspiracies, of uniform ingratitude, of perpetual fratricides. After the
conversion of Constantine there was no prince in any section of the Roman
Empire altogether so depraved, or at least so shameless, as Nero or
Heliogabalus; but the Byzantine Empire can show none bearing the faintest
resemblance to Antonine or Marcus Aurelius, while the nearest
approximation to that character at Rome was furnished by the Emperor
Julian, who contemptuously abandoned the Christian faith. At last the
Mohammedan invasion terminated the long decrepitude of the Eastern Empire.
Constantinople sank beneath the Crescent, its inhabitants wrangling about
theological differences to the very moment of their fall.

The Asiatic Churches had already perished. The Christian faith, planted in
the dissolute cities of Asia Minor, had produced many fanatical ascetics
and a few illustrious theologians, but it had no renovating effect upon
the people at large. It introduced among them a principle of interminable
and implacable dissension, but it scarcely tempered in any appreciable
degree their luxury or their sensuality. The frenzy of pleasure continued
unabated, and in a great part of the Empire it seemed, indeed, only to
have attained its climax after the triumph of Christianity.

The condition of the Western Empire was somewhat different. Not quite a
century after the conversion of Constantine, the Imperial city was
captured by Alaric, and a long series of barbarian invasions at last
dissolved the whole framework of Roman society, while the barbarians
themselves, having adopted the Christian faith and submitted absolutely to
the Christian priests, the Church, which remained the guardian of all the
treasures of antiquity, was left with a virgin soil to realise her ideal
of human excellence. Nor did she fall short of what might have been
expected. She exercised for many centuries an almost absolute empire over
the thoughts and actions of mankind, and created a civilisation which was
permeated in every part with ecclesiastical influence. And the dark ages,
as the period of Catholic ascendancy is justly called, do undoubtedly
display many features of great and genuine excellence. In active
benevolence, in the spirit of reverence, in loyalty, in co-operative
habits, they far transcend the noblest ages of Pagan antiquity, while in
that humanity which shrinks from the infliction of suffering, they were
superior to Roman, and in their respect for chastity, to Greek
civilisation. On the other hand, they rank immeasurably below the best
Pagan civilisations in civic and patriotic virtues, in the love of
liberty, in the number and splendour of the great characters they
produced, in the dignity and beauty of the type of character they formed.
They had their full share of tumult, anarchy, injustice, and war, and they
should probably be placed, in all intellectual virtues, lower than any
other period in the history of mankind. A boundless intolerance of all
divergence of opinion was united with an equally boundless toleration of
all falsehood and deliberate fraud that could favour received opinions.
Credulity being taught as a virtue, and all conclusions dictated by
authority, a deadly torpor sank upon the human mind, which for many
centuries almost suspended its action, and was only effectually broken by
the scrutinising, innovating, and free-thinking habits that accompanied
the rise of the industrial republics in Italy. Few men who are not either
priests or monks would not have preferred to live in the best days of the
Athenian or of the Roman republics, in the age of Augustus or in the age
of the Antonines, rather than in any period that elapsed between the
triumph of Christianity and the fourteenth century.

It is, indeed, difficult to conceive any clearer proof than was furnished
by the history of the twelve hundred years after the conversion of
Constantine, that while theology has undoubtedly introduced into the world
certain elements and principles of good, scarcely if at all known to
antiquity, while its value as a tincture or modifying influence in society
can hardly be overrated, it is by no means for the advantage of mankind
that, in the form which the Greek and Catholic Churches present, it should
become a controlling arbiter of civilisation. It is often said that the
Roman world before Constantine was in a period of rapid decay; that the
traditions and vitality of half-suppressed Paganism account for many of
the aberrations of later times; that the influence of the Church was often
rather nominal and superficial than supreme; and that, in judging the
ignorance of the dark ages, we must make large allowance for the
dislocations of society by the barbarians. In all this there is much
truth; but when we remember that in the Byzantine Empire the renovating
power of theology was tried in a new capital free from Pagan traditions,
and for more than one thousand years unsubdued by barbarians, and that in
the West the Church, for at least seven hundred years after the shocks of
the invasions had subsided, exercised a control more absolute than any
other moral or intellectual agency has ever attained, it will appear, I
think, that the experiment was very sufficiently tried. It is easy to make
a catalogue of the glaring vices of antiquity, and to contrast them with
the pure morality of Christian writings; but, if we desire to form a just
estimate of the realised improvement, we must compare the classical and
ecclesiastical civilisations as wholes, and must observe in each case not
only the vices that were repressed, but also the degree and variety of
positive excellence attained. In the first two centuries of the Christian
Church the moral elevation was extremely high, and was continually
appealed to as a proof of the divinity of the creed. In the century before
the conversion of Constantine, a marked depression was already manifest.
The two centuries after Constantine are uniformly represented by the
Fathers as a period of general and scandalous vice. The ecclesiastical
civilisation that followed, though not without its distinctive merits,
assuredly supplies no justification of the common boast about the
regeneration of society by the Church. That the civilisation of the last
three centuries has risen in most respects to a higher level than any that
had preceded it, I at least firmly believe; but theological ethics, though
very important, form but one of the many and complex elements of its
excellence. Mechanical inventions, the habits of industrial life, the
discoveries of physical science, the improvements of government, the
expansion of literature, the traditions of Pagan antiquity, have all a
distinguished place, while, the more fully its history is investigated,
the more clearly two capital truths are disclosed. The first is that the
influence of theology having for centuries numbed and paralysed the whole
intellect of Christian Europe, the revival, which forms the starting-point
of our modern civilisation, was mainly due to the fact that two spheres of
intellect still remained uncontrolled by the sceptre of Catholicism. The
Pagan literature of antiquity, and the Mohammedan schools of science, were
the chief agencies in resuscitating the dormant energies of Christendom.
The second fact, which I have elsewhere endeavoured to establish in
detail, is that during more than three centuries the decadence of
theological influence has been one of the most invariable signs and
measures of our progress. In medicine, physical science, commercial
interests, politics, and even ethics, the reformer has been confronted
with theological affirmations which barred his way, which were all
defended as of vital importance, and were all in turn compelled to yield
before the secularising influence of civilisation.

We have here, then, a problem of deep interest and importance, which I
propose to investigate in the present chapter. We have to enquire why it
was that a religion which was not more remarkable for the beauty of its
moral teaching than for the power with which it acted upon mankind, and
which during the last few centuries has been the source of countless
blessings to the world, should have proved itself for so long a period,
and under such a variety of conditions, altogether unable to regenerate
Europe. The question is not one of languid or imperfect action, but of
conflicting agencies. In the vast and complex organism of Catholicity
there were some parts which acted with admirable force in improving and
elevating mankind. There were others which had a directly opposite effect.

The first aspect in which Christianity presented itself to the world was
as a declaration of the fraternity of men in Christ. Considered as
immortal beings, destined for the extremes of happiness or of misery, and
united to one another by a special community of redemption, the first and
most manifest duty of a Christian man was to look upon his fellow-men as
sacred beings, and from this notion grew up the eminently Christian idea
of the sanctity of all human life. I have already endeavoured to show—and
the fact is of such capital importance in meeting the common objections to
the reality of natural moral perceptions, that I venture, at the risk of
tediousness, to recur to it—that nature does not tell man that it is wrong
to slay without provocation his fellow-men. Not to dwell upon those early
stages of barbarism in which the higher faculties of human nature are
still undeveloped, and almost in the condition of embryo, it is an
historical fact beyond all dispute, that refined, and even moral societies
have existed, in which the slaughter of men of some particular class or
nation has been regarded with no more compunction than the slaughter of
animals in the chase. The early Greeks, in their dealings with the
barbarians; the Romans, in their dealings with gladiators, and in some
periods of their history, with slaves; the Spaniards, in their dealings
with Indians; nearly all colonists removed from European supervision, in
their dealings with an inferior race; an immense proportion of the nations
of antiquity, in their dealings with new-born infants, display this
complete and absolute callousness, and we may discover traces of it even
in our own islands and within the last three hundred years.(14) And
difficult as it may be to realise it in our day, when the atrocity of all
wanton slaughter of men has become an essential part of our moral
feelings, it is nevertheless an incontestable fact that this callousness
has been continually shown by good men, by men who in all other respects
would be regarded in any age as conspicuous for their humanity. In the
days of the Tudors, the best Englishmen delighted in what we should now
deem the most barbarous sports, and it is absolutely certain that in
antiquity men of genuine humanity—tender relations, loving friends,
charitable neighbours—men in whose eyes the murder of a fellow-citizen
would have appeared as atrocious as in our own, attended, instituted, and
applauded gladiatorial games, or counselled without a scruple the
exposition of infants. But it is, as I conceive, a complete confusion of
thought to imagine, as is so commonly done, that any accumulation of facts
of this nature throws the smallest doubt upon the reality of innate moral
perceptions. All that the intuitive moralist asserts is that we know by
nature that there is a distinction between humanity and cruelty; that the
first belongs to the higher or better part of our nature, and that it is
our duty to cultivate it. The standard of the age, which is itself
determined by the general condition of society, constitutes the natural
line of duty; for he who falls below it contributes to depress it. Now,
there is no fact more absolutely certain than that nations and ages which
have differed most widely as to the standard have been perfectly unanimous
as to the excellence of humanity. Plato, who recommended infanticide;
Cato, who sold his aged slaves; Pliny, who applauded the games of the
arena; the old generals, who made their prisoners slaves or gladiators, as
well as the modern generals, who refuse to impose upon them any degrading
labour; the old legislators, who filled their codes with sentences of
torture, mutilation, and hideous forms of death, as well as the modern
legislators, who are continually seeking to abridge the punishment of the
most guilty; the old disciplinarian, who governed by force, as well as the
modern instructor, who governs by sympathy; the Spanish girl, whose dark
eye glows with rapture as she watches the frantic bull, while the fire
streams from the explosive dart that quivers in its neck; as well as the
reformers we sometimes meet, who are scandalised by all field sports, or
by the sacrifice of animal life for food; or who will eat only the larger
animals, in order to reduce the sacrifice of life to a minimum; or who are
continually inventing new methods of quickening animal death—all these
persons, widely as they differ in their acts and in their judgments of
what things should be called “brutal,” and of what things should be called
“fantastic,” agree in believing humanity to be better than cruelty, and in
attaching a definite condemnation to acts that fall below the standard of
their country and their time. Now, it was one of the most important
services of Christianity, that besides quickening greatly our benevolent
affections it definitely and dogmatically asserted the sinfulness of all
destruction of human life as a matter of amusement, or of simple
convenience, and thereby formed a new standard higher than any which then
existed in the world.

The influence of Christianity in this respect began with the very earliest
stage of human life. The practice of abortion was one to which few persons
in antiquity attached any deep feeling of condemnation. I have noticed in
a former chapter that the physiological theory that the fœtus did not
become a living creature till the hour of birth, had some influence on the
judgments passed upon this practice; and even where this theory was not
generally held, it is easy to account for the prevalence of the act. The
death of an unborn child does not appeal very powerfully to the feeling of
compassion, and men who had not yet attained any strong sense of the
sanctity of human life, who believed that they might regulate their
conduct on these matters by utilitarian views, according to the general
interest of the community, might very readily conclude that the prevention
of birth was in many cases an act of mercy. In Greece, Aristotle not only
countenanced the practice, but even desired that it should be enforced by
law, when population had exceeded certain assigned limits.(15) No law in
Greece, or in the Roman Republic, or during the greater part of the
Empire, condemned it;(16) and if, as has been thought, some measure was
adopted condemnatory of it before the close of the Pagan Empire, that
measure was altogether inoperative. A long chain of writers, both Pagan
and Christian, represent the practice as avowed and almost universal. They
describe it as resulting, not simply from licentiousness or from poverty,
but even from so slight a motive as vanity, which made mothers shrink from
the disfigurement of childbirth. They speak of a mother who had never
destroyed her unborn offspring as deserving of signal praise, and they
assure us that the frequency of the crime was such that it gave rise to a
regular profession. At the same time, while Ovid, Seneca, Favorinus the
Stoic of Arles, Plutarch, and Juvenal, all speak of abortion as general
and notorious, they all speak of it as unquestionably criminal.(17) It was
probably regarded by the average Romans of the later days of Paganism much
as Englishmen in the last century regarded convivial excesses, as
certainly wrong, but so venial as scarcely to deserve censure.

The language of the Christians from the very beginning was widely
different. With unwavering consistency and with the strongest emphasis,
they denounced the practice, not simply as inhuman, but as definitely
murder. In the penitential discipline of the Church, abortion was placed
in the same category as infanticide, and the stern sentence to which the
guilty person was subject imprinted on the minds of Christians, more
deeply than any mere exhortations, a sense of the enormity of the crime.
By the Council of Ancyra the guilty mother was excluded from the Sacrament
till the very hour of death; and though this penalty was soon reduced,
first to ten and afterwards to seven years’ penitence,(18) the offence
still ranked amongst the gravest in the legislation of the Church. In one
very remarkable way the reforms of Christianity in this sphere were
powerfully sustained by a doctrine which is perhaps the most revolting in
the whole theology of the Fathers. To the Pagans, even when condemning
abortion and infanticide, these crimes appeared comparatively trivial,
because the victims seemed very insignificant and their sufferings very
slight. The death of an adult man who is struck down in the midst of his
enterprise and his hopes, who is united by ties of love or friendship to
multitudes around him, and whose departure causes a perturbation and a
pang to the society in which he has moved, excites feelings very different
from any produced by the painless extinction of a new-born infant, which,
having scarcely touched the earth, has known none of its cares and very
little of its love. But to the theologian this infant life possessed a
fearful significance. The moment, they taught, the fœtus in the womb
acquired animation, it became an immortal being, destined, even if it died
unborn, to be raised again on the last day, responsible for the sin of
Adam, and doomed, if it perished without baptism, to be excluded for ever
from heaven and to be cast, as the Greeks taught, into a painless and
joyless limbo, or, as the Latins taught, into the abyss of hell. It is
probably, in a considerable degree, to this doctrine that we owe in the
first instance the healthy sense of the value and sanctity of infant life
which so broadly distinguishes Christian from Pagan societies, and which
is now so thoroughly incorporated with our moral feelings as to be
independent of all doctrinal changes. That which appealed so powerfully to
the compassion of the early and mediæval Christians, in the fate of the
murdered infants, was not that they died, but that they commonly died
unbaptised; and the criminality of abortion was immeasurably aggravated
when it was believed to involve, not only the extinction of a transient
life, but also the damnation of an immortal soul.(19) In the “Lives of the
Saints” there is a curious legend of a man who, being desirous of
ascertaining the condition of a child before birth, slew a pregnant woman,
committing thereby a double murder, that of the mother and of the child in
her womb. Stung by remorse, the murderer fled to the desert, and passed
the remainder of his life in constant penance and prayer. At last, after
many years, the voice of God told him that he had been forgiven the murder
of the woman. But yet his end was a clouded one. He never could obtain an
assurance that he had been forgiven the death of the child.(20)

If we pass to the next stage of human life, that of the new-born infant,
we find ourselves in presence of that practice of infanticide which was
one of the deepest stains of the ancient civilisation. The natural history
of this crime is somewhat peculiar.(21) Among savages, whose feelings of
compassion are very faint, and whose warlike and nomadic habits are
eminently unfavourable to infant life, it is, as might be expected, the
usual custom for the parent to decide whether he desires to preserve the
child he has called into existence, and if he does not, to expose or slay
it. In nations that have passed out of the stage of barbarism, but are
still rude and simple in their habits, the practice of infanticide is
usually rare; but, unlike other crimes of violence, it is not naturally
diminished by the progress of civilisation, for, after the period of
savage life is passed, its prevalence is influenced much more by the
sensuality than by the barbarity of a people.(22) We may trace too, in
many countries and ages, the notion that children, as the fruit,
representatives, and dearest possessions of their parents, are acceptable
sacrifices to the gods.(23) Infanticide, as is well known, was almost
universally admitted among the Greeks, being sanctioned, and in some cases
enjoined, upon what we should now call “the greatest happiness principle,”
by the ideal legislations of Plato and Aristotle, and by the actual
legislations of Lycurgus and Solon. Regarding the community as a whole,
they clearly saw that it is in the highest degree for the interest of
society that the increase of population should be very jealously
restricted, and that the State should be as far as possible free from
helpless and unproductive members; and they therefore concluded that the
painless destruction of infant life, and especially of those infants who
were so deformed or diseased that their lives, if prolonged, would
probably have been a burden to themselves, was on the whole a benefit. The
very sensual tone of Greek life rendered the modern notion of prolonged
continence wholly alien to their thoughts; and the extremely low social
and intellectual condition of Greek mothers, who exercised no appreciable
influence over the habits of thought of the nation should also, I think,
be taken into account, for it has always been observed that mothers are
much more distinguished than fathers for their affection for infants that
have not yet manifested the first dawning of reason. Even in Greece,
however, infanticide and exposition were not universally permitted. In
Thebes these offences are said to have been punished by death.(24)

The power of life and death, which in Rome was originally conceded to the
father over his children, would appear to involve an unlimited permission
of infanticide; but a very old law, popularly ascribed to Romulus, in this
respect restricted the parental rights, enjoining the father to bring up
all his male children, and at least his eldest female child, forbidding
him to destroy any well-formed child till it had completed its third year,
when the affections of the parent might be supposed to be developed, but
permitting the exposition of deformed or maimed children with the consent
of their five nearest relations.(25) The Roman policy was always to
encourage, while the Greek policy was rather to restrain, population, and
infanticide never appears to have been common in Rome till the corrupt and
sensual days of the Empire. The legislators then absolutely condemned it,
and it was indirectly discouraged by laws which accorded special
privileges to the fathers of many children, exempted poor parents from
most of the burden of taxation, and in some degree provided for the
security of exposed infants. Public opinion probably differed little from
that of our own day as to the fact, though it differed from it much as to
the degree, of its criminality. It was, as will be remembered, one of the
charges most frequently brought against the Christians, and it was one
that never failed to arouse popular indignation. Pagan and Christian
authorities are, however, united in speaking of infanticide as a crying
vice of the Empire, and Tertullian observed that no laws were more easily
or more constantly evaded than those which condemned it.(26) A broad
distinction was popularly drawn between infanticide and exposition. The
latter, though probably condemned, was certainly not punished by law;(27)
it was practised on a gigantic scale and with absolute impunity, noticed
by writers with the most frigid indifference, and, at least in the case of
destitute parents, considered a very venial offence.(28) Often, no doubt,
the exposed children perished, but more frequently the very extent of the
practice saved the lives of the victims. They were brought systematically
to a column near the Velabrum, and there taken by speculators, who
educated them as slaves, or very frequently as prostitutes.(29)

On the whole, what was demanded on this subject was not any clearer moral
teaching, but rather a stronger enforcement of the condemnation long since
passed upon infanticide, and an increased protection for exposed infants.
By the penitential sentences, by the dogmatic considerations I have
enumerated, and by the earnest exhortations both of her preachers and
writers, the Church laboured to deepen the sense of the enormity of the
act, and especially to convince men that the guilt of abandoning their
children to the precarious and doubtful mercy of the stranger was scarcely
less than that of simple infanticide.(30) In the civil law her influence
was also displayed, though not, I think, very advantageously. By the
counsel, it is said, of Lactantius, Constantine, in the very year of his
conversion, in order to diminish infanticide by destitute parents, issued
a decree, applicable in the first instance to Italy, but extended in A.D.
322 to Africa, in which he commanded that those children whom their
parents were unable to support should be clothed and fed at the expense of
the State,(31) a policy which had already been pursued on a large scale
under the Antonines. In A.D. 331, a law intended to multiply the chances
of the exposed child being taken charge of by some charitable or
interested person, provided that the foundling should remain the absolute
property of its saviour, whether he adopted it as a son or employed it as
a slave, and that the parent should not have power at any future time to
reclaim it.(32) By another law, which had been issued in A.D. 329, it had
been provided that children who had been, not exposed, but sold, might be
reclaimed upon payment by the father.(33)

The last two laws cannot be regarded with unmingled satisfaction. The law
regulating the condition of exposed children, though undoubtedly enacted
with the most benevolent intentions, was in some degree a retrograde step,
the Pagan laws having provided that the father might always withdraw the
child he had exposed, from servitude, by payment of the expenses incurred
in supporting it,(34) while Trajan had even decided that the exposed child
could not become under any circumstance a slave.(35) The law of
Constantine, on the other hand, doomed it to an irrevocable servitude; and
this law continued in force till A.D. 529, when Justinian, reverting to
the principle of Trajan, decreed that not only the father lost all
legitimate authority over his child by exposing it, but also that the
person who had saved it could not by that act deprive it of its natural
liberty. But this law applied only to the Eastern Empire; and in part at
least of the West(36) the servitude of exposed infants continued for
centuries, and appears only to have terminated with the general extinction
of slavery in Europe. The law of Constantine concerning the sale of
children was also a step, though perhaps a necessary step, of
retrogression. A series of emperors, among whom Caracalla was conspicuous,
had denounced and endeavoured to abolish, as “shameful,” the traffic in
free children, and Diocletian had expressly and absolutely condemned
it.(37) The extreme misery, however, resulting from the civil wars under
Constantine, had rendered it necessary to authorise the old practice of
selling children in the case of absolute destitution, which, though it had
been condemned, had probably never altogether ceased. Theodosius the Great
attempted to take a step in advance, by decreeing that the children thus
sold might regain their freedom without the repayment of the
purchase-money, a temporary service being a sufficient compensation for
the purchase;(38) but this measure was repealed by Valentinian III. The
sale of children in case of great necessity, though denounced by the
Fathers,(39) continued long after the time of Theodosius, nor does any
Christian emperor appear to have enforced the humane enactment of

Together with these measures for the protection of exposed children, there
were laws directly condemnatory of infanticide. This branch of the subject
is obscured by much ambiguity and controversy; but it appears most
probable that the Pagan legislation reckoned infanticide as a form of
homicide, though, being deemed less atrocious than other forms of
homicide, it was punished, not by death, but by banishment.(40) A law of
Constantine, intended principally, and perhaps exclusively, for Africa,
where the sacrifices of children to Saturn were very common, assimilated
to parricide the murder of a child by its father;(41) and finally,
Valentinian, in A.D. 374, made all infanticide a capital offence,(42) and
especially enjoined the punishment of exposition.(43) A law of the Spanish
Visigoths, in the seventh century, punished infanticide and abortion with
death or blindness.(44) In the Capitularies of Charlemagne the former
crime was punished as homicide.(45)

It is not possible to ascertain, with any degree of accuracy, what
diminution of infanticide resulted from these measures. It may, however,
be safely asserted that the publicity of the trade in exposed children
became impossible under the influence of Christianity, and that the sense
of the serious nature of the crime was very considerably increased. The
extreme destitution, which was one of its most fertile causes, was met by
Christian charity. Many exposed children appear to have been educated by
individual Christians.(46) Brephotrophia and Orphanotrophia are among the
earliest recorded charitable institutions of the Church; but it is not
certain that exposed children were admitted into them, and we find no
trace for several centuries of Christian foundling hospitals. This form of
charity grew up gradually in the early part of the middle ages. It is said
that one existed at Trêves in the sixth, and at Angers in the seventh
century, and it is certain that one existed at Milan in the eighth
century.(47) The Council of Rouen, in the ninth century, invited women who
had secretly borne children to place them at the door of the church, and
undertook to provide for them if they were not reclaimed. It is probable
that they were brought up among the numerous slaves or serfs attached to
the ecclesiastical properties; for a decree of the Council of Arles, in
the fifth century, and afterwards a law of Charlemagne, had echoed the
enactment of Constantine, declaring that exposed children should be the
slaves of their protectors. As slavery declined, the memorials of many
sins, like many other of the discordant elements of mediæval society, were
doubtless absorbed and consecrated in the monastic societies. The strong
sense always evinced in the Church of the enormity of unchastity probably
rendered the ecclesiastics more cautious in this than in other forms of
charity, for institutions especially intended for deserted children
advanced but slowly. Even Rome, the mother of many charities, could boast
of none till the beginning of the thirteenth century.(48) About the middle
of the twelfth century we find societies at Milan charged, among other
functions, with seeking for exposed children. Towards the close of the
same century, a monk of Montpellier, whose very name is doubtful, but who
is commonly spoken of as Brother Guy, founded a confraternity called by
the name of the Holy Ghost, and devoted to the protection and education of
children; and this society in the two following centuries ramified over a
great part of Europe.(49) Though principally and at first, perhaps,
exclusively intended for the care of the orphans of legitimate marriages,
though in the fifteenth century the Hospital of the Holy Ghost at Paris
even refused to admit deserted children, yet the care of foundlings soon
passed in a great measure into its hands. At last, after many complaints
of the frequency of infanticide, St. Vincent de Paul arose, and gave so
great an impulse to that branch of charity that he may be regarded as its
second author, and his influence was felt not only in private charities,
but in legislative enactments. Into the effects of these measures—the
encouragement of the vice of incontinence by institutions that were
designed to suppress the crime of infanticide, and the serious moral
controversies suggested by this apparent conflict between the interests of
humanity and of chastity—it is not necessary for me to enter. We are at
present concerned with the principles that actuated Christian charity, not
with the wisdom of its organisations. Whatever mistakes may have been
made, the entire movement I have traced displays an anxiety not only for
the life, but also for the moral well-being, of the castaways of society,
such as the most humane nations of antiquity had never reached. This
minute and scrupulous care for human life and human virtue in the humblest
forms, in the slave, the gladiator, the savage, or the infant, was indeed
wholly foreign to the genius of Paganism. It was produced by the Christian
doctrine of the inestimable value of each immortal soul. It is the
distinguishing and transcendent characteristic of every society into which
the spirit of Christianity has passed.

The influence of Christianity in the protection of infant life, though
very real, may be, and I think often has been, exaggerated. It would be
difficult to overrate its influence in the sphere we have next to examine.
There is scarcely any other single reform so important in the moral
history of mankind as the suppression of the gladiatorial shows, and this
feat must be almost exclusively ascribed to the Christian Church. When we
remember how extremely few of the best and greatest men of the Roman world
had absolutely condemned the games of the amphitheatre, it is impossible
to regard, without the deepest admiration, the unwavering and
uncompromising consistency of the patristic denunciations. And even
comparing the Fathers with the most enlightened Pagan moralists in their
treatment of this matter, we shall usually find one most significant
difference. The Pagan, in the spirit of philosophy, denounced these games
as inhuman, or demoralising, or degrading, or brutal. The Christian, in
the spirit of the Church, represented them as a definite sin, the sin of
murder, for which the spectators as well as the actors were directly
responsible before Heaven. In the very latest days of the Pagan Empire,
magnificent amphitheatres were still arising,(50) and Constantine himself
had condemned numerous barbarian captives to combat with wild beasts.(51)
It was in A.D. 325, immediately after the convocation of the Council of
Nice, that the first Christian emperor issued the first edict in the Roman
Empire condemnatory of the gladiatorial games.(52) It was issued in
Berytus in Syria, and is believed by some to have been only applicable to
the province of Phœnicia;(53) but even in this province it was suffered to
be inoperative, for, only four years later, Libanius speaks of the shows
as habitually celebrated at Antioch.(54) In the Western Empire their
continuance was fully recognised, though a few infinitesimal restrictions
were imposed upon them. Constantine, in A.D. 357, prohibited the lanistæ,
or purveyors of gladiators, from bribing servants of the palace to enrol
themselves as combatants.(55) Valentinian, in A.D. 365, forbade any
Christian criminal,(56) and in A.D. 367, any one connected with the
Palatine,(57) being condemned to fight. Honorius prohibited any slave who
had been a gladiator passing into the service of a senator; but the real
object of this last measure was, I imagine, not so much to stigmatise the
gladiator, as to guard against the danger of an armed nobility.(58) A much
more important fact is that the spectacles were never introduced into the
new capital of Constantine. At Rome, though they became less numerous,
they do not appear to have been suspended until their final suppression.
The passion for gladiators was the worst, while religious liberty was
probably the best, feature of the old Pagan society; and it is a
melancholy fact that of these two it was the nobler part that in the
Christian Empire was first destroyed. Theodosius the Great, who suppressed
all diversity of worship throughout the Empire, and who showed himself on
many occasions the docile slave of the clergy, won the applause of the
Pagan Symmachus by compelling his barbarian prisoners to fight as
gladiators.(59) Besides this occasion, we have special knowledge of
gladiatorial games that were celebrated in A.D. 385, in A.D. 391, and
afterwards in the reign of Honorius, and the practice of condemning
criminals to the arena still continued.(60)

But although the suppression of the gladiatorial shows was not effected in
the metropolis of the Empire till nearly ninety years after Christianity
had been the State religion, the distinction between the teaching of the
Christians and Pagans on the subject remained unimpaired. To the last, the
most estimable of the Pagans appear to have regarded them with favour or
indifference. Julian, it is true, with a rare magnanimity, refused
persistently, in his conflict with Christianity, to avail himself, as he
might most easily have done, of the popular passion for games which the
Church condemned; but Libanius has noticed them with some approbation,(61)
and Symmachus, as we have already seen, both instituted and applauded
them. But the Christians steadily refused to admit any professional
gladiator to baptism till he had pledged himself to abandon his calling,
and every Christian who attended the games was excluded from communion.
The preachers and writers of the Church denounced them with the most
unqualified vehemence, and the poet Prudentius made a direct and earnest
appeal to the emperor to suppress them. In the East, where they had never
taken very firm root, they appear to have ceased about the time of
Theodosius, and a passion for chariot races, which rose to the most
extravagant height at Constantinople and in many other cities, took their
place. In the West, the last gladiatorial show was celebrated at Rome,
under Honorius, in A.D. 404, in honour of the triumph of Stilicho, when an
Asiatic monk, named Telemachus, animated by the noblest heroism of
philanthropy, rushed into the amphitheatre, and attempted to part the
combatants. He perished beneath a shower of stones flung by the angry
spectators; but his death led to the final abolition of the games.(62)
Combats of men with wild beasts continued, however, much later, and were
especially popular in the East. The difficulty of procuring wild animals,
amid the general poverty, contributed, with other causes, to their
decline. They sank, at last, into games of cruelty to animals, but of
little danger to men, and were finally condemned, at the end of the
seventh century, by the Council of Trullo.(63) In Italy, the custom of
sham fights, which continued through the whole of the middle ages, and
which Petrarch declares were in his days sometimes attended with
considerable bloodshed, may perhaps be traced in some degree to the
traditions of the amphitheatre.(64)

The extinction of the gladiatorial spectacles is, of all the results of
early Christian influence, that upon which the historian can look with the
deepest and most unmingled satisfaction. Horrible as was the bloodshed
they directly caused, these games were perhaps still more pernicious on
account of the callousness of feeling they diffused through all classes,
the fatal obstacle they presented to any general elevation of the standard
of humanity. Yet the attitude of the Pagans decisively proves that no
progress of philosophy or social civilisation was likely, for a very long
period, to have extirpated them; and it can hardly be doubted that, had
they been flourishing unchallenged as in the days of Trajan, when the rude
warriors of the North obtained the empire of Italy, they would have been
eagerly adopted by the conquerors, would have taken deep root in mediæval
life, and have indefinitely retarded the progress of humanity.
Christianity alone was powerful enough to tear this evil plant from the
Roman soil. The Christian custom of legacies for the relief of the
indigent and suffering replaced the Pagan custom of bequeathing sums of
money for games in honour of the dead; and the month of December, which
was looked forward to with eagerness through all the Roman world, as the
special season of the gladiatorial spectacles, was consecrated in the
Church by another festival commemorative of the advent of Christ.

The notion of the sanctity of human life, which led the early Christians
to combat and at last to overthrow the gladiatorial games, was carried by
some of them to an extent altogether irreconcilable with national
independence, and with the prevailing penal system. Many of them taught
that no Christian might lawfully take away life, either as a soldier, or
by bringing a capital charge, or by acting as an executioner. The first of
these questions it will be convenient to reserve for a later period of
this chapter, when I propose to examine the relations of Christianity to
the military spirit, and a very few words will be sufficient to dispose of
the others. The notion that there is something impure and defiling, even
in a just execution, is one which may be traced through many ages; and
executioners, as the ministers of the law, have been from very ancient
times regarded as unholy. In both Greece and Rome the law compelled them
to live outside the walls, and at Rhodes they were never permitted even to
enter the city.(65) Notions of this kind were very strongly held in the
early Church; and a decree of the penitential discipline which was
enforced, even against emperors and generals, forbade any one whose hands
had been imbrued in blood, even when that blood was shed in a righteous
war, approaching the altar without a preparatory period of penance. The
opinions of the Christians of the first three centuries were usually
formed without any regard to the necessities of civil or political life;
but when the Church obtained an ascendancy, it was found necessary
speedily to modify them; and although Lactantius, in the fourth century,
maintained the unlawfulness of all bloodshed,(66) as strongly as Origen in
the third, and Tertullian in the second, the common doctrine was simply
that no priest or bishop must take any part in a capital charge. From this
exceptional position of the clergy they speedily acquired the position of
official intercessors for criminals, ambassadors of mercy, when, from some
act of sedition or other cause, their city or neighbourhood was menaced
with a bloody invasion. The right of sanctuary, which was before possessed
by the Imperial statues and by the Pagan temples, was accorded to the
churches. During the holy seasons of Lent and Easter, no criminal trials
could be held, and no criminal could be tortured or executed.(67)
Miracles, it was said, were sometimes wrought to attest the innocence of
accused or condemned men, but were never wrought to consign criminals to
execution by the civil power.(68)

All this had an importance much beyond its immediate effect in tempering
the administration of the law. It contributed largely to associate in the
popular imagination the ideas of sanctity and of mercy, and to increase
the reverence for human life. It had also another remarkable effect, to
which I have adverted in another work. The belief that it was wrong for a
priest to bring any charge that could give rise to a capital sentence
caused the leading clergy to shrink from persecuting heresy to death, at a
time when in all other respects the theory of persecution had been fully
matured. When it was readily admitted that heresy was in the highest
degree criminal, and ought to be made penal, when laws banishing, fining,
or imprisoning heretics filled the statute-book, and when every vestige of
religious liberty was suppressed at the instigation of the clergy, these
still shrank from the last and inevitable step, not because it was an
atrocious violation of the rights of conscience, but because it was
contrary to the ecclesiastical discipline for a bishop, under any
circumstances, to countenance bloodshed. It was on this ground that St.
Augustine, while eagerly advocating the persecution of the Donatists, more
than once expressed a wish that they should not be punished with death,
and that St. Ambrose, and St. Martin of Tours, who were both energetic
persecutors, expressed their abhorrence of the Spanish bishops, who had
caused some Priscillianists to be executed. I have elsewhere noticed the
odious hypocrisy of the later inquisitors, who relegated the execution of
the sentence to the civil power, with a prayer that the heretics should be
punished “as mildly as possible and without the effusion of blood,”(69)
which came at last to be interpreted, by the death of fire; but I may here
add, that this hideous mockery is not unique in the history of religion.
Plutarch suggests that one of the reasons for burying unchaste vestals
alive was that they were so sacred that it was unlawful to lay violent
hands upon them,(70) and among the Donatists the Circumcelliones were for
a time accustomed to abstain, in obedience to the evangelical command,
from the use of the sword, while they beat to death those who differed
from their theological opinions with massive clubs, to which they gave the
very significant name of Israelites.(71)

The time came when the Christian priests shed blood enough. The extreme
scrupulosity, however, which they at first displayed, is not only
exceedingly curious when contrasted with their later history; it was also,
by the association of ideas which it promoted, very favourable to
humanity. It is remarkable, however, that while some of the early Fathers
were the undoubted precursors of Beccaria, their teaching, unlike that of
the philosophers in the eighteenth century, had little or no appreciable
influence in mitigating the severity of the penal code. Indeed, the more
carefully the Christian legislation of the Empire is examined, and the
more fully it is compared with what had been done under the influence of
Stoicism by the Pagan legislators, the more evident, I think, it will
appear that the golden age of Roman law was not Christian, but Pagan.
Great works of codification were accomplished under the younger
Theodosius, and under Justinian; but it was in the reign of Pagan
emperors, and especially of Hadrian and Alexander Severus, that nearly all
the most important measures were taken, redressing injustices, elevating
oppressed classes, and making the doctrine of the natural equality and
fraternity of mankind the basis of legal enactments. Receiving the
heritage of these laws, the Christians, no doubt, added something; but a
careful examination will show that it was surprisingly little. In no
respect is the greatness of the Stoic philosophers more conspicuous than
in the contrast between the gigantic steps of legal reform made in a few
years under their influence, and the almost insignificant steps taken when
Christianity had obtained an ascendancy in the Empire, not to speak of the
long period of decrepitude that followed. In the way of mitigating the
severity of punishments, Constantine made, it is true, three important
laws prohibiting the custom of branding criminals upon the face, the
condemnation of criminals as gladiators, and the continuance of the once
degrading but now sacred punishment of crucifixion, which had been very
commonly employed; but these measures were more than counterbalanced by
the extreme severity with which the Christian emperors punished
infanticide, adultery, seduction, rape, and several other crimes, and the
number of capital offences became considerably greater than before.(72)
The most prominent evidence, indeed, of ecclesiastical influence in the
Theodosian code is that which must be most lamented. It is the immense
mass of legislation, intended on the one hand to elevate the clergy into a
separate and sacred caste, and on the other to persecute in every form,
and with every degree of violence, all who deviated from the fine line of
Catholic orthodoxy.(73)

The last consequence of the Christian estimate of human life was a very
emphatic condemnation of suicide. We have already seen that the arguments
of the Pagan moralists, who were opposed to this act, were of four kinds.
The religious argument of Pythagoras and Plato was, that we are all
soldiers of God, placed in an appointed post of duty, which it is a
rebellion against our Maker to desert. The civic argument of Aristotle and
the Greek legislators was that we owe our services to the State, and that
therefore voluntarily to abandon life is to abandon our duty to our
country. The argument which Plutarch and other writers derived from human
dignity was that true courage is shown in the manful endurance of
suffering, while suicide, being an act of flight, is an act of cowardice,
and therefore unworthy of man. The mystical or Quietist argument of the
Neoplatonists was that all perturbation is a pollution of the soul; that
the act of suicide is accompanied by, and springs from, perturbation, and
that therefore the perpetrator ends his days by a crime. Of these four
arguments, the last cannot, I think, be said to have had any place among
the Christian dissuasives from suicide, and the influence of the second
was almost imperceptible. The notion of patriotism being a moral duty was
habitually discouraged in the early Church; and it was impossible to urge
the civic argument against suicide without at the same time condemning the
hermit life, which in the third century became the ideal of the Church.
The duty a man owes to his family, which a modern moralist would deem the
most obvious and, perhaps, the most conclusive proof of the general
criminality of suicide, and which may be said to have replaced the civic
argument, was scarcely noticed either by the Pagans or the early
Christians. The first were accustomed to lay so much stress upon the
authority, that they scarcely recognised the duties, of the father; and
the latter were too anxious to attach all their ethics to the interests of
another world, to do much to supply the omission. The Christian estimate
of the duty of humility, and of the degradation of man, rendered appeals
to human dignity somewhat uncongenial to the patristic writers; yet these
writers frequently dilated upon the true courage of patience, in language
to which their own heroism under persecution gave a noble emphasis. To the
example of Cato they opposed those of Regulus and Job, the courage that
endures suffering to the courage that confronts death. The Platonic
doctrine, that we are servants of the Deity, placed upon earth to perform
our allotted task in His sight, with His assistance, and by His will, they
continually enforced and most deeply realised; and this doctrine was in
itself, in most cases, a sufficient preventive; for, as a great writer has
said: “Though there are many crimes of a deeper dye than suicide, there is
no other by which men appear so formally to renounce the protection of

But, in addition to this general teaching, the Christian theologians
introduced into the sphere we are considering new elements both of
terrorism and of persuasion, which have had a decisive influence upon the
judgments of mankind. They carried their doctrine of the sanctity of human
life to such a point that they maintained dogmatically that a man who
destroys his own life has committed a crime similar both in kind and
magnitude to that of an ordinary murderer,(75) and they at the same time
gave a new character to death by their doctrines concerning its penal
nature and concerning the future destinies of the soul. On the other hand,
the high position assigned to resignation in the moral scale, the hope of
future happiness, which casts a ray of light upon the darkest calamities
of life, the deeper and more subtle consolations arising from the feeling
of trust and from the outpouring of prayer, and, above all, the Christian
doctrine of the remedial and providential character of suffering, have
proved sufficient protection against despair. The Christian doctrine, that
pain is a good, had in this respect an influence that was never attained
by the Pagan doctrine, that pain is not an evil.

There were, however, two forms of suicide which were regarded in the early
Church with some tolerance or hesitation. During the frenzy excited by
persecution, and under the influence of the belief that martyrdom effaced
in a moment the sins of a life, and introduced the sufferer at once into
celestial joys, it was not uncommon for men, in a transport of enthusiasm,
to rush before the Pagan judges, imploring or provoking martyrdom; and
some of the ecclesiastical writers have spoken of these men with
considerable admiration,(76) though the general tone of the patristic
writings and the councils of the Church condemned them. A more serious
difficulty arose about Christian women who committed suicide to guard
their chastity when menaced by the infamous sentences of their
persecutors, or more frequently by the lust of emperors, or by barbarian
invaders. St. Pelagia, a girl of only fifteen, who has been canonised by
the Church, and who was warmly eulogised by St. Ambrose and St.
Chrysostom, having been captured by the soldiery, obtained permission to
retire to her room for the purpose of robing herself, mounted to the roof
of the house, and, flinging herself down, perished by the fall.(77) A
Christian lady of Antioch, named Domnina, had two daughters renowned alike
for their beauty and their piety. Being captured during the Diocletian
persecution, and fearing the loss of their chastity, they agreed by one
bold act to free themselves from the danger, and, casting themselves into
a river by the way, mother and daughters sank unsullied in the wave.(78)
The tyrant Maxentius was fascinated by the beauty of a Christian lady, the
wife of the Prefect of Rome. Having sought in vain to elude his addresses,
having been dragged from her house by the minions of the tyrant, the
faithful wife obtained permission, before yielding to her master’s
embraces, to retire for a moment into her chamber, and she there, with
true Roman courage, stabbed herself to the heart.(79) Some Protestant
controversialists have been scandalised,(80) and some Catholic
controversialists perplexed, by the undisguised admiration with which the
early ecclesiastical writers narrate these histories. To those who have
not suffered theological opinions to destroy all their natural sense of
nobility it will need no defence.

This was the only form of avowed suicide which was in any degree permitted
in the early Church. St. Ambrose rather timidly, and St. Jerome more
strongly, commended it; but at the time when the capture of Rome by the
soldiers of Alaric made the question one of pressing interest, St.
Augustine devoted an elaborate examination to the subject, and while
expressing his pitying admiration for the virgin suicides, decidedly
condemned their act.(81) His opinion of the absolute sinfulness of suicide
has since been generally adopted by the Catholic theologians, who pretend
that Pelagia and Domnina acted under the impulse of a special
revelation.(82) At the same time, by a glaring though very natural
inconsistency, no characters were more enthusiastically extolled than
those anchorites who habitually deprived their bodies of the sustenance
that was absolutely necessary to health, and thus manifestly abridged
their lives. St. Jerome has preserved a curious illustration of the
feeling with which these slow suicides were regarded by the outer world,
in his account of the life and death of a young nun named Blesilla. This
lady had been guilty of what, according to the religious notions of the
fourth century, was, at least, the frivolity of marrying, but was left a
widow seven months afterwards, having thus “lost at once the crown of
virginity and the pleasure of marriage.”(83) An attack of illness inspired
her with strong religious feelings. At the age of twenty she retired to a
convent. She attained such a height of devotion that, according to the
very characteristic eulogy of her biographer, “she was more sorry for the
loss of her virginity than for the decease of her husband;”(84) and a long
succession of atrocious penances preceded, if they did not produce, her
death.(85) The conviction that she had been killed by fasting, and the
spectacle of the uncontrollable grief of her mother, filled the populace
with indignation, and the funeral was disturbed by tumultuous cries that
the “accursed race of monks should be banished from the city, stoned, or
drowned.”(86) In the Church itself, however, we find very few traces of
any condemnation of the custom of undermining the constitution by
austerities,(87) and if we may believe but a small part of what is related
of the habits of the early and mediæval monks, great numbers of them must
have thus shortened their days. There is a touching story told by St.
Bonaventura, of St. Francis Assisi, who was one of these victims to
asceticism. As the dying saint sank back exhausted with spitting blood, he
avowed, as he looked upon his emaciated body, that “he had sinned against
his brother, the ass;” and then, the feeling of his mind taking, as was
usual with him, the form of an hallucination, he imagined that, when at
prayer during the night, he heard a voice saying: “Francis, there is no
sinner in the world whom, if he be converted, God will not pardon; but he
who kills himself by hard penances will find no mercy in eternity.” He
attributed the voice to the devil.(88)

Direct and deliberate suicide, which occupies so prominent a place in the
moral history of antiquity, almost absolutely disappeared within the
Church; but beyond its pale the Circumcelliones, in the fourth century,
constituted themselves the apostles of death, and not only carried to the
highest point the custom of provoking martyrdom, by challenging and
insulting the assemblies of the Pagans, but even killed themselves in
great numbers, imagining, it would seem, that this was a form of
martyrdom, and would secure for them eternal salvation. Assembling in
hundreds, St. Augustine says even in thousands, they leaped with paroxysms
of frantic joy from the brows of overhanging cliffs, till the rocks below
were reddened with their blood.(89) At a much later period, we find among
the Albigenses a practice, known by the name of Endura, of accelerating
death, in the case of dangerous illness, by fasting, and sometimes by
bleeding.(90) The wretched Jews, stung to madness by the persecution of
the Catholics, furnish the most numerous examples of suicide during the
middle ages. A multitude perished by their own hands, to avoid torture, in
France, in 1095; five hundred, it is said, on a single occasion at York;
five hundred in 1320, when besieged by the Shepherds. The old Pagan
legislation on this subject remained unaltered in the Theodosian and
Justinian codes; but a Council of Arles, in the fifth century, having
pronounced suicide to be the effect of diabolical inspiration, a Council
of Bragues, in the following century, ordained that no religious rites
should be celebrated at the tomb of the culprit, and that no masses should
be said for his soul; and these provisions, which were repeated by later
Councils, were gradually introduced into the laws of the barbarians and of
Charlemagne. St. Lewis originated the custom of confiscating the property
of the dead man, and the corpse was soon subjected to gross and various
outrages. In some countries it could only be removed from the house
through a perforation specially made for the occasion in the wall; it was
dragged upon a hurdle through the streets, hung up with the head
downwards, and at last thrown into the public sewer, or burnt, or buried
in the sand below high-water mark, or transfixed by a stake on the public

These singularly hideous and at the same time grotesque customs, and also
the extreme injustice of reducing to beggary the unhappy relations of the
dead, had the very natural effect of exciting, in the eighteenth century,
a strong spirit of reaction. Suicide is indeed one of those acts which may
be condemned by moralists as a sin, but which, in modern times at least,
cannot be regarded as within the legitimate sphere of law; for a society
which accords to its members perfect liberty of emigration, cannot
reasonably pronounce the simple renunciation of life to be an offence
against itself. When, however, Beccaria and his followers went further,
and maintained that the mediæval laws on the subject were as impotent as
they were revolting, they fell, I think, into serious error. The outrages
lavished upon the corpse of the suicide, though in the first instance an
expression of the popular horror of his act, contributed, by the
associations they formed, to strengthen the feeling that produced them,
and they were also peculiarly fitted to scare the diseased, excited, and
oversensitive imaginations that are most prone to suicide. In the rare
occasions when the act was deliberately contemplated, the knowledge that
religious, legislative, and social influences would combine to aggravate
to the utmost the agony of the surviving relatives, must have had great
weight. The activity of the Legislature shows the continuance of the act;
but we have every reason to believe that within the pale of Catholicism it
was for many centuries extremely rare. It is said to have been somewhat
prevalent in Spain in the last and most corrupt period of the Gothic
kingdom,(92) and many instances occurred during a great pestilence which
raged in England in the seventh century,(93) and also during the Black
Death of the fourteenth century.(94) When the wives of priests were
separated in vast numbers from their husbands by Hildebrand, and driven
into the world blasted, heart-broken, and hopeless, not a few of them
shortened their agony by suicide.(95) Among women it was in general
especially rare; and a learned historian of suicide has even asserted that
a Spanish lady, who, being separated from her husband, and finding herself
unable to resist the energy of her passions, killed herself rather than
yield to temptation, is the only instance of female suicide during several
centuries.(96) In the romances of chivalry, however, this mode of death is
frequently pourtrayed without horror,(97) and its criminality was
discussed at considerable length by Abelard and St. Thomas Aquinas, while
Dante has devoted some fine lines to painting the condition of suicides in
hell, where they are also frequently represented in the bas-reliefs of
cathedrals. A melancholy leading to desperation, and known to theologians
under the name of “acedia,” was not uncommon in monasteries, and most of
the recorded instances of mediæval suicides in Catholicism were by monks.
The frequent suicides of monks, sometimes to escape the world, sometimes
through despair at their inability to quell the propensities of the body,
sometimes through insanity produced by their mode of life, and by their
dread of surrounding demons, were noticed in the early Church,(98) and a
few examples have been gleaned, from the mediæval chronicles,(99) of
suicides produced by the bitterness of hopeless love, or by the
derangement that follows extreme austerity. These are, however, but few;
and it is probable that the monasteries, by providing a refuge for the
disappointed and the broken-hearted, have prevented more suicides than
they have caused, and that, during the whole period of Catholic
ascendancy, the act was more rare than before or after. The influence of
Catholicism was seconded by Mohammedanism, which, on this as on many other
points, borrowed its teaching from the Christian Church, and even
intensified it; for suicide, which is never expressly condemned in the
Bible, is more than once forbidden in the Koran, and the Christian duty of
resignation was exaggerated by the Moslem into a complete fatalism. Under
the empire of Catholicism and Mohammedanism, suicide, during many
centuries, almost absolutely ceased in all the civilised, active, and
progressive part of mankind. When we recollect how warmly it was
applauded, or how faintly it was condemned, in the civilisation of Greece
and Rome; when we remember, too, that there was scarcely a barbarous
tribe, from Denmark to Spain, who did not habitually practise it,(100) we
may realise the complete revolution which was effected in this sphere by
the influence of Christianity.

A few words may be added on the later phases of this mournful history. The
Reformation does not seem to have had any immediate effect in multiplying
suicide, for Protestants and Catholics held with equal intensity the
religious sentiments which are most fitted to prevent it, and in none of
the persecutions was impatience of life largely displayed. The history at
this period passes chiefly into the new world, where the unhappy Indians,
reduced to slavery, and treated with atrocious cruelty by their
conquerors, killed themselves in great numbers; till the Spaniards, it is
said, discovered an ingenious method of deterring them, by declaring that
the master also would commit suicide, and would pursue his victims into
the world of spirits.(101) In Europe the act was very common among the
witches, who underwent all the sufferings with none of the consolations of
martyrdom. Without enthusiasm, without hope, without even the
consciousness of innocence, decrepit in body, and distracted in mind,
compelled in this world to endure tortures, before which the most
impassioned heroism might quail, and doomed, as they often believed, to
eternal damnation in the next, they not unfrequently killed themselves in
the agony of their despair. A French judge named Remy tells us that he
knew no less than fifteen witches commit suicide in a single year.(102) In
these cases, fear and madness combined in urging the victims to the deed.
Epidemics of purely insane suicide have also not unfrequently occurred.
Both the women of Marseilles and the women of Lyons were afflicted with an
epidemic not unlike that which, in antiquity, had been noticed among the
girls of Miletus.(103) In that strange mania which raged in the Neapolitan
districts from the end of the fifteenth to the end of the seventeenth
century, and which was attributed to the bite of the tarantula, the
patients thronged in multitudes towards the sea, and often, as the blue
waters opened to their view, they chanted a wild hymn of welcome, and
rushed with passion into the waves.(104) But together with these cases,
which belong rather to the history of medicine than to that of morals, we
find many facts exhibiting a startling increase of deliberate suicide, and
a no less startling modification of the sentiments with which it was
regarded. The revival of classical learning, and the growing custom of
regarding Greek and Roman heroes as ideals, necessarily brought the
subject into prominence. The Catholic casuists, and at a later period
philosophers of the school of Grotius and Puffendorf, began to distinguish
certain cases of legitimate suicide, such as that committed to avoid
dishonour or probable sin, or that of the soldier who fires a mine,
knowing he must inevitably perish by the explosion, or that of a condemned
person who saves himself from torture by anticipating an inevitable fate,
or that of a man who offers himself to death for his friend.(105) The
effect of the Pagan examples may frequently be detected in the last words
or writings of the suicides. Philip Strozzi, when accused of the
assassination of Alexander I. of Tuscany, killed himself through fear that
torture might extort from him revelations injurious to his friends, and he
left behind him a paper in which, among other things, he commended his
soul to God, with the prayer that, if no higher boon could be granted, he
might at least be permitted to have his place with Cato of Utica and the
other great suicides of antiquity.(106) In England, the act appears in the
seventeenth century and in the first half of the eighteenth to have been
more common than upon the Continent,(107) and several partial or even
unqualified apologies for it were written. Sir Thomas More, in his
“Utopia,” represented the priests and magistrates of his ideal republic
permitting or even enjoining those who were afflicted with incurable
disease to kill themselves, but depriving of burial those who had done so
without authorisation.(108) Dr. Donne, the learned and pious Dean of St.
Paul’s, had in his youth written an extremely curious, subtle, and
learned, but at the same time feeble and involved, work in defence of
suicide, which on his deathbed he commanded his son neither to publish nor
destroy, and which his son published in 1644. Two or three English
suicides left behind them elaborate defences, as did also a Swede named
Robeck, who drowned himself in 1735, and whose treatise, published in the
following year, acquired considerable celebrity.(109) But the most
influential writings about suicide were those of the French philosophers
and revolutionists. Montaigne, without discussing its abstract lawfulness,
recounts, with much admiration, many of the instances in antiquity.(110)
Montesquieu, in a youthful work, defended it with ardent enthusiasm.(111)
Rousseau devoted to the subject two letters of a burning and passionate
eloquence,(112) in the first of which he presented with matchless power
the arguments in its favour, while in the second he denounced those
arguments as sophistical, dilated upon the impiety of abandoning the post
of duty, and upon the cowardice of despair, and with a deep knowledge of
the human heart revealed the selfishness that lies at the root of most
suicide, exhorting all who felt impelled to it to set about some work for
the good of others, in which they would assuredly find relief. Voltaire,
in the best-known couplet he ever wrote, defends the act on occasions of
extreme necessity.(113) Among the atheistical party it was warmly
eulogised, and Holbach and Deslandes were prominent as its defenders. The
rapid decomposition of religious opinions weakened the popular sense of
its enormity, and at the same time the humanity of the age, and also a
clearer sense of the true limits of legislation, produced a reaction
against the horrible laws on the subject. Grotius had defended them.
Montesquieu at first denounced them with unqualified energy, but in his
later years in some degree modified his opinions. Beccaria, who was, more
than any other writer, the representative of the opinions of the French
school on such matters, condemned them partly as unjust to the innocent
survivors, partly as incapable of deterring any man who was resolved upon
the act. Even in 1749, in the full blaze of the philosophic movement, we
find a suicide named Portier dragged through the streets of Paris with his
face to the ground, hung from a gallows by his feet, and then thrown into
the sewers;(114) and the laws were not abrogated till the Revolution,
which, having founded so many other forms of freedom, accorded the liberty
of death. Amid the dramatic vicissitudes, and the fierce enthusiasm of
that period of convulsions, suicides immediately multiplied. “The world,”
it was said, had been “empty since the Romans.”(115) For a brief period,
and in this one country, the action of Christianity appeared suspended.
Men seemed to be transported again into the age of Paganism, and the
suicides, though more theatrical, were perpetrated with no less
deliberation, and eulogised with no less enthusiasm, than among the
Stoics. But the tide of revolution passed away, and with some
qualifications the old opinions resumed their authority. The laws against
suicide were, indeed, for the most part abolished. In France and several
other lands there exists no legislation on the subject. In other countries
the law simply enjoins burial without religious ceremonies. In England,
the burial in a highway and the mutilation by a stake were abolished under
George IV.; but the monstrous injustice of confiscating to the Crown the
entire property of the deliberate suicide still disgraces the
statute-book, though the force of public opinion and the charitable
perjury of juries render it inoperative.

The common sentiment of Christendom has, however, ratified the judgment
which the Christian teachers pronounced upon the act, though it has
somewhat modified the severity of the old censure, and has abandoned some
of the old arguments. It was reserved for Madame de Staël, who, in a
youthful work upon the Passions, had commended suicide, to reconstruct
this department of ethics, which had been somewhat disturbed by the
Revolution, and she did so in a little treatise which is a model of calm,
candid, and philosophic piety. Frankly abandoning the old theological
notions that the deed is of the nature of murder, that it is the worst of
crimes, and that it is always, or even generally, the offspring of
cowardice; abandoning, too, all attempts to scare men by religious
terrorism, she proceeded, not so much to meet in detail the isolated
arguments of its defenders, as to sketch the ideal of a truly virtuous
man, and to show how such a character would secure men against all
temptation to suicide. In pages of the most tender beauty, she traced the
influence of suffering in softening, purifying, and deepening the
character, and showed how a frame of habitual and submissive resignation
was not only the highest duty, but also the source of the purest
consolation, and at the same time the appointed condition of moral
amelioration. Having examined in detail the Biblical aspect of the
question, she proceeded to show how the true measure of the dignity of man
is his unselfishness. She contrasted the martyr with the suicide—the death
which springs from devotion to duty with the death that springs from
rebellion against circumstances. The suicide of Cato, which had been
absurdly denounced by a crowd of ecclesiastics as an act of cowardice, and
as absurdly alleged by many suicides as a justification for flying from
pain or poverty, she represented as an act of martyrdom—a death like that
of Curtius, accepted nobly for the benefit of Rome. The eye of the good
man should be for ever fixed upon the interest of others. For them he
should be prepared to relinquish life with all its blessings. For them he
should be prepared to tolerate life, even when it seemed to him a curse.

Sentiments of this kind have, through the influence of Christianity,
thoroughly pervaded European society, and suicide, in modern times, is
almost always found to have sprung either from absolute insanity; from
diseases which, though not amounting to insanity, are yet sufficient to
discolour our judgments; or from that last excess of sorrow, when
resignation and hope are both extinct. Considering it in this light, I
know few things more fitted to qualify the optimism we so often hear than
the fact that statistics show it to be rapidly increasing, and to be
peculiarly characteristic of those nations which rank most high in
intellectual development and in general civilisation.(116) In one or two
countries, strong religious feeling has counteracted the tendency; but the
comparison of town and country, of different countries, of different
provinces of the same country, and of different periods in history, proves
conclusively its reality. Many reasons may be alleged to explain it.
Mental occupations are peculiarly fitted to produce insanity,(117) and the
blaze of publicity, which in modern time encircles an act of suicide, to
draw weak minds to its imitation. If we put the condition of absolutely
savage life, out of our calculation, it is probable that a highly
developed civilisation, while it raises the average of well-being, is
accompanied by more extreme misery and acute sufferings than the simpler
stages that had preceded it. Nomadic habits, the vast agglomeration of men
in cities, the pressure of a fierce competition, and the sudden
fluctuations to which manufactures are peculiarly liable, are the
conditions of great prosperity, but also the causes of the most profound
misery. Civilisation makes many of what once were superfluities,
necessaries of life, so that their loss inflicts a pang long after their
possession had ceased to be a pleasure. It also, by softening the
character, renders it peculiarly sensitive to pain, and it brings with it
a long train of antipathies, passions, and diseased imaginations, which
rarely or never cross the thoughts or torture the nerves of the simple
peasant. The advance of religious scepticism, and the relaxation of
religious discipline, have weakened and sometimes destroyed the horror of
suicide; and the habits of self-assertion, the eager and restless
ambitions which political liberty, intellectual activity, and
manufacturing enterprise, all in their different ways conspire to foster,
while they are the very principles and conditions of the progress of our
age, render the virtue of content in all its forms extremely rare, and are
peculiarly unpropitious to the formation of that spirit of humble and
submissive resignation which alone can mitigate the agony of hopeless


From examining the effect of Christianity in promoting a sense of the
sanctity of human life, we may now pass to an adjoining field, and examine
its influence in promoting a fraternal and philanthropic sentiment among
mankind. And first of all we may notice its effects upon slavery.

The reader will remember the general position this institution occupied in
the eyes of the Stoic moralists, and under the legislation which they had
in a great measure inspired. The legitimacy of slavery was fully
recognised; but Seneca and other moralists had asserted, in the very
strongest terms, the natural equality of mankind, the superficial
character of the differences between the slave and his master, and the
duty of the most scrupulous humanity to the former. Instances of a very
warm sympathy between master and slave were of frequent occurrence; but
they may unfortunately be paralleled by not a few examples of the most
atrocious cruelty. To guard against such cruelty, a long series of
enactments, based avowedly upon the Stoical principle of the essential
equality of mankind, had been made under Hadrian, the Antonines, and
Alexander Severus. Not to recapitulate at length what has been mentioned
in a former chapter, it is sufficient to remind the reader that the right
of life and death had been definitely withdrawn from the master, and that
the murder of a slave was stigmatised and punished by the law. It had,
however, been laid down, by the great lawyer Paul, that homicide implies
an intention to kill, and that therefore the master was not guilty of that
crime if his slave died under chastisement which was not administered with
this intention. But the licence of punishment which this decision might
give was checked by laws which forbade excessive cruelty to slaves,
provided that, when it was proved, they should be sold to another master,
suppressed the private prisons in which they had been immured, and
appointed special officers to receive their complaints.

In the field of legislation, for about two hundred years after the
conversion of Constantine, the progress was extremely slight. The
Christian emperors, in A.D. 319 and 326, adverted in two elaborate laws to
the subject of the murder of slaves,(118) but, beyond reiterating in very
emphatic terms the previous enactments, it is not easy to see in what way
they improved the condition of the class.(119) They provided that any
master who applied to his slave certain atrocious tortures, that are
enumerated, with the object of killing him, should be deemed a homicide,
but if the slave died under moderate punishment, or under any punishment
not intended to kill him, the master should be blameless; no charge
whatever, it was emphatically said, should be brought against him. It has
been supposed, though I think without evidence, by commentators(120) that
this law accorded immunity to the master only when the slave perished
under the application of “appropriate” or servile punishments—that is to
say, scourging, irons, or imprisonment; but the use of torture not
intended to kill was in no degree restricted, nor is there anything in the
law to make it appear either that the master was liable to punishment, if
contrary to his intention his slave succumbed beneath torture, or that
Constantine proposed any penalty for excessive cruelty which did not
result in death. It is, perhaps, not out of place to observe, that this
law was in remarkable harmony with the well-known article of the Jewish
code, which provided that if a slave, wounded to death by his master,
linger for a day or two, the master should not be punished, for the slave
was his money.(121)

The two features that were most revolting in the slave system, as it
passed from the Pagan to the Christian emperors, were the absolute want of
legal recognition of slave marriage, and the licence of torturing still
conceded to the master. The Christian emperors before Justinian took no
serious steps to remedy either of these evils, and the measures that were
taken against adultery still continued inapplicable to slave unions,
because “the vileness of their condition makes them unworthy of the
observation of the law.”(122) The abolition of the punishment of
crucifixion had, however, a special value to the slave class, and a very
merciful law of Constantine forbade the separation of the families of the
slaves.(123) Another law, which in its effects was perhaps still more
important, imparted a sacred character to manumission, ordaining that the
ceremony should be celebrated in the Church,(124) and permitting it on
Sundays. Some measures were also taken, providing for the freedom of the
Christian slaves of Jewish masters, and, in two or three cases, freedom
was offered as a bribe to slaves, to induce them to inform against
criminals. Intermarriage between the free and slave classes was still
strictly forbidden, and if a free woman had improper intercourse with her
slave, Constantine ordered that the woman should be executed and the slave
burnt alive.(125) By the Pagan law, the woman had been simply reduced to
slavery. The laws against fugitive slaves were also rendered more

This legislation may on the whole be looked upon as a progress, but it
certainly does not deserve the enthusiasm which ecclesiastical writers
have sometimes bestowed upon it. For about two hundred years, there was an
almost absolute pause in the legislation on this subject. Some slight
restrictions were, however, imposed upon the use of torture in trials;
some slight additional facilities of manumission were given, and some very
atrocious enactments made to prevent slaves accusing their masters.
According to that of Gratian, any slave who accused his master of any
offence, except high treason, should immediately be burnt alive, without
any investigation of the justice of the charge.(127)

Under Justinian, however, new and very important measures were taken. In
no other sphere were the laws of this emperor so indisputably an advance
upon those of his predecessors. His measures may be comprised under three
heads. In the first place, all the restrictions upon enfranchisement which
had accumulated under the Pagan legislation were abolished; the legislator
proclaimed in emphatic language, and by the provisions of many laws, his
desire to encourage manumission, and free scope was thus given to the
action of the Church. In the second place, the freedmen, considered as an
intermediate class between the slave and the citizen, were virtually
abolished, all or nearly all the privileges accorded to the citizen being
granted to the emancipated slave. This was the most important contribution
of the Christian emperors to that great amalgamation of nations and
classes which had been advancing since the days of Augustus; and one of
its effects was, that any person, even of senatorial rank, might marry a
slave when he had first emancipated her. In the third place, a slave was
permitted to marry a free woman with the authorisation of his master, and
children born in slavery became the legal heirs of their emancipated
father. The rape of a slave woman was also in this reign punished, like
that of a free woman, by death.(128)

But, important as were these measures, it is not in the field of
legislation that we must chiefly look for the influence of Christianity
upon slavery. This influence was indeed very great, but it is necessary
carefully to define its nature. The prohibition of all slavery, which was
one of the peculiarities of the Jewish Essenes, and the illegitimacy of
hereditary slavery, which was one of the speculations of the Stoic Dion
Chrysostom, had no place in the ecclesiastical teaching. Slavery was
distinctly and formally recognised by Christianity,(129) and no religion
ever laboured more to encourage a habit of docility and passive obedience.
Much was indeed said by the Fathers about the natural equality of mankind,
about the duty of regarding slaves as brothers or companions, and about
the heinousness of cruelty to them; but all this had been said with at
least equal force, though it had not been disseminated over an equally
wide area, by Seneca and Epictetus, and the principle of the original
freedom of all men was repeatedly averred by the Pagan lawyers. The
services of Christianity in this sphere were of three kinds. It supplied a
new order of relations, in which the distinction of classes was unknown.
It imparted a moral dignity to the servile classes, and it gave an
unexampled impetus to the movement of enfranchisement.

The first of these services was effected by the Church ceremonies and the
penitential discipline. In these spheres, from which the Christian mind
derived its earliest, its deepest, and its most enduring impressions, the
difference between the master and his slave was unknown. They received the
sacred elements together, they sat side by side at the agape, they mingled
in the public prayers. In the penal system of the Church, the distinction
between wrongs done to a freeman, and wrongs done to a slave, which lay at
the very root of the whole civil legislation, was repudiated. At a time
when, by the civil law, a master, whose slave died as a consequence of
excessive scourging, was absolutely unpunished, the Council of Illiberis
excluded that master for ever from the communion.(130) The chastity of
female slaves, for the protection of which the civil law made but little
provision, was sedulously guarded by the legislation of the Church. Slave
birth, moreover, was no disqualification for entering into the priesthood;
and an emancipated slave, regarded as the dispenser of spiritual life and
death, often saw the greatest and the most wealthy kneeling humbly at his
feet imploring his absolution or his benediction.(131)

In the next place, Christianity imparted a moral dignity to the servile
class. It did this not only by associating poverty and labour with that
monastic life which was so profoundly revered, but also by introducing new
modifications into the ideal type of morals. There is no fact more
prominent in the Roman writers than the profound contempt with which they
regarded slaves, not so much on account of their position, as on account
of the character which that position had formed. A servile character was a
synonym for a vicious one. Cicero had declared that nothing great or noble
could exist in a slave, and the plays of Plautus exhibit the same estimate
in every scene. There were, it is true, some exceptions. Epictetus had not
only been, but had been recognised as one of the noblest characters of
Rome. The fidelity of slaves to their masters had been frequently
extolled, and Seneca in this, as in other respects, had been the defender
of the oppressed. Still there can be no doubt that this contempt was
general, and also that in the Pagan world it was to a great extent just.
Every age has its own moral ideal, to which all virtuous men aspire. Every
sphere of life has also a tendency to produce a distinctive type being
specially favourable to some particular class of virtues, and specially
unfavourable to others. The popular estimate, and even the real moral
condition, of each class depends chiefly upon the degree in which the type
of character its position naturally develops, coincides with the ideal
type of the age. Now, if we remember that magnanimity, self-reliance,
dignity, independence, and, in a word, elevation of character, constituted
the Roman ideal of perfection, it will appear evident that this was
preeminently the type of freemen, and that the condition of slavery was in
the very highest degree unfavourable to its development. Christianity for
the first time gave the servile virtues the foremost place in the moral
type. Humility, obedience, gentleness, patience, resignation, are all
cardinal or rudimentary virtues in the Christian character; they were all
neglected or underrated by the Pagans; they can all expand and flourish in
a servile position.

The influence of Christianity upon slavery, by inclining the moral type to
the servile classes, though less obvious and less discussed than some
others, is, I believe, in the very highest degree important. There is,
probably, scarcely any other single circumstance that exercises so
profound an influence upon the social and political relations of a
religion, as the class type with which it can most readily assimilate; or,
in other words, the group or variety of virtues to which it gives the
foremost place. The virtues that are most suited to the servile position
were in general so little honoured by antiquity that they were not even
cultivated in their appropriate sphere. The aspirations of good men were
in a different direction. The virtue of the Stoic, which rose triumphantly
under adversity, nearly always withered under degradation. For the first
time, under the influence of Christianity, a great moral movement passed
through the servile class. The multitude of slaves who embraced the new
faith was one of the reproaches of the Pagans; and the names of Blandina,
Potamiæna, Eutyches, Victorinus, and Nereus, show how fully they shared in
the sufferings and in the glory of martyrdom (132). The first and grandest
edifice of Byzantine architecture in Italy—the noble church of St. Vital,
at Ravenna—was dedicated by Justinian to the memory of a martyred slave.

While Christianity thus broke down the contempt with which the master had
regarded his slaves, and planted among the latter a principle of moral
regeneration which expanded in no other sphere with an equal perfection,
its action in procuring the freedom of the slave was unceasing. The law of
Constantine, which placed the ceremony under the superintendence of the
clergy, and the many laws that gave special facilities of manumission to
those who desired to enter the monasteries or the priesthood, symbolised
the religious character the act had assumed. It was celebrated on Church
festivals, especially at Easter; and, although it was not proclaimed a
matter of duty or necessity, it was always regarded as one of the most
acceptable modes of expiating past sins. St. Melania was said to have
emancipated 8,000 slaves; St. Ovidius, a rich martyr of Gaul, 5,000;
Chromatius, a Roman prefect under Diocletian, 1,400; Hermes, a prefect in
the reign of Trajan, 1,250.(133) Pope St. Gregory, many of the clergy at
Hippo under the rule of St. Augustine, as well as great numbers of private
individuals, freed their slaves as an act of piety.(134) It became
customary to do so on occasions of national or personal thanksgiving, on
recovery from sickness, on the birth of a child, at the hour of death,
and, above all, in testamentary bequests.(135) Numerous charters and
epitaphs still record the gift of liberty to slaves throughout the middle
ages, “for the benefit of the soul” of the donor or testator. In the
thirteenth century, when there were no slaves to emancipate in France, it
was usual in many churches to release caged pigeons on the ecclesiastical
festivals, in memory of the ancient charity, and that prisoners might
still be freed in the name of Christ.(136)

Slavery, however, lasted in Europe for about 800 years after Constantine,
and during the period with which alone this volume is concerned, although
its character was changed and mitigated, the number of men who were
subject to it was probably greater than in the Pagan Empire. In the West
the barbarian conquests modified the conditions of labour in two
directions. The cessation of the stream of barbarian captives, the
impoverishment of great families, who had been surrounded by vast retinues
of slaves, the general diminution of town life, and the barbarian habits
of personal independence, checked the old form of slavery, while the
misery and the precarious condition of the free peasants induced them in
great numbers to barter their liberty for protection by the neighbouring
lord.(137) In the East, the destruction of great fortunes through
excessive taxation diminished the number of superfluous slaves; and the
fiscal system of the Byzantine Empire, by which agricultural slaves were
taxed according to their employments,(138) as well as the desire of
emperors to encourage agriculture, led the legislators to attach the
slaves permanently to the soil. In the course of time, almost the entire
free peasantry, and the greater number of the old slaves, had sunk or
risen into the qualified slavery called serfdom, which formed the basis of
the great edifice of feudalism. Towards the end of the eighth century, the
sale of slaves beyond their native provinces was in most countries
prohibited.(139) The creation of the free cities of Italy, the custom of
emancipating slaves who were enrolled in the army, and economical changes
which made free labour more profitable than slave labour, conspired with
religious motives in effecting the ultimate freedom of labour. The
practice of manumitting, as an act of devotion, continued to the end; but
the ecclesiastics, probably through the feeling that they had no right to
alienate corporate property, in which they had only a life interest, were
among the last to follow the counsels they so liberally bestowed upon the
laity.(140) In the twelfth century, however, slaves in Europe were very
rare. In the fourteenth century, slavery was almost unknown.(141)

Closely connected with the influence of the Church in destroying
hereditary slavery, was its influence in redeeming captives from
servitude. In no other form of charity was its beneficial character more
continually and more splendidly displayed. During the long and dreary
trials of the barbarian invasions, when the whole structure of society was
dislocated, when vast districts and mighty cities were in a few months
almost depopulated, and when the flower of the youth of Italy were mown
down by the sword, or carried away into captivity, the bishops never
desisted from their efforts to alleviate the sufferings of the prisoners.
St. Ambrose, disregarding the outcries of the Arians, who denounced his
act as atrocious sacrilege, sold the rich church ornaments of Milan to
rescue some captives who had fallen into the hands of the Goths, and this
practice—which was afterwards formally sanctioned by St. Gregory the
Great—became speedily general. When the Roman army had captured, but
refused to support, seven thousand Persian prisoners, Acacius, Bishop of
Amida, undeterred by the bitter hostility of the Persians to Christianity,
and declaring that “God had no need of plates or dishes,” sold all the
rich church ornaments of his diocese, rescued the unbelieving prisoners,
and sent them back unharmed to their king. During the horrors of the
Vandal invasion, Deogratias, Bishop of Carthage, took a similar step to
ransom the Roman prisoners. St. Augustine, St. Gregory the Great, St.
Cæsarius of Arles, St. Exuperius of Toulouse, St. Hilary, St. Remi, all
melted down or sold their church vases to free prisoners. St. Cyprian sent
a large sum for the same purpose to the Bishop of Nicomedia. St.
Epiphanius and St. Avitus, in conjunction with a rich Gaulish lady named
Syagria, are said to have rescued thousands. St. Eligius devoted to this
object his entire fortune. St. Paulinus of Nola displayed a similar
generosity, and the legends even assert, though untruly, that he, like St.
Peter Teleonarius and St. Serapion, having exhausted all other forms of
charity, as a last gift sold himself to slavery. When, long afterwards,
the Mohammedan conquests in a measure reproduced the calamities of the
barbarian invasions, the same unwearied charity was displayed. The
Trinitarian monks, founded by John of Matha in the twelfth century, were
devoted to the release of Christian captives, and another society was
founded with the same object by Peter Nolasco, in the following

The different branches of the subject I am examining are so closely
intertwined that it is difficult to investigate one without in a measure
anticipating the others. While discussing the influence of the Church in
protecting infancy, in raising the estimate of human life, and in
alleviating slavery, I have trenched largely upon the last application of
the doctrine of Christian fraternity I must examine—I mean the foundation
of charity. The difference between Pagan and Christian societies in this
matter is very profound; but a great part of it must be ascribed to causes
other than religious opinions. Charity finds an extended scope for action
only, where there exists a large class of men at once independent and
impoverished. In the ancient societies, slavery in a great measure
replaced pauperism, and, by securing the subsistence of a very large
proportion of the poor, contracted the sphere of charity. And what slavery
did at Rome for the very poor, the system of clientage did for those of a
somewhat higher rank. The existence of these two institutions is
sufficient to show the injustice of judging the two societies by a mere
comparison of their charitable institutions, and we must also remember
that among the ancients the relief of the indigent was one of the most
important functions of the State. Not to dwell upon the many measures
taken with this object in ancient Greece, in considering the condition of
the Roman poor we are at once met by the simple fact that for several
centuries the immense majority of these were habitually supported by
gratuitous distributions of corn. In a very early period of Roman history
we find occasional instances of distribution; but it was not till A.U.C.
630 that Caius Gracchus caused a law to be made, supplying the poorer
classes with corn at a price that was little more than nominal; and
although, two years after, the nobles succeeded in revoking this law, it
was after several fluctuations finally re-enacted in A.U.C. 679. The
Cassia-Terentia law, as it was called from the consuls under whom it was
at last established, was largely extended in its operation, or, as some
think, revived from neglect in A.U.C. 691, by Cato of Utica, who desired
by this means to divert popularity from the cause of Cæsar, under whom
multitudes of the poor were enrolling themselves. Four years later,
Clodius Pulcher, abolishing the small payment which had been demanded,
made the distribution entirely gratuitous. It took place once a month, and
consisted of five modii(143) a head. In the time of Julius Cæsar no less
than 320,000 persons were inscribed as recipients; but Cæsar reduced the
number by one half. Under Augustus it had risen to 200,000. This emperor
desired to restrict the distribution of corn to three or four times a
year, but, yielding to the popular wish, he at last consented that it
should continue monthly. It soon became the leading fact of Roman life.
Numerous officers were appointed to provide it. A severe legislation
controlled their acts, and to secure a regular and abundant supply of corn
for the capital became the principal object of the provincial governors.
Under the Antonines the number of the recipients had considerably
increased, having sometimes, it is said, exceeded 500,000. Septimus
Severus added to the corn a ration of oil. Aurelian replaced the monthly
distribution of unground corn by a daily distribution of bread, and added,
moreover, a portion of pork. Gratuitous distributions were afterwards
extended to Constantinople, Alexandria, and Antioch, and were probably not
altogether unknown in smaller towns.(144)

We have already seen that this gratuitous distribution of corn ranked,
with the institution of slavery and the gladiatorial exhibitions, as one
of the chief demoralising influences of the Empire. The most injudicious
charity, however pernicious to the classes it is intended to relieve, has
commonly a beneficial and softening influence upon the donor, and through
him upon society at large. But the Roman distribution of corn, being
merely a political device, had no humanising influence upon the people,
while, being regulated only by the indigence, and not at all by the
infirmities or character, of the recipient, it was a direct and
overwhelming encouragement to idleness. With a provision of the
necessaries of life, and with an abundant supply of amusements, the poor
Romans readily gave up honourable labour, all trades in the city
languished, every interruption in the distribution of corn was followed by
fearful sufferings, free gifts of land were often insufficient to attract
the citizens to honest labour, and the multiplication of children, which
rendered the public relief inadequate, was checked by abortion,
exposition, or infanticide.

When we remember that the population of Rome probably never exceeded a
million and a half, that a large proportion of the indigent were provided
for as slaves, and that more than 200,000 freemen were habitually supplied
with the first necessary of life, we cannot, I think, charge the Pagan
society of the metropolis, at least, with an excessive parsimony in
relieving poverty. But besides the distribution of corn, several other
measures were taken. Salt, which was very largely used by the Roman poor,
had during the Republic been made a monopoly of the State, and was sold by
it at a price that was little more than nominal.(145) The distribution of
land, which was the subject of the agrarian laws, was, under a new form,
practised by Julius Cæsar,(146) Nerva,(147) and Septimus Severus,(148) who
bought land to divide it among the poor citizens. Large legacies were left
to the people by Julius Cæsar, Augustus, and others, and considerable,
though irregular, donations made on occasions of great rejoicings.
Numerous public baths were established, to which, when they were not
absolutely gratuitous, the smallest coin in use gave admission, and which
were in consequence habitually employed by the poor. Vespasian instituted,
and the Antonines extended, a system of popular education, and the
movement I have already noticed, for the support of the children of poor
parents, acquired very considerable proportions. The first trace of it at
Rome may be found under Augustus, who gave money and corn for the support
of young children, who had previously not been included in the public
distributions.(149) This appears, however, to have been but an act of
isolated benevolence, and the honour of first instituting a systematic
effort in this direction belongs to Nerva, who enjoined the support of
poor children, not only in Rome, but in all the cities of Italy.(150)
Trajan greatly extended the system. In his reign 5,000 poor children were
supported by the Government in Rome alone,(151) and similar measures,
though we know not on what scale, were taken in the other Italian and even
African cities. At the little town of Velleia, we find a charity
instituted by Trajan, for the partial support of 270 children.(152)
Private benevolence followed in the same direction, and several
inscriptions which still remain, though they do not enable us to write its
history, sufficiently attest its activity. The younger Pliny, besides
warmly encouraging schools, devoted a small property to the support of
poor children in his native city of Como.(153) The name of Cælia Macrina
is preserved as the foundress of a charity for 100 children at
Terracina.(154) Hadrian increased the supplies of corn allotted to these
charities, and he was also distinguished for his bounty to poor
women.(155) Antoninus was accustomed to lend money to the poor at four per
cent., which was much below the normal rate of interest,(156) and both he
and Marcus Aurelius dedicated to the memory of their wives institutions
for the support of girls.(157) Alexander Severus in like manner dedicated
an institution for the support of children to the memory of his
mother.(158) Public hospitals were probably unknown in Europe before
Christianity; but there are traces of the distribution of medicine to the
sick poor;(159) there were private infirmaries for slaves, and also, it is
believed, military hospitals.(160) Provincial towns were occasionally
assisted by the Government in seasons of great distress, and there are
some recorded instances of private legacies for their benefit.(161)

These various measures are by no means inconsiderable, and it is not
unreasonable to suppose that many similar steps were taken, of which all
record has been lost. The history of charity presents so few salient
features, so little that can strike the imagination or arrest the
attention, that it is usually almost wholly neglected by historians; and
it is easy to conceive what inadequate notions of our existing charities
could be gleaned from the casual allusions in plays or poems, in political
histories or court memoirs. There can, however, be no question that
neither in practice nor in theory, neither in the institutions that were
founded nor in the place that was assigned to it in the scale of duties,
did charity in antiquity occupy a position at all comparable to that which
it has obtained by Christianity. Nearly all relief was a State measure,
dictated much more by policy than by benevolence; and the habit of selling
young children, the innumerable expositions, the readiness of the poor to
enrol themselves as gladiators, and the frequent famines, show how large
was the measure of unrelieved distress. A very few Pagan examples of
charity have, indeed, descended to us. Among the Greeks we find
Epaminondas ransoming captives, and collecting dowers for poor girls;(162)
Cimon, feeding the hungry and clothing the naked;(163) Bias, purchasing,
emancipating, and furnishing with dowers some captive girls of
Messina.(164) Tacitus has described with enthusiasm how, after a
catastrophe near Rome, the rich threw open their houses and taxed all
their resources to relieve the sufferers.(165) There existed, too, among
the poor, both of Greece and Rome, mutual insurance societies, which
undertook to provide for their sick and infirm members.(166) The very
frequent reference to mendicancy in the Latin writers shows that beggars,
and therefore those who relieved beggars, were numerous. The duty of
hospitality was also strongly enjoined, and was placed under the special
protection of the supreme Deity. But the active, habitual, and detailed
charity of private persons, which is so conspicuous a feature in all
Christian societies, was scarcely known in antiquity, and there are not
more than two or three moralists who have even noticed it. Of these, the
chief rank belongs to Cicero, who devoted two very judicious but somewhat
cold chapters to the subject. Nothing, he said, is more suitable to the
nature of man than beneficence or liberality, but there are many cautions
to be urged in practising it. We must take care that our bounty is a real
blessing to the person we relieve; that it does not exceed our own means;
that it is not, as was the case with Sylla and Cæsar, derived from the
spoliation of others; that it springs from the heart and not from
ostentation; that the claims of gratitude are preferred to the mere
impulses of compassion, and that due regard is paid both to the character
and to the wants of the recipient.(167)

Christianity for the first time made charity a rudimentary virtue, giving
it a leading place in the moral type, and in the exhortations of its
teachers. Besides its general influence in stimulating the affections, it
effected a complete revolution in this sphere, by regarding the poor as
the special representatives of the Christian Founder, and thus making the
love of Christ, rather than the love of man, the principle of charity.
Even in the days of persecution, collections for the relief of the poor
were made at the Sunday meetings. The agapæ or feasts of love were
intended mainly for the poor, and food that was saved by the fasts was
devoted to their benefit. A vast organisation of charity, presided over by
the bishops, and actively directed by the deacons, soon ramified over
Christendom, till the bond of charity became the bond of unity, and the
most distant sections of the Christian Church corresponded by the
interchange of mercy. Long before the era of Constantine, it was observed
that the charities of the Christians were so extensive—it may, perhaps, be
said so excessive—that they drew very many impostors to the Church;(168)
and when the victory of Christianity was achieved, the enthusiasm for
charity displayed itself in the erection of numerous institutions that
were altogether unknown to the Pagan world. A Roman lady, named Fabiola,
in the fourth century, founded at Rome, as an act of penance, the first
public hospital, and the charity planted by that woman’s hand overspread
the world, and will alleviate, to the end of time, the darkest anguish of
humanity. Another hospital was soon after founded by St. Pammachus;
another of great celebrity by St. Basil, at Cæsarea. St. Basil also
erected at Cæsarea what was probably the first asylum for lepers.
Xenodochia, or refuges for strangers, speedily rose, especially along the
paths of the pilgrims. St. Pammachus founded one at Ostia; Paula and
Melania founded others at Jerusalem. The Council of Nice ordered that one
should be erected in every city. In the time of St. Chrysostom the church
of Antioch supported 3,000 widows and virgins, besides strangers and sick.
Legacies for the poor became common; and it was not unfrequent for men and
women who desired to live a life of peculiar sanctity, and especially for
priests who attained the episcopacy to bestow their entire properties in
charity. Even the early Oriental monks, who for the most part were
extremely removed from the active and social virtues, supplied many noble
examples of charity. St. Ephrem, in a time of pestilence, emerged from his
solitude to found and superintend a hospital at Edessa. A monk named
Thalasius collected blind beggars in an asylum on the banks of the
Euphrates. A merchant named Apollonius founded on Mount Nitria a
gratuitous dispensary for the monks. The monks often assisted by their
labours provinces that were suffering from pestilence or famine. We may
trace the remains of the pure socialism that marked the first phase of the
Christian community, in the emphatic language with which some of the
Fathers proclaimed charity to be a matter not of mercy but of justice,
maintaining that all property is based on usurpation, that the earth by
right is common to all men, and that no man can claim a superabundant
supply of its goods except as an administrator for others. A Christian, it
was maintained, should devote at least one-tenth of his profits to the

The enthusiasm of charity, thus manifested in the Church, speedily
attracted the attention of the Pagans. The ridicule of Lucian, and the
vain efforts of Julian to produce a rival system of charity within the
limits of Paganism,(170) emphatically attested both its pre-eminence and
its catholicity. During the pestilences that desolated Carthage in A.D.
326, and Alexandria in the reigns of Gallienus and of Maximian, while the
Pagans fled panic-stricken from the contagion, the Christians extorted the
admiration of their fellow-countrymen by the courage with which they
rallied around their bishops, consoled the last hours of the sufferers,
and buried the abandoned dead.(171) In the rapid increase of pauperism
arising from the emancipation of numerous slaves, their charity found free
scope for action, and its resources were soon taxed to the utmost by the
horrors of the barbarian invasions. The conquest of Africa by Genseric
deprived Italy of the supply of corn upon which it almost wholly depended,
arrested the gratuitous distribution by which the Roman poor were mainly
supported, and produced all over the land the most appalling
calamities.(172) The history of Italy became one monotonous tale of famine
and pestilence, of starving populations and ruined cities. But everywhere
amid this chaos of dissolution we may detect the majestic form of the
Christian priest mediating between the hostile forces, straining every
nerve to lighten the calamities around him. When the Imperial city was
captured and plundered by the hosts of Alaric, a Christian church remained
a secure sanctuary, which neither the passions nor the avarice of the
Goths transgressed. When a fiercer than Alaric had marked out Rome for his
prey, the Pope St. Leo, arrayed in his sacerdotal robes, confronted the
victorious Hun, as the ambassador of his fellow-countrymen, and Attila,
overpowered by religious awe, turned aside in his course. When, two years
later, Rome lay at the mercy of Genseric, the same Pope interposed with
the Vandal conqueror, and obtained from him a partial cessation of the
massacre. The Archdeacon Pelagius interceded with similar humanity and
similar success, when Rome had been captured by Totila. In Gaul, Troyes is
said to have been saved from destruction by the influence of St. Lupus,
and Orleans by the influence of St. Agnan. In Britain an invasion of the
Picts was averted by St. Germain of Auxerre. The relations of rulers to
their subjects, and of tribunals to the poor, were modified by the same
intervention. When Antioch was threatened with destruction on account of
its rebellion against Theodosius, the anchorites poured forth from the
neighbouring deserts to intercede with the ministers of the emperor, while
the Archbishop Flavian went himself as a suppliant to Constantinople. St.
Ambrose imposed public penance on Theodosius, on account of the massacre
of Thessalonica. Synesius excommunicated for his oppressions a governor
named Andronicus; and two French Councils, in the sixth century, imposed
the same penalty on all great men who arbitrarily ejected the poor.
Special laws were found necessary to restrain the turbulent charity of
some priests and monks, who impeded the course of justice, and even
snatched criminals from the hands of the law.(173) St. Abraham, St.
Epiphanius, and St. Basil are all said to have obtained the remission or
reduction of oppressive imposts. To provide for the interests of widows
and orphans was part of the official ecclesiastical duty, and a Council of
Macon anathematised any ruler who brought them to trial without first
apprising the bishop of the diocese. A Council of Toledo, in the fifth
century, threatened with excommunication all who robbed priests, monks, or
poor men, or refused to listen to their expostulations. One of the chief
causes of the inordinate power acquired by the clergy was their
mediatorial office, and their gigantic wealth was in a great degree due to
the legacies of those who regarded them as the trustees of the poor. As
time rolled on, charity assumed many forms, and every monastery became a
centre from which it radiated. By the monks the nobles were overawed, the
poor protected, the sick tended, travellers sheltered, prisoners ransomed,
the remotest spheres of suffering explored. During the darkest period of
the middle ages, monks founded a refuge for pilgrims amid the horrors of
the Alpine snows. A solitary hermit often planted himself, with his little
boat, by a bridgeless stream, and the charity of his life was to ferry
over the traveller.(174) When the hideous disease of leprosy extended its
ravages over Europe, when the minds of men were filled with terror, not
only by its loathsomeness and its contagion, but also by the notion that
it was in a peculiar sense supernatural,(175) new hospitals and refuges
overspread Europe, and monks flocked in multitudes to serve in them.(176)
Sometimes, the legends say, the leper’s form was in a moment transfigured,
and he who came to tend the most loathsome of mankind received his reward,
for he found himself in the presence of his Lord.

There is no fact of which an historian becomes more speedily or more
painfully conscious than the great difference between the importance and
the dramatic interest of the subjects he treats. Wars or massacres, the
horrors of martyrdom or the splendours of individual prowess, are
susceptible of such brilliant colouring, that with but little literary
skill they can be so pourtrayed that their importance is adequately
realised, and they appeal powerfully to the emotions of the reader. But
this vast and unostentatious movement of charity, operating in the village
hamlet and in the lonely hospital, staunching the widow’s tears, and
following all the windings of the poor man’s griefs, presents few features
the imagination can grasp, and leaves no deep impression upon the mind.
The greatest things are often those which are most imperfectly realised;
and surely no achievements of the Christian Church are more truly great
than those which it has effected in the sphere of charity. For the first
time in the history of mankind, it has inspired many thousands of men and
women, at the sacrifice of all worldly interests, and often under
circumstances of extreme discomfort or danger, to devote their entire
lives to the single object of assuaging the sufferings of humanity. It has
covered the globe with countless institutions of mercy, absolutely unknown
to the whole Pagan world. It has indissolubly united, in the minds of men,
the idea of supreme goodness with that of active and constant benevolence.
It has placed in every parish a religious minister, who, whatever may be
his other functions, has at least been officially charged with the
superintendence of an organisation of charity, and who finds in this
office one of the most important as well as one of the most legitimate
sources of his power.

There are, however, two important qualifications to the admiration with
which we regard the history of Christian charity—one relating to a
particular form of suffering, and the other of a more general kind. A
strong, ill-defined notion of the supernatural character of insanity had
existed from the earliest times; but there were special circumstances
which rendered the action of the Church peculiarly unfavourable to those
who were either predisposed to or afflicted with this calamity. The
reality both of witchcraft and diabolical possession had been distinctly
recognised in the Jewish writings. The received opinions about eternal
torture, and ever-present dæmons, and the continued strain upon the
imagination, in dwelling upon an unseen world, were pre-eminently fitted
to produce madness in those who were at all predisposed to it, and, where
insanity had actually appeared, to determine the form and complexion of
the hallucinations of the maniac.(177) Theology supplying all the images
that acted most powerfully upon the imagination, most madness, for many
centuries, took a theological cast. One important department of it appears
chiefly in the lives of the saints. Men of lively imaginations and
absolute ignorance, living apart from all their fellows, amid the horrors
of a savage wilderness, practising austerities by which their physical
system was thoroughly deranged, and firmly persuaded that innumerable
devils were continually hovering about their cells and interfering with
their devotions, speedily and very naturally became subject to constant
hallucinations, which probably form the nucleus of truth in the legends of
their lives. But it was impossible that insanity should confine itself to
the orthodox forms of celestial visions, or of the apparitions and the
defeats of devils. Very frequently it led the unhappy maniac to some
delusion, which called down upon him the speedy sentence of the Church.
Thus, in the year 1300, the corpse of a Bohemian or, according to another
version, an English girl who imagined herself to be the Holy Ghost
incarnate for the redemption of women, was dug up and burnt, and two women
who believed in her perished at the stake.(178) In the year 1359, a
Spaniard declared himself to be the brother of the archangel Michael, and
to be destined for the place in heaven which Satan had lost; and he added
that he was accustomed every day both to mount into heaven and descend
into hell, that the end of the world was at hand, and that it was reserved
for him to enter into single combat with Antichrist. The poor lunatic fell
into the hands of the Archbishop of Toledo, and was burnt alive.(179) In
some cases the hallucination took the form of an irregular inspiration. On
this charge, Joan of Arc, and another girl who had been fired by her
example, and had endeavoured, apparently under a genuine hallucination, to
follow her career,(180) were burnt alive. A famous Spanish physician and
scholar, named Torralba, who lived in the sixteenth century, and who
imagined that he had an attendant angel continually about him, escaped
with public penance and confession;(181) but a professor of theology in
Lima, who laboured under the same delusion, and added to it some wild
notions about his spiritual dignities, was less fortunate. He was burnt by
the Inquisition of Peru.(182) Most commonly, however, the theological
notions about witchcraft either produced madness or determined its form,
and, through the influence of the clergy of the different sections of the
Christian Church, many thousands of unhappy women, who, from their age,
their loneliness, and their infirmity, were most deserving of pity, were
devoted to the hatred of mankind, and, having been tortured with horrible
and ingenious cruelty, were at last burnt alive.

The existence, however, of some forms of natural madness was generally
admitted; but the measures for the relief of the unhappy victims were very
few, and very ill judged. Among the ancients, they were brought to the
temples, and subjected to imposing ceremonies, which were believed
supernaturally to relieve them, and which probably had a favourable
influence through their action upon the imagination. The great Greek
physicians had devoted considerable attention to this malady, and some of
their precepts anticipated modern discoveries; but no lunatic asylum
appears to have existed in antiquity.(183) In the first period of the
hermit life, when many anchorites became insane through their penances, a
refuge is said to have been opened for them at Jerusalem.(184) This
appears, however, to be a solitary instance, arising from the exigencies
of a single class, and no lunatic asylum existed in Christian Europe till
the fifteenth century. The Mohammedans, in this form of charity, seem to
have preceded the Christians. Benjamin of Tudela, who visited Bagdad in
the twelfth century, describes a palace in that city, called “the House of
Mercy,” in which all mad persons found in the country were confined and
bound with iron chains. They were carefully examined every month and
released as soon as they recovered.(185) The asylum of Cairo is said to
have been founded in A.D. 1304.(186) Leo Africanus notices the existence
of a similar institution at Fez, in the beginning of the sixteenth
century, and mentions that the patients were restrained by chains,(187)
and it is probable that the care of the insane was a general form of
charity in Mohammedan countries. Among the Christians it first appeared in
quarters contiguous to the Mohammedans; but there is, I think, no real
evidence that it was derived from Mohammedan example. The Knights of Malta
were famous as the one order who admitted lunatics into their hospitals;
but no Christian asylum expressly for their benefit existed till 1409. The
honour of instituting this form of charity in Christendom belongs to
Spain. A monk named Juan Gilaberto Joffre, filled with compassion at the
sight of the maniacs who were hooted by crowds through the streets of
Valencia, founded an asylum in that city, and his example was speedily
followed in other provinces. The new charity was introduced into Saragossa
in A.D. 1425, into Seville and Valladolid in A.D. 1436, into Toledo in
A.D. 1483. All these institutions existed before a single lunatic asylum
had been founded in any other part of Christendom.(188) Two other very
honourable facts may be mentioned, establishing the preeminence of Spanish
charity in this field. The first is, that the oldest lunatic asylum in the
metropolis of Catholicism was that erected by Spaniards, in A.D.
1548.(189) The second is, that when, at the close of the last century,
Pinel began his great labours in this sphere, he pronounced Spain to be
the country in which lunatics were treated with most wisdom and most

In most countries their condition was indeed truly deplorable. While many
thousands were burnt as witches, those who were recognised as insane were
compelled to endure all the horrors of the harshest imprisonment. Blows,
bleeding, and chains were their usual treatment, and horrible accounts
were given of madmen who had spent decades bound in dark cells.(191) Such
treatment naturally aggravated their malady, and that malady in many cases
rendered impossible the resignation and ultimate torpor which alleviate
the sufferings of ordinary prisoners. Not until the eighteenth century was
the condition of this unhappy class seriously improved. The combined
progress of theological scepticism and scientific knowledge relegated
witchcraft to the world of phantoms, and the exertions of Morgagni in
Italy, of Cullen in Scotland, and of Pinel in France, renovated the whole
treatment of acknowledged lunatics.

The second qualification to the admiration with which we regard the
history of Christian charity arises from the undoubted fact that a large
proportion of charitable institutions have directly increased the poverty
they were intended to relieve. The question of the utility and nature of
charity is one which, since the modern discoveries of political economy,
has elicited much discussion, and in many cases, I think, much
exaggeration. What political economy has effected on the subject may be
comprised under two heads. It has elucidated more clearly, and in greater
detail than had before been done, the effect of provident self-interest in
determining the welfare of societies, and it has established a broad
distinction between productive and unproductive expenditure. It has shown
that, where idleness is supported, idleness will become common; that,
where systematic public provision is made for old age, the parsimony of
foresight will be neglected; and that therefore these forms of charity, by
encouraging habits of idleness and improvidence, ultimately increase the
wretchedness they were intended to alleviate. It has also shown that,
while unproductive expenditure, such as that which is devoted to
amusements or luxury, is undoubtedly beneficial to those who provide it,
the fruit perishes in the usage; while productive expenditure, such as the
manufacture of machines, or the improvement of the soil, or the extension
of commercial enterprise, gives a new impulse to the creation of wealth.
It has proved that the first condition of the rapid accumulation of
capital is the diversion of money from unproductive to productive
channels, and that the amount of accumulated capital is one of the two
regulating influences of the wages of the labourer. From these positions
some persons have inferred that charity should be condemned as a form of
unproductive expenditure. But, in the first place, all charities that
foster habits of forethought and develop new capacities in the poorer
classes, such as popular education, or the formation of savings banks, or
insurance companies, or, in many cases, small and discriminating loans, or
measures directed to the suppression of dissipation, are in the strictest
sense productive; and the same may be said of many forms of employment,
given in exceptional crises through charitable motives; and, in the next
place, it is only necessary to remember that the happiness of mankind, to
which the accumulation of wealth should only be regarded as a means, is
the real object of charity, and it will appear that many forms which are
not strictly productive, in the commercial sense, are in the highest
degree conducive to this end, and have no serious counteracting evil. In
the alleviation of those sufferings that do not spring either from
improvidence or from vice, the warmest as well as the most enlightened
charity will find an ample sphere for its exertions.(192) Blindness, and
other exceptional calamities, against the effects of which prudence does
not and cannot provide, the miseries resulting from epidemics, from war,
from famine, from the first sudden collapse of industry, produced by new
inventions or changes in the channels of commerce; hospitals, which,
besides other advantages, are the greatest schools of medical science, and
withdraw from the crowded alley multitudes who would otherwise form
centres of contagion—these, and such as these, will long tax to the utmost
the generosity of the wealthy; while, even in the spheres upon which the
political economist looks with the most unfavourable eye, exceptional
cases will justify exceptional assistance. The charity which is pernicious
is commonly not the highest but the lowest kind. The rich man, prodigal of
money, which is to him of little value, but altogether incapable of
devoting any personal attention to the object of his alms, often injures
society by his donations; but this is rarely the case with that far nobler
charity which makes men familiar with the haunts of wretchedness, and
follows the object of its care through all the phases of his life. The
question of the utility of charity is merely a question of ultimate
consequences. Political economy has, no doubt, laid down some general
rules of great value on the subject; but yet the pages which Cicero
devoted to it nearly two thousand years ago might have been written by the
most enlightened modern economist; and it will be continually found that
the Protestant lady, working in her parish, by the simple force of common
sense and by a scrupulous and minute attention to the condition and
character of those whom she relieves, is unconsciously illustrating with
perfect accuracy the enlightened charity of Malthus.

But in order that charity should be useful, it is essential that the
benefit of the sufferer should be a real object to the donor; and a very
large proportion of the evils that have arisen from Catholic charity may
be traced to the absence of this condition. The first substitution of
devotion for philanthropy, as the motive of benevolence, gave so powerful
a stimulus to the affections, that it may on the whole be regarded as a
benefit, though, by making compassion operate solely through a theological
medium, it often produced among theologians a more than common
indifference to the sufferings of all who were external to their religious
community. But the new principle speedily degenerated into a belief in the
expiatory nature of the gifts. A form of what may be termed selfish
charity arose, which acquired at last gigantic proportions, and exercised
a most pernicious influence upon Christendom. Men gave money to the poor,
simply and exclusively for their own spiritual benefit, and the welfare of
the sufferer was altogether foreign to their thoughts.(193)

The evil which thus arose from some forms of Catholic charity may be
traced from a very early period, but it only acquired its full magnitude
after some centuries. The Roman system of gratuitous distribution was, in
the eyes of the political economist, about the worst that could be
conceived, and the charity of the Church being, in at least a measure,
discriminating, was at first a very great, though even then not an
unmingled, good. Labour was also not unfrequently enjoined as a duty by
the Fathers, and at a later period the services of the Benedictine monks,
in destroying by their example the stigma which slavery had attached to
it, were very great. Still, one of the first consequences of the exuberant
charity of the Church was to multiply impostors and mendicants, and the
idleness of the monks was one of the earliest complaints. Valentinian made
a severe law, condemning robust beggars to perpetual slavery. As the
monastic system was increased, and especially after the mendicant orders
had consecrated mendicancy, the evil assumed gigantic dimensions. Many
thousands of strong men, absolutely without private means, were in every
country withdrawn from productive labour, and supported by charity. The
notion of the meritorious nature of simple almsgiving immeasurably
multiplied beggars. The stigma, which it is the highest interest of
society to attach to mendicancy, it became a main object of theologians to
remove. Saints wandered through the world begging money, that they might
give to beggars, or depriving themselves of their garments, that they
might clothe the naked, and the result of their teaching was speedily
apparent. In all Catholic countries where ecclesiastical influences have
been permitted to develop unmolested, the monastic organisations have
proved a deadly canker, corroding the prosperity of the nation.
Withdrawing multitudes from all production, encouraging a blind and
pernicious almsgiving, diffusing habits of improvidence through the poorer
classes, fostering an ignorant admiration for saintly poverty, and an
equally ignorant antipathy to the habits and aims of an industrial
civilisation, they have paralysed all energy, and proved an insuperable
barrier to material progress. The poverty they have relieved has been
insignificant compared with the poverty they have caused. In no case was
the abolition of monasteries effected in a more indefensible manner than
in England; but the transfer of property, that was once employed in a
great measure in charity, to the courtiers of King Henry, was ultimately a
benefit to the English poor; for no misapplication of this property by
private persons could produce as much evil as an unrestrained monasticism.
The value of Catholic services in alleviating pain and sickness, and the
more exceptional forms of suffering, can never be overrated. The noble
heroism of her servants, who have devoted themselves to charity, has never
been surpassed, and the perfection of their organisation has, I think,
never been equalled; but in the sphere of simple poverty it can hardly be
doubted that the Catholic Church has created more misery than it has

Still, even in this field, we must not forget the benefits resulting, if
not to the sufferer, at least to the donor. Charitable habits, even when
formed in the first instance from selfish motives, even when so
misdirected as to be positively injurious to the recipient, rarely fail to
exercise a softening and purifying influence on the character. All through
the darkest period of the middle ages, amid ferocity and fanaticism and
brutality, we may trace the subduing influence of Catholic charity,
blending strangely with every excess of violence and every outburst of
persecution. It would be difficult to conceive a more frightful picture of
society than is presented by the history of Gregory of Tours; but that
long series of atrocious crimes, narrated with an almost appalling
tranquillity, is continually interspersed with accounts of kings, queens,
or prelates, who, in the midst of the disorganised society, made the
relief of the poor the main object of their lives. No period of history
exhibits a larger amount of cruelty, licentiousness, and fanaticism than
the Crusades; but side by side with the military enthusiasm, and with the
almost universal corruption, there expanded a vast movement of charity,
which covered Christendom with hospitals for the relief of leprosy, and
which grappled nobly, though ineffectually, with the many forms of
suffering that were generated. St. Peter Nolasco, whose great labours in
ransoming captive Christians I have already noticed, was an active
participator in the atrocious massacre of the Albigenses.(194) Of Shane
O’Neale, one of the ablest, but also one of the most ferocious, Irish
chieftains who ever defied the English power, it is related, amid a crowd
of crimes, that, “sitting at meat, before he put one morsel into his mouth
he used to slice a portion above the daily alms, and send it to some
beggar at his gate, saying it was meet to serve Christ first.”(195)

The great evils produced by the encouragement of mendicancy which has
always accompanied the uncontrolled development of Catholicity, have
naturally given rise to much discussion and legislation. The fierce
denunciations of the mendicant orders by William of St. Amour in the
thirteenth century were not on account of their encouragement of
mischievous charity;(196) but one of the disciples of Wycliffe, named
Nicholas of Hereford, was conspicuous for his opposition to indiscriminate
gifts to beggars;(197) and a few measures of an extended order appear to
have been taken even before the Reformation.(198) In England laws of the
most savage cruelty were then passed, in hopes of eradicating mendicancy.
A parliament of Henry VIII., before the suppression of the monasteries,
issued a law providing a system of organised charity, and imposing on any
one who gave anything to a beggar a fine of ten times the value of his
gift. A sturdy beggar was to be punished with whipping for the first
offence, with whipping and the loss of the tip of his ear for the second
and with death for the third.(199) Under Edward VI., an atrocious law,
which, however, was repealed in the same reign, enacted that every sturdy
beggar who refused to work should be branded, and adjudged for two years
as a slave to the person who gave information against him; and if he took
flight during his period of servitude, he was condemned for the first
offence to perpetual slavery, and for the second to death. The master was
authorised to put a ring of iron round the neck of his slave, to chain
him, and to scourge him. Any one might take the children of a sturdy
beggar for apprentices, till the boys were twenty-four and the girls
twenty.(200) Another law, made under Elizabeth, punished with death any
strong man under the age of eighteen who was convicted for the third time
of begging; but the penalty in this reign was afterwards reduced to a
life-long service in the galleys, or to banishment, with a penalty of
death to the returned convict.(201) Under the same queen the poor-law
system was elaborated, and Malthus long afterwards showed that its effects
in discouraging parsimony rendered it scarcely less pernicious than the
monastic system that had preceded it. In many Catholic countries, severe,
though less atrocious, measures were taken to grapple with the evil of
mendicancy. That shrewd and sagacious pontiff, Sixtus V., who, though not
the greatest man, was by far the greatest statesman who has ever sat on
the papal throne, made praiseworthy efforts to check it at Rome, where
ecclesiastical influence had always made it peculiarly prevalent.(202)
Charles V., in 1531, issued a severe enactment against beggars in the
Netherlands, but excepted from its operation mendicant friars and
pilgrims.(203) Under Lewis XIV., equally severe measures were taken in
France. But though the practical evil was fully felt, there was little
philosophical investigation of its causes before the eighteenth century.
Locke in England,(204) and Berkeley in Ireland,(205) briefly glanced at
the subject; and in 1704 Defoe published a very remarkable tract, called,
“Giving Alms no Charity,” in which he noticed the extent to which
mendicancy existed in England, though wages were higher than in any
Continental country.(206) A still more remarkable book, written by an
author named Ricci, appeared at Modena in 1787, and excited considerable
attention. The author pointed out with much force the gigantic development
of mendicancy in Italy, traced it to the excessive charity of the people,
and appears to have regarded as an evil all charity which sprang from
religious motives and was greater than would spring from the unaided
instincts of men.(207) The freethinker Mandeville had long before assailed
charity schools, and the whole system of endeavouring to elevate the
poor,(208) and Magdalen asylums and foundling hospitals have had fierce,
though I believe much mistaken, adversaries.(209) The reforms of the
poor-laws, and the writings of Malthus, gave a new impulse to discussion
on the subject; but, with the qualifications I have stated, no new
discoveries have, I conceive, thrown any just cloud upon the essential
principle of Christian charity.

The last method by which Christianity has laboured to soften the
characters of men has been by accustoming the imagination to expatiate
continually upon images of tenderness and of pathos. Our imaginations,
though less influential than our occupations, probably affect our moral
characters more deeply than our judgments, and, in the case of the poorer
classes especially, the cultivation of this part of our nature is of
inestimable importance. Rooted, for the most part, during their entire
lives, to a single spot, excluded by their ignorance and their
circumstances from most of the varieties of interest that animate the
minds of other men, condemned to constant and plodding labour, and
engrossed for ever with the minute cares of an immediate and an anxious
present, their whole natures would have been hopelessly contracted, were
there no sphere in which their imaginations could expand. Religion is the
one romance of the poor. It alone extends the narrow horizon of their
thoughts, supplies the images of their dreams, allures them to the
supersensual and the ideal. The graceful beings with which the creative
fancy of Paganism peopled the universe shed a poetic glow on the peasant’s
toil. Every stage of agriculture was presided over by a divinity, and the
world grew bright by the companionship of the gods. But it is the
peculiarity of the Christian types, that, while they have fascinated the
imagination, they have also purified the heart. The tender, winning, and
almost feminine beauty of the Christian Founder, the Virgin mother, the
agonies of Gethsemane or of Calvary, the many scenes of compassion and
suffering that fill the sacred writings, are the pictures which, for
eighteen hundred years, have governed the imaginations of the rudest and
most ignorant of mankind. Associated with the fondest recollections of
childhood, with the music of the church bells, with the clustered lights
and the tinsel splendour, that seem to the peasant the very ideal of
majesty; painted over the altar where he received the companion of his
life, around the cemetery where so many whom he had loved were laid, on
the stations of the mountain, on the portal of the vineyard, on the chapel
where the storm-tossed mariner fulfils his grateful vow; keeping guard
over his cottage door, and looking down upon his humble bed, forms of
tender beauty and gentle pathos for ever haunt the poor man’s fancy, and
silently win their way into the very depths of his being. More than any
spoken eloquence, more than any dogmatic teaching, they transform and
subdue his character, till he learns to realise the sanctity of weakness
and suffering, the supreme majesty of compassion and gentleness.

Imperfect and inadequate as is the sketch I have drawn, it will be
sufficient to show how great and multiform have been the influences of
Christian philanthropy. The shadows that rest upon the picture, I have not
concealed; but, when all due allowance has been made for them, enough will
remain to claim our deepest admiration. The high conception that has been
formed of the sanctity of human life, the protection of infancy, the
elevation and final emancipation of the slave classes, the suppression of
barbarous games, the creation of a vast and multifarious organisation of
charity, and the education of the imagination by the Christian type,
constitute together a movement of philanthropy which has never been
paralleled or approached in the Pagan world. The effects of this movement
in promoting happiness have been very great. Its effect in determining
character has probably been still greater. In that proportion or
disposition of qualities which constitutes the ideal character, the
gentler and more benevolent virtues have obtained, through Christianity,
the foremost place. In the first and purest period they were especially
supreme; but in the third century a great ascetic movement arose, which
gradually brought a new type of character into the ascendant, and diverted
the enthusiasm of the Church into new channels.


Tertullian, writing in the second century, contrasts, in a well-known
passage, the Christians of his day with the gymnosophists or hermits of
India, declaring that, unlike these, the Christians did not fly from the
world, but mixed with Pagans in the forum, in the market-places, in the
public baths, in the ordinary business of life.(210) But although the life
of the hermit or the monk was unknown in the Church for more than two
hundred years after its foundation, we may detect, almost from the
earliest time, a tone of feeling which produces it. The central
conceptions of the monastic system are the meritoriousness of complete
abstinence from all sexual intercourse, and of complete renunciation of
the world. The first of these notions appeared in the very earliest
period, in the respect attached to the condition of virginity, which was
always regarded as sacred, and especially esteemed in the clergy, though
for a long time it was not imposed as an obligation. The second was shown
in the numerous efforts that were made to separate the Christian community
as far as possible from the society in which it existed. Nothing could be
more natural than that, when the increase and triumph of the Church had
thrown the bulk of the Christians into active political or military
labour, some should, as an exercise of piety, have endeavoured to imitate
the separation from the world which was once the common condition of all.
Besides this, a movement of asceticism had long been raging like a mental
epidemic through the world. Among the Jews—whose law, from the great
stress it laid upon marriage, the excellence of the rapid multiplication
of population, and the hope of being the ancestor of the Messiah, was
peculiarly repugnant to monastic conceptions—the Essenes had constituted a
complete monastic society, abstaining from marriage and separating
themselves wholly from the world. In Rome, whose practical genius was, if
possible, even more opposed than that of the Jews to an inactive
monasticism, and even among those philosophers who most represented its
active and practical spirit, the same tendency was shown. The Cynics of
the later Empire recommended a complete renunciation of domestic ties, and
a life spent mainly in the contemplation of wisdom. The Egyptian
philosophy, that soon after acquired an ascendancy in Europe, anticipated
still more closely the monastic ideal. On the outskirts of the Church, the
many sects of Gnostics and Manicheans all held under different forms the
essential evil of matter. The Docetæ, following the same notion, denied
the reality of the body of Christ. The Montanists and the Novatians
surpassed and stimulated the private penances of the orthodox.(211) The
soil was thus thoroughly prepared for a great outburst of asceticism,
whenever the first seed was sown. This was done during the Decian
persecution. Paul, the hermit, who fled to the desert during that
persecution, is said to have been the first of the tribe.(212) Antony, who
speedily followed, greatly extended the movement, and in a few years the
hermits had become a mighty nation. Persecution, which in the first
instance drove great numbers as fugitives to the deserts, soon aroused a
passionate religious enthusiasm that showed itself in an ardent desire for
those sufferings which were believed to lead directly to heaven; and this
enthusiasm, after the peace of Constantine, found its natural vent and
sphere in the macerations of the desert life. The imaginations of men were
fascinated by the poetic circumstances of that life which St. Jerome most
eloquently embellished. Women were pre-eminent in recruiting for it. The
same spirit that had formerly led the wife of the Pagan official to
entertain secret relations with the Christian priests, now led the wife of
the Christian to become the active agent of the monks. While the father
designed his son for the army, or for some civil post, the mother was
often straining every nerve to induce him to become a hermit. The monks
secretly corresponded with her, they skilfully assumed the functions of
education, in order that they might influence the young; and sometimes, to
evade the precautions or the anger of the father, they concealed their
profession, and assumed the garb of lay pedagogues.(213) The pulpit, which
had almost superseded, and immeasurably transcended in influence, the
chairs of the rhetoricians, and which was filled by such men as Ambrose,
Augustine, Chrysostom, Basil, and the Gregories, was continually exerted
in the same cause, and the extreme luxury of the great cities produced a
violent, but not unnatural, reaction of asceticism. The dignity of the
monastic position, which sometimes brought men who had been simple
peasants into connection with the emperors, the security it furnished to
fugitive slaves and criminals, the desire of escaping from those fiscal
burdens which, in the corrupt and oppressive administration of the Empire,
had acquired an intolerable weight, and especially the barbarian
invasions, which produced every variety of panic and wretchedness,
conspired with the new religious teaching in peopling the desert. A
theology of asceticism was speedily formed. The examples of Elijah and
Elisha, to the first of whom, by a bold flight of imagination, some later
Carmelites ascribed the origin of their order, and the more recent
instance of the Baptist, were at once adduced. To an ordinary layman the
life of an anchorite might appear in the highest degree opposed to that of
the Teacher who began His mission at a marriage feast; who was continually
reproached by His enemies for the readiness with which He mixed with the
world, and who selected from the female sex some of His purest and most
devoted followers; but the monkish theologians, avoiding, for the most
part, these topics, dilated chiefly on His immaculate birth, His virgin
mother, His life of celibacy, His exhortation to the rich young man. The
fact that St. Peter, to whom a general primacy was already ascribed, was
unquestionably married was a difficulty which was in a measure met by a
tradition that both he, and the other married apostles, abstained from
intercourse with their wives after their conversion.(214) St. Paul,
however, was probably unmarried, and his writings showed a decided
preference for the unmarried state, which the ingenuity of theologians
also discovered in some quarters where it might be least expected. Thus,
St. Jerome assures us that when the clean animals entered the ark by
sevens, and the unclean ones by pairs, the odd number typified the
celibate, and the even the married condition. Even of the unclean animals
but one pair of each kind was admitted, lest they should perpetrate the
enormity of second marriage.(215) Ecclesiastical tradition sustained the
tendency, and Saint James, as he has been portrayed by Hegesippus, became
a kind of ideal saint, a faithful picture of what, according to the
notions of theologians, was the true type of human nobility. He “was
consecrated,” it was said, “from his mother’s womb. He drank neither wine
nor fermented liquors, and abstained from animal food. A razor never came
upon his head. He never anointed himself with oil, or used a bath. He
alone was allowed to enter the sanctuary. He never wore woollen, but
linen, garments. He was in the habit of entering the temple alone, and was
often found upon his bended knees, and interceding for the forgiveness of
the people, so that his knees became as hard as a camel’s.”(216)

The progress of the monastic movement, as has been truly said, “was not
less rapid or universal than that of Christianity itself.”(217) Of the
actual number of the anchorites, those who are acquainted with the extreme
unveracity of the first historians of the movement will hesitate to speak
with confidence. It is said that St. Pachomius, who, early in the fourth
century, founded the cœnobitic mode of life, enlisted under his
jurisdiction 7,000 monks;(218) that in the days of St. Jerome nearly
50,000 monks were sometimes assembled at the Easter festivals;(219) that
in the desert of Nitria alone there were, in the fourth century, 5,000
monks under a single abbot;(220) that an Egyptian city named Oxyrynchus
devoted itself almost exclusively to the ascetic life, and included 20,000
virgins and 10,000 monks;(221) that St. Serapion presided over 10,000
monks;(222) and that, towards the close of the fourth century, the
monastic population in a great part of Egypt was nearly equal to the
population of the cities.(223) Egypt was the parent of monachism, and it
was there that it attained both its extreme development and its most
austere severity; but there was very soon scarcely any Christian country
in which a similar movement was not ardently propagated. St. Athanasius
and St. Zeno are said to have introduced it into Italy,(224) where it soon
afterwards received a great stimulus from St. Jerome. St. Hilarion
instituted the first monks in Palestine, and he lived to see many
thousands subject to his rule, and towards the close of his life to plant
monachism in Cyprus. Eustathius, Bishop of Sebastia, spread it through
Armenia, Paphlagonia, and Pontus. St. Basil laboured along the wild shores
of the Euxine. St. Martin of Tours founded the first monastery in Gaul,
and 2,000 monks attended his funeral. Unrecorded missionaries planted the
new institution in the heart of Æthiopia, amid the little islands that
stud the Mediterranean, in the secluded valleys of Wales and Ireland.(225)
But even more wonderful than the many thousands who thus abandoned the
world is the reverence with which they were regarded by those who, by
their attainments or their character, would seem most opposed to the
monastic ideal. No one had more reason than Augustine to know the danger
of enforced celibacy, but St. Augustine exerted all his energies to spread
monasticism through his diocese. St. Ambrose, who was by nature an acute
statesman; St. Jerome and St. Basil, who were ambitious scholars; St.
Chrysostom, who was pre-eminently formed to sway the refined throngs of a
metropolis—all exerted their powers in favour of the life of solitude, and
the last three practised it themselves. St. Arsenius, who was surpassed by
no one in the extravagance of his penances, had held a high office at the
court of the Emperor Arcadius. Pilgrims wandered among the deserts,
collecting accounts of the miracles and the austerities of the saints,
which filled Christendom with admiration; and the strange biographies
which were thus formed, wild and grotesque as they are, enable us to
realise very vividly the general features of the anchorite life which
became the new ideal of the Christian world.(226)

There is, perhaps, no phase in the moral history of mankind of a deeper or
more painful interest than this ascetic epidemic. A hideous, sordid, and
emaciated maniac, without knowledge, without patriotism, without natural
affection, passing his life in a long routine of useless and atrocious
self-torture, and quailing before the ghastly phantoms of his delirious
brain, had become the ideal of the nations which had known the writings of
Plato and Cicero and the lives of Socrates and Cato. For about two
centuries, the hideous maceration of the body was regarded as the highest
proof of excellence. St. Jerome declares, with a thrill of admiration, how
he had seen a monk, who for thirty years had lived exclusively on a small
portion of barley bread and of muddy water; another, who lived in a hole
and never ate more than five figs for his daily repast;(227) a third, who
cut his hair only on Easter Sunday, who never washed his clothes, who
never changed his tunic till it fell to pieces, who starved himself till
his eyes grew dim, and his skin “like a pumice stone,” and whose merits,
shown by these austerities, Homer himself would be unable to recount.(228)
For six months, it is said, St. Macarius of Alexandria slept in a marsh,
and exposed his body naked to the stings of venomous flies. He was
accustomed to carry about with him eighty pounds of iron. His disciple,
St. Eusebius, carried one hundred and fifty pounds of iron, and lived for
three years in a dried-up well. St. Sabinus would only eat corn that had
become rotten by remaining for a month in water. St. Besarion spent forty
days and nights in the middle of thorn-bushes, and for forty years never
lay down when he slept,(229) which last penance was also during fifteen
years practised by St. Pachomius.(230) Some saints, like St. Marcian,
restricted themselves to one meal a day, so small that they continually
suffered the pangs of hunger.(231) Of one of them it is related that his
daily food was six ounces of bread and a few herbs; that he was never seen
to recline on a mat or bed, or even to place his limbs easily for sleep;
but that sometimes, from excess of weariness, his eyes would close at his
meals, and the food would drop from his mouth.(232) Other saints, however,
ate only every second day;(233) while many, if we could believe the
monkish historian, abstained for whole weeks from all nourishment.(234)
St. Macarius of Alexandria is said during an entire week to have never
lain down, or eaten anything but a few uncooked herbs on Sunday.(235) Of
another famous saint, named John, it is asserted that for three whole
years he stood in prayer, leaning upon a rock; that during all that time
he never sat or lay down, and that his only nourishment was the Sacrament,
which was brought him on Sundays.(236) Some of the hermits lived in
deserted dens of wild beasts, others in dried-up wells, while others found
a congenial resting-place among the tombs.(237) Some disdained all
clothes, and crawled abroad like the wild beasts, covered only by their
matted hair. In Mesopotamia, and part of Syria, there existed a sect known
by the name of “Grazers,” who never lived under a roof, who ate neither
flesh nor bread, but who spent their time for ever on the mountain side,
and ate grass like cattle.(238) The cleanliness of the body was regarded
as a pollution of the soul, and the saints who were most admired had
become one hideous mass of clotted filth. St. Athanasius relates with
enthusiasm how St. Antony, the patriarch of monachism, had never, to
extreme old age, been guilty of washing his feet.(239) The less constant
St. Pœmen fell into this habit for the first time when a very old man,
and, with a glimmering of common sense, defended himself against the
astonished monks by saying that he had “learnt to kill not his body, but
his passions.”(240) St. Abraham the hermit, however, who lived for fifty
years after his conversion, rigidly refused from that date to wash either
his face or his feet.(241) He was, it is said, a person of singular
beauty, and his biographer somewhat strangely remarks that “his face
reflected the purity of his soul.”(242) St. Ammon had never seen himself
naked.(243) A famous virgin named Silvia, though she was sixty years old
and though bodily sickness was a consequence of her habits, resolutely
refused, on religious principles, to wash any part of her body except her
fingers.(244) St. Euphraxia joined a convent of one hundred and thirty
nuns, who never washed their feet, and who shuddered at the mention of a
bath.(245) An anchorite once imagined that he was mocked by an illusion of
the devil, as he saw gliding before him through the desert a naked
creature black with filth and years of exposure, and with white hair
floating to the wind. It was a once beautiful woman, St. Mary of Egypt,
who had thus, during forty-seven years, been expiating her sins.(246) The
occasional decadence of the monks into habits of decency was a subject of
much reproach. “Our fathers,” said the abbot Alexander, looking mournfully
back to the past, “never washed their faces, but we frequent the public
baths.”(247) It was related of one monastery in the desert, that the monks
suffered greatly from want of water to drink; but at the prayer of the
abbot Theodosius a copious stream was produced. But soon some monks,
tempted by the abundant supply, diverged from their old austerity, and
persuaded the abbot to avail himself of the stream for the construction of
a bath. The bath was made. Once, and once only, did the monks enjoy their
ablutions, when the stream ceased to flow. Prayers, tears, and fastings
were in vain. A whole year passed. At last the abbot destroyed the bath,
which was the object of the Divine displeasure, and the waters flowed
afresh.(248) But of all the evidences of the loathsome excesses to which
this spirit was carried, the life of St. Simeon Stylites is probably the
most remarkable. It would be difficult to conceive a more horrible or
disgusting picture than is given of the penances by which that saint
commenced his ascetic career. He had bound a rope around him so that it
became imbedded in his flesh, which putrefied around it. “A horrible
stench, intolerable to the bystanders, exhaled from his body and worms
dropped from him whenever he moved, and they filled his bed.” Sometimes he
left the monastery and slept in a dry well, inhabited, it is said, by
dæmons. He built successively three pillars, the last being sixty feet
high and scarcely two cubits in circumference, and on this pillar, during
thirty years, he remained exposed to every change of climate, ceaselessly
and rapidly bending his body in prayer almost to the level of his feet. A
spectator attempted to number these rapid motions, but desisted from
weariness when he had counted 1,244. For a whole year, we are told, St.
Simeon stood upon one leg, the other being covered with hideous ulcers,
while his biographer was commissioned to stand by his side, to pick up the
worms that fell from his body, and to replace them in the sores, the saint
saying to the worm, “Eat what God has given you.” From every quarter
pilgrims of every degree thronged to do him homage. A crowd of prelates
followed him to the grave. A brilliant star is said to have shone
miraculously over his pillar; the general voice of mankind pronounced him
to be the highest model of a Christian saint; and several other anchorites
imitated or emulated his penances.(249)

There is, if I mistake not, no department of literature the importance of
which is more inadequately realised than the lives of the saints. Even
where they have no direct historical value, they have a moral value of the
very highest order. They may not tell us with accuracy what men did at
particular epochs; but they display with the utmost vividness what they
thought and felt, their measure of probability, and their ideal of
excellence. Decrees of councils, elaborate treatises of theologians,
creeds, liturgies, and canons, are all but the husks of religious history.
They reveal what was professed and argued before the world, but not that
which was realised in the imagination or enshrined in the heart. The
history of art, which in its ruder day reflected with delicate fidelity
the fleeting images of an anthropomorphic age, is in this respect
invaluable; but still more important is that vast Christian mythology,
which grew up spontaneously from the intellectual condition of the time,
included all its dearest hopes, wishes, ideals, and imaginings, and
constituted, during many centuries, the popular literature of Christendom.
In the case of the saints of the deserts, there can be no question that
the picture—which is drawn chiefly by eye-witnesses—however grotesque may
be some of its details, is in its leading features historically true. It
is true that self-torture was for some centuries regarded as the chief
measure of human excellence, that tens of thousands of the most devoted
men fled to the desert to reduce themselves by maceration nearly to the
condition of the brute, and that this odious superstition had acquired an
almost absolute ascendancy in the ethics of the age. The examples of
asceticism I have cited are but a few out of many hundreds, and volumes
might be written, and have been written, detailing them. Till the reform
of St. Benedict, the ideal was on the whole unchanged. The Western monks,
from the conditions of their climate, were constitutionally incapable of
rivalling the abstinence of the Egyptian anchorites; but their conception
of supreme excellence was much the same, and they laboured to compensate
for their inferiority in penances by claiming some superiority in
miracles. From the time of St. Pachomius, the cœnobitic life was adopted
by most monks; but the Eastern monasteries, with the important exception
of a vow of obedience, differed little from a collection of hermitages.
They were in the deserts; the monks commonly lived in separate cells; they
kept silence at their repasts; they rivalled one another in the
extravagance of their penances. A few feeble efforts were indeed made by
St. Jerome and others to moderate austerities, which frequently led to
insanity and suicide, to check the turbulence of certain wandering monks,
who were accustomed to defy the ecclesiastical authorities, and especially
to suppress monastic mendicancy, which had appeared prominently among some
heretical sects. The orthodox monks commonly employed themselves in
weaving mats of palm-leaves; but, living in the deserts, with no wants,
they speedily sank into a listless apathy; and the most admired were those
who, like Simeon Stylites, and the hermit John, of whom I have already
spoken, were most exclusively devoted to their superstition. Diversities
of individual character were, however, vividly displayed. Many anchorites,
without knowledge, passions, or imagination, having fled from servile toil
to the calm of the wilderness, passed the long hours in sleep or in a
mechanical routine of prayer, and their inert and languid existences,
prolonged to the extreme of old age, closed at last by a tranquil and
almost animal death. Others made their cells by the clear fountains and
clustering palm-trees of some oasis in the desert, and a blooming garden
arose beneath their toil. The numerous monks who followed St. Serapion
devoted themselves largely to agriculture, and sent shiploads of corn for
the benefit of the poor.(250) Of one old hermit it is related that, such
was the cheerfulness of his mind, that every sorrow was dispelled by his
presence, and the weary and the heartbroken were consoled by a few words
from his lips.(251) More commonly, however, the hermit’s cell was the
scene of perpetual mourning. Tears and sobs, and frantic strugglings with
imaginary dæmons, and paroxysms of religious despair, were the texture of
his life, and the dread of spiritual enemies, and of that death which his
superstition had rendered so terrible, embittered every hour of his
existence.(252) The solace of intellectual occupations was rarely resorted
to. “The duty,” said St. Jerome, “of a monk is not to teach, but to
weep.”(253) A cultivated and disciplined mind was the least subject to
those hallucinations, which were regarded as the highest evidence of
Divine favour;(254) and although in an age when the passion for asceticism
was general, many scholars became ascetics, the great majority of the
early monks appear to have been men who were not only absolutely ignorant
themselves, but who also looked upon learning with positive disfavour. St.
Antony, the true founder of monachism, refused when a boy to learn
letters, because it would bring him into too great intercourse with other
boys.(255) At a time when St. Jerome had suffered himself to feel a deep
admiration for the genius of Cicero, he was, as he himself tells us, borne
in the night before the tribunal of Christ, accused of being rather a
Ciceronian than a Christian, and severely flagellated by the angels.(256)
This saint, however, afterwards modified his opinions about the Pagan
writings, and he was compelled to defend himself at length against his
more jealous brethren, who accused him of defiling his writings with
quotations from Pagan authors, of employing some monks in copying Cicero,
and of explaining Virgil to some children at Bethlehem.(257) Of one monk
it is related that, being especially famous as a linguist, he made it his
penance to remain perfectly silent for thirty years;(258) of another, that
having discovered a few books in the cell of a brother hermit, he
reproached the student with having thus defrauded of their property the
widow and the orphan;(259) of others, that their only books were copies of
the New Testament, which they sold to relieve the poor.(260)

With such men, living such a life, visions and miracles were necessarily
habitual. All the elements of hallucination were there. Ignorant and
superstitious, believing as a matter of religious conviction that
countless dæmons filled the air, attributing every fluctuation of his
temperament, and every exceptional phenomenon in surrounding nature, to
spiritual agency; delirious, too, from solitude and long continued
austerities, the hermit soon mistook for palpable realities the phantoms
of his brain. In the ghastly gloom of the sepulchre, where, amid
mouldering corpses, he took up his abode; in the long hours of the night
of penance, when the desert wind sobbed around his lonely cell, and the
cries of wild beasts were borne upon his ear, visible forms of lust or
terror appeared to haunt him, and strange dramas were enacted by those who
were contending for his soul. An imagination strained to the utmost limit,
acting upon a frame attenuated and diseased by macerations, produced
bewildering psychological phenomena, paroxysms of conflicting passions,
sudden alternations of joy and anguish, which he regarded as manifestly
supernatural. Sometimes, in the very ecstasy of his devotion, the memory
of old scenes would crowd upon his mind. The shady groves and soft
voluptuous gardens of his native city would arise, and, kneeling alone
upon the burning sand, he seemed to see around him the fair groups of
dancing-girls, on whose warm, undulating limbs and wanton smiles his
youthful eyes had too fondly dwelt. Sometimes his temptation sprang from
remembered sounds. The sweet, licentious songs of other days came floating
on his ear, and his heart was thrilled with the passions of the past. And
then the scene would change. As his lips were murmuring the psalter, his
imagination, fired perhaps by the music of some martial psalm, depicted
the crowded amphitheatre. The throng and passion and mingled cries of
eager thousands were present to his mind, and the fierce joy of the
gladiators passed through the tumult of his dream.(261) The simplest
incident came at last to suggest diabolical influence. An old hermit,
weary and fainting upon his journey, once thought how refreshing would be
a draught of the honey of wild bees of the desert. At that moment his eye
fell upon a rock on which they had built a hive. He passed on with a
shudder and an exorcism, for he believed it to be a temptation of the
devil.(262) But most terrible of all were the struggles of young and
ardent men, through whose veins the hot blood of passion continually
flowed, physically incapable of a life of celibacy, and with all that
proneness to hallucination which a southern sun engenders, who were borne
on the wave of enthusiasm to the desert life. In the arms of Syrian or
African brides, whose soft eyes answered love with love, they might have
sunk to rest, but in the lonely wilderness no peace could ever visit their
souls. The Lives of the Saints paint with an appalling vividness the
agonies of their struggle. Multiplying with frantic energy the macerations
of the body, beating their breasts with anguish, the tears for ever
streaming from their eyes, imagining themselves continually haunted by
ever-changing forms of deadly beauty, which acquired a greater vividness
from the very passion with which they resisted them, their struggles not
unfrequently ended in insanity and in suicide. It is related that when St.
Pachomius and St. Palæmon were conversing together in the desert, a young
monk, with his countenance distracted with madness, rushed into their
presence, and, in a voice broken with convulsive sobs, poured out his tale
of sorrows. A woman, he said, had entered his cell, had seduced him by her
artifices, and then vanished miraculously in the air, leaving him half
dead upon the ground;—and then with a wild shriek the monk broke away from
the saintly listeners. Impelled, as they imagined, by an evil spirit, he
rushed across the desert, till he arrived at the next village, and there,
leaping into the open furnace of the public baths, he perished in the
flames.(263) Strange stories were told among the monks of revulsions of
passion even in the most advanced. Of one monk especially, who had long
been regarded as a pattern of asceticism, but who had suffered himself to
fall into that self-complacency which was very common among the
anchorites, it was told that one evening a fainting woman appeared at the
door of his cell, and implored him to give her shelter, and not permit her
to be devoured by the wild beasts. In an evil hour he yielded to her
prayer. With all the aspect of profound reverence she won his regards, and
at last ventured to lay her hand upon him. But that touch convulsed his
frame. Passions long slumbering and forgotten rushed with impetuous fury
through his veins. In a paroxysm of fierce love, he sought to clasp the
woman to his heart, but she vanished from his sight, and a chorus of
dæmons, with peals of laughter, exulted over his fall. The sequel of the
story, as it is told by the monkish writer, is, I think, of a very high
order of artistic merit. The fallen hermit did not seek, as might have
been expected, by penance and prayers to renew his purity. That moment of
passion and of shame had revealed in him a new nature, and severed him
irrevocably from the hopes and feelings of the ascetic life. The fair form
that had arisen upon his dream, though he knew it to be a deception luring
him to destruction, still governed his heart. He fled from the desert,
plunged anew into the world, avoided all intercourse with the monks, and
followed the light of that ideal beauty even into the jaws of hell.(264)

Anecdotes of this kind, circulated among the monks, contributed to
heighten the feelings of terror with which they regarded all communication
with the other sex. But to avoid such communication was sometimes very
difficult. Few things are more striking, in the early historians of the
movement we are considering, than the manner in which narratives of the
deepest tragical interest alternate with extremely whimsical accounts of
the profound admiration with which the female devotees regarded the most
austere anchorites, and the unwearied perseverance with which they
endeavoured to force themselves upon their notice. Some women seem in this
respect to have been peculiarly fortunate. St. Melania, who devoted a
great portion of her fortune to the monks, accompanied by the historian
Rufinus, made, near the end of the fourth century, a long pilgrimage
through the Syrian and Egyptian hermitages.(265) But with many of the
hermits it was a rule never to look upon the face of any woman, and the
number of years they had escaped this contamination was commonly stated as
a conspicuous proof of their excellence. St. Basil would only speak to a
woman under extreme necessity.(266) St. John of Lycopolis had not seen a
woman for forty-eight years.(267) A tribune was sent by his wife on a
pilgrimage to St. John the hermit to implore him to allow her to visit
him, her desire being so intense that she would probably, in the opinion
of her husband, die if it were ungratified. At last the hermit told his
suppliant that he would that night visit his wife when she was in bed in
her house. The tribune brought this strange message to his wife, who that
night saw the hermit in a dream.(268) A young Roman girl made a pilgrimage
from Italy to Alexandria, to look upon the face and obtain the prayers of
St. Arsenius, into whose presence she forced herself. Quailing beneath his
rebuffs, she flung herself at his feet, imploring him with tears to grant
her only request—to remember her, and to pray for her. “Remember you!”
cried the indignant saint; “it shall be the prayer of my life that I may
forget you.” The poor girl sought consolation from the Archbishop of
Alexandria, who comforted her by assuring her that, though she belonged to
the sex by which dæmons commonly tempt saints, he doubted not the hermit
would pray for her soul, though he would try to forget her face.(269)
Sometimes this female enthusiasm took another and a more subtle form, and
on more than one occasion women were known to attire themselves as men,
and to pass their lives undisturbed as anchorites. Among others, St.
Pelagia, who had been the most beautiful, and one of the most dangerously
seductive actresses of Antioch, having been somewhat strangely converted,
was appointed by the bishops to live in penance with an elderly virgin of
irreproachable piety; but, impelled, we are told, by her desire for a more
austere life, she fled from her companion, assumed a male attire, took
refuge among the monks on the Mount of Olives, and, with something of the
skill of her old profession, supported her feigned character so
consistently that she acquired great renown, and it was only (it is said)
after her death that the saints discovered who had been living among

The foregoing anecdotes and observations will, I hope, have given a
sufficiently clear idea of the general nature of the monastic life in its
earliest phase, and also of the writings it produced. We may now proceed
to examine the ways in which this mode of life affected both the ideal
type and the realised condition of Christian morals. And in the first
place, it is manifest that the proportion of virtues was altered. If an
impartial person were to glance over the ethics of the New Testament, and
were asked what was the central and distinctive virtue to which the sacred
writers most continually referred, he would doubtless answer that it was
that which is described as love, charity, or philanthropy. If he were to
apply a similar scrutiny to the writings of the fourth and fifth
centuries, he would answer that the cardinal virtue of the religious type
was not love, but chastity. And this chastity, which was regarded as the
ideal state, was not the purity of an undefiled marriage. It was the
absolute suppression of the whole sensual side of our nature. The chief
form of virtue, the central conception of the saintly life, was a
perpetual struggle against all carnal impulses, by men who altogether
refused the compromise of marriage. From this fact, if I mistake not, some
interesting and important consequences may be deduced.

In the first place, religion gradually assumed a very sombre hue. The
business of the saint was to eradicate a natural appetite, to attain a
condition which was emphatically abnormal. The depravity of human nature,
especially the essential evil of the body, was felt with a degree of
intensity that could never have been attained by moralists who were
occupied mainly with transient or exceptional vices, such as envy, anger,
or cruelty. And in addition to the extreme inveteracy of the appetite
which it was desired to eradicate, it should be remembered that a somewhat
luxurious and indulgent life, even when that indulgence is not itself
distinctly evil, even when it has a tendency to mollify the character, has
naturally the effect of strengthening the animal passions, and is
therefore directly opposed to the ascetic ideal. The consequence of this
was first of all a very deep sense of the habitual and innate depravity of
human nature; and, in the next place, a very strong association of the
idea of pleasure with that of vice. All this necessarily flowed from the
supreme value placed upon virginity. The tone of calm and joyousness that
characterises Greek philosophy, the almost complete absence of all sense
of struggle and innate sin that it displays, is probably in a very large
degree to be ascribed to the fact that, in the department of morals we are
considering, Greek moralists made no serious efforts to improve our
nature, and Greek public opinion acquiesced, without scandal, in an almost
boundless indulgence of illicit pleasures.

But while the great prominence at this time given to the conflicts of the
ascetic life threw a dark shade upon the popular estimate of human nature,
it contributed, I think, very largely to sustain and deepen that strong
conviction of the freedom of the human will which the Catholic Church has
always so strenuously upheld; for there is, probably, no other form of
moral conflict in which men are so habitually and so keenly sensible of
that distinction between our will and our desires, upon the reality of
which all moral freedom ultimately depends. It had also, I imagine,
another result, which it is difficult to describe with the same precision.
What may be called a strong animal nature—a nature, that is, in which the
passions are in vigorous, and at the same time healthy, action—is that in
which we should most naturally expect to find several moral qualities.
Good humour, frankness, generosity, active courage, sanguine energy,
buoyancy of temper, are the usual and appropriate accompaniments of a
vigorous animal temperament, and they are much more rarely found either in
natures that are essentially feeble and effeminate, or in natures which
have been artificially emasculated by penances, distorted from their
original tendency, and habitually held under severe control. The ideal
type of Catholicism being, on account of the supreme value placed upon
virginity, of the latter kind, the qualities I have mentioned have always
ranked very low in the Catholic conceptions of excellence, and the steady
tendency of Protestant and industrial civilisation has been to elevate

I do not know whether the reader will regard these speculations—which I
advance with some diffidence—as far-fetched and fanciful. Our knowledge of
the physical antecedents of different moral qualities is so scanty that it
is difficult to speak on these matters with much confidence; but few
persons, I think, can have failed to observe that the physical
temperaments I have described differ not simply in the one great fact of
the intensity of the animal passions, but also in the aptitude of each to
produce a distinct moral type, or, in other words, in the harmony of each
with several qualities, both good and evil. A doctrine, therefore, which
connects one of these two temperaments indissolubly with the moral ideal,
affects the appreciation of a large number of moral qualities. But
whatever may be thought of the moral results springing from the physical
temperament which asceticism produced, there can be little controversy as
to the effects springing from the condition of life which it enjoined.
Severance from the interests and affections of all around him was the
chief object of the anchorite, and the first consequence of the prominence
of asceticism was a profound discredit thrown upon the domestic virtues.

The extent to which this discredit was carried, the intense hardness of
heart and ingratitude manifested by the saints towards those who were
bound to them by the closest of earthly ties, is known to few who have not
studied the original literature on the subject. These things are commonly
thrown into the shade by those modern sentimentalists who delight in
idealising the devotees of the past. To break by his ingratitude the heart
of the mother who had borne him, to persuade the wife who adored him that
it was her duty to separate from him for ever, to abandon his children,
uncared for and beggars, to the mercies of the world, was regarded by the
true hermit as the most acceptable offering he could make to his God. His
business was to save his own soul. The serenity of his devotion would be
impaired by the discharge of the simplest duties to his family. Evagrius,
when a hermit in the desert, received, after a long interval, letters from
his father and mother. He could not bear that the equable tenor of his
thoughts should be disturbed by the recollection of those who loved him,
so he cast the letters unread into the fire.(271) A man named Mutius,
accompanied by his only child, a little boy of eight years old, abandoned
his possessions and demanded admission into a monastery. The monks
received him, but they proceeded to discipline his heart. “He had already
forgotten that he was rich; he must next be taught to forget that he was a
father.”(272) His little child was separated from him, clothed in dirty
rags, subjected to every form of gross and wanton hardship, beaten,
spurned, and ill treated. Day after day the father was compelled to look
upon his boy wasting away with sorrow, his once happy countenance for ever
stained with tears, distorted by sobs of anguish. But yet, says the
admiring biographer, “though he saw this day by day, such was his love for
Christ, and for the virtue of obedience, that the father’s heart was rigid
and unmoved. He thought little of the tears of his child. He was anxious
only for his own humility and perfection in virtue.”(273) At last the
abbot told him to take his child and throw it into the river. He
proceeded, without a murmur or apparent pang, to obey, and it was only at
the last moment that the monks interposed, and on the very brink of the
river saved the child. Mutius afterwards rose to a high position among the
ascetics, and was justly regarded as having displayed in great perfection
the temper of a saint.(274) An inhabitant of Thebes once came to the abbot
Sisoes, and asked to be made a monk. The abbot asked if he had any one
belonging to him. He answered, “A son.” “Take your son,” rejoined the old
man, “and throw him into the river, and then you may become a monk.” The
father hastened to fulfil the command, and the deed was almost consummated
when a messenger sent by Sisoes revoked the order.(275)

Sometimes the same lesson was taught under the form of a miracle. A man
had once deserted his three children to become a monk. Three years after,
he determined to bring them into the monastery, but, on returning to his
home, found that the two eldest had died during his absence. He came to
his abbot, bearing in his arms his youngest child, who was still little
more than an infant. The abbot turned to him and said, “Do you love this
child?” The father answered, “Yes.” Again the abbot said, “Do you love it
dearly?” The father answered as before. “Then take the child,” said the
abbot, “and throw it into the fire upon yonder hearth.” The father did as
he was commanded, and the child remained unharmed amid the flames.(276)
But it was especially in their dealings with their female relations that
this aspect of the monastic character was vividly displayed. In this case
the motive was not simply to mortify family affections—it was also to
guard against the possible danger resulting from the presence of a woman.
The fine flower of that saintly purity might have been disturbed by the
sight of a mother’s or a sister’s face. The ideal of one age appears
sometimes too grotesque for the caricature of another; and it is curious
to observe how pale and weak is the picture which Molière drew of the
affected prudery of Tartuffe,(277) when compared with the narratives that
are gravely propounded in the Lives of the Saints. When the abbot Sisoes
had become a very old, feeble, and decrepit man, his disciples exhorted
him to leave the desert for an inhabited country. Sisoes seemed to yield;
but he stipulated, as a necessary condition, that in his new abode he
should never be compelled to encounter the peril and perturbation of
looking on a woman’s face. To such a nature, of course, the desert alone
was suitable, and the old man was suffered to die in peace.(278) A monk
was once travelling with his mother—in itself a most unusual
circumstance—and, having arrived at a bridgeless stream, it became
necessary for him to carry her across. To her surprise, he began carefully
wrapping up his hands in cloths; and upon her asking the reason, he
explained that he was alarmed lest he should be unfortunate enough to
touch her, and thereby disturb the equilibrium of his nature.(279) The
sister of St. John of Calama loved him dearly, and earnestly implored him
that she might look upon his face once more before she died. On his
persistent refusal, she declared that she would make a pilgrimage to him
in the desert. The alarmed and perplexed saint at last wrote to her,
promising to visit her if she would engage to relinquish her design. He
went to her in disguise, received a cup of water from her hands, and came
away without being discovered. She wrote to him, reproaching him with not
having fulfilled his promise. He answered her that he had indeed visited
her, that “by the mercy of Jesus Christ he had not been recognised,” and
that she must never see him again.(280) The mother of St. Theodorus came
armed with letters from the bishops to see her son, but he implored his
abbot, St. Pachomius, to permit him to decline the interview; and, finding
all her efforts in vain, the poor woman retired into a convent, together
with her daughter, who had made a similar expedition with similar
results.(281) The mother of St. Marcus persuaded his abbot to command the
saint to go out to her. Placed in a dilemma between the sin of
disobedience and the perils of seeing his mother, St. Marcus extricated
himself by an ingenious device. He went to his mother with his face
disguised and his eyes shut. The mother did not recognise her son. The son
did not see his mother.(282) The sister of St. Pior in like manner induced
the abbot of that saint to command him to admit her to his presence. The
command was obeyed, but St. Pior resolutely kept his eyes shut during the
interview.(283) St. Pœmen and his six brothers had all deserted their
mother to cultivate the perfections of an ascetic life. But ingratitude
can seldom quench the love of a mother’s heart, and the old woman, now
bent by infirmities, went alone into the Egyptian desert to see once more
the children she so dearly loved. She caught sight of them as they were
about to leave their cell for the church, but they immediately ran back
into the cell, and, before her tottering steps could reach it, one of her
sons rushed forward and closed the door in her face. She remained outside
weeping bitterly. St. Pœmen then, coming to the door, but without opening
it, said, “Why do you, who are already stricken with age, pour forth such
cries and lamentations?” But she, recognising the voice of her son,
answered, “It is because I long to see you, my sons. What harm could it do
you that I should see you? Am I not your mother? did I not give you suck?
I am now an old and wrinkled woman, and my heart is troubled at the sound
of your voices.”(284) The saintly brothers, however, refused to open their
door. They told their mother that she would see them after death; and the
biographer says she at last went away contented with the prospect. St.
Simeon Stylites, in this as in other respects, stands in the first line.
He had been passionately loved by his parents, and, if we may believe his
eulogist and biographer, he began his saintly career by breaking the heart
of his father, who died of grief at his flight. His mother, however,
lingered on. Twenty-seven years after his disappearance, at a period when
his austerities had made him famous, she heard for the first time where he
was, and hastened to visit him. But all her labour was in vain. No woman
was admitted within the precincts of his dwelling, and he refused to
permit her even to look upon his face. Her entreaties and tears were
mingled with words of bitter and eloquent reproach.(285) “My son,” she is
represented as having said, “why have you done this? I bore you in my
womb, and you have wrung my soul with grief. I gave you milk from my
breast, you have filled my eyes with tears. For the kisses I gave you, you
have given me the anguish of a broken heart; for all that I have done and
suffered for you, you have repaid me by the most cruel wrongs.” At last
the saint sent a message to tell her that she would soon see him. Three
days and three nights she had wept and entreated in vain, and now,
exhausted with grief and age and privation, she sank feebly to the ground
and breathed her last sigh before that inhospitable door. Then for the
first time the saint, accompanied by his followers, came out. He shed some
pious tears over the corpse of his murdered mother, and offered up a
prayer consigning her soul to heaven. Perhaps it was but fancy, perhaps
life was not yet wholly extinct, perhaps the story is but the invention of
the biographer; but a faint motion—which appears to have been regarded as
miraculous—is said to have passed over her prostrate form. Simeon once
more commended her soul to heaven, and then, amid the admiring murmurs of
his disciples, the saintly matricide returned to his devotions.

The glaring mendacity that characterises the Lives of the Catholic Saints,
probably to a greater extent than any other important branch of existing
literature, makes it not unreasonable to hope that many of the foregoing
anecdotes represent much less events that actually took place than ideal
pictures generated by the enthusiasm of the chroniclers. They are not,
however, on that account the less significant of the moral conceptions
which the ascetic period had created. The ablest men in the Christian
community vied with one another in inculcating as the highest form of duty
the abandonment of social ties and the mortification of domestic
affections. A few faint restrictions were indeed occasionally made.
Much—on which I shall hereafter touch—was written on the liberty of
husbands and wives deserting one another; and something was written on the
cases of children forsaking or abandoning their parents. At first, those
who, when children, were devoted to the monasteries by their parents,
without their own consent, were permitted, when of mature age, to return
to the world; and this liberty was taken from them for the first time by
the fourth Council of Toledo, in A.D. 633.(286) The Council of Gangra
condemned the heretic Eustathius for teaching that children might, through
religious motives, forsake their parents, and St. Basil wrote in the same
strain;(287) but cases of this kind of rebellion against parental
authority were continually recounted with admiration in the Lives of the
Saints, applauded by some of the leading Fathers, and virtually sanctioned
by a law of Justinian, which deprived parents of the power of either
restraining their children from entering monasteries, or disinheriting
them if they had done so without their consent.(288) St. Chrysostom
relates with enthusiasm the case of a young man who had been designed by
his father for the army, and who was lured away to a monastery.(289) The
eloquence of St. Ambrose is said to have been so seductive, that mothers
were accustomed to shut up their daughters to guard them against his
fascinations.(290) The position of affectionate parents was at this time
extremely painful. The touching language is still preserved, in which the
mother of Chrysostom—who had a distinguished part in the conversion of her
son—implored him, if he thought it his duty to fly to the desert life, at
least to postpone the act till she had died.(291) St. Ambrose devoted a
chapter to proving that, while those are worthy of commendation who enter
the monasteries with the approbation, those are still more worthy of
praise who do so against the wishes, of their parents; and he proceeded to
show how small were the penalties the latter could inflict when compared
with the blessings asceticism could bestow.(292) Even before the law of
Justinian, the invectives of the clergy were directed against those who
endeavoured to prevent their children flying to the desert. St. Chrysostom
explained to them that they would certainly be damned.(293) St. Ambrose
showed that, even in this world, they might not be unpunished. A girl, he
tells us, had resolved to enter into a convent, and as her relations were
expostulating with her on her intention, one of those present tried to
move her by the memory of her dead father, asking whether, if he were
still alive, he would have suffered her to remain unmarried. “Perhaps,”
she calmly answered, “it was for this very purpose he died, that he should
not throw any obstacle in my way.” Her words were more than an answer;
they were an oracle. The indiscreet questioner almost immediately died,
and the relations, shocked by the manifest providence, desisted from their
opposition, and even implored the young saint to accomplish her
design.(294) St. Jerome tells with rapturous enthusiasm of a little girl,
named Asella, who, when only twelve years old, devoted herself to the
religious life and refused to look on the face of any man, and whose
knees, by constant prayer, became at last like those of a camel.(295) A
famous widow, named Paula, upon the death of her husband, deserted her
family, listened with “dry eyes” to her children, who were imploring her
to stay, fled to the society of the monks at Jerusalem, made it her desire
that “she might die a beggar, and leave not one piece of money to her
son,” and, having dissipated the whole of her fortune in charities,
bequeathed to her children only the embarrassment of her debts.(296) It
was carefully inculcated that all money given or bequeathed to the poor,
or to the monks, produced spiritual benefit to the donors or testators,
but that no spiritual benefit sprang from money bestowed upon relations;
and the more pious minds recoiled from disposing of their property in a
manner that would not redound to the advantage of their souls. Sometimes
parents made it a dying request to their children that they would preserve
none of their property, but would bestow it all among the poor.(297) It
was one of the most honourable incidents of the life of St. Augustine,
that he, like Aurelius, Bishop of Carthage, refused to receive legacies or
donations which unjustly spoliated the relatives of the benefactor.(298)
Usually, however, to outrage the affections of the nearest and dearest
relations was not only regarded as innocent, but proposed as the highest
virtue. “A young man,” it was acutely said, “who has learnt to despise a
mother’s grief, will easily bear any other labour that is imposed upon
him.”(299) St. Jerome, when exhorting Heliodorus to desert his family and
become a hermit, expatiated with a fond minuteness on every form of
natural affection he desired him to violate. “Though your little nephew
twine his arms around your neck; though your mother, with dishevelled hair
and tearing her robe asunder, point to the breast with which she suckled
you; though your father fall down on the threshold before you, pass on
over your father’s body. Fly with tearless eyes to the banner of the
cross. In this matter cruelty is the only piety.... Your widowed sister
may throw her gentle arms around you.... Your father may implore you to
wait but a short time to bury those near to you, who will soon be no more;
your weeping mother may recall your childish days, and may point to her
shrunken breast and to her wrinkled brow. Those around you may tell you
that all the household rests upon you. Such chains as these, the love of
God and the fear of hell can easily break. You say that Scripture orders
you to obey your parents, but he who loves them more than Christ loses his
soul. The enemy brandishes a sword to slay me. Shall I think of a mother’s

The sentiment manifested in these cases continued to be displayed in later
ages. Thus, St. Gregory the Great assures us that a certain young boy,
though he had enrolled himself as a monk, was unable to repress his love
for his parents, and one night stole out secretly to visit them. But the
judgment of God soon marked the enormity of the offence. On coming back to
the monastery, he died that very day, and when he was buried, the earth
refused to receive so heinous a criminal. His body was repeatedly thrown
up from the grave, and it was only suffered to rest in peace when St.
Benedict had laid the Sacrament upon its breast.(301) One nun revealed, it
is said, after death, that she had been condemned for three days to the
fires of purgatory, because she had loved her mother too much.(302) Of
another saint it is recorded that his benevolence was such that he was
never known to be hard or inhuman to any one except his relations.(303)
St. Romuald, the founder of the Camaldolites, counted his father among his
spiritual children, and on one occasion punished him by flagellation.(304)
The first nun whom St. Francis of Assisi enrolled was a beautiful girl of
Assisi named Clara Scifi, with whom he had for some time carried on a
clandestine correspondence, and whose flight from her father’s home he
both counselled and planned.(305) As the first enthusiasm of asceticism
died away, what was lost in influence by the father was gained by the
priest. The confessional made this personage the confidant in the most
delicate secrets of domestic life. The supremacy of authority, of
sympathy, and sometimes even of affection, passed away beyond the domestic
circle, and, by establishing an absolute authority over the most secret
thoughts and feelings of nervous and credulous women, the priests laid the
foundation of the empire of the world.

The picture I have drawn of the inroads made in the first period of
asceticism upon the domestic affections, tells, I think, its own story,
and I shall only add a very few words of comment. That it is necessary for
many men who are pursuing a truly heroic course to break loose from the
trammels which those about them would cast over their actions or their
opinions, and that this severance often constitutes at once one of the
noblest and one of the most painful incidents in their career, are
unquestionable truths; but the examples of such occasional and exceptional
sacrifices, endured for some great unselfish end, cannot be compared with
the conduct of those who regarded the mortification of domestic love as in
itself a form of virtue, and whose ends were mainly or exclusively
selfish. The sufferings endured by the ascetic who fled from his relations
were often, no doubt, very great. Many anecdotes remain to show that warm
and affectionate hearts sometimes beat under the cold exterior of the
monk;(306) and St. Jerome, in one of his letters, remarked, with much
complacency and congratulation, that the very bitterest pang of captivity
is simply this irrevocable separation which the superstition he preached
induced multitudes to inflict upon themselves. But if, putting aside the
intrinsic excellence of an act, we attempt to estimate the nobility of the
agent, we must consider not only the cost of what he did, but also the
motive which induced him to do it. It is this last consideration which
renders it impossible for us to place the heroism of the ascetic on the
same level with that of the great patriots of Greece or Rome. A man may be
as truly selfish about the next world as about this. Where an overpowering
dread of future torments, or an intense realisation of future happiness,
is the leading motive of action, the theological virtue of faith may be
present, but the ennobling quality of disinterestedness is assuredly
absent. In our day, when pictures of rewards and punishments beyond the
grave act but feebly upon the imagination, a religious motive is commonly
an unselfish motive; but it has not always been so, and it was undoubtedly
not so in the first period of asceticism. The terrors of a future judgment
drove the monk into the desert, and the whole tenor of the ascetic life,
while isolating him from human sympathies, fostered an intense, though it
may be termed a religious, selfishness.

The effect of the mortification of the domestic affections upon the
general character was probably very pernicious. The family circle is the
appointed sphere, not only for the performance of manifest duties, but
also for the cultivation of the affections; and the extreme ferocity which
so often characterised the ascetic was the natural consequence of the
discipline he imposed upon himself. Severed from all other ties, the monks
clung with a desperate tenacity to their opinions and to their Church, and
hated those who dissented from them with all the intensity of men whose
whole lives were concentrated on a single subject, whose ignorance and
bigotry prevented them from conceiving the possibility of any good thing
in opposition to themselves, and who had made it a main object of their
discipline to eradicate all natural sympathies and affections. We may
reasonably attribute to the fierce biographer the words of burning hatred
of all heretics which St. Athanasius puts in the mouth of the dying
patriarch of the hermits;(307) but ecclesiastical history, and especially
the writings of the later Pagans, abundantly prove that the sentiment was
a general one. To the Christian bishops it is mainly due that the wide and
general, though not perfect, recognition of religious liberty in the Roman
legislation was replaced by laws of the most minute and stringent
intolerance. To the monks, acting as the executive of an omnipresent,
intolerant, and aggressive clergy, is due an administrative change,
perhaps even more important than the legislative change that had preceded
it. The system of conniving at, neglecting, or despising forms of worship
that were formally prohibited, which had been so largely practised by the
sceptical Pagans, and under the lax police system of the Empire, and which
is so important a fact in the history of the rise of Christianity, was
absolutely destroyed. Wandering in bands through the country, the monks
were accustomed to burn the temples, to break the idols, to overthrow the
altars, to engage in fierce conflicts with the peasants, who often
defended with desperate courage the shrines of their gods. It would be
impossible to conceive men more fitted for the task. Their fierce
fanaticism, their persuasion that every idol was tenanted by a literal
dæmon, and their belief that death incurred in this iconoclastic crusade
was a form of martyrdom, made them careless of all consequences to
themselves, while the reverence that attached to their profession rendered
it scarcely possible for the civil power to arrest them. Men who had
learnt to look with indifference on the tears of a broken-hearted mother,
and whose ideal was indissolubly connected with the degradation of the
body, were but little likely to be moved either by the pathos of old
associations, and of reverent, though mistaken, worship, or by the
grandeur of the Serapeum, or of the noble statues of Phidias and
Praxiteles. Sometimes the civil power ordered the reconstruction of Jewish
synagogues or heretical churches which had been illegally destroyed; but
the doctrine was early maintained that such a reconstruction was a deadly
sin. Under Julian some Christians suffered martyrdom sooner than be
parties to it; and St. Ambrose from the pulpit of Milan, and Simeon
Stylites from his desert pillar, united in denouncing Theodosius, who had
been guilty of issuing this command.

Another very important moral result to which asceticism largely
contributed was the depression and sometimes almost the extinction of the
civic virtues. A candid examination will show that the Christian
civilisations have been as inferior to the Pagan ones in civic and
intellectual virtues as they have been superior to them in the virtues of
humanity and of chastity. We have already seen that one remarkable feature
of the intellectual movement that preceded Christianity was the gradual
decadence of patriotism. In the early days both of Greece and Rome, the
first duty enforced was that of a man to his country. This was the
rudimentary or cardinal virtue of the moral type. It gave the tone to the
whole system of ethics, and different moral qualities were valued chiefly
in proportion to their tendency to form illustrious citizens. The
destruction of this spirit in the Roman Empire was due, as we have seen,
to two causes—one of them being political and the other intellectual. The
political cause was the amalgamation of the different nations in one great
despotism, which gave indeed an ample field for personal and intellectual
freedom, but extinguished the sentiment of nationality and closed almost
every sphere of political activity. The intellectual cause, which was by
no means unconnected with the political one, was the growing ascendancy of
Oriental philosophies, which dethroned the active Stoicism of the early
Empire, and placed its ideal of excellence in contemplative virtues and in
elaborate purifications. By this decline of the patriotic sentiment the
progress of the new faith was greatly aided. In all matters of religion
the opinions of men are governed much more by their sympathies than by
their judgments; and it rarely or never happens that a religion which is
opposed to a strong national sentiment, as Christianity was in Judea, as
Catholicism and Episcopalian Protestantism have been in Scotland, and as
Anglicanism is even now in Ireland, can win the acceptance of the people.

The relations of Christianity to the sentiment of patriotism were from the
first very unfortunate. While the Christians were, for obvious reasons,
completely separated from the national spirit of Judea, they found
themselves equally at variance with the lingering remnants of Roman
patriotism. Rome was to them the power of Antichrist, and its overthrow
the necessary prelude to the millennial reign. They formed an illegal
organisation, directly opposed to the genius of the Empire, anticipating
its speedy destruction, looking back with something more than despondency
to the fate of the heroes who adorned its past, and refusing resolutely to
participate in those national spectacles which were the symbols and the
expressions of patriotic feeling. Though scrupulously averse to all
rebellion, they rarely concealed their sentiments, and the whole tendency
of their teaching was to withdraw men as far as possible both from the
functions and the enthusiasm of public life. It was at once their
confession and their boast, that no interests were more indifferent to
them than those of their country.(308) They regarded the lawfulness of
taking arms as very questionable, and all those proud and aspiring
qualities that constitute the distinctive beauty of the soldier’s
character as emphatically unchristian. Their home and their interests were
in another world, and, provided only they were unmolested in their
worship, they avowed with frankness, long after the Empire had become
Christian, that it was a matter of indifference to them under what rule
they lived.(309) Asceticism, drawing all the enthusiasm of Christendom to
the desert life, and elevating as an ideal the extreme and absolute
abnegation of all patriotism,(310) formed the culmination of the movement,
and was undoubtedly one cause of the downfall of the Roman Empire.

There are, probably, few subjects on which popular judgments are commonly
more erroneous than upon the relations between positive religions and
moral enthusiasm. Religions have, no doubt, a most real power of evoking a
latent energy which, without their existence, would never have been called
into action; but their influence is on the whole probably more attractive
than creative. They supply the channel in which moral enthusiasm flows,
the banner under which it is enlisted, the mould in which it is cast, the
ideal to which it tends. The first idea which the phrase “a very good man”
would have suggested to an early Roman would probably have been that of
great and distinguished patriotism, and the passion and interest of such a
man in his country’s cause were in direct proportion to his moral
elevation. Ascetic Christianity decisively diverted moral enthusiasm into
another channel, and the civic virtues, in consequence, necessarily
declined. The extinction of all public spirit, the base treachery and
corruption pervading every department of the Government, the cowardice of
the army, the despicable frivolity of character that led the people of
Treves, when fresh from their burning city, to call for theatres and
circuses, and the people of Roman Carthage to plunge wildly into the
excitement of the chariot races, on the very day when their city succumbed
beneath the Vandal;(311) all these things coexisted with extraordinary
displays of ascetic and of missionary devotion. The genius and the virtue
that might have defended the Empire were engaged in fierce disputes about
the Pelagian controversy, at the very time when Alaric was encircling Rome
with his armies,(312) and there was no subtlety of theological metaphysics
which did not kindle a deeper interest in the Christian leaders than the
throes of their expiring country. The moral enthusiasm that in other days
would have fired the armies of Rome with an invincible valour, impelled
thousands to abandon their country and their homes, and consume the weary
hours in a long routine of useless and horrible macerations. When the
Goths had captured Rome, St. Augustine, as we have seen, pointed with a
just pride to the Christian Church, which remained an unviolated sanctuary
during the horrors of the sack, as a proof that a new spirit of sanctity
and of reverence had descended upon the world. The Pagan, in his turn,
pointed to what he deemed a not less significant fact—the golden statues
of Valour and of Fortune were melted down to pay the ransom to the
conquerors.(313) Many of the Christians contemplated with an indifference
that almost amounted to complacency what they regarded as the predicted
ruin of the city of the fallen gods.(314) When the Vandals swept over
Africa, the Donatists, maddened by the persecution of the orthodox,
received them with open arms, and contributed their share to that deadly
blow.(315) The immortal pass of Thermopylæ was surrendered without a
struggle to the Goths. A Pagan writer accused the monks of having betrayed
it.(316) It is more probable that they had absorbed or diverted the
heroism that in other days would have defended it. The conquest, at a
later date, of Egypt, by the Mohammedans, was in a great measure due to an
invitation from the persecuted Monophysites.(317) Subsequent religious
wars have again and again exhibited the same phenomenon. The treachery of
a religionist to his country no longer argued an absence of all moral
feeling. It had become compatible with the deepest religious enthusiasm,
and with all the courage of a martyr.

It is somewhat difficult to form a just estimate of how far the attitude
assumed by the Church towards the barbarian invaders has on the whole
proved beneficial to mankind. The Empire, as we have seen, had long been,
both morally and politically, in a condition of manifest decline; its
fall, though it might have been retarded, could scarcely have been
averted, and the new religion, even in its most superstitious form, while
it did much to displace, did also much to elicit moral enthusiasm. It is
impossible to deny that the Christian priesthood contributed very
materially, both by their charity and by their arbitration, to mitigate
the calamities that accompanied the dissolution of the Empire;(318) and it
is equally impossible to doubt that their political attitude greatly
increased their power for good. Standing between the conflicting forces,
almost indifferent to the issue, and notoriously exempt from the passions
of the combat, they obtained with the conqueror, and used for the benefit
of the conquered, a degree of influence they would never have possessed,
had they been regarded as Roman patriots. Their attitude, however, marked
a complete, and, as it has proved, a permanent, change in the position
assigned to patriotism in the moral scale. It has occasionally happened in
later times, that churches have found it for their interest to appeal to
this sentiment in their conflict with opposing creeds, or that patriots
have found the objects of churchmen in harmony with their own; and in
these cases a fusion of theological and patriotic feeling has taken place,
in which each has intensified the other. Such has been the effect of the
conflict between the Spaniards and the Moors, between the Poles and the
Russians, between the Scotch Puritans and the English Episcopalians,
between the Irish Catholics and the English Protestants. But patriotism
itself, as a duty, has never found any place in Christian ethics, and
strong theological feeling has usually been directly hostile to its
growth. Ecclesiastics have, no doubt, taken a very large share in
political affairs, but this has been in most cases solely with the object
of wresting them into conformity with ecclesiastical designs; and no other
body of men have so uniformly sacrificed the interests of their country to
the interests of their class. For the repugnance between the theological
and the patriotic spirit, three reasons may, I think, be assigned. The
first is that tendency of strong religious feeling to divert the mind from
all terrestrial cares and passions, of which the ascetic life was the
extreme expression, but which has always, under different forms, been
manifested in the Church. The second arises from the fact that each form
of theological opinion embodies itself in a visible and organised church,
with a government, interest, and policy of its own, and a frontier often
intersecting rather than following national boundaries; and these churches
attract to themselves the attachment and devotion that would naturally be
bestowed upon the country and its rulers. The third reason is, that the
saintly and the heroic characters, which represent the ideals of religion
and of patriotism, are generically different; for although they have no
doubt many common elements of virtue, the distinctive excellence of each
is derived from a proportion or disposition of qualities altogether
different from that of the other.(319)

Before dismissing this very important revolution in moral history, I may
add two remarks. In the first place, we may observe that the relation of
the two great schools of morals to active and political life has been
completely changed. Among the ancients, the Stoics, who regarded virtue
and vice as generically different from all other things, participated
actively in public life, and made this participation one of the first of
duties; while the Epicureans, who resolved virtue into utility, and
esteemed happiness its supreme motive, abstained from public life, and
taught their disciples to neglect it. Asceticism followed the Stoical
school in teaching that virtue and happiness are generically different
things; but it was at the same time eminently unfavourable to civic
virtue. On the other hand, that great industrial movement which has arisen
since the abolition of slavery, and which has always been essentially
utilitarian in its spirit, has been one of the most active and influential
elements of political progress. This change, though, as far as I know,
entirely unnoticed by historians, constitutes, I believe, one of the great
landmarks of moral history.

The second observation I would make relates to the estimate we form of the
value of patriotic actions. However much historians may desire to extend
their researches to the private and domestic virtues of a people, civic
virtues are always those which must appear most prominently in their
pages. History is concerned only with large bodies of men. The systems of
philosophy or religion which produce splendid results on the great theatre
of public life are fully and easily appreciated, and readers and writers
are both liable to give them very undue advantages over those systems
which do not favour civic virtues, but exercise their beneficial influence
in the more obscure fields of individual self-culture, domestic morals, or
private charity. If valued by the self-sacrifice they imply, or by their
effects upon human happiness, these last rank very high, but they scarcely
appear in history, and they therefore seldom obtain their due weight in
historical comparisons. Christianity has, I think, suffered peculiarly
from this cause. Its moral action has always been much more powerful upon
individuals than upon societies, and the spheres in which its superiority
over other religions is most incontestable, are precisely those which
history is least capable of realising.

In attempting to estimate the moral condition of the Roman and Byzantine
Empires during the Christian period, and before the old civilisation had
been dissolved by the barbarian or Mohammedan invasions, we must
continually bear this last consideration in mind. We must remember, too,
that Christianity had acquired an ascendancy among nations which were
already deeply tainted by the inveterate vices of a corrupt and decaying
civilisation, and also that many of the censors from whose pages we are
obliged to form our estimate of the age were men who judged human
frailties with all the fastidiousness of ascetics, and who expressed their
judgments with all the declamatory exaggeration of the pulpit. Modern
critics will probably not lay much stress upon the relapse of the
Christians into the ordinary dress and usages of the luxurious society
about them, upon the ridicule thrown by Christians on those who still
adhered to the primitive austerity of the sect, or upon the fact that
multitudes who were once mere nominal Pagans had become mere nominal
Christians. We find, too, a frequent disposition on the part of moralists
to single out some new form of luxury, or some trivial custom which they
regarded as indecorous, for the most extravagant denunciation, and to
magnify its importance in a manner which in a later age it is difficult
even to understand. Examples of this kind may be found both in Pagan and
in Christian writings, and they form an extremely curious page in the
history of morals. Thus Juvenal exhausts his vocabulary of invective in
denouncing the atrocious criminality of a certain noble, who in the very
year of his consulship did not hesitate—not, it is true, by day, but at
least in the sight of the moon and of the stars—with his own hand to drive
his own chariot along the public road.(320) Seneca was scarcely less
scandalised by the atrocious and, as he thought, unnatural luxury of those
who had adopted the custom of cooling different beverages by mixing them
with snow.(321) Pliny assures us that the most monstrous of all criminals
was the man who first devised the luxurious custom of wearing golden
rings.(322) Apuleius was compelled to defend himself for having eulogised
tooth-powder, and he did so, among other ways, by arguing that nature has
justified this form of propriety, for crocodiles were known periodically
to leave the waters of the Nile, and to lie with open jaws upon the banks,
while a certain bird proceeds with its beak to clean their teeth.(323) If
we were to measure the criminality of different customs by the vehemence
of the patristic denunciations, we might almost conclude that the most
atrocious offence of their day was the custom of wearing false hair, or
dyeing natural hair. Clement of Alexandria questioned whether the validity
of certain ecclesiastical ceremonies might not be affected by wigs; for,
he asked, when the priest is placing his hand on the head of the person
who kneels before him, if that hand is resting upon false hair, who is it
he is really blessing? Tertullian shuddered at the thought that Christians
might have the hair of those who were in hell upon their heads, and he
found in the tiers of false hair that were in use a distinct rebellion
against the assertion that no one can add to his stature, and, in the
custom of dyeing the hair, a contravention of the declaration that man
cannot make one hair white or black. Centuries rolled away. The Roman
Empire tottered to its fall, and floods of vice and sorrow overspread the
world; but still the denunciations of the Fathers were unabated. St.
Ambrose, St. Jerome, and St. Gregory Nazianzen continued with
uncompromising vehemence the war against false hair, which Tertullian and
Clement of Alexandria had begun.(324)

But although the vehemence of the Fathers on such trivial matters might
appear at first sight to imply the existence of a society in which grave
corruption was rare, such a conclusion would be totally untrue. After
every legitimate allowance has been made, the pictures of Roman society by
Ammianus Marcellinus, of the society of Marseilles, by Salvian, of the
society of Asia Minor, and of Constantinople, by Chrysostom, as well as
the whole tenor of the history, and innumerable incidental notices in the
writers, of the time, exhibit a condition of depravity, and especially of
degradation, which has seldom been surpassed.(325) The corruption had
reached classes and institutions that appeared the most holy. The Agapæ,
or love feasts, which formed one of the most touching symbols of Christian
unity, had become scenes of drunkenness and of riot. Denounced by the
Fathers, condemned by the Council of Laodicea in the fourth century, and
afterwards by the Council of Carthage, they lingered as a scandal and an
offence till they were finally suppressed by the Council of Trullo, at the
end of the seventh century.(326) The commemoration of the martyrs soon
degenerated into scandalous dissipation. Fairs were held on the occasion,
gross breaches of chastity were frequent, and the annual festival was
suppressed on account of the immorality it produced.(327) The ambiguous
position of the clergy with reference to marriage already led to grave
disorder. In the time of St. Cyprian, before the outbreak of the Decian
persecution, it had been common to find clergy professing celibacy, but
keeping, under various pretexts, their mistresses in their houses;(328)
and, after Constantine, the complaints on this subject became loud and
general.(329) Virgins and monks often lived together in the same house,
professing sometimes to share in chastity the same bed.(330) Rich widows
were surrounded by swarms of clerical sycophants, who addressed them in
tender diminutives, studied and consulted their every foible, and, under
the guise of piety, lay in wait for their gifts or bequests.(331) The evil
attained such a point that a law was made under Valentinian depriving the
Christian priests and monks of that power of receiving legacies which was
possessed by every other class of the community; and St. Jerome has
mournfully acknowledged that the prohibition was necessary.(332) Great
multitudes entered the Church to avoid municipal offices;(333) the deserts
were crowded with men whose sole object was to escape from honest labour,
and even soldiers used to desert their colours for the monasteries.(334)
Noble ladies, pretending a desire to lead a higher life, abandoned their
husbands to live with low-born lovers.(335) Palestine, which was soon
crowded with pilgrims, had become, in the time of St. Gregory of Nyssa, a
hotbed of debauchery.(336) The evil reputation of pilgrimages long
continued; and in the eighth century we find St. Boniface writing to the
Archbishop of Canterbury, imploring the bishops to take some measures to
restrain or regulate the pilgrimages of their fellow-countrywomen; for
there were few towns in central Europe, on the way to Rome, where English
ladies, who started as pilgrims, were not living in open
prostitution.(337) The luxury and ambition of the higher prelates, and the
passion for amusements of the inferior priests,(338) were bitterly
acknowledged. St. Jerome complained that the banquets of many bishops
eclipsed in splendour those of the provincial governors, and the intrigues
by which they obtained offices, and the fierce partisanship of their
supporters, appear in every page of ecclesiastical history.

In the lay world, perhaps the chief characteristic was extreme
childishness. The moral enthusiasm was greater than it had been in most
periods of Paganism, but, being drawn away to the desert, it had little
influence upon society. The simple fact that the quarrels between the
factions of the chariot races for a long period eclipsed all political,
intellectual, and even religious differences, filled the streets again and
again with bloodshed, and more than once determined great revolutions in
the State, is sufficient to show the extent of the decadence. Patriotism
and courage had almost disappeared, and, notwithstanding the rise of a
Belisarius or a Narses, the level of public men was extremely depressed.
The luxury of the court, the servility of the courtiers, and the
prevailing splendour of dress and of ornament, had attained an extravagant
height. The world grew accustomed to a dangerous alternation of extreme
asceticism and gross vice, and sometimes, as in the case of Antioch,(339)
the most vicious and luxurious cities produced the most numerous
anchorites. There existed a combination of vice and superstition which is
eminently prejudicial to the nobility, though not equally detrimental to
the happiness, of man. Public opinion was so low, that very many forms of
vice attracted little condemnation and punishment, while undoubted belief
in the absolving efficacy of superstitious rites calmed the imagination
and allayed the terrors of conscience. There was more falsehood and
treachery than under the Cæsars, but there was much less cruelty,
violence, and shamelessness. There was also less public spirit, less
independence of character, less intellectual freedom.

In some respects, however, Christianity had already effected a great
improvement. The gladiatorial games had disappeared from the West, and had
not been introduced into Constantinople. The vast schools of prostitution
which had grown up under the name of temples of Venus were suppressed.
Religion, however deformed and debased, was at least no longer a seedplot
of depravity, and under the influence of Christianity the effrontery of
vice had in a great measure disappeared. The gross and extravagant
indecency of representation, of which we have still examples in the
paintings on the walls, and the signs on many of the portals of Pompeii;
the banquets of rich patricians, served by naked girls; the hideous
excesses of unnatural lust, in which some of the Pagan emperors had
indulged with so much publicity, were no longer tolerated. Although
sensuality was very general, it was less obtrusive, and unnatural and
eccentric forms had become rare. The presence of a great Church, which,
amid much superstition and fanaticism, still taught a pure morality, and
enforced it by the strongest motives, was everywhere felt—controlling,
strengthening, or overawing. The ecclesiastics were a great body in the
State. The cause of virtue was strongly organised; it drew to itself the
best men, determined the course of vacillating but amiable natures, and
placed some restraint upon the vicious. A bad man might be insensible to
the moral beauties of religion, but he was still haunted by the
recollection of its threatenings. If he emancipated himself from its
influence in health and prosperity, its power returned in periods of
sickness or danger, or on the eve of the commission of some great crime.
If he had nerved himself against all its terrors, he was at least checked
and governed at every turn by the public opinion which it had created.
That total absence of all restraint, all decency, and all fear and
remorse, which had been evinced by some of the monsters of crime who
occupied the Pagan throne, and which proves most strikingly the decay of
the Pagan religion, was no longer possible. The virtue of the best Pagans
was perhaps of as high an order as that of the best Christians, though it
was of a somewhat different type, but the vice of the worst Pagans
certainly far exceeded that of the worst Christians. The pulpit had become
a powerful centre of attraction, and charities of many kinds were actively

The moral effects of the first great outburst of asceticism, so far as we
have yet traced them, appear almost unmingled evils. In addition to the
essentially distorted ideal of perfection it produced, the simple
withdrawal from active life of that moral enthusiasm, which is the leaven
of society, was extremely pernicious, and there can be little doubt that
to this cause we must in a great degree attribute the conspicuous failure
of the Church, for some centuries, to effect any more considerable
amelioration in the moral condition of Europe. There were, however, some
distinctive excellences springing even from the first phase of asceticism,
which, although they do not, as I conceive, suffice to counterbalance
these evils, may justly qualify our censure.

The first condition of all really great moral excellence is a spirit of
genuine self-sacrifice and self-renunciation. The habits of compromise,
moderation, reciprocal self-restraint, gentleness, courtesy, and
refinement, which are appropriate to luxurious or utilitarian
civilisations, are very favourable to the development of many secondary
virtues; but there is in human nature a capacity for a higher and more
heroic reach of excellence, which demands very different spheres for its
display, accustoms men to far nobler aims, and exercises a far greater
attractive influence upon mankind. Imperfect and distorted as was the
ideal of the anchorite; deeply, too, as it was perverted by the admixture
of a spiritual selfishness, still the example of many thousands, who, in
obedience to what they believed to be right, voluntarily gave up
everything that men hold dear, cast to the winds every compromise with
enjoyment, and made extreme self-abnegation the very principle of their
lives, was not wholly lost upon the world. At a time when increasing
riches had profoundly tainted the Church, they taught men “to love labour
more than rest, and ignominy more than glory, and to give more than to
receive.”(340) At a time when the passion for ecclesiastical dignities had
become the scandal of the Empire, they systematically abstained from them,
teaching, in their quaint but energetic language, that “there are two
classes a monk should especially avoid—bishops and women.”(341) The very
eccentricities of their lives, their uncouth forms, their horrible
penances, won the admiration of rude men, and the superstitious reverence
thus excited gradually passed to the charity and the self-denial which
formed the higher elements of the monastic character. Multitudes of
barbarians were converted to Christianity at the sight of St. Simeon
Stylites. The hermit, too, was speedily idealised by the popular
imagination. The more repulsive features of his life and appearance were
forgotten. He was thought of only as an old man with long white beard and
gentle aspect, weaving his mats beneath the palm-trees, while dæmons
vainly tried to distract him by their stratagems, and the wild beasts grew
tame in his presence, and every disease and every sorrow vanished at his
word. The imagination of Christendom, fascinated by this ideal, made it
the centre of countless legends, usually very childish, and occasionally,
as we have seen, worse than childish, yet full of beautiful touches of
human nature, and often conveying admirable moral lessons.(342) Nursery
tales, which first determine the course of the infant imagination, play no
inconsiderable part in the history of humanity. In the fable of
Psyche—that bright tale of passionate love with which the Greek mother
lulled her child to rest—Pagan antiquity has bequeathed us a single
specimen of transcendent beauty, and the lives of the saints of the desert
often exhibit an imagination different indeed in kind, but scarcely less
brilliant in its display. St. Antony, we are told, was thinking one night
that he was the best man in the desert, when it was revealed to him that
there was another hermit far holier than himself. In the morning he
started across the desert to visit this unknown saint. He met first of all
a centaur, and afterwards a little man with horns and goat’s feet, who
said that he was a faun; and these, having pointed out the way, he arrived
at last at his destination. St. Paul the hermit, at whose cell he stopped,
was one hundred and thirteen years old, and, having been living for a very
long period in absolute solitude, he at first refused to admit the
visitor, but at last consented, embraced him, and began, with a very
pardonable curiosity, to question him minutely about the world he had
left; “whether there was much new building in the towns, what empire ruled
the world, whether there were any idolaters remaining?” The colloquy was
interrupted by a crow, which came with a loaf of bread, and St. Paul,
observing that during the last sixty years his daily allowance had been
only half a loaf, declared that this was a proof that he had done right in
admitting Antony. The hermits returned thanks, and sat down together by
the margin of a glassy stream. But now a difficulty arose. Neither could
bring himself to break the loaf before the other. St. Paul alleged that
St. Antony, being his guest, should take the precedence; but St. Antony,
who was only ninety years old, dwelt upon the greater age of St. Paul. So
scrupulously polite were these old men, that they passed the entire
afternoon disputing on this weighty question, till at last, when the
evening was drawing in, a happy thought struck them, and, each holding one
end of the loaf, they pulled together. To abridge the story, St. Paul soon
died, and his companion, being a weak old man, was unable to bury him,
when two lions came from the desert and dug the grave with their paws,
deposited the body in it, raised a loud howl of lamentation, and then
knelt down submissively before St. Antony, to beg a blessing. The
authority for this history is no less a person than St. Jerome, who
relates it as literally true, and intersperses his narrative with severe
reflections on all who might question his accuracy.

The historian Palladius assures us that he heard from the lips of St.
Macarius of Alexandria an account of a pilgrimage which that saint had
made, under the impulse of curiosity, to visit the enchanted garden of
Jannes and Jambres, tenanted by dæmons. For nine days Macarius traversed
the desert, directing his course by the stars, and, from time to time,
fixing reeds in the ground, as landmarks for his return; but this
precaution proved useless, for the devils tore up the reeds, and placed
them during the night by the head of the sleeping saint. As he drew near
the garden, seventy dæmons of various forms came forth to meet him, and
reproached him for disturbing them in their home. St. Macarius promised
simply to walk round and inspect the wonders of the garden, and then
depart without doing it any injury. He fulfilled his promise, and a
journey of twenty days brought him again to his cell.(343) Other legends
are, however, of a less fantastic nature; and many of them display, though
sometimes in very whimsical forms, a spirit of courtesy which seems to
foreshadow the later chivalry, and some of them contain striking protests
against the very superstitions that were most prevalent. When St. Macarius
was sick, a bunch of grapes was once given to him; but his charity
impelled him to give them to another hermit, who in his turn refused to
keep them, and at last, having made the circuit of the entire desert, they
were returned to the saint.(344) The same saint, whose usual beverage was
putrid water, never failed to drink wine when set before him by the
hermits he visited, atoning privately for this relaxation, which he
thought the laws of courtesy required, by abstaining from water for as
many days as he had drunk glasses of wine.(345) One of his disciples once
meeting an idolatrous priest running in great haste across the desert,
with a great stick in his hand, cried out in a loud voice, “Where are you
going, dæmon?” The priest, naturally indignant, beat the Christian
severely, and was proceeding on his way, when he met St. Macarius, who
accosted him so courteously and so tenderly that the Pagan’s heart was
touched, he became a convert, and his first act of charity was to tend the
Christian whom he had beaten.(346) St. Avitus being on a visit to St.
Marcian, this latter saint placed before him some bread, which Avitus
refused to eat, saying that it was his custom never to touch food till
after sunset. St. Marcian, professing his own inability to defer his
repast, implored his guest for once to break this custom, and being
refused, exclaimed, “Alas! I am filled with anguish that you have come
here to see a wise man and a saint, and you see only a glutton.” St.
Avitus was grieved, and said, “he would rather even eat flesh than hear
such words,” and he sat down as desired. St. Marcian then confessed that
his own custom was the same as that of his brother saint; “but,” he added,
“we know that charity is better than fasting; for charity is enjoined by
the Divine law, but fasting is left in our own power and will.”(347) St.
Epiphanius having invited St. Hilarius to his cell, placed before him a
dish of fowl. “Pardon me, father,” said St. Hilarius, “but since I have
become a monk I have never eaten flesh.” “And I,” said St. Epiphanius,
“since I have become a monk have never suffered the sun to go down upon my
wrath.” “Your rule,” rejoined the other, “is more excellent than
mine.”(348) While a rich lady was courteously fulfilling the duties of
hospitality to a monk, her child, whom she had for this purpose left, fell
into a well. It lay unharmed upon the surface of the water, and afterwards
told its mother that it had seen the arms of the saint sustaining it
below.(349) At a time when it was the custom to look upon the marriage
state with profound contempt, it was revealed to St. Macarius of Egypt
that two married women in a neighbouring city were more holy than he was.
The saint immediately visited them, and asked their mode of life, but they
utterly repudiated the notion of their sanctity. “Holy father,” they said,
“suffer us to tell you frankly the truth. Even this very night we did not
shrink from sleeping with our husbands, and what good works, then, can you
expect from us?” The saint, however, persisted in his inquiries, and they
then told him their stories. “We are,” they said, “in no way related, but
we married two brothers. We have lived together for fifteen years, without
one licentious or angry word. We have entreated our husbands to let us
leave them, to join the societies of holy virgins, but they refused to
permit us, and we then promised before Heaven that no worldly word should
sully our lips.” “Of a truth,” cried St. Macarius, “I see that God regards
not whether one is virgin or married, whether one is in a monastery or in
the world. He considers only the disposition of the heart, and gives the
Spirit to all who desire to serve Him, whatever their condition may

I have multiplied these illustrations to an extent that must, I fear, have
already somewhat taxed the patience of my readers; but the fact that,
during a long period of history, these saintly legends formed the ideals
guiding the imagination and reflecting the moral sentiment of the
Christian world, gives them an importance far beyond their intrinsic
value. Before dismissing the saints of the desert, there is one other
class of legends to which I desire to advert. I mean those which describe
the connection between saints and the animal world. These legends are, I
think, worthy of special notice in moral history, as representing the
first, and at the same time one of the most striking efforts ever made in
Christendom to inculcate a feeling of kindness and pity towards the brute
creation. In Pagan antiquity, considerable steps had been made to raise
this form of humanity to a recognised branch of ethics. The way had been
prepared by numerous anecdotes growing for the most part out of simple
ignorance of natural history, which all tended to diminish the chasm
between men and animals, by representing the latter as possessing to a
very high degree both moral and rational qualities. Elephants, it was
believed, were endowed not only with reason and benevolence, but also with
reverential feelings. They worshipped the sun and moon, and in the forests
of Mauritania they were accustomed to assemble every new moon, at a
certain river, to perform religious rites.(351) The hippopotamus taught
men the medicinal value of bleeding, being accustomed, when affected by
plethory, to bleed itself with a thorn, and afterwards close the wound
with slime.(352) Pelicans committed suicide to feed their young; and bees,
when they had broken the laws of their sovereign.(353) A temple was
erected at Sestos to commemorate the affection of an eagle which loved a
young girl, and upon her death cast itself in despair into the flames by
which her body was consumed.(354) Numerous anecdotes are related of
faithful dogs which refused to survive their masters, and one of these
had, it was said, been transformed into the dog-star.(355) The dolphin,
especially, became the subject of many beautiful legends, and its
affection for its young, for music, and above all for little children,
excited the admiration not only of the populace, but of the most
distinguished naturalists.(356) Many philosophers ascribed to animals a
rational soul, like that of man. According to the Pythagoreans, human
souls transmigrate after death into animals. According to the Stoics and
others, the souls of men and animals were alike parts of the all-pervading
Divine Spirit that animates the world.(357)

We may even find traces from an early period of a certain measure of
legislative protection for animals. By a very natural process, the ox, as
a principal agent in agriculture, and therefore a kind of symbol of
civilisation, was in many different countries regarded with a peculiar
reverence. The sanctity attached to it in Egypt is well known. That
tenderness to animals, which is one of the most beautiful features in the
Old Testament writings, shows itself, among other ways, in the command not
to muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn, or to yoke together the ox
and the ass.(358) Among the early Romans the same feeling was carried so
far, that for a long time it was actually a capital offence to slaughter
an ox, that animal being pronounced, in a special sense, the
fellow-labourer of man.(359) A similar law is said to have in early times
existed in Greece.(360) The beautiful passage in which the Psalmist
describes how the sparrow could find a shelter and a home in the altar of
the temple, was as applicable to Greece as to Jerusalem. The sentiment of
Xenocrates who, when a bird pursued by a hawk took refuge in his breast,
caressed and finally released it, saying to his disciples, that a good man
should never give up a suppliant,(361) was believed to be shared by the
gods, and it was regarded as an act of impiety to disturb the birds who
had built their nests beneath the porticoes of the temple.(362) A case is
related of a child who was even put to death on account of an act of
aggravated cruelty to birds.(363)

The general tendency of nations, as they advance from a rude and warlike
to a refined and peaceful condition, from the stage in which the realising
powers are faint and dull, to that in which they are sensitive and vivid,
is undoubtedly to become more gentle and humane in their actions; but
this, like all other general tendencies in history, may be counteracted or
modified by many special circumstances. The law I have mentioned about
oxen was obviously one of those that belong to a very early stage of
progress, when legislators are labouring to form agricultural habits among
a warlike and nomadic people.(364) The games in which the slaughter of
animals bore so large a part, having been introduced but a little before
the extinction of the republic, did very much to arrest or retard the
natural progress of humane sentiments. In ancient Greece, besides the
bull-fights of Thessaly, the combats of quails and cocks(365) were
favourite amusements, and were much encouraged by the legislators, as
furnishing examples of valour to the soldiers. The colossal dimensions of
the Roman games, the circumstances that favoured them, and the
overwhelming interest they speedily excited, I have described in a former
chapter. We have seen, however, that, notwithstanding the gladiatorial
shows, the standard of humanity towards men was considerably raised during
the Empire. It is also well worthy of notice that, notwithstanding the
passion for the combats of wild beasts, Roman literature and the later
literature of the nations subject to Rome abound in delicate touches
displaying in a very high degree a sensitiveness to the feelings of the
animal world. This tender interest in animal life is one of the most
distinctive features of the poetry of Virgil. Lucretius, who rarely struck
the chords of pathos, had at a still earlier period drawn a very beautiful
picture of the sorrows of the bereaved cow, whose calf had been sacrificed
upon the altar.(366) Plutarch mentions, incidentally, that he could never
bring himself to sell, in its old age, the ox which had served him
faithfully in the time of its strength.(367) Ovid expressed a similar
sentiment with an almost equal emphasis.(368) Juvenal speaks of a Roman
lady with her eyes filled with tears on account of the death of a
sparrow.(369) Apollonius of Tyana, on the ground of humanity, refused,
even when invited by a king, to participate in the chase.(370) Arrian, the
friend of Epictetus, in his book upon coursing, anticipated the beautiful
picture which Addison has drawn of the huntsman refusing to sacrifice the
life of the captured hare which had given him so much pleasure in its

These touches of feeling, slight as they may appear, indicate, I think, a
vein of sentiment such as we should scarcely have expected to find
coexisting with the gigantic slaughter of the amphitheatre. The progress,
however, was not only one of sentiment—it was also shown in distinct and
definite teaching. Pythagoras and Empedocles were quoted as the founders
of this branch of ethics. The moral duty of kindness to animals was in the
first instance based upon a dogmatic assertion of the transmigration of
souls, and, the doctrine that animals are within the circle of human duty
being thus laid down, subsidiary considerations of humanity were alleged.
The rapid growth of the Pythagorean school, in the latter days of the
Empire, made these considerations familiar to the people.(372) Porphyry
elaborately advocated, and even Seneca for a time practised, abstinence
from flesh. But the most remarkable figure in this movement is
unquestionably Plutarch. Casting aside the dogma of transmigration, or at
least speaking of it only as a doubtful conjecture, he places the duty of
kindness to animals on the broad ground of the affections, and he urges
that duty with an emphasis and a detail to which no adequate parallel can,
I believe, be found in the Christian writings for at least seventeen
hundred years. He condemns absolutely the games of the amphitheatre,
dwells with great force upon the effect of such spectacles in hardening
the character, enumerates in detail, and denounces with unqualified
energy, the refined cruelties which gastronomic fancies had produced, and
asserts in the strongest language that every man has duties to the animal
world as truly as to his fellow-men.(373)

If we now pass to the Christian Church, we shall find that little or no
progress was at first made in this sphere. Among the Manicheans, it is
true, the mixture of Oriental notions was shown in an absolute prohibition
of animal food, and abstinence from this food was also frequently
practised upon totally different grounds by the orthodox. One or two of
the Fathers have also mentioned with approbation the humane counsels of
the Pythagoreans.(374) But, on the other hand, the doctrine of
transmigration was emphatically repudiated by the Catholics; the human
race was isolated, by the scheme of redemption, more than ever from all
other races; and in the range and circle of duties inculcated by the early
Fathers those to animals had no place. This is indeed the one form of
humanity which appears more prominently in the Old Testament than in the
New. The many beautiful traces of it in the former, which indicate a
sentiment,(375) even where they do not very strictly define a duty, gave
way before an ardent philanthropy which regarded human interests as the
one end, and the relations of man to his Creator as the one question, of
life, and dismissed somewhat contemptuously, as an idle sentimentalism,
notions of duty to animals.(376) A refined and subtle sympathy with animal
feeling is indeed rarely found among those who are engaged very actively
in the affairs of life, and it was not without a meaning or a reason that
Shakespeare placed that exquisitely pathetic analysis of the sufferings of
the wounded stag, which is perhaps its most perfect poetical expression,
in the midst of the morbid dreamings of the diseased and melancholy

But while what are called the rights of animals had no place in the ethics
of the Church, a feeling of sympathy with the irrational creation was in
some degree inculcated indirectly by the incidents of the hagiology. It
was very natural that the hermit, living in the lonely deserts of the
East, or in the vast forests of Europe, should come into an intimate
connection with the animal world, and it was no less natural that the
popular imagination, when depicting the hermit life, should make this
connection the centre of many picturesque and sometimes touching legends.
The birds, it was said, stooped in their flight at the old man’s call; the
lion and the hyena crouched submissively at his feet; his heart, which was
closed to all human interests, expanded freely at the sight of some
suffering animal; and something of his own sanctity descended to the
companions of his solitude and the objects of his miracles. The wild
beasts attended St. Theon when he walked abroad, and the saint rewarded
them by giving them drink out of his well. An Egyptian hermit had made a
beautiful garden in the desert, and used to sit beneath the palm-trees
while a lion ate fruit from his hand. When St. Pœmen was shivering in a
winter night, a lion crouched beside him, and became his covering. Lions
buried St. Paul the hermit and St. Mary of Egypt. They appear in the
legends of St. Jerome, St. Gerasimus, St. John the Silent, St. Simeon, and
many others. When an old and feeble monk, named Zosimas, was on his
journey to Cæsarea, with an ass which bore his possessions, a lion seized
and devoured the ass, but, at the command of the saint, the lion itself
carried the burden to the city gates. St. Helenus called a wild ass from
its herd to bear his burden through the wilderness. The same saint, as
well as St. Pachomius, crossed the Nile on the back of a crocodile, as St.
Scuthinus did the Irish Channel on a sea monster. Stags continually
accompanied saints upon their journeys, bore their burdens, ploughed their
fields, revealed their relics. The hunted stag was especially the theme of
many picturesque legends. A Pagan, named Branchion, was once pursuing an
exhausted stag, when it took refuge in a cavern, whose threshold no
inducement could persuade the hounds to cross. The astonished hunter
entered, and found himself in presence of an old hermit, who at once
protected the fugitive and converted the pursuer. In the legends of St.
Eustachius and St. Hubert, Christ is represented as having assumed the
form of a hunted stag, which turned upon its pursuer, with a crucifix
glittering on its brow, and, addressing him with a human voice, converted
him to Christianity. In the full frenzy of a chase, hounds and stag
stopped and knelt down together to venerate the relics of St. Fingar. On
the festival of St. Regulus, the wild stags assembled at the tomb of the
saint, as the ravens used to do at that of St. Apollinar of Ravenna. St.
Erasmus was the special protector of oxen, and they knelt down voluntarily
before his shrine. St. Antony was the protector of hogs, who were usually
introduced into his pictures. St. Bridget kept pigs, and a wild boar came
from the forest to subject itself to her rule. A horse foreshadowed by its
lamentations the death of St. Columba. The three companions of St. Colman
were a cock, a mouse, and a fly. The cock announced the hour of devotion,
the mouse bit the ear of the drowsy saint till he got up, and if in the
course of his studies he was afflicted by any wandering thoughts, or
called away to other business, the fly alighted on the line where he had
left off, and kept the place. Legends, not without a certain whimsical
beauty, described the moral qualities existing in animals. A hermit was
accustomed to share his supper with a wolf, which, one evening entering
the cell before the return of the master, stole a loaf of bread. Struck
with remorse, it was a week before it ventured again to visit the cell,
and when it did so, its head hung down, and its whole demeanour manifested
the most profound contrition. The hermit “stroked with a gentle hand its
bowed down head,” and gave it a double portion as a token of forgiveness.
A lioness knelt down with lamentations before another saint, and then led
him to its cub, which was blind, but which received its sight at the
prayer of the saint. Next day the lioness returned, bearing the skin of a
wild beast as a mark of its gratitude. Nearly the same thing happened to
St. Macarius of Alexandria; a hyena knocked at his door, brought its
young, which was blind, and which the saint restored to sight, and repaid
the obligation soon afterwards by bringing a fleece of wool. “O hyena!”
said the saint, “how did you obtain this fleece? you must have stolen and
eaten a sheep.” Full of shame, the hyena hung its head down, but persisted
in offering its gift, which, however, the holy man refused to receive till
the hyena “had sworn” to cease for the future to rob. The hyena bowed its
head in token of its acceptance of the oath, and St. Macarius afterwards
gave the fleece to St. Melania. Other legends simply speak of the sympathy
between saints and the irrational world. The birds came at the call of St.
Cuthbert, and a dead bird was resuscitated by his prayer. When St.
Aengussius, in felling wood, had cut his hand, the birds gathered round,
and with loud cries lamented his misfortune. A little bird, struck down
and mortally wounded by a hawk, fell at the feet of St. Kieranus, who shed
tears as he looked upon its torn breast, and offered up a prayer, upon
which the bird was instantly healed.(377)

Many hundreds, I should perhaps hardly exaggerate were I to say many
thousands, of legends of this kind exist in the lives of the saints.
Suggested in the first instance by that desert life which was at once the
earliest phase of monachism and one of the earliest sources of Christian
mythology, strengthened by the symbolism which represented different
virtues and vices under the forms of animals, and by the reminiscences of
the rites and the superstitions of Paganism, the connection between men
and animals became the keynote of an infinite variety of fantastic tales.
In our eyes they may appear extravagantly puerile, yet it will scarcely, I
hope, be necessary to apologise for introducing them into what purports to
be a grave work, when it is remembered that for many centuries they were
universally accepted by mankind, and were so interwoven with all local
traditions, and with all the associations of education, that they at once
determined and reflected the inmost feelings of the heart. Their tendency
to create a certain feeling of sympathy towards animals is manifest, and
this is probably the utmost the Catholic Church has done in that
direction.(378) A very few authentic instances may, indeed, be cited of
saints whose natural gentleness of disposition was displayed in kindness
to the animal world. Of St. James of Venice—an obscure saint of the
thirteenth century—it is told that he was accustomed to buy and release
the birds with which Italian boys used to play by attaching them to
strings, saying that “he pitied the little birds of the Lord,” and that
his “tender charity recoiled from all cruelty, even to the most diminutive
of animals.”(379) St. Francis of Assisi was a more conspicuous example of
the same spirit. “If I could only be presented to the emperor,” he used to
say, “I would pray him, for the love of God, and of me, to issue an edict
prohibiting any one from catching or imprisoning my sisters the larks, and
ordering that all who have oxen or asses should at Christmas feed them
particularly well.” A crowd of legends turning upon this theme were
related of him. A wolf, near Gubbio, being adjured by him, promised to
abstain from eating sheep, placed its paw in the hand of the saint to
ratify the promise, and was afterwards fed from house to house by the
inhabitants of the city. A crowd of birds, on another occasion, came to
hear the saint preach, as fish did to hear St. Antony of Padua. A falcon
awoke him at his hour of prayer. A grasshopper encouraged him by her
melody to sing praises to God. The noisy swallows kept silence when he
began to teach.(380)

On the whole, however, Catholicism has done very little to inculcate
humanity to animals. The fatal vice of theologians, who have always looked
upon others solely through the medium of their own special dogmatic views,
has been an obstacle to all advance in this direction. The animal world,
being altogether external to the scheme of redemption, was regarded as
beyond the range of duty, and the belief that we have any kind of
obligation to its members has never been inculcated—has never, I believe,
been even admitted—by Catholic theologians. In the popular legends, and in
the recorded traits of individual amiability, it is curious to observe how
constantly those who have sought to inculcate kindness to animals have
done so by endeavouring to associate them with something distinctively
Christian. The legends I have noticed glorified them as the companions of
the saints. The stag was honoured as especially commissioned to reveal the
relics of saints, and as the deadly enemy of the serpent. In the feast of
asses, that animal was led with veneration into the churches, and a rude
hymn proclaimed its dignity, because it had borne Christ in His flight to
Egypt, and in His entry into Jerusalem. St. Francis always treated lambs
with a peculiar tenderness, as being symbols of his Master. Luther grew
sad and thoughtful at a hare hunt, for it seemed to him to represent the
pursuit of souls by the devil. Many popular legends exist, associating
some bird or animal with some incident in the evangelical narrative, and
securing for them in consequence an unmolested life. But such influences
have never extended far. There are two distinct objects which may be
considered by moralists in this sphere. They may regard the character of
the men, or they may regard the sufferings of the animals. The amount of
callousness or of conscious cruelty displayed or elicited by amusements or
practices that inflict suffering on animals, bears no kind of proportion
to the intensity of that suffering. Could we follow with adequate
realisation the pangs of the wounded birds that are struck down in our
sports, or of the timid hare in the long course of its flight, we should
probably conclude that they were not really less than those caused by the
Spanish bull-fight, or by the English pastimes of the last century. But
the excitement of the chase refracts the imagination, and owing to the
diminutive size of the victim, and the undemonstrative character of its
suffering, these sports do not exercise that prejudicial influence upon
character which they would exercise if the sufferings of the animals were
vividly realised, and were at the same time accepted as an element of the
enjoyment. The class of amusements of which the ancient combats of wild
beasts form the type, have no doubt nearly disappeared from Christendom,
and it is possible that the softening power of Christian teaching may have
had some indirect influence in abolishing them; but a candid judgment will
confess that it has been very little. During the periods, and in the
countries, in which theological influence was supreme, they were
unchallenged.(381) They disappeared(382) at last, because a luxurious and
industrial civilisation involved a refinement of manners; because a
fastidious taste recoiled with a sensation of disgust from pleasures that
an uncultivated taste would keenly relish; because the drama, at once
reflecting and accelerating the change, gave a new form to popular
amusements, and because, in consequence of this revolution, the old
pastimes, being left to the dregs of society, became the occasions of
scandalous disorders.(383) In Protestant countries the clergy have, on the
whole, sustained this movement. In Catholic countries it has been much
more faithfully represented by the school of Voltaire and Beccaria. A
judicious moralist may, however, reasonably question whether amusements
which derive their zest from a display of the natural ferocious instincts
of animals, and which substitute death endured in the frenzy of combat for
death in the remote slaughter-house or by the slow process of decay, have
added in any appreciable degree to the sum of animal misery, and in these
cases he will dwell less upon the suffering inflicted than upon the
injurious influence the spectacle may sometimes exercise on the character
of the spectator. But there are forms of cruelty which must be regarded in
a different light. The horrors of vivisection, often so wantonly, so
needlessly practised,(384) the prolonged and atrocious tortures, sometimes
inflicted in order to procure some gastronomic delicacy, are so far
removed from the public gaze that they exercise little influence on the
character of men. Yet no humane man can reflect upon them without a
shudder. To bring these things within the range of ethics, to create the
notion of duties towards the animal world, has, so far as Christian
countries are concerned, been one of the peculiar merits of the last
century, and, for the most part, of Protestant nations. However fully we
may recognise the humane spirit transmitted to the world in the form of
legends from the saints of the desert, it must not be forgotten that the
inculcation of humanity to animals on a wide scale is mainly the work of a
recent and a secular age; that the Mohammedans and the Brahmins have in
this sphere considerably surpassed the Christians, and that Spain and
Southern Italy, in which Catholicism has most deeply planted its roots,
are even now, probably beyond all other countries in Europe, those in
which inhumanity to animals is most wanton and most unrebuked.

The influence the first form of monachism has exercised upon the world, so
far as it has been beneficial, has been chiefly through the imagination,
which has been fascinated by its legends. In the great periods of
theological controversy, the Eastern monks had furnished some leading
theologians; but in general, in Oriental lands, the hermit life
predominated, and extreme maceration was the chief merit of the saint. But
in the West, monachism assumed very different forms, and exercised far
higher functions. At first the Oriental saints were the ideals of Western
monks. The Eastern St. Athanasius had been the founder of Italian
monachism. St. Martin of Tours excluded labour from the discipline of his
monks, and he and they, like the Eastern saints, were accustomed to wander
abroad, destroying the idols of the temples.(385) But three great causes
conspired to direct the monastic spirit in the West into practical
channels. Conditions of race and climate have ever impelled the
inhabitants of these lands to active life, and have at the same time
rendered them constitutionally incapable of enduring the austerities or
enjoying the hallucinations of the sedentary Oriental. There arose, too,
in the sixth century, a great legislator, whose form may be dimly traced
through a cloud of fantastic legends, and the order of St. Benedict, with
that of St. Columba and some others, founded on substantially the same
principle, soon ramified through the greater part of Europe, tempered the
wild excesses of useless penances, and, making labour an essential part of
the monastic system, directed the movement to the purposes of general
civilisation. In the last place, the barbarian invasions, and the
dissolution of the Western Empire, dislocating the whole system of
government and almost resolving society into its primitive elements,
naturally threw upon the monastic corporations social, political, and
intellectual functions of the deepest importance.

It has been observed that the capture of Rome by Alaric, involving as it
did the destruction of the grandest religious monuments of Paganism, in
fact established in that city the supreme authority of Christianity.(386)
A similar remark may be extended to the general downfall of the Western
civilisation. In that civilisation Christianity had indeed been legally
enthroned; but the philosophies and traditions of Paganism, and the
ingrained habits of an ancient, and at the same time an effete society,
continually paralysed its energies. What Europe would have been without
the barbarian invasions, we may partly divine from the history of the
Lower Empire, which represented, in fact, the old Roman civilisation
prolonged and Christianised. The barbarian conquests, breaking up the old
organisation, provided the Church with a virgin soil, and made it, for a
long period, the supreme and indeed sole centre of civilisation.

It would be difficult to exaggerate the skill and courage displayed by the
ecclesiastics in this most trying period. We have already seen the noble
daring with which they interfered between the conqueror and the
vanquished, and the unwearied charity with which they sought to alleviate
the unparalleled sufferings of Italy, when the colonial supplies of corn
were cut off, and when the fairest plains were desolated by the
barbarians. Still more wonderful is the rapid conversion of the barbarian
tribes. Unfortunately this, which is one of the most important, is also
one of the most obscure pages in the history of the Church. Of whole
tribes or nations it may be truly said that we are absolutely ignorant of
the cause of their change. The Goths had already been converted by
Ulphilas, before the downfall of the Empire, and the conversion of the
Germans and of several northern nations was long posterior to it; but the
great work of Christianising the barbarian world was accomplished almost
in the hour when that world became supreme. Rude tribes, accustomed in
their own lands to pay absolute obedience to their priests, found
themselves in a foreign country, confronted by a priesthood far more
civilised and imposing than that which they had left, by gorgeous
ceremonies, well fitted to entice, and by threats of coming judgment, well
fitted to scare their imaginations. Disconnected from all their old
associations, they bowed before the majesty of civilisation, and the Latin
religion, like the Latin language, though with many adulterations, reigned
over the new society. The doctrine of exclusive salvation, and the
doctrine of dæmons, had an admirable missionary power. The first produced
an ardour of proselytising which the polytheist could never rival; while
the Pagan, who was easily led to recognise the Christian God, was menaced
with eternal fire if he did not take the further step of breaking off from
his old divinities. The second dispensed the convert from the perhaps
impossible task of disbelieving his former religion, for it was only
necessary for him to degrade it, attributing its prodigies to infernal
beings. The priests, in addition to their noble devotion, carried into
their missionary efforts the most masterly judgment. The barbarian tribes
usually followed without enquiry the religion of their sovereign; and it
was to the conversion of the king, and still more to the conversion of the
queen, that the Christians devoted all their energies. Clotilda, the wife
of Clovis, Bertha, the wife of Ethelbert, and Theodolinda, the wife of
Lothaire, were the chief instruments in converting their husbands and
their nations. Nothing that could affect the imagination was neglected. It
is related of Clotilda, that she was careful to attract her husband by the
rich draperies of the ecclesiastical ceremonies.(387) In another case, the
first work of proselytising was confided to an artist, who painted before
the terrified Pagans the last judgment and the torments of hell.(388) But
especially the belief, which was sincerely held, and sedulously
inculcated, that temporal success followed in the train of Christianity,
and that every pestilence, famine, or military disaster was the penalty of
idolatry, heresy, sacrilege, or vice, assisted the movement. The theory
was so wide, that it met every variety of fortune, and being taught with
consummate skill, to barbarians who were totally destitute of all critical
power, and strongly predisposed to accept it, it proved extremely
efficacious; and hope, fear, gratitude, and remorse drew multitudes into
the Church. The transition was softened by the substitution of Christian
ceremonies and saints for the festivals and the divinities of the
Pagans.(389) Besides the professed missionaries, the Christian captives
zealously diffused their faith among their Pagan masters. When the
chieftain had been converted, and the army had followed his profession, an
elaborate monastic and ecclesiastical organisation grew up to consolidate
the conquest, and repressive laws soon crushed all opposition to the

In these ways the victory of Christianity over the barbarian world was
achieved. But that victory, though very great, was less decisive than
might appear. A religion which professed to be Christianity, and which
contained many of the ingredients of pure Christianity, had risen into the
ascendant, but it had undergone a profound modification through the
struggle. Religions, as well as worshippers, had been baptised. The
festivals, images, and names of saints had been substituted for those of
the idols, and the habits of thought and feeling of the ancient faith
reappeared in new forms and a new language. The tendency to a material,
idolatrous, and polytheistic faith, which had long been encouraged by the
monks, and which the heretics Jovinian, Vigilantius, and Aerius had vainly
resisted, was fatally strengthened by the infusion of a barbarian element
into the Church, by the general depression of intellect in Europe, and by
the many accommodations that were made to facilitate conversion. Though
apparently defeated and crushed, the old gods still retained, under a new
faith, no small part of their influence over the world.

To this tendency the leaders of the Church made in general no resistance,
though in another form they were deeply persuaded of the vitality of the
old gods. Many curious and picturesque legends attest the popular belief
that the old Roman and the old barbarian divinities, in their capacity of
dæmons, were still waging an unrelenting war against the triumphant faith.
A great Pope of the sixth century relates how a Jew, being once benighted
on his journey, and finding no other shelter for the night, lay down to
rest in an abandoned temple of Apollo. Shuddering at the loneliness of the
building, and fearing the dæmons who were said to haunt it, he determined,
though not a Christian, to protect himself by the sign of the cross, which
he had often heard possessed a mighty power against spirits. To that sign
he owed his safety. For at midnight the temple was filled with dark and
threatening forms. The god Apollo was holding his court at his deserted
shrine, and his attendant dæmons were recounting the temptations they had
devised against the Christians.(390) A newly married Roman, when one day
playing ball, took off his wedding-ring, which he found an impediment in
the game, and he gaily put it on the finger of a statue of Venus, that was
standing near. When he returned, the marble finger had bent so that it was
impossible to withdraw the ring, and that night the goddess appeared to
him in a dream, and told him that she was now his wedded wife, and that
she would abide with him for ever.(391) When the Irish missionary St. Gall
was fishing one night upon a Swiss lake, near which he had planted a
monastery, he heard strange voices sweeping over the lonely deep. The
Spirit of the Water and the Spirit of the Mountains were consulting
together how they could expel the intruder who had disturbed their ancient

The details of the rapid propagation of Western monachism have been amply
treated by many historians, and the causes of its success are sufficiently
manifest. Some of the reasons I have assigned for the first spread of
asceticism continued to operate, while others of a still more powerful
kind had arisen. The rapid decomposition of the entire Roman Empire by
continuous invasions of barbarians rendered the existence of an inviolable
asylum and centre of peaceful labour a matter of transcendent importance,
and the monastery as organised by St. Benedict soon combined the most
heterogeneous elements of attraction. It was at once eminently
aristocratic and intensely democratic. The power and princely position of
the abbot were coveted, and usually obtained, by members of the most
illustrious families; while emancipated serfs, or peasants who had lost
their all in the invasions, or were harassed by savage nobles, or had fled
from military service, or desired to lead a more secure and easy life,
found in the monastery an unfailing refuge. The institution exercised all
the influence of great wealth, expended for the most part with great
charity, while the monk himself was invested with the aureole of a sacred
poverty. To ardent and philanthropic natures, the profession opened
boundless vistas of missionary, charitable, and civilising activity. To
the superstitious it was the plain road to heaven. To the ambitious it was
the portal to bishoprics, and, after the monk St. Gregory, not
unfrequently to the Popedom. To the studious it offered the only
opportunity then existing in the world of seeing many books and passing a
life of study. To the timid and retiring it afforded the most secure, and
probably the least laborious life a poor peasant could hope to find. Vast
as were the multitudes that thronged the monasteries, the means for their
support were never wanting. The belief that gifts or legacies to a
monastery opened the doors of heaven was in a superstitious age sufficient
to secure for the community an almost boundless wealth, which was still
further increased by the skill and perseverance with which the monks
tilled the waste lands, by the exemption of their domains from all
taxation, and by the tranquillity which in the most turbulent ages they
usually enjoyed. In France, the Low Countries, and Germany they were
pre-eminently agriculturists. Gigantic forests were felled, inhospitable
marshes reclaimed, barren plains cultivated by their hands. The monastery
often became the nucleus of a city. It was the centre of civilisation and
industry, the symbol of moral power in an age of turbulence and war.

It must be observed, however, that the beneficial influence of the
monastic system was necessarily transitional, and the subsequent
corruption the normal and inevitable result of its constitution. Vast
societies living in enforced celibacy, exercising an unbounded influence,
and possessing enormous wealth, must necessarily have become hotbeds of
corruption when the enthusiasm that had created them expired. The services
they rendered as the centres of agriculture, the refuge of travellers, the
sanctuaries in war, the counterpoise of the baronial castle, were no
longer required when the convulsions of invasion had ceased and when civil
society was definitely organised. And a similar observation may be
extended even to their moral type. Thus, while it is undoubtedly true that
the Benedictine monks, by making labour an essential element of their
discipline, did very much to efface the stigma which slavery had affixed
upon it, it is also true that, when industry had passed out of its initial
stage, the monastic theories of the sanctity of poverty, and the evil of
wealth, were its most deadly opponents. The dogmatic condemnation by
theologians of loans at interest, which are the basis of industrial
enterprise, was the expression of a far deeper antagonism of tendencies
and ideals.

In one important respect, the transition from the eremite to the monastic
life involved not only a change of circumstances, but also a change of
character. The habit of obedience, and the virtue of humility, assumed a
position which they had never previously occupied. The conditions of the
hermit life contributed to develop to a very high degree a spirit of
independence and spiritual pride, which was still further increased by a
curious habit that existed in the Church of regarding each eminent hermit
as the special model or professor of some particular virtue, and making
pilgrimages to him, in order to study this aspect of his character.(393)
These pilgrimages, combined with the usually solitary and self-sufficing
life of the hermit, and also with the habit of measuring progress almost
entirely by the suppression of a physical appetite, which it is quite
possible wholly to destroy, very naturally produced an extreme
arrogance.(394) But in the highly organised and disciplined monasteries of
the West, passive obedience and humility were the very first things that
were inculcated. The monastery, beyond all other institutions, was the
school for their exercise; and as the monk represented the highest moral
ideal of the age, obedience and humility acquired a new value in the minds
of men. Nearly all the feudal and other organisations that arose out of
the chaos that followed the destruction of the Roman Empire were
intimately related to the Church, not simply because the Church was the
strongest power in Christendom, and supplied in itself an admirable model
of an organised body, but also because it had done much to educate men in
habits of obedience. The special value of this education depended upon the
peculiar circumstances of the time. The ancient civilisations, and
especially that of Rome, had been by no means deficient in those habits;
but it was in the midst of the dissolution of an old society, and of the
ascendancy of barbarians, who exaggerated to the highest degree their
personal independence, that the Church proposed to the reverence of
mankind a life of passive obedience as the highest ideal of virtue.

The habit of obedience was no new thing in the world, but the disposition
of humility was pre-eminently and almost exclusively a Christian virtue;
and there has probably never been any sphere in which it has been so
largely and so successfully inculcated as in the monastery. The whole
penitential discipline, the entire mode or tenor of the monastic life, was
designed to tame every sentiment of pride, and to give humility a foremost
place in the hierarchy of virtues. We have here one great source of the
mollifying influence of Catholicism. The gentler virtues—benevolence and
amiability—may, and in an advanced civilisation often do, subsist in
natures that are completely devoid of genuine humility; but, on the other
hand, it is scarcely possible for a nature to be pervaded by a deep
sentiment of humility without this sentiment exercising a softening
influence over the whole character. To transform a fierce warlike nature
into a character of a gentler type, the first essential is to awaken this
feeling. In the monasteries, the extinction of social and domestic
feelings, the narrow corporate spirit, and, still more, the atrocious
opinions that were prevalent concerning the guilt of heresy, produced in
many minds an extreme and most active ferocity; but the practice of
charity, and the ideal of humility, never failed to exercise some
softening influence upon Christendom.

But, however advantageous the temporary pre-eminence of this moral type
may have been, it was obviously unsuited for a later stage of
civilisation. Political liberty is almost impossible where the monastic
system is supreme, not merely because the monasteries divert the energies
of the nation from civic to ecclesiastical channels, but also because the
monastic ideal is the very apotheosis of servitude. Catholicism has been
admirably fitted at once to mitigate and to perpetuate despotism. When men
have learnt to reverence a life of passive, unreasoning obedience as the
highest type of perfection, the enthusiasm and passion of freedom
necessarily decline. In this respect there is an analogy between the
monastic and the military spirit, both of which promote and glorify
passive obedience, and therefore prepare the minds of men for despotic
rule; but, on the whole, the monastic spirit is probably more hostile to
freedom than the military spirit, for the obedience of the monk is based
upon humility, while the obedience of the soldier coexists with pride.
Now, a considerable measure of pride, or self-assertion, is an invariable
characteristic of free communities.

The ascendancy which the monastic system gave to the virtue of humility
has not continued. This virtue is indeed the crowning grace and beauty of
the most perfect characters of the saintly type; but experience has shown
that among common men humility is more apt to degenerate into servility
than pride into arrogance; and modern moralists have appealed more
successfully to the sense of dignity than to the opposite feeling. Two of
the most important steps of later moral history have consisted of the
creation of a sentiment of pride as the parent and the guardian of many
virtues. The first of these encroachments on the monastic spirit was
chivalry, which called into being a proud and jealous military honour that
has never since been extinguished. The second was the creation of that
feeling of self-respect which is one of the most remarkable
characteristics that distinguish Protestant from the most Catholic
populations, and which has proved among the former an invaluable moral
agent, forming frank and independent natures, and checking every servile
habit and all mean and degrading vice.(395) The peculiar vigour with which
it has been developed in Protestant countries may be attributed to the
suppression of monastic institutions and habits; to the stigma
Protestantism has attached to mendicancy, which Catholicism has usually
glorified and encouraged; to the high place Protestantism has accorded to
private judgment and personal responsibility; and lastly, to the action of
free political institutions, which have taken deepest root where the
principles of the Reformation have been accepted.


The relation of the monasteries to the intellectual virtues, which we have
next to examine, opens out a wide field of discussion; and, in order to
appreciate it, it will be necessary to revert briefly to a somewhat
earlier stage of ecclesiastical history. And in the first place, it may be
observed, that the phrase intellectual virtue, which is often used in a
metaphorical sense, is susceptible of a strictly literal interpretation.
If a sincere and active desire for truth be a moral duty, the discipline
and the dispositions that are plainly involved in every honest search fall
rigidly within the range of ethics. To love truth sincerely means to
pursue it with an earnest, conscientious, unflagging zeal. It means to be
prepared to follow the light of evidence even to the most unwelcome
conclusions; to labour earnestly to emancipate the mind from early
prejudices; to resist the current of the desires, and the refracting
influence of the passions; to proportion on all occasions conviction to
evidence, and to be ready, if need be, to exchange the calm of assurance
for all the suffering of a perplexed and disturbed mind. To do this is
very difficult and very painful; but it is clearly involved in the notion
of earnest love of truth. If, then, any system stigmatises as criminal the
state of doubt, denounces the examination of some one class of arguments
or facts, seeks to introduce the bias of the affections into the enquiries
of the reason, or regards the honest conclusion of an upright investigator
as involving moral guilt, that system is subversive of intellectual

Among the ancients, although the methods of enquiry were often very
faulty, and generalisations very hasty, a respect for the honest search
after truth was widely diffused.(396) There were, as we have already seen,
instances in which certain religious practices which were regarded as
attestations of loyalty, or as necessary to propitiate the gods in favour
of the State, were enforced by law; there were even a few instances of
philosophies, which were believed to lead directly to immoral results or
social convulsions, being suppressed; but, as a general rule, speculation
was untrammelled, the notion of there being any necessary guilt in
erroneous opinion was unknown, and the boldest enquirers were regarded
with honour and admiration. The religious theory of Paganism had in this
respect some influence. Polytheism, with many faults, had three great
merits. It was eminently poetical, eminently patriotic, and eminently
tolerant. The conception of a vast hierarchy of beings more glorious than,
but not wholly unlike, men, presiding over all the developments of nature,
and filling the universe with their deeds, supplied the chief nutriment of
the Greek imagination. The national religions, interweaving religious
ceremonies and associations with all civic life, concentrated and
intensified the sentiment of patriotism, and the notion of many distinct
groups of gods led men to tolerate many forms of worship and great variety
of creeds. In that colossal amalgam of nations of which Rome became the
metropolis, intellectual liberty still further advanced; the vast variety
of philosophies and beliefs expatiated unmolested; the search for truth
was regarded as an important element of virtue, and the relentless and
most sceptical criticism which Socrates had applied in turn to all the
fundamental propositions of popular belief remained as an example to his

We have already seen that one leading cause of the rapid progress of the
Church was that its teachers enforced their distinctive tenets as
absolutely essential to salvation, and thus assailed at a great advantage
the supporters of all other creeds which did not claim this exclusive
authority. We have seen, too, that in an age of great and growing
credulity they had been conspicuous for their assertion of the duty of
absolute, unqualified, and unquestioning belief. The notion of the guilt
both of error and of doubt grew rapidly, and, being soon regarded as a
fundamental tenet, it determined the whole course and policy of the

And here, I think, it will not be unadvisable to pause for a moment, and
endeavour to ascertain what misconceived truth lay at the root of this
fatal tenet. Considered abstractedly and by the light of nature, it is as
unmeaning to speak of the immorality of an intellectual mistake as it
would be to talk of the colour of a sound. If a man has sincerely
persuaded himself that it is possible for parallel lines to meet, or for
two straight lines to enclose a space, we pronounce his judgment to be
absurd; but it is free from all tincture of immorality. And if, instead of
failing to appreciate a demonstrable truth, his error consisted in a false
estimate of the conflicting arguments of an historical problem, this
mistake—assuming always that the enquiry was an upright one—is still
simply external to the sphere of morals. It is possible that his
conclusion, by weakening some barrier against vice, may produce vicious
consequences, like those which might ensue from some ill-advised
modification of the police force; but it in no degree follows from this
that the judgment is in itself criminal. If a student applies himself with
the same dispositions to Roman and Jewish histories, the mistakes he may
make in the latter are no more immoral than those which he may make in the

There are, however, two cases in which an intellectual error may be justly
said to involve, or at least to represent, guilt. In the first place,
error very frequently springs from the partial or complete absence of that
mental disposition which is implied in a real love of truth. Hypocrites,
or men who through interested motives profess opinions which they do not
really believe, are probably rarer than is usually supposed; but it would
be difficult to over-estimate the number of those whose genuine
convictions are due to the unresisted bias of their interests. By the term
interests, I mean not only material well-being, but also all those mental
luxuries, all those grooves or channels for thought, which it is easy and
pleasing to follow, and painful and difficult to abandon. Such are the
love of ease, the love of certainty, the love of system, the bias of the
passions, the associations of the imagination, as well as the coarser
influences of social position, domestic happiness, professional interest,
party feeling, or ambition. In most men, the love of truth is so languid,
and the reluctance to encounter mental suffering is so great, that they
yield their judgments without an effort to the current, withdraw their
minds from all opinions or arguments opposed to their own, and thus
speedily convince themselves of the truth of what they wish to believe. He
who really loves truth is bound at least to endeavour to resist these
distorting influences, and in as far as his opinions are the result of his
not having done so, in so far they represent a moral failing.

In the next place, it must be observed that every moral disposition brings
with it an intellectual bias which exercises a great and often a
controlling and decisive influence even upon the most earnest enquirer. If
we know the character or disposition of a man, we can usually predict with
tolerable accuracy many of his opinions. We can tell to what side of
politics, to what canons of taste, to what theory of morals he will
naturally incline. Stern, heroic, and haughty natures tend to systems in
which these qualities occupy the foremost position in the moral type,
while gentle natures will as naturally lean towards systems in which the
amiable virtues are supreme. Impelled by a species of moral gravitation,
the enquirer will glide insensibly to the system which is congruous to his
disposition, and intellectual difficulties will seldom arrest him. He can
have observed human nature with but little fruit who has not remarked how
constant is this connection, and how very rarely men change fundamentally
the principles they had deliberately adopted on religious, moral, or even
political questions, without the change being preceded, accompanied, or
very speedily followed, by a serious modification of character. So, too, a
vicious and depraved nature, or a nature which is hard, narrow, and
unsympathetic, will tend, much less by calculation or indolence than by
natural affinity, to low and degrading views of human nature. Those who
have never felt the higher emotions will scarcely appreciate them. The
materials with which the intellect builds are often derived from the
heart, and a moral disease is therefore not unfrequently at the root of an
erroneous judgment.

Of these two truths the first cannot, I think, be said to have had any
influence in the formation of the theological notion of the guilt of
error. An elaborate process of mental discipline, with a view to
strengthening the critical powers of the mind, is utterly remote from the
spirit of theology; and this is one of the great reasons why the growth of
an inductive and scientific spirit is invariably hostile to theological
interests. To raise the requisite standard of proof, to inculcate hardness
and slowness of belief, is the first task of the inductive reasoner. He
looks with great favour upon the condition of a suspended judgment; he
encourages men rather to prolong than to abridge it; he regards the
tendency of the human mind to rapid and premature generalisations as one
of its most fatal vices; he desires especially that that which is believed
should not be so cherished that the mind should be indisposed to admit
doubt, or, on the appearance of new arguments, to revise with impartiality
its conclusions. Nearly all the greatest intellectual achievements of the
last three centuries have been preceded and prepared by the growth of
scepticism. The historic scepticism which Vico, Beaufort, Pouilly, and
Voltaire in the last century, and Niebuhr and Lewis in the present
century, applied to ancient history, lies at the root of all the great
modern efforts to reconstruct the history of mankind. The splendid
discoveries of physical science would have been impossible but for the
scientific scepticism of the school of Bacon, which dissipated the old
theories of the universe, and led men to demand a severity of proof
altogether unknown to the ancients. The philosophic scepticism with which
the system of Hume ended and the system of Kant began, has given the
greatest modern impulse to metaphysics and ethics. Exactly in proportion,
therefore, as men are educated in the inductive school, they are alienated
from those theological systems which represent a condition of doubt as
sinful, seek to govern the reason by the interests and the affections, and
make it a main object to destroy the impartiality of the judgment.

But although it is difficult to look upon Catholicism in any other light
than as the most deadly enemy of the scientific spirit, it has always
cordially recognised the most important truth, that character in a very
great measure determines opinions. To cultivate the moral type that is
most congenial to the opinions it desires to recommend has always been its
effort, and the conviction that a deviation from that type has often been
the predisposing cause of intellectual heresy, had doubtless a large share
in the first persuasion of the guilt of error. But priestly and other
influences soon conspired to enlarge this doctrine. A crowd of
speculative, historical, and administrative propositions were asserted as
essential to salvation, and all who rejected them were wholly external to
the bond of Christian sympathy.

If, indeed, we put aside the pure teaching of the Christian founders, and
consider the actual history of the Church since Constantine, we shall find
no justification for the popular theory that beneath its influence the
narrow spirit of patriotism faded into a wide and cosmopolitan
philanthropy. A real though somewhat languid feeling of universal
brotherhood had already been created in the world by the universality of
the Roman Empire. In the new faith the range of genuine sympathy was
strictly limited by the creed. According to the popular belief, all who
differed from the teaching of the orthodox lived under the hatred of the
Almighty, and were destined after death for an eternity of anguish. Very
naturally, therefore, they were wholly alienated from the true believers,
and no moral or intellectual excellence could atone for their crime in
propagating error. The eighty or ninety sects,(397) into which
Christianity speedily divided, hated one another with an intensity that
extorted the wonder of Julian and the ridicule of the Pagans of
Alexandria, and the fierce riots and persecutions that hatred produced
appear in every page of ecclesiastical history. There is, indeed,
something at once grotesque and ghastly in the spectacle. The Donatists,
having separated from the orthodox simply on the question of the validity
of the consecration of a certain bishop, declared that all who adopted the
orthodox view must be damned, refused to perform their rites in the
orthodox churches which they had seized, till they had burnt the altar and
scraped the wood, beat multitudes to death with clubs, blinded others by
anointing their eyes with lime, filled Africa, during nearly two
centuries, with war and desolation, and contributed largely to its final
ruin.(398) The childish and almost unintelligible quarrels between the
Homoiousians and the Homoousians, between those who maintained that the
nature of Christ was like that of the Father and those who maintained that
it was the same, filled the world with riot and hatred. The Catholics tell
how an Arian Emperor caused eighty orthodox priests to be drowned on a
single occasion;(399) how three thousand persons perished in the riots
that convulsed Constantinople when the Arian Bishop Macedonius superseded
the Athanasian Paul;(400) how George of Cappadocia, the Arian Bishop of
Alexandria, caused the widows of the Athanasian party to be scourged on
the soles of their feet, the holy virgins to be stripped naked, to be
flogged with the prickly branches of palm-trees, or to be slowly scorched
over fires till they abjured their creed.(401) The triumph of the
Catholics in Egypt was accompanied (if we may believe the solemn
assertions of eighty Arian Bishops) by every variety of plunder, murder,
sacrilege, and outrage,(402) and Arius himself was probably poisoned by
Catholic hands.(403) The followers of St. Cyril of Alexandria, who were
chiefly monks, filled their city with riot and bloodshed, wounded the
prefect Orestes, dragged the pure and gifted Hypatia into one of their
churches, murdered her, tore the flesh from her bones with sharp shells,
and, having stripped her body naked, flung her mangled remains into the
flames.(404) In Ephesus, during the contest between St. Cyril and the
Nestorians, the cathedral itself was the theatre of a fierce and bloody
conflict.(405) Constantinople, on the occasion of the deposition of St.
Chrysostom, was for several days in a condition of absolute anarchy.(406)
After the Council of Chalcedon, Jerusalem and Alexandria were again
convulsed, and the bishop of the latter city was murdered in his
baptistery.(407) About fifty years later, when the Monophysite controversy
was at its height, the palace of the emperor at Constantinople was
blockaded, the churches were besieged, and the streets commanded by
furious bands of contending monks.(408) Repressed for a time, the riots
broke out two years after with an increased ferocity, and almost every
leading city of the East was filled by the monks with bloodshed and with
outrage.(409) St. Augustine himself is accused of having excited every
kind of popular persecution against the Semi-Pelagians.(410) The Councils,
animated by an almost frantic hatred, urged on by their anathemas the
rival sects.(411) In the “Robber Council” of Ephesus, Flavianus, the
Bishop of Constantinople, was kicked and beaten by the Bishop of
Alexandria, or at least by his followers, and a few days later died from
the effect of the blows.(412) In the contested election that resulted in
the election of St. Damasus as Pope of Rome, though no theological
question appears to have been at issue, the riots were so fierce that one
hundred and thirty-seven corpses were found in one of the churches.(413)
The precedent of the Jewish persecutions of idolatry having been adduced
by St. Cyprian, in the third century, in favour of excommunication,(414)
was urged by Optatus, in the reign of Constantine, in favour of
persecuting the Donatists;(415) in the next reign we find a large body of
Christians presenting to the emperor a petition, based upon this
precedent, imploring him to destroy by force the Pagan worship.(416) About
fifteen years later, the whole Christian Church was prepared, on the same
grounds, to support the persecuting policy of St. Ambrose,(417) the
contending sects having found, in the duty of crushing religious liberty,
the solitary tenet on which they were agreed. The most unaggressive and
unobtrusive forms of Paganism were persecuted with the same ferocity.(418)
To offer a sacrifice was to commit a capital offence; to hang up a simple
chaplet was to incur the forfeiture of an estate. The noblest works of
Asiatic architecture and of Greek sculpture perished by the same
iconoclasm that shattered the humble temple at which the peasant loved to
pray, or the household gods which consecrated his home. There were no
varieties of belief too minute for the new intolerance to embitter. The
question of the proper time of celebrating Easter was believed to involve
the issue of salvation or damnation;(419) and when, long after, in the
fourteenth century, the question of the nature of the light at the
transfiguration was discussed at Constantinople, those who refused to
admit that that light was uncreated, were deprived of the honours of
Christian burial.(420)

Together with these legislative and ecclesiastical measures, a literature
arose surpassing in its mendacious ferocity any other the world had known.
The polemical writers habitually painted as dæmons those who diverged from
the orthodox belief, gloated with a vindictive piety over the sufferings
of the heretic upon earth, as upon a Divine punishment, and sometimes,
with an almost superhuman malice, passing in imagination beyond the
threshold of the grave, exulted in no ambiguous terms on the tortures
which they believed to be reserved for him for ever. A few men, such as
Synesius, Basil, or Salvian, might still find some excellence in Pagans or
heretics, but their candour was altogether exceptional; and he who will
compare the beautiful pictures the Greek poets gave of their Trojan
adversaries, or the Roman historians of the enemies of their country, with
those which ecclesiastical writers, for many centuries, almost invariably
gave of all who were opposed to their Church, may easily estimate the
extent to which cosmopolitan sympathy had retrograded.

At the period, however, when the Western monasteries began to discharge
their intellectual functions, the supremacy of Catholicism was nearly
established, and polemical ardour had begun to wane. The literary zeal of
the Church took other forms, but all were deeply tinged by the monastic
spirit. It is difficult or impossible to conceive what would have been the
intellectual future of the world had Catholicism never arisen—what
principles or impulses would have guided the course of the human mind, or
what new institutions would have been created for its culture. Under the
influence of Catholicism, the monastery became the one sphere of
intellectual labour, and it continued during many centuries to occupy that
position. Without entering into anything resembling a literary history,
which would be foreign to the objects of the present work, I shall
endeavour briefly to estimate the manner in which it discharged its

The first idea that is naturally suggested by the mention of the
intellectual services of monasteries is the preservation of the writings
of the Pagans. I have already observed that among the early Christians
there was a marked difference on the subject of their writings. The school
which was represented by Tertullian regarded them with abhorrence; while
the Platonists, who were represented by Justin Martyr, Clement of
Alexandria, and Origen, not merely recognised with great cordiality their
beauties, but even imagined that they could detect in them both the traces
of an original Divine inspiration, and plagiarisms from the Jewish
writings. While avoiding, for the most part, these extremes, St.
Augustine, the great organiser of Western Christianity, treats the Pagan
writings with appreciative respect. He had himself ascribed his first
conversion from a course of vice to the ’Hortensius’ of Cicero, and his
works are full of discriminating, and often very beautiful, applications
of the old Roman literature. The attempt of Julian to prevent the
Christians from teaching the classics, and the extreme resentment which
that attempt elicited, show how highly the Christian leaders of that
period valued this form of education; and it was naturally the more
cherished on account of the contest. The influence of Neoplatonism, the
baptism of multitudes of nominal Christians after Constantine, and the
decline of zeal which necessarily accompanied prosperity, had all in
different ways the same tendency. In Synesius we have the curious
phenomenon of a bishop who, not content with proclaiming himself the
admiring friend of the Pagan Hypatia, openly declared his complete
disbelief in the resurrection of the body, and his firm adhesion to the
Platonic doctrine of the pre-existence of souls.(421) Had the
ecclesiastical theory prevailed which gave such latitude even to the
leaders of the Church, the course of Christianity would have been very
different. A reactionary spirit, however, arose at Rome. The doctrine of
exclusive salvation supplied its intellectual basis; the political and
organising genius of the Roman ecclesiastics impelled them to reduce
belief into a rigid form; the genius of St. Gregory guided the
movement,(422) and a series of historical events, of which the
ecclesiastical and political separation of the Western empire from the
speculative Greeks, and the invasion and conversion of the barbarians,
were the most important, definitely established the ascendancy of the
Catholic type. In the convulsions that followed the barbarian invasions,
intellectual energy of a secular kind almost absolutely ceased. A parting
gleam issued, indeed, in the sixth century, from the Court of Theodoric,
at Ravenna, which was adorned by the genius of Boëthius, and the talent of
Cassiodorus and Symmachus, but after this time, for a long period,
literature consisted almost exclusively of sermons and lives of saints,
which were composed in the monasteries.(423) Gregory of Tours was
succeeded as an annalist by the still feebler Fredegarius, and there was
then a long and absolute blank. A few outlying countries showed some faint
animation. St. Leander and St. Isidore planted at Seville a school, which
flourished in the seventh century, and the distant monasteries of Ireland
continued somewhat later to be the receptacles of learning; but the rest
of Europe sank into an almost absolute torpor, till the rationalism of
Abelard, and the events that followed the crusades, began the revival of
learning. The principal service which Catholicism rendered during this
period to Pagan literature was probably the perpetuation of Latin as a
sacred language. The complete absence of all curiosity about that
literature is shown by the fact that Greek was suffered to become almost
absolutely extinct, though there was no time when the Western nations had
not some relations with the Greek empire, or when pilgrimages to the Holy
Land altogether ceased. The study of the Latin classics was for the most
part positively discouraged. The writers, it was believed, were burning in
hell; the monks were too inflated with their imaginary knowledge to regard
with any respect a Pagan writer, and periodical panics about the
approaching termination of the world continually checked any desire for
secular learning.(424) It was the custom among some monks, when they were
under the discipline of silence, and desired to ask for Virgil, Horace, or
any other Gentile work, to indicate their wish by scratching their ears
like a dog, to which animal it was thought the Pagans might be reasonably
compared.(425) The monasteries contained, it is said, during some time,
the only libraries in Europe, and were therefore the sole receptacles of
the Pagan manuscripts; but we cannot infer from this that, if the
monasteries had not existed, similar libraries would not have been called
into being in their place. To the occasional industry of the monks, in
copying the works of antiquity, we must oppose the industry they
displayed, though chiefly at a somewhat later period, in scraping the
ancient parchments, in order that, having obliterated the writing of the
Pagans, they might cover them with their own legends.(426)

There are some aspects, however, in which the monastic period of
literature appears eminently beautiful. The fretfulness and impatience and
extreme tension of modern literary life, the many anxieties that paralyse,
and the feverish craving for applause that perverts, so many noble
intellects, were then unknown. Severed from all the cares of active life,
in the deep calm of the monastery, where the turmoil of the outer world
could never come, the monkish scholar pursued his studies in a spirit
which has now almost faded from the world. No doubt had ever disturbed his
mind. To him the problem of the universe seemed solved. Expatiating for
ever with unfaltering faith upon the unseen world, he had learnt to live
for it alone. His hopes were not fixed upon human greatness or fame, but
upon the pardon of his sins, and the rewards of a happier world. A crowd
of quaint and often beautiful legends illustrate the deep union that
subsisted between literature and religion. It is related of Cædmon, the
first great poet of the Anglo-Saxons, that he found in the secular life no
vent for his hidden genius. When the warriors assembled at their banquets,
sang in turn the praises of war or beauty, as the instrument passed to
him, he rose and went out with a sad heart, for he alone was unable to
weave his thoughts in verse. Wearied and desponding he lay down to rest,
when a figure appeared to him in his dream and commanded him to sing the
Creation of the World. A transport of religious fervour thrilled his
brain, his imprisoned intellect was unlocked, and he soon became the
foremost poet of his land.(427) A Spanish boy, having long tried in vain
to master his task, and driven to despair by the severity of his teacher,
ran away from his father’s home. Tired with wandering, and full of anxious
thoughts, he sat down to rest by the margin of a well, when his eye was
caught by the deep furrow in the stone. He asked a girl who was drawing
water to explain it, and she told him that it had been worn by the
constant attrition of the rope. The poor boy, who was already full of
remorse for what he had done, recognised in the reply a Divine intimation.
“If,” he thought, “by daily use the soft rope could thus penetrate the
hard stone, surely a long perseverance could overcome the dulness of my
brain.” He returned to his father’s house; he laboured with redoubled
earnestness, and he lived to be the great St. Isidore of Spain.(428) A
monk who had led a vicious life was saved, it is said, from hell, because
it was found that his sins, though very numerous, were just outnumbered by
the letters of a ponderous and devout book he had written.(429) The Holy
Spirit, in the shape of a dove, had been seen to inspire St. Gregory; and
the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, and of several other theologians, had
been expressly applauded by Christ or by his saints. When, twenty years
after death, the tomb of a certain monkish writer was opened, it was found
that, although the remainder of the body had crumbled into dust, the hand
that had held the pen remained flexible and undecayed.(430) A young and
nameless scholar was once buried near a convent at Bonn. The night after
his funeral, a nun whose cell overlooked the cemetery was awakened by a
brilliant light that filled the room. She started up, imagining that the
day had dawned, but on looking out she found that it was still night,
though a dazzling splendour was around. A female form of matchless
loveliness was bending over the scholar’s grave. The effluence of her
beauty filled the air with light, and she clasped to her heart a
snow-white dove that rose to meet her from the tomb. It was the Mother of
God come to receive the soul of the martyred scholar; “for scholars too,”
adds the old chronicler, “are martyrs if they live in purity and labour
with courage.”(431)

But legends of this kind, though not without a very real beauty, must not
blind us to the fact that the period of Catholic ascendancy was on the
whole one of the most deplorable in the history of the human mind. The
energies of Christendom were diverted from all useful and progressive
studies, and were wholly expended on theological disquisitions. A crowd of
superstitions, attributed to infallible wisdom, barred the path of
knowledge, and the charge of magic, or the charge of heresy, crushed every
bold enquiry in the sphere of physical nature or of opinions. Above all,
the conditions of true enquiry had been cursed by the Church. A blind
unquestioning credulity was inculcated as the first of duties, and the
habit of doubt, the impartiality of a suspended judgment, the desire to
hear both sides of a disputed question, and to emancipate the judgment
from unreasoning prejudice, were all in consequence condemned. The belief
in the guilt of error and doubt became universal, and that belief may be
confidently pronounced to be the most pernicious superstition that has
ever been accredited among mankind. Mistaken facts are rectified by
enquiry. Mistaken methods of research, though far more inveterate, are
gradually altered; but the spirit that shrinks from enquiry as sinful, and
deems a state of doubt a state of guilt, is the most enduring disease that
can afflict the mind of man. Not till the education of Europe passed from
the monasteries to the universities, not till Mohammedan science, and
classical free-thought, and industrial independence broke the sceptre of
the Church, did the intellectual revival of Europe begin.

I am aware that so strong a statement of the intellectual darkness of the
middle ages is likely to encounter opposition from many quarters. The
blindness which the philosophers of the eighteenth century manifested to
their better side has produced a reaction which has led many to an
opposite, and, I believe, far more erroneous extreme. Some have become
eulogists of the period, through love of its distinctive theological
doctrines, and others through archæological enthusiasm, while a very
pretentious and dogmatic, but, I think, sometimes superficial, school of
writers, who loudly boast themselves the regenerators of history, and
treat with supreme contempt all the varieties of theological opinion, are
accustomed, partly through a very shallow historical optimism which
scarcely admits the possibility of retrogression, and partly through
sympathy with the despotic character of Catholicism, to extol the mediæval
society in the most extravagant terms. Without entering into a lengthy
examination of this subject, I may be permitted to indicate shortly two or
three fallacies which are continually displayed in their appreciations.

It is an undoubted truth that, for a considerable period, almost all the
knowledge of Europe was included in the monasteries, and from this it is
continually inferred that, had these institutions not existed, knowledge
would have been absolutely extinguished. But such a conclusion I conceive
to be altogether untrue. During the period of the Pagan empire,
intellectual life had been diffused over a vast portion of the globe.
Egypt and Asia Minor had become great centres of civilisation. Greece was
still a land of learning. Spain, Gaul, and even Britain,(432) were full of
libraries and teachers. The schools of Narbonne, Arles, Bordeaux,
Toulouse, Lyons, Marseilles, Poitiers, and Trèves were already famous. The
Christian emperor Gratian, in A.D. 376, carried out in Gaul a system
similar to that which had already, under the Antonines, been pursued in
Italy, ordaining that teachers should be supported by the State in every
leading city.(433) To suppose that Latin literature, having been so widely
diffused, could have totally perished, or that all interest in it could
have permanently ceased, even under the extremely unfavourable
circumstances that followed the downfall of the Roman Empire and the
Mohammedan invasions, is, I conceive, absurd. If Catholicism had never
existed, the human mind would have sought other spheres for its
development, and at least a part of the treasures of antiquity would have
been preserved in other ways. The monasteries, as corporations of peaceful
men protected from the incursions of the barbarians, became very naturally
the reservoirs to which the streams of literature flowed; but much of what
they are represented as creating, they had in reality only attracted. The
inviolable sanctity which they secured rendered them invaluable
receptacles of ancient learning in a period of anarchy and perpetual war,
and the industry of the monks in transcribing, probably more than
counterbalanced their industry in effacing, the classical writings. The
ecclesiastical unity of Christendom was also of extreme importance in
rendering possible a general interchange of ideas. Whether these services
outweighed the intellectual evils resulting from the complete diversion of
the human mind from all secular learning, and from the persistent
inculcation, as a matter of duty, of that habit of abject credulity which
it is the first task of the intellectual reformer to eradicate, may be
reasonably doubted.

It is not unfrequent, again, to hear the preceding fallacy stated in a
somewhat different form. We are reminded that almost all the men of genius
during several centuries were great theologians, and we are asked to
conceive the more than Egyptian darkness that would have prevailed had the
Catholic theology which produced them not existed. This judgment resembles
that of the prisoner in a famous passage of Cicero, who, having spent his
entire life in a dark dungeon, and knowing the light of day only from a
single ray which passed through a fissure in the wall, inferred that if
the wall were removed, as the fissure would no longer exist, all light
would be excluded. Mediæval Catholicism discouraged and suppressed in
every way secular studies, while it conferred a monopoly of wealth and
honour and power upon the distinguished theologian. Very naturally,
therefore, it attracted into the path of theology the genius that would
have existed without it, but would under other circumstances have been
displayed in other forms.

It is not to be inferred, however, from this, that mediæval Catholicism
had not, in the sphere of intellect, any real creative power. A great
moral or religious enthusiasm always evokes a certain amount of genius
that would not otherwise have existed, or at least been displayed, and the
monasteries were peculiarly fitted to develop certain casts of mind, which
in no other sphere could have so perfectly expanded. The great writings of
St. Thomas Aquinas(434) and his followers, and, in more modern times, the
massive and conscientious erudition of the Benedictines, will always make
certain periods of the monastic history venerable to the scholar. But,
when we remember that during many centuries nearly every one possessing
any literary taste or talents became a monk, when we recollect that these
monks were familiar with the language, and might easily have been familiar
with the noble literature, of ancient Rome, and when we also consider the
mode of their life, which would seem, from its freedom from care, and from
the very monotony of its routine, peculiarly calculated to impel them to
study, we can hardly fail to wonder how very little of any real value they
added, for so long a period, to the knowledge of mankind. It is indeed a
remarkable fact that, even in the ages when the Catholic ascendancy was
most perfect, some of the greatest achievements were either opposed or
simply external to ecclesiastical influence. Roger Bacon, having been a
monk, is frequently spoken of as a creature of Catholic teaching. But
there never was a more striking instance of the force of a great genius in
resisting the tendencies of his age. At a time when physical science was
continually neglected, discouraged, or condemned, at a time when all the
great prizes of the world were open to men who pursued a very different
course, Bacon applied himself with transcendent genius to the study of
nature. Fourteen years of his life were spent in prison, and when he died
his name was blasted as a magician. The mediæval laboratories were chiefly
due to the pursuit of alchemy, or to Mohammedan encouragement. The
inventions of the mariner’s compass, of gunpowder, and of rag paper were
all, indeed, of extreme importance; but no part of the credit of them
belongs to the monks. Their origin is involved in much obscurity, but it
is almost certain that the last two, at all events, were first employed in
Europe by the Mohammedans of Spain. Cotton paper was in use among these as
early as 1009. Among the Christian nations it appears to have been unknown
till late in the thirteenth century. The first instance of the employment
of artillery among Christian nations was at the battle of Crecy, but the
knowledge of gunpowder among them has been traced back as far as 1338.
There is abundant evidence, however, of its employment in Spain by
Mohammedans in several sieges in the thirteenth century, and even in a
battle between the Moors of Seville and those of Tunis at the end of the
eleventh century.(435) In invention, indeed, as well as in original
research, the mediæval monasteries were singularly barren. They cultivated
formal logic to great perfection. They produced many patient and
laborious, though, for the most part, wholly uncritical scholars, and many
philosophers who, having assumed their premises with unfaltering faith,
reasoned from them with admirable subtlety; but they taught men to regard
the sacrifice of secular learning as a noble thing; they impressed upon
them a theory of the habitual government of the universe, which is
absolutely untrue; and they diffused, wherever their influence extended,
habits of credulity and intolerance that are the most deadly poisons to
the human mind.

It is, again, very frequently observed among the more philosophic
eulogists of the mediæval period, that although the Catholic Church is a
trammel and an obstacle to the progress of civilised nations, although it
would be scarcely possible to exaggerate the misery her persecuting spirit
caused, when the human mind had outstripped her teaching; yet there was a
time when she was greatly in advance of the age, and the complete and
absolute ascendancy she then exercised was intellectually eminently
beneficial. That there is much truth in this view, I have myself
repeatedly maintained. But when men proceed to isolate the former period,
and to make it the theme of unqualified eulogy, they fall, I think, into a
grave error. The evils that sprang from the later period of Catholic
ascendancy were not an accident or a perversion, but a normal and
necessary consequence of the previous despotism. The principles which were
imposed on the mediæval world, and which were the conditions of so much of
its distinctive excellence, were of such a nature that they claimed to be
final, and could not possibly be discarded without a struggle and a
convulsion. We must estimate the influence of these principles considered
as a whole, and during the entire period of their operation. There are
some poisons which, before they kill men, allay pain and diffuse a
soothing sensation through the frame. We may recognise the hour of
enjoyment they procure, but we must not separate it from the price at
which it is purchased.

The extremely unfavourable influence the Catholic Church long exercised
upon intellectual development had important moral consequences. Although
moral progress does not necessarily depend upon intellectual progress it
is materially affected by it, intellectual activity being the most
important element in the growth of that great and complex organism which
we call civilisation. The mediæval credulity had also a more direct moral
influence in producing that indifference to truth, which is the most
repulsive feature of so many Catholic writings. The very large part that
must be assigned to deliberate forgeries in the early apologetic
literature of the Church we have already seen; and no impartial reader
can, I think, investigate the innumerable grotesque and lying legends
that, during the whole course of the Middle Ages, were deliberately palmed
upon mankind as undoubted facts, can follow the histories of the false
decretals, and the discussions that were connected with them, or can
observe the complete and absolute incapacity most Catholic historians have
displayed, of conceiving any good thing in the ranks of their opponents,
or of stating with common fairness any consideration that can tell against
their cause, without acknowledging how serious and how inveterate has been
the evil. There have, no doubt, been many noble individual exceptions. Yet
it is, I believe, difficult to exaggerate the extent to which this moral
defect exists in most of the ancient and very much of the modern
literature of Catholicism. It is this which makes it so unspeakably
repulsive to all independent and impartial thinkers, and has led a great
German historian(436) to declare, with much bitterness, that the phrase
Christian veracity deserves to rank with the phrase Punic faith. But this
absolute indifference to truth whenever falsehood could subserve the
interests of the Church is perfectly explicable, and was found in
multitudes who, in other respects, exhibited the noblest virtue. An age
which has ceased to value impartiality of judgment will soon cease to
value accuracy of statement; and when credulity is inculcated as a virtue,
falsehood will not long be stigmatised as a vice. When, too, men are
firmly convinced that salvation can only be found within their Church, and
that their Church can absolve from all guilt, they will speedily conclude
that nothing can possibly be wrong which is beneficial to it. They
exchange the love of truth for what they call the love of _the_ truth.
They regard morals as derived from and subordinate to theology, and they
regulate all their statements, not by the standard of veracity, but by the
interests of their creed.

Another important moral consequence of the monastic system was the great
prominence given to pecuniary compensations for crime. It had been at
first one of the broad distinctions between Paganism and Christianity,
that, while the rites of the former were for the most part unconnected
with moral dispositions, Christianity made purity of heart an essential
element of all its worship. Among the Pagans a few faint efforts had, it
is true, been made in this direction. An old precept or law, which is
referred to by Cicero, and which was strongly reiterated by Apollonius of
Tyana, and the Pythagoreans, declared that “no impious man should dare to
appease the anger of the divinities by gifts;”(437) and oracles are said
to have more than once proclaimed that the hecatombs of noble oxen with
gilded horns that were offered up ostentatiously by the rich, were less
pleasing to the gods than the wreaths of flowers and the modest and
reverential worship of the poor.(438) In general, however, in the Pagan
world, the service of the temple had little or no connection with morals,
and the change which Christianity effected in this respect was one of its
most important benefits to mankind. It was natural, however, and perhaps
inevitable, that in the course of time, and under the action of very
various causes, the old Pagan sentiment should revive, and even with an
increased intensity. In no respect had the Christians been more nobly
distinguished than by their charity. It was not surprising that the
Fathers, while exerting all their eloquence to stimulate this
virtue—especially during the calamities that accompanied the dissolution
of the Empire—should have dilated in extremely strong terms upon the
spiritual benefits the donor would receive for his gift. It is also not
surprising that this selfish calculation should gradually, and among hard
and ignorant men, have absorbed all other motives. A curious legend, which
is related by a writer of the seventh century, illustrates the kind of
feeling that had arisen. The Christian bishop Synesius succeeded in
converting a Pagan named Evagrius, who for a long time, however, felt
doubts about the passage, “He who giveth to the poor lendeth to the Lord.”
On his conversion, and in obedience to this verse, he gave Synesius three
hundred pieces of gold to be distributed among the poor; but he exacted
from the bishop, as the representative of Christ, a promissory note,
engaging that he should be repaid in the future world. Many years later,
Evagrius, being on his death-bed, commanded his sons, when they buried
him, to place the note in his hand, and to do so without informing
Synesius. His dying injunction was observed, and three days afterwards he
appeared to Synesius in a dream, told him that the debt had been paid, and
ordered him to go to the tomb, where he would find a written receipt.
Synesius did as he was commanded, and, the grave being opened, the
promissory note was found in the hand of the dead man, with an endorsement
declaring that the debt had been paid by Christ. The note, it was said,
was long after preserved as a relic in the church of Cyrene.

The kind of feeling which this legend displays was soon turned with
tenfold force into the channel of monastic life. A law of Constantine
accorded, and several later laws enlarged, the power of bequests to
ecclesiastics. Ecclesiastical property was at the same time exonerated
from the public burdens, and this measure not only directly assisted its
increase, but had also an important indirect influence; for, when taxation
was heavy, many laymen ceded the ownership of their estates to the
monasteries, with a secret condition that they should, as vassals, receive
the revenues unburdened by taxation, and subject only to a slight payment
to the monks as to their feudal lords.(439) The monks were regarded as the
trustees of the poor, and also as themselves typical poor, and all the
promises that applied to those who gave to the poor applied, it was said,
to the benefactors of the monasteries. The monastic chapel also contained
the relics of saints or sacred images of miraculous power, and throngs of
worshippers were attracted by the miracles, and desired to place
themselves under the protection, of the saint. It is no exaggeration to
say that to give money to the priests was for several centuries the first
article of the moral code. Political minds may have felt the importance of
aggrandising a pacific and industrious class in the centre of a
disorganised society, and family affection may have predisposed many in
favour of institutions which contained at least one member of most
families; but in the overwhelming majority of cases the motive was simple
superstition. In seasons of sickness, of danger, of sorrow, or of remorse,
whenever the fear or the conscience of the worshipper was awakened, he
hastened to purchase with money the favour of a saint. Above all, in the
hour of death, when the terrors of the future world loomed darkly upon his
mind, he saw in a gift or legacy to the monks a sure means of effacing the
most monstrous crimes, and securing his ultimate happiness. A rich man was
soon scarcely deemed a Christian if he did not leave a portion of his
property to the Church, and the charters of innumerable monasteries in
every part of Europe attest the vast tracts of land that were ceded by
will to the monks, “for the benefit of the soul” of the testator.(440)

It has been observed by a great historian that we may trace three distinct
phases in the early history of the Church. In the first period religion
was a question of morals; in the second period, which culminated in the
fifth century, it had become a question of orthodoxy; in the third period,
which dates from the seventh century, it was a question of munificence to
monasteries.(441) The despotism of Catholicism, and the ignorance that
followed the barbarian invasions, had repressed the struggles of heresy,
and in the period of almost absolute darkness that continued from the
sixth to the twelfth century, the theological ideal of unquestioning faith
and of perfect unanimity was all but realised in the West. All the energy
that in previous ages had been expended in combating heresy was now
expended in acquiring wealth. The people compounded for the most atrocious
crimes by gifts to shrines of those saints whose intercession was supposed
to be unfailing. The monks, partly by the natural cessation of their old
enthusiasm, partly by the absence of any hostile criticism of their acts,
and partly too by the very wealth they had acquired, sank into gross and
general immorality. The great majority of them had probably at no time
been either saints actuated by a strong religious motive, nor yet diseased
and desponding minds seeking a refuge from the world; they had been simply
peasants, of no extraordinary devotion or sensitiveness, who preferred an
ensured subsistence, with no care, little labour, a much higher social
position than they could otherwise acquire, and the certainty, as they
believed, of going to heaven, to the laborious and precarious existence of
the serf, relieved, indeed, by the privilege of marriage, but exposed to
military service, to extreme hardships, and to constant oppression. Very
naturally, when they could do so with impunity, they broke their vows of
chastity. Very naturally, too, they availed themselves to the full of the
condition of affairs, to draw as much wealth as possible into their
community.(442) The belief in the approaching end of the world, especially
at the close of the tenth century, the crusades, which gave rise to a
profitable traffic in the form of a pecuniary commutation of vows, and the
black death, which produced a paroxysm of religious fanaticism, stimulated
the movement. In the monkish chronicles, the merits of sovereigns are
almost exclusively judged by their bounty to the Church, and in some cases
this is the sole part of their policy which has been preserved.(443)

There were, no doubt, a few redeeming points in this dark period. The
Irish monks are said to have been honourably distinguished for their
reluctance to accept the lavish donations of their admirers,(444) and some
missionary monasteries of a high order of excellence were scattered
through Europe. A few legends, too, may be cited censuring the facility
with which money acquired by crime was accepted as an atonement for
crime.(445) But these cases were very rare, and the religious history of
several centuries is little more than a history of the rapacity of priests
and of the credulity of laymen. In England, the perpetual demands of the
Pope excited a fierce resentment; and we may trace with remarkable
clearness, in every page of Matthew Paris, the alienation of sympathy
arising from this cause, which prepared and foreshadowed the final rupture
of England from the Church. Ireland, on the other hand, had been given
over by two Popes to the English invader, on the condition of the payment
of Peter’s pence. The outrageous and notorious immorality of the
monasteries, during the century before the Reformation, was chiefly due to
their great wealth; and that immorality, as the writings of Erasmus and
Ulric von Hutten show, gave a powerful impulse to the new movement, while
the abuses of the indulgences were the immediate cause of the revolt of
Luther. But these things arrived only after many centuries of successful
fraud. The religious terrorism that was unscrupulously employed had done
its work, and the chief riches of Christendom had passed into the coffers
of the Church.

It is, indeed, probable that religious terrorism played a more important
part in the monastic phase of Christianity than it had done even in the
great work of the conversion of the Pagans. Although two or three amiable
theologians had made faint and altogether abortive attempts to question
the eternity of punishment; although there had been some slight difference
of opinion concerning the future of some Pagan philosophers who had lived
before the introduction of Christianity, and also upon the question
whether infants who died unbaptised were only deprived of all joy, or were
actually subjected to never-ending agony, there was no question as to the
main features of the Catholic doctrine. According to the patristic
theologians, it was part of the gospel revelation that the misery and
suffering the human race endures upon earth is but a feeble image of that
which awaits it in the future world; that all its members beyond the
Church, as well as a very large proportion of those who are within its
pale, are doomed to an eternity of agony in a literal and undying fire.
The monastic legends took up this doctrine, which in itself is
sufficiently revolting, and they developed it with an appalling vividness
and minuteness. St. Macarius, it is said, when walking one day through the
desert, saw a skull upon the ground. He struck it with his staff and it
began to speak. It told him that it was the skull of a Pagan priest who
had lived before the introduction of Christianity into the world, and who
had accordingly been doomed to hell. As high as the heaven is above the
earth, so high does the fire of hell mount in waves above the souls that
are plunged into it. The damned souls were pressed together back to back,
and the lost priest made it his single entreaty to the saint that he would
pray that they might be turned face to face, for he believed that the
sight of a brother’s face might afford him some faint consolation in the
eternity of agony that was before him.(446) The story is well known of how
St. Gregory, seeing on a bas-relief a representation of the goodness of
Trajan to a poor widow, pitied the Pagan emperor, whom he knew to be in
hell, and prayed that he might be released. He was told that his prayer
was altogether unprecedented; but at last, on his promising that he would
never offer such a prayer again, it was partially granted. Trajan was not
withdrawn from hell, but he was freed from the torments which the
remainder of the Pagan world endured.(447)

An entire literature of visions depicting the torments of hell was soon
produced by the industry of the monks. The apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus,
which purported to describe the descent of Christ into the lower world,
contributed to foster it; and St. Gregory the Great has related many
visions in a more famous work, which professed to be compiled with
scrupulous veracity from the most authentic sources,(448) and of which it
may be confidently averred that it scarcely contains a single page which
is not tainted with grotesque and deliberate falsehood. Men, it was said,
passed into a trance or temporary death, and were then carried for a time
to hell. Among others, a certain man named Stephen, from whose lips the
saint declares that he had heard the tale, had died by mistake. When his
soul was borne to the gates of hell, the Judge declared that it was
another Stephen who was wanted; the disembodied spirit, after inspecting
hell, was restored to its former body, and the next day it was known that
another Stephen had died.(449) Volcanoes were the portals of hell, and a
hermit had seen the soul of the Arian emperor Theodoric, as St. Eucherius
afterwards did the soul of Charles Martel, carried down that in the Island
of Lipari.(450) The craters in Sicily, it was remarked, were continually
agitated, and continually increasing, and this, as St. Gregory observes,
was probably due to the impending ruin of the world, when the great press
of lost souls would render it necessary to enlarge the approaches to their

But the glimpses of hell that are furnished in the “Dialogues” of St.
Gregory appear meagre and unimaginative, compared with those of some later
monks. A long series of monastic visions, of which that of St. Fursey, in
the seventh century, was one of the first, and which followed in rapid
succession, till that of Tundale, in the twelfth century, professed to
describe with the most detailed accuracy the condition of the lost.(452)
It is impossible to conceive more ghastly, grotesque, and material
conceptions of the future world than they evince, or more hideous
calumnies against that Being who was supposed to inflict upon His
creatures such unspeakable misery. The devil was represented bound by
red-hot chains, on a burning gridiron in the centre of hell. The screams
of his never-ending agony made its rafters to resound; but his hands were
free, and with these he seized the lost souls, crushed them like grapes
against his teeth, and then drew them by his breath down the fiery cavern
of his throat. Dæmons with hooks of red-hot iron plunged souls alternately
into fire and ice. Some of the lost were hung up by their tongues, others
were sawn asunder, others gnawed by serpents, others beaten together on an
anvil and welded into a single mass, others boiled and then strained
through a cloth, others twined in the embraces of dæmons whose limbs were
of flame. The fire of earth, it was said, was but a picture of that of
hell. The latter was so immeasurably more intense that it alone could be
called real. Sulphur was mixed with it, partly to increase its heat, and
partly, too, in order that an insufferable stench might be added to the
misery of the lost, while, unlike other flames, it emitted, according to
some visions, no light, that the horror of darkness might be added to the
horror of pain. A narrow bridge spanned the abyss, and from it the souls
of sinners were plunged into the darkness that was below.(453)

Such catalogues of horrors, though they now awake in an educated man a
sentiment of mingled disgust, weariness, and contempt, were able for many
centuries to create a degree of panic and of misery we can scarcely
realise. With the exception of the heretic Pelagius, whose noble genius,
anticipating the discoveries of modern science, had repudiated the
theological notion of death having been introduced into the world on
account of the act of Adam, it was universally held among Christians that
all the forms of suffering and dissolution that are manifested on earth
were penal inflictions. The destruction of the world was generally
believed to be at hand. The minds of men were filled with images of the
approaching catastrophe, and innumerable legends of visible dæmons were
industriously circulated. It was the custom then, as it is the custom now,
for Catholic priests to stain the imaginations of young children by
ghastly pictures of future misery, to imprint upon the virgin mind
atrocious images which they hoped, not unreasonably, might prove
indelible.(454) In hours of weakness and of sickness their overwrought
fancy seemed to see hideous beings hovering around, and hell itself
yawning to receive its victim. St. Gregory describes how a monk, who,
though apparently a man of exemplary and even saintly piety, had been
accustomed secretly to eat meat, saw on his deathbed a fearful dragon
twining its tail round his body, and, with open jaws, sucking his
breath;(455) and how a little boy of five years old, who had learnt from
his father to repeat blasphemous words, saw, as he lay dying, exulting
dæmons who were waiting to carry him to hell.(456) To the jaundiced eye of
the theologian, all nature seemed stricken and forlorn, and its brightness
and beauty suggested no ideas but those of deception and of sin. The
redbreast, according to one popular legend, was commissioned by the Deity
to carry a drop of water to the souls of unbaptised infants in hell, and
its breast was singed in piercing the flames.(457) In the calm, still hour
of evening, when the peasant boy asked why the sinking sun, as it dipped
beneath the horizon, flushed with such a glorious red, he was answered, in
the words of an old Saxon catechism, because it is then looking into

It is related in the vision of Tundale, that as he gazed upon the burning
plains of hell, and listened to the screams of ceaseless and hopeless
agony that were wrung from the sufferers, the cry broke from his lips,
“Alas, Lord! what truth is there in what I have so often heard—the earth
is filled with the mercy of God?”(459) It is, indeed, one of the most
curious things in moral history, to observe how men who were sincerely
indignant with Pagan writers for attributing to their divinities the
frailties of an occasional jealousy or an occasional sensuality—for
representing them, in a word, like men of mingled characters and
passions—have nevertheless unscrupulously attributed to their own Divinity
a degree of cruelty which may be confidently said to transcend the utmost
barbarity of which human nature is capable. Neither Nero nor Phalaris
could have looked complacently for ever on millions enduring the torture
of fire—most of them because of a crime which was committed, not by
themselves, but by their ancestors, or because they had adopted some
mistaken conclusion on intricate questions of history or metaphysics.(460)
To those who do not regard such teaching as true, it must appear without
exception the most odious in the religious history of the world,
subversive of the very foundations of morals, and well fitted to transform
the man who at once realised it, and accepted it with pleasure, into a
monster of barbarity. Of the writers of the mediæval period, certainly one
of the two or three most eminent was Peter Lombard, whose “Sentences,”
though now, I believe, but little read, were for a long time the basis of
all theological literature in Europe. More than four thousand theologians
are said to have written commentaries upon them(461)—among others, Albert
the Great, St. Bonaventura, and St. Thomas Aquinas. Nor is the work
unworthy of its former reputation. Calm, clear, logical, subtle, and
concise, the author professes to expound the whole system of Catholic
theology and ethics, and to reveal the interdependence of their various
parts. Having explained the position and the duties, he proceeds to
examine the prospects, of man. He maintains that until the day of judgment
the inhabitants of heaven and hell will continually see one another; but
that, in the succeeding eternity, the inhabitants of heaven alone will see
those of the opposite world; and he concludes his great work by this most
impressive passage: “In the last place, we must enquire whether the sight
of the punishment of the condemned will impair the glory of the blest, or
whether it will augment their beatitude. Concerning this, Gregory says the
sight of the punishment of the lost will not obscure the beatitude of the
just; for when it is accompanied by no compassion it can be no diminution
of happiness. And although their own joys might suffice to the just, yet
to their greater glory they will see the pains of the evil, which by grace
they have escaped.... The elect will go forth, not indeed locally, but by
intelligence, and by a clear vision, to behold the torture of the impious,
and as they see them they will not grieve. Their minds will be sated with
joy as they gaze on the unspeakable anguish of the impious, returning
thanks for their own freedom. Thus Esaias, describing the torments of the
impious, and the joy of the righteous in witnessing it, says: ‘The elect
in truth will go out and will see the corpses of men who have prevaricated
against Him; their worm will not die, and they will be to the satiety of
vision to all flesh, that is to the elect. The just man will rejoice when
he shall see the vengeance.’ ”(462)

This passion for visions of heaven and hell was, in fact, a natural
continuation of the passion for dogmatic definition, which had raged
during the fifth century. It was natural that men, whose curiosity had
left no conceivable question of theology undefined, should have
endeavoured to describe with corresponding precision the condition of the
dead. Much, however, was due to the hallucinations of solitary and ascetic
life, and much more to deliberate imposture. It is impossible for men to
continue long in a condition of extreme panic, and superstition speedily
discovered remedies to allay the fears it had created. If a malicious
dæmon was hovering around the believer, and if the jaws of hell were
opening to receive him, he was defended, on the other hand, by countless
angels; a lavish gift to a church or monastery could always enlist a saint
in his behalf, and priestly power could protect him against the dangers
which priestly sagacity had revealed. When the angels were weighing the
good and evil deeds of a dead man, the latter were found by far to
preponderate; but a priest of St. Lawrence came in, and turned the scale
by throwing down among the former a heavy gold chalice, which the deceased
had given to the altar.(463) Dagobert was snatched from the very arms of
dæmons by St. Denis, St. Maurice, and St. Martin.(464) Charlemagne was
saved, because the monasteries he had built outweighed his evil
deeds.(465) Others, who died in mortal sin, were raised from the dead at
the desire of their patron saint, to expiate their guilt. To amass relics,
to acquire the patronage of saints, to endow monasteries, to build
churches, became the chief part of religion, and the more the terrors of
the unseen world were unfolded, the more men sought tranquillity by the
consolations of superstition.(466)

The extent to which the custom of materialising religion was carried, can
only be adequately realised by those who have examined the mediæval
literature itself. That which strikes a student in perusing this
literature, is not so much the existence of these superstitions, as their
extraordinary multiplication, the many thousands of grotesque miracles
wrought by saints, monasteries, or relics, that were deliberately asserted
and universally believed. Christianity had assumed a form that was quite
as polytheistic and quite as idolatrous as the ancient Paganism. The low
level of intellectual cultivation, the religious feelings of
half-converted barbarians, the interests of the clergy, the great social
importance of the monasteries, and perhaps also the custom of compounding
for nearly all crimes by pecuniary fines, which was so general in the
penal system of the barbarian tribes, combined in their different ways,
with the panic created by the fear of hell, in driving men in the same
direction, and the wealth and power of the clergy rose to a point that
enabled them to overshadow all other classes. They had found, as has been
well said, in another world, the standing-point of Archimedes from which
they could move this. No other system had ever appeared so admirably
fitted to endure for ever. The Church had crushed or silenced every
opponent in Christendom. It had an absolute control over education in all
its branches and in all its stages. It had absorbed all the speculative
knowledge and art of Europe. It possessed or commanded wealth, rank, and
military power. It had so directed its teaching, that everything which
terrified or distressed mankind drove men speedily into its arms, and it
had covered Europe with a vast network of institutions, admirably adapted
to extend and perpetuate its power. In addition to all this, it had
guarded with consummate skill all the approaches to its citadel. Every
doubt was branded as a sin, and a long course of doubt must necessarily
have preceded the rejection of its tenets. All the avenues of enquiry were
painted with images of appalling suffering, and of malicious dæmons. No
sooner did the worshipper begin to question any article of faith, or to
lose his confidence in the virtue of the ceremonies of his Church, than he
was threatened with a doom that no human heroism could brave, that no
imagination could contemplate undismayed.

Of all the suffering that was undergone by those brave men who in ages of
ignorance and superstition dared to break loose from the trammels of their
Church, and who laid the foundation of the liberty we now enjoy, it is
this which was probably the most poignant, and which is the least
realised. Our imaginations can reproduce with much vividness gigantic
massacres like those of the Albigenses or of St. Bartholomew. We can
conceive, too, the tortures of the rack and of the boots, the dungeon, the
scaffold, and the slow fire. We can estimate, though less perfectly, the
anguish which the bold enquirer must have undergone from the desertion of
those he most dearly loved, from the hatred of mankind, from the malignant
calumnies that were heaped upon his name. But in the chamber of his own
soul, in the hours of his solitary meditation, he must have found elements
of a suffering that was still more acute. Taught from his earliest
childhood to regard the abandonment of his hereditary opinions as the most
deadly of crimes, and to ascribe it to the instigation of deceiving
dæmons, persuaded that if he died in a condition of doubt he must pass
into a state of everlasting torture, his imagination saturated with images
of the most hideous and appalling anguish, he found himself alone in the
world, struggling with his difficulties and his doubts. There existed no
rival sect in which he could take refuge, and where, in the professed
agreement of many minds, he could forget the anathemas of the Church.
Physical science, that has disproved the theological theories which
attribute death to human sin, and suffering to Divine vengeance, and all
natural phenomena to isolated acts of Divine intervention—historical
criticism, which has dispelled so many imposing fabrics of belief, traced
so many elaborate superstitions to the normal action of the undisciplined
imagination, and explained and defined the successive phases of religious
progress, were both unknown. Every comet that blazed in the sky, every
pestilence that swept over the land, appeared a confirmation of the dark
threats of the theologian. A spirit of blind and abject credulity,
inculcated as the first of duties, and exhibited on all subjects and in
all forms, pervaded the atmosphere he breathed. Who can estimate aright
the obstacles against which a sincere enquirer in such an age must have
struggled? Who can conceive the secret anguish he must have endured in the
long months or years during which rival arguments gained an alternate sway
over his judgment, while all doubt was still regarded as damnable? And
even when his mind was convinced, his imagination would still often revert
to his old belief. Our thoughts in after years flow spontaneously, and
even unconsciously, in the channels that are formed in youth. In moments
when the controlling judgment has relaxed its grasp, old intellectual
habits reassume their sway, and images painted on the imagination will
live, when the intellectual propositions on which they rested have been
wholly abandoned. In hours of weakness, of sickness, and of drowsiness, in
the feverish and anxious moments that are known to all, when the mind
floats passively upon the stream, the phantoms which reason had exorcised
must have often reappeared, and the bitterness of an ancient tyranny must
have entered into his soul.

It is one of the greatest of the many services that were rendered to
mankind by the Troubadours, that they cast such a flood of ridicule upon
the visions of hell, by which the monks had been accustomed to terrify
mankind, that they completely discredited and almost suppressed them.(467)
Whether, however, the Catholic mind, if unassisted by the literature of
Paganism and by the independent thinkers who grew up under the shelter of
Mohammedanism, could have ever unwound the chains that had bound it, may
well be questioned. The growth of towns, which multiplied secular
interests and feelings, the revival of learning, the depression of the
ecclesiastical classes that followed the crusades, and, at last, the
dislocation of Christendom by the Reformation, gradually impaired the
ecclesiastical doctrine, which ceased to be realised before it ceased to
be believed. There was, however, another doctrine which exercised a still
greater influence in augmenting the riches of the clergy, and in making
donations to the Church the chief part of religion. I allude, of course,
to the doctrine of purgatory.

A distinguished modern apologist for the middle ages has made this
doctrine the object of his special and very characteristic eulogy,
because, as he says, by providing a finite punishment graduated to every
variety of guilt, and adapted for those who, without being sufficiently
virtuous to pass at once into heaven, did not appear sufficiently vicious
to pass into hell, it formed an indispensable corrective to the extreme
terrorism of the doctrine of eternal punishment.(468) This is one of those
theories which, though exceedingly popular with a class of writers who are
not without influence in our day, must appear, I think, almost grotesque
to those who have examined the actual operation of the doctrine during the
middle ages. According to the practical teaching of the Church, the
expiatory powers at the disposal of its clergy were so great, that those
who died believing its doctrines, and fortified in their last hours by its
rites, had no cause whatever to dread the terrors of hell. On the other
hand, those who died external to the Church had no prospect of entering
into purgatory. This latter was designed altogether for true believers; it
was chiefly preached at a time when no one was in the least disposed to
question the powers of the Church to absolve any crime, however heinous,
or to free the worst men from hell, and it was assuredly never regarded in
the light of a consolation. Indeed, the popular pictures of purgatory were
so terrific that it may be doubted whether the imagination could ever
fully realise, though the reason could easily recognise, the difference
between this state and that of the lost. The fire of purgatory, according
to the most eminent theologians, was like the fire of hell—a literal fire,
prolonged, it was sometimes said, for ages. The declamations of the pulpit
described the sufferings of the saved souls in purgatory as incalculably
greater than any that were endured by the most wretched mortals upon
earth.(469) The rude artists of mediævalism exhausted their efforts in
depicting the writhings of the dead in the flames that encircled them.
Innumerable visions detailed with a ghastly minuteness the various kinds
of torture they underwent,(470) and the monk, who described what he
professed to have seen, usually ended by the characteristic moral, that
could men only realise those sufferings, they would shrink from no
sacrifice to rescue their friends from such a state. A special place, it
was said, was reserved in purgatory for those who had been slow in paying
their tithes.(471) St. Gregory tells a curious story of a man who was, in
other respects, of admirable virtue; but who, in a contested election for
the popedom, supported the wrong candidate, and without, as it would
appear, in any degree refusing to obey the successful candidate when
elected, continued secretly of opinion that the choice was an unwise one.
He was accordingly placed for some time after death in boiling water.(472)
Whatever may be thought of its other aspects, it is impossible to avoid
recognising in this teaching a masterly skill in the adaptation of means
to ends, which almost rises to artistic beauty. A system which deputed its
minister to go to the unhappy widow in the first dark hour of her anguish
and her desolation, to tell her that he who was dearer to her than all the
world besides was now burning in a fire, and that he could only be
relieved by a gift of money to the priests, was assuredly of its own kind
not without an extraordinary merit.

If we attempt to realise the moral condition of the society of Western
Europe in the period that elapsed between the downfall of the Roman Empire
and Charlemagne, during which the religious transformations I have noticed
chiefly arose, we shall be met by some formidable difficulties. In the
first place, our materials are very scanty. From the year A.D. 642, when
the meagre chronicle of Fredigarius closes, to the biography of
Charlemagne by Eginhard, a century later, there is an almost complete
blank in trustworthy history, and we are reduced to a few scanty and very
doubtful notices in the chronicles of monasteries, the lives of saints,
and the decrees of Councils. All secular literature had almost
disappeared, and the thought of posterity seems to have vanished from the
world.(473) Of the first half of the seventh century, however, and of the
two centuries that preceded it, we have much information from Gregory of
Tours, and Fredigarius, whose tedious and repulsive pages illustrate with
considerable clearness the conflict of races and the dislocation of
governments that for centuries existed. In Italy, the traditions and
habits of the old Empire had in some degree reasserted their sway; but in
Gaul the Church subsisted in the midst of barbarians, whose native vigour
had never been emasculated by civilisation and refined by knowledge. The
picture which Gregory of Tours gives us is that of a society which was
almost absolutely anarchical. The mind is fatigued by the monotonous
account of acts of violence and of fraud springing from no fixed policy,
tending to no end, leaving no lasting impress upon the world.(474) The two
queens Frédégonde and Brunehaut rise conspicuous above other figures for
their fierce and undaunted ambition, for the fascination they exercised
over the minds of multitudes, and for the number and atrocity of their
crimes. All classes seem to have been almost equally tainted with vice. We
read of a bishop named Cautinus, who had to be carried, when intoxicated,
by four men from the table;(475) who, upon the refusal of one of his
priests to surrender some private property, deliberately ordered that
priest to be buried alive, and who, when the victim, escaping by a happy
chance from the sepulchre in which he had been immured, revealed the
crime, received no greater punishment than a censure.(476) The worst
sovereigns found flatterers or agents in ecclesiastics. Frédégonde deputed
two clerks to murder Childebert,(477) and another clerk to murder
Brunehaut;(478) she caused a bishop of Rouen to be assassinated at the
altar—a bishop and an archdeacon being her accomplices;(479) and she found
in another bishop, named Ægidius, one of her most devoted instruments and
friends.(480) The pope, St. Gregory the Great, was an ardent flatterer of
Brunehaut.(481) Gundebald, having murdered his three brothers, was
consoled by St. Avitus, the bishop of Vienne, who, without intimating the
slightest disapprobation of the act, assured him that by removing his
rivals he had been a providential agent in preserving the happiness of his
people.(482) The bishoprics were filled by men of notorious debauchery, or
by grasping misers.(483) The priests sometimes celebrated the sacred
mysteries “gorged with food and dull with wine.”(484) They had already
begun to carry arms, and Gregory tells of two bishops of the sixth century
who had killed many enemies with their own hands.(485) There was scarcely
a reign that was not marked by some atrocious domestic tragedy. There were
few sovereigns who were not guilty of at least one deliberate murder.
Never, perhaps, was the infliction of mutilation, and prolonged and
agonising forms of death, more common. We read, among other atrocities, of
a bishop being driven to a distant place of exile upon a bed of
thorns;(486) of a king burning together his rebellious son, his
daughter-in-law, and their daughters;(487) of a queen condemning a
daughter she had had by a former marriage to be drowned, lest her beauty
should excite the passions of her husband;(488) of another queen
endeavouring to strangle her daughter with her own hands;(489) of an
abbot, compelling a poor man to abandon his house, that he might commit
adultery with his wife, and being murdered, together with his partner, in
the act;(490) of a prince who made it an habitual amusement to torture his
slaves with fire, and who buried two of them alive, because they had
married without his permission;(491) of a bishop’s wife, who, besides
other crimes, was accustomed to mutilate men and to torture women, by
applying red-hot irons to the most sensitive parts of their bodies;(492)
of great numbers who were deprived of their ears and noses, tortured
through several days, and at last burnt alive or broken slowly on the
wheel. Brunehaut, at the close of her long and in some respects great
though guilty career, fell into the hands of Clotaire, and the old queen,
having been subjected for three days to various kinds of torture, was led
out on a camel for the derision of the army, and at last bound to the tail
of a furious horse, and dashed to pieces in its course.(493)

And yet this age was, in a certain sense, eminently religious. All
literature had become sacred. Heresy of every kind was rapidly expiring.
The priests and monks had acquired enormous power, and their wealth was
inordinately increasing.(494) Several sovereigns voluntarily abandoned
their thrones for the monastic life.(495) The seventh century, which,
together with the eighth, forms the darkest period of the dark ages, is
famous in the hagiology as having produced more saints than any other
century, except that of the martyrs.(496)

The manner in which events were regarded by historians was also
exceedingly characteristic. Our principal authority, Gregory of Tours, was
a bishop of great eminence, and a man of the most genuine piety, and of
very strong affections.(497) He describes his work as a record “of the
virtues of saints, and the disasters of nations;”(498) and the student who
turns to his pages from those of the Pagan historians, is not more struck
by the extreme prominence he gives to ecclesiastical events, than by the
uniform manner in which he views all secular events in their religious
aspect, as governed and directed by a special Providence. Yet, in
questions where the difference between orthodoxy and heterodoxy is
concerned, his ethics sometimes exhibit the most singular distortion. Of
this, probably the most impressive example is the manner in which he has
described the career of Clovis, the great representative of
orthodoxy.(499) Having recounted the circumstances of his conversion,
Gregory proceeds to tell us, with undisguised admiration, how that
chieftain, as the first-fruits of his doctrine, professed to be grieved at
seeing that part of Gaul was held by an Arian sovereign; how he
accordingly resolved to invade and appropriate that territory; how, with
admirable piety, he commanded his soldiers to abstain from all
devastations when traversing the territory of St. Martin, and how several
miracles attested the Divine approbation of the expedition. The war—which
is the first of the long series of professedly religious wars that have
been undertaken by Christians—was fully successful, and Clovis proceeded
to direct his ambition to new fields. In his expedition against the
Arians, he had found a faithful ally in his relative Sighebert, the old
and infirm king of the Ripuarian Franks. Clovis now proceeded artfully to
suggest to the son of Sighebert the advantages that son might obtain by
his father’s death. The hint was taken. Sighebert was murdered, and Clovis
sent ambassadors to the parricide, professing a warm friendship, but with
secret orders on the first opportunity to kill him. This being done, and
the kingdom being left entirely without a head, Clovis proceeded to
Cologne, the capital of Sighebert; he assembled the people, professed with
much solemnity his horror of the tragedies that had taken place, and his
complete innocence of all connection with them;(500) but suggested that,
as they were now without a ruler, they should place themselves under his
protection. The proposition was received with acclamation. The warriors
elected him as their king, and thus, says the episcopal historian, “Clovis
received the treasures and dominions of Sighebert, and added them to his
own. Every day God caused his enemies to fall beneath his hand, and
enlarged his kingdom, because he walked with a right heart before the
Lord, and did the things that were pleasing in His sight.”(501) His
ambition was, however, still unsated. He proceeded, in a succession of
expeditions, to unite the whole of Gaul under his sceptre, invading,
defeating, capturing, and slaying the lawful sovereigns, who were for the
most part his own relations. Having secured himself against dangers from
without, by killing all his relations, with the exception of his wife and
children, he is reported to have lamented before his courtiers his
isolation, declaring that he had no relations remaining in the world to
assist him in his adversity; but this speech, Gregory assures us, was a
stratagem; for the king desired to discover whether any possible pretender
to the throne had escaped his knowledge and his sword. Soon after, he
died, full of years and honours, and was buried in a cathedral which he
had built.

Having recounted all these things with unmoved composure, Gregory of Tours
requests his reader to permit him to pause, to draw the moral of the
history. It is the admirable manner in which Providence guides all things
for the benefit of those whose opinions concerning the Trinity are
strictly orthodox. Having briefly referred to Abraham, Jacob, Moses,
Aaron, and David, all of whom are said to have intimated the correct
doctrine on this subject, and all of whom were exceedingly prosperous, he
passes to more modern times. “Arius, the impious founder of the impious
sect, his entrails having fallen out, passed into the flames of hell; but
Hilary, the blessed defender of the undivided Trinity, though exiled on
that account, found his country in Paradise. The King Clovis, who
confessed the Trinity, and by its assistance crushed the heretics,
extended his dominions through all Gaul. Alaric, who denied the Trinity,
was deprived of his kingdom and his subjects, and, what was far worse, was
punished in the future world.”(502)

It would be easy to cite other, though perhaps not quite such striking,
instances of the degree in which the moral judgments of this unhappy age
were distorted by superstition.(503) Questions of orthodoxy, or questions
of fasting, appeared to the popular mind immeasurably more important than
what we should now call the fundamental principles of right and wrong. A
law of Charlemagne, and also a law of the Saxons, condemned to death any
one who ate meat in Lent,(504) unless the priest was satisfied that it was
a matter of absolute necessity. The moral enthusiasm of the age chiefly
drove men to abandon their civic or domestic duties, to immure themselves
in monasteries, and to waste their strength by prolonged and extravagant
maceration.(505) Yet, in the midst of all this superstition, there can be
no question that in some respects the religious agencies were operating
for good. The monastic bodies that everywhere arose, formed secure asylums
for the multitudes who had been persecuted by their enemies, constituted
an invaluable counterpoise to the rude military forces of the time,
familiarised the imagination of men with religious types that could hardly
fail in some degree to soften the character, and led the way in most forms
of peaceful labour. When men, filled with admiration at the reports of the
sanctity and the miracles of some illustrious saint, made pilgrimages to
behold him, and found him attired in the rude garb of a peasant, with
thick shoes, and with a scythe on his shoulder, superintending the labours
of the farmers,(506) or sitting in a small attic mending lamps,(507)
whatever other benefit they might derive from the interview, they could
scarcely fail to return with an increased sense of the dignity of labour.
It was probably at this time as much for the benefit of the world as of
the Church, that the ecclesiastical sanctuaries and estates should remain
inviolate, and the numerous legends of Divine punishment having overtaken
those who transgressed them,(508) attest the zeal with which the clergy
sought to establish that inviolability. The great sanctity that was
attached to holidays was also an important boon to the servile classes.
The celebration of the first day of the week, in commemoration of the
resurrection, and as a period of religious exercises, dates from the
earliest age of the Church. The Christian festival was carefully
distinguished from the Jewish Sabbath, with which it never appears to have
been confounded till the close of the sixteenth century; but some Jewish
converts, who considered the Jewish law to be still in force, observed
both days. In general, however, the Christian festival alone was observed,
and the Jewish Sabbatical obligation, as St. Paul most explicitly affirms,
no longer rested upon the Christians. The grounds of the observance of
Sunday were the manifest propriety and expediency of devoting a certain
portion of time to devout exercises, the tradition which traced the
sanctification of Sunday to apostolic times, and the right of the Church
to appoint certain seasons to be kept holy by its members. When
Christianity acquired an ascendancy in the Empire, its policy on this
subject was manifested in one of the laws of Constantine, which, without
making any direct reference to religious motives, ordered that, “on the
day of the sun,” no servile work should be performed except agriculture,
which, being dependent on the weather, could not, it was thought, be
reasonably postponed. Theodosius took a step further, and suppressed the
public spectacles on that day. During the centuries that immediately
followed the dissolution of the Roman Empire, the clergy devoted
themselves with great and praiseworthy zeal to the suppression of labour
both on Sundays and on the other leading Church holidays. More than one
law was made, forbidding all Sunday labour, and this prohibition was
reiterated by Charlemagne in his Capitularies.(509) Several Councils made
decrees on the subject,(510) and several legends were circulated, of men
who had been afflicted miraculously with disease or with death, for having
been guilty of this sin.(511) Although the moral side of religion was
greatly degraded or forgotten, there was, as I have already intimated, one
important exception. Charity was so interwoven with the superstitious
parts of ecclesiastical teaching, that it continued to grow and nourish in
the darkest period. Of the acts of Queen Bathilda, it is said we know
nothing except her donations to the monasteries, and the charity with
which she purchased slaves and captives, and released them or converted
them into monks.(512) While many of the bishops were men of gross and
scandalous vice, there were always some who laboured assiduously in the
old episcopal vocation of protecting the oppressed, interceding for the
captives, and opening their sanctuaries to the fugitives. St. Germanus, a
bishop of Paris, near the close of the sixth century, was especially
famous for his zeal in ransoming captives.(513) The fame he acquired was
so great, that prisoners are said to have called upon him to assist them,
in the interval between his death and his burial; and the body of the
saint becoming miraculously heavy, it was found impossible to carry it to
the grave till the captives had been released.(514) In the midst of the
complete eclipse of all secular learning, in the midst of a reign of
ignorance, imposture, and credulity which cannot be paralleled in history,
there grew up a vast legendary literature, clustering around the form of
the ascetic; and the lives of the saints, among very much that is
grotesque, childish, and even immoral, contain some fragments of the
purest and most touching religious poetry.(515)

But the chief title of the period we are considering, to the indulgence of
posterity, lies in its missionary labours. The stream of missionaries
which had at first flowed from Palestine and Italy began to flow from the
West. The Irish monasteries furnished the earliest, and probably the most
numerous, labourers in the field. A great portion of the north of England
was converted by the Irish monks of Lindisfarne. The fame of St.
Columbanus in Gaul, in Germany, and in Italy, for a time even balanced
that of St. Benedict himself, and the school which he founded at Luxeuil
became the great seminary for mediæval missionaries, while the monastery
he planted at Bobbio continued to the present century. The Irish
missionary, St. Gall, gave his name to a portion of Switzerland he had
converted, and a crowd of other Irish missionaries penetrated to the
remotest forests of Germany. The movement which began with St. Columba in
the middle of the sixth century, was communicated to England and Gaul
about a century later. Early in the eighth century it found a great leader
in the Anglo-Saxon St. Boniface, who spread Christianity far and wide
through Germany, and at once excited and disciplined an ardent enthusiasm,
which appears to have attracted all that was morally best in the Church.
During about three centuries, and while Europe had sunk into the most
extreme moral, intellectual, and political degradation, a constant stream
of missionaries poured forth from the monasteries, who spread the
knowledge of the Cross and the seeds of a future civilisation through
every land, from Lombardy to Sweden.(516)

On the whole, however, it would be difficult to exaggerate the
superstition and the vice of the period between the dissolution of the
Empire and the reign of Charlemagne. But in the midst of the chaos the
elements of a new society may be detected, and we may already observe in
embryo the movement which ultimately issued in the crusades, the feudal
system, and chivalry. It is exclusively with the moral aspect of this
movement that the present work is concerned, and I shall endeavour, in the
remainder of this chapter, to describe and explain its incipient stages.
It consisted of two parts—a fusion of Christianity with the military
spirit, and an increasing reverence for secular rank.

It had been an ancient maxim of the Greeks, that no more acceptable gifts
can be offered in the temples of the gods, than the trophies won from an
enemy in battle.(517) Of this military religion Christianity had been at
first the extreme negation. I have already had occasion to observe that it
had been one of its earliest rules that no arms should be introduced
within the church, and that soldiers returning even from the most
righteous war should not be admitted to communion until after a period of
penance and purification. A powerful party, which counted among its
leaders Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, Lactantius, and Basil,
maintained that all warfare was unlawful for those who had been converted;
and this opinion had its martyr in the celebrated Maximilianus, who
suffered death under Diocletian solely because, having been enrolled as a
soldier, he declared that he was a Christian, and that therefore he could
not fight. The extent to which this doctrine was disseminated has been
suggested with much plausibility as one of the causes of the Diocletian
persecution.(518) It was the subject of one of the reproaches of Celsus;
and Origen, in reply, frankly accepted the accusation that Christianity
was incompatible with military service, though he maintained that the
prayers of the Christians were more efficacious than the swords of the
legions.(519) At the same time, there can be no question that many
Christians, from a very early date, did enlist in the army, and that they
were not cut off from the Church. The legend of the thundering legion,
under Marcus Aurelius, whatever we may think of the pretended miracle,
attested the fact, and it is expressly asserted by Tertullian.(520) The
first fury of the Diocletian persecution fell upon Christian soldiers, and
by the time of Constantine the army appears to have become, in a great
degree, Christian. A Council of Arles, under Constantine, condemned
soldiers who, through religious motives, deserted their colours; and St.
Augustine threw his great influence into the same scale. But even where
the calling was not regarded as sinful, it was strongly discouraged. The
ideal or type of supreme excellence conceived by the imagination of the
Pagan world and to which all their purest moral enthusiasm naturally
aspired, was the patriot and soldier. The ideal of the Catholic legends
was the ascetic, whose first duty was to abandon all secular feelings and
ties. In most family circles the conflict between the two principles
appeared, and in the moral atmosphere of the fourth and fifth centuries it
was almost certain that every young man who was animated by any pure or
genuine enthusiasm would turn from the army to the monks. St. Martin, St.
Ferreol, St. Tarrachus, and St. Victricius, were among those who through
religious motives abandoned the army.(521) When Ulphilas translated the
Bible into Gothic, he is said to have excepted the four books of Kings,
through fear that they might encourage the martial disposition of the

The first influence that contributed to bring the military profession into
friendly connection with religion was the received doctrine concerning the
Providential government of affairs. It was generally taught that all
national catastrophes were penal inflictions, resulting, for the most
part, from the vices or the religious errors of the leading men, and that
temporal prosperity was the reward of orthodoxy and virtue. A great
battle, on the issue of which the fortunes of a people or of a monarch
depended, was therefore supposed to be the special occasion of
Providential interposition, and the hope of obtaining military success
became one of the most frequent motives of conversion. The conversion of
Constantine was professedly, and the conversion of Clovis was perhaps
really, due to the persuasion that the Divine interposition had in a
critical moment given them the victory; and I have already noticed how
large a part must be assigned to this order of ideas in facilitating the
progress of Christianity among the barbarians. When a cross was said to
have appeared miraculously to Constantine, with an inscription announcing
the victory of the Milvian bridge; when the same holy sign, adorned with
the sacred monogram, was carried in the forefront of the Roman armies;
when the nails of the cross, which Helena had brought from Jerusalem, were
converted by the emperor into a helmet, and into bits for his war-horse,
it was evident that a great change was passing over the once pacific
spirit of the Church.(523)

Many circumstances conspired to accelerate it. Northern tribes, who had
been taught that the gates of the Walhalla were ever open to the warrior
who presented himself stained with the blood of his vanquished enemies,
were converted to Christianity; but they carried their old feelings into
their new creed. The conflict of many races, and the paralysis of all
government that followed the fall of the Empire, made force everywhere
dominant, and petty wars incessant. The military obligations attached to
the “benefices” which the sovereigns gave to their leading chiefs,
connected the idea of military service with that of rank still more
closely than it had been connected before, and rendered it doubly
honourable in the eyes of men. Many bishops and abbots, partly from the
turbulence of their times and characters, and partly, at a later period,
from their position as great feudal lords, were accustomed to lead their
followers in battle; and this custom, though prohibited by Charlemagne,
may be traced to so late a period as the battle of Agincourt.(524)

The stigma which Christianity had attached to war was thus gradually
effaced. At the same time, the Church remained, on the whole, a pacific
influence. War was rather condoned than consecrated, and, whatever might
be the case with a few isolated prelates, the Church did nothing to
increase or encourage it. The transition from the almost Quaker tenets of
the primitive Church to the essentially military Christianity of the
Crusades was chiefly due to another cause—to the terrors and to the
example of Mohammedanism.

This great religion, which so long rivalled the influence of Christianity,
had indeed spread the deepest and most justifiable panic through
Christendom. Without any of those aids to the imagination which pictures
and images can furnish, without any elaborate sacerdotal organisation,
preaching the purest Monotheism among ignorant and barbarous men, and
inculcating, on the whole, an extremely high and noble system of morals,
it spread with a rapidity and it acquired a hold over the minds of its
votaries, which it is probable that no other religion has altogether
equalled. It borrowed from Christianity that doctrine of salvation by
belief, which is perhaps the most powerful impulse that can be applied to
the characters of masses of men, and it elaborated so minutely the charms
of its sensual heaven, and the terrors of its material hell, as to cause
the alternative to appeal with unrivalled force to the gross imaginations
of the people. It possessed a book which, however inferior to that of the
opposing religion, has nevertheless been the consolation and the support
of millions in many ages. It taught a fatalism which in its first age
nerved its adherents with a matchless military courage, and which, though
in later days it has often paralysed their active energies, has also
rarely failed to support them under the pressure of inevitable calamity.
But, above all, it discovered the great, the fatal secret of uniting
indissolubly the passion of the soldier with the passion of the devotee.
Making the conquest of the infidel the first of duties, and proposing
heaven as the certain reward of the valiant soldier, it created a blended
enthusiasm that soon overpowered the divided counsels and the voluptuous
governments of the East, and, within a century of the death of Mohammed,
his followers had almost extirpated Christianity from its original home,
founded great monarchies in Asia and Africa, planted a noble, though
transient and exotic, civilisation in Spain, menaced the capital of the
Eastern empire, and, but for the issue of a single battle, they would
probably have extended their sceptre over the energetic and progressive
races of Central Europe. The wave was broken by Charles Martel, at the
battle of Poitiers, and it is now useless to speculate what might have
been the consequences had Mohammedanism unfurled its triumphant banner
among those Teutonic tribes who have so often changed their creed, and on
whom the course of civilisation has so largely depended. But one great
change was in fact achieved. The spirit of Mohammedanism slowly passed
into Christianity, and transformed it into its image. The spectacle of an
essentially military religion fascinated men who were at once very warlike
and very superstitious. The panic that had palsied Europe was after a long
interval succeeded by a fierce reaction of resentment. Pride and religion
conspired to urge the Christian warriors against those who had so often
defeated the armies and wasted the territory of Christendom, who had shorn
the empire of the Cross of many of its fairest provinces, and profaned
that holy city which was venerated not only for its past associations, but
also for the spiritual blessings it could still bestow upon the pilgrim.
The papal indulgences proved not less efficacious in stimulating the
military spirit than the promises of Mohammed, and for about two centuries
every pulpit in Christendom proclaimed the duty of war with the
unbeliever, and represented the battle-field as the sure path to heaven.
The religious orders which arose united the character of the priest with
that of the warrior, and when, at the hour of sunset, the soldier knelt
down to pray before his cross, that cross was the handle of his sword.

It would be impossible to conceive a more complete transformation than
Christianity had thus undergone, and it is melancholy to contrast with its
aspect during the crusades the impression it had once most justly made
upon the world, as the spirit of gentleness and of peace encountering the
spirit of violence and war. Among the many curious habits of the Pagan
Irish, one of the most significant was that of perpendicular burial. With
a feeling something like that which induced Vespasian to declare that a
Roman emperor should die standing, the Pagan warriors shrank from the
notion of being prostrate even in death, and they appear to have regarded
this martial burial as a special symbol of Paganism. An old Irish
manuscript tells how, when Christianity had been introduced into Ireland,
a king of Ulster on his deathbed charged his son never to become a
Christian, but to be buried standing upright like a man in battle, with
his face for ever turned to the south, defying the men of Leinster.(525)
As late as the sixteenth century, it is said that in some parts of Ireland
children were baptised by immersion; but the right arms of the males were
carefully held above the water, in order that, not having been dipped in
the sacred stream, they might strike the more deadly blow.(526)

It had been boldly predicted by some of the early Christians that the
conversion of the world would lead to the establishment of perpetual
peace. In looking back, with our present experience, we are driven to the
melancholy conclusion that, instead of diminishing the number of wars,
ecclesiastical influence has actually and very seriously increased it. We
may look in vain for any period since Constantine, in which the clergy, as
a body, exerted themselves to repress the military spirit, or to prevent
or abridge a particular war, with an energy at all comparable to that
which they displayed in stimulating the fanaticism of the crusaders, in
producing the atrocious massacre of the Albigenses, in embittering the
religious contests that followed the Reformation. Private wars were, no
doubt, in some degree repressed by their influence; for the institution of
the “Truce of God” was for a time of much value, and when, towards the
close of the middle ages, the custom of duels arose, it was strenuously
condemned by the clergy; but we can hardly place any great value on their
exertions in this field, when we remember that duels were almost or
altogether unknown to the Pagan world; that, having arisen in a period of
great superstition, the anathemas of the Church were almost impotent to
discourage them; and that in our own century they are rapidly disappearing
before the simple censure of an industrial society. It is possible—though
it would, I imagine, be difficult to prove it—that the mediatorial office,
so often exercised by bishops, may sometimes have prevented wars; and it
is certain that during the period of the religious wars, so much military
spirit existed in Europe that it must necessarily have found a vent, and
under no circumstances could the period have been one of perfect peace.
But when all these qualifications have been fully admitted, the broad fact
will remain, that, with the exception of Mohammedanism, no other religion
has done so much to produce war as was done by the religious teachers of
Christendom during several centuries. The military fanaticism evoked by
the indulgences of the popes, by the exhortations of the pulpit, by the
religious importance attached to the relics at Jerusalem, and by the
prevailing hatred of misbelievers, has scarcely ever been equalled in its
intensity, and it has caused the effusion of oceans of blood, and has been
productive of incalculable misery to the world. Religious fanaticism was a
main cause of the earlier wars, and an important ingredient in the later
ones. The peace principles, that were so common before Constantine, have
found scarcely any echo except from Erasmus, the Anabaptists, and the
Quakers;(527) and although some very important pacific agencies have
arisen out of the industrial progress of modern times, these have been,
for the most part, wholly unconnected with, and have in some cases been
directly opposed to, theological interests.

But although theological influences cannot reasonably be said to have
diminished the number of wars, they have had a very real and beneficial
effect in diminishing their atrocity. On few subjects have the moral
opinions of different ages exhibited so marked a variation as in their
judgments of what punishment may justly be imposed on a conquered enemy,
and these variations have often been cited as an argument against those
who believe in the existence of natural moral perceptions. To those,
however, who accept that doctrine, with the limitations that have been
stated in the first chapter, they can cause no perplexity. In the first
dawning of the human intelligence (as I have said) the notion of duty, as
distinguished from that of interest, appears, and the mind, in reviewing
the various emotions by which it is influenced, recognises the unselfish
and benevolent motives as essentially and generically superior to the
selfish and the cruel. But it is the general condition of society alone
that determines the standard of benevolence—the classes towards which
every good man will exercise it. At first, the range of duty is the
family, the tribe, the state, the confederation. Within these limits every
man feels himself under moral obligations to those about him; but he
regards the outer world as we regard wild animals, as beings upon whom he
may justifiably prey. Hence, we may explain the curious fact that the
terms brigand or corsair conveyed in the early stages of society no notion
of moral guilt.(528) Such men were looked upon simply as we look upon
huntsmen, and if they displayed courage and skill in their pursuit, they
were deemed fit subjects for admiration. Even in the writings of the most
enlightened philosophers of Greece, war with barbarians is represented as
a form of chase, and the simple desire of obtaining the barbarians as
slaves was considered a sufficient reason for invading them. The right of
the conqueror to kill his captives was generally recognised, nor was it at
first restricted by any considerations of age or sex. Several instances
are recorded of Greek and other cities being deliberately destroyed by
Greeks or by Romans, and the entire populations ruthlessly massacred.(529)
The whole career of the early republic of Rome, though much idealised and
transfigured by later historians, was probably governed by these
principles.(530) The normal fate of the captive, which, among barbarians,
had been death, was, in civilised antiquity, slavery; but many thousands
were condemned to the gladiatorial shows, and the vanquished general was
commonly slain in the Mamertine prison, while his conqueror ascended in
triumph to the Capitol.

A few traces of a more humane spirit may, it is true, be discovered. Plato
had advocated the liberation of all Greek prisoners upon payment of a
fixed ransom,(531) and the Spartan general Callicratidas had nobly acted
upon this principle;(532) but his example never appears to have been
generally followed. In Rome, the notion of international obligation was
very strongly felt. No war was considered just which had not been
officially declared; and even in the case of wars with barbarians, the
Roman historians often discuss the sufficiency or insufficiency of the
motives, with a conscientious severity a modern historian could hardly
surpass.(533) The later Greek and Latin writings occasionally contain
maxims which exhibit a considerable progress in this sphere. The sole
legitimate object of war, both Cicero and Sallust declared to be an
assured peace. That war, according to Tacitus, ends well which ends with a
pardon. Pliny refused to apply the epithet great to Cæsar, on account of
the torrents of human blood he had shed. Two Roman conquerors(534) are
credited with the saying that it is better to save the life of one citizen
than to destroy a thousand enemies. Marcus Aurelius mournfully assimilated
the career of a conqueror to that of a simple robber. Nations or armies
which voluntarily submitted to Rome were habitually treated with great
leniency, and numerous acts of individual magnanimity are recorded. The
violation of the chastity of conquered women by soldiers in a siege was
denounced as a rare and atrocious crime.(535) The extreme atrocities of
ancient war appear at last to have been practically, though not legally,
restricted to two classes.(536) Cities where Roman ambassadors had been
insulted, or where some special act of ill faith or cruelty had taken
place, were razed to the ground, and their populations massacred or
delivered into slavery. Barbarian prisoners were regarded almost as wild
beasts, and sent in thousands to fill the slave market or to combat in the

The changes Christianity effected in the rights of war were very
important, and they may, I think, be comprised under three heads. In the
first place, it suppressed the gladiatorial shows, and thereby saved
thousands of captives from a bloody death. In the next place, it steadily
discouraged the practice of enslaving prisoners, ransomed immense
multitudes with charitable contributions, and by slow and insensible
gradations proceeded on its path of mercy till it became a recognised
principle of international law, that no Christian prisoners should be
reduced to slavery.(537) In the third place, it had a more indirect but
very powerful influence by the creation of a new warlike ideal. The ideal
knight of the Crusades and of chivalry, uniting all the force and fire of
the ancient warrior, with something of the tenderness and humility of the
Christian saint, sprang from the conjunction of the two streams of
religious and of military feeling; and although this ideal, like all
others, was a creation of the imagination not often perfectly realised in
life, yet it remained the type and model of warlike excellence, to which
many generations aspired; and its softening influence may even now be
largely traced in the character of the modern gentleman.


Together with the gradual fusion of the military spirit with Christianity,
we may dimly descry, in the period before Charlemagne, the first stages of
that consecration of secular rank which at a later period, in the forms of
chivalry, the divine right of kings, and the reverence for aristocracies,
played so large a part both in moral and in political history.

We have already seen that the course of events in the Roman Empire had
been towards the continual aggrandisement of the imperial power. The
representative despotism of Augustus was at last succeeded by the oriental
despotism of Diocletian. The senate sank into a powerless assembly of
imperial nominees, and the spirit of Roman freedom wholly perished with
the extinction of Stoicism.

It would probably be a needless refinement to seek any deeper causes for
this change than may be found in the ordinary principles of human nature.
Despotism is the normal and legitimate government of an early society in
which knowledge has not yet developed the powers of the people; but when
it is introduced into a civilised community, it is of the nature of a
disease, and a disease which, unless it be checked, has a continual
tendency to spread. When free nations abdicate their political functions,
they gradually lose both the capacity and the desire for freedom.
Political talent and ambition, having no sphere for action, steadily
decay, and servile, enervating, and vicious habits proportionately
increase. Nations are organic beings in a constant process of expansion or
decay, and where they do not exhibit a progress of liberty they usually
exhibit a progress of servitude.

It can hardly be asserted that Christianity had much influence upon this
change. By accelerating in some degree that withdrawal of the virtuous
energies of the people from the sphere of government which had long been
in process, it prevented the great improvement of morals, which it
undoubtedly effected, from appearing perceptibly in public affairs. It
taught a doctrine of passive obedience, which its disciples nobly observed
in the worst periods of persecution. On the other hand, the Christians
emphatically repudiated the ascription of Divine honours to the sovereign,
and they asserted with heroic constancy their independent worship, in
defiance of the law. After the time of Constantine, however, their zeal
became far less pure, and sectarian interests wholly governed their
principles. Much misapplied learning has been employed in endeavouring to
extract from the Fathers a consistent doctrine concerning the relations of
subjects to their sovereigns; but every impartial observer may discover
that the principle upon which they acted was exceedingly simple. When a
sovereign was sufficiently orthodox in his opinions, and sufficiently
zealous in patronising the Church and in persecuting the heretics, he was
extolled as an angel. When his policy was opposed to the Church, he was
represented as a dæmon. The estimate which Gregory of Tours has given of
the character of Clovis, though far more frank, is not a more striking
instance of moral perversion than the fulsome and indeed blasphemous
adulation which Eusebius poured upon Constantine—a sovereign whose
character was at all times of the most mingled description, and who,
shortly after his conversion, put to a violent death his son, his nephew,
and his wife. If we were to estimate the attitude of ecclesiastics to
sovereigns by the language of Eusebius, we should suppose that they
ascribed to them a direct Divine inspiration, and exalted the Imperial
dignity to an extent that was before unknown.(538) But when Julian mounted
the throne, the whole aspect of the Church was changed. This great and
virtuous, though misguided sovereign, whose private life was a model of
purity, who carried to the throne the manners, tastes, and friendships of
a philosophic life, and who proclaimed and, with very slight exceptions,
acted with the largest and most generous toleration, was an enemy of the
Church, and all the vocabulary of invective was in consequence habitually
lavished upon him. Ecclesiastics and laymen combined in insulting him, and
when, after a brief but glorious reign of less than two years, he met an
honourable death on the battle-field, neither the disaster that had
befallen the Roman arms, nor the present dangers of the army, nor the
heroic courage which the fallen emperor had displayed, nor the majestic
tranquillity of his end, nor the tears of his faithful friends, could
shame the Christian community into the decency of silence. A peal of
brutal merriment filled the land. In Antioch the Christians assembled in
the theatres and in the churches, to celebrate with rejoicing the death
which their emperor had met in fighting against the enemies of his
country.(539) A crowd of vindictive legends expressed the exultation of
the Church,(540) and St. Gregory Nazianzen devoted his eloquence to
immortalising it. His brother had at one time been a high official in the
Empire, and had fearlessly owned his Christianity under Julian; but that
emperor not only did not remove him from his post, but even honoured him
with his warm friendship.(541) The body of Julian had been laid but a
short time in the grave, when St. Gregory delivered two fierce invectives
against his memory, collected the grotesque calumnies that had been heaped
upon his character, expressed a regret that his remains had not been flung
after death into the common sewer, and regaled the hearers by an emphatic
assertion of the tortures that were awaiting him in hell. Among the Pagans
a charge of the gravest kind was brought against the Christians. It was
said that Julian died by the spear, not of an enemy, but of one of his own
Christian soldiers. When we remember that he was at once an emperor and a
general, that he fell when bravely and confidently leading his army in the
field, and in the critical moment of a battle on which the fortunes of the
Empire largely depended, this charge, which Libanius has made, appears to
involve as large an amount of base treachery as any that can be conceived.
It was probably a perfectly groundless calumny; but the manner in which it
was regarded among the Christians is singularly characteristic.
“Libanius,” says one of the ecclesiastical historians, “clearly states
that the emperor fell by the hand of a Christian; and this, probably, was
the truth. It is not unlikely that some of the soldiers who then served in
the Roman army might have conceived the idea of acting like the ancient
slayers of tyrants who exposed themselves to death in the cause of
liberty, and fought in defence of their country, their families, and their
friends, and whose names are held in universal admiration. Still less is
he deserving of blame who, for the sake of God and of religion, performed
so bold a deed.”(542)

It may be asserted, I think, without exaggeration, that the complete
subordination of all other principles to their theological interests,
which characterised the ecclesiastics under Julian, continued for many
centuries. No language of invective was too extreme to be applied to a
sovereign who opposed their interests. No language of adulation was too
extravagant for a sovereign who sustained them. Of all the emperors who
disgraced the throne of Constantinople, the most odious and ferocious was
probably Phocas. An obscure centurion, he rose by a military revolt to the
supreme power, and the Emperor Maurice, with his family, fell into his
hands. He resolved to put the captive emperor to death; but, first of all,
he ordered his five children to be brought out and to be successively
murdered before the eyes of their father, who bore the awful sight with a
fine mixture of antique heroism and of Christian piety, murmuring, as each
child fell beneath the knife of the assassin, “Thou art just, O Lord, and
righteous are Thy judgments,” and even interposing, at the last moment, to
reveal the heroic fraud of the nurse who desired to save his youngest
child by substituting for it her own. But Maurice—who had been a weak and
avaricious rather than a vicious sovereign—had shown himself jealous of
the influence of the Pope, had forbidden the soldiers, during the extreme
danger of their country, deserting their colours to enrol themselves as
monks, and had even encouraged the pretensions of the Archbishop of
Constantinople to the title of Universal Bishop; and, in the eyes of the
Roman priests, the recollection of these crimes was sufficient to excuse
the most brutal of murders. In two letters, full of passages from
Scripture, and replete with fulsome and blasphemous flattery, the Pope,
St. Gregory the Great, wrote to congratulate Phocas and his wife upon
their triumph; he called heaven and earth to rejoice over them; he placed
their images to be venerated in the Lateran, and he adroitly insinuated
that it was impossible that, with their well-known piety, they could fail
to be very favourable to the See of Peter.(543)

The course of events in relation to the monarchical power was for some
time different in the East and the West. Constantine had himself assumed
more of the pomp and manner of an oriental sovereign than any preceding
emperor, and the court of Constantinople was soon characterised by an
extravagance of magnificence on the part of the monarch, and of adulation
on the part of the subjects, which has probably never been exceeded.(544)
The imperial power in the East overshadowed the ecclesiastical, and the
priests, notwithstanding their fierce outbreak during the iconoclastic
controversy, and a few minor paroxysms of revolt, gradually sank into that
contented subservience which has usually characterised the Eastern Church.
In the West, however, the Roman bishops were in a great degree independent
of the sovereigns, and in some degree opposed to their interests. The
transfer of the imperial power to Constantinople, by leaving the Roman
bishops the chief personages in a city which long association as well as
actual power rendered the foremost in the world, was one of the great
causes of the aggrandisement of the Papacy and the Arianism of many
sovereigns, the jealousy which others exhibited of ecclesiastical
encroachments, and the lukewarmness of a few in persecuting heretics, were
all causes of dissension. On the severance of the Empire, the Western
Church came in contact with rulers of another type. The barbarian kings
were little more than military chiefs, elected for the most part by the
people, surrounded by little or no special sanctity, and maintaining their
precarious and very restricted authority by their courage or their skill.
A few feebly imitated the pomp of the Roman emperors, but their claims had
no great weight with the world. The aureole which the genius of Theodoric
cast around his throne passed away upon his death, and the Arianism of
that great sovereign sufficiently debarred him from the sympathies of the
Church. In Gaul, under a few bold and unscrupulous men, the Merovingian
dynasty emerged from a host of petty kings, and consolidated the whole
country into one kingdom; but after a short period it degenerated, the
kings became mere puppets in the hands of the mayors of the palace, and
these latter, whose office had become hereditary, who were the chiefs of
the great landed proprietors, and who had acquired by their position a
personal ascendancy over the sovereigns, became the virtual rulers of the

It was out of these somewhat unpromising conditions that the mediæval
doctrine of the Divine right of kings, and the general reverence for rank,
that formed the essence of chivalry, were slowly evolved. Political and
moral causes conspired in producing them. The chief political causes—which
are well known—may be summed up in a few words.

When Leo the Isaurian attempted, in the eighth century, to repress the
worship of images, the resistance which he met at Constantinople, though
violent, was speedily allayed; but the Pope, assuming a far higher
position than any Byzantine ecclesiastic could attain, boldly
excommunicated the emperor, and led a revolt against his authority, which
resulted in the virtual independence of Italy. His position was at this
time singularly grand. He represented a religious cause to which the great
mass of the Christian world were passionately attached. He was venerated
as the emancipator of Italy. He exhibited in the hour of his triumph a
moderation which conciliated many enemies, and prevented the anarchy that
might naturally have been expected. He presided, at the same time, over a
vast monastic organisation, which ramified over all Christendom,
propagated his authority among many barbarous nations, and, by its special
attachment to the Papacy, as distinguished from the Episcopacy,
contributed very much to transform Christianity into a spiritual
despotism. One great danger, however, still menaced his power. The
barbarous Lombards were continually invading his territory, and
threatening the independence of Rome. The Lombard monarch, Luitprand had
quailed in the very hour of his triumph before the menace of eternal
torture but his successor, Astolphus, was proof against every fear, and it
seemed as though the Papal city must have inevitably succumbed before his

In their complete military impotence, the Popes looked abroad for some
foreign succour, and they naturally turned to the Franks, whose martial
tastes and triumphs were universally renowned. Charles Martel, though
simply a mayor of the palace, had saved Europe from the Mohammedans, and
the Pope expected that he would unsheath his sword for the defence of the
Vatican. Charles, however, was deaf to all entreaties; and, although he
had done more than any ruler since Constantine for the Church, his
attention seems to have been engrossed by the interests of his own
country, and he was much alienated from the sympathies of the clergy. An
ancient legend tells how a saint saw his soul carried by dæmons into hell,
because he had secularised Church property, and a more modern
historian(545) has ascribed his death to his having hesitated to defend
the Pope. His son, Pepin, however, actuated probably in different degrees
by personal ambition, a desire for military adventure, and religious zeal,
listened readily to the prayer of the Pope, and a compact was entered into
between the parties, which proved one of the most important events in
history. Pepin agreed to secure the Pope from the danger by which he was
threatened. The Pope agreed to give his religious sanction to the ambition
of Pepin, who designed to depose the Merovingian dynasty, and to become in
name, as he was already in fact, the sovereign of Gaul.

It is not necessary for me to recount at length the details of these
negotiations, which are described by many historians. It is sufficient to
say, that the compact was religiously observed. Pepin made two expeditions
to Italy, and completely shattered the power of the Lombards, wresting
from them the rich exarchate of Ravenna, which he ceded to the Pope, who
still retained his nominal allegiance to the Byzantine emperor, but who
became, by this donation, for the first time avowedly an independent
temporal prince. On the other hand, the deposition of Childeric was
peaceably effected; the last of the Merovingians was immured in a
monastery, and the Carlovingian dynasty ascended the throne under the
special benediction of the Pope, who performed on the occasion the
ceremony of consecration, which had not previously been in general
use,(546) placed the crown with his own hands on the head of Pepin, and
delivered a solemn anathema against all who should rebel against the new
king or against his successors.

The extreme importance of these events was probably not fully realised by
any of the parties concerned in them. It was evident, indeed, that the
Pope had been freed from a pressing danger, and had acquired a great
accession of temporal power, and also that a new dynasty had arisen in
Gaul under circumstances that were singularly favourable and imposing.
But, much more important than these facts was the permanent consecration
of the royal authority that had been effected. The Pope had successfully
asserted his power of deposing and elevating kings, and had thus acquired
a position which influenced the whole subsequent course of European
history. The monarch, if he had become in some degree subservient to the
priest, had become in a great degree independent of his people; the Divine
origin of his power was regarded as a dogma of religion, and a sanctity
surrounded him which immeasurably aggrandised his power. The ascription,
by the Pagans, of divinity to kings had had no appreciable effect in
increasing their authority or restraining the limits of criticism or of
rebellion. The ascription of a Divine right to kings, independent of the
wishes of the people, has been one of the most enduring and most potent of
superstitions, and it has even now not wholly vanished from the

Mere isolated political events have, however, rarely or never this
profound influence, unless they have been preceded and prepared by other
agencies. The first predisposing cause of the ready reception of the
doctrine of the Divine character of authority, may probably be found in
the prominence of the monastic system. I have already observed that this
system represents in its extreme form that exaltation of the virtues of
humility and of obedience which so broadly distinguishes the Christian
from the Pagan type of excellence. I have also noticed that, owing to the
concurrence of many causes, it had acquired such dimensions and influence
as to supply the guiding ideal of the Christian world. Controlling or
monopolising all education and literature, furnishing most of the
legislators and many of the statesmen of the age, attracting to themselves
all moral enthusiasm and most intellectual ability, the monks soon left
their impress on the character of nations. Habits of obedience and
dispositions of humility were diffused, revered, and idealised, and a
Church which rested mainly on tradition fostered a deep sense of the
sanctity of antiquity, and a natural disposition to observe traditional
customs. In this manner a tone of feeling was gradually formed that
assimilated with the monarchical and aristocratical institutions of
feudalism, which flourished chiefly because they corresponded with the
moral feelings of the time.

In the next place, a series of social and political causes diminished the
personal independence for which the barbarians had been noted. The king
had at first been, not the sovereign of a country, but the chief of a
tribe.(548) Gradually, however, with more settled habits, the sovereignty
assumed a territorial character, and we may soon discover the rudiments of
a territorial aristocracy. The kings gave their leading chiefs portions of
conquered land or of the royal domains, under the name of benefices. The
obligation of military service was attached to these benefices, and by
slow and perhaps insensible stages, each of which has been the subject of
fierce controversy, they were made irrevocable, and ultimately hereditary.
While society was still disorganised, small landlords purchased the
protection of the Church, or of some important chief, by surrendering
their estates, which they received back as tenants, subject to the
condition of the payment of rent, or of military service. Others, without
making such surrender, placed themselves under the care of a neighbouring
lord, and offered, in return, homage or military aid. At the same time,
through causes to which I have already adverted, the free peasants for the
most part sank into serfs, subject to and protected by the landowners. In
this manner a hierarchy of ranks was gradually formed, of which the
sovereign was the apex and the serf the basis. The complete legal
organisation of this hierarchy belongs to the period of feudalism, which
is not within the scope of the present volume; but the chief elements of
feudalism existed before Charlemagne, and the moral results flowing from
them may be already discerned. Each rank, except the very highest, was
continually brought into contact with a superior, and a feeling of
constant dependence and subordination was accordingly fostered. To the
serf, who depended for all things upon the neighbouring noble, to the
noble, who held all his dignities on the condition of frequent military
service under his sovereign, the idea of secular rank became indissolubly
connected with that of supreme greatness.

It will appear evident, from the foregoing observations, that in the
period before Charlemagne the moral and political causes were already in
action, which at a much later period produced the organisation of
chivalry—an organisation which was founded on the combination and the
glorification of secular rank and military prowess. But, in order that the
tendencies I have described should acquire their full force, it was
necessary that they should be represented or illustrated in some great
personage, who, by the splendour and the beauty of his career, could
fascinate the imaginations of men. It is much easier to govern great
masses of men through their imagination than through their reason. Moral
principles rarely act powerfully upon the world, except by way of example
or ideals. When the course of events has been to glorify the ascetic or
monarchical or military spirit, a great saint, or sovereign, or soldier
will arise, who will concentrate in one dazzling focus the blind
tendencies of his time, kindle the enthusiasm and fascinate the
imagination of the people. But for the prevailing tendency, the great man
would not have arisen, or would not have exercised his great influence.
But for the great man, whose career appealed vividly to the imagination,
the prevailing tendency would never have acquired its full intensity.

This typical figure appeared in Charlemagne, whose colossal form towers
with a majestic grandeur both in history and in romance. Of all the great
rulers of men, there has probably been no other who was so truly
many-sided, whose influence pervaded so completely all the religious,
intellectual, and political modes of thought existing in his time. Rising
in one of the darkest periods of European history, this great emperor
resuscitated, with a brief but dazzling splendour, the faded glories of
the Empire of the West, conducted, for the most part in person, numerous
expeditions against the barbarous nations around him, promulgated a vast
system of legislation, reformed the discipline of every order of the
Church, and reduced all classes of the clergy to subservience to his will,
while, by legalising tithes, he greatly increased their material
prosperity. He at the same time contributed, in a measure, to check the
intellectual decadence by founding schools and libraries, and drawing
around him all the scattered learning of Europe. He reformed the coinage,
extended commerce, influenced religious controversies, and convoked great
legislative assemblies, which ultimately contributed largely to the
organisation of feudalism. In all these spheres the traces of his vast,
organising, and far-seeing genius may be detected, and the influence which
he exercised over the imaginations of men is shown by the numerous legends
of which he is the hero. In the preceding ages the supreme ideal had been
the ascetic. When the popular imagination embodied in legends its
conception of humanity in its noblest and most attractive form, it
instinctively painted some hermit-saint of many penances and many
miracles. In the Romances of Charlemagne and of Arthur we may trace the
dawning of a new type of greatness. The hero of the imagination of Europe
was no longer a hermit, but a king, a warrior, a knight. The long train of
influences I have reviewed, culminating in Charlemagne, had done their
work. The age of the ascetics began to fade. The age of the crusades and
of chivalry succeeded it.

It is curious to observe the manner in which, under the influence of the
prevailing tendency, the career of Charlemagne was transfigured by the
popular imagination. His military enterprises had been chiefly directed
against the Saxons, against whom he had made not less than thirty-two
expeditions. With the Mohammedans he had but little contact. It was
Charles Martel, not his grandson, who, by the great battle of Poitiers,
had checked their career. Charlemagne made, in person, but a single
expedition against them in Spain, and that expedition was on a small
scale, and was disastrous in its issue. But in the Carlovingian romances,
which arose at a time when the enthusiasm of the Crusades was permeating
Christendom, events were represented in a wholly different light. Charles
Martel has no place among the ideal combatants of the Church. He had
appeared too early, his figure was not sufficiently great to fascinate the
popular imagination, and by confiscating ecclesiastical property, and
refusing to assist the Pope against the Lombards, he had fallen under the
ban of the clergy. Charlemagne, on the other hand, was represented as the
first and greatest of the crusaders. His wars with the Saxons were
scarcely noticed. His whole life was said to have been spent in heroic and
triumphant combats with the followers of Mohammed.(549) Among the
achievements attributed to him was an expedition to rescue Nismes and
Carcassonne from their grasp, which was, in fact, a dim tradition of the
victories of Charles Martel.(550) He is even said to have carried his
victorious arms into the heart of Palestine, and he is the hero of what
are probably the three earliest extant romances of the Crusades.(551) In
fiction, as in history, his reign forms the great landmark separating the
early period of the middle ages from the age of military Christianity.

On the verge of this great change I draw this history to a close. In
pursuing our long and chequered course, from Augustus to Charlemagne, we
have seen the rise and fall of many types of character, and of many forms
of enthusiasm. We have seen the influence of universal empire expanding,
and the influence of Greek civilisation intensifying, the sympathies of
Europe. We have surveyed the successive progress of Stoicism, Platonism,
and Egyptian philosophies, at once reflecting and guiding the moral
tendencies of society. We have traced the course of progress or
retrogression in many fields of social, political, and legislative life,
have watched the cradle of European Christianity, examined the causes of
its triumph, the difficulties it encountered, and the priceless blessings
its philanthropic spirit bestowed upon mankind. We have also pursued step
by step the mournful history of its corruption, its asceticism, and its
intolerance, the various transformations it produced or underwent when the
turbid waters of the barbarian invasions had inundated the civilisations
of Europe. It remains for me, before concluding this work, to investigate
one class of subjects to which I have, as yet, but briefly adverted—to
examine the effects of the changes I have described upon the character and
position of woman, and upon the grave moral questions concerning the
relations of the sexes.


In the long series of moral revolutions that have been described in the
foregoing chapters, I have more than once had occasion to refer to the
position that was assigned to woman in the community, and to the virtues
and vices that spring directly from the relations of the sexes. I have
not, however, as yet discussed these questions with a fulness at all
corresponding to their historical importance, and I propose, in
consequence, before concluding this volume, to devote a few pages to their
examination. Of all the many questions that are treated in this work,
there is none which I approach with so much hesitation, for there is
probably none which it is so difficult to treat with clearness and
impartiality, and at the same time without exciting any scandal or
offence. The complexity of the problem, arising from the very large place
which exceptional institutions or circumstances, and especially the
influence of climate and race, have had on the chastity of nations, I have
already noticed, and the extreme delicacy of the matters with which this
branch of ethics is connected must be palpable to all. The first duty of
an historian, however, is to truth; and it is absolutely impossible to
present a true picture of the moral condition of different ages, and to
form a true estimate of the moral effects of different religions, without
adverting to the department of morals, which has exhibited most change,
and has probably exercised most influence.

It is natural that, in the period when men are still perfect barbarians,
when their habits of life are still nomadic, and when, war and the chase,
being their sole pursuits, the qualities that are required in these form
their chief measure of excellence, the inferiority of women to men should
be regarded as undoubted, and their position should be extremely degraded.
In all those qualities which are then most prized, women are indisputably
inferior. The social qualities in which they are especially fitted to
excel have no sphere for their display. The ascendancy of beauty is very
faint, and, even if it were otherwise, few traces of female beauty could
survive the hardships of the savage life. Woman is looked upon merely as
the slave of man, and as the minister to his passions. In the first
capacity, her life is one of continual, abject, and unrequited toil. In
the second capacity, she is exposed to all the violent revulsions of
feeling that follow, among rude men, the gratification of the animal

Even in this early stage, however, we may trace some rudiments of those
moral sentiments which are destined at a later period to expand. The
institution of marriage exists. The value of chastity is commonly in some
degree felt, and appears in the indignation which is displayed against the
adulterer. The duty of restraining the passions is largely recognised in
the female, though the males are only restricted by the prohibition of

The first two steps which are taken towards the elevation of woman are
probably the abandonment of the custom of purchasing wives, and the
construction of the family on the basis of monogamy. In the earliest
periods of civilisation, the marriage contract was arranged between the
bridegroom and the father of the bride, on the condition of a sum of money
being paid by the former to the latter. This sum, which is known in the
laws of the barbarians as the “mundium,”(552) was in fact a payment to the
father for the cession of his daughter, who thus became the bought slave
of her husband. It is one of the most remarkable features of the ancient
laws of India, that they forbade this gift, on the ground that the parent
should not sell his child;(553) but there can be little doubt that this
sale was at one time the ordinary type of marriage. In the Jewish writings
we find Jacob purchasing Leah and Rachel by certain services to their
father; and this custom, which seems to have been at one time general in
Judea,(554) appears in the age of Homer to have been general in Greece. At
an early period, however, of Greek history, the purchase-money was
replaced by the dowry, or sum of money paid by the father of the bride for
the use of his daughter;(555) and this, although it passed into the hands
of the husband, contributed to elevate the wife, in the first place, by
the dignity it gave her, and, in the next place, by special laws, which
both in Greece and Rome secured it to her in most cases of
separation.(556) The wife thus possessed a guarantee against ill-usage by
her husband. She ceased to be his slave, and became in some degree a
contracting party. Among the early Germans, a different and very
remarkable custom existed. The bride did not bring any dowry to her
husband, nor did the bridegroom give anything to the father of the bride;
but he gave his gift to the bride herself, on the morning after the first
night of marriage, and this, which was called the “Morgengab,” or morning
gift, was the origin of the jointure.(557)

Still more important than the foregoing was the institution of monogamy,
by which, from its earliest days, the Greek civilisation proclaimed its
superiority to the Asiatic civilisations that had preceded it. We may
regard monogamy either in the light of our intuitive moral sentiment on
the subject of purity, or in the light of the interests of society. In its
Oriental or polygamous stage, marriage is regarded almost exclusively, in
its lowest aspect, as a gratification of the passions; while in European
marriages the mutual attachment and respect of the contracting parties,
the formation of a household, and the long train of domestic feelings and
duties that accompany it, have all their distinguished place among the
motives of the contract, and the lower element has comparatively little
prominence. In this way it may be intelligibly said, without any reference
to utilitarian considerations, that monogamy is a higher state than
polygamy. The utilitarian arguments in its defence are also extremely
powerful, and may be summed up in three sentences. Nature, by making the
number of males and females nearly equal, indicates it as natural. In no
other form of marriage can the government of the family, which is one of
the chief ends of marriage, be so happily sustained, and in no other does
woman assume the position of the equal of man.

Monogamy was the general system in Greece, though there are said to have
been slight and temporary deviations into the earlier system, after some
great disasters, when an increase of population was ardently desired.(558)
A broad line must, however, be drawn between the legendary or poetical
period, as reflected in Homer and perpetuated in the tragedians, and the
later historical period. It is one of the most remarkable, and to some
writers one of the most perplexing, facts in the moral history of Greece,
that in the former and ruder period women had undoubtedly the highest
place, and their type exhibited the highest perfection. Moral ideas, in a
thousand forms, have been sublimated, enlarged, and changed, by advancing
civilisation; but it may be fearlessly asserted that the types of female
excellence which are contained in the Greek poems, while they are among
the earliest, are also among the most perfect in the literature of
mankind. The conjugal tenderness of Hector and Andromache; the unwearied
fidelity of Penelope, awaiting through the long revolving years the return
of her storm-tossed husband, who looked forward to her as to the crown of
all his labours; the heroic love of Alcestis, voluntarily dying that her
husband might live; the filial piety of Antigone; the majestic grandeur of
the death of Polyxena; the more subdued and saintly resignation of
Iphigenia, excusing with her last breath the father who had condemned her;
the joyous, modest, and loving Nausicaa, whose figure shines like a
perfect idyll among the tragedies of the Odyssey—all these are pictures of
perennial beauty, which Rome and Christendom, chivalry and modern
civilisation, have neither eclipsed nor transcended. Virgin modesty and
conjugal fidelity, the graces as well as the virtues of the most perfect
womanhood, have never been more exquisitely pourtrayed. The female figures
stand out in the canvas almost as prominently as the male ones, and are
surrounded by an almost equal reverence. The whole history of the Siege of
Troy is a history of the catastrophes that followed a violation of the
nuptial tie. Yet, at the same time, the position of women was in some
respects a degraded one. The custom of purchase-money given to the father
of the bride was general. The husbands appear to have indulged largely,
and with little or no censure, in concubines.(559) Female captives of the
highest rank were treated with great harshness. The inferiority of women
to men was strongly asserted, and it was illustrated and defended by a
very curious physiological notion, that the generative power belonged
exclusively to men, women having only a very subordinate part in the
production of their children.(560) The woman Pandora was said to have been
the author of all human ills.

In the historical age of Greece, the legal position of women had in some
respects slightly improved, but their moral condition had undergone a
marked deterioration. Virtuous women lived a life of perfect seclusion.
The foremost and most dazzling type of Ionic womanhood was the courtesan,
while, among the men, the latitude accorded by public opinion was almost

The facts in moral history, which it is at once most important and most
difficult to appreciate, are what may be called the facts of feeling. It
is much easier to show what men did or taught than to realise the state of
mind that rendered possible such actions or teaching; and in the case
before us we have to deal with a condition of feeling so extremely remote
from that of our own day, that the difficulty is preeminently great. Very
sensual, and at the same time very brilliant societies, have indeed
repeatedly existed, and the histories of both France and Italy afford many
examples of an artistic and intellectual enthusiasm encircling those who
were morally most frail; but the peculiarity of Greek sensuality is, that
it grew up, for the most part, uncensured, and indeed even encouraged,
under the eyes of some of the most illustrious of moralists. If we can
imagine Ninon de l’Enclos at a time when the rank and splendour of
Parisian society thronged her drawing-rooms, reckoning a Bossuet or a
Fénelon among her followers—if we can imagine these prelates publicly
advising her about the duties of her profession, and the means of
attaching the affections of her lovers—we shall have conceived a relation
scarcely more strange than that which existed between Socrates and the
courtesan Theodota.

In order to reconstruct, as far as possible, the modes of feeling of the
Greek moralists, it will be necessary in the first place to say a few
words concerning one of the most delicate, but at the same time most
important, problems with which the legislator and the moralist have to

It was a favourite doctrine of the Christian Fathers, that concupiscence,
or the sensual passion, was “the original sin” of human nature; and it
must be owned that the progress of knowledge, which is usually extremely
opposed to the ascetic theory of life, concurs with the theological view,
in showing the natural force of this appetite to be far greater than the
well-being of man requires. The writings of Malthus have proved, what the
Greek moralists appear in a considerable degree to have seen, that its
normal and temperate exercise in the form of marriage, would produce, if
universal, the utmost calamities to the world, and that, while nature
seems in the most unequivocal manner to urge the human race to early
marriages, the first condition of an advancing civilisation in populous
countries is to restrain or diminish them. In no highly civilised society
is marriage general on the first development of the passions, and the
continual tendency of increasing knowledge is to render such marriages
more rare. It is also an undoubted truth that, however much moralists may
enforce the obligation of extra-matrimonial purity, this obligation has
never been even approximately regarded; and in all nations, ages, and
religions a vast mass of irregular indulgence has appeared, which has
probably contributed more than any other single cause to the misery and
the degradation of man.

There are two ends which a moralist, in dealing with this question, will
especially regard—the natural duty of every man doing something for the
support of the child he has called into existence, and the preservation of
the domestic circle unassailed and unpolluted. The family is the centre
and the archetype of the State, and the happiness and goodness of society
are always in a very great degree dependent upon the purity of domestic
life. The essentially exclusive nature of marital affection, and the
natural desire of every man to be certain of the paternity of the child he
supports, render the incursions of irregular passions within the domestic
circle a cause of extreme suffering. Yet it would appear as if the
excessive force of these passions would render such incursions both
frequent and inevitable.

Under these circumstances, there has arisen in society a figure which is
certainly the most mournful, and in some respects the most awful, upon
which the eye of the moralist can dwell. That unhappy being whose very
name is a shame to speak; who counterfeits with a cold heart the
transports of affection, and submits herself as the passive instrument of
lust; who is scorned and insulted as the vilest of her sex, and doomed,
for the most part, to disease and abject wretchedness and an early death,
appears in every age as the perpetual symbol of the degradation and the
sinfulness of man. Herself the supreme type of vice, she is ultimately the
most efficient guardian of virtue. But for her, the unchallenged purity of
countless happy homes would be polluted, and not a few who, in the pride
of their untempted chastity, think of her with an indignant shudder, would
have known the agony of remorse and of despair. On that one degraded and
ignoble form are concentrated the passions that might have filled the
world with shame. She remains, while creeds and civilisations rise and
fall, the eternal priestess of humanity, blasted for the sins of the

In dealing with this unhappy being, and with all of her sex who have
violated the law of chastity, the public opinion of most Christian
countries pronounces a sentence of extreme severity. In the Anglo-Saxon
nations especially, a single fault of this kind is sufficient, at least in
the upper and middle classes, to affix an indelible brand which no time,
no virtues, no penitence can wholly efface. This sentence is probably, in
the first instance, simply the expression of the religious feeling on the
subject, but it is also sometimes defended by powerful arguments drawn
from the interests of society. It is said that the preservation of
domestic purity is a matter of such transcendent importance that it is
right that the most crushing penalties should be attached to an act which
the imagination can easily transfigure, which legal enactments can never
efficiently control, and to which the most violent passions may prompt. It
is said, too, that an anathema which drives into obscurity all evidences
of sensual passions is peculiarly fitted to restrict their operation; for,
more than any other passions, they are dependent on the imagination, which
is readily fired by the sight of evil. It is added, that the emphasis with
which the vice is stigmatised produces a corresponding admiration for the
opposite virtue, and that a feeling of the most delicate and scrupulous
honour is thus formed among the female population, which not only
preserves from gross sin, but also dignifies and ennobles the whole

In opposition to these views, several considerations of much weight have
been urged. It is argued that, however persistently society may ignore
this form of vice, it exists nevertheless, and on the most gigantic scale,
and that evil rarely assumes such inveterate and perverting forms as when
it is shrouded in obscurity and veiled by an hypocritical appearance of
unconsciousness. The existence in England of certainly not less than fifty
thousand unhappy women,(561) sunk in the very lowest depths of vice and
misery, shows sufficiently what an appalling amount of moral evil is
festering uncontrolled, undiscussed, and unalleviated, under the fair
surface of a decorous society. In the eyes of every physician, and indeed
in the eyes of most continental writers who have adverted to the subject,
no other feature of English life appears so infamous as the fact that an
epidemic, which is one of the most dreadful now existing among mankind,
which communicates itself from the guilty husband to the innocent wife,
and even transmits its taint to her offspring, and which the experience of
other nations conclusively proves may be vastly diminished, should be
suffered to rage unchecked because the Legislature refuses to take
official cognisance of its existence, or proper sanitary measures for its
repression.(562) If the terrible censure which English public opinion
passes upon every instance of female frailty in some degree diminishes the
number, it does not prevent such instances from being extremely numerous,
and it immeasurably aggravates the suffering they produce. Acts which in
other European countries would excite only a slight and transient emotion,
spread in England, over a wide circle, all the bitterness of unmitigated
anguish. Acts which naturally neither imply nor produce a total subversion
of the moral feelings, and which, in other countries, are often followed
by happy, virtuous, and affectionate lives, in England almost invariably
lead to absolute ruin. Infanticide is greatly multiplied, and a vast
proportion of those whose reputations and lives have been blasted by one
momentary sin, are hurled into the abyss of habitual prostitution—a
condition which, owing to the sentence of public opinion and the neglect
of legislators, is in no other European country so hopelessly vicious or
so irrevocable.(563)

It is added, too, that the immense multitude who are thus doomed to the
extremity of life-long wretchedness are not always, perhaps not generally,
of those whose dispositions seem naturally incapable of virtue. The
victims of seduction are often led aside quite as much by the ardour of
their affections, and by the vivacity of their intelligence, as by any
vicious propensities.(564) Even in the lowest grades, the most
dispassionate observers have detected remains of higher feelings, which,
in a different moral atmosphere, and under different moral husbandry,
would have undoubtedly been developed.(565) The statistics of prostitution
show that a great proportion of those who have fallen into it have been
impelled by the most extreme poverty, in many instances verging upon

These opposing considerations, which I have very briefly indicated, and
which I do not propose to discuss or to estimate, will be sufficient to
exhibit the magnitude of the problem. In the Greek civilisation,
legislators and moralists endeavoured to meet it by the cordial
recognition of two distinct orders of womanhood(567)—the wife, whose first
duty was fidelity to her husband; the hetæra, or mistress, who subsisted
by her fugitive attachments. The wives of the Greeks lived in almost
absolute seclusion. They were usually married when very young. Their
occupations were to weave, to spin, to embroider, to superintend the
household, to care for their sick slaves. They lived in a special and
retired part of the house. The more wealthy seldom went abroad, and never
except when accompanied by a female slave; never attended the public
spectacles; received no male visitors except in the presence of their
husbands, and had not even a seat at their own tables when male guests
were there. Their pre-eminent virtue was fidelity, and it is probable that
this was very strictly and very generally observed. Their remarkable
freedom from temptations, the public opinion which strongly discouraged
any attempt to seduce them, and the ample sphere for illicit pleasures
that was accorded to the other sex, all contributed to protect it. On the
other hand, living, as they did, almost exclusively among their female
slaves, being deprived of all the educating influence of male society, and
having no place at those public spectacles which were the chief means of
Athenian culture, their minds must necessarily have been exceedingly
contracted. Thucydides doubtless expressed the prevailing sentiment of his
countrymen when he said that the highest merit of woman is not to be
spoken of either for good or for evil; and Phidias illustrated the same
feeling when he represented the heavenly Aphrodite standing on a tortoise,
typifying thereby the secluded life of a virtuous woman.(568)

In their own restricted sphere their lives were probably not unhappy.
Education and custom rendered the purely domestic life that was assigned
to them a second nature, and it must in most instances have reconciled
them to the extra-matrimonial connections in which their husbands too
frequently indulged. The prevailing manners were very gentle. Domestic
oppression is scarcely ever spoken of; the husband lived chiefly in the
public place; causes of jealousy and of dissension could seldom occur; and
a feeling of warm affection, though not a feeling of equality, must
doubtless have in most cases spontaneously arisen. In the writings of
Xenophon we have a charming picture of a husband who had received into his
arms his young wife of fifteen, absolutely ignorant of the world and of
its ways. He speaks to her with extreme kindness, but in the language that
would be used to a little child. Her task, he tells her, is to be like a
queen bee, dwelling continually at home and superintending the work of her
slaves. She must distribute to each their tasks, must economise the family
income, and must take especial care that the house is strictly orderly—the
shoes, the pots, and the clothes always in their places. It is also, he
tells her, a part of her duty to tend her sick slaves; but here his wife
interrupted him, exclaiming, “Nay, but that will indeed be the most
agreeable of my offices, if such as I treat with kindness are likely to be
grateful, and to love me more than before.” With a very tender and
delicate care to avoid everything resembling a reproach, the husband
persuades his wife to give up the habits of wearing high-heeled boots, in
order to appear tall, and of colouring her face with vermilion and white
lead. He promises her that if she faithfully performs her duties he will
himself be the first and most devoted of her slaves. He assured Socrates
that when any domestic dispute arose he could extricate himself admirably,
if he was in the right; but that, whenever he was in the wrong, he found
it impossible to convince his wife that it was otherwise.(569)

We have another picture of Greek married life in the writings of Plutarch,
but it represents the condition of the Greek mind at a later period than
that of Xenophon. In Plutarch the wife is represented not as the mere
housekeeper, or as the chief slave of her husband, but as his equal and
his companion. He enforces, in the strongest terms, reciprocity of
obligations, and desires that the minds of women should be cultivated to
the highest point.(570) His precepts of marriage, indeed, fall little if
at all below any that have appeared in modern days. His letter of
consolation to his wife, on the death of their child, breathes a spirit of
the tenderest affection. It is recorded of him that, having had some
dispute with the relations of his wife, she feared that it might impair
their domestic happiness, and she accordingly persuaded her husband to
accompany her on a pilgrimage to Mount Helicon, where they offered up
together a sacrifice to Love, and prayed that their affection for one
another might never be diminished.

In general, however, the position of the virtuous Greek woman was a very
low one. She was under a perpetual tutelage: first of all to her parents,
who disposed of her hand, then to her husband, and in her days of
widowhood to her sons. In cases of inheritance her male relations were
preferred to her. The privilege of divorce, which, in Athens, at least,
she possessed as well as her husband, appears to have been practically
almost nugatory, on account of the shock which public declarations in the
law court gave to the habits which education and public opinion had
formed. She brought with her, however, a dowry, and the recognised
necessity of endowing daughters was one of the causes of those frequent
expositions which were perpetrated with so little blame. The Athenian law
was also peculiarly careful and tender in dealing with the interests of
female orphans.(571) Plato had argued that women were equal to men; but
the habits of the people were totally opposed to this theory. Marriage was
regarded chiefly in a civic light, as the means of producing citizens, and
in Sparta it was ordered that old or infirm husbands should cede their
young wives to stronger men, who could produce vigorous soldiers for the
State. The Lacedæmonian treatment of women, which differed in many
respects from that which prevailed in the other Greek States, while it was
utterly destructive of all delicacy of feeling or action, had undoubtedly
the effect of producing a fierce and masculine patriotism; and many fine
examples are recorded of Spartan mothers devoting their sons on the altar
of their country, rejoicing over their deaths when nobly won, and infusing
their own heroic spirit into the armies of the people. For the most part,
however, the names of virtuous women seldom appear in Greek history. The
simple modesty which was evinced by Phocion’s wife, in the period when her
husband occupied the foremost position in Athens,(572) and a few instances
of conjugal and filial affection, have been recorded; but in general the
only women who attracted the notice of the people were the hetæræ, or

In order to understand the position which these last assumed in Greek
life, we must transport ourselves in thought into a moral latitude totally
different from our own. The Greek conception of excellence was the full
and perfect development of humanity in all its organs and functions, and
without any tinge of asceticism. Some parts of human nature were
recognised as higher than others; and to suffer any of the lower appetites
to obscure the mind, restrain the will and engross the energies of life,
was acknowledged to be disgraceful; but the systematic repression of a
natural appetite was totally foreign to Greek modes of thought.
Legislators, moralists, and the general voice of the people, appear to
have applied these principles almost unreservedly to intercourse between
the sexes, and the most virtuous men habitually and openly entered into
relations which would now be almost universally censured.

The experience, however, of many societies has shown that a public opinion
may accord, in this respect, almost unlimited licence to one sex, without
showing any corresponding indulgence to the other. But, in Greece, a
concurrence of causes had conspired to bring a certain section of
courtesans into a position they have in no other society attained. The
voluptuous worship of Aphrodite gave a kind of religious sanction to their
profession. Courtesans were the priestesses in her temples, and those of
Corinth were believed by their prayers to have averted calamities from
their city. Prostitution is said to have entered into the religious rites
of Babylon, Biblis, Cyprus, and Corinth, and these as well as Miletus,
Tenedos, Lesbos, and Abydos became famous for their schools of vice, which
grew up under the shadow of the temples.(574)

In the next place, the intense æsthetic enthusiasm that prevailed was
eminently fitted to raise the most beautiful to honour. In a land and
beneath a sky where natural beauty developed to the highest point, there
arose a school of matchless artists both in painting and in sculpture, and
public games and contests were celebrated, in which supreme physical
perfection was crowned by an assembled people. In no other period of the
world’s history was the admiration of beauty in all its forms so
passionate or so universal. It coloured the whole moral teaching of the
time, and led the chief moralists to regard virtue simply as the highest
kind of supersensual beauty. It appeared in all literature, where the
beauty of form and style was the first of studies. It supplied at once the
inspiration and the rule of all Greek art. It led the Greek wife to pray,
before all other prayers, for the beauty of her children. It surrounded
the most beautiful with an aureole of admiring reverence. The courtesan
was often the queen of beauty. She was the model of the statues of
Aphrodite, that commanded the admiration of Greece. Praxiteles was
accustomed to reproduce the form of Phryne, and her statue, carved in
gold, stood in the temple of Apollo at Delphi; and when she was accused of
corrupting the youth of Athens, her advocate, Hyperides, procured her
acquittal by suddenly unveiling her charms before the dazzled eyes of the
assembled judges. Apelles was at once the painter and the lover of Laïs,
and Alexander gave him, as the choicest gift, his own favourite concubine,
of whom the painter had become enamoured while pourtraying her. The chief
flower-painter of antiquity acquired his skill through his love of the
flower-girl Glycera, whom he was accustomed to paint among her garlands.
Pindar and Simonides sang the praises of courtesans, and grave
philosophers made pilgrimages to visit them, and their names were known in
every city.(575)

It is not surprising that, in such a state of thought and feeling, many of
the more ambitious and accomplished women should have betaken themselves
to this career, nor yet that they should have attained the social position
which the secluded existence and the enforced ignorance of the Greek wives
had left vacant. The courtesan was the one free woman of Athens, and she
often availed herself of her freedom to acquire a degree of knowledge
which enabled her to add to her other charms an intense intellectual
fascination. Gathering around her the most brilliant artists, poets,
historians, and philosophers, she flung herself unreservedly into the
intellectual and æsthetic enthusiasms of her time, and soon became the
centre of a literary society of matchless splendour. Aspasia, who was as
famous for her genius as for her beauty, won the passionate love of
Pericles. She is said to have instructed him in eloquence, and to have
composed some of his most famous orations; she was continually consulted
on affairs of state; and Socrates, like other philosophers, attended her
assemblies. Socrates himself has owned his deep obligations to the
instructions of a courtesan named Diotima. The courtesan Leontium was
among the most ardent disciples of Epicurus.(576)

Another cause probably contributed indirectly to the elevation of this
class, to which it is extremely difficult to allude in an English book,
but which it is impossible altogether to omit, even in the most cursory
survey of Greek morals. Irregular female connections were looked upon as
ordinary and not disgraceful incidents in the life of a good man, for they
were compared with that lower abyss of unnatural love, which was the
deepest and strangest taint of Greek civilisation. This vice, which never
appears in the writings of Homer and Hesiod, doubtless arose under the
influence of the public games, which, accustoming men to the contemplation
of absolutely nude figures,(577) awoke an unnatural passion,(578) totally
remote from all modern feelings, but which in Greece it was regarded as
heroic to resist.(579) The popular religion in this, as in other cases,
was made to bend to the new vice. Hebe, the cup-bearer of the gods, was
replaced by Ganymede, and the worst vices of earth were transported to
Olympus.(580) Artists sought to reflect the passion in their statues of
the Hermaphrodite, of Bacchus, and the more effeminate Apollo; moralists
were known to praise it as the bond of friendship, and it was spoken of as
the inspiring enthusiasm of the heroic Theban legion of Epaminondas.(581)
In general, however, it was stigmatised as unquestionably a vice, but it
was treated with a levity we can now hardly conceive. We can scarcely have
a better illustration of the extent to which moral ideas and feelings have
changed, than the fact that the first two Greeks who were considered
worthy of statues by their fellow-countrymen are said to have been
Harmodius and Aristogeiton, who were united by an impure love, and who
were glorified for a political assassination.(582)

It is probable that this cause conspired with the others to dissociate the
class of courtesans from the idea of supreme depravity with which they
have usually been connected. The great majority, however, were sunk in
this, as in all other ages, in abject degradation;(583) comparatively few
attained the condition of hetæræ, and even of these it is probable that
the greater number exhibited the characteristics which in all ages have
attached to their class. Faithlessness, extreme rapacity, and extravagant
luxury, were common among them; but yet it is unquestionable that there
were many exceptions. The excommunication of society did not press upon or
degrade them; and though they were never regarded with the same honour as
married women, it seems generally to have been believed that the wife and
the courtesan had each her place and her function in the world, and her
own peculiar type of excellence. The courtesan Leæna, who was a friend of
Harmodius, died in torture rather than reveal the conspiracy of her
friend, and the Athenians, in allusion to her name, caused the statue of a
tongueless lioness to be erected to commemorate her constancy.(584) The
gentle manners and disinterested affection of a courtesan named Bacchis
were especially recorded, and a very touching letter paints her character,
and describes the regret that followed her to the tomb.(585) In one of the
most remarkable of his pictures of Greek life, Xenophon describes how
Socrates, having heard of the beauty of the courtesan Theodota, went with
his disciples to ascertain for himself whether the report was true; how
with a quiet humour he questioned her about the sources of the luxury of
her dwelling, and how he proceeded to sketch for her the qualities she
should cultivate in order to attach her lovers. She ought, he tells her,
to shut the door against the insolent, to watch her lovers in sickness, to
rejoice greatly when they succeed in anything honourable, to love tenderly
those who love her. Having carried on a cheerful and perfectly
unembarrassed conversation with her, with no kind of reproach on his part,
either expressed or implied, and with no trace either of the timidity or
effrontery of conscious guilt upon hers, the best and wisest of the Greeks
left his hostess with a graceful compliment to her beauty.(586)

My task in describing this aspect of Greek life has been an eminently
unpleasing one, and I should certainly not have entered upon even the
baldest and most guarded disquisition on a subject so difficult, painful,
and delicate, had it not been absolutely indispensable to a history of
morals to give at least an outline of the progress that has been effected
in this sphere. What I have written will sufficiently explain why Greece,
which was fertile, beyond all other lands, in great men, was so remarkably
barren of great women. It will show, too, that while the Greek moralists
recognised, like ourselves, the distinction between the higher and the
lower sides of our nature, they differed very widely from modern public
opinion in the standard of morals they enforced. The Christian doctrine,
that it is criminal to gratify a powerful and a transient physical
appetite, except under the condition of a lifelong contract, was
altogether unknown. Strict duties were imposed upon Greek wives. Duties
were imposed at a later period, though less strictly, upon the husband.
Unnatural love was stigmatised, but with a levity of censure which to a
modern mind appears inexpressibly revolting. Some slight legal
disqualifications rested upon the whole class of hetæræ, and, though more
admired, they were less respected than women who had adopted a domestic
life; but a combination of circumstances had raised them, in actual worth
and in popular estimation, to an unexampled elevation, and an aversion to
marriage became very general, and extra-matrimonial connections were
formed with the most perfect frankness and publicity.

If we now turn to the Roman civilisation, we shall find that some
important advances had been made in the condition of women. The virtue of
chastity has, as I have shown, been regarded in two different ways. The
utilitarian view, which commonly prevails in countries where a political
spirit is more powerful than a religious spirit, regards marriage as the
ideal state, and to promote the happiness, sanctity, and security of this
state is the main object of all its precepts. The mystical view which
rests upon the natural feeling of shame, and which, as history proves, has
prevailed especially where political sentiment is very low, and religious
sentiment very strong, regards virginity as its supreme type, and marriage
as simply the most pardonable declension from ideal purity. It is, I
think, a very remarkable fact, that at the head of the religious system of
Rome we find two sacerdotal bodies which appear respectively to typify
these ideas. The Flamens of Jupiter and the Vestal Virgins were the two
most sacred orders in Rome. The ministrations of each were believed to be
vitally important to the State. Each could officiate only within the walls
of Rome. Each was appointed with the most imposing ceremonies. Each was
honoured with the most profound reverence. But in one important respect
they differed. The Vestal was the type of virginity, and her purity was
guarded by the most terrific penalties. The Flamen, on the other hand, was
the representative of Roman marriage in its strictest and holiest form. He
was necessarily married. His marriage was celebrated with the most solemn
rites. It could only be dissolved by death. If his wife died, he was
degraded from his office.(587)

Of these two orders, there can be no question that the Flamen was the most
faithful expression of the Roman sentiments. The Roman religion was
essentially domestic, and it was a main object of the legislator to
surround marriage with every circumstance of dignity and solemnity.
Monogamy was, from the earliest times, strictly enjoined; and it was one
of the great benefits that have resulted from the expansion of Roman
power, that it made this type dominant in Europe. In the legends of early
Rome we have ample evidence both of the high moral estimate of women, and
of their prominence in Roman life. The tragedies of Lucretia and of
Virginia display a delicacy of honour, a sense of the supreme excellence
of unsullied purity, which no Christian nation could surpass. The legends
of the Sabine women interceding between their parents and their husbands,
and thus saving the infant republic, and of the mother of Coriolanus
averting by her prayers the ruin impending over her country, entitled
women to claim their share in the patriotic glories of Rome. A temple of
Venus Calva was associated with the legend of Roman ladies, who, in an
hour of danger, cut off their long tresses to make bowstrings for the
soldiers.(588) Another temple preserved to all posterity the memory of the
filial piety of that Roman woman who, when her mother was condemned to be
starved to death, obtained permission to visit her in her prison, and was
discovered feeding her from her breast.(589)

The legal position, however, of the Roman wife was for a long period
extremely low. The Roman family was constituted on the principle of the
uncontrolled authority of its head, both over his wife and over his
children, and he could repudiate the former at will. Neither the custom of
gifts to the father of the bride, nor the custom of dowries, appears to
have existed in the earliest period of Roman history; but the father
disposed absolutely of the hand of his daughter, and sometimes even
possessed the power of breaking off marriages that had been actually
contracted.(590) In the forms of marriage, however, which were usual in
the earlier periods of Rome, the absolute power passed into the hands of
the husband, and he had the right, in some cases, of putting her to
death.(591) Law and public opinion combined in making matrimonial purity
most strict. For five hundred and twenty years, it was said, there was no
such thing as a divorce in Rome.(592) Manners were so severe, that a
senator was censured for indecency because he had kissed his wife in the
presence of their daughter.(593) It was considered in a high degree
disgraceful for a Roman mother to delegate to a nurse the duty of suckling
her child.(594) Sumptuary laws regulated with the most minute severity all
the details of domestic economy.(595) The courtesan class, though probably
numerous and certainly uncontrolled, were regarded with much contempt. The
disgrace of publicly professing themselves members of it was believed to
be a sufficient punishment;(596) and an old law, which was probably
intended to teach in symbol the duties of married life, enjoined that no
such person should touch the altar of Juno.(597) It was related of a
certain ædile, that he failed to obtain redress for an assault which had
been made upon him, because it had occurred in a house of ill-fame, in
which it was disgraceful for a Roman magistrate to be found.(598) The
sanctity of female purity was believed to be attested by all nature. The
most savage animals became tame before a virgin.(599) When a woman walked
naked round a field, caterpillars and all loathsome insects fell dead
before her.(600) It was said that drowned men floated on their backs, and
drowned women on their faces; and this, in the opinion of Roman
naturalists, was due to the superior purity of the latter.(601)

It was a remark of Aristotle, that the superiority of the Greeks to the
barbarians was shown, among other things, in the fact that the Greeks did
not, like other nations, regard their wives as slaves, but treated them as
helpmates and companions. A Roman writer has appealed, on the whole with
greater justice, to the treatment of wives by his fellow countrymen, as a
proof of the superiority of Roman to Greek civilisation. He has observed
that while the Greeks kept their wives in a special quarter in the
interior of their houses, and never permitted them to sit at banquets
except with their relatives, or to see any male except in the presence of
a relative, no Roman ever hesitated to lead his wife with him to the
feast, or to place the mother of the family at the head of his table.(602)
Whether, in the period when wives were completely subject to the rule of
their husbands, much domestic oppression occurred, it is now impossible to
say. A temple dedicated to a goddess named Viriplaca, whose mission was to
appease husbands, was worshipped by Roman women on the Palatine;(603) and
a strange and improbable, if not incredible story, is related by Livy, of
the discovery during the Republic, of a vast conspiracy by Roman wives to
poison their husbands.(604) On the whole, however, it is probable that the
Roman matron was from the earliest period a name of honour;(605) that the
beautiful sentence of a jurisconsult of the Empire, who defined marriage
as a lifelong fellowship of all divine and human rights,(606) expressed
most faithfully the feelings of the people, and that female virtue had in
every age a considerable place in Roman biographies.(607)

I have already enumerated the chief causes of that complete dissolution of
Roman morals which began shortly after the Punic wars, which contributed
very largely to the destruction of the Republic, and which attained its
climax under the Cæsars. There are few examples in history of a revolution
pervading so completely every sphere of religious, domestic, social, and
political life. Philosophical scepticism corroded the ancient religions.
An inundation of Eastern luxury and Eastern morals submerged all the old
habits of austere simplicity. The civil wars and the Empire degraded the
character of the people, and the exaggerated prudery of republican manners
only served to make the rebound into vice the more irresistible. In the
fierce outburst of ungovernable and almost frantic depravity that marked
this evil period, the violations of female virtue were infamously
prominent. The vast multiplication of slaves, which is in every age
peculiarly fatal to moral purity; the fact that a great proportion of
those slaves were chosen from the most voluptuous provinces of the Empire;
the games of Flora, in which races of naked courtesans were exhibited; the
pantomimes, which derived their charms chiefly from the audacious
indecencies of the actors; the influx of the Greek and Asiatic hetæræ who
were attracted by the wealth of the metropolis; the licentious paintings
which began to adorn every house; the rise of Baiæ, which rivalled the
luxury and surpassed the beauty of the chief centres of Asiatic vice,
combining with the intoxication of great wealth suddenly acquired, with
the disruption, through many causes, of all the ancient habits and
beliefs, and with the tendency to pleasure which the closing of the paths
of honourable political ambition by the imperial despotism, naturally
produced, had all their part in preparing those orgies of vice which the
writers of the Empire reveal. Most scholars will, I suppose, retain a
vivid recollection of the new insight into the extent and wildness of
human guilt which they obtained when they first opened the pages of
Suetonius or Lampridius; and the sixth Satire of Juvenal paints with a
fierce energy, though probably with the natural exaggeration of a
satirist, the extent to which corruption had spread among the women. It
was found necessary, under Tiberius, to make a special law prohibiting
members of noble houses from enrolling themselves as prostitutes.(608) The
extreme coarseness of the Roman disposition prevented sensuality from
assuming that æsthetic character which had made it in Greece the parent of
Art, and had very profoundly modified its influence, while the passion for
gladiatorial shows often allied it somewhat unnaturally with cruelty.
There have certainly been many periods in history when virtue was more
rare than under the Cæsars; but there has probably never been a period
when vice was more extravagant or uncontrolled. Young emperors especially,
who were surrounded by swarms of sycophants and panders, and who often
lived in continual dread of assassination, plunged with the most reckless
and feverish excitement into every variety of abnormal lust. The reticence
which has always more or less characterised modern society and modern
writers was unknown, and the unblushing, undisguised obscenity of the
Epigrams of Martial, of the Romances of Apuleius and Petronius, and of
some of the Dialogues of Lucian, reflected but too faithfully the spirit
of their time.

There had arisen, too, partly through vicious causes, and partly, I
suppose, through the unfavourable influence which the attraction of the
public institutions exercised on domestic life, a great and general
indisposition towards marriage, which Augustus attempted in vain to arrest
by his laws against celibacy, and by conferring many privileges on the
fathers of three children.(609) A singularly curious speech is preserved,
which is said to have been delivered on this subject, shortly before the
close of the Republic, by Metellus Numidicus, in order, if possible, to
overcome this indisposition. “If, Romans,” he said, “we could live without
wives, we should all keep free from that source of trouble; but since
nature has ordained that men can neither live sufficiently agreeably with
wives, nor at all without them, let us consider the perpetual endurance of
our race rather than our own brief enjoyment.”(610)

In the midst of this torrent of corruption a great change was passing over
the legal position of Roman women. They had at first been in a condition
of absolute subjection or subordination to their relations. They arrived,
during the Empire, at a point of freedom and dignity which they
subsequently lost, and have never altogether regained. The Romans
recognised two distinct classes of marriages: the stricter, and, in the
eyes of the law, more honourable, forms, which placed the woman “in the
hand” of her husband and gave him an almost absolute authority over her
person and her property; and a less strict form, which left her legal
position unchanged. The former, which were general during the Republic,
were of three kinds—the “confarreatio,” which was celebrated and could
only be dissolved by the most solemn religious ceremonies, and was
jealously restricted to patricians; the “coemptio,” which was purely
civil, and derived its name from a symbolical sale; and the “usus,” which
was effected by the mere cohabitation of a woman with a man without
interruption for the space of a year. Under the Empire, however, these
kinds of marriage became almost wholly obsolete; a laxer form, resting
upon a simple mutual agreement, without any religious or civil ceremony,
was general, and it had this very important consequence, that the woman so
married remained, in the eyes of the law, in the family of her father, and
was under his guardianship, not under the guardianship of her husband. But
the old _patria potestas_ had become completely obsolete, and the
practical effect of the general adoption of this form of marriage was the
absolute legal independence of the wife. With the exception of her dowry,
which passed into the hands of her husband, she held her property in her
own right; she inherited her share of the wealth of her father, and she
retained it altogether independently of her husband. A very considerable
portion of Roman wealth thus passed into the uncontrolled possession of
women. The private man of business of the wife was a favourite character
with the comedians, and the tyranny exercised by rich wives over their
husbands—to whom it is said they sometimes lent money at high interest—a
continual theme of satirists.(611)

A complete revolution had thus passed over the constitution of the family.
Instead of being constructed on the principle of autocracy, it was
constructed on the principle of coequal partnership. The legal position of
the wife had become one of complete independence, while her social
position was one of great dignity. The more conservative spirits were
naturally alarmed at the change, and two measures were taken to arrest it.
The Oppian law was designed to restrain the luxury of women; but, in spite
of the strenuous exertions of Cato, this law was speedily repealed.(612) A
more important measure was the Voconian law, which restricted within very
narrow limits the property which women might inherit; but public opinion
never fully acquiesced in it, and by several legal subterfuges its
operation was partially evaded.(613)

Another and a still more important consequence resulted from the changed
form of marriage. Being looked upon merely as a civil contract, entered
into for the happiness of the contracting parties, its continuance
depended upon mutual consent. Either party might dissolve it at will, and
the dissolution gave both parties a right to remarry. There can be no
question that under this system the obligations of marriage were treated
with extreme levity. We find Cicero repudiating his wife Terentia, because
he desired a new dowry;(614) Augustus compelling the husband of Livia to
repudiate her when she was already pregnant, that he might marry her
himself;(615) Cato ceding his wife, with the consent of her father, to his
friend Hortensius, and resuming her after his death;(616) Mæcenas
continually changing his wife;(617) Sempronius Sophus repudiating his
wife, because she had once been to the public games without his
knowledge;(618) Paulus Æmilius taking the same step without assigning any
reason, and defending himself by saying, “My shoes are new and well made,
but no one knows where they pinch me.”(619) Nor did women show less
alacrity in repudiating their husbands. Seneca denounced this evil with
especial vehemence, declaring that divorce in Rome no longer brought with
it any shame, and that there were women who reckoned their years rather by
their husbands than by the consuls.(620) Christians and Pagans echoed the
same complaint. According to Tertullian, “divorce is the fruit of
marriage.”(621) Martial speaks of a woman who had already arrived at her
tenth husband;(622) Juvenal, of a woman having eight husbands in five
years.(623) But the most extraordinary recorded instance of this kind is
related by St. Jerome, who assures us that there existed at Rome a wife
who was married to her twenty-third husband, she herself being his
twenty-first wife.(624)

These are, no doubt, extreme cases; but it is unquestionable that the
stability of married life was very seriously impaired. It would be easy,
however, to exaggerate the influence of legal changes in affecting it. In
a purer state of public opinion a very wide latitude of divorce might
probably have been allowed to both parties, without any serious
consequence. The right of repudiation, which the husband had always
possessed, was, as we have seen, in the Republic never or very rarely
exercised. Of those who scandalised good men by the rapid recurrence of
their marriages, probably most, if marriage had been indissoluble, would
have refrained from entering into it, and would have contented themselves
with many informal connections, or, if they had married, would have
gratified their love of change by simple adultery. A vast wave of
corruption had flowed in upon Rome, and under any system of law it would
have penetrated into domestic life. Laws prohibiting all divorce have
never secured the purity of married life in ages of great corruption, nor
did the latitude which was accorded in imperial Rome prevent the existence
of a very large amount of female virtue.

I have observed, in a former chapter, that the moral contrasts shown in
ancient life surpass those of modern societies, in which we very rarely
find clusters of heroic or illustrious men arising in nations that are in
general very ignorant or very corrupt. I have endeavoured to account for
this fact by showing that the moral agencies of antiquity were in general
much more fitted to develop virtue than to repress vice, and that they
raised noble natures to almost the highest conceivable point of
excellence, while they entirely failed to coerce or to attenuate the
corruption of the depraved. In the female life of Imperial Rome we find
these contrasts vividly displayed. There can be no question that the moral
tone of the sex was extremely low—lower, probably, than in France under
the Regency, or in England under the Restoration—and it is also certain
that frightful excesses of unnatural passion, of which the most corrupt of
modern courts present no parallel, were perpetrated with but little
concealment on the Palatine. Yet there is probably no period in which
examples of conjugal heroism and fidelity appear more frequently than in
this very age, in which marriage was most free and in which corruption was
so general. Much simplicity of manners continued to co-exist with the
excesses of an almost unbridled luxury. Augustus, we are told, used to
make his daughters and granddaughters weave and spin, and his wife and
sister made most of the clothes he wore.(625) The skill of wives in
domestic economy, and especially in spinning, was frequently noticed in
their epitaphs.(626) Intellectual culture was much diffused among
them,(627) and we meet with several noble specimens, in the sex, of large
and accomplished minds united with all the gracefulness of intense
womanhood, and all the fidelity of the truest love. Such were Cornelia,
the brilliant and devoted wife of Pompey,(628) Marcia, the friend, and
Helvia, the mother of Seneca. The Northern Italian cities had in a great
degree escaped the contamination of the times, and Padua and Brescia were
especially noted for the virtue of their women.(629) In an age of
extravagant sensuality a noble lady, named Mallonia, plunged her dagger in
her heart rather than yield to the embraces of Tiberius.(630) To the
period when the legal bond of marriage was most relaxed must be assigned
most of those noble examples of the constancy of Roman wives, which have
been for so many generations household tales among mankind. Who has not
read with emotion of the tenderness and heroism of Porcia, claiming her
right to share in the trouble which clouded her husband’s brow; how,
doubting her own courage, she did not venture to ask Brutus to reveal to
her his enterprise till she had secretly tried her power of endurance by
piercing her thigh with a knife; how once, and but once in his presence,
her noble spirit failed, when, as she was about to separate from him for
the last time, her eye chanced to fall upon a picture of the parting
interview of Hector and Andromache?(631) Paulina, the wife of Seneca,
opened her own veins in order to accompany her husband to the grave; when
much blood had already flowed, her slaves and freedmen bound her wounds,
and thus compelled her to live; but the Romans ever after observed with
reverence the sacred pallor of her countenance—the memorial of her
act.(632) When Pætus was condemned to die by his own hand, those who knew
the love which his wife Arria bore him, and the heroic fervour of her
character, predicted that she would not long survive him. Thrasea, who had
married her daughter, endeavoured to dissuade her from suicide by saying,
“If I am ever called upon to perish, would you wish your daughter to die
with me?” She answered, “Yes, if she will have then lived with you as long
and as happily as I with Pætus.” Her friends attempted, by carefully
watching her, to secure her safety, but she dashed her head against the
wall with such force that she fell upon the ground, and then, rising up,
she said, “I told you I would find a hard way to death if you refuse me an
easy way.” All attempts to restrain her were then abandoned, and her death
was perhaps the most majestic in antiquity. Pætus for a moment hesitated
to strike the fatal blow; but his wife, taking the dagger, plunged it
deeply into her own breast, and then, drawing it out, gave it, all reeking
as it was, to her husband, exclaiming, with her dying breath, “My Pætus,
it does not pain.”(633)

The form of the elder Arria towers grandly above her fellows, but many
other Roman wives in the days of the early Cæsars and of Domitian
exhibited a very similar fidelity. Over the dark waters of the Euxine,
into those unknown and inhospitable regions from which the Roman
imagination recoiled with a peculiar horror, many noble ladies freely
followed their husbands, and there were some wives who refused to survive
them.(634) The younger Arria was the faithful companion of Thrasea during
his heroic life, and when he died she was only persuaded to live that she
might bring up their daughters.(635) She spent the closing days of her
life with Domitian in exile;(636) while her daughter, who was as
remarkable for the gentleness as for the dignity of her character,(637)
went twice into exile with her husband Helvidius, and was once banished,
after his death, for defending his memory.(638) Incidental notices in
historians, and a few inscriptions which have happened to remain, show us
that such instances were not uncommon, and in Roman epitaphs no feature is
more remarkable than the deep and passionate expressions of conjugal love
that continually occur.(639) It would be difficult to find a more touching
image of that love, than the medallion which is so common on the Roman
sarcophagi, in which husband and wife are represented together, each with
an arm thrown fondly over the shoulder of the other, united in death as
they had been in life, and meeting it with an aspect of perfect calm,
because they were companions in the tomb.

In the latter days of the Pagan Empire some measures were taken to repress
the profligacy that was so prevalent. Domitian enforced the old Scantinian
law against unnatural love.(640) Vespasian moderated the luxury of the
court; Macrinus caused those who had committed adultery to be bound
together and burnt alive.(641) A practice of men and women bathing
together was condemned by Hadrian, and afterwards by Alexander Severus,
but was only finally suppressed by Constantine. Alexander Severus and
Philip waged an energetic war against panders.(642) The extreme excesses
of this, as of most forms of vice, were probably much diminished after the
accession of the Antonines; but Rome continued to be a centre of very
great corruption till the influence of Christianity, the removal of the
court to Constantinople, and the impoverishment that followed the
barbarian conquests, in a measure corrected the evil.

Among the moralists, however, some important steps were taken. One of the
most important was a very clear assertion of the reciprocity of that
obligation to fidelity in marriage which in the early stages of society
had been imposed almost exclusively upon wives.(643) The legends of
Clytemnestra and of Medea reveal the feelings of fierce resentment which
were sometimes produced among Greek wives by the almost unlimited
indulgence that was accorded to their husbands;(644) and it is told of
Andromache, as the supreme instance of her love of Hector, that she cared
for his illegitimate children as much as for her own.(645) In early Rome,
the obligations of husbands were never, I imagine, altogether unfelt; but
they were rarely or never enforced, nor were they ever regarded as bearing
any kind of equality to those imposed upon the wife. The term adultery,
and all the legal penalties connected with it, were restricted to the
infractions by a wife of the nuptial tie. Among the many instances of
magnanimity recorded of Roman wives, few are more touching than that of
Tertia Æmilia, the faithful wife of Scipio. She discovered that her
husband had become enamoured of one of her slaves; but she bore her pain
in silence, and when he died she gave liberty to her captive, for she
could not bear that she should remain in servitude whom her dear lord had

Aristotle had clearly asserted the duty of husbands to observe in marriage
the same fidelity as they expected from their wives,(647) and at a later
period both Plutarch and Seneca enforced this duty in the strongest and
most unequivocal manner.(648) The degree to which, in theory at least, it
won its way in Roman life is shown by its recognition as a legal maxim by
Ulpian,(649) and by its appearance in a formal judgment of Antoninus Pius,
who, while issuing, at the request of a husband, a condemnation for
adultery against a guilty wife, appended to it this remarkable condition:
“Provided always it is established that by your life you gave her an
example of fidelity. It would be unjust that a husband should exact a
fidelity he does not himself keep.”(650)

Another change, which may be dimly descried in the later Pagan society,
was a tendency to regard purity rather in a mystical point of view, as
essentially good, than in the utilitarian point of view. This change
resulted chiefly from the rise of the Neoplatonic and Pythagorean
philosophies, which concurred in regarding the body, with its passions, as
essentially evil, and in representing all virtue as a purification from
its taint. Its most important consequence was a somewhat stricter view of
pre-nuptial unchastity, which in the case of men, and when it was not
excessive, and did not take the form of adultery, had previously been
uncensured, or was looked upon with a disapprobation so slight as scarcely
to amount to censure. The elder Cato had expressly justified it;(651) and
Cicero has left us an extremely curious judgment on the subject, which
shows at a glance the feelings of the people, and the vast revolution
that, under the influence of Christianity, has been effected in, at least,
the professions of mankind. “If there be any one,” he says, “who thinks
that young men should be altogether restrained from the love of
courtesans, he is indeed very severe. I am not prepared to deny his
position; but he differs not only from the licence of our age, but also
from the customs and allowances of our ancestors. When, indeed, was this
not done? When was it blamed? When was it not allowed? When was that which
is now lawful not lawful?”(652) Epictetus, who on most subjects was among
the most austere of the Stoics, recommends his disciples to abstain, “as
far as possible,” from pre-nuptial connections, and at least from those
which were adulterous and unlawful, but not to blame those who were less
strict.(653) The feeling of the Romans is curiously exemplified in the
life of Alexander Severus, who, of all the emperors, was probably the most
energetic in legislating against vice. When appointing a provincial
governor, he was accustomed to provide him with horses and servants, and,
if he was unmarried, with a concubine, “because,” as the historian very
gravely observes, “it was impossible that he could exist without

What was written among the Pagans in opposition to these views was not
much, but it is worthy of notice, as illustrating the tendency that had
arisen. Musonius Rufus distinctly and emphatically asserted that no union
of the sexes other than marriage was permissible.(655) Dion Chrysostom
desired prostitution to be suppressed by law. The ascetic notion of the
impurity even of marriage may be faintly traced. Apollonius of Tyana
lived, on this ground, a life of celibacy.(656) Zenobia refused to cohabit
with her husband, except so far as was necessary for the production of an
heir.(657) Hypatia is said, like many Christian saints, to have maintained
the position of a virgin wife.(658) The belief in the impurity of all
corporeal things, and in the duty of rising above them, was in the third
century strenuously enforced.(659) Marcus Aurelius and Julian were both
admirable representatives of the best Pagan spirit of their time. Each of
them lost his wife early, each was eulogised by his biographer for the
virtue he manifested after her death; but there is a curious and
characteristic difference in the forms which that virtue assumed. Marcus
Aurelius, we are told, did not wish to bring into his house a stepmother
to rule over his children, and accordingly took a concubine.(660) Julian
ever after lived in perfect continence.(661)

The foregoing facts, which I have given in the most condensed form, and
almost unaccompanied by criticism or by comment, will be sufficient, I
hope, to exhibit the state of feeling of the Romans on this subject, and
also the direction in which that feeling was being modified. Those who are
familiar with this order of studies will readily understand that it is
impossible to mark out with precision the chronology of a moral sentiment;
but there can be no question that in the latter days of the Roman Empire
the perceptions of men on this subject became more subtle and more refined
than they had previously been, and it is equally certain that the Oriental
philosophies which had superseded Stoicism largely influenced the change.
Christianity soon constituted itself the representative of the new
tendency. It regarded purity as the most important of all virtues, and it
strained to the utmost all the vast agencies it possessed, to enforce it.
In the legislation of the first Christian emperors we find many traces of
a fiery zeal. Panders were condemned to have molten lead poured down their
throats. In the case of rape, not only the ravisher, but even the injured
person, if she consented to the act, was put to death.(662) A great
service was done to the cause both of purity and of philanthropy, by a law
which permitted actresses, on receiving baptism, to abandon their
profession, which had been made a form of slavery, and was virtually a
slavery to vice.(663) Certain musical girls, who were accustomed to sing
or play at the banquets of the rich, and who were regarded with extreme
horror by the Fathers, were suppressed, and a very stringent law forbade
the revival of the class.(664)

Side by side with the civil legislation, the penitential legislation of
the Church was exerted in the same direction. Sins of unchastity probably
occupy a larger place than any others in its enactments. The cases of
unnatural love, and of mothers who had made their daughters courtesans,
were punished by perpetual exclusion from communion, and a crowd of minor
offences were severely visited. The ascetic passion increased the
prominence of this branch of ethics, and the imaginations of men were soon
fascinated by the pure and noble figures of the virgin martyrs of the
Church, who on more than one occasion fully equalled the courage of men,
while they sometimes mingled with their heroism traits of the most
exquisite feminine gentleness. For the patient endurance of excruciating
physical suffering, Christianity produced no more sublime figure than
Blandina, the poor servant-girl who was martyred at Lyons; and it would be
difficult to find in all history a more touching picture of natural purity
than is contained in one simple incident of the martyrdom of St. Perpetua.
It is related of that saint that she was condemned to be slaughtered by a
wild bull, and, as she fell half dead from its horns upon the sand of the
arena, it was observed that even in that awful moment her virgin modesty
was supreme, and her first instinctive movement was to draw together her
dress, which had been torn in the assault.(665)

A crowd of very curious popular legends also arose, which, though they are
for the most part without much intrinsic excellence, have their importance
in history, as showing the force with which the imaginations of men were
turned in this direction, and the manner in which Christianity was
regarded as the great enemy of the passions of the flesh. Thus, St. Jerome
relates an incredible story of a young Christian, being, in the Diocletian
persecution, bound with ribands of silk in the midst of a lovely garden,
surrounded by everything that could charm the ear and the eye, while a
beautiful courtesan assailed him with her blandishments, against which he
protected himself by biting out his tongue and spitting it in her
face.(666) Legends are recounted of young Christian men assuming the garb
and manners of libertines, that they might obtain access to maidens who
had been condemned to vice, exchanging dresses with them, and thus
enabling them to escape.(667) St. Agnes was said to have been stripped
naked before the people, who all turned away their eyes except one young
man, who instantly became blind.(668) The sister of St. Gregory of Nyssa
was afflicted with a cancer in her breast, but could not bear that a
surgeon should see it, and was rewarded for her modesty by a miraculous
cure.(669) To the fabled zone of beauty the Christian saints opposed their
zones of chastity, which extinguished the passion of the wearer, or would
only meet around the pure.(670) Dæmons were said not unfrequently to have
entered into the profligate. The garment of a girl who was possessed was
brought to St. Pachomius, and he discovered from it that she had a
lover.(671) A courtesan accused St. Gregory Thaumaturgus of having been
her lover, and having refused to pay her what he had promised. He paid the
required sum, but she was immediately possessed by a daemon.(672) The
efforts of the saints to reclaim courtesans from the path of vice created
a large class of legends. St. Mary Magdalene, St. Mary of Egypt, St. Afra,
St. Pelagia, St. Thais, and St. Theodota, in the early Church, as well as
St. Marguerite of Cortona, and Clara of Rimini, in the middle ages, had
been courtesans.(673) St. Vitalius, it is said, was accustomed every night
to visit the dens of vice in his neighbourhood, to give the inmates money
to remain without sin for that night, and to offer up prayers for their
conversion.(674) It is related of St. Serapion, that, as he was passing
through a village in Egypt, a courtesan beckoned to him. He promised at a
certain hour to visit her. He kept his appointment, but declared that
there was a duty which his order imposed on him. He fell down on his knees
and began repeating the Psalter, concluding every psalm with a prayer for
his hostess. The strangeness of the scene, and the solemnity of his tone
and manner, overawed and fascinated her. Gradually her tears began to
flow. She knelt beside him and began to join in his prayers. He heeded her
not, but hour after hour continued in the same stern and solemn voice,
without rest and without interruption, to repeat his alternate prayers and
psalms, till her repentance rose to a paroxysm of terror, and, as the grey
morning streaks began to illumine the horizon, she fell half dead at his
feet, imploring him with broken sobs to lead her anywhere where she might
expiate the sins of her past.(675)

But the services rendered by the ascetics in imprinting on the minds of
men a profound and enduring conviction of the importance of chastity,
though extremely great, were seriously counterbalanced by their noxious
influence upon marriage. Two or three beautiful descriptions of this
institution have been culled out of the immense mass of the patristic
writings;(676) but, in general, it would be difficult to conceive anything
more coarse or more repulsive than the manner in which they regarded
it.(677) The relation which nature has designed for the noble purpose of
repairing the ravages of death, and which, as Linnæus has shown, extends
even through the world of flowers, was invariably treated as a consequence
of the fall of Adam, and marriage was regarded almost exclusively in its
lowest aspect. The tender love which it elicits, the holy and beautiful
domestic qualities that follow in its train, were almost absolutely
omitted from consideration.(678) The object of the ascetic was to attract
men to a life of virginity, and, as a necessary consequence, marriage was
treated as an inferior state. It was regarded as being necessary, indeed,
and therefore justifiable, for the propagation of the species, and to free
men from greater evils; but still as a condition of degradation from which
all who aspired to real sanctity should fly. To “cut down by the axe of
Virginity the wood of Marriage,” was, in the energetic language of St.
Jerome, the end of the saint;(679) and if he consented to praise marriage,
it was merely because it produced virgins.(680) Even when the bond had
been formed, the ascetic passion retained its sting. We have already seen
how it embittered other relations of domestic life. Into this, the holiest
of all, it infused a tenfold bitterness. Whenever any strong religious
fervour fell upon a husband or a wife, its first effect was to make a
happy union impossible. The more religious partner immediately desired to
live a life of solitary asceticism, or at least, if no ostensible
separation took place, an unnatural life of separation in marriage. The
immense place this order of ideas occupies in the hortatory writings of
the Fathers, and in the legends of the saints, must be familiar to all who
have any knowledge of this department of literature. Thus—to give but a
very few examples—St. Nilus, when he had already two children, was seized
with a longing for the prevailing asceticism, and his wife was persuaded,
after many tears, to consent to their separation.(681) St. Ammon, on the
night of his marriage, proceeded to greet his bride with an harangue upon
the evils of the married state, and they agreed, in consequence, at once
to separate.(682) St. Melania laboured long and earnestly to induce her
husband to allow her to desert his bed, before he would consent.(683) St.
Abraham ran away from his wife on the night of his marriage.(684) St.
Alexis, according to a somewhat later legend, took the same step, but many
years after returned from Jerusalem to his father’s house, in which his
wife was still lamenting her desertion, begged and received a lodging as
an act of charity, and lived there unrecognised and unknown till his
death.(685) St. Gregory of Nyssa—who was so unfortunate as to be
married—wrote a glowing eulogy of virginity, in the course of which he
mournfully observed that this privileged state could never be his. He
resembled, he assures us, an ox that was ploughing a field, the fruit of
which he must never enjoy; or a thirsty man, who was gazing on a stream of
which he never can drink; or a poor man, whose poverty seems the more
bitter as he contemplates the wealth of his neighbours; and he proceeded
to descant in feeling terms upon the troubles of matrimony.(686) Nominal
marriages, in which the partners agreed to shun the marriage bed, became
not uncommon. The emperor Henry II., Edward the Confessor, of England, and
Alphonso II., of Spain, gave examples of it. A very famous and rather
picturesque history of this kind is related by Gregory of Tours. A rich
young Gaul, named Injuriosus, led to his home a young bride to whom he was
passionately attached. That night, she confessed to him, with tears, that
she had vowed to keep her virginity, and that she regretted bitterly the
marriage into which her love for him had betrayed her. He told her that
they should remain united, but that she should still observe her vow; and
he fulfilled his promise. When, after several years, she died, her
husband, in laying her in the tomb, declared, with great solemnity, that
he restored her to God as immaculate as he had received her; and then a
smile lit up the face of the dead woman, and she said, “Why do you tell
that which no one asked you?” The husband soon afterwards died, and his
corpse, which had been laid in a distinct compartment from that of his
wife in the tomb, was placed side by side with it by the angels.(687)

The extreme disorders which such teaching produced in domestic life, and
also the extravagances which grew up among some heretics, naturally
alarmed the more judicious leaders of the Church, and it was ordained that
married persons should not enter into an ascetic life, except by mutual
consent.(688) The ascetic ideal, however, remained unchanged. To abstain
from marriage, or in marriage to abstain from a perfect union, was
regarded as a proof of sanctity, and marriage was viewed in its coarsest
and most degraded form. The notion of its impurity took many forms, and
exercised for some centuries an extremely wide influence over the Church.
Thus, it was the custom during the middle ages to abstain from the
marriage bed during the night after the ceremony, in honour of the
sacrament.(689) It was expressly enjoined that no married persons should
participate in any of the great Church festivals if the night before they
had lain together, and St. Gregory the Great tells of a young wife who was
possessed by a dæmon, because she had taken part in a procession of St.
Sebastian, without fulfilling this condition.(690) The extent to which the
feeling on the subject was carried is shown by the famous vision of
Alberic in the twelfth century, in which a special place of torture,
consisting of a lake of mingled lead, pitch, and resin is represented as
existing in hell for the punishment of married people who had lain
together on Church festivals or fast days.(691)

Two other consequences of this way of regarding marriage were a very
strong disapproval of second marriages, and a very strong desire to secure
celibacy in the clergy. The first of these notions had existed, though in
a very different form, and connected with very different motives, among
the early Romans, who were accustomed, we are told, to honour with the
crown of modesty those who were content with one marriage, and to regard
many marriages as a sign of illegitimate intemperance.(692) This opinion
appears to have chiefly grown out of a very delicate and touching feeling
which had taken deep root in the Roman mind, that the affection a wife
owes her husband is so profound and so pure that it must not cease even
with his death; that it should guide and consecrate all her subsequent
life, and that it never can be transferred to another object. Virgil, in
very beautiful lines, puts this sentiment into the mouth of Dido;(693) and
several examples are recorded of Roman wives, sometimes in the prime of
youth and beauty, upon the death of their husbands, devoting the remainder
of their lives to retirement and to the memory of the dead.(694) Tacitus
held up the Germans as in this respect a model to his countrymen,(695) and
the epithet “univiræ” inscribed on many Roman tombs shows how this
devotion was practised and valued.(696) The family of Camillus was
especially honoured for the absence of second marriages among its
members.(697) “To love a wife when living,” said one of the latest Roman
poets, “is a pleasure; to love her when dead is an act of religion.”(698)
In the case of men, the propriety of abstaining from second marriages was
probably not felt so strongly as in the case of women, and what feeling on
the subject existed was chiefly due to another motive—affection for the
children, whose interests, it was thought, might be injured by a

The sentiment which thus recoiled from second marriages passed with a
vastly increased strength into ascetic Christianity, but it was based upon
altogether different grounds. We find, in the first place, that an
affectionate remembrance of the husband had altogether vanished from the
motives of the abstinence. In the next place, we may remark that the
ecclesiastical writers, in perfect conformity with the extreme coarseness
of their views about the sexes, almost invariably assumed that the motive
to second or third marriages must be simply the force of the animal
passions. The Montanists and the Novatians absolutely condemned second
marriages.(700) The orthodox pronounced them lawful, on account of the
weakness of human nature, but they viewed them with the most emphatic
disapproval,(701) partly because they considered them manifest signs of
incontinence, and partly because they regarded them as inconsistent with
their doctrine that marriage is an emblem of the union of Christ with the
Church. The language of the Fathers on this subject appears to a modern
mind most extraordinary, and, but for their distinct and reiterated
assertion that they considered these marriages permissible,(702) would
appear to amount to a peremptory condemnation. Thus—to give but a few
samples—digamy, or second marriage, is described by Athenagoras as “a
decent adultery.”(703) “Fornication,” according to Clement of Alexandria,
“is a lapse from one marriage into many.”(704) “The first Adam,” said St.
Jerome, “had one wife; the second Adam had no wife. They who approve of
digamy hold forth a third Adam, who was twice married, whom they
follow.”(705) “Consider,” he again says, “that she who has been twice
married, though she be an old, and decrepit, and poor woman, is not deemed
worthy to receive the charity of the Church. But if the bread of charity
is taken from her, how much more that bread which descends from
heaven!”(706) “Digamists,” according to Origen, “are saved in the name of
Christ, but are by no means crowned by him.”(707) “By this text,” said St.
Gregory Nazianzen, speaking of St. Paul’s comparison of marriage to the
union of Christ with the Church, “second marriages seem to me to be
reproved. If there are two Christs there may be two husbands or two wives.
If there is but one Christ, one Head of the Church, there is but one
flesh—a second is repelled. But if he forbids a second, what is to be said
of third marriages? The first is law, the second is pardon and indulgence,
the third is iniquity; but he who exceeds this number is manifestly
bestial.”(708) Digamists were excluded from the priesthood and from the
distributions of Church charity; a period of penance was imposed on them
before they were admitted to communion,(709) and two English statutes of
the Middle Ages withheld the benefit of clergy from any prisoner who had
“married two wives or one widow.”(710) The Council of Illiberis, in the
beginning of the fourth century, while in general condemning baptism by
laymen, permitted it in case of extreme necessity; but provided that even
in that case the officiating layman must not have been twice married.(711)
Among the Greeks fourth marriages were at one time deemed absolutely
unlawful, and much controversy was excited by the Emperor Leo the Wise,
who, having had three wives, had taken a mistress, but afterwards, in
defiance of the religious feelings of his people, determined to raise her
to the position of a wife.(712)

The subject of the celibacy of the clergy, in which the ecclesiastical
feelings about marriage were also shown, is an extremely large one, and I
shall not attempt to deal with it, except in a most cursory manner.(713)
There are two facts connected with it which every candid student must
admit. The first is, that in the earliest period of the Church, the
privilege of marriage was accorded to the clergy. The second is, that a
notion of the impurity of marriage existed, and that it was felt that the
clergy, as pre-eminently the holy class, should have less licence than
laymen. The first form this feeling took appears in the strong conviction
that a second marriage of a priest, or the marriage of a priest with a
widow, was unlawful and criminal.(714) This belief seems to have existed
from the earliest period of the Church, and was retained with great
tenacity and unanimity through many centuries. In the next place, we find
from an extremely early date an opinion, that it was an act of virtue, at
a later period that it was an act of duty, for priests after ordination to
abstain from cohabiting with their wives. The Council of Nice refrained,
by the advice of Paphnutius, who was himself a scrupulous celibate, from
imposing this last rule as a matter of necessity;(715) but in the course
of the fourth century it was a recognised principle that clerical
marriages were criminal. They were celebrated, however, habitually, and
usually with the greatest openness. The various attitudes assumed by the
ecclesiastical authorities in dealing with this subject form an extremely
curious page of the history of morals, and supply the most crushing
evidence of the evils which have been produced by the system of celibacy.
I can at present, however, only refer to the vast mass of evidence which
has been collected on the subject, derived from the writings of Catholic
divines and from the decrees of Catholic Councils during the space of many
centuries. It is a popular illusion, which is especially common among
writers who have little direct knowledge of the middle ages, that the
atrocious immorality of monasteries, in the century before the
Reformation, was a new fact, and that the ages when the faith of men was
undisturbed, were ages of great moral purity. In fact, it appears, from
the uniform testimony of the ecclesiastical writers, that ecclesiastical
immorality in the eighth and three following centuries was little if at
all less outrageous than in any other period, while the Papacy, during
almost the whole of the tenth century, was held by men of infamous lives.
Simony was nearly universal.(716) Barbarian chieftains married at an early
age, and totally incapable of restraint, occupied the leading positions in
the Church, and gross irregularities speedily became general. An Italian
bishop of the tenth century epigrammatically described the morals of his
time, when he declared, that if he were to enforce the canons against
unchaste people administering ecclesiastical rites, no one would be left
in the Church except the boys; and if he were to observe the canons
against bastards, these also must be excluded.(717) The evil acquired such
magnitude that a great feudal clergy, bequeathing the ecclesiastical
benefices from father to son, appeared more than once likely to
arise.(718) A tax called “Culagium,” which was in fact a licence to
clergymen to keep concubines, was during several centuries systematically
levied by princes.(719) Sometimes the evil, by its very extension,
corrected itself. Priestly marriages were looked upon as normal events not
implying any guilt, and in the eleventh century several instances are
recorded in which they were not regarded as any impediment to the power of
working miracles.(720) But this was a rare exception. From the earliest
period a long succession of Councils as well as such men as St. Boniface,
St. Gregory the Great, St. Peter Damiani, St. Dunstan, St. Anselm,
Hildebrand and his successors in the Popedom, denounced priestly marriage
or concubinage as an atrocious crime, and the habitual life of the priests
was, in theory at least, generally recognised as a life of sin.

It is not surprising that, having once broken their vows and begun to live
what they deemed a life of habitual sin, the clergy should soon have sunk
far below the level of the laity. We may not lay much stress on such
isolated instances of depravity as that of Pope John XXIII., who was
condemned among many other crimes for incest, and for adultery;(721) or
the abbot-elect of St. Augustine, at Canterbury, who in 1171 was found, on
investigation, to have seventeen illegitimate children in a single
village;(722) or an abbot of St. Pelayo, in Spain, who in 1130 was proved
to have kept no less than seventy concubines;(723) or Henry III., Bishop
of Liège, who was deposed in 1274 for having sixty-five illegitimate
children;(724) but it is impossible to resist the evidence of a long chain
of Councils and ecclesiastical writers, who conspire in depicting far
greater evils than simple concubinage. It was observed that when the
priests actually took wives the knowledge that these connections were
illegal was peculiarly fatal to their fidelity, and bigamy and extreme
mobility of attachments were especially common among them. The writers of
the middle ages are full of accounts of nunneries that were like brothels,
of the vast multitude of infanticides within their walls, and of that
inveterate prevalence of incest among the clergy, which rendered it
necessary again and again to issue the most stringent enactments that
priests should not be permitted to live with their mothers or sisters.
Unnatural love, which it had been one of the great services of
Christianity almost to eradicate from the world, is more than once spoken
of as lingering in the monasteries; and, shortly before the Reformation,
complaints became loud and frequent of the employment of the confessional
for the purposes of debauchery.(725) The measures taken on the subject
were very numerous and severe. At first, the evil chiefly complained of
was the clandestine marriage of priests, and especially their intercourse
with wives whom they had married previous to their ordination. Several
Councils issued their anathemas against priests “who had improper
relations with their wives;” and rules were made that priests should
always sleep in the presence of a subordinate clerk; and that they should
only meet their wives in the open air and before at least two witnesses.
Men were, however, by no means unanimous in their way of regarding this
matter. Synesius, when elected to a bishopric, at first declined, boldly
alleging as one of his reasons, that he had a wife whom he loved dearly,
and who, he hoped, would bear him many sons, and that he did not mean to
separate from her or visit her secretly as an adulterer.(726) A Bishop of
Laon, at a later date, who was married to a niece of St. Rémy, and who
remained with his wife till after he had a son and a daughter, quaintly
expressed his penitence by naming them respectively Latro and
Vulpecula.(727) St. Gregory the Great describes the virtue of a priest,
who, through motives of piety, had discarded his wife. As he lay dying,
she hastened to him to watch the bed which for forty years she had not
been allowed to share, and, bending over what seemed the inanimate form of
her husband, she tried to ascertain whether any breath still remained,
when the dying saint, collecting his last energies, exclaimed, “Woman,
begone; take away the straw; there is fire yet.”(728) The destruction of
priestly marriage is chiefly due to Hildebrand, who pursued this object
with the most untiring resolution. Finding that his appeals to the
ecclesiastical authorities and to the civil rulers were insufficient, he
boldly turned to the people, exhorted them, in defiance of all Church
traditions, to withdraw their obedience from married priests, and kindled
among them a fierce fanaticism of asceticism, which speedily produced a
fierce persecution of the offending pastors. Their wives, in immense
numbers, were driven forth with hatred and with scorn; and many crimes,
and much intolerable suffering, followed the disruption. The priests
sometimes strenuously resisted. At Cambrai, in A.D. 1077, they burnt alive
as a heretic a zealot who was maintaining the doctrines of Hildebrand. In
England, half a century later, they succeeded in surprising a Papal legate
in the arms of a courtesan, a few hours after he had delivered a fierce
denunciation of clerical unchastity.(729) But Papal resolution supported
by popular fanaticism won the victory. Pope Urban II. gave licence to the
nobles to reduce to slavery the wives whom priests had obstinately refused
to abandon, and after a few more acts of severity priestly marriage became
obsolete. The extent, however, of the disorders that still existed, is
shown by the mournful confessions of ecclesiastical writers, by the
uniform and indignant testimony of the poets and prose satirists who
preceded the Reformation, by the atrocious immoralities disclosed in the
monasteries at the time of their suppression, and by the significant
prudence of many lay Catholics, who were accustomed to insist that their
priest should take a concubine for the protection of the families of his

It is scarcely possible to conceive a more demoralising influence than a
priesthood living such a life as I have described. In Protestant
countries, where the marriage of the clergy is fully recognised, it has,
indeed, been productive of the greatest and the most unequivocal benefits.
Nowhere, it may be confidently asserted, does Christianity assume a more
beneficial or a more winning form than in those gentle clerical households
which stud our land, constituting, as Coleridge said, “the one idyll of
modern life,” the most perfect type of domestic peace, the centre of
civilisation in the remotest village. Notwithstanding some class
narrowness and professional bigotry, notwithstanding some unworthy, but
half unconscious mannerism, which is often most unjustly stigmatised as
hypocrisy, it would be difficult to find in any other quarter so much
happiness at once diffused and enjoyed, or so much virtue attained with so
little tension or struggle. Combining with his sacred calling a warm
sympathy with the intellectual, social, and political movements of his
time, possessing the enlarged practical knowledge of a father of a family,
and entering with a keen zest into the occupations and the amusements of
his parishioners, a good clergyman will rarely obtrude his religious
convictions into secular spheres, but yet will make them apparent in all.
They will be revealed by a higher and deeper moral tone, by a more
scrupulous purity in word and action, by an all-pervasive gentleness,
which refines, and softens, and mellows, and adds as much to the charm as
to the excellence of the character in which it is displayed. In visiting
the sick, relieving the poor, instructing the young, and discharging a
thousand delicate offices for which a woman’s tact is especially needed,
his wife finds a sphere of labour which is at once intensely active and
intensely feminine, and her example is not less beneficial than her

Among the Catholic priesthood, on the other hand, where the vow of
celibacy is faithfully observed, a character of a different type is
formed, which with very grave and deadly faults combines some of the
noblest excellences to which humanity can attain. Separated from most of
the ties and affections of earth, viewing life chiefly through the
distorted medium of the casuist or the confessional, and deprived of those
relationships which more than any others soften and expand the character,
the Catholic priests have been but too often conspicuous for their fierce
and sanguinary fanaticism, and for their indifference to all interests
except those of their Church; while the narrow range of their sympathies,
and the intellectual servitude they have accepted, render them peculiarly
unfitted for the office of educating the young, which they so persistently
claim, and which, to the great misfortune of the world, they were long
permitted to monopolise. But, on the other hand, no other body of men have
ever exhibited a more single-minded and unworldly zeal, refracted by no
personal interests, sacrificing to duty the dearest of earthly objects,
and confronting with undaunted heroism every form of hardship, of
suffering, and of death.

That the middle ages, even in their darkest periods, produced many good
and great men of the latter type it would be unjust and absurd to deny. It
can hardly, however, be questioned that the extreme frequency of illicit
connections among the clergy tended during many centuries most actively to
lower the moral tone of the laity, and to counteract the great services in
the cause of purity which Christian teaching had undoubtedly effected. The
priestly connections were rarely so fully recognised as to enable the
mistress to fill a position like that which is now occupied by the wife of
a clergyman, and the spectacle of the chief teachers and exemplars of
morals living habitually in an intercourse which was acknowledged to be
ambiguous or wrong, must have acted most injuriously upon every class of
the community. Asceticism, proclaiming war upon human nature, produced a
revulsion towards its extreme opposite, and even when it was observed it
was frequently detrimental to purity of mind. The habit of continually
looking upon marriage in its coarsest light, and of regarding the
propagation of the species as its one legitimate end, exercised a
peculiarly perverting influence upon the imagination. The exuberant piety
of wives who desired to live apart from their husbands often drove the
latter into serious irregularities.(731) The notion of sin was introduced
into the dearest of relationships,(732) and the whole subject was
distorted and degraded. It is one of the great benefits of Protestantism
that it did much to banish these modes of thought and feeling from the
world, and to restore marriage to its simplicity and its dignity. We have
a gratifying illustration of the extent to which an old superstition has
declined, in the fact that when Goldsmith, in his great romance, desired
to depict the harmless eccentricities of his simple-minded and unworldly
vicar, he represented him as maintaining that opinion concerning the
sinfulness of the second marriage of a clergyman which was for many
centuries universal in the Church.

Another injurious consequence, resulting, in a great measure, from
asceticism, was a tendency to depreciate extremely the character and the
position of women. In this tendency we may detect in part the influence of
the earlier Jewish writings, in which an impartial observer may find
evident traces of the common Oriental depreciation of women. The custom of
purchase-money to the father of the bride was admitted. Polygamy was
authorised,(733) and practised by the wisest man on an enormous scale. A
woman was regarded as the origin of human ills. A period of purification
was appointed after the birth of every child; but, by a very significant
provision, it was twice as long in the case of a female as of a male
child.(734) “The badness of men,” a Jewish writer emphatically declared,
“is better than the goodness of women.”(735) The types of female
excellence exhibited in the early period of Jewish history are in general
of a low order, and certainly far inferior to those of Roman history or
Greek poetry; and the warmest eulogy of a woman in the Old Testament is
probably that which was bestowed upon her who, with circumstances of the
most aggravated treachery, had murdered the sleeping fugitive who had
taken refuge under her roof.

The combined influence of the Jewish writings, and of that ascetic feeling
which treated women as the chief source of temptation to man, was shown in
those fierce invectives, which form so conspicuous and so grotesque a
portion of the writings of the Fathers, and which contrast so curiously
with the adulation bestowed upon particular members of the sex. Woman was
represented as the door of hell, as the mother of all human ills. She
should be ashamed at the very thought that she is a woman. She should live
in continual penance, on account of the curses she has brought upon the
world. She should be ashamed of her dress, for it is the memorial of her
fall. She should be especially ashamed of her beauty, for it is the most
potent instrument of the dæmon. Physical beauty was indeed perpetually the
theme of ecclesiastical denunciations, though one singular exception seems
to have been made; for it has been observed that in the middle ages the
personal beauty of bishops was continually noticed upon their tombs.(736)
Women were even forbidden by a provincial Council, in the sixth century,
on account of their impurity, to receive the Eucharist into their naked
hands.(737) Their essentially subordinate position was continually

It is probable that this teaching had its part in determining the
principles of legislation concerning the sex. The Pagan laws during the
Empire had been continually repealing the old disabilities of women, and
the legislative movement in their favour continued with unabated force
from Constantine to Justinian, and appeared also in some of the early laws
of the barbarians.(738) But in the whole feudal legislation women were
placed in a much lower legal position than in the Pagan Empire.(739) In
addition to the personal restrictions which grew necessarily out of the
Catholic doctrines concerning divorce, and concerning the subordination of
the weaker sex, we find numerous and stringent enactments, which rendered
it impossible for women to succeed to any considerable amount of property,
and which almost reduced them to the alternative of marriage or a
nunnery.(740) The complete inferiority of the sex was continually
maintained by the law; and that generous public opinion which in Rome had
frequently revolted against the injustice done to girls, in depriving them
of the greater part of the inheritance of their fathers, totally
disappeared. Wherever the canon law has been the basis of legislation, we
find laws of succession sacrificing the interests of daughters and of
wives,(741) and a state of public opinion which has been formed and
regulated by these laws; nor was any serious attempt made to abolish them
till the close of the last century. The French revolutionists, though
rejecting the proposal of Siéyès and Condorcet to accord political
emancipation to women, established at least an equal succession of sons
and daughters, and thus initiated a great reformation of both law and
opinion, which sooner or later must traverse the world.

In their efforts to raise the standard of purity, the Christian teachers
derived much assistance from the incursions and the conquests of the
barbarians. The dissolution of vast retinues of slaves, the suspension of
most public games, and the general impoverishment that followed the
invasions, were all favourable to female virtue; and in this respect the
various tribes of barbarians, however violent and lawless, were far
superior to the more civilised community. Tacitus, in a very famous work,
had long before pourtrayed in the most flattering colours the purity of
the Germans. Adultery, he said, was very rare among them. The adulteress
was driven from the house with shaven hair, and beaten ignominiously
through the village. Neither youth, nor beauty, nor wealth could enable a
woman who was known to have sinned to secure a husband. Polygamy was
restricted to the princes, who looked upon a plurality of wives rather as
a badge of dignity than as a gratification of the passions. Mothers
invariably gave suck to their own children. Infanticide was forbidden.
Widows were not allowed to re-marry. The men feared captivity, much more
for their wives than for themselves; they believed that a sacred and
prophetic gift resided in women; they consulted them as oracles, and
followed their counsels.(742)

It is generally believed, and it is not improbable, that Tacitus in this
work intended to reprove the dissolute habits of his fellow-countrymen,
and considerably over-coloured the virtue of the barbarians. Of the
substantial justice, however, of his picture we have much evidence.
Salvian, who, about three centuries later, witnessed and described the
manners of the barbarians who had triumphed over the Empire, attested in
the strongest language the contrast which their chastity presented to the
vice of those whom they had subdued.(743) The Scandinavian mythology
abounds in legends exhibiting the clear sentiment of the heathen tribes on
the subject of purity, and the awful penalties threatened in the next
world against the seducers.(744) The barbarian women were accustomed to
practise medicine and to interpret dreams, and they also very frequently
accompanied their husbands to battle, rallied their broken forces, and
even themselves took part in the fight.(745) Augustus had discovered that
it was useless to keep barbarian chiefs as hostages, and that the one way
of securing the fidelity of traitors was by taking their wives, for these,
at least, were never sacrificed. Instances of female heroism are said to
have occurred in the conquered nations, which might rival the most
splendid in the Roman annals. When Marius had vanquished an army of the
Teutons, their wives besought the conqueror to permit them to become the
servants of the Vestal Virgins, in order that their honour, at least,
might be secure in slavery. Their request was refused, and that night they
all perished by their own hands.(746) A powerful noble once solicited the
hand of a Galatian lady named Camma, who, faithful to her husband,
resisted all his entreaties. Resolved at any hazard to succeed, he caused
her husband to be assassinated, and when she took refuge in the temple of
Diana, and enrolled herself among the priestesses, he sent noble after
noble to induce her to relent. After a time, he ventured himself into her
presence. She feigned a willingness to yield, but told him it was first
necessary to make a libation to the goddess. She appeared as a priestess
before the altar, bearing in her hand a cup of wine, which she had
poisoned. She drank half of it herself, handed the remainder to her guilty
lover, and when he had drained the cup to the dregs, burst into a fierce
thanksgiving, that she had been permitted to avenge, and was soon to
rejoin, her murdered husband.(747) Another and still more remarkable
instance of conjugal fidelity was furnished by a Gaulish woman named
Epponina. Her husband, Julius Sabinus, had rebelled against Vespasian; he
was conquered, and might easily have escaped to Germany, but could not
bear to abandon his young wife. He retired to a villa of his own,
concealed himself in subterranean cellars that were below it, and
instructed a freedman to spread the report that he had committed suicide,
while, to account for the disappearance of his body, he set fire to the
villa. Epponina, hearing of the suicide, for three days lay prostrate on
the ground without eating. At length the freedman came to her, and told
her that the suicide was feigned. She continued her lamentations by day,
but visited her husband by night. She became with child, but owing, it is
said, to an ointment, she succeeded in concealing her state from her
friends. When the hour of parturition was at hand, she went alone into the
cellar, and without any assistance or attendance was delivered of twins,
whom she brought up underground. For nine years she fulfilled her task,
when Sabinus was discovered, and, to the lasting disgrace of Vespasian,
was executed, in spite of the supplications of his wife, who made it her
last request that she might be permitted to die with him.(748)

The moral purity of the barbarians was of a kind altogether different from
that which the ascetic movement inculcated. It was concentrated
exclusively upon marriage. It showed itself in a noble conjugal fidelity;
but it was little fitted for a life of celibacy, and did not, as we have
seen, prevent excessive disorders among the priesthood. The practice of
polygamy among the barbarian kings was also for some centuries unchecked,
or at least unsuppressed, by Christianity. The kings Caribert and
Chilperic had both many wives at the same time.(749) Clotaire married the
sister of his first wife during the lifetime of the latter, who, on the
intention of the king being announced, is reported to have said, “Let my
lord do what seemeth good in his sight, only let thy servant live in thy
favour.”(750) Theodebert, whose general goodness of character is warmly
extolled by the episcopal historian, abandoned his first wife on account
of an atrocious crime which she had committed; took, during her lifetime,
another, to whom he had previously been betrothed; and upon the death of
this second wife, and while the first was still living, took a third,
whom, however, at a later period he murdered.(751) St. Columbanus was
expelled from Gaul chiefly on account of his denunciations of the polygamy
of King Thierry.(752) Dagobert had three wives, as well as a multitude of
concubines.(753) Charlemagne himself had at the same time two wives, and
he indulged largely in concubines.(754) After this period examples of this
nature became rare. The Popes and the bishops exercised a strict
supervision over domestic morals, and strenuously, and in most cases
successfully, opposed the attempts of kings and nobles to repudiate their

But, notwithstanding these startling facts, there can be no doubt that the
general purity of the barbarians was from the first superior to that of
the later Romans, and it appears in many of their laws. It has been very
happily observed,(755) that the high value placed on this virtue is well
illustrated by the fact that in the Salic code, while a charge of
cowardice falsely brought against a man was only punished by a fine of
three solidi, a charge of unchastity falsely brought against a woman was
punished by a fine of forty-five. The Teutonic sentiment was shown in a
very stern legislation against adultery and rape,(756) and curiously
minute precautions were sometimes taken to guard against them. A law of
the Spanish Visigoths prohibited surgeons from bleeding any free woman
except in the presence of her husband, of her nearest relative, or at
least of some properly appointed witness, and a Salic law imposed a fine
of fifteen pieces of gold upon any one who improperly pressed her

Under the influence of Christianity, assisted by the barbarians, a vast
change passed gradually over the world. The vice we are considering was
probably more rare; it certainly assumed less extravagant forms, and it
was screened from observation with a new modesty. The theory of morals had
become clearer, and the practice was somewhat improved. The extreme
grossness of literature had disappeared, and the more glaring violations
of marriage were always censured and often repressed. The penitential
discipline, and the exhortations of the pulpit, diffused abroad an
immeasurably higher sense of the importance of purity than Pagan antiquity
had known. St. Gregory the Great, following in the steps of some Pagan
philosophers,(758) strenuously urged upon mothers the duty of themselves
suckling their children; and many minute and stringent precepts were made
against extravagances of dress and manners. The religious institutions of
Greece and Asia Minor, which had almost consecrated prostitution, were for
ever abolished, and the courtesan sank into a lower stage of degradation.

Besides these changes, the duty of reciprocal fidelity in marriage was
enforced with a new earnestness. The contrast between the levity with
which the frailty of men has in most ages been regarded, and the extreme
severity with which women who have been guilty of the same offence have
generally been treated, forms one of the most singular anomalies in moral
history, and appears the more remarkable when we remember that the
temptation usually springs from the sex which is so readily pardoned; that
the sex which is visited with such crushing penalties is proverbially the
most weak; and that, in the case of women, but not in the case of men, the
vice is very commonly the result of the most abject misery and poverty.
For this disparity of censure several reasons have been assigned. The
offence can be more surely and easily detected, and therefore more
certainly punished, in the case of women than of men; and, as the duty of
providing for his children falls upon the father, the introduction into
the family of children who are not his own is a special injury to him,
while illegitimate children who do not spring from adultery will probably,
on account of their father having entered into no compact to support them,
ultimately become criminals or paupers, and therefore a burden to
society.(759) It may be added, I think, that several causes render the
observance of this virtue more difficult for one sex than for the other;
that its violation, when every allowance has been made for the moral
degradation which is a result of the existing condition of public opinion,
is naturally more profoundly prejudicial to the character of women than of
men; and also that much of our feeling on these subjects is due to laws
and moral systems which were formed by men, and were in the first instance
intended for their own protection.

The passages in the Fathers, asserting the equality of the obligation
imposed upon both sexes, are exceedingly unequivocal;(760) and although
the doctrine itself had been anticipated by Seneca and Plutarch, it had
probably never before, and it has never since, been so fully realised as
in the early Church. It cannot, however, be said that the conquest has
been retained. At the present day, although the standard of morals is far
higher than in Pagan Rome, it may be questioned whether the inequality of
the censure which is bestowed upon the two sexes is not as great as in the
days of Paganism, and that inequality is continually the cause of the most
shameful and the most pitiable injustice. In one respect, indeed, a great
retrogression resulted from chivalry, and long survived its decay. The
character of the seducer, and especially of the passionless seducer who
pursues his career simply as a kind of sport, and under the influence of
no stronger motive than vanity or a spirit of adventure, has been
glorified and idealised in the popular literature of Christendom in a
manner to which we can find no parallel in antiquity. When we reflect that
the object of such a man is by the coldest and most deliberate treachery
to blast the lives of innocent women; when we compare the levity of his
motive with the irreparable injury he inflicts; and when we remember that
he can only deceive his victim by persuading her to love him, and can only
ruin her by persuading her to trust him, it must be owned that it would be
difficult to conceive a cruelty more wanton and more heartless, or a
character combining more numerous elements of infamy and of dishonour.
That such a character should for many centuries have been the popular
ideal of a considerable section of literature, and the boast of numbers
who most plume themselves upon their honour, is assuredly one of the most
mournful facts in history, and it represents a moral deflection certainly
not less than was revealed in ancient Greece by the position that was
assigned to the courtesan.

The fundamental truth, that the same act can never be at once venial for a
man to demand, and infamous for a woman to accord, though nobly enforced
by the early Christians, has not passed into the popular sentiment of
Christendom. The mystical character, however, which the Church imparted to
marriage has been extremely influential. Partly by raising it into a
sacrament, and partly by representing it as, in some mysterious and not
very definable sense, an image of the union of Christ with His Church, a
feeling was fostered that a lifelong union of one man and one woman is,
under all circumstances, the single form of intercourse between the sexes
which is not illegitimate; and this conviction has acquired the force of a
primal moral intuition.

There can, I think, be little doubt that, in the stringency with which it
is usually laid down, it rests not upon the law of nature, but upon
positive law, although unassisted nature is sufficient to lead men many
steps in its direction. Considering the subject simply in the light of
unaided reason, two rules comprise the whole duty of man. He must abstain
from whatever injures happiness or degrades character. Under the first
head, he must include the more remote as well as the immediate
consequences of his act. He must consider how his partner will be affected
by the union, the light in which society will view the connection, the
probable position of the children to be born, the effect of these births,
and also the effect of his example upon the well-being of society at
large. Some of the elements of this calculation vary in different stages
of society. Thus, public opinion in one age will reprobate, and therefore
punish, connections which, in another age, are fully sanctioned; and the
probable position of the children, as well as the effect of the births
upon society, will depend greatly upon particular and national

Under the second head is comprised the influence of this intercourse in
clouding or developing the moral feelings, lowering or elevating the tone
of character, exciting or allaying the aberrations of the imagination,
incapacitating men for pure affections or extending their range, making
the animal part of our nature more or less predominant. We know, by the
intuition of our moral nature, that this predominance is always a
degraded, though it is not always an unhappy, condition. We also know that
it is a law of our being, that powerful and beautiful affections, which
had before been latent, are evoked in some particular forms of union,
while other forms of union are peculiarly fitted to deaden the affections
and to pervert the character.

In these considerations we have ample grounds for maintaining that the
lifelong union of one man and of one woman should be the normal or
dominant type of intercourse between the sexes. We can prove that it is on
the whole most conducive to the happiness, and also to the moral
elevation, of all parties. But beyond this point it would, I conceive, be
impossible to advance, except by the assistance of a special revelation.
It by no means follows that because this should be the dominant type it
should be the only one, or that the interests of society demand that all
connections should be forced into the same die. Connections, which were
confessedly only for a few years, have always subsisted side by side with
permanent marriages; and in periods when public opinion, acquiescing in
their propriety, inflicts no excommunication on one or both of the
partners, when these partners are not living the demoralising and
degrading life which accompanies the consciousness of guilt, and when
proper provision is made for the children who are born, it would be, I
believe, impossible to prove, by the light of simple and unassisted
reason, that such connections should be invariably condemned. It is
extremely important, both for the happiness and for the moral well-being
of men, that lifelong unions should not be effected simply under the
imperious prompting of a blind appetite. There are always multitudes who,
in the period of their lives when their passions are most strong, are
incapable of supporting children in their own social rank, and who would
therefore injure society by marrying in it, but are nevertheless perfectly
capable of securing an honourable career for their illegitimate children
in the lower social sphere to which these would naturally belong. Under
the conditions I have mentioned, these connections are not injurious, but
beneficial, to the weaker partner; they soften the differences of rank,
they stimulate social habits, and they do not produce upon character the
degrading effect of promiscuous intercourse, or upon society the injurious
effects of imprudent marriages, one or other of which will multiply in
their absence. In the immense variety of circumstances and characters,
cases will always appear in which, on utilitarian grounds, they might seem

It is necessary to dwell upon such considerations as these, if we would
understand the legislation of the Pagan Empire or the changes that were
effected by Christianity. The legislators of the Empire distinctly
recognised these connections, and made it a main object to authorise,
dignify, and regulate them. The unlimited licence of divorce practically
included them under the name of marriage, while that name sheltered them
from stigma, and prevented many of the gravest evils of unauthorised
unions. The word concubine also, which in the Republic had the same
signification as among ourselves, represented in the Empire a strictly
legal union—an innovation which was chiefly due to Augustus, and was
doubtless intended as part of the legislation against celibacy, and also,
it may be, as a corrective of the licentious habits that were general.
This union was in essentials merely a form of marriage, for he who, having
a concubine, took to himself either a wife or another concubine, was
legally guilty of adultery. Like the commonest form of marriage, it was
consummated without any ceremony, and was dissoluble at will. Its
peculiarities were that it was contracted between men of patrician rank
and freedwomen, who were forbidden by law to intermarry; that the
concubine, though her position was perfectly recognised and honourable,
did not share the rank of her partner, that she brought no dowry, and that
her children followed her rank, and were excluded from the rank and the
inheritance of their father.(761)

Against these notions Christianity declared a direct and implacable
warfare, which was imperfectly reflected in the civil legislation, but
appeared unequivocally in the writings of the Fathers, and in most of the
decrees of the Councils.(762) It taught, as a religious dogma, invariable,
inflexible, and independent of all utilitarian calculations, that all
forms of intercourse of the sexes, other than lifelong unions, were
criminal. By teaching men to regard this doctrine as axiomatic, and
therefore inflicting severe social penalties and deep degradation on
transient connections, it has profoundly modified even their utilitarian
aspect, and has rendered them in most countries furtive and disguised.
There is probably no other branch of ethics which has been so largely
determined by special dogmatic theology, and there is none which would be
so deeply affected by its decay.

As a part of the same movement, the purely civil marriage of the later
Pagan Empire was gradually replaced by religious marriages. There is a
manifest propriety in invoking a divine benediction upon an act which
forms so important an epoch in life, and the mingling of a religious
ceremony impresses a deeper sense of the solemnity of the contract. The
essentially religious and even mystical character imparted by Christianity
to marriage rendered the consecration peculiarly natural, but it was only
very gradually that it came to be looked upon as absolutely necessary. As
I have already noticed, it was long dispensed with in the marriage of
slaves; and even in the case of freemen, though generally performed, it
was not made compulsory till the tenth century.(763) In addition to its
primary object of sanctifying marriage, it became in time a powerful
instrument in securing the authority of the priesthood, who were able to
compel men to submit to the conditions they imposed in the formation of
the most important contract of life; and the modern authorisation of civil
marriages, by diminishing greatly the power of the Catholic priesthood
over domestic life, has been one of the most severe blows ecclesiastical
influence has undergone.

The absolute sinfulness of divorce was at the same time strenuously
maintained by the Councils, which in this, as in many other points,
differed widely from the civil law. Constantine restricted it to three
cases of crime on the part of the husband, and three on the part of the
wife; but the habits of the people were too strong for his enactments,
and, after one or two changes in the law, the full latitude of divorce
reappeared in the Justinian Code. The Fathers, on the other hand, though
they hesitated a little about the case of a divorce which followed an act
of adultery on the part of the wife,(764) had no hesitation whatever in
pronouncing all other divorces to be criminal, and periods of penitential
discipline were imposed upon Christians who availed themselves of the
privileges of the civil law.(765) For many centuries this duality of
legislation continued. The barbarian laws restricted divorce by imposing
severe fines on those who repudiated their wives. Charlemagne pronounced
divorce to be criminal, but did not venture to make it penal, and he
practised it himself. On the other hand, the Church threatened with
excommunication, and in some cases actually launched its thunders against,
those who were guilty of it. It was only in the twelfth century that the
victory was definitely achieved, and the civil law, adopting the principle
of the canon law, prohibited all divorce.(766)

I do not propose in the present work to examine how far this total
prohibition has been for the happiness or the moral well-being of men. I
will simply observe that, though it is now often defended, it was not
originally imposed in Christian nations, upon utilitarian grounds, but was
based upon the sacramental character of marriage, upon the belief that
marriage is the special symbol of the perpetual union of Christ with His
Church, and upon a well-known passage in the Gospels. The stringency of
the Catholic doctrine, which forbids the dissolution of marriage even in
the case of adultery, has been considerably relaxed by modern legislation,
and there can, I think, be little doubt that further steps will yet be
taken in the same direction; but the vast change that was effected in both
practice and theory since the unlimited licence of the Pagan Empire must
be manifest to all.

It was essential, or at least very important, that a union which was so
solemn and so irrevocable should be freely contracted. The sentiment of
the Roman patriots towards the close of the Republic was that marriage
should be regarded as a means of providing children for the State, and
should be entered into as a matter of duty with that view, and the laws of
Augustus had imposed many disqualifications on those who abstained from
it. Both of these inducements to marriage passed away under the influence
of Christianity. The popular sentiment disappeared with the decline of
civic virtues. The laws were rescinded under the influence of the ascetic
enthusiasm which made men regard the state of celibacy as pre-eminently

There was still one other important condition to be attained by
theologians in order to realise their ideal type of marriage. It was to
prevent the members of the Church from intermarrying with those whose
religious opinions differed from their own. Mixed marriages, it has been
truly said, may do more than almost any other influence to assuage the
rancour and the asperity of sects, but it must be added that a
considerable measure of tolerance must have been already attained before
they become possible. In a union in which each partner believes and
realises that the other is doomed to an eternity of misery there can be no
real happiness, no sympathy, no trust; and a domestic agreement that some
of the children should be educated in one religion and some in the other
would be impossible when each parent believed it to be an agreement that
some children should be doomed to hell.

The domestic unhappiness arising from differences of belief was probably
almost or altogether unknown in the world before the introduction of
Christianity; for, although differences of opinion may have before
existed, the same momentous consequences were not attached to them. It has
been the especial bane of periods of great religious change, such as the
conversion of the Roman Empire, or the Reformation, or our own day when
far more serious questions than those which agitated the sixteenth century
are occupying the attention of a large proportion of thinkers and
scholars, and when the deep and widening chasm between the religious
opinions of most highly educated men, and of the immense majority of
women, is painfully apparent. While a multitude of scientific discoveries,
critical and historical researches, and educational reforms have brought
thinking men face to face with religious problems of extreme importance,
women have been almost absolutely excluded from their influence. Their
minds are usually by nature less capable than those of men of impartiality
and suspense, and the almost complete omission from female education of
those studies which most discipline and strengthen the intellect increases
the difference, while at the same time it has been usually made a main
object to imbue them with a passionate faith in traditional opinions, and
to preserve them from all contact with opposing views. But contracted
knowledge and imperfect sympathy are not the sole fruits of this
education. It has always been the peculiarity of a certain kind of
theological teaching that it inverts all the normal principles of
judgment, and absolutely destroys intellectual diffidence. On other
subjects we find, if not a respect for honest conviction, at least some
sense of the amount of knowledge that is requisite to entitle men to
express an opinion on grave controversies. A complete ignorance of the
subject-matter of a dispute restrains the confidence of dogmatism; and an
ignorant person, who is aware that, by much reading and thinking in
spheres of which he has himself no knowledge, his educated neighbour has
modified or rejected opinions which that ignorant person had been taught,
will, at least if he is a man of sense or modesty, abstain from
compassionating the benighted condition of his more instructed friend. But
on theological questions this has never been so. Unfaltering belief being
taught as the first of duties, and all doubt being usually stigmatised as
criminal or damnable, a state of mind is formed to which we find no
parallel in other fields. Many men and most women, though completely
ignorant of the very rudiments of biblical criticism, historical research,
or scientific discoveries, though they have never read a single page, or
understood a single proposition of the writings of those whom they
condemn, and have absolutely no rational knowledge either of the arguments
by which their faith is defended, or of those by which it has been
impugned, will nevertheless adjudicate with the utmost confidence upon
every polemical question; denounce, hate, pity, or pray for the conversion
of all who dissent from what they have been taught; assume, as a matter
beyond the faintest possibility of doubt, that the opinions they have
received without enquiry must be true, and that the opinions which others
have arrived at by enquiry must be false, and make it a main object of
their lives to assail what they call heresy in every way in their power,
except by examining the grounds on which it rests. It is probable that the
great majority of voices that swell the clamour against every book which
is regarded as heretical are the voices of those who would deem it
criminal even to open that book, or to enter into any real, searching, and
impartial investigation of the subject to which it relates. Innumerable
pulpits support this tone of thought, and represent, with a fervid
rhetoric well fitted to excite the nerves and imaginations of women, the
deplorable condition of all who deviate from a certain type of opinions or
of emotions; a blind propagandism or a secret wretchedness penetrates into
countless households, poisoning the peace of families, chilling the mutual
confidence of husband and wife, adding immeasurably to the difficulties
which every searcher into truth has to encounter, and diffusing far and
wide intellectual timidity, disingenuousness, and hypocrisy.

These domestic divisions became very apparent in the period of the
conversion of the Roman Empire; and a natural desire to guard intact the
orthodoxy and zeal of the converts, and to prevent a continual
discordance, stimulated the Fathers in their very vehement denunciations
of all mixed marriages. We may also trace in these denunciations the
outline of a very singular doctrine, which was afterwards suffered to fall
into obscurity, but was revived in the last century in England in a
curious and learned work of the nonjuror Dodwell.(767) The union of Christ
and His Church had been represented as a marriage; and this image was not
regarded as a mere metaphor or comparison, but as intimating a mysterious
unity, which, though not susceptible of any very clear definition, was not
on that account the less real. Christians were the “limbs of Christ,” and
for them to join themselves in marriage with those who were not of the
Christian fold was literally, it was said, a species of adultery or
fornication. The intermarriage of the Israelites, the chosen seed of the
ancient world, with the Gentiles, had been described in the Old Testament
as an act of impurity;(768) and in the opinion of some, at least, of the
Fathers, the Christian community occupied towards the unbelievers a
position analogous to that which the Jews had occupied towards the
Gentiles. St. Cyprian denounced the crime of those “who prostitute the
limbs of Christ in marriage with the Gentiles.”(769) Tertullian described
the intermarriage as fornication;(770) and after the triumph of the
Church, the intermarriage of Jews and Christians was made a capital
offence, and was stigmatised by the law as adultery.(771) The civil law
did not prohibit the orthodox from intermarrying with heretics, but many
councils in strong terms denounced such marriages as criminal.

The extreme sanctity attributed to virginity, the absolute condemnation of
all forms of sexual connection other than marriage, and the formation and
gradual realisation of the Christian conception of marriage as a permanent
union of a man and woman of the same religious opinions, consecrated by
solemn religious services, carrying with it a deep religious
signification, and dissoluble only by death, were the most obvious signs
of Christian influence in the sphere of ethics we are examining. Another
very important result of the new religion was to raise to a far greater
honour than they had previously possessed, the qualities in which women
peculiarly excel.

There are few more curious subjects of enquiry than the distinctive
differences between the sexes, and the manner in which those differences
have affected the ideal types of different ages, nations, philosophies,
and religions. Physically, men have the indisputable superiority in
strength, and women in beauty. Intellectually, a certain inferiority of
the female sex can hardly be denied when we remember how almost
exclusively the foremost places in every department of science,
literature, and art have been occupied by men, how infinitesimally small
is the number of women who have shown in any form the very highest order
of genius, how many of the greatest men have achieved their greatness in
defiance of the most adverse circumstances, and how completely women have
failed in obtaining the first position, even in music or painting, for the
cultivation of which their circumstances would appear most propitious. It
is as impossible to find a female Raphael, or a female Handel, as a female
Shakspeare or Newton. Women are intellectually more desultory and volatile
than men; they are more occupied with particular instances than with
general principles; they judge rather by intuitive perceptions than by
deliberate reasoning or past experience. They are, however, usually
superior to men in nimbleness and rapidity of thought, and in the gift of
tact or the power of seizing speedily and faithfully the finer inflexions
of feeling, and they have therefore often attained very great eminence in
conversation, as letter-writers, as actresses, and as novelists.

Morally, the general superiority of women over men, is, I think,
unquestionable. If we take the somewhat coarse and inadequate criterion of
police statistics, we find that, while the male and female populations are
nearly the same in number, the crimes committed by men are usually rather
more than five times as numerous as those committed by women;(772) and
although it may be justly observed that men, as the stronger sex, and the
sex upon whom the burden of supporting the family is thrown, have more
temptations than women, it must be remembered, on the other hand, that
extreme poverty which verges upon starvation is most common among women,
whose means of livelihood are most restricted, and whose earnings are
smallest and most precarious. Self-sacrifice is the most conspicuous
element of a virtuous and religious character, and it is certainly far
less common among men than among women, whose whole lives are usually
spent in yielding to the will and consulting the pleasures of another.
There are two great departments of virtue: the impulsive, or that which
springs spontaneously from the emotions; and the deliberative, or that
which is performed in obedience to the sense of duty; and in both of these
I imagine women are superior to men. Their sensibility is greater, they
are more chaste both in thought and act, more tender to the erring, more
compassionate to the suffering, more affectionate to all about them. On
the other hand, those who have traced the course of the wives of the poor,
and of many who, though in narrow circumstances, can hardly be called
poor, will probably admit that in no other class do we so often find
entire lives spent in daily persistent self-denial, in the patient
endurance of countless trials, in the ceaseless and deliberate sacrifice
of their own enjoyments to the well-being or the prospects of others.
Women, however, though less prone than men to intemperance and brutality,
are in general more addicted to the petty forms of vanity, jealousy,
spitefulness, and ambition, and they are also inferior to men in active
courage. In the courage of endurance they are commonly superior; but their
passive courage is not so much fortitude which bears and defies, as
resignation which bears and bends. In the ethics of intellect they are
decidedly inferior. To repeat an expression I have already employed, women
very rarely love truth, though they love passionately what they call “the
truth,” or opinions they have received from others, and hate vehemently
those who differ from them. They are little capable of impartiality or of
doubt; their thinking is chiefly a mode of feeling; though very generous
in their acts, they are rarely generous in their opinions or in their
judgments. They persuade rather than convince, and value belief rather as
a source of consolation than as a faithful expression of the reality of
things. They are less capable than men of perceiving qualifying
circumstances, of admitting the existence of elements of good in systems
to which they are opposed, of distinguishing the personal character of an
opponent from the opinions he maintains. Men lean most to justice and
women to mercy. Men excel in energy, self-reliance, perseverance, and
magnanimity; women in humility, gentleness, modesty, and endurance. The
realising imagination which causes us to pity and to love is more
sensitive in women than in men, and it is especially more capable of
dwelling on the unseen. Their religious or devotional realisations are
incontestably more vivid; and it is probable that, while a father is most
moved by the death of a child in his presence, a mother generally feels
most the death of a child in some distant land. But, though more intense,
the sympathies of women are commonly less wide than those of men. Their
imaginations individualise more; their affections are, in consequence,
concentrated rather on leaders than on causes; and if they care for a
great cause, it is generally because it is represented by a great man, or
connected with some one whom they love. In politics, their enthusiasm is
more naturally loyalty than patriotism. In history, they are even more
inclined than men to dwell exclusively upon biographical incidents or
characteristics as distinguished from the march of general causes. In
benevolence, they excel in charity, which alleviates individual suffering,
rather than in philanthropy, which deals with large masses and is more
frequently employed in preventing than in allaying calamity.

It was a remark of Winckelmann that “the supreme beauty of Greek art is
rather male than female;” and the justice of this remark has been amply
corroborated by the greater knowledge we have of late years attained of
the works of the Phidian period, in which art achieved its highest
perfection, and in which, at the same time, force and freedom, and
masculine grandeur, were its pre-eminent characteristics. A similar
observation may be made of the moral ideal of which ancient art was simply
the expression. In antiquity the virtues that were most admired were
almost exclusively those which are distinctively masculine. Courage,
self-assertion, magnanimity, and, above all, patriotism, were the leading
features of the ideal type; and chastity, modesty, and charity, the
gentler and the domestic virtues, which are especially feminine, were
greatly undervalued. With the single exception of conjugal fidelity, none
of the virtues that were very highly prized were virtues distinctively or
pre-eminently feminine. With this exception, nearly all the most
illustrious women of antiquity were illustrious chiefly because they
overcame the natural conditions of their sex. It is a characteristic fact
that the favourite female ideal of the artists appears to have been the
Amazon.(773) We may admire the Spartan mother, and the mother of the
Gracchi, repressing every sign of grief when their children were
sacrificed upon the altar of their country, we may wonder at the majestic
courage of a Porcia and an Arria; but we extol them chiefly because, being
women, they emancipated themselves from the frailty of their sex, and
displayed an heroic fortitude worthy of the strongest and the bravest of
men. We may bestow an equal admiration upon the noble devotion and charity
of a St. Elizabeth of Hungary, or of a Mrs. Fry, but we do not admire them
because they displayed these virtues, although they were women, for we
feel that their virtues were of the kind which the female nature is most
fitted to produce. The change from the heroic to the saintly ideal, from
the ideal of Paganism to the ideal of Christianity, was a change from a
type which was essentially male to one which was essentially feminine. Of
all the great schools of philosophy no other reflected so faithfully the
Roman conception of moral excellence as Stoicism, and the greatest Roman
exponent of Stoicism summed up its character in a single sentence when he
pronounced it to be beyond all other sects the most emphatically
masculine.(774) On the other hand, an ideal type in which meekness,
gentleness, patience, humility, faith, and love are the most prominent
features, is not naturally male but female. A reason probably deeper than
the historical ones which are commonly alleged, why sculpture has always
been peculiarly Pagan and painting peculiarly Christian, may be found in
the fact, that sculpture is especially suited to represent male beauty, or
the beauty of strength, and painting female beauty, or the beauty of
softness; and that Pagan sentiment was chiefly a glorification of the
masculine qualities of strength, and courage, and conscious virtue, while
Christian sentiment is chiefly a glorification of the feminine qualities
of gentleness, humility, and love. The painters whom the religious feeling
of Christendom has recognised as the most faithful exponents of Christian
sentiment have always been those who infused a large measure of feminine
beauty even into their male characters; and we never, or scarcely ever,
find that the same artist has been conspicuously successful in delineating
both Christian and Pagan types. Michael Angelo, whose genius loved to
expatiate on the sublimity of strength and defiance, failed signally in
his representations of the Christian ideal; and Perugino was equally
unsuccessful when he sought to pourtray the features of the heroes of
antiquity.(775) The position that was gradually assigned to the Virgin as
the female ideal in the belief and the devotion of Christendom, was a
consecration or an expression of the new value that was attached to the
feminine virtues.

The general superiority of women to men in the strength of their religious
emotions, and their natural attraction to a religion which made personal
attachment to its Founder its central duty, and which imparted an
unprecedented dignity and afforded an unprecedented scope to their
characteristic virtues, account for the very conspicuous position that
female influence assumed in the great work of the conversion of the Roman
Empire. In no other important movement of thought was it so powerful or so
acknowledged. In the ages of persecution female figures occupy many of the
foremost places in the ranks of martyrdom, and Pagan and Christian writers
alike attest the alacrity with which women flocked to the Church, and the
influence they exercised in its favour over the male members of their
families. The mothers of St. Augustine, St. Chrysostom, St. Basil, St.
Gregory Nazianzen, and Theodoret, had all a leading part in the conversion
of their sons. St. Helena, the mother of Constantine, Flacilla, the wife
of Theodosius the Great, St. Pulcheria, the sister of Theodosius the
Younger, and Placidia, the mother of Valentinian III., were among the most
conspicuous defenders of the faith. In the heretical sects the same zeal
was manifested, and Arius, Priscillian, and Montanus were all supported by
troops of zealous female devotees. In the career of asceticism women took
a part little if at all inferior to men, while in the organisation of the
great work of charity they were pre-eminent. For no other field of active
labour are women so admirably suited as for this; and although we may
trace from the earliest period, in many creeds and ages, individual
instances of their influence in allaying the sufferings of the
distressed,(776) it may be truly said that their instinct and genius of
charity had never before the dawn of Christianity obtained full scope for
action. Fabiola, Paula, Melania, and a host of other noble ladies devoted
their time and fortunes mainly to founding and extending vast institutions
of charity, some of them of a kind before unknown in the world. The
Empress Flacilla was accustomed to tend with her own hands the sick in the
hospitals,(777) and a readiness to discharge such offices was deemed the
first duty of a Christian wife.(778) From age to age the impulse thus
communicated has been felt. There has been no period, however corrupt,
there has been no Church, however superstitious, that has not been adorned
by many Christian women devoting their entire lives to assuaging the
sufferings of men; and the mission of charity thus instituted has not been
more efficacious in diminishing the sum of human wretchedness, than in
promoting the moral dignity of those by whom it was conducted.

Among the Collyridian heretics, women were admitted to the priesthood.
Among the orthodox, although this honour was not bestowed upon them, they
received a religious consecration, and discharged some minor
ecclesiastical functions under the name of deaconesses.(779) This order
may be traced to the Apostolic period.(780) It consisted of elderly
virgins, who were set apart by a formal ordination, and were employed in
assisting as catechists and attendants at the baptism of women, in
visiting the sick, ministering to martyrs in prison, preserving order in
the congregations, and accompanying and presenting women who desired an
interview with the bishop. It would appear, from the evidence of some
councils, that abuses gradually crept into this institution, and the
deaconesses at last faded into simple nuns, but they were still in
existence in the East in the twelfth century. Besides these, widows, when
they had been but once married, were treated with peculiar honour, and
were made the special recipients of the charity of the Church. Women
advanced in years, who, either from their single life or from bereavement,
have been left without any male protector in the world, have always been
peculiarly deserving of commiseration. With less strength, and commonly
with less means, and less knowledge of the world than men, they are liable
to contract certain peculiarities of mind and manner to which an excessive
amount of ridicule has been attached, and age in most cases furnishes them
with very little to compensate for the charms of which it has deprived
them. The weight and dignity of matured wisdom, which make the old age of
one sex so venerable, are more rarely found in that of the other, and even
physical beauty is more frequently the characteristic of an old man than
of an old woman. The Church laboured steadily to cast a halo of reverence
around this period of woman’s life, and its religious exercises have done
very much to console and to occupy it.

In accordance with these ideas, the Christian legislators contributed
largely to improve the legal position of widows in respect to
property,(781) and Justinian gave mothers the guardianship of their
children, destroying the Pagan rule that guardianship could only be
legally exercised by men.(782) The usual subservience of the sex to
ecclesiastical influence, the numerous instances of rich widows devoting
their fortunes, and mothers their sons, to the Church, had no doubt some
influence in securing the advocacy of the clergy; but these measures had a
manifest importance in elevating the position of women who have had, in
Christian lands, a great, though not, I think, altogether a beneficial
influence, in the early education of their sons.

Independently of all legal enactments, the simple change of the ideal type
by bringing specially feminine virtues into the forefront was sufficient
to elevate and ennoble the sex. The commanding position of the mediæval
abbesses, the great number of female saints, and especially the reverence
bestowed upon the Virgin, had a similar effect. It is remarkable that the
Jews, who, of the three great nations of antiquity, certainly produced in
history and poetry the smallest number of illustrious women, should have
furnished the world with its supreme female ideal, and it is also a
striking illustration of the qualities which prove most attractive in
woman that one of whom we know nothing except her gentleness and her
sorrow should have exercised a magnetic power upon the world incomparably
greater than was exercised by the most majestic female patriots of
Paganism. Whatever may be thought of its theological propriety, there can
be little doubt that the Catholic reverence for the Virgin has done much
to elevate and purify the ideal of woman, and to soften the manners of
men. It has had an influence which the worship of the Pagan goddesses
could never possess, for these had been almost destitute of moral beauty,
and especially of that kind of moral beauty which is peculiarly feminine.
It supplied in a great measure the redeeming and ennobling element in that
strange amalgam of religious, licentious, and military feeling which was
formed around women in the age of chivalry, and which no succeeding change
of habit or belief has wholly destroyed.

It can hardly, I think, be questioned that in the great religious
convulsions of the sixteenth century the feminine type followed
Catholicism, while Protestantism inclined more to the masculine type.
Catholicism alone retained the Virgin worship, which at once reflected and
sustained the first. The skill with which it acts upon the emotions by
music, and painting, and solemn architecture, and imposing pageantry, its
tendency to appeal to the imagination rather than to the reason, and to
foster modes of feeling rather than modes of thought, its assertion of
absolute and infallible certainty, above all, the manner in which it
teaches its votary to throw himself perpetually on authority, all tended
in the same direction. It is the part of a woman to lean, it is the part
of a man to stand. A religion which prescribes to the distracted mind
unreasoning faith in an infallible Church, and to the troubled conscience
an implicit trust in an absolving priesthood, has ever had an especial
attraction to a feminine mind. A religion which recognises no authority
between man and his Creator, which asserts at once the dignity and the
duty of private judgment, and which, while deepening immeasurably the
sense of individual responsibility, denudes religion of meretricious
ornaments, and of most æsthetic aids, is pre-eminently a religion of men.
Puritanism is the most masculine form that Christianity has yet assumed.
Its most illustrious teachers differed from the Catholic saints as much in
the moral type they displayed as in the system of doctrines they held.
Catholicism commonly softens, while Protestantism strengthens, the
character; but the softness of the first often degenerates into weakness,
and the strength of the second into hardness. Sincerely Catholic nations
are distinguished for their reverence, for their habitual and vivid
perceptions of religious things, for the warmth of their emotions, for a
certain amiability of disposition, and a certain natural courtesy and
refinement of manner that are inexpressibly winning. Sincerely Protestant
nations are distinguished for their love of truth, for their firm sense of
duty, for the strength and the dignity of their character. Loyalty and
humility, which are especially feminine, flourish chiefly in the first;
liberty and self-assertion in the second. The first are most prone to
superstition, and the second to fanaticism. Protestantism, by purifying
and dignifying marriage, conferred a great benefit upon women; but it must
be owned that neither in its ideal type, nor in the general tenor of its
doctrines or devotions, is it as congenial to their nature as the religion
it superseded.

Its complete suppression of the conventual system was also, I think, very
far from a benefit to women or to the world. It would be impossible to
conceive any institution more needed than one which would furnish a
shelter for the many women who, from poverty, or domestic unhappiness, or
other causes, find themselves cast alone and unprotected into the battle
of life, which would secure them from the temptations to gross vice, and
from the extremities of suffering, and would convert them into agents of
active, organised, and intelligent charity. Such an institution would be
almost free from the objections that may justly be urged against
monasteries, which withdraw strong men from manual labour, and it would
largely mitigate the difficulty of providing labour and means of
livelihood for single women, which is one of the most pressing, in our own
day one of the most appalling, of social problems. Most unhappily for
mankind, this noble conception was from the first perverted. Institutions
that might have had an incalculable philanthropic value were based upon
the principle of asceticism, which makes the sacrifice, not the promotion,
of earthly happiness its aim, and binding vows produced much misery and
not a little vice. The convent became the perpetual prison of the daughter
whom a father was disinclined to endow, or of young girls who, under the
impulse of a transient enthusiasm, or of a transient sorrow, took a step
which they never could retrace, and useless penances and contemptible
superstitions wasted the energies that might have been most beneficially
employed. Still it is very doubtful whether, even in the most degraded
period, the convents did not prevent more misery than they inflicted, and
in the Sisters of Charity the religious orders of Catholicism have
produced one of the most perfect of all the types of womanhood. There is,
as I conceive, no fact in modern history more deeply to be deplored than
that the Reformers, who in matters of doctrinal innovations were often so
timid, should have levelled to the dust, instead of attempting to
regenerate, the whole conventual system of Catholicism.

The course of these observations has led me to transgress the limits
assigned to this history. It has been, however, my object through this
entire work to exhibit not only the nature but also the significance of
the moral facts I have recorded, by showing how they have affected the
subsequent changes of society. I will conclude this chapter, and this
work, by observing that of all the departments of ethics the questions
concerning the relations of the sexes and the proper position of women are
those upon the future of which there rests the greatest uncertainty.
History tells us that, as civilisation advances, the charity of men
becomes at once warmer and more expansive, their habitual conduct both
more gentle and more temperate, and their love of truth more sincere; but
it also warns us that in periods of great intellectual enlightenment, and
of great social refinement, the relations of the sexes have often been
most anarchical. It is impossible to deny that the form which these
relations at present assume has been very largely affected by special
religious teaching, which, for good or for ill, is rapidly waning in the
sphere of government, and also, that certain recent revolutions in
economical opinion and industrial enterprise have a most profound bearing
upon the subject. The belief that a rapid increase of population is always
eminently beneficial, which was long accepted as an axiom by both
statesmen and moralists, and was made the basis of a large part of the
legislation of the first and of the decisions of the second, has now been
replaced by the directly opposite doctrine, that the very highest interest
of society is not to stimulate but to restrain multiplication, diminishing
the number of marriages and of children. In consequence of this belief,
and of the many factitious wants that accompany a luxurious civilisation,
a very large and increasing proportion of women are left to make their way
in life without any male protector, and the difficulties they have to
encounter through physical weakness have been most unnaturally and most
fearfully aggravated by laws and customs which, resting on the old
assumption that every woman should be a wife, habitually deprive them of
the pecuniary and educational advantages of men, exclude them absolutely
from very many of the employments in which they might earn a subsistence,
encumber their course in others by a heartless ridicule or by a steady
disapprobation, and consign, in consequence, many thousands to the most
extreme and agonising poverty, and perhaps a still larger number to the
paths of vice. At the same time a momentous revolution, the effects of
which can as yet be but imperfectly descried, has taken place in the chief
spheres of female industry that remain. The progress of machinery has
destroyed its domestic character. The distaff has fallen from the hand.
The needle is being rapidly superseded, and the work which, from the days
of Homer to the present century, was accomplished in the centre of the
family, has been transferred to the crowded manufactory.(783)

The probable consequences of these things are among the most important
questions that can occupy the moralist or the philanthropist, but they do
not fall within the province of the historian. That the pursuits and
education of women will be considerably altered, that these alterations
will bring with them some modifications of the type of character, and that
the prevailing moral notions concerning the relations of the sexes will be
subjected in many quarters to a severe and hostile criticism, may safely
be predicted. Many wild theories will doubtless be propounded. Some real
ethical changes may perhaps be effected, but these, if I mistake not, can
only be within definite and narrow limits. He who will seriously reflect
upon our clear perceptions of the difference between purity and impurity,
upon the laws that govern our affections, and upon the interests of the
children who are born, may easily convince himself that in this, as in all
other spheres, there are certain eternal moral landmarks which never can
be removed.


Abortion, diversities of moral judgment respecting, i. 92.
  History of the practice of, ii. 20, 24

Abraham the Hermit, St., ii. 110

Acacius, his ransom of Persian slaves, ii. 72

Adultery, laws concerning, ii. 313

Æschylus, his views of human nature, i. 196.
  His violation of dramatic probabilities, 229

Affections, the, all forms of self-love, according to some Utilitarians,
            i. 9.
  Subjugation of the, to the reason, taught by the Stoics, &c., 177, 187.
  Considered by the Stoics as a disease, 188.
  Evil consequences of their suppression, 191

Africa, sacrifices of children to Saturn in, ii. 31.
  Effect of the conquest of Genseric of, 82

Agapæ, or love feasts, of the Christians, how regarded by the pagans, i.
            415; ii. 79.
  Excesses of the, and their suppression, 150

Agnes, St., legend of, ii. 319

Agricultural pursuits, history of the decline of, in Italy, i. 266.
  Efforts to relieve the agriculturists, 267

Albigenses, their slow suicides, ii. 49

Alexander the Great: effect of his career on Greek cosmopolitanism, i. 229

Alexandria, foundation of, i. 230.
  Effect of the increasing importance of, on Roman thought, 319.
  The Decian persecution at, 451.
  Excesses of the Christian sects of, ii. 196, 197, _note_

Alexis, St., his legend, ii. 322

Alimentus, Cincius, his work written in Greek, i. 230

Almsgiving, effects of indiscriminate, ii. 90, 91

Amafanius, wrote the first Latin work on philosophy, i. 175, _note_.

Ambrose, St., his miraculous dream, i. 379.
  His dissection of the pagan theory of the decline of the Roman empire,
  His ransom of Italians from the Goths, ii. 72.
  His commendation of disobedience to parents, 132

American Indians, suicide of the, ii. 54

Ammon, St., his refusal to wash himself, ii. 110.
  Deserts his wife, 322

Amour, William de St., his denunciation of the mendicant orders, ii. 96

Amphitheatres, history and remains of Roman, i. 273

Anaxagoras, on the death of his son, i. 191.
  On his true country, 201

Anchorites. _See_ Ascetics; Monasticism

Angelo, Michael, in what he failed, ii. 363

Anglo-Saxon nations, their virtues and vices, i. 153

Animals, lower, Egyptian worship of, i. 166, _note_.
  Humanity to animals probably first advocated by Plutarch, 244.
  Animals employed in the arena at Rome, 280.
  Instances of kindness to, 288, 307.
  Legends of the connection of the saints and the animal world, ii. 161.
  Pagan legends of the intelligence of animals, 161, 162.
  Legislative protection of them, 162.
  Views as to the souls of animals, 162.
  Moral duty of kindness to animals taught by pagans, 166.
  Legends in the lives of the saints in connection with animals, 168.
  Progress in modern times of humanity to animals, 172

Antigonus of Socho, his doctrine of virtue, i. 183, _note_

Antioch, charities of, ii. 80.
  Its extreme vice and asceticism, 153

Antisthenes, his scepticism, i. 162

Antoninus, the philosopher, his prediction, i. 427

Antoninus the Pious, his death, i. 207.
  His leniency towards the Christians, 438, 439.
  Forged letter of, 439, _note_.
  His charity, ii. 77

Antony, St., his flight into the desert, ii. 103.
  His mode of life, 110.
  His dislike to knowledge, 115.
  Legend of his visit to Paul the hermit, 157, 158

Aphrodite, the celestial and earthly, i. 106

Apollonius of Tyana, his conversation with an Egyptian priest respecting
            the Greek and Egyptian modes of worshipping the deity, i. 166,
  Miracles attributed to him, 372.
  His humanity to animals, ii. 165

Apollonius, the merchant, his dispensary for monks, ii. 81

Apuleius, his condemnation of suicide, i. 213.
  His disquisition on the doctrine of dæmons, 323.
  Practical form of his philosophy, 329.
  Miracles attributed to him, 372.
  His defence of tooth-powder, ii. 148

Archytas of Tarentum, his speech on the evils of sensuality, i. 200,

Argos, story of the sons of the priestess of Juno at, i. 206

Arians, their charges against the Catholics, i. 418, _note_

Aristides, his gentleness, i. 228

Aristotle, his admission of the practice of abortion, i. 92.
  Emphasis with which he dwelt upon the utility of virtue, 124.
  His patriotism, 200.
  His condemnation of suicide, 212.
  His opinions as to the duties of Greeks to barbarians, 229

Arius, death of, ii. 196

Arnobius, on the miracles of Christ, i. 375

Arrian, his humanity to animals, ii. 164

Arsenius, St., his penances, ii. 107, 114, _note_.
  His anxiety to avoid distractions, 125, _note_

Ascetics, their estimate of the dreadful nature of sin, i. 113.
  Decline of asceticism and evanescence of the moral notions of which it
              was the expression, 113.
  Condition of society to which it belongs, 130.
  Decline of the ascetic and saintly qualities with civilisation, 130.
  Causes of the ascetic movement, ii. 102.
  Its rapid extension, 103-105.
  Penances attributed to the saints of the desert, 107-109.
  Miseries and joys of the hermit life, 113 _et seq._
  Dislike of the monks to knowledge, 115.
  Their hallucinations, 116.
  Relations of female devotees with the anchorites, 120.
  Ways in which the ascetic life affected both the ideal type and realised
              condition of morals, 122, _et seq._
  Extreme animosity of the ascetics to everything pagan, 136, 137.
  Decline of the civic virtues caused by asceticism, 139.
  Moral effects of asceticism on self-sacrifice, 154, 155.
  Moral beauty of some of the legends of the ascetics, 156.
  Legends of the connection between the saints and the animal world, 161.
  Practical form of asceticism in the West, 177.
  Influence of asceticism on chastity, 319, 320.
  On marriage, 320.
  On the estimate of women, 337

Asella, story of her asceticism, ii. 133

Asia Minor, destruction of the churches of, ii. 14

Aspasia, the Athenian courtesan, ii. 293

Asses, feast of, ii. 173

Association, Hartley’s doctrine of, i. 22.
  Partly anticipated by Hutcheson and Gay, 23.
  Illustrations of the system of association, 26-30.
  The theory, how far selfish, 30.
  The essential and characteristic feature of conscience wholly
              unaccounted for by the association of ideas, 66

Astrology, belief in, rapidly gaining ground in the time of the elder
            Pliny, i. 171, and _note_

Atticus, his suicide, i. 215, and _note_

Augustine, St., on original sin, i. 209.
  His belief in contemporary miracles, 378.
  On the decline of the Roman empire, 410.
  His condemnation of virgin suicides, ii. 47

Augustus, his solemn degradation of the statue of Neptune, i. 169.
  His mode of discouraging celibacy, 232.
  Miraculous stories related of him, 258.
  His superstition, 376.
  Advice of Mæcenas to him, 399.
  His consideration for the religious customs of the Jews, 406

Aulus Gellius, his account of the rhetoricians, i. 313.
  Compared with Helvétius, 313

Aurelius, Marcus, on a future state, i. 184.
  On posthumous fame, 186.
  Denied that all vices are the same, 192, _note_.
  On the sacred spirit dwelling in man, 198.
  His submissive gratitude, 199.
  His practical application of the precepts of the Stoics, 202.
  His wavering views as to suicide, 213.
  His charity to the human race, 241.
  Mild and more religious spirit of his stoicism, 245.
  His constant practice of self-examination, 249.
  His life and character, 249-255.
  Compared and contrasted with Plutarch, 253.
  His discouragement of the games of the arena, 286.
  His humanity, 308.
  His disbelief of exorcism, 384.
  His law against religious terrorism, 422.
  His persecution of the Christians, 439, 440.
  His benevolence, ii. 77.
  His view of war, 258

Austin, Mr., his view of the foundation of the moral law, i. 17, _note_.
  His advocacy of the unselfish view of the love we ought to bear to God,
              18, _note_.
  Character of his “Lectures on Jurisprudence,” 22, _note_

Avarice, association of ideas to the passion of, i. 25

Avitus, St., legend of, ii. 159

Babylas, St., miracles performed by his bones, i. 382, and _note_.
  His death, ii. 9

Bacchus, suppression of the rites of, at Rome, i. 401

Bacon, Lord, great movement of modern thought caused by, i. 125.
  His objection to the Stoics’ view of death, 202

Bacon, Roger, his life and works, ii. 210

Bain, Mr., on pleasure, i. 12, _note_.
  His definition of conscience, 29, _note_.

Balbus, Cornelius, his elevation to the consulate, i. 232

Baltus on the exorcists, i. 381, _note_.

Baptism, Augustinian doctrine of, i. 96

Barbarians, causes of the conversion of the, i. 410

Basil, St., his hospital, ii. 80.
  His labours for monachism, 106

Bassus, Ventidius, his elevation to the consulate, i. 232

Bathilda, Queen, her charity, ii. 245

Bear-gardens in England, ii. 175, _note_.

Beauty, analogies between virtue and, i. 77.
  Their difference, 79.
  Diversities existing in our judgments of virtue and beauty, 79.
  Causes of these diversities, 79.
  Virtues to which we can, and to which we cannot, apply the term
              beautiful, 82, 83.
  Pleasure derived from beauty compared with that from the grotesque, or
              eccentric, 85.
  The prevailing cast of female beauty in the north, contrasted with the
              southern type, 144, 145, 152.
  Admiration of the Greeks for beauty, ii. 292

Bees, regarded by the ancients as emblems or models of chastity, i. 108,

Beggars, causes of vast numbers of, ii. 94.
  Old English laws for the suppression of mendicancy, 96.
  Enactments against them in various parts of Europe, 98

Benedict, St., his system, 183

Benefices, military use of, ii. 270

Benevolence; Hutcheson’s theory that all virtue is resolved into
            benevolence, i. 4.
  Discussions in England, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, as
              to the existence of, 20.
  Various views of the source from which it springs, 22.
  Association of ideas producing the feeling of, 26.
  Hartley on benevolence quoted, 27, _note_.
  Impossibility of benevolence becoming a pleasure if practised only with
              a view to that end, 37.
  Application to benevolence of the theory, that the moral unity of
              different ages is a unity not of standard but of tendency,
  Influenced by our imaginations, 132, 133.
  Imperfectly recognised by the Stoics, 188, 192

Bentham, Jeremy, on the motives of human actions, i. 8, _note_.
  On the pleasures and pains of piety quoted, 9, _note_.
  On charity, 10, _note_.
  On vice, 13, _note_.
  On the sanctions of morality, 19, and _note_, 21.
  Throws benevolence as much as possible into the background, 21.
  Makes no use of the doctrine of association, 25, _note_.
  His definition of conscience, 29, _note_.
  On interest and disinterestedness, 32, _note_.
  On the value and purity of a pleasure, 90, _note_.

Besarion, St., his penances, ii. 108

Biography, relative importance of, among Christians and Pagans, i. 174

Blandina, martyrdom of, i. 442

Blesilla, story of her slow suicide, ii. 48

Blondel, his denunciation of the forgeries of the Sibylline books, i. 377

Boadicea, her suicide, ii. 53, _note_

Bolingbroke’s “Reflections on Exile,” i. 201, _note_

Bona Dea, story and worship of, i. 94, _note_.
  Popularity of her worship among the Romans, 106, 386

Boniface, St., his missionary labours, ii. 247

Bonnet, his philosophy, i. 71

Bossuet, on the nature of the love we should bear to God, i. 18, _note_

Brephotrophia, in the early church, ii. 32

Brotherhood, effect of Christianity in promoting, ii. 61

Brown, on the motive for the practice of virtue, i. 8, _note_.
  On theological Utilitarianism, 16, _note_

Brunehaut, Queen, her crimes, approved of by the Pope, ii. 236, 237.
  Her end, 237

Brutus, his extortionate usury, i. 193, 194

Buckle, Thomas, his remarks on morals, i. 74, _note_.
  On the difference between mental and physical pleasures, 90, _note_.
  His views of the comparative influence of intellectual and moral
              agencies in civilisation, 103, _note_

Bull-baiting in England, ii. 175, _note_

Bulgarians, their conversion to Christianity, ii. 180

Butler, Bishop, maintains the reality of the existence of benevolence in
            our nature, i. 20, 21, _note_.
  On the pleasure derived from virtue, 32, _note_.
  His analysis of moral judgments, 76.
  His definition of conscience, 83

Byzantine Empire, general sketch of the moral condition of the, ii. 13,
  Moral condition of the empire during the Christian period, 147

Cædmon, story of the origin of his “Creation of the World,” ii. 204

Cæsar, Julius, denies the immortality of the soul, i. 182.
  His condemnation of suicide, 213.
  His colonial policy, 233.
  His multiplication of gladiatorial shows, 273

Caligula, his intoxication with his imperial dignity, i. 259.
  His superstitious fears, 367

Calvinists: tendency of the Supralapsarian to deny the existence of a
            moral sense, i. 17, _note_

Camma, conjugal fidelity of, ii. 341

Capital punishment, aversion to, ii. 39

Carlyle, Thomas, on self-sacrifice, i. 57, _note_.
  The influence of conscience on the happiness of men, 62

Carneades, his expulsion from Rome proposed by Cato, i. 399

Carpocrates, licentiousness of the followers of, i. 417

Carthage, effect of the destruction of, on the decadence of Rome, i. 169.
  The Decian persecution at, 452

Carthaginians, the, amongst the most prominent of Latin writers, i. 235

Cassius, the tyrannicide, his suicide, i. 215

Castellio, his exposure of the forgeries of the Sibylline books, i. 377

Catacombs, the, i. 453, 455

Catholicism, Roman, the system of education adopted by, contrasted with
            that of the English public schools, i. 114.
  Conflict of the priests with political economists on the subject of
              early marriages, 114, 115.
  The teaching of, on many points the extreme antithesis of that of the
              pagan philosophers, 208.
  Its view of death, 208, 210.
  Little done by it for humanity to animals, ii. 173, 177, 188.
  Influence on despotism, 186.
  Its total destruction of religious liberty, 194-199.
  Causes of the indifference to truth manifested in its literature, 241.
  Protestantism contrasted with it, 368

Cato, his refusal to consult the oracles, i. 165, _note_.
  His stoicism, 185.
  His inhumanity to his slaves, 193.
  His study of the “Phædon” the night he committed suicide, 212.
  His opposition to Greek philosophy, 231.
  His view of pre-nuptial chastity, ii. 314

Cattle plague, theological notions respecting the, i. 356

Catullus, on the death of a sparrow, ii. 165, _note_

Cautinus, Bishop, his drunkenness, ii. 236

Celibacy among the ancients, i. 106.
  The Catholic monastic system, 107.
  How discouraged by Augustus, 232.
  Celibacy the primal virtue of the Christians of the fourth and fifth
              centuries, ii. 122.
  Effect of this upon moral teaching, 122, 123.
  History of the celibacy of the clergy, 328, 336

Celsus calls the Christians Sibyllists, i. 376.
  And jugglers, 384

Celts, Spanish, their worship of death, i. 206, 207.
  Causes of their passion for suicide, 207, _note_.
  Their lamentations on the birth of men, 207, _note_

Censors, Roman, minute supervision of the, i. 168

Character, influence of, on opinion, i. 172.
  Governed in a great measure by national circumstances, 172

Chariot races, passion for, at Constantinople, ii. 37

Charity, a form of self-love, according to the Utilitarians, i. 9, and
  Impossibility of charity becoming a pleasure if practised only with a
              view to that end, 36.
  Charity of the Stoics, 191.
  Cicero’s emphatic assertion of the duty, 240.
  Exertions of the Christians in the cause of charity, ii. 75, 79.
  Inadequate place given to this movement in history, 84, 85.
  Christian charity, in what it consists, 73.
  Laws of the Romans, 73.
  Pagan examples of charity, 78.
  Noble enthusiasm of the Christians in the cause of charity, 78, 79.
  Charity enjoined as a matter of justice, 81.
  Theological notions of charity, 85, 90, 91.
  Evils of Catholic charity, 93-94.
  Legends respecting the virtue, 245, and _note_

Charlemagne, his law respecting Sunday, ii. 245.
  Fascination exercised by him over the popular imagination, 271, 272.
  His polygamy, 343

Charles V., the Emperor, his law against beggars, ii. 97

Charles Martel, his defeat of the Mohammedans, at Poictiers, ii. 273

Charondas, law of, on second marriages, ii. 325, _note_

Chastity, in Utilitarian systems, i. 12, 49.
  Sketch of the history of, 103-107.
  The Catholic monastic system, 107.
  Modern judgments of, ii. 282, 283.
  Cato’s views, 314.
  Mystical views, 315.
  Services of the ascetics in enforcing the duty of chastity, 318-320

Children, charge of murdering infants, among the early Christians, i. 417.
  Abortion, ii. 20-24.
  Infanticide, 24, 26.
  Exposed children, 32.
  Institutions of the Romans for the benefit of children, 77

Chilon, his closing hours, i. 207

Cholera, theological notions respecting the, i. 356

Christian and pagan virtues compared, i. 190

Christianity; distinctions between the pagan and Christian conceptions of
            death, i. 208.
  The importance of Christianity not recognised by pagan writers, 336.
  Causes of this, 338.
  Examination of the theory which ascribes part of the teaching of the
              later pagan moralists to Christian influence, 340.
  Theory which attributes the conversion of Rome to evidences of miracles,
  Opinion of the pagans about the credulity of the Christians, 347.
  Incapacity of the Christians of the third century for judging historic
              miracles, 375.
  And for judging prophecies, 376.
  Contemporary miracles represented as existing among them, 377.
  Christian miracles had probably little weight with the pagans, 385.
  Progress of Christianity to what due, 386, 387.
  Singular adaptation of it to the wants of the time, 387.
  Heroism it inspired, 390.
  Explanation of the conversion of the Roman Empire, 393.
  Account of the persecutions of the Christians, 395.
  Reasons why the Christians were more persecuted than the Jews, 403, 406,
  The first cause of the persecution of the Christians, 406.
  Charges of immorality brought against them, 414.
  Due in a great measure to Jews and heretics, 416, 417.
  The disturbance of domestic life caused by female conversions, 418.
  Antipathy of the Romans to every system which employed religious
              terrorism, 421.
  Christian intolerance of pagan worship, 423.
  And of diversity of belief, 424-427.
  History of the persecutions, 429.
  Nero’s, 429.
  Domitian’s, 431.
  Condition of the Christians under the Antonines, 434.
  Become profoundly obnoxious to the people, 436.
  Marcus Aurelius, 439, 440.
  Introduction of Christianity into France, 442, and _note_.
  Attitude of the rulers towards it from M. Aurelius to Decius, 451, _et
  Condition of the Church on the eve of the Decian persecution, 448.
  Gallus, 454.
  Valerian, 454.
  Gallienus, 455.
  Erection of churches in the Empire, 457.
  Persecutions of Diocletian and Galerius, 458.
  End of the persecutions, 463.
  Massacre of Christians in Phrygia, 464.
  Moral efficacy of the Christian sense of sin, ii. 3.
  Dark views of human nature not common in the early Church, 5.
  The penitential system, 6.
  Empire Christianity attained in eliciting disinterested enthusiasm, 8.
  Great purity of the early Christians, 10, 11.
  The promise of the Church for many centuries falsified, 12.
  The first consequence of Christianity a new sense of the sanctity of
              human life, 17.
  Influence in the protection of infant life, 20-32.
  In the suppression of gladiatorial shows, 34.
  Its effect upon persecutions, 40, _et seq._
  The penal code not lightened by it, 42.
  Condemnation of suicide, 43.
  Second consequence of Christianity Teaches universal brotherhood, 61.
  Slavery, 61-66.
  Ransom of captives, 72.
  Charity, 73.
  Exertions of the Christians in the cause of charity, 75, 79.
  Their exertions when the Empire was subverted, 81, 82, 88.
  Theological notions concerning insanity, 85-90.
  Almsgiving, 90-92.
  Beneficial effect of Christianity in supplying pure images to the
              imagination, 99.
  Summary of the philanthropic achievements of Christianity, 100.
  Ways in which the ascetic mode of life affected both the ideal type and
              realised condition of morals, 122, _et seq._
  History of the relations of Christianity to the civic virtues, 140.
  Improvements effected by Christianity in the morals of the people, 153.
  Attitude of Christianity to the barbarians, 178.
  How it achieved their conversion, 179-181.
  Tendency of the barbarians to adulterate it, 181.
  Legends of the conflict between the old gods and the new faith, 181.
  Fierce hatred of rival sects, and total destruction of religious
              liberty, 194, 200.
  Polytheistic and idolatrous form of Christianity in mediæval times, 229.
  The doctrine of purgatory, 232.
  Benefits conferred by the monasteries, 243-245.
  The observance of Sunday, 245.
  Influence of Christianity upon war, 254, 259.
  Upon the consecration of secular rank, 260, _et seq._
  Upon the condition of women, 316, _et seq._
  Strong assertion of the equality of obligation in marriage, 345, 346.
  Relation of Christianity to the female virtues, 358, _et seq._

Chrysippus on the immortality of the soul, i. 183

Chrysostom, St., his labours for monachism, ii. 107.
  His treatment of his mother, 132

Cicero on the evidence of a Divine element within us, i. 56, _note_.
  His definition of conscience, 83.
  His conception of the Deity, 164.
  His opinion of the popular beliefs, 165.
  Instance of his love of truth, 176, _note_.
  His desire for posthumous reputation, 185, _note_.
  His declaration as to virtue concealing itself from the world, 185.
  His belief in the immortality of the soul, 204.
  His view of death, 205, 206.
  His complacency on the approach of death, 207.
  His conception of suicide, 213.
  His maintenance of the doctrine of universal brotherhood, 240.
  How he regarded the games of the arena, 285.
  His friendship with his freedman Tiro, 323.
  His remarks on charity, ii. 79.
  His rules respecting almsgiving, 92

Circumcelliones, atrocities of the, ii. 41.
  Their custom of provoking martyrdom, 49

Civic virtues, predominance accorded to, in ancient ethics, i. 200

Civilisation, refining influence of, on taste, i. 79.
  Pleasures of a civilised and semi-civilised society compared, 86.
  Views of Mill and Buckle on the comparative influence of intellectual
              and moral agencies in, 102, _note_.
  Effect of education in diminishing cruelty, and producing charity, 134.
  Moral enthusiasm appropriate to different stages of civilisation, 136.
  Increase of veracity with civilisation, 137.
  Each stage of civilisation specially appropriate to some virtue, 147

Clarke, on moral judgments, i. 77

Classical literature, preservation of, ii. 199.
  Manner in which it was regarded by the Church, 200-204

Claudius, his delight in gladiatorial shows, i. 280.
  His decree as to slaves, 307

Claver, Father, his remark on some persons who had delivered a criminal
            into the hands of justice, i. 41, _note_

Cleanthes, his suicide, i. 212

Clemency, Seneca’s distinction between it and pity, i. 189

Clement of Alexandria, on the two sources of all the wisdom of antiquity,
            i. 344.
  On the Sibylline books, 376.
  On wigs, ii. 149

Clemens, Flavius, put to death, i. 433

Cleombrotus, his suicide, i. 212, _note_

Clergy, corruption of the, from the fourth century, ii. 150, 237.
  Submission of the Eastern, but independence of the Western, clergy to
              the civil power, 264-268.
  History of their celibacy, 328

Climate, effects of, in stimulating or allaying the passions, i. 144

Clotaire, his treatment of Queen Brunehaut, ii. 237

Clotilda, her conversion of her husband, i. 410; ii. 180

Clovis, his conversion, i. 410; ii. 180.
  Gregory of Tours’ account of his acts, 240, 241

Cock-fighting among the ancients and moderns, ii. 164, and _note_, 175,

Cock-throwing, ii. 164, _note_, 175, _note_

Coemgenus, St., legend of, ii. 111, _note_

Coleridge, S. T., his remarks on the practice of virtue as a pleasure, i.
            28, _note_.
  His admiration for Hartley, 28, _note_.
  On the binding ground of the belief of God and a hereafter, i. 55,

Colman, St., his animal companions, ii. 170.
  His girdle, 319, _note_

Colonies, Roman, the cosmopolitan spirit forwarded by the aggrandisement
            of the, i. 233

Colosseum, the, i. 275.
  Games at the dedication of the, 280

Columbanus, St., his missionary labours, ii. 246

Comedy, Roman, short period during which it flourished, i. 277

Comet, a temple erected by the Romans in honour of a, i. 367

Commodus, his treatment of the Christians, i. 443

Compassion, theory that it is the cause of our acts of barbarity, i. 71,

Concubines, Roman, ii. 350

Concupiscence, doctrine of the Fathers respecting, ii. 281

Condillac, cause of the attractiveness of utilitarianism to, i. 71.
  Connection with Locke, i. 122, _note_

Confessors, power of the, in the early Church, i. 390, and _note_

Congo, Helvétius, on a custom of the people of, i. 102, _note_

Conquerors, causes of the admiration of, i. 94, 95

Conscience, association of ideas generating, i. 28.
  Recognised by the disciples of Hartley, 29.
  Definitions of Hobbes, Locke, Bentham, and Bain, 29, _note_.
  The rewards and punishments of conscience, 60-62.
  Unique position of, in our nature, 83.
  As defined by Cicero, the Stoics, St. Paul, and Butler, 83

Consequences, remote, weakness of the utilitarian doctrine of, i. 42-44

“Consolations,” literature of, leading topics of, i. 204

Constantine, the Emperor, his foundation of the empire of the East, ii.
  His humane policy towards children, 29, 30.
  His sanction of the gladiatorial shows, 35.
  His laws mitigating the severity of punishments, 42.
  His treatment of slaves, 64.
  His law respecting Sunday, 244.
  Magnificence of his court at Constantinople, 265

Conventual system, effect of the suppression of the, on women, ii. 369

Cordeilla, or Cordelia, her suicide, ii. 53, _note_

Corinth, effect of the conquest of, on the decadence of Rome, i. 169

Cornelia, a vestal virgin, incident of her execution, ii. 318, _note_

Cornelius, the bishop, martyrdom of, i. 454

Cornutus, his disbelief in a future state, i. 183

Corporations, moral qualities of, i. 152

Councils of the Church, character of the, ii. 197, _note_

Courtesans, Greek, ii. 287.
  Causes of their elevation, 291-294.
  How regarded by the Romans, 300

Cousin, Victor, his criticism of the Scotch moralists, i. 74, _note_.
  His objection against Locke, 75, _note_

Crantor, originates the literature of “Consolations,” i. 204

Cremutius Cordus, trial of, i. 448, _note_

Crime, value attached by the monks to pecuniary compensations for, ii.
  Catalogue of crimes of the seventh century, 237-239

Criminals, causes of our indulgent judgment of, i. 135

Critical spirit, the, destroyed by Neoplatonism, i. 330

Cromaziano, his history of suicide, i. 216, _note_

Cruelty, origin and varieties of, i. 132, 134.
  Cruelty to animals, utilitarian doctrine concerning, 46, 47

Crusius, his adherence to the opinion of Ockham as to the foundation of
            the moral law, i. 17, _note_

Cudworth, his analysis of moral judgments, i. 76

Culagium, a tax levied on the clergy, ii. 330

Cumberland, Bishop, his unselfish view of virtue, i. 19, _note_

Cynics, account of the later, i. 309

Cyprian, St., his evasion of persecution by flight, i. 452.
  His exile and martyrdom, 455

Cyzicus deprived of its freedom, i. 259

Dæmons, Apuleius’ disquisition on the doctrine of, i. 323.
  The doctrine supersedes the Stoical naturalism, i. 331.
  The dæmons of the Greeks and Romans, 380.
  And of the Christians, 382

Dale, Van, his denial of the supernatural character of the oracles, i. 374

Dead, Roman worship of the, i. 168

Death, calmness with which some men of dull and animal natures can meet,
            i. 89.
  Frame of mind in which a man should approach death, according to
              Epictetus, 195.
  Preparation for death one of the chief ends of the philosophy of the
              ancients, 202.
  Bacon’s objection to the Stoics’ view of, 202.
  The Irish legend of the islands of life and death, 203.
  The literature of “Consolations,” 204.
  Death not regarded by the philosophers as penal, 205.
  Popular terrors of death, 205, 206.
  Instances of tranquil pagan deaths, 207.
  Distinctions between the pagan and Christian conceptions of death, 208

Decius, persecution of the Christians under, i. 449, 450

Defoe, Daniel, his tract against beggars, ii. 98, and _note_

Delphi, oracle of, its description of the best religion, i. 167

Deogratias, his ransom of prisoners, ii. 72

Despotism, Helvétius’ remarks on the moral effects of, i. 129, _note_

Diagoras, his denial of the existence of the gods, i. 162

Diodorus, the philosopher, his suicide, i. 215

Dion Chrysostom, his denunciation of images of the Deity, i. 166, 167,
  His life and works, 312

Dionysius of Halicarnassus, on the creed of the Romans, i. 167

Disinterestedness, Bentham’s remarks on, quoted, i. 32, _note_

Disposition, what constitutes, according to the theory of association, i.

Divination, a favourite subject of Roman ridicule, i. 166.
  Belief of the ancients in, 363

Divorce, unbounded liberty of, among the Romans, ii. 306-308.
  Condemned by the Church, 350, 351

Docetæ, their tenets, ii. 102

Dog-star, legend of the, ii. 162

Dolphin, legends of the, ii. 162, and _note_

Domestic laws, Roman, changes in, i. 297, 298

Domestic virtues, destruction of the, by the ascetics, ii. 125

Domitian, his law respecting suicide, i. 219.
  Anecdote of his cruelty, 289.
  His law as to slaves, 307.
  His persecution of the Stoics and Christians, 431, 432

Domitilla, banishment of, i. 433

Domnina, her suicide with her daughters, ii. 46

Donatists, their intolerance, ii. 195

Dowry of women, rise of the, ii. 277 and _note_

Dreams, opinions of the Romans concerning, i. 366, 367, _note_

Dumont, M., on vengeance quoted, i. 41, _note_

Duty, theory of morals must explain what is, and the notion of there being
            such a thing as, i. 5.
  Paley on the difference between it and prudence, 15, 16, _note_.
  Distinction between natural duties and those resting on positive law,
  Duty a distinct motive, 180

Dwarfs, combats of, in the arena, i. 281

Earthquakes, how regarded by the ancients, i. 369.
  Cause of persecutions of the Christians, 408

Easter controversy, bitterness of the, ii. 198

Eclectic school of philosophy, rise of the, i. 242.
  Its influence on the Stoics, 245

Eclipses, opinions of the ancients concerning, i. 366

Education, importance ascribed to, by the theory of the association of
            ideas, i. 30.
  Contrast between that adopted by the Catholic priesthood and that of the
              English public schools, 114.
  Its influence on the benevolent feelings, 133, 134.
  Two distinct theories of, 187

Egypt, the cradle of monachism, ii. 105.
  The Mohammedan conquest of, 143.
  Triumphs of the Catholics in, 196

Egyptians, their reverence for the vulture, i. 108, _note_.
  Their kindness to animals, 289.
  Contrast of the spirit of their religion with that of the Greeks, 324.
  Difference between the Stoical and Egyptian pantheism, 325

Elephants, legends of, ii. 161

Emperors, Roman, apotheosis of, i. 170, 257

Endura, the Albigensian practice of, ii. 49

England, national virtues and vices of, i. 153.
  Ancient amusements of, ii. 174, 175, _note_

Ephrem, St., his charity, ii. 81

Epictetus, his disbelief in a future state, i. 183.
  His life and works, 184, and _note_.
  On the frame of mind in which a man should approach death, 195.
  His views of the natural virtue of man, 198.
  On suicide, 214, _note_, 220.
  On universal brotherhood, 254.
  His stoicism tempered by a milder and more religious spirit, 245, 246.
  His remarks on national religious beliefs, 405

Epicureans, their faith preserved unchanged at Athens, i. 128, and _note_.
  Their scepticism, 162.
  Roman Epicureans, 162, 163.
  Epicureanism the expression of a type of character different from
              Stoicism, 171, 172.
  But never became a school of virtue in Rome, 175.
  Destructive nature of its functions, 176.
  Esteemed pleasure as the ultimate end of our actions, 186.
  Encouraged physical science, 193.
  Their doctrine as to suicide, 214, 215, _note_

Epicurus, the four canons of, i. 14.
  Vast place occupied by his system in the moral history of man, 171.
  His character, 175, 176, _note_.
  Lucretius’ praise of him, 197.
  His view of death, 205.
  Discovery of one of his treatises at Herculaneum, 205, _note_

Epidemics, theological notions respecting, i. 356

Epiphanius, St., his miraculous stories, i. 378.
  His charges against the Gnostics, 417.
  Legend of him and St. Hilarius, ii. 159

Epponina, story of her conjugal fidelity, ii. 342

Error, the notion of the guilt of, ii. 190-193

Essenes, virginity their ideal of sanctity, i. 109, ii. 102

Euhemerus, his explanation of the legends, i. 163

Euphrates the Stoic, his answer to Pliny the Younger, i. 202.
  Has permission from Hadrian to commit suicide, 218, _note_

Euphraxia, St., ii. 110

Euripides, beauty of the gentler virtues inculcated in the plays of, i.

Eusebius, on the allegorical and mythical interpretations of paganism, i.
            163, _note_.
  His account of the Christian persecutions, i. 463

Eusebius, St., his penances, ii. 108

Eustathius, condemnation of, by the council of Gangra, ii. 131

Evagrius, his inhumanity to his parents, ii. 125

Evil, views of Hobbes and the Utilitarians of the essence and origin of,
            i. 8-10

Excellence, supreme, how far it is conducive to happiness, i. 56

Excommunication, penalties of, ii. 7

Executioners, always regarded as unholy, i. 41

Exorcism, among the early Christians, i. 378, 380.
  Origin of the notions of possession and exorcism, 380.
  Jews the principal exorcists, 380.
  Belief of the early Christians in, 382.
  Contempt of the pagans for it, 384.
  Ulpian’s law against exorcists, 384.
  Probable explanation of possession and exorcism, 385.
  Speedy decline of exorcism, 385.
  The practice probably had no appreciable influence in provoking
              persecution of the Christians, 420

Experience, general statement of the doctrine which bases morals upon, i.

Fabianus, martyrdom of, i. 446

Fabiola, founded the first public hospital, ii. 80

Fabius, his self-sacrifice, i. 185

Fabius Pictor, his works written in Greek, i. 230

Faculty, moral, the term, i. 75

Fairies, belief in, i. 348, 349

Fatalism, Æschylus the poet of, i. 196

Felicitas, St., her martyrdom, i. 444.
  In prison, ii. 9

Fénelon, on the unselfish love we should bear to God, i. 18, _note_

Fetishism, latent, the root of a great part of our opinions, i. 350

Fidenæ, accident at the amphitheatre at, i. 275

Fights, sham, in Italy in the middle ages, ii. 37, 38

Fire, regarded by the ancients as an emblem of virginity, i. 108, _note_

Fish, symbol of the early Christians, i. 376

Flamens of Jupiter, ii. 298

Flora, games of, i. 276

Forethought, brought into a new position by industrial habits, i. 140

Foundlings, hospitals for, ii. 23, _note_, 32.
  In ancient times, 28, 29.
  Adversaries of, 98, and _note_

France, condition of, under the Merovingian kings, ii. 236, _note_

Francis of Assisi, St., story of his death from asceticism, ii. 49.
  His kindness to animals, 172

Franks, cause of their conversion, i. 410

Frédégonde, Queen, her crimes, ii. 236, 237

Freedmen, influence of, at Rome, i. 233.
  Condition of the freedmen of the Romans, 236

Frenchmen, the chief national virtues and causes of their influence in
            Europe, i. 152.
  Compared with Anglo-Saxon nations, 153

Friendship, Utilitarian view of, i. 10

Galerius, his persecution of the Christians, i. 458, 461.
  His illness, 462.
  Relents towards the Christians, 462

Galilæans, their indifference to death, i. 392, _note_

Gall, St., legend of, ii. 182.
  His missionary labours, 247

Gallienus, proclaims toleration to the Christians, i. 455, 457

Gallus, the Emperor, persecutions of the Christians under, i. 454

Gambling-table, moral influence of the, i. 148

Gaul, introduction of Christianity into, i. 442.
  Foundation of the monastic system in, ii. 106.
  Long continuance of polygamy among the kings of, 343

Gay, his view of the origin of human actions, quoted, i. 8, _note_.
  His suggestion of the theory of association, 23, 24

Genseric, effect of his conquest of Africa upon Italy, ii. 82.
  His capture of Rome, 83

George of Cappadocia, his barbarity, ii. 195

Germanicus, the Emperor, fury of the populace with the gods, in
            consequence of the death of, i. 169

Germanus, St., his charity, ii. 245

Germany, conversion of, to Christianity, ii. 246.
  Marriage customs of the early Germans, 278.
  Their chastity, 340, 341

Gervasius, St., recovery of his remains, i. 379.

Girdles of chastity, ii. 319, _note_

Gladiatorial shows, influence of Christianity on the suppression of, i.
  Reasons why the Romans saw nothing criminal in them, 101.
  History and effect on the Romans of, 271-283.
  How regarded by moralists and historians, 284.
  The passion for them not inconsistent with humanity in other spheres,

Gnostics, accusations against the, by the early Fathers, i. 417.
  Their tenets, ii. 102

God, the Utilitarian view of the goodness of, i. 9, and _note_.
  Question of the disinterestedness of the love we should bear to, 18.
  Our knowledge of Him derived from our own moral nature, 55.
  Early traces of an all-pervading soul of nature in Greece, 161, 162,
  Philosophic definitions of the Deity, 162, _note_.
  Pantheistic conception of, by the Stoics and Platonists, 163.
  Recognition of Providence by the Roman moralists, 196.
  Two aspects under which the Stoics worshipped the Divinity—providence
              and moral goodness, 198

Gods, the, of the ancients, i. 161, _et seq._
  Euhemerus’ theory of the explanation of the prevailing legends of the
              gods, 163.
  Views of Cicero of the popular beliefs, 165.
  Opinions of the Stoics, of Ovid, and of Horace, 166.
  Nature of the gods of the Romans, 167.
  Decline of Roman reverence for the gods, 168, 169

Good, pleasure equivalent to, according to the Utilitarians, i. 8, _note_,

Gracchi, colonial policy of the, i. 233

Grazers, sect of, ii. 109

Greeks, ancient, their callous murder of children, i. 45, 46.
  Low state of female morality among them.
  Their enforcement of monogamy, 104.
  Celibacy of some of their priests and priestesses, 105.
  Early traces of a religion of nature, 161.
  Universal providence attributed to Zeus, 161.
  Scepticism of the philosophers, 161, 162.
  Importance of biography in the moral teaching of the, i. 74.
  Difference between the teaching of the Roman moralists and the Greek
              poets, 195.
  On death, and future punishment, 205, 206.
  Greek suicides, 212.
  Gentleness and humanity of the Greek character, 227.
  Influence on Roman character, 227, 228.
  The Greek spirit at first as far removed from cosmopolitanism as that of
              Rome, 228.
  Causes of Greek cosmopolitanism, 229.
  Extent of Greek influence at Rome, 230.
  Gladiatorial shows among them, 276.
  Spirit of their religion contrasted with that of the Egyptians, 324.
  Their intolerance of foreign religions, 406.
  Condition and fall of their empire of the East, ii. 12-14.
  Their practice of infanticide, 25-27.
  Their treatment of animals, 164.
  Their treatment of prisoners taken in war, 257, 258.
  Their marriage customs, 277.
  Women in the poetic age, 278.
  Peculiarity of Greek feelings on the position of women, 280, 281.
  Unnatural forms assumed by vice amongst them, 294

Gregory the Great, his contempt for Pagan literature, ii. 201, _note_.
  His attitude towards Phocas, 264

Gregory of Nyssa, St., his eulogy of virginity, ii. 322

Gregory of Tours, manner in which he regarded events, ii. 240-242, 261,

Grotesque, or eccentric, pleasure derived from the, compared with that
            from beauty, i. 85

Gundebald, his murders approved of by his bishop, ii. 237

Gunpowder, importance of the invention of, i. 126

Guy, Brother, his society for protection and education of children, ii.
            33, and _note_

Hadrian, the Emperor, his view of suicide, i. 219.
  Gives Euphrates permission to destroy himself, 218, _note_.
  His laws respecting slaves, 307.
  His leniency towards Christianity, 438.
  His benevolence, ii. 77

Hair, false, opinions of the Fathers on, ii. 149

Hall, Robert, on theological Utilitarianism, i. 15 _note_

“Happiness, the greatest, for the greatest number,” theory of the, i. 3.
  The sole end of human actions, according to the Utilitarians, 8, _note_.
  The best man seldom the happiest, 69.
  Mental compared with physical happiness, 87.
  Influence of health and temperament on happiness, 88, and _note_

Hartley, his doctrine of association, i. 22.
  Coleridge’s admiration for him, 28, _note_.
  On animal food, 48, _note_.
  His attempt to evade the conclusion to which his view leads, quoted, 67,
  His definition of conscience, 82

Hegesias, the orator of death, i. 215

Heliogabalus, his blasphemous orgies, i. 260

Hell, monkish visions of, ii. 221 and _note_.
  Glimpses of the infernal regions furnished by the “Dialogues” of St.
              Gregory, 221.
  Modern publications on this subject, 223, _note_

Helvétius, on the origin of human actions, i. 8, _note_.
  On customs of the people of Congo and Siam, 102, _note_.
  Compared with Aulus Gellius, 313

Herbert, of Cherbury, Lord, his profession of the doctrine of innate
            ideas, i. 123

Hercules, meaning of, according to the Stoics, i. 163

Hereford, Nicholas of, his opposition to indiscriminate alms, ii. 96

Heresy, punishment of death for, i. 98; ii. 40

Hermits. _See_ Asceticism; Monasticism

Heroism, the Utilitarian theory unfavourable to, i. 66.
  War, the school of heroism, 173

Hilarius, St., legend of him and St. Epiphanius, ii. 159

Hildebrand, his destruction of priestly marriage, ii. 322

Hippopotamus, legend of the, ii. 161

Historical literature, scantiness of, after the fall of the Roman empire,
            ii. 235

Hobbes, Thomas, his opinions concerning the essence and origin of virtue,
            i. 7, 8, _note_.
  His view of the origin of human actions, quoted, 8, _note_.
  His remarks on the goodness which we apprehend in God, quoted, 9,
  And on reverence, 9, _note_.
  On charity, 9, 10, _note_.
  On pity, 10, _note_.
  Review of the system of morals of his school, 11.
  Gives the first great impulse to moral philosophy in England, 19,
  His denial of the reality of pure benevolence, 20, 21.
  His definition of conscience, 29, _note_.
  His theory of compassion, 72, _note_

Holidays, importance of, to the servile classes, ii. 244

Homer, his views of human nature and man’s will, i. 196

Horace, his ridicule of idols, i. 166.
  His description of the just man, 197

Hospitality enjoined by the Romans, ii. 79

Hospitals, foundation of the first, ii. 80, 81

Human life, its sanctity recognised by Christianity, ii. 18.
  Gradual acquirement of this sense, 18

Human nature, false estimate of, by the Stoics, i. 192

Hume, David, his theory of virtue, i. 4.
  Misrepresented by many writers, 4.
  His recognition of the reality of benevolence in our nature, 20, and
  His comment on French licentiousness in the eighteenth century, 50,
  His analysis of the moral judgments, 76.
  Lays the foundation for a union of the schools of Clarke and
              Shaftesbury, 77

Humility, new value placed upon it by monachism, ii. 185, 187

Hutcheson, Francis, his doctrine of a “moral sense,” i. 4.
  Establishes the reality of the existence of benevolence in our nature,
  His analysis of moral judgments, 76

Hypatia, murder of, ii. 196

Iamblichus, his philosophy, i. 330

Ideas, confused association of. Question whether our, are derived
            exclusively from sensation or whether they spring in part from
            the mind itself, 122.
  The latter theory represented by the Platonic doctrine of pre-existence,
  Doctrine of innate ideas, 122

Idols and idolatry, views of the Roman philosophers of, i. 166.
  Discussion between Apollonius of Tyana and an Egyptian priest
              respecting, 166, _note_.
  Idols forbidden by Numa, 166, _note_.
  Plutarch on the vanity of, 166, _note_

Ignatius, St., his martyrdom, i. 438

Ignis fatuus, legend of the, ii. 224, _note_

Imagination, sins of, i. 44.
  Relation of the benevolent feelings to it, 132, 133.
  Deficiency of imagination the cause of the great majority of
              uncharitable judgments, 134-136.
  Feebleness of the imagination a source of legends and myths, 347.
  Beneficial effects of Christianity in supplying pure images to the
              imagination, 299

Imperial system of the Romans, its effect on their morals, i. 257.
  Apotheosis of the emperors, 257

India, ancient, admiration for the schools of, i. 229

Inductive, ambiguity of the term, as applied to morals, i. 73

Industrial truth, characteristics of, i. 137.
  Influence of the promotion of industrial life upon morals, 139-140

Infanticide, history of the practice of, ii. 24.
  Efforts of the Church to suppress it, 29.
  Roman laws relating to, 31.
  Causes of, in England, 285

Infants, Augustinian doctrine of the damnation of unbaptised, i. 96.
  The Sacrament given to, in the early Church, ii. 6

Insanity, alleged increase of, ii. 60.
  Theological notions concerning, 86.
  The first lunatic asylums, 88

Insurance societies among the poor of Greece and Rome, ii. 78

Intellectual progress, its relations to moral progress, i. 149-151

Interest, self-, human actions governed exclusively by, according to the
            Utilitarians, i. 7, 8, _note_.
  Summary of the relations of virtue and public and private, 117

Intuition, rival claims of, and utility to be regarded as the supreme
            regulator of moral distinctions, i. 1, 2.
  Various names by which the theory of intuition is known, 2, 3.
  Views of the moralists of the school of, 3.
  Summary of their objections to the Utilitarian theory, i. 69.
  The intuitive school, 74, 75.
  Doctrines of Butler, Adam Smith, and others, 76-77.
  Analogies of beauty and virtue, 77.
  Distinction between the higher and lower parts of our nature, 83.
  Moral judgments, and their alleged diversities, 91.
  General moral principles alone revealed by intuition, 99.
  Intuitive morals not unprogressive, 102, 103.
  Difficulty of both the intuitive and utilitarian schools in finding a
              fixed frontier line between the lawful and the illicit, 116,
  The intuitive and utilitarian schools each related to the general
              condition of society, 122.
  Their relations to metaphysical schools, 123, 124.
  And to the Baconian philosophy, 125.
  Contrasts between ancient and modern civilisations, 126, 127.
  Practical consequences of the opposition between the two schools, 127

Inventions, the causes which accelerate the progress of society in modern
            times, i. 126

Ireland, why handed over by the Pope to England, ii. 217

Irenæus, his belief that all Christians had the power of working miracles,
            i. 378

Irish, characteristics of the, i. 138.
  Their early marriages and national improvidences, 146.
  Absence of moral scandals among the priesthood, 146.
  Their legend of the islands of life and death, 203.
  Their missionary labours, ii. 246.
  Their perpendicular burials, 253

Isidore, St., legend of, ii. 205

Isis, worship of, at Rome, i. 387.
  Suppression of the worship, 402

Italians, characteristics of the, i. 138, 144

Italy, gigantic development of mendicancy in, ii. 98.
  Introduction of monachism into, 106

James, the Apostle, Eusebius’ account of him, ii. 105

James, St., of Venice, his kindness to animals, ii. 172

Jenyns, Soame, his adherence to the opinion of Ockham, i. 17, _note_

Jerome, St., on exorcism, i. 382.
  On the clean and unclean animals in the ark, ii. 104.
  Legend of, 115.
  Encouraged inhumanity of ascetics to their relations, 134.
  His legend of SS. Paul and Antony, 158

Jews, their law regulating marriage and permitting polygamy, i. 103.
  Their treatment of suicides, 218, _note_.
  Influence of their manners and creed at Rome, 235, 337.
  Became the principal exorcists, 380, 381, _note_.
  Spread of their creed in Rome, 386.
  Reasons why they were persecuted less than the Christians, 402, 407.
  How regarded by the pagans, and how the Christians were regarded by the
              Jews, 415.
  Charges of immorality brought against the Christians by the Jews, 417.
  Domitian’s taxation of them, 432.
  Their views of the position of women, ii. 337

Joffre, Juan Gilaberto, his foundation of a lunatic asylum in Valencia,
            ii. 89

John, St., at Patmos, i. 433

John, St., of Calama, story of, ii. 128

John XXIII., Pope, his crimes, ii. 331

Johnson, Dr., his adherence to the opinion of Ockham, i. 17, _note_

Julian, the Emperor, his tranquil death, i. 207, and _note_.
  Refuses the language of adulation, 259.
  His attempt to resuscitate paganism, 331.
  Attitude of the Church towards him, ii. 261.
  Joy at his death, 262

Julien l’Hospitalier, St., legend of, ii. 84, _note_

Jupiter Ammon, fountain of, deemed miraculous, i. 366, and _note_

Justinian, his laws respecting slavery, ii. 65

Justin Martyr, his recognition of the excellence of many parts of the
            pagan writings, i. 344.
  On the “seminal logos,” 344.
  On the Sibylline books, 376.
  Cause of his conversion to Christianity, 415.
  His martyrdom, 441

Juvenal, on the natural virtue of man, i. 197

Kames, Lord, on our moral judgments, i. 77.
  Notices the analogies between our moral and æsthetical judgments, 77

King’s evil, ceremony of touching for the, i. 363, _note_

Labienus, his works destroyed, i. 448, _note_

Lactantius, character of his treatise, i. 463

Lætorius, story of, i. 259

Laughing condemned by the monks of the desert, ii. 115, _note_

Law, Roman, its relation to Stoicism, i. 294, 295.
  Its golden age not Christian, but pagan, ii. 42

Lawyers, their position in literature, i. 131, _note_

Legacies forbidden to the clergy, ii. 151.
  Power of making bequests to the clergy enlarged by Constantine, 215

Leibnitz, on the natural or innate powers of man, i. 121, _note_

Leo the Isaurian, Pope, his compact with Pepin, ii. 266

Leonardo da Vinci, his kindness to animals, ii. 172, _note_

Licentiousness, French, Hume’s comments on, i. 50, _note_.

Locke, John, his view of moral good and moral evil, i. 8, _note_.
  His theological utilitarianism, 16, _note_.
  His view of the sanctions of morality, 19.
  His invention of the phrase “association of ideas,” 23.
  His definition of conscience, 29, _note_.
  Cousin’s objections against him, 75, _note_.
  His refutation of the doctrine of a natural moral sense, 123, 124.
  Rise of the sensual school out of his philosophy, 123, _note_.
  Famous formulary of his school, 124

Lombard, Peter, character of his “Sentences,” ii. 226.
  His visions of heaven and hell, 228

Longinus, his suicide, i. 219

Love terms Greek, in vogue with the Romans, i. 231, _note_

Lucan, failure of his courage under torture, i. 194.
  His sycophancy, 194.
  His cosmopolitanism, 240

Lucius, the bishop, martyrdom of, i. 454

Lucretius, his scepticism, i. 162.
  His disbelief in the immortality of the soul, i. 182, _note_.
  His praise of Epicurus, 197.
  His suicide, 215.
  On a bereaved cow, ii. 165

Lunatic asylums, the first, ii. 89

Luther’s wife, her remark on the sensuous creed she had left, i. 52

Lyons, persecution of the Christians at, i. 441

Macarius, St., miracle attributed to, ii. 40, _note_.
  His penances, 108, 109.
  Legend of his visit to an enchanted garden, 158.
  Other legends of him, 158, 159, 170, 220

Macedonia, effect of the conquest of, on the decadence of Rome, i. 169

Mackintosh, Sir James, theory of morals advocated by, i. 4.
  Fascination of Hartley’s doctrine of association over his mind, 29

Macrianus, persuades the Emperor Valerian to persecute the Christians, i.

Macrina Cælia, her benevolence to children, ii. 77

Magdalen asylums, adversaries of, ii. 98, and _note_

Mallonia, virtue of, ii. 309

Malthus, on charity, ii. 92, _note_

Mandeville, his “Enquiry into the Origin of Moral Virtue.” His thesis that
            “private vices are public benefits,” i. 7.
  His opposition to charity schools, ii. 98

Manicheans, their tenets, ii. 102.
  Their prohibition of animal food, 167

Manilius, his conception of the Deity, i. 163

Manufactures, influence upon morals, i. 139

Marcellinus, Tullius, his self-destruction, i. 222

Marcia, mistress of Commodus, her influence in behalf of toleration to the
            Christians, i. 443

Marcian, St., legend of the visit of St. Avitus to him, ii. 159

Marcus, St., story of, and his mother, ii. 128

Marriage, how regarded by the Jews, Greeks, Romans, and Catholics, i. 103,
  Statius’ picture of the first night of marriage, 107, _note_.
  Reason why the ancient Jews attached a certain stigma to virginity, 109.
  Conflict of views of the Catholic priest and the political economist on
              the subject of early marriages, 114.
  Results in some countries of the difficulties with which legislators
              surround marriage, 144.
  Early marriages the most conspicuous proofs of Irish improvidence, 144.
  Influence of asceticism on, ii. 320.
  Notions of its impurity, 324.
  Second marriages, 324

Marseilles, law of, respecting suicide, i. 218, _note_.
  Epidemic of suicide among the women of, ii. 55

Martial, sycophancy of his epigrams, i. 194

Martin of Tours, St., establishes monachism in Gaul, ii. 106

Martyrdom, glories of, i. 390.
  Festivals of the Martyrs, 390, _note_.
  Passion for, 391.
  Dissipation of the people at the festivals, ii. 150

Mary, St., of Egypt, ii. 110

Mary, the Virgin, veneration of, ii. 367, 368, 390

Massilians, wine forbidden to women by the, i. 96, _note_

Maternal affection, strength of, ii. 25, _note_

Maurice, on the social penalties of conscience, i. 60, _note_

Mauricus, Junius, his refusal to allow gladiatorial shows at Vienna, i.

Maxentius, instance of his tyranny, ii. 46

Maximilianus, his martyrdom, ii. 248

Maximinus, Emperor, his persecution of the Christians, i. 446

Maximus of Tyre, account of him and his discourses, i. 312.
  His defence of the ancient creeds, 323.
  Practical form of his philosophy, 329

Medicine, possible progress of, i. 158, 159

Melania, St., her bereavement, ii. 10.
  Her pilgrimage through the Syrian and Egyptian hermitages, 120

Milesians, wine forbidden by the, to women, i. 94, _note_

Military honour pre-eminent among the Romans, i. 172, 173.
  History of the decadence of Roman military virtue, 268

Mill, J., on association, 25, _note_, _et seq._

Mill, J. S., quoted, i. 29, 47, 90, 102

Minerva, meaning of, according to the Stoics, i. 163

Miracles, general incredulity on the subject of, at the present time, i.
            346, 348.
  Miracles not impossible, 347.
  Established by much evidence, 347.
  The histories of them always decline with education, 348.
  Illustration of this in the belief in fairies, 348.
  Conceptions of savages, 349.
  Legends, formation and decay of, 350-352.
  Common errors in reasoning about miracles, 356.
  Predisposition to the miraculous in some states of society, 362.
  Belief of the Romans in miracles, 363-367.
  Incapacity of the Christians of the third century for judging historic
              miracles, 375.
  Contemporary miracles believed in by the early Christians, 378.
  Exorcism, 378.
  Neither past nor contemporary Christian miracles had much weight upon
              the pagans, 378

Missionary labours, ii. 246

Mithra, worship of, in Rome, i. 386

Mohammedans, their condemnation of suicide, ii. 53.
  Their lunatic asylums, 89.
  Their religion, 251.
  Effects of their military triumphs on Christianity, 252

Molinos, his opinion on the love we should bear to God, condemned, i. 18,

Monastic system, results of the Catholic monastic system, i. 107.
  Suicide of monks, ii. 52.
  Exertions of the monks in the cause of charity, 84.
  Causes of the monastic movement, 102.
  History of the rapid propagation of it in the West, 183.
  New value placed by it on obedience and humility, 185, 269.
  Relation of it to the intellectual virtues, 188.
  The monasteries regarded as the receptacles of learning, 199.
  Fallacy of attributing to the monasteries the genius that was displayed
              in theology, 208.
  Other fallacies concerning the services of the monks, 208-212.
  Value attached by monks to pecuniary compensations for crime, 213.
  Causes of their corruption, 217.
  Benefits conferred by the monasteries, 243

Monica, St., i. 94, _note_

Monogamy, establishment of, ii. 372

Monophysites, the cause, to some extent, of the Mohammedan conquest of
            Egypt, ii. 143

Montanists, their tenets, ii. 102

Moral distinctions, rival claims of intuition and utility to be regarded
            as the supreme regulators of, i. 1

Moral judgments, alleged diversities of, i. 91.
  Are frequently due to intellectual causes, 92.
  Instances of this in usury and abortion, 92.
  Distinction between natural duties and others resting on positive law,
  Ancient customs canonised by time, 93.
  Anomalies explained by a confused association of ideas, 94, 95.
  Moral perceptions overridden by positive religions, 95.
  Instances of this in transubstantiation and the Augustinian and
              Calvinistic doctrines of damnation, 96, 97.
  General moral principles alone revealed by intuition, 99.
  The moral unity of different ages a unity not of standard but of
              tendency, 100.
  Application of this theory to the history of benevolence, 100.
  Reasons why acts regarded in one age as criminal are innocent in
              another, 101.
  Views of Mill and Buckle on the comparative influence of intellectual
              and moral agencies in civilisation, 102, 103, _note_.
  Intuitive morals not unprogressive, 102, 103.
  Answers to miscellaneous objections against the theory of natural moral
              perceptions, 109.
  Effect of the condition of society on the standard, but not the essence,
              of virtue, 110.
  Occasional duty of sacrificing higher duties to lower ones, 110, _et
  Summary of the relations of virtue and public and private interest, 117.
  Two senses of the word natural, 119

Moral law, foundation of the, according to Ockham and his adherents, i.
            17, _note_.
  Various views of the sanctions of morality, 19.
  Utilitarian theological sanctions, 53.
  The reality of the moral nature the one great question of natural
              theology, 56.
  Utilitarian secular sanctions, 57.
  The Utilitarian theory subversive of morality, 66.
  Plausibility and danger of theories of unification in morals, 72.
  Our knowledge of the laws of moral progress nothing more than
              approximate or general, 136

“Moral sense,” Hutcheson’s doctrine of a, i. 4

Moral system, what it should be, to govern society, i. 194

Morals, each of the two schools of, related to the general condition of
            society, i. 122.
  Their relations to metaphysical schools, 123, 124.
  And to the Baconian philosophy, 125.
  Contrast between ancient and modern civilisations, 125-127.
  Causes that lead societies to elevate their moral standard, and
              determine their preference of some particular kind of
              virtues, 130.
  The order in which moral feelings are developed, 130.
  Danger in proposing too absolutely a single character as a model to
              which all men must conform, 155.
  Remarks on moral types, 156.
  Results to be expected from the study of the relations between our
              physical and moral nature, 158.
  Little influence of Pagan religions on morals, 161

More, Henry, on the motive of virtue, i. 76

Musonius, his suicide, i. 220

Mutius, history of him and his son, ii. 125

Mysticism of the Romans, causes producing, i. 318

Myths, formation of, i. 351

Naples, mania for suicide at, ii. 55

Napoleon, the Emperor, his order of the day respecting suicide, i. 219,

Nations, causes of the difficulties of effecting cordial international
            friendships, i. 156

Natural moral perceptions, objections to the theory of, i. 116.
  Two senses of the word natural, 118.
  Reid, Sedgwick, and Leibnitz on the natural or innate powers of man,
              121, _note_.
  Locke’s refutation of the doctrine of a natural moral sense, 124

Neoplatonism, account of, i. 325.
  Its destruction of the active duties and critical spirit, 329

Neptune, views of the Stoics of the meaning of the legends of, i. 163.
  His statue solemnly degraded by Augustus, 169

Nero, his singing and acting, i. 259.
  His law about slaves, 307.
  His persecution of the Christians, 429

Newman, Dr., on venial sin, i. 111, and _note_ on pride, ii. 188

Nicodemus, apocryphal gospel of, ii. 221

Nilus, St., deserts his family, ii. 322

Nitria, number of anchorites in the desert of, ii. 105

Nolasco, Peter, his works of mercy, ii. 73.
  His participation in the Albigensian massacres, 95

Novatians, their tenets, ii. 102

Numa, legend of his prohibition of idols, i. 166, _note_

Oath, sanctity of an, among the Romans, i. 168

Obedience, new value placed on it by monachism, ii. 185, 186, 269

Obligation, nature of, i. 64, 65

Ockham, his opinion of the foundation of the moral law, i. 17, and _note_

Odin, his suicide, ii. 53

O’Neale, Shane, his charity, ii. 96

Opinion, influence of character on, i. 171, 172

Oracles, refuted and ridiculed by Cicero, i. 165.
  Plutarch’s defence of their bad poetry, 165, _note_.
  Refusal of Cato and the Stoics to consult them, 165.
  Ridiculed by the Roman wits, 166.
  Answer of the oracle of Delphi as to the best religion, 167.
  Theory of the oracles in the ’De Divinatione’ of Cicero, 368, and
  Van Dale’s denial of their supernatural character, 374.
  Books of oracles burnt under the republic and empire, 447, and _note_

Origen, his desire for martyrdom, i. 391

Orphanotrophia, in the early Church, ii. 32

Otho, the Emperor, his suicide, i. 219.
  Opinion of his contemporaries of his act, 219, _note_

Ovid, object of his “Metamorphoses,” i. 166.
  His condemnation of suicide, 213, and _note_.
  His humanity to animals, ii. 165

Oxen, laws for the protection of, ii. 162

Oxyrinchus, ascetic life in the city of, ii. 105

Pachomius, St., number of his monks, ii. 105

Pætus and Arria, history of, ii. 310

Pagan religions, their feeble influence on morals, i. 161

Pagan virtues, the, compared with Christian, i. 190

Paiderastia, the, of the Greeks, ii. 294

Pain, equivalent to evil, according to the Utilitarians, i. 8, _note_

Palestine, foundation of monachism in, ii. 106.
  Becomes a hot-bed of debauchery, 152

Paley, on the obligation of virtue, i. 14, _note_.
  On the difference between an act of prudence and an act of duty, 16,
  On the love we ought to bear to God, 18, _note_.
  On the religious sanctions of morality, 19.
  On the doctrine of association, 25, _note_.
  On flesh diet, 49, _note_.
  On the influence of health on happiness, 88, _note_.
  On the difference in pleasures, 90, _note_

Pambos, St., story of, ii. 116, _note_

Pammachus, St., his hospital, ii. 80

Panætius, the founder of the Roman Stoics, his disbelief in the
            immortality of the soul, i. 183

Pandars, punishment of, ii. 316

Parents, reason why some savages did not regard their murder as criminal,
            i. 101

Parthenon, the, at Athens, i. 105

Pascal, his advocacy of piety as a matter of prudence, i. 17, _note_.
  His adherence to the opinion of Ockham as to the foundation of the moral
              law, 17, _note_.
  His thought on the humiliation created by deriving pleasure from certain
              amusements, i. 86, _note_

Patriotism, period when it flourished, i. 136.
  Peculiar characteristic of the virtue, 177, 178.
  Causes of the predominance occasionally accorded to civic virtues, 200.
  Neglect or discredit into which they have fallen among modern teachers,
  Cicero’s remarks on the duty of every good man, 201.
  Unfortunate relations of Christianity to patriotism, ii. 140.
  Repugnance of the theological to the patriotic spirit, 145

Paul, St., his definition of conscience, i. 83

Paul, the hermit, his flight to the desert, ii. 102.
  Legend of the visit of St. Antony to him, 158

Paul, St. Vincent de, his foundling hospitals, ii. 34

Paula, story of her asceticism and inhumanity, ii. 133, 134

Paulina, her devotion to her husband, ii. 310

Pelagia, St., her suicide, ii. 46.
  Her flight to the desert, 121, and _note_

Pelagius, ii. 223

Pelican, legend of the, ii. 161

Penances of the saints of the desert, ii. 107, _et seq._

Penitential system, the, of the early church, ii. 6, 7

Pepin, his compact with Pope Leo, ii. 267

Peregrinus the Cynic, his suicide, i. 220

Pericles, his humanity, i. 228

Perpetua, St., her martyrdom, i. 391, 444; ii. 317

Persecutions, Catholic doctrines justifying, i. 98.
  Why Christianity was not crushed by them, 395.
  Many causes of persecution, 395-397.
  Reasons why the Christians were more persecuted than the Jews, 403, 406,
  Causes of the persecutions, 406, _et seq._
  History of the persecutions, 429.
  Nero, 429.
  Domitian, 431.
  Trajan, 437.
  Marcus Aurelius, 439, 440.
  From M. Aurelius to Decius, 442, _et seq._
  Gallus, 454.
  Valerian, 454.
  Diocletian and Galerius, 458-463.
  End of the persecutions, 463.
  General considerations on their history, 463-468

Petronian law, in favour of slaves, i. 307

Petronius, his scepticism, i. 162.
  His suicide, 215.
  His condemnation of the show of the arena, 286

Philip the Arab, his favour to Christianity, i. 445

Philosophers, efforts of some, to restore the moral influence of religion
            among the Romans, i. 169.
  The true moral teachers, 171

Philosophical truth, characteristics of, i. 139, 140.
  Its growth retarded by the opposition of theologians, 140

Philosophy, causes of the practical character of most ancient, i. 202.
  Its fusion with religion, 352.
  Opinions of the early Church concerning the pagan writings, 332.
  Difference between the moral teaching of a philosophy and that of a
              religion, ii. 1.
  Its impotency to restrain vice, 4

Phocas, attitude of the Church towards him, ii. 263

Phocion, his gentleness, i. 228

Physical science affects the belief in miracles, i. 354, 355

Piety, utilitarian view of the causes of the pleasures and pains of, i. 9,
            and _note_.
  A matter of prudence, according to theological Utilitarianism, 16

Pilate, Pontius, story of his desire to enrol Christ among the Roman gods,
            i. 429

Pilgrimages, evils of, ii. 152

Pior, St., story of, ii. 129

Pirates, destruction of, by Pompey, i. 234

Pity, a form of self-love, according to some Utilitarians, i. 9, 10,
  Adam Smith’s theory, 10, _note_.
  Seneca’s distinction between it and clemency, 189.
  Altar to Pity at Athens, 228.
  History of Marcus Aurelius’ altar to Beneficentia at Rome, 228, _note_

Plato, his admission of the practice of abortion, i. 92.
  Basis of his moral system, 105.
  Cause of the banishment of the poets from his republic, 161, 162.
  His theory that vice is to virtue what disease is to health, 179, and
  Reason for his advocacy of community of wives, 200.
  His condemnation of suicide, 212, and _note_.
  His remarks on universal brotherhood, 241.
  His inculcation of the practice of self-examination, 248

Platonic school, its ideal, i. 322

Platonists, their more or less pantheistic conception of the Deity, i.
  Practical nature of their philosophy, 329.
  The Platonic ethics ascendant in Rome, 331

Pleasure the only good, according to the Utilitarians, i. 7.
  Illustrations of the distinction between the higher and lower parts of
              our nature in our pleasures, 83-85.
  Pleasures of a civilised compared with those of a semi-civilised
              society, 86.
  Comparison of mental and physical pleasures, 87, 88.
  Distinction in kind of pleasure, and its importance in morals, 89-91.
  Neglected or denied by Utilitarian writers, 89, _note_

Pliny, the elder, on the probable happiness of the lower animals, i. 87,
  On the Deity, 164.
  On astrology, 171, and _note_, 164, _note_.
  His disbelief in the immortality of the soul, 182.
  His advocacy of suicide, 215.
  Never mentions Christianity, 336.
  His opinion of earthquakes, 369.
  And of comets, 369.
  His facility of belief, 370.
  His denunciation of finger rings, ii. 148

Pliny, the younger, his desire for posthumous reputation, i. 185, _note_.
  His picture of the ideal of Stoicism, 186.
  His letter to Trajan respecting the Christians, 437.
  His benevolence, 242; ii. 77

Plotinus, his condemnation of suicide, i. 214.
  His philosophy, 330

Plutarch, his defence of the bad poetry of the oracles, 165, _note_.
  His mode of moral teaching, 175.
  Basis of his belief in the immortality of the soul, 204.
  On superstitious fear of death, 206.
  His letter on the death of his little daughter, 242.
  May justly be regarded as the leader of the eclectic school, 243.
  His philosophy and works compared with those of Seneca, 243.
  His treatise on “The Signs of Moral Progress,” 249.
  Compared and contrasted with Marcus Aurelius, 253.
  How he regarded the games of the arena, 286.
  His defence of the ancient creeds, 322.
  Practical nature of his philosophy, 329.
  Never mentions Christianity, 336.
  His remarks on the domestic system of the ancients, 419.
  On kindness to animals, ii. 165, 166.
  His picture of Greek married life, 289

Pluto, meaning of, according to the Stoics, i. 163

Po, miracle of the subsidence of the waters of the, i. 382, _note_

Pœmen, St., story of, and of his mother, ii. 129.
  Legend of him and the lion, 169

Political economy, what it has accomplished respecting almsgiving, ii. 90

Political judgments, moral standard of most men in, lower than in private
            judgments, i. 151

Political truth, or habit of “fair play,” the characteristic of free
            communities, i. 139.
  Highly civilised form of society to which it belongs, 139.
  Its growth retarded by the opposition of theologians, 140

Polybius, his praise of the devotion and purity of creed of the Romans, i.

Polycarp, St., martyrdom of, i. 441

Polygamy, long continuance of, among the kings of Gaul, ii. 343

Pompeii, gladiatorial shows at, i. 276, _note_

Pompey, his destruction of the pirates, i. 234.
  His multiplication of gladiatorial shows, 273

Poor-law system, elaboration of the, ii. 96.
  Its pernicious results, 97, 99, 105

Poppæa, Empress, a Jewish proselyte, i. 386

Porcia, heroism of, ii. 309

Porphyry, his condemnation of suicides, i. 214.
  His description of philosophy, i. 326.
  His adoption of Neoplatonism, i. 330

Possevin, his exposure of the Sibylline books, i. 377

Pothinus, martyrdom of, i. 442

Power, origin of the desire of, i. 23, 26

Praise, association of ideas leading to the desire for even posthumous, i.

Prayer, reflex influence upon the minds of the worshippers, i. 36

Preachers, Stoic, among the Romans, i. 308, 309

Pride, contrasted with vanity, i. 195.
  The leading moral agent of Stoicism, i. 195

Prometheus, cause of the admiration bestowed upon, i. 35

Prophecies, incapacity of the Christians of the third century for judging
            prophecies, i. 376

Prophecy, gift of, attributed to the vestal virgins of Rome, i. 107.
  And in India to virgins, 107, _note_

Prosperity, some crimes conducive to national, i. 58

Prostitution, ii. 282-286.
  How regarded by the Romans, 314

Protagoras, his scepticism, i. 162

Protasius, St., miraculous discovery of his remains, i. 379

Prudentius, on the vestal virgins at the gladiatorial shows, i. 291

Purgatory, doctrine of, ii. 232-235

Pythagoras, sayings of, i. 53.
  Chastity the leading virtue of his school, 106.
  On the fables of Hesiod and Homer, 161.
  His belief in an all-pervading soul of nature, 162.
  His condemnation of suicide, 212.
  Tradition of his journey to India, 229, _note_.
  His inculcation of the practice of self-examination, 248.
  His opinion of earthquakes, 369.
  His doctrine of kindness to animals, ii. 165

Quakers, compared with the early Christians, ii. 12, and _note_

Quintilian, his conception of the Deity, i. 164

Rank, secular, consecration of, ii. 260, _et seq_

Rape, punishment for, ii. 316

Redbreast, legend of the, ii. 224, _note_

Regulus, the story of, i. 212

Reid, basis of his ethics, i. 76.
  His distinction between innate faculties evolved by experience and
              innate ideas independent of experience, 121, _note_

Religion, theological utilitarianism subverts natural, i. 54-56.
  Answer of the oracle of Delphi as to the best, 167.
  Difference between the moral teaching of a philosophy and that of a
              religion, ii. 1.
  Relations between positive religion and moral enthusiasm, 141

Religions, pagan, their small influence on morals, i. 161.
  Oriental, passion for, among the Romans, 318

Religious liberty totally destroyed by the Catholics, ii. 194-199

Repentance for past sin, no place for, in the writings of the ancients, i.

Reputation, how valued among the Romans, i. 185, 186

Resurrection of souls, belief of the Stoics in the, i. 164

Revenge, Utilitarian notions as to the feeling of, i. 41, and _note_.
  Circumstances under which private vengeance is not regarded as criminal,
              i. 101

Reverence, Utilitarian views of, i. 9, and _note_.
  Causes of the diminution of the spirit of, among mankind, 141, 142

Rhetoricians, Stoical, account of the, of Rome, i. 310

Ricci, his work on Mendicancy, ii. 98

Rochefoucauld La, on pity, quoted, i. 10, _note_.
  And on friendship, 10, 11, _note_

Rogantianus, his passive life, i. 330

Roman law, its golden age not Christian, but pagan, ii. 42

Romans, abortion how regarded by the, i. 92.
  Their law forbidding women to taste wine, 93, 94, _note_.
  Reasons why they did not regard the gladiatorial shows as criminal, 101.
  Their law of marriage and ideal of female morality, 104.
  Their religious reverence for domesticity, 106.
  Sanctity of, and gifts attributed to, their vestal virgins, 106.
  Character of their cruelty, 134.
  Compared with the modern Italian character in this respect, 134.
  Scepticism of their philosophers, 162-167.
  The religion of the Romans never a source of moral enthusiasm, 167.
  Its characteristics, 168.
  Causes of the disappearance of the religious reverence of the people,
  Efforts of some philosophers and emperors to restore the moral influence
              of religion, 169.
  Consummation of Roman degradation, 170.
  Belief in astrological fatalism, 170, 171.
  The stoical type of military and patriotic enthusiasm pre-eminently
              Roman, 172-174, 178.
  Importance of biography in their moral teaching, 178.
  Epicureanism never became a school of virtue among them, 175.
  Unselfish love of country of the Romans, 178.
  Character of Stoicism in the worst period of the Roman Empire, 181.
  Main features of their philosophy, 185, _et seq._
  Difference between the Roman moralists and the Greek poets, 195.
  The doctrine of suicide the culminating point of Roman Stoicism, 222.
  The type of excellence of the Roman people, 224, 225.
  Contrast between the activity of Stoicism and the luxury of Roman
              society, 225, 226.
  Growth of a gentler and more cosmopolitan spirit in Rome, 227.
  Causes of this change, 228, _et seq._
  Extent of Greek influence at Rome, 228.
  The cosmopolitan spirit strengthened by the destruction of the power of
              the aristocracy, 231, 232.
  History of the influence of freedmen in the state, 233.
  Effect of the aggrandisement of the colonies, the attraction of many
              foreigners to Rome, and the increased facilities for
              travelling, on the cosmopolitan spirit, 233, _et seq._
  Foreigners among the most prominent of Latin writers, 235.
  Results of the multitudes of emancipated slaves, 235, 236.
  Endeavours of Roman statesmen to consolidate the empire by admitting the
              conquered to the privileges of the conquerors, 238.
  The Stoical philosophy quite capable of representing the cosmopolitan
              spirit, 239.
  Influence of eclectic philosophy on the Roman Stoics, 244.
  Life and character of Marcus Aurelius, 249-255.
  Corruption of the Roman people, 255.
  Causes of their depravity, 256.
  Decadence of all the conditions of republican virtue, 256.
  Effects of the Imperial system on morals, 257-261.
  Apotheosis of the emperors, 257.
  Moral consequences of slavery, 262.
  Increase of idleness and demoralising employments, 262.
  Increase also of sensuality, 263.
  Destruction of all public spirit, 264.
  The interaction of many states which in new nations sustains national
              life prevented by universal empire, 264.
  The decline of agricultural pursuits, 265.
  And of the military virtues, 268.
  History and effects of the gladiatorial shows, 271.
  Other Roman amusements, 276.
  Effects of the arena upon the theatre, 277.
  Nobles in the arena, 283.
  Effects of Stoicism on the corruption of society, 291.
  Roman law greatly extended by it, 294.
  Change in the relation of Romans to provincials, 297.
  Changes in domestic legislation, 297.
  Roman slavery, 300-308.
  The Stoics as consolers, advisers, and preachers, 308.
  The Cynics and rhetoricians, 309, 310.
  Decadence of Stoicism in the empire, 317.
  Causes of the passion for Oriental religions, 318-320.
  Neoplatonism, 325.
  Review of the history of Roman philosophy, 332-335.
  History of the conversion of Rome to Christianity, 336.
  State of Roman opinion on the subject of miracles, 365.
  Progress of the Jewish and Oriental religions in Rome, 386, 387.
  The conversion of the Roman empire easily explicable, 393.
  Review of the religious policy of Rome, 397.
  Its division of religion into three parts, according to Eusebius, 403.
  Persecutions of the Christians, 406, _et seq._
  Antipathy of the Romans to every religious system which employed
              religious terrorism, 420.
  History of the persecutions, 429.
  General sketch of the moral condition of the Western Empire, ii. 14.
  Rise and progress of the government of the Church of Rome, 14, 15.
  Roman practice of infanticide, 27.
  Relief of the indigent, 73.
  Distribution of corn, 74.
  Exertions of the Christians on the subversion of the empire, 82.
  Inadequate place given to this movement, 85.
  Horrors caused by the barbarian invasions prevented to some extent by
              Christian charity, 81-84.
  Influence of Christianity in hastening the fall of the empire, 140, 141.
  Roman treatment of prisoners of war, 256-258.
  Despotism of the pagan empire, 260.
  Condition of women under the Romans, 297.
  Their concubines, 350

Rome, an illustration of crimes conducive to national prosperity, i. 58,
  Conversion of, 336.
  Three popular errors concerning its conversion, 339.
  Capture of the city by the barbarians, ii. 82

Romuald, St., his treatment of his father, ii. 135

Rope-dancing of the Romans, i. 291

Sabinus, Saint, his penances, ii. 108

Sacrament, administration of the, in the early Church, ii. 6

Salamis, Brutus’ treatment of the citizens of, i. 194

Sallust, his stoicism and rapacity, i. 194

Sanctuary, right of, accorded to Christian churches, ii. 40

Savage, errors into which the deceptive appearances of nature doom him, i.
  First conceptions formed of the universe, 349.
  The ethics of savages, 120, 121

Scepticism of the Greek and Roman philosophers, i. 162-166.
  Influence of, on intellectual progress, ii. 193

Scholastica, St., the legend of, ii. 136, _note_

Scifi, Clara, the first Franciscan nun, ii. 135

Sectarian animosity, chief cause of, i. 134

Sedgwick, Professor, on the expansion of the natural or innate powers of
            men, i. 121, _note_

Sejanus, treatment of his daughter by the senate, i. 107, _note_

Self-denial, the Utilitarian theory unfavourable to, i. 66

Self-examination, history of the practice of, i. 247-249

Self-sacrifice, asceticism the great school of, ii. 155

Seneca, his conception of the Deity, i. 163, _note_, 164.
  His distinction between the affections and diseases, 189, _note_.
  And between clemency and pity, 189.
  His virtues and vices, i. 194.
  On the natural virtue of man and power of his will, 197.
  On the Sacred Spirit dwelling in man, 198.
  On death, 205.
  His tranquil end, 207.
  Advocates suicide, 213, 220.
  His description of the self-destruction of a friend, 222.
  His remarks on universal brotherhood, 241.
  His stoical hardness tempered by new doctrines, 244.
  His practice of self-examination, 248.
  His philosophy and works compared with those of Plutarch, 243, 244.
  How he regarded the games of the arena, 286.
  His exhortations on the treatment of slaves, 306.
  Never mentions Christianity, 336.
  Regarded in the middle ages as a Christian, 340.
  On religious beliefs, 405

Sensuality, why the Mohammedans people Paradise with images of, i. 108.
  Why some pagans deified it, 108.
  Fallacy of judging the sensuality of a nation by the statistics of its
              illegitimate births, 144.
  Influence of climate upon public morals, 144.
  Of large towns, 145.
  And of early marriages, 146.
  Absence of moral scandals among the Irish priesthood, 146, 147.
  Speech of Archytas of Tarentum on the evils of, 200, _note_.
  Increase of sensuality in Rome, 263.
  Abated by Christianity, ii. 153.
  The doctrine of the Fathers respecting concupiscence, 281.

Serapion, the anthropomorphite, i. 52.
  Number of his monks, ii. 105.
  His interview with the courtesan, 320

Sertorius, his forgery of auspicious omens, i. 166.

Severus, Alexander, refuses the language of adulation, i. 259.
  His efforts to restore agricultural pursuits, 267.
  Murder of, 444.
  His leniency towards Christianity, 444.
  His benevolence, ii. 77

Severus, Cassius, exile of, i. 448, _note_

Severus, Septimus, his treatment of the Christians, i. 443

Sextius, his practice of self-examination, i. 248

Shaftesbury, maintains the reality of the existence of benevolence in our
            nature, i. 20.
  On virtue, 76, 77

Sibylline books, forged by the early Christians, i. 376, 377

Silius Italicus, his lines commemorating the passion of the Spanish Celts
            for suicide, i. 207, _note_.
  His self-destruction, 221

Silvia, her filthiness, ii. 110

Simeon, Bishop of Jerusalem, his martyrdom, i. 438

Simeon Stylites, St., his penance, ii. 111.
  His inhumanity to his parents, ii. 130

Sin, the theological doctrine on the subject, i. 111, 112.
  Conception of sin by the ancients, 195.
  Original, taught by the Catholic Church, 209, 210.
  Examination of the Utilitarian doctrine of the remote consequences of
              secret sins, 43, 44

Sisoes, the abbot, stories of, ii. 126, 127

Sixtus, Bishop of Rome, his martyrdom, i. 455

Sixtus V., Pope, his efforts to suppress mendicancy, ii. 97

Slavery, circumstances under which it has been justified, i. 101.
  Origin of the word servus, 102, _note_.
  Crusade of England against, 153.
  Character of that of the Romans, 235.
  Moral consequence of slavery, 262.
  Three stages of slavery at Rome, 300.
  Review of the condition of slaves, 300-306.
  Opinion of philosophers as to slavery, 306.
  Laws enacted in favour of slaves, 306.
  Effects of Christianity upon the institution of slavery, ii. 61.
  Consecration of the servile virtue, 68.
  Impulse given to manumission, 70.
  Serfdom in Europe, 70, 71, _note_.
  Extinction of slavery in Europe, 71.
  Ransom of captives, 72

Smith, Adam, his theory of pity, quoted, i. 10, _note_.
  His recognition of the reality of benevolence in our nature, 20.
  His analysis of moral judgment, 76

Smyrna, persecution of the Christians at, i. 441

Socrates, his view of death, i. 205.
  His closing hours, 207.
  His advice to a courtesan, ii. 296

Soul, the immortality of the, resolutely excluded from the teaching of the
            Stoics, i. 181.
  Character of their first notions on the subject, 182.
  The belief in the reabsorption of the soul in the parent Spirit, 183.
  Belief of Cicero and Plutarch in the immortality of the, 204.
  But never adopted as a motive by the Stoics, 204.
  Increasing belief in the, 331.
  Vague belief of the Romans in the, 168

Sospitra, story of, i. 373

Spain, persecution of the Christians in, i. 461.
  Almost complete absence of infanticide in, ii. 25, _note_.
  The first lunatic asylums in Europe established in, 89, 90

Spaniards, among the most prominent of Latin writers, i. 235.
  Their suicides, ii. 54

Spartans, their intense patriotism, i. 178.
  Their legislature continually extolled as a model, 201.
  Condition of their women, ii. 290

Spinoza, his remark on death, i. 203
  Anecdote of him, 289

Staël, Madame de, on suicide, ii. 59

Statius, on the first night of marriage, i. 107, _note_

Stewart, Dugald, on the pleasures of virtue, i. 32, _note_

Stilpo, his scepticism and banishment, i. 162.
  His remark on his ruin, 191.

Stoics, their definition of conscience, i. 83.
  Their view of the animation of the human fœtus, 92.
  Their system of ethics favourable to the heroic qualities, 128.
  Historical fact in favour of the system, 128.
  Their belief in an all-pervading soul of nature, 162.
  Their pantheistic conception of the Deity, 163.
  Their conception and explanation of the prevailing legends of the gods,
  Their opinion as to the final destruction of the universe by fire, and
              the resuscitation of souls, 164.
  Their refusal to consult the oracles, 165.
  Stoicism the expression of a type of character different from
              Epicureanism, 172.
  Rome pre-eminently the home of Stoicism, 172.
  Account of the philosophy of the Stoics, 177.
  Its two essentials—the unselfish ideal and the subjugation of the
              affections to the reason, 177.
  The best example of the perfect severance of virtue and interest, 181.
  Their views concerning the immortality of the soul, 182-184.
  Taught men to sacrifice reputation, and do good in secret, 186.
  And distinguished the obligation from the attraction of virtue, 186.
  Taught also that the affections must be subordinate to the reason,
  Their false estimate of human nature, 192.
  Their love of paradox, 192.
  Imperfect lives of many eminent Stoics, 193.
  Their retrospective tendencies, 193.
  Their system unfitted for the majority of mankind, 194.
  Compared with the religious principle, 195.
  The central composition of this philosophy, the dignity of man, 195.
  High sense of the Stoics of the natural virtue of man, and of the power
              of his will, 195, 196.
  Their recognition of Providence, 196.
  The two aspects under which they worshipped God, 198.
  The Stoics secured from quietism by their habits of public life,
  Their view of humanity, 202.
  Their preparations for, and view of, death, 202.
  Their teaching as to suicide, 212, 213, _et seq._
  Contrast between Stoicism and Roman luxury, 225, 226.
  The Stoical philosophy quite capable of representing the cosmopolitan
              spirit, 239, 240.
  Stoicism not capable of representing the softening movement of
              civilisation, 241.
  Influence of the eclectic spirit on it, 244.
  Stoicism becomes more essentially religious, 245.
  Increasingly introspective character of later Stoicism, 247.
  Marcus Aurelius the best example of later Stoicism, 249-255.
  Effects of Stoicism on the corruption of Roman Society, 291, 292.
  It raised up many good Emperors, 292.
  It produced a noble opposition under the worst Emperors, 293.
  It greatly extended Roman law, 294.
  The Stoics considered as the consolers of the suffering, advisers of the
              young, and as popular preachers, 308.
  Rapid decadence of Stoicism, 317, 318.
  Difference between the Stoical and Egyptian pantheism, 324.
  Stoical naturalism superseded by the theory of dæmons, 331.
  Theory that the writings of the Stoics were influenced by Christianity
              examined, 332.
  Domitian’s persecution of them, 432

Strozzi, Philip, his suicide, ii. 56

Suffering, a courageous endurance of, probably the first form of virtue in
            savage life, i. 130

Suicide, attitude adopted by Pagan philosophy and Catholicism towards, i.
            211, _et seq._
  Eminent suicides, 215.
  Epidemic of suicides at Alexandria, 216.
  And of girls at Miletus, 216, _note_.
  Grandeur of the Stoical ideal of suicide, 216.
  Influences conspiring towards suicide, 217.
  Seneca on self-destruction, 217, 218, 220.
  Laws respecting it, 218, _note_.
  Eminent instances of self-destruction, 219, 221.
  The conception of, as an euthanasia, 221.
  Neoplatonist doctrine concerning, 331.
  Effect of the Christian condemnation of the practice of, ii. 43-61.
  Theological doctrine on, 45, _note_.
  The only form of, permitted in the early Church, 47.
  Slow suicides, 48.
  The Circumcelliones, 49.
  The Albigenses, 49.
  Suicides of the Jews, 50.
  Treatment of corpses of suicides, 50.
  Authorities for the history of suicides, 50, _note_.
  Reaction against the mediæval laws on the subject, 51.
  Later phases of its history, 54.
  Self-destruction of witches, 54.
  Epidemics of insane suicide, 55.
  Cases of legitimate suicide, 55.
  Suicide in England and France, 58

Sunday, importance of the sanctity of the, ii. 244.
  Laws respecting it, 245

Superstition, possibility of adding to the happiness of man by the
            diffusion of, i. 50-53.
  Natural causes which impel savages to superstition, i. 55.
  Signification of the Greek word for, 205

Swan, the, consecrated to Apollo, i. 206

Sweden, cause of the great number of illegitimate births in, i. 144

Swinburne, Mr., on annihilation, i. 182, _note_

Symmachus, his Saxon prisoners, i. 287

Synesius, legend of him and Evagrius, ii. 214.
  Refuses to give up his wife, 332

Syracuse, gladiatorial shows at, i. 275

Tacitus, his doubts about the existence of Providence, i. 171, _note_

Telemachus, the monk, his death in the arena, ii. 37

Telesphorus, martyrdom of, i. 446, _note_

Tertia Æmilia, story of, ii. 313

Tertullian, his belief in dæmons, i. 382.
  And challenge to the Pagans, 383

Testament, Old, supposed to have been the source of pagan writings, i. 344

Thalasius, his hospital for blind beggars, ii. 81

Theatre, scepticism of the Romans extended by the, i. 170.
  Effects of the gladiatorial shows upon the, 277

Theft, reasons why some savages do not regard it as criminal, i. 102.
  Spartan law legalising it, 102

Theodebert, his polygamy, ii. 343

Theodoric, his court at Ravenna, ii. 201, 202, _note_

Theodorus, his denial of the existence of the gods, i. 162

Theodorus, St., his inhumanity to his mother, ii. 128

Theodosius the Emperor, his edict forbidding gladiatorial shows, ii. 36.
  Denounced by the Ascetics, 139.
  His law respecting Sunday, 245

Theological utilitarianism, theories of, i. 14-17

Theology, sphere of inductive reasoning in, 357

Theon, St., legend of, and the wild beasts, ii. 168

Theurgy rejected by Plotinus, i. 330.
  All moral discipline resolved into, by Iamblichus, 330

Thrace, celibacy of societies of men in, i. 106

Thrasea, mildness of his Stoicism, i. 245

Thrasea and Aria, history of, ii. 311

Thriftiness created by the industrial spirit, i. 140

Tiberius the Emperor, his images invested with a sacred character, i. 260.
  His superstitions, 367, and _note_

Timagenes, exiled from the palace by Tiberius, i. 448, _note_

Titus, the Emperor, his tranquil end, i. 207.
  Instance of his amiability, 287

Tooth-powder, Apuleius’ defence of, ii. 148

Torments, future, the doctrine of, made by the monks a means of extorting
            money, ii. 216.
  Monastic legends of, 220

Tragedy, effects of the gladiatorial shows upon, among the Romans, i. 277

Trajan, the Emperor, his gladiatorial shows, i. 287.
  Letter of Pliny to, respecting the Christians, 437.
  Trajan’s answer, 437.
  His benevolence to children, ii. 77.
  Legend of St. Gregory and the Emperor, 223

Transmigration of souls, doctrine of, of the ancients, ii. 166

Travelling, increased facilities for, of the Romans, i. 234

Trinitarian monks, their works of mercy, ii. 73

Troubadours, one of their services to mankind, ii. 232

’Truce of God,’ importance of the, ii. 254

Truth, possibility of adding to the happiness of men by diffusing abroad,
            or sustaining, pleasing falsehoods, i. 52.
  Saying of Pythagoras, 53.
  Growth of, with civilisation, 137.
  Industrial, political, and philosophical, 137-140.
  Relation of monachism to the abstract love of truth, ii. 189.
  Causes of the mediæval decline of the love of truth, 212

Tucker, his adoption of the doctrine of the association of ideas, i. 25,

Turks, their kindness to animals, i. 289

Types, moral, i. 156.
  All characters cannot be moulded in one type, 158

Ulpian on suicide, i. 218, _note_
  Unselfishness of the Stoics, i. 177

Usury, diversities of moral judgment respecting, i. 92

Utilitarian school. _See_ Morals; Virtue; Vice

Utility, rival claims of, and intuition to be regarded as the supreme
            regulators of moral distinctions, i. 1, 2.
  Various names by which the theory of utility is known, 3.
  Views of the moralists of the school of, 3, _et seq._

Valerian, his persecutions of the Christians, i. 454

Valerius Maximus, his mode of moral teaching, i. 174

Vandals, their conquest of Africa, ii. 150

Varro, his conception of the Deity, i. 163.
  On popular religious beliefs, 167

Venus, effect of the Greek worship of, on the condition of women, ii. 291,

Vespasian, his dying jest, i. 259.
  Effect of his frugality on the habits of the Romans, 292.
  Miracle attributed to him, 347.
  His treatment of philosophers, 448, _note_

Vice, Mandeville’s theory of the origin of, i. 7.
  And that “private vices were public benefits,” 7.
  Views of the Utilitarians as to, 12.
  The degrees of virtue and vice do not correspond to the degrees of
              utility, or the reverse, 40-42.
  The suffering caused by vice not proportioned to its criminality, 57-59.
  Plato’s ethical theory of virtue and vice, 179.
  Grote’s summary of this theory, 179, _note_.
  Conception of the ancients of sin, 195.
  Moral efficacy of the Christian sense of sin, ii. 3, 4

Virgil, his conception of the Deity, i. 163.
  His epicurean sentiment, 193, _note_.
  On suicide, 213.
  His interest in animal life, ii. 165

Virginity, how regarded by the Greeks, i. 105.
  Æschylus’ prayer to Athene, 105.
  Bees and fire emblems of virginity, 108, _note_.
  Reason why the ancient Jews attached a certain stigma to virginity, 109.
  Views of Essenes, 109

Virgins, Vestal, sanctity and gifts attributed to the, i. 106, 107, and
  Executions of, 407, and _note_.
  Reasons for burying them alive, ii. 41.
  How regarded by the Romans, 297

Virtue, Hume’s theory of the criterion, essential element, and object of,
            i. 4.
  Motive to virtue according to the doctrine which bases morals upon
              experience, 6.
  Mandeville’s the lowest and most repulsive form of this theory, 6, 7.
  Views of the essence and origin of virtue adopted by the school of
              Utilitarians, 7-9.
  Views of the Utilitarians of, 12.
  Association of ideas in which virtue becomes the supreme object of our
              affections, 27.
  Impossibility of virtue bringing pleasure if practised only with that
              end, 35, 36.
  The utility of virtue not denied by intuitive moralists, 39.
  The degrees of virtue and vice do not correspond to the degrees of
              utility, or the reverse, 53.
  The rewards and punishments of conscience, 59, 60.
  The self-complacency of virtuous men, 64, 65, and _note_.
  The motive to virtue, according to Shaftesbury and Henry More, 76.
  Analogies of beauty and virtue, 77.
  Their difference, 78.
  Diversities existing in our judgments of virtue and beauty, 79, 80.
  Virtues to which we can and cannot apply the term beautiful, 82.
  The standard, though not the essence, of virtue, determined by the
              condition of society, 109.
  Summary of the relations of virtue to public and private interest, 117.
  Emphasis with which the utility of virtue was dwelt upon by Aristotle,
  Growth of the gentler virtues, 132.
  Forms of the virtue of truth, industrial, political, and philosophical,
  Each stage of civilisation is specially appropriate to some virtue, 147.
  National virtues, 151.
  Virtues, naturally grouped together according to principles of affinity
              or congruity, 153.
  Distinctive beauty of a moral type, 154.
  Rudimentary virtues differing in different ages, nations, and classes,
              154, 155.
  Four distinct motives leading men to virtue, 178-180.
  Plato’s fundamental proposition that vice is to virtue what disease is
              to health, 179.
  Stoicism the best example of the perfect severance of virtue and
              self-interest, 181.
  Teachings of the Stoics that virtue should conceal itself from the
              world, 186.
  And that the obligation should be distinguished from the attraction of
              virtue, 186.
  The eminent characteristics of pagan goodness, 190.
  All virtues are the same, according to the Stoics, 192.
  Horace’s description of a just man, 197.
  Interested and disinterested motives of Christianity to virtue, ii. 3.
  Decline of the civic virtues caused by asceticism, 139.
  Influence of this change on moral philosophy, 146.
  The importance of the civic virtues exaggerated by historians, 147.
  Intellectual virtues, 188.
  Relation of monachism to these virtues, 189, _et seq._

Vitalius, St., legend of, and the courtesan, ii. 320

Vivisection, ii. 176.
  Approved by Bacon, 176, _note_

Volcanoes, how regarded by the early monks, ii. 221

Vultures, why made an emblem of nature by the Egyptians, i. 108, _note_

War, its moral grandeur, i. 95.
  The school of the heroic virtues, 173.
  Difference between foreign and civil wars, 232.
  Antipathy of the early Christians to a military life, ii. 248.
  Belief in battle being the special sphere of Providential interposition,
  Effects of the military triumphs of the Mohammedans, 251.
  Influences of Christianity upon war considered, 254.
  Improved condition of captives taken in war, 256

Warburton, on morals, i. 15, _note_, 17, _note_

Waterland, on the motives to virtue and cause of our love of God, quoted,
            i. 9, _note_, 15, _note_

Wealth, origin of the desire to possess, i. 23.
  Associations leading to the desire for, for its own sake, 25

Western Empire, general sketch of the moral condition of the, ii. 14

Widows, care of the early Church for, ii. 366

Will, freedom of the human, sustained and deepened by the ascetic life,
            ii. 123

Wine, forbidden to women, i. 93, 94, _note_

Witchcraft, belief in the reality of, i. 363.
  Suicide common among witches, ii. 54

Wollaston, his analysis of moral judgments, i. 76

Women, law of the Romans forbidding women to taste wine, i. 93, 94,
  Standards of female morality of the Jews, Greeks, and Romans, 103, 104.
  Virtues and vices growing out of the relations of the sexes, 143.
  Female virtue, 143.
  Effects of climate on this virtue, 144.
  Of large towns, 146.
  And of early marriages, 145.
  Reason for Plato’s advocacy of community of wives, 200.
  Plutarch’s high sense of female excellence, 244.
  Female gladiators at Rome, 281, and _note_.
  Relations of female devotees with the anchorites, ii. 120, 128, 150.
  Their condition in savage life, 276.
  Cessation of the sale of wives, 276.
  Rise of the dowry, 277.
  Establishment of monogamy, 278.
  Doctrine of the Fathers as to concupiscence, 281.
  Nature of the problem of the relations of the sexes, 282.
  Prostitution, 282-284.
  Recognition in Greece of two distinct orders of womanhood—the wife and
              the hetæra, 287.
  Condition of Roman women, 297, _et seq._
  Legal emancipation of women in Rome, 304.
  Unbounded liberty of divorce, 306.
  Amount of female virtue in Imperial Rome, 308-312.
  Legislative measures to repress sensuality, 312.
  To enforce the reciprocity of obligation in marriage, 312.
  And to censure prostitution, 315.
  Influence of Christianity on the position of women, 316, _et seq._
  Marriages, 320.
  Second marriages, 324.
  Low opinion of women, produced by asceticism, 338.
  The canon law unfavourable to their proprietary rights, 338, 339.
  Barbarian heroines and laws, 341-344.
  Doctrine of equality of obligation in marriage, 346.
  The duty of man towards woman, 347.
  Condemnation of transitory connections, 350.
  Roman concubines, 351.
  The sinfulness of divorce maintained by the Church, 350-353.
  Abolition of compulsory marriages, 353.
  Condemnation of mixed marriages, 353, 354.
  Education of women, 355.
  Relation of Christianity to the female virtues, 358.
  Comparison of male and female characteristics, 358.
  The Pagan and Christian ideal of woman contrasted, 361-363.
  Conspicuous part of woman in the early Church, 363-365.
  Care of widows, 367.
  Worship of the Virgin, 368, 369.
  Effect of the suppression of the conventual system on women, 369.
  Revolution going on in the employments of women, 373

Xenocrates, his tenderness, ii. 163

Xenophanes, his scepticism, i. 162

Xenophon, his picture of Greek married life, ii. 288

Zadok, the founder of the Sadducees, i. 183, _note_

Zeno, vast place occupied by his system in the moral history of man, i.
  His suicide, 212.
  His inculcation of the practice of self-examination, 248

Zeus, universal providence attributed by the Greeks to, i. 161


    1 There is a remarkable passage of Celsus, on the impossibility of
      restoring a nature once thoroughly depraved, quoted by Origen in his
      answer to him.

    2 This is well shown by Pressensé in his _Hist. des Trois premiers

    3 See a great deal of information on this subject in Bingham’s
      _Antiquities of the Christian Church_ (Oxford, 1853), vol. v. pp.
      370-378. It is curious that those very noisy contemporary divines
      who profess to resuscitate the manners of the primitive Church, and
      who lay so much stress on the minutest ceremonial observances, have
      left unpractised what was undoubtedly one of the most universal, and
      was believed to be one of the most important, of the institutions of
      early Christianity. Bingham shows that the administration of the
      Eucharist to infants continued in France till the twelfth century.

    4 See Cave’s _Primitive Christianity_, part i. ch. xi. At first the
      Sacrament was usually received every day; but this custom soon
      declined in the Eastern Church, and at last passed away in the West.

    5 Plin. _Ep._ x. 97.

    6 The whole subject of the penitential discipline is treated minutely
      in Marshall’s _Penitential Discipline of the Primitive Church_
      (first published in 1714, and reprinted in the library of
      Anglo-Catholic Theology), and also in Bingham, vol. vii. Tertullian
      gives a graphic description of the public penances, _De Pudicit._ v.

    7 Eusebius, _H. E._ viii, 7.

    8 St. Chrysostom tells this of St. Babylas. See Tillemont, _Mém. pour
      servir à l’Hist. eccl._ tome iii. p. 403.

    9 In the preface to a very ancient Milanese missal it is said of St.
      Agatha that as she lay in the prison cell, torn by the instruments
      of torture, St. Peter came to her in the form of a Christian
      physician, and offered to dress her wounds; but she refused, saying
      that she wished for no physician but Christ. St. Peter, in the name
      of that Celestial Physician, commanded her wounds to close, and her
      body became whole as before. (Tillemont, tome iii. p. 412.)

   10 See her acts in Ruinart.

   11 St. Jerome, _Ep._ xxxix.

   12 “Definitio brevis et vera virtutis: ordo est amoris.”—_De Civ. Dei_,
      xv. 22.

   13 Besides the obvious points of resemblance in the common, though not
      universal, belief that Christians should abstain from all weapons
      and from all oaths, the whole teaching of the early Christians about
      the duty of simplicity, and the wickedness of ornaments in dress
      (see especially the writings of Tertullian, Clemens Alexandrinus,
      and Chrysostom, on this subject), is exceedingly like that of the
      Quakers. The scruple of Tertullian (_De Coronâ_) about Christians
      wearing laurel wreaths in the festivals, because laurel was called
      after Daphne, the lover of Apollo, was much of the same kind as that
      which led the Quakers to refuse to speak of Tuesday or Wednesday,
      lest they should recognise the gods Tuesco or Woden. On the other
      hand, the ecclesiastical aspects and the sacramental doctrines of
      the Church were the extreme opposites of Quakerism.

   14 See the masterly description of the relations of the English to the
      Irish in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, in Froude’s _History of
      England_, ch. xxiv.; and also Lord Macaulay’s description of the
      feelings of the Master of Stair towards the Highlanders. (_History
      of England_, ch. xviii.)

   15 See on the views of Aristotle, Labourt, _Recherches historiques sur
      les Enfanstrouvés_ (Paris, 1848), p. 9.

   16 See Gravina, _De Ortu et Progressu Juris Civilis_, lib. i. 44.

   17 “Nunc uterum vitiat quæ vult formosa videci,
      Raraque in hoc ævo est, quæ velit esse parens.”

      Ovid, _De Nuce_, 22-23.

      The same writer has devoted one of his elegies (ii. 14) to
      reproaching his mistress Corinna with having been guilty of this
      act. It was not without danger, and Ovid says,

      “Sæpe suos utero quæ necit ipsa perit.”

      A niece of Domitian is said to have died in consequence of having,
      at the command of the emperor, practised it (Sueton. _Domit._
      xxii.). Plutarch notices the custom (_De Sanitate tuenda_), and
      Seneca eulogises Helvia (_Ad Helv._ xvi.) for being exempt from
      vanity and having never destroyed her unborn offspring. Favorinus,
      in a remarkable passage (Aulus Gellius, _Noct. Att._ xii. 1), speaks
      of the act as “publica detestatione communique odio dignum,” and
      proceeds to argue that it is only a degree less criminal for mothers
      to put out their children to nurse. Juvenal has some well-known and
      emphatic lines on the subject:—

      “Sed jacet aurato vix ulla puerpera lecto;
      Tantum artes hujus, tantum medicamina possunt,
      Quæ steriles facit, atque homines in ventre necandos

      _Sat._ vi. 592-595.

      There are also many allusions to it in the Christian writers. Thus
      Minucius Felix (_Octavius_, xxx.): “Vos enim video procreatos filios
      nunc feris et avibus exponere, nunc adstrangulatos misero mortis
      genere elidere. Sunt quæ in ipsis visceribus, medicaminibus epotis,
      originem futuri hominis extinguant, et parricidium faciant antequam

   18 See Labourt, _Recherches sur les Enfans trouvés_, p. 25.

   19 Among the barbarian laws there is a very curious one about a daily
      compensation for children who had been killed in the womb on account
      of the daily suffering of those children in hell. “Propterea
      diuturnam judicaverunt antecessores nostri compositionem et judices
      postquam religio Christianitatis inolevit in mundo. Quia diuturnam
      postquam incarnationem suscepit anima, quamvis ad nativitatis lucem
      minima pervenisset, patitur pœnam, quia sine sacramento
      regenerationis abortivo modo tradita est ad inferos.”—_Leges
      Bajuvariorum_, tit. vii. cap. xx. in Canciani, _Leges Barbar._ vol.
      ii. p. 374. The first foundling hospital of which we have undoubted
      record is that founded at Milan, by a man named Datheus, in A.D.
      789. Muratori has preserved (_Antich. Ital._ Diss. xxxvii.) the
      charter embodying the motives of the founder, in which the following
      sentences occur: “Quia frequenter per luxuriam hominum genus
      decipitur, et exinde malum homicidii generatur, dum concipientes ex
      adulterio, ne prodantur in publico, fetos teneros necant, _et absque
      baptismatis lavacro parvulos ad Tartara mittunt_, quia nullum
      reperiunt locum, quo servare vivos valeant,” &c. Henry II. of
      France, 1556, made a long law against women who, “advenant le temps
      de leur part et délivrance de leur enfant, occultement s’en
      délivrent, puis le suffoquent et autrement suppriment _sans leur
      avoir fait empartir le Saint Sacrement du Baptême_.”—Labourt,
      _Recherches sur les Enfans trouvés_, p. 47. There is a story told of
      a Queen of Portugal (sister to Henry V. of England, and mother of
      St. Ferdinand) that, being in childbirth, her life was despaired of
      unless she took a medicine which would accelerate the birth but
      probably sacrifice the life of the child. She answered that “she
      would not purchase her temporal life by sacrificing the eternal
      salvation of her son.”—Bollandists, _Act. Sanctor._, June 5th.

   20 Tillemont, _Mémoires pour servir à l’Histoire ecclésiastique_
      (Paris, 1701), tome x. p. 41. St. Clem. Alexand. says that infants
      in the womb and exposed infants have guardian angels to watch over
      them. (_Strom._ v.)

   21 There is an extremely large literature devoted to the subject of
      infanticide, exposition, foundlings, &c. The books I have chiefly
      followed are Terme et Monfalcon, _Histoire des Enfans trouvés_
      (Paris, 1840); Remacle, _Des Hospices d’Enfans trouvés_ (1838);
      Labourt, _Recherches historiques sur les Enfans trouvés_ (Paris,
      1848); Kœnigswarter, _Essai sur la Législation des Peuples anciens
      et modernes relative aux Enfans nés hors Mariage_ (Paris, 1842).
      There are also many details on the subject in Godefroy’s Commentary
      to the laws about children in the Theodosian Code, in Malthus, _On
      Population_, in Edward’s tract _On the State of Slavery in the Early
      and Middle Ages of Christianity_, and in most ecclesiastical

   22 It must not; however, be inferred from this that infanticide
      increases in direct proportion to the unchastity of a nation.
      Probably the condition of civilised society in which it is most
      common, is where a large amount of actual unchastity coexists with
      very strong social condemnation of the sinner, and where, in
      consequence, there is an intense anxiety to conceal the fall. A
      recent writer on Spain has noticed the almost complete absence of
      infanticide in that country, and has ascribed it to the great
      leniency of public opinion towards female frailty. Foundling
      hospitals, also, greatly influence the history of infanticide; but
      the mortality in them was long so great that it may be questioned
      whether they have diminished the number of the deaths, though they
      have, as I believe, greatly diminished the number of the murders of
      children. Lord Kames, writing in the last half of the eighteenth
      century, says: “In Wales, even at present, and in the Highlands of
      Scotland, it is scarce a disgrace for a young woman to have a
      bastard. In the country last mentioned, the first instance known of
      a bastard child being destroyed by its mother through shame is a
      late one. The virtue of chastity appears to be thus gaining ground,
      as the only temptation a woman can have to destroy her child is to
      conceal her frailty.”—_Sketches of the History of Man—On the
      Progress of the Female Sex._ The last clause is clearly inaccurate,
      but there seems reason for believing that maternal affection is
      generally stronger than want, but weaker than shame.

   23 See Warburton’s _Divine Legation_, vii. 2.

   24 Ælian, _Varia Hist._ ii. 7. Passages from the Greek imaginative
      writers, representing exposition as the avowed and habitual practice
      of poor parents, are collected by Terme et Monfalcon, _Hist. des
      Enfans trouvés_, pp. 39-45. Tacitus notices with praise (_Germania_,
      xix.) that the Germans did not allow infanticide. He also notices
      (_Hist._ v. 5) the prohibition of infanticide among the Jews, and
      ascribes it to their desire to increase the population.

   25 Dion. Halic. ii.

_   26 Ad Nat._ i. 15.

   27 The well-known jurisconsult Paulus had laid down the proposition,
      “Necare videtur non tantum is qui partum perfocat sed et is qui
      abjicit et qui alimonia denegat et qui publicis locis misericordiæ
      causa exponit quam ipse non habet.” (_Dig._ lib. xxv. tit. iii. 1.
      4.) These words have given rise to a famous controversy between two
      Dutch professors, named Noodt and Bynkershoek, conducted on both
      sides with great learning, and on the side of Noodt with great
      passion. Noodt maintained that these words are simply the expression
      of a moral truth, not a judicial decision, and that exposition was
      never illegal in Rome till some time after the establishment of
      Christianity. His opponent argued that exposition was legally
      identical with infanticide, and became, therefore, illegal when the
      power of life and death was withdrawn from the father. (See the
      works of Noodt (Cologne, 1763) and of Bynkershoek (Cologne, 1761)).
      It was at least certain that exposition was notorious and avowed,
      and the law against it, if it existed, inoperative. Gibbon (_Decline
      and Fall_, ch. xliv.) thinks the law censured but did not punish
      exposition. See, too, Troplong, _Influence du Christianisme sur le
      Droit_, p. 271.

   28 Quintilian speaks in a tone of apology, if not justification, of the
      exposition of the children of destitute parents (_Decl._ cccvi.),
      and even Plutarch speaks of it without censure. (_De Amor. Prolis._)
      There are several curious illustrations in Latin literature of the
      different feelings of fathers and mothers on this matter. Terence
      (_Heauton._ Act. iii. Scene 5) represents Chremes as having, as a
      matter of course, charged his pregnant wife to have her child killed
      provided it was a girl. The mother, overcome by pity, shrank from
      doing so, and secretly gave it to an old woman to expose it, in
      hopes that it might be preserved. Chremes, on hearing what had been
      done, reproached his wife for her womanly pity, and told her she had
      been not only disobedient but irrational, for she was only
      consigning her daughter to the life of a prostitute. In Apuleius
      (_Metam._ lib. x.) we have a similar picture of a father starting
      for a journey, leaving his wife in childbirth, and giving her his
      parting command to kill her child if it should be a girl, which she
      could not bring herself to do. The girl was brought up secretly. In
      the case of weak or deformed infants infanticide seems to have been
      habitual. “Portentosos fœtus extinguimus, liberos quoque, si debiles
      monstrosique editi sunt, mergimus. Non ira, sed ratio est, a sanis
      inutilia secernere.”—Seneca, _De Ira_, i. 15. Terence has introduced
      a picture of the exposition of an infant into his _Andria_, Act. iv.
      Scene 5. See, too, Suet. _August._ lxv. According to Suetonius
      (_Calig._ v.), on the death of Germanicus, women exposed their
      new-born children in sign of grief. Ovid had dwelt with much feeling
      on the barbarity of these practices. It is a very curious fact,
      which has been noticed by Warburton, that Chremes, whose sentiments
      about infants we have just seen, is the very personage into whose
      mouth Terence has put the famous sentiment, “Homo sum, humani nihil
      a me alienum puto.”

   29 That these were the usual fates of exposed infants is noticed by
      several writers. Some, too, both Pagan and Christian (Quintilian,
      _Decl._ cccvi.; Lactantius, Div. Inst. vi. 20, &c.), speak of the
      liability to incestuous marriages resulting from frequent
      exposition. In the Greek poets there are several allusions to rich
      childless men adopting foundlings, and Juvenal says it was common
      for Roman wives to palm off foundlings on their husbands for their
      sons. (_Sat._ vi. 603.) There is an extremely horrible declamation
      in Seneca the Rhetorician (_Controvers._ lib. v. 33) about exposed
      children who were said to have been maimed and mutilated, either to
      prevent their recognition by their parents, or that they might gain
      money as beggars for their masters.

   30 See passages on this point cited by Godefroy in his _Commentary to
      the Law __“__De Expositis,__”__ Codex Theod._ lib. v. tit. 7.

_   31 Codex Theod._ lib. xi. tit. 27.

_   32 Codex Theod._ lib. v. tit. 7, lex. 1.

_   33 Ibid._ lib. v. tit. 8, lex 1.

   34 See Godefroy’s _Commentary to the Law_.

   35 In a letter to the younger Pliny. (_Ep._ x. 72.)

   36 See on this point Muratori, _Antich. Ital._ Diss. xxxvii.

   37 See on these laws, Wallon, _Hist. de l’Esclavage_, tome iii. pp. 52,

   38 See _Cod. Theod._ lib. iii. tit. 3, lex 1, and the Commentary.

   39 On the very persistent denunciation of this practice by the Fathers,
      see many examples in Terme et Monfalcon.

   40 This is a mere question of definition, upon which lawyers have
      expended much learning and discussion. Cujas thought the Romans
      considered infanticide a crime, but a crime generically different
      from homicide. Godefroy maintains that it was classified as
      homicide, but that, being esteemed less heinous than the other forms
      of homicide, it was only punished by exile. See the Commentary to
      _Cod. Theod._ lib. ix. tit. 14, l. 1.

_   41 Cod. Theod._ lib. ix. tit. 15.

_   42 Ibid._ lib. ix. tit. 14, lex 1.

_   43 Corp. Juris_, lib. viii. tit. 52, lex 2.

_   44 Leges Wisigothorum_ (lib. vi. tit. 3, lex 7) and other laws (lib.
      iv. tit. 4) condemned exposition.

   45 “Si quis infantem necaverit ut homicida teneatur.”—_Capit._ vii.

   46 It appears, from a passage of St. Augustine, that Christian virgins
      were accustomed to collect exposed children and to have them brought
      into the church. See Terme et Monfalcon, _Hist. des Enfans trouvés_,
      p. 74.

   47 Compare Labourt, _Rech. sur les Enfans trouvés_, pp. 32, 33;
      Muratori, _Antichità Italiane_, Dissert. xxxvii. Muratori has also
      briefly noticed the history of these charities in his _Carità
      Christiana_, cap. xxvii.

   48 The first seems to have been the hospital of Sta. Maria in Sassia,
      which had existed with various changes from the eighth century, but
      was made a foundling hospital and confided to the care of Guy of
      Montpellier in A.D. 1204. According to one tradition, Pope Innocent
      III. had been shocked at hearing of infants drawn in the nets of
      fishermen from the Tiber. According to another, he was inspired by
      an angel. Compare Remacle, _Hospices d’Enfans trouvés_, pp. 36-37,
      and Amydemus, _Pietas Romana_ (a book written A.D. 1624, and
      translated in part into English in A.D. 1687), Eng. trans, pp. 2, 3.

   49 For the little that is known about this missionary of charity,
      compare Remacle, _Hospices d’Enfans trouvés_, pp. 34-44; and
      Labourt, _Recherches historiques sur les Enfans trouvés_, pp. 38-41.

   50 E.g. the amphitheatre of Verona was only built under Diocletian.

   51 “Quid hoc triumpho pulchrius?... Tantam captivorum multitudinem
      bestiis objicit ut ingrati et perfidi non minus doloris ex ludibrio
      sui quam ex ipsa morte patiantur.”—Incerti, _Panegyricus Constant_.
      “Puberes qui in manus venerunt, quorum nec perfidia erat apta
      militiæ nec ferocia servituti ad pœnas spectaculo dati sævientes
      bestias multitudine sua fatigarunt.”—Eumenius, _Paneg. Constant._

_   52 Cod. Theod._ lib. xv. tit. 12, lex 1. Sozomen, i. 8.

   53 This, at least, is the opinion of Godefroy, who has discussed the
      subject very fully. (_Cod. Theod._ lib. xv. tit. 12.)

   54 Libanius, _De Vita Sua_, 3.

_   55 Cod. Theod._ lib. xv. tit. 12, l. 2.

   56 Ibid. lib. ix. tit. 40, l. 8.

   57 Ibid. lib. ix. tit. 40, l. 11.

   58 Ibid. lib. xv. tit. 12, l. 3.

   59 Symmach. _Ex._ x. 61.

   60 M. Wallon has traced these last shows with much learning. (_Hist. de
      l’Esclavage_, tome iii. pp. 421-429.)

   61 He wavered, however, on the subject, and on one occasion condemned
      them. See Wallon, tome iii. p. 423.

   62 Theodoret, v. 26.

   63 Muller, _De Genio Ævi Theodosiani_ (1797), vol. ii. p. 88; Milman,
      _Hist. of Early Christianity_, vol. iii. pp. 343-347.

   64 See on these fights Ozanam’s _Civilisation in the Fifth Century_
      (Eng. trans.), vol. i. p. 130.

   65 Nieupoort, _De Ritibus Romanorum_, p. 169.

   66 See a very unequivocal passage, _Inst. Div._ vi. 20. Several earlier
      testimonies on the subject are given by Barbeyrac, _Morale des
      Pères_, and in many other books.

   67 See two laws enacted in A.D. 380 (_Cod. Theod._ ix. tit. 35, l. 4)
      and A.D. 389 (_Cod. Theod._ ix. tit. 35, l. 5). Theodosius the
      Younger made a law (ix. tit. 35, l. 7) excepting the Isaurian
      robbers from the privileges of these laws.

   68 There are, of course, innumerable miracles punishing guilty men, but
      I know none assisting the civil power in doing so. As an example of
      the miracles in defence of the innocent, I may cite one by St.
      Macarius. An innocent man, accused of a murder, fled to him. He
      brought both the accused and accusers to the tomb of the murdered
      man, and asked him whether the prisoner was the murderer. The corpse
      answered in the negative; the bystanders implored St. Macarius to
      ask it to reveal the real culprit; but St. Macarius refused to do
      so. (_Vitæ Patrum_, lib. ii. cap. xxviii.)

   69 “Ut quam clementissime et ultra sanguinis effusionem puniretur.”

_   70 Quæstœ. Romanæ_, xcvi.

   71 Tillemont, _Mém. d’Hist. ecclés_. tome vi. pp. 88-98. The Donatists
      after a time, however, are said to have overcome their scruples, and
      used swords.

   72 Under the Christian kings, the barbarians multiplied the number of
      capital offences, but this has usually been regarded as an
      improvement. The Abbé Mably says: “Quoiqu’il nous reste peu
      d’ordonnances faites sous les premiers Mérovingiens, nous voyons
      qu’avant la fin du sixième siècle, les François avoient déjà adopté
      la doctrine salutaire des Romains au sujet de la prescription; et
      que renonçant à cette humanité cruelle qui les enhardissoit au mal,
      ils infligèrent peine de mort contre l’inceste, le vol et le meurtre
      qui jusques-là n’avoient été punis que par l’exil, ou dont on se
      rachetoit par une composition. Les François, en réformant
      quelques-unes de leurs lois civiles, portèrent la sévérité aussi
      loin que leurs pères avoient poussé l’indulgence.”—Mably, _Observ.
      sur l’Hist. des François_, liv. i. ch. iii. See, too, Gibbon’s
      _Decline and Fall_, ch. xxxviii.

   73 The whole of the sixth volume of Godefroy’s edition (folio) of the
      Theodosian code is taken up with laws of these kinds.

   74 Mme. de Staël, _Réflexions sur le Suicide_.

   75 The following became the theological doctrine on the subject: “Est
      vere homicida et reus homicidii qui se interficiendo innocentum
      hominem interfecerit.”—Lisle, _Du Suicide_, p. 400. St. Augustine
      has much in this strain. Lucretia, he says, either consented to the
      act of Sextius, or she did not. In the first case she was an
      adulteress, and should therefore not be admired. In the second case
      she was a murderess, because in killing herself she killed an
      innocent and virtuous woman. (_De Civ. Dei_, i. 19.)

   76 Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and Cyprian are especially ardent in this
      respect; but their language is, I think, in their circumstances,
      extremely excusable. Compare Barbeyrac, _Morale des Pères_, ch. ii.
      § 8; ch. viii. §§ 34-39. Donne’s _Biathanatos_ (ed. 1644), pp.
      58-67. Cromaziano, _Istoria critica e filosofica del Suicidio
      ragionato_ (Venezia, 1788), pp. 135-140.

   77 Ambrose, _De Virginibus_, iii. 7.

   78 Eusebius, _Eccles. Hist._ viii. 12.

   79 Eusebius, _Eccles. Hist._ viii. 14. Bayle, in his article upon
      Sophronia, appears to be greatly scandalised at this act, and it
      seems that among the Catholics it is not considered right to admire
      this poor lady as much as her sister suicides. Tillemont remarks:
      “Comme on ne voit pas que l’église romaine l’ait jamais honorée,
      nous n’avons pas le mesme droit de justifier son action.”—_Hist.
      ecclés._ tome v. pp. 404, 405.

   80 Especially Barbeyrac in his _Morale des Pères_. He was answered by
      Ceillier, Cromaziano, and others. Matthew of Westminster relates of
      Ebba, the abbess of a Yorkshire convent which was besieged by the
      Danes, that she and all the other nuns, to save their chastity,
      deformed themselves by cutting off their noses and upper lips. (A.D.

_   81 De Civ. Dei_, i. 22-7.

   82 This had been suggested by St. Augustine. In the case of Pelagia,
      Tillemont finds a strong argument in support of this view in the
      astounding, if not miraculous, fact that, having thrown herself from
      the top of the house, she was actually killed by the fall! “Estant
      montée tout au haut de sa maison, fortifiée par le mouvement que
      J.-C. formoit dans son cœur et par le courage qu’il luy inspiroit,
      elle se précipita de là du haut en bas, et échapa ainsi à tous les
      piéges de ses ennemis. Son corps en tombant à terre frapa, dit S.
      Chrysostome, les yeux du démon plus vivement qu’un éclair.... Ce qui
      marque encore que Dieu agissoit en tout ceci c’est qu’au lieu que
      ces chutes ne sont pas toujours mortelles, ou que souvent ne brisant
      que quelques membres, elles n’ostent la vie que longtemps après, ni
      l’un ni l’autre n’arriva en cette rencontre; mais Dieu retira
      aussitost l’âme de la sainte, en sorte que sa mort parut autant
      l’effet de la volonté divine que de sa chute.”—_Hist. ecclés._ tome
      v. pp. 401-402.

   83 “Et virginitatis coronam et nuptiarum perdidit voluptatem.”—_Ep._

   84 “Quis enim siccis oculis recordetur viginti annorum adolescentulam
      tam ardenti fide crucis levasse vexillum ut magis amissam
      virginitatem quam mariti doleret interitum?”—_Ep._ xxxix.

   85 For a description of these penances, see _Ep._ xxxviii.

_   86 Ep._ xxxix.

   87 St. Jerome gave some sensible advice on this point to one of his
      admirers. (_Ep._ cxxv.)

   88 Hase, _St. François d’Assise_, pp. 137-138. St. Palæmon is said to
      have died of his austerities. (_Vit. S. Pachomii._)

   89 St. Augustine and St. Optatus have given accounts of these suicides
      in their works against the Donatists.

   90 See Todd’s _Life of St. Patrick_, p. 462.

   91 The whole history of suicide in the dark ages has been most minutely
      and carefully examined by M. Bourquelot, in a very interesting
      series of memoirs in the third and fourth volumes of the
      _Bibliothèque de l’École des Chartes_. I am much indebted to these
      memoirs in the following pages. See, too, Lisle, _Du Suicide,
      Statistique, Médecine, Histoire, et Législation_. (Paris, 1856.) The
      ferocious laws here recounted contrast remarkably with a law in the
      Capitularies (lib. vi. lex 70), which provides that though mass may
      not be celebrated for a suicide, any private person may, through
      charity, cause prayers to be offered up for his soul. “Quia
      incomprehensibilia sunt judicia Dei, et profunditatem consilii ejus
      nemo potest investigare.”

   92 See the very interesting work of the Abbé Bourret, _l’École
      chrétienne de Séville sous la monarchie des Visigoths_ (Paris,
      1855), p. 196.

   93 Roger of Wendover, A.D. 665.

   94 Esquirol, _Maladies mentales_, tome i. p. 591.

   95 Lea’s _History of Sacerdotal Celibacy_ (Philadelphia, 1867), p. 248.

   96 “Per lo corso di molti secoli abbiamo questo solo suicidio donnesco,
      e buona cosa è non averne più d’uno; perchè io non credo che la
      impudicizia istessa sia peggiore di questa disperata
      castità.”—Cromaziano, _Ist. del. Suicidio_, p. 126. Mariana, who,
      under the frock of a Jesuit, bore the heart of an ancient Roman,
      treats the case in a very different manner. “Ejus uxor Maria
      Coronelia cum mariti absentiam non ferret, ne pravis cupiditatibus
      cederet, vitam posuit, ardentem forte libidinem igne extinguens
      adacto per muliebria titione; dignam meliori seculo fœminam, insigne
      studium castitatis.”—_De Rebus Hispan._ xvi. 17.

   97 A number of passages are cited by Bourquelot.

   98 This is noticed by St. Gregory Nazianzen in a little poem which is
      given in Migne’s edition of _The Greek Fathers_, tome xxxvii. p.
      1459. St. Nilus and the biographer of St. Pachomius speak of these
      suicides, and St. Chrysostom wrote a letter of consolation to a
      young monk, named Stagirius, which is still extant, encouraging him
      to resist the temptation. See Neander, _Ecclesiastical Hist._ vol.
      iii. pp. 319, 320.

   99 Bourquelot. Pinel notices (_Traité médico-philosophique sur
      l’Aliénation mentale_ (2nd ed.), pp. 44-46) the numerous cases of
      insanity still produced by strong religious feeling; and the history
      of the movements called “revivals,” in the present century, supplies
      much evidence to the same effect. Pinel says, religious insanity
      tends peculiarly to suicide (p. 265).

  100 Orosius notices (_Hist._ v. 14) that of all the Gauls conquered by
      Q. Marcius, there were none who did not prefer death to slavery. The
      Spaniards were famous for their suicides, to avoid old age as well
      as slavery. Odin, who, under different names, was the supreme
      divinity of most of the Northern tribes, is said to have ended his
      earthly life by suicide. Boadicea, the grandest figure of early
      British history, and Cordeilla, or Cordelia, the most pathetic
      figure of early British romance, were both suicides. (See on the
      first, Tacitus, _Ann._ xiv. 35-37, and on the second Geoffrey of
      Monmouth, ii. 15—a version from which Shakspeare has considerably
      diverged, but which is faithfully followed by Spenser. (_Faëry
      Queen_, book ii. canto 10.))

  101 “In our age, when the Spaniards extended that law which was made
      only against the cannibals, that they who would not accept the
      Christian religion should incur bondage, the Indians in infinite
      numbers escaped this by killing themselves, and never ceased till
      the Spaniards, by some counterfeitings, made them think that they
      also would kill themselves, and follow them with the same severity
      into the next life.”—Donne’s _Biathanatos_, p. 56 (ed. 1644). On the
      evidence of the early travellers on this point, see the essay on
      “England’s Forgotten Worthies,” in Mr. Froude’s _Short Studies_.

  102 Lisle, pp. 427-434. Sprenger has noticed the same tendency among the
      witches he tried. See Calmeil, _De la Folie_ (Paris, 1845), tome i.
      pp. 161, 303-305.

  103 On modern suicides the reader may consult Winslow’s _Anatomy of
      Suicide_; as well as the work of M. Lisle, and also Esquirol,
      _Maladies mentales_ (Paris, 1838), tome i. pp. 526-676.

  104 Hecker’s _Epidemics of the Middle Ages_ (London, 1844), p. 121.
      Hecker in his very curious essay on this mania, has preserved a
      verse of their song:—

      “Allu mari mi portati
      Se voleti che mi sanati,
      Allu mari, alla via,
      Così m’ama la donna mia,
      Allu mari, allu mari,
      Mentre campo, t’aggio amari.”

  105 Cromaziano, _Ist. del Suicidio_ caps. viii, ix.

  106 Cromaziano, pp. 92-93.

  107 Montesquieu, and many Continental writers, have noticed this, and
      most English writers of the eighteenth century seem to admit the
      charge. There do not appear, however, to have been any accurate
      statistics, and the general statements are very untrustworthy.
      Suicides were supposed to be especially numerous under the
      depressing influence of English winter fogs. The statistics made in
      the present century prove beyond question that they are most
      numerous in summer.

_  108 Utopia_, book ii. ch. vi.

  109 A sketch of his life, which was rather curious, is given by
      Cromaziano, pp. 148-151. There is a long note on the early
      literature in defence of suicide, in Dumas, _Traité du Suicide_
      (Amsterdam, 1723), pp. 148-149. Dumas was a Protestant minister who
      wrote against suicide. Among the English apologists for suicide
      (which he himself committed) was Blount, the translator of the _Life
      of Apollonius of Tyana_, and Creech, an editor of Lucretius.
      Concerning the former there is a note in Bayle’s _Dict._ art.
      “Apollonius.” The latter is noticed by Voltaire in his _Lettres
      Philos._ He wrote as a memorandum on the margin of his “Lucretius,”
      “N.B. When I have finished my Commentary I must kill myself;” which
      he accordingly did—Voltaire says to imitate his favourite author.
      (Voltaire, _Dict. phil._ art. “Caton.”)

_  110 Essais_, liv. ii. ch. xiii.

_  111 Lettres persanes_, lxxvi.

_  112 Nouvelle Héloïse_, partie iii. let. 21-22. Esquirol gives a curious
      illustration of the way the influence of Rousseau penetrated through
      all classes. A little child of thirteen committed suicide, leaving a
      writing beginning: “Je lègue mon âme a Rousseau, mon corps à la
      terre.”—_Maladies mentales_, tome i. p. 588.

  113 In general, however, Voltaire was extremely opposed to the
      philosophy of despair, but he certainly approved of some forms of
      suicide. See the articles “Caton” and “Suicide,” in his _Dict.

  114 Lisle, _Du Suicide_, pp. 411, 412.

  115 “Le monde est vide depuis les Romains.”—St.-Just, _Procés de

  116 This fact has been often noticed. The reader may find many
      statistics on the subject in Lisle, _Du Suicide_, and Winslow’s
      _Anatomy of Suicide_.

  117 “There seems good reason to believe, that with the progress of
      mental development through the ages, there is, as in the case with
      other forms of organic development, a correlative degeneration going
      on, and that an increase of insanity is a penalty which an increase
      of our present civilisation necessarily pays.”—Maudsley’s
      _Physiology of Mind_, p. 201.

_  118 Cod. Theod._ lib. ix. tit. 12.

  119 Some commentators imagine (see Muratori, _Antich. Ital. Diss._ xiv.)
      that among the Pagans the murder of a man’s own slave was only
      assimilated to the crime of murdering the slave of another man,
      while in the Christian law it was defined as homicide, equivalent to
      the murder of a freeman. I confess, however, this point does not
      appear to me at all clear.

  120 See Godefroy’s _Commentary_ on these laws.

  121 Exodus xxi. 21

  122 “Quas vilitates vitæ dignas legum observatione non credidit.”—_Cod.
      Theod._ lib. ix. tit. 7. See on this law, Wallon, tome iii. pp. 417,

      Dean Milman observes, “In the old Roman society in the Eastern
      Empire this distinction between the marriage of the freeman and the
      concubinage of the slave was long recognised by Christianity itself.
      These unions were not blessed, as the marriages of their superiors
      had soon begun to be, by the Church. Basil the Macedonian (A.D.
      867-886) first enacted that the priestly benediction should hallow
      the marriage of the slave; but the authority of the emperor was
      counteracted by the deep-rooted prejudices of centuries.”—_Hist. of
      Latin Christianity_, vol. ii. p. 15.

_  123 Cod. Theod._ lib. ii. tit. 25.

  124 Ibid. lib. iv. tit. 7.

  125 Ibid. lib. ix. tit. 9.

_  126 Corpus Juris_, vi. 1.

_  127 Cod. Theod._ lib. vi. tit. 2.

  128 See on all this legislation, Wallon, tome iii.; Champagny, _Charité
      chrétienne_, pp. 214-224.

  129 It is worthy of notice, too, that the justice of slavery was
      frequently based by the Fathers, as by modern defenders of slavery,
      on the curse of Ham. See a number of passages noticed by Moehler,
      _Le Christianisme et l’Esclavage_ (trad. franç.), pp. 151-152.

  130 The penalty, however, appears to have been reduced to two years’
      exclusion from communion. Muratori says: “In più consili si truova
      decretato, ‘excommunicatione vel pœnitentiæ biennii esse
      subjiciendum qui servum proprium sine conscientia judicis
      occiderit.’ ”—_Antich. Ital._ Diss. xiv.

      Besides the works which treat generally of the penitential
      discipline, the reader may consult with fruit Wright’s letter _On
      the Political Condition of the English Peasantry_, and Moehler, p.

  131 On the great multitude of emancipated slaves who entered, and at one
      time almost monopolised, the ecclesiastical offices, compare
      Moehler, _Le Christianisme et l’Esclavage_, pp. 177-178. Leo the
      Great tried to prevent slaves being raised to the priestly office,
      because it would degrade the latter.

  132 See a most admirable dissertation on this subject in Le Blant,
      _Inscriptions chrétiennes de la Gaule_, tome ii. pp. 284-299;
      Gibbon’s _Decline and Fall_, ch. xxxviii.

  133 Champagny, _Charité chrétienne_, p. 210. These numbers are, no
      doubt, exaggerated; see Wallon, _Hist. de l’Esclavage_, tome iii. p.

  134 See Schmidt, _La Société civile dans le Monde romain_, pp. 246-248.

  135 Muratori has devoted two valuable dissertations (_Antich. Ital._
      xiv. xv.) to mediæval slavery.

  136 Ozanam’s _Hist. of Civilisation in the Fifth Century_ (Eng. trans.),
      vol. ii. p. 43. St. Adelbert, Archbishop of Prague at the end of the
      tenth century, was especially famous for his opposition to the slave
      trade. In Sweden, the abolition of slavery in the thirteenth century
      was avowedly accomplished in obedience to Christian principles.
      (Moehler, _Le Christianisme et l’Esclavage_, pp. 194-196; Ryan’s
      _History of the Effects of Religion upon Mankind_, pp. 142, 143.)

  137 Salvian, in a famous passage (_De Gubernatione Dei_, lib. v.),
      notices the multitudes of poor who voluntarily became “coloni” for
      the sake of protection and a livelihood. The coloni, who were
      attached to the soil, were much the same as the mediæval serfs. We
      have already noticed them coming into being, apparently when the
      Roman emperors settled barbarian prisoners to cultivate the desert
      lands of Italy; and before the barbarian invasions their numbers
      seem to have much increased. M. Guizot has devoted two chapters to
      this subject. (_Hist. de la Civilisation en France_, vii. viii.)

  138 See Finlay’s _Hist. of Greece_, vol. i. p. 241.

  139 Moehler, p. 181.

  140 “Non v’era anticamente signor secolare, vescovo, abbate, capitolo di
      canonici e monistero che non avesse al suo servigio molti servi.
      Molto frequentemente solevano i secolari manometterli. Non cosi le
      chiese, e i monisteri, non per altra cagione, a mio credere, se non
      perchè la manumissione è una spezie di alienazione, ed era dai
      canoni proibito l’alienare i beni delle chiese.”—Muratori,
      _Dissert._ xv. Some Councils, however, recognised the right of
      bishops to emancipate Church slaves. Moehler, _Le Christianisme et
      l’Esclavage_, p. 187. Many peasants placed themselves under the
      dominion of the monks, as being the best masters, and also to obtain
      the benefit of their prayers.

  141 Muratori; Hallam’s _Middle Ages_, ch. ii. part ii.

  142 See on this subject, Ryan, pp. 151-152; Cibrario, _Economica
      politica del Medio Evo_, lib. iii. cap. ii., and especially Le
      Blant, _Inscriptions chrétiennes de la Gaule_, tome ii. pp. 284-299.

  143 About 5/6ths of a bushel. See Hume’s _Essay on the Populousness of
      Ancient Nations_.

  144 The history of these distributions is traced with admirable learning
      by M. Naudet in his _Mémoire sur les Secours publics dans
      l’Antiquité_ (_Mém. de l’Académie des Inscrip. et Belles-lettres_,
      tome xiii.), an essay to which I am much indebted. See, too,
      Monnier, _Hist. de l’Assistance publique_; B. Dumas, _Des Secours
      publics chez les Anciens_; and Schmidt, _Essai sur la Société civile
      dans le Monde romain et sur sa Transformation par le Christianisme_.

  145 Livy, ii. 9; Pliny, _Hist. Nat._ xxxi. 41.

  146 Dion Cassius, xxxviii. 1-7.

  147 Xiphilin, lxviii. 2; Pliny, _Ep._ vii. 31.

  148 Spartian. _Sept. Severus_.

  149 Suet. _August._ 41; Dion Cassius, li, 1.

  150 “Afflictos civitatis relevavit; puellas puerosque natos parentibus
      egestosis sumptu publico per Italiæ oppida ali jussit.”—Sext.
      Aurelius Victor, _Epitome_, “Nerva.” This measure of Nerva, though
      not mentioned by any other writer, is confirmed by the evidence of
      medals. (Naudet, p. 75.)

  151 Plin. _Panegyr._ xxvi. xxviii.

  152 We know of this charity from an extant bronze tablet. See Schmidt,
      _Essai historique sur la Société romaine_, p. 428.

  153 Plin. _Ep._ i. 8; iv. 13.

  154 Schmidt, p. 428.

  155 Spartianus, _Hadrian_.

  156 Capitolinus, _Antoninus_.

  157 Capitolinus, _Anton._, _Marc. Aurel._

  158 Lampridius, _A. Severus_.

  159 See Friedlænder, _Hist. des Mœurs romaines_, iii. p. 157.

  160 Seneca (_De Ira_, lib. i. cap. 16) speaks of institutions called
      valetudinaria, which most writers think were private infirmaries in
      rich men’s houses. The opinion that the Romans had public hospitals
      is maintained in a very learned and valuable, but little-known work,
      called _Collections relative to the Systematic Relief of the Poor_.
      (London, 1815.)

  161 See Tacit. _Annal._ xii. 58; Pliny, v. 7; x. 79.

  162 Cornelius Nepos, _Epaminondas_, cap. iii.

  163 Plutarch, _Cimon_.

  164 Diog. Laërt. _Bias_.

  165 Tac. _Annal._ iv. 63.

  166 See Pliny, _Ep._ x. 94, and the remarks of Naudet, pp. 38, 39.

_  167 De Offic._ i. 14, 15.

  168 Lucian describes this in his famous picture of Peregrinus; and
      Julian, much later, accused the Christians of drawing men into the
      Church by their charities. Socrates (_Hist. Eccl._ vii. 17) tells a
      story of a Jew who, pretending to be a convert to Christianity, had
      been often baptised in different sects, and had amassed a
      considerable fortune by the gifts he received on those occasions. He
      was at last miraculously detected by the Novatian bishop Paul. There
      are several instances in the _Lives of the Saints_ of judgments
      falling on those who duped benevolent Christians.

  169 See on this subject Chastel, _Études historiques sur la Charité_
      (Paris, 1853); Martin Doisy, _Hist. de la Charité pendant les quatre
      premiers Siècles_ (Paris, 1848); Champagny, _Charité chrétienne_;
      Tollemer, _Origines de la Charité catholique_ (Paris, 1863); Ryan,
      _History of the Effects of Religion upon Mankind_ (Dublin, 1820);
      and the works of Bingham and of Cave. I am also indebted, in this
      part of my subject, to Dean Milman’s histories, Neander’s
      _Ecclesiastical History_, and _Private Life of the Early
      Christians_, and to Migne’s _Encyclopédie_.

  170 See the famous epistle of Julian to Arsacius, where he declares that
      it is shameful that “the Galileans” should support not only their
      own, but also the heathen poor; and also the comments of Sozomen,
      _Hist. eccl._ v. 16.

  171 The conduct of the Christians, on the first of these occasions, is
      described by Pontius, _Vit. Cypriani_, ix. 19. St. Cyprian organised
      their efforts. On the Alexandrian famines and pestilences, see
      Eusebius, _H. E._ vii. 22; ix. 8.

  172 The effects of this conquest have been well described by Sismondi,
      _Hist. de la Chute de l’Empire Romain_, tome i. pp. 258-260.
      Theodoric afterwards made some efforts to re-establish the
      distribution, but it never regained its former proportions. The
      pictures of the starvation and depopulation of Italy at this time
      are appalling. Some fearful facts on the subject are collected by
      Gibbon, _Decline and Fall_, ch. xxxvi.; Chateaubriand, vime _Disc._
      2de partie.

_  173 Cod. Theod._ ix. xl. 15-16. The first of these laws was made by
      Theodosius, A.D. 392; the second by Honorius, A.D. 398.

  174 Cibrario, _Economica politica del Medio Evo_, lib. ii. cap. iii. The
      most remarkable of these saints was St. Julien l’Hospitalier, who
      having under a mistake killed his father and mother, as a penance
      became a ferryman of a great river, and having embarked on a very
      stormy and dangerous night at the voice of a traveller in distress,
      received Christ into his boat. His story is painted on a window of
      the thirteenth century, in Rouen Cathedral. See Langlois, _Essai
      historique sur la Peinture sur verre_, pp. 32-37.

  175 The fact of leprosy being taken as the image of sin gave rise to
      some curious notions of its supernatural character, and to many
      legends of saints curing leprosy by baptism. See Maury, _Légendes
      pieuses du Moyen-Age_, pp. 64-65.

  176 See on these hospitals Cibrario, _Econ. Politica del Medio Evo_,
      lib. iii. cap. ii.

  177 Calmeil observes: “On a souvent constaté depuis un demi-siècle que
      la folie est sujette à prendre la teinte des croyances religieuses,
      des idées philosophiques ou superstitieuses, des préjugés sociaux
      qui ont cours, qui sont actuellement en vogue parmi les peuples ou
      les nations; que cette teinte varie dans un même pays suivant le
      caractère des événements relatifs à la politique extérieure, le
      caractère des événements civils, la nature des productions
      littéraires, des représentations théâtrales, suivant la tournure, la
      direction, le genre d’élan qu’y prennent l’industrie, les arts et
      les sciences.”—_De la Folie_, tome i. pp. 122-123.

  178 Milman’s _History of Latin Christianity_, vol. vii. pp. 353, 354.

      “Venit de Anglia virgo decora valde, pariterque facunda, dicens,
      Spiritum Sanctum incarnatum in redemptionem mulierum, et baptizavit
      mulieres in nomine Patris, Filii et sui. Quæ mortua ducta fuit in
      Mediolanum, ibi et cremata.”—_Annales Dominicanorum Colmariensium_
      (in the “Rerum Germanic. Scriptores”).

  179 “Martin Gonçalez, du diocèse de Cuenca, disoit qu’il etoit frère de
      l’archange S. Michel, la première vérité et l’échelle du ciel; que
      c’étoit pour lui que Dieu réservoit la place que Lucifer avoit
      perdue; que tous les jours il s’élevoit au plus haut de l’Empirée et
      descendoit ensuite au plus profond des enfers; qu’a la fin du monde,
      qui étoit proche, il iroit au devant de l’Antichrist et qu’il le
      terrasseroit, ayant á sa main la croix de Jésus-Christ et sa
      couronne d’épines. L’archevêque de Tolède, n’ayant pu convertir ce
      fanatique obstiné, ni l’empêcher de dogmatiser, l’avoit enfin livré
      au bras séculier.”—Touron, _Hist. des Hommes illustres de l’ordre de
      St. Dominique_, Paris, 1745 (_Vie d’Eyméricus_), tome ii. p. 635.

  180 Calmeil, _De la Folie_, tome i. p. 134.

  181 Ibid. tome i. pp. 242-247.

  182 Calmeil, tome i. p. 247.

  183 See Esquirol, _Maladies mentales_.

  184 Gibbon, _Decline and Fall_, ch. xxxvii.

  185 Purchas’s _Pilgrims_, ii. 1452.

  186 Desmaisons’ _Asiles d’Aliénés en Espagne_, p. 53.

  187 Leo Africanus, _Description of Africa_, book iii.

  188 I have taken these facts from a very interesting little work,
      Desmaisons, _Des Asiles d’Aliénés en Espagne; Recherches historiques
      et médicales_ (Paris, 1859). Dr. Desmaisons conjectures that the
      Spaniards took their asylums from the Mohammedans; but, as it seems
      to me, he altogether fails to prove his point. His work, however,
      contains some curious information on the history of lunatic asylums.

  189 Amydemus, _Pietas Romana_ (Oxford, 1687), p. 21; Desmaisons, p. 108.

  190 Pinel, _Traité médico-philosophique_, pp. 241, 242.

  191 See the dreadful description in Pinel, pp. 200-202.

  192 Malthus, who is sometimes, though most unjustly, described as an
      enemy to all charity, has devoted an admirable chapter (_On
      Population_, book iv. ch. ix.) to the “direction of our charity;”
      but the fullest examination of this subject with which I am
      acquainted is the very interesting work of Duchâtel, _Sur la

  193 This is very tersely expressed by a great Protestant writer: “I give
      no alms to satisfy the hunger of my brother, but to fulfil and
      accomplish the will and command of my God.”—Sir T. Brown, _Religio
      Medici_, part ii. § 2. A saying almost exactly similar is, if I
      remember right, ascribed to St. Elizabeth of Hungary.

  194 See Butler’s _Lives of the Saints_.

  195 Campion’s _Historie of Ireland_, book ii. chap. x.

  196 He wrote his _Perils of the Last Times_ in the interest of the
      University of Paris, of which he was a Professor, and which was at
      war with the mendicant orders. See Milman’s _Latin Christianity_,
      vol. vi. pp. 348-356; Fleury, _Eccl. Hist._ lxxxiv. 57.

  197 Henry de Knyghton, _De Eventibus Angliæ_.

  198 There was some severe legislation in England on the subject after
      the Black Death. Eden’s _History of the Working Classes_, vol. i. p.
      34. In France, too, a royal ordinance of 1350 ordered men who had
      been convicted of begging three times to be branded with a hot iron.
      Monteil, _Hist. des Français_, tome i. p. 434.

  199 Eden, vol. i. pp. 83-87.

  200 Ibid. pp. 101-103.

  201 Ibid. pp. 127-130.

  202 Morighini, _Institutions pieuses de Rome_.

  203 Eden, _History of the Labouring Classes_, i. 83.

  204 Locke discussed the great increase of poverty, and a bill was
      brought in suggesting some remedies, but did not pass. (Eden, vol.
      i. pp. 243-248.)

  205 In a very forcible letter addressed to the Irish Catholic clergy.

  206 This tract, which is extremely valuable for the light it throws upon
      the social condition of England at the time, was written in
      opposition to a bill providing that the poor in the poor-houses
      should do wool, hemp, iron, and other works. Defoe says that wages
      in England were higher than anywhere on the Continent, though the
      amount of mendicancy was enormous. “The reason why so many pretend
      to want work is, that they can live so well with the pretence of
      wanting work.... I affirm of my own knowledge, when I have wanted a
      man for labouring work, and offered nine shillings per week to
      strolling fellows at my door, they have frequently told me to my
      face they could get more a-begging.”

_  207 Reforma degl’ Instituti pii di Modena_ (published first anonymously
      at Modena). It has been reprinted in the library of the Italian

_  208 Essay on Charity Schools._

  209 Magdalen asylums have been very vehemently assailed by M. Charles
      Comte, in his _Traité de Législation_. On the subject of Foundling
      Hospitals there is a whole literature. They were violently attacked
      by, I believe, Lord Brougham, in the _Edinburgh Review_, in the
      early part of this century. Writers of this stamp, and indeed most
      political economists, greatly exaggerate the forethought of men and
      women, especially in matters where the passions are concerned. It
      may be questioned whether one woman in a hundred, who plunges into a
      career of vice, is in the smallest degree influenced by a
      consideration of whether or not charitable institutions are provided
      for the support of aged penitents.

_  210 Apol._ ch. xlii.

  211 On these penances, see Bingham, _Antiq._ book vii. Bingham, I think,
      justly divides the history of asceticism into three periods. During
      the first, which extends from the foundation of the Church to A.D.
      250, there were men and women who, with a view to spiritual
      perfection, abstained from marriage, relinquished amusements,
      accustomed themselves to severe fasts, and gave up their property to
      works of charity; but did this in the middle of society and without
      leading the life of either a hermit or a monk. During the second
      period, which extended from the Decian persecution, anchorites were
      numerous, but the custom of a common or cœnobitic life was unknown.
      It was originated in the time of Constantine by Pachomius.

  212 This is expressly stated by St. Jerome (_Vit. Pauli_).

  213 See on this subject some curious evidence in Neander’s _Life of
      Chrysostom_. St. Chrysostom wrote a long work to console fathers
      whose sons were thus seduced to the desert.

  214 On this tradition see Champagny, _Les Antonins_, tome i. p. 193.

_  215 Ep._ cxxiii.

  216 Euseb. _Eccl. Hist._ ii. 23.

  217 Gibbon, _Decline and Fall_, ch. xxxvii.; a brief but masterly sketch
      of the progress of the movement.

  218 Palladius, _Hist. Laus._ xxxviii.

  219 Jerome, Preface to the Rule of St. Pachomius, § 7.

  220 Cassian, _De Cœnob. Inst._ iv. 1.

  221 Rufinus, _Hist. Monach._ ch. v. Rufinus visited it himself.

  222 Palladius, _Hist. Laus._ lxxvi.

  223 Rufinus, _Hist. Mon._ vii.

  224 There is a good deal of doubt and controversy about this. See a note
      in Mosheim’s _Eccl. Hist._ (Soame’s edition), vol. i. p. 354.

  225 Most of the passages remaining on the subject of the foundation of
      monachism are given by Thomassin, _Discipline de l’Église_, part i.
      livre iii. ch. xii. This work contains also much general information
      about monachism. A curious collection of statistics of the numbers
      of the monks in different localities, additional to those I have
      given and gleaned from the _Lives of the Saints_, may be found in
      Pitra (_Vie de St. Léger_, Introd. p. lix.); 2,100, or, according to
      another account, 3,000 monks, lived in the monastery of Banchor.

  226 The three principal are the _Historia Monachorum_ of Rufinus, who
      visited Egypt A.D. 373, about seventeen years after the death of St.
      Antony; the _Institutiones_ of Cassian, who, having visited the
      Eastern monks about A.D. 394, founded vast monasteries containing,
      it is said, 5,000 monks, at Marseilles, and died at a great age
      about A.D. 448; and the _Historia Lausiaca_ (so called from Lausus,
      Governor of Cappadocia) of Palladius, who was himself a hermit on
      Mount Nitria, in A.D. 388. The first and last, as well as many minor
      works of the same period, are given in Rosweyde’s invaluable
      collection of the lives of the Fathers, one of the most fascinating
      volumes in the whole range of literature.

      The hospitality of the monks was not without drawbacks. In a church
      on Mount Nitria three whips were hung on a palm-tree—one for
      chastising monks, another for chastising thieves, and a third for
      chastising guests. (Palladius, _Hist. Laus._ vii.)

_  227 Vita Pauli._ St. Jerome adds, that some will not believe this,
      because they have no faith, but that all things are possible for
      those that believe.

_  228 Vita St. Hilarion._

  229 See a long list of these penances in Tillemont, _Mém. pour servir à
      l’Hist. ecclés._ tome viii.

_  230 Vitæ Patrum_ (Pachomius). He used to lean against a wall when
      overcome by drowsiness.

_  231 Vitæ Patrum_, ix. 3.

  232 Sozomen, vi. 29.

  233 E.g. St. Antony, according to his biographer St. Athanasius.

  234 “Il y eut dans le désert de Scété des solitaires d’une éminente
      perfection.... On prétend que pour l’ordinaire ils passoient des
      semaines entières sans manger, mais apparemment cela ne se faisoit
      que dans des occasions particulières.”—Tillemont, _Mém. pour servir
      à l’Hist. eccl._ tome viii. p. 580. Even this, however, was

  235 Palladius, _Hist. Laus._ cap. xx.

  236 “Primum cum accessisset ad eremum tribus continuis annis sub
      cujusdam saxi rupe stans, semper oravit, ita ut nunquam omnino
      resederit neque Jacuerit. Somni autem tantum caperet, quantum stans
      capere potuit; cibum vero nunquam sumpserat nisi die Dominica.
      Presbyter enim tunc veniebat ad eum et offerebat pro eo sacrificium
      idque ei solum sacramentum erat et victus.”—Rufinus, _Hist. Monach._
      cap. xv.

  237 Thus St. Antony used to live in a tomb, where he was beaten by the
      devil. (St. Athanasius, _Life of Antony._)

  238 βοσκοί. See on these monks Sozomen, vi. 33; Evagrius, i. 21. It is
      mentioned of a certain St. Marc of Athens, that, having lived for
      thirty years naked in the desert, his body was covered with hair
      like that of a wild beast. (Bollandists, March 29.) St. Mary of
      Egypt, during part of her period of penance, lived upon grass.
      (_Vitæ Patrum._)

_  239 Life of Antony._

  240 “II ne faisoit pas aussi difficulté dans sa vieillesse de se laver
      quelquefois les piez. Et comme on témoignoit s’en étonner et trouver
      que cela ne répondoit pas à la vie austère des anciens, il se
      justifioit par ces paroles: Nous avons appris à tuer, non pas notre
      corps mais nos passions.”—Tillemont, _Mém. Hist. eccl._ tome xv. p.
      148. This saint was so very virtuous, that he sometimes remained
      without eating for whole weeks.

  241 “Non appropinquavit oleum corpusculo ejus. Facies vel etiam pedes a
      die conversionis suæ nunquam diluti sunt.”—_Vitæ Patrum_, c. xvii.

  242 “In facie ejus puritas animi noscebatur.”—Ibid. c. xviii.

  243 Socrates, iv. 23.

  244 Heraclidis Paradisus (Rosweyde), c. xlii.

  245 “Nulla earum pedes suos abluebat; aliquantæ vero audientes de balneo
      loqui, irridentes, confusionem et magnam abominationem se audire
      judicabant, quæ neque audi tum suum hoc audire patiebantur.”—_Vit.
      S. Euphrax._ c. vi. (Rosweyde.)

  246 See her acts, Bollandists, April 2, and in the _Vitæ Patrum_.

  247 “Patres nostri nunquam facies suas lavabant, nos autem lavacra
      publica balneaque frequentamus.”—Moschus, _Pratum Spirituale_,

_  248 Pratum Spirituale_, lxxx.

      An Irish saint, named Coemgenus, is said to have shown his devotion
      in a way which was directly opposite to that of the other saints I
      have mentioned—by his special use of cold water—but the principle in
      each case was the same—to mortify nature. St. Coemgenus was
      accustomed to pray for an hour every night in a pool of cold water,
      while the devil sent a horrible beast to swim round him. An angel,
      however, was sent to him for three purposes. “Tribus de causis à
      Domino missus est angelus ibi ad S. Coemgenum. Prima ut a diversis
      suis gravibus laboribus levius viveret paulisper; secunda ut
      horridam bestiam sancto infestam repelleret; tertia _ut frigiditatem
      aquæ calefaceret_.”—Bollandists, June 3. The editors say these acts
      are of doubtful authenticity.

  249 See his Life by his disciple Antony, in the _Vitæ Patrum_, Evagrius,
      i. 13, 14. Theodoret, _Philotheos_, cap. xxvi.

  250 Palladius, _Hist. Laus._ lxxvi.

  251 Rufinus, Hist. _Monach._ xxxiii.

  252 We have a striking illustration of this in St. Arsenius. His
      eyelashes are said to have fallen off through continual weeping, and
      he had always, when at work, to put a cloth on his breast to receive
      his tears. As he felt his death approaching, his terror rose to the
      point of agony. The monks who were about him said, “ ‘Quid fles,
      pater? numquid et tu times?’ Ille respondit, ‘In veritate timeo et
      iste timor qui nunc mecum est, semper in me fuit, ex quo factus sum
      monachus.’ ”—_Verba Seniorum_, Prol. § 163. It was said of St.
      Abraham that no day passed after his conversion without his shedding
      tears. (_Vit. Patrum._) St. John the dwarf once saw a monk laughing
      immoderately at dinner, and was so horrified that he at once began
      to cry. (Tillemont, _Mém. de l’Hist. ecclés._ tome x. p. 430.) St.
      Basil (_Regulæ_, interrog. xvii.) gives a remarkable disquisition on
      the wickedness of laughing, and he observes that this was the one
      bodily affection which Christ does not seem to have known. Mr.
      Buckle has collected a series of passages to precisely the same
      effect from the writings of the Scotch divines. (_Hist. of
      Civilisation_, vol. ii. pp. 385-386.)

  253 “Monachus autem non doctoris habet sed plangentis officium.”—_Contr.
      Vigilant._ xv.

  254 As Tillemont puts it: “Il se trouva très-peu de saints en qui Dieu
      ait joint les talens extérieurs de l’éloquence et de la science avec
      la grâce de la prophétie et des miracles. Ce sont des dons que sa
      Providence a presque toujours séparés.”—_Mém. Hist. ecclés._ tome
      iv. p. 315.

  255 St. Athanasius, _Vit. Anton._

_  256 Ep._ xxii. He says his shoulders were bruised when he awoke.

_  257 Ep._ lxx.; _Adv. Rufinum_, lib. i. ch. xxx. He there speaks of his
      vision as a mere dream, not binding. He elsewhere (_Ep._ cxxv.)
      speaks very sensibly of the advantage of hermits occupying
      themselves, and says he learnt Hebrew to keep away unholy thoughts.

  258 Sozomen, vi. 28; Rufinus, _Hist. Monach._ ch. vi. Socrates tells
      rather a touching story of one of these illiterate saints, named
      Pambos. Being unable to read, he came to some one to be taught a
      psalm. Having learnt the single verse, “I said I will take heed to
      my ways, that I offend not with my tongue,” he went away, saying
      that was enough if it were practically acquired. When asked, six
      months, and again many years, after, why he did not come to learn
      another verse, he answered that he had never been able truly to
      master this. (_H. E._ iv. 23.)

  259 Tillemont, x. p. 61.

  260 Ibid. viii. 490; Socrates, _H. E._ iv. 23.

  261 I have combined in this passage incidents from three distinct lives.
      St. Jerome, in a very famous and very beautiful passage of his
      letter to Eustochium (_Ep._ xxii.) describes the manner in which the
      forms of dancing-girls appeared to surround him as he knelt upon the
      desert sands. St. Mary of Egypt (_Vitæ Patrum_, ch. xix.) was
      especially tortured by the recollection of the songs she had sung
      when young, which continually haunted her mind. St. Hilarion (see
      his _Life_ by St. Jerome) thought he saw a gladiatorial show while
      he was repeating the psalms. The manner in which the different
      visions faded into one another like dissolving views is repeatedly
      described in the biographies.

  262 Rufinus, _Hist. Monach._, ch. xi. This saint was St. Helenus.

  263 Life of St. Pachomius (_Vit. Patrum_), cap. ix.

  264 Rufinus, _Hist. Monach._ cap. i. This story was told to Rufinus by
      St. John the hermit. The same saint described his own visions very
      graphically. “Denique etiam me frequenter dæmones noctibus
      seduxerunt, et neque orare neque requiescere permiserunt, phantasias
      quasdam per noctem totam sensibus meis et cogitationes suggerentes.
      Mane vero velut cum quadam illusione prosternebant se ante me
      dicentes, Indulge nobis, abbas, quia laborem tibi incussimus tota
      nocte.”—Ibid. St. Benedict in the desert is said to have been
      tortured by the recollection of a beautiful girl he had once seen,
      and only regained his composure by rolling in thorns. (St. Greg.
      _Dial._ ii. 2.)

  265 She lived also for some time in a convent at Jerusalem, which she
      had founded. Melania (who was one of St. Jerome’s friends) was a
      lady of rank and fortune, who devoted her property to the monks. See
      her journey in Rosweyde, lib. ii.

  266 See his _Life_ in Tillemont.

  267 Ibid. x. p. 14. A certain Didymus lived entirely alone till his
      death, which took place when he was ninety. (Socrates, _H. E._ iv.

  268 Rufinus, _Hist. Monachorum_, cap. i.

_  269 Verba Seniorum_, § 65.

  270 Pelagia was very pretty, and, according to her own account, “her
      sins were heavier than the sand.” The people of Antioch, who were
      very fond of her, called her Margarita, or the pearl. “Il arriva un
      jour que divers évesques, appelez par celui d’Antioche pour quelques
      affaires, estant ensemble à la porte de l’eglise de S.-Julien,
      Pélagie passa devant eux dans tout l’éclat des pompes du diable,
      n’ayant pas seulement une coeffe sur sa teste ni un mouchoir sur ses
      épaules, ce qu’on remarqua comme le comble de son impudence. Tous
      les évesques baissèrent les yeux en gémissant pour ne pas voir ce
      dangereux objet de péché, hors Nonne, très-saint évesque d’Héliople,
      qui la regarda avec une attention qui fit peine aux autres.”
      However, this bishop immediately began crying a great deal, and
      reassured his brethren, and a sermon which he preached led to the
      conversion of the actress. (Tillemont, _Mém. d’Hist. ecclés._ tome
      xii. pp. 378-380. See, too, on women, “under pretence of religion,
      attiring themselves as men,” Sozomen, iii. 14.)

  271 Tillemont, tome x. pp. 376, 377. Apart from family affections, there
      are some curious instances recorded of the anxiety of the saints to
      avoid distractions. One monk used to cover his face when he went
      into his garden, lest the sight of the trees should disturb his
      mind. (_Verb. Seniorum._) St. Arsenius could not bear the rustling
      of the reeds (ibid.); and a saint named Boniface struck dead a man
      who went about with an ape and a cymbal, because he had (apparently
      quite unintentionally) disturbed him at his prayers. (St. Greg.
      _Dial._ i. 9.)

  272 “Quemadmodum se jam divitem non esse sciebat, ita etiam patrem se
      esse nesciret.”—Cassian, _De Cœnobiorum Institutis_, iv. 27.

  273 “Cumque taliter infans sub oculis ejus per dies singulos ageretur,
      pro amore nihilominus Christi et obedientiæ virtute, rigida semper
      atque immobilia patris viscera permanserunt ... parum cogitans de
      lacrymis ejus, sed de propria humilitate ac perfectione

  274 Ibid.

  275 Bollandists, July 6; _Verba Seniorum_, xiv.

_  276 Verba Seniorum_, xiv.

  277 TARTUFFE (_tirant un mouchoir_
      _ de sa poche_).

      “Ah, mon Dieu, je vous prie,
      Avant que de parler, prenez-moi ce mouchoir.




      Couvrez ce sein que je ne saurois voir;
      Par de pareils objets des âmes sont blessées,
      Et cela fait venir de coupables pensées.”

      _Tartuffe_, Acte iii. scène 2.

  278 Bollandists, July 6.

_  279 Verba Seniorum_, iv. The poor woman, being startled and perplexed
      at the proceedings of her son, said, “Quid sic operuisti manus tuas,
      fili? Ille autem dixit: Quia corpus mulieris ignis est, et ex eo
      ipso quo te contingebam veniebat mihi commemoratio aliarum feminarum
      in animo.”

  280 Tillemont, _Mém. de l’Hist. ecclés._ tome x. pp. 444, 445.

_  281 Vit. S. Pachomius_, ch. xxxi.; _Verba Seniorum_.

_  282 Verba Senorium_, xiv.

  283 Palladius, _Hist. Laus._ cap. lxxxvii.

  284 Bollandists, June 6. I avail myself again of the version of
      Tillemont. “Lorsque S. Pemen demeuroit en Egypte avec ses frères,
      leur mère, qui avoit un extrême désir de les voir, venoit souvent au
      lieu où ils estoient, sans pouvoir jamais avoir cette satisfaction.
      Une fois enfin elle prit si bien son temps qu’elle les rencontra qui
      alloient à l’église, mais dès qu’ils la virent ils s’en retournèrent
      en haste dans leur cellule et fermèrent la porte sur eux. Elle les
      suivit, et trouvant la porte, elle les appeloit avec des larmes et
      des cris capables de les toucher de compassion.... Pemen s’y leva et
      s’y en alla, et l’entendant pleurer il luy dit, tenant toujours la
      porte fermée, ‘Pourquoi vous lassez-vous inutilement à pleurer et
      crier? N’êtes-vous pas déjà assez abattue par la vieillesse?’ Elle
      reconnut la voix de Pemen, et s’efforçant encore davantage, elle
      s’écria, ‘Hé, mes enfans, c’est que je voudrais bien vous voir: et
      quel mal y a-t-il que je vous voie? Ne suis-je pas votre mère, et ne
      vous ai-je pas nourri du lait de mes mammelles? Je suis déjà toute
      pleine de rides, et lorsque je vous ay entendu, l’extrême envie que
      j’ay de vous voir m’a tellement émue que je suis presque tombée en
      défaillance.’ ”—_Mémoires de l’Hist. ecclès._ tome xv. pp. 157, 158.

  285 The original is much more eloquent than my translation. “Fili, quare
      hoc fecisti? Pro utero quo te portavi, satiasti me luctu, pro
      lactatione qua te lactavi dedisti mihi lacrymas, pro osculo quo te
      osculata sum, dedisti mihi amaras cordis angustias; pro dolore et
      labore quem passa sum, imposuisti mihi sævissimas plagas.”—_Vita
      Simeonis_ (in Rosweyde).

  286 Bingham, _Antiquities_, book vii. ch. iii.

  287 Ibid.

  288 Bingham, _Antiquities_, book vii. chap. 3.

  289 Milman’s _Early Christianity_ (ed. 1867), vol. iii. p. 122.

  290 Ibid. vol. iii. p. 153.

  291 Ibid. vol. iii. p. 120.

_  292 De Virginibus_, i. 11.

  293 See Milman’s _Early Christianity_, vol. iii. p. 121.

_  294 De Virginibus_, i. 11.

_  295 Epist._ xxiv.

  296 St. Jerome describes the scene at her departure with admiring
      eloquence. “Descendit ad portum fratre, cognatis, affinibus et quod
      majus est liberis prosequentibus, et elementissimam matrem pietate
      vincere cupientibus. Jam carbasa tendebantur, et remorum ductu navis
      in altum protrahebatur. Parvus Toxotius supplices manus tendebat in
      littore, Ruffina jam nubilis ut suas expectaret nuptias tacens
      fletibus obsecrabat. Et tamen illa siccos tendebat ad cælum oculos,
      pietatem in filios pietate in Deum superans. Nesciebat se matrem ut
      Christi probaret ancillam.”—_Ep._ cviii. In another place he says of
      her: “Testis est Jesus, ne unum quidem nummum ab ea filiæ derelictum
      sed, ut ante jam dixi, derelictum magnum æs alienum.”—Ibid. And
      again: “Vis, lector, ejus breviter scire virtutes? Omnes suos
      pauperes, pauperior ipsa dimisit.”—Ibid.

  297 See Chastel, _Etudes historiques sur la Charité_, p. 231. The
      parents of St. Gregory Nazianzen had made this request, which was
      faithfully observed.

  298 Chastel, p. 232.

  299 See a characteristic passage from the _Life of St. Fulgentius_,
      quoted by Dean Milman. “Facile potest juvenis tolerare quemcunque
      imposuerit laborem qui poterit maternum jam despicere
      dolorem.”—_Hist. of Latin Christianity_, vol. ii. p. 82.

_  300 Ep._ xiv. (_Ad Heliodorum_).

  301 St. Greg. _Dial._ ii. 24.

  302 Bollandists, May 3 (vol. vii. p. 561).

  303 “Hospitibus omni loco ac tempore liberalissimus fuit.... Solis
      consanguineis durus erat et inhumanus, tamquam ignotos illos
      respiciens.”—Bollandists, May 29.

  304 See Helyot, _Dict. des Ordres religieux_, art. “Camaldules.”

  305 See the charming sketch in the _Life of St. Francis_, by Hase.

  306 The legend of St. Scholastica, the sister of St. Benedict, has been
      often quoted. He had visited her, and was about to leave in the
      evening, when she implored him to stay. He refused, and she then
      prayed to God, who sent so violent a tempest that the saint was
      unable to depart. (St. Greg. _Dial._ ii. 33.) Cassian speaks of a
      monk who thought it his duty never to see his mother, but who
      laboured for a whole year to pay off a debt she had incurred.
      (Cœnob. _Inst._ v. 38.) St. Jerome mentions the strong natural
      affection of Paula, though she considered it a virtue to mortify it.
      (_Ep._ cviii.)

_  307 Life of Antony._ See, too, the sentiments of St. Pachomius, _Vit._
      cap. xxvii.

  308 “Nec ulla res aliena magis quam publica.”—Tertullian, _Apol._ ch.

  309 “Quid interest sub cujus imperio vivat homo moriturus, si illi qui
      imperant, ad impia et iniqua non cogant.”—St. Aug. _De Civ. Dei_, v.

  310 St. Jerome declares that “Monachum in patria sua perfectum esse non
      posse, perfectum autem esse nolle delinquere est.”—_Ep._ xiv. Dean
      Milman well says of a later period: “According to the monastic view
      of Christianity, the total abandonment of the world, with all its
      ties and duties, as well as its treasures, its enjoyments, and
      objects of ambition, advanced rather than diminished the hopes of
      salvation. Why should they fight for a perishing world, from which
      it was better to be estranged?... It is singular, indeed, that while
      we have seen the Eastern monks turned into fierce undisciplined
      soldiers, perilling their own lives and shedding the blood of others
      without remorse, in assertion of some shadowy shade of orthodox
      expression, hardly anywhere do we find them asserting their
      liberties or their religion with intrepid resistance. Hatred of
      heresy was a more stirring motive than the dread or the danger of
      Islamism. After the first defeats the Christian mind was still
      further prostrated by the common notion that the invasion was a just
      and heaven-commissioned visitation; ... resistance a vain, almost an
      impious struggle to avert inevitable punishment.”—Milman’s _Latin
      Christianity_, vol. ii. p. 206. Compare Massillon’s famous _Discours
      au Régiment de Catinat_:—“Ce qu’il y a ici de plus déplorable, c’est
      que dans une vie rude et pénible, dans des emplois dont les devoirs
      passent quelquefois la rigueur des cloîtres les plus austères, vous
      souffrez toujours en vain pour l’autre vie.... Dix ans de services
      ont plus usé votre corps qu’une vie entière de pénitence ... un seul
      jour de ces souffrances, consacré au Seigneur, vous aurait peut-être
      valu un bonheur éternel.”

  311 See a very striking passage in Salvian, _De Gubern. Div._ lib. vi.

  312 Chateaubriand very truly says, “qu’Orose et saint Augustin étoient
      plus occupés du schisme de Pélage que de la désolation de l’Afrique
      et des Gaules.”—_Études histor._ vime discours, 2de partie. The
      remark might certainly be extended much further.

  313 Zosimus, _Hist._ v. 41. This was on the first occasion when Rome was
      menaced by Alaric.

  314 See Merivale’s _Conversion of the Northern Nations_, pp. 207-210.

  315 See Sismondi, _Hist. de la Chute de l’Empire romain_, tome i. p.

  316 Eunapius. There is no other authority for the story of the
      treachery, which is not believed by Gibbon.

  317 Sismondi, _Hist. de la Chute de l’Empire romain_, tome ii. pp.
      52-54; Milman, _Hist. of Latin Christianity_, vol. ii. p. 213. The
      Monophysites were greatly afflicted because, after the conquest, the
      Mohammedans tolerated the orthodox believers as well as themselves,
      and were unable to appreciate the distinction between them. In Gaul,
      the orthodox clergy favoured the invasions of the Franks, who, alone
      of the barbarian conquerors of Gaul, were Catholics, and St.
      Aprunculus was obliged to fly, the Burgundians desiring to kill him
      on account of his suspected connivance with the invaders. (Greg.
      _Tur._ ii. 23.)

  318 Dean Milman says of the Church, “if treacherous to the interests of
      the Roman Empire, it was true to those of mankind.”—_Hist. of
      Christianity_, vol. iii. p. 48. So Gibbon: “If the decline of the
      Roman Empire was hastened by the conversion of Constantine, the
      victorious religion broke the violence of the fall and mollified the
      ferocious temper of the conquerors.”—Ch. xxxviii.

  319 Observe with what a fine perception St. Augustine notices the
      essentially unchristian character of the moral dispositions to which
      the greatness of Rome was due. He quotes the sentence of Sallust:
      “Civitas, incredibile memoratu est, adeptâ libertate quantum brevi
      creverit, tanta cupido gloriæ incesserat;” and adds: “Ista ergo
      laudis aviditas et cupido gloriæ multa illa miranda fecit,
      laudabilia scilicet atque gloriosa secundum hominum existimationem
      ... causa honoris, laudis et gloriæ consuluerunt patriæ, in qua
      ipsam gloriam requirebant, salutemque ejus saluti suæ præponere non
      dubitaverunt, pro isto uno vitio, id est, amore laudis, pecuniæ
      cupiditatem et multa alia vitia comprimentes.... Quid aliud amarent
      quam gloriam, qua volebant etiam post mortem tanquam vivere in ore
      laudantium?”—_De Civ. Dei_, v. 12-13.

  320 “Præter majorum cineres atque ossa, volucri
      Carpento rapitur pinguis Damasippus et ipse,
      Ipse rotam stringit multo sufflamine consul;
      Nocte quidem; sed luna videt, sed sidera testes
      Intendunt oculos. Finitum tempus honoris
      Quum fuerit, clara Damasippus luce flagellum Sumet.”—Juvenal, _Sat._
      viii. 146.

_  321 Nat. Quæst._ iv. 13. _Ep._ 78.

  322 “Pessimum vitæ scelus fecit, qui id [aurum] primus induit digitis
      ... quisquis primus instituit cunctanter id fecit, lævisque manibus,
      latentibusque induit.”—Plin. _Hist. Nat._ xxxiii. 4.

  323 See a curious passage in his _Apologia_. It should be said that we
      have only his own account of the charges brought against him.

  324 The history of false hair has been written with much learning by M.
      Guerle in his _Éloge des Perruques_.

  325 The fullest view of this age is given in a very learned little work
      by Peter Erasmus Müller (1797), _De Genio Ævi Theodosiani_.
      Montfaucon has also devoted two essays to the moral condition of the
      Eastern world, one of which is given in Jortin’s _Remarks on
      Ecclesiastical History_.

  326 See on these abuses Mosheim, _Eccl. Hist._ (Soame’s ed.), vol. i. p.
      463; Cave’s _Primitive Christianity_, part i. ch. xi.

  327 Cave’s _Primitive Christianity_, part i. ch. vii.

_  328 Ep._ lxi.

  329 Evagrius describes with much admiration how certain monks of
      Palestine, by “a life wholly excellent and divine,” had so overcome
      their passions that they were accustomed to bathe with women; for
      “neither sight nor touch, nor a woman’s embrace, could make them
      relapse into their natural condition. Among men they desired to be
      men, and among women, women.” (_H. E._ i. 21.)

  330 These “mulieres subintroductæ,” as they were called, are continually
      noticed by Cyprian, Jerome, and Chrysostom. See Müller, _De Genio
      Ævi Theodosiani_, and also the _Codex Theod._ xvi. tit. ii. lex 44,
      with the Comments. Dr. Todd, in his learned _Life of St. Patrick_
      (p. 91), quotes (I shall not venture to do so) from the _Lives of
      the Irish Saints_ an extremely curious legend of a kind of contest
      of sanctity between St. Scuthinus and St. Brendan, in which it was
      clearly proved that the former had mastered his passions more
      completely than the latter. An enthusiast named Robert
      d’Arbrisselles is said in the twelfth century to have revived the
      custom. (Jortin’s _Remarks_, A.D. 1106.)

  331 St. Jerome gives (_Ep._ lii.) an extremely curious picture of these
      clerical flatterers, and several examples of the terms of endearment
      they were accustomed to employ. The tone of flattery which St.
      Jerome himself, though doubtless with the purest motives, employs in
      his copious correspondence with his female admirers, is to a modern
      layman peculiarly repulsive, and sometimes verges upon blasphemy. In
      his letter to Eustochium, whose daughter as a nun had become the
      “bride of Christ,” he calls the mother “Socrus Dei,” the
      mother-in-law of God. See, too, the extravagant flatteries of
      Chrysostom in his correspondence with Olympias.

  332 “Pudet dicere sacerdotes idolorum, mimi et aurigæ et scorta
      hæreditates capiunt; solis clericis et monachis hoc lege prohibetur,
      et prohibetur non a persecutoribus, sed a principibus Christianis.
      Nec de lege conqueror sed doleo cur meruerimus hanc legem.” _Ep._

  333 See Milman’s _Hist. of Early Christianity_, vol. ii. p. 314.

  334 This was one cause of the disputes between St. Gregory the Great and
      the Emperor Eustace. St. Chrysostom frequently notices the
      opposition of the military and the monastic spirits.

  335 Hieron. _Ep._ cxxviii.

  336 St. Greg. Nyss. _Ad eund. Hieros_. Some Catholic writers have
      attempted to throw doubt upon the genuineness of this epistle, but,
      Dean Milman thinks, with no sufficient reason. Its account of
      Jerusalem is to some extent corroborated by St. Jerome. (_Ad
      Paulinum_, _Ep._ xxix.)

  337 “Præterea non taceo charitati vestræ, quia omnibus servis Dei qui
      hic vel in Scriptura vel in timore Dei probatissimi esse videntur,
      displicet quod bonum et honestas et pudicitia vestræ ecclesiæ
      illuditur; et aliquod levamentum turpitudinis esset, si prohiberet
      synodus et principes vestri mulieribus et velatis feminis illud iter
      et frequentiam, quam ad Romanam civitatem veniendo et redeundo
      faciunt, quia magna ex parte pereunt, paucis remeantibus integris.
      Perpaucæ enim sunt civitates in Longobardia vel in Francia aut in
      Gallia in qua non sit adultera vel meretrix generis Anglorum, quod
      scandalum est et turpitudo totius ecclesiæ vestræ.”—(A.D. 745) _Ep._

  338 See Milman’s _Latin Christianity_, vol. ii. p. 8.

  339 Tillemont, _Hist. eccl._ tome xi. p. 547.

  340 This was enjoined in the rule of St. Paphnutius. See Tillemont, tome
      x. p. 45.

  341 “Omnimodis monachum fugere debere mulieres et episcopos.”—Cassian,
      _De Cœnob. Inst._ xi. 17.

  342 We also find now and then, though I think very rarely, intellectual
      flashes of some brilliancy. Two of them strike me as especially
      noteworthy. St. Arsenius refused to separate young criminals from
      communion though he had no hesitation about old men; for he had
      observed that young men speedily get accustomed and indifferent to
      the state of excommunication, while old men feel continually, and
      acutely, the separation. (Socrates, iv. 23.) St. Apollonius
      explained the Egyptian idolatry with the most intelligent
      rationalism. The ox, he thought, was in the first instance
      worshipped for its domestic uses; the Nile, because it was the chief
      cause of the fertility of the soil &c. (Rufinus, _Hist. Mon._ cap.

  343 Palladius, _Hist. Laus._ cap. xix.

  344 Rufinus, _Hist. Monach._ cap. xxix.

  345 Tillemont, _Hist. eccl._ tome viii. pp. 583, 584.

  346 Ibid. p. 589.

  347 Theodoret, _Philoth._ cap. iii.

_  348 Verba Seniorum._

  349 Theodoret, _Philoth._ cap. ii.

  350 Tillemont, tome viii. pp. 594-595.

  351 Pliny, _Hist. Nat._ viii. 1. Many anecdotes of elephants are
      collected viii. 1-12. See, too, Dion Cassius, xxxix. 38.

  352 Pliny, viii. 40.

  353 Donne’s _Biathanatos_. p. 22. This habit of bees is mentioned by St.
      Ambrose. The pelican, as is well known, afterwards became an emblem
      of Christ.

  354 Plin. _Hist. Nat._ x. 6.

  355 A long list of legends about dogs is given by Legendre, in the very
      curious chapter on animals, in his _Traité de l’Opinion_, tome i.
      pp. 308-327.

  356 Pliny tells some extremely pretty stories of this kind. (_Hist.
      Nat._ ix. 8-9.) See, too, Aulus Gellius, xvi. 19. The dolphin, on
      account of its love for its young, became a common symbol of Christ
      among the early Christians.

  357 A very full account of the opinions, both of ancient and modern
      philosophers, concerning the souls of animals, is given by Bayle,
      _Dict._ arts. “Pereira E,” “Rorarius K.”

  358 The Jewish law did not confine its care to oxen. The reader will
      remember the touching provision, “Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his
      mother’s milk” (Deut. xiv. 21); and the law forbidding men to take a
      parent bird that was sitting on its young or on its eggs. (Deut.
      xxii. 6, 7.)

  359 “Cujus tanta fuit apud antiquos veneratio, ut tam capital esset
      bovem necuisse quam civem.”—Columella, lib. vi. in proœm. “Hic
      socius hominum in rustico opere et Cereris minister. Ab hoc antiqui
      manus ita abstinere voluerunt ut capite sanxerint si quis
      occidisset.”—Varro, _De Re Rustic._ lib. ii. cap. v.

  360 See Legendre, tome ii. p. 338. The sword with which the priest
      sacrificed the ox was afterwards pronounced accursed. (Ælian, _Hist.
      Var._ lib. viii. cap. iii.)

  361 Diog. Laërt. _Xenocrates_.

  362 There is a story told by Herodotus (i. 157-159) of an ambassador who
      was sent by his fellow-countrymen to consult an oracle at Miletus
      about a suppliant who had taken refuge with the Cymæans and was
      demanded with menace by his enemies. The oracle, being bribed,
      enjoined the surrender. The ambassador on leaving, with seeming
      carelessness disturbed the sparrows under the portico of the temple,
      when the voice from behind the altar denounced his impiety for
      disturbing the guests of the gods. The ambassador replied with an
      obvious and withering retort. Ælian says (_Hist. Var._) that the
      Athenians condemned to death a boy for killing a sparrow that had
      taken refuge in the temple of Æsculapius.

  363 Quintilian, _Inst._ v. 9.

  364 In the same way we find several chapters in the _Zendavesta_ about
      the criminality of injuring dogs; which is explained by the great
      importance of shepherd’s dogs to a pastoral people.

  365 On the origin of Greek cock-fighting, see Ælian, _Hist. Var._ ii.
      28. Many particulars about it are given by Athenæus. Chrysippus
      maintained that cock-fighting was the final cause of cocks, these
      birds being made by Providence in order to inspire us by the example
      of their courage. (Plutarch, _De Repug. Stoic._) The Greeks do not,
      however, appear to have known “cock-throwing,” the favourite English
      game of throwing a stick called a “cock-stick” at cocks. It was a
      very ancient and very popular amusement, and was practised
      especially on Shrove Tuesday, and by school-boys. Sir Thomas More
      had been famous for his skill in it. (Strutt’s _Sports and
      Pastimes_, p. 283.) Three origins of it have been given:—1st, that
      in the Danish wars the Saxons failed to surprise a certain city in
      consequence of the crowing of cocks, and had in consequence a great
      hatred of that bird; 2nd, that the cocks (_galli_) were special
      representatives of Frenchmen, with whom the English were constantly
      at war; and 3rd, that they were connected with the denial of St.
      Peter. As Sir Charles Sedley said:—

      “Mayst thou be punished for St. Peter’s crime,
      And on Shrove Tuesday perish in thy prime.”

      Knight’s _Old England_, vol. ii. p. 126.

_  366 De Natura Rerum_, lib. ii.

_  367 Life of Marc. Cato._

  368 “Quid meruere boves, animal sine fraude dolisque,
      Innocuum, simplex, natum tolerare labores?
      Immemor est demum nec frugum munere dignus.
      Qui potuit curvi dempto modo pondere aratri
      Ruricolam mactare suum.”—

      _Metamorph._ xv. 120-124.

  369 “Cujus
      Turbavit nitidos extinctus passer ocellos.”

      Juvenal, _Sat._ vi. 7-8.

      There is a little poem in Catullus (iii.) to console his mistress
      upon the death of her favourite sparrow; and Martial more than once
      alludes to the pets of the Roman ladies.

      Compare the charming description of the Prioress, in Chaucer:—

      “She was so charitable and so pitous,
      She wolde wepe if that she saw a
      mous Caught in a trappe, if it were ded or bledde.
      Of smale houndes had she that she fedde
      With rosted flesh and milke and wastel brede,
      But sore wept she if one of them were dede,
      Or if men smote it with a yerde smert:
      And all was conscience and tendre herte.”

      _Prologue to the __“__Canterbury Tales.__”_

  370 Philost. _Apol._ i. 38.

  371 See the curious chapter in his Κυνηγετικός, xvi. and compare it with
      No. 116 in the _Spectator_.

  372 In his _De Abstinentia Carnis_. The controversy between Origen and
      Celsus furnishes us with a very curious illustration of the
      extravagances into which some Pagans of the third century fell about
      animals. Celsus objected to the Christian doctrine about the
      position of men in the universe, that many of the animals were at
      least the equals of men both in reason, religious feeling, and
      knowledge. (Orig. _Cont. Cels._ lib. iv.)

  373 These views are chiefly defended in his two tracts on eating flesh.
      Plutarch has also recurred to the subject, incidentally, in several
      other works, especially in a very beautiful passage in his _Life of
      Marcus Cato_.

  374 See, for example, a striking passage in Clem. Alex. _Strom._ lib.
      ii. St. Clement imagines Pythagoras had borrowed his sentiments on
      this subject from Moses.

  375 There is, I believe, no record of any wild beast combats existing
      among the Jews, and the rabbinical writers have been remarkable for
      the great emphasis with which they inculcated the duty of kindness
      to animals. See some passages from them, cited in Wollaston,
      _Religion of Nature_, sec. ii., note. Maimonides believed in a
      future life for animals, to recompense them for their sufferings
      here. (Bayle, _Dict._ art, “Rorarius D.”) There is a curious
      collection of the opinions of different writers on this last point
      in a little book called the _Rights of Animals_, by William Drummond
      (London, 1838), pp. 197-205.

  376 Thus St. Paul (1 Cor. ix. 9) turned aside the precept, “Thou shalt
      not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn,” from its
      natural meaning, with the contemptuous question, “Doth God take care
      for oxen?”

  377 I have taken these illustrations from the collection of hermit
      literature in Rosweyde, from different volumes of the Bollandists,
      from the _Dialogues_ of Sulpicius Severus, and from what is perhaps
      the most interesting of all collections of saintly legends, Colgan’s
      _Acta Sanctorum Hiberniæ_. M. Alfred Maury, in his most valuable
      work, _Légendes pieuses du Moyen Age_, has examined minutely the
      part played by animals in symbolising virtues and vices, and has
      shown the way in which the same incidents were repeated, with slight
      variations, in different legends. M. de Montalembert has devoted
      what is probably the most beautiful chapter of his _Moines
      d’Occident_ (“Les Moines et la Nature”) to the relations of monks to
      the animal world; but the numerous legends he cites are all, with
      one or two exceptions, different from those I have given.

  378 Chateaubriand speaks, however (_Études historiques_, étude vime, 1re
      partie), of an old Gallic law, forbidding to throw a stone at an ox
      attached to the plough, or to make its yoke too tight.

  379 Bollandists, May 31. Leonardo da Vinci is said to have had the same
      fondness for buying and releasing caged birds, and (to go back a
      long way) Pythagoras to have purchased one day, near Metapontus,
      from some fishermen all the fish in their net, that he might have
      the pleasure of releasing them. (Apuleius, _Apologia_.)

  380 See these legends collected by Hase (_St Francis. Assisi_). It is
      said of Cardinal Bellarmine that he used to allow vermin to bite
      him, saying, “We shall have heaven to reward us for our sufferings,
      but these poor creatures have nothing but the enjoyment of this
      present life.” (Bayle, _Dict. philos._ art. “Bellarmine.”)

  381 I have noticed, in my _History of Rationalism_, that, although some
      Popes did undoubtedly try to suppress Spanish bull-fights, this was
      solely on account of the destruction of human life they caused. Full
      details on this subject will be found in Concina, _De Spectaculis_
      (Romæ, 1752). Bayle says, “Il n’y a point de casuiste qui croie
      qu’on pèche en faisant combattre des taureaux contre des dogues,”
      &c. (_Dict. philos._ “Rorarius, C.”)

  382 On the ancient amusements of England the reader may consult
      Seymour’s _Survey of London_ (1734), vol. i. pp. 227-235; Strutt’s
      _Sports and Pastimes of the English People_. Cock-fighting was a
      favourite children’s amusement in England as early as the twelfth
      century. (Hampson’s _Medii Ævi Kalendarii_, vol. i. p. 160.) It was,
      with foot-ball and several other amusements, for a time suppressed
      by Edward III., on the ground that they were diverting the people
      from archery, which was necessary to the military greatness of

  383 The decline of these amusements in England began with the great
      development of the theatre under Elizabeth. An order of the Privy
      Council in July, 1591, prohibits the exhibition of plays on
      Thursday, because on Thursdays bear-baiting and suchlike pastimes
      had been usually practised, and an injunction to the same effect was
      sent to the Lord Mayor, wherein it was stated that, “in divers
      places the players do use to recite their plays, to the great hurt
      and destruction of the game of bear-baiting and like pastimes, which
      are maintained for Her Majesty’s pleasure.”—Nichols, _Progresses of
      Queen Elizabeth_ (ed. 1823), vol. i. p. 438. The reader will
      remember the picture in _Kenilworth_ of the Earl of Sussex
      petitioning Elizabeth against Shakespeare, on the ground of his
      plays distracting men from bear-baiting. Elizabeth (see Nichols) was
      extremely fond of bear-baiting. James I. especially delighted in
      cock-fighting, and in 1610 was present at a great fight between a
      lion and a bear. (Hone, _Every Day Book_, vol. i. pp. 255-299.) The
      theatres, however, rapidly multiplied, and a writer who lived about
      1629 said, “that no less than seventeen playhouses had been built in
      or about London within threescore years.” (Seymour’s _Survey_, vol.
      i. p. 229.) The Rebellion suppressed all public amusements, and when
      they were re-established after the Restoration, it was found that
      the tastes of the better classes no longer sympathised with the
      bear-garden. Pepys (_Diary_, August 14, 1666) speaks of bull-baiting
      as “a very rude and nasty pleasure,” and says he had not been in the
      bear-garden for many years. Evelyn (_Diary_, June 16, 1670), having
      been present at these shows, describes them as “butcherly sports, or
      rather barbarous cruelties,” and says he had not visited them before
      for twenty years. A paper in the _Spectator_ (No. 141, written in
      1711) talks of those who “seek their diversion at the bear-garden,
      ... where reason and good manners have no right to disturb them.” In
      1751, however, Lord Kames was able to say, “The bear garden, which
      is one of the chief entertainments of the English, is held in
      abhorrence by the French and other polite nations.”—_Essay on
      Morals_ (1st ed.), p. 7; and he warmly defends (p. 30) the English
      taste. During the latter half of the last century there was constant
      controversy on the subject (which may be traced in the pages of the
      _Annual Register_), and several forgotten clergymen published
      sermons upon it, and the frequent riots resulting from the fact that
      the bear-gardens had become the resort of the worst classes assisted
      the movement. The London magistrates took measures to suppress
      cock-throwing in 1769 (Hampson’s _Med. Æv. Kalend._ p. 160); but
      bull-baiting continued far into the present century. Windham and
      Canning strongly defended it; Dr. Parr is said to have been fond of
      it (_Southey’s Commonplace Book_, vol. iv. p. 585); and as late as
      1824, Sir Robert (then Mr) Peel argued strongly against its
      prohibition. (_Parliamentary Debates_, vol. x. pp. 132-133,

  384 Bacon, in an account of the deficiencies of medicine, recommends
      vivisection in terms that seem to imply that it was not practised in
      his time. “As for the passages and pores, it is true, which was
      anciently noted, that the more subtle of them appear not in
      anatomies, because they are shut and latent in dead bodies, though
      they be open and manifest in live; which being supposed, though the
      inhumanity of _anatomia vivorum_ was by Celsus justly reproved, yet,
      in regard of the great use of this observation, the enquiry needed
      not by him so slightly to have been relinquished altogether, or
      referred to the casual practices of surgery; but might have been
      well diverted upon the dissection of beasts alive, which,
      notwithstanding the dissimilitude of their parts, may sufficiently
      satisfy this enquiry.”—_Advancement of Learning_, x. 4. Harvey
      speaks of vivisections as having contributed to lead him to the
      discovery of the circulation of the blood. (Acland’s _Harveian
      Oration_ (1865), p. 55.) Bayle, describing the treatment of animals
      by men, says, “Nous fouillons dans leurs entrailles pendant leur vie
      afin de satisfaire notre curiosité.”—_Dict. philos._ art. “Rorarius,
      C.” Public opinion in England was very strongly directed to the
      subject in the present century, by the atrocious cruelties
      perpetrated by Majendie at his lectures. See a most frightful
      account of them in a speech by Mr. Martin (an eccentric Irish
      member, who was generally ridiculed during his life, and has been
      almost forgotten since his death, but to whose untiring exertions
      the legislative protection of animals in England is
      due).—_Parliament. Hist._ vol. xii. p. 652. Mandeville, in his day,
      was a very strong advocate of kindness to animals.—_Commentary on
      the Fable of the Bees._

  385 See his _Life_ by Sulpicius Severus.

  386 Milman.

  387 Greg. Turon. ii. 29.

  388 This was the first step towards the conversion of the
      Bulgarians.—Milman’s _Latin Christianity_, vol. iii. p. 249.

  389 A remarkable collection of instances of this kind is given by
      Ozanam, _Civilisation in the Fifth Century_ (Eng. trans.), vol. i.
      pp. 124-127.

  390 St. Gregory, _Dial._ iii. 7. The particular temptation the Jew heard
      discussed was that of the bishop of the diocese, who, under the
      instigation of one of the dæmons, was rapidly falling in love with a
      nun, and had proceeded so far as jocosely to stroke her on the back.
      The Jew, having related the vision to the bishop, the latter
      reformed his manners, the Jew became a Christian, and the temple was
      turned into a church.

  391 William of Malmesbury, ii. 13.

  392 See Milman’s _Hist. of Latin Christianity_, vol. ii. p. 293.

  393 Cassian. _Cœnob. Instit._ v. 4. See, too, some striking instances of
      this in the life of St. Antony.

  394 This spiritual pride is well noticed by Neander, _Ecclesiastical
      History_ (Bohn’s ed.), vol. iii. pp. 321-323. It appears in many
      traits scattered through the lives of these saints. I have already
      cited the visions telling St. Antony and St. Macarius that they were
      not the best of living people; and also the case of the hermit, who
      was deceived by a devil in the form of a woman, because he had been
      exalted by pride. Another hermit, being very holy, received pure
      white bread every day from heaven, but, being extravagantly elated,
      the bread got worse and worse till it became perfectly black.
      (Tillemont, tome x. pp. 27-28.) A certain Isidore affirmed that he
      had not been conscious of sin, even in thought, for forty years.
      (Socrates, iv. 23.) It was a saying of St. Antony, that a solitary
      man in the desert is free from three wars—of sight, speech, and
      hearing: he has to combat only fornication. (_Apothegmata Patrum._)

  395 “Pride, under such training [that of modern rationalistic
      philosophy], instead of running to waste, is turned to account. It
      gets a new name; it is called self-respect.... It is directed into
      the channel of industry, frugality, honesty, and obedience, and it
      becomes the very staple of the religion and morality held in honour
      in a day like our own. It becomes the safeguard of chastity, the
      guarantee of veracity, in high and low; it is the very household god
      of the Protestant, inspiring neatness and decency in the
      servant-girl, propriety of carriage and refined manners in her
      mistress, uprightness, manliness, and generosity in the head of the
      family.... It is the stimulating principle of providence on the one
      hand, and of free expenditure on the other; of an honourable
      ambition and of elegant enjoyment.”—Newman, _On University
      Education_, Discourse ix. In the same lecture (which is, perhaps,
      the most beautiful of the many beautiful productions of its
      illustrious author), Dr. Newman describes, with admirable eloquence,
      the manner in which modesty has supplanted humility in the modern
      type of excellence. It is scarcely necessary to say that the
      lecturer strongly disapproves of the movement he describes.

  396 Thus “indagatio veri” was reckoned among the leading virtues, and
      the high place given to σοφία and “prudentia” in ethical writings
      preserved the notion of the moral duties connected with the
      discipline of the intellect.

  397 St. Augustine reckoned eighty-eight sects as existing in his time.

  398 See a full account of these persecutions in Tillemont, _Mém.
      d’Histoire ecclés._ tome vi.

  399 Socrates, _H. E._, iv. 16. This anecdote is much doubted by modern

  400 Milman’s _Hist. of Christianity_ (ed. 1867), vol. ii. p. 422.

  401 St. Athanasius, _Historical Treatises_ (Library of the Fathers), pp.
      192, 284.

  402 Milman, _Hist. of Christianity_, ii. pp. 436-437.

  403 The death of Arius, as is well known, took place suddenly (his
      bowels, it is said, coming out) when he was just about to make his
      triumphal entry into the Cathedral of Constantinople. The death
      (though possibly natural) never seems to have been regarded as such,
      but it was a matter of controversy whether it was a miracle or a

  404 Socrates, _H. E._, vii. 13-15.

  405 Milman, _Hist. of Latin Christianity_, vol. i. pp. 214-215.

  406 Milman, _Hist. of Christianity_, vol. iii. p. 145.

  407 Milman, _Hist. of Latin Christianity_, vol. i. pp. 290-291.

  408 Ibid. vol. i. pp. 310-311.

  409 Milman, _Hist. of Latin Christianity_, vol. i. pp. 314-318. Dean
      Milman thus sums up the history: “Monks in Alexandria, monks in
      Antioch, monks in Jerusalem, monks in Constantinople, decide
      peremptorily on orthodoxy and heterodoxy. The bishops themselves
      cower before them. Macedonius in Constantinople, Flavianus in
      Antioch, Elias in Jerusalem, condemn themselves and abdicate, or are
      driven from their sees. Persecution is universal—persecution by
      every means of violence and cruelty; the only question is, in whose
      hands is the power to persecute.... Bloodshed, murder, treachery,
      assassination, even during the public worship of God—these are the
      frightful means by which each party strives to maintain its opinions
      and to defeat its adversary.”

  410 See a striking passage from Julianus of Eclana, cited by Milman,
      _Hist. of Latin Christianity_, vol. i. p. 164.

  411 “Nowhere is Christianity less attractive than in the Councils of the
      Church.... Intrigue, injustice, violence, decisions on authority
      alone, and that the authority of a turbulent majority, ... detract
      from the reverence and impugn the judgments of at least the later
      Councils. The close is almost invariably a terrible anathema, in
      which it is impossible not to discern the tones of human hatred, of
      arrogant triumph, of rejoicing at the damnation imprecated against
      the humiliated adversary.”—Ibid. vol. i. p. 202.

  412 See the account of this scene in Gibbon, _Decline and Fall_, ch.
      xlvii.; Milman, _Hist. of Latin Christianity_, vol. i. p. 263. There
      is a conflict of authorities as to whether the Bishop of Alexandria
      himself kicked his adversary, or, to speak more correctly, the act
      which is charged against him by some contemporary writers is not
      charged against him by others. The violence was certainly done by
      his followers and in his presence.

  413 Ammianus Marcellinus, xxvii. 3.

  414 Cyprian, _Ep._ lxi.

  415 Milman, _Hist. of Christianity_, vol. ii. p. 306.

  416 Ibid. iii. 10.

  417 “By this time the Old Testament language and sentiment with regard
      to idolatry were completely incorporated with the Christian feeling;
      and when Ambrose enforced on a Christian Emperor the sacred duty of
      intolerance against opinions and practices which scarcely a century
      before had been the established religion of the Empire, his zeal was
      supported by almost the unanimous applause of the Christian
      world.”—Milman’s _Hist. of Christianity_, vol. iii. p. 159.

  418 See the Theodosian laws of Paganism.

  419 This appears from the whole history of the controversy; but the
      prevailing feeling is, I think, expressed with peculiar vividness in
      the following passage:—“Eadmer says (following the words of Bede) in
      Colman’s times there was a sharp controversy about the observing of
      Easter, and other rules of life for churchmen; therefore, this
      question deservedly excited the minds and feeling of many people,
      fearing lest, perhaps, after having received the name of Christians,
      they should run, or had run in vain.”—King’s _Hist. of the Church of
      Ireland_, book ii. ch. vi.

  420 Gibbon, chap. lxiii.

  421 An interesting sketch of this very interesting prelate has lately
      been written by M. Druon, _Étude sur la Vie et les Œuvres de
      Synésius_ (Paris, 1859).

  422 Tradition has pronounced Gregory the Great to have been the
      destroyer of the Palatine library, and to have been especially
      zealous in burning the writings of Livy, because they described the
      achievements of the Pagan gods. For these charges, however (which I
      am sorry to find repeated by so eminent a writer as Dr. Draper),
      there is no real evidence, for they are not found in any writer
      earlier than the twelfth century. (See Bayle, _Dict._ art. “Greg.”)
      The extreme contempt of Gregory for Pagan literature is, however,
      sufficiently manifested in his famous and very curious letter to
      Desiderius, Bishop of Vienne, rebuking him for having taught certain
      persons Pagan literature, and thus mingled “the praises of Jupiter
      with the praises of Christ;” doing what would be impious even for a
      religious layman, “polluting the mind with the blasphemous praises
      of the wicked.” Some curious evidence of the feelings of the
      Christians of the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries, about Pagan
      literature, is given in Guinguené, _Hist. littéraire de l’Italie_,
      tome i. p. 29-31, and some legends of a later period are candidly
      related by one of the most enthusiastic English advocates of the
      Middle Ages. (Maitland, _Dark Ages_.)

  423 Probably the best account of the intellectual history of these times
      is still to be found in the admirable introductory chapters with
      which the Benedictines prefaced each century of their _Hist.
      littéraire de la France_. The Benedictines think (with Hallam) that
      the eighth century was, on the whole, the darkest on the continent,
      though England attained its lowest point somewhat later. Of the
      great protectors of learning Theodoric was unable to write (see
      Guinguené, tome i. p. 31), and Charlemagne (Eginhard) only began to
      learn when advanced in life, and was never quite able to master the
      accomplishment. Alfred, however, was distinguished in literature.

  424 The belief that the world was just about to end was, as is well
      known, very general among the early Christians, and greatly affected
      their lives. It appears in the New Testament, and very clearly in
      the epistle ascribed to Barnabas in the first century. The
      persecutions of the second and third centuries revived it, and both
      Tertullian and Cyprian (_in Demetrianum_) strongly assert it. With
      the triumph of Christianity the apprehension for a time subsided;
      but it reappeared with great force when the dissolution of the
      Empire was manifestly impending, when it was accomplished, and in
      the prolonged anarchy and suffering that ensued. Gregory of Tours,
      writing in the latter part of the sixth century, speaks of it as
      very prevalent (_Prologue to the First Book_); and St. Gregory the
      Great, about the same time, constantly expresses it. The panic that
      filled Europe at the end of the tenth century has been often

  425 Maitland’s _Dark Ages_, p. 403.

  426 This passion for scraping MSS. became common, according to
      Montfaucon, after the twelfth century. (Maitland, p. 40.) According
      to Hallam, however (_Middle Ages_, ch. ix. part i.), it must have
      begun earlier, being chiefly caused by the cessation or great
      diminution of the supply of Egyptian papyrus, in consequence of the
      capture of Alexandria by the Saracens, early in the seventh century.

  427 Bede, _H. E._ iv. 24.

  428 Mariana, _De Rebus Hispaniæ_, vi. 7. Mariana says the stone was in
      his time preserved as a relic.

  429 Odericus Vitalis, quoted by Maitland (_Dark Ages_, pp. 268-269). The
      monk was restored to life that he might have an opportunity of
      reformation. The escape was a narrow one, for there was only one
      letter against which no sin could be adduced—a remarkable instance
      of the advantages of a diffuse style.

  430 Digby, _Mores Catholici_, book x. p. 246. Matthew of Westminster
      tells of a certain king who was very charitable, and whose right
      hand (which had assuaged many sorrows) remained undecayed after
      death (A.D. 644).

  431 See Hauréau, _Hist. de la Philosophie scolastique_, tome i. pp.

  432 On the progress of Roman civilisation in Britain, see Tacitus,
      _Agricola_, xxi.

  433 See the Benedictine _Hist. littér. de la France_, tome i. part ii.
      p. 9.

  434 A biographer of St. Thomas Aquinas modestly observes:—“L’opinion
      généralement répandue parmi les théologiens c’est que la _Somme de
      Théologie_ de St. Thomas est non-seulement son chef-d’œuvre mais
      aussi celui de l’esprit humain.” (!!)—Carle, _Hist. de St.-Thomas
      d’Aquin_, p. 140.

  435 See Viardot, _Hist. des Arabes en Espagne_, ii. 142-166. Prescott’s
      _Ferdinand and Isabella_, ch. viii. Viardot contends that the
      compass—which appears to have been long known in China—was first
      introduced into Europe by the Mohammedans; but the evidence of this
      appears inconclusive.

  436 Herder.

  437 “Impius ne audeto placare donis iram Deorum.”—Cicero, _De Leg._ ii.
      9. See, too, Philost. _Apoll. Tyan._ i. 11.

  438 There are three or four instances of this related by Porphyry, _De
      Abstin. Carnis_, lib. ii.

  439 Muratori, _Antich. Italiane_, diss. lxvii.

  440 See, on the causes of the wealth of the monasteries, two admirable
      dissertations by Muratori, _Antich. Italiane_, lxvii., lxviii.;
      Hallam’s _Middle Ages_, ch. vii. part i.

  441 “Lors de l’établissement du christianisme la religion avoit
      essentiellement consisté dans l’enseignement moral; elle avoit
      exercé les cœurs et les âmes par la recherche de ce qui étoit
      vraiment beau, vraiment honnête. Au cinquième siècle on l’avoit
      surtout attachée à l’orthodoxie, au septième on l’avoit réduite à la
      bienfaisance envers les couvens.”—Sismondi, _Hist. des Français_,
      tome ii. p. 50.

  442 Mr. Hallam, speaking of the legends of the miracles of saints, says:
      “It must not be supposed that these absurdities were produced as
      well as nourished by ignorance. In most cases they were the work of
      deliberate imposture. Every cathedral or monastery had its tutelar
      saint, and every saint his legend, fabricated in order to enrich the
      churches under his protection, by exaggerating his virtues, his
      miracles, and consequently his power of serving those who paid
      liberally for his patronage.”—_Middle Ages_, ch. ix. part i. I do
      not think this passage makes sufficient allowance for the
      unconscious formation of many saintly myths, but no impartial person
      can doubt its substantial truth.

  443 Sismondi, _Hist. des Français_, tome ii. pp. 54, 62-63.

  444 Milman’s _Hist. of Latin Christianity_, vol. ii. p. 257.

  445 Durandus, a French bishop of the thirteenth century, tells how,
      “when a certain bishop was consecrating a church built out of the
      fruits of usury and pillage, he saw behind the altar the devil in a
      pontifical vestment, standing at the bishop’s throne, who said unto
      the bishop, ‘Cease from consecrating the church; for it pertaineth
      to my jurisdiction, since it is built from the fruits of usuries and
      robberies.’ Then the bishop and the clergy having fled thence in
      fear, immediately the devil destroyed that church with a great
      noise.”—_Rationale Divinorum_, i. 6 (translated for the Camden

      A certain St. Launomar is said to have refused a gift for his
      monastery from a rapacious noble, because he was sure it was derived
      from pillage. (Montalembert’s _Moines d’Occident_, tome ii. pp.
      350-351.) When prostitutes were converted in the early Church, it
      was the rule that the money of which they had become possessed
      should never be applied to ecclesiastical purposes, but should be
      distributed among the poor.

_  446 Verba Seniorum_, Prol. § 172.

  447 This vision is not related by St. Gregory himself, and some
      Catholics are perplexed about it, on account of the vision of
      another saint, who afterwards asked whether Trajan was saved, and
      received for answer, “I wish men to rest in ignorance of this
      subject, that the Catholics may become stronger. For this emperor,
      though he had great virtues, was an unbaptised infidel.” The whole
      subject of the vision of St. Gregory is discussed by Champagny, _Les
      Antonins_, tome i. pp. 372-373. This devout writer says, “Cette
      légende fut acceptée par tout le moyen-âge, _indulgent pour les
      païens illustres_ et tout disposé à les supposer chrétiens et

  448 See the solemn asseveration of the care which he took in going only
      to the most credible and authorised sources for his materials, in
      the Preface to the First Book of _Dialogues_.

_  449 Dial._ iv. 36.

  450 Ibid. iv. 30.

  451 Ibid. iv. 35.

  452 The fullest collection of these visions with which I am acquainted
      is that made for the Philobiblion Society (vol. ix.), by M.
      Delepierre, called _L’Enfer décrit par ceux qui l’ont vu_, of which
      I have largely availed myself. See, too, Rusca _De Inferno_,
      Wright’s _Purgatory of St. Patrick_, and an interesting collection
      of visions given by Mr. Longfellow, in his translation of Dante. The
      Irish saints were, I am sorry to say, prominent in producing this
      branch of literature. St. Fursey, whose vision is one of the
      earliest, and Tondale, or Tundale, whose vision is one of the most
      detailed, were both Irish. The English historians contain several of
      these visions. Bede relates two or three—William of Malmesbury that
      of Charles the Fat; Matthew Paris three visions of purgatory.

  453 The narrow bridge over hell (in some visions covered with spikes),
      which is a conspicuous feature in the Mohammedan pictures of the
      future world, appears very often in Catholic visions. See Greg. Tur.
      iv. 33; St. Greg. _Dial._ iv. 36; and the vision of Tundale, in

  454 Few Englishmen, I imagine, are aware of the infamous publications
      written with this object, that are circulated by the Catholic
      priests among the poor. I have before me a tract “for children and
      young persons,” called _The Sight of Hell_, by the Rev. J. Furniss,
      C.S.S.R., published “permissu superiorum,” by Duffy (Dublin and
      London). It is a detailed description of the dungeons of hell, and a
      few sentences may serve as a sample. “See! on the middle of that
      red-hot floor stands a girl; she looks about sixteen years old. Her
      feet are bare. She has neither shoes nor stockings.... Listen! she
      speaks. She says, I have been standing on this red-hot floor for
      years. Day and night my only standing-place has been this red-hot
      floor.... Look at my burnt and bleeding feet. Let me go off this
      burning floor for one moment, only for one single short moment....
      The fourth dungeon is the boiling kettle ... in the middle of it
      there is a boy.... His eyes are burning like two burning coals. Two
      long flames come out of his ears.... Sometimes he opens his mouth,
      and blazing fire rolls out. But listen! there is a sound like a
      kettle boiling.... The blood is boiling in the scalded veins of that
      boy. The brain is boiling and bubbling in his head. The marrow is
      boiling in his bones.... The fifth dungeon is the red-hot oven....
      The little child is in this red-hot oven. Hear how it screams to
      come out. See how it turns and twists itself about in the fire. It
      beats its head against the roof of the oven. It stamps its little
      feet on the floor.... God was very good to this child. Very likely
      God saw it would get worse and worse, and would never repent, and so
      it would have to be punished much more in hell. So God in His mercy
      called it out of the world in its early childhood.” If the reader
      desires to follow this subject further, he may glance over a
      companion tract by the same reverend gentleman, called _A Terrible
      Judgment on a Little Child_; and also a book on _Hell_, translated
      from the Italian of Pinamonti, and with illustrations depicting the
      various tortures.

  455 St. Greg. _Dial._ iv. 38.

  456 Ibid. iv. 18.

  457 Alger’s _History of the Doctrine of a Future Life_ (New York, 1866),
      p. 414. The ignis fatuus was sometimes supposed to be the soul of an
      unbaptised child. There is, I believe, another Catholic legend about
      the redbreast, of a very different kind—that its breast was stained
      with blood when it was trying to pull out the thorns from the crown
      of Christ.

  458 Wright’s _Purgatory of St. Patrick_, p. 26. M. Delepierre quotes a
      curious theory of Father Hardouin (who is chiefly known for his
      suggestion that the classics were composed by the mediæval monks)
      that the rotation of the earth is caused by the lost souls trying to
      escape from the fire that is at the centre of the globe, climbing,
      in consequence, on the inner crust of the earth, which is the wall
      of hell, and thus making the whole revolve, as the squirrel by
      climbing turns its cage! (_L’Enfer décrit par ceux qui l’ont vu_, p.

  459 Delepierre, p. 70.

  460 Thus, in a book which was attributed (it is said erroneously) to
      Jeremy Taylor, we find two singularly unrhetorical and unimpassioned
      chapters, deliberately enumerating the most atrocious acts of
      cruelty in human history, and maintaining that they are surpassed by
      the tortures inflicted by the Deity. A few instances will suffice.
      Certain persons “put rings of iron, stuck full of sharp points of
      needles, about their arms and feet, in such a manner as the
      prisoners could not move without wounding themselves; then they
      compassed them about with fire, to the end that, standing still,
      they might be burnt alive, and if they stirred the sharp points
      pierced their flesh.... What, then, shall be the torment of the
      damned where they shall burn eternally without dying, and without
      possibility of removing?... Alexander, the son of Hyrcanus, caused
      eight hundred to be crucified, and whilst they were yet alive caused
      their wives and children to be murdered before their eyes, that so
      they might not die once, but many deaths. This rigour shall not be
      wanting in hell.... Mezentius tied a living body to a dead until the
      putrefied exhalations of the dead had killed the living.... What is
      this in respect of hell, when each body of the damned is more
      loathsome and unsavoury than a million of dead dogs?... Bonaventure
      says, if one of the damned were brought into this world it were
      sufficient to infect the whole earth.... We are amazed to think of
      the inhumanity of Phalaris, who roasted men alive in his brazen
      bull. That was a joy in respect of that fire of hell.... This
      torment ... comprises as many torments as the body of man has
      joints, sinews, arteries, &c., being caused by that penetrating and
      real fire, of which this temporal fire is but a painted fire....
      What comparison will there be between burning for a hundred years’
      space, and to be burning without interruption as long as God is
      God?”—_Contemplations on the State of Man_, book ii. ch. 6-7, in
      Heber’s Edition of the works of Taylor.

  461 Perrone, _Historiæ Theologiæ cum Philosophia comparata Synopsis_, p.
      29. Peter Lombard’s work was published in A.D. 1160.

  462 “Postremo quæritur, An pœna reproborum visa decoloret gloriam
      beatorum? an eorum beatitudini proficiat? De hoc ita Gregorius ait,
      Apud animum justorum non obfuscat beatitudinem aspecta pœna
      reproborum; quia ubi jam compassio miseriæ non erit, minuere
      beatorum lætitiam non valebit. Et licet justis sua gaudia
      sufficiant, ad majorem gloriam vident pœnas malorum quas per gratiam
      evaserunt.... Egredientur ergo electi, non loco, sed intelligentia
      vel visione manifesta ad videndum impiorum cruciatus; quos videntes
      non dolore afficientur sed lætitia satiabuntur, agentes gratias de
      sua liberatione visa impiorum ineffabili calamitate. Unde Esaias
      impiorum tormenta describens et ex eorum visione lætitiam bonorum
      exprimens, ait, Egredientur electi scilicet et videbunt cadavera
      virorum qui prævaricati sunt in me. Vermis eorum non morietur et
      ignis non extinguetur, et erunt usque ad satietatem visionis omni
      carni, id est electis. Lætabitur justus cum viderit
      vindictam.”—Peter Lombard, _Senten._ lib. iv. finis. These amiable
      views have often been expressed both by Catholic and by Puritan
      divines. See Alger’s _Doctrine of a Future Life_, p. 541.

_  463 Legenda Aurea._ There is a curious fresco representing this
      transaction, on the portal of the church of St. Lorenzo, near Rome.

  464 Aimoni, _De Gestis Francorum Hist._ iv. 34.

  465 Turpin’s _Chronicle_, ch. 32. In the vision of Watlin, however (A.D.
      824), Charlemagne was seen tortured in purgatory on account of his
      excessive love of women. (Delepierre, _L’Enfer décrit par ceux qui
      l’ont vu_, pp. 27-28.)

  466 As the Abbé Mably observes: “On croyoit en quelque sorte dans ces
      siècles grossiers que l’avarice étoit le premier attribut de Dieu,
      et que les saints faisoient un commerce de leur crédit et de leur
      protection. De-là les richesses immenses données aux églises par des
      hommes dont les mœurs déshonoroient la religion.”—_Observations sur
      l’Hist. de France_, i. 4.

  467 Many curious examples of the way in which the Troubadours burlesqued
      the monkish visions of hell are given by Delepierre, p.
      144.—Wright’s _Purgatory of St. Patrick_, pp. 47-52.

  468 Comte, _Philosophie positive_, tome v. p. 269.

  469 “Saint-Bernard, dans son sermon _De obitu Humberti_, affirme que
      tous les tourments de cette vie sont joies si on les compare à une
      seconde des peines du purgatoire. ‘Imaginez-vous donc, délicates
      dames,’ dit le père Valladier (1613) dans son sermon du 3me dimanche
      de l’Avent, ‘d’estre au travers de vos chenets, sur vostre petit feu
      pour une centaine d’ans: ce n’est rien au respect d’un moment de
      purgatoire. Mais si vous vistes jamais tirer quelqu’un à quatre
      chevaux, quelqu’un brusler à petit feu, enrager de faim ou de soif,
      une heure de purgatoire est pire que tout cela.’ ”—Meray, _Les
      Libres Prêcheurs_ (Paris, 1860), pp. 130-131 (an extremely curious
      and suggestive book). I now take up the first contemporary book of
      popular Catholic devotion on this subject which is at hand, and
      read: “Compared with the pains of purgatory, then, all those wounds
      and dark prisons, all those wild beasts, hooks of iron, red-hot
      plates, &c., which the holy martyrs suffered, are nothing.” “They
      (souls in purgatory) are in a real, though miraculous manner,
      tortured by fire, which is of the same kind (says Bellarmine) as our
      element fire.” “The Angelic Doctor affirms ‘that the fire which
      torments the damned is like the fire which purges the elect.’ ”
      “What agony will not those holy souls suffer when tied and bound
      with the most tormenting chains of a living fire like to that of
      hell! and we, while able to make them free and happy, shall we stand
      like uninterested spectators?” “St. Austin is of opinion that the
      pains of a soul in purgatory during the time required to open and
      shut one’s eye is more severe than what St. Lawrence suffered on the
      gridiron;” and much more to the same effect. (_Purgatory opened to
      the Piety of the Faithful._ Richardson, London.)

  470 See Delepierre, Wright, and Alger.

  471 This appears from the vision of Thurcill. (Wright’s _Purgatory of
      St. Patrick_, p. 42.) Brompton (_Chronicon_) tells of an English
      landlord who had refused to pay tithes. St. Augustine, having vainly
      reasoned with him, at last convinced him by a miracle. Before
      celebrating mass he ordered all excommunicated persons to leave the
      church, whereupon a corpse got out of a grave and walked away. The
      corpse, on being questioned, said it was the body of an ancient
      Briton who refused to pay tithes, and had in consequence been
      excommunicated and damned.

  472 Greg. _Dial._ iv. 40.

  473 As Sismondi says: “Pendant quatre-vingts ans, tout au moins, il n’y
      eut pas un Franc qui songeât à transmettre à la postérité la mémoire
      des événements contemporains, et pendant le même espace de temps il
      n’y eut pas un personnage puissant qui ne bâtit des temples pour la
      postérité la plus reculée.”—_Hist. des Français_, tome ii. p. 46.

  474 Gibbon says of the period during which the Merovingian dynasty
      reigned, that “it would be difficult to find anywhere more vice or
      less virtue.” Hallam reproduces this observation, and adds: “The
      facts of these times are of little other importance than as they
      impress on the mind a thorough notion of the extreme wickedness of
      almost every person concerned in them, and consequently of the state
      to which society was reduced.”—_Hist. of the Middle Ages_, ch. i.
      Dean Milman is equally unfavourable and emphatic in his judgment.
      “It is difficult to conceive a more dark and odious state of society
      than that of France under her Merovingian kings, the descendants of
      Clovis, as described by Gregory of Tours. In the conflict of
      barbarism with Roman Christianity, barbarism has introduced into
      Christianity all its ferocity with none of its generosity and
      magnanimity; its energy shows itself in atrocity of cruelty, and
      even of sensuality. Christianity has given to barbarism hardly more
      than its superstition and its hatred of heretics and unbelievers.
      Throughout, assassinations, parricides, and fratricides intermingle
      with adulteries and rapes.”—_History of Latin Christianity_, vol. i.
      p. 365.

  475 Greg. Tur. iv. 12. Gregory mentions (v. 41) another bishop who used
      to become so intoxicated as to be unable to stand; and St. Boniface,
      after describing the extreme sensuality of the clergy of his time,
      adds that there are some bishops “qui licet dicant se fornicarios
      vel adulteros non esse, sed sunt ebriosi et injuriosi,” &c.—_Ep._

  476 Greg. Tur. iv. 12.

  477 Ibid. viii. 29. She gave them knives with hollow grooves, filled
      with poison, in the blades.

  478 Ibid. vii. 20.

  479 Ibid. viii. 31-41.

  480 Ibid. v. 19.

  481 See his very curious correspondence with her.—_Ep._ vi. 5, 50, 59;
      ix. 11, 117; xi. 62-63.

  482 Avitus, _Ep._ v. He adds: “Minuebat regni felicitas numerum regalium

  483 See the emphatic testimony of St. Boniface in the eighth century.
      “Modo autem maxima ex parte per civitates episcopales sedes traditæ
      sunt laicis cupidis ad possidendum, vel adulteratis clericis,
      scortatoribus et publicanis sæculariter ad perfruendum.”—_Epist._
      xlix. “ad Zachariam.” The whole epistle contains an appalling
      picture of the clerical vices of the times.

  484 More than one Council made decrees about this. See the _Vie de St.
      Léger_, by Dom Pitra, pp. 172-177.

  485 Greg. Tur. iv. 43. St. Boniface, at a much later period (A.D. 742),
      talks of bishops “Qui pugnant in exercitu armati et effundunt
      propria manu sanguinem hominum.”—_Ep._ xlix.

  486 Greg. Tur. iv. 26.

  487 Ibid. iv. 20.

  488 Ibid. iii. 26.

  489 Ibid. ix. 34.

  490 Ibid. viii. 19. Gregory says this story should warn clergymen not to
      meddle with the wives of other people, but “content themselves with
      those that they may possess without crime.” The abbot had previously
      tried to seduce the husband within the precincts of the monastery,
      that he might murder him.

  491 Ibid. v. 3.

  492 Ibid. viii. 39. She was guilty of many other crimes, which the
      historian says “it is better to pass in silence.” The bishop himself
      had been guilty of outrageous and violent tyranny. The marriage of
      ecclesiastics appears at this time to have been common in Gaul,
      though the best men commonly deserted their wives when they were
      ordained. Another bishop’s wife (iv. 36) was notorious for her

  493 Fredigarius, xlii. The historian describes Clotaire as a perfect
      paragon of Christian graces.

  494 “Au sixième siècle on compte 214 établissements religieux des
      Pyrénées à la Loire et des bouches du Rhône aux Vosges.”—Ozanam,
      _Études germaniques_, tome ii. p. 93. In the two following centuries
      the ecclesiastical wealth was enormously increased.

  495 Matthew of Westminster (A.D. 757) speaks of no less than eight Saxon
      kings having done this.

  496 “Le septième siècle est celui peut-être qui a donné le plus de
      saints au calendrier.”—Sismondi, _Hist. de France_, tome ii. p. 50.
      “Le plus beau titre du septième siècle à une réhabilitation c’est le
      nombre considérable de saints qu’il a produits.... Aucun siècle n’a
      été ainsi glorifié sauf l’âge des martyrs dont Dieu s’est réservé de
      compter le nombre. Chaque année fournit sa moisson, chaque jour a sa
      gerbe.... Si donc il plaît à Dieu et au Christ de répandre à pleines
      mains sur un siècle les splendeurs des saints, qu’importe que
      l’histoire et la gloire humaine en tiennent peu compte?”—Pitra, _Vie
      de St. Léger_, Introd. p. x.-xi. This learned and very credulous
      writer (who is now a cardinal) afterwards says that we have the
      record of more than eight hundred saints of the seventh century.
      (Introd. p. lxxx.)

  497 See, e.g., the very touching passage about the death of his
      children, v. 35.

  498 Lib. ii. Prologue.

  499 Greg. Tur. ii. 27-43.

  500 He observes how impossible it was that he could be guilty of
      shedding the blood of a relation: “Sed in his ego nequaquam conscius
      sum. Nec enim possum sanguinem parentum meorum effundere.”—Greg.
      Tur. ii. 40.

  501 “Prosternebat enim quotidie Deus hostes ejus sub manu ipsius, et
      augebat regnum ejus eo quod ambularet recto corde coram eo, et
      faceret quæ placita erant in oculis ejus.”—Greg. Tur. ii. 40.

  502 Lib. iii. Prologue. St. Avitus enumerates in glowing terms the
      Christian virtues of Clovis (_Ep._ xli.), but, as this was in a
      letter addressed to the king himself, the eulogy may easily be

  503 Thus Hallam says: “There are continual proofs of immorality in the
      monkish historians. In the history of Rumsey Abbey, one of our best
      documents for Anglo-Saxon times, we have an anecdote of a bishop who
      made a Danish nobleman drunk, that he might cheat him out of an
      estate, which is told with much approbation. Walter de Hemingford
      records, with excessive delight, the well-known story of the Jews
      who were persuaded by the captain of their vessel to walk on the
      sands at low water till the rising tide drowned them.”—Hallam’s
      _Middle Ages_ (12th ed.), iii. p. 306.

  504 Canciani, _Leges Barbarorum_, vol. iii. p. 64. Canciani notices,
      that among the Poles the teeth of the offending persons were pulled
      out. The following passage, from Bodin, is, I think, very
      remarkable: “Les loix et canons veulent qu’on pardonne aux
      hérétiques repentis (combien que les magistrats en quelques lieux
      par cy-devant, y ont eu tel esgard, que celui qui avoit mangé de la
      chair au Vendredy estoit bruslé tout vif, comme il fut faict en la
      ville d’Angers l’an mil cinq cens trente-neuf, s’il ne s’en
      repentoit: et jaçoit qu’il se repentist si estoit-il pendu par
      compassion).”—_Démonomanie des Sorciers_, p. 216.

  505 A long list of examples of extreme maceration, from lives of the
      saints of the seventh and eighth centuries is given by Pitra, _Vie
      de St. Léger_, Introd. pp. cv.-cvii.

  506 This was related of St. Equitius.—Greg. _Dialog._ i. 4.

  507 Ibid. i. 5. This saint was named Constantius.

  508 A vast number of miracles of this kind are recorded. See, e.g.,
      Greg. Tur. _De Miraculis_, i. 61-66; _Hist._ iv. 49. Perhaps the
      most singular instance of the violation of the sanctity of the
      church was that by the nuns of a convent founded by St. Radegunda.
      They, having broken into rebellion, four bishops, with their
      attendant clergy, went to compose the dispute, and having failed,
      excommunicated the rebels, whereupon the nuns almost beat them to
      death in the church.—Greg. Tur. ix. 41.

  509 See Canciani, _Leges Barbarorum_, vol. iii. pp. 19, 151.

  510 Much information about these measures is given by Dr. Hessey, in his
      _Bampton Lectures on Sunday_. See especially, lect. 3. See, too,
      Moehler, _Le Christianisme et l’Esclavage_, pp. 186-187.

  511 Gregory of Tours enumerates some instances of this in his
      extravagant book _De Miraculis_, ii. 11; iv. 57; v. 7. One of these
      cases, however, was for having worked on the day of St. John the
      Baptist. Some other miracles of the same nature, taken, I believe,
      from English sources, are given in Hessey’s _Sunday_ (3rd edition),
      p. 321.

  512 Compare Pitra, _Vie de St.-Léger_, p. 137. Sismondi, _Hist. des
      Français_, tome ii. pp. 62-63.

  513 See a remarkable passage from his life, cited by Guizot, _Hist. de
      la Civilisation en France_, xviime leçon. The English historians
      contain several instances of the activity of charity in the darkest
      period. Alfred and Edward the Confessor were conspicuous for it.
      Ethelwolf is said to have provided, “for the good of his soul,”
      that, till the day of judgment, one poor man in ten should be
      provided with meat, drink, and clothing. (Asser’s _Life of Alfred_.)
      There was a popular legend that a poor man having in vain asked alms
      of some sailors, all the bread in their vessel was turned into
      stone. (Roger of Wendover, A.D. 606.) See, too, another legend of
      charity in Matthew of Westminster, A.D. 611.

  514 Greg. Tur. _Hist._ v. 8.

  515 M. Guizot has given several specimens of this (_Hist. de la
      Civilis._ xviime leçon).

  516 This portion of mediæval history has lately been well traced by Mr.
      Maclear, in his _History of Christian Missions in the Middle Ages_
      (1863). See, too, Montalembert’s _Moines d’Occident_; Ozanam’s
      _Études germaniques_. The original materials are to be found in
      Bede, and in the _Lives of the Saints_—especially that of St.
      Columba, by Adamnan. On the French missionaries, see the Benedictine
      _Hist. lit. de la France_, tome iv. p. 5; and on the English
      missionaries, Sharon Turner’s _Hist. of England_, book x. ch. ii.

  517 Dion Chrysostom, _Or._ ii. (_De Regno_).

  518 Gibbon, ch. xvi.

  519 Origen, _Cels._ lib. viii.

  520 “Navigamus et nos vobiscum et militamus.”—Tert. _Apol._ xlii. See,
      too, Grotius _De Jure_, i. cap. ii.

  521 See an admirable dissertation on the opinions of the early
      Christians about military service, in Le Blant, _Inscriptions
      chrétiennes de la Gaule_, tome i. pp. 81-87. The subject is
      frequently referred to by Barbeyrac, _Morale des Pères_, and
      Grotius, _De Jure_, lib. i. cap. ii.

  522 Philostorgius, ii. 5.

  523 See some excellent remarks on this change, in Milman’s _History of
      Christianity_, vol. ii. pp. 287-288.

  524 Mably, _Observations sur l’Histoire de France_, i. 6; Hallam’s
      _Middle Ages_, ch. ii. part ii.

  525 Wakeman’s _Archæologia Hibernica_, p. 21. However, Giraldus
      Cambrensis observes that the Irish saints were peculiarly
      vindictive, and St. Columba and St. Comgall are said to have been
      leaders in a sanguinary conflict about a church near Coleraine. See
      Reeve’s edition of Adamnan’s _Life of St. Columba_, pp. lxxvii. 253.

  526 Campion’s _Historie of Ireland_ (1571), book i. ch. vi.

  527 It seems curious to find in so calm and unfanatical a writer as
      Justus Lipsius the following passage: “Jam et invasio quædam
      legitima videtur etiam sine injuria, ut in barbaros et moribus aut
      _religione_ prorsum a nobis abhorrentes.”—_Politicorum sive Civilis
      Doctrinæ libri_ (Paris, 1594), lib. iv. ch. ii. cap. iv.

  528 “Con l’occasione di queste cose Plutarco nel _Teseo_ dice che gli
      eroi si recavano a grande onore e si reputavano in pregio d’armi con
      l’esser chiamati ladroni; siccome a’ tempi barbari ritornati quello
      di Corsale era titolo riputato di signoria; d’intorno a’ quali tempi
      venuto Solone, si dice aver permesso nelle sue leggi le società per
      cagion di prede; tanto Solone ben intese questa nostra compiuta
      Umanità, nella quale costoro non godono del diritto natural delle
      genti! Ma quel che fa più maraviglia è che Platone ed Aristotile
      posero il ladroneccio fralle spezie della caccia e con tali e tanti
      filosofi d’una gente umanissima convengono con la loro barbarie i
      Germani antichi; appo i quali al referire di Cesare ì ladronecci non
      solo non eran infami, ma si tenevano tra gli esercizi della virtù
      siccome tra quelli che per costume non applicando ad arte alcuna
      così fuggivano l’ozio.”—Vico, _Scienza Nuova_, ii. 6. See, too,
      Whewell’s _Elements of Morality_, book vi. ch. ii.

  529 The ancient right of war is fully discussed by Grotius, _De Jure_,
      lib. iii. See, especially, the horrible catalogue of tragedies in
      cap. 4. The military feeling that regards capture as disgraceful,
      had probably some, though only a very subordinate, influence in
      producing cruelty to the prisoners.

  530 “Le jour où Athènes décréta que tous les Mityléniens, sans
      distinction de sexe ni d’âge, seraient exterminés, elle ne croyait
      pas dépasser son droit; quand le lendemain elle revint sur son
      décret et se contenta de mettre à mort mille citoyens et de
      confisquer toutes les terres, elle se crut humaine et indulgente.
      Après la prise de Platée les hommes furent égorgés, les femmes
      vendues, et personne n’accusa les vainqueurs d’avoir violé le
      droit.... C’est en vertu de ce droit de la guerre que Rome a étendu
      la solitude autour d’elle; du territoire où les Volsques avaient
      vingt-trois cités elle a fait les marais pontins; les
      cinquante-trois villes du Latium ont disparu; dans le Samnium on put
      longtemps reconnaître les lieux où les armées romaines avaient
      passé, moins aux vestiges de leurs camps qu’à la solitude qui
      règnait aux environs.”—Fustel de Coulanges, _La Cité antique_, pp.

  531 Plato, _Republic_, lib. v.; Bodin, _République_, liv. i. cap. 5.

  532 Grote, _Hist. of Greece_, vol. viii. p. 224. Agesilaus was also very
      humane to captives.—Ibid. pp. 365-6.

  533 This appears continually in Livy, but most of all, I think, in the
      Gaulish historian, Florus.

  534 Scipio and Trajan.

  535 See some very remarkable passages in Grotius, _De Jure Bell_. lib.
      iii. cap. 4, § 19.

  536 These mitigations are fully enumerated by Ayala, _De Jure et
      Officiis Bellicis_ (Antwerp, 1597), Grotius, _De Jure_. It is
      remarkable that both Ayala and Grotius base their attempts to
      mitigate the severity of war chiefly upon the writings and examples
      of the Pagans. The limits of the right of conquerors and the just
      causes of war are discussed by Cicero, _De Offic._ lib. i.

  537 In England the change seems to have immediately followed conversion.
      “The evangelical precepts of peace and love,” says a very learned
      historian, “did not put an end to war, they did not put an end to
      aggressive conquests, but they distinctly humanised the way in which
      war was carried on. From this time forth the never-ending wars with
      the Welsh cease to be wars of extermination. The heathen English had
      been satisfied with nothing short of the destruction and expulsion
      of their enemies; the Christian English thought it enough to reduce
      them to political subjection.... The Christian Welsh could now sit
      down as subjects of the Christian Saxon. The Welshman was
      acknowledged as a man and a citizen, and was put under the
      protection of the law.”—Freeman’s _Hist. of the Norman Conquest_,
      vol. i. pp. 33-34. Christians who assisted infidels in wars were
      _ipso facto_ excommunicated, and might therefore be enslaved, but
      all others were free from slavery. “Et quidem inter Christianos
      laudabili et antiqua consuetudine introductum est, ut capti hinc
      inde, utcunque justo bello, non fierent servi, sed liberi
      servarentur donec solvant precium redemptionis.”—Ayala, lib. i. cap.
      5. “This rule, at least,” says Grotius, “(though but a small matter)
      the reverence for the Christian law has enforced, which Socrates
      vainly sought to have established among the Greeks.” The Mohammedans
      also made it a rule not to enslave their co-religionists.—Grotius,
      _De Jure_, iii. 7, § 9. Pagan and barbarian prisoners were, however,
      sold as slaves (especially by the Spaniards) till very recently.

  538 The character of Constantine, and the estimate of it in Eusebius,
      are well treated by Dean Stanley, _Lectures on the Eastern Church_
      (Lect. vi.).

  539 Theodoret, iii. 28.

  540 They are collected by Chateaubriand, _Études hist._ 2me disc. 2me

  541 See St. Gregory’s oration on _Cesarius_.

  542 Sozomen, vi. 2.

_  543 Ep._ xiii. 31-39. In the second of these letters (which is
      addressed to Leontia), he says: “Rogare forsitan debui ut ecclesiam
      beati Petri apostoli quæ nunc usque gravibus insidiis laboravit,
      haberet Vestra Tranquillitas specialiter commendatam. Sed qui scio
      quia omnipotentem Deum diligitis, non debeo petere quod sponte ex
      benignitate vestræ pietatis exhibetis.”

  544 See the graphic description in Gibbon, ch. liii.

  545 Baronius.

  546 Mably, ii. 1; Gibbon, ch. xlix.

  547 There are some good remarks upon the way in which, among the free
      Franks, the bishops taught the duty of passive obedience, in Mably,
      _Obs. sur l’Histoire de France_, livre i. ch. iii. Gregory of Tours,
      in his address to Chilperic, had said: “If any of us, O king,
      transgress the boundaries of justice, thou art at hand to correct
      us; but if thou shouldest exceed them, who is to condemn thee? We
      address thee, and if it please thee thou listenest to us; but if it
      please thee not, who is to condemn thee save He who has proclaimed
      Himself Justice.”—Greg. Tur. v. 19. On the other hand, Hincmar,
      Archbishop of Rheims, strongly asserted the obligation of kings to
      observe the law, and denounced as diabolical the doctrine that they
      are subject to none but God. (Allen, _On the Royal Prerogative_
      (1849), pp. 171-172.)

  548 The exact degree of the authority of the barbarian kings, and the
      different stages by which their power was increased, are matters of
      great controversy. The reader may consult Thierry’s _Lettres sur
      l’Hist. de France_ (let. 9); Guizot’s _Hist. de la Civilisation_;
      Mably, _Observ. sur l’Hist. de France_; Freeman’s _Hist. of the
      Norman Conquest_, vol. i.

  549 Fauriel, _Hist. de la Poésie provençale_, tome ii. p. 252.

  550 Ibid, p. 258.

  551 Le Grand D’Aussy, _Fabliaux_, préf. p. xxiv. These romances were
      accounts of his expeditions to Spain, to Languedoc, and to

  552 The ἕδνα of the Greeks.

  553 Legouvé, _Histoire morale des Femmes_, pp. 95-96.

  554 Gen. xxix., xxxiv. 12; Deut. xxii. 29; 1 Sam. xviii. 25.

  555 The history of dowries is briefly noticed by Grote, _Hist. of
      Greece_, vol. ii. pp. 112-113; and more fully by Lord Kames, in the
      admirable chapter “On the Progress of the Female Sex,” in his
      _Sketches of the History of Man_, a book less read than it deserves
      to be. M. Legouvé has also devoted a chapter to it in his _Hist.
      morale des Femmes_. See, too, Legendre, _Traité de l’Opinion_, tome
      ii. pp. 329-330. We find traces of the dowry, as well as of the
      ἕδνα, in Homer. Penelope had received a dowry from Icarus, her
      father. M. Michelet, in one of those fanciful books which he has
      recently published, maintains a view of the object of the ἕδνα which
      I do not remember to have seen elsewhere, and which I do not
      believe. He says: “Ce prix n’est point un achat de la femme, mais
      une indemnité qui dédommage la famille du père pour les enfants
      futurs, qui ne profiteront pas à cette famille mais à celle où la
      femme va entrer.”—_La Femme_, p. 166.

  556 In Rome, when the separation was due to the misconduct of the wife,
      the dowry belonged to her husband.

  557 “Dotem non uxor marito sed uxori maritus offert.”—Tac. _Germ._
      xviii. On the Morgengab, see Canciani, _Leges Barbarorum_ (Venetiis,
      1781), vol. i. pp. 102-104; ii. pp. 230-231. Muratori, _Antich.
      Ital._ diss. xx. Luitprand enacted that no Longobard should give
      more than one-fourth of his substance as a Morgengab. In Gregory of
      Tours (ix. 20) we have an example of the gift of some cities as a

  558 See, on this point, Aul. Gellius, _Noct. Att._ xv. 20. Euripides is
      said to have had two wives.

  559 Aristotle said that Homer never gives a concubine to Menelaus, in
      order to intimate his respect for Helen—though false. (_Athenæus_,
      xiii. 3.)

  560 Æschylus has put this curious notion into the mouth of Apollo, in a
      speech in the _Eumenides_. It has, however, been very widely
      diffused, and may be found in Indian, Greek, Roman, and even
      Christian writers. M. Legouvé, who has devoted a very curious
      chapter to the subject, quotes a passage from St. Thomas Aquinas,
      accepting it, and arguing from it, that a father should be more
      loved than a mother. M. Legouvé says that when the male of one
      animal and the female of another are crossed, the type of the female
      usually predominates in the offspring. See Legouvé, _Hist. morale
      des Femmes_, pp. 216-228; Fustel de Coulanges, _La Cité antique_,
      pp. 39-40; and also a curious note by Boswell, in Croker’s edition
      of Boswell’s _Life of Johnson_ (1847), p. 472.

  561 Dr. Vintras, in a remarkable pamphlet (London, 1867) _On the
      Repression of Prostitution_, shows from the police statistics that
      the number of prostitutes _known to the police_ in England and
      Wales, in 1864, was 49,370; and this is certainly much below the
      entire number. These, it will be observed, comprise only the
      habitual, professional prostitutes.

  562 Some measures have recently been taken in a few garrison towns. The
      moral sentiment of the community, it appears, would be shocked if
      Liverpool were treated on the same principles as Portsmouth. This
      very painful and revolting, but most important, subject has been
      treated with great knowledge, impartiality, and ability, by
      Parent-Duchâtelet, in his famous work, _La Prostitution dans la
      ville de Paris_. The third edition contains very copious
      supplementary accounts, furnished by different doctors in different

  563 Parent-Duchâtelet has given many statistics, showing the very large
      extent to which the French system of supervision deters those who
      were about to enter into prostitution, and reclaims those who had
      entered into it. He and Dr. Vintras concur in representing English
      prostitution as about the most degraded, and at the same time the
      most irrevocable.

  564 Miss Mulock, in her amiable but rather feeble book, called _A
      Woman’s Thoughts about Women_, has some good remarks on this point
      (pp. 291-293), which are all the more valuable, as the authoress has
      not the faintest sympathy with any opinions concerning the character
      and position of women which are not strictly conventional. She
      notices the experience of Sunday school mistresses, that, of their
      pupils who are seduced, an extremely large proportion are “of the
      very best, refined, intelligent, truthful, and affectionate.”

  565 See the very singular and painful chapter in Parent-Duchâtelet,
      called “Mœurs et Habitudes des Prostituées.” He observes that they
      are remarkable for their kindness to one another in sickness or in
      distress; that they are not unfrequently charitable to poor people
      who do not belong to their class; that when one of them has a child,
      it becomes the object of very general interest and affection; that
      most of them have lovers, to whom they are sincerely attached; that
      they rarely fail to show in the hospitals a very real sense of
      shame; and that many of them entered into their mode of life for the
      purpose of supporting aged parents. One anecdote is worth giving in
      the words of the author: “Un médecin n’entrant jamais dans leurs
      salles sans ôter légèrement son chapeau, par cette seule politesse
      il sut tellement conquérir leur confiance qu’il leur faisait faire
      tout ce qu’il voulait.” This writer, I may observe, is not a romance
      writer or a theorist of any description. He is simply a physician
      who describes the results of a very large official experience.

  566 “Parent-Duchâtelet atteste que sur trois mille créatures perdues
      trente cinq seulement avaient un état qui pouvait les nourrir, et
      que quatorze cents avaient été précipitées dans cette horrible vie
      par la misère. Une d’elles, quand elle s’y résolut, n’avait pas
      mangé depuis trois jours.”—Legouvé, _Hist. morale des Femmes_, pp.

  567 Concerning the position and character of Greek women, the reader may
      obtain ample information by consulting Becker’s _Charicles_
      (translated by Metcalfe, 1845); Rainneville, _La Femme dans
      l’Antiquité_ (Paris, 1865); and an article “On Female Society in
      Greece,” in the twenty-second volume of the _Quarterly Review_.

  568 Plutarch, _Conj. Præc._

  569 Xenophon, _Econ._ ii.

  570 Plut. _Conj. Præc._ There is also an extremely beautiful picture of
      the character of a good wife in Aristotle. (_Economics_, book i.
      cap. vii.)

  571 See Alexander’s _History of Women_ (London, 1783), vol. i. p. 201.

  572 Plutarch, _Phocion_.

  573 Our information concerning the Greek courtesans is chiefly derived
      from the thirteenth book of the _Deipnosophists_ of Athenæus, from
      the _Letters_ of Alciphron, from the _Dialogues_ of Lucian on
      courtesans, and from the oration of Demosthenes against Neæra. See,
      too, Xenophon, _Memorabilia_, iii. 11; and among modern books,
      Becker’s _Charicles_. Athenæus was an Egyptian, whose exact date is
      unknown but who appears to have survived Ulpian, who died in A.D.
      228. He had access to, and gave extracts from, many works on this
      subject, which have now perished. Alciphron is believed to have
      lived near the time of Lucian.

  574 According to some writers the word “venerari” comes from “Venerem
      exercere,” on account of the devotions in the temple of Venus. See
      Vossius, _Etymologicon Linguæ Latinæ_, “veneror;” also La Mothe le
      Vayer, _Lettre_ xc.

  575 On the connection of the courtesans with the artistic enthusiasm,
      see Raoul Rochette, _Cours d’Archéologie_, pp. 278-279. See, too,
      Athenæus, xiii. 59; Pliny, _Hist. Nat._ xxxv. 40.

  576 See the very curious little work of Ménage, _Historia Mulierum
      Philosopharum_ (Lugduni, MDXC.); also Rainneville, _La Femme dans
      l’Antiquite_, p. 244. At a much later date Lucian described the
      beauty, accomplishments, generosity, and even modesty, of Panthea of
      Smyrna, the favourite mistress of Lucius Verus.

  577 The ζῶμα, which was at first in use, was discarded by the
      Lacedæmonians, and afterwards by the other Greeks. There are three
      curious memoirs tracing the history of the change, by M. Burette, in
      the _Hist. de l’Académie royale des Inscriptions_, tome i.

  578 On the causes of paiderastia in Greece, see the remarks of Mr. Grote
      in the review of the _Symposium_, in his great work on Plato. The
      whole subject is very ably treated by M. Maury, _Hist. des Religions
      de la Gréce antique_, tome iii. pp. 35-39. Many facts connected with
      it are collected by Döllinger, in his _Jew and Gentile_, and by
      Chateaubriand, in his _Études historiques_. The chief original
      authority is the thirteenth book of Athenæus, a book of very painful
      interest in the history of morals.

  579 Plutarch, in his _Life of Agesilaus_, dwells on the intense
      self-control manifested by that great man, in refraining from
      gratifying a passion he had conceived for a boy named Megabetes, and
      Maximus Tyrius says it deserved greater praise than the heroism of
      Leonidas. (_Diss._ xxv.) Diogenes Laërtius, in his _Life of Zeno_,
      the founder of Stoicism, the most austere of all ancient sects,
      praises that philosopher for being but little addicted to this vice.
      Sophocles is said to have been much addicted to it.

  580 Some examples of the ascription of this vice to the divinities are
      given by Clem. Alex. _Admonitio ad Gentes_. Socrates is said to have
      maintained that Jupiter loved Ganymede for his wisdom, as his name
      is derived from γάνυμαι and μῆδος, to be delighted with prudence.
      (Xenophon, _Banquet_.) The disaster of Cannæ was ascribed to the
      jealousy of Juno because a beautiful boy was introduced into the
      temple of Jupiter. (Lactantius, _Inst. Div._ ii. 17.)

  581 Athenæus, xiii. 78. See, too, the very revolting book on different
      kinds of love, ascribed (it is said falsely) to Lucian.

  582 Pliny, _Hist. Nat._ xxxiv. 9.

  583 There is ample evidence of this in Athenæus, and in the Dialogues of
      Lucian on the courtesans. See, too, Terence, _The Eunuch_, act v.
      scene 4, which is copied from the Greek. The majority of the class
      were not called hetæræ, but πόρναι.

  584 Plutarch, _De Garrulitate_; Plin. _Hist. Nat._ xxxiv. 19. The feat
      of biting out their tongues rather than reveal secrets, or yield to
      passion, is ascribed to a suspiciously large number of persons.
      Ménage cites five besides Leæna. (_Hist. Mulier. Philos._ pp.

  585 See, upon Bacchis, several of the letters of Alciphron, especially
      the very touching letter (x.) on her death, describing her kindness
      and disinterestedness. Athenæus (xiii. 66) relates a curious
      anecdote illustrating these aspects of her character.

  586 Xenophon, _Memorab._ iii. 11.

  587 On the Flamens, see Aulus Gell. _Noct._ x. 15.

  588 Capitolinus, _Maximinus Junior_.

  589 Pliny, _Hist. Nat._ vii. 36. There is (as is well known) a similar
      legend of a daughter thus feeding her father. Val. Max. Lib. v. cap.

  590 This appears from the first act of the _Stichus_ of Plautus. The
      power appears to have become quite obsolete during the Empire but
      the first legal act (which was rather of the nature of an
      exhortation than of a command) against it was issued by Antoninus
      Pius, and it was only definitely abolished under Diocletian.
      (Laboulaye, _Recherches sur la condition civile et politique des
      femmes_, pp. 16-17.)

  591 Aul. Gell. _Noct._ x. 23.

  592 Val. Maximus, ii. 1, § 4; Aul. Gellius, _Noct._ iv. 3.

  593 Ammianus Marcellinus, xxviii. 4.

  594 Tacitus, _De Oratoribus_, xxviii.

  595 See Aulus Gellius, Noct. ii. 24.

  596 “More inter veteres recepto, qui satis pœnarum adversum impudicas in
      ipsa professione flagitii credebant.”—Tacitus, _Annal._ ii. 85.

  597 Aul. Gell. iv. 3. Juno was the goddess of marriage.

  598 Ibid. iv. 14.

  599 The well-known superstition about the lion, &c., becoming docile
      before a virgin is, I believe, as old as Roman times. St. Isidore
      mentions that rhinoceroses were said to be captured by young girls
      being put in their way to fascinate them. (Legendre, _Traité de
      l’Opinion_, tome ii. p. 35.)

  600 Pliny, _Hist. Nat._ xxviii. 23.

  601 Ibid. vii. 18.

  602 “Quem enim Romanorum pudet uxorem ducere in convivium? aut cujus
      materfamilias non primum locum tenet ædium, atque in celebritate
      versatur? quod multo fit aliter in Græcia. Nam neque in convivium
      adhibetur, nisi propinquorum, neque sedet nisi in interiore parte
      ædium quæ _gynæcontis_ appellatur, quo nemo accedit, nisi propinqua
      cognatione conjunctus.”—Corn. Nepos. præfat.

  603 Val. Max. ii. 1, § 6.

  604 Liv. viii. 18.

  605 See Val. Max. ii. 1.

  606 “Nuptiæ sunt conjunctio maris et feminæ, et consortium omnis vitæ,
      divini et humani juris communicatio.”—Modestinus.

  607 Livy, xxxiv. 5. There is a fine collection of legends or histories
      of heroic women (but chiefly Greek) in Clem. Alexand. _Strom._ iv.

  608 Tacitus, _Annal._ ii. 85. This decree was on account of a patrician
      lady named Vistilia having so enrolled herself.

  609 Dion Cassius, liv. 16, lvi. 10.

  610 “Si sine uxore possemus, Quirites, esse, omnes ea molestia
      careremus; sed quoniam ita natura tradidit, ut nec cum illis satis
      commode nec sine illis ullo modo vivi possit, saluti perpetuæ potius
      quam brevi voluptati consulendum.”—Aulus Gellius, _Noct._ i. 6. Some
      of the audience, we are told, thought that, in exhorting to
      matrimony, the speaker should have concealed its undoubted evils. It
      was decided, however, that it was more honourable to tell the whole
      truth. Stobæus (_Sententiæ_) has preserved a number of harsh and
      often heartless sayings about wives, that were popular among the
      Greeks. It was a saying of a Greek poet, that “marriage brings only
      two happy days—the day when the husband first clasps his wife to his
      breast, and the day when he lays her in the tomb;” and in Rome it
      became a proverbial saying, that a wife was only good “in thalamo
      vel in tumulo.”

  611 Friedländer, _Hist. des Mœurs romaines_, tome i. pp. 360-364. On the
      great influence exercised by Roman ladies on political affairs some
      remarkable passages are collected in Denis, _Hist. des Idées
      Morales_, tome ii. pp. 98-99. This author is particularly valuable
      in all that relates to the history of domestic morals. The
      _Asinaria_ of Plautus, and some of the epigrams of Martial, throw
      much light upon this subject.

  612 See the very remarkable discussion about this repeal in Livy, lib.
      xxxiv. cap. 1-8.

  613 Legouvé, _Hist. Morale des Femmes_, pp. 23-26. St. Augustine
      denounced this law as the most unjust that could be mentioned or
      even conceived. “Qua lege quid iniquius dici aut cogitari possit,
      ignoro.”—St. Aug. _De Civ. Dei_, iii. 21—a curious illustration of
      the difference between the habits of thought of his time and those
      of the middle ages, when daughters were habitually sacrificed,
      without a protest, by the feudal laws.

  614 Plutarch, _Cicero_.

  615 Tacit. _Ann._ i. 10.

  616 Plutarch, _Cato_; Lucan, _Pharsal_. ii.

  617 Senec. _Ep._ cxiv.

  618 Val. Max. vi. 3.

  619 Plutarch, _Paul. Æmil._ It is not quite clear whether this remark
      was made by Paulus himself.

  620 Sen. _De Benef._ iii. 16. See, too, _Ep._ xcv. _Ad Helv._ xvi.

_  621 Apol._ 6.

_  622 Epig._ vi. 7.

  623 Juv. _Sat._ vi. 230.

_  624 Ep._ 2.

  625 Sueton. _Aug._ Charlemagne, in like manner, made his daughters work
      in wool. (Eginhardus, _Vit. Car. Mag._ xix.)

  626 Friedländer, _Mœurs romaines du règne d’Auguste à la fin des
      Antonins_ (trad. franç.), tome i. p. 414.

  627 Much evidence of this is collected by Friedländer, tome i. pp.

  628 Plutarch, _Pompeius_.

  629 Martial, xi. 16. Pliny, _Ep._ i. 14.

  630 Suet. _Tiberius_, xlv.

  631 Plutarch, _Brutus_.

  632 Tacit. _Annal._ xv. 63, 64.

  633 “Pæte, non dolet.”—Plin. _Ep._ iii. 16; Martial, _Ep._ i. 14.

  634 Tacit. _Annal._ xvi. 10-11; _Hist._ i. 3. See, too, Friedländer,
      tome i. p. 406.

  635 Tacit. _Ann._ xvi. 34.

  636 Pliny mentions her return after the death of the tyrant (_Ep._ iii.

  637 “Quod paucis datum est, non minus amabilis quam veneranda.”—Plin.
      _Ep._ vii. 19.

  638 See Plin. _Ep._ vii. 19. Dion Cassius and Tacitus relate the exiles
      of Helvidius, who appears to have been rather intemperate and

  639 Friedländer gives many and most touching examples, tome i. pp.

  640 Suet. _Dom._ viii.

  641 Capitolinus, _Macrinus_.

  642 Lampridius, _A. Severus_.

  643 In the oration against Neæra, which is ascribed to Demosthenes, but
      is of doubtful genuineness, the licence accorded to husbands is
      spoken of as a matter of course: “We keep mistresses for our
      pleasures, concubines for constant attendance, and wives to bear us
      legitimate children, and to be our faithful housekeepers.”

  644 There is a remarkable passage on the feelings of wives, in different
      nations, upon this point, in Athenæus, xiii. 3. See, too, Plutarch,
      _Conj. Præc._

  645 Euripid. _Andromache_.

  646 Valer. Max. vi. 7, § 1. Some very scandalous instances of cynicism
      on the part of Roman husbands are recorded. Thus, Augustus had many
      mistresses, “Quæ [virgines] sibi undique etiam _ab uxore_
      conquirerentur.”—Sueton. _Aug._ lxxi. When the wife of Verus, the
      colleague of Marcus Aurelius, complained of the tastes of her
      husband, he answered, “Uxor enim dignitatis nomen est, non
      voluptatis.”—Spartian. _Verus_.

  647 Aristotle, _Econom._ i. 4-8-9.

  648 Plutarch enforces the duty at length, in his very beautiful work on
      marriage. In case husbands are guilty of infidelity, he recommends
      their wives to preserve a prudent blindness, reflecting that it is
      out of respect for them that they choose another woman as the
      companion of their intemperance. Seneca touches briefly, but
      unequivocally, on the subject: “Scis improbum esse qui ab uxore
      pudicitiam exigit, ipse alienarum corruptor uxorum. Scis ut illi nil
      cum adultero, sic nihil tibi esse debere cum pellice.”—_Ep._ xciv.
      “Sciet in uxorem gravissimum esse genus injuriæ, habere
      pellicem.”—_Ep._ xcv.

  649 “Periniquum enim videtur esse, ut pudicitiam vir ab uxore exigat,
      quam ipse non exhibeat.”—_Cod. Just. Dig._ xlviii. 5-13.

  650 Quoted by St. Augustine, _De Conj. Adult._ ii. 19. Plautus, long
      before, had made one of his characters complain of the injustice of
      the laws which punished unchaste wives but not unchaste husbands,
      and ask why, since every honest woman is contented with one husband,
      every honest man should not be contented with one wife? (_Mercator_,
      Act iv. scene 5.)

  651 Horace, _Sat._ i. 2.

  652 “Verum si quis est qui etiam meretriciis amoribus interdictum
      juventuti putet, est ille quidem valde severus; negare non possum;
      sed abhorret non modo ab hujus sæculi licentia, verum etiam a
      majorum consuetudine atque concessis. Quando enim hoc factum non
      est? Quando reprehensum? Quando non permissum? Quando denique fuit
      ut quod licet non liceret?”—Cicero, _Pro Cælio_, cap. xx. The whole
      speech is well worthy of the attention of those who would understand
      Roman feelings on these matters; but it should be remembered that it
      is the speech of a lawyer defending a dissolute client.

  653 Περί ἀφροδίσια, εἰς δύναμιν πρὸ γάμου καθαρευτέον. ἁπτομένῳ δέ, ὢν
      νομιμόν ἐστι, μεταληπτέον, μὴ μέν τοι ἐπαχθὴς γίνου τοῖς χρωμένοις,
      μηδὲ ἐλεγκτικός, μηδὲ πολλαχοῦ τό, Ὅτι αὐτὸς οὐ χρῇ,
      παράφερε.—_Enchir._ xxxiii.

  654 “Et si uxores non haberent, singulas concubinas, quod sine his esse
      non possent.”—Lampridius, _A. Severus_. We have an amusing picture
      of the common tone of people of the world on this matter, in the
      speech Apuleius puts into the mouth of the gods, remonstrating with
      Venus for being angry because her son formed a connection with
      Psyche. (_Metam._ lib. v.)

  655 Preserved by Stobæus. See Denis, _Hist. des Idées morales dans
      l’Antiquité_, tome ii. pp. 134-136, 149-150.

  656 Philos. _Apol._ i. 13. When a saying of Pythagoras, “that a man
      should only have commerce with his own wife,” was quoted, he said
      that this concerned others.

  657 Trebellius Pollio, _Zenobia_.

  658 This is asserted by an anonymous writer quoted by Suidas. See
      Ménage, _Hist. Mulierum Philosopharum_, p. 58.

  659 See, e.g., Plotinus, 1st Eun. vi. 6.

  660 Capitolinus, _M. Aurelius_.

  661 Amm. Marcell. xxv. 4.

_  662 Cod. Theod._ lib. ix. tit. 24.

_  663 Cod. Theod._ lib. xv. tit. 7.

  664 “Fidicinam nulli liceat vel emere vel docere vel vendere, vel
      conviviis aut spectaculis adhibere. Nec cuiquam aut delectationis
      desiderio erudita feminea aut musicæ artis studio liceat habere
      mancipia.”—_Cod. Theod._ xv. 7, 10. This curious law was issued in
      A.D. 385. St. Jerome said these musicians were the chorus of the
      devil, and quite as dangerous as the sirens. See the comments on the

  665 Ruinart, _Act. S. Perpetuæ_. These acts, are, I believe, generally
      regarded as authentic. There is nothing more instructive in history
      than to trace the same moral feelings through different ages and
      religions; and I am able in this case to present the reader with an
      illustration of their permanence, which I think somewhat remarkable.
      The younger Pliny gives in one of his letters a pathetic account of
      the execution of Cornelia, a vestal virgin, by the order of
      Domitian. She was buried alive for incest; but her innocence appears
      to have been generally believed; and she had been condemned unheard,
      and in her absence. As she was being lowered into the subterranean
      cell her dress was caught and deranged in the descent. She turned
      round and drew it to her, and when the executioner stretched out his
      hand to assist her, she started back lest he should touch her, for
      this, according to the received opinion, was a pollution; and even
      in the supreme moment of her agony her vestal purity shrank from the
      unholy contact. (Plin. _Ep._ iv. 11.) If we now pass back several
      centuries, we find Euripides attributing to Polyxena a trait
      precisely similar to that which was attributed to Perpetua. As she
      fell beneath the sword of the executioner, it was observed that her
      last care was that she might fall with decency.

      ἡ δὲ και θνήσκουσ᾽ ὅμως πολλὴν πρόνοιαν εἶχεν εὐσχήμως πεσεῖν,
      κρύπτουσ᾽ ἂ κρύπτειν ὄμματ᾽ ἀρσένων χρεών.

      Euripides, _Hec._ 566-68.

_  666 Vita Pauli._

  667 St. Ambrose relates an instance of this, which he says occurred at
      Antioch (_De Virginibus_, lib. ii. cap. iv.). When the Christian
      youth was being led to execution, the girl whom he had saved
      reappeared and died with him. Eusebius tells a very similar story,
      but places the scene at Alexandria.

  668 See Ceillier, _Hist. des Auteurs ecclés._ tome iii. p. 523.

  669 Ibid. tome viii. pp. 204-207.

  670 Among the Irish saints St. Colman is said to have had a girdle which
      would only meet around the chaste, and which was long preserved in
      Ireland as a relic (Colgan, _Acta Sanctorum Hiberniæ_, Louvain,
      1645, vol. i. p. 246); and St. Fursæus a girdle that extinguished
      lust. (Ibid. p. 292.) The girdle of St. Thomas Aquinas seems to have
      had some miraculous properties of this kind. (See his _Life_ in the
      Bollandists, Sept. 29.) Among both the Greeks and Romans it was
      customary for the bride to be girt with a girdle which the
      bridegroom unloosed in the nuptial bed, and hence “zonam solvere”
      became a proverbial expression for “pudicitiam mulieris imminuere.”
      (Nieupoort, _De Ritibus Romanorum_, p. 479; Alexander’s _History of
      Women_, vol. ii. p. 300.)

_  671 Vit. St. Pachom._ (Rosweyde).

  672 See his _Life_, by Gregory of Nyssa.

  673 A little book has been written on these legends by M. Charles de
      Bussy, called _Les Courtisanes saintes_. There is said to be some
      doubt about St. Afra, for, while her acts represent her as a
      reformed courtesan, St. Fortunatus, in two lines he has devoted to
      her, calls her a virgin. (Ozanam, _Études german._ tome ii. p. 8.)

  674 See the _Vit. Sancti Joannis Eleemosynarii_ (Rosweyde).

  675 Tillemont, tome x. pp. 61-62. There is also a very picturesque
      legend of the manner in which St. Paphnutius converted the courtesan

  676 See especially, Tertullian, _Ad Uxorem_. It was beautifully said, at
      a later period, that woman was not taken from the head of man, for
      she was not intended to be his ruler, nor from his feet, for she was
      not intended to be his slave, but from his side, for she was to be
      his companion and his comfort. (Peter Lombard, _Senten._ lib. ii.
      dis. 18.)

  677 The reader may find many passages on this subject in Barbeyrac,
      _Morale des Pères_, ii. § 7; iii. § 8; iv. § 31-35; vi. § 31; xiii.
      § 2-8.

  678 “It is remarkable how rarely, if ever (I cannot call to mind an
      instance), in the discussions of the comparative merits of marriage
      and celibacy, the social advantages appear to have occurred to the
      mind.... It is always argued with relation to the interests and the
      perfection of the individual soul; and, even with regard to that,
      the writers seem almost unconscious of the softening and humanising
      effect of the natural affections, the beauty of parental tenderness
      and filial love.”—Milman’s _Hist. of Christianity_, vol. iii. p.

  679 “Tempus breve est, et jam securis ad radices arborum posita est, quæ
      silvam legis et nuptiarum evangelica castitate succidat.”—_Ep._

  680 “Laudo nuptias, laudo conjugium, sed quia mihi virgines
      generant.”—_Ep._ xxii.

  681 See Ceillier, _Auteurs ecclés._ xiii. p. 147.

  682 Socrates, iv. 23.

  683 Palladius, _Hist. Laus._ cxix.

_  684 Vit. S. Abr._ (Rosweyde), cap. i.

  685 I do not know when this legend first appeared. M. Littré mentions
      having found it in a French MS. of the eleventh century (Littré,
      _Les Barbares_, pp. 123-124); and it also forms the subject of a
      very curious fresco, I imagine of a somewhat earlier date, which was
      discovered, within the last few years, in the subterranean church of
      St. Clement at Rome. An account of it is given by Father Mullooly,
      in his interesting little book about that Church.

_  686 De Virgin._ cap. iii.

  687 Greg. Tur. i. 42.

  688 The regulations on this point are given at length in Bingham.

  689 Muratori, _Antich. Ital._ diss. xx.

  690 St. Greg. _Dial._ i. 10.

  691 Delepierre, _L’Enfer décrit par ceux qui l’ont vu_, pp. 44-56.

  692 Val. Max. ii. 1. § 3.

  693 “Ille meos, primus qui me sibi junxit, amores
      Abstulit; ille habeat secum, servetque sepulchro.”

      _Æn._ iv. 28.

  694 E.g., the wives of Lucan, Drusus, and Pompey.

  695 Tacit. _German._ xix.

  696 Friedländer, tome i. p. 411.

  697 Hieron. _Ep._ liv.

  698 “Uxorem vivam amare voluptas;
      Defunctam religio.”

      Statius. _Sylv._ v. in proœmio.

  699 By one of the laws of Charondas it was ordained that those who cared
      so little for the happiness of their children as to place a
      stepmother over them, should be excluded from the councils of the
      State. (Diod. Sic. xii. 12.)

  700 Tertullian expounded the Montanist view in his treatise, _De

  701 A full collection of the statements of the Fathers on this subject
      is given by Perrone, _De Matrimonio_, lib. iii. Sect. I.; and by
      Natalis Alexander, _Hist. Eccles._ Sæc. II. dissert. 18.

  702 Thus, to give but a single instance, St. Jerome, who was one of
      their strongest opponents, says: “Quid igitur? damnamus secunda
      matrimonia? Minime, sed prima laudamus. Abjicimus de ecclesia
      digamos? absit; sed monogamos ad continentiam provocamus. In arca
      Noe non solum munda sed et immunda fuerunt animalia.”—_Ep._ cxxiii.

_  703 In Legat._

_  704 Strom._ lib. iii.

_  705 Contra Jovin._ i.

  706 Ibid. See, too, _Ep._ cxxiii.

  707 Hom. xvii. in Luc.

_  708 Orat._ xxxi.

  709 Perrone, _De Matr._ iii. § 1, art. 1; Natalis Alexander, _Hist.
      Eccles._ II. dissert. 18. The penances are said not to imply that
      the second marriage was a sin, but that the moral condition that
      made it necessary was a bad one.

  710 See Stephen’s _Hist. of English Criminal Law_, i. p. 461.

  711 Conc. Illib. can. xxxviii. Bingham thinks the feeling of the Council
      to have been, that if baptism was not administered by a priest, it
      should at all events be administered by one who might have been a

  712 Perrone, _De Matrimonio_, tome iii. p. 102.

  713 This subject has recently been treated with very great learning and
      with admirable impartiality by an American author, Mr. Henry C. Lea,
      in his _History of Sacerdotal Celibacy_ (Philadelphia, 1867), which
      is certainly one of the most valuable works that America has
      produced. Since the great history of Dean Milman, I know no work in
      English which has thrown more light on the moral condition of the
      middle ages, and none which is more fitted to dispel the gross
      illusions concerning that period which High Church writers, and
      writers of the positive school, have conspired to sustain.

  714 See Lea, p. 36. The command of St. Paul, that a bishop or deacon
      should be the husband of _one_ wife (1 Tim. iii. 2-12) was believed
      by all ancient and by many modern commentators to be prohibitory of
      second marriages; and this view is somewhat confirmed by the widows
      who were to be honoured and supported by the Church, being only
      those who had been but once married (1 Tim. v. 9). See Pressensé,
      _Hist. des trois premiers Siècles_ (1re série), tome ii. p. 233.
      Among the Jews it was ordained that the high priest should not marry
      a widow. (Levit. xxi. 13-14.)

  715 Socrates, _H. E._ i. 11. The Council of Illiberis (can. xxxiii.) had
      ordained this, but both the precepts and the practice of divines
      varied greatly. A brilliant summary of the chief facts is given in
      Milman’s _History of Early Christianity_, vol. iii. pp. 277-282.

  716 See, on the state of things in the tenth and eleventh centuries,
      Lea, pp. 162-192.

  717 Ratherius, quoted by Lea, p. 151.

  718 See some curious evidence of the extent to which the practice of the
      hereditary transmission of ecclesiastical offices was carried, in
      Lea, pp. 149, 150, 266, 299, 339.

  719 Lea, pp. 271, 292, 422.

  720 Ibid. pp. 186-187.

  721 Lea, p. 358.

  722 Ibid. p. 296.

  723 Ibid. p. 322.

  724 Ibid. p. 349.

  725 The reader may find the most ample evidence of these positions in
      Lea. See especially pp. 138, 141, 153, 155, 260, 344.

  726 Synesius, _Ep._ cv.

  727 Lea, p. 122. St. Augustine had named _his_ illegitimate son
      Adeodatus, or the Gift of God, and had made him a principal
      interlocutor in one of his religious dialogues.

_  728 Dialog._ iv. 11.

  729 This is mentioned by Henry of Huntingdon, who was a contemporary.
      (Lea, p. 293.)

  730 The first notice of this very remarkable precaution is in a canon of
      the Council of Palencia (in Spain) held in 1322, which anathematises
      laymen who compel their pastors to take concubines. (Lea, p. 324.)
      Sleidan mentions that it was customary in some of the Swiss cantons
      for the parishioners to oblige the priest to select a concubine as a
      necessary precaution for the protection of his female parishioners.
      (Ibid. p. 355.) Sarpi, in his _Hist. of the Council of Trent_,
      mentions (on the authority of Zuinglius) this Swiss custom. Nicolas
      of Clemangis, a leading member of the Council of Constance, declared
      that this custom had become very common, that the laity were firmly
      persuaded that priests _never_ lived a life of real celibacy, and
      that, where no proofs of concubinage were found, they always assumed
      the existence of more serious vice. The passage (which is quoted by
      Bayle) is too remarkable to be omitted. “Taceo de fornicationibus et
      adulteriis a quibus qui alieni sunt probro cæteris ac ludibrio esse
      solent, spadonesque aut sodomitæ appellantur; denique laici usque
      adeo persuasum habent nullos cælibes esse, ut in plerisque parochiis
      non aliter velint presbyterum tolerare nisi concubinam habeat, quo
      vel sic suis sit consultum uxoribus, quæ nec sic quidem usquequaque
      sunt extra periculum.” Nic. de Clem. _De Præsul. Simoniac._ (Lea, p.

  731 This was energetically noticed by Luther, in his famous sermon “De
      Matrimonio,” and some of the Catholic preachers of an earlier period
      had made the same complaint. See a curious passage from a
      contemporary of Boccaccio, quoted by Meray, _Les Libres prêcheurs_,
      p. 155. “Vast numbers of laymen separated from their wives under the
      influence of the ascetic enthusiasm which Hildebrand created.”—Lea,
      p. 254.

  732 “Quando enim servata fide thori causa prolis conjuges conveniunt sic
      excusatur coitus ut culpam non habeat. Quando vero deficiente bono
      prolis fide tamen servata conveniunt causa incontinentiæ non sic
      excusatur ut non habeat culpam, sed venialem.... Item hoc quod
      conjugati victi concupiscentia utuntur invicem, ultra necessitatem
      liberos procreandi, ponam in his pro quibus quotidie dicimus Dimitte
      nobis debita nostra.... Unde in sententiolis Sexti Pythagorici
      legitur ‘omnis ardentior amator propriæ uxoris adulter est.’ ”—Peter
      Lombard, _Sentent._ lib. iv. dist. 31.

  733 Many wives, however, were forbidden. (Deut. xvii. 17.) Polygamy is
      said to have ceased among the Jews after the return from the
      Babylonish captivity.—Whewell’s _Elements of Morality_, book iv. ch.

  734 Levit. xii. 1-5.

  735 Ecclesiasticus, xiii. 14. I believe, however, the passage has been
      translated “Better the badness of a man than the blandishments of a

  736 This curious fact is noticed by Le Blant, _Inscriptions chrétiennes
      de la Gaule_, pp. xcvii.-xcviii.

  737 See the decree of a Council of Auxerre (A.D. 578), can. 36.

  738 See the last two chapters of Troplong, _Influences du Christianisme
      sur le Droit_ (a work, however, which is written much more in the
      spirit of an apologist than in that of an historian), and Legouvé,
      pp. 27-29.

  739 Even in matters not relating to property, the position of women in
      feudalism was a low one. “Tout mari,” says Beaumanoir, “peut battre
      sa femme quand elle ne veut pas obéir à son commandement, ou quand
      elle le maudit, ou quand elle le dément, pourvu que ce soit
      modérément et sans que mort s’ensuive,” quoted by Legouvé, p. 148.
      Contrast with this the saying of the elder Cato: “A man who beats
      his wife or his children lays impious hands on that which is most
      holy and most sacred in the world.”—Plutarch, _Marcus Cato_.

  740 See Legouvé, pp. 29-38; Maine’s _Ancient Law_, pp. 154-159.

  741 “No society which preserves any tincture of Christian institutions
      is likely to restore to married women the personal liberty conferred
      on them by the middle Roman law: but the proprietary disabilities of
      married females stand on quite a different basis from their personal
      incapacities, and it is by keeping alive and consolidating the
      former that the expositors of the canon law have deeply injured
      civilisation. There are many vestiges of a struggle between the
      secular and ecclesiastical principles; but the canon law nearly
      everywhere prevailed.”—Maine’s _Ancient Law_, p. 158. I may observe
      that the Russian law was early very favourable to the proprietary
      rights of married women. See a remarkable letter in the _Memoirs of
      the Princess Daschkaw_ (edited by Mrs. Bradford: London, 1840), vol.
      ii. p. 404.

_  742 Germania_, cap. ix. xviii.-xx.

_  743 De Gubernatione Dei._

  744 See, for these legends, Mallet’s _Northern Antiquities_.

  745 Tacitus, _Germ._ 9; _Hist._ iv. 18; Xiphilin. lxxi. 3; Amm.
      Marcellinus, xv. 12; Vopiscus, _Aurelianus_; Floras, iii. 3.

  746 Valer. Max. vi. 1; Hieron. _Ep._ cxxiii.

  747 Plutarch, _De Mulier. Virt._

  748 Plutarch, _Amatorius_; Xiphilin. lxvi. 16; Tacit. _Hist._ iv. 67.
      The name of this heroic wife is given in three different forms.

  749 On the polygamy of the first, see Greg. Tur. iv. 26; on the polygamy
      of Chilperic, Greg. Tur. iv. 28; v. 14.

  750 Greg. Tur. iv. 3.

  751 Ibid. iii. 25-27, 36.

  752 Fredegarius, xxxvi.

  753 Ibid. lx.

  754 Eginhardus, _Vit. Kar. Mag._ xviii. Charlemagne had, according to
      Eginhard, four wives, but, as far as I can understand, only two at
      the same time.

  755 Smyth’s _Lectures on Modern History_, vol. i. pp. 61-62.

  756 Milman’s _Hist. of Latin Christianity_, vol. i. p. 363; Legouvé,
      _Hist. Morale des Femmes_, p. 57.

  757 See, on these laws, Lord Kames _On Women_; Legouvé, p. 57.

  758 Favorinus had strongly urged it. (Aul. Gell. _Noct._ xii. 1.)

  759 These are the reasons given by Malthus, _On Population_, book iii.
      ch. ii.

  760 St. Augustine (_De Conj. Adult._ ii. 19) maintains that adultery is
      even more criminal in the man than in the woman. St. Jerome has an
      impressive passage on the subject: “Aliæ sunt leges Cæsarum, aliæ
      Christi; aliud Papianus, aliud Paulus nostri præcepit. Apud illos
      viris impudicitiæ fræna laxantur et solo stupro atque adulterio
      condemnato passim per lupanaria et ancillulas libido permittitur,
      quasi culpam dignitas faciat non voluntas. Apud nos quod non licet
      feminis æque non licet viris; et eadem servitus pari conditione
      censetur.”—_Ep._ lxxvii. St. Chrysostom writes in a similar strain.

  761 See Troplong, _Influence du Christianisme sur le Droit_, pp.

  762 We find, however, traces of a toleration of the Roman type of
      concubine in Christianity for some time. Thus, a Council of Toledo
      decreed: “Si quis habens uxorem fidelis concubinam habeat non
      communicet. Cæterum is qui non habet uxorem et pro uxore concubinam
      habet a communione non repellatur, tantum ut unius mulieris, aut
      uxoris aut concubinæ ut ei placuerit, sit conjunctione contentus.”—1
      _Can._ 17. St. Isidore said: “Christiano non dicam plurimas sed nec
      duas simul habere licitum est, nisi unam tantum aut uxorem, aut
      certo loco uxoris, si conjux deest, concubinam.”—_Apud Gratianum_,
      diss. 4. Quoted by Natalis Alexander, _Hist. Eccles._ Sæc. I. diss.
      29. Mr. Lea (_Hist. of Sacerdotal Celibacy_, pp. 203-205) has
      devoted an extremely interesting note to tracing the history of the
      word concubine through the middle ages. He shows that even up to the
      thirteenth century a concubine was not necessarily an abandoned
      woman. The term was applied to marriages that were real, but not
      officially recognised. Coleridge notices a remarkable instance of
      the revival of this custom in German history.—_Notes on English
      Divines_ (ed. 1853), vol. i. p. 221.

  763 Legouvé, p. 199.

  764 See some curious passages in Troplong, pp. 222-223. The Fathers seem
      to have thought dissolution of marriage was not lawful on account of
      the adultery of the husband, but that it was not absolutely
      unlawful, though not commendable, for a husband whose wife had
      committed adultery to re-marry.

  765 Some of the great charities of Fabiola were performed as penances,
      on account of her crime in availing herself of the legislative
      permission of divorce.

  766 Laboulaye, _Recherches sur la Condition civile et politique des
      Femmes_, pp. 152-158.

  767 “A discourse concerning the obligation to marry within the true
      communion, following from their style (_sic_) of being called a holy
      seed.” This rare discourse is appended to a sermon against mixed
      marriages by Leslie. (London, 1702.) The reader may find something
      about Dodwell in Macaulay’s _Hist. of England_, ch. xiv.; but
      Macaulay, who does not appear to have known Dodwell’s
      masterpiece—his dissertation _De Paucitate Marturum_, which is one
      of the finest specimens of criticism of his time—and who only knew
      the discourse on marriages by extracts, has, I think, done him
      considerable injustice.

  768 Dodwell relies mainly upon this fact, and especially upon Ezra’s
      having treated these marriages as essentially null.

  769 “Jungere cum infidelibus vinculum matrimonii, prostituere gentilibus
      membra Christi.”—Cyprian, _De Lapsis_.

  770 “Hæc cum ita sint, fideles Gentilium matrimonia subeuntes stupri
      reos esse constat, et arcendos ab omni communicatione
      fraternitatis.”—Tert. _Ad Uxor._ ii. 3.

  771 See on this law, and on the many councils which condemned the
      marriage of orthodox with heretics, Bingham, _Antiq._ xxii. 2, §§

  772 Many curious statistics illustrating this fact are given by M.
      Bonneville de Marsangy—a Portuguese writer who was counsellor of the
      Imperial Court at Paris—in his _Étude sur la Moralité comparée de la
      Femme et de l’Homme_. (Paris, 1862.) The writer would have done
      better if he had not maintained, in lawyer fashion, that the
      statistics of crime are absolutely decisive on the question of the
      comparative morality of the sexes, and also, if he had not thought
      it due to his official position to talk in a rather grotesque strain
      about the regeneration and glorification of the sex in the person of
      the Empress Eugénie.

  773 See Pliny, _Hist. Nat._ xxxiv. 19.

  774 “Tantum inter Stoicos, Serene, et ceteros sapientiam professos
      interesse, quantum inter fœminas et mares non immerito dixerim.”—_De
      Const. Sapientis_, cap. i.

  775 This is well illustrated, on the one side, by the most repulsive
      representations of Christ, by Michael Angelo, in the great fresco in
      the Sistine Chapel (so inferior to the Christ of Orgagna, at Pisa,
      from which it was partly imitated), and in marble in the Minerva
      Church at Rome; and, on the other side, by the frescoes of Perugino,
      at Perugia, representing the great sages of Paganism. The figure of
      Cato, in the latter, almost approaches, as well as I remember, the
      type of St. John.

  776 In that fine description of a virtuous woman which is ascribed to
      the mother of King Lemuel, we read: “She stretcheth out her hand to
      the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.” (Proverbs
      xxxi. 20.) I have already quoted from Xenophon the beautiful
      description of the Greek wife tending her sick slaves. So, too,
      Euripides represents the slaves of Alcestis gathering with tears
      around the bed of their dying mistress, who, even then, found some
      kind word for each, and, when she died, lamenting her as their
      second mother. (Eurip. _Alcest._) In the servile war which desolated
      Sicily at the time of the Punic wars, we find a touching trait of
      the same kind. The revolt was provoked by the cruelties of a rich
      man, named Damophilus, and his wife, who were massacred with
      circumstances of great atrocity; but the slaves preserved their
      daughter entirely unharmed, for she had always made it her business
      to console them in their sorrow, and she had won the love of all.
      (Diodor. Sic. _Frag._ xxxiv.) So, too, Marcia, the wife of Cato,
      used to suckle her young slaves from her breast. (Plut. _Marc.
      Cato_.) I may add the well-known sentiment which Virgil puts in the
      mouth of Dido: “Haud ignara mali miseris succurrere disco.” There
      are, doubtless, many other touches of the same kind in ancient
      literature, some of which may occur to my readers.

  777 Theodoret, v. 19.

  778 See the beautiful description of the functions of a Christian woman
      in the second book of Tertullian, _Ad Uxorem_.

  779 See, upon the deaconesses, Bingham’s _Christian Antiquities_, book
      ii. ch. 22, and Ludlow’s _Woman’s Work in the Church_. The latter
      author argues elaborately that the “widows” were not the same as the

  780 Phœbe (Rom. xvi. 1) is described as a διάκονος.

  781 A very able writer, who takes on the whole an unfavourable view of
      the influence of Christianity on legislation, says: “The provision
      for the widow was attributable to the exertions of the Church, which
      never relaxed its solicitude for the interests of wives surviving
      their husbands, winning, perhaps, one of the most arduous of its
      triumphs when, after exacting for two or three centuries an express
      promise from the husband at marriage to endow his wife, it at last
      succeeded in engrafting the principle of dower on the customary law
      of all Western Europe.”—Maine’s _Ancient Law_, p. 224.

  782 See Troplong, _Influence du Christianisme sur le Droit_, pp.

  783 The results of this change have been treated by Miss Parkes in her
      truly admirable little book called _Essays on Woman’s Work_, better
      than by any other writer with whom I am acquainted.

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