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riod of nearly 1160 years, France can boast only of four kings, Prussia one, Germany and Russia two, Spain hardly one since the expulsion of the Moors; atid though Italy perhaps might point to many princes as the protectors of science and the promoters of learning, yet very few indeed will fall as a share to each of the many principalities into which she is divided. Modern Rome itself, this proud seat of the head of the Catholic Church, where learning ought to have fixed its abode under the standard of princely protection, has very seldom been fortunate enough to see the pontifical chair occupied by true and real protectors of literature and science. Many of the Popes expelled the Poets from the vatican, as the tyranny of them all had expelled the orators; and the dreadful example which Giulio gave to the world in thë persecution of Galileo must have not á little checked even the ardour of a philosopher in the cause of truth.
« Tanto è possente invecchiato costume in petto umano." Yet, notwithstanding so little princely encouragement which learning and learned men have met with amongst all nations of modern Europe, there is but very little doubt that the human mind has made astonishing progress, and such that, with the exception of eloquence; and on some occasions even of poetry, we have no longer any cause to envy the ancients. For this reason, if Adrian did not entirely neglect literature, for he was a learned man and a poet, if Antoninus, his successor, bestowed stipends, honours: and a variety of privileges on the professors of arts, if Marcus Aurelius possessed classical knowledge even by the confession of Mr. Berington, and notwithstanding his preference of the stoical philosophy, bestowed honours on the maštets of every science; if Alexander Severus, and two more of his successors, were by to means behind hand in promoting the cause of learning, it is clear that the decay of literature during this period cannot be wholly imputed to the want of imperial encouragement. Our author, in order to prove his assertion, represents the protection which Marcus Aurelius gave to science as entirely nugatory, may even as prejudicial to the advancement of literature; as if the one might be cultivated without the other, and the mind which has been tutored in all the branches of elegant literature, might, by the purity of science, become at once disgusted with all ideas of taste and classical elegance. This is no doubt Mr. Berington's opinion. But to us, and indeed to every man who is in the least acquainted with the history of the human mind, the position appears untenable. The connexion which exists ben tween literature and science, is more close than our author has imagined ; and we conceive it almost impossible to separate their interests, so as to render the progress of the one prejudicial, of
useless VOL. IV. AUGUST, 1815.
useless to the advancement of the other. It is Rousseau de claiming against knowledge by the means of the very eloquence which he endeavours to depreciate.
The third period is represented by Mr. Berington in the following manner.
“ A new order of things, and a more pleasurable prospect, now open before us.
We behold a Christian Emperor, who was adorned with those virtues, military and civil, which could command the respect of distant nations, and the love of his subjects, at the death of Licinius, invested with the sceptre of the Roman world! But were letters and the polite arts as dear to Constantine as the general interests of the vast society, to the superintendence of which he had been called ? --If we may believe the historian of his life, who is certainly sometimes too encomiastic, letters and the arts were the object of his fond solicitude. His mind had been early imbued with a tincture of learning; he afterwards cultivated eloquence, and composed in the Latin language; and the decrees, published by him in favour of the professors of the learned arts, which
may still be read, are an incontestable proof of his good will. But Rome, and I may say, the western world, has a charge against him, which can never be effaced : he removed the seat of empire to Byzantium. The charge is thus justly stated by a mo. dern writer. The city of Constantinople, he observes, founded as a rival to Rome, and chosen for the imperial residence, proved source of fatal evils to the ancient capital, to Italy, and to its literature. Rome hitherto had been deemed the metropolis of the world; but the attention of mankind was soon attracted to the new imperial residence. All affairs of moment were transacted at Constantinople, which became the general resort of persons of eminence in all ranks and professions; and what Rome had been, was seen only in the dreary pomp of her edifices, and the silent magnificence of her streets. Literature also forsook her former abode; and whither were her professors likely to retire, but to the view city, where rewards and honours were to be found? The cultivation of the Greek in preference to the Latin language, in a country of Greeks, could not fail soon to be adopted, to the obvious detriment of the western learning. And when the empire, on the death of Constantine, was divided, Rome, even then, was not the ordinary seat of her princes. Her loss, however, turned to the advantage of other cities. When she ceased to be the universal centre, men of learning were sometimes satisfied with their distant stations, where, in a sphere less splendid, they could circulate round them the love, and invite to the cultivation, of letters.” P. 13.
Here we must request our reader to pay particular attention to the last two periods. “ If the loss of Rome, in point of literature, turned to the advantage of the other Italian cities, where men of learning repaired and rendered kaowledge wore general,"
it is certain that the removal of the seat of the empire to Byzantium, could not be the measure which inflicted tlie deadly blow to the cultivation of letters. This passage, no doubt, is in Tiraboschi; for our author has translated it word by word; but Mr. Berington has forgotten that the works of great men are not to be considered as heathen temples, in which we are to worship every thing we find.
But let us go on. • The fourth century closed, and the fifth opened, while the purple was disgraced by the imbecile Honorius, one of the sons of Theodosius. This was a period of accumulated distress to the Roman States. In the preceding years they had often, with various success, been invaded by the barbarians from the north, first in quest of plunder, and then, as they felt the allurenients of a milder climate, or the pleasures of a less savage life, in quest of settlements. Resistance, though sometimes crowned by victory, was ultimately vain; for new bodies of armed men, with their wives and children, their slaves and flocks, kept constantly advancing with steady perseverance. In less than two centuries from their first eruption, they extended their ravage and their conquest Over Thrace, Pannonia, Gaul, Spain, Africa, and finally, over Italy. Even Rome, in the tenth year of the fifth century, saw Alaric with his Goths within her walls.
" The effects of these invasions on literature and the arts, and more than the invasions, the effects of the permanent settlements in the provinces, will hereafter be detailed. Let me now only add, that ten emperors, from the death of Honorius in 423, filled the western throne, during whose reigns the Huns, under Attila, in 452, over-ran Italy with furious impetuosity. Genseric, with his Vandals from Africa, in 455, surprised Rome, which he abandoned to pillage during fourteen days. New scenes of devastation were daily repeated ; and finally, when a civil war, between the competitors for the throne, filled up the measure of misfortune, the barbarians, of whom the provinces were full, and with whom the ranks of the
army were crowded, demanded, as their stipulated property, one half of the lands of Italy; and, when this was refused, aspired to a higher price. Odoacer, the chief of the Heruli, pursued his victorious career to the walls of Rome, despoiled Augustulus, a name of ominous import, of the purple, proclaimed himself king of Italy, and ascended the vacant throne. The western empire closed. This was in the year 476, at which time Africa obeyed the Vandals; Spain and part of Gaul were subject to the Goths; the Burgundians and Franks occupied the remainder; and many parts of Britain wete subject to the domination of the Saxons." P. 17.
This is all very true, and in contemplating the picture of the two different portious of Europe, along the precise line which at the time of the Christian æra separated civilization from barbarism, we are at a loss to imagine the objects which were left for X &
the Romans to desire. What allurements or what temptation could the Barbarians be supposed to present? And yet during the space of 250 years from the time of Augustus, the Ro. inans; with whom war became a habit when it ceased to be a new cessity, are constantly seen beyond the line of demarcation, attacking and driving before them the wandering tribes of savages, who seemed to bear a resemblance to the human species more in their outward-shape than in their internal faculties. But at this time the scene changes, and these barbarians accumulated too wards the north are roused to a terrible réaction. They rush down like a torrent on the tottering empire, and retaliate on the Romans their invasions of nearly two centuries and a half, by the same depredations on their territories during an equal number of years. In these irruptions repulsion was vain, and opposition abortive; Rome, the mighty Colossus, was shaken, and sunk at last under
the repeated strokes of hier undisciplined but vigorous enemies. During ibis struggle, the loss of literature must have been immense. The best, the most cultivated, the richest towns of Italy were often burnt and pillaged; and Rome, proud Rome, swelled twice the booty of her conquerors, both with her riches and inhabitants. But yet even these sanguinary wars and dread. .ful events are not sufficient causes to explain the decay of literature.
The fact is, we ought to distinguish the irruptions of the Bar. barians into two different classes. Some of a temporary nature which had depredation and booty for object; and others of a permanent kind which looked for settlement. In the first class we ought to reckon the invasion of the Huns under Attila, that of the Visigoths under the famous Alaric, and even the storm and plunder of Rome by the Vandals, who immediately returned to Africa to reign, until they were destroyed by Belisarius. Une der the second head, we may class the Ostrogoths under Theo. doric, the Lombards or Longobards under Alboin, &c.
Now it is certain that the mischief caused by the Vandals, by the Huns, and by the Visigoths, however great it might have been, could by no means have destroyed the literature of Italy, where, according to Mr. Berington's statement, by the removal of the seat of empire to Byzantium, even the provincial towns had acę quired a degree of knowledge anknown to the very age of Augustes. These irruptions were of too short and temporary a nature to make any impression upon the morals or the character of the people, or cause them to forget the pursuits of literature and scie ence. The men of genius and learning, who were scattered all over Italy, as soon as the dreadful storm was abated, had no rea. son to relinquish their studies; and when the taste for knowledge has once taken root-aongst a nation, calamities of a tema pérary nature cannot in a moment eradicate so goodly a plant,
They resemble the flash of lightning in the beautiful language of
“ Che fa un solco nell'ombra, e si dilegua.”
It is not therefore a new opinion, that the barbarians did not
" I Goti ed i Vandali, says Algarotti, fecero assai men male che non şi crede," and the celebrated Gravina was wont to say, “che ci avrebbe voluti per l'Italia un dugento mila Barbari a rifor. marvi la morale e le lettere." In these combustions the trash will for ever be lost; the firstrate works, the productions of genius, will survive; and in this respect we fully agree with the Gravina, and join him in the wish that a couple of hundred thousand Cos sacks or Tartars would come and clear away from our libraries the heaps of worthless productions which long since have been pouring down upon us.
But if the removal of the seat of empire, and the irruption of the Barbarians are not sufficient reasons to account for the total extinction of literature, as the want of liberty and imperial en couragement are not for their declension, the reader may now ask, what were the causes that produced this wonderful revolution? We are sorry that want of room does not allow us to enter into the details, and answer this question so fully as it deserves and we should have wished. Being obliged to confine our.