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The Influence of Literary Men. ning to the middle of the last century, these philosophers became more and more audacious in their attacks. Unlike the scientific, whose theological action was by implication rather than in a direct way, these boldly assaulted the intellectual basis of faith. The opportune occurrence of the American Revolution, by bringing forward, in a prominent manner, social evils and political methods for their cure, gave a practical application to the movement in Europe, and the Church was

found unable to offer any kind of resistance. Movement From these observations of the state of the Church at four of the Italian different epochs of her career, we are able to determine her system.

movement. There is a time of abounding strength, a time of feebleness, a time of ruinous loss, a time of utter exha tion. What a difference between the eleventh and the eighteenth centuries! It is the noontide and the evening of a day of empire.

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CHAPTER XIX.

APPROACH OF THE AGE OF REASON IN EUROPE.

IT IS PRECEDED BY MARITIME DISCOVERY.

I

ties of the

Reason.

HAVE arrived at the last division of my work, the period Peculiari

in national life answering to maturity in individual. The Age of objects to be considered differ altogether from those which have hitherto occupied our attention. We have now to find human authority promoting intellectual advancement, and accepting as its maxim that the lot of man will be ameliorated, and his power and dignity increased, in proportion as he is able to comprehend the mechanism of the world, the action of natural laws, and to apply physical forces to his use.

The date at which this transition in European life was made Natural will doubtless be differently given, according as the investigator merge into changes his point of view. In truth, there is not in national one anlife any

real epoch, because there is nothing in reality abrupt. Events, however great or sudden, are consequences of preparations long ago made. In this there is a perfect parity between the course of national and that of individual life. In the individual, one state merges by imperceptible degrees into another, each in its beginning and end being altogether indistinct. No one can tell at what moment he ceased to be a child and became a boy-at what moment he ceased to be a youth and became a man. Each condition, examined at a suitable interval, exhibits characteristics perfectly distinctive, but, at their common point of contact, the two so overlap and blend, that, like the intermingling of shadow and light, the beginning of one and end of the other may be very variously estimated.

end of the

Faith.

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The Epochs of Social Life. Artificial In individual life, since po precise natural epoch exists, soepochs.

ciety has found it expedient to establish an artificial one, as,

for example, the twenty-first year. The exigencies of history Origin and may be satisfied by similar fictions. A classical critic would Age of

probably be justified in selecting for his purpose the foundation of Constantinople as the epoch of the commencement of the Age of Faith, and its capture by the Turks as the close. It must be admitted that a very large number of historical events stand in harmony with that arrangement. A political writer would perhaps be disposed to postpone the date of the latter epoch to that of the treaty of Westphalia, for from that time theological elements ceased to have a recognized force, Protestant, Catholic, Mohammedan consorting promiscuously together in alliance or at war, according as temporary necessities might indicate. Besides these, other artificial epochs might be assigned, each doubtless having advantages to recommend it to our notice. But, after all, the chief peculiarity is obvious enough. It is the gradual decline of a system that had been in activity for many ages, and its gradual replacement by another.

As with the Age of Reason in Greece, so with the Age of the Age of

Reason in Europe, there is a prelude marked by the gradual emergence of a sound philosophy; a true logic displaces the supernatural; experiment supersedes speculation. It is very interesting to trace the feeble beginnings of modern science in alchemy and natural magic in countries where no one could understand the writings of Alhazen or the Arabian philosophers. Out of many names that might be mentioned of those who took part in this movement, there are some that deserve recollection.

Albertus Magnus was born A.D. 1193. It was said of him Magnus, the Domi- that "he was great in magic, greater in philosophy, greatest nican,

in theology.” By religious profession he was a Dominican. Declining the temptations of ecclesiastical preferment, he voluntarily resigned his bishopric, that he might lead in privacy a purer life. As was not uncommon in those days, he was accused of illicit commerce with Satan, and many idle stories were told of the miracles he wrought. At a great banquet, on a winter's day, he produced all the beauties of spring-trees in

Prelude to

Reason.

Albertus

Albertus Magnus and Roger Bacon. 149 full foliage, flowers in perfume, meadows covered with grass ; but, at a word, the phantom pageant was dissolved, and succeeded by appropriate wastes of snow. This was an exaggeration of an entertainment he gave, January 6th, 1259, in the hothouse of the convent garden. He interested himself in the functions of plants, was well acquainted with what is called the sleep of flowers, studied their opening and closing. He understood that the sap is diminished in volume by evaporation from the leaves. He was the first to use the word "affinity” in its modern acceptation. His chemical studies present us with some interesting details. He knew that the whitening of copper by arsenic is not a transmutation, but only the production of an alloy, since the arsenic can be expelled by heat. He speaks of potash as an alkali; describes several acetates; and alludes to the blackening of the skin with nitrate of silver. Contemporary with him was Roger Bacon, born A.D. 1214. Roger

Bacon, dis. His native country has never yet done him justice, though coveries of. his contemporaries truly spoke of him as “the Admirable Doctor.” The great friar of the thirteenth century has been eclipsed by an unworthy namesake. His claims on posterity are enforced by his sufferings and ten years' imprisonment for the cause of truth.

His history, so far as is known, may be briefly told. He was born at Ilchester, in Somersetshire, and studied at the University of Oxford. From thence he went to the University of Paris, where he took the degree of doctor of theology. He was familiar with Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and Arabic. Of mathematics he truly says, that “it is the first of all the sciences; indeed, it precedes all others, and disposes us to them." In advance of his age, he denied the authority of Aristotle, and tells us that we must substitute that of experiment for it. Of his astronomical acquirements we need no better proof than his recommendation to Pope Clement IV. to rectify the Calendar in the manner actually done subsequently. If to him be rightly attributed the invention of spectacles, the human race is his debtor. He described the true theory of telescopes and microscopes, saying that lenses may be ground and arranged in such a way as to render it possible to read at

150

The Persecution of Friar Bacon.

incredible distances the smallest letters, and to count grains of sand and dust, because of the magnitude of the angle under which we may perceive such objects. He foresaw the greatest of all inventions in practical astronomy—the application of optical means to instruments for the measurement of angles. He proposed the propulsion of ships through the water and of carriages upon roads with great velocity, without any animal power, by merely mechanical means, and speculated upon the possibility of making a flying machine. Admitting the truth of alchemy, he advised the experimenter to find out the method by which Nature makes metals, and then to imitate it. He knew that there are different kinds of air, and tells that there is one which will extinguish a flame. These are very clear views for an age which mistook the gases for leather-eared ghosts. He warned us to be cautious how we conclude that we have accomplished the transmutation of metals, quaintly observing that the distance between whitened copper and pure silver is very great. He showed that air is necessary for the support of fire, and was the author of the well-known experiment illustrating that point by putting a lighted lamp under a bell-jar and observing the extinction which takes place.

There is no little significance in the expression of Friar cuted and imprisoned.

Bacon that the ignorant mind cannot sustain the truth. He was accused of magical practices and of a commerce with Satan, though, during the life of Clement IV., who was his friend, he escaped without public penalties. This Pope had written to him a request that he would furnish him with an account of his various inventions. In compliance therewith, Bacon sent him the 'Opus Majus' and other works, together with several mathematical instruments which he had made, as Newton did, with his own hands. But, under the pontificate of Nicholas III., the accusation of magic, astrology, and selling himself to the Devil was again pressed ; one point being that he had proposed to construct astronomical tables for the purpose of predicting future events. Apprehending the worst, he tried to defend himself by his composition 'De Nullitate Magiæ. “ Because these things are beyond your comprehension, you call them the works of the Devil; your theologians

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