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might once more be read, the immortal statues of the Greek Insecurity of sculptors find worshippers, and the demonstrathe Byzantine tions of Euclid a consenting intellect. But that system.
unfortunate, that audacious policy of usurpation once entered upon, there was no going back. He who is infallible must needs be immutable. In its very nature the action implied compulsion, compulsion implied the possession of power, and the whole policy insured an explosion the moment that the means of compression should be weak.
It is said that when the Saracens captured Alexandria, their victorious general sent to the khalif to know his pleasure respecting the library. The answer was in the spirit of the age. “If the books be confirmatory of the Bigotry of the Koran, they are superfluous; if contradictory, first Saracens. they are pernicious. Let them be burnt.” At this moment, to all human appearance, the Mohammedan autocrat was on the point of joining in the evil policy of the Byzantine sovereign. But fortunately it was but the impulse of a moment, rectified forthwith, and a noble course of action was soon pursued. The Arab incorporated into his literature the wisdom of those he had conquered.
In thus conceding to knowledge a free and unpolicy soon embarrassed career, and, instead of repressing, pursued.
encouraging to the utmost all kinds of learning, did the Koran take any harm? It was a high statesmanship which, almost from the beginning of the impulse from Mecca, bound down to a narrow, easily comprehended, and easily expressed dogma the exacted belief, and in all other particulars let the human mind free.
In the preceding paragraphs I have criticized the course of events, condemning or applauding the actions and the actors as circumstances seem to require, herein following the usual course, which implies that men can contros affairs, and that the agent is to be held responsible for his
deed. We have, however, only to consider the
courso of our own lives to be satisfied to how preceding limited an extent such is the case.
We are, as we often say, the creatures of circumstances. In that expression there is a higher philosophy than might at first sight appear. Our actions are not the pure and unmingled results of our desires ; they are the offspring of
The true causes of the
many various and mixed conditions. In that which seems to be the most voluntary decision there enters much that is altogether involuntary-more, perhaps, than we generally suppose. And, in like manner, those who are imagined to have exercised an irresponsible and spontaneous influence in determining public policy, and thereby fixing the fate of nations, will be found, when we understand their position more correctly, to have been the creatures of circumstances altogether independent and irrespective of them-circumstances which they never created, of whose influence they only availed themselves. They were placed in a current which drifted them irresistibly along.
From this more accurate point of view we should therefore consider the course of these events, recognizing the principle that the affairs of men pass forward in determinate way, expanding and unfolding themselves. And hence we see that the things of which we have spoken as though they were matters of choice were, in reality, forced upon their apparent authors by the necessity of the times. But, in truth, they should be considered as the presentations of a certain phase of life which nations in their onward course sooner or later assume. In the individual, how well we know that a sober moderation of action, an appropriate gravity of demeanour, belong to the mature period of life; a change from the wanton wilfulness of youth, which may be ushered in, or its beginning marked, by many accidental incidents : in one perhaps by domestic bereavements, in another by the loss of fortune, in a third by ill health. We are correct enough in imputing to such trials the change of character, but we never deceive ourselves by supposing that it would have failed to take place had those incidents not occurred. There runs an irresistible destiny in the midst of all these vicissitudes. We may
therefore be satisfied that, whatever may have been the particular form of the events of which we have had occasion to speak, their order of affairs deter
mined by law. succession was a matter of destiny, and altogether beyond the reach of any individual. We may condemn the Byzantine monarchs, or applaud the Arabian khalifs
our blame and our praise must be set at their proper
value. Europe was passing from its Age of Inquiry to its Age of Faith. In such a transition the predestined underlies the voluntary. There are analogies between the life of a nation and that of an individual, who, though he may be in one respect the maker of his own fortunes for happiness or for misery, for good or for evil, though he remains here or goes there, as his inclinations prompt, though he does this or abstains from that as he chooses, is nevertheless held fast by an inexorable fate-a fate which brought him into the world involuntarily so far as he was concerned, which presses him forward through a definite career, the stages of which are absolutely invariable-infancy, childhood, youth maturity, old age, with all their characteristic actions and passions, and which removes him from the scene at the appointed time, in most cases against his will. So also it is with nations; the voluntary is only the outward semblance, covering, but hardly hiding the predetermined. Over the events of life we may have control, but none whatever over the law of its progress.
There is a geometry that applies to nations, an equation of their curve of advance. That no mortal man can touch.
We have now to examine in what manner the glimmering lamp of knowledge was sustained when it was all but
ready to die out. By the Arabians it was science in its handed down to us.
The grotesque forms of some of those who took charge of it are not
without interest. They exhibit a strange mixture of the Neoplatonist, the Pantheist, the Mohammedan, the Christian. In such untoward times, it was perhaps needful that the strongest passions of men should be excited and science stimulated by inquiries for methods of turning lead into gold, or of prolonging life indefinitely. We have now to deal with the philosopher's stone, the elixir vitæ, the powder of projection, magical mirrors, perpetual lamps, the transmutation of metals. In smoky caverns under ground, where the great work is stealthily carried on, the alchemist and his familiar are busy with their alem bics, cucurbites, and pelicans, main. taining their fires for so many years that salamanders are asserted to be born in them.
stage of sorcery.
Experimental science was thus restored, though under a very strange aspect, by the Arabians. Already it displayed its connexion with medicine—a connexion derived from the influence of the Nestorians and the Jews. It is necessary for us to consider briefly the relations of each, and of the Nestorians first.
In Chapter IX. we have related the rivalries of Cyril, the Bishop of Alexandria, and Nestorius, the Bishop of Constantinople. The theological point of their The Nesquarrel was whether it is right to regard the torians. Virgin Mary as the mother of God. To an Egyptian still tainted with ancient superstition, there was nothing shocking in such a doctrine. His was the country of Isis. St. Cyril, who is to be looked upon as a mere ecclesiastical demagogue, found his purposes answered by adopting it without any scruple. But in Greece there still remained traces of the old philosophy. A recollection of the ideas of Plato had not altogether died out. There were some by whom it was not possible for the Egyptian doctrine to be received. Such, perhaps, was Nestorius, whose sincerity was finally approved by an endurance of persecutions, by his sufferings, and his death. He and his followers, insisting on the plain inference of the last verse of the first chapter of St. Matthew, together with the fifty-fifth and fifty-sixth verses of the thirteenth of the same Gospel, could never be brought to an acknowledgment of the perpetual virginity of the new queen of heaven. We have described the issue of the Council of the virginity Ephesus: the Egyptian faction gained the of the queen victory, the aid of court females being called in, and Nestorius, being deposed from his office, was driven, with his friends, into exile. The philosophical tendency of the vanquished was soon indicated by their actions. While their leader was tormented in an African oasis, many of them emigrated to the Euphrates, and founded the Chaldæan Church. Under its auspices the college at Edessa, with several connected schools, arose. In these were translated into Syriac many Greek and Latin works, as those of Aristotle and Pliny. It was the Nestorians who, in connexion with the Jews, founded the medical
college of Djondesabour, and first instituted a system of They begin to academical honours which has descended to
our times. It was the Nestorians who were not medicine.
only permitted by the khalifs the free exercise of their religion, but even intrusted with the education of the children of the great Mohammedan families, a liberality in striking contrast to the fanaticism of Europe.
The Khalif Alraschid went so far as even to affiliate with place all his public schools under the super
intendence of John Masué, one of that sect. Under the auspices of these learned men the Arabian academies were furnished with translations of Greek authors, and vast libraries were collected in Asia.
Through this connexion with the Arabs, Nestorian Their great
missionaries found means to disseminate their spread in the form of Christianity all over Asia, as far as East,
Malabar and China. The successful intrigues of the Egyptian politicians at Ephesus had no influence in those remote countries, the Asiatic churches of the Nestorian and Jacobite persuasions outnumbering eventually all the European Christians of the Greek and Roman churches combined. In later times the papal government has made great exertions to bring about an understanding with them, but in vain.
The expulsion of this party from Constantinople was accomplished by the same persons and policy concerned in destroying philosophy in Alexandria. St. Cyril was the
representative of an illiterate and unscrupulous faction that had come into the possession of
power through intrigues with the females of the imperial court, and bribery of eunuchs and parasites. The same spirit that had murdered Hypatia tormented Nestorius to death. Of the contending parties, one was respectable and had a tincture of learning, the other ignorant, and not hesitating at the employment of brute force, deportation, assassination. Unfortunately for the world, the unscrupulous party carried the day.
By their descent, the Nestorians had become the They inherit depositaries of the old Greek medical science. the old Greek Its great names they revered. They collected,
with the utmost assiduity, whatever works
persecutions in the West.