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only possible, but inevitable, and that is perhaps as far as the movement has at this time advanced in Europe. But Macaulay and others who have treated of the Reformation have taken too limited a view of it, supposing that this was its point of arrest. It made another enormous stride when, at the American Revolution, the State
Separation of and the Church were solemnly and openly dis- Church and severed from one another. Now might the vaticinations of the prophets of evil expect to find credit; a great people had irrevocably broken off its politics from its theology, and it might surely have been expected that the unbridled interests, and instincts, and passions of men would have dragged everthing into the abyss of anarchy. Yet what do we, who are living nearly a century after that time, find the event to be? Sectarian decomposition, passing forward to its last extreme, is the process by which individual mental liberty is engendered and maintained. A grand and imposing religious unity implies tyranny to the individual; the increasing emergence of sects gives him increasing latitude of thought-with their utmost multiplication he gains his utmost liberty. In this respect, unity and liberty are in opposition; as the one diminishes, the other increases. The Reformation broke down unity; it gave liberty to masses
Emergence of men grouped together in sufficient numbers of liberty of to insure their position; it is now invisibly, thought. but irresistibly making steps, never to be stayed until there is an absolute mental emancipation for man.
Great revolutions are not often accomplished without much suffering and many crimes. It might have been supposed before the event, perhaps it is supposed by many who are not privileged to live among the last results, that this decomposition of religious faith must be to the detriment of personal and practical piety. Yet America, in which, of all countries, the Reformation at the The American present moment has farthest advanced, should clergy. offer to thoughtful men much encouragement. Its cities are filled with churches built by voluntary gifts; its clergy are voluntarily sustained, and are, in all directions, engaged in enterprises of piety, education, mercy. What a difference between their private life and that of ecclesiastics
before the Reformation! Not, as in the old times, does the layman look upon them as the cormorants and curse of society; they are his faithful advisers, his honoured friends, under whose suggestion and supervision are instituted educational establishments, colleges, hospitals, whatever can be of benefit to men in this life, or secure for them happiness in the life to come.
DIGRESSION ON THE CONDITION OF ENGLAND AT THE
END OF THE AGE OF FAITH.
RESULTS PRODUCED BY THE AGE OF FAITH.
Condition of England at the Suppression of the Monasteries.
Locomotion, Literature, Libraries. --Social and private Life of the Laity and Clergy.—Brutality in the Administration of Law. Profligacy of Literature.—The Theatre, its three Phases.—Miracle, Moral, and
Real Plays. Estimate of the Advance made in the Age of Faith.-Comparison with
that already made in the Age of Reason.
ARRIVED at the commencement of the Age of Reason, we might profitably examine the social condition of those countries destined to become conspicuous in the new order of things. I have not space to present such an Results of the examination as extensively as it deserves, and Age of Faith. must limit
my remarks to that nation which, of all others, is most interesting to the English or American readerthat England which we picture to ourselves as foremost in civilization, her universities dating back for many centuries; her charters and laws, on which individual, and therefore social, liberty rests, spoken of as the ancient privileges of the realm; her people a clear-headed race, lovers and stout defenders of freedom. During by far the greater part of the past period she had been Catholic, but she had also been Reformed-ever, as she will always condition be, religious. A correct estimate of her national produced in
England. and individual life will point out to us all that had been done in the Age of Faith. From her condition we may gather what is the progress made by man when
sion of the
guided by such theological ideas as those which had been her rule of life.
The following paragraphs convey an instructive lesson. They dissipate some romantic errors; they are a verdict on a political system from its practical results. What a contrast with the prodigious advancement made within a few years when the Age of Reason had set in! How strikingly are we reminded of the inconsequential, the fruitless actions of youth, and the deliberate, the durable undertakings of manhood! For
many of the facts I have now to mention the reader will find authorities in the works of Lord Macaulay and Mr. Froude on English history. My own reading in other directions satisfies me that the picture here offered represents the actual condition of things. At the time of the suppression of the monasteries in
England the influences which had been in operathe suppres.
tion for so many centuries had come to an end.
Had they endured a thousand years longer they monasteries.
could have accomplished nothing more. The condition of human life shows what their uses and what their failures had been. There were forests extending over great districts; fens forty or fifty miles in length, reeking with miasm and fever, though round the walls of the abbeys there might be beautiful gardens, green lawns, shady walks, and many murmuring streams. In trackless woods where men should have been, herds of deer were straying; the sandy hills were alive with conies, the downs with flocks of bustards. The peasant's cabin was made of reeds or sticks plastered over with mud. His fire was chimneyless-often it was made of peat. In the objects and manner of his existence he was but a step above the industrious beaver who was building his dam in the adjacent stream. There were highwaymen on the roads, pirates on the rivers, vermin in abundance in the clothing and beds. The common food was peas, vetches, fern roots, and even the bark of trees. There was no commerce to put off famine. Man was altogether at the mercy of the seasons. The population, sparse as it was, was perpetually thinned by pestilence and want. Nor was the state of the townsman better than that of the rustic; his
bed was a bag of straw, with a hard round log for his pillow. If he was in easy circumstances, his clothing was of leather, if poor, a wisp of straw wrapped round his limbs kept off the cold. It was a melancholy social condition when nothing intervened between reed cabins in the fen, the miserable wigwams of villages, and the conspicuous walls of the castle and monastery. Well might they who lived in those times bewail the lot of the ague-stricken peasant, and point, not without indignation, to the troops of pilgrims, mendicants, pardoners, and ecclesiastics of every grade who hung round the Church, to the nightly wassail and rioting drunkenness in the castle-hall, secure in its moats, its battlements, and its warders. The local pivots round which society revolved were the red-handed baron, familiar with scenes of outrage and deeds of blood, and the abbot, indulging in the extreme of luxury, magnificent in dress, exulting in his ambling palfrey, his hawk, his hounds. Rural life had but little improved since the time of Cæsar; in its physical aspect it was altogether neglected. As to the mechanic, how was it possible that he could exist where there were no windows made of glass, not even of oiled paper, no workshop warmed by a fire. For the poor there was no physician, for the dying the monk and his crucifix. The aim was to smooth the sufferer's passage to the next world, not to save him for this. Sanitary provisions there were none except the paternoster and the ave. In the cities the pestilence walked unstayed, its triumphs numbered by the sounds of the death-crier in the streets or the knell for the soul that was passing away.
Our estimate of the influence of the system under which men were thus living as a regulator of their passions may at this point derive much exactness from incidents such as those offered by the history of syphilis and the usages of war.
For this purpose we may for a moment glance at the Continent.
The attention of all Europe was suddenly arrested by a disease which broke out soon after the discovery Moral state of America. It raged with particular violence the spread of in the French army commanded by Charles syphilis, VIII. at the siege of Naples, A.D. 1495, and spread almost