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CHAPTER X. Literature of the Romans. Importance of history. Roman his-
cus Aurelius. Numa, one of the earliest philosophers of Rome. Introduction of Gre-
the reign of Constantine. Celsus; Modern Platonic or Eclectic sect of philosophers; Po
the foundation of the French monarchy by Clovis. Conversion of Constantine to the
archy by Clovis, to the reign of Charlemagne. The Druids of Gaul and Britain; their
CHAPTER XVIII. History of literature from the begining of the eleventh to
CHAPTER XIX. History of literature from the middle of the thirteenth, to the
Chrysoloras, a learned Greek, visits Italy, and revives the taste for the Greek language.
AMONG the most interesting events in the history of the world, are the rise and progress of literature, its general diffusion, and the influence it has exerted, and still continues to exert, upon the moral, intellectual and political condition of the human race. The influence of literature and science, is well worth the investigation, not only of the philosopher, who enters minutely into the examination of causes and effects, but of every rational and intelligent mind; and its history is no less a subject of interesting pursuit. It is a pleasing employment, when the mind is undisturbed by the cares of the world, or not engaged by more profound studies, to trace its progress through its various ramifications and gradations, its elevations and depressions, from its first rude beginnings, when knowledge was conveyed in symbols and hieroglyphics, to its present "high and palmy state." Like every thing else, dependant upon human exertion for its cultivation and improvement, it has had its seasons of prosperity and glory; and, notwithstanding the inestimable blessings it is calculated to bestow, it has also had its seasons of humiliation and depression.
When we compare the condition of a civilized and enlightened people with that of the wild and untutored savage, whose benighted mind no genial ray of science illumines, the influence of learning is strikingly displayed. In the latter we behold mind in a rude and uncultivated state, rough and unpolished as the most precious of gems, before the hand of the lapidary has removed the external coat which conceals its beauties. Contented with the objects which surround him, and with which he has been familiar from his infancy, the uncultivated man, notwithstanding his native energy of intellect, discovers no great merit in the improvements daily making by his more enlightened neighbours, in the arts which conduce to the comforts and conveniences of life; nor does he discover any extraordinary development of mind in the various improvements and discoveries in the different departments of science. But let these things be explained in a
manner which he can comprehend, and if he is not able, from the peculiar circumstances of his situation, to adopt them in real life, he will be constrained to acknowledge the advantages to be derived from mental cultivation. The influence of learning is obvious also, when we compare the civil and political institutions of a country, where seminaries of learning, unrestrained by arbitrary rules, are supported and encouraged by public and private munificence, and where learning is generally diffused, with those of another where knowledge is limited to a fewwhere fair science spreads not her cheering beams abroad throughout the land. In the one, the people are generally intelligent, if not learned, and are capable of understanding and properly appreciating their civil and political rights; they are in the peaceful possession of the comforts and conveniences of life, and are contented and happy. In the other, "oppression rules the hour;" the great mass of the people, debased by ignorance and superstition, are poor, wretched and dependant upon the whims and caprices of some petty tyrant, who, "clothed with a little brief authority," exercises it, not for the general good, but for his own private advantage, and to gratify his lust of power.
Seated, as it were, upon a commanding eminence, the lover of learning at the present day, can see what it once was, and what it now is. He beholds many a solitary place made glad by the influence of literature, whilst its gentle and beneficent stream continues to flow and spread, and like the fruitful Nile, fertilizes the soil which would, otherwise, remain a barren waste, or produce only the noxious weeds of error. From this eminence he casts a retrospective glance over the plains and mountains of Greece, "the land of battle and of song," and beholds them as they were in the days of her glory and renown. The venerable groves of the academy and the lyceum rise to his view, where lessons of wisdom once flowed from the lips of a Plato and an Aristotle, and he dwells with enthusiasm upon that proud era of her history, when the streets of Athens were crowded with philosophers, orators, poets and historians, whose genius still throws a splendid light over a country, once the theatre of so many glorious achievements, now, alas! the land of oppression, ignorance and superstition. The banner of Mahomet now waves over her ruined temples, her porticos and her monuments, and but little remains to designate the spot where Athens, unrivalled in literature and unequalled in arts, once stood, the admiration of the world;
And yet how lovely in thine age of wo,