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text. By the labours of those learned and devout men it was purified from the blunders of ignorant copyists; ancient manuscripts and accurate transcripts were eagerly sought after ; pleasure was taken by the various monasteries in the elegance and correctness of the copies they produced ; and hence, in conjunction with other providential agencies, we have now the means of acquiring the correct text of the Scriptures.
In ascribing the preservation of these remains of classical and sacred antiquity to a providential interposition, we are met by an objection which it may be well briefly to consider. It may be asked, Why was this inroad of barbarism permitted at all? Why did God permit the productions of ancient science, literature, and art to be thus swept away and all but annihilated, so that the portion of them which we now possess, in comparison with what has been lost, is but as the scattered fragments flung on shore from the wreck of some richly freighted vessel, which has sunk with its cargo in the fathomless ocean? If we ought to be grateful for the small portion saved, how shall we account for the far greater amount lost ? It would be difficult to state this more clearly, or answer it more adequately than in the words of a distinguished American writer, who says, “ Scholars and artists have mourned for ages over the almost universal destruction of the works of ancient genius. I suppose that many a second-rate city, at the time of Christ, pos
sessed a collection of works of surpassing beauty, which could not be equalled by all the specimens now existing, which have been yet discovered. The Alexandrian library is believed to have contained a greater treasure of intellectual riches than has ever since been hoarded in a single city. These we know have all vanished from the earth. The Apollo Belvidere, and the Venus de' Medici, stand in almost solitary grandeur, to remind us of the perfection to which the plastic art of the ancients had attained. The Alexandrian library, as we know, furnished fuel for years for the baths of the illiterate Moslems. I used frequently myself to wonder why it had pleased God to blot out of existence these magnificent productions of ancient genius. It seemed to me to be strange that the pall of oblivion should thus be thrown over all to which man in the flower of his age had given birth. But the solution of the mystery is found, I think, in the remains of Herculaneum and Pompeii. We there discover that every work of man was so penetrated by corruption, every production of genius was so defiled with uncleanness, that God, in introducing a better dispensation, determined to cleanse the world from the pollution of preceding ages. As, when all flesh had corrupted his way, he purified the world by the waters of a flood, so, when genius had covered the earth with images of sin, he overwhelmed the works of ancient civilization with a deluge of barbarism, and consigned the most splendid monu
ments of literature and art to almost universal oblivion. It was too bad to exist; and he swept it away with the besom of destruction." If this representation be true--and that it is so can scarcely be questioned---not only are we justified in ascribing to a providential interposition the preservation of some remains of classical antiquity, but no less so in tracing up to the same cause the destruction of so much
The efforts of Charlemagne for the civilization of his subjects were not confined to the diffusion of mere scholastic learning; he fully appreciated the influence of commerce, and of the fine and useful arts, in elevating and refining a people. He discovered that it was vain to attempt to repress the rude and barbarous customs, the warlike and predatory habits of the Franks, unless he could open some fresh outlets for their energies ; that it was better to draw off the stormy waters along some peaceful channels, than merely to pen them up within precarious limits and embankments. We proceed to give some instances and illustrations of his efforts to introduce the refining and civilizing influence of art and commerce among his people.
He appears himself to have practised poetry and music, and to have made many attempts to improve and cultivate the taste for the latter among the Franks. The psalmody and sacred music previously in use among them seems to have been of the coarsest and rudest
description. “The Franks," says a chronicler, “ with their barbarous voices, could not utter the warbling sounds and soft cadences, and varied melodies of the Romans. They seemed rather to gulp their sounds than to utter them.” When at Rome, in the year 786, Charlemagne was much struck with the difference between the church music of the Italians and that of his own countrymen. He perceived how coarse and rude was that to which he was accustomed, when compared with the sublime and refined harmonies which he now heard. He, therefore, requested the pope to allow some of his most skilful musicians to accompany him on his return.
His request was granted, and Theodore and Benedict were sent into France, with a copy of the Gregorian antiphonal. The intercourse of the rival singers was, as usual, of the most discordant character. The Franks refused to adopt the Roman mode of chanting the service, maintaining that their own was better; whilst the new teachers said that their scholars were as rude and uncultured as brute beasts." Charlemagne, overhearing the quarrel, summoned both parties into his presence to a trial of skill
. This only confirmed his preference for the Italian mode. He, therefore, commanded it to be adopted throughout his dominions, and established two singing schools, the one at Soissons the other at Metz, where it was taught.
The attention of Charlemagne was directed to architecture as well as to music, by the mani
fest superiority of that in Italy to any which existed in France. It seems probable that the Franks, like the Saxons, built their houses at this period almost entirely of wood, and the royal palaces differed only from the dwellings of the common people in their greater extent, and the larger number of slaves attached to them. The graphic description given by Thierry of one inhabited by Lothaire, in a previous century, is equally applicable to those occupied by Charlemagne. "A few leagues from Soissons, on the banks of a small river, stands the village of Braine. This was one of the immense farms where the Frankish kings held their court. The royal habitation had none of the military aspect which distinguished the castles of the middle ages ; it was a large building, surrounded with porticos, in the Roman style, sometimes composed of carefully polished wood, and ornamented with statues not altogether wanting in elegance. Round the principal body of the building were disposed the lodgings of the officers of the palace, whether barbarian or of Roman origin, as well as those chiefs of the tribes who, together with their warriors, in accordance with the German custom, had entered into truste with the king, that is to say, had made an especial engagement of vassalage and fidelity.” “Other houses, of meaner appearance, were occupied by a large number of fainilies, both the men and women of which exercised all manner of trades, from that of the goldsmith and armourer to that of the weaver