Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
In laying before the public these Sketches, I may be permitted to explain that their original purpose was merely to engage the interest of young men in the study of history.
I have thought it more useful to direct attention to the origin and progress of the complicated frame of modern society, the sources of our institutions, and the mixed foresight and accident that have fostered them. I would willingly show the stages through which European society has passed, not using the a priori speculations of theorists, but taking history and its materials as our guides.
I trust it will not be unacceptable if, in tracing up the great stream of civilization, I follow the little tributary branch that rises and flows through our own valleys. The same results for science may. For my part, I shall have obtained my utmost object if, in pointing your observation to the structure of our political society, and to the domestic history of our ancestors — to their modes of thought, feeling, and action — I can awake some taste for historical research and speculation, or assist, in however humble a degree, to promote the love of reasonable liberty, of truth, and of virtue.
Most of our institutions — I may say, all the peculiar institutions of the existing body politic of Europe — have arisen within that limit.
Then, too, we begin to have some of the authentic materials of history. We have original letters and state papers; bodies of laws, rude indeed, but most characteristic; we have chroniclers, meagre and undiscriminating, but still giving facts as they appeared to common men at the time, and deriving value even from the exhibition of the prepossessions and prejudices of the relater; and, finally, we have lives of great men, written by their familiars.
Unfortunately, at that time the history of our own country is a blank; and we are left to conjecture that similar institutions, and manners not materially different when they first fall within the light of history, have had a similar origin, and passed through the same stages of progress.
After examining the structure of Christendom under Charlemagne, and the fragments into which it was broken when no longer sustained by his wisdom and power, I propose to leave the general European history at the period of the Norman conquest of England, and to direct your attention to the state of Britain at that era.
That is an important point in the history of England, which then first becomes one of the members of the Continental family — a state of the great commonwealth of Europe; and it may be said to be the beginning of Scotch history.
Soon after that period, we may derive materials from our own records that will enable us to throw light upon the state of our country, feeble at first, and uncertain, but gradually brightening into the fulness of perfect history. Modern politicians are in the habit of claiming for their own time the dignity and interest of a great political crisis; but the student of history, looking back through the cool vista of a thousand years, will find no crisis so important in European affairs as the era of the accession of Charlemagne [AD ].
We should take a narrow and mistaken view if we regarded the wars of that time as the struggle for superiority of men or of nations — as a dispute whether Charles or Witikind should reign — whether the Saxons or the Franks should be the dominant tribe. If we examine more attentively, we shall find the elements of a different war.
The great fight then began, which has continued ever since, now slumbering, now blazing out anew — often asleep, never dead — the struggle between order and anarchy, between civilization and barbarism.
Setting out of view the interposition of an over-ruling Providence which a historian has no right to limit as a cause of any particular issueit is owing to the wisdom and vigour of Charlemagne, and to the success of that party of which he was the leader and the type, not only that the Germanic race is lord of the ascendant in Europe, but, perhaps, that Europe has set up the standard of mind against brute force—has identified its existence with Christianity, instead of the worship of the groves and of Odin, or the doctrine of the prophet of Islam.
We shall understand this better if we bestow a little attention upon the state of society in Europe at that important era when Charlemagne ascended the throne of the Franks.
Pepin immediately showed his gratitude by bestowing on the Roman See its first great territorial possessions, the provinces of Romagna and the march of Ancona, wrested by him and his hardy Franks from the Lombards, whom the languid Emperors of the East allowed to possess the fairest provinces of Italy.
And there began that intimate alliance of the Church and the State, which, cultivated at first, perhaps, for political or even selfish ends, had the effect for many centuries of giving unity to Christendom and predominance to the Papal power; and of engaging the successive rulers of Europe to propagate and support the doctrines of the Church.
It is not necessary to dwell upon the short period of double rule of Charles and his brother Carloman [AD - ], and I only advert to it to call your attention to two facts — first, the partition of the inheritance, so contrary to the notions of after-feudalism, and in reality so dangerous to the existence of the kingdom, but so established in the customs of the time, that neither Charles Martel, Pepin, nor Charlemagne himself, ventured to controvert it.
Secondly, we must not omit to notice, that whatever the destination of the deceased monarch might be, and however influential in guiding the succession, still the absolute election and right of choice lay in the people.
Observe how Europe was peopled at that time. The original Gaulish people had experienced the fate which seems to attend the Celtic race when brought in collision with Teutonic nations.Prof.
L. MICHAEL WHITE: So if you look at the emerging Christian art of this period, the popular mind of Christianity in the early Middle Ages is much more literalistic in its reading of the Book.
Antichrist, conveniently presented to a hurting, apocalyptic world in need of a "savior."Indeed, you can already see how much people are being primed today and want to believe in a (Godless) world savior, from the way education increasingly shuns Christ completely, in favor of Satanic, pagan, or any other religious messiah in His place, to .
The Project Gutenberg eBook, The Three Devils: Luther's, Milton's, and Goethe's, by David Masson This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever.
In the Middle Ages men still recognised tbe cleavage between the spirit of the New Testament and the Jewish " Nazism " of the Old Testament against which Christ rebelled. In Christ's person the ideal of human brotherhood was fully accomplisbed.
The Old Testament contained the materialistic covenant of a single race with its Jehovah. In a sense, the strength of science at its best is that it is always aware of its limits, aware that knowledge is always growing, always subject to change, never absolute. Because knowledge depends on evidence and reason, arbitrary authority can only be its enemy.
Its the world of people living inauthentic lives doing what they are supposed to do. Joseph Campbell Category: Authentic It is easy in the world to live after the worlds opinions; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.