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History of the Conflict Between Religion and Science by John William Draper

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incident, and condensation and rotation the inevitable results.
There must be a separation of rings all lying in one plane, a
generation of planets and satellites all rotating alike, a
central sun and engirdling globes. From a chaotic mass, through
the operation of natural laws, an organized system has been
produced. An integration of matter into worlds has taken place
through a decline of heat.

If such be the cosmogony of the solar system, such the genesis of
the planetary worlds, we are constrained to extend our views of
the dominion of law, and to recognize its agency in the creation
as well as in the conservation of the innumerable orbs that
throng the universe.

But, again, it may be asked: "Is there not something profoundly
impious in this? Are we not excluding Almighty God from the world
he has made?

We have often witnessed the formation of a cloud in a serene sky.
A hazy point, barely perceptible--a little wreath of
mist--increases in volume, and becomes darker and denser, until
it obscures a large portion of the heavens. It throws itself into
fantastic shapes, it gathers a glory from the sun, is borne
onward by the wind, and, perhaps, as it gradually came, so it
gradually disappears, melting away in the untroubled air.

Now, we say that the little vesicles of which this cloud was
composed arose from the condensation of water-vapor preexisting
in the atmosphere, through reduction of temperature; we show how
they assumed the form they present. We assign optical reasons for
the brightness or blackness of the cloud; we explain, on
mechanical principles, its drifting before the wind; for its
disappearance we account on the principles of chemistry. It never
occurs to us to invoke the interposition of the Almighty in the
production and fashioning of this fugitive form. We explain all
the facts connected with it by physical laws, and perhaps should
reverentially hesitate to call into operation the finger of God.

But the universe is nothing more than such a cloud--a cloud of
suns and worlds. Supremely grand though it may seem to us, to the
Infinite and Eternal Intellect it is no more than a fleeting
mist. If there be a multiplicity of worlds in infinite space,
there is also a succession of worlds in infinite time. As one
after another cloud replaces cloud in the skies, so this starry
system, the universe, is the successor of countless others that
have preceded it--the predecessor of countless others that will
follow. There is an unceasing metamorphosis, a sequence of
events, without beginning or end.

If, on physical principles, we account for minor meteorological
incidents, mists and clouds, is it not permissible for us to
appeal to the same principle in the origin of world-systems and
universes, which are only clouds on a space-scale somewhat
larger, mists on a time-scale somewhat less transient? Can any
man place the line which bounds the physical on one side, the
supernatural on the other? Do not our estimates of the extent and
the duration of things depend altogether on our point of view?
Were we set in the midst of the great nebula of Orion, how
transcendently magnificent the scene! The vast transformations,
the condensations of a fiery mist into worlds, might seem worthy
of the immediate presence, the supervision of God; here, at our
distant station, where millions of miles are inappreciable to our
eyes, and suns seem no bigger than motes in the air, that nebula
is more insignificant than the faintest cloud. Galileo, in his
description of the constellation of Orion, did not think it worth
while so much as to mention it. The most rigorous theologian of
those days would have seen nothing to blame in imputing its
origin to secondary causes, nothing irreligious in failing to
invoke the arbitrary interference of God in its metamorphoses. If
such be the conclusion to which we come respecting it, what would
be the conclusion to which an Intelligence seated in it might
come respecting us? It occupies an extent of space millions of
times greater than that of our solar system; we are invisible
from it, and therefore absolutely insignificant. Would such an
Intelligence think it necessary to require for our origin and
maintenance the immediate intervention of God?

From the solar system let us descend to what is still more
insignificant--a little portion of it; let us descend to our own
earth. In the lapse of time it has experienced great changes.
Have these been due to incessant divine interventions, or to the
continuous operation of unfailing law? The aspect of Nature
perpetually varies under our eyes, still more grandly and
strikingly has it altered in geological times. But the laws
guiding those changes never exhibit the slightest variation. In
the midst of immense vicissitudes they are immutable. The present
order of things is only a link in a vast connected chain reaching
back to an incalculable past, and forward to an infinite future.

There is evidence, geological and astronomical, that the
temperature of the earth and her satellite was in the remote past
very much higher than it is now. A decline so slow as to be
imperceptible at short intervals, but manifest enough in the
course of many ages, has occurred. The heat has been lost by
radiation into space.

The cooling of a mass of any kind, no matter whether large or
small, is not discontinuous; it does not go on by fits and
starts; it takes place under the operation of a mathematical law,
though for such mighty changes as are here contemplated neither
the formula of Newton, nor that of Dulong and Petit, may apply.
It signifies nothing that periods of partial decline, glacial
periods, or others of temporary elevation, have been
intercalated; it signifies nothing whether these variations may
have arisen from topographical variations, as those of level, or
from periodicities in the radiation of the sun. A periodical sun
would act as a mere perturbation in the gradual decline of heat.
The perturbations of the planetary motions are a confirmation,
not a disproof, of gravity.

Now, such a decline of temperature must have been attended by
innumerable changes of a physical character in our globe. Her
dimensions must have diminished through contraction, the length
of her day must have lessened, her surface must have collapsed,
and fractures taken place along the lines of least resistance;
the density of the sea must have increased, its volume must have
become less; the constitution of the atmosphere must have varied,
especially in the amount of water-vapor and carbonic acid that it
contained; the barometric pressure must have declined.

These changes, and very many more that might be mentioned, must
have taken place not in a discontinuous but in an orderly manner,
since the master-fact, the decline of heat, that was causing
them, was itself following a mathematical law.

But not alone did lifeless Nature submit to these inevitable
mutations; living Nature was also simultaneously affected.

An organic form of any kind, vegetable or animal, will remain
unchanged only so long as the environment in which it is placed
remains unchanged. Should an alteration in the environment occur,
the organism will either be modified or destroyed.

Destruction is more likely to happen as the change in the
environment is more sudden; modification or transformation is
more possible as that change is more gradual.

Since it is demonstrably certain that lifeless Nature has in the
lapse of ages undergone vast modifications; since the crust of
the earth, and the sea, and the atmosphere, are no longer such as
they once were; since the distribution of the land and the ocean
and all manner of physical conditions have varied; since there
have been such grand changes in the environment of living things
on the surface of our planet--it necessarily follows that organic
Nature must have passed through destructions and transformations
in correspondence thereto.

That such extinctions, such modifications, have taken place, how
copious, how convincing, is the evidence!

Here, again, we must observe that, since the disturbing agency
was itself following a mathematical law, these its results must
be considered as following that law too.

Such considerations, then, plainly force upon us the conclusion
that the organic progress of the world has been guided by the
operation of immutable law--not determined by discontinuous,
disconnected, arbitrary interventions of God. They incline us to
view favorably the idea of transmutations of one form into
another, rather than that of sudden creations.

Creation implies an abrupt appearance, transformation a gradual

In this manner is presented to our contemplation the great theory
of Evolution. Every organic being has a place in a chain of
events. It is not an isolated, a capricious fact, but an
unavoidable phenomenon. It has its place in that vast, orderly
concourse which has successively risen in the past, has
introduced the present, and is preparing the way for a
predestined future. From point to point in this vast progression
there has been a gradual, a definite, a continuous unfolding, a
resistless order of evolution. But in the midst of these mighty
changes stand forth immutable the laws that are dominating over

If we examine the introduction of any type of life in the animal
series, we find that it is in accordance with transformation, not
with creation. Its beginning is under an imperfect form in the
midst of other forms, of which the time is nearly complete, and
which are passing into extinction. By degrees, one species after
another in succession more and more perfect arises, until, after
many ages, a culmination is reached. From that there is, in like
manner, a long, a gradual decline.

Thus, though the mammal type of life is the characteristic of the
Tertiary and post-Tertiary periods, it does not suddenly make its
appearance without premonition in those periods. Far back, in the
Secondary, we find it under imperfect forms, struggling, as it
were, to make good a foothold. At length it gains a predominance
under higher and better models.

So, too, of reptiles, the characteristic type of life of the
Secondary period. As we see in a dissolving view, out of the
fading outlines of a scene that is passing away, the dim form of
a new one emerging, which gradually gains strength, reaches its
culmination, and then melts away in some other that is displacing
it, so reptile-life doubtfully, appears, reaches its culmination,
and gradually declines. In all this there is nothing abrupt; the
changes shade into each other by insensible degrees.

How could it be otherwise? The hot-blooded animals could not
exist in an atmosphere so laden with carbonic acid as was that of
the primitive times. But the removal of that noxious ingredient
from the air by the leaves of plants under the influence of
sunlight, the enveloping of its carbon in the earth under the
form of coal, the disengagement of its oxygen, permitted their
life. As the atmosphere was thus modified, the sea was involved
in the change; it surrendered a large part of its carbonic acid,
and the limestone hitherto held in solution by it was deposited
in the solid form. For every equivalent of carbon buried in the
earth, there was an equivalent of carbonate of lime separated
from the sea --not necessarily in an amorphous condition, most
frequently under an organic form. The sunshine kept up its work
day by day, but there were demanded myriads of days for the work
to be completed. It was a slow passage from a noxious to a
purified atmosphere, and an equally slow passage from a
cold-blooded to a hot- blooded type of life. But the physical
changes were taking place under the control of law, and the
organic transformations were not sudden or arbitrary providential
acts. They were the immediate, the inevitable consequences of the
physical changes, and therefore, like them, the necessary issue
of law.

For a more detailed consideration of this subject, I may refer
the reader to Chapters I, II., VII, of the second book of my
"Treatise on Human Physiology," published in 1856.

Is the world, then, governed by law or by providential
interventions, abruptly breaking the proper sequence of events?

To complete our view of this question, we turn finally to what,
in one sense, is the most insignificant, in another the most
important, case that can be considered. Do human societies, in
their historic career, exhibit the marks of a predetermined
progress in an unavoidable track? Is there any evidence that the
life of nations is under the control of immutable law?

May we conclude that, in society, as in the individual man, parts
never spring from nothing, but are evolved or developed from
parts that are already in existence?

If any one should object to or deride the doctrine of the
evolution or successive development of the animated forms which
constitute that unbroken organic chain reaching from the
beginning of life on the globe to the present times, let him
reflect that he has himself passed through modifications the
counterpart of those he disputes. For nine months his type of
life was aquatic, and during that time he assumed, in succession,
many distinct but correlated forms. At birth his type of life
became aerial; he began respiring the atmospheric air; new
elements of food were supplied to him; the mode of his nutrition
changed; but as yet he could see nothing, hear nothing, notice
nothing. By degrees conscious existence was assumed; he became
aware that there is an external world. In due time organs adapted
to another change of food, the teeth, appeared, and a change of
food ensued. He then passed through the stages of childhood and
youth, his bodily form developing, and with it his intellectual
powers. At about fifteen years, in consequence of the evolution
which special parts of his system had attained, his moral
character changed. New ideas, new passions, influenced him. And
that that was the cause, and this the effect, is demonstrated
when, by the skill of the surgeon, those parts have been
interfered with. Nor does the development, the metamorphosis, end
here; it requires many years for the body to reach its full
perfection, many years for the mind. A culmination is at length
reached, and then there is a decline. I need not picture its
mournful incidents-- the corporeal, the intellectual
enfeeblement. Perhaps there is little exaggeration in saying that
in less than a century every human being on the face of the
globe, if not cut off in an untimely manner, has passed through
all these changes.

Is there for each of us a providential intervention as we thus
pass from stage to stage of life? or shall we not rather believe
that the countless myriads of human beings who have peopled the
earth have been under the guidance of an unchanging, a universal

But individuals are the elementary constituents of
communities--nations. They maintain therein a relation like that
which the particles of the body maintain to the body itself.
These, introduced into it, commence and complete their function;
they die, and are dismissed.

Like the individual, the nation comes into existence without its
own knowledge, and dies without its own consent, often against
its own will. National life differs in no particular from
individual, except in this, that it is spread over a longer span,
but no nation can escape its inevitable term. Each, if its
history be well considered, shows its time of infancy, its time
of youth, its time of maturity, its time of decline, if its
phases of life be completed.

In the phases of existence of all, so far as those phases are
completed, there are common characteristics, and, as like
accordances in individuals point out that all are living under a
reign of law, we are justified in inferring that the course of
nations, and indeed the progress of humanity, does not take place
in a chance or random way, that supernatural interventions never
break the chain of historic acts, that every historic event has
its warrant in some preceding event, and gives warrant to others
that are to follow..

But this conclusion is the essential principle of Stoicism--that
Grecian philosophical system which, as I have already said,
offered a support in their hour of trial and an unwavering guide
in the vicissitudes of life, not only to many illustrious Greeks,
but also to some of the great philosophers, statesmen, generals,
and emperors of Rome; a system which excluded chance from every
thing, and asserted the direction of all events by irresistible
necessity, to the promotion of perfect good; a system of
earnestness, sternness, austerity, virtue--a protest in favor of
the common-sense of mankind. And perhaps we shall not dissent
from the remark of Montesquieu, who affirms that the destruction
of the Stoics was a great calamity to the human race; for they
alone made great citizens, great men.

To the principle of government by law, Latin Christianity, in its
papal form, is in absolute contradiction. The history of this
branch of the Christian Church is almost a diary of miracles and
supernatural interventions. These show that the supplications of
holy men have often arrested the course of Nature--if, indeed,
there be any such course; that images and pictures have worked
wonders; that bones, hairs, and other sacred relics, have wrought
miracles. The criterion or proof of the authenticity of many of
these objects is, not an unchallengeable record of their origin
and history, but an exhibition of their miracle-working powers.

Is not that a strange logic which finds proof of an asserted fact
in an inexplicable illustration of something else?

Even in the darkest ages intelligent Christian men must have had
misgivings as to these alleged providential or miraculous
interventions. There is a solemn grandeur in the orderly progress
of Nature which profoundly impresses us; and such is the
character of continuity in the events of our individual life that
we instinctively doubt the occurrence of the supernatural in that
of our neighbor. The intelligent man knows well that, for his
personal behoof, the course of Nature has never been checked; for
him no miracle has ever been worked; he attributes justly every
event of his life to some antecedent event; this he looks upon as
the cause, that as the consequence. When it is affirmed that, in
his neighbor's behalf, such grand interventions have been
vouchsafed, he cannot do otherwise than believe that his neighbor
is either deceived, or practising deception.

As might, then, have been anticipated, the Catholic doctrine of
miraculous intervention received a rude shock at the time of the
Reformation, when predestination and election were upheld by some
of the greatest theologians, and accepted by some of the greatest
Protestant Churches. With stoical austerity Calvin declares: "We
were elected from eternity, before the foundation of the world,
from no merit of our own, but according to the purpose of the
divine pleasure." In affirming this, Calvin was resting on the
belief that God has from all eternity decreed whatever comes to
pass. Thus, after the lapse of many ages, were again emerging
into prominence the ideas of the Basilidians wad Valentinians,
Christian sects of the second century, whose Gnostical views led
to the engraftment of the great doctrine of the Trinity upon
Christianity. They asserted that all the actions of men are
necessary, that even faith is a natural gift, to which men are
forcibly determined, and must therefore be saved, though their
lives be ever so irregular. From the Supreme God all things
proceeded. Thus, also, came into prominence the views which were
developed by Augustine in his work, "De dono perseverantiae."
These were: that God, by his arbitrary will, has selected certain
persons without respect to foreseen faith or good works, and has
infallibly ordained to bestow upon them eternal happiness; other
persons, in like manner, he has condemned to eternal reprobation.
The Sublapsarians believed that "God permitted the fall of Adam;"
the Supralapsarians that "he predestinated it, with all its
pernicious consequences, from all eternity, and that our first
parents had no liberty from the beginning." In this, these
sectarians disregarded the remark of St. Augustine: "Nefas est
dicere Deum aliquid nisi bonum predestinare."

Is it true, then, that "predestination to eternal happiness is
the everlasting purpose of God, whereby, before the foundations
of the world were laid, he hath constantly decreed by his
council, secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those
whom he hath chosen out of mankind?" Is it true that of the human
family there are some who, in view of no fault of their own,
Almighty God has condemned to unending torture, eternal misery?

In 1595 the Lambeth Articles asserted that "God from eternity
hath predestinated certain men unto life; certain he hath
reprobated." In 1618 the Synod of Dort decided in favor of this
view. It condemned the remonstrants against it, and treated them
with such severity, that many of them had to flee to foreign
countries. Even in the Church of England, as is manifested by its
seventeenth Article of Faith, these doctrines have found favor.

Probably there was no point which brought down from the Catholics
on the Protestants severer condemnation than this, their partial
acceptance of the government of the world by law. In all Reformed
Europe miracles ceased. But, with the cessation of shrine-cure,
relic-cure, great pecuniary profits ended. Indeed, as is well
known, it was the sale of indulgences that provoked the
Reformation--indulgences which are essentially a permit from God
for the practice of sin, conditioned on the payment of a certain
sum of money to the priest.

Philosophically, the Reformation implied a protest against the
Catholic doctrine of incessant divine intervention in human
affairs, invoked by sacerdotal agency; but this protest was far
from being fully made by all the Reforming Churches. The evidence
in behalf of government by law, which has of late years been
offered by science, is received by many of them with suspicion,
perhaps with dislike; sentiments which, however, must eventually
give way before the hourly-increasing weight of evidence.

Shall we not, then, conclude with Cicero, who, quoted by
Lactantius, says: "One eternal and immutable law embraces all
things and all times?"



For more than a thousand years Latin Christianity controlled the
intelligence of Europe, and is responsible for the result.

That result is manifested by the condition of the city of Rome at
the Reformation, and by the condition of the Continent of Europe
in domestic and social life.--European nations suffered under the
coexistence of a dual government, a spiritual and a
temporal.--They were immersed in ignorance, superstition,
discomfort.--Explanation of the failure of Catholicism--Political
history of the papacy: it was transmuted from a spiritual
confederacy into an absolute monarchy.--Action of the College of
Cardinals and the Curia-Demoralization that ensued from the
necessity of raising large revenues.

The advantages accruing to Europe during the Catholic rule arose
not from direct intention, but were incidental.

The general result is, that the political influence of
Catholicism was prejudicial to modern civilization.

LATIN Christianity is responsible for the condition and progress
of Europe from the fourth to the sixteenth century. We have now
to examine how it discharged its trust.

It will be convenient to limit to the case of Europe what has
here to be presented, though, from the claim of the papacy to
superhuman origin, and its demand for universal obedience, it
should strictly be held to account for the condition of all
mankind. Its inefficacy against the great and venerable religions
of Southern and Eastern Asia would furnish an important and
instructive theme for consideration, and lead us to the
conclusion that it has impressed itself only where Roman imperial
influences have prevailed; a political conclusion which, however,
it contemptuously rejects.

Doubtless at the inception of the Reformation there were many
persons who compared the existing social condition with what it
had been in ancient times. Morals had not changed, intelligence
had not advanced, society had little improved. From the Eternal
City itself its splendors had vanished. The marble streets, of
which Augustus had once boasted, had disappeared. Temples, broken
columns, and the long, arcaded vistas of gigantic aqueducts
bestriding the desolate Campagna, presented a mournful scene.
From the uses to which they had been respectively put, the
Capitol had been known as Goats' Hill, and the site of the Roman
Forum, whence laws had been issued to the world, as Cows' Field.
The palace of the Caesars was hidden by mounds of earth, crested
with flowering shrubs. The baths of Caracalla, with their
porticoes, gardens, reservoirs, had long ago become useless
through the destruction of their supplying aqueducts. On the
ruins of that grand edifice, "flowery glades and thickets of
odoriferous trees extended in ever-winding labyrinths upon
immense platforms, and dizzy arches suspended in the air." Of the
Coliseum, the most colossal of Roman ruins, only about one-third
remained. Once capable of accommodating nearly ninety thousand
spectators, it had, in succession, been turned into a fortress in
the middle ages, and then into a stone-quarry to furnish material
for the palaces of degenerate Roman princes. Some of the popes
had occupied it as a woollen-mill, some as a saltpetre factory;
some had planned the conversion of its magnificent arcades into
shops for tradesmen. The iron clamps which bound its stones
together had been stolen. The walls were fissured and falling.
Even in our own times botanical works have been composed on the
plants which have made this noble wreck their home. "The Flora of
the Coliseum" contains four hundred and twenty species. Among the
ruins of classical buildings might be seen broken columns,
cypresses, and mouldy frescoes, dropping from the walls. Even the
vegetable world participated in the melancholy change: the
myrtle, which once flourished on the Aventine, had nearly become
extinct; the laurel, which once gave its leaves to encircle the
brows of emperors, had been replaced by ivy--the companion of

But perhaps it may be said the popes were not responsible for all
this. Let it be remembered that in less than one hundred and
forty years the city had been successively taken by Alaric,
Genseric, Rieimer, Vitiges, Totila ; that many of its great
edifices had been converted into defensive works. The aqueducts
were destroyed by Vitiges, who ruined the Campagna; the palace of
the Caesars was ravaged by Totila; then there had been the
Lombard sieges; then Robert Guiscard and his Normans had burnt
the city from the Antonine Column to the Flaminian Gate, from the
Lateran to the Capitol; then it was sacked and mutilated by the
Constable Bourbon; again and again it was flooded by inundations
of the Tiber and shattered by earthquakes. We must, however, bear
in mind the accusation of Machiavelli, who says, in his "History
of Florence," that nearly all the barbarian invasions of Italy
were by the invitations of the pontiffs, who called in those
hordes! It was not the Goth, nor the Vandal, nor the Norman, nor
the Saracen, but the popes and their nephews, who produced the
dilapidation of Rome! Lime-kilns had been fed from the ruins,
classical buildings had become stone-quarries for the palaces of
Italian princes, and churches were decorated from the old

Churches decorated from the temples! It is for this and such as
this that the popes must be held responsible. Superb Corinthian
columns bad been chiseled into images of the saints. Magnificent
Egyptian obelisks had been dishonored by papal inscriptions. The
Septizonium of Severus had been demolished to furnish materials
for the building of St. Peter's; the bronze roof of the Pantheon
had been melted into columns to ornament the apostle's tomb.

The great bell of Viterbo, in the tower of the Capitol, had
announced the death of many a pope, and still desecration of the
buildings and demoralization of the people went on. Papal Rome
manifested no consideration, but rather hatred, for classical
Rome, The pontiffs had been subordinates of the Byzantine
sovereigns, then lieutenants of the Frankish kings, then arbiters
of Europe; their government had changed as much as those of any
of the surrounding nations; there had been complete metamorphoses
in its maxims, objects, claims. In one point only it had never
changed--intolerance. Claiming to be the centre of the religious
life of Europe, it steadfastly refused to recognize any religious
existence outside of itself, yet both in a political and
theological sense it was rotten to the core. Erasmus and Luther
heard with amazement the blasphemies and witnessed with a shudder
the atheism of the city.

The historian Ranke, to whom I am indebted for many of these
facts, has depicted in a very graphic manner the demoralization
of the great metropolis. The popes were, for the most part, at
their election, aged men. Power was, therefore, incessantly
passing into new hands. Every election was a revolution in
prospects and expectations. In a community where all might rise,
where all might aspire to all, it necessarily followed that every
man was occupied in thrusting some other into the background.
Though the population of the city at the inception of the
Reformation had sunk to eighty thousand, there were vast crowds
of placemen, and still greater ones of aspirants for place. The
successful occupant of the pontificate had thousands of offices
to give away--offices from many of which the incumbents had been
remorselessly ejected; many had been created for the purpose of
sale. The integrity and capacity of an applicant were never
inquired into; the points considered were, what services has he
rendered or can he render to the party? how much can he pay for
the preferment? An American reader can thoroughly realize this
state of things. At every presidential election he witnesses
similar acts. The election of a pope by the Conclave is not
unlike the nomination of an American president by a convention.
In both cases there are many offices to give away.

William of Malmesbury says that in his day the Romans made a sale
of whatever was righteous and sacred for gold. After his time
there was no improvement; the Church degenerated into an
instrument for the exploitation of money. Vast sums were
collected in Italy; vast sums were drawn under all manner of
pretenses from surrounding and reluctant countries. Of these the
most nefarious was the sale of indulgences for the perpetration
of sin. Italian religion had become the art of plundering the

For more than a thousand years the sovereign pontiffs had been
rulers of the city. True, it had witnessed many scenes of
devastation for which they were not responsible; but they were
responsible for this, that they had never made any vigorous, any
persistent effort for its material, its moral improvement.
Instead of being in these respects an exemplar for the imitation
of the world, it became an exemplar of a condition that ought to
be shunned. Things steadily went on from bad to worse, until at
the epoch of the Reformation no pious stranger could visit it
without being shocked.

The papacy, repudiating science as absolutely incompatible with
its pretensions, had in later years addressed itself to the
encouragement of art. But music and painting, though they may be
exquisite adornments of life, contain no living force that can
develop a weak nation into a strong one; nothing that can
permanently assure the material well-being or happiness of
communities; and hence at the time of the Reformation, to one who
thoughtfully considered her condition, Rome had lost all living
energy. She was no longer the arbiter of the physical or the
religious progress of the world. For the progressive maxims of
the republic and the empire, she had substituted the stationary
maxims of the papacy. She had the appearance of piety and the
possession of art. In this she resembled one of those
friar-corpses which we still see in their brown cowls in the
vaults of the Cappuccini, with a breviary or some withered
flowers in its hands.

From this view of the Eternal City, this survey of what Latin
Christianity had done for Rome itself, let us turn to the whole
European Continent. Let us try to determine the true value of the
system that was guiding society; let us judge it by its fruits.

The condition of nations as to their well-being is most precisely
represented by the variations of their population. Forms of
government have very little influence on population, but policy
may control it completely.

It has been very satisfactorily shown by authors who have given
attention to the subject, that the variations of population
depend upon the interbalancing of the generative force of society
and the resistances to life.

By the generative force of society is meant that instinct which
manifests itself in the multiplication of the race. To some
extent it depends on climate; but, since the climate of Europe
did not sensibly change between the fourth and the sixteenth
centuries, we may regard this force as having been, on that
continent, during the period under consideration, invariable.

By the resistances to life is meant whatever tends to make
individual existence more difficult of support. Among such may be
enumerated insufficient food, inadequate clothing, imperfect

It is also known that, if the resistances become inappreciable,
the generative force will double a population in twenty-five

The resistances operate in two modes: 1. Physically; since they
diminish the number of births, and shorten the term of the life
of all. 2. Intellectually; since, in a moral, and particularly in
a religious community, they postpone marriage, by causing
individuals to decline its responsibilities until they feel that
they are competent to meet the charges and cares of a family.
Hence the explanation of a long-recognized fact, that the number
of marriages during a given period has a connection with the
price of food.

The increase of population keeps pace with the increase of food;
and, indeed, such being the power of the generative force, it
overpasses the means of subsistence, establishing a constant
pressure upon them. Under these circumstances, it necessarily
happens that a certain amount of destitution must occur.
Individuals have come into existence who must be starved.

As illustrations of the variations that have occurred in the
population of different countries, may be mentioned the immense
diminution of that of Italy in consequence of the wars of
Justinian; the depopulation of North Africa in consequence of
theological quarrels; its restoration through the establishment
of Mohammedanism; the increase of that of all Europe through the
feudal system, when estates became more valuable in proportion to
the number of retainers they could supply. The crusades caused a
sensible diminution, not only through the enormous army losses,
but also by reason of the withdrawal of so many able-bodied men
from marriage-life. Similar variations have occurred on the
American Continent. The population of Mexico was very quickly
diminished by two million through the rapacity and atrocious
cruelty of the Spaniards, who drove the civilized Indians to
despair. The same happened in Peru.

The population of England at the Norman conquest was about two
million. In five hundred years it had scarcely doubled. It may be
supposed that this stationary condition was to some extent
induced by the papal policy of the enforcement of celibacy in the
clergy. The "legal generative force" was doubtless affected by
that policy, the "actual generative force" was not. For those who
have made this subject their study have long ago been satisfied
that public celibacy is private wickedness. This mainly
determined the laity, as well as the government in England, to
suppress the monasteries. It was openly asserted that there were
one hundred thousand women in England made dissolute by the

In my history of the "American Civil War," I have presented some
reflections on this point, which I will take the liberty of
quoting here: "What, then, does this stationary condition of the
population mean? It means, food obtained with hardship,
insufficient clothing, personal uncleanness, cabins that could
not keep out the weather, the destructive effects of cold and
heat, miasm, want of sanitary provisions, absence of physicians,
uselessness of shrine-cure, the deceptiveness of miracles, in
which society was putting its trust; or, to sum up a long
catalogue of sorrows, wants, and sufferings, in one term--it
means a high death-rate.

"But more; it means deficient births. And what does that point
out? Marriage postponed, licentious life, private wickedness,
demoralized society.

"To an American, who lives in a country that was yesterday an
interminable and impenetrable desert, but which to-day is filling
with a population doubling itself every twenty-five years at the
prescribed rate, this awful waste of actual and contingent life
cannot but be a most surprising fact. His curiosity will lead him
to inquire what kind of system that could have been which was
pretending to guide and develop society, but which must be held
responsible for this prodigious destruction, excelling, in its
insidious result, war, pestilence, and famine combined;
insidious, for men were actually believing that it secured their
highest temporal interests. How different now! In England, the,
same geographical surface is sustaining ten times the population
of that day, and sending forth its emigrating swarms. Let him,
who looks back, with veneration on the past, settle in his own
mind what such a system could have been worth."

These variations in the population of Europe have been attended
with changes in distribution. The centre of population has passed
northward since the establishment of Christianity in the Roman
Empire. It has since passed westward, in consequence of the
development of manufacturing industry.

We may now examine somewhat more minutely the character of the
resistances which thus, for a thousand years, kept the population
of Europe stationary. The surface of the Continent was for the
most part covered with pathless forests; here and there it was
dotted with monasteries and towns. In the lowlands and along the
river-courses were fens, sometimes hundreds of miles in extent,
exhaling their pestiferous miasms, and spreading agues far and
wide. In Paris and London, the houses were of wood daubed with
clay, and thatched with straw or reeds. They had no windows, and,
until the invention of the saw-mill, very few had wooden floors.
The luxury of a carpet was unknown; some straw, scattered in the
room, supplied its place. There were no chimneys; the smoke of
the ill-fed, cheerless fire escaped through a hole in the roof.
In such habitations there was scarcely any protection from the
weather. No attempt was made at drainage, but the putrefying
garbage and rubbish were simply thrown out of the door. Men,
women, and children, slept in the same apartment; not
unfrequently, domestic animals were their companions; in such a
confusion of the family, it was impossible that modesty or
morality could be maintained. The bed was usually a bag of straw,
a wooden log served as a pillow. Personal cleanliness was utterly
unknown; great officers of state, even dignitaries so high as the
Archbishop of Canterbury, swarmed with vermin; such, it is
related, was the condition of Thomas a Becket, the antagonist of
an English king. To conceal personal impurity, perfumes were
necessarily and profusely used. The citizen clothed himself in
leather, a garment which, with its ever-accumulating impurity,
might last for many years. He was considered to be in
circumstances of ease, if he could procure fresh meat once a week
for his dinner. The streets had no sewers; they were without
pavement or lamps. After nightfall, the chamber-shatters were
thrown open, and slops unceremoniously emptied down, to the
discomfiture of the wayfarer tracking his path through the narrow
streets, with his dismal lantern in his hand.

Aeneas Sylvius, who afterward became Pope Pius II., and was
therefore a very competent and impartial writer, has left us a
graphic account of a journey he made to the British Islands,
about 1430. He describes the houses of the peasantry as
constructed of stones put together without mortar; the roofs were
of turf, a stiffened bull's-hide served for a door. The food
consisted of coarse vegetable products, such as peas, and even
the bark of trees. In some places they were unacquainted with

Cabins of reeds plastered with mud, houses of wattled stakes,
chimneyless peat-fires from which there was scarcely an escape
for the smoke, dens of physical and moral pollution swarming with
vermin, wisps of straw twisted round the limbs to keep off the
cold, the ague-stricken peasant, with no help except shrine-cure!
How was it possible that the population could increase? Shall we,
then, wonder that, in the famine of 1030, human flesh was cooked
and sold; or that, in that of 1258, fifteen thousand persons died
of hunger in London? Shall we wonder that, in some of the
invasions of the plague, the deaths were so frightfully numerous
that the living could hardly bury the dead? By that of 1348,
which came from the East along the lines of commercial travel,
and spread all over Europe, one-third of the population of France
was destroyed.

Such was the condition of the peasantry, and of the common
inhabitants of cities. Not much better was that of the nobles.
William of Malmesbury, speaking of the degraded manners of the
Anglo-Saxons, says: "Their nobles, devoted to gluttony and
voluptuousness, never visited the church, but the matins and the
mass were read over to them by a hurrying priest in their
bedchambers, before they rose, themselves not listening. The
common people were a prey to the more powerful; their property
was seized, their bodies dragged away to distant countries; their
maidens were either thrown into a brothel, or sold for slaves.
Drinking day and night was the general pursuit; vices, the
companions of inebriety, followed, effeminating the manly mind."
The baronial castles were dens of robbers. The Saxon chronicler
records how men and women were caught and dragged into those
strongholds, hung up by their thumbs or feet, fire applied to
them, knotted strings twisted round their heads, and many other
torments inflicted to extort ransom.

All over Europe, the great and profitable political offices were
filled by ecclesiastics. In every country there was a dual
government: 1. That of a local kind, represented by a temporal
sovereign; 2. That of a foreign kind, acknowledging the authority
of the pope, This Roman influence was, in the nature of things,
superior to the local; it expressed the sovereign will of one man
over all the nations of the continent conjointly, and gathered
overwhelming power from its compactness and unity. The local
influence was necessarily of a feeble nature, since it was
commonly weakened by the rivalries of conterminous states, and
the dissensions dexterously provoked by its competitor. On not a
single occasion could the various European states form a
coalition against their common antagonist. Whenever a question
arose, they were skillfully taken in detail, and commonly
mastered. The ostensible object of papal intrusion was to secure
for the different peoples moral well-being; the real object was
to obtain large revenues, and give support to vast bodies of
ecclesiastics. The revenues thus abstracted were not infrequently
many times greater than those passing into the treasury of the
local power. Thus, on the occasion of Innocent IV. demanding
provision to be made for three hundred additional Italian clergy
by the Church of England, and that one of his nephews--a mere
boy-- should have a stall in Lincoln Cathedral, it was found that
the sum already annually abstracted by foreign ecclesiastics from
England was thrice that which went into the coffers of the king.

While thus the higher clergy secured every political appointment
worth having, and abbots vied with counts in the herds of slaves
they possessed--some, it is said, owned not fewer than twenty
thousand--begging friars pervaded society in all directions,
picking up a share of what still remained to the poor. There was
a vast body of non-producers, living in idleness and owning a
foreign allegiance, who were subsisting on the fruits of the toil
of the laborers. It could not be otherwise than that small farms
should be unceasingly merged into the larger estates; that the
poor should steadily become poorer; that society, far from
improving, should exhibit a continually increasing
demoralization. Outside the monastic institutions no attempt at
intellectual advancement was made; indeed, so far as the laity
were concerned, the influence of the Church was directed to an
opposite result, for the maxim universally received was, that
"ignorance is the mother of devotion."

The settled practice of republican and imperial Rome was to have
swift communication with all her outlying provinces, by means of
substantial bridges and roads. One of the prime duties of the
legions was to construct them and keep them in repair. By this,
her military authority was assured. But the dominion of papal
Rome, depending upon a different principle, had no exigencies of
that kind, and this duty accordingly was left for the local
powers to neglect. And so, in all directions, the roads were
almost impassable for a large part of the year. A common means of
transportation was in clumsy carts drawn by oxen, going at the
most but three or four miles an hour. Where boat-conveyance along
rivers could not be had, pack-horses and mules were resorted to
for the transportation of merchandise, an adequate means for the
slender commerce of the times. When large bodies of men had to be
moved, the difficulties became almost insuperable. Of this,
perhaps, one of the best illustrations may be found in the story
of the march of the first Crusaders. These restraints upon
intercommunication tended powerfully to promote the general
benighted condition. Journeys by individuals could not be
undertaken without much risk, for there was scarcely a moor or a
forest that had not its highwaymen.

An illiterate condition everywhere prevailing, gave opportunity
for the development of superstition. Europe was full of
disgraceful miracles. On all the roads pilgrims were wending
their way to the shrines of saints, renowned for the cures they
had wrought. It had always been the policy of the Church to
discourage the physician and his art; he interfered too much with
the gifts and profits of the shrines. Time has brought this once
lucrative imposture to its proper value. How many shrines are
there now in successful operation in Europe?

For patients too sick to move or be moved, there were no remedies
except those of a ghostly kind--the Pater-noster or the Ave. For
the prevention of diseases, prayers were put up in the churches,
but no sanitary measures were resorted to. From cities reeking
with putrefying filth it was thought that the plague might be
stayed by the prayers of the priests, by them rain and dry
weather might be secured, and deliverance obtained from the
baleful influences of eclipses and comets. But when Halley's
comet came, in 1456, so tremendous was its apparition that it was
necessary for the pope himself to interfere. He exorcised and
expelled it from the skies. It slunk away into the abysses of
space, terror-stricken by the maledictions of Calixtus III., and
did not venture back for seventy-five years!

The physical value of shrine-cures and ghostly remedies is
measured by the death-rate. In those days it was, probably, about
one in twenty-three, under the present more material practice it
is about one in forty.

The moral condition of Europe was signally illustrated when
syphilis was introduced from the West Indies by the companions of
Columbus. It spread with wonderful rapidity; all ranks of
persons, from the Holy Father Leo X. to the beggar by the
wayside, contracting the shameful disease. Many excused their
misfortune by declaring that it was an epidemic proceeding from a
certain malignity in the constitution of the air, but in truth
its spread was due to a certain infirmity in the constitution of
man--an infirmity which had not been removed by the spiritual
guidance under which he had been living.

To the medical efficacy of shrines must be added that of special
relics. These were sometimes of the most extraordinary kind.
There were several abbeys that possessed our Savior's crown of
thorns. Eleven had the lance that had pierced his side. If any
person was adventurous enough to suggest that these could not all
be authentic, he would have been denounced as an atheist. During
the holy wars the Templar-Knights had driven a profitable
commerce by bringing from Jerusalem to the Crusading armies
bottles of the milk of the Blessed Virgin, which they sold for
enormous sums; these bottles were preserved with pious care in
many of the great religious establishments. But perhaps none of
these impostures surpassed in audacity that offered by a
monastery in Jerusalem, which presented to the beholder one of
the fingers of the Holy Ghost! Modern society has silently
rendered its verdict on these scandalous objects. Though they
once nourished the piety of thousands of earnest people, they are
now considered too vile to have a place in any public museum.

How shall we account for the great failure we thus detect in the
guardianship of the Church over Europe? This is not the result
that must have occurred had there been in Rome an unremitting
care for the spiritual and material prosperity of the continent,
had the universal pastor, the successor of Peter, occupied
himself with singleness of purpose for the holiness and happiness
of his flock.

The explanation is not difficult to find. It is contained in a
story of sin and shame. I prefer, therefore, in the following
paragraphs, to offer explanatory facts derived from Catholic
authors, and, indeed, to present them as nearly as I can in the
words of those writers.

The story I am about to relate is a narrative of the
transformation of a confederacy into an absolute monarchy.

In the early times every church, without prejudice to its
agreement with the Church universal in all essential points,
managed its own affairs with perfect freedom and independence,
maintaining its own traditional usages and discipline, all
questions not concerning the whole Church, or of primary
importance, being settled on the spot.

Until the beginning of the ninth century, there was no change in
the constitution of the Roman Church. But about 845 the Isidorian
Decretals were fabricated in the west of Gaul--a forgery
containing about one hundred pretended decrees of the early
popes, together with certain spurious writings of other church
dignitaries and acts of synods. This forgery produced an immense
extension of the papal power, it displaced the old system of
church government, divesting it of the republican attributes it
had possessed, and transforming it into an absolute monarchy. It
brought the bishops into subjection to Rome, and made the pontiff
the supreme judge of the clergy of the whole Christian world. It
prepared the way for the great attempt, subsequently made by
Hildebrand, to convert the states of Europe into a theocratic
priest-kingdom, with the pope at its head.

Gregory VII., the author of this great attempt, saw that his
plans would be best carried out through the agency of synods. He,
therefore, restricted the right of holding them to the popes and
their legates. To aid in the matter, a new system of church law
was devised by Anselm of Lucca, partly from the old Isidorian
forgeries, and partly from new inventions. To establish the
supremacy of Rome, not only had a new civil and a new canon law
to be produced, a new history had also to be invented. This
furnished needful instances of the deposition and excommunication
of kings, and proved that they had always been subordinate to the
popes. The decretal letters of the popes were put on a par with
Scripture. At length it came to be received, throughout the West,
that the popes had been, from the beginning of Christianity,
legislators for the whole Church. As absolute sovereigns in later
times cannot endure representative assemblies, so the papacy,
when it wished to become absolute, found that the synods of
particular national churches must be put an end to, and those
only under the immediate control of the pontiff permitted. This,
in itself, constituted a great revolution.

Another fiction concocted in Rome in the eighth century led to
important consequences. It feigned that the Emperor Constantine,
in gratitude for his cure from leprosy, and baptism by Pope
Sylvester, had bestowed Italy and the Western provinces on the
pope, and that, in token of his subordination, he had served the
pope as his groom, and led his horse some distance. This forgery
was intended to work on the Frankish kings, to impress them with
a correct idea of their inferiority, and to show that, in the
territorial concessions they made to the Church, they were not
giving but only restoring what rightfully belonged to it.

The most potent instrument of the new papal system was Gratian's
Decretum, which was issued about the middle of the twelfth
century. It was a mass of fabrications. It made the whole
Christian world, through the papacy, the domain of the Italian
clergy. It inculcated that it is lawful to constrain men to
goodness, to torture and execute heretics, and to confiscate
their property; that to kill an excommunicated person is not
murder; that the pope, in his unlimited superiority to all law,
stands on an equality with the Son of God!

As the new system of centralization developed, maxims, that in
the olden times would have been held to be shocking, were boldly
avowed--the whole Church is the property of the pope to do with
as he will; what is simony in others is not simony in him; he is
above all law, and can be called to account by none; whoever
disobeys him must be put to death; every baptized man is his
subject, and must for life remain so, whether he will or not. Up
to the end of the twelfth century, the popes were the vicars of
Peter; after Innocent III. they were the vicars of Christ.

But an absolute sovereign has need of revenues, and to this the
popes were no exception. The institution of legates was brought
in from Hildebrand's time. Sometimes their duty was to visit
churches, sometimes they were sent on special business, but
always invested with unlimited powers to bring back money over
the Alps. And since the pope could not only make laws, but could
suspend their operation, a legislation was introduced in view to
the purchase of dispensations. Monasteries were exempted from
episcopal jurisdiction on payment of a tribute to Rome. The pope
had now become "the universal bishop;" he had a concurrent
jurisdiction in all the dioceses, and could bring any cases
before his own courts. His relation to the bishops was that of an
absolute sovereign to his officials. A bishop could resign only
by his permission, and sees vacated by resignation lapsed to him.
Appeals to him were encouraged in every way for the sake of the
dispensations; thousands of processes came before the Curia,
bringing a rich harvest to Rome. Often when there were disputing
claimants to benefices, the pope would oust them all, and appoint
a creature of his own. Often the candidates had to waste years in
Rome, and either died there, or carried back a vivid impression
of the dominant corruption. Germany suffered more than other
countries from these appeals and processes, and hence of all
countries was best prepared for the Reformation. During the
thirteenth and fourteenth centuries the popes made gigantic
strides in the acquisition of power. Instead of recommending
their favorites for benefices, now they issued mandates. Their
Italian partisans must be rewarded; nothing could be done to
satisfy their clamors,. but to provide for them in foreign
countries. Shoals of contesting claimants died in Rome; and, when
death took place in that city, the Pope claimed the right of
giving away the benefices. At length it was affirmed that he had
the right of disposing of all church-offices without distinction,
and that the oath of obedience of a bishop to him implied
political as well as ecclesiastical subjection. In countries
having a dual government this increased the power of the
spiritual element prodigiously.

Rights of every kind were remorselessly overthrown to complete
this centralization. In this the mendicant orders were most
efficient aids. It was the pope and those orders on one side, the
bishops and the parochial clergy on the other. The Roman court
had seized the rights of synods, metropolitans, bishops, national
churches. Incessantly interfered with by the legates, the bishops
lost all desire to discipline their dioceses; incessantly
interfered with by the begging monks, tho parish priest had
become powerless in his own village; his pastoral influence was
utterly destroyed by the papal indulgences and absolutions they
sold. The money was carried off to Rome.

Pecuniary necessities urged many of the popes to resort to such
petty expedients as to require from a prince, a bishop, or a
grand-master, who bad a cause pending in the court, a present of
a golden cup filled with ducats. Such necessities also gave
origin to jubilees. Sixtus IV. established whole colleges, and
sold the places at three or four hundred ducats. Innocent VIII.
pawned the papal tiara. Of Leo X. it was said that he squandered
the revenues of three popes, he wasted the savings of his
predecessor, he spent his own income, he anticipated that of his
successor, he created twenty-one hundred and fifty new offices
and sold them; they were considered to be a good investment, as
they produced twelve per cent. The interest was extorted from
Catholic countries. Nowhere in Europe could capital be so well
invested as at Rome. Large sums were raised by the foreclosing of
mortgages, and not only by the sale but the resale of offices.
Men were promoted, for the purpose of selling their offices

Though against the papal theory, which denounced usurious
practices, an immense papal banking system had sprung up, in
connection with the Curia, and sums at usurious interest were
advanced to prelates, place. hunters, and litigants. The papal
bankers were privileged; all others were under the ban. The Curia
had discovered that it was for their interest to have
ecelesiastics all over Europe in their debt. They could make them
pliant, and excommunicate them for non-payment of interest. In
1327 it was reckoned that half the Christian world was under
excommunication: bishops were excommunicated because they could
not meet the extortions of legates; and persons were
excommunicated, under various pretenses, to compel them to
purchase absolution at an exorbitant price. The ecclesiastical
revenues of all Europe were flowing into Rome, a sink of
corruption, simony, usury, bribery, extortion. The popes, since
1066, when the great centralizing movement began, had no time to
pay attention to the internal affairs of their own special flock
in the city of Rome. There were thousands of foreign cases, each
bringing in money. "Whenever," says the Bishop Alvaro Pelayo, "I
entered the apartments of the Roman court clergy, I found them
occupied in counting up the gold-coin, which lay about the rooms
in heaps." Every opportunity of extending the jurisdiction of the
Curia was welcome. Exemptions were so managed that fresh grants
were constantly necessary. Bishops were privileged against
cathedral chapters, chapters against their bishops; bishops,
convents, and individuals, against the extortions of legates.

The two pillars on which the papal system now rested were the
College of Cardinals and the Curia. The cardinals, in 1059, had
become electors of the popes. Up to that time elections were made
by the whole body of the Roman clergy, and the concurrence of the
magistrates and citizens was necessary. But Nicolas II.
restricted elections to the College of Cardinals by a two- thirds
vote, and gave to the German emperor the right of confirmation.
For almost two centuries there was a struggle for mastery between
the cardinal oligarchy and papal absolutism. The cardinals were
willing enough that the pope should be absolute in his foreign
rule, but the never failed to attempt, before giving him their
votes, to bind him to accord to them a recognized share in the
government. After his election, and before his consecration, he
swore to observe certain capitulations, such as a participation
of revenues between himself and the cardinals; an obligation that
lie would not remove them, but would permit them to assemble
twice a year to discuss whether he had kept his oath. Repeatedly
the popes broke their oath. On one side, the cardinals wanted a
larger share in the church government and emoluments; on the
other, the popes refused to surrender revenues or power. The
cardinals wanted to be conspicuous in pomp and extravagance, and
for this vast sums were requisite. In one instance, not fewer
than five hundred benefices were held by one of them; their
friends and retainers must be supplied, their families enriched.
It was affirmed that the whole revenues of France were
insufficient to meet their expenditures. In their rivalries it
sometimes happened that no pope was elected for several years. It
seemed as if they wanted to show how easily the Church could get
on without the Vicar of Christ.

Toward the close of the eleventh century the Roman Church became
the Roman court. In place of the Christian sheep gently following
their shepherd in the holy precincts of the city, there had
arisen a chancery of writers, notaries, tax-gatherers, where
transactions about privileges, dispensations, exemptions, were
carried on; and suitors went with petitions from door to door.
Rome was a rallying-point for place-hunters of every nation. In
presence of the enormous mass of business-processes, graces,
indulgences, absolutions, commands, and decisions, addressed to
all parts of Europe and Asia, the functions of the local church
sank into insignificance. Several hundred persons, whose home was
the Curia, were required. Their aim was to rise in it by
enlarging the profits of the papal treasury. The whole Christian
world had become tributary to it. Here every vestige of religion
had disappeared; its members were busy with politics,
litigations, and processes; not a word could be heard about
spiritual concerns. Every stroke of the pen had its price.
Benefices, dispensations, licenses, absolutions, indulgences,
privileges, were bought and sold like merchandise. The suitor had
to bribe every one, from the doorkeeper to the pope, or his case
was lost. Poor men could neither attain preferment, nor hope for
it; and the result was, that every cleric felt he had a right to
follow the example he had seen at Rome, and that he might make
profits out of his spiritual ministries and sacraments, having
bought the right to do so at Rome, and having no other way to pay
off his debt. The transference of power from Italians to
Frenchmen, through the removal of the Curia to Avignon, produced
no change--only the Italians felt that the enrichment of Italian
families had slipped out of their grasp. They had learned to
consider the papacy as their appanage, and that they, under the
Christian dispensation, were God's chosen people, as the Jews had
been under the Mosaic.

At the end of the thirteenth century a new kingdom was
discovered, capable of yielding immense revenues. This was
Purgatory. It was shown that the pope could empty it by his
indulgences. In this there was no need of hypocrisy. Things were
done openly. The original germ of the apostolic primacy had now
expanded into a colossal monarchy.

NEED OF A GENERAL COUNCIL. The Inquisition had made the papal
system irresistible. All opposition must be punished with death
by fire. A mere thought, without having betrayed itself by
outward sign, was considered as guilt. As time went on, this
practice of the Inquisition became more and more atrocious.
Torture was resorted to on mere suspicion. The accused was not
allowed to know the name of his accuser. He was not permitted to
have any legal adviser. There was no appeal. The Inquisition was
ordered not to lean to pity. No recantation was of avail. The
innocent family of the accused was deprived of its property by
confiscation; half went to the papal treasury, half to the
inquisitors. Life only, said Innocent III., was to be left to the
sons of misbelievers, and that merely as an act of mercy. The
consequence was, that popes, such as Nicolas III., enriched their
families through plunder acquired by this tribunal. Inquisitors
did the same habitually.

The struggle between the French and Italians for the possession
of the papacy inevitably led to the schism of the fourteenth
century. For more than forty years two rival popes were now
anathematizing each other, two rival Curias were squeezing the
nations for money. Eventually, there were three obediences, and
triple revenues to be extorted. Nobody, now, could guarantee the
validity of the sacraments, for nobody could be sure which was
the true pope. Men were thus compelled to think for themselves.
They could not find who was the legitimate thinker for them. They
began to see that the Church must rid herself of the curialistic
chains, and resort to a General Council. That attempt was again
and again made, the intention being to raise the Council into a
Parliament of Christendom, and make the pope its chief executive
officer. But the vast interests that had grown out of the
corruption of ages could not so easily be overcome; the Curia
again recovered its ascendency, and ecclesiastical trading was
resumed. The Germans, who had never been permitted to share in
the Curia, took the leading part in these attempts at reform. As
things went on from bad to worse, even they at last found out
that all hope of reforming the Church by means of councils was
delusive. Erasmus exclaimed, "If Christ does not deliver his
people from this multiform ecclesiastical tyranny, the tyranny of
the Turk will become less intolerable." Cardinals' hats were now
sold, and under Leo X. ecclesiastical and religious offices were
actually put up to auction. The maxim of life had become,
interest first, honor afterward. Among the officials, there was
not one who could be honest in the dark, and virtuous without a
witness. The violet-colored velvet cloaks and white ermine capes
of the cardinals were truly a cover for wickedness.

The unity of the Church, and therefore its power, required the
use of Latin as a sacred language. Through this, Rome had stood
in an attitude strictly European, and was enabled to maintain a
general international relation. It gave her far more power than
her asserted celestial authority, and, much as she claims to have
done, she is open to condemnation that, with such a signal
advantage in her hands, never again to be enjoyed by any
successor, she did not accomplish much more. Had not the
sovereign pontiffs been so completely occupied with maintaining
their emoluments and temporalities in Italy, they might have made
the whole continent advance like one man. Their officials could
pass without difficulty into every nation, and communicate
without embarrassment with each other, from Ireland to Bohemia,
from Italy to Scotland. The possession of a common tongue gave
them the administration of international affairs with intelligent
allies everywhere, speaking the same language.

Not without cause was the hatred manifested by Rome to the
restoration of Greek and introduction of Hebrew, and the alarm
with which she perceived the modern languages forming out of the
vulgar dialects. Not without reason did the Faculty of Theology
in Paris re-echo the sentiment that, was prevalent in the time of
Ximenes, "What will become of religion if the study of Greek and
Hebrew be permitted?" The prevalence of Latin was the condition
of her power; its deterioration, the measure of her decay; its
disuse, the signal of her limitation to a little principality in
Italy. In fact, the development of European languages was the
instrument of her overthrow. They formed an effectual
communication between the mendicant friars and the illiterate
populace, and there was not one of them that did not display in
its earliest productions a sovereign contempt for her.

The rise of the many-tongued European literature was therefore
coincident with the decline of papal Christianity; European
literature was impossible under Catholic rule. A grand, a solemn,
an imposing religious unity enforced the literary unity which is
implied in the use of a single tongue.

While thus the possession of a universal language so signally
secured her power, the real secret of much of the influence of
the Church lay in the control she had so skillfully obtained over
domestic life. Her influence diminished as that declined.
Coincident with this was her displacement in the guidance of
international relations by diplomacy.

domination the encampments of the legions in the provinces had
always proved to be foci of civilization. The industry and order
exhibited in them presented an example not lost on the
surrounding barbarians of Britain, Gaul, and Germany. And, though
it was no part of their duty to occupy themselves actively in the
betterment of the conquered tribes, but rather to keep them in a
depressed condition that aided in maintaining subjection, a
steady improvement both in the individual and social condition
took place.

Under the ecclesiastical domination of Rome similar effects
occurred. In the open country the monastery replaced the
legionary encampment; in the village or town, the church was a
centre of light. A powerful effect was produced by the elegant
luxury of the former, and by the sacred and solemn monitions of
the latter.

In extolling the papal system for what it did in the organization
of the family, the definition of civil policy, the construction
of the states of Europe, our praise must be limited by the
recollection that the chief object of ecclesiastical policy was
the aggrandizement of the Church, not the promotion of
civilization. The benefit obtained by the laity was not through
any special intention, but incidental or collateral.

There was no far-reaching, no persistent plan to ameliorate the
physical condition of the nations. Nothing was done to favor
their intellectual development; indeed, on the contrary, it was
the settled policy to keep them not merely illiterate, but
ignorant. Century after century passed away, and left the
peasantry but little better than the cattle in the fields.
Intercommunication and locomotion, which tend so powerfully to
expand the ideas, received no encouragement; the majority of men
died without ever having ventured out of the neighborhood in
which they were born. For them there was no hope of personal
improvement, none of the bettering of their lot; there were no
comprehensive schemes for the avoidance of individual want, none
for the resistance of famines. Pestilences were permitted to
stalk forth unchecked, or at best opposed only by mummeries. Bad
food, wretched clothing, inadequate shelter, were suffered to
produce their result, and at the end of a thousand years the
population of Europe had not doubled.

If policy may be held accountable as much for the births it
prevents as for the deaths it occasions, what a great
responsibility there is here!

In this investigation of the influence of Catholicism, we must
carefully keep separate what it did for the people and what it
did for itself. When we think of the stately monastery, an
embodiment of luxury, with its closely-mown lawns, its gardens
and bowers, its fountains and many murmuring streams, we must
connect it not with the ague-stricken peasant dying without help
in the fens, but with the abbot, his ambling palfrey, his hawk
and hounds, his well-stocked cellar and larder. He is part of a
system that has its centre of authority in Italy.. To that his
allegiance is due. For its behoof are all his acts. When we
survey, as still we may, the magnificent churches and cathedrals
of those times, miracles of architectural skill--the only real
miracles of Catholicism--when in imagination we restore the
transcendently imposing, the noble services of which they were
once the scene, the dim, religious-light streaming in through the
many-colored windows, the sounds of voices not inferior in their
melody to those of heaven, the priests in their sacred vestments,
and above all the prostrate worshipers listening to litanies and
prayers in a foreign and unknown tongue, shall we not ask
ourselves, Was all this for the sake of those worshipers, or for
the glory of the great, the overshadowing authority at Rome?

But perhaps some one may say, Are there not limits to human
exertion--things which no political system, no human power, no
matter how excellent its intention, can accomplish? Men cannot be
raised from barbarism, a continent cannot be civilized, in a day!

The Catholic power is not, however, to be tried by any such
standard. It scornfully rejected and still rejects a human
origin. It claims to be accredited supernaturally. The sovereign
pontiff is the Vicar of God upon earth. Infallible in judgment,
it is given to him to accomplish all things by miracle if need
be. He had exercised an autocratic tyranny over the intellect of
Europe for more than a thousand years; and, though on some
occasions he had encountered the resistances of disobedient
princes, these, in the aggregate, were of so little moment, that
the physical, the political power of the continent may be
affirmed to have been at his disposal.

Such facts as have been presented in this chapter were,
doubtless, well weighed by the Protestant Reformers of the
sixteenth century, and brought them to the conclusion that
Catholicism had altogether failed in its mission; that it had
become a vast system of delusion and imposture, and that a
restoration of true Christianity could only be accomplished by
returning to the faith and practices of the primitive times. This
was no decision suddenly arrived at; it had long been the opinion
of many religious and learned men. The pious Fratricelli in the
middle ages had loudly expressed their belief that the fatal gift
of a Roman emperor had been the doom of true religion. It wanted
nothing more than the voice of Luther to bring men throughout the
north of Europe to the, determination that the worship of the
Virgin Mary, the invocation of saints, the working of miracles,
supernatural cures of the sick, the purchase of indulgences for
the perpetration of sin, and all other evil practices, lucrative
to their abettors, which had been fastened on Christianity, but
which were no part of it, should come to an end. Catholicism, as
a system for promoting the well-being of man, had plainly failed
in justifying its alleged origin; its performance had not
corresponded to its great pretensions; and, after an opportunity
of more than a thousand years' duration, it had left the masses
of men submitted to its influences, both as regards physical
well-being and intellectual culture, in a condition far lower
than what it ought to have been.



Illustration of the general influences of Science from the
history of America.

Spain to Upper Italy, and was favored by the absence of the popes
at Avignon.--The effects of printing, of maritime adventure, and
of the Reformation--Establishment of the Italian scientific

the direction of thought in Europe.--The transactions of the
Royal Society of London, and other scientific societies, furnish
an illustration of this.

numerous mechanical and physical inventions, made since the
fourteenth century.--Their influence on health and domestic life,
on the arts of peace and of war.

Answer to the question, What has Science done for humanity?

EUROPE, at the epoch of the Reformation, furnishes us with the
result of the influences of Roman Christianity in the promotion
of civilization. America, examined in like manner at the present
time, furnishes us with an illustration of the influences of

SCIENCE AND CIVILIZATION. In the course of the seventeenth
century a sparse European population bad settled along the
western Atlantic coast. Attracted by the cod-fishery of
Newfoundland, the French had a little colony north of the St.
Lawrence; the English, Dutch, and Swedes, occupied the shore of
New England and the Middle States; some Huguenots were living in
the Carolinas. Rumors of a spring that could confer perpetual
youth--a fountain of life--had brought a few Spaniards into
Florida. Behind the fringe of villages which these adventurers
had built, lay a vast and unknown country, inhabited by wandering
Indians, whose numbers from the Gulf of Mexico to the St.
Lawrence did not exceed one hundred and eighty thousand. From
them the European strangers had learned that in those solitary
regions there were fresh-water seas, and a great river which they
called the Mississippi. Some said that it flowed through Virginia
into the Atlantic, some that it passed through Florida, some that
it emptied into the Pacific, and some that it reached the Gulf of
Mexico. Parted from their native countries by the stormy
Atlantic, to cross which implied a voyage of many months, these
refugees seemed lost to the world.

But before the close of the nineteenth century the descendants of
this feeble people had become one of the great powers of the
earth. They had established a republic whose sway extended from
the Atlantic to the Pacific. With an army of more than a million
men, not on paper, but actually in the field, they had overthrown
a domestic assailant. They had maintained at sea a war-fleet of
nearly seven hundred ships, carrying five thousand guns, some of
them the heaviest in the world. The tonnage of this navy amounted
to half a million. In the defense of their national life they had
expended in less than five years more than four thousand million
dollars. Their census, periodically taken, showed that the
population was doubling itself every twenty-five years; it
justified the expectation that at the close of that century it
would number nearly one hundred million souls.

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. A silent continent had been changed into a
scene of industry; it was full of the din of machinery and the
restless moving of men. Where there had been an unbroken forest,
there were hundreds of cities and towns. To commerce were
furnished in profusion some of the most important staples, as
cotton, tobacco, breadstuffs. The mines yielded incredible
quantities of gold, iron, coal. Countless churches, colleges, and
public schools, testified that a moral influence vivified this
material activity. Locomotion was effectually provided for. The
railways exceeded in aggregate length those of all Europe
combined. In 1873 the aggregate length of the European railways
was sixty-three thousand three hundred and sixty miles, that of
the American was seventy thousand six hundred and fifty miles.
One of them, built across the continent, connected the Atlantic
and Pacific Oceans.

But not alone are these material results worthy of notice. Others
of a moral and social kind force themselves on our attention.
Four million negro slaves had been set free. Legislation, if it
inclined to the advantage of any class, inclined to that of the
poor. Its intention was to raise them from poverty, and better
their lot. A career was open to talent, and that without any
restraint. Every thing was possible to intelligence and industry.
Many of the most important public offices were filled by men who
had risen from the humblest walks of life. If there was not
social equality, as there never can be in rich and prosperous
communities, there was civil equality, rigorously maintained.

It may perhaps be said that much of this material prosperity
arose from special conditions, such as had never occurred in the
case of any people before, There was a vast, an open theatre of
action, a whole continent ready for any who chose to take
possession of it. Nothing more than courage and industry was
needed to overcome Nature, and to seize the abounding advantages
she offered.

by a great principle who successfully transform the primeval
solitudes into an abode of civilization, who are not dismayed by
gloomy forests, or rivers, mountains, or frightful deserts, who
push their conquering way in the course of a century across a
continent, and hold it in subjection? Let us contrast with this
the results of the invasion of Mexico and Peru by the Spaniards,
who in those countries overthrew a wonderful civilization, in
many respects superior to their own--a civilization that had been
accomplished without iron and gunpowder--a civilization resting
on an agriculture that had neither horse, nor ox, nor plough. The
Spaniards had a clear base to start from, and no obstruction
whatever in their advance. They ruined all that the aboriginal
children of America had accomplished. Millions of those
unfortunates were destroyed by their cruelty. Nations that for
many centuries had been living in contentment and prosperity,
under institutions shown by their history to be suitable to them,
were plunged into anarchy; the people fell into a baneful
superstition, and a greater part of their landed and other
property found its way into the possession of the Roman Church.

I have selected the foregoing illustration, drawn from American
history, in preference to many others that might have been taken
from European, because it furnishes an instance of the operation
of the acting principle least interfered with by extraneous
conditions. European political progress is less simple than

manner of action, and its results, I will briefly relate how the
scientific principle found an introduction into Europe.

for many years, brought vast sums to Rome, extorted from the
fears or the piety of every Christian nation; they had also
increased the papal power to a most dangerous extent. In the dual
governments everywhere prevailing in Europe, the spiritual had
obtained the mastery; the temporal was little better than its

From all quarters, and under all kinds of pretenses, streams of
money were steadily flowing into Italy. The temporal princes
found that there were left for them inadequate and impoverished
revenues. Philip the Fair, King of France (A.D. 1300), not only
determined to check this drain from his dominions, by prohibiting
the export of gold and silver without his license; he also
resolved that the clergy and the ecclesiastical estates should
pay their share of taxes to him. This brought on a mortal contest
with the papacy. The king was excommunicated, and, in
retaliation, he accused the pope, Boniface VIII., of atheism;
demanding that he should be tried by a general council. He sent
some trusty persons into Italy, who seized Boniface in his palace
at Anagni, and treated him with so much severity, that in a few
days he died. The succeeding pontiff, Benedict XI., was poisoned.

The French king was determined that the papacy should be purified
and reformed; that it should no longer be the appanage of a few
Italian families, who were dexterously transmuting the credulity
of Europe into coin--that French influence should prevail in it.
He Therefore came to an understanding with the cardinals; a
French archbishop was elevated to the pontificate; he took the
name of Clement V. The papal court was removed to Avignon, in
France, and Rome was abandoned as the metropolis of Christianity.

before the papacy was restored to the Eternal City (A.D. 1376).
The diminution of its influence in the peninsula, that had thus
occurred, gave opportunity for the memorable intellectual
movement which soon manifested itself in the great commercial
cities of Upper Italy. Contemporaneously, also, there were other
propitious events. The result of the Crusades had shaken the
faith of all Christendom. In an age when the test of the ordeal
of battle was universally accepted, those wars had ended in
leaving the Holy Land in the hands of the Saracens; the many
thousand Christian warriors who had returned from them did not
hesitate to declare that they had found their antagonists not
such as had been pictured by the Church, but valiant, courteous,
just. Through the gay cities of the South of France a love of
romantic literature had been spreading; the wandering troubadours
had been singing their songs--songs far from being restricted to
ladye- love and feats of war; often their burden was the awful
atrocities that had been perpetrated by papal authority-- the
religious massacres of Languedoc; often their burden was the
illicit amours of the clergy. From Moorish Spain the gentle and
gallant idea of chivalry had been brought, and with it the noble
sentiment of "personal honor," destined in the course of time to
give a code of its own to Europe.

EFFECT OF THE GREAT SCHISM. The return of the papacy to Rome was
far from restoring the influence of the popes over the Italian
Peninsula. More than two generations had passed away since their
departure, and, had they come back even in their original
strength, they could not have resisted the intellectual progress
that had been made during their absence. The papacy, however,
came back not to rule, but to be divided against itself, to
encounter the Great Schism. Out of its dissensions emerged two
rival popes; eventually there were three, each pressing his
claims upon the religious, each cursing his rival. A sentiment of
indignation soon spread all over Europe, a determination that the
shameful scenes which were then enacting should be ended. How
could the dogma of a Vicar of God upon earth, the dogma of an
infallible pope, be sustained in presence of such scandals?
Herein lay the cause of that resolution of the ablest
ecclesiastics of those times (which, alas for Europe! could not
be carried into effect), that a general council should be made
the permanent religious parliament of the whole continent, with
the pope as its chief executive officer. Had that intention been
accomplished, there would have been at this day no conflict
between science and religion; the convulsion of the Reformation
would have been avoided; there would have been no jarring
Protestant sects. But the Councils of Constance and Basle failed
to shake off the Italian yoke, failed to attain that noble

Catholicism was thus weakening; as its leaden pressure lifted,
the intellect of man expanded. The Saracens had invented the
method of making paper from linen rags and from cotton. The
Venetians had brought from China to Europe the art of printing.
The former of these inventions was essential to the latter. Hence
forth, without the possibility of a check, there was intellectual
intercommunication among all men.

INVENTION OF PRINTING. The invention of printing was a severe
blow to Catholicism, which had, previously, enjoyed the
inappreciable advantage of a monopoly of intercommunication. From
its central seat, orders could be disseminated through all the
ecclesiastical ranks, and fulminated through the pulpits. This
monopoly and the amazing power it conferred were destroyed by the
press. In modern times, the influence of the pulpit has become
insignificant. The pulpit has been thoroughly supplanted by the

Yet, Catholicism did not yield its ancient advantage without a
struggle. As soon as the inevitable tendency of the new art was
detected, a restraint upon it, under the form of a censorship,
was attempted. It was made necessary to have a permit, in order
to print a book. For this, it was needful that the work should
have been read, examined, and approved by the clergy. There must
be a certificate that it was a godly and orthodox book. A bull of
excommunication was issued in 1501, by Alexander VI., against
printers who should publish pernicious doctrines. In 1515 the
Lateran Council ordered that no books should be printed but such
as had been inspected by the ecclesiastical censors, under pain
of excommunication and fine; the censors being directed "to take
the utmost care that nothing should be printed contrary to the
orthodox faith." There was thus a dread of religious discussion;
a terror lest truth should emerge.

But these frantic struggles of the powers of ignorance were
unavailing. Intellectual intercommunication among men was
secured. It culminated in the modern newspaper, which daily gives
its contemporaneous intelligence from all parts of the world.
Reading became a common occupation. In ancient society that art
was possessed by comparatively few persons. Modern society owes
some of its most striking characteristics to this change.

EFFECTS OF MARITIME ENTERPRISE. Such was the result of bringing
into Europe the manufacture of paper and the printing-press. In
like manner the introduction of the mariner's compass was
followed by imposing material and moral effects. These were--the
discovery of America in consequence of the rivalry of the
Venetians and Genoese about the India trade; the doubling of
Africa by De Gama; and the circumnavigation of the earth by
Magellan. With respect to the last, the grandest of all human
undertakings, it is to be remembered that Catholicism had
irrevocably committed itself to the dogma of a flat earth, with
the sky as the floor of heaven, and hell in the under-world. Some
of the Fathers, whose authority was held to be paramount, had, as
we have previously said, furnished philosophical and religious
arguments against the globular form. The controversy had now
suddenly come to an end--the Church was found to be in error.

The correction of that geographical error was by no means the
only important result that followed the three great voyages. The
spirit of Columbus, De Gama, Magellan, diffused itself among all
the enterprising men of Western Europe. Society had been hitherto
living under the dogma of "loyalty to the king, obedience to the
Church." It had therefore been living for others, not for itself.
The political effect of that dogma had culminated in the
Crusades. Countless thousands had perished in wars that could
bring them no reward, and of which the result had been
conspicuous failure. Experience had revealed the fact that the
only gainers were the pontiffs, cardinals, and other
ecclesiastics in Rome, and the shipmasters of Venice. But, when
it became known that the wealth of Mexico, Peru, and India, might
be shared by any one who had enterprise and courage, the motives
that had animated the restless populations of Europe suddenly
changed. The story of Cortez and Pizarro found enthusiastic
listeners everywhere. Maritime adventure supplanted religious

If we attempt to isolate the principle that lay at the basis of
the wonderful social changes that now took place, we may
recognize it without difficulty. Heretofore each man had
dedicated his services to his superior--feudal or ecclesiastical;
now he had resolved to gather the fruits of his exertions
himself. Individualism was becoming predominant, loyalty was
declining into a sentiment. We shall now see how it was with the

INDIVIDUALISM. Individualism rests on the principle that a man
shall be his own master, that he shall have liberty to form his
own opinions, freedom to carry into effect his resolves. He is,
therefore, ever brought into competition with his fellow-men. His
life is a display of energy.

To remove the stagnation of centuries front European life, to
vivify suddenly what had hitherto been an inert mass, to impart
to it individualism, was to bring it into conflict with the
influences that had been oppressing it. All through the
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries uneasy strugglings gave a
premonition of what was coming. In the early part of the
sixteenth (1517), the battle was joined. Individualism found its
embodiment in a sturdy German monk, and therefore, perhaps
necessarily, asserted its rights under theological forms. There
were some preliminary skirmishes about indulgences and other
minor matters, but very soon the real cause of dispute came
plainly into view. Martin Luther refused to think as he was
ordered to do by his ecclesiastical superiors at Rome; he
asserted that he had an inalienable right to interpret the Bible
for himself.

At her first glance, Rome saw nothing in Martin Luther but a
vulgar, insubordinate, quarrelsome monk. Could the Inquisition
have laid hold of him, it would have speedily disposed of his
affair; but, as the conflict went on, it was discovered that
Martin was not standing alone. Many thousands of men, as resolute
as himself, were coming up to his support; and, while he carried
on the combat with writings and words, they made good his
propositions with the sword.

THE REFORMATION. The vilification which was poured on Luther and
his doings was so bitter as to be ludicrous. It was declared that
his father was not his mother's husband, but an impish incubus,
who had deluded her; that, after ten years' struggling with his
conscience, he had become an atheist; that he denied the
immortality of the soul; that he had composed hymns in honor of
drunkenness, a vice to which he was unceasingly addicted; that he
blasphemed the Holy Scriptures, and particularly Moses; that he
did not believe a word of what he preached; that he had called
the Epistle of St. James a thing of straw; and, above all, that
the Reformation was no work of his, but, in reality, was due to a
certain astrological position of the stars. It was, however, a
vulgar saying among the Roman ecclesiastics that Erasmus laid the
egg of the Reformation, and Luther hatched it.

Rome at first made the mistake of supposing that this was nothing
more than a casual outbreak; she failed to discern that it was,
in fact, the culmination of an internal movement which for two
centuries had been going on in Europe, and which had been hourly
gathering force; that, had there been nothing else, the existence
of three popes--three obediences--would have compelled men to
think, to deliberate, to conclude for themselves. The Councils of
Constance and Basle taught them that there was a higher power
than the popes. The long and bloody wars that ensued were closed
by the Peace of Westphalia; and then it was found that Central
and Northern Europe had cast off the intellectual tyranny of
Rome, that individualism had carried its point, and had
established the right of every man to think for himself.

DECOMPOSITION OF PROTESTANTISM. But it was impossible that the
establishment of this right of private judgment should end with
the rejection of Catholicism. Early in the movement some of the
most distinguished men, such as Erasmus, who had been among its
first promoters, abandoned it. They perceived that many of the
Reformers entertained a bitter dislike of learning, and they were
afraid of being brought under bigoted caprice. The Protestant
party, having thus established its existence by dissent and
separation, must, in its turn, submit to the operation of the
same principles. A decomposition into many subordinate sects was
inevitable. And these, now that they had no longer any thing to
fear from their great Italian adversary, commenced partisan
warfares on each other. As, in different countries, first one and
then another sect rose to power, it stained itself with cruelties
perpetrated upon its competitors. The mortal retaliations that
had ensued, when, in the chances of the times, the oppressed got
the better of their oppressors, convinced the contending
sectarians that they must concede to their competitors what they
claimed for themselves; and thus, from their broils and their
crimes, the great principle of toleration extricated itself. But
toleration is only an intermediate stage; and, as the
intellectual decomposition of Protestantism keeps going on, that
transitional condition will lead to a higher and nobler state
--the hope of philosophy in all past ages of the world--a social
state in which there shall be unfettered freedom for thought.
Toleration, except when extorted by fear, can only come from
those who are capable of entertaining and respecting other
opinions than their own. It can therefore only come from
philosophy. History teaches us only too plainly that fanaticism
is stimulated by religion, and neutralized or eradicated by

TOLERATION. The avowed object of the Reformation was, to remove
from Christianity the pagan ideas and pagan rites engrafted upon
it by Constantine and his successors, in their attempt to
reconcile the Roman Empire to it. The Protestants designed to
bring it back to its primitive purity; and hence, while restoring
the ancient doctrines, they cast out of it all such practices as
the adoration of the Virgin Mary and the invocation of saints.
The Virgin Mary, we are assured by the Evangelists, had accepted
the duties of married life, and borne to her husband several
children. In the prevailing idolatry, she had ceased to be
regarded as the carpenter's wife; she had become the queen of
heaven, and the mother of God.

DA VINCI. The science of the Arabians followed the invading track
of their literature, which had come into Christendom by two
routes--the south of France, and Sicily. Favored by the exile of
the popes to Avignon, and by the Great Schism, it made good its
foothold in Upper Italy. The Aristotelian or Inductive
philosophy, clad in the Saracenic costume that Averroes had given
it, made many secret and not a few open friends. It found many
minds eager to receive and able to appreciate it. Among these
were Leonardo da Vinci, who proclaimed the fundamental principle
that experiment and observation are the only reliable foundations
of reasoning in science, that experiment is the only trustworthy
interpreter of Nature, and is essential to the ascertainment of
laws. He showed that the action of two perpendicular forces upon
a point is the same as that denoted by the diagonal of a
rectangle, of which they represent the sides. From this the
passage to the proposition of oblique forces was very easy. This
proposition was rediscovered by Stevinus, a century later, and
applied by him to the explanation of the mechanical powers. Da
Vinci gave a clear exposition of the theory of forces applied
obliquely on a lever, discovered the laws of friction
subsequently demonstrated by Amontons, and understood the
principle of virtual velocities. He treated of the conditions of
descent of bodies along inclined planes and circular arcs,
invented the camera-obscura, discussed correctly several
physiological problems, and foreshadowed some of the great
conclusions of modern geology, such as the nature of fossil
remains, and the elevation of continents. He explained the
earth-light reflected by the moon. With surprising versatility of
genius he excelled as a sculptor, architect, engineer; was
thoroughly versed in the astronomy, anatomy, and chemistry of his
times. In painting, he was the rival of Michel Angelo; in a
competition between them, he was considered to have established
his superiority. His "Last Supper," on the wall of the refectory
of the Dominican convent of Sta. Maria delle Grazie, is well
known, from the numerous engravings and copies that have been
made of it.

ITALIAN SCIENTIFIC SOCIETIES. Once firmly established in the
north of Italy, Science soon extended her sway over the entire
peninsula. The increasing number of her devotees is indicated by
the rise and rapid multiplication of learned societies. These
were reproductions of the Moorish ones that had formerly existed
in Granada and Cordova. As if to mark by a monument the track
through which civilizing influences had come, the Academy of
Toulouse, founded in 1345, has survived to our own times. It
represented, however, the gay literature of the south of France,
and was known under the fanciful title of "the Academy of Floral
Games." The first society for the promotion of physical science,
the Academia Secretorum Naturae, was founded at Naples, by
Baptista Porta. It was, as Tiraboschi relates, dissolved by the
ecclesiastical authorities. The Lyncean was founded by Prince
Frederic Cesi at Rome; its device plainly indicated its
intention: a lynx, with its eyes turned upward toward heaven,
tearing a triple-headed Cerberus with its claws. The Accademia
del Cimento, established at Florence, 1657, held its meetings in
the ducal palace. It lasted ten years, and was then suppressed at
the instance of the papal government; as an equivalent, the
brother of the grand-duke was made a cardinal. It numbered many
great men, such as Torricelli and Castelli, among its members.
The condition of admission into it was an abjuration of all
faith, and a resolution to inquire into the truth. These
societies extricated the cultivators of science from the
isolation in which they had hitherto lived, and, by promoting
their intercommunication and union, imparted activity and
strength to them all.

Returning now from this digression, this historical sketch of the
circumstances under which science was introduced into Europe, I
pass to the consideration of its manner of action and its

INTELLECTUAL INFLUENCE OF SCIENCE. The influence of science on
modern civilization has been twofold: 1. Intellectual; 2.
Economical. Under these titles we may conveniently consider it.

Intellectually it overthrew the authority of tradition. It
refused to accept, unless accompanied by proof, the dicta of any
master, no matter how eminent or honored his name. The conditions
of admission into the Italian Accademia del Cimento, and the
motto adopted by the Royal Society of London, illustrate the
position it took in this respect.

It rejected the supernatural and miraculous as evidence in
physical discussions. It abandoned sign-proof such as the Jews in
old days required, and denied that a demonstration can be given
through an illustration of something else, thus casting aside the
logic that had been in vogue for many centuries.

In physical inquiries, its mode of procedure was, to test the
value of any proposed hypothesis, by executing computations in
any special case on the basis or principle of that hypothesis,
and then, by performing an experiment or making an observation,
to ascertain whether the result of these agreed with the result
of the computation. If it did not, the hypothesis was to be

We may here introduce an illustration or two of this mode of

the influence of the earth's attraction, gravity, may extend as
far as the moon, and be the force that causes her to revolve in
her orbit round the earth, calculated that, by her motion in her
orbit, she was deflected from the tangent thirteen feet every
minute; but, by ascertaining the space through which bodies would
fall in one minute at the earth's surface, and supposing it to be
diminished in the ratio of the inverse square, it appeared that
the attraction at the moon's orbit would draw a body through more
than fifteen feet. He, therefore, for the time, considered his
hypothesis as unsustained. But it so happened that Picard shortly
afterward executed more correctly a new measurement of a degree;
this changed the estimated magnitude of the earth, and the
distance of the moon, which was measured in earth-semidiameters.
Newton now renewed his computation, and, as I have related on a
previous page, as it drew to a close, foreseeing that a
coincidence was about to be established, was so much agitated
that he was obliged to ask a friend to complete it. The
hypothesis was sustained.

A second instance will sufficiently illustrate the method under
consideration. It is presented by the chemical theory of
phlogiston. Stahl, the author of this theory, asserted that there
is a principle of inflammability, to which he gave the name
phlogiston, having the quality of uniting with substances. Thus,
when what we now term a metallic oxide was united to it, a metal
was produced; and, if the phlogiston were withdrawn, the metal
passed back into its earthy or oxidized state. On this principle,
then, the metals were compound bodies, earths combined with

SCIENCE AND ECCLESIASTICISM. But during the eighteenth century
the balance was introduced as an instrument of chemical research.
Now, if the phlogistic hypothesis be true, it would follow that a
metal should be the heavier, its oxide the lighter body, for the
former contains something--phlogiston--that has been added to the
latter. But, on weighing a portion of any metal, and also the
oxide producible from it, the latter proves to be the heavier,
and here the phlogistic hypothesis fails. Still further, on
continuing the investigation, it may be shown that the oxide or
calx, as it used to be called, has become heavier by combining
with one of the ingredients of the air.

To Lavoisier is usually attributed this test experiment; but the
fact that the weight of a metal increases by calcination was
established by earlier European experimenters, and, indeed, was
well known to the Arabian chemists. Lavoisier, however, was the
first to recognize its great importance. In his hands it produced
a revolution in chemistry.

The abandonment of the phlogistic theory is an illustration of
the readiness with which scientific hypotheses are surrendered,
when found to be wanting in accordance with facts. Authority and
tradition pass for nothing. Every thing is settled by an appeal
to Nature. It is assumed that the answers she gives to a
practical interrogation will ever be true.

Comparing now the philosophical principles on which science was
proceeding, with the principles on which ecclesiasticism rested,
we see that, while the former repudiated tradition, to the latter
it was the main support while the former insisted on the
agreement of calculation and observation, or the correspondence
of reasoning and fact, the latter leaned upon mysteries; while
the former summarily rejected its own theories, if it saw that
they could not be coordinated with Nature, the latter found merit
in a faith that blindly accepted the inexplicable, a satisfied
contemplation of "things above reason." The alienation between
the two continually increased. On one side there was a sentiment
of disdain, on the other a sentiment of hatred. Impartial
witnesses on all hands perceived that science was rapidly
undermining ecclesiasticism.

MATHEMATICS. Mathematics had thus become the great instrument of
scientific research, it had become the instrument of scientific
reasoning. In one respect it may be said that it reduced the
operations of the mind to a mechanical process, for its symbols
often saved the labor of thinking. The habit of mental exactness
it encouraged extended to other branches of thought, and produced
an intellectual revolution. No longer was it possible to be
satisfied with miracle-proof, or the logic that had been relied
upon throughout the middle ages. Not only did it thus influence
the manner of thinking, it also changed the direction of thought.
Of this we may be satisfied by comparing the subjects considered
in the transactions of the various learned societies with the
discussions that had occupied the attention of the middle ages.

But the use of mathematics was not limited to the verification of
theories; as above indicated, it also furnished a means of
predicting what had hitherto been unobserved. In this it offered
a counterpart to the prophecies of ecclesiasticism. The discovery
of Neptune is an instance of the kind furnished by astronomy, and
that of conical refraction by the optical theory of undulations.

But, while this great instrument led to such a wonderful
development in natural science, it was itself undergoing
development--improvement. Let us in a few lines recall its

The germ of algebra may be discerned in the works of Diophantus
of Alexandria, who is supposed to have lived in the second
century of our era. In that Egyptian school Euclid had formerly
collected the great truths of geometry, and arranged them in
logical sequence. Archimedes, in Syracuse, had attempted the
solution of the higher problems by the method of exhaustions.
Such was the tendency of things that, had the patronage of
science been continued, algebra would inevitably have been

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