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Civilization in the 5th Century

263 pages9 hours


                Doubtless fascinating to watch the genius of a people burst forth under a burning or an icy sky, on virgin soil, or in historic land, yield to the impress of contemporary events, and put forth its first blossoms in those epic traditions or in those familiar songs, which still retain all the uncultured perfume of nature. But beneath that popular poetry wherein the great nations of Europe have shown all the variety of their respective characters, we perceive a literature which is learned but common to all alike, and a depository of the theological, philosophical, and political doctrines which moulded for eight hundred years the education of Christendom. Let us study that common education, and consider the modern nations, no longer in that isolation to which the special historian of England or of Italy condemns himself, but in the spirit of that fruitful intercourse marked out for them by Providence, tracing the history of literature up to the Middle Age, by reascending to that obscure moment which beheld letters escaping from the collapse of the old order, and thence following it through the schools of the barbarous epoch, till the new settlement of the nations, and its egress from those schools to take modern languages in possession.

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