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NIVERSITY MISCELLANEOUS SKETCHES.
299 authority of Scripture for such a representati
Station, land they gave matters just as they found them in the third chapter of Genesis. The present age rejects, as monstrously gross and indelicate, those free compositions which our ancestors not only countenanced but admired; yet the morals of that age were as strict, to say the least, as our own. Those people were strangers, indeed, to delicacy of taste; they beheld the broad and faithful delineations of nature, and thought no harm. The present age has gained in refinement of manners and external decorum, but has probably lost as much in real purity of morals.
It remains to add a few words respecting the modes of dress and architecture during the Middle Ages. Much diversity existed in these matters, in the different countries of Europe. Italy and Provence made the first rapid transition from simplicity to refinement. As early as the beginning of the fourteenth century, luxury had made great progress. Previous to this time, the manners of the Italians were rude. A man and his wife ate from the same plate. There were no wooden-handled knives, nor more than one or two drinking-cups, in a house. Candles of wax or tallow were unknown, and a servant held a torch during supper. The clothes of men were of leather, unlined ; scarcely any ornament was seen on their dress. The common pride of men was, to be well provided with arms and horses; that of the nobility, to have lofty towers, of which all the cities in Italy were full. The conquest of Naples, by Charles of Anjou, in 1266, seems to have been the epoch of increasing luxury throughout Italy. His Provençal knights, with their
plumed helmets and golden collars, the chariot of his queen, covered with blue velvet and sprinkled with lilies of gold, astonished the citizens of Naples. Provence had enjoyed a long tranquillity, the natural source of luxurious magnificence; and Italy, now liberated from the yoke of the German emperors, soon reaped the same fruit of a condition more easy and peaceful than had been her lot for several ages.
In England, great rudeness in manners and dress prevailed before the Norman Conquest ; but that revolution introduced, by degrees, the improvements and luxuries of the Continent. An English beau of the fourteenth century wore enormously long pointed shoes, with gold chains from the points fastened up to his knees; hose of one color on one leg, and of a different color on the other; short inexpressibles reaching but half way down to the knees; a coat one half white, and the other half black or blue; a long beard ; a silk hood buttoned under his chin, embroidered with grotesque figures of animals, dancing men, &c. Similar dresses were also worn in France and Italy. The pointed shoe continued in use till a very late period, and at one time it was fashionable to shape the upper parts into the form of a church window. Chaucer's spruce parish clerk had
“ Poules windowes corven on his shoos.”'
In spite of the bulls of popes, the decrees of councils, and the declamations of the clergy, all which were put in requisition to condemn this absurd fashion, it lasted for three centuries.
It is to the Middle Ages that we are indebted for
some of the most imposing specimens of architecture now existing in Europe ; the cathedrals and the castles; yet domestic architecture made but a slow progress. The houses of the common people in England are described as mere sticks and dirt,” as late as the sixteenth century. Even in Italy, where, from the size of the cities, and the social refinement of the inhabitants, greater elegance and splendor in buildings were justly to be expected, the domestic architecture of the Middle Ages did not attain any perfection. In many towns the houses were covered with thatch, and suffered, consequently, from destructive fires. We may
his, how mean were the habitations in less polished parts of Europe. The two most essential improvements in architecture during this period, one of which had been missed by the sagacity of Greece and Rome, were chimneys and glass windows. Nothing, apparently, can be more simple than a chimney, yet the wisdom of ancient times had been content to let the smoke escape by an aperture in the centre of the roof; and a discovery, of which Vitruvius had not even a glimpse, was made by some forgotten semibarbarian. The first mention of chimneys is about the middle of the fourteenth century, when they were known in Italy and England. In France they did not come into common use till three hundred years later. Glass was probably not employed in domestic architecture in France and England before the fourteenth century; nor were glazed windows in general use during any part of the Middle Ages.
The Middle Ages are commonly regarded as comprising about one thousand years, from the invasion of
France by Clovis, to the irruption of the French under Charles the Eighth into Italy, at the close of the fif. teenth century. This period, considered as to the state of society, has been esteemed dark through ignorance, and barbarous from poverty and want of refinement. And, although this character is much less applicable to the last two centuries of the period than to those which preceded its commencement, yet we cannot expect to feel, with regard to ages, at best but imperfectly civilized, and slowly progressive, that interest which attends a more perfect development of human capacities, and more brilliant advances in improvement. The first moiety, indeed, of these ten centuries, is almost absolutely barren, and presents little but a catalogue of evils. The subversion of the Roman empire, and the devastation of its provinces by barbarous nations, either immediately preceded, or were coincident with, the commencement of the middle period. We begin in darkness and calamity, and though the shadows become fainter as we advance, yet we break off our pursuit as the morning breathes upon us, and the twilight reddens into the lustre of day.
FALL OF THE GREEK EMPIRE.
The last great event of the Middle Ages was the extinction of the Eastern Empire by the capture of Constantinople. That event seems to have been providentially delayed till Italy was ripe to nourish the
scattered seeds of literature, that would have perished a few ages earlier in the common catastrophe. From the commencement of the fifteenth century, even the national pride of Greece could not blind her to the signs of approaching ruin. From the time that Michael Palæologus drove the Latins out of Constantinople in 1261, the empire, which had been reduced to a state of debility before the crusades, being equally exposed to the depredations of the Christians and the Turks, preserved only a high-sounding name, while it tottered on the brink of destruction. The monastic spirit seemed to quench the last glimmering rays of
Narrow, superstitious ideas directed the measures of government, while they did not check the course of heinous crimes. Andronicus, the son of Palæologus, suffered himself to be persuaded that the Greek empire was under the peculiar protection of Heaven, and, therefore, a fleet was unnecessary for its defence. For this reason, the country was first ravaged by pirates, and then overrun by the Turks. In the fourteenth century, they crossed the straits into Europe, took Adrianople, and spread universal terror.
The Sultan Amurath, who achieved this conquest, established the janizaries on the same footing as that on which they existed down to the present century. His son Bajazet, surnamed Ilderim, the Thunderer, was still more formidable. Conquerors seldom degenerate, till they reap in peace the delicious fruits of their conquests. The whole Greek empire was reduced to little more than the precincts of Constantinople, yet discord prevailed in it. The Genoese fomented these dissensions, and, by means of their fleet, were become