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manners Livy has given so striking an account in his description of Hannibal's passage of the Alps. Many Roman legions were impeded in their progress, or thinned of their numbers, by these cruel barbarians; and even after they were reduced to subjection, by the expedition of Drusus, it was still esteemed a service of the utmost danger to leave the high-road, or explore the remote recesses of the country.
What is it, then, which has wrought so wonderful a change in the manners, the habits, and the condition of the inhabitants of those desolate regions? What is it which has spread cultivation through wastes, deemed in ancient times inaccessible to human improvement, and humanized the manners of a people remarkable only, under the Roman sway, for the ferocity and barbarism of their institutions? From what cause has it happened that those savage mountaineers, who resisted all the arts of civilization by which the Romans established their sway over mankind, and continued, even to the overthrow of the empire, impervious to all the efforts of ancient improvement, should, in later times, have so entirely changed their character, and have appeared, even from the first dawn of modern civilization, mild and humane in their character and manners? From what but from the
influence of Religion-of that religion which calmed the savage feeling of the human mind, and spread its beneficial influence among the remotest habitations of men; and which prompted its disciples to leave the luxuries and comforts of southern climates, to diffuse knowledge and humanity through inhospitable realms, and spread, even amidst the regions of winter and desolation, the light and blessings of a spiritual faith.
Universally it has been observed throughout the whole extent of the Alps, that the earliest vestiges of civilization, and the first traces of order and industry which appeared after the overthrow of the Roman empire, were to be found in the immediate neighborhood of the religious establishments; and it is to the unceasing efforts of the clergy, during the centuries of barbarism which followed that event, that the judicious historian of Switzerland ascribes the early civilization and humane disposition of the Helvetic tribes. We would not, perhaps, be inclined to credit the accounts of the heroic sacrifices which were then made by numbers of great and good men who devoted themselves to the conversion of the Alpine tribes, did not their institutions remain to this day as a monument of their virtue; and did we not still see a number of benevolent men who seclude themselves
from the world, and dwell in the regions of perpetual snow, in the hope of rescuing a few individuals from a miserable death. When the traveller on the summit of the St. Bernard reads the warm and touching expressions of gratitude with which the Roman travellers recorded their gratitude for having escaped the dangers of the pass, even in the days of Adrian and the Antonines, and reflects on the perfect safety with which he can now traverse the remotest recesses of the Alps, he will think with thankfulness of the religion by which this wonderful change has been effected, and with veneration of the saint whose name has for a thousand years been affixed to the pass where his influence first reclaimed the people from their barbarous life.
SIR ARCHIBALD ALISON,
THE INFLUENCE OF THE CHURCH UPON
WHILE Christianity broke down the contempt with which the master had regarded his slaves, and planted among the latter a principle of moral regeneration which expanded in no other sphere with an equal perfection, its action in procuring the freedom of the slave was unceasing. The law of Constantine, which placed the ceremony under the superintendence of the clergy, and the many laws that gave special facilities of manumission to those who desired to enter the monasteries or the priesthood, symbolized the religious character the act had assumed.
It was celebrated on Church festivals, especially on Easter. St. Melania was said to have emancipated 8,000 slaves; St. Ovidius, a rich martyr of Gaul, 5,000; Chromatius, a Roman prefect under Diocletian, 1,400; Hermes, a prefect in the reign of Trajan, 1,250; Pope St. Gregory, and many of the clergy at Hippo, under the rule of St. Augustine, and great numbers of private individuals,
freed their slaves as an act of piety. It became customary to do so on occasions of national or personal thanksgiving, on recovery from sickness, on the birth of a child, at the hour of death, and above all, in testamentary bequests. Numerous charters and epitaphs still record the gift of liberty to slaves throughout the middle ages. In the thirteenth century, when there were no slaves to emancipate in France, it was usual in many churches to release caged pigeons on the ecclesiastical festivals, in memory of the ancient charity, and that prisoners might still be freed in the name of Christ.
Closely connected with the influence of the Church in destroying hereditary slavery, was its influence in redeeming captives from servitude. In no other form of charity was its beneficial character more continually and more splendidly displayed. During the long and dreary trials of the barbarian invasions, when the whole structure of society was dislocated, when vast districts and mighty cities were in a few months almost depopulated, and when the flower of the youth of Italy were mowed down by the sword or carried away into captivity, the bishops never desisted from their efforts to alleviate the sufferings of the prisoners. St. Ambrose, disregarding the outcries of