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The doctrine of transmigration, similar to that of the Greeks and Romans, seems to have been held by the Jews before and at the time of Christ. Hence the question of John the Baptist, “ Art thou Elias ?” hence the report Peter said was abroad respecting Christ, “Some say thou art Elias, others Jeremias, or one of the prophets ;” and hence, too, the question put to Christ by the disciples respecting the blind man, “ Master, who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind ?"

Such are some of the ideas of the ancients respecting a future state ; many of them erroneous, many absurd, but at the same time containing many germs of truth, which a more correct philosophy, the offspring of revelation, has more fully developed and confirmed. The perplexing doubts and fears, the absurd conjectures and ridiculous fancies of these have been swept away, and the light of revealed truth has broken in with a brightness which has for ever dispelled the mists of error and superstition which hung for so many ages over every thing pertaining to the future world.

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From the French of M. VILLEMAIN, late Minister of Instruction, France.

[The following is a version of a singularly erudite and interesting sketch of the Revival of Learning in the Fifteenth Century, on the capture of Constantinople by the Turks, and the flight of the Greeks into Europe, written for the Revue de deur Mondes, by M. Villemain, who occupied for years, and until lately, the post of Minister of Justruction of France, and Professor in the University of Paris. His well known name, as the colleague of Guizot, Michelet, Arago, Quinet and Thierry, and as one of the most erudite classical scholars in France, gives some value to the article, above its intrinsic merit, as a striking picture of one of the great turning points of modern civilization. Its slight drapery of fiction does not interfere with, but rather facilitates, the author's design. We are indebted for the excelloat translation to Mr. J. W. May, of Burlington, Vt.-ED.)

In the year fourteen hundred and fifty-three, some Italians of noble family passed over to Sicily to visit Mount Etna, and examine more closely those smoking summits which have for

so many centuries attracted the curiosity of travellers. They were young men of Venice and Florence, who had been carefully trained in the learning of the schools, understood Latin, and occasionally courted the Muses in their mother tongue. Accomplished as they were, Sicily seemed to them a barbarous country. There was nothing to remind them of the beautiful cities of Italy, or the rich commerce of Venice and Genoa. They passed their time in wandering about, and viewing with astonishment, an island so unfortunate amidst a profusion of nature's gifts, and in spite of the fertility of a soil warmed by the heat of the volcano. They strolled beneath the shady walks of palm trees which descend from Taurominium to the foot of Etna, while on the one hand rose thriving vineyards, like an amphitheatre, and, on the other, the sea presented an unbroken perspective of its waves, and mingled its roar with the bellowings of the mountain.

But this grand spectacle could not entirely detach their thoughts from what they had been accustomed to admire in their own land. In beholding, on so fertile a soil, a people so sparse, so poor and so rude, both in manners and language, they saw what art and industry can do for man, and repeated some verses of Petrarch to the glory of Italy. More than once, too, wearied of this incessant contemplation of ruin, and seated among the scattered fragments of some old Greek temple or Roman circus, they recalled some of those sportive fictions which had rendered the names of Boccacio and Poggio so famous throughout Italy. Such, at that time, was the taste and genius of the Italians. That enthusiastic and warlike fervour which had animated the Middle Ages, and which was now beginning to wane throughout Europe, had long since lost its power over them. The court of Rome; the democracy of Florence; the policy, commerce, and voluptuousness of Venice; all these were alike repugnant to the habits and usages of chivalry.

The young travellers had indeed beard, before leaving Italy, that the Sultan, Mahomet II., was soon to besiege Constantinople with a formidable army ; but this news had THIRD SERIES, VOL. II. NO. IV.


excited in their minds only a moderate interest in favour of a schismatic people, foolishly obstinate in an error, which, at the last Council of Florence, they had faithlessly promised to retract. It was no longer the time of the crusades, and Byzantium was not Jerusalem. The announcement of the peril of the imperial city, therefore, seriously occupied the attention of none save a few merchants of Pisa and .Venice who traded in the Levant, and seized this opportunity to fill their coffers by supplying both the Greeks and their invaders with ammunition and arms. But Sicily was, at that period, so destitute of coinmerce and industry, that no one there thought of such an enterprise, nor did they know even of the condition and danger of Constantinople. A blind zeal for the Roman religion rendered the very name of Byzantium odious among the people, who regarded the Greeks as impious enemies of God and the holy images.

One evening, while our travellers had stopped at the east of Catania to contemplate the last rays of the setting sun, as they threw a reddening light over the smoky top of Etna, and seemed to repeat, in the waves, the fire of the volcano, the sight of a vessel approaching the shore attracted their attention. The lateen sail, half furled around the mast, with the cross which surmounted it, announced a Christian ship. She draws near the shore; and while the Turkish slaves, chained to their benches, discover a kind of insulting and ferocious joy, a number of men, venerable in years, and of noble but dejected mien, appear upon the deck, and mournfully salute the approaching shore. They go ashore, fall upon their knees, and thank God for their deliverance. The women, children and wounded follow. Covered with long white robes, their countenances veiled-in their retiring modesty forgetting even their misfortunes—these women, as they stood motionless upon the shore, seemed, in the beauty of their forms, a group of antique statues. One of the men, who, by his commanding look, seemed their chief, turning towards those who had come down to the seaside, exclaimed:

“We fly from Constantinople ;-our brethren are dead or captive ;—the Emperor has perished ;—the temple of Saint Sophia is polluted by Mahomet, and we come to seek an asylum in that Christian Europe which would not help us.”

These words, and this appearance of sadness, together with the sudden advent of so great a misfortune, made a deep impression upon our travellers, as well as upon some of the inhabitants who had gathered around. The superstitious aversion, which attached to the name of Greek, was overcome in the Sicilians themselves, by the eagerness of zeal and curiosity. They surround the strangers, and conduct them to a monastery built upon the shore, whose outer apartments, according to custom, were appropriated as an asylum for the distressed. Time had been when the monks of this convent would have feared to open its doors to schismatics of the Eastern Church ; and the Greeks of Byzantium would have thought themselves profaned by crossing the threshold of a Roman cathedral. But these sad antipathies were forgotten in this moment of misfortune.

Among the Italian travellers, one of them, a younger member of the house of Medici, in particular, could not restrain his lively grief at the sight of these remnants of a great people.

“What have we done!” he exclaimed. “Has Constantinople, that city which they told us was so powerful, has she fallen into the hands of the Turks? Had you not riches -immense treasures--the envy of Europe ?"

“ There was no love of country among us,” replied the chief of the fugitives; “ each citizen took care of himself and his riches, and left the state to perish.”

“What !” said Medici; “do not the Genoese occupy your suburbs ? Are they not your allies--your merchants ?”

They it was who betrayed us,” said the unfortunate Greek. “And why should they have been faithful ? Will they not carry on the same traffick with the Turks? The disinterested valour, the religious faith of Europe could alone have saved us."

The stranger then mournfully recounted, in a few words, how Mahomet bad brought from Asia, against Byzantium, an immense force, both naval and military, having laid his whole empire under contribution to besiege a capital, which he regarded as a city snatched from his conquests.

« And what," continued he, “could we alone, against such ambition and such power? For forty days, animated by the example of our Emperor, we held out against the attacks of the barbarians. The sea, though filled with their vessels, was still in our favour, and seemed to promise us aid from the West. An iron chain of incredible strength shut up the entrance of the port of Byzantium, and was only drawn for the admission of friendly vess But with this obedient and brutal force of a million of slavish arms, Mabomet caused to be transported, in one night, and thrown into the otherwise inaccessible harbour, a fleet completely furnished with arms and soldiers. What was our astonishment, at break of day, to find war in our surest asylum, the rest of the world separated from us, and every where Mahomet! Then our generous Prince, recalling all the ancient majesty of the Cæsars, assembled the nobles, the people, and a few faithful foreigners, to announce the last conflict and the last day. When Constantine, on that last sad night, after having asked the pardon of his subjects, came to receive the communion at the foot of the altar, it seemed as if that Roman Empire, which, already old twelve centuries ago, had been rejuvenated by the power of Christianity, was about finally to die. The day following did not deceive us. We saw the Emperor fight in that horrible, assault till the last moment. We heard him send up that last shriek of the dying empire :-“Will not some faithful Christian cut off my head ?"

While saying these words, Lascaris seemed overcome by the horror of the recollection ; his strength failed him, and the blood spirted anew from a wound which his garments but poorly concealed. Reanimated by the kind attentions of the strangers who surrounded him

“ And I, also," he exclaimed, “should I not have died, who am descended from the Emperors, and so nearly allied

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