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I propose to describe the Greatness and the Misery of the old Roman world; nor is there any thing in history more suggestive and instructive. A little city, founded by robbers on the banks of the Tiber, rises gradually into importance, although the great cities of the East are scarcely conscious of its existence. Its early struggles simply arrest the attention, and excite the jealousy, of the neighboring nations. The citizens of this little... more...

1795-1881. CRITICISM AND BIOGRAPHY. The now famous biography of Thomas Carlyle, by Mr. Froude, shed a new light on the eccentric Scotch essayist, and in some respects changed the impressions produced by his own "Reminiscences" and the Letters of his wife. It is with the aid of those two brilliant and interesting volumes on Carlyle's "Earlier Life" and "Life in London," issued about two years after the death of their distinguished subject, that... more...

1782-1850. THE SLAVERY QUESTION. The extraordinary abilities of John C. Calhoun, the great influence he exerted as the representative of Southern interests in the National Legislature, and especially his connection with the Slavery Question, make it necessary to include him among the statesmen who, for evil or good, have powerfully affected the destinies of the United States. He is a great historical character,--the peer of Webster and Clay in... more...

THE AMERICAN CONSTITUTION. There is one man in the political history of the United States whom Daniel Webster regarded as his intellectual superior. And this man was Alexander Hamilton; not so great a lawyer or orator as Webster, not so broad and experienced a statesman, but a more original genius, who gave shape to existing political institutions. And he rendered transcendent services at a great crisis of American history, and died, with no... more...

LOUIS NAPOLEON. 1808-1873. THE SECOND EMPIRE. Prince Louis Napoleon, or, as he afterward became, Emperor Napoleon III., is too important a personage to be omitted in the sketch of European history during the nineteenth century. It is not yet time to form a true estimate of his character and deeds, since no impartial biographies of him have yet appeared, and since he died less than thirty years ago. The discrepancy of opinion respecting him... more...


CHATEAUBRIAND. 1768-1848. THE RESTORATION AND FALL OF THE BOURBONS. In this lecture I wish to treat of the restoration of the Bourbons, and of the counter-revolution in France. On the fall of Napoleon, the Prussian king and the Austrian emperor, under the predominating influence of Metternich, in restoring the Bourbons were averse to constitutional checks. They wanted nothing less than absolute monarchy, such as existed before the... more...

CARDINAL DE RICHELIEU. A. D. 1585-1642. ABSOLUTISM. Cardinal de Richelieu is an illustration of what can be done for the prosperity and elevation of a country by a man whom we personally abhor, and whose character is stained by glaring defects and vices. If there was a statesman in French history who was pre-eminently unscrupulous, selfish, tyrannical, and cruel, that statesman was the able and wily priest who ruled France during the... more...

BEACON LIGHTS OF HISTORY HÉLOÏSE. * * * * * A.D. 1101-1164. LOVE. When Adam and Eve were expelled from Paradise, they yet found one flower, wherever they wandered, blooming in perpetual beauty. This flower represents a great certitude, without which few would be happy,—subtile, mysterious, inexplicable,—a great boon recognized alike by poets and moralists, Pagan and Christian; yea, identified not only with happiness,... more...

MICHAEL ANGELO. A.D. 1475-1564. THE REVIVAL OF ART. Michael Angelo Buonarroti--one of the Great Lights of the new civilization--may stand as the most fitting representative of reviving art in Europe; also as an illustrious example of those virtues which dignify intellectual pre-eminence. He was superior, in all that is sterling and grand in character, to any man of his age,--certainly in Italy; exhibiting a rugged, stern greatness which... more...

SAINT ANSELM. A. D. 1033-1109. MEDIAEVAL THEOLOGY. The Middle Ages produced no more interesting man than Anselm, Abbot of Bec and Archbishop of Canterbury,--not merely a great prelate, but a great theologian, resplendent in the virtues of monastic life and in devotion to the interests of the Church. He was one of the first to create an intellectual movement in Europe, and to stimulate theological inquiries. Anselm was born at Aosta, in... more...