On Education

It is the Business of the Master to make all Things as easy as possible, and not to frighten Youth from Books and Study, by putting unnecessary Difficulties upon them. The not attending duly to this grand Principle of Education, but rather affecting a quite contrary Conduct, and forcing them, by the Terror of the Lash, to hammer out their Business in a poor bungling Manner by themselves, has been the Occasion that many, who have run through our Schools, and whose Business in the World requires they should be Scholars, have but a very sorry Pittance of Learning to support that Character.

——John Clarke, Preface to Eutropius.

Civilized Treachery

Deeds of foul treachery like this perpetrated by the officials of a civilised state upon its ruder neighbours are even greater follies than crimes. The fame of them spreads far and wide, wherever barbarians meet to exchange thoughts concerning the men of cities and of strange arts, beyond the great river. That instinctive belief in the higher morality of the more cultivated race which is part of the spiritual capital of civilisation, is foolishly frittered away. In its place comes a settled persuasion that craft and cunning are the natural weapons of these effeminate foes; and a spirit of contemptuous hatred is engendered which, should Fortune open a way for its gratification, will wreak a terrible revenge.

——Thomas Hodgkin, Italy and Her Invaders, Book I, Ch. 3.

The Danger of the Military

On the period of near-anarchy in the Roman Empire of the third century:

It was seen then as it has so often been seen since in the history of the world, that if once the interests of the military profession are allowed to become a paramount consideration in politics, it soon ceases to be an efficient instrument even for its own purpose of scientific manslaughter.

——Thomas Hodgkin, Italy and Her Invaders, introduction.

The Coming Darkness

Walafrid had seen Charlemagne’s glorious court and lived through some of that brief and wonderful revival of learning that Charlemagne encouraged. But it was too early for the Renaissance. Darkness was falling again. In his preface to the Life of Charlemagne by his friend Eginhard (or Einhard), Walafrid sees the coming darkness with clarity and sadness, but with resignation.

Now, Charles was beyond all kings most eager in making search for wise men and in giving them such entertainment that they might pursue philosophy in all comfort. Whereby, with the help of God, he rendered his kingdom, which, when God committed it to him, was dark and almost wholly blind (if I may use such an expression), radiant with the blaze of fresh learning, hitherto unknown to our barbarism. But now once more men’s interests are turning in an opposite direction, and the light of wisdom is less loved, and in most men is dying out.

——Walafrid, Preface to Eginhard’s Life of Charlemagne, translated by A. J. Grant.