Historical Tales, Vol. 4 (Of 15)

Cover of book Historical Tales, Vol. 4 (Of 15)
Categories: Fiction » Historical Fiction

One day, in the far-off sixth century, a youthful deacon of the RomanChurch walked into the slave-market of Rome, situated at one extremityof the ancient Forum. Gregory, his name; his origin from an a


ncientnoble family, whose genealogy could be traced back to the days of theearly Cæsars. A youth was this of imperial powers of mind, one who, hadhe lived when Rome was mistress of the physical world, might have becomeemperor; but who, living when Rome had risen to lordship over thespiritual world, became pope,--the famous Gregory the Great.In the Forum the young deacon saw that which touched his sympatheticsoul. Here cattle were being sold; there, men. His eyes were speciallyattracted by a group of youthful slaves, of aspect such as he had neverseen before. They were bright of complexion, their hair long and golden,their expression of touching innocence. Their fair faces were strangelyunlike the embrowned complexions to which he had been accustomed, and hestood looking at them in admiration, while the slave-dealers extolledtheir beauty of face and figure."From what country do these young men come?" asked Gregory."They are English, Angles," answered the dealers."Not Angles, but angels," said the deacon, with a feeling of poeticsentiment, "for they have angel-like faces. From what country comethey?" he repeated."They come from Deira," said the merchants."_De irâ_" he rejoined, fervently; "ay, plucked from God's ire andcalled to Christ's mercy. And what is the name of their king?""Ella," was the answer."Alleluia shall be sung there!" cried the enthusiastic young monk, hisimagination touched by the significance of these answers. He passed on,musing on the incident which had deeply stirred his sympathies, andconsidering how the light of Christianity could be shed upon the paganlands whence these fair strangers came.It was a striking picture which surrounded that slave-market. From wherethe young deacon stood could be seen the capitol of ancient Rome and thegrand proportions of its mighty Coliseum; not far away the temple ofJupiter Stator displayed its magnificent columns, and other statelyedifices of the imperial city came within the circle of vision. Rome hadceased to be the mistress of the world, but it was not yet in ruins, andmany of its noble edifices still stood almost in perfection. Butpaganism had vanished. The cross of Christ was the dominant symbol. Themarch of the warriors of the legions was replaced by long processionsof cowled and solemn monks. The temporal imperialism of Rome hadceased, the spiritual had begun; instead of armies to bring the worldunder the dominion of the sword, that ancient city now sent out itslegions of priests to bring it under the dominion of the cross.

Historical Tales, Vol. 4 (Of 15)
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