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MISS STOKES, who was born in 1832, had a hereditary right to deal with Celtic archeology. Her father, Dr. William Stokes, attained great distinction as an Irish scholar; and his daughter worthily pursued the same path of study. Her chief work is Early Christian Architecture in Ireland.' This is a remarkably able book. It is written in a clear and pleasant style; the facts are skillfully grouped, and the authoress shows a complete mastery of her subject. Miss Stokes edited Christian Inscriptions in the Irish language.' She made an illuminated edition of Sir Samuel Ferguson's The Cromlech on Howth,' and contributed drawings to the Earl of Dunraven's 'Notes on Irish Archeology.'
Her book on the High Crosses of Ireland' was unfinished at the time of her death, which occurred in 1900.
THE NORTHMEN IN IRELAND.
From Early Christian Architecture.'
Pugin has observed in his essay on the 'Revival of Christian Architecture' that "the history of architecture is the history of the world;" therefore in tracing the origin and growth of new forms in this art, we may expect to find a parallel stream in the course of events which mark the career of the race to whom it belongs. Where any decided innovation occurs in the architecture of any country, it seems probable that some revolution in its history may be found to account for the phenomenon. Hitherto the churches of Ireland, in their humble proportions and symmetrical simplicity, were the natural offspring, not only, as Dr. Petrie has beautifully expressed it, "of a religion not made for the rich, but for the poor and lowly;" they were also the result of choice and adherence to a primitive national system. Even after the introduction of the ornamental style termed Irish Romanesque, we find that there was no material departure from the simple ground-plan and small dimensions of the earlier churches of the horizontal lintel. The church-system of Ireland continued to be, as it had always been, one that entailed the erection of a number of small buildings, either grouped together as at Glendalough, or thickly scattered
over the face of the country; and at the time of transition to Romanesque there was no corresponding change in the ecclesiastical system of the country.
When the group of humble dwellings which formed the monasteries and schools of Ireland is seen at the foot of the lofty tower whose masonry rarely seems to correspond in date with the buildings that surround it, and which does not, as elsewhere, seem a component and accessory part of the whole pile that formed the feudal abbey, we cannot but feel that some new condition in the history of the Irish Church must have arisen to account for the apparition of these bold and lofty structures. And here we may take up the thread of the history where we left it, at the close of the period of steady progress from the fifth to the end of the eighth century, when the language of Ireland was being developed and her schools were the most frequented in Northern Europe. In the beginning of the ninth century a new state of things was ushered in, and a change took place in the hitherto unmolested condition of the Church. Ireland became the battlefield of the first struggle between paganism and Christianity in Western Europe; and the result of the effort then made in defense of her faith is marked in the ecclesiastical architecture of the country by the apparently simultaneous erection of a number of lofty towers, rising in strength of "defense and faithfulness of watch" before the doorways of those churches most liable to be attacked. For seven centuries Christianity had steadily advanced in Western Europe. At first silent and unseen, we feel how wondrously it grew, until, in the reign of Charlemagne, it became an instrument in the hands of one whose mission was to strengthen his borders against the heathen, and to establish a Christian monarchy.
Dense as is the obscurity in which the cause of the wanderings and ravages of the Scandinavian Vikings is enveloped, yet the result of the investigations hitherto made upon the subject is, that they were in a great measure consequent on the conquests of Charlemagne in the north of Germany, and on the barrier which he thereby-as well as by the introduction of Christianity-set to their onward march. It can scarcely be attributed to accident that with the gradual strengthening of the Frankish dominion the
hordes of Northmen descended on the British Islands in ever-increasing numbers. The policy of Charlemagne in his invasion of Saxony, A.D. 772, and the energy by which he succeeded in driving his enemies beyond the Elbe and to the German Ocean, were manifestly directed and intensified by religious zeal. The Saxons were still heathens, and the first attack made by the Frankish king was on the fortress of Eresbourg, where stood the temple of Irminsul, the great idol of the nation.
We read that he laid waste their temples, and their idols were broken in pieces. "He built monasteries and churches, founded bishoprics, and filled Saxony with priests and missionaries. For some years previously the countries between the Elbe, Upper Saxony, the German Ocean, and the Baltic, had been devastated by the Frankish army, the population flying into Denmark and the north, and the war of Charlemagne," writes Mr. Haliday, "was now a crusade. Its object was alike to conquer and convert. The military and religious habits were united in his camp, which was the scene of martial exercises, solemn processions, and public prayers; and the clergy who crowded round his standard participated in the objects and results of his victories." The war thus entered upon leads us to that point in the history of the Western Church when the religion of Christ is first met by a mighty revulsion arising in the mingled grandeur and gloom of all that is great and all that is false in the spirit of ancient heathenism, when the flood, driven backwards into the northern seas, first heaved its mighty volume of resistant waters, and broke in a great wave upon the Irish shore.
However it may appear from ancient authorities that for some centuries before the Scandinavians had occasionally infested the southern shores of Europe, yet in the added light that is cast by the Irish annals upon the subject we perceive that from this date their piratical incursions afford evidence not before met with of preconcerted plan and insistent energy; and these events in the reign of Charlemagne may lead us to discover what was the strong impulse that thus tended in some measure to condense and concentrate their desultory warfare. Impelled by some strong, overmastering passion, these hordes of northern warriors held on from year to year their aveng
ing march; and such was the fury of their arms that even now, after a lapse of a thousand years, their deeds are held in appalling remembrance throughout Europe, not only in every city on the sea-shore or on the river, but even in the peasant traditions of the smallest inland village. "Wheresoever," says Mr. Laing, "this people from beyond the pale and influence of the old Roman Empire and of the later Church empire of Rome, either settled, mingled, or marauded, they have left permanent traces in society of their laws, institutions, character, and spirit. Pagan and barbarian as they were, they seemed to have carried with them something more natural, something more suitable to the social wants of man, than the laws and institutions formed under the Roman power."
But when all has been said that can be for the invigorating influence of their energy and the enkindling spark they are held to have borne with them of a free social existence, in which men might have a voice in their government and in the enactment of their laws, it must still be borne in mind that at the period when Ireland was the scene of this struggle, and indeed for two centuries later, the faith of these Northmen was idolatry, and there is no proof that they possessed the knowledge of letters. In contemplating the history of a period which left, as it did, such important traces in the ecclesiastical architecture of North-western Europe, we may pause to consider the two forms of faith that now met face to face in battle. In both these systems we find belief in the immortality of the soul, but the latter is merely based on faith in the potency for good or ill of the embodied forces of nature. "The primary characteristic of this old northland mythology," says Carlyle, is the "impersonation" and "earnest simple recognition of the workings of physical nature, as a thing wholly miraculous, stupendous, and divine"-the recognition of such forces as personal agencies, gods and demons; and in this faith the main result attained was the belief in an inexorable and inflexible destiny which it is useless trying to bend or soften, and that the one thing needful for a man was to be brave. Odin stands the central figure of this Scandinavian religion; Frigga, Freya and Thor attend with a number of minor deities, and throughout the whole mythology vestiges of ancient and general tradition
are to be found. Oracles, divinations, auspices, presages, and lots formed parts of their system. The Christianity by which this religion was confronted may be also said to have preserved vestiges of ancient heathenism; but if we contemplate it in the only fair way to look at any form of faith that is, as revealed to us by its representative men and through the medium of their mind-we behold it as the handmaid of original investigation and discovery. The teachers of Ireland, from the eighth to the tenth century, declared the spherical form of the earth, and the summer solstice in the northern hemispheres, while her astronomers had well-nigh anticipated the theory of Copernicus. We find these ecclesiastics upholding Greek learning and philosophic speculation, asserting the freedom of the will, even at this early date, and still clinging fast to that faith which, more than a century before, had given us the Hymn of Patrick, with its passionate and absorbing devotion to Christ; while in the fearless denunciations of sin poured forth by Columbanus and Kilian upon the rulers in whose power they lay, we see the courageous faith of men ready to lay down their lives in the cause of that moral purity which is involved in our religion.