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Notwithstanding the ill success of the crusades, the East long continued to be, for the nations of Europe, the country of religion and glory: they turned their eyes incessantly towards that bright sun, towards those palms of Idumea, towards those plains of Rama, where the infidels reposed in the shade of the olive-trees planted by Baldwin, towards those fields of Ascalon which still retained traces of Godfrey of Bouillon, of Couci, of Tancred, of Philip Augustus, of RichardCaur-de-Lion, of St. Louis, towards that Jerusalem delivered for a moment, but fallen again into her bondage, and which appeared to them, as to Jeremiah, insulted by the passenger, drowned in tears, deprived of her people, seated in solitude.
Such were those ages of imagination and of vigour, which moved on with all these accompaniments, amidst events the most diversified, amidst heresies, schisms, and wars, feudal, civil, and foreign ; those ages doubly favourable to genius, either by the solitude of the cloister, when that was sought, or by a world the most strange and the most varied, when this was preferred to solitude. There was not a spot where some new circumstance was not occurring, for each lordship, lay or ecclesiastic, was a little state, moving in its own orbit, and having its different phases ; at ten leagues' distance, customs were totally dissimilar.
This order of things, extremely detrimental to general civilization, imparted an extraordinary impulsion to the individual mind; hence all the great discoveries belonged to those ages. Never did the individual live so much ; the sovereign dreamt of the aggrandisement of his dominions, the noble of the conquest of his neighbour's fiet, the citizen of the extension of his privileges, the merchant of new channels for his trade. People were not thoroughly acquainted with any thing, they had not penetrated to the bottom of any thing, they believed everything, they were at the entrance, at the threshold, of all hopes, in like manner as a traveller upon a mountain awaits the return of day-light, when he perceives its harbinger the dawn. They made researches into the past as well as the future; they felt the same joy on discovering an old manuscript and a new world ; they proceeded with rapid steps towards unknown destinies, as in youth we have all our lives before us. The infancy of those ages was barbarism, their maturity full of passion and energy, and they have left behind them a rich inheritance to the civilized ages which they bore in their fertile womb.