The presence of gigantic evils in the world with no apparent available means of redressing them, the dead weight of heathenism, and the disturbing influences of speculative Oriental philosophies impressed upon the conscience of the world a despairing pessimism. In the midst of this trial there was a revival of the Platonic philosophy.
The smug missionary who cannot preach the Gospel apart from a wife, mosquito curtains and a cottage piano, and who travels from one station to another in a palanquin borne by sweating natives, does not impress the imagination of an Oriental, and has small chance of making converts. It was possibly much the same with the barbarians who overwhelmed the Roman Empire.
It is not impossible that the comparative failure of the Christian religion in the western world and in the later generations is that it has been trying to be oriental and aristocratic in appealing to what is really a new type of man in the world the scientific and practical type as we see it in the western nations all about us to-day.
The daylight, already much dimmed by the leaves through which it passed, took a hue of singular mildness as it mingled with the azure lustre of the perfumed lamps, and the crimson brightness of the fire in the tall chimney of oriental porphyry.
We shall perhaps best understand this period, and its seeming retrogressions, if we suppose that the average man of the Middle Ages was no more credulous, no more superstitious, than the average Roman of an earlier period or than the average Greek; though the precise complexion of his credulity had changed under the influence of Oriental ideas, as we have just seen illustrated by the narrative of Xiphilinus.
As architects, as designers, as sculptors, as metallurgists, as engravers, as upholsterers, as workers in ivory, as glass-blowers, as embroiderers of dresses, it is evident that they equalled, if they did not exceed, all other Oriental nations. It is the object of the present chapter to give some account of their skill in these various respects.
The ill feeling between the rich and the poor of Novgorod was fomented by his agents; all complaints were required to be made to him; he still further impoverished the rich by the presents and magnificent receptions which his presence among them demanded, and dazzled the eyes of the people by the Oriental state and splendor which had been adopted by the court of Moscow, and which he displayed in their midst.
Then, falling panting, dying, on the Oriental divan, I had meant to die in reality, and dared scarcely move my arms, convinced as I was that I was in my death agony, and somewhat afraid, I must admit, at having succeeded in playing such a nasty trick on Perrin.
But she was fain to confess that the effect of Clara's decorations was very pretty, and she wondered at the care and pains which had evidently been spent on the arrangement of Mrs. Graham's "Liberty rags" and Oriental ware.
"I did not say there was any," she replied, with a smile at his embarrassment. "Only I think there are half a dozen women in the room who could do it better, with a little practice. It isn't as Oriental as I thought it would be." "I cannot say as to that. I know Edith thinks I've gone into the depths of the Orient.