1883 the honored head of the great scientific establishment from which he had once been driven with indignity.
Forced, by the publication of the Vie de Jésus, into the arena of religious conflict, Renan never stooped to polemics. He kept the quiet of his thoughts, untouched by all this wrangling; and he continued to speak of Christianity and the Catholic Church with the same even fairness—I may say more, with the same respectful though independent sympathy. The English public had an opportunity of appreciating these high qualities of intellectual liberty and calm when, in 1880, he gave his Hibbert lectures on Rome and Christianity, and another admirable lecture on Marcus Aurelius, at the Royal Institution—a lecture in which he anticipated the generalization of the last and finest volume of his Origines du Christianisme.
The year 1870 marks an important epoch in the life of Renan. It was, indeed, the year of a new crisis. From the moment when he emancipated himself from his first foster-mother, the Church, and from his ecclesiastical education, Germany had been the second foster-mother of his mind. As he had broken with the Church without ceasing to recognize her greatness and the services she had rendered, and still renders, to the world, so now he suffered, not without pain, the relaxation—almost the rupture—of the moral ties which bound him to Germany; but he never repudiated the debt of gratitude he owed her, nor ever sought to depreciate her virtues and her merits. He gives eloquent expression to his feelings in his letters to Dr. Strauss in 1871, in his speech on his reception into the French Academy, and in his letter to a German friend in 1878. At the same time a new development took place in his political conceptions. An aristocrat by temperament, and a constitutional monarchist in opinion, he found himself called to live in a democratic society and under a republic. Convinced as he was that the great movements of history have their real origin in the very nature of things, and that one can influence one's contemporaries and one's compatriots only by accepting the tendencies and conditions of the time, he was able to reconcile himself to the democracy and the republic, and to appreciate their advantages without ignoring their difficulties and their dangers.
Henceforth, therefore, Renan was in full possession of his powers and in full harmony with his time. Emancipated from the Church, he was the interpreter of free thought in its loftiest and most learned form, in a country which regarded clericalism as the most formidable enemy of its new institutions. Emancipated from Germany, and finding in the very misfortunes of his country a stimulus and a spur to his patriotism, he sought to make his writings the most perfect expression of the genius of France. Emancipated from all the fetters of extinct political systems, he