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our knowledge of the household life of our ancestors, of their mechanical arts and appliances, of the practical working of their laws and customs, may easily be trebled and quadrupled by those who will explore where Mr. Hardy points. What can be more curious, for instance, than the notion of artificial bands and feet, in AngloSaxon times? Or more valuable than to trace the progress of the sea-banks, which have wrested so much of England from salt-water?

Mr. Brewer's book is of a widely different kind. The Gemma Ecclesiastica of Giraldus Cambrensis was "the whole duty of a priest" in the Middle Ages ; a manual of practice by an archdeacon of the twelfth century. Written with an especial eye to Wales, it probably paints the Church in somewhat blacker colours than were deserved for other parts.

Written for and presented to no less a pope than Innocent III., it may be taken as a fair view of that clerical tone which is quite distinct from formularies of faith ; and it is thus an invaluable supplement to the decrees of synods. The peculiar character of the author, garrulous, boastful, and quarrelsome, fond of good stories and apt illustrations, makes the book more like a private journal than a grave treatise on divinity. Here we read of a prelate who scandalises the faithful of England by carrying a nun about with him, presumably, of course, for the sake of devout conversation only, but in unwise disregard of St. Paul's conduct toward Thecla. another passage we come on the trace of one of those biblical superstitions which were so common in the Middle Ages; the first chapter of St. John's Gospel being read aloud by the priest, as a charm against ghosts. Luther mentions in his Table-Talk, that the same practice prevailed in Germany, as a preservative from thunderstorms, probably from some confusion of ideas with the name of "the Son of Thunder.” The scepticism of the twelfth century,—when a certain Master Simon, of Tournay, ventured to ask publicly, “How long shall this superstitious sect of Christians and this modern invention endure ?"—is curiously contrasted with the mercy of the early Church, which allowed absolution, as Giraldus tells us, to the most hardened sinner on his death-bed, if he expressed a wish for it, or-in case of his severe illness—if his friends testified to his desire. On the other hand, the stories of priests who commit the worst crimes, sometimes in the most sacred places, would delight Exeter Hall. One narrative of a miraculous judgment on an offender of this sort reads extremely like a case of spontaneous combustion, recorded at a time when there were no theories on the subject (p. 253).

Mr. Shirley's selection of letters illustrative of the reign of Henry III. takes us through the interesting period that succeeded the first confirmation of Magna Charta, when the land was distracted between the aliens who were still powerful in it, the nobles who enjoyed a brief period of anarchy, and the papal legate who was scheming to make himself regent of the kingdom, under the colourable pretext of guardianship to a minor and the son of a vassal. It is strange to think that we were once, through John's baseness, in a fair way to be a State of the Church. The vigour of our governors, the great

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earl marshal, Hubert de Burgh, and Stephen Langton, represented the nation worthily, and saved us. Particularly instructive notices of private war will be found in this volume. Every antiquarian has felt certain that it was a constant form of disorder in the Middle Ages ; but hitherto it has been easier to find instances where it was punished or repressed, than where it ran its course unchecked. Ordericus Vitalis speaks of it as almost unknown. Mr. Austen could only find three instances, and in one of those the offenders were brought to justice. The early letters which Mr. Shirley gives are rich in allusions to it as an habitual abuse. The volume has been carefully edited; and its successor, taking us through the Barons' War, will probably be among the most important publications of the Record Commission.

IV. A Manual of English Literature, historical and critical. With an

Appendix on English Metres. By Thomas Arnold, B.A., formerly Scholar of University College, Oxford, and late Professor of English Literature in the Catholic University of Ireland. London: Longmans, 1862.

It is much to be regretted that we have no history of English literature equal to the interest of the subject and the wants of the student.

Our age has produced historical works of vast research and able criticism ; unfortunately English literature is not their subject

l matter. With the single exception of Hallam, no writer of preemi

. nence has handled the subject ; a proof of the firm hold which the Greek and Latin Classics retain, but a fact which cannot be regarded with complacency. There are some indications that the reproach will not long continue. The help given to the study of our early and heretofore unknown writers by the publications of the Master of the Rolls, and the general conviction that law and modern history ought to form part of all liberal education, will cause the want to be supplied. The subject is a grand one, and why it should have escaped our living historians, who are no less profoundly read in modern than in ancient literature, is not easy to understand.

Of one class of books there is no lack, - of "guide-books,” “ hand-books," " compendiums," "courses,” “ readings,” and “manuals ;” to which class we may apply the words of Lord Bacon, “The opinion of plenty is the causes of want, and the great quantity of books maketh a show rather of superfluity than of lack; which surcharge nevertheless is not to be remedied by making no more books, but by making more good books, which as the serpent of Moses might devour the serpents of the enchanters." We would not undervalue the usefulness of a book because it is elementary. Elementary books are in some sort a necessary evil. Every science has its outlines and framework, and it helps the student greatly when these are correctly

Mr. Arnold's book is a great improvement on any previous one with which we are acquainted. It is scholarly and accurate, bearing


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traces of careful thought and reading; and it makes us regret that it is only what it pretends to be, "a manual.” For we want more than this. We want a history in which the progress and succession of thought, the connexion between our civil history and literature, the growth of that literature from the first dawn to the latest development, the deep searching questions which produced it and of which it is the utterance, should be fully and carefully examined.

There are some distinct features in our literature, a right understanding of which is indispensable to the study of it, and which such a work would bring prominently forward. We refer, first of all, to the various foreign sources from which so much of it, in all that pertains to form and expression, is derived. In geographical position, in national institutions, in social life, in individual character, we are a most insular people; but our literature is least insular; as though in the sphere of thought the lines which separate nation from nation were unknown, and one purpose and inspiration made all men kin. It is not too much to say that our four great schools of poetry, of which Chaucer; Spenser, Shakespeare, and Milton; Pope; Scott and Wordsworth are representatives, followed and were formed upon

the parallel schools of Italy, France, and Germany. Nor does this fact, which we take to be the starting-point of all criticism, lessen the glory and greatness of our poets. In Chaucer these foreign influences are most plainly manifest. His earlier poems (The Assembly of Foules, The Flower and the Leaf, The Court of Love, Chaucer's Dreme, Romaunce of the Rose) represent the Provençal and French Trouvères schools ; his later and more memorable works (The Canterbury Tales, Troylus and Crescide) owe their subject matter to the masterpieces of Italian literature of the fourteenth century. But the glory of Chaucer is not dimmed because the stores of antiquity were opened to him by Italian students. If he drew the outline from “the Laureat Poete," or from Boccaccio, it was out of the rich fulness of his own genius and observation that he filled up the picture with the manners, deeds, and passions of his countrymen. He was not less an English poet because he had learned all that the poets of his time could teach him ; indeed, he had read, as few men have done since, the very hearts and lives of Englishmen.

Italian influences are no less apparent in the second great period of English poetry, which begins with Surrey and Wyat and culminates in Milton. Puttenham in his Art of Poesie, 1589, says of the two former in a well-known passage quoted by Hallam (Literary History, i. 430, fifth edition), that “having travailed into Italy, and there tasted the sweet and stately measures and style of the Italian poesie, as novices newly crept out of the schools of Dante, Ariosto, and Petrarch, they greatly polished our rude and homely manner of vulgar poesie from that it had bene before.” Educated Italians to whom Shakespeare and Milton are as familiar as their own poets, would readily admit that in the higher gifts of imagination and truth to nature the English poets are more than equal to their own. The melody of the noble Tuscan, without diminishing the vigour, smoothed the roughness of a tongue destined to utter truths that would speak to the hearts of Italians, as well as of Englishmen, for all time.

It is well known how strongly French influences acted upon the poets of the Restoration and the time immediately following, and how the revival of German literature in Lessing, Goethe, and Schiller, contributed to awaken that more natural and truer poetry which belongs to our century. Each one of these four periods is marked with its own distinctive character, can boast of its own excellences, is necessary to complete what without it would be wanting to the ensemble of English poetry. The freshness and simplicity of the first, the strong national and yet no less universal interest of the second, the elaborate skill and polish of the third, and the high aim and aspirations of the last, could ill be spared from our literature. Nor ought we to omit the influence exercised by the Neapolitan Marini* over many of our poets, e.g. Donne, Cowley, and Waller. It is Milton's praise to have been unaffected by his and their example. He is eminently free from the borrowed conceits, whimsical comparisons, “poetical punning, and research,” which disfigure the best pieces of his contemporaries.

We think that a history of English literature should examine the causes of the periodical character of that literature. Why, e.g. is there such a void between Chaucer and Spenser? In that long time, no work appeared worthy to be compared with what preceded and followed, and the absence of which would be missed by any but

professional students. It is instructive to find the same void in Italian literature. Sismondi (Histoire des Republiques Italiennes, vol. viii. c. lvii. p. 5) observes of the Italian literature which rose and set with the fourteenth century, that all at once the Muses are silent, and at the close of the century not one genius remained to do honour to his mother tongue, which seemed already exhausted, and to need a century of repose, before being employed upon new creations. “ L'antiquité avait été découverte ; et, dans un saint respect pour elle, on avait voulu lui faire occuper la place du temps présent : l'étude des langues mortes avait tout-à-coup suspendu la vie chez cette nation, si prompte à prendre des formes nouvelles.” The wars with France, followed by the swift retribution of our thirty years' civil war, partly explain the silence of the fifteenth century in England. The shaking of men's minds, by the innovating spirit in politics and religion, which called forth the Reformation, the changing of the old order of received opinions concerning the ground on which truth rested and the authority on which it was to be received breathed new life into the first half of the sixteenth century; but it was not a life which spent itself upon literature. Again, the opening of the treasures of Greek literature and the new and engrossing study of ancient authors tended to overlay, rather than to quicken, for a time at least, original thought. Mr. Arnold has rightly called the fifteenth century a time of active preparation

• “The celebrated innovator on classic Italian taste, who first seduced the poets of the seventeenth century into that laboured and affected style, which his own richness and vivacity of imagination were so well calculated to recommend,” as Sismondi (Literature of the S. of Europe, Roscoe, vol. ii. 262) describes him.

in every country of Europe, and “the first two-thirds of the sixteenth century fall under the same description." England was behind France and Italy in the extent of her knowledge of antiquity. She needed to meditate, to assimilate to herself what had become the world's literary possession. The arrival and great outburst of her literature could not fail to follow the discussion and settlement, at least for that generation, of the more serious questions concerning faith and righte


Another feature of our literary history equally claims attention, None of our great poets stands alone. Each one is the sun of a poetic system. Chaucer was surrounded with Gower, Occleve, Lydgate, whose lesser light has been obscured, if not quenched, for posterity by the greater light of his. But no age is so remarkable for the number of its choice and master spirits as that between 1590 and 1620—the age which saw the publication of the Faerie Queene, the plays of Shakespeare, Hooker's Ecclesiastical Polity, and Bacon's Essays. There is another great gathering in the reign of Anne. Pope, Swift, Dryden, Steele, and Addison make up one, however divided, household.

Mr. Arnold has not overlooked these features of our history : we think he has hardly given them sufficient attention. Some passages of his manual we have found faulty and incomplete. In his review of the Norman period, he comes across the venerable Anselm, and he is scarcely just to him. Whether Anselm founded scholasticism or not, whether his method of reasoning originated with himself or not, he was unquestionably the first great theologian of the medieval church, the first who opened the door of inquiry, and who tried to prove as a logician truths which he loved and believed as a Christian. His theories to explain the Atonement, the Trinity, and the existence of God, survive to this day, and in some systems of theology have been incorporated with Christianity itself. It is strange that Mr. Arnold does not even mention Anselm's striking thought, that the fact of our being able to conceive the existence of God is the sure proof of his existence : the thought which,“ with no knowledge of its medieval origin, forced itself on Descartes, was reasserted by Leibnitz, if not rejected, was thought insufficient by Kant, revived in another form by Schelling and by Hegel, latterly has been discussed with singular fulness and originality by M. de Rémusat” (Milman's History of Latin Christianity, iii. 250, second edition, 1857).

Mr. Arnold depreciates the literary worth of Wycliffe's writings. “ Wycliffe cannot be said to have contributed to the progress of our literature, or aided to polish our language.” If Mr. Arnold will compare Wycliffe's translation of the 21st chapter of St. Luke with that of our Authorised Version (to the literary excellence of which Version Mr. Arnold cannot be insensible, although in a manual of English literature he has passed it by without even a notice), he will find how great is the likeness between the language of the one and that of the other, how much the one is indebted to the other. Some critics will perhaps detect in Mr. Arnold's book an undercurrent of disesteein towards the great Anglican divines. We shall only complain that Mr. Arnold is content

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