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sent themselves as they might, and reformers of the sixteenth century by
ideas are lisjointed – connect Palamon, in Troilus and Cressida, de
x of display, as Chaucer did, the charming his idea. He begins a jest, and scarcely ideas of an amiable and elastic mind, ends it. He dilutes a bright coloring the thirty master-forms of the four- in a monotonous stanza. ( His voice is teenth century, the splendid freshness like that of a boy breaking into man: of the verdurous landscape and spring- hood. At first a manly and firm accent
acme time of England. He is not far from is maintained, then a shrill sweet sound conceiving an idea of truth and fe. shows that his growth is nou finished. He is on the brink of inde pendent and that his strength is subject to thought and fertile discovery. This weakness. Chaucer sets out as if to was Chaucer's position. At the dis- quit the middle age; but in the end he tance of a century and a half, he has is there still. /To-day he composes the affinity with the poets of Elizabeth * | Canterbury Tales ; yesterday he was by his gallery of pictures, and with the translating the Roman de la Rose. Today
* Tennyson, in his Dream of Fair Women, * Speaking of Cressida, iv., book i. p. 236
In beautie first so stood she makeles,
Nas never seene thing to be praised so derry
Nor under cloude blacke so bright a storre."
he is studying the complicated machin-into a reflective mood, straightway
the beautiful ideal lady, the heavenly Beneath every literature there is hader
mediator who appears in a vision, philosophy. Beneath every work of Love, sets her theses, establishes that! art is an idea of nature and of life; this the cause of a cause is the cause of the j idea leads the poet. Whether the au. thing caused, and reasons as pedanti- thor knows it or not, he writes in order
cally as they would at Oxford. In to exhibit it; and the characters which come le what can talent, even feeling, end, he fashions, like the events which he nath
when it is kept down by such shack- arranges, only serve to bring to light
les ? What succession of original | the dim creative conception which Enamin traths and new doctrines could be raises and combines them. ( nder
found and proved, when in a moral lying Homer appears the noble l.fe of tale, like that of Melibeus and his wife heroic paganism and of happy Greece. Prudence, it was thought necessary 10 Underlying Dante, the sad and violent establish a formal controversy, to quote life of fanatical Catholicism and of the Seneca and Job, to forbid tears, to bring much-hating Italians. From either we forward the weeping Christ to authorize might draw a theory of man and of the tears, to enumerate every proof, to call beautiful. It is so with others; and in Solomon, Cassiodorus, and Cato; this is how, according to the variations, in short, to write a book for schools ? the birth, blossom, decline, or slug The public cares only for pleasant and gishness of the master-idea, literature lively thoughts ; not serious and gene- varies, is born, flourishes, degenerates, ral ideas; these latter are for a special comes to an end. Whoever plants the class only. As soon as Chaucer gets one, plants the other whoever under
mines the one, undermines the other. I and va.iant minds thought they had Place in all the minds of any age a found the temple of truth; they rushec new grand idea of nature and life, so at it headlong, in legions, breaking in that they feel and į roduce it with their the doors, chambering over the walls, whole heart and strength, and you will leaping into the interior, and so found see them, seized with the craving to themselves at the bottom of a moat. express it, invent forms of art and Three centuries of labor at the bottom groups of figures. Take away from of this black moat added not one idea these minds every grand new idea of to the human mind. nature and life, and you will see them, For consider the questions which deprived ci the craving to express all- they treat of. They seem to be march important thoughts, copy, sink into ing, but are merely marking ime. silence, or rave.
People would say, to see them moi! What has become of these all-impor. and toil, that they will educe from want thoughts. What labor worked heart and brain some great original them out? What studies nourished creed, and yet all belief was imposed .nem? The laborers did not lack upon them from the outset.
The sys zeal. In the twelfth century the ener- tem was made ; they could only argy of their minds was admirable. Atj range and comment upon it. The conOxford there were thirty thousand ception comes not from them, but scholars. No building in Paris could from Constantinople. Infinitely comcontain the crowd of Abelard's disci- plicated and subtle as it is, the supreme ples ; when he retired to solitude, they work of Oriental mysticism 1d Greek accompanied him in such a multitude, metaphysics, so disproportioned to that the desert became a town. No their young understanding, they exhaust difficulty repulsed them. There is a themselves to reproduce it, and more story of a young boy, who, though over burden their unpractised hands beaten by his master, was wholly bent with the weight of a logical instrument on remaining with him, that he might which Aristotle created for theory and still learn. When the terrible ency- not for practice, and which ought to clopedia of Aristotle was introduced, have remained in a cabinet of philosothough disfigured and unintelligible, it phical curiosities, without being ever car. was devoured. The only question pre- ried into the field of action. Whether sented to them, that of universals, so the divine essence engendered the Son, abstract and dry, so embarrassed by or was engendered by the Father ; why Arabic obscurities and Greek subtilties, the three persons together are during centuries, was seized upon greater than one alone ; attributes de. eagerly. Heavy and awkward as was termine persons, not substance, that is, the instrument supplied to them, i nature; how properties can exist in the mean syllogism, they made themselves nature of God, and not determine it ; masters of it, rendered it still more if created spirits are local and can be heavy, plunged in into every object( circumscribed; if God can know more and in every direction. They con- things than Hé is aware of; ” *-these structed monstrous books, in great are the ideas which they moot: what numbers, cathedrals of syllogism, of truth could issue thence? From hand unheard of architecture, of prodigious to hand the chimera grows, and spreads finish, heightened in effect by intensity wider its gloomy wings. “ Can God of intellectual power, which the whole cause that, the place and body being um of human labor has only twice retained, the body shall have no pozibeen able to match.* These young tion, that is, existence in place ?
Whether the impossiblity of being en• Under Proclus and under Hegel. Dụns gendered is a constituent property of scotus, at the age of thirty-one, died, leaving the First Person of the Trinity-beside his sermons and commentaries, twelve folio rolumes, in a small close handwriting, in Whether identity, similitude, and equal. d styre like Hegel's, on the same subject as ity are real relations in God.” | Dung Proclus treats of. Similarly with Saint Thomas and the whole train of schoolmen. No idea * Peter Lombard, Book of Sentences. I: was can be formed of such a labor before handling the classic of the middle age the books themselves.
# Duns Scotus. ed. 1639.
Scotus distinguishes three kinds of | Under í uis constraint mer. ceased to matter: matter which is firstly first, think; für he who speaks of thought secondly first, thirdly first. According speaks of an effort at invention, an in to hini, we must clear this triple hedge dividual creation, an energetic actior. ofisiny abstractions in order to un- They recite a lesson, or sing a cate derstand the production of a sphere chism ; even in paradise, even in ecstasy of brass. Under such a regimen, and the divinest raptures of love, Dante imbecility soon makes its appear- thinks himself bound to show an exact ance. Saint Thomas himself corsiders, memory and a scholastic orthodoxy “whether the body of Christ arose How then e'th the rest ? Some like with its wounds-whether this body Raymond Lully, set about inventing an moves with the motion of the host instrument of reasoning to serve in and the chalice in consecration, place of the understanding. About 1.he whether at the first instant of concep- fourteenth century, under the blows of ciun Christ had the use of free judg. Occam, this verbal science began to ment,- whether Christ was slain by totter; they saw that its entities were Hinsself or by another?” Do you only words; it was discredited. In think you are at the limits of human | 1367, at Oxford, of thirty thousand folly ? Listen. He considers “whether students, there remained six thouthe dove in which the Holy Spirit ap- sand ;* they still set their “ Barbara peated was a real animal, whether a and Felapton,” but only in the way of glorified body can occupy one and the routine. X Each one in turn mechani. same place at the same time as another cally traversed the petty region of glorified body,—whether in the state threadbare cavils, scratched himself in of innocence all children were mascu- the briars of quibbles, and burdened line?” I pass over others as to the himself with his bundle of texts ; nothdigestion of Christ, and some still ing more. The vast body of science more untranslatable.* This is the point which was to have formed and vivified reached by the most esteemed doctor, the whole thought of man, was reduced the most judicious mind, the Bossuet to a text-book. X of the middle age. Even in this ring So, little by little, the conception of inanities the answers are laid down. which fertilized and ruled all others, Roscellinus and Abelard were excom- dried up; the deep spring, whence municated, exiled, imprisoned, because fowed all poetic streams, was found they swerved from it. There is a com- empty; science furnished nothing plete minute dogma which closes all more to the world. What further issues; there is no means of escaping; works could the world produce y As after a hundred wriggles and a hundred Spain, later on, renewing the middleefforts, you must come and tumble age, after having shone splendidly and into a formula. If by mysticism you foolishly by her chivalry and devotion, try ts Ay over their heads, if by experi- by Lope de Vega and Calderon, Loyola ence you endeavor to creep beneath, and St. Theresa, became enervated powerful talons await you at your exit. through the Inquisition and through The wise man passes for a reagician, casuistry, and ended by sinking into a the enlightened man for a heretic. brutish silence ; so the middle age, The Waldenses, the Catharists, the dis- outstripping Spain, after displaying the ciples of John of Parma, were burned ; senseless heroism of the crusades, an} Roger Bacon died only just in time, the poetical ecstasy of the cloister, a.. otherwise he might have been burned. ter producing chivalry and saintship,
* Utrum angelus diligat se ipsum dilectione Francis of Assisi, St. Louis, and Dante saturali vel electi ra? Utrum in statu innocen- languished under the Inquisition and siæ fuerit generatio per coitum? Utrum omnes the scholastic learning, and be ame fuissent nati in sexu masculino? Utrum .cog; extinguished in idle raving and inanity nitio angeli posset dici matutina et vespertina ? Utrum martyribus aureola debeatur?' L'trum * The Rev. Henry Anstey, in his Introduce virgo Maria fuerit virgo in concipiendo. Utrumtion to Munimenta Academica, Lond., 1868 remanserit virgo post partum ? 1 he reader says that “the statement of Richard of Armagh may look out in the text the reply to these last that there were in the thirteenth century 369,00 two questions. (S. Thomas, Šumma Theolo scholars at Oxford is almost inc edible." gica, ed. 1677.)
Must we quote all these good peo- politics, a litany fancient and modern ple who speak without having any legends gleaned from the compilers, thing to say? You may find them in marred in the passage by the pedantry Warton; * dozens of translators, im- of the schools and the ignorance of the porting the poverties of French litera- age. It is a cart-load of scholastic inre, and imitating imitations; rhym- rubbish; the sewer tumbles upon this ing chroniclers, most commonplace of feeble spirit, which of itself was flowing mei, whom we only read because we clearly, but now, obstructed by tiles, caust accept history from every quar: bricks, plaster, ruins from all quarters ter, even from imbeciles; spinners and of the globe, drags on darkened and spinsters of didactic poems, who pile sluggish. Gower, one of the most ap verses on the training of falcors, learned 4 his time,* supposed that on heraldry, on chemistry; editors of Latin was invented by the old prophetmoralities, who invent the same dream ess Carmentis; that the grammarians, over again for the hundredth time, Aristarchus, Donatus, and Didymus, and get themselves taught universal regulated its syntax, pronunciation, and history by the goddess Sapience. Like prosody; that it was adorned by Cicero the writers of the Latin decadence, with the flowers of eloquence and these folk only think of copying, com rhetoric; then enriched by translations piling, abridging, constructing in text- from the Arabic, Chaldæan, and Greek; books, in rhymed memoranda, the en- and that at last, after much lab is of cyclopedia of their times.
celebrated writers, it attained its final Lis.en to the most illustrious, the perfection in Ovid, the poet of love. grave Gower—"morall Gower," as he Elsewhere he discovers that Ulysses was called ! + Doubtless here and there learned rhetoric from Cicero, magic he contains a remnant of brilliancy and from Zoroaster, astronomy from Ptol. grace. He is like an old secretary of emy, and philosophy from Plato. And à Court of Love, André le Chapelain what a style! so long, so dull,t se or any other, who would pass the day drawn out by repetitions, the mos in solemnly registering the sentences minute details, garnished with referof ladies, and in the evening, partly ences to his text, like a man who, with asleep on his desk, would see in a half- his eyes glued to his Aristotle and his dream their sweet smile and their Ovid, a slave of his musty parchments, beautiful eyes. I The ingenious but can do nothing but cop; and string his exhausted vein of Charles of Orléans rhymes together. Schoolboys even ir still flows in his French ballads. He old age, they seem to believe that every has the same fondling delicacy, almost truth, all wit, is in their great wooda little affected. The pour little poetic bound books; that they have no need spring flows yet in thin transparent to find out and invent for themselves; streamlets over the smooth pebbles, that their whole business is to repeat; and murmurs with a babble, pretty, that this is, in fact, man's business. but so low that at times you cannot The scholastic system had enthroned near it. But dull is the rest! His the dead letter, and peopled the world great poem, Confessio Amantis, is a with dead understandings. Jialogue between a lover and his con- After Gower come Occleve and fessor, imitated chiefly from Jean de Lydgate. “My father Chaucer would Meung, having for object, like the willingly have taught me,” says Oc Roman de la Rose, to explain and cleve, but I was dull, and learned classify the impediments of love. little or nothing." He paraphrased in The superannuated theme is always verse a treatise of Egidius, on govern. reappearing, covered by a crude erudi- ment; these are moralities. There are tion. You will find here an exposition others, on compassion, after Augus. of hermetic science, lectures on the tine, and on the art of dying; then philosophy of Aristotle, a treatise on I love tales; a letter from Cupid, dated • History of English Poetry, vol. ii.
• Warton, ii. 240. 1 Contemporary with Chaucer, The Com See, for instance, his description of the fessio A mantis dates from 1393.
sun's crown, the most poetical passage in book * History of Rosiphels. Ballads.
I 1439, 1430