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reformers of the sixteenth century by his portrait of the good parson.

sent themselves as they might, and Then they hit upon order, it was ignoantly and involuntarily. Here for the first time appears a superiority of intellect, which at the instant of conception suddenly halts, rises above itself passes judgment, and says to itsel This phrase tells the same thing as the last- remove it; these WO ideas are disjointed-connect hem; this description is feeble-reconsider it." When a man can speak thus he has an idea, not learned in the schools, but personal and practical, of the human mind, its process and needs, and of things also, their composition and combinations; he has a style, that is, he is capable of making every thing understood and seen by the human mind. He can extract from every object, landscape, situation, character, the special and significant marks, so as to group and arrange them, in order to compose an artificial work which surpasses the natural work in its purity and completeness. He is capable, as Chaucer was, of seeking out in the old common forest of the middle ages, stories and legends, to replant them in his own soil, and make them send out new shoots. He has the right and the power, as Chaucer had, of copying and translating, because by dint of retouching he impresses on his translations and copies his original mark; he recreates what he imitates, because through or by the side of worn-out fancies and monotonous stories, he can display, as Chaucer did, the charming ideas of an amiable and elastic mind, the thirty master-forms of the fourteenth century, the splendid freshness of the verdurous landscape and spring time of England. He is not far from conceiving an idea of truth and fe. He is on the brink of independent thought and fertile discovery. This was Chaucer's position. At the distance of a century and a half, he has affinity with the poets of Elizabeth by his gallery of pictures, and with the

Affinity merely. He advanced a few steps beyond the threshold of h.s art, but he paused at the end of the vestibule./He half opens the great door of the temple, but does not take his seat there; at most, he sat down in it only at intervals. / In Arcie and Palamon, in Troilus and Cressida, e sketches sentiments, but does not create characters; he easily and naturally traces the winding course of events and conversations, but does not mark the precise outline of a striking figure. If occasionally, as in the description of the temple of Mars, after the Thebaid of Statius, feeling at his back the glowing breeze of poetry, he draws out his feet, clogged with the mud of the mid dle age, and at a bound stands upon the poetic plain on which Statius imitated Virgil and equalled Lucan, he, at other times, again falls back into the childish gossip of the trouvères, or the dull gabble of learned clerks-to" Dan Phebus or Apollo-Delphicus." Else. where, a commonplace remark on art intrudes in the midst of an impassioned description. He uses three thousand verses to conduct Troilus to his first interview. He is like a precocious and poetical child, who mingles in his lovedreams quotations from his grammar and recollections of his alphabet.* / Even in the Canterbury Tales he repeats himself, unfolds artless developments, forgets to concentrate his passion or his idea. He begins a jest, and scarcely ends it. He dilutes a bright coloring in a monotonous stanza. His voice is like that of a boy breaking into man hood. At first a manly and firm accent is maintained, then a shrill sweet sound shows that his growth is no. finished. and that his strength is subject to weakness. Chaucer sets out as if to quit the middle age; but in the end he is there still. To-day he composes the Canterbury Tales; yesterday he was translating the Roman de la Rose. To-day

* Tennyson, in his Dream of Fair Women, sings:

"Dan Chaucer, the first warbler, whose sweet breath

Preluded those melodious bursts, that fill
The spacious times of great Elizabeth
With sounds that echo still. '—TR.

* Speaking of Cressida, Iv., book i. p. 236 he says:

"Right as our first letter is now an a,
In beautie first so stood she makeles,
Her goodly looking gladed all the prees,
Nas never seene thing to be praised so derre
Nor under cloude blacke so bright a større.”



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into a reflective mood, straightway Saint Thomas, Peter Lombard, the manual of sins, the treatise on define tion and syllogism, the army of the ancients and of the Fathers, descend from their glory, enter his brain, speak in his stead; and the trouvère's pleas ant voice becomes the dogmatic and sleep-inspiring voice of a doctor. In love and satire he has experience, and he invents; in what regards morality and philosophy he has learning, and copies. For an instant, by a solitary leap, he entered upon the close observation and the genuine study of man; he could not keep his ground, he did not take his seat, he took a poetic ex cursion; and no one followed him. The level of the century is lower; he is on it himself for the most part. He is in the company of narrators like Froissart, of elegant speakers like Charles of Orléans, of gossipy and barren verse-writers like Gower, Lydgate, and Occleve There is no fruit, but frail and fleeting blossom, many useless branches, still more dying or dead branches; such is this literature. And why? Because it had no longer a root? after three centuries of effort, a heavy instrument cut it underground. This instrument was the Scholastic Philos ophy.

he is studying the complicated machinery of the heart, discovering the issues of primitive education or of the ruling disposition, and creating the comedy of manners; to-morrow, he will have no pleasure but in curious events, smooth allegories, amorous discussions, imitated from the French, or learned moralities from the ancients. Alternately he is an observer and a trouvère; instead of the step he ought to have advanced, he has but made a halfstep. Who has prevented him, and the others who surround him? We meet with the obstacle in the tales he has translated of Melibeus, of the Parson, in his Testament of Love; in short, so long as he writes verse, he is at his ease; as soon as he takes to prose, a 3ort of chain winds around his feet and stops him. His imagination is free, and his reasoning a slave. The rigid scholastic divisions, the mechanical manner of arguing and replying, the ergo, the Latin quotations, the authority of Aristotle and the Fathers, come and weigh down his budding thought. His native invention disap pears under the discipline imposed. The servitude is so heavy, that even in the work of one of his contemporaries, the Testament of Love, which, for a long time, was believed to be written by Chaucer, amid the most touching plaints and the most smarting pains, the beautiful ideal lady, the heavenly Beneath every literature there is a 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 idea leads the poet. Whether the authing 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 LoneWhat can talent, even feeling, end, he fashions, like the events which he 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 truths and new doctrines could be raises and combines them. Under found and proved, when in a moral lying Homer appears the noble life of tale, like that of Melibeus and his wife heroic paganism and of happy Greece. Prudence, it was thought necessary to 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

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mines the one, undermines the other. | and valiant 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 produce 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, deprived ci the craving to express allimportant thoughts, copy, sink into silence, or rave.

What has become of these all-important thoughts. What labor worked them out? What studies nourished .nem ?

The sys

For consider the questions which they treat of. They seem to be march ing, but are merely marking_ime. People would say, to see them moi! and toil, that they will educe from heart and brain some great original creed, and yet all belief was imposed The laborers did not lack upon them from the outset. zeal. In the twelfth century the ener- tem was made; they could only argy of their minds was admirable. At 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 and 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 carwas devoured. The only question pre-ried into the field of action. Whether sented to them, that of universals, so abstract and dry, so embarrassed by Arabic obscurities and Greek subtilties, during centuries, was seized upon eagerly. Heavy and awkward as was the instrument supplied to them, I mean syllogism, they made themselves masters of it, rendered it still more heavy, plunged in into every object and in every direction. They constructed monstrous books, in great numbers, cathedrals of syllogism, of unheard of architecture, of prodigious finish, heightened in effect by intensity of intellectual power, which the whole um of human labor has only twice been able to match.* These young

* Under Proclus and under Hegel. Duns Scotus, at the age of thirty-one, died, leaving beside his sermons and commentaries, twelve folio volumes, in a small close handwriting, in a style like Hegel's, on the same subject as Proclus treats of. Similarly with Saint Thomas and the whole train of schoolmen. No idea can be formed of such a labor before handling the books themselves.


the divine essence engendered the Son, or was engendered by the Father; why the three persons together are greater than one alone; attributes determine persons, not substance, that is, nature; how properties can exist in the nature of God, and not determine it; if created spirits are local and can be circumscribed; if God can know more things than He is aware of; " *-these are the ideas which they moot: what truth could issue thence? From kand to hand the chimera grows, and spreads wider its gloomy wings. "Can God cause that, the place and body being retained, the body shall have no position, that is, existence in place?Whether the impossiblity of being engendered is a constituent property of the First Person of the Trinity-Whether identity, similitude, and equality are real relations in God." + Duns

* Peter Lombard, Book of Sentences. It was the classic of the middle age

↑ Duns Scotus. ed. 1639.

think; for he who speaks of thought speaks of an effort at invention, an in dividual creation, an energetic action. They recite a lesson, or sing a cate chism; even in paradise,even in ecstasy and the divinest raptures of love, Danté thinks himself bound to show an exact memory and a scholastic orthodoxy How then 'th the rest? Some like Raymond Lully, set about inventing an instrument of reasoning to serve in place of the understanding. About the fourteenth century, under the blows of Occam, this verbal science began to totter; they saw that its entities were only words; it was discredited. In 1367, at Oxford, of thirty thousand students, there remained six thousand; they still set their "Barbara and Felapton," but only in the way of routine. Each one in turn mechani cally traversed the petty region of threadbare cavils, scratched himself in the briars of quibbles, and burdened himself with his bundle of texts; noth ing more. The vast body of science which was to have formed and vivified the whole thought of man, was reduced to a text-book.


Scotus distinguishes three kinds of | Under is constraint mer ceased to matter: matter which is firstly first, secondly first, thirdly first. According to him, we must clear this triple hedge of my abstractions in order to understand the production of a sphere of brass. Under such a regimen, imbecility soon makes its appearance. Saint Thomas himself corsiders, "whether the body of Christ arose with its wounds,-whether this body moves with the motion of the host and the chalice in consecration, whether at the first instant of conception Christ had the use of free judgment,-whether Christ was slain by Himself or by another?" Do you think you are at the limits of human folly? Listen. He considers "whether the dove in which the Holy Spirit appeared was a real animal,-whether a glorified body can occupy one and the same place at the same time as another glorified body,-whether in the state of innocence all children were masculine?" I pass over others as to the digestion of Christ, and some still more untranslatable.* This is the point reached by the most esteemed doctor, the most judicious mind, the Bossuet of the middle age. Even in this ring of inanities the answers are laid down. Roscellinus and Abelard were excommunicated, exiled, imprisoned, because they swerved from it. There is a complete minute dogma which closes all issues; there is no means of escaping; after a hundred wriggles and a hundred efforts, you must come and tumble into a formula. If by mysticism you try to fly over their heads, if by experience you endeavor to creep beneath, powerful talons await you at your exit. The wise man passes for a ragician, the enlightened man for a heretic. The Waldenses, the Catharists, the dis-outstripping Spain, after displaying the ciples of John of Parma, were burned; Roger Bacon died only just in time, otherwise he might have been burned. * Utrum angelus diligat se ipsum dilectione naturali vel electiva? Utrum in statu innocentiæ fuerit generatio per coitum ? Utrum omnes fuissent nati in sexu masculino? Utrum cog; nitio angeli posset dici matutina et vespertina? Utrum martyribus aureola debeatur? Utrum virgo Maria fuerit virgo in concipiendo Utrum remanserit virgo post partum? The reader may look out in the text the reply to these last two questions. (S. Thomas, Summa Theolo gica, ed. 1677.


So, little by little, the conception which fertilized and ruled all others, dried up; the deep spring, whence flowed all poetic streams, was found empty; science furnished nothing more to the world. What further works could the world produce Spain, later on, renewing the middleage, after having shone splendidly and foolishly by her chivalry and devotion, by Lope de Vega and Calderon, Loyola and St. Theresa, became enervated through the Inquisition and through casuistry, and ended by sinking into a brutish silence; so the middle age,

senseless heroism of the crusades, an ! the poetical ecstasy of the cloister, a.. ter producing chivalry and saintship Francis of Assisi, St. Louis, and Dante languished under the Inquisition and the scholastic learning, and be ame extinguished in idle raving and inanity

*The Rev. Henry Anstey, in his Introduc tion to Munimenta Academica, Lond., 1868 says that "the statement of Richard of Armagh that there were in the thirteenth century 30,000 scholars at Oxford is almost inc edible." xlviii.-TR.


Must we quote all these good peo- | ple who speak without having any thing to say? You may find them in Warton; * dozens of translators, importing the poverties of French literatare, and imitating imitations; rhyming chroniclers, most commonplace of men, whom we only read because we must accept history from every quarter, even from imbeciles; spinners and spinsters of didactic poems, who pile up verses on the training of falcors, on heraldry, on chemistry; editors of moralities, who invent the same dream over again for the hundredth time, and get themselves taught universal history by the goddess Sapience. Like the writers of the Latin decadence, these folk only think of copying, compiling, abridging, constructing in textbooks, in rhymed memoranda, the encyclopedia of their times.

Lis.en to the most illustrious, the grave Gower-"morall Gower," as he was called! Doubtless here and there he contains a remnant of brilliancy and grace. He is like an old secretary of a Court of Love, André le Chapelain or any other, who would pass the day in solemnly registering the sentences of ladies, and in the evening, partly asleep on his desk, would see in a halfdream their sweet smile and their beautiful eyes.‡ The ingenious but exhausted vein of Charles of Orléans still flows in his French ballads. He has the same fondling delicacy, almost a little affected. The poor little poetic spring flows yet in thin transparent streamlets over the smooth pebbles, and murmurs with a babble, pretty, but so low that at times you cannot near it. But dull is the rest! His great poem, Confessio Amantis, is a dialogue between a lover and his confessor, imitated chiefly from Jean de Meung, having for object, like the Roman de la Rose, to explain and classify the impediments of love. The superannuated theme is always reappearing, covered by a crude erudition. You will find here an exposition of hermetic science, lectures on the philosophy of Aristotle, a treatise on

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politics, a litany fancient and modern legends gleaned from the compilers, marred in the passage by the pedantry of the schools and the ignorance of the age. It is a cart-load of scholastic rubbish; the sewer tumbles upon this feeble spirit, which of itself was flowing clearly, but now, obstructed by tiles, bricks, plaster, ruins from all quarters of the globe, drags on darkened and sluggish. Gower, one of the most learned of his time, supposed that Latin was invented by the old prophetess Carmentis; that the grammarians, Aristarchus, Donatus, and Didymus, regulated its syntax, pronunciation, and prosody; that it was adorned by Cicero with the flowers of eloquence and rhetoric; then enriched by translations from the Arabic, Chaldæan, and Greek; and that at last, after much lab of celebrated writers, it attained its final perfection in Ovid, the poet of love. Elsewhere he discovers that Ulysses learned rhetoric from Cicero, magic from Zoroaster, astronomy from Ptol emy, and philosophy from Plato. And what a style! so long, so dull,† so drawn out by repetitions, the mos minute details, garnished with references to his text, like a man who, with his eyes glued to his Aristotle and his Ovid, a slave of his musty parchments, can do nothing but copy and string his rhymes together. Schoolboys even ir old age, they seem to believe that every truth, all wit, is in their great woodbound books; that they have no need to find out and invent for themselves; that their whole business is to repeat; that this is, in fact, man's business. The scholastic system had enthroned the dead letter, and peopled the world with dead understandings.

After Gower come Occleve and Lydgate. "My father Chaucer would willingly have taught me," says Oc cleve, "but I was dull, and learned little or nothing." He paraphrased in verse a treatise of Egidius, on government; these are moralities. There are others, on compassion, after Augus tine, and on the art of dying; then love tales; a letter from Cupid, dated

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