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primacy, they not only prepared the means for diffusing among the ecclesiastics a respectable amount of classical learning, but themselves acquired and have retained high celebrity as theological writers. Lanfranc was chiefly famous for the dialectic dexterity with which he defended the Romish doctrine of the eucharist. Anselm, a singularly original and subtle thinker, is held by many to have been the true founder of the scholastic philosophy; and he is especially remarkable as having been the first to attempt moulding into a scientific shape, that which has been called the argument à priori for the existence of the Supreme Being. It is hardly necessary to remark, that these speculations, and all other ecclesiastical and theological writings for several aģes afterwards, were composed in Latin. The excuse of ignorance among the clergy, so artlessly assigned in the Anglo-Saxon times as a reason for writing in the living tongue, was no longer to be listened to: and the practice of freely publishing such knowledge to the laity was heretical in the eyes of those ecclesiastical chiefs, who now sat in the chairs of Aidhelm and Ælfric.
4. The abstract speculations of Lanfranc and Anselm were but slowly appreciated or emulated in England. Their effects, however, may be traced, to some extent, in the theological and other writings of the two most learned men whom the country possessed during the next century. John of Salisbury, befriended by Thomas à Becket, did himself honour by the fidelity which he maintained towards his patron; and he may be reckoned an opponent, not very formidable, of the scholastic philosophy. Peter of Blois
, brought from France, became the king's secretary and an active statesman.
In the thirteenth century, when the teaching of Roscellinus and Abelard had made philosophy the favourite pursuit of all the most active-minded scholars throughout Europe, England possessed names which in this field stood higher than any others. Alexander de Hales, called “ The Irrefragable Doctor," was a native of Gloucestershire; but he was educated and lived abroad. “The 6. ab. 1265, 2 Subtle Doctor,” Joannes Duns Scotus, was born either
d. 1808. I in Northumberland or Berwickshire, received his education from the Franciscan friars at Oxford, taught and wrote with extraordinary reputation both there and at Paris and Cologne, and died in the prime of life. He was one of the most acute of thinkers, and founded a characteristic system of philosophical doctrine.
In the same age, while Scotland sent Michael Scot into Germany to prosecute physical science with a success which
earned for him the fame of a sorcerer, a similar course was followed at Oxford and Paris, and a similar character acquired 6. ab. 1214, through labours still more valuable, by Roger Bacon,
a Franciscan friar. This great man's life of scientific experiment and abstruse reflection was embittered, not only by the fears and suspicions of the vulgar, but by the persecutions of his ecclesiastical superiors. His writings abound with curious conjectures, asserting the possibility of discoveries which have actually been made in modern times. In his supposed invention of gunpowder, we may perceive the foundation of the story which was told, how the fiend, to whom the heretical wizard had sold himself, carried away his victim in a whirlwind of fire.
5. The unsettled state of the languages spoken in England co-operated with the clerical tendencies, in causing the Latin to become the vehicle of almost all Historical writing.
Very few works of this class possessed, till much later, any literary merit; but very many of them, still extant, are valuable or curious as records of facts. A considerable nu er of Chronicles were kept in the monasteries, furnishing, from one quarter or another, a series which extends through the greater part of the Middle Ages. The individual Historians, all of them ecclesiastics, were very numerous. Among those who have claims to notice for skill in writing, William of Malmesbury, one of the earliest, (but virtually belonging to the twelfth century,) deserves honour as an industrious and candid investigator of early * traditions. The history of Geoffrey of Monmouth is notorious for its unsifted mass of legendary fiction; but the poetical student cannot well be ungrateful to the preserver of the fable of Arthur, and of the stories, hardly better vouched, of Lear and Cymbeline. The vain and versatile Girald de Barri, best known by the name of Giraldus Cambrensis, has left elaborate historical and topographical works, notable for their national partialities, especially in Irish affairs, but very lively both in narrative and description. The principal work of Matthew Paris, a Benedictine monk of Saint Albans, shows close acquaintance with the events of his times, and is written with very great spirit. Its freedom of dealing with church questions made it a favourite authority with the early Reformers.
Of the many other historians and chroniclers, it may be enough to name, as perhaps possessing greater importance than the rest, Henry of Huntingdon, Gervase of Tilbury, Roger de Hoveden, and the recently discovered Jocelin de Brakelonde.
6. The classical knowledge of the times was tested more severely by composition in Latin Verse, which was practised actively by some of those historical writers, as well as by many others; and the success is allowed to have been surprisingly great. Besides innumerable small pieces, there were several very ambitious attempts, the best of which were the two epics d. att. of Josephus Iscanus, that is, Joseph of Exeter. His 1200. S “ Antiocheis,” celebrating the third crusade, is almost entirely lost : his poem “On the Trojan War” has so much of classical purity, that, after the general revival of learning, it was several times printed as a work of Cornelius Nepos. Geoffrey de Vinsauf's didactic poem “On the New Poetry,” is a treatise on composition, whose showy affectations, obtaining a popularity refused to his more correct contemporaries, have been blamed for some part of the false taste that soon prevailed. But the most amusing of all our early classical poems is a satire called “The Mirror of Fools," written by Nigel Wircker, a monk of Canterbury. The hero, Brunellus, is literally an ass, who, ambitious of distinction, studies in the university of Paris, and enters successively all the monastic orders. Dissatisfied both with the learned men and the monks, he sets about forming a new sect of his own; but, caught by his old master, he is compelled to resume his natural station, and close his life in carrying panniers.
In the thirteenth century the studies of philologers were extended to Greek and Hebrew, chiefly after the example had been set by Robert Grossetête or Grosthead, the universally accomplished Bishop of Lincoln.
THE IRREGULAR LATIN LITERATURE.
7. Before the time when Bacon and Michael Scot were said to have dealt with supernatural beings, the people of England had really begun to be possessed by a spirit which was destined soon to exert tremendous power, the spirit of resistance to tyranny and abuse, both ecclesiastical and secular. The Latin tongue became, somewhat oddly, one of the spells used for the evocation.
There had arisen, in the lowest times of classical taste, a fashion of ending Latin verses with rhymes. When the versification of some of the modern tongues had been partly formed, Latinists imitated it, not only rhyming their lines, but constructing them by accent, with a convenient disregard of quantity. Much devotional poetry was written after this model
, and not a little of it in our own country. But the most curious specimens are a huge number of pieces, still preserved, in which verses so framed are made the medium of personal and public satire.
Such attacks on the clergy and the church began about the
middle of the twelfth century, and can be traced far onward in the next. The boldness of invective would be incredible, especially since churchmen were almost always the writers; were we not to remember the peculiar position of the church in England, and also several special circumstances in the history of the time. The most lively and biting of our satires of this class are connected by a whimsical thread. The hero is an imaginary priest called Golias, who is at once a personification of the worthless ecclesiastics, and the mouthpiece of the body in their remonstrances to their rulers; while he is occasionally made a bishop, when his elevation helps to give point to a sarcasm directed against the dignified clergy. From the humorously and coarsely candid “ Confession of Golias” are extracted the verses which have so often been quoted as a drinking-song, and attributed to d. aft, Walter Map or Mapes.* For this and other reasons, it is 1196. } believed that the character oʻ the hero may have been invented, and that in all likelihood many of the poems were written, by Mapes; a man of knowledge as well as wit and fancy, who might have been named as the author of a curious miscellany in Latin prose, and will come in our way immediately as a writer in another field. He was a favourite of Henry the Second, and promoted by him to the archdeaconry of Oxford, and to other benefices.
With the reign of John begins a new series of Latin pasquinades, levelled at the political questions of the day, and all embracing the popular side. The king and his successor are lashed unsparingly; the persons praised are De Montfort, and the other barons who opposed the crown. The Latin, however, although the appropriate organ of circulation among the clergy, was not so for any other audience. It continued to be used, but less and less; the Norman-French became more frequent, a fact which seemingly indicates a design of the writers to obtain a hearing among the nobles and their retainers; and, towards the end of our period, the English dialect of the day was almost the only medium of this satirical minstrelsy. About the close of the century, the ballad-makers employed themselves in fanning that
patriotic hatred of Frenchmen, which the wars of Edward the First made it desirable for the descendants of the Normans to foster; and the Scots, for similar reasons, were libelled with equal goodwill. One piece, a bitter complaint of oppression of the poor by the nobles and higher churchmen, purports to have been written by an outlaw in the greenwood, and thrown on the highway to be picked up by passengers.
* Meum est propositum in taberna mori.
8. The dignity of the Roman tongue was hardly infringed further by the jests of Golias and his confederates, than it was by another use to which it was frequently put in the times under review, and by which the later poetry of Europe profited largely.
It became the means of preserving and transmitting an immense stock of Tales, which otherwise would inevitably have been lost, and which, from those days down to our own, have een the germs of the finest poetical inventions. Such stories found, on various pleas, ready admission into works of a very serious kind : and, in particular, the want of critical judgment with which history was written, gave room for the grave relation of many legends of the wildest character. One of our countrymen, already named, Gervase of Tilbury, in an historical work presented to his patron the Emperor of Germany about the beginning of the thirteenth century, inserted a special section “On the Marvels of the World.” It abounds with the strangest fictions, which reappeared again and again for centuries; and one of its superstitious legends suggested to Sir Walter Scott - the combat of Marmion with the spectre-knight. Other churchmen employed their leisure in collecting stories avowedly fictitious : and among these was an English Cistertian monk, Odo de Cerinton, who, a little earlier than Gervase, compiled a very curious mass of moral fables and other short narratives.
Many scattered inventions of the sort travelled from the East, in the course of that constant communication with Asia which was maintained in the age of the Crusades : and from that quarter came the earliest of those collections, in which the separate tales were linked together by one consecutive story. This was the Indian romance of Sindabad; which, through the Hebrew and Greek, passed into the Latin, and thence into every living tongue of Europe, appearing both in prose and verse, and being
made to assume new names and manners in each of its new shapes. It is commonly known as “The Seven Sages,” and underwent its last stage of decay in becoming one of our own common chap-books. In its most usual form, the outline which connects the parts together is this. The son of a Roman emperor is condemned to death by his father, on the instigation of an evil-minded step-mother : and, warned by a magician, he remains obstinately silent, though he had it in his power to exculpate himself completely. The seven wise men who were the imperial counsellors endeavour to move their lord to mercy, by telling him tale after tale to prove the danger of rash judgments: the empress strives to destroy the effect of each lesson, by a tale inculcating justice or promptitude: and the prince's life is thus preserved, till, the appointed days of